FBI Targets Critics Of Government With Home Visits After Arizona Shootings
(WAC OK) We can add another victim to the Tucson tragedy – the right to criticize government without fear of getting a knock on your door from the feds. Despite the fact that shooter Jared Loughner was not politically motivated, the FBI is now compiling a list of Americans deemed a potential threat because they criticized their representative – and targeting them with home visits.
An Ozark man who ran a blog last year critical of Republican Congressman Billy Long was shocked to see an FBI agent turn up on his doorstep asking questions. The agent was accompanied by Green County Sheriff Jim Arnott, who had stepped outside of his jurisdiction to become involved in this act of political repression directed against Clay Bowler, a resident of Christian County.
The FBI agent wanted to know if Bowler was a threat to Long because he had used an Internet blog to highlight claims of cronyism and corruption involving the Congressman before the southwest Missouri election in November, in which Long defeated Democrat Scott Eckersley to replace outgoing Rep. Roy Blunt.
The most heated confrontation Bowler had with Long was when he asked him a question about political donations Long had made. The video clip of the incident shows Bowler calmly asking Long a question as the Congressman walks away. He ran a website called “Long is wrong” in an attempt to prevent Long from being elected last year. The website has since been discontinued and Bowler hasn’t had any contact with Long since September.
Even the FBI agent who visited Bowler had to agree that his actions represented no kind of threat whatsoever.
“I’m not a threat to Billy Long,” Bowler said Thursday. “I find the whole thought very funny, because I’m such an advocate for constitutional rights that I would never do anything that would put in jeopardy those constitutional rights like the Second Amendment.”
In the aftermath of the Tucson tragedy, the father of Christina Green, the 9-year-old girl killed in the massacre, pleaded with the nation that his daughter’s death should not be exploited as a justification to crush constitutional rights. In addition, it has been confirmed in triplicate that shooter Jared Loughner was not motivated by politics. Earlier this week one of his closest high school friends told ABC News that Loughner, “Did not watch TV. He disliked the news. He didn’t listen to political radio. He didn’t take sides. He wasn’t on the left. He wasn’t on the right.”
Green County Sheriff Jim Arnott’s justification that it’s best to “err on the side of caution” in targeting critics of government with home visits has no place in a free country. Perhaps Arnott would feel more at home in the former East Germany or the Soviet Union.
“Arnott confirmed to KSPR News that Bowler isn’t the only local person who’s been scrutinized in the wake of last weekend’s shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Gifford (D-AZ) during a meet-and-greet with constituents in Tucson, Ariz,” states the report, affirming that the authorities are compiling new lists of Americans who are now considered to be potentially violent threats for the crime of asking their own public servants uncomfortable questions. Separately it was reported that the FBI was preparing to visit other bloggers in the area.
Targeting anyone who exercises their First Amendment right to redress their grievances against local representatives who are paid to serve them with home visits accompanied by FBI agents only has one outcome – it chills free speech and discourages other Americans from speaking out against the government. These tactics also have the impact of making asking questions of elected officials, the lifeblood of a free society, seem somehow abnormal or suspicious.
Once again, vultures are still busy circling around last weekend’s tragedy, using it as a vehicle through which to advance their own authoritarian and anti-American agendas of political repression.
Dissent is the highest form of patriotism, and any move to imply that asking questions of public officials or engaging in criticism of government is somehow suspicious or indicative of a violent individual is a damning indictment of everything America is supposed to stand for. Circumstances like these should only encourage Americans to become more vocal in their dissent while they still have any semblance of free speech left at all.
In a seperate interview Bowler made a sardonic joke about the incident in describing himself as “a crazy guy who still believes in the American dream.”