[Promoted by susanhu. Edited only for format. This is a must-read, as is Rumi’s first comment.]
While not a surprise, given all that has transpired in Bush’s term, it still was a shocker to read that bloggers are now “terrorists.” The nature of blogger terrorist acts should be a concern for both liberal and conservative bloggers: “Deliberate misinformation campaigns” may well describe actions taken by right-wingers and “activist calls” describes actions by bloggers regardless of political affiliation.
Homeland Security completed its “Cyber Storm” wargame to test how our government “would respond to devastating attacks over the Internet from anti-globalization activists, underground hackers and bloggers.” Given that homeland security ran the “wargame,” one may infer that the nature of the attacks by bloggers must be national security related. And, given that the major national security fear of our government is terrorists, then it looks like bloggers have made our government’s hit list of potential terrorists. But, what is the nature of this “terrorist crime” that was the subject of these wargames?
“Participants confirmed parts of the worldwide simulation challenged government officials and industry executives to respond to deliberate misinformation campaigns and activist calls by Internet bloggers, online diarists whose “Web logs” include political rantings and musings about current events.”
There are other indications that the Bush administration deems bloggers well within the reach of any definition of terrorist, if for no other reason than the crime of dissent and criticism. There are also indicators that relevant parties would be somewhat prepared to assist in the nabbing of terrorist bloggers:
(1) In what may have been a precursor to US bloggers, the US military and government apparently were not offended (at least did not take any publicly disclosed action to free the blogger) when an Iraqi blogger was arrested, interrogated and imprisoned for the crime of reading comments on another blogger’s website at a public café:
“Then finally I understood why I was there, after few hours. Security guards at the university had printed out all the websites I was reading while I was online there. They were accusing me of “reading terrorism sites” and “having communications with foreign terrorists”.
“Do you know what these pages are?”
I looked at them and figured out they were the comment section of Raed in the Middle!!
I opened the comments section while browsing in the university, read some comments, and didn’t even post anything. But these people don’t seem to know what the internet is, and they don’t speak English, so I was a major suspect of being an assistant of al Zarqawi maybe! Or that I have a terrorist group of my own, with foreign connections!
I was accused of terrorism, and sent to jail after they decided that I’m not helping myself because I am not helping them!!!
(2) US plans to data mine blogs for stated purpose of finding terrorist information to connect the dots to prevent a terrorist attack:
“The U.S. government is developing a massive computer system that can collect huge amounts of data and, by linking far-flung information from blogs and e-mail to government records and intelligence reports, search for patterns of terrorist activity.”
(3) “The CIA is quietly funding federal research into surveillance of Internet chat rooms as part of an effort to identify possible terrorists, newly released documents reveal.”
(4) American Internet providers have assisted foreign countries to jail bloggers for substantive content posted on their blogs:
“Last December, Microsoft shut down the Web site of a dissident Chinese blogger. A few months earlier, Yahoo gave Beijing the name of a dissident Chinese journalist. He got ten years in jail for his Web postings. Ironically, Google’s Chinese kowtow comes as the company is resisting efforts by the U.S. government for access to its records.”
(5) Indymedia was a subject of a secret, international terrorism investigation in which US government seized its hard drives. A Texas Internet company turned over hard drives pursuant to a court order under an international treaty governing crimes of terrorism, kidnapping and money laundering.
(6) The MSM has shown its willingness to paint bloggers and any lefty journalists as the domestic evil axis of treasonists so that the American people will understand the need to arrest bloggers to make this country safe from terrorists.
(7) The CIA now has its own bloggers and a government website that are part of a revised CIA office for monitoring, translating and analyzing publicly available information. It is good news that the CIA is evaluating publicly available information in the fight against terrorism. The problem is we now know that when our government says “monitoring,” it’s not just al-Qaeda.
(8) The Bush administration refused to turn over control of the Internet to an international body, preferring to maintain unilateral control over the Internet. The fear is that “policy decisions could at a stroke make all Web sites ending in a specific suffix essentially unreachable.”
It should be noted that some of these indicators on their face are equivocal, but perhaps should be considered in the context of actions and policies of this administration. In this context, the Bush wagons are circling bloggers. And, once the perception is created that bloggers are a danger to national security, that perception is hard to unravel. The danger is that the American people will continue to follow Bush’s lead like sheep frightened by the terrorist wolf.
(Cross posted at Daily Kos, My Left Wing, MyDD and Patriot Daily)