Some interesting articles on the FBI etc make we wonder if we are next ....
The FBI, for example, has issued scores of "national security letters" that require businesses to turn over electronic records about finances,
telephone calls, e-mail and other personal information, according to officials and documents. The letters, a type of administrative subpoena, may be
issued independently by FBI field offices and are not subject to judicial review unless a case comes to court, officials said.
Attorney General John D. Ashcroft has also personally signed more than 170 "emergency foreign intelligence warrants," three times the number
authorized in the preceding 23 years, according to recent congressional testimony.
"We hear you've been asking curious questions," U.S. Park Police officer Michael Ramirez said as he and fellow officer Karl Spilde approached me
from behind a blossomless cherry tree. "Why are you doing that?"
Both officers carried 9mm semiautomatic pistols, Mace and batons. Perhaps because I had just left the Jefferson Memorial, where I'd read a few lines
about "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" and "all men are created equal," I felt bold enough to pose a question of my own: "Why are you
asking me that?"
What I really wanted to know was why my questions about the box had made me suspect. Or was it that an African American -- whom someone may have
mistaken for a Middle Easterner -- was asking them?
The only way to get to the bottom of this, I thought, was to ask more questions.
"Let me see your ID," Spilde said.
"Why?" I asked.
"Call for backup," Spilde eventually told Ramirez as he seized my notebook and pen and began to search me. Was I being arrested, I asked before
turning over my driver's license.
Eight officers responded to the call for backup. One told me that, legally, I was not being arrested, just subject to "investigative detention."
Said Sgt. R.J. Steinheimer, "There have been reports of suspicious activity regarding you."
"By whom?" I asked.
"Can't tell you that," he replied.
"What kind of suspicious activity?" I asked.
"Apparently you have been showing interest in equipment on the grounds, making notes, that sort of thing," he said. "Are you interested in talking
to us about what you're doing?"
I could have told him right then that I was a journalist. But I figured that any citizen should be able to ask a couple of questions without being
detained as a suspicious person. I told him that I simply wanted to know what kind of machine it was.
"Are you aware of the current threat level?" Officer J. Keyser asked.
I told him I was. The United States had, after all, just launched an attack on Iraq knowing that it would increase the chances of terrorist attacks at
home. But that didn't explain why I was being associated with Code Orange.