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In his 2002 state-of-the-union speech, George W issued a clarion call for Americans to join in a newly-created program he called TIPS: Terrorism Information and Prevention System.
This silly and uniquely un-American program was to recruit millions of Americans to spy on… well, each other. Letter carriers, utility workers, repair crews, your cable guy, and others with access to our homes were enlisted to report any activity they considered “suspicious.” Luckily, the great majority of Americans are way too independent-minded and level headed to sign up as government snoops and snitches, so TIPS was hooted down by the public and eventually killed by congress.
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But – Be careful out there! – the TIPS mentality still survives in too many of our federal, state, and local police operations, which have implemented a myriad of “watch” programs around the country. An “Eyes on the Water” program in Ohio, for example, urges boaters to report anyone “not wearing the right gear,” while a Michigan “River Watch” program eerily sports the slogan, “Be our eyes and ears so we can calm your fears.” Similar silliness goes on under such names at “CAT eyes,” “Real Estate Watch,” and “Eagle-Eyes.”
The homeland security department has issued materials warning citizens to be on the lookout for people who don’t fit in, such as any “beggar, demonstrator, shoe shiner… or flower vendor,” saying they could be a terrorist in disguise. In addition, proving that there is no limit to security silliness, Bush’s Citizen Corps has published a “preparedness guide” instructing us not only to report any suspicious-looking people to the FBI, but also to “keep your yard clean” and “prune shrubbery.” Remember, declares the guide, “Homeland security starts at home.”
This is Jim Hightower saying… The first step toward real security is not to watch our neighbors, but keep an unblinking eye on any agency of government that insists on watching us.
“The Surveillance-Industrial Complex: How the American Government is