Encircling Empire: Report #3, 18-23 September 2010

Posted on September 23, 2010 by


EE: Report #3, 18—23 September 2010

Encircling Empire Reports is a selection of essays, blog posts, and news reports covering a given time period. They are intended to be useful for those interested in: ● contemporary and critical political anthropology ● public anthropology ● imperialism and imperial decline ● militarism/militarization ● the political economy of the world system ● hegemony and soft power ● counterinsurgency ● revolution ● rebellion ● resistance ● protest ● activism ● advocacy ● critique.

Previous issues are listed here.

[Special thanks to: Guanaguanare, Uriohau, and Douglas Smith]

We recommend these as the top items of the following report:

  1. Guanaguanare’s “Belize: So The Natives Are ‘Revolting’?
  2. Adrienne Pine’s “Foreign infiltrators (Paro Cívico, Sept. 7)
  3. Barry Morris & Andrew Lattas: “Embedded Anthropology and the Intervention
  4. Sami Ben Gharbia’s “The Internet Freedom Fallacy and Arab Digital Activism
  5. Tricia Wang’s “The Great Internet Freedom Bluff of Digital Imperialism: Thoughts on Cyber Diplomacy, Cargo Cult Digital Activism… and Haystack
  6. Gabriella Coleman’s “The Anthropology of Hackers

NATION NOTES

Top Story: Belize—Neo-colonialism, Imperious Americans, and an Uprising of Villagers against Child Trafficking

Guanaguanare’s “Belize: So The Natives Are ‘Revolting’?” is our must read for this week. The story is ostensibly about two Belizean Maya children who went missing a few weeks ago, on 30 August 2010, the burning of an American crocodile sanctuary in supposed retaliation, the role of a diviner in making those allegations, and an armed uprising. The U.S. government has issued an advisory to Americans traveling to Belize about local “virulent rumors” concerning child trafficking, the murder of children, and organ harvesting. Apparently there have been mob riots and lynchings targeting foreigners and local facilitators of illegal adoptions, where some of the adopted children turned up dead and mutilated later. Advice to foreign travelers to Belize? “Avoid close contact with children, including taking photographs, especially in rural areas. Such contact can be viewed with deep alarm and may provoke panic and violence.” Read the story for details of the disappearance of Benjamin and Onelia Rash, the suspected role of the American Crocodile Education Sanctuary (ACES), the allegations from a local diviner, and villagers arming themselves and confronting the authorities and destroying ACES. What did the American owners of ACES say in response to the torching of their property?

“It’s just unacceptable that a pre-meditated group of savages—and they are not human beings, they are savages—they should not even be out on the streets; they should all be in prison because they are not human beings. It was pre-meditated and they are savages and I am going back to see if any of the animals are alive or dead. That’s unacceptable. Belizeans should be ashamed of themselves to allow people to live in their country that are savages.”

The voice of a local commenter:

“Sorry dahlin, but lotta people think they [the children] don’t [have rights] and lotta people think the Mayans dare oppose a croc farm in their vicinity. Lotta people think only the foreigners have rights. Independence? Cho, we traded one massa for another and this new massa say we savages and have no right to be superstitious and should be ashamed of the Mayan people and listen to this: that they were doing us a huge, huge favor by opening a croc farm in the Mayan’s backyard. This new massa say all rights belong to them. We mi tink the Brits were bad….they never insulted our culture like this tho.”

More to this story:

“The indigenous Maya of Belize comprise about 12 per cent of the population and are regarded as an oppressed minority. U.S. oil companies have been encroaching on native lands for decades and the Government of Belize has been defying a Belize Supreme Court ruling promulgating the rights of the Maya to their ancestral lands.”

Make sure to read Guanaguanare’s “A Note from the Gull” at the end of the series of differing media accounts, surely a Rashomon-like ethnographic tale of neo-colonialism in an ugly world of human trafficking in peripheral zones. How would you piece the story together?

Haiti: The Promise of a Bad Example

Johann Hari’s article on Haiti in The Independent, “Suffocating the poor: a modern parable” begins with this line: “They [Haitians] democratically elected a president to stand up to the rich and multinational corporations – so our governments have him kidnapped.” Haiti is going to have a mock election this November, one designed to create certain external appearances, give NGOs the right local aura for their work, while continuing to effectively disenfranchise all Haitians, tenants in one of the West’s new international protectorates (neocolonies). If Haiti under Aristide represented the “threat of a good example,” it most surely now is the “promise of a bad example.”

Colombia: More Weapons as a Human Rights Reward

See the irony in: “US clears Colombia for military assistance” — “The US State Department said Wednesday Colombia was making progress in human rights and deserved that Congress approve giving it more than 30 million dollars in US military aid for fiscal year 2011.”

Venezuela: The U.S. Media versus Hugo Chávez

Eva Golinger (“US Media Intensifies Campaign Against Chavez”) continues her exhaustive and detailed coverage of the Bolivarian Revolution by reporting on the “bombardment of negative, false, distorted and manipulated news about Venezuela in US media,” which has increased in volume and intensity as Venezuela nears its elections. She details outright lies and distortions about Venezuela in major mainstream media in the U.S. and Britain as well, such as the Venezuelan economy in a downward plunge when “Venezuela’s economy is actually on an upward rise, despite the world financial crisis,” or that “Chavez’s popularity has fallen off a cliff” when he remains far more popular in Venezuela, according to most polls, than Obama in the U.S. Read more for some other astonishing tales spun by the corporate media, including lavishing concern and best wishes for a terrorist fugitive on CNN.

Afghanistan

In “Does the U.S. Really Want Talks With the Taliban to Succeed?” (Foreign Policy in Focus) Conn Hallinan provides an outline of supposed secret peace talks underway between the government in Kabul and the Taleban, and wonders if the U.S. is trying to derail the talks, especially as it is alleged that the U.S. is interested in keeping a “permanent” military presence in northern Afghanistan. One has to wonder why we never hear terms such as “ceasefire,” “peace talks,” or “truce” coming out of Washington—perhaps as empire nears its end, it is becoming more dangerous and more obdurate.

Almost submerged by the broader article was this excellent quote by Lt. Col. Peter Benchoff of the 101st Airborne who said that as far as the western Zhari area goes,

“Security sucks. Development? Nothing substantial. Information campaign? Nobody believes us. Governance? We’ve had one hour long visit by a governmental official in the last two and a half months.”

We’re Not Going ‘To Turn Afghanistan Into Any Sort of Switzerland’” (Der Spiegel Online International). The General with a PhD, the scholar warrior, treated by American mainstream commentators as nothing less than a genius, is the slothful author of this ordinary, vapid realization. Of course it won’t be any Switzerland: Switzerland was never occupied by U.S. sturmtruppen and their Soviet precursors. Moreover, it’s unlikely that Afghanistan will, like Switzerland, ban minarets. But Petraeus is not one for false modesty after all: in this interview, he boasts of “enormous achievements.” Perhaps the point is that the U.S. is now busy scaling down from its earlier promises.

Petraeus is not concerned with making Switzerlands. His concern is making war, and making it last. In what appears to have been an incremental, softly-softly approach to insubordination, Petraeus is now making it clear that he will not support Obama’s plan for the start of a troop drawdown beginning in 2011. For more, read Gareth Porter’s “Petraeus’ Latest Power Play: Bait-and-Switch in Afghanistan.”

Nigeria: The Problem with Africans is Their Lack of Civic Responsibility

Woe is me, the Nigeria I knew and loved is in ruins. We British tried our best to prepare them for independence, and sure we acknowledge that we are just partly to blame for what came after, but the real problem is that after Britain withdrew Nigerians reverted to life in the state of nature, at each other’s throats. This is imperial apologist Roger Kaplan’s take on a book, with the appropriate colonial title of My Nigeria (by Peter Cunliffe-Jones), in an article in the Wall Street Journal (yes, the surprises just keep piling up) titled “The Trouble After Empire.” The key word there of course is after, rather than because of.

The fact that many coup leaders and military thugs were themselves trained at Sandhurst, is barely noted in passing, let alone commented upon. That is just one of the omissions of this piece that treats Nigeria as an isolate, to be analyzed apart from the world-system, and one without a history of previously successful forms of indigenous political organization. If there is one thing that whip-wielding racists in pith helmets did not intend to teach, and could never teach to anyone, it is “civic responsibility.”

PUBLIC ANTHROPOLOGY NOTES FROM HONDURAS

Adrienne Pine at Quotha is someone whose work will likely be featured again and again in these reports, until we get complaints of too many of our trackbacks appearing on her site.

In one of her latest posts, Foreign infiltrators (Paro Cívico, Sept. 7), we follow Adrienne through her photo chronicle of a march that took place in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, beginning with the front pages of local dailies spotlighting the sale of Honduran women into sex slavery in Guatemala. She takes us to a university campus under military lockdown. Then we find ourselves under Adrienne’s Pabst Blue Ribbon hat, on the streets buying a Che Guevara cigarette lighter made in China, and giving a live interview on the spot with Radio Progreso about the march then taking place. We see more “resistance vendors” later. Then, screen shots from the television, of an opinion survey on how to deal with rising crime—one can choose from only these three answers on how best to solve the problem: “Curfew, Militarization, or Death Penalty.” Eventually all of the picture taking led to an angry confrontation, with suspicious student protesters accusing Adrienne of being with the CIA. Others were taking pictures, but as Adrienne explains:

“But there was a big problem with my taking pictures. They didn’t know me. They didn’t know what I was going to do with them, why I was there, if indeed I was collecting intelligence for a hostile agency. Even journalists, including some from Radio América, have taken pictures and turned them over to the police. People have been killed by the Honduran military and police, because of other people taking pictures. My first reaction was to flee….”

And then this, the kind of statement that always makes me go back to Adrienne’s site:

“I know better than to think I can act like I belong. My face, my accent, my mannerisms preclude that ever being a possibility. And that’s fine. But it also means I have to respect the internal security norms far more than even a Honduran might. Because of what my government and U.S. industry have done to Honduras, because of what the Israeli and Canadian governments and industry have done to Honduras, because anthropologists work for human terrain systems, because academics are rarely intellectuals in the Sartrian sense, because I am not a journalist, I am suspect.” [emphasis added]

Later, she picks out Americans dressed up as Honduran riot police, not the only recent photographed instance of U.S. military personnel directly involved in aiding suppression of resistance in Honduras. Will the mainstream media ever talk about it? Perhaps not—and that’s another reason we need public anthropologists like Adrienne, and her blog.

No more spoilers from us, go there and continue reading and watching.

HUMAN TERRAIN NEWS

BAE Systems, one of the leading contractors that served the U.S. Army’s Human Terrain System, has recently won a $6.1 million contract from the U.S. National Geospatial Agency. The purpose? To analyze the “geonames” and map the “human terrain” of Yemen and Somalia. Since the U.S. is in neither of these countries building schools for girls and carrying candy to villages, then one has to assume what we knew all along: human terrain is about more precise targeting.

PAPERS ON EMPIRE

Global Crisis: Meltdown, Contagion and Shocks: Perspectives from a Caribbean Political Economist

Clive Thomas has long been one of my favourite political economists, part of the broad tradition of Caribbean political economy encompassing the New World Movement and the late Walter Rodney, who like Thomas was also Guyanese.

Many thanks to Norman Girvan for posting the complete series of 51 articles by Clive Thomas, Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of Guyana, originally published in the Stabroek News from November 2008 to November 2009. The full title of the collection, which has just been released by Thomas, is “Global Crisis: Financial Meltdown, Contagion and Economic Shocks: Impacts and Responses”. Should that link not work, you can also download the file from here.

Embedded Anthropology: Rendering Australian Aboriginals as Dysfunctional, and Returning Aboriginals to Anthropologists’ Pastoral Care

Embedded Anthropology and the Intervention,” in the September 2010 issue of Arena, is an important article by Barry Morris and Andrew Lattas “on cultural determinism and neo-liberal forms of racial governance,” in broad terms (thanks to Uriohau for this excellent recommendation). The article focuses on what was effectively a new colonization of Australia’s Northern Territory, the militarization of Aboriginal policy, and a liberal interventionist doctrine that exploited fears of pedophilia. As Morris and Lattas point out, few of the measures taken had anything to do with pedophilia—the measures imposed included:

“the appointment of managers to oversee seventy-three prescribed communities; additional restrictions on alcohol and kava; quarantining of a proportion of welfare income; the introduction of an electronic card to monitor and restrict everyday purchases to licensed stores; suspension of the need for permits for entry to prescribed Indigenous areas; the abolition of the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP); the compulsory acquisition of townships through five year leases; and the removal of traditional cultural considerations from judicial-criminal proceedings.”

Morris and Lattas rightly argue that this project is about racial governance, aiming at disciplining and assimilating Aboriginal communities, and attacking indigenous self-determination by denying that Aboriginals have the ability to self-govern. However, what is also critical about their article is the focus on anthropologists serving the state in this effort:

“Some anthropologists have actively embraced the public limelight to articulate cultural determinist arguments which criticize both customary and contemporary Indigenous culture as the true, hidden source of Indigenous problems. Whereas culture, especially ‘traditional’ culture, was previously seen as the salvation of Indigenous remote communities, the focus now is on uncovering and eliminating the dysfunctional aspects of Indigenous culture. Under the Intervention, the rise of cultural determinist arguments has operated as a form of psychological reductionism that allows for the internalisation of moral fault. Cultural determinism has worked to relocate the internalised sources of racial dysfunctionality from the realm of inherited biology to the realm of inherited culture. In terms of the history of anthropology, this is paradoxical for cultural analyses were once embraced and used to escape the reductionisms of biology and psychoanalysis, which posited their own internalised forms of dysfunctionality.”

The authors specifically criticize anthropology professors Peter Sutton (resident in my department at the time I was doing my PhD) and Francesca Merlan. As with the Human Terrain System, vast areas of anthropological knowledge have been dismissed, in favour of a revival of the colonizers’ theory of choice: functionalism. Morris and Lattas explain how the realignment of academics with state interests has taken place in Australia, in what should be a warning (or reminder) to the rest of us.

What Do Empires Do? (That is, besides sucking)

Michael Parenti’s article, “What Do Empires Do?” has been making the rounds this week on various sites and via email. Parenti comments on the novel phenomenon we have seen since the very late 1990s, and especially after 2001, that being American empire avowal. Why is “empire,” previously rejected as nothing to be associated with U.S. actions abroad, suddenly a valued term with so many in the mainstream and on the right in the U.S.?

“The answer, I realized, is that the word has been divested of its full meaning. ‘Empire’ seems nowadays to mean simply dominion and control. Empire–for most of these late-coming critics–is concerned almost exclusively with power and prestige. What is usually missing from the public discourse is the process of empire and its politico-economic content. In other words, while we hear a lot about empire, we hear very little about imperialism.”

But is Parenti’s own definition of imperialism too classical and narrow?

[Three times in this report we see the theme of “the threat of a good example” appearing in an article. The credit for the phrase goes to Oxfam (a book I used to own and read back in the 1980s), and ultimately comes from a Nicaraguan.]

IMPERIAL CULTURE & IDEOLOGY

Imperial Decline and Fear of Inter-Racial Sex

David Rosen has a short piece in CounterPunch, “The Fear of Sex, Race and Inter-racial ‘Pollution’: Tea Party Panic,” that is worth reading for its notes on the betrayals of capitalism, false consciousness, and the fear of sex with minorities.

Remember to be as Polite and White as Possible. Our Civilization Depends On It.

While the ideal of liberalism was to try to absorb as many contradictions as possible, the new post-liberalist approach is to fake centrism by dismissing imagined extremes (that is to say whatever the post-liberal does not agree with). In some cases, they have to make extremes out of reasonable, critical propositions—the best way to depolarize politics, the post-liberalist assumes, is to decriticize and to promote depoliticization, now hailed as “moderation.”

Glenn Greenwald looks into the example of Jon Stewart’s proposed “Million Moderate March,” and the way Stewart abruptly dismisses all those jurists, dissident generals, and human rights NGOs that have spoken of war crimes committed by the Bush administration, as if their arguments were equivalent to those of the birthers.

They’re extreme, because they oppose, so we’ll just say they’re wrong. There. Now everything is calm again.

See Greenwald’s “The perils of false equivalencies and self-proclaimed centrism,” where he argues, first:

“The claim that Bush is ‘a war criminal’ has ample basis, and it’s deeply irresponsible to try to declare this discussion off-limits, or lump it in with a whole slew of baseless right-wing accusatory rhetoric, in order to establish one’s centrist bona fides.”

And then this much needed recognition of the North American fixation with the “tone” of discourse, that makes so many seem like ultra-delicate infants:

“One other point about this fixation on the ‘tone’ of our politics. Political debates are inherently acrimonious — much of the rhetoric during the time of the American Founding, as well as throughout the 19th Century, easily competes with, if not exceeds, what we have now in terms of noxiousness and extremity — but far more important than tone, in my view, is content.  For instance, Bill Kristol, a repeated guest on The Daily Show, is invariably polite on television, yet uses his soft-spoken demeanor to propagate repellent, destructive ideas. The same is true for war criminal John Yoo, who also appeared, with great politeness, on The Daily Show. Moreover, some acts are so destructive and wrong that they merit extreme condemnation (such as Bush’s war crimes). I don’t think anyone disputes that our discourse would benefit if it were more substantive and rational, but it’s usually the ideas themselves — not the tone used to express them — that are the culprits.”

Ishmael Reed’s “Black Men and the White Left: Why Some White Progressives Make Me Sick,” is not entirely novel, just very necessary.

ACTIVISM AND THE WEB:
FREE ALI ABDULEMAM; THE HAYSTACK FIASCO; THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF HACKERS; ISRAELI WEB MONITORING IN PENNSYLVANIA

Free Ali Abdulemam

Protest the crackdown against dissent in Bahrain, and the imprisonment and torture of human rights defenders and web activists—support the Free Ali Abdulemam campaign—click on the image for more information.

Good Luck Finding that Revolution

Remember the “Iranian Twitter Revolution,” that was largely not Iranian, not built via Twitter, and not a revolution? Our skepticism, though unique and isolated back in June of 2009 in a sea of enthusiasm, has been largely vindicated. Now here is the result of the work done by one of the American revolutionaries-on-Iranians’-behalf, surveillance circumvention software for Iranians called Haystack, that in fact facilitated surveillance:

Technology fetishes and imaginary revolutions — Haystack and the hype” on War in Context, provides us with a good overview of the hype surrounding Haystack as a way of supporting Iranian dissidents, and the level of support and applause it attracted from the U.S. government and mainstream media. The article also contains a review of its spectacular failure and the profoundly unethical nature of this anti-censorship experiment. Beyond that, the article also raises questions about trust, risk and expertise:

“As technological expertise has become progressively more specialized, the gap between user knowledge and producer knowledge becomes increasingly wider — to a point where for the vast majority of people, every piece of technology upon which we depend operates in ways utterly beyond our understanding.

“Whereas the ability to understand how things work once formed many strands of common knowledge, we now share common ignorance. We pursue knowledge down much narrower tracks and on this basis repeatedly make naive assumptions about expertise whose quality we are unqualified to assess.”

For more on the Haystack fiasco, see:

  • The Great Internet Freedom Bluff of Digital Imperialism: Thoughts on Cyber Diplomacy, Cargo Cult Digital Activism… and Haystack,” at Cultural Bytes— “Projects like Haystack reveal so much more about our own fears of the world. But the bottom line is that Haystack was blown out of proportion from the very beginning for something that it wasn’t. The Haystack Affair, however, is not an isolated incident; it is a continuation of projects coming from Westerners who place their own narratives on people and situations they really don’t fully understand….” A great post for its useful notes on “digital imperialism;”
  • A great article from Jillian C. York, “Haystack and Media Irresponsibility” : “What I don’t think has been raised loudly enough is an objection to the manner in which the media handled the nascent tool….” –her dissection of the ample flaws and gullibility of the media is methodical, comprehensive, and appropriately devastating. Her conclusions? “I certainly blame Heap and his partners–for making outlandish claims about their product without it ever being subjected to an independent security review, and for all of the media whoring they’ve done over the past year. But I also firmly place blame on the media, which elevated the status of a person who, at best was just trying to help, and a tool which very well could have been a great thing, to the level of a kid genius and his silver bullet, without so much as a call to circumvention experts;”
  • Evgeny Morozov, “Were Haystack’s Iranian testers at risk?” at Foreign Policy; “Haystack is the Internet’s equivalent of the Bay of Pigs Invasion. It is the epitome of everything that is wrong with Washington’s push to promote Internet Freedom without thinking through the consequences and risks involved…” – and this interesting quote from a member of the Censorship Research Center that is behind Haystack, relating U.S. foreign policy to software production, revealing a public-private cyberactivism industry: “I know that circumvention tool projects, commercial or non-profit, are by in large dependent on the government funding. The government funding is highly policy driven. If Iran’ss nuclear issue is on the top of the news, this translates to various sorts of ‘democracy funds’ and some of those funds end up in the hand of circumvention community. There is pretty much no other easy way of funding these projects for their service to countries like Iran.”
  • Evgeny Morozov, “The Great Internet Freedom Fraud: How Haystack endangered the Iranian dissidents it was supposed to protect,” at Slate; “It’s not surprising that the discourse about America in Iran would be infected by conspiracy theories. But this is what happens when you make an unthinking push to liberate the world one tweet and one Google search at a time. Buzzwords like ‘21st-century statecraft’ and ‘Internet freedom’ sound good in PowerPoint presentations, but the State Department can’t just snap its fingers and fix everything for Iranians by creating a free Internet. The reality is that ‘digital diplomacy’ requires just as much oversight and consideration as any other kind of diplomacy;”
  • Evgeny Morozov, “One Week Inside the Haystack,” at Foreign Policy;
  • Cryptography, Iran and America—Worse than useless: An American government attempt to help Iranian dissidents backfires,” at The Economist;
  • Needles in a Haystack: A 20-something named Austin Heap has found the perfect disguise for dissidents in their cyberwar against the world’s dictators,” at Newsweek, containing (among other items worthy of note) a simple yet often missed admission: “democratizing technologies were supposed to lead to democracy. They didn’t. Only later did people realize that the technology was just a tool; what mattered was how it was used” ;

(Heap once declared: “Don’t piss off hackers who will have their way with you. A mischievous kid will show you how the Internet works.” YAWN. Here’s a ZA memo to the self-empowered, tech-addicted, twenty-something gurus who slay dragons on World of Warcraft and say “game on” to real world opponents: um, n00b, you just got pwned.)

Internet Freedom?

Sami Ben Gharbia authored an extensive article, receiving a lot of positive commentary, titled “The Internet Freedom Fallacy and Arab Digital Activism.” This is a must read. The focus of his article is “grassroots digital activism in the Arab world and the risks of what seems to be an inevitable collusion with U.S foreign policy and interests.” He is especially concerned about the “Internet Freedom” mantra emanating from the U.S. State Department, and how Arab digital activism could become coopted and thus defeated as an adjunct of U.S. foreign policy. He notes that “none of the most successful digital activism campaigns and initiatives that have marked this field with innovative and creative approaches in dealing with sensitive topics have been funded by any of the Western governments, institutions, or donors.” Of especial importance is the article’s spotlight on the revolving door between social media corporations and the U.S. government, and U.S. State Department funded research at Harvard that we might call “Internet Terrain Mapping.” Is the U.S. interested in “internet freedom,” or is it just interested in such freedom when it comes to Iran and China?

Gharbia notes in this vein the ideology behind the anti-censorship software:

“While Haystack and Freegate are the kind of ‘ideological circumvention tools’ openly targeting specific countries, mainly China and Iran (like many NGOs that have been created in the West since the 2009 post-election protest), it’s overwhelming clear that other circumvention tools providers and promoters, who claim to address Internet filtering globally, have their attention drawn towards almost the same countries. Sesawe, that presents itself as ‘a global alliance dedicated to bringing the benefits of uncensored access to information to Internet users around the world,’ has followed its counterparts’ pattern in giving a preferential attention to Iran and China in disregard with what’s going on in other countries ‘where Sesawe matters.’ Psiphon, the award winning anti-censorship technology, is giving much attention in the form of tweets to Iran and China too and has been promoting Psiphon proxy nodes via Twitter.”

He summarizes, “there are many other reasons to be skeptical about the prospects of the US involvement in support of Internet freedom under authoritarian regimes that can cause a huge damage to that same freedom, thereby achieving the opposite results than the ‘well-intentioned’ and proclaimed ones.” He examines the work of several U.S. think tanks and U.S. funded “dissident” projects, and calls for Middle East activists to remain independent and apart from such efforts.

“Internet Freedom,” we might note, is rich in hypocrisy when mouthed by U.S. officials, given the fact that the U.S. itself engages in Web censorship, with at least 60 websites on the U.S. SDN list that have been shut down. The U.S.’ persistent jamming of the Taleban’s English-language website—lest we might, as supposedly independent and free citizens, learn something—shows how Internet freedom is anathema to U.S. strategic interests, even if it means keeping its own citizens uninformed and in the dark.

The Anthropology of Hackers” is an article in The Atlantic by Gabriella Coleman (anthropologist in media, culture, and communication at NYU), where she essentially takes us through the content and thinking behind her course on hackers, week by week. It is perhaps the only time I have seen a course syllabus turned into an interesting article.

Surveillance and the Web: Israeli Monitoring of American Web Users

Israeli Company Hired by State Government to Spy on Pennsylvanians and Other Americans,” by Dave Lindorff at Common Dreams:

“The surprise disclosure that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, through its state Homeland Security Agency, along with a number of local police departments in the state, have been employing a private Israeli security company with strong links to Mossad and the Israeli Defense Force grows increasingly disturbing when the website of the company, called the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response, is examined.

“ITRR’s slick site at http://www.terrorresponse.org features a homepage image of an armor-clad soldier or riot policeman preparing to fire an automatic pistol, while the company boasts of being ‘the preeminent Israel/American security firm, providing training, intelligence and education for clients across the globe’.”