19 February 2006

"Cyber Storm": Government gears up against political dissenters

It appears that the Bush administration is so afraid of bloggers who challenge the administration's actions that they are holding "war game" exercises in dealing with us.

From a piece by Will Pitt for truthout:
They called it "Cyber Storm," and it was a war-game exercise run last week by the Department of Homeland Security. The war game had nothing to do with testing the security of our shipping ports, borders, infrastructure or airports. "Cyber Storm" was testing the government's ability to withstand an onslaught of information and protest from bloggers and online activists.

"Participants confirmed," wrote the Associated Press, that "parts of the worldwide simulation challenged government officials and industry executives to respond to deliberate misinformation campaigns and activist calls by Internet bloggers, online diarists whose "Web logs" include political rantings and musings about current events."

Say what? Online expressions of political opinion are so dangerous that the Department of Homeland Security must war-game scenarios to deal with them? Bloggers are potential terrorists now? Bloggers are the enemy? Last week, as far as DHS was concerned, they were.

We hear a great deal about enemies these days. Don't criticize the war, or you'll embolden the enemy. The enemy is clever and cruel. Stick with the White House and we'll defeat the enemy. Since the Bush administration no longer likes to mention the name Osama bin "Stayin' Alive" Laden in public, lest everyone remember a dramatic promise long broken, any specific definition of an enemy changes with the moment.

Sometimes, the enemy is in Iraq, and we fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here. Sometimes, the enemy is in Iran, allegedly toiling with all its collective might to manufacture nuclear weapons. Sometimes, the enemy is in Palestine, where Hamas used George W. Bush's exported democracy to take over the government. Sometimes, the enemy is an American face on a television offering criticism of the White House. Last week, the enemy was a blogger making a political expression.

The enemy is never in Saudi Arabia, though that nation is the very birthing bed of international terrorism. The enemy is never in Israel, though that nation's far-right leadership has been a good deal of the impetus behind the Bush administration's calamitous push into Iraq. The enemy is never in China, even when they smack our planes out of the sky, because they own a substantial portion of our debt. The enemy is never in Pakistan, though that nation's fundamentalist wing allies itself with the Taliban, and though they actually do possess nuclear weapons. The enemy is occasionally mentioned as being in North Korea, but not often, because we want no part of that fight.

For a time, the enemy was in the United Arab Emirates. Two of the hijackers of the September 11 aircraft were citizens of the United Arab Emirates, and the funding behind those attacks was wired through the UAE's banking system. Republican and Democratic Senators believe the UAE has been used as a conduit for the proliferation of nuclear technology.

That was then, however. A company named Dubai Ports World intends to spend $6.8 billion to gain control of the management of shipping ports in New York and New Jersey, as well as in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Miami. Dubai Ports World is foreign-owned, but is backed financially by the government of the United Arab Emirates. In other words, a nation suspected of being a significant player in the September 11 attacks is being allowed to take control of our borders. For the record, US ports handle an estimated two billion tons of cargo annually, with only 5% of that cargo undergoing inspection. The deal has already been granted regulatory clearance by the White House.
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