Monday, May 08, 2006


US Snooze Stirs From its Nap

U.S.News & World Reports [sic] is one of those magazines that I wouldn't buy if the subscription came with a free Lexus. I still haven't got un-offended from the period in which James Fallows pretended to edit it, while permitting his reporters to engage in fratboy pranks in the crusade to rid the country of Clinton/Gore and install someone proper. I guess if I worked for Mort Zuckerman I'd be careful to keep my hands over my eyes and my ears and nose stuffed with rags, too. A piece titled Spies Among Us by David Kaplan very slightly redeems the magazine. So that you don't actually rush out and pay for it, here's the highlights. * Half a billion in federal money has been put into the sort of state/local intelligence operations that historically have been turned against left-of-center activists * Huge, poorly quality-controlled-- and insecure-- databases are being created and shared through various means, including "fusion centers" * 6,000 police have security clearances to see intelligence reports (like, how many police in your town have the training to parse them?) * Police attend protests and (at least in some documented cases) incite violence Egregious examples of the predictable results * In what could be a Spy v. Spy cartoon, police intelligence agents were assigned to determine whether the county executive was being trailed by the DA's office to check into doubtful spending. * The same valiant agents arrested vegans handing out anti-ham pamphlets, because the activists wrote down the license plate of a car used to surveil them and wouldn't hand over their notes without a warrant. * In Maryland, homeland security agents walked into a library to warn patrons that viewing porn is illegal. * Sheriff's deputies falsely claimed to be DHS employees while spying on a Safeway strike in California. * Among potential terrorists are bikers and save-the-whale types. * A Minnesota Republican was classified as a criminal suspect based on a neighbor's complaint of where she parked her car. U.S. News [sic] pulled many punches. But this article is head and shoulders above their usual dandruff.
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