Sunday, December 18, 2005

Homeland Security is Protecting Your Interlibrary Loans

You think that you have to actually *do* something *wrong* to get the Department of Homeland Security to notice you? Think again.

A Student at the University of Massachusetts' Dartmouth campus got himself a visit from federal agents about two months ago.

Because he requested a book, for a class, through interlibrary loan. It wasn't "The Anarchist's Cookbook" or some tome on how to grow pot in a national forest, or the "Turner Diaries," but Mao's "Little Red Book."

From the New Bedford (MA) Standard Times ("Agents' visit chills UMass Dartmouth senior")
NEW BEDFORD -- 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.
// snip//
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.

Dr. Williams said in his research, he regularly contacts people in Afghanistan, Chechnya and other Muslim hot spots, and suspects that some of his calls are monitored.
Dr. Williams said he had been planning to offer a course on terrorism next semester, but is reconsidering, because it might put his students at risk.

"I shudder to think of all the students I've had monitoring al-Qaeda Web sites, what the government must think of that," he said. "Mao Tse-Tung is completely harmless."
Well, last I heard, The Chairman *is* dead...

See the update to this story at "Little Red Book" Story Leaves Many Commentators with Faces of Crimson

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