Sunday, 6 April 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Freedom or Fear?

Search Winter Soldier on Google and you might get a surprise. Rather than the comic book character or the movie now on release, you will see links to an investigation into US war crimes in Vietnam in 1971, and a recent investigation into US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2008. This did not receive wide media coverage, and featured eye-witness testimony from veterans who believed that what they had seen was not done in the name of freedom - and was a stain on the United States. 

If you've seen the movie, this might be starting to sound familiar.

Over the past year we have been finding out more about how the intelligence services of the US and UK have compromised the security of the entire internet, to collect all metadata from every source, from everyone on the planet; to data mine, to track, to target, to influence politically and obtain commercial advantage. And this has been done using 'terrorism' as an excuse - but the real purpose being domination of the web and control of the population.

This might also sound familiar to fans of the movie - except this is all true. 

The Russo brothers who made the movie wanted to make an old fashioned political thriller with a current reference - but the Snowden revelations only came whilst the movie was in post-production. Their actual inspiration was Obama's kill list 

Coincidentally another film was released last year about this, based on a best-selling book, winner of the Sundance Film Festival and nominated for an Oscar. Dirty Wars was more about the secret wars run without congressional oversight directly from the office of the Vice President, mechanisms taken over rather than broken down by Obama. Special forces units were sent anywhere in the world in order to 'dominate the battlespace', such as Seal Teams 2 and 6 (by the way, there are ONLY two, they were named like that to give the impression that there were more). 

However, Obama was more concerned about boots on the ground and so 'death from above' became his favourite method of attack. And so he became the first president in US history to order the 'extra-judicial killing' (i.e. execution) of a US citizen. This man had not been tried or charged let alone found guilty of any crime - and a short time later, his 15 year-old son, US born and raised, died by drone.  The court case relating to these and other killings was thrown out by a judge this week.

SPOILER ALERT - skip to the bottom if you haven't seen Captain America - the Winter Soldier

In the film, Hydra uses flying gun platforms controlled by satellite (just like drones) to eliminate targets, identified through data-mining their internet metatdata (just like the NSA and GCHQ programmes). These targets will be killed in order to eliminate any threat to the new world order - to maintain the peace. Their initial sweep identifies over a million targets.
So far, Obama has killed an estimated 2,400 men, women and children for precisely the same purpose. And he will probably make that 3,000 before the end of the year, in Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan - basically anywhere he likes.

Robert Redford's character explains how Hydra waited until the people of the world would willingly give up their freedom, and how this was achieved by manipulating world events - in exactly the same way as the US has done and even showing some places where the US and CIA DID intervene to achieve regime change in the movie. Even this week, we found out about a CIA operation to set up a fake Twitter-style company in Cuba in order to secretly post political push messages to the youth of the country to foment a 'Cuban Spring'.

END OF SPOILERS! Safe reading from here!

The lack of political or popular support for protecting privacy and freedom online, particularly in the UK, is shocking. People do not realise what is being done and the danger involved - ultimately the loss of any illusion of freedom or human rights, as not only is everything you do watched and monitored, but also increasingly controlled, using methods far more subtle than any totalitarian government has used in the past. 

And what we hear from the government 'talking heads' is to protect society from 'terrorism' - when the government's own assessment of actual terrorist threat is practically zero. (BTW that's not the best source(!) but it does faithfully summarise the main points and contain an active link to the actual document). And over the years that the surveillance programs have been developed and used, not one terrorist plot has been prevented, and no-one has been charged with any criminal offence based on evidence gathered from it.

But there are things you can do to fight back. We don't have The Avengers - but  we do have the European Parliament and euro MPs committed to fight for online privacy (especially in the Green Party). We have the Open Rights Group and Liberty in the UK, in the US,  ACLU and EFF. And now the companies that either willingly collaborated or were gagged by the NSA are seeing the commercial implications and actual losses - even they are bringing their influence to bear. 

But we need to do more. For now, go and see Winter Soldier. Think - what if this was actually happening? 

Then catch up on the Greenwald revelations - see Dirty Wars. 

And realise that IT IS.

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