What exactly does the term “terror” mean these days, here in the U.S.? Especially to law enforcement, intelligence, security, legislation, administration of justice, executive control and manipulation?
Are they, more or less deliberately, expanding the perceived threat of terror while beclouding its legitimate definition? After all, a terrified population is a manipulable population, suckers for a tyrant who promises to make them safe and keep them strong. Remember the 1930’s? Italy? Germany?
In taking the oath of office, the president swears to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. But in referring to what they had sworn to, both George Bush and Barack Obama have talked only about “protecting the American people.” On the pretense of pursuing the impossible goal of “keeping the American people safe” both men have, ironically, violated their actual oath. They have systematically dismantled many of our most important Constitutional freedoms.
How far might this dangerous change in perspective, reflected in the seemingly innocuous change in phrasing, actually take us? Glad you asked! How’s this for an ironically symbolic example? Check this post from AlterNet. (Remember, the purpose of the ACLU is to protect Constitutional rights.)
ACLU’s Holiday Message Labeled ‘Suspicious Activity’ By Tennessee Counter-Terrorism Officials
Tennessee’s state counter-terrorism officials at the Tennessee Fusion Center maintain an open-source internet map which identifies “terrorism events and other suspicious activity.” The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Tennessee found its way briefly onto the map earlier this month, after the civil rights group penned a letter to school superintendents encouraging “schools to be supportive of all religious beliefs during the holiday season.” The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports what happened next:
The Fusion Center’s Internet map is part of a national map maintained by globalincendentmap.com. Information is provided by agencies across the U.S. It includes various blinking icons. The map’s label originally was titled Terrorism Events and Other Suspicious Activity.
Near Nashville, a blinking hexagon-shaped symbol with an exclamation point read “ACLU cautions TN schools about ‘observing one religious holiday.’” The hexagon symbol, when clicked on, originally stated “suspicious activity.” But it later was changed to say “general nonincident terrorism news” after inquiries by reporters.
As reported by the Nashville Times Free Press, The ACLU failed to see any humor in the irony:
ACLU bristles over terror list
By: Andy Sher
Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010
NASHVILLE — State anti-terrorism officials listed the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee on an Internet map detailing “terrorism events and other suspicious activity” after the group warned schools to ensure holiday celebrations “are inclusive.”
ACLU-Tennessee Executive Director Hedy Weinberg called the Tennessee Fusion Center’s tracking of First Amendment-protected activity “deeply disturbing.”
While saying improving and sharing anti-terrorism intelligence among different levels of government is “legitimate and important,” Weinberg said, “Equating a group’s attempts to protect religious freedom in Tennessee with suspicious activity related to terrorism is outrageous. Religious freedom is a founding principle in our Constitution — not fodder for overzealous law enforcement.”
Mike Browning, a spokesman for the Office of Homeland Security, said “certainly it was not our intent to post it [ACLU's letter to schools] as a terrorist incident. That was a mistake.”