September 11, 2011
The weekend of the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, has caused many to reflect on the event itself, as well as the decade that we have experienced since. There have indeed been many casualties to recall. One of the saddest casualties is the First Amendment to the nation’s founding document; it is effectively dead in 33 states according to a ACLU compilation of incident reports across America. A targeted program of surveillance and harassment has become fully centered on the population itself.
This was first made evident in the 2009 MIAC report, which cited supporters of prominent political candidates like Ron Paul, as well as an assortment of other activists who support peace, freedom and liberty, as potential threats. Law enforcement has been directed to treat such “dangers” with suspicion and extreme caution.
The ACLU has compiled an interactive map of those states which have logged incidents of police harassment and surveillance of Americans engaging in other apparently un-American activities, namely: peaceful protest, photographing public servants while on duty, questioning American leadership and policy, recording one’s surroundings while in public, and having certain religious or political affiliations that could apparently be tied to extremism.
Here are just a few examples among dozens of incident reports cited by the ACLU that show the range of First Amendment violations.
Maine — FBI Intercepts and Stores E-mails Planning Peaceful Protests.
The FBI intercepted and stored e-mail communications pertaining to protests at the Brunswick Naval Air Show and against the christening of an Arleigh Burke Class destroyer organized by Veterans for Peace and co-sponsored by Pax Christi Maine, PeaceWorks, WILPF, Peace Action Maine, Smilin’Trees Disarmament Farm, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, Maine Coalition for Peace & Justice, Island Peace & Justice, Winthrop Area People for Peace, and Waldo County Peace & Justice
New York — Police Detain Muslim-American Journalism Student for Taking Photos for a Class Assignment.
Mariam Jukaku, a 24-year old Muslim-American journalism student at Syracuse University, was stopped by Veterans Affairs police in New York for taking photographs of flags in front of a VA building as part of a class assignment. After taking her into an office for interrogation and taking her driver’s license, the police deleted the photographs from her digital camera before releasing her.
North Carolina — Pentagon Surveils Veteran.
Debbie Clark, who was honorably discharged from the US army after eight years of active duty and who is married to an active duty military man, found herself under Pentagon surveillance when she participated in a protest at Fort Bragg in March 2005 led by veterans and military families.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
Texas — Fusion Center Describes Conspiracy to Spread Tolerance.
In February 2009, a DHS-supported North Central Texas Fusion System intelligence bulletin described a purported conspiracy between Muslim civil rights organizations, lobbying groups, the anti-war movement, a former U.S. Congresswoman, the U.S. Treasury Department, and hip hop bands to spread tolerance in the U.S. The bulletin was reportedly distributed to over 100 different agencies.
Colorado — FBI JTTF Monitors American Indian Movement, Peace Groups, and Environmental Groups.
In August 2005, the ACLU obtained the documents in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request containing information on the Colorado American Indian Movement and the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center. The files show that JTTF agents opened “domestic terrorism” investigations after they read notices on web sites announcing an antiwar protest in Colorado Springs in 2003 and a protest against Columbus Day in Denver in 2002.
Arizona Maricopa County Sheriff Department Surveils Political Enemies.
An internal report accuses the Maricopa County’s Chief Deputy Sheriff of using Maricopa’s anti-corruption unit to conduct politically motivated investigations and of surveiling Maricopa County Sheriff Arpaio’s political rivals.
California — Military Monitors Campus Anti-Recruiting Protests. Two Department of Defense (DOD) Threat and Local Observation Notices (TALON) from April 2005 describe anti-recruiting protests by students at the University of California campuses of Berkeley and Santa Cruz. The source for both TALON reports, a “special agent of the federal protective service, U.S. Department of Homeland Security,” relayed protest information he received through email alerts.
Undercover Campus and County Sheriffs Attend Cal State Fresno Lecture on Veganism. On November 10, 2004, the California State Fresno student group Campus Peace and Civil Liberties Coalition (CPCLC) hosted an on-campus lecture by a speaker formerly employed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The lecturer addressed approximately 60 people about the benefits of a vegan diet. Six of those 60 attendees were undercover police officers—three from the county sheriff’s department and three from the campus police department.
The scope of the incidents compiled on the ACLU map reflects a new America; one where the Bill of Rights and Constitution have been re-defined as the most serious threat, rather than the greater threat that exists from promoting an atmosphere of hysteria and fear that is inevitably leading to the eradication of protections afforded by those very documents.
First, do you believe that it is only 33 states? Do you believe that the principles of freedom outlined in the Bill of Rights and Constitution make America less safe in The Age of Terror? Are these incident reports examples of your tax dollars well-spent? Please use the comment section below to give us your thoughts, as well as other incidents that exemplify the loss of our Constitutional rights.