Anticipatory Surveillance and the New Military Urbanism

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Information about Anticipatory Surveillance and the New Military Urbanism
News & Politics

Published on February 24, 2014

Author: sdng1


Anticipatory Surveillance and the New Military Urbanism Stephen Graham Newcastle University

“Securocratic Wars” •  “The promise of the traditional liberal state was to preserve the liberal order inside, while the realm of the outside was thought to be condemned to be dominated by resolutely illiberal state practices. What was normal within the national state borders was exceptional outside and vice versa. The police was to preserve civil peace inside, while the military waged war outside” Didier Bigo •  Now “a de-differentiation of the realm of the internal and the realm of the external. The difference between the liberal and the illiberal, the norm and the exception, is no longer fixed by state borders. The limits between the internal and the external are moving” Didier Bigo •  “The terror war, with its enemies within and without, polices populations at home and abroad with equal zeal and technique” (Randy Martin)

•  Securocratic wars (Allen Feldman) are open-ended and deterritorialised wars (on drugs, crime, terror, illegal immigration, biological threats…). •  Not merely concerned wirth territorial conquest. Rather, they also aim to counter “imputed territorial contamination and transgression -- ‘terrorist’ demographic and biological infiltration.” •  “De-territorialized securocratic war promotes an ideology of paranoid space in which borders leak, be these of the body politic or the individual body []the securocratic ideology fixes upon an iconography of demonized border-crossing figures and forces, including drug dealers, terrorists, asylum seekers, undocumented immigrants and microbes.” (Feldman ). •  Continually try and separate purportedly risky/malign amd risk free/benign bodies and circulations

Linked Shift in Military Doctrine: From Battlefields to “Battlespace” •  ‘Battlespace’ is “deep, high, wide, and simultaneous: there is no longer a front or a rear” (Blackmore, 2005) •  Multi-scalar: nano to planetary •  Nonlinear, ‘swarming’ forces operating within and through cities across transnational scales •  All terrain a ‘battlespace’ within permanent state of exception and mobilisation: ‘new normal’ •  Collapse of military-civil distinctions •  Slips into a discourse where “life itself is war.” (Phil Agre)

Several, Related Strands: Asymmetric/ Unrestricted/ Fourth Generation Warfare •  “America’s way of thinking about conflicts is changing, accommodating reluctantly a complicated world of distributed, highly variable threats both in civilian and battlefield environments where the front lines are no longer brightly lit.” •  Mark P. Mills, ICX Technologies, Inc.

‘Unrestricted Warfare’ Necessitating States of Exception: Complete Collapse CivilMilitary Distinctions? Everyday Urban Sites and Infrastructures Rendered as Weapons Within Boundless and Permanent ‘Low Intensity Conflict’

Urbanizing Battlespace •  Securocratic wars work to “reinscribe the imaginative geography of the deviant, atypical, abnormal ‘other’ inside the spaces of daily life.” Louise Amoore •  ”Cities historically are the places where radical ideas ferment, dissenters find allies and discontented groups find media attention" US Marines ‘98 •  ”Everything worth fighting for is in the urban environment.” James Lasswell, Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory •  “The city [is] not just the site, but the very medium of warfare – a flexible, almost liquid medium that is forever contingent and in flux” Weizman

But Cities Seen as Interrupters of Networked Omniscience “In simple terms walls tend to get in the way of today’s battlefield communications and sensor technologies” (Hewis h and Pengelley, 2001) “The technologies traditionally ascribed to the current Revolution in Military Affairs phenomenon will have negligible impact on Military Operations in Urban Terrain” (Harris, 2003)

•  The solution? ‘Armed Vision’ and ubiquitous, permanent, targeting, tracking, locating… •  Preemptively and continually identify, locate and track ‘targets’ from the almost infinite mass of possibilities within cities, circulations and systems of flow •  In the absence of a uniformed, identifiable enemy, basically mobilise permanently against the whole population and its circulations •  Require systems blending sensors, databases and communications systems to continually “distinguish between friend and enemy” (Bottomley and Moore)

Crossing the Homeland-War Zone ‘Seam’

Convergence Policing, Intelligence and Military Power

Militarisation of Policing

‘Policisation’ of Military Power

• “Airport surveillance, internet filters, passport tracking devices, legal detention without criminal charges, security internment camps, secret trials, “free speech zones”, DNA profiles, border walls and fences, erosion of the line between internal security and external military action – these security activities resonate together, engendering a national security machine that pushes numerous issues outside the range of legitimate dissent and mobilizes the populace to support new security and surveillance practices against underspecified enemies.” Willaim Connolly, • .

Selling Security States

Multiscale Security Networks

Urban Warfare Shaped Through Domestic Urban Paradigms

Meanwhile an ‘Iraqification’ of Domestic Response: ‘Urban Operations’ Against ‘Insurgents’ to ‘Reclaim’ New Orleans

“Predictive Battlespace Awareness” •  “To fight terrorism through data mining and link analysis, and by exploiting such technologies as “biometric signatures of humans” and “human network analysis. In practical terms, this meant that it would attempt to identify terrorists by linking databases, then scanning for suspicious activity the financial, medical, travel, and government records of millions of Americans.” Pruett and Michael Longarzo, U.S. Army War College

Ride on the back of systems built up as part of the drive for the geo-demographic and social-sorting of consumers

From Globe-Spanning Reach to Microgeography

Tracking-Targeting-Locating: A ‘New Manhattan Project’ •  Defense Science Board (2004) US forces need another “Manhattan Project” for tracking and locating targets in ‘assymetric’ urban warfare to “locate, identify and track people, things and activities in an environment of one in a million”

E.g. Biometric Cross-Overs •  “In the domestic space” within national borders,“the new 'normal' biopolitical relationship between the citizen and the state affords sovereign power the ability to appropriate and register the biological life of bodies.” In “the 'international' space,” meanwhile, “biometrics is becoming an ever powerful tool on war on terror's battlefield du jour.” Measor and Muller,

•  “Truth comes to reside not in the behavior or speech of bodies or in the assumption of one’s body and the attendant social and political possibilities and responsibilities that embodiment entails. Rather, truth is to be found in the information encoded in iris scans and digital fingerprints, thereby doing away with the problem of the global citizen’s agency altogether. Truth resides in the relationship between the scanned individual and the information held in U.S. databases.” Rachel Hall

Three Interlocking Spheres: 1. -Preemptive Surveillance of ‘Homeland’ New Strategic Command ‘Northcom’

Within proliferation of ‘zero tolerance’ and ‘anti terror’ policing, preemptive detention, ASBOs, banning orders, curfews and free speech zones work to undermine rights to assemble, move and protest. Anti-terror legislation often used to criminalise and ban wider public dissent

Post 9/11 Surveillance Surge

“Pre-emptive Target Recognition” & “Video Analytics”

Tracking and Targeting ‘Anomalies”

Holy Grail of algorithmic and face-recognition CCTV turned towards “Middle Eastern Appearance”


2. Global Homelands: Targeting Transnational Circulations •  “If the territorial model of security that allowed for the building of modern nations states produced and relied on an absolute legal,spatial and ontological divide between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ national space (i.e. police/military, war/ peace, crime/terror), then the current concern for the security of flows of supranational systems problematized these simultaneously social and spatial forms” Deb Cowan and the social. Mimeo. 2 • 

•  “The virtual border, whether it faces outward or inward to foreignness, is no longer a barrier structure but a shifting net, a flexible spatial pathogenesis that shifts round the globe and can move from the exteriority of the transnational frontier into the core of the securocratic state. With global wars of public safety, classifying and surveilling pathogenic space has expanded as a geopolitical strategy” Alan Feldman •  “The targeting of mobile bodies, things, objects or monies is becoming a matter of locating – positioning in the sights, if you like. so that the opportunities of a mobile global economy might be seized, while the capability to take out the target remains. []The technologies that have made possible a global supply chain of export processing zones and offshore sites, are simultaneously being embedded into border crossing cards, visas, passports and immigrant ID cards that include mobile people within governable space by means of their targeted exclusion.” Louise Amoore

“ Security agencies test dangerousness by means of the information contained in their databases. [D]anger is assessed through calculated distinctions based on physical descriptions,attributed religion, citizenship statuses and immigration history. Refugees and undocumented migrants, as well as Muslims or those perceived to be Middle Eastern, Arab or Muslim are cast as potential threats to national security.” Karine Côté-Boucher

NSA Internet Surveillance •  "There are about three or four buildings you need to tap. In L.A. there is 1 Wilshire; in New York, 60 Hudson, and in Miami, the NAP of the Americas.” Stephen Becker, Telegeography.

Container Security Initiative

3. Urban Warfare on the Colonial Frontier

‘Urbanization of Insurgency’ “Opposition forces will camouflage themselves in the background noise of the urban environment. Weapons hidden beneath a cloak, in a child’s carriage, or rolled in a carpet, can get past security personnel undetected” (DIRC 1997)

Dreams of Aerial Domination Persist, Despite Iraq

However, Forced Proximity and Groundedness


Baghdad’s “Gated Communities”

Short Step to Automated, Algorithmic, Robotic State Killing •  ‘ LOCAAS’ equipped with algorithms designed to separate ‘targets’ from ‘nontargets” automatically. •  Ultimate goal, “kill chain solution” based on “1st look, 1st feed, 1st kill” where munitions “seeks out targets on its own” •  humans required to make the decisions to launch only “until UCAVs establish a track record of reliability in finding the right targets and employing weapons properly”. Then the “machines will be trusted to do even that”. •  Lawlor, “autonomous, networked and integrated robots may be the norm rather than the exception by 2025”.

Gordon Johnson, Leader, ‘Unmanned Effects’, US Army’s ‘Project Alpha’: “if it can get within one meter, it’s killed the person who’s firing. So, essentially, what we’re saying is that anyone who would shoot at our forces would die. Before he can drop that weapon and run, he’s probably already dead. Well now, these cowards in Baghdad would have to play with blood and guts every time they shoot at one of our folks. The costs of poker went up significantly. The enemy, are they going to give up blood and guts to kill machines? I’m guessing not”

‘Smart Dust’: Fantasies of Robotised Urban War “Several large fans are stationed outside the city limits of an urban target that our [sic] guys need to take. Upon appropriate signal, what appears like a dust cloud emanates from each fan. The cloud is blown into town where it quickly dissipates. After a few minutes of processing by laptop-size processors, a squadron of small, disposable aircraft ascends over the city. The little drones dive into selected areas determined by the initial analysis of data transmitted by the fan-propelled swarm. Where they disperse their nanopayloads.” Defense Watch 2004

“After this, the processors get even more busy. Within minutes the mobile tactical center have a detailed visual and audio picture of every street and building in the entire city. Every hostile [person] has been identified and located. Unmanned air and ground vehicles can now be vectored directly to selected targets to take them out, one by one. Those enemy combatants clever enough to evade actually being taken out by the unmanned units can then be captured of killed by human elements”

•  Or, RFID Technophilia: “RFID readers at various sites around the market had earlier recorded the car’s arrival in the marketplace by reading {Electronic Product Codes] EPCs from passing RFID tags embedded in the vehicle’s tires and windshield. Other EPCs were recorded at nearly the same instant. A comparison of the readers shows that each had recorded the same sets of EPCs as the car passed by. Investigators are disappointed to learn that none correspond to a biometric ID card or valid license plate, but some of the EPCs correspond to apparel and others to currency, which also can be tracked. By querying RFID readers at chokepoints throughout the area, the vehicle’s EPCs are traced back to a suburban garage that surveillance soon reveals is a bomb-making factory.” Pruett and Longarzo, U.S. Army War College

Conclusions •  “The truth of the continual targeting of the world as the fundamental form of knowledge production is xenophobia, the inability to handle the otherness of the other beyond the orbit that is the bomber’s own visual path. For the xenophobe, every effort needs to be made to sustain and secure this orbit – that is, by keeping the place of the otheras-target always filled.” Rey Chow, •  The obsession with pre-emptive or anticipatory surveillance within the ‘new military urbanism’ is a distillation of stark bio/geopolitics of exception, technophiliac ideologies of permanent war, sci-fi omnipotence fantasies + supply-push. Fuelled by, as well as fuels, cultures of fear/anxiety

•  Complex intersections of political economic imperatives, imaginative geographies, popular geopolitics, surveillance, simulation, entertainment and affect •  Cities ‘battlespace’; residents ‘targets’; war=forced and persistent reorganisation of urban space •  ‘Insides’ and ‘outsides’ blur together within integrated world of ubiquitous battlespace •  Radical ‘rescaling’ of security politics based on attempts to secure valued and purportedly risk-free bodies, places, enclaves and circulations from risky ones across transnational architectures and archipelagos erupting within and without national territorial borders •  Not post-Disciplinary Control Society. Rather, ‘Passage-Point Urbanism’

But… Important Caveats •  Such technophilai is highly contested within US military (especially after Iraq) •  Dramatically Incoherent: Ridden With Contradictions •  Don’t begin to reach levels of military effectiveness and control in what are essentially unwinable wars/unconquerable cities. Also, systems fail, don’t integrate + unintended effects •  As with all imaginative, colonial geographies, new military urbanism says much about domestic urban fantasies, political economies, anxieties and preoccupations •  “Tells us more about Modern Western society than it does about any objective assessment of military options” Jeremy Black

Above all a Politics of Visibility, Tracking and (Attempted) Unveiling

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