I just read an op ed in Newsday by Ray Lemoine. Ray LeMoine is co-author, with Jeff Neumann and Donovan Webster, of Babylon by Bus, an account of LeMoine and Neumann's experiences working for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.
He points out that he had just spent six months working and traveling in the Islamic world -- Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Pakistan -- so that he wasn't surprised when the Department of Homeland Security agents took him aside to question him. What did they want to know about? Copyright infringement related to t-shirt sales.
No, these frontline warriors in the global war on terrorism at Homeland Security had far more pressing issues to question me about. "Why did you infringe on the Boston Celtics' copyright in Boston in 2003?" asked my case officer, Malik - ironically a Pakistani - from behind his high desk. Uh, because I used to sell T-shirts outside sporting events, I said, wondering what this had to do with national security.
"You've got a long record," he said. Sure, for peddling "Yankees Suck" T-shirts - sans permit, which isn't a crime but a code violation - not for promoting "Bin Laden Rulz!" DVDs or the "Idiot's Guide to Suicide Bombing."
They also had information on a dispute with a parking attendant in New York. Apparently, the NYPD now feels the need to share basically all of everyone's record of police contact with the DHS. Do you think they can really process the amount of information they're given? Are the feds really in charge of policing all behavior now?
Homeland Security, the $40-billion-a-year agency set up to combat terrorism after 9/11, has been given universal jurisdiction and can hold anyone on Earth for crimes unrelated to national security - even me for a court date I missed while I was in Iraq helping America deter terror - without asking what I had been doing in Pakistan among Islamic extremists the agency is designated to stop.
Instead, some of its actions are erasing the lines of jurisdiction between local police and the federal state, scarily bringing the words "police" and "state" closer together. As long as we allow Homeland Security to act like a Keystone Stasi, terrorism will continue to win in destroying our freedom.