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The Big Answer


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Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World

a book by Tom Engelhardt

(our site's book review)

Much More Than Just a Failure of Intelligence

Tom Engelhardt's book is a great read. Noam Chomsky said it best: "In his regular, incisive, and often searing columns, Tom Engelhardt has uncovered layer after layer of deceit, fraud, and distortion to reveal to us harsh truths about power and its exercise that we must comprehend, and resist, and reverse, if there is to be any hope of decent survival. Shadow Government is essential reading."

They're telling us one thing, but doing another, folks. The shadow government is in place to protect the elite oligarchs from citizen unrest as the American people become increasingly aware that the game is rigged. The mandate that centers on protecting us from terrorists is just the cover story. The National Security State is ostensibly set up for OUR benefit but really it's mostly for THEIR benefit—rather like U.S. politics in which politicians pretend to represent we the people but instead represent the Corporatocracy.

Why have so many bad things happened while they were supposed to be minding the store, and why is knocking off Osama bin Laden their only accomplishment to date? All these very smart people could not possibly be that incompetent, so it must be that they're busy doing something else. What else? Therein lies the rub. They failed to protect us. It's a fact. But this begs the question: If they failed at that, precisely what did they succeed at? The answer ain't pretty. They succeeded at watching American citizens who are all being deceived, robbed, misled, lied to, and manipulated.

U.S. neocons' imperialism and warmongering is out of control yet the Congress tasked with stopping such abuses is mute—something smells rotten in Washington!
U.S. neocons' imperialism and warmongering is out of control yet the Congress tasked with stopping such abuses is mute—something smells rotten in Washington! The game is rigged. Bailouts? The biggest companies got help while the little guy got the finger.

Elites of Our History

The biggest lesson of history is that absolute power corrupts absolutely. The robber barons of the late 1800s not only proved that fact, but also exploited the U.S. greedily, without mercy, so the government slowly put into place regulations that would stop their atrocious behavior, not to mention that by WWII's end, America’s wealthy would be paying taxes on income over $200,000 at 94 percent. But conservatives were soon to turn the tables:

The elites saw that we were not being vigilant, in the late 70s (forgetting that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty), so they used Reagan (who slashed the top income tax rate from 70% to 28%), from 1980 on, as a tool in a very successful effort to consolidate global corporate rule. They wasted no time in forming sneaky little shadow government organizations and capturing control of the instruments of governance, and in so doing, the elites were sealing our democracy's doom.

Citizens are getting screwed by mercilessly greedy oligarchs
Citizens are getting screwed by mercilessly greedy oligarchs


Citizens Are Getting Screwed by Mercilessly Greedy Oligarchs

But as citizens saw the wealth of the middle class zipping into the pockets of the corrupt oligarchs, and income inequity reach obscene proportions, they began reading and writing books and websites and blogs and posts about government corruption, shadow government sneakiness, and they felt betrayed. People knew their politicians represented only the corporatocracy, and not the people. It made them feel helpless and afraid, but also mad. Then they learned that our shadow government was bankrupting smaller, vulnerable countries (World Bank clients), when the loan-funded infrastructure projects displace the poor from homes and lands, pollute their countries' waters, cut down their forests, and destroy their fisheries. Then, adding insult to injury, when the bills come due, the poor are told that their social services and wages must be cut to repay the country's loan obligations.

Add these insights to the fact that we paid a trillion bucks of bailout money to too-big-to-fail companies and the fact that the housing bubble and subprime loan debacles caused millions to lose their homes. Add all these insights to the fact that the megacorporations were shipping all the jobs off to China, India, and Mexico, and formerly middle class Americans were now either unemployed or working flipping burgers or working as Walmart cashiers.

Megacorporations were shipping all the jobs off to China, India, and Mexico, and formerly middle class Americans were now either unemployed or working flipping burgers or working as Walmart cashiers
Megacorporations were shipping all the jobs off to China, India, and Mexico, and formerly middle class Americans were now either unemployed or working flipping burgers or working as Walmart cashiers


Those running the shadow government exported U.S. jobs to increase profits, so formerly middle class Americans were now either unemployed or working flipping burgers or as Walmart cashiers
Those running the shadow government exported U.S. jobs to increase profits, so formerly middle class Americans were now either unemployed or working flipping burgers or as Walmart cashiers

Citizens Finally Realize That Something Is Terribly Wrong


Heroic NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has demonstrated the type of courage and wisdom we all need to aspire to
Heroic NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has demonstrated the type of courage and wisdom we all need to aspire to

Something was terribly wrong and yet voting for someone else solved nothing—people voted for Obama because they were so sick of Bush's wars, but Obama lied to us all and expanded the war. Even the high court stabbed the citizens in the back, rubber-stamping rule of the U.S. by the corporatocracy with the Citizens United case. Both dead bodies and wrecked live bodies were returning from the immoral Bush/Obama wars, and veterans benefits were few and far between. Finally, Snowden told us about NSA surveillance of U.S. citizens and we learned privacy was a dim memory—all but dead. There was no joy in Mudville, folks—the U.S. citizens had struck out.


There was no joy in Mudville, folks—the U.S. citizens had struck out—the shadow government had pitched the ultimate curve ball which was impossible to hit
There was no joy in Mudville, folks—the U.S. citizens had struck out—the shadow government had pitched the ultimate curve ball which was impossible to hit

The citizens were now very angry, so they launched the Occupy Wall Street demonstration and were ignored by Wall Street and by shadow-government-controlled press as well. Those in charge didn't give a damn about the feelings of the exploited masses. But they also needed to ensure that the citizens didn't get any bright ideas about doing something about all this corruption of government and democracy. They did not want any of the sheep turning into wolves. So what did they do? They launched obscenely expanded U.S. intelligence operations, and they raised the levels of spying on innocent U.S. citizens by the NSA.


Wall Street Protest: Occupy Wall Street—Copyright © 2011 by Louis Lanzano
Wall Street Protest: Occupy Wall Street—Copyright © 2011 by Louis Lanzano

It turned out that even though the government has told us all the NSA spying was to protect us and prevent "terrorism," the citizens were getting suspicious—about everything. About 9/11 and how that led to a trumped-up War on Terror which then led to the oligarchs creating a national security state to "protect us," although the evidence shows the NSA hasn't protected anyone or caught any terrorist plots. But it has oppressed various U.S. citizens and violated their rights, and in so doing it might as well have burned the Constitution too. See The Rise of the American Corporate Security State.

The NSA has oppressed various U.S. citizens and violated their rights, and in so doing it might as well have burned the Constitution
The NSA has oppressed various U.S. citizens and violated their rights, and in so doing it might as well have burned the Constitution


Fly #353242252 reporting: Citizen #312,756,972 doesn't seem to be hiding a thing—my conclusion is that she's clean; but just to be sure I think I'll hang around a bit longer!
Fly #353242252 reporting: Citizen #312,756,972 doesn't seem to be hiding a thing—my conclusion is that she's clean; but just to be sure I think I'll hang around a bit longer!

Let 'Em Bitch—Who Cares?—As Long As They Don't Actually Rebel or Do Anything We Don't Like; After All, We Just want Their Money—Not Their Approval!

So the available evidence is that the shadow government plotted to grab wealth from the middle class and stick it into the pockets of the fat cat oligarchs that run things from behind the scene, so they did that, and the people were unhappy about that, and so the oligarchs then needed to spend enormous amounts of cash detecting any protesting or complaining. The NSA considered the written complaints as a release valve that wasted energy but did nothing. So citizens kept reading and writing books and websites about government corruption, shadow government sneakiness, and they felt betrayed as they saw democracy replaced by corporatocracy.

When Bush and Obama said their wars on terror may go on indefinitely, you can just imagine these fat cats rolling around in huge money bins laughing just like Scrooge McDuck
When Bush and Obama said their wars on terror may go on indefinitely, you can just imagine these fat cats rolling around in huge money bins laughing just like Scrooge McDuck

The oligarchs that did all this felt safe since, after all, that WAS the true, unstated purpose of the NSA: Spy on citizens and be ready to stomp on any who get out of line, which means fomenting rebellion, stockpiling weapons or explosives, or forming radical antigovernment groups. If you bitch and moan online on Facebook or by reading and writing documents critical of the shadow government, that was good. The huge swell of anger and frustration had to have a release valve. That's simple psychology. Bitch, moan, even scream—but just don't you dare do anything about the way these ass clowns have ruined democracy, ruined the U.S., and were also ruining the world. Or you'll be hunted down as a terrorist. So bitch all you want, but you damn well better behave yourself!


Bush: "Mission Accomplished!" We Were Thinking He Meant the Iraq War, But He Really Meant That He'd Successfully Begun His Campaign of World Domination
9/11 terrorist attack
9/11 terrorist attack

Engelhardt says that after the fall of the USSR, there was no obvious target to start wars with. The best choice was the brute Saddam Hussein. Single-superpowerdom seems to be a breeding ground for delusion. The shadow government "came to power under the presidency of George W. Bush, anxious for the opportunity to turn the U.S. into the kind of global dominator that would put the British and even Roman empires to shame." And 9/11 gave these corrupt ass clowns the excuse they needed to do—damn near anything. They were not about to let the opportunity pass. Invading Iraq on trumped-up fake WMD charges was merely the beginning.

We'll not be surprised if Iraqis start seeing billboards with 'Miss me yet?' under Saddam's picture!
We'll not be surprised if Iraqis start seeing billboards with 'Miss me yet?' under Saddam's picture!

The author tells us that "[They dreamed up the] 'Global War on Terror.' The CIA would label it no less grandiosly a 'Worldwide Attack Matrix.' And none of them were kidding. Finding 'terror' groups of various sorts in up to 80 countries, they were planning, in the phrase of the moment, to 'drain the swamp' – everywhere." [They wanted to] "garrison that assumedly grateful country [Iraq] at the center of the planet’s oil lands for generations to come."

The U.S. military bullies dropping a little 'democracy' on Middle Eastern citizens
The U.S. military bullies dropping a little 'democracy' on Middle Eastern citizens

But of course both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars were failures that just made all these Islamic people angry, and the so-called "democracy" the U.S. installed was a sick joke. Apparently, the lessons of the Vietnam War had not been learned—not even a little bit. They hadn't imagined that an American invasion might create chaos in Iraq and surrounding lands, sparking a set of Sunni-Shiite religious wars across the region, eventually leading to the curse of ISIS. They needed to listen to their own experts, who were saying that pushing democracy on countries not ready for them was foolish and unworkable, and the Mideast people needed a bottom-up—not top-down—approach involving strengthening the civil society. See The Rise of Global Civil Society: Building Communities and Nations from the Bottom Up.

The great irony, then, is that the expansive shadow government's damnably foolish bungling is making both the Mideast and the United States of America less secure, not more secure or more protected, and the NSA is an intregal part of this delusional farce. You've heard that "might makes right," which is the motto the oligarchs live by, right? But the shadow government has an effect on the world that betrays that a very different—unacknowledged—motto is at play: "might makes stupid." And we pay taxes to these ass clowns so they can screw up our country and the rest of the world! As mentioned, the American people are realizing that SOMETHING HAS GONE TERRIBLY WRONG.

But the shadow government has an effect on the world that betrays that a very different—unacknowledged—motto is at  play:
But the shadow government has an effect on the world that betrays that a very different—unacknowledged—motto is at play: "might makes stupid." And we pay taxes to these ass clowns?

Then, says Engelhardt, "Washington entered stage three of delusional life in a single-superpower world. Its main symptom: the belief in the possibility of controlling the planet not just through staggering military might but also through informational and surveillance omniscience and omnipotence. In these years, the urge to declare a global war on communications, create a force capable of launching wars in cyberspace, and storm the e-beaches of the Internet and the global information system proved overwhelming. The idea was to make it impossible for anyone to write, say, or do anything to which Washington might not be privy."

Apple (not to mention most of the public) doesn't like the government's attempt to make the First Amendment right of privacy go away. If we cannot communicate anything that the FBI might not like then we're in 1984 and Big Brother watching us is our reality—no longer just a story. Next comes the Thought Police. See The Apple-FBI Fight Isn't About Privacy vs. Security. Don't Be Misled.

Our government watches your every move
Our government watches your every move


Once they create the technology, can the thought police be far behind NSA's outrage of spying on us decent citizens?
Once they create the technology, can the thought police be far behind NSA's outrage of spying on us decent citizens?

And, "The reach of Washington’s surveillance and intelligence networks is unique in the history of the planet. The ability of its drone air fleet to assassinate enemies almost anywhere is unparalleled. . . . What, after all, are we to make of a planet with a single superpower that lacks genuine enemies of any significance and that, to all appearances, has nonetheless been fighting a permanent global war with… well, ITSELF — and appears to be losing?"

What are we to make of a planet with a single superpower that lacks genuine enemies of any significance and that seems to have been fighting a permanent global war with… well, ITSELF — and appears to be losing?
What are we to make of a planet with a single superpower that lacks genuine enemies of any significance and that seems to have been fighting a permanent global war with… well, ITSELF — and appears to be losing?

The oligarchs see the solution to everything in our US military and the national security state. But this "solution" hasn't worked—it continually creates disasters of one sort or another, including lost wars, the rise and spread of jihadism, and the destabilizing of large areas of the planet. But these failures make no impression on the blind and deaf obsessive militants running the security state as a manifestation of their delusional lives of paranoia, glorious wars, superpower global dominance. They have the same incurable disease that Hitler had in the 1930s and 1940s: there's no such thing as too much power. And they never saw a weapon they didn't like. The author tells us that a shadow government has conquered 21st century Washington. We are degenerating into a thug state.


Whistleblower Persecution, also NSA Revealed as a Shadow Government Tool

The author confirms that the Obama administration has been worse than the Bush administration, or Nixon's, or any other past administration when it comes to prosecuting whistleblowers under the draconian World War I era Espionage Act and trying to keep the government's acts secret from the citizenry. What is his issue? Shame at what he is doing, hiding, and conspiring to do? Is he merely trying to get a seat at the table in the shadow government? Who can say? Here is Obama's attitude toward the Constitution:

Here is Obama's attitude toward the Constitution
Here is Obama's attitude toward the Constitution


The unelected elites are the lords of secrecy—they are unaccountable, secret, and beyond our reach, yet they run things
The unelected elites are the lords of secrecy—they are unaccountable, secret, and beyond our reach, yet they run things

Why are we willing to spend so much money on the NSA when they're failures? The NSA didn't intercept either World Trade Center attack, or the Shoe Bomber, or the Times Square Bomber, or the Boston Marathon bombers, or the two terrorists who killed 14 people in San Bernardino or the Orlando shooting that killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in a terrorist attack/hate crime inside Pulse, a gay nightclub. And it was caught off guard by the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) in the Middle East. Why not save the money and let those people go out and get real jobs? We need people working on real threats like global warming and climate change and pollution and species loss, and yet these ass clowns spend a king's ransom on spying on us citizens as well as warmongering, ignoring these real disasters-in-the-making like those listed above. This reflects very badly on our country and makes the U.S. look like the Great Satan the Islamics see us as.

The Shadow Government of the United States of America
The Shadow Government of the United States of America

In little more than a decade, the Pentagon and the intelligence community and their legions of contractors have mutated into a corrupt shadow government that is the antithesis of what the United States is supposed to stand for: democracy, freedom, rights, and generosity toward the poor and oppressed. We need have no doubt: Osama bin Laden won, as new sects of al-Qaeda rise up across the world and as ISIS preys on the instability the United States wrought in Iraq. But blind faith in its own righteousness and power obscures the monstrous things the U.S. does, as the rest of the world vomits in disbelief. We spend 68 billion bucks a year on our intelligence agencies and yet the whole ISIS thing was a surprise and a shock—it was neither predicted nor prepared for. They were blindsided. This would have been a great test case to see if these agencies are of any use or if they are just boondoggles populated with comfy little chair warmers playing on their computers or—worse yet—spying on US. The jury is in: "they are useless and expensive boondoggles."

We need people working on global warming issues, but we instead spend a fortune spying on U.S. citizens as well as warmongering, making the U.S. look like the Great Satan the Islamics see us as
We need people working on global warming issues, but we instead spend a fortune spying on U.S. citizens as well as warmongering, making the U.S. look like the Great Satan the Islamics see us as


We need have no doubt: Osama bin Laden won, as new sects of al-Qaeda rise up across the world and as ISIS preys on the instability the United States wrought in Iraq
We need have no doubt: Osama bin Laden won, as new sects of al-Qaeda rise up across the world and as ISIS preys on the instability the United States wrought in Iraq

Other Shadow Government Perspectives

Various authors see the shadow government from various perspectives—like the blind men and the elephant, but the overall gist is creepily similar
Various authors see the shadow government from various perspectives—like the blind men and the elephant, but the overall gist is creepily similar