Just before he left office in 1961, President Eisenhower delivered what is quite possibly the most shocking Farewell Address in presidential history. In his speech, which newly elected President John Kennedy listened to, Eisenhower warned the American people about the grave threat that the U.S. “military-industrial complex” posed to the liberties and democratic processes of the American people.
What Ike was referring to was what is today called a “national-security state,” a type of governmental structure that is inherent to totalitarian regimes and that wields omnipotent powers to protect “national security.”
The communist regime in China is also a national-security state. It just enacted a law designed to protect “national security” in Hong Kong. It is now targeting political dissidents with arrest and punishment for engaging in activities that threaten “national security.”
Ike pointed out that this way of life was new to the United States. That’s because the United States didn’t start out as a national-security state. It started out as a limited-government republic, one whose powers were limited to those enumerated in the Constitution.
That all changed after World War II, when U.S. officials became convinced that there was a worldwide communist conspiracy to take over the United States and the rest of the world. That supposed conspiracy was based in Moscow, Russia, with tentacles reaching to China, North Korea, North Vietnam, and other nations.
U.S. officials decided that a limited-government republic could not defeat this supposed communist conspiracy, one that was composed of various national-security states that wielded omnipotent, dark-side powers. To prevent a communist takeover of the United States, they said, it would be necessary for the federal government to be converted into a national-security state too.
That’s how we got the Pentagon, an enormous, permanent standing army, the CIA, and the NSA, which are the three principal components of the U.S. national-security state. That’s also how the federal government, operating through the national-security establishment, ended up with omnipotent, dark-side powers, including assassination, coups, sanctions, drug experimentation on unsuspecting people, secretly hiring Nazis, secret files maintained on innocent Americans, kidnapping, torture, and mass secret surveillance.
Today, the national-security state has convinced Americans that they have nothing to be concerned about. The national-security state form of governmental structure is the best friend of the American people, they say, because it protects their “national security.”
The American people got a taste of what Ike was talking about during the recent demonstrations against police brutality. While some Pentagon officials later repented the military’s participation in opposing the demonstrations, there was no question but that military officials eagerly and proudly followed orders to do so at the time.
We also must not forget what the mainstream media tends to forget when it correctly lambasts the new “national-security law” that the Chinese national-security state has enacted: Guantanamo Bay. That place is a living testament of the power that the U.S. national-security state wields over the American people, similar to the power that the Chinese national-security state wields over the Chinese citizenry.
As part of its much-vaunted “war on terrorism,” the U.S. national-security state established its prison and torture center at its imperialist base in Cuba. Why Cuba? Because Pentagon and U.S. officials wanted to operate in a Constitution-free zone, one where they could do whatever they wanted to accused “terrorists” and not be hassled by pesky criminal defense lawyers or federal judges.
The thing to keep in mind about terrorism is that it is a federal criminal offense, not an act of war. It’s listed in the U.S. Code as a federal criminal offense. It is why terrorism cases are prosecuted in federal district courts across the land.
Seizing upon the 9/11 crisis, the U.S. national-security state created an alternative judicial system and prison system in Guantanamo Bay. It then assumed the omnipotent power to determine whether to permit a terrorist suspect to be tried in the constitutional judicial system or the U.S. national-security state’s system in Cuba.
The difference is day and night. In the constitutional system, there is the presumption of innocence, the right to effective assistance of counsel, due process of law, right to remain silent, right to bail, right to be free from torture, and other procedural protections our American ancestors included in the Bill of Rights. In the U.S. national-security state’s system in Cuba, none of those rights exist, just as they don’t exist in ether communist China or communist Cuba.
While the national-security state has been nice to American citizens by letting Americans accused of terrorism be tried by the constitutional system, that is nothing more than a discretionary, political decision, one that the national-security establishment could change at any time. Given the right emergency or crisis, the Pentagon and the CIA could easily shift their position and subject Americans accused of terrorism to the Gitmo system. And there would be nothing that Americans could do about that, especially given the policy of the federal courts and Congress to defer to the national-security establishment on matters relating to “national security.”
Americans can easily recognize the danger that the Chinese national-security state poses to the people of Hong Kong. What Americans refuse to recognize is the danger that the U.S. national-security state form of governmental structure poses to the American people, the danger that President Eisenhower warned us about almost 60 years ago.