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Big Brother Is Watching | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

Big Brother Is Watching

Amid the swirls of gun smoke from the Republican's circular firing squad in the Foleygate scandal, this little chestnut slipped through the media cracks. The Department of Homeland Security is paying three universities $2.4 million to develop software able to monitor negative opinions of the United States and its leaders in foreign publications.

Here we have yet another example of the Bush administration's uncanny ability to combine Orwellian tactics with utter incompetence. To track anti-American sentiment all you need is a $10 bucket of paint and a map of the globe. A quick look at the polling data shows that we don't have many supporters left. Take this dramatic example: six out of ten Iraqis favor attacks on US forces, and we liberated them.

If polling data proves the general trends, then the only real reason for the software is to identify specific publications, editors, and writers, who are quote-unquote anti-American and anti-Bush. And why would Homeland Security want that very long list? Are they planning on seizing their pencils and paper during airport security checks? It sounds to me like the basis for the prosecution of thought crimes.

Of course it's illegal for the government to build that kind of database on American citizens. Then again, it was also illegal to wiretap without a court order and to detain without charge. So all you bloggers be warned. Big Brother is watching.

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