The Justice Department has proposed a new domestic spying measure that would make it easier for state and local police to collect intelligence about Americans, share the sensitive data with federal agencies and retain it for at least 10 years.
We're talking about local and state police, not some federal agents. And yes, that was "intelligence collecting", spying, not just enforcing the law. And what stringent safeguards, what conditions are in place to protect our real or imagined freedoms?? All the police need is "reasonable suspicion". Ah, yes, that wonderful and accurate cornerstone to prevent abuse: it's up to each officer's own renowned instincts, his "suspicion".
Or, to put it literally now:
law enforcement agencies would be allowed to target groups as well as individuals, and to launch a criminal intelligence investigation based on the suspicion that a target is engaged in terrorism or providing material support to terrorists.
And of course, this suspicion can be transmitted to
a constellation of federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and others in many cases.
Shall we consult our astrologers to know what agencies in the "constellation" will be affected? Does anybody realize how this can taint a person's reputation and life?? The taint of suspicion, especially suspicion of terrorism, can absolutely ruin someone's life. And what about Middle eastern or Muslim Americans? What right-minded police officer wouldn't be suspicious of them?? And what does this do to our democracy - or what's left of it?
Jim McMahon, deputy executive director of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, said the proposed changes "catch up with reality" in that those who investigate crimes such as money laundering, drug trafficking and document fraud are best positioned to detect terrorists. He said the rule maintains the key requirement that police demonstrate a "reasonable suspicion" that a target is involved in a crime before collecting intelligence.
OK, maybe I'm not laundering money or faking documents. But what if I gave to a charity that later on was found to be, unbeknownst to me, contributing to some terrorist group? Will I be held in one of those new prison complexes the GOP has been preparing for just such a need? What if some police officer thought I was acting suspiciously? I know of a guy who was "taken down" by a team from the JTT (joint terrorism task force) and 5 squad cars with his children in the car just because he allegedly said to a grocery checker "Take care on the 4th of July" at a time when July 4 was on a "red" level terror alert (a few years back) and she knew he was from an Arab country. He was detained and questioned for hours until his attorney got him released a few days later. They refused to tell him what he was accused of, btw.
And that was THEN. NOW what level of suspicion and surveillance can they enact? Knowing the genius of police depts. around the country, there's no telling how this thing could play out. But don't worry:
Supporters say the measures simply codify existing counterterrorism practices and policies that are endorsed by lawmakers and independent experts such as the 9/11 Commission. They say the measures preserve civil liberties and are subject to internal oversight.
Ahhh, why didn't I mention that earlier? "Internal oversight" will be our checks and balances. Now doesn't that make you feel better?