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Does The Use Of Sting Operations By The FBI Make Us Safer?
A new documentary, “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front,” tells the story of environmental activist Daniel McGowan. Four years ago this month, McGowan was sentenced to a seven-year term for his role in two acts of politically motivated arson in 2001 to protest extensive logging in the Pacific Northwest—starting fires at a lumber company and an experimental tree farm in Oregon
Guests: Marshall Curry, filmmaker and co-director of the new documentary, If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front.
Andrew Stepanian, an animal rights activist who was jailed at the same CMU as Daniel McGowan for six months. Andrew was freed from prison in 2009 after serving a total of 31 months behind bars.
Will Potter, freelance reporter who focuses on how the war on terrorism affects civil liberties. He runs the blog, “GreenIsTheNewRed.com.” He his also the author of the new book Green is the New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement Under Siege.
Dr. Jeffrey Kaye of Truthout on the revelations of “Iron Man”, a former military intelligence official who knew that al Qaeda was planning attacks on the twin towers and Pentagon; Chicago lawyer Michael Deutsch details the September, 2010 raid on 23 peace activists and compares it to COINTELPRO.Dr. Kaye is a Bay Area psychologist who has reported on America’s torture policies and Guantanamo.
-With many local governments and states insisting they want out, the Obama administration says it is working to improve Secure Communities, its troubled data-sharing program that pushes local police to the front lines of immigration enforcement.
-If Mr. Morton really wants advice from experts, he already has the testimony of police chiefs and sheriffs, leaders of immigrant communities and a growing number of state politicians. They say the best thing that can be done with Secure Communities is to shut it down.
-The Obama administration has long been bumbling along in the footsteps of its predecessor when it comes to sacrificing Americans’ basic rights and liberties under the false flag of fighting terrorism. Now the Obama team seems ready to lurch even farther down that dismal road than George W. Bush did.
-The F.B.I plans to issue a new edition of its operational manual that will give agents significant new powers to search law enforcement and private databases, go through household trash or deploy surveillance teams, with even fewer checks against abuse.
-But under President Bush and now under President Obama, these changes have occurred without any real discussion about whether the supposed added security is worth the harm to civil liberties. The White House cares so little about providing meaningful oversight that Mr. Obama has yet to nominate a successor for Glenn Fine, the diligent Justice Department inspector general who left in January.
-Instead of making communities more secure, Secure Communities may actually make them less so. Police in San Jose, San Francisco and elsewhere insist that the program will make their jobs harder because immigrants will be reluctant to report crimes or cooperate with investigations for fear that any contact with the authorities could lead to their arrest and deportation.
-It makes little sense to waste scarce law enforcement resources tracking and deporting law-abiding immigrants, even if they are in the U.S. illegally.
D. Toledo Blade (6/20) Editorial: Rights Wronged
-Last year, FBI agents raided the homes of nonviolent peace activists in Chicago. The civilians had come under suspicion of providing “material support” of Colombian and Palestinian activists the government considers terrorists.
-Seven homes were raided and 23 people were subpoenaed in the probe. The fact that everyone who was targeted was a critic of U.S. policy in the Middle East and South America was not lost on critics who say the Obama Justice Department is just as intolerant of dissent as the preceding Bush administration was.
-There seems something un-American about some of what the FBI is doing in the name of fighting terror.
-Someday soon, the FBI might investigate you. Quietly. Covertly. Unofficially. You wouldn’t even know it. No one but the agent would. Suspicion or probable cause would be unnecessary. There would be no need to prove to superiors or a judge that you’re a threat or a criminal. There would be no one looking over the agent’s shoulder, literally or figuratively. There would be no paper trail, because, the FBI says, filing paperwork is such a hassle.
-The FBI is rewriting its rules and broadening its authority – it says it doesn’t need permission – and the latest power play will make it easier for the agency to investigate innocent people and push the envelope on privacy. Without the need for paperwork, abuses will be nearly impossible to detect.
-Security agencies are charged with keeping us safe, but they can’t forget that it’s also in our national interest to protect American freedoms and values.
-The FBI intends to grant to its 14,000 agents significant new powers which will extend the agency’s reach into the lives of average Americans and effectively transform the citizenry into a nation of suspects, reversing the burden of proof so that we are now all guilty until proven innocent.
-Between 1956 and 1971, the FBI conducted an intensive domestic intelligence program, termed Cointelpro, charged with the secret surveillance of citizens on the basis of their political beliefs, even when those beliefs posed no threat of violence or illegal acts on behalf of a hostile foreign power. Thus, it would seem we’re back to where we started, only this time we’re facing Cointelpro on steroids–pumped up on the government’s self-righteous quest to ferret out peace activists and dissidents and energized by an arsenal of invasive technologies that make the phone tapping equipment of the 1960s look like Tinker Toys.
-So what’s to be done?
1) The American people need to get their heads out of the sand and their butts off the couches and act like real Americans for a change. And by that I mean taking to the streets and truly protesting this deplorable state of our nation. March on Washington, march on your town hall–but whatever you do, make your voices heard. If they can do it in Europe and China and the Middle East, there’s absolutely no reason we can’t do it here.
2) Once we’ve gotten Congress’ attention, we need to push for a legislative response to these FBI abuses. It can be done, but it will take Americans coming together across party lines and calling for Congress to pass legislation restoring the Fourth Amendment and restricting what government agents can do, especially without a court order.
3) Act now before it’s too late. That dying squeal, the sound of the Fourth Amendment having been gutted and bleeding to death, is getting fainter and fainter. Once it goes silent, there’ll be no turning back.
-There is no question that a congressional hearing, which targets an entire religion, is morally and strategically wrong-headed. First, it is un-American. This is not the America that I know and have helped build as a lifelong public servant. The America that I know has always provided refuge for those fleeing persecution, from early settlers to recent refugees. The America that I know does not hate and discriminate based on race, religion or creed.
– These hearings do little to keep our country secure and do plenty to increase prejudice, discrimination and hate. I thought we learned a lesson or two from my internment camp experience in Colorado. I hope I am not proven wrong.
– Americans understand that federal investigators and law enforcement agents shouldn’t have the power to run roughshod over our constitutional rights
– We’ve seen what happens when the government oversteps its bounds. We get laws like the Patriot Act, which threatens our constitutional freedoms under the guise of security.
Overall the GPS Act:
* Provides clarity for government agencies, commercial service providers, and the public regarding the legal procedures and protections that apply to electronic devices that can be used to track the movements of individual Americans.
* Requires the government to show probable cause and get a warrant before acquiring the geolocational information of a U.S. person.
* Applies to all law enforcement acquisitions of the geolocational information of individual Americans without their knowledge, including acquisition from commercial service providers as well as from tracking devices covertly installed by the government.
* Applies to real-time tracking of a person’s movements, as well as the acquisition of records of past movements
* Creates criminal penalties for surreptitiously using an electronic device to track a person’s movements that parallel those for wiretapping.
* Prohibit commercial service providers from sharing customers’ geolocational information with outside entities without customer consent.
-Bans like the one in Oklahoma will serve to chill cooperation by the Muslim-American community with counterterrorism efforts. This makes sense: in such an environment, it would be fair for Muslims to pause before, say, passing on a lead to the police, worrying about whether the police would then look at them with suspicion as well.
-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has taken steps against anti-Muslim bias, for example by supporting a California schoolteacher’s suit challenging her dismissal for taking time off to make a pilgrimage to Mecca. But these steps are inadequate compared to the scope of public and private discrimination facing Muslim-Americans.
Why shouldn’t the president establish a commission to assess what a war on terror might mean today? Here are five symbolic steps it might recommend that could help set the U.S. on another path and put the war on terror behind us:
1. Concede that there is no more tangible endpoint for the war on terror than the death of bin Laden: Rather than trying to banish the term “war on terror” (as the Obama administration did in 2009), let’s face it squarely. Practically speaking, at the moment as for the past near-decade, it is little but a catch-all phrase for “endless war.”
2. Release John Walker Lindh: This would be a symbolic act of compassion.
3. Create a rehabilitation program for releasing Guantanamo detainees currently assigned to indefinite detention.
4. Revisit the issue of prosecuting those responsible for America’s offshore torture policies in the Bush years.
5. Restore permanently to the Department of Justice responsibility for trying terrorists from around the globe.
1. Crime has fallen because incarceration has risen.
2. The prison population is rising because more people are being sentenced to prison.
3. Helping prisoners rejoin society will substantially reduce the prison population.
4. There’s a link between race and crime.
5. Racial disparities in incarceration reflect police and judges’ racial prejudice.
– American history is replete with assaults on liberties that first target foreigners, minorities and those on the political margins, then spread toward the mainstream. The 1917 Espionage Act, for example, was used to prosecute American labor leaders and other critics of the government, and the 1798 Alien Enemies Act was revived after Pearl Harbor to intern American citizens of Japanese ancestry. A similar process is taking place now, as the F.B.I. has begun using counterterrorism tools to search, infiltrate and investigate groups of American peace activists and labor leaders in the Midwest.
– The Fourth Amendment is weaker than it was 50 years ago, and this should worry everyone. “Uncontrolled search and seizure is one of the first and most effective weapons in the arsenal of every arbitrary government,” Justice Robert H. Jackson, the former chief United States prosecutor at wrote in 1949. “Among deprivations of rights, none is so effective in cowing a population, crushing the spirit of the individual and putting terror in every heart.”
Another Preemptive Prosecution using manufactured charges in NY
– There is no suggestion in any of these reports or documents, not even a hint, that either of the accused ever tried to stage any attacks in the U.S. or target civilians either in the U.S. or Iraq. Leaving aside the fact that this seems to be yet another case where the FBI manufacturers its own plots which they entrap people into joining, and then praises itself for stopping them, the alleged crimes here are confined entirely to past attacks on U.S. invading forces in their country and current efforts to aid those waging such attacks now.
– I’ve often written that Terrorism is the most meaningless, and thus most manipulated, term in American political discourse. But while it lacks any objective meaning, it does have a functional one. It means: anyone — especially of the Muslim religion and/or Arab nationality — who fights against the United States and its allies or tries to impede their will. That’s what “Terrorism” is; that’s all it means. And it’s just extraordinary how we’ve created what we call “law” that is intended to do nothing other than justify all acts of American violence while delegitimizing, criminalizing, and converting into Terrorism any acts of resistance to that violence.
-Most DHS detainees held in Pennsylvania have been arrested in greater New York City, New Jersey and Philadelphia after residing in the U.S. for years. They often present complicated claims for relief from removal based on U.S. family ties, length of time here and fear of return to their home countries.
-According to the government’s interpretation of the law, people jailed for years by DHS are not even entitled to a hearing before a judge who has the power to set them free. DHS’s “administrative detention” powers, it argues, are absolute. We believe that the Fifth Amendment applies to all people.
A federal decision last week to give prosecutors more discretion when enforcing immigration law has done little to sway opponents and advocates of a controversial program slated for expansion in Texas. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Secure Communities checks the fingerprints of those arrested against an ICE database. It has been the target of criticism from some who say the program, designed to deport violent criminals, has led to the deportation of people convicted of minor crimes.
– The Republican chairman and ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee said they want the head of the Transportation Security Administration to explain how racial profiling became a common practice among TSA screeners at Newark Liberty International Airport.
– “TSA should halt the SPOT program immediately until safeguards are put into place to address racial and ethnic profiling concerns,” Thompson said in a statement. “I will write TSA and request to see this internal report.”
Civil Freedoms Under Threat
-The Obama administration, in a case firmly rooted in the 21st century, is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that police do not need a warrant to use the Global Positioning System to track the movements of suspects.
– The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed briefs in the GPS case in the lower courts, says it can’t. GPS technology is just too “invasive” to be used without a warrant. Words from a Washington, D.C., federal appeals court decision: “‘A person who knows all of another’s travels can deduce whether he is a weekly churchgoer, a heavy drinker, a regular at the gym, an unfaithful husband, an outpatient receiving medical treatment, an associate of particular individuals or political groups — and not just one such fact about a person, but all such facts.'”
– Investigators are mining social networking sites and e-mails, placing tracking devices on vehicles and purchasing sophisticated technology of their own — like devices that can extract information from cell phones. And with many cell phones now more characteristic of computers than basic talk-and-text phones, there’s plenty of information to be found.
– Privacy-rights advocates, though, worry about constitutional violations and say laws aren’t keeping pace with changing technology.
– Why shouldn’t we be consistent? Why are non-citizen terrorist suspects captured abroad “unprivileged belligerents” while those captured in the US are simply criminals? Why are American-born terrorists criminals and not unprivileged belligerents? Does the difference between committing a crime and being illegally at war with the United States really just depend on where you are captured or where you are born? The Obama administration does not have compelling answers to these questions. Its compromises and cave-ins on civil liberties have left its counterterrorism policy an inconsistent mishmash of Miranda warnings for foreigners and proxy detention and Hellfire missiles for Americans.
– The rights of all people accused of terrorism have been dramatically rolled back over the past ten years. So don’t expect that American citizenship will protect you when the government decides that you might be a terrorist, too.
The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee is weighing fresh concerns about the sweeping nature of domestic spying using one controversial section of the Patriot Act. This particular part of that law is notable because it has been divisive for years — and because during those years President Obama has quietly moved from being a Senator skeptical of the provisions to being an enthusiastic spy chief whose Administration embraces them.
Islamophobia and Civil Rights
-The apparent recent surge in popular anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States has been driven by a surprisingly small and, for the most part, closely knit cadre of activists. Their influence extends far beyond their limited numbers, in part because of an amenable legion of right-wing media personalitiesand politicians like U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.)
-Of the 10 people profiled below, most were selected for profiling primarily because of their association with activist organizations. BILL FRENCH, BRIGITTE GABRIEL , P. DAVID GAUBATZ, PAMELA GELLER , DAVID HOROWITZ , JOHN JOSEPH JAY, TERRY JONES, DEBBIE SCHLUSSEL, ROBERT SPENCER, DAVID YERUSHALMI.
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