The FBI Would Like to Reassure You That It Only Classifies Peaceful Groups as Terrorists by Accident

Our War on Terror surveillance state turned nine years old this month. Nine years old, according to the government , is an age when children “become more independent” but are also more vulnerable to peer pressure. Important tasks for the parent of a 9-year-old include:

  • Help your child develop his own sense of right and wrong. […]
  • Talk with your child about respecting others.[…]
  • Make clear rules and stick to them.

How are we navigating this developmental stage? The Los Angeles Times reported :

FBI agents improperly opened investigations into Greenpeace and several other domestic advocacy groups after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, and put the names of some of their members on terrorist watch lists based on evidence that turned out to be “factually weak,” the Justice Department said Monday.

However, the internal review by Inspector General Glenn A. Fine did not conclude that the FBI purposely targeted the groups or their members, as many civil liberties advocates had charged, after antiwar rallies and other protests were held during the administration of President George W. Bush.

Well. Young Surveillance State, sit down here for a moment. It’s good that you weren’t intentionally trying to target Greenpeace or PETA or Catholic Worker. We are glad that you understand that it would have been wrong to do that, to go after constitutionally protected domestic protest groups as if they were illegal foreign terrorists. But (“Use discipline to guide and protect your child, instead of punishment to make him feel badly about himself”)—we are still very disappointed in you.

It’s not enough, Surveillance State, that you didn’t mean to use the powers against innocent people. You did use them that way. We know it’s not easy to use all these powers. It’s a lot of responsibility. But when you can’t even explain to us why you 

conducted an investigation into Greenpeace’s planned protests at shareholder meetings for two companies in Texas, and kept the inquiry open “for over three years, long past the shareholder meetings that the subjects were supposedly planning to disrupt”

—well, what would you do, if you were in our shoes? How are we supposed to explain this to Greenpeace? Our Surveillance State put you on a terrorist watch list, but it was just a goof? How do you think that makes them feel?

Honestly, we have half a mind to take away some of your powers. It would be totally justified. One of your agents “photographed a Middle Eastern woman ‘in order to have something to show his supervisor’”? If you’ve got that much time on your hands, this whole protecting-the-country business can’t be as important as you say it is.

Sorry, sorry. We don’t mean to yell at you. We’re not going to take away your powers. You are totally important to us. You’re the best little Surveillance State in the whole world. 

Hey, we’re picking up a pizza for dinner. Want to ride along?

Of course you do. Come on, then.