Despite the many failings of government, there still remain people who trust the government to protect us. Whether it’s because they believe that police really are there to protect us from crime, or they don’t want to take responsibility for their own defense, they trust the police to defend them. But what happens when the police cannot even defend themselves?
That’s what happened recently in France, as a radicalized police employee went on a rampage, stabbing four of his colleagues to death before being fatally shot. It was an incident that shook up the French security establishment, as it turned out in the aftermath that numerous warning signs had been missed or ignored.
The attacker, Mickael Harpon, had converted to Islam a decade ago after marrying a Muslim woman. He had apparently also voiced support for the Charlie Hebdo attackers, but nothing was done about the comments he made. Harpon retained his security clearance, which allowed him access to significant amounts of sensitive intelligence, including the names of radicalized Muslims under police observation, the names of French citizens who fought in Syria and returned, and the addresses of police officers.
Now that it has come out that Harpon was a radicalized Muslim, authorities are investigating whether he played a role in providing information to terrorists in other Islamist attacks. Overall the situation demonstrated that there were significant breakdowns in the system, since multiple instances of Harpon’s obvious radicalization were made known to his superiors, yet nothing was done to remove him from his position.
Since the security establishment is so bureaucratized that it cannot defend even its own officers from internal threats, how can it be trusted to protect the citizenry? The answer is that it can’t. Anything that security forces do to stop terrorist attacks are akin to a blind squirrel finding a nut. They’re just random good luck from a system that is so hopelessly bureaucratized that actual threats aren’t taken seriously. We have to remember that, and remember that at the end of the day we are the only people who can adequately defends ourselves.