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Encyclopedia > Secret police

Secret police (sometimes political police) are a police organization which operates in secrecy to maintain national security against internal threats to the state. Secret police forces are typically associated with totalitarian regimes, as they are often used to maintain the political power of the state rather than uphold the rule of law. Secret police are law enforcement organizations officially endowed with authority superior to civil police forces, operating outside the normal boundaries of the law, and they are often accountable only to the executive branch of the government. They operate entirely or partially in secrecy; i.e., most or all of their operations are obscure and hidden from the general public and from all government officials, except for the topmost executive officials[1]. Secret police organizations have often been used as an instrument of political repression. States where the secret police wield significant power are sometimes referred to as police states. Secret police differ from the domestic security agencies in modern liberal democracies, because domestic security agencies are generally subject to government regulation, reporting requirements, and other accountability measures. Despite such oversight, there still exists the possibility of domestic-security agencies acting unlawfully and taking on some characteristics of secret police. Which government agencies may be classed or characterised, in whole or part, as "secret police" is disputed by political scientists. This is a list of current secret police organizations. ... Secrecy is the practice of sharing information among a group of people, which can be as small as one person, while hiding it from others. ... Security measures taken to protect the Houses of Parliament in London, England. ... For other uses, see State (disambiguation). ... Totalitarianism is a term employed by some political scientists, especially those in the field of comparative politics, to describe modern regimes in which the state regulates nearly every aspect of public and private behavior. ... This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      The rule of law, in its most basic form, is the principle that no one is above the law. ... The executive is the branch of a government charged with implementing, or executing, the law and running the day-to-day affairs of the government or state. ... Political repression is the oppression or persecution of an individual or group for political reasons, particularly for the purpose of restricting or preventing their ability to take part in the political life of society. ... A police state is a political condition where the government maintains strict control over society, particularly through suspension of civil rights and often with the use of a force of secret police. ... Security agency is an organization which conducts intelligence activities for the internal security of a nation, state or organization. ... Liberal democracy is a form of government. ... Government regulation involves the use of the law, mandated by the state, to produce outcomes which might not otherwise occur, prevent outcomes which might otherwise occur, produce or prevent outcomes in different places to what might otherwise occur, or produce or prevent outcomes in different timescales than would otherwise occur. ... Accountability is a concept in ethics with several meanings. ...


Methods and history

Secret police not only have the traditional police authority to arrest and detain, but in some cases they are given unsupervised control of the length of detention, assigned to implement punishments independent of the public judiciary, and allowed to administer those punishments without external review. The tactics of investigation and intimidation used by secret police enable them to accrue so much power that they usually operate with little or no practical restraint[2]. Secret-police organizations employ internal spies and civilian informants to find protest 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[3]. Secret police may open mail, tap telephone lines, use various techniques to trick, blackmail, or coerce relatives or friends of a suspect into providing information. The secret police are renowned for raiding homes between midnight and dawn, to apprehend people suspected of dissent[4][5][6]. For other uses, see Arrest (disambiguation). ... Detention generally refers to a state or government holding a person in a particular area, either for interrogation, as punishment for a wrong, or as a precautionary measure while investigating a potential threat posed by that person. ... In the law, the judiciary or judicial system is the system of courts which administer justice in the name of the sovereign or state, a mechanism for the resolution of disputes. ... Intimidation is generally used in the meaning of criminal threatening. ... Spy and Secret agent redirect here. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Demonstrators march in the street while protesting the World Bank and International Monetary Fund on April 16, 2005. ... An agent provocateur (plural: agents provocateurs) is a person assigned to provoke unrest, violence, debate, or argument by or within a group while acting as a member of the group but covertly representing the interests of another. ... Telephone tapping (or wire tapping/wiretapping in the US) is the monitoring of telephone and Internet conversations by a third party, often by covert means. ... This article or section includes a list of works cited but its sources remain unclear because it lacks in-text citations. ... For other uses, see Blackmail (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Coercion (disambiguation). ... For the 1987 movie starring Cher, see Suspect (film). ... For the political magazine, see Dissent (magazine). ...

People apprehended by the secret police are often arbitrarily arrested and detained without due process. While in detention, arrestees may be tortured or subjected to inhumane treatment[7]. Suspects may not receive a public trial, and instead may be convicted in a kangaroo court-style show trial, 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) and Portugal (PIDE)[8]. Arbitrary arrest and detention, or (AAD), is the arrest and detention of an individual in a case in which there is no likelihood or evidence that he or she committed a crime against legal statute, or where there has been no proper due process of law. ... For other uses, see Torture (disambiguation). ... Public trial or open trial is a trial open to public, as opposed to the secret trial. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... The term show trial serves most commonly to label a type of public trial in which the judicial authorities have already determined the guilt of the accused: the actual trial has as its only goal to present the accusation and the verdict to the public as an impressive example and... This article is about the state which existed from 1949 to 1990. ... Logo of East Germanys Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (MfS or Stasi) / Ministry for State Security This article is about Stasi, the secret police of East Germany. ... The Polícia Internacional e de Defesa do Estado or PIDE (literally, International and State Defense Police), was the main tool of repression used by the Portuguese Fascist regime, the Estado Novo. ...

Secret police have been used by many types of governments. Secret police forces in dictatorships and totalitarian states usually use violence and acts of terror to suppress political opposition and dissent, and may use death squads to carry out assassinations and "disappearances". Although secret police normally do not exist in democratic states,[citation needed] there are different varieties of democracy and, in times of emergency or war, a democracy may lawfully grant its policing and security services additional or sweeping powers, which may be seen or construed as a secret police. Forms of government Part of the Politics series Politics Portal This box:      A dictatorship is an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by a dictator. ... Totalitarianism is a term employed by some political scientists, especially those in the field of comparative politics, to describe modern regimes in which the state regulates nearly every aspect of public and private behavior. ... // A death squad is an armed squad of men that kills civilians. ... Assassin and Assassins redirect here. ... Disappear redirects here. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into List of types of democracy. ... For other uses, see State of emergency (disambiguation). ... -1...

Secret police in fiction

The concept of secret police is also popular in fiction, usually portraying such an institution at its most extreme. A well-known example is the Thought Police from George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-four, who used psychology and omnipresent surveillance to eliminate dissent. In the graphic novel V for Vendetta and the movie based on the novel, the secret police were used to capture and silence dissenters. The Public Security Section 9 from the Ghost in the Shell series uses information gathering, cybernetic communication, and hacking. The Civil Protection in Half Life 2 were notable for their use of intimidation and murder to keep citizens in line. In Return of the Pink Panther the Lugash secret police hunt down Sir Charles Lytton. In Star Trek, there is the Tal Shiar, Section-31 and the Obsidian Orders In George Orwells dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four the government attempts to control not only the speech and actions, but also the thoughts of its subjects, labeling disapproved thoughts with the term thoughtcrime or, in Newspeak, crimethink. In the book, Winston Smith, the main character, writes in his diary... George Orwell is the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903[1][2] – 21 January 1950) who was an English writer and journalist well-noted as a novelist, critic, and commentator on politics and culture. ... This article is about the Orwell novel. ... {redirect|Psychological science|the journal|Psychological Science (journal)}} Not to be confused with Phycology. ... This article is about the comic. ... Public Security Section 9 (Japanese: 公安9課, Kōuan Kyūka), also referred to as Public Safety Section 9 in some translations, is a fictional intelligence department under the Ministry of Home Affairs from Masamune Shirows Ghost in the Shell anime and manga series. ... Motoko Kusanagi from the manga Ghost in the Shell. ... Intelligence (abbreviated or ) is the process and the result of gathering information and analyzing it to answer questions or obtain advance warnings needed to plan for the future. ... For other uses, see Cyborg (disambiguation). ... Hack has several meanings in the technology and computer science fields: a clever or quick fix to a computer program problem; a clumsy or inelegant solution to a problem; or a modification of a program or device to give the user access to features that were otherwise unavailable to them. ... Half-Life 2 is a first-person shooter computer game and the highly anticipated sequel to Half-Life developed by Valve Software. ... The Return of the Pink Panther is the fourth film in the Pink Panther series, released in North America by United Artists and in Europe by ITC Entertainment in 1975, and stars Peter Sellers in the role of Inspector Clouseau in his third Panther appearance (after the original Pink Panther... This article is about the entire Star Trek franchise. ... Romulans are a fictional alien species in the Star Trek universe related to Vulcans, at war or uneasy truce with the humans of Earth and the United Federation of Planets throughout most of the Star Trek series and films. ... This article is about federal states. ... This article is about the Star Trek universe. ...

See also

The CIA Seal The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is an American intelligence agency, responsible for obtaining and analyzing information about foreign governments, corporations, and individuals, and reporting such information to the various branches of the U.S. Government. ... // A death squad is an armed squad of men that kills civilians. ... The   (contraction of Geheime Staatspolizei: “secret state police”) was the official secret police of Nazi Germany. ... 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 operations for the purpose of protecting government. ... An intelligence agency is a governmental organization that for the purposes of national security is devoted to the gathering of information (known in the context as intelligence) by means of espionage, communication interception, cryptanalysis, cooperation with other institutions, and evaluation of public sources. ... This article is about the KGB of the Soviet Union. ... The following is a partial list of current intelligence agencies. ... This is a list of current secret police organizations. ... A closed-circuit television camera. ... Law Enforcement Agency (LEA) is a generic term used for local and state police, as well as federal agencies (such as the FBI, the BATF, DHS, Europol, Interpol, etc. ... A German newspapers final issue, announcing its own prohibition (Verbot) by the police authorities on the basis of the Reichstag fire decree The Reichstag Fire Decree (Reichstagsbrandverordnung in German) is the common name of the decree issued by German president Paul von Hindenburg in direct response to the Reichstag... Because of both the secrecy of secret services and the controversial nature of the issues involved, there is some difficulty in separating the definitions of secret service, secret police, intelligence agency etc. ... For architecture, see Stalinist architecture. ... For other uses, see Surveillance (disambiguation). ... The Imperial Secret Service. ... The agentes in rebus were the Roman imperial courier service that replaced the unpopular frumentarii, sometime during the late 3rd century A.D. under Emperor Diocletian, or perhaps around the year 319 A.D. As a result of the reforms of Diocletian, the frumentarii were disbanded; their sinister reputation had...


  1. ^ The Nature of a Secret Police, Retrieved on October 29, 2007
  2. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th Edition, vol. 25, p. 965, © 2003, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.
  3. ^ Arturo Bocchini and the Secret Political Police in Fascist Italy, Retrieved on October 29, 2007
  4. ^ How Syrian Hackers are Outsurfing the Mukhabarat, Retrieved on October 29, 2007
  5. ^ Symposium - Nonviolent Civilian Insurrection in Iraq, Retrieved on October 29, 2007
  6. ^ Iraq’s Rebuke to the NRA, Retrieved on October 29, 2007
  7. ^ Torture: Egypt’s Open Secret, Retrieved on October 29, 2007
  8. ^ R. J. Stove, The Unsleeping Eye: A Brief History of Secret Police and Their Victims, Encounter Books, San Francisco, © 2003 ISBN 1-893554-66-X

External links

  • High Policing: The Protection of National Security
  • MSNBC - Domestic spying vs. secret police
  • Proposal for a Privacy Protection Guideline on Secret Personal Data Gathering and Transborder Flows of Such Data in the Fight against Terrorism and Serious Crime by Marcel Stuessi

  Results from FactBites:
Secret Police (390 words)
The first secret police, called the Cheka, was established in December 1917 as a temporary institution to be abolished once Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks had consolidated their power.
Joseph Stalin and Lavrenti Beria, a Soviet political leader and official in the secret police during the Stalin era of leadership, enjoying a rest at a dacha (a Russian country cottage).
Although the post-Stalin secret police, the KGB, no longer inflicted such large-scale purges, terror, and forced depopulation on the peoples of the Soviet Union, it continued to be used by the Kremlin leadership to suppress political and religious dissent.
secret police. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001-05 (1491 words)
In extreme cases such a secret police force may even have its own courts and prisons, and its activities are kept secret not only from the mass of the population but also from the legislative, judiciary, and executive authorities of the state, except at the topmost level.
Some argue that secret police forces have always been primarily concerned with the security of the state and that they are invariably created by governmental action, but this is not the case.
Among the earliest secret police forces organized along modern lines were the Venetian Inquisition (see Ten, Council of) and the Oprichina of Czar Ivan IV of Russia.
  More results at FactBites »



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