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Homeland Harrassment

The fight against terrorism is vital to America's security. But anybody who cares about civil liberties must be cautious about the expansion of government powers in the name of fighting America's enemies. The same expanded USA Patriot Act powers that might help stop a terrorist can also be used against innocent people (citizens or not), whether due to malice or bureaucratic ineptitude. Thus, as always, the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. This page will link to sites and articles highlighting possible abuses of "Homeland Security" powers.

  • Is breastfeeding a baby an act of terrorism? Some airline flight crew apparently thought so... see this article, recounting a case where a Canadian citizen was threatened for prosecution for "an act of war against an American citizen" for persisting in on-flight breastfeeding when an American passenger was offended.
  • Homeland Security cops raided a New York restaurant, and treated the hapless customers in a very snotty way, as an example of what the new Patriot Act allows them to get away with. A guy who insisted on his right to talk with an attorney was told, "Yeah, you have that right... and we can keep you locked up for days, weeks, months, or whenever we complete the security clearances needed before a lawyer could actually talk to you."
  • Be careful what reading matter you bring with you on a plane, in this paranoid post-September-11 world. Neil Godfrey was prevented from flying out of Philadelphia because the thriller novel he was carrying had a cover airline officials though looked too threatening.
  • Another post-Sept.-11 airport overreaction caused a California journalist to be harrassed.
  • The "War on Terrorism" just keeps accumulating innocent victims... This woman gets hassled every time she flies because her name resembles that of a criminal, and is on an FBI list. She's an African-American woman while the criminal is a white male, but that doesn't matter to the Keystone Kops.
  • Meanwhile, a New York City government official is demanding that Ebay remove auctions of September-11-related things. Now, granted, some of this stuff (such as a puzzle toy where one must navigate a plane around the World Trade towers) is in bad taste, but what business does a governmental entity have to demand that a private business stop selling such items? Bad taste is protected by the First Amendment. Anyway, Ebay isn't even headquartered in New York; do local governments everywhere have jurisdiction over them just because they're on the Internet?


This page was first created 04 May 2003, and was last modified 25 May 2003.
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