Monday, November 26, 2007

ACLU Opposes Firefighters' Reporting Terrorism Suspicions

Hat tip to STOP THE ACLU and Weasel Zippers.

What to make of this?

WASHINGTON (AP)Firefighters in major cities are being trained to take on a new role as lookouts for terrorism, raising concerns of eroding their standing as American icons and infringing on people’s privacy.

Unlike police, firefighters and emergency medical personnel don’t need warrants to access hundreds of thousands of homes and buildings each year, putting them in a position to spot behavior that could indicate terrorist activity or planning.

But there are fears that they could lose the faith of a skeptical public by becoming the eyes of the government, looking for suspicious items such as building blueprints or bomb-making manuals or materials.

The American Civil Liberties Union says using firefighters to gather intelligence is another step in that direction. Mike German, a former FBI agent who is now national security policy counsel to the ACLU, said the concept is dangerously close to the Bush administration’s 2002 proposal to have workers with access to private homes — such as postal carriers and telephone repairmen — report suspicious behavior to the FBI.

"Americans universally abhorred that idea," German said. (we do?- ed.)

One would hope that anyone who sees something suspicious would alert the authorities. Of course, the ACLU doesn’t see it that way. I am reminded of the rapper that said he wouldn’t rat out a terrorist, even if he lived next door. It would conflict with his “don’t snitch” philosophy. Disgraceful.

Let's get one thing clear: even the ACLU acknowledges that firemen, or any official with "warrantless" access to a person's home must report any criminal activity they witness. They are also required to report any hazardous or unsafe conditions. Would training them to be alert for known terrorist tools and M.O. be a bad thing?

Still, read the whole AP piece. It has more details about the sharing of intelligence between FD's and the feds; why it is already going on, and probably will expand. Take that, ACLU.

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