Being a citizen in the American police state is much like playing a game of cards against a stacked deck: you're always going to lose. The game is rigged, and "we the people" keep getting dealt the same losing hand. Even so, we stay in the game, against all odds, trusting that our luck will change.
The problem, of course, is that luck will not save us. The people dealing the cards -- the politicians, the corporations, the judges, the prosecutors, the police, the bureaucrats, the military, the media, etc. -- have only one prevailing concern, and that is to maintain their power and control over the country and us. As long as they are dealing the cards, the deck will always be stacked in their favor.
We're in trouble, folks.
We have relinquished control of our government to overlords who care nothing for our rights, our dignity or our humanity, and now we're saddled with an authoritarian regime that is deaf to our cries, dumb to our troubles, blind to our needs, and accountable to no one.
Even revelations of wrongdoing amount to little in the way of changes for the better.
For instance, after six years of investigation, 6,000 written pages and $40 million to write a report that will not be released to the public in its entirety, the U.S. Senate has finally concluded that the CIA lied about its torture tactics, failed to acquire any life-saving intelligence, and was more brutal and extensive than previously admitted. This is no revelation. It's a costly sleight of hand intended to distract us from the fact that nothing has changed. We're still a military empire waging endless wars against shadowy enemies, all the while fattening the wallets of the defense contractors for whom war is money.
Same goes for the government's surveillance programs, which are just as invasive as ever. In fact, at President Obama's urging, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court just quietly reauthorized the National Security Agency's surveillance of phone records.
Police misconduct and brutality have been dominating the news headlines for months now, but don't expect any change for the better. In fact, with Obama's blessing, police departments continue to make themselves battle ready with weapons and gear created for the military. Police shootings of unarmed citizens continue with alarming regularity. And grand juries, little more than puppets controlled by state prosecutors, continue to legitimize the police state by absolving police of any wrongdoing.
These grand juries embody everything that's wrong with America today. In an age of secret meetings, secret surveillance, secret laws, secret tribunals and secret courts, the grand jury -- which meets secretly, hears secret testimony, and is exposed to only what a prosecutor deems appropriate -- has become yet another bureaucratic appendage to a government utterly lacking in transparency, accountability and adherence to the rule of law.
It's a sorry lesson in how a well-intentioned law or program can be perverted, corrupted and used to advance illegitimate purposes. The war on terror, the war on drugs, asset forfeiture schemes, road safety schemes, school zero tolerance policies, eminent domain, private prisons: all of these programs started out as legitimate responses to pressing concerns. However, once you add money and power into the mix, even the most benevolent plans can be put to malevolent purposes.
In this way, the war on terror has become a convenient ruse to justify surveillance of all Americans, create a suspect society, expand the military empire, and allow the president to expand the powers of the Executive Branch to imperial heights.
Under cover of the war on drugs, the nation's police forces have been transformed into extensions of the military, with SWAT team raids carried out on unsuspecting homeowners, and police officers given the green light to shoot first and ask questions later.
Asset forfeiture schemes, engineered as a way to strip organized crime syndicates of their ill-gotten wealth, have, in the hands of law enforcement agencies, become corrupt systems aimed at fleecing the citizenry while padding the pockets of the police.
Traffic safety schemes such as automated red light and speed cameras, ostensibly aimed at making the nation's roads safer, have been shown to be thinly disguised road taxes, levying hefty fines on drivers, most of whom would never have been pulled over, let alone ticketed, by an actual police officer.
School zero tolerance policies, a response to the horrors of a handful of school shootings, have become exercises in folly, turning the schools into quasi-prisons, complete with armed police, metal detectors and lockdowns.
As for grand juries, which were intended to serve as a check on the powers of the police and prosecutors, they have gone from being the citizen's shield against injustice to a weapon in the hands of government agents. A far cry from a people's court, today's grand jury system is so blatantly rigged in favor of the government as to be laughable. Unless, that is, you happen to be one of the growing numbers of Americans betrayed and/or victimized by their own government, in which case, you'll find nothing amusing about the way in which grand juries are used to terrorize the populace all the while covering up police misconduct.
Unfortunately, as I make clear in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, we're long past the point of simple fixes. The system has grown too large, too corrupt, and too unaccountable. If there's to be any hope of reform, it has to start at the local level, where Americans still have a chance to make their voices heard. Stop buying into the schemes of the elite, stop being distracted by their sleight-of-hands, stop being manipulated into believing that an election will change anything, and stop playing a rigged game where you'll always be the loser.
It's time to change the rules of the game. For that matter, it's time to change the game.