Thursday, February 16, 2006

Just Where Is Our government Taking Us?

This is the kind of thing that should upset anyone, no matter what part of the political spectrum you are on:

(From the Boise Weekly)

Dwight Scarbrough's idea of political dissent is one that rubs some people the wrong way. He likes to blame his compulsion for peaceful troublemaking on his birthday: October 2, the same as Ghandi. However, a few of Scarbrough's techniques are all his own--especially when it comes to his truck.

For instance, when the Iraq War was looking imminent, not long after September 11, Dwight attached a garbage bag to the back of his truck bed. He splattered the bag and the truck with ketchup and added a sign reading, "This veteran knows that our children are worth more than a $6.95 body bag." When he drove down the freeway, the bag would inflate and appear occupied.

"That one was a little in-your-face and on-the-edge," Scarbrough recalls. "It got a lot of response."


ut on this day, apparently it was still too much.

Around 2:15 p.m., Scarbrough says, he answered his office phone and found himself talking to a man who identified himself as Officer R. of the Department of Homeland Security. (I'm withholding the officer's name; you know, what with Plamegate and all.) Scarbrough was told that he was in violation of the Code of Federal Regulations, the set of rules that govern all executive departments and agencies, and that he was in danger of being cited unless he came out to the parking lot or let the officer come up to his office. Scarbrough chose the first option, and took along a co-worker--also a veteran--and, being an experienced peace activist, a tape recorder. Downstairs, they found two armed officers with "Homeland Security" insignia patches on their shoulders, waiting for them in large white SUVs. Scarbrough informed the officers that he would record their converation, and what follows is the transcript of that recording.

Officer: Step back here please.

Dwight Scarbrough: Let's have a seat.

O: I'd like to talk to you.

DS: Let's have a seat.

O: Sir, come over here please.

DS: I don't want to come over there. I want to sit down.

O: Let me tell you what's going on here. OK, there's a violation of the code of federal regulations.

DS: For what?

O: The CFR. 41, CFR, 102, 74, 415. Posting or affixing signs, pamphlets, handbills or flyers on federal property. Do you understand that?

DS: I'm not doing anything on federal property.

O: Yes, sir, you've got signs posted on your vehicle. I'm informing you that you're in violation.

DS: That's not illegal. That's not illegal.

O: You're posting ...

DS: I ... All right.

O: Would you like to listen to me before ... sir...

DS: [To his co-worker] Would you go get [their supervisor]?

O: I need you to listen when I'm talking, sir.

DS: [To co-worker]. Would you go get [him] please? [To officer] I'm listening.

O: Okay.

DS: You're at my place of work, first of all. And you're harassing me.

O: Sir, you're in violation of the code of federal regulations.

DS: I'm not in violation.

O: You're posting signs on this property.

DS: I am not posting signs. That's on a private vehicle.

O: Sir, I'm here to tell you now that you have to remove those signs.

DS: Was the law just changed?

O: No, there was no law just changed.

DS: Then it's not a violation.


[A]fter going through the incident, both Scarbrough and his coworker are insistent: it's not the location or size that mattered in this case. It's the message. They are quick to relate the event to Cindy Sheehan being arrested at President Bush's State of the Union address just a week earlier, where she was wearing a T-shirt reading: "2245 Dead. How many more?" Sheehan's charges were dropped, and Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer apologized to her in a statement, saying "The policies and procedures were too vague."

Scarbrough's co-worker doesn't see any vagueness in the incidents. "It's starting to look like this is something like a directive from the Department of Homeland Security to suppress opposition to the war," he says. He calls the officers "image control," but Scarbrough's take is even more forceful:

"This is a fascist state. At least, it's the beginning of a fascist state."
Just where is our government taking us, and are we going to go quietly?

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