...all over America, law enforcement and intelligence agencies have been making information about the public available to a Pentagon power center most people have never heard about: U.S. Northern Command, or NORTHCOM, located at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. Hidden deep inside Cheyenne Mountain, more than 100 intelligence analysts sift through streams of data collected by federal agents and local law enforcers—continually updating a virtual picture of what the command calls the North American "battlespace," which includes the United States, Canada, and Mexico, as well as 500 miles out to sea. If they find something amiss, they have resources to deploy in response that no law enforcement agency could dream of. They've got an army, a navy, an air force, the Marines, and the Coast Guard.After 9/11 the torture techniques developed by the CIA decades ago and used most infamously in Latin America migrated to Rumsfeld's special terrorist-kidnapping group, who spread the techniques to Abu Ghraib and beyond.
More troubling than being watched, though, is what might happen after the spying is over. NORTHCOM is still prohibited from doing much of the work police departments and the FBI do, but it could end up doing work that its parallel commands do overseas. Joseph Onek of the Constitution Project in Washington, D.C., a bipartisan nonprofit focused on civil liberties during wartime, puts it this way: "We're worried that some hotshot military intelligence guy gets back from the Middle East and goes to work with NORTHCOM, using some of the same interrogation methods used at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay."
But then those techniques might not be used here.
Instead, if you're lucky, you might be sent there, to the bowels of some unnamed nation—sans lawyer, sans diplomatic recourse—where mustached men with Napoleon complexes and a secret hatred for rich Westerners strip you naked and beat you with clubs while shouting at you in thick accents, sweat trickling down their shadowed faces, their halitosis adding insult to a welter of aches and gashes, as you draw a slow and rattling breath and try to focus between swollen lids at the dim and sputtering bulb swaying overhead, hinting at a darker fate should you fail to comply. But then you're an innocent American, right...?
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