By Michael Gould-Wartofsky
January 10, 2008
Free speech zones. Taser guns. Hidden cameras. Data mining. A new security curriculum. Private security contractors… Welcome to the new homeland security campus
From Harvard to UCLA, the ivory tower is fast becoming the latest watchtower in Fortress America. The terror warriors, having turned their attention to “violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism” — as it was recently dubbed in a House of Representatives bill of the same name — have set out to reconquer that traditional hotbed of radicalization, the university.
Building a homeland-security campus and bringing the university to heel is a seven-step mission:
1. Target dissidents: As the warfare state has triggered dissent, the campus has increasingly become a target gallery — with student protesters in the crosshairs. The government’s number one target? Peace and justice organizations.
From 2003 to 2007, an unknown number of them made it into the Pentagon’s “Threat and Local Observation Notice” system (TALON), a secretive domestic spying program ostensibly designed to track direct “potential terrorist threats” to the Department of Defense itself. Last year, via Freedom of Information Act requests, the ACLU uncovered at least 186 specific TALON reports on “anti-military protests” in the U.S. — some listed as “credible threats” — from student groups at the University of California-Santa Cruz, State University of New York, Georgia State University, and New Mexico State University, among other campuses.
At more than a dozen universities and colleges, police officers now double as full-time FBI agents and, according to the Campus Law Enforcement Journal, serve on many of the nation’s 100 Joint Terrorism Task Forces. These dual-purpose officer-agents have knocked on student activists’ doors from North Carolina State to the University of Colorado and, in one case, interrogated an Iraqi-born professor at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst about his antiwar views.
FBI agents, or their campus stand-ins, don’t have to do all the work themselves. Administrators often do it for them, setting up “free speech zones,” which actually constrain speech, and punishing those who step outside them. Last year, protests were typically forced into “free assembly areas” at the University of Central Florida and Clemson University; while students at Hampton and Pace Universities faced expulsion for handing out antiwar flyers, aka “unauthorized materials.”
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