FBI Wants Businesses to Rat on Their Customers

Last Updated Nov 3, 2009 6:51 PM EST

If you demand identity privacy or insist on paying with cash when patronizing a local business, then you could be a suspected terrorist. That's according to FBI flyers which have been sent to tattoo shops as part of its "Communities Against Terrorism" drive.

The government now wants local businesses to keep an eye on their customers and report any suspicious activity. Apparently, getting a group tattoo or radically changing your hairstyle is a cause for concern.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't most potential terrorists religious fanatics from the Islamic world who sneak into America hellbent on wreaking havoc? Kind of like those 9/11 highjackers? So why target tattoo shops, then, FBI? Muslims can't get tattoos per their religious traditions. And who would bother getting a tattoo if they were about to blow themselves up?

I have to doubt whether this initiative is really about the terrorist bogeyman. What's more likely: Selling a million dollar lottery ticket or selling to a terrorist? It seems just as, if not more, plausible that this is about quashing political dissent.

Getting neighbors to rat on their neighbors is a page straight out of the Soviet Union playbook. When there is that kind of distrust at the local level, it's a lot more difficult to rally around a petition against the government.

If business owners care more about the principles for which this government stands than for whatever officials happen to have the power that day, then they have a responsibility to reject these types of FBI-community "partnerships."

  • Stefan Deeran

    Stefan Deeran helps environmental nonprofits and green businesses develop and execute their new media campaigns. He also publishes The Exception magazine, a nonpartisan news platform serving his home state of Maine. You can follow him on Twitter @RStefanDeeran or via Facebook.