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Mike German was fired by the FBI for exposing their cover up. He now works for the ACLU and is speaking out about how the government targets people based on religion and politics, with little oversight.  (Source: Network World)
Feds have little respect for your privacy, Constitution

The police are watching you.  If you're the wrong religion, they'll spy on your every move.  If you voice the wrong political opinions they'll be watching you.  According to Mike German, a 16-year veteran with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations, this is happening right in the U.S.

Mr. German has become the FBI's worst nightmare.  Fed up with the abuses of privacy he was seeing, he complain to higher authorities and was promptly fired by the FBI.  Recently he became the ACLU's Policy Counsel on National Security, Immigration and Privacy [press release]. And he's speaking up about what he witnessed.

States Mr. German in a recent interview with Network World:

The most disturbing thing we've uncovered is the scope of domestic intelligence activities taking place today. Domestic spying is now being done by a host of federal agencies (FBI, DOD, DHS, DNI) as well as state and local law enforcement and even private companies. Too often this spying targets political activity and religious practices. We've documented intelligence activities targeting or obstructing First Amendment-protected activity in 33 states and DC.

He says that this Orwellian atmosphere could leave the U.S. a far different beast than the proud beacon of freedom it once was.  He states, "The biggest threat is that the increase surveillance of political activity will create a chilling effect that will dissuade people from exercising their rights, which will cause significant harm to participatory democracy."

He states that the "War on Terror" will continue to serve as an excuse for federal agencies to trample civil liberties.  He says that there are no clear-cut guidelines as to when you get put on a "watchlist" and are spied on by federal agents.  It's impossible to find out if your on a list and equally impossible to dispute or ask to be removed from a list.  

He also blasts TSA "enhanced pat-down" procedures and body scanners, calling them "unreasonable invasions of privacy that do not enhance security."

Given the Supreme Courts interpretation that privacy is a fundamental human right and thus Constitutionally protected by the Ninth Amendment, and given the First Amendments protections concerning freedom of speech and religion, Mr. German's claims are alarming.  Are U.S. federal employees deliberately spying on citizens and violating their rights, without the slightest legal accusation?

It'd be easy to dismiss Mr. German's claims as the words of a disgruntled employee.  But consider Mr. German's story of his departure from the agency:

I left the FBI when the DOJ Inspector General failed to investigate an FBI cover-up of a failed FBI counterterrorism investigation I reported, or protect me from official retaliation that resulted. I reported the information to Sen. Grassley and resigned. Grassley put pressure on the IG, so almost two years later the IG issued a report that showed the FBI falsified and backdated records about the case and retaliated against me for reporting it. I joined the ACLU two years later because I knew from my counterterrorism work that protecting civil liberties and keeping law enforcement accountable is what keeps America safe from terrorism and other crime.

Mr. German was clearly vindicated in the case that led to his dismissal.  The fact that the FBI tried to cover up its own wrongdoing and then punished Mr. German certainly damages its credibility and offers support for Mr. German's claims.



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I know
By zmatt on 2/8/2011 10:22:38 AM , Rating: 5
that some people aren't going to like what he did, however (and the founders agreed on this) people like him are essential to keeping our country free. Just because someone is in the American government is no indication that they are perfect or free from abuse of power and they are capable if given the opportunity of the same abuses we have seen elsewhere. it's just a fact of human nature. I don't agree with most things the ACLU has done, but federal law enforcement seems to act with impunity sometimes. When a private citizen commits a crime people hear about it and we go after them. But what about when the FBI commits a crime? Obviously the facts show they cover it up and hope nobody finds out. They should be held accountable. And by accountable I mean government officials should be tried by the same standards as private citizens. No getting off with a slap on the hand or a reprimand.




RE: I know
By gamerk2 on 2/8/2011 10:44:33 AM , Rating: 2
Well, people like me have been complaining for well over a decade; glad someone is finally starting to take notice...

Also, hi FBI guys! :D


RE: I know
By FITCamaro on 2/8/2011 11:56:27 AM , Rating: 1
I guess they've got cameras in my house then.


RE: I know
By saganhill on 2/8/2011 1:02:24 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, please stay where you are, we will pick you up shortly.


RE: I know
By FITCamaro on 2/8/2011 1:05:43 PM , Rating: 3
Just ignore the click of my safety being turned off. ;)


RE: I know
By HolgerDK on 2/9/2011 3:29:30 AM , Rating: 5
Thats ok, we'll just use the cameras to determine your blind spot.


RE: I know
By jhb116 on 2/8/11, Rating: -1
RE: I know
By Kurz on 2/9/2011 12:48:29 PM , Rating: 2
Then there is no accountability for supervisors who are supposed to oversee their people.


RE: I know
By superPC on 2/8/11, Rating: -1
RE: I know
By mcnabney on 2/8/2011 11:06:25 AM , Rating: 1
This is how whistleblowing is supposed to work.

Dumping hundreds of thousands of documents, most of which aren't illegal - just embarassing or enlightening, is not whistleblowing.


RE: I know
By zmatt on 2/8/11, Rating: 0
RE: I know
By StinkyWhizzleTeeth on 2/9/2011 2:05:58 AM , Rating: 3
I thought he only released about 1% of the documents he has.


RE: I know
By Micronite on 2/8/2011 10:51:05 AM , Rating: 2
I certainly don't envy anyone tasked with public protection. We demand that we be kept safe, but we also demand privacy. It is a major conundrum that at least for the last ten years or so has been a major struggle for anyone in that position.
Keeping a balance between violating privacy to maintain freedom or perhaps violating freedom to maintain safety is a delicate subject I'm willing to let others juggle.


RE: I know
By superPC on 2/8/2011 10:58:49 AM , Rating: 2
there is a way around that if we really want to do it. blind surveillance. like blind experiment in drug testing. the people doing surveillance and data collecting doesn't know who their watching and the people analyzing the data doesn't know from where the data came from or who it belong to. that way everyone gets their privacy while at the same time being watched all the time.


RE: I know
By MrBlastman on 2/8/2011 12:07:11 PM , Rating: 4
While you try to make it sound okay, this part bothers me:

quote:
that way everyone gets their privacy while at the same time being watched all the time.


How do you have privacy if you are being watched all the time? That is pretty contradictory. By saying that, it is like saying eveyone in the United Kingdom is quite happy about the hundreds of thousands of cameras everywhere watching and recording their daily lives and are not bothered in the slightest bit by it--even to the extent they never refrain from acting normally at all times.

I myself wouldn't fancy being watched constantly as okay, even if the people watching me didn't know who I am. The fact is, if they wanted to know who I am, they _could_ find out by taking that video feed or audio and then cross-referencing it with records in databases (or the internet--a big reason I never, ever use sites like Facebook). If they had to, they could take my picture out onto the street and knock on doors until they got an answer.

No thanks.


RE: I know
By The Raven on 2/8/2011 11:05:53 AM , Rating: 3
I like your comment, but if you mean that you are willing to leave your freedom (and the freedom of others) up to others to juggle, then I must disagree. I'd like to be able to choose how much freedom I have.

Who has two thumbs and the same motto as New Hampshire? This guy.


RE: I know
By bildan on 2/8/2011 11:08:17 AM , Rating: 5
I respect both law enforcement agencies and the ACLU. Checks and balances are important.

Where law enforcement goes wrong is when they try to make their admittedly difficult job easier by ignoring Constitutional protections. We can't allow them to do that and retain our freedoms. That's where the ACLU comes in.

It's worth remembering the ACLU doesn't defend criminals, it defends the Constitution.


RE: I know
By FITCamaro on 2/9/2011 10:43:23 AM , Rating: 3
Yes because a person's "freedom" to illegally enter this country is a protected right under the constitution.

That made me laugh. The ACLU obviously takes cases that sometimes do protect people's ACTUAL rights. But someone's right not to be offended? No. Someone's right to make it so that others can't practice or have their rights? No. And definitely not someone's "right" to break the laws of this nation.


RE: I know
By Lerianis on 2/14/2011 7:44:22 AM , Rating: 1
No, it's a human right to live wherever you wish in the world, regardless of an immigration law that violates those human rights.

I'm personally for just scrapping our immigration laws and allowing anyone who comes to this country who wishes to, say that they cannot get public services unless they become an American citizen or permanent resident, and moving on.


RE: I know
By mmatis on 2/8/2011 2:49:01 PM , Rating: 5
EVERY "Law Enforcement" officer in the United States has taken an oath of office to "...preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution..." That Constitution includes the 1st, 2nd, and 4th Amendments. What is being described here is a violation of the 4th Amendment. ANY "Law Enforcement" that participates in this activity is in DIRECT violation of their oath of office, and is therefor NOT "Law Enforcement" but instead merely Thugs with Guns. The stench is overwhelming. And it smells like pig.


RE: I know
By zmatt on 2/8/2011 6:19:59 PM , Rating: 2
In a society such as ours it is very easy to commit a crime. However to commit one and get away with it is near impossible, and that is the main deterrent. This works most of the time however it isn't perfect ie: suicide bombers or lunatics. Unfortunately we live in an imperfect world. things fall apart, accidents happen, there are terrible people. Trying to make ourselves 100% safe from crime of all sorts is impossible and trying to do so will only waste time and resources. But people still try and lets be honest, the reactions to terrorist attacks can be and tend to be more damaging than the attack itself. the end goal of terrorism in the end is to terrorize your opponent into bending to your will.


RE: I know
By kingius on 2/9/2011 11:19:06 AM , Rating: 2
Quite right. Not only does getting caught need to be a given but a harsh punishment needs to be also. When a teenager throws a brick through a car window and ruins a young lady athelete's face permanently... and receives only a £200 fine for it... well, it doesn't matter that you can get caught, does it? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1355149/Te...


RE: I know
By zmatt on 2/9/2011 4:20:22 PM , Rating: 2
Thats a shame. I'm not familiar with the Uk legal system. can they sue him?


RE: I know
By Lerianis on 2/14/2011 7:46:24 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, they can.... though, I am wondering why the guy just got a fine? Even in the U.K., someone who did that would usually be put in prison for at least a short period of time!


RE: I know
By mindless1 on 2/10/2011 6:16:28 AM , Rating: 2
I'd like some of those Rose Colored Glasses you're wearing. People get away with crimes all the time, probably the majority of the time the law is broken nobody is held accountable though I have to suspect that the worse the crime is the less likely someone will get away with it, and yet suspecting it doesn't necessarily make it true.

Then there is the idea of what "getting away with it" really means. If someone robs a bank and is sentenced to 20 years but gets out on parole in 10, didn't they half get away with it? Further, if wikipedia is correct, "the clearance rate for bank robbery is among the highest of all crimes, almost 60 percent.", doesn't seem to indicate people aren't getting away with crimes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bank_robbery


RE: I know
By Lerianis on 2/14/2011 7:55:06 AM , Rating: 2
No, they did not 'half get away with it'.


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