Published on Jan 20, 2015
Radar devices allowing officers to detect movement through walls have been secretly used by at least 50 U.S. law enforcement agencies over the last two years.
Crowds of people showed up to demonstrate outside a Muslim event in Garland, Texas. Critics of the event accused organizers of trying to stifle freedom of speech, while supporters insisted that Islam is being misperceived in America.
Thousands of demonstrators gathered outside the Curtis Culwell Center, which is operated by Garland Independent School District, reports NBC DFW. The crowds started assembling hours before the conference began. The event was titled, “Stand With the Prophet Against Terror and Hate,” and was aimed at disproving negative perceptions of Islam and Muslims in the United States, according to organizers.
Probably, the crowd waving American flags and holding placards, some of them referring to resent terrorist attacks in Paris, France, are among those this message is aimed at.
“We are here to stand up for the American way of life from a faction of people who are trying to destroy it,” said one of the protesters, Greg McKinley from Fort Worth. “If they want to live their life like in the Middle East, they can go back to the Middle East.”
The protesters however see the agenda in a sinister way, believing that it is actually about silencing any criticism of Islam.
“This is a yet another manifestation of ‘Islamophobia’-phobia,” national security reporter Patrick Poole told the conservative website Washington Free Beacon. “The conference organizers invoke an ‘Islamophobia hate machine’ based in the U.S. that is responsible for defaming Muslims worldwide but the events of the past week and other recent attacks have done more to damage the image of Islam than any other factor.”
One particular irritant for the protesters was the inclusion of Siraj Wahhaj, imam of Al-Taqwa mosque in Brooklyn, New York, among the key speakers at the conference. Wahhaj is a controversial figure due to a link to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Opponents of the conference call him an “unindicted co-conspirator” of the attack, because he was one of some 170 people closely investigated for possible involvement but never charged with any crime. He was also a vocal critic of the FBI and CIA at the time, calling them “real terrorists” in the bombing plot.
Attenders of the conference in Texas deflected the accusations.
“They want for people to see that we are kind, peaceful people,” a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf told NBC DFW. “We’re not here to fight, we’re not here to argue. We’re just here to show that we’re Americans too.”
While several verbal clashes erupted between the two demonstrating camps, Saturday went peaceful and heavy police presence proved to be an unnecessary precaution.
Garland Independent School District distanced itself from the controversy, when opponents of the conference accused them of endorsing the event by providing the center. The authorities said they just rented the facility and neither promoting nor discouraging the event.
The tense if non-violent stand-off over Islam in Garland comes days after President Barack Obama urged European governments to do more to assimilate their Muslim minority populations.
“Our biggest advantage, major, is that our Muslim populations feel themselves to be Americans and there is this incredible process of immigration and assimilation that is part of our tradition,” he said.
“There are parts of Europe in which that’s not the case… it’s important for Europe not to simply respond with a hammer and law enforcement and military approaches to these problems.”
The comments came as Europeans are coping with the aftermath of terrorist attacks in Paris, where a group of Islamist gunmen went on a rampage killing 17 people, most of them during the initial massacre at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. The attacks prompted massive security response across Europe, resulting arrests in several countries and a reported thwarting of a jihadist attack on Belgian police officers.T
Citing danger to the US and its allies, Republican senators have proposed legislation that seeks a moratorium on the release of “medium- and high-risk detainees” held at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
In addition to imposing a two-year hold on the transfer of the majority of the 127 prisoners at the facility, the legislation would also bar the transfer of any detainees to Yemen for two years.
“It’s clear that we need a ‘time out’ so that we do not re-confront the terrorists that we had captured and are currently in Guantanamo,” US Sen. Kelly Ayotte, the bill’s sponsor, said at a Tuesday news conference.
“We shouldn’t just release them back out in this security setting that they could come back and attack us again,” Ayotte added, according to AFP.
The Guantanamo prison was first opened following the attacks of September 11, 2001, to house suspected jihadist militants with ties to Al-Qaeda. It eventually became an international symbol of human rights abuses.
In 2014, the Obama administration made progress in releasing low-level detainees, finding host nations for 28 prisoners — the highest number of transfers from the prison in one year since 2009. That year, President Obama first took office after vowing to close the facility, where many detainees who remain today have been kept for well over a decade without being charged or tried.
“I’m going to be doing everything I can to close” Guantanamo, President Obama told CNN in an interview aired on Dec. 21, echoing sentiments he has expressed often since taking office. Congress, he continues to insist, is to blame for the prison’s extended existence. Among other obstacles to shuttering the detention center, Congress has instituted a ban on detainee transfers to the US mainland.
“It will be very, very difficult for us to achieve that goal (closing the prison) before the president leaves office as long as Congress continues to block that path,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Tuesday, according to Reuters.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, a longtime supporter of the prison’s continued existence, said his committee would eventually take up the new bill, which, he said, will likely garner substantial support among Republicans in the GOP-led Senate.
“We know for a fact that roughly 30 percent of those who have been released have re-entered the fight,” McCain said during the news conference.
Reuters reported that an anonymous Obama administration official countered McCain’s 30-percent figure, saying the senator has combined “suspected” and “confirmed” cases of recidivism, which creates a “damaging misperception” about how many released Guantanamo detainees engage or reengage in militancy after release.
“Over 90 percent of the Guantanamo detainees transferred during this administration are neither confirmed nor even suspected of having reengaged in any terrorist or other hostile activity,” the official told Reuters.
He added that nearly half of those suspected of “re-engaging” are now either dead or in custody.The
The provision of the legislation that prohibits transfers to Yemen – where 81 Gitmo detainees are from, more than any other single group at the facility – was justified, the senators said, by last week’s attacks in Paris – most notably the assault on the offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. One of the two brothers who executed the attack had sought weapons training in Yemen in 2011, according to French authorities.
“The last thing we should be doing is transferring detainees from Guantanamo to a country like Yemen,” Ayotte said, according to Reuters.
Sen. Lindsey Graham said the France attacks show that some detainees should be held in jail the rest of their lives without a chance of release under supervision.
“The idea that you can release these people and watch them has a hole in it,” Graham said, AFP reported. “Monitoring has its limitations.”
The legislation also extends the ban on transferring released Guantanamo prisoners to the US for two years, and bars the construction of facilities to hold detainees in the United States.
Over the weekend, activists took to the property of former vice president Dick Cheney’s Virginia home to protest the 14th anniversary of the opening of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.
Total population control, not stopping terrorism, remains primary objective of national security state
by MIKAEL THALEN | INFOWARS.COM
Global dragnet surveillance by the world’s most powerful intelligence agencies did nothing to stop three Al Qaeda-linked gunmen from shooting 12 people dead at the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Despite this, former CIA and NSA head Michael Hayden wasted no time in pointing fingers Wednesday, telling supporters of the U.S. Constitution to be “sensitive” in their calls for government transparency and accountability.
“Privacy advocates now need to be sensitive that governments that lack power to defend us end up costing us our liberties in addition to our securities,” Hayden told Newsmax TV.
Hayden’s comment hints at the false claim that the NSA is “going dark,” when in reality the agency continues to grow at an exponential rate.
Other proponents of unwarranted surveillance latched onto the opportunity as well in an attempt to dismiss the need for intelligence oversight.
“I fear our intelligence capabilities, those designed to prevent such an attack from taking place on our shores, are quickly eroding,” Republic Senator Lindsey Graham said. “I believe our national security infrastructure designed to prevent these types of attacks from occurring is under siege.”
Senator John McCain made similar claims, arguing that the agency needed increased funding to protect the American public.
“I know that the NSA has been thwarted in their capabilities because of sequestration,” McCain said. “They have not been able to do many of the things they have wanted to do because of the impact of sequestration.”
According to multiple NSA whistleblowers, ubiquitous surveillance in fact does the complete opposite, diminishing the ability of intelligence agencies to properly focus in on actual terrorism suspects.
Edward Snowden openly discussed this very issue during an interview with NBC last May, although his comments were conveniently archived online and excluded from the prime time airing.
‘If we’re missing things like the Boston Marathon bombings where all of these mass-surveillance systems, every domestic dragnet in the world, didn’t reveal guys that the Russian intelligence service told us about by name, is that really the best way to protect our country or are we trying to throw money at a magic solution that’s actually not just costing us our safety, but our rights and our way of life?” Snowden said.
The NSA was also one of countless government agencies that ignored literal mountains of information regarding the 9/11 attacks.
Thomas Drake, former NSA senior executive turned whistleblower, has repeatedly commented on NSA intelligence that would have “undoubtedly” stopped the 9/11 attacks.
“The NSA had critical intelligence about Al Qaeda and associated movements in particular that had never been properly shared outside of NSA,” Drake said. “They simply did not share critical intelligence although they had it.”
While broad surveillance clearly hinders accurate pinpointing of legitimate threats, the main issue lies in the fact that the NSA is not actually focused on terrorism, but instead on innocent Americans and economic espionage.
Former NSA technical director William Binney, who blew the whistle on illegal domestic surveillance after more than 36 years at the agency, has long warned of NSA’s actual intentions.
“It’s being used to set up the way and means to control the population,” Binney said during a December interview on the Alex Jones Show. “I’ve been referring to it as the new Stasi agency because that’s exactly what the Stasi did, they had files on everyone…”
Ignoring the fact that unchecked government is historically the greatest danger to human life, a total surveillance society would never be able to stop all crime regardless, but would instead destroy liberty itself.
In this video, President Obama explains that the purpose of FEMA camps is so that the government can institute the “prolonged detention” of American people.
The Obama Administration is using our tax dollars to prepare for the institution of this “indefinite detention without trial.”
Even MSNBC admitted that this information is “particularly stunning.”
Feds’ position on decoy cell-site towers continues anti-privacy theme.
by David Kravets – Jan 5 2015, 1:25pm CST
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is taking the position that court warrants are not required when deploying cell-site simulators in public places. Nicknamed “stingrays,” the devices are decoy cell towers that capture locations and identities of mobile phone users and can intercept calls and texts.
The FBI made its position known during private briefings with staff members of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). In response, the two lawmakers wrote Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson, maintaining they were “concerned about whether the FBI and other law enforcement agencies have adequately considered the privacy interests” of Americans.
According to the letter, which was released last week:
For example, we understand that the FBI’s new policy requires FBI agents to obtain a search warrant whenever a cell-site simulator is used as part of a FBI investigation or operation, unless one of several exceptions apply, including (among others): (1) cases that pose an imminent danger to public safety, (2) cases that involve a fugitive, or (3) cases in which the technology is used in public places or other locations at which the FBI deems there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.
The letter was prompted in part by a Wall Street Journal report in November that said the Justice Department was deploying small airplanes equipped with cell-site simulators that enabled “investigators to scoop data from tens of thousands of cellphones in a single flight, collecting their identifying information and general location.”
The bureau’s position on Americans’ privacy isn’t surprising. The Obama Administration has repeatedly maintained that the public has no privacy in public places. It began making that argument as early as 2010, when it told a federal appeals court that the authorities should be allowed to affix GPS devices on vehicles and track a suspect’s every move without court authorization. The Supreme Court, however, eventually ruled that warrants are required. What’s more, the administration has argued that placing a webcam with pan-and-zoom capabilities on a utility pole to spy on a suspect at his or her residence was no different from a police officer’s observation from the public right-of-way. A federal judge last month disagreed with the government’s position, tossing evidence gathered by the webcam that was operated from afar.
In their letter, Leahy and Grassley complained that little is known about how stingrays, also known as ISMI catchers, are used by law enforcement agencies. The Harris Corp., a maker of the devices from Florida, includes non-disclosure clauses with buyers. Baltimore authorities cited a non-disclosure agreement to a judge in November as their grounds for refusing to say how they tracked a suspect’s mobile phone. They eventually dropped charges rather than disclose their techniques. Further, sometimes the authorities simply lie to judges about their use or undertake other underhanded methods to prevent the public from knowing that the cell-site simulators are being used.
“The Judiciary Committee needs a broader understanding of the full range of law enforcement agencies that use this technology, the policies in place to protect the privacy interests of those whose information might be collected using these devices, and the legal process that DOJ and DHS entities seek prior to using them,” Leahy and Grassley wrote in their letter to Holder and Johnson.
Hanni Fakhoury, an attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said some states and judges are pushing back against stingrays.
“In Tacoma, judges now require police (to) specifically note they plan to use an IMSI catcher and promise not to store data collected from people who are not investigation targets,” he said. “The Florida and Massachusetts state supreme courts ruled warrants were necessary for real-time cell phone tracking. Nine states—Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin—passed laws specifically requiring police to use a warrant to track a cell phone in real time.”