Dangerous People

Certified Domestic TerroristIt's true that the “common law court” movement includes a lot of nutty people and probably some dangerous ones. And it's true that some of the things they do overlap with legal activities (although they often take it waaay too far). So I have a little sympathy for the bureaucrats who produced the boneheaded leaflet and training materials being mercilessly skewered by Homeland Stupidity at You are the homegrown terrorist threat. But only a little.

The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force in Phoenix, Ariz., distributed a brochure (Images: 1, 2) to local law enforcement agencies a few years ago which defines terrorism as individuals or groups within the U.S. who engage in criminal activity to promote political or social changes. This is correct, as far as it goes, but the brochure then gives a listing of “suspicious” activities, telling law enforcement officers: “If you encounter any of the following, call the Joint Terrorism Task Force.”

Some of the things for which you should be reported as a suspected terrorist include the usual things, like weapons of mass destruction, and hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazis, but also includes people who “Make numerous references to US Constitution,” “Claim driving is a right, not a privilege” and “Attempt to ‘police the police.’”

As regular readers know, I make frequent references to the US Constitution, and believe that there is constitutional right to travel — although its application to cars is a bit of a mess. And I'm all for policing the police although other than going to traffic court I've not done much of that myself.

Please don't report me.

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5 Responses to Dangerous People

  1. eczebeche says:

    Oh Michael, but you’ve been in their files for quite a while now; reporting you at this stage would be redundant. You’ve heard about the NSA domestic surveillance program, right? Wrong, the one that called you to their attention is the one you haven’t heard about. Yes, I’m talking about the one that’s so essential to prevailing in our eternal war against the big, bad Islamofascists that only the President and his most trusted staffers are allowed to know about, regardless of what the Constitution, statutes, precedent, the Supreme Court, Congress, disgruntled ex-members of the administration, 65% of the public opinion or whatever or whoever have to say.

    Sure, sure, I can’t prove it. But can you (or the Supreme Court, Congress, disgruntled ex-members of the administration, or anyone who isn’t the President or one of his most trusted staffers) prove the contrary?

  2. BroD says:

    Really, MIchael, the premise of your post seems to be that the idea that you met the reporting criteria was simply outlandish. It’s not outlandish–it’s what they mean.

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, they’re probably not going to drag you in for interrogation anytime soon but if they get reports they’ll record them and they they might do some casual asking around and record that and they’ll make note of the participants at various meetings or conferences you attend which included other participants of uncertain leanings and, before you know it, you’ve got a dossier and then someone will decide there’s enough smoke to begin looking for a fire.

    Ok call me paranoid but these things do happen.

  3. Michael, I really have to disagree with this post. It’s the sort of THE-FEDS-ARE-COMING-TO-GET-US!!!!!!!!!!!!!! paranoia-mongering that I find very off-putting. There’s a whole genre of these:

    1) Find a government handbook
    2) Take a sentence out of context, e.g. hypothetically “Signs of having committed a crime: … Shifty eyes”
    3) Pretend the sentence is a criminal indictment in itself, with much ranting and raving: “Well, what if someone has a nervous tic, huh, huh, huh? According the government, THEY’RE A CRIMINAL! Oh my god, the FEDS, the FEDS ARE GOING TO PUT US ALL IN JAIL, OH NO!!!!!!!!!!”

    I’ve seen this over and over, on cypherpunks, by sleazy journalists, by wingnut bloggers, etc. etc.

    If someone looks at the actually image – not the rile-’em-up distorted snippet of the article – it’s clear that what’s been listed is some characteristics of “Common Law Movement Proponents”, not a statement that anyone who “Make numerous references to US Constitution” is thus automatically a terrorist.

    From the article:

    “If you’re an American reading this, then under expansive definitions being used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and several states in their counterterrorism training, you just might be a domestic terrorist.”

    Classic Nonsense.

    Please don’t feed the (blogger) trolls.

    Sigh, I just saw it got heavily dugg, so I’m completely wasting my time :-(.

  4. BroD says:

    Seth,
    Think of it as counter-balancing paranoia. It may (or may not) be that, taken as a whole, the brochure is balanced and responsible. However, it is a bureaucratic (not academic) work: an invitation for local law enforcement officials to report suspicious individuals.

    You seem to have confidence that this will proceed in an entirely responsible manner. It seems to me that these things can rapidly spin out of control and the performance of the current administration hardly inspires confidence.

  5. BroD says:

    Seth,
    Think of it as counter-balancing paranoia. It may (or may not) be that, taken as a whole, the brochure is balanced and responsible. However, it is a bureaucratic (not academic) work: an invitation for local law enforcement officials to report suspicious individuals.

    You seem to have confidence that this will proceed in an entirely responsible manner. It seems to me that these things can rapidly spin out of control and the performance of the current administration hardly inspires confidence.

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