First Muslim lawmaker appointed to House Intelligence Committee

Lauren French for POLITICO: “Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced in a closed-door meeting Tuesday she would name the first Muslim lawmaker to the House’s Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Carson would be the first Muslim to serve on the committee and was the second Muslim to be elected to Congress. He already serves on the Armed Services Committee and worked for the Department of Homeland Security’s Fusion Center — the clearinghouse established by the federal government to streamline data sharing between the CIA, FBI, Department of Justice and the military.
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Hooligans against Salafism

Throughout October, hooligans from different football clubs marched in German cities against radical Islam and Salafism. Building a coalition and network under the heading “HoGeSa”, Hooligans Against Salafists (Hooligans gegen Salafisten), they demonstrated by the end of October in Cologne. Police and intelligence services were not only surprised by the number of attendees, which was tripled by the estimated 1500, but unable to cope with the violence involved. The demonstrations planned in Hamburg and Berlin for mid-November both were canceled. In case of Hamburg the organizers themselves withdraw the demonstration while in the case of Berlin the network never registered the demonstration properly. Now “HoGeSa” is planning another demonstration for the 15th November which is going to take place in Hannover.

 

This is What the NYPD’s Failed Muslim Surveillance Program Actually Looked Like

April 17, 2014

 

On Tuesday, the NYPD announced it would dismantle its Demographics Unit, the controversial squad of plainclothes officers tasked with monitoring and gathering intelligence in New York’s Muslim neighborhoods. The announcement was greeted with a mix of praise (for the move, considered long overdue) and skepticism (that the department would actually end the practice of mass, suspicion-less surveillance of Muslims).

The NYPD’s announcement came a week after Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and his intelligence chief, John Miller, met with Muslim advocates, according to the New York Times.

The Demographics Unit, first revealed by the Associated Press in 2011, sought to root out terrorists among us. Instead it severely damaged relations between the NYPD and New York Muslims without, by the department’s own admission, ever generating a single lead.

What did the failed surveillance program look like in practice? Data artist Josh Begley created a visual aid using images from NYPD documents obtained by the AP, most dated between 2004 to 2009. Begley terms the arresting web mosaic “the visual vernacular of NYPD surveillance.”

“The photographs come from a range of places — restaurants, bookstores, cricket fields, mosques, internet cafes — and most of the images are quite banal. What I find striking are the ones that contain glimpses of the photographer; a rear-view mirror capturing the bottom of an officer’s face. What do these photographs say about the people taking them?”

Profiling.is bears a certain resemblance to another of Begley’s projects, PrisonMap; it offers a bird’s-eye view of prisons around the country. (He also runs the Twitter account @dronestream, which issues a tweet for every reported drone strike.)*

Linda Sarsour of the Arab American Association of New York, one of the advocates who met with Bratton and Miller last week, echoed that sentiment. Speaking to the Times on Tuesday, she called the NYPD’s surveillance “psychological warfare in our community.”

“Those documents, they showed where we live. That’s the cafe where I eat. That’s where I pray. That’s where I buy my groceries. They were able to see their entire lives on those maps. And it completely messed with the psyche of the community.”

Asked about his reaction to Tuesday’s news, Begley pointed to a statement given by Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project.

“The Demographics Unit was only one component of a huge, discriminatory surveillance program that has sent informants and NYPD officers to spy on mosques, charities, student groups, and other mainstays of New York Muslim life,” Shamsi said on Tuesday. “We look forward to an end to all aspects of the bias-based policing that has stigmatized New York’s Muslim communities and done them such great harm.”

The Village Voice.com: http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2014/04/josh_begley_profiling_is_nypd_demographics_unit.php

CIA made doctors torture suspected terrorists after 9/11, taskforce finds

November 3, 2013

 

Doctors were asked to torture detainees for intelligence gathering, and unethical practices continue, review concludes Doctors and psychologists working for the US military violated the ethical codes of their profession under instruction from the defence department and the CIA to become involved in the torture and degrading treatment of suspected terrorists, an investigation has concluded.

The report of the Taskforce on Preserving Medical Professionalism in National Security Detention Centres concludes that after 9/11, health professionals working with the military and intelligence services “designed and participated in cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and torture of detainees”.

Medical professionals were in effect told that their ethical mantra “first do no harm” did not apply, because they were not treating people who were ill.

The report lays blame primarily on the defence department (DoD) and the CIA, which required their healthcare staff to put aside any scruples in the interests of intelligence gathering and security practices that caused severe harm to detainees, from waterboarding to sleep deprivation and force-feeding.

The CIA’s office of medical services played a critical role in advising the justice department that “enhanced interrogation” methods, such as extended sleep deprivation and waterboarding, which are recognised as forms of torture, were medically acceptable. CIA medical personnel were present when waterboarding was taking place, the taskforce says.

Although the DoD has taken steps to address concerns over practices at Guantánamo Bay in recent years, and the CIA has said it no longer has suspects in detention, the taskforce says that these “changed roles for health professionals and anaemic ethical standards” remain.

“The American public has a right to know that the covenant with its physicians to follow professional ethical expectations is firm regardless of where they serve,” said Dr Gerald Thomson, professor of medicine emeritus at Columbia University and member of the taskforce.

 

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/04/cia-doctors-torture-suspected-terrorists-9-11

Snowden Document: NSA Spied On Al Jazeera Communications

Al_Jazeera_AmericaLeaked documents reportedly reveal the spy agency hacked into Al Jazeera internal communications

 

Documents leaked by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden show that the US spy agency hacked into Al Jazeera’s internal communications, German magazine Der Spiegel reported Saturday.

 

One of the documents, reportedly seen by Der Spiegel and dating back to March 23, 2006, claims the NSA managed to access and read communications sent to the news organization by “interesting targets.” The German magazine did not specify what those targets were.

 

This latest revelation, revealling that NSA’s scope of spy programs extended to monitoring Al Jazeera, comes two days after the Washington Post published Snowden’s leak of the U.S. “black budget” for intelligence agencies. That reports claimed that despite massive spending and a broad network of surveillance and international espionage facilities, the US still had ‘blind spots’ where key national security questions continued to elude the intelligence community.

 

Another report by Der Spiegel last week claimed that leaked documents show that NSA hacked United Nations video calls. The magazine said the European Union and the U.N.’s Vienna-based nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), were also among those targeted by U.S. intelligence agents.

 

Right-wing terrorism by the National Socialist Underground – A dossier by the Coordination Council of Muslims

Nov 2012

 

In 2012, the Coordination Council of Muslims has summarized the chronology of the National Socialist Underground (NSU) murders and the reactions to these crimes in a dossier, which is available in German, English and Turkish. The role of the government and its security services in the present is critically analysed. The council claims to re-establish the trust of its citizens and in particular its Muslim citizens in the intelligence services, which was lost as a result of the NSU acts of terrorism. Without this trust it is not possible to feel safe and at home in Germany. Growing Islamophobia and racism in the public are further critical references of the council.

 

NSU_Dossier_Englisch

Boston, London, Paris attacks highlight intelligence dilemma as al-Qaida shifts tactics

Intelligence agencies that have succeeded in thwarting many of al-Qaida’s plans for spectacular attacks are struggling to combat the terror network’s strategy of encouraging followers to keep to themselves, use off-the-shelf weapons and strike when they see an opportunity.

In recent weeks — at the Boston Marathon, in the streets of London and in the shadow of one of Paris’ most recognizable monuments — young men allegedly carried out attacks with little help, using inexpensive, widely available knives and explosives from everyday ingredients. In each of the attacks, suspects had previously been flagged to law enforcement and deemed not to be a priority.

There are no indications that the suspects in the recent attacks were responding specifically to al-Qaida calls to act in a vacuum — but their alleged actions closely follow the lone wolf model that the network has been promoting.

A tough debate now rages within the intelligence community — previously focused on searching for al-Qaida cells — on how to assess red flags without violating basic liberties.

 

U.S. Delegates Visit Moscow for Insight on Boston Attack

Members of a Congressional delegation visiting Moscow to investigate the background of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects said Sunday that the attack might have been prevented by greater cooperation between the United States and Russia on intelligence issues and counterterrorism efforts.

But the lawmakers said they could not point to any specific misstep by the American or Russia intelligence services, and they did not offer any new insights into what motivated the suspects, two brothers with family ties in Russia’s North Caucasus, to commit the attack.

“Yes, it could have been averted,” said Representative Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican who led the delegation and is the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and emerging threats. “Not just by one mistake by the United States or one mistake made over here in Russia, but instead by making sure that both countries were working together on a much higher level.”

Adding an odd celebrity touch, the lawmakers were joined by the action-film star Steven Seagal, who has a following in Russia. Mr. Seagal had helped arrange meetings and even offered to take the lawmakers to Chechnya to meet Ramzan Kadyrov, the region’s leader, who has been accused of human rights abuses.

The Chechnya visit was called off for logistical reasons, but Mr. Rohrbacher thanked Mr. Seagal and said he was instrumental in securing some meetings, including a session with Dmitri Rogozin, a deputy prime minister. “I don’t know that he would have been available to us if not for Steven’s role,” Mr. Rohrbacher said.

 

House committee hearing on Boston bombings Thursday, as investigators continue to trace activities of Tsarnaev brothers

The House Committee on Homeland Security will hold a hearing Thursday on the deadly bombings, which killed three and injured more than 200. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), the committee’s chairman, called for the hearing to investigate and review what U.S. agencies knew about the alleged bombers before the attacks.

Some reports have suggested that one of the brothers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, met withmilitants in the strife-torn region of Dagestan last year during his six months in Russia. But one U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that issue was “still in the category of question marks.”

At the same time, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are trying to trace the gun that Tsarnaev allegedly used in a gunfight with police before he was killed April 19. They are hoping that identifying the first purchaser of the gun could shed light on where Tsarnaev obtained the firearm.

A U.S. official said that the FBI, the National Counterterrorism Center and the Department of Homeland Security are developing a formal intelligence assessment on the factors that moved the Tsarnaevs toward hard-line Islamist views, and whether there was a single development or tipping point in their alleged turn to violence.

“We need to understand it to counter it,” the official said. “From that we look at how do you put a brake in the radicalization process, and can you put something in that path to detect it.”

The official said the research, which involves experts on radicalization at NCTC and other agencies, is expected to take several months, culminating in a formal intelligence assessment that could be distributed across the executive branch.

Is the FBI unable to ‘talk about jihad’?

“We see with the new FBI terminology and the new intelligence terminology, they can’t talk about the enemy. They can’t talk about jihad. They can’t talk about Muslim. They can’t talk about Islam.”— Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), speech on the House floor, April 26, 2013

 

Has the FBI been hamstrung in its investigation of the Boston Marathon bombers because of a “purge” of training materials deemed by the Obama administration to be offensive to various ethnic and religious groups?

 

That’s a claim that Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) keeps raising on the House floor and in media interviews— a point echoed by Sean Hannity on Fox News. (Hannity cites Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) as his source.)

 

Gohmert is a controversial figure who also recently made the unsubstantiated charge that the Obama administration is staffed with “many Muslim Brotherhood members that have influence.”

That’s a bizarre assertion, mostly ignored. But his comments on FBI practices have gained wide circulation, so let’s explore the basis of that claim.