Relocation Drills, Freeze Drills, Road Blocks Our Civil Liberties
Woodhaven, Michigan is one of many communities nationwide where so-called ‘relocation drills’ have taken place over the last decade. Why is this being done? Are parents and members of the community aware of this, and more importantly, are parents being asked, beforehand, to give their permission? Do the children know that they are part of a drill? Can they, or their parents, opt them out of it?
TSA has begun conducting ‘freeze drills’ at airports. Participation would appear to be mandatory, even if it is actually not so. Having a TSA employee (they are not sworn law enforcement officers) shout orders at passengers in a threatening manner is intended to induce compliance. However, unsuspecting travelers are not told that the action is a drill, nor are they offered the chance to opt out of it.
Meanwhile, police agencies are continuing to set up road blocks in communities all across America. Unwitting motorists may be stopped and searched, either physically or by means of police dogs sniffing around their cars, without their having done anything that constitutes ‘probable cause.’ Despite what the Supreme Court ruled in ‘City of Indianapolis v. Edmond,’ these kinds of actions, which police and prosecutors admit result in only 5% of those stopped being arrested (for outstanding warrants, drugs, et cetera), they continue to take place. Police dogs, whose drug-sniffing accuracy is highly questionable, may be used to gather ‘evidence’ against a motorist who has not consented to a search.
TSA ‘VIPER Teams’ also set up check-points on our Nation’s highways, at train stations and at bus stops. As with local and state police road-blocks, there is typically no warning, and no escape for those subject to them.
What ties these events together is that they are part and parcel of the ongoing regimentation of our society. Without even a smidgen of Constitutional sanction, often with no legal mandate to act, members of executive branch agencies at the local, state and federal level are issuing orders to ordinary citizens and are stopping and searching them without cause. That there is no hue and cry raised from one end of America to the other is astounding. While these actions have deep roots in some parts of the country (such as in the treatment of African-Americans in the South or in the tactics of the Detroit Police Department), the recent trend in the militarization of our society dates back to the ‘war on drugs’ of the 1980s. President Eisenhower warned us of the dangers of the ‘military-industrial complex.’ He foresaw that a society supporting a large standing army and on a continuous war footing would be subject to sore temptation to erode civil liberties in a vain attempt to purchase more security. While Ike may not have foreseen the militarization of law enforcement, per se, or of the peremptory manner in which police activities would by increasingly carried out, he might not have been surprised that a trend, begin to combat drug trafficking, should undergo a steep rise, post-9/11, in the name of combatting terrorism. He well understood the temptation, in the name of ‘national emergency,’ to erode civil liberties in favor of an ephemeral safety. Finally, he would’ve understood that ‘iron triangles,’ such as the ‘military-industrial complex,’ can and do exist in other areas of society, such as law enforcement. New missions, such as road blocks, VIPER teams, et cetera, mean bigger budgets and job security in an era of extreme fiscal stress, along with career opportunities for those in change of them.
As citizens, we can choose to hope that we are not subject to the abuses heaped upon our neighbors, or we can choose to exercise our rights in the protection of our rights by defending theirs when they are threatened. should we fail to do so, we will find that we have surrendered liberty without achieving security – and by doing so we will demonstrate that we deserve neither one.