By John W. Whitehead
“It is the duty of the patriot to protect his
country from its government.”—Thomas Paine
“When the government violates the people’s
rights, insurrection is, for the people and for each
portion of the people, the most sacred of the rights
and the most indispensable of duties.”—Marquis De
June 29, 2020 "Information
Clearing House" - Had the Declaration of
Independence been written today, it would have rendered
its signers extremists or terrorists, resulting in them
being placed on a government watch list, targeted for
surveillance of their activities and correspondence, and
potentially arrested, held indefinitely, stripped of
their rights and labeled enemy combatants.
This is no longer the stuff of speculation and
In fact, Attorney General William Barr recently
plans to target, track and surveil “anti-government
extremists” and preemptively nip in the bud any
“threats” to public safety and the rule of law.
It doesn’t matter that the stated purpose of Barr’s
anti-government extremist task force is to
investigate dissidents on the far right (the
“boogaloo” movement) and far left (antifa, a loosely
organized anti-fascist group) who have been accused of
instigating violence and disrupting peaceful protests.
Boogaloo and Antifa have given the government the
perfect excuse for declaring war (with all that entails:
surveillance, threat assessments, pre-crime, etc.)
against so-called anti-government extremists.
Without a doubt, America’s revolutionary founders
would have been at the top of Barr’s list.
After all, the people who fomented the American
Revolution spoke out at rallies, distributed critical
pamphlets, wrote scathing editorials and took to the
streets in protest. They were rebelling against a
government they saw as being excessive in its taxation
and spending. For their efforts, they were demonized and
painted as an angry mob, extremists akin to terrorists,
by the ruler of the day, King George III.
Of course, it doesn’t take much to be considered an
anti-government extremist (a.k.a.
domestic terrorist) today.
If you believe in and exercise your rights under the
Constitution (namely, your right to speak freely,
worship freely, associate with like-minded individuals
who share your political views, criticize the
government, own a weapon, demand a warrant before being
questioned or searched by the police, or any other
activity viewed as potentially anti-government, racist,
bigoted, anarchic or sovereign), you’re at
the top of the government’s terrorism watch list.
Indeed, under Barr’s new task force, I and every
other individual today who dares to speak truth to power
could also be targeted for surveillance, because what
we’re really dealing with is a government that wants to
suppress dangerous words—words about its warring empire,
words about its land grabs, words about its militarized
police, words about its killing, its poisoning and its
corruption—in order to keep its lies going.
This is how the government plans to snuff out any
attempts by “we the people” to stand up to its
tyranny: under the pretext of rooting out violent
extremists, the government’s anti-extremism program
will, in many cases, be utilized to render otherwise
lawful, nonviolent activities as potentially
The danger is real.
Keep in mind that the government agencies involved in
ferreting out American “extremists” will carry out their
objectives—to identify and deter potential extremists—in
fusion centers, data collection agencies, behavioral
scientists, corporations, social media, and community
organizers and by relying on cutting-edge technology for
surveillance, facial recognition,
predictive policing, biometrics, and behavioral
epigenetics (in which life experiences alter one’s
This is pre-crime on an ideological scale and it’s
been a long time coming.
For example, in 2009, the Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) released two reports, one on “Rightwing
Extremism,” which broadly defines rightwing
extremists as individuals and groups “that are mainly
antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of
state or local authority, or rejecting government
authority entirely,” and one on “Leftwing
Extremism,” which labeled environmental and animal
rights activist groups as extremists
Incredibly, both reports use the words terrorist and
That same year, the DHS launched
Operation Vigilant Eagle, which calls for
surveillance of military veterans returning from Iraq,
Afghanistan and other far-flung places, characterizing
them as extremists and potential domestic terrorist
threats because they may be “disgruntled, disillusioned
or suffering from the psychological effects of war.
These reports indicate that for the government,
anyone seen as opposing the government—whether they’re
Left, Right or somewhere in between—can be labeled an
Fast forward a few years, and you have the National
Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which Congress has
continually re-upped, that allows the military to take
you out of your home, lock you up with no access to
friends, family or the courts if you’re seen as an
Now connect the dots, from the 2009 Extremism reports
to the NDAA, the National Security Agency’s far-reaching
surveillance networks, and fusion centers that collect
and share surveillance data between local, state and
federal police agencies
Add in tens of thousands of armed, surveillance
drones that are beginning to blanket American skies,
facial recognition technology that will identify and
track you wherever you go and whatever you do. And then
to complete the circle, toss in the real-time crime
centers being deployed in cities across the country,
which will be attempting to “predict” crimes and
identify criminals before they happen based on
widespread surveillance, complex mathematical algorithms
and prognostication programs.
Hopefully you’re getting the picture, which is how
easy it is for the government to identify, label and
target individuals as “extremist.”
And just like that, we’ve come full circle.
Imagine living in a country where armed soldiers
crash through doors to arrest and imprison citizens
merely for criticizing government officials. Imagine
that in this very same country, you’re watched all the
time, and if you look even a little bit suspicious, the
police stop and frisk you or pull you over to search you
on the off chance you’re doing something illegal.
Keep in mind that if you have a firearm of any kind
(or anything that resembled a firearm) while in this
country, it may get you arrested and, in some
circumstances, shot by police.
If you’re thinking this sounds like America today,
you wouldn’t be far wrong.
However, the scenario described above took place more
than 200 years ago, when American colonists suffered
under Great Britain’s version of an early police state.
It was only when the colonists finally got fed up with
being silenced, censored, searched, frisked, threatened,
and arrested that they finally revolted against the
No document better states their grievances than the
Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas
A document seething with outrage over a government
which had betrayed its citizens, the Declaration of
Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, by 56 men who
laid everything on the line, pledged it all—“our Lives,
our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor”—because they
believed in a radical idea: that all people are created
to be free.
Labeled traitors, these men were charged with
treason, a crime punishable by death. For some, their
acts of rebellion would cost them their homes and their
fortunes. For others, it would be the ultimate
Yet even knowing the heavy price they might have to
pay, these men dared to speak up when silence could not
Declaration of Independence again, and ask yourself
if the list of complaints tallied by Jefferson don’t
bear a startling resemblance to the abuses “we the
people” are suffering at the hands of the American
If you find the purple prose used by the Founders
hard to decipher, here’s my translation of what the
Declaration of Independence would look and sound like if
it were written in the modern vernacular:
There comes a time when a populace must stand
united and say “enough is enough” to the
government’s abuses, even if it means getting rid of
the political parties in power. Believing that “we
the people” have a natural and divine right to
direct our own lives, here are truths about the
power of the people and how we arrived at the
decision to sever our ties to the government:
All people are created equal. All people possess
certain innate rights that no government or agency
or individual can take away from them. Among these
are the right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of
Happiness. The government’s job is to protect the
people’s innate rights to Life, Liberty and the
pursuit of Happiness. The government’s power comes
from the will of the people.
Whenever any government abuses its power, it is
the right of the people to alter or abolish that
government and replace it with a new government that
will respect and protect the rights of the people.
It is not wise to get rid of a government for minor
transgressions. In fact, as history has shown,
people resist change and are inclined to suffer all
manner of abuses to which they have become
accustomed. However, when the people have been
subjected to repeated abuses and power grabs,
carried out with the purpose of establishing a
tyrannical government, people have a right and duty
to do away with that tyrannical Government and to
replace it with a new government that will protect
and preserve their innate rights for their future
This is exactly the state of affairs we are
suffering under right now, which is why it is
necessary that we change this imperial system of
government. The history of the present Imperial
Government is a history of repeated abuses and power
grabs, carried out with the intention of
establishing absolute Tyranny over the country.
To prove this, consider the following:
The government has, through its own negligence
and arrogance, refused to adopt urgent and necessary
laws for the good of the people. The government has
threatened to hold up critical laws unless the
people agree to relinquish their right to be fully
represented in the Legislature.
In order to expand its power and bring about
compliance with its dictates, the government has
made it nearly impossible for the people to make
their views and needs heard by their
representatives. The government has repeatedly
suppressed protests arising in response to its
The government has obstructed justice by refusing
to appoint judges who respect the Constitution and
has instead made the Courts march in lockstep with
the government’s dictates.
The government has allowed its agents to harass
the people, steal from them, jail them and even
execute them. The government has directed
militarized government agents—a.k.a., a standing
army—to police domestic affairs in peacetime. The
government has turned the country into a militarized
The government has conspired to undermine the
rule of law and the Constitution in order to expand
its own powers.
The government has allowed its militarized police
to invade our homes and inflict violence on
homeowners. The government has failed to hold its
agents accountable for wrongdoing and murder under
the guise of “qualified immunity.”
The government has jeopardized our international
trade agreements. The government has overtaxed us
without our permission.
The government has denied us due process and the
right to a fair trial. The government has engaged in
extraordinary rendition. The government has
continued to expand its military empire in collusion
with its corporate partners-in-crime and occupy
The government has eroded fundamental legal
protections and destabilized the structure of
government. The government has not only declared its
federal powers superior to those of the states but
has also asserted its sovereign power over the
rights of “we the people.”
The government has ceased to protect the people
and instead waged domestic war against the people.
The government has plundered our seas, ravaged our
Coasts, and destroyed the lives of the people.
The government has employed private contractors
and mercenaries to carry out acts of death,
desolation and tyranny against other nations,
totally unworthy of a civilized nation. The
government through its political propaganda has
pitted its citizens against each other. The
government has stirred up civil unrest and laid the
groundwork for martial law.
Repeatedly, we have asked the government to cease
its abuses. Each time, the government has responded
with more abuse.
An Imperial Ruler who acts like a tyrant is not
fit to govern a free people.
We have repeatedly sounded the alarm to our
fellow citizens about the government’s abuses. We
have warned them about the government’s power grabs.
We have appealed to their sense of justice. We have
reminded them of our common bonds. They have
rejected our plea for justice and brotherhood. Thus,
our fellow citizens are equally at fault for the
injustices being carried out by the government.
Thus, for the reasons mentioned above, we the
people of the united States of America declare
ourselves free from the chains of an abusive
government. Relying on the Creator’s protection, we
pledge to stand by this Declaration of Independence
with our lives, our fortunes and our honor.
See what I mean? The abuses meted out by an imperial
government and endured by the American people have not
ended. They have merely evolved.
Two hundred and forty-four years after a group of
anti-government extremists declared their independence
from tyranny, the American people have once again
managed to work their way back under the tyrant’s thumb.
“We the people” are still being robbed blind by a
government of thieves. We are still being taken
advantage of by a government of scoundrels, idiots and
monsters. We are still being locked up by a government
of greedy jailers. We are still being spied on by a
government of Peeping Toms. We are still being ravaged
by a government of ruffians, rapists and killers.
We are still being forced to surrender our
freedoms—and those of our children—to a government of
extortionists, money launderers and corporate pirates.
And we are still being held at gunpoint by a government
of soldiers: a standing army in the form of a
The bipartisan coup that laid siege to our nation did
not happen overnight. It snuck in under our radar,
hiding behind the guise of national security, the war on
drugs, the war on terror, the war on immigration,
political correctness, hate crimes and a host of other
official-sounding programs aimed at expanding the
government’s power at the expense of individual
As I make clear in my book
Battlefield America: The War on the American People,
the building blocks for the bleak future we’re just now
getting a foretaste of—police shootings of unarmed
citizens, profit-driven prisons, weapons of compliance,
a wall-to-wall surveillance state, pre-crime programs, a
suspect society, school-to-prison pipelines, militarized
police, overcriminalization, SWAT team raids, endless
wars, etc.—were put in place by government officials we
trusted to look out for our best interests and by
American citizens who failed to heed James Madison’s
warning to “take alarm at the first experiment on our
For too long now, we have suffered the injustices of
a government that has no regard for our rights or our
We’ve suffered in silence for too long.
Frankly, what this country desperately needs is more
anti-government extremists willing to take the
government to task for its excesses, abuses and power
grabs that fly in the face of every principle for which
America’s founders risked their lives.
Constitutional attorney and
author John W. Whitehead is founder and president
Rutherford Institute. His new book Battlefield
America: The War on the American People
is available at
www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be
contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
views expressed in this article are solely those
of the author and do not necessarily reflect the
opinions of Information Clearing House.
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