Illegal FBI mass surveillance in the USA

This 8 June 2016 video from the USA says about itself:

‘State of Surveillance’ with Edward Snowden and Shane Smith (VICE on HBO: Season 4, Episode 13)

When NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked details of massive government surveillance programs in 2013, he ignited a raging debate over digital privacy and security. That debate came to a head this year, when Apple refused an FBI court order to access the iPhone of alleged San Bernardino Terrorist Syed Farook. Meanwhile, journalists and activists are under increasing attack from foreign agents. To find out the government’s real capabilities, and whether any of us can truly protect our sensitive information, VICE founder Shane Smith heads to Moscow to meet the man who started the conversation, Edward Snowden.

By Kevin Reed in the USA:

FISA court documents expose illegal FBI mass surveillance

10 October 2019

In an unprecedented development, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released redacted Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) documents on Tuesday that disclose details of the illegal FBI electronic surveillance of US citizens.

The disclosures—contained in 20 documents published on the website of the ODNI—show that since 2017 the FBI has been violating provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) as well as the Fourth Amendment rights of Americans by searching through their e-mail, text messages and phone calls.

The ODNI document release stems from a FISC order on April 5, 2018, which found that the FBI’s procedures concerning the “querying of United States persons” were insufficient, resulting in violations of federal law. The Trump administration appealed the decision to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review (FISC-R), which then affirmed on July 12, 2019, the original 2018 ruling.

The portion of the FISA law that was found to be violated by the FBI is known as Section 702, which grants authority to US intelligence and law enforcement to search the online communications of non-Americans located outside the US under very specific conditions. Section 702 was adopted in 2008 as part of the FISA Amendments Act that modified the original FISA law adopted in 1976 and it specifically bars the targeting of US citizens for warrantless electronic surveillance.

In one episode reported in the FISC documents, in March 2017 the FBI queried the database of e-mail, texts and phone calls of more than 70,000 FBI employees or contractors. According to the Wall Street Journal, “The bureau appeared to be looking for data to conduct a security review of people with access to its buildings and computers—meaning the FBI was searching for data linked to its own employees.” The documents say that the agency did so against the advice of its general counsel.

In another example from April 2018, the FBI queried the e-mail addresses and phone numbers of 57,000 US individuals. In both instances, the FBI claimed the searches were necessary as part of an effort to uncover foreign intelligence information.

Several other incidents involved querying the data of specific individuals instead of the batch queries. In these cases, the FISC court of Judge James E. Boesberg determined that the FBI had not provided sufficient justification for its belief that the queries would yield foreign intelligence information.

It should be pointed out that the FISC rulings and documents released by ODNI take as a given the existence of the NSA database of e-mail, text messages and phone calls of everyone. The reprimand of the FBI is that the agency did not properly utilize the database, document its reasons for querying it and dispose of the information obtained after it was collected.

This discrepancy was noted by former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden in a tweet on Tuesday: “The worst part? The government argues the existence of a warrantless, internet-scale mass surveillance program isn’t the problem, merely the lawless way the FBI uses it against Americans, [because] ‘of course’ the other 93-97% of the human population have no rights.”

Secret US government data collection of e-mail and phone call data has been going on at least since the days following the events of September 11, 2001. The exposures made by Snowden showed that this data collection takes two forms: upstream and downstream (also known as PRISM).

Upstream collection is the interception and storage of communications as they pass through the fiber-optic backbone and infrastructure of the global telecommunications system. This involves the collection of a large mass of data that is filtered based on IP addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses and made available to indexing and analysis based on the queries of targeted individuals.

Downstream collection involves government access to the servers of the telecommunications service providers and tech companies such as Verizon, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Apple and copying the data that resides there. These companies are prohibited from telling their customers that their data has been retrieved by the government.

In describing the 2018 FISC order and its 2019 FISC-R affirmation, the ODNI says, “The Government subsequently submitted amended FBI querying procedures to address the issues, and the FISC found that the amended procedures were sufficient.”

However, this is not the first time that the American people have been told—after secret surveillance of the public was exposed—that the government has stopped violating constitutional rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.

In March 2013, the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lied during congressional testimony when he said that the NSA did not collect any data on American citizens. Three months later, a massive NSA program that was gathering the electronic communications of everyone was exposed by Snowden.

In March 2014, President Barack Obama promised to end the NSA data collection and surveillance programs only to seek subsequently to reauthorize them multiple times. The Trump administration reauthorized the mass surveillance program in January 2018 and has called for the program to be permanently activated when it expires at the end of this year.

The publication of the FISC documents by the ODNI exhibit some features of the intensifying warfare between the Trump administration and the Democratic Party and US intelligence community in Washington, D.C.

Like the impeachment drive that is narrowly focused on Trump’s political skullduggery during one phone call, when the Republican President has violated the constitution multiple times on other issues such as the treatment of immigrants, the claim that the FBI’s misuse of the procedures for “querying United States persons” is a violation of the Fourth Amendment pales in comparison to the NSA’s mass system of surveillance.

Meanwhile, differences of opinion over the meaning of the ODNI revelations have been expressed in the Congress. An anonymous congressional aide told the Washington Post that the FBI’s violations were not “not particularly alarming,” while Senator Ron Wyden (Democrat-Oregon) said, “Today’s release demonstrates how baseless the FBI’s position was.”

Given its record of lying about spying on the public, nothing published by the ODNI should be accepted at face value and without a very high degree of skepticism. Under the FISA law, the FISC court—which has undergone a significant transformation since its establishment following the exposure of criminal activities by then-President Richard Nixon in the 1970s—operates in complete secrecy as an arm of US military-intelligence.

Many questions remain as to why, when the secret court approves 99.967% of the surveillance requests that come before it, the FISC has chosen to rebuke the FBI for violating procedures.

CIA, FBI not good alternatives to Trump

This 24 March 2016 video says about itself:

The Dark Prison: The Legacy of the CIA Torture Programme | Fault Lines

“In the immediate aftermath of 9/11 we did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks.”

It’s been more than a year since US President Barack Obama admitted that the CIA tortured prisoners at its interrogation centres.

While the CIA has long admitted the use of waterboarding, which simulates drowning by pouring water into a person’s nose and mouth, a truncated and heavily redacted report by the Senate Intelligence Committee in December 2015 detailed other abuses that went beyond previous disclosures.

Reading like a script from a horror film, some of the techniques involved prisoners being slapped and punched while being dragged naked up and down corridors, being kept in isolation in total darkness, subject to constant deafening music, rectal rehydration and being locked in coffin-shaped boxes.

Critical to the development of the CIA’s brutal interrogation programme was a legal memo that said the proposed methods of interrogation were not torture if they did not cause “organ failure, death or permanent damage”.

Despite failing to produce any useful information about imminent terrorist attacks, the CIA meted out these and other brutal treatments for years after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

And with dozens of people having since been released without charge, and at least a quarter of them officially declared to have been “wrongfully detained”, the effects of torture live on with the victims, burned into their minds.

In this episode of Fault Lines, we explore the plight of these men struggling to overcome their harrowing experiences of torture since leaving CIA-run black sites.

By Barry Grey in the USA:

“Meet the Press” anchor Chuck Todd grills senator: “You don’t trust the FBI and CIA?”

8 October 2019

An exchange on Sunday between NBC News’ “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd and Senator Ron Johnson (Republican from Wisconsin) sums up the right-wing basis on which the Democratic Party and its media allies are conducting their impeachment drive against President Trump.

In the interview, Johnson refused to condemn Trump for withholding military aid in order to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the role of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in his son Hunter’s business dealings with a Ukrainian oligarch, the central issue in the impeachment inquiry.

The senator, who cosponsored a bipartisan bill to send arms to the right-wing anti-Russian regime, also sought to defend Trump’s demand that Kiev investigate collaboration between the 2016 Clinton election campaign and Ukraine in depicting Trump as a stooge of Russian President Vladimir Putin and charging Moscow with hacking Democratic Party emails.

At the beginning of 2017, in advance of Trump’s inauguration, the CIA and the rest of the US intelligence agencies officially adopted the fabricated narrative of Russian “meddling” in the 2016 election and Trump campaign collusion. This became the basis for a secret FBI counterintelligence investigation into the Trump White House, which then morphed into the nearly two-year investigation by Special Council Robert Mueller. The current impeachment drive is an extension of this CIA-driven campaign.

When Johnson evaded Todd’s questions concerning Trump’s bullying of Ukraine to advance his personal electoral chances, and instead repeatedly raised the Clinton campaign’s collaboration with Ukrainian officials against Trump, Todd exclaimed as though in exasperated disbelief:

“Do you not trust the FBI? You don’t trust the CIA?” …

Nothing could more clearly reveal the role of the Democratic Party and its media allies in fronting for the intelligence agencies than this exchange between the “liberal” news analyst and the right-wing Republican defender of Trump. The Democrats’ alternative to Trump’s efforts to establish a form of presidential dictatorship and create a fascist movement based on anti-immigrant racism and extreme nationalism is to install a government directly run by the CIA and the Pentagon. …

They evidently believe that the public is infinitely gullible and suffering from collective memory loss.

These, after all, are the organizations that justified the war in Iraq on the basis of the Big Lie of “weapons of mass destruction”. They created the fraudulent narrative of the “war on terror” to justify aggressive wars in Afghanistan, the Middle East and North Africa that killed millions and destroyed entire societies. Meanwhile, in Libya and Syria, they funded and collaborated with Al Qaeda-linked terrorist militias in wars for regime-change.

The CIA has engineered coups and installed military dictatorships and far-right regimes all over the world. It would take many volumes to detail all of the lies and crimes of these pillars of the “deep state” against the people of the United States and the entire world. …

It is crucial that working people not allow their opposition to Trump to be channeled behind the CIA-Democratic impeachment drive. The working class must conduct the struggle against Trump independently of all sections of the ruling class and both capitalist parties. Its methods are those not of palace coup, but class struggle, which must be expanded to embrace all sections of workers and youth both in the US and internationally in the fight against the capitalist system, the source of inequality, war and dictatorship.

As Donald Trump responds to the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry by seeking to whip up far-right and fascistic forces, the Democrats and their allies in the media are promoting dissident elements in the military command that are publicly denouncing the White House’s decision to withdraw US troops from northern Syria. The extraordinary intervention of high-ranking retired generals is a breach of the core constitutional principle of the subordination of the military to civilian authority. It highlights the right-wing and anti-democratic character of both factions in the political conflict in Washington and the immense dangers facing the working class if the resolution of the crisis is left in the hands of the warring factions of the ruling class: here.

Trump’s FBI spying on opponents of xenophobia

This 9 September 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Trump‘s Remain in Mexico Program Condemns Refugees to Mortal Danger

Those seeking refugee status in the United States at the US-Mexico border are now forced to remain in Mexico while their refugee status is being processed. Laura Carlsen spoke to refugees and advocates on the Mexican side, in Tijuana.

By Eric London in the USA:

Leaked document reveals state spying

FBI targets groups opposing Trump’s concentration camps as “Extremists”

9 September 2019

A leaked Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) intelligence report reveals that the US government is using informants and trawling social media to spy on domestic left-wing protest groups opposed to fascist border militias and the Trump administration’s attack on immigrants.

The document, titled “Anarchist Extremists Very Likely Increasing Targeting of US Government Entities in Arizona, Increasing Risk of Armed Conflict,” produced by the FBI’s Phoenix office, was published on September 4 by Yahoo News.

The report exposes unconstitutional activity that parallels the crimes of the FBI under former Director J. Edgar Hoover. It is a serious warning sign: the military-intelligence apparatus is covertly creating the legal and physical framework for the criminalization of free speech and the suppression of left-wing political activity. As the fascist in the White House establishes concentration camps for immigrants and political opponents, a bipartisan group of politicians and intelligence agents are working to crush dissent.

The report explains that the FBI is targeting “anarchist extremists” (which it refers to as “AEs”) because they “view US immigration policies and procedures for handling illegal immigrants—including arrests, removal, and border barriers—as violations of human rights and supporting government facilities and personnel as symbols of US tyranny.”

US immigration jail in Texas [credit: CBP, WikiMedia]

The FBI justifies labeling groups as “extremists” based on the fact that they are “monitoring various US Border Patrol activities, right-wing militia groups, and other groups favoring the border wall, mostly to expose human rights abuses and communicate threats to humanitarian groups operating in the area.”

The use of terminology is legally significant: groups opposing fascists are “extremists” while fascists are merely listed as “right-wing groups”. The FBI is effectively serving as the fascist militias’ protectors.

The report explains that the FBI has gathered information from “human and open source reporting with varying access and reliability, the majority having direct access.” Translated into plain English, the FBI is trawling websites and personal social media pages for “open source” gathering while working with “human” informants or infiltrating agents with “direct access” to the targeted groups and individuals.

The report exposes the antidemocratic nomenclature and legal categories employed by the intelligence agencies in their investigations of left-wing opposition.

The FBI reviewed “extremist websites”, including one “AE website” which advocates “disruptive actions” against Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The FBI referenced another “extremist website” on the grounds that it advocates “a trajectory of rebellion.” One individual was targeted for social media surveillance because he was “a self-identified antifascist” who had “expressed support” for “AEs.”

The FBI admits that “the majority of AEs do not further their goals with firearms” and that “AE groups have banned firearms or carrying loaded weapons.” In other words, the groups are targeted despite having explicitly renounced violent behavior.

The FBI report is one small but dangerous part of a broader effort to criminalize left-wing social opposition under the auspices of combatting “domestic terrorism.”

In August, President Trump tweeted that “Major consideration is being given to naming ANTIFA an ‘organization of terror.’”

The intelligence agencies and a bipartisan network of politicians and officials have indeed been giving “major consideration” to labeling domestic groups as “terrorists.”

In its 2018 National Strategy for Counterterrorism document, the Trump administration added several sections addressing “domestic terrorism” for the first time.

The document pledged to “investigate and integrate threat information relating to domestic terrorists,” noting “the US has long faced a persistent security threat from domestic terrorists who are not motivated by a radical Islamist ideology.” Further, the administration pledged to “raise awareness of radicalization and recruitment dynamics” and to “promote grassroots efforts to identify and address radicalization to insulate civilian populations from terrorist influence.”

In a statement published in May 2019 supporting legislation making “domestic terrorism” a federal crime, FBI Assistant Director of the Counterterrorism Division Michael McGarrity wrote that “domestic terrorists” act “in furtherance of ideological goals stemming from domestic influences, such as racial bias and anti-government sentiment.”

McGarrity added that the FBI is collaborating with foreign intelligence agencies to monitor international political activity: “We are working with our foreign partners to investigate subjects in their countries who may be radicalizing Americans…”

Earlier this summer, Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff introduced legislation that would create a federal law barring support for individuals or groups labeled “domestic terrorists”. Though Schiff and the Democrats claim the legislation would be aimed at right-wing mass shooters, violent terrorist acts are already illegal in every jurisdiction, meaning the chief purpose of such a federal law would be to criminalize free speech and association, particularly on the left.

Robert Chesney, the cofounder of Lawfare Blog and a former Obama administration lawyer, explained on August 8 that a federal domestic terrorism statute would be “useful” to criminalize noncriminal speech and activity.

Speaking in support of the measure, he wrote that a domestic terrorism law would facilitate “anticipatory prosecutions of persons whom the government thinks are personally dangerous but cannot yet be linked to particular conspiracies, attempts or completed acts of violence.” Chesney notes that “what is missing in the domestic terrorism scenario” is “a list of proscribed organizations to which it becomes a crime to provide, knowingly, any form of support.” “Active membership” in such a group would make an individual a “domestic terrorist.”

One key architect of the clandestine plans to create the legal framework for crackdowns on free speech is former Obama administration Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary McCord.

On February 27, McCord authored a Lawfare article titled “A Road Map for Congress to Address Domestic Terrorism” with Jason Blazakis, the former State Department Director of the Counterterrorism Finance and Designations Office, the agency responsible for determining which groups are listed as “foreign terrorist organizations” under the PATRIOT Act.

The article advocates for passage of a domestic terrorism statute in order to mobilize the FBI’s “Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs)” which function “in 104 cities across the country, combining over 4,000 federal, state and local law enforcement and intelligence specialists,” to address domestic terrorism. McCord and Blazakis say “domestic terrorism” involves acts that are “motivated by political, economic and social extremist ideologies,” a definition that is clearly aimed at encompassing socialist, antiwar and left-wing viewpoints.

The New York Times interviewed McCord, writing on August 9 that she “argued that having domestic terrorism and related weapons-stockpiling charges on the books would give the FBI a stronger basis to investigate people who arouse suspicion that they may pose a risk of politically motivated violence, including by sending informants to see what such suspects say privately.”

The state’s plans for repressing social opposition include threats of physical force. Also on August 9, internet censorship advocate Clint Watts wrote an opinion article in the Wall Street Journal titled, “How to Fight the New Domestic Terrorism” which calls for the government to “use its hard-won experience against al Qaeda and Islamic State [ISIS]” to combat “domestic terrorism.”

“We must swiftly and carefully apply the best practices of the two decades since Sept. 11, 2001 to counter this decade’s domestic terrorist threat—by passing new laws, increasing resources and enhancing investigative capabilities,” Watts writes.

This is an admission that the ruling class—with bipartisan support—is preparing to employ at home the brutal forces of death and repression used against workers and peasants in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and Libya. The aim is to suppress the growth of social opposition and defend skyrocketing levels of social inequality.

The targeting of pro-immigrant groups by the FBI in Arizona shows the intelligence agencies are not primarily concerned with white supremacists. Trump, who has referred to neo-Nazis as “good people”, is clearly not directing this strategy against his allies on the extreme right. After all, one of the chief aides of the president—Stephen Miller—is himself a fascist extremist, and he is effectively running DHS.

The real target is the working class, which must be mobilized against the threat of fascism and dictatorship.

US Trump administration promoting white supremacy, transphobia

This 25 August 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Leaked FBI Documents Reveal Bureau’s Priorities Under Trump. Cenk Uygur and Ken Klippenstein, hosts of The Conversation, break it down.

From the Young Turks site in the USA about this:

Under President Trump, the FBI’s official counterterrorism priorities have included “Black Identity Extremists”, “anti-authority” extremists, and “animal rights/environmental extremists”, according to leaked Bureau documents obtained exclusively by The Young Turks. The documents, many of which are marked “Law Enforcement Sensitive” and “For Official Use Only”, also reference a mysterious plan to mitigate the threat of “Black Identity Extremists” with a program codenamed “IRON FIST” involving the use of undercover agents. …

While the documents depict concerns about violent black extremist attacks, they do not cite a single specific attack — unlike white supremacist attacks, of which several prominent examples are provided. …

So grave did the Bureau consider the threat of black extremists that from 2019 to 2020, using new designations, it listed the threat at the very top of its counterterrorism priorities — above even terror groups like Al Qaeda.

The Trump administration considers anti-fascism to be ‘terrorism’; while anti-fascists have not killed a single person. The Trump administration considers the pesaceful Black Lives matter movement to be ‘terrorist’. While by far more most attacks killing and injuring people in the USA are by far-right white supremacists; a lot more than jihadist attacks. But does the Trump administration really consider nazi terrorists to be terrorists?

This 24 August 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Trump‘s DOJ Busted Spreading White Supremacist Propaganda

Trump’s Department of Justice is spreading white nationalist blogs to intimidate immigration judges. Cenk Uygur, Ana Kasparian, and Aida Rodriguez, hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.

“An email sent from the Justice Department to all immigration court employees this week included a link to an article posted on a white nationalist website that “directly attacks sitting immigration judges with racial and ethnically tinged slurs”, according to a letter sent by an immigration judges union and obtained by BuzzFeed News.

According to the National Association of Immigration Judges, the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) sent court employees a link to a blog post from VDare, a white nationalist website, in its morning news briefing earlier this week that included anti-Semitic attacks on judges.

The briefings are sent to court employees every weekday and include links to various immigration news items. BuzzFeed News confirmed the link to a blog post was sent to immigration court employees Monday. The post detailed a recent move by the Justice Department to decertify the immigration judges union.

A letter Thursday from union chief Ashley Tabaddor to James McHenry, the director of the Justice Department’s EOIR, said the link to the VDare post angered many judges.”

Read more here.

Trump Clears Employers To Fire Transgender Workers

Trump’s Department of Justice filed a brief asking the Supreme Court to allow employers to be able fire employees who do not comply with gender stereotypes.

Cenk Uygur, Ana Kasparian and Richard Eskow hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.

“Thirty years ago, in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, the Supreme Court held that “sex stereotyping” is forbidden by a federal law banning employment discrimination. “We are beyond the day”, Justice William Brennan wrote in the court’s plurality opinion, “when an employer could evaluate employees by assuming or insisting that they matched the stereotype associated with their group.”

Nevertheless, the Trump administration filed a brief last week asking the Supreme Court to bring back the day when an employer could evaluate employees by assuming or insisting that they matched the stereotype associated with their group.

The Trump Justice Department’s position in R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC wouldn’t nuke Price Waterhouse entirely. But it would severely weaken protections against sex discrimination, and give employers broad new authority to fire employees who do not comply with stereotypes about how people of a particular gender should appear.”

Read more here.

WHITE SUPREMACISTS ARE BIGGEST DOMESTIC TERRORISM THREAT White supremacy is the greatest domestic terrorism threat facing the U.S., Attorney General Merrick Garland and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said. Republicans on the Senate Appropriations Committee rejected Garland’s argument. [HuffPost]

FBI equates Black Lives Matter with nazis

This 18 August 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

FBI Documents Equate Black Lives Matter With White Supremacy

Leaked FBI Documents Reveal Bureau’s Priorities Under Trump: here.

After Black Lives Matter had been smeared as ‘tools of Russia’

FBI TREATING BORDER PROTEST GROUPS AS EXTREMIST ORGS The FBI is monitoring groups on the border that are protesting U.S. immigration policy. The FBI has gathered intelligence from people with “direct access” to the organizations, and is monitoring their social media. [Yahoo News]

DA’S HUSBAND POINTS GUN AT BLACK LIVES MATTER PROTESTER The husband of Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey pointed a gun at Black Lives Matter LA co-founder Melina Abdullah when she and other activists showed up at Lacey’s house Monday to request a community meeting. Activists have been requesting a meeting with Lacey for more than two years to discuss her office’s failure to prosecute police officers who kill civilians. [HuffPost]

Anti-nazism, ‘terrorism’ in the USA?

This 18 November 2014 video from the USA says about itself:

The FBI vs. Martin Luther King: Inside J. Edgar Hoover‘s “Suicide Letter” to Civil Rights Leader

It was 50 years ago today that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover made headlines by calling Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. the “most notorious liar in the country.” Hoover made the comment in front of a group of female journalists ahead of King’s trip to Oslo where he received the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, becoming the youngest recipient of the prize.

While Hoover was trying to publicly discredit King, the agency also sent King an anonymous letter threatening to expose the civil rights leader’s extramarital affairs. The unsigned, typed letter was written in the voice of a disillusioned civil rights activist, but it is believed to have been written by one of Hoover’s deputies, William Sullivan.

The letter concluded by saying, “King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. … You are done. There is but one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation.” The existence of the so-called “suicide letter” has been known for years, but only last week did the public see the unredacted version. We speak to Yale University professor Beverly Gage, who uncovered the unredacted letter.

By Tom Carter in the USA:

FBI conducted surveillance of BAMN in the name of combating “domestic terrorism”

5 February 2019

On January 16, the nonprofit government transparency organization Property of the People published 52 pages of heavily redacted documents relating to an investigation opened by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) against the By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) group in 2016. The FBI investigation of BAMN was filed under the caption “DT – Anarchist Extremism.” The acronym “DT” stands for “domestic terrorism.”

The documents, which can be viewed here, establish that the FBI targeted BAMN following a June 2016 provocation by neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan in Sacramento, California.

Emboldened by the rhetoric of the Trump administration, including its demand to build a wall on the southern border, a rabble of various white supremacist groups organized a march on the state capital. A group calling itself the Traditionalist Workers Party was joined by the Golden State Skinheads, Blood and Honor, the Traditionalist Youth Network, National Socialist Movement, and the KKK. This provocation was confronted by a much larger counterdemonstration, which included contingents organized by BAMN as well as the anarchist affiliation Antifa.

Armed with knives and other weapons, white supremacists clashed with counterdemonstrators. A total of ten people were injured, including three critically, in a violent melee.

BAMN, a group aligned with the Democratic Party, identity politics, and the trade unions, was formed in California in 1995 as the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration & Immigrant Rights, and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary. It has participated in a number of counterdemonstrations against rallies by white supremacists.

The FBI’s invocation of the framework of the “war on terror” to target BAMN for investigation and surveillance is a major attack on democratic rights. While the FBI report glosses over and minimizes the violence and provocations by the far-right, the FBI employs a tendentious legal framework against BAMN that could be used to target and silence dissent on a broad scale.

The newly released documents indicate that the FBI responded to the June 2016 rally and counterdemonstration by opening a “domestic terrorism” investigation into BAMN. The report states: “Captioned investigation is being initiated on BAMN (By Any Means Necessary), a domestic group, based on information that on June 29, 2016 [sic], members of BAMN attended a Ku Klux Klan rally and assaulted a Nazi supporter.”

“In 2016”, the report continues, “law enforcement learned that the Ku Klux Klan would be holding a rally at the State Capitol Building on June 26, 2016. The KKK consisted of members that some perceived to be supportive of a white supremacist agenda. In response, a number of groups mobilized to protest the rally. Flyers were posted asking people to attend in order to shut down the rally.”

The FBI’s report is remarkable for the way it minimizes the actions of the far-right provocateurs while it scrutinizes and impugns the actions of the counterdemonstrators. The FBI agent’s description of the KKK as consisting of “members that some perceived to be supportive of a white supremacist agenda” leaves no doubt about where that agent’s sympathies lie.

The FBI’s version of the riot all but justifies the conduct of the neo-Nazis, attempting to shift blame onto the counterdemonstrators: “On June 26, 2016, the rally took place as scheduled. Counter-protesters were also present, and violence broke out amongst the crowd. Several people were stabbed and hospitalized; others suffered more minor injuries.”

The FBI opened a “full investigation” against BAMN based on two alleged federal crimes: “riots” and “conspiracy against rights.” In other words, turning reality on its head, the FBI opened an investigation into whether BAMN had “conspired” to violate the rights of the KKK and into whether BAMN was responsible for the riot.

The report indicates that special agents “conducted physical surveillance at 2020 Bonar Street, Berkeley, CA 94702” on a redacted date. This is the address of the Berkeley Unified School District, where BAMN was presumably holding a demonstration.

The notes of the surveillance include the following entries: “Several children observed sitting outside 2020 Bonar Street with signs next to them;” “Several adults observed standing outside 2020 Bonar Street with several children. [Redacted] observed speaking [Redacted] observed holding a sign;” and “Group observed walking toward 1231 Addison Street, Berkeley, CA 94702.”

This surveillance apparently did not yield any plausible evidence of criminal activity. The agents grudgingly admit that “the individuals being observed may have been engaged in protected First Amendment activity.”

Significant portions of the report are too heavily redacted to decipher. However, it is possible to make out that on October 5, 2016, an FBI special agent, whose name is redacted, met with “University of California Berkley [redacted],” who “provided” the agent with redacted material “concerning” a redacted subject. It is not clear whether this is a meeting with a university administrator or campus police. It is also not clear whether the information being provided to the FBI concerned any particular students.

FBI agents obtained copies of BAMN leaflets and appended them to the report. The agents also reviewed YouTube videos and monitored internet posts. The FBI devoted special attention to slogans in BAMN materials such as “no ‘free speech’ for fascists!” and calls to “shut down” the neo-Nazi rally.

The unnamed FBI special agent “acknowledges that individuals and groups named in this [report] have been identified as participating in activities that are protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Their inclusion here is not intended to associate the protected activity with criminality or a threat to national security, or to infer that such protected activity itself violates federal law. However, based on the alleged actions of BAMN [long passage redacted] it is possible the actions of certain BAMN members may exceed the boundaries of protected activity and could constitute a violation of federal law. In the event no such violent activity occurs or is discovered, FBI policy and federal law dictates that no further record be made of the protected activity.”

To translate this into plainer language: BAMN members have not violated any laws and are exercising their right to free speech, but the FBI investigation is justified anyway because BAMN members “could” do things that “may” violate the law in the future. Notwithstanding the repeated statements of deference to the First Amendment and the right to free speech, this logic would justify FBI surveillance of any political activity at any time, since any lawful organization’s members “could” do something that “may” violate the law in the future.

The report states that an FBI special agent “researched BAMN and discovered that it was a national organization. The group had been active in the Berkeley, California and Oakland, California areas.” The special agent, whose name is redacted, “researched some historical activity of the group by reviewing police records and open source information from various events. In some, the group members lawfully exercised their First Amendment rights by engaging in peaceful protests. In other instances, the members engaged in other activity by refusing to disperse, trespassing in closed buildings, obstructing law enforcement, and shouting during and interrupting public meetings so that the meetings could not continue.”

Without endorsing such methods, disrupting meetings with shouting hardly equates to “domestic terrorism,” especially given that this report was generated in the context of a violent provocation by neo-Nazis and the KKK. Nor can any plausible argument be made that refusing orders by police officers to disperse is “domestic terrorism.”

The vague crime of “obstructing law enforcement” is frequently invoked by American police officers to justify arbitrary arrests and to cover up the use of excessive force. The FBI’s report takes it a step further, essentially implying that this ambiguous term equates to “domestic terrorism.”

The FBI has a long history of operating as a political police force aligned with reaction. This history includes the infamous wiretapping and harassment of Martin Luther King, Jr., as dramatized in the recent film Selma. The 2016 investigation of BAMN for allegedly conspiring to violate the rights of the KKK certainly resonates with this history, as BAMN itself was quick to point out.

Nevertheless, the most significant aspect of the FBI’s report is the invocation of the framework of the “war on terror” against domestic dissent.

The US government, after all, has asserted that alleged “terrorists” can be deemed “unlawful enemy combatants” who can be subjected to abduction, torture, and even secret assassination anywhere in the world. The entire globe as well as the interior of the US have been designated as the “battlefield” of the “global war on terror.” Under these conditions, the practice of labeling domestic dissent—in this case, opposition to a rally of neo-Nazis and the KKK, or even merely “refusing to disperse”—as “domestic terrorism” has ominous implications.

There is no reason to doubt that the FBI is targeting left-wing political dissent in the US more broadly with investigations, surveillance, and infiltration. In 2011, a FBI agent was exposed who had spent two and a half years infiltrating the Anti-War Committee (AWC) and later the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) in Minneapolis and Chicago. This agent’s activity preceded a series of government raids and subpoenas to 23 activists to testify before a grand jury based on allegations of providing “material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations.”

United States FBI boasts about attacking political left

This 19 January 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

FBI waged counterintelligence campaign against leftists, boasts ex-top official

Ex-official Terry Turchie admitted, “When I first got into the FBI one of the missions of the FBI in its counterintelligence efforts was to try to keep [progressives and socialists] out of government.” Turchie served as deputy assistant director of the counterterrorism division of the FBI, and made these remarks on Fox NewsTucker Carlson Tonight on 18 January 2019. While neoliberal centrist Democrats have portrayed the FBI as the Resistance™️, its former leaders are openly boasting of how they spent decades fighting against the left. In COINTELPRO, the FBI spied on and threatened leftists like Martin Luther King; and even killed communists like Fred Hampton.

Four years jail for police racism whistleblowing

This 14 April 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

How the FBI uses the Freedom of Information Act to track down whistleblowers

The FBI used a Freedom of Information Act request to track down a news organization’s source. Late last month, the FBI arrested Terry James Albury, a longtime agent in its Minneapolis field office.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

A former FBI agent has been sentenced to 4 years imprisonment for leaking confidential documents to the press. During the trial he said that he wanted to focus attention on racism in the police service, but according to the court, that is no excuse.

39-year-old Terry James Albury leaked more than seventy documents to the press. Fifty of them were confidential. Eg, to a news site he gave a document describing how the FBI judges secret informants.

Ethnic profiling

According to his lawyers, the black man was acting according to his conscience because he felt that the FBI had profiled ethnically in the fight against terrorism. The lawyers therefore wanted him to get a suspended sentence only. …

[Albury:] “I wanted to do the right thing and never had the intention to endanger anyone.” …

National security

The judge believes that Albury had no bad intentions. “But that is no reason to commit a crime, you knew that you committed an offense and jeopardized national security”, she said in her statement.

The Trump government is cracking down on leaking sensitive information to the press. Last year, the Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, said that now there were three times as many investigations into this crime as when Obama was president.

VIRGINIA COP PART OF WHITE NATIONALIST GROUP A Virginia police officer has been connected to white nationalist group Identity Evropa, joining a growing list of public employees who have been identified in a gargantuan leak of the group’s chat logs. [HuffPost]

Criticizing police brutality, ‘terrorism’ in the USA?

This video from the USA says about itself:

Black Activist Arrested Over Anti-Cop Facebook Post

16 May 2018

Rakem Balogun thought he was dreaming when armed agents in tactical gear stormed his apartment. Startled awake by a large crash and officers screaming commands, he soon realized his nightmare was real, and he and his 15-year-old son were forced outside of their Dallas home, wearing only underwear.

Handcuffed and shaking in the cold wind, Balogun thought a misunderstanding must have led the FBI to his door on 12 December 2017. The father of three said he was shocked to later learn that agents investigating “domestic terrorism” had been monitoring him for years and were arresting him that day in part because of his Facebook posts criticizing police.

Read more here.

United States FBI spying on Black Lives Matter

This 20 March 2018 video about the USA is called FBI Spied On Black Activists.

An Intercept report about that is here.

See also here.

Additional details continue to emerge about Saturday’s limousine crash in upstate New York, highlighting extreme negligence and indifference to human life from the limo operator and the state and federal governments. The crash, which killed 20 people, was the deadliest US transportation incident since a 2009 plane crash that killed 50 people. Among the most shocking revelations is that the owner of the limo company was Shahed Hussain, a key former informant and agent provocateur for the FBI, who was sent to troll mosques in order to entrap a number of individuals in “sting” operations involving fake terror plots that were of his and the FBI’s own making: here.