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US citizens v FBI: Will the government face charges for illegal surveillance? | Human rights


Michael_Novakhov
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from The Guardian.

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On Monday, the US supreme court will hear arguments in a case which could determine whether the US government faces accountability for its mass surveillance of Muslim Americans after 9/11.

The nine justices will be asked to decide on whether Muslim US citizens who were subjected to undercover surveillance by a paid informant at their southern California mosque can receive redress through the courts.

Sheikh Yassir Fazaga, Ali Malik and Yasser Abdel Rahim, the three plaintiffs, argue that they and thousands of other Muslims were targeted because of their religion, and the federal authorities who subjected them to such unconstitutional treatment should answer for that.

Lawyers for the government will counter that the case should be dismissed, as litigating it would reveal intelligence about federal anti-terrorism operations that would be harmful to national security. Information on who they were investigating and why, as well as details of the FBIxe2x80x99s sources and methods, should remain confidential on grounds that they are xe2x80x9cstate secretsxe2x80x9d.

Ahilan Arulanantham, a human rights lawyer at UCLA who will be arguing FBI v Fazaga for the plaintiffs on Monday, told reporters that the question for the court was simple: xe2x80x9cWill the people we represent ever get their day in court? Are the courts open to protect this communityxe2x80x99s religious freedoms, or can the government slam the doors shut whenever it claims to be acting in the name of national security?xe2x80x9d

At the heart of the case is Craig Monteilh, a fitness instructor convicted for fraud, who was taken on by the FBI as an informant five years after 9/11 in xe2x80x9cOperation Flexxe2x80x9d in which he surveilled mosques in Irvine, California.

Ali Malik, one of the three plaintiffs in the Fazaga case, vividly remembers when Monteilh first visited the Islamic Center of Irvine in July 2006. The informant presented himself as a person of French and Syrian descent wanting to convert to Islam.

xe2x80x9cHe was not someone youxe2x80x99d forget,xe2x80x9d Malik told the Guardian. xe2x80x9cPhysically, hexe2x80x99s very dominantxe2x80x93 a big guy, a body builder. Hexe2x80x99s massive, shaved head, tattoos xe2x80x93 so he didnxe2x80x99t look like the majority of constituents at the center.xe2x80x9d

Malik, a US citizen from birth, was 22 and a student when Monteilh appeared. Malik said that he and his fellow worshippers were excited to welcome into their community the new convert, who took on the name Farouk al-Aziz.

xe2x80x9cWe had never experienced an undercover provocateur,xe2x80x9d Malik said. xe2x80x9cWe had no reason to believe that the FBI was involved in that activity. In fact, the FBI had come to our mosque, looked into our eyes, and assured us that they were not spying on us.xe2x80x9d

Malik became Monteilhxe2x80x99s mentor, teaching him how to pray. For more than a year, they met regularly, sharing personal details of their lives and working out at the gym together.

Malik recalls becoming uneasy about Monteilh when he began asking questions about violent jihad, becoming increasingly incessant on the subject.

xe2x80x9cHe would say, xe2x80x98What about jihad? What about this?xe2x80x99 I had only one response: xe2x80x98Vigilante violence is not okay in Islam. You need to focus on how to pray and how to establish a connection with God.xe2x80x99xe2x80x9d

Malik picked up the same concerns from others in the mosque xe2x80x93 Monteilh was inciting violence among them. xe2x80x9cHe was so assertive, and he spoke with such urgency that he was really intimidating.xe2x80x9d

The last conversation they had was so disturbing that Malik went to the imam of the mosque and told him Monteilh was potentially violent and a danger to the community. Eventually, a restraining order was taken out preventing Monteilh from visiting the mosque.

Ironically, the mosque also informed the FBI about their concerns. The FBI said it would deal with the situation.

In 2009 it became public that Monteilh was working for the FBI and had been trying to entrap law-abiding American Muslims with his talk of violent jihad. It emerged that he had gathered hundreds of phone numbers, thousands of email addresses, and hours of video and audio recordings inside mosques, homes and businesses associated with Muslims.

Monteilh later admitted his role, telling the Guardian in 2012 that his FBI handlers had authorized him to have sex with Muslim women and record their pillow talk. xe2x80x9cThey said, if it would enhance the intelligence, to go ahead and have sex. So I did,xe2x80x9d he said.

That same year, Monteilh told NPR that he told two congregants: xe2x80x9cwe should bomb somethingxe2x80x9d.

Malik joined his co-plaintiffs, Sheikh Yassir Fazaga and Yasser Abdel Rahim, in filing a lawsuit against the FBI. In 2011, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Greater Los Angeles, they filed a federal class-action lawsuit accusing the government of surveilling Muslim Americans in violation of their constitutional rights.

The invocation of xe2x80x9cstate secretsxe2x80x9d in the Fazaga case was the first time in recent American history that the privilege was invoked to dismiss a lawsuit brought by an American citizen concerning domestic law enforcement.

Mondayxe2x80x99s hearing is the second time the supreme court will consider the application of xe2x80x9cstate secretsxe2x80x9d this term. Last month, the justices considered whether the Guantxc3xa1namo detainee Abu Zubaydah should be able to question two former CIA contractors about the brutal torture he was subjected to at a xe2x80x9cblack sitexe2x80x9d in Poland.

In the Fazaga case, the nationxe2x80x99s highest court will adjudicate on whether the lawsuit against FBIxe2x80x99s surveillance can proceed under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. This would allow the case to be heard in a federal district court with part of the proceedings conducted in private to safeguard sensitive intelligence.

Malik and his fellow plaintiffs will be in Washington on Monday to listen to the arguments, although they will not be allowed into the courtroom under Covid restrictions. He told the Guardian that the hearing was xe2x80x9cprobably the most important thing, other than getting married and having children, in my entire lifexe2x80x9d.

He said the lawsuit boiled down to a simple premise: xe2x80x9cCan I practice my religion without having to feel Ixe2x80x99m doing anything wrong?xe2x80x9d

As for the governmentxe2x80x99s claim of xe2x80x9cstate secretsxe2x80x9d, Malik said: xe2x80x9cItxe2x80x99s terrifying to know that the government can conduct illegal activity against me and that I, as a citizen, canxe2x80x99t hold them to account. All Ixe2x80x99m asking for is the establishment of the rule of law xe2x80x93 for the constitution of the United States to be upheld.xe2x80x9d

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FBI Informant’s Role in Upcoming SCOTUS Case on Post-9/11 Surveillance of Muslims


Michael_Novakhov
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.

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Craig Monteilh was no stranger to federal agents. A hulking man whoxe2x80x99d spent much of his teenage and adult years as an amateur bodybuilder, Monteilh had once made a living ripping off drug dealers. One time, in 1986, the deal went bad, and Monteilh found himself sitting across the table from agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration. They gave himxc2xa0two options:xc2xa0Go to prison, or become an informant.

Monteilh chose the latter, launching a career as a professional snitch that lasted more than two decades. Because of his ethnically ambiguous appearance, Monteilh was a versatile informant for both the DEA and the FBI xe2x80x94 going into cases with covers ranging from a white supremacist to a Russian hit man to a Sicilian drug trafficker.

xe2x80x9cI was very good at what I did,xe2x80x9d Monteilh boasted.

In 2006, two agents with the FBIxe2x80x99s counterterrorism section xe2x80x94 which had gone from a low-priority outfit prior to 9/11 to the bureauxe2x80x99s best-funded one xe2x80x94 approached Monteilh with an ambitious new assignment. They wanted him to pose as a Muslim convert and infiltrate mosques throughout Southern California, home to an estimated half-million Muslims, a diverse set of Islamic worshippers living in shadows of Disneyland in sprawling Orange County.

xe2x80x9cThis was a massive undertaking for the FBI,xe2x80x9d Monteilh said. xe2x80x9cIt was an experiment xe2x80x94 thatxe2x80x99s what they called it xe2x80x94 to see if I could actually fool an entire community. Ixe2x80x99m a white guy, right? My backstory was that my mother was Syrian. My father was French. My father suppressed our religious heritage on my motherxe2x80x99s side.xe2x80x9d

Monteilh spent the next 18 months secretly recording conversations with unsuspecting Muslims and providing intelligence back to the FBI about scores of men and women whose only apparent transgression was practicing their religion. The name of the FBI program, Operation Flex, came from Monteilh being a lifelong gym rat. By offering his services as a fitness instructor to Muslim men, the FBI figured, Monteilh could build trust and identify potential security threats.

xe2x80x9cI remember being introduced to him as a new convert,xe2x80x9d said Yassir Fazaga, an imam in Southern California at the time. xe2x80x9cHe was very fit. I remember telling him that. He even mentioned that he could train with me.xe2x80x9d

Monteilh eventually had a falling-out with the FBI after he was sent to prison on state criminal charges. Upon his release in 2008, he had a score to settle. He held a makeshift press conference with local media in his living room and blew the whistle on Operation Flex, describing how he spied on Muslims for the FBI without having any reason to believe that these people were committing crimes.

Not long after Monteilh went public, the American Civil Liberties Union contacted him to explore an alliance. Monteilh agreed to document his activities for the FBI in a sworn affidavit, and the ACLU filed a class-action lawsuit against the U.S. government in 2011 alleging that federal agents had violated constitutional protections.

xe2x80x9cThe use of the state secrets privilege was entirely to protect the FBIxe2x80x99s methodology from public scrutiny and legal accountability.xe2x80x9d

In November, the case will go before the U.S. Supreme Court, which will consider whether the Justice Department should be allowed to effectively scuttle the lawsuit without a trial. As in many cases of the post-9/11 era, the federal government hopes to do so by asserting the so-calledxc2xa0state secrets privilege xe2x80x94 which allows the U.S. government to block the release of information that could harm national security.

Michael German, a former FBI agent who is now a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, believes that the government isnxe2x80x99t concerned about state secrets so much as about escaping public accountability for its actions. xe2x80x9cThe use of the state secrets privilege was entirely to protect the FBIxe2x80x99s methodology from public scrutiny and legal accountability, so that the practices could continue without a public acknowledgement that might drive reform efforts,xe2x80x9d German said.

The case has become one of the most significant legal challenges of the FBIxe2x80x99s post-9/11 surveillance of Muslims xe2x80x94 with Monteilh, a brawny and uncouth man, the unlikely central figure.

But the ACLU and Monteilh have fundamentally different motivations for trying to force the government to reveal what happened during Operation Flex. The ACLU is attempting to hold the government accountable for what it views as an unconstitutional spying program that targeted a religious minority, while Monteilh said he wants the world to know that hexe2x80x99s a world-class spy singularly responsible for one of the most significant domestic intelligence-gathering programs of the post-9/11 era.

xe2x80x9cIt benefits me to be involved in this case,xe2x80x9d Monteilh said after the Supreme Court announced it would hear the case. xe2x80x9cItxe2x80x99s my legacy. I created it. This is me. I am Operation Flex.xe2x80x9d

GARDEN GROVE, CA - NOVEMBER 14: Mohammed Ali, 85, leaves the Garden Grove mosque on November 14, 2010, in Garden Grove, CA.  There is growing tension between the Muslim community of southern California and the FBI after an informant, Craig Monteilh, infiltrated local mosques to gather information only a month after local FBI leaders told the leaders of the Muslim community that the FBI would do no such thing.  Now, Monteilh is suing the FBI over their treatment of him and he's telling details of his operation. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

A Muslim man leavesxc2xa0a mosque on Nov. 14, 2010, in Garden Grove, Calif.

nPhoto: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Post-9/11 Surveillance Apparatus

Eleven years ago, while researching how the FBI responded to terrorism threats during the first decade after the 9/11 attacks, I met Craig Monteilh in his lawyerxe2x80x99s office near the John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California.

Monteilh was wearing dark dress slacks and a light-purple button-down shirt made of a synthetic silk material that glimmered below the neon lights ofxc2xa0the office. Monteilh has a muscular, top-heavy frame, and he movesxc2xa0like a childxe2x80x99s action-figure toy. His neck is so thick, he never fastens the top button of his shirt. His shaved head gives you a clear view of his large skull, and on the sides of his forehead, you can plainly see the veins bulging below the taut skin near his temples.

xe2x80x9cIxe2x80x99m not Mr. Universe, but I am Mr. Inconspicuous, right?xe2x80x9d Monteilh told me.

The FBIxe2x80x99s post-9/11 surveillance program in Muslim communities nationwide is something that we know a lot about now, two decades into the so-called war on terror: The bureau recruited more than 15,000 informants, the most ever in its history, and used thesexc2xa0people to find information, such as immigration, criminal, or financial problems, that could be used as leverage to recruit other informants. The informant ranks swelled so quickly that the FBI developed a software program, called Delta, to track and manage its human sources. These informants also led hundreds of Muslims nationwide into aggressive FBI counterterrorism sting operations, in which undercover agents or informants played essential parts in supposed terror plots, often providing the weapons, money, and logistical support needed.

But a decade ago, around when I first met Monteilh, journalists like me were only beginning to understand the full scale and potential illegality of the FBIxe2x80x99s post-9/11 surveillance of Muslims. It was difficult then to assess Monteilhxe2x80x99s credibility: While he had documents that proved he had worked for the government, including a letter from the FBI that referred to a nondisclosure agreement he signed during Operation Flex, Monteilh had a checkered past. Hexe2x80x99d been in and out of trouble with the law, and as a longtime government informant, hexe2x80x99d effectively become a professional liar xe2x80x94 not an innately trustworthy source.

Monteilh also had a habit of dribbling out over time new details about what he did in Operation Flex. That made it appear that he was playing the press in a fairly sophisticated attempt to stay in the limelight xe2x80x94 or that he was just making up more and more salacious details, such as his claim that the FBI ordered him to have sexual relationships with Muslim women, that he knew would titillate journalists. As a result, early news reports about Monteilh danced around questions of his credibility: His story was incredible, and important if true, but should we believe it?

Two decades after 9/11, the blanket surveillance of U.S. Muslim communities under the guise of counterterrorism is no longer surprising or controversial. But in the first decade after 9/11, when Monteilh went public with what hexe2x80x99d done, that wasnxe2x80x99t the case.

xe2x80x9cA lot of the surveillance of the Muslim community that people were so upset about during that period has become normalized,xe2x80x9d said Ahilan Arulanantham, the ACLU lawyer who is suing the government over Monteilhxe2x80x99s spying. xe2x80x9cThe FBI still goes out and interviews people in the Muslim community, still sometimes asking people about where they go mosque, what does the imam say, how many times you pray. The whole infrastructure for watchlisting xe2x80x94 with the no-fly list and the terrorist screening database and all that xe2x80x94 is in place.xe2x80x9d

The FBIxe2x80x99s surveillance of Muslim communities was rooted in an effort to correct the intelligence failures of 9/11. In the run-up to the attacks, the FBI was technologically hobbled, having suffered for years under its previous director, Louis Freeh, an avowed Luddite. On the day thexc2xa0twin towers fell, for example, FBI agents were forced to use fax machines to distribute photos of the suspected hijackers. xe2x80x9cAgents lacked access to even the most basic internet technology,xe2x80x9d John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, explained to the 9/11 Commission, which was created to investigate the U.S.xe2x80x99s failure to prevent the attack.

After the attacks, President George W. Bush told Robert Mueller, who had taken over as FBI director just a week earlier, that a xe2x80x9cnever againxe2x80x9d counterterrorism policy needed to be instituted. Muellerxe2x80x99s FBI responded to this by aggressively recruiting informants from Muslim communities and following up on any lead, no matter how ridiculous, encouraged by the governmentxe2x80x99s splashy xe2x80x9cIf you see something, say somethingxe2x80x9d sloganeering.

The bureau also embraced technology and data as tools for fighting crime and preventing terrorism. In 2005, Mueller brought Philip Mudd, the former second-in-command of the CIA Counterterrorism Mission Center, to the FBI as deputy director of the newly established national security branch. Mudd took over an FBI program, called Domain Management, that tracked immigrants suspected of being involved in industrial espionage for their home countries. Mudd expanded Domain Management to include government and commercial data in a way that allowed the FBI to map Muslim communities throughout the United States. Inside the bureau, some veteran agents described Muddxe2x80x99s expanded Domain Management as unproductive and intrusive, with one FBI executive alleging during a high-level meeting that Mudd had pushed the bureau to xe2x80x9cthe dark side.xe2x80x9d (Mudd has since remade himself as a fire-breathing commentator on CNN.)

Some FBI agents referred to Domain Management as xe2x80x9cBattlefield Management,xe2x80x9d for the way it allowed the bureau to target specific geographic areas based on estimated Muslim populations. It was in this context that the FBI secretly launched Operation Flex in Southern California in 2006 and brought in Monteilh as the primary informant.

ANAHEIM, CA - NOVEMBER 16, 2010: Khadija Bawahab, 3rd from left, walks with her grandchildren, from left, Rayhan Bawahab, Jamila Bawahab, and Bilal following Eid al-Adha prayers at the Omar al Farouk mosque on November 16, 2010, in Anaheim, CA.  There is growing tension between the Muslim community of southern California and the FBI after an informant, Craig Monteilh, infiltrated local mosques - including this mosque - to gather information only a month after local FBI leaders told the leaders of the Muslim community that the FBI would do no such thing.  Now, Monteilh is suing the FBI over their treatment of him and he's telling details of his operation. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

A Muslim woman walks with her grandchildren following Eid al-Adha prayers at the Omar Al-Farouk mosque on Nov. 16, 2010, in Anaheim, Calif.

nPhoto: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Operation Flex

Monteilh entered Orange Countyxe2x80x99s Muslim communities as someone interested in Islam. He was embraced by local Muslims, and he took shahada, the profession of faith. Monteilh worked out with dozens of men, played video games with others, went on dates with Muslim women, and in a short time became a well-known convert in Southern Californiaxe2x80x99s Muslim communities. He carried around secret FBI recording devices that looked like car key fobs and surreptitiously recorded conversations with hundreds of Muslim worshippers.

Hexc2xa0was the tip of the spear for a metastasizing surveillance operation that he says targeted a group of people based solely on their religious activity. If true, that is a constitutional violation. The FBI was most interested, Monteilh said, in information that could be used as leverage to recruit informants xe2x80x94 such as information about financial or immigration problems.

xe2x80x9cPeople think the FBI goes around making arrests of Muslims. They do not want to arrest Muslims,xe2x80x9d Monteilh said. xe2x80x9cThey want to enlist them as informants, and theyxe2x80x99ve done it. Itxe2x80x99s been 15 years since Ixe2x80x99ve been in, right? I look at some people who were 23 and now theyxe2x80x99re 38, and theyxe2x80x99re imams now. And theyxe2x80x99re informants. And I know, because I gave the intel.xe2x80x9d

Monteilh had been a federal informant long enough to know the game, and he worked the FBI as much as he did Southern Californiaxe2x80x99s Muslim communities. Knowing that the bureau tries to keep compensation paid to informants artificially low xe2x80x94 in order to prevent a potential jury from viewing an informantxe2x80x99s testimony as being bought by the FBI xe2x80x94 Monteilh grossly inflated his reimbursable expenses, collecting receipts wherever he could and inflating his monthly living expenses. With a wink and a nod, the FBI paid Monteilh $177,000 for his spying on Muslims in Southern California.

The 9/11 WarsThe 9/11 Wars

But the whole FBI operation soon fell apart. The leadership of a local mosque, concerned that Monteilh was an extremist, reported him to the FBI and filed a restraining order. About six months later, local police arrested Monteilh for his involvement in a scheme to con two women out of more than $150,000. Monteilh pleaded guilty to the state criminal charge and spent eight months in prison.

During the time that Monteilh was secretly spying for the FBI, Southern Californiaxe2x80x99s Muslim communities, and others nationwide, began to suspect that federal law enforcement agents were targeting them without cause. Fazaga, the Eritrean-born imam who had once complimented Monteilh on his physique, invited J. Stephen Tidwell, an FBI assistant director in charge of the bureauxe2x80x99s Los Angeles office, to his mosque to address community concerns. Tidwell told congregants at the meeting that the FBI was not spying on Muslim communities. During the meeting, Fazaga asked Tidwell about a local newspaper report that said the FBI was surveilling Muslim students at the University of California, Irvine. xe2x80x9cWe donxe2x80x99t trust that,xe2x80x9d Fazaga said of Tidwellxe2x80x99s assurance that the FBI wasnxe2x80x99t spying.

Tidwell glared at Fazaga angrily. xe2x80x9cYouxe2x80x99re calling me a liar?xe2x80x9d Tidwell said.

According to Monteilh, the FBI instructed him after this meeting to devote additional time on gathering more information about Fazaga. xe2x80x9cThe FBI was pissed,xe2x80x9d Monteilh said.

GettyImages-566068019

Federal officials stand outside the home ofxc2xa0Ahmadullah Sais Niazi in Tustin, Calif., on Feb. 20, 2009. Niazi was arrested as part of Operation Flex.

nPhoto: Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

An Uneasy Alliance

Whether Operation Flex was a successful, productive mission for the FBI is debatable. Since the FBI wonxe2x80x99t disclose what information agents obtained, the only available source is Monteilh, who claims that he not only provided information that led to the recruitment of dozens of informants but that he also led the government closer to Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was killed by U.S. special forces in Pakistan in 2011.

Monteilhxe2x80x99s bin Laden claim would be easy to dismiss as the bravado of an egotistical, self-interested informant were it not for the fact that therexe2x80x99s some evidence to suggest it could have merit. The most significant arrest to come out of Operation Flex was of Ahmadullah Sais Niazi, who was charged with immigration violations for allegedly not reporting his previous association with Al Qaeda on his U.S. citizenship application. Niazixe2x80x99s brother-in-law was bin Ladenxe2x80x99s former bodyguard, and Monteilh secretly recorded his conversations with Niazi, who allegedly described witnessing bin Laden arrive by helicopter to Afghanistan in 1996.

While working as an FBI informant, Monteilh recorded the incriminating statements Niazi had allegedly made. But Monteilhxe2x80x99s decision to turn against the FBI ultimately cost the government its case against Niazi. After going public with his claims about Operation Flex, Monteilh met with Niazixe2x80x99s lawyers and claimed that the FBI had tried to recruit Niazi as an informant by threatening to leak embarrassing information about his personal life. The government then dismissed the charges against Niazi, who remains in the United States but has never spoken publicly about his case.

The alliance between the ACLU and Monteilh is an uneasy one, because they have markedly different motivations. Monteilh hopes the litigation will force the government to reveal what happened during Operation Flex xe2x80x94 information that he believes will cast him as a kind of superspy and unsung American hero who played a supporting role in the death of bin Laden. xe2x80x9cI believe that Operation Flex is illegal. It does violate the civil rights of Muslim Americans,xe2x80x9d Monteilh said. xe2x80x9cI donxe2x80x99t like that at all. At the same time, I do believe itxe2x80x99s a necessary evil. I believe that, because I lived it.xe2x80x9d

The ACLU, meanwhile, is trying to hold the government accountable for illegal spying. xe2x80x9cItxe2x80x99s a complicated relationship, to put it mildly,xe2x80x9d said Arulanantham, the ACLU lawyer. xe2x80x9cCraig Monteilh is obviously a critical witness insofar as hexe2x80x99s the one who engaged in all the illegal activity at the heart of this litigation, but itxe2x80x99s also extensively corroborated by our clients because they interacted with Craig. They remember very well how he came into their community and how over the course of several months really made life miserable for at least hundreds of Muslims once they realized the government was trying to spy on them.xe2x80x9d

Monteilh is transparent about one thing: Hexe2x80x99s in this for himself. xe2x80x9cI sought two things xe2x80x94 fame and fortune, in that order,xe2x80x9d Monteilh said. xe2x80x9cI wanted to make a name for myself. I wanted to make a reputation for myself that Ixe2x80x99m proud of. And the money comes later. I was an American spy, and I pulled it off, didnxe2x80x99t I? I love that about me.xe2x80x9d

Ahilan Arulanantham, 2016 MacArthur Fellow, ACLU Southern California Offices, Los Angeles, CA, 09.10.2016

Left: Ahilan Arulanantham of the American Civil Liberties Union. Right: Council of American-Islamic Relations California deputy executive director and staff attorney Ameena Mirza Qazi, middle, takes questions at the ACLU Foundation of Southern California headquarters in Los Angeles on Feb. 23, 2011.

nPhoto: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Damian Dovarganes/AP

State Secrets

Monteilhxe2x80x99s road to fame and fortune has been a long one. The ACLU filed its lawsuitxc2xa0in 2011. Just six months later, then-Attorney General Eric Holder declared the state secrets privilege xe2x80x94 which allows the U.S. government to block the release of information that could harm national security. Holderxe2x80x99s claim covered all potential evidence in the ACLUxe2x80x99s lawsuit, a tactic the Bush administration had used aggressively in earlier cases, such as the ACLUxe2x80x99s challenge to the NSAxe2x80x99s warrantless wiretapping program.

xe2x80x9cThe government is saying: xe2x80x98We didnxe2x80x99t target people solely on the basis of religion. Beyond that, we canxe2x80x99t say anything because of state secrets, and therefore, the whole case has to be dismissed,xe2x80x99xe2x80x9d said Arulanantham.

The ACLU is not asking the U.S. government for any information related to Operation Flex. Arulanantham and the rest of the ACLUxe2x80x99s legal team believe that they can adequately make their case with testimony from Monteilh and the people he spied on for the FBI.

The Justice Department isnxe2x80x99t asserting the state secrets privilege to stop the ACLU from rooting around in classified files. Instead, the Justice Department is asserting that the ACLUxe2x80x99s claims are untrue xe2x80x94 that no one was targeted solely for their religious beliefs xe2x80x94 but that they canxe2x80x99t reveal the evidence to support that claim, even confidentially to a federal judge, because of national security concerns.

The state secrets privilege is a legal doctrine that was built on a lie. In 1948, an Air Force B-29 bomber, carrying secret navigational equipment, crashed in a rural area of Georgia. Four civilian crew members were killed in the crash, and their widows sued the government for copies of the accident report. The government asserted state secrets privilege, claiming that the release of the report would damage national security, and the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with the government. Decades later, in the 1990s, the Air Force crash report from 1948 was declassified, and it did not contain national security secrets. Instead, the report contained only evidence of the governmentxe2x80x99s negligence to maintain the aircraft and train the civilian crew members on escape procedures.

The state secrets privilege is a legal doctrine that was built on a lie.

State secrets privilege became more common in the post-9/11 era. From 2001 to 2009, for example, the government asserted the privilege in more than 100 cases, according to a report by Georgetown University. Earlier this month, the U.S. government asserted the privilege in a lawsuit filed by former Saudi counterterrorism official Saad Aljabri, who claims that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman tried to have him killed.

As with the 1948 crash case and the case involving the former Saudi official, the U.S. government claimed that information from Operation Flex would damage national security if it were made public in federal court.

In response to the governmentxe2x80x99s state secrets claim, a federal district court upheld the privilege and dismissed the lawsuit out of hand. A federal appellate court in 2019 then reversed the lower courtxe2x80x99s decision on all but one of the claims and ruled that the state secrets privilege was an overreach. The appellate court also ruled that the ACLUxe2x80x99s class of plaintiffs could seek monetary damages from the FBI for any warrantless wiretaps of their homes and offices associated with Operation Flex.

The appellate court suggested that the Justice Department can resolve the state secrets issue by following protocols established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Under that law, a federal judge can review secret government evidence and rule on whether the evidence supports the governmentxe2x80x99s claims.

If the government has secret evidence that exonerates the FBI in Operation Flex, Arulanantham will argue before the Supreme Court, xe2x80x9cthen they have to show it to a court and the court has to evaluate if thatxe2x80x99s actually true.xe2x80x9d

Thatxe2x80x99s the issue now before the Supreme Court, which will hear arguments on November 8. The Supreme Court ruling wonxe2x80x99t be on whether Operation Flex and similar post-9/11 surveillance programs were illegal but rather whether the U.S. government can assert state secrets privilege to avoid that very legal challenge. For that reason, this unusual case, involving a self-interested informant who believes that his spying was illegal but justified, has become one of the most significant legal challenges of the FBIxe2x80x99s post-9/11 abuses.

xe2x80x9cWe are at the highest court,xe2x80x9d Monteilh said. xe2x80x9cI donxe2x80x99t mind saying this part out loud: Wexe2x80x99re at that place because of me. I am the central figure of this case, arenxe2x80x99t I? Undoubtedly. And I am proud of that.xe2x80x9d

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Supreme Court to hear arguments on FBI’s surveillance of mosques : NPR


Michael_Novakhov
shared this story
from Law : NPR.

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The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case centered on the FBI’s surveillance of mosques after 9/11.

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The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Monday in a case involving an FBI undercover operation at a mosque in California. Area Muslims are suing the FBI over a nearly year-long surveillance program that, at least publicly, yielded no results and proved a huge embarrassment to the bureau.

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How it began

In hindsight, the covert operation unfolded like some sort of black comedy. As Ira Glass reported on This American Life back in 2012, “It is a cautionary tale, a case where we can watch everything go wrong.”

It all started in 2006, in Orange Country, Calif. A home-grown terrorist on the FBI’s most-wanted list had come out of a mosque there, and relations between the faithful and the FBI had become so fraught that the head of the Los Angeles FBI office, Stephen Tidwell, decided he should do a town hall at one of the Orange County mosques.

He picked the Islamic Center of Irvine, and repeatedly sought at the meeting to assure the audience that the FBI was not monitoring them. If the bureau is going to come to the mosque, he told them, “We will tell you we’re coming for the very reason we don’t want you to think you’re being monitored.”

But even as he was saying that, the FBI was recruiting an undercover informant to infiltrate the mosque and catch anyone who might be recruiting and training terrorists. The informant was named Craig Monteilh, a trainer at a local gym who had a checkered past. He posed as a Muslim convert at the Irvine mosque, one of the largest in southern California.

As Sam Black reported for This American Life, “The FBI later confirmed in court that Craig was an undercover informant. A district attorney also stated in court that Craig did work with Agent Kevin Armstrong and that Craig had given the FBI ‘very very valuable information.'”

The bureau also has confirmed that Monteilh secretly recorded tons of audio and video of the people he was making friends with at the mosque.

‘You’re doing the right thing’

Soon he started pummeling his new friends with questions about jihad, Black reported, to the point that some people from the mosque started to hear complaints about it.

Monteilh would subsequently confirm that he eventually did much more than ask questions about jihad.

“I said we should carry out a terrorist attack in this country,” he told This American Life. “We should bomb something.”

Monteilh said that to two of the men he’d been hanging out with, and they freaked out. They wanted to report what they had heard, but they didn’t know how to go about it. So they contacted Hassam Ayloush, director of the Council on American Islamic Relations in Southern California.

“I told them, ‘Calm down…you’re doing the right thing. You’re calling authorities. So even if the guy is planning on anything, you have nothing to worry about. You’re not accomplice,'” Ayloush recalled.

Now, Ayloush was the person who had arranged that earlier town hall with Los Angeles FBI chief Tidwell, so he called Tidwell to report Monteilh’s threats. But oddly, Tidwell, after thanking him for the tip, didn’t even ask for the alleged terrorist’s name.

In recounting all this on This American Life, reporter Black said, “Tidwell wouldn’t speak to me for this story, so I don’t know what he thought when his own informant was reported to him as a terrorist. But not long after this phone call, the FBI launched an investigation into Craig [Monteilh], which no matter how you look at it was a very strange undertaking. FBI agents going around asking questions about an FBI informant, treating him as an actual suspect they were investigating.”

The Muslim community came to believe that this was just another ploy, a way to leverage people and get them to inform on each other.

Eventually three of the people who were spied upon sued the FBI. The lead plaintiff is Sheikh Yassir Fazada who in 2006 was the imam at the Orange County Islamic Foundation.

A recording device hidden in a therapist’s office

“We believe that we were targeted not because of anything other than our religious beliefs,” he said in an interview with NPR last week. “Craig Monteilh said he was sent to surveil the Muslim community.” He recorded conversations, discussions at the mosque; he recorded the license plate numbers and took photos of people who were coming to the mosque, said Fazada. And he was “literally instigating, enticing” people, trying to get them “to become terrorists.”

Fazada, who is a therapist, is also incensed that he found in his office a remote control that he says turned out to be a recording device left there by Monteilh, a device that for a month recorded the personal and confidential sessions he had with his patients.

Monteilh testified that his FBI handlers considered Fazada to be a radical because he “directed students on how to conduct demonstrations and encouraged them to speak out.”

Fazada considers what the FBI did a breach of trust that cannot be repaired. Ultimately, he wants the FBI to destroy all the information that was gathered, especially recordings of counseling sessions.

“You couldn’t go into a Catholic church in the confession room and put bugs there because that would just be a violation of these people’s rights and their religious freedom,” he said. “That applies to people in therapy as well. It applies to people in a mosque, a synagogue, a church, any place of worship.”

There may be a justification for some of the government’s actions in this case. But if so, that information has not been made public, and we will not hear about it in the Supreme Court on Monday. The argument instead will focus basically on whether this case can move forward at all because the government argues that for it to produce any of the evidence gathered 15 years ago would jeopardize national security.

The Muslim plaintiffs contend that under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA, a judge can review the material and, where appropriate, order that it be disclosed. And they claim that in a case like this, FISA, enacted in 1978, displaces the “state secrets privilege,” a doctrine created by the Supreme Court in the 1950s.

But the government counters that FISA was not meant for cases like this and that the courts must dismiss the case if the government certifies that disclosure would threaten national security. Here the government has made that certification, contending that this case cannot be litigated “without risking disclosure of state secrets–namely, whom (if anyone) the government was investigating and why.”

In its brief to the court, the Justice Department contends that it “does not lightly” invoke the state secrets privilege and that the Attorney General has personally approved the assertion. When the privilege is “properly invoked,” the government argues, “a court is neither authorized nor qualified to inquire further into privileged matters.”

Sheikh Fazada is not buying that argument, especially not after 15 years.

“They’re saying that we did what we did because we could not tell you why,” he says. “There is no one to see the merits of what you are doing. And national security just becomes this blanket that you can cover anything you want with it.”

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After FBI spying, Muslim Americans ask Supreme Court to OK religious bias suit


Michael_Novakhov
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Government state secrets privilege is at issue in the religious freedom case.

Three Muslim Americans subjected to FBI surveillance inside their places of worship will ask the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to allow a religious discrimination lawsuit against the agency to move forward despite government concern about national security.

Yassir Fazaga, a former imam at the Orange County Islamic Foundation, and Ali Uddin Malik and Yasser AbdelRahim, both members of the Islamic Center of Irvine, allege the government and its agents illegally targeted members of the faith communities solely because of their religion.

The FBI has acknowledged running a surveillance program at several Southern California mosques between 2006 and 2007 in a hunt for potential terrorists, but the Bureau has not publicly revealed the basis for its covert operation or directly addressed claims of religious bias.

“Can you be spied on because of where you worship?” said Hussam Ayhoush, executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which is backing the plaintiffs. Muslims “deserve to feel comfortable practicing their faith with friends in the safety of mosques.”

The men say that the presence of an undercover government informant, who was asking about jihad and recording conversations, breached a sacred trust all Americans deserve when exercising religious freedom.

“I’m very angry. Privacy is very important,” said Fazaga. “To know the government is doing this makes me not just angry, but humiliated.”

None of the plaintiffs or the places of worship have been implicated in any known criminal activity or federal charges.

“We are hoping to shed light on the agency that continues to treat Muslims as second-class citizens … unlawfully targeting Americans on the basis of their religion,” Ayhoush said.

When the men sued the FBI in 2011, the agency invoked state secrets privilege to block the lawsuit from proceeding, insisting a trial would require the disclosure of sensitive evidence that could threaten national security.

The privilege shields information whenever the government believes “there is a reasonable danger that compulsion of the evidence will expose military [or other] matters which, in the interest of national security, should not be divulged,” it says in court documents.

A federal district court sided with the FBI, but a panel of judges reversed that decision on appeal in favor of the Muslim men.

The appeals court said that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 allows a judge to evaluate secret evidence and determine whether the government can keep some or all of it secret.

The FBI rejects that view.

“The Executive Branch has the critical responsibility to protect the national security of the United States,” the Biden administration wrote in Supreme Court documents, defending the FBI. “The state-secrets privilege helps enable the Executive to meet that constitutional duty.”

Ahilan Arulanantham, a UCLA Law School professor who is arguing the plaintiffs’ case before the Supreme Court, said he hopes the justices will set limits on the government’s ability to keep secrets.

“The question is very simple: Will these people ever get a day in court, or can the government slam the door shut whenever they say they’re acting in the interest of national security?” Arulanantham said.

Ali Malik, who helped mentor the FBI informant in matters of Islamic faith — not knowing his true identity — said he was outraged after later learning about the government operation.

“When I found out my government spied on me because of my faith, I felt betrayed … by the very institution meant to defend the Constitution of the U.S.,” Malik said. “I’m suing the FBI to protect them and their children. The government must be held accountable for violating our religious freedom.”

The Supreme Court is expected to hand down a decision in the case by the end of June 2022.

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IS AMERICA ANY SAFER? | FBI spied on Muslims broadly in the wake of 9/11, and tried to force many of them to become INFORMANTS – the malignant and inefficient practice, in many respects! – Google Search

 

A member of the NYPD’s counter­terrorism unit stands guard near the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, July 4, 2016. (Greg Kahn)

Since 9/11, the United States has spent $1 trillion to defend against al-Qaeda and ISIL, dirty bombs and lone wolves, bioterror and cyberterror. Has it worked?

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FBI spied on Muslims broadly in the wake of 9/11, and tried to force many of them to become INFORMANTS – the malignant and inefficient practice, in many respects! – Google Search

FBI spied on Muslims broadly in the wake of 9/11, and tried to force many of them to become INFORMANTS – the malignant and inefficient practice, in many respects! – Google Search

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Factsheet: The NYPD Muslim Surveillance Program

https://www.aclu.org › other › factsheet-nypd-muslim-s…

<a href=”https://www.aclu.org” rel=”nofollow”>https://www.aclu.org</a> › other › factsheet-nypd-muslim-s…
WHO is spying on whom? Since at least 2002, the New York City Police Department’s Intelligence Division has engaged in the religious profiling and …
Missing: wake ‎malignant ‎inefficient ‎respects!

12 what to do? a global strategy – National Commission on …

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Countering terrorism has become, beyond any doubt, the top national security … 150 million Muslims, scores of al Qaeda terrorists, many Taliban fighters, …
Missing: FBI ‎INFORMANTS – ‎malignant

‘I Helped Destroy People’ – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com › fbi-terrorism-terry-albury

<a href=”https://www.nytimes.com” rel=”nofollow”>https://www.nytimes.com</a> › fbi-terrorism-terry-albury
Sep 9, 2021 — Terry Albury, an idealistic F.B.I. agent, grew so disillusioned by the war on terror that he was willing to leak classified documents — and …
Missing: malignant ‎| Must include: malignant

Mapping Muslims: NYPD Spying and its Impact on American …

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PDF
The 2012 reporting on the NYPD surveillance program has essentially confirmed what MACLC had warned about in 2007 and 2008, and has led MACLC to join community …
Missing: malignant ‎| Must include: malignant

Psychology of Terrorism – New OJP Resources

https://www.ncjrs.gov › pdffiles1 › nij › grants

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Suicide terrorism is not caused by religion (or more specifically Islam) as such. Many suicide terrorists around the world are secular, or belong to other …

Illusion of Justice – Human Rights Watch

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Jul 21, 2014 — Adverse Impact on American Muslim Communities, Law Enforcement. The cases we examined—and the hundreds of other terrorism prosecutions in the US …
Missing: malignant ‎| Must include: malignant

The Challenge and Promise of Using Community Policing …

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by V EXTREMISM · 2016 — First, Muslim Americans perceive they are being unfairly assigned a collective responsibility to attempt to curb violent extremism inspired by al Qaeda, ISIS, …
Missing: malignant ‎inefficient

TWO YEARS AFTER 9/11, CONNECTING THE DOTS

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[Senate Hearing 108-921] [From the U.S. Government Printing Office] S. Hrg. 108-921 TERRORISM: TWO YEARS AFTER 9/11, CONNECTING THE DOTS …
Missing: spied ‎wake ‎INFORMANTS – ‎inefficient

Reining In Post-9/11 Coercion of Intelligence Informants

https://brooklynworks.brooklaw.edu › viewcontent

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PDF
by D Shamas · 2018 · Cited by 1 — government overreach. In light of the turn towards intelligence gathering and away from traditional law enforcement tactics in the …
Missing: malignant ‎| Must include: malignant

THE AL-QAEDA ORGANIZATION AND THE ISLAMIC STATE …

https://publications.armywarcollege.edu › pubs

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by P Kamolnick · 2017 · Cited by 26 — The United States Army War College educates and develops leaders for service at the strategic level while advancing knowledge in the global application.

Convergence: Illicit Networks and National Security in the Age of …

https://ndupress.ndu.edu › Documents › Books › co…

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All of these aspects of illicit networks and transnational crime are what make this book … transnational organized crime, and many illicit networks have …

COMPILATION OF HEARINGS ON ISLAMIST RADICALIZATION …

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Indeed, Congressional investigation of Muslim American radicalization is the … I am engaged in the practice of being chair of committees for many years …

the war on terror and the muslim american response – AU …

https://auislandora.wrlc.org › PDF › download

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PDF
Many studies have documented the impact of several of the War on Terror policies on Muslims and Muslim Americans. However, most of these studies have …

cult-of-the-presidency-pb.pdf – Cato Institute

https://www.cato.org › cato.org › files › documents

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PDF
1950s, the president had become the motive force in American government, responsible for setting the … Is it broad enough, as many unitarians suggest,.

The Terror Trap – İstanbul Sabahattin Zaim Üniversitesi

https://www.izu.edu.tr › docs › default-source › ciga

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measures, as those hostile to the presence of American Muslims sought to use the … groups like ISIS became a mirror image of the violence that many of its …

Protecting the Homeland from International and … – START.umd.edu |

https://start.umd.edu › start › publications › U_Coun…

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Muslim Diaspora Community Support for Terrorism is Associated with Perceived … These dynamics occur and inter-relate across many levels.

The Social Production of National Security – Chicago Unbound

https://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu › viewcontent

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current preoccupations of counterterrorism policy, although many of the arguments devel- oped here may have applications to other forms of political …

Two Centuries of US military Operations in Liberia: Challenges of

https://media.defense.gov › Mar › B_0163_HAHN_…

<a href=”https://media.defense.gov” rel=”nofollow”>https://media.defense.gov</a> › Mar › B_0163_HAHN_…
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established many critical military facilities in Liberia. This included a significant air base, Robertsfield; a deep seaport; several training.

DEFINING, ADDRESSING AND UNDERSTANDING … – Africa Portal

https://media.africaportal.org › TERRORISMREPORT

<a href=”https://media.africaportal.org” rel=”nofollow”>https://media.africaportal.org</a> › TERRORISMREPORT
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widely on many aspects of African politics and develop- ment, and his work has been published … In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 11 September.

fifth edition – dsm-5tm

https://cdn.website-editor.net › files › uploaded

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PDF
DSM-5 Task Force, m. Title: DSM-5. IV. Title: DSM-V. [DNLM: 1. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. 5th ed. 2. Mental Disorders—.
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‘I Helped Destroy People’ – The New York Times

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The Federal Correctional Institution in Englewood, Colo., is a prison for people who need protection. Some 40 percent are nonviolent sex offenders, including Jared Fogle, the onetime Subway spokesman, serving 15 years for sex acts with minors and distribution of child pornography. There are mob informants, white-collar criminals, dirty cops. The Enron fraudster Jeffrey Skilling spent time at Englewood before his release. So did former Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois, who was convicted of corruption-related charges.

Albury arrived in November 2018 and was treated, to his surprise, like a celebrity. The antigovernment militia and sovereign-citizen types, who had a particular hatred for the feds, wanted to shake his hand and do him favors. That quite a few of the sovereigns were white supremacists didn’t seem to deter them. “They saw me as one of them, which was bizarre,” he says, “but it was easier to take than some of the law-enforcement guys who thought we should be friends.” Michael Slager, the South Carolina police officer who killed an unarmed Black man named Walter Scott in 2015, was particularly friendly to Albury. Former law-enforcement officers needed to stick together, Slager suggested. Albury walked away. I am nothing like you, he thought.

He spent his days reading books by Nelson Mandela, Howard Zinn, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and the Berrigan brothers, Catholic priests who went to prison for their antiwar activism in the ’60s. He read Bruce E. Levine’s “Resisting Illegitimate Authority,” as well as Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s “Guantánamo Diary,” the chilling account of Slahi’s imprisonment at Guantánamo Bay under the supervision of military, C.I.A. and F.B.I. interrogators. In a strange way, Albury felt freer in prison than he had at any time since he joined the F.B.I. “A lot of people are ashamed, being in prison,” he says. “I was never ashamed. I felt this immense sense of relief that at least that chapter of my life was over, and I could be who I actually am.”

He dedicated himself to being a thorn in the side of the Bureau of Prisons, which subjected him, he says, to “special administrative measures” that called for regular monitoring of his phone calls and emails, as well as his letters, which always arrived opened, if they reached him at all. Albury peppered his correspondence with attacks on prison staff, whom he called “petty, insecure tyrants,” fully aware that they were reading along. In April 2020, as the coronavirus began to spread in Englewood, Albury filed a grievance with the Bureau of Prisons protesting the overcrowded conditions, and was sent to the Special Housing Unit, or solitary confinement. When he was released back to general population 10 days later, a one-page report had been expunged from his record. There was nothing to prove he had spent more than a week locked in the Special Housing Unit, accused of “inciting a riot,” Albury wrote in a letter that May.

A few weeks later, Albury cut off all contact. He’d had some unsettling experiences after being released from the Special Housing Unit, he wrote in a final missive. He didn’t elaborate. He was scheduled to be released in November, and until then, “it’s prudent I keep my head down and stay off the radar,” he wrote.

Albury left prison on Nov. 18, 2020, and returned to his family and the house they had moved into in Berkeley, with an ankle monitor. Two days later, he reached out to me on Signal. “I am officially back in the ‘free world,’” he said. He sounded defiant. His experience at Englewood had hardened his belief that he was a prisoner of conscience, but he refused to call himself a whistle-blower. “I didn’t ‘blow the whistle,’” he told me over the phone. “I tried to expose a whole system.”

It was “really crushing,” he says, that his disclosures didn’t cause more of a sensation. “I assumed the stuff would come out and there would be some radical change, like the Church Committee hearings. I guess was naïve.” Could Albury’s revelations have had more of an impact if they had been released before the Trump era? “I think part of what happened here was timing,” says Mike German, now a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law. Following Trump’s election, even many on the progressive left became champions of the F.B.I. because of the Russia investigation and Trump’s attacks on the independence of the bureau. “What that meant was that the people who would have been criticizing the types of programs that were exposed in those documents instead found themselves as strong defenders of the F.B.I. as an institution,” German says.

Read the whole story

 

· · ·

fbi – Google Search

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CIA Director had rare conversation with Putin while in Moscow last week

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Putin’s spokesperson also confirmed there was a discussion.

“Yes, such a conversation took place via telephone,” Putin’s spokesperson Dimitry Peskov told CNN on Monday

CNN reported Friday

 that Burns’ visit to the Russian capital took place at a time of growing concern among some US officials about the possibility of an expanded Russian military intervention in Ukraine.

One source told CNN that the US has “serious concerns” about the Russian build-up, adding, “It would be foolish for us not to be considering the possibility of an invasion or incursion.”

When asked about the topics touched upon during this phone conversation, Peskov said they were “Bilateral relations, the crisis situation in the diplomatic practice, and an exchange of views on regional conflicts.”

“Of course, cybersecurity issues were also mentioned,” Peskov added.

Assessments on Russia’s motives differ widely within the administration, with some sources telling CNN they believe Russia could be preparing for an invasion, while others suggest they are conducting an exercise, or simply trying to intimidate Ukraine.

And publicly, Ukraine has downplayed the idea that Russia is building up its military presence near the border beyond normal levels. Russia has “established a practice of “transferring and accumulating military units for the purpose of maintaining tension in the region and political pressure on neighboring countries,” Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.

Satellite images taken by Maxar Technologies last week demonstrate the kind of irregular Russian troop and equipment movements that US officials are worried about. The images show Russian troops, tanks and artillery massing near the Russian town of Yelnya, and the Biden administration is more concerned than it was in the spring that Russia could launch an invasion, two senior US officials said.

President Joe Biden dispatched Burns to Moscow on Tuesday in an effort to prevent any kind of escalation, where he met with Kremlin officials to try to deter any plans for an offensive by conveying that the US is closely monitoring the troop movements, according to people briefed on their meeting.

Burns also mentioned US concerns that Russia is close to using its gas exports as leverage, with Ukraine and other European nations are forecast to suffer energy crises heading into winter.

This story has been updated.

CNN’s Chandelis Duster contributed to this report.

Read the whole story

 

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В Белоруссии рассказали о военной доктрине Союзного государства – РИА Новости, 08.11.2021

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В Белоруссии рассказали о военной доктрине Союзного государства

Генштаб Белоруссии о военной доктрине Минска и Москвы: мы никогда не развяжем войну

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МИНСК, 7 ноя — РИА Новости. Первый заместитель начальника Генштаба Вооруженных сил Белоруссии Игорь Король в интервью телеканалу СТВ рассказал о целях и задачах новой Военной доктрины белорусско-российского Союзного государства.
Документ утвердили в минувший четверг президенты Владимир Путин и Александр Лукашенко.
Король напомнил, что ни Россия, ни Белоруссия никогда не были агрессорами.

“Мы заявляем всегда и везде, что мы готовы защищать свою страну, свой народ, но мы никогда не развяжем войну и не пойдем завоевывать что-то там. <…> Наши вооруженные силы созданы не для этого”, — добавил высокопоставленный военный.

Также Король отметил, что со стороны оппонентов идут определенные военные приготовления, но призвал не драматизировать ситуацию.
Президент РФ Владимир Путин и президент Белоруссии Александр Лукашенко во время встречи - РИА Новости, 1920, 05.11.2021

“Кошмар США сбывается”: болгары обрадовались соглашению Белоруссии и России

В частности, по его мнению, власти Польши раздувают тему о тяжелом положении на границе и миграционном кризисе, чтобы отвлечь внимание народа от внутренних политических и экономических проблем.
“Понятно, что, может быть, какие-то отдельные горячие головы и вынашивают какие-то планы, но я далек от мысли, что кто-то на это решится”, — продолжил первый замначальника Генштаба.
По его словам, в Минске рассматривают “бряцание оружием просто как провокацию” и не собираются поддаваться на нее.
“Та система подготовки войск, которая создана в Беларуси, позволяет нам решать любые задачи на нашей территории в самых неожиданных ситуациях. Любая из воинских частей вооруженных сил может быть поднята по тревоге и буквально в течение нескольких часов оказаться в том месте, где будет поставлена задача для выполнения”, — подчеркнул Король.
Он добавил, что военные работают в обычном режиме и готовы выполнить поставленные задачи.
Как заявлял госсекретарь Союзного государства Дмитрий Мезенцев, новая Военная доктрина позволит повысить согласованность оборонной политики и своевременно адаптировать задачи военных с учетом изменений военно-политической обстановки в регионе.
Движущаяся платформа, на которой находится бак с ядерным отработанным топливом и промежуточное хранилище отработанного ядерного топлива сухого типа (ХОЯТ-2) в зоне отчуждения Чернобыльской АЭС - РИА Новости, 1920, 03.11.2021

Украина угрожает Белоруссии и России радиоактивным заражением

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The Russian Foreign Ministry named the topics of talks with the head of the CIA in Moscow | News | News

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The topic of Ukraine was raised during a visit to Moscow by the head of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) William Burns. This was announced on Saturday, November 6, by the Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergei Ryabkov.

“As for the discussion of Ukraine during the recent visit of the CIA director in Moscow, yes, this topic was heard. But it is constantly heard in the course of contacts with American representatives who are responsible for the Russian direction, for the situation in the so-called Greater Eurasia, “he said in an interview with Interfax.

As the deputy minister noted, this topic should not be given special importance.

“We have heard this kind of signals from Americans many times before,” he said.

Ryabkov also commented on the statement of the head of the joint committee, the chief of staff of the US Armed Forces, Mark Milli, that the US does not regard the actions of the Russian military near the borders with Ukraine as aggressive.

“I don’t know how much the tonality changes. Perhaps it depends on who exactly gives the comments, the style can be different, the content is the same. I would not perceive this in terms of some kind of signal to us, ”said the deputy head of the department.

On November 5, CNN wrote that Burns arrived in Moscow due to the alleged movement of Russian troops near the borders of Ukraine, which seriously worries the United States. As noted by journalists, the administration of US President Joe Biden has stepped up efforts in recent days to de-escalate tensions between Moscow and Kiev.

After talks in Moscow, the head of the CIA spoke by phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in an attempt to defuse the situation, the channel’s sources said. A senior State Department official was also dispatched to Kiev to support these efforts.

William Burns arrived in Moscow on November 2 on behalf of US President Joe Biden. The CIA director managed to meet with the head of the Foreign Intelligence Service, Sergei Naryshkin, and the director of the Federal Security Service, Nikolai Patrushev.

The Kremlin called the visit of the CIA director to Russia important, and clarified that President Vladimir Putin was in Sochi, but was informed about the results of negotiations with Burns.

American political scientist Bruce Marks, in an interview with Izvestia, noted that Burns is the best candidate for improving relations between the United States and Russia. The expert explained that Burns became the head of the American delegation in Moscow for a reason, since such visits are not part of the responsibilities of the head of the CIA. He is confident that the United States is seeking to establish a dialogue with Russia and overcome difficulties, including through Burns’ knowledge of Russia.

On November 1, the American publication Politico presented satellite images of Russia’s “power buildup” near Ukraine’s borders, taken by technology company Maxar Technologies. The concentration of ground troops was recorded near the Russian city of Yelnya, located in the Smolensk region, which borders Belarus.

These media were denied, including in Kiev. The secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of the country, Aleksey Danilov, pointed out that reports of the pulling together of Russian tanks near the border with Ukraine are disinformation. Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine) Serhiy Shaptala on November 5 confirmed the information that there is no build-up of Russian forces near the borders of Ukraine, the situation is under control.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Western media reports that Russia is allegedly pulling troops to the border with Ukraine do not correspond to reality, and called them a “fake salvo.”

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‘I Helped Destroy People’ – The New York Times


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The Federal Correctional Institution in Englewood, Colo., is a prison for people who need protection. Some 40 percent are nonviolent sex offenders, including Jared Fogle, the onetime Subway spokesman, serving 15 years for sex acts with minors and distribution of child pornography. There are mob informants, white-collar criminals, dirty cops. The Enron fraudster Jeffrey Skilling spent time at Englewood before his release. So did former Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois, who was convicted of corruption-related charges.

Albury arrived in November 2018 and was treated, to his surprise, like a celebrity. The antigovernment militia and sovereign-citizen types, who had a particular hatred for the feds, wanted to shake his hand and do him favors. That quite a few of the sovereigns were white supremacists didnxe2x80x99t seem to deter them. xe2x80x9cThey saw me as one of them, which was bizarre,xe2x80x9d he says, xe2x80x9cbut it was easier to take than some of the law-enforcement guys who thought we should be friends.xe2x80x9d Michael Slager, the South Carolina police officer who killed an unarmed Black man named Walter Scott in 2015, was particularly friendly to Albury. Former law-enforcement officers needed to stick together, Slager suggested. Albury walked away. I am nothing like you, he thought.

He spent his days reading books by Nelson Mandela, Howard Zinn, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and the Berrigan brothers, Catholic priests who went to prison for their antiwar activism in the xe2x80x9960s. He read Bruce E. Levinexe2x80x99s xe2x80x9cResisting Illegitimate Authority,xe2x80x9d as well as Mohamedou Ould Slahixe2x80x99s xe2x80x9cGuantxc3xa1namo Diary,xe2x80x9d the chilling account of Slahixe2x80x99s imprisonment at Guantxc3xa1namo Bay under the supervision of military, C.I.A. and F.B.I. interrogators. In a strange way, Albury felt freer in prison than he had at any time since he joined the F.B.I. xe2x80x9cA lot of people are ashamed, being in prison,xe2x80x9d he says. xe2x80x9cI was never ashamed. I felt this immense sense of relief that at least that chapter of my life was over, and I could be who I actually am.xe2x80x9d

He dedicated himself to being a thorn in the side of the Bureau of Prisons, which subjected him, he says, to xe2x80x9cspecial administrative measuresxe2x80x9d that called for regular monitoring of his phone calls and emails, as well as his letters, which always arrived opened, if they reached him at all. Albury peppered his correspondence with attacks on prison staff, whom he called xe2x80x9cpetty, insecure tyrants,xe2x80x9d fully aware that they were reading along. In April 2020, as the coronavirus began to spread in Englewood, Albury filed a grievance with the Bureau of Prisons protesting the overcrowded conditions, and was sent to the Special Housing Unit, or solitary confinement. When he was released back to general population 10 days later, a one-page report had been expunged from his record. There was nothing to prove he had spent more than a week locked in the Special Housing Unit, accused of xe2x80x9cinciting a riot,xe2x80x9d Albury wrote in a letter that May.

A few weeks later, Albury cut off all contact. Hexe2x80x99d had some unsettling experiences after being released from the Special Housing Unit, he wrote in a final missive. He didnxe2x80x99t elaborate. He was scheduled to be released in November, and until then, xe2x80x9citxe2x80x99s prudent I keep my head down and stay off the radar,xe2x80x9d he wrote.

Albury left prison on Nov. 18, 2020, and returned to his family and the house they had moved into in Berkeley, with an ankle monitor. Two days later, he reached out to me on Signal. xe2x80x9cI am officially back in the xe2x80x98free world,xe2x80x99xe2x80x9d he said. He sounded defiant. His experience at Englewood had hardened his belief that he was a prisoner of conscience, but he refused to call himself a whistle-blower. xe2x80x9cI didnxe2x80x99t xe2x80x98blow the whistle,xe2x80x99xe2x80x9d he told me over the phone. xe2x80x9cI tried to expose a whole system.xe2x80x9d

It was xe2x80x9creally crushing,xe2x80x9d he says, that his disclosures didnxe2x80x99t cause more of a sensation. xe2x80x9cI assumed the stuff would come out and there would be some radical change, like the Church Committee hearings. I guess was naxc3xafve.xe2x80x9d Could Alburyxe2x80x99s revelations have had more of an impact if they had been released before the Trump era? xe2x80x9cI think part of what happened here was timing,xe2x80x9d says Mike German, now a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law. Following Trumpxe2x80x99s election, even many on the progressive left became champions of the F.B.I. because of the Russia investigation and Trumpxe2x80x99s attacks on the independence of the bureau. xe2x80x9cWhat that meant was that the people who would have been criticizing the types of programs that were exposed in those documents instead found themselves as strong defenders of the F.B.I. as an institution,xe2x80x9d German says.

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8:54 AM 11/8/2021 – 11.6.21 – TWEETS: Now I understand, why #Putin looks so happy and relieved on this photo, after the phone talk with W. #Burns: the GOOD UNCLE JOE #BIDEN did say Hello, & did not bypass him with his #attention. And it is #good: #contacts help. | CIA Director Bill Burns spoke on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week to convey “serious” US concerns about Russia’s military buildup on along the Ukrainian border | US citizens v FBI: Will the government face charges for illegal surveillance? – theguardian.com | Supreme Court to hear lawsuit claiming FBI spied on Muslims | Houston police chief visited Travis Scott in his trailer and WARNED him about crowd size before deadly Astroworld concert | Hackers breach nine global organizations in ongoing espionage campaign

 

Now I understand, why looks so happy and relieved on this photo, after the phone talk with W. : the GOOD UNCLE JOE did say Hello, & did not bypass him with his . And it is : contacts help. https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/08/politics/bill-burns-cia-putin-moscow/index.html  http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/67066/photos/66939 

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  1. Supreme Court to hear lawsuit claiming FBI spied on Muslims – Google Search https://shar.es/aWJNIa 

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  2.  Michael Novakhov Retweeted

    T-60 tank from the 33rd Tank Brigade on parade in Red Square, in 1941. Mass production of the T-60 took off in October and these tanks played a big role in the defense of Moscow. http://www.tankarchives.ca/2016/07/t-60-small-tank-in-big-war.html 

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  3.  Michael Novakhov Retweeted

    Protesters clash in Boston over mask and vaccine mandates http://hill.cm/J3Ot6b6 

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  4.  Michael Novakhov Retweeted

    “Our number one strength at our agency and our command is our talent. No doubt about it,” said Gen. Paul Nakasone @USCYBERCOM_DIRNSA during his discussion at Forum on last week . @NSAGov https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d56zPH0q89k 

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  5.  Michael Novakhov Retweeted

    Apparently, the Israeli military had enough intelligence to discover assets belonging to Hamas but not enough intelligence to know that the AP and Al Jazeera were openly operating in the building https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-idf-only-discovered-foreign-media-was-based-in-gaza-tower-after-strike-begun-1.10362300 

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  6.  Michael Novakhov Retweeted

    T-34-85 tanks during the October Revolution parade, in 1948.

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  7.  Michael Novakhov Retweeted

    Iran’s army is holding a large-scale sea, land and air military drill, which comes shortly after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and United States Navy had a confrontation in the Sea of Oman over a seized oil tanker – @AJEnglish

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  8.  Michael Novakhov Retweeted

    Hackers breach nine global organizations in ongoing espionage campaign http://hill.cm/9v7YMxb 

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  9.  Michael Novakhov Retweeted

    An Atlanta-area district attorney is said to be likely to impanel a special grand jury in her criminal investigation of election interference by former President Trump and his allies. https://nyti.ms/3EV9CUM 

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  10.  Michael Novakhov Retweeted

    ZSU-37 SPAAGs on parade in Red Square in 1948

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  11.  Michael Novakhov Retweeted

    On this day in 1960, JFK elected President: “Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” Much more challenging today as digital echoes generated at the speed of touch bombard us with information and misinformation. Think about that.

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  12. 11.8.21 – Встреча с генеральным директором холдинга «Вертолёты России» Андреем Богинским https://shar.es/aWJN7Y 

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  13.  Michael Novakhov Retweeted

    I know some have already seen this meme but it brings chills.

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  14. Заседание Высшего Госсовета Союзного государства • Президент России https://shar.es/aWJNgA 

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  15. Now I understand, why looks so happy and relieved on this photo, after the the phone talk with W. : the GOOD UNCLE JOE did say Hello, & did not bypass him with his . And it is : contacts help. https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/08/politics/bill-burns-cia-putin-moscow/index.html  http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/67066/photos/66939 

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  16.  Michael Novakhov Retweeted

    The world needs Christians who know how to demonstrate the beauty of the Gospel by the way they live; who are weavers of dialogue, models of fraternal life; who bring the sweet fragrance of hospitality and solidarity, who protect and safeguard life.

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  17. I have to make a correction myself: it was a “telephone conversation”, which should have been made clear in the tweet.
    Putin’s spokesperson also confirmed there was a discussion. “Yes, such a conversation took place via telephone …” https://twitter.com/mikenov/status/1457684319661699074  https://twitter.com/mikenov/status/1457684319661699074

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  18. Putin was in Sochi at this time. There no official reports that Burns met with Putin. Please, clarify your sources. https://twitter.com/NatashaBertrand/status/1457677257246449665  https://twitter.com/NatashaBertrand/status/1457677257246449665

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  19.  Michael Novakhov Retweeted

    Photograph of Sir Winston Churchill of the British Empire and Kaiser Wilhelm II of the German Empire. Kaiser displays German military Exercises to the then Parliamentarian and military Major of Britain in 1909.

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  20.  Michael Novakhov Retweeted

    On this day in 1950, a U.S. Air Force P-80 Shooting Star downs two North Korean MiG-15s. It’s the first jet vs. jet dogfight in history.

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