Thinking Out Loud

We can't think out loud anymore? We can't just think and talk with other people anymore, or be suspects in some conspiracy or terrorism? I know there are laws you can't exress certain actions, or at least to the wrong people or in the wrong way, but what is happening? I don't get it.

I watched and read about the two latest arrests of "terrorist" groups plotting attacks against or in the United States. In the first case, according to the news from our very own FBI, the group was "plotting" to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago and other landmarks there. But the group had no resources so the FBI provided everything, from intelligence to money, including directions, information, and suport.

The FBI finally said their plot, "...was more aspirational than operational." Huh? They went out of our way to recruit them, then support them, and finally arrest them? They're likely guilty of being gullible and stupid, but terrorist? I don't see it, and it will be interesting over the months to watch the charges change or dropped, and eventually they'll get small sentence on lessor charges or deported. I certainly feel safer, don't you?

The other case was the international terrorist planning attacks in the US but no one could say it was anything more than thinking and planning. Again, they had nothing specific or resources, but only in the "thinking" stage as some suggested. Ok, they weren't citizens so things are handled differently, because of cooperation with other nations and their work with terrorists. But they could have easily been here or been citizens.

The point? Let's see. A writer can research, write and publish novels on terrorism, and novels can be made into movies about terrorism, and those aren't subject terrorism laws, but someone talking with others the same way are subject? If a group of friends talk, say in a tavern or pub, about doing something someone else might think is terrorism, they can be arrested? It happened a few years ago in Georgia where a waitress thought she overhead a group of middle-eastern looking men talk and they were later arrested, but then freed later with no apologies for false arrest when it was discovered she misunderstood their words.

For the most part, the laws in the US govern actions not words, and especially not thought. The exceptions are the obvious about public safety and certain elected officials. But when will we allow our government to start moving the line between thought and arrest, will we wake up someday to realize we've allowed them to go too far and arrest people for simple being people? We allow our government to play all sorts of "What if" games but we as citizens can't? Except for commerical profit of course, like a book or a movie.

I was angered when I read the Immigration Service deported a Pakistani high school student who wrote a paper with friends about a young female suicide bomber, borrowing an example from the Palestinians. It was a class exercise and she thought it was a good idea, with the teacher's support, but the government labelled her a terrorist and deported her. For what, thinking and free speech? What a democracy we don't have anymore.

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WSR V2.8, January 2013