Who can resist the latest books by investigative journalist and author Annie Jacobsen? She of the sleek brown hair, studious glasses, and sexy voice, writing about war and weapons, security and secrets. Critics accuse her of putting out error-filled works of non-fiction, of not checking the sources of her sources, or of writing subpar end notes. Admirers wonder how she gets access to such influential—legendary even—people within our country’s security and intelligence communities. She even comes across as challenging them on pivotal points throughout her writings.
She’s as prolific as any one-book-a-year-or-two genre author. In 2011, she released “Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base.” Spoiler alert: It wasn’t aliens but child guinea pigs surgically altered by Nazi scientists that the USSR employed after World War II. The premise was to terrify American citizens—a Russian psyop. (Not that patriots watch or trust the news anymore, but does anyone besides me think all the UFO stories serve as another way to distract liberty lovers from the actual state of the nation?) “Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America” came out in 2014 and revealed that the U.S. also incorporated Nazi scientists into government work. “The Pentagon’s Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA, America’s Top Secret Military Research Agency” (2015) was selected as a 2016 Pulitzer Prize finalist in the history category. The Pulitzer Prize is fraught with liberal bias, as are The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and Amazon Editors, all of which chose the book for their “best of” year-end lists, but it’s still notable that the book received extensive attention. “Phenomena: The Secret History of the U.S. Government’s Investigations into Extrasensory Perception and Psychokinesis” hit the shelves in early 2017, and was followed-up by “Surprise, Kill, Vanish: The Secret History of CIA Paramilitary Armies, Operators, and Assassins” in 2019.
If there’s anything we can say about our secret service agencies, it’s that they’re very good at what they do. No matter how nefarious their goals or unethical their methods, they are masters at controlling the narrative. One can almost envision them sitting around a table, saying, “It can’t look like we’re feeding her everything. We have to let her do her ‘investigative journalist’ thang, even if she uncovers embarrassing details about the U.S. Department of Defense, or the U.S. Army, or the Central Intelligence Agency, or the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In fact, let’s just go ahead and plant whatever we want her to uncover.” “Brilliant!” someone says. “Run with it,” chimes another. In fact, it’s been going on since the dawn of time: Control the narrative with an emotionally captivating story, and you control the populous. Annie may or may not be controlled opposition, but she’s a master at taking an emotion-packed storyline and following the evidence to its wider-reaching affects on society as a whole.
We the populace just keep treading water in a sea of information, not knowing for sure what is true and what isn’t, who the friendlies are, who the enemies are? Reasoning brings us ’round and ’round, back to where we started, and as the saying goes, when a people doesn’t know what to believe, you can do anything with them. The power brokers in this country at this point in time want us to believe that we haven’t lost any freedoms, that nothing in our lives has changed except an increase in our anxieties and depressions. It’s a lie. It’s a big lie. The theory goes that if it’s a big enough lie, the people will believe it because nobody would be so audacious as to lie in such a colossal manner. The fact is, we’re living under communism. You’re either for the state party; or you’re for the resistance. Can you imagine? We’re living at a time in history when being a Constitutional conservative, a Christian, a patriot, even a squishy liberty-loving libertarian means you’re an insurgent.
Interesting. So what did our country do in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Yes, they used biometric data—fingerprints, iris scans, gait, smell, DNA, speech patterns, how you interact with the land, what your daily patterns predict about your future behavior, and more—to tag and track bad guys. Jacobsen’s latest book, “First Platoon, A Story of Modern War in the Age of Identity Dominance” (2021) explores how the DOD’s obsession with collecting biometrics led not only to civilian casualties in a war zone, which however minimized in modern conflicts is still a tragic but expected byproduct of war, to essentially sacrificing the bodies, minds, and lives of our own men, both on the battlefield and at home.
Although biometric-tracking technology has been under development since fingerprints were first used to solve crimes, the exponentially rapid advancement of computing power and memory within increasingly smaller packages, made it feasible to launch during the Iraq War and to attempt to perfect during the war in Afghanistan. Jacobsen illustrates some of the many ways in which this tracking system can go horribly wrong. It took an ethical soldier to put the brakes on the killing of a misidentified Afghan. Identification is supposed to assess all the data and not depend solely on any single piece. Names, for example, are repetitive and shape-shift in the Stan, dates of birth are unknown, items of clothing can be shared, given away, or lost and picked up by others. In one example, a man with a purple hat was targeted as a bomb-maker, but it turned out that in early morning light, cameras register other colors as purple. The life of a civilian farmer was saved because a human, who is genetically hard-wired to recognize other humans, knew a mistake was being made. Humans must always be part of the decision-making process or our society is doomed.
The case of 1st Platoon, C Troop, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division was one of sacrificial lamb without the glory of redemption. In rapid succession, the platoon lost a series of true leaders from within its ranks; 1LT Clint Lorance was tapped as replacement platoon leader. Lorance lacked combat experience, but other gaps in his training would have a deeper affect on him psychologically. First, he was not U.S. Army Ranger qualified, and in the Army, officers who went through the rigorous Ranger School, even if they never served in a Ranger Battalion, were perceived to be more highly favored for assignments, schools, and promotions. Whether it was true, or whether it simply amounted to a confidence boost for the officer and thereby improved his leadership acumen, didn’t matter. The perception was that if you didn’t wear a Ranger patch on your shoulder, you would not advance as an officer. In conversations with a friend, Lorance revealed he was only too familiar with this reality. In addition, as the war in Afghanistan wound down, Lorance’s chances of earning his Combat Infantry Badge was likewise diminishing. In other words, leading this platoon—in combat—was, in his mind at least, his sole chance to advance as an officer and thereby stay in the military.
Although he had served honorably as a traffic officer in Korea and as a detainee guard in Iraq, his stint as platoon leader lasted three days and resulted in as many war crimes. He repeatedly ordered his interpreter to deliver verbal threats to civilian villagers, which is against the rules of engagement and notably against the “rule of law” approach the Americans were trying to foster in the tribal-based country. He ordered harassing fire—also against the rules of engagement—on civilian villagers to force them to go to a shura meeting. As someone who had spent his time thus far in Afghanistan in the TOC (Tactical Operations Center), Lorance would have been aware of all that had happened to 1st Platoon so far, and he verbalized that he felt deeply for the unit, hated the Taliban and associated insurgents, and didn’t want anything to further harm the men. He met with each of them individually, and had the best of intentions to be a good officer. He was counseled by a superior about his infractions in the hopes that it was just jitters that could now be put behind him. It only got worse.
Lorance would be tried and convicted of the murder of two Afghan civilians. Later biometric data would be used to identify the victims as known insurgents, but the Army rejected appeals on Lorance’s behalf. Eventually, the narrative that an American Army officer was convicted of war crimes for simply doing his job took hold in the media. Sean Hannity covered the story, and United American Patriots (UAP), a non-profit that raises money to defend soldiers accused of war crimes, picked up the case. Lorance’s defense mobilized Republican congress people to pressure the Army to review its conviction. It did, knocking one year off of Lorance’s sentence but not reversing it. UAP increased its fundraising receipts by 150 percent because good-hearted Americans believed what they were being told. Eventually, President Donald J. Trump pardoned Lorance after he’d served six of his 19-year sentence. It turns out, though, that it was all a farce. There was a mixup in the biometric data. Lorance had indeed, as all his platoon members testified, ordered the killing of innocent farmers.
Whether the President and the American people were duped, or the President was in on a campaign to free—on the financial backs of military supporters, namely conservatives—an ill-prepared lieutenant caught up not so much in a war as in a biometric data collection exercise to control the populace en mass doesn’t really matter. Jacobsen wonders aloud—do listen to the audio for the full effect of her voice—about the implications of biometric data collection and tracking back home. The Department of Homeland Security uses Palantir Technologies programs to track illegal entry into the country. The FBI uses the same technology to predict future behavior as a means of preventing and solving crime. And the intelligence community—what? Uses the same technology to control certain groups of Americans? Without their knowledge or consent, or at least not their informed consent?
Jacobsen stops shy of telling us exactly what Palantir Technologies is, or rather who owns it? Ever hear of the PayPal Mafia? Me neither. It consists of a group of PayPal employees who resisted the more traditional corporate culture of eBay when eBay bought PayPal. They quit and went on to found other tech companies, and includes the likes of Elon Musk; Steve Chen and Jawed Karim, co-founders of YouTube; Russell Simmons and Jeremy Stoppelman, co-founders of Yelp; Yishan Wong, CEO of Reddit; Reid Hoffman, Facebook investor and founder of Linkedin; and many many others—most of whom attended Stanford University in California or the University of Illinois in Champagne-Urbana. Palantir was founded by Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal, and its CEO is Alex Karp, whose doctorate at Stanford was entitled “Aggression in the life-world: The extension of Parsons‘ concept of aggression by describing the connection between jargon, aggression, and culture.” You know, watch your words and all, because once you start speaking the jargon of your tribe, you get all spun up. This must be why they change military acronyms every decade or so. I don’t know; just guessing.
Thiel is considered a libertarian with national conservative leanings, and Karp is an outright socialist. In other words, although the company website gives lip service to privacy rights and Western values of liberty, they both undoubtedly want you in their database. In fact, they don’t even have to ask you to be in their database—and that is a huge problem if you truly believe in the right to privacy. I’m not talking about cataloging how you talk, how you walk, the mathematical pattern of your irises, how you smell, your DNA, your habits, your known associates, what you buy, how you manage your money, or any other method of external surveillance. I’m talking about using every single piece of that data to conduct highly specified psychological operations on you to control how you think and act. It could be for good, or a radicalization into bad—neither of which will be by your choice.
It all sounds great when you’re talking about targeting leaders of bomb-making terrorists cells in an inhospitable land mired in tribal loyalties and rivalries, perverted by sexism, child-molestation, and endless violence. It sounds great with illegal cartel members, coyotes, child sex traffickers entering our country illegally. It’s certainly useful in catching a serial killer or other violent criminal. It’s another thing altogether when it’s Mr. and Mrs. Smith down the lane with their two kids in college. Is it OK to target them if they’re socialists? Would it be OK to target their Antifa-supporting daughter? How would it be if they targeted a conservative couple because they owned firearms, or because their son served in the military? In fact, I’m beginning to belatedly wonder if veterans aren’t already targeted by suicide-inducing psychotropics, high-THC-concentrations of marijuana, and social engineering. There’s nothing a socialist takeover wants more than to get rid of the people who know how to fight. There’s nothing a transhumanist movement wants more than to get rid of the people who know how to fight—only we have not the first clue how to fight this battle. We can only follow it, press for laws that beef up privacy rights, and strengthen our knowledge of our country’s history and Judeo-Christian foundings.
What makes humans unique is our kaleidoscope of emotions and our ability to love and empathize with each other. The lure to play God, to obtain immortality through physical enhancements, and to live in an artificial world where everything is perfectly made for you through artificial intelligence, robotics, mindclones, and holograms is heady stuff if you’re a post-humanist securalist; terrifying if you prefer God to be your God.