“America’s New Security State”

The Hoover Institution has published a very troubling article titled ‘America’s New Security State‘.  It examines the way in which the ‘security establishment’ now dominates the US government, and is trying to do the same to every aspect of US society.  Its author, Prof. Angelo M. Codevilla, introduces the topic as follows.

After 9/11 our ruling class came together on the proposition that, at home as well as abroad, America is at war against enemies so evil that there must be no limit to fighting them, whose identity we must always seek but can never know; that to focus on, to “profile,” the kinds of persons who have committed terrorist acts, is racist and provocative; that any American is as likely as any other to be a terrorist, and hence that all must submit to being sifted, screened, restricted—forever. Childhood in the “land of the free, the home of the brave” must now include learning to spread-eagle and be still as government employees run their hands over you. Patriotism is now supposed to mean obeisance to the security establishment, accepting that the authorities may impose martial law on whole cities, keep track of all phone calls, or take whatever action they choose against any person for the sake of “homeland security,” and that theirs alone is the choice whether to disclose the basis for whatever they do.

While the Obama administration ceased to use its predecessor’s term “war on terror” to describe its actions abroad, it redoubled commitment to “homeland security,” reorienting it to home-grown “extremism” defined ad hoc. The result seems less compatible with words such as “peace,” than with “Oceania,” the country in which George Orwell’s novel, 1984, is set.

There’s more at the link.  Troubling indeed – and something of which we all need to be aware.

One of the things that worries me most about this over-emphasis on ‘homeland security’ and the ‘security establishment’ is that the latter appears to have no idea of how vulnerable it is to countermeasures.  I’ve seen in four nations, over three decades, how the employees and officers of military and law enforcement bodies could be (and were) targeted by dissidents, guerrillas and terrorists.  In particular, if the agents of the State could not be targeted at work due to their security precautions, then their families became targets at home.  I saw literally hundreds of cases where their wives and children were assaulted, burned out of their homes, raped, and murdered.  It took a terrible toll on the agents of the State and on their colleagues, because none of them could predict when the same might not happen to their family.  Some left their jobs as a result;  others became even more hard-line, arrogant, authoritarian and domineering (which, of course, only made the problem worse).  Attempts to house their dependents in safe areas where they could be provided with additional security failed to solve the problem, because sooner or later they would need to leave the protected area for some reason – and at that point they became vulnerable again.

I hope and pray I never see the day when an overreaching US security establishment causes that sort of reaction among those it oppresses . . . but I’m a student of history, and I’ve seen too much in a sometimes unpleasantly adventurous life.  It may well happen here too, if people are pushed too far; and that may cause a cycle of repression, reaction, counter-repression, counter-reaction and so on ad nauseam that might disrupt (if not destroy) many lives.  As I’ve said, it’s happened before.  There’s no reason whatsoever why it should not happen here as well.



  1. In the maritime trades, we have a wonderful tradition of Kabuki theatre when it comes to ensuring that it appears that we are Doing Something About It. After 'Two Years Before the Mast' came the nutritional guarantee, where the company swore to provide you with a minimum weight of certain staple foods, which the captain would then promptly restrict for perceived slights (but really to make sure no one starved to death, as there was never enough food to last a voyage). Post TITANIC, it was the Lifesaving Act, which required 1:1 seating on lifeboats for the numbers of passengers on board (but never actually dealing with the fact that most of the time, the lifeboats are inaccessible during a crisis). Now it's Port Security, where sailors are protected by not being allowed to ever leave their ship except in a box, and for having a special port access ID (a TWIC card), which is not recognized as a valid ID, but the absence thereof is sufficient reason for the Coast Guard to withhold credentialing until one pays the $125 to DHS for fingerprinting and a passport photo… funny thing, though. The fingerprints are supposed to be how you get access to shore facilities… except that no one can design a reader that works because salt water and working with your hands removes fingerprints. I haven't had a visible fingerprint since I was 12. Luckily, Northrop Grumman is contracted to manage all this, because they can't design a plane that anyone wants to buy, and, even though they also can't design a combination finger print reader/ID scanner, they make billions in trying and failing to do so.

    It really is enough to make one want to seek out a high powered rifle and a bell tower.

  2. I've worked on force and infrastructure protection since before the Atlanta Olympics and I would say it's in a much worse shape now than ever before.

    At the top you have folks with no technical knowledge for their jobs and little management skills to evaluate the myriad of contractors and programs.

    At the bottom, you have a governmental make work program that hires folks with no desire to work and little training especially at TSA.

    A huge amount of data is collected with little thought if it worth anything at all and no plan to pass what is worthwhile to the responsible agency.


  3. That is why the people who claim that the RKBA is useless because a citizenry armed with small arms cannot defeat a military armed with tanks, jets, and nukes are wrong.

    See, complex weapons systems need supplies like parts, fuel, and maintenance crews. If you can't beat the weapons systems on the battlefield, then the prudent opposing force would target the supply chain.
    The oppressor is then forced to use some of its assets to guard the factory. So then, rebels would then target the electric and gas utilities that supply the factory.
    Then, when the oppressor uses even more resources to safeguard them, the rebels go after the families of the factory and utility workers, etc.
    There is always a weak point in the system, and when the rebels are your own armed citizens with the will to oppose a tyrannical government, the problem is nearly insurmountable.

  4. As Mike Vanderbough at Sipsey Street Irregulars has pointed out, the next (un)civil war will be 4th gen. warfare, instead of slugging it out toe-to-toe w/the Regime, insurgents would be better served targeting the politicians and bureaucrats who send JBTs against the people. Only when the Regime is targeted for their actions, after they lead to another Waco or Ruby Ridge, will they realise they are at risk as much if not more as the agents they send to quash the resistance.

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