Monday, October 5, 2009

Analyzing iWatch, the State's New Snitch Program

It's only natural that Big Police is banding together around iWatch, the latest barrage of publicly accessible counter-measures to "combat terrorism." Citing conveniently the biggest and latest terror scare in which an Islamic man bought a lot of haircare supplies in Denver allegedly to make bombs and was subsequently taken down by a tip from a cashier; the police are more than anxious to implement a nation-wide snitch program. All coordinated by "fusion centers", places that were not known about by the general public but known quite well by activist groups and anti-surveillance advocates, this program is supposed to encourage the public to "say something if they see something."

Uh oh.

Propaganda for the program includes guidelines as to what to watch for. Things like smelling chemicals or fumes (we already see the radical print shop raids), wearing clothes that are too big or too heavy to be "in season" (whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!), asking about building security, and purchasing supplies or equipment that could be used to make bombs ("One could make all sorts of explosives using common household items" -Tyler Durden). Former FBI agent and ACLU policy counsel Mike German, who worked on terrorism cases, is correct in his assumption that these are all relatively common behaviors and that most people will fall back on personal bias and stereotyping.

Most disturbing is how ubiquitous officials plan the program to be, likening their ambitions to that of the Smokey the Bear forest fires campaign. This will only hurt trust and relationships within communities, foster paranoia, possibly enforce further racial segregation and turn American towns into East Germany.

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