‘Minority Report’ Is 40 Years Ahead Of Schedule: The Fictional World Has Become Reality

“The Internet is watching us now. If they want to. They can see what sites you visit. In the future, television will be watching us, and customizing itself to what it knows about us. The thrilling thing is, that will make us feel we’re part of the medium. The scary thing is, we’ll lose our right to privacy. An ad will appear in the air around us, talking directly to us.”—Director Steven Spielberg, Minority Report

We are a scant 40 years away from the futuristic world that science fiction author Philip K. Dick envisioned for Minority Report, in which the government is all-seeing, all-knowing and all-powerful; and if you dare to step out of line, dark-clad police SWAT teams will crack a few skulls to bring the populace under control.

Unfortunately, as I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we may have already arrived at the year 2054.

Increasingly, the world around us resembles Dick’s dystopian police state in which the police combine widespread surveillance, behavior prediction technologies, data mining and precognitive technology to capture would-be criminals before they can do any damage. In other words, the government’s goal is to prevent crimes before they happen: precrime.

For John Anderton (played by Tom Cruise), Chief of the Department of Pre-Crime in Washington, DC, the technology that he relies on for his predictive policing proves to be fallible, identifying him as the next would-be criminal and targeting him for preemptive measures. Consequently, Anderton finds himself not only attempting to prove his innocence, but forced to take drastic measures in order to avoid capture in a surveillance state that uses biometric data and sophisticated computer networks to track its citizens.

Seemingly taking its cue from science fiction, technology has moved so fast in the short time since Minority Report premiered in 2002 that what once seemed futuristic no longer occupies the realm of science fiction. Incredibly, as the various nascent technologies employed and shared by the government and corporations alike—facial recognition, iris scanners, massive databases, behavior prediction software, and so on—are incorporated into a complex, interwoven cyber network aimed at tracking our movements, predicting our thoughts and controlling our behavior, Spielberg’s unnerving vision of the future is fast becoming our reality.

Examples abound.

FICTION: In Minority Report, police use holographic data screens, city-wide surveillance cameras, dimensional maps and database feeds to monitor the movements of its citizens.

REALITY CHECK: Microsoft, in a partnership with New York City, has developed a crime-fighting system that “will allow police to quickly collate and visualise vast amounts of data from cameras, licence plate readers, 911 calls, police databases and other sources. It will then display the information in real time, both visually and chronologically, allowing investigators to centralise information about crimes as they happen or are reported.”

FICTION: No matter where people go in the world of Minority Report, one’s biometric data precedes them, allowing corporations to tap into their government profile and target them for advertising based on their highly individual characteristics. So fine-tuned is the process that it goes way beyond gender and lifestyle to mood detection, so that while Anderton flees through a subway station and then later a mall, the stores and billboards call out to him with advertising geared at his interests and moods. Eventually, in an effort to outwit the identification scanners, Anderton opts for surgery to have his eyeballs replaced.

REALITY CHECK: Google is working on context-based advertising that will use environmental sensors in your cell phone, laptop, etc., to deliver “targeted ads tailored to fit with what you’re seeing and hearing in the real world.” However, long before Google set their sights on context advertising, facial and iris recognition machines were being employed, ostensibly to detect criminals, streamline security checkpoints processes, and facilitate everyday activities. For example, in preparing to introduce such technology in the United States, the American biometrics firm Global Rainmakers Inc. (GRI) turned the city of Leon, Mexico, into a virtual police state by installing iris scanners, which can scan the irises of 30-50 people per minute, throughout the city.

Police departments around the country have begun using the Mobile Offender Recognition and Information System, or MORIS, a physical iPhone add-on that allows police officers patrolling the streets to scan the irises and faces of suspected criminals and match them against government databases. In fact, in 2014, the FBI launched a nationwide database of iris scans for use by law enforcement agencies in their efforts to track criminals.

Corporations, as well, are beginning to implement eye-tracking technology in their tablets, smartphones, and computers. It will allow companies to track which words and phrases the user tends to re-read, hover on, or avoid, which can give insight into what she is thinking. This will allow advertisers to expand on the information they glean from tracking users’ clicks, searches, and online purchases, expanding into the realm of trying to guess what a user is thinking based upon their eye movements, and advertise accordingly. This information as it is shared by the corporate elite with the police will come in handy for police agencies as well, some of which are working on developing predictive analysis of “blink rates, pupil dilation, and deception.”

In ideal conditions, facial-recognition software is accurate 99.7 percent of the time. We are right around the corner from billboards capable of identifying passersby, and IBM has already been working on creating real world advertisements that react to people based upon RFID chips embedded in licenses and credit cards.

FICTION: In Minority Report, John Anderton’s Pre-Crime division utilizes psychic mutant humans to determine when a crime will take place next.

REALITY CHECK: While no psychic mutants are powering the government’s predictive policing efforts, the end result remains the same: a world in which crimes are prevented through the use of sophisticated data mining, surveillance, community policing and precrime. For instance, police in major American cities have been test-driving a tool that allows them to identify individuals—or groups of individuals—most likely to commit a crime in a given community. Those individuals are then put on notice that their movements and activities will be closely monitored, and any criminal activity (by them or their associates) will result in harsh penalties.  In other words, you are guilty before you are given any chance to prove you are innocent.

The Department of Homeland Security is also working on its Future Attribute Screening Technology, or FAST, which will utilize a number of personal factors such as “ethnicity, gender, breathing, and heart rate to ‘detect cues indicative of mal-intent.’”

FICTION: In Minority Report, government agents use “sick sticks” to subdue criminal suspects using less-lethal methods.

REALITY CHECK: A variety of less-lethal weapons have been developed in the years since Minority Report hit theaters. In 2007, the Department of Homeland Security granted a contract to Intelligent Optical Systems, Inc., for an “LED Incapacitator,” a flashlight-like device that emits a dazzling array of pulsating lights, incapacitating its target by causing nausea and vomiting. Raytheon has created an “Assault Intervention Device” which is basically a heat ray that causes an unbearable burning sensation on its victim’s skin. The Long Range Acoustic Device, which emits painful noises in order to disperse crowds, has been seen at the London Olympics and G20 protests in Pittsburgh.

FICTION: A hacker captures visions from the “precog” Agatha’s mind and plays them for John Anderton.

REALITY CHECK: While still in its infancy, technology that seeks to translate human thoughts into computer actions is slowly becoming a reality. Jack Gallant, a neuroscientist at UC Berkeley, and his research team have created primitive software capable of translating the thoughts of viewers into reconstructed visual images. A company named Emotiv is developing technology which will be capable of reading a user’s thoughts and using them as inputs for operating machinery, like voice recognition but with brain signals. Similar devices are being created to translate thoughts into speech.

FICTION: In Minority Report, tiny sensory-guided spider robots converge on John Anderton, scan his biometric data and feed it into a central government database.

REALITY CHECK: An agency with the Department of Defense is working on turning insects into living UAVs, or “cybugs.” By expanding upon the insects’ natural abilities (e.g., bees’ olfactory abilities being utilized for bomb detection, etc.), government agents hope to use these spy bugs to surreptitiously gather vast quantities of information. Researchers eventually hope to outfit June beetles with tiny backpacks complete with various detection devices, microphones, and cameras. These devices could be powered by the very energy produced by the bugs beating their wings, or the heat they give off while in flight. There have already been reported sightings of dragonfly-like robotic drones monitoring protesters aerially in Washington, DC, as early as 2007.

FICTION: In Minority Report, Anderton flees his pursuers in a car whose movements are tracked by the police through the use of onboard computers. All around him, autonomous, driver-less vehicles zip through the city, moving people to their destinations based upon simple voice commands.

REALITY CHECK: Congress is now requiring that all new cars come equipped with event data recorders that can record and transmit data from onboard computers. Similarly, insurance companies are offering discounts to drivers who agree to have tracking bugs installed. Google has also created self-driving cars which have already surpassed 300,000 miles of road testing. It is anticipated that self-driving cars could be on American roads within the next 20 years, if not sooner.

These are but a few of the technological devices now in the hands of those who control the corporate police state. Fiction, in essence, has become fact—albeit, a rather frightening one.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

Forget The New World Order; Here’s Who Really Runs The World

(ANTIMEDIA) For decades, extreme ideologies on both the left and the right have clashed over the conspiratorial concept of a shadowy secret government pulling the strings on the world’s heads of state and captains of industry.

The phrase New World Order is largely derided as a sophomoric conspiracy theory entertained by minds that lack the sophistication necessary to understand the nuances of geopolitics. But it turns out the core idea — one of deep and overarching collusion between Wall Street and government with a globalist agenda — is operational in what a number of insiders call the “Deep State.”

In the past couple of years, the term has gained traction across a wide swath of ideologies. Former Republican congressional aide Mike Lofgren says it is the nexus of Wall Street and the national security state — a relationship where elected and unelected figures join forces to consolidate power and serve vested interests. Calling it “the big story of our time,” Lofgren says the deep state represents the failure of our visible constitutional government and the cross-fertilization of corporatism with the globalist war on terror.

“It is a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies: the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department. I also include the Department of the Treasury because of its jurisdiction over financial flows, its enforcement of international sanctions and its organic symbiosis with Wall Street,” he explained.

Even parts of the judiciary, namely the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, belong to the deep state.

How does the deep state operate?

A complex web of revolving doors between the military-industrial-complex, Wall Street, and Silicon Valley consolidates the interests of defense contracts, banksters, military actions, and both foreign and domestic surveillance intelligence.

According to Mike Lofgren and many other insiders, this is not a conspiracy theory. The deep state hides in plain sight and goes far beyond the military-industrial complex President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned about in his farewell speech over fifty years ago.

While most citizens are at least passively aware of the surveillance state and collusion between the government and the corporate heads of Wall Street, few people are aware of how much the intelligence functions of the government have been outsourced to privatized groups that are not subject to oversight or accountability. According to Lofgren, 70% of our intelligence budget goes to contractors.

Moreover, while Wall Street and the federal government suck money out of the economy, relegating tens of millions of people to food stamps and incarcerating more people than China — a totalitarian state with four times more people than us — the deep state has, since 9/11, built the equivalent of three Pentagons, a bloated state apparatus that keeps defense contractors, intelligence contractors, and privatized non-accountable citizens marching in stride.

After years of serving in Congress, Lofgren’s moment of truth regarding this matter came in 2001. He observed the government appropriating an enormous amount of money that was ostensibly meant to go to Afghanistan but instead went to the Persian Gulf region. This, he says, “disenchanted” him from the groupthink, which, he says, keeps all of Washington’s minions in lockstep.

Groupthink — an unconscious assimilation of the views of your superiors and peers — also works to keep Silicon Valley funneling technology and information into the federal surveillance state. Lofgren believes the NSA and CIA could not do what they do without Silicon Valley. It has developed a de facto partnership with NSA surveillance activities, as facilitated by a FISA court order.

Now, Lofgren notes, these CEOs want to complain about foreign market share and the damage this collusion has wrought on both the domestic and international reputation of their brands. Under the pretense of pseudo-libertarianism, they helmed a commercial tech sector that is every bit as intrusive as the NSA. Meanwhile, rigging of the DMCA intellectual property laws — so that the government can imprison and fine citizens who jailbreak devices — behooves Wall Street. It’s no surprise that the government has upheld the draconian legislation for 15 years.

It is also unsurprising that the growth of the corporatocracy aids the deep state. The revolving door between government and Wall Street money allows top firms to offer premium jobs to senior government officials and military yes-men. This, says Philip Giraldi, a former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer for the CIA, explains how the Clintons left the White House nearly broke but soon amassed $100 million. It also explains how former general and CIA Director David Petraeus, who has no experience in finance, became a partner at the KKR private equity firm, and how former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell became Senior Counselor at Beacon Global Strategies.

Wall Street is the ultimate foundation for the deep state because the incredible amount of money it generates can provide these cushy jobs to those in the government after they retire. Nepotism reigns supreme as the revolving door between Wall Street and government facilitates a great deal of our domestic strife:

“Bank bailouts, tax breaks, and resistance to legislation that would regulate Wall Street, political donors, and lobbyists. The senior government officials, ex-generals, and high level intelligence operatives who participate find themselves with multi-million dollar homes in which to spend their retirement years, cushioned by a tidy pile of investments,” said Giraldi.

How did the deep state come to be?

Some say it is the evolutionary hybrid offspring of the military-industrial complex, while others say it came into being with the Federal Reserve Act, even before the First World War. At this time, Woodrow Wilson remarked,

“We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated governments in the civilized world, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men.”

This quasi-secret cabal pulling the strings in Washington and much of America’s foreign policy is maintained by a corporatist ideology that thrives on deregulation, outsourcing, deindustrialization, and financialization. American exceptionalism, or the great “Washington Consensus,” yields perpetual war and economic imperialism abroad while consolidating the interests of the oligarchy here at home.

Mike Lofgren says this government within a government operates off tax dollars but is not constrained by the constitution, nor are its machinations derailed by political shifts in the White House. In this world — where the deep state functions with impunity — it doesn’t matter who is president so long as he or she perpetuates the war on terror, which serves this interconnected web of corporate special interests and disingenuous geopolitical objectives.

“As long as appropriations bills get passed on time, promotion lists get confirmed, black (i.e., secret) budgets get rubber stamped, special tax subsidies for certain corporations are approved without controversy, as long as too many awkward questions are not asked, the gears of the hybrid state will mesh noiselessly,” according to Mike Lofgren in an interview with Bill Moyers.

Interestingly, according to Philip Giraldi, the ever-militaristic Turkey has its own deep state, which uses overt criminality to keep the money flowing. By comparison, the U.S. deep state relies on a symbiotic relationship between banksters, lobbyists, and defense contractors, a mutant hybrid that also owns the Fourth Estate and Washington think tanks.

Is there hope for the future?

Perhaps. At present, discord and unrest continues to build. Various groups, establishments, organizations, and portions of the populace from all corners of the political spectrum, including Silicon Valley, Occupy, the Tea Party, Anonymous, WikiLeaks, anarchists and libertarians from both the left and right, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and others are beginning to vigorously question and reject the labyrinth of power wielded by the deep state.

Can these groups — can we, the people — overcome the divide and conquer tactics used to quell dissent? The future of freedom may depend on it.

This article (Forget the New World Order, Here’s Who Really Runs the World) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Jake Anderson and theAntiMedia.org.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

Flying Is About To Become Much More Of A Hassle For Residents Of These 4 States

Image for representational purposes only.

Residents of four states and one American territory may find getting through security checkpoints at US airports more challenging if the Department of Homeland Security goes forward with its plan to enforce REAL ID requirements in 2016.

Under the provisions of the REAL ID Act passed in 2005 in response to the 9/11 Commission’s findings, states are required to meet certain federal standards with their driver’s licenses in order for them to be a valid form of identification for airline travel. If drivers licenses do not meet those standards, travelers must provide a second form of ID: passport, birth certificate, etc. to verify their identify.

So far, 46 states have implemented the requirements of the REAL ID Act; however, New York, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Louisiana, and American Samoa have not. 

States that have refused to implement the REAL ID Act requirements cite privacy and sovereignty concerns.

New Hampshire’s Concord-Monitor reports: “Under REAL ID, states must share all license data including digital photos, into a single database, raising concerns that the licenses would effectively become a national ID card.” A bill to implement the law’s requirements was killed in committee last year. 

In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal veto a bill to implement REAL ID last year, as well. “The Eagle Form, the Louisiana Family Forum and the Tea Party of Louisiana have asked for a veto due to concerns about whether it will compromise Louisiana’s sovereignty over what is fundamentally a state method of identification,” the governor said in his veto message.

According to the Times-Picayune, “Marjorie Esman, executive director of the ACLU and ACLU Foundation of Louisiana, joined forces with the Tea Party and other groups to oppose the 2014 legislation to implement the Real ID law in Louisiana.”

“‘REAL ID creates a national ID card that has nothing to do with the ability to drive and everything to do with government snooping on innocent people,’ Esman said in an email… ‘We don’t need that, and never have. If it were so essential to national security, it would have been enforced years ago.’”

Some of the requirements for a REAL ID card include:

  • Full legal name
  • Signature
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • Unique, identifying number
  • Principal residence address
  • Front-facing photograph of the applicant.

The cards must also include specific security features intended to prevent fraud or duplication, and must present data in a common, machine-readable format (bar codes, smart card technology, etc.).

h/t: Time

The Crisis Of The Now: Distracted And Diverted From The Ever-Encroaching Police State

“When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby talk, when, in short, a people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk: culture-death is a clear possibility.”—Author Neil Postman

Caught up in the spectacle of the forthcoming 2016 presidential elections, Americans (never very good when it comes to long-term memory) have not only largely forgotten last year’s hullabaloo over militarized police, police shootings of unarmed citizens, asset forfeiture schemes, and government surveillance–but are also generally foggy about everything that has happened since.

Then again, so much is happening on a daily basis that it’s understandable if the average American has a hard time keeping up with and remembering all of the “events,” manufactured or otherwise, which occur like clockwork and keep us distracted, deluded, amused, and insulated from reality while the government continues to amass more power and authority over the citizenry.

In fact, when we’re being bombarded with wall-to-wall news coverage and news cycles that change every few days, it’s difficult to stay focused on one thing—namely, holding the government accountable to abiding by the rule of law—and the powers-that-be understand this. As investigative journalist Mike Adams points out:

This psychological bombardment is waged primarily via the mainstream media which assaults the viewer by the hour with images of violence, war, emotions and conflict. Because the human nervous system is hard wired to focus on immediate threats accompanied by depictions of violence, mainstream media viewers have their attention and mental resources funneled into the never-ending ‘crisis of the NOW’ from which they can never have the mental breathing room to apply logic, reason or historical context.

Consider if you will the regularly scheduled trivia and/or distractions in the past year alone that have kept us tuned into the various breaking news headlines and entertainment spectacles–and tuned out to the government’s steady encroachments on our freedoms:

Americans were riveted when the Republican presidential contenders went head-to-head for the second time in a three-hour debate that put Carly Fiorina in a favored position behind Donald Trump; Hillary Clinton presented the softer side of her campaign image during an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon; scientists announced the discovery of what they believed to be a new pre-human species, Homo naledi, that existed 2.8 million years ago; an 8.3 magnitude earthquake hit Chile; massive wildfires burned through 73,000 acres in California; a district court judge reversed NFL player Tom Brady’s four-game suspension; tennis superstar Serena Williams lost her chance at a calendar grand slam; and President Obama and Facebook mogul Mark Zuckerberg tweeted their support for a Texas student arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school.

That was preceded by the first round of the Republican presidential debates; an immigration crisis in Europe; the relaxing of Cuba-U.S. relations; the first two women soldiers graduating from an Army Ranger course; and three Americans being hailed as heroes for thwarting a train attack in France. Before that, there was the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse; shootings at a military recruiting center in Tennessee and a movie theater in Louisiana; the Boy Scouts’ decision to end its ban on gay adult leaders; the first images sent by the New Horizons spacecraft of Pluto; and the victory over Japan of the U.S. in the Women’s World Cup soccer finals.

No less traumatic and distracting were the preceding months’ newsworthy events, which included a shooting at a Charleston, S.C., church; the trial and sentencing of Boston Marathon bomber suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev; the U.S. Supreme Court’s affirmation of same-sex marriage, Obamacare, lethal injection drugs and government censorship of Confederate flag license plates; and an Amtrak train crash in Philadelphia that left more than 200 injured and eight dead.

Also included in the mix of distressing news coverage was the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray while in police custody and the subsequent riots in Baltimore and city-wide lockdown; the damning report by the Dept. of Justice into discriminatory and abusive practices by the Ferguson police department; the ongoing saga of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account while serving as secretary of state; the apparently deliberate crash by a copilot of a German jetliner in the French Alps, killing all 150 passengers and crew; the New England Patriots’ fourth Super Bowl win; a measles outbreak in Disneyland; the escalating tensions between New York police and Mayor Bill de Blasio over his seeming support for anti-police protesters; and a terror attack at the Paris office of satire magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Rounding out the year’s worth of headline-worthy new stories were protests over grand jury refusals to charge police for the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown; the disappearance of an AirAsia flight over the Java Sea; an Ebola outbreak that results in several victims being transported to the U.S. for treatment; reports of domestic violence among NFL players; a security breach at the White House in which a man managed to jump the fence, cross the lawn and enter the main residence; and the reported beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff by ISIS.

That doesn’t even begin to touch on the spate of entertainment news that tends to win the battle for Americans’ attention: Bruce Jenner’s transgender transformation to Caitlyn Jenner; the death of Whitney Houston’s daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown; Kim Kardashian’s “break the internet” nude derriere photo; sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby; the suicide of Robin Williams; the cancellation of the comedy The Interview in movie theaters after alleged terror hack threats; the wedding of George Clooney to Amal Alamuddin; the wedding of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt; the ALS ice bucket challenge; and the birth of a baby girl to Prince William and Kate.

As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, these sleight-of-hand distractions, diversions and news spectacles are how the corporate elite controls a population by entrapping them in the “crisis of the NOW,” either inadvertently or intentionally, advancing their agenda without much opposition from the citizenry.

Professor Jacques Ellul studied this phenomenon of overwhelming news, short memories and the use of propaganda to advance hidden agendas. “One thought drives away another; old facts are chased by new ones,” wrote Ellul.

“Under these conditions there can be no thought. And, in fact, modern man does not think about current problems; he feels them. He reacts, but he does not understand them any more than he takes responsibility for them. He is even less capable of spotting any inconsistency between successive facts; man’s capacity to forget is unlimited. This is one of the most important and useful points for the propagandists, who can always be sure that a particular propaganda theme, statement, or event will be forgotten within a few weeks.”

But what exactly has the government (aided and abetted by the mainstream media) been doing while we’ve been so cooperatively fixated on whatever current sensation happens to be monopolizing the so-called “news” shows?

If properly disclosed, consistently reported on and properly digested by the citizenry, the sheer volume of the government’s activities, which undermine the Constitution and in many instances are outright illegal, would inevitably give rise to a sea change in how business is conducted in our seats of power.

Surely Americans would be concerned about the Obama administration’s plans to use behavioral science tactics to “nudge” citizens to comply with the government’s public policy and program initiatives? There would be no end to the uproar if Americans understood the ramifications of the government’s plan to train non-medical personnel—teachers, counselors and other lay people—in “mental first aid” in order to train them to screen, identify and report individuals suspected of suffering from mental illness. The problem, of course, arises when these very same mental health screeners misdiagnose opinions or behavior involving lawful First Amendment activities as a mental illness, resulting in involuntary detentions in psychiatric wards for the unfortunate victims.

Parents would be livid if they had any inkling about the school-to-prison pipeline, namely, how the public schools are being transformed from institutions of learning to prison-like factories, complete with armed police and surveillance cameras, aimed at churning out compliant test-takers rather than independent-minded citizens. And once those same young people reach college, they will be indoctrinated into believing that they have a “right” to be free from acts and expressions of intolerance with which they might disagree.

Concerned citizens should be up in arms over the government’s end-run tactics to avoid abiding by the rule of law, whether by outsourcing illegal surveillance activities to defense contractors, outsourcing inhumane torture to foreign countries, causing American citizens to disappear into secret interrogation facilities, or establishing policies that would allow the military to indefinitely detain any citizen—including journalists—considered a belligerent or enemy.

And one would hope American citizens would be incensed about being treated like prisoners in an electronic concentration camp, their every movement monitored, tracked and recorded by a growing government surveillance network that runs the gamut from traffic cameras and police body cameras to facial recognition software. Or outraged that we will be forced to fund a $93 billion drone industry that will be used to spy on our movements and activities, not to mention the fact that private prisons are getting rich (on our taxpayer dollars) by locking up infants, toddlers, children and pregnant women?

Unfortunately, while 71% of American voters are “dissatisfied” with the way things are going in the United States, that discontent has yet to bring about any significant changes in the government; nor has it caused the citizenry to get any more involved in their government beyond the ritualistic election day vote.

Professor Morris Berman suggests that the problems plaguing us as a nation—particularly as they relate to the government—have less to do with our inattention to corruption than our sanctioning, tacit or not, of such activities. “It seems to me,” writes Berman, “that the people do get the government they deserve, and even beyond that, the government who they are, so to speak.”

In other words, if we end up with a militarized police state, it will largely be because we welcomed it with open arms. In fact, according to a recent poll, almost a third of Americans would support a military coup “to take control from a civilian government which is beginning to violate the constitution.”

So where does that leave us?

As legendary television journalist Edward R. Murrow warned, “Unless we get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse, and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it, and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late.”


The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

Public School Students Are The New Inmates In The American Police State

“Every day in communities across the United States, children and adolescents spend the majority of their waking hours in schools that have increasingly come to resemble places of detention more than places of learning. From metal detectors to drug tests, from increased policing to all-seeing electronic surveillance, the public schools of the twenty-first century reflect a society that has become fixated on crime, security and violence.”—Investigative journalist Annette Fuentes

In the American police state, you’re either a prisoner (shackled, controlled, monitored, ordered about, limited in what you can do and say, your life not your own) or a prison bureaucrat (police officer, judge, jailer, spy, profiteer, etc.).

Indeed, at a time when we are all viewed as suspects, there are so many ways in which a person can be branded a criminal for violating any number of laws, regulations or policies. Even if you haven’t knowingly violated any laws, there is still a myriad of ways in which you can run afoul of the police state and end up on the wrong side of a jail cell.

Unfortunately, when you’re a child in the American police state, life is that much worse.

Microcosms of the police state, America’s public schools contain almost every aspect of the militarized, intolerant, senseless, overcriminalized, legalistic, surveillance-riddled, totalitarian landscape that plagues those of us on the “outside.”

From the moment a child enters one of the nation’s 98,000 public schools to the moment she graduates, she will be exposed to a steady diet of draconian zero tolerance policies that criminalize childish behavior, overreaching anti-bullying statutes that criminalize speech, school resource officers (police) tasked with disciplining and/or arresting so-called “disorderly” students, standardized testing that emphasizes rote answers over critical thinking, politically correct mindsets that teach young people to censor themselves and those around them, and extensive biometric and surveillance systems that, coupled with the rest, acclimate young people to a world in which they have no freedom of thought, speech or movement.

If your child is fortunate enough to survive his encounter with the public schools, you should count yourself fortunate.

Most students are not so lucky.

By the time the average young person in America finishes their public school education, nearly one out of every three of them will have been arrested.

More than 3 million students are suspended or expelled from schools every year, often for minor misbehavior such as “disruptive behavior” or “insubordination.” Black students are three times more likely than white students to face suspension and expulsion.

For instance, a Virginia sixth grader, the son of two school teachers and a member of the school’s gifted program, was suspended for a year after school officials found a leaf (likely a maple leaf) in his backpack that they suspected was marijuana. Despite the fact that the leaf in question was not marijuana (a fact that officials knew almost immediately), the 11-year-old was still kicked out of school, charged with marijuana possession in juvenile court, enrolled in an alternative school away from his friends, subjected to twice-daily searches for drugs, and forced to be evaluated for substance abuse problems.

As the Washington Post warns: “It doesn’t matter if your son or daughter brings a real pot leaf to school, or if he brings something that looks like a pot leaf—okra, tomato, maple, buckeye, etc. If your kid calls it marijuana as a joke, or if another kid thinks it might be marijuana, that’s grounds for expulsion.”

Many state laws require that schools notify law enforcement whenever a student is found with an “imitation controlled substance,” basically anything that look likes a drug but isn’t actually illegal. As a result, students have been suspended for bringing to school household spices such as oregano, breath mints, birth control pills and powdered sugar.

It’s not just look-alike drugs that can get a student in trouble under school zero tolerance policies. Look-alike weapons (toy guns—even Lego-sized ones, hand-drawn pictures of guns, pencils twirled in a “threatening” manner, imaginary bows and arrows, even fingers positioned like guns) can also land a student in detention.

Acts of kindness, concern or basic manners can also result in suspensions. One 13-year-old was given detention for exposing the school to “liability” by sharing his lunch with a hungry friend. A third grader was suspended for shaving her head in sympathy for a friend who had lost her hair to chemotherapy. And then there was the high school senior who was suspended for saying “bless you” after a fellow classmate sneezed.

Unfortunately, while these may appear to be isolated incidents, they are indicative of a nationwide phenomenon in which children are treated like suspects and criminals, especially within the public schools.

The schools have become a microcosm of the American police state, right down to the host of surveillance technologies, including video cameras, finger and palm scanners, iris scanners, as well as RFID and GPS tracking devices, employed to keep constant watch over their student bodies.

Making matters worse are the police.

Students accused of being disorderly or noncompliant have a difficult enough time navigating the bureaucracy of school boards; but when you bring the police into the picture, after-school detention and visits to the principal’s office are transformed into punishments such as misdemeanor tickets, juvenile court, handcuffs, tasers and even prison terms.

In the absence of school-appropriate guidelines, police are more and more “stepping in to deal with minor rulebreaking—sagging pants, disrespectful comments, brief physical skirmishes. What previously might have resulted in a detention or a visit to the principal’s office was replaced with excruciating pain and temporary blindness, often followed by a trip to the courthouse.”

Thanks to a combination of media hype, political pandering and financial incentives, the use of armed police officers to patrol school hallways has risen dramatically in the years since the Columbine school shooting (nearly 20,000 by 2003). Funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, these school resource officers (SROs) have become de facto wardens in the elementary, middle and high schools, doling out their own brand of justice to the so-called “criminals” in their midst with the help of tasers, pepperspray, batons and brute force.

The horror stories are legion.

One SRO is accused of punching a 13-year-old student in the face for cutting the cafeteria line. That same cop put another student in a chokehold a week later, allegedly knocking the student unconscious and causing a brain injury. In Pennsylvania, a student was tased after ignoring an order to put his cell phone away.

Defending the use of handcuffs and pepper spray to subdue students, one Alabama police department reasoned that if they can employ such tactics on young people away from school, they should also be permitted to do so on campus.

Now, advocates for such harsh police tactics and weaponry will tell you that school safety should be our first priority lest we find ourselves with another Sandy Hook. What they will not tell you is that such shootings are rare. As one congressional report found, the schools are, generally speaking, safe places for children.

In their zeal to crack down on guns and lock down the schools, these cheerleaders for police state tactics in the schools might also fail to mention the lucrative, multi-million dollar deals being cut with military contractors such as Taser International to equip these school cops with tasers, tanks, rifles and $100,000 shooting detection systems.

Indeed, the transformation of hometown police departments into extensions of the military has been mirrored in the public schools, where school police have been gifted with high-powered M16 rifles, MRAP armored vehicles, grenade launchers, and other military gear. One Texas school district even boasts its own 12-member SWAT team.

According to one law review article on the school-to-prison pipeline, “Many school districts have formed their own police departments, some so large they rival the forces of major United States cities in size. For example, the safety division in New York City’s public schools is so large that if it were a local police department, it would be the fifth-largest police force in the country.”

The ramifications are far-reaching.

The term “school-to-prison pipeline” refers to a phenomenon in which children who are suspended or expelled from school have a greater likelihood of ending up in jail. One study found that “being suspended or expelled made a student nearly three times more likely to come into contact with the juvenile justice system within the next year.”

Not content to add police to their employee rosters, the schools have also come to resemble prisons, complete with surveillance cameras, metal detectors, drug-sniffing dogs, random locker searches and active shooter drills. The Detroit public schools boast a “‘$5.6 million 23,000-sq ft. state of the art Command Center’ and ‘$41.7 million district-wide security initiative’ including metal detectors and ID system where visitors’ names are checked against the sex offender registry.”

As if it weren’t bad enough that the nation’s schools have come to resemble prisons, the government is also contracting with private prisons to lock up our young people for behavior that once would have merited a stern lecture. Nearly 40 percent of those young people who are arrested will serve time in a private prison, where the emphasis is on making profits for large megacorporations above all else.

Private prisons, the largest among them being GEO and the Corrections Corporation of America, profit by taking over a state’s prison population for a fee. Many states, under contract with these private prisons, agree to keep the prisons full, which in turn results in more Americans being arrested, found guilty and jailed for nonviolent “crimes” such as holding Bible studies in their back yard. As the Washington Post points out, “With the growing influence of the prison lobby, the nation is, in effect, commoditizing human bodies for an industry in militant pursuit of profit… The influence of private prisons creates a system that trades money for human freedom, often at the expense of the nation’s most vulnerable populations: children, immigrants and the poor.”

This profit-driven system of incarceration has also given rise to a growth in juvenile prisons and financial incentives for jailing young people. Indeed, young people have become easy targets for the private prison industry, which profits from criminalizing childish behavior and jailing young people. For instance, two Pennsylvania judges made headlines when it was revealed that they had been conspiring with two businessmen in a $2.6 million “kids for cash” scandal that resulted in more than 2500 children being found guilty and jailed in for-profit private prisons.

It has been said that America’s schools are the training ground for future generations. Instead of raising up a generation of freedom fighters, however, we seem to be busy churning out newly minted citizens of the American police state who are being taught the hard way what it means to comply, fear and march in lockstep with the government’s dictates.

As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, with every school police raid and overzealous punishment that is carried out in the name of school safety, the lesson being imparted is that Americans—especially young people—have no rights at all against the state or the police.

I’ll conclude with one hopeful anecdote about a Philadelphia school dubbed the “Jones Jail” because of its bad reputation for violence among the student body. Situated in a desperately poor and dangerous part of the city, the John Paul Jones Middle School’s student body had grown up among drug users, drug peddlers, prostitutes and gun violence. “By middle school,” reports The Atlantic, most of these students “have witnessed more violence than most Americans who didn’t serve in a war ever will.”

According to investigative reporter Jeff Deeney, “School police officers patrolled the building at John Paul Jones, and children were routinely submitted to scans with metal detecting wands. All the windows were covered in metal grating and one room that held computers even had thick iron prison bars on its exterior… Every day… [police] would set up a perimeter of police officers on the blocks around the school, and those police were there to protect neighbors from the children, not to protect the children from the neighborhood.”

In other words, John Paul Jones, one of the city’s most dangerous schools, was a perfect example of the school-to-prison, police state apparatus at work among the nation’s youngest and most impressionable citizens.

When management of John Paul Jones was taken over by a charter school that opted to de-escalate the police state presence, stripping away the metal detectors and barred windows, local police protested. In fact, they showed up wearing Kevlar vests. Nevertheless, school officials remained determined to do away with institutional control and surveillance, as well as aggressive security guards, and focus on noncoercive, nonviolent conflict resolution with an emphasis on student empowerment, relationship building and anger management.

The result: a 90% drop in serious incidents—drug sales, weapons, assaults, rapes—in one year alone. As one fifth-grader remarked on the changes, “There are no more fights. There are no more police. That’s better for the community.”

The lesson for the rest of us is this: you not only get what you pay for, but you reap what you sow.

If you want a nation of criminals, treat the citizenry like criminals.

If you want young people who grow up seeing themselves as prisoners, run the schools like prisons.

But if you want to raise up a generation of freedom fighters, who will actually operate with justice, fairness, accountability and equality towards each other and their government, then run the schools like freedom forums. Remove the metal detectors and surveillance cameras, re-assign the cops elsewhere, and start treating our nation’s young people like citizens of a republic and not inmates in a police state.

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