To the Editor:
The recent arrest of journalist-activist Ken Krayeske at Gov. (M. Jodi) Rell’s inaugural parade is the latest in a growing series of government covert actions that make modern life feel more and more like a spy thriller.
Krayeske’s arrest brought to light the existence of a secret “suspicious persons” list provided to state police by the little-known Connecticut Intelligence Center. Apparently Krayeske got on the list because he was campaign director for Green Party candidate Cliff Thornton, and because he criticized Rell for refusing to debate Thornton.
This list may or may not be the same as the Violent Gang and Terrorist Organization File (VGTOF) maintained by the FBI. The VGTOF has included, among others, the American Friends Service Committee, a pacifist organization. And then there is the secret “no-fly” list which bans people from airplanes based on their political affiliations.
These secret lists, we are told, are a necessary tool of law enforcement, along with warrantless wiretapping and, as of last month, the opening of sealed mail without court orders.
In Stamford, the police department, with support from the Board of Representatives, is planning to install video surveillance cameras throughout the city to monitor people’s behavior in public places. This is already widespread in London and New York.
Secret lists, eavesdropping, hidden cameras. And we also have midnight deportations to secret overseas prisons (“extraordinary rendition”), indefinite detention without trial at Guantanamo, and the use of approved forms of torture to extract information.
Not very pretty. And not very effective, either. How can these heavy-handed, clandestine, and centralized methods of gathering information keep up with a world of burgeoning print media, the Internet, cell-phones and digital cameras?
Perhaps we need a new national security paradigm, based not on obscure government operations but on the collective intelligence of an informed citizenry.
Imagine, instead of J. Edgar Hoover and his G-men, a whole society armed with cellphones and computers, combing publicly available information sources and reporting their findings on blogs. Imagine, instead of a Central Intelligence Agency, a Citizen Intelligence Network. The young hackers will run circles around the old spies.
This is the concept behind Open Source Intelligence, a movement founded by former Marine and CIA officer Robert Steele.
To learn more about the movement, the Fairfield County Green Party will show and discuss a film about Robert Steele, “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Spying and Intelligence,” on Thursday, Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. at the Westport Public Library.
We need to start treating bloggers like Ken Krayeske as a national resource, not a national threat.