Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Your Homeland Security dollars hard at work...harassing intellectually curious college students!

UMass student visited by Feds for requesting Mao's Little Red Book from library
Agents' visit chills UMass Dartmouth senior
By AARON NICODEMUS, Standard-Times staff writer

NEW BEDFORD -- A senior at UMass Dartmouth was visited by federalagents two months ago, after he requested a copy of Mao Tse-Tung's tomeon Communism called "The Little Red Book."

Two history professors at UMass Dartmouth, Brian Glyn Williams andRobert Pontbriand, said the student told them he requested the bookthrough the UMass Dartmouth library's interlibrary loan program.

The student, who was completing a research paper on Communism forProfessor Pontbriand's class on fascism and totalitarianism, filled outa form for the request, leaving his name, address, phone number andSocial Security number. He was later visited at his parents' home in NewBedford by two agents of the Department of Homeland Security, theprofessors said.

The professors said the student was told by the agents that the book ison a "watch list," and that his background, which included significanttime abroad, triggered them to investigate the student further.

"I tell my students to go to the direct source, and so he asked for the official Peking version of the book," Professor Pontbriand said."Apparently, the Department of Homeland Security is monitoringinter-library loans, because that's what triggered the visit, as I understand it."

Although The Standard-Times knows the name of the student, he is not coming forward because he fears repercussions should his name become public. He has not spoken to The Standard-Times.

The professors had been asked to comment on a report that President Bush had authorized the National Security Agency to spy on as many as 500 people at any given time since 2002 in this country. The eavesdropping was apparently done without warrants.

The Little Red Book, is a collection of quotations and speech excerpts from Chinese leader Mao Tse-Tung. In the 1950s and '60s, during the Cultural Revolution in China, it was required reading. Although there are abridged versions available, the student asked for a version translated directly from the original book.

The student told Professor Pontbriand and Dr. Williams that theHomeland Security agents told him the book was on a "watch list." They brought the book with them, but did not leave it with the student, the professors said.

Dr. Williams said in his research, he regularly contacts people in Afghanistan, Chechnya and other Muslim hot spots, and suspects that someof his calls are monitored. "My instinct is that there is a lot more monitoring than we think," he said.

Dr. Williams said he had been planning to offer a course on terrorism next semester, but is reconsidering, because it might put his students at risk. "I shudder to think of all the students I've had monitoring al-Qaeda Websites, what the government must think of that," he said. "Mao Tse-Tungis completely harmless."

Contact Aaron Nicodemus at anicodemus@s-t.com From http://www.southcoasttoday.com/daily/12-05/12-17-05/a09lo650.htm.