During the Cold War, when the U.S. faced a really dangerous adversary capable of incinerating our entire country in 30 minutes, we kept to our principles, stressing the virtues of a free society over Soviet communism.
The Cold War must have sapped our strength. Now, faced with Muslim terrorists who are nothing in comparison to Soviet ICBMs, we have adopted the methods of our former communist adversaries. The Bush administration is putting in place the neighborhood informant system used by the infamous Stasi, the Communist East German secret police.
Bush's plan, known as TIPS, Terrorism Information and Prevention System, intends to turn one out of every 24 Americans into a government spy reporting on their fellow citizens.
The results in the U.S. will be the same as in East Germany. Jealousies, rivalries, misperceptions, and inflamed imaginations will result in the reporting of many innocent people, who will be investigated, questioned, detained and, on occasion, framed.
Conservative gun owners will be likely targets of anti-gun liberals. Hunters will be reported by animal rights activists. Career rivals and rivals for the attention of a member of the opposite sex will be tempted to nudge each other out of contention with "suspicious activity" reports.
The irresponsible American media will make mountains out of molehills. As hysteria mounts, more people will feel a patriotic duty to report their neighbors. Jokes, protests, comparisons to the Stasi will all become evidence of disloyalty.
The war against terrorism has just begun, and already it has turned into a war against the American people. The U.S. government's fear of its own citizens first manifested itself in "airport security." Everyone is subject to warrantless and unreasonable searches. Regular air travelers observe that the vast majority of people searched could not possibly be terrorists, even if their lives depended on it.
Yet, the mass insult of American citizens by their own government continues unabated. Millions of man-hours are wasted standing in lines while the moronic policy of searching feeble elderly couples, young mothers with babies, and U.S. military officers wastes taxpayers' dollars.
The Bush administration's assumption is: every citizen is a potential terrorist. An entire new federal bureaucracy exists for the purpose of violating the Constitution's prohibition against unreasonable search.
The government's fear of the American people exceeds the ability of bureaucrats to control us. To make sure we are properly watched, the Bush administration is recruiting 12 million Americans to report on their fellows.
What's going on here? Why are 12 million Americans, in addition to thousands of government police agents with unprecedented eavesdropping powers, needed to ferret out the suspected 5,000 terrorists in the U.S.?
The best complexion that can be put on this is that the U.S. government has realized the insanity of the multicultural-diversity-open borders-visas to all-immigrants from everywhere-mindset that has turned the U.S. into a sanctuary for terrorists and illegal aliens. Too cowardly to deal with the immigration issue, the government instead has adopted police state methods to watch the population.
It is amazing to watch conservatives and patriots cheer on the advent of the Orwellian state. A new bureaucracy will be formed to record suspicious activity reports from the 12 million citizen informants. Once the police state bureaucracy is in place, it will never be dismantled. As Hoover Institution scholar Martin Anderson has pointed out, not even the fearsome Nixon White House was able to abolish a tiny bureaucracy of tea tasters.
Milton Friedman said that a country cannot have open borders and a welfare state. Even less can a country welcome multicultural immigrants whose loyalties reside elsewhere. Open borders for terrorists means a police state for citizens.
Rome fell when Romans came to view their government's predations as worse than those of the invaders. Will this be America's fate? Will our government do us more harm than the terrorists?
Paul Craig Roberts is the co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice.
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