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Secret police

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Secret police are a police
Police
The police is a personification of the state designated to put in practice the enforced law, protect property and reduce civil disorder in civilian matters. Their powers include the legitimized use of force...

 agency which operates in secrecy
Secrecy
Secrecy is the practice of hiding information from certain individuals or groups, perhaps while sharing it with other individuals...

 and beyond the law
Extrajudicial punishment
Extrajudicial punishment is punishment by the state or some other official authority without the permission of a court or legal authority. The existence of extrajudicial punishment is considered proof that some governments will break their own legal code if deemed necessary.-Nature:Extrajudicial...

 to protect the political power
Political power
Political power is a type of power held by a group in a society which allows administration of some or all of public resources, including labour, and wealth. There are many ways to obtain possession of such power. At the nation-state level political legitimacy for political power is held by the...

 of an individual dictator or an authoritarian political regime.

Instead of transparently enforcing the rule of law and being subject to public scrutiny as ordinary police agencies do, secret police organizations are specifically intended to operate beyond and above the law in order to suppress political dissent
Political dissent
Political dissent refers to any expression designed to convey dissatisfaction with or opposition to the policies of a governing body. Such expression may take forms from vocal disagreement to civil disobedience to the use of violence. Historically, repressive governments have sought to punish...

 through clandestine
Clandestine operation
A clandestine operation is an intelligence or military operation carried out in such a way that the operation goes unnoticed.The United States Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms defines "clandestine operation" as "An operation sponsored or conducted by governmental...

 acts of terror and intimidation (such as kidnapping
Kidnapping
In criminal law, kidnapping is the taking away or transportation of a person against that person's will, usually to hold the person in false imprisonment, a confinement without legal authority...

, coercive interrogation, torture
Torture
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

, internal exile
Internal Exile
Internal Exile was Fish's second solo album after leaving Marillion in 1988. The album, released 28 October 1991, was inspired by the singer's past, his own personal problems and his troubled experiences with his previous record label EMI.The album's music reflects Fish's indulgence in the vast...

, forced disappearance
Forced disappearance
In international human rights law, a forced disappearance occurs when a person is secretly abducted or imprisoned by a state or political organization or by a third party with the authorization, support, or acquiescence of a state or political organization, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the...

, and assassination
Assassination
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

) targeted against political enemies of the ruling authority.

Secret police forces are accountable only to the executive branch of the government, sometimes only to a dictator
Dictator
A dictator is a ruler who assumes sole and absolute power but without hereditary ascension such as an absolute monarch. When other states call the head of state of a particular state a dictator, that state is called a dictatorship...

. They operate entirely or partially in secrecy, that is, most or all of their operations are obscure and hidden from the general public and government except for the topmost executive officials. This semi-official capacity allows the secret police to bolster the government's control over their citizens while also allowing the government to deny prior knowledge
Plausible deniability
Plausible deniability is, at root, credible ability to deny a fact or allegation, or to deny previous knowledge of a fact. The term most often refers to the denial of blame in chains of command, where upper rungs quarantine the blame to the lower rungs, and the lower rungs are often inaccessible,...

 of any violations of civil liberties.

Secret police agencies have often been used as an instrument of political repression
Political repression
Political repression is the persecution of an individual or group for political reasons, particularly for the purpose of restricting or preventing their ability to take political life of society....

.

States where the secret police wield significant power are sometimes referred to as police state
Police state
A police state is one in which the government exercises rigid and repressive controls over the social, economic and political life of the population...

s or counterintelligence state
Counterintelligence state
Counterintelligence state is a state where state security service penetrates and permeates all societal institutions including the military...

s. Secret police differ from the domestic security agencies
Security agency
A security agency is a governmental organization which conducts intelligence activities for the internal security of a nation. They are the domestic cousins of foreign intelligence agencies...

 in modern liberal democracies
Liberal democracy
Liberal democracy, also known as constitutional democracy, is a common form of representative democracy. According to the principles of liberal democracy, elections should be free and fair, and the political process should be competitive...

, because domestic security agencies are generally subject to government regulation, reporting requirements, and other accountability
Accountability
Accountability is a concept in ethics and governance with several meanings. It is often used synonymously with such concepts as responsibility, answerability, blameworthiness, liability, and other terms associated with the expectation of account-giving...

 measures.

Despite such overview, there still exists the possibility of domestic-security agencies acting unlawfully and taking on some characteristics of secret police. In some cases, certain police agencies are accused of being secret police and deny being such. For example, political groups and civil liberties organizations in the United States have at various times accused the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

 of being secret police.
Which government agencies may be classed or characterized, in whole or part, as "secret police" is disputed by political scientists.

Control


A single secret police service has the weapons to arrogate to itself complete political power. It may therefore pose a potential threat to the central political authority.

In dictatorships, a close relative of the dictator often heads the secret police. For example, Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

, as head of the State Internal Security Department placed his secret police under the authority of his first cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid
Ali Hassan al-Majid
Ali Hassan Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti , , was a Ba'athist Iraqi Defense Minister, Interior Minister, military commander and chief of the Iraqi Intelligence Service...

.

In addition, secret police has a strong tendency to view potential political enemies as concrete threats, even if they do not exist. In some cases, a dictator may manufacture such enemies for the purpose of directing national output toward a common goal, thereby supplying an image of national unity.

Methods and history



Secret police not only have the traditional police authority to arrest
Arrest
An arrest is the act of depriving a person of his or her liberty usually in relation to the purported investigation and prevention of crime and presenting into the criminal justice system or harm to oneself or others...

 and detain, but in some cases they are given unsupervised control of the length of detention
Detention (imprisonment)
Detention is the process when a state, government or citizen lawfully holds a person by removing their freedom of liberty at that time. This can be due to criminal charges being raised against the individual as part of a prosecution or to protect a person or property...

, assigned to implement punishments independent of the public judiciary
Judiciary
The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes...

, and allowed to administer those punishments without external review. The tactics of investigation and intimidation
Intimidation
Intimidation is intentional behavior "which would cause a person of ordinary sensibilities" fear of injury or harm. It's not necessary to prove that the behavior was so violent as to cause terror or that the victim was actually frightened.Criminal threatening is the crime of intentionally or...

 used by secret police enable them to accrue so much power that they usually operate with little or no practical restraint.

Secret-police organizations employ internal spies
Espionage
Espionage or spying involves an individual obtaining information that is considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information. Espionage is inherently clandestine, lest the legitimate holder of the information change plans or take other countermeasures once it...

 and civilian informant
Informant
An informant is a person who provides privileged information about a person or organization to an agency. The term is usually used within the law enforcement world, where they are officially known as confidential or criminal informants , and can often refer pejoratively to the supply of information...

s to find protest
Protest
A protest is an expression of objection, by words or by actions, to particular events, policies or situations. Protests can take many different forms, from individual statements to mass demonstrations...

 leaders or dissidents, and they may also employ agents provocateurs to incite political opponents to perform illegal acts against the government, whereupon such opponents may be arrested. Secret police may open mail, tap
Telephone tapping
Telephone tapping is the monitoring of telephone and Internet conversations by a third party, often by covert means. The wire tap received its name because, historically, the monitoring connection was an actual electrical tap on the telephone line...

 telephone lines, use various techniques to trick
Deception
Deception, beguilement, deceit, bluff, mystification, bad faith, and subterfuge are acts to propagate beliefs that are not true, or not the whole truth . Deception can involve dissimulation, propaganda, and sleight of hand. It can employ distraction, camouflage or concealment...

, blackmail
Blackmail
In common usage, blackmail is a crime involving threats to reveal substantially true or false information about a person to the public, a family member, or associates unless a demand is met. It may be defined as coercion involving threats of physical harm, threat of criminal prosecution, or threats...

, or coerce
Coercion
Coercion is the practice of forcing another party to behave in an involuntary manner by use of threats or intimidation or some other form of pressure or force. In law, coercion is codified as the duress crime. Such actions are used as leverage, to force the victim to act in the desired way...

 relatives or friends of a suspect
Suspect
In the parlance of criminal justice, a suspect is a known person suspected of committing a crime.Police and reporters often incorrectly use the word suspect when referring to the...

 into providing information.

Secret police are notorious for raiding homes between midnight and dawn, to apprehend people suspected of dissent
Dissent
Dissent is a sentiment or philosophy of non-agreement or opposition to a prevailing idea or an entity...

.

People apprehended by the secret police are often arbitrarily arrested and detained
Arbitrary arrest and detention
Arbitrary arrest and arbitrary detention are the arrest or detention of an individual in a case in which there is no likelihood or evidence that they committed a crime against legal statute, or in which there has been no proper due process of law...

 without due process. While in detention, arrestees may be torture
Torture
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

d or subjected to inhumane treatment. Suspects may not receive a public trial
Public trial
Public trial or open trial is a trial open to public, as opposed to the secret trial. The term should not be confused with show trial.-United States:...

, and instead may be convicted in a kangaroo court
Kangaroo court
A kangaroo court is "a mock court in which the principles of law and justice are disregarded or perverted".The outcome of a trial by kangaroo court is essentially determined in advance, usually for the purpose of ensuring conviction, either by going through the motions of manipulated procedure or...

-style show trial
Show trial
The term show trial is a pejorative description of a type of highly public trial in which there is a strong connotation that the judicial authorities have already determined the guilt of the defendant. The actual trial has as its only goal to present the accusation and the verdict to the public as...

, or by a secret tribunal. Secret police known to have used these approaches in history include the secret police of East Germany (the Ministry for State Security or Stasi
Stasi
The Ministry for State Security The Ministry for State Security The Ministry for State Security (German: Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (MfS), commonly known as the Stasi (abbreviation , literally State Security), was the official state security service of East Germany. The MfS was headquartered...

) and Portuguese
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 PIDE
PIDE
In 1969, Marcello Caetano changed the name PIDE to DGS . The death of Salazar and the subsequent ascension of Caetano brought some attempts at democratization, in order to avoid popular insurgency against censorship, the ongoing colonial war and the general restriction of civil rights...

.

Secret police have been used by many types of governments. Secret police forces in dictatorship
Dictatorship
A dictatorship is defined as an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by an individual, the dictator. It has three possible meanings:...

s and totalitarian
Totalitarianism
Totalitarianism is a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible...

 states usually use violence and acts of terror to suppress political opposition and dissent, and may use death squad
Death squad
A death squad is an armed military, police, insurgent, or terrorist squad that conducts extrajudicial killings, assassinations, and forced disappearances of persons as part of a war, insurgency or terror campaign...

s to carry out assassination
Assassination
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

s and "disappearances
Forced disappearance
In international human rights law, a forced disappearance occurs when a person is secretly abducted or imprisoned by a state or political organization or by a third party with the authorization, support, or acquiescence of a state or political organization, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the...

". In times of emergency
State of emergency
A state of emergency is a governmental declaration that may suspend some normal functions of the executive, legislative and judicial powers, alert citizens to change their normal behaviours, or order government agencies to implement emergency preparedness plans. It can also be used as a rationale...

 or war
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

, a democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 may lawfully grant its policing and security services additional or sweeping powers, which may be seen or construed as a secret police.

Secret police agencies



See also


Concepts:
  • Counterintelligence state
    Counterintelligence state
    Counterintelligence state is a state where state security service penetrates and permeates all societal institutions including the military...

  • Chekism
    Chekism
    Chekism is a term used by some historians and political scientists to emphasize the omnipotence and omnipresence of secret political police in the Soviet Union and contemporary Russia...

  • Death squad
    Death squad
    A death squad is an armed military, police, insurgent, or terrorist squad that conducts extrajudicial killings, assassinations, and forced disappearances of persons as part of a war, insurgency or terror campaign...

  • High policing
    High policing
    High policing is a form of intelligence-led policing that serves to protect the national government or a conglomerate of national governments from internal threats; that is, any policing operations integrated into domestic intelligence gathering, national security, or international security...

  • Intelligence agency
    Intelligence agency
    An intelligence agency is a governmental agency that is devoted to information gathering for purposes of national security and defence. Means of information gathering may include espionage, communication interception, cryptanalysis, cooperation with other institutions, and evaluation of public...

  • Extrajudicial punishment
    Extrajudicial punishment
    Extrajudicial punishment is punishment by the state or some other official authority without the permission of a court or legal authority. The existence of extrajudicial punishment is considered proof that some governments will break their own legal code if deemed necessary.-Nature:Extrajudicial...

  • Mass surveillance
    Mass surveillance
    Mass surveillance is the pervasive surveillance of an entire population, or a substantial fraction thereof.Modern governments today commonly perform mass surveillance of their citizens, explaining that they believe that it is necessary to protect them from dangerous groups such as terrorists,...



Lists:

External links