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Tennessee Official: Water Complaints Could be "Act of Terrorism" 407

An anonymous reader writes "A Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation deputy director is threatening citizens with being listed as terrorists for giving official complaints. Sherwin Smith, deputy director of TDEC’s Division of Water Resources said: 'But you need to make sure that when you make water quality complaints you have a basis, because federally, if there's no water quality issues, that can be considered under Homeland Security an act of terrorism.' 'In terms of the comments made by a member of the Water Resources Division at the meeting, we are just receiving the information and looking into this on our end,' spokeswoman Meg Lockhart said. 'The department would like to fully assess what was said in the meeting. I am told that the meeting was far longer than the audio clip provided by SOCM and that Mr. Smith actually clarified his remarks. But again, we are looking into it.'"
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Tennessee Official: Water Complaints Could be "Act of Terrorism"

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  • Scare tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by memnock ( 466995 ) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:02PM (#44086241)

    The government's number one tool in the fight against terrorism.

    • by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:18PM (#44086419)
      The violators will be subjected to interrogration by the newly-established Federal Water Board. After federal water boarding, they'll be shipped to Gitmo.
      • Re:Scare tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <> on Sunday June 23, 2013 @05:49PM (#44087655) Journal

        Nah if its like the rest of the south they'll be locked up in a shithole of a county jail, with wires hanging down and shit falling apart, but it cost the taxpayers millions thanks to good old boy politics, aka massive corruption.

        Sadly the whole south is full of little fiefdoms that are corrupt as hell. I had a bud that flew drug interdiction for the USAF and they used to have jokes like "Why does the sheriff of (insert county) bust so many meth labs? because he doesn't want the competition!" rimshot. The feds know this but they know if they were to bust all of the corrupt cops you would end up having to use the National Guard because in a lot of these places you wouldn't have enough cops left to maintain the peace. My USAF friend said ANY fed could find out if a local police force was corrupt by just 30 minutes of looking at the land deeds, why? You'll find tons of pine forests owned by the cops or close relatives of the cops...because pine trees put out enough heat to foil their infrared scans.

        I have lived my entire life in the south and one thing you learn, if you get on "the right side" of the local politicians and cops? You have nothing to worry about ever. You try stepping on their toes, rocking the boat? they can turn your world into shit REAL quick, you'd be surprised how many laws are on the books in your average state they can use against you.

        • Re:Scare tactics (Score:5, Interesting)

          by cusco ( 717999 ) <> on Sunday June 23, 2013 @05:58PM (#44087703)
          Nothing new here, Alcohol prohibition was enforced by police against the cop's competitors 'way back when my grandfather's uncle got his still smashed in the 1920s. The funniest thing to me is that most small town residents that I've known think that there's no official corruption in their community, that it's just a problem for the 'big cities'.
          • Re:Scare tactics (Score:5, Informative)

            by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <> on Sunday June 23, 2013 @07:55PM (#44088213) Journal

            Hell it was frankly better in the old days, as at least then the cops were "honest" in their corruption. My mom worked at a truck stop when she was a teen and she said every week, you could set your watch by it, the local sheriff would come in to have a meal...and leave with an envelope that more or one of the other servers were told to stick under the plate before handing it to him. But she said you didn't get all this head cracking hassling teens bullshit because all the cops cared about was making sure you didn't tear up shit or act crazy and hurt somebody, a far cry from the 'roid monsters you get nowadays.

            And for the dumbass AC that said "Oh well, nothing illegal about cops owning pine forests"? If you have a pine forest that is practically NEVER harvested, isn't making squat compared to what that same rich land would make if you used it for something else, yet in county after county you see the cops ALL have the exact same setup? Well it don't take Kojack to solve the case of the peculiar pine forest,especially when you know that the longer and bigger you allow a pine forest to get the more it throws off DEA infrared. my USAF buddy said you could have both meth labs and underground pot farms in those and the DEA won't be able to spot it because the pines just put off too much heat.

    • Re:Scare tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:24PM (#44086463) Homepage Journal

      The government's number one tool in the fight against terrorism.

      I hate to say it, but by definition, the only way for terrorism to work is for people to be terrified.

      If the People would grow a backbone again, and stop being terrified, no matter if it's salafi jihadists or government propagandists who are attempting the scaring, then there could be no terrorism. War's over, let's pack up and go home.

      A skiddish populous is the #1 tool in the effort that has been misnamed the "War on Terror".

      • Re:Scare tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:34PM (#44086549)
        Better to live a single day as a lion than a thousand years as a lamb.
      • Re:Scare tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:40PM (#44086623) Homepage Journal
        The easiest way to always have terrorists is to create them.
        • True enough, but you're really scraping the bottom of the barrel if you putative scary monsters come from people complaining about government services. Who's next? People who don't pay parking tickets?


          • Re:Scare tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

            by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @03:02PM (#44086783) Homepage Journal

            personally I'm waiting for them to label schoolyard bullies as terrorists since obviously they're terrorizing people and the law must be the same for everyone - no exceptions(exept gov.)!

            • by fredgiblet ( 1063752 ) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @04:16PM (#44087213)
              They're already suspending kids for gun-shaped pop-tarts, it seems like bullies should be higher on their lists than that.
            • Re:Scare tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @05:05PM (#44087455)

              Not a chance that'll happen. In America, we like bullies, and we make fun of people who are their victims. Just look at what happens every time a bullying incidents develops to the point that some poor kid kills him/herself. Americans worship assholes. We might say a few nice-sounding words against bullies once in a while, but we'll never do anything to actually fix the problem, nor will we ever hold bullies accountable for their behavior.

              It's just like how we worship sociopathic business owners, and defend thier unethical and even dangerous behavior, and anyone who complains about them is blackballed in the industry. Whistleblowers (for instance, people who go to the government to stop a business owner whose practices will get someone killed through negligence) are seen as "rats", and will never get another job.

      • Re:Scare tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

        by HiThere ( 15173 ) <{ten.knilhtrae} {ta} {nsxihselrahc}> on Sunday June 23, 2013 @03:47PM (#44087073)

        Given what you say, it's the government that are the terrorists.

        The government is the entity that decided that the people were afraid. The governments actions have caused me to be afraid...of the government.

    • Re:Scare tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

      by milkmage ( 795746 ) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:36PM (#44086579)

      there may be some foundation though.. remember the "dihydrogen monoxide" prank those Florida DJs pulled on April Fools.

      possible felony charges (of course this was radio, so that's understandable because of the panic they caused)

      the charges never materialized. []

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Here's where my imagination runs wild - I mean what I'm about to post is pure fiction:

      Somewhere near this town, some very well connected industry and industrialist is polluting the water.

      Now, a rich and powerful person who makes a lot of campaign contributions can order his bitch to order the state bureaucrat to hide the problem to intimidate people to shut up. I think it's called racketeering.

      Because after all, it's not like corrupt government officials in Tennessee have ever tried to screw over their ci []

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by justthinkit ( 954982 )
        With 96% of TN fluoridated [], you don't have to invent a situation where "some very well connected industry and industrialist is polluting the water."

        Is it going to become illegal to protest the government/city/county poisoning the water?

        • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @04:12PM (#44087191)
          We can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.

          You know when fluoridation first began?

          Nineteen hundred and forty-six. 1946. How does that coincide with your post-war Commie conspiracy, huh? It's incredibly obvious, isn't it? A foreign substance is introduced into our precious bodily fluids without the knowledge of the individual. Certainly without any choice. That's the way your hard-core Commie works.
    • Re:Scare tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mc6809e ( 214243 ) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @03:11PM (#44086841)

      The government's number one tool in the fight against terrorism.

      Is to terrorize innocent people with threats of imprisonment?

  • This has to end.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mister Transistor ( 259842 ) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:03PM (#44086249) Journal

    Welcome to the new McCarthyism. Any time you do anything "they" don't like, you're a ter'ist...

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by erroneus ( 253617 )

      While I generally agree with the concept, there's one problem with McCarthyism you may have missed.

      Turns out, after a lot of documents from the era and before have revealed, Russia and the communist movement actually DID have widespread influence over the US government. The results have been quite visible. For example, one obvious result is that "the people" have this ridiculous notion that the government is "here to protect them."

      The federal government is not here to "protect us." It is charged with the

      • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

        The purpose of the Federal Government is to guarantee and secure our freedom and rights. Of course this asshole and most others in the Fed have lost sight of this.

        • Of course this asshole and most others in the Fed have lost sight of this.

          SMH. RTFA. Hell, RTFS: "Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation deputy director...not a federal official.

          Anti-federalists who think that state governments would guarantee and secure our freedom and rights if we just got the feds out of the way, would be amusing if they were not dangerously ignorant of history, law, and fact.

          • by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @03:27PM (#44086961)

            I don't give a shit about him. The Federal Government's job is to guarantee and secure our freedoms and rights. That's the purpose of the Constitution which is supposed to be the basis for all Federal law. From all enemies both foreign and DOMESTIC. Including the dickhead from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

        • Re:This has to end.. (Score:5, Informative)

          by minstrelmike ( 1602771 ) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @03:44PM (#44087061)

          The purpose of the Federal Government is to guarantee and secure our freedom and rights. Of course this asshole and most others in the Fed have lost sight of this.

          Let me see if I've got this straight. Other people and the government (which is apparently a different thang than 'other people') are the ones who are supposed to protect each and every one of us against other people and the government taking away our rights?

          There's a reason I think the term 'rights' is pretty much just philosophic bullshit.
          Pretend you're an analyst trying to define the requirement of rights for a society. Splain how that would work.

      • Re:This has to end.. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Truekaiser ( 724672 ) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:52PM (#44086705)

        No, they were unfounded.
        The 'documents' you're referring to are the venona intercepts.
        You can read them here. []
        It had nothing to do with undermining the entire U.S. Government as McCarthy was paranoid about.
        It was about Our government trying to find soviet spys who were only here for one thing. To get information on the atomic bomb.
        If you actually knew the history of the time, there was a short period where the united states was the only actor to have nuclear weaponry and everyone wanted it.

  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot.hackish@org> on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:04PM (#44086257)

    Citizen complaints sometimes terrify people!

  • by folderol ( 1965326 ) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:11PM (#44086337) Homepage
    yet every time I think officialdom can't get any more stupid, they go and prove me wrong... again!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:12PM (#44086355)

    Sherwin Smith should be fired immediately. If I threatened my customers, my boss would rightfully fire me on the spot.

    • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:24PM (#44086459)

      Sherwin Smith should be fired immediately. If I threatened my customers, my boss would rightfully fire me on the spot.

      Public agencies utilities don't have "customers", they have "captive consumers". You can threaten them or piss them off all you want, they have no choice but to keep buying your product or paying taxes at whatever price you set.

    • by macraig ( 621737 )

      Actually he'd promote you, if the threats worked.

    • by stephanruby ( 542433 ) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @05:03PM (#44087443)

      Sherwin Smith should be fired immediately.

      And did you notice? Just before that quote, Sherwin Smith had said that all the people who originally complained had backed down once he gave them a phone call, so they didn't have to do any water testing. In light of the terrorist comment, it's now obvious what he told them to make them back down.

      This guy shouldn't just be fired. He should be put on leave on absence and he should be investigated for possible criminal negligence. And all the complaints he received should be re-investigated by an impartial third party.

      If someone, that had formally complained, now dies because this guy didn't want to test the water, it will be his head and the heads of any of his superiors that support him, that will roll because of their willful negligence.

  • by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:13PM (#44086359) Journal

    This is no doubt the sort of horrifying terrorist plot the NSA telephone surveillance program has been so successful foiling. Thank good we has such dedicated protectors to save us from the terrorists.

  • If the citizen was making false complaints to Homeland Security, that would be actionable, but this is TDEC complaining to HS that the citizen is a terrorist. IMHO, this would render the TDEC official the person wasting Staatssicherheit's time with a false complaint. If that's terrorism, then Mr. Smith is encouraging and/or procuring terrorism by having his staff make the reports.
  • People abusing "terrorism" for bullshitting society are a terrorist threat to society themselves.
    Cars kill more people, smoking kills more people, alcohol kills more people.
    Educate the sheep. Stop this bullshit.

  • by schwit1 ( 797399 ) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:35PM (#44086557)

    This government official needs to be brought up on charges of making verbal threats and abuse of power.

  • by kawabago ( 551139 ) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:35PM (#44086569)
    Any civil servant threatening terrorism charges for complaints from the public should be immediately fired. He/she does not have the public interest at heart.
  • This water quality official is projecting his frustration onto the people he is supposed to serve. If he can't do his job, he should resign. Instead, he's trying to play the terrorist card. Embarrassed by this outrage, his superiors have gone into damage control mode saying his remarks were taken out of context and that he later clarified his position.

    Wow. Is this what we have to look forward to?

  • by naasking ( 94116 ) <> on Sunday June 23, 2013 @03:10PM (#44086831) Homepage

    And this is why we should fear how much the government should be allowed to intrude into our lives. Because who knows what sort of low-level bitter bureaucrat may just take a disliking to you, and end up abusing government powers.

  • ... would be to fire Sherwin Smith immediately. There is no context for this kind of outrageous behavior. Then hire someone who will be more positive about making the water better.

  • Abuse of authority (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tarellel ( 863902 )
    Talk about a massive abuse of authority, it's getting ridiculous how anything that the government doesn't agree with or makes them look bad and they'll use terrorism as excuse to indefinitely detain, control, and slander you.
  • by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @03:35PM (#44087009) Homepage

    If there's several simultaneous valid complaints alleging something like a serious illness, the water system may have to be shut down while it's tested or risk spread of a contamination. We've had that happen several times where I live (and I live in a major metropolitan area) when initial tests have shown a possible bacterial problem and they've needed several days for comprehensive tests to tell whether there really is a problem or not. I'd be outraged if a single complaint would have them labeling the complainant a terrorist, but I suspect the missing context is that they're discussing concerted multiple reports filed with the intent of forcing a shutdown and possibly where the complainants are aware they don't have a reasonable basis for the complaints (think anti-fluoridation kooks wanting to "send a message").

I am more bored than you could ever possibly be. Go back to work.