According to a recent article in the Washington Post, in the aftermath of the January 6 melee at the Capitol there are increasing calls for the U.S. government’s Department of Homeland Security to “play a more muscular role in combating domestic extremism.” The article points out that up to this point, DHS has been “responsible for securing the country’s borders, ports, transportation and cyber systems, generally leaving the monitoring of extremist groups and terrorism investigations to the FBI.” But since “DHS and its agencies have nearly eight times as many employees as the FBI,” the idea is that they should be called upon the play a bigger domestic role.
When I first heard the term Department of Homeland Security back in 2001, I immediately thought about Nazi Germany. Indeed, doesn’t every totalitarian regime have a Department of Homeland Security”?
One thing is for sure: Americans didn’t have a Department of Homeland Security when the country was established. And it didn’t have one for the next 200 years. In fact, the concept is so creepy and so anti-freedom that there is no doubt that if the Constitution had authorized a Department of Homeland Security, our American ancestors would never have approved the Constitution in the first place.
Another thing is for sure: The Constitution has never been amended to authorize a Department of Homeland Security. So how is it that the American people are saddled with this totalitarian-like agency today?
It all stems from the Pentagon’s and CIA’s foreign policy of interventionism, especially after they lost their official Cold War enemy, the Soviet Union, in 1989. Keep in mind that it was the Soviet Union — along with “godless communism’ — that served as the official boogeyman that kept the American people deathly afraid from the end of World War II through the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989.
In fact, it was the Soviet Union, which ironically had been America’s WWII partner and ally, that was used as the justification for the (unconstitutional) conversion of the federal government from a limited-government republic to a national-security state, which itself is a totalitarian form of governmental structure.
For the entire 4 1/2 decades of the Cold War, Americans were kept afraid. That’s not surprising. Fear is the coin of the realm in every national-security state — North Korea, Cuba, Russia, Egypt, China, Burma, Pakistan, the United Sates, and all the rest. That fear, needless to say, generated support for ever-increasing budgets, power, and influence for the national-security establishment.
A new fear
In 1989, it was the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA who were afraid — afraid that the American people were going to dismantle or at least significantly reduce the size and scope of their money and power. After all, the justification for their existence had suddenly, unexpectedly come to an end.
That’s when the Pentagon and the CIA went into the Middle East with an intense program of deadly and destructive interventionism that was certain to produce an even better official enemy than the Soviet Union and godless communism. That new official enemy was “terrorism.”
They intervened in the Persian Gulf War against their old partner and ally, Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, killing countless Iraqis in the process. They intentionally destroyed Iraq’s water and sewage treatment facilities, knowing that this would help spread illnesses within the Iraqi populace. They imposed one of the most brutal sanctions regimes in history and enforced them for 11 years. In 1996 U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright publicly declared that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions were “worth it.” They stationed U.S. troops near Islamic holy lands knowing full well what the reaction would be among devout Muslims. They provided unconditional support to the Israeli government.
The result — angry retaliatory terrorism on American soil — was predictable. In his book Blowback, the noted analyst Chalmers Johnson predicted it. Here at FFF, we predicted it in our articles.
It didn’t take a rocket scientist to predict it. There had been the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, which was no different in principle than the one that would follow it in 2001. There were the terrorist attacks on the USS Cole and on U.S. Embassies in East Africa. They were all motivated by rage over what U.S. officials were doing to people in the Middle East.
And then came the 9/11 attacks, which finally gave U.S. officials the new official enemy they needed to replace the Soviet Union and godless communism — “terrorism.” (Many interventionists said it was Islam and Muslims.)
That was when they declared their perpetual “war on terrorism,” which was actually better than their previous official enemy because it was endless. When they used the fear generated by the 9/11 attacks to initiate more deadly and destructive interventionism in the Middle East (e.g., another war on Iraq) and also Afghanistan, that generated a new endless slew of terrorists.
That’s how we got the Department of Homeland Security — to protect us from this new official enemy. That’s also how we got the torture and prison camp at Gitmo. And the CIA’s secret torture centers in former communist countries. That’s how we got the Patriot Act. That’s how we got the illegal telecom scandal. That’s how we got the illegal NSA surveillance. That’s how we got the state-sponsored assassination of American citizens.
And it’s just getting worse, as reflected by the wish to redirect the focus of the totalitarian-like Department of Homeland Security. The irony is that as the screws of tyranny are increasingly tightened on the American people, the possibility of an adverse reaction among certain elements in American society causes them to be tightened even more.