>It's interesting that the idea of civilians looking out for each other
>should fill some people with dread. I attribute the fear to the
>elitist perception that "I can handle responsibility, but everyone
>else is irresponsible". Certainly the best protection against
>burglars is a nosey neighbor.
This misses the point by a mile.
What the Citizens Corps involves is the establishment of a branch of the
government which will solicit information from various sources -- none of whom
are authorized peace officers or in any way official individuals trained in
detection -- and take that information, gather it, disseminate it internally,
and track that information about people who may not have anything whatsoever to
do with anything in the smallest regard concerning terrorism.
Who gets this information? What will they be doing with it? How will it be
organized and disseminated? What stops someone from sending along unreliable
or false information in order to get someone in trouble? Who decides what is
"suspicious behavior?" And you the person being cataloged have NO way of
knowing what's in that file or that there even IS a file...further, this agency
will be free from FOIA discovery, so there's no way to determine what the
government has on you, if anything. The potential for abuse is mind-boggling.
The way the country has always worked is that if someone sees something
suspicious, they report it to the local police, who investigate it. That's how
our system has functioned for a very long time and successfully.
The acts of 9/11 should not lead us to throw out the very aspects of our
American system that brought their attack in the first place, the ideals that
we are, in principal, defending.
We've seen this before, in the McCarthy period. I'd hoped we had become smart
enough as a people not to fall for the okey-doke a second time. I was wrong.
(all message content (c) 2002 by synthetic worlds, ltd.,
permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine
and don't send me story ideas)