Tennessee Homeland Security Agency Lists the ACLU on its 'Terrorist Events' Map

One of the most troubling aspects of the "war on terror" has been the Government's easy conflation of terrorism and Constitutionally-protected dissent.

According to reporter Jeff Woods, writing in the Nashville City Paper, an example of that dynamic appeared in Tennessee. After a local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to local schools reminding them not to celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, a state anti-terrorism agency placed the Tennessee ACLU on a map of “terrorism events and other suspicious activity.”

The ACLU expressed outrage Tuesday over its appearance on the Tennessee Fusion Center’s map, saying it “raises the specter that the government is once again tracking innocent Americans.”

“It is deeply disturbing that Tennessee’s fusion center is tracking First Amendment-protected activity,” said Hedy Weinberg, ACLU-Tennessee’s executive director.  “Equating a group’s attempts to protect religious freedom in Tennessee with suspicious activity related to terrorism is outrageous. Religious freedom is a founding principle in our Constitution — not fodder for overzealous law enforcement.”

This week, Dana Priest and William Arkin of the Washington Post reported that "fusion centers" like that in Tennessee are part of "a vast domestic intelligence apparatus to collect information about Americans, using the FBI, local police, state homeland security offices and military criminal investigators."

The system, by far the largest and most technologically sophisticated in the nation's history, collects, stores and analyzes information about thousands of U.S. citizens and residents, many of whom have not been accused of any wrongdoing.

In an earlier report back in July, the Post described this emerging security state as "an alternative geography of the United States, one that has grown so large, unwieldy and secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs or how many programs exist within it."

AlterNet / By Joshua Holland

Posted at December 23, 2010, 9:58am

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