Intercept - The National Security Agency and FBI have covertly monitored the emails of prominent Muslim-Americansincluding a political candidate and several civil rights activists, academics, and lawyersunder secretive procedures intended to target terrorists and foreign spies.
According to documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the list of Americans monitored by their own government includes:
Faisal Gill, a longtime Republican Party operative and one-time candidate for public office who held a top-secret security clearance and served in the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush;
Asim Ghafoor, a prominent attorney who has represented clients in terrorism-related cases;
Hooshang Amirahmadi, an Iranian-American professor of international relations at Rutgers University;
Agha Saeed, a former political science professor at California State University who champions Muslim civil liberties and Palestinian rights;
Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the country.
The individuals appear on an NSA spreadsheet in the Snowden archives called FISA recapshort for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Under that law, the Justice Department must convince a judge with the top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that there is probable cause to believe that American targets are not only agents of an international terrorist organization or other foreign power, but also are or may be engaged in or abetting espionage, sabotage, or terrorism. The authorizations must be renewed by the court, usually every 90 days for U.S. citizens.
...The five Americans whose email accounts were monitored by the NSA and FBI have all led highly public, outwardly exemplary lives. All five vehemently deny any involvement in terrorism or espionage, and none advocates violent jihad or is known to have been implicated in any crime, despite years of intense scrutiny by the government and the press. Some have even climbed the ranks of the U.S. national security and foreign policy establishments.
I just dont know why, says Gill, whose AOL and Yahoo! email accounts were monitored while he was a Republican candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates. Ive done everything in my life to be patriotic. I served in the Navy, served in the government, was active in my communityIve done everything that a good citizen, in my opinion, should do.
NY Times, Neenah, WI - Inside the municipal garage of this small lakefront city, parked next to the hefty orange snowplow, sits an even larger truck, this one painted in desert khaki. Weighing 30 tons and built to withstand land mines, the armored combat vehicle is one of hundreds showing up across the country, in police departments big and small.
The 9-foot-tall armored truck was intended for an overseas battlefield. But as President Obama ushers in the end of what he called Americas long season of war, the former tools of combat M-16 rifles, grenade launchers, silencers and more are ending up in local police departments, often with little public notice.
During the Obama administration, according to Pentagon data, police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.
The equipment has been added to the armories of police departments that already look and act like military units. Police SWAT teams are now deployed tens of thousands of times each year, increasingly for routine jobs. Masked, heavily armed police officers in Louisiana raided a nightclub in 2006 as part of a liquor inspection. In Florida in 2010, officers in SWAT gear and with guns drawn carried out raids on barbershops that mostly led only to charges of barbering without a license.
When the militarys mine-resistant trucks began arriving in large numbers last year, Neenah and places like it were plunged into the middle of a debate over whether the post-9/11 era had obscured the lines between soldier and police officer.
It just seems like ramping up a police department for a problem we dont have, said Shay Korittnig, a father of two who spoke against getting the armored truck at a recent public meeting in Neenah. This is not what I was looking for when I moved here, that my children would view their local police officer as an M-16-toting, SWAT-apparel-wearing officer.
A quiet city of about 25,000 people, Neenah has a violent crime rate that is far below the national average. Neenah has not had a homicide in more than five years.
Tana Ganeva, Alternet - The city of LA has spent at least a quarter of a million dollars arresting, prosecuting and jailing just one homeless woman, 59-year-old Ann Moody, mostly for sitting on a public sidewalk.
Moody has been arrested 59 times in six years, reports the Los Angeles Times. She's spent 15 months in jail since 2002. As the article points out, Moody has been arrested more than any other person in the entire city of Los Angeles..
UCLA law professor Gary Blasi, who has conducted studies on policing in Skid Row, tells AlterNet there's a reason Moody raises the ire of police officials. "Unlike the other targets, she doesn't just go away. That corner is where she thinks she should be."
In 2006, the city launched the Safer Cities Initiative. Brainchild of then-Los Angeles police chief William Bratton, Safer Cities sent 50 extra officers to Skid Row with instructions to bust people for pretty much everything, from jaywalking and open containers to prostitution and drug crimes...
An assessment of Safer Cities conducted by Blasi and the UCLA School of Law Fact Investigation Clinic found that the LAPD handed out 12,000 citations in the first year. Most were for pedestrian violations. Blasi points out that the inability to pay fines, or show up to court on time due to mental illness or substance abuse, tends to lead to arrest warrants, shuttling the indigent away from homelessness resources and into the jails.
"The goal of the Safer Cities Initiative is to force poor people of color to move," says Blasi. "When they don't move, they go into the criminal justice system."
Even before the official launch of Safer Cities, Bratton's LAPD made use of a strict anti-camping ordinance to break up homeless encampments in the area, confiscating property and busting homeless people for laying or sitting on the sidewalk. In 2006, a federal appeals court ruled that the city could no longer arrest people for sleeping and sitting in public, especially given the city's lack of adequate shelter for the homeless. Under an eventual court settlement, the homeless were allowed to sleep in the street at night, but can be busted for illegal lodging between 6am and 9pm, the rule Ann Moody refuses to follow, to the consternation of the LAPD.
Although Skid Row's homeless population dropped when the Safer Cities Initiative was first introduced, it went right back up after the financial collapse. "There are more people living on Skid Row now than when [the program] began," says Blasi. "Some people move, some recover. But Skid Row is replenished with a vast pool of incredibly poor people."
Meanwhile, William Bratton, who served as NYPD police commissioner in the 1990s before heading the LAPD, is back at the helm of the New York Police Department. While Bratton has earned credit for backing away from aggressive stop-and-frisk tactics, he seems to be bringing back policies in line with the broken-windows theory of policing. Bratton outlined his philosophy in the New York Times in March, saying, If you take care of the little things, then you can prevent a lot of the big things." The first few months of his tenure as NYPD police chief saw a rise in arrests of panhandlers and peddlers, as well as a jump in the policing of violations such as riding a bike on a sidewalk. Most recently he also announced a crackdown on graffiti.
interference in domestic affairs
Where police abuse people the most
FOOLS' GOAL: ZERO TOLERANCE: How infinite intolerance of some things -- but not others -- is damaging our land