Buried on the bottom of the eighth page of the Sunday Chicago Tribune is an article entitled U.S. proposes to ease domestic spying rules.I caught the story as a blurb on MSN's online news on Saturday and thought that it would drop into obscurity like most of these sorta dry administrative manoeuvres. The Times story was a slightly more informative than MSN, but below the fold on page eight does not a raise even a ripple.
The gist of the story is that The Bush administration has redefined the role of local police departments in the Global War On Terror. Now, any local police department that receives federal aid (over 18000 state and local) will be allowed to collect intelligence on groups and individuals that they believe to be engaged in terrorism or supporting any group that helps terrorists. This information will be held for up to ten years and forwarded to Homeland Security. Effectively, local police departments will be required to spy on citizens on the basis of any type of suspicion. Not since the sixties and seventies have we had the spectre of local police becoming "Red Squads" and combing the activities of anti-government groups and individuals. Except today we have "Enemy Combatants" and Gitmo.
As I was mentally composing this post, Keith Olbermann on Countdown covered this story. I was glad that it is getting wider distribution, but both KO and the Trib believe that this is a move by the Bushies to institutionalize domestic spying. Certainly you can't have a hard time believing that the administration that wipes it's butt with the constitution would have any compunction against wider domestic spying but I have one little problem: There appears to be a very good chance that the next President of the United States is going to be a colored guy named Barack.
I somehow have this really tough time imagining that the Bush handlers really want to leave this police state to a Democrat. Particularly this Democrat. So what does this lead you to believe? That the Rethugs think (or worse, know) that they are going to win in November.
Occam's razor says that this is just another of this crowds' ongoing movement towards the police state and that it's just part of the momentum that's been built up over the last seven years but I just can't shake the fear that this election is going to make the last two look fair. Only November will tell.