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Ichingcarpenter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-24-11 01:35 PM
Original message
A hidden world, growing beyond control- Top Secret America
The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.

These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.

The investigation's other findings include:

* Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.

* An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.

* In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings - about 17 million square feet of space.

* Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.

* Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year - a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.

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Raster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-24-11 01:46 PM
Response to Original message
1. Homeland Security has become a "for-profit" enterprise....
...just as it was intended. Brought to you by the same persons that began the "privatization" of the American military, again, a "for-profit" enterprise.
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Initech Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-24-11 04:09 PM
Response to Reply #1
11. And prisons, charter schools, the military, all our various "wars", and so on...
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Raster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-25-11 12:30 PM
Response to Reply #11
26. Absolutely! The ever-increasing evidence is all around us. And with each "privatization" we take...
Edited on Sat Jun-25-11 12:31 PM by Raster
...another step toward American corporate fascism.
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Initech Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-25-11 02:17 PM
Response to Reply #26
27. Yup - corporate fascism is a virus and it's slowly destroying us.
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hifiguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-24-11 01:50 PM
Response to Original message
2. The police state will be outsourced
for maximum profitability.
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BeFree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-24-11 01:59 PM
Response to Original message
3. Wanted
More Bradley Manning types. Y'know, true patriots.
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ooglymoogly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-24-11 02:33 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Bradly Manning is perhaps the main reason I cannot come to grips with Dem pragmatism. nt
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SDuderstadt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-24-11 02:36 PM
Response to Original message
5. Aaiiee!
Run for your lives!
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azul Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-24-11 03:25 PM
Response to Original message
6. Maybe this is why the unemployment rate seems so high.
All these people working secretly cannot even admit that they have a job. And they probably would not have to pay taxes either? Who would know?

So much for open government in a continuing state of emergency when a perpetual crisis generating apparatus is operating in stealth mode. It's beyond fear itself.
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GoneOffShore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-24-11 03:29 PM
Response to Original message
7. And yet there are those who welcome the intrusion
And feel that it is a "good thing".

We can never be too safe for some people. Forget liberty, embrace surveillance and intrusion.
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Ichingcarpenter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-24-11 03:42 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. They don't feel its 'a good thing' but say its necessary
given the times. Sort of reminds me of
Gleichschaltung type of thinking.
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Kaleko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-24-11 03:53 PM
Response to Reply #7
10. There are two kinds of collaborators
with the National Surveillance State (NSS).

1) Those who directly profit from it. These are predator types unburdened by a conscience or any sense of social responsibility.

2) The gullible and cowardly who are easily terrified by the fear-mongering tactics perpetrated by category number 1.
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MrScorpio Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-24-11 03:49 PM
Response to Original message
9. As someone who was once granted a Top Secret/SCI security clearance
Edited on Fri Jun-24-11 03:49 PM by MrScorpio
I can tell you that the Security Monster is definitely out of control
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sarcasmo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-24-11 04:13 PM
Response to Original message
12. The for profit prisons will ramp up this Orwellian nightmare in which we live.
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CrispyQ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-26-11 02:25 PM
Response to Reply #12
33. As well as the corporations that profit off of cheap prison labor.
I could kick myself for not saving the link to that story a few weeks ago. American jobs, going to American prisoners, for slave wages. It's what TPTB want for all of us.
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Kaleko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-24-11 05:37 PM
Response to Original message
13. Kick
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Name removed Donating Member (0 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-24-11 05:40 PM
Response to Original message
14. Deleted message
Message removed by moderator.
JackRiddler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-24-11 05:50 PM
Response to Original message
15. I've done quite a few postings on this series of articles...
Edited on Fri Jun-24-11 05:53 PM by JackRiddler
It's extremely important.

You could call this a survey of a hidden, permanent and unaccountable branch of government, except that "branch: doesn't even describe it: it is a realm of government, impervious to view, open only to a caste of the "cleared," making a mockery of our pretense to democracy or constitutionalism. Self-evidently the people can play no role in a system in which policies and whole agencies don't officially exist, and the key actors are allowed to lie for the purpose of concealment. (For example, to pose as other agencies, thus corroding trust in any agency.)

Since 9/11 the Top Secret realm, home to the deep state and parapolitics, has grown dramatically. Black budgets more than doubled and the majority of the funds now goes to private contractors, so that the secret state is now primarily also the private state. Operators in this realm have received the additional carte-blanche of a permanent emergency (fake but treated as real), and the legitimacy of an omnipresent deadly enemy (also largely a construct).

It is a prescription for absolute corruption. We say we don't trust politicians, we want verification and limits on all power, and we don't trust parties (at any rate, none of us here trusts the Republicans). But meanwhile we don't even know who is in charge of an $80 billion realm, except that it's a safe guess most of them are Republicans, lifetime spies, and corporate chiefs. In fact, no one necessarily knows (see below on the "Super Users").

Here are some thoughts I put together back in December at

A comparison of the US national security state to the East Bloc states may be illuminating, including for the differences.

In the GDR, the Stasi employed about 100,000 people at any given time (so figure at least that many former members, many of whom remained connected as they drew a standard pension). It ran a network of 175,000 informants so far identified. This is in a country of 16 million people. It was centralized and it was obvious. For all the stories like that of the woman who discovered her husband was actually her spy of a dozen years standing, for the most part people knew or could guess when they were dealing with their own watchers, and at any rate knew they were being watched.

The Stasi and the state had a comparatively clear internal hierarchy and chain of command and a clear primary function of maintaining the power of a centralized one-party state over a population who, while generally conformist during most periods of East German history, as a whole would have preferred to see that state disappear; as it did, in the end.

Furthermore, the Stasi was not home to a habitat for parapolitics and private or rogue initiative nearly one-tenth as rich as that provided by the giant riot of US alphabet agencies, black budget programs, front companies and, of course, the private contractors who now get most of the US intel budget money. (The latter can do other business in addition, and have more options for doing that business in collaboration with allied agencies and contractors as well as money launderers and arms and drug dealers and militias and proxy armies across a worldwide empire.)

The Stasi's per-capita internal GDP, so to speak, was necessarily lower than they would have liked, and compared to the US secret state there were fewer opportunities for profit, fewer actors worldwide clamoring to do business with them. The overseers of the Stasi could look into its compartments with relative ease, when they desired, and thus had an easier time remaining in control of it. For them, the Stasi was comparably transparent!

The Stasi kept well-organized, centralized and comprehensive records, on paper; notwithstanding a great deal of re-writing and fakery that entered from the operative level. The state and its officials did not need to develop the same sophistication of establishing cover stories for plausible deniability, and thus did not flood the world with as many levels of disinformation. It was a small world run by one big gorilla. They told their lies, nobody believed them, and it didn't matter; they got their way.

The constitutional arrangements were generally known to be fake and thus East Germany was a dictatorship that called itself a democracy, but functionally much less of a dual state.


Ola Tunander

In a 1955 study of the United States State Department, Hans Morgenthau discussed the existence of a US ‘dual state’. According to Morgenthau, the US state includes both a ‘regular state hierarchy’ that acts according to the rule of law and a more or less hidden ‘security hierarchy’—which I will refer to here as the ‘security state’ (also known in some countries as the "deep state") that not only acts in parallel to the former but also monitors and exerts control over it. In Morgenthau’s view, this security aspect of the state—the ‘security state’—is able to ‘exert an effective veto over the decisions’ of the regular state governed by the rule of law. While the ‘democratic state’ offers legitimacy to security politics, the ‘security state’ intervenes where necessary, by limiting the range of democratic politics. While the ‘democratic state’ deals with political alternatives, the ‘security state’ enters the scene when ‘no alternative exists’, when particular activities are ‘securitised’ —in the event of an ‘emergency’. In fact, the security state is the very apparatus that defines when and whether a ‘state of emergency’ will emerge. This aspect of the state is what Carl Schmitt, in his 1922 work Political Theology, referred to as the ‘sovereign’.

Logically speaking, one might argue that Morgenthau’s ‘dual state’ is derived from the same duality as that described in Ernst Fraenkel’s conception of the ‘dual state’, which Fraenkel described as typifying the Nazi regime of Hitler’s Germany. In the Nazi case, though, this duality was overt, combining the ‘regular’ legal state with a parallel ‘prerogative state’, an autocratic paramilitary emergency state or Machtstaat that operated outside or ‘above’ the legal system, with its philosophical foundation in the Schmittian ‘sovereign’. Fraenkel refers to Emil Lederer, who argues that this Machtstaat (‘power state’, as distinct from the Rechtstaat) has its historical origins in the European aristocratic elite, which still played an important role within European society after the triumph of democracy. This elite acted behind the scene in the 1920s, but considered it necessary to intervene in support of the Nazi Party in the 1930s to prevent a possible socialist takeover. However, this autocratic Machtstaat—the Nazi SS-state—was arbitrary, because of its individualised command. In his analysis, Morgenthau draws a parallel between Nazi Germany and the US dual state. Indeed, in his view, the autocratic ‘security state’ may be less visible and less arbitrary in democratic societies such as the US, but it is no less important. Morgenthau argues that the power of making decisions remains with the authorities charged by law with making them, while, as a matter of fact, by virtue of their power over life and death, the agents of the secret police… (and what I would call the security state: author) at the very least exert an effective veto over (these) decisions.

The US security state is much more complex, rich and labyrinthine, with many more compartments that do not know what's happening in the other boxes, many more storehouses of protected information, many more primary actors in the mix pursuing independent agendas in competition, and less oversight or even possibility of oversight, not just from Congress but from any authority at the top.

The US security state is not dedicated to a true primary function as a whole, despite its manufacture of hundreds of threats, but above all to its own self-perpetuation and growth. Otherwise its blind tentacles pursue thousands of different interests in 200 countries worldwide.

From the Washington Post series at /

"There has been so much growth since 9/11 that getting your arms around that - not just for the CIA, for the secretary of defense - is a challenge," Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said in an interview with The Post last week.

In the Department of Defense, where more than two-thirds of the intelligence programs reside, only a handful of senior officials - called Super Users - have the ability to even know about all the department's activities. But as two of the Super Users indicated in interviews, there is simply no way they can keep up with the nation's most sensitive work.

"I'm not going to live long enough to be briefed on everything" was how one Super User put it. The other recounted that for his initial briefing, he was escorted into a tiny, dark room, seated at a small table and told he couldn't take notes. Program after program began flashing on a screen, he said, until he yelled ''Stop!" in frustration. "I wasn't remembering any of it," he said.

Underscoring the seriousness of these issues are the conclusions of retired Army Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, who was asked last year to review the method for tracking the Defense Department's most sensitive programs. Vines, who once commanded 145,000 troops in Iraq and is familiar with complex problems, was stunned by what he discovered. "I'm not aware of any agency with the authority, responsibility or a process in place to coordinate all these interagency and commercial activities," he said in an interview. "The complexity of this system defies description."

Here the Washington Post shows its limits in failing to ask a rather elementary question: Who devised the slide-show that was too fast and long and overwhelming for the "Super-User" to follow? Obviously, someone did.

The Super-User, presumably the holder of a high-ranking office as appointed by the elected government of the United States, doesn't have the authority to take notes at his briefing, but some team, however it may itself be compartmentalized or cleared, prepared this enormous briefing and is privy to the information. Who is that? Who are the "Slide-Makers"?

My possible answer is sociological and based on the concept of caste and the organic development of bureaucracies that outlive all users, "Super" and otherwise. There is no One Driver of the Car. It's more like a herd that functions by the behavioral rules its species evolved over time, rules that the herd leader does not determine and is not necessarily more conscious of than the others.

Why can't the Super-User, whose position in the official hierarchy legally is probably superior to the Slide-Makers', command that, yes, he will take notes and go at his own speed? Who made the rules of this briefing, and who can change them? On what understanding of authority was it doubtless the case that the Super-User, before being allowed to take office, was subjected to a background vetting process by other members of the Slide-Maker caste, and does he get to vet them in return? Who wrote the vetting rules, and when?

This is the dual state in action, even within the top offices of the Pentagon. The dividing line between formal state and deep state is everywhere within the state and its industrial complexes, and can be found running through the people themselves.

But to get back to the question of the deep state's size, it must be a lot of spooks and former spooks now occupying a host of roles in our society, and enjoying benefits of their spook connections, and/or continuing to pursue spook agendas under private cover, and the most interesting questions are probably not about grocers or parish priests but Senators and news anchors and corporate chiefs and hedge fund managers and think-tank professors and gurus and popes.

Currently according to WaPo there are 865,000 holders of Top Secret clearances, two-thirds of them spread among a couple of thousand private contractors, a couple of million graduates, a labyrinth of parapolitics, all this only begins to indicate the size of the "dark matter." And we've not even begun to consider the local analogues, FBI and state and municipal police and their fifth-generation Red Squads and informants and contractors and barnacles.

Very broadly speaking it all lives from one ideology, however. On this scale very little of it can be animated from within or justified to the outside without the "national" in national security. It needs believers on the inside, and on the outside. It needs people to perceive secret agents as servants to the people, to trust that we don't need to know what's going on hidden under its enormous umbrella.


Above I only scratched the surface and showed a bias toward the chaos and "everyone's in it for the profit" aspects of an attempted map. However, large sectors of the national security state are visible (at least in outlines), highly structured and clearly hierarchical, and run on behalf of policy (which may differ from announced policy, ha ha) as set by the civilian administrations over decades and with maintenance of empire as the raison d'etre.

The machine does follow civilian orders. There are of course civilian steering committees with influence in defining policy, although that's a conditional term since these "civilians" will tend to be veterans of the Top Secret caste requiring clearance from it to assume their supervisory position. Under Bush civilian policy-setting instances would have included the PFIAB, the Cheney energy meetings and the Defense Policy Review Board, as well the complex of mini-offices set up to carry out the WMD hoax (WHIG, OSP).

There is also policy as injected by the corporate clients, notably the contractors as well as the financial sector, arms dealers, and the big energy companies. The State Department cables released by Wikileaks give a glimpse into this side, with all the examples of the USG acting as an aggressive lobbying arm for favored US corporate interests, right or wrong, and freely using threats and espionage on their behalf.

Large sectors are stable, self-perpetuating bureaucracies that just want to scare Congress into continuing that perpetuation without asking questions. (They're busy planning every possible contingency regardless of policy, and plans gradually have a habit of coming true independently of civilian-set policy.)

And all of these structures are surrounded by unknowable compartments and what I've called the parapolitical dark matter of inner rogues, networks, private operators, allied agencies, etc. So if I gave the impression the last is the only thing, well not at all.

Again, many more posts here:

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Kaleko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-24-11 09:15 PM
Response to Reply #15
17. That's a long-assed post but,
dammit, it's worth plowing through for enlightenment's sake.

Thanks, Jack.
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BeFree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-24-11 09:31 PM
Response to Reply #17
19. Yeah.... it's like a virus run amok.
And one hell of a self-perpetuating job making program.

And it will never end until it kills the host. The host of course, is us.

Thanks bushco. You done screwed the pooch.
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JackRiddler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-24-11 10:16 PM
Response to Reply #19
21. But it's much older and bigger than Bushco...
Edited on Fri Jun-24-11 10:29 PM by JackRiddler
This is the Cold War national security state, anti-communist, paranoid and nuclear. It is Eisenhower's "military-industrial complex," but equally an intelligence-media-education complex and a vast surrounding realm for private-public parapolitics.

Elements from within this realm gradually seized the nation's sovereignty on questions of security away from constitutional institutions, at first internally, in several key episodes spanning the 1950s to the 1970s. Elements from within this realm had a hand in ending three presidencies (Kennedy, Nixon, Carter) and enthroned at least three of the more recent presidents (Reagan and the Bushes) as well as presumably exercising vetting-veto power over all presidents.

The deep state metastasized after three great crises:
- exposure of enormous systemic abuses in the 1970s, after which its operators aggressively became more private and global, using the ostensible public institutions as beards for hidden network activity;
- the loss of the sustaining enemy with the end of the Cold War, after which deep state operations forced the invention of a series of new enemies and the unmooring of war from enemies at all -- permanent war in search of enemies;
- and 9/11, after which emergency power became permanent and the resources devoted to the security state in all its forms literally doubled. In many ways this phase has been a coming-out, an acknowledgement and legalization of programs and practices that had existed before, but were previously denied. For example unlimited surveillance without oversight is presented as something new due to the post-9/11 environment, although it had always been practiced and limited only by the technological means of each age or by episodes like Watergate in which operators were caught at their abuses.

The deep state now faces perhaps the greatest crisis of all, which is that the global empire is in disarray and decline, no longer able to dictate to vassal nations with the same certainty as in the days of the serial CIA coups; and this is happening during the emergence of humanity's greatest crisis and likely catastrophe ever, as civilization as a whole destroys the ecology's capacity to carry it.

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BeFree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-24-11 10:41 PM
Response to Reply #21
23. Thanks for covering it
bushco, in my mind, goes way back, and while I may be giving them too much credit for this 'new estate', it is my catch all phrase that I like to use.

It established this empire and when it did it laid the seed for it's destruction. It didn't make empire for good reasons, it made it for nefarious reasons. The public was happy to garner it's booty and looked the other way as it did, and still does. Easy to do, this look the other way.

It is depressing. I love America. Well, I love the America that was but a dream, but which allowed me greater freedom than I could have ever hoped for were I born in most any other land or time.

So it goes. I did me part.

And you, Sir Riddler, have earned my admiration for bringing the truth time and again. You are a true patriot and I wish thee well, Sir.

May your spirit live forever.
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JackRiddler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-24-11 10:50 PM
Response to Reply #23
24. Wow, thank you very much for that. (Blush)
And always go in peace, fighter for justice.

There's no doubt in what you say, about what I've usually called the Bush mob. They are a relatively small cabal or network or complex within the whole, but have played an executive and highly innovative (destructive) role.
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Indi Guy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-25-11 05:56 PM
Response to Reply #21
29. Thank you for your excellent grasp of this despicable reality...
Hopefully, with every drop in the bucket of exposure, a tipping point of awareness will occur in this country -- where the vile schemes and their schemers will be rooted out and rendered powerless.
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ProdigalJunkMail Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-24-11 05:55 PM
Response to Original message
16. I hold a TS clearance and work for one of those companies
and we supply information to other companies and the gov't. We don't pat you down, though.

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Kaleko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-24-11 09:51 PM
Response to Reply #16
20. A TS clearance being a top secret clearance?
What kind of info does your firm supply to the government?

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RandomThoughts Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-24-11 09:21 PM
Response to Original message
18. The goal is a two tier system.
Edited on Fri Jun-24-11 09:23 PM by RandomThoughts
Where only those with clearance are considered citizens, and then those not in that group get smeared, while that group gets protected.

There were names for the programs, fusion centers, and integrating 'private capitalist' into the system with governance, to form a fascist state.

It creates two information systems, one for the 'citizens' one for the 'slaves'.

And if you don't sign up to that system, then you are either targeted, or various forms of harassment and controls is attempted against a person.

There are a few varieties of that harassment, but each form is basically a non legal, non just, form of edict, not about law or social order, but about control over society.

Remember they think that 90% of all the populations are the terrorist that have to be controlled.

And they have no real controls, only the illusion of control from what they see.

It forms a cabal, although decentralized, which is the most successful model, it is also secrecy. In opposition decentralized movements against control sectors need to be used to set people free. By transparency, and advocacy for concepts of justice and compassion, and of coarse, sending the beer and travel money that is due to me.
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JackRiddler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-24-11 10:35 PM
Response to Reply #18
22. Yes, I think this is insightful. But that's not the goal, it's simply the reality we already have.
Clearance has become a form of caste.

Members of the Top Secret and above castes (and of them only a minority who are permanently esconced and networked with the power elite, actually) are privy to information and decision-making powers that we are not allowed to even know exist. (The majority of the Top Secret caste are themselves just soldiers and mid-level contract operatives with limited access, whatever's enough for their own missions.)
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RandomThoughts Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-25-11 12:16 AM
Response to Reply #22
25. Yea but the rules applied back on them for that is devistating to them.
I know lots of stuff, and never signed up with secrecy.
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JackRiddler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-25-11 02:25 PM
Response to Original message
28. kick
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JackRiddler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-26-11 01:14 PM
Response to Reply #28
30. & kick
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CleanGreenFuture Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-26-11 01:44 PM
Response to Original message
31. No amount of terrorist activity large enough to justify all this exists. If so,
where is all the terrorism?

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JackRiddler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-27-11 11:59 AM
Response to Reply #31
34. Of course not. The rationale is psychotic.
The whole world must be rearranged because of the least of its deadly threats.

Once we've all drowned in garbage and poisoned seas, we can declare victory over terrorism.
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Tierra_y_Libertad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-26-11 01:56 PM
Response to Original message
32. That "land of the free and home of the brave" thing is sooo 19th century.
We have to face up to our patriotic duty to be terrified of whatever bogeyman the politicians and generals dream up to keep us in line and paying protection money.
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