Ever since leaks regarding the depth of NSA surveillance went public, there’s been a lot of “paranoid” talk. Revelations of this magnitude make it clear that we cannot trust our governments to abstain from these kinds of activities or to be honest with us about them. Naturally, this leads to questions about what else they’re hiding. What do they plan to do with all the intelligence they’re gathering, and what might they resort to in an “emergency”?

A quick web search brings up plenty of outlandish suggestions, like martial law, “false flag” terrorist attacks and “FEMA” internment camps. Given the context of secret societies and space-aliens, it’s often hard to take these allegations seriously. Honestly, I’m not much for Alex Jones, but am willing to admit that there is often a kernel of truth, or at least a little historical precedent to back them up.

Most people have about the internment of Japanese-Canadians and Americans during the Second World War. It’s one of the darkest chapters of our history and a frightening reminder that Hitler and his Holocaust weren’t as exceptional as we now like to claim. What’s not widely known and managed to remain secret until a few years ago is that this wasn’t the end of our government’s internment schemes. Under a plan named “Profunc”, lists were made of “prominent functionaries” in the Communist movement and plans made to arrest them and their families en masse in the event of a “national emergency”. This program and its lists remained in place until the 1980s, and while it was never enacted on a national scale, the individuals it targeted suffered for decades through “preventative” arrests and no-fly-list style restrictions.

Make no mistake: this can happen, even in Canada. It almost did.

Today documents are coming out of the Pentagon detailing new plans for domestic militarization. The Cold War has been replaced by 21st century threats like climate change, plagues and economic collapse. Instead of the “red menace”, we now have vague references to civil unrest and “domestic insurgencies”. We can only hope that these schemes, too, will die a quiet death and be filed away somewhere dark and remote. Even if we are so lucky, though, these documents and others should prove one thing: governments will do anything to maintain control if they get desperate enough.

Tonight’s movie comes from the CBC’s Fifth Estate. Enemies of the State tells the story of Profunc, its discovery and and the people who came to be on its lists.