Cartoons that Label You as a Potential Terrorist

Excellent blogger and runner Mappchik had an insightful post last week regarding a recently released (then amended and rereleased and then fully retracted) intelligence report from the Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC). MIAC is an arm of the Missouri Highway Patrol, and distributed the report to law enforcement agencies throughout the State.

In the original version, the Center’s document described typical militia members’ politics (or what the authors believed) as those likely to support 2008 presidential candidates Bob Barr, Chuck Baldwin, or Ron Paul.

The report also characterizes libertarians, those against abortion, and persons who display anti-IRS cartoons as potential terrorists.  
Evidently, the story captured national attention after a concerned police officer contacted a radio host and the radio personality ran with the story.

The revised version of the document is posted here. After viewing this “intelligence information,” I had a few comments:

1) Obviously, labeling groups of people as potential terrorists because of their voting tendencies or beliefs is idiotic. If the purpose of the report was to help police through education, promoting the idea that vehicles with Ron Paul bumper stickers are possible militia members certainly does not help officers perform more effectively.

2) After the inflammatory comments are removed, the report unfortunately reads like something from Wikipedia—not much useful information for officers working the streets (I think the equivalent of militia members do not like the government would be that certain types of gang members predominantly listen to rap music).

3) There are no endnotes/footnotes in the document that could provide a reader with references. With no citations, the sources of the information for the report it are difficult to establish the report’s information as credible.

4) Finally, the report refers to “Christian Identity” as a characteristic for militia members. The phrase is capitalized as a heading, and was confusing for me in understanding if the authors were referring to those who identify themselves as Christian as opposed to the followers of the idea of Christian Identity. I think adding the word “Movement” after Christian Identity would have better clarified the heading.

Encouraging authorities to judge individuals displaying bumper stickers or holding specific political views as potential terrorists undermines our free society.

Though I understand the interest in trying to assist police in identifying potentially dangerous individuals, I think citizen complaints about the report’s content were warranted, and police officials needed to retract the report-—even with the egg still covering their faces.


the warrior poets said...

We used to get daily emails about potential threats. On one hand I saw the usefullnes of it, on the other, it got to be a lot of broad information overload.

In the end, I think the best strategy became to educate law enforcement what to look for, make sure they know who to contact if they come across something that doesn't seem right, and save the bulletins for specific threats.

I like your blog. Good stuff.

Slamdunk said...

Thanks for the feedback.

mappchik said...

I had not seen the full document before, just a list of the highlights. Wow! Illustrated and everything.

Glad they pulled the report. A fellow I know up in New Hampshire was pointing out that, according to the documents, every NH resident would have to be considered a risk, just by having the state motto "Live Free or Die" on the license plate.

mrs. fuzz said...

I was just talking to my sister about this the other day. I agree with you 100% in your points. Well said. always interesting material to read here. I love it.

J. J. in Phila said...

I guess I'm in big trouble. I have an NRA sticker on my car. I'm Christian too.