By John Whitehead
“A government which will turn its tanks upon its people, for any reason, is a government with a taste of blood and a thirst for power and must either be smartly rebuked, or blindly obeyed in deadly fear.”—John Salter
We have entered into a particularly dismal chapter in the American narrative, one that shifts us from a swashbuckling tale of adventure into a bone-chilling horror story.
As I document in my new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, “we the people” have now come full circle, from being held captive by the British police state to being held captive by the American police state. In between, we have charted a course from revolutionaries fighting for our independence and a free people establishing a new nation to pioneers and explorers, braving the wilderness and expanding into new territories.
Where we went wrong, however, was in allowing ourselves to become enthralled with and then held hostage by a military empire in bondage to a corporate state (the very definition of fascism). No longer would America hold the moral high ground as a champion of freedom and human rights. Instead, in the pursuit of profit, our overlords succumbed to greed, took pleasure in inflicting pain, exported torture, and imported the machinery of war, transforming the American landscape into a battlefield, complete with military personnel, tactics and weaponry.
To our dismay, we now find ourselves scrambling for a foothold as our once rock-solid constitutional foundation crumbles beneath us. And no longer can we rely on the president, Congress, the courts, or the police to protect us from wrongdoing.
Indeed, they have come to embody all that is wrong with America.
For instance, how does a man who is relatively healthy when taken into custody by police lapse into a coma and die while under their supervision? What kind of twisted logic allows a police officer to use a police car to run down an American citizen and justifies it in the name of permissible deadly force? And what country are we living in where the police can beat, shoot, choke, taser and tackle American citizens, all with the protection of the courts?
Certainly, the Constitution’s safeguards against police abuse means nothing when government agents can crash through your door, terrorize your children, shoot your dogs, and jail you on any number of trumped of charges, and you have little say in the matter. For instance, San Diego police, responding to a domestic disturbance call on a Sunday morning, showed up at the wrong address, only to shoot the homeowner’s 6-year-old service dog in the head.
Rubbing salt in the wound, it’s often the unlucky victim of excessive police force who ends up being charged with wrongdoing. Although 16-year-old Thai Gurule was charged with resisting arrest and strangling and assaulting police officers, a circuit judge found that it was actually the three officers who unlawfully stopped, tackled, punched, kneed, tasered and yanked his hair who were at fault. Thankfully, bystander cell phone videos undermined police accounts, which were described as “works of fiction.”
Not even our children are being spared the blowback from a growing police presence. As one juvenile court judge noted in testimony to Congress, although having police on public school campuses did not make the schools any safer, it did result in large numbers of students being arrested for misdemeanors such as school fights and disorderly conduct. One 11-year-old autistic Virginia student was charged with disorderly conduct and felony assault after kicking a trashcan and resisting a police officer’s attempt to handcuff him. A 14-year-old student was tasered by police, suspended and charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and trespassing after he failed to obey a teacher’s order to be the last student to exit the classroom.
There is no end to the government’s unmitigated gall in riding roughshod over the rights of the citizenry, whether in matters of excessive police powers, militarized police, domestic training drills, SWAT team raids, surveillance, property rights, overcriminalization, roadside strip searches, profit-driven fines and prison sentences, etc.
The president can now direct the military to detain, arrest and secretly execute American citizens. These are the powers of an imperial dictator, not an elected official bound by the rule of law. For the time being, Barack Obama wears the executioner’s robe, but you can rest assured that this mantle will be worn by whomever occupies the Oval Office in the future.
A representative government means nothing when the average citizen has little to no access to their elected officials, while corporate lobbyists enjoy a revolving door relationship with everyone from the President on down. Indeed, while members of Congress hardly work for the taxpayer, they work hard at being wooed by corporations, which spend more to lobby our elected representatives than we spend on their collective salaries. For that matter, getting elected is no longer the high point it used to be. As one congressman noted, for many elected officials, “Congress is no longer a destination but a journey… [to a] more lucrative job as a K Street lobbyist… It’s become routine to see members of Congress drop their seat in Congress like a hot rock when a particularly lush vacancy opens up.”
As for the courts, they have long since ceased being courts of justice. Instead, they have become courts of order, largely marching in lockstep with the government’s dictates, all the while helping to increase the largesse of government coffers. It’s called for-profit justice, and it runs the gamut of all manner of financial incentives in which the courts become cash cows for communities looking to make an extra buck. As journalist Chris Albin-Lackey details, “They deploy a crushing array of fines, court costs, and other fees to harvest revenues from minor offenders that these communities cannot or do not want to raise through taxation.” In this way, says Albin-Lackey, “A resident of Montgomery, Alabama who commits a simple noise violation faces only a $20 fine—but also a whopping $257 in court costs and user fees should they seek to have their day in court.”
As for the rest—the schools, the churches, private businesses, service providers, nonprofits and your fellow citizens—many are also marching in lockstep with the police state. This is what is commonly referred to as community policing. After all, the police can’t be everywhere. So how do you police a nation when your population outnumbers your army of soldiers? How do you carry out surveillance on a nation when there aren’t enough cameras, let alone viewers, to monitor every square inch of the country 24/7? How do you not only track but analyze the transactions, interactions and movements of every person within the United States? The answer is simpler than it seems: You persuade the citizenry to be your eyes and ears.
It’s a brilliant ploy, with the added bonus that while the citizenry remains focused on and distrustful of each other, they’re incapable of focusing on more definable threats that fall closer to home—namely, the government and its militarized police. In this way, we’re seeing a rise in the incidence of Americans being reported for growing vegetables in their front yard, keeping chickens in their back yard, letting their kids walk to the playground alone, and voicing anti-government sentiments. For example, after Shona Banda’s son defended the use of medical marijuana during a presentation at school, school officials alerted the police and social services, and the 11-year-old was interrogated, taken into custody by social workers, had his home raided by police and his mother arrested.
Now it may be that we have nothing to worry about. Perhaps the government really does have our best interests at heart. Perhaps covert domestic military training drills such as Jade Helm really are just benign exercises to make sure our military is prepared for any contingency. As the Washington Post describes the operation:
The mission is vast both geographically and strategically: Elite service members from all four branches of the U.S. military will launch an operation this summer in which they will operate covertly among the U.S. public and travel from state to state in military aircraft. Texas, Utah and a section of southern California are labeled as hostile territory, and New Mexico isn’t much friendlier.
Now I don’t believe in worrying over nothing, but it’s safe to say that the government has not exactly shown itself to be friendly in recent years, nor have its agents shown themselves to be cognizant of the fact that they are civilians who answer to the citizenry, rather than the other way around.
Whether or not the government plans to impose some form of martial law in the future remains to be seen, but there can be no denying that we’re being accustomed to life in a military state. The malls may be open for business, the baseball stadiums may be packed, and the news anchors may be twittering nonsense about the latest celebrity foofa, but those are just distractions from what is really taking place: the transformation of America into a war zone.
Trust me, if it looks like a battlefield (armored tanks on the streets, militarized police in metro stations, surveillance cameras everywhere), sounds like a battlefield (SWAT team raids nightly, sound cannons to break up large assemblies of citizens), and acts like a battlefield (police shooting first and asking questions later, intimidation tactics, and involuntary detentions), it’s a battlefield.
Indeed, what happened in Ocala, Florida, is a good metaphor for what’s happening across the country: Sheriff’s deputies, dressed in special ops uniforms and riding in an armored tank on a public road, pulled a 23-year-old man over and issued a warning violation to him after he gave them the finger. The man, Lucas Jewell, defended his actions as a free speech expression of his distaste for militarized police.
Translation: “We the people” are being hijacked on the highway by government agents with little knowledge of or regard for the Constitution, who are hyped up on the power of their badge, outfitted for war, eager for combat, and taking a joy ride—on taxpayer time and money—in a military tank that has no business being on American soil.
Rest assured, unless we slam on the brakes, this runaway tank will soon be charting a new course through terrain that bears no resemblance to land of our forefathers, where freedom meant more than just the freedom to exist and consume what the corporate powers dish out.
Rod Serling, one of my longtime heroes and the creator of The Twilight Zone, understood all too well the danger of turning a blind eye to evil in our midst, the “things that scream for a response.” As Serling warned, “if we don’t listen to that scream – and if we don’t respond to it – we may well wind up sitting amidst our own rubble, looking for the truck that hit us – or the bomb that pulverized us. Get the license number of whatever it was that destroyed the dream. And I think we will find that the vehicle was registered in our own name.”
If you haven’t managed to read the writing on the wall yet, the war has begun.
by JIM HARPER
Surveillance cameras are catalyzing this conversation about “privacy in public,” but the root of the problem is the lowly license plate. (AP Photo)
Until recently our auto travels — in public — have been essentially private. Scattered individuals may have observed our locations at given moments, but the bulk of our public movements have been practically obscure. Nobody collected data in a systematic or useful way, and our movements were lost to history.
That is no longer true. Public and private entities are scanning license plates, snapping photos of our cars, and storing the times and locations where they appear. Close correlation between license plate numbers and particular drivers means that databases of mundane information about auto movements also reveal quite sensitive information about doctor and psychologist visits, business meetings, trysts, gatherings of legal advice and participation in political advocacy. License plates and cameras are, as I testified to Congress more than a dozen years ago, “Big Brother infrastructure.”
License plates are a once-sensible administrative tool that today undercuts privacy. It’s possible to protect privacy and administer traffic laws at the same time, but it’s not going to be easy.
Surveillance cameras are catalyzing this conversation about “privacy in public,” but the root of the problem is the lowly license plate. It’s an administrative tool from a bygone technological era that has new consequences in the digital age — new, strongly negative consequences for privacy.
If a law were proposed today requiring people walking on sidewalks to wear name tags, Americans would strongly reject such an attack on the freedom to move about anonymously. The trade-offs don’t make sense in name-tagging because people walking have far less capacity to harm one another than people behind the wheel of cars. But the once-sensible public identification requirement for operating a motor vehicle now reveals much, much more.
Auto licensing has public safety objectives so obvious that any questioning of it causes some people to sputter. License plates allow investigation and arrest of speeders, hit-and-run drivers and bank robbers in getaway vehicles. Awareness that they can be identified probably keeps some drivers in line.
There are few obvious alternatives to automobile licensing, so it seems like regulating surveillance cameras is the only option. But that is essentially futile. A law against snapping images of cars would be impossible to enforce, and we wouldn’t want to have such rules in a free country, which strongly favors the right to record true information that is available in public spaces.
To administer auto movements on streets, look to the skies. The tail numbers of aircrafts can’t be seen at the distances involved in aviation, so aircraft carry transponders that receive and reply to radio-frequency interrogation. This helps identify them on air traffic control radar. Collision avoidance systems use these radio frequency identification (RFID) systems to detect aircrafts at risk of colliding with each other.
Promiscuous RFID systems on cars would be no better, and possibly worse for privacy, than license plates. But they can be designed to respond only to qualified interrogators, such as law enforcement or other licensed vehicles. Such systems could maintain records for car owners of each call and response, allowing oversight of the use and misuse of automobile identification systems.
Such a technology could open new avenues for driving control and law enforcement. A cleverly designed system might allow drivers to “tag” each other with likes or dislikes that cumulatively and anonymously signal good and bad behavior to drivers and authorities alike.
A badly designed system could be worse than the status quo, but replacing license plates with smartly-tailored RFID systems would permit drivers to navigate the streets of cities without feeding surveillance cameras the records that can be used for comprehensive tracking of law-abiding individuals.
State legislators should begin the transition now. The right design for auto RFID will take a good deal of planning and testing. But the best response to the undesirable privacy effects of auto surveillance is the end of the license plate.
Government Orders Bank Tellers To Alert Police About Your Cash Withdrawals: So They Can “Seize the Funds… Investigate”
by Mac Slavo
How can you tell if you’re living in a police state?
The short answer is that you’re living in a police state when everyone becomes a suspected criminal or terrorist. And if the following report is any indicator, then welcome to the Reich.
The Justice Department has ordered bank tellers across America to contact law enforcement if they suspect your cash withdrawal may have something to do with illicit activity. There doesn’t need to be proof, or any sort of red flag indicator – merely suspicion by the bank teller processing your transaction is now enough to have you investigated by authorities.
Via The Sovereign Man Simon Black
What a lot of people don’t realize is that banks are already unpaid government spies.
Federal regulations in the Land of the Free REQUIRE banks to file ‘suspicious activity reports’ or SARs on their customers. And it’s not optional.
Banks have minimum quotas of SARs they need to fill out and submit to the federal government.
If they don’t file enough SARs, they can be fined. They can lose their banking charter. And yes, bank executives and directors can even be imprisoned for noncompliance.
This is the nature of the financial system in the Land of the Free.
And chances are, your banker has filled one out on you—they submitted 1.6 MILLION SARs in 2013 alone.
But now the Justice Department is saying that SARs aren’t enough.
Now, whenever banks suspect something ‘suspicious’ is going on, they want them to pick up the phone and call the cops:
“[W]e encourage those institutions to consider whether to take more action: specifically, to alert law enforcement authorities about the problem, who may be able to seize the funds, initiate an investigation, or take other proactive steps.”
So what exactly constitutes ‘suspicious activity’? Basically anything.
According to the handbook for the Federal Financial Institution Examination Council, banks are required to file a SAR with respect to:
“Transactions conducted or attempted by, at, or through the bank (or an affiliate) and aggregating $5,000 or more…”
It’s utterly obscene. According to the Justice Department, going to the bank and withdrawing $5,000 should potentially prompt a banker to rat you out to the police.
Do you need to withdraw cash to purchase a used car from a private seller?
Or perhaps you are pulling out some emergency cash for a loved one.
Either one of these activities are now considered suspicious and if your cash withdrawal amounts to even a few thousand dollars your bank teller is under a legal requirement to alert officials about your suspected criminal activity. And before you argue that you can’t possibly be a suspect because you have done nothing wrong, consider that even being suspected of being a suspect is now enough to land you on a terrorist watchlist in America.
In fact, according to the Obama Administration concrete facts are no longer necessary:
The Obama administration has quietly approved a substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system, authorizing a secret process that requires neither “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist, according to a key government document obtained by The Intercept.
Because the government tracks “suspected terrorists” as well as “known terrorists,” individuals can be watchlisted if they are suspected of being a suspected terrorist, or if they are suspected of associating with people who are suspected of terrorism activity.
But you’re not a terrorist, right?
Wrong. In America, everyone is now suspected of terrorism or suspected of associating with people who might be terrorists. And because this is now the culture that exists within law enforcement agencies on the local, state and Federal levels, everyone is considered guilty until proven innocent.
And that goes double for your personal assets.
In 2012 law enforcement agencies seized $4.2 billion in assets from Americans. In most cases the money, homes, cars or other assets were seized without probable cause, warrants, charge or trial.
Because according to the government, you don’t own that and the Justice Department just made it easier to engage in authorized “shake-downs” of the American people.
Here’s how the scam works:
A police officer pulls a car over for speeding. The officer thinks he smells marijuana and seizes money and perhaps other property from the vehicle. The officer (or other law enforcement agent) writes and signs a statement or affidavit explaining the situation and reasons for the seizure of the property. That statement is used to show the courts the link between the alleged criminal behavior and the seized property.
This amounts to true “highway robbery” or roadside piracy.
Because the case is against the property and not the owner, court cases have names like these:
United States v. $124,700 in U.S. Currency
State v. One 2012 Mercedes Benz
United States v. One Gold Necklace
Property, of course, does not have constitutional rights. As Sarah Stillman explains in her New Yorker article Taken:
There’s no right to an attorney and, in most states, no presumption of innocence. Owners who wish to contest often find that the cost of hiring a lawyer far exceeds the value of their seized goods. Washington, D.C., charges up to twenty-five hundred dollars simply for the right to challenge a police seizure in court, which can take months or even years to resolve.
Asset forfeiture creates huge incentives for law enforcement officers to “police for profit”. The money can be used for salaries and to purchase advanced equipment.
From this point forward keep in mind that a trip to the bank could end with you being “investigated” by police. As we’ve seen time and again, police can simply call in a K-9 unit that will inevitably find trace amounts of drugs on your cash (because all cash has trace amounts of cocaine, meth or other substances). Once you’ve been identified as a suspected drug smuggler, they give themselves the authority to seize your cash, car, and even your house if they so choose.
It’s a sad state of affairs when law-abiding American citizens now have to worry about how to hide their money where the bankers and police can’t find it. When travelling or keeping money at home consider the Shovel and Maneuver for Hiding Gold, Guns and Other Assets:
And of course, you’ll want to keep mum about your new investments and how they’re being stored, because loose lips will pose a threat to not just your gold hoard, but your life as well. If thieves get wind of your investments, they may show up not with a metal detector, but armaments, putting your entire family at risk.
The scary part is that the thieves are now our very own government officials and law enforcement authorities so they can give themselves the legal authority to come in guns blazing anytime they so choose.
Mint Press News
By Tom Engelhardt
James Cartmill holds an American flag while protesting in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, after the announcement that a grand jury decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old.
Have you ever undertaken some task you felt less than qualified for, but knew that someone needed to do? Consider this piece my version of that, and let me put what I do understand about it in a nutshell: based on developments in our post-9/11 world, we could be watching the birth of a new American political system and way of governing for which, as yet, we have no name.
And here’s what I find strange: the evidence of this, however inchoate, is all around us and yet it’s as if we can’t bear to take it in or make sense of it or even say that it might be so.
Let me make my case, however minimally, based on five areas in which at least the faint outlines of that new system seem to be emerging: political campaigns and elections; the privatization of Washington through the marriage of the corporation and the state; the de-legitimization of our traditional system of governance; the empowerment of the national security state as an untouchable fourth branch of government; and the demobilization of “we the people.”
Whatever this may add up to, it seems to be based, at least in part, on the increasing concentration of wealth and power in a new plutocratic class and in that ever-expanding national security state. Certainly, something out of the ordinary is underway, and yet its birth pangs, while widely reported, are generally categorized as aspects of an exceedingly familiar American system somewhat in disarray.
1. 1% Elections
David Koch, Executive Vice President of Koch Industries, Inc., the Koch brothers network has already promised to drop almost $1 billion into the coming campaign season, doubling their efforts in the last presidential election year.
Check out the news about the 2016 presidential election and you’ll quickly feel a sense of been-there, done-that. As a start, the two names most associated with it, Bush and Clinton, couldn’t be more familiar, highlighting as they do the curiously dynastic quality of recent presidential contests. (If a Bush or Clinton should win in 2016 and again in 2020, a member of one of those families will have controlled the presidency for 28 of the last 36 years.)
Take, for instance, “Why 2016 Is Likely to Become a Close Race,” a recent piece Nate Cohn wrote for my hometown paper. A noted election statistician, Cohn points out that, despite Hillary Clinton’s historically staggering lead in Democratic primary polls (and lack of serious challengers), she could lose the general election. He bases this on what we know about her polling popularity from the Monica Lewinsky moment of the 1990s to the present. Cohn assures readers that Hillary will not “be a Democratic Eisenhower, a popular, senior statesperson who cruises to an easy victory.” It’s the sort of comparison that offers a certain implicit reassurance about the near future. (No, Virginia, we haven’t left the world of politics in which former general and president Dwight D. Eisenhower can still be a touchstone.)
Cohn may be right when it comes to Hillary’s electability, but this is not Dwight D. Eisenhower’s or even Al Gore’s America. If you want a measure of that, consider this year’s primaries. I mean, of course, the 2015 ones. Once upon a time, the campaign season started with candidates flocking to Iowa and New Hampshire early in the election year to establish their bona fides among party voters. These days, however, those are already late primaries.
The early primaries, the ones that count, take place among a small group of millionaires and billionaires, a new caste flush with cash who will personally, or through complex networks of funders, pour multi-millions of dollars into the campaigns of candidates of their choice. So the early primaries — this year mainly a Republican affair — are taking place in resort spots like Las Vegas, Rancho Mirage, California, and Sea Island, Georgia, as has been widely reported. These “contests” involve groveling politicians appearing at the beck and call of the rich and powerful, and so reflect our new 1% electoral system. (The main pro-Hillary super PAC, for instance, is aiming for a kitty of $500 million heading into 2016, while the Koch brothers network has already promised to drop almost $1 billion into the coming campaign season, doubling their efforts in the last presidential election year.)
Ever since the Supreme Court opened up the ultimate floodgates with its 2010 Citizens United decision, each subsequent election has seen record-breaking amounts of money donated and spent. The 2012 presidential campaign was the first $2 billion election; campaign 2016 is expected to hit the $5 billion mark without breaking a sweat. By comparison, according to Burton Abrams and Russell Settle in their study, “The Effect of Broadcasting on Political Campaign Spending,” Republicans and Democrats spent just under $13 million combined in 1956 when Eisenhower won his second term.
In the meantime, it’s still true that the 2016 primaries will involve actual voters, as will the election that follows. The previous election season, the midterms of 2014, cost almost $4 billion, a record despite the number of small donors continuing to drop. It also represented the lowest midterm voter turnout since World War II. (See: demobilization of the public, below — and add in the demobilization of the Democrats as a real party, the breaking of organized labor, the fragmenting of the Republican Party, and the return of voter suppression laws visibly meant to limit the franchise.) It hardly matters just what the flood of new money does in such elections, when you can feel the weight of inequality bearing down on the whole process in a way that is pushing us somewhere new.
2. The Privatization of the State (or the U.S. as a Prospective Third-World Nation)
Although this Oct. 18, 2011 photo of then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton became famous for online memes aiming to demonstrate her no-BS leadership style, yet another potential scandal, this time in her State Department, might have her less-than-nonchalent about seeing messages in her inbox. Photo credit: AP.
In the recent coverage of the Hillary Clinton email flap, you can find endless references to the Clintons of yore in wink-wink, you-know-how-they-are-style reporting; and yes, she did delete a lot of emails; and yes, it’s an election year coming and, as everyone points out, the Republicans are going to do their best to keep the email issue alive until hell freezes over, etc., etc. Again, the coverage, while eyeball gluing, is in a you’ve-seen-it-all-before, you’ll-see-it-all-again-mode.
However, you haven’t seen it all before. The most striking aspect of this little brouhaha lies in what’s most obvious but least highlighted. An American secretary of state chose to set up her own private, safeguarded email system for doing government work; that is, she chose to privatize her communications. If this were Cairo, it might not warrant a second thought. But it didn’t happen in some third-world state. It was the act of a key official of the planet’s reigning (or thrashing) superpower, which — even if it wasn’t the first time such a thing had ever occurred — should be taken as a tiny symptom of something that couldn’t be larger or, in the long stretch of history, newer: the ongoing privatization of the American state, or at least the national security part of it.
Though the marriage of the state and the corporation has a pre-history, the full-scale arrival of the warrior corporation only occurred after 9/11. Someday, that will undoubtedly be seen as a seminal moment in the formation of whatever may be coming in this country. Only 13 years later, there is no part of the war state that has not experienced major forms of privatization. The U.S. military could no longer go to war without its crony corporations doing KP and guard duty, delivering the mail, building the bases, and being involved in just about all of its activities, including training the militaries of foreign allies and even fighting. Such warrior corporations are now involved in every aspect of the national security state, including torture, drone strikes, and — to the tune of hundreds of thousands of contract employees like Edward Snowden — intelligence gathering and spying. You name it and, in these years, it’s been at least partly privatized.
All you have to do is read reporter James Risen’s recent book, Pay Any Price, on how the global war on terror was fought in Washington, and you know that privatization has brought something else with it: corruption, scams, and the gaming of the system for profits of a sort that might normally be associated with a typical third-world kleptocracy. And all of this, a new world being born, was reflected in a tiny way in Hillary Clinton’s very personal decision about her emails.
Though it’s a subject I know so much less about, this kind of privatization (and the corruption that goes with it) is undoubtedly underway in the non-war-making, non-security-projecting part of the American state as well.
3. The De-legitimization of Congress and the Presidency
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves after speaking before a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 3, 2015.
On a third front, American “confidence” in the three classic check-and-balance branches of government, as measured by polling outfits, continues to fall. In 2014, Americans expressing a “great deal of confidence” in the Supreme Court hit a new low of 23%; in the presidency, it was 11%, and in Congress a bottom-scraping 5%. (The military, on the other hand, registers at 50%.) The figures for “hardly any confidence at all” are respectively 20%, 44%, and more than 50%. All are in or near record-breaking territory for the last four decades.
It seems fair to say that in recent years Congress has been engaged in a process of delegitimizing itself. Where that body once had the genuine power to declare war, for example, it is now “debating” in a desultory fashion an “authorization” for a war against the Islamic State in Syria, Iraq, and possibly elsewhere that has already been underway for eight months and whose course, it seems, will be essentially unaltered, whether Congress authorizes it or not.
What would President Harry Truman, who once famously ran a presidential campaign against a “do-nothing” Congress, have to say about a body that truly can do just about nothing? Or rather, to give the Republican war hawks in that new Congress their due, not quite nothing. They are proving capable of acting effectively to delegitimize the presidency as well. House Majority Leader John Boehner’s invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to undercut the president’s Iranian nuclear negotiations and the letter signed by 47 Republican senators and directed to the Iranian ayatollahs are striking examples of this. They are visibly meant to tear down an “imperial presidency” that Republicans gloried in not so long ago.
The radical nature of that letter, not as an act of state but of its de-legitimization, was noted even in Iran, where fundamentalist Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei proclaimed it “a sign of a decline in political ethics and the destruction of the American establishment from within.” Here, however, the letter is either being covered as a singularly extreme one-off act (“treason!”) or, as Jon Stewart did on “The Daily Show,” as part of a repetitive tit-for-tat between Democrats and Republicans over who controls foreign policy. It is, in fact, neither. It represents part of a growing pattern in which Congress becomes an ever less effective body, except in its willingness to take on and potentially take out the presidency.
In the twenty-first century, all that “small government” Republicans and “big government” Democrats can agree on is offering essentially unconditional support to the military and the national security state. The Republican Party — its various factions increasingly at each other’s throats almost as often as at those of the Democrats — seems reasonably united solely on issues of war-making and security. As for the Democrats, an unpopular administration, facing constant attack by those who loath President Obama, has kept its footing in part by allying with and fusing with the national security state. A president who came into office rejecting torture and promoting sunshine and transparency in government has, in the course of six-plus years, come to identify himself almost totally with the U.S. military, the CIA, the NSA, and the like. While it has launched an unprecedented campaign against whistleblowers and leakers (as well as sunshine and transparency), the Obama White House has proved a powerful enabler of, but also remarkably dependent upon, that state-within-a-state, a strange fate for “the imperial presidency.”
4. The Rise of the National Security State as the Fourth Branch of Government
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, right, and CIA Director John Brennan, left, sit in the front row before President Barack Obama spoke about National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, at the Justice Department in Washington.
One “branch” of government is, however, visibly on the rise and rapidly gaining independence from just about any kind of oversight. Its ability to enact its wishes with almost no opposition in Washington is a striking feature of our moment. But while the symptoms of this process are regularly reported, the overall phenomenon — the creation of a de facto fourth branch of government — gets remarkably little attention. In the war on terror era, the national security state has come into its own. Its growth has been phenomenal. Though it’s seldom pointed out, it should be considered remarkable that in this period we gained a second full-scale “defense department,” the Department of Homeland Security, and that it and the Pentagon have become even more entrenched, each surrounded by its own growing “complex” of private corporations, lobbyists, and allied politicians. The militarization of the country has, in these years, proceeded apace.
Meanwhile, the duplication to be found in the U.S. Intelligence Community with its 17 major agencies and outfits is staggering. Its growing ability to surveil and spy on a global scale, including on its own citizens, puts the totalitarian states of the twentieth century to shame. That the various parts of the national security state can act in just about any fashion without fear of accountability in a court of law is by now too obvious to belabor. As wealth has traveled upwards in American society in ways not seen since the first Gilded Age, so taxpayer dollars have migrated into the national security state in an almost plutocratic fashion.
New reports regularly surface about the further activities of parts of that state. In recent weeks, for instance, we learned from Jeremy Scahill and Josh Begley of the Intercept that the CIA has spent years trying to break the encryption on Apple iPhones and iPads; it has, that is, been aggressively seeking to attack an all-American corporation (even if significant parts of its production process are actually in China). Meanwhile, Devlin Barrett of the Wall Street Journal reported that the CIA, an agency barred from domestic spying operations of any sort, has been helping the U.S. Marshals Service (part of the Justice Department) create an airborne digital dragnet on American cell phones. Planes flying out of five U.S. cities carry a form of technology that “mimics a cellphone tower.” This technology, developed and tested in distant American war zones and now brought to “the homeland,” is just part of the ongoing militarization of the country from its borders to its police forces. And there’s hardly been a week since Edward Snowden first released crucial NSA documents in June 2013 when such “advances” haven’t been in the news.
News also regularly bubbles up about the further expansion, reorganization, and upgrading of parts of the intelligence world, the sorts of reports that have become the barely noticed background hum of our lives. Recently, for instance, Director John Brennan announced a major reorganization of the CIA meant to break down the classic separation between spies and analysts at the Agency, while creating a new Directorate of Digital Innovation responsible for, among other things, cyberwarfare and cyberespionage. At about the same time, according to the New York Times, the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, an obscure State Department agency, was given a new and expansive role in coordinating “all the existing attempts at countermessaging [against online propaganda by terror outfits like the Islamic State] by much larger federal departments, including the Pentagon, Homeland Security and intelligence agencies.”
This sort of thing is par for the course in an era in which the national security state has only grown stronger, endlessly elaborating, duplicating, and overlapping the various parts of its increasingly labyrinthine structure. And keep in mind that, in a structure that has fought hard to keep what it’s doing cloaked in secrecy, there is so much more that we don’t know. Still, we should know enough to realize that this ongoing process reflects something new in our American world (even if no one cares to notice).
5. The Demobilization of the American People
Protestors confront police during an impromptu rally, Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014 to protest the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Mo., Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014. Police said Brown, who was unarmed, was fatally shot Saturday in a scuffle with an officer. Photo credit: AP.
In The Age of Acquiescence, a new book about America’s two Gilded Ages, Steve Fraser asks why it was that, in the nineteenth century, another period of plutocratic excesses, concentration of wealth and inequality, buying of politicians, and attempts to demobilize the public, Americans took to the streets with such determination and in remarkable numbers over long periods of time to protest their treatment, and stayed there even when the brute power of the state was called out against them. In our own moment, Fraser wonders, why has the silence of the public in the face of similar developments been so striking?
After all, a grim new American system is arising before our eyes. Everything we once learned in the civics textbooks of our childhoods about how our government works now seems askew, while the growth of poverty, the flatlining of wages, the rise of the .01%, the collapse of labor, and the militarization of society are all evident.
The process of demobilizing the public certainly began with the military. It was initially a response to the disruptive and rebellious draftees of the Vietnam-era. In 1973, at the stroke of a presidential pen, the citizen’s army was declared no more, the raising of new recruits was turned over to advertising agencies (a preview of the privatization of the state to come), and the public was sent home, never again to meddle in military affairs. Since 2001, that form of demobilization has been etched in stone and transformed into a way of life in the name of the “safety” and “security” of the public.
Since then, “we the people” have made ourselves felt in only three disparate ways: from the left in the Occupy movement, which, with its slogans about the 1% and the 99%, put the issue of growing economic inequality on the map of American consciousness; from the right, in the Tea Party movement, a complex expression of discontent backed and at least partially funded by right-wing operatives and billionaires, and aimed at the de-legitimization of the “nanny state”; and the recent round of post-Ferguson protests spurred at least in part by the militarization of the police in black and brown communities around the country.
The Birth of a New System
Otherwise, a moment of increasing extremity has also been a moment of — to use Fraser’s word — “acquiescence.” Someday, we’ll assumedly understand far better how this all came to be. In the meantime, let me be as clear as I can be about something that seems murky indeed: this period doesn’t represent a version, no matter how perverse or extreme, of politics as usual; nor is the 2016 campaign an election as usual; nor are we experiencing Washington as usual. Put together our 1% elections, the privatization of our government, the de-legitimization of Congress and the presidency, as well as the empowerment of the national security state and the U.S. military, and add in the demobilization of the American public (in the name of protecting us from terrorism), and you have something like a new ballgame.
While significant planning has been involved in all of this, there may be no ruling pattern or design. Much of it may be happening in a purely seat-of-the-pants fashion. In response, there has been no urge to officially declare that something new is afoot, let alone convene a new constitutional convention. Still, don’t for a second think that the American political system isn’t being rewritten on the run by interested parties in Congress, our present crop of billionaires, corporate interests, lobbyists, the Pentagon, and the officials of the national security state.
Out of the chaos of this prolonged moment and inside the shell of the old system, a new culture, a new kind of politics, a new kind of governance is being born right before our eyes. Call it what you want. But call it something. Stop pretending it’s not happening.
Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He is a fellow of the Nation Institute and runs TomDispatch.com. His latest book is Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World (Haymarket Books).
The New American
by Jack Kenny
It’s not a question likely to be asked in a high-school civics class or found in a college textbook, but as a reality check on how government really operates, try answering the following: Which agency, bureau, or department of the federal government exercises jurisdiction over the following matters?
• Tracking down fraudulent Native American art.
• Investigating pickpocketing.
• Teaching children about the dangers lurking on the Internet.
• Warning elderly senior citizens about scam artists.
• Instructing nightclub strippers to beware of sex traffickers.
If you guessed it is the Department of Homeland Security, you could be working for the federal government. The above activities constitute but a partial list of varied activities of the third largest federal department (after Veterans Affairs and Defense), ostensibly created to protect us from acts of terror and natural disasters. Rather than asking how tracking down pickpockets and educating strippers helps America fight terrorism, we might ask how DHS has not yet put preventing jaywalking on its ever-growing list of responsibilities. Then again, maybe it has. The department has done such a thorough job of empire building that no one seems to know exactly what it’s doing, including the DHS officials themselves.
“They’ve kind of lost their way,” former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge told the Albuquerque Journal in an interview with the New Mexico newspaper last year. “I was proud to be associated with those men and women, but it just seems to me … the focus — the primary focus — has been substantially diminished.”
“It needs to be dismantled,” Representative John Mica (R-Fla.) said last October. “We put this together after 9/11 to communicate and coordinate better but instead it’s a monument to bureaucracy.”
The activities cited above make up but a partial list of the expanding role of DHS, and only in one state at that. The Albuquerque Journal published a series of articles last spring on the department’s activities in New Mexico. Officials were asked how, among the many other DHS activities, they were keeping America safe by detecting forgeries of Native American art.
“Native American culture is very important here in New Mexico, and we want to preserve that,” Kevin Abar, assistant special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations explained to the Journal. Preserving culture might seem a far cry from defending the nation from terrorist attacks, but an investigative unit that has, according to the DHS website, 10,000 employees and 6,700 special agents in more than 200 U.S. cities and 47 foreign countries, is obviously waging a war on terror that knows no bounds. Some agents will even call on strip club dancers for their country, the Journal reported:
Last June, HSI’s Albuquerque field office announced it would meet with adult dancers and strip club owners to train them about the dangers of sex trafficking and how to recognize it. Agents are planning seminars and workshops at retirement centers to inform older residents about lottery, IRA and jail fraud schemes. And the agency last month announced a program called iGuardian that will send DHS officers into schools and nursing homes, where they will teach young and old alike about the dangers of Internet predators.
“We want to secure the Internet and make sure the individuals on it understand the pitfalls, and that they can become victims,” Abar said.
Creating the Behemoth
The Department of Homeland Security was created by an act of Congress signed by President George W. Bush in November 2002, just over one year after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. Though the United States’ 17 intelligence agencies failed to discover and foil the September 11 plot, President George W. Bush was able to convince the Congress that adding another layer of bureaucracy would somehow make us safer.
The act merged 22 federal agencies into one vast department, charged with the task of preventing terrorist attacks, reducing the nation’s vulnerability to terrorism, and assisting in the recovery from any terrorist acts or other disasters that might occur, natural or man-made. That might seem like a large enough task for any organization. But Homeland Security Investigation officers have been working with local police and state attorneys general on investigations of gang activity, pickpocket rings, and missing and exploited children. “We are working side-by-side, literally — we are entrenched with our state and local counterparts,” special agent Abar said.
What is often called “mission creep” might, in the case of DHS, more accurately be described as “mission gallop.” While Congress has recently reached an impasse over funding the department, it is worth noting that Homeland Security’s annual spending has kept pace with the ever-expanding scope of its activity. With a total workforce of 240,000, DHS last year spent $61 billion, more than double the $29 billion it received in 2003, its first year of operation. The overreaching and redundancies in the department’s operations are apparent in the 78 “fusion centers” it has established throughout the United States to process and share information with local, state, and federal law-enforcement agencies. Started in 2006, the fusion centers were from the beginning not limited to monitoring terrorist activities, though that is a major part of their mission. They also gather information related to other criminal activities. On both counts their work often overlaps that of the FBI, which in addition to its criminal investigation units, has Joint Terrorism Task Forces at various locations around the country, as well as Field Intelligence Units reporting to the Task Forces. In 2013, the Government Accountability Office looked at fusion centers in eight cities and found that all eight overlapped at least partially with the FBI’s counterterrorism work and four of them were doing nothing the FBI wasn’t already doing.
In 2012, an investigative committee of the U.S. Senate published the results of a two-year long investigation of the DHS fusion centers and concluded:
Despite reviewing 13 months’ worth of reporting originating from fusion centers from April 1, 2009 to April 30, 2010, the Subcommittee investigation could identify no reporting which uncovered a terrorist threat, nor could it identify a contribution such fusion center reporting made to disrupt an active terrorist plot.
One example of “useless information” cited by the Senate committee was a report on a foreigner with an expired visa who had been caught speeding and shoplifting; the man’s name was added to the list of “known or appropriately suspected” terrorists. A reviewer of the report wrote the only factual basis for the terror-suspect designation was that he “tried to steal a pair of shoes from Nieman Marcus…. I have no idea what value this would be adding to the IC [Intelligence Community],” the reviewer wrote. The Senate report also detailed questionable spending practices such as purchases of “shirt button” cameras, $6,000 laptops, and big-screen televisions. One center, the report said, spent $45,000 on an SUV that a city official used for commuting. The report, called “Safety at Any Price,” also cited the purchase of 13 snow-cone machines in Michigan and the $45 million spent on a failed video surveillance network in Illinois as examples of “dubious spending.”
Yet most Americans were unaware of the existence of the fusion centers until one of them, the Missouri Information Analysis Center, made headlines in 2009 by including supporters of Texas Congressman and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul and pro-life activists as people to be watched as potential terrorists. A fusion center in Texas drew verbal fire from the American Civil Liberties Union for targeting antiwar activists and a lobbyist for Islamic organizations as potential threats.
“They have not solved or prevented any terrorist acts in the United States,” Wendell Oliver, a retired Virginia police officer who has written two textbooks on homeland security, told the Albuquerque Journal. “But there is also no evidence they have necessarily done any great harm — other than waste money.” It could be argued that given the type of people and organizations they have put on their “watch lists,” some of the fusion centers have also contributed to a climate of fear and suspicion that could pose a greater threat to the nation’s freedom and stability than the wasteful and duplicative spending cited in studies of Homeland Security operations. But the waste itself is harmful in that it diverts into nonproductive uses dollars that might otherwise be spent defending both security and freedom.
“We can only defend our freedoms by ensuring the dollars we spend on security are done so in a fiscally responsible manner, meet real needs, and respect the very rights we are aiming to preserve and protect,” wrote former Senator Tom Coburn, who chaired the subcommittee that produced the report. In other words, Congress and the agencies it has created should stop playing the role of a fanatic — one who redoubles his effort (and his spending) when he has forgotten his aim.
Militarizing the Police
Another area of duplication is in equipment grants to state and local law-enforcement agencies. For decades the federal government has been making surplus military equipment available through grants from the Pentagon and the Justice Department. In addition, the DHS also has its set of grants for police departments to purchase military and other equipment that is supposed to be used for counterterrorism activity, but is often used for drug enforcement or crowd control. The multiplicity of departments handling the same type of grants is almost certain to generate more spending and less accountability, since if one department denies a grant application or cuts off funding, the applicant can try the other two. By 2014, DHS had spent an estimated $34 billion to put on the streets of America’s cities and towns armored vehicles and other military hardware more commonly found in the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq.
More than a dozen armored tactical vehicles named BEARCAT (Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack) were used in Boston and Watertown, Massachusetts, in pursuit of the Marathon bombing suspects in April 2013. Last summer police in Ferguson, Missouri, turned out in riot gear, bearing automatic rifles and accompanied by a Mine Resistant Ambush Protection armored vehicle in response to violence that occurred in protest demonstrations over the shooting death of an unarmed teenager in a physical altercation with a Ferguson policeman. Andrew Becker and G.W. Schulz of the Center for Investigative Reporting noted in a December 2011 report in the online Daily Beast that Homeland Security had spent $8 million to arm police in Fargo, North Dakota, with military-style assault rifles, Kevlar helmets to withstand battle-grade ammunition, and an armored vehicle complete with rotating turret. The “menacing truck,” they reported, was being used “mostly for training and appearances at the annual city picnic, where it’s been parked near the children’s bounce house.”
“Most people are so fascinated by it, because nothing happens here,” Carol Archbold, a Fargo resident and criminal justice professor at North Dakota State University, told the reporters. “There’s no terrorism here.”
In Keene, New Hampshire, a BEARCAT purchased with a $286,000 Homeland Security grant has drawn verbal opposition from some local residents as well as ridicule from TV comedians, due in part to the fact that the biggest event each year in the relatively peaceful city of 23,000 is a display of some of the world’s largest Jack O’ Lanterns in the annual Pumpkin Festival. When the city council decided to apply for the grant, it appeared to have little-to-nothing to do with a terrorist threat. “The discussion centered mainly around how the vehicle would be deployed during routine law enforcement procedures, such as evacuating residents during a flood or policing the campus of Keene State College,” the Telegraph of Nashua noted. Keene Police Chief Kenneth Meola defended the purchase in an interview with the Telegraph. “Do I think al-Qaeda is going to target [the] Pumpkin Fest? No, but are there fringe groups that want to make a statement? Yes, and we should prepare for that,” Meola said. “It is a target in the New Hampshire region.”
Concord, New Hampshire, the state capital, also received a BEARCAT, thanks to a $258,024 grant from Homeland Security. To get it, Police Chief John Duval wrote that while New Hampshire has been spared the scourge of international terrorism, “on the domestic front, the threat is real and here. Groups such as Sovereign Citizens, Free Staters and Occupy New Hampshire are active and present daily challenges.” The biggest challenge, one Chief Duval was unable to meet, was to show evidence that any of the organizations he cited had posed any threat, let alone a terrorist threat, to the peace and safety of the Granite State. The accusation brought a sharp response and a demand for a retraction from Free Staters, a group of citizens organizing a migration to New Hampshire of Americans from other states interested in preserving and expanding an environment of social, political, and economic liberty in the state that has no general sales or income tax, no seat belt or helmet law, and “Live Free Or Die” as its motto. The New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union also voiced its concern over the police characterization of the groups as terrorist threats.
In an interview on New Hampshire Public Radio, Chief Duval said, “I attempted to state a case, it was interpreted that I was calling certain groups terrorist groups…. I do not believe they are terrorist organizations…. I accept responsibility…. I missed the mark in what I was trying to communicate.”
The “Touch and Squeeze” Agency
Perhaps none of the Homeland Security activities has generated as much controversy as the use of full-body scanners and pat-downs at airports by the Transportation Security Administration. The practice was adopted after the botched attempt of the “underwear bomber” to set off an explosion aboard an airliner landing in Detroit on Christmas Day, 2009, but the intrusiveness of the airport searches have left countless travelers feeling not safer, but increasingly angry over the invasion of privacy. In his 2012 book, Government Bullies, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) quoted an ABC News producer who received a “pat down” after she had opted out of the body scanner.
“The woman who checked me put her hands inside my underwear and felt her way around,” she said. “It was basically worse than going to the gynecologist.” A 95-year-old leukemia patient and an eight-month-old baby were among those subjected to the pat-downs, wrote Paul, who was himself detained at an airport in Nashville for refusing to submit to a pat-down after failing the body scan. He noted that Michael Chertoff, after serving as secretary of Homeland Security, left government and became a lobbyist for Rapiscan, the company that makes the body scanners. After the attempted bombing over Detroit, Chertoff turned up repeatedly in media interviews. “You could barely read or watch a report about the failed underwear bomber without also hearing from Michael about the need for naked body scanners,” Paul wrote.
The invasions of privacy might be tolerable if they actually made passengers safer by preventing bombings or hijackings. Rafi Sela, the former head of airport security in Israel, a nation with considerable experience in dealing with terrorist attacks, has called the scanners “useless.” “I can overcome the body scanners with enough explosives to bring down a Boeing 747,” he said. “That’s why we haven’t put them in our airport.”
A Standing Army
The public reaction to news about the fusion centers, the widespread unpopularity of the TSA procedures, and the lack of focus by the DHS on what its mission really is might all be contributing factors to the low morale that has been reported among its 240,000 employees. A survey last December found DHS ranked lowest in morale among “large agencies,” and Immigration and Customs Enforcement and two other DHS agencies were in the bottom three slots among all 314 agencies.
Representative Mica, who chairs a House subcommittee overseeing government operations, said Congress should change the hiring and firing authority within the department to create greater flexibility in managing the workforce. “If you don’t have the ability to hire and fire and set the standard for qualifications and if you don’t have the ability to get the best management in place then you can’t operate,” Mica said.
But Congress need not get bogged down in management and labor issues within the department, nor should it heed the frequently heard calls for greater congressional oversight at DHS. If anything the department is suffering from too much oversight from senators and representatives eager to get some of those Homeland Security grants for their states and districts. As of last fall, there were more than 90 congressional committees and subcommittees with some level of oversight responsibility for the department. For Congress to try and correct the waste, redundancies, and bureaucratic mismanagement at DHS would truly be a case of the blind leading the blind.
Yet despite its fumbling overreach and ham-handed procedures, Homeland Security is, writes John Whitehead of the civil-libertarian Rutherford Institute, “ruthlessly efficient when it comes to building what the Founders feared most — a standing army on American soil.” Before that “army” grows any larger and Congress wastes more money on it, it should be abolished, with its legitimate responsibilities returned to the parent agencies that make up the DHS. America’s safety will not be diminished and our freedom will be more secure with Homeland Security gone.
The Daily Sheeple
by Joshua Krause
This past week, the creepy “Homan Square” detention facility was revealed to the public, and the story has been trending heavily throughout the alternative media. First person accounts of suspects being whisked away to the secret building without any official record of their whereabouts, with no access to a lawyer, while being subjected brutal interrogations, sounds like something you’d hear about from some 3rd world dictatorship.
But unfortunately, it’s happening right here in America as we speak. And if this facility existed for so long without the public’s knowledge, that begs the question: are there any more of these police run “black sites” that we don’t know about?
Obviously, this doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence for America’s future. If they can get away with this today, what will they try tomorrow? I don’t think any sane American thinks this will set a good precedent.
But more importantly, if you look at Homan Square from a historical perspective, the implications of its existence are far more gut wrenching. Most despotic regimes utilize a wide variety of terror tactics to keep their people in line, but the ability to make someone disappear (which is exactly what this facility is capable of) is the most effective.
Why? Because it preys upon two of the most prolific human fears.
First of all, there is our inherent fear of the unknown. When someone disappears without a trace, our imaginations will eventually concoct the worst possible explanation. And without knowing exactly how it happened, we have to accept the possibility that it could happen to us as well, and there is no way to stop it. So if your government is capable of this, then you have every reason to follow the rules and stay in line. You never know when you might be next.
Which brings me to the second fear. It preys upon our fear of other people. There are plenty of phobias that humans are capable of, but nothing is more terrifying than what your fellow humans might do to you when nothing can stop them. Snakes can bite you, bears can eat you, and water can drown you, but only your fellow humans are capable of torturing you, and only your fellow humans know what will hurt you the most. Combine that with the fear of the unknown, and you now have the most effective method of terror and control.
But there’s also a third factor that makes this tactic so effective. Most people don’t know it, because only those who have been “disappeared” know the awful truth.
For a better explanation, I’d like cite one of the most underrated historians of our time, Dan Carlin. If you’re a history buff and you’ve never heard of him, you don’t know what you’re missing. He doesn’t just know what he’s talking about, he knows how to relate history to our lives in the present.
In this short video, he explains why the Nazis and Soviets were able to convince millions of people to enslave and murder their countrymen. When we think of the Nazis, we often believe their control was fostered by their propaganda efforts, but that was only one small piece of the puzzle. In reality, their grip on the population was built upon their ability to make people disappear.
Keep that in mind when you read about Homan Square. If that place is an isolated incident, there may still be time to stop these secret facilities before they usher in a new age of terror. But if there are already dozens of these “Homan Squares” out there that we don’t know about, and they’re just getting warmed up, we may have passed the point of no return. If we ever become a country where everyone is afraid of disappearing for the slightest reason, then we are on the fast track to the kind of goose stepping tyranny that we’ve only read about.
The Common Sense Show
by Dave Hodges
When the government is gathering information on us which goes beyond the basic census information, then we should be asking a lot of questions along the lines of “When will the surveillance gathering being conducted by the NSA turn into outright persecution”?
The Unmistakable Pattern of Tyranny and Oppression
Every advancing tyranny has two distinct stages. In the first stage, the “enemies” of the state are identified. Lists are created and distributed among law enforcement. These lists are often leaked to the public to serve as a deterrent against any thoughts of engaging in anti-government behavior. There is typically a prolonged period of demonization followed by formal labeling.
History is replete with examples when surveillance gathering turns into labeling followed by outright persecution. In fact, I cannot think of an accurate historical example of when a country engaged in a police state surveillance grid, did not eventually victimize a significant number of its own citizens.
In the second stage of tyranny, the identified groups are singled out for “corrective” action. Corrective action usually commences on an incremental basis. Following identification, enemies of the state are usually singled out for employment discrimination, travel restrictions, residency restrictions and then the inevitable incarcerations and worse begin to transpire. This pattern happens every time following the establishment of a police state in America. America does indeed meet the denotation of a police state according to the dictionary.
A totalitarian state controlled by a political police force that secretly supervises the citizens’ activities.
Once this process begins, the advancement of tyrannical persecution of the people is inevitable without a revolution. The whole process begins with unwarranted surveillance
Who Does Our Government Watch?
Last year, the National Intelligence recently released a series of declassified documents which demonstrates how the National Security Agency (NSA) has been granted carte blanche to spy on American citizens.
What can an American do to end up under the watchful eye of the NSA? The recent release of information with regard to this question led to the discovery that their agency concerns extended to those who worship in a mosque, people who write and read articles which criticizes the government, speaks publicly about their opposition to various government policies, publicly profess a belief in the First Amendment and anyone who works as a journalist.
The implications of the above mentioned groups which warrant NSA surveillance are stunning as well as frightening. Does anyone else find this very unsettling, that one can become an enemy of the state for professing a belief in the First Amendment? Imagine that you are a victim of health insurance dumping and Obamacare incompetence has left you without medical insurance, you are labeled a dissident for speaking out.
Ask the Question
With all the historical precedents, it is amazing that nobody seems to be asking the question, “When does all of this intelligence gathering become actionable”? In other words, what is the government going to do with all the surveillance data that they have acquired?
We are not going to have to wait long to answer that question as that day has arrived as evidenced by the following video.
“Corporate America is using police forces as their mercenaries.”—Ray Lewis, Retired Philadelphia Police Captain
It’s one thing to know and exercise your rights when a police officer pulls you over, but what rights do you have when a private cop—entrusted with all of the powers of a government cop but not held to the same legal standards—pulls you over and subjects you to a stop-and-frisk or, worse, causes you to “disappear” into a Gitmo-esque detention center not unlike the one employed by Chicago police at Homan Square?
For that matter, how do you even begin to know who you’re dealing with, given that these private cops often wear police uniforms, carry police-grade weapons, and perform many of the same duties as public cops, including carrying out SWAT team raids, issuing tickets and firing their weapons.
This is the growing dilemma we now face as private police officers outnumber public officers (more than two to one), and the corporate elite transforms the face of policing in America into a privatized affair that operates beyond the reach of the Fourth Amendment.
Mind you, it’s not as if we had many rights to speak of, anyhow.
Owing to the general complacency of the courts and legislatures, the Fourth Amendment has already been so watered down, battered and bruised as to provide little practical protection against police abuses. Indeed, as I make clear in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, we’re already operating in a police state in which police have carte blanche authority to probe, poke, pinch, taser, search, seize, strip and generally manhandle anyone they see fit in almost any circumstance. Expanding on these police powers, the U.S. Supreme Court recently gave law enforcement officials tacit approval to collect DNA from any person, at any time.
However, whatever scant protection the weakened Fourth Amendment provides us dissipates in the face of privatized police, who are paid by corporations working in partnership with the government. Talk about a diabolical end run around the Constitution.
We’ve been so busy worrying about militarized police, police who shoot citizens first and ask questions later, police who shoot unarmed people, etc., that we failed to take notice of the corporate army that was being assembled under our very noses. Looks like we’ve been outfoxed, outmaneuvered and we’re about to be out of luck.
Indeed, if militarized police have become the government’s standing army, privatized police are its private army—guns for hire, if you will. This phenomenon can be seen from California to New York, and in almost every state in between. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the private security industry is undergoing a boom right now, with most of the growth coming about due to private police doing the jobs once held by public police. For instance, Foley, Minnesota, population 2600, replaced its police force with private guards
Technically, a private police force is one that is owned or controlled by a non-governmental body such as a corporation. Those who advocate for privatized services and limited government hail the shift towards private police as a step in the right direction by getting the government out of the business of policing and allow market principles to dictate an officer’s success, i.e., if an officer abuses his authority, he can easily be fired.
Read the fine print, however, and you’ll find that these private police aka guns-for-hire a.k.a. private armies a.k.a. company police officers a.k.a. secret police a.k.a. conservators of the police a.k.a. rent-a-cops don’t exactly remove the government from the equation. Instead, they merely allow them to work behind the scenes, conveniently insulated from any accusations of wrongdoing or demands for transparency. Indeed, most private police officers are either working for private security firms that are contracted by the government or are government workers moonlighting on their time off.
What began as a job detail for wealthy communities and businesses looking to discourage burglaries has snowballed into a lucrative enterprise for private corporations. Today these private police can be found wherever extra security is “needed”: at hospitals, universities, banks, shopping malls, gated communities, you name it.
As historian Heather Ann Thompson notes, “private security firms have come substantially to supplement, if not completely to replace, the publicly-funded public safety presence of troubled inner cities ranging from Oakland, to New Orleans, to small towns in states such Minnesota, to entire neighborhoods—sometimes extremely rich, sometimes desperately poor—in urban centers such as Atlanta and Baltimore.”
For example, in New Orleans, a 50-person private police squad funded by a “voluntary” hotel tax is being charged with enforcing traffic, zoning and other non-emergency laws in the French Quarter.
In Seattle, off-duty Seattle Police officers moonlighting as a private security force patrol wealthy neighborhoods “approximately six nights/days a week for five hours each shift. Officers are in uniform, carry police radios and their police firearms and drive unmarked personal vehicles.”
In California, private mercenaries—many of them ex-U.S. Special Forces, Army Rangers and other combat veterans—equipped with AR-15 rifles use unmarked helicopters to police cannabis farms and cut down private gardens without a warrant.
Yet while these private police firms enjoy the trappings of government agencies—the weaponry, the arrest and shoot authority, even the ability to ticket and frisk— they’re often poorly trained, inadequately screened, poorly regulated and heavily armed. Now if that sounds a lot like public police officers, you wouldn’t be far wrong.
First off, the label of “private” is dubious at best. Mind you, this is a far cry from a privatization of police. These are guns for hire, answerable to corporations who are already in bed with the government. They are extensions of the government without even the pretense of public accountability. One security consultant likened the relationship between public and private police to public healthcare: “It’s basically, the government provides a certain base level. If you want more than that, you pay for it yourself.”
The University of Chicago’s police department (UCPD) is a prime example of how private security firms are being entrusted with the legal status of private police forces (which sets them beyond the reach of the rule of law) and the powers of public ones. With a jurisdiction that covers a six-square-mile area and is home to 65,000 individuals, the majority of whom are not students, UCPD is one of the largest private security forces in America.
The private police agency, modeled after the tactics of NYPD chief William Bratton, criminalizes nonviolent activities such as loitering, vandalism, smoking marijuana, and dancing “recklessly” and punishes minor infractions severely in order to “discourage” violent crime. To this end, the UCPD can search, ticket, arrest, and detain anyone they choose without being required to disclose to the public its reasons for doing so. Not surprisingly, the UCPD has been accused of using racial profiling to target individuals for stop-and-frisks.
Second, these private contractors are operating beyond the reach of the law. For example, although private police in Ohio are “authorized by the state to carry handguns, use deadly force and detain, search and arrest people,” they are permitted to keep their arrest and incident reports under wraps. Moreover, the public is not permitted to “check the officers’ background or conduct records, including their use-of-force and discipline histories.” As attorney Fred Gittes remarked, “There is no accountability. They have the greatest power that society can invest in people — the power to use deadly force and make arrests. Yet, the public and public entities have no practical access to information about their behavior, eluding the ability to hold anyone accountable.”
So what happens when the government hires out its dirty deeds to contractors who aren’t quite so discriminating about abiding by constitutional safeguards, especially as they relate to searches and heavy-handed tactics? If you think police abuses are worrisome, security expert Bruce Schneier warns that “abuses of power, brutality, and illegal behavior are much more common among private security guards than real police.”
As Schneier points out, “Many of the laws that protect us from police abuse do not apply to the private sector. Constitutional safeguards that regulate police conduct, interrogation and evidence collection do not apply to private individuals. Information that is illegal for the government to collect about you can be collected by commercial data brokers, then purchased by the police. We’ve all seen policemen ‘reading people their rights’ on television cop shows. If you’re detained by a private security guard, you don’t have nearly as many rights.”
Third, more often than not, the same individuals are serving in both capacities, first on the government payroll, then moonlighting for the corporations. Not surprisingly, given the demand for private police, you’ll find that police in most cities work privately while they are off-duty. Some private officers started off as public officers, then made the switch once they saw how lucrative the field could be.
This gives rise to another interesting phenomenon, a schism, if you will, between what is permissible in the private sector versus and what is allowed in the public sector, and how it affects those who travel between both worlds. We saw this played out in St. Louis, Missouri, when an off-duty police officer, working a secondary shift for a private security firm, shot and killed a teenager.
Fourth, what few realize is that these private police agencies are actually given their police powers by state courts and legislatures, which do not require them to act in accordance with the Constitution’s strictures or be accountable to “we the people.” As legal analyst Timothy Geigner observes, “They’re hiding from public scrutiny behind the veil of incorporation, which may rank right up there among the most cynical things a government organization has ever done. It’s a move one might find in the corporate republic of some dystopian novel. I say that because it’s truly not as though the police departments in question are attempting to claim some kind of exemption within public records law. They’re just putting up a stone wall.”
It’s not as if we have much in the way of local, publicly accountable police forces now; they all answer to the militarized agencies that provide their equipment and training. These private cops simply swell the government’s ranks and serve as the private arm of the law.
In fact, the Department of Justice has been one of the most vocal advocates for the benefits that private security—which has twice the budget and manpower as their government counterparts—can provide in partnership with public police. These so-called “benefits” are outlined in the DOJ’s guidebook entitled “Operation Partnership: Practices and Trends in Law Enforcement and Private Security Collaborations,” which focuses on how both sectors can share cutting-edge technology, information, and personnel resources. Sounds cozy, doesn’t it?
As history shows, we’re not forging a new path with these private police agencies, either. In fact, we’re simply following a model established long ago, not only by Hitler and Mussolini, who relied on private guards to do their bidding, but also by the likes of Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, who relied on their own private police force, the Pinkertons, who had broad authority to “harass or hurt anyone their employers deemed a threat—be they a worker trying to get a fair wage or a poor person begging near the doorstep of a mansion.”
Nevertheless as historian Heather Ann Thompson points out, “despite countless historical accounts of why private policing of public spaces is a bad idea in a democracy, ordinary Americans have raised little ruckus today when, once again, only those Americans with money are assured access to security and protection.” Thompson continues:
Worse, astonishing faith has been expressed in the much-touted proposition that private police forces, in fact, act in the best interests of the public. Where is the concern, if not the outrage, that there is virtually no regulation when it comes to private policing in America’s inner cities? Not only can individuals with little if any training police public spaces, but in various locales they are even authorized to make arrests and wield firearms. What is more, unlike public police, private security officers are not required by law to read a suspect his or her Miranda Rights and, more incredibly, they are allowed to use force, in some circumstances even deadly force, if they deem it necessary to do so.
What we’re finding ourselves faced with is a government of mercenaries, bought and paid for with our tax dollars, all the while claiming to be beyond the reach of the Constitution’s dictates.
When all is said and done, privatization in the American police state amounts to little more than the corporate elite providing cover for government wrong-doing.
Either way, the American citizen loses.
Foreign Policy Journal
by John Chuckman
(Photo: katesheets/Flickr )
In the years since 9/11, American police alone have killed at least twice as many Americans as died in that single large event, the annual toll of police killings being somewhere between 500 and 1,000, the variation owing to many such events going inaccurately reported by police.
Each year, somewhere between 30 and 40 thousand Americans are killed in automobiles, the level having declined in recent years. Each year about 15,000 Americans are murdered, down from about 25,000 not too many years ago. Each year about 100,000 Americans are killed by medical malpractice. About 40,000 Americans commit suicide annually. These are just a few causes of death in America, not the largest ones but some of the more interesting.
Let’s get a rough total estimate of what has happened to Americans from these causes in the time since 9/11. Just using the low number in each case for fourteen years, 7,000 Americans were killed by their own police, 420,000 were killed by something parked in their garage, 210,000 were murdered by fellow citizens, 1,400,000 were killed by friendly family doctors, and there were 560,000 who just decided to pack it in for one reason or another. The total of these various causes of death rounds to 2, 600,000 deaths, nearly 867 times the number of Americans killed in 9/11, 867 collapsed sets of twin towers, nearly 62 collapsed sets of towers per year.
So why are we spending countless billions of dollars fighting terror, an almost insignificant threat to our well-being? We spend a total by various estimates of between 1 and 5 trillion dollars (yes, that’s trillion with a “t”), although such totals can never accurately be given owing to secrecy, false accounting, and the immense waste that is an inherent part of all military and intelligence operations. Even in the crudest military terms of “bang for the buck,” ignoring all the death and destruction and ethical issues, just as the military routinely does in its grim work, the War on Terror has to be the greatest misdirection of resources in all of human history.
Or is it? Perhaps there are other reasons for the War on Terror, reasons never discussed in newspapers or on news broadcasts, reasons which make the expenditure of such colossal amounts against such an insignificant risk acceptable to those doing the spending? Unless American leaders are all lunatics, I think there must be.
Most people are aware that the War on Drugs has been a stupendous flop, with a great deal of resources having bought nothing except a general diminishment of personal freedoms, construction of new prisons, and make-work employment for many unnecessary police and prison guards. But each year the War on Terror spends many, many times the amount spent on the War on Drugs, and what has it bought us? A far greater debasement of freedoms, almost wiping clean parts of the Bill of Rights, raising to a high status in our society such dark and anti-democratic forces as security agents of every kind and the military, increasing exponentially the secrecy of government and thus giving voters no hope for an informed ballot, making countless future enemies in the world, and causing Americans willy-nilly to support filthy acts identical to the hateful work of military juntas who made tens of thousands of civilians disappear.
I think there are only a couple of explanations for this waste of resources which otherwise employed could have made the world an immeasurably better place. They are assisted greatly by what I’ll call the “crime in the news” effect, although I might just as well call it the “advertising effect,” because advertising works on people’s minds through its seeming omnipresence and repetition planting suggestions, suggestions not entirely different to those planted by the stage-performer hypnotist in the minds of his volunteers from the audience.
It has been demonstrated many times that daily reports of violent crime, even when the crimes occur outside a listening community, cause people to become apprehensive about many ordinary activities such as letting kids walk to school or go to the park to play. And no advertising campaign in history could begin to compare to the complete audience saturation of “terror this or that” in our newspapers, magazines, and on-air. Surely, no totalitarian government ever more completely blanketed its people with fearful suggestions than does America’s “free press” today. You literally cannot hear a news broadcast or read a newspaper with the word terror missing, a fact which keeps most people in an unquestioning frame of mind about what properly should be regarded as sinfully immense expenditures to no useful purpose, at the same time conditioning them to surrender precious freedoms. For most people, the fact is that fear overcomes both logic and courage.
Americans, along with people in other lands heavily under American influence, have voluntarily given up claims to what we believed were well-established rights. Yes, there is some controversy over the high-tech equivalent of Big Brother’s telescreens, over the construction of immense new or expanded agencies such as the TSA and NSA, and even some over a seemingly-endless set or wars, but much less than you might have expected. There has been relatively little controversy over America’s smashing its adherence to everything from the Geneva Conventions to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the complete disregard for established basic principles of common law in America’s international behavior goes largely unremarked, at least in America.
In a very real sense, America’s establishment, its government within the government consisting of leaders in security and the military and of its great corporations, has been given license to create a kind of Frankenstein monster which now stands ready with terrible powers to do its bidding. It certainly isn’t just terrorists who need fear, it is every person with the impulse in his or her breast for justice, fairness, and human decency, and it is every country which has an impulse for independence from America’s imperious declarations of how they should carry on their affairs. I don’t like the expression New World Order, but it does in fact communicate something of what has been pursued relentlessly by America’s establishment since 9/11 with an unbounded sense of its entitlement and privilege. The awesome creature it has brought to life – which already runs secret prisons, tortures, conducts non-judicial killings, and supports horrible governments in many places – is no respecter of principles or human rights or even basic decency. We all know from history and common experience that over time any well-funded, established, and privileged institution grows, altering the terms of its charter and spreading its influence always farther, just as today American intelligence, bound by charter not to spy on Americans, spies on them all the time through various technical arrangements effectively going around its charter.
This monster serves ambitions abroad – crush democracy anywhere it proves inconvenient or a barrier to the interests of America’s establishment, as in Ukraine and in Egypt and as attempted in Venezuela, but also crush old arrangements which have produced advancing societies in other lands, even though they are not yet democratic, as in Syria, Iraq, or Libya.
In a relatively short time the monster has made a chaotic wasteland of such previously prosperous lands as Iraq and Libya, and it is now hard at work doing the same to the lovely, ancient land of Syria where it is allied in its efforts with some of the ugliest violent fanatics you could hope to find anywhere. Its acts have resulted in many hundreds of thousands of deaths in these places, countless refugees and injuries, the destruction of much precious infrastructure, and left people to wallow in chaos for years to come.
It created a coup, and thereby a civil war, in Ukraine, reducing that impoverished land still further, and it allied itself for the effort with the kind of stormfront militia trash that even the pathetic FBI surely would infiltrate and investigate were they active in the United States. It did all this just to gain temporary psychological advantages over Russia, a country whose leadership today far better represents principles of international peace and good order – not without some distant echo of irony for those of us raised on a steady diet of Cold War propaganda – than those in Washington who never stop mouthing slogans about rights and democracy which they routinely ignore. We all have an immense investment in America’s reckless game of “playing chicken” with Russia, the only country on the planet capable of obliterating most of Western civilization. I’ve never liked frat-boy pranks and humor, but in this case the overgrown frat-boys at the CIA are guffawing over stupidities which risk most of what we hold precious.
But the monster serves also to intimidate America’s own population. Don’t hold big or noisy demonstrations against injustice, don’t complain too much about authorities and truly abusive police, don’t communicate with others who may be viewed as undesirables for whatever reasons by the government, and don’t describe any group which has been arbitrarily-declared terrorist as being merely freedom fighters – any of these acts or many others risks arbitrary powers that never formally existed before.
Homeland Security has stocked huge amounts of crowd-control equipment and weapons, and it was a military general who quietly announced a few years back that the Pentagon was prepared should martial law became necessary in America. America’s local police forces, long ago having earned an international reputation for violent, militaristic behavior, have been given surplus military-grade crowd-control equipment. The FBI seeks new authorities and capabilities regularly, the same FBI with such a sorry record, going back to its origins, of abusing authority.
In my mind, and I think in the minds of many, America’s posture towards the world resembles a pug-ugly bully confronting you on the street, someone who just will not let you pass until you give him what he demands. The bully is the country’s immensely wealthy and influential privileged establishment, having the country’s general population now completely in tow, fearful and intimidated, quite apart from being in large part underemployed or unemployed. The bully naturally pays no attention to international organizations and agreements, believing himself above the rules and constraints to which others hold. The organizations are either simply ignored or, as in the case of the UN, coerced into behaving along acceptable lines, America having spent some years recently refusing to pay its legally-required dues just to prove a point as well as having been involved in more than one cabal to unseat a disliked Secretary General.
And I fear this gives us just a hint of what is likely to come because, as we should never stop reminding ourselves, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
The world’s hope for relief from a form of international tyranny comes from the growth of countries like Russia, China, India, and Brazil. I wish I could add the EU to the list, but it seems almost as supine and voiceless as America’s own general population or Canada’s present government. Only forces capable of saying “no” to America’s establishment and building interest blocs to oppose its excesses offer redress and relief in future, and it is only through political contention that new international organizations are likely to emerge, ones with some power and effect. Americans all give lip service to competition in economics, but the concept applies no less to the spheres of politics and world affairs. And Americans all give lip service to democracy, not realizing that its governing elites represent the tiniest fraction of the world’s population and resemble in their acts abroad about as aristocratic a government as ever existed.
The Common Sense Show
by Dave Hodges
As I was investigating the FEMA camp run and maintained by the Chicago PD, I kept running into the topic of privatized prisons. I first wrote about privatized prisons almost seven years ago. Subsequently, I decided to take a fresh look and what I found was shocking. The privatized prison industry owns and controls nearly every elected official. State officials are literally “stealing” money from education and putting that money into the privatized prison system. Most states have guaranteed privatized prisons 100% occupancy rates and the conditions of these prisons are increasingly barbaric and clearly fit the definition of slave labor.
The United States Has the Highest Incarceration Rate In the World
There are over two million inmates in American prisons, or one in 743 people. Communist China, which has five times the population of the United States, has 500,000 less inmates. The United States has only 5% of the world’s population, but has 25% of the world’s prison population.
In 1972, the U.S. had less than 300,000 inmates. By 1990, the incarceration rate had skyrocketed to one million and by today, the rate has more than doubled again. Again, I ask why? Because there is very big monied interests behind the growth industry of privatized prisons.
According to Charles Campbell, author of The Intolerable Hulks (2001), the privatization of the prisons movement has its origins in the Revolutionary War period. England began to put undesirables and prisoners in prison ships. The U.S. fully embraced the use of private prisons during the Reconstruction Period (1865-1876) in the South, following the Civil War. Plantation owners and business owners needed “free” replacements to compensate for the loss of their previous slave laborers. In 1868, convict leases were awarded to private business interests in order to bolster their labor workforce and the practice continued until the early 20th century.
Today, this practice has been taken over by private corporate interests who are increasingly taking over our prison system and this unholy practice is no less exploitative than the slave labor abuses of the past and as in all forms of slavery, it is being fueled by profit.
In California, state government spends more on prisons than on colleges. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that the growth of state spending on prisons in recent years has far outpaced the growth of spending on education. After adjusting for inflation, state general fund spending on prison-related expenses increased over 140 percent between 1986 and 2013. During the same period, state spending on K-12 education increased only 69 percent, while higher education saw an increase of less than six percent. Last year, the NAACP decried the trend towards spending more money on privatized prisons than on education!
Rates of violent crime and property crime have actually fallen over the years, even while incarceration rates have risen. Therefore, it appears that states’ more aggressive incarceration policies are behind the higher prison rates. Private prison companies have been accused of supporting and even sponsoring legislation such as “three-strikes,” “truth in sentencing” and harsh immigration enforcement laws, which drive up incarceration rates. From the beginnings of the privatized prison system, in the early 1980s, both CCA and GEO, the two largest private prison corporations, were politically-connected. CCA co-founder Tom Beasley was a former chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party and had served on a committee that selected the head of Tennessee’s prison system.
“These policies which have led to longer prison sentences and more people being incarcerated, through their Political Action Committees (PACs) and contributions by their executives and employees, private prison companies have given over $6 million to state politicians and more than $835,000 to federal lawmakers since 2000, according to the JPI report”. The privatized prison corporations are buying off the politicians to put more people in prison for longer periods of time and they are doing so with our money.
More prisoners equates to more profit for private prison companies, and the greatest success of the CCA and the GEO has been in the federal system where the number of prisoners held in privately-operated facilities has grown at an average annual rate of 10%.
Meet America’s Slave Masters
According to the Pew Center in their study The Long Reach of American Corrections (March 2009), it costs nearly $79 per day to house an inmate which is 20 times the cost of putting someone on probation. Wouldn’t it make sense to sentence nonviolent offenders to probation and save the taxpayers’ money? Of course it would, unless you are Vanguard Investments, the largest owner of privatized citizens in the form of the Correctional Corporation of America (CCA), GEO (2nd largest private prison company), Wackenhut, Viacom, AOL Time Warner and they are all controlled by the Vanguard Family of Funds. You remember Vanguard don’t you?
The problem of prison slave labor, goes right to the top of this government and these corporations have a powerful political ally.
This is the same Vanguard that moved money prior to the Gulf Oil Explosion in a manner which made massive sums of money for key investors in the same manner as did Transocean, Goldman Sachs and Halliburton. And one of those insiders that benefited from the Gulf Oil Explosion was President Obama as he was vested in Vanguard I and Vanguard II. The late Bob Chapman reported on this Obama conflict of interest as did I in an earlier article. Obama’s corruption is not limited to his investors having and acting on foreknowledge of the Gulf Oil Explosion, he is an active investor in the slave labor motivated Prison Industrial Complex.
President Obama benefits and profits from prison slave labor.
Overt Slave Labor
Many of Wall Street’s giants have been invited to the party and are reaping huge profits. The following is a list of the corporations that contract with CCA and GEO to produce American slave labor goods. They include Intel, Northern Telecom, TWA, Nordstrom’s Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Wireless, 3Com, Revlon, Macy’s, Pierre Cardin. Texas Instrument, Dell, Compaq, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Lucent Technologies, Target, and countless more. All of these businesses are excited about the economic boom created by prison slave labor and most actively lobby for mandatory sentencing.
Generally, prison inmates in state run penitentiaries generally receive minimum wage for their work. In Agenda 21 controlled Colorado, they only receive about $2 per hour, well under the minimum for state run prisons. However, Colorado inmates are rich compared to inmates in privately-run prisons where they can receive as little as 17 cents per hour. This is worse than Walmart slave labor in China! The highest-paying private prison run by the CCA pays 50 cents per hour for “highly skilled positions.” I am not sure how this is even legal as I do not remember reading anything about the 13th Amendment being repealed.
Prison Slave Labor Has Become One of the Mainstays of the American Economy
If there is a silver lining as America has found an antidote to the loss of manufacturing through the various free trade agreements (i.e. NAFTA, CAFTA). Unfortunately, prison slave labor is the solution. The Left Business Observer identifies private corporate interests benefiting from prison slave labor which includes the manufacturing of “93% of all paints and paintbrushes; 92% of stove assembly; 46% of body armor; 36% of home appliances; 30% of headphones/microphones/speakers; and 21% of office furniture. This is a kind of Walmart for prisons and your State Legislatures are promoting this as a kind of cost savings, but they guarantee 90-100% prison bed occupancy rates. And we wonder why mandatory sentencing has replaced judicial discretion when deciding the disposition of a criminal case. Sadly, this is only the tip of the iceberg.
Time Off for Good Behavior
In these normally overcrowded prisons, inmates may get their sentences reduced for “good behavior,” but for any violation of prison rules, they get 30 days tacked on to their sentences. I thought only a judge, under the Fifth Amendment due process provisions of the Constitution, can impose a prison sentence. This translates into more profits for CCA. According to a study of New Mexico prisons, it was found that CCA inmates lost their “time off for good behavior” at an 800% higher rate than inmates in state run prisons. CCA’s prisons are notoriously understaffed and this under-staffing leads to more acting out by the inmates which in turn leads to longer sentences resulting in more profit.
Therefore, one of the profit motivators for CCA is administration by neglect. In other words, they make more money if the prisons are poorly run and decidedly more dangerous.
Rockefeller Scams the System in Search of Profits
In New York, Nelson Rockefeller’s heralded anti-drug law, initiated in 1973, provided for a mandatory prison sentences of 15 years to life for possession of four ounces of any illegal drug. Fifteen years to life for possessing four ounces of marijuana? Mr. Rockefeller, what could possibly be the motive for such strict drug laws? Answer, the same motive on why Obama has his money in Vanguard.
Besides Nelson Rockefeller, the privatized prison system has enjoyed having low friends in high places for a very long time beginning with Nancy Reagan’s “Just say no” and her husband’s War on Drugs program. Ironically under Reagan, his CIA traded guns for drugs in the Air America Iran-Contra Affair. Enter former president, George H. W. Bush, and an ex CIA director, and things only got worse. Bush helped fuel the growth of the industry during his presidency. And upon leaving office, he became a player in privatized prisons.
Under Reagan and Bush, Federal drug laws became more draconian. Presently, Federal law mandates five years imprisonment with no hope of parole for possession of five grams of crack or 3.5 ounces of heroin. Further, Federal law provides for 10 years imprisonment for possession of less than two ounces of crack. A sentence of five years for cocaine powder requires possession of 500 grams. This puts the United States on a par with nations like Turkey with regard to excessive sentences handed out for simply drug possession. There can only be one outcome from this trend curve, more slave labor and a lot more smiling faces on Wall Street.
A Problem That Is Growing Exponentially
Let’s take my state, Arizona, and let it serve as a case in point with regard to this troublesome issue. Critical services, such as road repair and education funding, are being obliterated in the name of supporting the growing cancer of privatized prisons. New Arizona Governor, Doug Ducey, has begun his push for lawmakers to spend an additional $70 million a year to house more inmates in private prisons. Ducey wants to build another private prison in Arizona. This is coming at a time when the State of Arizona owes the public schools $1.3 billion in voter mandated fees. The courts have upheld the state’s debt to the schools but the Governor refuses to release the funds. The Arizona Governor and the State Legislature are stealing money from the classroom and handing it over to the privatized prison system. Of course, Ducey could use the universal excuse of all children, “that everyone else is doing it”, and he would be correct as this is a nationwide phenomenon.
I would encourage all readers to look into your state’s practices in this area. You will find that the majority of the legislation that results in locking people up for minor offenses and for longer periods of time, originates out of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and this is why “Truth in Sentencing” is the same in New York as it is in California. These laws are being written by the CCA lobbyists at ALEC functions, in which 2,400 State Legislators attend and they are handed “model legislation” to take back home and subsequently mandatory sentencing becomes the law of the land.
Ducey is so bought and paid for that even a fellow Arizona Republican, State Senator, Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, wants to know why the prison population, after leveling off for several years, has taken a sudden jump. She asked about the state’s 1994 “Truth in Sentencing” law that requires inmates to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence before being released. I am certain that if Allen wants to return for another term, she will quietly fade away as she will be chastised by the Republican party and will be defeated with PAC money from CCA and GEO.
The present privatized prison system operates on the same principle and it is quite effective. The average person is sentenced from 5-7 years in prison. There is no rehabilitation, only the prison life which produces a more hardened criminal. When the convict is released, they find it virtually impossible to get a job because of their ex-con label. Within three years of release from prison, 90% of all prisoners return. Can you imagine if every restaurant had a 90% return rate from its customers? The private prison business may have the best return on investment in America.
Should we really be concerned about the “FEMA camp” in Chicago? Apparently not, please consider the following quote as it leaves one concluding that what is going on in Chicago is the status quo with regard to incarceration practices within the United States.
“The private contracting of prisoners for work fosters incentives to lock people up. Prisons depend on this income. Corporate stockholders who make money off prisoners’ work lobby for longer sentences, in order to expand their workforce. The system feeds itself,” says a study by the Progressive Labor Party, which accuses the prison industry of being “an imitation of Nazi Germany with respect to forced slave labor and concentration camps.”
We are witnessing a convergence of incarceration practices under one philosophy. Soon, every lock up facility will be run like the Chicago FEMA camp.
Since the advent of privatized prisons in 1984, America has witnessed the passage of laws that require minimum sentencing, without regard for any extenuating circumstances. Our prison system is experiencing a much larger percentage of work by prisoners, thus creating profits for Wall Street which in turn motivate the incarceration of more people for longer periods of time. And privatized prison corporate investors make happy campaign contributors. Therefore, you can bet that the proverbial poop rolls down hill to the cops and the push is on to incarcerate more and more. Some argue that is fine, but when one of the fastest growing segments of our prison population are children, we all need to sit up take notice and take action.
Again, this system is very effective and efficient. With only five percent of the world’s population, the United States has over 25% of the world’s prison population. As a people, we are very ingenious as our corporations have learned to make money from virtually any life circumstance. Do your kids have a “get out of jail card”? What do I mean? Part two will look at how the system is designed to funnel children directly into prison and the problem is growing at an exponential rate. Are you willing to allow your child to become a slave to your state’s private prison system? If not, part two of this series is required reading.
Totalitarian Rule in America: False Flags, Secret Prisons, Extrajudicial Assassinations, Media Censorship, The Rounding Up of Alleged “Terrorists” …
By Joachim Hagopian
Every day signs are looming larger than life as we know it in the wealthiest nation on earth that it’s about to crash and burn, forever changing not for the better. The latest wake-up call arrived in a Guardian article earlier this week. The story features a secret prison not unlike the CIA torture detention centers all over the world whereby the Chicago police hold rounded up US citizens for hours or days at a time for interrogation. The same internationally illegal roundups of suspected “potential terrorists” (which by latest Gestapo America standards can easily be you or me) that the CIA and military black ops deploy globally, are being covertly conducted not only in Obama’s hometown where his thug buddy Rahm rules, but likely every US city and soon coming to a neighborhood near you.
The complete loss of constitutional civil liberties where we can be taken in without warrant, locked up and shackled for indefinite periods of time, where to all our friends and family we simply disappear, those totalitarian Orwellian tactics are here today in secret CIA-like “black site” locations throughout the nation. Lawyers are summarily turned away. Those imprisoned are not booked nor entered in any record-keeping system, only to typically be beaten and shackled. It was determined that one man at the Chicago site already died while in custody. If this inhumane brutality hidden from public view is operating in one major US metropolis, it means that these secret police detention centers are no doubt also up and running in secret locations throughout America. This worst case scenario of police state USA is just one more nightmare come true. And this comes after it’s been determined that Americans are at least 100 times more likely to die at the hands of murdering police than in all other industrialized nations.
For numerous decades the United States has engaged in both high intensive and low intensive counterinsurgency and counterterrorism wars around the globe. But now in the twenty-first century all those same black ops wars have come home to roost right here in the land of the not-so-free. To police state USA all American citizens are the potential enemy. It’s also fair to say that the police in countless jails and prisons have unlawfully beaten and killed thousands of US citizens while in police custody over the years. Sadly, this form of murder in covert black sites where inmates are literally tortured to death takes police state brutality and slaughter to a whole new unprecedented level. And of course those of color and poor are most often the victims. Two years ago it was reported that a black man is killed by police every 28 hours. And with the deaths spiking last year, it’s more apt to be closer to every 24 hours now.
On a far less shocking and dramatic note, the latest FCC 3 to 2 vote on Thursday to “maintain net neutrality” has been treated in the press as a triumph for the people. Yet before we internet users celebrate, several keys factors still need to be pondered. We already know the overriding history in North America where giant transnational corporations enjoy more individual rights than us individuals in this age of globalism. The people may have averted a disastrous lost battle but the war of corporate greed winning out over the rights of people goes on. The FCC’s ruling declared that the internet falls under the rules and regulations of the telecommunications industry and we know what’s been happening there. Six corporate entities virtually control all the world’s major media outlets.
Secondly, the 300-page details of the FCC decision has yet to be released. Literally armies of telecom lawyers will be analyzing every line of 300 pages with a fine-tooth comb just searching for the myriad of potential loopholes by which the large corporate internet providers can find ways to squeeze additional money for the giants at our expense. Finally, the FCC has a special new rule called the “general conduct rule” whereby as in FCC Chairman Wheeler’s words, “it wants to referee” in getting to decide what it deems unfair or “hurts consumers, competition or innovation.” With such a vague and wide open birth, the FCC wields enormous power to interpret its 300 pages of new rules in what it considers running afoul of “proper conduct” and it may not be in favor of us internet consumers. Meanwhile, the telecom lawyers have unlimited time and money to finagle, lobby and court FCC’s favor, not unlike Big Business rules over the EPA in getting away with all kinds of unregulated pollution and Big Pharma literally owns the FDA.
Big Gov operates in deviously sneaky ways. It knows ruling against net neutrality now would cause a storm of fury in America that temporarily Washington is choosing at this moment to avoid. But as mentioned, the mountains of fine print perfectly suited for loopholes contained in 300 pages of rules can easily turn this ephemeral victory into another staggering long term defeat for the people. It’s simply akin to the hard kill being deferred to the soft kill strategy, quietly sneaking through little changes that in their totality will eventually peck away at net neutrality and ultimately kill it. We need to always remember that in recent years gov.corps is one entity that historically favors corporate greed and profit over the well-being of a bunch of humans. The power elite’s agenda remains to offer less internet services, less access to not only the internet but to particular websites that will come at higher prices to access in the future.
Indeed the growing threat of our tyrannical fascist government cutting off access to independent alternative news sites falling victim to state censorship is still very real and extremely foreboding. Increasingly the elite’s agenda is to disempower the global masses by keeping them ignorant, dumbed down and in the dark without any access to the truth. Taking away much of the World Wide Web is their sinister strategy that’s still operating at all times despite this recent decision.
The totalitarian government in Washington has realized that their propagandizing mainstream media machine has been rapidly losing its credibility and audience. Upwards of 4 out of 5 Americans today aren’t even tuning in to the likes of NBC’s Brian Williams’ fake show for MSM’s inaccurate reporting of the latest unfolding events in the globalized censored world. And that trend arrived long before we learned Williams turned out to be another mainstream liar.
The totalitarian government’s fusion into corporate fascism has long recognized that supplying the world with free internet allows the masses access to alternative independent news sites for far more accurate reporting of world news and developments. At increasing risk of censorship black outs and persecution, independent news strives to tell the truth to the rest of the world, exposing the official narrative of pure lies and evildoing perpetrated by the criminal syndicate acting as the rogue government. A continued free and independent internet news outlet making suppression of the truth difficult poses a real threat to fascism. That’s why free internet is still under attack.
The other reason the internet poses a threat to New World Order is its enormous capacity to provide instant global communication between billions of humans around the globe that together possess a potentially powerful resistance movement opposing the oppressive tactics being implemented by globalized multinational governments. Ultimately an awakened, informed and empowered citizenry of the world united in solidarity poses the biggest threat to global fascism and its New World Order. That’s why through Executive Order Obama has given himself supreme dictatorial authority to shut down the internet in America under the pretense of a national emergency.
As another in-our face, over-the-top, draconian measure that reveals how today’s totalitarian police state is fast closing in on us is the feds’ agenda to impose its latest sinister plan to impose mandatory vaccine immunizations on every American adult as well as child. Since 9/11 the feds have been systematically stripping away all our liberties. But when forcing potentially lethal injections on us citizens against our will, the tyrants in Washington will likely have a real fight on their hands. With overwhelming evidence piling up indicating vaccines pose a deadly danger to millions of humans, the feds forcing injections on all US adults may be the catalyst that sparks a genuine grassroots revolt not unlike what the Boston Tea Party was to the American Revolution. With an increasing segment of the US population becoming sick and tired of their government’s rampant oppression, their battle cry may be “enough is enough with your abusive totalitarian bullshit.” The US government has long overstepped both its legal and ethical boundaries that the people may now be reaching the tipping point toward active rebellion.
Of course everything gov.corps does has an intended purpose. With this latest Big Brother violation – the National Adult Immunization Plan (NAIC), it appears the feds are actually intending to create a national confrontational backlash. Ever since 9/11 they’ve been preparing for the civil unrest that they’ve been insidiously provoking and escalating. With the US police state fully militarized, mechanized and mobilized, apparently Washington’s nearing ready to unleash its absolute brutality full force against its own people.
In the same way the US lies and propaganda are attempting to demonize Putin as the bad guy excuse to start WWIII, baiting him to react to relentless over-the-top Empire transgressions, the feds are using the same demented strategy now on us too. They want Americans to react and oppose them so they can bring out their big guns and initiate those long awaited FEMA camp roundups we’ve been hearing about for years – all for the sake of quelling the unrest they themselves incite as their excuse to “restore civil order”. It’s downright demonic but unfortunately that’s where our nation and world appear to be heading, led by an elitist handful of sub-human psychopaths that within a short period of time are bent on killing off at least 90% of us currently inhabiting this planet.
The neocon 9/11 inside job shows more about the treasonous, demonic elements controlling the US government (along with Saudi-Israeli assistance) that executed nearly 3000 innocent Americans to justify waging permanent war around the world than it does 19 box-cutting Moslem terrorist-stooges borrowed from the Saudi government accomplice. Yet the evildoers responsible for 9/11 have targeted Islamic religion as their scapegoat and polarized the entire world with dozens of false flags purposely designed to demonize Moslems worldwide. By waging false flag terrorism events like January’s Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, between Bush and the Obama regime they have maintained the US and the world in a constant state of emergency, using that designated status as their carte blanche false flag policy to get away with anything and everything evil.
As an example, with the total dismantling of the US Constitution since 9/11 that for more than two centuries guaranteed Americans their civil liberties, now the criminal syndicate of our shadow rogue de facto government currently in power is waging undeclared war against the American people. Meanwhile, increasing numbers of Americans at grave risk to themselves are growing boldly courageous enough to vocally object to the tyranny and criminality of the treasonous feds who’ve systematically violated both their oath to uphold and protect the Constitution and the Constitution itself as our nation’s no longer recognized rule of law. This criminal element inside our own government is not only killing innocent people around the world but is now beginning to brazenly murder innocent American citizens on US soil with increasing regularity. Recall Obama a couple years ago envisioning out loud his use of drones to kill citizens here in the US in the not too distant future. And now he’s selling killer drones to US allies that inevitably will fall into ISIS/al Qaeda hands as the rogue government’s fake enemy and true ally that will join the Empire in the slaughter of Americans.
For years the federal government has been arming and militarizing its robotic henchmen in preparation for waging all-out war against the mounting anger and civil unrest coming from the American people. The exponential growth of the Homeland Security Department and FEMA, the pathological surveillance state, the militarization of US police state, the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that authorizes military force to break into our homes and arrest law-abiding US citizens without warrant, without charges and imprison Americans without due process or legal representation for an indefinite period of time, all of these highly disturbing developments act as hardcore evidence of the government’s not-so-hidden war against the American people.
For some time now Obama has been both secretly and not so secretively negotiating a full frontal assault on America with implementation of the nightmarish UN Agenda 21whereby under the rationale of sustainability the UN will work in conspired unison with DHS to relocate much of the US population away from rural and suburban areas into denser populated urban zones. According to their plan, the US has already been broken down into various regional sections most of which will end up unpopulated. Similar to the method of how “national security” has been used to cram down our throats in order to justify stripping us of all our rights and freedom, Agenda 21 uses the transparent façade of “sustainability” as its oppressive criminal excuse to confiscate and steal our homes and force people into federal urban housing. Counties throughout the States and beyond have been busily enacting Agenda 21 laws using eminent domain to illegally force people off their own land and property.
Those who object are labeled noncompliant dissidents joining the activists and journalists who’ve been protesting and exposing the federal crimes against humanity. They are the designated enemy to be rounded up and placed in the more than 1000 FEMA concentration camps that have been waiting to be filled. In the last decade Halliburton has contracted with gov.corps to refurbish and build hundreds of prisons throughout America. To justify mass murder and imprisonment, the feds are now openly calling those of us who object to their lethal madness homegrown terrorists. Yet it is they who are the true terrorist-traitors reigning terror, theft and destruction down on this entire planet. We law abiding citizens are determined patriots willing to stand up for our rights, indeed standing up for humanity and the very survival of our human species. Members of the ruling elite are the perverse, insane psychopathic criminal mass murderers.
The US government since 9/11 has turned the United States of America into a military-security-prison complex with multiple state and city information analysis fusion centersworking 24/7 around the clock in cahoots with militarized law enforcement and NSA surveillance creating dossiers on every single person in America. Those of us who object, resist and/or oppose the insanity of what’s happening will either be imprisoned or killed.
Obama has been secretly signing a host of Executive Orders (EO’s) without Congressional approval, many of which violate existing laws rendering his orders illegal. But the crime syndicate behind the current de facto government operates above all law. The criminals in power do not answer to anyone but the ruling elite. And though they’re all bona fide, soulless psychopaths, they’re utilizing their brute force to subjugate innocent, good people in bondage or worse yet, simply murdering them.
Perhaps the most graphically telling EO of all illustrating their sinister nature is Executive Order 13603, which grants Obama authorization to seize possession of every possible resource, from our property to “all food storage facilities” (meaning all food and water belonging to every person inside our homes). This extremist, maniacal edict is designed to enforce our submission, rendering us totally dependent on Big Brother government or face the obvious – starvation and extermination.
President Obama has quietly transferred his intelligence gathering apparatus from the superseded NSA now under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security. The reason is simple, NSA can only collect data but is not authorized to act on it. Now DHS does have federal authorization to act against all the dissident voices who’ve become outraged over how our government has betrayed the United States and our people. If not already, very soon DHS will be moving to lock up those observed and classified by NSA as targeted security threats who’ve been placed on growing watch lists. Among this list, a dissident’s gradient status as a security threat target is measured on how large a conduit disseminating the lowdown truth to the public that automatically places him or her at the top of the list to be silenced.
Neocon puppet Bush summed it up when he smugly pronounced, “You’re either with us or against us.” Ever since he uttered those words, the US population has become polarized into two growing divided camps. The one camp consists of the totalitarian enforcers that are members of the criminal government agencies having drawn the line in the sand with their massive bulk data collection separating themselves from their opposing camp – those of us citizens who disagree with their Orwellian nightmare-come-true. A third group of Americans are sitting on the fence, though leaning toward the oppressors as in the Stockholm syndrome, either employed in the Fortune 500 transnational corporations unwilling to bite the immoral hand that feeds them or part of the larger flock of sheeple representing Americans either too ignorant, weak or fearful who remain in denial or have stuck their head in the sand pretending or hoping that what’s happening above ground really isn’t happening at all. They are in for very a rude awakening.
Everyone part of this demonic system simply plays their part in doing what they’re told, not unlike the Nazi guards at the Jewish concentration camps during WWII. So now you can see why the psychiatric field has been co-opted and taken over by our Gestapo totalitarian government that represents the oppressive crime syndicate. Mental health clinicians are being mandated to brand anyone with a label in order to declare them certifiably ill with a mental disorder diagnosis that can be applied conveniently to anyone regardless of how stable, well-adjusted or strong their mental and emotional health may actually be. This labeling for control purposes will come in handy as to deciding who goes where under martial law.
Now you know why oppressive draconian laws have been springing up all over the country as well as globally usurping homeowners’ rights to even grow their own vegetable gardens in their own backyard. Harassing and shutting down community food co-ops that undermine local citizens’ resources and independence has been part of the feds’ agenda. In fact, anyone who is preparing to live off grid as a resourceful survivalist/prepper is also in their crosshairs. It’s even become unlawful in many municipalities to be a caring humanitarian these days. Serving food to the homeless in parks is now considered a crime across America.
For a long time Obama and the feds have been attempting to confiscate citizens’ Second Amendment rights to bear arms with the passing of stricter gun control legislation to such an extreme of using Sandy Hook as yet one more horrendous false flag. For that singular purpose, Obama has signed twenty-three Executive Orders on gun safety alone. Already early in 2015 Obama is at it again with his plan to take guns away from gun owners. His latest unilateral move is to ban a bullet commonly sold in local sporting goods stores that’s been among the most popular ammunition in America for generations, used in multiple rifles as well as a new kind of revolver. The catch here is the .223 caliber “green tipped” bullet is known to pierce bullet proof vests typically worn by police state nation. By outlawing and collecting all the most popular ammo and making it strictly for the feds’ use, when his government goes to war against Americans, it’ll obviously give his murdering death squads a distinct, unparalleled advantage.
During the global spread of the Ebola virus last August, Obama signed executive orders authorizing authorities to begin involuntarily rounding up and housing against their will the homeless and mentally ill to even include persons with known respiratory ailments (EO13295). All of these draconian measures demand total dependence and docility from its citizenry – or else. While Americans are now trapped in a domestic police state, cops are killing innocent people in the US every single day at an unprecedented, alarming rate. If you resist, you risk dying. And even if you don’t resist, you still risk dying.
The constant attack on citizens struggling to maintain their modest yet eroding standard of living desperately trying to stretch less money to cover the steadily rising costs of survival spells a very uncertain and even doubtful future for both Americans and people throughout the world. The ever-shrinking middle class in both North America and Europe is the inevitable, by designed outcome of globalization, privatization, destabilization, rising war and massive human impoverishment. The unstable future of the world feeds the emerging New World Order along with its demonically Orwellian control of the entire global population.
Ever since the breakup of the Soviet Union nearly a quarter century ago, the US as the sole global superpower has aggressively been surrounding the entire Russian border placing missiles on its doorstep aimed directly into Russia while the US Empire-NATO-European Union has co-opted as geopolitical puppets the entire former Soviet bloc nations of Eastern Europe including a number of Central Asian countries on the globalized chessboard hemming in Russia and China into checkmate position.
Despite this prodding, walled in aggression used as bait to manipulate Putin into reacting and fighting back, he has repeatedly outsmarted the US and its puppets by showing remarkable restraint. But the US has pushed him to the very limit. Understandably he has strengthened ties with neighboring China and formed an economic union with other emerging powers Brazil, India and South Africa (BRICS) in formidable economic self-defense. Just this week India’s cabinet approved of a BRICS development bank. Meanwhile, increasing financial reports have predicted that the US dollar and petrodollar as the standard international currency will be dropped. And that may spell economic disaster for the United States.
In response to the threat that the West poses, a coalition of nations in the East – Russia, China and India – have all been forced to prepare for the impending war the US Empire has been instigating. Clearly it is America and Europe that are the wrongful aggressors that have been deliberately setting the stage for World War III against nuclear-powered Russia and China. Also clearly in the court of world opinion, Putin is winning and once again Obama and his neocon aggressors are losing. The real problem though is all of us on earth might lose because of Obama and his puppet masters’ deadly games.
Everything in this world now is reversed from the way it once was and should be. It is painful to realize that we Americans were always brainwashed and taught that we were the good guys and the Russian and Chinese Communists were always the bad guy oppressors. However, now roles seem very much reversed whereas the relentless, instigating aggressor pushing for what could easily become nuclear war and the end of the world, American Empire has become the most dangerous rogue state on earth flailing in its final destructive acts before it collapses. The tragic irony and pathetic hypocrisy is that the United States always in its holier than thou self-righteousness criticized the totalitarianism of the Soviet Union and China. Yet it now appears that the darkest shadows of the gulag are operating as “black holes” right here in America, the land of the no longer free but the enslaved and the walking dead who haven’t awakened from their slumber of what used to be to find the once greatest nation on earth the most destructive predator spiraling into oblivion but seemingly determined to take the entire planet down with it.
In reality the US government is simply acting on orders from the ruling Western elite that has ordered destruction of the United States. The ruling elite has taken the entire human species hostage and like their Islamic State stooges, the psychopathic oligarchs are busily beheading the entire human civilization in a relentless combination of both soft and hard kill tactics designed to exterminate 90% of the global population. This is the first known human genocide – the earth’s sixth mass extinction and first caused by a handful of demonically possessed sub-human species that has been in control of planet earth for many centuries. We owe it to all life on planet earth to fight back.
Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former US Army officer. He has written a manuscript based on his unique military experience entitled “Don’t Let The Bastards Getcha Down.” It examines and focuses on US international relations, leadership and national security issues. After the military, Joachim earned a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and worked as a licensed therapist in the mental health field for more than a quarter century. He now concentrates on his writing and has a blog site at http://empireexposed. blogspot. com/.
The Common Sense Show
by Dave Hodges
Countless of brave and selfless reporters risk their lives on a daily basis to bring the public the news on how we are systematically losing our freedoms as we rush headlong into a police state unlike what the world has ever seen. This is a dangerous profession, just ask the families of Hastings, Breitbart and Clancy. And what are we all risking our lives for? Are we are risking our lives trying to save people who would rather watch the NFL than stand up to the tyranny that is destroying their country and ultimately their family?
If the reporters from the Guardian and Infowars who uncovered the following information were not risking their lives to bring the public this information, then who would stand at the gate? And what did these brave reporters risk their lives for?
I Do Not Recognize America
America has lost her soul because it has lost Jesus. As a result, America has lost her sense of morality. Our nation has but a few who possess true courage! As a people. we stand for nothing. We accept tyranny as if it is normal and that is the way that it is supposed to be. When CIA rendition camps are exposed in the news, the public does not pay attention as they fast forward the DVR to the weather and the sports. And now that these same camps have come to roost on American soil and are run by local law enforcement, Americans collectively turn the page and pretend it does not matter. Only this time, it is Americans that are being tortured, not foreign terrorists.
What did we Americans think was going to happen when we allowed DHS to militarize the police under Program 1033? If we allow the Federal government, in the name of the CIA, to torture suspects, how long did we think it is going to be until the militarization of the police would lead to the same thing at the local level? That day has arrived as we have the Gestapo, in the form of local police running concentration camps inside of our cities.
Police Torture Center In Chicago
With regard to law enforcement in Chicago, we are acquiescing in the face of tyranny. We are accepting thuggery and the existence of torture programs which are supported and funded by our locally elected leaders. For those of you that do not think that FEMA camps are real, you may want to pay close attention to the rest of the contents of this article. To those who are blinded by cognitive dissonance, rest assured that we have operational FEMA camps torturing and killing Americans today. The proof resides in the following paragraphs.
In an investigative report, The Guardian boldly alleges that rogue units of the Chicago Police Department maintains a secret interrogation compound in Homan Square. Citizens have accused the Chicago police of having subjected Americans to rendition. Victims are unable to be found by family or attorneys while undergoing enhanced interrogation similar to the CIA.
Take the case of Brian Church. He was not processed and he was shackled to a bench for a day. Nobody knew where he was at and he was not allowed to speak with anyone. However, Brian was luckier than many, he came out alive.
Of course, the police deny all claims. However, if the Chicago police are innocent of the charges, then why did they harass Infowars reporter, Joe Biggs, for attempting to investigate the alleged scene of illegal detention and torture?
In the following two videos, Infowars reporter Joe Biggs, describes how he was harassed by Chicago undercover police and kicked off of a public sidewalk outside of a secret black torture site in Chicago. If the police have nothing to hide, then they should have opened the doors of this alleged “black site” and allowed Mr. Biggs the right to investigate the allegations with the full cooperation of the police. Secondly, Biggs summarizes his findings with regard to this facility. A tip of the hat to Mr. Biggs and the Infowars team for some very “gutsy” reporting. I just cannot help wondering if this kind of quality reporting isn’t wasted on a soulless nation of sheep who will likely deny the content of the reports because it is easier to stay in denial than it is to actually do something.
Stunning Revelations by Alex Jones
If you fit the definition of a sheep, you may not want to watch this stunning and informative report prepared by Alex Jones and Infowars because the following 13 minute video clip contains court documents which shows that the Chicago PD denies due process, tortures subjects and suspects and prisoners have died while inside of the Homan FEMA camp facility. Alex’s report is not for the faint of heart. Do you realize that, like so many other people in the Independent Media, that Alex Jones and Joe Biggs are risking their lives to bring you this information. America owes them the respect of watching every minute of their report. Then you need to ask yourself why you are not doing anything about this?
The fact that this is out in the open with irrefutable proof, makes it impossible to deny the truth. Gone are the days when the brave colonists at Lexington and Concord would oppose a superior military force. Gone are the days when the defenders of the Alamo fought to the last man in defense of their liberty. Gone are the days when young college students would be dragged off to jail as they were protesting an illegal war in Vietnam. If Americans do nothing, then they are accomplices to this tyranny. If you are unwilling to stand up to the Chicago PD and all like them, then you may as well as don Swastika armbands because you are a thug through acquiescence. For those of you who are reading these words, have watched the evidence be presented and you continue to do nothing, you are a willing accomplice to torture and murder.
It has always been my policy to not be drawn into posture of advocating violence. But that does not mean that we should not act. And like the Nazis, the KGB and the Stasi, if they start coming to our homes to drag us to these facilities, then the prohibition to violence will be lifted.
The Public Has Options
One does not have to be a man’s man to confront the beginning of the use of the NDAA. Even a sissy can become an activist. Even the 98 pound weakling has viable alternatives. First, they can unelect all incumbents and subsequently fire the Chicago Police Chief. Secondly. Chicago activists can keep this site under surveillance and videotape all who enter and leave. But if we do not have the guts to stand up to this tyranny, then we can at least protest passively and in a manner that will exact a cost against the thugs running the city of Chicago.
Nationally, the public can boycott Chicago. Yes, that’s right. If you are planning a trip to Chicago cancel your trip. Even a sissy can do that. Even a sissy can write a letter and not travel to Chicago.
I am not proposing that that boycotting Chicago is the final answer to their police department operating a FEMA camp. However, I am pointing out that even the weak in body and mind can do something to oppose this tyranny. Please allow me to provide you with an example.
The public can be outraged all day long. Until the Chicago officials are made to feel the heat, they have no motivation to change. The opportunity to have an impact on Chicago tourism is great. If the traveling public stayed away and made their reasons known, the merchants would be screaming at city government to do something. The public holds all the cards.
Chicago Tourism: 2013 VISITOR VOLUME
The Chicago tourism industry is flourishing and is a mainstay source of support for the people and businesses of Chicago.
Total visitation in 2013 was 48.48 million, an increase of 4.2% over the previous record of 46.51 million, achieved in 2012.
Domestic visitation in 2013 was a record 46.96 million, an increase of 4.4% over 2012 levels.
Overseas visitation for 2013 achieved a record 1.378 million, a gain of 0.7% over 2012 levels.
A plan so simple and risk free that even a sissy can do it. And when someone does something like this, they are no longer a sissy because they have done something.
There is one more thing to consider. We have a civic duty to report criminal behavior. To report these despotic actions on the part of the Chicago Police Department, we can all report this gang activity to the following phone number: Gang Hotline Telephone: 312.746.GANG (312.746.4264) ; TTY: 312.746.4276. In other words, you can even put their tyranny back in their face.
This is activism for sissies, yet it could be effective if we made it our mission to punish Chicago for this thuggery. Write one letter, make one phone call and encourage others to boycott Chicago. How hard is that? One doesn’t have to have much courage to do that!
The Price of Apathy
Alex Jones mentioned a quote from Solzhenitsyn that I have used many times to point out the cost of not acting.
“And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family?
Edmund Burke accurately said “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”.
By Andre Damon
In April 2004, the world was shocked and horrified by the release of photographs of sadistic torture carried out by US military personnel at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Detainees at the prison, most of them locked up for opposing the US military occupation, were beaten, tortured, sexually assaulted and killed.
At the time, the World Socialist Web Site explained that the crimes revealed in the photos and the psychology underlying them could be understood only in relation to the brutality of social relations in the United States, together with the dirty colonial aims of the war itself.
The WSWS further warned that
“such a military, accompanied by a growing army of professional ‘civilian’ mercenaries, represents a danger not only to oppressed peoples in the Middle East, Central Asia and elsewhere, but to the democratic rights of the population in the US.”
A decade later, this assessment has been fully borne out. On Tuesday, the Guardian newspaper revealed the existence of what it describes as a “black site” on the West Side of Chicago, where police detain, beat and torture prisoners, while keeping their whereabouts secret from their families and attorneys.
The newspaper writes:
“The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.”
Among those detained at the facility was Brian Jacob Church, one of the “NATO 3” who were entrapped by Chicago police in 2012 in connection with protests against the US-led military alliance, which was meeting in Chicago.
Church was taken to the secret facility and handcuffed to a bench for 17 hours. Along with two other protestors, he was set up by police on terrorism charges and subsequently sentenced to five years in prison.
Vic Suter, another participant in the protests, said that she was taken to the facility and interrogated while shackled to a bench for eighteen hours before she was allowed to see a lawyer.
The Guardian writes that detainees taken to the facility report having been beaten and otherwise tortured by police. In 2013, one detainee was found unconscious in an interview room at the facility. He later died.
On Thursday, the Intercept corroborated the Guardian’s account, interviewing another torture victim at the facility who was handcuffed across a bench and hit in the face and groin until he agreed to provide false testimony to police.
The revelations follow the report last week by the Guardian that Richard Zuley, one of the lead torturers at the Guantanamo detention center, used similar techniques to secure false confessions from murder suspects when he was a detective with the Chicago Police Department.
Chicago has a long history of police violence. It is also the political home of Barack Obama and has been run since 2011 by Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former White House chief of staff.
The Obama administration, far from repudiating the horrific and criminal actions of its predecessor, has deployed the apparatus of police violence ever more directly against the American people. A series of events has marked the increasingly open application within the borders of the United States of the murderous methods of the “war on terror” tested out and perfected in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia and Yemen.
· In September 2010, the Obama administration ordered raids on the homes of leaders of the Anti-War Committee and the Freedom Road Socialist Organization in Minneapolis and Chicago on charges of “providing material support to terrorism.”
· In May 2012, Chicago police arrested the “NATO 3,” charging them with conspiracy to commit terrorism.
· In March 2013, US Attorney General Eric Holder declared that the president had the right to kill American citizens without a trial or any legal due process, including within the borders of the United States.
· Just one month later, in April 2013, the city of Boston was placed under de facto martial law following the Boston Marathon bombings, with residents told to “shelter in place” while armored vehicles and helicopters patrolled the streets and police carried out warrantless house-to-house searches.
· In June 2014, the American Civil Liberties Union released a report entitled “War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing.” The ACLU reported that the Defense Department had transferred $4.3 billion in military hardware, including armored vehicles, helicopters, and belt-fed machine guns, to local police departments.
· In August 2014, the authorities responded to protests against the police murder of unarmed teenager Michael Brown with a military/police crackdown. Hundreds of peaceful protesters were arrested, shot with rubber bullets or exposed to tear gas, and over a dozen members of the press were detained.
The Obama administration is presently seeking a new Authorization for Use of Military Force, nominally to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), but with no geographical boundaries defined. On Wednesday, three Brooklyn residents were arrested in connection with this new war on ISIS, clearly raising the potential for this second “war on terror” to become an occasion for police-military operations within the US “homeland.”
These developments express the growing convergence of militarism abroad with the attack on democratic rights within the US. What ties these two processes together are the class interests of the financial aristocracy and the criminal methods it employs in the defense of its wealth and power.
In pursuit of these aims, the ruling class seeks to mobilize the most backward and reactionary sections of the population, including sadistic prison guards and fascist-minded police detectives. But the ultimate responsibility for these crimes rests with forces at the highest levels of the state.
It is worth recalling that late last year the Senate released a report implicating the Bush administration in a brutal torture regime carried out at Guantanamo and CIA “black site” torture centers throughout the world. Far from anyone being held accountable for these crimes, those who ordered and carried them out have defended their actions, while the Obama administration has sought to block any prosecution of those responsible.
The actions of the ruling class express the character of American capitalism, which is based on parasitism, fraud, criminality and an economic order in deep decline. The American ruling class has no response to the crisis of its system and the inevitable growth of social opposition other than violence and repression.
Shock Report: Domestic Black Sites Now Operational: “When You Go In, No One Knows What’s Happened To You”
by Mac Slavo
For nearly two decades alternative media has warned of government internment camps where citizens would be disappeared, detained and tortured with no regard for their rights. For nearly two decades the notion has been dismissed by the general population as just another conspiracy theory.
But a new report out of Chicago suggests that not only are such facilities real, they have now been actively integrated into the nation’s law enforcement apparatus.
The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.
The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.
“Homan Square is definitely an unusual place,” Church told the Guardian on Friday. “It brings to mind the interrogation facilities they use in the Middle East. The CIA calls them black sites. It’s a domestic black site. When you go in, no one knows what’s happened to you.”
Source: The Guardian
According to those who have been detained at the site against their will and absent their natural and constitutional rights, the Chicago facility is exactly what you might expect from a government run internment and detention center.
- Family members and attorneys are unable to locate a detainee because those arrested and sent to the black site are never entered into booking databases. They are simply “disappeared.”
- Detainees are beaten by police in what can only be described as torture.
- Access to phone calls and judges are restricted so once you are in there is no way to call for help to let anyone know you are there
- Attorneys are denied access because the site has been deemed a high security facility
- People are regular shackled for extended periods of time
Keep in mind that the people in these facilities, because they are never sent through proper booking channels, are being held without charge or trial, a gross violation of the U.S. Constitution.
We’ve previously warned that these are exactly the kind of scenarios that would result from anti-terrorism legislation like The Patriot Act and the National Defense Authorization Act.
On December 5th , ahead of Congressional voting, Senator Rand Paul warned that the new legislation would allow the government to detain American citizens under terrorism laws without evidence, charge or trial. Specifically, Paul cited the government’s own broad definitions and characterizations for domestic terrorism or suspicious activity as involving those who, among other things, own guns, ammunition or store food.
The very fact that this bill was ever penned and allowed to get as far as it has gotten in our Constitutional Republic is cause for concern. A glimmer of hope existed for a few weeks when the President claimed he would veto it if it came to his desk. As has been the case throughout this administration’s term, however, our hope was for naught. Someone, somewhere needs this legislation to pass. To what end we can only speculate.
In the following video Senator Rand Paul sounded an eerie warning. As has been proven with the Chicago black site, his warnings have now come to pass:
Know good and well that someday there could be a government in power that is shipping its citizens off for disagreements.
Do you want to have your government have the ability to send you to Guantanamo Bay for indefinite detention?
…As a suspect. We’re not talking about someone who has been tried and found guilty. We’re talking about someone suspected of activities.
Rand Paul, Ron Paul and scores of Americans who repeatedly warned about this were designated as having gone off the reservation.
It’s not so far out of the sphere of possibility now, is it?
Given the recent activities of government with regards to stockpiling weapons of war, ammunition, body armor, riot gear, and armored vehicles, one can’t but help to think that they are planning on something serious taking place in America.
Evidence for the existence of black sites, known up until this point as government run internment camps, or FEMA camps, has been presented to the public for years with little interest. And chances are that the majority of the public will likely brush this report off as a non-issue, just as they have done before.
But make no mistake. This site and others like it are real. And one day, should the government be allowed to continue with such operations, it may well be you or your family members that get detained and disappeared.
And when we say disappeared, we mean disappeared:
“It’s sort of an open secret among attorneys that regularly make police station visits, this place – if you can’t find a client in the system, odds are they’re there,” said Chicago lawyer Julia Bartmes.
This is America, 2015.
by Cassius Methyl
Between 2015 and 2017, the Pentagon will have the ability to decipher human voices in surveillance audio even if background noise makes the covertly recorded conversations inaudible.
This may bring to mind the surveillance audio secretly recorded through our smartphones when they are in our pockets. On or off, we know now that our conversations are being recorded by a wide array of electronic devices, and our conversations we used to consider private are actually being stored in data collection facilities like the one in Utah aptly titled the ‘Utah Data Center’.
With this multimillion dollar technology, our seemingly private conversations can be stored and analyzed by government officials even if the background noise is too much for a normal audio recording.
Newly released documents from DARPA show that they are in the third phase of their ‘RATS’ program (Robust Automatic Transcription of Speech). This information indicates that they are going to great lengths to make sure that secretly recorded conversations can be analyzed by the government.
According to the documents, “the research division of a government agency will be testing the speech activity detection algorithm to incorporate into their platform.”
The ‘platform’ is an insidious word for massive, incomprehensible surveillance grid with an unspecified endgame. This ‘platform’ opens doors up to the powers that be, infinite doors to be utilized with what we have every reason to believe is nothing but malicious intent.
According to a USA Today article “DARPA has spent $13 million on RATS. It now wants to spend another $2.4 million, contract records show, to make the final push to make the system operational by the Air Force as early as this year but by 2017. Other agencies, particularly those in the intelligence community, will also use the system once it’s operational.”
The program also seeks to recognize different languages, and filter surveillance audio by recognizing keywords. This may also imply that people in other countries will be targeted.
The US government was also caught hacking into billions of SIM cards recently.
An important question to ask would be, how will they actually put this to use?
Will the government try to start prosecuting people in legal cases with the data collected with the surveillance grid being covertly imposed around us? Perhaps it should be phrased, when will they start using this surveillance data to incarcerate people?
We are surely all aware of the fact that smartphones, certain TV’s, and a wide variety of other devices are actually functioning microphones in a surveillance grid being set up that is apparently a high enough priority to the powers that be to be worth millions of dollars in funding.
So we all know this is happening, but why? Where is this going, how far will they go in analyzing this data and how will they utilize is to prosecute and target people who oppose the interests of the US government and their allies?
The actual plethora of potential malicious uses of this data is essential to speculate on. As activists and people concerned about the state of our society and the unchecked power of the US government and other organizations, we must think long and hard about these things. I highly recommend you do research on DARPA, and try your best to fully comprehend how this technology could be utilized against political opponents, dissidents, activists and innocent Americans.
Please share this with everyone. This info is relevant to every single person around you.
Located in a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side is where, according to the Guardian, one can find the domestic equivalent of a CIA “black site” – an illegal, off-the-books interrogation compound used by Chicago special police units, one which renders “Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside”; a place whose former occupants say is where you end up when you are “disappeared”; a place which confirms that when it comes to the eternal “who is better – us or them” debate, there really is no difference: “It brings to mind the interrogation facilities they use in the Middle East. The CIA calls them black sites. It’s a domestic black site. When you go in, no one knows what’s happened to you.” It’s a Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib rolled into one. In short: it is a place where the US constitution and basic human rights have absolutely no access.
And it may be located in a building just down your street.
According to an exclusive piece by the Guardian that is sure to send not only shivers down the spine of those who are still paying attention, but ripples across the “land of the free”, not least because if there is one dark site on US soil, there are countless more – places where every single constitutional right of US citizens is trampled on – the secretive warehouse known as Homan Square is the latest example of Chicago police practices that echo the much-criticized detention abuses of the US war on terrorism. However, there is one huge difference: while those abuses impacted people overseas, Homan Square – said to house military-style vehicles, interrogation cells and even a cage – trains its focus on Americans, most often poor, black and brown.
Every former communist block country had them: hidden, dark places where the secret police could have their way with you, and even kill you if it so desired, and nobody would have any clue or recourse of action; something for which the “evil empire” was mocked by the “free western world.” As it turns out, the “evil empire” can now be found in at least one of the most populated American cities:
Unlike a precinct, no one taken to Homan Square is said to be booked. Witnesses, suspects or other Chicagoans who end up inside do not appear to have a public, searchable record entered into a database indicating where they are, as happens when someone is booked at a precinct. Lawyers and relatives insist there is no way of finding their whereabouts. Those lawyers who have attempted to gain access to Homan Square are most often turned away, even as their clients remain in custody inside.
What exactly takes place at Homan square? Well, if it prohibited by the constitution, changes are you can find it in this red-bricked warehouse in west Chicago. Among the alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:
- Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
- Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
- Shackling for prolonged periods.
- Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
- Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.
- At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.
The place had been largely shrouded in secrecy until the Guardian managed to find some people who were willing to talk:
It’s sort of an open secret among attorneys that regularly make police station visits, this place – if you can’t find a client in the system, odds are they’re there,” said Chicago lawyer Julia Bartmes.
Chicago civil-rights attorney Flint Taylor said Homan Square represented a routinization of a notorious practice in local police work that violates the fifth and sixth amendments of the constitution. “This Homan Square revelation seems to me to be an institutionalization of the practice that dates back more than 40 years,” Taylor said, “of violating a suspect or witness’ rights to a lawyer and not to be physically or otherwise coerced into giving a statement.”
Actually, based on the revelations about how the open and democratic US state deals with opposing voices, the practice continues to this date and at a level that would make George Orwell blush. it is, however, hidden for the most part, and usually takes place in the shadows, although increasingly those among the population who are not too stoned, too transfixed by their iApps and sitcoms, or too depressed to care, are starting to notice. That is not to say that the superstate won’t deny it is, at times, the moral and ethical equivalent of the basest of middle-eastern “barbarians” it is waging an ideological war against (if only on behalf of the military-industrial complex).
Much remains hidden about Homan Square. The Chicago police department did not respond to the Guardian’s questions about the facility. But after the Guardian published this story, the department provided a statement insisting, without specifics, that there is nothing untoward taking place at what it called the “sensitive” location, home to undercover units.
“CPD [Chicago police department] abides by all laws, rules and guidelines pertaining to any interviews of suspects or witnesses, at Homan Square or any other CPD facility. If lawyers have a client detained at Homan Square, just like any other facility, they are allowed to speak to and visit them. It also houses CPD’s Evidence Recovered Property Section, where the public is able to claim inventoried property,” the statement said, something numerous attorneys and one Homan Square arrestee have denied.
And yet, when a Guardian reporter arrived at the warehouse on Friday, a man at the gatehouse outside refused any entrance and would not answer questions. “This is a secure facility. You’re not even supposed to be standing here,” said the man, who refused to give his name. A former Chicago police superintendent and a more recently retired detective, both of whom have been inside Homan Square in the last few years in a post-police capacity, said the police department did not operate out of the warehouse until the late 1990s.
So it’s a “new thing” – but don’t worry, it’s all about being “patriotic.” Like the NSA, or the Department of Homeland Security. Because one never knows just which US mall the next “terrorist” will blow up.
Which is probably why in detailing episodes involving their clients over the past several years, lawyers described mad scrambles that led to the closed doors of Homan Square, a place most had never heard of previously. The facility was even unknown to Rob Warden, the founder of Northwestern University Law School’s Center on Wrongful Convictions, until the Guardian informed him of the allegations of clients who vanish into inherently coercive police custody.
“They just disappear,” said Anthony Hill, a criminal defense attorney, “until they show up at a district for charging or are just released back out on the street.”
And while the ubiquitous “terrorism” excuse for any and every extra-constitutional action could apply here as well, the reality is that Homan Square is hardly concerned exclusively with terrorism. Several special units operate outside of it, including the anti-gang and anti-drug forces. If police “want money, guns, drugs”, or information on the flow of any of them onto Chicago’s streets, “they bring them there and use it as a place of interrogation off the books,” Hill said.
Guantanamo In West Chicago
While America was distracted, focusing its attention on the water cooler scandal of the day, America raised at least one and likely countless more “Guantanamo centers”, places where the detained have absolutely no human rights. Only it wasn’t in Cuba: it was among America’s own suburbia.
On a smaller scale, Homan Square is “analogous to the CIA’s black sites,” said Andrea Lyon, a former Chicago public defender and current dean of Valparaiso University Law School. When she practiced law in Chicago in the 1980s and 1990s, she said, “police used the term ‘shadow site’” to refer to the quasi-disappearances now in place at Homan Square.
“Back when I first started working on torture cases and started representing criminal defendants in the early 1970s, my clients often told me they’d been taken from one police station to another before ending up at Area 2 where they were tortured,” said Taylor, the civil-rights lawyer most associated with pursuing the notoriously abusive Area 2 police commander Jon Burge. “And in that way the police prevent their family and lawyers from seeing them until they could coerce, through torture or other means, confessions from them.”
Stalin, or any other banana republic dictator would be proud.
Police often have off-site facilities to have private conversations with their informants. But a retired Washington DC homicide detective, James Trainum, could not think of another circumstance nationwide where police held people incommunicado for extended periods. “I’ve never known any kind of organized, secret place where they go and just hold somebody before booking for hours and hours and hours. That scares the hell out of me that that even exists or might exist,” said Trainum, who now studies national policing issues, to include interrogations, for the Innocence Project and the Constitution Project.
Regardless of departmental regulations, police frequently deny or elide access to lawyers even at regular police precincts, said Solowiej of First Defense Legal Aid. But she said the outright denial was exacerbated at Chicago’s secretive interrogation and holding facility: “It’s very, very rare for anyone to experience their constitutional rights in Chicago police custody, and even more so at Homan Square,” Solowiej said.
Church said that one of his more striking memories of Homan Square was the “big, big vehicles” police had inside the complex that “look like very large MRAPs that they use in the Middle East.”
And as if by seamless transition, all of the above ties in to another very critical topic in recent years – the SWATiziation of America’s police forces:
Cook County, home of Chicago, has received some 1,700 pieces of military equipment from a much-criticized Pentagon program transferring military gear to local police. It includes a Humvee, according to a local ABC News report.
Tracy Siska, a criminologist and civil-rights activist with the Chicago Justice Project, said that Homan Square, as well as the unrelated case of ex-Guantánamo interrogator and retired Chicago detective Richard Zuley, showed the lines blurring between domestic law enforcement and overseas military operations.
“The real danger in allowing practices like Guantánamo or Abu Ghraib is the fact that they always creep into other aspects,” Siska said. “They creep into domestic law enforcement, either with weaponry like with the militarization of police, or interrogation practices. That’s how we ended up with a black site in Chicago.”
Too late: they already have. And they are everywhere…
… just waiting for the right moment to spring on the “land of the free” and show everyone just how quickly the myth of freedom can be crushed under the reinforced wheels of 432 (and now many more) Police-controlled MRAPs now spread evenly across the bastion of democracy and human rights and personal liberties.
By John Whitehead
“The Fourth Amendment was designed to stand between us and arbitrary governmental authority. For all practical purposes, that shield has been shattered, leaving our liberty and personal integrity subject to the whim of every cop on the beat, trooper on the highway and jail official. The framers would be appalled.”—Herman Schwartz, The Nation
Our freedoms—especially the Fourth Amendment—are being choked out by a prevailing view among government bureaucrats that they have the right to search, seize, strip, scan, spy on, probe, pat down, taser, and arrest any individual at any time and for the slightest provocation.
Forced cavity searches, forced colonoscopies, forced blood draws, forced breath-alcohol tests, forced DNA extractions, forced eye scans, forced inclusion in biometric databases—these are just a few ways in which Americans are being forced to accept that we have no control over what happens to our bodies during an encounter with government officials.
Worse, on a daily basis, Americans are being made to relinquish the most intimate details of who we are—our biological makeup, our genetic blueprints, and our biometrics (facial characteristics and structure, fingerprints, iris scans, etc.)—in order to clear the nearly insurmountable hurdle that increasingly defines life in the United States: we are all guilty until proven innocent.
Thus far, the courts have done little to preserve our Fourth Amendment rights, let alone what shreds of bodily integrity remain to us.
For example, David Eckert was forced to undergo an anal cavity search, three enemas, and a colonoscopy after allegedly failing to yield to a stop sign at a Wal-Mart parking lot. Cops justified the searches on the grounds that they suspected Eckert was carrying drugs because his “posture [was] erect” and “he kept his legs together.” No drugs were found. During a routine traffic stop, Leila Tarantino was subjected to two roadside strip searches in plain view of passing traffic, during which a female officer “forcibly removed” a tampon from Tarantino. Nothing illegal was found. Nevertheless, such searches have been sanctioned by the courts, especially if accompanied by a search warrant (which is easily procured), as justified in the government’s pursuit of drugs and weapons.
Close to 600 motorists leaving Penn State University one Friday night were stopped by police and, without their knowledge or consent, subjected to a breathalyzer test using flashlights that can detect the presence of alcohol on a person’s breath. These passive alcohol sensors are being hailed as a new weapon in the fight against DUIs. However, because they cannot be used as the basis for arrest, breathalyzer tests are still required. And for those who refuse to submit to a breathalyzer, there are forced blood draws. One such person is Michael Chorosky, who was surrounded by police, strapped to a gurney and then had his blood forcibly drawn after refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test. “What country is this? What country is this?” cried Chorosky during the forced blood draw. Thirty states presently allow police to do forced blood draws on drivers as part of a nationwide “No Refusal” initiative funded by the federal government.
Not even court rulings declaring such practices to be unconstitutional in the absence of a warrant have slowed down the process. Now the police simply keep a magistrate on call to rubber stamp the procedure over the phone. That’s what is called an end-run around the law, and we’re seeing more and more of these take place under the rubric of “safety.”
The National Highway Safety Administration, the same government agency that funds the “No Refusal” DUI checkpoints and forcible blood draws, is also funding nationwide roadblocks aimed at getting drivers to “voluntarily” provide police with DNA derived from saliva and blood samples, reportedly to study inebriation patterns. When faced with a request for a DNA sample by police during a mandatory roadblock, most participants understandably fail to appreciate the “voluntary” nature of such a request. Unfortunately, in at least 28 states, there’s nothing voluntary about having one’s DNA collected by police in instances where you’ve been arrested, whether or not you’re actually convicted of a crime. The remaining states collect DNA on conviction. All of this DNA data is being fed to the federal government. Indeed, the United States has the largest DNA database in the world, CODIS, which is managed by the FBI and is growing at an alarming rate.
Airline passengers, already subjected to virtual strip searches, are now being scrutinized even more closely, with the Customs and Border Protection agency tasking airport officials with monitoring the bowel movements of passengers suspected of ingesting drugs. They even have a special hi-tech toilet designed to filter through a person’s fecal waste.
Iris scans, an essential part of the U.S. military’s boots-on-the-ground approach to keeping track of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, are becoming a de facto method of building the government’s already mammoth biometrics database. Funded by the Dept. of Justice, along with other federal agencies, the iris scan technology is being incorporated into police precincts, jails, immigration checkpoints, airports and even schools. School officials—from elementary to college—have begun using iris scans in place of traditional ID cards. As for parents wanting to pick their kids up from school, they have to first submit to an iris scan.
As for those endless pictures everyone so cheerfully uploads to Facebook (which has the largest facial recognition database in the world) or anywhere else on the internet, they’re all being accessed by the police, filtered with facial recognition software, uploaded into the government’s mammoth biometrics database and cross-checked against its criminal files. With good reason, civil libertarians fear these databases could “someday be used for monitoring political rallies, sporting events or even busy downtown areas.”
As these police practices and data collections become more widespread and routine, there will be no one who is spared from the indignity of DNA sampling, blood draws, and roadside strip and/or rectal or vaginal searches, whether or not they’ve done anything wrong. We’re little more than economic units, branded like cattle, marked for easy identification, and then assured that it’s all for our “benefit,” to weed us out from the “real” criminals, and help the police keep our communities “safe” and secure.
What a bunch of hokum. As I point out in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, these databases, forced extractions and searches are not for our benefit. They will not keep us safe. What they will do is keep us mapped, trapped, targeted and controlled.
Moreover, what if you don’t want to be forced to trust the government with your most intimate information? What if you don’t trust the government to look out for your best interests in the first place? How do you protect yourself against having your blood forcibly drawn, your DNA extracted, your biometrics scanned and the most intimate details of who you are—your biological footprint—uploaded into a government database?
What recourse do you have when that information, taken against your will, is shared, stolen, sold or compromised, as it inevitably will be in this age of hackers? We know that databases can be compromised. We’ve seen it happen to databases kept by health care companies, motor vehicle agencies, financial institutions, retailers and intelligence agencies such as the NSA. In fact, 2014 was dubbed the Year of the Hack in light of the fact that over a billion personal data records were breached, leaving those unlucky enough to have their data stolen vulnerable to identity theft, credit card fraud and all manner of criminal activities carried out in their names.
Banks now offer services —for a fee—to help you in the event that your credit card information is compromised and stolen. You can also pay for services to protect against identity theft in the likely event that your social security information is compromised and misused. But what happens when your DNA profile is compromised? And how do you defend yourself against charges of criminal wrongdoing in the face of erroneous technological evidence—DNA, biometrics, etc., are not infallible—that place you at the scene of a crime you didn’t commit?
“Identity theft could lead to the opening of new fraudulent credit accounts, creating false identities for criminal enterprises, or a host of other serious crimes,” said Jason Hart, vice president of cloud services, identity and data protection at the digital security company Gemalto. “As data breaches become more personal, we’re starting to see that the universe of risk exposure for the average person is expanding.”
It’s not just yourself you have to worry about, either. It’s also anyone related to you—who can be connected by DNA. These genetic fingerprints, as they’re called, do more than just single out a person. They also show who you’re related to and how. As the Associated Press reports, “DNA samples that can help solve robberies and murders could also, in theory, be used to track down our relatives, scan us for susceptibility to disease, or monitor our movements.”
Capitalizing on this, police in California, Colorado, Virginia and Texas use DNA found at crime scenes to identify and target family members for possible clues to a suspect’s whereabouts. Who will protect your family from being singled out for “special treatment” simply because they’re related to you? As biomedical researcher Yaniv Erlich warns, “If it’s not regulated and the police can do whatever they want … they can use your DNA to infer things about your health, your ancestry, whether your kids are your kids.”
These are just a few of the questions we should be asking before these technologies and programs become too entrenched and irreversible.
While the Fourth Amendment was created to prevent government officials from searching an individual’s person or property without a warrant and probable cause—evidence that some kind of criminal activity was afoot—the founders could scarcely have imagined a world in which we needed protection against widespread government breaches of our privacy on a cellular level. Yet that’s exactly what we are lacking.
Once again, technology has outdistanced both our understanding of it and our ability to adequately manage the consequences of unleashing it on an unsuspecting populace. As for all of those databases being sold to you for your safety and benefit, whether or not they’re actually effective in catching criminals, you can be assured that they will definitely be snatching up innocent citizens, as well.
In the end, what all of this amounts to is a carefully crafted campaign designed to give the government access to and control over what it really wants: you.
by PAUL JOSEPH WATSON
Activist Jonathan Corbett has lifted the lid on a chilling and hitherto secret TSA program which mandates that airlines operating outside of the U.S. conduct invasive security interviews of travelers before allowing them to return to America.
Corbett uncovered the program after he was asked a number of personal questions before being allowed to board an American Airlines flight from London Heathrow to New York in December, including why he was traveling and how long he had been away. Corbett initially refused to answer before a second agent made it clear that he would be stranded if he didn’t comply. After Corbett answered the questions, a security sticker was placed on his passport indicating he had completed the interview.
The procedure is very similar to the TSA’s domestic SPOT program, which was slammed as a $900 million dollar waste of money by a Government Accountability Office investigation in 2013 after it failed to identify a single terrorist.
Corbett wrote to American Airlines, who told him that the program was under the control of the DHS/TSA and that details were unavailable due to being under a “Sensitive Security Information” (SSI) designation.
When Corbett asked the TSA what would happen if a traveler declined to take part in the interview, the TSA’s Office of Global Strategies Communications Desk responded, “If a passenger declines the security interview, American Airlines will deny the passenger boarding.”
“The airline and government is admitting here that there is a program to interview travelers as a condition of flying. I had never heard of such a thing before,” writes Corbett, noting that an extensive Google search turns up no public statements from the TSA about the program’s existence.
“U.S. citizens have the right to re-enter their home country. We also have the right to remain silent when interacting with government officials. The TSA has secretly tried to trick us into picking only one of those two rights,” states Corbett, asserting that the program is “an unconstitutional violation of our Fifth Amendment rights.”
Another question to arise is how airport authorities decide who to interview as part of this program. Does every single traveler have to submit to the interrogation or only those deemed a heightened security risk? If so, did Corbett’s prior legal battles with the TSA lead to him being singled out, in the same way that journalists who filed reports that were critical of the agency also faced extra harassment?
Corbett has filed two simultaneous lawsuits to ascertain why the TSA is forcing airlines to hire interrogators to operate outside international gates and is demanding a jury trial, asserting that the program is a violation of 5th amendment rights because it coerces travelers to comply.
NSA Spying Worse than Stasi or Nazi Germany, J. Edgar Hoover … Or Orwell’s 1984
We noted in 2012 that Americans are the most spied upon people in world history.
Spying by the NSA is also worse than in Nazi German:
The tyrants in Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia and Stasi Eastern Europe would have liked to easedrop on every communication and every transaction of every citizen. But in the world before the internet, smart phones, electronic medical records and digital credit card transactions, much of what happened behind closed doors remained private.
Indeed, a former lieutenant colonel for the East German Stasi said the NSA’s spy capabilities would have been “a dream come true” for the Stasi.
NSA contractor Edward Snowden said in 2013 that NSA spying was worse than in Orwell’s book 1984. (See update below).
We noted at the time that the NSA is spying on us through our computers, phones, cars, buses, streetlights, at airports and on the street, via mobile scanners and drones, through our smart meters, and in many other ways.
A security expert said the same year:
We have to assume that the NSA has EVERYONE who uses electronic communications under CONSTANT surveillance.
Update: Bill Binney is the high-level NSA executive who created the agency’s mass surveillance program for digital information. A 32-year NSA veteran widely regarded as a “legend” within the agency, Binney was the senior technical director within the agency and managed thousands of NSA employees.
Binney tells Washington’s Blog:
While the spying programs that we have heard about so far deal with the “who and what” and on occasion the “why” of what people on the planet are doing, Treasuremap is the NSA/GCHQ/etc. program to acquire and follow the movements of people (objective is to follow 4 billion folks) simultaneously in near real time. So, Treasuremap gives them the “when and where” aspects of individual lives.
All in all, this gives the participating governments (primarily the Five Eyes countries) unrestricted knowledge of individual lives.
Current surveillance is far beyond an Orwellian state.
Although on a much smaller scale, we need to remember that these type of activities were some of the primary “articles of impeachment” of president Nixon.
By John Whitehead, constitutional and human rights attorney, and founder of the Rutherford Institute.
“You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”—George Orwell, 1984
None of us are perfect. All of us bend the rules occasionally. Even before the age of overcriminalization, when the most upstanding citizen could be counted on to break at least three laws a day without knowing it, most of us have knowingly flouted the law from time to time.
Indeed, there was a time when most Americans thought nothing of driving a few miles over the speed limit, pausing (rather than coming to a full stop) at a red light when making a right-hand turn if no one was around, jaywalking across the street, and letting their kid play hookie from school once in a while. Of course, that was before the era of speed cameras that ticket you for going even a mile over the posted limit, red light cameras that fine you for making safe “rolling stop” right-hand turns on red, surveillance cameras equipped with facial recognition software mounted on street corners, and school truancy laws that fine parents for “unexcused” absences.
My, how times have changed.
Today, there’s little room for indiscretions, imperfections, or acts of independence—especially not when the government can listen in on your phone calls, monitor your driving habits, track your movements, scrutinize your purchases and peer through the walls of your home. That’s because technology—specifically the technology employed by the government against the American citizenry—has upped the stakes dramatically so that there’s little we do that is not known by the government.
In such an environment, you’re either a paragon of virtue, or you’re a criminal.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, we’re all criminals. This is the creepy, calculating yet diabolical genius of the American police state: the very technology we hailed as revolutionary and liberating has become our prison, jailer, probation officer, Big Brother and Father Knows Best all rolled into one.
Consider that on any given day, the average American going about his daily business will be monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways, by both government and corporate eyes and ears. A byproduct of this new age in which we live, whether you’re walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency, whether the NSA or some other entity, is listening in and tracking your behavior. As I point out in my book, A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, this doesn’t even begin to touch on the corporate trackers that monitor your purchases, web browsing, Facebook posts and other activities taking place in the cyber sphere.
For example, police have been using Stingray devices mounted on their cruisers to intercept cell phone calls and text messages without court-issued search warrants. Thwarting efforts to learn how and when these devices are being used against an unsuspecting populace, the FBI is insisting that any inquiries about the use of the technology be routed to the agency “in order to allow sufficient time for the FBI to intervene to protect the equipment/technology and information from disclosure and potential compromise.”
Doppler radar devices, which can detect human breathing and movement within in a home, are already being employed by the police to deliver arrest warrants and are being challenged in court. One case in particular, United States v Denson, examines how the Fourth Amendment interacts with the government’s use of radar technology to peer inside a suspect’s home. As Judge Neil Gorsuch recognizes in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeal’s ruling in the case, “New technologies bring with them not only new opportunities for law enforcement to catch criminals but also new risks for abuse and new ways to invade constitutional rights.”
License plate readers, yet another law enforcement spying device made possible through funding by the Department of Homeland Security, can record up to 1800 license plates per minute. However, it seems these surveillance cameras can also photograph those inside a moving car. Recent reports indicate that the Drug Enforcement Administration has been using the cameras in conjunction with facial recognition software to build a “vehicle surveillance database” of the nation’s cars, drivers and passengers.
Sidewalk and “public space” cameras, sold to gullible communities as a sure-fire means of fighting crime, is yet another DHS program that is blanketing small and large towns alike with government-funded and monitored surveillance cameras. It’s all part of a public-private partnership that gives government officials access to all manner of surveillance cameras, on sidewalks, on buildings, on buses, even those installed on private property.
Couple these surveillance cameras with facial recognition and behavior-sensing technology and you have the makings of “pre-crime” cameras, which scan your mannerisms, compare you to pre-set parameters for “normal” behavior, and alert the police if you trigger any computerized alarms as being “suspicious.”
Capitalizing on a series of notorious abductions of college-aged students, several states are pushing to expand their biometric and DNA databases by requiring that anyone accused of a misdemeanor have their DNA collected and catalogued. However, technology is already available that allows the government to collect biometrics such as fingerprints from a distance, without a person’s cooperation or knowledge. One system can actually scan and identify a fingerprint from nearly 20 feet away.
Radar guns have long been the speed cop’s best friend, allowing him to hide out by the side of the road, identify speeding cars, and then radio ahead to a police car, which does the dirty work of pulling the driver over and issuing a ticket. Never mind that what this cop is really doing is using an electronic device to search your car without a search warrant, violating the Fourth Amendment and probable cause. Yet because it’s a cash cow for police and the governments they report to, it’s a practice that is not only allowed but encouraged. Indeed, developers are hard at work on a radar gun that can actually show if you or someone in your car is texting. No word yet on whether the technology will also be able to detect the contents of that text message.
It’s a sure bet that anything the government welcomes (and funds) too enthusiastically is bound to be a Trojan horse full of nasty surprises. Case in point: police body cameras. Hailed as the easy fix solution to police abuses, these body cameras—made possible by funding from the Department of Justice—will turn police officers into roving surveillance cameras. Of course, if you try to request access to that footage, you’ll find yourself being led a merry and costly chase through miles of red tape, bureaucratic footmen and unhelpful courts.
The “internet of things” refers to the growing number of “smart” appliances and electronic devices now connected to the internet and capable of interacting with each other and being controlled remotely. These range from thermostats and coffee makers to cars and TVs. Of course, there’s a price to pay for such easy control and access. That price amounts to relinquishing ultimate control of and access to your home to the government and its corporate partners. For example, while Samsung’s Smart TVs are capable of “listening” to what you say, thereby allow users to control the TV using voice commands, it also records everything you say and relays it to a third party.
Then again, the government doesn’t really need to spy on you using your smart TV when the FBI can remotely activate the microphone on your cellphone and record your conversations. The FBI can also do the same thing to laptop computers without the owner knowing any better.
Government surveillance of social media such as Twitter and Facebook is on the rise. Americans have become so accustomed to the government overstepping its limits that most don’t even seem all that bothered anymore about the fact that the government is spying on our emails and listening in on our phone calls.
Drones, which will begin to take to the skies en masse this year, will be the converging point for all of the weapons and technology already available to law enforcement agencies. This means drones that can listen in on your phone calls, see through the walls of your home, scan your biometrics, photograph you and track your movements, and even corral you with sophisticated weaponry.
And then there’s the Internet and cell phone kill switch, which enables the government to shut down Internet and cell phone communications without Americans being given any warning. It’s a practice that has been used before in the U.S., albeit in a limited fashion. In 2005, cell service was disabled in four major New York tunnels (reportedly to avert potential bomb detonations via cell phone). In 2009, those attending President Obama’s inauguration had their cell signals blocked (again, same rationale). And in 2011, San Francisco commuters had their cell phone signals shut down (this time, to thwart any possible protests over a police shooting of a homeless man).
It’s a given that the government’s tactics are always more advanced than we know, so there’s no knowing what new technologies are already being deployed against without our knowledge. Certainly, by the time we learn about a particular method of surveillance or new technological gadget, it’s a sure bet that the government has been using it covertly for years already. And if other governments are using a particular technology, you can bet that our government used it first. For instance, back in 2011, it was reported that the government of Tunisia was not only monitoring the emails of its citizens but was actually altering the contents of those emails in order to thwart dissidents. How much do you want to bet that government agents have already employed such tactics in the U.S.?
Apart from the obvious dangers posed by a government that feels justified and empowered to spy on its people and use its ever-expanding arsenal of weapons and technology to monitor and control them, we’re approaching a time in which we will be forced to choose between obeying the dictates of the government—i.e., the law, or whatever a government officials deems the law to be—and maintaining our individuality, integrity and independence.
When people talk about privacy, they mistakenly assume it protects only that which is hidden behind a wall or under one’s clothing. The courts have fostered this misunderstanding with their constantly shifting delineation of what constitutes an “expectation of privacy.” And technology has furthered muddied the waters.
However, privacy is so much more than what you do or say behind locked doors. It is a way of living one’s life firm in the belief that you are the master of your life, and barring any immediate danger to another person (which is far different from the carefully crafted threats to national security the government uses to justify its actions), it’s no one’s business what you read, what you say, where you go, whom you spend your time with, and how you spend your money.
Unfortunately, privacy as we once knew it is dead.
We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed and controlled by our technology, which answers not to us but to our government and corporate rulers. This is the fact-is-stranger-than-fiction lesson that is being pounded into us on a daily basis.
Thus, to be an individual today, to not conform, to have even a shred of privacy, and to live beyond the reach of the government’s roaming eyes and technological spies, one must not only be a rebel but rebel.
Even when you rebel and take your stand, there is rarely a happy ending awaiting you. You are rendered an outlaw. This is the message in almost every dystopian work of fiction, from classic writers such as George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Philip K. Dick and Ray Bradbury to more contemporary voices such as Margaret Atwood, Lois Lowry and Suzanne Collins.
How do you survive in the American police state?
We’re running out of options. As Philip K. Dick, the visionary who gave us Minority Report and Blade Runner, advised:
“If, as it seems, we are in the process of becoming a totalitarian society in which the state apparatus is all-powerful, the ethics most important for the survival of the true, free, human individual would be: cheat, lie, evade, fake it, be elsewhere, forge documents, build improved electronic gadgets in your garage that’ll outwit the gadgets used by the authorities.”