Government Blurs the Lines Between Bad Guys and Average Americans
Preface: Whether you believe this is a conspiracy by the government – or just over-reaction, incompetence or cronyism – the end result is idiotic … and counter-productive.
Former NSA boss Michael Hayden compared privacy advocates to terrorists:
“If and when our government grabs Edward Snowden, and brings him back here to the United States for trial, what does this group do?” said retired air force general Michael Hayden, who from 1999 to 2009 ran the NSA and then the CIA, referring to “nihilists, anarchists, activists, Lulzsec, Anonymous, twentysomethings who haven’t talked to the opposite sex in five or six years”.
“They may want to come after the US government, but frankly, you know, the dot-mil stuff is about the hardest target in the United States,” Hayden said, using a shorthand for US military networks. “So if they can’t create great harm to dot-mil, who are they going after? Who for them are the World Trade Centers? The World Trade Centers, as they were for al-Qaida.”
Hayden provided his speculation during a speech on cybersecurity to a Washington group, the Bipartisan Policy Center, in which he confessed to being deliberately provocative.
Similarly, Slate reported last year:
If you’ve ever cared about privacy while using the Internet in public, you might be a terrorist. At least that’s the message from the FBI and Justice Department’s Communities Against Terrorism initiative. The project created flyers to help employees at several types of businesses—including military surplus stores, financial institutions, and even tattoo shops—recognize “warning signs” of terrorism or extremism. An admirable goal, perhaps, but the execution is flawed—particularly for the flyers intended to help suss out terrorists using Internet cafes.
The flyers haven’t been publicly available online, but Public Intelligence, a project promoting the right to access information, collected 25 documents that it found elsewhere on the Web. As Public Intelligence puts it, “Do you like online privacy? You may be a terrorist.”
Complaining about the taste of your tap water could also get you labeled as a potential terrorist.
Having “strange odors” or “bright colored stains on clothes” (what if you eat mustard or ketchup?) could get you labeled as a potential terrorist.
Complaining about U.S. drone assassinations could get you labeled a terrorist.
So could expressing fears of big brother or of economic collapse … or otherwise believing that we’re in a crisis. (Irony alert: if you’re afraid of the government, the government might go after you?)
Indeed, any American could be labeled as a potential terrorist by our government on a whim.
For example, the following actions may get an American citizen living on U.S. soil labeled as a “suspected terrorist” today:
And holding the following beliefs may also be considered grounds for suspected terrorism:
In other words, the “terrorism” label has become so ridiculously broad as to lose all meaning … and some government officials are simply using it to harass anyone they wish to punish.