New York Republican Peter King has introduced a bill that would protect the army of citizen spies Homeland Security hopes to recruit under Janet Napolitano’s “See Something, Say Something” snoop campaign from lawsuits brought by innocent people wrongly accused of being terrorists or extremists.
“A top US lawmaker unveiled legislation on Wednesday to protect individuals who tip off authorities to potential extremist threats from lawsuits, in the event that they turn out to finger innocents,” reports AFP.
House Homeland Security Chairman King, who is pushing the “See Something, Say Something Act,” wants to shield “good citizens who report suspicious activity” from facing the consequences of misidentifying innocent behavior as extremism or terror.
Of course, this will only encourage untrained people to report any behavior whatsoever, no matter how benign, as potential terrorism, creating an army of enthusiastic but hapless citizen spies.
“King said his bill would extend protections from individuals “who report suspicious activity anywhere,” adds the report, making reference to the DHS’ “See Something, Say Something” campaign, which characterizes paying for things with cash as a suspicious activity.
The program was launched with the aid of Orwellian telescreens at Wal-Mart checkouts that play a message from Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano encouraging Americans to report anything unusual to Wal-Mart managers. The program was subsequently expanded to include 9,000 federal buildings, as well as sports stadiums, businesses and communities in general.
DHS will no longer be limited to the airport in the form of the TSA, but will become a ubiquitous entity policing everyone through a network of citizen spies and infrastructure security technology. The agency will also assume the mantle of regulating Americans’ every behavior and activity. DHS signs are already in place all over the country telling people where they can and can’t park their cars.
As we have documented, every historical example of such informant programs illustrates that they never lead to a more secure society, but instead breed suspicion, distrust, fear and resentment amongst the population. The only “benefit” that such programs have ever achieved is allowing the state to more easily identify and persecute political dissidents, while discouraging the wider population from engaging in any criticism against the government.
Since its official launch, the See Something, Say Something campaign has successfully wasted thousands of dollars of taxpayer money after people reported half-empty flasks of coffee and bags of clothes as deadly threats that required a response from bomb squads.
Of course, as we have documented, the federal government is fully aware of the fact that Americans are just as likely to be killed by lightning strikes, peanut allergies or accident-causing deer than they are by terrorists.
See Something, Say Something has little to do with combating terrorism, and everything to do with implanting the notion that Americans are constantly under surveillance from each other and may be reported to the authorities for any minor example of aberrant behavior no matter how benign.
In addition, since the Department of Homeland Security has characterized political activism which targets the state as extremist and terrorist activity, Americans are being trained that exercising their constitutional rights could get them in hot water with the law should their behavior be deemed suspicious by ignorant wannabe citizen spies who see themselves as terrorist hunters.
In an ironic twist, Rep. King, who is now trying to protect snoops who identify innocent behavior as extremism from lawsuits, was one of the primary co-sponsors of a 2009 House resolution that attempted to get answers as to why Homeland Security equated veterans, gun owners, Ron Paul supporters, and people who fly the U.S. flag, with violent terrorists, following the release of the agency’s infamous MIAC report.