Research–a novel idea; or, Why is Homeland Security here?

Shhh. I’m researching a novel. Don’t tell anyone.

See, the novel is about terrorists. Since I don’t normally hang out in those circles, I’m looking up some things about how terrorists work, where they’re from, and what methods they use. I’ve concluded from what I’ve read that my idea about biochemical warfare through an air-borne style plague that activates when it mixes with water could be valid. Now I’m waiting for stormtroopers to break through my door.

Although maybe I’ll get those movie stormtroopers in the white armor that can’t seem to hit a thing within fifty feet. Those would be better.

While I’ve been reading, mostly online, some high-pitched annoying little voice in the back of my head keeps warning me that someone’s going to notice what I’m doing. If you read about biochemicals, Big Brother will see you! it says.

If Big Brother really wants to take a look at me sitting here in my worn pajamas, rumpled hair and fuzzy slippers, more power to him. I’ll pour him some coffee and get him an aspirin. That’s what I reply. Even my husband doesn’t want to look at me this time of morning, you know what I’m saying?

I remember we all got wound up a couple of years ago when that romance writer writing about Cambodia was raided by the government; computers, music CDs, even cases of paper and pencils all confiscated. This occurred allegedly after her online research, book-buying and library check-out patterns had brought her to the attention of Someone. (As I also remember, this story was eventually debunked to some degree as other facts came to light about the writer.)

But that doesn’t make it any less scary.

Under the Patriot Act, the government conducts warrantless searches. Without getting permission from anyone, agents can look through your computer, correspondence, library records, and online purchase and reading histories. Just because. The Connecticut Law Review cited a statistic that 20% of the nation’s libraries have had some police or FBI agency seize records. Did you know librarians can go to jail if they tell anyone that the police conducted a raid?

An article in the March PC Magazine covers “web spiders” and how law enforcement gathers intelligence on terrorist communities around the world based on patterns. So now you’re not even monitored by real people, who might discount certain queries or searches as clearly harmless. Machines bring you up on the radar. Then…who knows?

My husband, computer geek that he is, suggested I could use proxies, university computers, etc., for the search to conceal my identity if I was worried. But how guilty does that appear? If you hide, do you have something to hide? If you don’t hide, do they think you’re onto them and purposely NOT hiding? Man. I’m starting to sound like Mel Gibson in that movie.

So I guess I’ll just do my research the way I always have, open and honest, since that’s part of the bottom line in America: freedom. Then I’ll put the coffee on and wait for the knock at the door. What do you think–one pot or two?

9 thoughts on “Research–a novel idea; or, Why is Homeland Security here?

  1. Pingback: Big Brother News » Blog Archive » Research–a novel idea; or, Why is Homeland Security at the door?

  2. Good luck with your research. It sounds like a challenging project. The only thing I would suggest is that when big brother comes knocking, don’t offer any sugar with that coffee. 🙂

  3. The Patriot Act is the worst thing to happen to the United States in our entire history. Worse than Prohibition. Worse than Pearl Harbor. Yes, even worse than 9/11 itself.

    That said, i honestly believe that the incredible amounts of info the ‘spiderbots’ are gathering – partially analyzed through pattern recognition – will ultmiately choke any useful analysis mechanisms (ie: humans). I would always assume big brother is watching. And the pollyanna in me believes that the truly innocent will not be bulldozed.

    But then i remember that we have “detained” hundreds of people for over 5 years at Guantanamo. Without charging them with crimes. And then i reconsider some of the random strolls through the interweb that i might explore in a different world…

  4. I’ve been watching History Channel lately so I might have missed it but didn’t the warrant-less tapping expire this week? If I’m right– that’s a tiny step in the right direction!

    How about if instead of the storm troopers you had some MIB hunks? 🙂 Their toys are more fun!

  5. Pingback: anja merret - chatting to my generation » Blog Carnival of Observations on Life March 8, 2008

  6. Dear awalkabout, I have been agonizing for weeks over the title for my teenage novel about 3 girls in Amsterdam during the 40-45 occupation. They are in the resistance movement, one is a German spy, no Anne Frank in sight.
    Yesterday I hit on the title Don’t tell Anyone and think it fits perfectly.
    Are you still planning to use it? Are you writing what sounds like a great book? Do I have to start agonizing again?

    Dear Bryna, That sounds like a great title! Please feel free to use it–titles don’t belong to anyone, necessarily. (Although I wouldn’t use Gone with the Wind…for obvious reasons!)

  7. Pingback: Writers from across the blogosphere - Writers’ Block carnival « The Writers’ Block

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