Yesterday, I saw this story about the Department of Agriculture having published a solicitation for submachine guns. While you ponder why the Department of Agriculture would want or need automatic weapons, I would recommend reading Angelo M. Codevilla's article entitled "America’s New Security State." It's a long article, but the basic thesis the Professor builds on is:
After 9/11 our ruling class came together on the proposition that, at home as well as abroad, America is at war against enemies so evil that there must be no limit to fighting them, whose identity we must always seek but can never know; that to focus on, to “profile,” the kinds of persons who have committed terrorist acts, is racist and provocative; that any American is as likely as any other to be a terrorist, and hence that all must submit to being sifted, screened, restricted—forever.He goes on to explain that this fundamental premise--that any American is a potential enemy--has not only fundamentally altered the relationship between the state and the citizen, but it has "diminished the natural distinctions between citizen and foreigner, familiar and alien, friend and enemy," and opened the door to the abuse of power against political or cultural opponents by undermining the rule of law.
If war, once exceptional, is henceforth normal and perpetual, and if all are liable to be treated as enemies, our complex of laws boils down to the Roman dictatorial formula: salus populi suprema lex. In the name of the people’s safety, the dictator’s will is law. But republican Rome’s “dictators” were appointed for brief emergencies for the purpose of returning the state to its ordinary laws, and themselves to live under them. Not incidentally, they were congenitally committed to victory. By contrast, the new American security state is committed neither to victory, nor to any purpose that transcends it. Least of all is it committed to transcending itself. Like Orwell’s Oceania, it is an endless end in itself.(H/t Weaselzippers and Instapundit)