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Archive for August 26th, 2015

American-Arab Advocate: More Transparency Needed Over FBI Spy Planes

fbi-logBy Fatina Abdrarraboh
for Detroit News

Earlier this month, The Detroit News reported about a series of missions by an FBI spy plane over Dearborn. The plane, which is outfitted with a night vision camera and listening device equipment, flew over a portion of Dearborn and Melvindale for multiple nights. Melvindale has a growing Arab-American population. The section of Dearborn that was flown over have two mosques around the flight pattern of this particular spy plane.

The FBI claims that the flights over this area were not for surveilling the community and are routinely used to track drug dealers and violent extremists. In a statement, FBI Special Agent in Charge of Metro Detroit Paul Abbate stated, “The FBI does not employ aviation assets to conduct mass surveillance, nor to target specific communities…Further, the FBI Detroit Field Office is not aware of any specific or credible threats within the local Detroit Metropolitan Area.”

Given a lack of transparency regarding what spy planes are really doing, as well as the FBI’s track record locally, a number of questions remain unanswered.

Since the FBI stated there were no specific or credible threats, why were they flying over one particular area for multiple nights? Given that the FBI has used the problematic practice of sending informants into mosques, are they also able to take pictures of cars in one location, like in a mosque parking lot? When using their listening equipment on the spy plane, are they listening and capturing private cell phone conversations?

In recent years, the ACLU uncovered a 2009 FBI memorandum stating that Dearborn was on their radar “because Michigan has a large Middle Eastern and Muslim population, it is prime territory for attempted radicalization and recruitment by terrorist groups.” There is no evidence to suggest that this mapping has ceased, even though there is not a single conviction involving a local Muslim going abroad to join an extremist group in the past decade from the community’s approximately 300,000 people.

Our respective organizations’ constituents, Metro Detroit, and indeed the country have much at stake in the pursuit to ensure individual rights and liberties are protected. We appreciate The Detroit News’ reporting, which provoked questions about the spy plane as well as similar issues prior to this. Investigative reporting is what differentiates open and democratic societies from totalitarian ones. It is media which helps to keep the nation’s citizenry informed in order that we can be more aware when holding our government accountable.

To read more click here. 

Fatina Abdrarraboh is director of American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee – Michigan.

 

Border Patrol Supervisor Pleads Guilty to Stealing Late Grandmother’s Social Security Benefits

courtroomBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol supervisor in South Texas pleaded guilty Tuesday to theft of government property after stealing his late grandmother’s Social Security benefits, Click 2 Houston reports. 

James J. Doran faces up to 10 years in prison.

Doran was accused of failing to report his grandmother’s death so that he could collect her and her widow’s Social Security benefits.

Prosecutors said the money was deposited into an account that Doran shared with his grandmother.

Nearly $109,000 was collected since her death.

Feds Bust Largest On-Line Male Escort Service, Arresting 7 Current, Former Employees

handcuffsBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Federal authorities busted what they called the largest online male-escort service and arrested seven people allegedly linked to the website Rentboy.com, The New York Times reports. 

Authorities arrested the site’s chief executive, Jeffrey Hurant, 50, and six current or former employees.

The defendants appeared in Federal District Court in Brooklyn on Tuesday on charges of promoting prostitution.

The criminal complaint alleges that escorts listed their profiles with a list of sexual services and fees.

The site made $10 million in sales since 2010, according to the complaint.

Man Who Hopped White Fence Killed by Sheriff’s Deputy in Pennsylvania Courthouse

white house big photoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A 34-year-old man who hopped a White House fence because he wanted to pass a message to President Obama was killed Tuesday by deputy sheriff after allegedly swinging a knife at a courthouse in Pennsylvania.

Philly.com reports that Curtis Smith was accused of trying to slash a deputy sheriff with a knife when another deputy sheriff shot Smith at the Criminal Justice Center in Chester County near Philadelphia.

Smith, who was charged with unlawful entry in the White House fence jumping incident, was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

County District Attorney Tom Hogan said he attack was “random, not personal, and a cousin described the incident as “death by cop.”

“He definitely was distraught. Curtis had been crying out for help, but everyone had been ignoring him,” Walton told the Daily News. “The jumping the White House fence was an attempted suicide.”

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