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"'A matter of internal security.' The age-old cry of the oppressor."
Captain Jean-Luc Picard: Star Trek: The Next Generation, "The Hunted"

State Sec(urity) is a civilian agency or political entity that has its own paramilitary forces — especially an organization of Secret Police on steroids, existing to enforce an ideology or support the government. They're sometimes part of the government, sometimes not, but always part of one country, and normally bad news.

The most powerful versions are autonomous from the regular government and military. These can be vast organizations, where spying is just one responsibility; they may also have regular military forces (sometimes better-equipped than the regular army), regime-protection troops, a political and administrative division, a propaganda division, an R&D division, and any number of other subdivisions. And to make sure State Security stays loyal, there could be an elite force within the organization to keep it in check.


The trope gets its name from the Honor Harrington book series, where the People's Republic of Haven's Department of State Security ("State Sec") has its own Space Navy, Space Marines, Army, intelligence organizations, and so on. This was in turn inspired by the Real Life Schutzstaffel of Nazi Germany, which had the elite Waffen-SS which was pretty much a second German Army for the Nazi party, the Allgemeine-SS which ran the damn thing, and literally any other responsibility that Himmler could talk Hitler into giving him. With such a precedent, this trope has a way of coinciding with Putting on the Reich.

This is an extremely common Real Life trope, and is Older Than They Think. Political intrigues and favoritism can lead to Interservice Rivalry with the Regular Army. Mega-Corp and N.G.O. Superpower are when corporate or other non-governmental entities wield similar levels of influence, infrastructure and paramilitary power.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Black Cat has Chronos, a world-wide peacekeeping organization that amongst other things has a division of elite assassins (which the main character Train was once a part of), units of special forces troops, a world-wide intelligence network and multiple R&D divisions working on various research projects (like nanotech).
  • Rare heroic example in Ghost in the Shell, as the protagonists are part of Public Security Section Nine. They operate with great autonomy, are only ever seen reporting to the Prime Minister or the Minster of Home Affairs, regularly violate laws which would bind other governmental organizations, and thanks to virtually no oversight, almost never get caught doing so. While Section Nine itself is only a small elite team of mostly ex-military operatives with a small support staff and a lot of cutting-edge equipment, they are still only one of at least eight other Public Security Sections, each with a different structure and area of responsibility. What little is known about the other Sections places them more within government control. Section 1 covers internal investigations within Japan, similar to the FBI. Section 4 is a group of Rangers, like the Navy Seals. Section 6 works like the CIA. Other sections fill in roles similar to the Drug Enforcement Agency and medical investigations.
  • The Gundam franchise seems to have something of a love affair with this trope. Some notable examples include:
    • The Titans, the main antagonists of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. They eventually take over the regular Federation Forces and become a de facto military dictatorship. They manage to be even more Nazi-like then their predecessors, the Principality of Zeon from Mobile Suit Gundam (ironically, their original stated purpose was to eliminate Zeon remnant groups).
      • The Titans are replaced following the First Neo-Zeon War with Londo Bell, which, since it is run by Bright Noa, is a far more moral example that doesn't abuse its authority. That said, it is still an autonomous military force outside the regular chain of command, with its official mission statement being to hunt down Zeon upstarts. The fact a Second Neo-Zeon War starts invites accusations of them not doing their job.
      • This also explains why by the time Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn takes place, the Feddies are revealed to have established another Titans replacement called the ECOAS "Manhunter" unit. But while its job more or less is to do the sort of wetworks that Londo Bell would never do, a sense of duty, professionalism and a grounded awareness of being Necessarily Evil keep it from becoming just like the Titans.
    • The A-Laws (Autonomous Peace-Keeping Force) from Mobile Suit Gundam 00, who are obvious expies of the Titans. They're autonomous from the regular military, with access to secret police, and under the direct command of Ribbons. Interestingly enough, the organization had different levels of trust: Those who have no idea what the A-Laws are really doing, the ruthless top brass who knew what the A-laws were doing but remained mere pawns, and the Innovades who really knew really what was going on.
    • The Organization of the Zodiac in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing is an interesting case, zig-zagging as the series went on. While officially part of the Alliance military as a elite force, it was secretly the Romefeller Foundation's military wing. After eliminating the Alliance, OZ becomes the regular army for the Romefeller government.
    • Phantom Pain in Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny is a downplayed version - it's a special forces group used to support the radical Blue Cosmos faction. They get to use advanced (but illegal) technology, has skilled personnel, and are autonomous from the regular chain of command. But despite being used to expand Blue Cosmos' and LOGOS's agendas, the group mostly uses standard Alliance uniforms and don't seem to be ideologically charged as other examples.
  • Hellsing - In the anime, the titular anti-vampire Organization has a paramilitary vibe. The group has a number of well armed, equipped, and trained soldiers used to take out said vampires. Contrasted in the manga and OVA, where the troops are limited to being the Red Shirt Army.
  • Phantom in Innocent Venus specializes in putting down "rebellions", which basically means help the plutocracy oppress the poor. With Humongous Mecha.
  • While Capitol Police from Kerberos Saga are only limited to operating within Tokyo, they have a fairly impressive array of different forces under their control. They have a more traditional Secret Police in the form of Public Security Division, but they also have a helicopter unit, armoured cars, a sniper team and most famously the Special Armed Garrison a.k.a. "Kerberos Panzer Cops", a paramilitary force armed with Protect Gear and MG42 belt fed machine guns. Violent Inter Service Rivalry that erupts within the organization and threatens the existence of Kerberos unit is the central focus of the plot in Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade and Kerberos Panzer Cop
  • NERV from Neon Genesis Evangelion. They are not only funded directly by the UN (but actually controlled by SEELE), they have special legal protection and are the sole organization operating Evas. There was one instance where an American admiral was forced to cooperate by a NERV captain which shouldn't be possible in real life; in another example, the same captain requested a prototype weapon from the Japanese military and immediately got it without any red tape. It is said that their expenses involving Eva repairs and collateral damage could immediately bankrupt a small country. They also happen to have an Elaborate Underground Base as their main headquarters, a Captured Super-Entity in the basement, as well as control over an entire city.
  • The Imperial Guard of the Great Garmillas Empire in Space Battleship Yamato 2199. The empire's supreme leader, Abelt Dessler, transforms the Imperial Guard into a massive organization that sustains his regime through secret police activities, and with weapons and warships that rival those of the military. The director of the Imperial Guard, Hydom Gimleh, does not hesitate to arrest two of the most powerful and respected military commanders for conspiring to assassinate Dessler and have them sentenced to death on minimal evidence. The Guard subjugates conquered worlds and species, and responds to one planet's protests against the empire with a massive air and space bombardment that annihilates most of the population.

    Comic Books 
  • Block 109: There are actually two opposing ones within Alternate History Nazi Germany. The SS became Heydrich's personal organization after Himmler became Fuehrer (Hitler was assassinated and everyone else in the line of succession was killed in the purge that followed), but Himmler also created the Teutonic Order as a rival organization led by an unknown officer named Zytek so that neither Heydrich or Zytek could become too powerful and depose him. This backfired when Himmler was assassinated anyway and the Reich council promoted Zytek.
  • The Alpha Lanterns of the Green Lantern Corps fit this trope. Created to act as an Internal Affairs force for the GLs, they are armed with two power rings, made into cyborgs with Manhunter technology that allows them to drain other rings of power, have built in power batteries to negate the need to recharge, and have their personalities erased in favor of a direct mental link to the Book of Oa and Central Power Battery, thus removing any impurities which may color their interpretation of the Guardian's laws. Which may prevent them from becoming Knight Templar Well Intentioned Extremists powerful enough to take down the entire GLC (seriously, with the rest of that description they're practically asking for it), but doesn't make the Guardians look particularly heroic...

    As it turns out, the Alpha Lanterns hasn't prevented that at all, especially not with Cyborg Superman taking control of them. Earth's GLs, quite understandably, gave a collective What The Hell Guardians somewhere between "Manhunter technology" and "personality erased". (Although the Alpha Lanterns themselves insist their personalities haven't been erased, just intensely focused; but then, they would think that, wouldn't they?) Their extreme resemblance to the Manhunters shows that even when you are semi-omniscient and immortal, you can't learn from history.
    • In Final Crisis, Granny Goodness possesses Alpha Lantern Kraken, captures Batman, and tries to steal the Central Power Battery. Real infallible, and Hal Jordan points it out.
  • Judge Dredd: Justice Department is so big that it has several Black Ops agencies with their own forces. After they were all consolidated following the Day of Chaos, they even tried to overthrow the Chief Judge in a coup during the "Trifecta" arc.
  • The Kree Empire from Marvel Comics has the Accuser Corps led by Ronan the Accuser.
  • Secret Wars (2015) gives us the Thor Corps, a group of multiversal Thors, many of them not the Odinson himself, who patrol Battleworld an enforce the laws granted to them by their All-Father, Doctor Doom.
  • S.H.I.E.L.D. from Marvel Comics is a intelligence and counter-terrorist agency, that has some pretty spiffy military hardware, including a flying aircraft carrier armed with an ICBM and a squadron of jets.

    Fan Works 
  • In Aeon Natum Engel and its rewrite Aeon Entelechy Evangelion has a such efficient State Sec that it makes the state sec of the source material, Cthulhu Tech, look downright lazy. It also makes the "Everything is falling apart" scenario from the latter's sourcebooks impossible.
  • In the Daria Fan Fic Expanded Universe, look no further than the organization known as DELPHI, with the motto Praemonitus, praemunitus (' Forewarned is forearmed '). If your favorite spy shtick hasn't been yet used by or about DELPHI - just you wait...
  • In Origins, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands/Halo Massive Multiplayer Crossover, the Republic Intelligence Service is looking more and more like this trope, considering they use questionable scientific methods in the name of a "greater good," bully the actual democratic government into doing what they want, and condone assassination attempts (which, given the target, is a really bad idea!)
  • In Starcrossed, it is revealed that Section 31 actually has a powerful fleet of warships... real warships, not the normal Federation universal purpose vessels. They get a few shots at the invaders, but generally suffer rather badly from the Worf Effect. Also a bad case of Moral Dissonance.
  • True to the games,Tiberium Wars portrays the Brotherhood of Nod's Black Hand as this. They're a separate army that operates under its own command structure, answering only to Kane. One of the GDI intelligence reports states that Black Hand units are dispatched to troubled areas with civil unrest to reestablish order, among other things, and Black Hand officers of significantly lower rank are able to overrule high-ranking Nod officers.
  • The Uplifted series explores the personal side of the rivalries held between the Wehrmacht and the SS, both of whom have nothing but contempt for the other group. The writer doesn't play favorites, having a prominent Prussian call his protagonist a "Well dressed ditch digger." Ouch.
  • Fallout: Equestria: Applejack's Ministry of Wartime Technology created the Steel Rangers, a force of Power Armor equipped soldiers that fought alongside the Royal Army and later became the analogue to Fallout's Brotherhood of Steel. Not to be outdone by her old friend, Twilight Sparkle's Ministry of Arcane Science attempted to create their own force of alicorn demigoddess super soldiers, which backfired horribly, creating the analogue to the Master and the Super Mutants.
  • The Office of Special Resources in The Universiad, The Unfettered Token Evil Teammate who tick off most of the criteria on the list. They are outside and above the chain of command of the Forum's official military services. Their leader reports direct to the Moderators. As the name suggests, they have the final word on Forum resources. They have their own intelligence and R&D arms and their technology and training is far beyond all the rest, such that even an OSR "grunt" is superior to most other Forum special forces. Only their comparatively low numbers prevent any coup attempt from being a Curb-Stomp Battle, and even then heavy casualties are expected.
  • The Intelligence and Reconnaissance Department (IRD) is the state security of the Demon Empire in Sonic X: Dark Chaos. They are outside the military and follow only Beelzebub's orders. The Erelim is a more benign version of this for the Angel Federation.
  • The Alternate History leading up to Ambience: Platoon (Moebius Four) seems to have made SEAL Team Six into this. While they are highly classified in reality, one suspects they don't quite have the resources they're shown to have here. They're on the side of good, but the protagonist is acutely aware that they're not telling him everything.
  • The Guarsai of Zaldia in RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse are a fairly standard version of this trope.
  • Pacific: World War II U.S. Navy Shipgirls: Nihon Kaigun Tokusentai, the force in charge of Japan's shipgirls, has no oversight and answers to no one but itself.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The United States Police Force in Escape from New York and Escape from L.A., serving a near-future dystopian America.
  • The Federal Police in the rather unsettling American 1930s movie Gabriel Over the White House.
  • The Girl From Monday: Triple M has police in menacing black military-style uniforms, helmets and carrying rifles patrolling the streets at all times, taking away dissidents wherever they are found.
  • Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion: The day he kills Augusta Terzl is the inspector's last day in homicide, as he has been promoted to head of Political Intelligence — which is State Sec, a secret police charged with ferreting out subversives and communists. Phone tapping is rampant, torture is part of the job. The inspector gives a fascist speech to his minions in which he says that political opposition is the same thing as crime.
    Inspector: Repression is civilization!
  • The Immediate Action Organization in Alternate History film It Happened Here, a tale of Britain under German occupation with a Vichy-style government. Also represented are the Blackshirts, the Real Life British Fascist counterpart to the German SA (Brownshirts).
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
  • A Pearl in the Forest, a Mongolian film set in 1937 when Mongolia was a Soviet satellite and Joseph Stalin's purges were well underway, features as its villain a Mongolian State Sec officer and Buryat tribesman. He has led his fellow State Sec thugs to his own village to hunt down ethnic Buryats who have escaped from the Soviet Union and taken refuge in Mongolia.
  • The Korean Central Intelligence Agency's true function, as explained in The President's Last Bang by President Park to KCIA director Kim.
    Park: [to Kim] You're supposed to beat and scare the shit out of people.
  • The Rehabs of RoboCop 3. These "Urban Rehabilitators" are supposed to help augment the Detroit Police in fighting crime. In reality, they're cold blooded mercenaries that force people out of their homes and wipe out any resistance.
  • The Special Police Force in Sleeping Dogs that is established to counter guerrilla activity when civil war breaks out. They were blue uniforms and berets, working alongside ordinary army troops in a paramilitary capacity.
  • In Star Trek Into Darkness, it's implied that Section 31 under Admiral Marcus is trying to become one of these - having developed its own weapons and privately operating a unregistered, powerful warship. In addition, its personnel have their own distinct uniforms, and work to advance Marcus' own agenda.
  • Star Wars examples.
    • In a somewhat heroic example, Jedi largely fit the concept in their role in the Republic government.
    • Several members of the Separatist movement, including the Trade Federation and the Intergalactic Banking Clan, are Mega Corps rather than nations yet have their own droid armies and even seats in the Senate.
    • Imperial stormtroopers seem to serve as this in the films, as they're not just elite troops but are also an ubiquitous sight within the Empire's cities and space stations, keeping their "order" (the name comes from the Nazis, with the SS having the same dual roles, albeit in separate branches).
    • For more, see the larger entries in Literature.
  • Where Hands Touch: The SS, who are seen frequently making checks of people's papers or rounding them up. Some of them humiliate Leyna's friend Gunter (as he's secretly a Jew) then shoot him dead in the street.

  • During the Cold War, a Russian man is staying at a hotel when his neighbors come in and start socializing loudly. He gets an idea, calls room service and asks them to bring tea to the neighbors' room, then goes to meet them. Four minutes later, he grabs the ashtray, puts it close to his mouth, and says "Comrade Major, could we have some tea please?" The tea arrives and the neighbors are now completely silent, even after the man leaves and goes to sleep. In the morning, he wakes up and sees that his neighbors are gone, and asks about them at the reception. The receptionist says that they were taken away by the secret police in the night, and when the man asks why he wasn't taken, she tells him "The thing with the ashtray? Comrade Major thought it was funny."

  • The Acts of Caine — The story is set in a Crapsack World. The mirror masks of the Social Police are iconic of this.
  • Dreamland from Dale Brown books are a top secret USAF unit who, while sometimes seconded to regular commands, frequently act beyond the remit of the conventional military, engaging in black ops around the world with the aid of Cool Planes and other advanced technology. In their Night Stalkers/Sky Masters, Inc./Scion/Whatever-it-is-today incarnations they are more of a N.G.O. Superpower. They're the heroes, though generally seen as loose cannons by others.
  • The Culture has Contact and Special Circumstances, which nominally act as its diplomatic and secret services. During wartime, both groups serve the Culture in a military capacity.
  • In The Empress Game, the Imperial Diplomatic Corps seems more a spy agency and security force than a real diplomatic service, though it's possible it has actual diplomatic functions we don't see.
  • The Iron Guard in Hammer's Slammers is hinted to be this trope. Personally loyal to President-For–Life Van Vorn, the Guard were "political bullies" rather than actual soldiers.
  • The Seekers in Terry Brooks's The Heritage of Shannara are the Secret Police of The Federation (actually The Empire), dedicated to tracking down political enemies and magic users. They also have their own elite military units, and hold the leashes of The Creepers, the most effective weapon in The Federation's arsenal. Throw in the massive clout that their leader, Rimmer Dall has, and it's easy enough to see why the Seekers are so feared.
  • The Trope Namer is the Office of State Security (State Sec) in the Honor Harrington universe.
    • The People's Republic of Haven's FBI, CIA, and Department of Corrections all in one, with its own parallel army and navy, prison planets, political officers, and thought police. It is not coincidental at all that they're commonly referred to as "SS".
    • This is in contrast with Internal Security - the previous regime's Secret Police, before they were overthrown. The Legislaturists were not as centralized and used multiple services, including the Mental Hygiene Police. When the Committee of Public Safety comes to power, they reorganized the security apparatus into the ruthless State Security.
    • That said, not all StateSec characters in the series are villains. More than a few of them eventually become opposed to the Committee, for reasons ranging from idealism (Victor Cachat) to self-serving pragmatism (Erasmus Fontein).
    • After the fall of the People's Republic, many State Sec warships flee Havenite space, becoming Former Regime Personnel. Two are destroyed by HMS Hexapuma in Shadow of Saganami. Those two, along with many more, were hired by Mesa, and eventually sent against Torch. They failed thanks to the intervention of Commodore Luis Roszak, whose Solarian forces took a serious pounding.
    • Mesa has large, quasi-military police forces to stamp out rebellions among the slaves and near-slaves that make up most of the planet's population, from the more police-like Mesan Internal Security Directorate to the more heavily armed Mesan Planetary Peaceforce, with access to everything up to and including orbital strikes.
  • The Jenkinsverse: Subverted. Aliens are, by and large, peaceful and not used to crime, so there isn't even a bare minimum of state security. Humans are repeatedly shocked by how much they can get away with simply because no one bothered to put any cameras anywhere. There aren't even cameras in banks.
  • The venerable Lensman series features a rare heroic example: the Galactic Patrol, which over the years evolves from a QUANGO intelligence/security outfit to a huge military-industrial complex with major political clout. If written today, it would arguably be a subversion, as they use their wide-ranging powers strictly in the defense of the common welfare and support an otherwise rather hands-off, decentralized federal government. Ironically, the totalitarian alien empire who are their main enemies also do not seem to have anything analogous until late in the series.
  • Implied in Vengeance for Nikolai by Walter M. Miller Jr. America is taken over by a fascist government which starts a war with the Soviet Union. Separate from the Army are the Blue Shirts, who are overly nationalistic and brutal in their interrogations of Soviet POWs.
  • In Victoria, the Christian Marines are a Designated Hero example of this in the Northern Confederation. A militia of former policemen and military veterans who are the ideological backbone of the Confederation's right-wing regime, they spearhead its armies and perform internal-security functions in peacetime.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: The Barrayaran Ministry of Political Education. Emperor Ezar's right hand during much of his rule, they thought themselves to be the power behind the throne, until Ezar made them one of the scapegoats for the failed Escobaran invasion, having recognised the danger they represented. His left hand, Imperial Security, is a much more constrained organization, wholly dedicated to the continuation of the Barrayaran Imperium, but also bound in what they can do by Barrayaran law and tradition. ImpSec aren't above cultivating a reputation as scary state security forces, but have the fortune of being led by Simon Illyan, who got a very small taste of what really evil state security forces are capable of and decided he wanted no part of that.note 
  • In The Machineries of Empire, the Vidona are responsible for enforcing the Doctorine in the Hexarchate. They're noted as being the most dogmatic of the six factions, as they have to make sure the calendar is preserved.
  • The Noon Universe by Strugatsky Brothers has the COMCON-2. Ironically, no matter how "real" and "honest to goodness" Communism is, it can't do without a State Sec.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe has several, such as:
    • COMPNOR (Commission for the Preservation of the New Order), which is basically the Empire's equivalent of the SS. It has an executive committee, its own military and intelligence wings, a social engineering agency, and its own youth group. The Imperial Security Bureau, one branch, has the responsibility of, among other things, rooting out spies and traitors in the Imperial ranks, as well as hunting down rebel cells. They have their own ISB stormtroopers.
    • In some ways, the Jedi act this way given the allegiance to the Republic as opposed to simply the Light Side of the Force. In addition, their level of power gives them a fearsome reputation that they are willing to use to their advantage in both The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones as "keepers of the peace".
    • Rebels features the Inquisitorius, a secret division consisting of dark side Force-sensitive agents tasked by Emperor Palpatine to hunt down the remaining Jedi. The Imperial Security Bureau also makes an appearance in the form of Agent Kallus.
    • We find out in Poe Dameron that the Imperial successor state, the First Order, has a successor agency to the ISB called the First Order Security Bureau.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Corellia's Public Safety Service, which used to be the nobler law-enforcement agency the Corellian Security Force.
    • Star Wars: The Old Republic gives us Imperial Intelligence of the resurgent Sith Empire. It was quite possibly the most deadly and feared organization the galaxy has ever seen at the time, responsible not only for intelligence gathering but internal security, with its own private army and navy that operated separate of the regular military's chain of command to enforce order on Imperial planets.
    • In Legends, the ISB could take over entire Star Destroyers at a whim, run the Navy through illegal tests of character without telling anyone, and killing anyone who failed without going through any procedures until Vader himself cracked down on them. They do all of those things in Star Wars: Allegiance; in particular, ISB Colonel Vak Somoril leads a Star Destroyer around by manipulating its captain's ambition and paranoia. They also had plants on every ship with orders to kill head officers and take over if they mutinied or deserted, and their own ranks of stormtroopers and both obvious and covert ships and military equipment.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The United Nations Special Service Unit in Amerika.
  • Babylon 5 had the Psi Corps; and to a lesser extent Nightwatch. The authority of the Psi Corps is officially limited to matters dealing with telepaths. The Nightwatch is a more straightforward example, with them being a purely political organization by the dictatorial Clark regime. Word of God has it that Nightwatch even absorbed Homeguard, a well-armed terrorist group opposed to alien affairs.
  • Colony: Post Alien Invasion, the occupied American cities (or at least, the Los Angeles blocs) are patrolled by militarized Department of Homeland Security forces that report to the Colonial Transitional Authority.
    • Season 2 introduces the "Blackjacks", who serve as the intelligence and enforcement arm of the Global Authority, with even the power to boss around local CTA forces in the colonies and carry out the mass rendition of entire blocs.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Lengthy serial "The Daleks' Master Plan" has Space Security. Although human, and opposing the Daleks and their evil plan, these black-clad paramilitary agents of the year 4000 execute people at the drop of a hat (one even kills her own brother simply because she's been ordered to). Notable for the presence of Nicholas Courtney (who went on to play The Brigadier, as well as the fascist "Brigade Leader" in an alternative universe in "Inferno"). Ironically, Space Security were to be the heroes of the never-made spin-off series Daleks.
    • Another SS-like force are the Kaled guards led by Security Commander Nyder in "Genesis of the Daleks".
  • The Handmaid's Tale: The black-clad Guardians patrolling everywhere serve as these.
  • In Kamen Rider Dragon Knight, there is a secret organization called the No Men. Their job includes protecting the world from potentially dangerous aliens and even capture one of the heroes who they feel could be a threat. They've even gone to the length of infiltrating a blogging site to play down the conspiracies that are being uncovered.
  • The Last Ship:
    • The multipart story that composes the very end of Season 1 and start of Season 2 features rogue elements of the Maryland State Police who are acting in this capacity for Amy Granderson, who has set themselves up as a warlord in Baltimore.
    • Season 3 makes use of China's Ministry of State Security, a real life example of this trope.
  • In the Sliders episode "Fever", the West Coast is fraught with deadly diseases thanks to non-existent modern medicine, leaving control of society in the hands of the California Health Commission. On the surface, it's a standard public health agency, but has its own army to forcibly throw citizens into quarantine zones.
  • Star Trek:
    • The Romulans have the Tal Shiar, which not only act as an intelligence agency, but have their own ships and ranking system. Similarly, the Cardassians have the Obsidian Order, which has elements of this trope despite being officially restricted to Secret Police level. Both organizations compete enthusiastically with their government's official military. However, prior to the Dominion War, they worked together to attempt wipe out the Dominion, only to find out the hard way they are fell right into their enemy's trap and got their clocks thoroughly cleaned. The Tal Shiar did manage to recover from the loss, and continued to have some power on Romulus. The Order, however, was effectively wiped out, allowing the Cardassian dissident movement to return control of Cardassia to civilian authorities.
    • Averted with the Klingons. Despite being created to serve as a counterpart to the Soviet Union, the Klingons were never shown or established to have their own version of the KGB. In Expanded Universe, though, the Klingons are revealed to have Imperial Intelligence, which also acts the part of the Secret Police. There is plenty of Interservice Rivalry between the IDF and the II. The former despise the underhanded tactics employed by the spooks, and the latter consider the warriors to be dumb grunts.
    • The Ferengi's Intimidating Revenue Service has characteristics of State Sec as well, as it is powerful enough to depose the Grand Nagus and its Liquidators often hound individuals for years.
    • Averted with the shadowy Section 31. While so secret that even the Federation Council and President are (supposedly) not aware of its existence, free from any official government oversight to protect The Federation at all costs, they don't maintain their own paramilitary forces (their operatives and supporters in Starfleet handle things when a bit of muscle is needed for a plan).
    • Averted with the Obsidian Order. Despite being The Dreaded Secret Police of the Cardassians, they're forbidden from having any warships, presumably to maintain a Balance of Power between the military and intelligence divisions. This becomes a plot point in Season 3 when it's discovered they've been constructing a secret fleet.
  • Blake's 7 had the black-clad Gas Mask Mooks of the Terran Federation, though the exact relationship between the Federation military and its Secret Police was ill-defined. Some soldiers are stated as being Security, others are elite guard units working for high-ranking figures, others are implied to be ordinary military units carrying out the dirty work of oppression.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., spinning off directly from the MCU, has S.H.I.E.L.D. as described above, as this, particularly in season one. They've had their ups and downs (mostly the latter) since, though, spending much of the series' run as an officially disavowed organization that has to operate on its own authority.

  • Destine Enormity: Arcadia's superpowered State Sec is called the Elite. They encompass all the functions of the government, but are most often seen fighting the rebels or investigating traitors.
  • Sirene's Reichsnachrichten from Open Blue is somewhere between this and Cloak & Dagger. It still primarily deals with intelligence, but also includes a special forces detachment and Secret Police modeled after the Gestapo.
  • The Triarian Civilis Protectione from Void of the Stars are a great example.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech
    • Many governments have such organizations. Some of the most notorious are the Capellan Confederation's Maskirovka, the Draconis Combine's ISF (Internal Security Force), and the Lyran Commonwealth's Loki. Loki once almost took over their government, while the ISF is known for its Jurisdiction Friction with the Draconis Elite Strike Force (DEST) and for regularly being infiltrated and corrupted by the Black Dragon Society.
    • ComStar, a combination of a Mega-Corp and a quasi-religious order dedicated to preserving Lost Technology, has its own military known as the ComGuards who were instrumental in defeating the Clan invaders. They also have their own State Sec organization: ROM, who terrified even the State Sec organizations of other countries.
  • CthulhuTech gives us the Office of Internal Security and considering the type of world it's in you know that they have to have a lot of firepower.
  • Hunter: The Vigil features Task Force VALKYRIE; a paramilitary organization run by the United States government tasked with countering supernatural threats to the America.
  • The Old World of Darkness had the Technocracy, a group of mages that was very much interested maintaining the world's current status quo. Amongst other things it included New World Order Men In Black, cyborg Super Soldiers, genetically engineered monsters and whole bunch of other crap.
  • Internal Security, or IntSec in Paranoia.
  • The Imperial Interstellar Scout Service in Traveller is a downplayed version of this. While most of it's work is done by small groups in the back of beyond, it has a number of hand-me-down Imperial Naval vessels as well as it's own SWAT-team style Space Police commandos.
  • The Imperium of Warhammer 40,000, being incredibly vast, has several to varying degrees:
    • The Inquisition - the original and most iconic of the Imperium's State Sec. They're divided into three main groups: the Ordo Xenos deals with aliens (mostly genestealer cults, and Tau since they can be negotiated with), Ordo Hereticus roots out heresy and the Ordo Malleus kills (burns) witches. They also have entire fleets of starships to send newly detected psykers off to Terra for training and soul-binding. Note that for all their repressive methods, Black and White Insanity and murderous approach to orthodoxy, the Inquisition is actually necessary- psykers who aren't trained in mastering their curse end up falling to Chaos.
    • The Adeptus Mechanicus. Technically speaking, the Machine Cult isn't Imperium at all, it's the separate (semi-)independent human empire that just happens to be in personal union with The Emperor himself and works with the rest of the Imperium only because of a treaty with the Emperor. The Inquisition is highly suspicious about them, and not always without a reason.
      • The Prefecture Magisterium is an internal Admech State Sec that serves as a cross between Inquisitors of the Omnissian Creed and the SCP Foundation, securing dangerous relics and artifacts in stasis vaults after disposing of their previous owners. Their enforcers are the Malagra, dedicated hunter-priests who are infamous enough to make Space Marine kill-teams wary of encroaching on their turf. They frequently clash with the Inquisiton over jurisdiction.
    • Other notable organizations include the Adeptus Arbites, the Officio Assassinorum, certain space Marine Chapters, and the Adepta Sororitas.
    • The Ecclesiarchy has the Frateris Militia, as well as the Witch Hunters - who are not to be confused with the other witch hunters, the Ordo Hereticus, who are part of the Inquisition.
    • The Adeptus Terra operates the Officio Sabatorum and the Templars Psykologis.
    • The Administratum has the Logis Strategos.

    Video Games 
  • Blue Planet has the Fedayeen, a paramilitary shadow organization working behind the scenes of the otherwise very benevolent United Earth Federation. The Fedayeen consciously eschew the ethics and morals of the rest of their society, doing whatever is necessary to safeguard people, no matter how monstrous. However, they keep a tight lid on their agents: they are constantly reminded that Necessarily Evil is still evil, and excess atrocities are punished severely (it helps that it's practically impossible to keep a secret from their leadership, which is a gestalt mind made up of the combination of all their thoughts and emotions. The Fedayeen know what their agents are thinking and why they do what they do, so they can judge intent with perfect clarity). They are so secretive that most people believe them to be nothing but myth, a thing for conspiracy theorists to rant about, but the results they get speak for themselves in their effectiveness.
    "If the Federation is everything the Elders hoped humanity could become, we are everything they feared it would have to."
  • In Code Geass: Lost Colors, in the Order of the Black Knights good ending the Black Knights become a benevolent version of this. Formerly fighting against the oppressive Holy Brittanian Empire, they agree to lay down their arms and rededicate themselves to defending the Special Administrative Zone Princess Euphemia sets up to allow the former Japan to govern itself. Compared to how things turned out in the original anime, it's a pretty happy ending.
  • In the Command & Conquer games, the Black Hand of Nod fits the trope. It started out as Kane's personal body guard, developed into a religious secret police and special ops group, then eventually became a subfaction of its own. By the Third game expansion, the Black Hand have their own military, political and religious wings, and act as a second army of Nod. Also, it's not a coincidence that it shares the name of the organization that was behind the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which started The First World War. It's pretty much stated that that was them.
  • In the manual of Command & Conquer: Red Alert states that the Soviet's NKVD adds 7 million troops to their strength of 14 million regulars. Compare this to the setting's Allies, whose military strength (regular and irregular forces), is about 5 million total at the game's beginning.
  • In the Crusader games, SecCart (Security Cartel) handles defense and security for all WEC facilities and personnel. Given the corporate-fascist nature of the game's setting, this means they also handle police, intelligence, and so on.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The series has the Thalmor, who are, on a basic level, essentially a militarized, radical Altmeri (High Elf) political party with extremist religious and Secret Police elements. Following the devastating events of the Oblivion Crisis, the Thalmor (then only a marginal group) took the credit for resolving the Crisis, winning them massive populist support in their homeland. They quickly rose to the highest ranks of the Altmeri government and, through their machinations, started a domino effect which severely weakened the already crumbling Cyrodiilic Empire. The Thalmor seceded, annexed neighboring Valenwood (home of the Bosmer (Wood Elves), and reformed the Aldmeri Dominion of old. The Thalmor have their own military branch, complete with Professional Killer hit squads and wandering Magic Knight "Justicars" given free reign to arrest/murder "undesirables". Following the Great War between the Dominion and the remnants of the Empire, the White-Gold Concordat was struck with terms heavily favorable to the Dominion. Included is the ban on Talos worship throughout the Empire, the official dissolution of the Blades, and the right for the Thalmor to patrol the Empire enforcing these terms (and others). The Thalmor can be found throughout Skyrim and are mostly responsible for the Screw You, Elves! sentiment present in the population of Skyrim.
    • In earlier games, the Blades were publicly a Praetorian Guard (and hence a small but elite paramilitary force) while also, as an open secret, operating as the Emperor's personal spies throughout Tamriel (many of whom are capable combatants in their own right). They fall out of this trope by Skyrim, with the events of Oblivion severing most of the connection between the Blades and the Empire and the prelude to the Great War reducing them to a few scattered remnants hiding from the Thalmor.
  • Endless Space has the Sheredyn, who were originally just the bodyguards for the emperors of the United Empire. By the time of the game, however, the Sheredyn have begun to take over corporations along with building independent colonies and creating their own interstellar logistics networks in addition to their military forces operating outside the Imperial military's regular chain of command. This has transformed them from an elite bodyguard force into a powerful subfaction within the empire; to the point they are almost a state within a state.
  • Escape Velocity Nova:
    • The Federation's Bureau of Internal Investigation started life as a domestic intelligence agency (maybe akin to MI-5), formed in response to (likely unfounded) public fears of Auroran infiltrators. Within a handful of years (or possibly a handful of decades — there are some apparent contradiction between the Timeline Preamble and in-game texts), it had suborned the entire government, turning the Federation into The Empire, and now operates its own fleet. The Federation Player Character joins the Bureau and works to conquer all the other factions, within the Federation and without.
    • Part of the mission statement of the Polaris' Mu'hari caste is to ensure the survival of the Polaran people, whatever the cost. This means that they take on the State Sec/Secret Police role at times by necessity, as well as acting on foreign soil as spies. However, they're regarded by the Polaris as benevolent caretakers rather than something sinister and fearsome. The Polaris player character essentially becomes an honorary Mu'hari despite being a Federation citizen by birth.
  • Final Fantasy VII: Shinra's Turks exist in a weird realm between this, normal Secret Police, and The Men in Black, with a pinch of ninja. A Turk operation with SOLDIER muscle thrown in resembles this particularly. That they are the long semi-secret arm of an electric company means they have certain freedom from responsibility vis-a-vis the public and international community that more standard governments do not enjoy, so their structure is somewhat unusual to reflect this.
  • Grand Theft Auto IV has NOOSE,note  an ersatz-Department of Homeland Security, with a little NYPD-ESU thrown into the mix. They serve as the game's high-level law enforcement response, being called in at 3 wanted stars onward. Aside from this, the in-game fluff shows that they are responsible for immigration matters, distributing the loads of patriotic and anti-terror propaganda flooding Liberty City, and placing the whole city on lockdown early in the game's plot for barely any reason other than "Fucking Terrorists".
  • In Halo, the Office Of Naval Intelligence (ONI) is basically this. They're a branch of the Navy which operates completely independent of its command structure and can co-opt the regular Navy, other military branches, and even civilians to do their work for them. While their own security forces are mostly recruited from the Army and Marines, they operate all the UNSC's stealth ships, as well as tons of secret high-tech projects, like the Spartan programs, which produced dozens of Super Soldiers from kidnapped children for the expressed purpose of fighting rebellious colonists, and hundreds of super soldiers from war orphans for the expressed purpose of sending them to die on suicide missions before they even passed prematurely-induced puberty. Their agents are all pretty enigmatic and operate outside the bounds of the law, often without any moral or ethical limits. It has its own propaganda arm, and the Human-Covenant war has made it so powerful that its director has kept some of its operations secret even from the rest of HIGHCOM, even if those operations are designed to undermine official UNSC foreign policy.
    • Fans gave ONI somewhat of a pass when they were fighting to save humanity from extinction at the hands of the Covenant, but with the end of the Human-Covenant war, the aforementioned plan to undermine foreign policy (which ends up backfiring), and ONI's attempts to pin all the blame for the Spartan programs on one person, fans have become much more critical about ONI's methods and intentions.
  • The Sentinels of Hallifax in Lusternia are a fantasy variant of State Sec. Amongst other things, the Sentinel Company are elite soldiers, Secret Police and Time Police designed to rein in the many paradox-causing experiments of sister organization The Institute. Hallifax in general encourages this trope as part and parcel of its dual futuristic-Communist motif.
  • The Spectres in Mass Effect. Its not completely apparent how much authority they have over commandeering Citadel military forces to execute their objectives, but it would appear to be absolute. Saren, except for the whole 'not working for the Council', was pretty much a one-man version of this.
    • The Special Tasks Group are basically the Salarians' version of this, and in fact inspired the Spectres.
  • The NSA in Perfect Dark. Unlike its real world counterpart they have their own armed troops and control Area 51. Considering that its director is corrupt and part of a conspiracy it may be that that no one knows about the personal army part.
  • In [PROTOTYPE], we have the poster child(ren) for Evil Army, Blackwatch, a black-ops style organization that may or may not have authority superseding that of the President. Their stated purpose is to prevent the spread of bioweapon infection (specifically Redlight and Blacklight), but given that every other person in their group is a Sociopathic Soldier, they're using the USMC as Cannon Fodder, and they have a plan to nuke Manhattan if they think they're losing, they're more clearly this trope.
  • Similar to the above example, Saints Row: The Third has the STAG note  unit, created to deal with criminal organizations that are too much for the police. Unlike NOOSE, they're a full-blown military organization, with heavily-armored foot-soldiers and cutting-edge technology.
  • Vega Strike has subfaction Homeland Security (subtle), which theoretically "exist for internal policing and control, especially in cases crossing between the jurisdictional boundaries of member states of the Confederation". On our side of the Fourth Wall, it exists to feed Black Comedy with its unsubtle creepines, especially IntelSec. Like this or this (DXT images). To see the humourous part, consider that propaganda they intercepted may be sent and received because of malware in the first place (Luddites are big on Hypocritical Humor too). In chat, they say things like "Wrong-thinkers are everywhere, keep a lookout, friend", or (almost verbatim) Move Along, Nothing to See Here.

    Web Comics 
  • Angels 2200: The Terran Office of Special Investigations (OSI).
  • Baskets of Guts: The Royal Secret Chancellory may seem to be more like a regular Secret Police at first, but in the later chapters they're shown to have much more firepower behind them. Funnily enough, they can be considered the only so-called good guys in the story, counting who they fight against.
  • In Drive, the Emperor controls the secret forces of the Jinyiwei to enforce loyalty.

    Web Original 

    Real Life 
  • The Schutzstaffel of Nazi Germany, better known to Westerners by the abbreviation "SS". Particularly notable is that the SS included or at least controlled the Orpo (ORdnungsPOlizei = Order Police, a.k.a. ordinary uniformed beat cops), Kripo (KRIminalPOlizei = Criminal Police, i.e. plainclothes detectives working on ordinary crimes), Gestapo (GEheimeSTAatsPOlizei = Secret State Police, which was the Secret Police and fully incorporated into the SS) and Sipo (SIcherheitsPOlizei = Security Police, a sort of junior Gestapo-Kripo combination, mostly made up of SS members), several of which (at various times) became users of this trope in their own right. It should be noted that the SS were originally only a group of bodyguards and were subordinate to the SA, the brown-shirted stormtroopers. It was only by a series of successful power plays that the leader of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, was able to expand his power base to practically controlling or at least threatening every aspect of German society. The Waffen-SS (literally, weapons SS) were the military wing of the SS, with a separate command structure from the Wehrmacht. However, they were subject to the Army High Command while in the field.
    • Many historians have gone so far as to call the SS a "state within a state", because at their height they not only had their own police, army, intelligence service, administration of the death camps and the Einsatzgruppen death squads (who shot, and forced Hiwi militiamen to shoot, over 1.5 million Soviet Communists and Jews). They had their own schools, clubs, a medical corps (which included the Mad Doctor Josef Mengele, if you can even call the guy a doctor), a science corps, a women's corp (which were auxiliary, or assistant personnel, as women were not allowed to be members), a Cavalry Corps (which were really just riding clubs), and even their own courts. They were intentionally geared towards being an elite society within but apart-from the rest of Nazi Germany, one that would need as little contact as possible with outsiders. If a member of your family was in the SS, then you basically moved into a completely different social circle. One of Himmler's post-war goals was to turn Schleswig-Holstein into an SS nationstate.
  • When Germany was split after the war, East Germany got the Stasi (Ministerium für STAatsSIcherheit = Ministry for State Security), practically a literal German translation of this trope's name, although the derivation runs the other way. They were able to field far more agents than the Gestapo ever could, (at their height, the Stasi had one agent for every 166 citizens, while the best the Gestapo could field was one agent for every 2000 citizens). An old saying in Germany goes, "The Gestapo were bone breakers. The Stasi were soul breakers." Alone that makes them just the Secret Police (if particularly scary secret police), but what puts them into this trope is the Felix Dzerzhinsky Guards Regiment, a rather large paramilitary force (about 11,000 at its height) used to secure ultra-important government and Party facilities and generally terrorize the people when necessary.
  • The KGB had the Border Guards Chief Directorate, which consisted of 200,000 troops armed with its own tanks, aircraft, and ships. Although their chief task was sealing the border, not army action. Internal Troops, the Interior Ministry gendarmerie corps, would be closer, but they were glorified cops administratively, and thus had much less authority. In addition, the KGB had their own Spetsnaz ("Alpha" and "Vympel" ("Banner") regiments) and the Kremlin Guard Force.
    • Stalinist era NKVD/NKGB/MGB was more in line with this trope, as it was more extensive, and its troops fought directly in the Great Patriotic War.
      In fact, NKVD troops are the direct ancestors of the current Internal Troops, as when NKVD was split into KGB and MVD in the postwar restructuring and post-Stalin power struggle, they went to the cops. The security half of the organization managed to keep the border police, though.
    • Belarus still maintains its own branch of the KGB even to this day.
      • As do the other former Soviet republics - the Belarusians were just the only ones not to bother with renaming theirs after the fall of USSR.
    • The FSB, the KGB's successor after the Soviet Union's dissolution, still maintains control over the "Alpha" and "Vympel" regiments, and as well as the state border forces.
    • All Soviet examples descend from the original Cheka, overseen by Felix Dzerzhinsky. They ultimately had by far the widest responsibilities of any incarnation of the internal security forces the Soviet Union. They were the part of the government responsible for almost all acts of state violence in the Civil War, from Grain requisitions to running Gulags, to rooting out opposition parties to the Bolsheviks. To what extent this was a deliberate tactic to pass responsibility for the worst parts of the Red Terror to a specific fall man, or just a consequence of giving so much power to a morally questionable individual, is a matter of debate to this day.
  • South Africa: During the apartheid period, the South African Police was established to retain the National Party's white-minority rule over the black-majority population. When it didn't solve crime like a normal national police organization, it often inflicted crime — acts of brutal repression, torture, and state-sanctioned terrorism — on black dissidents. At one point, the SAP even ran a death squad that essentially carried out hits for the apartheid government against members of the African National Congress, both domestically and overseas.
    • The Bureau of State Security (BOSS) was the real secret police in South Africa, focusing on ideological and racial purity and as much there to scare white people into toeing the apartheid line as it was to hunt down and suppress black militancy. Parodied in the works of satirist Tom Sharpe.
  • North Korea: Ever since the economy began to fall apart in the early 1990's, the KPA has shown signs of this. Black markets have appeared that are run solely by the army and navy. Also, the State Security Department is in black market activities such as the printing of superdollars and smuggling weapons.
    • The KPA's Guard Command is this, being one of two units responsible for protecting North Korean/foreign VIPs. According to Joseph Bermudez, the GC has tank units included to quell potential coup attempts.
  • Iran's Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, better known as the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) or just the Revolutionary Guards. They have their own Navy, Air Force, and ground forces, separate from the regular Iranian military. They also control the Iranian rocket forces and military-oriented nuclear research, meaning that should Iran get nuclear weapons, they would presumably all be under IRGC control. Also part of the IRGC is the Quds Force, which provides covert aid to foreign Islamic extremist movements. They also control the Basij, a paramilitary organization consisting chiefly of fanatical thugs, whose responsibilities consist of enforcing religious law (keeping women in headscarves, breaking up mixed-sex parties, keeping unrelated men and women separate, etc.) (sometimes violently), breaking up protests (usually violently), and generally intimidating people (how you can do that without at least the threat of violence in these circumstances is somewhat unclear to us). The IRGC has various other, more subtle secret-police like duties as well, but Iran being Iran, we don't really know too much about it.
    • To illustrate the Guards' position, back during the Iran-Iraq war they were recruiting school kids to the regular army with the express aim of 'being martyred' as cannon fodder. The Revolutionary Guards took advantage of this, but themselves employed things like tactics, and did not die in droves.
  • The Portuguese Polícia Internacional e de Defesa do Estado or PIDE that terrorised the population before the Carnation revolution.
  • The Cardinal's Guards (well-known from The Three Musketeers) were actually such an organization. The guardsmen of Cardinal Richelieu were Musketeers. One company of Musketeers was assigned to the King, and one was assigned to the Cardinal. While there was no doubt some mild rivalry between the two companies, they were ultimately part of the same organization.
  • Rome had the Praetorian Guardtrope namers in their own right - a military force separate from the regular Roman legions that was charged with protecting the Emperor and other important Roman officials. They were heavily involved in politics and on more than one occasion chose who got to be Emperor of Rome (by killing them, such as Caligula, in some cases).
    • It should be noted that the Praetorians, if not outright stating it, may well have been the ultimate examples of "Loyalty to the throne first, to the man who sits on it second," or if you want to be cynical about it, "Loyalty to the paycheque first, the man who signs it second." The emperor could insult the senators, piss off the generals, or whip the public into a furor. But the one thing all (remotely sane) Roman Emperors took care to avoid was making the Praetorians think that an assassination that would cause mass social upheaval would be the Lesser of Two Evils compared to letting them keep their jobs or lives, and above all else, do not withhold a Praetorian's pay.
    • The Byzantines took this a step further with the Varangian Guard: they only hired foreigners to serve in the guard, as they knew foreigners were the only ones who wouldn’t have vested interests in the famously tangled politics of the Byzantine court, and would be less likely than the regular army to have qualms about slaughtering Byzantine Greeks if ordered to do so. “Varangian” is the Byzantine term for Germanic foreigners, particularly from Scandinavia: yeah, not only an State Sec and a Praetorian Guard, but one composed mostly of Vikings. There are possibly ways to make that idea cooler, but short of riding Bears it's hard to think of them. Ultimately only lessened the habit of getting involved in Imperial politics, with many Varangians still ending up taking sides in disputes. Harald Hadrada even famously blinded one of the Emperors he was to guard after the emperor tried to arrest him for an ambiguous crime.
  • One of the scarier early examples of the trope was the Oprichnina of Ivan the Terrible. It was a semi-monastic fraternal order that was created to terrorize and depower the Boyar nobles who schemed against the Tsar. Its operatives wore black robes, rode horses with symbolic brooms and dog heads attached to saddles, and were formed into paramilitary terror squads that wiped out both manor homes and peasant villages. Aside from these operatives, the Oprichnina also owned vast tracts of land, had merchants working to finance it, and generally was a state within a state. By the end of the Oprichnina, Ivan's enemies were gone, but so was a large chunk of Russia's population. Some people think that the Oprichniks were the source of inspiration for Stalin's NKVD (Ivan the Terrible was Uncle Joe's favorite historical character).
  • The Romanian State Sec, Securitate, was probably among the most brutal paramilitary societies ever. One could expect them knocking at/down the door of one's home and taking one and one's family to be beaten/shot for something like a half-finished Ceauşescu joke heard by one of the neighbors.
  • Turkey during the political instability of the 1970s did not have an actual State Sec (Secret Police is another question though). However, almost every political party that vied for supremacy had a paramilitary wing to conduct their morally dubious operations. More often than not, when the Government, the Army or the National Intelligence Agency needed its dirty work done, it would use one of these organisations. The most notorious and only surviving example is the nationalist Grey Wolves who have been involved with some of the blackest of government and army operations. These days, they're on the news regarding their part in a suspected military coup.
    • Armed political parties are a recurring theme in the Middle East. The kindling for Lebanon's Civil War was that every political force had a paramilitary organization, making it easy for the Arab–Israeli Conflict to light the fire; Hamas and Fatah's armed forces allowed them to fight a rather embarrassing civil war in 2006-7, and Hamas uses its armed wing as a secret police in Gaza; and any political party worth its salt had a militia under the Egyptian monarchy (before the July Revolution of 1952).
  • Egypt's police forces under the Mubarak regime provide a fairly classical model: under the control of the Egyptian National Police (which included—and continues to include—all police in the country) came both the State Security Investigations Service (SSIS, usually known as 'Amn ad-Dawlah, or "State Security" in Arabic), who (despite frequent protestations to the contrary) were Secret Police with mass surveillance matched in history only by the Stasi and a fondness for Electric Torture, as well as the Central Security Forces (CSF), paramilitaries whose jobs included patrolling the Sinai (where the Egyptian military was forbidden to enter under Camp David, but nobody said anything about the police) who also served as riot police. Much like joining the SS, someone who was a career police officer (a lot of police, and particularly CSF members, were conscripts) moved into a totally different social circle, with special clubs, dedicated hospitals, and even entire residential compounds and vacation resorts dedicated to them. After the Revolution of 2011, the SSIS was disbanded...only to reappear under the name of "Homeland Security" and back to its old tricks within only a few years. The Central Security Forces never went away at all.
  • The Shabiha militias in Syria. Not only does their name (roughly) translate to "thugs", but they've also been accused of perpetrating a number of massacres throughout the recent uprising.
  • During the Saddam Hussein regime, there was a powerful security apparatus set up, but not quite formally unified as other examples. One part was the Iraqi Special Security Organization, which included the Special Republican Guard. Its other branches included presidential bodyguards, "security" that monitored Republican Guard loyalty, communications, internal affairs, surveillance, administration, and even a "science" division - which only tested Saddam's food. The Republican Guard was another part of this informal StateSec, serving as a Presidential Guard and didn't fall under the Ministry of Defense. In addition, Saddam also had a separate irregular paramilitary branch loyal to him.
  • A strange case would be the various incarnations of the secret police under the Austrian Habsburgs, at least in their later days. Tracing their origins to Prince Metternich, the State Sec provided an unnervingly amiable (and deceptively incompetent) face, preferring to pull strings or subtly ease potential malcontents out of relevance rather than making them "disappear". Of course, this doesn't include an intricate spy network that not only stretched across the Empire but even beyond, or the fact that it helped Austria-Hungary to a degree shape its society as it saw fit. Even as their actual competence decayed, the fact that elements of that system survived into the 1920s (after the end of World War I destroyed the monarchy) says a lot.
  • The United States Coast Guard is a military organization, but in peacetime it operates independently of the normal military. Today it's run by the Department of Homeland Security, but in years past it has been in the Department of Transportation and the Department of the Treasury (who also used to control the Secret Service). Unlike most Real Life examples though, this one isn't evil, just unusual.
    • Even more unusual, both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (part of the Department of Commerce) and Public Health Service (part of the Department of Health and Human Services) have some commissioned officers. They use Navy/Coast Guard ranks and wear the same uniforms, but with different insignia. They are non-combatants who can be attached to military units as needed. Among the many things these two parts of government do: the NOAA runs the National Weather Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service while the PHS runs the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health.
  • Fascist Italy had the 'Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale' (Voluntary Militia for National Security), better known as 'Blackshirts', whose job was to keep the regular armed forces and the people in line. The Blackshirts are notable not only for being the direct model of the SS, but also for being more loyal to the state than the regime, best shown when Mussolini was deposed in 1943 and their only reaction was to replace the fasces buttons on their uniforms with star buttons like the regular armed forces as ordered by the new prime minister. Not to be confused with the trope, though many Blackshirts might have indeed been black shirts, and the trope was named after them.
    • The Milizia worked closely with the OVRA (Organizzazione per la Vigilanza e la Repressione dell'Antifascismo, 'Organization for Vigilance and Repression of Anti-Fascism'), a proper and frightenly efficient political police absorbed in the proper state police after the war. Or not: there is no actual evidence than the OVRA actually existed as anything more than a way to scare opponents into submission and bait attention away from the real police (that would do all the work) with a backronym that Mussolini (a former journalist) would have chosen purely because it sounded similar to 'piovra', the Italian name for 'octopus'.
    • And if you think they disappeared with the fall of fascism, you're wrong: OVRA (or whoever actually did their job) and the MVSN were simply absorbed in the normal police, that still does their job. And the Carabinieri military police often act as this, and were doing it before Mussolini's rise to power.
  • Even peaceful and democratic Norway had shades of this. A unit called Statspoliti (there is something familiar about that name) operated in The Roaring '20s and early into The Great Depression. They became historically known for repressing strikes and generally working for the government (and possibly the factory owners) against the labor unions. As such, they became increasingly unpopular, and may have contributed to making the Labor Party even more popular than they intended.
    • Then, the Labor Party itself invented a new security agency, surveilling communists for years after the war...
  • At various times throughout American history, up to the present day, federal government agencies such as the FBI (occasionally) and the CIA (especially) have been accused of being such, and at the non-federal level, similar criticisms have also been aimed at allegedly militarized police departments in various states and localities. Whether or not these accusations have any basis in reality is a discussion best had elsewhere.
  • Vichy France had the Service d'Ordre Légionnaire (Legionary Order Service, shortened to SOL) and it's offshoot turned successor, the Milice (Militia) after the occupation of the free zone by the Nazis. The SOL was mostly focused on upholding Pétain's cult of personality, promote collaboration with Germany and fight against the French Résistance and Allied forces, but turned out to suck at the latter point. The Milice (who ended up becoming the official police force of Vichy) was both more efficient and scary than the SOL due to their rounding of French Jews, devotion to Pétain and the fact that members were recruited among local common folks and petty criminals (with knowledge of local geography, dialects and personalities, allowing them to strike easily at the Résistance) ; it was later disavowed by Pétain out of fear that he would be held accountable from their actions if the Allies liberated France.

Alternative Title(s): State Security


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