Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Domestic Abuse of US Civilians

Reader tip: Koran desecrated at Guantanamo [Analysis of Newsweek retraction].

Original blog

Rock on. I'll be sure to provide more links as more information comes out. There are a number of people very interested in how events are unfolding.

Also thought it might be useful if K reviewed the TMU information and considered whether the kinds of questions he was asked were consistent with "the types of indicators that were reasonable." It is alarming that the federal agents have engaged in abusive conduct toward people in Florida who were witnesses to the training of personnel at the Naval Air Stations. The recent surveillance and questions of protestors is noteworthy.

In other words, it would be interesting to hear K's responses to "how he was questioned" after he reviewed the range of indicators that TMU personnel review; and the types of things they are responsible for reviewing.


  • Were the types of questions outside the range of reasonableness given the TMU profiling guidelines;

  • What types of misconduct by law enforcement in the FBI/Secret Service, at the local level [LA County, Abu Ghraib] occurred that match this type of approach?

  • What types of themes are resonating with the public in terms of "what people are reacting to" at the RNC and how these compare with the concerns about abuses in Iraq, Guantanamo, or the domestic surveillance by federal-local law enforcement;

  • Whether the range of questions asked by the secret service are focused truly on protecting the president, or whether they are on fishing expeditions to essentially "back someone into admitting to conduct" that is fairly benign, but actually could be considered a "basis to increase surveillance".

    I'm all for Presidential protection; I think we have a problem with oversight when the "Presidential protection" is used as a ruse to gather information that is unrelated to protection, and linked more with filling holes in domestic data-bases. Whether the DoJ/DHS Inspector General or the GAO have knowledge of the "off-record databases" remains to be seen; however, this non-criminal information is gathered, stored, and is not part of the official incident report available through FOIA.

  • To what extent the methods K was exposed to matched, paralleled, or duplicated the methods Rumsfeld said, "Are inadequate" and were the basis for Rumsfeld to issue more complex guidance not just to Guantanamo, but also through secure communications/personnel travel back to Afghanistan and into Iraq.

    In short, it would be interesting to see whether K, after reviewing the types of methods Rumsfeld said, "were not working" in Guantanamo, were similar to what is also perceived to "not be working" when law enforcement "interviews" the public in the United States. ref.

    I think the public through K's efforts might be interested to know to what extent we are on a slippery slope; and there is a greater pressure/effort within law enforcement to similarly lobby for "permission to use greater intrusions" because these efforts were not working stateside.

  • Also, there was a case of a Texas Student who had submitted a FOIA to his University in re the underground tunnels. He was subjected to many questions; it would be interesting to see the results of a discussion between K and this Texas U student after they compared notes on "how they were treated" and "the reasonableness of the questions" in light of Guantanamo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Seattle World Trade Organization protests.

  • There have also been reports of misconduct and abuse by Sheriffs in the LA county jail. There have been several lawsuits and 42 USC 1983 claims failed against the sheriff in federal court. ref,

    Again, it would be interesting to see a comparison of "how US citizens are treated" [prisoners, or people like K] and then compare the domestic treatment-interrogations to the methods used by the Counter-Intelligence Field Activity [CIFA] in Guantanamo; Afghanistan, and Iraq. CIFA needs to explain why we are treating our own citizens in a manner that strangely mirrors what was in the Rumsfeld memo; prisoners in US detention statistics are regularly mistreated, denied the ability to have editorials published, and the media disregards comparison between US and Iraq-prisoner treatment as, "If they haven't brought lawsuits in court, then there obviously is no problem."

    It appears the prisoners are targeted if they speak out; and that guards will regularly make up rumors about US prisoners in order to ensure other prisoners "do the dirty work" of the prisoners. Prisoners are tracked with informal databases, the number of complaints they file. I'm not seeing a compelling case that the United States is treating its own citizens any better, especially when there is abysmal oversight by DoJ Office of Professional Responsibility, DoJ IG, and both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.

    Evidence of a set of non-public instructions on how law enforcement should "handle" US civilians despite clear statutory guidelines contrary to such memos

    We've already seen that "despite the law," Gonzalez issued legal memoranda from the White House legal office clearly giving a green light to unlawful conduct. It was argued that the President was above the law. I suspect there is a similar attitude in other departments toward US citizens. It is inconceivable that the "attitude toward prisoners that we saw migrate from Guantanamo to Afghanistan, then Iraq" is not also part of the "surprising migration" at the hands of the same personnel within CIFA who are responsible for coordinating with DHS on domestic intelligence gathering and Joint Terrorism Task Force.

    All local law enforcement officers are well aware of their Federal Counterparts. It is inconceivable that the federal actions would not be well-coordinated with the local level; yet, we have yet to see the similar memos we saw in re Rumsfeld appear in a form that matches what we see going on states.

    In short, I'm getting multiple indicators that there is a set of memos related to domestic approaches to US civilians that are similarly "not to be publicly discussed" that were disseminated in an effort to "gather non-criminal information using new methods and tactics." Also, there are non-criminal databases that exist that allow law enforcement to keep this information off-record, but is well disseminated, despite it having absolutely nothing to do with law enforcement or criminal activity. In short, we have a police state; all we need is the memo.

    When, and in what form these memos exist; or which legal counsel within the DoJ or White House have reviewed them remains to be seen.

    Report; Peaceful protest; E-mail intercept; E-mail schedule; Report; Attendance Ref

    My concern is that law enforcement state-side is operating under this guidance that has yet to see the light of day; and DoJ and DHS are keeping under tight wraps. I suspect the White House General Counsel has signed off on the memos, just as they were actively involved in the pre-Iraq-invasion planning far before 9-11.

    It will be interesting to see how this issue plays out. What is needed is greater pressure on the Congress and media to start asking these types of questions. Also, we as a citizenry would benefit if we understood to what extent these types of concerns have already been brought forth to the local media outlets, and have been rebuffed on the basis of, "We hear about that all the time."

    It would be interesting to hear some follow-up with "those who have had their incidents not reported"; perhaps K might be in a position to encourage others who were similarly treated to come forward, share their experiences, and know that they are not alone. I sense that there are many people who have been treated poorly, but are still looking for an outlet. Perhaps others might wish to talk to K, or are inspired by him to set up their own websites to share their short anecdotes.

    It would also be interesting to hear more feedback from K as he goes in his travels sharing his story: What other types of feedback does he hear; what other anecdotes does he come across; does he see patterns in what people are saying when they say, "This happened to me".

    Perhaps the Senate Judiciary Committee needs to hear some real feedback from people who have been actually abused under this system, as opposed to the piecemeal approach taken of, "We can't do anything." If there are a number of public citizens who have been mistreated by Federal agents and their conduct is not consistent with the Manual on Administrative Operative Procedures [MAOP, FBI], then the public needs to not only know the standards, but be confident that the "higher ups" actually do something about the abuse, misconduct, poor treatment, demeaning attention, or refusal by law enforcement to comply with the standards that they compel others [showing ID; providing reliable information; being responsive to reasonable requests].

    If government wants the public to support it, then that government needs to demonstrate that it complies with those standards, as opposed to "do what we say, not what we do." Credibility comes from performance, and behavior, not with standards that only one party is required to meet.

    It would be interesting to see what K decides to do with the information he receives. Clearly, Columbia has a priority right now with the record deal; however, it might be interesting to hear to what extent this incident has focused his music writing; and at the same time to what extent this incident has prompted him to engage in other activities like writing and speaking on this issue.

    It will be interesting to see what path he chooses to take, and how he chooses to apply this incident to advance his own interests. I think this is an unfortunate incident; and it is upsetting to hear that he was treated in a manner that caused him to be surprised, upset, and has proven to be an eye opener. It will be interesting to see how this incident affects the public, whether they speak out about the other misconduct that is occurring.

    Maybe he has ideas on what needs to get fixed; or ideas on who in government should be leading the effort to resolve this inappropriate law enforcement conduct; and which studies or policies driving this conduct within law enforcement needs better oversight and review by the House and Senate Judicial Committees.

    After reading the information about the sticker, I'm less inclined to care whether law enforcement has a "problem." They've shown themselves to be arrogant, abusive, and acting in a manner contrary to public interests. They may find themselves, because they are in the military reserves, called up to fight in either Iraq or Iran on the President's crusade. One day long ago, I might have cared; today, I simply say, "They have brought this on themselves."

    The laws are applicable to all. But law enforcement brings discredit upon themselves when they knowingly use their positions to harass young people. There was no reasonable basis to treat him they way they have; rather, their conduct reflects poorly on their profession and tends to materially undermine public support.

    This government has shown it will go out of the way to not help; in a similar vein I am less inclined to come forward with either solutions or information that may be of interest. It is not worth the hassle when dealing with law enforcement that refuses to take simple information, and makes a complete bungling mess of things that could have been otherwise simply handled in their infancy.

    Which brings us back to 9-11. The reason we go into this mess, is that this government failed to listen when the problems were small. There was no effective leverage by the Judicial branch of government to compel both the Congress and Executive to fix the well known problems.

    In all the rearranging of the deck chairs, the one branch of government that has escaped oversight and scrutiny is the Judicial Branch. They failed us prior to 9-11, and the Judicial branch continues to need a wake up call.

    Again, rather than respond to simple problems, the Judicial Branch at all levels [Judicial officers, Administrators, and court personnel] have demonstrated that they are as equally unreliable in their performance but for close examination.

    True reform and solutions need to explore why the scope of abuses and misconduct were allowed to occur for this many years, and then only in 2004 the courts "got around" to reviewing the detentions.

    The post 9-11 non-sense has gone on too long. Too many judicial officers are blindly sitting on their high horse believing that they are immune from prosecution. Yet, it is when it is brought to light that they were in possession of material information about court abuses and misconduct, and knew or should have known, that the abuses and malfeasance was not timely remedied, that the full weight of civil litigation will come unglued.

    We have yet to see to what extent the judicial branch of government and court administrators at both the Federal and State level have perpetuated this myth that "we are not part of the problem" when, in fact, it is the lack of leadership that allowed the other two branches to act.

    I see nothing within the Constitution that prevented the Judicial branch of government from going to Congress and saying, "We need special courts to monitor law enforcement abuse; target law enforcement misconduct; and go after the other two branches that are failing to execute their statutory requirements to ensure problems so identified are fixed."

    The Judicial Branch needs a wake-up call in the form of closer oversight, more accountability and responses to the public to explain itself, and to respond, "Where were you prior to 9-11?" Yet, rather than respond to simple questions, this leadership in all three branches continues to pretend we are in a world that does not exist: That the enemy is abroad, when it is actually within the ranks of law enforcement that puts their own profession before that of the constitution; and also those who know they can "lie all the time" without any sanctions from their IAD, law enforcement management, or Police Office Standards and Training.

    It is absurd that we have a system of law enforcement oversight that is broken down into 50 different states, yet the core accountability they truly respond to is the Federal Constitution. If they are to credibly be an arm on this "phony war on terror" at the national level, then officers need to face Federal -level consequences for failing to ensure their conduct complies with the Federal Constitution. I am not persuaded that this objective is satisfactorily met given the Bush Administration's policy to see that DoJ only agree to consent decrees-letters [vice court orders] that are not subject to vigorous court enforcement.

    If this country truly wants to win the war on "whatever we want to call this diversion" then this country needs to start demonstrating to the world, and the American public that it meets the standards it imposes on others.

    That law enforcement has the time to chase teenagers with stickers on their cars, but no time to look into substantive allegations related to malfeasance indicates the national priorities are at odds with the real risks. For it was the unchecked fraud and failure of fiduciaries like Andersen that allowed the financial disaster in Enron to explode.

    This nation enjoys coming up with new excuses to avoid solving problems; yet when the disaster occurs [that is the natural consequence of those many unsolved problems] this nation rarely has the Senior Executive Service [SES] collectively admit, "We mssed up and we resign."

    There is rapidly approaching a time for accountability. It remains to be seen to what extent this law enforcement and judicial branch are actively rooting for the very system that will ensure they get less oversight, few accountability, and merely shift the attention from their misconduct and leadership failure onto the very population that might have once support them.

    At this juncture, law enforcement is the larger more real threat to this nation's constitution. AlQueda is not a factor. The real danger to our safety and liberties is the unchecked power in law enforcement and the unreasonable efforts to get the nation to comply with standards that are unreasonable, and this nation's leadership says it is not required to meet.

    We're talking bumper stickers here, yet this arrogant law enforcement is treating this young man like he is no better than AlQueda.

    It is time law enforcement looks itself in the mirror. It, through CIFA and DOJ, is the problem not the solution in ensuring this nation conducts its affairs at home and abroad in a manner that is consistent with the constitution.

    This nation's law enforcement community is poorly led, poorly disciplined, and requires close monitoring and second guessing. They have proven themselves willing in Guantanamo Afghanistan, and Iraq to cross the line; and each day they do the same at home.

    Law enforcement remains the greatest threat to this nation's security and this nation's constitution. Rather than reform in house and ensure their training and compliance with standards meets that constitutional standard, law enforcement is quick to put its energy into chasing bumper stickers. We need not be surprised why other nations' citizens hold this government in contempt.