Nightwatch: Ch. 4.2 – Branch Coordination

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[4] To Stand Against the Night

[4.2] Branch Coordination

Nightwatch, as a division of a single ministry, should have limited scope and power. Its purpose, however, is to maintain loyalty and discipline, and people throughout the Earth Alliance are encouraged to join. This places Nightwatch in a position to monitor activities across ministries and throughout EarthGov. As a result, it is responsible for much of the “cooperation” between government organisations, having infiltrated every major subdivision by the beginning of 2260. To be honest, given its dual purposes of propaganda and surveillance, Nightwatch could not have done its job effectively without coordinating with EarthForce and several ministries.

This was all by design. Those behind Nightwatch knew they could not simply dismantle the bureaucracy and put something more efficient in its place, even after declaring Martial Law. Too many powerful people had too much invested in various ministries and political positions. Instead, Nightwatch created an overarching authority, a simple hierarchy that superseded the normal maze of branches and positions that made up the government. As long as matters moved smoothly in terms of the administration’s wishes and the advancement of societal conditioning, those in place were allowed to continue to do their jobs. Whenever someone caused trouble or was suspected of rebel sympathies, he was removed and replaced with a loyal member of Nightwatch. There were more than enough ambitious citizens within the division, after all.

[4.2.1] EarthForce

For the most part, Nightwatch does not so much coordinate with EarthForce as monitor it. Between its concentration of raw power and the large number of true patriots serving throughout its ranks, the military is the greatest threat to Clark’s power. For that reason, Nightwatch maintains a strong presence in EarthForce, both through aggressive recruitment of ideological allies and the assignment of political officers to important areas. With promotion heavily linked to Nightwatch membership soon after its inception, the Minipax division gains considerable unofficial influence in the military on top of its ability to arrest nearly anyone on charges of sedition, disloyalty or “sabotage” as in sabotaging efficiency. Towards the end of Nightwatch’s existence, officers who have earned the ire of a political officer can be arrested on charges of sabotage for showing up a few minutes late for their post.

Sadly, there are more than enough members of EarthForce who agree with Nightwatch to work with it on other projects. The classic military parade, guaranteed to hit citizens in their idealism, is one of the less direct methods of cooperation. More straightforward services include providing large units to back up security forces in case of mass resistance or riots, ships for surveillance sweeps or punitive strikes and outright blockades or assaults to subdue recalcitrant colonies and outposts. Unfortunately, enough leaders in the military either refuse to question their leaders or are willing to go along for the possible opportunities of advancement.

Occasionally, Nightwatch also finds it useful to rattle the saber at an alien power to impress the citizens back home. Admirals and captains are quietly warned not to rattle sabers too loudly, however, as they do not want another military force to draw its sword in response.

[4.2.2] Ministry of Information

Their full name is “Ministry for Public Information,” but that is not used often. Before Nightwatch, it actually served a function somewhat resembling its name. Those in the Ministry would spin information as positively as they could and occasionally bury embarrassing facts in layers of links and files, but in the end, they would provide accurate data to the people of the Earth Alliance.

Nightwatch killed that ministry. In its place it erected a subtle propaganda arm, dedicated to providing “proper information” that would maintain the fabric of society. After all, what better way could there be to fight “misinformation” and dangerous thoughts? Where the Ministry of Peace is responsible for the overt propaganda efforts, the Ministry of Information performs spin, suppressing inconvenient truths and disseminating the party line under the guise of news. After Martial Law is declared, this Ministry runs ISN and Universe Today, along with every other major outlet, as opposed to the coordination and cooperation it once exercised.

Ministry bureaucrats bristle at all of these changes, but one aspect of the change repulses them completely. Nightwatch routinely orders the Ministry to lie outright, which is anathema to its long standing servants. Many have resigned in spite of the danger of such defiance, hoping to send a message to others. A few of the most prominent disappeared shortly thereafter. There is no shortage of replacements from the Nightwatch faithful, but there can be no question that the Ministry of Information’s competence erodes over time. When doctrine replaces facts, any group purporting to provide information will falter.

[4.2.3] Ministry of Peace

While Nightwatch itself is a division of Minipax, the Ministry as a whole has other functions, particularly in areas of propaganda at home and diplomacy abroad. In many ways, the non-Nightwatch portions of Minipax serve as the kinder, gentler face of the administration. When the government wants to genuinely negotiate with opposition forces rather than intimidate them, it sends a Ministry representative rather than a Nightwatch agent. The administration gives judicial authority to the Ministry of Peace, creating the illusion of Ministry oversight on Nightwatch prosecutions. Officially, Minipax exists to “reduce tensions” within the Alliance, and even taking the Clark administration’s seemingly endless capacity for denial into account, they appear to know that Nightwatch does not serve any such purpose.

In fact, it could be argued that the Ministry’s most important duty is providing cover for Nightwatch. Aside from creating positive propaganda touting the administration’s successes and talking up Nightwatch, it creates an apparent buffer between Nightwatch and its omnipresent political power. If Nightwatch is merely a division of one ministry, after all, it can hardly do all the things it is said to by those radical protestors. By 2261, few people believe this, but some psychological effect remains, so the illusion is maintained until the entire house of cards collapses.

[4.2.4] Ministry of Security

Relations with this ministry were intended to be fairly straightforward. Nightwatch gathers information on troublemakers. Security finds and arrests troublemakers. It was a logical alliance. Treating the Ministry of Security as if it were subordinate to Nightwatch, on the other hand, was not the wisest course of action.

The Minister of Security was understandably livid when all off-world security was assigned to Nightwatch. “Turf wars” between ministries are common and rivalries exist, but the various branches are expected to put petty differences aside when Earth security is at stake. Nightwatch walked all over that mandate, and it infuriated many lifelong agents in the ministry.

Unlike most ministries, Security was in a position to do something about it. Working around the Nightwatch Security Coordinator would not be easy, but given their job description, they would manage. Any who could join Nightwatch believably swallowed their pride and did so. They then sought out resistance members, proved their loyalty to the ideals of the Alliance and became some of the most valuable allies the underground had. For all its power, Nightwatch is not infallible, and its dealings with the Ministry of Security were among its greatest mistakes.

[4.2.5] The Political Office

Technically, the Political Office has no legal authority whatsoever. It is solely an arm of President Clark’s political party, serving in an advisory capacity throughout the government. In reality, its power is both broad and deep, primarily thanks to Nightwatch. In fact, the argument can be made that the entire purpose of Nightwatch is to give the Political Office real authority and enforcement powers, albeit with a layer of plausible deniability. All actual power lies with Nightwatch and the Ministry of Peace, but the ideology they champion is clearly political, and thus dictated by Clark and his party “advisors.”

If this seems arcane, particularly after reading the section on Nightwatch’s relationship with the Ministry of Peace, well, it is. President Clark carefully arranged the division of labour and power to make any attempt to usurp his position virtually impossible. Director Welles possesses authority second only to Clark, yet answers to an office with no official jurisdiction. The Political Office can give Nightwatch orders, but only through the power of the presidency. Each is stymied by the other in a way. As Director Welles appears to approach his position from a problem-solving standpoint rather than one of advancement, this may not be a problem. If anything, the Political Office takes much of the partisan heat for Nightwatch, as most of the “political payback” directives come from it. In many ways, Nightwatch is only a weapon Clark and his Political Office use.

[4.2.6] Psi Corps

It would be unfair to call Nightwatch an arm of Psi Corps. Officially, the only shared operation between Nightwatch and the Corps is the public relations effort to ease tensions between mundanes and telepaths, a laudable goal by anyone’s standards. Needless to say, their relationship runs far deeper than mere public service announcements. Clark and his allies consider Nightwatch and Psi Corps to be their two most loyal and reliable divisions in EarthGov. Whether or not this is true of Psi Corps is open to debate, but the important point is that most Nightwatch members believe it. The resulting bond creates a considerable espirit de corps between the two organisations.

Certainly, the relationship seems an odd one at first. Nightwatch was created for overtly political purposes, specifically to meddle in government business and private affairs, whereas Psi Corps was created to keep telepaths out of those same areas. Upon closer inspection, the benefits to both sides are obvious. Nightwatch provides enormous manpower as well as cover for the Psi Corps to scan dissidents and take part in politics through the division. Meanwhile, the Corps provides Nightwatch with priceless information and a tremendous advantage when hunting down resistance groups.

More than any other ally Nightwatch has, the two organisations make an excellent team. A most disturbing and corrupt one, certainly, but a proficient one all the same.

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