So Many Eyes, So Few to Spy

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Liar Leviathan has finally coughed up a truth we’ve all suspected for a long time: the “homeland” is remarkably devoid of terrorists. Call me a tad too logical, but I eagerly await a cease-fire in the War on Terror, at least on the domestic front.

Last week, the Washington Post reported that “an administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity” admitted that “U.S. citizens make up ‘only a very, very small fraction'” of the 200,000 terrorists named by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). “‘The vast majority are non-U.S. persons and do not live in the U.S.,’ he added. An NCTC official refused to say how many on the list — put together from reports supplied by the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency (NSA) and other agencies — are U.S. citizens.”

I don’t blame him for refusing to say. How’d you like to be the bureaucrat confessing, “Ah, yes, we-we’ve got, um, let’s see, 7, no, make that 8 terrorists right here on American soil”? Worse, you’d have to explain how that handful could possibly inspire a war on the Iraqi people, airport screeners, Guantanamo’s gulag, subway bag searches, the Department of Homeland Security, torture, the Patriot Act, REAL ID, wiretapping of phones, interception of emails, and, oh, yes, Highway Watch.

Highway Watch is one of those bastards Leviathan spawns when coupling with an “industry group.” According to its website, the program is “administered by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) under a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA).” Highway Watch “uses the skills, experiences and ‘road smarts’ of America’s transportation workers to help protect this critical infrastructure and the transportation of goods, services and people.” In other words, it recruits truckers and bus drivers to snitch by calling such wickedness “patriotism.”

Nor does this fascism come cheap. Highway Watch devoured $19 million of our taxes in 2004 when the unholy alliance was first formalized and another $21 million last year. Some of that money allegedly trickles down to “specially train” drivers in “recogniz[ing] potential safety and security threats and avoid becoming a target of terrorists.” It also trains them “to report safety and security concerns rapidly and accurately to the authorities.” Note the expansion from terrorism to “safety and security concerns” in general and the emphasis on reporting. Indeed, “in addition to matters of homeland security – stranded vehicles or accidents, unsafe road conditions, and other safety related situations are reported[,] eliciting the appropriate emergency responders.” That means cops, who ticket stranded vehicles and accidents.

By July 2004, when Time Magazine ran an article on Highway Watch, the program had attracted 10,000 members. It eventually hopes to enroll 400,000 tattling truckers. Time described one of the indoctrination — sorry, training sessions truckers undergo: “The tutorial was led by Jeffrey Beatty, a security consultant, formerly of the FBI and CIA.” He told truckers that terrorists “‘are out there training for operations in the U.S. homeland'” and that “‘we want to hear from you when something just doesn’t look right.'” Jeff shares the NYPD’s anxiety about our sartorial selections: “‘Say you’re out at a truck stop and you see someone hanging out near your truck, wearing a jacket. Maybe it’s too hot out for a jacket. Go back inside, alert someone…'” But rest assured that Leviathan carefully preserves civil rights even as it destroys liberty: “Highway Watch members are instructed to look for certain kinds of behavior — not certain kinds of people. ‘Profiling is bad. Bad, bad, bad,’ Beatty said.”

But so is cynically manipulating truckers. Mike Russell, a spokesman for the ATA, told Time, “I don’t want to sound too hokey, but truck drivers are a very patriotic bunch.” And Leviathan is quick to capitalize on that. The Watch’s website quotes Curtis Johnson, a driver for Voyager Express: “It makes you feel good to know you’re an integral part of the whole program.” Unfortunately, patriotism divorced from a knowledge of history and political philosophy degenerates to nationalism — and nationalism makes folks like Mr. Johnson the state’s dupes.

Leviathan wasn’t content to debauch only truckers. The beast threatened that “Commercial truck and bus drivers, school bus drivers, highway maintenance crews, bridge and tunnel toll collectors and others will receive instruction under the Highway Watch grant.” And sure enough, “In July of 2005 Highway Watch partnered with the three largest school bus trade associations…to create School Bus Watch, an anti-terrorism training program for school bus drivers.”

Our friend Jeff “trains” the bus drivers, too. According to the Associated Press, he told his students, “the more people watching,…the safer the community will be.” If Highway Watch has its way, the community will be so safe there will be no place to hide: in addition to 400,000 truckers, it hopes to enroll 600,000 bus drivers.

Yep, a million informants for the state. And yet "only a very, very small fraction" of terrorists "live in the U.S." So who are those two million eyes watching?

Becky Akers [send her mail] writes primarily about the American Revolution.

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