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Book review: 'Police State USA' by Cheryl K. Chumley

Book examines how post-9/11 measures to ensure security have resulted in declines in personal liberty and civil rights.
By Jim Basile, For The Oklahoman Modified: August 15, 2014 at 6:10 pm •  Published: August 17, 2014

“Police State USA: How Orwell’s Nightmare Is Becoming Our Reality” by Cheryl K. Chumley (WND Books, 240 pages, in stores)

Imagine this: Police want to use your house for a neighborhood stakeout. You refuse, so they arrest you for obstruction and take over your house anyway. Or late at night, police are pursuing a suspect through your neighborhood when they see a house — yours — with an open window. They’ve lost the suspect, so they crawl in through your window, search your house and then handcuff and interrogate you.

Imagine your son’s harmless sidewalk lemonade stand being shut down because he doesn’t have a $50 permit. Or perhaps your daughter takes a bag lunch to school but at lunchtime is forced to accept and eat a school lunch because the school says it is “healthier” than the lunch you packed for her.

Imagine taking a stroll through your neighborhood, blissfully unaware that the streetlights overhead could be recording your every move — and even your conversations.

Imagine being pulled over by a police officer for a minor traffic violation, and as he conducts his duties, he sees a wad of cash on your passenger seat and immediately jumps to the conclusion that you are either a drug dealer or involved in money laundering. Your car, cash and belongings are confiscated and you end up in jail — without being charged with anything. When you’re released you spend months trying to get back what rightfully belongs to you.

Imagine opening your front door and stepping into the potential for these and similar situations on a daily basis. But perhaps imagination is not necessary. Author Cheryl K. Chumley says this is the current state of America.

Although not an academic, in-depth analysis, “Police State USA” is a concise and informative overview of many issues intruding upon the concept of privacy in America (the situations above are all discussed in the book), and the underlying question being asked is, “How much is too much?”

The book could be considered a warning about the consequences of living in a time when privacy has been increasingly devalued. Or it could be seen as an overly alarmist generalization from relatively rare specifics. The reader’s personal politics likely will determine whether the book is seen as useful or irrelevant.

It certainly cannot be called pointless, though, as the author drives home her point on every page. Each chapter is devoted to a hot button topic that ranges from daily activities like shopping all the way up to presidential policies that affect not only us but the rest of the world, as well.

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