Permanent Security State

A new book, Power Wars: Inside Obama’s Post-9/11 Presidency, by Charlie Savage, New York Times Washington Correspondent, documents the existence and workings of America’s new permanent security state. It’s a chilling account of how our country has moved far beyond the Imperial Presidency.

We now live under a system whereby a permanent, barely visible group of security professionals, the career officials who populate the agencies that run the federal government’s vast security apparatus, no matter who is president, completely dominate congress, the judiciary, and the presidency. At a recent CATO Institute forum, Savage and Michael Glennon, professor of international law at the Fletcher School of International Diplomacy, Tufts University discussed Savage’s book, which confirms and extends Glennon’s own findings in his earlier book, National Security and Double Government.  

The Obama administration has pursued a “policy of prosecution that has removed one last check on the permanent security state by crippling investigative journalists in this country, a program that has proceeded with no decision to start it, no decision to continue it, and, of course, no decision to stop it.” The lifeblood of investigative journalists are the whistle blowers willing to risk everything. The Obama administration has targeted them more fiercely than did Bush. The officials who tortured, set up secret prisons, carried out warrantless wiretapping, perjured themselves in sworn testimony to congress, and much else, remain in place. The bulk collections of our phone and e-mail records continue. The military tribunals and the assassination of American citizens, all are in place

The development of this permanent security state from Bush to Obama has shredded what we thought were our fundamental civil liberties. And, as Glennon points out, the process is on auto pilot. It doesn’t matter who’s president. We hope they’re wrong, and that a Democratic president can dial it back. 

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