Monday, May 08, 2006

snooping cops

Cops like to spy on groups they think are dangerous, and since 9/11 that tendency has been reinforced. Groups they are watching? Vegans. Animal-rights activists. Antiwar protesters. Union organizers. People surfing the web at the library. Police "intelligence" units use money from the Department of Homeland Security not just to watch out for would-be jihadist mass murderers, but for all these other groups -- none of whom have been involved in major terrorist acts.

Absurdities: in Texas,
in 2004 investigators identified 2,052 potential threat elements. One top veteran of the FBI's counterterrorism force calls the Texas number "absurd." Included among the threats cited by the states, sources say, are biker gangs, militia groups, and "save the whales" environmentalists.
Threats???? The real threat is the use of cops to watch to see whether the district attorney's office is trailing an elected official suspected of crimes. The real threat is infiltrating legal, peaceful anti-war movements, or intimidating union organizers. The real threat is the marriage of an officially-sanctioned paranoid mindset plus big budgets and computer power linking official and private records to indulge in fishing expeditions to snare people who are NOT terrorist threats.