Archive for February 23rd, 2012

News Digest 2/23/12

Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 5:00 pm by

First, they came for the Muslims…

Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 2:56 pm by

Friday prayer service in Foley SquareAs previously reported on this blog, the NYPD has been monitoring Muslim communities, including student groups, without any reason to support the invasion of privacy. This should send a chill down everyone’s spine. It is absolutely unbelievable that a police organization would “monitor” American citizens solely because of their religion. Not only did the New York Police Department spy on the local Muslim population,

(They) monitored Muslim college students far more broadly than previously known, at schools far beyond the city limits, including the elite Ivy League colleges of Yale and the University of Pennsylvania…

Just look at what was “monitored”:

Police talked with local authorities about professors 300 miles away in Buffalo and even sent an undercover agent on a whitewater rafting trip, where he recorded students’ names and noted in police intelligence files how many times they prayed.

Detectives trawled Muslim student websites every day and, although professors and students had not been accused of any wrongdoing, their names were recorded in reports prepared for Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

Excuse me? How many times they prayed? Maybe the thinking is that the number of times prayed is directly proportional to how anti-American Muslims are. This is would be patently ridiculous if it weren’t so frightening that Americans’ civil liberties are being trashed so egregiously.

And get this! Here is the response by the police:

Asked about the monitoring, police spokesman Paul Browne provided a list of 12 people arrested or convicted on terrorism charges in the United States and abroad who had once been members of Muslim student associations.

Twelve arrests or convictions out of hundreds, perhaps thousands, who were “monitored” without just cause. TWELVE!

So let’s extrapolate. Why don’t we “monitor” every citizen in the United States (all 310 million of them)?! I’m sure spokesman Brown will get quite a huge number arrests or convictions utilizing that method, no? Now THAT will certainly keep the perpetually “monitored,” determined-to-be-innocent citizens, safe! Maybe arrests or convictions from the universal monitoring of hundreds of millions would go up into the (Gasp!) thousands! That’ll keep the good ol’ U.S. of A. safe!

To sum it all up, sixty years ago there was a Red-Under-Every-Bed mentality (Communism was the threat to our bodily fluids back then). Now (at least according to the NYPD), every Muslim is a threat to our “National Security.” Sadly, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Obama challenges FISA ruling

Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 11:25 am by

get-fisa-right-logoThe Obama administration is challenging an appeals court ruling which allows the ACLU’s lawsuit against the 2008 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act to proceed (Love the redundancy!).

The appeals court ruling, which was issued in March 2011, held that our case could forward (sic), rejecting the administration’s arguments that the case should be dismissed because our clients could not prove their communications would be collected under the law.

The ACLU filed the suit “less than an hour” after President Bush signed it into law back in 2008.

The suit was filed on behalf of a broad group of attorneys and human rights, labor, legal and media organizations whose work requires them to engage in sensitive telephone and email communications with people outside the U.S. Our plaintiffs include Amnesty International USA, Human Rights Watch, The Nation, the Service Employees International Union and journalists Chris Hedges and Naomi Klein.

According to the ACLU,

That law gives the government unprecedented authority to monitor Americans’ international emails and phone calls.

At the end of this year,

The Act is scheduled to sunset in December 2012, and we’re calling for amendments that would prohibit dragnet surveillance, require the government to be more transparent about how the law is being used and place stronger restrictions on the retention and dissemination of information that is collected.

Of course, the government’s argument is another fine example of circular thinking:

The Justice Department claims that the plaintiffs should not be able to sue without first showing that they have been monitored under the program – information that the government refuses to provide.

So let’s be perfectly clear. According to the US government, one cannot sue unless it’s proven that one was monitored, but the US government will not disclose whether one has been monitored. Keen!