You just might be a terrorist
It is no longer a secret that the US government is building a gargantuan data base on every American citizen with a record of everything each American citizen does electronically and/or over the Internet. Facebook, Twitter, credit/debit card transactions, cell phone calls, even scanning in photos of each of use for face recognition programs — you name it — it is being collected and stored.
Think it's not having an effect? Think again. At the recent Tulip Fest in Albany, I helped to staff the booth for the Upper Hudson Peace Action group (I am on the steering committee). We had a petition asking for our elected officials to reduce the amount of money in the federal budget for the Pentagon and instead use the funds for needs in the areas of education, health care and housing. Radical stuff. There were several people who agreed with the petition but were afraid to sign it for fear of ending up on a government list.
There are a host of problems with this data collection, one of them being the problem of that the federal government defining activism (going to rallies, wear buttons, letter to the editor, blogs, disagreeing with the government, etc) as signs of a potential domestic terrorist.
About a year or so after 9/11 the New York State Police gave a presentation at my Rotary club on their program of citizen surveillance — where citizens report what they think is suspicious activity by other citizens to the police. Let me set the stage here: This a group that includes a large number of PhD rocket scientists, engineers, etc. Many is the time I have gone to bed wishing I was half as smart as many of them. I was the only one up to the question of human rights and what happened in Nazi Germany when they instituted a similar program. I inquired: “What were the safeguards?” The troopers stumbled over their answers; it being obvious that this had not been considered. (The next day one of the PhD rocket scientists in the club sent me an email telling me how proud he was of me for asking that question and bringing up the issue. I was very touched by his gesture — I thought I was going to get thrown out of the club.)
All of this has made me think of Jeff Forworthy and his “You just might be a redneck” shtick.
—Do you disagree with the government? You just might be a terrorist.
—Do you speak out against government policies? You just might be a terrorist.
—Do you organize, promote and/or go to events to advocate for changes in government policies? You just might be a terrorist.
Who knew that advocating nonviolence and working for peace could make me so dangerous?
Here's a handy chart from the group People Against the NDAA (PANDAA) to help you figure out if you're a terrorist or not. I qualify under 16 of the 17.
PANDAA is a great organization that was started by an early 20-something, Dan Johnson, who looked at the provisions of the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) that allow for the indefinite detention of American citizens without charge based on the suspicion that they might be a terrorist, realized the danger all citizen are in, and thought he ought to do something to stop it. So he did and he has.
His group has been instrumental in helping citizens to get cities to pass legislation and resolutions saying that they will not cooperate with these provisions of the NDAA.
Albany was one of them, having passed such a resolution last year.
PANDAA has organized a national tour to help US citizens take back the US Constitution and will be in Albany this Saturday, June 7 at the Washington Avenue Armory at 3:30 Tickets are $25 in advance and $35 at the door. It will be money well spent.
In the meantime, I am anxiously awaiting the publication of the list of American citizens the government has been spying on. Edward Snowden gave it to reporter Glen Greenwald who has promised to publish it within the next couple of weeks, I understand. I will be looking for my name and if I am not on said list, I guess I will have to redouble my efforts to be a good citizen activist — or what the government calls a potential terrorist.