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[liberationtech] [tt] NSA Prism is motivated in part by fears that environmentally-linked disasters could spur anti-government activism

Guido Witmond guido at
Fri Jun 14 17:18:33 PDT 2013

On 15-06-13 00:30, Shava Nerad wrote:
> Technically, it's the duty of the military to evaluate these scenarios
> and act on the information *wisely*.

The original analysis read to me:
"We face severe problems that might lead to civil unrest. We need more 
population control, whatever the price. Now we also have civil unrest 
due to the population control. We need even more funds."

Isn't diverting some of the military budget on population control 
towards research to prevent those problems a *wise* action?


> It is our duty as activists to
> hold them on that and that's where everything collapses, because there
> is a crisis of trust.
> Listen, there is not a single great civilization in the history of the
> world that has not fallen to war or environmental impacts -- and many
> that have fallen to conquest have fallen to conquest as a side effect of
> (human influenced) environmental impacts of some sort (for example,
> heavy metals contributions theory of the decline of Rome
> Much as I do not trust the conclusions of the military based on the
> simulations they may run through, it is, in fact, their duty to run
> through simulations based on the four horsemen scenarios they can
> imagine.  And it is in fact their duty to to imagine that the
> environmentalists are going to trump them by lathering everyone up into
> freaking out that the sky is falling (because, nearly literally, it is,
> and the government are obscurantist cowards who want to get re-elected
> --- oops, was that my outside voice saying that inconvenient truth?) so
> just as they wiretap the Society of Friends (Quakers) in times when the
> peace movement is bucking a war effort and making their propaganda
> suppository of casus belli seem not so smooth an insert, yes -- they are
> going to track climate change activists if they are worried about panic
> in time of crop failure and rationing and empty shelves in the
> not-so-supermarkets of the breadbasket of the world.
> Short on petrochemicals?  Most of our crops are made of them you know,
> between fertilizer, transportation, and various.  Worried that
> revelations that disruptive health effects of glyphosphate (Round-up
> from Monsanto -- which is responsible for most of the corn/soy
> monocropping grown in the US now and a good proportion of other crops in
> this country and worldwide) in mammals may make revelations of DDT in
> the 60s look tame?  Oops, there goes the 20% of the grain capacity of
> our current "green revolution" phase.  That brings the planet down by a
> billion in carrying capacity, without global warming.
> These are the kinds of ecological messages that might make the military
> nervous.  (Hi, for those of you who are listening! :)  And they are
> correct to be nervous.  They should be planning for rationing and unrest
> if a severe scenario comes up -- if for no other reason than that we
> will have hungry neighbors that will make a zombie apocalypse look pastoral.
> And these are ugly scenarios to think about.  That's what we delegate to
> the military and law enforcement, ideally, as a sacred trust (the other
> side of sacred being taboo -- we don't *want* to have to ponder what
> happens in our neighborhoods when the food supply should go away for
> whatever reason and FEMA isn't the answer).
> So this is why one might, as a conservative even, think Prism is an
> UTTER TRAGEDY.  Because it represents a broken social contract by pure
> dissonance, a lack of trust so profound, a disengagement so deep and
> suppurating, that we can't even imagine any more why it is that we would
> need a military to know these things that we could trust.  (And as a
> disclaimer:  I have family in the military, and have for generations,
> and have stubborn hope these things are fixable through both
> military/DHS/civilian elected/non-elected leadership)
> The problem is NOT that these scenarios are being spun out.  They should be.
> The problem is, what is the response to each scenario proposed to be?  I
> don't see that?
> And I expect that would be in executive control at the time of crisis.
> And there's where trust falls apart.
> Because this:
> essentially repeals this:
> ...and even with my background?  I have a hard time with that.  A very
> very hard time with it.  This is not "the cat is dead and not dead."
>   The cat is DEAD, wrapped up in a brown shirt, weighted down with
> stones and dropped in the river.
> I am sorry, I do not understand how this can happen in this country
> without open discussion with the electorate.  This is not something you
> do, undermining the Posse Comitatus by a snippet of regulation from the
> executive branch.  That is not the way this democracy works.
> yrs,
> SN
> On Fri, Jun 14, 2013 at 3:26 PM, LilBambi <lilbambi at
> <mailto:lilbambi at>> wrote:
>     Thanks for all the great food for thought.
>     So much going on...
>     On Fri, Jun 14, 2013 at 10:24 AM, Eugen Leitl <eugen at
>     <mailto:eugen at>> wrote:
>         Pentagon bracing for public dissent over climate and energy shocks
>         NSA Prism is motivated in part by fears that
>         environmentally-linked disasters
>         could spur anti-government activism
>         US domestic surveillance has targeted anti-fracking activists
>         across the
>         country. Photograph: Les Stone/REUTERS
>         Top secret US National Security Agency (NSA) documents disclosed
>         by the
>         Guardian have shocked the world with revelations of a
>         comprehensive US-based
>         surveillance system with direct access to Facebook, Apple,
>         Google, Microsoft
>         and other tech giants. New Zealand court records suggest that
>         data harvested
>         by the NSA's Prism system has been fed into the Five Eyes
>         intelligence
>         alliance whose members also include the UK, Canada, Australia
>         and New
>         Zealand.
>         But why have Western security agencies developed such an
>         unprecedented
>         capacity to spy on their own domestic populations? Since the
>         2008 economic
>         crash, security agencies have increasingly spied on political
>         activists,
>         especially environmental groups, on behalf of corporate
>         interests. This
>         activity is linked to the last decade of US defence planning,
>         which has been
>         increasingly concerned by the risk of civil unrest at home
>         triggered by
>         catastrophic events linked to climate change, energy shocks or
>         economic
>         crisis - or all three.
>         Just last month, unilateral changes to US military laws formally
>         granted the
>         Pentagon extraordinary powers to intervene in a domestic
>         "emergency" or
>         "civil disturbance":
>         "Federal military commanders have the authority, in
>         extraordinary emergency
>         circumstances where prior authorization by the President is
>         impossible and
>         duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the
>         situation, to
>         engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell
>         large-scale,
>         unexpected civil disturbances."
>         Other documents show that the "extraordinary emergencies" the
>         Pentagon is
>         worried about include a range of environmental and related
>         disasters.
>         In 2006, the US National Security Strategy warned that:
>         "Environmental destruction, whether caused by human behavior or
>         cataclysmic
>         mega-disasters such as floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, or
>         tsunamis. Problems
>         of this scope may overwhelm the capacity of local authorities to
>         respond, and
>         may even overtax national militaries, requiring a larger
>         international
>         response."
>         Two years later, the Department of Defense's (DoD) Army
>         Modernisation
>         Strategy described the arrival of a new "era of persistent
>         conflict" due to
>         competition for "depleting natural resources and overseas
>         markets" fuelling
>         "future resource wars over water, food and energy." The report
>         predicted a
>         resurgence of:
>         "... anti-government and radical ideologies that potentially
>         threaten
>         government stability."
>         In the same year, a report by the US Army's Strategic Studies
>         Institute
>         warned that a series of domestic crises could provoke
>         large-scale civil
>         unrest. The path to "disruptive domestic shock" could include
>         traditional
>         threats such as deployment of WMDs, alongside "catastrophic
>         natural and human
>         disasters" or "pervasive public health emergencies" coinciding with
>         "unforeseen economic collapse." Such crises could lead to "loss of
>         functioning political and legal order" leading to "purposeful
>         domestic
>         resistance or insurgency...
>         "DoD might be forced by circumstances to put its broad resources
>         at the
>         disposal of civil authorities to contain and reverse violent
>         threats to
>         domestic tranquility. Under the most extreme circumstances, this
>         might
>         include use of military force against hostile groups inside the
>         United
>         States. Further, DoD would be, by necessity, an essential
>         enabling hub for
>         the continuity of political authority in a multi-state or
>         nationwide civil
>         conflict or disturbance."
>         That year, the Pentagon had begun developing a 20,000 strong
>         troop force who
>         would be on-hand to respond to "domestic catastrophes" and civil
>         unrest - the
>         programme was reportedly based on a 2005 homeland security
>         strategy which
>         emphasised "preparing for multiple, simultaneous mass casualty
>         incidents."
>         The following year, a US Army-funded RAND Corp study called for
>         a US force
>         presence specifically to deal with civil unrest.
>         Such fears were further solidified in a detailed 2010 study by
>         the US Joint
>         Forces Command - designed to inform "joint concept development and
>         experimentation throughout the Department of Defense" - setting
>         out the US
>         military's definitive vision for future trends and potential
>         global threats.
>         Climate change, the study said, would lead to increased risk of:
>         "... tsunamis, typhoons, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and
>         other natural
>         catastrophes... Furthermore, if such a catastrophe occurs within
>         the United
>         States itself - particularly when the nation's economy is in a
>         fragile state
>         or where US military bases or key civilian infrastructure are
>         broadly
>         affected - the damage to US security could be considerable."
>         The study also warned of a possible shortfall in global oil
>         output by 2015:
>         "A severe energy crunch is inevitable without a massive expansion of
>         production and refining capacity. While it is difficult to
>         predict precisely
>         what economic, political, and strategic effects such a shortfall
>         might
>         produce, it surely would reduce the prospects for growth in both the
>         developing and developed worlds. Such an economic slowdown would
>         exacerbate
>         other unresolved tensions."
>         That year the DoD's Quadrennial Defense Review seconded such
>         concerns, while
>         recognising that "climate change, energy security, and economic
>         stability are
>         inextricably linked."
>         Also in 2010, the Pentagon ran war games to explore the
>         implications of
>         "large scale economic breakdown" in the US impacting on food
>         supplies and
>         other essential services, as well as how to maintain "domestic
>         order amid
>         civil unrest."
>         Speaking about the group's conclusions at giant US defence
>         contractor Booz
>         Allen Hamilton's conference facility in Virginia, Lt Col. Mark
>         Elfendahl -
>         then chief of the Joint and Army Concepts Division - highlighted
>         homeland
>         operations as a way to legitimise the US military budget: "An
>         increased focus
>         on domestic activities might be a way of justifying whatever
>         Army force
>         structure the country can still afford."
>         Two months earlier, Elfendahl explained in a DoD roundtable that
>         future
>         planning was needed:
>         "Because technology is changing so rapidly, because there's so much
>         uncertainty in the world, both economically and politically, and
>         because the
>         threats are so adaptive and networked, because they live within the
>         populations in many cases."
>         The 2010 exercises were part of the US Army's annual Unified
>         Quest programme
>         which more recently, based on expert input from across the
>         Pentagon, has
>         explored the prospect that "ecological disasters and a weak
>         economy" (as the
>         "recovery won't take root until 2020") will fuel migration to
>         urban areas,
>         ramping up social tensions in the US homeland as well as within
>         and between
>         "resource-starved nations."
>         NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was a computer systems
>         administrator for
>         Booz Allen Hamilton, where he directly handled the NSA's IT systems,
>         including the Prism surveillance system. According to Booz
>         Allen's 2011
>         Annual Report, the corporation has overseen Unified Quest "for
>         more than a
>         decade" to help "military and civilian leaders envision the future."
>         The latest war games, the report reveals, focused on "detailed,
>         realistic
>         scenarios with hypothetical 'roads to crisis'", including "homeland
>         operations" resulting from "a high-magnitude natural disaster"
>         among other
>         scenarios, in the context of:
>         "... converging global trends [which] may change the current
>         security
>         landscape and future operating environment... At the end of the
>         two-day
>         event, senior leaders were better prepared to understand new
>         required
>         capabilities and force design requirements to make homeland
>         operations more
>         effective."
>         It is therefore not surprising that the increasing privatisation of
>         intelligence has coincided with the proliferation of domestic
>         surveillance
>         operations against political activists, particularly those linked to
>         environmental and social justice protest groups.
>         Department of Homeland Security documents released in April prove a
>         "systematic effort" by the agency "to surveil and disrupt peaceful
>         demonstrations" linked to Occupy Wall Street, according to the
>         Partnership
>         for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF).
>         Similarly, FBI documents confirmed "a strategic partnership
>         between the FBI,
>         the Department of Homeland Security and the private sector"
>         designed to
>         produce intelligence on behalf of "the corporate security
>         community." A PCJF
>         spokesperson remarked that the documents show "federal agencies
>         functioning
>         as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate
>         America."
>         In particular, domestic surveillance has systematically targeted
>         peaceful
>         environment activists including anti-fracking activists across
>         the US, such
>         as the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition, Rising Tide North
>         America, the
>         People's Oil & Gas Collaborative, and Greenpeace. Similar trends
>         are at play
>         in the UK, where the case of undercover policeman Mark Kennedy
>         revealed the
>         extent of the state's involvement in monitoring the
>         environmental direct
>         action movement.
>         A University of Bath study citing the Kennedy case, and based on
>         confidential
>         sources, found that a whole range of corporations - such as
>         McDonald's,
>         Nestle and the oil major Shell, "use covert methods to gather
>         intelligence on
>         activist groups, counter criticism of their strategies and
>         practices, and
>         evade accountability."
>         Indeed, Kennedy's case was just the tip of the iceberg -
>         internal police
>         documents obtained by the Guardian in 2009 revealed that environment
>         activists had been routinely categorised as "domestic
>         extremists" targeting
>         "national infrastructure" as part of a wider strategy tracking
>         protest groups
>         and protestors.
>         Superintendent Steve Pearl, then head of the National Extremism
>         Tactical
>         Coordination Unit (Nectu), confirmed at that time how his unit
>         worked with
>         thousands of companies in the private sector. Nectu, according
>         to Pearl, was
>         set up by the Home Office because it was "getting really
>         pressured by big
>         business - pharmaceuticals in particular, and the banks." He
>         added that
>         environmental protestors were being brought "more on the radar." The
>         programme continues today, despite police acknowledgements that
>         environmentalists have not been involved in "violent acts."
>         The Pentagon knows that environmental, economic and other crises
>         could
>         provoke widespread public anger toward government and
>         corporations in coming
>         years. The revelations on the NSA's global surveillance
>         programmes are just
>         the latest indication that as business as usual creates
>         instability at home
>         and abroad, and as disillusionment with the status quo
>         escalates, Western
>         publics are being increasingly viewed as potential enemies that
>         must be
>         policed by the state.
>         Dr Nafeez Ahmed is executive director of the Institute for
>         Policy Research &
>         Development and author of A User's Guide to the Crisis of
>         Civilisation: And
>         How to Save It among other books. Follow him on Twitter @nafeezahmed
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>     Bambi
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> --
> Shava Nerad
> shava23 at <mailto:shava23 at>
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