F.B.I. documents shed more light on ‘State Secrets’ about Targeted Individuals
Recently released heavily redacted F.B.I. documents obtained by human rights group Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) show 8000 Americans targeted individuals are being secretly persecuted because their names are on a strictly confidential government watch list, including people who never committed a crime according to The New York Times report published Tuesday. The documents show officials are strictly prohibited from telling targets their name is on the list but can persecute the target, such as with harassment at airports.
“The Federal Bureau of Investigation is permitted to include people on the government’s terrorist watch list even if they have been acquitted of terrorism-related offenses or the charges are dropped, according to newly released documents” that EPIC obtained through Freedom of Information, the Times reported.
“The files, released by the F.B.I. under the Freedom of Information Act, disclose how the police are instructed to react if they encounter a person on the list. They lay out, for the first time in public view, the legal standard that national security officials must meet in order to add a name to the list. And they shed new light on how names are vetted for possible removal from the list.”
The documents reveal that Targeted Individuals on the watch list can be kept off of planes and be “subjected to delays and greater security at airports, border crossings and traffic stops,” reported the Times.
The document includes a notice issued December 21, 2010 to field officers from “Counterterrorism” that states in capital letters, “DO NOT ADVISE THE SUBJECT THAT THEY MAY BE ON A TERRORIST WATCHLIST.”
According to the same notice, the list of names is the property of the “TSC.” F.B.I.’s Terrorist Screening Center.
Although innocent people are named on the watch list, orders are for officials to not detain those individuals unless they commit a crime. The notice concludes, “WARNING – APPROACH WITH CAUTION.”
“If an individual is acquitted or charges are dismissed for a crime related to terrorism, the individual must still meet the reasonable suspicion standard in order to remain on, or be subsequently nominated to, the terrorist watch list,” says the newly declassified memorandum.
Although Timothy J. Healy, F.B.I.’s Terrorist Screening Center director says the documents show government is balancing civil liberties with a carefully vetting of who goes on it, some of the procedures is drawing fire from civil liberties advocates, including EPIC.
Ever attracted suspicion? Ever met someone on the paranoid side who might find your actions suspicious? Ever made someone angry, a person who agrees with the American way of revenge such as calling your name into the local Fusion Center? Ever jilted a lover? According to those protecting the Fatherland, these situations are sufficient enough to be targeted and kept on a watch list no matter what.
“Stewart Baker, a former Homeland Security official in the Bush administration, argued that even if the intelligence about someone’s possible terrorism ties fell short of the courtroom standard of ‘beyond a reasonable doubt,’ it could still be appropriate to keep the person on the watch list as having attracted suspicion,” reported the Times.
It only takes two people to report a target. In the guidance memo to F.B.I. field offices, as reported by the Times, it is clear that ‘someone may be deemed a ‘known or suspected terrorist’ if officials have ‘particularized derogatory information’ to support their suspicions. “That standard may be met by an allegation that the suspect has terrorism ties if the claim is corroborated by at least one other source, it said.”
Although snitching on someone is not to involve ‘mere guesses or ‘hunches,’ according to the notice, it does not bar two people from reporting as a potential terrorist someone they view as deserving of being persecuted so that the name of a personal foe is on the list. This is a seemingly easy feat for the ever growing group of Homeland Security related employees with the “right connections.”
With over 200,000 contract employees and 188,00 federal employees, DHS is the third largest Cabinet department. Those figures do not include all the other related department employees.
In 2009, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), longtime human rights and civil liberties advocate, confronted the nation’s premier law enforcement agency for allowing innocent citizens languish on a secret list.
“Given the very real and negative consequences to which people on the watchlist are subjected, this is unacceptable,” Leahy had said.
Leahy’s opposition to the way individuals are targeted followed an Inspector General report (.pdf) showing, as Wired Magazine put it, “The FBI can’t figure out the right way to add or remove suspected terrorists from the country’s unified terrorist watch list, subjecting citizens to unjustified scrutiny from government officials and possibly putting the country at risk.”
The U.S. counterintelligence program, once called COINTELPRO, coordinates tactics to use against targeted individuals. These include discrediting through psychological warfare, planting false reports in media, smearing through forged letters, harassment, wrongful imprisonment, extralegal violence and assassination, now “legal” since President Obama signed the “Targeted Killing” executive order.
According to Rhodri Jeffery-Jones in his 2008 book, “FBI,” the FBI records show 85% of the nation’s “counterintelligence” program resources targeted groups and individuals that the FBI has deemed “subversive.” Subversive, Congress learned in 1976 though an intensive investigation, has been associated with “investigations that included a vaguely defined mission to collect intelligence about “subversive activities” which were sometimes unrelated to law enforcement.”
Covert operations under COINTELPRO that occurred from 1956 to 1971 shocked the nation when the congressional investigation revealed the un-American tactics used to ruin lives. Lesser known is that the FBI has used covert operations against domestic political groups since its inception according to Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Walls 1990 book, The COINTELPRO Papers: Documents from the FBI’s Secret Wars Against Domestic Dissent published by South End Press, (pp. xii, 303).
The Times reports, “The F.B.I.’s Terrorist Screening Center shares the data with other federal agencies for screening aircraft passengers, people who are crossing the border and people who apply for visas.”
Possibly explaining why police offer no protection to Targeted Individuals when they complain about the persecution including frequent house break-ins, theft, computer hacking, telephone intrusions such as disconnects and re-routing calls is that, as the Times reports, the watch list data is given to local police officers “to check names during traffic stops.”
Electronic Freedom Foundation asks Obama to follow law as federal officials withhold Obama appointees’ names
Targeted Individuals consistently report persecution by being kept under surveillance, an unwanted intrusion. But what civilians did President Obama appoint to oversee misconduct by people targeting individuals? The public does not know since, thus far, the president also been kept this a secret.
Tuesday, the human rights organization Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) filed suit against the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) demanding records of names of people on President Obama appointed Intelligence Oversight Board (IOB), the civilian panel charged with reviewing all misconduct reports for American intelligence agencies. EFF stated:
“The IOB is supposed to alert the president and attorney general when it spots behavior that is unlawful or contrary to executive order. However, in his nearly three years in office, President Obama has not yet announced any appointments to the IOB. EFF’s suit comes after the ODNI refused to respond to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for membership, vacancies, and other information about the IOB made earlier this year.”
“We’re trying to create a picture of the federal government’s intelligence violations as Congress considers updates and changes to current surveillance law and oversight,” said EFF Staff Attorney Jennifer Lynch. “Part of that picture is who is on the IOB. We’re asking the government to follow the law and release the records on IOB membership.”
Last Wednesday, EFF and a coalition of whistleblowers, intelligence experts, and veterans urged a federal appeals court to reject government attempts to bury yet another lawsuit challenging illegal surveillance with baseless claims of “state secrets.”
“This group includes experts from throughout America’s intelligence community, and they are all concerned about the government’s abuse of the state secrets privilege,” said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. “If courts cannot review potentially illegal behavior by the government, then there’s no meaningful oversight. That’s unconstitutional. America needs to be able to protect against officials who abuse their power.”
Juxtaposed to democracy and the U.S. Constitution, the infamous Gestapo, Stazi and Red Guard all sought and maintained civilian armies of snitches to help their rogue governments maintain absolute power. Government thugs were recurited to gain any information that could be used against victims selectively targeted, people “not with” the government in power or people owed revenge.
Today, the U.S. government relies on secrets provided by neighborhood members of InfraGard, a private non-profit organization serving as a “public-private partnership between U.S. businesses and the Federal Bureau of Investigation”, an “information sharing and analysis effort serving interests and combining the knowledge base of a wide range of members.”
A fundamental principle of democracy is transparency, a principle upon which President Obama campaigned.
Could you or someone you love be targeted by police, TSA or even local neighborhood recruits? Learn more about Targeted Individuals by reading Deborah Dupré’s articles on this subject here.