Do We Really Need To Bring Back Internment Camps?

Last week, Retired General Wesley Clark, who was NATO commander during the U.S. bombing of Serbia, proposed that “disloyal Americans” be sent to internment camps for the “duration of the conflict.” Discussing the recent military base shootings in Chattanooga, TN, in which five US service members were killed, Clark recalled the internment of American citizens during World War II who were merely suspected of having Nazi sympathies. He said: “back then we didn’t say ‘that was freedom of speech,’ we put him in a camp.”

He called for the government to identify people most likely to be radicalized so we can “cut this off at the beginning.” That sounds like “pre-crime”!

Gen. Clark ran for president in 2004, and it’s probably a good thing he didn’t win considering what seems to be his disregard for the Constitution. Unfortunately in the current presidential race, Donald Trump even one-upped Clark, stating recently that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is a traitor and should be treated like one, implying that the government should kill him.

These statements and others like them most likely reflect the frustration felt in Washington over a 15 year war on terror where there has been no victory and where we actually seem worse off than when we started. The real problem is they will argue and bicker over changing tactics, but their interventionist strategy remains the same.

Retired Army Gen. Mike Flynn, who was head of the Defense Intelligence Agency during the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, told al-Jazeera this week that US drones create more terrorists than they kill. He said: “The more weapons we give, the more bombs we drop, that just … fuels the conflict.”

Still, Washington pursues the same strategy while expecting different results.

It is probably almost inevitable that the warhawks will turn their anger inward, toward Americans who are sick of the endless and costly wars. The U.S. loss of the Vietnam war is still blamed by many on the protesters at home rather than on the foolishness of the war based on a lie in the first place.

Let’s hope these threats from Clark and Trump are not a trial balloon leading to a clampdown on our liberties. There are a few reasons we should be concerned. Last week, the U.S. House passed a bill that would allow the Secretary of State to unilaterally cancel an American citizen’s passport if he determines that person has “aided” or “abetted” a terrorist organization. And as of this writing, the Senate is debating a highway funding bill that would allow the Secretary of State to cancel the passport of any American who owes too much money to the IRS.

Canceling a passport means removing the right to travel, which is a kind of virtual internment camp. The person would find his movements restricted, either being prevented from leaving or entering the United States. Neither of these measures involves any due process or possibility of appeal, and the government’s evidence supporting the action can be kept secret.

We should demand an end to these foolish wars that even the experts admit are making matters worse. Of course we need a strong defense, but we should not provoke the hatred of others through drones, bombs, or pushing regime change overseas. And we must protect our civil liberties here at home from government elites who increasingly view us as the enemy.

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

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

The American Nightmare: The Tyranny Of The Criminal Justice System

How can the life of such a man
Be in the palm of some fool’s hand?
To see him obviously framed
Couldn’t help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land
Where justice is a game.—Bob Dylan, “Hurricane

Justice in America is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Just ask Jeffrey Deskovic, who spent 16 years in prison for a rape and murder he did not commit. Despite the fact that Deskovic’s DNA did not match what was found at the murder scene, he was singled out by police as a suspect because he wept at the victim’s funeral (he was 16 years old at the time), then badgered over the course of two months into confessing his guilt. He was eventually paid $6.5 million in reparation.

James Bain spent 35 years in prison for the kidnapping and rape of a 9-year-old boy, but he too was innocent of the crime. Despite the fact that the prosecutor’s case was flimsy—it hinged on the similarity of Bain’s first name to the rapist’s, Bain’s ownership of a red motorcycle, and a misidentification of Bain in a lineup by a hysterical 9-year-old boy—Bain was sentenced to life in prison. He was finally freed after DNA testing proved his innocence, and was paid $1.7 million.

Mark Weiner got off relatively easy when you compare his experience to the thousands of individuals who are spending lifetimes behind bars for crimes they did not commit.

Weiner was wrongfully arrested, convicted, and jailed for more than two years for a crime he too did not commit. In his case, a young woman claimed Weiner had abducted her, knocked her out, and then sent taunting text messages to her boyfriend about his plans to rape her. Despite the fact that cell phone signals, eyewitness accounts, and expert testimony indicated the young woman had fabricated the entire incident, the prosecutor and judge repeatedly rejected any evidence contradicting the woman’s far-fetched account, sentencing Weiner to eight more years in jail. Weiner was only released after his accuser was caught selling cocaine to undercover cops.

In the meantime, Weiner lost his job, his home, and his savings, and time with his wife and young son. As Slatere porter journalist Dahlia Lithwick warned, “If anyone suggests that the fact that Mark Weiner was released this week means ‘the system works,’ I fear that I will have to punch him in the neck. Because at every single turn, the system that should have worked to consider proof of Weiner’s innocence failed him.”

The system that should have worked didn’t, because the system is broken, almost beyond repair.

In courtroom thrillers like 12 Angry Men and To Kill a Mockingbird, justice is served in the end because someone—whether it’s Juror #8 or Atticus Finch—chooses to stand on principle and challenge wrongdoing, and truth wins.

Unfortunately, in the real world, justice is harder to come by, fairness is almost unheard of, and truth rarely wins.

On paper, you may be innocent until proven guilty; but in actuality, you’ve already been tried, found guilty, and convicted by police officers, prosecutors, and judges long before you ever appear in a courtroom.

Chronic injustice has turned the American dream into a nightmare.

At every step along the way, whether it’s encounters with the police, dealings with prosecutors, hearings in court before judges and juries, or jail terms in one of the nation’s many prisons, the system is riddled with corruption, abuse, and an appalling disregard for the rights of the citizenry.

Due process rights afforded to a person accused of a crime—the right to remain silent, the right to be informed of the charges against you, the right to representation by counsel, the right to a fair trial, the right to a speedy trial, the right to prove your innocence with witnesses and evidence, the right to a reasonable bail, the right to not languish in jail before being tried, the right to confront your accusers, etc.—mean nothing when the government is allowed to sidestep those safeguards against abuse whenever convenient.

It’s telling that while President Obama said all the right things about the broken state of our criminal justice system—that we jail too many Americans for nonviolent crimes (we make up 5 percent of the world’s population, but our prison population constitutes nearly 25% of the world’s prisoners), that we spend more money on incarceration than any other nation ($80 billion a year), that we sentence people for longer jail terms than their crimes merit, that our criminal justice system is far from color-blind, that the nation’s school-to-prison pipeline is contributing to overcrowded jails, and that we need to focus on rehabilitation of criminals rather than retribution—he failed to own up to the government’s major role in contributing to this injustice in America.

Indeed, while Obama placed the responsibility for reform squarely in the hands of prosecutors, judges, and police, he failed to acknowledge that they bear the burden of our failed justice system, along with the legislatures and corporations who have worked with them to create an environment that is hostile to the rights of the accused.

In such a climate, we are all the accused, the guilty, and the suspect.

As I document in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we’re operating in a new paradigm where the citizenry are presumed guilty and treated as suspects, our movements tracked, our communications monitored, our property seized and searched, our bodily integrity disregarded, and our inalienable rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” rendered insignificant when measured against the government’s priorities.

Every American is now in jeopardy of being targeted and punished for a crime he did not commit thanks to an overabundance of arcane laws. Making matters worse, by allowing government agents to operate above the law, immune from wrongdoing, we have created a situation in which the law is one-sided and top-down, used as a hammer to oppress the populace, while useless in protecting us against government abuse.

Add to the mix a profit-driven system of incarceration in which state and federal governments agree to keep the jails full in exchange for having private corporations run the prisons, and you will find the only word to describe such a state of abject corruption is “evil.”

How else do you explain a system that allows police officers to shoot first and ask questions later, without any real consequences for their misdeeds? Despite the initial outcry over the shootings of unarmed individuals in Ferguson and Baltimore, the pace of police shootings has yet to slow. In fact, close to 400 people were shot and killed by police nationwide in the first half of 2015, almost two shootings a day. Those are just the shootings that were tracked. Of those killed, almost 1 in 6 were either unarmed or carried a toy gun.

For those who survive an encounter with the police only to end up on the inside of a jail cell, waiting for a “fair and speedy trial,” it’s often a long wait. Consider that 60 percent of the people in the nation’s jails have yet to be convicted of a crime. There are 2.3 million people in jails or prisons in America. Those who can’t afford bail, “some of them innocent, most of them nonviolent and a vast majority of them impoverished,” will spend about four months in jail before they even get a trial.

Not even that promised “day in court” is a guarantee that justice will be served.

As Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals points out, there are an endless number of factors that can render an innocent man or woman a criminal and caged for life: unreliable eyewitnesses, fallible forensic evidence, flawed memories, coerced confessions, harsh interrogation tactics, uninformed jurors, prosecutorial misconduct, falsified evidence, and overly harsh sentences, to name just a few.

In early 2015, the Justice Department and FBI “formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period…. The admissions mark a watershed in one of the country’s largest forensic scandals, highlighting the failure of the nation’s courts for decades to keep bogus scientific information from juries, legal analysts said.”

“How do rogue forensic scientists and other bad cops thrive in our criminal justice system?” asks Judge Kozinski. “The simple answer is that some prosecutors turn a blind eye to such misconduct because they’re more interested in gaining a conviction than achieving a just result.”

The power of prosecutors is not to be underestimated.

Increasingly, when we talk about innocent people being jailed for crimes they did not commit, the prosecutor plays a critical role in bringing about that injustice. AsThe Washington Post reports, “Prosecutors win 95 percent of their cases, 90 percent of them without ever having to go to trial…. Are American prosecutors that much better? No… it is because of the plea bargain, a system of bullying and intimidation by government lawyers for which they ‘would be disbarred in most other serious countries….’”

This phenomenon of innocent people pleading guilty makes a mockery of everything the criminal justice system is supposed to stand for: fairness, equality, and justice. As Judge Jed S. Rakoff concludes, “our criminal justice system is almost exclusively a system of plea bargaining, negotiated behind closed doors and with no judicial oversight. The outcome is very largely determined by the prosecutor alone.”

It’s estimated that between 2 and 8 percent of convicted felons who have agreed to a prosecutor’s plea bargain (remember, there are 2.3 million prisoners in America) are in prison for crimes they did not commit.

Clearly, the Coalition for Public Safety was right when it concluded: “You don’t need to be a criminal to have your life destroyed by the U.S. criminal justice system.”

It wasn’t always this way. As Judge Rakoff recounts, the Founding Fathers envisioned a criminal justice system in which the critical element “was the jury trial, which served not only as a truth-seeking mechanism and a means of achieving fairness, but also as a shield against tyranny.”

That shield against tyranny has long since been shattered, leaving Americans vulnerable to the cruelties, vanities, errors, ambitions, and greed of the government and its partners in crime.

There is not enough money in the world to make reparation to those whose lives have been disrupted by wrongful convictions.

Over the past quarter century, more than 1500 Americans have been released from prison after being cleared of crimes they did not commit. These are the fortunate ones. For every exonerated convict who is able to prove his innocence after 10, 20, or 30 years behind bars, Judge Kozinski estimates there may be dozens who are innocent but cannot prove it, lacking access to lawyers, evidence, money, and avenues of appeal.

For those who have yet to fully experience the injustice of the American system of justice, it’s only a matter of time.

America no longer operates under a system of justice characterized by due process, an assumption of innocence, probable cause, and clear prohibitions on government overreach and police abuse. Instead, our courts of justice have been transformed into courts of order, advocating for the government’s interests, rather than championing the rights of the citizenry, as enshrined in the Constitution.

Without courts willing to uphold the Constitution’s provisions when government officials disregard them, and a citizenry knowledgeable enough to be outraged when those provisions are undermined, the Constitution provides little protection against the police state.

In other words, in this age of hollow justice, courts of order, and government-sanctioned tyranny, the Constitution is no safeguard against government wrongdoing such as SWAT team raids, domestic surveillance, police shootings of unarmed citizens, indefinite detentions, asset forfeitures, prosecutorial misconduct, and the like.

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

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Down With The Constitution!

It has been quite an eventful and productive couple of weeks for the forces of statism in the former “land of the free, and home of the brave.”

The federal government’s highest court has enshrined “perversity” into law, guaranteeing untold amounts of future litigation while infringing on the right of freedom of association and, just as important, “disassociation” for those who rightly consider sodomy an abomination which wantonly mocks the Author of the natural law.

Prior to its cultural wrecking decision on “gay marriage,” the Court ensured that socialized medicine would become a permanent feature of American life, upholding a key provision of Obamacare.

While the Supreme Court was issuing its heinous decisions, the two other federal branches of government were also actively augmenting the American Leviathan. After considerable arm twisting, threats, payoffs, and a large dose of GOP support, President Obummer was able to secure passage of the TPA fast-track legislation–one of, if not, the greatest piece of “crony capitalism” legislation ever conceived. Of course, in the current statist era, the exact details of this monstrous law have not, as of yet, been made public; however, what has been made known is quite chilling.

While these liberty-defying acts were being committed, a prior provision of the American police state was renewed by Big Brother Barack and his Congressional Commissars. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which outlines the budget and expenditures of the U.S. DefenseOffense Department, has since 2012 contained the provision (section 1021) “which allows the Federal government, through military force, to arrest anyone, including American citizens, without a warrant, and hold them indefinitely without charges or due process – habeas corpus.”

Naturally, there was considerable outrage among freedom groups and those within the alternative media over the latest expansion of federal power. The responses, however, were typical with calls for “taking back the country from the globalists,” “restoring the Constitution,” and “electing liberty-loving candidates to office.” The latter cry was spoken about the most with the Presidential election around the corner, with some commentators speculating on which candidate could best “turn things around.”

Such talk and the tactics promoted to combat totalitarian America have been trumpeted so many times that they have long lost their appeal. They are not only worn out, but they would not work even if successfully implemented–simply because they are not directed at the source of the problem.

The recent judicial decisions, the many wars, the debasement of the currency, spying, the fomentation of racial violence, and the ruination of the economy are the result of a single institution – the United States federal government – which was surreptitiously created with the “ratification” of the Constitution in 1789 against, as most historians agree, the will of the American majority for which it would tyrannically rule over ever since.

“The Miracle at Philadelphia” was a “miracle” only in the sense that the event has been viewed as some sort of liberty-defining watershed where individual rights would be safeguarded and state power held in check by the Constitution. Few historical fantasies have been believed for so long!

Instead of a federated system where power is decentralized between national and local governments, the Constitution created a highly centralized state through the document’s often vague terminology “for the general welfare,” and its explicit grants of power–“federal statute is the supreme law of the land.”* The highly lauded system of “checks and balances” between the three branches of government have rarely, if ever, stemmed the growth of state power.

Yet, despite the suzerainty of the federal state, “patriots” and all those opposed to the regime still believe the system can be “reformed.” Even when the national government is controlled by those supposedly sympathetic to liberty, government power continues to expand while any previous welfare or draconian measure enacted are never curtailed, much less abolished.

Attempts at reform or working within the “political process” are a gigantic waste of time. Instead, such efforts should be directed at secession, the goal of which is the dismemberment of the Federal Union into sovereign, independent entities–the greater in number, the better.

Until the Constitution is recognized for what it is, the chances of ending the American police state, economic recovery, and the cessation of the myriad of global conflicts, wars, and hostilities in which the U.S. is actively fomenting are next to nil.

The dissolution of the U.S. “federated” Republic is not only necessary for the well-being of Americans, but for the peoples of the globe, millions of which have been murdered, intimidated, plundered, and spied upon by the Leviathan residing on the shores of the Potomac. Likewise, as the Constitution has served as a model in the development of nation states throughout the last three centuries, so its demise will provide an example for the rest of the world to hopefully emulate.

* Kenneth W. Royce, Hologram of Liberty: The Constitution’s Shocking Alliance with Big Government.  Javelin Press, 2nd ed., 2012, pp. 105-106.

Antonius Aquinas@AntoniusAquinas

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

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Per The Constitution, No, You Don’t Have The ‘Right’ To Do Whatever You Want

If people can define, grant and protect human rights, they also can redefine, constrain and/or eliminate them. If people can create equal living, learning, and economic environments, equal levels of human intelligence, athleticism, aptitude or any other quality, then people could redefine, alter, limit, or eliminate such classifications of equality.

However, if human rights are God-given, then human rights and equality of human beings pre-exist any manmade law. Human, civil, and legal rights would not be inherently and subjectively based on personal preferences, feelings, or choices– which frequently change.

Yet if the responsibility, privilege and duty to self-govern were given to people by God, then neither the government nor the people could “do whatever they want.” Human rights are not human creations; therefore, they cannot be taken away by people or leaders of any government.

Human rights, freedom, and liberty are given to, not made by, people. If people have not created rights, they cannot take them away.

Constitutional provisions were then predicated on limited political authority subjected to oversight and responsible self-governance by the people. The Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution to protect people from government overreach, even a government chosen by a majority of people. Limits exist for both people and the government– to protect the self-evident truths the Founders identified.

Thomas Jefferson stated in 1799:

FREE GOVERNMENT IS FOUNDED IN JEALOUSY, NOT CONFIDENCE.  IT IS JEALOUSY AND NOT CONFIDENCE WHICH PRESCRIBES LIMITED CONSTITUTIONS, TO BIND THOSE WE ARE OBLIGED TO TRUST WITH POWER…. IN QUESTIONS OF POWER, THEN, LET NO MORE BE HEARD OF CONFIDENCE IN MEN, BUT BIND HIM DOWN FROM MISCHIEF BY THE CHAINS OF THE CONSTITUTION.

James Madison wrote in Federalist no. 51: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.”

The Founders knew at some point that individuals, groups, and government leaders would attempt to limit or eliminate God-given inalienable rights. Even if a majority of people insisted that a particular policy be implemented, if the policy were unconstitutional it couldn’t be enacted or followed. Constitutional laws were predicated on unchanging principles to which all other laws must be subordinate.

Consider that the majority of German voters voted to bring Adolf Hitler to power. Germany’s constitution was legally changed; and initially, gradual political and legal changes were implemented:

  • Healthcare was nationalized;
  • the purpose of education was completely redefined as was curriculum and teaching methodology;
  • the police were militarized;
  • speech, the press, and religion were controlled and censored; certain speech, books, movies, and aspects of higher learning were banned;
  • controlled medical experiments on specific segments of the population became institutionalized; and
  • punishment was legally exacted through fines, imprisonment or the death penalty.

Certain groups of people were legally targeted, whose businesses were legally closed and whose private property was legally confiscated and given away against their will and without recompense. Those legally targeted were legally transported to a specific geographic area, prohibited from working or forced to work against their will, to later be imprisoned and eventually killed.

Nazi regulations were legally implemented and enforced. Their laws were also manmade predicated on manmade rights. German citizens and their rulers determined what right and wrong policies, and who good and bad citizens, were, as well as all of the subsequent implications and outcomes of these decisions.

In this way, human will, self-assertion, individual beliefs or feelings, and even simple desire for power or self-preservation defined human rights. Under German law, rights existed for certain citizens, not all citizens. And these rights changed.

According to the U.S. Constitution, human will, self-assertion, individual beliefs, and feelings do not provide any basis for human, civil, or legal rights. The Constitution specifically states that rights are a gift. Rights are given, and they are given by God. Rights are endowed by God, whom the Constitution identifies as the Creator of humans. The gifts of inalienable rights to life, liberty, and equality are given specifically as they relate to human nature.

The Constitution sustains the self-evident truth that rights are determined by what is given and by whom. Rights are not subjective or fluid. They are constant reminders that using them is a responsibility and privilege.

People can hold on to their gifts, hoard them, store them, hide them, give them away, trash them, lose them, or squander them. But those who safeguard and share them responsibly exemplify the best traits of human authority that serves the greater good.

 

This column was first published by Constitution.com.

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

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

The ‘Shall Not’s’ Of Congress

Universal human rights are determined by government restraint. In what areas of human life should the government not be involved? What areas of life must the government not regulate, not restrain, not limit, not oversee, not implement, not subsidize, and not legalize or make illegal?

Interestingly, the first five words of the Bill of Rights state what Congress cannot do: “Congress shall make no law… .”

Even more telling– the first ten amendments, with perhaps The Sixth as the exception, all define what the government cannot do:

  • First: “Shall make no law … prohibiting … abridging
  • Second: “Shall not be infringed”
  • Third: “No soldier shall … without the consent …”
  • Fourth: “Shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue …”
  • Fifth: “No person shall be held … nor shall any person be subject …”
  • Seventh: “Shall be preserved … No fact … shall be otherwise reexamined …”
  • Eighth: “Shall not be required … Nor excessive … imposed, nor … punishments inflicted”
  • Ninth: “shall not be construed to deny or disparage”
  • Tenth: “Not delegated … nor prohibited.”

The third, fifth, eighth, and tenth amendments don’t state “rights”; they state what authority the government does not have. In effect, limits on government are universal human rights. The Constitution outlines specific areas of human life that are off-limits to government. This suggests that there are certain aspects of human life which are fundamentally free.

The Constitution did not outline rights or prohibitions defined by a government that could later redefine them. It outlined rules to be followed by a self-ruling people in addition to separating and balancing political authority among the judiciary, legislative, and executive branches.

Despite the limits the Founders enumerated in the Constitution, their limits are still limited in their ability to constrain government overreach. Matters of conscience, especially as they relate to the First Amendment, dictate certain situations when citizens decide to not follow and/or disobey unjust laws. Interestingly, dissent in the form of collective actions of conscience (refusing to pay taxes, boycotting specific products, and armed resistance) characterized approximately one third of American colonists who fought for independence.

The Constitution was the result of a point in time that the Founding Fathers and Framers identified of a line they could not cross. They could not comply in good conscience– it would be immoral to comply– with the laws of a corrupt and tyrannical government. Christians joined them, citing New Testament directives, identifying that they also must only “obey God rather than men.”

They recognized they could not selectively disobey certain laws because the government itself could not be obeyed. They needed a new government. Rebellion and resistance were required because the ruling authorities had rebelled against God. The government had not only violated basic principles of justice but also had squandered God-given human rights, rendering itself illegitimate.

Thomas Jefferson asserted:

PRUDENCE, INDEED, WILL DICTATE THAT GOVERNMENTS LONG ESTABLISHED, SHOULD NOT BE CHANGED FOR LIGHT AND TRANSIENT CAUSES; AND, ACCORDINGLY, ALL EXPERIENCE [HAS] SHOWN THAT MANKIND ARE MORE DISPOSED TO SUFFER WHILE EVILS ARE SUFFERABLE THAN TO RIGHT THEMSELVES BY ABOLISHING THE FORMS TO WHICH THEY ARE ACCUSTOMED.

BUT, WHEN A LONG TRAIN OF ABUSES AND USURPATIONS,  PURSUING INVARIABLY THE SAME OBJECT, EVIDENCES A DESIGN TO REDUCE [THE PEOPLE] UNDER ABSOLUTE DESPOTISM, IT IS THEIR RIGHT, IT IS THEIR DUTY, TO THROW OFF SUCH GOVERNMENT, AND TO PROVIDE NEW GUARDS FOR THEIR FUTURE SECURITY.

Jefferson also said: “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.”

The Shall Nots were imperative to the Founders– they wanted to ensure that if Congress violated them, the people had just cause to rebel.

This column was first published on Constitution.com.

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

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth