We’ve turned a horrible new page in the War on Terror as the FDNY — The Fire Department of the City of New York — have joined with the Department of Homeland Security to spy on residents.
The FDNY, as you know, made their place in history on 9/11 when 343 responders gave their lives. The FDNY not only fight fires, they also have an elite EMS paramedic team that responds to people in distress.
The FDNY is the largest municipal fire department in the world with nearly 12,000 firefighters and 3,000 providing EMS. Since 9/11, the FDNY have become even more of the fabric and stone of the City as they are revered and honored in the ordinary and the every day.
The hallmark of the Bush administration’s War on Terror is, if anything — creative in its cruelty and audacious in its daring
— and that’s why the FDNY and its sparkling reputation were picked to test a new anti-terror program to spy on citizens.
The brilliance in this despicable effort is that the FDNY — unlike the police and other law enforcement agencies — do not need a warrant to enter your home. If the FDNY senses or is merely made aware of a possible emergency in a home, they are required by law to forcefully enter to investigate. My first entertainment agent in New York City actually helped make that requirement to enter an apartment the law when his elderly mother called 911 for emergency assistance. When paramedics arrived at her apartment, and knocked on her door, she did not answer.
The paramedics left. She was later found dead in her apartment. My agent promptly sued the City claiming — rightfully so — that if a person is in emergency distress and calls 911 for help it is the DUTY OF THE CITY to break into an apartment or home to see why the person is unable to answer the door: Are they dead? Are they unable to move? Are they being held against their will?
That Must Enter law is a good law — and my agent made a tidy sum of money teaching that lesson to New York City in court — but, like all good things in life, there are those who will abuse the law and nudge the power of proper intentions for their darker, self-serving, needs and demands. Enter the Department of Homeland Security. Once the FDNY has access to your home, the Homeland Security surveillance program begins, as reported by WCBS-TV:
In times of emergencies, firefighters are trusted to help those in need – often putting their lives on the line to save others, but imagine having the FDNY telling police what they see in your or your neighbor’s home. Unlike the police, firefighters and paramedics do not need warrants to get into private homes and buildings – that is why there’s a new push to make them an important part of the war on terror and crime.
The Department of Homeland Security is testing a program with New York City firefighters — the idea is to give fire departments a way to share intelligence information with the appropriate agencies — a system that did not exist before. According to the AP, Homeland Security is training New York firefighters to spot unusual or dangerous chemicals, surveillance equipment, maps, photos, blue prints, and also firearms or weapons.
We now have FDNY firefighters — first trained to put out fires and to save lives — now secondarily looking at your bookshelf for bomb-making materials or anti-American propaganda and then reporting you to the government for further investigation. If you have too many nails in your home are you planning to make a pipe bomb? Better report it, just to be safe. If the Koran is on your nightstand — does that indicate a loss of American faith?
Better report it just to get it on the record. How do you feel about the FDNY spying on civilians as they put out kitchen fires and rescue dying mothers with one eye — while looking at your magazine subscriptions with the other eye on their way out the door? Is the next logical step in this FDNY/Homeland fiasco leaving behind listening devices or lipstick video cameras in the homes they now “protect and serve” and, perhaps, even answering phony “911 calls” in order to get firefighters into homes faster than the police?
How soon will the FDNY be issued sidearms and bullet-proof vests along with their axes and fire hoses as their “New York’s Bravest” motto inevitably becomes: “New York’s Bravest Spies.”