100% Scared: How the National Security Complex Grows on Terrorism Fears
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The National Security Complex has, in fact, grown fat by relentlessly pursuing the promise of making the country totally secure from terrorism, even as life grows ever less secure for so many Americans when it comes to jobs, homes, finances, and other crucial matters. It is on this pledge of protection that the Complex has managed to extort the tidal flow of funds that have allowed it to bloat to monumental proportions, end up with a yearly national security budget of more than $1.2 trillion, find itself encased in a cocoon of self-protective secrecy, and be 100% assured that its officials will never be brought to justice for any potential crimes they may commit in their “war” on terrorism.
Right now, even in the worst of economic times, the Department of Homeland Security, the Pentagon, and the sprawling labyrinth of competing bureaucracies that likes to call itself the U.S. Intelligence Community are all still expanding. And around them have grown up, or grown ever stronger, various complexes (à la "military-industrial complex") with their associated lobbyists, allied former politicians, and retired national security state officials, as well as retired generals and admirals, in an atmosphere that, since 2001, can only be described as boomtown-like, the modern equivalent of a gold rush.
Think of it this way: in the days after 9/11, Vice President Cheney proposed a new formula for American war policy. Its essence was this: even a 1% chance of an attack on the United States, especially involving weapons of mass destruction, must be dealt with as if it were a certainty. Journalist Ron Suskind dubbed it “the one percent doctrine.” It may have been the rashest formula for "preventive" or "aggressive" war offered in the modern era and, along with the drumbeat of bogus information that Cheney and crew dished out about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, it was the basis for the Bush administration’s disastrous attempt to occupy that country and build a Pax Americana in the Greater Middle East.
There was, it turns out, a “homeland” equivalent, never quite formulated or given a name, but remarkably successful nonetheless at feeding an increasingly all-encompassing domestic war state. Call it the 100% doctrine (for total safety from terrorism). While the 1% version never quite caught on, the 100% doctrine has already become part of the American credo.
Thanks to it, the National Security Complex of 2011 is a self-reinforcing, self-perpetuating mechanism. Any potential act of terrorism simply feeds the system, creating new opportunities to add yet more layers to one bureaucracy or another, or to promote new programs of surveillance, control, and war-making -- and the technology that goes with them. Every minor deviation from terror safety, even involving plots that failed dismally or never had the slightest chance of success, is but an excuse for further funding.
Meanwhile, the Complex continually “mans up” (or drones up) and, from Pakistan to Yemen, launches attacks officially meant to put terrorists out of action, but that have the effect of creating them in the process. In other words, consider it a terrorist-creating machine that needs -- what else? -- repeated evidence of or signs of terrorism to survive and thrive.
Though few here seem to notice, none of this bears much relationship to actual American security. But if the National Security Complex doesn’t make you secure, its 100% doctrine is by no means a failure. On the basis of ensuring your security from terror, it has managed to make itself secure from bad times, the dangers of downsizing, job loss, most forms of accountability, or prosecution for acts that once would have been considered crimes.