‘You’re traveling into another dimension….’
Howdy pardners, saddle up those broomsticks, break out those trusty Red Ryder BB guns and pin on your Junior G-Man badges, for your ol’ Uncle Sam has got a deal for you. Yessirreebob, this one’s more fun than Captain Midnight, Secret Squirrel and Joe Friday combined. And you don’t have to send in any Ovaltine labels, don’t have to do a pinky swear, don’t have to pledge allegiance to the Mayberry Minutemen. Heckfire, this is more fun than the He-Man Woman-Haters Club.
This new government-sanctioned club has a catchy name, InfraGard, and has some fancy-schmancy rules for entry – like being a US citizen – but, hey, once you’re in you can become Elliott Ness, Deputy Dawg and the Lone Ranger all rolled into one. So, return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, and let your benevolent uncle tell you all about InfraGard.
(Cue theme music to “Underdog.”)
If you’ve never heard of InfraGard, you’re not alone. Although it’s been hiding in plain sight since 1996, only lately has it begun to come under some scrutiny in the blogosphere, if not yet the mainstream press. The Progressive magazine and “Democracy Now!” satellite TV program have picked up on it but the rest of the media seems as blasé as Ward Cleaver about it.
Actually, it started innocuously enough, apparently by a bunch of IT nerds recruited by the FBI to help crack some cyber espionage cases. But after 9-11 it, like everything else Bush touches, it turned into something far more sinister and menacing. It was brought under the Department of Homeland Security, where it slowly started morphing into this group of well-connected businessmen who are empowered to protect the infrastructure in case of… in case of God knows what. It’s as if these Republican fat cats resented the fact that Elvis got to carry a G-Man badge and narc on druggies (except himself, of course) and decided they too deserved a glow-in-the-dark, secret de-coder ring. So when Andy was out of town they got Barney to deputize them and Gomer and Floyd….
But I digress.
Honestly, though, if this weren’t so serious it would be as laughable as an episode of Andy. And under any other administration it would not send up such a red flag. But because it fits so neatly into the Bush pattern of a unitary presidency accountable to no one – you know the drill, overseas rendition camps, ignoring FISA laws, repealing habeus corpus, Guantánamo, US attorney firings, waterboarding, signing statements ignoring acts of Congress, warrantless wiretapping, telecom immunity for its role in facilitating said wiretapping, etc., etc. – it’s time to blow the whistle on InfraGard.
The group has mushroomed from 1,700 members in a handful of chapters after 9-11 to over 23,000 in 86 chapters today. But it’s not sheer numbers that’s so chilling, it’s the powers entrusted to them. Not only do InfraGard members receive warnings of terrorist threats directly from the FBI before the public does, but, according to one whistleblower, in the event of martial law, they are authorized to use lethal force if necessary to quell the threat. So what we have is a group of GOP vigilante guntoters shooting up Dodge City to protect us from Ernest T. Bass.
Sorry. Somebody slap me, this is serious.
Item 1: On May 7, 2007, President Duh issued a national security directive on continuity policy in case of an emergency. It gives him the power to control the whole government, to protect the Constitution (how ironically sickening is that?) and to involve the private sector (InfraGard?) to protect computers, public utilities, etc. from sabotage.
Item 2: I found the InfraGard website and pulled up the “InfraGard Domestic Membership Application.” On page 2 it reads: “Information received from InfraGard members… shall be protected from agency disclosure under… the Freedom of Information Act.” Now, I take that to mean that if you or I or a member of the media wanted to find out something about an act by an InfraGard member, he or she would be protected. Not only would the act be protected but the person would be exempted from the law.
Worst-case scenario: It’s just before the election and McCain trails Obama by double-digit points. Terrorists wipe out a city the size of Kernersville. Bush declares martial law, suspends the elections and seizes unconditional wartime executive power. Peasants revolt, fighting in the streets ensues. An InfraGard member, entrusted with shoot-to-kill authority, takes it upon himself to preserve truth, justice and the American way, and plugs a bunch of leftie tree-huggers. Violence escalates. Fearful Americans kill off one another over an unseen, perceived enemy. Terrorists laugh.
“Twilight Zone” comes on. It’s “Monsters of Maple Street” episode. Terrorists laugh some more.
Fade to black.
Ogi may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, heard Tuesdays at 9:30 a.m. on “The Dusty Dunn Show” on WGOS 1070 AM, and seen on “Triad Today” hosted by Jim Longworth Fridays at 6:30 a.m. on ABC 45 and Sundays at 10 p.m. on WMYV 48.