Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Big Brother Is Watching... Or Is He?

Via we have this fascinating story of an (unnamed) student who makes a very interesting allegation:
A senior at UMass Dartmouth was visited by federal agents two months ago, after he requested a copy of Mao Tse-Tung's tome on Communism called "The Little Red Book."

Two history professors at UMass Dartmouth, Brian Glyn Williams and Robert Pontbriand, said the student told them he requested the book through the UMass Dartmouth library's interlibrary loan program.

The student, who was completing a research paper on Communism for Professor Pontbriand's class on fascism and totalitarianism, filled out a form for the request, leaving his name, address, phone number and Social Security number. He was later visited at his parents' home in New Bedford by two agents of the Department of Homeland Security, the professors said.

The professors said the student was told by the agents that the book is on a "watch list," and that his background, which included significant time abroad, triggered them to investigate the student further.

"I tell my students to go to the direct source, and so he asked for the official Peking version of the book," Professor Pontbriand said. "Apparently, the Department of Homeland Security is monitoring inter-library loans, because that's what triggered the visit, as I understand it."

Although The Standard-Times knows the name of the student, he is not coming forward because he fears repercussions should his name become public. He has not spoken to The Standard-Times.

The Little Red Book, is a collection of quotations and speech excerpts from Chinese leader Mao Tse-Tung.

In the 1950s and '60s, during the Cultural Revolution in China, it was required reading. Although there are abridged versions available, the student asked for a version translated directly from the original book.

The student told Professor Pontbriand and Dr. Williams that the Homeland Security agents told him the book was on a "watch list." They brought the book with them, but did not leave it with the student, the professors said.
Considering the recent flap over the President's authorization of domestic spying upon American citizens without the legally-required warrants, the timing of this story stikes me as suspect.

If the Department of Homeland Security was indeed monitoring this student's activities, would it be in their interest to make their presence known (and thereby tipping-off any possible accomplices) by actually "visiting" him? Would it have not made more sense for them to continue their surveillance either with or without the needed court order? Could the student's story possibly be a fabrication?

And for the record: If any of you Keystone Kops D.H.S. types come to our home and visit harass me or mine, over our library reading-list, you'd better have your warrant and your badge numbers. Both will be publicized on this site.
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