Image: 44th President B. Hussein Obama pushed “homeland security” over reach farther than any president in American history. Under the Obama approach, unlimited government spending on homeland security became the paradigm at all levels of government. Just recently, that paradigm has infected the Montgomery County government. The National Security Agency just stopped its domestic spying program during the last three weeks after conservative civil rights groups complained about the practice which Edward Snowden had disclosed.
Conroe, July 14 (Bastille Day) – Jennifer Robin (District Judge of the 410th District Court) and Phil Grant (District Judge of the 9th District Court) are two of the most thoughtful, intelligent, and hardworking public servants in all of Texas. They, more than anyone else, should read this article, because they are members of the Montgomery County Court Security Committee.
Citizens are beginning to confront government’s “homeland security” over reach in the United States in the year 2018. In response to an article which this newspaper published on Wednesday, July 11, numerous citizens spoke up on social media and elsewhere that government reaction to so-called homeland security concerns has become more than problematic. It has become a problem of government overspending and a problem of reduction of liberty to an unacceptable degree. Please see “Montgomery County District Judge Robin’s Letter Raises Issues Of Balance Between Additional Courthouse Security And Government Financial Restraint,” The Golden Hammer, July 11, 2018.
What is the best method of counter-terrorism? (It’s counterintuitive)
What is the best method of counter-terrorism, of achieving homeland security? Switzerland doesn’t have much of a homeland security problem, but why is that?
One of the great books of the past two decades was a brief text, How the Weak Win Wars: A Theory of Asymmetric Conflict, by Ivan Arreguin-Toft. Arreguin-Toft studied warfare between large forces and weak ones and came to the conclusion that large forces only defeat weak ones when they fight unconventionally. That theory has become the hallmark of the United States military’s counterinsurgency strategy of which General David Petraeus was the primary author.
Arreguin-Toft and others have shown that unconventional warfare comes in many forms. The most prominent method of unconventional warfare is, of course, propaganda warfare. One of the most prominent examples of successful propaganda warfare was the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War. The Tet Offensive began on January 30, 1968, by the Viet Cong and the People’s Army of Vietnam (NVA), the Communists fighting against South Vietnam and the United States. Ho Chi Minh, the North Vietnamese leader, realized that his forces could never defeat the gigantic forces of the United States. He had already taken the conflict to unconventional warfare with great success, although there were Americans, such as Air Force Lieutenant Colonel John Boyd, who returned Ho’s unconventional methods with unconventional methods of their own.
The Tet Offensive took the Vietnam War to an entirely different level of conflict. Ho knew that an offensive against the South would ultimately result in defeat for his troops. He pressed forward anyway. Tactically, the Tet Offensive (beginning during the Tet holiday in Vietnam) resulted in some of the worst carnage during the war. The Battle of Hue in March, 1968, was one of the bloodiest battles. The South Vietnamese and American forces ultimately defeated the Communists militarily. So who won the Tet Offensive? Without question, the Communists.
Why? Because, by 1968, Americans had begun to believe that they had finally defeated North Vietnam as did the rest of the western powers. By mounting a fierce offensive, Ho brought the Vietnam War to the television sets of every American family with the significant message that the NVA and Viet Cong would never give up until they had defeated the South and reunited Vietnam under Communist rule. The propaganda impact of Tet was devastating to the American leadership and to the South Vietnamese leaders as well. President Lyndon Johnson knew that the impact of Tet had destroyed his chances of re-election to an office that he didn’t enjoy holding at that point, so he announced that he wouldn’t run. The entire Vietnam War turned on an offensive strategy that Ho knew he wouldn’t win militarily even before he began.
The United States had another enemy who, unfortunately, had learned his lessons about unconventional warfare from history and also from some excellent training he had received from the superb men and women of the United States Central Intelligence Agency. That enemy, who had learned from us, was none other than Osama bin Laden. In the 9/11 attacks, bin Laden’s entire purpose was to disrupt the American way of life in retaliation for what he perceived as American disruption of Islam by American basing policies in the Middle East in general and in Saudia Arabia in particular.
Even after the United States removed bin Laden’s allies, the Taliban in Afghanistan, and even after the United States killed bin Laden himself, there was a clear winner in the warfare between bin Laden’s al Qaeda and the United States. That winner was al Qaeda.
Since 9/11, look at what has happened in the United States. We have completed disrupted our own air travel. Families can no longer take their loved ones to the gates at airports to send them off. Americans suffer hours of security lines and other disruptions for “homeland security” reasons. The United States has spent hundreds of billions of dollars in American taxes to pay for those security measures. The United States Capitol is no longer a place where Americans can look around and interact with their elected servants. Rather, the Capitol is a museum with long security lines, carefully-restricted places to which the police have restricted citizen movement, and no interaction whatsoever with the representatives who are to represent us.
At the state and local levels of government, Americans have spent trillions of dollars on homeland security measures. “Homeland security” has become the catch-phrase for justifying almost any level of expenditure of money while pandering to American fears of the potential loss of human lives.
The Montgomery County example
Montgomery County, Texas, has become a prime example of the negative impact of the phrase “homeland security.”
Montgomery County citizens can’t get information about the operations of the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA). In September, 2017, SJRA issued a press release bragging about their completed engineering studies which somehow assisted SJRA in preventing flooding downstream from the Lake Conroe Dam. SJRA issued the press release in response to citizens and officials in the Kingwood and Lake Houston areas who complained about SJRA’s major release of water on August 31, 2018, which ultimately flooded thousands of homes downstream. Nevertheless, an interesting thing happened when citizens began to ask SJRA to see the engineering studies about which SJRA had publicly bragged. SJRA refused to disclose those studies about which they spoken in the most public of fashions by hiding behind the “homeland security” exception to the Texas Public Information Act/Open Records Act. Worse yet, Attorney General Ken Paxton deferred to SJRA to allow the bureaucratic agency to determine for itself what was subject to the need for “homeland security.”
“Homeland security” has become a way for government to shield information, even when it uses that same information as a public propaganda sword.
Let’s be clear. There are certainly security measures that are eminently justifiable. During his presentation to the Citizens Budget Committee, Sheriff Rand Henderson made an excellent case for additional security measures in the Montgomery County Courthouse buildings. Nevertheless, Sheriff Henderson, a student of the economic philosophy of Max Weber, has made clear that he believes there are limits to the justifiable level of expenditures and loss of freedom to security and “homeland security” measures. Wanting to preserve freedom and the public fisc, Henderson limited his recommendations.
On June 28, 2018, however, the Montgomery County Court Security Committee issued a letter with a laundry list of spending proposals for which even the Committee admitted “The Committee acknowledges that cumulatively these requests may seem costly at first glance. However, the Committee reminds this Honorable Commissioners Court that the cost of human lives is far greater than the cost of these modifications, and that failing to make these recommended changes exposes this county to millions of dollars in potential liability in the event of an otherwise preventable attack.”
That quote from the Committee has frightening potential. Is there no limit to spending? Is there no limit to the loss of freedom that bin Laden has imposed upon American civilization? Is there no point at which Americans should step back and re-assert American idealism rather than “homeland security” as the predominant value of our age?