For this essay Chapter Five ‘Surveil Ordinary Citizens’ of Noami Wolf’s The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot is chosen for analysis. Wolf talks about the dangers of succumbing to internal security measures, which are just a facade for government control over civilian thought and act. Wolf makes salient comparisons between the post 911 situation in America and similar historical episodes under the Nazi and Fascist regimes. And to the reader’s alarm there are striking similarities between the methods and devices employed by these governments in censoring and subordinating the general population. This essay will argue in support of the points and concerns raised by the author by citing evidence from credible scholarly sources.
It was anti-Semitism and fervent nationalism that consolidated government control of German, Italian and Chinese populations respectively in the bygone era. In today’s geo-political situation, terrorism is the most discussed issue in public discourse. Ever since the September 11, 2001 attacks on America, it has been a major pre-occupation of American diplomatic and military efforts. Since the United States is the leader of the prevailing uni-polar world, terrorism now has implications for all countries associated with it. In the context of the ongoing War on Terror, the concept of Islamist jihad is seen as the ideological springboard for the numerous suicide attacks witnessed recently. As a measure to retaliate and prevent terror attacks, America and its allies have initiated several counter-terror operations in perceived geo-political hotspots. To complement these efforts, the scale and scope of counter-intelligence operations are also upped. (Mcgrath, 2004, p.147) But the term counter-intelligence darkly reminds the reader of the CoIntelPro regime of the Cold War period, where the state abused its power to keep a check on citizen freedoms. Curbing civil liberties under whatever guise is seldom a progressive move, as examples from past and present clearly show:
“Tyrants place populations under surveillance because that is a prime means of control. The Gestapo, the NKVD, the KGB, the Stasi, and the Chinese Politburo all requisitioned private data such as medical, banking, and library records; now, with the Internet, Chinese authorities track citizens’ computer use. One reason dictators demand access to such private data is that this scrutiny breaks down citizens’ sense of being able to act freely against those in power…” (Wolf, Chapter 5, p.81)
While counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence operations might have legitimate causes in certain exceptional cases, today it has come to represent hegemony and power. The record of the United States, especially under eight year reign of George W. Bush speaks ill of the notion of counter-intelligence. Interrogators working on the War on Terror project have resorted to such dehumanizing tactics such as solitary confinement in nudity in order to elicit intelligence information from suspects. Interrogators were learnt to have imposed nudity as a way of inducing ‘learned helplessness’ – which is akin to the psychological subjugation of American public to the domination and control by the elite business and political class. The Obama administration continued this tactic with Pfc. Bradley Manning. Whistle-blowers are being held naked in solitary confinement, “while our political establishment, a complicit media, and a professional class of lawyers and behavioral scientists attempt to veil American atrocities. Current targeted assassinations of American citizens, landmines, torture, and military tribunals sadly converge with the Bush-Cheney era policy of war and counter-terrorism.” (Glazier, 2009, p.957)