By John W. Whitehead
“When did the future switch from being a promise to being a threat?” ― Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters
Despite our best efforts, we in the American police state seem to be stuck on repeat, reliving the same set of circumstances over and over and over again: egregious surveillance, strip searches, police shootings of unarmed citizens, government spying, censorship, retaliatory arrests, the criminalization of lawful activities, warmongering, indefinite detentions, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, etc.
Unfortunately, as a nation we’ve become so desensitized to the government’s acts of violence, so accustomed to reports of government corruption, and so anesthetized to the sights and sounds of Corporate America marching in lockstep with the police state that few seem to pay heed to the warning signs blaring out the message: Danger Ahead.
Remember, the Titanic received at least four warnings from other ships about the presence of icebergs in its path, with the last warning issued an hour before disaster struck. All four warnings were ignored.
Like the Titanic, we’re plowing full steam ahead into a future riddled with hidden and not-so-hidden dangers. We too have been given ample warnings, only to have them drowned out by a carefully choreographed cacophony of political noise, cultural distractions and entertainment news—what the Romans termed “bread and circuses”—aimed at keeping the American people polarized, pacified and easily manipulated.
However, there is still danger ahead. The peril to our republic remains the same.
As long as a permanent, unelected bureaucracy—a.k.a. the shadow government— continues to call the shots in the halls of power and the reach of the police state continues to expand, the crisis has not been averted.
Here’s a glimpse of some of the nefarious government programs we’ll be encountering on our journey through the treacherous waters of 2017.
Mandatory quarantines without due process or informed consent: Under a new rule proposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, government agents will be empowered to indefinitely detain any traveler they suspect of posing a medical risk to others without providing an explanation, subject them to medical tests without their consent, and carry out such detentions and quarantines without any kind of due process or judicial review.
Mental health assessments by non-medical personnel: As a result of a nationwide push to train a broad spectrum of so-called gatekeepers such as pastors, teachers, hair stylists, bartenders, police officers and EMTs in mental health first-aid training, more Americans are going to run the risk of being reported by non-medical personnel and detained for having mental health issues.
Tracking chips for citizens: Momentum is building for the government to be able to track citizens, whether through the use of RFID chips embedded in a national ID card or through microscopic chips embedded in one’s skin. In December 2016, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved legislation allowing police to track individuals suffering from some form of mental disability such as Alzheimer’s or autism by way of implanted chips.
Military training to deal with anti-establishment movements in megacities: The future, according to a Pentagon training video, will be militaristic, dystopian and far from friendly to freedom. Indeed, if this government propaganda-piece that is being used to train special forces is to be believed, the only thing that can save the world from outright anarchy—in the eyes of the government, at least—is the military working in conjunction with local police. The video confirms what I’ve been warning about for so long: in the eyes of the U.S. government and its henchmen, the battlefield of the future is the American home front.
Government censorship of anything it classifies as disinformation: This year’s National Defense Authorization Act, which allocates $619 billion for war and military spending, not only allows the military to indefinitely detain American citizens by placing them beyond the reach of the Constitution, but it also directs the State Department to establish a national anti-propaganda center to “counter disinformation and propaganda.” Translation: the government plans to crack down on anyone attempting to exercise their First Amendment rights by exposing government wrongdoing, while persisting in peddling its own brand of fake news.
Threat assessments: Government agents—with the help of automated eyes and ears, a growing arsenal of high-tech software, hardware and techniques, government propaganda urging Americans to turn into spies and snitches, as well as social media and behavior sensing software—are spinning a sticky spider-web of threat assessments, behavioral sensing warnings, flagged “words,” and “suspicious” activity reports aimed at snaring potential enemies of the state. It’s the American police state rolled up into one oppressive pre-crime and pre-thought crime package.
War on cash: The government and its corporate partners are engaged in a concerted campaign to do away with large bills such as $20s, $50s, $100s and shift consumers towards a digital mode of commerce that can easily be monitored, tracked, tabulated, mined for data, hacked, hijacked and confiscated when convenient. As economist Steve Forbes concludes, “The real reason for this war on cash—start with the big bills and then work your way down—is an ugly power grab by Big Government. People will have less privacy: Electronic commerce makes it easier for Big Brother to see what we’re doing, thereby making it simpler to bar activities it doesn’t like, such as purchasing salt, sugar, big bottles of soda and Big Macs.”
Expansive surveillance: Whether you’re walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency, whether the NSA or some other entity, will still be listening in and tracking your behavior. This doesn’t even begin to touch on the corporate trackers who work with the government to monitor your purchases, web browsing, Facebook posts and other activities taking place in the cyber sphere. In such an environment, we are all suspects to be spied on, searched, scanned, frisked, monitored, tracked and treated as if we’re potentially guilty of some wrongdoing or other.
Militarized police: Americans are finding their once-peaceful communities transformed into military outposts, complete with tanks, weaponry, and other equipment designed for the battlefield. Now, the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and the FBI are preparing to turn the nation’s police officers into techno-warriors, complete with iris scanners, body scanners, thermal imaging Doppler radar devices, facial recognition programs, license plate readers, cell phone extraction software, Stingray devices and so much more.
Police shootings of unarmed citizens: Owing in large part to the militarization of local law enforcement agencies, not a week goes by without more reports of hair-raising incidents by police imbued with a take-no-prisoners attitude and a battlefield approach to the communities in which they serve. Indeed, as a special report by The Washington Post reveals, despite heightened awareness of police misconduct, the number of fatal shootings by officers in 2016 remained virtually unchanged from the year before.
False flags and terrorist attacks: Despite the government’s endless propaganda about the threat of terrorism, statistics show that you are 17,600 times more likely to die from heart disease than from a terrorist attack. You are 11,000 times more likely to die from an airplane accident than from a terrorist plot involving an airplane. You are 1,048 times more likely to die from a car accident than a terrorist attack. You are 404 times more likely to die in a fall than from a terrorist attack. And you are 8 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist.
Endless wars to keep America’s military’s empire employed: The military industrial complex that has advocated that the U.S. remain at war, year after year, is the very entity that will continue to profit the most from America’s expanding military empire. The U.S. Department of Defense is the world’s largest employer, with more than 3.2 million employees. Thus far, the U.S. taxpayer has been made to shell out more than $1.6 trillion to wage wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. When you add in military efforts in Pakistan, as well as the lifetime price of health care for disabled veterans and interest on the national debt, that cost rises to $4.4 trillion.
Attempts by the government to identify, target and punish so-called domestic “extremists”: The government’s anti-extremism program will, in many cases, be utilized to render otherwise lawful, nonviolent activities as potentially extremist. To this end, police will identify, monitor and deter individuals who exhibit, express or engage in anything that could be construed as extremist before they can become actual threats. This is pre-crime on an ideological scale.
SWAT team raids: More than 80% of American communities have their own SWAT teams, with more than 80,000 of these paramilitary raids are carried out every year. That translates to more than 200 SWAT team raids every day in which police crash through doors, damage private property, kill citizens, terrorize adults and children alike, kill family pets, assault or shoot anyone that is perceived as threatening—and most often in the pursuit of someone merely suspected of a crime, usually some small amount of drugs.
Erosions of private property: Private property means little at a time when SWAT teams and other government agents can invade your home, break down your doors, kill your dog, wound or kill you, damage your furnishings and terrorize your family. Likewise, if government officials can fine and arrest you for growing vegetables in your front yard, praying with friends in your living room, installing solar panels on your roof, and raising chickens in your backyard, you’re no longer the owner of your property.
Overcriminalization: The government’s tendency towards militarization and overcriminalization, in which routine, everyday behaviors become targets of regulation and prohibition, has resulted in Americans getting arrested for making and selling unpasteurized goat cheese, cultivating certain types of orchids, feeding a whale, holding Bible studies in their homes, and picking their kids up from school.
Strip searches and the denigration of bodily integrity: Court rulings undermining the Fourth Amendment and justifying invasive strip searches have left us powerless against police empowered to forcefully draw our blood, forcibly take our DNA, strip search us, and probe us intimately. Accounts are on the rise of individuals—men and women alike—being subjected to what is essentially government-sanctioned rape by police in the course of “routine” traffic stops.
Drones: As corporations and government agencies alike prepare for their part in the coming drone invasion—it is expected that at least 30,000 drones will occupy U.S. airspace by 2020, ushering in a $30 billion per year industry—it won’t be long before American citizens find themselves to be the target of these devices. Drones—unmanned aerial vehicles—will come in all shapes and sizes, from nano-sized drones as small as a grain of sand that can do everything from conducting surveillance to detonating explosive charges, to middle-sized copter drones that can deliver pizzas to massive “hunter/killer” Predator warships that unleash firepower from on high.
Prisons: America’s prisons, housing the largest number of inmates in the world and still growing, have become money-making enterprises for private corporations that manage the prisons in exchange for the states agreeing to maintain a 90% occupancy rate for at least 20 years. And how do you keep the prisons full? By passing laws aimed at increasing the prison population, including the imposition of life sentences on people who commit minor or nonviolent crimes such as siphoning gasoline.
Censorship: First Amendment activities are being pummeled, punched, kicked, choked, chained and generally gagged all across the country. Free speech zones, bubble zones, trespass zones, anti-bullying legislation, zero tolerance policies, hate crime laws and a host of other legalistic maladies dreamed up by politicians and prosecutors have conspired to corrode our core freedoms. The reasons for such censorship vary widely from political correctness, safety concerns and bullying to national security and hate crimes but the end result remains the same: the complete eradication of what Benjamin Franklin referred to as the “principal pillar of a free government.”
Fascism: As a Princeton University survey indicates, our elected officials, especially those in the nation’s capital, represent the interests of the rich and powerful rather than the average citizen. We are no longer a representative republic. With Big Business and Big Government having fused into a corporate state, the president and his state counterparts—the governors—have become little more than CEOs of the Corporate State, which day by day is assuming more government control over our lives. Never before have average Americans had so little say in the workings of their government and even less access to their so-called representatives.
James Madison, the father of the Constitution, put it best when he warned: “Take alarm at the first experiment with liberties.” Anyone with even a casual knowledge about current events knows that the first experiment on our freedoms happened long ago.
We are fast moving past the point of no return when it comes to restoring our freedoms. Worse, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we can barely see the old America with its revolutionary principles and value for independence in the rear view mirror. The only reality emerging generations will know is the one constructed for them by the powers-that-be, and you can rest assured that it will not be a reality that favors individuality, liberty or anything or anyone who challenges the status quo.
As a senior advisor to George W. Bush observed, “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
In other words, the government has been operating ten steps ahead for quite some time now, and we have yet to catch up, let alone catch our breath as the tides of change swirl around us.
You’d better tighten your seatbelts, folks, because we could be in for a rough ride in 2017.