Episode 325 – The Information-Industrial Complex

by | Dec 18, 2017 | Podcasts | 26 comments

Half a century ago, outgoing President Dwight D. Eisenhower coined the term “military-industrial complex” to describe the fascistic collusion between the Pentagon and America’s burgeoning armaments industry. But in our day and age we are witnessing the rise of a new collusion, one between the Pentagon and the tech industry that it helped to seed, that is committed to waging a covert war against people the world over. Now, in the 21st century, it is time to give this new threat a name: the information-industrial complex.

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When WWII ended and the American deep state welded the national security establishment into place with the National Security Act, the world entered into a new era: the era of the military-industrial complex. But when the Cold War ended and the “Clash of Civilizations” became the new existential threat, the deep state found an opening for another paradigm shift. As the all-pervasive threat of terrorism became the carte blanche for total surveillance, the powers-that-shouldn’t-be found the organizing principal of our age would not be military hardware, but data itself. Welcome to the age of the information-industrial complex.

This is The Corbett Report.

Of all the things that President Dwight D. Eisenhower did during his years in office, it is for a single phrase from his farewell address that he is best remembered today: “the military-industrial complex.”

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

It is not difficult to see why these words passed so quickly into the political lexicon. Think of their explanatory power.

Why did the US use inflated estimates of Russian missile capabilities to justify stockpiling a nuclear arsenal that was more than sufficient to destroy the planet several times over?

The military-industrial complex.

Why did America send 50,000 of its own to fight and die in the jungles of Vietnam, killing untold millions of Vietnamese (not to mention Cambodians)?

The military-industrial complex.

Why did the US use the public’s fear and anger over 9/11 and a phony panic over non-existent weapons of mass destruction to justify the illegal invasion and trillion-dollar occupation of Iraq?

The military-industrial complex.

Why did Nobel Peace Prize laureate Obama expand the fictitious “war on terror” into Pakistan and Yemen and Somalia, refuse to close Guantanamo despite his earlier promises to the contrary, commit US forces to “kinetic military action” in Libya without so much as seeking Congressional approval, and launch a new era of covert drone warfare?

The military-industrial complex.

Why has Trump not only continued but further expanded the US military presence in Africa, increased US aid to Israel and Saudi Arabia, actively enabled the war crimes in Yemen that have led to the largest cholera outbreak in human history, and killed more civilians in his first six months in office than former drone-king Obama killed in his entire eight-year presidency?

The military-industrial complex.

When you think about it, it’s rather remarkable that such a phrase was ever uttered by a President of the United States, much less a former five-star general. Could you imagine any modern-day President talking about something like the “military-industrial complex” and its attempted “acquisition of unwarranted influence” without immediately dismissing the idea as a conspiracy theory? Over the decades there has been much speculation about Eisenhower’s use of the phrase, and what precisely he was warning against. Some have argued that the phrase was prompted by Eisenhower’s discovery that the Rand Corporation was grossly misrepresenting the Soviet’s military capabilities to John F. Kennedy, who ended up using the Rand invented (and completely fictitious) “missile gap” threat as a cornerstone of his 1960 presidential election campaign.

Whatever the case, it is perhaps time to revisit Eisenhower’s most famous speech. What Eisenhower is ultimately describing is the rise of American fascism; the merger of government and corporate power. What term can better capture the nature of early 21st century American political life? Is there any longer any doubt that the military-industrial complex has reached its ultimate expression in firms like Blackwater (aka “Xe” aka “Academi”) and its military contractor brethren? Is there any other word but “fascism” to describe a state of affairs when a Secretary of Defense can commission a study from a private contractor to examine whether the US military should be using more private contractors, only for that same Secretary of Defense to leave office and become president of the company that conducted the study, only to leave that company to become Vice President of the US and begin waging a war that relies heavily on no-bid contracts awarded to that same company based on the recommendation that it made in its original study? Yet this is precisely the case of Dick Cheney and Halliburton. It would be difficult to think of a more blatant example of the military-industrial complex fascism that Eisenhower was warning of.

But as it turns out, there was another warning about fascism embedded in that farewell address that has received far less attention than the “military-industrial complex” formulation, perhaps because there is no catchphrase hook to describe it:

“Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.”

Given that this warning came in 1961, before the age of communications satellites or personal computers or the internet, it was a remarkably prescient observation. If scientific research half a century ago was dominated by federal grants and expensive computer equipment, how much more true is that for us today, half a century later?

So what is the problem with this? As Ike explained:

“Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

Here, again, the warning is of fascism. But instead of the military-industrial fascism that dominated so much of the 20th century, he was describing here a new fascistic paradigm that was but barely visible at the time that he gave his address: a scientific-technological one. Once again, the threat is that the industry that grows up around this government-sponsored activity will, just like the military-industrial complex, begin to take over and shape the actions of that same government. In this case, the warning is not one of bombs and bullets but bits and bytes, not tanks and fighter jets but hard drives and routers. Today we know this new fascism by its innocuous sounding title “Big Data,” but in keeping with the spirit of Eisenhower’s remarks, perhaps it would be more fitting to call it the “information-industrial complex.”

The concept of an information-industrial complex holds equally explanatory power for our current day and age as the military-industrial complex hypothesis held in Eisenhower’s time.

Why is a company like Google going to such lengths to capture, track and database all information on the planet?

The information-industrial complex.

Why were all major telecom providers and internet service providers mandated by federal law to hardwire in back door access to American intelligence agencies for the purpose of spying on all electronic communications?

The information-industrial complex.

Why would government after government around the world target encryption as a key threat to their national security, and why would banker after banker call for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to be banned even as they plan to set up their own, central bank-administered digital currencies?

The information-industrial complex.

The effects of this synthesis are more and more felt in our everyday lives. Every single day hundreds of millions of people around the world are interfacing with Microsoft software or Apple hardware or Amazon cloud services running on chips and processors supplied by Intel or other Silicon Valley stalwarts. Google has become so ubiquitous that its very name has become a verb meaning “to search for something on the internet.” The 21st century version of the American dream is encapsulated in the story of Mark Zuckerberg, a typical Harvard whizkid whose atypical rise to the status of multi-billionaire was enabled by a social networking tool by the name of “Facebook” that he developed.

But how many people know the flip side of this coin, the one that demonstrates the pervasive government influence in shaping and directing these companies’ rise to success, and the companies’ efforts to aid the government in collecting data on its own citizens? How many know, for instance, that Google has a publicly acknowledged relationship with the NSA? Or that a federal judge has ruled that the public does not have the right to know the details of that relationship? Or that Google Earth was originally the brainchild of Keyhole Inc., a company that was set up by the CIA’s own venture capital firm, In-Q-Tel, using satellite data harvested from government Keyhole-class reconnaissance satellites? Or that the former CEO of In-Q-Tel, Gilman Louie, sat on the board of the National Venture Capital Association with Jim Breyer, head of Accel Partners, who provided $12 million of seed money for Facebook? Or that, in 1999, a back door for NSA access was discovered in Microsoft’s Windows operating system source code? Or that Apple founder Steve Jobs was granted security clearance by the Department of Defense for still-undisclosed reasons while heading Pixar in 1988, as was the former head of AT&T and numerous others in the tech industry?

The connections between the IT world and the government’s military and intelligence apparatus run deep. In fact, the development of the IT industry is intimately intertwined with the US Air Force, the Department of Defense and its various branches (including, famously, DARPA), and, of course, the CIA. A cursory glance at the history of the rise of companies like Mitre Corporation, Oracle, and other household electronics and software firms should suffice to expose the extent of these relations and the existence of what we might dub an “information-industrial complex.”

But what does this mean? What are the ramifications of such a relationship?

Although the signs have been there for decades, perhaps the most startling example of what lies at the heart of this relationship has been revealed by the whistleblowers at the heart of the National Security Agency, one of the most secretive arms of the American intelligence apparatus. While Edward Snowden has received the most attention with his “revelation” of the PRISM program, much of the information about the NSA’s ability to surveil all electronic communications has been revealed over the past decade by NSA whistleblowers like Russ Tice, William Binney, Thomas Drake and J. Kirk Wiebe, third-party contractors like Snowden and AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein, and independent journalists like James Bamford. Together, the story they tell is of a truly Orwellian society in which all communications are being captured and analyzed by the NSA, and, with the advent of facilities like the new data center in Utah, presumably stored indefinitely for use at any future time in any future investigation for any pretense by anyone with authorization to access that data. According to Snowden, this includes lowly third-party contractors like himself operating at NSA subcontractors like Booz Allen Hamilton in the vast (and expanding) private intelligence industry that has grown up around the information-industrial complex in the exact same way as private military contractors like Blackwater formed around the military-industrial complex.

In some ways, this information-industrial complex is even more insidious than its military-industrial counterpart. For all of the ills caused by the military-industrial complex (and there are many), at the very least it required some sort of excuse to drain the American people’s resources, and its failures (like the Vietnam quagmire or the debacle in Iraq) happened in the clear light of day. In the information-industrial complex, where vast spying programs happen in the shadows and under the cover of “national security,” it takes whistleblowers and insiders willing to risk it all even to find out what is being done by these shadowy agencies and their private-sector contractors. Even worse, the entire Orwellian spy grid is being run on the flimsiest of pretenses (the “war on terror”) that has no defined end point, and “justifies” turning that spy grid inward, on the American people themselves.

Surely Eisenhower never envisaged the monstrosity that this information-industrial complex has become, but the foresight he had in identifying its early stages over half a century ago is remarkable. The problem is that we are even further away from heeding the warning that he delivered in that 1961 address than we were at that time:

“It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system—ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.”

If only this were the rhetoric that was shaping today’s debate on the issue, instead of the well-worn canard that we must “strike a balance” between freedom and security. Sadly, until such time as the National Security Act of 1947 is repealed and the cover of national security is lifted from the dark actors that populate this sector, the information-industrial complex is unlikely to be quashed—or even hampered—anytime soon.


  1. Great video!

    Although the information is very disturbing it’s an excellent summary of the state of the modern world. At the plus side at least we have a word for it now “Information Industrial Complex”.

  2. Excellent report James Corbett I am supposing that Brock West had a hand in its creation too. There seems to be some irony in the fact that neither of you are American in citizenship. However as weak in intelectual curiosity as I try to express ,you two exhibit an American trait of seeking the root truth of the matter at hand, and hold these truths to a higher standard of fair and just understanding and application if action need be taken. Americans are an impatient people. We do not as Americans ,think things out, we act, often to our determent. As I am an American , I am guilty of such qualities. I can’t set idle in view of an injustice and gross abuse of ‘fair play’.
    We have as Carroll Quigley spoke of a dual mentality in our national character. I come to understand late in life, that our national character is skitzefrintic or as you say ‘psychopathic’ . Either way we have become the technocracy-kkacistocrocy you so brillenty put forth.
    It is to my, and my countries citizens shame that the professor of this realization is not an American , but a voice from the Queens dominions. I think they speak not from a want to be and have what Americans take for granted, but from the voice of all sane people who despise fascism and all the historical weight of what we are becoming.
    Corbett is showing and warning us, Americans ,America, what dangerous future is in store if we continue to embrace Fascism, delberatly or by stealth. Have any one of you read the Constitution and truly know what it means. The document has been subverted and subjected to the decay and harm of a Fascist takeover.
    Corbett and Company explains that brilliantly! Time of the hour is near. R.I.P..Bill.

    • Bravo, great comment general. I fear “the information-industrial complex” train has left the station and has reached the speed of light.

    • I could but it would take as in Quigleys case some 350 pages. He compares our development with that of the Russians. The root to our dualism he says is our puritan( 1700s ) rooted stock with the nineteenth century ( 1800s) trend emphasizing mans animal nature. “Based on a duelistic creature in which an external spiritual soul was encased, temporarily, in an ephemeral, material body. The outlook behind these achievements( escaping the 1700s for the 1800s) may be symbolized by Charles Darwin…, and of Sigmund Freud.” Tragedy and Hope by Carroll Quigley pg.832. Index- Dualism 84,86, 101-5,(Russian.) 832-1186, 1227-8,1238-9-1276.
      So John-O , its about the clash of religion and sex. Can’t think of a more qualifying way of describing what it is to be a Nazi. Paper-Clip was another of those American not thinking it through moments. Should have vetted them more closely.
      Excellent comments by many others as well. May we all have a
      Mercy Christmas!

  3. Brock, excellent job with the style and delivery of this video. I like the feeling it created right from the beginning. Very well done. And of course, the content is as potent as ever.

    • Thank you very much Briar. James’ brilliant writing & research are what allows me to piece together the visuals in such a way. Glad to see the it’s having such a positive response from the subscribers. Spread the word folks!

      • My hat is off to you Broc!
        Your visuals bring the topic home!

      • Yes, yes, of course. I meant to tag James on the remark that “the content is as potent as ever.”

  4. One of your best ever! I want everyone to hear this

  5. It is a Corbett Super-Classic!

    We all should spread this around.

  6. Disruptive Innovations

    I am seeing this term more and more.
    “Disruptive Innovations” could enslave us further or help to break the shackles.

  7. John o says, did you ever find who wrote the farewell speech that Pres.Eiz. ..gave?
    While I draw the conclusion that , what James calls the M.I.C., was born of the Nazi adopted by the pre-industrial post war milatary . James a question , Was the fascism present in industry before the Nazi collaborators absorbed their mindset into what you are calling the M.I.C.?
    The reason I ask comes from a book I’ve just started ” Let the record speak “by Dorothy Thompson 1939. In the first two pages she says”from the beginning , National Socialism was designed for export; the Nazi Germany would found a’Fascintern’,with the object of taking over the world-revolutionary role once assumed by the Comintern;and in this capacity would be more efficient, shrewd brutal and successful than communism ever was.” Written in 1939.
    So what came first, pre-war fascist American industrial establishment or the absorbed abrogating Nazi techno-orphans post 1950 M.I.C.?
    Also , it really illustrates that dualism in the American psychi.
    The fight against communism by use of a supper Fascintern.i.e. M.I.C., freedom and democracy destroyed. We are becoming what we feared most. What irony born of apathy.

    • Ah yes John-O , I completely forgot about Gen.Smedley Butler. He is a modern day Nathan Hall type. Except they should have hung every last one of the conspirators. Americans need to know more of Gen.S Butler. Quigley is silent on Gen.Butler in Tragedy and Hope. No surprise there.Probably nothing in American Anglo- Establishment either. Thanks for the reminder and link to Moos.

      • P.S. J-O.on Moos you see how the deepstate deals with dangerios minds like Moos. They put them to work to shut them up and control what they produce. Hired by the Ford foundation and Nelson Rockefeller. If that doesn’t prove cunning I don’t now what does. Very telling what kind of man he truly was in his later years. Fascinating! When will the deepstate come after Corbett with that offering. He just might turn them down.

  8. I am sure that Moussaoui enjoyed all the waterboarding prior to his trial. 183 times must be fun.
    American justice.
    Yes. Trust our leaders.
    I need authorities.
    I want very important people to dictate how I live and to help make me feel secure and assure me that everything will be taken care of.

    I can go relax now…maybe watch more of “The Voice” and “America Got Talent” shows. “Jersey Housewives” should be fun.

  9. VoiceOfArabi,
    I hear ya about Scientology. I have spent countless hours looking into it.

    You bring up some good points about similarities. I mention some similar aspects regarding CONTROL here…

    Here are some SOURCES about Scientology and also how they identify “Psychopaths and people affected by them”.

    Not everything nor everyone in Scientology is nutty. But there definitely are & have been “Power Hungry Psychopaths” who try to run the show.
    This is a published work which has some very interesting points, some of which I like. (pdf link)

    Jim Marrs, G. Edward Griffin, Psychiatrist Colin Ross

    • I like that phrase analogy…
      They seem to have the same writer.

      – (same script writer) –

      “writer” as in…
      – director –
      – authorship –
      – hack – (a writer who works on order or solely for commercial success, mercenary)
      – hatchet man –

  10. Oh! Another fibbeyond tadpole credulity. Prosecution must of been what you meant to type. To think that Clinton was persecuted may lead you to vote for his sainthood next in the pantheons of psychopaths. Bless You so funny really belly-roll laughing imagining Clinton being persecuted.

  11. Herrqleys, this link should be seen by all. There is from time to time small exquisite gems that are offered up by the Cornet community and this is one of them. What a gem!Thank you where and how did you come across this? What he says about drugs,tobacco and alcohol is telling.

  12. Now I am getting really scared…

    – Bloomberg October 18, 2017 – PEW pole –
    …What’s truly striking about the Pew findings, however, is what kind of experiment people would favor. The only nondemocratic form of government that attracts majorities in some countries is technocracy, in which experts, not elected politicians, determine how to run a nation. The list of countries where that’s a common belief is telling:….

    • HomeyRemedy; I have not seen the Bloomberg artical yet and will later tonight. Don’t tell me but is the number one technocracy loving country Israel? Just Guessing. Now to your link.

  13. Beautify stated Skepticon!

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