The Advent of the American Police State

If you’re still relying on the guarantees of the U.S. Constitution as your last-ditch protection   against tyranny and domination, you’re in for a rude awakening…perhaps like those encountered by some other unsuspecting Americans as of late:

  • A Denver woman on her way to work was pulled off a public bus, handcuffed, and arrested for the simple act of refusing to show identification to local police officers.
  • Two Pennsylvania grandmothers were arrested under recent “hate-crimes” legislation for sharing their faith on a public sidewalk.
  • In Michigan, search warrants are now secret and no longer pubic information. Under new state laws, police can search your home without notice, and without telling you why. Furthermore, an  officer executing such a search is not required to give a copy of the affidavit to the person being searched, nor leave a copy at the place where items may have been taken.
  • In Illinois, state police have been issued a list of twenty-plus bumper stickers that should alert officers to suspicious persons riding in that vehicle.
  • Amtrak is now offering passengers “Bucks-for-Information” – a reward program for passengers who report suspicious persons or activities.
  • The Miami Chief of Police announced that planned strategies for eliminating terrorism included the possibility of surrounding banks or other public buildings, “IDing” citizens entering and leaving the building, and then passing out anti-terrorism pamphlets to the detained to help educate the public.
  • Under a new Federal “Neighborhood Watch” program, commercials aimed at youth will encourage them to join anti-terrorism groups and report suspicious persons or activities within their neighborhood to federal officials.

This isn’t happening in China, Islamabad, or Tehran, but right here on our American streets. And in our post 9/11 society, each day brings new encroachments against our rights and freedoms as American citizens. And it’s only going to get worse…

AMERICA: LAND OF THE UN-FREE

Ask the majority of Americans if they feel they live in a police state, and after a few incredulous looks, you’ll hear a resounding chorus of “that’s ridiculous.”

But is it? Consider our “free” society: You must obtain government sanction for virtually every movement, transaction, and mutual agreement you seek to make. You need a license, permit, certificate, or authorization for all transactions involving guns, medicine, food service, serving alcohol, hiring, firing, making speeches, land use, home construction, real estate purchases, business transactions, selling stocks and bonds, initiating a parade, conducting a meeting in a pubic place, farming, marriage, hunting, fishing – even something as inane as building a fence on your property. Uncle Sam must give you his permission – or else.

In fact, as Americans, we’ve become so used to the idea of the government controlling every move we make, that we hardly notice anymore when new regulations and laws are levied that tighten the noose around our neck. And in the meantime…our rights and freedoms are being crushed without us even noticing or paying attention.

And are Americans alarmed at this encroaching loss of freedom? Not a chance. In fact, right now Americans seem more eager than ever to hand over their rights and freedoms. Why? Because they’re cashing them in – for more freebies from the government: cheap health care, more government services, a politically correct culture, and an increased perception of security.

In fact, our freedom – bought at such a high price – is now for sale to anyone offering flimsy promises of safety, convenience and comfort. “Free enterprise” is a quaint concept, but has also gone the way of all the rest of our ideals. The government keeps business on a tight leash as well, and under constant strict scrutiny. Ask any business owner and he’ll tell you about the relentless red tape and bureaucratic tightrope that he must walk on a daily basis. Rules, policies, and regulations instituted by a myriad of government agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, and most notably, OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) are momentous in their scope and volume. In fact, many businesses now find it necessary to hire independent consultants just to monitor and advise them on the overwhelming amount of rules and regulations governing their industry. In many businesses – especially small ones that cannot afford expensive consultants and extraordinary compliance demands – the scariest day of the year is when the OSHA inspector comes around. Even after due diligence, there are almost certainly infractions and hefty fines to contend with. Uncle Sam must be obeyed – or else.

And the situation is only escalating. But the vast majority of Americans aren’t worried –they’re too busy keeping up with who got booted off of “Dancing  With the Stars” last night, who fathered Anna Nicole’s baby, or what is happening today with Paris Hilton. Yet while Americans numb their minds, and ignore the realities of the encroaching police state, the foundations of our freedoms are irreversibly deteriorating.

Whether it’s Mussolini’s Italy, Hitler’s Germany, or the Soviet Union, history teaches us that there are unmistakable earmarks of a Police State. Is  America on its way to becoming a Police State? You be the judge:

Amerika: Signs You’re Living in a Police State

1. The Suspension of our Constitutional Rights: Americans live under the illusion that the American Constitution is unyielding, and protects their rights without threat of infringement. Like a Holy Grail, they believe that their Constitutional Rights are protected with such an iron-clad guarantee; it can withstand threats from any source. The only problem with that faith, is that it is hollow.

The founding fathers knew all too well that the greatest threat to a free people’s fundamental rights and freedoms is not foreign enemies, but rather their own government. They had learned their lesson well after centuries of living under the threat from royal tyranny, and had come to the conclusion that the right ofHabeas Corpus was foundational to their freedom. Thus, this foundational right was expressly mentioned in the First Amendment as necessary to our fundamental freedoms.

Habeas Corpus is the guarantee that no government official can detain a citizen without just cause, as determined by an independent judge. As a separate branch of the government, the judge is theoretically free from any political pressure that a governmental authority might try to initiate. Without habeas corpus, a detainee might languish in prison indefinitely under trumped up charges, real or imagined. Government authorities could use their powers to imprison their political enemies, and eliminate dissension with their policies. Take away this great writ and all of our other rights — freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom to bear arms, trial by jury, and protection from unreasonable searches and seizures — become meaningless.

Never in America…right? You would be wrong. Congress has already granted the government the right to hold foreign citizens without due process – a step deemed necessary in light of threats of terrorism. Now, amazingly without precedent, that same justification has been used to hold an American citizen – Jose Padillo – without due process, due to his suspected links to terrorist  organizations. Padilla, an American citizen arrested on American soil, was held in a military brig, without charges, for three and a half years. For the first two years he did not have access to a lawyer.

Ordinarily, U.S. citizens cannot be detained without charges filed against them. But the Bush administration has avoided that technicality by labeling Padilla as an “enemy combatant,” then proclaiming that the court may not second-guess this designation.

But what happens when newspaper editors begin to get arrested for printing dissenting opinions against the current administration? What about political protestors whose grievances are viewed as “anti-American”? Where do we draw the line? The Founding Fathers defined the line for us, but our government today is moving it to support their political agenda and keep citizens in line. Essentially, on orders of the executive branch, anyone could wind up imprisoned by the military with no way to assert his innocence. Worried about terrorism, most Americans hold their nose, and look the other way.

2. Control of the Media: Freedom of the Press can be considered the backbone of a free society,  and many Americans rely on this freedom as our last ditch guard against government corruption and control. But scratch below the surface, and you’ll find that a “free press” is increasingly becoming yet another illusion in the United States today.

While the government has long monitored foreign newspapers and publications for evidence of anti- American sentiment and activity, our government is now turning the magnifying glass on us – what newspapers and magazines we read, what internet sites we visit, and what political opinions we subscribe to.

As reported in these pages before, the Department of Homeland Security, in affiliation with the CIA and a consortium of major universities, has developed sophisticated software that would allow the government to monitor negative articles and opinions of the United States or the  administration in newspapers, publications, and other media. There is a $2.4 million grant to finance the project over three years.

Labeled “sentiment analysis,” the software has the ability to scan thousands of newspapers and published articles in this country and around the world every day for language detected to be critical of the current administration or this country’s policies.

And don’t think they’re going to waste their time simply scanning The New York Times or the Los Angeles Times. This new technology will enable government analysts to include review of thousands of political publications, newsletters, and periodicals. No doubt publications like this one will be included. As noted, the program is so shocking, Andrei Sitov, Washington bureau chief of the Russian Itar-Tass news group was quoted as saying that he hoped that the objective did not go beyond simply identifying threats to efforts to stifle criticism about an American president or administration. “This is what makes your country great, the open society where people can criticize their own government,” Mr. Sitov said. And he should know.

3. Governmental Spying and Monitoring of its Citizens: Government surveillance of American citizens has reached endemic levels that should shock and offend a free people – but unsurprisingly, Americans seem increasingly willing to not only tolerate, but expect, government monitoring of even their most mundane activities.

Drive through any major intersection in any large American city, and a steady camera eye watches from high above to record your every move. Log on to your personal laptop to peruse the day’s news, and the websites you visit can be duly recorded by your Internet Service Provider, and made available to government snoops. All the while, your cell phone makes your exact location known to your cell phone company at all times, as well as police agencies who may be interested in your whereabouts.

Thanks to technology and our increasingly government-monitored society, there is no such thing as a “private” citizen in this country. Americans seem to ever-willingly surrender their rights to privacy and confidentiality in their pursuit of high-tech access and convenience. In the meantime, government officials and their agencies – police, security, etc. – are all too eager to use our acquiescence to monitor and levy control over the citizenry.

4. Police Exist to Serve the Government Instead of the People: While many policemen and women are honest, hard-working professionals, it is becoming increasingly evident that somewhere along the way, we’ve lost the foundational principle that the police exist to serve the citizens and the community, not the government. They ultimately report to the people they serve – not the elected officials who hold sway over them. The difference is profound – and a tool for government control and intimidation of its people.

Just how far police are willing to go to enforce their control over ordinary citizens became abundantly clear to Gail Atwater in Lago Vista, Texas. Pulled over for failing to wear a seat belt as required by Texas law, Atwater was also unable to present her driver’s license or insurance card because, as she explained to the officer, her purse had been stolen the day before.

What did the officer choose to do in this situation? Deciding to arrest Atwater, the officer handcuffed the woman in front of her 5 and 3 year old children, and promptly hauled her off to jail. A neighbor was hurriedly called to stay with the children while their mother was processed and posted bail. Later, after pleading no contest to her “heinous” crime, the woman paid a $50 fine for the misdemeanor of failing to wear a seatbelt.

Situations like this are becoming commonplace. The “War on Terrorism” has given many police a carte blanch attitude that they have a privileged position and special permission to watch, investigate, and intimidate the citizenry at will. Police intimidation is often one of the most effective tools of the trade for rank and file policemen. And it works: When you pass a policeman on the street, do you smile and know that your safety is secure, as one would expect for a law-abiding citizen? Or do you get a little nervous, convinced that you’re probably doing something wrong, and could be pulled over and questioned for virtually any reason? Are you living in a police state?…your gut tells you the answer.

5. The Government Attempts to Control Thought and Limit Free Speech: As I write this, it is being reported in the papers that the government is removing access to popular internet web sites including MySpace.com and YouTube.com for military personnel. Security concerns and overloading of the military internet service provider are the reasons offered.

If those are the best reasons they can come up with, then they need someone else handling their public relations.

Let me get this straight: The U.S. Military – the most powerful military in the entire world – can’t offer an internet provider that can handle the normal internet traffic for a few hundred thousand military personnel? And security – are they worried that a few enlisted men will post top secret military strategy on YouTube, and no one will notice?

Of course these regulations have nothing to do with the fact that they provide our fighting men and women unfettered communication with the thoughts and opinions of the growing sentiment against the Iraqi War. And here at home, Free Speech has never before in our history been under such threat. In unprecedented legislation, “Anti-Hate” legislation now threatens to block language from editors, pastors, writers, politicians – anyone with a platform – that is deemed hostile to  anyone else based on their gender, race, nationality, or, as now included, sexual orientation.

In fact, many ministers across the country have begun seeking insurance against such possible lawsuits, fearful that their Biblically-based teaching against homosexuality will make them an easy target for lawsuits. The witch hunt is reaching epidemic levels – just ask Don Imus. As “Imus in the Morning” found out, even politically incorrect off-color jokes have now become ample justification for high profile firings, demotions – even career destruction.

Boosted by their recent successes, the thought-police are now trolling the print media and airwaves, looking for those who step outside their politically-correct bounds. And their boundaries are solely defined by them. It’s not only what you say, but who you are when you say it. If your skin is one color, then certain words are “cultural” and approved. If your skin is another color – be careful – that same word can cost you your job – or even your entire career.

The entire concept of “Hate” legislation is a dangerous notion. When we begin categorizing crimes based on the category of the victim, as opposed to the nature of the crime, we make criminal activity relative, and not absolute. Justice is supposed to be blind: color-blind,  genderblind, and certainly blind to the lifestyle habits of the perpetrator and the victim. To say otherwise is to forever warp the meaning of justice, and sets a dangerous precedent that is anathema to the rule of law.

6. The Promotion of A Unifying Threat from An External Enemy: Certainly no one can deny the reality of the threat against our country from Islamic Extremists. To deny it is folly and our country should take the threat seriously and prepare accordingly.

But our government has used our common threat as a blank check to enact their entire agenda: a myriad of legislation, policies, activities – in fact, an entire war. Anyone who ventures to question these activities is at best scolded, and at worst, looked at with suspicion.

The government has used the threat of impending terrorism to enact the largest swath of Draconian legislation on a free people in modern history. Anti-terror concerns are used by the government and the police to do everything from searching your internet activities without warrant, to searching your face for incriminating clues with state-of-the-art facial-recognition software.

And it’s not going to stop. “The War on Terror” – even by Bush’s own admission – will be virtually unending. Certainly, leaders in history have used a common enemy as motivation to launch serious national campaigns to win major military campaigns in the past. Franklin Roosevelt had Japan and Germany, and Reagan had the Soviet Union. But those “wars” were defined and limited in scope. The enemy was tangible, and the war was winnable.

Neither is true of this war. While we must certainly protect ourselves and our country at all costs, we cannot continue to sacrifice our rights and allow our freedom to be destroyed in a war that has no foreseeable end. As freedom-loving Americans we must, like the Founding Fathers, protect our rights while fighting off our common enemy. If we give up our rights, then the enemy has already won.

7. Gun Control: And of course, there’s gun control. No discussion of the deterioration of our American rights would be complete without it. For a society built on the Freedom to Bear Arms, and a people who desire to protect themselves, I have bad news: the ultimate desire of the left-leaning mainstream is not to limit your access to guns, they want to eliminate your access to guns – completely.

After the tragedy at Virginia Tech, it took less than two hours for the gun-control police to be out in full force. They will use every mentally-deranged madman as an excuse to take away your rights, and they won’t waste any opportunity given them. Virginia Tech was just the latest convenient tool. Their momentum is building, and their power is growing. They’ll stop at nothing until they confiscate every gun and self-defense weapon from every law-abiding citizen in this country. And then the government and criminals will take full control – hide and watch.

WHERE IS ALL OF THIS LEADING US?

As we hand over our lives and our freedoms to the encroaching Police State, one must ask,

“Where is all of this leading us?” Are we safer and more secure now than we were ten years ago? Five years ago? This editor thinks not.

Have all of the rights we’ve given over and watched eliminated made us even one step more secure? Is your family more secure? What about your country? Do you even feel more secure? We have gained nothing – but given up everything. Surrendering our freedom to an ominous Police State does not offer security – it robs us of it. Until our people seek to re-claim their rights to privacy, security, autonomy, and independence, we cannot hope to guarantee the rights inferred on us by the Founding Fathers to future generations. Our children and grandchildren will not know a free society – but perhaps be all too familiar with the black boots and tyranny of an American Police State

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