Jews For The Preservation of Firearms Ownership, Inc.
P.O. Box 270143
Hartford, WI 53027
Phone (800) 869-1884
Fax (425) 451-3959
July 24, 2002
DSPs: Dangerously Stupid Persons in the War on Terrorism
If you were a conscientious citizen and you saw the makings of a bomb on someone's work bench or a plan for a terror attack on a computer screen, what would you do? Most people would report their suspicions to someone who could do something about them.
If that's what sensible people would do -- on their own -- then why does the Bush administration believe it needs an organized network of citizen-informers, controlled from Washington, D.C.?
The TIPS program (Terrorism Information and Prevention System), run by the Office of Homeland Security and the U.S. Justice Department, officially gets underway this summer. Using unions and large employers, it aims to recruit millions of delivery drivers, cable installers, utility repair people, mail carriers, and others who have access to your home or business. The federal government wants them to spy on you.
Now the truth is that the police have quietly used such people for decades. Investigators without enough evidence to get a warrant might arrange a convenient power outage so a friendly technician can be sent into your home. There he might "just happen to spot" evidence that you've been growing medical marijuana or collecting "illegal" weapons. In the small town where JPFO is located we've personally seen the sheriff go to the counter and ask for information on suspects. (The clerks never say, "Show me your subpoena"). Postal clerks have also been required for years to report various kinds of "suspicious" activity, mostly involving purchases of money orders.
So in that sense, TIPS is nothing new. And don't believe it if a Postal Service spokesperson says her agency has declined to participate. The P.O. changes its position daily on TIPS, it seems, but the fact is, postal workers are already spying on you.
DANGEROUSLY STUPID PERSONS ON PATROL
But think about what happens when millions of men and women with access to American homes are actually recruited and encouraged to spot "suspicious activity" everywhere they look. Think about what happens when the government creates a giant secret club with the meter reader as a member and you as an outsider.
Think about the TV-addled thousands who've always thought it would be cool to wear a badge and kick down doors but who didn't have the brains to get the job. Think about busybodies. Think about people who don't like you, your lifestyle, or your politics. Think about people who lead lives of quiet desperation, starving for the kind of drama and celebrity they normally get only from the National Enquirer. Think about well-meaning but misdirected Barney Fife's feeling responsible for the nation's "security." Think about people who are just plain, hysterical fools without an ounce of sense in their heads.
These are all DSPs -- Dangerously Stupid Persons. They may be harmless when left to their own devices. But when a government actively encourages them to fulfill their fantasies -- watch out.
Suddenly, these folks get to see themselves as Junior G-Men, Official Deputized Tin-Star Agents of the Guys in the White Hats.
And YOU are Bonnie and Clyde and Pretty Boy Floyd and Machine-Gun Kelly, all rolled into one. Not to mention Osama bin Laden and the head of the Cali cartel.
If you've enjoyed airport security checks conducted by arrogant, semi-educated, quasi-official agents of the government, just think how you're going to love it when they bring their "I'm with the government, I'm here to do whatever I want" act into your home or office. These people don't understand the Bill of Rights. They weren't taught about in their government schools. And they don't care two cents if they violate it -- or violate you.
YOU MIGHT BE A TARGET IF ...
Is there a reloading press on your work bench when the furnace repairman arrives? Does the telephone technician recoil upon seeing a shelf full of books from Loompanics or Paladin Press? Does the UPS driver get spooked by a disassembled AR-15 you're cleaning at the kitchen table? Does the mail carrier think you're getting too many military surplus catalogs? Do you fiddle with electronic equipment, homeschool your children, practice a non- mainstream religion, have unconventional political views or an unusual sex life?
Then you'd better be aware, beware, and be wary.
Even the American Civil Liberties Union (hardly a friend to gun owners) has pointed out that something as innocuous as possessing a gun magazine or a copy of the Koran could cause a TIPS volunteer to denounce you.
You may still think TIPS sounds innocuous. But what's being introduced now is just the TIPS of the police-state iceberg. Remember this axiom: If it's a government program, it grows.
The income tax was never going to take more than a few percent from the very richest people. Social Security was a fully funded insurance program for workers. The Great Society was going to spend a few billion dollars to wipe out poverty. And on and on.
Here's one familiar escalation example. First the government asks us nicely to wear a seatbelt. Then officers ticket you for being unbuckled, but only if they've stopped you for some other offense. Then being unbelted becomes a stopable offense by itself. And then they start throwing a few people in jail for failing to belt up. (See The State vs. the People, pps. 66-67) What next? Seize your unbelted children and throw them into foster homes?
Need more examples? Just ask a cigarette smoker where he's allowed to smoke these days. Ask a parent what happens if you don't believe in vaccinating your child. Think about the folks now angling to make it more difficult for you to buy an SUV or eat fatty foods. Or the school administrators who've had children not only suspended, but in some cases arrested, for pointing fingers and saying "bang."
This is what happens when government fosters and encourages hysteria "for your own good." This is what will inevitably happen with TIPS. But it gets even worse.
DSPS WITH GUNS
Others have noted that the TIPS program establishes a Stasi- like network of informers. (In Communist East Germany so many people were denouncing each other that the shelf space required to hold the information was measured in miles.) This is true. TIPS is the stuff of a police state.
It's also fairly obvious that thousands of foolish tips could overload investigators and cause them to overlook the next real threat.
But the most immediate danger is simply from DSPs. DSPs with badges. And DSPs who fantasize about having badges.
If you want to see a preview of the War on Terrorism, U.S.A. under the TIPS program, just look at the War on Drugs and the way drug warriors misuse informants.
- In Houston, a drunk trying to save himself from being busted, tells police he can show them the home of a big drug dealer. Without further investigation, the cops smash in and kill Pedro Oregon Navarro, an innocent man. (See The State vs. the People, pg. 216)
- In Dinuba, California, a rural town with a SWAT team but very little crime, an informant tells police a weapon used in an attempted murder might be in a certain house. In the middle of the night, Dinuba's finest burst in and machine-gun 64-year- old Ramon Gallardo to death. The informant was lying. (See The State vs. the People, pg. 309)
We could recount incidents like these all day -- incidents in which police act without checking, without good sense, and without mercy, egged on by self-interested, self-glorifying, payoff-seeking citizen informants.
Now think about what happens when TIPS expands to _pay_ citizen informants for providing evidence of terrorism (as is now done in the Drug War and by the IRS, among other notorious instances). Think about someone who doesn't like you or who wants to make a buck planting evidence in your home or on your computer. Think about some repairman spotting a controversial item in your possession and shaking you down ("Hey buddy, a hundred bucks and I'll forget I saw a thing.") Think about some busybody selling information about you to the police or FBI. History and reality say it'll happen -- and it'll look very familiar when it does.
War on Terrorism? War on Drugs? Who cares what you call it, as long as it beefs up the budgets of law enforcement agencies, builds government power, demolishes that pesky and inconvenient Bill of Rights, and pumps up the egos (and perhaps eventually the wallets) of a nation of citizen-informants.
AND WAIT'LL THEY GET BOMBS AND AIRCRAFT
Now the Bush administration proposes to junk, or at least weaken, the Posse Comitatus Act, the 124-year-old law that keeps the military out of domestic law enforcement (http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/nation/1503195). The major difference between the military and the police is that police are trained (at least in theory) to protect and serve citizens while soldiers are trained to kill the enemy. Remember Kent State?
Consider what happens when TIPS is combined with domestic military operations. You don't have to look far. Just look at Afghanistan.
U.S. airstrikes in that sad country have killed hundreds of innocent civilians. Last month an airstrike wiped out 50 people at a wedding party. This isn't merely a tragic, but unpreventable, side-effect of war. This is a combination of the "shoot first, ask questions later" mentality and the uninformed use of informants. One Afghani warlord with a grudge comes to the Americans and tells them, "Oh, big Al Quaeda operation going on here" -- when in fact it's merely a rival warlord's family reunion. Boom! The Americans roar in with full firepower.
Shall we say, "Coming soon to a neighborhood near you?" It might if the Bush administration gets its way on Posse Comitatus and someone has a grudge against you or misinterprets your actions.
TIPS ON TIPS: EDUCATE YOURSELF TO REDUCE YOUR RISK
Whether your greatest fear is short-term danger from deputized busybodies or the long-term (and ever increasing) danger that your beloved country is becoming a police state, TIPS is a step in the wrong direction.
Even if the program is officially killed by Congress, chances are, it won't go away. To avoid falling victim to some Junior J. Edgar, cross your fingers, use a lot of common sense, and take simple precautions like these:
- Don't buy a lot of money orders for cash (at the post office or any financial service company)
- Clean house regularly. Don't leave cartridges, controversial books, firearms, political pamphlets, religious tracts, knife collections, electronics, storage foods, or anything more controversial than a picture of your Aunt Nellie in plain sight -- or hidden where a repair person might stumble across it.
- Become as energy self-sufficient as possible so utility workers will have little reason to come to your home.
- Install your own phone lines so the phone company has no reason to be on your property.
- Receive mail and packages at a post office box or mail service so no delivery person ever has to come to your home.
- Behave yourself with impeccable discretion in all public places, including on public transportation, in taxis, and .... well, everywhere.
- Do maintenance checks on your home and replace old or faulty equipment to reduce the need for emergency calls to plumbers, electricians, firefighters or anyone else.
It isn't pleasant to have to live this way. But as long as DSPs are turned loose upon the nation by government mandate, sensible people have to act extra sensibly to survive.
Unfortunately, things may have to get much worse before they get better. As long as Americans can fool themselves into believing that unjust accusations, midnight raids, detentions without charges, and all abuses of freedom happen only to "the other guy," they'll tolerate anything. Only when their own ox is gored -- as the TIPS program may eventually gore it -- will a majority stand up and demand restoration of a Bill of Rights culture.
As Ben Franklin said, we have a republic -- if we can keep it. We should all look in the mirror and ask ourselves how much we really want to keep it and what we're willing to do to prevent it from being taken away by DSPs and their government handlers.
To learn more about TIPS, visit JPFO's Unpopular Speech Page (http://www.jpfo.org/unpopularspeech.htm). Scroll down and read "I'm Happy to Spy for America," by Charles Laurence, "Yes, A Million Tipsters Can be Wrong," by J.R. Labbe, and "Monitor Thy Neighbor," by Rep. Ron Paul.
To get the big picture on what's happening to our once-free America, read The State vs People by Claire Wolfe and Aaron Zelman (http://www.jpfo.org/tsvtp.htm)
"Are the FBI's New Guidelines Police-State Policies?" Consider the article by Richard W. Stevens, attorney at law, and decide for yourself. (http://www.jpfo.org/fbirules.htm)
Did our parents fight fascism so we could establish a police state on our own shores? Read "An Open Letter to Our Fathers and Grandfathers: You Won the Battle but Lost the War." (http://www.jpfo.org/veterans.htm)
America is in distress! "The Upside-Down Flag" shows one way you can alert your friends and neigbors to our danger. (http://www.jpfo.org/alert20020628.htm)
What would America be like if it had a real Bill of Rights culture? Hope by Aaron Zelman and L. Neil Smith will inspire you. (http://www.jpfo.org/hope.htm)
The Liberty Crew
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