Unearthing the Barrett Brown Story: A Political Prisoner in Pursuance of Press Freedom & Government Accountability.

In January of 2013, following his suicide, Aaron Swartz’s family and partner released an official statement declaring his death more than a mere personal tragedy. They claim, “It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach”. The statement also lauds Swartz’s efforts as, “instrumental to the defeat of an internet censorship bill; he fought for a more democratic, open and accountable political system”.[i] It is in that spirit of press freedom and accountable government, and in honor of Aaron Swartz that I write this article.

Continuing the Legacy

The efforts of Swartz and the scores of whistleblowers and journalists before him, and since, have shined a spotlight on the brazenly lawless and inept bureaucracies that govern our nation from the shadows.[ii] [iii] Once untouchable, these institutions of unaccountable centralized power are decaying from within, despite the best efforts of their corporate media lapdogs to polish their thin veneer of legitimacy. [iv] [v]

While most journalists, like frogs in a slowly boiling pot of water, still yield to the ever increasing demands of illegitimate authorities, becoming themselves lapdogs of the establishment, Barrett Brown has stood by his principles, challenging the unconstitutional mandates of those powers that shouldn’t be, and blowing on their precious little house of cards. These actions, are not without consequence, however. To quote Beatrice Edwards, Senior International Policy Analyst of the Government Accountability Project, “The first thing corrupt institutions do when they’re threatened by the truth is distract attention from the message by shooting the messenger”.[vi] [vii]

As a young man of 18, Brown began his career as a freelance writer, eventually landing a gig with Vanity Fair magazine. It is here, as a magazine writer, that brown received his inoculating dose of disillusionment. He saw, throughout the industry, useful idiots and establishment hacks like Thomas Friedman not only commanding audiences of millions, but winning Pulitzers, while talented writers and reporters critical of US Government policies, such as Glenn Greenwald, were relegated to smaller niche audiences, away from the spotlight.[viii] [ix]

No sooner had Barrett Brown’s disillusionment set in than he began challenging and attacking those morally bankrupt cronies of the media establishment and their propaganda. In the same spirit of openness that guided Aaron Swartz, and driven by contempt for the failure of the press to uphold any standard of information integrity, in 2009, Brown, with the help of various bloggers, journalists and scientists, embarked on a project to establish a mechanism of accountability in media and government, what he called a “distributed think tank”, known as Project PM.[x] [xi] [READ MORE]

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Trump: Now an Agent of the American Police State

If you thought the militarized police response to Ferguson and Baltimore was bad, brace yourselves. Many police, including beat cops, now routinely carry assault rifles. Combined with body armor and other apparel, many officers look more and more like combat troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thanks to President Trump, this transformation of America into a battlefield is only going to get worse. To be fair, Trump did not create this totalitarian nightmare. However, he has legitimized it and, in so doing, has also accelerated the pace at which we fall deeper into the clutches of outright tyranny.

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Show Notes

“Battlefield Main Street: Pentagon Project Lets Police Forces – Even in Small Towns – Arm Themselves With Military Gear,” The Daily

“Congress Quietly Passed a Bill Allowing Warrantless Searches of Homes—Only 1% Opposed It,” The Free Thought Project

“Trump to Fully Restore Military Surplus Transfers to Police,” The New York Times

“Trump lifts ban on military gear to local police forces,” USA Today

“From Mayberry to Ferguson, the rise of the modern cop,” The Washington Post

“Local Cops Ready for War With Homeland Security-Funded Military Weapons,” The Daily Beast

“America’s police are looking more and more like the military,” The Guardian

“West Lafayette police acquire military vehicle,” Indy Star

“The cops at Ohio State have an armored fighting vehicle now,” The Daily Caller

“Police Are Getting the Military’s Leftover Armored Trucks,” The New York Times

“Drawing Down: How To Roll Back Police Militarization In America,” The Huffington Post

“Seattle police department has network that can track all Wi-Fi enabled devices,” Raw Story

“Little oversight seen in military surplus giveaways,” Associated Press

“The militarization of U.S. police forces,” Reuters

“Does military equipment lead police officers to be more violent? We did the research,” The Washington Post

“The Shocking Tales of 11 of the Most Over the Top US Police Paramilitary Raids and the Innocent People They Victimized,” Alternet

“Why Are Police Unions Blocking Reform?” The New Yorker

“The USA as a Failed State: Ta-Nehisi Coates’s ‘Between the World and Me,’” Counterpunch

Battlefield America Is the New Normal: We’re Not in Mayberry Anymore

Battlefield America: The War on the American People

Rutherford Institute

Russia Accuses The US of Violating Vienna Convention – Meanwhile All Eyes on North Korea

The hottest stories from Newsbud.com in this weekly roundup, plus a sneak peak of what’s to come, and major announcements. Sign up today and join the community for access to exclusive content only available at Newsbud.com

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Show notes

Russia Rejects U.S. Military Plans Against North Korea

JFK: Victim of the National Security State

Is Trump Planning a Korean Peace Surprise? And Can the Deep State Stop Him?

The Not So Hidden Hand: Government & Wall Street Manipulation of Stock Markets

Freedom for the Speech We Hate: The Legal Ins and Outs of the Right to Protest

We are witnessing a politically correct philosophy at play, one shared by both the extreme left and the extreme right, which aims to stifle all expression that doesn’t fit within their parameters of what they consider to be “acceptable” speech. There are all kinds of labels put on such speech—it’s been called politically incorrect speech, hate speech, offensive speech, and so on—but really, the message being conveyed is that you don’t have a right to express yourself if certain people or groups don’t like or agree with what you are saying.  Hence, we have seen the caging of free speech in recent years, through the use of so-called “free speech zones” on college campuses and at political events, the requirement of speech permits in parks and community gatherings, and the policing of online forums. Clearly, this elitist, monolithic mindset is at odds with everything for which America is supposed to stand.

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Show Notes

James Madison, “FEDERALIST NO. 10 (1787)”

Benjamin Franklin, “Silence Dogood, No. 8,” The New-England Courant (Jul. 9, 1722)

 “Constitutional Q&A: The Right to Protest,” The Rutherford Institute

Second Amendment

 First Amendment

United States v. Schwimmer, U.S. Supreme Court (1929)

Texas v. Johnson, 491 US 397 - Supreme Court 1989

 DeJonge v. Oregon

 Lloyd Corp., Ltd. v. Tanner

 City of LaDue v. Gileo

 United States v. Grace

 Ward v. Rock Against Racism

 Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network of Western N.Y.

Snyder v. Phelps

Lewis v. Wilson

 Helms v. Zubaty

 Acosta v. City of Costa Mesa

 Gilles v. Blanchard

 Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Comm. Sch. Dist.

 Boardley v. U.S. Dept. of the Interior

 Forsyth County, Ga. v. Nationalist Movement

 Shuttlesworth v. Birmingham

 Thomas v. Chi. Park Dist.

 Hague v. Comm. for Indus. Org.

 Jones v. Parmley

 Cole v. Arkansas

 Chesney v. City of Jackson

United States v. Masciandaro

Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, “Concealed Carry”

Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, “Open Carry”

“Supreme Court Turns Down Case on Carrying Guns in Public,” The New York Times

“The Competing Messages:  The Protests; Demonstrators Steer Clear Of Their Designated Space,” The New York Times

“Chilling First Amendment Activity,” Medium

“Protesters Flood Streets, and Trump Offers a Measure of Praise,” The New York Times

“To fight bigotry and hate, don’t muzzle it. There’s a better way,” The Washington Post

Freedom for the Speech We Hate: The Legal Ins and Outs of the Right to Protest

Battlefield America: The War on the American People

Rutherford Institute

Tear Gas, Guns and Riot Squads: The Police State’s Answer to Free Speech Is Brute Force

Forget everything you’ve ever been taught about free speech in America. It’s all a lie. There can be no free speech for the citizenry when the government speaks in a language of force. What is this language of force? Militarized police. Riot squads. Camouflage gear. Black uniforms. Armored vehicles. Mass arrests. Pepper spray. Tear gas. Batons. Strip searches. Surveillance cameras. Kevlar vests. Drones. Lethal weapons. Less-than-lethal weapons unleashed with deadly force. Rubber bullets. Water cannons. Stun grenades. Arrests of journalists. Crowd control tactics. Intimidation tactics. Brutality. This is not the language of freedom. This is not even the language of law and order. Unfortunately, this is how the government at all levels—federal, state and local—now responds to those who choose to exercise their First Amendment right to peacefully assemble in public and challenge the status quo.

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Show Notes

The Militarization of American Police, The Leonard Lopate Show

 “Police Are Using Military Weapons to Occupy Ferguson, Missouri,” Slate

Kettling

 “The lessons of Baltimore, and Ferguson, and too many places,” Los Angeles Times

“Victory in Unlawful Mass Arrest During 2004 RNC the Largest Protest Settlement in History,” NYCLU

“Militarized Police Are Cracking Down on Dakota Access Pipeline Protesters,” The Nation

 “KKK rally peaceful, police tear gas protesters afterward,” C-Ville Weekly

“Protesters Surround KKK Gathering In Charlottesville,” NPR

“Right to protest also means freedom from militarized police,” USA Today

“Does military equipment lead police officers to be more violent? We did the research,” The Washington Post

“Will the Growing Militarization of Our Police Doom Community Policing?” COPS

“Police fire tear gas at crowd protesting Charlottesville KKK rally,” Roanoke Times

“‘Comply or Die’ policing must stop,” Daily KOS

“I’m a cop. If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t challenge me,” The Washington Post

“Contempt of cop, America’s defiance revolution,” CBC News

“How To Break Up a Peaceful Protest Peacefully,” Forbes

Tear Gas, Guns and Riot Squads: The Police State’s Answer to Free Speech Is Brute Force

Battlefield America: The War on the American People

Rutherford Institute

You Want a Picture of the Future? Imagine a Boot Stamping on Your Face

We have arrived, way ahead of schedule, into the dystopian future dreamed up by such science fiction writers as George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Margaret Atwood and Philip K. Dick. Much like Orwell’s Big Brother in 1984, the government and its corporate spies now watch our every move. Much like Huxley’s A Brave New World, we are churning out a society of watchers who “have their liberties taken away from them, but … rather enjoy it, because they [are] distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing.” Much like Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, the populace is now taught to “know their place and their duties, to understand that they have no real rights but will be protected up to a point if they conform, and to think so poorly of themselves that they will accept their assigned fate and not rebel or run away.” And in keeping with Philip K. Dick’s darkly prophetic vision of a dystopian police state—which became the basis for Steven Spielberg’s futuristic thriller Minority Report which was released 15 years ago—we are now trapped into a world 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 and pre-crime units will crack a few skulls to bring the populace under control. All of these works of fiction—and the writers who inspired them—understood what many Americans, caught up in their partisan, flag-waving, zombified states, are still struggling to come to terms with: that there is no such thing as a government organized for the good of the people. Even the best intentions among those in government inevitably give way to the desire to maintain power and control at all costs.

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Show Notes

“Spielberg & Cruise & the Movies,” Roger Ebert

“Margaret Atwood on What ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Means in the Age of Trump,” New York Times

“Minority Report holds up because it's about surveillance, not gadgets,” The Verge

“Minority Report’ Is 40 Years Ahead of Schedule: The Fictional World Has Become Reality,” The Rutherford Institute

You Want a Picture of the Future? Imagine a Boot Stamping on Your Face

Battlefield America: The War on the American People

Rutherford Institute

As The Flood Waters Increase In Trump’s Swamp… Soros Eyes Asia Through ISIS

The hottest stories from Newsbud.com in this weekly round up, plus a sneak peak of whats to come.

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Show Notes

Weapons & Energy: Putin-Erdogan Alliance

Space War: Feeding the Military Industrial Complex

American Horror Story: The Shameful Truth About the Government’s Secret Experiments

India Blinks! Soros in Asia; and Pattycake with Miles Kwok

Newsbud Exclusive – After Nuland, “Nuland”: A. Wess Mitchell Nominated to Direct the U.S. European & Eurasian Affairs

Chelsea Manning & the War Crimes of Empire

On this edition of The Geopolitical Report, we take a look at the real story behind the commutation of Chelsea Manning—a trove of data revealing war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq perpetuated by the United States and its proxies. The Iraq War Logs and the Afghan War Diary stand as horrific testament to war crimes sponsored by the Bush and Obama administrations. Will Donald Trump put an end to the US interventionist policy in the Middle East or has he taken the baton?

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Show Notes

Wikileaks reveals video showing US air crew shooting down Iraqi civilians

Iraq war logs: Civilians gunned down at checkpoints

Iraq: U.S. Checkpoints Continue to Kill

Use of Contractors Added to War’s Chaos in Iraq

Iraq war logs: Secret order that let US ignore abuse

Whistleblower's leaked US files reveal state of Afghan war

Afghanistan, the CIA, bin Laden, 
and the Taliban

Afghanistan war logs: Secret CIA paramilitaries' role in civilian deaths

WikiLeaks shines spotlight on mysterious Task Force 373

Obama’s Legacy: A Historic War On Whistleblowers

Trump in 2010: WikiLeaks 'disgraceful,' there 'should be like death penalty or something'

Nothing Is Real: When Reality TV Programming Masquerades as Politics

A Phenomenon Called “Humilitainment”

“There are two ways by which the spirit of a culture may be shriveled. In the first—the Orwellian—culture becomes a prison. In the second—the Huxleyan—culture becomes a burlesque. No one needs to be reminded that our world is now marred by many prison-cultures…. it makes little difference if our wardens are inspired by right- or left-wing ideologies. The gates of the prison are equally impenetrable, surveillance equally rigorous, icon-worship pervasive…. Big Brother does not watch us, by his choice. We watch him, by ours…. 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.”— Professor Neil Postman

Donald Trump no longer needs to launch Trump TV.

He’s already the star of his own political reality show.

Americans have a voracious appetite for TV entertainment, and the Trump reality show—guest starring outraged Democrats with a newly awakened conscience for immigrants and the poor, power-hungry Republicans eager to take advantage of their return to power, and a hodgepodge of other special interest groups with dubious motives—feeds thatappetite for titillating, soap opera drama.

After all, who needs the insults, narcissism and power plays that are hallmarks of reality shows such as Celebrity Apprentice or Keeping Up with the Kardashians when you can have all that and more delivered up by the likes of Donald Trump and his cohorts?

Yet as John Lennon reminds us, “nothing is real,” especially not in the world of politics.

Much like the fabricated universe in Peter Weir’s 1998 film The Truman Show, in which a man’s life is the basis for an elaborately staged television show aimed at selling products and procuring ratings, the political scene in the United States has devolved over the years into a carefully calibrated exercise in how to manipulate, polarize, propagandize and control a population.

Indeed, Donald Trump may be the smartest move yet by the powers-that-be to keep the citizenry divided and at each other’s throats, because as long as we’re busy fighting each other, we’ll never manage to present a unified front against tyranny in any form.

This is the magic of the reality TV programming that passes for politics today.

It allows us to be distracted, entertained, occasionally a little bit outraged but overall largely uninvolved, content to remain in the viewer’s seat.

The more that is beamed at us, the more inclined we are to settle back in our comfy recliners and become passive viewers rather than active participants as unsettling, frightening events unfold.

Reality and fiction merge as everything around us becomes entertainment fodder.

We don’t even have to change the channel when the subject matter becomes too monotonous. That’s taken care of for us by the programmers (the corporate media).

For instance, before we could get too worked up over government surveillance, the programmers changed the channels on us and switched us over to breaking news about militarized police. Before our outrage could be transformed into action over police misconduct, they changed the channel once again to reports of ISIS beheadings and terrorist shootings. Before we had a chance to challenge what was staged or real, the programming switched to the 2016 presidential election.

“Living is easy with eyes closed,” says Lennon, and that’s exactly what reality TV that masquerades as American politics programs the citizenry to do: navigate the world with their eyes shut.

As long as we’re viewers, we’ll never be doers.

Studies suggest that the more reality TV people watch—and I would posit that it’s all reality TV—the more difficult it becomes to distinguish between what is real and what is carefully crafted farce.

“We the people” are watching a lot of TV.

On average, Americans spend five hours a day watching television. By the time we reach age 65, we’re watching more than 50 hours of television a week, and that number increases as we get older. And reality TV programming consistently captures the largest percentage of TV watchers every season by an almost 2-1 ratio.

This doesn’t bode well for a citizenry able to sift through masterfully-produced propaganda in order to think critically about the issues of the day, whether it’s fake news peddled by government agencies or foreign entities.

Those who watch reality shows tend to view what they see as the “norm.” Thus, those who watch shows characterized by lying, aggression and meanness not only come to see such behavior as acceptable and entertaining but also mimic the medium.

This holds true whether the reality programming is about the antics of celebrities in the White House, in the board room, or in the bedroom.

It’s a phenomenon called “humilitainment.”

A term coined by media scholars Brad Waite and Sara Booker, “humilitainment” refers to the tendency for viewers to take pleasure in someone else’s humiliation, suffering and pain.

Humilitainment” largely explains not only why American TV watchers are so fixated on reality TV programming but how American citizens, largely insulated from what is really happening in the world around them by layers of technology, entertainment, and other distractions, are being programmed to accept the brutality, surveillance and dehumanizing treatment of the American police state as things happening to other people.

The ramifications for the future of civic engagement, political discourse and self-government are incredibly depressing and demoralizing.

This not only explains how a candidate like Donald Trump with a reputation for being rude, egotistical and narcissistic could get elected, but it also says a lot about how a politician like Barack Obama—whose tenure in the White House was characterized by drone killings, a weakening of the Constitution at the expense of Americans’ civil liberties, and an expansion of the police state—could be hailed as “one of the greatest presidents of all times.”

This is what happens when an entire nation—bombarded by reality TV programming, government propaganda and entertainment news—becomes systematically desensitized and acclimated to the trappings of a government that operates by fiat and speaks in a language of force.

Ultimately, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American Peoplethe reality shows, the entertainment news, the surveillance society, the militarized police, and the political spectacles have one common objective: to keep us divided, distracted, imprisoned, and incapable of taking an active role in the business of self-government.

If “we the people” feel powerless and apathetic, it is only because we have allowed ourselves to be convinced that the duties of citizenship begin and end at the ballot box.

Marching and protests have certainly been used with great success by past movements to foment real change, but if those marches and protests are merely outpourings of discontent because a particular politician won or lost with no solid plan of action or follow-through, then what’s the point?

Martin Luther King Jr. understood that politics could never be the answer to what ailed the country. That’s why he spearheaded a movement of mass-action strategy that employed boycotts, sit-ins and marches. Yet King didn’t march against a particular politician or merely to express discontent. He marched against injustice, government corruption, war, and inequality, and he leveraged discontent with the status quo into an activist movement that transformed the face of America.

When all is said and done, it won’t matter who you voted for in the presidential election. What will matter is where you stand in the face of the injustices that continue to ravage our nation: the endless wars, the police shootings, the overcriminalization, the corruption, the graft, the roadside strip searches, the private prisons, the surveillance state, etc.

Will you tune out the reality TV show and join with your fellow citizens to push back against the real menace of the police state, or will you merely sit back and lose yourself in the political programming aimed at keeping you imprisoned in the police state?

# # # #

John W. Whitehead, Newsbud Contributing Author & Analyst,  is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. He is the president and spokesperson of the Rutherford Institute. Mr. Whitehead is the author of numerous books on a variety of legal and social issues, including A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Arkansas and a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law, and served as an officer in the United States Army from 1969 to 1971.

Sibel Edmonds: The Future of Newsbud & Important Updates

Beginning this month Newsbud will be offering exclusive content only available at newsbud.com. The content will be available only to the Newsbud Community Members(Subscribers). Your subscription will provide you with full community access to exclusive content, Including videos and articles from Newsbud’s team of experts and analysts. As members you will also receive monthly newsletters from Newsbud Founder Sibel Edmonds.

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The Titanic Sails at Dawn: Warning Signs Point to Danger Ahead in 2017

A Future Riddled with Hidden & Not-So-Hidden Dangers

“When did the future switch from being a promise to being a threat?” ― Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters

Despite our best efforts, we in the American police state seem to be stuck on repeat, reliving the same set of circumstances over and over and over again: egregious surveillance, strip searches, police shootings of unarmed citizens, government spying, censorship, retaliatory arrests, the criminalization of lawful activities, warmongering, indefinite detentions, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, etc.

Unfortunately, as a nation we’ve become so desensitized to the government’s acts of violence, so accustomed to reports of government corruption, and so anesthetized to the sights and sounds of Corporate America marching in lockstep with the police state that few seem to pay heed to the warning signs blaring out the message: Danger Ahead.

Remember, the Titanic received at least four warnings from other ships about the presence of icebergs in its path, with the last warning issued an hour before disaster struck. All four warnings were ignored.

Like the Titanic, we’re plowing full steam ahead into a future riddled with hidden and not-so-hidden dangers. We too have been given ample warnings, only to have them drowned out by a carefully choreographed cacophony of political noise, cultural distractions and entertainment news—what the Romans termed “bread and circuses”—aimed at keeping the American people polarized, pacified and easily manipulated.

However, there is still danger ahead. The peril to our republic remains the same.

As long as a permanent, unelected bureaucracy—a.k.a. the shadow government— continues to call the shots in the halls of power and the reach of the police state continues to expand, the crisis has not been averted.

Here’s a glimpse of some of the nefarious government programs we’ll be encountering on our journey through the treacherous waters of 2017.

Mandatory quarantines without due process or informed consent: Under a new rule proposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, government agents will be empowered to indefinitely detain any traveler they suspect of posing a medical risk to others without providing an explanation, subject them to medical tests without their consent, and carry out such detentions and quarantines without any kind of due process or judicial review.

Mental health assessments by non-medical personnel: As a result of a nationwide push to train a broad spectrum of so-called gatekeepers such as pastors, teachers, hair stylists, bartenders, police officers and EMTs in mental health first-aid training, more Americans are going to run the risk of being reported by non-medical personnel and detained for having mental health issues.

Tracking chips for citizens: Momentum is building for the government to be able to track citizens, whether through the use of RFID chips embedded in a national ID card or through microscopic chips embedded in one’s skin. In December 2016, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved legislation allowing police to track individuals suffering from some form of mental disability such as Alzheimer’s or autism by way of implanted chips.

Military training to deal with anti-establishment movements in megacities: The future, according to a Pentagon training video, will be militaristic, dystopian and far from friendly to freedom. Indeed, if this government propaganda-piece that is being used to train special forces is to be believed, the only thing that can save the world from outright anarchy—in the eyes of the government, at least—is the military working in conjunction with local police. The video confirms what I’ve been warning about for so long: in the eyes of the U.S. government and its henchmen, the battlefield of the future is the American home front.

Government censorship of anything it classifies as disinformation: This year’s National Defense Authorization Act, which allocates $619 billion for war and military spending, not only allows the military to indefinitely detain American citizens by placing them beyond the reach of the Constitution, but it also directs the State Department to establish a national anti-propaganda center to “counter disinformation and propaganda.” Translation: the government plans to crack down on anyone attempting to exercise their First Amendment rights by exposing government wrongdoing, while persisting in peddling its own brand of fake news.

Threat assessments: Government agents—with the help of automated eyes and ears, a growing arsenal of high-tech software, hardware and techniques, government propaganda urging Americans to turn into spies and snitches, as well as social media and behavior sensing software—are spinning a sticky spider-web of threat assessments, behavioral sensing warnings, flagged “words,” and “suspicious” activity reports aimed at snaring potential enemies of the state. It’s the American police state rolled up into one oppressive pre-crime and pre-thought crime package.

War on cash: The government and its corporate partners are engaged in a concerted campaign to do away with large bills such as $20s, $50s, $100s and shift consumers towards a digital mode of commerce that can easily be monitored, tracked, tabulated, mined for data, hacked, hijacked and confiscated when convenient. As economist Steve Forbes concludes, “The real reason for this war on cash—start with the big bills and then work your way down—is an ugly power grab by Big Government. People will have less privacy: Electronic commerce makes it easier for Big Brother to see what we’re doing, thereby making it simpler to bar activities it doesn’t like, such as purchasing salt, sugar, big bottles of soda and Big Macs.”

Expansive surveillance: Whether you’re walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency, whether the NSA or some other entity, will still be listening in and tracking your behavior. This doesn’t even begin to touch on the corporate trackers who work with the government to monitor your purchases, web browsing, Facebook posts and other activities taking place in the cyber sphere. In such an environment, we are all suspects to be spied on, searched, scanned, frisked, monitored, tracked and treated as if we’re potentially guilty of some wrongdoing or other.

Militarized police: Americans are finding their once-peaceful communities transformed into military outposts, complete with tanks, weaponry, and other equipment designed for the battlefield. Now, the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and the FBI are preparing to turn the nation’s police officers into techno-warriors, complete with iris scanners, body scanners, thermal imaging Doppler radar devices, facial recognition programs, license plate readers, cell phone extraction software, Stingray devices and so much more.

Police shootings of unarmed citizens: Owing in large part to the militarization of local law enforcement agencies, not a week goes by without more reports of hair-raising incidents by police imbued with a take-no-prisoners attitude and a battlefield approach to the communities in which they serve. Indeed, as a special report by The Washington Post reveals, despite heightened awareness of police misconduct, the number of fatal shootings by officers in 2016 remained virtually unchanged from the year before.

False flags and terrorist attacks: Despite the government’s endless propaganda about the threat of terrorism, statistics show that you are 17,600 times more likely to die from heart disease than from a terrorist attack. You are 11,000 times more likely to die from an airplane accident than from a terrorist plot involving an airplane. You are 1,048 times more likely to die from a car accident than a terrorist attack. You are 404 times more likely to die in a fall than from a terrorist attack. And you are 8 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist.

Endless wars to keep America’s military’s empire employed: The military industrial complex that has advocated that the U.S. remain at war, year after year, is the very entity that will continue to profit the most from America’s expanding military empire. The U.S. Department of Defense is the world’s largest employer, with more than 3.2 million employees. Thus far, the U.S. taxpayer has been made to shell out more than $1.6 trillion to wage wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. When you add in military efforts in Pakistan, as well as the lifetime price of health care for disabled veterans and interest on the national debt, that cost rises to $4.4 trillion.

Attempts by the government to identify, target and punish so-called domestic “extremists”: The government’s anti-extremism program will, in many cases, be utilized to render otherwise lawful, nonviolent activities as potentially extremist. To this end, police will identify, monitor and deter individuals who exhibit, express or engage in anything that could be construed as extremist before they can become actual threats. This is pre-crime on an ideological scale.

SWAT team raids: More than 80% of American communities have their own SWAT teams, with more than 80,000 of these paramilitary raids are carried out every year. That translates to more than 200 SWAT team raids every day in which police crash through doors, damage private property, kill citizens, terrorize adults and children alike, kill family pets, assault or shoot anyone that is perceived as threatening—and most often in the pursuit of someone merely suspected of a crime, usually some small amount of drugs.

Erosions of private property: Private property means little at a time when SWAT teams and other government agents can invade your home, break down your doors, kill your dog, wound or kill you, damage your furnishings and terrorize your family. Likewise, if government officials can fine and arrest you for growing vegetables in your front yard, praying with friends in your living room, installing solar panels on your roof, and raising chickens in your backyard, you’re no longer the owner of your property.

Overcriminalization: The government’s tendency towards militarization and overcriminalization, in which routine, everyday behaviors become targets of regulation and prohibition, has resulted in Americans getting arrested for making and selling unpasteurized goat cheese, cultivating certain types of orchids, feeding a whale, holding Bible studies in their homes, and picking their kids up from school.

Strip searches and the denigration of bodily integrity: Court rulings undermining the Fourth Amendment and justifying invasive strip searches have left us powerless against police empowered to forcefully draw our blood, forcibly take our DNA, strip search us, and probe us intimately. Accounts are on the rise of individuals—men and women alike—being subjected to what is essentially government-sanctioned rape by police in the course of “routine” traffic stops.

Drones: As corporations and government agencies alike prepare for their part in the coming drone invasion—it is expected that at least 30,000 drones will occupy U.S. airspace by 2020, ushering in a $30 billion per year industry—it won’t be long before American citizens find themselves to be the target of these devices. Drones—unmanned aerial vehicles—will come in all shapes and sizes, from nano-sized drones as small as a grain of sand that can do everything from conducting surveillance to detonating explosive charges, to middle-sized copter drones that can deliver pizzas to massive “hunter/killer” Predator warships that unleash firepower from on high.

Prisons: America’s prisons, housing the largest number of inmates in the world and still growing, have become money-making enterprises for private corporations that manage the prisons in exchange for the states agreeing to maintain a 90% occupancy rate for at least 20 years. And how do you keep the prisons full? By passing laws aimed at increasing the prison population, including the imposition of life sentences on people who commit minor or nonviolent crimes such as siphoning gasoline.

Censorship: First Amendment activities are being pummeled, punched, kicked, choked, chained and generally gagged all across the country. Free speech zones, bubble zones, trespass zones, anti-bullying legislation, zero tolerance policies, hate crime laws and a host of other legalistic maladies dreamed up by politicians and prosecutors have conspired to corrode our core freedoms. The reasons for such censorship vary widely from political correctness, safety concerns and bullying to national security and hate crimes but the end result remains the same: the complete eradication of what Benjamin Franklin referred to as the “principal pillar of a free government.”

Fascism: As a Princeton University survey indicates, our elected officials, especially those in the nation’s capital, represent the interests of the rich and powerful rather than the average citizen. We are no longer a representative republic. With Big Business and Big Government having fused into a corporate state, the president and his state counterparts—the governors—have become little more than CEOs of the Corporate State, which day by day is assuming more government control over our lives. Never before have average Americans had so little say in the workings of their government and even less access to their so-called representatives.

James Madison, the father of the Constitution, put it best when he warned: “Take alarm at the first experiment with liberties.” Anyone with even a casual knowledge about current events knows that the first experiment on our freedoms happened long ago.

We are fast moving past the point of no return when it comes to restoring our freedoms.

Worse, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we can barely see the old America with its revolutionary principles and value for independence in the rear view mirror. The only reality emerging generations will know is the one constructed for them by the powers-that-be, and you can rest assured that it will not be a reality that favors individuality, liberty or anything or anyone who challenges the status quo.

As a senior advisor to George W. Bush observed, “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

In other words, the government has been operating ten steps ahead for quite some time now, and we have yet to catch up, let alone catch our breath as the tides of change swirl around us.

You’d better tighten your seatbelts, folks, because we could be in for a rough ride in 2017.

# # # #

John W. Whitehead, Newsbud Contributing Author & Analyst,  is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. He is the president and spokesperson of the Rutherford Institute. Mr. Whitehead is the author of numerous books on a variety of legal and social issues, including A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Arkansas and a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law, and served as an officer in the United States Army from 1969 to 1971.

Newsbud Report with Peter B. Collins: Episode 4

From the Orlando Shooting to “Dissent Memo” on the Syrian War

In the latest Newsbud Report, we look at how the Orlando shootings are driving media and politics; we talk with abandoned CIA officer Sabrina de Sousa about her impending extradition to Italy; State Department veteran Peter van Buren comments on the “dissent memo” urging escalation of the Syrian war.Thanks for watching this Newsbud Report. If you have a news tip or story you think we should cover, email peter@peterbcollins.com

Show Notes

FBI Relented, Released Unredacted Transcript

Did FBI Attempt to Entrap Mateen Lead to “Radicalization”?

Orlando Shootings Exploited for Election Year Politics

Speaker Calls Adjournment to End Protest

Senate Narrowly Rejects Bill to Expand FBI Spying Powers

FBI Collects 411 Million Citizen Photos

FBI Seeks “General Warrants” to Hack Computers

51 State Dept. Officers Sign Memo Demanding Escalation of Syria War Against Assad Government

State Department Dissent Memo is Remarkable

Supreme Court Deadlock on Obama Immigration Orders

Supreme Court Weakens Protections from Illegal Searches

California’s Last Nuclear Plant Will Shut Down

Utility Waged 20-Year Fight to Shift Cost Overruns to Ratepayers

High Costs for Nuclear Power and Growth of Renewable Energy Led to Shutdown Decision

Probable Cause with Sibel Edmonds- “Kill First, Ask Later … Wait! Never mind! Don’t Ask or Answer Whatsoever!”

In this episode I provide a brief presentation on our dangerous and Kafkaesque world where our nation claims a 100% right to kill with no reason or explanation needed, a 100% right to kidnap and torture, and a 100% right to blacklist and surveil without having to show any justification. We are going to talk about a US code of operation that confidently says “Kill First, Ask Later … Wait! Actually never mind! Don’t Ask or Answer Whatsoever!” We’ll discuss our murders by drones, our secret no fly lists, secret surveillance target lists, and much more. You may consider yourself immunized from these factual absurdities, but I can assure you: You Are Wrong!

* Please do ‘Your’ share: Pledge and help us activate others to make Newsbud- A 100% People-Funded Media with Integrity a reality.

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Show Notes

Almost 2,500 Now Killed by Covert US Drone Strikes Since Obama Inauguration

Nearly 90 Percent of People Killed in Recent Drone Strikes Were Not the Target

Naming the dead: Only 10 of scores killed by US drones in Pakistan last year have been identified

Terror Suspects Are Frequent Targets of U.S. Drones

U.S. ‘Reasonably Certain’ Drone Strike Killed ‘Jihadi John’

‘Am I on the ‘No Fly’ List?’—and Other FAQs to the FBI

Why the no-fly list was declared unconstitutional

Processing Distortion with Peter B. Collins: Final Days of Oregon Standoff

Peter B. Collins Presents Attorney/Rancher Todd Macfarlane

In this follow-up to our recent interview, attorney, rancher and activist Todd Macfarlane provides details of the final days of the standoff in Oregon, and explains some of the history of western ranchers vs. government disputes over grazing rights on public lands. He shares eyewitness accounts of the death of LaVoy Finicum at the January 26 roadblock, and speculates about possible government infiltrators, like “Mark McConnell” who insisted on driving Ammon Bundy into the roadblock but was not arrested. We talk about many aspects of the final days of the occupation, and the arrest of Cliven Bundy before Macfarlane explains important history of rancher disputes over grazing rights and fees.

*Todd Macfarlane is the attorney for the Finicum family and an activist for western rancher rights. The report we refer to by Montana rancher Hal Herring is here. The article in the Daily Astorian about the two sheriffs is here.

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Processing Distortion with Peter B. Collins: The Real Story of Oregon Standoff

Peter B. Collins Presents Attorney Todd Macfarlane

Following his written commentary on the month-long occupation of a remote wildlife refuge near Burns, Oregon, Todd Macfarlane gives a detailed account of the history of rancher-government disputes, the Cliven Bundy confrontation in Nevada in 2014, and the occupation of Malheur by Bundy’s sons and others. Macfarlane spent 2 days there—unarmed—and is openly critical of Pete Santilli and other hotheads at the scene. He describes the over-reaction by political leaders and media, culminating in the roadblock January 26 where the group’s unofficial spokesman, LaVoy Finicum was killed. He represents the Finicum family, and is seeking answers to many important questions about the incident.

*Todd Macfarlane is an attorney, rancher, writer and political activist. He and his family own and operate the Turkey Track Ranch, near the small town of Kanosh, Utah. Todd is a veteran from earlier dust-ups in the sagebrush rebellion, having represented Mary Bullock and other ranchers in long-standing struggles with the federal government. Read his article here

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