from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A police force operating largely in secret and often using terror tactics to suppress dissent and political opposition.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A police force operating in secrecy and outside the normal boundaries of law, usually in support of a totalitarian government to suppress political dissent.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a police force that operates in secrecy (usually against persons suspected of treason or sedition)


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  • "In 1950 the American republic was quietly retired and its place taken by the National Security State, set up secretly and outlined in a document not to be made public for twenty-five years, the National Security Council Memorandum 68. War and Navy Departments were combined into a single 'Defense' Department while the CIA, an unconstitutional secret police, was invented. The NSC-68 established the imperial blueprint that governed the world until the recent crack-up of the Soviet Union, which happened not as a result of our tactics of ongoing wars, and an arms race that they could not afford, but was due to the internal fragility of an artificial state which was, in a sense, a crude mirror of our own, now falling apart, as well, through debt and internal ethnic wars."

    — Gore Vidal, 'Truman', The Independent Magazine, 3 October 1992.

    February 17, 2009