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Police State, take one step forward.
June 29, 2008 8:51 PM   Subscribe

Hundreds of police, firefighters, paramedics and even utility workers have been trained and recently dispatched as "Terrorism Liaison Officers" in Colorado and a handful of other states to hunt for "suspicious activity" — and are reporting their findings into secret government databases.
posted by Mr_Zero (57 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Nice work with the Kip Hawley tag.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 9:10 PM on June 29, 2008


So roughly 100,000 people are raped, and 20,000 are murdered EVERY YEAR . We have one terrorist attack that kills 3,000 in a single year and we divert trained police officers from protecting us from real threats to spy on imagined ones?

Great. Just Great.
posted by Parallax.Error at 9:18 PM on June 29, 2008 [15 favorites]


hmm, liaison: "communication for establishing and maintaining mutual understanding and cooperation (as between parts of an armed force)." This is a significant change in our terrorism policy—apparently we're supposed to cooperate with the terrorists now!

either that or we're supposed to use the terrorists to thicken stews.
posted by chrominance at 9:21 PM on June 29, 2008


[devil's advocate]
Well, this is a great way to keep an eye out for terrorist activity. Cops where I live get a lot of information from cab drivers and sometimes even borrow their cars for unmarked patrol.

If this is supplemented with a effective and fair filtering system and consistent external monitoring it will do little harm.
[/devil's advocate]

On the other hand, yes, it sounds creepy. But still a long way away from an underground army of Stasi Informants.
posted by CynicalKnight at 9:23 PM on June 29, 2008


Can I make a confession? I don't even fucking care anymore. I know, it's terrible, you don't have to tell me. You couldn't make me feel worse about myself than I already do. But it's true. I've given up. I've come to the realization that freedom in a democracy is bullshit because it's only as good as the quality of the citizenry and the evil will always do a better job of manipulating the deficient because manipulating people and subverting their wills to private ends is a basically evil way to behave. At this point I look at the government the same way I look at car crashes and cancer and tornadoes. There's next to fuck all I can do about them so I just hope that I escape getting fucked over by them by luck.
posted by nanojath at 9:26 PM on June 29, 2008 [20 favorites]


Yeah, but the average sentence for a terrorism conviction is considerably less than for rape or murder (or even most drug or weapons crimes), so they're really just doing their part to ease prison crowding.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:28 PM on June 29, 2008


On the other hand, yes, it sounds creepy. But still a long way away from an underground army of Stasi Informants.

Sounds like some really solid leads.

• Thefts of copper that could be used in bomb-making.

More likely selling it as scrap.

• Graffiti showing a man holding an AK-47 rifle.

Seriously?

• Men filming the Dillon dam that holds Denver's water.

I hope they found those guys and freedom boarded the truth out of them.

Listed under things they are supposed to watch for;

uses binoculars or cameras, takes measurements, draws

Pretty fucking scary in my book.
posted by Mr_Zero at 9:31 PM on June 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


nanojath writes: Can I make a confession? I don't even fucking care anymore.

"...But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother."
posted by anifinder at 9:44 PM on June 29, 2008 [6 favorites]


Man, some days don't you miss old style McCarthyism? The airports were at least OK back then.

A Civil War, two World Wars and a Cold War all failed to seriouisly damage the US Constitution. But 20 guys and a few planes coupled with George Bush and Dick Cheney and it's all been thrown away.
posted by sien at 9:46 PM on June 29, 2008 [9 favorites]


nanojath, come to Europe. We still believe in liberalism and democracy here.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:49 PM on June 29, 2008


You're missing a "STAZI" tag.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:54 PM on June 29, 2008


Fuck you brown tourists!
posted by Artw at 10:00 PM on June 29, 2008


But still a long way away from an underground army of Stasi Informants.

It seems like it's getting a little closer every day.
posted by homunculus at 10:01 PM on June 29, 2008


I've come to the realization that freedom in a democracy is bullshit because it's only as good as the quality of the citizenry and the evil will always do a better job of manipulating the deficient because manipulating people and subverting their wills to private ends is a basically evil way to behave.

But that's always been true. The 'democracy' of the American and French Revolutions were worlds apart even at the beginning; which one was more egalitarian?

Freedom of speech only meant "no prior restraint" for at least the first hundred years of the American Republic. It took over half a century before we even got around to fighting a bloody civil war to stop slavery, and then another century before Brown v. Board. Corporate corruption isn't anything new -- it's just the modern iteration of robber barons or Teapot Dome.

We're on the verge of electing our first black President. We're not there yet, but it's within our grasp. The GOP's poll numbers are as bad as (or worse than) the Democrats' in 02.

Good things still happen in the world, but not because of momentum. It's in the nature of evil to keep raising the bar and hoping you'll give up. If any of you think that this is as bad as it's ever been, you're a bunch of fucking featherweights anyway. King George lost, the Confederacy lost, the robber barons lost, the trusts lost, the Nazis lost, Nixon lost, and Enron lost. People like that don't go down without a fight, and we're still feeling the collateral damage from most of those battles, but we fucking won.

Comparatively, the Bush cabal is a bunch of halfwit amateurs who just happened to be at the right place at the right time, and if the 'quality of the citizenry' is such that those who should be fighting them convince themselves that this is the worst ever after only eight years so they can live with throwing in the towel, then neither the Boy Emperor nor the great unwashed apathetic masses are to blame for that.
posted by spiderwire at 10:16 PM on June 29, 2008 [17 favorites]


Yeah, but the average sentence for a terrorism conviction is considerably less than for rape or murder (or even most drug or weapons crimes), so they're really just doing their part to ease prison crowding.

Convictions? Sentences? Those things are luxuries if you're a terror suspect these days.

Anyway, the whole thing is absurd, there are no terrorists here, so we have no idea what to look for.

Here's the deal, you look at the things terrorists are likely to do before they set off an attack. You figure out what the probability of those things happening before an attack is. This gives you the probability of doing X before an attack, in mathematical terms, thats P(Thing | Attack). The next thing you need to look at is how often people do those things P(Thing).

Finally, You can figure out how likely a terrorist attack is using Baye's Rule. The probability of a terrorist attack given some thing P(Attack | Thing) = (P(Thing | Attack) * P(Attack))/P(Thing )

Oh but wait, see how you multiply by the probability of an attack? That's right, how likely someone is to be a terrorist depends on how common terrorists are, no matter how suspicious they are.

In fact, given the fact that there are no fucking terrorists in the U.S, no matter what someone does there's still a 100% chance there not a terrorist! Because there's a 100% of everyone not being a terrorist because there are none!

Someone could scream at the top of their lungs that they're a terrorist, and they still wouldn't be one. Probably, they're just confused.

But even if there were a handful of terrorist, the likelihood of any particular person being one would still be so low that it wouldn't be worthwhile to investigate them (Unless you had some truly hard evidence, like that they talk to Osama bin Laden on the phone every weekend)

But it's amazing that the people in charge of security seem to have no understanding of mathematics or anything else.

Fuck you brown tourists!

Dude, the Levenshtein Distance between "terrorist" "tourist" is only 4!
posted by delmoi at 10:21 PM on June 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Comparatively, the Bush cabal is a bunch of halfwit amateurs

Looks to me like they accomplished all the goals they set out to accomplish back in 2000. Halfwit amateurs? More like diabolical genius (Diebold anyone?). And we still think GW is an idiot. Wow. Next time I steal a few trillian dollars I'll remember to act really, really, incompetent while I do it.
posted by Parallax.Error at 10:36 PM on June 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Given that we lose as many people to smoking every month as we've lost to terrorism in our nation's history, perhaps such resources are being misused.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:53 PM on June 29, 2008 [1 favorite]




You just love that link, eh homunculus?
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:16 PM on June 29, 2008


Looks to me like they accomplished all the goals they set out to accomplish back in 2000.

That's funny, I haven't heard Rove bloviating about rebuilding his permanent majority / McKinley coalition anytime recently.

Halfwit amateurs? More like diabolical genius

If not for 9/11, Bush would be a one-term President, consigned to the dustbin with Coolidge and Harding. But beating the war drums and playing dirty pool were the two things they knew how to do, having all come up in the Ford, Nixon, and Reagan Administrations (Cheney, Rumsfeld) or drinking the Goldwater Kool-Aid -- and those two skills served them well.

To lift a line from Se7en, just 'cause the guy's got a library card doesn't make him Yoda. In this case, plundering the nation didn't require any special skills, just a lack of ethics. If someone mugs you, they're not a talented businessman because of all the money they just made; they're some nutbar with a knife and a drug addiction. Diabolical, maybe -- genius, no.
posted by spiderwire at 11:21 PM on June 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


That's funny, I haven't heard Rove bloviating about rebuilding his permanent majority / McKinley coalition anytime recently.

I don't think they need to. Something will happen somewhere that will enable them to simply seize permanent control of the government. All the pieces are in place. It is just a matter of time.
posted by Mr_Zero at 11:27 PM on June 29, 2008


If they happen to blunder their way into a jail cell then I'll concede the point. But muggers usually go to jail. Geniuses do not. Talented businessman, no. Oceans 11?
posted by Parallax.Error at 11:32 PM on June 29, 2008


You just love that link, eh homunculus?

I've always wanted my own Bowel Disruptor. Think of the fun at meetups!
posted by homunculus at 11:32 PM on June 29, 2008


A Civil War, two World Wars and a Cold War all failed to seriouisly damage the US Constitution.

What, are you high? Lincoln unconstitutionally suspended habeas, arrested political dissidents, and ignored Supreme Court rulings. Thousands of American citizens were put in interment camps during World War 2. Going back even further, the Alien and Sedition Acts were used to jail political opponents.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 11:55 PM on June 29, 2008 [6 favorites]


Good things still happen in the world, but not because of momentum.

I want to believe.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 12:17 AM on June 30, 2008


And the Cold War seemed to give Presidents the ability to invade liberate a country without an official Declaration of War.
posted by Parallax.Error at 12:25 AM on June 30, 2008


I've always wanted my own Bowel Disruptor. Think of the fun at meetups!

"Loose... watery... prolapse."
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:16 AM on June 30, 2008


Well, as an EMT, I think this is terrible. I wonder how many people won't call for an ambulance because they're afraid of letting the thought police in.
posted by brevator at 3:28 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was going to suggest that the best way to deter such activity is to make it useless by filling it with noise, but it looks like they beat me to that one. It's almost as if finding terrorists was not its real purpose at all.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 5:16 AM on June 30, 2008


I hope that homunculus is right. If so, it would transform the convention from a scene of protest to one of politicians covered in excrement. That would be the best TV in many years.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 5:19 AM on June 30, 2008


"We're simply providing information on crime-related issues or suspicious circumstances," said Denver police Lt. Tony Lopez, commander of Denver's intelligence unit and one of 181 individual TLOs deployed across Colorado.

"We don't snoop into private citizens' lives. We aren't living in a communist state."
Keep telling yourself that, Comrade.

Something will happen somewhere that will enable them to simply seize permanent control of the government. All the pieces are in place. It is just a matter of time.

Buck up, little camper!
posted by octobersurprise at 5:51 AM on June 30, 2008


If so, it would transform the convention from a scene of protest to one of politicians covered in excrement.

No novelty there.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:53 AM on June 30, 2008


Well, so much for civil dialogue! Protesters will have no choice but to resort to mud-slinging.
posted by ryanrs at 5:55 AM on June 30, 2008


I have come to conclude that I am free in this nation to do whatever I can or need to live within the law. The slight problem there is that the law is quite detailed, and I like many others have no time to spend digging through all the loopholes and etc.

The problem here is that too many people take advantage of this thought to live like there is no tomorrow. Listen, I am all in for living life to the fullest, but there are far too many people that just do not see or plan for a tomorrow to the point where they do not know what they can do to create some lasting good, good that lasts even post mortem.

Instead, people party, they vacation, they do not watch the news because it is (and it is) too depressing and trivial, they do everything but find something or watch for a lead into something that could indeed do some greater good for their community and even nation. These people tend (I dont know for sure but I find it to be the common case) to be easily manipulated because they do not have the level of thought to consider what something could really do or really has done. And because they become easily manipulated, and because they are large in numbers, they become a tool for the government, the powerful, and the rising rulers to become more powerful (and effectively a larger/bigger government [official or not] results that the Republicans have often campaigned against).

Personally, I find the focus on preventing terrorism to be great. However, I find the coverage of any terror event to be way over covered. Whats about facts covered in that one response to put terror into context: 100K raped, 20K murdered. What about car accidents: over 40K car fatalities annually (as of 2005). If the media were to cover these grim details on a yearly basis like they do terror, we probably would end up seeing breaking news and a day-long reporting of the breakdown of the fatalities. The only reason that the media does not do this is because the accidents come in smaller doses... We could cover other stats, but I think the point has been made.

Conclusion: freedom is still here so long as one lives within the law, terror should be prevented, people just have to wake up and implement terror security in their mind and prevent themselves from being manipulated so easily, because people and governments do take advantage of these things... they just do.

On the topic (I didnt read much...): we should just be wary. Secret databases and what is deemed suspicious may not lead to anything at all. But what it does lead to, do follow.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 6:03 AM on June 30, 2008


Secret databases lead to political activists being added to no-fly lists.
posted by ryanrs at 6:18 AM on June 30, 2008


Alien and Sedition Acts were used to jail political opponents.

That was before the Bill of Rights was passed.
posted by delmoi at 6:19 AM on June 30, 2008


But still a long way away from an underground army of Stasi Informants.

Quite.

After all, Stasi Informants were on the other side of the globe compared to these current ones. That's quite a long way away.
posted by splice at 6:34 AM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


This is all part of the oldest trick in the book. Fear, Fear, Fear. The dark overlords in Washington claim the "terrorists" want to kill us because we are free. Hmm. Then I guess the logical internal response to correct this problem is to take away our freedom. Ahh, now I get it. As long as I am locked up without any constitutional rights, I will not be in danger of having a sky scraper fall on my head.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 6:52 AM on June 30, 2008


Secret databases also create a convenient list of individuals that need to be exterminated in times of violent dissent. It happens virtually every day in at least one country on this screwed up planet. And I see absolutely no reason why it could not happen here in the face of true economic collapse. People will be afraid and angry. Somebody will need to be blamed. And the list will be a very long one indeed.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 6:58 AM on June 30, 2008


That was before the Bill of Rights was passed.

Negative. The Alien and Sedition Acts were passed in 1798, and the bill of rights was in 1791.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:08 AM on June 30, 2008


So roughly 1 000 000 people are raped, and 200 000 are murdered EVERY DECADE. We have one terrorist attack that kills 3 000 in a single decade.

It's been almost a decade since the attack. Scale it up for better shock value. It makes the insanity seem all that much more insane.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:00 AM on June 30, 2008


Most Americans don't realize they now live in a police state.
posted by Zambrano at 8:25 AM on June 30, 2008


This is such a bad idea. Didn't the creators of this watch TV? Most of the people who join a unit like this are infiltrators & saboteurs. Except Jack Bauer, of course.
posted by Pronoiac at 9:11 AM on June 30, 2008


Most Americans don't realize they now live in a police state.

Probably because we don't.

Yet.
posted by oaf at 9:17 AM on June 30, 2008


"the best selling 911 commission report"

wtf?

But seriously, people are idiots, news at 11.
posted by norabarnacl3 at 9:23 AM on June 30, 2008


• Civilians impersonating police officers and stopping vehicles

So make certain that you photograph every police officer you see. Hell, it's possible that terror cells may have infiltrated local government, so we need to keep our cameras on them as well. We need to make certain that we have 24/7 eyes-on these guys lest another terrorist plot unfold.

And if, by any strange happenstance, we accidentally document them doing anything illegal or unethical, we can be happy in the knowledge that we were protected by these policies and practices.

At least, this will be the argument I use next time I'm hassled for taking pictures of something: "I'm just keeping my eyes open for the bad guys. Now smile officer"
posted by quin at 12:55 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Interview with the author.
posted by homunculus at 3:38 PM on June 30, 2008


ZamBrano: "Most Americans don't realize they now live in a police state."

Oaf: "Probably because we don't. Yet."

And it's ZamBrano for the win!

I recommend Oaf get his ruby glasses checked; too far-sighted.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:50 PM on June 30, 2008


ZamBrano: "Most Americans don't realize they now live in a police state."

Oaf: "Probably because we don't. Yet."


We like to think of it as more of a "police commune" -- a free-wheeling, peace-loving society, where everyone watches all of their neighbors, without regard to their ethnicity, gender, or orientation; where all citizens are subject to arbitrary punishment, not just the most visible leaders or the most dangerous monkeywrenchers. A world where universal surveillance belongs to all of us.
posted by spiderwire at 8:23 PM on June 30, 2008


And it's ZamBrano for the win!

Consider your unsubstantiated claim refuted.
posted by oaf at 8:26 PM on June 30, 2008


Look, we're crowdsourcing oppression here, people -- this is the new frontier.

Soon, the NSA will be replaced by kids with cameraphones, CIA assassinations will be carried out by flashmobs, underground resistance will be open sourced, and entrepreneurs will come up with new ways to organize personal information that we can't even dream of today. The future is now!
posted by spiderwire at 8:33 PM on June 30, 2008


Man, I bet Improv Everywhere would do great assassinations. You'd have several hundred people dressed in Best Buy uniforms suddenly freeze in their tracks, right in the middle of the store. Five minutes later, all but one of them would resume their normal business of impersonating an employee. The unfortunate one, though, was injected with a paralyzing poison. Everyone will assume he's a manager, just standing around like managers do. By the time someone figures out there's something (else) odd, Improv Everywhere has slipped out of store, leaving no trace and no clues.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:27 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oaf: "Consider your unsubstantiated claim refuted."

Really, Oaf. Serious. Lose the rose-colored specs.

FiveFreshFish, wasn't that the plot for a recent episode of Law & Order?
posted by ZachsMind at 11:59 PM on June 30, 2008


Really, Oaf. Serious. Lose the rose-colored specs.

Saying we live in a police state already doesn't make it so. We are close to it, and slipping, but we do not live in a police state right now, regardless of how trendy it is to profess that we do.
posted by oaf at 3:59 AM on July 1, 2008


Probably the difference of opinion results from differences of definition. Until you guys say what you mean by 'police state,' all you're doing is saying, "Is not!" "Is so!"

That's not much of a discussion.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:54 AM on July 1, 2008


I'm thinking of East Germany.
posted by oaf at 7:31 AM on July 1, 2008


My god, it's like living in Boing Boing.
posted by Artw at 8:15 AM on July 1, 2008


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