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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

An Education on How To Spy on Your American Neighbor and the History of the American Protective League

The President has launched a new website for Americans to report what other Americans are saying about the President and his administration: AttackWatch.com. It has been created to "Get the Facts. Fight the Smears"

The committee sponsoring this website, Obama for America, has also created a twitter hashtag, #attackwatch. It's been fascinating reading the comments.

From Jonah Goldberg at National Review:
Jonah Goldberg
Hey , this is how you get it done.

What's the link from widipedia about? Here is an education about The American Protective League:

an American organization of private citizens that worked with Federal law enforcement agencies during the
World War I era to identify suspected German sympathizers and to counteract the activities of radicals, anarchists, anti-war activists, and left-wing labor and political organizations.

What did the President at the time think of the involvement of the APL and the government?:

President Woodrow Wilson knew of the APL's activities and had misgivings about their methods. He wrote to Attorney General Gregory expressing his concern: "It would be dangerous to have such an organization operating in the United States, and I wonder if there is any way in which we could stop it?"
But he deferred to Gregory's judgment and took no action to curtail the APL.

School children should learn historical references and apply them to the actions of today's government, don't you think? Maybe give them a "fill in the blank" exercise adapted from the above definition of the APL to discover who the enemies of the United States are in the Obama era:

an American organization of private citizens that works with Federal law enforcement agencies during the Obama presidency era to identify suspected _________ sympathizers and to counteract the activities of __________, ___________, ______________, ____________, ______________ and ___________ and _____________ political organizations.

List of words from which to choose (or you can make up your own based on the speeches the President, Richard Trumka and others have given to identify "the enemy"):
  • Republicans
  • constitutional
  • right-wing terrorists
  • tea party
  • constitutionalists
  • anti public union activists
  • libertarians
  • evangelical Christians
The list could be endless. Did you notice the enemies identified are not foreign, but rather, fellow American citizens? This is similar to the APL's targeted group reporting in the early 1900's. Technology has allowed videos to give information as well. Students can watch this tongue in cheek youtube video explaining AttackWatch as well, and we'll list it on our Resource site for future reference.

Save the search for #attackwatch on your twitter feed, follow the rather spirited discussion, and add your own voice regarding the surveillance of a private organization into American free speech and thought.

I'd love to know if American students will be learning about this questionable use of the President's office and investigation of private citizens. Is this another attempt to get information on private citizens without using a White House email address? That email address was quickly shut down due to conflict of interest and legal concerns. However, it must be permissible for a sitting president to gather the same "rumors and gossip" if fronted by a private organization.

The email addresses and supposed backers have changed but the attempt is still the same. From Red States on August 4:


If you see anybody publicly opposing President Obama’s plan to implement a government-centric overhaul of the health care system, the White House wants you to report that person (or persons) ASAP.

From the White House website:

There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov.

Emphasis added. Of course, as we’ve seen in the health care debate to date, the term “disinformation” is used by the Obama White House as a catchall to describe any opposition to the President’s push for single-payer, government-run health care — meaning the White House wants to be informed of any forwarded emails or blog posts or any “casual conversations” that could be taken as opposition to their health care overhaul plan.

The White House has, as yet, offered no explanation of what it is they plan to do with the tips on policy opposition they hope to receive from citizen informers.

Interestingly, as Jake Tapper pointed out on Twitter this morning, the title of that post on the White House is a quote from John Adams’ 1770 “Argument in Defense of the Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials.”

(h/t Jon Henke)

UPDATE: As Erick, one of RedState’s resident lawyers, points out here, this program may go beyond sinister and actually be a violation of current U.S. law.

Further, flag@whitehouse.gov is not currently subject to Freedom of Information Act requests — something a freedom-loving legislator (Jim DeMint? Tom Coburn? Paul Ryan? Eric Cantor?) should seek to correct at his or her earliest convenience.

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