Battlefield America: The War on the American People

By John Whitehead. Constitutional and civil rights attorney, and founder of the Rutherford Institute.

“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.

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  • March 29, 2015 March to martial law? Undercover Special Forces to sweep US Southwest

    As elite branches of the US military prepare to hold military training in seven southwest states, with some troops operating incognito among civilians, some Americans fear the training is actually preparation for imposing martial law.

    APRIL 20, 2015 The Pentagon’s “Operation Jade Helm 15″: The Floodgate towards Martial Law and World War III?

    First we learned that Operation Jade Helm 15 is coming this summer from mid-July through mid-September to a Southwest neighborhood near you stretching from Texas to California.

    APRIL 22, 2015 Dave Hodges: Jade Helm 15: The Government War On U.S. Citizens

    How many of you have heard of Jade Helm 15? How many of you have heard of it but have not looked into the facts in order to form an educated opinion about what it is all about?

  • Axel

    In early April of this year, 2015, I mentioned Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, GR, Global Research Professor Michel Chossudosky, Mr. Stephen Lendman, GAP Mr. Tom Devine and inn reference to an Article from at least a GR Article Professor Michel Chossudosky and that at least mentioned Dr. Paul Craig Roberts and the Rutherford Institute and seemingly to my recollection an Article or linked or other wise Articles that mentioned Dr. Paul Craig Roberts and his highest admiration for Dr. Francis A. Boyle and his concern that our was at its highest ever over recent and ongoing (and seemingly the most highest of wrongful events and actions) within history and seemingly whether history would even survive these many any varied wrongful events and actions. I have written prior blog comments and at that time and with most likely many additional Names and Organizations and within highest highly accomplished respected and Individuals and Organizations, (and many with relevant and important links).

    I am going to try to attaché 2 GR links. One from prior and if I remember correctly from Professor Michel Chossudosky and one recent, today from Dr. Paul Craig Roberts.

    I also contacted the Rutherford Institute in early April, 2015 as it was mentioned in one of these Articles or at that time. I did receive a friendly return call and I spoke for about 30 or 40 minutes. Probably 3 calls in all that day. I was expecting a return call or communication within several weeks. As these and/or most people and Organizations are well complimenting and that I have personally contacted them recently and today, GAP Mr. Tom Devine and Illinois University, Dr. Francis A. Boyle and as I mentioned on a previous today Washington’sblog Article.

    These 2 Articles are intended to be helpful and within recommendations and that I have previously mentioned today on the Mr. Eric Zuesse, ‘……War…..Ukraine…..’ W’sblog 4/22/2015 Article.

    I did not find the Professor Michel Chossudosky Article and that I thought was actually Mr. Jim Naureckas Article, although may be similar and/or referenced within Professor Michel Choussudosky Article. I will expect to look and link to the Article soon.

    • Axel

      This may not be the exact Article from my brief and just now too briefly reading of the Article. I noticed the Article did mention and/or reference the ‘…..end of Humanity…..’ and as that is an highly and most important and overwhelming of and within concern(s) and direction(s), thereof, I have therefore attached this GR, Global Research Article.

      GR has an easily and by Author Search Index.

      Thank you for your time and consideration within your attention and to these concerns.

      • Axel

        Dear Mr. John Whitehead, 4/22/2015

        I just clicked on the ‘Battlefield America: The War on the American People’ and I have realized that you have Authored this Article. (Thank you).

        Please note and that I have had acknowledged, within this Article, that I have had communication with your Office that I trust you and hopefully your Office will do (and/or continue to do the best) your best on my behalf and especially within my efforts and endeavors, and protections, and too affirm, if necessary, thereof.

        I read the first part and some of the ending part of your Article and that I enjoyed, appreciate and am thankful. I certainly intend to more fully and completely read, enjoy and appreciate this Article.

        Thank you for your time and consideration.

        Axel Sabersky

        • Axel

          Dear Mr. John Whitehead, 4/23/2015

          Too Briefly in this reply, and from my call to your after hours answering machine and as California has apparently taken the wrong actions on these Issues,

          1) I have attached this brief comment from my, ‘Republican Committee Calls on Whistleblowers’ comments of 2007. {To avoid any misunderstanding, my recent previous June 3, 2007 above reply is also in reference to my previous replies on this page and without exception and most importantly in direct reference to the US enactment of the US death penalty which is a preposterous application(s) and assumption(s) and violates all Religious, Constitutional and Democratic Law.}

          Please note that this issue and from my summation is not a public voting type issue and is a clear and unmistakable, Representative ‘Public Trust’ mandate and concern.

          2) INS Law 247 prohibits ‘Illegal Aliens’ and harboring thereof. There is a major concern as it is also a highly significant, Representative ‘Public Trust’ issue and concern. (example; In new York, and a decade ago or more ago, an INS Officer was terminated, removed, convicted and jailed from my vague recollection as his Fiancé!! had overstayed her School Visa by a day or so).

          I mention the above as I consider Governor Jerry Brown and now Code Pink, Ms. Jodie Evans, my friends.

          I am humbly asking and offering my humble assistance, should you be able to have and/or provide any influence and/or assistance and/or advice on my and/or our behalf.

          This is my effort to comply with your Article, your accomplishments and within my brief knowledge of the Rutherford Institute and to offer worthwhile suggestion(s), resolve(s), etcetera within proper, forthright and mandated US Constitutional, Bill of Rights, Gettysburg Address, efforts and endeavors.

          Thank you for your time and consideration.

          Axel Sabersky

          • Axel

            If my name recollection, memory and information is/are correct, please allow me to mention my condolences and acknowledgement within the passing of Mr. Max Palevsky, whom I also considered a friend.

  • Police Have No Duty To Protect Individuals

    Self-Reliance For Self-Defense — Police Protection Isn’t Enough! All our lives, especially during our younger years, we hear that the police are there to protect us. From the very first kindergarten- class visit of “Officer Friendly” to the very last time we saw a police car – most of which have “To Protect and Serve” emblazoned on their doors – we’re encouraged to give ourselves over to police protection.

    Dec 1, 2013 Message to Police

    Something you need to consider if you work in law enforcement–a question of life or death that you need to answer, and answer now.

    All of the court rulings are located within the first link for verification purposes.

    • jadan

      Yes, I won’t deny that I looked at this shapely young woman and wondered what she had to say just because she’s so shapely in skin-tight jeans. I took the bait and she hooked me on a message of freedom and self-responsibility. And I like the way she threatened the cops who don’t honor the Bill of Rights. Just a casual reference to an armed American people and potential retribution. She’s somebody special. I hope she’s very careful…..

      • Thanks’ Jadan, she is special and has an uncommon sense and wise words for her age.

  • jadan

    The war on the people is also called the “war on terrorism”. We are all presumed guilty until the scanner says we’re not carrying weapons into our public buildings. If we fly, the logic of the war on terror compels us to accept that we must be groped by brown shirts called the TSA. We get used to the idea that there is no presumption of innocence. 911 launched the war on terror that was in preparation for nearly a decade with staged domestic terror events such as the first assault on the WTC in ’93 and the OKC bombing in ’95. Native anti-government militia activity, for which Timothy McVeigh was the burnt offering, was easily crushed, and organized anti-government cult religious groups were snuffed when Janet Reno made another burnt offering of David Koresh’s people. The odor of these offerings was pleasing unto the noses of the High Priests of the Plutocracy, the corporate fascists who remain anonymous. This war against the people has only just begun and there is surprisingly little push-back from the people. This is because we have no vision of the future. We the people bear witness to the failure of the Republic and its Constitution and we have no plan for the future, no passionate aspirations such as the revolutionary fervor that founded this experiment in self-rule. What we hear most loudly is the voice of idiot Christianity trembling with premonitions of the end-times and final judgment of an angry god and horseshit of this type. There’s a febrile old patriarch that comes roaring out of the Bible whose making war on the people because of Roe vs Wade, gay marriage, and various other issues that displease the Angry One. Come to think of it, this Old Patriarch had been making war on the people for quite some time. There was a moment when Time magazine announced that “God is Dead”…………….no such luck…………….

  • Civil War And The Litmus Test – “Will you shoot Americans?”

    Dr Garrow was recently contacted by a high ranking military official who implored him to reveal the truth about a “litmus test” that is being proposed by the Obama administration to the military asking the question “will you shoot Americans if they won’t give you their guns?”

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    Per usual, John hits the nail once again. If you don’t agree with everything that is said in this piece, then clearly your fast asleep. It used to be that Russia was known for it’s propaganda against anyone who stood against communism, but now it’s the American government who propagandizes every little thing being said today over the media airwaves. Case in point, I have watched the news for several weeks but decided I needed a good chuckle this morning, and “low and behold” the first words out of the anchors mouth, “terror, or terrorist, or terrorist plot”. If you can’t see the “military industrial complex” and the CIA behind the scenes like the wizard behind the curtain, then maybe you should consider breaking the prozacs in half.

  • Finally someone is making sense on this issue. Being wealthy does not equal being evil. As you note there are many good people in the 0.01% and even many good people in the 0.001%. Naive smearing of people one knows nothing about is just stupid. I’m glad you recognize this. Many silly lefties want to get money out of politics and believe passing a few, almost impossible to enforce, laws will fix this eternal mess. I submit that money that is not the problem; the problem is dark money. Sheldon Adelson is almost certainly a hubris laden asshole. Such characters often think they are far smarter than the rest of us and should be allowed unlimited latitude to make choices for us. If Sheldon wants to blow billions on buying political favors I feel he should be allowed to do so; I only require that Sheldon, or the people he is buying, fully disclose where all the money is coming from. You can’t buy a box of cereal in this country without a tediously long label of ingredients. Money is the most important ingredient in politics and we must insist on verifiable labels of ingredients on retailed political products like Hillary Clinton and her Republican opponents.