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July 19, 2002

Does TIPS Stand For 'Trick Into Police State?'

Michael Barnes

Let's talk about Operation TIPS.

Finally we have something that the ACLU is complaining about in which their attorneys actually make sense.

What is Operation TIPS?

In case you haven't heard the news lately, Operation TIPS is a program that is being implemented over the next few weeks that will be a national system for reporting suspicious, and potentially terrorist-related activity. TIPS stands for: Terrorism Information and Prevention System.

TIPSters will be able to phone in suspicious activities or findings to a central location.

Who will be involved in TIPS?

The program aspires to involve millions of American workers. The (in)Justice Department has been meeting with several industry groups whose workers engage in work that, in their eyes, "are in a unique position to see potentially unusual or suspicious activity in public places."

What kinds of industry groups will be involved in TIPS?

Truckers, mail carriers, utility workers, train conductors, ships' captains, and others.

According to Barbara Comstock, of the public affairs office of the DOJ, the goal of TIPS "is to allow American workers to share information they receive in the regular course of their jobs in public places and areas."

Why is TIPS, like so many other lame brained knee jerk reactions to 9-11 by the "Dumbya" administration, a bad idea?

For starters, everyday Jane and Joe Worker will be now put in a position to use their 'common sense' to identify what they feel is suspicious. We are all everyday Janes and Joes. Don't we all have lapses in our own common sense, some more than others?

Then we will have the inevitable "I was connecting his cable and heard him talking in what sounding like Farsi, and he DOES look Arabic so, of course, I was suspicious."

If the FBI, CIA, NSA, and other organizations concerned with the safety of citizens had such difficulty pouring over the vast amounts of intelligence prior to 9-11, what do you think a surge in the amount of tips, suspicions and false leads will do?

Perhaps the administration has forgotten about a little amendment called the 4th Amendment. Well, seems as if the administration just wants to skirt that issue altogether, by enlisting the aid of people who can do what law enforcement cannot do, and that is enter or search peoples houses and properties without a warrant.

This type of program was more at home in Nazi Germany, where everyone was expected to be a good little German and report their neighbors.

But Mike, don't you want to be safe from terrorists?

Sure, we all do. But if it means turning Americans into a sort of 'secret police' against their neighbors, then damned straight, I am against it.

Maybe TIPS actually stands for: Trick Into Police State?

I am reminded once again of one of my favorite quotes, from Ben Franklin: "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

If you disagree with that, then you have let the terrorists win.

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