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Whitehead: Civil Liberty Attacks In The Age Of COVID-19 Threaten To Expose The American Police State

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In an exclusive for MintPress, constitutional attorney John Whitehead warns that the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to bring the American Police State out into the open on a scale we’ve not seen before.

You can always count on the government to take advantage of a crisis, legitimate or manufactured.

This coronavirus pandemic is no exception.

Not only are the federal and state governments unraveling the constitutional fabric of the nation with lockdown mandates that are sending the economy into a tailspin and wreaking havoc with our liberties, but they are also rendering the citizenry fully dependent on the government for financial handouts, medical intervention, protection and sustenance.

Unless we find some way to rein in the government’s power grabs, the fall-out will be epic.

Everything I have warned about for years—government overreach, invasive surveillance, martial law, abuse of powers, militarized police, weaponized technology used to track and control the citizenry, and so on—has coalesced into this present moment.

The government’s shameless exploitation of past national emergencies for its own nefarious purposes pales in comparison to what is presently unfolding.

Deploying the same strategy it used with 9/11 to acquire greater powers under the USA Patriot Act, the police state—a.k.a. the shadow government, a.k.a. the Deep State—has been anticipating this moment for years, quietly assembling a wish list of lockdown powers that could be trotted out and approved at a moment’s notice.

It should surprise no one, then, that the Trump Administration has asked Congress to allow it to suspend parts of the Constitution whenever it deems it necessary during this coronavirus pandemic and “other” emergencies.

It’s that “other” emergencies part that should particularly give you pause, if not spur you to immediate action (by action, I mean a loud and vocal, apolitical, nonpartisan outcry and sustained, apolitical, nonpartisan resistance).

In fact, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has been quietly trotting out and testing a long laundry list of terrifying powers that override the Constitution.

We’re talking about lockdown powers (at both the federal and state level): the ability to suspend the Constitution, indefinitely detain American citizens, bypass the courts, quarantine whole communities or segments of the population, override the First Amendment by outlawing religious gatherings and assemblies of more than a few people, shut down entire industries and manipulate the economy, muzzle dissidents, “stop and seize any plane, train or automobile to stymie the spread of contagious disease,” reshape financial markets, create a digital currency (and thus further restrict the use of cash), determine who should live or die…

You’re getting the picture now, right?

These are powers the police state would desperately like to make permanent.

Bear in mind, however, that these powers the Trump Administration, acting on orders from the police state, are officially asking Congress to recognize and authorize barely scratch the surface of the far-reaching powers the government has already unilaterally claimed for itself.

Unofficially, the police state has been riding roughshod over the rule of law for years now without any pretense of being reined in or restricted in its power grabs by Congress, the courts or the citizenry.

This current pandemic is a test to see whether the Constitution—and our commitment to the principles enshrined in the Bill of Rights—can survive a national crisis and true state of emergency.

Here’s what we know: whatever the so-called threat to the nation—whether it’s civil unrest, school shootings, alleged acts of terrorism, or the threat of a global pandemic in the case of COVID-19—the government has a tendency to capitalize on the nation’s heightened emotions, confusion and fear as a means of extending the reach of the police state.

This coronavirus epidemic, which has brought China’s Orwellian surveillance out of the shadows and caused Italy to declare a nationwide lockdown threatens to bring the American Police State out into the open on a scale we’ve not seen before.

Every day brings a drastic new set of restrictions by government bodies (most have been delivered by way of executive orders) at the local, state and federal level that are eager to flex their muscles for the so-called “good” of the populace.

This is where we run the risk of this whole fly-by-night operation going completely off the rails.

It’s one thing to attempt an experiment in social distancing in order to flatten the curve of this virus because we can’t afford to risk overwhelming the hospitals and exposing the most vulnerable in the nation to unavoidable loss of life scenarios. However, there’s a fine line between strongly worded suggestions for citizens to voluntarily stay at home and strong-armed house arrest orders with penalties in place for non-compliance.

More than three-quarters of all Americans have now been ordered to stay at home and that number is growing as more states fall in line.

Schools have canceled physical classes, many for the remainder of the academic year.

Many of the states have banned gatherings of more than 10 people.

At least three states (Nevada, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania) have ordered non-essential businesses to close.

In Washington, DC, residents face 90 days in jail and a $5,000 fine if they leave their homes during the coronavirus outbreak. Residents of Maryland, Hawaii and Washington state also risk severe penalties of up to a year in prison and a $5,000 fine for violating the stay-at-home orders. Violators in Alaska could face jail time and up to $25,000 in fines.

Kentucky residents are prohibited from traveling outside the state, with a few exceptions.

New York City, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., is offering its Rikers Island prisoners $6 an hour to help dig mass graves.

In San Francisco, cannabis dispensaries were included among the essential businesses allowed to keep operating during the city-wide lockdown.

New Jersey’s governor canceled gatherings of any number, including parties, weddings and religious ceremonies, and warned the restrictions could continue for weeks or months. One city actually threatened to prosecute residents who spread false information about the virus.

Oregon banned all nonessential social and recreational gatherings, regardless of size.

Rhode Island has given police the go-ahead to pull over anyone with New York license plates to record their contact information and order them to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Rhode Island National Guard Military Police direct a motorist with New York license plates to a checkpoint, March 28, 2020, David Goldman | AP

South Carolina’s police have been empowered to break up any public gatherings of more than three people.

Of course, there are exceptions to all of these stay-at-home orders (in more than 30 states and counting), the longest of which runs until June 10. Essential workers (doctors, firefighters, police and grocery store workers) can go to work. Everyone else will have to fit themselves into a variety of exceptions in order to leave their homes: for grocery runs, doctor visits, to get exercise, to visit a family member, etc.

Throughout the country, more than 14,000 “Citizen-Soldiers” of the National Guard have been mobilized to support the states and the federal government in their fight against the coronavirus.

Thus far, we have not breached the Constitution’s crisis point: martial law has yet to be overtly imposed (although an argument could be made to the contrary given the militarized nature of the American police state).

It’s just a matter of time before all hell breaks loose.

If this is not the defining point at which we cross over into all-out totalitarianism, then it is at a minimum a test to see how easily we will surrender.

Generally, the government has to show a compelling state interest before it can override certain critical rights such as free speech, assembly, press, search and seizure, etc. Most of the time, it lacks that compelling state interest, but it still manages to violate those rights, setting itself up for legal battles further down the road.

These lockdown measures—on the right of the people to peaceably assemble, to travel, to engage in commerce, etc.—unquestionably restrict fundamental constitutional rights, which might pass muster for a short period of time, but can it be sustained for longer stretches legally?

That’s the challenge before us, of course, if these days and weeks potentially stretch into months-long quarantines.

At the moment, the government believes it has a compelling interest—albeit a temporary one—in restricting gatherings, assemblies and movement in public in order to minimize the spread of this virus.

The key point is this: while we may tolerate these restrictions on our liberties in the short term, we should never fail to be on guard lest these one-time constraints become a slippery slope to a total lockdown mindset.

What we must guard against, more than ever before, is the tendency to become so accustomed to our prison walls—these lockdowns, authoritarian dictates, and police state tactics justified as necessary for national security—that we allow the government to keep having its way in all things, without any civic resistance or objections being raised.

Most of all, don’t be naïve: the government will use this crisis to expand its powers far beyond the reach of the Constitution.

That’s how it starts.

Travel too far down that slippery slope, and there will be no turning back.

As I make clear in my book “Battlefield America: The War on the American People,” if you wait to speak out—stand up—and resist until the government’s lockdowns impact your freedoms personally, it could be too late.

Just because we’re fighting an unseen enemy in the form of a virus doesn’t mean we have to relinquish every shred of our humanity, our common sense, or our freedoms to a nanny state that thinks it can do a better job of keeping us safe.

Whatever we give up willingly now—whether it’s basic human decency, the ability to manage our private affairs, the right to have a say in how the government navigates this crisis, or the few rights still left to us that haven’t been disemboweled in recent years by a power-hungry police state—we won’t get back so easily once this crisis is past.

The government never cedes power willingly.

Neither should we.

via zerohedge

13 COMMENTS

  1. Okay, I’ve read your article and have seen this happening; however, what is your answer? You lay out the problem with absolutely no solution. How do you suggest we contain the virus so it doesn’t infect hundreds of thousands of people so fast that it wipes our more than half of the American Citizens before we can come up with a way to irradicate it or somewhat contain it? The epicenters here in the US are places like California, New York, Washington State, Washington DC, Philadelphia PA and other very heavily traveled cities, that include travelers going to, and returning from china, as well as immigrants from other infected area of the world. I don’t want these people traveling to my state and spreading the virus, knowingly or unknowingly. If this were days of old, there would be men with weapons stationed around towns and on borders shooting anyone who tried to come in from the outside. Again I ask, what is your solution to the problem? Under other circumstances, I would fight the government as necessary to make them adhere to the US Constitution. If it comes down to it when all is said and done, I will do my part, as necessary to see our unalienable rights FULLY restored. Our Country is NOT a police state and I seriously doubt people will ever just accept it and allow the government to run roughshod over the Constitution just because they can.

    • The police have no constitutional requirement to protect you in any way according to the supreme court ruling So don’t count on them to come to your aid . Then they are minutes away when seconds count in normal world , how far right now ?

  2. obozo:
    H1N1 Virus
    U.S. cases: 60.8 MILLION
    u.s. deaths: 12,469
    Panic Level: None
    According to the CDC, the number of flu cases confirmed in the US since September currently stand at 222,552 cases with 22,000 deaths. Do you see how the media can manipulate your life? The media is creating an all-out panic. They are destroying small businesses, crushing 401 (k)s, and worst yet, terrifying people. They are rooting for recession, destruction, and death. They are the enemy of the people and “ALL OF THEM” must be ERADICATED!! The Democrats/Liberals were facing certain defeat in November with the strong economy that Trump had built up but now they are using this panic to destroy that economy and use it to accomplish what three and a half years of investigations couldn’t do, have a chance of ousting President Trump. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the demoRATS China connection didn’t have a hand in getting this Wuhan virus leaked into the public knowing full well it would go worldwide and causing massive problems.

  3. This is BS, all you need to do is google Spanish flu and there you will see similar actions taken by our government at that time. There is a good short video and actual pictures of front page news articles from the historical society. They closed schools, businesses etc, etc. People are exagerating the “police state”. After all, 100 years later, we still had our rights. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDY5COg2P2c

  4. What I still don’t understand is the shutdown for this version of the flu, when the last few ‘pandemics’ did not receive much attention or media hysteria. Just like “11B10Grunt” said; there’s been more illness and death of past events, yet this one is too important to ignore?
    With what the demonrats have done since Trump was elected, it’s no wonder there are people who think in ‘conspiratorial’ formats. The evidence keeps lining up. From W.H.O. and China’s world-domination efforts, who at first lied about the outbreak; to all the media and demonrat elected officials initial comments — and flip-flopping on those comments, the citizens can’t help but be confused. Add to that all the draconian measures being taken by various jurisdictions, it is indeed a Martial Law under a guise to ‘help’ the citizenry.
    This event has played out to be the demonrat’s dream-come-true scenario. They hate Trump so much for taking away their deep state powers, or at least throwing a monkey wrench into their government cash machine, they are willing to do anything to get rid of him; even at the risk of losing their voter base.
    Like the media pundits have been saying about Trump and the Hydroxychloroquine use; follow the money. Crash Trump’s economy, and kill off all the jobs he’s created; then tell the citizens it’s all his fault. Then maybe they can get a stooge in the oval office, and allow the deep state to run things again . . .

  5. I can accept government recommendations as to how to avoid catching a potentially deadly disease. I do not accept mandatory lockdowns, which is a form of imprisonment without a trial and without a violation of a duly adopted law. The latter is suggestive of a police state. So many things can and do make us sick and make us die. All the other causes, many of which are more deadly than the Chinese virus, have not caused American government leaders to close the economy and regulate innocuous personal behavior. The sooner the all clear signal is given the better, regardless of the total eradication of the Wuhan virus, which is likely impossible.

  6. First failure of your argument is that far more are recovering than dying so it won’t be half the population although that’s what the NWO pukes are pushing. Second, the over the top reactions are happening in liberals meccas and the reason is they ARE liberal lunatic meccas. Most of the states aren’t engaging in the lunacy (mostly called fly over states by the left). IF liberal dipsticks want to go overboard….let them, but it’s also liberal loon areas where they’re still partying because they haven’t the sense to be careful about it and I see that as their problem. I DO have a problem with police doing as they did on Colorado who arrested a father who was following posted rules in a park for “violating the rules” when he actually didn’t and the chief isn’t disciplining the punks he has for officers and why??? Because it’s a liberal area and he’s playing the “under investigation” game to hide it.

  7. Screw em ! Rights are more important than governments! Your being bam boozeled on every level possible.China people in complete resistance to the big BS con job. The flu comes every year and kills basically 12,000 per year in the US which is where we are now give or take. WAKE UP ! It’s a population control by people you trusted and voted for who’s sold you to the highest bidder. CHINA !!!!!!!

  8. The big one is coming and there’s nothing that can help mankind when it does. Do your numbers and alphabetical calculation. CORONA 666 c is 3 God is not pleased with us as a nation and it’s just now starting and speeding up. 2 Chronicles 7:14 act now.

  9. We should STILL have armed men around towns and developments to protect the inhabitants. It just SHOULD NOT BE COPS. These thugs are at war with the very people that hire and pay them. They jump out of their cars for a parking ticket looking like they’re hunting osama freakin bin ladin. Over the last decade they have averaged over 900 murders of civilian/citizens a year. With absolutely no repercussions.
    And yes it is a police state in every sense of the word. A father was just put in handcuffs and arrested in front of his 6 year old girl. For not ‘practicing social distancing’. He was playingT-ball with his daughter in the park. They have been over monetized and over militarized. We would do well by spending half the money and getting rid of 45% of the cops.
    We have to put up with un-Constitutional dui checkpoints. Stop and frisk. I could go on, but you get the idea.
    sic sempre tyranus

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