Nightwatch InfraGard

17:53 Fri 08 Feb 2008
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So the US Government, primarily through the FBI, has been pseudo-deputizing a bunch of private-sector individuals to aid in “infrastructure protection”. The group is called InfraGard, and I’m not quite sure how to capture the mix of creepy and tacky (not to mention authoritarian) that they represent.

The most disturbing thing in the article is the claim that InfraGard members were told that in the event of martial law, they could kill individuals in order to defend their infrastructure, and they wouldn’t be prosecuted for it later. In addition, under martial law, InfraGard members would have ‘the ability to travel in restricted areas and to get people out’.

Obviously, they’re an information-gathering service for the FBI, which is disturbing enough. That they claim exemption from FOIA requests is disturbing too. But the idea that these people, in return for being part of the secret agents’ club, would get special treatment under martial law strikes me as really freaky.

The other thing that’s weird about it is the earnestness/tackiness, such that I half think that it’s a harmless networking organization for wannabe Jack Bauers. Unfortunately, crisis periods tend to exacerbate banal mythologizing, so harmless deluded fantasists who end up, during some disaster, in possession of real power and responsibility could quite easily become very dangerous—most likely in a way that zealously enforces conformism to the interests of the government and the status quo. Of course, that’s a feature, not a bug, which is what places it squarely back into the realm of the disturbing and wrong.

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