How to Fund an American Police State | The Nation

6 Mar

All told, the federal government has appropriated about $635 billion, accounting for inflation, for homeland security–related activities and equipment since the 9/11 attacks. To conclude, though, that “the police” have become increasingly militarized casts too narrow a net. The truth is that virtually the entire apparatus of government has been mobilized and militarized right down to the university campus….

Government budgets at every level now include allocations aimed at fighting an ephemeral “War on Terror” in the United States. A vast surveillance and military buildup has taken place nationwide to conduct a pseudo-war against what can be imagined, not what we actually face. The costs of this effort, started by the Bush administration and promoted faithfully by the Obama administration, have been, and continue to be, virtually incalculable. In the process, public service and the public imagination have been weaponized.

Farewell to Peaceful Private Life

We’re not just talking money eagerly squandered. That may prove the least of it. More importantly, the fundamental values of American democracy—particularly the right to lead an autonomous private life—have been compromised with grim efficiency. The weaponry and tactics now routinely employed by police are visible evidence of this.

And then there’s the “fusion centers,” which have nothing to do with atomic power of with avant-garde cuisine. It’s about gather information together and letting all the government snoops read it:

Working with the Department of Justice in the wake of 9/11, [Homeland Security] launched what has grown into seventy-two interlinked state “fusion centers”—repositories for everything from Immigration Customs Enforcement data and photographs to local police reports and even gossip. “Suspicious Activity Reports” gathered from public tipsters—thanks to Homeland Security’s “if you see something, say something” program—are now flowing into state centers. Those fusion centers are possibly the greatest facilitators of dish in history and have vast potential for disseminating dubious information and stigmatizing purely political activity. And most Americans have never even heard of them.

Yet fusion centers now operate in every state, centralizing intelligence gathering and facilitating dissemination of material of every sort across the country. Here is where information gathered by cops and citizens, FBI agents and immigration officers goes to fester. It is a staggering load of data, unevenly and sometimes questionably vetted, and it is ultimately available to any state or local law-enforcement officer, any immigration agent or official, any intelligence or security bureaucrat with a computer and network access.

For example, it seems that where Pennsylvania has been keeping tabs on opponents of fracking, Florida  is worried about Ron Paul supporters.

via How to Fund an American Police State | The Nation.

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