Archive for April, 2015

RICHMOND, Va. — A federal appeals court has refused to reinstate the lawsuit of  decorated Marine Brandon Raub who was seized by a swarm of Secret Service, FBI and local police officials and involuntarily committed for a week because of controversial song lyrics and political views he posted on his Facebook page. The decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Brandon Raub v. Michael Campbell refused to hold the mental health screener liable for Raub’s seizure and commitment and the subsequent deprivation of his rights under the First and Fourth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute will appeal the Raub ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a related matter, Rutherford Institute attorneys are awaiting a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Elonis v. United States in which a Pennsylvania man was charged with making unlawful threats and sentenced to 44 months in jail after he posted allusions to popular song lyrics and comedy routines on his Facebook page.

The Appeals Court’s opinion in Brandon Raub v. Michael Campbell is available at www.rutherford.org.

“Today’s court ruling is part of a recent trend toward granting government officials—be they police officers or health care workers—‘qualified immunity’ in lawsuits over alleged constitutional violations,” stated constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People. “Unfortunately, such rulings prevent American citizens from gaining true justice while incentivizing government officials to violate constitutional rights without fear of repercussion.”

Brandon Raub, a decorated Marine who has served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, uses his Facebook page to post song lyrics and air his political opinions. On Aug.16, 2012, Chesterfield police, Secret Service and FBI agents arrived at Raub’s home, asked to speak with him about his Facebook posts, and without providing any explanation, levying any charges against Raub or reading him his rights, handcuffed Raub and transported him to police headquarters, then to a medical facility, where he was held against his will for psychological evaluation and treatment.

In coming to Raub’s aid, Rutherford Institute attorneys challenged the government’s actions as a violation of Raub’s First and Fourth Amendment rights. On Aug. 23, Circuit Court Judge Allan Sharrett ordered Raub’s immediate release, stating that the government’s case was “so devoid of any factual allegations that it could not be reasonably expected to give rise to a case or controversy.” Rutherford Institute attorneys filed a lawsuit in May 2013, challenging the government’s actions as procedurally improper and legally unjustified. In February 2014, a U.S. District Court judge dismissed the lawsuit, rejecting concerns over government suppression of dissident speech as “far-fetched.” In appealing to the Fourth Circuit, Institute attorneys claimed that the Chesterfield County mental health screener who recommended Raub’s seizure and commitment failed to exercise reasonable professional judgment in interviewing and in wrongly determining that Raub was mentally ill and dangerous, thereby violating Raub’s rights under the Fourth Amendment. The lawsuit also asserted that Raub’s seizure and detention were the result of a mental health screener’s dislike of Raub’s “unpatriotic” views on federal government misconduct, thereby violating the ex-Marine’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

Attorneys William H. Hurd and Stephen C. Piepgrass of Troutman Sanders and Anthony Troy and Charles A. Zdebski of Eckert Seamens Cherin & Mellott are assisting The Rutherford Institute by representing Brandon Raub.

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CASE HISTORY

April 29, 2015 • Federal Appeals Court Refuses to Reinstate Lawsuit Over Marine’s Arrest, Detention Due to Facebook Posts; Attorneys Plan to Appeal to Supreme Court

January 27, 2015 • Warning Against a Government Campaign to Clamp Down on 1st Amendment Activity in Social Media, Rutherford Institute Defends Marine’s Rights

October 10, 2014 • Warning Against a Government Campaign to Clamp Down on First Amendment Activity in Social Media, Rutherford Institute Asks Court to Affirm Marine’s Free Speech Rights

August 26, 2014 • Citing First & Fourth Amendments, Rutherford Institute Asks Appeals Court to Reinstate Lawsuit Over Marine’s Arrest, Detention Due to Facebook Posts

March 27, 2014 • Rutherford Institute Asks Appeals Court to Reject Lower Court Dismissal & Reinstate Lawsuit Over Marine’s Arrest, Detention Due to Facebook Posts

March 03, 2014 • Rejecting Concerns Over Gov’t Suppression of Dissident Speech as ‘Far-Fetched’, Fed. Court Dismisses Suit Over Marine’s Arrest, Detention Due to Facebook Posts

August 03, 2013 • VICTORY: Federal Court Affirms 1st & 4th Amdt. Rights, Denies Gov’t Attempt to Dismiss Lawsuit Over Marine’s Wrongful Arrest, Detention Due to Facebook Posts

July 17, 2013 • Rutherford Institute Counters Government Attempt to Dismiss Lawsuit Over Wrongful Arrest, Psych Ward Detention of Marine Because of Facebook Posts

May 22, 2013 • Rutherford Institute Attorneys File Civil Rights Lawsuit Over Wrongful Arrest, Detention in Psych Ward of Marine Brandon Raub Because of Facebook Posts

August 29, 2012 • Rutherford Institute Attorneys to File Civil Lawsuit Over Wrongful Arrest, Detention in Psych Ward of Marine Brandon Raub Because of Facebook Posts

August 28, 2012 • TRI Exclusive: Marine Brandon Raub Issues First Public Comments Since Being Arrested, Detained in Psych Ward Over Views, Lyrics Posted on Facebook

August 23, 2012 • VICTORY: Circuit Court Orders Brandon Raub Released, Dismisses Case Against Marine Arrested, Detained in Veterans Admin. Psych Ward over Political Views, Song Lyrics Posted on Facebook

August 22, 2012 • Rutherford Institute Files Notice of Appeal Challenging Arrest & Detention of Marine in Psych Ward for Posting Political Views, Song Lyrics to Facebook

August 21, 2012 • District Court Refuses to Stop Transfer of Marine Brandon Raub to Salem Psych Ward, 3 Hrs. Away, for Posting Political Views, Song Lyrics to Facebook

August 20, 2012 • Rutherford Institute Defends Marine Arrested, Incarcerated in Psych Ward & Detained Indefinitely for Posting Political Views, Song Lyrics to Facebook

LEGAL ACTION

Click here to read the Appeals Court’s opinion in Brandon Raub v. Michael Campbell

Click here to read The Rutherford Institute’s reply brief in Brandon Raub v. Michael Campbell

Click here to read The Rutherford Institute’s brief in Brandon Raub v. Michael Campbell

Click here to read Judge Hudson’s decision in Raub v. Bowen et. al.

Click here to read The Rutherford Institute’s complaint in Raub v. Bowen et. al.

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In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.—President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961

 

A standing army—something that propelled the early colonists into revolution—strips the American people of any vestige of freedom. How can there be any semblance of freedom when there are tanks in the streets, military encampments in cities, Blackhawk helicopters and armed drones patrolling overhead?

It was for this reason that those who established America vested control of the military in a civilian government, with a civilian commander-in-chief. They did not want a military government, ruled by force. Rather, they opted for a republic bound by the rule of law: the U.S. Constitution.

Unfortunately, with the Constitution under constant attack, the military’s power, influence and authority have grown dramatically. Even the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which makes it a crime for the government to use the military to carry out arrests, searches, seizure of evidence and other activities normally handled by a civilian police force, has been weakened by both Barack Obama and George W. Bush, who ushered in exemptions allowing troops to deploy domestically and arrest civilians in the wake of alleged terrorist acts.

Now we find ourselves struggling to retain some semblance of freedom in the face of police and law enforcement agencies that look and act like the military and have just as little regard for the Fourth Amendment, laws such as the NDAA that allow the military to arrest and indefinitely detain American citizens, and military drills that acclimate the American people to the sight of armored tanks in the streets, military encampments in cities, and combat aircraft patrolling overhead.

Making matters worse, we find out that the military plans to use southwestern states as staging grounds for guerilla warfare drills in which highly-trained military troops equipped with all manner of weapons turn American towns and cities in quasi-battlefields. Why? As they tell us, it’s so that special operations forces can get “realistic military training” in “hostile” territory.

They’ve even got a name for the exercise: Jade Helm 15.

Whether or not Americans have anything to fear from Jade Helm 15, a covert, multi-agency, multi-state, eight-week military training exercise set to take place this summer from July 15 through Sept. 15, remains to be seen.

Insisting that there’s nothing to be alarmed about, the Washington Post took great pains to point out that these military exercises on American soil are nothing new. For instance, there was Operation Bold Alligator, in which in which thousands of Marines and sailors carried out amphibious exercises against “insurgent” forces in Georgia and Florida. Operation Robin Sage had Green Beret soldiers engaging in guerrilla warfare in North Carolina. And Operation Derna Bridge sends Marine special forces into parts of South Carolina and the National Forest.

Yet if Americans are uneasy about this summer’s planned Jade Helm 15 military exercises, they have every right to be.

After all, haven’t we been urged time and time again to just “trust” the government to respect our rights and abide by the rule of law only to find that, in fact, our rights were being plundered and the Constitution disregarded at every turn?

Let’s assume, for the moment, that Jade Helm 15 is not a thinly veiled military plot to take over the country lifted straight out of director John Frankenheimer’s 1964 political thriller Seven Days in May, as some fear, but is merely a “routine” exercise for troops, albeit a blatantly intimidating flexing of the military’s muscles.

The problem arises when you start to add Jade Helm onto the list of other troubling developments that have taken place over the past 30 years or more: the expansion of the military industrial complex and its influence in Washington DC, the rampant surveillance, the corporate-funded elections and revolving door between lobbyists and elected officials, the militarized police, the loss of our freedoms, the injustice of the courts, the privatized prisons, the school lockdowns, the roadside strip searches, the military drills on domestic soil, the fusion centers and the simultaneous fusing of every branch of law enforcement (federal, state and local), the stockpiling of ammunition by various government agencies, the active shooter drills that are indistinguishable from actual crises, the economy flirting with near collapse, etc.

Suddenly, the overall picture seems that much more sinister. Clearly, as I point out in my new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, there’s a larger agenda at work here.

Battlefield_Cover_300Seven years ago, the U.S. Army War College issued a report calling on the military to be prepared should they need to put down civil unrest within the country. Summarizing the report, investigative journalist Chris Hedges declared, “The military must be prepared, the document warned, for a ‘violent, strategic dislocation inside the United States,’ which could be provoked by ‘unforeseen economic collapse,’ ‘purposeful domestic resistance,’ ‘pervasive public health emergencies’ or ‘loss of functioning political and legal order.’ The ‘widespread civil violence,’ the document said, ‘would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security.’”

At what point will all of the government’s carefully drawn plans for dealing with civil unrest, “homegrown” terrorism and targeting pre-crime become a unified blueprint for locking down the nation?

For instance, what’s the rationale behind turning government agencies into military outposts? There has been a notable buildup in recent years of SWAT teams within non-security-related federal agencies such as Department of Agriculture, the Railroad Retirement Board, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Office of Personnel Management, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Education Department. As of 2008, “73 federal law enforcement agencies… [employ] approximately 120,000 armed full-time on-duty officers with arrest authority.” Four-fifths of those officers are under the command of either the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or the Department of Justice.

What’s with all of the government agencies stockpiling hollow point bullets? For example, why does the Department of Agriculture need .40 caliber semiautomatic submachine guns and 320,000 rounds of hollow point bullets? For that matter, why do its agents need ballistic vests and body armor?

Why does the Postal Service need “assorted small arms ammunition”? Why did the DHS purchase “1.6 billion rounds of hollow-point ammunition, along with 7,000 fully-automatic 5.56x45mm NATO ‘personal defense weapons’ plus a huge stash of 30-round high-capacity magazines”? That’s in addition to the FBI’s request for 100 million hollow-point rounds. The Department of Education, IRS, the Social Security Administration, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees the National Weather Service, are also among the federal agencies which have taken to purchasing ammunition and weaponry in bulk.

Why is the federal government distributing obscene amounts of military equipment, weapons and ammunition to police departments around the country? And why is DHS acquiring more than 2,500 Mine-Resistant Armored Protection (MRAP) vehicles, only to pass them around to local police departments across the country? According to the New York Times:

[A]s President Obama ushers in the end of what he called America’s “long season of war,” the former tools of combat — M-16 rifles, grenade launchers, silencers and more — are ending up in local police departments, often with little public notice. During the Obama administration, according to Pentagon data, police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft. The equipment has been added to the armories of police departments that already look and act like military units.

Why is the military partnering with local police to conduct training drills around the country? And what exactly are they training for? In Richland, South Carolina, for instance, U.S. army special forces participated in joint and secretive exercises and training with local deputies. The public was disallowed from obtaining any information about the purpose of the drills, other than being told that they might be loud and to not be alarmed. The Army and DHS also carried out similar drills and maneuvers involving Black Hawk helicopters in Texas, Florida, and other locations throughout the U.S., ostensibly in order to provide local police with “realistic” urban training.

What is being done to protect the American populace from the threat of military arms and forces, including unarmed drones, being used against them? Policy analysts point to Directive No. 3025.18, “Defense Support of Civil Authorities” (issued on Dec. 29, 2010), as justification for the government’s use of military force to put down civil unrest within the United States.

Why is FEMA stockpiling massive quantities of emergency supplies? On January 10, 2014, FEMA made a statement enlisting the service of contractors who could “supply medical biohazard disposal capabilities and 40 yard dumpsters to 1,000 tent hospitals across the United States; all required on 24-48 hour notice.” This coincides with other medical requests seeking massive amounts of supplies, such as “31,000,000 flu vaccinations,” “100,000 each of winter shirts and pants and the same for summer” and other goods and services requests as well like tarps, manufactured housing units, and beverages. And why does the TSA need $21,000 worth of potassium chlorate, a chemical compound often used in explosives?

Why is the Pentagon continuing to purchase mass amounts of ammunition while at the same time preparing to destroy more than $1 billion worth of bullets and missiles that are still viable?

Moreover, what is really being done to hold the Pentagon accountable for its doctored ledgers, fraud, waste and mismanagement, which has cost the taxpayer trillions of dollars? According to Reuters, “The Pentagon is the only federal agency that has not complied with a law that requires annual audits of all government departments. That means that the $8.5 trillion in taxpayer money doled out by Congress to the Pentagon since 1996, the first year it was supposed to be audited, has never been accounted for. That sum exceeds the value of China’s economic output.”

Given the similarities between the government’s Live Active Shooter Drill training exercises, carried out at schools, in shopping malls, and on public transit, which can and do fool law enforcement officials, students, teachers and bystanders into thinking it’s a real crisis, how much of what is being passed off as real is, in fact, being staged by DHS for the “benefit” of training law enforcement, leaving us none the wiser? These training exercises come complete with their own set of professionally trained Crisis Actors playing the parts of shooters, bystanders and victims in order to help schools and first responders create realistic drills, full-scale exercises, high-fidelity simulations, and interactive 3D films.

Given that Americans are 110 times more likely to die of foodborne illness than in a terrorist attack, why is the government spending trillions of dollars on “national security”? How exactly is the $75 billion given to various intelligence agencies annually to keep us “safe” being spent? And why is the DHS giving away millions of dollars’ worth of federal security grants to states that federal intelligence agencies ruled have “no specific foreign or domestic terrorism threat”?

Why is the government amassing names and information on Americans considered to be threats to the nation, and what criteria is the government using for this database? Keep in mind that this personal information is being acquired and kept without warrant or court order. It’s been suggested that in the event of nuclear war, the destruction of the U.S. Government, and the declaration of martial law, this Main Core database, which as of 2008 contained some 8 million names of Americans, would be used by military officials to locate and round up Americans seen as threats to national security, a program to be carried about by the Army and FEMA.

Taken individually, these questions are alarming enough. But put them together and they add up to the kind of trouble that the American founding fathers not only warned against but from which they fought to free themselves.

Indeed, when viewed collectively, they leave one wondering what exactly the U.S. government is preparing for and whether American citizens shouldn’t be preparing, as well, for that eventuality when our so-called “government of the people, by the people, for the people” is no longer answerable to “we the people.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. —Rejecting the idea that some violations of the Constitution are insignificant, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that police may not extend the time needed to conduct an ordinary traffic stop in order to subject the vehicle and its occupants to an examination by a drug-detecting dog unless they have specific reasons to suspect the car is carrying contraband. In its 6-3 ruling in Rodriguez v. United States, the Court held that a police officer violated the Fourth Amendment rights of motorist Dennys Rodriguez and his passenger when, after giving Rodriguez a written warning for a minor driving infraction, he continued to make them wait while a drug-sniffing dog patrolled the exterior of the vehicle.

“While this ruling is certainly a step in the right direction, as long as the courts continue to bend the Constitution to favor the police, there is little to celebrate. After all, the police are still empowered to stop cars based on anonymous tips, carry out warrantless searches of cars using drug-sniffing dogs, and subject Americans to virtual strip searches, no matter the offense,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author ofBattlefield America: The War on the American People. “Whether it’s police officers breaking through people’s front doors and shooting them dead in their homes or strip searching innocent motorists on the side of the road, these instances of abuse are continually validated by a judicial system that kowtows to virtually every police demand, no matter how unjust, no matter how in opposition to the Constitution.”

Battlefield_Cover_300In March 2012, police officer Morgan Struble was on early-morning patrol in Nebraska when he observed a vehicle momentarily veer onto the shoulder of the highway. Struble, who is a K-9 officer and had his dog with him at the time, pulled the vehicle over and upon approaching it determined that the driver was Dennys Rodriguez and that there was a passenger in the front seat. After Rodriguez explained that he had swerved in order to avoid a pothole, Struble obtained Rodriguez’s license, registration and proof of insurance and ran a check to determine if all the paperwork was valid and whether there were any outstanding arrest warrants for Rodriguez. After the officer determined that everything was in order and that neither Rodriguez nor the passenger were wanted, he wrote up a warning ticket for Rodriguez for violating a state law prohibiting driving on highway shoulders. Upon returning to the vehicle and giving Rodriguez back the papers, Struble asked Rodriguez for permission to allow his dog to walk around the vehicle. Rodriguez refused to give permission. Struble then ordered Rodriguez to turn the car off and exit the vehicle. Rodriguez complied and Struble led the dog around the vehicle. Although the dog did nothing during the first pass, on the second pass the dog alerted. Based on this alert, Struble and another officer searched the vehicle and found methamphetamine. This evidence was the basis for a federal indictment against Rodriguez.

Before his trial, Rodriguez moved to suppress evidence of the methamphetamine, arguing that the officer violated the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures by holding him after all matters related to the driving infraction had been completed. However, Rodriguez’s argument was rejected by the trial court, which ruled that the additional seizure of Rodriguez for the seven to eight minutes the dog sniff took was a “de minimis intrusion on Rodriguez’s Fourth Amendment rights” and was not a sufficient basis to order suppression. The court of appeals affirmed the ruling on Rodriguez’s appeal, but the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the case. In reversing the lower courts’ decisions, the Supreme Court adhered to prior cases holding that a traffic stop can become unlawful in prolonged beyond the time required to meet the mission of issuing a ticket.

“A government which will turn its tanks upon its people, for any reason, is a government with a taste of blood and a thirst for power and must either be smartly rebuked, or blindly obeyed in deadly fear.”—John Salter

We have entered into a particularly dismal chapter in the American narrative, one that shifts us from a swashbuckling tale of adventure into a bone-chilling horror story.

As I document in my new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, “we the people” have now come full circle, from being held captive by the British police state to being held captive by the American police state. In between, we have charted a course from revolutionaries fighting for our independence and a free people establishing a new nation to pioneers and explorers, braving the wilderness and expanding into new territories.

Where we went wrong, however, was in allowing ourselves to become enthralled with and then held hostage by a military empire in bondage to a corporate state (the very definition of fascism). No longer would America hold the moral high ground as a champion of freedom and human rights. Instead, in the pursuit of profit, our overlords succumbed to greed, took pleasure in inflicting pain, exported torture, and imported the machinery of war, transforming the American landscape into a battlefield, complete with military personnel, tactics and weaponry.

To our dismay, we now find ourselves scrambling for a foothold as our once rock-solid constitutional foundation crumbles beneath us. And no longer can we rely on the president, Congress, the courts, or the police to protect us from wrongdoing.

Indeed, they have come to embody all that is wrong with America.

For instance, how does a man who is relatively healthy when taken into custody by police lapse into a coma and die while under their supervision? What kind of twisted logic allows a police officer to use a police car to run down an American citizen and justifies it in the name of permissible deadly force? And what country are we living in where the police can beat, shoot, choke, taser and tackle American citizens, all with the protection of the courts?

Certainly, the Constitution’s safeguards against police abuse means nothing when government agents can crash through your door, terrorize your children, shoot your dogs, and jail you on any number of trumped of charges, and you have little say in the matter. For instance, San Diego police, responding to a domestic disturbance call on a Sunday morning, showed up at the wrong address, only to shoot the homeowner’s 6-year-old service dog in the head.

Rubbing salt in the wound, it’s often the unlucky victim of excessive police force who ends up being charged with wrongdoing. Although 16-year-old Thai Gurule was charged with resisting arrest and strangling and assaulting police officers, a circuit judge found that it was actually the three officers who unlawfully stopped, tackled, punched, kneed, tasered and yanked his hair who were at fault. Thankfully, bystander cell phone videos undermined police accounts, which were described as “works of fiction.”

Not even our children are being spared the blowback from a growing police presence. As one juvenile court judge noted in testimony to Congress, although having police on public school campuses did not make the schools any safer, it did result in large numbers of students being arrested for misdemeanors such as school fights and disorderly conduct. One 11-year-old autistic Virginia student was charged with disorderly conduct and felony assault after kicking a trashcan and resisting a police officer’s attempt to handcuff him. A 14-year-old student was tasered by police, suspended and charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and trespassing after he failed to obey a teacher’s order to be the last student to exit the classroom.

There is no end to the government’s unmitigated gall in riding roughshod over the rights of the citizenry, whether in matters of excessive police powers, militarized police, domestic training drills, SWAT team raids, surveillance, property rights, overcriminalization, roadside strip searches, profit-driven fines and prison sentences, etc.

The president can now direct the military to detain, arrest and secretly execute American citizens. These are the powers of an imperial dictator, not an elected official bound by the rule of law. For the time being, Barack Obama wears the executioner’s robe, but you can rest assured that this mantle will be worn by whomever occupies the Oval Office in the future.

A representative government means nothing when the average citizen has little to no access to their elected officials, while corporate lobbyists enjoy a revolving door relationship with everyone from the President on down. Indeed, while members of Congress hardly work for the taxpayer, they work hard at being wooed by corporations, which spend more to lobby our elected representatives than we spend on their collective salaries. For that matter, getting elected is no longer the high point it used to be. As one congressman noted, for many elected officials, “Congress is no longer a destination but a journey… [to a] more lucrative job as a K Street lobbyist… It’s become routine to see members of Congress drop their seat in Congress like a hot rock when a particularly lush vacancy opens up.”

As for the courts, they have long since ceased being courts of justice. Instead, they have become courts of order, largely marching in lockstep with the government’s dictates, all the while helping to increase the largesse of government coffers. It’s called for-profit justice, and it runs the gamut of all manner of financial incentives in which the courts become cash cows for communities looking to make an extra buck. As journalist Chris Albin-Lackey details, “They deploy a crushing array of fines, court costs, and other fees to harvest revenues from minor offenders that these communities cannot or do not want to raise through taxation.” In this way, says Albin-Lackey, “A resident of Montgomery, Alabama who commits a simple noise violation faces only a $20 fine—but also a whopping $257 in court costs and user fees should they seek to have their day in court.”

As for the rest—the schools, the churches, private businesses, service providers, nonprofits and your fellow citizens—many are also marching in lockstep with the police state. This is what is commonly referred to as community 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.

It’s a brilliant ploy, with the added bonus that while the citizenry remains focused on and distrustful of each other, they’re incapable of focusing on more definable threats that fall closer to home—namely, the government and its militarized police. In this way, we’re seeing a rise in the incidence of Americans being reported for growing vegetables in their front yard, keeping chickens in their back yard, letting their kids walk to the playground alone, and voicing anti-government sentiments. For example, after Shona Banda’s son defended the use of medical marijuana during a presentation at school, school officials alerted the police and social services, and the 11-year-old was interrogated, taken into custody by social workers, had his home raided by police and his mother arrested.

Now it may be that we have nothing to worry about. Perhaps the government really does have our best interests at heart. Perhaps covert domestic military training drills such as Jade Helm really are just benign exercises to make sure our military is prepared for any contingency. As the Washington Post describes the operation:

The mission is vast both geographically and strategically: Elite service members from all four branches of the U.S. military will launch an operation this summer in which they will operate covertly among the U.S. public and travel from state to state in military aircraft. Texas, Utah and a section of southern California are labeled as hostile territory, and New Mexico isn’t much friendlier.

Now I don’t believe in worrying over nothing, but it’s safe to say that the government has not exactly shown itself to be friendly in recent years, nor have its agents shown themselves to be cognizant of the fact that they are civilians who answer to the citizenry, rather than the other way around.

Whether or not the government plans to impose some form of martial law in the future remains to be seen, but there can be no denying that we’re being accustomed to life in a military state. The malls may be open for business, the baseball stadiums may be packed, and the news anchors may be twittering nonsense about the latest celebrity foofa, but those are just distractions from what is really taking place: the transformation of America into a war zone.

Trust me, if it looks like a battlefield (armored tanks on the streets, militarized police in metro stations, surveillance cameras everywhere), sounds like a battlefield (SWAT team raids nightly, sound cannons to break up large assemblies of citizens), and acts like a battlefield (police shooting first and asking questions later, intimidation tactics, and involuntary detentions), it’s a battlefield.

Indeed, what happened in Ocala, Florida, is a good metaphor for what’s happening across the country: Sheriff’s deputies, dressed in special ops uniforms and riding in an armored tank on a public road, pulled a 23-year-old man over and issued a warning violation to him after he gave them the finger. The man, Lucas Jewell, defended his actions as a free speech expression of his distaste for militarized police.

Translation: “We the people” are being hijacked on the highway by government agents with little knowledge of or regard for the Constitution, who are hyped up on the power of their badge, outfitted for war, eager for combat, and taking a joy ride—on taxpayer time and money—in a military tank that has no business being on American soil.

Rest assured, unless we slam on the brakes, this runaway tank will soon be charting a new course through terrain that bears no resemblance to land of our forefathers, where freedom meant more than just the freedom to exist and consume what the corporate powers dish out.

Rod Serling, one of my longtime heroes and the creator of The Twilight Zone, understood all too well the danger of turning a blind eye to evil in our midst, the “things that scream for a response.” As Serling warned, “if we don’t listen to that scream – and if we don’t respond to it – we may well wind up sitting amidst our own rubble, looking for the truck that hit us – or the bomb that pulverized us. Get the license number of whatever it was that destroyed the dream. And I think we will find that the vehicle was registered in our own name.”

If you haven’t managed to read the writing on the wall yet, the war has begun.

Battlefield_Cover_300In Battlefield America: The War on the American People, (the follow-up to his award-winning book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State), constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead paints a terrifying portrait of a nation at war with itself and which is on the verge of undermining the basic freedoms guaranteed to the citizenry in the Constitution. Making the case that the government’s policies are dictated more by paranoia, power and control than need, Whitehead warns that it doesn’t really matter whether it’s a Democrat or a Republican at the helm, because the bureaucratic mindset on both sides of the aisle now seems to embody the same philosophy that has become the driving force behind the American police state.

“The outlook for civil liberties grows bleaker by the day, from the government’s embrace of indefinite detention for US citizens and armed surveillance drones flying overhead to warrantless surveillance of phone, email and Internet communications, and prosecutions of government whistle-blowers,” writes Whitehead. “The homeland is ruled by a police-industrial complex, an extension of the American military empire. Everything that our founding fathers warned against is now the new norm. The government has trained its sights on the American people. We have become the enemy.”

The shocking abuses of power revealed in Battlefield America have rendered Americans:

  • Helpless in the face of militarized police (SWAT team raids, police shootings, roadside strip searches, asset forfeiture, 1033 programs) and routine invasions of privacy
  • Vulnerable to government surveillance (Stingray devices, fusion centers, USA Patriot Act)
  • Defenseless against absurd laws that have them arrested for letting their kids play at a park unsupervised, collecting rainwater and snow runoff on their own property, and growing vegetables in their yard (overcriminalization, National Defense Authorization Act, private prisons)

No matter how dire the outlook appears, Whitehead insists that all is not lost. The freedoms which Americans often take for granted were hard won through the sheer determination, suffering and sacrifice of thousands of patriotic Americans who not only believed in the cause of liberty but also acted on that belief. American colonists suffered under Great Britain’s version of an early police state, with armed soldiers crashing through doors to arrest and imprison citizens merely for criticizing government officials. They too were watched all the time, and were stopped and frisked if they appeared even a little bit suspicious. It was only when the colonists finally got fed up with being silenced, censored, searched, frisked, threatened, and arrested that they finally revolted against the tyrant’s fetters.

Battlefield America is drawing praise on all fronts from presidential contender Ron Paul (who also wrote the introduction), Judge Andrew Napolitano, former ACLU president Nadine Strossen and syndicated columnists Paul Craig Roberts, Lew Rockwell and Nat Hentoff.

  • Just like acknowledging the nature of the problem is the first step in an individual’s recovery from alcoholism, acknowledging the fascist nature of modern America is a necessary step toward restoring American liberty. Battlefield America does not turn away from naming the true nature of the American regime. Mr. Whitehead draws comparisons not just from history but from dystopian fiction to illustrate how America has lost its way. The very fact that books like this can still be written and published shows that we have not lost all our freedoms. John Whitehead’s work should motivate us all to redouble our efforts to reclaim our freedoms.—Dr. Ron Paul, 12-term U.S. Congressman and former presidential candidate
  • The loss of personal liberty, the growth of big government, and the death of government respect for persons rarely occur overnight. It takes a fine eye and a fearless manner to discover and reveal these dangers before it is too late. No one in American today does this better than John Whitehead. In his latest magnum opus, “Battlefield America: The War on the American People”, he paints the case that Fascism is already here, liberty is already lost, we are in more danger from the government than from bomb throwers, and it is nearly too late for hope. I challenge anyone to read this book and then try to go to sleep. I found that impossible.”—Hon. Andrew P. Napolitano, Senior Judicial Analyst, Fox News Channel, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School
  • Government surveillance, militarized police, sneak-and-peek searches, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture schemes, overcriminalization, private prisons: these are all pressing concerns that transcend partisan politics and render the citizenry not merely suspects but criminals. Unfortunately, too many Americans have embraced the government’s call to give up some freedom in return for greater safety, only to find that in doing so, they have lost freedom without gaining safety. Constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead makes a compelling and urgent case in Battlefield America for Americans to unite under one common goal: in defense of our freedoms. The danger is clear: if the government has the power to violate one right for one person, then no right is safe for anyone. —Nadine Strossen, former president of the ACLU and constitutional law professor at New York Law School
  • Once again, John W. Whitehead shows himself to be a thorough reporter, an insightful scholar and a tireless defender of the Constitution. Battlefield Americais the most penetrating, eye-opening proof to date of the imperialist government’s desecration of our constitutional personal liberties. Battlefield America is not only a warning of the danger ahead but also a detailed, systematic illustration of how a once freedom-loving nation can descend into tyranny. A must-read for anyone concerned about how to get us back on the road to becoming a self-governing republic. Citizens, journalists, activists, government officials—any and all Americans who have so little inkling about what it really means to be an American and actively safeguard our freedoms against all dangers, foreign and domestic—should take the time to become acquainted with this book. Students and teachers, especially, should make it a priority to debate and discuss this book in their classrooms.—Nat Hentoff, syndicated columnists and historian
  • In his compelling book, Battlefield America, John W. Whitehead describes the danger posed to liberty and humanity itself by the control impulse of government and technology.  American “Democratic Capitalism” is not liberating us; it is enslaving humanity.—Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary, US Treasury, and former Wall Street Journal columnist and editor
  • “John Whitehead is freedom’s defense lawyer. He’ll never give up, and neither must we. To join John in this fight, first read his manifesto: Battlefield America. You are much needed.”—Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., author and chairman of Mises Institute

Constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead is the president of The Rutherford Institute.

“What the government is good at is collecting taxes, taking away your freedoms and killing people. It’s not good at much else.”—Author Tom Clancy

The American people remain eager to be persuaded that a new president in the White House can solve the problems that plague us. Yet no matter who wins this next presidential election, you can rest assured that the new boss will be the same as the old boss, and we—the permanent underclass in America—will continue to be forced to march in lockstep with the police state in all matters, public and private.

Indeed, as I point out in my new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, it really doesn’t matter what you call them—the 1%, the elite, the controllers, the masterminds, the shadow government, the police state, the surveillance state, the military industrial complex—so long as you understand that no matter which party occupies the White House in 2017, the unelected bureaucracy that actually calls the shots will continue to do so.

Consider the following a much-needed reality check, an antidote if you will, against an overdose of overhyped campaign announcements, lofty electoral promises and meaningless patriotic sentiments that land us right back in the same prison cell.

FACT: For the first time in history, Congress is dominated by a majority of millionaires who are, on average, fourteen times wealthier than the average American. According to a scientific study by Princeton researchers, the United States of America is not the democracy that it purports to be, but rather an oligarchy, in which “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy.”

FACT: “Today, 17,000 local police forces are equipped with such military equipment as Blackhawk helicopters, machine guns, grenade launchers, battering rams, explosives, chemical sprays, body armor, night vision, rappelling gear and armored vehicles,” reports Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury. “Some have tanks.”Battlefield_Cover_300

FACT: Thanks to an overabundance of 4,500-plus federal crimes and 400,000-plus rules and regulations, it is estimated that the average American actually commits three felonies a day without knowing it. In fact, according to law professor John Baker, “There is no one in the United States over the age of 18 who cannot be indicted for some federal crime. That is not an exaggeration.”

FACT: The number of violent crimes in the country is down substantially, the lowest rate in forty years, while the number of Americans being jailed for nonviolent crimes such as driving with a suspended license is skyrocketing.

FACT: Despite the fact that women only make up 8 percent of the prison population, they are more likely to be strip searched, though not more likely to carry contraband.

FACT: Despite the fact that we have 46 million Americans living at or below the poverty line, 16 million children living in households without adequate access to food, and at least 900,000 veterans relying on food stamps, enormous sums continue to be doled out for presidential vacations ($16 million for trips to Africa and Hawaii), overtime fraud at the Department of Homeland Security (nearly $9 million in improper overtime claims, and that’s just in six of the DHS’ many offices), and Hollywood movie productions ($10 million was spent by the Army National Guard on Superman movie tie-ins aimed at increasing awareness about the National Guard).

FACT: Since 2001 Americans have spent $10.5 million every hour for numerous foreign military occupations, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. There’s also the $2.2 million spent every hour on maintaining the United States’ nuclear stockpile, and the $35,000 spent every hour to produce and maintain our collection of Tomahawk missiles. And then there’s the money the government exports to other countries to support their arsenals, at the cost of $1.61 million every hour for the American taxpayers.

FACT: It is estimated that 2.7 million children in the United States have at least one parent in prison, whether it be a local jail or a state or federal penitentiary, due to a wide range of factors ranging from overcriminalization and surprise raids at family homes to roadside traffic stops.

FACT: At least 400 to 500 innocent people are killed by police officers every year. Indeed, Americans are now eight times more likely to die in a police confrontation than they are to be killed by a terrorist. Americans are 110 times more likely to die of foodborne illness than in a terrorist attack.

FACT: Police officers are more likely to be struck by lightning than be made financially liable for their wrongdoing.

FACT: On an average day in America, over 100 Americans have their homes raided by SWAT teams.There has been a notable buildup in recent years of SWAT teams within non-security-related federal agencies such as the Department of Agriculture, the Railroad Retirement Board, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Office of Personnel Management, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Education Department.

FACT: The FBI’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) facial recognition system, which is set to hold data on millions of Americans, will include a variety of biometric data, including palm prints, iris scans, and face recognition data. The FBI hopes to have 52 million images by 2015. NGI will be capable of uploading 55,000 images a day, and conducting tens of thousands of photo searches a day.

FACT: Comprising an $82 billion industry, at least 30,000 drones are expected to occupy U.S. airspace by 2020.

FACT: Devices are now being developed that would allow police to stop a car remotely, ostensibly to end police chases.

FACT: Everything we do will eventually be connected to the Internet. By 2030 it is estimated there will be 100 trillion sensor devices connecting human electronic devices (cell phones, laptops, etc.) to the Internet. Much, if not all, of our electronic devices will be connected to Google, which openly works with government intelligence agencies.

FACT: In 2015 mega-food corporations will begin rolling out high-tech shelving outfitted with cameras in order to track the shopping behavior of customers, as well as information like the age and sex of shoppers.

FACT: If knowledge is power, it’s no wonder Americans are in hot water. According to a study by the National Constitution Center, 41 percent of Americans “are not aware that there are three branches of government, and 62 percent couldn’t name them; 33 percent couldn’t even name one.”

FACT: The United States is one of the highest TV viewing nations. According to a Nielsen report, the average American over the age of two “spends more than thirty-four hours a week watching live television . . . plus another three to six hours watching taped programs.”

FACT: Only six out of every one hundred Americans know that they actually have a constitutional right to hold the government accountable for wrongdoing, as guaranteed by the right to petition clause of the First Amendment.

FACT: According to a Gallup poll, Americans place greater faith in the military and the police than in any of the three branches of government. However, when asked to name the greatest problem facing the nation, Americans of all political stripes ranked the government as the number one concern. In fact, almost eight out of ten Americans believe that government corruption is widespread.

Perhaps the most troubling fact of all is this: we have handed over control of our government and our lives to faceless bureaucrats who view us as little more than cattle to be bred, branded, butchered and sold for profit.

If there is to be any hope of restoring our freedoms and reclaiming control over our government, it will rest not with the politicians but with the people themselves. When all is said and done, each American will have to decide for themselves whether they prefer dangerous freedom to peaceful slavery.

DALLAS, Texas—Constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead will appear on a special broadcast of “Glenn Beck Live” on April 9, 2015, to debut his forthcoming book Battlefield America: The War on the American People (due out on April 14) and discuss the constitutional crisis plaguing the nation. Whitehead, who serves as the president of The Rutherford Institute, will also be discussing some of the cases the Institute has handled in recent years which reflect the growing tension over the government’s refusal to respect the rights of the citizenry and abide by the rule of law.

In Battlefield America: The War on the American People, (the follow-up to his award-winning book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State) , Whitehead paints a terrifying portrait of a nation at war with itself and which is on the verge of undermining the basic freedoms guaranteed to the citizenry in the Constitution. Making the case that the government’s policies are dictated more by paranoia, power and control than need, Whitehead warns that it doesn’t really matter whether it’s a Democrat or a Republican at the helm, because the bureaucratic mindset on both sides of the aisle now seems to embody the same philosophy that has become the driving force behind the American police state.

“The outlook for civil liberties grows bleaker by the day, from the government’s embrace of indefinite detention for US citizens and armed surveillance drones flying overhead to warrantless surveillance of phone, email and Internet communications, and prosecutions of government whistle-blowers,” writes Whitehead. “The homeland is ruled by a police-industrial complex, an extension of the American military empire. Everything that our founding fathers warned against is now the new norm. The government has trained its sights on the American people. We have become the enemy.”

The shocking abuses of power revealed in Battlefield America have rendered Americans:

●Helpless in the face of militarized police (SWAT team raids, police shootings, roadside strip searches, asset forfeiture, 1033 programs) and routine invasions of privacy
●Vulnerable to government surveillance (Stingray devices, fusion centers, USA Patriot Act)
●Defenseless against absurd laws that have them arrested for letting their kids play at a park unsupervised, collecting rainwater and snow runoff on their own property, and growing vegetables in their yard (overcriminalization, National Defense Authorization Act, private prisons)

No matter how dire the outlook appears, Whitehead insists that all is not lost. The freedoms which Americans often take for granted were hard won through the sheer determination, suffering and sacrifice of thousands of patriotic Americans who not only believed in the cause of liberty but also acted on that belief. American colonists suffered under Great Britain’s version of an early police state, with armed soldiers crashing through doors to arrest and imprison citizens merely for criticizing government officials. They too were watched all the time, and were stopped and frisked if they appeared even a little bit suspicious. It was only when the colonists finally got fed up with being silenced, censored, searched, frisked, threatened, and arrested that they finally revolted against the tyrant’s fetters.

Battlefield America is drawing praise on all fronts from presidential contender Ron Paul (who also wrote the introduction), Judge Andrew Napolitano, former ACLU president Nadine Strossen and syndicated columnists Paul Craig Roberts, Lew Rockwell and Nat Hentoff.

This press release is also available at http://www.rutherford.org.