ACLU’s Holiday Message Labeled ‘Suspicious Activity’ By Tennessee Counter-Terrorism Officials

Tennessee’s state counter-terrorism officials at the Tennessee Fusion Center maintain an open-source internet map which identifies “terrorism events and other suspicious activity.” The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Tennessee found its way briefly onto the map earlier this month, after the civil rights group penned a letter to school superintendents encouraging “schools to be supportive of all religious beliefs during the holiday season.” The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports what happened next:

The Fusion Center’s Internet map is part of a national map maintained by Information is provided by agencies across the U.S. It includes various blinking icons. The map’s label originally was titled Terrorism Events and Other Suspicious Activity.

Near Nashville, a blinking hexagon-shaped symbol with an exclamation point read “ACLU cautions TN schools about ‘observing one religious holiday.’” The hexagon symbol, when clicked on, originally stated “suspicious activity.” But it later was changed to say “general nonincident terrorism news” after inquiries by reporters.

Mike Browning, a spokesman for the state’s Office of Homeland Security, acknowledged that listing ACLU’s letter as a terrorist incident “was a mistake.” ACLU-Tennessee Executive Director Hedy Weinberg responded, “I will take at their word that they made a mistake by posting it under terrorism activity…[but] I have not heard a good explanation for why school resource officers, who have a very important job in schools, would at all be interested or need to know about the letter we sent to local school superintendents about the need to keep holiday celebrations all inclusive.”


Think Progress / By Faiz Shakir

Posted at December 25, 2010, 6:46am

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