Global Ethics Corner: Security in America

Jul 23, 2010

The growth in national security measures since 9/11 is striking. Is this level of government investment worthwhile? Can there ever be too much security?

Keeping home and family safe from intruders is a primal instinct which requires judgment and balance. Few leave doors unlocked, and few lock themselves inside, throwing away the keys.

Protection from fear is prudent, but short of a bunker, we live with some insecurity. When is enough security enough?

This primal need for security applies to country, but is extended by noble and base motives. Civil officials are responsible for lives under their care, and usually take that responsibility seriously. In this sense, no expense or effort is too great.

Amplifying this, to advocate limits to security,such as insecurity, invites political defeat.

Finally, security is big business. Millions of jobs and billions of dollars are tied to it.

When does fear, responsibility, votes, or money bloom into excess paranoia? Regarding this question, the details of the series, "Top Secret America," can leave a 'deer-in-the-headlights' feeling.

The change since 9/11 is striking. According to The Washington Post, "The top-secret world the government created...has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist...."

Using public funds, there are up to 1300 government organizations and 2000 private companies working in counter-terrorism, homeland security, and intelligence. Among these are over 850,000 people with top-secret clearance.

What do you think? Do you feel more secure? Is this level of investment worthwhile? Does this world itself become a threat? Is there ever enough security?

By William Vocke

For more information see:

"Top Secret America," The Washington Post.


Photo Credits in order of Appearance:

John Carleton
Steve Calcott

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Josh Thompson
United States Department of Homeland Security
Dave Parker
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District
Danny Sullivan
Daniel Latorre
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Andrew Coyle
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Jim Greenhill
Adam Smith
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