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Senators: FBI rules could target innocent people

Senators: FBI rules could target innocent people

AP
August 20, 2008

Proposed rules to help the FBI catch terrorists could lead to innocent Americans being spied upon by government agents or informants “all without any basis for suspicion,” a group of Democratic senators said Wednesday.

The rules, known as the attorney general guidelines, have not been approved or even publicly released yet, but four Democrats joined a growing chorus of lawmakers raising concerns after being briefed on what the guidelines say.

Among their fears: Americans could be targeted in part based on their race, ethnicity or religion — or free speech activities protected by the Constitution.

“As you know, attorney general guidelines were first implemented in the wake of the FBI abuses of the 1960s and 1970s, and serve as one of the most important bulwarks against future abuses,” the senators said in a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

The four Democrats — Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island — indicated they remained concerned even after assurances from officials during the Justice Department briefings.

The lawmakers asked Mukasey to hold off finalizing the rules to allow a public review.

“Given the importance of these guidelines, providing a period of time for public comment would be a reasonable and responsible way to move forward and achieve the best possible end result,” the Democrats wrote.

Earlier this week, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and the panel’s top Republican, Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, also called for delaying the guidelines.

Justice spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said the department will review the requests. Citing remarks earlier by Mukasey about the new rules, the spokesman said an investigation would not be opened based solely on a person’s race, ethnicity or religion.

“The guidelines will require all activities to have a valid purpose,” Roehrkasse said, adding that the rules will “include robust and effective oversight measures.”

The guidelines are expected to be finalized next week. They do not require congressional approval.

First reported last month by The Associated Press, the rules are intended to update policies governing investigations as the FBI shifts from a traditional crime-fighting agency to one whose top priority is protecting the United States from terrorist attacks.

Currently, the FBI must have evidence or allegations of wrongdoing before opening an investigation of U.S. citizens or legal residents from other countries. As described by some law enforcement officials, the new policy would let agents open preliminary terrorism investigations after mining public records and intelligence to build a profile of traits that, taken together, were deemed suspicious.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the rules, said factors that could trigger an inquiry would include travel to regions of the world known for terrorist activity and access to weapons or military training, along with the person’s race or ethnicity.

Following their briefings, the four Democrats said the guidelines would:

_Let the FBI use “a variety of intrusive investigative techniques” with no evidence of possible wrongdoing. The techniques could include: long-term FBI surveillance, interviewing neighbors and work-mates, recruiting informants and searching commercial databases for information on people “all without any basis for suspicion.”

“We are particularly concerned that the draft guidelines might permit an innocent American to be subjected to such intrusive surveillance based in part on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, or on protected First Amendment activities,” the senators wrote.

_Allow the government to collect foreign intelligence information inside the United States without current legal protections for U.S. citizens or legal residents. The senators noted that the broad term “foreign intelligence” would cover any information relating to the activities of a foreign government, organization or person.

_Allow the information gathered to be broadly shared among government agencies. “We have serious questions about the scope of information sharing as it relates to U.S. persons who are under no suspicion of wrongdoing,” the senators wrote.

 



“Fusion Centers” to Gather Intelligence on Peaceful Protesters

“Fusion Centers” to Gather Intelligence on Peaceful Protesters

The Progressive

July 30, 2008

On the heels of the Maryland State Police spying scandal, the ACLU is ringing the alarms over “fusion centers.”

These are the state-by-state groupings of various law enforcement agencies working together at all levels, from local police to the FBI, NSA, and CIA, ostensibly to share terrorism threat information. But, as we saw in the Maryland case, they may sometimes just be sharing information about lawful, peaceful First Amendment-protected speech.

There is “mission creep from watching out for terrorism to watching out for peace activists,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office, in a press conference July 29. She called the fusion centers an incipient “domestic intelligence apparatus.” And she warned that the kind of spying that occurred in Maryland was “very dangerous to our democracy.”

In December 2007, the ACLU published a report “What’s Wrong with Fusion Centers?”

It noted that there are more than 40 fusion centers already created. And it cited several problems with them, including the participation of military personnel in law enforcement, as well as “private sector participation.” “Fusion centers are incorporating private-sector corporations into the intelligence process, breaking down the arm’s length relationship that protects the privacy of innocent Americans who are employees or customers of these companies.”

On July 29, the ACLU issued an update to that report.

The fusion centers represent an attempt to create a “total surveillance society,” the update says.

It notes that the LAPD fed into its fusion center an array of ““suspicious activity reports” that included such innocuous activities as “taking notes” or “drawing diagrams” or “using binoculars.” (Since one out of six Americans is a birdwatcher, this last item could really swell the files.)

The “suspicious activity” criteria of the LAPD “gives law enforcement officers justification to harass practically anyone they choose, to collect personal information, and to pass such information along to the intelligence community,” the update says.

Frighteningly, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has called the LAPD program “a national model.”

The Director of National Intelligence urges state and local law enforcement to “report non-criminal suspicious activities,” the update says. According to the standards of the Director of National Intelligence, these activities are defined as “observed behavior that may be indicative of intelligence gathering or pre-operational planning related to terrorism, criminal, or other illicit intention.”

The ACLU notes that “other illicit intention” is not defined, and that fusion centers are fed intelligence before “reasonable suspicion” is established.

Fusion centers also engage in data mining, as they rely not only on FBI and CIA records. They also often “have subscriptions with private data brokers such as Accurint, ChoicePoint, Lexis-Nexus, and LocatePlus, a database containing cell phone numbers and unpublished telephone records,” the ACLU notes, referring to a Washington Post article from April 2.

The ACLU calls fusion centers “out-of-control data-gathering monsters.”

While the government is gathering more and more information about us citizens, it’s trying to shield itself from telling us what it’s doing. “There appears to be an effort by the federal government to coerce states into exempting their fusion centers from state open government laws,” the ACLU notes. “For those living in Virginia, it’s already too late: The Virginia General Assembly passed a law in April 2008 exempting the state’s fusion center from the Freedom of Information Act.”

As I noted in “The New Snoops: Terrorism Liaison Officers, Some from the Private Sector”, the Department of Justice has come up with “Fusion Center Guidelines” that flat-out recommend that “fusion centers and their leadership encourage appropriate policymakers to legislate the protection of private sector data provided to fusion centers.”

The ACLU is absolutely right: Congress must investigate these fusion centers and exercise appropriate oversight before law enforcement agencies and their private sector partners violate the rights of more Americans and usher us all into the total surveillance society.

 

Bush turning intelligence agencies on Americans
Raw Story
July 31, 2008

President Bush seems to be slowly turning the nation’s massive surveillance apparatus upon its citizens, and some worry that administration assurances to protect civil liberties are nothing but empty promises.

With his update to a decades-old executive order governing the Intelligence Community, Bush is giving the Director of National Intelligence and the 16 agencies of the US Intelligence Community more power to access and share sensitive information on Americans with little to no independent oversight. The update to Executive Order 12333, first issued by former President Ronald Reagan, introduces a more prominent role for the Attorney General in approving intelligence gathering methods, calls for collaboration with local law enforcement agencies, eases limits on how information can be shared and urges cooperation between the IC and private companies.

“This Intelligence Community that was built to deal with foreign threats is now being slowly and incrementally turned inward,” says Mike German, policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, in an interview with RAW STORY.

Bush’s latest update of a decades old executive order governing intelligence activities is a “lit fuse” that could end with the Constitution’s immolation, another ACLU official says.

“This kind of concentrated power, exercised in secret, is a lit fuse with our Constitution likely in danger of being burned,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington legislative office.

The White House insists that the update to Executive Order 12333 maintains protections for Americans’ civil liberties, but senior administration officials who briefed reporters Thursday provided little reassurance that the new order would correct some of the Bush administration’s most egregious abuses.

Read Full Article Here

Peaceful Activist labeled a “terrorist” in a federally-funded domestic terrorism database
http://noworldsystem.com/2008/07/19/..d-spy-on-protest-groups/

 



Attorneys assert claim against Karl Rove for theft of 2004 Election

Attorneys assert claim against Karl Rove for theft of 2004 Election

Ohio News Bureau
July 17, 2008

COLUMBUS, OHIO: Plaintiff attorneys for a lawsuit filed in 2006 that sought voting records to prove whether their suspicion that Republicans conspired to suppress the votes of two active Democratic demographics that helped President Bush win the state and a second term in the White House, changed the focus of their lawsuit Thursday, saying they will now focus on learning more about the roles played by Karl Rove, Bush’s political architect and Mike Connell, a long-time Bush family confidant and Information technology guru – now working for Sen. John McCain – who as an information technology tradesman, built various computer systems that produced election irregularities that favored Republicans and whose work, if not ferreted out and stopped now, may do the same this year for McCain as it did for Bush against Kerry four years ago.

Ohio became famous, or infamous depending on your political persuasion, for catapulting George W. Bush into a second term as the nation’s president. In 2004 the state was run by Republicans, who held all statewide offices and controlled both houses of the legislature. The Secretary of State at the time was Kenneth J. Blackwell, an African American from Cincinnati who previously had served as State Treasurer and was in his second term as the state’s chief elections officer. At the time, Blackwell was also the co-chairman of the Bush-Cheney re-election committee. When the narrow election was over, Bush won Ohio from his Democratic rival, Massachusetts’ Sen. John Kerry, by the slim margin of about 118, 000 plus votes, or few than a dozen votes for each of Ohio’s 11,000 polling locations.

Read Full Article Here

 

Rove Threatened GOP I.T. Guru to “’take the fall’ for election fraud in Ohio”
Letter Sent to Attorney General Mukasey Requesting ’Protection for Mr. Connell and His Family From This Reported Attempt to Intimidate a Witness’ After Tip from ’Credible Source’

UPDATE: OH AG Reportedly Asked to Provide Immunity Protection…

Brad Blog
July 25, 2008

Karl Rove has threatened a GOP high-tech guru and his wife, if he does not “’take the fall’ for election fraud in Ohio,” according to a letter sent this morning to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, by Ohio election attorney Cliff Arnebeck.

The email, posted in full below, details threats against Mike Connell of the Republican firm New Media Communications, which describes itself on its website as “a powerhouse in the field of Republican website development and Internet services” and having “played a strategic role in helping the GOP expand its technological supremacy.”

Read Full Article Here

 



Leaked Photo Shows Detainee’s Lips Sewn Shut

Leaked photo shows detainee’s lips sewn shut, wires coming out of the face

Wikileaks
July 22, 2008

Photo leaked from a military computer

Photo of a detainee held by the United States, with his face wired, lips sewn, red eyes and torso sacked. According to digital camera metadata the image was taken on Feb 9, 2003 03:49:25. The 6 Aug 2004 is also mentioned in relation to this photo. The facial wiring is clearly non-medical. The location of the detainee is unknown, possibly the US Bagram Theater Internment Facility in Afghanistan. Although there is a resemblance to the US Taliban supporter John Walker Lindh, the connection is superficial. The negative image to the right was created by Wikileaks to draw attention to certain regions of the photo on the left. Wikileaks staff have verified that the photograph came from a US military computer network.

Read Full Article Here

 

ACLU: AG Wants Congress To Subvert Constitution

Raw Story
July 21, 2008

Attorney General Michael Mukasey prompted Congress Monday morning, during a speech to the conservative American Enterprise Institute, to create new rules governing the rights of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The American Civil Liberties Union immediately responded to Mukasey’s request, calling his proposals nothing short of asking Congress to subvert the Constitution.

Mukasey “proposed that Congress subvert the right of habeas corpus with a new scheme of procedures that will hide the Bush administration’s past wrongdoing – an action that would undermine the constitutional guarantee of due process and conceal systematic torture and abuse of detainees,” the group charged.

“Mukasey is asking Congress to expand and extend the war on terror forever,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office, in a media advisory. “Anyone that this president or the next one declares to be a terrorist could then be held indefinitely without a trial. This is clearly the last gasp of an administration desperate to rationalize what is a failed legal scheme that was correctly rejected four times by the Supreme Court.”

The Associated Press, acknowledging a Congress eager to transition into a busy election season, notes the rules are not likely to be approved. Mukasey’s requests come on the heels of a Supreme Court decision granting detainees the right to challenge their captivity in US federal court. Under Mukasey’s proposals, a detainee would be able to challenge their detention, but would receive no extradition to the United States for the proceedings.

According to the Washington Post: “Under the Justice plan that Mukasey talked about today, the U.S. government could hold prisoners indefinitely so long as the armed conflict with al-Qaeda persisted.”

Read Full Article Here

Author: Officials against torture memo feared wiretaps, physical danger
http://rawstory.com//news/2..ps_over_opposing_0721.html

Lawyer: U.S. Military Jails Are Legal Black Holes
http://rawstory.com/news/afp/US..black_holes_say_U_07202008.html

US tells lies about torture, say MPs
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jul/20/humanrights.uksecurity

Conservative Lawyers Urge Bush To Issue ‘Pre-Emptive Pardons’ To Officials Involved In Illegal Programs
http://thinkprogress.org/2008/07/21/bush-preemptive-pardons/

Guantánamo children
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/20..gusrc=rss&feed=worldnews

 



Dianne Feinstein Confronted on Waterboarding

Dianne Feinstein interrupted during live Interview at CNN

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHPcZn_uL-k

 



US General to School Kids – We Need To Waterboard

US General to School Kids – We Need To Waterboard

AGC
November 2, 2007

Army General Russel Honore said the general public shouldn’t be so quick to condemn the use of waterboarding as an interrogation technique.

“I don’t know much about it, but I know we’re dealing with terrorists who do some very awful things to people,” he said after Friday morning’s speech to about 900 students at Flat Rock Middle School in Tyrone. “I know enough about [waterboarding] that the intent is not to kill anybody. We know that terrorists that we deal with, they have no law that they abide by. They have no code, they kill indiscriminately, like they did on 9/11.”

Honore, a no-nonsense three-star who commands the Fort Gillem-based First Army, also spoke of his plans to leave the army in the upcoming months and perhaps teach at a university. The 37-year Army veteran also hinted at a possible future run for political office.

The issue of waterboarding, a technique that simulates drowning, has been the raging debate surrounding Michael Mukasey, President Bush’s nominee for attorney general.

Mukasey has refused to define the technique — generally described as strapping a detainee down, wrapping his face in a wet towel and dripping water on it to produce the sensation of drowning — as torture during recent congressional testimony.

Torture is considered a war crime by the international community. CIA interrogators are believed to have used waterboarding against detained terror suspects.

Honore, however, emphasized the military will always remain within the limits of the law, but warned that stiffer interrogation methods may sometimes be necessary in the war on terror.

“If we picked up a prisoner that could tell us where the next 9/11 plot was, we could sit there and treat him nice, and that may not work,” he said. “We could sit there and give him water and we could be politically correct.

“But if we have to use sources and methods that get information that not only save American lives, but save other people’s lives or could prevent a major catastrophe from happening, I think the American people can decide [whether to allow waterboarding].”

Honore became a national folk hero of sorts in 2005 after taking command of the government’s embarrassingly slow response to the devastated residents of the Gulf Coast in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin once described him as “a John Wayne dude who gets things done.”

That applies to fighting the war on terror as well.

“As long as we’re responsible for hunting those SOBs down, finding them and preventing them from killing our sons and daughters,” Honore said, “I think we’ve got an obligation to do what the hell we’ve got to do to make sure we get the mission done.”

Retired JAGs Send Letter To Leahy: “Waterboarding is inhumane, it is torture, and it is illegal.”
http://www.crooksandliars.com..torture-and-it-is-illegal/

Bush Administration Blocked Waterboarding Critic
http://noworldsystem.com/2007/…ocked-waterboarding-critic/

 



Bush Administration Blocked Waterboarding Critic


Bush Administration Blocked Waterboarding Critic

Former DOJ Official Tested the Method Himself, in Effort to Form Torture Policy

ABC
November 2, 2007

A senior Justice Department official, charged with reworking the administration’s legal position on torture in 2004 became so concerned about the controversial interrogation technique of waterboarding that he decided to experience it firsthand, sources told ABC News.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcO3gRhCihc

Daniel Levin, then acting assistant attorney general, went to a military base near Washington and underwent the procedure to inform his analysis of different interrogation techniques.

After the experience, Levin told White House officials that even though he knew he wouldn’t die, he found the experience terrifying and thought that it clearly simulated drowning.

Levin, who refused to comment for this story, concluded waterboarding could be illegal torture unless performed in a highly limited way and with close supervision. And, sources told ABC News, he believed the Bush Administration had failed to offer clear guidelines for its use.

Bush Administration Blocked Critic

The administration at the time was reeling from an August 2002 memo by Jay Bybee, then the head of the Office of Legal Counsel, which laid out possible justifications for torture. In June 2004, Levin’s predecessor at the office, Jack Goldsmith, officially withdrew the Bybee memo, finding it deeply flawed.

When Levin took over from Goldsmith, he went to work on a memo that would effectively replace the Bybee memo as the administration’s legal position on torture. It was during this time that he underwent waterboarding.

In December 2004, Levin released the new memo. He said, “Torture is abhorrent” but he went on to say in a footnote that the memo was not declaring the administration’s previous opinions illegal. The White House, with Alberto Gonzales as the White House counsel, insisted that this footnote be included in the memo.

But Levin never finished a second memo imposing tighter controls on the specific interrogation techniques. Sources said he was forced out of the Justice Department when Gonzales became attorney general.

Critics Decry Waterboarding as Torture

Critics say waterboarding should never be used.

According to retired Rear Adm. John Hutson, “There is no question this is torture — this is a technique by which an individual is strapped to a board, elevated by his feet and either dunked into water or water poured over his face over a towel or a blanket.”

The legal justification of waterboarding has come to the forefront in the debate swirling around Michael B. Mukasey’s nomination for attorney general.

While Democrats are pressing him to declare waterboarding illegal, he has refused to do so. He calls it personally “repugnant,” but he is unwilling to declare it illegal until he can see the classified information regarding the technique and its current use.

U.S. weighs plan for closing Guantanamo
http://www.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUSB31892920071104

Book Traces Torture To Rumsfeld & Bush
http://www.fmnn.com/WorldNews.asp?nid=51012

Benchmarking Schumer on John Bolton and Mukasey/Addington
http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/002475.php

U.S. weighs plan for closing Guantanamo
http://www.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUSB31892920071104

Here’s what waterboarding looks like
http://current.com/pods/controversy/PD04399

Mukasey: Waterboarding is Torture if it’s Torture
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gt8v_GAgOK4

Video: What Happens in Guantanamo Bay?
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1403370850111668271&hl=en