Thursday, March 02, 2006

Illegal Spying

Out of curiosity, I went to the ACLU website and found this article. It is listed with all their articles about NSA spying and how it's all illegal. What I don't understand is how this woman believes that she is a target of illegal spying. What do you think?

Statement - Caitlin Childs, Target of Illegal Spying

Many people express shock upon learning that I have been the subject of surveillance by Homeland Security. What could I have possibly done that would make government officials see me as a threat to national security, they ask. The answer? I joined a peaceful protest on public property outside the Honey Baked Ham store on Buford Highway in DeKalb County, Georgia. I was arrested after that protest for taking down the license plate number of the car belonging to the homeland security agent who had been photographing us all day.

I wish I could say being spied on and arrested by homeland security came as a shock to me, but unfortunately it did not. As an activist and an organizer for animal rights for the past eight years, being spied on, harassed and falsely arrested is something that I have come to expect.

I don't think that the public really understands what happens to innocent people who exercise their right to protest. No government ever likes dissent, but the Bush administration has escalated domestic spying and further limited free speech rights - all under the guise of "national security." For evidence, one has to look no further than the advent of "free-speech zones" and protest pens that keep the face of dissent far away from the main event, or the mass arrests in New York during the Republic National Convention. This crackdown on protest has a serious chilling effect on dissent. You can bet some people are going to think twice before going out to protest if they fear they'll end up in jail.

This is not democracy.

I refuse to live in fear of what could happen for speaking out and fighting for the things in which I believe. We learn as young children that freedom of speech is a fundamental right guaranteed in America. The government officials currently in power seem to have forgotten that important lesson.

In many ways, it is a compliment to me that homeland security would be interested in my activities -- if they are paying attention I must be doing something right! I will continue to be an activist, to speak out for animals, for social justice and against government repression. It is vital that we refuse to be bullied or scared into submission and inaction. We must hold our government accountable for its abuse of power and disregard for the Constitution.
As far as I can tell from her account there was possibly a Homeland Security agent observing a protest outside a Honey Baked Ham store, but she gives no proof that this person was 1) spying on her, in particular or 2) that they were actually an agent of Homeland Security or 3) that she was arrested because she took down a license plate number (which is not illegal nor would she be arrested for it). What she also fails to mention is that if it was a Homeland Security Agent, they were more than likely at the state level, but I highly doubt that the state or Federal Office of Homeland Security would care one way or the other about a protest against people eating ham! Chances are, if there was someone taking note of the people protesting, it was the local cops. They are supposed to keep an eye on any situation that could get out of hand and where people could possibly be injured, you know "protect and serve". (Local police will often attend protests no matter how small or insignificant because they do not want any problems.) My opinion is that she was like many of these Peta, environmental, anti-war protestors...nasty, obnoxious and very mouthy. More than likely she was arrested for verbal abuse or for blocking a public pathway. Maybe I'm naive, but I didn't see proof here or in other of their stories that I read, claiming they were spied on. Here's an assertion by a lawyer, Nancy Hollander:
The oldest privilege within the common law tradition on which this country was founded is the attorney-client privilege. A client has every right to believe that what he or she tells a lawyer in confidence will be secure. But now there is every indication that the government has listened to conversations I have had with my clients both here and abroad. My practice requires that I speak with lawyers living abroad, with witnesses and experts around the world. I no longer use the telephone, fax or email to communicate with clients, lawyers, witnesses, experts in any of my cases that involve terrorist related charges. I must travel the world to represent my clients as they have the right to be represented–zealously within the bounds of the law and with their confidences and my work-product protected.
Every indication? That doesn't sound like proof. That doesn't even sound like she knows for sure. It sounds more like she is paranoid. I have no doubt that there was a lot of spying and photo-taking in the '60s and '70s because of Viet Nam and Nixon, but do these people really think that they are that important? The way the articles are written says more that they are self-aggrandizing for attention and chanting the anti-Bush, anti-government mantras of the ACLU-loving left. I will admit that I didn't read all of the articles because after the fifth one with only speculation and paranoia and without actual proof, I gave up.

Tags: ACLU, NSA, spying, protests

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