The Precursor to Fake News: Obama’s Proposed Office of Strategic Deception
Big Brother Is Watching You
The reality of Oceania is knocking on America’s doors in the form of increased surveillance and White House authorization to assassinate American citizens suspected of terrorist links.13 Acting on recommendations of the Defense Science Board,14 the Obama Pentagon in January 2010 pushed for creation of an Office of Strategic Deception to gather and disseminate information to confuse America’s enemies.15 That idea fortunately never left the proposal stage. But if an Office of Strategic Deception does not cause chills, perhaps other American similarities shared with Oceania produce alarm. In August 2009, West Virginia’s Senator Jay Rockefeller introduced legislation (S.773) that would give the president emergency control over the Internet.16 Rockefeller’s bill has been making its way through Congress.17
In February 2010, Americans learned that Google, the world’s largest Internet company, had entered an information-sharing agreement with the same National Security Agency that would gain control under the Rockefeller bill. This unusual agreement between the government and a private company potentially compromises the privacy of millions of Americans who use Google’s search engine on a daily basis.18
The reality of Oceania is knocking on America’s doors in the form of increased surveillance and White House authorization to assassinate American citizens suspected of terrorist links.
In July 2010, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) published reports that Consumer Watchdogs, an advocacy group, was asking Congress to investigate reports that Google was using its roaming street view to spy on members of Congress.19 It was reported that Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, and eighteen members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee had their homes pictured on Google’s StreetView.20 For this to have happened suggested that their Wi-Fi networks had been scanned.21 Google later acknowledged that it recorded information that came across on unencrypted Wi-Fi networks.22 Harman’s system was unencrypted.23
Furthermore, the Department of Homeland Security now monitors social networking and news sites, blogs, and search engines. Twitter, Facebook, the Drudge Report, Huffington Post, Google, and the Blotter rank among its targets.24 Existing government-sanctioned Internet surveillance goes beyond searches for terrorists and allows the government to investigate and apprehend drug dealers, “tax delinquents, copyright infringers and political protesters.”25
In January 2010, the Washington Post reported that President Obama had signed off on documents that would allow the Central Intelligence Agency and the Joint Special Operations Command to assassinate US citizens living abroad if the agencies suspect an al Qaeda connection or a potential threat to other Americans. This action allows assassinations of Americans, even if they are not involved in combat situations. Assassinating an American citizen without a trial seemingly violates the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the long-held understanding of how the rule of law operates in a democratic republic. In Oceania, the state vaporized its enemies.
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