An Experiment of the People, by the People and for the People
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Photo: IAO

An Experiment of the People, by the People and for the People


The Federation of American Scientists recently received a successful response to a Freedom of Information Act request, in regards to top secret experimentation perpetrated upon human subjects by agencies of the United States government. Many FOIA requests are notoriously ignored altogether, with the government itself electing when and what exactly gets released to the public, if anything is to be released at all. And of what does get released, whatever is not heavily redacted, is always to be taken at face value, with the public left no other option but to trust that the information is both original and unedited.

The findings published by the Federation of American Scientists are at least interesting however, even while achieving little traction among the mainstream media or commercial media or corporate media or whichever label one prefers for describing what we in the USA have, a state-sponsored privatized media machine-works. Anything to give steel toes to the business interests of Uncle Sam, and everything to deny whatever infringes on the business interests of Uncle Sam. The findings are interesting because they assert that yes, the federal government has indeed been continuing experimentations on hapless citizens. Specifically mentioned is the Department of Energy, evidently maintaining over a dozen different programs involving over 300 test subjects.

And the programs have fun names, such as VAC Challenge — Mitigating Bias in Visual Analytic Interfaces, and VAC Challenge — Collecting User Interaction Logs to Eval. Bias Metrics.

But when we think of unethical governmental experimenting, the images that usually come to mind involve blending animal DNA and installing technological doohickeys to create super-soldiers, or playing with assorted pharmacological poisons to test the limits of the human constitution. The government has a broad history with these matter particularly, as reported on by Abby Martin for The Empire Files. She uncovered thousands of US soldiers who were poisoned, either voluntarily to serve their country or dosed completely unbeknownst to them. Many of these soldiers were scarred for life physically and/or psychologically, and some never made it home alive. Such trials endured for decades, before and after the nationwide practice of forcibly neutering patients of schizophrenic disorders at state-run mental hospitals, but supposedly were discontinued in more recent years after such programs as MK Ultra, which specialized in actual brain-washing by the CIA, were outed into the social noosphere, undoubtedly against the government's best wishes. When we think of our government's experiments, we think of reverse-engineering alien tech at Area 51 to sort out how it taxes human endurance or how Zero Point Energy drives may affect human sensory perception; we think of snazzy robotic exoskeletons designed purportedly to make stronger workers; we think of men wearing suits in underground bunkers staring at goats to see who psychics first. But we think of weird drug stuff more than anything.

Yet the titles for the programs mentioned in that FOIA request do not bring to mind the wild-eyed and crazier-haired stereotypical mad scientist injecting god only knows what into GI Joes told they are just getting a shot against the Afghan flu. They don't seem to have much to do with pharmaceuticals at all. Although they do call to mind the work of Edward Bernays, the man who introduced psychology to advertising, and whose professional career was end-capped working for the USA government. His whole, life-long shtick was developing propaganda to engineer widespread consent for the business interests of the federal government. And quite obviously has his approach been utilized heavily by Uncle Sam well and beyond the professional career of Bernays himself.

It could even be argued that DARPA was built to put many of his ideas into practice. If its purpose was indeed to avoid technological surprise, then controlling the psychology of all the players would guarantee a desirable, more lucrative end to any conflict. Guaranteeing that all innovation comes strictly from in-house seems to be a recurring thread with this government, from the CIA weaponizing modern art as far back as the 1960s, to the literal hundreds of movies produced today, surreptitiously or not, with governmental involvement, even outright supervision.

The phraseology of "informational warfare" is most often employed today against whatever might be deemed fake news, against anything complimenting an anti-government, anti-establishment, anti-military narrative. We have corporate entities like the SCL Group, which use military-grade psychological operations for private profit, with noticeably successful results in the 2016 USA Presidential election as well as overseas in the Brexit referendum. And not only is such a corporation legally allowed to weaponize data-sets against the general populace, but they subsist almost entirely through government contracts, and contracts under billionaire political figures. Their reach is everywhere that greed wants to be. Wikipedia won't even permit hyperlinks to Wikileaks anymore.

At the start of 2002, with the hysteria of 9/11 still fresh on everyone's minds, DARPA launched a short-lived subsidiary branch called the Information Awareness Office. Its purpose was to proactively apply information technologies across the public in hopes of achieving "Total Information Awareness". Realizing the costly blatancy of mass surveillance in its toolbox, Congress defunded the office less than two years later, although apparently the majority of its functions were picked up by other federal offices. Including but by no means limited to, quite probably in light of that FOIA request, the US Department of Energy. As Shane Harris reported in 2012, the core architecture of TIA continued development and is 'quite thriving' at the NSA.

While I will argue that the Information Awareness Office was a distilled variant of what DARPA itself has always ultimately been preoccupied with, I suspect it might be easier to sell the IAO's commonality with a current division, the Defense Innovation Advisory Board existing within the Pentagon chaired by Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman Emeritus for both Google and Google's after the fact parent company Alphabet. This DIA board, whose membership also includes astrophysicists, publicly exists to 'make the military more innovative and adaptive'. This, against the social backdrop where Google's products consume a full third of the population's time, as Axios reports; and while tracking everything under the sun irregardless of how consumers work their respective settings, as the Associated Press reports. The technologies marketed for public consumption would appear to be a honey trap.

Even the great documentarian Adam Curtis, while quick to rightfully begrudge the tech companies behind online social networks in general, recently downgraded their vileness to the unwanted sharing of grocery lists with third parties. While so many pundits focus on Facebook working with SCL Group subsidiary Cambridge Analytica to exclusively boost xenophobic narratives alongside the political aspirations of those depending on said xenophobic narratives, Tom Hodgkinson reported way back in 2008 about the very same threat, almost as though the general public are kept too distracted to remember yesterday. Too busy obsessing over DIY surveillance.

I'd fill in the blanks myself but my pens have run dry on a side-gig redacting docs for the gubmint.

Author: Richard Caldwell