The winner of two national book awards, including
a Gold Medal in the prestigious Benjamin Franklin Awards, A Government of
Wolves: The Emerging American Police State paints a chilling portrait of a
nation in the final stages of transformation into a police state, complete with
surveillance cameras, drug-sniffing dogs, SWAT team raids, roadside strip
searches, blood draws at DUI checkpoints, mosquito drones, Tasers, privatized
prisons, GPS tracking devices, zero tolerance policies, overcriminalization,
and free speech zones.
Whether you’re talking about the militarized
police response to riots in Ferguson, Missouri, the city-wide lockdown of
Boston in the wake of the alleged Boston Marathon bombing, Edward Snowden’s revelations
about the NSA’s insidious domestic surveillance campaigns, or laws
criminalizing everything from growing vegetables in your backyard, A
Government of Wolves speaks to this strange new world in which police shoot
first and ask questions later and Americans are treated like criminals and
A widely-respected constitutional attorney and
author, Whitehead charts America’s transition from a democratic society
governed by “we the people” to an environment where the adherence to the law
becomes another tool of oppression. Hailed by those on the left and right of
the political spectrum and at every point in between, for its masterful
chronicling of America’s shift away from the rule of law, the U.S.
Constitution, which historically shielded us from government abuses, A
Government of Wolves reveals the inner workings of an increasingly
pervasive and militaristic surveillance state in which there is nowhere to run
and nowhere to hide from the government’s all-knowing, all-seeing eyes.
As American historian and nationally-syndicated
columnist Nat Hentoff notes in his special introduction to A Government
of Wolves: “We have been through some troubling times before in our
nation’s history. What we have now may be more insidious. Indeed, I believe we are
in a worse state now than ever before in this country. With the surveillance
state closing in on us, we are fighting to keep our country free from our own
Making the case that fiction has now become fact,
A Government of Wolves also shows how sci fi movies such as Minority
Report, 1984, The Matrix, They Live,
and V for Vendetta have pointed the way towards America
becoming a futuristic society in which a passive, uninformed populace gives
rise to an overbearing, out-of-control government. This is the future George
Orwell warned against. This is the present that Whitehead cautions could become
an endless nightmare from which there is no awakening unless we act now.
Hardcover, 288 pages
“It is a mistake to think that early in a fascist shift you see the profile of barbed wire against the sky. In the early days, things look normal on the surface:”
“[T]here is both an intrinsic and instrumental value to privacy. Intrinsically, privacy is precious to the extent that it is a component of a liberty. Part of citizenship in a free society is the expectation that one's personal affairs and physical person are inviolable so long as one remains within the law. A robust concept of freedom includes the freedom from constant and intrusive government surveillance of one's life. From this perspective, Fourth Amendment violations are objectionable for the simple fact that the government is doing something it has no licence to do–that is, invading the privacy of a law-abiding citizen by monitoring her daily activities and laying hands on her person without any evidence of wrongdoing.
Privacy is also instrumental in nature. This aspect of the right highlights the pernicious effects, rather than the inherent illegitimacy, of intrusive, suspicionless surveillance. For example, encroachments on individual privacy undermine democratic institutions by chilling free speech. When citizens–especially those espousing unpopular viewpoints–are aware that the intimate details of their personal lives are pervasively monitored by government, or even that they could be singled out for discriminatory treatment by government officials as a result of their First Amendment expressive activities, they are less likely to freely express their dissident views.”
“[W]hile the use of non-lethal weapons such as tasers and LEDIs may not necessarily reduce the number of civilian casualties, they have been largely accepted as the humane alternative to deadly force because they make the use of force appear far less dramatic and violent than it has in the past.
Contrast, for instance, the image of police officers beating Rodney King with billy clubs as opposed to police officers continually shocking a person with a taser. Both are severe forms of abuse. However, because the act of pushing a button is far less dramatic and visually arresting than swinging a billy club, it can come across as much more humane to the general public. This, of course, draws much less media coverage and, thus, less bad public relations for the police.”
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. Deeply committed to protecting the constitutional freedoms of every American and the integral human rights of all people, The Rutherford Institute has emerged as a prominent leader in the national dialogue on civil liberties and human rights and a formidable champion of the Constitution. Whitehead serves as the Institute’s president and spokesperson.
Widely recognized as one of the nation’s most vocal and involved civil liberties attorneys, Whitehead’s approach to civil liberties issues has earned him numerous accolades and accomplishments, including the Hungarian Medal of Freedom and the 2010 Milner S. Ball Lifetime Achievement Award for “[his] decades of difficult and important work, as well as [his] impeccable integrity in defending civil liberties for all.”
As nationally syndicated columnist Nat Hentoff observed about Whitehead: “John Whitehead is not only one of the nation’s most consistent and persistent civil libertarians. He is also a remarkably perceptive illustrator of our popular culture, its insights and dangers. I often believe that John Whitehead is channeling the principles of James Madison, who would be very proud of him.”
Born in 1946 in Tennessee, John W. Whitehead earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Arkansas in 1969 and a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 1974. He served as an officer in the United States Army from 1969 to 1971. He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.