Monday, March 12, 2012

Suspicionless Surveilling at 15 Below.

"Suspicionless surveillance inappropriately invades the privacy of innocent persons by failing to require a factual basis. Manufacturing  reasonable suspicion and probable cause before initiating surveillance opens the door to biased policing, leading to unconstitutional racial and religious profiling and spying on people in violation of their First Amendment rights."

That's a mouthfull, but sums up a lot of what I was saying in my last post on here. The FBI has come out against this kind of thing, in a high profile public appearance on the East Coast. I don't know what the answer is in places like Nome, Alaska where you can't get away from it, it seems, like sharing a tent with someone with a bad case of gas.. Everybody is kinda huddling together for warmth, so when the police go on a program of intimidation, and about when the Governor shows up of all things, it really frosts me, pardon the pun.

Maybe the job attracts that kind of person, maybe they get it out of their play-book, maybe they develop this kind of behavior on the job as a bycatch of dealing with so many unsavory types. But,  just STOP IT already! It looks like all the FBI man-hours in Nome hasn't had much of an effect. Maybe the problems are much more insidious than some friends recently getting tailed around town, stopped with flashing lights for no reason and lying about it, or made mention of as "being sought," all by the Nome Police Department. How hard is it to find anyone in Nome anyway when everyone knows where your house is. I've heard of four cases in about as many days now.

There are a bunch of people there that are only interested in fish, which they have been seriously deprived of, and of course human rights. When Governor Parnell showed up in Nome the other day, I thought that maybe some problem solving may occur, but quite the opposite. This kind of thing is the antithesis of building a cohesive community. What's the point of doing all the rest like schooling, entertainment, cultural activities, if other elements are trying to tear the heart and reason for being there, right out of the region. I say region because the intimidation is simultaneously occuring over in the village of White Mountain by the VPSO and head of the mega-bucks Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation.
The alternative is to launch a public program of playing cops and robbers during the winters to turn it into an organized sport. Like the gladiator sport in Rome,  that evolved into U.S. style paid-to-injure football? Create a town event in the winter called 'Pin the Tail on the Cop.' The following letter from a Nomeite sheds some light on the big picture, keeping in mind that Shell Oil has tugs pulling the biggest floating drilling platforms you've ever seen up from Seattle and Australia/New Zealand as I write this. 
Is this an effort to get everyone to keep their heads down for the inevitable environmental insults to come? The ex-oil lobbyist Governor may not want to slow down the gas extraction process in the Chukchi Sea with a lot of heads up people around up there, but he should at least ask for something from the oil companies for the use of Alaska infrastructure that we all paid for over the decades. Now is a good time to clarify that, especially since the Governor seems to have written off demanding fish wealth ever flow to the Western Alaska residents themselves as intended by Congress.


"A funny thing happened on the way to the Governor. Gov. Parnell came into Nome for a community greeting. One fellow citizen said he didn't notify our legislators as is customary. A semi-stealth mission perhaps to garner grass roots support in the oil tax wars. The Science Fair up at the High School out-drew him considerably. But after looking at my daughter's experiment, and those of the other students, I decided to go to the invitational. Parnell was talking to Tim and his wife and I joined them. I mentioned to Parnell that with all the controversy in Juneau about oil taxation, Alaska has no share in offshore development in the Chukchi Sea, which potentially eclipses anything else in magnitude in the possession of the United States. And will probably impact Alaska in a way that nothing has since Prudhoe.
  He said that he, Murkowski, and Begich were together on getting it. He meant it I think. I spoke softly and respectfully. 
Like it or not the drilling is going ahead up there. And if  we do not secure a share of it now, it will be impossible later when it becomes a revenue stream for the US Treasury. It's probably the primary economic issue for the state's long term fiscal stability. But not on the political radar at all.
  The next day I got a call from someone that the local internet board, Nome Announce, had a notice from a Nome "Police Investigator" seeking my whereabouts.
I have an officer for a neighbor, our kids bus together, my residence isn't a legal mystery. I said as much when I called. "You are deliberately leaving the impression in the community I'm being investigated." He apologized. A friend had given me pistols taken as evidence many years ago.I could legally own them now, not he. After retrieving them from the police I sold them. I'm not a pistol guy. I hunt for food with rifles. Now the State has decided they are evidence seized way way back, wants them returned. One is with a Brevig herder I hear. Another is here somewhere according to the gun shop that sold them. 
 But it occurred to me there are plenty of corporate pimps in the neighborhood who might imagine I am exposing them to a higher power. Harrelson (peace? officer and NSEDC head) first on the list. Lean, and Menard with the break-in stuff under investigation. Or maybe I asked the wrong question of the Governor, which is a recurring bad habit I can't break. Maybe the silence on offshore stuff (drilling for gas) isn't an oversight?
But it is getting surreal. The dispersing of inventory from the evidence locker at the police department was instituted by the new police chief, who thoroughly vets every move I'd guess, given his history of running the Alaska Bureau of Investigation. This stinks of rotten politics."