The Police State Puzzle Taking Shape

There have been a number of police state measures recently that might look benign at first, but when you put them all together the picture becomes awfully scary.  While there might not be a coordinated effort or specific target group, there is enough momentum going that anyone who speaks out against the government could have their homes raided and be detained and jailed.

It started after 9/11, when we were outraged that the government could not protect us from coordinated terrorist attacks.  At the time, we wanted the government to be able to listen in on potential terrorists.  After all, the authorities said that if they were coordinated and were allowed to access information, they could have prevented the tragedy.

This led to the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security and their program of listening in on our phone conversations, checking our internet browsing history, and being able to detain suspected terrorists without charging them with a crime.  Of course, the government told us that they were only spying on suspected terrorists, so none of us thought twice about it.

Over time, the efforts of the DHS have made some arrests that have resulted in convictions.  Other efforts though, have detained foreigners and US citizens for years without any charges being filed.  The government alleges that some of these detainees were fighting for Al Qaeda and aiding the enemy.  If this were the case, why weren’t they leveling charges?  If their allegations cannot hold up in a court, they should let the “terrorist” go.

In a separate effort, the Federal Government, led by agents from the FBI and IRS have been raiding homes of high profile individuals under the guise of “tax charges.”  Just recently, twenty agents raided the home of Barry Bonds’s trainer, Greg Anderson’s mother-in-law.  While this was clearly an intimidation technique to try and get Anderson to testify against Bonds, it was completely legal in the government’s eyes because of “tax charges.”  If they sent 20 agents to her house, then hundreds must have surely shown up at Tim Geithner and Tom Daschle’s homes, right?

Another example of the Federal Government’s new authority to raid the homes of private citizens has been playing out in family or co-op farms in the Midwest.  In Ohio, a family was raided by federal agents from the Food and Drug Administration because they were selling organic produce without the proper permits.  The agents seized the food from the co-op and food that belonged to the family.  They also took the family’s computer and went through all of their belongings.  Couldn’t they have just issued them a letter or met with the family?  Was this force necessary?  The scary part is that the government believed they were acting within the law.

So, now we’ve established that the government can spy on you  and detain you indefinitely if they think you are a terrorist, and they can raid your home and seize your property on bogus charges.

This now takes us to a case in a town near me, Tustin, California, where a Muslim man was arrested by Federal Agents on immigration fraud charges.  However, the entire story revolves around this man and how he donated money to a charity that was sympathetic to Al Qaeda, how his brother-in-law at one point was an associate of Osama bin Laden, and how this man said on a wiretapped phone conversation that bin Laden was “an angel.”  The agents raided his home and went through and seized his belongings and financial statements.  All this for lying on his immigration papers? The real reason is because they are going after him for being a “terrorist” but they do not have enough evidence to convict him.

While I do not know what the outcome of the trial will be.  If he indeed lied on his papers, then he should be punished.  The actions of the government though, allowing them to spy on us and raid our homes for reasons completely unrelated to what we are being charged.  It’s like getting a speeding ticket and having the government come and raid your home and take your computer for it.  It might keep us safe a fraction of the time, but it encroaches on all of our civil rights the majority of it.

So far though, most of the spying was relegated to “terrorists.”  Just yesterday though, I read a new DHS report about “right wing extremists” and how they could be forming militias in response to the bailouts and the recession we’re in.  The DHS was warning local law enforcement to be on the lookout for them.  These extremists would recruit soldiers returning from Iraq and turn them against the government.  In order for the DHS to look unbiased, they also said that they are investigating left-wing groups as well.  So, as long as you’re spying on both groups, it’s okay?

The question now, and what all this has been building towards, is “at what point do these ‘extremists’ become ‘terrorists’ in the government’s eyes?”  If the government went after someone for calling Osama bin Laden an “angel” in a private conversation, will they go after Rush Limbaugh for wanting Obama to fail?  Will they raid supporters of Ron Paul who believe in the Constitution and small government?  Will anyone who disagrees with Washington a “terrorist”?

We are told they are there to keep us safe, but government will almost always abuse their powers and overstep their limits.  The Justice Department came out with a report today saying the DHS survelliance program has violated the law by going past the legal bounds.  How are we supposed trust the government to keep us safe when they can be listening to your phone conversations or monitoring your internet use right now?  We need to wake up and see these police state measures as the violations of our rights that they really are.

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