seems that some anti-terrorism legislation from 1675 has come back to bite boston in the ass (the economic ass, that is). i couldn’t find a version without the ellipses, but here’s how it’s reported in the boston globe:
We find that still there still remains ground of Fear, that unless more effectual Care care be taken, we may be exposed to mischief by some of that Barbarous Crew, or any Strangers not of our Nation, by their coming into, or residing in the Town of Boston. . . . Secondly, That there be a Guard appointed at the end of the said Town towards Roxbury, to hinder the coming in of any Indian, until Application be first made to the Governor, or Council if fitting, and to be . . . remanded back with the same Guard, not to be suffered to lodge in Town, unless in Prison.
and you thought brilliant legislative “security measures” were a thing reserved the modern era with great pieces of well-considered and carefully constructed legislation such as the patriot act and real id act… but stupid law runs deep in the history of mankind, especially when fear is the motivator and reason is abandoned to buy the favors of the threatened electorate (at their expense, i might add…)
let’s compare to the latest version, the real id act of 2005. first we need to define the enemy. in 1675, it’s the “barbarous crew.” today, we call them “terrorists.” then we need to protect ourselves from this enemy – by increasing security at the border to make sure they don’t come around here no more.
SEC. 302. USE OF GROUND SURVEILLANCE TECHNOLOGIES FOR BORDER SECURITY.
(a) Pilot Program- Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Science and Technology, in consultation with the Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Border and Transportation Security, the Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection, and the Secretary of Defense, shall develop a pilot program to utilize, or increase the utilization of, ground surveillance technologies to enhance the border security of the United States. In developing the program, the Under Secretary shall–
(1) consider various current and proposed ground surveillance technologies that could be utilized to enhance the border security of the United States;
(2) assess the threats to the border security of the United States that could be addressed by the utilization of such technologies; and
(3) assess the feasibility and advisability of utilizing such technologies to address such threats, including an assessment of the technologies considered best suited to address such threats.
we use a lot fancier language today, but “a pilot program to utilize, or increase the utilization of, ground surveillance technologies to enhance the border security of the United States.” looks a lot like the modern equivalent of “That there be a Guard appointed at the end of the said Town towards Roxbury, to hinder the coming in of any Indian” to me.
if you’re a member of a “barbarous crew” or “terrorist organization” then the only way you get to stay “here” is in jail.
in 1675, it was a fairly simple matter for the new guard to identify an “indian” at the border. today, the law is directed at “terrorists,” and that gets a bit trickier. the thing about terrorists is that they are just people with bad intentions, and no finger-printing, photo-graphing or other identification technology (that i’m aware of) can read minds and know intent.
update: this 1675 law was previously discussed in the november 25, 2004 new york times. they were talking about getting it off the books then. that was about symbolism around thanksgiving, now that there’s some real money on the line, maybe things will progress a bit faster.
update (2005.05.25): just getting around to adding this note, but, as expected, with real money on the line, governor mitt romney signed the legislation repealing this 330-year-old anti-terrorism law.