Rule by Thieves: One Week in the Life of the American Kleptocracy

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Top Tier Gear USA

corruption

“The first and most important thing to understand about politics is this: forget Right, Left, Center, socialism, fascism, or democracy. Every government that exists — or ever existed, or ever will exist — is a kleptocracy, meaning ‘rule by thieves.’ Competing ideologies merely provide different excuses to separate the Productive Class from what they produce. If the taxpayer/voters won’t willingly fork over to end poverty, then maybe they’ll cough up to fight drugs or terrorism. Conflicting ideologies, as presently constituted, are nothing more than a cover for what’s really going on, like the colors of competing gangs.” — Author L. Neil Smith

The American kleptocracy (a government ruled by thieves) continues to suck the American people down a rabbit hole into a parallel universe in which the Constitution is meaningless, the government is all-powerful, and the citizenry is powerless to defend itself against government agents who steal, spy, lie, plunder, kill, abuse and generally inflict mayhem and sow madness on everyone and everything in their sphere.

Case in point: in the same week that Wikileaks dropped its bombshell about the CIA’s use of spy tools to subject law-abiding Americans to all manner of government surveillance and hacking—a revelation that caused barely a ripple of concern among the citizenry—the government quietly and with little fanfare continued to wage its devastating, stomach-churning, debilitating war on the American people.

Incredibly, hardly anyone noticed.

This begs the question: if the government is overstepping its authority, abusing its power, and disregarding the rule of law but no one seems to notice—and no one seems to care—does it matter if the government has become a tyrant?

Here’s my short answer: when government wrongdoing ceases to matter, America will have ceased to be.

Just consider the devastation wrought in one week in the life of our American kleptocracy:

On Monday, March 6, police were given the go-ahead to keep stealing from Americans who were innocent of any wrongdoing.

In refusing to hear a challenge to Texas’ asset forfeiture law, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed Texas police to keep $201,000 in ill-gotten cash primarily on the basis that the seized cash—the proceeds of a home sale—was being transported on a highway associated with illegal drug trade, despite any proof of illegal activity by the owner. Asset forfeiture laws, which have come under intense scrutiny and criticism in recent years, allow the police to seize property “suspected” of being connected to criminal activity without having to prove the owner of the property is guilty of a criminal offense.

On April 1, 2013, James Leonard was driving with a companion, Nicosa Kane, on U.S. Highway 59 in Texas when the vehicle was stopped by a state police officer for allegedly speeding and following another vehicle too closely. A subsequent search of the vehicle disclosed a safe in the trunk, which Leonard explained belonged to his mother, Lisa Leonard, and contained cash. When the police officer contacted Lisa Leonard, she confirmed that the safe’s contents belonged to her, that the contents constituted personal business, and that she would not consent to allowing the officer to open the safe. After police secured a search warrant, the safe was opened and found to contain $201,000 and a bill of sale for a home in Pennsylvania.

Neither the Leonards nor Kane were found to be in possession of illegal drugs. However, the state initiated civil forfeiture proceedings against the $201,100 on the ground that it was substantially connected to criminal activity because Highway 59 is reputed to be a drug corridor. At trial, Lisa Leonard testified that the money was being sent to Texas so that she could use it to purchase a home for her son and Kane. Both the trial and appeals courts affirmed the authority of state officials to seize and keep Leonard’s funds under the state’s asset forfeiture law, basing their ruling on wholly circumstantial evidence and the reputation of Highway 59. Leonard then asked the U.S. Supreme Court to compel Texas to return her money, given that she was innocent of any crime. In refusing to hear the case on a technicality, the Supreme Court turned its back on justice and allowed the practice of policing for profit to continue.

On Tuesday, March 7, hacked information about the surveillance state was met with a collective shrug by the public, a sign of how indifferent the citizenry has become to living in an electronic concentration camp.

Wikileaks confirmed what we’ve suspected all along: the government’s ability to spy on law-abiding Americans is far more invasive than what we’ve been told. According to the Wikileaks Vault 7 data dump, government agencies such as the CIA and the NSA have been spying on the citizenry through our smart TVs, listening in on our phone calls, hacking into our computerized devices (including our cars), and compromising our security systems through the use of Trojan horses, spyware and malware.

As this Wikileaks revelation confirms, we now have a fourth branch of government. This fourth branch came into being without any electoral mandate or constitutional referendum, and yet it possesses superpowers, above and beyond those of any other government agency save the military. It is all-knowing, all-seeing and all-powerful. It operates beyond the reach of the president, Congress and the courts, and it marches in lockstep with the corporate elite who really call the shots in Washington, DC.

You might know this branch of government as Surveillance, but I prefer “technotyranny,” a term coined by investigative journalist James Bamford to refer to an age of technological tyranny made possible by government secrets, government lies, government spies and their corporate ties. Beware of what you say, what you read, what you write, where you go, and with whom you communicate, because it will all be recorded, stored and used against you eventually, at a time and place of the government’s choosing.

Privacy, as we have known it, is dead.

On Wednesday, March 8, police were given further incentives to use the “fear for my life” rationale as an excuse for shooting unarmed individuals.

Upon arriving on the scene of a nighttime traffic accident, an Alabama police officer shot a driver exiting his car, mistakenly believing the wallet in his hand to be a gun. From the time the driver stumbled out of his car, waving his wallet in the air, to the time he was shot in the abdomen, only six seconds had elapsed. Although the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals concluded “that a reasonable officer in Hancock’s position would have feared for his life,” the video footage makes clear that the courts continue to march in lockstep with the police, because no reasonable person would shoot first and ask questions later.

A report by the Justice Department on police shootings in Philadelphia, which boasts the fourth largest police department in the country, found that half of the unarmed people shot by police over a seven-year span were “shot because the officer saw something (like a cellphone) or some action (like a person pulling at the waist of their pants) and misidentified it as a threat.”

What exactly are we teaching these young officers in the police academy when the slightest thing, whether it be a hand in a pocket, a man running towards them, a flashlight on a keychain, a wallet waved in a hand, or a dehumanizing stare can ignite a strong enough “fear for their safety” to justify doing whatever is deemed necessary to neutralize the threat, even if it means firing on an unarmed person?

On Thursday, March 9, police were given even more leeway in how much damage they can inflict on those they serve and the extent to which they can disregard the Constitution.  

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a police officer who allowed a police dog to maul a homeless man innocent of any wrongdoing. The case arose in 2010 after a police dog attacked a homeless man near an abandoned house where police were tracking a robbery suspect. The cop refused to call off the dog immediately, despite the man’s pleading and the fact that he did not match the description of the robbery suspect. The homeless man suffered deep bites on his hand, arm and thigh, that required a nearly 16-inch skin graft, as well as severe bleeding, bruising, swelling and an arterial blood clot. Incredibly, not only did the court declare that the police officer was protected by qualified immunity, which incentivizes government officials to violate constitutional rights without fear of repercussion, but it had the nerve to suggest that being mauled by a police dog is the equivalent of a lawful Terry stop in which police may stop and hold a person for questioning on the basis of “reasonable suspicion.”

Also on March 9, government officials assured the Michigan Supreme Court that there was nothing unlawful, unreasonable or threatening about the prospect of armed police dressed in SWAT gear knocking on doors at 4 a.m. and “asking” homeowners to engage in warrantless “knock-and-talk” sessions. Although government lawyers insist citizens can choose to say no to such heavy-handed requests by police to conduct unwarranted interrogations, if such coercive tactics are allowed, it would give SWAT teams further incentive to further terrorize anyone even remotely—or mistakenly—suspected of wrongdoing without fear of repercussion.

On Friday, March 10, the military industrial complex continued to wage war abroad, while government agencies, including members of the military, remained embroiled in controversies over sexual misconduct.

A day after military brass defended the U.S.-led raid in Yemen that killed 10 children and at least six women, Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of U.S. Central Command, informed members of Congress that even more U.S. troops were needed in Afghanistan to combat the Taliban. Some 8400 American troops have been stationed in Afghanistan since the U.S. invaded the country post 9/11. Approximately 400 more Marines are being sent to Syria to aid U.S. forces in their fight against ISIS.

That same day, news reports indicated that members of several branches of the U.S. military, including the Marines, have been using online bulletin boards to either share or solicit nude or explicit photos and videos of women in the military. One Facebook page for Marines, which has nearly 30,000 followers, contained graphic language about how the women photographed, some without their knowledge or consent, should be treated. As the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) revealed, “One member of the Facebook group suggested that the service member sneaking the photos should ‘take her out back and pound her out.’ Others suggested more than vaginal sex: ‘And butthole. And throat. And ears. Both of them. Video it though … for science.’” According to CIR, the photo sharing began less than a month after the first Marine infantry unit was assigned women.

The FBI has also been getting in on the photo-sharing gig, only its agents have been distributing child porn, allegedly in an effort to catch consumers of child porn. Curiously, the Department of Justice has opted to drop its case against a man accused of child pornography rather than be forced to disclose the FBI’s tactics for spying on suspected child porn consumers and entrapping them as part of its Operation Pacifier sting. What the case revealed was that for a little while, in its single-minded pursuit of lawbreakers, the FBI became a lawbreaker itself as the largest distributor of child pornography. All told, the FBI uploaded tens of thousands of images of child pornography to the “dark web.”

As reporter Bryan Clark points out:

At the intersection of technology and law, we’ve proven two things as the result of Operation Pacifier: 1. Government bodies have proven their willingness to circumvent — or even break — the law to capture suspected criminals it’s not even willing to prosecute. 2. We’re living in an age where — to agencies like the FBI — criminals and their victims are less important than the tools used to track them down. It’s hard to argue on the side of an alleged pedophile. But in this case, the FBI was the pedophile’s equal. It was the agency, you’ll recall, that disseminated these images to some 150,000 registered members… this means the FBI perpetrated the same heinous crime it attempted to charge others with, all while securing what could result in zero convictions.

Mind you, this was just one week of shootings, degradation, excessive force, abuse of power and complicity in the American police state. Magnify the impact of these events 52 times over, because they are taking place every week in this country, and you will find yourself weak at the knees.

Somewhere over the course of the past 240-plus years, democracy has given way to kleptocracy, and representative government has been rejected in favor of rule by career politicians, corporations and thieves—individuals and entities with little regard for the rights of American citizens.

This dissolution of that sacred covenant between the citizenry and the government—establishing “we the people” as the masters and the government as the servant—didn’t happen overnight. It didn’t happen because of one particular incident or one particular president. It is a process, one that began long ago and continues in the present day, aided and abetted by politicians who have mastered the polarizing art of how to “divide and conquer.”

Unfortunately, there is no magic spell to transport us back to a place and time where “we the people” weren’t merely fodder for a corporate gristmill, operated by government hired hands, whose priorities are money and power.

Our freedoms have become casualties in an all-out war on the American people.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, this war is being fought on many fronts, with bullets and tasers, with surveillance cameras and license readers, with intimidation and propaganda, with court rulings and legislation, with the collusion of every bureaucrat on the government’s payroll, and most effectively of all, with the complicity of the American people, who continue to allow themselves to be easily manipulated by their politics, distracted by their pastimes, and acclimated to a world in which government corruption is the norm.

How do we stop the hemorrhaging?

Start by waking up. Pay attention to what’s going on around you. Most of all, think for yourself.

As H. L. Mencken observed:

The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are.

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Contributed by John W. Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute.

Since 1996, John W. Whitehead has taken on everything from human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, protection of religious freedom, and child pornography, to family autonomy issues, cross burning, the sanctity of human life, and the war on terrorism in his weekly opinion column. A self-proclaimed civil libertarian, Whitehead is considered by many to be a legal, political and cultural watchdog—sounding the call for integrity, accountability and an adherence to the democratic principles on which this country was founded.

Time and again, Whitehead hits the bull’s eye with commentaries that are insightful, relevant and provocative. And all too often, he finds himself under fire for his frank and unadulterated viewpoint. But as he frequently remarks, “Anytime people find themselves under fire from both the liberal left and the conservative right, it means that that person is probably right on target.”

Mr. Whitehead’s commentaries have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Washington Post, Washington Times and USA Today.

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  • Son Athens

    The people whose money were stolen were idiots for letting the pig/terrorist thugs search their vehicle. Just refuse. They will trick you and make it seem they have the right, but they do not without probable cause.

    And next time you get pulled over and the pigs want to steal your $$$, aim for the head.

  • Frank

    If the case/story of the seizure of the $201,000 is true, as presented, then ALL involved in perpetrating that seizure/crime deserve just retribution. However, I have my doubts about the truthfulness and accuracy of the story because of John Whitehead’s inclination to manipulate, embellish, or discard facts to present an overly negative perception of police and government. Remember, Whitehead profits from distrust and fear.
    In the raid in Yemen, where Navy SEAL Ryan Owens was killed, there were (according to other sources) gun-wielding jihadi women and one of the “non-combatant” casualties was the 8-year-old daughter of U.S.-born al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki. The SEALs went in to gather intelligence from an al Qaeda camp, not take on the whole village that was nearby. However, they were ambushed and a major firefight ensued, with women and children being actively involved in shooting. If you know anything about the bastards of al Qaeda, you will know that it is entirely within their MO to order women and kids to take up arms – or be killed for not doing so.
    Many will say that the U.S. shouldn’t be over there, but some realize it’s better to fight them on their ground rather than on ours..

    • Lewie Paine

      You should know that both al Qaeda and ISIS are proxy armies of the West used to maintain perpetual war against Islam.

      The US has no legal standing in Yemen, whether you believe it’s the correct action or not.

      • Frank

        It is my understanding that Yemen is technically a failed State, having no viable or functional government after the coup by the Houthis, with the deposed President in exile in Aden. This makes Yemen an uncontrolled, un-ruled area dominated by tribal and insurgent forces that dominate/rule the general population through violence and terrorism. Similar to conditions in Somalia back in the early 90’s when Task Force Ranger hit the ground. Where would any determination of “legal standing” come from, under these conditions?

        • Lewie Paine

          So ‘declaring’ a state ‘failed’ is sufficient justification for waging war of aggression against the local inhabitants? How convenient for the Imperialists. And exactly who were these ‘technicians/ technocrats’ who made this decision, if not the Imperialists?

          • Frank

            That’s not the point. The fact that Yemen is a failed state is tangential to the reason that US forces are conducting operations on Yemeni soil – to prevent the persistence and spread of international terrorism. AQAP and Al Shabaab, aside from the religious ideology that they follow, are nothing more than criminal thugs – thieves and murderers. If it weren’t for these criminal thugs, the “local inhabitants” might be able to live in relative peace. By “imperialism,” I believe you are inferring an interest in expansion and control by the US – over Yemen, are you serious? And the technocrats making these decisions are those at the highest levels of the US Gov’s National Security apparatus.

          • Lewie Paine

            It’s just that you sound like an apologist for Empire. Hopefully I’m wrong.

          • Frank

            Actually, I tend to favor a more Isolationist position – pulling back our money (foreign aid) and resources/people from foreign soil that are not essential to facilitate trade and monitor threats against the US. However, I also believe that its best to stop our enemies before they set foot on our soil.

          • ReverendDraco✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ ᵃᶜᶜᵒᵘᶰᵗ

            Until they set foot on our soil, they’re not an enemy. . . They’re merely someone with whom we disagree.
            What you believe just cost you the moral high ground, making you the bad guy.

          • Frank

            So, with that position – wait until the guy who wants to kill you is at your doorstep before you do something, you would also take the position that the US has to wait until a nuclear warhead-tipped missile from North Korea actually hits the US before we can take defensive/pre-emptive action to prevent other missiles from hitting the US as well (?) Or, do what we can to stop the first missile(s) mid-flight, before they hit and detonate, and attack the launch platforms. After all, until North Korea actually attacks the US, we’re just nations that disagree.

          • freefall

            Frank,
            Are you saying that you think our gov’t should launch nuclear weapons upon North Korea immediately?
            You strike me as a Christian jihadist who wants to bathe in the blood of the Lamb.

          • Frank

            That is NOT what I’m saying at all. As North Korea, Kim Jung Un et al, is progressing towards being a nuclear world power with the demonstrated capability to strike the US, we should be closely monitoring their progress and, at some point, be prepared and capable of defending against an attack (anti-missile defense) and striking back at their capability to continue attacking/launching ICBMs. They should be the ones to make the first move, not us, but we should not be complacent about their intentions or capabilities to strike us.

          • freefall

            Fair enough Frank. Kim Jung sounds like a madman but he’s not the one that dropped 26,000 bombs on 7 countries last year. That was the Nobel Peace Prize winner.
            Strange days indeed.

    • G’ma G

      There is no rule or law or proof that fighting them on their ground is a better strategy.

  • G’ma G

    I think the first thing we have to get our minds wrapped around is that we are in a civil war with our own people. It is a war between the working people and the people sitting in government. It is a cold war which makes it hard to recognize but we are at war none the less. To grasp this all you have to do is go to any government office and see how the low level front line employees treat you. Their hubris would not be tolerated in a real business because it would drive away the customers. The tolerance and encouragement of these door slammers just emboldens them more and so we are witness to this race to the bottom.
    What are the winning tactics in a cold war? I don’t know because I am a peaceful person. I do seem to recall the Soviet Union was subjected to isolation and embargos of its products of commerce. The commerce of government has become racketeering and extortion both at home and abroad. How do we not participate given the very nature of what racketeering and extortion are?

    • The Tuna Fairy

      If you figure it out, please tell me too.

      • G’ma G

        We definitely have to keep putting our heads together on this.

  • Ken, Megapolis

    It is hardly a surprise that some spook had a brainwave “I know! Let’s pose as sellers of illicit porn in order to catch consumers of said filth.”
    Please may I convey an equal concern I have had all along?
    How do you know your dealer is not a cop in disguise?
    I am serious.
    This Alternative Media keeps promoting Marijuana as a cure for cancer. I have never seen a greater sales promotion.
    Then what if the product is laced with impurities such as harder and more addictive substances? Without Quality Control you are playing Russian Roulette.
    I would even go so far as to say that ‘Controlled Opposition’ might be a trap for the unwary and nasty bodies above you and me are trying to get us to rebell and fight to the point they then capture and cart us away to some evil camp in which we never see our wives and children ever again.
    I am 100% certain that Alt Med has millions more spooks studying us than say the Huffington Post Appreciation Society.
    I am serious.
    So help me God.

    • ReverendDraco✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ ᵃᶜᶜᵒᵘᶰᵗ

      You’re delirious.

      Signed, God

      • Ken, Megapolis

        Cheers