From CQ Politics: Like Hansel and Gretel hoping to follow their bread crumbs out of the forest, the FBI sifted through customer data collected by San Francisco-area grocery stores in 2005 and 2006, hoping that sales records of Middle Eastern food would lead to Iranian terrorists. The idea was that a spike in, say, falafel sales, combined with other data, would lead to Iranian secret agents in the south San Francisco-San Jose area.
Now that we’ve all accepted torture as a legitimate tool of the US government, the question is simply when it’s appropriate. The answer seems to be: pretty much any time the government doesn’t like what you’re doing. Navy Veteran Donald Vance became aware of illegal arms sales in Iraq—land mines, rocket launchers, that sort of thing. He reported it to the FBI. In return, he was imprisoned as a “combatant” for 97 days and tortured.
Online forum SomethingAwful managed to raise $27,695 to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Then suddenly, PayPal locked the account. When someone finally managed to contact PayPal, they were informed that PayPal has an exclusive contract with United Way—and that United Way’s contract would not allow PayPal funds to be transferred to the Red Cross. Yup: United Way and PayPal would rather block $27k in relief funds, than allow the money to go to the Red Cross.
Think you’re registered to vote? Better check, if you still have time… An employee of a private voter registration firm alleges that his bosses trashed registration forms filled out by Democratic voters because they only wanted to sign up Republican voters. […] Russell worked for a company called Voters Outreach of America, along with 300 other people. He says he got into a beef with the company over a pay dispute, and witnessed his bosses ripping up registration forms that had been filed by democrats.
Seymour Hersh is the journalist who broke the story of the My Lai massacre, a Pulitzer prize winner. He’s got a new book out. Expect to see it rubbished extensively on TV. Evidence of prisoner abuse and possible war crimes at Guantánamo Bay reached the highest levels of the Bush administration as early as autumn 2002, but Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, chose to do nothing about it, according to a new investigation published exclusively in the Guardian today.
The 9/11 Commission recommended setting up an organization to help safeguard civil liberties. Sure enough the Bush administration has gone ahead and created a President’s Board on Safeguarding Americans’ Civil Liberties. Ignoring for the moment the issue that civil liberties should, constitutionally, be protected for everyone and not just US citizens, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the people who are being put in charge of safeguarding your freedoms.
Two days after the Sept. 11 attacks, with most of the nation’s air traffic still grounded, a small jet landed at Tampa International Airport, picked up three young Saudi men and left. […] For nearly three years, White House, aviation and law enforcement officials have insisted the flight never took place and have denied published reports and widespread Internet speculation about its purpose. But now, at the request of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks, TIA officials have confirmed that the flight did take place and have supplied details.
So, that memo which mentioned that Al Qaeda was in America, planning a terrorist action, probably involving hijacking a plane, probably like the attack on the World Trade Center… Remember how we were told there was no reason to take it seriously? Well, in early 2000 a Muslim spent a ton of money in Atlantic City, then turned himself in to the FBI. He told them that he had been in training, learning to fly a passenger jet.
Authorities have located weapons of mass destruction. Actual weapons of mass destruction, enough illegal chemical weapons to kill thousands of Americans. The weapons were located on American soil. For years, William Krar lived with his common-law wife Judith Bruey in New Hampshire. Krar first came to the attention of police in 1985, when he was arrested in New Hampshire for impersonating a police officer. In 1989, he started fighting back against the Federal government in the traditional New Hampshire style—he stopped paying taxes.
It was recently uncovered that Denver Police Department’s intelligence database was being used to track members of Amnesty International and other similar groups, on the grounds that they were “criminal extremists”. None of the people being tracked had any criminal convictions or arrests on their records. The tracking began before 9/11. Denver police blamed a secretary for the “mistake”. The “mistake” surfaced because Denver Police shared their database with neighboring cities, and someone with a conscience at one of the neighboring police departments leaked the documents to the press.