Friday, November 27, 2015

Obama's police state

Obama's police state


It's not just failing to close down Gitmo and perpetuating what is now the Obama gulag. There's also been no effort from the government -- nor will there be -- to combat the oversized and overreaching police state that was created in the wake of 9/11 and has now gone well beyond anything resembling a "war on terrorism." Some of these travesties are covered in a long and very good investigative piece in the Washington Post. Perhaps most alarming is that typical tourist activities like snapping photos of a scenic harbor can now land you in a government data base of suspicious persons, where you could remain for years:

State intelligence analysts and FBI investigators use the reports to determine whether a person is buying fertilizer to make a bomb or to plant tomatoes; whether she is plotting to poison a city's drinking water or studying for a metallurgy test; whether, as happened on a Sunday morning in late September, the man snapping a picture of a ferry in the Newport Beach harbor in Southern California simply liked the way it looked or was plotting to blow it up.

Suspicious Activity Report N03821 says a local law enforcement officer observed "a suspicious subject . . . taking photographs of the Orange County Sheriff Department Fire Boat and the Balboa Ferry with a cellular phone camera." The confidential report, marked "For Official Use Only," noted that the subject next made a phone call, walked to his car and returned five minutes later to take more pictures. He was then met by another person, both of whom stood and "observed the boat traffic in the harbor." Next another adult with two small children joined them, and then they all boarded the ferry and crossed the channel.

All of this information was forwarded to the Los Angeles fusion center for further investigation after the local officer ran information about the vehicle and its owner through several crime databases and found nothing.

The article also looks in-depth at anti-terrorism activities, typically funded with federal grants, that have strayed far from the original purpose. The good news is that can't happen in Pennsylvania -- oh wait, it already did:

And in Pennsylvania this year, a local contractor hired to write intelligence bulletins filled them with information about lawful meetings as varied as Pennsylvania Tea Party Patriots Coalition gatherings, antiwar protests and an event at which environmental activists dressed up as Santa Claus and handed out coal-filled stockings.

I call this Obama's police state because this is another situation that the current administration inherited -- like Gitmo, the war in Afghanistan, and the Bush tax cuts -- and rather than combat has chosen to continue and usually expand -- thus assuming ownership. There's no reason why the feds and local law-enforcement can't sit down and figure out which of these programs actually help combat terrorism and which are taxpayer boondoggles with the most unfortunate side effects of spying on law abiding Americans -- and then end the most un-American activities. No reason except the one that prevents Obama and the Democrats from tackling a lot of major problems: Fear.

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Will Bunch
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