Posted on May 16, 2015 in Arab American Institute

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Discriminatory scrutiny, mass dragnet

The civil rights and civil liberties of our community have been acutely impacted by our government’s national security approach that treats Arabs and Muslims as security threats. Because of this framework, federal and state governments have pursued aggressive national security surveillance programs to stop the threat of the self-proclaimed “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL) recruiting, radicalizing, and inspiring terrorism in our communities. These programs, combined with technological advances, and the growing mass surveillance dragnet, have significantly infringed upon our rights in private and public spaces in the name of preventing terrorism.

Many of these national security programs, established post-9/11 and in response to the threat of ISIL, come at the expense of the Bill of Rights. Under President Trump, we fear even more egregious offenses to the civil rights and civil liberties of Arab Americans, American Muslims, and other communities that are targeted for their race, religion, political ideology, and activism. At times, candidate-Trump endorsed the idea of surveilling American mosques, creating a “Muslim database,” and many of his advisors are ardent supporters of bringing back the New York Police Department’s spying program for American Muslims. 

Mass surveillance – as allowed by the USA PATRIOT Act, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and Executive Order 12333 - are what allows these so-called “targeted” surveillance programs are based on. An important and strategic part of fighting surveillance programs that single out our community is joining other communities and activists across the political spectrum to reform the basis for the government’s surveillance powers. It is not enough to only oppose what impacts us, we must fight to roll back the legal authorities that make these programs possible.

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As part of AAI's 2017 Advocacy Roadmap - we are organizing around

THREE LOCAL & NATIONAL ACTIONS TO REFORM SURVEILLANCE:


#1

STAND AGAINST COUNTER-TERRORISM’S ENCROACHMENT ON COMMUNITY POLICING & FOR TRUST-BASED RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN OUR COMMUNITY & LAW ENFORCEMENT

Target: Local police, Joint Terrorism Task Force members, U.S. Attorneys

Organize: Community meetings or town halls where the concerns of the community can be shared with law enforcement and a conversation can begin about keeping the community safe.

Asks:

(1) Don’t treat Arab Americans and American Muslims like suspected terrorists. End intervention programs – like “Shared Responsibility Committees” or the Los Angeles Police Department’s RENEW program – that ask our community to spy on one another to try to identify “radicalized” individuals. These programs are based on debunked science and are detrimental to everyone.  

(2) Understand the broad concerns or our community. Like all Americans, we are concerned about our safety, jobs, healthcare, and education. There are important ways law enforcement can join alongside our efforts in these areas to improve our community and keep everyone safe.


#2

 STAND AGAINST THE EXPANSION OF GOVERNMENT WATCH LISTING & FOR DUE PROCESS REFORMS

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Target: U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, Department of Homeland Security and the Intelligence Community

Organize: Meetings, calls, letters, and social media campaigns in support of reforming to the watch lists. Be prepared for rapid response campaigns if Congress introduces more bad legislation like “No Fly, No Buy” that validates secretive watch-listing.

Asks:

(1) American citizens on the No Fly List or the Selectee List have their civil rights infringed upon without being charged of a crime. American citizens must be able to challenge their placement on one of these lists without an unreasonable burden. The fact that citizens cannot already do this is an appalling offense to the due process clause of the Constitution. DHS must reform its redress process for the No Fly List.

(2) The basis for adding U.S. citizens to a watch list needs to require probable cause. Though the nomination criteria is classified, leaks indicate that a single social media post can be reason enough to be added to one of these lists. There needs to be more transparency around watch listing procedures.

(3) Congress must take up effective oversight and investigation into the vast government watch listing system. Instead of expanding government watch listing by passing legislation like “No Fly, No Buy,” Congress should require the intelligence community to investigate and report why Dearborn, Michigan – a city of 90,000 people – is the 2nd most watch listed city in the country, only trailing New York City.

 


#3

STAND AGAINST THE REAUTHORIZATION OF SECTION 702 OF THE FISA AMENDMENTS ACT &

FOR SURVEILLANCE REFORM

IMage_Section_702.pngTarget: U.S. House of Representatives & U.S. Senate

Organize: Meetings and town halls with your members of Congress in your district to express your demand for reforms to Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, which is facing a December 2017 reauthorization.

Asks:

(1) Place additional limits on the FBI’s use of Section 702 data, which was recommended by the Privacy & Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) but not satisfactorily implemented. In order for the FBI to access 702 data, they should be required to get a warrant before a judge, not just the approval of one of their peers.

(2) Congress must insert a new sunset date for Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. Because 702 implicates the privacy of American citizens, the provision should be reviewed and debated regularly. An indefinite reauthorization of Section 702 is against the democratic principles of our nation.

(3) More generally, stand against the growing surveillance state and for the civil rights and civil liberties that our democracy is dependent on. Surveillance has a proven chilling effect on popular, non-violent political movements like Black Lives Matter, justice for Palestine movements, environmental activism, and more. The government should not engage in bulk surveillance, social media monitoring, use of sting rays, or the abusive use of informants to undermine or spy on peaceful activism.

 

Resource:

Infographic: What is Section 702 & Why Should I Care?