Monday, July 18, 2005

The ghost of Tricky Dick

Government paranoia didn't pass away with Nixon's resignation nor with the end of J.Edgar Hoover's reign of terror at the F.B.I. Not only are legislators pushing to extend the PATRIOT ACT, but it turns out that we're back to keeping tabs on domestic organizations that pester the government, even tracking their legitimate First Amendment activities:
The FBI has thousands of pages of records in its files relating to the monitoring of civil rights, environmental and similar advocacy groups, the Justice Department acknowledges. The organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union and Greenpeace, are suing for the release of the documents.
. . .
"This administration has a history of using its powers against its peaceful critics. If, in fact, the FBI has been deployed to help in that effort, that would be quite shocking," [Greenpeace director] Passacantando said.
Most disturbing, this surveillance is being carried out using resources intended for anti-terrorism work, which could surely be put to better use than tracking attendance at peaceful antiwar rallies. As Medley says,
Not only is it deeply offensive from a Constitutional and civil liberties perspective, but it is deeply offensive from a safety and security perspective as well. These crack counterterrorism units could be focused on actual terrorists - you know, Osama bin Forgotten? Remember him? Or on developing actual security strategies for public transportation and not just security theatre.
But this Administration has made clear that loyalty is a far greater concern to them than security, so nobody should really be surprised...

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