The Police Firefighter State

November 30th, 2007at 12:25am Posted by Eli

Did you know that firefighters can enter your home without a warrant? Even if it’s not actually on fire, they can still perform inspections. Of course, it was only a matter of time before the Bush administration would seek to take advantage of that kind of access…

It was revealed last week that firefighters are being trained to not only keep an eye out for illegal materials in the course of their duties, but even to report back any expression of discontent with the government.

A year ago, Homeland Security gave security clearances to nine New York City fire chiefs and began sharing intelligence with them. Even before that, fire department personnel were being taught “to identify material or behavior that may indicate terrorist activities” and were also “told to be alert for a person who is hostile, uncooperative or expressing hate or discontent with the United States.

Um, you mean like I’m doing right now?

Unlike law enforcement officials, firemen can go onto private property without a warrant, not only while fighting fires but also for inspections. “It’s the evolution of the fire service,” said a Phoenix, AZ fire chief of his information-sharing arrangement with law enforcement.

“We used to just fight fires, but now we spy for the government too – it’s a natural progression.” Mission creep doesn’t get much creepier.

Keith Olbermann raised the alarm about the program on his show Wednesday, noting that “if the information-sharing program works in New York, the department says it will extend it to other major metropolitan areas, unless we stop them.” He then asked Mike German, a former FBI agent who is now with the ACLU, “This program seems to be turning [firefighters], essentially, into legally protected domestic spies, does it not?”

“That’s the entire intent,” German replied, noting the serious legal issues involved. “There is actually still a fourth amendment,” he pointed out, “and what makes a firefighter’s search reasonable is that it’s done to prevent a fire. If now firefighters are going in with this secondary purpose, that end run around the fourth amendment won’t work, and it’s likely that they will find themselves in legal trouble.”

I would hope that most firefighters are just as appalled by this idea as I am. Olbermann video at the Raw Story link.

(h/t AZ Matt)

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Republicans,Terrorism,Wankers

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