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29n7detaincorrect Images of the entrance of the General Dynamics plant where two Blade employees were detained are easily found online, such as this Google Earth screen grab.
Images of the entrance of the General Dynamics plant where two Blade employees were detained are easily found online, such as this Google Earth screen grab.
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Published: Sunday, 3/30/2014 - Updated: 6 months ago

National security state rears its ugly head

Journalists aren’t only ones in peril

BY KEITH C. BURRIS
COLUMNIST FOR THE BLADE

On Friday, military police detained a Blade reporter, Tyrel Linkhorn, and a Blade photographer, Jetta Fraser, at the General Dynamics plant in Lima, Ohio.

Fraser Fraser
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Ms. Fraser was handcuffed and her cameras were confiscated. The cameras were later returned, but photos had been deleted.

Linkhorn Linkhorn
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What were these photos?

They were of the entrance of the compound — a view available from the street or from Google.

What were the two journalists doing?

They were in town for a Ford event and figured they would get some stock shots for future and general use.

What did the military police think they were doing?

Something suspicious.

Welcome to the national security state.

When in doubt, detain, handcuff, arrest, confiscate.

Did they really think these two people were engaged in terrorist activities?

Thinking is not the point here.

Nonthinking is the point.

The presumption, in the national security state, is always of suspicion and not innocence. All persons are to be treated as subversives and not citizens.

We are on dangerous and disturbing ground here. We are wandering around the paranoid mind of Vladimir Putin, rather than the free and endlessly curious mind of Thomas Jefferson. And in that dark place, we are all criminals, because we are all guilty of something.

If this does not make you angry, your freedom is in peril. Your political and your moral freedom is at risk.

Yes, the United States has enemies and we need to take precautions. We also need to guard our military secrets. I, for one, have never minded the long lines and the scanners at the airports after 9/​11. It seems a small price to pay for safety.

When I hear of a Transportation Security Administration worker bullying an old lady or patting down a child, however, I wonder about accountability.

And that’s the issue here: Can the President, Congress, or the secretary of Homeland Security control the security apparatus?

For we now know that someone in that apparatus has ordered spying on our allies and on the Congress itself.

What really bothers me about the detaining of my Blade colleagues is that if they were ordinary citizens they might well still be in jail. The Blade has clout, and lawyers. That’s not necessarily true of Joe Public.

Freedom of speech, press, assembly, and thought belong to all Americans.

Here is what a friend of mine said to me the other day. I guess the conversation, which was before this incident, dates us both: “When I see the American flag, I still get choked up. I used to trust my government — implicitly. I thought it told the truth and looked out for us. Now, I have real concerns. And it’s not the people at the top; it’s the people down the line. Who is in charge?”

Who indeed.

And if the government loses our trust, where are we?

Liberty is not a left or right issue. It is a citizenship issue that should unite left and right. The ability to question Big Brother should unite a Bill Buckley and a Gore Vidal. And it did, at the end of both their lives.

If the rights of a citizen are disposable before the national security state, we have lost the Republic.

Keith C. Burris is a columnist for The Blade.

Contact him at: kburris@theblade.com or 419-724-6266.



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