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Forum Post: Fear, Corporate Profiteering, and Government Expansion of the Security Surveillance State on the US Borderland

Posted 6 years ago on March 10, 2013, 5:04 p.m. EST by LeoYo (5909)
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Fear, Corporate Profiteering, and Government Expansion of the Security Surveillance State on the US Borderland

Sunday, 10 March 2013 07:42 By Mark Karlin, Truthout | News Analysis


According to the Sentinel HS Group website, it "is a strategic consulting firm providing strategy, policy, and risk analytics services to the US government." In addition, "Sentinel's partners and management team were drawn from multiple components of the US Department of Homeland Security, international customs and civil security agencies, and the private sector."

Sixteen for-profit media companies specializing in governmental security issues are listed as partners, assisting Eagle Eye Expositions in turning a profit on the exhibition. The media partners include: The Counter Terrorist Magazine, Israel Defense, Fierce Homeland Security, and Defense Update. None of these media publications, Truthout presumes, were denied credentials for covering the exhibition, while Truthout was.

(When the head of Eagle Eye public relations, Kelvin Marsden-Kish, was asked - via email - why Truthout was not granted media credentials for covering the conference, he did not respond.)

Perhaps Eagle Eye Expositions took offense that a news outlet might be critical of the Borderland security industry, as Truthout was in its 10-part series "Truthout on the Mexican Border." Perhaps it was one of the BuzzFlash-Truthout commentaries such as a recent one, "War on Drugs in Latin America Is to Advance US Economic Interests, Not Reduce Drug Trafficking," which made the following observations:

The word "militarized" in relation to counternarcotics is important, because as the Truthout series reported the goal of the US may not at all relate to reducing the flow of illegal narcotics. The actual aim is more likely to be the US insertion of militarized activity into south of the border nations that are playing an increasingly important role in the expansion of global corporations based in the US, cheap labor markets, and expanded markets for US-based companies such as Walmart. In addition, by creating an excuse for expanded US military and intelligence agency and law enforcement involvement in cooperative Latin American nations, the US is attempting to preserve hemispheric hegemony.

Indeed, were some form of immigration reform to pass, the militarization of relations with Mexico, Latin America, and parts of South America will continue to increase, not decrease. That is because stakeholders who stand to financially and ideologically benefit from a large-scale law enforcement, military and intelligence agency buildup - in the name of waging the war on drugs - will continue advocating aggressive national security policies.

What the so-called war on drugs enables is the growth of the national security state - including the United States Southern Command, the Border Patrol, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the CIA, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly School of the Americas), and other tactical forces - involved in mission creep in the Americas: to implement the modern Monroe Doctrine of US political and trade dominance.

Todd Miller, who covered last year's Border Security Expo for TomDispatch.com, discussed the telling symbolism of the event being held in Arizona, where it is taking place again this year:

After all, the Arizona-Mexico border region is Ground Zero for the development of an immigration enforcement apparatus, which soon enough may travel from the southern border to a neighborhood near you.

The sold-out convention hall was abuzz with energy befitting an industry whose time has come. Wandering its aisles, you could sense the excitement, the sound of money being spent, the cacophony of hundreds of voices boosting product, the synergy of a burgeoning marketplace of ideas and dreams. General Dynamics, FLIR thermal imaging, and Raytheon banners hung from the vast ceiling, competing for eyeballs with the latest in mini-surveillance blimps. NEANY Inc.'s unmanned aerial drones and their water-borne equivalents sat on a thick red carpet next to desert-camouflaged trailer headquarters.

At various exhibits, mannequins dressed in camo and sporting guns with surveillance gizmos hanging off their helmets seemed as if they might walk right out of the exhibition hall and take over the sprawling city of Phoenix with brute force. Little imaginable for your futuristic fortressed border was missing from the hall. There were even ready-to-eat pocket sandwiches (with a three-year shelf life), and Brief Relief plastic urine bags. A stream of uniformed Border Patrol, military, and police officials moved from booth to booth alongside men in suits in what the sole protester outside the convention center called a "mall of death."

Miller points out the telling bait and switch from a security emphasis based on apprehending undocumented workers to stopping terrorism (as mentioned earlier), which sometimes also blends into the use of the term narco-terrorism:

As the new uniformed soldiers of the Department of Homeland Security, close to 20,000 Border Patrol agents now occupy the US Southwest. Predator drones and mini-surveillance blimps regularly patrol the skies. (Border scholar Joseph) Nevins says that it is a "highly significant development" that we have come to accept this version of "boundaries" and the institutions that enforce them without question.

The Border Patrol became part of the Department of Homeland Security in 2003 and was placed under the wing of Customs and Border Protection, now the largest federal law enforcement agency in the country with 60,000 employees. In the process, its "priority mission" became "keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the US." Since then the Border Patrol has not netted a single person affiliated with a terrorist organization nor a single weapon of mass destruction.

It has, however, apprehended millions of Latin American migrants coming north, including a historic number of Mexicans who were essentially victims of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). No terrorists; they were often small farmers who could no longer compete with subsidized US grain giants like Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland for whom NAFTA proved to be a free pass into Mexico. US officials were well aware that the trade agreement would lead to an increase in migration, and called for the enforcement buildup. In the post-9/11 world, under the rubric of "protecting" the country from terrorism, the DHS, with the help of state governments and local police, has enforced what is really a line of exclusion, guaranteeing eternal inequality between those who have and those who do not ….

This should be a reminder that a significant, if overlooked, part of this country's post 9/11 security iron fist has been aimed not at al-Qaeda but at the undocumented migrant. Indeed, as writer Roberto Lovato points out, there has been an "al-Qaedization of immigrants and immigration policy." And as in the Global War on Terror, military-industrial companies like Boeing and Halliburton are cashing in on this version of for-profit war.



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