This post originally appeared on QuietMike.org, republished with permission from the author
With Chelsea Manning in prison for 35 years, Edward Snowden on the run and the NSA monitoring everyone, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg called it the start of the American police state.
It’s hard to disagree with Ellsberg who would likely be in jail today if the freedom to expose government wrongdoing was demonized in the 1970s as it is today. However, I don’t think the American police state is just getting started.
It was underway early in Bush’s first term following 9/11 and has continued unabated ever since. Back then, a majority of Americans were content on trading a little freedom for security.
Politicians, entertainers, reporters, liberals and conservatives alike were often too afraid to speak out against the coming changes for fear of being labeled a traitor or unpatriotic. Manning and Snowden are the twelve year old results of the “with us or against us” mentality.
No surprise, it all started with something called the Patriot Act. When it was introduced, certain individual rights got taken away. Warrant-less wiretaps, indefinite detention of immigrants, and now we have the assassination of American citizens abroad.
Since then, America has slowly turned into the Soviet Union without the socialism. You might think that’s a little harsh, but we’re not far off when you look at what is happening around the country.
The Soviet Union under Stalin used a massive network of spies and secret police to sniff out dissidents throughout the country, even within his own party. You couldn’t trust anyone, not even your own children.
In the United States these tactics would never be tolerated. It’s a little too in your face. Lucky for us we’re in the information age and such strategies are no longer required.
Wall Street Journal reporter Julia Angwin (one of the best at covering our surveillance state) observed that the American government has more data on the average American citizen than Stalin had on Russians, Hitler had on Germans, or any government has ever had on its own people.
The Soviets sent dissenters to the Gulag, an extremely horrific network of forced labor camps where prisoners often worked themselves to death. Thankfully conditions in the United States aren’t nearly as severe, but it doesn’t hide the fact that the US has the highest prisoner rate in the world and a lot of them are forced to work.
You might say the Gulag was filled with political prisoners, something we don’t have in the United States, but what are whistleblowers? People who are locked up for exposing secret, but illegal government activities; I would think that’s the very definition of a political prisoner.
The fact is more whistleblowers have been charged under the hundred year old Espionage Act by President Obama than all other presidents combined. I like the progressive president, but he has pursued these people with a sense of vengeance after praising them in his 2007 campaign.
The American police state isn’t restricted to the federal level or the dozens of police and security agencies that enforce it like the NSA, FBI, CIA, ATF, etc., etc. Examples of the police state can be found within each state, in major American cities and local police forces.
The best case in point would be in New York City. Take the NYPD’s stop and frisk policy, for instance. Aside from the fact that the policy has proven to be vehemently racist, what kind of free society allows their police officers to search people without just cause?
Imagine casually walking home from work only to have a police officer stop you, ask for ID, question you and frisk you. All you’re guilty of is walking home. How is this any different than the Gestapo asking you to see your papers?
Since the war on terror began, police forces across America have become increasingly militarized. It can be argued that this began during the ongoing war on drugs, but following September 11th, the government purse opened up and billions were poured into local police forces.
Now whenever you see a sizable peaceful protest, you can be sure the urban assault vehicles are right there behind the well armored riot police. The Occupy Wall Street movement was evidence of this.
The cops seem to be well coordinated around the country as well. Once billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg had enough of the occupy movement and sent in the police, occupy protests were broken up across the country almost overnight.
Whether you’re a Democrat or liberal, Republican or conservative, libertarian or someone who can’t even name the president, you have to admit that something has gone terribly wrong in the land of the free.
The growing American police state could get worse before it gets better, unless regular people start addressing the issue. Who’s to say whoever comes after Obama won’t decide to build upon what his predecessors molded. Even worse, who’s to say he won’t use it for his own political advantage.