While playing golf, President Obama is constantly kept informed: the umpteenth terrorism alarm has rung. Any moment now, the phantom Al Qaeda may attack targets related to U.S. interests, especially in the Middle East and North Africa. The alert is triggered for U.S. citizens traveling abroad. Many U.S. embassies are temporarily closed, while the Marines are ready to intervene from Sigonella to protect those in southern Europe.

The merit of this timely alarm belongs to the Intelligence Community. It is composed of 17 federal organizations. In addition to the CIA there is the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency), but each branch of the armed forces, military land, air, navy, marines, has its own secret service. As also the State Department and that of Homeland Security.

Among these services, in tough competition to capture political support and federal funds, there is the National Security Agency. It specializes in telephone and computer interceptions (which uncovered the last terrorist plot), through which are surveiled not only enemies but friends of the United States, as confirmed by "DataGate" exposed by the former contractor, Edward Snowden. In ten years the Agency has increased its civilian and military personnel by a third by bringing in 33,000 people, has doubled its budget and more than tripled its private subcontracted companies, increasing them from 150 to 500. Headquartered at Fort Meade (Maryland), already larger than the Pentagon, it is about to be amplified by 50%. It is simultaneously developing its other centers, each with its own focus area. The Texas center is spying on Central and South America, that of Georgia, the Middle East, the center in the Hawaiian Islands, the countries of the Pacific coast, including Russia and China, the one in Australia, all of Asia. The center in England (whose staff will be increased by a third to 2500 people) spy on Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. And in Utah a new center for cyber warfare is now being built for attacks against computer networks in other countries.

But the war in which the agency specializes is not just involving computers. The agency directs the Special Operations Command, which operates in over 70 countries with approximately 70,000 specialists, and other specialized units for covert operations, indicating who is considered dangerous for the United States to eliminate by drone attacks and commando operations. Through a special encrypted computer network, Real Time Regional Gateway, the Agency provides to the heads of the armed forces and intelligence services the list of "targets" and all the information to find them and kill them with drones or commandos.

To this end it employs the most advanced technologies, including one that allows it to locate someone by mobile phone even when it’s turned off. These, "targeted lethal actions", - emphasizes President Obama (May 23) - are "legal" because they are "part of a just war fought in self-defense." This also includes psychological operations, renamed "Military Information Support Operations", conducted by special units to "influence international public opinion to support U.S. interests and U.S. military plans".

Such is the current terrorism alarm (which could be followed by some Al Qaeda signed attack), to show that the U.S. is under attack and thus has the right to "self-defense".

Roger Lagassé
Il Manifesto (Italy)