by John Hawkins | July 28, 2002 9:12 pm
Operation TIPS Hysteria: When the ‘Operation TIPS’ story came into the public eye, people across the political spectrum went nuts. Now the far-left starts shouting “police state” every time John Ashcroft sneezes. However, a lot of other people went along with the far-left loonies this time. All we heard for days was “Operation Rats”, “It’ll be worse than the KGB”, “it’s turning citizens into spies”, etc, etc. However, there were a couple of voices of reason out there….RWN and the Washington Post. Here’s what I said about ‘Operation TIPS’…
“My guess (and all you can really do at this point is guess) is that the Justice Department is simply going to have one centralized number for people to call into if they see something highly suspicious. So if you work at UPS and you someone sends a drum of anthrax through or if you are with a trucking company and you see a bunch of guys taking rocket launchers out of their truck and walking towards a nuclear power plant, you have one place to call where they can handle the situation and catalog the info. Yes, I would be concerned if this program was encouraging people to report things they see inside of people’s homes or to make calls every time someone in the program sees someone walking around with a Koran. But so far, there is no indication that is what the program is going to do. Furthermore, when you consider how much press this program has already received, I sincerely doubt that the Bush administration would risk large amounts of negative attention for doing anything too much beyond what I’ve already described. I’m sure most the fringe left has already thrown on their “I went to a police state and all I got was this lousy T-shirt” outfits to go with their tin hats but I’m reserving judgement until we know a little more what this program will actually do.”
It looks like the Washington Post and RWN were right and almost everyone else was wrong. From Friday’s Washington Post…
“Attorney General John D. Ashcroft told senators yesterday that he had scrapped plans to include a centralized database as part of a controversial program enlisting millions of Americans as anti-terrorist tipsters.
…But Ashcroft said the program is not envisioned to include information garnered from private homes by, for example, a telephone service person. Information reported to TIPS would be passed on to relevant law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, he said.”
So there’s no database and no snooping inside of people’s houses. So what we basically have here is a glorified version of Neighborhood Watch. Now shouldn’t all those people across the web who got hysterical about ‘Operations Tips’ set the record straight by admitting that they got it wrong?
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