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John W. Whitehead

John W. Whitehead

John W. Whitehead is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. Whitehead's concern for the persecuted and oppressed led him, in 1982, to establish The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties and human rights organization whose international headquarters are located in Charlottesville, Virginia. Whitehead serves as the Institute’s president and spokesperson, in addition to writing a weekly commentary that is posted on The Rutherford Institute’s website (www.rutherford.org), as well being distributed to several hundred newspapers, and hosting a national public service radio campaign. Whitehead's aggressive, pioneering approach to civil liberties issues has earned him numerous accolades, including the Hungarian Medal of Freedom.

Articles by John W. Whitehead

Don’t Vote for a Psychopath: Tyranny at the Hands of a Psychopathic Government

6 days ago

“Politicians are more likely than people in the general population to be sociopaths. I think you would find no expert in the field of sociopathy/psychopathy/antisocial personality disorder who would dispute this… That a small minority of human beings literally have no conscience was and is a bitter pill for our society to swallow — but it does explain a great many things, shamelessly deceitful political behavior being one.”—Dr. Martha Stout, clinical psychologist and former instructor at Harvard Medical School
Twenty years ago, a newspaper headline asked the question: “What’s the difference between a politician and a psychopath?”
The answer, then and now, remains the same: None.
There is no difference between psychopaths and

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The Election Has Already Been Hijacked and the Winner Decided: ‘We the People’ Lose

25 days ago

“Free election of masters does not abolish the masters or the slaves.” ― Herbert Marcuse
Republicans and Democrats alike fear that the other party will attempt to hijack this election.
President Trump is convinced that mail-in ballots are a scam except in Florida, where it’s safe to vote by mail because of its “great Republican governor.”
The FBI is worried about foreign hackers continuing to target and exploit vulnerabilities in the nation’s electoral system, sowing distrust about the parties, the process and the outcome.
I, on the other hand, am not overly worried: after all, the voting booths have already been hijacked by a political elite comprised of Republicans and Democrats who are determined to retain power at all costs.

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Justice Sleeps and ‘We the People’ Suffer: No, the US Supreme Court Will Not Save Us

September 23, 2020

“The Constitution is not neutral. It was designed to take the government off the backs of the people.”—Justice William O. Douglas
The U.S. Supreme Court will not save us.
It doesn’t matter which party gets to pick the replacement to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. The battle that is gearing up right now is yet more distraction and spin to keep us oblivious to the steady encroachment on our rights by the architects of the American Police State.
Americans can no longer rely on the courts to mete out justice.
Although the courts were established to serve as Courts of Justice, what we have been saddled with, instead, are Courts of Order. This is true at all levels of the judiciary, but especially so

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Virtual School Dangers: The Hazards of a Police State Education During COVID-19

September 16, 2020

“There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”—George Orwell, 1984
Once upon a time in America, parents breathed a sigh of relief when their kids went back to school after a summer’s hiatus, content in the knowledge that for a good portion of the day, their kids would be gainfully

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Mile Markers of Tyranny: Losing Our Freedoms on the Road From 9/11 to COVID-19

September 9, 2020

“No one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end.”—George Orwell
You can map the nearly 20-year journey from the 9/11 attacks to the COVID-19 pandemic by the freedoms we’ve lost along the way.
The road we have been traveling has been littered with the wreckage of our once-vaunted liberties, especially those enshrined in the Fourth Amendment.
The assaults on our freedoms that began with the post-9/11 passage of the USA Patriot Act laid the groundwork for the eradication of every vital constitutional safeguard against government overreach, corruption and abuse.
The COVID-19 pandemic with its lockdowns, mask mandates, surveillance, snitch lines for Americans to report their fellow

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Since 9/11, the Government’s Answer to Every Problem Has Been More Government

September 2, 2020

“A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take away everything that you have.”—Anonymous
Have you noticed that the government’s answer to every problem is more government—at taxpayer expense—and less individual liberty?
The Great Depression. The World Wars. The 9/11 terror attacks. The COVID-19 pandemic.
Every crisis—manufactured or otherwise—since the nation’s early beginnings has become a make-work opportunity for the government to expand its reach and its power at taxpayer expense while limiting our freedoms at every turn.
Indeed, the history of the United States is a testament to the old adage that liberty decreases as government (and government bureaucracy) grows. To put it

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Attack of the Tomato Killers: The Police State’s War on Weed and Backyard Gardens

August 26, 2020

“They came again this morning at about 8:00 o’clock. A large cargo-type helicopter flew low over the cabin, shaking it on its very foundations. It shook all of us inside, too. I feel frightened … I see how helpless and tormented I am becoming with disgust and disillusionment with the government which has turned this beautiful country into a police state … I feel like I am in the middle of a war zone.”—Journal entry from a California resident describing the government’s aerial searches for marijuana plants
Backyard gardeners, beware: tomato plants have become collateral damage in the government’s war on drugs, especially marijuana.
In fact, merely growing a vegetable garden on your own property, or in a greenhouse on your

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The Great Election Fraud: Will Our Freedoms Survive Another Election?

August 19, 2020

“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
And so it begins again, the never-ending, semi-delusional, train-wreck of an election cycle in which the American people allow themselves to get worked up into a frenzy over the misguided belief that the future of this nation—nay, our very lives—depends on who we elect as president.
For the next three months, Americans will be dope-fed billions of dollars’ worth of political propaganda aimed at keeping them glued to their

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P Is for Predator State: the Building Blocks of Tyranny From A to Z

August 5, 2020

“When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; a culture-death is a clear possibility.” — Professor Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Discourse in the Age of Show Business
While America continues to fixate on the drama-filled reality show scripted by the powers-that-be, directed from the nation’s capital, and played out in high definition across the country, the American Police State has moved steadily forward.
Nothing has changed.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a

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One Nation Under House Arrest: How Do COVID-19 Mandates Affect Our Freedoms?

July 30, 2020

“It is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of citizens, and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. The freeman of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle.”—James Madison
We have become one nation under house arrest.
You think we’re any different from the Kentucky couple fitted out with ankle monitoring bracelets and forced to quarantine at home?
We’re not
Consider what happened to Elizabeth and Isaiah Linscott.
Elizabeth took a precautionary

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Tyranny Without a Tyrant: the Deep State’s Divide-and-Conquer Strategy Is Working

July 9, 2020

“In a fully developed bureaucracy there is nobody left with whom one can argue, to whom one can present grievances, on whom the pressures of power can be exerted. Bureaucracy is the form of government in which everybody is deprived of political freedom, of the power to act; for the rule by Nobody is not no-rule, and where all are equally powerless, we have a tyranny without a tyrant.” ― Hannah Arendt, On Violence
What exactly is going on?
Is this revolution? Is this anarchy? Is this a spectacle engineered to distract us from the machinations of the police state? Is this a sociological means of re-setting our national equilibrium? Is this a Machiavellian scheme designed to further polarize the populace and undermine our efforts to

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America’s Revolutionary Founders Would Be Anti-Government Extremists Today

June 30, 2020

“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 Lafayette
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 warning.
In fact, Attorney General William Barr

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This Way Lies Madness: the Summer of Hate Meets the Age of Intolerance

June 26, 2020

“Violence creates many more social problems than it solves…. If they succumb to the temptation of using violence in their struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and our chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos. Violence isn’t the way.”—Martin Luther King Jr.
Marches, protests, boycotts, sit-ins: these are nonviolent tactics that work.
Looting, vandalism, the destruction of public property, intimidation tactics aimed at eliminating anything that might cause offense to the establishment: these tactics of mobs and bullies may work in the short term, but they will only give rise to greater injustices in the long term.
George Floyd’s death sparked

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The System Is Rigged: Qualified Immunity Is How the Police State Stays in Power

June 18, 2020

“What’s been most striking to me is just how one-sided the rules are when Americans take on their own government…. It has been dismaying to learn the extent to which rules and laws shield the government from accountability for its abuses—or even lawbreaking…. It’s been a long and frightening lesson…. The rules seem rigged to protect government lawlessness, and the playing field is uneven. Too many processes favor the government. The deck is still stacked.” —  Journalist Sharyl Attkisson
The system is rigged.
The system is rigged, the government is corrupt, and “we the people” continue to waste our strength by fighting each other rather than standing against the tyrant in our midst.
Because the system is rigged, because the

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Engineering a Race War: Will This Be the American Police State’s Reichstag Fire?

June 10, 2020

“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”— George Santayana
Watch and see: this debate over police brutality and accountability is about to get politicized into an election-year referendum on who should occupy the White House.
Don’t fall for it.
The Deep State, the powers-that-be, want us to turn this into a race war, but this is about so much more than systemic racism. This is the oldest con game in the books, the magician’s sleight of hand that keeps you focused on the shell game in front of you while your wallet is being picked clean by ruffians in your midst.
It’s the Reichstag Fire all over again.
It was February 1933, a month before national elections in Germany, and the Nazis weren’t expected to win.

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This Is Not a Revolution. It’s a Blueprint for Locking Down the Nation

June 3, 2020

“When it gets down to having to use violence, then you are playing the system’s game. The establishment will irritate you—pull your beard, flick your face—to make you fight. Because once they’ve got you violent, then they know how to handle you.”—John Lennon
Brace yourselves.
There is something being concocted in the dens of power, far beyond the public eye, and it doesn’t bode well for the future of this country.
Anytime you have an entire nation so mesmerized by political theater and public spectacle that they are oblivious to all else, you’d better beware.
Anytime you have a government that operates in the shadows, speaks in a language of force, and rules by fiat, you’d better beware.
And anytime you have a government so far

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From 9/11 to COVID-19, It’s Been a Perpetual State of Emergency

May 27, 2020

“The fundamental political question is why do people obey a government. The answer is that they tend to enslave themselves, to let themselves be governed by tyrants. Freedom from servitude comes not from violent action, but from the refusal to serve. Tyrants fall when the people withdraw their support.”—Étienne De La Boétie, The Politics Of Obedience
Don’t pity this year’s crop of graduates because this COVID-19 pandemic caused them to miss out on the antics of their senior year and the pomp and circumstance of graduation.
Pity them because they have spent their entire lives in a state of emergency.
They were born in the wake of the 9/11 attacks; raised without any expectation of privacy in a technologically-driven, mass

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The Slippery Slope to Despotism: Paved with Lockdowns, Raids, and Forced Vaccinations

May 21, 2020

“You have no right not to be vaccinated, you have no right not to wear a mask, you have no right to open up your business… And if you refuse to be vaccinated, the state has the power to literally take you to a doctor’s office and plunge a needle into your arm.”—Alan Dershowitz, Harvard law professor
You have no rights.
That’s the lesson the government wants us to learn from this COVID-19 business.
Well, the government is wrong.
For years now, the powers-that-be—those politicians and bureaucrats who think like tyrants and act like petty dictators regardless of what party they belong to—have attempted to brainwash us into believing that we have no right to think for ourselves, make decisions about our health, protect our homes and

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The Worst Is Yet To Come: Contact Tracing, Immunity Cards, and Mass Testing

May 19, 2020

“The things we were worried would happen are happening.”—Angus Johnston, professor at the City University of New York
No one is safe.
No one is immune.
No one gets spared the anguish, fear and heartache of living under the shadow of an authoritarian police state.
That’s the message being broadcast 24/7 with every new piece of government propaganda, every new law that criminalizes otherwise lawful activity, every new policeman on the beat, every new surveillance camera casting a watchful eye, every sensationalist news story that titillates and distracts, every new prison or detention center built to house troublemakers and other undesirables, every new court ruling that gives government agents a green light to strip and steal and

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Technofascism: Digital Book Burning in a Totalitarian Age

May 6, 2020

“Those who created this country chose freedom. With all of its dangers. And do you know the riskiest part of that choice they made? They actually believed that we could be trusted to make up our own minds in the whirl of differing ideas. That we could be trusted to remain free, even when there were very, very seductive voices—taking advantage of our freedom of speech—who were trying to turn this country into the kind of place where the government could tell you what you can and cannot do.”—Nat Hentoff
We are fast becoming a nation—nay, a world—of book burners.
While on paper, we are technically free to speak—at least according to the U.S. Constitution—in reality, however, we are only as free to speak as the government and its

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Human Lab Rats: the US Government’s Secret History of Grisly Experiments

April 23, 2020

“They were monsters with human faces, in crisp uniforms, marching in lockstep, so banal you don’t recognize them for what they are until it’s too late.” — Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
I have never known any government to put the best interests of its people first, and this COVID-19 pandemic is no exception.
Now this isn’t intended to be a debate over whether COVID-19 is a legitimate health crisis or a manufactured threat. Such crises can—and are—manipulated by governments in order to expand their powers. As such, it is possible for the virus to be both a genuine menace to public health and a menace to freedom.
Yet we can’t afford to overlook the fact that governments the world over, including the U.S.

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COVID-19 and the War on Cash

April 15, 2020

“The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, says to a man: Your money, or your life. And many, if not most, taxes are paid under the compulsion of that threat. The government does not, indeed, waylay a man in a lonely place, spring upon him from the road side, and, holding a pistol to his head, proceed to rifle his pockets. But the robbery is none the less a robbery on that account; and it is far more dastardly and shameful.”—Lysander Spooner, American abolitionist and legal theorist
Cash may well become a casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As these COVID-19 lockdowns drag out, more and more individuals and businesses are going cashless (for convenience and in a so-called effort to avoid spreading coronavirus germs),

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Draconian Lockdown Powers: It’s a Slippery Slope From Handwashing to House Arrest

April 4, 2020

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”—Viktor Frankl
We still have choices.
Just because we’re fighting an unseen enemy in the form of a virus doesn’t mean we have to relinquish every shred of our humanity, our common sense, or our freedoms to a nanny state that thinks it can do a better job of keeping us safe.
Whatever we give up willingly now—whether it’s basic human decency, the ability to manage our private affairs, the right to have a say in how the government navigates this crisis, or the few rights still left to us that haven’t been disemboweled in recent years by a power-hungry police state—we

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The Attack on Civil Liberties in the Age of COVID-19

April 3, 2020

You can always count on the government to take advantage of a crisis, legitimate or manufactured.
This coronavirus pandemic is no exception.
Not only are the federal and state governments unraveling the constitutional fabric of the nation with lockdown mandates that are sending the economy into a tailspin and wreaking havoc with our liberties, but they are also rendering the citizenry fully dependent on the government for financial handouts, medical intervention, protection and sustenance.
Unless we find some way to rein in the government’s power grabs, the fall-out will be epic.
Everything I have warned about for years—government overreach, invasive surveillance, martial law, abuse of powers, militarized police, weaponized

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Suspending the Constitution: the Police State Uses Crises To Expand Its Lockdown Powers

March 26, 2020

“That was when they suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary. There wasn’t even any rioting in the streets. People stayed home at night, watching television, looking for some direction. There wasn’t even an enemy you could put your finger on.”― Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
You can always count on the government to take advantage of a crisis, legitimate or manufactured.
This coronavirus pandemic is no exception.
Not only are the federal and state governments unraveling the constitutional fabric of the nation with lockdown mandates that are sending the economy into a tailspin and wreaking havoc with our liberties, but they are also rendering the citizenry fully dependent on the government for financial

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Detect, Deter, and Annihilate: How the Police State Will Deal With a Coronavirus Outbreak

March 17, 2020

“Fear is a primitive impulse, brainless as hunger, and because the aim of horror fiction is the production of the deepest kinds of fears, the genre tends to reinforce some remarkably uncivilized ideas about self-protection. In the current crop of zombie stories, the prevailing value for the beleaguered survivors is a sort of siege mentality, a vigilance so constant and unremitting that it’s indistinguishable from the purest paranoia.”— Terrence Rafferty, New York Times
What do zombies have to do with the U.S. government’s plans for dealing with a coronavirus outbreak?
Read on, and I’ll tell you.
The zombie narrative was popularized by the hit television series The Walking Dead, in which a small group of Americans attempt to

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This Is a Test: How Will the Constitution Fare During a Nationwide Lockdown?

March 11, 2020

“It takes a remarkable force to keep nearly a million people quietly indoors for an entire day, home from work and school, from neighborhood errands and out-of-town travel. It takes a remarkable force to keep businesses closed and cars off the road, to keep playgrounds empty and porches unused across a densely populated place 125 square miles in size. This happened … not because armed officers went door-to-door, or imposed a curfew, or threatened martial law. All around the region, for 13 hours, people locked up their businesses and ‘sheltered in place’ out of a kind of collective will. The force that kept them there wasn’t external – there was virtually no active enforcement across the city of the governor’s plea that people

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Coronavirus vs. the Mass Surveillance State: Which Poses the Greater Threat?

March 5, 2020

“If, as it seems, we are in the process of becoming a totalitarian society in which the state apparatus is all-powerful, the ethics most important for the survival of the true, free, human individual would be: cheat, lie, evade, fake it, be elsewhere, forge documents, build improved electronic gadgets in your garage that’ll outwit the gadgets used by the authorities.”—Philip K. Dick
Emboldened by the citizenry’s inattention and willingness to tolerate its abuses, the government has weaponized one national crisis after another in order to expands its powers.
The war on terror, the war on drugs, the war on illegal immigration, asset forfeiture schemes, road safety schemes, school safety schemes, eminent domain: all of these

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The Looming Financial Nightmare: So Much for Living the American Dream

February 27, 2020

“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.” ― Frédéric Bastiat, French economist
Let’s talk numbers, shall we?
The national debt (the amount the federal government has borrowed over the years and must pay back) is $23 trillion and growing.
The amount this country owes is now greater than its gross national product (all the products and services produced in one year by labor and property supplied by the citizens). We’re paying more than $270 billion just in interest on that public debt annually. And the top two foreign countries who “own” our debt are China and Japan.
The national

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Compliance 101: Gun-Toting Cops Endanger Students and Turn the Schools into Prisons.

February 19, 2020

“Every day in communities across the United States, children and adolescents spend the majority of their waking hours in schools that have increasingly come to resemble places of detention more than places of learning.”—Investigative journalist Annette Fuentes
Just when you thought the government couldn’t get any more tone-deaf about civil liberties and the growing need to protect “we the people” against an overreaching, overbearing police state, the Trump Administration ushers in even more strident zero tolerance policies that treat children like suspects and criminals, greater numbers of school cops, and all the trappings of a prison complex (unsurmountable fences, entrapment areas, no windows or trees, etc.).
The fallout has

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