By John Whitehead Contributing Columnist
February 21, 2014
“Totalitarian paranoia runs deep in American society, and it now inhabits the highest levels of government… Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, America has succumbed to a form of historical amnesia fed by a culture of fear, militarization and precarity. Relegated to the dustbin of organized forgetting were the long-standing abuses carried out by America’s intelligence agencies and the public’s long-standing distrust of the FBI, government wiretaps and police actions that threatened privacy rights, civil liberties and those freedoms fundamental to a democracy.” — Professor Henry Giroux
Relationships are fragile things, none more so than the relationship between a citizen and his government. Unfortunately for the American people, the contract entered into more than 200 years ago has been reduced to little more than a marriage of convenience and fiscal duty, marked by distrust, lying, infidelity, hostility, disillusion, paranoia and domestic abuse on the part of the government officials entrusted with ensuring the citizenry’s safety and happiness.
Don’t believe me? Start paying attention to how you and your fellow citizens are treated by government officials — the ones whose salaries you are paying — and then focus in on how the government is spending your hard-earned tax dollars. Pay particular attention to the heavily armed officers in tactical gear, the surveillance cameras, the drones, the roving VIPR squads, the cops who shoot first and ask questions later, the military drills in small towns, the military equipment being funneled to small-town police departments, and the massive ammunition purchases by domestic agencies such as the Postal Service, the Department of Education, the IRS and the Social Security Administration.
While this hyper-militarization of the government is being sold to the public as a means of preventing terrorism and maintaining national security, it is little more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing. In fact, as I document in my book “A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State,” what we are dealing with is a police state disguised as a benevolent democracy, a run-away government hyped up on its own power and afraid of its citizenry, whose policies are dictated more by paranoia than need. Unfortunately, “we the people” have become so trusting, so gullible, so easily distracted, so out-of-touch and so sure that our government will always do the right thing by us that we are ignoring the warning signs all around us, or at least failing to recognize them as potential red flags and opportunities to ask questions, demand answers, and hold our government officials accountable to respecting our rights and abiding by the rule of law. Perhaps the more pressing question that needs to be asked right now is this: have we become the enemies of our own government?
To start with, the massive ammunition purchases by various federal agencies begs the question: why do domestic agencies having nothing to do with national defense, such as the Postal Service, the Department of Education, the IRS and the Social Security Administration (SSA), need mass quantities of ammunition and weaponry?
It was recently revealed that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans on purchasing 75.1 million rounds of ammunition in 2014. In the past two years, the DHS purchased “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.” They also received over 2,500 Mine-Resistant Armored Protection (MRAP) vehicles, which they have begun passing around to local police departments across the country.
We should not jump to conclusions, but we should be asking questions and demanding answers. After all, these ammo purchases are not taking place in a vacuum. They are occurring alongside a number of other troubling government activities that should have every American asking: what exactly is the government preparing for?
For example, in February 2014, the TSA awarded a contract to City Chemical LLC for $21,000 worth of potassium chlorate, a chemical compound often used in explosives. On January 10, 2014, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (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.
Taken as isolated events, these requests may not seem suspect, but throw into the mix a variety of military-police training exercises which are occurring across the country, ostensibly to “train” first responders to deal with emergency situations and social unrest, and together they paint a more alarming picture.
In Richland, South Carolina, for example, U.S. army special forces participated in joint and secretive exercises and training with local deputies. The public was blocked from obtaining any information about the drills, other than that they might be loud and should not cause alarm. Documents obtained recently by the website MediaTrackers indicate that the Ohio National Guard conducted a training drill last year which involved responding to an imaginary terrorist threat in which “school officials plotted to use chemical, biological and radiological agents against members of the community.” The alleged terrorists were also portrayed as gun rights advocates. The Ohio National Guard has also conducted a training exercise involving a fictional left-wing environmental terrorist group.
When one considers the growing list of opinions and activities which may make a federal agent or government official think you’re a terrorist, or sympathetic to terrorist activities — advocating states’ rights, believing the state to be unnecessary or undesirable, “conspiracy theorizing,” concern about alleged FEMA camps, opposition to war, organizing for “economic justice,” frustration with “mainstream ideologies,” opposition to abortion, opposition to globalization, and, ironically, ammunition stockpiling — it becomes that much harder to answer “no” when asked “have we become the enemies of our own government?”
At the end of the day, we are left with more questions than answers and the deepening concern that these covert programs are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to a tendency on the part of the government to view the American citizenry as enemy No. 1.
Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His latest book “A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State” (SelectBooks) is available online at www.amazon.com. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.