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NYPD Fighting the Last War?

19:15 Tue 12 Aug 2008. Updated: 18:00 28 Jan 2009
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In light of their somewhat zealous security plan for the new development at the World Trade Center site, one could accuse the NYPD of closing the barn door after the horse has bolted. After all, the towers are already gone, is heavy security now going to make much difference? Is the new development really the most strategically important location in New York City? (Apart from the stock exchange, which gets the heavy duty security treatment as well.) On the other hand, you could also point out that the proposed security measures aren’t fighting the last war at all, since they won’t do anything against planes.

The sad fact of it is that the NYPD are not fighting the last war, they’re fighting the current war—not against terrorists (except incidentally), but against the civilian population, which must be cowed by shows of authoritarian might, and harrassed into accepting invasive security as the price of daily living. Indeed that’s what’s already happened to the unfortunate small businesses, mentioned in the NYT article, which were pushed under by the security around the NYSE.

It’s not necessarily that the authorities actively regard civilians as “the enemy” (although they certainly seem to), it’s that these organizations seek to expand their own powers and influence, and the march towards “security” is another convenient means to do so, especially since it promises money (from politicians eager to a) show that they’re doing something to make voters safer and b) line the pockets of the cronies along the way), increased power, decreased accountability, and a wonderful excuse to do lots of things in secret.

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