A recent spate of law enforcement resignations after revelations that some officers were active Ku Klux Klan members has made the news. But that’s just the most extremist tip of the wackaloon iceberg. There are a lot of Tea Party and Tea Party-esque assholes in this country. Guess what? Some of them join law enforcement, wherein they battle the demons in their heads. Consider this security story from NSF, about a scientist who was denied a clearance and consequently lost her job:
Valerie Barr was 22 and living in New York City in 1979 when she became politically active. A recent graduate of New York University with a master’s degree in computer science, Barr handed out leaflets, stood behind tables at rallies, and baked cookies to support two left-wing groups, the Women’s Committee Against Genocide and the New Movement in Solidarity with Puerto Rican Independence….
By the late 1980s, she had resumed her pursuit of an academic career. A quarter-century later, she’s a tenured professor of computer science at Union College in Schenectady, New York, with a national reputation for her work improving computing education and attracting more women and minorities into the field.
That social conscience also led her to decide it was time to “give something back to the community.” So in August 2013 she took a leave from Union College to join the National Science Foundation (NSF) as a program director in its Division of Undergraduate Education.
You’ll never guess what happened next!
Federal investigators say that Barr lied during a routine background check about her affiliations with a domestic terrorist group that had ties to the two organizations to which she had belonged in the early 1980s. On 27 August, NSF said that her “dishonest conduct” compelled them to cancel her temporary assignment immediately, at the end of the first of what was expected to be a 2-year stint….
Barr describes that activity as being a “worker bee” on behalf of two groups advocating for women and Puerto Rican independence. Federal investigators say those groups were affiliated with a third, the May 19 Communist Organization (M19CO), that carried out a string of violent acts, including the killing of two police officers and a security guard during a failed 1981 robbery of a Brink’s truck near Nyack, New York.
Barr’s first background interview was held in November 2013, 3 months after she began working at NSF. During that session, Barr answered “no” when asked if she had ever been a member of an organization “dedicated to the use of violence” to overthrow the U.S. government or to prevent others from exercising their constitutional rights.
However, according to an OPM summary report that served as the basis for NSF’s decision, Barr was being less than forthright. “You provided no information regarding your affiliations with subgroups of M19CO—a known terrorist organization,” the report notes. Her answers during the interview, it concluded, “constituted a deliberate misrepresentation, falsification, deceit, or omission of material fact.”
…After again being asked if she had been a member of any organization that espoused violence, Barr was grilled for 4.5 hours about her knowledge of all three organizations and several individuals with ties to them, including the persons who tried to rob the Brink’s truck. (Four people were found guilty of murder in that attack and sentenced to lengthy prison terms, including Kathy Boudin, who was released in 2003 and is now an adjunct assistant professor of social work at Columbia University.) “I found out about the Brink’s robbery by hearing it on the news, and just like everybody else I was shocked,” she recalls.
But OPM apparently thought otherwise, again citing her “deliberate misrepresentation” in its report.
So she was a low-level drone for two organizations that had ties to a terrorist organization–they issued manifestos in support of some terrorist organization, but they weren’t terrorist organizations themselves (no acts were committed by these groups). Basically, they were wannabees. Thirty years ago. Here’s where the wackaloonery enters the picture:
In her 11 August response, Barr questioned whether the special agent who conducted the investigation “can be an impartial evaluator of academic scientists, or anyone with liberal political beliefs.” As evidence, she points to a posting on a blog maintained by the agent, a veteran who served in Iraq, and his family. The item is a copy of a popular Internet meme about an incident that supposedly took place in an introductory college biology course.
According to the story, a “typical liberal college professor and avowed atheist” declares his intent to prove that there is no God by giving the creator 15 minutes to strike him from the podium. A few minutes before the deadline, a Marine “just released from active duty and newly registered” walks up to the professor and knocks him out with one punch. When the professor recovers and asks for an explanation, the Marine replies, “God was busy. He sent me.”
Someone a little more familiar with the left–and less opposed to it–might have a clearer perspective on things. Just think how many Irish-Americans gave money at that same time when the hat was passed for the IRA–which was a direct act of supporting terrorism. Not a link to a group, but active aid and assistance. Doesn’t seem to stop one from being elected to Congress ([cough] Peter King [cough]). Sure, Barr was a leftist chucklehead (plenty of those thanks to Reagan’s awful foreign policy), but a harmless one. But if you’re conditioned to view liberals as ‘others’, then you start seeing demons where none exist.
While this is a minor problem regarding NSF policy that doesn’t rise to the level of a tragedy, the same ideological blindness leads our security forces to focus their attention on Occupy and CodePink–non-violent groups–instead of, let’s say, the Tsarnaev brothers. That was a tragedy.
When we cede power to the security state, we should remember that it leans right.