Neuroscience, National Security & the “War on Terror”

Operating with little ethical oversight, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has been tapping cutting-edge advances in neuroscience, computers and robotics in a quest to build the “perfect warfighter.”

Dovetailing precisely with other projects to “dominate” the urban “battlespace” of global south and “homeland” cities, DARPA researchers are stretching moral boundaries where clear distinctions between “human” and “machine” are being consciously blurred. (see “Simulating Urban Warfare” and “America’s Cyborg Warriors“)

As the Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics warns,

The right of a person to liberty, autonomy, and privacy over his or her own intellect is situated at the core of what it means to be a free person. This principle is what gives life to some of our most well-established and cherished rights. Today, as new drugs and other technologies are being developed for augmenting, monitoring, and manipulating mental processes, it is more important than ever to ensure that our legal system recognizes and protects cognitive liberty as a fundamental right. (CCLE, “Frequently Asked Questions,” September 15, 2003)

Not only is the right to “liberty, autonomy, and privacy” being undermined by militarizing the life sciences, but the legal system itself is ill-equipped to deal with advances–and emerging threats–to “cognitive liberty” as America’s corporatist surveillance state seek new means to elicit compliance and control over individuals as biological science is securitized under the rubric of “national security.”

In Mind Wars: Brain Research and National Defense (Dana Press, 2006), bioethicist Jonathan Moreno lays out a frightening scenario where various Pentagon agencies with DARPA leading the charge, have been funding neuroscientific and biological research in the following areas:

Mind-machine interfaces, also called “neural prosthetics.” Living robots” whose movements can be controlled via brain implants. Research has successfully been carried out on “roborats” and “robodogs” for mine clearing and other dubious purposes. “Cognitive feedback helmets” that provide commanders or their medical surrogates the ability to remotely view an individual soldiers’ mental state. MRI and fMRI technologies for what has been called “brain fingerprinting” as an interrogation tool or airport screening for “terrorists.” So-called “non-lethal” pulse weapons and other neurodisruptors for deployment in global south or “homeland” cities as “riot control” tools. “Neuroweapons” that use biological agents to stimulate the release of neurotoxins. Research into concocting new pharmaceuticals that inhibit the urge to eat, sleep, suppress fear, or repress psychological inhibitions against killing.

With a multibillion dollar budget and dozens of projects in the pipeline, DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office (DSO) are looking for newer and ever-more insidious means “to harness biology” for military applications. A short list of DSO projects include the following:

* Biological Sensory Structure Emulation (BioSenSE), a program “designed around the concept of understanding biological sensory structures through advanced characterization and emulating, or transferring, this knowledge to the creation of superior synthetic sensors.” The majority of biological stimuli are deemed of “great military relevance” by Darpacrats.

* Cognitive Technology Threat Warning System (CTTWS), the intent of which is to integrate “advances in technology and biology” for a “soldier-portable” visual threat detection device that will utilized “cognitive visual processing algorithms” and “operator neural signature detection.”

* Fundamental Laws of Biology (FLB), is described as a mathematical modeling program that “will impact DoD and national security by developing a rational and predictive basis for doing biological research to combat bioterrorism, maintain healthy personnel, and discover new vaccines and medicines”–or to facilitate the design of new biological weapons.

* Nano Air Vehicle (NAV), described by program managers as as a project that “will develop and demonstrate an extremely small (less than 7.5 cm), ultra-lightweight (less than 10 grams) air vehicle system with the potential to perform indoor and outdoor military missions. The program will explore novel, bio-inspired, conventional and unconventional configurations to provide the warfighter with unprecedented capability for urban mission operations.” Paging John Anderton, white courtesy telephone!

* Neovision “will pursue an integrated approach to the object recognition pathway in the brain. This fundamental biological research will be accomplished using methods intentionally geared toward computational and modeling approaches that are amenable to hardware- and software-based implementations.”

* Peak Soldier Performance (PSP) is designed to “create technologies that allow the warfighter to maintain peak physical and cognitive performance despite the harsh battlefield environment.” In other words, develop drugs and nutrients for a “more efficient” soldier.

* Preventing Sleep Deprivation (PSD) is described as seeking to “enhance operational performance,” under harsh conditions. Current approaches “under investigation” include “novel pharmaceuticals that enhance neural transmission, nutraceuticals that promote neurogenesis, cognitive training, and devices such as transcranial magnetic stimulation.”

* Training Superiority (DARWARS), a suite of programs directly tying the military-industrial and entertainment complexes together into a seamless web. DARWARS seeks to provide “continuously available, on-demand, mission-level training for all forces at all echelons. Specifically, the program is developing, in areas of high military importance, new kinds of cognitive training systems that include elements of human-tutor interactions and the emotional involvement of computer games coupled with the feedback of Combat Training Center learning.” Continuous “on-demand training anywhere, anytime, for everyone.”

As with all dual-use research conducted by the agency, military relevance trump all other considerations. One need only examine the use of psychological research in the “war on terror” for some very troubling analogies.

AugCog

If behavioral psychology was handmaid to the horrors perpetrated at Guantánamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and CIA transnational “black sites,” what new nightmares are in store for humanity when advances in neuroscience, complex computer algorithms and a secretive national security state enter stage (far) right? Let’s take a look.

Amy Kruse, Ph.D., is described on DARPA’s website as the creator of the concept of “operational neuroscience,” designing programs that “are helping transform neuroscience from a laboratory discipline to one that is doing advanced research to deliver revolutionary capabilities important to our warfighters.”

DSO’s “Training and Human Effectiveness” brief claims this suite of programs is “revolutionizing training… for everyone, anywhere, and at any time.” Kruse’s area of expertise is “AugCog” or augmented cognition, a subset of neuroscientific research seeking models for a “brain-machine interface.” Described by the Augmented Cognition International Society (ACI) as

an emerging field of science that seeks to extend a user’s abilities via computational technologies, which are explicitly designed to address bottlenecks, limitations, and biases in cognition and to improve decision making capabilities. The goal of AugCog science and technology is to develop computational methods and neurotech tools that can account for and accommodate information processing bottlenecks inherent in human-system interaction (e.g., limitations in attention, memory, learning, comprehension, visualization abilities, and decision making). (“What is Augmented Cognition?” ACI, no date) [emphasis added]

According to DARPA’s description of the program, Improving Warfighter Information Intake Under Stress (AugCog):

Military operators must frequently perform cognitively demanding tasks in stressful environments. The AugCog Program has developed technologies to mitigate sensory or cognitive overload and restore operational effectiveness by extending the information management capacity of the warfighter. This is accomplished through closed-loop computational systems that adapt to the state of the warfighter and thereby significantly improve performance.

The exploitation of human and other biological systems by DARPA raise profoundly troubling questions of how these security-related applications will be used by the United States to achieve global dominance at any and all cost. A recent article in Military Geospatial Technology reveal the technophilic preoccupations that obsess securocrats.

Imagine a computer that can read human brain waves to assess the lay of the land. It might seem futuristic, but that’s what the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency [NGA] had partially in mind when they awarded contracts under DARPA’s Urban Reasoning and Geospatial Exploitation Technology (URGENT) program. (Cheryl Gerber, “Seeing with Your Brain,” Military Geospatial Technology, Vol. 6, Issue 3, June 5, 2008)

One of URGENT’s “prime contractors, major defense grifter Lockheed Martin, call their “approach to the program Object Recognition via Brain-inspired Technology,” (ORBIT). In conjunction with DARPA’s URGENT program, the AugCog project is based on brain-inspired software that seeks to merge neuroscience with computers to create a technology that promises to deliver “situational awareness” to the “warfighter.” But building complex 3-D mapping systems is merely the initial jump-off point for what may come once “brain-inspired” algorithms are “perfected.”

One “product” that currently aids the “warfighter” and “counterterrorist” officials is called Signature Analyst, designed by corporate grifter SPADAC, a McClean, Virginia defense contractor with close ties to the Department of Homeland Security and the the NGA. According to SPADAC’s website, Signature Analyst

delivers enhanced objectivity by discerning subtle yet powerful and actionable insights, maximizing likelihood of success. Combining predictive analytics with spatial information as well as human terrain and social networking elements, the solution delivers effective consequence modeling and improved confidence in decisions for a range of global operational and business challenges.

The program claims it provides “situational awareness” by “finding commonalities” and “relationships” in distinct, seemingly disparate data sources, including past events, as well as “human terrain” and “social networking” information. As we have described previously, Scaleable Social Network Analysis was a data-mining tool designed by DARPA’s Total Information Awareness office that worked in tandem with the National Security Agency’s illegal spying programs.

One shudders to imagine what “consequences” DARPA and their corporate “partners” are “modeling.” A commercial version of the “product” is in the works. One “benefit” of the Signature Analyst software trumpeted by SPADAC is that will “allow fewer analysts to evaluate more data in less time.” Why its the perfect “predictive” tool for the current capitalist downturn!

Carrying the mechanistic human/machine model a step further, Lockheed Martin and their “partner” Numenta, a California-based software company, are working on applications for the Defense Department. According to Numenta’s website, company founder Jeff Hawkins, author of the 2004 book On Intelligence, has “a deep interest in neuroscience and theories of the neocortex.” We bet he does!

Indeed, Hawkins’ team has designed a suite of software applications, the Numenta Platform for Intelligent Computing (NuPIC), based on what it calls “hierarchical temporal memory (HTM),” a “computing paradigm” that mimics the structure and function of the human neocortex, the area of the brain that handles high-level thought.

John Darvill ORBIT’s chief investigator described Lockheed’s relationship with Numenta to Military Geospatial Technology thusly: “Lockheed has been involved with Numenta technology for two years and is a member of the Numenta Partner Program for technical interchange. We have a collaborative technical relationship with Numenta. We use their technology, modify it and apply it.”

How? According to Numenta CEO Donna Dubinsky, HTM is designed to “be good at what the human brain can do–inference and pattern recognition even in the presence of noise.” In a similar fashion, HTM “learns a model of the world” Dubinsky elaborated, “by exposure through its senses. In the same way, our software is self-learning and has to be exposed to the material that it has to learn. So we train the software. For example, we expose it to a lot of tanks so it learns tank-ness.”

And if the software could be applied to an interrogation archetype, will it then “self-learn” how to “model” a sensory deprivation or psychological torture regimen, individually tailored to an “illegal enemy combatant” after it has been “exposed to the material”? Will the software in other words, be exposed “to a lot of torture so it learns torture-ness”?

Technological dual-use is a slippery slope towards atrocity and unimaginable horror, especially if left in the hands of American militarists.

Back to the Future

Here precisely, lies the crux of the problem of exploiting neuroscience and robotics in a quest for newer and ever more insidious military applications. The potential of neurologically interactive technologies to “enhance” human capabilities, indeed to invade the privacy of human thought, and infringe on the independence of our minds for “reasons of state,” transform biological/medical research into a subset of weapons development.

To be sure, science, and in particular the cognitive sciences, have been seduced by the Pentagon and the CIA in the past. The literature on unethical CIA and Army research into quixotic quests for “mind control” over “enemy” agents and “target” populations–MKULTRA and their perverse offspring–are replete with the horror stories of their abused victims. Indeed, MKULTRA became the ideologically-charged basis for current interrogation and torture practices by the CIA, the military and their “outsourced” partners.

A perusal of the Company’s seminal interrogation manuals, KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation and the Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual-1983 drew liberally from the most up-to-date cognitive research of its time. Indeed, many of the sources cited in KUBARK and HRE were leading behavioral psychologists and psychiatrists “under contract” to the CIA, as documented by historians and researchers John Marks (The Search for the Manchurian Candidate), Alfred W. McCoy (A Question of Torture) and Christopher Simpson (Science of Coercion).

Indeed, as Simpson avers in Science of Coercion, the Human Ecology Fund, a CIA cut-out funneling money to prestigious academics such as Albert Biderman, underwrote research on “captivity behavior” and the efficacy “of drugs, electroshock, violence, and other coercive techniques during interrogation of prisoners.”

Fast forward to the present. As anthropologist Hugh Gusterson writes regarding current Pentagon interest in neuroscientific research today,

individual scientists will tell themselves that, if they don’t do the research, someone else will. Research funding will be sufficiently dominated by military grant makers that it will cause some scientists to choose between accepting military funding or giving up their chosen field of research. And the very real dual-use potential of these new technologies (the same brain implant can create a robosoldier or rehabilitate a Parkinson’s disease sufferer) will allow scientists to tell themselves that they are “really” working on health technologies to improve the human lot, and the funding just happens to come from the Pentagon. (“The Militarization of Neuroscience,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 9 April 2007)

In the final analysis, DARPA, the Pentagon agency that brought us the internet, are now searching for the means to militarize the human mind itself, viewed as the ultimate platform for imperialist domination and social control.

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His articles are published in many venues. He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military "Civil Disturbance" Planning, distributed by AK Press. Read other articles by Tom, or visit Tom's website.

5 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Arch Stanton said on July 30th, 2008 at 11:48am #

    This is the kind of thing that would have made the nazis blush. Fortunately, science, fascism and pork-barrel pipe dreams tend not to pan out very well.

  2. Brian Koontz said on July 30th, 2008 at 3:55pm #

    It hardly matters how they pan out if they are tried again, and again, and again.

    Capitalism’s motto is “always more”. The end state of that process is fascism. So it hardly matters whether or not any of the participants thinks it’s going to “pan out”, no more so than it matters to an insatiable shark that his next meal might rupture his stomach.

    Besides, world fascism only has to succeed once and it’s game over. It might as well be tried again, and again, and again, give the “benefits” of successful dominance.

    “This time, this time we’ll get it right”.

    “The war to end all wars”.

  3. Kippen Ayaout said on July 30th, 2008 at 8:36pm #

    I have been “trafficking” in AugCog and many DARPA projects in a way that I am not directly involved but have enough involvement to have input. I am intentionally being vague here to protect my employers.

    I read this article with a great degree of amusement; it highlights the saying “A little knowledge is dangerous.” A knife can be used to cut vegetables and meat for cooking so that we may live, or it can be used against another person so that he or she may die. Any and all of what you outline above have that double-edge. You have intentionally written this article to speculate that government or military have no desire but absolute dominance and the destruction of all that is good. Again, like the knife, the military can be used for good, or for bad. You might be deeply troubled to find out that DARPA and the US military are working for the good.

    I’ve had to delve into several of the DARPA projects, the technologies, their purpose and applications, especially AugCog. Obviously, you have chosen to speculate that it is nothing but for evil and dark intents.

    The work of AugCog is to assist, for example, a soldier out in combat, who is undergoing tremendous stress. It seeks to automate what the soldier might need to do or provide information. Is there an enemy combatant around the corner? Is there a tank rolling down the street about to fire at his position? Is the soldier too stressed out to receive this important information? Before it can assist the soldier, it has to assess the soldier’s status. Is he too busy to be assisted? What can he be assisted in?

    Another application of AugCog is, for example, the future FAA traffic controllers (TC’s), at the public airports or at the military airports. Too many planes to guide, too many factors to consider to prevent collisions or accidents, systems are being designed to assist the TC’s from stressing out and missing those little details that lead to accidents. Again, it has to assess the mental state of the TC’s. Breathing heavily, sweating, blood pressure, brain wave activity, etc, etc., are indicators. As much as you’d like to wish how evil DARPA is so that you can write your conspiracy pieces, there is no technology out there, even imagined, that can read human thoughts. Even if there were, there is not enough computational power available in the next 50 years to make use of that information.

    FYI, DARPA may be funded by the government, but the people who decide on what projects DARPA should work on are regular people, not military or government or intelligence agency people. They are called Program Managers who have a 2-year limited stint. They are rotated in and out from the technical industry. Program Managers are not permanent employees. They HAVE to leave after 2 years and go back to their everyday engineering or scientific jobs. Many of them are professors from the liberal universities who teach that government is evil. UC Berkeley, for example, that’s in your backyard. Maybe you should start bugging their desks and listening in to their conversations. They may be plotting the demise of modern civilization.

  4. Tom Burghardt said on July 31st, 2008 at 9:31am #

    Kippen Ayaout,

    Thanks for your thoughtful and critical comments on my piece.

    First off, I understand how DARPA works and how their program managers are selected, their 2 years stints, etc. You no doubt, also (or should) understand the nature of the state/corporate revolving door and the concept “public-private partnership:” public money, private profit, little or no accountability.

    My point was: why is the U.S. government financing research that can potentially turn neuroscientific discoveries into weapons? Certainly you are aware that the Pentagon are investigating the possibility of fielding neuroweapons–neurodisruptors and the like, either through microwaves or chemical/biological agents that release or stimulate the production of neurotoxins–under the rubric of course, that these are “non-lethal weapons.” They’ve already fielded electromagnetic (microwave) weapons in Iraq as a “crowd control” platform. No “conspiracy” here, Kippen, these are the facts.

    Nor Kippen, did I state that all AugCog research is “evil,” as you imply. I did however raise the question of how AugCog will be used by the Pentagon; certainly a valid concern. You say AugCog will “assist” the soldier; my question is more fundamental: why is the soldier invading and occupying someone else’s country in the first place? Do we (taxpayers and citizens) need to provide invaders with better tools to complete the “mission”? Is the invasion and occupation of Iraq then, a “civilizing” mission, a moral imperative?

    Nor Kippen, did I damn neuroscience or brain research in general. I did however question quite forcefully: “If behavioral psychology was handmaid to the horrors perpetrated at Guantánamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and CIA transnational “black sites,” what new nightmares are in store for humanity when advances in neuroscience, complex computer algorithms and a secretive national security state enter stage (far) right?”

    You didn’t answer my question, nor even approach it. Why?

    While there are no “mind control” weapons, I believe I made that pretty clear in my piece, DARPA, HSARPA, et. al., have been exploring fMRI and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) for use as a “brain fingerprinter,” that is a device that can tell whether or not a person is truthful, by identifying the regions in the brain associated with lying. According to Jonathan Moreno in “Mind Wars,” the FBI and CIA invested some $1 million in research dollars to see if its possible. The intent of their various manufacturers (there are several different systems) is to have the technology admissible in court, despite the fact they’re no more reliable than a polygraph. As Moreno points out, the systems are not evaluable since the methods use to test their techniques are proprietary. MRI is an awesome diagnostic tool that does indeed provide great benefit for the medical sciences. “Brain fingerprinting,” not so awesome. But let’s deploy them as airport screening tools or in courtrooms anyway; “trust us” seems to be the operative mind-set at DARPA.

    Given the dual-use nature of neuroscientific discoveries, many of which can have potential benefit to sufferers from Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries, etc. wouldn’t a more humane approach be to exclude the Pentagon from getting their hands on the results and attempting to fabricate weapons? Isn’t this what the Departments of Health & Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control, or other neutral agencies are for? Why not provide universities and medical centers adequate funding for such research? That would seem an ethical approach. But this is America and the corporate dogs of war rule the roost.

    I am neither a Luddite nor a conspiracist. Unfortunately, we have been witnesses to the perversion of science by militarism in our lifetimes; why should we “trust” DARPA or the Pentagon to do any different when it comes to tinkering with the fundamental “stuff” that makes us human, our minds? This is hardly paranoia given the track record of the U.S. government. Take a walk through Ellen Welsome’s horrifying exploration of U.S. government radiation experiments on unwitting test subjects, “The Plutonium Files.” The top scientists and doctors of the period were complicit in what was described by insiders at the time as “the Buchenwald touch.” Why would you believe it would be any different today? “Trust us”? Really, now!

    As Hugh Gusterson pointed out (quoted in my piece) the dual-use nature of these technologies “will allow scientists to tell themselves that they are ‘really’ working on health technologies to improve the human lot, and the funding just happens to come from the Pentagon.”

    While such justifications may help you sleep at night, they are rather dubious nevertheless. While “a little knowledge,” Kippen, “is dangerous,” blind trust represents a far greater danger.

  5. Kippen Ayaout said on August 9th, 2008 at 1:39am #

    Tom,
    You wrote:
    “My point was: why is the U.S. government financing research that can potentially turn neuroscientific discoveries into weapons?”

    …potentially does not imply action. It is still a possibility, just as the knife can cut a vegetable or a human being. Again, you point only to the weapons, the evil side of the possibility. Did you even once mention what I discussed above about saving the lives of everyday plane passengers? This very medium that you are using, the Internet, was created from DARPA funding for, oh…, military purposes. Pretty scary invention, don’t you think? It has really wrought a lot of death and destruction in today’s world.

    You write:
    “…the Pentagon are investigating the possibility of fielding neuroweapons–neurodisruptors and the like, either through microwaves or chemical/biological agents that release or stimulate the production of neurotoxins–under the rubric of course, that these are “non-lethal weapons.”

    …these “microwave neurodisruptors” were invented as an alternative to guns that would kill the opposing soldiers. Instead, they are like tasers; they stop the aggressors without killing them. Chemical and biological agents are now prohibited and can’t be funded by DARPA, so I don’t know what you’re talking about there.

    you wrote:
    “my question is more fundamental: why is the soldier invading and occupying someone else’s country in the first place?”

    That obviously is not in the domain of AugCog, but rather, in the hands of politicians that you vote for. DARPA’s current programs are meant to reduce the number of soldiers needed to fight the politicians’ wars, instead having more “capability per soldier” and having technology substitute for the human presence. There will be less soldiers invading, but hey, that’s not the Pentagon’s call, it’s the President’s and Congress.

    you wrote:
    “If behavioral psychology was handmaid to the horrors perpetrated at Guantánamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and CIA transnational “black sites,” what new nightmares are in store for humanity when advances in neuroscience, complex computer algorithms and a secretive national security state enter stage (far) right?”

    …certainly, AugCog wouldn’t be involved in assisting the soldiers since the prisoners would be the ones under stress, not the soldiers. You talk like you sympathize with the terrorists more than America. Guantanamo Bay holds prisoners from the war against the terrorists. These people were caught on the battlefield, fighting from the other side. Can you explain your sympathy towards them??? Those people, by every definition, executed the modern day equivalent of Pearl Harbor on American soil; they declared war on America. Do you have any way to refute that your compatriot Osama bin Laden was in Afghanistan? Anyway, turning a blind eye to your anti-American sentiments, people will do bad things whether they are tasked with it or not. As in Abu Ghraib, the soldiers acted like they did in high school, bullies when they had the upper hand. At least, they didn’t kill them; well, not all of them. Bullies, zeal gone wrong, yes people will do bad things in the name of good. I’m not excusing that. I’ve done that many times and will keep doing that. Are you perfect? As a country, we, at least work hard to do better.

    you wrote:
    “…fMRI…that is a device that can tell whether or not a person is truthful, by identifying the regions in the brain associated with lying.”

    This is not accurate. We already have Polygraphs to detect lying. We even have drugs to make people tell the truth, I forget the name but it’s been around since the ’50′s or ’60′s. You mention fMRI to again construe AugCog as an evil effort. That’s not what it’s there for. Again, it measures the person’s perception of situations – attention or the lack of it.

    rephrasing your words:
    …Pentagon…vs Dept of Health…DARPA money…why is the military getting the money and not the Health agencies or research organizations?

    It might be of interest for you to know that AugCog is also a program with the NIH, the National Institute of Health, who is providing funding to research organizations as well. AugCog and fMRI is also being used in developing commercial applications to improve lives, as most of DARPA-funded technologies have gone. The FAA is also very interested.

    you wrote:
    “As Hugh Gusterson pointed out (quoted in my piece) the dual-use nature of these technologies ‘will allow scientists to tell themselves that they are ‘really’ working on health technologies to improve the human lot, and the funding just happens to come from the Pentagon.’”

    There are too many issues to discuss in terms of why funding is executed the way it currently is, many of which I would have to guess at. Perhaps, it is because most of modern scientific research started getting funded by the WWII efforts, then the Cold War efforts, and now, the War on Terrorism. Non-military funding never really found a strong voice, advocate, or direction. Thus, most of modern technology that we all enjoy today, came from military funding. This is just the way that it has evolved. In truth, there are more products and applications of these researches that have made human life better, rather than ending them. Unfortunately, non-governmental funding never comes in unless it makes a lot of money, such as in developing condoms, birth control pills, abortion-related technologies, sex-related drugs. From a vague overview of what I know – so I could be wrong – there seems to be more money for sex-related pharmaceuticals than there is for cancer or other leading causes of death. Why don’t you question that?

    I came from a research background so I’ve seen this first-hand. One example I know is where a major research organization was making major cancer-fighting discoveries when ALL their funding from the drug companies and commercial entities suddenly dried up. They had to stop all their research and let go of all their scientists. Just like Detroit doesn’t really want to make a fuel-efficient car, or the Democrats don’t want to see the African-Americans get better lives for themselves, the drug companies don’t want people to be better. It’s not good for business.

    you wrote:
    “But this is America and the corporate dogs of war rule the roost….we have been witnesses to the perversion of science by militarism in our lifetimes….While “a little knowledge,” Kippen, “is dangerous,” blind trust represents a far greater danger.”

    Above is your motto. I didn’t set out to convince you as you already had America convicted before you even had all the facts. Still, ” a little knowledge is dangerous.” Blind trust is not what I have; as I said I “traffic” in these things and I have input, but am not directly involved. I don’t need blind trust, I know what’s going on. As I said, you keep dwelling on the “potentially evil” side of things, yet you never visit all the good things that DARPA technologies have done or have spawned off. They have MEMS or nanotechnology programs that are finding their way into tons of medical or commercial use, or many new non-military applications that had never been thought of. Your I-phone uses one of these. They are developing computer technologies that are decades ahead in order to revamp the FAA and air traffic, but will surely redefine computing, networking, and the Internet version 2. They are working on robotic technologies to automatically drive cars, somewhat of an offshoot of their military technologies. You’ve convicted DARPA as military funding (“wouldn’t a more humane approach be to exclude the Pentagon from getting their hands on the results and attempting to fabricate weapons?”), but you’ve never brought these up.

    “Trust us” is not an operative word with DARPA. It is plain to see for everyone which programs are military and which ones are not. The concepts are tossed out but the technology is left to the applicants to hash out. Research organizations know when their technologies are going to the military or not. They don’t need to trust DARPA. Theirs is the decision. They apply for it or not. If they don’t want to do it, they can do what I did and not participate in military applications.

    There are things out there that I know of that are going on that I would never want to have anything to do with. I worked hard for my education and found out that the only jobs available afterwards were for building missiles. As a result, I’ve gone in different directions and have suffered financially for my choice not to be involved with those things.

    However, I am pragmatic. There will always be wars, people will always fight, nations will always invade other nations. No one is perfect. As a country, the US has one of the best records out there, probably except for neutral Switzerland. Not even cowardly and arrogant France can claim a clean record (colonies in Algeria, the Middle East, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos). We got the first nukes and have never used them except to end WWII when the choice was losing 500,000 to 1 Million+ of our own soldiers to nuking people who were willing to fight to the last person. They were given 2 separate warnings. They invaded us, but the choice was still not made lightly. We went back and rebuilt their country after they invaded us, to the point that they took away our jobs and bought large portions of our country. We did that to Germany and the rest of Europe, too, even to France who loathes us. Yes, I can blame them; we saved their country, saved their people, rebuilt their cities and economies, gave them back freedom, and they loathe us. We even gave them back their ovens so they can bake their pastries which they munch on with their espresso while mouthing off against us. We didn’t owe them any of the good that we did for them. What did we get from then in return? What did we do to deserve their loathing? And Barack apologizes to them. What a Statesman.

    My point is that, if you lived in the middle of a world that’s constantly at war, you would be suicidal to not have a way of protecting yourself. Talk about evil overcoming the good, that would be a quick way. Try walking through a bad area one of these days, or everyday. No, not the real easy ones, the ones like Watts in LA, or Cabrini Green in Chicago, or deep in Queens in NY, without a way of defending yourself. Try coming out alive. I grew up in the bad areas, so I know.

    Having a military is a necessity if good is to overcome evil, unless you just assume that the US is evil. Having soldiers with toy guns facing opponents with AK-47′s, and great armaments, would just be totally pointless. If you train your soldiers the best way you can, you give them the best chances of survival, and you lead them well, then you’re more apt to do good than bad. There will always be bad stuff, it’s what humans like to do. I’d rather have the assurance that no major US city is not going to turn into 9/11 anytime soon, and that we can keep the evil at bay. Then, I can sleep at night, and I have no delusions.