Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

December 3, 2013

The Constitution as Homeland: Part I

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on December 3, 2013

This is the first in a series of anticipated posts closely reading the Constitution of the United States for homeland security implications.  Readers are encouraged to use the comment function to add background, analysis, exegesis or exposition related to the text highlighted.



We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.


Sovereignty — authority super (over) -an (all) persons and places — resides with the whole of the people.  These plural persons having authority even over the individual States.  This is, in the word of James Madison, the “Sovereignty of Society”.  It is a power that includes distribution, apportionment, and devolution of authority to diverse elements of society as the sovereign may from time to time decide is most efficacious, yet always retaining to the whole people the whole power.

This power and the purposes set out in the preamble being sufficient, according to Alexander Hamilton, to avoid a Bill of Rights which might be perniciously used to limit sovereignty to those rights specified rather than the fulsome power implied. (See Federalist 84)

This conceptualization of power especially emerging, I perceive, from the worldview and practice of dissenting churches in the American colonies wherein individuals abide in direct relationship with the Divine, personally responsible for fulfilling the New Covenant, freely able to enter (or not) into compacts with other individuals whereof society emerges from these companionable choices.

God is sovereign. Yet even the ultimate sovereign has delegated aspects of authority to subordinate systems, institutions and agents.  In our secular domain, the people are as God.  Except in the beginning (and sometimes still) those who are too young, too transient, too female, or enslaved.  Poverty can also be a complication.  Criminality as well.


According to the Preamble, together with you I am sovereign. We are bound together in opportunity and its opposite.  Yet surely our sovereign dignity is diminished when I am presumed potentially treasonous (against myself?).   When I am or any of us are physically or digitally stopped and frisked — not for specific cause but just in case — this suggests, may even spawn, a reversal of authority: The sovereign We being relegated to minor characters rather than authors of our own scripts.

Government is established to serve society.  How does homeland security reflect the sovereignty of society?  Does homeland security usurp this sovereignty? We can consent to temporary self-limitation of our authority.  We can choose to reign rather than rule.  In the last decade (or longer?) have we done so?

December 2, 2013

A new calendar

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on December 2, 2013

This week Homeland Security Watch will start a new calendar.   Chris Bellavita will be on hiatus for a few weeks, in place of his usual Tuesday post we will offer a close reading of the Constitution from a homeland security perspective.

If you are a lawyer, historian, or simply a well-informed citizen, we hope you will join us for an exegesis and exposition of the text (yes, Bill, this means you).  John, we are depending on you to remind us of Emerson’s take — or maybe Philip Bobbitt’s angle — on Constitutional provisions.

I hope to read the insights of Dan and Quin and Claire.  I look forward to a discussion including Don Quixote, JD, and many others who have for awhile been quiet.

For many of us the Constitution is as much — or even more — the “homeland” in need of securing than any particular place.  What does the document actually say and since 1787 what have we decided it says about issues relevant to homeland security?

Most Tuesdays I expect to post a few lines from the text of the Constitution and try to start the discussion with a few quick — not necessarily well-considered — thoughts and hope readers do something more and better.  I am looking for exegetical or hermeneutical analysis applied to our current context.  But I will take legal, doctrinal, or operational analysis.

We will keep this up at least through December, longer if it seems to be producing anything worthwhile.

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