The state of Colorado has identified a critical shortage in the local economy: Compared to other states, Colorado is falling behind in the training and education of nosey people, the sort of folks who were once referred to as "spies." And Colorado has a solution: train more finks. This being the 21st century, and this being the government, Colorado proposes to call its newly trained meddlers "Terrorist Liaison Officers," or TLOs for short.
Presumably each new TLO will receive a shiny aluminum badge, a secret code name, and an adhesive gold star at a later time.
The Denver Post reports:
Hundreds of police, firefighters, paramedics and even utility workers have been trained and recently dispatched as "Terrorism Liaison Officers" in Colorado and a handful of other states to hunt for "suspicious activity" — and are reporting their findings into secret government databases.
It's a tactic intended to feed better data into terrorism early-warning systems and uncover intelligence that could help fight anti-U.S. forces. But the vague nature of the TLOs' mission, and their focus on reporting both legal and illegal activity, has generated objections from privacy advocates and civil libertarians.
"Suspicious activity" is broadly defined in TLO training as behavior that could lead to terrorism: taking photos of no apparent aesthetic value, making measurements or notes, espousing extremist beliefs or conversing in code, according to a draft Department of Justice/Major Cities Chiefs Association document.
As Nobody's Business, where I found this, points out, under the DOJ criteria everyone is "suspicious," from land surveyors, who make measurements and notes, to people who have oddball or even mainstream opinions, to Ken, who takes photos of "no apparent aesthetic value" and posts them all over this blog.
Yet, naive sheep that I am, I have failed to report him for this.
"We're simply providing information on crime-related issues or suspicious circumstances," said Denver police Lt. Tony Lopez, commander of Denver's intelligence unit and one of 181 individual TLOs deployed across Colorado.
"We don't snoop into private citizens' lives. We aren't living in a communist state."
Bullshit Tony Lopez, you're making this a communist state! In communist states, citizens were deputized and expected to report on their neighbors for precisely what you're looking for. The behavior you define as suspicious, taking photos, wandering around, making notes, telling jokes your neighbors don't understand (speaking in "code"), or just having non-mainstream opinions, is just the sort of thing that got people imprisoned in the Soviet Union.
Only in America, good little Stakhanovites and donoschiki like Tony Lopez just confine the weirdoes in a database, and they'll never … get … out.
Among the suspicious terroristlike activities Lopez and his fellow snitches have reported: missing copper wire (as though only terrorists steal copper wire, for bomb-making, natch), graffiti, men filming a dam, "overheard threats," whatever that means, purchases of cell phones, and yes, taking photos.
Certainly we should all be vigilant, and look out for our own safety and that of others. But to be frank, I don't want the government deputizing the meter-reading guy as some damned Barney Fife to peer through my windows, which is exactly what Colorado is doing. It makes me angry enough that he walks onto my property in the first place.
And it's unnecessary. If there is anything of which this rich nation has no lack, it's nosey people, from the sort who report others for speaking Arabic at truck stops, to my neighbor down the road, who has reported a man for walking on the street while black.