Monday, August 29, 2011

America Running Scared and Paying Through the Nose

Here is a bit from an article by Glenn Greenwald in Salon magazine that holds up America's waste of money on "security":
The Los Angeles Times examines the staggering sums of money expended on patently absurd domestic "homeland security" projects: $75 billion per year for things such as a Zodiac boat with side-scan sonar to respond to a potential attack on a lake in tiny Keith County, Nebraska, and hundreds of "9-ton BearCat armored vehicles, complete with turret" to guard against things like an attack on DreamWorks in Los Angeles. All of that -- which is independent of the exponentially greater sums spent on foreign wars, occupations, bombings, and the vast array of weaponry and private contractors to support it all -- is in response to this mammoth, existential, the-single-greatest-challenge-of-our-generation threat:
"The number of people worldwide who are killed by Muslim-type terrorists, Al Qaeda wannabes, is maybe a few hundred outside of war zones. It's basically the same number of people who die drowning in the bathtub each year," said John Mueller, an Ohio State University professor who has written extensively about the balance between threat and expenditures in fighting terrorism.
Last year, McClatchy characterized this threat in similar terms: "undoubtedly more American citizens died overseas from traffic accidents or intestinal illnesses than from terrorism."


Despite these increasing economic insecurities -- actually, precisely because of them -- the sprawling domestic Security State continues unabated. The industry journal National Defense Magazine today trumpets: "Homeland Security Market ‘Vibrant’ Despite Budget Concerns."


Meanwhile, much of the anti-Terrorism weaponry in the U.S. ends up being deployed for purposes of purely domestic policing. As the LA Times notes: those aforementioned BearCats are "are now deployed by police across the country; the arrests of methamphetamine dealers and bank robbers these days often look much like a tactical assault on insurgents in Baghdad." Drones are used both in the Drug War and to patrol the border. Surveillance measures originally justified as necessary to fight foreign Terrorists are routinely turned far more often inward, and the NSA -- created with a taboo against domestic spying -- now does that regularly.

Exaggerating, manipulating and exploiting the Terrorist threat for profit and power has been the biggest scam of the decade; only Wall Street's ability to make the Government prop it up and profit from the crisis it created at the expense of everyone else can compete for that title. Nothing has altered the mindset of the American citizenry more than a decade's worth of fear-mongering So compelling is fear-based propaganda, so beholden are our government institutions to these private Security State factions, and so unaccountable is the power bestowed by these programs, that even a full decade after the only Terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, its growth continues more or less unabated.
What is truly tragic is that the billions spent of "security" is happening while teachers, police, and firemen are being laid off, libraries closed, parks and recreation facilities closed, and people hunker down in a new Dark Ages secure in the knowledge that billions are being spent to "protect" them from the big bad bogeyman Al Qaeda while their bargain with the Devil has turned America's future into ashes.

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