“Abuses Of Power Always – Always – Expand Beyond Their Original Application”

Constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald writes:

Documents just obtained from the FBI by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund reveal, as the New York Times put it, that “the [FBI] used counterterrorism agents to investigate the Occupy Wall Street movement, including its communications and planning” and in general show “how deeply involved federal law-enforcement authorities were in monitoring the activities of the movement.” The heavily redacted documents, which can be read here, reveal numerous instances of the FBI collaborating with local police forces and private corporations to monitor and anticipate the acts of the protest movement.

As obviously disturbing as it is, none of this should be surprising. Virtually every seized power justified over the last decade in the name of “terrorism” has been applied to a wide range of domestic dissent. The most significant civil liberties trend of the last decade, in my view, is the importation of War on Terror tactics onto US soil, applied to US citizens – from the sprawling Surveillance State and powers of indefinite detention to the para-militarization of domestic police forces and the rapidly emerging fleet of drones now being deployed in countless ways. As I’ve argued previously, the true purpose of this endless expansion of state power in the name of “terrorism” is control over anticipated domestic protest and unrest.

It should be anything but surprising that the FBI – drowning in counter-terrorism money, power and other resources – will apply the term “terrorism” to any group it dislikes and wants to control and suppress (thus ushering in all of the powers institutionalized against “terrorists”). Those who supported (or acquiesced to) this expansion of unaccountable government power because they assumed it would only be used against Those Muslims not only embraced a morally warped premise (I care about injustices only if they directly affect me), but also a factually false one, since abuses of power always – always – expand beyond their original application.

Mr. Greenwald is correct.

The Federal government is throwing walls of money at internal “terrorism-related” funding, even though the threat of terrorism is absurdly over-hyped (although government support for Al Qaeda and Iranian terrorists – and see this isn’t helping. )

On the other hand, the government is using laws to crush dissent, and it’s gotten so bad that even U.S. Supreme Court justices are saying that we are descending into tyranny.

For example, the following actions may get an American citizen living on U.S. soil labeled as a “suspected terrorist” today:

  • Being young (if you live near a battle zone, you are fair game; and see this)
  • Using social media
  • Reporting or doing journalism
  • Speaking out against government policies
  • Protesting anything (such as participating in the “Occupy” movement)
  • Questioning war (even though war reduces our national security; and see this)
  • Criticizing the government’s targeting of innocent civilians with drones (although killing innocent civilians with drones is one of the main things which increases terrorism. And see this)
  • Asking questions about pollution (even at a public Congressional hearing?)
  • Paying cash at an Internet cafe
  • Asking questions about Wall Street shenanigans
  • Holding gold
  • Creating alternative currencies
  • Stocking up on more than 7 days of food (even though all Mormons are taught to stockpile food, and most Hawaiians store up on extra food)
  • Having bumper stickers saying things like “Know Your Rights Or Lose Them”
  • Investigating factory farming
  • Infringing a copyright
  • Taking pictures or videos
  • Talking to police officers
  • Wearing a hoodie
  • Driving a van
  • Writing on a piece of paper
  • (Not having a Facebook account may soon be added)

And holding the following beliefs may also be considered grounds for suspected terrorism:

  • Being frustrated with “mainstream ideologies”
  • Valuing online privacy
  • Supporting Ron Paul or being a libertarian
  • Liking the Founding Fathers
  • Being a Christian
  • Being anti-tax, anti-regulation or for the gold standard
  • Being “reverent of individual liberty”
  • Being “anti-nuclear”
  • “Believe in conspiracy theories”
  • “A belief that one’s personal and/or national “way of life” is under attack”
  • “Impose strict religious tenets or laws on society (fundamentalists)”
  • “Insert religion into the political sphere”
  • “Those who seek to politicize religion”
  • “Supported political movements for autonomy”
  • Being “anti-abortion”
  • Being “anti-Catholic”
  • Being “anti-global”
  • “Suspicious of centralized federal authority”
  • “Fiercely nationalistic (as opposed to universal and international in orientation)”
  • “A belief in the need to be prepared for an attack either by participating in … survivalism”
  • Opposing genetically engineered food
  • Opposing surveillance

As people learned in Nazi Germany, staying silent when “other” types of people are deprived of their rights only ensures that others will not lift a finger for us when repressive authorities take away our rights.

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