The Rise of the New American Security State
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A newsworthy examination demonstrating that U.S. government secrecy is eroding civil liberties, busting the federal budget, contributing to deaths in unauthorized wars and spreading paranoia among large portions of the citizenry.

Washington Post reporters Priest (The Mission: Waging War and Keeping Peace with America's Military, 2003) and Arkin (Divining Victory: Airpower in the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War, 2007, etc.) published the beginnings of this book as a newspaper series during 2010. The authors are meticulous but angry reporters, openly dismissive of the national-security apparatus begun by the federal and state governments at least 100 years ago, then expanded significantly after 9/11. Although President Obama vowed to curtail the national-security state and overall government secrecy in the wake of the Bush administration, Priest and Arkin demonstrate that the current president has abandoned that vow. They calculate that at least 850,000 individuals inside government and within government contractors have received "top secret" security clearances. Untold hundreds of thousands more individuals are cleared to use and abuse secret but not top-secret information. Priest and Arkin reach the sad but unavoidable conclusion that 9/11, combined with other real and threatened incursions by terrorists, has led to an around-the-clock police state. In addition to compelling anecdotes, the authors cite as examples the regular broadcasts of threat warning levels from the Department of Homeland Security, a culture of fear surrounding discussions of al-Qaeda by politicians and the public and budget-busting measures to protect what is unprotectable or perhaps not even in danger.

A mixture of investigative reporting and advocacy journalism that shines light in dark corners but is ultimately depressing because the authors seem convinced that the paranoia and its dangerous offshoots will never dissipate.

Pub Date: Sept. 6th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-316-18221-8
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2011


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