Civil Freedoms Under Threat

  • Arrests of journalists at Standing Rock test the boundaries of the first amendment

    Source: The Intercept. The arrests of journalists and filmmakers covering the front lines of the Dakota Access pipeline fight highlight the limits of press protections and the central role of police, prosecutor, and court discretion in deciding whether or not members of the press should face legal consequences when covering protests. The arrests and violent crowd suppression tactics also reflect the refusal of police to discriminate between peaceful protesters, aggressive agitators, and journalists.

  • Three Malheur refuge occupiers claim to be on terrorist watchlist; evidence suggests it’s true

    Source: The Oregonian. Some Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupiers appear to have jumped from one conflict with the federal government straight into another: At least three claim to now be in a federal database of known or suspected terrorists. The terrorist watch list is split into two primary categories: The “no-fly” list bars people from getting on a plane. The less-restrictive “selectee” and “expanded selectee” lists earn a person extra attention every time they fly. To place people on any of those lists, the government doesn’t require a conviction or even a criminal charge – only “reasonable suspicion” that a person is a known or suspected terrorist, according to an internal instructional document obtained by the media. How the screening center actually applies the various criteria is unconstitutionally opaque, said former FBI agent Mike German of the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan law and policy institute.

  • Brooklyn man arrested, accused of supporting Islamic State

    Source: New York Times Brooklyn man arrested, accused of supporting Islamic State By: Liam Stack A Brooklyn man who tried to join the Islamic State and later told an informer that the group wanted to stage an attack in Times Square similar to the one that killed 86 people in […]

  • Potential Trump attorney general created a Muslim registry during the Bush administration

    Source: The Huffington Post. One of Donald Trump’s most eye-popping campaign promises was a proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States. He later tried to amend his comments as a plan to “suspend immigration from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism until such time it’s proven that vetting mechanisms have been put in place.” Trump adviser Kris Kobach is ready to help Trump implement this proposal. Kobach is currently the secretary of state of Kansas and is reportedly under consideration to be the next U.S. attorney general. Kobach told Reuters this week that he is already looking at putting together a proposal to create a registry of immigrants from Muslim countries for Trump’s review. Although he’s best-known for his hard-line stances on immigration and voting rights, Kobach’s previous and less-noticed experience makes him uniquely suited for this job: He was the man who designed and implemented a Muslim registry while working in President George W. Bush’s administration.

  • Trump-loving GOP lawmaker proposes bill to define protests as a form of ‘terrorism’

    Source: Alternet. A Trump-supporting Republican lawmaker is trying to legally define protests, like some of those erupting across the country against his candidate of choice, labeled a form of “terrorism.” In a statement issued Wednesday, Washington state Senator Doug Ericksen says he is drafting a bill that would allow for felony prosecution of protesters who “intentionally break the law…by obstructing economic activity.” Considering that almost all protest could be defined as getting in the way of business interests, Ericksen’s bill is an obvious attack on citizens’ First Amendment rights.

  • Revealed: The FBI’s secret methods for recruiting informants at the border

    Source: The Intercept. Think about arriving at the airport from a foreign country. You are tired from a long flight, anxious about your baggage, and thinking about meeting your family in the arrivals area. You may not have seen them in years. Perhaps it is your first time in the United States. Perhaps you do not speak English well. Perhaps you plan to ask for asylum. Perhaps you are coming from a country where interactions with people in uniform generally involve bribery, intimidation, or worse. The FBI and U.S. Customs and Border Protection work closely together to turn these vulnerabilities into opportunities for gathering intelligence, according to government documents obtained by The Intercept. CBP assists the FBI in its efforts to target travelers entering the country as potential informants, feeding the bureau passenger lists and pulling people aside for lengthy interrogations in order to gather intelligence from them on the FBI’s behalf, the documents show.

  • Law enforcement uses StingRays to spy on Americans and lies about it

    Civil Freedoms Under Threat September 26, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: The Huffington Post. With the rapid advancement of surveillance technology used by increasingly militaristic law enforcement, public policy and privacy protections have struggled to keep pace. In this relatively uncharted tech landscape, the state can easily and indiscriminately spy on us, invade our privacy, and push the limits of democracy with little regard for the consequences of such widespread abuse.Nothing epitomizes this kind of abusive law enforcement surveillance more than a cell site simulator (CSS) device, or StingRay. According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been using CSS technology to “track and locate phones and users since at least 1995,” long before cell phones were in widespread use.

  • 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?”