Trawling for terrorists… aggressive prosecution, racial profiling, one million names

For those of you as curious as I am how exactly the Justice Department has pursued its so-called terrorism cases (the sketchy Liberty City 7 case has been discussed here in the past), there’s now a fascinating look at one of the few “successful” prosecutions thus far: the Justice Department’s prosecution of the Detroit Sleeper Cell case. This American Life devoted an entire episode to Richard G. Convertino’s prosecution of four men of Middle Eastern descent for an alleged plot to attack Disneyland. Leaps of logic and imagining the worst appear to have combined with a zealous effort at prosecution. The case unraveled not due to any search for justice, but, it seems, due to internal Justice Department politics, which raise huge questions about public accountability. Reporter Petra Bartosiewicz’s The Best Terrorists We Could Find should make an interesting read when it comes out next year.

Meanwhile the FBI is proposing to let race and travel schedules tell them who is a terrorist, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights:

The proposed guidelines would give the domestic intelligence agency authority to investigate American citizens and residents without any evidence of criminal acts, relying instead on a “terrorist profile” that would include race, ethnicity and “travel to regions of the world known for terrorist activity” to spark an initial “national security investigation.”

These proposed guidelines would also allow, according to the reports, for FBI agents to ask “open-ended questions” about the activities of Muslim or Arab Americans, or investigate them if their jobs and backgrounds match other criteria considered to be “suspect.” Once this initial investigation stage was completed, a full investigation could be opened – allowing for wiretapping of phone calls or deep investigation of personal data – all guided merely by a “terrorist profile” that openly relies on race, ethnicity, religion and community connections.

Do something about it by pressuring Attorney General Mike Mukesey.

Also, the “terrorist watch list” is now over a million names. More on who’s on it from the ACLU.

FBI Informants Tracking Terror, or Manufacturing Terror?

Inside the Green Scare

Elle Magazine has a profile piece of “Anna”, a young woman who volunteered to be an informant for the FBI on the anarchist scene. As it turns out, she was lurking at at least a couple of gatherings I’ve been to, the late 2003 protests against the Free Trade Area of the Americas in Miami, and the 2004 RNC protests. The presence of a an infiltrator, pretending sympathy and often acting as a street medic, honestly, makes my skin crawl. It is all the worse for those she developed seemingly long-term relationships with, and worst of all for Eric McDavid, now sentenced to some 20 years in prison for something he never actually did, but was co-planning with FBI informant/pseudo-anarchist Anna.

And of course, it only strengthens the argument for those many times when the most compelling direct action strategy relies on bringing people in, and generating the numbers to do what a few people with the option of surprise can’t.

Anyway, you can now meet the informer, in Elle’s profile article, posted on Indybay for what seem to be solid fair use reasons. It would be unfair to not let people on Eric’s side respond, as one does anonymously here. See also Friends and Family of Eric McDavid.

p.s. More from CrimethInc.

Update: This is still one of the most visited articles on my blog. You can read a broader context on conspiracy charges as a tool of repression, and how to respond, in “The Age of Conspiracy Charges” (I wouldn’t go that far in naming it.).

And the Black & Brown Scare

Meanwhile the Liberty City 7 case, charging seven poor men in Miami with an “aspirational rather than operational” plot to attack the Sears Tower, gets ready for a third trial.

Serious coverage on that is also available at the Black Agenda Report.