Tuesday, November 21, 2006


I know we're supposed to get upset about this stuff because of civil liberties issues, but frankly I get more upset about it because of the absurdity and what it suggests about the intelligence of our rulers:

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20 — An antiterrorist database used by the Defense Department in an effort to prevent attacks against military installations included intelligence tips about antiwar planning meetings held at churches, libraries, college campuses and other locations, newly disclosed documents show.

One tip in the database in February 2005, for instance, noted that “a church service for peace” would be held in the New York City area the next month. Another entry noted that antiwar protesters would be holding “nonviolence training” sessions at unidentified churches in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

The Defense Department tightened its procedures earlier this year to ensure that only material related to actual terrorist threats — and not peaceable First Amendment activity — was included in the database.

Someone at some level in this administration was embracing absurdly Nixonian levels of paranoia at a time when there was no justification for it. No, I'm not saying that Nixon's various abuses were justified, but during that time there was at least genuine social turmoil. Think of the time and money spent on monitoring elderly Quakers.