The incarceration of 56-year-old Chinese citizen Huang Qi at the hands of Chinese authorities helps to remind us of how the conversion of the U.S. government to a national-security state fundamentally altered life in America in an adverse way.
Huang is a human-rights advocate in China, one who has courageously publicized and disclosed human-rights violations on the part of the Chinese communist regime. Huang was recently sentenced to 12 years in jail for the crime of disclosing “state secrets.”
Prior to that sentence, Huang served eight years in jail for the crime of “inciting subversion of state power” for reporting on the Chinese government’s violent suppression of the group Falun Gong.
China is a national-security state. So is post-World War II United States. So are North Korea, Cuba, Egypt, Vietnam, and Russia.
A national-security state consists of a vast and powerful military-intelligence establishment, one that wields omnipotent dark-side powers, such as the power to engage in secret and non-secret state-sponsored assassinations.
In most national-security states, the military and intelligence officials control the entire government. In the United States. the national security establishment, which consists of the Pentagon, the military industrial complex, the CIA, and the NSA, is effectively a fourth branch of government, one whose power structure is based outside of Washington, in Virginia and Maryland. By virtue of its military might, intelligence-gathering capabilities, and self-assumed omnipotent, non-reviewable power of assassination, it has developed into the most powerful of the four branches of the federal government.
In fact, in his profound book Double Government, Tuft University law professor Michael Glennon makes a virtually irrefutable case for the notion that the national-security part of the federal government is actually controlling and running the government, especially its foreign policy, just like in other national-security states. Glennon shows how America’s national-security establishment simply permits the other three branches to maintain a veneer of being in control.
In a national-security state type of governmental structure, “national security” is everything. The job of the national-security establishment is to protect “national security.” No one has ever placed an objective definition on the term because that would serve to limit the power of the national-security state. That makes the powers of the national-security state omnipotent, just like in foreign national-security states.
America wasn’t always a national-security state. The Constitution called into existence a type of governmental structure known as a limited government republic. That remained America’s government structure for more than 150 years. In a limited-government republic, the government does not wield powers like assassination or secret surveillance. It also lacks the power to punish people for “subverting state power” or disclosing “state secrets.” In fact, a limited-government republic is based on the concept of transparency in governmental operations.
During World War II, the U.S. government partnered with the Soviet Union to defeat Nazi Germany, which itself was a premier example of a national-security state. At the end of the war, however, U.S. officials told the American people that the United States now faced an equally dangerous foe, if not more so. That foe was their wartime partner and ally (and enemy of Nazi Germany), the Soviet Union.
U.S. officials maintained that there was a worldwide communist conspiracy to take over the United States and the rest of the world. That conspiracy, they said, was centered in Moscow, Russia.
In other to defeat this conspiracy, they maintained, it was necessary for Americans to give up temporarily their limited-government republic and become a national-security state, one with all the vast, dark-side powers of other national-security states, including the Soviet Union and Red China. Remaining as a limited-government republic, they said, would assure defeat at the hands of communist regimes that had no constitutional constraints on their powers.
That is how the U.S. government ended up adopting many of the sordid, dark-side powers of communist regimes. A good example is a state-secrets doctrine, just like the one the communist regime in China has. Like the Chinese Reds, U.S. officials prosecutes people who disclose their “state secrets” and who “subvert state power.” Just ask Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, whose “crime” was disclosing the truth about the dark-side practices of the national-security establishment, including massive secret surveillance schemes by the NSA, just like they have in communist China.
The Chinese communist regime oftentimes incarcerates people for extended periods of time without a trial. When a trial is finally held, the people who are determining guilt or innocence are government personnel, not a jury composed of other private citizens. The trial is really just a formality because the verdict is preordained. People accused of crimes are oftentimes brutally tortured and beaten.
Not surprisingly, the United States has the same type of judicial system when it comes to cases involving “terrorism.” That’s what the Pentagon’s and CIA’s prison camp and judicial center in Cuba are all about. There are people there who have been incarcerated for more than 10 years without a trial. Like in China, defendants are presumed guilty and are subjected to brutal torture and mistreatment. Many judicial proceedings at Gitmo are held in secret, just like Huang Qi’s trial in China. If people are ever permitted trials, the people determining guilt or innocence will be U.S. military personnel. The verdicts will be preordained.
The irony is that when the Cold War ended, the American people were supposed to get their limited-government republic back. They learned the hard way that once a national-security state comes into existence, it is not going to willingly give up its omnipotent power.