Entries Tagged 'Federal Law Enforcement' ↓
July 5th, 2012 — Berkeley PD, Federal Law Enforcement, Militarization, Mutual Aid, Police State, UC Police
Solid investigative work and public pressure kept this phase of police militarization at bay! University of California Berkeley has decided it doesn’t need a Lenco Bearcat on campus afterall, and Albany and Berkeley also agree this is not needed in their communities.
Keep up the fight to keep our streets safe! For the full story see the Albany Patch:
March 14th, 2012 — Federal Law Enforcement, Mutual Aid, Police State, Racism, Rights, San Francisco PD, Surveillance
Coalition for a Safe San Francisco
For Immediate Release: San Francisco, March 13, 2012
Ordinance to Prevent SFPD-FBI Abuse Passes Board of Supervisors with 6 Votes!
Community disappointed by “No” votes from Progressive Supervisors Cohen and Wiener, and look to Mayor Lee for future support
(SAN FRANCISCO, CA – 03/13/12) Earlier today, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to pass an Ordinance introduced by Supervisor Jane Kim titled the Safe San Francisco Civil Rights Ordinance. The Ordinance seeks to codify pre-existing San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) protocol and Department General Orders (DGO) with respect to the SFPD’s collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The current agreement with the FBI was signed secretly in 2007 without public, Board, or Police Commission knowledge. At present, DGOs and San Francisco values regarding transparency, accountability, and civil rights compliance are not mandated, but may be followed simply at the will of the Officers participating in the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).
This has been of great concern to City residents who are requesting through this Ordinance that these laws and values be immediately codified so that the City is certain to protect against further harassment and profiling. In particular those from marginalized and targeted communities such as the Arab, Muslim, South Asian, Queer, African American, Chinese, and other immigrant communities are concerned.
An Arab community member who was profiled by SFPD and asked to be kept unnamed for fear of further harassment against him and his family spoke out saying “I am in constant fear for my privacy and security. It is our hope that this ordinance will protect all of us.”
Though the Ordinance passed today on first vote, with six Supervisors speaking out strongly in support of the Ordinance, community members were disappointed by the lack of support from the other Supervisors, particularly Wiener, Cohen, and Chu who represent communities that are often victims of FBI or law enforcement harassment.
Supervisor Wiener dissented with the Ordinance, stating “I am 100% supportive of having those local standards that reflect San Francisco values… the question for me is whether this needs to be legislated… and I don’t think it does.” Although this Ordinance would merely codify the local standards Supervisor Wiener supports, Wiener exercised his “no” vote in front of dozens of disappointed community members showing that for him their concerns do not warrant this legislation. Despite hours of prior community testimony where members of LGBTQ, African American, and Japanese communities also supported this Ordinance, Supervisor Wiener dismissed comparisons between law enforcement profiling of LGBTQ and Japanese communities and the current actions of the FBI against Arab, Muslim, and South Asian communities. Other Supervisors voting “no” declined to comment publicly during the vote.
Board President David Chiu disagreed with Wiener’s sentiments and defended the Ordinance, “It wasn’t too long ago that Chinese Americans were detained and interrogated… it wasn’t very long ago that African Americans had their phones tapped, and that LGBTQ individuals in San Francisco were dragged from bars and harassed. Every meeting we start with the Pledge of Allegiance… we have to do our part to make sure we stand for a city with ‘liberty and justice for all’.”
Supervisor Jane Kim thanked the community members and organizations that brought this forward, and responded to the lone concerns voiced by Supervisor Wiener, stating “This ordinance does not make our City less safe, in fact I would argue that it makes our city more safe by codifying the civil rights protections we already hold sacred in San Francisco… If we really believe in these values then they deserve to be codified into law.”
Community members and representatives of the over 70 endorsing organizations see today’s vote as a step in the right direction. “Today is a victory in the initial passage of a law that would help to protect all communities from racial profiling. Now we call on the rest of the Supervisors and the Mayor to stand on the side of justice – support this Ordinance and take a proactive stand for civil rights,” said Nour Chammas of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center.
About the Coalition: The Coalition for a Safe San Francisco is a growing grassroots alliance dedicated to protecting the civil rights and civil liberties challenged by overbroad national security policies. These policies have historically impacted communities of struggle and today are disproportionately targeting South Asian, Arab, and Muslim Americans. For additional information, visit www.safesf.org.
Contact: Lily Haskell, Arab Resource and Organizing Center, 415.861.7444; Nasrina Bargzie, Asian Law Caucus, 415.896.1701; Zahra Billoo, Council on American Islamic Relations –SF Bay Area, 626.252.0885; Nadia Kayyali, National Lawyers Guild SF Bay Area, 510.207.1040
For more information on the work of the Coalition, see
March 5th, 2012 — Federal Law Enforcement, Police State
On February 27, 2012, H.R. 347 passed by an overwhelming 388 to 3 vote in the House. According to this bill, it will be a federal offense for protesters to attempt to enter a government building, or disrupt a government function, if Secret Service is present–whether the protestor is aware that Secret Service is present or not. So it is a law that is not bound to a specific territory, but encircles Secret Service, and anyone protesting who bumps up against this invisible circle commits a federal offense. This is occurring at the same time as the G8 Summit is being moved from Chicago to Camp David in Maryland. See more on the anti-trespassing bill at:
and for news on the G8 relocation:
February 12th, 2012 — Federal Law Enforcement, Militarization
Jamboree serves as recruiting tool for military, which will set up displays and equipment during event.
11 Feb 2012
Another milestone in preparations for the 2013 National Scout Jamboree is now crossed. On Friday, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed an executive order that designates the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management as the principal coordinator for federal, state and local agencies providing support for the Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve before and during the Jamboree. Representatives from the National Guard, Boy Scouts of America, and local government gathered at the Glen Jean Armory for the signing of the order.
“We’re here today to see to it that the Scouts enjoy the Summit in a safe and secure manner, just as we here in West Virginia would provide for our own families and friends,” Tomblin told representatives from the National Guard, Boy Scouts of America, and local government who gathered at the Glen Jean Armory for the signing of the order.
Tomblin said the “insta-city” created by the Jamboree will put unique demands on local communities. Among other things, he hopes this measure will provide help to local agencies in the lead-up and execution of the event.
Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Jimmy Gianato will serve as the governor’s point person on Summit-related endeavors involving the state. Gianato said a joint inter-agency task force of key federal, state and local agencies will support the “monumental” 2013 event.
He said the task force is working on building communications infrastructure, increasing capacity for cell coverage, and working with hospitals to ensure they are prepared for a major event.
“We’ll try to plan for every contingency, and hope for the best,” he told The Register-Herald.
The executive order also said that the state Homeland Security division, within 60 days, will provide a “financial impact statement outlining the needs that … agencies will have in order to provide the proper support for a successful event.”
The upcoming Jamboree will be the first in many years not held on an active military base. An estimated 50,000 scouts will attend the Jamboree, along with their families and other visitors. Some locals are describing the event as “Bridge Day for 14 days in a row.”
Tomblin said he expects several thousand National Guard from West Virginia and across the country on the ground during the Jamboree “in case of an attack … or health crisis.”
Gianato also said the Jamboree serves as a recruiting tool for the military, which will set up displays and equipment during the event.
BSA Assistant Chief Scout Executive Alf Tuggle told those gathered that the BSA could ask for “no better ally” than the state of West Virginia.
“I feel safer already,” Tuggle said. “This coordination will provide for the safety … of our guests and participants while ensuring efficient use of state and local resources.”
Mount Hope Police Chief Thomas Peal said he recently visited Fort AP Hill, Virginia, to talk to local law enforcement about their experience during past Jamborees. Among other things, he said he learned that he will need to attend to the many vendors who will show up for the Jamboree selling souvenirs and other items.
Fayette County Commission President Matthew Wender said he remembers sitting in the same room over two years ago as the Summit project was launched and thinking that 2013 seemed very far off indeed.
“What seemed an eternity away then is now right on our doorstep,” he said.
October 25th, 2011 — Federal Law Enforcement, Racism, Rights
The ACLU uncovers an FBI program that pairs Census data with “crude stereotypes” to map ethnic communities.
October 24, 2011 / This story originally appeared at Salon.
New documents obtained by the ACLU show that the FBI has for years been using Census data to “map” ethnic and religious groups suspected of being likely to commit certain types of crimes.
Much is still not known about the apparent large-scale effort in racial profiling, partly because the documents the ACLU obtained through public records requests are heavily redacted.
The FBI maintains that the mapping program is designed to “better understand the communities that are potential victims of the threats,” but the ACLU says it is plainly unconstitutional.
To learn more about the FBI program, its implications for civil liberties and the questions that remain unanswered, I spoke to Michael German, policy counsel at the ACLU’s Washington office and a former FBI agent.
What is the new information that has come to light here?
In 2008, the FBI’s guidelines were changed to create a new category of investigations called assessments, which required no factual predicate. The FBI’s policy in implementing those changes were released around 2010 and showed the FBI was engaged in a program called “domain management,” which included mapping and gathering intelligence on racial and ethnic communities. We were concerned about the program, so we filed a series of Freedom of Information Act requests across the country and we now have documents that indicate what the FBI has been doing with this new authority. Clearly they have been engaging in crass racial stereotyping of minority groups are linked to certain types of crime, and then using Census information to map entire communities based on their race or ethnicity.
When you say “map,” what does that actually look like in practice?
It’s hard for us to know because all the maps were heavily redacted. It’s clear they are maps. They are using Census data in order to identify anybody who identifies with a certain race or ethnicity. In the Detroit memo, it’s based on adherence to Muslim faith or Middle Eastern origin. The purpose of the program is to identify these communities where the FBI can then conduct intelligence or law enforcement investigations.
So what sort of crimes have they linked to various racial groups?
There was a San Francisco memo that suggested because there was Chinese organized crime, there should be a domain management collection program to identify the entire Chinese community in the San Francisco area. That memo also included an effort to target the Russian-American community. There was an Atlanta FBI memo that purported to analyze the black separatist threat. It documented the population growth of blacks in Georgia as part of the assessment. It also identified a couple of actual organizations, but in the information, what is reported is their First Amendment activities: their appearances at different protests and at a congressional campaign event.
Is the ACLU arguing here that this program is unconstitutional?
Yes, we feel it is unconstitutional — and in many cases actually violates the Department of Justice guidance regarding the use of race in federal law enforcement. That guidance purports to ban racial profiling in ordinary law enforcement investigations. The problem is, it has a huge loophole for national security and border integrity investigations. What’s clear from these new documents is that the loophole has swallowed the rule because they are using this program to target communities based on their race in the context of normal criminal activity.
What part of the Constitution does this violate in the ACLU’s view?
It violates the First, Fourth and 14th amendments. This program is entirely targeting communities of people for investigation based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion, denying them equal protection under the law — and also targeting people because of their First Amendment-protected activities. They are then conducting broad suspicionless investigations called assessments, and collecting information in which there are Fourth Amendment concerns that it is unreasonable to conduct such invasive investigations.
One of the documents we released this week is an FBI memo to the field where they discuss what type of information they want collected during assessments. That document shows this isn’t a minimally invasive investigation. It collects a tremendous amount of material so the FBI can build dossiers against people with no reason to believe that they as individuals were involved in any kind of wrongdoing. It also authorizes what it calls a “disruption strategy,” in which, after all the information is collected and the threat is otherwise resolved, the FBI can continue doing other things like performing interviews, arrests and source-directed operations. Back in the Hoover era, the FBI’s COINTELPRO included a disruption strategy that was later found to be aimed at obstructing First Amendment-protected activity. So we have serious concerns about what this new disruption strategy might be doing and who is overseeing it.
When it comes to that Detroit memo about Muslims and terrorism, how do you respond to people who look at this and think, “This is what the FBI should be doing”?
This is racial and religious profiling on an industrial scale. Rather than just stopping an individual based on race, the FBI is identifying an entire community based on race and subjecting them to more intense scrutiny. There are many problems that exist with racial profiling: first that it’s unlawful, but also that it’s ineffective as a methodology because every dollar and every hour of an agent’s time that is spent investigating innocent people is completely wasted. It is also really a dangerous practice because all law enforcement depends on public support to be successful. If they’re alienating entire communities based on race or religion, that is going to be an entirely counter-productive methodology.
September 18th, 2011 — Federal Law Enforcement, Police Departments, Police State, Rights
Thursday 8 September 2011
by: Nancy Murray and Kade Crockford, Truthout and ACLU Massachusetts | Special Feature
Ten Years Later: Surveillance in the “Homeland” is a collaborative project with Truthout and ACLU Massachusetts.
Surveillance now is everyone’s business, as the line between intelligence-gathering and crimefighting rapidly fades and the public is conditioned to play its part.
The work of Deputy Police Chief Michael Downing of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) exemplifies the new surveillance paradigm. The head of the 750-strong counterterrorism force within the LAPD, he is on the hunt for “people who follow al-Qaeda’s goals and objectives and mission and ideology.” He says his officers collect intelligence and practice the “essence of community policing” by reaching out to Muslims and asking them to “weed out” the “hard- core radicals.”
He adds that he is pleased that many Muslims have adopted the LAPD’s iWatch program and are prepared, along with the general public, to call in tips about suspicious activity. With “violent Islamists” as his main target, Chief Downing is also keeping track of “black separatists, white supremacist/sovereign citizen extremists and animal rights terrorists.” If threats materialize, he can draw upon the LAPD’s “amazing” backup capacity – SWAT units, direct-action teams, air support, counterassault teams and squads that specialize in disrupting vehicle bombs.
Here we see several of the components of the new surveillance society. A militarized police force no longer leaves intelligence work to federal authorities. It seeks out information about anything that can be connected to “suspicious” activity and is keeping track of certain individuals and groups whether or not there is evidence that they are engaging in criminal activity. Police are expected to chase down unsubstantiated tips from the public, and not just to pursue evidence of wrongdoing. A new notion of “community policing” has emerged, where monitoring communities – with all the trust issues that this implies – has taken the place of winning community support by being accountable to residents and solving crimes.
The LAPD is one of some 3,984 federal, state and local agencies now collecting information about “suspicious activity” that could be related to terrorism. The Washington Post’s “Top Secret America” series states that 854,000 people now hold “top-secret” security clearance. We estimate that’s about one for every 215 working-age Americans. An additional 3 million people reportedly hold “secret” security clearance.
The federal government spends more annually on civilian and military intelligence than the rest of the world put together – $80 billion is a conservative figure, according to the October 28, 2010, Post. This is in addition to the $42-plus billion allocated to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the spending on intelligence activities by the LAPD and other state and local police forces. The homeland security industry is flourishing, with lucrative contracts being awarded to Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and other major defense contractors.
What exactly is being built with these funds?
The “Information Sharing Environment”
Essentially, the “total information awareness” assumption that the nation can be made safe by applying advanced technology to massive databases has been married to the call for a “unity of effort in sharing information” issued by thebipartisan 9/11 National Commission. The commissioners had recommended a fundamental change in how the nation’s 16 intelligence agencies carried out their business. They urged that the “need to know” culture be replaced with a “need to share” imperative, with information being transmitted horizontally among agencies, not just vertically within agencies. They further recommended that the FBI be equipped to assume prime responsibility for domestic intelligence-gathering, that it incorporate a “specialized and integrated national security workforce,” and that it form collaborative relationships with state and local police for this purpose.
To construct a new domestic surveillance network, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004mandated the creation of an Information Sharing Environment (ISE) under the director of national intelligence. Defined as “an interrelated set of policies, processes and systems,” ISE was intended to facilitate the sharing of terrorism-related information with stakeholders at all levels of government and the private sector. Eventually, foreign governments are supposed to be brought into the ISE loop. The ISE requires the standardization of information systems and technology to provide access to the burgeoning number of databases that serve as its connective tissue, the enlistment of mission partners across federal, state, local, and tribal agencies and the private sector to keep the databases supplied with the information that is its lifeblood, and the use of “analysts, operators and investigators” from “law enforcement, public safety, homeland security, intelligence, defense and foreign affairs” to extract, analyze and disseminate timely intelligence.
Fusion Centers and Suspicious Activity Reports
The nerve centers of the ISE are the nation’s 72 regional and state fusion centers, which were in part a response to the FBI’s reluctance to share threat information with state and local law enforcement because of turf and security clearance issues. With considerable variation in what they do and how they do it, fusion centers were established over the past seven years with DHS funding to “fuse” and analyze information from a wide variety of sources and databases and facilitate information-sharing among themselves through the FBI’s eGuardian database. The secretive fusion centers represent a significant departure from traditional law enforcement objectives and methods, with few legal limits on what they can and cannot do, little respect for long-established jurisdictional boundaries between local, state, federal, military and private entities and a notable absence of accountability mechanisms. Given the scarcity of domestic terrorism plots, it is not surprising that most fusion centers almost immediately changed the focus of their data collection from fighting terrorism to a broad “all crimes, all hazards” mission. Many now use federal counterterrorism funds to collect, store and share data that has little or no relation to terrorism and, often, no relation to actual crimes.
According to DHS head Janet Napolitano, along with fusion centers, the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative serves as the “heart” of the government’s effort to keep Americans safe from “homegrown terrorism.” The idea behind the initiative is to collect as much data about anything “suspicious” that just may (or may not) be related to criminal activity. Or, to quote the government’s own alarmingly broad definition: a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) is “official documentation of observed behavior that may be indicative of intelligence gathering, or preoperational planning related to terrorism, criminal, or other illicit intention.”
SARS programs, piloted by the LAPD, Boston and a handful of other cities, vary from place to place and are often in competition with one another for federal dollars. Today some 800,000 state and local law enforcement officers are encouraged to file SARs on even the most common everyday behaviors, such as looking through binoculars, taking pictures of buildings, taking notes in public and espousing “radical” beliefs.
The ISE program manager recommended that SARs are reviewed within the police department before being sent to a fusion center for further review by an intelligence analyst. If it “meets SAR criteria,” it is then entered into the ISE for wide distribution and “fusion with other intelligence information.” But a January 2010 evaluation of the ISE and National SAR Reporting Initiative has shown little uniformity in how SARs are being collected, vetted and shared, and how much personably identifiable information is being aggregated and disseminated through the fusion center network and sent to the FBI’s eGUardian system, which is now serving as “an ISE/SAR shared space.” In an effort to address criticisms voiced by civil liberties groups, ISE adopted a policy requiring that only behavior indicating some kind of connection to criminal activity or terrorism should be shared among federal intelligence agencies. But this civil rights protection does not apply to sharing by state and regional fusion centers.
A New Policing Paradigm
In addition to writing up SARS, police departments, often working directly with the FBI through its multi-agency Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs), sift “tips and leads” provided in field reports, through public tip lines, by private entities, by confidential and anonymous sources, or culled from media sources. Time that used to be spent investigating reasonable suspicion of criminal activity is now allocated to assessing randomly collected information to decide whether it is credible enough to be deposited in the Information Sharing Environment (ISE) and sent to the FBI’s eGuardian database for preliminary analysis before being sent to fusion centers for further analysis and wide distribution.
When local police work with the FBI in JTTFs, they become federal officers who are no longer under the supervision of and accountable to their local departments and communities, and instead must act in conformity with the FBI’s guidelines on domestic investigations – regulations that are now so loose that they allow agents to conduct “assessments” involving monitoring of meetings and people, infiltration of groups, and personal interviews with no suspicion of wrongdoing – some 11,667 assessments were conducted just in the four-month period beginning in December 2009, with only a fraction leading to full investigations. And when local police participate with fusion centers in information collection and the building of personal files about activities that can be wholly innocent and may be constitutionally protected, they are integrated into a domestic surveillance network that is national in scope, beyond accountability, and far removed from community policing and public trust.
In the process, the line between traditional crimefighting and terrorism detection has been erased and something new has been born: a concept of policing that is no longer primarily reactive and focused on solving crimes or on collecting concrete evidence that a crime might be about to be committed. In “predictive policing,” local police officers serve as a resource for gathering information on a range of potential threats and situations on the assumption that criminal activity can be stopped before it develops. They are trained to use advanced technologies and tools, including powerful surveillance cameras provided through DHS grants, to monitor broad sections of the population, looking for indicators of future crimes before they are committed.
When the net is cast so wide, everything and anything begins to look like “terrorism-related activity,” forcing police officers to waste time checking out dead-end tips. It is not surprising that leaks from fusion centers have revealed that files compiled on individuals and groups are full of inaccurate information and focus on activities that may be both entirely innocent and constitutionally protected.
Constitutional lawyer Bruce Fein, a former associate deputy attorney general in the Reagan administration, told Congress in 2009 that fusion centers and SARs were worthy of the Soviet Union’s KGB and East Germany’s Stasi, and should be abandoned: “To an intelligence agent, informant, or law enforcement officer, everything unconventional or unorthodox looks like at least a pre-embryonic terrorist danger.”
May 18th, 2011 — Federal Law Enforcement, Police State, Racism, Rights, San Francisco PD
In a Sanctuary City, we can’t let our police act like FBI agents.
Let’s make sure they play by the rules!
A Joint San Francisco Police Commission & Human Rights Commission Public Hearing
Wednesday May 18, 2011
San Francisco City Hall
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA
Board of Supervisors Chambers
Community testimony at a past Human Rights Commission hearing helped document that Arab, Muslim and South Asian community members are facing consistent interrogation, surveillance, harassment, and infiltration by federal law enforcement personnel (including FBI, CBP, and ICE).
Now, SF Police & FBI are forced to respond to concerns of Profiling & Surveillance of Muslim, Arab, Middle Eastern and South Asian Communities
HOW TO HELP: Please come to the hearingto show your support for Civil and Human Rights!
We are looking for community members to testify about their experience of being profiled or spied upon because of their race, religion, political activity or national origin. We are also looking for experts or attorneys and legal workers with clients who have experienced any of the following:
(contact info below for more information)
EVEN IF YOU DON’T PLAN TO TESTIFY, HELP US BY PACKING THE HEARING ROOM!
About the Hearing
This hearing will primarily be a forum for law enforcement officials to reply to community concerns and answer commissioner questions. However, there will then be a public comment portion where individuals will be allotted 2 minutes to testify. If you would like to comment, please let us know by contacting:
Summer Hararah | ASIAN LAW CAUCUS
May 18th, 2011 — Federal Law Enforcement, Police State, Rights
May 18, 2011 Statement from the Committee to Stop FBI Repression:
In the documents, the “Operations order” for FBI SWAT for “Operation Principal Parts” the raid on the Kelly/Gawboy home has the word “DANGEROUS” in underlined bold type at the top of the page. FBI agents were told to bring assault rifles, machine guns and two extra clips of ammunition for each of their side arms. Two paramedics were to stand by in the event of causalities. Other documents include photos of Kelly and Gawboy, as well as pictures of stairs leading to their front door and the front door itself.
Full story and download of FBI documents here:
May 4th, 2011 — Federal Law Enforcement, Police State, Public Records Act, Rights, San Francisco PD
A secret memo indicates that SF cops may be working as FBI spies — with no local oversight
by Sarah Phelan, San Francisco Bay Guardian, April 26, 2011
Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) and Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF) have the power to override San Francisco Police Commission policy and local laws.
“…it effectively puts local officers under the control of the FBI. “That means Police Commission policies do not apply,” Crew said. “It allows San Francisco police to circumvent local intelligence-gathering policies and follow more permissive federal rules.”
“The MOU is disturbing,” Police Commission member Petra DeJesus told the Guardian. “The department is assuring us that local policies are not being violated — but it looks as if it’s subject to interpretation.”
For the full article:
April 29th, 2011 — Federal Law Enforcement, Gang injunctions, Police State, Prison Industrial Complex, Racism, Rights
Ali Winston for The Informant
April 26, 2011:
“The gang injunction strategy pursued by Oakland City Attorney John Russo appears to be part of a federal effort to promote the use of gang injunctions across the country. A joint training program run by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), a branch of the United States Department of Justice, and the National District Attorneys Association promotes the usage of civil nuisance lawsuits such as the actions pursued by Russo in North Oakland and Fruitvale.”
And, check out all the great documents included for your own research and thinking: