You, you terrorist, you!

I wrote about fusion centers a few weeks ago. These state-run agencies funded by Homeland Security have been busy bees. You see, ever since 9/11 it has been necessary to treat American citizens like criminal suspects. The attacks of 9/11 justify this utter invasion of privacy and the fact that it's done in secret.

Intelligence centers run by states across the country have access to personal information about millions of Americans, including unlisted cellphone numbers, insurance claims, driver's license photographs and credit reports, according to a document obtained by The Washington Post.

One center also has access to top-secret data systems at the CIA, the document shows, though it's not clear what information those systems contain.

Dozens of the organizations known as fusion centers were created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to identify potential threats and improve the way information is shared. The centers use law enforcement analysts and sophisticated computer systems to compile, or fuse, disparate tips and clues and pass along the refined information to other agencies. They are expected to play important roles in national information-sharing networks that link local, state and federal authorities and enable them to automatically sift their storehouses of records for patterns and clues.

Though officials have publicly discussed the fusion centers' importance to national security, they have generally declined to elaborate on the centers' activities. But a document that lists resources used by the fusion centers shows how a dozen of the organizations in the northeastern United States rely far more on access to commercial and government databases than had previously been disclosed.

Those details have come to light at a time of debate about domestic intelligence efforts, including eavesdropping and data-aggregation programs at the National Security Agency, and whether the government has enough protections in place to prevent abuses.

The list of information resources was part of a survey conducted last year, officials familiar with the effort said. It shows that, like most police agencies, the fusion centers have subscriptions to private information-broker services that keep records about Americans' locations, financial holdings, associates, relatives, firearms licenses and the like.

They must know everything there is to know about us citizens. What on God's green earth is to protect any one of us from somebody in authority abusing us by having access to all our personal information? Well, acutally...nothing! To borrow a phrase from the great neocon asshole, Doug Feith, "That's the point." But don't worry! We have safeguards.

Police officials said fusion center analysts are trained to use the information responsibly, legally and only on authorized criminal and counterterrorism cases. They stressed the importance of secret and public data in rooting out obscure threats.

"There is never ever enough information when it comes to terrorism" said Maj. Steven G. O'Donnell, deputy superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police. "That's what post-9/11 is about."

Well...since George Bush has given himself the authority to declare anybody an unlawful enemy combatant, anytime he just feels like it, can one see how any person can easily get embroiled in an 'authorized criminal and counterterrorism' case? All you have to do is say the wrong thing or piss of the wrong official.

George W. Bush has repeatedly warned, "Either you're with us or you stand with the terrorists." Now he has gotten through legislation that allows him to back it up. On Thursday, September 28, 2006, in a hastily drawn decision that will likely live in infamy, the Senate nodded assent to the Military Commissions Act (PDF).

According to this Act, an "unlawful enemy combatant" is to be defined as:

"an individual engaged in hostilities against the United States who is not a lawful enemy combatant."
This basically means that if a person is not a soldier in the service of a foreign government, but is nevertheless engaging in "hostilities" against the United States, then this person is an unlawful enemy combatant. Notice that this definition does not require that such a person be an "alien," which accordingly leaves open the possibility that this designation could also be applied to an American citizen.
So, what do they mean by 'hostilities'? Well, sorry but they forgot to define that.
Nor is there anywhere in the act where the term "hostilities" has itself been defined. For example, is an anti-war activist an unlawful enemy combatant? What about an American journalist who publishes leaked information damaging to the Bush administration? What about an anti-Bush blogger? In short, the definition is broad (and vague) enough to include any American citizen who is acting in a way the President deems "hostile" to the United States. As such, it is difficult to imagine a single piece of legislation with greater potential to undermine freedom and democracy in America.
Therefore, the supposed safeguard in place (trained analysts working on authorized cases only) is absolutely meaningless. What post-9/11 is really about is this: dismantling our democracy and our civil rights, impoverishing the middle class, and controlling the world's resources through force and theft. In retrospect, 9/11 has been the most tremendous boon for greedy corporations, fascists, authoritarians and various police-state voyeurs and aficionados. It's like a dream come true for them.

And you, Citizen, you better watch your step and your mouth, and you had better show obsequious gratitude to all people in positions of authority, or else they will fuck with you and show you who's the boss. That's right. You be a Good American and everything will work out just fine for you and your family. That's how we do it here now, understand?

Good. Now get back to work.

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