L.A. Times: Are You a Suspected Terrorist?

The Los Angeles Times ran my op-ed today on the array of wacko definitions of suspected terrorists that the Bush administration has devised since 9/11.   Here are some outtakes of the piece:
PRESIDENT BUSH and Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales insist that the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping of American citizens is a necessary “terrorist surveillance program.” And polls show that most Americans support permitting the government to tap the phone calls and e-mails of those considered “suspicious.”

But what exactly does that mean? A close look suggests that the feds’ definition of a “suspected terrorist” may not meet the laugh test.

The Department of Homeland Security in May 2003 urged 18,000 local and state police departments to treat critics of the war on terror as potential terrorists, according to a confidential DHS memo made public in 2004. Suicide bombers, the feds told local lawmen, could be detected by such traits as a “pale face from recent shaving of beard”; they “may appear to be in a ‘trance’ “; their eyes may “appear to be focused and vigilant”; and their clothing may either be “out of sync with the weather” or just “loose.”…

When Americans hear Bush say “terrorism surveillance program,” they should recognize that the crosshairs may very well be on them. The more expansive and arbitrary the definition of “suspected terrorist,” the more of our rights the feds can violate. Invoking the word “terrorism” must not raze all limits on the government’s power to target citizens who pose no threat to public safety.


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One Response to L.A. Times: Are You a Suspected Terrorist?

  1. Steve February 17, 2006 at 6:50 am #

    No big deal….just don’t say anything against the program and you dont have to worry. Thats what freedom is all about!