The transition to a police state will not come about with a dramatic coup d’etat, with battering rams and marauding militia. As we have experienced first-hand in recent years, it will creep in softly, one violation at a time, until suddenly you find yourself being subjected to random patdowns and security sweeps during your morning commute to work or quick trip to the shopping mall. Perhaps you have yet to experience the particular thrill, and I use that word loosely, of being manhandled by government agents, having your personal possessions pawed through, and your activities and associations scrutinized. If so, not to worry. It’s only a matter of time before more and more Americans will experience such a military task force knocking at their door. Only, chances are that it won’t be a knock, and they might not even be at home when government agents decide to “investigate” them. Indeed, as increasing numbers of Americans are discovering, these so-called “soft target” security inspections are taking place whenever and wherever the government deems appropriate, at random times and places, and without needing the justification of a particular threat. Worse, not only is this happening with the blessing of the Obama administration but at its urging. < snip > Likewise, in an intimidating display of force in June 2011, VIPR conducted a vast training exercise--that is, a military raid--covering more than 5,000 square miles’ worth of crucial infrastructure sites such as bridges, gas lines, and power plants between Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky. The raid included members of 70 different agencies, over 400 state and federal agents, Black Hawk helicopters, fixed wing aircraft, and Coast Guard vessels. Although the surveillance activities constituted an exercise rather than a response to an actual terrorist threat, the sweep was clearly calculated to produce a deterrent effect. According to TSA official Michael Cleveland, the purpose of the exercise was to “have a visible presence and let people know we’re out here…It can be a deterrent.” The question that must be asked, of course, is who exactly is the TSA trying to target and intimidate? Not would-be terrorists, given that scattershot pat-down stings are unlikely to apprehend or deter terrorists. In light of the fact that average citizens are the ones receiving the brunt of the TSA’s efforts, it stands to reason that we’ve become public enemy number one. We are all suspects. And how does the TSA deal with perceived threats? Its motto, posted at the TSA’s air marshal training center headquarters in the wake of 9/11, is particularly telling: “Dominate. Intimidate. Control.” Those three words effectively sum up the manner in which the government now relates to its citizens, making a travesty of every democratic ideal our representatives spout so glibly and reinforcing the specter of the police state. CONTINUE . . . Hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July. Now sadly it's time to get back to reality.