Updated (see below)
In part two of the series “Top Secret America”, Dana Priest and William Arkin write about our nation’s National Security Inc.–the private/public relationship in the vast, secretive world of National Security.
“This is a terrible confession,” he said. “I can’t get a number on how many contractors work for the Office of the Secretary of Defense,” referring to the department’s civilian leadership (via The Washington Post).
Secretary Gates is speaking about the countless private contractors who are acting as combatants for the U.S. in multiple parts of the world. The two parties–private contractors and government workers–are so intertwined that Secretary Gates cannot tell the difference. And neither can the American people.
“The Post estimates that out of 854,000 people with top-secret clearances, 265,000 are contractors.” That there is a virtually complete government/corporate merger when it comes to the National Security and Surveillance State is indisputable: “Private firms have become so thoroughly entwined with the government’s most sensitive activities that without them important military and intelligence missions would have to cease or would be jeopardized.” (via Glenn Greenwald)
This is a scary thought, because it signifies that the wars in the Middle East are ENDLESS wars.
“Relying upon profit-driven industry for the defense and intelligence community’s “core mission” is to ensure that we have Endless War and an always-expanding Surveillance State. After all, the very people providing us with the “intelligence” that we use to make decisions are the ones who are duty-bound to keep this War Machine alive and expanding because, as the Postput it, they are “obligated to shareholders rather than the public interest.” (via Glenn Greenwald)
Fighting wars with no end in sight will suck all the life (money) right out of the U.S. Then what will happen? Those in power want to know how to control deficits, why don’t they start with defense spending?
How long can this be sustained, where more and more money is poured into Endless War, a military that almost spends more than the rest of the world combined, where close to 50% of all US. tax revenue goes to military and intelligence spending, where the rich-poor gap grows seemingly without end, and the very people who virtually destroyed the world economy wallow in greater rewards than ever, all while the public infrastructure (both figuratively and literally) crumbles and the ruling class is openly collaborating on a bipartisan, public-private basis even to cut Social Security benefits? (via Glenn Greenwald).
Does this secretive,massive National Security State keep us safer? Is it worth it to spend 50% of our tax payer money on military and intelligence? I tend to think not.
So it isn’t that we keep sacrificing our privacy to an always-growing National Security State in exchange for greater security. The opposite is true: we keep sacrificing our privacy to the always-growing National Security State in exchange for less security.
Until people stop believing the fear-mongering and war propaganda the National Security State will continue to grow. It will grow and grow until people realize that a bigger National Security State does not mean a Safer State. Just think back to the Christmas Day Bomber and the Fort Hood shooting. In both cases information was received, but the people analyzing the information did not detect the national security threat–connecting the dots.
“By casting the net so wide and continuing to collect on Americans and aid organizations, it’s almost like they’re making the haystack bigger and it’s harder to find that piece of information that might actually be useful to somebody. You’re actually hurting our ability to effectively protect our national security”, says Adrienne Kinne.
When republicans complain about bigger government, you never hear them complain about the National Security State on steroids. You only hear them complain about domestic spending, such as, Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, Food Stamps, and Unemployment benefits– all a smoke screen. The real U.S government–“the big government”–is at the National Security level, where propaganda, and fear are used to continue two unnecessary wars.
Update I: Why deficit hawks should care about the defense budget.