The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Friday, July 21, 2006

How to be a terrorism foe... or at least look like one

The Mysterious Cipher sent me an op-ed from the Boston Globe that takes a little time from this week of horrific international news to focus on some horrific domestic news. It still freaks me out to think that just a couple of years ago I would've scoffed at anyone who used the term 'police state' in connection with the United States, much less used it myself. Actually, what freaks me out is how readily such terms are used these days, and by people who are anything but radical.

The administration has suffered some setbacks recently thanks to responsible judges, but as the author of this piece reminds us, even the policies that aren't patently illegal suffer from the same overzealous incompetence that characterizes the entire Bush era.

In the six weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, the US government rounded up 1,200 people as suspected terrorists, or their supporters. All that was necessary for an Arab illegal immigrant to be considered a suspected terrorist was to encounter FBI agents in New York or New Jersey. None of the detainees proved to have links to the attacks. (. . .)

Hundreds of disruptions have occurred at American airports since Sept. 11 after security breaches set off fears of terror attacks. The subsequent lockdowns boosted local television news ratings. Though no terrorists have been apprehended, thousands of Americans have been arrested at airports for violating Transportation Security Administration regulations or other rules.

Since 2001, federal officials have carried out wave after wave of arrests and crackdowns on alleged terrorist financing. But none of those apprehended in the United States have been linked to Al Qaeda. And the vast majority have been arrested merely for carrying more than $10,000 out of the country without filling out a government form. Because the $10,000 rule was enacted as part of the Patriot Act, federal officials portrayed all the arrests as victories over terrorism. (. . .)

Thousands of Americans have had their phones tapped without a warrant, but none has been charged with supporting or conspiring with Al Qaeda.

In spite of all this, the author asserts (undoubtedly correctly) that the next step is for Congressional Republicans to make an end run around the Hamdan decision, allowing the White House to set up kangaroo courts and make further bogus claims about their successes in fighting terror-- and using civil rights abuses as a platform for flogging Democrats.