Covering war, empire, the national security state, and occasionally culture,
TomDispatch features some of the best and most established progressive writers on the block, the likes of Barbara Ehrenreich, Noam Chomsky and Andrew Bacevich. Tom Dispatch has done so at a remarkably steady pace for over a decade, about 150 essays a year. AlterNet has been proud to publish virtually every article produced by TomDispatch, and we consider it an incredibly valuable resource. It’s mainly a one-man show with Tom Engelhardt, known far and wide as a writer’s editor for top-flight publishers, at the helm.
So it was a pleasure to spend a recent morning with Tom Engelhardt discussing his new book, Shadow Government (Haymarket, 2014), and how we will grapple with the worsening effects of the national security state.
AlterNet: Looking back over the past decade, it seems things have gotten worse. True or false?
Tom Engelhardt: Thirteen years later, it’s gotten endlessly worse. What I see as the worst part of it is that — forget politics for a minute — there just seems to be no learning curve in Washington. It’s like, you know what it reminds me of, but not in an amusing way? That old movie Groundhog Day? Bill Murray wakes up the next morning and it’s always the same. Except in this case, each day gets worse.
And now we’re at a point where, the national security state-what I call in the title of my book, the Shadow Government-has little accountability whatsoever. If I were break into a house, and I was found and caught, I would be brought to court for it. I might end up in jail. If the Shadow Government breaks into a house, nothing will happen. You can run through the crimes, they range from destroying evidence of a crime they committed, CIA destroying its own tapes, perjury before Congress, to kidnapping and assassination, including the murder of American citizens, torture which we all know about. Every kidnapping which we like to call rendition because it sounds somewhat politer.