FBI spying on Muslim groups?

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FBI spying on Muslim groups?

Post by SonomaCat » Thu Apr 16, 2009 11:02 am

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090416/ap_ ... que_spying

You know, as long as the government isn't harassing them or trying to take any innocent people down (like the Hoover years), I'm not all that concerned if they have some spies keeping an eye on groups that have the potential to be radical. So if they have a mole in with the Muslim groups, and the militias, and the skinheads, and the radical environmental/animal rights groups to monitor for illegal activity, I have no problem with that (assuming they have a warrant to do so, of course ... there does need to be judicial branch oversight).

However, if they accumulate information that has nothing to do with illegal activities and they use that for political or other purposes, then I'm really concerned.



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Re: FBI spying on Muslim groups?

Post by Ponycat » Thu Apr 16, 2009 11:18 am

Bay Area Cat wrote:http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090416/ap_ ... que_spying

You know, as long as the government isn't harassing them or trying to take any innocent people down (like the Hoover years), I'm not all that concerned if they have some spies keeping an eye on groups that have the potential to be radical. So if they have a mole in with the Muslim groups, and the militias, and the skinheads, and the radical environmental/animal rights groups to monitor for illegal activity, I have no problem with that (assuming they have a warrant to do so, of course ... there does need to be judicial branch oversight).

However, if they accumulate information that has nothing to do with illegal activities and they use that for political or other purposes, then I'm really concerned.
Why would you need a warrant to have an informant in a group, or have someone infiltrate (be invited to join) a group?


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Re: FBI spying on Muslim groups?

Post by SonomaCat » Thu Apr 16, 2009 11:23 am

I assume any proactive government act to obtain personal information by secretive means probably falls under the scope of needing a warrant.

At least, if the government did that to a group that I belonged to in an effort to get personal information about me, I would sure hope they had a warrant (thus precluding rouge agents from free-lancing and potentially abusing their authority).



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Re: FBI spying on Muslim groups?

Post by Ponycat » Thu Apr 16, 2009 11:35 am

Bay Area Cat wrote:I assume any proactive government act to obtain personal information by secretive means probably falls under the scope of needing a warrant.

At least, if the government did that to a group that I belonged to in an effort to get personal information about me, I would sure hope they had a warrant (thus precluding rouge agents from free-lancing and potentially abusing their authority).
Are you talking wire taps, or actually any information gained from someone that has been accepted into a group, and is willingly giving up information.


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Re: FBI spying on Muslim groups?

Post by SonomaCat » Thu Apr 16, 2009 11:49 am

Ponycat wrote:
Bay Area Cat wrote:I assume any proactive government act to obtain personal information by secretive means probably falls under the scope of needing a warrant.

At least, if the government did that to a group that I belonged to in an effort to get personal information about me, I would sure hope they had a warrant (thus precluding rouge agents from free-lancing and potentially abusing their authority).
Are you talking wire taps, or actually any information gained from someone that has been accepted into a group, and is willingly giving up information.
Hmmm ... I really have to slice this one thin. I was thinking more in terms of the FBI identifying a person they wanted to mold into a mole, and then encouraging that person to join the group and gain information for them. In that case, where the FBI is proactively putting a person in that position, it seems like a warrant-requiring act.

But the scenario you describe (and it may be the one described in the article as well -- I may well have misread it) isn't probably one that I think needs a warrant of any kind, as it is really nothing more than asking a person a set of questions to find out what they already know. Giving that person favors (help with immigration issues, etc.) may taint it a little, but at the end of the day, the FBI is really doing nothing more than asking people who are already members of a group to give insight on the activities of that group.

So I agree with what you're saying ... it just took me awhile to think it through and get the facts straight.

So I guess it all boils down to a question of whether it is appropriate or not for the FBI to keep tabs on Muslim groups. I would say it is appropriate, just as I think it is with those other groups I listed. There is a track record of radicalism within Muslim mosques in America (and most everywhere), just as there is radicalism within those other groups I listed, so I think a limit investigation techniques such as the ones mentioned in the article on a periodic basis is reasonable.



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Re: FBI spying on Muslim groups?

Post by Ponycat » Thu Apr 16, 2009 12:10 pm

I just compare it to an ATF agent going undercover to infiltrate a biker gang. Ideally the biker gang will accept him into there group, and make him a member, once a memeber or a prospective member the info he gets or buy/sells he does, shouldn't require a warrant, or if someone in the gang gets pissed and decides to give up information, or was approched to give up information, (favors or not) I just don't see why the need for a warrant.


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Re: FBI spying on Muslim groups?

Post by SonomaCat » Thu Apr 16, 2009 12:16 pm

I guess where I see the distinction is where the government is encouraging a person to join the group under false pretenses (lying) that it is no longer being done in good faith and probably makes it something that should be done with a warrant.

If the government was investigating the Catholic church and encouraged a person to lie to the church in order to be accepted into a seminary so he could spy on people in the seminary, I would want that to be something done with a warrant (meaning judicial oversight). However, if they merely interviewed a person who had already been accepted into the seminary, I don't think that needs a warrant.

Were those ATF actions you are talking about (as seen on so many very cool History Channel shows) done under a court-approved warrant? I actually suspect they would be ... but I don't know for sure one way or another.



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Re: FBI spying on Muslim groups?

Post by Ponycat » Thu Apr 16, 2009 12:31 pm

Bay Area Cat wrote: Were those ATF actions you are talking about (as seen on so many very cool History Channel shows) done under a court-approved warrant? I actually suspect they would be ... but I don't know for sure one way or another.
Other than maybe for some wire taps, not to my understanding. Also, I don't believe "Donnie Brasco" needed a warrant to infiltrate the mob. Both Donnie Brasco and infiltration of OMG were done under RICO, which has some different rules, and I guess is what would be used in what is described in the article (Also, RICO is used to defend the Patriot Acts wire taps). Also, the ATF agents I'm thinking of and that I've talked to personally was undercover himself, as well as had a paid informant that infiltrated to gang with him, and I'm 95% sure they didn't need a warrant to do their thing. The info gathered was used to secure warrants later.

Maybe KittieKop has more/better info.


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Re: FBI spying on Muslim groups?

Post by Grizlaw » Thu Apr 16, 2009 12:41 pm

In terms of whether a warrant is needed or not, the question of whether a person's rights are being violated or not depends on whether the person has a "reasonable expectation of privacy" in the communication. In general, if you're in a public place having a face-to-face conversation with someone, and that person turns out to be a government agent (or a "mole," or whatever), then you don't have a "reasonable expectation of privacy" with respect to that communication. You have a reasonable expectation of privacy with respect to things that happen in your own home, (generally) in your car, on your own phone, etc. But probably not with regard to what you tell someone face-to-face, in a public place.

It all depends on what the government's actions are in getting the information. But whether you had a "reasonable expectation of privacy" is the fundamental legal standard.


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Re: FBI spying on Muslim groups?

Post by KittieKop » Thu Apr 16, 2009 1:52 pm

Grizlaw wrote:In terms of whether a warrant is needed or not, the question of whether a person's rights are being violated or not depends on whether the person has a "reasonable expectation of privacy" in the communication. In general, if you're in a public place having a face-to-face conversation with someone, and that person turns out to be a government agent (or a "mole," or whatever), then you don't have a "reasonable expectation of privacy" with respect to that communication. You have a reasonable expectation of privacy with respect to things that happen in your own home, (generally) in your car, on your own phone, etc. But probably not with regard to what you tell someone face-to-face, in a public place.

It all depends on what the government's actions are in getting the information. But whether you had a "reasonable expectation of privacy" is the fundamental legal standard.
I think grizlaw's on target here - expectation of privacy is key. I would want to add a couple things on these points - may trigger some other discussion. I think a lot also has to do with whether these "agents", wherever they are gathering their intelligence, have a legitimate legal reason for being where they are. For example, agents dress up like bikers and hang out at the rally in Sturgis - roaming the bars, the street concerts, etc - no problem. Anybody can do that; the agents could do the same thing in a uniform or wearing an FBI hat (but probably not as successfully). If they instead, like was mentioned above - and alluded to in the news story - are sending agents or others into groups to infiltrate and monitor them, its a different story. The operations to infiltrate OMGs, for example, I would be very surprised involved search warrants up front, because warrants are usually very specific as to what's being searched for, and are for a limited duration. I would imagine, though, there was judicial oversight on the operations (or at least a US attorney, district attorney, county attorney, etc). Lastly, you can't generally recruit a citizen to do something on behalf of law enforcement/the government/an agent that the agent, etc couldn't do themselves. If I legally can't search, say, your dorm room, I can't recruit the resident director to search it for me, then turn over anything he finds; they can't act in that way as an agent on my behalf.


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Re: FBI spying on Muslim groups?

Post by Ponycat » Thu Apr 16, 2009 2:07 pm

KittieKop wrote:
Grizlaw wrote:In terms of whether a warrant is needed or not, the question of whether a person's rights are being violated or not depends on whether the person has a "reasonable expectation of privacy" in the communication. In general, if you're in a public place having a face-to-face conversation with someone, and that person turns out to be a government agent (or a "mole," or whatever), then you don't have a "reasonable expectation of privacy" with respect to that communication. You have a reasonable expectation of privacy with respect to things that happen in your own home, (generally) in your car, on your own phone, etc. But probably not with regard to what you tell someone face-to-face, in a public place.

It all depends on what the government's actions are in getting the information. But whether you had a "reasonable expectation of privacy" is the fundamental legal standard.
I think grizlaw's on target here - expectation of privacy is key. I would want to add a couple things on these points - may trigger some other discussion. I think a lot also has to do with whether these "agents", wherever they are gathering their intelligence, have a legitimate legal reason for being where they are. For example, agents dress up like bikers and hang out at the rally in Sturgis - roaming the bars, the street concerts, etc - no problem. Anybody can do that; the agents could do the same thing in a uniform or wearing an FBI hat (but probably not as successfully). If they instead, like was mentioned above - and alluded to in the news story - are sending agents or others into groups to infiltrate and monitor them, its a different story. The operations to infiltrate OMGs, for example, I would be very surprised involved search warrants up front, because warrants are usually very specific as to what's being searched for, and are for a limited duration. I would imagine, though, there was judicial oversight on the operations (or at least a US attorney, district attorney, county attorney, etc). Lastly, you can't generally recruit a citizen to do something on behalf of law enforcement/the government/an agent that the agent, etc couldn't do themselves. If I legally can't search, say, your dorm room, I can't recruit the resident director to search it for me, then turn over anything he finds; they can't act in that way as an agent on my behalf.
Right, but an informant inside the group, can give you info without a warrant, Correct


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Re: FBI spying on Muslim groups?

Post by SonomaCat » Thu Apr 16, 2009 2:10 pm

Good knowledge here ... thanks for the insights, guys!

So I guess my primary concern was the judicial oversight of some kind ... regardless if there is a warrant or not (a warrant is just one way that judicial oversight can be maintained). It sounds like there generally is some kind of oversight going on to keep everyone honest, so that's all I ask for.

And like I said earlier, Muslim mosques, while not necessarily guilty of anything, do have enough historical baggage that I personally think the FBI is justified in keeping an eye on them.



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Re: FBI spying on Muslim groups?

Post by KittieKop » Thu Apr 16, 2009 2:33 pm

Ponycat wrote:
KittieKop wrote:
Grizlaw wrote:In terms of whether a warrant is needed or not, the question of whether a person's rights are being violated or not depends on whether the person has a "reasonable expectation of privacy" in the communication. In general, if you're in a public place having a face-to-face conversation with someone, and that person turns out to be a government agent (or a "mole," or whatever), then you don't have a "reasonable expectation of privacy" with respect to that communication. You have a reasonable expectation of privacy with respect to things that happen in your own home, (generally) in your car, on your own phone, etc. But probably not with regard to what you tell someone face-to-face, in a public place.

It all depends on what the government's actions are in getting the information. But whether you had a "reasonable expectation of privacy" is the fundamental legal standard.
I think grizlaw's on target here - expectation of privacy is key. I would want to add a couple things on these points - may trigger some other discussion. I think a lot also has to do with whether these "agents", wherever they are gathering their intelligence, have a legitimate legal reason for being where they are. For example, agents dress up like bikers and hang out at the rally in Sturgis - roaming the bars, the street concerts, etc - no problem. Anybody can do that; the agents could do the same thing in a uniform or wearing an FBI hat (but probably not as successfully). If they instead, like was mentioned above - and alluded to in the news story - are sending agents or others into groups to infiltrate and monitor them, its a different story. The operations to infiltrate OMGs, for example, I would be very surprised involved search warrants up front, because warrants are usually very specific as to what's being searched for, and are for a limited duration. I would imagine, though, there was judicial oversight on the operations (or at least a US attorney, district attorney, county attorney, etc). Lastly, you can't generally recruit a citizen to do something on behalf of law enforcement/the government/an agent that the agent, etc couldn't do themselves. If I legally can't search, say, your dorm room, I can't recruit the resident director to search it for me, then turn over anything he finds; they can't act in that way as an agent on my behalf.
Right, but an informant inside the group, can give you info without a warrant, Correct
In general, I would say yes.


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Re: FBI spying on Muslim groups?

Post by KittieKop » Thu Apr 16, 2009 2:49 pm

Bay Area Cat wrote:Good knowledge here ... thanks for the insights, guys!

So I guess my primary concern was the judicial oversight of some kind ... regardless if there is a warrant or not (a warrant is just one way that judicial oversight can be maintained). It sounds like there generally is some kind of oversight going on to keep everyone honest, so that's all I ask for.

And like I said earlier, Muslim mosques, while not necessarily guilty of anything, do have enough historical baggage that I personally think the FBI is justified in keeping an eye on them.
Alright, here goes - I've been trying not to weigh in on this topic on another thread, but since it looks like the door has been opened here, I have no choice but to walk through... :D

If we say there is a track record with Muslim mosques, or Islamic organizations to "keep an eye on them", is there not that history in many of the domestic "issues" organizations out there, also involved in/advocating violence or other illegal activities of some sorts??? The far, far, far right anti-abortion groups, the freaking Militia of Montana, SOME anti-immigration organizations, white-supremecist groups, etc, etc?

Where I'm going is - I think I'm as "right-wing" as anyone around here, but I think the right has slipped right off the edge of reason in all this blustering over the DHS bulletin on terror groups or watch lists. OF COURSE the military is a POTENTIAL recruiting pool for many of these nut-job organizations - and anyone in the military to deny it is deluding themselves. Law enforcement is another. Do both organizations have some members with off-the-table-right-wing views? Yup. Do both have some mentally unstable people? Yup. Do both have wife beaters, murderers, rapists, gang members, etc, etc? Yup, and to deny otherwise is crazy. The organizations everyone are all up in arms about on this "list", like it or not, are generally on the same side of the political spectrum as are the ones that are way, way, way out of the range of normal people. But its reasonable to think some in the "normal" range of behavior can be convinced to take the next step. Are military folks being "lumped in" with the anti-government militia wackos - no. But to acknowledge the suseptability of certain groups to the extremists is only good sense. No one's saying to "look out for grandma going to church, she could be the next abortion clinic bomber". The right-wing talk hosts, who I usually defend around here, are absolutely off their rockers on this one. I turned a couple of them off the last couple days cause I couldn't stand the fire-fanning going on.


"It was like a coordinated effort by the Missoulian and the police to bring UM Football program down..." eGriz 11/30/12

Now where did I leave my tinfoil hat?

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Re: FBI spying on Muslim groups?

Post by Ponycat » Thu Apr 16, 2009 3:26 pm

KittieKop wrote:
Bay Area Cat wrote:Good knowledge here ... thanks for the insights, guys!

So I guess my primary concern was the judicial oversight of some kind ... regardless if there is a warrant or not (a warrant is just one way that judicial oversight can be maintained). It sounds like there generally is some kind of oversight going on to keep everyone honest, so that's all I ask for.

And like I said earlier, Muslim mosques, while not necessarily guilty of anything, do have enough historical baggage that I personally think the FBI is justified in keeping an eye on them.
Alright, here goes - I've been trying not to weigh in on this topic on another thread, but since it looks like the door has been opened here, I have no choice but to walk through... :D

If we say there is a track record with Muslim mosques, or Islamic organizations to "keep an eye on them", is there not that history in many of the domestic "issues" organizations out there, also involved in/advocating violence or other illegal activities of some sorts??? The far, far, far right anti-abortion groups, the freaking Militia of Montana, SOME anti-immigration organizations, white-supremecist groups, etc, etc?

Where I'm going is - I think I'm as "right-wing" as anyone around here, but I think the right has slipped right off the edge of reason in all this blustering over the DHS bulletin on terror groups or watch lists. OF COURSE the military is a POTENTIAL recruiting pool for many of these nut-job organizations - and anyone in the military to deny it is deluding themselves. Law enforcement is another. Do both organizations have some members with off-the-table-right-wing views? Yup. Do both have some mentally unstable people? Yup. Do both have wife beaters, murderers, rapists, gang members, etc, etc? Yup, and to deny otherwise is crazy. The organizations everyone are all up in arms about on this "list", like it or not, are generally on the same side of the political spectrum as are the ones that are way, way, way out of the range of normal people. But its reasonable to think some in the "normal" range of behavior can be convinced to take the next step. Are military folks being "lumped in" with the anti-government militia wackos - no. But to acknowledge the suseptability of certain groups to the extremists is only good sense. No one's saying to "look out for grandma going to church, she could be the next abortion clinic bomber". The right-wing talk hosts, who I usually defend around here, are absolutely off their rockers on this one. I turned a couple of them off the last couple days cause I couldn't stand the fire-fanning going on.
I agree with you but it's a slippery slope, because if you look at things historically shouldn't anyone who is having their house foreclosed on be considered suseptable as well.


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