Weaponizing Anthropology: Social Science in Service of the Militarized State (Counterpunch)

The New Surveillance Normal
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Pre— critiques of electronic-surveillance focused on privacy rights and threats to boundaries between individuals, corporations, and the state; what would later be known as metadata collection were then broadly understood as violating shared notions of privacy, and as exposing the scaffolding of a police state or a corporate panopticon inhabited by consumers living in a George Tooker painting.

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Contact Contact Us Help. Never mind their obvious inability to win over critics at home, with whom they shared language, culture, common forms of socialization and enculturation, etc. Skip to main content. Thank you very much. Apologies for the many typographic and other small errors that could be found in the first version published here—the longer the document, the more likely it is that such things pass without notice, until much later. Citizen, Amazon will be a partner in assassination.

The rapid shifts in U. In the summer of , distrust of the FBI and other surveillance agencies had reached one of its highest historical levels.

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Decades of longitudinal survey data collected by the Justice Department establish longstanding U. The depth of this shift in U.

This news led to broad-based protests by Americans across the country angry about invasions of privacy—protests that lead to the cancellation of the product which produced results less intrusive than a quick Google search would provide today. Under the directorship of Admiral John Poindexter, TIA planned to collect metadata on millions of Americans, tracking movements, emails, and economic transactions for use in predictive modeling software with hopes of anticipating terror attacks, and other illegal acts, before they occurred.

Congress and the public were outraged at the prospect of such invasive surveillance without warrants or meaningful judicial oversight. Americans now increasingly accept invasive electronic monitoring of their personal lives. Ideologies of surveillance are internalized as shifts in consciousness embedded within political economic formations converge with corporate and state surveillance desires.

The NSA and the Promise of Industrial Espionage

The rapid expansion of U. The past two decades brought an accelerated independent growth of corporate and governmental electronic surveillance programs tracking metadata and compiling electronic dossiers. Public acceptance of electronic monitoring and metadata collection transpired incrementally, with increasing acceptance of corporate-based consumer monitoring programs, and reduced resistance to governmental surveillance. These two surveillance tracks developed with separate motivations, one for security and the other for commerce, but both desire to make individuals and groups legible for reasons of anticipation and control.

The collection and use of this metadata finds a synchronic convergence of intrusions, as consumer capitalism and a U. But this convergence carries its own contradictions. Public trust in and the economic value of cloud servers, telecommunications providers, email, and search engine services suffered following revelations that the public statements of Verizon, Google, and others had been less than forthright in declaring their claims of not knowing about the NSA monitoring their customers. A March USA Today survey found 38 percent of respondents believed the NSA violates their privacy, with distrust of Facebook 26 percent surpassing even the IRS 18 percent or Google 12 percent —the significance of these results is that the Snowden NSA revelations damaged the reputations and financial standing of a broad range of technology-based industries.

Convergence of State and Corporate Metadata Dreams

A critique of the rapid transformation of the American social sciences into an originally by efforts at domestic social control and counterinsurgency in the United States. Weaponizing Anthropology documents how anthropological knowledge and are harnessed by military and intelligence agencies in post-9/ 11 America to. uzotoqadoh.tk: Weaponizing Anthropology: Social Science in Service of the Militarized State (Counterpunch) (): David H. Price: Books.

These allow spokespersons from corporate ISPs and the NSA to make misleading statements to the press about not conducting surveillance operations under a particular program such as FISA, when one of the other authorizations is being used. In the neoliberal United States, Amazon and other private firms lease massive cloud server space to the CIA, under an arrangement where it becomes a share cropper on these scattered data farms.

These arrangements present nebulous security relationships raising questions of role confusion in shifting patron—client relationships; and whatever resistance corporations like Amazon might have had to assisting NSA, CIA, or intelligence agencies is further compromised by relations of commerce. Citizen, Amazon will be a partner in assassination.

The Internet developed first as a military-communication system; only later did it evolve the commercial and recreational uses distant from the initial intent of its Pentagon landlords.

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The rise of e-commerce, and the soft addictive allure of social media, rapidly transforms U. While secrecy shrouds our understanding of these relationships, CIA history provides examples of some ways that intelligence operations have supported and informed past U. The NSA is not the only government-based international hacking unit spying on global competitors. Yet the leveraging of such information is a fundamental feature of market capitalism.

Anthropological Quarterly

Many countries cannot say the same. There are many historical examples of intelligence personnel using information acquired through the course of their work for personal gain, such as selling intelligence information to another power. But what we need to focus upon is a qualitatively different phenomenon: Retired CIA agent Kim Roosevelt then running a multinational consulting firm operating in Saudi Arabia denied any involvement in these bribes, but the investigation uncovered documents establishing that Roosevelt used his CIA connections for financial gain.

The most rigorous study to date documenting intelligence data being used for economic gains in stock market trading was recently published by economists Arindrajit Dube, Ethan Kaplan, and Suresh Naidu. The authors developed empirical measures to determine whether classified knowledge of impending CIA operations has historically been used to generate profits in this manner.

Dube, Kaplan, and Naidu recognized that most regimes historically overthrown by CIA coups had nationalized industries that were once privately held by international corporations; post-coup these industries returned to the previous corporate owners. Therefore, foreknowledge of upcoming coups had a significant financial value in the stock market. The authors developed a series of measures to detect whether, during past CIA coups, there were detectible patterns of stock trading taking advantage of classified intelligence directives, which were known only to the CIA and President.

Their study selected only CIA coups with now declassified planning documents, which attempted to install new regimes, and in which the targeted pre-coup governments had nationalized once-private multinational industries. They sampled five of twenty-four identified covert CIA coups meeting these three criteria: With a broader purview, Price would encounter very many US anthropologists who are complicit with power, some of whom may have also publicly denounced the Human Terrain System and distanced themselves from militarization.

The third point is one for the rest of us, non-Americans: Among those which Price emphasizes are: Part 2 of the book provides many illuminating anthropological insights into four separate documents produced by the US military in some cases with the help of military-employed social scientists , these being the Human Terrain Team Handbook , the Counterinsurgency Field Manual , the Stryker Brigade Report , and the Special Forces Advisor Guide which are not analyzed in the chronological order of their publication.

With the now glaringly obvious failures of counterinsurgency in Afghanistan and Iraq—failures predicted by critics like Price—it would be interesting to see HTS defenders, if any are left, try to argue against reality yet again.

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Maybe instead of serving as compliant boosters and cheerleaders, the mainstream media would be wise to give critics more space, and not cast them as caricatured outsiders. I had made light of the documented plagiarism in the Manual not expecting fine scholarship from the Pentagon , but Price explains why not taking that seriously is a big mistake.

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Never mind their obvious inability to win over critics at home, with whom they shared language, culture, common forms of socialization and enculturation, etc. Media propagandists were also furnished by the US Army itself, such as Robert Bateman notorious for his many jejune comments and threats on this very site who was the author of one such piece that is quoted by Price, and is now available only here.

Is it because the Field Manual cites none of its sources? The Field Manual does have a bibliography, references, and footnotes—but none of the anthropology and sociology sources that were used appear in any of those p. Why does that matter? Plagiarism matters, not because it is some sort of dispensable, superficial academic formality concocted by fastidious and pompous desk-warts, but for what it symbolizes.

Enlisting the Social Sciences

As mentioned above, the Manual does indeed have footnotes and references—and these are used selectively. Price scrutinized this selectivity and found an interesting pattern:. Finally, what Price also highlights is what the Manual sets out as the role of anthropologists: The main point made by Price in this section has to do with how, from early on just a year after the invasion of Iraq , the US military began to highlight the need for cultural knowledge, and how it envisioned the function of anthropologists: To speak of military anthropology then is to speak of the poverty of military anthropology.

The final part of the book is a mixed collection of essays dealing with the present and future of counterinsurgency and drone warfare. What attracted me the most in this part of the book is that which will occupy this concluding section: This reflects a delusional quality on the part of the COIN gurus. For me, one of the most poignant comments comes towards the end of the book: As I write, the US has returned to war in Iraq, while in Afghanistan it seeks to force acceptance of a residual number of thousands of US troops to remain in the country for many years to come.

Apologies for the many typographic and other small errors that could be found in the first version published here—the longer the document, the more likely it is that such things pass without notice, until much later. Hopefully it has all been corrected now. Resistance, Rupture, and Repair: The Story of the Caribs of St.