Tennessee official threatens Homeland Security investigation of unfounded claims
Paul Joseph Watson
June 21, 2013
A bureaucrat caused outrage amongst an audience in Maury County, Tennessee when he warned that unfounded complaints about water quality could be considered an “act of terrorism” under federal laws enforced by the Department of Homeland Security.
The meeting, which was organized in response to claims that children had become ill after drinking the odd-tasting water, was attended by residents, local officials and directors from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC).
Sherwin Smith, deputy director of TDEC’s Division of Water Resources, stunned the audience when he stated, “You need to make sure that when you make water quality complaints you have a basis, because federally, if there’s no water quality issues, that can be considered under Homeland Security an act of terrorism.”
Asked by shocked residents to repeat his statement, Smith reiterated, “Under federal regulations if you make allegations about the public water supply that are unfounded then that can be considered under Homeland Security an act of terrorism because you’re trying to allege things.”
After the story was reported by the Tennessean , TDEC announced it was investigating the issue but that Sherwin Smith would not be available for comment.
Attendees saw Smith’s comments as a crude way of silencing residents.
“I think it’s just to quash us complicating life for them,” said Brad Wright, organizer for the SOCM civic action group.
“I was sitting there with my mouth open,” said long time resident Joycelene Johns, who had previously raised the issue of cloudy, foul-tasting water. “I couldn’t believe he was saying that.”The message she took away was: “Leave us alone. Don’t come back anymore. We’re not going to continue on dealing with whatever problem you may have.”
“I think that we need to be very careful with how we use the words ‘terrorist’ and ‘terrorism,’ ” said meeting organizer State Rep. Sheila Butt. “I thought it was out of context. That did not apply to anything that we were discussing at the meeting.”
Americans who make complaints about their government or utility providers are increasingly being accused of engaging in “paper terrorism,”  a demonization tactic that primarily serves to intimidate other citizens against engaging in dissent or redress of grievances.
The FBI, Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League have also accused  so-called “anti-government groups” of engaging in paper terrorism by filing frivolous lawsuits and misusing legal documents.
Smith’s veiled threat that complaints about water quality – set amidst growing national awareness about the dangers posed by fluoride, pharmaceuticals and other contaminants in the water supply – could be considered an act of terrorism – is a shocking indictment of how Americans who use the proper channels to raise important issues in their local community are being treated as extremists.