Coalition Of Rights Activists And Journalists Wants To Know Why DHS, CBP, And ICE Are Spying On Activists And Journalists

from the can't-be-authoritarian-without-exceeding-your-authority dept

Early this March, documents obtained by NBC San Diego showed the DHS was targeting journalists. activists, and immigration lawyers for enhanced screenings and device searches by the CBP. The previously-secret database held dossiers on people suspected of doing nothing more than participating in Constitutionally-protected activity.

The DHS provided no explanation for this collection of dossiers. The CBP attempted to explain its participation in rights violations by first claiming it was necessary to secure the border. Then it said every one of the 59 journalists, lawyers, and activists in the leaked documents were “present” during “violence” that “broke out at the border” last November. That these people would be present at such an event is unsurprising, given the amount of attention being paid to our southern border and immigration in recent months. That the CPB would decide this justifies dossiers, enhanced screenings, and invasive device searches is a bit more disturbing, as it has the potential to negatively affect a number of Constitutional rights.

The Center for Democracy and Technology — along with dozens of humans rights activists and journalist entities — have sent a letter to the head of the DHS, demanding this surveillance stop immediately and that an investigation be opened to determine this effort’s origins, as well as its extent. It also demands DHS and CBP hand over all policies, guidelines, and documents detailing what information the agencies collected during this possibly-unlawful surveillance.

But there’s more to the letter than demands and expressed concerns. CDT’s letter also recounts further details that have come to light over the past couple of months, including ICE joining the unconstitutional party to engage in immigration and customs enforcement by… surveilling political protests?

In addition to CBP, ICE engaged in questionable conduct that threatens the rights of free expression and association. ICE-HSI created a spreadsheet of protests that occurred in New York City between July 21 and August 17, 2018. The list contained the names of the groups sponsoring each protest, the political goal of the protest, and the number of people who signed up on Facebook to attend the protest. One spreadsheet was labeled “Anti-Trump Protests.” ICE’s surveillance activity does not appear to be predicated upon any suspected violation of a law ICE enforces.

While we do not see evidence that ICE created records with personally identifying information, it is unambiguous that ICE documented First Amendment-protected activity, which may violate the Privacy Act of 1974 and warrants further investigation. To the extent ICE is monitoring and creating records of First Amendment-protected activity of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, and to the extent such records are not pertinent to and within the scope of its authorized law enforcement activity, such conduct is in violation of the Privacy Act.

The DHS and its subsidiaries are keeping the homeland secure by using Constitutional rights as a doormat. There’s nothing about this surveillance and targeting that even remotely suggests the end result will be a safer America. There can be little doubt these activities are being engaged in almost solely for the purpose of dissuading journalists from covering border activities, immigrants from finding good legal representation, and activists of all sorts from expressing their displeasure with the government.

The answers these entities are seeking probably won’t arrive any time soon. Most likely, it will take pressure from Congress, along with a number of FOIA lawsuits, to make this information public. The current administration seemingly has no problem with the collateral damage its border-focused directives are creating. And with zero pressure to fall in line with the Constitution coming from up top, it’s likely these abuses will continue unabated for immediate future.

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Comments on “Coalition Of Rights Activists And Journalists Wants To Know Why DHS, CBP, And ICE Are Spying On Activists And Journalists”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

By liberal SJW mobs who play dirty when they "have" to, i.e., when they can’t refute conservative logic.

On another note, given that Google invades everyone’s privacy, maybe this will wake journalists up to this problem, particularly since Google’s "dossier" on every citizen doesn’t even have to be accurate. Sauce for the goose and all that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Logic = logic. That you need to specify some kind of branch of logic dubbed "conservative logic" implies it is not a legitimate form of logic. Lacking a documented definition of the term I offer you this:

Conservative Logic
con·​ser·​va·​tive log·​ic | kən-ˈsər-və-tiv lä-jik

  1. A form of logic known primarily for its utter lack of logic, deductive reasoning or critical thinking.
  2. Lies promulgated by those with a right-wing bias intent on repeating falsehoods often enough that they become truth.
  3. Baseless and semi-random stabs at conclusions selected by their level of support from similarly unintelligent right-wing nutjobs.
    see: Scientology, Sociopath, White Noise

You’re welcome.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Genuine, intelligent conservatives have been silenced.

Show me a single “intelligent conservative” who has been permanently and irrevocably silenced — no books, no Internet presence, no interviews with the press, no way to get their voice out to the world whatsoever — by “liberal SJW mobs”. Until then, your claim is bullshit and will be treated as such.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Given that the MSM are in the pocket of the Communists, that pretty much guarantees that the sheeple are going to follow their lead and elect the Reds.

Good thing that the government will have established the precedent of violating the rights of its political opponents by spying on them! There’s no way that could possibly backfire on the right wing when the left wing inevitably takes power!

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Everyone knows the lefty progressive communists are plotting a coup in order to install their King Emperor

Funny, Trump is the one “joking” about extending his initial term by at least two years and planning to stay in the White House longer than his constitutionally-limited two four-year terms. He definitely wants to be Super King Big-Nuts — which his base surely would not mind — more than any progressive wants to have one.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

he says this stuff to piss off liberals

That does not make it any less frightening, given his demonstrations of authoritarianism and his friendly behavior towards dictators such as Kim Jong-Un and dictator-ish leaders such as Vladimir Putin. Since Trump has already laid a groundwork for contesting the results of the 2020 national election — which he likely will, possibly even if the result is a huge landslide against him — the idea that he could prevent a peaceful transition of power and make himself president longer than the law allows is…unsettling, at a bare minimum.

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Stop. Please. That old chestnut has been bandied about as the "secret plan" of almost every President since at least Nixon.

Well, not Mr Peanut. Nobody thought anyone unable to find the bathroom had the brains to do so.

Clinton was the only one who actually DID anything to make people think it was his "secret plan" – when he put tank pillars on Penn Ave and pretty much forted up the White House to protect him from the Vast Right Wing Militia.

It was even floated for The Sainted Obama.

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Makes perfect sense...

…if you look at it from an information gathering perspective.

The "targeted groups" are exactly the kind of people who keep detailed notes.

Joe the Plumber, Pedro the Gardener, and Susan the Home Health Aide are unlikely to keep notes, pictures, etc. of anything that might be even remotely interesting to an intelligence service.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Joe the Plumber

When I read it, I thought you were referring to Joe the Plumber, the alleged grassroots worker who stood for Palin and McCain. Joe the Plumber represented all the grassroots support for Palin in Real America (where real Americans and not fake Americans live).

Also, Joe the Plumber didn’t actually have a plumbing license, and was tampering with waterworks illegally. Which was discovered after his fifteen minutes of fame.

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Joe the Plumber

No, referring to people I know that I doubt would have any interest to ICE/BP, especially when compared to activists, lawyers, and journalists.

My plumber is licensed, has to be or I would be liable for his screwups on rental properties. Pedro used to be part of the weekly poker game until he realized he was VERY welcome – because he’s a terrible poker player. My neighbor Susan always comes to mind whenever the word "avoid" comes up.

FWIW, McCain was a complete loon, Palin is just a narcissist who loves camera time.

We haven’t had a good Presidential candidate from either side of the aisle for decades. Hell, I can’t recall any that I’d vote for, I just vote against the one I think is the more inept crook.

Anonymous Coward says:

Google creates a dossier on every individual in the United States, and it doesn’t even have to be accurate, as they are immune under Section 230. This impacts lives far worse than anything mentioned in this article, yet people DEFEND this massive invasion of privacy that includes large-scale defamation.

The above is an example of a logical conservative viewpoint which will be attacked with ad-hominems by liberals inflicting that "mob justice" they claim does not exist.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Australia and the UK understand enough about how "search engines work" to hold them accountable for the results they display.

A woman whose ex-boyfriend called her a hooker ten years ago has to answer to that lie every time she interacts or transacts with other people. Google does in fact contain a "dossier."

The above poster makes no argument, just asserts that it is correct and advises the reader to ignore a simple truth. Very telling.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I agree that the amount of data google can get from metadata is scary but individual dossier is conspiracy theory level. I work in networks and deal with a lot of web traffic. To get the level of data you think they collect, you would have to do a "man in the middle" attack. Otherwise the closest you could come is that IP address of XX.XX.XX.XX went to maybe this website at XX.XX.XX.XX address. If the website is using HTTPS, then it may actually not be accurate as things get confusing when looking at web traffic that is secure going to a server that hosting hundred to thousands of websites. Now if the website you went to is using adsense, then potentially Google could pull up a record of past websites that the specific IP went to in the past.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The "dossier" consists of everything said about a person, whether or not true.

A woman’s ex-boyfriend who called her a hooker has caused that "information" to show up whenever anyone searches for her by name.

In the copyright thread, they showed how IP addresses can’t even be used to subpoena a person’s identity since it doesn’t prove authorship (or downloading). So if someone uses a "burner IP" to defame someone, they can’t be sued, and the person they defame cannot sue Google because Google is immune under Section 230, people are literally sitting ducks for anyone who wants to ruin their reputation.

I’m surprised lawyers don’t realize how easy it would be for a disgruntled client or anyone else with an axe to grind to do this to them.

Anonymous Coward says:

The black-block activities through antifa has convinced me that Homeland Security does need to keep an eye on some activist groups.

Specifically street violence, recent arrests over attempts to purchase unregistered weapons and use of bombs, ongoing internet campaigns to dox and libel those they disagree, and so forth. I load up live footage from events they show up at in routinely the black-block antifa types are instigating all the violence, using hate speech, destroying local business property, and on many occasions arrested for mis-identifying a person in the wrong place and wrong time then causing grievous bodily injury to them. The elderly and women as often as not, there’s something especially egregious in violating social contract norms by beating those less able to defend themselves.

So. Good job team. Activists treading on street violence and harassment campaigns justify this sort of spying and authoritarian activity. Knock it off. Keep it peaceful.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Again Ferguson serves as a grisly example

On the first day of the Ferguson unrest, the police in their camo-armor (seriously) decided to nationalize a McDonalds as a police-only zone, and then arrested and detained (for days) two news-agency reporters. They were held for days. That kinda established the police / press relationship for the whole affair.

Law enforcement officers were having a grand old time in the hours to follow, pointing their guns as if they were facing armed opposition on a front line in a warzone, arbitrarily culling people out of the protest lines to yank out and beat the crap out of them, joyriding in their mineproof transports while rebel-yelling and randomly popping tear gas cannisters all over the neighborhoods. It was clearly not how we were taught police should conduct themselves in years of buddy-cop movies and schoolyard safety presentations.

Around day three, they started realizing that all the press meant they were looking horrible to the entire world. After that, they started asking for press permits and (illegally) confiscating gear for those without them or with ones that weren’t fancy enough. Later, press were confined to press zones so the not-military police could separate their atrocities and good times from the cameras that might report them. Press learned quickly to avoid being noticed and getting shepherded into the zones.

We’ve established that our law-enforcement and incarceration institutions really don’t want to be called out on the horrors they regularly inflict on their victims. A significant number of our shootings by police (now officer-involved shootings) are some police officer harrassing someone in a ghetto over a minor infraction and then suddenly fearing for his safety. The story that allegedly justifies the murder is constructed later from the confirmed facts, even if it involves moving the incident thirty meters or saying a woman handcuffed behind her back shot herself in the head.

The police liked not having cameras everywhere, whether amature-owned or held by the press, as then they could assault, rape or shoot whoever they wanted. So their animosity for journalists is not at all surprising.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

FBI / DHS Groups and Sects files

Oh yeah, press aside, the Feds and DHS now share a running database that tracks all the street-gangs and organized crime syndicates in the world, including fan-groups and followers of musicians, people who nerd-out over one sci-fi franchise or another, and new religious movements (which are cults until proven otherwise).

This isn’t really a new thing. They’ve hated people who gather together in groups no matter what they celebrated, and by their efforts have played a part in turning groups dangerous just by their own paranoia and intervention. What’s new is now the DHS manages it and disseminates the information to all the precincts, so they know in advance that your Saturday LARP gets are really the clandestine meetings of a dangerous doomsday cult that stockpiles weapons and will go on to kidnap and sacrifice children if they are not stopped by a good SWAT raid.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: FBI / DHS Groups and Sects files

All part of a kinder gentler nation spearheaded by one who was part of the JFK assassination. And how many Americans lost their lives because Sadam threatened to kill my daddy. Its a nation with 5% of world’s population and 25% of the world’s incarceration. Those people who have usurped this government are some of the most vicious people on the planet. They use any of over a hundred agencies to vet their violent will against American lives. Some day they will burn in hell for it.

Rog S. says:

Re: FBI / DHS Groups and Sects files

Uriel, this is what gang stalking IS. I write about it all the time.

Oddly, I think you are saying what I am saying, but in a much more internet friendly way.

Fundamentally, we agree on this.

I urge you to explore it further, for example, how they harass,and pursue these endless suspects online and off.

And especially note that there is a clear, distinct split between those who yammer on about gibberish, such as directed energy beams, lizzard people and aliens, versus those that they stalk online and off, who mostly plead for justice and due process, or complain about bizarre harrassment from named agencies.

Rog S. says:

journalist targeted by San Fran PD for covering the mysterious death of an Asian American public defender, named Adachi.

Go fundme:

Its curious how the name Adachi travels, and more curious how it challenges ADL narrative exploitation.

Ken Adachi maintained a website that reported OGS too.

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