April 18, 2012
By Alan Phillips, J.D.
“So New York thinks children are smart enough to make their own health decisions. If this is the case, why not let them eat ice cream for dinner?” –KTRN
New York’s A343 and S384, if enacted into law, will give children the right to consent to HPV and Hep B vaccines, without the knowledge and consent of their parents. Regardless of your position on vaccines, these bills set a disturbing precedent in violation of the U.S. Constitution. If you live in New York, take or send this Memorandum of Law to your state representatives, along with any other concerns you may have, to oppose these bills!
As a starting place, constituents are “one person with one vote.” If your position is one held by a minority, which is usually the case with vaccine freedom-of-choice advocates, legislative activism is an up-hill battle. But legislative activism involves the art of persuasion, since ultimately, legislatures can enact any law they have the votes for, Constitutional or not. So, if you can tell your representative, “I don’t like this bill” and why that can be persuasive, but if you can add to that, “and by the way, you can’t enact this bill into law because it’s unconstitutional,” you can substantially bolster your “one person, one vote” starting point. Furthermore, a loud minority can often influence legislation considerably, and a compelling legal argument can add considerable “volume” to your position. So, if this Memorandum represents your views, then given a copy to your NY rep today!
Meanwhile, here’s a summary of some of the legal and other problems with NY’s A343 and S384:
1. They are unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court has stated: “Most children, even in adolescence, simply are not able to make sound judgments concerning many decisions, including their need for medical care or treatment. Parents can and must make those judgments.” Giving medical decision-making authority to children violates parents’ 14th Amendment Constitutional due process right to parent their children. When the state takes parental decision-making away from parents, it is essentially saying that the parents are unfit to make those decisions. When the state gives that authority to children, it is saying that kids are fit to make decisions that the parents aren’t fit to make. Rather absurd, isn’t it?!
2. These NY bills violate parents’ First Amendment “free exercise” of religion. Parents, and not children, have the legal authority to exercise a vaccine religious exemption for their children under N.Y. Pub. Health Law § 2164(9). They also violate the NY State Constitution’s religious liberty section, which supports NY parents’ right to refuse vaccines for their children for religious reasons.
3. These bills violate the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, which requires “each healthcare provider who administers a vaccine” to “provide to the legal representatives of any child” a copy of information “prior to the administration of the vaccine.” A child can’t consent to the administration of a vaccine without the parent’s knowledge and consent if the person administering the vaccine must first give the parent vaccine information. If healthcare providers administer a vaccine to a child without first giving the required information to parents, they are violating federal law, and in the process, probably violating state medical ethical rules at the same time (because of violating federal law), subjecting themselves to discipline by their state medical, nursing, or other relevant boards.
February 22, 2012
By Hanni Fakhoury
“The US government is afraid of its own people. They know we have the power to chance everything.” –KTRN
On October 1, 2011, over 700 Occupy Wall Street protesters were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge. Most of the protesters, including Malcolm Harris, were charged with the mundane crime of disorderly conduct, a “violation” under New York law that has a maximum punishment of 15 days in jail or a $250 fine.
And yet on the basis of a charge no more consequential than speeding ticket, the New York City District Attorney’s office sent a poorly worded subpoena to Twitter requesting “any and all user information, including email address, as well as any and all tweets posted for the period of 9/15/2011-12/31/2011″ regarding Mr. Harris’ Twitter account, @destructuremal. Unsurprisingly, the government wanted to keep it quiet, but thankfully Twitter didn’t listen. Instead, as it has consistently warned law enforcement, Twitter notified Mr. Harris, who through his lawyer, Martin Stolar of the National Lawyers Guild, has moved to challenge the subpoena in court.
The subpoena is astonishing not only for its poor grammar, but also for the breadth of information the government wants for a trivial crime that hardly requires it. The government’s request that Twitter hand over Tweets is unlikely to succeed because consistent with the Stored Communications Act, Twitter releases “contents of communication” (effectively Tweets and private messages between Twitter users) only with a search warrant. In any event, Mr. Harris’ account is “public”, meaning the government could obtain Tweets simply by checking out Mr. Harris’ Twitter feed. Plus, requesting Tweets only highlights the absurdity of the entire situation: why would the government need Tweets from both before and after the October 1 protest to prove he was obstructing traffic on the bridge? In any event, government fishing expeditions like this raise serious First Amendment concerns. Mr. Harris was very outspoken about his support of and involvement in the Occupy Wall Street movement. With this overbroad subpoena, the government would be able to learn about who Mr. Harris was communicating with for an extensive period of time not only through Tweets, but through direct messages. And with the government’s request for all email addresses associated with @destructuremal, they could subpoena Mr. Harris’ email provider to get even more information about who he communicated with. The First Amendment shouldn’t be trampled with only an expansive subpoena in a case that barely registers as “criminal.”
Given that much of Mr. Harris’ Twitter information (like Tweets and followers) is already public, it’s very likely that the government was really after something else: location data. By attempting to subpoena these records, the government can get around the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against warrantless searches by requesting information that includes IP addresses. Twitter keeps track of IP address information regarding every time a person logged into Twitter, as well as the IP address information related to a Twitter user’s direct messages to other users, and the date and time information related to these log ins and direct messages. Armed with IP addresses, the government — without a warrant — can go to an ISP to determine who was assigned that particular IP address. And if that person connected on a mobile device — which is where the majority of Twitter users access their accounts — the ISP will hand over to the government the specific cell tower (and its corresponding geographic location) which that person used to access Twitter. This allows the government to piece together a map of where a person physically is when he opens Twitter on his smartphone, sends a direct message to a friend, or Tweets. And with that information, the government could get a record of Mr. Harris’ movement over the three months it requested from Twitter. Its no surprise then that the government singled out Mr. Harris for this request: he currently has over 1,500 followers and 7,200 Tweets.
February 1, 2012
By Roger Marsh
“Another UFO sighting. They keep coming.” –KTRN
A Long View, NC, witness reports observing a 100-foot-long, oval-shaped object flying under 200 feet that moved over Highway 70, turned, “shrank to a black dot and then disappeared as if it shot forward at an impossible speed about 11:15 a.m. on January 30, 2012, according to testimony from the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) witness reporting database.
The witness had just turned onto westbound Highway 70 when the object was first noticed and assumed to be an airplane moving just above the high tension power lines between 150 and 200 feet in the air and traveling left to right.
“I first thought the object was an airplane coming from the nearby Hickory Airport,” the witness stated. “I did wonder why it was so low and that caught my attention.”
The witness described the object.
“The object was oblong, oval, maybe 100 feet long and bulged in the middle to maybe 30-40 feet at the center. The sun was behind me and glaring off the craft and I thought at first that the sun’s glare was hiding the wings. The object was whitish in color but seemed to reflect the sun like metal.”
The object moved over the roadway that the witness was driving on – and about one-quarter mile ahead.
“It then turned and this is when it got interesting. It did not turn the way an airplane turns – it pivoted around its midsection. It got right over the center of the highway, then rotated until it was in line with the road.”
The witness had a different view of the object now.
“The object was oval from the side, but as it turned I could see it was like a sub bun and looked circular from behind. It had no wings at all. I could see this clearly now. The back of the craft was the same white metal color, but in the center rear of the craft was a black featureless circle.”
The object then seemed to disappear quickly.
January 27, 2012
By Jonathan Benson
Standardized testing is a common method by which colleges and universities evaluate the competency of applying high school students. But an increasing amount of students are cheating on such tests, which has caused lawmakers in New York to consider actually harvesting “digital DNA” from students and applying it to special ID cards that students would be required to furnish both before and after taking the SAT or ACT exams to prove their identities.
The digital DNA card idea was birthed after a major cheating scandal at Great Neck North High School on Long Island. Students struggling with their studies and the standardized test protocol apparently hired Sam Eshaghoff, a former student who performed well on his own SAT exam, to take the test for them in exchange for cash.
Dr. James Hayward from the applied DNA sciences lab at Stony Brook University, which is currently working on perfecting digital DNA technology, claims it is “absolutely unbreakable for securing the identity of a student taking the SAT exam.” He explained to lawmakers in Albany, NY, recently that a student’s identity code is wirelessly uploaded to an IT “cloud,” which allows test proctors to remotely access it and verify that it matches both that student’s digital DNA card and his or her actual image.
January 11, 2012
By Michael Gormley
Following fatal shootings in two New York pharmacy robberies, a U.S. senator is warning that a new batch of “super painkillers” now under review could force repeats of recent violent robberies that left six people dead.
“It’s tremendously concerning that at the same time policymakers and law enforcement professionals are waging a war on the growing prescription drug crisis, new super-drugs could well be on their way, flooding the market,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. “The FDA needs to grab the reins and slow down the stampede to introduce these powerful narcotics.”
A message seeking comment from the Food and Drug Administration was not immediately returned Friday.
The Associated Press reported last month about addiction experts’ fears over four drugs being tested that contain a more powerful version of one of the nation’s most abused painkillers – hydrocodone.
Schumer is particularly concerned about legalizing the drugs for prescriptions because they would be prized commodities in the black market.
Experts say painkiller addiction has been driven partly by a loophole in the 1970 Controlled Substances Act that classified pure hydrocodone – a super painkiller – as a strictly controlled Schedule II drug. But the law put combination products, such as pills containing hydrocodone and acetaminophen, into the less strict Schedule III.
Because of the loophole, patients can refill a prescription for a hydrocodone-acetaminophen drug like Vicodin up to five times. A prescription for a similar oxycodone product, such as Percocet, can be filled only once. Critics say the loophole has flooded American medicine cabinets with hydrocodone.
January 6, 2012
“You be the judge. Is he planting drugs, or did they ‘fall out of his pocket?’ Looks suspicious to us. –KTRN
Two cops in Upstate New York are under investigation for allegedly planting narcotics in the car of a couple pulled over in the city of Utica.
The incident, which occurred on February 11, 2011, is being reexamined nearly a year later after the cops involved in the caper have been caught on tape creating “evidence” and placing narcotics in the suspects’ automobile.
The recording of the incident, unbeknownst to the officers, was being made by the camera in their own squad car.
The Utica Phoenix newspaper has come in possession of the recording and has since uploaded an excerpt of the footage to the Web. In the clip, a Utica Police Department officer is seen ushering a suspect in handcuffs away from his vehicle, then approaching the driver-side door, reaching into his back pocket and pulling out a small baggie. The officer then crawls into the car, appears to drop the item in question and shortly thereafter exits the vehicle with the drugs that were allegedly confiscated from the car.
According to the Venice Ervin of a local NAACP chapter, the clip clearly shows Officer Paul Paladino, a white officer, planting evidence in the car of two black suspects.
The video has gone viral since first posted this week, garnering enough hits to temporarily cause the Utica Phoenix’s website to go down. The local Police Department has fired back at the allegations, however, and insists that Officer Paladino came in contact with the evidence earlier in the search and had placed it in his pocket for safekeeping.
“You can put the evidence on your person to maintain custody of it until you have a chance to store it,” Williams and Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara explains. “Where else are you going to put it, on the ground? In the course of searching someone, sometimes the only thing you’ve got is your pockets until a short time later you can put it all together.”
To others, that seems too far-fetched to be the truth.
November 8, 2011
By Scott Neuman
“Keep up the fight, occupiers. You’re making them mad. This is good. –KTRN
The nationwide Occupy movement might be targeting Wall Street, but it’s arguably municipal governments that have felt the biggest impact so far.
Protesters have staged weeks-long sit-ins at public spaces in cities from New York to Atlanta to Pittsburgh to Oakland, Calif. Although the demonstrations have been largely peaceful, hundreds of protesters have been arrested and there have been a handful of violent clashes with law enforcement.
Occupy has put mayors of these cities in a delicate situation: balancing respect for civil liberties with the need to maintain law and order and limit the protests’ physical toll. The cost of policing the demonstrations has skyrocketed, and there is increasing concern over public sanitation in occupied parks and about keeping protesters safe, especially as winter nears.
And so far, there’s no sign that cold weather will put an end to the demonstrations.
“I’m planning to be the last one left in the park,” says 18-year-old Ethan Johnson, a North Carolinian at the Occupy D.C. encampment in the city’s McPherson Square. “And that’s at least until New Year’s.”
A Unique Challenge
David Sklansky, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, says the protests present a unique challenge for city officials and law enforcement.
“There are political questions to be answered here about how municipalities and their police forces weigh not only the interests in public safety but also their interests in maintaining public order and access to public spaces,” Sklansky says. “How do they do that in the context of a movement that has many members of the public as well as elected representatives sympathetic to it?”
A national poll published this week by the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, and The Boston Herald suggests that Americans have a better impression of Occupy than of Wall Street. Of the 1,005 adults surveyed, 35 percent had a favorable impression of the Occupy movement, while 16 percent said the same for Wall Street and big business.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, has said he supports protesters’ right to assemble but that they can’t camp outside City Hall indefinitely. He led a recent conference call with seven other mayors to discuss how to handle the Occupy movement and, among other things, the impact on transportation, city services and costs.
Officials in Atlanta said late last month that the Occupy movement could cost the city $300,000. And in New York — where Occupy Wall Street began — police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has put the costs of extra security due to the protests at $2 million.
In Oakland — where protests shut down the city’s port last week and police fired tear gas during violent clashes with some demonstrators — Mayor Jean Quan told The San Jose Mercury News that the overtime bill for law enforcement would “bite heavily” into the city’s budget.
She put the cost at $700,000 and said the outlay meant that fewer community services would be available.
September 13, 2011
By: Andrew McKillop
Ceremonies in the USA, Europe and in other regions and countries where 9/11 business is taken seriously have, with time, shifted focus. The annual show of gravitas and determination to fight and win the War on Terror, cranked up on back of the New York and Washington attacks of September 2001, has a new objective: deflecting, parrying and diluting a scary future.
FESTIVAL OF WAR
Trends forecasters will all tell you that future look bad and the economy looks even worse. But George W. Bush and Barack Obama still stand together, united to fight evil, with a show of force at Ground Zero. As anyone can guess, putting white ribbons in the hair of US schoolchildren is more newsworthy(and cheaper) than treating cancer victims from the tens of thousands of tons of asbestos, insecticides and dioxin that spewed out as the Twin Towers, and building WTC 7(untouched by any airplane) dramatically crashed to the ground in seconds.
Public solidarity and national pride are important at this dangerous time, hence, 9/11 festivities have been internationalized with an attempt is being made- like attempts in Europe and Japan, to import the US Halloween-style festival and to capitalize on its commercial spin-offs. For the 9/11 ‘festival of hope’, the goal is justifying the military invasions and occupations of both Afghanistan and Iraq. This new war festival however generates nothing in revenues and costs vast sums of public cash on an unwinnable war – an exact remake of the Soviet Union’s lost war in Afghanistan – proving that other people can be just as stupid as the Soviets.
Never mind the blowback of pure hatred against the west that the 9/11 farce generates right across the Muslim world and south Asia. What counts is the official, reassuring and idiot-friendly version of “what really happened” in New York and Washington in Sept 2001. This is now a mass market comfort theme, belted out by all mainstream media and is a precious link with a receding and different past.
FEAR OF THE FUTURE
In September 2011 the US political, corporate and media elites and their European fellow travellers- call them running dogs or yippy poodles, have saturated world media with all-day-long special reports on the Atrocity of the Century. Time is also shrewdly allocated for marginalizing skeptics, or “truthers”. Shame on you, if you don’t believe.
The real focus has changed however:
9/11 is now a strange mixture of alternate reality and new religion.
9/11 is now the official way to forget the present and future of debts, deficits, unemployment and economic crises – if only for an excruciatingly long weekend.
For the American economy – and most other developed economies, from the European Union to Japan – the real crisis is the amount of money paid to commercial bankers and insurers over the last four years. What happened to it? Will Greece collapse, taking Europe’s banks with it, like a collapsing Twin Tower as the fires of its sovereign debt light the higher floors of the Tower of Doom?
For American banks, filings to the US Securities and Exchange Commission show that the bailout sums handed to them by G W Bush and Barry Obama now stands, in September 2011, at an astounding $2 200 billion, or $2.2 trillion, racked up in a little more than 4 years. European commercial banks have received less well-defined, better hidden bailouts from public funds, but likely amounts to September 2011 are probably $ 1.75 trillion; Japan’s ruined banks have received more than $ 750 billion.
Still, all the banks will require more, a lot more. This is because, like the 9/11 fantasy, the show has to go on. The serial rout of banks and their related and dependent insurance companies, brokers and investment houses will continue.
Extrapolating over the coming decade and only for the USA, the total amounts to be taken by the financial sector, led by the banks, will approach over $5 trillion.
Yet, no European, Japanese or American political decider, either in power or in opposition, so terribly and publicly concerned about 9/11 once a year, shows any sign of being willing to cut future debt-driven bailouts for private banks. This will inevitably produce further and deeper government deficits.
This stubborn refusal to face reality can be compared with the child-like official belief the Twin Towers and WTC 7 fell down almost instantly due to burning jet fuel and “all by themselves”. Ignoring reality and denying the future, the critical banking crisis is also another whipped-dog attempt to not admit failure and muddle through another day. Doing this, increasingly surely, the ultimate economic catastrophe becomes possible: the collapse of all world moneys, the complete implosion of the global economy. Real war would almost certainly follow – not playacting with bearded hermits in Afghan caves and drone attacks on Yemenite brigands, Pakistani goatherders and bandits – but even the playact War on Terror does not come cheap.
WAR AND DEBT
For the USA, the ultimate big spender on supposedly small surgical conflicts and humanitarian interventions “over the horizon”, the amounts spent are relatively well known: probable US war spending in the 10 years since 2001 totals between $ 2.2 and $ 2.8 trillion – much less than the banks have been able to siphon, in the last 3 years.
The ugly truth of this matter is that none of this cash can be invested in protecting US jobs, building roads, schools, factories, hospitals, offices, public transport or any other long-term projects. Public cash is showered on the financial, defense sectors, and overseas contracts creating a few high cost jobs but in general this money is directly transferred from spending in the real economy, to the shadow economy of bank executives, employees and shareholders, off-shore holding companies and our clean fingernailed Indiana Jones heroes killing villagers and rendering taxi drivers somewhere over the horizon.
While the bank executives come out as big winners, this is not at all the case for bank employees faced with recurring and massive redundancy programs, nor for bank shareholders, or the average grunt soldier. Real bank and finance sector share values in the USA, Europe and Japan are again in free fall, tumbling in unison, by 33 percent to more than 65 percent in the 5 weeks from August 1st, 2011 to the present.
More transfers – politely called “bank recapitalization” – will soon be needed. These transfers represent a cunning tax on everyone else, whether private citizen and consumers or economically active entities.
Most incredibly, these are rich rewards for those “players” who helped cause, and then intensify today’s financial and economic troubles that affect all countries of the developed world. This tiny percentage (well below 5 percent) of all persons and all economic entities in the affected countries is the only class that is not suffering from the crisis they have caused – and in many cases the perpetrators of the crime are massively benefiting from the aggravation of the global crisis.
Their operating mode and methods can seem puzzling in many respects. Combining some aspects of classic and crude Ponzi chain letter scams, with large and sophisticated compensation schemes for their partners (notably in the insurance sector), masking the risks of supposedly low-probability, high-impact “Black Swan” events with complex multi-stage financial instruments, these inveterate but losing gamblers have only one backstop.
At all times they count on implicit public guarantees. When things get worse, they ask for more.
The military and security services, whether the US Army or the new Afghan Army supposedly loyal to Hamid Karzai, whether the USA’s FBI and CIA or France’s DGSE and the UK’s MI5 and MI6 are all similar in the dependence on the public purse. When things get worse – they also ask for more. Using the financial analogy of leverage rather than skills, of pouring oil on fires already burning, then demanding public money to quench the fires and calm the rout, the defence and security establishment has only mimicked the blackmailing scam of failed financial gamblers.
RISK AND REWARD
As we know, the corporate kleptocracy which operates the world’s biggest banks and insurance companies has a simple strategy: privatize the profits and offload the losses to anybody else, meaning governments and taxpayers. Simply because of this, all central banks and monetary authorities have no choice at all but to keep interest rates at artificially low levels. Both publicly, and secretly they give loans at extreme low rates of interest to the banks, like obedient poodles.
The defense and security mafias, establishment or sector operates a strategy of self preservation and profiteering that is also simple. Without war, it cannot continue to grow, but war is no longer possible with new, potential, and very dangerous enemies such as China and India, and other large well-armed nations – able to hit back devastatingly hard. War must now be targeted at small countries with small armies – and of course no nuclear weapons. The search for enemies is also brought back home, inside the home countries of this evil doctrine, creating the police state at war with its own population.
Since 2001, the search for, and manufacture of new enemies has been crowned with success. The reward for the defence and security elites is immense: although well behind the grab made by the banking elites, the equivalent of around 2.5 trillion dollars has been spent by the US alone in a single decade on fantasist and unreal enemies, without ever facing any armed forces able to hit back with deadly force. What could be more courageous and progressive?
For the banking and financial mafia, like the defense and security establishment, the risk of massive or total loss was always hidden, always denied. But with another hollow celebration of the 9/11 farce, and another intensification of the European and US banking and debt crises, the potential for total loss on all fronts rises, yet again. For private bankers and insurers, brokers and exchange operators who systematically lied about the risks of their 24/7 gambling spree, and the defense and security mafia who promote the lie about 9/11 and the risk of “asymmetric” wars – we have moved so close to the precipice that denying this reality is harder and harder, each and every day.
As Barack Obama said on Sunday September 11, 2011: “God is our refuge”.
September 12, 2011
By: Paul Joseph Watson
The consequences of a “credible and specific” warning that terrorists were planning to blow up bridges or tunnels on the anniversary of 9/11 turned into a police state showcase and ended in a farce when fighter jets were scrambled as a response to people visiting airplane bathrooms.
Following days of endless fearmongering prompted by a “reliable source” who provided “uncorroborated” information that Al-Qaeda was planning to strike this weekend, we were saturated with images of police brazenly violating the 4th amendment by conducting sweeping vehicle and bag searches, national guard troops with guns, and random checkpoints, all serving as a reminder that the terrorists really did win.
But what became of the deadly terror plot? Was the attempt foiled by the suffocating but necessary “security” procedures?
“Fighter planes were scrambled, bomb squads were called, FBI command centers went on alert and police teams raced to airports today, but in the end two separate airline incidents were caused by apparently innocent bathroom breaks and a little “making out,” federal officials said,” reports ABC News.
F-16 fighter jets were scrambled to follow a Frontier Airlines flight from Denver to Detroit after reports that three passengers, two men and a woman, were acting “suspiciously” and spending lengthy amounts of time in the bathroom.
After landing in Detroit, police stormed the plane with guns drawn and ordered everybody to put their heads down and their hands on the seat in front of them.
“The policeman said everybody remain seated. Everyone remains seated. If you get out of your seats you will be taken care of quickly,” said Marilyn Dietrick,” reports ABC 7.
Passengers were then ordered off the plane without their belongings and forced to undergo FBI questioning while bomb-sniffing dogs searched their luggage.
“No one was hurt and so far no one has been placed under arrest. All of the detained passengers, including the three who were first taken off the plane, have been released,” reports ABC 7.
It turned out that the “suspicious behavior” was two people “making out” in the bathroom mid-flight, law enforcement sources told ABC News.”
In another incident, two fighter jets were scrambled to escort an American Airlines jet into New York’s JFK airport. Again, the “suspicious behavior” that prompted the alert comprised of passengers visiting the restroom.
So the serious and sober terror alert that provoked thousands of headlines and a multi-million dollar security response, while of course presenting the perfect opportunity to reinforce the police state by invoking 9/11, culminated in nothing more than an almighty freak out in response to a few people eager to use the bathroom.
The whole farce underscores the fact that the terrorists have won. The goal of terror is to fundamentally change society so that the population alters their behavior and willingly relinquishes their freedom through fear. By exploiting the threat of terrorism to provoke fear, the federal government has achieved this objective.
The fact that Americans are more likely to die from intestinal illnesses, accident-causing deer, and allergic reactions to peanuts than they are in terrorist attacks is buried amidst all the panic and hand-wringing about deadly plots that never come to fruition, but do serve to justify the bloated Homeland Security state that has swallowed up America in the drive for profit and control.
This is why military-industrial complex publications like National Defense have openly expressed the need to maintain “fear and an unrealistic American perception of risk” regarding terrorist attacks in order to drive up profits.
This can only be accomplished with the complicity of the establishment media, who are certain to hype more dubious terror alerts, which former DHS head Tom Ridge admitted were faked and exaggerated for political purposes, in order to generate the kind of hysteria that leads to visits to the bathroom being characterized as suspicious and terror-related.
September 1st, 2011
The Huffington Post
By: Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman
Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the New York Police Department has become one of the nation’s most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies, targeting ethnic communities in ways that would run afoul of civil liberties rules if practiced by the federal government, an Associated Press investigation has found.
These operations have benefited from unprecedented help from the CIA, a partnership that has blurred the line between foreign and domestic spying.
The department has dispatched undercover officers, known as “rakers,” into minority neighborhoods as part of a human mapping program, according to officials directly involved in the program. They’ve monitored daily life in bookstores, bars, cafes and nightclubs. Police have also used informants, known as “mosque crawlers,” to monitor sermons, even when there’s no evidence of wrongdoing.
Neither the city council, which finances the department, nor the federal government, which has given NYPD more than $1.6 billion since 9/11, is told exactly what’s going on.
Many of these operations were built with help from the CIA, which is prohibited from spying on Americans but was instrumental in transforming the NYPD’s intelligence unit.
A veteran CIA officer, while still on the agency’s payroll, was the architect of the NYPD’s intelligence programs. The CIA trained a police detective at the Farm, the agency’s spy school in Virginia, then returned him to New York, where he put his new espionage skills to work inside the United States.
And just last month, the CIA sent a senior officer to work as a clandestine operative inside police headquarters.
In response to the story, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a leading Muslim civil rights organization, called on the Justice Department to investigate. The Justice Department said Wednesday night it would review the request.
“This is potentially illegal what they’re doing,” said Gadeir Abbas, a staff attorney with the organization.
The NYPD denied that it trolls ethnic neighborhoods and said it only follows leads. Police operations have disrupted terrorist plots and put several would-be killers in prison.
“The New York Police Department is doing everything it can to make sure there’s not another 9/11 here and that more innocent New Yorkers are not killed by terrorists,” NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said. “And we have nothing to apologize for in that regard.”
AP’s investigation is based on documents and interviews with more than 40 current and former New York Police Department and federal officials. Many were directly involved in planning and carrying out these secret operations for the department. Though most said the tactics were appropriate and made the city safer, many insisted on anonymity, because they were not authorized to speak with reporters about security matters.
In just two episodes showing how widely the NYPD cast its net, the department sought a rundown from the taxi commission of every Pakistani cab driver in the city, and produced an analytical report on every mosque within 100 miles, officials said.
One of the enduring questions of the past decade is whether being safe requires giving up some liberty and privacy. The focus of that debate has primarily been federal programs like wiretapping and indefinite detention. The question has received less attention in New York, where residents do not know for sure what, if anything, they have given up.
The story of how the NYPD Intelligence Division developed such aggressive programs begins with one man.