Yep, it’s true…and least in theory.
If a report by Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux outlining governmental guidelines for placing people on a network of terror watch lists has a basis in fact, more than a few Occupy Wall Street faithful may be subject to “Big Brother’s” unwelcome attention.
The location for the “NatGat3” festivity will be Sacramento, CA, from July 31 to August 3. The purpose will be to celebrate Occupy’s third year of existence. The intention is to peacefully protest the many ills of our nation and provide educational workshops to redress these problems.
So far, so good. Where’s the problem?
Rather than posing that question individually to the 19 federal agencies which, secretly, have “profiled” (Isn’t that illegal?) individuals as threats or potential threats to national security, let me simply quote from “The Seven Possible Ways” list that Scahill and Devereaux put together.
This is not an idle exercise on our part. A number of Occupiers just may, in some Orwellian fashion, qualify for this distinction. After all, according to Huffington Post Blogger Nick Wing, out of some 468,749 watch-list nominations submitted to the National Counterterrorism Center, only 1% were rejected. He did note, however, that this grand list of thousands of people was of no apparent value in catching legitimate threats like the Boston Marathon bombers.
Let’s take a look at these government-mandated categories and not cut Occupiers any slack. Let the dots connect where they may. So, with a tip of the hat and thank-you to blogger Wing and researchers Scahill and Devereaux, here are The Seven Ways:
1. Reasonable Suspicion. (Irrefutable evidence or concrete facts not required)
Now, this requires a “nominator.” This is kinda like the Academy Awards I would guess, but not as complimentary. Whoever these people are, whatever their credentials, they are expected to rely on intelligence or information from whatever source and then allowed to infer possible links to “terrorism.”
2. Post something on Facebook or Twitter that raises “reasonable suspicion”
Kinda squishy ground here, even by East German Stasi standards of nosiness.
Department guidelines do dictate that Occupiers (even you and I) are to be forgiven for engaging in “constitutionally protected activities,” providing there is nothing to raise suspicion. Experience appears to show, however, that some posts are more suspicious than others. TeaBaggers can plot against Big Gov, southerners can demand secession and gun owners can wave their AK-47’s around at the local K-Mart, but heaven forbid that a criticism of government policies or Big Biz come from a “lefty” or social activist. Now, that is suspicious!
3. Somebody else could think you’re a potential terror threat
Watchlist guidelines also invite the submission of “walk-in” or “write-in” tidbits about potential candidates for their scrutiny. Remember that jerk you last fought with on FB? What he has to report on you is welcome fodder. And, you know from the start that this guy will be awarded more credibility than will you. After all, YOU are the suspected terrorist. He/She said so.
4. You could be a little terror-ish…again, according to someone
The article continues, “The document explains that you could be put on a suspected-terrorist watch list if you are determined to be a “representative” of a terrorist group even if you have “neither membership in nor association with the organization.”
Don’t make the mistake of “liking” a group on FB that reeks of terrorism. You know, like Quakers, Catholic Workers, Greenpeace and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), all of whom have been under FBI surveillance from time to time. Did I mention Martin Luther King?
5. You could just know someone terrorist-y, maybe
It just got personal, and this is where I might lose relatives and get heavily de-friended throughout Social Media. How so? If I were to be connected in some fashion to a suspected terrorist, the system can allow for my immediate family to be added to the TIDE (Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment) list, even if they may not be under suspicion themselves. (My grandchildren would never forgive me if they are stopped at Disneyland’s door.)
6. You’re in a “category” of people determined to be a threat
It is well documented that Homeland Security found OWS to be deserving of special attention. A Rolling Stone article in 2012 uncovered a DHS report titled: “SPECIAL COVERAGE: Occupy Wall Street.” The directive acknowledged the historically peaceful nature of the movement, but “notes darkly that ‘large scale demonstrations also carry the potential for violence, presenting a significant challenge for law enforcement.’”
In their effort to confirm someone/something to be suspicions, the DHS reportedly scoured OWS-related Twitter feeds to gather proof, “going so far as to provide an interactive map ‘of protests and gatherings nationwide – borrowed, improbably enough, from the lefty blog Daily Kos,’” the RS reporter determined.
What Rolling Stone found to be most ominous, however, came in the final paragraph of the report.
“The growing support for the OWS movement has expanded the protests’ impact and increased the potential for violence. While the peaceful nature of the protests has served so far to mitigate their impact, larger numbers and support from groups such as Anonymous substantially increase the risk for potential incidents and enhance the potential security risk to critical infrastructure (CI).
The continued expansion of these protests also places an increasingly heavy burden on law enforcement and movement organizers to control protesters…”
There it is – “control protestors.”
Where is it called for in the constitution that when people exercise their First Amendment rights to peaceful dissent, who detail in advance a list of their activities and do all that they can to obtain requisite permits, need to be “controlled.”
Our news outlets generally reserve that description for the authorities and police in Russia, or Egypt, or Iran…not in Sacramento, CA.
7. Finally, you could be “unlucky”
With 1.5 million people added to the list over the past several years, mistakes can – and do – happen. Your last name is misspelled. You booked a one-way flight at the last minute and walked on without luggage. Perhaps you were passing by a protest rally and got noticed by an all-seeing eye-in-the-sky.
Whatever the cause, you have no way of learning that you are on a watch list. Or, if you do discover that to be the case, taking your name off of it. This is understandable, in a tortured form of logic. The government cannot tell you that you are on a “secret” list….it’s secret! And, if they take your name off it, they can’t tell you that, either. That would be a secret, too. The Stasi, mentioned earlier, would be proud.
8. You could blog about this stuff (sorry, just had to throw this one in on my own)
I have no way (back to secrets, again) of knowing if my Huffington Post blogger fans are largely comprised of Homeland Security, the NYPD, the FBI or the SPCA. I’m just happy to have fans. But, what if they notice that I – inadvertently and innocently I remind you – fit into any of those seven earlier descriptions?
What if Governor Brown didn’t like my recent blog wondering how welcome the Occupy National Gathering might be in his capital, and he told the gatekeepers at Disney?
Which is why, Occupy National Gathering of 2014, I sadly send regrets for my choosing not being there.
I am certain you will understand. I have grandchildren to protect.