John Whitehead's Commentary
A Nation of Snitches: DHS Is Grooming Americans to Report on Each Other
“There were relatively few secret police, and most were just processing the information coming in. I had found a shocking fact. It wasn’t the secret police who were doing this wide-scale surveillance and hiding on every street corner. It was the ordinary German people who were informing on their neighbors.”—Professor Robert Gellately, author of Backing Hitler
Are you among the 41% of Americans who regularly attend church or some other religious service?
Do you display an unusual number of political and/or ideological bumper stickers on your car?
Are you among the 44% of Americans who live in a household with a gun? If so, are you concerned that the government may be plotting to confiscate your firearms?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you may be an anti-government extremist (a.k.a. domestic terrorist) in the eyes of the government and flagged for heightened surveillance and preemptive intervention.
Let that sink in a moment.
If you believe in and exercise your rights under the Constitution (namely, your right to speak freely, worship freely, associate with like-minded individuals who share your political views, criticize the government, own a weapon, demand a warrant before being questioned or searched, or any other activity viewed as potentially anti-government, racist, bigoted, anarchic or sovereign), you have just been promoted to the top of the government’s terrorism watch list.
I assure you I’m not making this stuff up.
So what is the government doing about these so-called American “extremists”?
The government is grooming the American people to spy on each other as part of its Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships, or CP3 program.
According to journalist Leo Hohmann, the government is handing out $20 million in grants to police, mental health networks, universities, churches and school districts to enlist their help in identifying Americans who might be political dissidents or potential “extremists.”
As Hohmann explains, “Whether it’s COVID and vaccines, the war in Ukraine, immigration, the Second Amendment, LGBTQ ideology and child-gender confusion, the integrity of our elections, or the issue of protecting life in the womb, you are no longer allowed to hold dissenting opinions and voice them publicly in America. If you do, your own government will take note and consider you a potential ‘violent extremist’ and terrorist.”
Cue the dawning of the Snitch State.
This new era of snitch surveillance is the lovechild of the government’s post-9/11 “See Something, Say Something” programs combined with the self-righteousness of a politically correct, hyper-vigilant, technologically-wired age.
For more than two decades, the Department of Homeland Security has plastered its “See Something, Say Something” campaign on the walls of metro stations, on billboards, on coffee cup sleeves, at the Super Bowl, even on television monitors in the Statue of Liberty. Colleges, universities and even football teams and sporting arenas have lined up for grants to participate in the program.
The government has even designated September 25 as National “If You See Something, Say Something” Awareness Day.
If you see something suspicious, says the DHS, say something about it to the police, call it in to a government hotline, or report it using a convenient app on your smart phone.
This DHS slogan is nothing more than the government’s way of indoctrinating “we the people” into the mindset that we’re an extension of the government and, as such, have a patriotic duty to be suspicious of, spy on, and turn in our fellow citizens.
This is what is commonly referred to as community policing.
Yet while community policing and federal programs such as “See Something, Say Something” are sold to the public as patriotic attempts to be on guard against those who would harm us, they are little more than totalitarian tactics dressed up and repackaged for a more modern audience as well-intentioned appeals to law and order and security.
The police state could not ask for a better citizenry than one that carries out its own policing.
After all, the police can’t be everywhere. So how do you police a nation when your population outnumbers your army of soldiers? How do you carry out surveillance on a nation when there aren’t enough cameras, let alone viewers, to monitor every square inch of the country 24/7? How do you not only track but analyze the transactions, interactions and movements of every person within the United States?
The answer is simpler than it seems: You persuade the citizenry to be your eyes and ears. You hype them up on color-coded “Terror alerts,” keep them in the dark about the distinctions between actual threats and staged “training” drills so that all crises seem real, desensitize them to the sight of militarized police walking their streets, acclimatize them to being surveilled “for their own good,” and then indoctrinate them into thinking that they are the only ones who can save the nation from another 9/11.
Consequently, we now live in a society in which a person can be accused of any number of crimes without knowing what exactly he has done. He might be apprehended in the middle of the night by a roving band of SWAT police. He might find himself on a no-fly list, unable to travel for reasons undisclosed. He might have his phones or internet tapped based upon a secret order handed down by a secret court, with no recourse to discover why he was targeted.
This Kafkaesque nightmare has become America’s reality.
This is how you turn a people into extensions of the omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent police state, and in the process turn a citizenry against each other.
It’s a brilliant ploy, with the added bonus that while the citizenry remains focused on and distrustful of each other and shadowy forces from outside the country, they’re incapable of focusing on more definable threats that fall closer to home—namely, the government and its cabal of Constitution-destroying agencies and corporate partners.
Community policing did not come about as a feel-good, empowering response to individuals trying to “take back” their communities from crime syndicates and drug lords.
Rather, “Community-Oriented Policing” or COPS (short for Community Partnerships, Organizational Transformation, and Problem Solving) is a Department of Justice program designed to foster partnerships between police agencies and members of the community.
To this end, the Justice Department identifies five distinct “partners” in the community policing scheme: law enforcement and other government agencies, community members and groups, nonprofits, churches and service providers, private businesses and the media.
Together, these groups are supposed to “identify” community concerns, “engage” the community in achieving specific goals, serve as “powerful” partners with the government, and add their “considerable resources” to the government’s already massive arsenal of technology and intelligence. The mainstream media’s role, long recognized as being a mouthpiece for the government, is formally recognized as “publicizing” services from government or community agencies or new laws or codes that will be enforced, as well as shaping public perceptions of the police, crime problems, and fear of crime.
Inevitably, this begs the question: if there’s nothing wrong with community engagement, if the police can’t be everywhere at once, if surveillance cameras do little to actually prevent crime, and if we need to “take back our communities” from the crime syndicates and drug lords, then what’s wrong with community policing and “See Something, Say Something”?
What’s wrong is that these programs are not, in fact, making America any safer while turning us into a legalistic, intolerant, squealing, bystander nation.
We are now the unwitting victims of an interconnected, tightly woven, technologically evolving web of real-time, warrantless, wall-to-wall, widening mass surveillance dragnet comprised of fusion centers, red flag laws, behavioral threat assessments, terror watch lists, facial recognition, snitch tip lines, biometric scanners, pre-crime programs, DNA databases, data mining, precognitive technology and contact tracing apps, to name just a few.
This is how the government keeps us under control and in its crosshairs.
By the time you combine the DHS’ “See Something, Say Something” with CP3 and community policing, which has gone global in the guise of the Strong Cities Network program, you’ve got a formula for enabling the government to not only flag distinct “anti-government” segments of the population but locking down the entire nation.
Under the guise of fighting violent extremism “in all of its forms and manifestations” in cities and communities across the world, the Strong Cities Network program works with the UN and the federal government to train local police agencies across America in how to identify, fight and prevent extremism, as well as address intolerance within their communities, using all of the resources at their disposal.
What this program is really all about, however, is community policing on a global scale with the objective being to prevent violent extremism by targeting its source: racism, bigotry, hatred, intolerance, etc. In other words, police will identify, monitor and deter individuals who could be construed as potential extremist “threats,” violent or otherwise, before they can become actual threats.
The government’s war on extremists has been sold to Americans in much the same way that the USA Patriot Act was sold to Americans: as a means of combatting terrorists who seek to destroy America.
However, as we now know, the USA Patriot Act was used as a front to advance the surveillance state, allowing the government to establish a far-reaching domestic spying program that has turned every American citizen into a criminal suspect.
Similarly, the concern with the government’s ongoing anti-extremism program is that it will, in many cases, be utilized to render otherwise lawful, nonviolent activities as potentially extremist.
Keep in mind that the government agencies involved in ferreting out American “extremists” will carry out their objectives—to identify and deter potential extremists—in concert with fusion centers, data collection agencies, behavioral scientists, corporations, social media, and community organizers and by relying on cutting-edge technology for surveillance, facial recognition, predictive policing, biometrics, and behavioral epigenetics (in which life experiences alter one’s genetic makeup).
This is pre-crime on an ideological scale and it’s been a long time coming.
For example, in 2009, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released two reports, one on “Rightwing Extremism,” which broadly defines rightwing extremists as individuals and groups “that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely,” and one on “Leftwing Extremism,” which labeled environmental and animal rights activist groups as extremists.
These reports, which use the words terrorist and extremist interchangeably, indicate that for the government, anyone seen as opposing the government—whether they’re Left, Right or somewhere in between—can be labeled an extremist.
Fast forward a few years, and you have the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which each successive presidential administration has continually re-upped, that allows the military to take you out of your home, lock you up with no access to friends, family or the courts if you’re seen as an extremist.
Now connect the dots, from the 2009 Extremism reports to the NDAA and the far-reaching data crime fusion centers that collect and share surveillance data between local, state and federal police agencies.
Add in tens of thousands of armed, surveillance drones that will soon blanket American skies, facial recognition technology that identifies and tracks you wherever you go and whatever you do. And then to complete the circle, toss in the real-time crime centers which are attempting to “predict” crimes and identify criminals before they happen based on widespread surveillance, complex mathematical algorithms and prognostication programs.
If you can’t read the writing on the wall, you need to pay better attention.
As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, unless we can put the brakes on this dramatic expansion and globalization of the government’s powers, we’re not going to recognize this country five, ten—even twenty—years from now.
As long as “we the people” continue to allow the government to trample our rights in the so-called name of national security, things will get worse, not better.
It’s already worse.