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Rutherford Institute Challenges Police Use of License Plate Readers as Mass Surveillance Tool to Track Citizens Not Suspected of a Crime

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

RICHMOND, Va. — The Rutherford Institute has asked the Virginia Supreme Court to prohibit police from using license plate readers as mass surveillance tools to track citizens whether or not they are suspected of a crime. In filing an amicus brief in Neal v. Fairfax County Police Department, Rutherford Institute attorneys argue that Fairfax County’s practice of collecting and storing license plate reader data violates a Virginia law prohibiting the government from amassing personal information about individuals, including their driving habits and location.

Mounted next to traffic lights or on police cars, Automated License Plate Readers (ALPR), which photograph up to 3,600 license tag numbers per minute, take a picture of every passing license tag number and store the tag number, date, time and location of the picture in a searchable database. The data is then shared with law enforcement, fusion centers and private companies and used to track the movements of persons in their cars. There are reportedly tens of thousands of these license plate readers now in operation throughout the country. It is estimated that over 99% of the people being unnecessarily surveilled are entirely innocent. The Virginia Supreme Court will hear arguments today in Neal v. Fairfax County Police Department.

The Rutherford Institute’s amicus brief in Neal v. Fairfax County is available at www.rutherford.org.

“Incredibly, Americans cannot even drive their cars without being enmeshed in the government’s web of surveillance. We’re on the losing end of a technological revolution that has already taken hostage our computers, our phones, our finances, our entertainment, our shopping, our appliances, and now, it’s focused its sights on our cars,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People. “By subjecting Americans to surveillance without their knowledge or compliance and then storing the data for later use, the government has erected the ultimate suspect society. In such an environment, there is no such thing as ‘innocent until proven guilty.’” More

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American Horror Story: The Shameful Truth About the Government’s Secret Experiments

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American Horror Story: The Shameful Truth About the Government’s Secret Experiments

The Rutherford Institute

www.rutherford.org

NOW PLAYING: It’s easy to denounce the full-frontal horrors carried out by the scientific and medical community within a totalitarian regime such as Nazi Germany. However, what do you do with a government that claims to be a champion of human rights while allowing its agents to engage in the foulest and most despicable acts of torture, abuse and human experimentation? Mind you, the U.S. government has seldom had its citizens’ best interests at heart. The government didn’t have our best interests at heart when it passed laws subjecting us to all kinds of invasive searches and surveillance, and censoring our speech and stifling our expression. It didn’t have our best interests at heart when it turned America into a battlefield and transformed law enforcement agencies into extensions of the military. Certainly the government did not have our best interests at heart when it conducted secret experiments on an unsuspecting populace—citizens and noncitizens alike—making healthy people sick by spraying them with chemicals, injecting them with infectious diseases and exposing them to airborne toxins. Bottom line: a government that repeatedly lies, breaks the laws, overreaches its authority and abuses its power can’t be trusted.

 

Twilight of the Courts: The Elusive Search for Justice in the American Police State

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This commentary is also available at www.rutherford.org.

By John W. Whitehead
June 5, 2017

“As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air – however slight – lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.”—Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas We have entered a new regime and it’s called the American police state. More

Run for Your Life: The American Police State Is Coming to Get You

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By John W. Whitehead
April 17, 2017

We’ve reached the point where state actors can penetrate rectums and vaginas, where judges can order forced catheterizations, and where police and medical personnel can perform scans, enemas and colonoscopies without the suspect’s consent. And these procedures aren’t to nab kingpins or cartels, but people who at worst are hiding an amount of drugs that can fit into a body cavity. In most of these cases, they were suspected only of possession or ingestion. Many of them were innocent… But these tactics aren’t about getting drugs off the street… These tactics are instead about degrading and humiliating a class of people that politicians and law enforcement have deemed the enemy.”—Radley Balko, The Washington Post

Daily, all across America, individuals who dare to resist—or even question—a police order are being subjected to all sorts of government-sanctioned abuse ranging from forced catheterization, forced blood draws, roadside strip searches and cavity searches, and other foul and debasing acts that degrade their bodily integrity and leave them bloodied and bruised.

Americans as young as 4 years old are being leg shackled, handcuffed, tasered and held at gun point for not being quiet, not being orderly and just being childlike—i.e., not being compliant enough.

Government social workers actually subjected a 3-year-old boy to a forced catheterization after he was unable to provide them with a urine sample on demand (the boy still wasn’t potty trained). The boy was held down, screaming in pain, while nurses forcibly inserted a tube into his penis to drain his bladder—all of this done because the boy’s mother’s boyfriend had failed a urine analysis for drugs.

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The Rutherford Institute: Constitutional Q&A: American Community Survey

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Resources

PDF VERSION AVAILABLE HERE

Also available, The Rutherford Institute has developed a form letter that you may use in standing up against the government’s attempt to force you to disclose personal information

© 2017 The Rutherford Institute[1]

In an age when the government has significant technological resources at its disposal to not only carry out warrantless surveillance on American citizens but also to harvest and mine that data for its own dubious purposes, whether it be crime-mapping or profiling based on race or religion, the potential for abuse is grave. As such, any attempt by the government to encroach upon the citizenry’s privacy rights or establish a system by which the populace can be targeted, tracked and singled out must be met with extreme caution.

The American Community Survey (ACS) qualifies as a government program whose purpose, while seemingly benign, raises significant constitutional concerns.

Empowered by Congress with greater powers to amass information about citizens, the Census Bureau introduced the ACS in 2005. Unlike the traditional census, which is limited to a simple head count every ten years for the purpose of establishing representation in Congress, the ACS is sent on an ongoing basis to about 3 million homes every year at a reported cost of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.[2]

Individuals who receive the ACS must complete it or be subject to monetary penalties. Although no reports have surfaced of individuals actually being penalized for refusing to answer the survey, the potential fines that can be levied for refusing to participate in the ACS are staggering. For every question not answered, there is a $100 fine. And for every intentionally false response to a question, the fine is $500. Therefore, if a person representing a two-person household refused to fill out any questions or simply answered nonsensically, the total fines could range from upwards of $10,000 and $50,000 for noncompliance. More

‘We the Prisoners’: The Demise of the Fourth Amendment

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speak truth

By John W. Whitehead

June 28, 2016

“Our carceral state banishes American citizens to a gray wasteland far beyond the promises and protections the government grants its other citizens… When the doors finally close and one finds oneself facing banishment to the carceral state—the years, the walls, the rules, the guards, the inmates—reactions vary. Some experience an intense sickening feeling. Others, a strong desire to sleep. Visions of suicide. A deep shame. A rage directed toward guards and other inmates. Utter disbelief. The incarcerated attempt to hold on to family and old social ties through phone calls and visitations. At first, friends and family do their best to keep up. But phone calls to prison are expensive, and many prisons are located far from one’s hometown… As the visits and phone calls diminish, the incarcerated begins to adjust to the fact that he or she is, indeed, a prisoner. New social ties are cultivated. New rules must be understood.”—Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic

In a carceral state—a.k.a. a prison state or a police state—there is no Fourth Amendment to protect you from the overreaches, abuses, searches and probing eyes of government overlords.

In a carceral state, there is no difference between the treatment meted out to a law-abiding citizen and a convicted felon: both are equally suspect and treated as criminals, without any of the special rights and privileges reserved for the governing elite.

In a carceral state, there are only two kinds of people: the prisoners and the prison guards.

With every new law enacted by federal and state legislatures, every new ruling handed down by government courts, and every new military weapon, invasive tactic and egregious protocol employed by government agents, “we the people”—the prisoners of the American police state—are being pushed that much further into a corner, our backs against the prison wall.

This concept of a carceral state in which we possess no rights except for that which the government grants on an as-needed basis is the only way I can begin to comprehend, let alone articulate, the irrational, surreal, topsy-turvy, through-the-looking-glass state of affairs that is being imposed upon us in America today.

As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we who pretend we are free are no different from those who spend their lives behind bars.

Indeed, we are experiencing much the same phenomenon that journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates ascribes to those who are banished to a “gray wasteland far beyond the promises and protections the government grants its other citizens” : a sickening feeling, a desire to sleep, hopelessness, shame, rage, disbelief, clinginess to the past and that which is familiar, and then eventually resignation and acceptance of our new “normal.”

All that we are experiencing—the sense of dread at what is coming down the pike, the desperation, the apathy about government corruption, the deeply divided partisanship, the carnivalesque political spectacles, the public displays of violence, the nostalgia for the past—are part of the dying refrain of an America that is fading fast.

No longer must the government obey the law.

Likewise, “we the people” are no longer shielded by the rule of law.

While the First Amendment—which gives us a voice—is being muzzled, the Fourth Amendment—which protects us from being bullied, badgered, beaten, broken and spied on by government agents—is being disemboweled. More

A Week in the Life of the American Police State

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speak

By John W. Whitehead

June 20, 2016

This commentary is also
available at www.rutherford.org.

“Those who corrupt the public mind are just as evil as those who steal from the public purse.”—Adlai Stevenson, 23rd Vice President of the United States

If you’ve been caught up in the circus that is the presidential election, you’ve likely missed the latest news about all the ways in which the government continues to erode our freedoms, undermine our sovereignty, abuse our trust, invade our homes, invade our privacy, destroy our property, hijack our bank accounts, and generally render itself above the law.

Then again, this is all par for the course from a militaristic government that is armed to the teeth, wages war against its own people, imprisons its citizens for profit, marches in lockstep with the corporate elite, and treats human beings as little more than cattle to be branded, bought, sold and butchered.

The following incidents constitute a typical week in the life of the American police state.

Not content with merely spying on our emails and phone calls, the NSA wants to spy on thermostats, refrigerators, and pacemakers.

Reinforcing fears about how easily surveillance technology can be abused by government officials, local police in California are using money acquired through asset forfeiture to buy surveillance equipment that was then used to blackmail city council members.

Small-town police departments continue to militarize their forces, acquiring military equipment such as BearCat armored vehicles and SWAT teams at an alarming rate.

According to the Government Accountability Office, the majority of people in the government’s criminal face-recognition database have never committed a crime.

The private prison business is booming, signaling a profitable windfall for investors and a death knell for any American unfortunate enough to run afoul of the many laws criminalizing otherwise legitimate behavior such as growing a garden on one’s front lawn or hosting a Bible study in one’s backyard. More

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