Op-Eds

  • Vindication for Edward Snowden from a new player in NSA whistleblowing saga

    Opinions May 23, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: The Intercept. An article by Mark Hertsgaard, adapted from his new book, Bravehearts: Whistle Blowing in the Age of Snowden, describes how former NSA official Thomas Drake went through proper channels in his attempt to expose civil-liberties violations at the NSA — and was punished for it. The article vindicates open-government activists who have long argued that whistleblower protections aren’t sufficient in the national security realm.

     
  • From Eagle Scouts to prom queens, a different view of American Muslims

    Opinions May 18, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: Christian Science Monitor. A new study from Georgetown’s Bridge Initiative, When Islamophobia Turns Violent, suggests that Islamophobia is getting worse. And, anti-Muslim political rhetoric during the United States presidential race isn’t making things better. In the face of rising Islamophobia, however, American Muslim teens have shown grit – and many of their peers have shown support – as they navigate the course of faith, identity, culture and politics.

     
  • Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s immigration records reveal FBI bombshell

    Blogs May 11, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: Who.What.Why. WhoWhatWhy has discovered that the FBI secretly flagged at least one of the “Boston Marathon bombers” as a terrorist threat in his immigration records, despite publicly denying it had done so. The FBI’s own trail of contradictory statements and backpedaling suggests it has something to hide about its dealings with an alleged perpetrator of a deadly terrorist attack on American soil. In muddying the record, was the FBI merely trying to cover up its dangerous incompetence, or is there a darker secret to be “protected” from public scrutiny — a scenario in which Tamerlan operated under some kind of government cover until something went horribly wrong?

     
  • Science shows that torture doesn’t work and is counterproductive

    Editorials May 8, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: Newsweek. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence concluded in the executive summary of its 6,000-page study of the CIA program that the agency’s harsh methods failed to glean any intelligence not available through softer tactics. However, the CIA has disputed the Senate’s findings, and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has vowed to reinstate torture if elected. Meanwhile, compelling scientific evidence is emerging that torture and coercion are, at best, ineffective means of gathering intelligence.

     
  • Countering violent extremism, a ‘perfect excuse’ to restrict free speech and control the media, says UN expert

    Blogs May 4, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: BORDC/DDF. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, David Kaye, today warned that efforts to counter ‘violent extremism’ can be the ‘perfect excuse’ for democratic and authoritarian governments around the world to restrict free expression and seek to control access to information.

     
  • In 2016, Toddlers Have Shot More People in the US Than Muslim Terrorists Have

    Editorials May 2, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: Mic. According to the Washington Post, our nation’s nurseries are housing more than just unbearable levels of cuteness: Twenty-three people have been shot by toddlers in the U.S. since the start of 2016 — exactly 23 more than have been shot by Muslim terrorists over the same period. Scary: Yet the threat posed by America’s gun-toting 3-and-unders hasn’t drawn nearly the same backlash as that against Muslims — begging the question of why our leaders are ignoring what, from a statistical standpoint, has proven the much bigger danger to our survival this year. So far, no one has called for a “temporary ban” on babies leaving the hospitals in which they were born. No pundit or law enforcement official has advocated a more aggressive vetting process for toddlers passing through America’s airports, or OK’ed a multimillion-dollar police surveillance campaign to monitor places toddlers are known to frequent.

     
  • NSA definitely working on maybe telling us how many Americans it spied on

    Opinions April 25, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: Gizmodo. There’s a renewed effort among senators and civil liberties groups to make intelligence agencies cough up details on how exactly they’re spying on Americans who haven’t been suspected of a crime. That’s because Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the provision that allows US Intelligence agencies to target the communications of foreigners, is due to sunset at the end of next year. Now, maybe the NSA would have a tough time analyzing exactly how many Americans they spied on using Section 702 data. Fortunately, The Washington Post analyzed 160,000 emails and instant messages in 2014 swept up by Section 702 surveillance, so it really shouldn’t be too hard for a massive intelligence agency like the NSA. The Post found that 90 percent of these conversations involved individuals who were not Section 702 targets, and over 50 percent involved U.S. citizens or residents. That seems pretty messed up if you ask me.

     
  • Muslims on airplanes: why there’s nothing to fear

    Opinions April 21, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: The World Post. I can talk about the dozens of Muslims that have been wrongly removed from airplanes in the past, or how one Muslim American is a victim of a hate crime every three days, or how my Muslim mother is always “randomly” selected to be searched every single time she goes to an airport, but this isn’t about that. This is about putting an end to the unjustified fear that Islamophobia has caused Americans to have towards Muslims. As I read the stories of the countless humiliated Muslims who have been unjustly removed from airplanes as if we are nothing more than a walking dehumanized threat, my eyes fill with tears. More importantly, my mind is filled with questions: Why it is perfectly ok to say “God bless you” on an airplane but it becomes threatening if it’s said in Arabic? Why is a headscarved nun respected on a plane while a Muslim woman wearing the same exact covering is humiliated? Why is it that you can get as drunk and loud as you want on an airplane but Muslims can’t even quietly speak our native language?

     
  • Deadly drone decisions

    Opinions April 13, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: Dan Simpson in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. America’s use of drones as a combat weapon will be called into question for anyone who sees the new movie “Eye in the Sky.” There is background to the conundrum that is not included in the film but nonetheless relevant. The first is that President Barack Obama has ordered or authorized the killing of at least eight American citizens by drone strike. These have included six men who could be considered terrorists, the young son of one of them and — we will assume accidentally — a 73-year-old American aid worker, Warren Weinstein, who was being held hostage in Pakistan. It is worth noting that these American killings of Americans were carried out entirely outside the due process of law guaranteed to our citizens by the Constitution.

     
  • FBI’s “shared responsibility committees” to identify “radicalized” Muslims raise alarms

    Opinions April 9, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: The Intercept. The FBI’s plan to enlist community leaders in “Shared Responsibility Committees” all across the country with the goal of identifying “radicalized” individuals is raising alarm among civil rights activists. The Shared Responsibility Committees, known as SRCs, “are expanding the informant program under the guise of an intervention program, which it is not,” said Abed Ayoub, legal director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). The FBI’s ideas is to have social service workers, teachers, mental health professionals, religious figures, and others interdict young people they believe are on a path towards radicalization. As a recent HBO documentary showed, many of those arrested were young men who came to the FBI’s attention through their online activities and ended up facing lengthy jail sentences.