Agents' visit chills UMass Dartmouth senior

From YAN Hairong <>
Date Mon, 19 Dec 2005 21:00:30 -0600

Agents' visit chills UMass Dartmouth senior
By AARON NICODEMUS, Standard-Times staff writer

NEW BEDFORD -- A senior at UMass Dartmouth was visited by 
federal agents two months ago, after he requested a copy of 
Mao Tse-Tung's tome on Communism called "The Little Red 

Two history professors at UMass Dartmouth, Brian Glyn 
Williams and Robert Pontbriand, said the student told them 
he requested the book through the UMass Dartmouth library's 
interlibrary loan program.

The student, who was completing a research paper on 
Communism for Professor Pontbriand's class on fascism and 
totalitarianism, filled out a form for the request, leaving 
his name, address, phone number and Social Security number. 
He was later visited at his parents' home in New Bedford by 
two agents of the Department of Homeland Security, the 
professors said.

The professors said the student was told by the agents that 
the book is on a "watch list," and that his background, 
which included significant time abroad, triggered them to 
investigate the student further.

"I tell my students to go to the direct source, and so he 
asked for the official Peking version of the book," 
Professor Pontbriand said. "Apparently, the Department of 
Homeland Security is monitoring inter-library loans, because 
that's what triggered the visit, as I understand it."
Although The Standard-Times knows the name of the student, 
he is not coming forward because he fears repercussions 
should his name become public. He has not spoken to The 

The professors had been asked to comment on a report that 
President Bush had authorized the National Security Agency 
to spy on as many as 500 people at any given time since 2002 
in this country.

The eavesdropping was apparently done without warrants.
The Little Red Book, is a collection of quotations and 
speech excerpts from Chinese leader Mao Tse-Tung.
In the 1950s and '60s, during the Cultural Revolution in 
China, it was required reading. Although there are abridged 
versions available, the student asked for a version 
translated directly from the original book.
The student told Professor Pontbriand and Dr. Williams that 
the Homeland Security agents told him the book was on 
a "watch list." They brought the book with them, but did not 
leave it with the student, the professors said.
Dr. Williams said in his research, he regularly contacts 
people in Afghanistan, Chechnya and other Muslim hot spots, 
and suspects that some of his calls are monitored.
"My instinct is that there is a lot more monitoring than we 
think," he said.

Dr. Williams said he had been planning to offer a course on 
terrorism next semester, but is reconsidering, because it 
might put his students at risk.

"I shudder to think of all the students I've had monitoring 
al-Qaeda Web sites, what the government must think of that," 
he said. "Mao Tse-Tung is completely harmless."

Contact Aaron Nicodemus at 

This story appeared on Page A9 of The Standard-Times on 
December 17, 2005.