The Bush Administration plans to recruit millions of us asspies in the new Terrorism Information and Prevention System(TIPS). The program wants 4 per cent of Americans to report”suspicious activity.” The last time we were encouraged tospy on each other here in the U.S. was during the McCarthyyears in the 1950s, when the FBI encouraged people to rootout communism in their back yards, leading to a blacklist ofmany people, especially screenwriters, actors andprofessors, who could no longer get jobs.
Civilian spying took place on a large scale when EastGermany was controlled by the Soviet Union and citizensspied on each other and reported to the Stasi police. Afterreunification, it was found that spouses informed on oneother, employers snitched on employees (and vice-versa) andchildren even gave information about their parents, as theywere encouraged to during the Nazi years. This led to agreat deal of bitterness, which made unification harder.Civil liberties groups in the U.S. are worried about what itmight do to us.
TIPS volunteers are being recruited primarily from amongthose who have access to homes, businesses or transportationsystems. Letter carriers, utility workers, truck drivers andtrain conductors are some of the people TIPS wants torecruit. Maybe they should expand their list of professions? in San Antonio, Texas, a stripper called the police andreported that she overheard three Middle Eastern customersdiscussing blowing up a military base.
The pilot program will start next month in 10 cities, with 1million informants participating in the first stage. If theprogram is initiated in the 10 largest U.S. cities, thatwill mean that we will have 1 million informants out of atotal population of almost 24 million, or one in 24 people.If you live in a big city, you?ll have to watch what you say.
As with the McCarthy-era FBI files, most targetedindividuals will be watched, but will remain unaware of theinterest being taken in them. In the last decade, sinceearlier files of this type have been declassified, peoplehave been startled to find that a file was started on themfor something as simple as receiving a postcard from friendsvacationing in Russia.
The new Patriot Act already says a person’s home can besearched without that person being informed that a searchwas ever performed or told about any bugs that were planted.
The FBI may be bugging us now, but they weren?t payingattention to obvious signals in the days before 911. Whathappened? To find out, read ?The Bureau: The Secret Historyof the FBI? by RonaldKessler,clickhere.
To learn about TIPS,click here.
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