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Op-Ed: Why a government program could be labeling you as a terrorist

By Alex Allen     Jul 16, 2014 in Politics
Five men in California are finally standing up against the government's 'Suspicious Activity Reporting' initiative, an Orwellian counter-terrorism program that has, until now, been overlooked by both mainstream and alternative media.
An 85-year-old photographer in California is claiming in a lawsuit against the Obama Administration that he was falsely targeted by the FBI after taking pictures of the Rainbow Swash, a piece of artwork on a 140-foot tall storage tank in Boston. To the average person, the idea that the FBI or any federal agency would so carelessly classify people as exhibiting 'suspicious behavior' is probably pretty crazy. But to anyone who knows the history of the Suspicious Activity Reporting program, it's just another example of the Orwellian nature of United States counter-terrorism efforts.
Since the attacks on September 11th, 2001 the FBI and DHS have been releasing information to citizens and local police departments on what they should be looking for and reporting with regards to potential terrorist activity. What's interesting, however, is how loosely they define "suspicious activity." For example, I wrote an article early last year that was picked up by several news outlets, which pointed out a document in which the federal agencies listed possession of coffee grinders and goggles as potential terrorist activity.
An article I wrote last year here on Digital Journal shows an unclassified report from November 2012 in which the National Counter Terrorism Center claims that urban exploration, a popular hobby among photographers and sketch artists, should be closely monitored as potentially "suspicious" activity.
Even more bone-chilling is the fact that this program goes much deeper. Counter-terrorism agencies in the United States have even gone so far as to label certain political groups, gun owners, veterans, and animal rights activists as terrorists. The Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point has labeled "conspiracy theorists" who believe in the New World Order as potential terrorists in their report "Understanding America's Violent Far Right."
The Department of Justice has even gotten on the "See Something, Say Something" bandwagon with their terms and concepts manual for investigating "terrorism and criminal extremism." In the manual, they label the Gun Owners of America organization as an "extremely radical" group, claiming that Larry Pratt has ties to the militia and white supremacist movements. Also mentioned in this manual are "Christian Patriots," proponents of gold and silver currency and The Constitution Party.
"So what?" you might ask. If the government is labeling you as a terrorist because you belong to a certain political party or because you take pictures, what does it really matter? The problem lies not only with the fact that this could go on a person's permanent record, making it difficult for them to even get a job in the future but also with the fact that, in America, anyone suspected of terrorism can now be indefinitely detained without a trial. If you thought that clause in the NDAA was just for Al Qaeda members, you might be sadly mistaken.
So is there some sort of hidden agenda or conspiracy to attack certain groups of people with 'terrorist' labels and possibly detain them eventually? Some people would undoubtedly argue that that is the case. But what's certain is the fact that this Suspicious Activity Reporting has gotten way out of control and must be stopped before it spirals off into a dystopian America, the likes of which George Orwell, Ray Bradbury or Alex Jones could not even begin to have predicted.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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