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Tag: Americans

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Demonizing American Muslims Accomplishes Nothing

Donald Trump supporter yells at Muslim woman at a rally in Detroit. Photo by Steve Neavling.

Donald Trump supporter yells at Muslim woman at a rally in Detroit. Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Editorial Board
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The bombs planted in New York and New Jersey on Sunday appear to have been the work of a radicalized Muslim man whose behavior and international travel followed familiar patterns.

Some prominent American political figures suggest that the way to deal with people like Ahmad Khan Rahami is to seal up our borders, isolate and profile members of domestic Muslim communities, and impose bans on all people traveling from nations where radicalized Muslims have operated previously.

Such responses appeal to the worst xenophobic tendencies among us, but they won’t solve the terrorism problem. In fact, they are certain to make it worse.

U.S. law enforcers at all levels depend on the cooperation of Muslim communities for intelligence about individuals who pose security threats. Police and FBI investigators cannot be everywhere. The people most attuned to what’s happening in their neighborhoods are the ones who worship at mosques, attend school and interact daily with potentially radicalized individuals.

Many serve as informants, and they do so in secret specifically because their lives could be in jeopardy if their status became known to the individuals under surveillance. Because it’s happening in secret, non-Muslim Americans have little appreciation for the reality.

Hate crimes against Muslims in America have reached their highest levels since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

To read more click here. 

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Increasingly Conducting Undercover Stings to Investigate Suspected ISIS Supporters

ISIS flag

ISIS flag

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is increasingly conducting undercover operations to investigate American suspected of supporting ISIS.

The New York Times found that stings are used in about two-thirds of the terrorism cases, a significant increase over the past two years. 

Nearly 90 Americans have been charged for allegedly supporting ISIS.

The FBI’s secret operations involve agents and informants who pose as bomb makers, jihadist and gun dealers. The agents have helped suspects acquire weapons, bombing targets and routs to Syria.

“We’re not going to wait for the person to mobilize on his own time line,” said Michael B. Steinbach, who leads the F.B.I.’s national security branch.

He said the F.B.I. can’t afford to “just sit and wait knowing the individual is actively plotting.”

U.S. on Pace for Record Number of Background Checks for Firearms This Year

handgun-photoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

So many Americans are buying guns that the FBI is on track for a record number of firearm background checks this year, CNN reports. 

Since the end of November, the FBI processed 19.8 million background checks this year – the highest number ever recorded through the first 11 months of a year.

The FBI began operating the National Instant Background Check System, or NICS, 17 years ago. Since then, the bureau has processed 222.4 million background checks and denied 1.3 million of them.

The background checks are the most reliable way to determine approximately how many guns are sold in the U.S.

CNN reported that the gun industry is doing well, with major gun makers seeing surging stock prices.

FBI Director: Fewer Americans Trying to Join ISIS Abroad As Crackdown Continues

ISIS flag

ISIS flag

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Fewer Americans are traveling abroad to join ISIS, FBI Director James Comey said on Wednesday.

The remarks before the House Homeland Security Committee are welcoming news after investigators saw an uptick in ISIS involvement, The Associated Press reports. 

In the past three months, the FBI is aware of six people who tried to join ISIS, compared to an average of nine a month.

Comey said he wasn’t certain why fewer people were joining, but he said the FBI has stepped up efforts against ISIS recruiting Americans.

In just the past year, dozens of Americans have been arrested for allegedly supporting ISIS.

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Director Comey Makes Case for Position on Encryption

James ComeyBy FBI Director James Comey
Lawfare

I am worried we are talking past each other with respect to “Going Dark,” so let me try to frame it in a way that I hope is fair-minded and provides a basis for healthy discussion:
These are things I believe to be true:
1. The logic of encryption will bring us, in the not-to-distant future, to a place where devices and data in motion are protected by universal strong encryption. That is, our conversations and our “papers and effects” will be locked in such a way that permits access only by participants to a conversation or the owner of the device holding the data.
2. There are many benefits to this. Universal strong encryption will protect all of us—our innovation, our private thoughts, and so many other things of value—from thieves of all kinds. We will all have lock-boxes in our lives that only we can open and in which we can store all that is valuable to us. There are lots of good things about this.
3. There are many costs to this. Public safety in the United States has relied for a couple centuries on the ability of the government, with predication, to obtain permission from a court to access the “papers and effects” and communications of Americans. The Fourth Amendment reflects a trade-off inherent in ordered liberty: To protect the public, the government sometimes needs to be able to see an individual’s stuff, but only under appropriate circumstances and with appropriate oversight.
To read more click here. 

DEA Sued Following Discovery That Agency Collected Americans’ Phone Records

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone call records violated the constitutional rights of Americans, alleges the Human Rights Watch in a lawsuit against the agency.

Forbes reports that the suit comes just a day after a USA Today report on the surveillance program.

The DEA reportedly amassed billions of phone records in the decade before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The suit alleges the DEA violated Americans’ first and fourth amendments by conducting “untargeted and suspicionless surveillance of Americans.“

“The NSA isn’t the only federal agency collecting Americans’ call records in bulk,” said EFF staff attorney Mark Rumold. “The DEA’s program is yet another example of federal agencies overreaching their surveillance authority in secret. We are asking the court to require the government to destroy the records it illegally collected no matter where they are held, and to declare—once and for all—that bulk collection of Americans’ records is unconstitutional.’’

Other Stories of Inerest


Column: Americans Have Little Reason to Trust Secret Service After Recent Blunders

secret service photo

By Glenn Harlan Reynolds
USA Today Column

There’s a connection between the Secret Service’s Colombian hooker scandal and Americans’ increased worry about Ebola. Both have to do with trust.

Until recently, if you’d asked Americans to pick government institutions characterized by efficiency and professionalism, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Secret Service would likely have been at the top of the list. In both cases, recent evidence now suggests otherwise. And that’s especially destructive because both agencies depend on trust to do their jobs.

In the case of the Secret Service, the story comes in two parts — first, the 2012 scandal involving Secret Service agents boozing and carousing with prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia, ahead of a visit by President Obama, and second, the apparent coverup that gave favored treatment to a White House worker who was the son of an Obama donor.

Prostitution is legal in parts of Colombia, but Secret Service agents aren’t supposed to be getting drunk and cavorting with hookers while on official business, as that poses an obvious risk to security. When the scandal broke, nearly two dozen Secret Service agents and members of the military on the advance team were fired or punished. Butone person got a pass — a White House advance team employee who had a woman, who advertises herself as a hooker, overnight in his room. According to investigators, they got pressure from the White House to delay the report until after the 2012 election, and to “withhold and alter certain information in the report of investigation because it was potentially embarrassing to the administration.”

To read more click here.

Parker: Marijuana Use Up among American Teens on the Rise

Ross Parker

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office.
By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

The use of marijuana by American teens continues to increase. Unlike use of other drugs and alcohol, which are either decreasing or remaining stable, the use by 8th and 10th graders went up 1.3 and 1.8 % in 2013, according to the Monitoring the Future study conducted by the University of Michigan of 40,000 to 50,000 teen agers in 389 private and public secondary schools.

Even more important than this result is the sharp decline among teens in the perception that marijuana use is risky. During the preceding eight years the percentage of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders who see great risk from regular pot use has gone down from 74 to 61%, 66 to 47%, and 58 to 40%, respectively.

Another significant finding is that, during the years 2012 and 2013 in states where medical marijuana is legal, one-third of the 12th grade users say that one of their sources is another person’s medical marijuana prescription.

The most encouraging result of the study is that the use of “synthetic” marijuana is decreasing significantly, and the use of bath salts remains stable at a relatively low level. Moreover, teens increasingly report that the risk of these synthetics is great. This result seems to credit the work of DEA, local law enforcement and other sources to publicize the significant dangers of these drugs, as well as the speedy scheduling and aggressive enforcement activity.

Drug use in decline among teens include: narcotics (other than heroin), OxyContin, Vicodin, and most hallucinogens. Alcohol use is also down, the lowest in over two decades. Drugs that are essentially stable in use include: heroin, LSD, amphetamines, Adderall, methamphetamine, Ketamines and steroids.

The study was funded by research grants from the National Institute of Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health. It was conducted by research professors at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. 2013 was the 39th year that the study has been conducted. The results will be published in a volume of Monitoring the Future National Results on Adolescent Drug Use later this year.