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FBI To Invesitgate Buyers of Fuel-Efficient Cars?
T.J. Newton

The FBI apparently doesn't think that the USA-PARTIOT Act and the Homeland Security Act do enough to destroy freedom and democracy in the U.S. As the articles and presentations at HomelandInsecurity.org have continually shown, the USA-PATRIOT Act and the Homeland Security Act attempt to overthrow our democracy by relying on an overly broad definition of terrorism; a definition that, in combination with the provisions contained in those Acts, can be used to probe, harass, and arrest any American citizen that disagrees with the policies of the administration. This not only includes Americans who may be critical of the administration while drinking in a bar or shopping in mall, but anyone who threatens the profits of those close to the administration, including oil companies (see Why Should You Care if the Government Spies on You?).

The FBI has now pressured Congress, using undisclosed tactics, to gain the authority to probe the records of so-called "terrorists," which may include anyone who criticizes the President, by examining the records of "car dealers, pawnbrokers, travel agents, casinos, and other businesses [...] ...without the approval of a judge or grand jury" (Lichtblau, NYT p. A17 11/20/2003). Somehow, the debate was conducted in secret, away from public scrutiny, and away from some of the Congressional committees representing the American public that should have had a say in the matter (Lichtblau, NYT p. A17 11/20/2003).

"The idea of expanding the powers of government gives everyone pause except [those in collusion with the Bush administration]." [...] ...[T]he Senate Judiciary Committee... was shut out of any discussion on the little-noticed proposal (Lichtblau, NYT p. A17 11/20/2003).

It sounds ridiculous to some people to say that such a move may indicate that the FBI will begin investigating Americans who purchase fuel-efficient cars. And the FBI will undoubtedly deny any such plans. However, the kind of authorization they have been given allows them to do so, and that's a problem. The FBI can investigate, harass, and even arrest anyone who threatens the profits of those close to the administration (see Why Should You Care if the Government Spies on You?), including anyone who threatens the profits of oil companies by purchasing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles or other fuel-efficient cars. Like much of the authority granted to the government after 9/11, it is ridiculous to allow the FBI to invade car dealerships looking for anyone in disagreement with the administration using the excuse of "terrorism." So, while it may sound equally ridiculous to say that the FBI will investigate owners of fuel-efficient cars, it is not so ridiculous to point out such problems based on the destruction of democratic freedom that has already been carried out by the administration. If you're prohibited from disagreeing with the administration's policies in public, maybe they really are crazy enough to go after environmentally conscious automobile consumers. At this point, I wouldn't put anything past the "will of the administration."

The speed and secrecy with which the measure has been pushed through Congress raises immediate suspicions as to the intentions of the FBI and the administration. Such sweeping authority, as the administration knows, can and has been used to do more than go after "terrorists," or in this case, "[trace] suspected terrorist money" (Lichtblau, NYT p. A17 11/20/2003). Even the four word justification offered by "officials" is suspect, because while terrorism isn't defined in a way that excludes critics of the administration, a "suspected terrorist" can include anyone who appears to be from the Middle East. The President has even gone so far as to threaten people who "feed a terrorist," which opens the door for investigation of anyone operating a restaurant, from a hot dog stand to a gourmet establishment, for selling food to someone who, for example, criticizes the war in Iraq. Of course, the President may not really intend to starve his political enemies to death, but what exactly does this guy mean?

One thing is clear. The wording of the legislation passed after 9/11, from this authorization bill to the USA-PATRIOT Act and Homeland Security Act, has allowed horrible and terrifying acts against freedom and democracy to be committed by the administration, and leaves the door open for anything the administration can imagine, from the terrible to the ridiculous. The President has already threatened to use the military, CIA, FBI, and all of the tools at his disposal to fight a "war of ideas" against freedom loving people around the world, from Washington D.C. to Europe and beyond. This authorization is no less than another step in the President's ongoing march toward war, and those who support freedom and democracy should be terrified at the thought of its passage.


NYT: New York Times. Washington Edition. Newspaper. Nov. 20, 2003. New York, NY.

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