March 28, 2015
Repress U, Class of 2012
Posted on Mar 24, 2012
By Michael Gould-Wartofsky, TomDispatch
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.
Square, Site wide
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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