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US Army monitoring civilians ..... again!

Discussion in 'Legal' started by WT, Jun 15, 2004.

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  1. WT

    WT Member

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    By Michael Isikoff
    Investigative Correspondent
    Newsweek
    June 21 issue -

    Last February, two Army counterintelligence agents showed up at the University of Texas law school and demanded to see the roster from a conference on Islamic law held a few days earlier. Their reason: they were trying to track down students who the agents claimed had been asking "suspicious" questions. "I felt like I was in 'Law & Order'," said one student after being grilled by one of the agents. The incident provoked a brief campus uproar, and the Army later admitted the agents had exceeded their authority. But if the Pentagon has its way, the Army may not have to make such amends in the future. Without any public hearing or debate, NEWSWEEK has learned, Defense officials recently slipped a provision into a bill before Congress that could vastly expand the Pentagon's ability to gather intelligence inside the United States, including recruiting citizens as informants.

    Ever since the 1970s, when Army intel agents were caught snooping on antiwar protesters, military intel agencies have operated under tight restrictions inside the United States. But the new provision, approved in closed session last month by the Senate Intelligence Committee, would eliminate one big restriction: that they comply with the Privacy Act, a Watergate-era law that requires government officials seeking information from a resident to disclose who they are and what they want the information for. The CIA always has been exempt—although by law it isn't supposed to operate inside the United States. The new provision would now extend the same exemption to Pentagon agencies such as the Defense Intelligence Agency—so they can help track terrorists. A report by the Senate Intelligence Committee says the provision would allow military intel agents to "approach potential sources and collect personal information from them" without disclosing they work for the government. The justification: "Current counterterrorism operations," the report explains, which require "greater latitude ... both overseas and within the United States." DIA officials say they mainly want the provision so they can more easily question American businessmen and college students who travel abroad. But Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman concedes the provision will also be helpful in investigating suspected terrorist threats to military bases and contractors inside the United States. "It's a new world we live in," he says. "We have to do what is necessary for force protection." Among those pushing for the provision, sources say, were officials at northcom, the new Colorado-based command set up by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to oversee "homeland defense." Pentagon lawyers insist agents will still be legally barred from domestic "law enforcement." But watchdog groups see a potentially alarming "mission creep." "This... is giving them the authority to spy on Americans," said Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, a group frequently critical of the war on terror. "And it's all been done with no public discussion, in the dark of night."



    WT comments - I remember this happening in the 1970's. One of my buddies was drafted into the Military Police Corps. After training he was sent back to college and posed as a graduate student, reporting on the activities of campus activists. This was during Vietnam and things were kind of strange back then. Anyway, my buddy got his masters out of the deal.
     
  2. 7.62FullMetalJacket

    7.62FullMetalJacket Member

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    I believe that this activity is strictly prohibited by law. A committee in the Senate can not change that fact. Both houses of congress must approve, and the President must approve, for a change like this to become law.
     
  3. MrAcheson

    MrAcheson Member

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    The regular military is strictly prohibited from acting as civil law enforcement by the Posse Commitatus act. Exceptions can be made for National Guard though so there are loopholes. On the other hand I don't believe they are explicitly forbidden from operating inside the US the way that the CIA is, but I am not an expert on this.
     
  4. Destructo6

    Destructo6 Member

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    Did they pull the Jedi mind trick or point to the sky, saying "What's that!?" while they dropped the provision onto a pile of paperwork, unseen?

    It had to be a congressman doing the slipping. Whose name is associated with this, assuming it is true?
     
  5. R.H. Lee

    R.H. Lee Member

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    Once again, it is (or should be) a matter of nationality. Non-citizens are not (or should not) be entitled to the same protections as U.S. citizens. If you are a visitor to this country you may be subject to extraordinary scrutiny. If you don't like it, go home.
     
  6. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

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    Amen!
     
  7. stevelyn

    stevelyn Member

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    Well...so much for all men being created equal and being endowed with certain inalienable rights by their Creator.:scrutiny:
     
  8. burbanite

    burbanite Member

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    My perspective as a "non citizen".

    Regardless of how many feel about this situation, (me included), I really have to accept extra scrutiny as part of being foreign. I would hope and expect that the government is doing all in its power to combat terrorism here in the US and, unfortunately for those of us that are yet to be citizens, that may entail a tap on the shoulder now and then. So be it.
     
  9. cropcirclewalker

    cropcirclewalker member

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    Wow! Does that mean that slavery is legal again?

    Perhaps a reevaluation is in order.
     
  10. Ellery Holt

    Ellery Holt Member

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    Not for free, he didn't. I say he paid a very high price for that degree.
     
  11. TarpleyG

    TarpleyG Member

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    All fine and dandy until those in question want to eradicate you and every one you know based on some far out religious belief. Then it becomes 'survival of the fittest' and 'all's fair in love and war.'

    Greg
     
  12. atek3

    atek3 Member

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    stevelyn: what you said.

    atek3
     
  13. Solo

    Solo Member

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    So, basically, anything goes, no basic moral principals worth upholding?
     
  14. EghtySx

    EghtySx Member

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    Well, we are at war right?
     
  15. ajkurp

    ajkurp Member

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    Well, we are at war right?

    George the Younger says so. But congress has never declared war. First, it was over "WMD". When it was proved beyond any doubt that WMD were not possessed by Saddam, the reason was given, "Well, Saddam was a bad guy." And, "We're spreading Democracy to the Middle East."

    Our founders gave us a constitutional republic because they knew that democracy was nothing more than mob rule.

    Well it seems that America's founding principles and Constitution be damned, we've got a mission.
     
  16. RevDisk

    RevDisk Member

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    Indeed. Your buddy might have gotten an education. But he lost something very important when he turned on his own citizens. It is not the job of the US Army to police Americans. It is doubly so not the job of the US Army to actively spy on Americans. The fact that your buddy did not question this likely illegal order says much about him. But he got his 30 pieces of silver...

    We have an FBI. It's the FBI's job to investigate federal crimes.


    Increased scrutiny, sure. Also, equal rights. Sorry, Constitution says all are equal before the law. If you dislike this, you can attempt to amend the Constitution.
     
  17. Jeff White

    Jeff White Moderator Staff Member

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    Don't believe everything you read...even in a publication like Newsweek. As late as 2003 when I retired, EVERY Army organization in CONUS that had ANY kind of organic intelligence capability (and this was interpreted by the local IG to mean every battalion staff that had an S2 {intellegence} section) had to maintain a progam that ensured that NO information was gathered and recorded on anything that was going on in the civilian community or anyone. Failure to maintain and conduct this program which consisted of breifings of all personnel on the requirements of the law and inspection of the files to ensure that the law was complied with would cause you to fail that part of the compliance portion of an Organizational Readiness Inspection. Not a good thing for the commander.

    So I have to wonder if this incident really happened or it's something the author made up to dramatise his actual point, that there was pending legislation to change the law to allow this activity.

    Jeff
     
  18. Vernal45

    Vernal45 member

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    War, which we are involved in against terrorism, begins when moral principals are not followed. The Terrorists do not follow any moral principals at all. SO, why should we. If you fight a war, you fight it to win (which I think we are not doing, but thats another discussion). If you are a foreign student, tourist, worker, you do not, IMO, have the protections of a US citizen.
     
  19. c_yeager

    c_yeager Member

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    Actually they are, and they should be. Legal citizens have the very same constitutional rights and protections as everyone else. Only when it comes to the right to vote is citizenship required by the constitution. Thats just one of those sticky things that came about when we decided that our rights came by virtue of our humanity rather than our social standing.
     
  20. odysseus

    odysseus Member

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    Well said. Rousseau would smile...
     
  21. RevDisk

    RevDisk Member

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    You should learn the phrase "Pyrrhic victory", Vernal45.

    If the key to winning the "War on (some) Terrorism" is gutting the Constitution, destroying our border defenses, treating all citizens as "guilty until proven innocent", detaining people with no trials or evidence, etc etc... Have we won?


    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

    Gee, silly me. I thought 'all men' meant all men (and women). Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness applies to everyone according to the folks that set up our country. America has a right to screen foreign students, tourists, workers, etc. We have a right to increase scrutiny. However, foreigners are still accorded human rights. They have a right to a fair trial and due process. If you don't like this, you're welcome to try to rewrite the Declaration of Independence.

    Careful what you wish for, Vernal45, you might just get it.
     
  22. Leatherneck

    Leatherneck Member

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    If this did indeed happen, then the question is whether the Army spooks were acting in a LEO capacity or a counter-intelligence capacity. The latter is legitimate if your enemies have infiltrated your homeland. The former should be left to the FBI.

    In the age of global terrorism aided by world-wide instant communications and essentially unbounded international travel, these actions become a matter of self-defense for the guys who will pay the ultimate price.

    TC
     
  23. Fred Fuller

    Fred Fuller Moderator Emeritus

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    http://www.uh.edu/ednews/2004/aas/200403/20040316utarmy.html

    Tuesday, March 16, 2004

    Request for names from UT conference was inappropriate, Army says
    Intelligence personnel to get refresher training, officials say

    By Erik Rodriguez

    Military intelligence agents acted inappropriately when they requested a roster of people attending a conference on Islamic law at the University of Texas, an Army investigation has found.

    In a statement issued Friday by the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, officials said they would provide refresher training for all U.S. Army intelligence personnel as a result of the investigation after a Feb. 4 conference entitled "Islam and the Law: A Question of Sexism" at the UT Law School.

    An Army commander dispatched the agents to UT on Feb. 9, after two Fort Hood-based Army lawyers who attended the conference said they were persistently questioned by another participant about their identities.

    The Army lawyers reported that the "tone and repetition of the questions" made them suspicious, according to the investigation.

    The lawyers, who had attended the conference to prepare them for deployments in Southwest Asia, acted appropriately in reporting their concerns, said Deborah Parker, an Army spokeswoman. But the decision to deploy agents to get information about the attendees was made without consulting the Virginia-based Army intelligence command, she said.

    "They should have reported the incident to their higher headquarters," Parker said Monday. "That is where the lapse occurred."

    With few exceptions, Army agents do not have the authority to investigate civilians, Parker said. The matter has been forwarded to the FBI, which has jurisdiction, she said.

    The agents went to the Law School and properly identified themselves, officials said. When event organizers refused to give information to the agents, they left and stopped pursuing the matter.

    Organizers reported the incident to The Daily Texan, the UT student newspaper, saying the agents had been intimidating. Within two weeks, several groups had come forward to condemn the Army's actions, including event organizers, the National Lawyers Guild and the Texas Civil Rights Project.

    Parker said investigators believed the agents acted in a professional manner.

    "Our counterintelligence people are very serious about what they do," she said. "Their job is very important."

    Army investigators had not decided whether any of the agents or the commander involved would be reprimanded or disciplined, Parker said.

    On Monday, UT officials and students praised the action by Army officials.

    "I think that this event and its aftermath sent a strong message to the military that while we, as citizens, take matters of national security very seriously, we will not respond to bullying," said Jessica Biddle, a UT law student and co-editor of the Texas Journal of Women and the Law.

    Law School Dean Bill Powers said, "We obviously support academic conferences for our students and the public, and this conference was a very effective and appropriate conference on the role of women in Islamic law."
     
  24. DMF

    DMF Member

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    Not exactly true. The Army and Air Force are restricted by 18USC1385 (Posse Comitatus Act) from conducting civilian LE, BUT that statute does allow Congress to create exceptions. 10USC375 of the US Code has prohibited direct participation by all active duty military personnel (not just Army and Air Force) in search, seizure and arrest of civilians. However, Title 10 also has several sections which allow active duty military personnel to participate in civilian LE in support roles only, under specific circumstances. As mentioned earlier 18USC1385 allows for those exceptions.

    The National Guard, when under the control of the state, is not restricted by 18USC1385, and therefore we have seen many occasions where Governors of various states have used Guard troops to assist in civilian LE.
     
  25. WT

    WT Member

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    There have been many cases where the regular armed forces of the US enforced civilian law. Off the top of my head I can remember a brigade of the 101st Airborne Division being sent to Detroit as well as regular Marines being used in South Central Los Angeles.

    The use of the regular military for law enforcement goes back a long time, to the Whiskey Rebellion if I remember correctly.

    I am sure that during the Vietnam War thousands of US soldiers were in undercover roles at US college campuses, infiltrating radical organizations.
     
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