Minnesota political crackdown

Minneapolis police attack child with pepper spray at #mpls2madison march

#MPLS2Madison – May 13, 2015 – Minneapolis, MN

The Black Liberation Project organized a #MPLS2Madison rally in solidarity with Tony Robinson, an unarmed black man killed in Madison, and other black lives taken by the police.

The night rally started at the Government Center in downtown Minneapolis and turned into a march that snaked through the streets stopping at the First Precinct. The police repressed the march with pepper spray as it marched back to the Government Center. Victims of the pepper spray included 10 year old Taye.

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Mordor Mayor Rybak makes moves to hide Minneapolis panopticon: Total Minneapolis Awareness Automatic License Plate Reader records form 'retroactive surveillance' empire

rybak-licenseplate-mordor-panopticon.jpg

"It is poor civic hygiene to install technologies that could someday facilitate a police state." ~ Cryptographer/security guy Bruce Schneier (src)

We all know the old motif - Feds staking out parking lots, reporting the license plates back to Hoover. Nowadays things are a little different - computers can trivially hoover up all the unique features like license plates and faces from video signals, 24/7. These are technical capabilities that Hitler and Stalin only dreamed of. The former National Security Agency employee William Binney described the system locking into place as a "turnkey totalitarian state" is arriving one system at a time. One of those turnkeys just turned up in Minneapolis.

The word is out now that more than 2 million license plate records have been obtained through a data request, since the surveillance material consists of mostly public record fields. Minneapolis developer Tony Webster (@webster) wrote up the info on what happened here - and quite correctly calls for the government to quit holding this kind of data for a number of serious reasons. See TonyWebster.com: Minneapolis Police release 2.1 million license plate records.

Rybak wants quick action on license plate data | StarTribune.com:

A day after the city released a database containing more than two million license plate scans, Mayor R.T. Rybak wants expedited state action to make the data non-public.

The Legislature is already expected to take action this session to reclassify license plate tracking data, which is derived from cameras mounted on local police squad cars across the state. But after complying with a request for Minneapolis' entire public database -- featuring dates, times and locations of all plates scanned in a 90 day period -- Rybak wants more immediate action.

He said the request was "already in the works" before Tuesday's data release, but "it does concern me." His request to temporarily reclassify the data would, if approved by the Commissioner of Administration, prevent the city from releasing the tracking data to members of the public.

See also latest on MPR: Lawmakers mull bill to regulate automatic license plate readers Minnesota Today. I think MPR is inaccurate as MPD said they'd shortened this to 90 days from the original year, as Strib indicated. (otherwise they would have violated MN Data Practices Act by failing to release earlier public records upon request)

Minneapolis' DFL Mayor RT Rybak (@mayorRTrybak) has sprung into action to demand the records generated by Minneapolis Police Department's Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) system become classified as "private data", which means only the government, cops, various lawyers under different circumstances, etc, could trivially get ahold of incredibly detailed data & patterns about your vehicle's movements without a warrant.

Rybak's thoughtful plan is to make sure that no one else can get that data, only that bloated galaxy of whom John Young @ Cryptome.org calls the 'authoritatives' lording the new panopticon over us.

This is our window - our snapshot of the beta test - into the hellish future of total 'retroactive surveillance' awaiting us, when all our actions are constantly recorded to be 'played backwards' whenever some bureaucratic enforcer wants to increment his career through hassling us, demanding civil fines for infractions etc.

As recent posts on this site have documented, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (which just got a new chief) is spending state taxpayer money funnelled to military-industrial contractors in order to build a local version of a GPS tracking system called Intellidrive, which would transmit every damn move, including velocity, of every tagged car.

Additionally, exposure of abusive & immoral practices in the Drug Recognition Evaluator training program (& main BCA file) resulted not in a candid cleanup by law enforcement, but stonewalling. When individual law enforcement officers invariably abuse these massive data mining deployments, as some do, is there really adequate oversight let alone punishment for turning these 'necessary' technologies into avenues of abuse?

Plus of course, what are the implications of the chilling effects of these ALPR systems? What is the price paid by society when the chilling effect of avoiding ALPRs by staying put kicks in? How many people refuse to fly because of the intrusive & abusive security measures? And what happens when municipal cameras collect data even more granular and intrusive than the federal TSA?

For more on this stuff I recommend following @webster, and @RichNeumeister, a citizen activist on nearly all data & privacy matters at the Mn State Capitol. It seems like Webster triggered the Rybak blocking him on Twitter. Classy - especially since Webster posted in this recent context he's a lifelong DFL supporter.

To quote a bit from Rich Neumeister's blog which is VERY helpful for Minnesota issues: Two meetings: prescription records and license plate scans

Now to the Criminal Justice and Juvenile Information Policy Group meeting which was to make a decision about the collection and retention of millions of records of where you and I travel if we happen to be owners of cars collected secretly by the cops.

Per Eric Roper's Star Tribune Blog post  the Policy Group made up of Commissioners, judges, and others decided to make the license scan data private, but deleted the retention of 180 days for the data if there were no hits for law enforcement investigation.

Now I have to scratch my head on this one. By deleting the retention of 180 days, is the Policy Group saying with all intents and purposes, DO NOT KEEP OR COLLECT LICENSE SCANS ON INNOCENT AND LAW ABIDING PEOPLE, or are they saying the COPS CAN COLLECT ALL THE LICENSE SCAN DATA THEY WANT ON INNOCENT AND LAW ABIDING PEOPLE AND KEEP IT AS LONG AS THEY WANT.

I am perplexed.

& also earlier: Email to Minnesota Criminal Justice Policy Group on License Plate Cameras. For what it's worth Webster tweeted this afternoon (Tues Dec 13th) that the division of the state govt that implements/sets the rules, IPAD, has NOT yet received anything new from Minneapolis about ALPR data.

The reality is that politicians are not that responsible about these data issues. Instead you get ignored, blocked on Twitter etc. I am writing another post about yet another newly relevant old case - the Norm Coleman credit card database leak which I covered at Politics In Minnesota circa January 2009, eerily similar to the new charges against alternative journalist Barrett Brown. (Posting links to data like the Coleman leak is a form of journalism & research that feds are trying to redefine [unconstitutionally] as a felony! NOT GOOD). But that is definitely a whole 'nother story....

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MORE ON RETROACTIVE SURVEILLANCE LIKE MINNEAPOLIS POLICE DEPARTMENT ALPR SYSTEM: (not to be confused with the practice of retroactively legalizing the earlier illegal surveillance performed by telecoms during the Bush administration). 'Retroactive surveillance' is basically a timestamped panopticon.

Retroactive surveillance is a class of technology which can easily destroy certain dimensions of 'free will' and therefore should be considered extremely carefully as a keystone type of social control system. It's my personal opinion it will take at least a century for this type of tech to be possible to be used ethically (if ever), as the ethical structures do not currently exist – a major reason we are all descending into a kind of neo-feudal technocratic authoritarianism worldwide.

cryptogon.com » NYPD and Microsoft Team Up to Peddle Retroactive Surveillance System [WSJ] - same type of camera data inputs

NYPD, Microsoft Hope to Make a Mint off New Surveillance System - National - The Atlantic Wire

Coming soon: Ubiquitous surveillance from Big Brother's wayback machine (the archive.org wayback machine snapshots many websites over time, invaluable!)

NetworkWorld, 2011: Coming soon: Ubiquitous surveillance from Big Brother's wayback machine

cryptogon.com » New Video Surveillance System Tags, Tracks and Follows

a commenter puts it well at cryptogon.com » Coming Soon: Retroactive Surveillance on Anyone: "A present anxiety of future trouble from the unforgotten past; black to the future."

A change in tune: law enforcement now aggressively promoting retroactive surveillance capabilities of license plate readers | Privacy SOS

Is there any science (social science) of retroactive surveillance?

House Passes Surveillance Bill without Retroactive Immunity | TPMMuckraker

Drug war provides cover for retroactive surveillance without probable cause | Privacy SOS

.. That's all for now - this post is licensed Creative Commons remix/reuse with attribution to Dan Feidt/Hongpong.com non-commercially, including the "sheeple style" remix image I slapped together.

Interview on streaming radio & shortwave today on DRE drug scandal / MK Occupy Minnesota

UPDATE June 4: It was a cool interview but got cut off immediately after the host asked if there were similar nationwide patterns to DRE -- which of course there are, for example the Cleveland 5 entrapment case drugs were used to help get control of the FBI's patsies according to a report on Alternet by Arun Gupta:

Peskar says jobs weren’t the only thing Azir was hooking them up with. Baxter admitted to him that he was taking Adderall, a widely abused prescription stimulant. Peskar says, “Connor was also taking it, and mentioned, ‘I have a connect for Adderall.’ Both Wright and Baxter said the connection for the Adderall was Azir. I asked Baxter where he got it from, and he said ‘Doug’s boss.’”

So I only got about half the time I was allotted but nonetheless it was great to reach a new audience for these issues via shortwave, and I was able to discuss at some length National Special Security Events and the plan for domestic deployment of military forces known as USNORTHCOM CONPLAN 3502 Civil Disturbance Operations, which I believe NSSEs are partially used as live exercise cover for. (and mentioned the dual status task force which was in Chicago at the NATO summit yet not really seen)


Around 5:30PM Central today I'm doing a phone interview on the DRE drug scandal / MK Occupy Minnesota with the Global Freedom Report (streaming http://freedomradio.us/vof/ - shortwave WWCR World Wide Christian Radio 9.350 MHz!) & other topics - i'll try to get at the latest w Cruz house, etc over 40 mins as well. Fun fun!

Link to video is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTgN17FZGKE

BTW: Also I got a kick out of this video by various folks including the ACLU & Joseph Gordon-Levitt which shows in cartoon form, a cop selling drugs to a couple guys. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2eXtCuVyFM&feature=youtu.be

"Creating an atmosphere of fear for journalists" - Greenwald: Climate of Fear: Jim Risen v. the Obama administration - intelligence police state out of control

Glenn Greenwald nails this one. Journalists have nowhere to run under the nightmarish corrupt DOJ regime -- and the lickspittles are not the ones subject to the special operations & continuous COINTELPRO patterns. Big ups to seeing our local repression campaign against antiwar activists duly noted in context. It's all getting out of control folks, but hey, I can repost for the moment. via http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/06/23/risen

The Obama DOJ's effort to force New York Times investigative journalist Jim Risen to testify in a whistleblower prosecution and reveal his source is really remarkable and revealing in several ways; it should be receiving much more attention than it is.  On its own, the whistleblower prosecution and accompanying targeting of Risen are pernicious, but more importantly, it underscores the menacing attempt by the Obama administration -- as Risen yesterday pointed out -- to threaten and intimidate whistleblowers, journalists and activists who meaningfully challenge what the government does in secret.

The subpoena to Risen was originally issued but then abandoned by the Bush administration, and then revitalized by Obama lawyers.  It is part of the prosecution of Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA agent whom the DOJ accuses of leaking to Risen the story of a severely botched agency plot -- from 11 years ago -- to infiltrate Iran's nuclear program, a story Risen wrote about six years after the fact in his 2006 best-selling book, State of War.  The DOJ wants to force Risen to testify under oath about whether Sterling was his source.

Like any good reporter would, Risen is categorically refusing to testify and, if it comes to that (meaning if the court orders him to testify), he appears prepared to go to prison in defense of press freedoms and to protect his source (just as some young WikiLeaks supporters are courageously prepared to do rather than cooperate with the Obama DOJ's repellent persecution of the whistleblowing site).  Yesterday, Risen filed a Motion asking the Court to quash the government's subpoena on the ground that it violates the First Amendment's free press guarantee, and as part of the Motion, filed a lengthy Affidavit that is amazing in several respects.

During the Bush years, Risen was one of the few investigative journalists exposing the excesses and lawbreaking that was the War on Terror -- causing him to be literally hated by officials of the National Security State.  Along with Eric Lichtblau, Risen most famously revealed, in 2005, that the NSA was secretly spying on Americans without warrants which -- as he put it in his Affidavit -- "in all likelihood, violated the law and the United States Constitution."  In 2006, he revealed that the Bush administration had been obtaining huge amounts of financial and banking information about American citizens from the SWIFT system, all without oversight or Congressional authorization.  And here's how he summarized the multiple revelations in State of War, the book for which the Obama DOJ is now seeking to force him to reveal his source upon pain of imprisonment:

State of War included explosive revelations about a series of illegal or potentially illegal actions taken by President Bush, including the domestic wiretapping program. It also disclosed how President Bush secretly pressured the CIA to use torture on detainees in secret prisons around the world; how the White House and CIA leadership ignored information before the 2003 invasion of Iraq that showed that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction; documented how, in the aftermath of the invasion, the Bush Administration punished CIA professionals who warned that the war in Iraq was going badly; showed how the Bush Administration turned a blind eye to Saudi involvement in terrorism; and revealed that the CIA's intelligence operations on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Iran and other countries were completely dysfunctional, and even reckless.

(To understand the function of the American media and American political culture: please re-read that paragraph -- describing revelations of pervasive lawbreaking and corruption at the highest levels of government from one reporter in one book -- and compare the media's indifferent and/or supportive treatment of that revealed conduct to the orgy of intense, obsessive condemnation directed at Anthony Weiner; or compare how the perpetrators of that conduct revealed by Risen are treated with great respect to the universal scorn heaped on Weiner).

Particularly because of the NSA revelation, Risen was despised by Bush officials and was the target of a right-wing hate campaign (including suggestions -- from administration officials and prominent others -- that he be prosecuted for espionage).  Risen compiles ample evidence in his Affidavit to argue that the Subpoena issued to him in the Sterling case was a by-product of the administration's efforts to harm him; he writes: "the administration was embarrassed by the disclosures I made in the course of my reporting for State of War as well as in The New York Times, and eventually singled me out as a target for political harassment."  Indeed, Risen argues -- persuasively -- that the investigation to unmask his source, and the prosecution of Sterling itself, is little more than a means of punishing him for his reporting and for intimidating similar disclosures in the future:

I believe that the investigation that led to this prosecution started because of my reporting on the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping program. The Bush White House was furious over that story. I believe that this investigation started as part of an effort by the Bush Administration to punish me and silence me, following the publication of the NSA wiretapping story. I was told by a reliable source that Vice President Dick Cheney pressured the Justice Department to personally target me because he was unhappy with my reporting and wanted to see me in jail.

As it has in so many other instances, the Obama administration appears on the verge of fulfilling Dick Cheney's nefarious wish beyond what even Cheney could achieve.

* * * * * *

There are two aspects to Risen's Affidavit which merit particular attention.  First, Risen cites a 2006 ABC News report from Brian Ross and others that claimed the Bush administration was, without warrants, spying on the communications of reporters (including Ross) in order to discover the identity of their sources.  I personally never attached much credence to that story because of how unreliable I find Brian Ross to be, but in his Affidavit, Risen states (under oath) that he "has reason to believe that the story . . . is true" because he "learned from an individual who testified before a grand jury in this District that was examining my reporting about the domestic wiretapping program that the Government had shown this individual copies of telephone records relating to calls made to and from me."

The fact that Bush officials were spying on reporters is extraordinary.  Instead of pursuing Cheneyite vendettas by persecuting whistleblowers who exposed newsworthy ineptitude from long-irrelevant CIA plots, the Obama DOJ ought to be investigating that allegation; that it isn't and wouldn't speaks volumes.

Second, Risen links the Obama administration's pursuit of the Sterling case and of Risen to the current President's broader (and unprecedented) war on whistleblowers and investigative journalism.  He writes:

[I believe that the efforts to target me have continued under the Obama Administration, which has been aggressively investigating whistleblowers and reporters in a way that will have a chilling effect on the freedom of the press in the United States.]

What's particularly striking about this prosecution is that it involves digging deep into the ancient past (the Iran operation in question was begun under the Clinton administration): this from a President who insisted that Bush officials not be investigated for their crimes on the ground that we must "Look Forward, Not Backward."  But it's not hard to see why Obama officials are so intent on doing so: few things are more effective in creating a Climate of Fear -- one that deters investigation and disclosure and stifles the exercise of basic rights -- than prosecuting prominent people for having challenged and undermined the government's agenda.  As Risen documents, that -- plainly -- is what this prosecution and the Obama administration's broader anti-whistleblower war is about: chilling the exercise of basic rights and the ability to challenge government actions.

* * * * * 

While there is no good faith claim that Risen's revelation six years after the fact harmed U.S. national security, Risen's story was unquestionably newsworthy because it revealed how inept and ignorant American intelligence agencies are when it comes to Iran.  Indeed, Risen claims vindication for his story "given subsequent reports about the unreliability of our intelligence about Iran's nuclear capabilities and about our government's tendency to overstate the threat in a way that is not entirely consistent with the intelligence actually gathered."

That Iran is developing nuclear weapons is one of the Obama administration's most cherished orthodoxies.  Anything that challenges that is attacked.  Recall how cowardly Obama officials ran to Politico to anonymously malign Seymour Hersh's recent New Yorker piece arguing that there is little credible evidence of Iran's nuclear activities.  As Risen says:  "Whether one agrees with Mr. Hersh's article or not, it is clear that, five years after I wrote State of War, there is still a serious national debate about Iran's nuclear ambitions and about whether the current administration has incentives to exaggerate intelligence related to this topic."

What the Obama administration is doing, above all else, is bolstering the Climate of Fear that prevents any challenges to its pronouncements of this sort.   I wrote about that joint White-House/Politico attack on Hersh to mock the gross hypocrisy of criticizing Hersh for his use of anonymous sources in the very same article where Politico granted anonymity to Obama officials to attack him; but the more substantive point is that of course Hersh has to use anonymous sources.  In the Climate of Fear being deliberately fortified by the Obama administration, what person in their right mind would openly challenge their national security decrees on classified matters or call their veracity into question?  As the Sterling/Risen case and numerous others have intentionally conveyed:  imprisonment is the likely outcome for those who do that.

* * * * * 

This Climate of Fear is being strengthened by more than just whistleblowing prosecutions and the targeting of journalists.  So many Obama policies are devoted to its fortification.

Today in The New York Times, former NYT reporter David Shipler chronicles the multiple ways the current President, in conjunction with Congress and the Supreme Court, have intensified the decades-long assault on the Fourth Amendment's guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures:  "The Obama administration petitioned the Supreme Court to allow GPS tracking of vehicles without judicial permission. The Supreme Court ruled that the police could break into a house without a search warrant if, after knocking and announcing themselves, they heard what sounded like evidence being destroyed. Then it refused to see a Fourth Amendment violation where a citizen was jailed for 16 days on the false pretext that he was being held as a material witness to a crime. Congress renewed Patriot Act provisions on enhanced surveillance powers until 2015, and the F.B.I. expanded agents' authority to comb databases, follow people and rummage through their trash even if they are not suspected of a crime."  In his last paragraph, Shipler describes why this matters so much:

The Fourth Amendment is weaker than it was 50 years ago, and this should worry everyone. "Uncontrolled search and seizure is one of the first and most effective weapons in the arsenal of every arbitrary government," Justice Robert H. Jackson, the former chief United States prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, wrote in 1949. "Among deprivations of rights, none is so effective in cowing a population, crushing the spirit of the individual and putting terror in every heart." 

Beyond the numerous actions described by Shipler, the Obama adminstration has pursued multiple actions perfectly described by that passage, certain to achieve that very outcome.  It has continuously harassed numerous WikiLeaks supporters, repeatedly detaining them at airports and seizing and copying their laptops, all without warrants, and subpoeaned their social networking records.   It is seeking (and is likely to obtain) dramatically expanded domestic surveillance powers, physically and over the Internet.  It has seized the power to target American citizens for assassination without a whiff of due process.  It succeeded in convincing the Supreme Court to declare that one can "materially support Terrorism" -- a felony -- merely by talking to, or advocating on behalf of, designated Terrorist groups.  In one of the most important stories I haven't written about (but should have), it has invasively investigated and threatened with prosecution a slew of domestic peace activists and those sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.  And now the precedent has been bolstered that the prime circumstance that fuels and justifies all of these powers -- war -- can be unilaterally commenced by the President for any reason, for any length of time, without a pretense of democratic consent.

For someone who has no real interest in challenging government claims or undermining official actions, these policies will have no direct, perceptible effect.  It's always true that those who are supportive of institutions of authority or who otherwise have no interest in challenging them are never targeted by measures of this sort; why would they be?  That's why supporters of all Presidents -- Republicans during the Bush years and now Democratic loyalists under Obama -- are rarely disturbed by such developments. 

Along with the apathetic, who by definition pose no threat to anyone, prominent cheerleaders for the President and his party, who labor every day to keep them in power, are the last ones who will be subjected to such programs.  Obviously, nobody in the Obama administration is monitoring the phone calls at the Center for American Progress or ones placed to the large stable of columnists, bloggers and TV stars who daily spout White House talking points or devote each day to attacking the President's political opponents.  That's why purported civil liberties concerns manifest only when the other party is in power, but vanish when their own is.  Partisan loyalists are indifferent to their leader's ability to deter dissent; if anything, they're happy that their party's leader wields such power and can use it against political adversaries.

But for anyone who is engaged in meaningful dissent from and challenge to government officials -- the Jim Risens and other real investigative reporters, the Thomas Drakes and other whistleblowers, the WikiLeaks supporters, the Midwest peace activists -- these prosecutions and these ever-expanding surveillance, detention and even assassination powers are inevitably intimidating.  Regardless of how those powers are used or even whether they are, they will, as Risen put it, have "a chilling effect" on the exercise of core freedoms.  As Risen explained in his Affidavit, even if Brian Ross' story turned out to be false, the mere claim by anonymous officials that the phone records of journalists are being monitored -- combined with threats of prison for their sources and even for reporters who are subpoenaed -- means "the Government further contributed to creating an atmosphere of fear for journalists who publish stories about national security and intelligence issues."

The most odious aspect of this Climate of Fear is that it fundamentally changes how the citizenry thinks of itself and its relationship to the Government.  A state can offer all the theoretical guarantees of freedom in the world, but those become meaningless if citizens are afraid to exercise them.  In that climate, the Government need not even act to abridge rights; a fearful populace will voluntarily refrain on its own from exercising those rights. 

Nobody wants to believe that they have been put in a state of fear, that they are intimidated, so rationalizations are often contrived: I don't perceive any violations of my rights because there's nothing I want to do that I'm not able to do.   Inducing a fearful population to refrain from exercising rights -- as it convinces itself no such thing is happening -- is a far more effective, and far more pernicious, means of suppressing freedoms.  That's what a Climate of Fear uniquely enables.  The vast National Security and Surveillance State has for decades been compiling powers -- and eroding safeguards and checks -- devoted to the strengthening of this climate, and the past two-and-a-half years have seen as rapid and concerted intensification as any other period one can recall.  Read Jim Risen's Affidavit if you doubt that.

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