Thursday, July 20, 2006

Expanding the fascist state.

I've come across something fairly disturbing here: apparently, a group of Californian students who protested against military recruiters on campus wound up in a terror database, due to the "vigilance" of a Department of Homeland Security official. (Incidentally, am I the only one who wants to call that particular agency "DepHomSec"?)Here's a nice little juxtaposition:
[Dennis O'Conner, spokesman for the Federal Protective Service]said he did not know how the information ended up in the terror database.

"If we're not aware of what's going on around us, we can't do our job effectively," he said. "Even if a protest is going to be peaceful, we have to be aware of it."
So, he doesn't know how it got on that particular list, when it really should've wound up on some entirely different list. Very reassuring. Note how Mr. O'Conner dodges the main point: namely, why is it the federal government's business to know who's protesting what where? Local government I can see -- they need to keep roads open, provide crowd control, etc. Federal government, maybe, insofar as the protests take place on federally-controlled land. But these were student protests on UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz campuses. The University of California is a state-run school, not a federally-run school (if there even is such a thing -- one of the military academies, maybe?). So, it really isn't the federal government's business to know what these student groups are up to. And yet, somehow, they think they should. Is the Bush administration really so paranoid that they'll collect any information they can get their hands on, just on the off-chance that it might be vaguely useful for something they're actually supposed to be dealing with?

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