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John Mahoney's Free-fire Zone
John Mahoney
John Mahoney
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is editor of the Log Cabin Chronicles.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 07.15.02
Fool's Hollow, Quebec

JOHN MAHONEY

The Era of the Patriot Tipster

The Bush Administration is busily tapping into that repressive predisposition that has been part of the American psyche since the Puritans landed at Plymouth Rock.

The control freaks -- those who would forbid everything except that which they permit -- have sometimes been in charge, and at times lacked power.

But, generation to generation, they have always been with us.

Now, once again, they will get their kick at the can.

Starting in August, 2002 the US government will create a cadre of one million civilian spies for "homeland security."

These volunteer spies will be operatives of the Terrorism Information and Prevention System: Operation TIPS.

Tipsters, if you will.

Sound familiar?

Do you remember the grubby network of state security spies in the former communist state of East Germany -- the Stasi? Neighbor spying on neighbor, family members turning each other in for imagined traitorous insults to the State?

The US Justice Department envisions four percent of Americans functioning as Patriot Tipsters.

That certainly will go a long way towards making the world safe for democracy and free enterprise (à la Enron, Global Crossing, WorldCom).

Here's the deal:

  • TIPS is a nationwide program that will give "millions of American truck drivers, bus drivers, train conductors, mail carriers, utility readers, ship captains, port personnel, and others a formal way to report suspicious terrorist activity."

  • You'll get an "Operation TIPS information decal…with a toll-free reporting number."

  • Your hot tip will be fielded and routed to the appropriate agency for assessment and possible action, and thence into a national database.
What an incredible opportunity for abuse.

What better way to 'get even' with that schmuck down the block who lets his dog crap on your lawn, that jerk who cuts you off in traffic?

Not to mention people of middle eastern background, membership in a mosque, non-white skin, long hair, those espousing unpopular opinions…

Everyone becomes the 'other' and is thus fair game for vigilant Tipsters doing their best to win the war against terrorism.

And once your name is in that database, for whatever reason, do you think you will be able to get it struck off?

You can get involved here at the Citizen Corps website.

First , you'll get your Patriot Tipster decal and the toll-free number, next your official Tipster ID cards (with photograph, of course), and then perhaps a system of Gold Stars, Certificates (a grateful nation thanks you), and bronze, silver, and gold plaques (rated by quantity and quality of tips).

It would be funny if it weren't so scary.

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