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Oakland is a poor city; it can’t really afford its extravagant police force, and it certainly couldn’t afford its DAC [Domain Awareness Centre].

Surveillance trickles down in more than one way. At a time when Oakland is closing schools and dealing with more than $50 million in budget shortfalls, the DAC is made possible by DHS grants. These same grants have been militarizing the police all over America as well as giving them wide surveillance capabilities — capabilities that haven’t translated into much terrorism prevention, but have been aggressively brought to bear on protesters all over the nation in the 15 years since the Battle of Seattle in 1999.

In one of the most revealing moments of these baby Big Brothers, a FOIA request for Oakland City mails about the DAC revealed that none of the talk was about crime – no mention of murders, assaults, thefts, or the violent crime Oakland officials express constant frustration with. Instead, there was talk of tracking protests and labor strikes. The internal desires of Oakland’s minders revealed a frustration with the dissent that finds such powerful political expression in Oakland, and strategies for heading it off.

“I have also made it clear that the United States does not collect intelligence to suppress criticism or dissent,” Obama said in his speech Friday. Whether that is true or not for his NSA and Cybercommand, the Obama Executive has had no problems with funding such efforts at the local level.