Saturday, January 29, 2005

The Homeland Security State

Nick Turse in TomDispatch:
Since ancient Rome, imperial republics have invariably felt a tension between cherished republican practices at home and distinctly unrepublican ones abroad; or put another way, if imperial practices spread far enough beyond the republic's borders and gain enough traction out there in the imperium, sooner or later they also make the reverse journey home, and then you have a crisis in -- or simply the destruction of -- the republic itself. The urge of the Bush administration to bring versions of the methods it's applying abroad back home is already palpable; the urge to free the President, as "commander-in-chief" in the "war on terror," from all the old fetters, those boring, restraining checks and balances, those inconvenient liberties won by Americans -- so constraining, so troublesome to deal with -- is equally palpable.

Long , long article about the encroachment into all our lives, and then this jewel:
Strange as it may seem, the Air Force has also gotten into the local surveillance act as well with an "Eagle Eyes" anti-terrorism initiative which "enlists" average citizens in the "war on terror." The Eagle Eyes' website tells viewers: "You and your family are encouraged to learn the categories of suspicious behavior" and it exhorts the public to drop a dime to "a network of local, 24-hour phone numbers… whenever a suspicious activity is observed." Just what, then, constitutes "suspicious activity"? Well, among activities worth alerting the flying eagles to, there's the use of cameras (either still or video), note taking of any sort, making annotations on maps, or using binoculars (birdwatchers beware!). And what other patterns of behavior does the Air Force think should send you running to the phone? A surefire indicator of terrorists afoot: "Suspicious persons out of place…. People who don't seem to belong in the workplace, neighborhood, business establishment, or anywhere else." Just ponder that one for a moment -- and, if you ever get lost, be afraid, very afraid…

While the Air Force does grudgingly admit that "this category is hard to define," it offers a classic you-know-it-when-you-see-it definition for calling your local eagle: "The point is that people know what looks right and what doesn't look right in their neighborhoods, office spaces, commutes [sic], etc, and if a person just doesn't seem like he or she belongs…" An… ahem… urban looking youth* in a suburban white community? Call it in! A crusty punk near Wall Street? Drop a dime! A woman near the White House wearing an anti-war t-shirt. Well, that's an out-of-category no-brainer!

*PC Doublespeak for "nigger".
And, in fact, much of this has already begun to come true. After all, "suspicious persons out of place" now do get arrested in the new Homeland Security State for such offenses as wearing anti-Bush t-shirts, carrying anti-Bush signs or just heckling the president. Today, even displaying an anti-Bush sticker is, in the words of the Secret Service, apparently "borderline terrorism." Holding a sign that reads, "This war is Bushit," warrants a citation from the cops and, as an eleven year old boy found out, the sheriff might come calling on you if you utter "anti-American" statements -- while parents may be questioned by law enforcement officials to ascertain if they're teaching "anti-American values" at home.

I've been going on in the past few days about a certain "Old European" trend in this country, like from Nazi Germany and East Germany. This "suspicious persons out of place" deal is designed to cow us into becoming the Ideal Citizen: Go to work, go home, consume in mass quantities, pay your taxes, don't go where you're not "supposed" to and shut the fuck up. Also, snitching people off just because you don't like them is a time-honored tradition. We will be a nation of Rat Bastids, all for "security", of course, so that's OK.

Brush up on the "elements of probable cause". Mere suspicion does not constitute probable cause. Not quite yet, but we're getting there.

As far as stifling dissent, we need more dissent. We need Vietnam-era dissent, constant and loud. I think the upcoming draft will actually help this. When they start drafting the average young American spoiled brat, you won't need a TV to hear the outcry, but that's a whole 'nother subject. We need so much dissent that if they lock every dissenter up, the country will come to a screeching halt. Hopefully in time to keep Bush from driving this country off a cliff.

The article is Part 1 of who knows how many. Go read. Stay tuned.

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