Saturday, November 13, 2004

Psalm for a Security Society

Pentagon Envisioning a Costly Internet for War

The Pentagon is building its own Internet, the military's world wide web for the wars of the future. The goal is to give all American commanders and troops a moving picture of all foreign enemies and threats - "a God's-eye view" of battle. This "Internet in the sky," Peter Teets, under secretary of the Air Force, told Congress, would allow "marines in a Humvee, in a faraway land, in the middle of a rainstorm, to open up their laptops, request imagery" from a spy satellite, and "get it downloaded within seconds." The Pentagon calls the secure network the Global Information Grid, or GIG. Conceived six years ago, its first connections were laid six weeks ago. It may take two decades and hundreds of billions of dollars to build the new war net and its components.

Here is my rather perverse response to this:

Psalm 139

1 O Government, you have searched me out
and you know where I am.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before I have hung up my cell phone,
you know my conversation completely, O Government.

5 You hem me in-behind with your Tasers and before;
you have laid your satellites upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too frightening for me,
too high security for me to attain.
You would have to kill me should I know it.

7 Where can I go from your satellite Internet?
Where can I flee from your spying cameras?
8 If I go up to the heavens, your orbiting satellites are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, your listening devices are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your reconnaissance will find me,
your troops will hold me fast.

11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
with your night vision equipment
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is no problem for you, O Government,
Indeed, you cherish keeping your citizens in the dark.

13 For you seek control of my inmost being;
your laws require me to be born from my mother's womb.
14 I fear you because I am powerless before your technology;
your works are hegemonic,
I know that full well.
15 There is no place that is hidden from you
I have no refuge, there is no secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16 your sonogram saw my unformed body
and your laws require it be born.
All the laws ordained for me
were written in your book
and there shall be no exceptions.

17 How frightening to me is your power, O Government!
How vast is your military and technological might!
18 Were I to count the ways you can control your people,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake, you are still with me.
There is no escape from you.

19 If only you would slay the wicked, O Government!
And keep away from us those bloodthirsty men
of whom you keep us constantly concerned.
20 Your corporate media daily speak of their evil intent;
your designated enemies regularly grace our televisions.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Government,
and abhor those who cause our Amber Alerts?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies
Because your sound bytes so instruct me.
I have learned my lessons well.

23 Search my home and car, O Government, and know my life;
remind me why your security state should relieve my anxious thoughts.
24 Monitor my speech for any dissent,
and force me in the way which is patriotic.


The Rev. Harry Scott Coverston, J.D., Ph.D.
Member, Florida Bar (inactive status)
Priest, Episcopal Church (Dio. of El Camino Real, CA)
Instructor: Humanities, Religion, Philosophy of Law
University of Central Florida, Orlando

If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding. Most things of value do not lend themselves to production in sound bytes.