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Of spies, special forces and drone strikes
May 21, 2011 1:23 PM   Subscribe

Warfare: An advancing front - "The US is engaged in increasingly sophisticated warfare, fusing intelligence services and military specialists"

BONUS
China: Police state - "China's security machine causes concern"
Many inside and outside the country believe the Communist party has reverted to a more authoritarian stance following a long period of relative tolerance. This change, they believe, is reflected in, and exacerbated by, the growing power of the security apparatus... In recent years the amount spent on internal security – police, courts, paramilitary forces, riot squads, secret agents, informants, surveillance, internet censorship and the like – has soared. At about Rmb624.4bn for 2011, it now exceeds the country's publicly stated military budget...

One of the most obvious manifestations is the proliferation of surveillance cameras. Last month, the western municipality of Chongqing announced plans to expand its network from 310,000 to 510,000 by next year... Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, where almost 200 people died in the July 2009 riots, finished the installation of 40,000 cameras last year. The southern city of Guangzhou, one of the main export manufacturing hubs, boasts 270,000.

The expansion of the bloated security apparatus extends to less palpable efforts, including the recruitment of huge numbers of informants to the state payroll... Leaked internal security documents reveal that the ruling Communist party believes that for a police state to work properly, it takes more than the police. "[We have] put the masses in their rightful role as the most important, the most direct and the most pure source of intelligence information," wrote Yang Guangwei, political commissar of the Domestic Security Department in Shaoxing, eastern China... Liu Xingchen, police chief of Kailu county in Inner Mongolia, said more than 12,000 of his county's 400,000 residents were on his payroll.
The Arctic Sea—a New Wild West? - "Global warming is set to bring the Arctic into play as a key strategic region for the US, China and Russia. Can a stable set of rules be crafted?"
posted by kliuless (19 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
40,000 cameras? Don't see how that could really work. Do 40,000 operators watch them?
posted by Ironmouth at 1:32 PM on May 21, 2011


40,000 cameras? Don't see how that could really work. Do 40,000 operators watch them?

It doesn't matter. With ever increasing computer processing speeds and better facial recognition technology, it shouldn't be too long before a government can have a massive database that tracks every individual's movement for a given area. While that might be helpful with crime, it will certainly be helpful for repressive regimes. Hell, imagine a local DA in the US, with a grudge, who had access to that sort of technology.
posted by ryoshu at 1:43 PM on May 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Do 40,000 operators watch them?

I can't imagine a scenario with one person, one monitor - but even if so, that'd be less than one person in 100,000 in China doing this...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:48 PM on May 21, 2011


"We have put the masses in their rightful role as the most important, the most direct and the most pure source of intelligence information"

Well yes, because they always tell the complete truth.
posted by marienbad at 1:52 PM on May 21, 2011


40,000 cameras? Don't see how that could really work. Do 40,000 operators watch them?

I suspect it works like Facebook -- they don't have the resources to monitor you in real time, but it's awfully handy to be able to go back and reconstruct every aspect of your life if you ever come to their attention.
posted by indubitable at 1:56 PM on May 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


The national security state will continue to expand. Because can't roll back security. Security trumps politics. As Cornell West has bitterly observed, Obama has turned into another big killer, just like his predecessors in office. But while you can't roll back security, you can roll back the state. To do this, you need an anti-state ideology. Or at least, a small state ideology. You need to stop privileging the collective and start honoring the individual. (If that makes your teeth ache, recall: it was the ideology cherished by Nabokov.)

Because the state whose people allow it to fly across borders and kill bad guys without trial or declaration of war, is a state that will wake up one morning and realize that it has enemies within its own borders who could do with some killin' as well. You, maybe.
posted by Faze at 2:01 PM on May 21, 2011


cool story, bro.
posted by leotrotsky at 2:38 PM on May 21, 2011


Hardly need Cornel West as authority on much of anything, but take a look at this week's issue of The New Yorker. Read the piece The Secret Sharer and you will discover how widespread total electronic spying, snooping, is in the US...and that means e mails, phone calls, web sites, text messaging etc etc. It began under Bush and continues to this time.
posted by Postroad at 2:48 PM on May 21, 2011


The people who allow The State "to fly across borders and kill bad guys without trial or declaration of war" are TOTALLY different people than those who want the state to ensure that all of its people are fed, healthy and educated (and that education MUST include learning the things the State could do to hurt people). It's a philosophy that believes that The State must be the Servant of the People, not the other way around. The people with "anti-state ideology", in contrast, seem to have no problem with non-state entities, like Facebook, the RIAA or Koch Industries, acting as quasi-States, doing most of the same abuses a repressive state would. Of course, in the worst of all possible systems (which America is turning toward), the repressive State and repressive 'Private Sector' work together damned well.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:21 PM on May 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here's hoping extra-judicial killings by flying robots in foreign countries will not remain a privilege of the US. Can't wait for other nations to catch up.
posted by klue at 4:50 PM on May 21, 2011


I suspect it works like Facebook -- they don't have the resources to monitor you in real time, but it's awfully handy to be able to go back and reconstruct every aspect of your life if you ever come to their attention.
except facebook is rolling out automatic, face recognition based tagging. The reality is machine vision is getting to be pretty advanced and computers can recognize people's faces fairly reliably.
Security trumps politics.
Not really. People who prefer liberty to security have no one they can vote for.
posted by delmoi at 5:04 PM on May 21, 2011


40,000 cameras? Don't see how that could really work. Do 40,000 operators watch them?

The idea behind the panopticon isn't that you are being watched at all times, but that you could be watched at all times.
posted by empath at 5:43 PM on May 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm okay with having cameras on the streets as long as you have cameras on all the police stations and police officers, as well, and anyone can watch them. And also inside all of the congressional offices.
posted by empath at 5:44 PM on May 21, 2011


"We are getting close to the Hollywoodesque situation in which a US President might be in a position to direct an operation tactically at the lowest levels,"

Who here remembers LBJ's picking bombing targets during the Vietnam war?

And also inside all of the congressional offices.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:05 PM on May 21, 2011


I'm okay with having cameras on the streets as long as you have cameras on all the police stations and police officers, as well, and anyone can watch them. And also inside all of the congressional offices.

You know, no.. this wouldn't make cameras on the streets OK.
posted by odinsdream at 6:39 PM on May 21, 2011


Universal surveillance is going to happen. The difference between universal surveillance in a repressive society and universal surveillance in a democratic society will be "metasurveillance" (you heard it here, first). Metasurveillance will enable an individual to know *on demand* - who, for how long, for what reason, when, etc. s/he was the subject of surveillance. If metasurveillance is not instituted as a part of a democratic culture's regime of individual protections and rights, then democratic culture will gradually cease to exist.
posted by Vibrissae at 6:44 PM on May 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Remember that article about the Predator object tracking software? That's how 40,000 cameras work. Who needs operators when you have software?

April 1, 2009: Jesus people, it's not the cameras. Those are just dumb input devices. It's the data-mining software, some which doesn't exist yet. But it will get written, by thousands of smart graduate students in CS throughout the world.

Once the architecture is in place, the software can always be improved.

Universal surveillance is going to happen. The difference between universal surveillance in a repressive society and universal surveillance in a democratic society will be "metasurveillance" (you heard it here, first).

Sorry, not quite first. Check out David Brin's The Transparent Society where he predicts that the eventual outcome of mass surveillance is inevitable, but making that surveillance two-way will prevent a repressive society from forming. Steve Mann has coined the term sousveillance for this type of citizen surveillance.
posted by formless at 7:11 PM on May 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


making that surveillance two-way will prevent a repressive society from forming.

Teen's arrest for filming police marks an alarming trend

Man Arrested For Filming Cops From Inside His Own Garage

Florida Student Arrested for Filming Police

ANOTHER person has been arrested for trying to record police in Maryland.

Cops Arrest Priest For Filming Them (CT)

Teenager Arrested In North Dakota For Filming Cop

Video recording leads to felony charge ... Brian D. Kelly didn't think he was doing anything illegal when he used his videocamera to record a Carlisle police officer during a traffic stop. Making movies is one of his hobbies, he said, and the stop was just another interesting event to film.

Etc.
posted by delmoi at 12:08 AM on May 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


40,000 cameras? Don't see how that could really work. Do 40,000 operators watch them?
China has a lot of catching up to do; CCTV Image magazine estimates that the number of cameras in the U.K. is 1.85 million.
posted by adamvasco at 1:38 AM on May 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


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