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Repress U, Class of 2012

Posted on Mar 24, 2012
Amin Tabrizi (CC-BY)

A student photographs himself in the reflection of a security camera casing at Durham College in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.

By Michael Gould-Wartofsky, TomDispatch

(Page 3)

Since 2010, the homeland security campus has been enlisted by the state of Arizona to enforce everything from bans on ethnic studies programs to laws like S.B. 1070, which makes it a crime to appear in public without proof of legal residency and is considered a mandate for police to detain anyone suspected of being undocumented.  Many undocumented students have turned down offers of admission to the University of Arizona since the passage of the law, while others have stopped attending class for fear of being detained and deported.

5. Keep an eye on student spaces and social media

While Muslim and undocumented students are particular targets of surveillance, they are not alone.  Electronic surveillance has expanded beyond traditional closed-circuit TV cameras to next-generation technologies like IQeye HD megapixel cameras, so-called edge devices (cameras that can do their own analytics), and Perceptrak’s video analytics software, which “analyzes video from security cameras 24x7 for events of interest,” and which recently made its debut at Johns Hopkins University and Mount Holyoke College.

At the same time, students’ social media accounts have become a favorite destination for everyone from campus police officers to analysts at the Department of Homeland Security.


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In 2010, the DHS National Operations Center established a Media Monitoring Capability (MMC).  According to an internal agency document, MMC is tasked with “leveraging news stories, media reports and postings on social media sites… for operationally relevant data, information, analysis, and imagery.”  The definition of operationally relevant data includes “media reports that reflect adversely on DHS and response activities,” “partisan or agenda-driven sites,” and a final category ambiguously labeled “research/studies, etc.”

With the Occupy movement coming to campus, even university police departments have gotten in on the action.  According to a how-to guide called “Essential Ingredients to Working with Campus Protests” by UC Santa Barbara police chief Dustin Olson, the first step to take is to “monitor social media sites continuously,” both for intelligence about the “leadership and agenda” and “for any messages that speak to violent or criminal behavior.”

6. Coopt the classroom and the laboratory

At a time when entire departments and disciplines are facing the chopping block at America’s universities, the Department of Homeland Security has proven to be the best-funded department of all.  Homeland security studies has become a major growth sector in higher education and now has more than 340 certificate- and degree-granting programs.  Many colleges have joined the Homeland Security and Defense Education Consortium, a spinoff of the U.S. Northern Command (the Department of Defense’s “homeland defense” division), which offers a model curriculum to its members.

This emerging discipline has been directed and funded to the tune of $4 billion over the last five years by DHS.  The goal, according to Dr. Tara O’Toole, DHS Undersecretary of Science & Technology, is to “leverag[e] the investment and expertise of academia… to meet the needs of the department.”  Additional funding is being made available from the Pentagon through its blue-skies research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the “intelligence community” through its analogous Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity.

At the core of the homeland security-university partnership are DHS’s 12 centers of excellence. (A number that has doubled since I first reported on the initiative in 2008.)  The DHS Office of University Programs advertises the centers of excellence as an “extended consortium of hundreds of universities” which work together “to develop customer-driven research solutions” and “to provide essential training to the next generation of homeland security experts.”

But what kind of research is being carried out at these centers of excellence, with the support of tens of millions of taxpayer dollars each year?  Among the 41 “knowledge products” currently in use by DHS or being evaluated in pilot studies, we find an “extremist crime database,” a “Minorities at Risk for Organizational Behavior” dataset, analytics for aerial surveillance systems along the border, and social media monitoring technologies.  Other research focuses include biometrics, “suspicious behavior detection,” and “violent radicalization.”

7.  Privatize, subsidize, and capitalize

Repress U has not only proven a boon to hundreds of cash-starved universities, but also to big corporations as higher education morphs into hired education.  While a majority of the $184 billion in homeland security funding in 2011 came from government agencies like DHS and the Pentagon, private sector funding is expected to make up an increasing share of the total in the coming years, according to the Homeland Security Research Corporation, a consulting firm serving the homeland security industry.


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By Fullblad, March 26, 2012 at 12:05 pm Link to this comment

Infiltration of progressive student organizations by
fellow students taking homeland courses must be
rampant. Counter infiltration with double agents by
carefully selected moles with the “right” backgrounds
is now necessary. Care must also be taken that a mole
is not turned . It’s a spy versus spy world as Big
Brother ups the ante. Dangerous work but the
subversion of our democracy must be exposed. These
acts by the secret services for the plutocracy are a
call to revolution by the people. The police will not
be brought over as they are being radicalized to the
extent that they will now act as any state security
force exemplified by such as the Stazi etc.

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By italianmama, March 26, 2012 at 6:25 am Link to this comment

outraged is correct.  When my children were in middle school they were actively encouraged to “report” anonymously of course, anything any other student did that they did not like.  I, of course, told my children they were not to become rats, and if they had something to report, they were to do it not anonymously, as that was a cowards way.  And, they were only to report something such as seeing a gun in a locker and such, not inane things such as bad language, different ideas, clothing styles, etc.
I complained to the school and asked them if they were educators or a throwback to the cold war secret service.
Reason I found out what was going on: My kid got hauled in to the office for skateboarding down stairs. I asked who reported him, and was told about the anonymous program.
Are you freakin’ kidding me????
Skateboarders were looked down upon, but kids throwing footballs and tackling each other silly?  That was ok.

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Outraged's avatar

By Outraged, March 25, 2012 at 9:37 pm Link to this comment

This is what follows from the extremism seen in our public schools K-12. It is not surprising, but realistically logical. Is anyone surprised….?

How could it be anathema to education (in the real sense) for those with a difference of opinion to be tagged as problematic, and then NOT have this same condition present in our higher educational system?

I assert that it is the logical outcome of requiring students in our basic educational systems to “suck it up” and to “get with the program”, regardless of how inane that situation is in the true sense education or learning or innovating or creating or free thinking or humane empathy.

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By gerard, March 25, 2012 at 2:26 pm Link to this comment

Reading Jones:  Interestingly, that Peck book is just about my most despised book. 
I wish we could get together to discuss it and compare notes. Just for brevity’s
sake, his bow toward abject evil and the possibility of extinguishing it through
exorcism completely turned me off.  Otherwise I always found him more or less
  Please don’t take offense.  Our two strong opposite opinions turning up just here
and now is accidental, of course, and yet ...unnerving.  If you care to do so, just
let me know briefly what you found so revealing about “the nature of the enemy.”
  I also wonder what I may have said that brought the idea of “university
indoctrination” to the table,, but that’s secondary to our polar disagreement
(apparently) on Peck’s analysis of “evil” and what can be done about it.

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By ReadingJones, March 25, 2012 at 6:12 am Link to this comment


Chomsky was correct. I think you are naive on the
subject of university indoctrination. It takes great
personal effort to avoid having your opinions skewed
by the perch from which you view the universe.
Provincialism is endemic. Perhaps it is impossible to
avoid being biased by your background but with effort
and great care you can at least be aware of it in
part: Of that which is in vague outline glimpsed
momentarily through the fog. University
indoctrination was recognized going back at least to
the 1400’s. Please believe that I mean you no harm by
saying this. I admire the keen edge of your

The only hope we have of successfully opposing the
Predator Class and their lackeys lies in truth
clearly spoken. That is why the trolls, the nutjobs,
the provocateurs who espouse violence must be
opposed. They are owned or encouraged by the
Predators. The Predators recognize the danger which
the truth puts them in so they employ the idiots and
scabs and consciously evil to obscure the truth. M.
Scott Peck wrote a book about evil called “The People
of the Lie.” It is a useful beginning toward
understanding the nature of the enemy.

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By thecrow, March 25, 2012 at 4:43 am Link to this comment

“Since 9/11…”

Of course.

“Violence can only be concealed by a lie, and the lie can only be maintained by violence.”

- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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By Maani, March 24, 2012 at 5:55 pm Link to this comment

You heard it here first: I am predicting a Kent State-type incident on a college or university campus by the end of 2012, where peaceful protesters are shot and killed by law enforcement.

The question is: what effect, if any, will that have on anything?

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By gerard, March 24, 2012 at 5:31 pm Link to this comment

rend it:  But that has not always been so. Only since the U.S. has been slowly freaking out over a period of the last 50 years or so. I remember the first assault of “loyalty oath” fits.  Three of us “temps” refused to sign and quit in preference. All the rest of the department told us separately and in whispers that they “wished they could do the same” but ...they had families to feed and mortgages to pay.

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By rend it, March 24, 2012 at 5:16 pm Link to this comment

Was it Chomsky who said institutions of higher education are really just about indoctrination?

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By gerard, March 24, 2012 at 4:35 pm Link to this comment

Proving that Julian Assange was right when he said that conspirators don’t like it when their secrets are exposed, but democratic government is impossible unless its secrets become public information—or words to that effect.

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By A. Benway, March 24, 2012 at 10:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It may be a disagreeable development, and one with very undesirable effect, but it is also understandable in historical context, as the Fabian strategies being employed in response to imperial ambitions begin to undermine the relationship between the state and the people.

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