Civil Freedoms Under Threat

  • How the U.S. government has used 9/11 to criminalize people of color

    Civil Freedoms Under Threat September 12, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: In These Times. The threat of terrorism has justified detention, incarceration and mass surveillance. Post-9/11, hundreds of Muslims, South Asians and Arab community members were detained and investigated in connection with the attacks. 15. The USA PATRIOT Act changed surveillance laws to make it easier for the U.S. government to obtain personal information without checks and balances. Alongside the rise in the government’s ability to monitor people, Muslims in America have seen a rise in preemptive prosecutions. After 9/11, the FBI began to target Muslims and convict them of conspiracy and material support on what a Human Rights Watch report says is weak evidence.

  • How Baltimore became America’s laboratory for spy tech

    Source: Wired. If you live in Baltimore, you may have the feeling that you’re being watched. You are. Baltimore Police track your cellphone use without a warrant. They secretly film the entire city from the air. And as concerns about the uses and privacy implications of that next-generation surveillance tech have mounted, these domestic spying scandals also raise another question: Why Baltimore? It turns out that Baltimore checks off all the requirements to build a modern American urban panopticon: High crime rates, racially biased policing, strained community-police relations, and lack of police oversight have turned Baltimore into a laboratory of emerging surveillance techniques.

  • Video of FBI visit of Muslim activist highlights disturbing nature of Federal counter-extremism programs

    Source: Alternet. It was three days before Burhan Mohumed was to co-host a forum in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis about the government-sponsored Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programs, which targeted Muslim communities in a broad-brush fashion. But when two FBI agents showed up unannounced outside his apartment three days before the event on July 22 and demanded to be let in without a warrant, his training in how to invoke his rights was put to the test. “You got a warrant?”

  • Donald Trump proposes banning immigrants based on ideology, but Bush and Obama got there first

    Source: The Intercept.Donald Trump’s plan to apply an “ideological screening test” on would-be immigrants has been denounced as “un-American,” and “a nonstarter.” But the U.S. government already can and does bar immigration on ideological grounds – and has abused that power. In addition to dramatically expanding government surveillance, the Patriot Act passed by Congress soon after the 9/11 terror attacks allows the State Department to exclude anyone who it determines “undermines the United States efforts to reduce or eliminate terrorist activities.”

  • After 14 years of torture and illegal detention ‘freed’ Guantanamo prisoners are left destitute

    Source: International Business Times. Freed prisoners face a lonely life of poverty in foreign countries where they have no friends, family or community. Many Guantanamo Bay prisoners were bought by the US from Pakistani and Afghan bounty hunters and militants.

  • The NYPD is already a small army—now it is hyping terror threats to militarize even more

    Source: Alternet. The New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio are invoking the specter of ISIS-style terror and the supposed “war on cops” to spend at least another $7.5 million on military-style gear. The expenditures come on top of the at least $1.9 billion funneled into training and new equipment over the last three years, according to Bratton. Meanwhile, the NYPD receives a windfall from the federal program known as Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI)—a “war on terror” creation that operates as a slush fund for the militarization of police forces nationwide.

  • This FBI tactic may have silenced GOP convention protesters in Cleveland

    Source: Mother Jones. Perhaps the relative quiet in Cleveland was because of the overwhelming police presence there, or because estimates that “thousands” would protest at the Republican National Convention were wildly inflated—or both. But an additional factor could be that before and during the convention, the FBI intervened to make sure that any potential rabble-rousers remained quiet.The FBI apparently continued to call upon activists throughout the week of the RNC. Last Wednesday, the Ohio chapter of the National Lawyers Guild released a statement claiming that eight special agents from the FBI, with officers from a metro Cleveland police department, “raided a home without consent or presenting a warrant.” The NLG said the raid appeared to be “part of a series of raids conducted” that morning.

  • FBI greenlights crackdown on Black Lives Matter protesters

    Source: Alternet. Federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, under the Obama administration, are continuing to fuel and encourage a repressive crackdown on peaceful demonstrators exercising their First Amendment rights and moving for social change in America. Last weekend, Baton Rouge’s African-American community was repeatedly assaulted by the police as people attempted to peacefully protest the killing of Sterling. The Baton Rouge police were given the green light by President Obama’s FBI to approach this peaceful protest as they would an enemy force.

  • Students in California might face criminal investigation for protesting film on Israeli army

    Source: The Intercept. Last month, a group of students at the University of California, Irvine gathered to protest a screening of the film Beneath the Helmet, a documentary about the lives of recruits in the Israeli Defense Forces. Upset about the screening of a film they viewed as propaganda for a foreign military, the students were also protesting the presence of several IDF representatives who were holding a panel discussion at the screening. A legal representative for some of the students involved in the protest told The Intercept that the students were informed by the university that their cases have been referred to the district attorney for criminal investigation. The incident is only the latest in which officials at UC Irvine and other major universities around the country have taken harsh measures against pro-Palestinian activists. A report issued last year by Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights documented 152 incidents of free-speech suppression on U.S. campuses in 2014.

  • New intelligence bill gives FBI more secret surveillance power

    Source: The Intercept. A Senate bill published late Monday night includes a new provision that would give the FBI more power to issue secret demands, known as national security letters, to technology, internet, communications, and banking companies for their customers’ information. The provision, tucked into the Senate Intelligence Authorization Act, would explicitly authorize the FBI to obtain “electronic communication transactional records” for individuals or entities — though it doesn’t define what that means. The bill was passed by the Senate Intelligence Committee last week.