Monday, September 13, 2004

McCarthy's ghost

She comes to this late, your blogstress admits, but a peculiar development is worth noting. Last month, it seems, a phase of the USA Patriot Act kicked in that all but demands a loyalty oath from the non-profit organizations to which federal government employees can donate via payroll deduction, a program known as the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). Under the USA Patriot Act (an Orwellian bit of nomenclature if there ever was one), organizations participating in the CFC must provide employee rosters to be matched against so-called terrorist watch lists. Any matches between names disqualifies the organzation's participation unless it fires the branded employee.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) asserts that most such watch lists employed so far in other homeland security endeavors have been riddled with errors, and so it has withdrawn from the CFC program rather than comply with government vetting of its personnel rolls. The ACLU stands to lose some $500,000 in annual contributions from the payroll deduction program.

There's an ill wind blowing through the land, brothers and sisters, when one's name may appear on a watch list with no means of recourse, when the FBI is deployed to "interview" elderly black voters in Florida and student protesters in New York, when Capitol Hill, where your blogstress dwells, is kept in virtual lockdown for no other reason, she suspects, than to keep congressional staffers on both sides of the aisle toiling in the sort of fear so useful to those who loathe our way of life--no, not the jihadists (though they no doubt qualify); your Webwench speaks of the likes of Attorney General John Ashcroft.

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