Opinions

  • 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.

     
  • 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.