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Maryland Police Put Activists' Names On Terror List 426

Posted by timothy
from the bad-incentive-to-remain-peaceful dept.
aaandre writes with word of a Washington Post story which begins: "The Maryland State Police classified 53 nonviolent activists as terrorists and entered their names and personal information into state and federal databases that track terrorism suspects, the state police chief acknowledged yesterday. The police also entered the activists' names into the federal Washington-Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area database, which tracks suspected terrorists. One well-known antiwar activist from Baltimore, Max Obuszewski, was singled out in the intelligence logs released by the ACLU, which described a 'primary crime' of 'terrorism-anti-government' and a 'secondary crime' of 'terrorism-anti-war protesters.'" According to the article, "Both [former state police superintendent Thomas] Hutchins and [Maryland Police Superintendent Terrence] Sheridan said the activists' names were entered into the state police database as terrorists partly because the software offered limited options for classifying entries." Reader kcurtis adds "The State Police say they are purging the data, but this is one more example (on top of yesterday's news that datamining for terrorists is not feasible due to false positives) of just how badly the use of these lists can be abused."
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Maryland Police Put Activists' Names On Terror List

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  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @05:50PM (#25306101) Homepage

    ...those jokes are getting less and less funny.

    That's all I have to say about that.

    • by megamerican (1073936) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @05:58PM (#25306223)

      This isn't new to America by any means. The only new part about it is that we learn about it quicker.

      In the 1950's, J Edgar Hoover wanted to arrest over suspected of being disloyal. [nytimes.com]

      Lincoln suspended habeus corpus (later to be found that it was done unconstitutionally) and arrested 1000's of newspaper writers, editors, political dissidents and even 2 congressmen.

      • by nurb432 (527695) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @07:16PM (#25307071) Homepage Journal

        Sure *we* learn about it quicker, but what we need is the average American to hear about it.. and understand what is going on.

        Until then, *we* will just be pushed aside, and added to the lists.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by KevinKnSC (744603)

          This seems an appropriate time to ask this: Is your sig meant to disparage Booth, patriotism, or Lincoln? Are you saying that Booth, generally regarded as a bad guy, was actually acting honorably? Are you saying that patriotism is not all it's cracked up to be, because Booth was acting out of patriotism and look at the horrible thing he did? Are you saying that Booth and patriotism are both good things, because Lincoln was bad?

          Help me, I'm overcome by multiple interpretations!

    • by geogob (569250) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @06:35PM (#25306663)

      Yes. I doubt any of them laughs when they get turned away from the check-in counter next time they which to take an flight to somewhere. "Sorry sir, you are on a terrorist watch list. You can't fly with us today. Next!..."

      The real joke nowadays, is freedom.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by iminplaya (723125)

        The real joke nowadays, is freedom.

        Shhh...We don't don't discuss that during election season.

    • Fascism (Score:5, Insightful)

      by YA_Python_dev (885173) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @06:35PM (#25306667) Journal
      Let's not beat around the bush: this is not an isolated error, this is only the tip of the iceberg.

      If you disagree with the government you are an enemy of the state and it's the police that will deal with you. There's a name for this ideology: fascism.

      • Re:Fascism (Score:5, Insightful)

        by peragrin (659227) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @07:23PM (#25307121)

        Actually I would rather beat Bush for pushing us farther down the iceberg. But he wasn't the only one, rebpulican democrat it doesn't matter, each president has taken more and m ore freedom away from the. individual

  • Check yourself, (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @05:50PM (#25306103) Homepage Journal
    This isn't new. The government's sneaky voyeurs have pulled this shit time and time again against nonviolent "subversives".

    The thing which scares me more is the CLETS [calstate.edu].

    CLETS is basically a law-enforcement database which compiles info on people regardless of charge or conviction. I found out about it after my buddy interviewed well for a prison job only to be called at the last minute -- he was denied employment(even after having passed the DOJ LiveScan [usafingerprinting.com]) because of a petty theft charge of which he was never convicted. Doing more research, we found that basically any cop can write anything about you that they want whether or not you were charged or convicted. It's a sneaky way to criminalize somebody without actually going through the legal motions.

    It's been awhile since I checked it out, but from what I recall it had something to do with www.leo.gov [leo.gov] and its "public inquiry" phone number led to a place in West Virginia!

    I wasn't able to find all the details(who may access the database etc.) but I suggest that you Californians follow the yellow brick road and hopefully discover what the good ol' boys think about you, before it bites you in the ass someday. Happy hunting.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by argent (18001)

      Maybe they didn't have a category for "not guilty" in their database?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by davester666 (731373)

        They don't even have a field that this could go into. It's just a generic database of people who have been in contact with the police and why.

        Now, it's shocking, shocking I say, that it would be misused (used?) in this way.

        And it does seem stupid to me to enter "terrorists" into a database of drug traffickers. While there is a small amount of overlap between the two groups, this smacks of a "hmm, where can we put this information on terrorists. Well sir, we have the database of drug traffickers. We coul

    • >I suggest that you Californians follow the yellow brick road and hopefully discover what the good ol' boys think about you, before it bites you in the ass someday. Happy hunting.

      How do you expect the Californians to hunt, when you take away all their guns?

      Don't worry, Mr. Anderson. We'll take care of you. We're from the government!

    • by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @06:29PM (#25306585) Homepage

      It's a sneaky way to criminalize somebody without actually going through the legal motions.

      It's just a fact that getting into trouble with the police can screw you over without charge or conviction. If your family, neighbours and job see the police search your home and workplace or the media blast your name all over without ever reaching a conviction, that would probably do a lot of damage to you even if you're innocent. I've not heard of it being kept on record and used against you permanently like that, but it's not the first job anyone's lost...

    • by Drathos (1092) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @06:43PM (#25306749)

      Paranoid much?

      CLETS is just another state law enforcement messaging system - not a single database. I'm pretty sure every state has one and they talk to each other via NLETS (National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System). Nothing new. NLETS itself has been around in various forms since the 60s and several of the state systems originated before that.

      I've worked on these in several states. They let authorized agencies run queries to *specific* databases (DMV, Sex Offender lists, Wants/Warrants, Stolen Vehicles, Criminal History Records, etc.). Usually each one of these is run by a different agency which is connected to the state system. Most of the traffic I've seen over the years is Drivers License and Vehicle Registration inquiries (two completely separate inquiries) resulting from someone getting pulled over.

      A cop being able to "write anything about you" means that whatever state/local agency is running the system that data gets put in isn't properly auditing their system. Something that actually pisses off the Feds.

      In the states I've worked in, a person's access is limited based on their role and what they've been certified for. Your average cop wouldn't be able to enter or modify data, just query it, and even there they normally wouldn't be able to query all systems. A highway patrol officer, for example, would most likely only be able to query DMV, Wants/Warrants, and Stolen Vehicles - and that's assuming they have the ability to access it themselves instead of having to call it in to a dispatcher.

      The West Virginia number is most likely at the FBI's NCIC.

      • by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @08:06PM (#25307487) Homepage

        Paranoid much?

        CLETS is just another state law enforcement messaging system - not a single database. I'm pretty sure every state has one and they talk to each other via NLETS (National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System). Nothing new. NLETS itself has been around in various forms since the 60s and several of the state systems originated before that.

        Yeah, and law enforcement tracking and harassing peaceful activists is nothing new either. They've been doing it since well before the 60s. I guess I'm not supposed to worry, because they added computer databases to their toolbox for doing this a long time ago?

        A cop being able to "write anything about you" means that whatever state/local agency is running the system that data gets put in isn't properly auditing their system. Something that actually pisses off the Feds.

        I'm sure they do, in so far as the factual data (location, occupation etc) is inaccurate, or any information doesn't actually lead them to any person they are really interested in. Who likes that?

        On the other hand, if it is someone they're interested in (for political not criminal reasons) but don't have any actual dirt on, and what is written in the database gives them an excuse to have a little fun RICO- or USAPATRIOT-style, then that lack of proper auditing is a boon, now isn't it?

        And don't tell me I'm being paranoid, police and the feds have both been caught abusing their powers vis-a-vis those two laws to act against benign and harmless but anti-establishment activist groups repeatedly. Hell, the FBI has submitted reports to Congress stating their use of USAPATRIOT powers in such cases, that's how ballsy they are about it. So I'm bracketing that on one side with MLK Jr. on the other and saying that's not paranoia in between, it's business as usual.

        In the states I've worked in, a person's access is limited based on their role and what they've been certified for. Your average cop wouldn't be able to enter or modify data, just query it, and even there they normally wouldn't be able to query all systems. A highway patrol officer, for example, would most likely only be able to query DMV, Wants/Warrants, and Stolen Vehicles - and that's assuming they have the ability to access it themselves instead of having to call it in to a dispatcher.

        Well someone had write access and put these activists names on the list, and classified them as terrorists. Somebody had the write access to create the categories "terrorism-anti-government" and "terrorism-anti-war protesters". So your assurances, even coming as they do from personal experience, don't mean very much to me.

        My cousin worked for the NSA. He told me if I knew what they really did, I'd be very disappointed. I trust him so I bet from his perspective that's true. Which would mean they must not have invited him into the wiretapping-millions-of-Americans room and told him what they were up to.

    • by camperslo (704715) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @07:11PM (#25307021)

      This isn't new. The government's sneaky voyeurs have pulled this shit time and time again against nonviolent "subversives".

      Speaking of sneaky, there's more than pork added to the bailout bill.
      Browsing through it I happened to notice "Sec. 201 Permanent Authority For Undercover Operations" on page 296. Not quite sure what that is, but it's a fair guess there was very little time for discussion with it in that bill. Whatever it is may very well be needed, but I have to wonder if it would have been permanent if handled in separate legislation that was more-fully discussed and reviewed before passage.

      Don't just go by the news summaries of what is in that bill, check out the 724 K PDF of HR1424, the full bill [senate.gov].

  • Having personally used Multiple Data Mining techniques for several years now - It's not that Data Mining doesn't work, rather it's how its used. Data Mining is great at trend forecasting and if you're really good at what you're doing in it you can factor in probabilities of certain future events. The one key factor in data mining is a "Training Set" of Data to teach the machine(s) how to recognize the patterns. Since I suspect Terrorist come from every walk of life, every know nationality, and are using 1 o

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by orclevegam (940336)
      In other words it's great for making statistical predictions based on historic data, but sucks at spotting small variations in a largely randomized data pool. Gee, who would have thought.

      On the topic of TFA, is it just me or did they basically say the equivalent of "We didn't have an option for 'we hate this guy because he disagrees with us, he should be harassed' so instead they picked 'terrorist'"?
    • So, putting dissident activists together with terrorists kinda screws up the data mining efforts.

      Given the amount of arbitrary power that governments award themselves in the name of national security, I would not be suprised if malice > stupidity in this case.

    • No, it is that data mining doesn't work, against this particular problem. That's because data mining works for, as you say, trends and probabilities. But terrorists are individual events, making up something under one millionth of the population, and data mining simply can't see that kind of thing.

  • by Free the Cowards (1280296) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @05:52PM (#25306141)

    If they've done something illegal, then arrest and prosecute them. If they haven't, then they should be free to go about their lives.

    All innocent people should be equal in the eyes of the law.

    • by Stanislav_J (947290) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @05:59PM (#25306241)

      All innocent people should be equal in the eyes of the law.

      But some are more equal than others.....

      Sincerely,
      Mr. G. Orwell

    • by idontgno (624372) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @06:10PM (#25306377) Journal

      "Did you really think we want those laws observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them to be broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against... We're after power and we mean it... There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted - and you create a nation of law-breakers - and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Reardon, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with."

      --Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

    • by plover (150551) * on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @06:35PM (#25306665) Homepage Journal

      If they've done something illegal, then arrest and prosecute them. If they haven't, then they should be free to go about their lives.

      You're absolutely right. Hutchins and Sheridan should be arrested and prosecuted for slander, making defamatory statements, and abridging the civil rights of the 53 people they falsely accused of a truly heinous crime. And they should certainly be given a fair trial, and if found innocent their records should be cleaned and they should be free to go about their lives.

      But saying stuff like "the activists' names were entered into the state police database as terrorists partly because the software offered limited options for classifying entries" should be very compelling evidence of making the false accusation in the first place. Trying to fix it later should be strong evidence that the suspects knew what they had done was wrong, and therefore had malice aforethought. There was no good faith here. This was an outright criminal act designed to deny 53 people their rights as citizens.

      I'd say those 53 defendants have a pretty solid case on their hands.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AmberBlackCat (829689)
        It seems the cops, after going down their list of crimes and not finding any that fit, did not even consider the possibility that no crime would fit because nothing these people did was a crime.
  • by StefanJ (88986) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @05:53PM (#25306147) Homepage Journal

    . . . the "Thoughtcrime" classification.

    Who made this software? Someone who watches their "24" DVD set over and over?

  • terrorism-whatever (Score:5, Insightful)

    by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @05:57PM (#25306199)
    So the classification options in the database were 'terrorism-anti-government' and 'terrorism-anti-war protesters' and they couldn't find any other that would fit? Did someone just go through all the options and stick terrorism- prefix to them. Are there terrorism-music-piracy, terrorism-illegal-parking etc. I guess if everybody is a terrorist it's easier to catch one.
  • Terrorists? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maz2331 (1104901) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @06:00PM (#25306253)

    They sure don't seem to be terrorists from what anyone has presented. Everyone has the right to be a left-wing, right-wing, religious, gay, slashdot, anti-slashdot, or whatever other type of wingnut they want. So long as they are peaceful about it, that is.

    Perhaps the "limited options" were there for a reason - those were the only valid reasons for entry in the first place. Anyone who didn't match probably shouldn't have been entered in the first place.

    Being politically active is not terrorism. Terrorism is violence with the aim of influencing public behavior in such a way as to subvert either the popular will or to force a government to give concessions to the group in question.

    These lists could be a really useful tool for stopping stupid asshats who are planning attacks, but that utility is lost if they are full of garbage data. From many descriptions, they are becoming about as good as randomly flipping through a phone book.

    Purging the garbage is an excellent idea, both to protect innocent people's rights and to make the lists themselves a useful resource.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Gat0r30y (957941)

      These lists could be a really useful tool for stopping stupid asshats who are planning attacks

      The idea of lists like these is not to stop stupid asshats who are planning attacks. They are intended to induce fear in the public. Fear of the government. If people are afraid to publicly protest the stupid shit their government does - well then it is a lot easier for government to get away with whatever they want.
      Additionally, in order to justify taking away everyone's rights - just about everyone is going to have to be a "terrorist".

      Terrorism is violence with the aim of influencing public behavior in such a way as to subvert either the popular will or to force a government to give concessions to the group in question.

      By the way - the goal nor the means of terrorism is politica

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Mansing (42708)

      They sure don't seem to be terrorists from what anyone has presented. Everyone has the right to be a left-wing, right-wing, religious, gay, slashdot, anti-slashdot, or whatever other type of wingnut they want.

      Except those EMACS people ....

  • "...names were entered into the state police database as terrorists partly because the software offered limited options for classifying entries."

    So much for guilty until proven innocent. If the correct classification doesn't exist, then don't enter in the name until one does. You wouldn't put their names in as murderers or child pornographers. They are not terrorists, don't call them such.
    • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

      So much for guilty until proven innocent. If the correct classification doesn't exist, then don't enter in the name until one does. You wouldn't put their names in as murderers or child pornographers. They are not terrorists, don't call them such.

      You're confusing the role of cop and judge. The courts hash out the whole proof of guilt thing. The cop is focused on justice. They're not always the same thing.

      This is why, as a general rule, one should not trust anyone in a policing role (at least until you have a REAL good idea how they work). I've seen bureaucrats and FBI agents come up with some rather elaborate scenarios to describe a perpetrator. And while these scenarios aren't always completely without merrit, they tend to be an extreme interp

  • by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @06:02PM (#25306285) Homepage Journal

    When can we arrest the police for falsely labeling us as terrorists?

    How about huge personal lawsuits?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by HTH NE1 (675604)

      Is it libel when its printed in a database? Is there an establishing precedent?

  • That pretty much says it all, doesn't it? The security-state mindset doesn't care what your actual politics are. It cares what kind of person you are. You're either a Good God-Fearing Christian American, in which case everything you do is Good and Right and Just, or you're an Evil America-Hating /C/om/m/u/n/i/s/t/ Terrorist Sympathizer ("fringe person" for short) in which case everything you do is Wrong and must be Punished. And whatever the GGFCA's do to protect themselves from the EAH/C/TS's is by def

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mjwx (966435)

      That pretty much says it all, doesn't it? The security-state mindset doesn't care what your actual politics are. It cares what kind of person you are. You're either a Good God-Fearing Christian American, in which case everything you do is Good and Right and Just, or you're an Evil America-Hating /C/om/m/u/n/i/s/t/ Terrorist Sympathizer ("fringe person" for short) in which case everything you do is Wrong and must be Punished. And whatever the GGFCA's do to protect themselves from the EAH/C/TS's is by definit

  • by argent (18001) <peter AT slashdo ... taronga DOT com> on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @06:11PM (#25306391) Homepage Journal

    "I don't believe the First Amendment is any guarantee to those who wish to disrupt the government," [Hutchins] said.

    I'm boggled.

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    That means, you get to watch them and make sure they're not storming the prison. That doesn't mean you get to disrupt their activities by putting them on terrorist watch lists because you're part of the grievances they're protesting about.

    • He's right, it's the second amendment that guarantees that right to disrupt the government :-)

    • by Digital End (1305341) <<excommunicated> <at> <gmail.com>> on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @09:51PM (#25308291)
      the right of the people peaceably to assemble

      For the love of god, it's RIGHT THERE. Doesn't anyone read this thing? The document is beutiful to read, and powerful. For the good of yourself as a person sit the hell down and read this document that grants you your freedoms.

      You know, I feel like a damn hippy bitching 'they're taking our rights', but you f-king know what? THEY ARE. We were warned since our very first president exactly how this would play out, and dispite the warnings of those greatest men this country has ever seen, we've let every one of their predictions come true without batting an eyelash. And I'm mad as hell not only at the government for thinking they can do that, but for the failed people of this nation who turn in their libertys like pokemon cards every time the words "Terrorist", "9/11", and "Family Values" appear in a speech.

      (/rant)
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ricegf (1059658)

        ...read this document that grants you your freedoms

        It does no such thing. It acknowledges a subset of the "unalienable Rights" [ushistory.org] with which they were "endowed by their Creator".

        The difference is huge. If the constitution "grants" me rights, then the states can change it to revoke those rights. However, if those rights are "unalienable" because they were granted by someone above the state's pay grade (to coin a phrase), then the states lack the authority to revoke them.

        This was precisely the argument laid out in the Declaration of Independence to justify

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I work for a state agency that works with data quite a bit. If the people working there can enter data correctly 60% of the time I would be amazed. This is generally do to poor validation and apathetic workers. Then, the data is "mined" in either inappropriate or unintended ways. This information is handed up the food chain for decisions by people who have no clue about the nuances of the data, or even main concepts regarding it. All of a sudden, data mining doesn't work.

    My main point here is to cautio

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by plover (150551) *

      Data mining is great for providing statistical answers to questions. But the statistics can only be used for "inductive reasoning". The conclusion is not a fact, it's only a probability. "Joe learned how to make bombs in the army", "Joe is in an anti-war group", "Mary does not know how to make bombs", does not yield "Joe is an anti-war terrorist." It might yield "Joe has more potential to be an anti-war terrorist than Mary does."

      Now, if there are more facts and premises, such as "People who plant bom

  • continuing proof that Spiro Agnew wasn't a fluke.
  • by spyrochaete (707033) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @06:17PM (#25306453) Homepage Journal

    Both [former state police superintendent Thomas] Hutchins and [Maryland Police Superintendent Terrence] Sheridan said the activists' names were entered into the state police database as terrorists partly because the software offered limited options for classifying entries.

    So what kind of terrorist did they hope to classify them as?

  • by Essellion (669297) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @06:22PM (#25306509)
    Hutchins said: "I don't believe the First Amendment is any guarantee to those who wish to disrupt the government,"

    So, if I decide to vote against the incumbents in political office I forfeit my first amendment rights? Or is it only if I discuss doing so? Maybe I have to put a sign in my yard first? Or is participation in or organization of a rally against those rascally incumbents a necessary precondition? How about a sit-in? Civil disobedience?

    This sounds like the kind of thing where the bar will become lower and lower over time.

    Best not to begin...
  • wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DragonTHC (208439) <Dragon@gamerAUDE ... l.com minus poet> on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @06:28PM (#25306577) Homepage Journal

    I guess there really is no limits to the complete incompetence which permeates law enforcement. We all had an impression of law enforcement as not very intelligent, and this just sears it in. Labeling someone as a terrorist because they exercise their Constitutional right to protest. The first amendment is very clear. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

    Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of the right of the people to peaceably assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Crystal clear. Congress can make no laws prohibiting people to peaceably assemble.

    And if congress can make no laws prohibiting it, law enforcement cannot enforce laws that do not exist. Therefore, law enforcement is violating the Constitutional rights of those citizens.

    end of story.

  • by isotope23 (210590)

    And this is why all those people who say "I don't mind if they snoop cause I've got nothing to hide."
    are asshats.....

  • no surprise (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wansu (846) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @06:30PM (#25306601)

    The United States is a police state. Why is anyone surprised by news like this?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by edalytical (671270)
      I'm not surprised, but here is how I feel about it: Let them watch, let them make their stupid list, its up to us to overload them with false positives. That's right I'm advocating fucking with them. Talk about drugs on the phone even if you don't use them, talk about shooting politicians, talk about bombs, the CIA, the NSA, whatever you want. Buy chemicals, buy guns, go to protest, fuckin' call them up and ask them to put you on the list. Who give a shit, they want to waste their time, fuck um waste the
      • by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @07:34PM (#25307219) Journal

        I'm not surprised, but here is how I feel about it: Let them watch, let them make their stupid list, its up to us to overload them with false positives. That's right I'm advocating fucking with them. Talk about drugs on the phone even if you don't use them, talk about shooting politicians, talk about bombs, the CIA, the NSA, whatever you want. Buy chemicals, buy guns, go to protest, fuckin' call them up and ask them to put you on the list. Who give a shit, they want to waste their time, fuck um waste their time.

        Caller: Hi, is Tony there?

        Answerer: Tony Cocaine?

        Caller: No, Tony Jones.

        Answerer: Heroin rifles blowing up New York!

        Caller: Um...

        Answerer: Bin Laden plastic explosive Tonka Trucks! Eat Presidential kidneys with Senate explosive snacks!

        Caller: I've got the wrong number, don't I?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by philspear (1142299)

      It's suprising because things like this are the exception, not the norm.

      We clearly don't live in a police state, if we did, this would not make the news, this would not make any news, just as police using fingerprinting to identify suspects does not make the news. Not to minimize the dangers of the errosion of freedom, but let's please keep it realistic, not wild-eyed "the sky is falling" or rampant cynicism endemic to /.

      If the US is a police state, then can you name a single country that isn't? If you ca

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Next categories for database:

    terrorism-does-not-watch-Fox-News
    terrorism-no-flag-pin
    terrorism-no-support-the-troops-magnet
    terrorism-fringe-person

  • Palin/Regan quote (Score:4, Insightful)

    by OldSoldier (168889) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @06:32PM (#25306627)

    Stories like this underscore my feeling about Palin's quote from the VP debate:

    "we're going to find ourselves spending our sunset years telling our children and our children's children about a time in America, back in the day, when men and women were free."

    I'm sure that the Republican's view of this is one of war/conquest and that America will lose to some foreign non-democratic state, but today the more urgent issue seems to be loss of civil liberties. Loss of freedom from expanding government power. It's the ultimate irony that the party that espouses this quote is most likely THE party that will remove all our civil liberties and turn freedom into just a memory.

    • Before launching into the predictable McCain / Palin rant and canned Republican-bashing, do just a little research: I live in Maryland. Maryland has a Democrat for a governor and our state legislature has been controlled by the Dems for the better part of 40 years. We're a solid-blue, one-party state in the truest sense of the word. We don't even get any presidential advertising because the state is such a lock for Obama (due to the huge black majorities in Baltimore City and Prince Georges County). Of

  • by Scholasticus (567646) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @06:33PM (#25306629) Journal

    Putting people who aren't terrorists and who aren't likely to become terrorists on a terrorism watch list should either be a firing offense or a criminal offense.

    I'm also in favor of criminalizing certain actions routinely carried out by law enforcement (police, prosecutors, etc.). Usually when excessive force is used by a police officer, the worst thing that happens is the officer is suspended or fired, even if the victim dies. Occasionally a police officer is fired. Even more rarely the police officer in question is charged with a crime. Also, if a prosecutor knowingly withholds exculpatory evidence, the most that happens is that the convicted person gets a new trial or is granted an appeal.

    I'll give an example of how I think things should work, though I don't know that something like this has ever happened in the United States. Let's say a prosecutor withholds possibly exculpatory evidence in order to win a case where one of the possible penalties is death. Let's also say that the person charged is found guilty, and after exhausting all appeals is put to death. The original prosecutor should be charged with murder, first degree or second degree depending on the strength of the withheld evidence. If this happens in a death penalty state and the charge is first degree murder, then the death penalty should be on the table. If the prosecution can prove beyond a reasonable doubt* that the original prosecutor knowingly withheld the exculpatory evidence then the original prosecutor should be convicted by a jury and given an appropriate sentence.

    People in law enforcement should be held to higher standards than the general public, not lower.**

    *If such a case were to occur, an independent prosecutor should be appointed, since in most jurisdictions prosecutors all know each other and aren't likely to vigorously prosecute such a case.

    **I know this isn't likely to ever happen. I simply think it would be more just than the current system.

  • by vinn01 (178295) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @06:33PM (#25306643)

    There will always be a number of people who will abuse it unless there is a penalty and a good chance of getting caught. The same with any rule, law, or system. There are many rules, laws, and systems that don't even define penalties for abuse. And the chances of getting caught abusing some of them are minuscule.

  • Classifications? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Qzukk (229616) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @06:54PM (#25306855) Journal

    Food for thought: is there an entry for "terrorism-anti-abortion protester"?

    Does the Maryland State Police throw everyone who protests into the terrorist list, or only those who protest against whatever groups or policies that certain members of the State Police like?

  • by philspear (1142299) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @07:02PM (#25306921)

    Those idiots should be a lot more worried about violent passivists, not non-violent activists. Granted, the passivists don't do much, but when they do it's a lot bloodier.

  • USA vs China (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Brain Damaged Bogan (1006835) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @07:56PM (#25307413)
    Next time there's a story about China ruling with an iron fist, look at yourselves before you go critisizing the way other governments are run. The USA is worse IMHO because they claim to be a democracy and the "land of the free". At least the Chinese aren't hypocritical and call a spade a spade.
    • Re:USA vs China (Score:4, Interesting)

      by DaMattster (977781) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @08:29PM (#25307653)
      Well, actually that is incorrect. The Chinese Government uses propaganda to call themselves quote-democratic-unquote. They can be and are just as hypocritical. There is no such thing as due process in China and you can be permanently imprisoned almost at will. If you think law enforcement is arbitrary in the USA, try life in China where sometimes outright bribery is expected. Sometimes law enforcement in China create laws just to extort money. I know, I've been there. I've had to pay all kinds of extra "protection" fees. In the USA, we still have some semblence of due process left. There is hope that Obama will overturn much of the freedoms the Bush administration forcibly took away.
  • donttasemebro (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mqduck (232646) <mqduck@m q d uck.net> on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @08:20PM (#25307587)

    Can somebody please explain to me why a man trying to form some sort of human connection with a man who's torturing and about to kill him is funny?

    I'm not saying it's *wrong* to make a joke of something like that or out of anything at all, I suppose. I guess I just don't see the irony in it. But go ahead, punish me for being Offtopic.

  • by unlametheweak (1102159) on Wednesday October 08, 2008 @08:44PM (#25307791)

    Police I doubt have the training or experience to classify people as terrorists and therefore shouldn't be putting anybody on any lists, much less law abiding people interested in peace. The police should instead be focusing on arresting violent criminals and spammers. If the police would put as much effort into prosecuting spammers as they do towards persecuting people who want to live in a peaceful world then society would be a much better place to live. The sad thing is that peace activists are the type of people who would never be allowed to join a police force.

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