“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” Martin Niemoller
The Constitution is no magical incantation against government wrongdoing. Indeed, it’s only as effective as those who abide by it. Unfortunately without courts willing to uphold the Constitution, and an citizenry unknowledgeable enough to be outraged when it has been undermined, the Constitution provides little to no protection against SWAT team raids, domestic surveillance, police killing unarmed citizens, indefinite detentions and the like.
America no longer operates under a system of justice characterized by due process, an assumption of innocence, probably cause, and clear prohibitions on government overreach and police abuse. Our courts have been transformed into courts of order, advocating for the government’s interests, rather than championing the rights of the citizenry, as enshrined in the Constitution.
The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in U.S. vs. Westhoven that driving too carefully, with a rigid posture, talking a scenic route, and having acne are sufficient reasons for police to suspect you of doing something wrong, detain you, search your car, and arrest you, even if you’ve done nothing illegal to warrant the stop. In the same vein the US Supreme Court ruled in Navaretta vs. California that police can, under the guise of “reasonable suspicion,” stop cars and question drivers based solely on anonymous tips, no matter how dubious. The Supreme Court refused to hear Hedges vs. Obama, a legal challenge to the indefinite detention provision of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, thereby affirming that Obama and the US military can arrest and indefinitely detain individuals, including American citizens, based on a suspicion that they might be associated with or aiding terrorists.
All three of these cases reflect a mindset in which the rule of law, the Constitution, once the map by which we navigated sometimes hostile terrain, has been unceremoniously booted out of the runaway car that is our government, driven over and left for road kill.
The building blocks are already in place: the surveillance networks, fusion centers and government contractors already monitor what is being said and by whom; government data bases track anyone who poses a potential threat to the government’s power; the militarized police working in conjunction with federal agencies ready to round up troublemakers; the court’s sanction of government’s methods, no matter how unlawful; and the detention facilities, whether private prisons or FEMA camps, to lock up troublemakers.
For those who can read the writing on the wall, it’s all starting to make sense: the military drills carried out in major cities, the VIPR inspections at train and bus stations, SWAT team raids on unsuspecting homeowners, Black Hawk helicopters patrolling American skies, numerous federal agencies amassing guns and ammunition and the numerous attacks against our First and Second Amendment rights. Viewed in conjunction with the government’s increased use of involuntary commitment to declare individuals mentally ill and to lock them up in psychiatric wards for extended periods of time, and the NDAA’s provision allowing the military to arrest and indefinitely detain anyone, only codifies this unraveling of our constitutional framework.
Toss in for good measure the profit driven corporate incentive to jail Americans in private prisons as well as the criminalizing of such relatively innocent activities as holding Bible studies in one’s home or sharing unpasteurized milk with members of one’s community, and it becomes clear that “we the people” have become enemies of the state.
It is no longer a question of whether the government will lock up Americans for First Amendment activity but when. It’s particularly telling that the government’s lawyers, when pressed for an assurance that those exercising their First Amendment right to criticize the government would not be targeted under the NDAA, refused to answer. Anyone seen as opposing the government, whether they’re right or left or somewhere in between, is a target.
Read “Martial Law, Detention Camps and Kangaroo Courts” by John Whitehead at this link. Whitehead is author of A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State