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Homeland Security: The Sworn Duty of Public Officials

Homeland Security: The Sworn Duty of Public Officials     The United States has a unique position amongst the countries of the world;...

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

So what happens when security needs are valued over the needs of liberty?

“And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family?
 Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?... The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If...if...We didn't love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation.... We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.” -- Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn Quotes (Author of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich)

Monday, July 11, 2016

Removing Some Data from Zotero

I will be removing some data from my Zotero database regarding privacy methods that can be used for criminal activity.

On one hand, I included the material for the sake of completeness.  However, at the same time, the misfeasance (if not malfeasance) of the security community in ignoring identified terror threats (Tsarnaevs, Mateen, Hasan, etc) while using illegal and ineffective bulk collection methods against the public at large led me to include the methods in place for privacy's sake.

I have long believed that the privacy versus security balance in this country is far out of whack.

I have been reexamining the relationship between cybercrime and terror financing, and have decided to go ahead and remove some of the material I consider to be the most dangerous.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Break, with some rent-seeking reading.

Sorry for the delay in posting; I have been working on a book, and I keep digressing down research paths.

Here is some reading to keep you busy in the meantime, focusing on the concept of rent-seeking. The major issue with this research is that it doesn't focus on the government movers that facilitate rent-seeking, but rather on the businesses that benefit from it. Understanding this phenomena requires that the participation of politicians and bureaucrats be fully explored.

An another issue is that rent-seeking isn't studied in the context of the welfare-bureaucracy-NGO complex, or rent-seeking in terms of government services in themselves. 

Finally, the material is a bit short on the "Baptists and bootleggers" aspect of rent-seeking. When my attention span drifts back this way, I hope to add more literature dealing with these deficiencies.

And away we go:

Calderón, & Chong. (n.d.). Do Democracies Breed Rent-Seeking Behavior? Chowdhury, F. L. (2006). Corrupt bureaucracy and privatization of tax enforcement in Bangladesh. Dhaka: Pathak Shamabesh.

Congleton, R. D., Hillman, A. L., & Konrad, K. A. (2008). Forty years of research on rent seeking: an overview. The Theory of Rent Seeking: Forty Years of Research, 1, 1–42. Cowen, T., & Tabarrok, A. (1999). The opportunity costs of rent seeking. Journal of Public Finance and Public Choice, 17, 121–127.

Hillman, A. L., & Ursprung, H. W. (2015). The political economy of an idea: The case of rent seeking. Retrieved from http://rdc1.net/Tullock%20Memorial%20Conference/Hillman%20rent%20seeking%20Tullock%20memorial%20conference%20(3).pdf Hillman, A., &

Ursprung, H. (n.d.). Rent seeking: The idea, the reality, and the ideological resistance. Hillman.Rent seeking.2015.pdf. (n.d.). Khan. (n.d.). Chapter 2. Rent-Seeking as Process. Krueger, A. O. (1974). The political economy of the rent-seeking society. The American Economic Review, 64(3), 291–303.

Mbaku, J. M. (1998). Corruption and rent-seeking. In The political dimension of economic growth (pp. 193–211). Springer. Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-349-26284-7_10

McPhail, E., & Farrant, A. (2012). The Servants of Obama’s Machinery: F.A. Hayek’s the Road to Serfdom Revisited? (SSRN Scholarly Paper No. ID 2139285). Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network. Retrieved from http://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=2139285

Pasour Jr, E. C. (1987). Rent seeking: Some conceptual problems and implications. The Review of Austrian Economics, 1(1), 123–143.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Obligations of government in balancing liberty and security



The obligation of subjects to the sovereign is understood to last as long, and no longer, than the power lasteth by which he is able to protect them.
Thomas Hobbes, “Leviathan”

Obligations of government in balancing liberty and security

The name of this course, terrorism and homeland security, gives us the purpose of the class.  At this point in the term, as we discuss the definitions and causes of terror, we need to begin understanding how governments respond to terror and how they should respond to terror.  What is the point of a government that does not protect its citizens?  As American students, we will move into the concepts and organization of homeland security later in the term, but it will aid us to understand those concepts more fully if we keep in mind the purposes of government as we discuss the gestalt of terrorism.

Although modern politics attempts to portray this otherwise, the primary function of the Constitution of the United States of America is to defend its citizenry.   The Preamble of the document makes providing for the common defense one of the defined purposes of the underlying law of the land.  Madison makes this duty to protect clear in explaining Constitutional framework in The Federalist No. 10; protection of man and his property "is the first object of government" (Hamilton, Madison, & Jay, 2001, p. 42).  Heyman (2001) explains the legal and philosophical background of this view in terms of English common law and Locke’s view of the social contract.

However, we should also note that the Constitution sets other principles as primary functions of our government; establishing justice, ensuring domestic tranquility, and securing liberty are the concepts that concern us in this discussion.  The concept of protecting liberty must be balanced by the duty to protect the citizenry, and this balance must be weighed in terms of justice and tranquility.  Riley (2012) asserts that a written set of laws, as exemplified by our Constitution, is the best method of preventing tyranny.  Separation of powers is another concept that prevents tyranny.  We should remember that America is a Republic, not a democracy.  Sutherland (1951) argues that Americans must make constant calculations of risk in deciding security policy.  You should know that many laws and policies of the United Sates have been determined later to be unconstitutional and abandoned…and that the constitutionality of some of these have been restored at later times.  Politics, and not adherence to the Constitution, has created much of this law and policy.

Willis (2009) contends that here will always be tension in the balance between liberty and security.  Willis places this tension in the realm of struggle for political power, but also demonstrates that a restriction on liberty for some groups leads to an increase in security for others in the case of gangs preying on pensioners.  Lopach and Luckowski (2006) suggest several facets of understanding to study to help grasp the balance, including but not limited to: national security, liberty, separation of powers, rule of law, growth complex, and civil virtue.  We are not going to cover all of these in class, but feel free to ask!

From our earlier discussion, we have seen policy set with the purpose of protecting the citizen, but that had the actual effect of harming his liberty.  As we advance through the term, you will be exposed to specific cases debates in which this balance may apply.  Is the policy of banning Muslims from immigrating to this country an act of protecting America, or is it a case of lost liberty?  Does the PATRIOT Act harm liberty, or protect Americans?  Why was the NSA spying on all Americans rather than focusing on known security threats?   Do, or should, aliens (whether they be legal or illegal) have the same set of rights as American citizens?  What about American citizens fighting under a foreign banner?  One thing to keep in mind that any given policy may have both the results of security and liberty, neither effect, either effect, or even a balance of tensions that must be maintained.  For example, one possibility in a tension of policy may be to temporally ban Muslims from entering while fixing the systems of vetting that would satisfy both needs of America in terms of security and liberty.  For you as a student, a policy maker, or a first responder, understanding the purposes of government and the effects of politics on how those purposes are achieved is necessary to understand how to respond to terror, or for any other threat to American security and liberty.

Under our current educational standards, it is possible that many students do not have a full understanding of liberty.  Such students should not feel ignorant.  West (1965) notes that before the concept can sensibly be discussed, there must a definition of liberty, and further notes that there are two conflicting notions of liberty in the positive and negative senses.  Political actors may seek to define liberty in words that justify their own policies.  In interpretations of liberty for the American system of governance, therefore we should look to the sources that the Founders defined the terms, Hobbes, Locke, and the evolving English tradition.  Two notes here; first, it is NOT required to read this material for this course…it is hard reading, but it is also worth the time for your own understanding.  Second, Hobbes is often interpreted as being an absolute statist (a person who finds all social solutions to be found in the power of the state), but Harrington (2005) argues that it is the idea of liberty that puts Hobbes’s philosophy into full sensibility.

So we have looked at the underlying function of government, the stated purposes of the Constitution in American government and the reasoning behind those purposes, the inherent tension between security and liberty, some possible examples of that tension in the war on terror, and sources of information to explain the idea of liberty.  We have touched upon, but not gone into detail, the implication of political influences upon these subjects.  As we discuss terrorism, it’s effects upon our country, and how to counter the threat of terrorism, we can keep these concepts in mind.

References and Suggested Reading:



Hamilton, A., Madison, J., & Jay, J. (2001). The Federalist Papers. Hazleton, PA: Pennsylvania State University.


Harrington, R. (2005). Hobbes and liberty: the subject’s sphere of liberty in Leviathan. Retrieved from http://www.artificialhorizon.org


Heyman, S. J. (1991). The first duty of government: protection, liberty and the Fourteenth Amendment. Duke Law Journal, 507–571.


Lopach, J. J., & Luckowski, J. A. (2006). national security and civil liberty: striking the balance. The Social Studies, 97(6), 245–248.


Riley, C. J. (2012). Constitutional law as a bulwark against tyranny: The American experience. Moreana, 49(189/190), 89–116.


Sutherland Jr., A. E. (1951). Freedom and internal security. Harvard Law Review, 64(3), 383–416.


West, E. G. (1965). Liberty and education: John Stuart Mill’s dilemma. Philosophy, 40(152), 129–142.


Wills, M. (2009). Language and the politics of liberty and security. Public Policy Research, 16(1), 34–37. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1744-540X.2009.00552.x




Friday, May 13, 2016

A history of terrorist violence from below and above in America through the Civil War



A history of terrorist violence from below and above in America through the Civil War

Martin (2012) has introduced us to two modes of terrorism: that terrorism which is directed from “above” (from the state), and that terrorism which is directed from “below” (from non-state actors). Let us take a quick overview of our own American history to examine examples and possible examples of terror in both modes. 

Even prior to the American Revolution, extremism and violence were part of American history.  George and Wilcox (1996) note the massacres and counter-massacres between Native Americans and the immigrating European settlers.  To say this violence was introduced by the Europeans would be mistaken; George and Wilcox mention the example of intertribal slaughter centuries before the arrival of the Europeans.  It would also be a mistake to focus criticism on the Native Americans, as this type of “resolution” of societal conflict is constant throughout human history.  Kittrie and Wedlock (1998) point out that it was the result of massacre of settlers by Native Americans that leads to the first rebellion in Euro-American history.

The American Revolution provides examples of both “above” terror and “below” terror.  Ultimately, this is a war of waged to secure liberty from a government that refused to honor its own system of law and guaranteed rights of citizens.  However, there were terrorist acts committed by forces aligned with the Patriot side.  Johnson (1998) estimates that at the beginning of the War, approximately one of three American (British) citizens were Tories (that is aligned with the Crown).  Johnson notes that the term “lynching” is derived from Col. Charles Lynch, whose application of 39 lashes, not hanging, to Tories became known at the time as “lynching”.  The political violence directed at Tories was intended to end their support for the Crown, or to drive them from the community.

Col. Lynch dispensed justice against Tories as the head of a irregular court.  Would you say his terror was from “above” or below”?
Can you see the continuum from guerilla war to terror in the history of the American Revolution?
Soon after the American Revolution, the issue of taxation without representation sparked violence in America yet again.  During the Whiskey Rebellion, tax collectors were subject to tar and feather.  This violence was eventually targeted at those who obeyed the excise laws as well.  Kyff (1994) describes not just these assaults, but the arrival of an anti-tax militia in Pittsburgh, which led to the citizens of that town paying off the militia with goods…including whiskey!  The Federal army in response effected mass arrest without due process and subjected the arrestees to deprivation of food and shelter.

Did the methods that the Federal army used in countering the Whiskey Rebellion constitute terrorism from above?
Should targeted attacks against government officials be considered acts of terrorism?
Is violent tax resistance a political act, or a criminal act?

Cultural clashes continued to generate violence and terrorist actions up to the Civil War period.  Just two examples include The Mormon War of 1838, (and 1857) and the Comanche-Texian wars.  As Mormons began settling in greater numbers in Missouri and Illinois, their potential political power and different religion became a perceived threat to their neighbors.  Lutz and Lutz (2005) relate how these neighbors began directing violence at the Mormon community.  Governor Boggs ordered that "the Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary for the public peace” (Missouri Executive Order 44, 2016).  Lest I give the impression that the Mormons were solely the victims during this time, I will point your attention to the Mountain Meadows massacre.

An even deeper cultural conflict took place on the changing border between the Comacheria and the Texas frontier.  Comanche rules of war and treatment of captives were so markedly different than the incoming Anglo settlers that atrocity was sure to follow.  A perfect example of this situation occurred at the Council House massacre (AKA Council House fight) in 1840.  Comanche chiefs met with Texian leaders for the purpose of a prisoner exchange and boundary settlement.  The Texians expected the Comanche to bring in all captives, not understanding that each chief made his own policy regarding such return.  The Texians were further enraged over the treatment of returnee Matilda Lockhart, whose nose had been burned off as a captive (there is some dispute upon this account – see critical thinking note).  The Texians had been ordered to take the chiefs hostage if the agreed upon hostages were not returned (Patterson, 2015), and the Comanche for their part were furious when the Texians attempted to take them hostage during the negotiations.  The Comanche resisted, resulting in the killing of about 30 Comanche, including all 12 chiefs.  The Comanche as a nation considered the taking of hostages during a peace council to be treachery; the Great Raid of 1840 was the Comanche response. (For an excellent fountain of source material for the frontier “wars”, I will suggest Moore’s “Savage Frontier” series).

Lockhart’s condition as a returnee has been questioned.  How important is the need to verify information before using it in study?  Did her condition play a major role in the way the Council House situation turned out?
What are similarities in Comanche attacks on settlers, The Missourians attack on the Mormons, and the Mormon’s attack on the wagon train?

Instead of trying to cover all aspects of the Civil War that may be addressed through a lens of terrorism, we will address one area of study for this time.  “Bloody Kansas” was the site of terror and guerrilla activity from before the war, but based upon the same underlying issues of sovereignty and slavery.  Bushwhackers (on the Confederate side) and Jaywalkers (on the Union side) fought their civil war in terms of terrorism, guerilla war, and just plain crime.  Keller and Jussel (2015) discuss several ways that the Union Army used to classify the different irregular Confederate units by the method in which those units fought; some fought in uniform and attacked military targets primarily, while others had various levels of organized command (down to none) and attacked civilian targets as often (or more than) military targets.  The Lieber Code was developed to give Union Army commanders guidance in dealing with irregular forces, and gave local commanders leeway in interpreting that guidance.  It needs to be emphasized that irregulars took up arms for both sides, terrorists actions were committed on both sides, and that not all irregulars undertook terrorist acts.  Kalyvas (2004) points out that violence in civil war can be looked at in two ways; with the goal of exterminating a population, or with the goal of forcing compliance upon that population.  As the Civil War continued, we see that terror acts become more commonplace, and that the level of brutality increased.  Regular army response, on both sides, to irregular operations (whether targeted at military or civilian targets) was also often brutal.  As Keller and Jussel note, motive for some irregulars was based upon revenge.   It should be considered that the goal of compliance can morph into a goal of extermination.

 Although we didn’t discuss it, can Sherman’s March, directed at civilian populations and the first modern use of “total war”, be considered as terror from above?
What is chevauchée?  How does this concept mesh with our discussion?
Bushwhackers and Jayhawkers could be armed by a government, and then raid targets of their own choosing.  When their targets were civilian in nature, was this terror from above or below?  Who was responsible for those acts?


References and suggested reading:
George, J., & Wilcox, L. M. (1996). American extremists: militias, supremacists, Klansmen, communists & others. Amherst, N.Y: Prometheus Books.

Johnson, P. (1998). A history of the American people (1st U.S. ed). New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.

Kalyvas, S. N. (2004). The paradox of terrorism in civil war. The Journal of Ethics, 8(1), 97–138.

Keller, C., & Jussel, P. (2015). We had to burn out the entire county: irregular warfare in the American Civil War and its modern implications. Small Wars Journal. Retrieved from http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/we-had-to-burn-out-the-entire-county-irregular-warfare-in-the-american-civil-war-and-its-mo

Kittrie, N. N., & Wedlock, E. D. (Eds.). (1998). The tree of liberty: a documentary history of rebellion and political crime in America (Rev. ed). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Kumamoto, R. (2014). The Historical Origins of Terrorism in America: 1644-1880. Routledge.

Kyff, R. (1994). The Whiskey Rebellion. American History, 29(3), 36–43.
Lutz, J. M., & Lutz, B. J. (2005). Terrorism: origins and evolution. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Martin, G. (2012). Understanding terrorism: challenges, perspectives, and issues, 4th Edition. [VitalSource Bookshelf version].

Missouri Executive Order 44. (2016, April 29). In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Missouri_Executive_Order_44&oldid=717672847

Missouri Kansas Border War and Civil War Bibliography. (n.d.). Retrieved May 13, 2016, from http://www.rockymtncivilwarrt.com/study_groups/western_MO/Jan%20Civil%20War%20Bibliography.pdf

Moore, S. (n.d.). Savage Frontier: Rangers, Riflemen, and Indian Wars in Texas, Volumes I – IV. Denton, Texas: University of North Texas Press.

Patterson, M. (2015, March 19). San Antonio’s bloody Council House Fight: 175 Years ago today. Retrieved May 13, 2016, from http://therivardreport.com/san-antonios-bloody-council-house-fight-175-years-ago-today/