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"A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on."

Last week, when the Patriot Act came up for renewal, two stories burst forward that cast a whole new light on the debate.

First, the New York Times came out with its story on the secret wiretaps by the NSA on suspected terrorists. The Times had apparently sat on this story for over a year at the Bush administration's request, but for some reason that no one has adequately managed to explain, those reasons became -- to use a rather time-honored phrase -- "no longer operative" last week, and the Times blew the lid off of it.

Secondly, a Massachusetts college student announced that he had been visited by the FBI after he had done the unthinkable -- he had asked for a copy of The Quotations of Chairman Mao ("Mao's Little Red Book") from his school's library. This smacked of heavy-handed Big Brotherism, and had a lot of people in a tizzy.

Only one problem with the student's story, though: it just doesn't check out.

The student, after his initial interview with the New Bedford Standard-Times, has refused all further contact. The Boston FBI office says it has absolutely no records and no information of any agents going to UMass-Dartmouth (not to be confused with the ivy-league Dartmouth College, located in Hanover, New Hampshire) on that pretext, or any other. And the school itself says it has had no contact with the FBI, and Mao's Book isn't on any "watch list" that it knows of.

Would it be paranoid of me to "question the timing" of these accounts?

Correction -- strike "FBI" from above and replace "Department of Homeland Security." My apologies for the brain fart.


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Comments (27)

Par for the course. Some (... (Below threshold)
joe:

Par for the course. Some (not all) leftists are convinced that anyone who disagrees with them must be fascists who WANT to investigate people for looking at certain books. For them, it's only a small leap to conclude that setting up a demonstration is a good idea, anything is OK "for the cause." Happens all the time on college campuses (false accusations of "reprssion" or racism).

Next thing you know he'll b... (Below threshold)

Next thing you know he'll be beating himself up and blaming it on nighttime attacks by nondescript conservatives in sun visors.

This story has fraud writte... (Below threshold)

This story has fraud written all over it -- the biggest mistake the kid made was not claiming that he had requested the Koran, or the biography of Muhammed or some muslim-related work.

And what's with the paper running with the story and agreeing to allow the student to remain anonymous? Is this what passes for journalism these days? Any college-age pissant can walk into a newspaper and tell a story, say "you can't use my name," and they print the story?

Now you can be an anonymous source for your own story?

Hmm.I got my hands... (Below threshold)

Hmm.

I got my hands on a copy of the USSR national anthem (as sung by the Red Army Choir). Think the feds are going to bust me now?

Excuse me, somebody's knocking on the door...

Original story for this tha... (Below threshold)
retired military:

Original story for this that started the mess.

http://www.southcoasttoday.com/daily/12-05/12-17-05/a09lo650.htm

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.
"I tell my students to go to the direct source, and so he asked for the official Peking version of the book," Professor Pontbriand said. "Apparently, the Department of Homeland Security is monitoring inter-library loans, because that's what triggered the visit, as I understand it."
Although The Standard-Times knows the name of the student, he is not coming forward because he fears repercussions should his name become public. He has not spoken to The Standard-Times.
The professors had been asked to comment on a report that President Bush had authorized the National Security Agency to spy on as many as 500 people at any given time since 2002 in this country.
The eavesdropping was apparently done without warrants.
The Little Red Book, is a collection of quotations and speech excerpts from Chinese leader Mao Tse-Tung.
In the 1950s and '60s, during the Cultural Revolution in China, it was required reading. Although there are abridged versions available, the student asked for a version translated directly from the original book.
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.
"My instinct is that there is a lot more monitoring than we think," he said.
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."

--------

Interesting comments from the professor.

"My instinct is that there is a lot more monitoring than we think," he said.
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 wonder whom he voted for in 04. Wouldnt have been Kerry now would it.


I wonder if I told one of m... (Below threshold)
retired miilitary:

I wonder if I told one of my college professors that I checked out Mao's little red book and didnt get visited by the FBI, DHS, NSA, CIA, or Secret Service if I could get a 10 paragraph write up in the New Bedford paper as well.

I picked up a Martha Stewar... (Below threshold)
George:

I picked up a Martha Stewart book. I swear a van
has been camped out across the street from my
house ever since.

There's just one thing to d... (Below threshold)

There's just one thing to do about this: find another student at the same school, and have him do the same thing.

;)

People are always paranoid ... (Below threshold)
jp2:

People are always paranoid about library searches for some reason. I'm more concerned about the access to credit card information.

I would say the Times story was sat on because of the election. Just like Time Magazine sat on the leak info because of the election. The Republican plan of scaring the media into sitting on negative stories has been an enormous success.

But the original article do... (Below threshold)
AL:

But the original article doesn't talk about FBI agents at all - it says two Homeland Security agents visited the student.

Of course, when you hit the... (Below threshold)

Of course, when you hit the UMass-Dartmouth online catalog, you get nineteen different matches for books on or by Mao, (some of which contain most of what's found in the Little Red Book), and you can get the actual volume for less than ten bucks at Barnes and Noble ($9.95, or $8.95 with your Evil Capitalist Discount Card).

cirby beat me to it. Book i... (Below threshold)
Faith+1:

cirby beat me to it. Book is available, and has been for some time, at most major book stores. If ordering books raised suspicions my hobby on military tactics ahs probably raised a few eyebrows. Especailly since the last book I picked up was The Art Of Guerilla Warfare by same said Mao...

Since a good number of the lefties know little to nothing about the military they rely on Hollywood to provide them with what goes on in such organizations.

And since, of course, they can't be blamed for their misfortunes there MUST be some world-wide conspiracy against them!

There is an old cliche that everyone is a self-made man...but only the successful ones take credit.

If we now live in a fascist... (Below threshold)
Proud Kaffir:

If we now live in a fascist state, why is it taking the Bush Administration so much time to round up these liberals and lock them away? Why do we have to listen to their barrages of outrageous lies and accusations on a daily basis?

Come on, Bushitler. You only have three years left. SO many liberals and so little time.

Shehanoia strikes every 15 ... (Below threshold)
epador:

Shehanoia strikes every 15 seconds.

I wonder if I told one o... (Below threshold)
mesablue:

I wonder if I told one of my college professors that I checked out Mao's little red book and didnt get visited by the FBI, DHS, NSA, CIA, or Secret Service if I could get a 10 paragraph write up in the New Bedford paper as well.

Well, at the very least, an "A" in that class.

jp2: "I would say the Times... (Below threshold)
F15C:

jp2: "I would say the Times story was sat on because of the election. Just like Time Magazine sat on the leak info because of the election. The Republican plan of scaring the media into sitting on negative stories has been an enormous success.
"

You forgot the smiley on the end. Elegant sarcasm though.

Check out The latest politi... (Below threshold)
Jack:

Check out The latest political comics from The Hollywood Liberal

A Christmas Message From The Republicans
http://www.thehollywoodliberal.com

If you like those, there are lots more AT. http://www.thehollywoodliberal.com/comic_feature_links.htm


Thank You

Someone should tell the 296... (Below threshold)

Someone should tell the 296 extremely paranoid folks over at Kos. That's how many comments his post about this story generated. I read a few dozen and wow! There are some real "black helicopter" types over there. Here's one of my favorites:

9/11 is looking more and more like what many of us were calling it after the advent of the USA PATRIOT Act--our own Reichstag Fire. 9/11 DID, indeed, 'change everything'.
Always thought it was " A l... (Below threshold)
pinky:

Always thought it was " A lie can get halfway round the world before the Truth has got its boots on."

But when the Truth gets its boots on it starts kicking.

Once again, "fake but accur... (Below threshold)
J:

Once again, "fake but accurate" rears its deformed head.

I'm just waiting for "it fits with the known facts, so it MUST be true" or the "well, this just SOUNDS like something that could happen in Boooosh's Amerika."

Wouldn't it make much more sense to go after the publisher of the book? With the countless copies published, does the US government even have the resources to follow ever person who wants to read (or have read) that book? C'mon Kos Kids, THINK (remember, you pride yourselves for being the supposedly "intellectual" crowd).

I think someone saw Conspiracy Theory.....

Well, when the Commander-in... (Below threshold)
jp2:

Well, when the Commander-in-Chief lies to the American public, repeatedly, it should cause alarm. Good Americans care about that sort of thing. Bad ones accept and defend it.

"Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires — a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so."

-GWB

jp2, this is really going t... (Below threshold)
John Irving:

jp2, this is really going to get in your britches a bit, but Bush didn't lie, technically. Echelon and similar electronic surveillance systems as were used aren't the same as a wiretap. He played "the definition of 'is" the way a President should, for the benefit of the country and confusion to our enemies. As I put it elsewhere, he's letting our enemies misunderestimate the master of strategery.
You're not a good American just because you oppose Bush, or the same if you support him, but it is a typical Bush-hater tactic to use that kind of phrasing to attempt to stifle dissent. Stick to the merits of your argument, it scans better without coming off like a shriek. 'K?

They will lie, if it serves... (Below threshold)
Muslihoon:

They will lie, if it serves the Cause. The ends justify the means. (Some Muslim groups--following taqiyyah or dissimulation--believe in the same.)

I had been advocating extensive domestic intelligence and surveillance for years. Rather than shock or dismay or worry, what I felt when I heard about Bush's actions was utter joy and satisfaction. I was never prouder of W.

The age when Communism or Socialism challenges America is over. As mentioned earlier in the comments, the government won't be watching for people accessing information on Communism or Socialism: they'll be concerned about people accessing information relating with actively contributing to terrorism. Besides, although library and purchase records might help, I think it is clear that the government's focus is on communication (email, websites, phone calls, faxes). People may believe a student would be watched for accessing info on Mao, but that's because many of us carry the legacy of anti-Communist and anti-Socialist elements from the Cold War: we expect the government to oppose Communism, Socialism, or the spread thereof. The enemy has changed, and is even more insidious than ever.

Case in point: read Sayyid Qutb's Milestones. Not a long booklet, but contains enough propaganda to turn people into zealous, fanatic, and revolutionary Muslims. Scary stuff.

This story appears to be an... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

This story appears to be another urban legend. Numerous Reporters and bloggers (me included and two professors didn't do their homework). From the very widely available Little red book. As Chairman Mao quotes "No investigation, no right to speak"

"Well, when the Commande... (Below threshold)

"Well, when the Commander-in-Chief lies to the American public, repeatedly, it should cause alarm. Good Americans care about that sort of thing. Bad ones accept and defend it." - jp2

"I did not have sex with that woman, Miss Lewinsky." - William Jefferson Clinton, 42nd President of the United States of America

"Muahahahahahahaha" ROTFLOL - SCSIwuzzy

This is starting to sound l... (Below threshold)
Eric:

This is starting to sound like a knock-off of Conspiracy Theory. I'm surprised the book wasn't The Catcher in the Rye.

UPDATE: <a href="http://www... (Below threshold)
Eric:

UPDATE: Federal agents' visit was a hoax

It was all a lie.




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