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Antiterror Stupidity

Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010 3:45 AM

If one desired proof that we, as a nation, are getting progressively more stupid, you need go no further than South Carolina, which has effected the Subversive Activities Registration Act.

In short, if you're a terrorist, and you visit South Carolina, you have 30 days to fill out a form and pay a $5 registration fee. (So be sure to conduct all your terrorist activities within those first 29 days.)

But the law is full of loopholes and exceptions, such as exempting labor unions, religious, patriotic organizations, societies, associations or their members that 'do not contemplate' the overthrow of the government (or any subdivision thereof) by force OR violence OR other unlawful means.

So, while SARA singles out corporation(s) which "... directly or indirectly advocates, advises, teaches or practices the duty, necessity or propriety of controlling, conducting, seizing or overthrowing the government of the United States, of this State or of any political subdivision thereof by force or violence or other unlawful means," it does not cover a single instance - which means Premier Election Systems (formerly Diebold) could steal an election and it's just fine, because it's a one-off job purely for pay. On the other hand, if Xe (formerly Blackwater) stages a coup predicated on their oaths as former military personnel, they're culpable.

Since the text specifically states the law does not supersede the First Amendment protections of freedom of press or speech (but not religion or assembly, even though it exempts religious organizations in the above section), does it also maintain the Fifth Amendment's provision against self-incrimination? Isn't this basically a signed confession? Or, if a suspect has registered, does he qualify as a legal enemy combatant? (Said distinction the raison d'etre for the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay and our policy of indefinite detention.)

But the kicker is the the bit where the Secretary of State (not the governor or the legislature) may 'adopt and promulgate any rules or regulations, not inconsistent with this chapter' which may be necessary to carry out said provisions.

So since there's no specific mention of the 4th and/or 5th Amendments ...

Why are we being fed a fresh diet of fear?

We've been hearing conservatives wail about how affording Umad 'Crotchbomber' Abdulmutallab rights is wrong, that we should aggressively interrogate him for every last drop of information.

We've heard how we shouldn't try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in criminal court because he'll use the witness stand to preach, or that he'll issue some kind of coded message to the vast legions of terrorists hiding in the sewers.

Earlier this month, intelligence officials appeared before Congress and stated there was a significant probability of a domestic terror attack within the next 3-6 months.

Now, new pictures of the Twin Towers' collapse on 9/11 are being released, a somber reminder of 'the day the world changed forever,' as one report put it.

I ask again, why should anyone be so afraid of a guy whose credentials as a dangerous terrorist consist of setting his testicles aflame?

And why are our elected representatives and the media doing this? What policies and practices does the fear of terrorism help sustain and/or prevent us from taking a closer, rational look at? Who is profiting from this?

It's not about keeping us safe. It's about keeping us afraid ... and, thus, controlled. My apologies if that sounds a little much like the incoherent ramblings of some crazy on a street corner, but I would like security policy that is more timely and sensible than, say, the construction of a new eastern span of the SF/Oakland Bay Bridge, which isn't due to be completed until 2013, barring further complications or delays. (That's 24 years after the Loma Prieta quake, and over a decade since construction on the new span began. The original bridge took 3 years to complete.)

The Ministry will be taking a few days off during the Presidents' Day weekend. We'll be back on Wednesday, February 17.

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