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Little Red Book Draws Government Attention

Zonk posted about 9 years ago | from the they-have-nothing-better-to-do? dept.

United States 1088

narcolepticjim writes "An unnamed Dartmouth student was visited by Homeland Security for requesting a copy of Mao Zedong's Little Red Book for a class project." From the article: "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."

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And if you are lonely this holiday season... (5, Funny)

Cherita Chen (936355) | about 9 years ago | (#14281052)

Are you lonely? Looking for some company this holiday season? Follow this link and you too can schedule a visit from Uncle Sam...

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/offer-listing/083 512388X/ref=dp_olp_2//102-9865629-6948961?conditio n=all [amazon.com]

Re:And if you are lonely this holiday season... (4, Funny)

Krach42 (227798) | about 9 years ago | (#14281164)

Pff... you're probably getting referal credit.... I'll just search for it on my own, so you don't get credit for my order, you karma whore. ;)

Re:And if you are lonely this holiday season... (5, Funny)

wetfeetl33t (935949) | about 9 years ago | (#14281227)

Hmmm... No one has shown up yet. Maybe they aren't actually watchi...

Well, hey... (5, Funny)

AEton (654737) | about 9 years ago | (#14281054)

...at least he got material for his research paper on fascism and totalitarianism.

Thanks, I'll be here all day.

Re:Well, hey... (5, Funny)

iluvcapra (782887) | about 9 years ago | (#14281077)

Thanks, I'll be here all day.

Don't be so sure of that.


Re:Well, hey... (4, Funny)

crimson_alligator (768283) | about 9 years ago | (#14281221)

I for one welcome our new anti-anti-counter-revolutionary overlords.

Re:Well, hey... (3, Funny)

guzzler69 (581056) | about 9 years ago | (#14281080)

Aaaa no. He didn't get to keep the 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. "

So the kid still needs a copy to finish his assignment.

Re:Well, hey... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14281091)

Whoosh. That went right over your head, didn't it?

Re:Well, hey... (1)

Ruff_ilb (769396) | about 9 years ago | (#14281109)

I don't think you got the funny, which probably makes you a 'Good American Citizen' Either that, or you're being so amazingly sarcastic it's absurd.

Re:Well, hey... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14281120)

The book? What does he need the book for?

Re:Well, hey... (3, Insightful)

S.O.B. (136083) | about 9 years ago | (#14281118)

...at least he got material for his research paper on fascism and totalitarianism.

Luckily his next assignment is on George Orwell's 1984.

Re:Well, hey... (3, Funny)

boarder8925 (714555) | about 9 years ago | (#14281138)

Speaking out against the government is strictly forbidden. Please remember to follow our motto [mac.com] .

We're watching you,
The Ministry of Homeland Security

funny ? (1)

Tsiangkun (746511) | about 9 years ago | (#14281145)

Most insightful joke of the day.

Remember Kids... (5, Insightful)

Ruff_ilb (769396) | about 9 years ago | (#14281237)

War Is Peace
Freedom Is Slavery
Ignorance Is Strength

(http://www.studentsfororwell.org/ [studentsfororwell.org] )

first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14281055)

first post!

that is all

Wait, WTF??!?!?!? (4, Insightful)

Caspian (99221) | about 9 years ago | (#14281056)

Why did he have to provide his "name, address, phone number and Social Security number" ... to read a book?

Cue discussion of RMS's paper on "The Right To Read", but still. Is this just sensationalism, or does one actually have to give all one's personal information to read this [barnesandnoble.com] ?

Re:Wait, WTF??!?!?!? (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | about 9 years ago | (#14281065)

Why do I need to be searched and scanned to sit on a seat in an air based vechile? A lot of things don't make sense these days.. and very few people are doing anything to contest them.

Re:Wait, WTF??!?!?!? (4, Insightful)

Caspian (99221) | about 9 years ago | (#14281070)

This is a bit different. One bomb on a plane will kill everyone on board. One book is still, well, just a fucking book.

Re:Wait, WTF??!?!?!? (4, Insightful)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | about 9 years ago | (#14281094)

Knowledge is power, more power than any firearm or bomb can give you. The current political parties are abusing the stupidity of people to do whatever they deem fit.

The governments are paranoid of anything with knowledge, scared they'll lose their grip around the publics neck. A book or a bomb.. in the right hands a single word can change the world..

Re:Wait, WTF??!?!?!? (4, Insightful)

gilroy (155262) | about 9 years ago | (#14281119)

Blockquoth the poster:

  This is a bit different. One bomb on a plane will kill everyone on board. One book is still, well, just a fucking book.

To the Powers that Be, a single book is far more dangerous than any weapon of mass destruction, real or imagined. As was once said (Henry Peter Brougham),

Education makes peple easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern, but impossible to enslave.

Let the people start to read, to educate themselves, and how the hell are you going to rule them?

Re:Wait, WTF??!?!?!? (3, Insightful)

luvirini (753157) | about 9 years ago | (#14281157)

That is why TV is portrayed as the best way to spend any extra time you may have, so as to not even think about reading.

Re:Wait, WTF??!?!?!? (4, Funny)

iamacat (583406) | about 9 years ago | (#14281151)

One book is still, well, just a fucking book.

I missed the part where requesting a copy of Karma Sutra triggers a visit from Kenneth Star

Re:Wait, WTF??!?!?!? (2, Insightful)

Caspian (99221) | about 9 years ago | (#14281084)

It's hilarious, really. In some communist countries, the very idea of capitalism is treated as one would treat an infectious disease, and books/sites about it are banned. Are we (here in the US) now stooping so low as to treat the idea of communism precisely the same way?

Re:Wait, WTF??!?!?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14281134)

What do you mean, 'now'? The USA has always treated communism that way.

Re:Wait, WTF??!?!?!? (4, Interesting)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | about 9 years ago | (#14281173)

You missed the cold war didn't you?

"He's a communism!" and off you went to a prison..

The people in power now are the children of the cold war era.. terrorist, communist, witch or heretic. Same name, same tactic, different era.

History repeats it's self. We have a revolution, we say "we've fixed it", so we care for a while. Then we get lax and more idiots come in and do the same thing over again. Revolution is needed right now, revolution is very difficult though. You have to scrape the bottom of the barrel before you see how bright the sky truely is.. we're getting to the bottom of the barrel now, the question is how long untill something happens to let people see the sky.

Re:Wait, WTF??!?!?!? (1)

Minupla (62455) | about 9 years ago | (#14281099)

From the FA:

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.

Re:Wait, WTF??!?!?!? (2, Informative)

EdwinBoyd (810701) | about 9 years ago | (#14281104)

TFA explains that the particular version he was looking for was not available. So he filled out a request for the inter-library exchange. My local library has a similar feature and the phone number is used to send an automated call when the book/media is available. This is important as if the requested item is not picked up within a day it goes to the next person on the waiting list.

Re:Wait, WTF??!?!?!? (1)

broohaha (5295) | about 9 years ago | (#14281115)

Why did he have to provide his "name, address, phone number and Social Security number" ... to read a book?

I think it's required for the interlibrary loan. I know that's not the case at the U of Chicago, possibly because the library already has it on file, but it may be so at Dartmouth. Still, had they not required an SS#, he'd still have been paid a visit by the G-Men.

Re:Wait, WTF??!?!?!? (1)

s20451 (410424) | about 9 years ago | (#14281125)

It was an interlibrary loan request. These requests incur some cost to the library, so they probably didn't want it to be frivolous. And presumably they would want to contact him when the book arrived from the other library so that he could come and pick it up. Don't know why they would need his SSN, but once you know name, address, and phone number, SSN is not much extra loss of privacy.

On the other hand, personal identifying information is needed to get a plain old library card, so that people have some incentive to bring the books back. If you want to keep your tinfoil hat on tightly, you would never check anything out of the library.

Not to spoil the paranoia... (5, Informative)

Senjutsu (614542) | about 9 years ago | (#14281128)

but he had to fill out a form because he was requesting an inter-library loan. I don't know how your school works, if the loan department can psychically detect what you want to request and save you the trouble of filling at a form or whatever, but obviously his school works the old-fashioned way.

Not that this excuses the utterly retarded HomeSec nonsense, of course.

SSNs as College Student ID Numbers (5, Informative)

billstewart (78916) | about 9 years ago | (#14281178)

For interlibrary loan, he presumably needed to leave his name, address, and student ID number with the library so they could contact him when the book arrived.

There are way too many US colleges that routinely violate the privacy of their students and expose them to identity theft by using their Social Security Number as a student ID number, because it's ostensibly unique and they sometimes also need it if the student's an employee or has a government loan. Fortunately neither school I attended did that, but it's extremely common. Similarly, many US states use the SSN as a driver's license number, and all of them collect the SSN in keep it in their databases. And many medical insurance companies use SSNs as a customer ID number (HIPAA's changing that a bit, but Medicare's still based on SSNs so they usually need it anyway.) And too many companies use SSNs as an employee ID. It's appalling, but get used to it.

Re:SSNs as College Student ID Numbers (1)

michaeltoe (651785) | about 9 years ago | (#14281213)

UMass Amherst has ID numbers separate from SNN, and it may also be true of UMass Dartmouth, but I don't know.

Hey, Dumbass! RTFA!!!!!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14281179)

Here is a clue-by-four. Grasp in both hands, hit yourself in the head. Repeat until you get a clue or knock yourself the hell out. He was borrowing the book through interlibrary

...requested the book through the UMass Dartmouth library's interlibrary loan program.

Guess what. To borrow through interlibrary loan, you have to identify yourself. The school has chosen, name, number, address, and my personal favorite barcoad, the Social Security Number. You know why all that information is required? So they can uniquely identify each indivual in their database. Why uniquely identify them? So students get the correct book and do not steal those books.

Be upset that every organization in the US that want to track someone uses their SSN, which makes it so easy to perpetrate fraud on an individual. This is not specific to that book alone, but to all books in all interlibrary loan situations. If they were that interested in finding the kid, they would not have needed his SSN to track him down. Be uncomfortable that they new he was looking for the book because they were tracking interlibrary loan usage. They probably would never have known if it was available in his campus library and just checked it out there on his library card.

Oh, and Merry Christmas!


holiday - n. - A religious feast day; a holy day.;[Middle English holidai, holy day, from Old English hlig dæg : hlig, holy; see holy + dæg, day; see day.]

Re:Wait, WTF??!?!?!? (3, Informative)

bhsx (458600) | about 9 years ago | (#14281184)

"the student told them he requested the book through the UMass Dartmouth library's interlibrary loan program"
He used the campus' library to request the book from another library.
Not that that makes it right.

Re:Wait, WTF??!?!?!? (1)

NitsujTPU (19263) | about 9 years ago | (#14281222)

It's interlibrary loan.

You give your data so you can be notified when the book is available, and your social security number to prove that you are allowed to check it out (IE, that you're a student or hold a card with the university library).

That's not part of some authorization process.

quick (4, Insightful)

jay2003 (668095) | about 9 years ago | (#14281062)

Everyone go checkout Mao's book from your local library. If enough people do this, the FBI will have to give up on this type of spying as I don't think they can visit 100,000 people.

Re:quick (5, Funny)

grub (11606) | about 9 years ago | (#14281074)

I don't think they can visit 100,000 people.

Not yet, but if your plan works the DHS will get increased funding for more agents to investigate the "epidemic of thinking".

Re:quick (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | about 9 years ago | (#14281141)

You do understand if we all did that Slashdot might be in deep trouble right?

A group of paranoid people with a lot of power in the IT industry all grouped together and an intrest in communist ideals.. with the current "Cyber war" (not my words) linked with China, we're asking for trouble.

"Someone likes communism.. has access to a banks network... yep, not suspicious there. Not like he might try and screw everyone over for his mother land".

not a free county (1)

jay2003 (668095) | about 9 years ago | (#14281223)

You understand that ifyou fear the consequences of reading a book, we're living in a police state and not a free country. Guess Bush was right when he said the Constituion is just "a goddamned piece of paper." [capitolhillblue.com]

Now you know (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14281067)

This is where your hard earned tax money goes. Read and weep.

Re:Now you know (4, Insightful)

mhollis (727905) | about 9 years ago | (#14281096)

To quote Will Rogers, "Be happy you don't get all the government you're paying for."

This is unfortunately predictable (5, Insightful)

nebaz (453974) | about 9 years ago | (#14281072)

Well, it's not as though this kind of thing is unexpected. Once the
government is given power, it is human nature to abuse it. What I
don't understand is why people fall hook, line, and sinker, for the
same techniques throughout history over and over again.

1) Instill fear in the population somehow, by either orchestating or latching on to
a catastrophic event,
2) Tell the population that you will take care of it, blame enemies of the state,
3) Go to war, claim critics of the war are unpatriotic, out of touch, part of an "elite".

This is all classic power grab politics, and yet it happens again and again in

Why do people not learn from history? It is clear that those in power have a
vested interest in having a sheeple populace. A critical thinking, well informed
electorate, is the biggest enemy to would be dictators in a democratic society.

Start with the children. I guess fear really is the mind killer. And, at the risk of
pulling a Godwin, two quotes from Hermann Goering, leader of Hitler's Luttewaffe.

"Education is dangerous - Every educated person is a future enemy"

"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

Finally, just a minor nit. The submitter claims the student was a "Dartmouth" student, whereas the article states that the student was from "U Mass-Dartmouth".

Re:This is unfortunately predictable (1)

BoomerSooner (308737) | about 9 years ago | (#14281105)

So just relax, sit back, and watch the fiasco. History repeats itself (yet again). I'm wondering how long it will be until we're the fascist leaders of the world? Oh well, as long as Wal*Mart can keep making money we're alright, right? Lol, Europe is f'd up too but for some reason when I get back from trips abroad you really get a different perspective of US attitudes and backward/sheltered thinking. Fox News, the one you can count on to get it wrong!

Re:This is unfortunately predictable (1)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | about 9 years ago | (#14281204)

Lol, Europe is f'd up too but for some reason when I get back from trips abroad you really get a different perspective of US attitudes and backward/sheltered thinking.
Maybe because there's a lot more people in Europe with "happened right on my doorstep" experience with fascism? I expect most people in the US view fascism as something that happens to other countries (which probably makes us sooo much more vulnerable to it).

Re:This is unfortunately predictable (1)

luvirini (753157) | about 9 years ago | (#14281135)

Very true, exactly how fasist goverments work.

They need to manufacture/invent a clear enemy and threat to take over and then use that same threat as excuse to take the population control steps.

From now on that student will have a record at Gestap^h^h^h^h^h Department of Homeland Security as potential terrorist.

Next steps will include total supression of dangerous books from public, so you will not be even able to request such a dangerous book without going personally to a Department of Homeland Security Office and giving full DNA samples and fingerprints and photos and such directly to the register before being denied.

Re:This is unfortunately predictable (2, Interesting)

Timex (11710) | about 9 years ago | (#14281161)

Why do people not learn from history?

Let's see...
  1. Kids these days (especially in Massachusetts, where the MCAS is required) are learning just enough "canned" material to pass standardized testing.

  2. Because of point #1, kids aren't taught to think for themselves. Those that manage to learn to figure things out are either bucking the system or homeschooled (which may be construed as the same thing).

  3. People, in general, are stupid. Why else would anyone vote party-line (for Democrat or Republican!) anymore?

Finally, just a minor nit. The submitter claims the student was a "Dartmouth" student, whereas the article states that the student was from "U Mass-Dartmouth".

Exactly. Little details like "U-Mass" mean the difference between an Ivy League school (which is likely why it caught the editor's attention) and a state-run university.

Re:This is unfortunately predictable (4, Insightful)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | about 9 years ago | (#14281224)

Because people are stupid. Even the people on Slashdot will make stupid mistakes and instead of going "Hey, I sure fucked that up". We try to find some upside and convince ourselvs we're not as dumb as we truely are.

Human nature wants someone to protect us, we want to believe the world is a happy place and all will be well. Because if we look in the mirror we see someone we don't like and a world we can't stand.

It works the same way religion does. If you look at something else, you don't have to see the real world. It's the same reason so many body builders work so hard to get great bodies. They often hate the person inside so much they want to change it.

People believe what they are told.. because if they don't, they end up broken..

Wrong School (4, Informative)

dunelin (111356) | about 9 years ago | (#14281081)

If you mean the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, you're right.

This could never happen in America (4, Funny)

craXORjack (726120) | about 9 years ago | (#14281086)

I'm proud to be an American
Where at least I know I free...

Do you think maybe... (1)

adjwilli (530933) | about 9 years ago | (#14281087)

Do you think maybe they were eavesdroppping [salon.com] on him too?

Re:Do you think maybe... (1)

Dread_ed (260158) | about 9 years ago | (#14281174)

Nice troll. Great how you link to an article that you cannot read the details of without soul sucking registration.

If he is communicating with someone overseas that happens to be on a watch list as a person of interest, suspected terrorist, or confirmed enemy of the US then, yes, he probably is being eavesdropped on.

IF he is sending email to his grandmother in Moscow he is probably not getting any action from the NSA, CIA, or any other government agency.

hand me that handbasket, please... (5, Funny)

pla (258480) | about 9 years ago | (#14281088)

Better Together
Buy this book with Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler today!
Total List Price: $33.95
Buy Together Today: $23.96

Re:hand me that handbasket, please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14281171)

Buy this together with "My Pet Goat" and you're all set!

Re:hand me that handbasket, please... (1)

Animats (122034) | about 9 years ago | (#14281172)

When I ordered my own Little Red Book, Amazon.com offered to bundle The Communist Manifesto. But I already have a copy of that. (When the Soviet Union collapsed, the Stanford Bookstore had a sale: "All Communism 80% off").

"Workers of the world, Unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains! Let the ruling classes tremble..."

You miss the point (1)

turgid (580780) | about 9 years ago | (#14281216)

It's only the commie books that the US has trouble with.

Hitler was a fascist.

Article went 404! (1)

Eberlin (570874) | about 9 years ago | (#14281092)

Oooh, creepy!

Anyhoo, filling out a request shouldn't require your Social Security number, I'd imagine. Aren't good ol' interlibrary loans done based on name/address/phone information? Then again, I'd think the DHS wouldn't need an SSN if they've got everyting else. Give 'em a reason and they're there. No need to click your heels three times.

At the local library, information is kept only on books you have out on loan -- so they know what's been borrowed and needs to be returned. Once the book is returned, the record supposedly goes away. That way, there's no tracking of anyone's book-borrowing patterns.

Now whether a nightly database backup or whatnot exists is another story. It would be relatively trivial to piece together enough of that info to come up with something.

Needless to say, this is just another recent transition from witch to communist to terrorist. Same general idea, different era.

Re:Article went 404! (1)

Krach42 (227798) | about 9 years ago | (#14281215)

Aren't good ol' interlibrary loans done based on name/address/phone information?

If this were at a college, like it appears that it were. Then the school likely uses the students SSN as a unique numeric id for the students.

Though, like you noticed, that's an entirely different matter from the Dept of HomeSec coming out and questioning a college student over his reading material.

Mixed feelings (1, Insightful)

jmorris42 (1458) | about 9 years ago | (#14281095)

Dunno, after reading the whole article I'm a bit conflicted. Keeping an eye out is what we expect the Feds to be doing, and someone who travels abroad frequently, not only wants to read Mao but wants to be sure they are reading the official version instead of just any translation and is clustered with a lot of other hits on the automated sensors due to the professor's frequent contacts in watch list countries, added to the hits on al-Qaeda websites he was assigning students.

Sounds like this prof is actually trying to educate his students instead of being one of these pro-terrorist cranks the university system seems to enjoy hiring, but shouldn't we be wanting the Feds to go have a look for themselves to make sure everything was on the level? Be careful before tossing out the standard issue slashbot line, because when something eventually goes BOOM you won't be allowed to ask "Why didn't the spooks connect the dots and prevent it" if you are now howling that they shouldn't be looking for the dots.

Does sound like this was a case for them to have done a more quiet investigation though instead of coming in flying the colors. Good spook action is invisible, the quiet defenders of Truth, Justice and the American Way of life and all that stuff.

No, what shocks and confounds me is what sort of instituition is Dartmouth anyway! No copy of Mao in the library, they have to request one via ILL? Shocking.

Re:Mixed feelings (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14281123)

you serious? you want to live like that? jesus, and you seriously think that america is in a position to lecture the rest of the world about freedom? If this was happening under saddams regime for someone checking out 'the wealth of nations' from his library, you would be going apeshit.
I was under the stupid impression that america didnt persecute people for just reading a book, but it seems your coutnry is even mroe of a facist state nowadays than I thought.

Re:Mixed feelings (-1, Flamebait)

jmorris42 (1458) | about 9 years ago | (#14281194)

> I was under the stupid impression that america didnt persecute people for just reading a book,

They asked him some questions and went away. No rubber hoses were involved. They didn't rape his girlfriend in front of him like your buddy Saddam was fond of.

If they don't ask questions how are they supposed to learn anything. Helping the police do their duty is a responsibility of a citizen, even in, especially in, a free country.

Re:Mixed feelings (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14281187)

not only wants to read Mao

WTF? Why should reading a book be suspicious. Of all things why are the feds protecting US citizens from people reading Mao. Are they trying to stop terrorists or a Cultural Revolution?

Re:Mixed feelings (4, Insightful)

slavemowgli (585321) | about 9 years ago | (#14281189)

I'd understand if the feds paid someone a visit after they bought - for example - large quantities of chemicals that can be used to build a bomb, or something similar, and I'd expect them to pay someone a visit who tries to buy a large number of guns and ammo for them, and similar things. That's OK.

But a *book*? And what's more, a book that contains nothing but *quotations*? It's not even the anarchist's cookbook or something - just a collection of quotes. Sure, it was Mao who wrote it, but seriously - this is no more justified than McCarthyism was. You could just as well advocate paying someone a visit for trying to obtain a copy of, say, de bello gallico (Julius Caesar was a dictator, too, and not exactly squeamish when dealing with his enemies).

Re:Mixed feelings (0)

jmorris42 (1458) | about 9 years ago | (#14281236)

> But a *book*

A book is far more dangerous than any gun ever was. You see guns aren't dangerous, it is the person holding it and it is ideas that animate us.

> this is no more justified than McCarthyism was

Despite what your Maxist professor or the evening news taught you, McCarthy was spot on in almost every one of his accusations, something you can confirm for yourself now that the archives of the former Soviet Union have been opened. Most so called 'innocent victims' were in the actual pay of the KGB and the rest were involved in treason without pay. If you are going to learn from history make sure you learn what actually happened instead of the mythology of the moonbats.

Re:Mixed feelings (4, Insightful)

luvirini (753157) | about 9 years ago | (#14281193)

the point was not investigation, it was intimidation. That is how Totalitarian countries work.

Re:Mixed feelings (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14281198)

Stop censorship, eliminate the SLC funding that enables CIPA.

My head asplode.

Nice troll, sir.

Re:Mixed feelings (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14281202)

Be careful before tossing out the standard issue slashbot line, because when something eventually goes BOOM you won't be allowed to ask "Why didn't the spooks connect the dots and prevent it" if you are now howling that they shouldn't be looking for the dots.

Typical "the government needs to be totalitarian to protect me" BS. Don't let them run roughshod over my rights and it's my fault if something happens? Let me give you clue, Einstein. Reading Mao or anything else like it isn't a good marker for a potential terrorist threat. It's a great marker for someone who may be thinking for themselves, not like the direction this country is going, and actually might stand up and say something about it. And if you think that isn't the danger that the people in power are currently most worried about, you're even more naive than you sound.

Re:Mixed feelings (1)

SengirV (203400) | about 9 years ago | (#14281210)

You should know that you need to check you brain at the door here on /. anything that makes one rethink their leftist leanings will NOT be tolerated here.

Search this for 'Brooklyn Bridge' - http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/12/16/politics /main1132556.shtml [cbsnews.com]

I know many here would be screaming bloody murder if this attack had happened and they would all be pointing their fingers at W. But when a plan is foiled like this it still not good enough.

I'd LOVE for some blowback on the misuse of the Patriot Act and things like this, and that should be a condition of the Patriot Act's renual. Accountability is key, and right now I don't see any.

Re:Mixed feelings (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14281211)

I find this reply pathetically ironic and hypocritical after seeing your signature line.

If it makes me a Slashbot to oppose government intrusion and censorship, then call me one (for one of the few times I agree with the majority of people here).

smells like orwell spirit (1)

ShineyMcShine (799387) | about 9 years ago | (#14281097)

of 1984...

Pretty darn scary... (1)

Ruff_ilb (769396) | about 9 years ago | (#14281101)

Am I not the only one that finds this not only outrageous but terrifying? Not only are two federeal agents coming to the home of someone who simply requested a book (And not even like "Terrorism for Dummies", at that, just a book of quotes), but it's OUR tax money at work sponsoring this. I wonder where the government reasonably bases this sort of decision on...

Sources (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14281207)

Am I not the only one that finds this not only outrageous but terrifying?

Sure, if it's true.

The story is based mostly on third-hand information: The agents talked to the student, the student talked to the professors, the professors talked to the media.

It's like a game of telephone. Information can be exaggerated or it can be lost. The people who really need to comment on this are the student and the feds.

There's no indication that the reporter tried to contact the Homeland Security people to get their angle on this. And it's not clear that the reporter even tried to contact the student. It says only that "he has not spoken to The Standard-Times."

This makes me sad... (1)

Gnascher (645346) | about 9 years ago | (#14281110)

I really don't like the direction this country's taking. :(

Fundies, big-brother tactics ... at least the 'Patriot Act' was not reapproved, but I'm sure they've got some other stick they're prepared to use.

Hey, why's there a black heli......

wow (0)

groovy_daemon (103445) | about 9 years ago | (#14281111)

As a marxist, I find this insane. Is there a huge wave of communists knocking down the door of the goverment? I mean, how naive is the goverment. I can read any damn book I want and you can't do anything about it.

Libraries (1)

br00tus (528477) | about 9 years ago | (#14281113)

I have never trusted libraries. I read stuff by Mao as well but I never check it out of the library. Usually I read it there. I read all 637 pages of "Fanshen" at my local library, and have started on the sequel, "Shenfan".

At the New York Public Library on 42nd Street, you have to fill out your name and address to request a book (which you can't take out). I always give a fake name and address. I used to read Bell Labs RECORD, AT&T Technology and stuff like that, as well as other stuff. The Mid-Manhattan Library used to have the Great Soviet Encyclopedia, but it is not there anymore for whatever reason. Now it is in the NYPL, in a special room, with an even more rigorous list. I also noticed the largest local library to me had "Molotov Remembers" on the shelves before it disappeared from the catalog.

I'm not getting over on anyone, I'm being gotten over by being successfully intimidated. I sometimes volunteer at a local volunteer-run bookstore where people can browse, borrow or buy books from publishers like Soft Skull Press, Autonomedia, South End Press etc. I've also scanned public domain stuff in and put it up for sites into that. I also contribute to wikis like Anarchopedia and Red Wiki. You can hear stuff other than the Republicrat party line in the US, but it takes a little bit of work. I do it, and also try to make it easier for others, and others doing the same makes it easier for me.

Heh heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14281114)

Now watch those Slashdot reading, right wing faggots justify OHS's incredibly retarded action. Ohmigod, if people read commie literature, they'll become commie terrorists!

What's next? Sun Tze?

I go to UMass Amherst... (1, Troll)

michaeltoe (651785) | about 9 years ago | (#14281116)

... and this kind of stuff is news to me. I'm not going to the library from now on.

I get all the freedom I need from Rush Limbaugh (0, Flamebait)

gelfling (6534) | about 9 years ago | (#14281117)

If the government wanted us to read Mao then they wouldn have replaced our Bibles with little red books.

Memorize this phrase... (4, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | about 9 years ago | (#14281121)

"Fuck you, get a warrant".


Re:Memorize this phrase... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14281230)

The frightening thing is they already traced the request without a warrant, based on what could only be extremely broad-reaching surveillance (cross-referencing interlibrary loan and travel records with who knows what other data). This is intimidation, pure and simple: a home-invading, privacy-destroying assertion of power over the spirit and probably the letter of the law. We are slipping rapidly down the slope to fascism here. Jesus this is scary shit! I'm posting as AC for the first time ever, and may never post my true thoughts to a public forum again.

Real funny given the latest news (3, Interesting)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | about 9 years ago | (#14281130)

Not funny ha ha, but funny strange.

Bush just admitted eavesdropping on US Citizens http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051217/ap_on_go_pr_wh /bush;_ylt=AuvuW06usVciqJihQS1hh_us0NUE;_ylu=X3oDM TA2Z2szazkxBHNlYwN0bQ-- [yahoo.com]

Then of course, the politicians is claiming that we need the "Patriot Act" to protect us. Are we sure that 9/11 was not a setup for the Patriot Act?

Just remember:
"They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security." -- Benjamin Franklin

Of course, Bush would put Benjamin Franklin on a terrorist watch list.

Breaking News! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14281140)

A Waffle House restaurant worker in Michigan was arrested on charges of allegedly paying a homeless man $5 to drink a poisonous cocktail of chemical cleaning solution that left him in critical condition, according to police.

Police said Quentin Wilson, 19, was taken into custody at a Stockbridge, Ga., Waffle House restaurant after 29-year-old Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda became violently ill from the poisonous drink.

Malda was transported to a hospital, where he remains in critical condition Thursday.

"What did this poison do to his system?" Malda's wife, Kathleen Fent, said. "It was acid, it ate through his esophagus and they don't know how much more damage. It ate his gums, his tongue. He's on a ventilator right now."

Malda's family said their homeless brother suffers from alcoholism and has been living near the Waffle House for some time, living off spare change and tips he receives sucking cock.

They added they will push for tougher criminal charges for what happened.

A Waffle House representative said they fired Wilson and another employee who witnessed -- but did not stop the alleged prank.

Police may upgrade charges against Wilson from misdemeanor reckless conduct to more serious felony charges.

Communism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14281149)

Chinese-americans, communist or not, aren't really much of a threat to our homeland security. Sounds like a phony story.

Re:Communism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14281180)

What does this story have to do with Chinese in America? Mao was a Chinese American?

Re:Communism? (1)

thejackhmr (643947) | about 9 years ago | (#14281231)

The student is Chinese.

two months? (2, Insightful)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | about 9 years ago | (#14281152)

How does this take two months to get out? If it were me this happened to, I'd call the press the minute the men in black suits left.

It strikes me as troubling that this stuff waits a while before hitting the presses. So in two months we'll hear about the stuff happening now.

I don't want the student's name... (1)

jcr (53032) | about 9 years ago | (#14281154)

But I do want the names of the agents, and their supervisors.


How many of you actually went to college? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14281159)

And of those of you that did, how many of you can still recite your student ID number by heart? I'm willing to bet it's a pretty high percentage for one reason and one reason only - at most, if not all, colleges, your student ID number is your SSN. So for all of you who are saying "Why do they need your SSN, this is an invasion of privacy, etc.", it's really not. I'm not trying to stick up for the government or anything here (although I wonder what would have happened if I had taken out that copy of the Communist Manifesto post-9/11 instead of pre-), but when you have an entire system based around a number given to you at birth, the number's going to become an integral part of what you do and how you do it in certain situations. Anything I needed to do regarding personal information on my campus, I needed to give my social security number. I don't think my college library had a way to cross reference people based on their names, so when his copy of the Book came in, there would be some sort of marking on it - a printout or something - that would have his SSN on it.** From there, they would put in his number, his name and box number would show up, and they could get word to him that his book was there. I don't know how DHS got involved, I don't care, that's not what I'm talking about here. :-)


**This is largely conjecture, but note that I worked in my local library for 2 years in high school and a couple of very close friends in college worked in the library, so I have an understanding of how it works. Largely conjecture, but not completely.

Re:How many of you actually went to college? (1)

michaeltoe (651785) | about 9 years ago | (#14281183)

My student ID is different from my SSN, and I go to UMass Amherst. I don't know what it is at UMass Dartmouth but I'm betting they run on a similar system.

Se7en (2, Insightful)

EdwinBoyd (810701) | about 9 years ago | (#14281186)

The practice of red flagging books (no pun intended) has been around for a long time now but as Morgan Freeman said in the movie Seven; "99 times out of a hundred it's a student doing a research paper"
Why would the Dept. of Homeland Security tip their hand in such a visible fashion? Perhaps the agents themselves are uncomfortable with the practice and are seeking to shed light on it?

A little skepticism? (0)

11223 (201561) | about 9 years ago | (#14281188)

Why does this sound like the ultimate "the dog ate my homework" excuse? Why does the student fear putting his name forward, in the age when anyone who has been the subject of percieved executive overreach complains loudly to the press about it? I need a little more evidence before I take this for granted.

On another note, the professor who noted that "Mao Tse-Tung is completely harmless." is living in some kind of bubble. Mao killed many people and his disastrous policies almost certainly resulted in the starvation of many millions. I would recommend this book [amazon.com] for those who have not read enough of the real history behind the cultural revolution.

Re:A little skepticism? (4, Insightful)

GISGEOLOGYGEEK (708023) | about 9 years ago | (#14281235)

yes your absolutely right.

Instead of enforcing constitutionally protected freedom of speech, its better for you to choose what people can read. Your constitution doesnt really matter.

yup, there's no chance that anyone could possibly read the book and not come away a devout communist. Yup, no one has ever read the writings of such figures purely to try and figure out how they think, with the understanding that it will lack a true representation of what happened to the people.

If you choose this repression, then you are simply walking down the same path that Mao himself followed.

Wierd (1)

dubbayu_d_40 (622643) | about 9 years ago | (#14281197)

Are libraries like foreign agent and terrorist magnets? I mean, it's been all over the press for years that the feds do this stupid shit. Do the feds think the "enemy" can't go to the local bookstore and pay cash for these books? What fucking planet am I on anyway, this is too stupid.

The Government Are Idiots (1)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | about 9 years ago | (#14281201)

I hope they realize that suppressing all knowledge of the Truth will only make the Glorious Communist Revolution come faster as the masses find themselves suspiciously cut off from knowledge of alternate and Better Forms of Society.

Re:The Government Are Idiots (1)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | about 9 years ago | (#14281219)


Slashdot ate the irony tag in the real post.

Time for some critical thinking here (4, Interesting)

cagle_.25 (715952) | about 9 years ago | (#14281203)

Alright, I'm willing to give the story general credibility given the recent track record [cnn.com] of the administration.

Nevertheless, I find the details fishy:

  1. Why would a student have to write down a SSN for a book loan, but not have to write down the class for which he is requesting the book?
  2. If he *did* have to write down his class, then why would the NSA waste resources on this case?
  3. Why would a book by Mao be on a watch list? Surely the NSA isn't having flashbacks to the 1950's!
  4. Why does it seem just a little too convenient that this unnamed student is being investigated by the NSA while doing research for a class on "fascism and totalitarianism"?
  5. Why are none of Robert PontBriand's classes [umassd.edu] (the professor in question, according to TFA) listed as "fascism and totalitarianism"?
No doubt there are good answers to these questions ... but I'm not ready to believe the story just because it fits with my preconceived notions about the administration.

WTF? (2)

nurb432 (527695) | about 9 years ago | (#14281206)

There must be something more to this story.

I cant accept things have gotten to that point, yet.

and if... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14281208)

... if the student travelled abroad, which the article says he did, requested a known communist propaganda piece from a site that required SS#, most likely governmental in nature, and actually turned out to be a terrorist,

What would the public outcry be? "Where was the government? Why did they drop the ball on this, they had the guy's info and did nothing.... " We all know it.
It was proven during the last four years...

Darn, where'd it go? (1)

wbean (222522) | about 9 years ago | (#14281229)

I had a copy of The Little Red Book that I bought in the sixties and carried around from house to house for decades. I last saw it about a year ago and now it seems to be missing. You don't suppose the spooks came and picked it up do you? I even tried to read it but it was an awful bore and I didn't get far.

How do they monitor inter-library loan? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14281238)

(by the way, it's UMass Dartmouth, not Dartmouth the ivy. According to TFA, the request for an "official Peking version" of the book via inter-library loan.

Which raises several questions:

  1. From which library? (One in China? Can you do that?)
  2. The book's on a "watch list", it says -- are there librarians who are monitoring loan requests according to this watch list?
  3. Was the request made on-line and intercepted that way?
  4. Apparently, the two DHS agents brought the book with them when they visited, but did not leave it with the student. Weird. Why?

Also, the trigger was apparently the book being request by a person who spent significant amounts of time abroad, not just the book by itself. Not that that makes it any better.

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