Where anti-war sentiment did in fact cross over from the ranks of the progressive left and into the mainstream of American society, it was quickly quashed through the dishonest logic that if one truly supported the troops (as most red-blooded Americans swear they do), then one must by extension support the mission. This flawed connectivity empowered Congress to sidestep the issue of withdrawing American forces from Iraq, and enabled it to continue rubber-stamping funding for a war which long ago lost any connection, perceived or otherwise, to the general security of the American people.
And so U.S. service members continue to fight and die in Iraq, a conflict which grows more unpopular with the American people each passing day. The question thus emerges: What is the appropriate response on the part of the American citizenry? While we insulate ourselves from political duplicity, the soldiers ultimately pay the price for the cowardice of those whom we elect to represent us in higher office. This seems to be the path taken by most Americans, who have grown numbly indifferent to the incessant stream of disappointment over the continued failure of Congress to truly represent the will of the people. We have therefore built a wall which separates we the people from the one aspect of republican governance which is, by design, supposed to give us voice.
In doing so, we likewise create a buffer between citizen and soldier, as those who are constitutionally mandated to fund the care, equipping and utilization of the military now operate in ambiguity created by the vacuum of citizen apathy. Thus liberated from the moral compass provided by the people, Congress has lost its ability to defend its own role in governance, and over time has demeaned its constitutional mandate by transferring powers inherent to the legislative branch to an executive branch which has assumed the role of caretaker of the military. By vesting absolute power in the hands of the executive, Congress has all but assured that America has become a nation no longer governed by the rule of law, but rather the rule of man. This sort of tyranny is what Americans fought a revolution to free themselves from 233 years ago.
An executive that operates in accordance with a unitary theory of governance is one that views the capacity to defend the state as being in fact the capacity to defend the realm. As such, one sees a gravitation of emphasis: Rather than focusing on external threats to the collective, the realm becomes obsessed with internal threats to its ability to retain power. The Patriot Act is a clear-cut example of how a unitary executive has undermined and corrupted the legitimate law enforcement mechanisms of the land by vesting the executive with powers normally associated solely with the legislative branch. In this regard, we see the armed forces similarly abused, with the creation of military command structures (namely U.S. Northern Command) which exist not to protect the people, but rather protect the realm from the people. This is not a stated objective, but rather one inferred from the fact that, for the first time since the imposition of posse comitatus in 1876, the United States has positioned its armed forces so that they can participate in normal state law enforcement. In short, instead of serving as a force of protection for the American people from external threats, the military views the American people as the threat, “targets” which need to be investigated as potential threats to the military.
An example of just how far off track the executive branch, facilitated by an all too complicit legislative branch, has strayed when it comes to the common defense is the Pentagon’s controversial Counterintelligence Field Activity, ostensibly created in a post-9/11 world to “... protect the [Defense] department by supporting the detection and neutralization of foreign espionage.” The CFA operates under the umbrella of U.S. Northern Command, created in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks to ostensibly safeguard the American homeland. A major aspect of the CFA’s work is something known as the Joint Protection Enterprise Network, or JPEN.
The JPEN network enables the Defense Department to share unverified information with civilian police departments, the FBI and other government agencies such as the National Security Agency (NSA). Originally dubbed Project Protect America, the JPEN system came into being in July 2003 with the full support of then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The heart and soul of the JPEN system is the “Threat and Local Observation Notice,” or TALON report, the brainchild of then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. In the conduct of its work, the CFA created and distributed thousands of TALON reports via the JPEN system on the activities of private U.S. citizens, with a particular focus of those engaged in anti-war protests.
The CFA is slated in the near future to be morphed into a larger Defense Intelligence Agency-run Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence activity. Far from limiting the scope and scale of the activities currently undertaken by the CFA, this new organization will simply increase the level of illegal and unconstitutional activities currently undertaken by the CFA against the American “target.” The fact that the U.S. military now views the American citizenry as its target, as opposed to the object of its defense, shows just how broken the circle of trust is between citizen and soldier. Additional TALON reports are being assembled on anyone deemed to be a potential threat to the U.S. military, including all who are involved in “counter-recruitment” activities designed to provide alternatives to military service for today’s youths. This myopic approach toward installation and facility security undertaken by the Pentagon is not only intellectually weak but constitutionally prohibited. The legislative branch, operating amid constituent apathy, continues to fail in its mission of upholding the rule of law.
In similarly deplorable fashion, the Pentagon has allowed itself to be hijacked by the radical right wing of the Republican Party. The fact that Fox News has become the channel of choice for the U.S. military speaks volumes about the mind-set which has gripped those who lead it. The military has always been a conservative institution. Yet when wearing the uniform of the United States serves more as a front for defending a political ideology (a rabid one at that) rather than upholding and defending the Constitution, the military does itself a disservice. The disconnect between those who serve in the military and those whom they are sworn to protect can be fatal when one realizes the recruiting pool no longer identifies with the military as a legitimate expression of patriotism and citizenship.