The latest news on the burgeoning police state in the US -- a page-one investigative report in the New York Times disclosing that at least 40 agencies of the US government from the Department of Health and Human Services to the Supreme Court (!) are using undercover agents to spy on and even to entrap law-abiding American citizens -- suggests that we have passed the tipping point.
One can no longer speak in terms of the US as a country that is moving towards becoming a police state. We are living in a police state.
The Times reports that IRS personnel have been going undercover posing as accountants and even as physicians to root out tax fraud, that the Supreme Court has been dispatching some of its guards (all of whom have been trained in undercover work) "dressed down" in civilian clothes to mingle with protesters (notably abortion-rights activists) to spy on the activists exercising their First Amendment rights outside the court building, that the USDA sends out agents posing as Food Stamp recipients to try and entrap shop-owners to commit Food Stamp fraud, and that even NASA and the Smithsonian Institution have undercover operatives. Undercover cops and agents are assuming the identities of teachers, doctors, journalists and even priests.
This information has to be put together with the rampant militarization of local police forces, who have become an occupying army, and with the proliferation of spying activities by state and local police agencies, encouraged by the establishment by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security of myriad "Joint Anti-Terrorism Strike Forces, and of 76 so-called Fusion Centers. These latter are totally unregulated operations that meld the spying activities of state and local cops and the myriad three-lettered intelligence units of the federal government, as well as private corporate security units, with no specific agency assuming oversight responsibility.
I used to scoff at the wild-eyed claims made by people on the right and left who said that we were living in a police state. Having lived for a year and a half in China, where a police state has been operating now for 65 years, and having visited police states in Eastern Europe during the days of the Soviet Union, I have seen and experienced what life is like when the police, secret and overt, run rampant, and I knew the US was not like those places.
I've changed my mind, though. The only difference I see now, knowing what we know about the breadth and depth of police activity in the US, between what's happening here and what happens in places where police states have long existed, is that in long-standing police states, everyone knows they are being watched and are subject to arbitrary arrest. while here in the US, many Americans remain blissfully ignorant of what has happened to their vaunted freedoms.
You don't know you are in a newly established police state until you deliberately or inadvertently cross a line. That's why we still have people in this country thanking people in uniform for "defending our freedom," when we've actually already lost them (in no small part thanks to the state of perpetual war our politicians have been orchestrating).