Democrats & Liberals Archives

Firemen Spying on Americans?

During the administration of George W. Bush, Bush and his Republican friends have dragged down American society - to the point where firemen are used to spy on Americans? It’s hard to believe, even about this administration, but it is true. I heard it from a former Republican congressman.

Bob Barr, whose political views about issues of the day were usually opposite to mine when he was a congressman, tells us now:

The image of the friendly firefighter helping rescue a wayward kitten from a tree might need updating. If the federal Department of Homeland Security has its way, firefighters across the country will be armed not only with firefighting equipment, but also issued training materials on how to recognize suspect behavior on the part of citizens and what to look for in peoples' homes that might be "suspicious." In other words, firefighters would become domestic spies. In fact, such training already has begun.

I salute Bob Barr for bringing this to our attention. He obviously is not acting as a Republican filled with hate. (If you listen to Republican candidates for president you see how they are all prmoting hatred of some kind.) He is concerned with the civil rights of everyone.

What a sad day for America. We have reached the point where Americans are spying on Americans. And this is instigated by the government. If this continues, we are headed towards a fascist state.

Barr tells us about the spy training:

According to published accounts of such training, firefighters are being trained to watch for "hostile" or "uncooperative" individuals, or those "expressing discontent" with our government. They are also trained to watch for and report on things that "seem out of place" in a home or business such as firearms and video recording equipment. Rooms with "little or no furniture" fall within the reportable suspicious activity.

Firemen are trained to help people in an emergency. Everybody loves firemen. This is probably what attracted firemen to those worried about "security." Firement can get into a home without a warrant - who asks for a warrant when his house is on fire? - and then look for something "suspicious."

This is intolerable! We must put a stop to this!

Posted by Paul Siegel at December 12, 2007 9:00 PM
Comments
Comment #240627

There really are no legal limits on this WhiteHouse Administration. The destruction of the CIA recordings of torture in light of the documented clear legal language outlawing waterboarding from before Bush’s presidency, now make obvious and plain that the Bush Administration has reserved the powers of a dictator unto itself.

The Bush Administration states forthrightly, that the President has the authority to interpret any and all laws in accordance with the President’s perceived needs for power to protect and defend himself and his minions from the laws passed by the People’s Congress.

This perversion of the oath of public office MUST NOT STAND!

The Congress’ refusal to impeach Bush and Cheney and imprison others who have defied and destroyed the checks and balances of our Constitutional government, make the case for revolution of, by, and for the American people. This case for revolution is now every bit as clear, unmistakable, and dire as that of the Colonialists who revolted against King George in the 18th century. The Congress’ refusal to impeach insures that the powers of authoritarian erected by this administration will be passed on to future presidents, regardless of political party affiliation. This cannot be allowed.

Our American Constitution isn’t worth the parchment it is written on if the people do not revolt against this broken government, and I mean now, tomorrow, and everyday thereafter, until the integrity of our Constitution is raised from the dirt, cleaned, and reinstated as the law of the land applicable to all persons, not just the common people.

How did Saddam Hussein, Fidel Castro, Idi Amin, and other dictators achieve such complete power over the people of their nations? By the quiet consent of their people. The American people must not consent to these ‘officials’ perversion of power in this manner if we are to remain a free people who choose liberty and justice through the equal application of the law to all.

If I waterboarded my neighbor for having struck my daughter, I would be tried and imprisoned, and rightly so. If I waterboarded an illegal immigrant who stole my lawn mower, I would be tried and convicted for having deliberately and premeditatedly tortured that person. So how is it, my countrymen and women sitting in the Congress refuse to impeach and try this President and his subordinates who have broken the very same law that would imprison me for the same act?

It is time for all Americans to become conservative and conserve the meaning and intent of our U.S. Constitution, one law of the land, equally applicable to all, regardless of station, wealth, or position. To tolerate this White House’s soiling and trampling upon OUR U.S. Constitution, for no other reason than to avoid the consequences of the law upon themselves, is precisely how the powers of dictatorship are erected. This is precisely how names such as Stalin, Castro, Musharraf, and Bush become historical names of infamy.

To Revolt against such authoritarians BEFORE they achieve absolute power, is how free people remain free. To quietly and passively watch in awe and shock as such authoritarians build their walls of protection around their absolute power is how free people’s lose their freedom as the time for Revolt quietly passes by, chaining their children and grandchildren to the political machine of the growing authoritarian regime.

We can revolt at the ballot box, or commit our children to having to revolt in the streets and alleys of American towns and cities of the future. It is up to us, to rout these lawmakers who except themselves from our Constitution and laws emanating from it. Or, bear for all time the guilt and responsibility our children shall surely lay at the foot of our graves.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 13, 2007 2:54 AM
Comment #240640

How many terrorists operating from U.S. residences happened to have a fire in their house while plotting an attack?

Maybe Homeland Security Dept is having trouble dreaming up ways to spend their budget.

Posted by: Schwamp at December 13, 2007 10:14 AM
Comment #240653

Would this be the same Bob Barr who was laughed at for asking for information concerning Echelon and Carnivore?
Didn’t Dems call this “spying on Americans” a “necessary evil?”

This is nothing new, its been done before. Just as most other things this administration does.
Funny how so many of you are, just now, concerned about it.

Posted by: kctim at December 13, 2007 11:56 AM
Comment #240676


clarancec: Waterboarding either Bush or Cheney would be unacceptable to me. However, hanging them for treason would be perfectly acceptable to me.

Posted by: jlw at December 13, 2007 4:28 PM
Comment #240756

This is nothing but a completely common sense measure which is completely in line with the post 9-11 efforts to integrate the emergency efforts of first-responders.

Question: if a firefighter responds to a fire, hazardous waste spill, explosion, etc., do you or do you not want that firefighter to be trained to recognize a bomb factory or a chemical/biological weapons lab? And if they do recognize it, should they tell somebody or keep their mouths shut (even to the extent of covering this information up) because terrorists have a right to privacy?

Honestly, what do you think this measure is proposing? To teach firefighters to peak through your window and read you diary? Give me a break.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at December 14, 2007 5:26 PM
Comment #240757

LO
Actually, its completely in line with post OKC efforts, as is most of what Bush has done.
The only difference? Bush is a Republican, not a liberal.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiterrorism_and_Effective_Death_Penalty_Act_of_1996

Posted by: kctim at December 14, 2007 5:31 PM
Comment #240822

I happen to know firemen from St. Louis, MO, who have told me stories of events that happened after being called to fight fires in “rough” neighborhoods. They would get their equipment out upon arrival, only to be met with gunfire from surrounding buildings.
At some fires they would actually have to call for backup from the police to be able to do their jobs.
At other times there were stories of responding to a fire, and upon going into the smoky building, they would find floor areas that had been weakened to cause injury to the firefighters.
This particularly happens in vacant buildings.
I don’t think many of us even have a clue as to what cops and firefighters acyually face out there on their jobs.
If they can be trained to watch for suspicious behavior, and things which seem out of place, and this helps them and others stay alive, I am all for it. We need to take radicalism and terror seriously. We can not afford another 9/11. You don’t necessarily need planes to set booby traps in an attempt to kill Americans. The more aware all of us are of our surroundings, the safer we will all be.

Posted by: JD at December 16, 2007 1:00 AM
Comment #240844

JD, this topic and your comment, raise a deeper issue. The separation of powers was an intrinsic part of the design of our government to prevent the usurpation of individual and state’s rights. The separation of police powers and jurisdictions is an intrinsic aspect of that separation of powers doctrine.

When federal police powers merge with local police power as one power with a singular purpose to the exclusion of all others, the doctrine of separation of powers and the threat it keeps at bay is brought to the forefront for deliberation.

That’s not to say cooperation between levels of police power is a bad or unnecessary thing. But, the hairs on the back of the neck of liberty loving people should raise questions and demand scope and limitations when such cooperation between levels of police power are required for justifiable ends.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 16, 2007 4:16 PM
Comment #240849

David, the separation of powers is an important principle, but this has nothing at all to do with the separation of powers.

Reporting suspicious behavior is not a “power.” Everybody from low level government employees to private citizens can and should be prepared to do it.

Nobody wants a society of paranoids where we’re all informing on each other as if we lived in a police state, but a little common sense is in order. If your mail carrier happened to see somebody burying a body in their back yard, do you think that he shouldn’t report it because doing so would somehow violate the separation of powers? How would that be any different from a fireman reporting a weapons lab or bomb-making operation?

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at December 16, 2007 11:17 PM
Comment #240857

Loyal Opp, in Nazi Germany hordes of people reported suspicious behavior defined by the government. All manner of behaviors came to be regarded as suspicious, giving pretext for the police state to intrude upon the privacy of its citizens, though no crime had been committed. End result: children reporting on and turning in their parents and the eventual downfall of the police state.

There is a reason we have a professional police force, they are trained in the laws of enforcement and crime and held accountable for their actions. When a state attempts to make everyone police, you have a police state, and no one is accountable for falsely or erroneously reporting ‘suspicious behavior’, as in Nazi Germany. It doesn’t surprise me that this general concept of separation of powers doesn’t make sense to a loyal supporter.

Loyalty often substitutes for education or the need to become educated: relying instead on one’s authorities to tell one what is and isn’t valid. That is the first step toward authoritarian rule, authority and authoritarian having the same root.

The concept is nonetheless valid, despite the elementary school education on the topic: the concept of separation of powers is much broader than just 3 equal branches of government. But it takes an advanced liberal education for many to appreciate this long established doctrine and view of the U.S. Constitution.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 17, 2007 4:45 AM
Comment #240999

But, David, claims of superior education is often a substitute for an inability to win an argument against another’s common sense!

JD

Posted by: JD at December 18, 2007 11:38 PM
Comment #241388
It is time for all Americans to become conservative and conserve the meaning and intent of our U.S. Constitution, one law of the land, equally applicable to all, regardless of station, wealth, or position.

I wonder if the following senerio would play out the way I believe it should:

Equal protection under the law is guaranteed in our constitution. I pointed this out at a Christmas dinner with my family by stating the senerio this way:

What if a person was pulled over for speeding and given a ticket? Then, that person videotaped and documented the speed of the vehicles violating the speed limit at the same time and place the very next day and presented this evidence to the judge presiding over his violation. Wouldn’t this person be denied equal protection under the law if the judge dismissed this evidence and levied a fine against him?

My father said in response, “Good Luck with that! Let me know how it turns out.”

Or perhaps a person witnesses a police car speeding past him on the highway and fifteen minutes later is ticketed for speeding by that same police officer? Wouldn’t this be a denial of equal protection?

How did Saddam Hussein, Fidel Castro, Idi Amin, and other dictators achieve such complete power over the people of their nations? By the quiet consent of their people. The American people must not consent to these ‘officials’ perversion of power in this manner if we are to remain a free people who choose liberty and justice through the equal application of the law to all.

There were riots in the streets when Abraham Lincoln and Congress enforced an income Tax to fund the Civil War. It was found to be UNConstitutional and repealed when the war ended. Another attempt was made to impose an income tax some years later and was struck down. Perhaps corporate-personhood served the purpose much better. It wasn’t until 1913 the quiet consent of the people allowed an income tax to be imposed on them.

Posted by: Weary Willie at December 24, 2007 9:28 PM
Comment #241414
To tolerate this White House’s soiling and trampling upon OUR U.S. Constitution, for no other reason than to avoid the consequences of the law upon themselves, is precisely how the powers of dictatorship are erected. This is precisely how names such as Stalin, Castro, Musharraf, and Bush become historical names of infamy. . To Revolt against such authoritarians BEFORE they achieve absolute power, is how free people remain free. To quietly and passively watch in awe and shock as such authoritarians build their walls of protection around their absolute power is how free people’s lose their freedom as the time for Revolt quietly passes by, chaining their children and grandchildren to the political machine of the growing authoritarian regime.
Precisely.

One way to test the severity of the situation is to simply demaned now that the Constitution be obeyed. Now. Not tomorrow. Not next year. Now.

Then observe what happens.

Do you think all three branches are unaware of the current selective enforcement and/or violation of the U.S. Constitution?

The Constitution is being violated in several ways and the most flagrant example of it is Article V, via convenient re-interpretations and construction (despite the numerous Supreme Court statement, cases, and rules with regard to construction).

And other violations have followed it.
And more violations will follow those.
It’s a gradual chipping away at the most important portions of the Constitution, until they are all finally worthless. The best way to stop this from happening is to stop it from beginning.

After all, the Constitution, according to George W. Bush (43)(43)

    … “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!” (source: Capitol Hill Blue)
And according to Alberto Gonzales, when he was White House counsel, wrote that the …
    “Constitution is an outdated document”.
Does that mean we should ignore it? Or amend it?
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says he cringes when someone calls the Constitution a “living document”. Scalia said …
    Oh, how I hate the phrase we have “a ‘living document,” … “We now have a Constitution that means whatever we want it to mean. The Constitution is not a living organism, for Pete’s sake.”
Every federal official takes an oath of office to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, but many aren’t.
How many ways is the Constitution being violated today?
If we allow one, or two, or three violations, where does it end? Especially when a complacent, apathetic, and disaffected electorate rewards the FOR-SALE, Do-Nothing incumbent politicians in Do-Nothing Congress for all of it with 95%-to-99% re-election rates (96.5% seat retention rates for both parites, on average, since year 1980).

It is the electorate that gradually lets their freedom slip away, bit by bit. It is happening now, as evidenced by these 10 regressive/oppressive systems hammering the majority of Americans for the past 30+ years.

It is the electorate that can ignore it, allow it to get out of control, or stop it before that happens. One violation of the Constitution is one-too-many. Keep ignoring it, and we will have the government we deserve.

All that is being recommended is that we simply obey our Constitution. Yet, observe those that will deny any violations and argue the case for other interpretations, despite the “plain and obvious” meaning. There are those that want to selectively enforce/violate the Constitution and a number of other laws. Look at illegal immigration. The government is despicably pitting American Citizens and illegal aliens against each other (for profits from cheap labor and pandering for votes). These 10 system did not all come about by mere coincidence. The next may be the last nail in the coffin, and the electorate will only have itself to thank for it by repeatedly rewarding the very people doing it with 95% to 99% re-election rates.


  • Posted by: d.a.n at December 25, 2007 11:15 AM
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