Little Known FBI’s Race-Based Surveillance

There have been numerous media reports about a very troubling practice by the FBI to designate Black activists as “Black Identity Extremists”, an often bogus designation which is then used to justify subjecting the said activists to all levels of surveillance–private, local, state, federal and even military surveillance in major cities like Houston, LA, Chicago, New York and others. The rationale, a bogus one, is that a “Black Identity Extremist” or BIE is more likely to attack law enforcement officers and thus needs to be placed under 24-hour surveillance.

The controversy surrounding this program, beyond its prima facie racism, centers around the ease with which a Black activist could end up in this designation. Several media reports have said that even mundane activities like organizing or attending a Black Lives Matter rally could in the eyes of the FBI qualify a Black activist as a BIE subjecting them to unjustified long-term government surveillance, the fruits of which could be used in their criminal prosecution. Needless to say, Black activists who support/sympathize with Black Lives Matter on social media (Twitter, Facebook) can also very easily be designated as BIEs. Simply put, this is a very serious problem that is yet to garner the mainstream media attention it deserves.

Yours Truly has ranted and raved about the lack of mainstream media attention surrounding this seemingly–let’s face it–racist surveillance by the FBI for quite a while now, wondering when House Democrats would take up this serious issue with the justice department.

Well, it turns out Rep Sheila Jackson-Lee (R-TX) did indeed raise this issue with then U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions at a House hearing on November 14, 2017. Rep Jackson-Lee asked Sessions; “My question is, as I hold up the poster dealing with the report under your jurisdiction–Black Identity Extremists. It is interesting to me that you are opposing [meant targeting] individuals who are opposing lethal force, similar to the attack on Reverend Dr Martin Luther King on Cointelpro, but there seems to be no report dealing with the tiki torch parade in Charlottesville chanting ‘Jews will not replace us’. Why is there an attack on Black activists versus any report dealing with the Alt Right and the White Nationalists?” AG Sessions responded that he was not aware of the report.

Cointelpro which Rep Jackson-Lee referenced in her questioning was a controversial and secret surveillance program the FBI deployed on Black civil rights activists in the 60s, most notably, on the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Historians agree that the primary reason the FBI ran Cointelpro on Black civil rights activists was to scare them into silence. This is precisely why when Black activists hear about “Black Identity Extremists” they are immediately reminded of stories they’ve read about Cointelpro and are justified in questioning whether the FBI has indeed reverted back to its 1960s tactic of stifling Black dissent.

Bottom line the “Black Identity Extremist” debate is one that begs for serious mainstream media attention. The mainstream media and indeed members of Congress must not remain silent as a section of the population is unjustly subjected to heightened levels of government surveillance all in an effort to stifle their first amendment compliant political speech. At moments like these, Martin Niemoller’s famous words come to mind; “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist, then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist, then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

For those of you very happy with @Emolclause’s activism don’t shy away from the “tip jar” below on your way out.

You may reach the author via email at author@grassrootsdempolitics.com or author@emolumentsclause.com

AOC Exposes FBI’s Terrorism Double Standard

Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez(D-NY) grilling the Assistant Director of FBI’s Counter-Terrorism Division Michael McGarrity

In one of her most stunning congressional performances yet, Freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez(D-NY) grilled FBI’s Assistant Director of Counterterrorism Michael McGarrity on the double standard with which the bureau charges non-White perpetrators as terrorists, while pursuing equally violent White supremacists only with hate crimes–with far fewer legal consequences.

There is no question that FBI’s double standard when it comes to terrorism has to be addressed. However, Rep Ocasio-Cortez and other members of Congress should not focus solely on who gets charged with what statute and instead dig into an even more troubling and still very under-covered topic by the mainstream media and that is, the increasing designation by the FBI/DHS of non-White activists in major urban centers(New York, Houston, LA, Chicago etc) as terrorists or radicalized extremists who then end up on their surveillance lists. Americans will be shocked to find out that even mundane activities like participating in/being an organizer of a Black Lives Matter rally, or Tweeting under “TheResistance” hashtag (#TheResistance)–all activities protected by the 1st amendment–could land someone in these obscure FBI/DHS surveillance lists.

Therefore members of Congress should not be singularly focused on who gets charged with what statute but rather the arbitrariness with which non-White political activists in major cities are increasingly getting caught up in FBI/DHS surveillance dragnets. These kinds of surveillance have disastrous effects on people’s lives whether they result in criminal charges or not, meaning absolute care must be taken to ensure the wrong people don’t end up in these dragnets. It certainly appears given the exchange between Rep Ocasio-Cortez and A.D. McGarrity, that it is infinitely easier for a non-White person to be designated and therefore investigated for terrorism than a similarly situated White person. These seemingly racist/bigoted surveillance policies should greatly trouble members of Congress.

Bottom line, Americans entrust the FBI and DHS with enormous investigative powers including but not limited to, the deterrence of terrorism. AOC and her fellow members of Congress have a duty to step in and ensure that these powerful agencies are not arbitrarily designating minority political activists as terrorism suspects and subjecting them to unjustified long-term surveillance for engaging in constitutionally protected speech.

Is The Surveillance State Targeting Dems Using Twitter

California ACLU Technology and Civil Liberties Director Nicole Ozer penned a very troubling piece in December 2016 on how federal spy centers aka fusion centers are increasingly using Twitter for mass surveillance.


According to Nicole’s piece a company called Dataminr, partly owned by Twitter, provides the federal spy centers(fusion centers) with tweet data, including GPS location, which the spy centers use for surveillance purposes. Twitter says it stopped Dataminr from providing tweet data to fusion centers in 2016 but given the Trump administration’s demonstrated hostility towards any form of criticism especially on Twitter, any reasonable person would go back and verify whether Dataminr has indeed stopped its cooperation with federal spy centers.

The article also points out that this kind of Twitter surveillance is  directed more at minorities and political activists. It is therefore not a stretch to suggest that #TheResistance movement which has grown in leaps and bounds on Twitter since December 2016 when Nicole Ozer penned her article, has also become a target of these federal spy centers(fusion centers). In other words there is reason to believe that Dem activists are increasingly being subjected to surveillance by these federal spy centers over their anti-Trump tweets–a clear cut violation of their first amendment rights.

Bottom line congressional Dems must demand hearings on this troubling nexus between Twitter and federal spy centers to make sure the public(especially Dems) are not being punished with unconstitutional surveillance for their anti-Trump posts on Twitter

Alternatively, because congressional Dems have developed a reputation for weakness, ACLU’s Nicole Ozer should revisit the issue and inform the public as to whether Dataminr really terminated its cooperation with federal spy centers as Twitter alleged in 2016.

Yours Truly already knows the answer to this question but will give Twitter/Dataminr the benefit of the doubt nonetheless.

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