From the L.A. Times
FBI documents reveal profiling of N. California Muslims
Reports obtained by the ACLU show agents gathered intelligence under the guise of outreach programs and shared it with other agencies. A legal expert calls the practice 'outrageous.'
by Maria L. La Ganga
SAN FRANCISCO —Federal agents routinely profiled Muslims in Northern California for at least four years, using community outreach efforts as a guise for compiling intelligence on local mosques, according to documents released Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union.
From 2004 to 2008, agents from the San Francisco office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation regularly attended meetings and services, particularly in the Silicon Valley area, "collected and illegally stored intelligence about American Muslims' First Amendment-protected beliefs and religious practices … and … disseminated it to other government agencies," the ACLU said in a written statement.
The ACLU of Northern California, the Asian Law Caucus and the San Francisco Bay Guardian filed a Freedom of Information Act request in 2010 and a lawsuit in 2011 after the groups received repeated complaints from the Muslim community about intrusive FBI activity, ACLU attorney Julia Harumi Mass said.
"The FBI's targeting of Muslim Americans for intelligence gathering was not connected to any evidence of criminality, but instead targeted an entire group based on religion," Mass said in an interview. The pattern of surveillance shown in the documents "is an affront to religious liberty and equal protection of the law."
The activities came after the U.S. attorney general's guidelines governing investigations known as "assessments" were loosened in 2008. Assessments can be undertaken without evidence of actual wrongdoing.
In a brief written statement, FBI Assistant Director Michael Kortan defended the agents' activities, but said that the agency has adjusted its community outreach efforts.
The 2004-2008 documents released by the ACLU "reflect that information was collected within the scope of an authorized law enforcement activity," Kortan said. However, "since that time, the FBI has formalized its community relations program to emphasize a greater distinction between outreach and operational activities."
Professor Fred H. Cate, who specializes in information, privacy and security law at Indiana University Maurer School of Law, called the FBI's actions "outrageous."
It's one thing to visit a mosque and get wind of a credible threat, Cate said, and "anyone would expect them to follow up."
But that's a far cry from: " 'We were at a mosque and saw people worshiping in a different way than we do so we take their name down.' If my name is being shared with another law enforcement agency solely because of my religious practice, it's hard to say that that's not both outrageous and unconstitutional."
Many of the FBI documents released Tuesday by the ACLU are titled "Mosques Liaison Contacts." In their original form, they contained names and phone numbers of Muslim Americans affiliated with centers of worship from San Francisco to Seaside, Calif. Those names have been redacted.
Many of them, such as a list of 20 mosques that includes addresses, phone numbers and representatives' names, are marked "positive intelligence" and contain the note, "disseminated outside FBI."
The documents show that FBI agents visited the Monterey Mosque in coastal Seaside on five occasions. Marked "secret," they describe the mosque's purchase of a new building, and include the frustration that members have felt "with delays during airline travel."
One document describes a sermon at the Seaside house of worship: "the evils associated with the practice of earning interest on money." An informal chat between the agents and mosque members covered "a wide range of subjects…from coffee to terrorism," said the report, which was marked: "POSITIVE INTELLIGENCE (DISSEMINATED OUTSIDE FBI) LIAISON WITH OTHER AGENCY."
Isa Eric Shaw is on the executive committee of the Muslim Community Assn. of the San Francisco Bay Area, a Santa Clara community center that includes a mosque and the Grenada Islamic School. Shaw said the organization actively invites law enforcement officials, including the FBI, to meet with his group.
"We try to work as closely as we can with law enforcement to safeguard our families, communities and nation," said Shaw, who is a management consultant and lives in Santa Clara.
Shaw's center was mentioned in several of the documents released Tuesday, he said, including one memo that concerned a 2005 FBI visit and described the school and its layout.
The agents' visits "were under the guise of so-called outreach activities," Shaw said, but "they were collecting intelligence information and including it in investigative files. More worrisome, one of the files had an international terrorism case number on it. The files were further disseminated outside the FBI to other unknown law enforcement agencies."
Shaw said that he would understand it if the FBI came in "investigating some known actor" suspected of criminal activity, "but this was them coming in randomly profiling people."
"We, like others, assume that we can go to our churches, synagogues and mosques and express our religious beliefs without the FBI collecting intelligence on us," he said. "We feel betrayed."
In California, justice for juveniles
Reform is needed, but it's too soon to do away with California's Division of Juvenile Justice.
March 27, 2012
Lawmakers created the California Youth Authority in 1941, making in the process a bold statement of purpose and conviction: Juvenile delinquents are redeemable. They should no longer be imprisoned with adults but instead given a chance at basic education and job training. Rehabilitation, not punishment, is the proper goal of an enlightened and effective juvenile justice system.
But by the late 1990s the California Youth Authority had become a network of grim and violent youth prisons that were so abusive and so destructive to their mission that all but a few were shut down. A majority of the 10,000 state wards returned to probation departments in their home counties; just over 1,000 remain in what is now the state prison system's Division of Juvenile Justice.
Gov. Jerry Brown wants to take one final step by eliminating the division and getting the state out of the juvenile justice business altogether. Brown no doubt likes the fact that the move would wipe millions of dollars from the state's books. Some youth advocates like the notion of forever closing the doors of what had become nightmarish institutions with no pretense of rehabilitation. County officials are divided, but many like the prospect of getting a chunk of the funding that would accompany the remaining state wards as they are returned to local probation camps.
They all have valid points — and they are all wrong. Just as we continue to need state prisons for violent and serious adult felons, California needs a Division of Juvenile Justice — smaller, to be sure, and more enlightened and more effective — to house, supervise and treat a reduced population of violent young offenders. There are only two other alternatives, and neither is acceptable: The state must not send its dangerous and damaged minors to probation departments that are not yet equipped to handle the most difficult cases; nor should it abandon them, along with any chance for their rehabilitation, to the adult penal system.
Let's be clear: Dismantling the California Youth Authority was the right move. So were the follow-up components of the state-to-county process known as juvenile justice "realignment." And the changes are working: Juvenile crime numbers continue to fall. The state must do a better job of tracking former probationers into adulthood to see whether they are staying out of trouble, but the anecdotal data are encouraging.
It's smart and effective, it turns out, to keep young offenders in their home communities, close to local rehabilitative programming and mentors but with probation-officer monitoring to help them resist the lure of bad influences; or, when more direct supervision is needed, in local probation camps within visiting distance of family. More rigorous data tracking from across the nation shows, not surprisingly, that wards who committed lower-level crimes do best when kept apart from more violent offenders. The two populations respond best to different kinds of supervision and living conditions.
But most smaller and mid-size counties don't even have so-called ranches where more violent offenders are supervised and treated; minors who otherwise would go to the three remaining state facilities would be crammed into juvenile halls, which were designed merely to hold youngsters awaiting hearings. Probation departments are just now turning a very important corner, recognizing the benefits and seeing the good results of a treatment-oriented model for lower and mid-level offenders. The state shouldn't undermine the departments' progress by forcing them to also absorb the worst cases — at least not right away.
Besides, the Division of Juvenile Justice, while hardly perfect, is no longer the California Youth Authority of 15 years ago. There are now education and rehabilitative services. There is mental-health care and drug treatment. Monitored by courts and criminal justice advocates, wards are no longer beaten or sexually abused as in the recent past.
Most county probation departments, by contrast, are still flying under the radar. True, Los Angeles County's department has been subject to federal monitoring for years and is trying to fend off aU.S. Department of Justicelawsuit or consent decree. But for other counties, there is insufficient inspection of facilities or scrutiny of programs — much like the California Youth Authority before the lawsuits that began in the 1990s.
The other, and even worse, alternative is for prosecutors to file against more young offenders as adults, seeking adult sentences and sending them to adult prisons (convicted felons under 18 are housed separately until they become legal adults).
That practice, known as "direct filing," was made possible by one of those tough-on-crime ballot measures that crowded California prisons, recycled addicted and mentally ill inmates in and out of incarceration and landed the state with a federal court order to reduce the prison population. There would be little point in now emptying juvenile institutions only to refill other prisons or jails with minors serving adult sentences. It wouldn't save any money, would undermine the ongoing adult prison realignment, and would once again derail the state's long-preached but too-seldom-practiced mission to salvage young offenders before they are lost forever to a criminal lifestyle.
A wave of reform is sweeping through juvenile justice programs around the state, focusing on treatment, monitoring, follow-up programming and data tracking. California has lost the leadership it held beginning in the 1940s, and is now grappling with the aftereffects of four decades of tough-on-crime initiatives.
It would be far too easy to close the Division of Juvenile Justice and send California's most troubled and difficult young offenders to counties — and to forget them. The faith-without-follow-up process is what helped undermine the once groundbreaking California Youth Authority. It must not be repeated. Before the state can get completely out of the juvenile justice business, it must ensure that counties will have the training, the facilities, the programming expertise — and the oversight — they will need to do the job.
From the Washington Times
War surplus sought for U.S. security
2 lawmakers cite need at border with Mexico
by Jerry Seper
The Washington Times
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Two Texas lawmakers, joined by 17 border sheriffs from Texas, Arizona and New Mexico, have asked Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta to authorize the shipment of surplus equipment being returned from the war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan to the border with Mexico as a matter of “national security.”
Reps. Ted Poe , a Republican, and Henry Cuellar , a Democrat, said in a letter the massive drawdown of U.S. forces has resulted in the shipment of more than 1.5 million pieces of equipment out of Iraq over the past year and that nearly 900,000 items remain - all of which would be useful to federal, state and local law enforcement in their efforts to secure the border with Mexico .
The surplus equipment includes, among other combat gear, Humvees, weapons, communications trailers, observation platforms and night-vision goggles.
Mr. Poe also introduced a House resolution known as the Send Act that would direct the Defense Department to make 10 percent of certain equipment returning from Iraq available for use by law enforcement agencies that patrol the nation's southern border.
“We have brought this right to the secretary of defense because border security is a national security issue,” Mr. Poe said. “State and local officials are on the front lines of the southern border fighting to protect Americans from spillover violence from Mexico.
“They do the best they can with what they've got, but they are outmanned and outgunned by the drug cartels and they are desperate for more resources,” he said.
Mr. Poe said that for years the American people have invested their money in equipment that has been used to defend the borders of other nations and it was time that same equipment be used to secure the United States.
Mr. Cuellar said he joined with Mr. Poe and the border sheriffs to “help reinforce collaboration” with Mr. Panetta for the “betterment of our border communities.”
“If we want to boost border security, we have to help law enforcement agencies beef up their resources to meet this demand. We cannot have one without the other,” said Mr. Cuellar . “We intend to keep the lines of communication open with the Defense Department so we can help our border law enforcement agencies navigate the equipment application process.”
In January, Mr. Cuellar hosted a meeting with Defense Department Assistant Undersecretary Paul N. Stockton in Laredo, Texas, to brief local law enforcement agencies on programs available through the Defense Department 's Domestic Preparedness Support Initiative. More than 100 officers, including border federal law enforcement agents, participated.
The Domestic Preparedness Support Initiative coordinates Defense Department efforts to identify, evaluate, deploy and transfer technology, items and equipment to federal, state and local first responders. The initiative fulfills Congress' intent to support public safety and homeland security by leveraging taxpayer investments in defense technology and equipment.
From Google News
Syrian authorities are detaining and torturing children, the United Nations' human rights chief, Navi Pillay said, according to a report.
"They've gone for the children -- for whatever purposes -- in large numbers," the BBC quoted her as saying . "Hundreds detained and tortured... it's just horrendous.
"Children shot in the knees, held together with adults in really inhumane conditions, denied medical treatment for their injuries, either held as hostages or as sources of information."
Ms Pillay, a lawyer, said she believed that the UN Security Council had enough reliable information to warrant referring Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
"I feel that investigation and prosecution is a crucial element to deter and call a stop to these violations," she told the BBC.
Ms Pillay said she believed that the UN Security Council had enough reliable information to warrant referring Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Syria accepts Annan peace plan, but clashes continue
Meanwhile, the United States has urged the Syrian opposition to unite and pledge to respect minority rights in a future Syria should President Bashar Assad be driven from power, and warned armed rebels and government forces against committing human rights abuses.
Disunity among the Syrian opposition to Assad has fed fears that Syria could slide into sectarian and ethnic conflict, much as Iraq did after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
Skeptical of peace plan
This has worried some governments, including the United States which would otherwise be glad to see Assad's downfall, after a year in which Assad has been
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged the Syrian opposition to lay out a vision of an inclusive Syria in which minority rights are respected.
"They must be able to clearly demonstrate a commitment to including all Syrians and protecting the rights of all Syrians," Clinton told reporters.
"We are going to be pushing them very hard to present such a vision in Istanbul," she said ahead of a gathering of Western and Arab nations in Istanbul on Sunday to discuss a political transition in Syria.
Earlier on Tuesday, the New York Times reported that a meeting of Syrian opposition groups in Istanbul was marred when a veteran dissident and Kurdish delegates walked out, saying their views were not heard.
U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford said on Tuesday in Washington that he had received reports that armed Syrian opposition groups had engaged in human rights abuses. He said he had warned the rebels, as well as Assad, against committing such abuses.
Both Clinton and Ford were skeptical of reports that Syria's government had accepted the peace plan of U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.
"Given Assad's history of over-promising and under-delivering, that commitment must now be matched by immediate actions," Clinton said.
Ford left Syria last month because of the violence but remains the U.S. ambassador. At a hearing on Capitol Hill, he was asked about statements by the U.S.-based group Human Rights Watch that armed opposition groups in Syria had committed abuses including kidnapping, detention and torture of security force members and government supporters.
"We had reports like that last year, when some of the fighting in Homs became really serious," Ford said. "We raised it even in Syria when my embassy was still open.
"We discussed it with some of the local revolution council representatives -- who are themselves not members of armed groups, but certainly are in contact with them -- and emphasized that they would be held to a standard on this if they wanted support from western countries."
The United States had also raised the matter with the Syrian National Council, the main opposition umbrella group, Ford said.
He added there was a danger that more hard-liners who ignored human rights would gain influence on both sides in Syria the longer the conflict goes on.
Assad's government, Ford said, had committed "massive human rights violations that may amount to crimes against humanity."
The United Nations says more than 9,000 people have been killed in Syria's year-old uprising against Assad. Syria says rebels have killed some 3,000 security force members and blames the violence on "terrorist" gangs.
Human Rights Watch also has accused Assad's forces of human rights abuses, including using human shields in northern Syria in their efforts to crush the rebellion.
Assad on Tuesday was filmed taking a tour of Baba Amr, the district of Homs recently bombarded by his forces.
Michigan militia members cleared of conspiracy
DETROIT (AP) - A federal judge on Tuesday gutted the government's case against seven members of a Michigan militia, dismissing the most serious charges in an extraordinary defeat for federal authorities who insisted they had captured homegrown rural extremists poised for war.
U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts said the members' expressed hatred of law enforcement didn't amount to a conspiracy to rebel against the government. The FBI had secretly planted an informant and an FBI agent inside the Hutaree militia starting in 2008 to collect hours of anti-government audio and video that became the cornerstone of the case.
"The court is aware that protected speech and mere words can be sufficient to show a conspiracy. In this case, however, they do not rise to that level," the judge said on the second anniversary of raids and arrests that broke up the group.
Roberts granted requests for acquittal on the most serious charges: conspiring to commit sedition, or rebellion, against the U.S. and conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction. Other weapons crimes tied to the alleged conspiracies also were dismissed.
"The judge had a lot of guts," defense attorney William Swor said. "It would have been very easy to say, `The heck with it,' and hand it off to the jury. But the fact is she looked at the evidence, and she looked at it very carefully."
The trial, which began Feb. 13, will resume Thursday with only a few gun charges remaining against militia leader David Stone and son Joshua Stone, both from Lenawee County, Mich. They have been in custody without bond for two years.
Prosecutors said Hutaree members were anti-government rebels who combined training and strategy sessions to prepare for a violent strike against federal law enforcement, triggered first by the slaying of a police officer.
But there never was an attack. Defense lawyers said highly offensive remarks about police and the government were wrongly turned into a high-profile criminal case that drew public praise from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who in 2010 called Hutaree a "dangerous organization."
David Stone's "statements and exercises do not evince a concrete agreement to forcibly resist the authority of the United States government," Roberts said Tuesday. "His diatribes evince nothing more than his own hatred for _ perhaps even desire to fight or kill _ law enforcement; this is not the same as seditious conspiracy."
U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade declined to comment. Two years ago, when militia members were arrested, she said it was time to "take them down."
The FBI had put a local informant, Dan Murray, inside the militia in 2008 and paid him $31,000. An FBI agent from New Jersey also was embedded. Steve Haug, known as "Jersey Steve," posed as a trucker and spent months secretly recording talks with Stone. He even served as Stone's best man at his wedding, a celebration with militia members wearing military fatigues.
Haug repeatedly talked to Stone about building pipe bombs and getting other sophisticated explosives. The FBI rented a warehouse in Ann Arbor where the agent would invite him and others to store and discuss weapons.
Haug told jurors he was "shocked" by Stone's knowledge of explosives, noting it matched some of his own instruction as a federal agent.
Stone was recorded saying he was willing to kill police and even their families. He considered them part of a "brotherhood" _ a sinister global authority that included federal law enforcers and United Nations troops.
He had bizarre beliefs: Stone suspected Germany and Singapore had aircraft stationed in Texas, and thousands of Canadian troops were poised to take over Michigan. He said the government put computer chips in a flu vaccine.
He had a speech prepared for a regional militia gathering in Kentucky in 2010, but bad weather forced him and others to return to Michigan. Instead, he read it in the van while a secret camera installed by the FBI captured the remarks.
"It is time to strike and take our nation back so that we may be free again from tyranny," Stone said. "Time is up, God bless all of you and welcome to the new revolution."
Swor said Stone is a Christian who was bracing for war against the Antichrist.
"This is not the United States government. This is Satan's army," Swor told the judge Monday, referring to the enemy.
Militia members cleared of all charges were Stone's wife, Tina Stone, and his son, David Stone Jr.; Thomas Piatek, of Whiting, Ind.; Michael Meeks, of Manchester, Mich.; and Kris Sickles, of Sandusky, Ohio.
"It's hard to believe it's over," said Tina Stone, crying as she spoke by phone. "Thank God we live in a country where we do have freedom of speech."
Joshua Clough, of Blissfield, Mich., pleaded guilty to a weapons charge in December and awaits his sentence. Jacob Ward, of Huron, Ohio, will have a separate trial.
From the FBI
The Cyber Threat
Part 1: On the Front Lines with Shawn Henry
Shawn Henry realized a lifelong dream when he became a special agent in 1989. Since that time he has traveled the world for investigations and become one of the FBI's most senior executives and its top official on cyber crime. FBI.gov recently sat down with Henry—who is about to retire from the Bureau—to talk about the cyber threat and his FBI career.
Q: You were involved with cyber investigations long before the public had an awareness of how serious the threat is. How did you become interested in the cyber realm?
Henry: I was always interested in technology, and in the late 1990s I started to take courses at the FBI related to cyber intrusion investigations. When I had an opportunity to move over to that side of the house, I seized it. I saw right away that the challenges we were going to face in the future were tremendous, and I wanted to be on the front lines of that.
Q: How has the cyber threat changed over time?
Henry: Early on, cyber intrusions such as website defacements and denial of service attacks were generally perceived to be pranks by teenagers. But even then, in the late 1990s, there were state actors sponsored by governments who were attacking networks. What received media attention was the teenage hacker and the defacements, but there were more significant types of attacks and a more substantial threat that was in the background. Also, those early attacks were much more intermittent. Now we are seeing literally thousands of attacks a day. The ones people hear about are often because victims are coming forward. And there are more substantial attacks that people don't ever see or hear about.
Q: Where are the cyber threats coming from today?
Henry: We see three primary actors: organized crime groups that are primarily threatening the financial services sector, and they are expanding the scope of their attacks; state sponsors—foreign governments that are interested in pilfering data, including intellectual property and research and development data from major manufacturers, government agencies, and defense contractors; and increasingly there are terrorist groups who want to impact this country the same way they did on 9/11 by flying planes into buildings. They are seeking to use the network to challenge the United States by looking at critical infrastructure to disrupt or harm the viability of our way of life.
Q: How has the FBI adapted to address the threat?
Henry: We have grown substantially, particularly in the last four or five years, where we have hired much more technically proficient agents, many of whom have advanced degrees in computer science or information technology. We bring them onboard and teach them to be FBI agents rather than trying to teach FBI agents how the technology works. That has given us a leg up and put our capabilities on par with anybody in the world. We have also worked proactively to mitigate the threat by using some of the same investigative techniques we use in the physical world—undercover operations, cooperating witnesses, and authorized surveillance techniques. We have taken those same time-tested tactics and applied them to the cyber threat. So we are now able to breach networks of criminal actors by putting somebody into their group. The other critical area we have been successful in is developing partnerships.
Next: Why partnerships are so important.