Op-Eds

  • FBI guidelines weaken separation of community outreach and intelligence gathering efforts

    Opinions June 8, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: Just Security. Community outreach programs are a staple of modern law enforcement, designed to build trust, address local concerns, and communicate effectively with the public — at least in theory. But in recent years, some outreach programs have revealed an ulterior motive at work: intelligence gathering. Revised FBI guidelines obtained by the Brennan Center show that these programs — which claim to be aimed at building public trust — appear indifferent to the toll on community relationships caused by treating potential partners as intelligence subjects. Based on a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, we found that FBI field offices in Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Seattle, San Diego, Washington, D.C., and Denver were designated for “specialized outreach” programs, intended to support FBI Field Intelligence Groups and other “operational programs throughout the Bureau.”

     
  • FBI entrapment draws critical attention in “homegrown terror” stings

    Opinions June 8, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: BORDC/DDF. The NY Times reported today that the FBI has increased its use of sting operations in ISIS cases. While any attention paid to the Bureau’s is welcome we must be clear: this is not a new tactic. A 2014 study, “Inventing Terrorists: the Lawfare of Preventive Prosecution” by Project Salam and the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms, found that almost every domestic terrorist plot from 2001 to 2010 was in some way cooked up or assisted (and eventually “busted”) by the FBI. The report analyzed about 400 domestic terror cases and found only that only four cases were initiated or driven without the encouragement of the bureau.

     
  • FBI entrapment draws critical attention in “homegrown Tterror” sStings

    Opinions June 8, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: BORDC/DDF. The NY Times reported today that the FBI has increased its use of sting operations in ISIS cases. While any attention paid to the Bureau’s is welcome we must be clear: this is not a new tactic. A 2014 study, “Inventing Terrorists: the Lawfare of Preventive Prosecution” by Project Salam and the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms, found that almost every domestic terrorist plot from 2001 to 2010 was in some way cooked up or assisted (and eventually “busted”) by the FBI. The report analyzed about 400 domestic terror cases and found only that only four cases were initiated or driven without the encouragement of the bureau.

     
  • Department of Education refuses to release its feedback of FBI’s Counter-Extremism website

    Opinions June 2, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: Muckrock. Earlier this year, the FBI released its guidelines on “Preventing Violent Extremism in Schools” along with a website that allows users to learn about violent extremism and “earn an FBI certificate.” Even before the release, the FBI’s guidelines and its “Don’t Be a Puppet” website had managed to attract critics. The Department of Education has reviewed the website, but refuses to provide its feedback to the public. There is tremendous public interest at stake in the Department’s refusal to be transparent about its feedback. The website is one component of FBI’s CVE program which involves instituting a surveillance apparatus in schools that is likely to disproportionately target Muslims, sow distrust between teachers and students, and undermine the mission of schools, curtailing independent thought and dissenting political opinions.

     
  • 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.