Category Archives: Legal/Constitutional

Bill of Impeachment Against President Biden to Stop War with Russia!

117th Congress H.Res. XX
1st Session
Impeaching Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., President of the United States
For high crimes and misdemeanors

_____________________________________________________________________________
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
July 28, 2020
Mr./Ms. Y submitted the following resolution, which was referred to the Committee on Judiciary.

A RESOLUTION

Impeaching Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., President of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors.

Resolved. That Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., President of the United States, be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors, and that the following articles of impeachment be exhibited to the Senate:

Articles of Impeachment exhibited by the House of Representatives of the United States of America, against Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., President of the United States of America, in maintenance and support of its impeachment against him for high crimes and misdemeanors.

ARTICLE I

In the conduct of the office of President of the United States, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of the President of the United States, and to the best of his ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty, to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has engaged in a campaign of non-neutral acts and belligerent acts and acts of war against the Russian Federation without the express authorization of the United States Congress in violation of the War Powers Clause of the United States Constitution set forth in Article 1, Section 8 thereof and in violation of Congress’s own War Powers Resolution of 1973 set forth in 50 U.S.C. Sections 1541 to 1548. In all of this Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office.

ARTICLE II

In the conduct of the office of President of the United States, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of the President of the United States, and to the best of his ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty, to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has engaged in a campaign of non-neutral acts and belligerent acts and acts of war against the Russian Federation in violation of the United States Neutrality Legislation set forth in 18 U.S.C. Section 960, which is a crime. To wit:

§960. Expedition against friendly nation. Whoever, within the United States, knowingly begins or sets on foot or provides or prepares a means for or furnishes the money for, or takes part in, any military or naval expedition or enterprise to be carried on from thence against the territory or dominion of any foreign prince or state, or of any colony, district, or people with whom the United States is at peace, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both. (June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 745; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, §330016(1)(J), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147 (emphasis added).

The United States Congress has not declared war against the Russian Federation and therefore constitutionally and legally the United States of America still “is at peace” with the Russian Federation. In all of this Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office.

ARTICLE III

In the conduct of the office of President of the United States, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of the President of the United States, and to the best of his ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty, to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has engaged in a campaign of non-neutral acts and belligerent acts and acts of war against the Russian Federation in violation of the 1907 Hague Convention Respecting the Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers and Persons in Case of War on Land, 36 Stat. 2310, and in violation of the 1907 Hague Convention Concerning the Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers in Naval War, 36 Stat. 2415. Both of these Hague Neutrality Conventions are treaties to which the United States of America is a contracting party and thus “the supreme Law of the Land” under Article VI of the United States Constitution. Both the Russian Federation and Ukraine are also contracting parties to these two Hague Neutrality Conventions. In all of this Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office.

The post Bill of Impeachment Against President Biden to Stop War with Russia! first appeared on Dissident Voice.

How to Correct the Unconstitutional Rulings of the Current Supreme Court

OPTIONS. There are three means by which the unconstitutional rulings by the current Supreme Court could be lawfully corrected: (1) thru new legislation, or (2) & (3) thru changing the composition of the Court (either by adding 4 addition Judges or by removing and replacing the rogue Judges) followed by obtaining reconsideration of said rulings by the reconstituted Court.

(1) Corrective legislation is currently not achievable because the Senate majority is unable to muster the unity and will to reform the filibuster. Moreover, even if the Supreme Court’s rogue rulings were reversed by legislation; there is a strong possibility that said Court would nullify said legislation thereby bringing the effort to naught.

(2) Expanding the Court could only provide temporary protection against future rogue rulings, because future Republican control of the Senate and Presidency (a likely event after the 2024 election) could further expand the Court to restore a rogue-Judge majority.

(3) “Remove and replace” would maintain the current size of the Court, make it more difficult for Republicans to restore domination by rogue Judges, and provide more legitimacy for the reconstituted Court than the other option for reconstituting it. Consequently, “remove and replace” is the best option.

REMOVALS. The Constitution states and/or implies the procedures for removals of federal government office-holders as follows.

1. The Constitution explicitly provides two different procedures for removing misbehaving office-holders: one applicable to the legislative branch (Congress), and another applicable to Executive-branch office-holders (and possibly Judges) who have committed specified crimes. It does not explicitly provide a procedure or procedures for removals of office-holders in the Executive and Judicial branches in cases of noncriminal misbehavior (or other dissatisfaction with their performance); however, procedures in those cases are implicit in the Constitution.

2. Pursuant to Article I, section 5, removal (for cause) of a member of Congress is thru expulsion by a 2/3 vote by the membership in the targeted member’s legislative chamber.

3. Pursuant to Article II, section 4, the procedure for removal of “President, Vice President, and all civil Officers”, in cases of “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors”, is by impeachment (pursuant to Article I, section 2, [2]) by majority vote in the House of Representatives and conviction (pursuant to Article I, section 3, [6]) by 2/3 vote in the Senate.

4. It is implicit that the President and Vice President, as office-holders elected by and accountable to the electorate, cannot be removed except thru the aforementioned impeachment process or defeat in the next quadrennial election. (The President can be suspended, but not removed, pursuant to procedures provided in the 25th Amendment.)

5. Pursuant to Article III, section 1, Judges “shall hold their Offices during good Behavior”. Although not explicitly stated, it is clearly implied that Judges shall be removed upon engaging in bad behavior. Article III does not state a procedure for such removal. Therefore, that procedure or procedures must be ascertained by logical inference from what is stated elsewhere in the Constitution.

6. >Officials appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, as unelected appointees, can be (and have been) removed: by means other than the impeachment procedure, and for reasons other than the crimes specified in Article II, section 4. That procedure is implicitly inferred by the procedure thru which they are appointed.

7. Pursuant to Article II, section 2, the appointment procedure (with respect to “Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges […], and all other Officers […]”) is thru nomination and appointment by the President “with the Advice and Consent” (by majority vote) “of the Senate”. In the absence of any stated procedure for the removal of Presidential appointees for cause other than the crimes specified in Article II, section 4; by inference, the procedure for removals of said appointees must be thru reversal of the appointment procedure. Consequently, two removal procedures are Constitutionally applicable for Presidential appointees.

  • For removals in cases of “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors”, the impeachment procedure, which does not require consent of the President, certainly may be utilized.
  • For removals in cases wherein the impeachment procedure is inapplicable (as with non-criminal misbehavior) or is not preferred for other reasons, the logical inference is that said procedure should be a reversal of the appointment procedure, which is to say by proposal of the President with consent (by majority vote) in the Senate.

8. Legality. Historically, the power of the President to remove Presidential appointees has been an issue in controversy.

  • Congress, in the Tenure of Office Act (1867) and in an 1876 Act specific to postmasters, required Senate approval for the President to remove Senate-approved Executive branch Officials. However, the Supreme Court (in a split decision with 3 dissents) ruled, in Myers v. United States (1926), that the President may unilaterally remove Executive Branch Officers sans Senate consent. Subsequently, in Humphrey’s Executor v. United States (1935), the Court narrowed that ruling so that Officials occupying quasi-legislative and quasi-judicial positions could be removed only thru procedures set by Congress, thereby limiting the President’s power to unilaterally remove Senate-approved Officials to those who are directly subordinate to the President.
  • Because Judges serve in a separate and independent branch of government (established by Article III); it is implicit, and has always been accepted, that the President lacks the power to unilaterally remove them. However, it is entirely consistent with the Constitution, to recognize the power of the first two branches (Legislative and Executive) to hold Judges accountable to their oaths (required by Article VI) by removing misbehaving Judges thru Presidential proposal with consent of the Senate. It makes no sense to require a 2/3 Senate vote to remove a misbehaving Judge when a mere majority is sufficient to appoint said Judge. Could the Courts rule such removal procedure unlawful? Because of their conflict of interest, the Courts would lack standing to decide the issue. Consequently, the power to make the removal of Judges, thru Presidential proposal and consent of the Senate, procedurally operational rests with the President and Senate.

9. Noncriminal misbehavior is neither covered by Article II, section 4 nor explicitly addressed elsewhere in the Constitution. Cases wherein such misbehavior would justify removal of a Judge (upon proposal by the President and with the consent of the Senate), includes judicial rulings by which a Judge substitutes his/her personal prejudices and preferences for the actual provisions of the Constitution and/or other valid laws, that is to say cases wherein the Judge abuses his/her power and thereby violates his/her oath (Article VI) by engaging in “judicial activism” and “legislating from the bench”.

RULINGS IN NEED OF CORRECTION. Rogue Judges on the current Supreme Court have perpetrated multiple rulings which violate their oaths to rule in accordance with the actual content of the Constitution and other valid laws. Some examples, far short of a complete list.

1. Using the “major question” pretext, six Supreme Court Judges, in West Virginia v. EPA (2022), nullified public interest regulations clearly authorized by statute, namely with respect to the regulation of climate-harming power-plant CO2 emissions. Said Judges “justified” so doing with the implausible assertion that the relevant statute is insufficiently specific in granting, to the regulatory agency, the power to make such regulation.

2. Using an inherently arbitrary and abuse-prone “originalism”, five Supreme Court Judges are cherry-picking historical events in order to create their pretext for nullifying civil and human rights, rights explicitly and/or implicitly provided by the Constitution. Case in point, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (2022), said Judges ignored the historical fact that abortion prior to quickening (4 months) was a right accepted, allowed, and commonly practiced by women at the time of enactment of the Constitution and its 9th Amendment which implicitly prohibits state action to “deny” unenumerated “rights” “retained by the people”. Moreover, in permitting states to impose reproductive bondage upon pregnant women by compelling them to carry unwanted pregnancies to term, said Judges ignored the 13th Amendment prohibition against “involuntary servitude” and the 14th Amendment prohibitions which disallow any law which would “abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens” or “deprive any person of […] liberty […] without due process of law”. Even if, as the rogue Judges assert, the foregoing Amendments, when enacted, were not intended to protect the rights of women; certainly, the enactment of the 19th Amendment, which provides for women to be full citizens, extended the protections in those Amendments to women.

3. Using an arbitrary and implausible presumption of state-legislature innocence in their partisan and racially discriminatory redistricting decisions despite their histories of abuse, five Supreme Court Judges ruled, in Abbott v. Perez (2018), that anti-democracy gerrymanders, which give voters of one political Party and/or race disproportionate political power, in violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and of the 14th Amendment prohibition against denial of “the equal protection of the laws”, cannot be nullified by the federal Courts.

4. Using a concocted extension of 1st Amendment rights (free speech and religious liberty) to business corporations to which the Constitution never intended said rights to apply; rogue Supreme Court Judges, in accordance with their pro-business and religious biases, nullified valid regulatory laws thereby violating Article I, section 8 which gives Congress the power to “regulate Commerce”, a power which must be construed in accordance with the relevant purpose of the Constitution as stated in its Preamble, namely “to promote the general Welfare”. Said corporations, the existence of which is nowhere acknowledged in the Constitution, are artificial entities which exist only thru the granting of their Charters. Said Charters are granted by the state and specify the powers and purposes of said corporate entities. Those specified purposes involve commerce; they do not include voting or religious activity, activities in which only human persons can engage. Moreover, it is implicit that the owners of said corporations, being shielded from liability for the wrongful acts of said entities, have no right to extend personal rights (free speech and religious liberty) to said entities. Cases in point: Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010) which gives corporations unlimited campaign-spending political speech, and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., which permits some corporations to claim religious objection in order to refuse compliance with a legally valid healthcare mandate to provide specified healthcare benefits for their employees. Said Judges purport to being “originalists” when it comes to depriving people of rights actually provided by the Constitution, but not when creating, for corporations, rights which do not exist for them in said Constitution.

5. It is not only in recent history that Supreme Court Judges have made rulings wherein they substituted their personal prejudices for the Constitution. Notorious past examples include: Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) decided 7 to 1, Buck v. Bell (1927) decided 8 to 1, and Dennis v. United States (1951) decided 6 to 2. In those cases, victims and Constitutionalists lacked the political power to overcome the consequent injustices. Currently, the Democrats, who purport to oppose the abuses of judicial power by the current six Republican appointees to the Court, control the Presidency and possess the power to rule both chambers of the Congress. Consequently, if they can muster the unity and the will, they possess the power (the filibuster being inapplicable to appointments of Judges) to remove and replace those rogue Judges and then obtain reconsiderations on the Court’s wrongful rulings.

WHAT TO DO. In order to correct the anti-democratic abuses perpetrated by the Republican-appointees on the Court, it will be necessary for activists to think outside the box and to induce the Democrats to take bold action.

1. Necessary measures.

(1) Organize a broad coalition (of the many constituencies harmed by the Court’s various unconstitutional rulings) to stage massively huge protest rallies to demand the removal and replacement of the rogue Supreme Court Judges (mass protest actions which should be achievable given the widespread popular outrage over said Supreme Court rulings).

(2) Persuade Senate Democrats to depoliticize federal Court appointments: by creating a Federal Judicial Commission (as described in 2 below) to make recommendations for appointments and removals of federal Judges.

(3) Persuade the President and Senate Democrats to then use said Commission to remove and replace the misbehaving Supreme Court Judges.

(4) Persuade the reconstituted Court to reconsider and reverse the wrongful rulings of the current rogue Judges (most urgently in West Virginia, Dobbs, and Abbott).

(5) If predominantly Republican gerrymanders cannot be reversed before the 2022 Congressional elections, induce Democrats in the House to refuse to seat as many of the elected Republicans as are disproportionately elected due to their unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders and to order their states’ elections to be repeated with newly drawn districts which are compliant with the VRA and the 14th Amendment, districts to be drawn so as to produce representation proportional to each party’s share of the statewide vote).

None of the foregoing actions require abolishing or reforming the Senate filibuster. At least two Democrat Senators refuse to even reform the filibuster so as to prevent its use against legislation to enforce human and civil rights provided by the Constitution; they evidently delude themselves that Senator McConnell and his Republicans will preserve it when it stands in their way when they regain a Senate majority (which is very likely if Democrats continue to fail to deliver for their base constituencies).

2. The proposed Federal Judicial Commission should be formed as follows.

  • Said Commission will be composed of a set number of independent Constitutional law experts, possibly to be recommended by an appropriate body to be established by the American Bar Association [ABA]. It will be the responsibility of the Senate, probably in consultation with the ABA, to create said Commission.
  • Said Commission will select and maintain a sufficient panel of qualified candidates for appointment as federal Judges, a panel from which the President would be required to select his appointees to Judicial vacancies. (The President, as well as Senators, could, of course, propose candidates for consideration by the Commission.) Only candidates, who satisfy the following criteria, will be deemed qualified. (1) They must be genuinely committed to uphold all of the human and civil rights (including unenumerated rights) provided to humans by the Constitution. (2) They must be committed to interpret the Constitution: beginning with the text, but recognizing that deviations from the text will be necessary in contemporary circumstances which the framers did not anticipate, insofar as their current counterparts would reasonably be expected to modify said text as appropriate in order to serve the purposes of the Constitution as stated in its Preamble and in its provisions of civil and human rights.
  • The Senate will adopt rules: that it may not consider any Judgeship nominee who has not been vetted and approved by the Commission, and that it will provide prompt consideration and decision with respect to any properly vetted Presidential nominee.
  • Whenever a credible complaint of misbehavior by a sitting Judge is presented to the Commission, it will investigate and make a finding. If it finds, after providing the accused Judge with an opportunity to answer the pertinent accusations, that the accused Judge is guilty of misbehavior justifying removal; it will recommend that action. Thereupon, the President, will be expected (though not Constitutionally required) to propose to the Senate that the subject Judge be removed. If the Senate concurs, said Judge will then be removed.

3. What if removed Judges or their supporters resist? Then the President, as Commander-in-Chief in control of the coercive state power, can and must employ that power to induce compliance. Mass protest rallies in support of the foregoing “remove and replace” option will make it much easier to effectuate it.

4. With their bold campaign promises, and with their incapacity and failure to deliver, and with their longstanding subservience to big-money special interests to the detriment of much of their disheartened base constituencies; Biden and his Democrats, as it stands currently, are likely to lose their potential to control the federal government, in the upcoming 2022 and 2024 elections. Moreover, they appear oblivious to the adage “use it or lose it”. Trump Republicans, where they control government, exhibit no such hesitation. With their current policies and given the near-certain 2022 election outcome (Democrat loss of its House majority and doubt as their holding their ineffective majority in the Senate), the Democrats have everything to gain and nothing to lose by taking the bold action proposed herein.

5. Given how weak-willed and faint-hearted so many Democrat politicians are, persuading them to take the bold action, which is necessary, may be a long shot. That could be the case with respect to the any of the aforementioned three options. Nevertheless, for progressive activists not to demand and seriously press for bold action is not an acceptable option.

The post How to Correct the Unconstitutional Rulings of the Current Supreme Court first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Dismantling the Constitution

That was when they suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary. There wasn’t even any rioting in the streets. People stayed home at night, watching television, looking for some direction. There wasn’t even an enemy you could put your finger on.

— Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

We are witnessing the gradual dismantling of every constitutional principle that serves as a bulwark against government tyranny, overreach and abuse.

As usual, the latest assault comes from the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a 6-3 ruling in Vega v. Tekoh, the Supreme Court took aim at the Miranda warnings, which require that police inform suspects that they have a right against self-incrimination when in police custody: namely, that they have a right to remain silent, to have an attorney present, and that anything they say and do can and will be used against them in a court of law.

Although the Supreme Court stopped short of overturning its 1966 ruling in Miranda v. Arizona, the conservative majority declared that individuals cannot hold police accountable for violating their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.

By shielding police from lawsuits arising from their failure to Mirandize suspects, the Supreme Court has sent a message to police that they no longer have to respect a suspect’s right to remain silent.

In other words, concludes legal analyst Nick Sibilla, “the Supreme Court has effectively created a new legal immunity for cops accused of infringing on the Fifth Amendment’s protection against self-incrimination.”

Why is this important?

In totality, the rights enshrined in the Fifth Amendment speak to the Founders’ determination to protect the rights of the individual against a government with a natural inclination towards corruption, tyranny and thuggery.

The Founders were especially concerned with balancing the scales of justice in such a way that the innocent and the accused were not railroaded and browbeaten by government agents into coerced confessions, false convictions, or sham trials.

Indeed, so determined were the Founders to safeguard the rights of the innocent, even if it meant allowing a guilty person to go free, that Benjamin Franklin insisted, “It is better a hundred guilty persons should escape than one innocent person should suffer.”

Two hundred-plus years later, the Supreme Court (aided and abetted by the police state, Congress and Corporate America) has flipped that longstanding presumption of innocence on its head.

In our present suspect society, “we the people” are all presumed guilty until proven innocent.

With the Vega ruling, we have even fewer defenses for warding off government chicanery, abuse, threats and entrapment.

To be clear, the Supreme Court is not saying that we don’t have the right to remain silent when in police custody. It’s merely saying that we can’t sue the police for violating that right.

It’s a subtle difference but a significant one that could well encourage police to engage in the very sort of egregious misconduct at the heart of the Vega case: in which a police officer investigating a sexual assault isolated a suspect in a small, windowless room; refused him access to a lawyer or work colleagues; accused him of molesting a female patient; threatened him with violence; implied that he and his family would be deported; and terrorized him into signing a false confession dictated by the cop.

Although Terence Tekoh was eventually tried and acquitted, the Supreme Court refused to hold police accountable for browbeating an innocent man into making a false confession.

The Vega ruling threatens to turn the clocks back to a time when police resorted to physical brutality (beating, hanging, whipping) and mental torture in order to obtain confessions from suspects without ever informing them of their Fifth Amendment rights.

This was exactly the kind of misconduct that the Warren Court sought to discourage with its 5-4 ruling in Miranda v. Arizona.

As the Court concluded in Miranda almost 60 years ago:

The prosecution may not use statements, whether exculpatory or inculpatory, stemming from custodial interrogation of the defendant unless it demonstrates the use of procedural safeguards effective to secure the privilege against self-incrimination. By custodial interrogation, we mean questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way. As for the procedural safeguards to be employed, unless other fully effective means are devised to inform accused persons of their right of silence and to assure a continuous opportunity to exercise it, the following measures are required. Prior to any questioning, the person must be warned that he has a right to remain silent, that any statement he does make may be used as evidence against him, and that he has a right to the presence of an attorney, either retained or appointed. The defendant may waive effectuation of these rights, provided the waiver is made voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently. If, however, he indicates in any manner and at any stage of the process that he wishes to consult with an attorney before speaking, there can be no questioning. Likewise, if the individual is alone and indicates in any manner that he does not wish to be interrogated, the police may not question him. The mere fact that he may have answered some questions or volunteered some statements on his own does not deprive him of the right to refrain from answering any further inquiries until he has consulted with an attorney and thereafter consents to be questioned.

The end result as one analyst notes: “Miranda v. Arizona, in creating the ‘Miranda Rights’ we take for granted today, reconciled the increasing police powers of the state with the basic rights of individuals.”

By largely doing away with Miranda, the Supreme Court has made its present position clear: anything goes if you’re a cop in the American police state.

Indeed, pay close to attention to the Court’s rulings lately, and the broader picture that emerges is of a judiciary that is playing fast and loose with the rule of law, picking and choose which rights to uphold and which can be discarded, in order to expand the power of the police state at the expense of the people’s rights.

If left unchecked, this constitutionally illiterate ruling will open the door to a new era of police abuses.

By shielding police from charges of grave misconduct while throwing the book at Americans for violating any of a rapidly expanding assortment of so-called crimes, the government has created a world in which there are two sets of laws: one set for the government and its gun-toting agents, and another set for you and me.

If you’re a cop in the American police state, you can already break the law in a myriad of ways without suffering any major, long-term consequences.

Indeed, not only are cops protected from most charges of wrongdoing—whether it’s shooting unarmed citizens (including children and old people), raping and abusing young women, falsifying police reports, trafficking drugs, or soliciting sex with minors—but even on the rare occasions when they are fired for misconduct, it’s only a matter of time before they get re-hired again.

For instance, police officer Jackie Neal was accused of putting his hands inside a woman’s panties, lifting up her shirt and feeling her breasts during a routine traffic stop. He remained on the police force. A year later, Neal was accused of digitally penetrating another woman. Still, he wasn’t fired or disciplined.

A few years after that, Neal—then serving as supervisor of the department’s youth program—was suspended for three days for having sex with a teenage girl participating in the program. As Reuters reports, “Neal never lost a dime in pay or a day off patrol: The union contract allowed him to serve the suspension using vacation days.”

Later that same year, Neal was arrested on charges that he handcuffed a woman in the rear seat of his police vehicle and then raped her. He was eventually fined $5,000 and sentenced to 14 months in prison, with five months off for “work and education.” The taxpayers of San Antonio got saddled with $500,000 to settle the case.

Now here’s the kicker: when the local city council attempted to amend the police union contract to create greater accountability for police misconduct, the police unions flexed their muscles and engaged in such a heated propaganda campaign that the city backed down.

This is how perverse justice in America has become, and it’s happening all across the country.

Incredibly, while our own constitutional protections against government abuses continue to be dismantled, a growing number of states are adopting Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBoR)—written by police unions—which provides police officers accused of a crime with special due process rights and privileges not afforded to the average citizen.

In other words, the LEOBoR protects police officers from being treated as we are treated during criminal investigations: questioned unmercifully for hours on end, harassed, harangued, browbeaten, denied food, water and bathroom breaks, subjected to hostile interrogations, and left in the dark about our accusers and any charges and evidence against us.

These LEOBoRs epitomize everything that is wrong with America today.

Now every so often, police officers engaged in wrongdoing are actually charged for abusing their authority and using excessive force against American citizens. Occasionally, those officers are even sentenced for their crimes against the citizenry.

Yet in just about every case, it’s still the American taxpayer who foots the bill.

The ones who rarely ever feel the pinch are the officers accused or convicted of wrongdoing, “even if they are disciplined or terminated by their department, criminally prosecuted, or even imprisoned.”

In fact, police officers are more likely to be struck by lightning than be held financially accountable for their actions.

No matter which way you spin it, “we the people” are always on the losing end of the deal.

With the Supreme Court’s ruling in Vega v. Tekoh, the scales of justice have shifted out of balance even more.

Brace yourselves: as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, things are about to get downright ugly.

The post Dismantling the Constitution first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Major Questions Doctrine: The US Supreme Court Blunts the EPA

The US Supreme Court has been frantically busy of late, striking down law and legislation with an almost crazed, ideological enthusiasm.  Gun laws have been invalidated; Roe v Wade and constitutional abortion rights, confined to history.  And now, the Environmental Protection Agency has been clipped of its powers in a 6-3 decision.

The June 30 decision of West Virginia v Environmental Protection Agency was something of a shadow boxing act.  The Clean Power Plan, which was the target of the bench, never came into effect.  In 2016, the Supreme Court effectively blocked the plan, which was announced by President Barack Obama in August 2015.  It has been originally promulgated under the Clean Air Act.

In 2019, the Trump administration repealed the CPP, replacing it with the Affordable Clean Energy Rule.  It argued that the EPA’s authority under Section 7411 of the Clean Air Act only extended to measures pertinent to the plant’s premises, rather than industry-wide measures suggested by the CPP.  The ACER vested states with the discretion to set standards and grant power plants much latitude in complying with them.  In their decision, the DC Circuit vacated the repeal of the CPP by the Trump administration, and the ACER, sending it back to the EPA.  In effect, the EPA’s powers of regulation were held to be intact.

The Clean Power Plan was intended as a mechanism by which targets for each state could be set for each state vis-à-vis reducing carbon dioxide emissions stemming from power plants.  At the time the EPA touted it as laying “the first-ever national standards that address carbon pollution from power plants” which would cut “significant amounts of power plant carbon pollution and the pollutants that cause the soot and smog that harm health, while advancing clean energy innovation, development and deployment”.  And the plan would also lay the basis “for the long-term strategy needed to tackle the threat of climate change.”

A vital aspect of the Plan was also using “generation shifting”, creating more power from renewable energy sources and natural gas while improving the efficiency of current coal-fired power plants.  Such a shift through the entire sector to cleaner resources constituted, in language drawn from the 1970 Clean Air Act, a “best system of emission reduction” (BSER). Amongst its predictions, the Agency projected that coal could provide 27% of national electricity generation by 2030, down from the 2014 level of 38%.

Coal companies and various Republican-governed states litigated on the matter, arguing before the Supreme Court that the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit had erred in accepting the EPA’s reading of the Clean Air Act as granting the agency vast powers to regulate carbon emissions.

This entire process struck an odd note, precisely because the CPP had not been reinstated by a Biden administration which intends to pass new rules on power plant carbon emissions.  This did not stop the Chief Justice John Roberts and his fellow judges from readying for judicial battle.  Merely because a government had ceased conduct central to the case did not stay the court’s intervention.  This would only happen if it was “absolutely clear that the allegedly wrongful behaviour could not be reasonably expected to recur.”  With the Biden administration defending the methods used by the EPA under the Obama administration, one could not be sure.

Enter, then, the looming, and brooding question of US constitutional law: the “major questions doctrine”.  According to the doctrine, one that was prominently used in 2000 to invalidate attempts by the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco, questions of “vast economic or political significance” cannot be regulated without clear approval for such measures from Congress.

The EPA argued that under the doctrine, a clear statement was required to conclude that Congress had intended to delegate authority “of its breath to regulate a fundamental sector of the economy”.  Having found none, the agency even went so far as to say that Congress had taken measures to preclude such policies as generation shifting.

For the majority, there was little doubt that this constituted a “major questions case”.  The question that exercised the majority, according to Chief Justice Roberts, was “whether the ‘best system of emission reduction’ identified by EPA in the Clean Power Plan was within the authority” of section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act.  The EPA’s own words – that it had discovered “in long-extant statute an unheralded power” which represented a “transformative expansion in [its] regulatory authority”, clearly troubled the majority.  The Agency’s discovery of this power was then used “to adopt a regulatory program that Congress had conspicuously and repeatedly declined to act itself.”

To this, the majority took clear umbrage.  Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act had never formed the basis for rules of such transformative magnitude as that implied by the Clean Power Plan.  While Justice Roberts accepted that, “Capping carbon dioxide emissions at a level that will force nationwide transition away from the use of coal to generate may be a sensible ‘solution to the crisis of the day’,” but only Congress could adopt “a decision of such magnitude and consequence.”

Justice Neil Gorsuch, in a concurring opinion joined by Justice Samuel Alito, also gave the major questions doctrine heft by claiming it shielded against “unintentional, oblique, or otherwise unlikely’ intrusions” upon such questions as “self-government, equality, fair notice, federalism, and the separation of powers.”

In her dissenting ruling, Justice Elena Kagan, accompanied by Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor, found that the EPA’s interpretation and position could be contextually and logically justified.  Resorting to the “major questions doctrine” was fanciful here, given that previous decisions had simply used the old, ordinary method of statutory interpretation.  The decision of an agency had been struck down because it had operated “far outside its traditional lane, so that it had no viable claim of expertise or experience.”  Had such decisions been also allowed, they would have “conflicted, or even wreaked havoc on, Congress’s broader design.”

In this case, the Clean Power Plan clearly fell “within the EPA’s wheelhouse, and it fits perfectly […] with all the Clean Air Act’s provisions.”  The Plan, despite being ambitious and consequential in the field of public policy, did not fail because of it.  Congress had wanted the EPA to discharge such functions.

What is available to the EPA has been dramatically pared back.  The Agency can still mandate coal-fire plants to operate more efficiently by adopting various technological measures, such as carbon capture and storage technology.  Apart from being prohibitive, this will have the effect of extending the operating lives of such climate change agents.

Justice Kagan’s words, in conclusion, are caustic and suitable for the occasion.  The Roberts-led majority had not only overstepped by usurping a critical domain of expertise and policy.  “The Court appoints itself – instead of Congress or the expert agency – the decisionmaker on climate policy. I cannot think of many things more frightening.”  Across the US, regulatory regimes – except those approved by Republican and conservative groups – are being readied for a judicial felling by the sword of the major questions doctrine.  Federal Agencies, if they have not already done so, will be girding their loins and readying for battle.

The post The Major Questions Doctrine: The US Supreme Court Blunts the EPA first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Declare Your Independence from Tyranny, America

Imagine living in a country where armed soldiers crash through doors to arrest and imprison citizens merely for criticizing government officials.

Imagine that in this very same country, you’re watched all the time, and if you look even a little bit suspicious, the police stop and frisk you or pull you over to search you on the off chance you’re doing something illegal.

Keep in mind that if you have a firearm of any kind (or anything that resembled a firearm) while in this country, it may get you arrested and, in some circumstances, shot by police.

If you’re thinking this sounds like America today, you wouldn’t be far wrong.

However, the scenario described above took place more than 200 years ago, when American colonists suffered under Great Britain’s version of an early police state. It was only when the colonists finally got fed up with being silenced, censored, searched, frisked, threatened, and arrested that they finally revolted against the tyrant’s fetters.

No document better states their grievances than the Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson.

A document seething with outrage over a government which had betrayed its citizens, the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, by 56 men who laid everything on the line, pledged it all—“our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor”—because they believed in a radical idea: that all people are created to be free. [Sounds so humanistic until one reads that they demeaned the Indigenous peoples as “merciless Indian Savages” — DV ed]

Labeled traitors, these men were charged with treason, a crime punishable by death. For some, their acts of rebellion would cost them their homes and their fortunes. For others, it would be the ultimate price—their lives.

Yet even knowing the heavy price they might have to pay, these men dared to speak up when silence could not be tolerated. Even after they had won their independence from Great Britain, these new Americans worked to ensure that the rights they had risked their lives to secure would remain secure for future generations.

The result: our Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution.

Imagine the shock and outrage these 56 men would feel were they to discover that 246 years later, the government they had risked their lives to create has been transformed into a militaristic police state in which exercising one’s freedoms—at a minimum, merely questioning a government agent—is often viewed as a flagrant act of defiance.

In fact, had the Declaration of Independence been written today, it would have rendered its signers extremists or terrorists, resulting in them being placed on a government watch list, targeted for surveillance of their activities and correspondence, and potentially arrested, held indefinitely, stripped of their rights and labeled enemy combatants.

Read the Declaration of Independence again, and ask yourself if the list of complaints tallied by Jefferson don’t bear a startling resemblance to the abuses “we the people” are suffering at the hands of the American police state.

Here’s what the Declaration of Independence might look and sound like if it were written in the modern vernacular:

There comes a time when a populace must stand united and say “enough is enough” to the government’s abuses, even if it means getting rid of the political parties in power.

Believing that “we the people” have a natural and divine right to direct our own lives, here are truths about the power of the people and how we arrived at the decision to sever our ties to the government:

All people are created equal.

All people possess certain innate rights that no government or agency or individual can take away from them. Among these are the right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The government’s job is to protect the people’s innate rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. The government’s power comes from the will of the people.

Whenever any government abuses its power, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish that government and replace it with a new government that will respect and protect the rights of the people.

It is not wise to get rid of a government for minor transgressions. In fact, as history has shown, people resist change and are inclined to suffer all manner of abuses to which they have become accustomed.

However, when the people have been subjected to repeated abuses and power grabs, carried out with the purpose of establishing a tyrannical government, people have a right and duty to do away with that tyrannical government and to replace it with a new government that will protect and preserve their innate rights for their future wellbeing.

This is exactly the state of affairs we are under suffering under right now, which is why it is necessary that we change this imperial system of government.

The history of the present Imperial Government is a history of repeated abuses and power grabs, carried out with the intention of establishing absolute tyranny over the country.

To prove this, consider the following:

The government has, through its own negligence and arrogance, refused to adopt urgent and necessary laws for the good of the people.

The government has threatened to hold up critical laws unless the people agree to relinquish their right to be fully represented in the Legislature.

In order to expand its power and bring about compliance with its dictates, the government has made it nearly impossible for the people to make their views and needs heard by their representatives.

The government has repeatedly suppressed protests arising in response to its actions.

The government has obstructed justice by refusing to appoint judges who respect the Constitution and has instead made the courts march in lockstep with the government’s dictates.

The government has allowed its agents to harass the people, steal from them, jail them and even execute them.

The government has directed militarized government agents—a.k.a., a standing army—to police domestic affairs in peacetime.

The government has turned the country into a militarized police state.

The government has conspired to undermine the rule of law and the constitution in order to expand its own powers.

The government has allowed its militarized police to invade our homes and inflict violence on homeowners.

The government has failed to hold its agents accountable for wrongdoing and murder under the guise of “qualified immunity.”

The government has jeopardized our international trade agreements.

The government has overtaxed us without our permission.

The government has denied us due process and the right to a fair trial.

The government has engaged in extraordinary rendition.

The government has continued to expand its military empire in collusion with its corporate partners-in-crime and occupy foreign nations.

The government has eroded fundamental legal protections and destabilized the structure of government.

The government has not only declared its federal powers superior to those of the states but has also asserted its sovereign power over the rights of “we the people.”

The government has ceased to protect the people and instead waged domestic war against the people.

The government has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, and destroyed the lives of the people.

The government has employed private contractors and mercenaries to carry out acts of death, desolation and tyranny, totally unworthy of a civilized nation.

The government through its political propaganda has pitted its citizens against each other.

The government has stirred up civil unrest and laid the groundwork for martial law.

Repeatedly, we have asked the government to cease its abuses. Each time, the government has responded with more abuse.

An Imperial Ruler who acts like a tyrant is not fit to govern a free people.

We have repeatedly sounded the alarm to our fellow citizens about the government’s abuses. We have warned them about the government’s power grabs. We have appealed to their sense of justice. We have reminded them of our common bonds.

They have rejected our plea for justice and brotherhood. They are equally at fault for the injustices being carried out by the government.

Thus, for the reasons mentioned above, we the people of the united States of America declare ourselves free from the chains of an abusive government. Relying on God’s protection, we pledge to stand by this Declaration of Independence with our lives, our fortunes and our honor.

In the 246 years since early Americans first declared and eventually won their independence from Great Britain, “we the people” have managed to work ourselves right back under the tyrant’s thumb.

Only this time, the tyrant is one of our own making: the American Police State.

The abuses meted out by an imperial government and endured by the American people have not ended. They have merely evolved.

“We the people” are still being robbed blind by a government of thieves.

We are still being taken advantage of by a government of scoundrels, idiots and monsters.

We are still being locked up by a government of greedy jailers.

We are still being spied on by a government of Peeping Toms.

We are still being ravaged by a government of ruffians, rapists and killers.

We are still being forced to surrender our freedoms—and those of our children—to a government of extortionists, money launderers and corporate pirates.

And we are still being held at gunpoint by a government of soldiers: a standing army in the form of a militarized police.

Given the fact that we are a relatively young nation, it hasn’t taken very long for an authoritarian regime to creep into power.

Unfortunately, the bipartisan coup that laid siege to our nation did not happen overnight.

It snuck in under our radar, hiding behind the guise of national security, the war on drugs, the war on terror, the war on immigration, political correctness, hate crimes and a host of other official-sounding programs aimed at expanding the government’s power at the expense of individual freedoms.

The building blocks for the bleak future we’re just now getting a foretaste of—police shootings of unarmed citizens, profit-driven prisons, weapons of compliance, a wall-to-wall surveillance state, pre-crime programs, a suspect society, school-to-prison pipelines, militarized police, overcriminalization, SWAT team raids, endless wars, etc.—were put in place by government officials we trusted to look out for our best interests.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, the problems we are facing will not be fixed overnight: that is the grim reality with which we must contend.

Yet that does not mean we should give up or give in or tune out. What we need to do is declare our independence from the tyranny of the American police state.

The post Declare Your Independence from Tyranny, America first appeared on Dissident Voice.

It is Not Love that Abandons Its Treaties

The Tsilhqot’in Struggle

On 26 March 2018, Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau spoke of the six Tsilhqot’in chiefs who were arrested during a sacred peace-pipe ceremony and subsequently hanged for their part in a war to prevent the spread of smallpox by colonialists: “We recognize that these six chiefs were leaders of a nation, that they acted in accordance with their laws and traditions and that they are well regarded as heroes of their people.”

“They acted as leaders of a proud and independent nation facing the threat of another nation.”

“As settlers came to the land in the rush for gold, no consideration was given to the rights of the Tsilhqot’in people who were there first,” Trudeau said. “No consent was sought.”

In recent years, the Tsilhqot’in people were engaged in a long, drawn-out fight to gain sovereignty over their unceded territory, spurred by the attempts of Taseko Mines to situate an open-pit copper-and-gold mine near the trout-rich Teẑtan Biny (Fish Lake). Also proposed was “destroying Yanah Biny (Little Fish Lake) and the Tŝilhqot’in homes and graves located near that lake, to make way for a massive tailings pond.”

The Supreme Court decision in Tsilhqot’in Nation v British Columbia, (2014), upheld Indigenous title as declared in an earlier Supreme Court decision, Delgamuukw v British Columbia, (1997).

The Wet’suwet’in Struggle

Sometimes the law works (even colonial law), and sometimes it doesn’t. Neither the Tsilhqot’in or Delgamuukw legal precedents have, so far, buttressed the Wet’suwet’en people’s fight against the encroachment of a pipeline corporation.

In the unceded territory of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, corporate Canada and the government of Canada are violently seeking to ram a pipeline through Wet’suwet’en territory despite its rejection by all five hereditary chiefs; i.e., no consent has been given for the laying of a pipeline.

The Gidimt’en land defenders of the Wet’suwet’en turned to the international forum and made a submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous People on the “Militarization of Wet’suwet’en Lands and Canada’s Ongoing Violations.”  The submission was co-authored by leading legal, academic, and human rights experts in Canada, and is supported by over two dozen organisations such as the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and Amnesty International-Canada.

The submission to the UN was presented by hereditary chief Dinï ze’ Woos (Frank Alec), Gidimt’en Checkpoint spokesperson Sleydo’ (Molly Wickham), and Gidimt’en Checkpoint media coordinator Jen Wickham. It makes the case that forced industrialization by Coastal GasLink and police militarization on Wet’suwet’en land is a repudiation of Canada’s international obligations as stipulated in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Their submission states:

Ongoing human rights violations, militarization of Wet’suwet’en lands, forcible removal and criminalization of peaceful land defenders, and irreparable harm due to industrial destruction of Wet’suwet’en lands and cultural sites are occurring despite declarations by federal and provincial governments for reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. By deploying legal, political, and economic tactics to violate our rights, Canada and BC are contravening the spirit of reconciliation, as well as their binding obligations to Indigenous law, Canadian constitutional law, UNDRIP and international law.

Sleydo’ relates the situation:

We urge the United Nations to conduct a field visit to Wet’suwet’en territory because Canada and BC have not withdrawn RCMP from our territory and have not suspended Coastal GasLink’s permits, despite the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination calling on them to do so. Wet’suwet’en is an international frontline to protect the rights of Indigenous peoples and to prevent climate change. Yet we are intimidated and surveilled by armed RCMP, smeared as terrorists, and dragged through colonial courts. This is the reality of Canada.

In the three large-scale police actions that have transpired on Wet’suwet’en territory since January 2019, several dozens of people have been arrested and detained, including legal observers and media. On 13 June 2022, the Unist’ot’en Solidarity Brigade expressed outrage that the BC Prosecution Service plans to pursue criminal contempt charges against people opposed to the trespass of Wet’suwet’en territory, including Sleydo’.

Treaty Treatment

The Wet’suwet’en are on their ancestral unceded lands. Would it have made a difference if they had signed a treaty with the colonial entity?

The book We Remember the Coming of the White Man (Durville, 2021), edited by Sarah Stewart and Raymond Yakeleya, does not augur a better outcome for the First People.

We Remember adumbrates how the treaty process operates under colonialism:

When our Dene People signed Treaty 11 in 1921, there had been no negotiation because the Treaty translators were not able to translate the actual language used in the document. There was not enough time for our People to consult with each other. Our Dene People were given a list that had been written up by bureaucrats declaring the demands of Treaty 11. They dictated to the Dene, ‘This is what we want. You have to agree, and sign it.’ We did not know what the papers contained. (p ix)

Treaties and contracts signed under duress are not legally binding. Forced signing of a treaty is on-its-face preposterous to most people with at least half a lobe. It is no less obvious to the Dene of the Northwest Territories:

How can you demand something from People who cannot understand? That’s a crime. I have often said that Treaty 11 does not meet the threshold of being legal. In other words, when we make a treaty, it should be you understand, I understand, and we agree. In this case, the Dene did not understand. (p x)

Unfortunately, the Dene trusted an untrustworthy churchman. The Dene signed on the urging of Bishop Breyant, a man of God, because they had faith in the Roman Catholic Church. (p x)

Oil appeals to those with a lust for lucre. This greed contrasts with traditional Dene customs. Walter Blondin writes in the Foreword,

We Dene consider our land as sacred and owned by everyone collectively as it provides life…. [T]here were laws between the families that insured harmony and sharing. No one was left behind to face hardships or starve when disasters such as forest fires devastated the lands. The Dene laws promoted sharing, and this was taken seriously as failure to follow these laws could lead to war and bloody conflict. (p 3)

The Blondin family of Norman Wells (Tlegohli) in the Northwest Territories experienced first hand the perfidy of the White Man. The Blondins gave oil samples from their land to the Roman Catholic bishop for testing. The Dene family never received any report of the results. Later, however, a geologist, Dr Bosworth staked three claims at Bosworth Creek that were bought by Imperial Oil in 1918. (p 5-6)

Imperial Oil told the families: “You are not welcome in your homes and your traditional lands and your hunting territory.” The Dene people were driven out. “Elders say, ‘It was the first time in living memory where the Dene became homeless on their own land.'” (p 6)

The Blondin family homes were torn down with possessions inside and pushed over the river bank. “No apology or compensation was ever received from Imperial Oil. Imperial Oil considered Norman Wells to be ‘their town—a White Man’s town’ and the Blondin family and other Dene were not welcome.” (p 6)

“Treaty 11 became the ‘treaty for oil ownership.'” (p 8)

“One hundred years after the fact, the Dene can see the collusion between the British Crown, Imperial Oil [now ExxonMobil] and the Roman Catholic Church in the fraud, theft and embezzlement of Dene resources.” (p 10)

Sarah Stewart writes, “Treaty 11 was a charade to legitimize the land grab in the Northwest Territories.” The land grab came with horrific consequences. Stewart laments that the White Man brought disease, moved onto Dene lands and decimated wildlife, and that the teaching of missionaries and missionary schools eroded native languages, cultures, and traditions. (p 14)

Indigenous People, whose land it was, were never considered equal partners in benefiting from the resource. As Indian Agent Henry Conroy wrote to the Deputy General of Indian Affairs in January 1921, the objective was to have Indigenous people surrender their territory ‘to avoid complications in the exploitation of oil.’ (p 15)

Filmmaker Raymond Yakeleya elucidates major differences between the colonialists and the Dene. He points to the capitalist mindset of the White Man: “‘How can we make money off this?’ Dene People are not motivated by that.” (p 24) A deep respect and reverence for all the Creator’s flora and fauna and land is another difference. “When you kill an animal, you have a conversation with it and give it thanks for sharing its body. There are special protocols and ceremonies you have to go through.” (p 28)

While Yakeleya acknowledges that not all missionaries were bad, (p 30) he points to a dark side:

A major confusion came to our People with the coming of the Catholic missionaries. I see the coming of the Black Robes as being a very, very dark cloud that descended over our People. All of a sudden you have people from another culture with another way of thinking imposing their laws. We see that they did it for money, control, and power. I heard an Elder say to me once that the Christians who followed the Ten Commandments were the same people who broke all of them.

The first time we ever questioned ourselves was with the coming of the Christians and to me, I think there was something evil that came amongst our People…. The missionaries were quick to say our ways were the ways of the devil, or the ways of something not good…. Now we see they are being charged with pedophilia and other crimes. (p 29)

As for the discovery of oil, Joe Blondin said, “The Natives found it and never got anything out of it and that’s the truth.” (p 159) As for Treaty 11, John Blondin stated emphatically, “We know that we did not sell our land.” (p 171)

At the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry in Fort McPherson [Teetł’it Zheh], Dene Philip Blake spoke words that resonate poignantly with the situation in Wet’suwet’en territory today:

If your nation chooses … to continue to try and destroy our nation, then I hope you will understand why we are willing to fight so that our nation can survive. It is our world…. But we are willing to defend it for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren. If your nation becomes so violent that it would tear up our land, destroy our society and our future, and occupy our homeland, by trying to impose this pipeline against our will, but then of course we will have no choice but to react with violence. I hope we do not have to do that. For it is not the way we would choose…. I hope you will not only look on the violence of Indian action, but also on the violence of your own nation which would force us to take such a course. We will never initiate violence. But if your nation threatens by its own violent action to destroy our nation, you will have given us no choice. Please do not force us into this position. For we would all lose too much. (p 229)

The Nature of Colonialism and Its Treaties

Spoken word poet Shane L. Koyczan captures the nature of colonialism in Inconvenient Skin (Theytus Books, 2019):

150 years is not so long
that the history can be forgot

not so long that
forgiveness can be bought with empty apologies
or unkept promises

sharpened assurances that this is now
how it is

take it on good faith
and accept it

except that
history repeats itself
like someone not being listened to
like an entire people not being heard

the word of god is hard to swallow
when good faith becomes a barren gesture

there were men of good faith
robbing babies from their cradles
like the monsters we used to tell each other about

ripping children out of their mother’s arms
to be imprisoned in the houses of god
whose teachings were love

did no one hear?
did god mumble?

god said love

but the things that were done
were not love

our nation is built above the bones
of a genocide

it was not love that pried apart these families
it is not love that abandons its treaties

The post It is Not Love that Abandons Its Treaties first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Gun Confiscation Laws Put a Target on the Back of Every American

What we do not need is yet another pretext by which government officials can violate the Fourth Amendment at will under the guise of public health and safety.

Indeed, at a time when red flag gun laws (which authorize government officials to seize guns from individuals viewed as a danger to themselves or others) are gaining traction as a legislative means by which to allow police to remove guns from people suspected of being threats, it wouldn’t take much for police to be given the green light to enter a home without a warrant in order to seize lawfully-possessed firearms based on concerns that the guns might pose a danger.

Frankly, a person wouldn’t even need to own a gun to be subjected to such a home invasion.

SWAT teams have crashed through doors on lesser pretexts based on false information, mistaken identities and wrong addresses.

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have adopted laws allowing the police to remove guns from people suspected of being threats. If Congress succeeds in passing the Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order, which would nationalize red flag laws, that number will grow.

As the Washington Post reports, these red flag gun laws “allow a family member, roommate, beau, law enforcement officer or any type of medical professional to file a petition [with a court] asking that a person’s home be temporarily cleared of firearms. It doesn’t require a mental-health diagnosis or an arrest.

In the wake of yet another round of mass shootings, these gun confiscation laws—extreme risk protection order (ERPO) laws—may appease the fears of those who believe that fewer guns in the hands of the general populace will make our society safer.

Of course, it doesn’t always work that way.

Anything—knives, vehicles, planes, pressure cookers—can become a weapon when wielded with deadly intentions.

With these red flag gun laws, the stated intention is to disarm individuals who are potential threats… to “stop dangerous people before they act.”

While in theory it appears perfectly reasonable to want to disarm individuals who are clearly suicidal and/or pose an “immediate danger” to themselves or others, where the problem arises is when you put the power to determine who is a potential danger in the hands of government agencies, the courts and the police.

We’ve been down this road before.

Remember, this is the same government that uses the words “anti-government,” “extremist” and “terrorist” interchangeably.

This is the same government whose agents are spinning a sticky spider-web of threat assessments, behavioral sensing warnings, flagged “words,” and “suspicious” activity reports using automated eyes and ears, social media, behavior sensing software, and citizen spies to identify potential threats.

This is the same government that has a growing list—shared with fusion centers and law enforcement agencies—of ideologies, behaviors, affiliations and other characteristics that could flag someone as suspicious and result in their being labeled potential enemies of the state.

For instance, if you believe in and exercise your rights under the Constitution (namely, your right to speak freely, worship freely, associate with like-minded individuals who share your political views, criticize the government, own a weapon, demand a warrant before being questioned or searched, or any other activity viewed as potentially anti-government, racist, bigoted, anarchic or sovereign), you could be at the top of the government’s terrorism watch list.

Moreover, as a New York Times editorial warns, you may be an anti-government extremist (a.k.a. domestic terrorist) in the eyes of the police if you are afraid that the government is plotting to confiscate your firearms, if you believe the economy is about to collapse and the government will soon declare martial law, or if you display an unusual number of political and/or ideological bumper stickers on your car.

Let that sink in a moment.

Now consider the ramifications of giving police that kind of authority: to preemptively raid homes in order to neutralize a potential threat.

It’s a powder keg waiting for a lit match.

Under these red flag laws, what happened to Duncan Lemp—who was gunned down in his bedroom during an early morning, no-knock SWAT team raid on his family’s home—could very well happen to more people.

At 4:30 a.m. on March 12, 2020, in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic that had most of the country under a partial lockdown and sheltering at home, a masked SWAT team—deployed to execute a “high risk” search warrant for unauthorized firearms—stormed the suburban house where 21-year-old Duncan, a software engineer and Second Amendment advocate, lived with his parents and 19-year-old brother.

The entire household, including Lemp and his girlfriend, was reportedly asleep when the SWAT team directed flash bang grenades and gunfire through Lemp’s bedroom window.

Lemp was killed and his girlfriend injured.

No one in the house that morning, including Lemp, had a criminal record.

No one in the house that morning, including Lemp, was considered an “imminent threat” to law enforcement or the public, at least not according to the search warrant.

So what was so urgent that militarized police felt compelled to employ battlefield tactics in the pre-dawn hours of a day when most people are asleep in bed, not to mention stuck at home as part of a nationwide lockdown?

According to police, they were tipped off that Lemp was in possession of “firearms.”

Thus, rather than approaching the house by the front door at a reasonable hour in order to investigate this complaint—which is what the Fourth Amendment requires—police instead strapped on their guns, loaded up their flash bang grenades and carried out a no-knock raid on the household.

According to the county report, the no-knock raid was justified “due to Lemp being ‘anti-government,’ ‘anti-police,’ currently in possession of body armor, and an active member of the Three Percenters,” a far-right paramilitary group that discussed government resistance.

This is what happens when you adopt red flag gun laws, painting anyone who might be in possession of a gun—legal or otherwise—as a threat that must be neutralized.

Therein lies the danger of these red flag laws, specifically, and pre-crime laws such as these generally where the burden of proof is reversed and you are guilty before you are given any chance to prove you are innocent.

Red flag gun laws merely push us that much closer towards a suspect society where everyone is potentially guilty of some crime or another and must be preemptively rendered harmless.

Where many Americans go wrong is in naively assuming that you have to be doing something illegal or harmful in order to be flagged and targeted for some form of intervention or detention.

In fact, all you need to do these days to end up on a government watch list or be subjected to heightened scrutiny is use certain trigger words (like cloud, pork and pirates), surf the internet, communicate using a cell phone, limp or stutter, drive a car, stay at a hotel, attend a political rally, express yourself on social media, appear mentally ill, serve in the military, disagree with a law enforcement official, call in sick to work, purchase materials at a hardware store, take flying or boating lessons, appear suspicious, appear confused or nervous, fidget or whistle or smell bad, be seen in public waving a toy gun or anything remotely resembling a gun (such as a water nozzle or a remote control or a walking cane), stare at a police officer, question government authority, appear to be pro-gun or pro-freedom, or generally live in the United States.

Be warned: once you get on such a government watch list—whether it’s a terrorist watch list, a mental health watch list, a dissident watch list, or a red flag gun watch list—there’s no clear-cut way to get off, whether or not you should actually be on there.

You will be flagged as a potential threat and dealt with accordingly.

You will be tracked by the government’s pre-crime, surveillance network wherever you go.

Hopefully you’re starting to understand how easy we’ve made it for the government to identify, label, target, defuse and detain anyone it views as a potential threat for a variety of reasons that run the gamut from mental illness to having a military background to challenging its authority to just being on the government’s list of persona non grata.

The government has been building its pre-crime, surveillance network in concert with fusion centers (of which there are 78 nationwide, with partners in the private sector and globally), data collection agencies, behavioral scientists, corporations, social media, and community organizers and by relying on cutting-edge technology for surveillance, facial recognition, predictive policing, biometrics, and behavioral epigenetics (in which life experiences alter one’s genetic makeup).

Combine red flag laws with the government’s surveillance networks and its plan to establish an agency that will take the lead in identifying and targeting “signs” of mental illness or violent inclinations among the populace by using artificial intelligence to collect data from Apple Watches, Fitbits, Amazon Echo and Google Home, and you’ll understand why some might view gun control legislation with trepidation.

No matter how well-meaning the politicians make these encroachments on our rights appear, in the right (or wrong) hands, benevolent plans can easily be put to malevolent purposes.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, even the most well-intentioned government law or program can be—and has been—perverted, corrupted and used to advance illegitimate purposes once profit and power are added to the equation.

The war on terror, the war on drugs, the war on illegal immigration, the war on COVID-19: all of these programs started out as legitimate responses to pressing concerns and have since become weapons of compliance and control in the government’s hands.

No matter how well-intentioned, red flag gun laws will put a target on the back of every American whether or not they own a weapon.

The post Gun Confiscation Laws Put a Target on the Back of Every American first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Weapons of Faith: The Arming of American Schools

The United States remains a country of tenacious faith.  The nature of that faith stretches from the digital pulpits of Silicon Valley, where cool technology occupies the seat of majesty, to the hot Bible Belt of spiritual endurance and suffering, where the good Lord holds sway in stern disapproval.  In between, market fundamentalists take time to worship the invisible hand of business and capitalism.

The symptoms of that faith can be extraordinary, almost to the point of caustic neuroses.  Faith in the sanctity of guns permits a form of tolerable urban warfare, a type of assimilated frontier violence characterised by high death tolls.  For all the rage and mourning that takes place after each massacre, be it in school or in places of worship, the slain are merely the tax paid for exercising a constitutional liberty.  As with all freedoms, exercising them comes at a cost.

As a sacred totem, the gun, like ancient god figures drawn from verdant groves and sun-bleached deserts, is an idol to be replicated in displays, shows, and performances.  Any chinks in this system of idolatry are put down to the nature of the worshipper, weak of character, questionable of principle.  The Uvalde shooter was, in keeping with this view, a mental basket case, detached, isolated, estranged.  He was lobotomised by the cruel workings of social media, an outcast, a social vegetable.  A suburban family with 50 assault weapons salivating over their next purchase is, by contrast, sanely functional, good citizens going about their business under the double blessing of the Second Amendment and the marketplace.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s understanding of this issue is typical and unblemished by complexity.  In the language of a sweetly crafted, and predictable fairy tale, Cruz sees a morality tale in the business of owning guns.  To the 19 children and two adults who perished at Robb Elementary School, he had this response: “What stops bad guys is armed good guys.”

Garden gnome psychology is never far from such reasoning.  “We know that many of those who commit the most heinous crimes they’re isolated from human contact,” Cruz told members of the National Rifle Association in an address last month.  “They’re living a virtual life in the absence of community and faith and love.”

Addressing the medical, pathological aspect – to de-psycho, as it were, the field of ownership – is seen as one answer from the pro-gun fraternity.  The other is counter-intuitive and, in its way, truly a matter of faith.  To solve the gun problem, more weapons, not fewer, are needed.  Spread the fetish, proliferate the means of mass lethality.  As certain theorists of security and international relations regard the issue of addressing nuclear weapons, the more countries have them, the more secure the world will be.  Terror binds us; terror deters us.  If you cannot abolish weapons, then partake of its fruits.

In such mind-numbing logic, schools can solve shootings by flooding the administrative system with guns, arming teachers, militarising the spaces and places of learning.  In a 2021 Pew Research poll, 43% of those surveyed favoured allowing K-12 teachers and school officials to carry guns.  Of the percentage, 66% of them were Republicans; 24% Democrats.  63% of gun owners supported the measure; 33% of non-gun owners did not.

In response to Uvalde, Senator Cruz, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, are stirring their base.  Their suggestions of arming schools are of uneven quality, childish and resoundingly doltish.  But they point to a central understanding of acceptable carnage and military permissiveness.

Attorney General Paxton has been true over the years to the view that a citizenry armed to the teeth, even when going about mundane tasks, is a safe one.  In December 2017, he issued an opinion claiming that licensed handgun owners could legally carry loaded weapons into Texas churches with no posted signs banning them.  As for what could have been done in Uvalde, the theme is familiar.  The key was to make it “more difficult for people even to get in that point of entry” by having “teachers and other administrators who have gone through training and who are armed.”

Such a measure, Paxton argued, was to be encouraged as law enforcement authorities tended to be late on the scene, failing to prevent the shooting.  “The reality is,” he explained to Fox News, “we don’t have the resources to have law enforcement at every school.”

Patrick’s statement of June 3 could just as well apply to a discussion about violent insurgencies US foreign policy has tended to foment over the years.  “If every member of law enforcement across the state, approximately 80,000 officers, had a bulletproof shield in their vehicle, their ability to respond to an active shooter situation would be greatly enhanced.”  (Does he envisage police driving into the active shooter in class?)

He notes that “more training is needed”, but the urgency of having measures in place before the start of the new school year to “better equip our police who respond to these attacks” was paramount.  As with any planning for a military campaign, having the appropriate material in stock might be a problem.  “There could be a supply-chain issue at present, but we should try to buy every quality shield we can find and order the rest so we are at the front line when more become available.”

Not that these matters solve the problem.  To equate armed teachers with safety is a false equation.  The Uvalde shooter could still go about his business even in the face of a heavily armed response unit.  The “good guys” seemed rather ineffectual to stop the “bad guy” at Uvalde.  The National Education Association President Becky Pringle’s statement in response to shootings could only seem peculiar in an environment of gun fetishists.  “Bringing more guns into schools makes schools more dangerous and does nothing to shield our students and educators from gun violence.”

Dispirited about such responses, Daniel Siegel, a 23-year-old middle-school teacher from Houston, suggested something disturbingly radical.  Give schools more resources, not in terms of weapons and defences but on matters of learning and the nurturing of students’ emotional wellbeing.  Sadly, that horse, saddled by the Second Amendment, bolted some time ago.

The post Weapons of Faith: The Arming of American Schools first appeared on Dissident Voice.

America, Meet Your New Dictator-in-Chief

America, meet your new dictator-in-chief.

As the New York Times reports, “Newly disclosed documents have shed a crack of light on secret executive branch plans for apocalyptic scenarios—like the aftermath of a nuclear attack—when the president may activate wartime powers for national security emergencies.”< The problem, of course, is that we have become a nation in a permanent state of emergency. Power-hungry and lawless, the government has weaponized one national crisis after another in order to expand its powers and justify all manner of government tyranny in the so-called name of national security. The seeds of this present madness were sown almost two decades ago when George W. Bush stealthily issued two presidential directives that granted the president the power to unilaterally declare a national emergency, which is loosely defined as “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions.”

Comprising the country’s Continuity of Government (COG) plan, these directives (National Security Presidential Directive 51 and Homeland Security Presidential Directive 20) provide a skeletal outline of the actions the president will take in the event of a “national emergency.”

Just what sort of actions the president will take once he declares a national emergency can barely be discerned from the barebones directives. However, one thing is clear: in the event of a national emergency, the COG directives give unchecked executive, legislative and judicial power to the president.

The country would then be subjected to martial law by default, and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights would be suspended.

Essentially, the president would become a dictator for life.

It has happened already.

As we have witnessed in recent years, that national emergency can take any form, can be manipulated for any purpose and can be used to justify any end goal—all on the say so of the president.

The emergency powers that we know about which presidents might claim during such states of emergency are vast, ranging from imposing martial law and suspending habeas corpus to shutting down all forms of communications, including implementing an internet kill switch, and restricting travel.

Yet according to documents recently obtained by the Brennan Center, there may be many more secret powers that presidents may institute in times of so-called crisis without oversight from Congress, the courts, or the public.

It doesn’t even matter what the nature of the crisis might be—civil unrest, the national emergencies, “unforeseen economic collapse, loss of functioning political and legal order, purposeful domestic resistance or insurgency, pervasive public health emergencies, and catastrophic natural and human disasters”—as long as it allows the government to justify all manner of government tyranny in the name of so-called national security.

In such a climate, the American president becomes dictator with permanent powers: imperial, unaccountable and unconstitutional.

Then again, the police state with the president at its helm 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.

Although the Constitution invests the President with very specific, limited powers, in recent years, American presidents have claimed the power to completely and almost unilaterally alter the landscape of this country for good or for ill.

The powers amassed by each successive president through the negligence of Congress and the courts—powers which add up to a toolbox of terror for an imperial ruler—empower whoever occupies the Oval Office to act as a dictator, above the law and beyond any real accountability.

As law professor William P. Marshall explains, “every extraordinary use of power by one President expands the availability of executive branch power for use by future Presidents.”

All of the imperial powers amassed by Barack Obama and George W. Bush—to kill American citizens without due process, to detain suspects indefinitely, to strip Americans of their citizenship rights, to carry out mass surveillance on Americans without probable cause, to suspend laws during wartime, to disregard laws with which he might disagree, to conduct secret wars and convene secret courts, to sanction torture, to sidestep the legislatures and courts with executive orders and signing statements, to direct the military to operate beyond the reach of the law, to operate a shadow government, and to act as a dictator and a tyrant, above the law and beyond any real accountability—were inherited by Donald Trump and passed along to Joe Biden.

These presidential powers—acquired through the use of executive orders, decrees, memorandums, proclamations, national security directives and legislative signing statements and which can be activated by any sitting president—enable past, president and future presidents to operate above the law and beyond the reach of the Constitution.

This is what you might call a stealthy, creeping, silent, slow-motion coup d’état.

If we continue down this road, there can be no surprise about what awaits us at the end.

Unfortunately, the process of unseating a dictator and limiting the powers of the presidency is far from simple but at a minimum, it must start with “we the people.”

For starters, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, we must recalibrate the balance of power.

Start locally—in your own communities, in your schools, at your city council meetings, in newspaper editorials, at protests—by pushing back against laws that are unjust, police departments that overreach, politicians that don’t listen to their constituents, and a system of government that grows more tyrannical by the day.

What we desperately need is a concerted, collective commitment to the Constitution’s principles of limited government, a system of checks and balances, and a recognition that they—the president, Congress, the courts, the military, the police, the technocrats and plutocrats and bureaucrats—answer to and are accountable to “we the people.”

In other words, we’ve got to start making both the president and the police state play by the rules of the Constitution.

The post America, Meet Your New Dictator-in-Chief first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Jackboots Policing: No-Knock Raids Rip a Hole in the Fourth Amendment

We’re all potential victims.

— Peter Christ, retired police officer

It’s the middle of the night.

Your neighborhood is in darkness. Your household is asleep.

Suddenly, you’re awakened by a loud noise.

Someone or an army of someones has crashed through your front door.

The intruders are in your home.

Your heart begins racing. Your stomach is tied in knots. The adrenaline is pumping through you.

You’re not just afraid. You’re terrified.

Desperate to protect yourself and your loved ones from whatever threat has invaded your home, you scramble to lay hold of something—anything—that you might use in self-defense. It might be a flashlight, a baseball bat, or that licensed and registered gun you thought you’d never need.

You brace for the confrontation.

Shadowy figures appear at the doorway, screaming orders, threatening violence.

Chaos reigns.

You stand frozen, your hands gripping whatever means of self-defense you could find.

Just that simple act—of standing frozen in fear and self-defense—is enough to spell your doom.

The assailants open fire, sending a hail of bullets in your direction.

You die without ever raising a weapon or firing a gun in self-defense.

In your final moments, you get a good look at your assassins: it’s the police.

Brace yourself, because this hair-raising, heart-pounding, jarring account of a no-knock, no-announce SWAT team raid is what passes for court-sanctioned policing in America today, and it could happen to any one of us.

Nationwide, SWAT teams routinely invade homes, break down doors, kill family pets (they always shoot the dogs first), damage furnishings, terrorize families, and wound or kill those unlucky enough to be present during a raid.

No longer reserved exclusively for deadly situations, SWAT teams are now increasingly being deployed for relatively routine police matters such as serving a search warrant, with some SWAT teams being sent out as much as five times a day.

SWAT teams have been employed to address an astonishingly trivial array of so-called criminal activity or mere community nuisances: angry dogs, domestic disputes, improper paperwork filed by an orchid farmer, and misdemeanor marijuana possession, to give a brief sampling. In some instances, SWAT teams are even employed, in full armament, to perform routine patrols.

These raids, which might be more aptly referred to as “knock-and-shoot” policing, have become a thinly veiled, court-sanctioned means of giving heavily armed police the green light to crash through doors in the middle of the night.

No-knock raids, a subset of the violent, terror-inducing raids carried out by police SWAT teams on unsuspecting households, differ in one significant respect: they are carried out without police having to announce and identify themselves as police.

It’s a chilling difference: to the homeowner targeted for one of these no-knock raids. It appears as if they are being set upon by villains mounting a home invasion.

Never mind that the unsuspecting homeowner, woken from sleep by the sounds of a violent entry, has no way of distinguishing between a home invasion by criminals as opposed to a police mob. In many instances, there is little real difference.

According to an in-depth investigative report by The Washington Post, “police carry out tens of thousands of no-knock raids every year nationwide.”

While the Fourth Amendment requires that police obtain a warrant based on probable cause before they can enter one’s home, search and seize one’s property, or violate one’s privacy, SWAT teams are granted “no-knock” warrants at high rates such that the warrants themselves are rendered practically meaningless.

If these aggressive, excessive police tactics have also become troublingly commonplace, it is in large part due to judges who largely rubberstamp the warrant requests based only on the word of police; police who have been known to lie or fabricate the facts in order to justify their claims of “reasonable suspicion” (as opposed to the higher standard of probable cause, which is required by the Constitution before any government official can search an individual or his property); and software that allows judges to remotely approve requests using computers, cellphones or tablets.

This sorry state of affairs is made even worse by U.S. Supreme Court rulings that have essentially done away with the need for a “no-knock” warrant altogether, giving the police authority to disregard the protections afforded American citizens by the Fourth Amendment.

In addition to the terror brought on by these raids, general incompetence, collateral damage (fatalities, property damage, etc.) and botched raids are also characteristic of these SWAT team raids. In some cases, officers misread the address on the warrant. In others, they simply barge into the wrong house or even the wrong building. In another subset of cases, police conduct a search of a building where the suspect no longer resides.

SWAT teams have even on occasion conducted multiple, sequential raids on wrong addresses or executed search warrants despite the fact that the suspect is already in police custody. Police have also raided homes on the basis of mistaking the presence or scent of legal substances for drugs. Incredibly, these substances have included tomatoes, sunflowers, fish, elderberry bushes, kenaf plants, hibiscus, and ragweed.

All too often, botched SWAT team raids have resulted in one tragedy after another for the residents with little consequences for law enforcement.

The horror stories have become legion in which homeowners are injured or killed simply because they mistook a SWAT team raid by police for a home invasion by criminals. Too often, the destruction of life and property wrought by the police is no less horrifying than that carried out by criminal invaders.

As one might expect, judges tend to afford extreme levels of deference to police officers who have mistakenly killed innocent civilians but do not afford similar leniency to civilians who have injured police officers in acts of self-defense. Indeed, homeowners who mistake officers for robbers can be sentenced for assault or murder if they take defensive actions resulting in harm to police.

Yet the shock-and-awe tactics utilized by many SWAT teams only increases the likelihood that someone will get hurt.

That’s exactly what happened to Jose Guerena, the young ex-Marine who was killed after a SWAT team kicked open the door of his Arizona home during a drug raid and opened fire. According to news reports, Guerena, 26 years old and the father of two young children, grabbed a gun in response to the forced invasion but never fired. In fact, the safety was still on his gun when he was killed. Police officers were not as restrained. The young Iraqi war veteran was allegedly fired upon 71 times. Guerena had no prior criminal record, and the police found nothing illegal in his home.

Aiyana Jones is dead because of a SWAT raid gone awry. The 7-year-old was killed after a Detroit SWAT team—searching for a suspect—launched a flash-bang grenade into her family’s apartment, broke through the door and opened fire, hitting the little girl who was asleep on the living room couch. The cops weren’t even in the right apartment.

Exhibiting a similar lack of basic concern for public safety, a Georgia SWAT team launched a flash-bang grenade into the house in which Baby Bou Bou, his three sisters and his parents were staying. The grenade landed in the 2-year-old’s crib, burning a hole in his chest and leaving him with scarring that a lifetime of surgeries will not be able to easily undo.

Payton, a 7-year-old black Labrador retriever, and 4-year-old Chase, also a black Lab, were shot and killed after a SWAT team mistakenly raided the mayor’s home while searching for drugs. Police shot Payton four times. Chase was shot twice, once from behind as he ran away. “My government blew through my doors and killed my dogs. They thought we were drug dealers, and we were treated as such. I don’t think they really ever considered that we weren’t,” recalls Mayor Cheye Calvo, who described being handcuffed and interrogated for hours—wearing only underwear and socks—surrounded by the dogs’ carcasses and pools of the dogs’ blood.

If these violent SWAT team raids have become tragically widespread, you can chalk it up to the “make-work” principle that has been used to justify the transfer of sophisticated military equipment, weaponry and training to local police departments, which in turn has helped to transform police into extensions of the military—a standing army on American soil.

The problem, as one reporter rightly concluded, is “not that life has gotten that much more dangerous, it’s that authorities have chosen to respond to even innocent situations as if they were in a warzone.”

A study by a political scientist at Princeton University concludes that militarizing police and SWAT teams “provide no detectable benefits in terms of officer safety or violent crime reduction.” The study, the first systematic analysis on the use and consequences of militarized force, reveals that “police militarization neither reduces rates of violent crime nor changes the number of officers assaulted or killed.”

SWAT teams, designed to defuse dangerous situations such as those involving hostages, were never meant to be used for routine police work targeting nonviolent suspects, yet they have become intrinsic parts of federal and local law enforcement operations.

There are few communities without a SWAT team today.

In 1980, there were roughly 3,000 SWAT team-style raids in the US.

Incredibly, that number has since grown to more than 80,000 SWAT team raids per year.

Where this becomes a problem of life and death for Americans is when these militarized SWAT teams are assigned to carry out routine law enforcement tasks.

In the state of Maryland alone, 92 percent of 8200 SWAT missions were used to execute search or arrest warrants.

Police in both Baltimore and Dallas have used SWAT teams to bust up poker games.

A Connecticut SWAT team swarmed a bar suspected of serving alcohol to underage individuals.

In Arizona, a SWAT team was used to break up an alleged cockfighting ring.

An Atlanta SWAT team raided a music studio, allegedly out of a concern that it might have been involved in illegal music piracy.

A Minnesota SWAT team raided the wrong house in the middle of the night, handcuffed the three young children, held the mother on the floor at gunpoint, shot the family dog, and then “forced the handcuffed children to sit next to the carcass of their dead pet and bloody pet for more than an hour” while they searched the home.

A California SWAT team drove an armored Lenco Bearcat into Roger Serrato’s yard, surrounded his home with paramilitary troops wearing face masks, threw a fire-starting flashbang grenade into the house in order, then when Serrato appeared at a window, unarmed and wearing only his shorts, held him at bay with rifles. Serrato died of asphyxiation from being trapped in the flame-filled house. Incredibly, the father of four had done nothing wrong. The SWAT team had misidentified him as someone involved in a shooting.

And then there was the police officer who tripped and “accidentally” shot and killed Eurie Stamps, an unarmed grandfather of 12, who had been forced to lie face-down on the floor of his home at gunpoint while a SWAT team attempted to execute a search warrant against his stepson.

Equally outrageous was the four-hour SWAT team raid on a California high school, where students were locked down in classrooms, forced to urinate in overturned desks and generally terrorized by heavily armed, masked gunmen searching for possible weapons that were never found.

These incidents underscore a dangerous mindset in which the citizenry (often unarmed and defenseless) not only have less rights than militarized police, but also one in which the safety of the citizenry is treated as a lower priority than the safety of their police counterparts (who are armed to the hilt with an array of lethal and nonlethal weapons).

Likewise, our privacy, property and security are no longer safe from government intrusion.

Yet it wasn’t always this way.

There was a time in America when a person’s home was a sanctuary, safe and secure from the threat of invasion by government agents, who were held at bay by the dictates of the Fourth Amendment, which protects American citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures.

The Fourth Amendment, in turn, was added to the U.S. Constitution by colonists still smarting from the abuses they had been forced to endure while under British rule, among these home invasions by the military under the guise of “writs of assistance.” These writs gave British soldiers blanket authority to raid homes, damage property and wreak havoc for any reason whatsoever, without any expectation of probable cause.

To our detriment, we have come full circle to a time before the American Revolution when government agents—with the blessing of the courts—could force their way into a citizen’s home, with seemingly little concern for lives lost and property damaged in the process.

Rubber-stamped, court-issued warrants for no-knock SWAT team raids have become the modern-day equivalent of colonial-era writs of assistance.

Then again, we may be worse off today when one considers the extent to which courts have sanctioned the use of no-knock raids by police SWAT teams (occurring at a rate of more than 80,000 a year and growing); the arsenal of lethal weapons available to local police agencies; the ease with which courts now dispense search warrants based often on little more than a suspicion of wrongdoing; and the inability of police to distinguish between reasonable suspicion and the higher standard of probable cause.

This is exactly what we can expect more of as a result of President Biden’s commitment to expand law enforcement and so-called crime prevention at taxpayer expense.

Yet as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, no matter what the politicians insist to the contrary, militarized police armed with weapons of war who are empowered to carry out pre-dawn raids on our homes, shoot our pets, and terrorize our families are not making America any safer or freer.

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