Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The New Terrorists: Vegans, Llama Lovers, and You (a rant)

We interrupt our Xmas revelry to bring you this important news: While you were sleeping, your country became a totalitarian state. But not to worry; it's for your own good. Really.

All on its own, the Bush Administration has decided that it's perfectly legal to tap the phones of American citizens, read their email, follow them, 'detain' (but not arrest) them, and ship them off to a prison cell where they can be tortured for months on end -- without ever having to prove they had a good reason for doing so. Their rationale? An obscure argument by an obscure legal scholar named John Yoo, which holds that in a time of war the president is granted unlimited power, including the power to declare a time of war. Chicken or egg, egg or chicken? No matter -- we're all just little cubes of ham inside one big omelet.

(The Yoo Doctrine is not to be confused with the Woo Doctrine, formulated by Hong Kong film maker John Woo, which states that when encountering opposition you must leap sideways with semi-automatic weapons blazing from both hands.)

Not to worry. The Republicans have promised to relinquish total control of the US government by the year 2055--or until the water is undrinkable, the air unbreathable, the last drop of oil has been sucked from the earth, and everyone who's not a member of the moneyed elite works at Wal-Mart.

Where have we seen this before? Hitler's Germany? Stalinist Russia? Mao's China? No. Movies like War of the Worlds and Independence Day, where the planet is attacked by locust-like creatures bent on extracting all of its natural resources.

Our fearless leaders assure us the only targets of this spying are terrorists. I suppose that might be comforting if it were true. But like "enemy combatant," the definition of "terrorist" is entirely in the hands of the Bushites. According to heavily censored FBI documents obtained by the ACLU, terrorists include environmentalists, animal rights activists, Catholic social workers, and vegans:

"One FBI document indicates that agents in Indianapolis planned to conduct surveillance as part of a 'Vegan Community Project.' Another document talks of the Catholic Workers group's 'semi-communistic ideology.' A third document indicates the bureau's interest in determining the location of a protest over llama fur planned by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals."

Yes, it's true: FBI agents secretly disguised as llamas infiltrated PETA and detained several members for excessive grooming. Alarming amounts of green leafy vegetables were also consumed.

Astoundingly, the Bushites are using their domestic spying to sell the reauthorization of the most troubling aspects of The Patriot Act -- the ones that let investigators find out what books you've read and what stuff you've bought without telling you, the ones that let them break into your home and have a look around without asking permission first from a judge.

Here's a scoop: The Patriot Act is mostly about ordinary every-day crime -- like money laundering, computer fraud, and drug trafficking. According to a June 2005 report in the Washington Post, less than 10 percent of the 400+ people charged with crimes related to Patriot Act investigations had anything to do with terrorism. The average sentence for those convicted? Around 11 months. Not exactly the kind of penalty you'd expect for your average bomb-building jihadist.

Next on the fed's list: file swappers, Internet pornographers, and people who say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas."

The Patriot Act is not about fighting terrorism. It is all about gutting the Fourth Amendment. Domestic spying isn't about keeping us safe. It's payback for the people the government doesn't like.

It turns out the terrorists who hate our freedoms weren't the ones who brought down the towers and burned the Pentagon. They were the ones inside the White House and Air Force One while it was happening.

Happy Holidays!


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