In 2011 the global surveillance system Echelon to listen in and chart fixed and mobile TELEPHONE conversations and text messages had been in operation for years. The info (metadata) of who-talked-to-whom on the phone was much more telling about suspects and their patterns of cooperation than what they said to eachother. And even with crypto of the audio channel (which attracts attention anyway) the caller and called parties on the phone where revealed.
The generals could not imagine that state-dangerous insurgents and terrorist would be so foolish to use email or other open internet related media like chat and texting to discuss and organize. That is however exactly what they did and still do. Just hidden in the huge flow of bla bla of the general public. Billions of messages each day. By the way the rebels that are/where applauded by the West did/do that too. I remember a very moving speech to promote “Internet Freedom” in The Hague by then US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, who condemned the dictators who blocked Internet during the Arab Spring.
When internet at last appeared on the radar of the generals decisions must have been made to gather information about everything every moment by everybody to find the needles hidden in this huge and growing haystack. Everything, yes everything. Is that what we want ? No. It disturbs the balance of political powers, devided on purpose to prevent dictatorship and the re-emergence of central command & control fascism.And all is in vain, because central command and control of nation states is too slow to respond and unable to handle big complexity, as compared to connected distributed swarms on Internet.
My guess is that whatever the generals try to do they will never get the Global Civil Society, using distributed authority and many novel communication and coordination tools, under their control. Why? Because it does not make sense to attack your own innovative population and especially not the brightest of them all: your own technicians and whistleblowers, who warned that what was constructed is useless and destructive. It is a signal to the world that the leadership of the USA has stopped to understand what they are doing which will paradoxialy only decrease their influence and sovereignty. An empire in decline just like the other nation states, outdated in the Internet Age.
The young digerati are our planets only hope in dark ages ahead.
And a new military campaign in Syria (despite lots of NewSpeak) is great to distract the world from what are our real problems. It is the last thing we need now during the crisis.
Would be a good start ! US Congress is disconnected from the people anyway.
Jaap van Till, Connectivist