The Growing Threat of the Police State

by Nick Giambruno, International Man:

Doug Casey, Jeff Thomas, and Nick Giambruno recently discussed a critical topic—the rise of a police state in the former “free” world.

Nick Giambruno: In my experience, the US has some of the most aggressive police in the world. I first noticed this when I started traveling many years ago.

I’ve also noticed that law-abiding citizens are more likely to encounter the police in the US. Both of these trends are accelerating.

What happened to “the boys in blue”—the friendly cop on the beat that everyone knew personally and trusted?

Doug Casey: The fact is that police forces throughout the US have been militarized. Every little town has a SWAT team, sometimes with armored personnel carriers. All of the Praetorian style agencies on the federal level—the FBI, CIA, NSA, and over a dozen others like them—have become very aggressive. Every single day in the US, there are scores of confiscations of people’s bank accounts, and dozens having their doors broken down in the wee hours of the night. The ethos in the US really seems to be changing right before our very eyes, and I think it’s quite disturbing. It’s a harbinger, I’m afraid, of what’s to come.

Jeff Thomas: Yes, this change has certainly been more prevalent in the US than elsewhere. And I don’t doubt that the black combat uniforms are intentional. Psychologically, combat gear is very threatening. It serves only one purpose—aggression. And blue is the color of officialdom, whilst black is the color of death. This, to me, was a very conscious change—maximum intimidation.

Nick Giambruno: Police training has also changed. The War on (some) Drugs and the so-called War on Terror have turbocharged police militarization. What are your thoughts?

Doug Casey: As a general rule, police are no longer trained as “peace officers.” They’re trained to be, and view themselves, as “law enforcement officers.” This is a very different thing. The police are a bigger threat to your property and your liberty, not to mention your life, than actual criminals. 

I started writing about the militarization of American police back in the 1990s, when it started happening in earnest. And it’s very disturbing, because the way a solider deals with the enemy is necessarily quite different from the way the police are supposed to deal with citizens.

The US has these numerous continuing wars around the world, so they wind up with lots of spare military equipment. And what to do with it? They bring it home and give it to the police because they think it might be helpful. And then, driving APCs and wearing body armor, the police get the wrong idea.

Furthermore, all the military vets—many of whom have extra Y chromosomes, as do most police generally—like the idea of wearing a uniform and like the idea of carrying a gun and giving and taking orders. They’re preferred hires for police forces. But they shouldn’t be, because you inevitably pick up bad habits, and inappropriate skills, hanging out in a war zone.

Jeff Thomas: Yes, this is very clear. Not long ago, I saw a training video where recruits were lined up, being drilled—punching their fists in the air, shouting in unison, “I have the power! I have the power,” over and over. This is the antithesis of the helpful neighborhood cop. It’s unquestionably Gestapo training and it’s borne out on the street. Police in the US, especially younger, recently-trained police, see the public as a threatening enemy and behave accordingly.

Nick Giambruno: So, what comes next?

Doug Casey: All these things compound upon the other. It’s a very bad trend. I see no reason why that trend is going to turn around. In fact, I expect it to accelerate, especially as the economy turns downhill and people become more restless and the Deep State feels that the plebs have to be kept under control. So, yeah, it’s a trend that’s been accelerating for several decades. And it’s going to keep accelerating until some type of a crisis blows it all up.

Jeff Thomas: The US government has consciously created a police state. Historically, whenever governments have done this, it was because they planned increased controls that they thought might incite rebellion. So the police state is created in advance to demonstrate that opposition to greater controls would be futile. We can therefore surmise that the controls that are on the way in the US are likely to be far more oppressive than at present.

Nick Giambruno: We’ve all travelled extensively. In fact, each of us currently lives abroad.

In your experience, do other countries have the same ultra-aggressive police?

Jeff Thomas: Certainly, every country now has riot police, but in many countries, they’re only trotted out in an emergency. I tend to rate countries based upon the ongoing presence of police in riot gear. The more prevalent they are, the less likely I am to want to spend a lot of time there. In the two countries where I spend most of my time, the cop on the beat doesn’t even wear a side arm.

Doug Casey: Here in Argentina, as blowback to the excesses of the military government 30 years back, the police and military are reviled or simply ignored by the public, relegated to a far more appropriate role as night watchmen. There is a very limited and nonthreatening police presence.

The average Argentine despises both the army and the police. This is a very good thing compared to, say, a country like Chile, where they actually love their army and police.

Jeff Thomas: Here’s an interesting point—I’ve spent a fair bit of time in Cuba over the years. This is a country that’s been characterized by the US government as oppressive in the extreme. But, even back in the early 90’s, I found the police there were, generally speaking, quite peaceable and even helpful. They carried pistols, but they could be talked to like anyone else. That’s still true today. It’s possible that, even today, if you yelled, “Kill Raul,” you might be escorted off to the hoosegow, but otherwise, you feel safe around the police. I can’t say the same about New York, Paris, or London. There, you feel… unease in the presence of police.

Nick Giambruno: The US has many vague, overly broad laws criminalizing mundane activities. It’s impossible for anyone to comply 100% of the time.

Many people think only major crimes like robbery and murder are felonies. But that isn’t true. Politicians have criminalized many ordinary activities through an ever-expanding mountain of laws and regulations.

It’s not that hard to commit a felony. Many victimless “crimes” are felonies.

A study by civil liberty lawyer Harvey Silverglate found that the average American inadvertently commits three felonies a day.

Today, there are thousands of federal crimes. The number is constantly increasing.

It brings to mind the words of the great Roman historian Tacitus: “The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.”

On that note, civil asset forfeiture is one of the most corrupting practices. It allows government agencies to grab private property without warning… then dare you to prove they’ve made a mistake.

What are your thoughts?

Doug Casey: You can be accused of almost anything by the government and have your assets seized without due process. Every year there are billions of dollars that are seized by various government entities, including local police departments, who get to keep a percentage of the proceeds, so this is a very corrupting thing.

People forget that when the US was founded there were only three federal crimes, and they are listed in the Constitution: treason, counterfeiting, and piracy. Now it’s estimated there are over 5,000 federal crimes, and that number is constantly increasing. This is very disturbing. It’s becoming Kafkaesque.

All the repressive aspects of government—civil forfeitures are just one—have been growing and compounding for years. It’s not a conspiracy; it’s the natural progression of all living organisms. They all want to grow, exert more control on their environments, and become more powerful. The problem is that government has unusual powers, and no longer seems to have many limits. So you can expect this trend to accelerate.

I saw the other day the government steals more from the American people through confiscations than is lost outright to robberies and muggings. It’s been reported that in 2015 civil forfeitures exceeded the amount stolen by all robbers. It’s quite amazing and disturbing.

Whenever a police department confiscates things under these laws, they get to keep some percentage. It varies but can be 10, 20, 30, 50 percent of what's confiscated, and they love it because the money goes to the local police department in question. They can use it for buying fun cop toys, or for buying further educational benefits, or whatever, for themselves. So, they're profiting from this stuff as directly as the criminals do that steal things from citizens. It's a total disaster.

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