I’ve been slowly clearing off my desk for the past couple of days, so it seemed appropriate today to pass along a few bits and pieces forwarded to me from others.
First, the persistent encroachment on American’s privacy and civil liberties continues, with msnbc.com reporting firefighters and paramedics — who can enter homes without search warrants — are being trained as “lookouts for terrorism” in some major U.S. cities.
“The trial program with Homeland Security opens a clear information-sharing channel — which did not exist before — between the fire service and Homeland Security’s intelligence division,” the article states.
“Even before the federal program began, New York firefighters and inspectors had been training to recognize materials and behavior the government identifies as 'signs of planning and support for terrorism'.
“When going to private residences, for example, they are told to be alert for a person who is hostile, uncooperative or expressing hate or discontent with the United States; unusual chemicals or other materials that seem out of place; ammunition, firearms or weapons boxes; surveillance equipment; still and video cameras; night-vision goggles; maps, photos, blueprints; police manuals, training manuals, flight manuals; and little or no furniture other than a bed or mattress.”
So now you have it: hostility, expressing discontent with the U.S., having still and video cameras and living in a sparsely furnished home could be enough to get you on that dreaded terrorist watch list.
Meanwhile, the CIA — experts at propaganda and disinformation — is using some of those tools to brainwash the youth with a special kids’ page on its website.
Among its nuggets:
“You may have heard about the Central Intelligence Agency. But, do you know what we really do and how we do it? The people of the CIA do very important work. They help keep our country safe. They give our leaders information so they can make good decisions. And they take pride in their important jobs.
“We have a lot of different jobs here. We have analysts, doctors, lawyers, scientists, geographers, and librarians, to name just a few. A lot of people still think that our employees lurk around in trench coats, send coded messages, and use exotic equipment like hidden cameras and secret phones to do their job. (You know, all those things you see in the movies or read about in spy novels.) There is a little of that, but that’s only part of the story.”
Interestingly, the graphic used to illustrate the kids’ page is a woman in a trench coat and dark glasses, talking on a phone in her high heel.
I could find no information about the agency’s role in assassinations, torture and special renditions. But it did ‘fess up to “in some cases, we spread disinformation to confuse them [opponents]” in the section for kids in grades 6-12.
The site also helpfully provides five lesson plans for teachers, as well as tips on how to help kids say no to drugs. The site proclaims: “The CIA is proud to be at the forefront of the War on Drugs, but we only win this war with everyone’s help.” However, it left out the part about its own role in drug running.
On the home front, an open letter to Hawaii Superferry CEO John Garibaldi and state officials is now circulating and seeking signatories. It states, in part:
“We, the undersigned residents of Kaua`i respectfully decline to participate in any of the reported 'outreach' efforts of the Hawai`i Superferry (HSf).
“The law may or may not say that it is legal for the HSf to come to Kaua`i. But even if the HSf can come to Nawiliwili, we Kaua`i residents don't have to either like or acquiesce to it.
“We undersigned will not and cannot ‘put behind us’ the disrespect and violation of our constitutional right to a safe and healthy environment, as both Honolulu newspapers have editorially suggested. It is, in fact, still in front of us.”
It also calls upon “the Kaua`i County Council to declare HSf a public nuisance under State law (HRS § 46-17) due to the ‘dust, pollution, vibrations, noise and smoke’ of up to 560 cars coming on and off the HSf as well as many as 200 more picking up and dropping off passengers all converging upon the dock.”
The letter is reportedly going to be released publicly on Monday.
So far, however, I still have seen and heard no evidence that Superferry actually is engaging in any community outreach on Kauai — despite public statements that it is. Maybe one of these days a reporter will actually ask Superferry to describe just what that outreach entails, and precisely who they are reaching out to.