‘Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death’: The Loss of Our Freedoms in the Wake of 9/11

By John Whitehead, constitutional and human rights attorney, and founder of the Rutherford Institute.

“Since mankind’s dawn, a handful of oppressors have accepted the responsibility over our lives that we should have accepted for ourselves. By doing so, they took our power. By doing nothing, we gave it away. We’ve seen where their way leads, through camps and wars, towards the slaughterhouse.” ― Alan Moore, V for Vendetta

What began with the passage of the USA Patriot Act in October 2001 has snowballed into the eradication of every vital safeguard against government overreach, corruption and abuse. Since then, we have been terrorized, traumatized, and acclimated to life in the American Surveillance State.

The bogeyman’s names and faces change over time, but the end result remains the same: our unquestioning acquiescence to anything the government wants to do in exchange for the phantom promise of safety and security has transitioned us to life in a society where government agents routinely practice violence on the citizens while, in conjunction with the Corporate State, spying on the most intimate details of our personal lives.

Ironically, the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks occurs just days before the 228th anniversary of the ratification of our Constitution. Yet while there is much to mourn about the loss of our freedoms in the years since 9/11, there is virtually nothing to celebrate.

The Constitution has been steadily chipped away at, undermined, eroded, whittled down, and generally discarded to such an extent that what we are left with today is but a shadow of the robust document adopted more than two centuries ago. Most of the damage has been inflicted upon the Bill of Rights—the first ten amendments to the Constitution—which has historically served as the bulwark from government abuse.

Set against a backdrop of government surveillance, militarized police, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, eminent domain, overcriminalization, armed surveillance drones, whole body scanners, stop and frisk searches, roving VIPR raids and the like—all sanctioned by a corrupt government run by Congress, the White House and the courts—a recitation of the Bill of Rights now sounds more like a eulogy to freedoms lost than an affirmation of rights we should possess.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the Constitution has been on life support for some time now and all efforts at resuscitating it may soon prove futile.

We can pretend that the Constitution, which was written to hold the government accountable, is still our governing document. However, the reality we must come to terms with is that in the America we live in today, the government does whatever it wants, freedom be damned, and “we the people” are seen as little more than cattle to be branded and eventually led to the slaughterhouse.

Consider the state of our freedoms, and judge for yourself whether Osama Bin Laden was right when he warned that “freedom and human rights in America are doomed,” and that the “U.S. government will lead the American people in — and the West in general — into an unbearable hell and a choking life.”

Here is what it means to live under the Constitution today.

The First Amendment is supposed to protect the freedom to speak your mind, assemble and protest nonviolently without being bridled by the government. It also protects the freedom of the media, as well as the right to worship and pray without interference. In other words, Americans should not be silenced by the government. To the founders, all of America was a free speech zone.

Yet despite the clear protections found in the First Amendment, the freedoms described therein are under constant assault. Increasingly, Americans are being arrested and charged with bogus “contempt of cop” charges such as “disrupting the peace” or “resisting arrest” for daring to film police officers engaged in harassment or abusive practices. Journalists are being prosecuted for reporting on whistleblowers. States are passing legislation to muzzle reporting on cruel and abusive corporate practices. Religious ministries are being fined for attempting to feed and house the homeless. Protesters are being tear-gassed, beaten, arrested and forced into “free speech zones.” And under the guise of “government speech,” the courts have reasoned that the government can discriminate freely against any First Amendment activity that takes place within a government forum.

The Second Amendment was intended to guarantee “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.” Yet while gun ownership has been recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court as an individual citizen right, Americans remain powerless to defend themselves against SWAT team raids and government agents armed to the teeth with military weapons better suited for the battlefield than for a country founded on freedom. Police shootings of unarmed citizens continue to outrage communities, while little is really being done to demilitarize law enforcement agencies. Indeed, just recently, North Dakota became the first state to legalize law enforcement use of drones armed with weapons such as tear gas, rubber bullets, beanbags, pepper spray and Tasers.

The Third Amendment reinforces the principle that civilian-elected officials are superior to the military by prohibiting the military from entering any citizen’s home without “the consent of the owner.” With the police increasingly training like the military, acting like the military, and posing as military forces—complete with military weapons, assault vehicles, etc.—it is clear that we now have what the founders feared most—a standing army on American soil. Moreover, as a result of SWAT team raids (more than 80,000 a year) where police invade homes, often without warrants, and injure and even kill unarmed citizens, the barrier between public and private property has been done away with, leaving us with armed government agents who act as if they own our property.

The Fourth Amendment prohibits the government from conducting surveillance on you or touching you or invading you, unless they have some evidence that you’re up to something criminal. In other words, the Fourth Amendment ensures privacy and bodily integrity. Unfortunately, the Fourth Amendment has suffered the greatest damage in recent years and been all but eviscerated by an unwarranted expansion of police powers that include strip searches and even anal and vaginal searches of citizens, surveillance and intrusions justified in the name of fighting terrorism, as well as the outsourcing of otherwise illegal activities to private contractors. Case in point: Texas police forced a 21-year-old woman to undergo a warrantless vaginal search by the side of the road after she allegedly “rolled” through a stop sign.

The use of civil asset forfeiture schemes to swell the coffers of police forces has also continued to grow in popularity among cash-strapped states. The federal government continues to strong-arm corporations into providing it with access to Americans’ private affairs, from emails and online transactions to banking and web surfing. Coming in the wake of massive leaks about the inner workings of the NSA and the massive secretive surveillance state, it was revealed that the government threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 every day for failing to comply with the NSA’s mass data collection program known as PRISM. Meanwhile, AT&T has enjoyed a profitable and “extraordinary, decades-long” relationship with the NSA.

The technological future appears to pose even greater threats to what’s left of our Fourth Amendment rights, with advances in biometric identification and microchip implants on the horizon making it that much easier for the government to track not only our movements and cyber activities but our very cellular beings. Barclays has already begun using a finger-scanner as a form of two-step authentication to give select customers access to their accounts. Similarly, Motorola has been developing thin “digital tattoos” that will ensure that a phone’s owner is the only person who may unlock it. Not to be overlooked are the aerial spies—surveillance drones—about to take to the skies in coming years, as well as the Drive Smart programs that will spy on you (your speed, movements, passengers, etc.) while you travel the nation’s highways and byways.

The Fifth Amendment and the Sixth Amendment work in tandem. These amendments supposedly ensure that you are innocent until proven guilty, and government authorities cannot deprive you of your life, your liberty or your property without the right to an attorney and a fair trial before a civilian judge. However, in the new suspect society in which we live, where surveillance is the norm, these fundamental principles have been upended. Certainly, if the government can arbitrarily freeze, seize or lay claim to your property (money, land or possessions) under government asset forfeiture schemes, you have no true rights. That’s the crux of a case before the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the government’s use of asset forfeiture to strip American citizens of the funds needed to hire a defense attorney of their choosing.

The Seventh Amendment guarantees citizens the right to a jury trial. However, when the populace has no idea of what’s in the Constitution—civic education has virtually disappeared from most school curriculums—that inevitably translates to an ignorant jury incapable of distinguishing justice and the law from their own preconceived notions and fears. However, as a growing number of citizens are coming to realize, the power of the jury to nullify the government’s actions—and thereby help balance the scales of justice—is not to be underestimated. Jury nullification reminds the government that it’s “we the people” who can and should be determining what laws are just, what activities are criminal and who can be jailed for what crimes.

The Eighth Amendment is similar to the Sixth in that it is supposed to protect the rights of the accused and forbid the use of cruel and unusual punishment. However, the Supreme Court’s determination that what constitutes “cruel and unusual” should be dependent on the “evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society” leaves us with little protection in the face of a society lacking in morals altogether. For example, a California appeals court is being asked to consider “whether years of unpredictable delays from conviction to execution” constitute cruel and unusual punishment. For instance, although 900 individuals have been sentenced to death in California since 1978, only 13 have been executed. As CBS News reports, “More prisoners have died of natural causes on death row than have perished in the death chamber.”

The Ninth Amendment provides that other rights not enumerated in the Constitution are nonetheless retained by the people. Popular sovereignty—the belief that the power to govern flows upward from the people rather than downward from the rulers—is clearly evident in this amendment. However, it has since been turned on its head by a centralized federal government that sees itself as supreme and which continues to pass more and more laws that restrict our freedoms under the pretext that it has an “important government interest” in doing so. Thus, once the government began violating the non-enumerated rights granted in the Ninth Amendment, it was only a matter of time before it began to trample the enumerated rights of the people, as explicitly spelled out in the rest of the Bill of Rights.

As for the Tenth Amendment’s reminder that the people and the states retain every authority that is not otherwise mentioned in the Constitution, that assurance of a system of government in which power is divided among local, state and national entities has long since been rendered moot by the centralized Washington, DC, power elite—the president, Congress and the courts. Indeed, the federal governmental bureaucracy has grown so large that it has made local and state legislatures relatively irrelevant. Through its many agencies and regulations, the federal government has stripped states of the right to regulate countless issues that were originally governed at the local level.

If there is any sense to be made from this recitation of freedoms lost, it is simply this: our individual freedoms have been eviscerated so that the government’s powers could be expanded, while reducing us to a system of slavery disguised as a democracy.

The film V for Vendetta is a powerful commentary on how totalitarian governments such as our own exploit fear and use mass surveillance, censorship, terrorism, and militarized tactics to control, oppress and enslave.

As the lead character V observes:

Where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn’t be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the now high chancellor, Adam Sutler. He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent.

How will you have it? Will you simply comply while the train heads down the track to a modern-day Auschwitz? Or will you become a free person and resist? To quote Patrick Henry, “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! — I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

This entry was posted in Politics / World News. Bookmark the permalink.
  • There were some ‘Constitutional’ patriots shouting fire in the theater, but the ‘Sheeple’ just followed the herd without asking ‘ANY’ questions.

    Wake up America! We ‘MUST’ repeal the ‘PATRIOT’ Act! NOW!

    We have started on a very perilous path, and we need to stop and turn around before it becomes extremely difficult to stop. As of right now, if someone shows up and calls you unpatriotic, or as aiding the enemy, you can be taken away with no constitutional rights and no legal protections to prove otherwise. We must stop this before it’s too late!


    OCTOBER 26, 2014 Peekaboo, I See You: Government Authority Intended for Terrorism is Used for Other Purposes

    The Patriot Act continues to wreak its havoc on civil liberties. Section 213 was included in the Patriot Act over the protests of privacy advocates and granted law enforcement the power to conduct a search while delaying notice to the suspect of the search. Known as a “sneak and peek” warrant, law enforcement was adamant Section 213 was needed to protect against terrorism. But the latest government report detailing the numbers of “sneak and peek” warrants reveals that out of a total of over 11,000 sneak and peek requests, only 51 were used for terrorism. Yet again, terrorism concerns appear to be trampling our civil liberties.


    • jadan

      “I drafted a terrorism bill after the Oklahoma City bombing. And the bill John Ashcroft sent up was my bill.” This is Joe Biden taking credit for drafting the Patriot Act. Run, Joe, run, until you reach the ocean and keep on running until you disappear beneath the waves and we never have to see your face again.

  • October 03, 2012 Provoke an Attack on Iran? “Lets Bring it On… At the End of the Day… We Ought to Take ‘Em Out”

    See the statements of Hillary Clinton and former Secretary of State James Baker III in video above

    (video: courtesy of Information Clearing House and Live Leak)


  • We need to point out front and center that the government is doing FALSE FLAG/HOAXES. That’s HAS TO be a part of reversing everything. If we DENY this, we can’t do what this article suggests. For example, how can we argue about what freedoms 911 has eroded without mentioning our own government was in on it? JUST LIKE THE GOVERNMENT IN THE MOVIE “V FOR VENDETTA” WAS IN ON IT BTW.

    • All we can do is share information and inform others they have been played like I do with this link!


      Although many of the year’s major news stories can be linked to the alternative media’s expanding influence, several in particular are undoubtedly connected to a surge in the public’s awakening.

      Western Governments Run Al Qaeda AKA: USA


    • All we can do is share information and inform others they have been played like I do with this link!


      Although many of the year’s major news stories can be linked to the alternative media’s expanding influence, several in particular are undoubtedly connected to a surge in the public’s awakening.

      Western Governments Run Al Qaeda AKA: USA


    • Bev

      Informing people gives us another chance. Don’t give up.

      Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth


      NYC World Premiere, Friday, September 11th:
      Firefighters, Architects & Engineers Expose the Myths of 9/11

      Dear friends,

      I am pleased to inform you that on Friday, September 11, 2015, Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, together with Firefighters for 9/11 Truth, will be premiering another indispensable piece in our collection of educational materials: Firefighters, Architects & Engineers: Expose the Myths of 9/11. I invite you to watch the two-minute trailer here.

      This 90-minute film features a landmark joint presentation by Erik Lawyer, the founder of Firefighters for 9/11 Truth, and me. Together we dismantle two dozen myths that comprise the official account of the WTC destruction. We also expose the failure of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to comply with the requirements of NFPA 921, the national guideline for fire and explosion investigations.

      We hope this information-packed video will quickly become a go-to educational tool — particularly for outreach to firefighters and fire protection professionals all over the country.

      Join Erik and Me for the World Premiere

      The world premiere of Firefighters, Architects & Engineers will be held at 7:00 PM on Friday, September 11, 2015, in the West Park Presbyterian Church, located at 165 West 86th Street in New York City’s Upper West Side. Come join Erik, me, and hundreds of others for the premiere of this powerful, incisive film. Also, please join me for a pre-screening of the film in Hartford, CT, on September 9th!

      Contact kdavid@ae911truth.org for more information on these events.


      C-span Interview: Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth

      Richard Gage talked about his group, Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, which claimed that the World Trade Center was brought down by explosive demolition on September 11, 2001. The group was founded in 2006 and said its mission was to “expose the official lies and cover-up surrounding the events of September 11, 2001 in a way that inspires the people to overcome denial and understand the truth.”


      Why Would Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll Question 9/11?
      Posted on February 1, 2015 by Kevin Ryan

  • Brockland A.T.

    The title is a bit defeatist. The NWO WILL give death to whomever’s asking for it and be very happy to oblige.

    Should be more like, “Give me liberty or die”.

  • diogenes

    The First Amendment comes first for a reason. The biggest traitors to the First Amendment are in our schools and in our media, teaching and acting out the lesson that there are some topics that cannot be raised, some truths that cannot be spoken, some subjects that are so delicate that discussion of them must be prohibited by laws and policies. And any time someone tells you a “truth” cannot be discussed and must be protected by a gag and shakles, you know it’s a lie and they’re liars and intent on enslaving you. These are the people who teach acquiescence in treason, acceptance of slavery, the virtue of lies. Once the First Amendment has been betrayed by these First Traitors, all the rest fall like dominoes.

  • F.Y.I. folks! Jan 31, 2013 Police Have No Duty to Protect Individuals – Firearms & Liberty

    According to the US Supreme Court decision in Warren v. District of Columbia in 1981, the police do not have the duty to provide protection and services to individuals except under specific assignments.


  • March 2015 at TED2015 Trevor Aaronson: How this FBI strategy is actually creating US-based terrorists

    There’s an organization responsible for more terrorism plots in the United States than al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab and ISIS combined: The FBI. How? Why? In an eye-opening talk, investigative journalist Trevor Aaronson reveals a disturbing FBI practice that breeds terrorist plots by exploiting Muslim-Americans with mental health problems.


  • LEGOates

    LOL, PATRIOT Act my ass; anyone failing to grasp that our freedoms were lost in 1947 with the passage of the “National Security Act” needs to do lot more reading.