Kelley B. Vlahos


Kelley B. Vlahos, featured columnist and contributing editor for The American Conservative magazine, discusses her article “Post-9/11: All Eyes on You;” the International Spy Museum’s obnoxious advertising campaign that makes a joke out of all-too-real government intrusions into our privacy; how incremental increases of government power go largely unnoticed by the American “sheeple;” and the Washington Post’s noteworthy “Top Secret America” project on the national security state’s explosive growth after 9/11.

MP3 here. (12:01)

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos has spent over a decade as a political reporter in Washington DC. Currently, she is a contributing editor for The American Conservative magazine and its daily weblog, @TAC. She is also a Washington correspondent for the DC-based homeland security magazine, Homeland Security Today, a long-time political writer for, a regular columnist for and a contributor to

13 thoughts on “Kelley B. Vlahos”

  1. People are frightened: how often do you hear “I don't care, I've got nothing to hide”, when you point out what is going on. My standard response is always to ask whether they would be happy to have their name and address and a profile of them published on the internet? They usually recoil in horror at the very thought, but surely what is actually occurring now is far more threatening.
    The bottom line is that any government sees it's domestic population as it's main enemy, and therefore while seeking total transparency of it's own masses, it demands total secrecy of it's own machinations. Until people understand that this vast 'security' megalith is directed primarily at them rather than any perceived foreign threat, nothing is going to change.
    Hermann Goering famously said: “…..the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”
    Today, as we watch human rights workers increasingly being equated with terrorists, often by their own governments, his words ought to be a wake up call for all of us.

    1. Damn straight.

      It's imperative that the American sheeple realize that the U.S. Government isn't their friend–it's their enemy. It's contemptuous of its Constitution, its laws, its treaty obligations, its–well, everything. Its agents–police, prosecutors, and the like–can kill and abuse citizens with evident impunity.

      Keep nullification and secession in mind. . . .

    2. One blogger, years ago, on another site mentioned that at a police road side checkpoint he asked why he was being questioned and the cop said "If you've done nothing wrong you've nothing to worry about"… To which he said, "Then would you mind dropping your pants and showing me your junk to make sure there is no fecal matter because I suspect you might have violated some children… of course, if you've done nothing wrong then this shouldn't be a problem for you"… The cop went, naturally, ballistic before ordering him to move on. That's the absurdity of our overlords demands upon us while guarding their own violations.

  2. The current mood reminds me of how things were when World War II. Not many people realize it, but everything we associate with the 50's-conformity, trust in government, the organization man, the rigid social norms-was a byproduct of the war. Randolph Bourne observed that during war and total mobilization, society becomes regimented like an army. The entire structure of American society during that period-cultural, economic, political, sociological-was the structure of a society mobilized for battle. An army cannot tolerate dissent, breaking ranks, for that underminds effectiveness.

    Of course, in the army and in society, only a handful eagerly and consciously fall in line. The rest just adjust themselves to the regimentation. It took the upheavals of the 1960's, which undermined the regimentation of society, culture, and government; the stagflation of the 1970's revealed the weak points of the corporatist economic structure. 9/11, however, ended this brief period of liberation. In ten years time-we move faster these days-everything is once more of an army on the march. Only a few eager soldiers, granted. What once took half a century-WWI was the start of the regimentation of society-now occurs in a fifth of that.

    What ended the regimentation was dissent from all quarters. The beatniks, and the hippies afterwords, rebelled against the cultural regimentation. While some readers may show contempt for them and their exaggerated excesses, it took that level of subversion and perversion to make culture free again. The New Left historians, while not perfect, unseated the conservative "Consensus" interpretation of history; the whistleblowers and Pentagon papers brought an end to the war-induced trust in the State; and the student movement, even if one could argue with their ideas, at least got people thinking about ideas as opposed to managerial techniques. To pull a repeat performance, new forms of subversion must be developed. On the cultural front, despite my many misgivings, anonymous and /b/ are subversive enough. Nothing is sacred to them. Politically, it can't be any one group; it must be a general renaissance in political thought and action. It must occur in all segments.

    In Zinn's play, Marx in Soho, speaking through Marx, Zinn exhorts his audience that a better world is possible-but you have to get off your ass! You don't have to share the view that is advocated to agree with that. To be radical is to grab the root of the problem-and the problem is us.

    1. Your vaunted dissent and "cultural freedom" has produced what besides antipathy between generations, parents and children, a truly astonishing degree of yellow-belly PC and unending euphemisms, unknown to the pre-sixties, (if you don't believe just watch old comedies) hunger for world domination and war, and that's just for starters.

      1. There was apathy prior to that as well; dissenters have always been in a minority. If you read some of the stuff that the political radicals published, PC is the last word I would use for them. That followed when they gave up on political action it seems. And as much, perhaps more, of the blame can be laid at the feet of Buckley conservatives. After the sixties, they dragged the politicos through the mud, making their image in the public even worse. It isn't that simple Phillipe. However, I admit that I have glossed over number of things.

        The lust for world domination part of what the radicals were opposing as well.

  3. Scott, I just finished reading Zinn's People's History of the U.S. It's not what I anticipated, namely a defense of some alternate economic system. It's all about how the few rule the many. And about the continual resistance of the real people, which usually fails., but sometimes succeeds at the margin.

    I'll add that humans are an alpha males species, so are genetically wired to obey the top dog.

    I'll give you a taste. The U.S. founding fathers were the PTB on this side of the pond. So an early chapter is about how the ff manipulated enough of the real people (1/3) to get on their side so that they could take over from the PTB on the other side of the pond. The manipulations included promises of demockracy, liberty, freedumb, but ff set up a sys, like only 2-parties, almost no one gets to vote, etc etc so that the promises were pretty empty and they could rule unchallenged.

  4. The rulers have hired top psychologists to find the best ways to control the people.They've studied it and done experiments about it. Everything they do has been studied and focus-grouped for maximum effectiveness. That's why so many appear to be "sheeple."

    1. I wouldn't give them that much credit. Much of that psychological work is of dubious validity, and they obviously can't get everyone-I mean, here we are. The problem lies not in the evil of our particular rulers-statecraft is generally a dishonorable profession-but in the acquiescence and acceptance of the ruled.

      You are exhibiting it now, by granting them competence in an area that nobody really has. It ignores the dispersal of information and the particularities of space and time. Read "The Use of Knowledge in Society", and la Boitie's "Discourse on Voluntary Servitude."

      1. You might be interested to know that George Carlin's mother worked on Madison Ave and their dinner table conversations were all how manipulation thru language. That's what makes Carlin such a good selector of the 7 words and other pithy and biting commentaries.

        Academic psyops work is a lot more crude but give me an example where it didn't work. IOW, don't opine, present evidence.

  5. Kelly, the first and LAST time I went through the scanner was two years ago out of curiosity about what the damn thing was. When they said I had to stand and raise my arms in a " Don't shoot. I surrender." pose is when it hit me that I was being treated like a criminal. Maybe that explains why I haven't flown since.

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