Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Democracy Versus the National Security State

Last Friday, Obama gave a speech on the NSA and a full-throated defense of the surveillance state. The cover story of the current edition of the establishment center-left magazine The New Republic is a full-throated defense of the surveillance state by a good friend of the Clintons. And today, we are celebrating the legacy of a civil rights leader who, like others in the civil rights movement, was subject to an obsessive surveillance campaign by FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover.

What a great time to talk about the relationship of democracy to the national security state!

The other day, I was reminded of an article a friend of mine read amidst her Ph.D. research and then sent to me. The article--"Democracy Versus the National Security State" by Marcus Raskin--was written in 1976 during the investigations of the Church Committee. It remains just as relevant today.
Marcus Raskin is the co-founder of the progressive think tank the Institute of Policy Studies. In the early 1960s, he was an assistant on national security affairs and disarmament to McGeorge Bundy, Kennedy's National Security Advisor. Because of his opposition to the escalation of the Vietnam War, Raskin was reassigned to the Bureau of the Budget. In 1963, he and Richard Barnet, a State Department official in the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, left their positions in the government to form a think tank that would critique official government policy--IPS.

In the aforementioned article, Raskin argues that the national security state that had emerged in the postwar/Cold War era States was a “constitutional deformation which menaces the freedom and well-being of its citizenry, and which poses a danger to world civilization.” The article, published in Law and Contemporary Problems (40, No. 3, 189-220), called on the legal profession to take on that deformation and to push for a democratic, deliberative, peaceful, and just society.

Read the rest here.

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