Police State America

Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

Hill_Street_Blues_CastI have written some guest blogs in the past dealing with aspects of the issue of America becoming a Police State and will link to them at the end of this piece. There are so many issues that call for our concern and attention in this country today, that dealing with the entire dysfunctional state of our country becomes daunting due to the wealth of material. Finally, the stories on a given issue multiply in such a way that their effect is a realization across all political lines that enough is enough. The issue of our country’s continuing descent into a”Police State” equaling all we know of the vile systems in the USSR and the former East Germany is an issue that concerns me.. The situation is  dire and the consequences have produced not only horrible injustices, but also the many unneeded maiming and deaths of innocent individuals. Our country imprisons more people per capita than any other country in the world by far. Part of the reason for that is the “War on Drugs” an abject failure that falls most heavily upon people with low incomes and people of color. One such incident caused Professor Turley to pen two blogs this week. They were about a man falsely suspected of drug possession who had all his bodily orifices and cavities checked in the local Arizona police’s vain attempt to find evidence of guilt. None was found and the procedures were not only traumatic, but invasive. Thus the “War on Drugs” is one major contributing force to turning our country into a Police State.

Another contributing Police State factor has been the Federal Government militarizing our local police forces. I’ve written about this as well and will link at those blogs at the end as well. Somewhere along the line, certainly hastened by 9/11 it appeared a necessity to some that are police should be turned from officers of the law into a paramilitary occupying army. There is a great distinction between an officer of the law and a paramilitary trooper. An officer of the law the way I see it, is empowered to enforce the criminal law in ways of lawful conduct that are deemed permissible via our Constitution and Statutes.  Thus an officer of the law should be a citizen like the rest of us and in the performance of their jobs should respect the rights of the citizenry. A paramilitary trooper by definition perceives themselves operating in a hostile environment and so everyone in that environment that is not of their army is a potential “hostile”. This unerringly begets a certain level of brutality when dealing with the populace, because from a paramilitary perspective people are presumed guilty, until they are proven innocent. We have seen and I have documented in guest blogs that vast sums of money have come in from the Federal Government to help create paramilitary SWAT teams. Once created, the uses for these teams multiply far beyond their original purpose, because having a tool inevitably causes its usage. After the split I will discuss yet a third factor that adds to this police state mentality, but first I’d like to express the following. The issue of our country becoming a Police State should not be and is not a partisan issue. Just from the opinions of people who follow this blog and comment, we see general agreement that these police tactics violate our Constitution and our innate sense of propriety. We may not all agree on most aspects of government policy, but I would hope we can agree on the proper manner in which our law officers should enforce the peace.I begin with a quote from that great journalist Hunter S. Thompson:  “There are always risks in challenging excessive police power, but the risks of not challenging it are more dangerous, even fatal.”–Hunter S. Thompson, Kingdom of Fear: Loathsome Secrets of a Star-Crossed Child in the Final Days of the American Century”

This quote opened an article I read this week from OpEdNews http://www.opednews.com  The title of the article is “Welcome to the United Police States of America, Where Police Shoot First & Ask Questions Later”. The author John Whitehead’s premise is that this uptick in police violently attacking suspected criminals is rooted in fear and that fear causes them to shoot first and ask questions later. I must admit that when I read it the idea had resonance with me because it related to much of my own thoughts on this subject. Since the advent of Television as our country’s dominant medium there have been two ongoing staples in the theme of TV drama. One that has dissipated through the years was the Western and indeed that was the dominant TV Drama in the 50’s along with innumerable “Private Detective” Shows such as “77 Sunset Strip”, “Hawaiian Eye”, “Surfside Six”, “Peter Gunn”, etc. One crime show rose above all though and that was Jack Webb’s “Dragnet” which was on top for many years. What was so interesting about “Dragnet” as opposed to today’s police procedural was that while it could at times go over the top, the sanctimonious marijuana episode for instance, it portrayed police detectives who were in control of their world and rarely had to use more than minimal force. Then too, the Detectives on the show followed criminal procedure and never cut corners in dealing with potential perpetrators. There was even a show or two where a disgusted Sgt. Friday busted a “dirty cop”.  As the 60’s waned so did the TV western drama and the private eye shows to be replaced with shows like CHIPs which were standard police procedural.

The tumult of the 60’s though left its legacy and in the 70’s shows like “The Streets of San Francisco” began to dominate the TV drama scene. These shows were somewhat more edgy and their police detective heroes were at time less in control of their environment and often faced tremendous dangers. Then too at times, they “stretched” the law in ways that were constructed to garner audience approval of their actions. After all the police were presented as noble men who were working in a very dangerous world and so needed to at times go beyond the law to enforce it. By the beginning of the 1980’s this trend continued with the award winning “Hill Street Blues” which was a show I particularly loved, because each episode was laden with emotion and the acting was superb. The world portrayed in “Hill Street Blues” was a dangerous one and various cast members were either badly injured or killed, as ploy lienes during the show’s run. Indeed, each episode opened with the Duty Sergeant reading the roll, setting the day’s activities and ending with the ominous “Be careful out there.” “Blues” set the standard for TV shows to follow after and in setting that standard made all of us care about the officers and the great dangers they faced. If a sympathetic officer was killed, or badly wounded, we the viewer would each feel a stab of emotional pain. Today, all of the top rated TV dramas are police shows. They are well written, well acted, directed and scored. They portray the world of the police as a terribly dangerous one and because they give the officers “back stories”, family and children, the danger to them seems even more intense to the viewer.

These shows affect our cultural attitudes and I have no doubt effect the cultural attitudes of our country’s police officers. Whereas in the 50’s we see officers in control of their environment, in the Twenty First Century we see officers facing ever greater dangers and our instinct is to caution them to take care and preserve their lives. Then came 9/11 and our country became riddled with fear at the potential for disaster as we led our everyday lives. Police lost so many good people on that day that they too felt the infection of fear. We all should be aware that fear itself is infectious and it is an infection that spreads rapidly. To complement that we saw the formation of a Department of Homeland Security, one of whose main functions seems to be the militarization of our police forces and the doling out of weaponry of ever greater destructive power. Many of our police today work their jobs in constant fear and do so with a distrust of the people they are charged to serve. I believe this fear is behind much of the police abuse that we see spiraling out of control. As the author Mr. Whitehead puts it:

“No longer is it unusual to hear about incidents in which police shoot unarmed individuals first and ask questions later. What is unusual is our lack of outrage, the relative disinterest of our elected representatives, the media’s abysmal failure to ask questions and demand answers, and our growing acceptance of the status quo in the United Police States of America–a status quo in which “we the people” are powerless in the face of the heavy-handed tactics employed by the government and its armed agents. 

However, as I document in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, it’s all part of the larger police state continuum. Thus, with each tragic shooting that is shrugged off or covered up, each piece of legislation passed that criminalizes otherwise legal activities, every surveillance drone that takes to the skies, every phone call, email or text that is spied on, and every transaction that is monitored, the government’s stranglehold over our lives grows stronger. 

We have been silent about too many things for too long, not the least of which is the deadly tendency on the part of police to resort to lethal force. However, as Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” http://www.opednews.com/articles/Welcome-to-the-United-Poli-by-John-Whitehead-Police_Police-Abuse-Of-Power_Police-Brutality_Police-Killing-Children-131105-375.html

Mr. Whitehead talks about a “safety at all costs” mindset that permeates many of today’s police and contrasts it with statistics that show that “policing” is not quite as dangerous as we, or the police are led to imagine:

“Unfortunately, this police preoccupation with ensuring their own safety at all costs–a mindset that many older law enforcement officials find abhorrent in light of the more selfless code on which they were trained–is spreading like a plague among the ranks of police officers across the country, with tragic consequences for the innocent civilians unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Yet the fatality rate of on-duty patrol officers is reportedly far lower than many other professions, including construction, logging, fishing, truck driving, and even trash collection. In fact, police officers have the same rate of dying on the job as do taxi drivers. 

Nevertheless, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 400 to 500 innocent people are killed by police officers every year. That does not include the number of unarmed individuals shot and injured by police simply because they felt threatened or feared for their safety. This is the danger of having a standing army (which is what police forces, increasingly made up of individuals with military backgrounds and/or training, have evolved into) that has been trained to view the citizenry as little more than potential suspects, combatants and insurgents.”

Mr. Whitehead provides many incidents but I’m just going to quote one that at the time was the subject of a blog by Professor Turley, because I think it might be worth your time to read his entire article:

“For the sake of 13-year-old Andy Lopez, we can be silent no more. The Santa Rosa teen was shot dead after two sheriff’s deputies saw him carrying a toy BB gun in public. Lopez was about 20 feet away from the deputies, his back turned to them, when the officers took cover behind their car and ordered him to drop the “weapon.” When Lopez turned around, toy gun in his hand, one of the officers–a 24-year veteran of the force–shot him seven times. The time span between the deputies calling in a suspicious person sighting and shooting Lopez was a mere ten seconds. The young boy died at the scene. Clearly, no attempt was made to use less lethal force. 

Rationalizing the shooting incident, Lt. Paul Henry of the Santa Rosa Police Department explained, “The deputy’s mindset was that he was fearful that he was going to be shot.” Yet as William Norman Grigg, a commentator for LewRockwell.com, points out, such a “preoccupation with “officer safety’ ” leads to unnecessary police shootings. A peace officer is paid to assume certain risks, including those necessary to de-escalate a confrontation with someone believed to be a heavily armed suspect in a residential neighborhood. A “veteran’ deputy with the mindset of a peace officer would have taken more than a shaved fraction of a split-second to open fire on a small male individual readily identifiable as a junior high school student, who was carrying an object that is easily recognizable as a toy–at least to people who don’t see themselves as an army of occupation, and view the public as an undifferentiated mass of menace.

Unfortunately, this police preoccupation with ensuring their own safety at all costs–a mindset that many older law enforcement officials find abhorrent in light of the more selfless code on which they were trained–is spreading like a plague among the ranks of police officers across the country, with tragic consequences for the innocent civilians unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

In most areas of this country being a police officer is considered to be an honorable profession and in general police officers are well paid. Policing is an opportunity for many to enter the “middle class” and to do productive work for the community. I’ve known many police officers socially and through work. I’ve lectured on handling the mentally ill at police precincts in New York City. Some of those lectures revealed to me perfectly legal and ingenious strategies for dealing with people with mental illness, that were a revelation to me as a professional. The police are not our enemies. What are our enemies though are the mindset that separates police from civilian, the militarization of our police forces as a quick fix to a complex problem, the “thin blue line” wall of silence that prevents police officers from ratting on the bad apples among them and finally politicians who garner votes with their toughness on crime via legislation to solve problems that don’t exist. Murder rates have fallen as have crime rates around the country. Yet the government, with the approval of both parties, keeps shoveling out money and equipment to make the local police even more separated from those they are putatively sworn to protect. To me this is madness and we are far down the path to a USSR style police state. That we already imprison a hundred people per capita more than Putin’s Russia proves that. Finally the wars “terrorism and drugs” must end so that we can deal with the problems of each in rational manners. As Hunter S. Thompson wrote:

“Coming of age in a fascist police state will not be a barrel of fun for anybody, much less for people like me, who are not inclined to suffer Nazis gladly and feel only contempt for the cowardly flag-suckers who would gladly give up their outdated freedom to live for the mess of pottage they have been conned into believing will be freedom from fear.”

My final words to you the reader return me to my favorite police show of yore, but this time are intended for all of us civilians when we encounter police: “Be careful out there.”

Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

Please note: These links below represent only a few of the many blogs written here on these issues. You can find many more by using the search function on the upper right.

http://jonathanturley.org/2013/03/09/swat-is-america-coming-under-martial-law/

http://jonathanturley.org/2013/04/20/swat-is-america-coming-under-martial-law-redux/

http://jonathanturley.org/2013/08/26/california-county-pays-2-6-million-to-family-after-swat-team-raids-home-starts-fire-that-kills-innocent-man-and-blocks-fire-trucks-rushing-to-the-scene/

http://jonathanturley.org/2013/11/06/new-mexico-police-allegedly-stop-man-for-minor-traffic-violation-and-use-repeated-digital-and-surgical-anal-examinations-to-find-drugs-and-find-nothing/

http://jonathanturley.org/2013/02/21/connecticut-swat-team-raids-home-with-armored-car-shoots-and-kills-unarmed-occupant-and-pay-millions-in-damages-but-lead-officer-given-award-for-his-role-in-the-raid/

http://jonathanturley.org/2012/06/29/indiana-swat-units-raids-wrong-home-after-seeing-internet-posting-threatening-local-police/

http://jonathanturley.org/2011/03/25/under-siege-steven-seagal-attacks-home-in-arizona-with-armored-cars-and-swat-members-to-arrest-man-accused-of-cockfighting/

http://jonathanturley.org/2011/01/19/fairfax-police-give-2-million-to-parents-of-unarmed-man-shot-and-killed-by-swat-officer-outside-of-his-home/

http://jonathanturley.org/2013/09/28/you-dont-need-a-weatherman-to-know-which-way-the-wind-blows/

http://jonathanturley.org/2013/11/08/missouri-police-repeated-shoot-man-with-tasers-and-arrest-him-to-prevent-him-from-rescuing-his-three-year-old-son-from-fire/

51 thoughts on “Police State America

  1. I agree entirely–hear, hear. The essence is the flow of money to the top which is of course the subject matter of 1929 and the communism that exists amongst the Elite. FDR got this–Holder doesn’t. Simply put–if “corporations are people”, then “people are corporations” and under such IRS rules, FICA with holdings are illegal–like corporations, people should have the right to consider their money, pre-tax profits, and as such, they should be entitled to the same write offs, exemptions and costs of doing business that corporations enjoy. Therefore, the way to the money source, is by either mandating FICA on pre-tax corporate profits, or eliminating the FICA with holdings from individual workers. This shifts the onus of Citizens United v FEC ruling onto the IRS and its non-dividend paying with holdings. This should call for a review of all IRS codes and standards which the Treasury enjoys paying for debt it incurs by the FICA with holdings it does not pay the employee, even at the end of the year, if he or she is entitled to a refund. Also, Social Security should be paying dividends as well on money it holds in its escrow accounts. A legal argument should be made based on the FEC ruling, challenging whether corporations are people or people are corporations? Money has to flow back to the masses and it must come from the few who have enjoyed hood-winking the lesser sophisticated for decades now. It is at an all time necessity that we look at where the money is going to establish a route back to the people. Poverty is the process of procurement, the drug trade relies upon in building its cartels in the same fashion a corporate executive builds his company–by recruiting talent from the bottom up.

  2. I took notes as I read each word in Mike’s post today..

    By the numbers:

    1) “A paramilitary trooper by definition perceives themselves operating in a hostile environment and so everyone in that environment that is not of their army is a potential ‘hostile’. ”

    2) “… vast sums of money have come in from the Federal Government to help create paramilitary SWAT teams.”

    3) “Yet the fatality rate of on-duty patrol officers is reportedly far lower than many other professions, including construction, logging, fishing, truck driving, and even trash collection. In fact, police officers have the same rate of dying on the job as do taxi drivers.”

    4) “We all should be aware that fear itself is infectious and it is an infection that spreads rapidly.”

    5) “be careful out there.”
    (Mike S). Very well put indeed.

  3. I just have one question.. Should law enforcement agents be charged with crimes against humanity, and war crimes in situation like this.. The cops consider themselves to be at war.. and cops have in the past used that basis to excuse themselves of wrong doing.
    “They [police officers] made a mistake.
    There’s no one to blame for a mistake. The
    way these people were treated has to be
    judged in the context of a war.”
    —Hallandale, Florida, attorney Richard Kane,
    after police officers conducted a late night drug raid
    on the home of Edwin and Catherine Bernhardt.

  4. Beginning with the judges and extending to the district attorneys and extending to police there is a presumption of immunity. When a judge or DA or policeman commits an act that if done by a civilian would be punished with long prison terms they are immune to any penalty.

    “All animals are equal, some are more equal than others.” — Animal Farm

  5. Mike S.,

    Very well stated…. This seems to be a combination of many areas of government as well as the final installment of the star chamber…..

  6. Yes, we have a police state. It is not the death by a thousand cuts but the death of our society by a thousand denials. People who have been speaking the truth have been verbally attacked, to include on this blog, by their fellow citizens. People who have peacefully protested the police state have been physically assaulted by Federal, state and local police forces.

    Part of the problem has been a well propagandized populace who has refused, and in many cases, still refuses to come to grips with what this govt. is and what it is doing. By attacking truth tellers, our population played right in the hands of officials bringing in a police state. In fact, I believe, it would not have been possible to create a police state without the willingness of citizens to ally themselves with the powerful against their fellow citizens whose only “crime” was speaking up, saying uncomfortable truths.

    I am hoping that instead of allying with the powerful, our population will begin to come together for the common good of restoring the rule of law, a just society and a living earth.

  7. The war time actions of this govt. are in the streets of USA.

    “…members installed themselves in the spacious quarters of Combat Outpost Nerkh, which overlooked the farming valley and had been vacated by more than 100 soldiers belonging to the regular infantry. They were U.S. Army Green Berets, trained to wage unconventional warfare, and their arrival was typical of what was happening all over Afghanistan; the big Army units, installed during the surge, were leaving, and in their place came small groups of quiet, bearded Americans, the elite operators who would stay behind to hunt the enemy and stiffen the resolve of government forces long after America’s 13-year war in Afghanistan officially comes to an end.

    But six months after its arrival, the team would be forced out of Nerkh by the Afghan government, amid allegations of torture and murder against the local populace. If true, these accusations would amount to some of the gravest war crimes perpetrated by American forces since 2001. By February 2013, the locals claimed 10 civilians had been taken by U.S. Special Forces and had subsequently disappeared, while another eight had been killed by the team during their operations…

    Officials at the American-led International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, categorically denied these allegations, which came at an extremely delicate moment – as Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the American government were locked in still-unresolved negotiations over the future of American forces in Afghanistan. The sticking point has been the U.S.’s demand for continued legal immunity for its troops, which Karzai is reluctant to grant. Privately, some American officials have begun to grumble about a “zero option” – where, as in Iraq, the U.S. would rather withdraw all its forces than subject them to local law – but both sides understand that such an action could be suicidal for the beleaguered Afghan government and devastating for American power in the region. Yet a story like the one brewing in Nerkh has the potential to sabotage negotiations…

    Last winter, tensions peaked and President Karzai ordered an investigation into the allegations. Then on February 16th, a student named Nasratullah was found under a bridge with his throat slit, two days, his family claimed, after he had been picked up by the Green Berets. Mass demonstrations erupted in Wardak, and Karzai demanded that the American Special Forces team leave, and by April, it did. That’s when the locals started finding bodies buried outside the American base in Nerkh, bodies they said belonged to the 10 missing men. In July, the Afghan government announced that it had arrested Zikria Kandahari, a translator who had been working for the American team, in connection with the murders, and that in turn Kandahari had fingered members of the Special Forces for the crimes. But the American military stuck to its denials.

    Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/feature/a-team-killings-afghanistan-special-forces#ixzz2kAC81jgd
    Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook

  8. Thank you Mike. Tough sledding, but necessary. Tough because it’s a police state occurring when citizens lack resources to combat it due to the shifting of American wealth into the hands of a tiny, angry minority that has given up on governing, empathy, and any recognition that we all rise and fall together, even the rich.

    The money must be taken out of politics.

  9. Fear of “terrorists” is in the populace as a result of propaganda, even though:

    You are 35,079 times more likely to die from heart disease than from a terrorist
    You are 33,842 times more likely to die from cancer than from a terrorist
    obesity is 5,882 to 23,528 times more likely to kill you than a terrorist
    you are 5,882 times more likely to die from medical error than terrorism
    you’re 4,706 times more likely to drink yourself to death than die from terrorism
    you are 1,904 times more likely to die from a car accident than from a terrorist
    your meds are thousands of times more likely to kill you than Al Qaeda
    you’re 2,059 times more likely to kill yourself than die at the hand of a terrorist
    you’re 452 times more likely to die from risky sexual behavior than terrorism
    you’re 353 times more likely to fall to your death … than die in a terrorist attack
    you are 271 times more likely to die from a workplace accident than terrorism
    you are 187 times more likely to starve to death in America than be killed by terrorism
    you’re about 22 times more likely to die from a brain-eating zombie parasite than a terrorist
    you were more than 9 times more likely to be killed by a law enforcement officer than by a terrorist
    [being] “crushed to death by … [TV] or furniture” [as likely as] being killed by terrorist
    Americans are 110 times more likely to die from contaminated food than terrorism
    you are more likely to be killed by a toddler than a terrorist
    you [are] four times more likely to be struck by lightning than killed by a terrorist

    (Terrorism We Can Believe In? – 3). And as Mike S pointed out, that fear can infect quickly.

    It has done so to the police who are now also afraid without a rational reason:

    “Yet the fatality rate of on-duty patrol officers is reportedly far lower than many other professions, including construction, logging, fishing, truck driving, and even trash collection. In fact, police officers have the same rate of dying on the job as do taxi drivers.”

    (Mike S). Yes those who are paid to have less fear have too much fear, and so they mistreat, maim, and kill those who they are supposed to protect.

    Perhaps they should drive around in Taxi Cabs if they would feel safer.

  10. “The war time actions of this govt. are in the streets of USA.” -Jill

    Tragically true. The full truth will “shock the conscience” of most Americans when it eventually comes to light.

  11. Related to Jill’s posting at 10:52 am (Rolling Stone article):

    Matthieu Aikins** was on Democracy Now, a couple of days ago.

    http://www.democracynow.org/2013/11/7/war_crimes_in_afghanistan_10_bodies

    Excerpts:

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: A year ago yesterday, on November 6, 2012, tens of millions of Americans went to the polls to re-elect President Obama. On that same day, thousands of miles away, a 39-year-old Afghan farmer named Mohammad Qasim disappeared after being arrested by U.S. Special Forces. He was never heard from again.

    Months later, an Afghan shepherd saw a feral dog digging at human remains now believed to be the farmer’s. His decaying body was found just outside a base used by a team of U.S. Special Forces known as “the A-Team.” The body was found just weeks after U.S. Special Forces were compelled by the Afghan government to leave the base amid allegations of torture and murder.

    More and more bodies were soon found just outside the base located in Wardak province, west of Kabul. In total, Afghan officials say they have uncovered the bodies of 10 Afghan men, all of whom disappeared after being arrested by U.S. Special Forces. Eight other Afghans were killed by the Special Forces during operations.

    AMY GOODMAN: The mystery behind the killings is the center of a shocking new article published by Rolling Stone magazine, which reports the disappearances and killings could amount to some of the gravest war crimes perpetrated by U.S. forces since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.

    On Wednesday, Human Rights Watch said any U.S. personnel who participated in or were otherwise responsible for the abuses should be criminally prosecuted. So far only one person has been arrested: an Afghan translator who went by the name Zikria Kandahari, who had been working for the American team. He was arrested in July by the Afghan government. Rolling Stone reports the U.S. military opened a criminal investigation into the killings in July; however, none of the witnesses and family members who were interviewed by Rolling Stone in Afghanistan during five months of reporting say they’ve ever been contacted by U.S. military investigators.

    MATTHIEU AIKINS: Sure. This is one of the most disturbing incidents that I came across. I don’t mention his name in the piece; I give him a pseudonym, Omar. But Omar and his neighbor, Gul Rahim, who was a 28-year-old shopkeeper, were digging a stump in front of their house when an IED hit the U.S. Special Forces team as they were traveling nearby their village of Polad Khan. This was on November 10th of last year. And they soon saw Americans sort of coming down the road toward them, so they went inside. And two translators and an American, a bearded American, burst into their house—this is what Omar recounted to me—started beating them, dragged them out to the orchard, where they had found a command wire for the IED. It was the next-door orchard; it didn’t belong to either of the men.

    And as Omar watched, as one of the Americans held him and beat him, the other translator, this man Zikria Kandahari, took Gul Rahim about 10 paces away and raised his pistol to the back of his head and fired three shots, killing him, in front of the Americans. Omar then says that he was beaten and taken away to the U.S. Special Forces base. He was held for several days, suspended, whipped with cables, and interrogated by the Americans and the translators. Now, he was the only civilian witness that I spoke to, to Gul Rahim’s execution, but three different neighbors that I spoke to from the same village told me that they saw the American Special Forces team arrive, they heard gunshots from the orchard, and when they came afterwards they found his bullet-riddled body lying there among the apple trees, the skull shattered.

    ——

    ** Matthieu Aikins: “an award-winning investigative journalist based in Kabul who spent five months investigating the killings for his Rolling Stone article, “The A-Team Killing”) was on Democracy Now, a couple of days ago”

  12. AmeriKans: went in dumb, come out dumb too. Shufflin round Atlanta in their Alligator shoes…
    You folks had the best the civilized world created and threw it in the sewer.
    So said a guy at the bar in Amsterdam last night.

  13. There is a whole lot to do to save America. The police state situation definitely has to be rolled back, but you can trace our predicament back to Marxist ideas like income tax, which make the people subject to all the whims of the state. As long as the state has a legal right (never a moral right) to take your earned or gifted income, you will never be free & will continue to be subject to all manner of privacy violations.

  14. In the thread about the dad calling the police on his son in order to teach him a lesson, I spoke of my brother who recently retired from the a large city PD. as I said there, I met many of his friends who were on the Dept. Over the years and not one of them struck me as the type that would engage in these kinds of egregious incidents of police overkill. I wondered what had changed, was it the hiring or the training? After reading this blog post it’s evident it’s the training and the militarization of the PDs. My brother was on the TAC squad for several years and it took a toll on his health. He then, because he had obtained a MS in Psychology, became a counselor to cops who had some very serious issues, he had jumped from the pan into the fire I thought. He retired with lingering effects to his health from his many years on the PD, in my opinion.

  15. I will never forget Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, the man sent to New Orleans to bring order to the city following Hurricane Katrina. He was giving an interview on the street to news reporters as trucks full of soldiers were rolling by when he stopped mid-sentence, turned and strode to the middle of the street. “Lower those rifles!” he yelled at the soldiers in the trucks. “Barrels down, barrels down! These are citizens of the United States of America! LOWER THOSE RIFLES … NOW!!”

    I wonder if there are any like him left in this country.

  16. Good point and good question Blouise.

    There are some:

    Oath Keepers is a non-partisan association of current and formerly serving military, police, and first responders who pledge to fulfill the oath all military and police take to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”That oath, mandated by Article VI of the Constitution itself, is to the Constitution, not to the politicians, and Oath Keepers declare that they will not obey unconstitutional orders, such as orders to disarm the American people, to conduct warrantless searches, or to detain Americans as “enemy combatants” in violation of their ancient right to jury trial. See the Oath Keepers Declaration of Orders We Will Not Obey for details.

    (American Feudalism – 7, links removed, bold in original). Let’s do whatever we can to spread the word about them.

    Carefully please.

  17. Thank you. Good article. I shared it on Facebook & Twitter. Below please find a link to article just published by “The Imaginative Conservative” in which the dangers of becoming a police state are warned against, This article compares current trends of law enforcement with how, in the series Mayberry RFD, the Sheriff played by Andy Griffith would handle situations, and how he would reign in the overly officious deputy played by Don Knotts: http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2013/11/barney-fife-american-police-state.html

  18. J.H. As far as I am concerned, as an answer to your question, I would say definitely.

    Mike S. Once again a wonderfully concise post on a subject that every day has me popping more Prilosec than is good for me!.

    For those who might be interested, I would recommend a book that I have just finished reading called ‘L.A. Secret Police: Inside the LAPD Elite Spy Division’ by Mike Rothmiller. .

  19. Ross,

    Good article and what looks to be an interesting and welcome website. Many issues facing our country do not conveniently fit into the game of political labeling that has been promoted by our media and causes such a great divide between people. There are many issues that people of good will can agree upon and work towards solutions together beyond political “Ism’s”. When it comes to the underlying theme of this piece I didn’t see it as one of a partisan nature, but one that can unite people preferring freedom together to deal with what I see as a menace to us all.

  20. Reblogged this on veritasusa and commented:
    The Gestapo, The Stasi, The KGB & GRU – are we next?
    It is REALLY starting to look that way. In that sense
    9/11 may have been the most successful military attack ever – 12 people were able to start a chain reaction that destroyed freedom and liberty in

  21. The great thing about Mike S’ posts is the grounded perspective he displays, grounded in history, in traditions, in experience and obviously in the study of human behavior, from which we can foresee what the next step in that behavior will be. I made an esquisse about this issue he brings us today in my previous posts, to echo such greats as MLK and Gandhi, where I said that the most dangerous issue facing us as a nation is injustice, and no injustice is greater than the one where the instruments of the government are used to oppress the people.
    At best, the reaction to those forces creates a unified response by the populace, leading to a revolution; at worse, it leads to a dissolution, where the population is fragmented into groups enemies of one another, embattled against one another.
    Americans, aren’t wired to accept injustice; it is neither in our cultural dna, nor in our history, and these are the times now when people on the political extremes and alongside the middle, share the same distrust and antagonism against their government and its tools of expression.
    I can no longer dismiss the southern militias, as they arm themselves against the government, nor can I dismiss the leftist anarchists adamant about reducing the powers of that government.
    I used to hate conspiracy theorists, until I realized that everything they claimed is now apparent, and that these are the times that the Arabs foresaw: “…where one is crazy who doesn’t question his sanity.”
    We are all insane, insane for playing along as if nothing is wrong, insane for taking arms against the government, insane for trusting everything we are told, insane for doubting everything our leaders say…
    One of my recent tweet read: what happens on the macro, happens on the micro. The president empowers himself to blow up people internationally, citizens empowers themselves to blow up people locally.
    In other words, what goes around comes around, or, the chicken are coming home to roost, for oppression and fear for so long have been the wind in our sails, and now the wind is turning, and some of that oppression, some of the seeding of division and mayhem, all of that pain, is mulling around on our shores, waiting, gathering, soon to spread through the land. Violence is a cancer, and as a cancer, it tends to metastasize and devour its hosts from the inside, cells battling one another, organs battling one another, the body failing, the body dying.
    And it is true, it is always about fear. The most extreme behavior of man is not spurred by want, it is spurred by fear, fear of the other, of the unknown, of what we fear, which is also about the unknown. In that, whether his insight was limited to the downing of the WWC, or reached beyond, to a decade later, where this body destroys itself in the name of curing itself of that other cancer that infected it, terrorism, Osama can be deemed successful. His plan, whether planned or accidental, set in motion the domino effect that is insuring that America is as divided as it has ever been, and as dysfunctional and scared as it has ever been, and no one escapes its effects, especially the faithful.
    Although true religion, true spirituality is supposed to be about love, when fear of the unknown is subjected and turned into love, yet people of faith, and this across all religions, are the most fearful lot to be found. Their relationship with humanity is unnatural, for their hatred of it, of its humanity is so much greater than their love for it. In that, they are lesser faithful than the faithless, for they deny the core tenet of religion, love your brother, which, strangely, is the core tenet of humanism.
    These are the times, fear now rules supreme. We know more and we know less; we master more and fear more. This is our new reality, and it is about to get worse for injustice is now legitimized and empowered, and armed.

  22. “Their relationship with humanity is unnatural, for their hatred of it, of its humanity is so much greater than their love for it. In that, they are lesser faithful than the faithless, for they deny the core tenet of religion, love your brother, which, strangely, is the core tenet of humanism.”

    Po,

    I’ve been lucky in my life to have met a few truly pious people who embodied that love and acceptance for fellow humans that represents the best many religions have to offer as behavioral lessons, but get ignored by those who read the words but don’t absorb their import. In a like vein those who advance the U.S. Police State suffer from a disconnect that allows them to deny the end result of their own behavior. Hanna Arendt about the NAZI’s banality of evil and yet loved one who was part and parcel of that evil and its banality. Those who in their hearts believe they are protecting this country are in denial of the destructive nature of their work and it will no doubt be their undoing, yet how much longer can we wait?

  23. A lot has changed, for the worse, since I got out of law enforcement back in ’95. After over 10 years as a law enforcement officer and a previous 7 or so as a fire fighter federal & local), I was really surprised at how people viewed me and how much I had become isolated in my community. I realized that although I knew many of the people (small community) and they knew me, we did not know each other. I hung out with cops, medics and firefighters. I was feared, yet I think I never did anything to cause that fear. It was the shield. As I shed the uniform, people gradually began to warm up to me. After a divorce I was at a party with a lady friend when I walked by a room that had a ‘good pot’ smell, yea that is what it was. I didn’t/don’t smoke but don’t give a damn if others do. The young man saw me, and in a near state of panic asked if I was going to turn him in, I didn’t even know him-maybe his parents. I told him that in my years as a law enforcement officer I had never busted anybody for pot or paraphernalia and I damn sure wasn’t a cop anymore. Amazing how everybody loosened up afterwords. It was a real eye opener for me. While I never considered the ‘people’ as my enemy (where I lived and worked everybody was armed), they certainly considered me as theirs. You might want to listen to John Denver’s “Readjustment Blues” about returning Vietnam Vets, yea I was one and he was right. Now I am just a citizen and they are pointing their rifles at me. Just another reason I won’t ever return to the Corporate Police State of Amerika.

  24. Mike,

    I came across this article this morning and thought it had relevance to this discussion.

    “Paradise Lost: Paranoia Has Undermined US Democracy” by Dirk Kurbjuweit at Spiegel Online International.

    Of particular note was this bit from his conclusion.

    “While paranoia legitimizes a dictatorship, it can achieve the opposite effect in a democracy. The United States is no longer a model of liberal democracy. That much has been made clear in light of mass surveillance, torture, the extralegal detention camp at Guantanamo and an isolationist ideology that leads to author Ilija Trojanow being denied entry to the country, presumably because of his criticism of American policy.

    Other nations also have their fears, but they lack the power to turn the world upside down. Power and paranoia are a dangerous mix.”

    Sounds vaguely familiar to many of the columns and discussions about the ever expanding police state found in this forum.

  25. gene:

    American paranoia explains a lot of things like fascination with guns and violence. It’s media/corporate driven in my view and has at its base that ol’ serpent, money, as its root. Scared folks buy things to feel less scared. Governments, too.

  26. “A lot has changed, for the worse, since I got out of law enforcement back in ’95. After over 10 years as a law enforcement officer and a previous 7 or so as a fire fighter federal & local), I was really surprised at how people viewed me and how much I had become isolated in my community. I realized that although I knew many of the people (small community) and they knew me, we did not know each other. I hung out with cops, medics and firefighters. I was feared, yet I think I never did anything to cause that fear. It was the shield.”

    Sgtsabai,

    I want to thank you for your comment since it dealt with an issue that was on my mind writing this, but was difficult to express since I was never a LEO and so was something I could only surmise. One of the reasons that we’ve come to this point of separation between police and citizens has been a phenomenon of the “police culture”. This is not something peculiar to the police, since it is the effect on people of working in a specialized environment,
    but because of the police’s function/weaponry it isolates them more than usual.

    In bureaucracy’s, which are societies in miniature, most often various divisions feel themselves cut off from the bureaucracy as a whole. The workers feel that they are unappreciated throughout the bureaucracy and that the bureaucrats don’t/can’t understand the value of their work. They tend then to form their own little social circle and in that formation, the initial feelings are reinforced. This is the same for corporations, where for instance “sales” feels disrespected by “manufacturing” and vice versa.

    Given the role of the police as enforcers of the law and the fact they carry weapons of all sorts to aid them in that enforcement, this estrangement becomes particularly acute. Add to that the long, constantly varying hours worked and it is not hard to imagine the alienation that comes with the job. Marriages tend to be less stable since the camaraderie of the job, trumps the
    demands of home life. A policeman not matter what ideals led them into the work also becomes jade at society because of the work. The People are seen in the worst light because that feeling is reinforced by their comrades, who experience similar alienation and because of the problems they encounter daily.

    The thing you describe plays a role in making this country a police state because that human tendency for a group to set itself apart has been reinforced since 9/11 by the federal government, clearly trying to remake the local police into a military style model. We’ve recognized for years that our Armed Forces in their team building processes clearly subscribe to an us vs. them notion vis-a-vis: military vs. civillian. How strange and interesting it must be for you to be retired from being a LEO and seeing those around you relaxing in your presence. Enjoy it. I’ve never had disdain for the people who become police officers and indeed there was a point when I might have considered it for myself had I been in better physical condition. For the most part LEO’s come from the same working class background that I do and as such we have similar societal attitudes. I have empathy for the plight of individual officers, yet I have disdain for the way many law enforcement agencies are forced to operate be it from ego driven leadership, from political pressures, or from mistaken ideas of what the rights of the citizen should entail.

  27. “Other nations also have their fears, but they lack the power to turn the world upside down. Power and paranoia are a dangerous mix”

    Gene,

    Yep!

  28. Mike, thanks. I really had no idea how isolated I had become back then. It must be much, much worse now.

    I always had trouble with upper management, seems I kept ticketing/arresting the ‘wrong’ (i.e. politiclly connected) people. I once told the big boss “just give me a list of who I am not supposed to ticket/arrest”, I was told I had a bad attitude. Yes, I had it on tape.

    We have a police state in America now, it isn’t coming, it is. It is an “us vs. them” country. I remember well “us vs. them” and we didn’t even know who “them” were in Vietnam. Neither do the paramilitary police in the US.

    I attended a small USMC B-Day celebration here in Udonthani, Thailand today, proud men all, but I don’t think any of us, up to recent Iraq Vets were proud of what their country has become. That was a point of discussion. We don’t go back to the states.

    The militarized police forces in the US today are not police, they are paramilitary and they view all as the enemy. While years ago we were acutely aware of the dangers our job entailed, we signed up for those dangers and were willing to make the sacrifices to obey the law on our side. It was hammered into our heads in the Law Enforcement Academy, citizen rights, Constitutional rights (my classroom nickname was “get a lawyer”). Many of us ‘older guys and women’ had been a little shady in our younger days, we knew the score. By the time I left the new guys coming in had no life experience, had never done anything wrong and many were teetotaler bible thumpers, the old cops despised them.

    We are a country gone very wrong. If the sheeple don’t find their hind feet very, very soon there will be no coming back, if that is even possible now.

    Thanks for a very insightful article, more people need to read.

  29. Sgtwayne2013,

    I must thank you all the more because your credibility reinforces my case. As a soldier, firefighter and policeman, you are among those who are extolled by those who would destroy the values of our country. You know far better than I the reality of the “let’s hear it for our troops” exhortations that seem to end with another cut in veteran’s benefits. A good part of my career put me into contact with the NYPD, “NY’s Finest” at the precinct level. True feelings about a particular group of workers can be seen in terms of the working conditions their “superiors” provide them. Many of the precinct houses were shabby, dilapidated and ill equipped, the equipment not properly maintained and the cars ill-suited for the job. The pay was good to be sure, but the pressures put on individual officers to toe the line in ticket blitzes, to make arrests wholesale and yet to protect the privileged not only alienated them from the public, but from their “superiors” as well. The War on Drugs bred cynicism and the lack of backing to prosecute the big time dealers in favor of the “street users” made the average officer cynical towards all of human nature.

    Your career was spent doing the work that those in politics and the media extol, however, their praise is usually never backed up with true support or even caring about their lives. Your comments are needed because you’ve been there and have the insight to understand what is really happening.

  30. Mike S.,

    Your post brought to mind a story about Adrian Schoolcraft, an NYPD police officer who was a whistle blower. I had listened to the story on an NPR program recently.

    *****

    NYPD Officer Sent To Psych Ward By Superiors After Reporting Corruption
    http://gawker.com/5892115/nypd-officer-sent-to-psych-ward-by-superiors-after-reporting-corruption

    Graham Rayman at the Village Voice brings us more on officer Adrian Schoolcraft, the modern day Serpico who was sent to a psych ward for reporting on corruption in the NYPD. While working out of the 81st precinct in Brooklyn, Schoolcraft became aware of a pattern of crime victims getting caught up in bureaucratic hurdles that seemed to have purposely been set up to make it hard to report serious crimes. Schoolcraft reported a number of these incidents to investigators. That’s where things take a turn for the insane:

    “In October 2009, Schoolcraft met with NYPD investigators for three hours and detailed more than a dozen cases of crime reports being manipulated in the district. Three weeks after that meeting-which was supposed to have been kept secret from Schoolcraft’s superiors-his precinct commander and a deputy chief ordered Schoolcraft to be dragged from his apartment and forced into the Jamaica Hospital psychiatric ward for six days.”

    Officer Schoolcraft is the same man that released two years of recorded roll calls at NYPD precincts, leading to the award winning series by Rayman that has revealed incompetence and corruption in the NYPD. The story of Officer Schoolcraft’s forcible psych detainment was recently released in a 95 page report that vindicated Officer Schoolcraft, who has been suspended without pay for more than two years. He has since filed a lawsuit. The report was actually completed two years ago, and the NYPD has tried to keep it under wraps.

    More from Rayman:

    “In the wake of our series, NYPD commissioner Raymond Kelly ordered an investigation into Schoolcraft’s claims. By June 2010, that investigation produced a report that the department has tried to keep secret for nearly two years.

    “The Voice has obtained that 95-page report, and it shows that the NYPD confirmed Schoolcraft’s allegations. In other words, at the same time that police officials were attacking Schoolcraft’s credibility, refusing to pay him, and serving him with administrative charges, the NYPD was sitting on a document that thoroughly vindicated his claims.”

    Schoolcraft’s complaints focused on the NYPD’s alleged habit of juking crime stats to appear more effective. Anybody who has watched The Wire is familiar with the practice of turning felonies into misdemeanors or not reporting some crimes to make it appear is if the precinct had lower crime rates. Reports Rayman, “Officers were told to arrest people who were doing little more than standing on the street, but they were also encouraged to disregard actual victims of serious crimes who wanted to file reports.” Both Mayor Bloomberg and NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly have denied these allegations, but the newly released paper seems to confirm them.

    Investigators concluded that “an atmosphere was created discouraging members of the command to accurately report index crimes.”

    *****

    NYPD Internal Affairs Went Digging For Dirt On Whistleblower Cop Adrian Schoolcraft’s Father and Sister
    By Graham Rayman Fri.
    Sep. 27 2013
    http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2013/09/nypd_internal_a.php

    Excerpt:
    In the course of its investigation of whistleblower cop Adrian Schoolcraft, the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau not only ran his father’s name through criminal databases, but his sister’s name as well.

    This revelatory tidbit emerged in federal court Tuesday during a hearing on Schoolcraft’s lawsuit before U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet. It raises the question of whether it was proper for the NYPD to run the names of people through criminal databases when those people are merely potential witnesses and not under criminal investigation.

    In 2010, the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau was conducting an investigation of Schoolcraft. It was not a criminal investigation. It was merely an administrative investigation into why Schoolcraft went home early on Oct. 31, 2009. When Schoolcraft refused to report to work, after police dragged him out of his home and forced him into the Jamaica Hospital psychiatric ward, Internal Affairs investigated him for that, too. In all, the bureau filed two dozens administrative charges against Schoolcraft.

    In the course of that investigation, Internal Affairs ran Schoolcraft’s name in 2010 through the state criminal records database and the FBI’s National Crime Information Center’s database, records show. Internal Affairs also ran Schoolcraft’s father Larry’s name through the databases too. Larry was clearly not under either an administrative or criminal investigation when his name was run.

    Internal Affairs also ran the name of Schoolcraft’s sister, who lives in Texas and has had no contact with Adrian or Larry on this story. Not only was the sister not suspected of criminal conduct, she was not even remotely involved in any of the events surrounding the case. She had not idea what was going on. And yet, Internal Affairs thought it was okay to run her name through the system. None of the three Schoolcrafts had any priors.

    John McCarthy, the chief spokesman of the NYPD, did not respond to requests for comment. A spokeswoman for the city Law Department, said her office would rest on what was said in court, and declined to elaborate.

    Two veteran law enforcement sources told us that Internal Affairs conduct seemed unethical. “If they suspect criminality for each individual, that’s ok,” one of the sources said. “But they can’t just run the sister because she’s a family member.”

  31. NYPD Invade Whisteblower Cop’s Home, Drag and Detain Him in Hospital Psych Ward For a Week
    3/13/12
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/03/13/1073472/-NYPD-Invade-Whisteblower-Cop-s-Home-Drag-and-Detain-Him-in-Hospital-Psych-Ward-For-a-Week#

    Excerpt:
    Since 2010, when this story began, the NYPD has made Adrian Schoolcraft’s life miserable. He has been living with his father in upstate New York since being suspended. He is suing the department for $50 million. A two year old internal report, hidden by the NYPD for those two years, has now been obtained by The Village Voice. It vindicates Officer Adrian Schoolcraft’s actions. The VV’s request for a copy of the report was blocked even though at the time, the report had been completed and therefore, should have been released.

    “Kelly’s aides have also sought to marginalize Schoolcraft—to, in effect, kill the messenger. And the department has succeeded in making his life extremely uncomfortable. Schoolcraft has been suspended without pay for 27 months, he faces department charges, he was placed under surveillance for a time, and the city even blocked his application for unemployment benefits.”

    Adrian Schoolcraft, while working out of the 81st police precinct in Brooklyn, NY, became aware of a pattern of underreporting of serious crimes, while being required to meet illegal quotas for lesser crimes. Schoolcraft reported a number of these incidents to investigators. On October 29, 2010, a dozen officers in SWAT gear, and EMS, showed up at his home. He refused to return to the precinct on the grounds of being ill. In an obvious attempt to undermine his credibility for the lawsuit they knew would be coming, they had him taken to the psychiatric ward of the hospital and held against his will.

    “In October 2009, Schoolcraft met with NYPD investigators for three hours and detailed more than a dozen cases of crime reports being manipulated in the district. Three weeks after that meeting-which was supposed to have been kept secret from Schoolcraft’s superiors-his precinct commander and a deputy chief ordered Schoolcraft to be dragged from his apartment and forced into the Jamaica Hospital psychiatric ward for six days.”

    Officer Schoolcraft had filled out a sick form at work and went home. Hours later, the officers showed up at his home saying he hadn’t properly filled out the paperwork and had to return to the precinct so they could ‘investigate’ the matter. They said they were ‘worried’ about him because he didn’t respond to calls and loud knocks on the door. (It was midnight and he had taken Nyquil for a cold). Nobody knew where he was so they had to send a fleet of squad cars to his apartment to check on him. When he refused to go back to the station, the officers conferred with EMS, who declared him an ‘EDP’ (emotionally disturbed person) which gave them grounds to take him to the psychiatric ward.

    Schoolcraft’s father was uninformed of his whereabouts and finally found him six days later by calling around to the area hospitals.

    “Schoolcraft alleged that commanders knew he had come forward and used the psychiatric stay to retaliate against him. For more than two years, the NYPD has publicly insisted that was not the case.”

    Schoolcraft, had been secretly recording his precint’s roll calls during which there are orders from his commanders to fill quotas for minor violations (moving violations, cell phone while driving use, no seatbelts, etc). They usually referto these quotas with ambiguous phrases like ‘paying the rent’, but once towards the end of the quota period, the commander actually enumerated the requirements for each violation. They were also encouraged to make petty arrests such as arresting ‘roving gangs’ which they defined as more than two people standing around. This amounts to illegal arrest without cause, or kidnapping. They also were encouraged to conduct stop and frisk which would lead to marijuana arrests even though marijuana must be in public view to warrant an arrest.

    At the same time, officers were discouraged from investigating or taking reports of more serious crimes which had the effect of lowering crime statistics.

  32. Elaine, this democracy Now interview features the other whistleblower, and makes mention of Schoolcraft. If police officers can be subjected to this, who can’t be?

    http://www.democracynow.org/2013/11/6/nypd_officer_risks_his_job_to

    The worse part of this all, is that our taxes fuel this system, and when it is called to account,pays the fines. There are some people out there who morally object to paying taxes, some are kooks and others aren’t, and who is who depends on which side you lean. I am thinking now that is is, possibly, a legitimate form of protest.

  33. …and we scoff(ed) Stalin, Mussolini, Communism, Socialism, Muslim and what not.

    Hurray for this vaunted (STUPID!) American Exceptional-ism !

  34. “Who’s to Blame for Battlefield America? Is It Militarized Police or the Militarized Culture?”

    By John W. Whitehead

    November 11, 2013

    “It felt like I was in a big video game. It didn’t even faze me, shooting back. It was just natural instinct. Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!”— Sgt. Sinque Swales, reflecting on a firefight in Iraq

    https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/whos_to_blame_for_battlefield_america_is_it_militarized_police_or_the_

    Excerpt:

    “Last, but not least, there’s the overall glorification of war and violence that permeates every aspect of American society, from our foreign policy and news programs to our various modes of entertainment, including blockbuster Hollywood action movies and video games. Indeed, thanks to a collaboration between the Department of Defense and the entertainment industry, the American taxpayer is paying for what amounts to a propaganda campaign aimed at entrenching the power of the military in American society. As Nick Turse, author of The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives, points out, “Today, almost everywhere you look, whether at the latest blockbuster on the big screen or what’s on much smaller screens in your own home – likely made by a defense contractor like Sony, Samsung, Panasonic or Toshiba – you’ll find the Pentagon or its corporate partners.”

    Nowhere is this indoctrination more evident than in the recent sci fi/action movie blockbuster hit Ender’s Game, in which a 10-year-old boy, seemingly training for war with battlefield simulations, is in fact waging war against enemy forces. Couple that with the recent release of Battlefield 4, a first-person-shooter video game that allows users to wage war against the enemy using a phalanx of military weaponry and gear, and you have the military’s core strategy for recruiting and training future soldiers, who will in turn eventually become civilian warriors, a.k.a., police officers, in the government’s war on crime.

    Incredibly, the relationship between the military and the video game industry (one aspect of the military-entertainment complex) goes back decades. America’s Army, the first military-developed video game, was released to the public for free in 2002. It has since “become a more effective recruiting tool than all other Army advertising combined.” A main focus of the game’s producers is to get it into the hands of young, impressionable people. As Marsha Berry, executive producer of the third game in the series put it, “We wanted kids to be able to start playing at 13. If they haven’t thought about the Army by the time they get to 17, it’s probably not something they’ll do.”

    Taking recruitment one step further, Col. Casey Wardynski, the creator of America’s Army, now serves as superintendent for an Alabama school district with its own cyberwar curriculum, operated in partnership with the U.S. Army Cyber Command, which provides high school students with a fast-track to the army, complete with full-time mentoring by West Point. Indeed, the military’s targeting of youth, down and out due to financial crisis and dwindling education budgets, has gotten more aggressive, with military personnel establishing curriculums in high schools in order to recruit students straight out of high school and into the army.

    Getting back to the question of who’s to blame for Battlefield America, as we are coming to know it, whether it’s militarized police or a militarized culture, it’s a little like the chicken and the egg debate. Whichever way you look at it, whichever one came first, the end product remains the same. Clearly, the American homeland is now ruled by a military empire. Everything our founding fathers warned against—a standing army that would see American citizens as combatants—is now the new norm. In other words, it looks like the police state is here to stay.”

  35. Credit to John Whitehead, of course, but you’re welcome.

    Thanks for keeping the focus on what we’ve become and where we’re headed, Mike S. I hold out little hope, given some of the things of which I’m aware but, perhaps we can still turn things around. I suspect that John W. is right:

    “…it looks like the police state is here to stay.”

    An interview that seems apt, given my view of the situation in the U.S. right now:

    Holocaust Survivor:’I Despair Of Human Nature, Nobody Has Learned Anything’

    http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/archive/segment/holocaust-survivori-despair-of-human-nature-nobody-has-learned-anything/527d22e778c90a2e730000cb

  36. The Three Dimensions of the Privacy Apocalypse

    By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 11:34am

    https://www.aclu.org/blog/technology-and-liberty-free-speech-national-security/three-dimensions-privacy-apocalypse

    “Right now we are in a situation where, as my colleague Catherine Crump put it, capability is driving policy, but if we do not restrain the capabilities of our technology in order to stay consistent with our values, we may find ourselves living in a country we scarcely recognize.”

  37. Mike, appreciated the post. However, I can’t make sense of “we already imprison a hundred people per capita more than Putin’s Russia” – is that a typo? Or do I just need more coffee?

  38. Tina,

    Drink that coffee slow and follow these two links. We actually incarcerate 131 more people per capita than Putin’s Russia. We have the highest incarceration rate in the world. The first link shows that and the second link breaks down the United States incarceration demographics. It it not a pretty picture.

    http://www.nccdglobal.org/sites/default/files/publication_pdf/factsheet-us-incarceration.pdf

    http://www.prb.org/Publications/Articles/2012/us-incarceration.aspx

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