POLICE STATE USA: The Paranoid Style of American Governance
Prof. James F. Tracy
"In recent years, we have seen angry minds at work, mainly among extreme right-wingers, who have now demonstrated, in the Goldwater movement, how much political leverage can be got out of the animosities and passions of a small minority. But, behind this, I believe, there is a style of mind that is far from new, and that is not necessarily right-wing. I call it the paranoid style, simply because no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind." (emphasis added)
Americans typically comfort themselves in the notion that they live in a democracy, with a government that is rational, responsible, and accommodative of their needs. Yet what if the government Americans look to for protection of personal property, the creation and enforcement of fair and just laws, and defense of the nation's borders and interests abroad exhibits the paranoia Hofstadter attributed to John Birchers and Goldwater supporters, complete with deep suspicions and conspiratorial fantasies toward those it is supposed to serve and protect?
Gave president power to apprehend and deport resident aliens if their home countries were at war with the United States of America. With no sunset provision, act is intact today as 50 U.S.C. §§ 21–24.
Made it a crime to publish "false, scandalous, and malicious writing" against the government or certain officials. Enacted July 14, 1798, with expiration date of March 3, 1801 (the day before John Adams' presidential term was to end).
Made it a crime to interfere with the war effort or with military recruitment or to attempt to aid a nation at war with the US.
Extended Espionage Act of 1917 to cover a broader range of offenses, notably speech and the expression of opinion that cast the government or the war effort in a negative light or interfered with the sale of government bonds.
Authorized internment of tens of thousands of American citizens of Japanese ancestry and resident aliens from Japan. Also authorized transporting these citizens to assembly centers hastily set up and governed by the militaries of California, Arizona, Washington state, and Oregon. EO 9066 was combined with other war-time orders and restrictions to smaller numbers of residents of the United States who were of Italian or German descent.
General plan by the US military to respond to major domestic civil disturbances within the US by suspending US Constitution and declaring martial law. Developed in response to the civil disorders of the 1960s and now would be carried out by U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM).
Allows US government to use evidence from secret sources in deportation proceedings for aliens suspected of terrorist involvement. Deportee would not have right to face accusers. Makes an individual liable for contributing to an organization deemed by US President to be involved in terrorism, even if donation was for a non-terrorist activity.
US government may confiscate or freeze all foreign and domestic assets of any individual, entity, or organization accused of engaging in, planning, supporting, concealing, or perpetrating any act considered domestic or international terrorism against America.
DHS establishes Fusion Centers, defined as a “collaborative effort of two or more Federal, State, local, or tribal government agencies that combines resources, expertise, and information with the goal of maximizing the ability of such agencies to detect, prevent, investigate, apprehend, and respond to criminal and terrorist activity.” "Fusion" also refers to data mining of multiple sources of information on citizens who may pose "terrorist threat". There are presently 58 such centers operating throughout US.
Coordination of United States federal government with regional and local authorities in three core areas: (1) enhancing engagement with and support to local communities that may be targeted by violent extremists; (2) building government and law enforcement expertise for preventing violent extremism; and (3) countering violent extremist propaganda while promoting US ideals.
FBI and DOJ campaign to enlist workers in 25 industries to spy on fellow workers and citizens and report findings to federal authorities. Citizen spies being recruited from hotel and motel personnel, dive shop operators, car and property rental agents, tattoo parlors employees, gun dealers and Internet cafe clerks.
The DHS signs off on “indefinite delivery” for nearly 500 million high-power ammunition for .40 caliber firearms from defense contractors ATK. Department says it expects to continue receiving shipments from the manufacturer for the next five years.
James F. Tracy is Associate Professor of Media Studies at Florida Atlantic University.