[sixties-l] Police-FBI Roundups Not New (fwd)

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Date: Mon Dec 10 2001 - 18:18:08 EST

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    Date: Sat, 08 Dec 2001 13:03:49 -0800
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: Police-FBI Roundups Not New

    Police-FBI Roundups Not New


    by Earl Ofari Hutchinson, AlterNet
    December 5, 2001

    Civil libertarians hailed the recent decision by Portland police officials
    not to help the FBI indiscriminately grill Middle Eastern immigrants.
    Police officials in San Francisco and Minneapolis though they did not
    flatly refuse to aid the FBI hunt still expressed deep unease about the
    pending round-up.
    There's a good reason they should.
    The FBI has given no evidence that the more than 5,000 individuals they
    seek to question have any ties to the September 11 terror attackers, have
    committed any crimes or are in the country illegally. Attorney-General John
    Ashcroft has refused to give any assurance that the FBI's new round-up will
    bag more terrorists. Without that official assurance the at random
    questioning of Muslim immigrants smacks of racial profiling.
    The seed for the government ethnic targeting of Arab-Americans was planted
    in the 1960s. The ghetto riots that rocked hundreds of American cities
    triggered the first major escalation in police power. The 1968 Civil Rights
    Act gave police and federal agencies broader authority to conduct
    surveillance and wiretaps against groups and individuals considered a
    threat to national security. FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, with the full
    blessing of President Lyndon Johnson, escalated its illegal, and
    super-secret counter-intelligence program, popularly known as COINTELPRO,
    specifically designed to harass, intimidate, and neutralize black militant
    In the 1970s, Congressional investigators probing Hoover's spy program
    marveled at its scope. From 1964 to 1969, the FBI assembled a small army of
    more than 7,500 "ghetto informants" (known) and hundreds of FBI agents in a
    deadly national campaign to name names and compile dossiers on thousands of
    African-Americans whom it claimed were connected with the Black Muslims,
    Black Panthers, and civil rights leaders and activists.
    The FBI listed the individuals targeted for questioning and surveillance
    under categories variously called, "Rabble Rouser Index," "Agitator index"
    and the "Security Index." Individuals wound up on the FBI's security watch
    list if they attended a political meeting, donated a few dollars to a
    political group, or were rumored to be sympathetic toward political causes.
    What made the Portland police's refusal to aid and abet in the FBI's
    current political hunt astounding, though, is that police officials have
    routinely cooperated in past FBI stop, search and question campaigns
    against those whom they tag as racial or political subversives. A provision
    in the 1968 Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act made it even easier
    for the FBI to rope local police departments in on its political hunts.
    Congress kicked out $5 million to expand the police training programs at
    the FBI National Academy.
    In 1969, the number of police in the program leaped from 200 to 2000. In
    the decades since then, police officials thousands of local and foreign
    police officials have received training in riot control, interrogation and
    intelligence gathering procedures the FBI academy.
    During those years police departments in Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago,
    Detroit, and New York either established, or expanded, their "red squads"
    in cooperation with, or apart from the FBI, to collect information on
    thousands of individuals suspected of being sympathizers or supporters of
    militant political organizations. In 1970, Seattle police blew the cover on
    FBI-police political hunts when it publicly balked at aiding the FBI in a
    planned raid on local Panther offices. The FBI had produced no tangible
    proof that the group had committed any crimes.
    Police officials in other cities will soon have to decide whether they will
    aid and abet the FBI in its hunt or follow the example of Portland police.
    Justice Dept. officials say they want to interview more than 600 persons
    all of Middle Eastern descent throughout the Midwest. They have notified
    them by letter that they will be questioned. The FBI has formally requested
    that a local police officer be present during the questioning.
    But what if some of those targeted for questioning refuse to
    cooperate? Though they are not accused of committing any crimes, or having
    any links with the terror attackers, will FBI agents haul them in for
    questioning? And will police officials help them? If so, will the FBI
    detain them as they have hundreds of others with no charges against them
    and with only the shaky assurance from Ashcroft that they have access to
    attorneys, and are allowed visits from family and friends? The search to
    ferret out those who belong to what Ashcroft calls "hidden terror cells"
    will escalate. Almost certainly hundreds more names will be added to the
    FBI's secret list of those it wants to question. And almost all of them
    will be Muslims.
    The Portland police sent a strong message that they will not engage in the
    FBI's political fishing expedition, which tramples on the civil rights of
    individuals without evidence of wrongdoing. Other police departments would
    do well to join them.
    Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and columnist. Visit his news and
    opinion Web site: www.thehutchinsonreport.com

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