The extent to which the US has become a security and surveillance state was illustrated to me that last time I travelled there, a few years back on a book tour.
I had 10 internal flights to make over the course of 2 weeks. When I was pulled out of line and taken for “extra security checks” on the first flight, I was told by the official that I was unlucky because such checks were entirely random. Except I kept being unlucky. In fact, I got extra attention on nine of my 10 flights – and I suspect that the occasion I wasn’t subjected to the extra checks was simply an oversight. I noticed that I had a large red “S” scrawled on my flight stub, as I did on the others. Presumably the security people missed it.
I am reminded of this by a story showing that the FBI has had under surveillance the website anti-war.com, a place I have published on many occasions, for more than a decade.
What triggered the FBI’s interest in antiwar.com? Well, what a surprise! A story about Israel – one of those many that get sucked into the memory hole. The site tried to find out who were those Israelis cheering on a rooftop at the fall of the World Trade Center. The Israelis were later spirited out of the country by US officials.
The heavily redacted FBI memo, released under a FoI request, includes this observation:
There are several unanswered questions regarding www.antiwar.com. It describes itself as a non-profit group that survives on generous contributions from its readers. Who are these contributors and what are the funds used for?
Antiwar.com revealed to its readers this document in August 2011. What was the effect of doing so?
According to the American Conservative:
Even disclosing the memo’s existence proved hazardous: the site began to lose major funders—to the tune of approximately $75,000 a year, according to [founder Eric] Garris—who now feared that donating would draw unwanted attention from the feds.
It’s a win-win for the FBI, and the US security state, it seems.