Students in the U.S. are taught about how the U.S. Constitution establishes three “co-equal” branches of government, Legislative, Executive, and Judicial, with transparency and accountability to voters being essential to each. What we don’t get taught is how a fourth branch has grown and emerged in the 60+ years since World War II and the rise of the military-industrial complex. That complex of which Eisenhower warned, has grown enormously since events of 9/11/01. What now exists is essentially a fourth branch of government that is not only not accountable to the people, but is not even visible to them. We, the people, see only the tips of the complex in the physical pat-downs and naked-body scanners at airports. It is far more extensive than that. Any discussion of modern day political economy or government budget priorities must take this fourth branch into account. Unfortunately, in our political rhetoric it now appears that this top-secret security complex is the new “untouchable third rail” of politics, replacing Social Security.
The Washington Post has created an excellent mix of videos, articles, data, graphs, and maps describing this complex. It is an excellent research resource for students. You can find it here.