ACLU Alleges FBI Is Spying On American Muslims
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ACLU Alleges FBI Is Spying On American Muslims

New York City : NY : USA | Dec 02, 2011 at 7:17 PM PST
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December 2, 2011: The Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union (ACLU) is al­leg­ing that the FBI is il­le­gally gath­er­ing in­for­ma­tion on Mus­lims' po­lit­i­cal and re­li­gious af­fil­i­a­tions dur­ing out­reach meet­ings. The ACLU is basing these allegations on in­for­ma­tion gath­ered from in­ter­nal Fed­eral Bu­reau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion (FBI) own doc­u­ments.

Since the 9-11 ter­ror­ist attack, the FBI has been conducting, what is called "outreach" with Amer­i­can Mus­lims and Arab Amer­i­cans. The FBI claims they were work­ing with them to in­crease co­op­er­a­tion be­tween com­mu­ni­ties and fed­eral au­thor­i­ties. Yet the ACLU alleges the doc­u­ments, they ob­tained, show that the FBI has been using this "out­reach" to spy on Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties.

Supposedly some of the documents show FBI agents speak­ing at ca­reer days, brief­ing com­mu­nity mem­bers on FBI pro­grams and help­ing them work with po­lice to fight drug abuse. But these documents, per the ACLU, also indicate agents were record­ing So­cial Se­cu­rity num­bers and other iden­ti­fy­ing in­for­ma­tion of peo­ple after they meet, and, in at least one in­stance, not­ing their po­lit­i­cal views. It ap­pears, in some instances, the agents were even con­duct­ing fol­low-up in­ves­ti­ga­tions, but heavy processing in the doc­u­ments make it difficult if not im­pos­si­ble to de­ter­mine how far any ex­am­i­na­tion might have gone.

In one case, an agent wrote that he checked Cal­i­for­nia motor ve­hi­cle records on some­one the agent en­coun­tered at a Ra­madan din­ner at a San Fran­cisco Is­lamic as­so­ci­a­tion. One at­tendee is de­scribed as "very pro­gres­sive." An­other is called "very West­ern in ap­pear­ance and out­look."

The ACLU al­leges that this is spy­ing and it is il­le­gal. "It's dis­con­cert­ing that the FBI is en­gag­ing in il­le­gal spy­ing, and it is also trou­bling that the FBI is be­tray­ing the trust of the very Amer­i­can Mus­lims who have cho­sen to co­op­er­ate with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment in its goal of iden­ti­fy­ing and pre­vent­ing do­mes­tic rad­i­cal­iza­tion."

"The al­le­ga­tions them­selves are extremely damaging to the partnership," said the Mus­lim Pub­lic Af­fair Com­mit­tee's Ale­jan­dro J. Beu­tel to Talk­ing Points Memo. "Whether or not we're talk­ing about whether this is de­lib­er­ate or ac­ci­den­tal, we re­ally need to hear some im­me­di­ate clar­i­fi­ca­tion from of­fi­cials at the FBI be­cause it re­ally seems like the part­ner­ship, which has been very im­por­tant to keep­ing our na­tion safe and se­cure, has come under enor­mous strain, es­pe­cially in the past few months."

The FBI denied any wrongdoing, saying information gathered by outreach teams was not used for operational matters.

"Established policy requires that an appropriate separation be maintained between outreach and operational activities and includes several provisions to ensure this is the case," the FBI said in a statement. They added the "primary purpose" of outreach programs was "to enhance public trust in the FBI in order to enlist the cooperation of the public to fight criminal activity."

Brought to you by: Another break from the poetry

Sources: ThinkProgress, AFP

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Martin Kloess is based in San Francisco, California, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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