It was a dark and stormy night-before-last, and I’d headed downtown to the Librul Latte Internet Café in Bumfuck, Colorado seeking the warmth and security of the ambient glow of laptop screens. Early that morning, a friend had emailed me a NY Times piece about the staggering new compilation of Third Reich holocaust ghettos and camps completed by the Holocaust Museum over the past ten years, some 42,500 across Europe. At the end of the piece, one of the researchers was quoted about his virtual certainty that, given their ubiquity, citizens had to have known about the camps.
Musing about that inevitably led to the dual questions: ‘Can it happen here?’ and if so, ‘How many Americans would claim not to have known?’ Within the hour, we had swapped a couple links that served to raise our alarm levels even further than they’d been previously due to the NDAA and its pre-emptive indefinite detentions of American citizens clauses.
As I was feverishly searching for more evidence of security state onslaughts on our civil rights online, my erstwhile friend Paul. E. Ahna sat down, and asked what was cooking. During the Bush years, we’d shared a fairly simpatico political view, but had over the past four years found it hard to be not only on the same page, but even in the same goddam book. But, knowing that sometimes a piece of news can change a mind, and also being a Very Silly Woman, I hipped him to my concerns, reckoning I’d ease my way into my discoveries…
‘What the fuck, Paul E.; have you seen this Cnet piece concerning the new Homeland Security memo on retro-fitting Predator drones for domestic use? They’re being equipped with technology that can track and monitor cell locations and conversations, and can even fucking tell if their ‘target’ is armed or not!’
With a bemused smile, my friend advised me, ‘Simmer down, now, wendydavis; surely you know that Congress will pass Lofgren and Poe’s privacy bill, and DHS will have to get a warrant before doing any of that shit. Ha! And anyway, if you’re not guilty of anything, why worry? What, you want to give terrorists and illegals sneaking over the border some kind of free pass or something? We need to be vigilant, don’t we? And anyway, the FAA will address privacy concerns soon, you can take that to the bank!’
‘Hell’s bells, amigo, do you really imagine that’s gonna stop it all, even if their ‘Privacy’ bill did by some miracle pass? Oh, yeah; they go for a warrant after the fact if at all.’
‘Well, I happen to know that the Lofgren-Poe bill says that State laws on the use of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) in the airspace of the state can’t be preempted, and that neither private nor law enforcement drones can be equipped with firearms or explosives in U.S. You really are starting to seem a bit paranoid lately, my friend.’ Warned Paul E.
Wondering if my communication might be sounding a bit too strident, I urged myself to take a few deep, cleansing breaths to calm myself and gear down my voice. A fragment of an ‘ohhhmmm’ may have slid out on my last exhale, but never mind.
‘What you may not be aware of, Paul E. is that through a FOIA request, the folks at the Electronic Privacy Information Center had obtained a redacted copy of a memo about all this from the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, and later ‘unearthed’ (read: were leaked?) an unredacted copy. Here; let me boot up the CNet piece and read you a couple bits:
‘The documents show that CBP specified that the “tracking accuracy should be sufficient to allow target designation,” and the agency notes on its Web site that its Predator B series is capable of “targeting and weapons delivery” (the military version carries multiple 100-pound Hellfire missiles). CBP says, however, that its Predator aircraft are unarmed.
Gene Hoffman, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who’s the chairman of the Calguns Foundation, said CBP “needs to be very careful with attempts to identify armed individuals in the border area” when aerial surveillance touches on a constitutional right.
“In the border area of California and Arizona, it may be actively dangerous for the law-abiding to not carry firearms precisely due to the illegal flow of drugs and immigrants across the border in those areas,” Hoffman says.
‘My, my; we are excited today, aren’t we? See? They’re unarmed. And if they arm them, I’m sure if you read further you’d see it’s just about killing dangerous animals or something. Like those escaped from zoos or something. And mainly they’re likely used just for border patrol as they’re saying.’
‘Sure, or when fucking ‘austerity’ cuts kick in, and food, gas, and heating oil prices spike again, and mass numbers of us get out on the street, that point where so many reckon, ‘there’s nothing left to lose’, eh? And they fire on US like we’re those same escaped wild animals!’
Some bright movement caught my eye, and my old nemesis T. Pardee, sporting his tri-cornered tinfoil hat sat down, and said that he couldn’t help but overhear some of conversation. Once upon a time, he’d been an old-style Libertarian, but in the current political atmosphere of Dipstick County, Colorado, he’d become a little unpredictable as to where he’d come down on a particular issue. I’d long noticed how the old hard-right and the old hard-left used to meet on a few issues. So, I wasn’t totally shocked when he advised me to google ‘ACLU’ and ‘Constitution-free zone’. Did it, got the link, but it crashed my crap Internet Explorer three times. Pasted it into my Firefox, and I read aloud some of it:
Did you know that over 200 million Americans live in a Constitution Free Zone? This is a zone that according to the ACLU, seems to be legally exempt from providing you with your Constitutional rights and specifically violates the 4th and 5th Amendments of the Constitution.
According to the Government and the Border Patrol, jurisdiction of the border patrol is within 100 miles of any border, effectively claiming 2 out of every 3 Americans as a resident within their jurisdiction. These boundaries or “jurisdiction” create what is defined by the ACLU, as the Constitutional Free Zone, where your fourth amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure, and your fifth amendment right to a fair trial and being innocent until proven guilty by a jury seem to just become void.
Of course I told T. Pardee about the CBP memo, and he duly flipped his tri-corner, we gargled on a bit in fury and outrage about the massive police state, the sound of jackboots on the march in the US; you know, radical shit like that.
At length, my good buddy Paul E. Ahna stood to go, and left us with some good advice.
‘You know, you two are forgetting something. This is all being done under a Democratic administration. I’m sure I don’t have to remind you that it’s always been The Party of The People, and all this stuff is simply for your safety and mine. Now, knowing that you’re both suffering some unwarranted angst and delusions (okay, paranoid reactions) about all this, please, please, go and see your physicians! I was feeling a little uncomfortable back in ’09 or ’10, and my doc gave me some Paxill, Valium, Lunesta, a bit of Lithium now and again. I sleep like a baby now, and my outlook is decidedly more cheerful. I almost always look on the bright side of life now!’
(this video was brought to you courtesy of BigPharma)
[Because it’s important, a bit of FYI: The interactive ‘Constitutional-free map link and page about the rights you have as an American citizen won’t boot up today; nor will my original ACLU link on either of my browsers. I googled the terms again, thinking other sites may have picked it up; I found one, but it’s ACLU link won’t boot either. I find that odd and a half; maybe I should ask T. Pardee for his hat-maker’s address.
Luckily, when the Liberty Underground Newsletter came in this morning, Jack Balkwill had more on the subject, and said:
‘Even though so-called “border checkpoints” can now by law be within 100 miles of any U.S. border, you can still get away with exercising your rights, or at least enough to convince security goons that you still have some. The law says that a border guard (again, this could be 100 miles from any border) can ask you only one thing without probable cause: “Are you a U.S. citizen?” That’s it. You may choose not to answer, which these righteous people did, or you may choose to say “yes.” After that, by law they must let you go on your way.
He is not an attorney, although I assume he’d copied that from the ACLU’s website, so google ‘ACLU’ and ‘border checkpoints rights’; I hope something boots for you. This is all bullshit, and I wish I thought I could be as brave as the guys in the video link.]
[Update]: CTuttle just brought this gem to the comment thread: ‘Obama Administration Says President Can Use Lethal Force Against Americans on US Soil’. Holder: caveat, caveat…then:
The question you have posed is therefore entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur, and one we hope no president will ever have to confront. It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States. For example, the president could conceivably have no choice but to authorize the military to use such force if necessary to protect the homeland in the circumstances like a catastrophic attack like the ones suffered on December 7, 1941, and September 11, 2001.
The letter concludes, “were such an emergency to arise, I would examine the particular facts and circumstances before advising the president of the scope of his authority.”
Okay; I just deleted my questions; you have the floor. Dark Days. When did Congress suspend Posse Comitatus again?