2/17/2009 Newsletter

Contents:

  • Community Conversation on Ending Police Brutality
  • Rally Calls for Investigation into Police Caused Deaths
  • Sue the Bastards!
  • Targeting the RNCWC: A Case Study in Political Paranoia
  • Police Agencies Seek to Jam Cell Signals

COMMUNITY CONVERSATION ON ENDING POLICE BRUTALITY

Thursday, February 19
6:30 p.m.
Minneapolis Urban League
2100 Plymouth Ave, Minneapolis

As a follow up to our rally last week, we are calling on the community to come together to explore ideas for ending police brutality. We have a few ideas to put forward but believe many in the community will have other ideas to share. The conversation is necessary and overdue. The goal is to come out of this meeting with concrete plans.


RALLY CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION INTO POLICE-CAUSED DEATHS

BY Keith Hovis & Karlee Weinmann
PUBLISHED: 02/11/2009
http://www.mndaily.com/2009/02/10/rally-calls-investigation-police-caused-deaths#comment-7180

NOTE: Through this rally, we learned that the supposedly stolen car was, in fact, lent to Ahmed Guled by a friend and that Ahmed was on his way to visit his father, who had just returned from Somalia. Yet the mainstream media continues to promote the lie that Ahmed was eluding police in a stolen car. The Strib is now referring to a "possibly stolen car" but continues to parrot the lie that Ahmed posed a danger to the cops by simply driving down the street, per multiple witnesses, at 20 mph.

Under gray skies and icy rain, Ahmed Gulad’s family huddled together Wednesday by a north Minneapolis park on the street where, last week, police shot and killed their brother, son and nephew.

As they spoke to a crowd of about 40 supporters at a rally organized by Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB), family members wept and called for an independent investigation into Gulad’s Feb. 5 death.

According to Minneapolis police, the killing was labeled as a “justified homicide,”’ as the officers involved said they felt their lives were threatened by Gulad, 23.

While Minneapolis police Sgt. Jesse Garcia said the police video camera corroborates the officers’ details of the events, CUAPB President Michelle Gross and Gulad’s family believes his death was unnecessary.

Through a translator, Gulad’s grandmother said the family recently moved from Somalia to Minneapolis. After escaping unrest in their war-torn homeland, she said, Gulad fell victim to violence in America.

“The bullet of the government that’s supposed to save him, killed him,” she said.

Gulad’s father said through a translator that he expected the city to take the case seriously.

The family also said the police have shown little sympathy since Gulad’s death, and approached CUAPB along with the family of Quincy Smith, a radio personality from KMOJ who died on Dec. 9 after police used a Taser on him, ultimately causing heart failure.

Garcia said the deaths are being investigated, but Gross said she believes investigations conducted on cases of police brutality often aren’t transparent, which leads to questions about the quality of the investigations.

It’s common for deaths caused by police to be labeled “justified homicides” before a proper investigation is even performed, Gross said.

The rally was important because it’s up to the Minneapolis community to stand up when police do something wrong, otherwise the police will not have to answer for questionable practices, she added.

“The community has to figure out we need and deserve a quality police force that’s accountable,” Gross said. “I’m not trying to say everything sucks, but I am trying to say we need good. We demand good.”

Both Gulad and Smith were black, and Gross said those from minority groups are common victims of police brutality, which she said is largely confined to people of color, poor people and homeless people.

“People who have less power in society,” Gross said, “police find them easy targets.”

Gross said CUAPB receives five to 12 complaints of police brutality per week. One thing incidents have in common is the majority of the victims have been “falsely charged.”

False charges, according to Gross, happen when police charge a person with a crime, usually disorderly conduct, fourth or fifth degree assault or obstructing legal process, in order to justify the police’s actions.

Gross hopes Wednesday’s rally will be a movement toward change and more regulation of police.

The police, meanwhile, have come to question CUAPB’s motives. Garcia said he believes the rally has lost its focus. “They seem to differ on anything that is law abiding,” he said of CUAPB.

Wednesday’s demonstration was a peaceful one, without police presence.

At the park, as cars slowly passed and honked to support the cause, Gulad’s brother, Assad Ali, 20, said he was out of tears to cry.

“This weather isn’t cold, but the world is,” he said. “You can deal with the weather, but you can’t deal with this world.”


SUE THE BASTARDS!

The Community RNC Arrestee Support Structure (CRASS)'s campaign for civil litigation is up and moving! Workshops, actions, and deadlines are rapidly approaching, so look below for important information. Civil litigation is a great way to hold the state accountable for the police violence and repression during the RNC, and has the potential to strengthen our movement through community organizing and political victories.

Mardi Gras Action!!!
Tues. Feb 24th Noon
State Capitol lawn (St. Paul).
We will turn in our Notices of Claim forms and have a musical procession through downtown. Bring your instruments, Mardi Gras costumes, Notice of Claim forms, friends & neighbors.

Civil Litigation Workshop
Sun. Feb. 22nd 2-4:30pm
Bedlam Theater Rehearsal Space
Learn everything you ever wanted to know about how to sue The Man! Notices of Claim, class action and group claims, the history of civil lit- all this and more at the exciting second installment of Civil Lit 101. We will also prepare for the Mardi Gras action so bring arts & crafts supplies if you got em.

If you can't make it or live out of town, fear not! All this info and more is online at www.rncaftermath.org/get-involved/civil-litigation-information. Detailed information about Notices of Claim (and the forms themselves) are available. Deadlines to turn in these forms start on Feb. 24th so fill yours out (two copies) and send them to us ASAP at:

CRASS c/o Coldsnap
PO Box 50514
Minneapolis MN 55405

Questions? Want to get involved? email us at suethebastards@riseup.net


TARGETING THE RNC WELCOMING COMMITTEE:
A CASE STUDY IN POLITICAL PARANOIA

http://antifascist-calling.blogspot.com/2009/02/targeting-rnc-welcoming-committee-case.html
by Tom Burghardt

Political repression comes in all shapes and sizes: from the beat cop smashing the head of a demonstrator to the bureaucrat adding a name to a watch list. While the former has an immediate and shocking effect, the latter, more insidious and far-reaching in its probable consequences to the individual, is less amenable to redress. Once indexed, always indexed.

Certainly one of the more sinister trends in America today are the multiplicity of partnerships among state security agencies and their analogues in the corporate world. Indeed, many CIA or FBI officers upon retirement join the highly-lucrative and unaccountable world of corporate spying. Nowhere are these revolving-door relationships more toxic to a democracy than in the area of political intelligence.

A March 27, 2008 document prepared by the now-defunct Highway Watch (HW), a "public-private partnership" administered by the virulently anti-union American Trucking Associations (ATA)--a key member of the oxymoronic Coalition for a Democratic Workplace--and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Security Operations Center (DHS) has been published by the whistleblowing website Wikileaks.

Authored by Cory Kutcher, a former intelligence analyst with HW's Information Sharing & Analysis Center (ISAC) and now a government analyst "in the Defense and Space Industry" according to LinkedIn, the dossier is a veritable case study in political paranoia and pseudo-academic posturing. Breathless allegations and dire pronouncements abound which helped set the stage for wholesale repression.

The focus of Kutcher's report was the anarchist/anti-authoritarian RNC Welcoming Committee (RNC-WC). Right from the outset, misrepresentations served the purpose of eliciting a harsh response from police. Kutcher warns "it is likely that they [RNC-WC] will target transportation infrastructure."

In HW's paranoid scenario, blocking traffic and civil disobedience was transformed into a scenario where hordes of masked anarchists utilizing a "diversity of tactics" threatend chaos in the furtherance of "terrorism."

Background

The Republican National Committee (RNC) held its quadrennial convention in St. Paul, Minnesota on September 1-4, 2008. As I reported in November ("Preemptive Policing & the National Security State: Repressing Dissent at the Republican National Convention," Antifascist Calling, November 18, 2008), the Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management agency (HSEM), in tandem with the United States Secret Service (USSS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and United States Northern Command (NORTHCOM) conspired to squelch dissent during the far-right conclave.

Having declared the RNC a National Security Special Event (NSSE), one that derived its "authorization" to target activists and journalists from the top secret 2006 National Security Presidential Directive-46/Homeland Security Presidential Directive-15 (NSPD-46/HSPD-15), local, state and federal law enforcement entities, the U.S. military, intelligence agencies such as the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and corporate partners in the telecommunications industry and elsewhere, preemptively disrupted legal political dissent by a score of protest groups.

Prior to and during the Convention, local and state police and the FBI, raided the homes and organizing spaces of activists and media workers, seizing video equipment, cameras, cell phones and computers that were to be used to document the event. Under the pretext of preventing "terrorism," agencies selectively targeted organizers on the basis of information provided authorities by informants and provocateurs.

The extent of state operations against dissenting citizens was revealed when Wikileaks published a leaked planning document, "Special Event Planning: 2008 Republican National Convention," a 31-page schematic compiled by HSEM.

As I reported in January ("Betrayed! FBI Provocateur Sets-Up Anti-RNC Activists on Trumped-Up 'Terrorism' Charges," Antifascist Calling, January 7, 2009), one FBI asset, Brandon Michael Darby, "carried out a thorough surveillance operation that dated back to at least 18 months before the Republican gathering," according The New York Times and a sworn affidavit by his handler, Special Agent Christopher Langert.

One of the defendants in the so-called "Texas Two" trial who were Darby's targets, David McKay, was freed on $25,000 bail February 3, after a mistrial was declared in his case according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. A re-trial is set for March 16. McKay's codefendant, Bradley Crowder, pled guilty January 8 to charges of manufacturing explosive devices. Both face 10 years in prison.

The Wikileaks disclosure of Highway Watch's "Plans to Target Transportation Infrastructure Surrounding Republican National Convention," provides further documentation of extensive federal, state and corporate targeting of political dissent in America under the guise of "national security."

Long-time readers of Antifascist Calling are certainly aware of the protection afforded actual terrorists by the Bureau when it served the geopolitical interests of the national security state. The case of al-Qaeda triple agent Ali Mohamed is certainly one of many illustrative examples.

"Social Networking" as Political Paranoia

As a subset of applied mathematics, social network theory purports to uncover hidden links and relationships amongst social groups and networks and has over time, become an invasive tool deployed by private and state intelligence agencies against political activists.

According to the theory, by monitoring the communication patterns between various targeted nodes, a networked structure is discernible, one amenable to infiltration and disruption by a security agency. Indeed, in the context of HW's discourse social network- and link analysis was applied for mass surveillance of dissident groups such as the RNC-WC prior to the Republican Party National Convention.

Having identified the RNC-WC as an enemy to be contained at all costs, HW cites the group's open, legal political organizing, including obtaining "financial support" and "increased membership via the internet" as well as "public appearances at various locations across the US," as a significant factor that rendered the group a legitimate target for surveillance and disruption.

One can argue, as did the late civil liberties scholar Frank Donner, that the RNC-WC's legal organizing made them doubly suspect in the eyes of securocrats. In so far as the group's stated goal was to expose the "enormous amount of ... horror and devastation currently experienced by the world and its peoples" by the Republican Party, their dissident stance transformed them into dangerous "others," ripe pickings for "aggressive intelligence." Donner wrote,
The FBI's assertedly modest intelligence function as an early warning alert to prosecutors and a decision-making resource masks its true role as a weapon against threats to the existing order. Planned injury, implemented by an illegal autonomous system of power, explains domestic intelligence far more convincingly than either the "pure" or "preventative" intelligence thesis. Investigation and accumulation of information are at root merely the means to the ends of punishment, intimidation, frustration, and defeat of movements for change of any kind. (The Age of Surveillance, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1980, p. 177)

In the context of a private entity such as Highway Watch ("an autonomous system of power"), funded by a public (though largely unaccountable) agency, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, a new hybrid methodology of repression emerges in the 21st century. Exempt from oversight by the citizens who fund it, Highway Watch and associated groups, combine the plausible deniability of intelligence agencies with a twist: as a private organization, public rules of disclosure and accountability do not apply. Right up front, HW asserts:

The following document is "FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY" and "LAW ENFORCEMENT SENSITIVE." It contains information that may be exempt from public release under the Freedom of Information Act, (5 U.S.C. 552). This document is to be controlled, handled, transmitted, distributed, and disposed of in accordance with DHS policy relating to FOUO information and is not to be released to the public, the media, or other personnel who do not have a valid "need-to-know" without prior approval of an authorized DHS official. No portion of this report should be furnished to the media, either in written or verbal form. Any requests for further dissemination outside of the intelligence and law enforcement community should be referred to the HWW-ISAC. (HW, p. 1)

As a direct action organization, RNC-WC endorsed disruptive but nonviolent tactics to bring the Convention to a halt. Civil disobedience and blockade tactics have long enjoyed a prominent place amongst left-wings groups and organizations, ranging from the Labor Movement of the 1930s to the Civil Rights and Antiwar Movements of the 1960s, through the Antinuclear, Antiapartheid and Central American Solidarity Movements of the 1980s and continue to do so today.

A central tenet guiding the organization of protest activities is the proviso that participants only engage in activities for which they are prepared--morally and legally. While some activists willingly engage in "self-defense" of blockade zones, others may not wish to risk arrest and therefore, exercise a purely support function. A wide diversity of tactics ensure the broadest participation. However for HW "intelligence analysts," this "layered approach" is indicative of nefarious intent.

The amount of information researched about the transportation infrastructure in the area is high (see Appendix 1 & 2). Overall, photographs placed on the RNC-WC website show a pattern of bridge and roadway pre-surveillance (Figure 1). RNC-WC's members have proposed numerous methods of disrupting or closing the RNC, using the transportation infrastructure. These methods include setting vehicle tires on fire underneath expressway bridges, to decrease motorist visibility, or planting stalled vehicles, to limit thoroughfare access. Also, members have suggested spreading large metal chains across highway lanes or placing star-nails (caltrops) on access roads to restrict access to the RNC. The group also disclosed plans to use dump trucks to spill dirt or other large materials onto the road. Law enforcement should consider monitoring all potential methods to restrict or block traffic. (HW, pp. 2-3)

The sources cited by HW for the RNC-WC's alleged plans to "target infrastructure" through sabotage? Two FBI Intelligence Information Reports, FBI IIR 4 201 1401 08 and FBI IIR 4 201 0748 08. The origin of these unsubstantiated claims most probably were provocateurs who themselves advocated these tactics as a means to set-up the RNC-WC for preemptive action by the Bureau.

To complete the picture of an out-of-control conspiracy, HW cites the RNC-WC's collaboration with "other anarchist/anti-authoritarian groups, such as Unconventional Action (UA)," as evidence of the group's illicit activity. As evidence of conspiratorial intent, HW avers,

The UA website posts copies of its own strategies, general anarchist guides/principles and a list of anarchist contacts across the country. On Feb. 9, 2008, the two groups co-sponsored an event called the "Northwest DNC/RNC Resistance Conference" at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. The "workshop" discussed topics "ranging from street tactics to supporting protests" and even had childcare available for its participants. Unconventional Action states that, after the completion of the Democratic National Convention (DNC), members will travel to Minneapolis to assist with the RNC effort. This will provide a quality venue for sharing information concerning general security procedures and effective counter-measures. Furthermore, at least one protest/anarchist group (i.e. PNC2RNC) is using an "open" wiki (accessible to the public, but only members can edit) as its website. Therefore, "private" wikis (only members can access and edit) may be in use to share tactics and/or strategy among these individuals or groups which are located across the United States. (HW, p. 4)

And in order to buttress its charge that RNC-WC and related anarchist groups are intent on violent confrontations rather than hard-edged civil disobedience, HW ominously declares:

The community at large appears to be a decentralized network since it does not possess one central hub; however, it does possess several important hubs. Consequently, these networks are more difficult to disrupt due to their loose connections and easy ability to replace damaged or compromised nodes. As such, the national convention anarchists are following the pattern of most terror networks in this aspect. (HW, p. 5, emphasis added)

Utilizing social network and link analysis to underscore their claims, HW purport that hyperlinks on various websites are indicative of the "power centrality" of the RNC-WC and UA to anti-Democratic and Republican Convention organizers. That like-minded groups pursuing a goal--the disruption of the political conventions of the major capitalist parties--would actually communicate with one another comes as a shock to these jokers!

The RNC-WC also possesses the highest amount of betweenness in this community. The Protest RNC 2008 and UA groups directly follow it. Overall, betweenness refers to the number of groups that a node, or individual group, has indirect ties to through the direct links that it possesses. In other words, it represents the number of times that a node lies along the shortest path between two others. Nodes with a high degree of betweenness act as liaisons or bridges to other nodes in the structure. Consequently, the concept shows the potential importance and information sharing capabilities that the RNC-WC, UA, Protest RNC 2008, and DNC Disruption 08 represent to the rest of the community. (HW, p. 5)

In the minds of HW analysts however, "the RNC-WC's early formation, comprehensive membership drives, strategic partnerships, and flexibility will likely result in a more robust and balanced effort than in recent conventions. Consequently, security will likely be more to difficult to maintain than in previous years."

But as we have seen, the national security state's response was to initiate a preemptive strategy that targeted activists, journalists and the public in order to keep the lid on, marginalizing dissenting citizens and portraying them as violent extremists to be repressed.


POLICE AGENCIES SEEK TO JAM CELL SIGNALS
Wireless industry worries about expansion of technology's use

By Spencer S. Hsu
The Washington Post
Jan. 31, 2009
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28956016/page/2/

WASHINGTON - As President Obama's motorcade rolled down Pennsylvania Avenue on Inauguration Day, federal authorities deployed a closely held law enforcement tool: equipment that can jam cellphones and other wireless devices to foil remote-controlled bombs, sources said.

It is an increasingly common technology, with federal agencies expanding its use as state and local agencies are pushing for permission to do the same. Police and others say it could stop terrorists from coordinating during an attack, prevent suspects from erasing evidence on wireless devices, simplify arrests and keep inmates from using contraband phones.

But jamming remains strictly illegal for state and local agencies. Federal officials barely acknowledge that they use it inside the United States, and the few federal agencies that can jam signals usually must seek a legal waiver first.

The quest to expand the technology has invigorated a debate about how widely jamming should be allowed and whether its value as a common crime-fighting strategy outweighs its downsides, including restricting the constant access to the airwaves that Americans have come to expect.

"Jamming is a blunt instrument," said Joe Farren, vice president of government affairs for the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association. He and others pointed out that when authorities disable wireless service, whether during a terrorist attack or inside a prison, that action can also stop the calls that could help in an emergency. During November's raids in Mumbai, for example, citizens relied on cellphones to direct police to the assailants.

Jamming in downtown D.C.

Propelled by the military's experience with roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan, jamming technology has evolved to counter bombs triggered by cellphones, garage openers, remote controls for toy cars or other devices that emit radio signals. Federal authorities rank improvised bombs, which are cheap and adaptable, as one of the greatest terrorist threats to the West.

On Inauguration Day, federal authorities were authorized to jam signals at some locations in downtown Washington, according to current and former federal officials. The Secret Service and other officials declined to provide specific details, some of which are classified.

Most of the nearly 2 million people attending the swearing-in and along the parade route would have been oblivious to any unusual disruption.

"Chances are, you wouldn't even notice it was there," said Howard Melamed, an executive with CellAntenna Corp., a small Coral Springs, Fla., company that produces jamming equipment. If someone in the crowd was on a call, they might have confused the jamming with a dropped signal. "Your phone may go off network," he said. In other cases, "it may never signal, if it's a quick interruption."

Industry officials said that radio-jammers work in several ways: They can send a barrage of energy that drowns out signals across multiple bands or produce a surge of energy on a particular frequency. In other instances, the devices detect and disrupt a suspicious signal, a technique known as "scan and jam."

Private citizens get gear

Some private citizens, hoping to eliminate cellphone calls in restaurants, churches or theaters, have tapped into an underground market of jamming equipment that has trickled into the United States. But that, too, is illegal under the 70-year-old federal telecommunications act, which bans jamming commercial radio signals. The Federal Communications Commission has begun to crack down on private use, which is punishable by an $11,000 fine.

The U.S. military is capable of shutting down communications across a wide area and has done so overseas, including when it has conducted raids to capture suspects. To counter explosives, devices can be set to jam signals for a distance of 50 to 500 meters, for example, or enough to allow a car to pass out of the blast zone of a small bomb.

Some federal agencies, including the FBI and the Secret Service, have standing authority to use jamming equipment or can request waivers from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, a Commerce Department agency, when there is an imminent threat, a federal official said.

Jamming has been approved in the past for major events, ranging from State of the Union addresses to visits by certain foreign dignitaries, according to a federal official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about the subject.

After transit bombings in Europe, the Department of Homeland Security reached an agreement in 2006 under the National Communications System with cellphone companies to voluntarily shut down service under certain circumstances, which could disable signals for areas ranging from a tunnel to an entire metropolitan region, a DHS official said.

Local demands

Much of the controversy has been fueled by the growing demands from state and local governments.

In the District, corrections officials won permission from the FCC for a brief test of jamming technology at the D.C. jail last month, after citing the "alarming rate" of contraband phones being seized at prisons around the country.

"Cell phones are used by inmates to engage in highly pernicious behavior such as the intimidation of witnesses, coordination of escapes, and the conducting of criminal enterprises," D.C. corrections chief Devon Brown wrote to the federal agency.

The test has been put on hold because of a legal challenge, but the city will keep seeking permission, said D.C. Attorney General Peter J. Nickles.

Texas prison officials made a similar request last fall after a death row inmate placed an illicit call threatening a state legislator, and South Carolina corrections officials said their department staged a test without permission in November.

In a pilot project, the FBI deputized about 10 local bomb squads across the country in 2007 so they could use a small number of radio jammers similar to the military equipment used overseas.

Friendly reception in Congress

The local pleas for expanded permission are beginning to get a friendly reception on Capitol Hill. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), chairman of the Senate homeland security committee, plans to introduce legislation that would give law enforcement agencies "the tools they need to selectively jam" communications in the event of a terrorist attack, a spokeswoman said.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (Tex.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee, has introduced a bill that would allow the U.S. Bureau of Prisons and governors to seek waivers from the FCC to jam calling at prisons.

"When lives are at stake, law enforcement needs to find ways to disrupt cellphones and other communications in a pinpointed way against terrorists who are using them," New York City Police Commissioner Raymond F. Kelly told a Senate panel Jan. 8. He also cited the Mumbai terrorist attacks, when hostage-takers used media spotters and satellite and mobile phones to help them outmaneuver police at hotels, train stations and other targets.

Backing up such requests are the commercial interests that could provide the jammers.

Melamed, with CellAntenna, has worked for several years to open what the company forecasts could be a $25 million line of domestic jamming business for itself, and the amount could be more for bigger players such as Tyco and Harris Corp. He said rules that prevent government agencies from blocking signals don't make sense.

"We're still trying to figure out how it's in the best interest of the public to prevent bomb squads from keeping bombs from blowing up and killing people," he said.

Cell phone industry alarmed

But the cellular industry trade group warns that letting the nation's 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies decide when and where to jam phone calls would create a messy patchwork of potential service disruptions.

Critics warn of another potential problem, "friendly fire," when one agency inadvertently jams another's access to the airwaves, posing a safety hazard in an emergency. Farren said there are "smarter, better and safer alternatives," such as stopping inmates from getting smuggled cellphones in the first place or pinpointing signals from unauthorized callers.

Still, analysts said, events such as the Mumbai attacks may tip the debate in favor of law enforcement.

"Without something like Mumbai, the national security and public safety cases would not be as compelling," said James E. Katz, director of the Center for Mobile Communication Studies at Rutgers University. "Now, the burden of proof has been shifting to people who don't want these exceptions, rather than the people who do."


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