Bush’s Assault on Civil Liberties Intensifies

Former Santa Fe Public Defender Andrew J. O’Connor found himself in handcuffs last month for allegedly making threatening remarks about President Bush in an Internet chat room. Santa Fe Police read O’Connor his rights while he was still seated at a public computer terminal at St. John’s College library, then took him into custody, where he was met by Secret Service agents from Albuquerque. During his five-hour inquisition, O’Connor denied claims that he posted threats against the president in an online discussion. According to articles posted on the Web sites Information Clearing House and Unknown Country, O’Connor recalled having a face-to-face conversation with a woman in the library “who was wearing a ‘No war with Iraq’ button” and admitted telling her that Bush is “out of control.”

Earlier that same day, officials at St. John’s, College of Santa Fe, and Santa Fe Community College warned students and faculty of an FBI alert about the appearance of “‘suspicious’ people on campus” in previous weeks. That warning, along with O’Connor’s suspicion that FBI agents may have been observing him as a result of his previous involvement with a pro-Palestinian group based in Colorado, may have been contributing factors in O’Connor’s arrest. “[The government] is just so paranoid right now about anyone who is anti-war, and they just took this way too far,” he said.

Exactly how far is too far? For Bill Scannell of BoycottDelta.org, it’s a Homeland Security software program called CAPPS II (Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System). CAPPS II checks passengers’ criminal and banking records and credit reports and then issues a rating of Green, Yellow or Red, based on undisclosed criteria. Persons with a Red rating will not be permitted to fly. Delta Airlines is testing the system in three “undisclosed airports” in March, reports Unknown Country. Says Scannell, “Frequent fliers will not only have a nice, thick Delta dossier, but a damaged credit history to boot.” The Bush administration hopes to implement CAPPS II throughout the country by the end of the year. Visit boycottdelta.org to learn about nine steps you can take to protect your privacy and freedom.
Erin Ferdinand

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