K-6 Records Secretly Tapped.
by Herm Tupper
Associated Press International Staff Writer
Washington. (API) -- The Bush administration, citing an opinion by then-legal council Alberto Gonzales, has secretly been compiling records of elementary school students into a vast database known as the Early Terrorist Identification Program, or ETIP, for the past four years.
The program is designed to identify potential terrorists through a series of reports, gathered surreptitiously by NSA employees posing as school staff, combining psychological evaluations, conduct evaluations, grades, and demographics. Current and former NSA employees, speaking anonymously, described the program as an early-warning tool to identify potential "terroristic" behavior.
The program has been implemented nationwide, including in Puerto Rico and Guam.
According to officials familiar with ETIP, each student is assigned a score based on various risk factors: psychological instability, less-than-satisfactory scores on the key "plays well with others" index (or frowny faces), as well as race and gender.
"A kid who's borderline antisocial, doesn't play well with others, a boy, and an Arab--or even Muslim-- that kid gets a pretty high score. We'd tag him as a "potential" and keep an eye on him through high school," said one official who helped compile the data.
The program's legality is unclear. Predictably, ACLU spokesman Roy Barton expressed outrage over the program, which he called "like the fourth Reich." Administration officials, however, point out that children have dubious Constitutional rights.
"A series of Supreme Court rulings have shown that you can do just about anything to your kid except spank them; the President believes this clearly shows that children have no protection from the NSA," White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said.
However, there may be additional complications, as it now appears that other dimensions may have been included in the formula that have little to do with national security. Unconfirmed reports suggest that the government may have been tracking students for "homosexual tendencies," "affinity toward the unproven science about global warming," and "prayerful behavior." The administration did not address these concerns.
*Whether this marks a return of Friday satire, or merely a single reprise, will be discussed at the next Hog staff meeting. But the interns seem to like it.