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The Insecurity State PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 02 May 2013 05:17

(Editor’s note: This essay is a response to this commentary.)


The scene in Boston on April 18 and 19 was awesome.

By that, I don’t mean it was cool. Rather, the mass law-enforcement action to shut down the city and search for the brothers Tsarnaev was “awesome” in the dictionary sense of “awe”: “dread ... and wonder that is inspired by authority.”

In his commentary in the May 2 issue of the River Cities’ Reader, John W. Whitehead announces that the situation showed that “the police state has arrived.” Certainly, anybody who’s doubted warnings about the police state should have been struck by the swiftness, scope, coordination, and force of law-enforcement actions those two days following the bombs that exploded at the April 15 Boston Marathon. Even though television viewers didn’t see much beyond reporters breathlessly saying that something was happening, it was readily apparent that the combined resources of federal, state, and local law enforcement are a fearsome instrument that can be unleashed quickly and without regard for rights.

So if you have the misfortune of seeing your picture above “Suspect Number 1” or “Suspect Number 2” on TV, I hope you did something truly evil, as this is the man- and firepower you’ll face. And if you decline to let police search your home in a scenario similar to what happened in Boston, good luck.

But this was not a “police state” as most people think of it – a brutal, proactively oppressive regime. It would be more accurate to say that the Boston metro area on April 18 and 19 was a vivid demonstration of our potential for a police state through a single, short-lived, but widespread instance of de facto martial law.

Yet it was also a visible reminder of a more persistent underlying condition: the security state that has been built steadily in the United States since September 11, 2001. It’s ostensibly designed to prevent terrorist attacks, but it proved last month that it’s much more adept at responding to them.

Boston showed what our police state could look like. Now we need to decide whether it’s what we want.

 
“Boston Strong”: Marching in Lockstep with the Police State PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Thursday, 25 April 2013 11:06

(Editor’s note: A response essay to this commentary can be found here.)


“Of all the tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.” – C.S. Lewis

Caught up in the televised drama of a military-style manhunt for the suspects in the Boston Marathon explosion, most Americans fail to realize that the world around them has been suddenly and jarringly shifted off its axis, that axis being the U.S. Constitution.

For those such as myself who have studied emerging police states, the sight of a city placed under martial law leaves us in a growing state of unease. Its citizens were under house arrest (officials used the Orwellian phrase “shelter in place” to describe the mandatory lockdown), military-style helicopters equipped with thermal-imaging devices buzzed the skies, tanks and armored vehicles were on the streets, and snipers perched on rooftops, while thousands of black-garbed police swarmed the streets and SWAT teams carried out house-to-house searches in search of two young and seemingly unlikely bombing suspects.

Mind you, these are no longer warning signs of a steadily encroaching police state. The police state has arrived.

 
How the News Media Betrayed Us on Iraq PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Sheldon Richman   
Tuesday, 02 April 2013 16:34

The 10th anniversary of the start of America’s illegal and aggressive war against Iraq should not pass without recalling that the mainstream news media eagerly participated in the Bush administration’s dishonest campaign for public support. It is no exaggeration to say that most news operations were little more than extensions of the White House Office of Communications. Abandoning even the pretense of an adversarial relationship with the government, the media became shameful conduits for unsubstantiated and outright false information about Saddam Hussein’s alleged threat to the American people. Included among the falsehoods were reports that Saddam had a hand in the 9/11 attacks, had trained al-Qaeda fighters, and had attempted to obtain uranium ore and aluminum tubes for nuclear bombs.

Put bluntly, the disastrous invasion of Iraq – which was sold on the basis of lies told by President George W. Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, national-security adviser Condoleezza Rice, and others – might not have happened without the enthusiastic help of the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, and others. The blood of more than a hundred thousand – perhaps more than a million – Iraqis and 4,500 Americans is on their hands, too.

 
Seventeen Benefits of the War on Drugs PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Kevin Carson   
Wednesday, 20 March 2013 05:37

With American drug-use levels essentially the same as – and levels of drug-related violence either the same as or lower than – those in countries such as the Netherlands with liberal drug laws, public support for the War on Drugs appears to be faltering. This was most recently evidenced in the victory of major drug-decriminalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington. Some misguided commentators go so far as to say the Drug War is “a failure.” Here, to set the record straight, are 17 ways in which it is a resounding success.

1) It has surrounded the Fourth Amendment’s “search and seizure” restrictions, and similar provisions in state constitutions, with so many “good faith,” “reasonable suspicion,” and “reasonable expectation of privacy” loopholes as to turn them into toilet paper for all intents and purposes.

2) In so doing, it has set precedents that can be applied to a wide range of other missions, such as the War on Terror.

3) It has turned drug stores and banks into arms of the state that constantly inform on their customers.

 
Davenport Schools Shouldn’t Contract Out Custodial and Security Services PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Dave Stage and Jim Young   
Friday, 08 March 2013 09:55

As the Davenport Community School District considers a proposal to contract out custodial services and campus security, we want to make sure that parents and citizens know who we are, why we are an integral part of Davenport schools, and why contracting out would not be beneficial for our students, their families, and the public.

We have deep roots in this community and this school district. You may know us as Dave, the former wrestling and football coach, or Mr. Jim, the guy who volunteers to be the “dunkee” for the dunk tank that raises money for McKinley School at the Fall Festival. Between the two of us, we have almost 60 years of custodial experience: Dave, a Marine Corps veteran, has worked for Davenport schools for almost 30 years, and Jim started his career with Davenport schools in 1985; he helped open up North High on its first ever day of school. We have given our lives to this district. Many custodians and campus-security staff have children that attended or currently attend Davenport schools. Like us, many of our fellow custodians are heavily involved in school-related activities like Dad’s Club, Scouts, Boosters Club, and bake sales.

 
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