Cp4ab0lishm3nt’s Blog

Egypt court orders release on parole of jihadist Mohamed El-Zawahri – Politics – Egypt – Ahram Online

Posted in Uncategorized by cp4ab0lishm3nt on February 25, 2016

Source: Egypt court orders release on parole of jihadist Mohamed El-Zawahri – Politics – Egypt – Ahram Online

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Russians say improvised explosive device brought down jet in Sinai | The Long War Journal

Posted in Uncategorized by cp4ab0lishm3nt on November 18, 2015

Russian officials say an improvised explosive device with a “capacity of up to 1 kg of TNT” brought down an airliner in the Sinai on Oct. 31. Between the

Source: Russians say improvised explosive device brought down jet in Sinai | The Long War Journal

US airstrikes target Islamic State leaders in Libya and Syria | The Long War Journal

Posted in Uncategorized by cp4ab0lishm3nt on November 15, 2015

The strikes that targeted “Jihadi John” and Abu Nabil should serve as a reminder that 14 years after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US, the military and

Source: US airstrikes target Islamic State leaders in Libya and Syria | The Long War Journal

A-10 Gunship Attacks Critical to Taking Town from ISIS: Pentagon | Military.com

Posted in Counterterrorism, Kill, Special Forces, Terrorism by cp4ab0lishm3nt on November 7, 2015

Russian airstrikes target Islamic State in multiple locations throughout Syria | The Long War Journal

Posted in Counterterrorism, Kill, Special Forces, Terrorism, War by cp4ab0lishm3nt on November 7, 2015

Russian airstrikes targeted the Islamic State throughout Syria this past week. The self-declared “caliphate” released dozens of propaganda photos claiming that

Source: Russian airstrikes target Islamic State in multiple locations throughout Syria | The Long War Journal

Iraqi military targets Islamic State emir’s convoy in Anbar | The Long War Journal

Posted in Uncategorized by cp4ab0lishm3nt on October 12, 2015

The Iraqi military claimed it targeted Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the emir of the Islamic State, as he was traveling to meet with other commanders of his

Source: Iraqi military targets Islamic State emir’s convoy in Anbar | The Long War Journal

Boycott Conflict Diamonds!

Posted in Uncategorized by cp4ab0lishm3nt on September 28, 2015

<a href=”http://www.ingleandrhode.co.uk/ethical-diamonds-blog/blood-diamonds-on-the-high-street”><img src=”http://www.ingleandrhode.co.uk/sites/ingle/files/blood_diamonds_final_small.jpg” border=”0″ width=”695px” height=”1127px” /></a><br /><span style=”font-size: 12px;”>(via <a href=”http://www.ingleandrhode.co.uk/”>Ingle & Rhode Ethical Diamonds</a>).</span>

BLACKWATER: A Battling Crisis Management

Posted in Uncategorized by cp4ab0lishm3nt on April 16, 2015

Fallujah[1], Iraq. A normal mid morning on 30th March 2004, two badly damaged Mitsubishi Pajero jeeps and two empty trucks laid by the roadside bellowing smoke, dead American bodies dragged by balaclava Iraqi insurgents, one dead body was chopped up and an Iraqi teenager kicked a Caucasian human head in disgust as if he was Cristiano Ronaldo trying to score with a free kick. That fateful day, four civilian military contractors of Blackwater Corporation died in midst of a fire-fight with Iraqi Sunni insurgents.[2]

The incident happened when the rear escorting vehicle encountered a grenade thrown from the roadside and into the path as it came to a standstill with the slowing of the traffic. A loud explosion followed immediately by machine gun fire ripping the vehicles. Two of the American contractors, escorting at the rear, had no chance immediately upon the grenade explosion and from the oncoming machine gun fire. As for the front escort vehicle, the American driver was dead as the vehicle rammed (head on) into the rear of another unidentified vehicle; despite his partner, the navigator, was impaled by oncoming bullets, he did manage to survive the briefly, before insurgents dragged his body from the wrecked vehicle. Badly injured, the navigator pled for his life, the raging and unconcerned insurgent ended his life with a bullet. Their duties on that day were to escort forks, spoons, pots and pans for an event to be held in Baghdad. With the deaths of the private military contractors, it’s the beginning of a new insurgent war with the Americans in Iraq. The insurgents filmed the scene and sent it to Al Jazeera as a message to the American occupiers.

This article will examine what exactly happened on that fateful day and the reason as to why Blackwater, a successful corporation in security management, became a pariah corporation and its downfall.

There are many instances on which Blackwater perpetuate incidents some commendable but many resulted in litigation. For example, this article will not touch on Najaf, Iraq and the massacre in Baghdad where four Blackwater security contractors fired 70 rounds into a passenger car.[3] This article is not an examination of how force was being used by security contractors although it’s an interesting development after the Fallujah madness. No, this article will only examine the crisis management and the failure of management to address issues on the Fallujah massacre and the Blackwater 61’s crash.

Risk analysis

As a security corporation tasks with securing the lives of diplomats, oil facilities, infrastructure projects, intelligence operations, etc., its most criteria in any security management and objective in any situation is to conduct a threat assessment risk analysis.[4]

The first thing here is to substantiate whether such an operation deemed sufficient security personnel to conduct this task? There were four named civilian security personnel by Blackwater to conduct the escort. Would four persons be actually sufficient to conduct such a high risks escort over such a highly unsecured and murderous zone outside of the Baghdad’s Green Zone? By right even in an armed escort for cash-in-transit (CIT), anywhere in the world in peaceful times, there’s a need for 3 to 4 men security escort; a driver, an (armed) navigator, and one or two armed security escorts in the locked vault cabin.[5]

The Blackwater escort had two security personnel; a driver and an (armed) navigator. Supposedly, there should be one more security personnel to man a heavy SAW machine gun with a 180-degree scope to mow down any attacker, especially from behind.[6]

Secondly, any American security personnel that conduct operations outside of the Baghdad Green Zone were armed to the teeth and protected with armour. Blackwater military contractors were not; firstly, they did not carry sufficient firepower. With no gunner to hold down the insurgents during a fire fight and they were as good as dead.[7] Secondly, their vehicles were not armoured to prevent machine gun fire – a 5.56mm bullet could easily tear through the metal finishings of a Mitsubishi Pajero (which was a suit up Sport Utility Vehicle [SUV])[8] and could instantly killed occupants within.

Thirdly, was the assignment to escort forks, spoons, pots, pans and various other kitchen utensils that crucial? How come these items cannot be air flown by helicopter flights which was safer and faster? No. Because Blackwater wanted the business, and as such, they quietly lobbied for re-negotiation of the contract, bided lower from another security contractor that perhaps would be air flown, and offered the United States Government prompt escort and security without conditions.[9] The US Government viewed that flying kitchen utensils cost money and Blackwater Corp was a confident security contractor.

Fourthly, did the four security contractors know the route before hand and did they did an analysis of the situation, in an event a situation may occur. Firstly, these four contractors were handed this escorting contract within a day’s notice. This was presumably a promise by Blackwater to the US Government about not having extra pre-conditions and could secure and revert the objective within the time frame and within budgetary measures. Secondly, they did not have any idea at all as they were new in Iraq, except for one who came two months earlier. Most of them did their tours in Afghanistan but not in Iraq. The day before their escort duties, they were given a map designating their destination, Habbaniyah, and their return. They were asked to drive very fast at 140 kilometres per hour. What the four contractors did not know was that a month ago, there was propaganda (by the Sunnis) about a top spiritual Hamas leader, Sheik Yassin, assassinated by the Israeli military in Gaza.[10] Enraged, Sunni resistance fighters (with allegiance to Hamas) massacred some twenty-three Iraqi police officers and allowed detainees to escape in February 2004.

In response, the First US Marines expeditionary force took over responsibility from the Eighty-Second Airborne, their intentions were to enter Fallujah established dominance and restored order. Their objective was to defeat the insurgents and resistance fighters. Fallujah residents upon knowing the hardship imposed could be brutal, many residents left, leaving those who were unable to travel and cores of resistance fighters and insurgents.

When the Marines entered Fallujah, suddenly they were engaged in street to street battles for two days. In the end, one Marine was killed, seven wounded and fifteen Iraqis killed and among them, an American TV cameramen and a two-year-old Iraqi child. Those residents who did not leave Fallujah were left with no harsh choices: fled like the rest to other nearby cities; or died fighting like the rest.[11]

The Sunnis became angry, brazen (over the incident), defiant, emboldened and informed fellow Sunnis that there were CIA personnel travelling through Fallujah on that day. What the Sunni militiamen did not know was the fact that these were not the US Army or the Marines, government officials, or the CIA, but armed civilian contractors securing and escorting kitchen utensils. Not knowing about a hot political and social situation to be embroiling and erupting, the four military contractors walked into a minefield – basically signing their suicide death contracts.

Fifth, as the time was too short even to know and plan for the route and its various choke points of ingress and egress; the security contractors just took the risks and knowingly that they were paid and they had little choice. For any vehicular security and escort arrangement, the first rule of thumb is to know the route before hand and where is the best place to take if security contractors feel uncomfortable with the route.[12] If the contractors had known of the political and social issues surrounding Fallujah, they could have avoided the city altogether and may have driven into the desert avoiding the towns. But they did not know. Secondly, vehicular escorts should be able to change its route to avoid unscrupulous detection and becoming a target, especially in places like Iraq. But since the four military contractors were new to Iraq, they did not even have the proper knowledge of where and what were available and the optimum options of viability. Without decent knowledge, the military contractors were blindsided.

Perhaps to them, if worst come to worst then, they have to make the best out of a bad situation. They were supposed to be rough, tough, and sought as an image of superiority to their company’s mission and vision. Unfortunately, that masochistic missionary and visionary resolve ended in terrible bloodshed.

Darth Vader economics

Despite the Fallujah debacle created a real mess for Blackwater, this first incident actually was a blessing in disguise for Blackwater’s owner and founder, Mr. Erik Prince. He managed to turn the tables, convinced the Republican dominated Congress in the United States to increase and fund more Blackwater operations. Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Ronald Rumsfeld and various other Congressmen and Senators whom have interest in Blackwater and the privatization of the military forged ahead with this “military industrial complex.”[13] Despite there were also investigations and tort actions coming from the four families of the dead military contractors, Blackwater did not seem to edge much from their philosophy of fattening the organization and as well as fattening some of the top and influential people in the private military business. Despite many of us thought Iraq is about powerful nations grabbing up petrol dollars, it’s not; the sea of oil was security contracting – it’s a multibillion industry where a security contractor can be paid between US$500 – US$750 a day (excluding allowances).[14] The lure of security “gold rush” contracting was so aggressive that in 2008 there were some 50 security firms in Iraq itself from various countries but notably most were allied partners in the war against Saddam Hussein.[15] Firms like Blackwater became so expeditiously greedy that they diverse and branch into subgroups or franchises (from the parent organization) to take up additional security contracts. Perhaps, war is profit after all. Despite Blackwater’s aggressive intolerance, greed and confident profit margins, that venture did not end out well for Blackwater with their meagre and constantly poor risks security.

Blackwater down

On 27th November, 2004, a privately owned turboprop plane on contract with the US Air Force slammed into the Baba Mountain, 14,600 feet high in Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush mountain range. Three US soldiers including the flight engineer were dead upon impact; the two pilots managed to eject from the aircraft, whilst one survived momentarily for a few hours, the other was dead upon ejection.

The crash of Blackwater 61during that year did not receive particular attention as most of the media (during the year) focused on the Fallujah issue on the four dead military contractors. The Fallujah case on the four dead military contractors did not produce a paper trail and the reason being as to why Blackwater Corp was able to sidestep on-going investigations and deceive politicians into giving them more security contracts.

After the death of the four military contractors, the US military became very aggressive and vengeful. Fallujah was almost destroyed and many of its occupants left. Initially, the American military were only fighting the Sunnis but when the Shiites saw their (Sunni) brothers were targeted vengefully, they offered to fight with the Sunnis as well. The revenge aggressiveness opened a can of worms for the American military but soon everywhere in Iraq every Iraqi would rise and challenge the occupation. Because of the intensity of the threats, Blackwater and many security corporations were getting more and more contracts. Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Republican lobbyists and politicians poured hot water over the situation and insisted more private army was the best solution forward. This increase, in private military contracting, also extended to many new and volatile regions like the Caspian Sea environs, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In Afghanistan, Blackwater’s aviation division, Presidential Airways, operated off the public radar, short take off and landing (STOL) aircraft to Uzbekistan, and Pakistan. Their clandestine flight operations were sanctioned by the CIA and the Pentagon and that contract alone was worth US$34.8 million for the operations of three CASA aircraft.[16]

So what happened to Blackwater 61 was no fluke. It seemed like a normal air accident due to bad weather approaching from the Baba Mountain but when the US Army Collateral Investigations Board (USACIB) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reported were much more than just a bad weather mishap.

Firstly, even though the pilots were experienced flying STOL aircraft in California with the highest peak at 14,495 feet, the Afghan Baba mountain ranges are crisscrossed and the highest peak can be as high as 25,000 feet. Pilots need to know these mountain ranges in order to make the proper and precise steep climb.

Secondly, there was limited communication with other aircraft and no air-traffic control to guide planes should they encounter a patch of clouds or other bad weather and Afghanistan has incredibly variable weather especially near the mountains. “Thus pilots have only to opt with what they called “visual flight rules” – in other words, pilots were on their own with little more than instinct and common sense to guide them.”[17]

Thirdly, flying in Afghanistan is low-tech to the point where pilots often had to use satellite phones to report locations when they landed anywhere but even then satellite phones were not reliable as well. Places like Kabul, Bagram, and Shindad only have control towers and once the pilots are out of the 20 mile range (of these cities) the pilots were on their own.

Fourthly, flight training in Melbourne, Florida, was different from flying in Afghanistan. The pilots need to have visible knowledge as Afghanistan does not have the best of communications and the mountain ranges pose challenges to the pilots with incredible variable weather conditions. The Florida training (with its stable climate and wind conditions) basically was only to give the pilots a feel with the various CASA aircrafts. Pilots were not challenged to fly or manoeuvre the plane in a difficult manner like how to fly with “visual flight rules” with undulating mountain ranges. Flight simulation training could suffice this ability.

Fifthly, as the two pilots are new to Afghanistan, they did not have the knowledge of the landscape and distance. Moreover, the pilots were over confident of not bringing a Global Positioning System (GPS) with them. In the flight’s black box recording, both pilot and the co-pilot could be heard assuming which valley route to take and in the end the pilot made a decision by saying, “We’ll just see where this leads.” The pilots made a lot of small talk and from the transcripts from the black box; it seemed they were unconcerned and somewhat uncertain. NTSB concluded that Blackwater’s pilots “were behaving unprofessionally and were deliberately flying nonstandard route low through the valley for ‘fun.’” It further noted that the pilots’ vision and judgment might have been impaired because they were not using oxygen, potential in violation of federal regulations.[18]

Sixth, proper emergent search and rescue (S&R) efforts were visibly absent until the bodies were located 74 hours. Despite S&R efforts could at least save a survivor but since it did not materialize until much later, the lone survivor was not able to sustain and survive his internal bleeding, wounds, and traumatic injuries. The most damaging of all to come out from this is the autopsy report on the lone survivor that pointed out that “Specialist Miller had an absolute minimum survival time of approximately eight hours” after the accident, and if Miller “had received medical assistance with the time frame, followed by appropriate surgical intervention, he most likely would have survived.”[19]

Tort Claims & Compliance

The families of the soldiers institute tort proceedings against Blackwater. Their claims were mainly based on the above sixth points. In fighting the lawsuits, Blackwater adopted a three-pronged approach to argue that it was immune from such litigation. It presented the:

  • Political Question Doctrine” which relied on the idea that “the judiciary properly refrains from deciding controversies that the Constitution textually commits to another political branch and cases are beyond the competence of the courts to resolve because of the lack of judicially manageable standards.”[20] Blackwater insisted that they were part of the “Total Force” and part of the Department of Defense (DOD)’s “warfighting capability and capacity and as such allowing civilian courts to consider questions of liability to soldiers who are killed or injured in operations involving contractors on the battlefield would insert those civilian courts directly into the regulation of military operations.”[21]

The presiding district court judge, Judge John Antoon opined and determined that because Blackwater 61 was “required to fly as [it] normally would, according to commercial, civilian standards, in a foreign, albeit treacherous, terrain” and could refuse to fly any mission they felt too dangerous, “it does not appear…this Court will be called to question any tactical military orders.”[22] As such the court rejected Blackwater’s “political question” argument and the Judge also questioned Blackwater’s contention that if it was part of the military, the federal government could have filed a brief supporting Blackwater in this case but had not…”[23]

  • The Feres Doctrine: Under the feres doctrine Blackwater postured that it as part of the Total Force was immune from tort suits for “injuries to servicemen where the injuries arise out of or are in the course of activity incident to service.”[24] It argued that “it is inconsequential here that the decedents died in the aircraft hired by the Air Force, rather than in an aircraft operated by the Air Force – what matters is that they were military personnel who died while on war duty.”[25]

Judge Antoon clarified with Blackwater’s interpretation of a straightforward immunity granted to the military, pointing out that Blackwater’s legal team “cite no case in which the Feres doctrine has been held applicable to private contractors.”[26] He said Blackwater/Presidential Airways “essentially mask their request for this Court to stretch Feres beyond its established and logical bounds by citing cases which emphasize that it is the plaintiff’s status as a member of the military and not the status of [Blackwater] that is significant.”[27] Concluding, he noted that Blackwater was not entitled to protection under the Feres doctrine because they are private commercial entities….Blackwater entered into the contract as a commercial endeavour; they provided for a price. Simply because the service was provided in the mountains of Afghanistan during armed conflict does not render the Blackwater, or their personnel, members of the military or employees of Government.[28] In another words, the judge determined that though the Pentagon might have referred to private military contractors as part of its “Total Force,” that did not change Blackwater’s status as a forward profit private company responsible for its actions.

  • Exception to Federal Tort Claims Act. Blackwater final argument for immunity from tort lawsuits was that, as a military contractor, it is immune from such litigation in the same way that certain producers of complex military equipment have been found to be immune. Blackwater referenced a case in which the family of a dead Marine sued a manufacturer for defects in its design of a helicopter escape system. The Court in that case concluded that “state tort law was preempted by the government’s profound interest in procuring complex military equipment” and that the government had the “discretion to prioritize combat effectiveness over safety designing military equipment.”[29]

The Judge decided that although that defense exists and has been extended in some instances, there is no “authority for bestowing a private actor with the shield of sovereign immunity. Until Congress directs otherwise, private, non-employee contractors are limited” to exceptions like that involving the design of complex equipment. Judge Antoon’s was sceptical that combatant activities exception to the Federal Tort Claims Act, that preserves the US Government’s traditional sovereign immunity from liability, has any application to suits against private defense contractors. At most it only shields private defense contractors for products liability claims involving complex sophisticated equipment used during times of war. It has never been extended to bar suits alleging active negligence by contractors in the provision of services, and as such the Judge did not extend that privilege.[30]

The district court judge basically denied every single motion made by Blackwater to stop discovery and dismiss the case, and, as expected, Blackwater immediately began the appellate process in late September 2006.[31] By then, Blackwater was beginning to embroil in many of the negligent suits and many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were rallying against the activities of Blackwater. They are in fact worried by the prospect private military contractors holding too much unchecked power and they could at will conduct military operations that are against domestic and international laws and international norms.

The problem with Blackwater is that the management wanted many more private military projects but the company refused to enhance its compliance and safety issues. For them, and especially, for Mr. Erik Prince, by conducting compliance and implementing safety measures, slow things down. Mr. Erik Prince is a retired SEAL professional and threats to special operation soldiers like him are the last thing on his mind. A soldier is supposed to stand up, hold down the fort, and fight to the last bullet. Soldiers are basically casualties of war and issues like compliance and safety are the last thing on their mind. He wanted his private army to be that determined and risk all risks.

By October 2007, Blackwater USA became Blackwater Worldwide, the Blackwater logo that was once a crosshair became a bear paw; a less aggressive notion of private military contracting.[32] The company was also forced to be more compliant and transfer a number of their contract work to other security contracting companies. Then in July, 2008, Blackwater Worldwide shifted its resources from security contracting because of the extensive risks in that sector. CEO and founder Erik Prince told the Associated Press during a daylong visit to Blackwater’s North Carolina compound that “The experience we’ve had would certainly be a disincentive to any other companies that want to step in and put their entire business at risk.”[33]

In February 2009, Blackwater Worldwide would change its name again to Xe Services LLC as part of the company’s restructuring programme. This change is nothing new because Blackwater Worldwide incurred numerous tort actions and suits from various parties. And the new Obama Administration was looking into inappropriate proprieties of the Bush Administration as well as those contracts that seem to drain federal government and taxpayers. This has a lot to do for Blackwater (whether it’s USA or Worldwide) and part of the guarantee for Blackwater’s survival was to institute a serious corporate governance and ethics program and the establishment of an independent committee of outside experts to supervise the compliance structures. One of the guarantees to Erik Prince was he resigned as CEO and he would remain as Chairman of the Board and no longer involved in Xe Services LLC running of operations. Joseph Orio was brought on as new CEO and President replacing Erik Prince and Gary Jackson. Joseph Orio would resolve legal issues and agreed to implement the number of compliance and audit measures.[34]

In December 2009, Erik Prince further relinquished all his responsibilities of the Board and decided to become a trainer again. But that did not last long too and in late 2010, Erik moved to Abu Dhabi and started another security services company called Reflex Responses. This venture was part and parcel of United Arab Emirates Royalty’s signature and Abu Dhabi wanted a strong private military force in addition to its Armed Forces.[35]

In 2010, a group of private investors led by former Republican Administration officials and ex-Cabinet officials would resolve the debts owed through litigation and legal wrangling with various contractual companies as well. This group of investors paid up every debt and capital and renamed the company ACADEMI. They hired their own CEO and brought in a compliance and regulator chief.[36]

In 2014, Academi and Triple Canopy merged with several other companies within the Constellis Group to from Constellis Group Holdings, Inc. This renewed partnership brought together an array of security companies including Triple Canopy, Constellis Ltd., Strategic Social, Tidewater Global Services, National Strategic Protective Services, ACADEMI Training Center, and International Development Solutions.[37]

Wet Works’ Dreams: A Security Desire

Despite all these changes… Erik Prince’s name is still listed as the founder of the whole setup.[38]

Albeit he sidestepped all those risks to make a name for himself – his desire is not about making money but wanting to spread military justice, defeat oppressors, and showed the world that force is the détente. He wanted a force that’s available within a moment’s notice and engages aggression. But his notions are contorted, and that can only happen in a country where the rule of law is not pervasive and there’s only an authoritarian ruler and rule with impunity.

Many democratic countries disallowed his notion of militarism and can never be objectively viable. Security management is about managing risks and not about building a military industry and having a military industrial complex. With great power comes great responsibility.[39] People are not machines and have the will to understand what’s right and wrong in the midst. Staff working in an organization, have families, loved ones, friends and community to go to. The wrongful dead can rise and challenge not by them but by their families.

Despite Erik’s desire wanting to spread military justice but there are many who are not thinking like he does. They have a different view of military justice – justice for profit. Private prisons, private security forces, etc. have been around for more than 2 decades and it’s no longer something new. The problem when something becomes profit based, greed, starts to jump in as well – this is just a natural phenomenon. A healthy industry is one that’s making money not in debt or falling into bankruptcy. But when profits becomes obsessed, so does abuse as well and many security organizations start shirking responsibilities and cutting corners. This is a problem and that’s what happened to Blackwater eventually. It’s only when people start dying in numbers or sensationalised stories becoming headlines of the media. So is this enough?

There are rumours in the social media that Erik is not only organising a force in UAE but is training a multinational force in the Arabian Peninsula. That force could be the one send in by the Saudis to try and defeat the Houthis, at the moment. So if the Saudis are successful, Erik will be a desirable security entrepreneur for many hot countries who want him to start private multinational forces – the new military raison d’être.

[1]     Fallujah is one of the cities in Iraq in which the majority of the population in the city are Sunnis and a hotbed of insurgency because of their loyalty to Saddam Hussein.

[2]     Scahill, Jeremy (2007). Chapter Six: The Ambush in Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. New York, NY, US.: Nation Books. Pp. 91-104.

[3]     Despite Fallujah and Blackwater 61 perhaps were pioneer litigation issues, apparently these litigation suits changed the frameworks and mindsets of the organization and Erik was very much in control with his lobbying, Christian influence, and Republican networks. As such these two cases stalled, pretty much. Najaf and Baghdad massacres by security contractors on innocent Iraqis posed major questions about their roles and legalities and whether they were authorized to use force offensively. Their roles were supposed to be protecting diplomats and diplomats convoys and they were not allowed to open fire indiscriminately even the situation did not warrant sufficient security. As such families, NGO litigation groups like Centre for Constitutional Rights filed Aliens Tort Claims Act on behalf for Iraqi families. Then there are still criminal charges brought on by the Obama Administration and as well as the Iraqi Government.Erik Prince was forced to attend a congressional hearing in 2nd October 2007 on a multitude of issues notably allowing the Andrew Moonen to flee after the shooting death of an Iraqi vice presidential guard. Erik retorted, “We can’t flog him and we can’t incarcerate him,” – meaning Andrew was a private contractor and immune to prosecution and tort liabilities. It’s true that until the end of 2007, the Iraqi Government did not have powers and legitimacy against Blackwater security contractors. When Obama Administration came into the White House, one of his main agenda was the systematic withdrawal of American troops from Iraq and also disallowed private contractors the legitimacy to operate unless under approval. Together with the ex-Maliki Government, the security contractors are either disallowed to operate without legitimacy or had their responsibilities shackled.

ACADEMI, Wikipedia 2015. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academi

[4]     Bahari, Ramli (2013). Crisis Management.

[5]     British Retail Consortium Cash and Valuables in Transit Working Group (2011). Cash and Valuables in Transit: Best Practice Guidelines for Retailers, 2nd Ed. London, England.: British Retail Consortium. http://www.g4s.uk.com/~/media/Files/United%20Kingdom/Cash%20Solutions/CVIT_Best_Practice_2nd_Edition.pdf

[6]     Scahill, Ibid. p. 98

[7]     Ibid. p. 102

[8]     Ibid.  p. 102

[9]     Ibid. p. 88

[10]    Ibid. p. 93

[11]    Ibid. pp. 92-93

[12]    North Carolina Department of Transportation (2009). Prior Driving of Route in Certified Escort Vehicle Operator Handbook. NCDOT p. 3-2. https://connect.ncdot.gov/business/trucking/Documents/EVOManual.pdf

[13]    Eisenhower, Dwight D (1961). Military-Industrial Complex Speech, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961. http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/~hst306/documents/indust.html.

[14]    Bones, Alicia: Demand Media (2014). Woman-the nest: How Much Money Do Private Military Contractors Get Paid? http://woman.thenest.com/much-money-private-military-contractors-paid-23196.html

[15]    Singer, P. W. (2008).  Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry. Cornell University Press. p. 243.

[16]    Scahill, Ibid. p. 239.

[17]    Ibid. p. 240.

[18]    Ibid. p. 247.

[19]    Ibid. p. 248.

[20]    Ibid. pp. 249-250.

[21]    Ibid. pp. 249-250.

[22]    Ibid. p. 250.

[23]    Ibid. p. 250.

[24]    Ibid pp. 251-252.

[25]    Ibid. pp. 251-252.

[26]    Ibid. pp. 251-252.

[27]    Ibid. p. 252.

[28]    Ibid. p.252.

[29]    Ibid. p. 252.

[30]    Ibid. p. 252.

[31]    Ibid. p. 253.

[32]    Ibid. ACADEMI. Wikipedia..

[33]    Ibid. Wikipedia.

[34]    Ibid. Wikipedia.

[35]    Hager, Emily B. and Marzetti, M. Secret Desert Force Set Up By Blackwater Founder, New York Times, May 14, 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/15/world/middleeast/15prince.html

[36]    Ibid. ACADEMI. Wikipedia..

[37]    Ibid. Wikipedia.

[38]    Ibid. ACADEMI. Wikipedia.

[39]    IMDB. Spider-Man (2002). http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0145487/quotes

BR1M: Business Recovery for 1 Malaysians

Posted in Uncategorized by cp4ab0lishm3nt on April 16, 2015

This is the first time I applied for BR1M as a single individual. Application was made in December 2014 and the payment was inside my bank account in mid January. The timely process was due to the fact that the Government wanted this money out to alleviate and allay those facing floods in the many states that were affected by the natural disaster. This is laudable as many Malaysians may need that extra amount perhaps just to ease their burden and troubles in a short span of time. Food is very important in times like this. Many people think with BR1M, they can just go out and spend like as if they got their monthly wages or bonuses. But they forget that this amount is insufficient to use for non essential things. They need to think what are the most important basic things that are required in the household and if there are children then of course children essentials are important. Definitely, in times of urgency like disasters, food is important; for children, perhaps books and stationery for the school year; for the sick or infirm, perhaps better medical treatment or medicine; and then perhaps required household items. As for the choice as investment, many poor families do not have that sort of luxury to invest. Investing does not necessarily mean one can profit from the amount, it can also mean a loss as well. No, its just not logical for this small amounts to invest and if this money can be invested, that means that many poor people are not poor because they can save keep this money as they have enough to spend. Definitely BR1M is a positive measure for the poor and those who require funds in an immediate short term. This actually is a form of goodwill shown the Government to assist in whatever way they can. However, the amount is perhaps insufficient. Aid payouts can be graduated to differing amounts for those who are actually suffering like for e.g., unemployed; those who are very ill and/or old; those affected by some mishaps like fire or disaster like floods. Married couples are also entitled for graduated payouts. Graduated payouts are different from BR1M’s payout. A graduated payout is kind of like a welfare scheme where individuals going through a period of income shortages can be alleviated. This not only safeguard their future but also in a way serve to bring the crime rate down as well. The graduated payout scheme has to be thoroughly vetted before the Government can pay that amount to the individual or families on a monthly basis. Lastly, I just want to end this short brief on BR1M on the fact that the Government employees of Lembaga Dalam Negeri/Inland Revenue were very efficient in handling the number of people over the counter, at various branches. Everything was rather efficient and expeditious and the process did not even take more than an hour for people, if one does not have problems or families do not have issues on finances.

The Social Laboratory by Shane Harris

Singapore is testing whether mass surveillance and big data can not only protect national security, but actually engineer a more harmonious society.

In October 2002, Peter Ho, the permanent secretary of defense for the tiny island city-state of Singapore, paid a visit to the offices of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the U.S. Defense Department’s R&D outfit best known for developing the M16 rifle, stealth aircraft technology, and the Internet. Ho didn’t want to talk about military hardware. Rather, he had made the daylong plane trip to meet with retired Navy Rear Adm. John Poindexter, one of DARPA’s then-senior program directors and a former national security advisor to President Ronald Reagan. Ho had heard that Poindexter was running a novel experiment to harness enormous amounts of electronic information and analyze it for patterns of suspicious activity — mainly potential terrorist attacks.

The two men met in Poindexter’s small office in Virginia, and on a whiteboard, Poindexter sketched out for Ho the core concepts of his imagined system, which Poindexter called Total Information Awareness (TIA). It would gather up all manner of electronic records — emails, phone logs, Internet searches, airline reservations, hotel bookings, credit card transactions, medical reports — and then, based on predetermined scenarios of possible terrorist plots, look for the digital “signatures” or footprints that would-be attackers might have left in the data space. The idea was to spot the bad guys in the planning stages and to alert law enforcement and intelligence officials to intervene.

“I was impressed with the sheer audacity of the concept: that by connecting a vast number of databases, that we could find the proverbial needle in the haystack,” Ho later recalled. He wanted to know whether the system, which was not yet deployed in the United States, could be used in Singapore to detect the warning signs of terrorism. It was a matter of some urgency. Just 10 days earlier, terrorists had bombed a nightclub, a bar, and the U.S. consular office on the Indonesian island of Bali, killing 202 people and raising the specter of Islamist terrorism in Southeast Asia.

Ho returned home inspired that Singapore could put a TIA-like system to good use. Four months later he got his chance, when an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) swept through the country, killing 33, dramatically slowing the economy, and shaking the tiny island nation to its core. Using Poindexter’s design, the government soon established the Risk Assessment and Horizon Scanning program (RAHS, pronounced “roz”) inside a Defense Ministry agency responsible for preventing terrorist attacks and “nonconventional” strikes, such as those using chemical or biological weapons — an effort to see how Singapore could avoid or better manage “future shocks.” Singaporean officials gave speeches and interviews about how they were deploying big data in the service of national defense — a pitch that jibed perfectly with the country’s technophilic culture.

Back in the United States, however, the TIA program had become the subject of enormous controversy. Just a few weeks after Poindexter met with Ho, journalists reported that the Defense Department was funding experimental research on mining massive amounts of Americans’ private data. Some members of Congress and privacy and civil liberties advocates called for TIA to be shut down. It was — but in name only.

In late 2003, a group of U.S. lawmakers more sympathetic to Poindexter’s ideas arranged for his experiment to be broken into several discrete programs, all of which were given new, classified code names and placed under the supervision of the National Security Agency (NSA). Unbeknownst to almost all Americans at the time, the NSA was running a highly classified program of its own that actually was collecting Americans’ phone and Internet communications records and mining them for connections to terrorists. Elements of that program were described in classified documents disclosed in 2013 by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, sparking the most significant and contentious debate about security and privacy in America in more than four decades.

Singapore has become a laboratory not only for testing how mass surveillance and big-data analysis might prevent terrorism, but for determining whether technology can be used to engineer a more harmonious society.

Because of such uproars, many current and former U.S. officials have come to see Singapore as a model for how they’d build an intelligence apparatus if privacy laws and a long tradition of civil liberties weren’t standing in the way. After Poindexter left DARPA in 2003, he became a consultant to RAHS, and many American spooks have traveled to Singapore to study the program firsthand. They are drawn not just to Singapore’s embrace of mass surveillance but also to the country’s curious mix of democracy and authoritarianism, in which a paternalistic government ensures people’s basic needs — housing, education, security — in return for almost reverential deference. It is a law-and-order society, and the definition of “order” is all-encompassing.

Ten years after its founding, the RAHS program has evolved beyond anything Poindexter could have imagined. Across Singapore’s national ministries and departments today, armies of civil servants use scenario-based planning and big-data analysis from RAHS for a host of applications beyond fending off bombs and bugs. They use it to plan procurement cycles and budgets, make economic forecasts, inform immigration policy, study housing markets, and develop education plans for Singaporean schoolchildren — and they are looking to analyze Facebook posts, Twitter messages, and other social media in an attempt to “gauge the nation’s mood” about everything from government social programs to the potential for civil unrest.

In other words, Singapore has become a laboratory not only for testing how mass surveillance and big-data analysis might prevent terrorism, but for determining whether technology can be used to engineer a more harmonious society.

Singapore was the perfect home for a centrally controlled, complex technological system designed to maintain national order.

In a country run by engineers and technocrats, it’s an article of faith among the governing elite, and seemingly among most of the public, that Singapore’s 3.8 million citizens and permanent residents — a mix of ethnic Chinese, Indians, and Malays who live crammed into 716 square kilometers along with another 1.5 million nonresident immigrants and foreign workers — are perpetually on a knife’s edge between harmony and chaos.

“Singapore is a small island,” residents are quick to tell visitors, reciting the mantra to explain both their young country’s inherent fragility and its obsessive vigilance. Since Singapore gained independence from its union with Malaysia in 1965, the nation has been fixated on the forces aligned against it, from the military superiority of potentially aggressive and much larger neighbors, to its lack of indigenous energy resources, to the country’s longtime dependence on Malaysia for fresh water. “Singapore shouldn’t exist. It’s an invented country,” one top-ranking government official told me on a recent visit, trying to capture the existential peril that seems to inform so many of the country’s decisions.

But in less than 50 years, Singapore has achieved extraordinary success. Despite the government’s quasi-socialistic cradle-to-grave care, the city-state is enthusiastically pro-business, and a 2012 reportranked it as the world’s wealthiest country, based on GDP per capita. Singapore’s port handles 20 percent of the world’s shipping containers and nearly half of the world’s crude oil shipments; its airport is the principal air-cargo hub for all of Southeast Asia; and thousands of corporations have placed their Asian regional headquarters there. This economic rise might be unprecedented in the modern era, yet the more Singapore has grown, the more Singaporeans fear loss. The colloquial word kiasu, which stems from a vernacular Chinese word that means “fear of losing,” is a shorthand by which natives concisely convey the sense of vulnerability that seems coded into their social DNA (as well as their anxiety about missing out — on the best schools, the best jobs, the best new consumer products). Singaporeans’ boundless ambition is matched only by their extreme aversion to risk.

That is one reason the SARS outbreak flung the door wide open for RAHS. From late February to July of 2003, the virus flamed through the country. It turned out that three women who were hospitalized and treated for pneumonia in Singapore had contracted SARS while traveling in Hong Kong. Although two of the women recovered without infecting anyone, the third patient sparked an outbreak when she passed the virus to 22 people, including a nurse who went on to infect dozens of others. The officials identified a network of three more so-called “superspreaders” — together, five people caused more than half the country’s 238 infections. If Singaporean officials had detected any of these cases sooner, they might have halted the spread of the virus.

Health officials formed a task force two weeks after the virus was first spotted and took extraordinary measures to contain it, but they knew little about how it was spreading. They distributed thermometers to more than 1 million households, along with descriptions of SARS’s symptoms. Officials checked for fevers at schools and businesses, and they even used infrared thermal imagers to scan travelers at the airport. The government invoked Singapore’s Infectious Diseases Act and ordered in-home quarantines for more than 850 people who showed signs of infection, enforcing the rule with surveillance devices and electronic monitoring equipment. Investigators tracked down all people with whom the victims had been in contact. The government closed all schools at the pre-university level, affecting 600,000 students.

By mid-April, fewer people were visiting the country, and hotel occupancy rates plummeted, along with revenues at shops and restaurants. Taxi drivers reported fewer fares. The unemployment rate ticked up. Officials slashed the country’s economic growth forecast for 2003, from a strong 2.5 percent to a possible 0.5 percent. When the full effects of the outbreak were finally measured, the economy had actually contracted 4.2 percent from the same time the previous year. The SARS outbreak reminded Singaporeans that their national prosperity could be imperiled in just a few months by a microscopic invader that might wipe out a significant portion of the densely packed island’s population.

Months after the virus abated, Ho and his colleagues ran a simulation using Poindexter’s TIA ideas to see whether they could have detected the outbreak. Ho will not reveal what forms of information he and his colleagues used — by U.S. standards, Singapore’s privacy laws are virtually nonexistent, and it’s possible that the government collected private communications, financial data, public transportation records, and medical information without any court approval or private consent — but Ho claims that the experiment was very encouraging. It showed that if Singapore had previously installed a big-data analysis system, it could have spotted the signs of a potential outbreak two months before the virus hit the country’s shores. Prior to the SARS outbreak, for example, there were reports of strange, unexplained lung infections in China. Threads of information like that, if woven together, could in theory warn analysts of pending crises.

The RAHS system was operational a year later, and it immediately began “canvassing a range of sources for weak signals of potential future shocks,” one senior Singaporean security official involved in the launch later recalled.

The system uses a mixture of proprietary and commercial technology and is based on a “cognitive model” designed to mimic the human thought process — a key design feature influenced by Poindexter’s TIA system. RAHS, itself, doesn’t think. It’s a tool that helps human beings sift huge stores of data for clues on just about everything. It is designed to analyze information from practically any source — the input is almost incidental — and to create models that can be used to forecast potential events. Those scenarios can then be shared across the Singaporean government and be picked up by whatever ministry or department might find them useful. Using a repository of information called an ideas database, RAHS and its teams of analysts create “narratives” about how various threats or strategic opportunities might play out. The point is not so much to predict the future as to envision a number of potential futures that can tell the government what to watch and when to dig further.

The officials running RAHS today are tight-lipped about exactly what data they monitor, though they acknowledge that a significant portion of “articles” in their databases come from publicly available information, including news reports, blog posts, Facebook updates, and Twitter messages. (“These articles have been trawled in by robots or uploaded manually” by analysts, says one programdocument.) But RAHS doesn’t need to rely only on open-source material or even the sorts of intelligence that most governments routinely collect: In Singapore, electronic surveillance of residents and visitors is pervasive and widely accepted.

Surveillance starts in the home, where all Internet traffic in Singapore is filtered, a senior Defense Ministry official told me (commercial and business traffic is not screened, the official said). Traffic is monitored primarily for two sources of prohibited content: porn and racist invective. About 100 websites featuring sexual content are officially blocked. The list is a state secret, but it’s generally believed to include Playboy and Hustler magazine’s websites and others with sexually laden words in the title. (One Singaporean told me it’s easy to find porn — just look for the web addresses without any obviously sexual words in them.) All other sites, including foreign media, social networks, and blogs, are open to Singaporeans. But post a comment or an article that the law deems racially offensive or inflammatory, and the police may come to your door.

Singaporeans have been charged under the Sedition Act for making racist statements online, but officials are quick to point out that they don’t consider this censorship. Hateful speech threatens to tear the nation’s multiethnic social fabric and is therefore a national security threat, they say. After the 2012 arrest of two Chinese teenage boys, who police alleged had made racist comments on Facebook and Twitter about ethnic Malays, a senior police official explained to reporters: “The right to free speech does not extend to making remarks that incite racial and religious friction and conflict. The Internet may be a convenient medium to express one’s views, but members of the public should bear in mind that they are no less accountable for their actions online.”

Singaporean officials stress that citizens are free to criticize the government, and they do. In fact, one of the country’s most popular books this year has been a provocative rebuttal to the decades-old official dogma concerning the country’s existential peril. Hard Choices: Challenging the Singapore Consensus, by Donald Low and Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh, argues that the ruling People’s Action Party, which has held uninterrupted power since 1959, may have invented the notion that Singapore is one step away from ruin in a bid to subdue the masses and cement the government’s hold on power.

Commentary that impugns an individual’s character or motives, however, is off-limits because, like racial invective, it is seen as a threat to the nation’s delicate balance. Journalists, including foreign news organizations, have frequently been charged under the country’s strict libel laws. In 2010, the New York Times Co. settled a lawsuit over a column in the International Herald Tribune about “dynastic politics,” which implied that Lee Hsien Loong, the prime minister, owed his job to nepotism. Lee’s father is Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first prime minister, co-founder of the People’s Action Party, and the country’s patriarch — revered in Singapore like George Washington might be in the United States if he were still alive. The company paid $114,000, and the Herald Tribune published an apology.

Not only does the government keep a close eye on what its citizens write and say publicly, but it also has the legal authority to monitor all manner of electronic communications, including phone calls, under several domestic security laws aimed at preventing terrorism, prosecuting drug dealing, and blocking the printing of “undesirable” material. According to the civil rights watchdog Privacy International, “the government has wide discretionary powers … to conduct searches without warrants, as is normally required, if it determines that national security, public safety or order, or the public interest are at issue.”

The surveillance extends to visitors as well. Mobile-phone SIM cards are an easy way for tourists to make cheap calls and are available at nearly any store — as ubiquitous as chewing gum in the United States. (Incidentally, the Singaporean government banned commercial sales of gum because chewers were depositing their used wads on subway doors, among other places.) Criminals like disposable SIM cards because they can be hard to trace to an individual user. But to purchase a card in Singapore, a customer has to provide a passport number, which is linked to the card, meaning the phone company — and, presumably, by extension the government — has a record of every call made on a supposedly disposable, anonymous device.

Privacy International reported that Singaporeans who want to obtain an Internet account must also show identification — in the form of the national ID card that every citizen carries — and Internet service providers “reportedly provide, on a regular basis, information on users to government officials.” The Ministry of Home Affairs also has the authority to compel businesses in Singapore to hand over information about threats against their computer networks in order to defend the country’s computer systems from malicious software and hackers, a defense official told me. The U.S. Congress has been debating for years now a similar provision that could compel some industries deemed crucial to the U.S. economy or security to hand over threat data, but it has been blocked by the Chamber of Commerce and businesses that see it as costly, heavy-handed government regulation of private security matters.

“In Singapore, people generally feel that if you’re not a criminal or an opponent of the government, you don’t have anything to worry about.”

Perhaps no form of surveillance is as pervasive in Singapore as its network of security cameras, which police have installed in more than 150 “zones” across the country. Even though they adorn the corners of buildings, are fastened to elevator ceilings, and protrude from the walls of hotels, stores, and apartment lobbies, I had little sense of being surrounded by digital hawk eyes while walking around Singapore, any more than while surfing the web I could detect the digital filters of government speech-minders. Most Singaporeans I met hardly cared that they live in a surveillance bubble and were acutely aware that they’re not unique in some respects. “Don’t you have cameras everywhere in London and New York?” many of the people I talked to asked. (In fact, according to city officials, “London has one of the highest number of CCTV cameras of any city in the world.”) Singaporeans presumed that the cameras deterred criminals and accepted that in a densely populated country, there are simply things you shouldn’t say. “In Singapore, people generally feel that if you’re not a criminal or an opponent of the government, you don’t have anything to worry about,” one senior government official told me.

This year, the World Justice Project, a U.S.-based advocacy group that studies adherence to the rule of law, ranked Singapore as the world’s second-safest country. Prized by Singaporeans, this distinction has earned the country a reputation as one of the most stable places to do business in Asia. Interpol is also building a massive new center in Singapore to police cybercrime. It’s only the third major Interpol site outside Lyon, France, and Argentina, and it reflects both the international law enforcement group’s desire to crack down on cybercrime and its confidence that Singapore is the best place in Asia to lead that fight.

But it’s hard to know whether the low crime rates and adherence to the rule of law are more a result of pervasive surveillance or Singaporeans’ unspoken agreement that they mustn’t turn on one another, lest the tiny island come apart at the seams. If it’s the latter, then the Singapore experiment suggests that governments can install cameras on every block in their cities and mine every piece of online data and all that still wouldn’t be enough to dramatically curb crime, prevent terrorism, or halt an epidemic. A national unity of purpose, a sense that we all sink or swim together, has to be instilled in the population. So Singapore is using technology to do that too.

In 2009, Singapore’s leaders decided to expand the RAHS system and the use of scenario planning far beyond the realm of national security — at least as it’s commonly understood in the United States. They established the Strategic Futures Network, staffed by deputy secretaries from every ministry, to export the RAHS methods across the entire government. The network looks beyond national security concerns and uses future planning to address all manner of domestic social and economic issues, including identifying “strategic surprise” and so-called “black swan” events that might abruptly upset national stability.

The RAHS team has mounted a study on the public’s attitude toward the housing system and what people want out of it. The provision of affordable, equitable housing is a fundamental promise that the government makes to its citizens, and keeping them happy in their neighborhoods has been deemed essential to national harmony. Eighty percent of Singapore’s citizens live in public housing — fashionable, multiroom apartments in high-rise buildings, some of which would sell for around U.S. $1 million on the open market. The government, which also owns about 80 percent of the city’s land, sells apartments at interest rates below 3 percent and allows buyers to repay their mortgages out of a forced retirement savings account, to which employers also make a contribution. The effect is that nearly all Singaporean citizens own their own home, and it doesn’t take much of a bite out of their income.

Future planning has been applied to a broad variety of policy problems. It has been used to study people’s changing attitudes about how kids should be educated and whether it’s time to lessen Singapore’s historically strong emphasis on test scores for judging student achievement. The Singapore Tourism Board used the methodology to examine trends about who will be visiting the country over the next decade. Officials have tried to forecast whether “alternative foods” derived from experiments and laboratories could reduce Singapore’s near-total dependence on food imports.

Singaporeans have even begun studying what officials describe as a pervasive “nostalgia” among many citizens, who are longing for a simpler, slower-paced time before the city-state’s breathtaking economic rise, moving from Third World to First World status in a generation and a half. “But there is also an ugly side to nostalgia,” the government warns. “It can be about rejecting certain aspects of the present, such as the growth of Singapore into a diverse, global city, and cultivating an insular sense of nationalism. We explore what can be done to channel this urge for nostalgia in a direction that is more forward-looking.”

But the future is one of the things that worries Singaporeans. In 2013, the government issued a so-called “population white paper” that described its efforts to grow the country and forecast a 30 percent population increase by 2030, bringing the number of residents to as many as 6.9 million in the already crowded city-state. Immigrants were expected to make up half the total. Singaporeans revolted. Four thousand people attended one rally against the population plan — one of the largest public protests in the country’s history. The white paper revealed a potential double threat: Singaporeans were already turning against the government for growing the country too big and too fast, and now they were turning on their immigrant neighbors, whom they blamed for falling wages and rising home prices.

The protests shook the “nation’s mood” at the highest level, and the government was prepared to take drastic measures to quell the unrest, starting with cutting immigrant labor. The National Population and Talent Division — a kind of immigration-cum-human-resources department — intends to slow the growth of the workforce to about 1 to 2 percent per year over the rest of the decade, which is a dramatic departure from the more than 3 percent annual growth over the past 30 years. With that, GDP growth is likely to retract to an average of 3 to 4 percent per year. It is impossible to know whether wealthy Singaporeans — and the country’s foreign investors — will tolerate an economic slowdown. (Or whether a country with an abysmal fertility rate of 1.2 children can even sustain its economy without foreign labor.) But the government has concluded that a slowdown is the right price to pay for keeping a harmonious society. The data tells it so.

Singapore is now undertaking a multiyear initiative to study how people in lower-level service or manufacturing jobs could be replaced by automated systems like computers or robots, or be outsourced. Officials want to understand where the jobs of the future will come from so that they can retrain current workers and adjust education curricula. But turning lower-end jobs into more highly skilled ones — which native Singaporeans can do — is a step toward pushing lower-skilled immigrants out of the country.

If national stability means more surveillance and big-data scanning, Singaporeans seem willing to make the trade-off.

“In Singapore, the threshold for surveillance is deemed relatively higher,” according to one RAHS study, with the majority of citizens having accepted the “surveillance situation” as necessary for deterring terrorism and “self-radicalization.” Singaporeans speak, often reverently, of the “social contract” between the people and their government. They have consciously chosen to surrender certain civil liberties and individual freedoms in exchange for fundamental guarantees: security, education, affordable housing, health care.

From the angry citizen who takes a photo of a policeman sleeping in his car and posts it to Twitter to an opposition blogger who challenges party orthodoxy, Singapore’s leaders cannot escape the watch of their own citizens.

But the social contract is negotiable and “should not be taken for granted,” the RAHS team warns. “Nor should it be expected to be perpetual. Surveillance measures considered acceptable today may not be tolerable by future generations of Singaporeans.” At least not if those measures are applied only to them. One future study that examined “surveillance from below” concluded that the proliferation of smartphones and social media is turning the watched into the watchers. These new technologies “have empowered citizens to intensely scrutinise government elites, corporations and law enforcement officials … increasing their exposure to reputational risks,” the study found. From the angry citizen who takes a photo of a policeman sleeping in his car and posts it to Twitter to an opposition blogger who challenges party orthodoxy, Singapore’s leaders cannot escape the watch of their own citizens.

In the nation’s 2011 elections, the People’s Action Party won “only” 81 out of 87 seats in Parliament, an outcome that most political observers considered a disaster. The opposition had its best showing in Singapore’s history. For the first time, partisan adversaries mounted a credible threat to the status quo, and Singaporeans voted in larger numbers against the government’s management of the country. Even Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong saw his party’s victory as an alarming loss. “It marks a distinct shift in our political landscape,” Lee told reporters after the vote. “Many [Singaporeans] wish for the government to adopt a different style and approach.”

The election results had little to do with surveillance per se, but surveillance and its ostensible benefits are an integral part of how the government has defined Singapore as a nation. When Peter Ho, the senior defense official, met with John Poindexter back in 2002 about the Total Information Awareness program, Poindexter suggested that Singapore would face a much easier time installing a big-data analysis system than he had in the United States, because Singapore’s privacy laws were so much more permissive. But Ho replied that the law wasn’t the only consideration. The public’s acceptance of government programs and policies was not absolute, particularly when it came to those that impinged on people’s rights and privileges.

It sounds like an accurate forecast. In this tiny laboratory of big-data mining, the experiment is yielding an unexpected result: The more time Singaporeans spend online, the more they read, the more they share their thoughts with each other and their government, the more they’ve come to realize that Singapore’s light-touch repression is not entirely normal among developed, democratic countries — and that their government is not infallible. To the extent that Singapore is a model for other countries to follow, it may tell them more about the limits of big data and that not every problem can be predicted.

Shane Harris is a senior staff writer at Foreign Policy and the author of the forthcoming book @War: The Rise of the Military-Internet Complex, which will be published in November 2014.

Editor’s note: Shane Harris’s trip to Singapore was jointly sponsored by the Singapore International Foundation and the New America Foundation, where he is a fellow. The FP Group, which publishes Foreign Policy, is partnering with Singapore’s Centre for Strategic Futures and Peter Ho, who is quoted above, to convene an expert forum on the global impacts of rapid technological change. Neither Peter Ho nor the Singaporean government had any control over the content of this article.