As we, in these United States of America celebrate our 'freedoms' this weekend, it is interesting to note certain exceptions to that freedom. We are not free from fear and we seem to have developed a very oppressive mentality of fearfulness. Largely, that fear is ill defined. We feel it. We respond to it. We live with it; but, where does it come from?
While overtly fearful of those from 'over-there', we seem unaware of serious threats to our freedoms in the local arena. As we look to distant places for the source of threats, we stare right past our establishment of a police/securtiy state at home.
The media fans the flames of our foreign fears by continually giving us more and more reasons to be afraid of 'those' over-there. While most of us haven't experienced the worst of what the media propagates, we become conditioned to being on the look-out... we've developed an expectation and it is often realized in the next media broadcast... whether real or imagined... “ISIS Flag Spotted At Gay Pride Parade”, reports CNN, whose report "clearly put all officers on extremely high alert".
Usually, from the national media, we learn to fear those from other countries who are 'jealous of our freedoms' and want to 'take our freedoms away'. Currently, we see Isis around every corner. Previously, and even still, it was and is Al Qaeda that causes us this fear. Most groups we list as terrorists are uninterested in attacking civilians in the United States. But, the reports sell and the arms industry thrives.
The only group, in the START database at the University of Maryland (the most comprehensive listing of terrorist activity around the world), that attacks civilians is Angola’s UNITA, who like Al Qaedae was a major recipient of U.S. military aid.
Al Qaeda was actually very successful in achieving their goals. They wanted to cause us to live in fear and that is exactly where we live. Partly it was their actions that drove us to fearfulness and partly it has been our own actions. The alert system which was kept in our faces constantly, made us keenly aware of the level of threat we faced that day, every day... 'red alert', 'yellow alert', whatever 'alert'. The media continuously feeds our fear.
Mostly, we manufacture fear out of nothing and create an atmosphere of fear within ourselves. Our own government agencies create most of the threat by recruiting, training, supplying, participating with and then arresting the 'terrorists'. Upon arrest, the media advertises the threats that we face and we are rightfully afraid.
"When an Oregon college student, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, thought of using a car bomb to attack a festive Christmas-tree lighting ceremony in Portland, the F.B.I. provided a van loaded with six 55-gallon drums of “inert material,” harmless blasting caps, a detonator cord and a gallon of diesel fuel to make the van smell flammable. An undercover F.B.I. agent even did the driving, with Mr. Mohamud in the passenger seat. To trigger the bomb the student punched a number into a cellphone and got no boom, only a bust." (source)
In fact, the United States government is responsible for creation of many of our terror alerts, many of our terror threats and then for saving us from their own creations. The government seems to believe that recruiting and then arresting potential terrorists will remove enough of them from the pool of terrorists that none will be left for Al Qaeda or Isis to recruit.
“Only the government could have made a ‘terrorist’ out of Mr. Cromitie, whose buffoonery is positively Shakespearean in its scope,” said Judge Colleen McMahon, sentencing him to 25 years. She branded it a “fantasy terror operation” but called his attempt “beyond despicable” and rejected his claim of entrapment.", although 'entrapped' he obviously was!
We've had few actual threats to safety, from the 'under-wear bomber' and the 'shoe bomber' and the 'tooth-paste bomber' and the 'under pants bomber' and the Bali bombing and a few more. But, our entire world view was changed by the 9/11 attacks. We fear threats from everywhere, except from ourselves, a true source of attacks on our freedoms.
Of course, we are all aware of the Oklahoma City bombing but neither the media nor 'law enforcement' seem focused upon domestic terrorists. The very defense against such threats is our real danger.
The greatest threat to our freedoms comes from our creation of a 'police state/ national security state'. While the national government is focused on creating and catching international and inter-state terrorists, the local governments are focused on local domestic issues. In this process, citizens are losing their freedoms without notice. Our fears are ill placed.
As often as three times a week, Rose and Walter Martin are greeted at their front door by cops brandishing guns. Far from criminal masterminds, the innocent 80-something couple are upstanding citizens who are the victims of a mistake in the NYPD’s computer system.
Apparently, arms manufacturers have saturated the military with weapons and now look to local 'law enforcement' as a new market for the expansion of their business enterprise. Every sheriff now wants tanks and troop carriers. Police go after small petty criminals with full blown swat operations. 'Law enforcement is the source of the new terrorism. The result of this trend is the loss of freedoms for ordinary citizens.
These activities go without the media's usual expressions of fear-mongering. These terrorist items are reported by the press, but without the typical hysteria associated with the threat from foreign terrorists.
Statistically, one needn't fear Al Qaeda or Isis attacking us, the real fear is the local police in swat costumes with high tech military weapons descending upon innocent people or attacking a wrong address.
The lesson here is that when you go to an art opening, be sure to check in advance that the gallery has secured all of the appropriate permits or you may pay the consecquenses.
It is difficult to keep up with the dangers. The lessons for American citizens are becoming more numerous, for example, don't lay your baby in a crib that is exposed to police granades being tossed in or your baby may be burned by the police.
Officer cleared after going to wrong address, shooting innocent grandpa in his garage...
“He just unloaded his gun in rapid fire. One right after the other, in succession. There wasn’t any hesitation.”
And yet, we go after them with machine guns and grenades and armored troop carriers as if storming a well defended major military target. It is not just the 'suspect' at risk, but anyone else who happens to be in the vicinity, including infants and the elderly.
Tragically, the 'law enforcement officer' almost never suffers as a result of the murder and brutality of innocent people. 'Top law enforcement officials' usually explain away and justify whatever abuse results from the crimes commitetd by their officers. If 'bad cops' are allowed free rein and can kill with immunity, we are all in serious trouble. Being innocent is not protection.
...six officers toting riot shields and military-style weapons rapped on the door to the Brooklyn apartment of 84-year-old Martin Goldberg and his wife Leona, 82. When Goldberg opened the door, police stormed the apartment, pushing Mr. Goldberg aside and ordering him to the floor.“They charged in like an army,” Goldberg, a decorated World War II vet, told the New York Post. “They knocked pictures off the wall.” The police had the wrong apartment. The investigation veered off course 10 days earlier, when an informant pointed police to one of two housing project buildings as the home of a drug dealer. The cops just stormed the wrong building. Shortly after the raid, Leona Goldberg was hospitalized with an irregular heartbeat. “It was terrible. . . . It was the most frightening experience of my life. . . . I thought it was a terrorist attack,” Mrs. Goldberg told the Post.
An NYPD officer later told the paper, “Obviously, there was a breakdown in communication. These were relatively inexperienced officers, and they may have been less than vigilant.”
Surely, our freedoms are endangered. The greatest source of that danger is not over-there somewhere, it is right here at home. The real dangers we face come from those claiming to 'serve & protect'... from those whose fall back position is "I feared for my life". And what about the rest of us who truly fear for our lives and the lives and safety of our loved ones? Instead of more laws to strenghten the 'national security state', we need laws to reign in local law enforcement.
As of this morning, Amazon sales of George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984 had jumped 6,021 percent in just 24 hours, to No. 213 on Amazon's bestseller list. As NPR's Alan Greenblatt recently pointed out, many people have found uncomfortable resonances between Orwell's "Big Brother" state and the news that broke last week of U.S. government surveillance programs.
Read: The "Raid of the Day" by Radley Balko which features accounts of police raids I've found, researched, and reported while writing my forthcoming book Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces. It's due out in July.