Surveillance state

It’s the Summer of 2013. How much of what has happened since the Spring Trends Journal do you remember? And of what you do remember, which events affected your life?

Spring was still new when on April 15 two brothers, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, were accused of detonating bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The two explosions killed three people and injured some 200 others. Shortly after the bombings, the FBI released photographs and surveillance video of the two suspects. Broadcast news and the social media world immediately played those few seconds of video showing them wearing backpacks as they walked near the scene of the horrific crime. Over and over, the same quick frames were played along with “expert” commentary and analysis. It was these two backpackers, and not the thousands of other young men and women wearing backpacks in the area, who were the bomb-carrying criminals.

In real time, the brothers were tried and convicted by the media and politicians.

Guilty or not, two facts remain indisputable:
The “official” story kept changing. Among the many inconsistencies, the brothers did not rob the 7-Eleven and they did not have an “arsenal of guns,” as claimed by Watertown Police Chief Edward Deveau. Only a lone 9mm pistol was said to have been found. Contrary to the barrage of news reports, there was no dramatic exchange of gun fire between the younger Dzhokhar, who lay wounded in a dry-docked boat, and the army of police, commandos, SWAT teams, sheriffs, marshals and assorted military squads that surrounded the boat from the air and on land.

In fact, Dzhokhar was unarmed. And the bullet hole through his throat was not a suicide attempt, as was insinuated by authorities, but a result of the thousands of rounds of bullets law enforcement officers pumped into the boat.

After older brother Tamerlan was killed, ostensibly by his brother running over him with the escape vehicle, government officials closed down 100 square miles of Boston in an unprecedented manhunt to find his younger brother. “Shelter in place” was declared by the governor. Residents were told to stay in their homes, not leave their offices and were interrogated if they were caught out on the streets.

Rail service between New York and Boston was stopped. Businesses were shut down. Schools and universities were closed. And a 20-block area of Watertown, where the 19-year-old suspect was believed to have been hiding, was cordoned off. Residents were told not to answer their doors as officers in tactical gear scoured the area. Without search warrants, they entered homes and forced residents into the streets with whatever they were wearing and their hands up in the air.

Helicopters circled and armored vehicles carrying SWAT teams prowled the streets. A massive interagency task force that included the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Guard, the Boston and Watertown Police departments and the Massachusetts State Police was assembled to hunt down and capture the suspect dead or alive.

When Boston was bombed, history was made. But how did it affect your life?

If you watched the mainstream news or read the newspapers, you were left with the impression it didn’t affect you at all. Never mind that the city was virtually locked down. Never mind that citizens were forced to huddle in their homes and be subject to potential warrantless searches and other law enforcement intrusions. Never mind that just about every aspect of normal life was turned on its head, leaving a major American city under the control of police. This show of force earned the instant affirmation and praise from the mainstream media.  And the public cheered law enforcement for keeping them safe.

But if you identify and forecast trends, you would be very concerned knowing that martial law ­— a state of siege — had been declared by the government. And you would be outraged that the Bill of Rights had been shredded in what would prove to be the first major national test case to see what Washington’s interagency task force (created in the wake of the 9/11) could get away with. In the name of protecting the people against terrorism, they got away with Constitutional murder.

The stage for this complete public acquiescence had already been methodically set. But did anyone notice?

Attack on Chicago

Three months after the Boston bombing, several Blackhawk helicopters hovered over Chicago at night without any lights, startling residents who were unaware of the military training exercises. There was scant protest. The desensitized public had become conditioned to accept federal militarism. While notices of the training mission were dutifully posted on the City’s Office of Emergency Management’s news website shortly before it began, few would know about it:

“The City of Chicago is providing support for a routine military training exercise in and around the Chicagoland area on July 22-25. This routine training is conducted by military personnel in cities across the country, designed to ensure the military’s ability to operate in urban environments as service members meet mandatory training certification requirements and prepare for upcoming overseas deployments. The training sites have been carefully selected to minimize the impact on the daily routine of residents. The training is not open to the public.”

George Orwell could not have written a finer passage. There was nothing to be concerned about. It was just routine. In this brief notice to residents, the word “routine” was used four times. But, in fact, it was routine propaganda. And though taxpayers footed the bill for this multi-million dollar domestic military operation, the commando training exercise was “not open to the public.” It was decided by higher-ups that it was best for city residents to not know what was going on. Just stay out of the way.

What were they training for? Overseas deployments? During World War I, World War II and the Korean, Vietnam and Iraq and Afghan wars, America’s armed forces never commandeered homeland metropolitan areas to train for military maneuvers.  What potential foreign hot spot matched the urban landscape of Chicago? Was it Libya? Perhaps it was Syria? Maybe it was Yemen? Bahrain? Sudan?

Was it training for overseas, or was it the militarization of America? Was the unprecedented lockdown of Boston and the unannounced interagency task force exercise conducted in Chicago preparations for social unrest? Was there fear that with the gap between the rich and poor widening, and an entrenched unemployed and under paid population expanding, that civil disturbances were destined to erupt?

Last May, the Pentagon announced new rules of engagement for U.S. military operations on American soil to provide support to “civilian law enforcement authorities, including responses to civilian disturbances.” Titled “Emergency Authority,” it gives the Pentagon brass unilateral authority to impose martial law. Who would have believed that constitutional principles that bar the use of the military in civilian law enforcement would be trampled? What is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and was a justification for the American Revolution against King George because he had “affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power,” is now abolished by the White House and the military.

The military police were the police. Showered with $35 billion from the Department of Homeland Security, virtually every town in America has SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) teams equipped with sophisticated military weapons, gear and armored personnel carriers:

“Driven by martial rhetoric
and the availability of military-style equipment—from bayonets and M-16 rifles to armored personnel carriers — American police forces have often adopted a mind-set previously reserved for the battlefield. The war on drugs and, more recently, post-9/11 antiterrorism efforts have created a new figure on the US scene: the warrior cop — armed to the teeth, ready to deal harshly with targeted wrongdoers, and a growing threat to familiar American liberties.”
(The Wall Street Journal, 19 July 2013)

Former President George W. Bush declared the War on Terror because America was attacked on 9/11 by extremists who “hate our freedoms.” Ironically, that can no longer be justified as a rationale to fight terror because so many of those freedoms are no longer there to hate. And they are not coming back anytime soon. As John Adams warned, “Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”

On July 24, following intense pressure from the Obama administration, the United States House of Representatives defeated an amendment that would have constrained the National Security Agency from randomly spying on all Americans without cause or suspicion.

As Globalnomic® trend forecasters, we understand that all things are connected. When it comes to loss of individual rights, Americans are not alone. Pick a country. From France, to Italy, to Spain, to Greece, to Egypt, and to Russia, it’s a variation on the same theme: A majority of people are growing poorer, going hungry and getting angry. Economies are in decline, living standards are falling, unemployment is rising, corruption is rampant, and the gap between rich and poor is increasing. The too few have much too much, and the far too many have much too little. The natives are restless. As I’ve repeatedly noted, “When people lose everything and have nothing left to lose, they lose it.” And the more that lose it, the more domestic military forces will beat up and crack down on those who rise up.

Are you prepared? Hours after the Twin Towers fell, Wall Street was closed. If you had certificates of deposit and wanted to cash them out, you couldn’t. I know because I tried. I wasn’t able to get my money until Wall Street opened several days later.

The what-if implications of the Boston Marathon bombing experience are alarmingly obvious. Authorities imposed a virtual state of siege over 100 square miles of Boston to capture a 19-year-old kid. Just about every aspect of normal life ceased. Now imagine if a dirty bomb ignited in Atlanta. Or biological warfare was unleashed in New York City. Or a suitcase-size nuke went off in Washington.

Martial law would be imposed across the nation. Equity markets would crash, an economic emergency would be declared, Wall Street would close, a bank holiday would be called and unless you had cash on hand, you’d be cash-less.

What would you do? If you prepare for the worst and nothing happens, you’ve lost nothing. But if the worst happens and you prepared for nothing, you could lose everything. Thus, you may want to consider my “3 Gs”: Gold, Guns and a Getaway Plan.

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