Bush Administration launched Civil Unrest Study in 2008
An article by TheGuardian.com has revealed a Pentagon program that is targeting not only foreign countries but the United States as well. The program is called the Minerva Research Initiative and according to The Guardian, its aim is to “to improve Department of Defense’s basic understanding of the social, cultural, behavioral, and political forces that shape regions of the world of strategic importance to the U.S.”
The Department of Defense launched a project in 2008 that has escaped the eyes of many people. This project examines the potential for civil unrest, not only in foreign countries but also inside the United States. What makes this project so unique is that it’s a major investment in behavioral and social research for the purposes of identifying military threats to the United States. The project does not just cover terrorist movements or already existent political unrest, it goes deeper. The study is looking at Non-Government Organizations also known as NGOs and peace activists.
The Department of Defense is funding study into these areas with various American universities. One study at Cornell University examined the dynamics “of social movement mobilization and contagions.” Part of that study entailed examining Twitter posts and conversations to identify individuals mobilized in a social contagion and when they become mobilized.
The investigation also revealed that the United States has been conducting domestic war games using the tactics learned in Iraq and Afghanistan. One such war game was the observation of a peaceful protest against a coal power plant near Missouri. The protesters were unaware that they were being watched and labeled as “problem-solvers” and “problem-causers.”
The fear is that the militarization of social science, combined with the unprecedented National Security Agency surveillance program results in a less free society. However, the domestic terrorism threat to the United States is real and it’s growing. The Southern Poverty Law center released its hate map of the United States and the map indicated over 939 active hate groups in the country. Many of these groups have expressed a willingness to engage in violence and some have in fact committed violent acts or have a legacy of violence. The Minerva Project is setup to help identify these groups and its motivation has been said to prepare for the destabilizing impact of coming environmental, energy and economic shocks.