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Turning America Into a War Zone, Where 'We the People' Are the Enemy

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From Peace Officers/ militarized police
Peace Officers/ militarized police
(image by DonkeyHotey)

"If you don't want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you."--Sunil Dutta, an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department for 17 years

Life in the American police state is an endless series of don'ts delivered at the end of a loaded gun: don't talk back to police officers, don't even think about defending yourself against a SWAT team raid (of which there are 80,000 every year), don't run when a cop is nearby lest you be mistaken for a fleeing criminal, don't carry a cane lest it be mistaken for a gun, don't expect privacy in public, don't let your kids walk to the playground alone, don't engage in nonviolent protest near where a government official might pass, don't try to grow vegetables in your front yard, don't play music for tips in a metro station, don't feed whales, and on and on.

For those who resist, who dare to act independently, think for themselves, march to the beat of a different drummer, the consequences are invariably a one-way trip to the local jail or death.

What Americans must understand, what we have chosen to ignore, what we have fearfully turned a blind eye to lest the reality prove too jarring is the fact that we no longer live in the "city on the hill," a beacon of freedom for all the world.

Far from being a shining example of democracy at work, we have become a lesson for the world in how quickly freedom turns to tyranny, how slippery the slope by which a once-freedom-loving people can be branded, shackled and fooled into believing that their prisons walls are, in fact, for their own protection.

Having spent more than half a century exporting war to foreign lands, profiting from war, and creating a national economy seemingly dependent on the spoils of war, we failed to protest when the war hawks turned their profit-driven appetites on us, bringing home the spoils of war--the military tanks, grenade launchers, Kevlar helmets, assault rifles, gas masks, ammunition, battering rams, night vision binoculars, etc.--to be distributed for free to local police agencies and used to secure the homeland against "we the people."

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Is it any wonder that we now find ourselves in the midst of a war zone?

We live in a state of undeclared martial law. We have become the enemy.

In a war zone, there are no police--only soldiers. Thus, there is no more Posse Comitatus prohibiting the government from using the military in a law enforcement capacity. Not when the local police have, for all intents and purposes, already become the military.

In a war zone, the soldiers shoot to kill, as American police have now been trained to do. Whether the perceived "threat" is armed or unarmed no longer matters when police are authorized to shoot first and ask questions later.

In a war zone, even the youngest members of the community learn at an early age to accept and fear the soldier in their midst. Thanks to funding from the Obama administration, more schools are hiring armed police officers--some equipped with semi-automatic AR-15 rifles--to "secure" their campuses.

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In a war zone, you have no rights. When you are staring down the end of a police rifle, there can be no free speech. When you're being held at bay by a militarized, weaponized mine-resistant tank, there can be no freedom of assembly. When you're being surveilled with thermal imaging devices, facial recognition software and full-body scanners and the like, there can be no privacy. When you're charged with disorderly conduct simply for daring to question or photograph or document the injustices you see, with the blessing of the courts no less, there can be no freedom to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

And when you're a prisoner in your own town, unable to move freely, kept off the streets, issued a curfew at night, there can be no mistaking the prison walls closing in.

This is not just happening in Ferguson, Missouri. As I show in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, it's happening and will happen anywhere and everywhere else in this country where law enforcement officials are given carte blanche to do what they like, when they like, how they like, with immunity from their superiors, the legislatures, and the courts.

You see, what Americans have failed to comprehend, living as they do in a TV-induced, drug-like haze of fabricated realities, narcissistic denial, and partisan politics, is that we've not only brought the military equipment used in Iraq and Afghanistan home to be used against the American people. We've also brought the very spirit of the war home.

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John W. Whitehead is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. Whitehead's aggressive, pioneering approach to civil liberties has earned him numerous accolades and (more...)

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While I don't disagree with anything you have said... by June Genis on Thursday, Aug 21, 2014 at 12:39:05 PM
June, we can all add to the list..... it is endles... by Pal Palsimon on Friday, Aug 22, 2014 at 2:24:48 AM
John, can you agree that Liberals and Conservative... by Lee Beacham on Thursday, Aug 21, 2014 at 1:12:12 PM
Yes, I believe that liberals and conservatives can... by Ceric on Thursday, Aug 21, 2014 at 6:50:42 PM
In the span of 30+ years we have had a war again... by Dennis Kaiser on Thursday, Aug 21, 2014 at 2:14:19 PM
I remember cartoons when I was a girl of UK police... by Pal Palsimon on Friday, Aug 22, 2014 at 2:32:15 AM
The Police State is here. I've been living in Anw... by Michael Dewey on Thursday, Aug 21, 2014 at 2:57:29 PM
I may be a privileged white male living in exclusi... by BFalcon on Thursday, Aug 21, 2014 at 3:22:52 PM
While Americans slowly realize the nascent police ... by Julian Lobato on Thursday, Aug 21, 2014 at 3:24:31 PM
Having spent more than half a century exporting wa... by Charles Roll on Thursday, Aug 21, 2014 at 3:34:49 PM
People talk about this being a 'new' development i... by Carol R Campbell on Thursday, Aug 21, 2014 at 7:43:14 PM
Wish you could have been an adviser to Michael Bro... by Pal Palsimon on Friday, Aug 22, 2014 at 2:38:01 AM
The article makes good points, but is needlessly a... by Daniel Noel on Thursday, Aug 21, 2014 at 11:59:10 PM
And the police state is going from global to local... by Pal Palsimon on Friday, Aug 22, 2014 at 2:41:55 AM
Without excusing the excesses of the police AT ALL... by Scott Baker on Friday, Aug 22, 2014 at 2:42:09 AM
being a 73 year old ,UK retired WASP I just watche... by howlong on Sunday, Aug 24, 2014 at 11:48:46 PM