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UK Watchdog Criticizes Broad Definition of Terrorism Laws in Annual Report

In Archive, Police State, Terrorism, UK on July 24, 2014 at 11:43 AM

Political journalists and bloggers are subject to the full range of anti-terrorism powers if they threaten to publish, prepare to publish or publish something that the authorities think may be dangerous to life, to public health or public safety. That is so even if they do not wish to spread fear or to intimidate – it is enough that their work is designed to influence the Government or an international organisation. Those who employ or support them, or who encourage others to do the same, could also qualify as terrorists.

The definition is broad enough to include a campaigner who voices a religious objection to vaccination. If his purpose is to influence the Government, and if his words are judged capable of creating a serious risk to public health, he could be treated as a terrorist: detained for long periods of time, prosecuted, have his assets frozen and so on. Voicing support for him could also be a terrorist crime.


David Anderson QC/TerrorismLegislationReviewer:

David Anderson Q.C., the UK’s Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, published his annual report today on the operation of the Terrorism Acts.

Among the topics covered in a comprehensive review of recent practice are:

  • recent developments in proscription and deproscription (chapter 5)
  • alleged ethnic or community bias in the use of police powers (6.15-6.19 and 7.7-7.15)
  • reform of the Schedule 7 port power, with the Government’s latest response to my recommendations of November 2013 (chapter 7)
  • developments concerning arrest and detention (chapter 8)
  • difficulties posed by UK counter-terrorism law for aid agencies and peacemakers operating in conflict zones (9.25-9.33)
  • the worldwide reach of UK counter-terrorism law, and its treatment of foreign fighters in Syria and elsewhere (9.15-9.17, 10.60-10.70)
  • the definition of terrorism, as discussed on Radio 4′s Today programme this morning (chapters 4 and 10)
  • the future of independent review, in the light of new demands placed on the Independent Reviewer, and recent Government proposals that his office be replaced by a Board (chapter 11).

The Newburgh Sting

In Archive, FBI, Police State, Terrorism on July 24, 2014 at 10:06 AM




On May 20, 2009, four men from the impoverished and largely African-American city of Newburgh, NY, were apprehended for an alleged terror plot. They had no history of violence or terrorist ties, but had been drawn by a Pakistani FBI informant into a carefully orchestrated scheme to bomb Jewish synagogues in a wealthy New York City suburb and fire Stinger missiles at U.S. military supply planes. Their dramatic arrest, complete with armored cars, a SWAT team and FBI aircraft, played out under the gaze of major TV outlets, ultimately resulting in 25-year prison sentences for the “Newburgh Four.”

Amidst the media frenzy surrounding the case, political figures extolled the outcome as a victory in the “war on terror” and a “textbook example of how a major investigation should be conducted,” though others believed the four men were victims of FBI entrapment. THE NEWBURGH STING delves deeply into this case – one of many cases across the country where people have been allegedly drawn into a plot with extreme consequences.



Related Link: HRW Report – Illusion of Justice: Human Rights Abuses in US Terrorism Prosecutions

HRW Report – Illusion of Justice: Human Rights Abuses in US Terrorism Prosecutions

In Archive, FBI, Police State, Terrorism on July 24, 2014 at 9:08 AM



The 214-page report examines 27 federal terrorism cases from initiation of the investigations to sentencing and post-conviction conditions of confinement. It documents the significant human cost of certain counterterrorism practices, such as overly aggressive sting operations and unnecessarily restrictive conditions of confinement.

Related Link: The Newburgh Sting

LEAKED: U.S. Gov’s Secret Terrorist Watchlist Guidelines

In Archive, NCTC, Police State, Terrorism, USA on July 24, 2014 at 1:20 AM


Jeremy Scahill/Ryan Devereaux/TheIntercept:

The Obama administration has quietly approved a substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system, authorizing a secret process that requires neither “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist, according to a key government document obtained by The Intercept.

The “March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance,” a 166-page document issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center, spells out the government’s secret rules for putting individuals on its main terrorist database, as well as the no fly list and the selectee list, which triggers enhanced screening at airports and border crossings. The new guidelines allow individuals to be designated as representatives of terror organizations without any evidence they are actually connected to such organizations, and it gives a single White House official the unilateral authority to place “entire categories” of people the government is tracking onto the no fly and selectee lists. It broadens the authority of government officials to “nominate” people to the watchlists based on what is vaguely described as “fragmentary information.” It also allows for dead people to be watchlisted.

Over the years, the Obama and Bush Administrations have fiercely resisted disclosing the criteria for placing names on the databases—though the guidelines are officially labeled as unclassified. In May, Attorney General Eric Holder even invoked the state secrets privilege to prevent watchlisting guidelines from being disclosed in litigation launched by an American who was on the no fly list. In an affidavit, Holder called them a “clear roadmap” to the government’s terrorist-tracking apparatus, adding: “The Watchlisting Guidance, although unclassified, contains national security information that, if disclosed … could cause significant harm to national security.”

The rulebook, which The Intercept is publishing in full, was developed behind closed doors by representatives of the nation’s intelligence, military, and law-enforcement establishment, including the Pentagon, CIA, NSA, and FBI. Emblazoned with the crests of 19 agencies, it offers the most complete and revealing look into the secret history of the government’s terror list policies to date. It reveals a confounding and convoluted system filled with exceptions to its own rules, and it relies on the elastic concept of “reasonable suspicion” as a standard for determining whether someone is a possible threat. Because the government tracks “suspected terrorists” as well as “known terrorists,” individuals can be watchlisted if they are suspected of being a suspected terrorist, or if they are suspected of associating with people who are suspected of terrorism activity.


Related: Terrorist Database Continues to Grow at Rapid Rate

Inside the Mind of Edward Snowden (NBC News Exclusive Interview)

In Archive, NSA, NSA Files, Snowden, Surveillance on May 29, 2014 at 5:35 AM


After months of behind-the-scenes contact, NBC News’ Brian Williams sits down with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden for his first American television interview.

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