I’ve recently had to change my mind about whether our government totally meant us well with its homeland security programs. I’ve done the flip-flop. Shown the typical resolve you’d expect from a rock of gelatin. Not because my outlook changed on much of anything, it’s pretty much ossified at my age. It wasn’t so much what Julian Assange or Edward Snowden told the world while they were ego tripping over the security state that caused my change in ratiocination. It was the behavior of our own national government, under the leadership of President Barack Obama and with the bipartisan connivance of Senators McCain and Graham. This has led me to grow concerned that we were increasingly using security theatre to construct an American Orwell State that took away our personal liberties without any legitimate regard for our individual safety.
In partial homage to the flawed character who was Julian Assange, I blogged admitting the disingenuous freak had made a valid point despite his iniquity.
By now, we’ve all gone through the mourning period requisite to accept that any privacy we expected to have as American Citizens is dead. The War on Terror killed it. In a sense, Osama Bin Laden won. He’s spiking the football down in hell as we speak. If he hated us for our freedoms, he should lighten up a bit and chill. Those freedoms are increasingly becoming non-existent – a casualty of war so to speak. We are increasingly becoming The Orwell State. And the people wielding all the special powers we enacted to fight The War on Terror still wield them without any let-up. They wield them without let-up right after they announced the war was coming to an end. So if the GWOT is over and done with, who does the administration consider the enemy? Or worse yet, does the administration even feel the need for an enemy? Do they consider the police state a naturally justifiable equilibrium?
As something that happens in a time of war, heightened security is something that we should adopt in response to a legitimate probable threat bearing consequences beyond those that we are willing to accept. Very few of the people blithering about how you get neither when you give up a little liberty for a little security ever had the freedom to identify the charred remains of a dearly loved one extracted from a collapsed World Trade Center tower. Thus, if a security measure taken against our liberty is necessary, it can be morally justified under three valid philosophical conditions.
1) It defends us against a clearly identified threat with the understanding that once the threat goes away, so goes the intrusive and restrictive security measure.
2) The measure is applied with goodwill only athwart the identified threat for which the security measure was originally intended.
3)The measure is actually sufficient to ward off the threat.
With these conditions in mind, I find it regrettable that the recent efforts by [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ] to instigate a complete review and reworking of our current system of security theatre by filibustering the USA Patriot Act renewal have led to the wrong conversation. When one our national borders is as utterly permeable as the one shown in the YouTube posted above; we are not serious about homeland security. When a test of our TSA screening procedures indicates a 95% success rate in circumventing our airport security, just firing some big cheese at the DHS does not indicate a serious determination to protect our citizenry. Under the auspices of the USA Patriot Act, we spend billions every year on security that anyone with a functional knowledge of current events can easily realize is not protecting the United States of America.
So outside of a lot of Federal Jobs at DHS and quite a bit of business opportunity for major prime contractors, who are the current security edifices actually protecting? My speculations on that have been similarly pessimistic. The state chooses who it will and will not protect. The threat is a justification; not legitimately a cause of concern to those who wield power over US security.
Our security state could secure our national borders and airports effectively whenever it genuinely decided that it was morally responsible for doing that job. It chooses to accept a 95% TSA failure rate and a totally open national border. Our state could prevent abuses in policing and security that allow stun grenades to get tossed into the cribs of babies and college age women to be harassed by ABC Swat Teams over a case of bottled water. Our security apparatus could choose to effectively prevent people like Dzhokhar Tsarnaev from ever being in a position to blow people up. Instead, they choose to spend the time and effort to train up IRS SWAT Teams to really stick it to those people who get fast and loose with the depreciation credits on their Form-1040s.
Rand Paul went too far in some his remarks during the 11-hour filibuster. Nothing America did or did not do in Iraq made Abu Bakker al-Baghdadi a depraved, murdering, fanatical ideologue. But Rand Paul did rip the lid off an obvious problem. Our security establishment has morphed into a disingenuous, blood-sucking, parasitic, bureaucratic fiefdom that could really care less about my personal safety or yours as long as they keep getting the fat envelopes in the mail.
I used to *hate* leftists who bandied the term “Security Theatre” when they were criticizing the DHS at its founding. But when 95% of the simulated threat packages used to test the TSA’s airport security checkpoints get right on through, what else do you call it? When our borders are so wide open Abu Bakker al-Baghdadi could rent a U-Haul to drive his first nuclear terror weapon across, what else do you call it? When foreign governments warn us about people like The Tsarneav Brothers months in advance and we are afraid getting rid of them would be politically incorrect, what else can you call it? I humbly admit I was wrong to uncritically accept the DHS as one of the good guys. Rand Paul just called it fertilizer. This needs to be the beginning; not the end of the conversation about how we fix this problem.