For a whole century, from the pacification of the Philippines in 1898 to the ongoing trade negotiations with the European Union, surveillance, and the scandals and obscene information that was closely associated with it, were key weapon in Washington's quest for global domination. Not surprisingly, in the bipartisan version of the executive in the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attack, George W. Bush and Barack Obama led the process of gradually and covertly turning the NSA into a digital panopticum, designed to monitor the communications of every American, as well as foreign leaders around the world.
What was the true purpose of this kind of unprecedented program of conducting large-scale local and planetary surveillance, which clearly hid the risks of conflict both at home and abroad? In this case, awareness of the American surveillance that has been going on for more than a century can guide us through billions of bits of information collected by the NSA and lead us to an understanding of the strategic significance of such a program for the last superpower on the planet. The past suggests that there is a lasting connection between the surveillance conducted by the US state and political scandals, and this sheds light on the unrecognized reason why the NSA monitors America’s closest allies.
This kind of surveillance not only provides intelligence information that is beneficial to American diplomacy, trade relations and warfare, but also provides an opportunity to collect personal data that can be used to exert pressure — like blackmail — when discussing important global deals, as well as on all sorts of negotiations. Thus, the NSA-created Global Panopticon realizes the long-standing dream of an empire. By pressing a few keys on a computer keyboard, the National Security Agency was able to solve a problem that made life difficult for world powers, at least from the time of Caesar Augustus, on how to control recalcitrant local leaders, who are the basis of imperial rule, with key information that is often obscene in nature. making them more pliable.
Gold vein, but with a seamy side
In ancient times, this kind of observation was costly and time consuming. But today, in contrast to surveillance by “worn-out shoes” by representatives of the American army during World War I or the FBI’s practiced penetrations and phone bugs, the NSA has the ability to monitor the world and its leaders with just a hundred and a few electronic sensors, built into the fiber optic network of the Internet.
We are talking about the all-knowing and omnipresent new technology, and people who do not have access to classified information could not even imagine its scale before Edward Snowden’s revelations. Not only is it inconceivably ubiquitous — NSA surveillance is also a particularly cost effective strategy compared to almost any other form of global projection of power. And besides, it allows you to fulfill the greatest imperial dream: to be omnipresent not only on individual islands, as was the case with the Philippines a hundred years ago, or just a few countries, as in the era of the Cold War, but - without exaggeration - on a global scale.
In times of growing need to save money spent on imperial goals, and the presence of exceptional technological capabilities, everything connected with the NSA urged Washington to take exactly this path. Reducing the cost of projection of power and the preservation of American global domination seemed very obvious, necessary for any American president in the 21 century - and so it was until the NSA documents, thanks to Snowden, did not get into the front pages of newspapers every week, and the whole world did not begin to demand explanations.
As the gap between global interests of Washington and its declining military force widens, as well as attempts to keep the 40-percent level of world weapons (2012 data of the year), having only 23% of global production, the United States will need to find new ways to dominate more economical methods. By the beginning of the Cold War, the “heavy metal” of the American army — 500 bases around the world in 1950 — could be maintained because the country controlled about 50% of global production.
But as the share of the United States in total world output falls — by 2016, it is estimated to be 17% by the year — and the cost of social security programs will increase from 4% of gross domestic product in 2010 to expected 18% in 2050 year, spending cuts become imperative if Washington intends to retain in one form or another the status of the “sole superpower” on the planet. Compared to 3 trillions of dollars spent on the invasion of Iraq and its occupation, the budget of the NSA, which amounted to 2011 in billions of dollars in 11 and allows for global observation and cyberwar, is very economical and therefore the Pentagon is unlikely to refuse.
However, this seemingly profitable “deal” actually has an unpredictable price. The sheer scale of this type of surveillance creates an infinite number of points of possible penetration, and this can be done by members of a small group of anti-war activists who infiltrated the local FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, in 1971, or Edward Snowden, who downloaded the NSA documents in Hawaii representation office in 2012 year.
As soon as this kind of secret programs become public, it turns out that no one wants to be under surveillance. Proud national leaders refuse to put up with the fact that a foreign state is following them, like rats in a maze. Ordinary citizens are outraged by the idea of the presence of Big Brother, who is observing, like microbes on a microscope slide, their private life.
During the past century, tensions between the expansion of the state and the restrictions on citizens caused the United States to observe the observation through a recurring cycle. First, there comes a period of rapid development of the striking techniques of conducting counterintelligence work, and this occurs under the pressure of participation in foreign wars; then, as a rule, the illegal use of new technologies for conducting surveillance is already spreading at home, under a veil of secrecy; and, finally, with some delay and reluctance to carry out reforms, as the press and the public learn about the terrible abuse by the FBI, the CIA or, as it happens today, the NSA. In this time interval of one hundred years - as communications from mail to the telephone and the Internet developed - government surveillance moved forward by leaps and bounds in technology, while civil liberties dragged far behind with the speed of a snail characteristic of laws and the legislative branch of the state.
The first and until recently the most spectacular round of surveillance occurred during the First World War, and also soon after it ended. Fearing acts of sabotage by German Americans after the declaration of war on Germany in 1917, the FBI and Military Intelligence (Military Intelligence) from miserable bureaucratic offices turned into omnipotent institutions designed to eradicate any manifestation of disloyalty throughout America, regardless of form, in words or business Since only 9% of the population had telephones at that time, monitoring the 10 loyalty of millions of German-Americans turned out to be incredibly time-consuming, requiring mail workers to check about 30 millions of first-class letters, as well as assistance from 350 special volunteers to volunteer direct surveillance of immigrants, trade unions and all sorts of socialists. In the 000s, conservative-minded Republicans, outraged by such a threat to privacy, began a gradual downsizing of the Washington security apparatus. This trend reached its climax in 1920, when Secretary of State Henry Stimson abolished the government's cryptographic service, making the warning known: "Gentlemen do not read each other's mail."
During the next round of mass surveillance during the Second World War, FBI officials discovered that when listening to telephone lines, an unexpected by-product was formed with great potential for accumulating political power — scandals. To counter enemy espionage, President Franklin Roosevelt gave the FBI control over all American counterintelligence, and in May 1940, with the permission of its director Edgar Hoover, this department received the right to listen to telephone conversations.
It was the phone that made Hoover a very influential player in Washington. At that time, 20% of the country's population, including all members of the elite, already had telephone sets, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation at local switching centers was able to easily monitor the alleged saboteurs, as well as the internal enemies of the president, especially isolationist movements like aviator Charles Lindbergh (Charles Lindbergh) and Senator Burton Wheeler.
But even with centralized communications systems, the Federal Bureau of Investigation needed a huge number of personnel to carry out counterintelligence work during the war. His staff increased from 650 people in the 1924 year to 13 000 in the 1943 year. After taking over the presidency after Roosevelt’s death in 1945, Harry Truman soon realized the enormous scope of the FBI’s surveillance. “We don’t want to have a Gestapo or secret police,” wrote Truman in his diary in May 1945. - The FBI is moving in that direction. His employees are engaged in sex scandals and real blackmail. ”
After a quarter of a century of listening without obtaining sanction, Hoover created a real archive of the sexual preferences of influential Americans and used it to form the main directions of American politics. He distributed a dossier about the alleged homosexuality of presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson (Adlai Stevenson) to prevent him from winning the 1952 presidential election of the year, made public the audio recordings of numerous links with Martin Luther King Jr. women, and also closely followed John Kennedy’s relationship with Jude Jude Exner (Judith Exner), the mistress of some influential members of the mafia. And this is just a small list of how Hoover used scandals to keep representatives of the Washington elite under his control.
“As soon as Hoover had anything on one of the senators,” recalls William Sullivan, head of the FBI’s internal counterintelligence in 1960, “he immediately sent a courier and reported that“ we are investigating and accidentally received this data on your daughter ... "From this time on, the senator was already in his pocket." After Hoover’s death, an official study of the materials showed that he had 883 dossiers on senators and another 722 on congressmen.
Armed with this kind of sensitive information, Hoover received unlimited power and could dictate the policy of the country, as well as launch programs of his choice. This also applies to the well-known counterintelligence program COINTELPRO, in which representatives of the civil rights movement and opponents of the Vietnam War were subjected to unlawful actions. The work against them used “black propaganda”, illegal infiltration, as well as violence in the style of agents provocateurs.
At the end of the Vietnam War, Senator Frank Church (Frank Church) led a commission investigating these abuses. “The mission of the COINTELPRO program,” recalled one of Church’s assistants, “was to destroy lives and reputations.” Because of the information discovered, the FISA courts were established under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act adopted in 1978, which began to issue authorizations for wiretapping operations undertaken in order to ensure national security.
Surveillance in the Internet era
Pursuing a search for new weapons to combat terrorism after the events of 11 September 2001, Washington turned to electronic surveillance tools, which have since become an integral part of its strategy for realizing global power.
In October, 2001, being dissatisfied with the large-scale and extraordinary opportunities provided by the recently adopted Patriot Act, President Bush ordered the National Security Agency to begin secretly monitoring private communications passing through national telephone companies without the approval of FISA courts. After some time, the NSA began browsing e-mail, financial data, and voice messages on the Internet, explaining this by a dubious theory that the “metadata” was allegedly “not protected by the Constitution.” In fact, by searching for texts on the Internet, as well as voice messages on the public switched telephone network (PSTN), the NSA gained access to most of the world's communication flows. By the time Bush ended his presidential term in 2008, the US Congress passed laws that retroactively not only legalized such illegal programs, but also prepared the basis for NSA surveillance to expand uncontrollably.
Instead of limiting the activities of this agency, President Obama watched the expansion of his operations, characterized not only by the sheer scale of listening and collecting billions of messages around the world, but also by monitoring individual world leaders.
It is the Internet that has made the NSA of such influential organizations - this global network of fiber optic cables currently links 40% of all mankind. By the time Obama assumed the presidency, the National Security Agency finally managed to master the capabilities of modern communications in order to conduct near-perfect surveillance. The NSA was able to fully control the entire planet, as well as to monitor individual people. It also prepared the necessary set of technological tools - in particular, access points for data collection, computer codes for breaking encryption, server farms for storing the collected huge amounts of data, as well as supercomputers capable of processing what is stored in nanoseconds.
By 2012, centralizing digitalization of all types of voice, video, textual, financial communications and transforming them into a worldwide network of fiber optic cables allowed the NSA to perform global monitoring by penetrating everything into 190 data hubs (data hubs) - tremendous savings of power in the field of political surveillance, and in the field of cyberwar.
With just a few hundred cable probes and computer decryption systems, the NSA can now get information about exactly the privacy details Edgar Hoover so appreciated and ensure full coverage of the population that once was brought to life by the secret service of East Germany Stasi. However, such a comparison is appropriate only to a certain limit.
When, finally, the FBI agents listened to thousands of telephone conversations, the transcribers prepared an infinite number of callouts, and the staff placed this crop of obscene content information in special cabinets that occupied floor-to-ceiling space, Edgar Hoover received information about the behavior of the elite in only one city - in Washington, DC But to collect intimate information across the country, the Stasi secret police were forced to use one informant for six residents of East Germany — this was too wasteful use of human resources. In contrast, the use of NSA technologies in Internet information concentration points now allows 37 000 NSA staff to monitor the entire world as closely, and this means that for every operative, there are 200 000 people living on the planet.
A dream as old as Rome
During the years of Obama's rule, the first signs appeared that the NSA would use the collected information to create scandals, as the FBI had done under the leadership of Hoover. In September, the New York Times newspaper 2013 reported that the NSA, using 2010, used a modern program to create “social network diagrams ..., find out as many secrets as possible about people's lives ... and collect such sensitive information as regular visits to psychiatric offices, and also night calls to extra-marital partners. ”
Spending millions of dollars annually on the Sigint Enabling Project, the NSA secretly managed to uncover all encoding options designed to protect privacy. “In the future, superpowers will be created or destroyed depending on the strength of their cryptographic programs,” emphasizes one of the NSA documents prepared in 250 year. “This is the price for providing the United States with unlimited access to the Internet and the use of cyberspace.”
Catching data — ordinary, intimate, or scandalous — regarding foreign leaders, modern America, unlike the imperial proconsuls of ancient Rome, now receives both intelligence and a kind of aura of power that is necessary for domination of foreign countries. The importance of controlling local elites cannot be overemphasized, and this in itself is a challenge. For example, in the period of peace in the Philippines after 1898, the American colonial regime subdued troubled Filipino leaders with convincing policies based on both political information and personal scandals. And that was exactly what Edgar Hoover was doing in Washington in the 1950 and in the 1960.
In fact, the powerful British empire, like other empires, was a global fabric woven from political ties with local leaders and “subordinate elites” - from the Malay sultans and Indian Maharajas to the sheikhs from the Persian Gulf and the tribal leaders of West Africa. Historian Ronald Robinson once remarked that the British Empire spread throughout the planet for two centuries through cooperation with these local leaders, and then collapsed in just two decades when it became non-cooperation. After rapid decolonization in the 1960s, as a result of which half a dozen European empires turned into 100 new states, their national leaders quickly felt like elites subordinate to the spreading American global empire. Washington urgently needed information of a private nature, which would allow to keep such social figures under its control.
Spying on foreign leaders allows world powers - before Britain, and now America - to receive critical information regarding the implementation of global hegemony. This kind of espionage activity provided special penetrating possibilities for this imperial view, this sense of superiority necessary for domination over others. She also provided operational information about dissenters, against whom, perhaps, should have used covert operations or military force; political and economic intelligence information so useful for gaining superiority over allies in all sorts of negotiations; and, perhaps most importantly, the compromising information about the violations committed by these leaders, which is necessary in order to ensure their compliance.
At the end of 2013, the New York Times reported that during the surveillance of representatives of the global elite, there were “more than 1000 objects to be monitored by the American and British intelligence services in recent years,” among which were middle-level politicians in the international arena . The disclosures made on the basis of the documents available to Edward Snowden show that the NSA monitored leaders in some 35 countries around the world - including Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Mexican Presidents Felipe Calderon (Filipe Calderon) and Enrique Pena Nieto, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. This includes, among many other operations, monitoring of “French diplomatic interests” during the UN vote in June 2010 on the Iranian issue, as well as “extensive surveillance” of world leaders during the G20 group meeting in Ottawa in June 2010 . Apparently, only members of the historically established “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom) do not appear on this list - at least theoretically - and are not subject to observation for the NSA.
Obviously, this sort of secret intelligence information can provide Washington with a significant diplomatic advantage. During debates at the UN about the US invasion of Iraq in 2002-2003, the NSA, for example, intercepted the conversations of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and also followed the “Six in the middle” (Middle Six), that is, Third World countries in the Security Council and promptly offered, in fact, bribes to obtain the necessary votes. The deputy director of the NSA for regional goals sent a memorandum to the agency’s allies within the Five Eyes group asking to “share information on the reaction to the ongoing debate on Iraq, voting plans on all relevant resolutions, and (as well as) any data that could give an advantage to high-ranking American politicians to achieve results consistent with the goals of the United States. "
Pointing to Washington’s desire to obtain compromising information at bilateral negotiations, the State Department demanded that its embassy in Bahrain in 2009 provide data on the hereditary princes that could cause damage to them in an Islamic society. “Is there any compromising information on any of the princes? Does any of the princes drink alcohol? Do any of them use drugs? ”, - this kind of information was trying to get the State Department from its employees in Bahrain.
In fact, in October 2012, an NSA employee designated as DIRNSA, that is, CEO Keith Alexander (Keith Alexander), proposed to counteract the Muslim radicals as follows: “(Their) vulnerabilities, if any, are found, will probably call into question the commitment of the radicals the cause of jihad, which will lead to the destruction or loss of their authority. " The agency also explained that such vulnerabilities could include “viewing sexual material online” or “using part of their donations to cover personal expenses”. In this document, the NSA named one potential object - “a respected member of the scientific community”, whose “vulnerability” is “promiscuity when visiting online resources”.
The Internet has been able to centralize communications, and has also moved most of commercial sex to cyberspace. There are 25 millions of obscure sites in the world, and 2013 had a total of 10,6 billion page views per month on five of the most popular porn sites, and online pornography has become a global business; by 2006, the industry brought billions of dollars in profits to 97. Countless Internet users visit pornographic sites, and almost none of them recognize this, while the NSA has easy access to information about the dubious habits of their sites around the world, regardless of whether they are Muslim activists or European leaders.
According to James Bamford, author of two trustworthy books about the national security agency, “NSA operations are frighteningly reminiscent of FBI operations led by Edgar Hoover in the 1960s, when the Federal Office used telephone wiretapping to“ neutralize ”its facilities. to detect vulnerabilities such as sexual activity. ”
Jameel Jaffer of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) warns that the next president may “ask the NSA to use surveillance results to discredit political opponents, journalists, or human rights activists. The NSA used its power for these purposes in the past, and it would be naive to believe that it will not be able to use its power in the same way in the future. ” Even in a recent report on the work of the NSA on the initiative of President Obama, it was emphasized: “In the light of the lessons of our own stories... at some point in the future, senior government officials may decide that this huge database of extremely sensitive personal information can be used. ”
In fact, whistleblower Edward Snowden, in fact, accused the NSA of conducting precisely this kind of surveillance. In his letter to the Brazilian people, sent in December 2013, Snowden wrote: “They even keep track of those who are having novels or viewing pornography, and this is done in order to have the opportunity to damage the reputation of the relevant object, if necessary.” If Snowden is right, then one of the key objectives of NSA surveillance of world leaders is not the national security of the United States, but political blackmail — as was the case with the 1898 year.
Conducting this kind of digital surveillance has great potential in organizing scandals. In this regard, we can recall the forced resignation of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer (Eliot Spitzer) in 2008 year after, as a result of the usual listening to telephone lines, it was found that he uses the services of escort girls. Another example is the resignation of French Minister of Budget Affairs, Jerome Cahusac, in 2013 year, after listening to phone lines revealed that he had a secret account with one of the Swiss banks. As always, sex or money continue to be sources of political scandal - and the NSA can keep track of these two things without much difficulty.
Given the high sensitivity of communications in the field of executive power, world leaders reacted sharply to reports of NSA surveillance. Angela Merkel demanded for her country the exclusive status of a member of the "Five Eyes" group, the European Parliament voted to reduce the exchange of banking data with Washington, and Brazilian President Ruseff canceled a state visit to the United States and ordered to purchase a satellite communications system for 560 million. to rid your country of the United States-controlled version of the Internet.
The future of US global power
By starting to transfer ever-increasing flows of NSA documents to the public, Edward Snowden allowed us to look at the changing architecture of the global power of the United States. In the broadest terms, Obama’s digital “axis” complements his overall defense strategy, which was announced in 2012. It speaks of the reduction of conventional weapons with simultaneous expansion of activities in profitable from the point of view of profitability directions - in outer space and in cyberspace.
By making small-scale reductions in the cost of expensive weapons and the overall size of the armed forces, President Obama has invested billions of dollars in creating a new global information control architecture. If we add 791 a billion dollars to the Department of Homeland Security, and 500 billions of dollars spent on the defense-related version of global intelligence for 12 years 9 September 2001, then 1,2 trillion dollars in the new apparatus of world domination.
The security bureaucracy is so powerful that in its recent government report, Obama recommended streamlining, rather than reforming, the modern practice of the NSA, which allows this agency to continue to listen in on American telephone conversations and monitor foreign leaders for the foreseeable future. Cyberspace offers Washington a suitable area for austerity, albeit at the expense of losing the confidence of its closest allies. This contradiction will complicate America’s global leadership in the coming years.