By John Stanton
John Stanton is a Virginia-based writer specializing in national security matters
The frightful Department of Homeland Security currently promoted by the Bush Regime and its disciples, and recent converts, has its genesis in defense and security study "think tanks" in Washington, DC. These groups wield enormous influence on local, state and national policy and arguably constitute the real shadow government of the United States. Eliminate the US Congress, Presidency and Supreme Court, and the three branches of government could just as well be the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the ANSER Institute for Homeland Security and the Center for Security Policy. Add the Institute for Defense Analysis as a place for the "nonprofit" government to hold "classified" meetings and most Americans would probably not notice any substantial difference.
These defense and security nonprofits - far removed from any public accountability - serve as a carving knife used by the most callous of interests in and out of government to slice away at the public good. Whether it's to pocket some hard cash for missile defense, get a piece of the Homeland Security action, fix a troublesome regulation that penalizes government contractors for providing poor working conditions, rid the world of that pesky rule that cuts into executive compensation, or promote an outdated weapons system, the nonprofits stand ready to undertake these actions not only because it makes "good business sense" but because their operatives take a patriotic view of the "bottom line".
Defense and security nonprofit organizations house former elite US civilian and military officials---always a short step away from return to government service and available for consulting fees--many whose worldview closely approximates those of the character General Jack Ripper in Stanley Kubrick's famed classic Dr. Strangelove. Obsessed about the "purity" of America's vital essence, Ripper launches an unauthorized nuclear attack on the "godless commies" in the USSR and seeks to rid the world of the "commie bastards" and, in the process of the retaliation that's sure to follow, cleanse the United States of its "impurities" and reboot the country the white and right way. Such a mentality is likely to dominate the impending 170,000 employee internal security apparatus known as the U.S. Homeland Security Department. Union and whistleblower averse, all U.S. citizens, all certified "grade A" loyal by the loyalty police, all "pure in essence", mostly white, mostly jingoistic, all ready to report "adverse" information on their fellow employees and citizens to the appropriate taskmaster.
Clues as to who will run America's Gestapo agency and their thought processes can be gleaned from the operations and staff of organizations such as Anser's Homeland Security group, the Institute for Defense Analysis, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the Center for Security Policy. These "Institutes", "Centers" or "Foundations" operate under an Internal Revenue Service 501 c (3) designation which means they are "charitable, non-profit, non-partisan and educational"--it also means they carry the .ORG tag. While the IRS regulations state clearly that "a § 501(c)(3) organization may not engage in carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities, and must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests, or persons controlled directly or indirectly by such private interests", the reality is that these shadowy organizations are powerful interest groups who are ultimately funded by taxpayer dollars awarded in the form of government contracts, grants and sponsorships.
Some of them like the Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA) hold Secret or above facility clearances which means that they are authorized by the US government to hold US government classified meetings. According to IDA's website, "The work often requires privileged access to sensitive information, including highly classified and industry proprietary data not normally available to non-government organizations." How very convenient and very much out of the public eye. Funded by US government agencies such as the Department of Defense, federal employees (often through membership and meeting fees), and corporate donors who live off of federal largesse, the nonprofits are adept at pushing their member's or meeting attendee's interests in the halls of Congress and within Federal agencies. Many Americans would perhaps be surprised to learn that the bulk of what is presented via the media as novel presidential and congressional "thinking" for policy, budgets, proposals, speeches, and legislation all derive from the analysis and proposals of nonprofit think tanks. Nowhere is that more evident than in the defense and security nonprofit arena.
A personal visit by a senior nonprofit official--normally a retired US military officer or former high ranking civilian official--to "educate" the uneducated active duty general, admiral, undersecretary or congressman are little more than lobbying efforts on behalf of the private and self interests that the nonprofit represents. And the vanguard of the defense and security nonprofits have a virtual Who's Who of heavyweight retired US military and former high ranking civilians on their governing and advisory Boards who can ratchet up the political and budgetary pressure on a defense program manager, senator or congressman. One of the more insidious and accepted practices involving defense and security nonprofits is the use of these organizations retired military and civilian staff by active US government officials in the advancement of their own internal government programs and agendas, often enlisting nonprofits in public education campaigns. Frank "missile defense" Gaffney's Center for Security Policy is a case in point. That group also serves the nefarious interests of conservative militants in the US government like Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle. Indeed, Richard Perle is still listed as an active member of the Center's National Security Advisory Council as is missile defense maven and elected official US Congressman Kurt Weldon.
Through it's many advisors and Board members, the Center, like all defense and security nonprofits, have links to the key players in and out of the US government, the defense and security industry, and at other like minded nonprofits. IDA's president and CEO is everyone's favorite Defense Board chairman, retired USAF General Larry Welch. On IDA's Board of Trustees is Robert Prestel, former deputy director of the US National Security Agency, along with the president and CEO of the Army Association of the United States, a former US Secretary of the Air Force, and a former US Deputy Defense Secretary, among others.
ANSER's Institute for Homeland Security's Board of Advisors includes John Hamre, former US Deputy Undersecretary of Defense, who just happens to be the President and CEO of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Also on ANSER's Board is the current chairman of the US Army Science Board and a retired US Navy Admiral. With the director of ANSER's Institute a former USAF officer, all US armed service branches can be effectively lobbied for business by "one of their own kind who served".
Way back in December of 2000, CSIS was one of the first out of the starting gate to propose the creation of a Department of Homeland Security in its Homeland Defense: A Strategic Approach. The 2002 Homeland Security Department proposal sent to the US Congress by the current regime is based almost entirely on CSIS's proposals. Why so much influence from this particular 501 c (3) that has a paltry operating budget of US $17.5 million? CSIS boasts on its Board and Advisory Board former US Defense Secretaries William Cohen and Harold Brown, former Senator Sam Nunn, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, retired USAF General Brent Scowcroft, and former DCI James Woolsey, among other US military and civilian "retirees". Also on the CSIS staff are six Military Fellows representing the US Coast Guard, Marines, Air Force, Army and Navy.
You'll Sleep Better at Night
The grunts who churn out reports and are the advance teams in these powerful nonprofits are made up of those who never quite made it up the military chain of command or never got the hot political appointment. These intellectual and power broker wannabe's are culled from the mid-ranks of government, military, industry and academia. Attend a high level briefing with these folks and, for the most part, survey-shows they are white, aging, paranoid and believe that the 1950's was the greatest decade in memory gleefully ignoring the wretchedness of those years. They deplore the browning of America, despise the Pakistani running the local 7-11 or McDonald's, bemoan the presence of Chinese and Indian students at US universities, and worry when African American's or Latino's move into the neighborhood. They still opine on welfare mothers and how Unions have destroyed American economic competitiveness. They are quick to remind the listener that America rebuilt Europe and Japan, but claim "that's different" when posed with the question, Why not Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Afghanistan, Chile, Nicaragua, Cuba.? In short, they are just a few brain cells removed from being whole-hearted supporters of the Ku Klux Klan and the Aryan Nation.
As reported by Counterpunch, Tom Ridge, apparently one of the folks fitting the description above, and current Homeland Security Czar (with an unsettling resemblance to Fox's Simpson cartoon character Chief Wiggam)--recently telegraphed what Homeland Security's more sinister functions may become. One of them is Union busting. Ridge made a telephone call to the International Longshoremen Workers Union warning them that any large scale strike contemplated against Pacific Maritime will be viewed as a threat to national security. A veiled threat of police action and subsequent arrest if there ever was one. Finally, Counterpunch reported that a Phoenix Project (an assassination program in Vietnam) operative, Major General Bruce Lawlor (USA), will play a key role in US Homeland Security prevention and protection.
And so it's just these type of folks who will be recruited for and make up the US Department of Homeland Security and its affiliates at the state and local levels. The prospect of a national internal security agency staffed by such people should be the stuff a national debate. But with the US misinformation campaign on Iraq in full-gear and 911's anniversary sure to stifle needed debate, you can bet your last George Washington that one of the big ticket lines in Bush II's next State-of-the-Union address will be, "America is safer thanks to the creation of the Department of Homeland Security."