wanted our government to strike back at the terrorists by bombing
cheered when President Bush stood tall and said, "Let's roll!" And
you applauded when he said he will root out the evil-doers everywhere
in the world.
when innocent Afghans were killed, you said there's bound to be
"collateral damage" in a war.
the Feds took over the airports and created enormous inconveniences
for passengers, you pointed out that we all must sacrifice for the
it was revealed that the military were keeping prisoners in secret,
and that people might be tried in secret – and even executed – you
pointed out that these things are necessary in wartime. After all,
the Bill of Rights shouldn't apply to terrorists, right?
Inevitable Next Step
the federal government has taken the next logical step – the one
that proceeds inexorably from all that it has done up to now.
government's Citizen Corps program has set up Operation
TIPS (Terrorism Information & Prevention System). At its
website, complete with a smiling picture of Big Brother, you can
TIPS will be a national system for reporting suspicious, and potentially
terrorist-related activity. The program will involve the millions
of American workers who, in the daily course of their work, are in
a unique position to see potentially unusual or suspicious activity
in public places.
about time, right? We've been pussy-footing around with these terrorists
for too long, right?
far the Feds have recruited over a million people to snoop for them
– cable TV installers and repairmen, telephone servicemen, trash
men, and other people who might be around your home during the course
of their work. While doing their normal jobs, they'll look for anything
suspicious in your home – and they'll report to the government anything
they think is strange.
anyone coming into your home might be a Federal snoop. Even that
neighbor who doesn't like you may be a government informant.
so what? You have nothing to hide, right?
the cable TV man comes to your house and sees those strange books
on your shelf, or the catalog from a gun maker in the trash (a catalog
you didn't ask for, but was sent to you because your name was bought
from someone you deal with), or the unusual amount of electronic
equipment you have, he has the opportunity to be a hero and report
you to the secret police. He might even get a Gold Star. Or make
that a Red Star.
so what? Even if secret agents come to question you, you're innocent,
right? You have nothing to hide. You can tell the secret police
they've got the wrong man.
can explain later to the neighbors that those policemen and strange-looking
agents were at your home by mistake, right?
for the Greater Good
course, the thought police might not accept your explanations. And
they probably won't let you call an attorney. But you don't need
an attorney if you're innocent, right?
even if they arrested you when you were by yourself and your family
doesn't know where you are, your spouse and children won't worry
unnecessarily about you. After all, they know you can take care
of yourself, right?
it's true that the anti-terrorism experts need to make a lot of
arrests, in order to show they're doing something and to justify
expanding their budgets. After all, they are government bureaucrats
– just like the ones who are wiping out drugs, poverty, and illiteracy.
But they're doing important work – and so you shouldn't complain
if you're inconvenienced, right?
may even torture you to get information you don't have. But, hey,
it's better to torture ten innocent people than to let one guilty
person conceal the plans for the next terrorist attack, right?
we had a Bill of Rights in America, it assured you of a right to
have an attorney present, a right to confront your accusers, a right
to know the charge against you, a right to reasonable bail, a right
to a public and speedy trial before a jury of your peers.
that was before America
was attacked in an unprovoked and vicious act. And so now we must
all be willing to sacrifice – and accept whatever the government
thinks best. You said that yourself, right? And the TIPS program
may give you the honor to be one of the first Americans to
you may be detained in secret, because you might not be allowed
to see an attorney, because you might not have a public trial, and
because you'll be dealing with human beings who are far from perfect,
it's even possible that you could be tried and executed in secret.
so what? Your death will just be part of the collateral damage that's
a necessary element in this important War on Terrorism.
you will die happy – knowing your government stood tall and showed
the terrorists they couldn't get away with the 9-11 attack.