This past Thursday I was invited by the group World Can't Wait to talk about impeachment and Bush's preparations for war against Iran at a Philadelphia rally--part of the group's Oct. 5 "Drive Out the Bush Regime" campaign of 170 such rallies around the country. Assembled on the mall in front of the Rizzo Municipal Offices building in central Philadelphia in front of me were some 300 people, mostly young, and all well-behaved, if high spirited.
While I was talking about the Bush administration's impeachable crimes against the American people and the Constitution--in particularly the ramming through Congress of a bill that, for the first time since American patriots drove the British out of the 13 colonies, authorizes indefinite detainment without charge and imprisonment of American citizens without the right to a trial--I noticed two men in sunglasses with a high-quality video camera and a high-quality still camera with telephoto lense filming the assembled crowd.
Lindorff goes on to say that the men refused to identify themselves and kept filming him as he asked for identification and protested the intimidation. He then tells us this:
Inspector Robert Tucker, who heads the counter-terrorism task force of the Philadelphia Police Department, confirmed in a phone conversation the next day that the two men with the cameras were working for him. He apologized for their lack of identification, and for their unwillingness to identify themselves, promising that at future public events, they and others doing that kind of work would wear prominent identification showing they were with the police. But he insisted that their work was appropriate.
Then Lindorff makes this observation:
What makes this whole thing feel particularly creepy is the anti-terrorism bill just passed by a Congress of supine Republicans and cowardly Democrats, which gives the president the authority, on his own, to call anyone an "unlawful combatant," or a supporter of terrorism, and to lock them away in a military brig with no right to a trial or even a lawyer. When you put this police surveillance in that context, it becomes intimidating indeed.
There are more details in the article if you have time to read it. It is creepy. It's especially creepy when you realize that detention centers are being built by Halliburton even now. Supposedly they are for illegal aliens (Why imprison them? Why not just deport them?) but what's to stop the centers from being used to imprison political dissenters? Given the very broad and vague definition in the bill mentioned above of "unlawful combatant" the possibility is not so far-fetched.