Thursday, January 24, 2008

Enter the Thought Police

Antifascist Calling...

A must-read piece by James Ridgeway and Jean Casella was posted yesterday on the Mother Jones website, Don't Even Think About It.

Updating an in-depth study by investigative journalist Jessica Lee, in her startling November 16, 2007 article published in NY's Indypendent newspaper, Bringing the War on Terrorism Home: Congress Considers How to "Disrupt' Radical Movements in the United States, Ridgeway and Casella deconstruct Congress' capitulation to the Bush regime's repressive "national security" agenda.

In the present political climate, fear sells, and nothing sells better than the specter of "homegrown terrorists" to frighten the kids and send you scurrying for the nearest roll of duct tape. Coming on the heels of an alarmist report released by the New York City Police Department's intelligence division, Radicalization in the West and the Homegrown Threat, the hunt for antiwar leftists allegedly in cahoots with "jihadists" and "Islamofascists" is on.

Ridgeway and Casella inform us,
Both the legislation and the report are presented as reasonable, rational responses to the threat of terrorism from domestic "extremist" groups and are framed not as plans for action but as efforts to "study" and "understand" the roots of homegrown terrorism. Both promote precisely the kind of broad approach--targeting beliefs rather than actions, assuming that "radicalization" leads to violence, defining terms loosely and casting a wide net--that has been used in the past by government authorities to monitor and disrupt legitimate dissent as well as illegal plots.
Like the FBI's infamous COINTELPRO program and the CIA's MHCHAOS to name but two of a panoply of repressive state programs to "neutralize" threats to the status quo, today's "red hunters" seek to criminalize your thoughts even before you've acted upon them. Surfed over to the World Socialist Website or The Electronic Intifada lately? Then you'd better watch out! You might find yourself hauled before the National Commission on the Prevention of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism.

Charged with holding "hearings" across the country The National Commission can conduct broad investigations under its congressional mandate, and question people under oath about their ideological beliefs. Ridgeway and Casella continue,
Wherever it may ultimately lead, the bill seems clearly part of a growing push toward expanding domestic intelligence operations—spying that is aimed not at any Al Qaeda members who may have slipped across the border, but at U.S. citizens and legal residents. The great civil libertarian Frank J. Donner, in his book The Age of Surveillance: The Aims and Methods of America's Political Intelligence System, argued that the true goal of domestic intelligence was not to prevent or punish criminal activity, but to protect existing power structures and suppress dissent. Unlike law enforcement, which deals with illegal actions that have already been committed, domestic intelligence is by nature "future-oriented": It is not looking for criminals, but potential criminals, and it does so by relying on "ideology, not behavior, theory not practice." Anyone who thinks the wrong way could at some point act the wrong way--so they have to be watched.
A bipartisan affair, this onerous legislative effluvium was opposed by only six House members when it passed back in October. When the bill is introduced later this year in the Senate, civil libertarians and other opponents expect it to become law.

Feeling safer?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What happened to all the liberty Bush says we have and need to spread? How would one educate children now? Who's to say which way to think is " right" or " correct" ? How do we know people act on thoughts?

This is an abominable action taken against the citizens of this country by the elected citizens of this country.