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July 15, 2010

The eyes are not here
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 10:16 AM *

One of the less pleasant things I’ve read recently is the account of a list of some 1,300 people living in Utah whom the list compilers claim are illegal aliens. This list was delivered, along with a cover letter (pdf), to law enforcement officials, the media, the Utah legislature and governor, Homeland Security, and the Utah representation in Washington. The list is largely or completely Hispanic, and contains names, addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, and, in the case of pregnant women, due dates.

News sources have already identified people on the list who are legal. They’ve also found people who are frightened, distrustful of their communities, and badly upset.

The anonymous producers of the list, who claim to be a “large force of tax-paying citizens…who live throughout the State of Utah”, say that they created it by “observ[ing] these individuals” in their daily lives, and then enriched and refined it with information obtained by “legal Mexican nationals who infiltrate their social networks”. They claim not to be a militia, named organisation, cult, gang or terrorists. They say that they are not violent and do not support violence. They claim to be doing this out of love of the country and their state, their government and their Constitution.

My reaction to that little cluster of assertions is “Nonsense”. The more a group emphasises its size and breadth while staying in the shadows, the more I think it’s a lone individual or a tiny clump of people* trying to leverage their influence with the media. The betting in the commentary I’ve read is that the data was illicitly obtained from government sources, which provides another good reason for the collators to hide their identities. According to the NYT article on the matter:

Improper release of information from state records is a misdemeanor. The medical information on the list, however, from the notations about pregnancies, could potentially elevate the criminal implications far beyond that, to felony charges and lengthy prison sentences, for violation of federal medical privacy laws.

I certainly hope so. I’ve seen comments that suggest that this kind of release should be covered under “whistleblower” statutes, a suggestion that leaves me faintly ill. What a marvelous way to ensure that people never tell the government the truth again!

Oh, and the letter includes this paragraph, which could have been written at any point from the landing of the Mayflower on:

We see a direct relationship between these illegal aliens and the escalation of crime in our communities in the form of drug and alcohol abuse, theft and domestic violence. Our country cannot — and should not — continue to support this type of situation. They need to go — and go now.

Now, I am not the target audience of this missive, so I suspect my rather negative reactions are not the hoped-for results. But what I see is a force that’s far more destructive to the health of the nation than an influx of illegal immigrants: the idea that we should spy on our neighbors.


* Cue chorus of “The Lurkers Support Me In E-mail”

Comments on The eyes are not here:
#1 ::: paul ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 10:32 AM:

If or when this criminal's identity becomes known, I'm sure they will turn out to be a lone misguided soul with no connection to all the organized racist groups in the state. And the government will no doubt martyr them for their well-meant action, just because of a few tiny mistakes.

#2 ::: Mark D. ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 10:50 AM:

Our society reminds me more and more of this unpleasant Venetian artifact.

The link makes a spirited defense of the mechanism, but it still makes me uneasy, to say the least.

#3 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 10:57 AM:
'We see a direct relationship between these illegal aliens and the escalation of crime in our communities in the form of drug and alcohol abuse, theft and domestic violence.'
None of which were in evidence at all ever ever. (In Utah? Don't make me-- Too late!)

Particularly the domestic violence. As if whoever-this-turns-out-to-be cared about domestic violence except as a possible bludgeon of the Disliked and Feared Other.

Faugh.

#4 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 11:07 AM:

Including the pregnant ones? Presumably so they can be deported before they have kids who'll be American citizens. Until the point where these psychos create a future with no 14th Amendment.

But they're not racist!

#5 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 11:08 AM:

"Please look into this quickly! They hide in the darkness and don't have the decency to admit that they are here.

"Yours truly, Anonymous."

#6 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 11:17 AM:

The list "contains names, addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, and, in the case of pregnant women, due dates."

Emphasis mine: Disclosure of a Social Security Number by a Federal employee is a crime with a fine of $5,000 per instance. If this list was composed with the help of one or more Federal employees, said employee(s) can kiss their job goodbye.

These days the US government does a background check on every employee that has access to personal information.

#7 ::: Jenni Halpin ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 11:18 AM:

I've been worried for some time, escalating from interested through concerned toward real urgency, about the surveillance state in which I live.

Now, I've no objection to showing ID as proof of age for the purchase of alcohol nor to providing a photo ID to corroborate that the credit cards I use are in fact mine. And it's downright interesting when my credit card companies send their annual summaries of how they think I've been spending my money.

I'm even alright with the red light cameras having been installed around here, though the flash going off at night actually impairs my driving briefly. That needs to be rethought.

But then I think of Bob Shaw's /Other Days, Other Eyes/ (a novelization of "Light of Other Days"). 'Slow glass' becomes ubiquitous and the surveillance state is doubly distributed: surveillance is everywhere and everybody can engage in it.

Here's where I'm going with all of this: advances in science and technology will increasingly make possible the observation of one another, but we've always been watching eachother. We need to get better about it, rather than better at it.

Which is to say that we need to be better people. An example: I watch my students while they write. I notice when they stop. Now, I could be keeping track of whether they are doing what they are supposed to be doing (responding briefly in writing to the literature we are about to discuss); what I'm actually doing is watching to see when most of them are finished so that the class should move on.

What I hope that this low-tech example shows is that the difference is in the end user (me). And that we can observe so much about one another (by legal means and otherwise) makes so many abuses possible to those who would oppress, exclude, and operate by subversion and manipulation.

#8 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 11:29 AM:

I've been doing a slow boil about this story all day. I'm particularly incensed at the way that right-wingers have responded.

#9 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 11:40 AM:

I really, really, really want to see the names and addresses of the compilers of this list published.

And -- to a lesser degree, just out of curiosity, I'd like to know how many of the "illegal aliens" are members of The LDS Church.

#10 ::: Neil in Chicago ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 11:41 AM:

“Terrorism is the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”
— Official FBI definition

So since this didn't involve violence, a lawyer can argue that it's not terrorism. That's the only technical difference I can see.

#11 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 11:58 AM:

But the "force or violence" is a pretty important part of that definition.

Also, while I think most of us here believe that the information was obtained illegally rather than the way they claimed, we don't actually know that yet. Enough private detectives (or lucky amateurs) following people around and listening to what they said COULD have gathered this information, and it would I believe have been legal.

On the other hand, by those definitions, the people who assassinate abortion providers and the entire organization that supports them clearly ARE terrorists.

#12 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 12:02 PM:

Neil -- it's not terrorism. It's an evil thing, but that doesn't mean it's the bugaboo of the month.

Strikes me it would be easy enough to find out if the SSNs are valid, where given, if I wanted to confirm that many of the people on the list were legitimately in the US (as seems to have started happening).

As a friend commented elsewhere, the message that people who are completely self-sufficient are welcome merely means that they welcome drug lords and similar people who have a lot of money. Kinda makes the whole rationale a bit more suspect, doesn't it?

#13 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 12:13 PM:

See that thing you're looking at there? That's Fascism, that is, the real authentic grassroots kind.

#14 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 12:17 PM:

I really, really, really want to see the names and addresses of the compilers of this list published.

My thoughts exactly. Publish whatever info you want about any other people you want--as long as you publish exactly the same amount of your own information.

Also, perhaps I'm missing something, but doesn't the fact of having a SSN rather prove that someone's here legally? Is it feasible for large numbers of people to get SSNs they aren't entitled to? I've had mine since before I was sentient, so I don't know what the application process involves.

#15 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 12:20 PM:

When I saw the headline originally, my next thought was:

I've got a list of 53 communists in the State Department.

#16 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 12:27 PM:

eric@15: Yes.

But these people made the mistake of publishing their list, which is likely to be their undoing (as well as harming quite a few of the people on the list of course).

The communists in the State Department was so effective largely because it remained mysterious.

General: It's common to use an SSN not your own if you're an illegal wanting to work here; those SSNs may be the ones used by, rather than actually assigned to, the people.

#17 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 12:29 PM:

So, I have this joke about Martin Niemöller arriving at the gates of heaven with broken faith like the proverbial flood victim whose prayer for a miracle has gone unanswered. I doubt it would be in good taste to tell it.

#18 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 12:33 PM:

It's common to use an SSN not your own if you're an illegal wanting to work here; those SSNs may be the ones used by, rather than actually assigned to, the people.

Yeah, but should it then not be a pretty trivial thing to go to the Social Security Administration and have them check whether the people using those numbers are the people who own them? I'd imagine that would clear up the issue right quick. And as soon as you found even one that was legit, you could open an investigation into the jerks who compiled the list for conspiracy to assist ID fraud or something.

#19 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 12:42 PM:

Carrie S.@18: If you're the police, then yes. Not other people though; those records are fairly private. (I don't know how or if employers can verify SSN; they can ask for it and report it in, but I don't know if they can actually ask for just a check, they may have to submit a formal notice of employment of something and see if it bounces.)

#20 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 12:42 PM:

Seems to me that anyone who's on the list and isn't an illegal has a good case to sue for libel. Someone's published false information about them, knowingly or negligently, that accuses them of committing a crime.

#21 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 12:52 PM:

Carrie S. @14:

To apply for a Social Security Number you must furnish legal documentation of citizenship and age: birth certificate, passport or naturalization papers. If an adult is applying they also want a photo ID, like a driver's license or passport.

What a lot of undocumented workers do is make one up, which is how you get people "sharing" an SSN.

#22 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 12:53 PM:

ddb @#19: This list was delivered, along with a cover letter (pdf), to law enforcement officials, the media, the Utah legislature and governor, Homeland Security, and the Utah representation in Washington. .

I can see at least two groups that ought to be able to be authorized to check. Clearly the media can't, but I assume the police are included in "law enforcement officials", and if there's any egregious privacy-violating Homeland Security isn't allowed to do I'm unaware of it.

#23 ::: CLP ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 01:02 PM:

@21: You don't need to be a U.S. citizen to get a SSN. You can be a noncitizen authorized to work in the U.S.

#24 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 01:03 PM:

I was summarizing recipients from the letter. "Law enforcement" means sheriffs and what they call "affected" police chiefs in the state of Utah.

#25 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 01:04 PM:

Someone who has collected SSNs cannot assume they are illegally in use by undocumented immigrants. Publishing a list of names and SSNs that are apparently assigned to those people is a breach of Federal regulations, although (as has been pointed out by lawyers around the internets), the intent was not to commit a crime with this list. That part may be unethical, but technically defensible. However, getting those SSNs -- I will assume that the majority of those SSNs are legal and valid -- is a Federal crime. There may also be a violation of HIPAA, since this is personally identifiable information (PII). I wouldn't want to bet against a HIPAA case.

Ultimately, this is another example of why the SSN should never be used as a universal identification number. My dad worked in SSA as a grad student and warned me never to allow any non-financial institution to get my SSN, with a very few exceptions. Even the BSA does not get my full SSN for the background checks. All they need is the last four digits in order to confirm that yes, I do have a valid SSN.

The whole thing is absolutely outrageous. It's foul, hate-mongering behavior and it's exactly like McCarthyism.

#26 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 01:08 PM:

CLP @23:

Correct; my husband, who spent one summer in the US with WorkAmerica, has a social security number.

Baffles the hell out of people when we put it on the kids' US passport renewal forms. We've quit including it, since they don't care once they know he's not a US citizen.

#27 ::: Mary J ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 01:09 PM:

This really is sinister.

It occurs to me the source could be someone who works in a medical setting because of the pregnancy information. Far too many doctor's offices and insurance companies still use social security numbers as tracking identifiers for patients.

#28 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 01:12 PM:

Ginger@25: Is it inherently a crime to get those SSNs? Or are you only saying that the way you believe they got them is a crime (I strongly suspect the way they got them is a crime myself)? I mean, I've probably said mine over the phone in an office at least once in my life, and I'm a lot more careful than most people; is hearing and remembering then a criminal act? (I'm assuming my wife's is covered by her consent.)

In addition to financial institutions, you have to give them to employers (for the W2 forms).

#29 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 01:12 PM:

eric: There is a difference between this list, and McCarthy's; this one has been published.

In my post about it, I made an explicit comparison to Brownshirts.

ddb: Yes, it's possible this was the work of a lot of people, with the time, drive, and money to do all that.

But that's not the way the smart money bets. That's a huge amount of effort; add the medical data and it's a type of data a reputable PI isn't going to be getting for you (maybe in a single instance, but not for that many people).

If we assume an industry average of $75 per man hour (with a four hour minimum) and a (lowball) surcharge of $25 per hour for surveillance (and assume they are doing really basic, two man from a vehicle surveillance, not a four-man shifting tail) and that all of the information was collected on a single days work; with a generous assumption that only 25 percent of the people required a PI (I say generous because that's a huge amount of data)... we get:

1,000 x 325 = $325,000*

You also get a lot of PIs involved in this.

Added to that is the network of, "sources" they claim to have, who, "infiltrated their social networks". Then there is the collation of the data; that's time, and expertise.

So, yes, it's theoretically possible for a private group to have done it, but absent a lot of money, a lot of time**, a lot of expertise (esp. on the running a source network, and managing/collating the data: I've dealt with that line of work, I know what it takes), and a huge amount of both dedication and, amazing, operational security (they didn't try to recruit one person, of those, "legally resident Mexicans [and why not Salvadoreñnos, Hondurans, Guatemalans, Panamanians] who didn't agree, and rat them out to their friends, if not the authorities. That's really sophisticated retruiting).

*This assumes they only used PIs for following up on those the had already confirmed as being undocumented, in practical terms, I'd guess that to be unlikely; which would raise the cost estimate; considerably.

** For every contact hour with a source, there is at least half that time spent debriefing them, and a variable amount of time writing up the meeting. Since this would have a been a huge effort, and in such cases a large number of the reports, esp. initial, would have been ruling people out, and some of the rest would have been ruled out later, if the "hit rate" was 50:50 they were doing incredibly well, we can assume that each of the non-PI paid for investigations took at least 20 hours which comes to just shy of 20,000 hours, just for the observations/reports.

We can't even come close to estimating the total man hours, because we don't know how many people were involved in the debriefing, codifying, collating, dataset building (association matrices, medical record studies; and extractions, SS number associations, etc.), but the back-end work isn't going to have been less than the observation/fieldwork.

So, the "it was all done legally" model requires a lot of people, and a lot of time, and a fair chunk of change.

In other words... Yes, it's "possible", but until it comes out that it was actual... I don't believe it.

Because if it did happen that way... if there are private groups out there with that level of drive, funding and sophistication, we can kiss the way things are goodbye.

#30 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 01:27 PM:

Terry@29: I agree that's the way to bet; I just think it's very important to maintain a distinction between what we think very likely based on decent evidence, and what we actually "know" (meaning there's a strong preponderance of the evidence pointing that way; or maybe even "beyond reasonable doubt").

If I were law enforcement there, I'd certainly be investigating the assembly of that list as a possible crime. It easily meets my idea of "Gee, looks enough like a crime may have been committed to be worth investigating".

#31 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 01:31 PM:

ddb @ 28: It can be illegal to obtain those numbers, if you are not in a job that is required to handle them. It's illegal to allow others to see or obtain SSNs, and any inappropriate use or disclosure of SSNs is also illegal.

"Tax Reform Act of 1976 (P.L. 94-455) included the following amendments to the Social Security Act:

To allow use by the States of the SSN in the administration of any tax, general public assistance, driver's license or motor vehicle registration law within their jurisdiction and to authorize the States to require individuals affected by such laws to furnish their SSNs to the States;
To make misuse of the SSN for any purpose a violation of the Social Security Act;
To make, under federal law, unlawful disclosure or compelling disclosure of the SSN of any person a felony, punishable by fine and/or imprisonment.
To amend section 6109 of the Internal Revenue Code to provide that the SSN be used as the tax identification number (TIN) for all tax purposes. While the Treasury Department had been using the SSN as the TIN by regulation since 1962, this law codified that requirement.
Federal Advisory Committee on False Identification recommended that penalties for misuse should be increased and evidence requirements tightened; rejected the idea of national identifier and did not even consider the SSN for such a purpose." (SSA)

Other people are looking to the Identity Theft Act for prosecution of these "patriots". The basic idea is, they've released highly protected personal identifying information that can be used to steal identities, which could be illegal; this is where intent comes into play as well, though.

"Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998 (P.L. 105-318)

Makes identity theft (transferring or using another person's means of identification) a crime, subject to penalties.
Defines "means of identification" to include name, social security number, date of birth, official State or government issued driver's license or identification number, alien registration number, government passport number, and employer or taxpayer identification number; and
Establishes the Federal Trade Commission as a clearinghouse to receive complaints, provide informational materials to victims, and refer complaints to appropriate entities, which may include credit bureaus or law enforcement agencies."

From Privacy Rights:

"Use by identity thieves. Identity thieves seek SSNs so they can use these numbers to assume the identity of another person and commit fraud. It’s relatively easy for someone to fraudulently use your SSN to assume your identity and gain access to your bank account, credit accounts, utilities records, and other sources of personal information. Identity thieves also can establish new credit and bank accounts in your name, or use your SSN for employment purposes or to obtain medical care. (See PRC Fact Sheets 17 and 17(a) on identity theft, www.privacyrights.org/identity.htm )"

And so on..

#32 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 01:33 PM:

Terry Karney writes: "...operational security (they didn't try to recruit one person, of those, "legally resident Mexicans [and why not Salvadoreñnos, Hondurans, Guatemalans, Panamanians] who didn't agree, and rat them out to their friends, if not the authorities. That's really sophisticated recruiting)."

As I'm sure you understand, this is the part that kills the plausibility that this list was collected legally. Maintaining that kind of operational security over such a large team of people isn't even remotely possible for any organization that has less than a few billion dollars in liquid cash. Consider for a moment how much my employers spend keeping their product designs secret prior to their unveiling at a company keynote event? The annual budget for the global loyalty group alone probably runs into the seven figures. And, still, pictures of the goddamn things end up on the web only a few weeks after the factory starts cutting them. And that's just over bullshit about whether the case is plastic or aluminum.

I'm supposed to believe an organization with enough liquidity to do this legally is one that nobody has ever heard of before the list was published? Unpossible.

Now, the thing to watch is how seriously they pursue the little fascist shit who did this. Almost certainly what will happen is that the government will quite obviously look the other way, and the predictable result will be even more jackasses running off-the-books operations like this.

Then, once they're sure they have unofficial sanction, they'll start escalating.

#33 ::: paul ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 01:34 PM:

Terry @29 et al:

If there's a group out there with that level of drive, funding and sophistication, what are the odds that the first we would hear of them would be an anonymously-delivered list of a mere thousand-odd names with (according to initial reporting) a significantly nonzero error rate?

#34 ::: A Lurker ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 01:35 PM:

And people say America isn't fast becoming a right-wing fascist country.

I'd say, based on the evidence, it already has.. it's just a matter of how bad is it now, and how much worse can it get?

I don't think I'm going to like the answers to that, at all. Because I'm pretty sure it's already to late to stop the insanity.

Losing the election didn't slow down the crazies, if anything they seem to have gotten worse, and now they're convinced that democracy isn't the way to go, because it didn't give them the answer they wanted. So now they're acting outside the law to further their agendas. I'd guess the next step in this case for example, is that someone decides to take the law into their own hands. And once that happens, there will be other cases...until it's krystalnicht all over again.

Call me a pessimist, but I'm going to look into acquiring a backwoods cabin some place isolated, to ride this out.

#35 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 01:37 PM:

Now here is one piece of reporting on this story. Note the eagerness of some groups to condone criminal acts as acceptable when done to those people.

#36 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 01:41 PM:

"The memo said an earlier version of the list had been sent to federal immigration officials in April."

I don't remember hearing about this at the time; does anyone have a link to any news reports about the April list?

#37 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 01:49 PM:

ajay: It's libel per se, but it's not, necessarily egregious.

Being in the US without proper permits is an infraction. These days the accusation may be more infamous than that, but it's an expensive case to pursue; because while it is libel, prima facie, the penalties (it's a tort) for it aren't enough to justify the expense.

So the would have to show actual harm.

#38 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 02:06 PM:

ddb: To seek access to SSNs not your own is a crime. To deliberately use another's SSN on a form is also a crime.

I'm looking at the maternity info and think it's the main clue to where the data came from -- these are the possibilities I come up with: state/county welfare office or a doctor's office. I'm not saying that it can't be a from a federal agency, just that I think these two as the most likely.

#39 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 02:17 PM:

Neil, #10: I'd say the threat of violence is implicit in the release of this information. It's an indirect way of saying, "We know who you are and where you live. If the government doesn't kowtow to us and get rid of you, we will."

Earl, #36: Maybe they sent it on April 1st?

Terry, #37: All it'll take is ONE vigilante attack on someone whose name is on the list, and there's your actual harm.

#40 ::: Mary J ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 02:35 PM:

The feds are on it, according to Talking Point Memo.

http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/07/feds_get_involved_in_utah_immigrants_list_probe.php?ref=fpblg

#41 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 02:52 PM:

Lori Coulson @ 21 (and replies): I have a USA SSN because I worked in the USA for three months some years back. I used to carry it in my passport (I thought it was the safest place to keep it, where I was least likely to mislay it). I've stopped doing that. I've already been all-but-accused of entering the USA to work illegally when I was going for a conference. I figure if they find the SSN card they'll be sure that's what I'm doing.

More on topic: the story horrifes me.

#42 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 03:08 PM:

dcb @41: What many people don't know is that there is a degree of reciprocity between the US and some other countries who have retirement insurance benefits. The "quarters of coverage" you earned here will count toward your retirement benefits if you live in one of these countries.

I was not stating that only US citizens can get a card, just what documentation is required to do so. The Social Security website has a menu of what you have to do depending on whether you're applying for a child and another for adults. Obviously, anyone with permission to work in the US is required to have an SSN for tax purposes as well as future benefits.

Looks like SSA's Office of Inspector General is already on the case -- they're also trying to determine if the SSNs on the list came from someone at SSA. (And the Governor of Utah is having his state health and welfare agencies investigated as well...)

#43 ::: --E ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 03:10 PM:

Considering how many right-wingers are hypocrites, I call for a vigorous increase in personal surveillance, particularly in the bedroom, on credit card charges, and on internet traffic. Systematically publishing the name and address of every Mormon who visits a porn site would be awesome. Oh, the havoc it would wreak.

Also, Jenni Halpin @7: nor to providing a photo ID to corroborate that the credit cards I use are in fact mine.

According to this article, "Merchants' agreements with Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover specifically forbid them from requiring identification." It's a security breach. You shouldn't comply when asked.

#44 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 03:11 PM:

On a related note, it looks like some of the players in Arizona are forging threatening letters from the sheriffs office now.

#45 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 03:17 PM:

This is just completely detestable. Yeah, possibly illegal. To me that just means "good, maybe they can find something to charge these bastards with."

#46 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 03:18 PM:

Yes, "illegal" is excellent in this situation. It makes it easier to explain what's wrong to people who might be a bit slow about such things.

#47 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 03:52 PM:

ddb: "I don't know how or if employers can verify SSN; they can ask for it and report it in, but I don't know if they can actually ask for just a check, they may have to submit a formal notice of employment of something and see if it bounces."

Several years back, on a show about illegals working in the US, the comment came up about stopping employers from employing illegals. A business owner called in and said that validating SSNs usually took six months or more, by which point the illegal employees were gone, so how was he supposed to know he was employing illegals? And to make matters worse, he could be prosecuted for employing illegals, but he couldn't ask for a faster method of verification, so he could be prosecuted without knowing he was breaking the law.

#48 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 03:55 PM:

The fact that this sleazy dragnet is illegal will probably make its cheerleaders even more gleeful and full of self-righteous real americanitude.

How soon until GOP candidates make compiling these lists a campaign promise?

#49 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 04:25 PM:

How soon before these kind folk start demanding we build camps in which to intern illegal aliens, so as not to have to share their homes and public spaces with them?

#50 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 04:39 PM:

B. Durbin--currently, when the Great State of Tennesee hires someone, they ask for either a birth cirtificate, proof of legal residence (AKA the green card), or proof of naturalization. So, you know, there are ways to make it a bit more challenging to fake your legal right to be in the US. All of these can be forged or illicitly obtained, but not as cheaply or easily as all that. This is why we mocked Tyson so roundly several years ago when they tried to fend off the investigation into their mass hiring of illegal immigrants as an innocent mistake. Not surprisingly, further investigation showed they had been actively recruiting in Mexico.

#51 ::: sara ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 04:39 PM:

The WP ran a ugly story today that should put you off eating canned crab in any form, even Maryland crab cakes.

Mexican female migrant workers are usually employed to pick Maryland blue crab, and the companies that hire them exploit them and claim that the women like being housed 10 to a room.

#52 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 04:51 PM:

Employers can use E-Verify to check eligibility to work in the US.

#53 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 05:24 PM:

Lee: That would be a criminal harm (and might move it to a plausible; legal, act of terrorism, but it's not the tortuous harm required to be libel worth a lawyers time/money. That has to be harm to one's standing, or reputation.

ddb: I think we do know, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the cover story is hogwash. Leave out the supposition of PIs (which they don't claim). To do what they claim to have done requires money, time, talent, and experience.

That sort of surveillance, and the source network, and the data crunching are non-trivial things. It's tens of thousands of man-hours. If they only have a 50:50 rate of return, it's something on the conservative order of 63,000 hours of work.

That's 1,560 man weeks. 390 months.

32 man years.

It's not a reasonable claim. Plain logic tells me it's not possible. If they had a 100 percent hit rate, it would still be, conservatively, 16 many years.

#54 ::: Laramie Sasseville ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 06:10 PM:

If another voice is needed to decry how hateful, despicable and likely illegal is the list - here's another voice.

#55 ::: JanetM ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 06:20 PM:

fidelio @50 -- that's federal law, not just Tennessee. In order to fill out the I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) form, the employer must see one document from LIST A or one each from LIST B and LIST C.

LIST A (Documents That Establish Both Identity and Employment Authorization) includes but is not limited to
* U.S. Passport or Passport Card
* Permanent Resident Card or Alien Registration Receipt Card
* a foreign passport with Form I-94 or Form I-94A bearing the same name as the passport and containing an endorsement of the alien’s nonimmigrant status, as long as the period of endorsement has not yet expired and the proposed employment is not in conflict with any restrictions or limitations identified on the form

List B (LIST B: Documents That Establish Identity) includes but is not limited to
* Driver’s license or ID card issued by a state or outlying possession of the United States, provided it contains a photograph or information such as name, date of birth, gender, height, eye color, and address
* ID card issued by federal, state, or local government agencies or entities, (with information as above)
* Native American tribal document

LIST C (Documents That Establish Employment Authorization) includes but is not limited to:
* U.S. Social Security account number card other than one that specifies on the face that the issuance of the card does not authorize employment in the United States.
* Certification of Birth Abroad issued by the U.S. Department of State
* Original or certified copy of a birth certificate issued by a state, county, municipal authority, or outlying possession of the United States bearing an official seal
* Native American tribal document

All information taken from The US Citizenship and Immigration Services website, specifically from the Employer Handbook (pdf linked at the bottom of the page).

#56 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 06:48 PM:

I’ve seen comments that suggest that this kind of release should be covered under “whistleblower” statutes

So the little brown-shirted shit who did this should be treated like a hero, while the real whistleblower who leaked those videos of the killing of rescuers in Iraq should go to jail? Not in any country I have any respect for.

"We see a direct relationship between these illegal aliens and the escalation of crime in our communities in the form of drug and alcohol abuse, theft and domestic violence."

I don't know who the "we" doing that seeing is, but there has not been an escalation of crime in the US recently, in fact crime rates are the lowest in something like 30 years. Except that the crime rate in the part of Maricopa County in Arizona where Sheriff Joe Arpaio is busily implementing the enforcement of the new immigration law is up by 58% since 2002 (cite: Huffington Post), while overall in Arizona it's down 12% in the same period. Lying about crime rates, or merely ignorant?

#57 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 06:48 PM:

Terry #29:

Yeah, but that's only if you were the one running the operation.

My bet?

One guy, with one phishing email. Total cost? Approximately zero.

#58 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 06:55 PM:

j h woodyatt @ 44:

I'm reminded of the letters that were sent out in predominantly black neighborhoods before the last presidential election (in Ohio, IIRC) trying to intimidate voters by implying that if they even had so much as an overdue library book they would be arrested if they tried to vote. When did intimidation become an integral part of the American political process?

#59 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 06:57 PM:

Carrie S. @ 14: Publish whatever info you want about any other people you want--as long as you publish exactly the same amount of your own information.

Not acceptable. For example, suppose my own medical records don't show anything I'd be reluctant to disclose publicly. I still shouldn't be allowed to publish anyone else's without their consent.

#60 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 07:26 PM:

Bruce, #56: More likely, he's put a higher priority on harassing brown people than on actively doing police work. Limited resources mean that the more time and money spent messing with people who may or may not have done something wrong means the less there is of both available to actually, y'know, catch real criminals.

And @58: When did intimidation become an integral part of the American political process?
IMO, whenever the conservatives start feeling like they're losing power. It happened back in the 60s with civil rights, in the 70s with Vietnam, and started up again with Bill Clinton.

#61 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 07:45 PM:

Utah concludes that state resources were used.

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah officials said Thursday they had uncovered evidence that someone used a state database to help anti-immigration activists compile a list purporting to identify 1,300 illegal immigrants.

Officials in the governor’s office gave no further details but said the evidence would be turned over to the state attorney general’s office. The state Department of Workforce Services has already acknowledged that its database compiles all the information cited in the document — a database available to more than a thousand state employees.

#62 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 07:50 PM:

At a guess: errors in the "list" match known errors in the database.

#63 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 08:00 PM:

I hope they left a paper trail.

#64 ::: Curmudgeon ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 08:11 PM:

#58: When did intimidation become an integral part of the American political process?

Look at the history of the KKK. Intimidation of minorities has been an integral part of the American political system for a very, very long time.


#65 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 09:38 PM:

Bruce @58 -- intimidation as part of the political process is one of the many things we inherited from pre- Great Reform England, actually. Intimidating minority voters may be a peculiarly American twist on the theme, though I'm confident someone around here can produce a counter-example.

If you like (though I hope you don't), you could see it as an improvement over simply denying minority-group members citizenship at all. There are plenty of countries that do that, and more that used to.

#66 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 11:09 PM:

i can concur with Lori way above that if I was stoopid enough to use taxpayer id numbers (SSNs) in a public release I'd get walked out by security as well as likely prosecuted after that. I was unable to find a good paying job for over two years, i'm not tossing this ooe out the door. Plus it is really really unethical and bad in all sorts of ways.

And a bad/good example of the SSN not being usable. My partner Roh's daughter was born in Toronto. At six weeks old they came back across the border forever so roh could have her parents as a backup for herself and her bebe. Roh is a natural born US citizen, never a question there.

No one ever thought about other stuff involved with this. and someone should because there apparently has to be a citizenship posted to the government at some point in time.

Her daughter never gave it much thought because she never went out of the country and because she's a school teacher, her pension stuff is not in the social security system. But she wanted a passport. And the whole thing reared it's ugly head.

It took a congresscritter to sort it out for her, because Social Security came to a 1/8th inch of going postal on her. And she's lived in the U.S./considered herself a citizen her whole life. And voted. And all the other civic duties/responsibilities. Because she's a teacher and that's what she does.

and I'm only going to briefly mention the friend who is a large percentage Native American. When she tried (and eventually got) a passport and a visa to go study in Germany, she was accused of being a criminal mastermind (her SSN had been hijacked); She said, "I was all, like, where are you going to deport me to? The Sac Fox reservation in Kansas? New York? WTF?????" She's a registered tribe member and her birth certificate reflects it.

#67 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2010, 11:48 PM:

Speaker To Managers @ 58 writes: "...I'm reminded of the letters... trying to intimidate voters by implying... they would be arrested if they tried to vote."

Both the forged letters in Arizona and the database breach in Utah represent an escalation beyond the usual tactic of voter intimidation. This is pure eliminationism in action. It's more comparable to the movements in previous eras to establish sundown towns.

#68 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 12:24 AM:

67
And it wouldn't take much for them to upgrade to the level of imprisoning or deporting people they only think might be illegal immigrants.
Remember that these are, a lot of them, the same people who wanted to put people with AIDS in camps, and the same mindset that rounded up the Japanese in WW2.
(They'd probably be happy with rounding up everyone they thought was a liberal, too, just for being left of center politically.)

#69 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 12:47 AM:

Joel #59:

Yeah. I'm HIV-negative. And yet, having disclosed that, I'm pretty sure it's not okay to disclose the HIV status of anyone else....

#70 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 01:03 AM:

There may be 1,000 people with legitimate access to the document, and an unknown number of people with online/electronic access to the document, depending on how the security is set up. (But it's overwhelmingly likely that a state government document with anything like 1,000 people allowed to access it is not kept under such high security that nobody could get hold of it.)

This is creepy as hell, but it's also potentially something that was done by one or two people. That would be my bet. And while the political motive is the obvious one, it's not the only one possible. For example, you could do it with the goal of framing someone for the leak in a way that got them fired and sued and sent to prison. You could do it as part of a blackmail operation--after the first couple times a letter like this has appeared in public, contact several people on your next list and offer them the choice of paying up or being on the next one. You might do it as a false-flag attack, to discredit the alleged side of the leakers, or to justify some new law you wanted passed. And there are many, many other possibilities.

A decade ago, in my cypherpunk days, this is the sort of thing we might have predicted. It's the other side of the Wikileaks stuff--when information can't be suppressed effectively, laws against its disclosure stop working very well, and that has interesting and disturbing consequences. Indeed, while the motivations are very different, the outline of the case is really similar to any number of leak/whistleblower cases--either some authorized person leaks a document he's not supposed to disclose to achieve some political/social goal, or an unauthorized person gains access to the document and leaks it.

The best solution for this specific problem would be not to collect and concentrate lots of confidential/personal information on large numbers of people in one big database with 1,000 or so people given access to it. But we have a legacy of a great many such databases, almost all held by people who care a lot less about our privacy than we do, and often held by people who don't really take many precautions.

#71 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 03:10 AM:

One thing that really frustrated me about the reporting was that the news reporters tracked down a couple of the people on the list to quote (without last names, of course) that were here illegally, but they didn't quote anybody on the list who was here legally. And of course the early reporting didn't bother mentioning what percentage of the names looked Mexican as opposed to Irish or Canadian or something. And including information on who was pregnant and when they're due is really creepy.

#72 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 03:44 AM:

Bill Stewart: The Deseret News piece I read (linked above) said it was a list of hispanic names, and quoted person who was legally here.

Not enough, in my mind, to really show this for what it was, but not a complete wash.

#73 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 04:25 AM:

They're not "illegals". They're people. They have names and faces and histories and families.

I realise it's handy shorthand, but it's still pernicious.

Joel: good catch. "If you've done nothing wrong you have nothing to hide" is, and always has been, crap. It assumes that nobody with any ability to make their account count thinks "being who you are" = "wrong".

#74 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 05:02 AM:

Being in the US without proper permits is an infraction. These days the accusation may be more infamous than that, but it's an expensive case to pursue; because while it is libel, prima facie, the penalties (it's a tort) for it aren't enough to justify the expense.

So the would have to show actual harm.

In the US, maybe. But the list has been published (online) in England, with our famously weird and publisher-hostile libel laws, so they could sue under English law...

#75 ::: Sten ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 07:30 AM:

Albatross @69: There are even some problems with the suggestion in the other direction as well.

Should journalists be forced to publish all crimes they have been suspected for, before being allowed to write about a criminal trial?

#76 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 09:35 AM:

Not acceptable. For example, suppose my own medical records don't show anything I'd be reluctant to disclose publicly. I still shouldn't be allowed to publish anyone else's without their consent.

I in fact agree with you; perhaps I was thinking it'd be more of a deterrent than it really would be. The kind of people who make this sort of list like to stay in the shadows and refer to themselves as "concerned patriots"; requiring that they put themselves out there would scare them off, IMO.

Imagine you're a Concerned Patriot. Are you going to be quite so eager to publicize your neighbor's SSN if you have to have yours on the list along with it? Do you want the world reading about your painful gas problem and childhood nose-picking along with someone's due date? Would it be as nifty to put out photos of an "illegal's" house (with address) if your house's photo and address are listed as well? I somehow think not. Such a quid pro quo is only fair--and the only arguments against that fairness boil down to "I'm worthy of privacy and those people are not," which you can't really get away with in public these days.

I could be wrong; it could be that the Concerned Patriots are perfectly content with the idea of their private information becoming public property. Or maybe they'd even suck it up for the sake of getting the word out (which would, oddly, make me respect them slightly more--that is, at all). But I don't think so.

#77 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 10:30 AM:

Carrie S.@76: I agree that the examples you cite would tend to discourage some of the casual threats, if the rule could be enforced. And with others that it doesn't cover all cases, not by a long shot.

If it could become a strong social convention it might actually be self-enforcing; people publishing a list of "others" without their own information would just get ignored. However, I don't see how to get it to be a solidly accepted social convention.

#78 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 11:18 AM:

ajay: Yes, England has awful libel laws, but I doubt very much the people on this list have the standing to sue in your courts.

#79 ::: paul ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 11:26 AM:

albatross @69: Under some circumstances the disclosure that you're HIV-negative could indeed be a serious detriment. Voluntarily seeking testing has been considered evidence of risky/unlawful behavior. Whee. (Which is one of the reasons the red cross tells people not to donate blood just to learn their HIV status...)

#80 ::: Neil in Chicago ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 11:26 AM:

ddb @ 11
"the people who assassinate abortion providers and the entire organization that supports them clearly ARE terrorists". Yes. Your point?

Tom Whitmore @ 12
"Neil -- it's not terrorism. It's an evil thing, but that doesn't mean it's the bugaboo of the month."
Doing maximum damage to the maximum number of random innocent bystanders to advance a political agenda, especially a loony agenda, is at least idiomatically called terrorism in my book.

Lee @ 39
Incitement to violence. If you know ddb, talk to him some time.

Kip W @ 61
thank you, thank you!.

P J Evans @ 68
"And it wouldn't take much for them to upgrade to the level of imprisoning or deporting people they only think might be illegal immigrants."
Hundreds of thousands of Hispanics were dumped across the Mexican border during the Great Depression. No one knows how many were natural-born citizens.

#81 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 11:36 AM:

Marna Nightingale #73: I realise it's handy shorthand, but it's still pernicious.

I'll go further there -- it's "handy" for the eliminationists! To whip up the public against any given "undesirables", it's critical to dehumanize them, lest the chumpscommon folk be distracted by irrelevancies like empathy or compassion. Rand forbid the public should realize that "those rats/dogs/parasites/criminals/etc" are in fact fellow human beings....

#82 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 11:37 AM:

albatross @ 69 -- Even if I were HIV-positive and willing to publicly disclose that about myself (and there have been some celebrities who've been very public about that kind of thing, pour décourager les autres), I would have no right to publish exactly the same information about anyone else without their consent even if it were true. At least not in the commonly-accepted realms of consideration for others' privacy.

(Several of my acquaintances irritate me on a semi-regular basis by being very casual about privacy issues on their LJ accounts and elsewhere. For example, even if they're happy with the entire world knowing that they're hosting a fetish party, I think that they shouldn't be posting a list of people who've accepted the invitation.)

#83 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 12:18 PM:

re "illegals": I hate the term. I am loathe even to use, "illegal aliens".

One, it's othering, it's more than other, it's dehumanising, in that it takes people and converts them to their relation to a specific law, as if that was the summa of their being.

More to the point, given the level of default violation (federal infraction) most of us are in the same boat, i.e. we have violated a federal statute; at the level of infraction, and not been caught.

So we are all "illegals".

#84 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 12:34 PM:

78: sadly true, I think...

#85 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 12:37 PM:

Neil in Chicago:

Is there some benefit to calling more and more random nasty stuff done by people you don't like terrorism? I'd rather reserve the word for things that involve actual death or major property damage. The world is full of bad things that people can do, which are indeed nasty and evil and bad, but which aren't terrorism. This is one of them.

#86 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 12:47 PM:

Terry:

True. Though you still need a word to talk about the people who are here illegally, if you want to have any sensible discussions about immigration policy. I'll admit that I find euphemisms like "undocumented immigrants" even more grating that "illegals," though it's probably a matter of taste.

#87 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 12:58 PM:

Albatross @ 86: How is 'undocumented immigrant' a euphemism? It seems to me to sum up their situation very well.

#89 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 02:06 PM:

albatross: Undocumented "x", where x=conditional state isn't a euphemism.

Some are trying to immigrate, some are working, some are here for school, some are just staying on an expired visa.

Even if it were a euphemism, it's a lot better than the use of a term which moves them from a person, to an act/state of being. Illegal is something one does. I can park illegally. I can cross a border illegally. I can't exist illegally (no matter what the law says about my status in the place I exist).

So, I'll the one over the other, any day of the week, even when I think it clumsy, because it's more compassionate.

#90 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 02:33 PM:

David @ 81: Well, yes. I was fairly certain that in THIS context it was being used in reasonable innocence, so "pernicious" seemed all that was necessary, but you're quite right.

I think it was in Linda McQuaig[1] that I came across a discussion of the limits of propaganda that basically came down to this:

It's very hard to directly *make someone accept a certain opinion*, or even strongly influence their actual opinions.

It's distressingly easy, on the other hand, to influence a) what questions people identify as important to think about and b) the terms we will use to think and talk about things.

So, yes. It is always worth resisting that sort of thing, even though it doesn't seem major, I think.

[1] So yes, at this point this is totally "Journal Of Stuff Talked About Down At The Pub", but I suspect if I went hunting about I could find the exact. I will, too, if anyone cares, though possibly not immediately. Anyone else got a copy of Shooting The Hippo handy?

#91 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 02:37 PM:

Bill, #71: The article I saw didn't have any comments from anyone who was here illegally, but did have one from someone who was legal, due to take their citizenship test soon, and VERY upset about having been included on the list.

Including information about pregnancy due dates is a very specific and recognizable dog-whistle. Google "anchor babies" if you have the stomach to want to know.

albatross, #86: I'm with Marna on this one. "Undocumented immigrant" isn't a euphemism, it's a precise description. What do you think of it as a euphemism for?

Kayjayoh, #88: Looking at the comments on that article (yes, I should know better), I'm seeing a lot of misunderstanding of the term "whistle-blower". Whistle-blower laws protect people who report legal violations by companies (usually, companies they work for) from retaliatory action. The people who stole confidential information about individuals to create this list don't even remotely qualify.

#92 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 02:48 PM:

ajay: I am not sorry that no one has standing to use English law to prosecute a civil action for harms which took place elsewhere.

Ignoring the question of compulsion (who shall hale the accused into court; who shall enforce the judgement?): is the question of justice.

Ignoring that I think England's libel laws insane, where shall the line be drawn? Everything ever written on the net can be read anywhere. Even in places with censorship of access, there are ways. A gov't which wanted to contrain things could open that door, just long enough to cause a "harm" and katie bar the door.

I've said things about Bush, Cheney, Rumsfled, Obama, Ollie North, Bernie Goldberg, and I know not how many other public figures. I've castigated mush less public figures.

The idea that I, protected as I am by being in the US, and so free to say, and publish those things, could need to worry about what every other libel/defamation law might be... oi.


If I were an unscrupulous nation, I might even think of making a libel law which made it easy to bring an action... and then tell BP they were free to use my courts to keep people from saying nasty things about them.

So no, I am not unhappy that something which might be pleasing; this time, isn't doable.

I'm with Thomas Paine: He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.

#93 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 02:50 PM:

albatross: I'd call this terrorism. It's meant to intimidate, to frighten, and yes, to terrorise. No, they didn't kill anyone, but they have managed to make a whole lot of people look over their shoulders, to frighten them.

Yes, it's vague, but that's part of the intended effect. They want all the people who might be accused of being in violation of immigration law to be scared; to wonder which of their friends is secretly planning to sell them out, to be afraid the visit to the clinic, the employment center, the store to buy a phone card to call their families is going to put them on a list, and get them arrested, deported; separated from their families.

Yes, terrorism is bandied about too lightly, but I'd say, by and large, the people who are making too much hay of it are people like Sue Myrick (R-NC) who is afraid Iranians are going to Venezuela to learn spanish so they can sneak in the country to get arrested and take over the prisons; or something (perhaps she thinks they plan to radicalise the inmates)‡.

That's a dilution of the concept, I think this is, perhaps, a broadening of the idea, but not unreasonable.

A burning cross in a public place doesn't hurt anyone, but it sure as hell sends a message. So too with this.

‡She's the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee. This is what passes for... I don't know what, but this is a Republican with access to the classified reports and briefings of the CIA, NSA, etc., and she worries about this. Daft doesn't begin to cover it. Batshit insane, completely disconnected from reality... terrifying, those begin to cover it, but I don't think I have the words to explain the dread the idea of the Republicans gaining the House makes me... she is the odds on favorite for them to install as the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

Angels and ministers of Grace, defend us.

#94 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 04:05 PM:

Just heard on NPR that the two scumbags (or two of the scumbags) have been caught. State employees. They've been placed on "administrative leave," which is right, I guess, until they're convicted.

I sure hope they're the right people, and if they are I hope they do time.

Hope ≠ expect.

#95 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 04:24 PM:

The same NPR report noted that several of the people on the list were legal residents.

I hope they sue.

#96 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 04:47 PM:

Terry:

I am creeped the f--k out by the idea of expanding the definition of terrorism to include publishing information that makes some people feel threatened and might increase the probability of violence. Among other things, the publication of the Abu Girab photos and data on atrocities committed by US soldiers would almost certainly fit into this category.

Further, while this particular list apparently came from confidential information that the publishers weren't authorized to publish, it's quite possible to compile a lot of detailed information about a list of people without violating any law, just using commercial and public sources. By your definition, we'd have to call that terrorism, too.

It's hard for me to see you proposing this label here, and not think of the Obama administration's decision to plan to assassinate Anwar al-Awlaki, or the way the US has imprisoned and killed a large number of foreign journalists in our war on terror, or our bombings that apparently targeted Al Jazeera, or the recent targeting of Wikileaks.

My very imperfect understanding of the law is that even speech intended to stir up hatred is protected under the first amendment up until it becomes a direct incitement or a direct, plausible threat. I just don't see how what was done here qualifies as terrorism, or comes anywhere close to it. And when you start calling it terrorism, I start feeling like this is a step toward claiming the need to silence such speech, even when the information isn't gotten illegally, and perhaps even to bypass the normal laws dealing with such stuff (as we're constantly told we must do w.r.t. the war on terror). This seems like an awful idea to me.

#97 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 05:14 PM:

Lee/Terry/Marna:

It just seems like another step on the euphemism treadmill, to me. I dislike attempts to engineer peoples' thinking by trying to get everyone to call something by a new name with more positive associations. I think our comfort with doing that, and demanding that all right thinking people change their terminology on demand, has not made the country a better place.

This is the mental and social infrastructure used to redefine torture to "enhanced interrogation"[1], or escalation in Iraq to "the surge." More recently, I've seen a lot of talk about "extrajudicial killings," which we'd call assassinations if they were done by any other country.

Now, "illegal immigrant" strikes me as being a pretty good descriptive term, about as good as "undocumented immigrant" to explain what's going on. That is, we have a large population of people who have moved to the US (aka, immigrated) in violation of the laws (aka, illegally), and are living here despite the fact that, if brought to the attention of the right authorities, they'd be forced to leave[2].

The terminology issue has little importance, to be honest. I'm just developing a reflexive dislike for attempts to shape public discussions by changing terminology.

[1] Seriously, go read some of the defenses offered by the big newspapers for why they suddenly changed what they called waterboarding on command. The logic looks uncomfortably familiar, to me.

[2] The whole issue of illegal immigration in the US is a swamp of fuzzy thinking and bullshit and lies and deception, a very good example of the ways in which our political system and media are broken. The need to keep cheap non-union labor that never complains about health and safety violations around collides with the need to be seen "getting tough" on illegal immigration.

#98 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 05:20 PM:

Albatross @ 96: I am creeped the f--k out by the idea of expanding the definition of terrorism to include publishing information that makes some people feel threatened and might increase the probability of violence.

You may instead wish to consider being creeped out by the ways in which the word terrorism is distorted and dishonestly used to justify evil things.

Publishing a list of names and addresses and personal number of children and for all love due dates - I don't care WHAT the people who did this SAY they meant to do. They are attempting to create terror in the people on the list and the people like them not on the list and incite harassment of and violence against same.

Or else they're dumb as rocks. One is not permitted not to intend the obvious and natural consequences of one's actions, and they can claim the reverse all they like. Evil or utterly incompetent, no third option.

Were someone to publish "the Abu Girab photos and data on atrocities committed by US soldiers"

and also along with that publish a list of names, addresses and family details of US soldiers alleged to have been hanging around Abu Ghraib at the time, I would call that terrorism too.

No expansion of the definition is needed.

If anything, calling this what it is is a useful corrective to the tendency of Western Governments these days to palm a card and silently append the phrase "when committed by people who Are Not Like Us" to the definition.

#99 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 05:24 PM:

Terry, #93: They want all the people who might be accused of being in violation of immigration law to be scared

The part I bolded is the key, I think. They don't give a rat's ass whether or not the accusation is accurate; they want ANYONE who could be accused, whether illegal immigrant, legal immigrant, naturalized citizen, second- or third- or fourth-generation natural-born citizen -- basically, anyone with brown skin who could be mistaken for Hispanic -- to be scared. IMO, that's what moves it over the line into terrorism. Is your white neighbor going to file a tip on you after you argue over a property-line issue? Is your white co-worker going to file a tip when you protest against his political views? Is the mother of one of your child's white classmates going to file a tip because your son is dating her daughter, or vice versa? All of these harassments become frighteningly plausible, and it doesn't matter whether you're here illegally or not, you're just as vulnerable. Guilty until proven innocent... and the proving may take more time and money than a lot of these folks have.

#100 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 05:26 PM:

albatross: There is the question of intent.

Because I am creeped the fuck out that doing things like this can be considered a minor problem.

Because part of the apparent intent of the people who made that list was to scare, frighten, intimidate, in short, to terrorise (I say that from the fictitious account they published of how the list was put together).

So what would you call it? Their supporters call it whistle-blowing, and a public service. I call that reprehensible. I call that a subversion of the law.

If I were to publish the address of a list of people I defined as, "traitors"; say judges I thought were being, "activist", and bemoaning that the law didn't allow for them to be charged... I'd call that terroristic. Same if I were to publish the names, and addresses, of the soldiers who served at abu Ghraib.


The thing is, there is nothing which is actionable in it in them. I can get those details from easily available public records.

It's brownshirting, and it does us no favors to not call it out for what it is. It most definitely doesn't when we keep a double standard (and we do... there are people who say that publishing news stories about atrocities is treason, and calling for the arrest; or barring that, vigilante justice, to those who reported it. Look at the affect on the life of the guys who blew the whistle on abu Ghraib. That's terrorism, the sort which makes it hard to get people to blow whistles)in

Theere isn't (on my part) any intent; nor will you see me changing my tune on that to make it illegal.

But I sure as hell want to make it something people don't do. Just as we have made it almost impossible for people to be out-loud racists anymore, I want to make this sort of thing unacceptable.

So fine, you don't like calling it low-grade terrorism. What do you propose to call it to make it something reasonable people will shun? What do you think will make it so shameful that they no more do that, then they say "nigger" in public?

#101 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 05:44 PM:

abatross: Unlawful, perhaps (shades of meaning) but that's not my complaint.

The present shorthand is, "illegals".

Now, that shorthand is a way (like the use of "the Democrat Party) to try and frame the issue. It does lots of things, all of which are about demonising the undocumented.

1: It lumps. Ask people what they think the level of crime is for being her illegally. Most think it's a felony (at least from the ad hoc research I've done/read).

2: By making them all, "criminals", they become a demonsised class. Never mind they have a lower crime rate, and put more into the economy than they take out... they are seen as equivalent to murderers and drug lords (I heard a conversation in a gas station... Arizona, I think, explaining that "all the illegals are working for the Drug Cartels").

3: It's not equivalent to the papers changing their tune. It's a way to point out the real issue here isn't, actually, the status of the undocumented, but rather the insanity of our immigration laws. We have, as you say, a swampy mess; one which the various interests in DC, and on Wall Street, don't want to fix.

The press isn't changing on a dime. They are sort of split, some saying, "illegals" some using, "Illegal immigrants/aliens," and some using various forms of, "undocumented." Most aren't consistent (save the Conservative ones which toe the Party Line, and use Illegal, as a defining noun, all on it's own).

What change there has been has been in two directions. A swift one to use, "illegal," after the Reagan Amnesty, and a much slower shift to various forms of undocumented, in the past ten years; responding to pressure from below; from people like me (and I only came to this line of thinking in the past five years or so).

4: I'll quibble about immigrant. The general connotation of the word is one who wishes to move to another country permanently. A large body of the undocumented don't want to do that. Heck, a lot of them (in the central valley of Calif., at least) are recurrent, not chronic (I have a friend who works for the Labor Dept. in that part of the country. He has a hard time getting them to talk to him about working conditions. They fear being deported, and they come and go, so he has to establish new relationships of trust as the seasons change).

I am not willing to cede the Overton Window on this topic to the nativists.

And now, because I am getting too invested in this, and various things, I am going to step away for awhile.

#102 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 07:16 PM:

albatross @ 97 complains: "I'm just developing a reflexive dislike for attempts to shape public discussions by changing terminology."

I can sympathize on the general principle here, but I have to side with others above on the specific question about the usage of the word "illegal" in this context. It's especially troubling when it's used as a noun, but it's bad enough when it's used as an adjective, as in illegal alien. This is why the slogan "Do I Look Illegal?" has the power it does. The wind completely dumps out of that sail when you ask the question, "Do I Look Undocumented?"

Nobody is an illegal person. We might not be where we belong, or we might not have all the paperwork we need for where we are traveling, but nobody is an illegal person.

I don't buy the argument that "undocumented worker" somehow represents a degeneration in the usage of the English language in politics. I've read Orwell's essay on that subject, and he points out four ways to abuse the language for political purposes: dying metaphor, verbal false limbs, pretentious diction, and meaningless words. None of these apply here.

Orwell gives us six shorthand rules for avoiding the kind of trouble you seem to be complaining about.

(i) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

(ii) Never use a long word where a short one will do.

(iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

(iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active.

(v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

(vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

It seems to be that "illegal alien" is clearly a dying metaphor, and using it violates his rules (v) and (vi) ["alien" is a legal jargon word, and "illegal alien" is even more jargonsome; and, describing a person— rather than a person's actions— as "illegal" is just plain barbarous]. On the other hand, "undocumented immigrant" and/or "undocumented worker" meet all six criteria. Unless you can think of a shorter synonym for undocumented.

Orwell concluded his essay with these words: One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one's own habits, and from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase— some jackboot, Achilles' heel, hotbed, melting pot, acid test, veritable inferno, or other lump of verbal refuse— into the dustbin, where it belongs.

The phrase "illegal alien" belongs there too.

p.s. on a related note, you can join the lucha against Arizona's racist S.B. 1070 at DoILookIllegal.Com.

#103 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 08:58 PM:

Curmudgeon, #64, E.J. Dionne, a columnist for the Washington Post, wrote yesterday about how the Tea Parties had racist people but they take it as denouncing all of them. It would help if they could follow logic.

paul, #79, or instead of risky behavior, you could have had bags of blood before we knew about HIV. Whenever there's a new test, Kaiser asks me to take it, and so far it's negative. It'll probably stay that way after all this time, but it's good to check.

#104 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2010, 11:40 PM:

albatross, #97: I'm just developing a reflexive dislike for attempts to shape public discussions by changing terminology.

And...? Like or dislike, that's what the wingnuts have been doing for the last 20 years. How do you think we got to the point where NIXON looks like a bloody liberal? We've been allowing one side of the argument to control the language and thereby shape the discourse. The cure for that is not to say high-mindedly, "Well, *I* won't do that" -- it's to learn how to do it back, which levels the playing field. You're advising the equivalent of letting the hijackers have the plane, and we all saw how well THAT worked.

#105 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 03:43 AM:

On language shaping discourse: Before the US invaded Iraq, I was writing letters to the editor and joining protest marches. I got angry every time I heard the Bush administration types say "regime change", but I knew I'd lost when the journalists all began saying it. And I don't just mean the people on Fox news.

On the list: I had a interesting juxtaposition. On the same day that I first saw the news about this despicable list, I saw the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's production of "American Night: The Ballad of Juan Jose". It's written and performed by the Culture Clash, plus an ensemble of actors from OSF. One review said "It plays as if written by the Firesign Theatre and directed by the Marx Brothers, starring Monty Python." The Culture Clash is a group of Chicano performers who have been shaking things up since 1984. This show is moving, and incredibly funny. It zings back and forth so fast that you can't catch your breath, and as much as I enjoyed it, I'm sure a lot flew right over my head. I bought tickets to see it again on Saturday.

review of the play

#106 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 05:10 AM:

In reply to albatross @97

I have problems with the whole description of "illegal immigrants" being used for for undocumented brown-skinned migrants into any nation which has been colonised by a European power (except possibly New Zealand). In the majority of these nations, the paler-skinned conquerors and colonists came into the country without ever so much as consulting with the previous inhabitants and owners of the land (largely because these inhabitants and owners were brown-skinned) and in many cases they dehumanised these darker-skinned persons, putting them on a level with animals, or as in the case of the Indigenous Australian peoples, legally denying their existence entirely. Very few efforts were made to reach a peaceful resolution, and in most cases, no recognition was given to the outright theft and butchery carried out by the European invaders.

Furthermore, it's worth noting that in very few cases has there been actual legal recognition that other human beings were dispossessed of their lands, pushed out of their homes, and similar.

In the case of Australia, I'm strongly of the opinion that until there is actually a treaty between an Australian federal government and representatives of the various Indigenous Australian peoples (complete with recognition of past wrongs committed against said peoples) we European-descended types don't have any right to talk about "illegal" immigrants: we're still here illegally ourselves.

Context: I'm second-generation white Australian, with 3 out of 4 of my grandparents having been economic migrants from the UK to Australia.

#107 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 08:18 AM:

I'm not entirely sure what "undocumented immigrant" is supposed to mean, exactly. If I enter a country as a non-citizen tourist, I presume I'm documented-- there is, after all, a document showing my arrival.

If I take a job while I'm in the country, or stay longer than tourists are allowed to stay, I'm working or staying illegally. But I'm still "documented"; the documentation of my arrival hasn't gone anywhere.

If, instead, the border office's hard drive crashes right after I arrive, and they lose their documentation of my visit, I'm "undocumented", but my legal status hasn't changed. I still have the right to stay as long as any other tourist. (I might have a hard time *proving* that, but with the right testimony, I could.)

As far as I can tell, the debate over "undocumented" immigrants is not fundamentally about their documents, but about the legal status of their residence, employment, or other activities, and the implications of that status. Documents are simply a proxy for that. Folks who want to use "undocumented" because it sounds nicer than "illegal" are certainly free to do so, but shouldn't be surprised if folks not already on their side see it as circumlocution.

#108 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 09:20 AM:

JMO, "undocumented" means "without appropriate documentation permitting their presence and activities in the country."

That was obvious to me, so I never mentioned it before.

#109 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 09:45 AM:

I really actively approve of trying to change the terms of discourse. The world is real, but our categories are constructions and inventions. For those of us who feel a duty to truth, we owe it to reality, not to past lexicographers, propagandists, and others - we should think about what we're saying about the world, and make changes wherever it seems appropriate, and advocate for the changes we want.

And yes, that absolutely includes changes intended to make it easier to think of social arrangements as we'd like them to be, rather than taking existing setups as normative.

As Lee says in 104, we're surrounded by the results of people doing this in support of aims darned few of us here approve of. Part of the entirely appropriate response is to push back by trying to shape the terms to support better values.

#110 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 09:54 AM:

@106 - when you've done, could you come back to England and help us get rid of the Norman Yoke, please? After all, it's those bastards' fault that your folks had to leave. Everything was lovely under the Anglo-Saxons.


Unless you were a Celt.

Against whom the Picts might have had a few objections...

And so it goes...

#111 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 10:50 AM:

John Mark Ockerbloom: Let's shift the focus some.

Driving. I often speed. Depending on the speed limit there are places I pretty much, always speed; because to drive at 25 when the prevailing traffic is doing 45 is madness.

No one is going to say I am an illegal driver. They may say I am driving in an illegal manner, but that's s different thing.

If I don't have a current license, or the proper insurance, I am committing a different offense. But I am still not going to be called, "illegal", I'll be referred to as unlicensed, or driving without/on a suspended license, or uninsured/without insurance.

Each of those things has it's own penalties, most of which, for a first offense, are forms of infraction.

No one makes blanket references to the people who do such things, as, "illegal drivers", much less shorthands it to, "illegals," (e.g. "All the rush hour traffic would go away if it weren't for all the illegals on the roads) never mind that there are (even for the latter categories, huge numbers of people who have done it so habitually it is no longer an infraction, but a misdemeanor. My father was a sheriff's deputy, and he pretty much had at least one arrest a night for suspended license violations), which tells me there is some other reason for the use of the word, "illegal" as a noun.

As to how undocumented works, yes, there is a document for some of the states of play, but there are other documents (a green card, an H1B/H2B Visa, F1 Visa, etc.) required for one's legal status to match one's activities.

That mismatch is the part which is undocumented.

If I were to be hired, without the proper forms, my employer would be in violation of the law, and subject to a fine. Why? Lack of proper documentation. Not hiring me illegally (I am allowed to legally work in the country), but because the documents aren't in order.

#112 ::: Claire ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 04:43 PM:

Wow. This is so despicable I don't know what to say.
If the list-compilers had merely turned their list over to law enforcement to check out, that might be OK -- that would be a suggestion to follow up leads. But as soon as they released the list publicly, it became (at a minimum) at libel against those who were erroneously listed, and quite probably incitement of violence. There is a fair amount of legal precedence for concluding that if a reasonable person could be reasonably sure that a statement they made or action they took could result in threats or violence, then they are at least partially culpable.

And hiding behind anonymity? Why? Well, yes, they broke some laws to gather/release the info. But if these folks really believed that "outing" people who are here illegally is worth breaking the law for, then they should be prepared to make that argument in a court of law. Remaining anonymous is just refusal to take responsibility for one's actions. And it says that they themselves don't think the problem is worth sticking their necks out for.

By the way, I do NOT think any release of this information was justified. I just subscribe to the theory that, in some circumstances, breaking the law may be justified. So -- for example -- it is illegal for a police officer to kill someone. The police may, in some circumstances, be justified. But in every case, there has to be an investigation into the circumstances, which has to either agree that the killing was justified, or pass the case on for criminal prosecution. The investigations usually conclude that the police killing was justified. But the police are subject to the law, and police officers do not have a 007 "license to kill".

Using the same argument, I do not ever want to see torture made legal. People argue "but what if a suspect had information that could prevent a bomb from going off in an hour?" My answer -- if you believe torture is the only way to get the information. then break the law and pay the consequences. Maybe the judge will see it your way. But don't take away a law just because there might someday be circumstances that justify breaking that law.

Back to the case at hand -- publishing the list was illegal and despicable, but doing so anonymously was worse. It means they are not willing to take responsibility for their actions. It means they don't actually care about the issue as much as they say they do. They are willing to destroy other people's lives but only if no one knows they did it.

#113 ::: Claire ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 04:43 PM:

Wow. This is so despicable I don't know what to say.
If the list-compilers had merely turned their list over to law enforcement to check out, that might be OK -- that would be a suggestion to follow up leads. But as soon as they released the list publicly, it became (at a minimum) at libel against those who were erroneously listed, and quite probably incitement of violence. There is a fair amount of legal precedence for concluding that if a reasonable person could be reasonably sure that a statement they made or action they took could result in threats or violence, then they are at least partially culpable.

And hiding behind anonymity? Why? Well, yes, they broke some laws to gather/release the info. But if these folks really believed that "outing" people who are here illegally is worth breaking the law for, then they should be prepared to make that argument in a court of law. Remaining anonymous is just refusal to take responsibility for one's actions. And it says that they themselves don't think the problem is worth sticking their necks out for.

By the way, I do NOT think any release of this information was justified. I just subscribe to the theory that, in some circumstances, breaking the law may be justified. So -- for example -- it is illegal for a police officer to kill someone. The police may, in some circumstances, be justified. But in every case, there has to be an investigation into the circumstances, which has to either agree that the killing was justified, or pass the case on for criminal prosecution. The investigations usually conclude that the police killing was justified. But the police are subject to the law, and police officers do not have a 007 "license to kill".

Using the same argument, I do not ever want to see torture made legal. People argue "but what if a suspect had information that could prevent a bomb from going off in an hour?" My answer -- if you believe torture is the only way to get the information. then break the law and pay the consequences. Maybe the judge will see it your way. But don't take away a law just because there might someday be circumstances that justify breaking that law.

Back to the case at hand -- publishing the list was illegal and despicable, but doing so anonymously was worse. It means they are not willing to take responsibility for their actions. It means they don't actually care about the issue as much as they say they do. They are willing to destroy other people's lives but only if no one knows they did it.

#114 ::: Claire ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 04:46 PM:

Oops. Sorry for the double post. Nothing happened and I thought the click hadn't registered. Apologies.

#115 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 05:51 PM:

Welcome, Claire! Very thoughtful post. And don't worry too much about the doubles; it happens a lot around here.

#116 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2010, 07:22 PM:

Claire, #112: Excellent point. These people are not engaging in civil disobedience, an integral part of which is being willing to take the punishment for your illegal actions. Nor are they "whistle-blowers" as some have been describing them, because whistle-blowing is the act of revealing illegality and/or corruption in government or corporate practices. (Now, if someone knew who these 2 goons were, and no official notice was being taken, and they outed them, that would be whistle-blowing!) They just want to eat their cake and have it too, which (as you note) is despicable.

#117 ::: Throwmearope ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 10:50 AM:

@Paul #79 and Marilee #103

The real reason the Red Cross doesn't want you to donate to find out your HIV status is because they are extremely sloppy about securing the nation's blood supply.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/17/red-cross-fined_n_616644.html

Tried to post a link, but I messed it up.

#118 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 07:16 PM:

Lee @ 116:

Correct; these list-compilers are not whistle-blowers any more than the Russians who turned their neighbors in to the KGB or the NKVD (or the Okrana, before the Russian Revolution for that matter) were whistle-blowers. They were informers, and their informing had an ulterior motive, just like the Germans who got to loot the houses of the Jews who were sent to Auschwitz, or the Americans who got the farms of the Japanese who were interned at Manzanar.*

I like the term Terry Karney used: "brownshirting", as it has associations with the evil bastards who've done it in the past.

* There are far too many such examples that can be cited for my peace of mind. I can only console myself with the knowledge that there were people in each of those cultures who did not inform and who tried to help those who were taken.

#119 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 09:51 PM:

Speaking of terminology:

Hispanic
having an Hispanic surname
Latino

all tie these people to the Iberian peninsula. This hides the salient point that these people's ancestors crossed from Asia to the Americas via Beringia (either on foot or by dugout canoe) approximately fourteen THOUSAND years ago.

They are natives of the Americas. How should these people really be labeled, so that we can all keep this little detail in mind?

#120 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2010, 10:13 PM:

Pfusand: Interesting point but not wholly accurate. Yes, there is a portion of the Spanish-speaking migrant population that has a better claim to this continent than the European settlers, but at this point that group is pretty thoroughly commingled with the Iberian and Italian populations that have been settling Central and South America for 600ish years. Purely indigenous populations still exist deep in the South American interior, but in Central America and Mexico the population is by and large mestizo.

#121 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 06:27 AM:

Throwmearope, #117, I'm too sick otherwise to donate blood. I was giving another possibility for why you might tell a new boss that you're HIV+.

#122 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 10:41 AM:

Mark, what's your point? Our African-American citizens are, to an uncomfortable degree, descended from European slave owners, yet they are called 'black,' not 'white.'

All I am asking is that this very intelligent group come up with a term to describe these brown people whose ancestors lived on these continents about forty times as long as my ancestors.

#123 ::: Renatus ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 01:51 PM:

Pfusand @ 119: How should these people really be labeled, so that we can all keep this little detail in mind?

Generally one calls people by what they wish to be called. If you need a specific name, you should ask people from the group in question, not ask other people entirely to come up with a name 'for' them.

It may not be as 'accurate' as you like -- for the values of accurate you seem to be using -- but that's really beside the point.

#124 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 02:23 PM:

Oh look. More eliminationism.

[...] "There is no doubt in our mind, given the body armor and the extensive amount of ammunition he had, that he was on his way to do a very serious crime against either someone or a group of people," CHP Sgt. Trent Cross said.

Officers discovered a binder labeled "California" in the truck. It has so far been described only as a "list." [...]

#125 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 02:37 PM:

jh woodyatt @124:

That went down six blocks from where I'm staying, maybe three from where Martin was watching a movie at the very time. They shut that section of the freeway down for about 36 hours to process the crime scene.

We explained firearms law in the US to the kids while we were detouring around the freeway closure*. They're not stupid; they got onto how that interacts with random craziness to produce moments like this.

Fiona had trouble sleeping last night. I had to use my "I'm the scariest thing in town and I'm on your side" line, and even then she fretted about burglars and guns.

I am not amused.

-----
* For the record, we worked it from the second amendment, American revolution, minutemen, ability to resist tyranny, etc. Kept an approving spin with a dash of "different cultures do it differently".

#126 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 02:43 PM:

abi: Oi. I saw that and let out an expletive (oddly, because I am so far away; it doesn't help that I have friends I expected to be in the general neighborhood).

I don't have anything more coherent to say on it now, but I suspect I shall be writing about it later.

#127 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 03:07 PM:

Yikes! That's not too far from my Aunt's house in Oakland (and we'll be visiting her next week).

#128 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 03:33 PM:

Ginger... You're going to be in Oakland NEXT week? Argh.

#129 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 03:50 PM:

Article says the shooter was from Groveland, which the Internets tell me is a very small town, located in the Sierra, on the road one would take if one were driving from San Francisco to the Hetch Hetchy reservoir.

Somehow, I don't think the guy was planning to stop in Oakland. I used to drive that stretch of freeway every day, and I learned pretty quickly that "erratic drivers" are more common there than a lot of other places. The CHP must know that too. It's just about exactly where I-580 starts to narrow down and wind its way into the full-on urban monstrosity of the Macarthur Maze, after being a nice, straight suburban autobahn for the last mumblety-dozen miles since coming over the pass into Livermore.

All due props to the CHP for catching this guy, but it sounds like we all just got lucky that he wasn't very used to driving in the big city. If he'd been just a little bit better at driving while angry-drunk, one can only imagine what horrors might have gone down when he got wherever he was planning to go.

I'm more than a little curious about the "list" he was reported to be carrying.

#130 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 04:00 PM:

129
I'd assume Pelosi's local office was on it.

#131 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 04:08 PM:

He blames liberals for his not being able to get a job because he's an ex-felon. Riiiiight...

(For the record, if I were in a position with hiring authority, I would not rule out someone solely because they had a felony record; I'd want to know what kind of felony it was first, because there are some felonies that I, being a liberal, don't consider to be genuine crimes. This guy robbed a bank. That's not any of them.)

#132 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 04:31 PM:

Serge @ 128: I know. I wish I could have planned it better, but the one week my son doesn't have any camps scheduled isn't last week.

#133 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2010, 08:01 PM:

Alex@110, Nancy has a button about the "Fir Bolg National Liberation Front"...

Pfusand@119, Mark@120 - There are a lot of people in Latin America with non-Hispanic names - Mayans, Oaxacans, lots of cultures from farther south that have kept their languages active. There have been towns in California where the Mexican immigrants only spoke Spanish as a second language, after Oaxacan or probably other examples. (And that's not even counting German-Mexicans and other Europeans. A guy I used to work for in the 80s commented on somebody he knew getting passed over for some affirmative action program, because his name was Mueller.) I'm not sure how many of the African slaves who got sent to South America have Hispanic names.

#134 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 02:04 AM:

The title of the video at TPM said "580 at Oakland Avenue", which would be right around the corner from where I lived from 1998 till 2009. Sheesh.

#135 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2010, 07:16 PM:

Bill@133,

Yes, real life is unpredictable compared to stereotypes. E.g., the only "Gonzalez" I know was a six-foot blonde woman married to an Irishman who could trace his ancestry back to a sailor shipwrecked off one of the vessels of the Spanish Armada. (History in action!)

#136 ::: jnh ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2010, 09:49 PM:

Throwmearope @117:

The real reason the Red Cross doesn't want you to donate to find out your HIV status is because they are extremely sloppy about securing the nation's blood supply.

The main reasons the Red Cross (and all other blood collection organizations) don't want you to use them as an HIV testing resource is that it is a terribly expensive1 way (for the blood collection organization) to test for HIV. The reason the the FDA (whose guideline it is) doesn't want you to is that, historically at least, it wasn't a reliable method (and the test protocol recommends retesting several weeks after the possible exposure). Testing is much more reliable now, but not 100% perfect (I suspect that there is a "window of opportunity" where someone could be (theoretically) infectious, but tests negative). There are lots of things in the FDA rules and guidelines that don't make sense except as CYA — "if you are a man, have you ever had sex with another man, even once, since 19772", or that six or more weeks in Europe puts you at risk of being a vCJD (mad cow disease) carrier.

Please note that the actual incidence of problems is incredibly small, and that most (if not all) of them were caught by the Red Cross. And the FDA does not believe that any of these problems put the blood supply at risk.3

1 I don't have access to good full cost numbers, but the collection set costs about $75.
2 The Red Cross (and others) are pushing back on this one, saying it should only be a one-year deferral (which would be the same as for getting a tattoo).
3 Go look at the Adverse Determination Letters from the FDA.

Disclosure: I've been a blood and platelet donor, blood drive volunteer, and am currently a Red Cross employee teaching health and safety courses as well as a disaster volunteer.

#137 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2010, 03:22 AM:

Claire @113: If the list-compilers had merely turned their list over to law enforcement to check out, that might be OK -- that would be a suggestion to follow up leads.

I just wanted to call attention to this assumption in your thoughtful, well-written post, because I think it's A) really important, because B) it's so commonly assumed, and C) it's wrong in very important ways.

Seems that a lot of anti-immigrant people are frustrated that enough data can exist in some government database to know that people applying for benefits are here without proper documentation, and yet the government isn't doing anything about it.

But there's a really good reason for it. Quoting the recent article:

"No one, regardless of race, gender or ethnic background, should fear that by applying for government benefits or programs he or she is at risk of having personal information revealed," Holis said in a statement.

Private data gathered via people seeking government benefits, applying to programs, answering the 2010 Census, etc. is, by law, not to be shared with ICE, DHS, and law enforcement. If it were otherwise, then more people would be afraid to seek, apply, answer. And so more children would starve or die of preventable diseases, less people would get vaccinated, areas of wide-spread poverty would receive less federal and state funds than their population merits.

So. If, as you tentatively assume, it were OK to take personal and medical info and hand it over to the police, then the undocumented worker who got beaten and robbed on their way home from work late one night could neither seek medical attention nor report the crime to the police for fear of losing their job and getting deported.

I'm fairly certain that if those state employees compiled the list and then simply handed it to their local police office, they'd still be in as much trouble as they're in right now.

At least, I devoutly hope so. Cynically, I should amend that paragraph to say the law says they should be in as much trouble... because, frankly, I fear a random local police office might indeed follow up on the leads rather than report the illegal disclosure of private data, depending on the state of their prejudice.

#138 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2010, 02:35 PM:

"I'd assume Pelosi's local office was on it."

Breaking news says the targets were the ACLU and the Tides Foundation. (Gee, I wonder which nationally broadcast television "news" personality brought the latter to his sick attentions?)

Because they're on totally opposite ends of town, I doubt he would have been able to swing an attack on both ACLU and Tides. I have a tough time seeing how some poor fuckup from hicksville— who can't even manage to navigate the Macarthur Maze without getting into a shootout with the CHP— would be able to shoot up an office in the financial district and get himself all the way out to the Presidio without somebody in San Francisco stopping him. I don't the other direction would have worked for him either.

I sure hope the next one Glenn Beck sends our way isn't any more competent than this one.

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