Part of what is stirring these folks up is a belief that the Federal government is busily making contingency plans to declare martial law.
Consider John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute:
Bush expanded presidential power to, among other things, allow government agents to secretly open the private mail of American citizens; authorize government agents to secretly, and illegally, listen in on the phone calls of American citizens and read our e-mails; assume control of the federal government following a "catastrophic event"; and declare martial law.
Thus, the groundwork was laid for an imperial presidency and a potentially totalitarian government--a state of affairs that has not ended with Barack Obama's ascension to the Oval Office, despite hopes to the contrary that President Obama would fully restore the balance between government and its citizens to a pre-Bush status quo. As Charlie Savage reports in the New York Times, "Signs suggest that the administration's changes may turn out to be less sweeping than many had hoped or feared--prompting growing worry among civil liberties groups and a sense of vindication among supporters of Bush-era policies."
The local police have, in many regards, already evolved into de facto extensions of the military. Dressed like Darth Vader look-alikes, the police have opted for the SWAT-team dress formally adopted by the federal agencies. Congressional legislation allows the U.S. military, by way of the Pentagon, to train civilian police. The Pentagon has also provided local police with military equipment such as M-16 rifles, bayonets, boats, vehicles, surveillance equipment, chemical suits and flak jackets, among other items. Thus, they are armed to the teeth.
We already have a federal police force comprised of Secret Service agents who are authorized to "carry firearms; make arrests without a warrant for any offense against the United States committed in their presence." A recent incident demonstrates the increased and immediate involvement of federal agents in local matters with the assistance of local police. Chip Harrison, a construction worker in Oklahoma, was pulled over by local police because of an anti-Obama sign proclaiming "Abort Obama, not the unborn" in his pickup truck window. The sign was confiscated by local police, and Harrison was informed that the sign could be considered a threat to the president. The local police contacted the Secret Service, who, within a matter of hours, came to Harrison's home and investigated the matter. So much for the freedom of expression.
According to the Army Times, we now have at least 20,000 U.S. military troops deployed within our borders to "help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack." I am not alone in believing that we are just one incident--be it a terrorist attack, a major financial blowout or a widespread natural disaster--away from martial law being declared in this country. And once that happens, the Constitution and Bill of Rights will be suspended and what government officials believe and do, no matter how arbitrary, will become law.
Our methods of communication are already being monitored--and, in some instances, shut down, abetted by the telecommunications giants, which act as extensions of the government. Thus, not only does the government have the ability to open and read our mail, it can also listen in on our phone calls and jam our cell phone calls. As the Washington Post reports, federal authorities already have the ability to jam cell phones and other wireless devices. Unbeknownst to the nearly two million people who attended the Obama Inauguration festivities, federal authorities jammed cell phone signals at specific locations. Such disruptions simply appear to be a dropped call or lost signal. Of course, such jamming could be conducted on a more extensive basis nationwide. This would prevent citizens from being able to communicate with one another or make appeals to their government representatives. Although jamming is technically illegal for state and local agencies, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) plans to introduce legislation to allow local police to "selectively" jam cell phones.
All that is needed is another threat to national security--a so-called "catastrophic event." Under the Bush administration, the danger was terrorism. Under the Obama administration, the economy is being posed as the greatest threat to national security.
This danger was made clear in a U.S. Army War College report issued last fall. As Hedges reports, "The military must be prepared, the document warned, for a 'violent, strategic dislocation inside the United States,' which could be provoked by 'unforeseen economic collapse,' 'purposeful domestic resistance,' 'pervasive public health emergencies' or 'loss of functioning political and legal order.' The 'widespread civil violence,' the document said, 'would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security.'"
Thankfully, we have not yet reached the point of no hope. But it must be acknowledged that the average American simply does not have the ability to withstand a totalitarian government.
Right now, all we can do is sound the alarm. Become educated. Form local citizens groups in your community. Educate your neighbors on their rights and inform them about the grave possibilities we face in the event of a government-declared emergency. Keep in almost near-constant contact with your representatives in Congress and voice your discontent. Most of all, stay informed and exercise your right to redress your grievances with the government while you still can.
I found this article through the left-leaning Antiwar.com, which is interesting, given that Whitehead's Rutherford Institute carefully presents itself as a civil rights organization, but is apparently a front for Christian reconstructionists.
And some of the lines in the segments I quoted above can be considered quite chilling: it must be acknowledged that the average American does not have the ability to withstand a totalitarian government and form local citizen groups in your community.
On the other hand, there's actually merit in a lot of Whitehead's observations. The government has diverted military armaments into the hands of local police; the US Army has redeployed 25,000 troops of the 3rd Infantry Division for an internal security mission; Joe Lieberman is introducing legislation to give local law enforcement orgnizations the power to jam civilian communications; the Obama administration has yet to roll back many Bush era powers....
So here's the dynamic that's occurring:
1) There are legitimate civil rights and civil liberties concerns about the accretion of government power
2) There is already a large, disaffected segment of our population that sees the Federal government more as a potential oppressor than the deliverer of benefits or economic salvation
3) There are plenty of people in the blogosphere who pour kerosene on the fire by telling those folks that they are un-American, that they should be rounded up and tried for treason, and that people with socially conservative beliefs are a danger to America
4) And there are plenty of hard-core survivalist militia-type dominationists who have been promising their followers and uncritical listeners for--literally--decades that the government was coming to get them.
My liberal and progressive friends want to make the denunciation of these folks some kind of litmus test for political legitimacy, which--in and of itself--helps guarantee two things: (1) the disaffected will become increasingly more paranoid; and (2) legitimate civil liberties questions will become increasingly marginalized in the political arena.
And those civil liberties concerns are very real.