19 December 2005

- This Is Why We Fight -

This via Scriv via Geeky Mom.

A senior at UMass Dartmouth was visited by federal agents two months ago, after he requested a copy of Mao Tse-Tung's tome on Communism called "The Little Red Book."

Don't we all feel just so much safer?

I mean, leaving aside the question of whether Homeland Security has the legal right to monitor such requests, or even if they do have the legal right whether it is ethically proper, I just I don't see how anyone can think that this is a good use of the agency's resources. Sending two agents to interview the student about requesting this book and admitting that that's why you are interviewing him!!????

I guess if I were to put my head into a place of evil paranoia I could see that the agency might want to track such things, even relatively innocuous items like this, in order to build up a database to trigger further investigation (which is what the story says the book did). But, sheesh, you don't go and tell the subject of the investigation that! Otherwise if the news gets out, first of all you look completely paranoid. Second, you look extremely silly. (This book in particular is so similar to those business motivational texts that the old terrorist Ross Perot carries a version of it around in his pocket—or so he said when he ran for President.) Third, you tip the agency's hand to the sorts of things that the agency is monitoring (you have just given actual terrorists an indication of the sorts of things that will trigger further investigation).

Yes, such vigilance makes me feel so much safer.