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Agent Orange and the Internet: The Spawn of Project Agile

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[5]COMMENT: In his book–one of the most impor­tant in recent memory–Yasha Levine sets forth vital, rev­e­la­to­ry infor­ma­tion about the devel­op­ment and func­tion­ing of the Inter­net.

Born of the same DARPA project that spawned Agent Orange, the Inter­net was nev­er intend­ed to be some­thing good. Its gen­er­a­tive func­tion and pur­pose is counter-insur­gency. In this land­mark vol­ume, Levine makes numer­ous points, includ­ing:

  1. The har­vest­ing of data by intel­li­gence ser­vices is PRECISELY what the Inter­net was designed to do in the first place.
  2. The har­vest­ing of data engaged in by the major tech cor­po­ra­tions is an exten­sion of the data gathering/surveillance that was–and is–the rai­son d’e­tre for the Inter­net in the first place.
  3. The big tech com­pa­nies all col­lab­o­rate with the var­i­ous intel­li­gence agen­cies they pub­licly scorn and seek to osten­si­bly dis­tance them­selves from.
  4. Edward Snow­den, the Elec­tron­ic Fron­tier Foun­da­tion, Jacob Appel­baum and Wik­iLeaks are com­plic­it in the data har­vest­ing and sur­veil­lance.
  5. Snow­den and oth­er pri­va­cy activists are dou­ble agents, con­scious­ly chan­nel­ing peo­ple fear­ful of hav­ing their com­mu­ni­ca­tions mon­i­tored into tech­nolo­gies that will facil­i­tate that sur­veil­lance!


Sur­veil­lance Val­ley by Yasha Levine; Pub­lic Affairs Books [HC]; Copy­right 2018 by Yasha Levine; ISBN 978–1‑61039–802‑2; p. 7. [6]

 . . . . In the 1960s, Amer­i­ca was a glob­al pow­er over­see­ing an increas­ing­ly volatile world: con­flicts and region­al insur­gen­cies against US-allied gov­ern­ments from South Amer­i­ca to South­east Asia and the Mid­dle East. These were not tra­di­tion­al wars that involved big armies but gueril­la cam­paigns and local rebel­lions, fre­quent­ly fought in regions where Amer­i­cans had lit­tle pre­vi­ous expe­ri­ence. Who were these peo­ple? Why were they rebelling? What could be done to stop them? In mil­i­tary cir­cles, it was believed  that these ques­tions were of vital impor­tance to Amer­i­ca’s paci­fi­ca­tion efforts, and some argued that the only effec­tive way to answer them was to devel­op and lever­age com­put­er-aid­ed infor­ma­tion tech­nol­o­gy.

The Inter­net came out of this effort: an attempt to build com­put­er sys­tems that could col­lect and share intel­li­gence, watch the world in real time, and study and ana­lyze peo­ple and polit­i­cal move­ments with the ulti­mate goal of pre­dict­ing and pre­vent­ing social upheaval. . . .

 Sur­veil­lance Val­ley by Yasha Levine; Pub­lic Affairs Books [HC]; Copy­right 2018 by Yasha Levine; ISBN 978–1‑61039–802‑2; p. 15. [6]

 . . . . Ranch Hand got going in 1962 and last­ed until the war end­ed more than a decade lat­er. In that time, Amer­i­can C‑123 trans­port planes doused an area equal in size to half of South Viet­nam with twen­ty mil­lion gal­lons of tox­ic chem­i­cal defo­liants. Agent Orange was for­ti­fied with oth­er col­ors of the rain­bow: Agent White, Agent Pink, Agent Pur­ple, Agent Blue. The chem­i­cals, pro­duced by Amer­i­can com­pa­nies like Dow and Mon­san­to, turned whole swaths of lush jun­gle into bar­ren moon­scapes, caus­ing death and hor­ri­ble suf­fer­ing for hun­dreds of thou­sands.

Oper­a­tion Ranch Hand was mer­ci­less, and in clear vio­la­tion of the Gene­va Con­ven­tions. It remains one of the most shame­ful episodes of the Viet­nam War. Yet the defo­li­a­tion project is notable for more than just its unimag­in­able cru­el­ty. The gov­ern­ment body at its lead was a Depart­ment of Defense out­fit called the Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Born in 1958 as a cash pro­gram to pro­tect the Unit­ed  States from a Sovi­et  nuclear threat from space, it launched sev­er­al ground­break­ing ini­tia­tives tasked with devel­op­ing advanced weapons and mil­i­tary tech­nolo­gies. Among them were project Agile and Com­mand and Con­trol Research, two over­lap­ping ARPA ini­tia­tives that cre­at­ed the Inter­net. . . .