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Topic: Flint "spies" are they back

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El Supremo

In the late 1979s and early 1980s the Flint ACLU waged a battle against the Flint Special Operations for generating files on people they were spying on regarding their political activities. Flint attorney Max Dean wrote a 7 page report ( EIR volume 3 February 1 1976) denouncing this unit as a"part of the Michigan State Gestapo apparatus against the U.S. Labor party." Dean's outrage was the result of a attack on December 30 1975 that nearly killed a U.S. Labor Party organizer.
Requests to the Flint City Council for a thorough investigation were ignored after the police denied the allegations. The Michigan State Police that responded at the time used phony names and downplayed the incident, The assailant turned out to be an agent-informant of the Flint Police Special Operations Bureau.
This incident was the 20th assault on a U.S. Labor organizer in a year. Most were in Flint and were "investigated by a Sgt. Ailsworth of the Special Operations Bureau who stated nothing could be done.Dean believed Ailsworth was assigned to investigate the U.S. Labor Party. Police Chief james Rutherford did not respond to the letter of protest sent to him.
Dean detailed the grant funding of the Special Operations Bureau as a liaison between federal and Genesee County law enforcement that was under the control of Genesee county Prosecutor Robert Leonard. Dean was angry over the misplacement of the assault case in a moving van as the Courts were being relocated.
It turned out that their labor party movement had been infiltrated by two "agent-informants",both of whom had criminal histories of serious violent nature.After being outed these two individuals described their reporting to a Gilmore of the Special Operations group. Dean alleged the female had killed her husband and was not prosecuted by Leonard.
Michael Moore and ACLU Chair Harold Ford sued the Flint Police in U.S. District Court. Flint Police Chief Max Durbin admitted in court that spy files had been generated and kept on people because of their political affiliations.Judge James Harvey dismissed the case because the ACLU could not prove the police department was still spying.Harvey also demanded the police quit giving non-criminal information to police intelligence organizations. (Flint voice February 1981)
The Michigan State Police "Red Squad" developed files on over 38,000 individuals over 26 years before it was ruled unconstitutional in 1976.
Today the Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit (LEIU) a private andonce secret police intelligence unit created in 1956 still "gathers, records, and exchanges confidential information not available through regular police channels concerning organized crime and terrorism".
I am concerned about some spy activities being revisited in Flint.
Post Fri Apr 06, 2018 6:06 pm 
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El Supremo

Department Of Homeland Security Compiling Database - Forbes
6 hours ago - Homeland Security is seeking a contractor to compile a list of both professional journalists and "top media influencers," which would likely include bloggers and podcasters, and monitor the "sentiment" they're putting out in public.
Post Fri Apr 06, 2018 6:10 pm 
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El Supremo

Michelle Fabio , CONTRIBUTOR
I write about when media/entertainment and the law collide.
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
Anyone else just pull their blanket up over them a little more tightly? Just me?
The real question, of course, is what the government plans to do with the information it compiles, and there's been no comment on that beyond what is in the posting, which, by the way, has interest from at least seven companies.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen during the press briefing at the White House on April 4. (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

In todays installment of "Im Not Terrified, You Are," Bloomberg Law reports on a FedBizOpps.gov posting by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with the relatively benign-sounding subject Media Monitoring Services.

The details of the attached Request for Information, however, outline a plan to gather and monitor the public activities of media professionals and influencers and are enough to cause nightmares of constitutional proportions, particularly as the freedom of the press is under attack worldwide.

And "attack" is not hyperbolic.

Every day, journalists face serious consequences including physical violence, imprisonment and death. A few days ago, the Committee to Protect Journalists launched its annual Free The Press campaign to raise awareness about imprisoned journalists throughout the world. On May 3, UNESCO will once again mark World Press Freedom Day "to inform citizens of violations of press freedom a reminder that in dozens of countries around the world, publications are censored, fined, suspended and closed down, while journalists, editors and publishers are harassed, attacked, detained and even murdered."

Meanwhile, the United States government, traditionally one of the bastions of press freedom, is about to compile a list of professional journalists and "top media influencers," which would seem to include bloggers and podcasters, and monitor what they're putting out to the public.

What could possibly go wrong? A lot.

DHS's "Media Monitoring" Plan

As part of its "media monitoring," the DHS seeks to track more than 290,000 global news sources as well as social media in over 100 languages, including Arabic, Chinese and Russian, for instant translation into English. The successful contracting company will have "24/7 access to a password protected, media influencer database, including journalists, editors, correspondents, social media influencers, bloggers etc." in order to "identify any and all media coverage related to the Department of Homeland Security or a particular event."

"Any and all media coverage," as you might imagine, is quite broad and includes "online, print, broadcast, cable, radio, trade and industry publications, local sources, national/international outlets, traditional news sources, and social media."

The database will be browsable by "location, beat and type of influencer," and for each influencer, the chosen contractor should "present contact details and any other information that could be relevant, including publications this influencer writes for, and an overview of the previous coverage published by the media influencer."

One aspect of the media coverage to be gathered is its "sentiment."

Anyone else just pull their blanket up over them a little more tightly? Just me?

Why "Media Monitoring" and Why Now?

DHS says the "NPPD/OUS [National Protection and Programs Directorate/Office of the Under Secretary] has a critical need to incorporate these functions into their programs in order to better reach Federal, state, local, tribal and private partners." Who knows what that means, but the document also states the NPPD's mission is to protect and enhance the resilience of the nations physical and cyberinfrastructure."

That line makes it sound as if the creation of this database could be a direct response to the rampant allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election although President Donald Trump, who has normalized the term "fake news," can't seem to decide whether that's even an issue or not.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg thinks it is. Earlier this week, he announced the social networking site would remove "more than 270 pages and accounts operated by a Russian organization called the Internet Research Agency" in an effort "to protect the integrity of elections around the world."

Within the context of increasing concerns over "fake news" and foreign interference in elections, an action such as the DHS's database might seem, at first glance, to be a sensible approach.

Not exactly.

Unfortunately, increasing government encroachment on the freedom of the press is the sinister backdrop to all of this. Freedom House, which has monitored the status of the press for nearly 40 years, recently concluded that global media freedom has reached its lowest level in the past 13 years. The independent watchdog organization blames "new threats to journalists and media outlets in major democracies" as well as "further crackdowns on independent media in authoritarian countries like Russia and China." And then it goes one step further.

"But it is the far-reaching attacks on the news media and their place in a democratic society by Donald Trump, first as a candidate and now as president of the United States, that fuel predictions of further setbacks in the years to come," the report said.

Could the DHS media database be such a setback?

Possibly, and it's not even the first time potential regulation of journalists has drifted across the American political scene.

Last October, an Indiana lawmaker proposed that journalists be licensed. Representative Jim Lucas's bill was mostly a publicity stunt, but could this DHS action be a way for the government to keep track of American and foreign journalists as well as citizen journalists," threatening not only the freedom of the press but also individual freedom of speech?

The real question, of course, is what the government plans to do with the information it compiles, and there's been no comment on that beyond what is in the posting, which, by the way, has interest from at least seven companies. Will those on the DHS media database be questioned more harshly coming in and out of the country? Will they have trouble getting visas to go to certain countries for their own reporting or personal vacations? Worse?

Speaking of visas and showing that social media activity is squarely on the radar of this administration earlier this week, the State Department placed two notices in the Federal Register seeking comments on its proposal to require that all visa applicants to the U.S. turn over their social media information for the previous five years.

Regarding the DHS media database, we are entering potentially dangerous territory with the government keeping track of the "sentiment" of citizens and foreign nationals. If not legal challenges from organizations that defend press freedom and freedom of speech interests, the government should expect, at the very least, backlash from the public.

And that means you. If you think the idea of the U.S. government's compiling and monitoring a list of media professionals and "top media influencers" is a potential threat to democracy, now would be the perfect time to call your local and congressional representatives to let them know how much you value a free press and the freedom of speech, just in case they've forgotten.

Sleep tight, kids!
Post Fri Apr 06, 2018 6:13 pm 
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El Supremo

Flint police sought charges against man leading mayoral recall efforts
Updated Oct 16, 2017; Posted Oct 16, 2017

Gallery: State police probe claims Flint police ran illegal background check on mayoral hopeful Arthur Woodson

By Oona Goodin-Smith ogoodins@mlive.com
FLINT, MI - Flint police sought charges against the now-mayoral candidate who led efforts to recall Mayor Karen Weaver, according to a letter Flint police sent to the Michigan State Police.

Responding to an investigation into whether the Flint Police Department ran an illegal criminal background check on mayoral hopeful Arthur Woodson, Flint Deputy Chief of Police Devon Bernritter sent a reply to the state police on Saturday, Oct. 14, confirming that the department was criminally investigating the recall leader and sought his arrest on July 27.

In the letter - addressed to Dawn Brinningstaull, director of the Michigan State Police division which oversees the LEIN background check system - Bernritter explained that Woodson was under criminal investigation over fraudulent recall petition circulation allegations when Detective Tyrone Booth searched Woodson's criminal history on the highly-protected law enforcement background check system.

State police probe claims Flint police ran illegal background check on mayoral hopeful
State police probe claims Flint police ran illegal background check on mayoral hopeful

The Flint Police Department is required to investigate the matter, reporting their midway status to the state after 45 days, and the results of their findings after 90 days.

LEIN, or Law Enforcement Information Network, is a computerized criminal justice database maintained by the Michigan State Police and tied to the FBI's National Crime Information Center, according to the state's website. Those authorized to use the system can access a person's criminal history, including arrests, convictions driving record information and out-of-state records.

Access to the highly-monitored system is permitted only under the management control of criminal justice agencies in the discharge of their official mandated responsibilities, and misuse is a criminal offense, punishable by up to 93 days in jail, a $500 fine, or both.

But, in his letter, Bernritter wrote that Booth was abiding the law when he searched Woodson's name in the system, a procedure required in order to attach his criminal history to an arrest warrant submitted to the Genesee County Prosecutor's office on July 27.

"We do ask departments to submit LEIN records with warrant requests," confirmed Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton. "We don't have a LEIN terminal."

Leyton declined to immediately comment on whether his office received an arrest warrant for Woodson.

Bernritter says the department received the letter Thursday, Oct. 12, nine days after state police said notice of the investigation was sent to Flint Police Chief Timothy Johnson on Oct. 3.

Bernritter confirmed on Monday, Oct. 16, that the criminal investigation into the allegedly fraudulent petitions is still ongoing.

The investigation was initiated after efforts to collect petition signatures to recall Weaver began in June. The Flint Police Department distributed a press release announcing an investigation into a criminal complaint alleging residents were tricked into signing the petitions. Officers were then spotted knocking on doors in the community to question voters on whether they signed to remove the mayor.

The city has refused to release a copy of a criminal complaint to MLive-The Flint Journal - requested through the Freedom of Information Act - citing the open case's active investigation.

But Woodson said that three months into the investigation, police have yet to talk to him about the probe.

"They didn't question me, never," Woodson said. "To this day, I have not spoken to the police about the recall petitions ... the fraud is on the part of the mayor when she tried to use police to bring people to court and used a Flint police officer to pick up petitions using her campaign funds."

Woodson, 50, filed a complaint with Michigan State Police in August after he said he was told by a Flint police officer that other officers were attempting to release information on his criminal history on Facebook.

The mayoral candidate has been candid about his criminal background, which he says includes credit card fraud, wire fraud, receiving stolen goods and forgery conviction in 1989 and simple assault on federal police officers and assault with a deadly weapon convictions in 2005.

Both the assault on federal police officers and assault with deadly weapons charges resulted from unfair police treatment toward him, he said.

Woodson said he believes the LEIN search was a tactic to thwart his mayoral run.

"They were trying to post it on Facebook to tarnish my name," Woodson previously said. "This is just police abusing the system, once again."

This is not the first time the Flint Police Department's involvement in the mayoral recall has come into question.

Records -- obtained by MLive-The Flint Journal via Freedom of Information Act request -- show Flint Police Officer Kristopher Jones was on the city's dime when he used a check from Weaver's campaign funds to purchase copies of the recall petitions his department is investigating.

Jones' time card showed that at the time of the purchase, he was conducting "surveillance at a location in the city of Flint" as a member of the city's Crime Area Target Team, a specialized unit created by Police Chief Tim Johnson to proactively deter violent crime.

Despite a statement through city spokesperson Kristin Moore that Officer Kristopher Jones was "on (his) own time" when he purchased a stack of recall petitions at 1:11 p.m. on Friday, July 7 with the mayor's money, his time card shows otherwise.

Allegations of improper police involvement in the Flint mayoral recall surfaced again in late August after Weaver took Genesee County Clerk John Gleason to court, pointing to "grossly illegal behavior by the petition circulators" in attempts to call off the election to oust her.

However, the tables were turned in court on Aug. 29, when, under oath, four of the mayor's witnesses testified they had been summoned to court by police after signing the recall petition, while two petition circulators claimed they were offered bribes by Weaver or City Administrator Sylvester Jones to stop collecting recall signatures.

Both Sylvester Jones and Weaver have denied the allegations of bribery.

After listening to testimony from four voters who said they were directed via house visits and phone calls from police to come to court that morning, Genesee County Judge Geoffrey L. Neithercut questioned why Flint police were involved at all in a personal civil suit from the mayor.

"I can't speak to that, judge," responded Weaver's attorney, Kendall Williams.

"Wow," said Neithercut. "That may affect credibility issues on this case."

The judge questioned why police were involved in a civil case.

Two days after the allegations of police involvement and bribery came out in court, Weaver dropped the lawsuit, a decision Williams said was a mutual decision by both parties.

Woodson is one of the 17 candidates challenging Weaver for her job as mayor in the Nov. 7 recall election.
Post Fri Apr 06, 2018 6:21 pm 
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