By now all
reasonable people in the world know that the Bush administration
(with almost no opposition from Democrats) used 9/11 as a pretense
to invade and occupy an oil-rich Middle Eastern country that posed
no threat to America. Even President Bush has admitted in a press
conference that there were never any WMDs in Iraq. But the war has
been very profitable for some, as war always is, as it has drained
American taxpayers of hundreds of billions of dollars. It has also
ballooned the warfare state, the military-industrial complex, and
the conservative anti-civil liberties lobby. (On the day of this
writing the talking heads on the FOX War Channel were all but dancing
in the streets of Manhattan in celebration of a bill passed by the
U.S. Senate the previous evening that would allow for the suspension
of habeas corpus. Can mass burn-the-Constitution rallies, perhaps
organized by Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, be far behind?)
But the state’s
use of this illegitimate war to aggrandize itself goes much, much
farther than this. Those Americans who are still concerned about
the state’s ability to plunder us into poverty and strip us of personal
liberties are extremely fortunate that Professor James Bennett of
George Mason University has stepped up to explain exactly how this
is happening with his new book, Homeland
Security Scams (Transaction Publishers, 2006).
Read this book
and the crassness, dishonesty, and plain chutzpah of the
state in using the "war on terror" as an excuse to pick
your pocket will boggle your mind. The average reader will also
be shocked at the remarkable blueprint for fascism that has been
mapped out for us by our rulers in the post-9/11 world.
very name "Homeland Security" has an obvious echo of "fatherland,"
as Professor Bennett ominously points out. "Americans have
never used the world u2018homeland’ to describe their country"
anywhere and at any time. The very word is un-American and reeks
The major theme
of Homeland Security Scams is stated on page 1:
security is developing into the largest boondoggle in the history
of the U.S. government. Fed by the . . . war on terror, homeland
security is being used as an excuse . . . for a vast expansion
of government power and spending." And the spending usually
has nothing at all to do with "defense" or "security."
"Homeland security is not making us safer: just poorer, less
free, and more dependent on the federal government," Professor
Bennett charges. In the following 217 pages he provides chapter
and verse to prove his point.
is that the word "homeland security" is routinely invoked
to "justify" thousands of pork barrel spending programs
that have nothing to do with safety or security. They are simply
pork. So much money is being drained from the taxpayers’ pockets
under this ruse that governments cannot spend it fast enough. "North
Carolina spent only 30 percent . . . of the federal homeland security
monies it had received in 2004." "Under President Bush,
the Republicans have become the party of Big Government."
has always been a libertarian-minded conservative, and is disgusted
by the descent of formerly like-minded institutions, such as the
Heritage Foundation, into the fascistic abyss of Big Government
neo-conservatism. He writes that the Heritage Foundation was "largely
co-opted by the Reagan administration" in the 1980s and has
been "ever since ensconced firmly in the GOP’s right pocket."
It has "abandoned any . . . interest in restricting leviathan
. . . " (p. 200). The Heritage Foundation’s position papers
in "the age of Bush II" sound the old, leftist themes
of "Spend, spend, spend. Regulate, regulate, regulate."
(This would also seem to have dire implications for the Mont Pelerin
Society, of which Heritage Foundation president Ed Fulner is the
longtime treasurer and board member.)
beneficiaries of all this are "politicians, lobbyists, and
a flourishing homeland security industry." This would also
include, in my opinion, all of the neocon "think tanks,"
magazines, and "scholars" who are paid to provide the
intellectual cover for the scam. The "one constant" that
keeps the racket going is fear. As long as our rulers can
continue to frighten the public with promises of "terror"
their motives and actions will not be questioned by the vast majority
of the public.
of Fatherland (Oops, I mean "Homeland") Security (DHS)
was not simply a response to 9/11. Our rulers had planned for an
Orwellian bureaucracy of that sort years in advance, with the twelve-member
Rudman-Hart Commission, originated under Bill Clinton’s administration.
9/11 provided the perfect excuse. Professor Bennett reveals exactly
how the plot was hatched.
the already gargantuan "internal security" apparatus of
the U.S. government (another phrase that was popular in totalitarian
societies) was a complete and total failure on 9/11 because, says
Professor Bennett, it had been preoccupied for years with the non-threat
of "the bogeymen of the 1990s: militias and other right-wing
populist groups." The so-called militias "made a useful
hate object for upper-middle-class liberals who wished to feel threatened,"
and the FBI, CIA, BATF, and other federal agencies gladly complied.
After all, some of these "militiamen" were alleged tax
gives a detailed explanation of how the Republican Party’s Deep
Thinkers decided that simply renaming several dozen bureaucracies
would somehow make America "safe." That, in essence, is
how the Department of Homeland Security was created – by connecting
"bits and pieces and chunks" of various federal bureaucracies
in an effort "that would make Dr. Frankenstein proud."
And it was a goldmine for every one of these useless, jack-booted
bureaucracies, from the INS to FEMA, the "Federal Protective
Service" and the "Domestic Energy Support Teams."
The claim that they are now "fighting terrorism" is all
they needed to get Congress to increase their budgets seemingly
of the DHS really is eerily reminiscent of Nazi Germany. Its web
site claims that its mission is "securing the homeland,"
a "locution so foreign to Americans as to bring a shudder to
the spine." Another slogan is "Preserving our freedoms,
protecting America . . . we secure our homeland." One can just
imagine that there must be a continual showing of the movie "Triumph
of the Will" playing 24 hours a day at DHS headquarters.
Among the more
insidious effects of the state’s response to 9/11, writes Professor
Bennett, is a massive miseducation of the American public about
the true nature of bureaucrats and bureaucracy. "Gone forever
[is] the invidious caricature of the pencil-pushing, clock-watching
goldbricker: the federal employee of the twenty-first century [is]
a cocky, can-do Tom Cruise, a perky and feisty Sandra Bullock."
Since 9/11 "every police officer and fire fighter is a saint;
soldiers are selfless heroes u2018fighting for our freedom'; CIA agents
are sexy glamorous, and deeply ethical; even George W. Bush is a
steely-eyed missile man, in the old Mercury Seven astronaut term
You know the
pork barrel is massive when "Thirteen committees and sixty
subcommittees of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have
jurisdiction over . . . the DHS." Every member of Congress
wants to be on a committee or subcommittee that can distribute pork
to his or her constituents and campaign contributors under the phony
guise of "homeland security."
State and local
police and fire departments are also being slowly nationalized thanks
to DHS pork, for with federal money comes federal controls. Conservatives
used to fear the federalization of law enforcement, Professor Bennett
points out, but now they champion it. Former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge
once boasted that his department had "redefined a new federalism"
when in fact it "is destroying true federalism" by increasingly
taking over local law enforcement. His "strategy" was
"to view federal, state, and local governments as one entity"
(again reminiscent of Nazi Germany, where all governmental powers
were centralized and under the direction of a dictator with no constitutional
limits on his authority).
As for the
pork, a few examples will give you the flavor of how out-of-control
it has become:
- Boeing was
given a five-year, $1.37 billion contract to equip U.S. airports
with "bomb screening devices" that experts say are "laughingly
Grumman "landed a $350 million contract to construct a DHS
training facilities are springing up like toadstools after a rainstorm.
The Nevada Test Site . . . which trains 3,000 fire fighters, paramedics,
and policemen annually, is slated to quintuple that number as
the DHS money rolls in."
- The new
Hampshire town of Bennington, population 1, 272, spent part of
its Homeland Security grant to buy chemical weapons suits –
just in case bin Laden chose Bennington as his next maximum impact
- Local police
departments in New Hampshire will get access to "satellite
television channels that transmit continuous news," courtesy
of a DHS grant.
Vermont, population 18,000, received a DHS grant to purchase a
"search-and-rescue vehicle" that "can bore through
concrete and search for victims in collapsed buildings."
- Thanks to
the influence of Dick Cheney, "Wyoming receives more money
per capita than any other state in homeland security grants."
- And naturally,
"a non-state – the District of Columbia – is
far and away the biggest recipient of homeland security grants
per capita," receiving more than twice as much as Dick Cheney’s
- Citgo, Conoco-Phillips,
and Shell received tens of millions of dollars in DHS grants for
"refiner security," something they are very well equipped
to finance themselves.
- The former
mayor of Washington, D.C., Sharon Pratt, received a no-bid "bioterrorism
consulting contract" for $236,000.
- Forty "young
people" in Washington, D.C. were paid by a DHS grant to "rap
and dance about emergency preparedness."
As part of
its nonstop assault on civil liberties the DHS employs an "entertainment
liaison" whose job is to try to "shape the political content
of films" made in Hollywood. Its "Computer Assisted Passenger
Prescreening System II" would "for the first time put
the government in the business of conducting regular background
checks on everyday citizens."
PATRIOT Act is expertly dissected by Professor Bennett, and its
entrails are revealed to be poisonous to personal liberty in American,
patently unpatriotic, and useless in "fighting terrorism."
This totalitarian legislation eviscerates the Fourth Amendment by
permitting "sneak and peak" searches, without a warrant,
of email, homes, offices, libraries, and internet records. Warrant-less
searches have routinely been made by armed federal agents;
and even the attorney-client privilege has been trashed by the Bush
administration. The CIA has been given expanded powers to spy on
ordinary American citizens and the GOP’s fascistic "internal
security" bureaucracies "reach into banking, business,
educational, and financial records" in an unprecedented way.
The FBI has even been empowered "to force librarians to reveal
the borrowing habits of patrons . . ."
any act of civil disobedience could be construed to violate the
law" under the laughingly-named PATRIOT Act. This is just a
small sampling of how Big Government Conservatives are hard at work
destroying American liberty while the "liberal opposition"
stands idly by like so many political eunuchs.
revealing the shocking degree to which the state has used the excuse
of 9/11 to wage "war" on the American public by picking
its pockets and destroying its liberties, Homeland Security Scams
also provides definitive proof that the conservative movement no
longer has any interest whatsoever in limited government –
if it ever did. "The Heritage Beltway Right has gone over almost
completely to the statist side," Professor Bennett laments
in his concluding chapter.
I’m not so sure they were not always on that side. After
all, it was "Mr. Conservative," William F. Buckley, Jr.,
who announced in the 1950s, shortly after the founding of National
Review, that what was needed to fight the Cold War was a "totalitarian
bureaucracy within our shores" complete with high taxes, a
giant military-industrial complex, expansive powers granted to the
CIA and FBI, and the subsequent loss of freedoms that all of that
would entail. With the exception of a dozen or so libertarians who
influenced parts of the Reagan administration in its first two years
(after which they became irrelevant), this statist vision has been
the defining characteristic of "conservatism" in America
for at least the past half century.
J. DiLorenzo [send him mail]
is professor of economics at Loyola College in Maryland and the
author of The
Real Lincoln; Lincoln
Unmasked: What You're Not Supposed To Know about Dishonest Abe
Capitalism Saved America. His latest book is Hamilton's
Curse: How Jefferson's Archenemy Betrayed the American Revolution
— And What It Means for America Today.