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The Jackboots Are Coming: Mass Arrests, Power Grabs and the Politics of Fear | By John W. Whitehead

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By John W. Whitehead
June 19, 2019

“Never has our future been more unpredictable, never have we depended so much on political forces that cannot be trusted to follow the rules of common sense and self-interest—forces that look like sheer insanity, if judged by the standards of other centuries.” ― Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

How do you persuade a populace to embrace totalitarianism, that goose-stepping form of tyranny in which the government has all of the power and “we the people” have none?

You persuade the people that the menace they face (imaginary or not) is so sinister, so overwhelming, so fearsome that the only way to surmount the danger is by empowering the government to take all necessary steps to quash it, even if that means allowing government jackboots to trample all over the Constitution.

This is how you use the politics of fear to persuade a freedom-loving people to shackle themselves to a dictatorship.

It works the same way every time.

The government’s overblown, extended wars on terrorism, drugs, violence and illegal immigration have been convenient ruses used to terrorized the populace into relinquishing more of their freedoms in exchange for elusive promises of security.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. More

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Whistleblowers Such as Julian Assange Who Shed Light on Government Corruption Deserve Protection, Not Prosecution

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For Immediate Release: April 11, 2019

THE RUTHERFORD INSTITUTE

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The Rutherford Institute has denounced the U.S. government’s attempts to extradite and prosecute Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for his part in disclosing information relating to government misconduct that is within the public’s right to know.

Assange was arrested on charges of helping U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning access and leak more than 700,000 classified military documents that raise significant ethical and legal questions about the government’s war efforts abroad.

“In the absence of any real system of checks and balances among the three branches of government—i.e., with Congress, the courts and the Executive Branch working together to advance the government’s agenda at the expense of the citizenry’s constitutional rights—it is more vital than ever that the media serve as a check on the government. That is why freedom of the press is such an integral part of our First Amendment,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People. “America’s founders understood the importance of the press in serving as a check on the government’s power grabs, as well as maintaining an educated citizenry and a transparent government. But freedom of the press will not make much of a difference if journalists are afraid to shine a spotlight into the darkest corners of our government and pull back the veil on corruption and wrongdoing.”

MAKE THE GOVERNMENT PLAY BY THE RULES OF THE CONSTITUTION: SUPPORT THE FIGHT FOR FREEDOM
The government’s prosecution of journalists and whistleblowers began under the Obama Administration and has continued under the Trump Administration. As Bloomberg News reported: “Eric Holder, attorney general under President Barack Obama, has prosecuted more government officials for alleged leaks under the World War I-era Espionage Act than all his predecessors combined, including law-and-order Republicans John Mitchell, Edwin Meese and John Ashcroft. The indictments of six individuals under that spy law have drawn criticism from those who say the president’s crackdown chills dissent, curtails a free press and betrays Obama’s initial promise to ‘usher in a new era of open government.’”

The Trump Administration has continued the Obama Administration’s crackdown on whistleblowers. Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks—a website that published secret information, news leaks, and classified media from anonymous sources—was arrested on April 11, 2019, on charges of helping U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning access and leak more than 700,000 classified military documents that portray the U.S. government and its military as reckless, irresponsible and responsible for thousands of civilian deaths.

Included among the leaked Manning materials were the Collateral Murder video (April 2010), the Afghanistan war logs (July 2010), the Iraq war logs (October 2010), a quarter of a million diplomatic cables (November 2010), and the Guantánamo files (April 2011). The Collateral Murder leak included gunsight video footage from two U.S. AH-64 Apache helicopters engaged in a series of air-to-ground attacks while air crew laughed at some of the casualties. Among the casualties were two Reuters correspondents who were gunned down after their cameras were mistaken for weapons and a driver who stopped to help one of the journalists. The driver’s two children, who happened to be in the van at the time it was fired upon by U.S. forces, suffered serious injuries.

Manning, who was jailed for seven years from 2010 to 2017 for leaking classified documents to Wikileaks, was arrested in March 2019 for refusing to testify before a grand jury about Assange, placed in solitary confinement for almost a month, and remains in prison.

The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties organization, defends individuals whose constitutional rights have been violated and educates the public about threats to their freedoms.

This press release is also available at www.rutherford.org.

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