“Credible, But Unconfirmed” How you should learn to keep worrying, and love the Police State

September 10, 2011 in News

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Photo by Getty Images, Justin Sullivan

On the tenth anniversary of 9-11, we are reminded by our government, through the media as its megaphone, of the need for a militarized police force around every corner – after all, in case you’ve forgotten, we live in a very dangerous world.  On Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security announced it had information on a “specific, credible, but unconfirmed” terrorist plot to be carried out on the anniversary of 9-11 in either New York City or Washington, D.C.

As reported by The New York Post, the details of the threat include Ayman al-Zawahiri, the presumed new leader of Al-Qaeda, conspiring with the Taliban to transport three unnamed individuals of Arab descent (including an American citizen) from Pakistan into the United States, in an attempt to carry out car bomb attacks on “targets of opportunity”.  The tip, however, was received “second-hand”, which is why it remains “unconfirmed”.  White House spokesman, Jay Carney, went on to say that the tip received by US intelligence is “not corroborated and not confirmed”.

Given the timing of threat, this second hand, unconfirmed tip is enough to place NYC and DC on high alert – as local officials unleash the full might of their police and surveillance arsenal.  Policemen dressed and suited for battle, march the streets of the city brandishing armor and weaponry as if geared for combat in Iraq or Afghanistan.  Since 2001, we have become gradually more accustomed to the sight of militarized police, either in person in the big cities or through images in the media.  So much so, in fact, that when New York City announces it has its own army, tanks, navy or even a submarine, to combat would-be terrorists, the news is met with little surprise.

In the days leading up to the anniversary, every major network, cable or satellite news and information station in the United States aired its own version of the same basic narrative – a reminder of the murder of over 3,000 people, the horror endured by their families, and the collective shock of a nation.

For many viewers, these images will serve to reinforce the justification for increased militarism both overseas and at home.  They will wash over those feelings of unease at the sight of police with assault rifles – the anxiety of the possibility of search and seizure without probable cause.  After all, the “cause” is evident in the destruction seen at Ground Zero, and the “probability” is greater than ever.

However, for others, it will have a much different effect.  It will remind them of the time when our country seemed to be at its most vulnerable – a time when a great deal of political clout was ceded to our leaders in government.  It will remind them of how a national tragedy was exploited politically and used to push forth a prepackaged agenda, to reestablish America’s global dominance militarily in the Middle East and enhance domestic control through legislation like the Patriot Act.

While the increase in domestic surveillance and the use of police as soldiers predate 9-11, there is no doubt that the events of that fateful day have been used to fast-track these activities.  Terrorism, and specifically 9-11, has been used not only to validate increases in technological surveillance and physical searches by all the 3-letter agencies, but also the creation of new Orwellian like programs such as “See Something, Say Something” which encourages citizens to report the suspicious behavior of their neighbors.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to observe the circumstances around us, such as the latest “credible, but unconfirmed” terror threat and ensuing response, and not face up to what it truly is – the rise of the modern police state.

Those who remain incredulous must remind themselves that police states do not announce themselves outright.  They do not send out press releases of their arrival.  They don’t come out of nowhere, or appear over night.  They are indeed created, and even nurtured, over time – and generally, welcomed by the affected public.  In periods of great fear and anxiety, police states are the norm – the remedy for the times.  They become the answer to unanswerable questions, a cure for an incurable human weakness – the fear of the unknown.

Those who recognize and challenge it for what it is are then shunned and scorned – outcasts in an uber-nationalistic fervor.  To fit in, both socially and politically, you must learn to do as Winston does in George Orwell’s prophetic novel 1984 – learn to quietly accept the world around you – and in the end, learn to love the police state.