By C.L. Harmon
The SD organization in Nazi Germany was the country’s intelligence and security branch. Heinrich Himmler, the most feared man in Nazi Germany next to Hitler, described the SD’s function as this: “The SD will discover the enemies of the National Socialist concepts and it will initiate counter-measures through the official police authorities.” It’s interesting that if we replace “National Socialist” with the word Democratic then this very sentiment has become acceptable reasoning in the US and many other countries around the world in their plight to fight terrorism. I should note that the SD was deemed an illegal organization by the judges of the Nuremberg Trials where high ranking Nazi officials were tried and convicted for crimes against humanity following WWII.
The Mission Statement for Homeland Security reads: “Missions include preventing terrorism and enhancing security; managing our borders; administering immigration laws; securing cyberspace; and ensuring disaster resilience.” Since Homeland Security was brought about as a direct result of an act of terrorism, according to its website, I thought it might be interesting to look back at another act of terrorism in history and see what was done to combat it and the consequences that followed regarding what was done. Hitler used the 1933 burning of the Reichstag. (Parliament) building, what he considered an act of terrorism against the “Fatherland” by a deranged Dutchman, to declare a “war on terrorism.”
“You are now witnessing the beginning of a great epoch in history,” he proclaimed, standing in front of the burned-out building, surrounded by national media. Does this remind us of George Bush standing at ground zero on September 14, 2001? “This fire,” Hitler said, “is the beginning.” He used the occasion to declare an all-out war on terrorism and its ideological sponsors, a people, he said, who traced their origins to the Middle East and found motivation for their “evil” deeds in their religion.
Does this not sound familiar with our current enemies of terrorism? Within a year of that terrorist attack, Hitler coordinated the administration necessary to deal with the terrorist threat facing the nation, including those citizens who were of Middle Eastern ancestry and thus probably terrorist sympathizers in his opinion. He proposed a single new national agency to protect the security of the Fatherland, consolidating the actions of dozens of previously independent police, border, and investigative agencies under a single powerful leadership. This would become the SS organization of the Nazi regime under the control of Himmler.
Now the US Department of Homeland Security does not control all of the policing agencies, but it does have a good start. The Secretary of Homeland Security leads the third largest Department of the U.S. government, with a workforce of 229,000 employees and 22 components including TSA, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, FEMA, the Coast Guard, and the Secret Service.
What needs to be recognized most I feel when we look at the actions of the past is the difference between fear and reasonable national security and which one that we actually have. Are the same actions today repeating themselves from Nazi Germany? Is what we currently possess freedom or fascism in sheep’s clothing? Should we be concerned that each of us are searched and questioned at our airports? Does this not conjure up the scenes of Nazi check points in WWII movies?
Each nation’s people and government have a responsibility to protect citizens. However, it does not have a right to trade its people’s civil liberties in its efforts to bring about that protection. Especially in the manner in which Hitler did. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides, “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Is the Constitution of the United States still the governing doctrine of this land from which all other laws are built upon? If so, when did it become acceptable to ignore this doctrine and under whose authority?
So this begs the question, how does travelling on an airplane justify probable cause to be searched and then to have a bottle of shampoo or water confiscated? We are not free if we are under guard but only free if we are guarded against those who deprive us of our liberties. Liberty is defined by the dictionary as the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views. So with this in mind, it simply boils down to the question of what is most important to us. Is having liberty more or less important than the belief in protection we have by depriving us of liberty?
Following the 9/11 attacks, President George Bush said’ “Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.” But is this what happened? Is it not apparent that change has not only come about, but done so in a very intrusive manner as is apparent each time we venture through airport security?
What about the belief that we are being watched through electronic surveillance? Is it real? Surveillance agencies, such as the DHS and the position of Director of National Intelligence have exponentially escalated mass surveillance since 2001. A series of media reports in 2013 revealed programs and techniques employed by the US intelligence community using advances in computer and information technology to allow the creation of huge national databases that facilitate mass surveillance in the United States by DHS managed Fusion centers, the CIA’s Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TTIC) program, and the FBI’s TSDB.
Being watched and searched without our consent is simply the absence of freedom, not the protection of it. Freedom is taken from countless people because they allow it to be taken. Hitler initiated his war on terrorism and used the cause of protection for the people to garner its support. However, he did not ask the people if they even wanted his idea of protection or offer to divulge what such protection would cost to millions of people who committed no crimes. Freedom is seldom lost in the actions of battle, but almost always taken by the lack of action from those who believe their right to freedom it is not their battle to fight.