Friday, 20 March 2009

Profiling and Criminalizing Political Dissent

Written by  William F. Jasper

Missouri Highway Patrol troopers at a shooting scene. AP ImagesA recent report issued through the Missouri State Highway Patrol is stirring alarm among citizens and some elected officials that Christians, political conservatives, and opponents of unconstitutional government action are being targeted for intimidation and harassment — or worse. The drafters of the report clearly are attempting to create in the minds of law-enforcement personnel an association between violent “right-wing extremists” and the millions of law-abiding Americans who oppose gun control, the United Nations, the Federal Reserve System, the income tax, illegal immigration, and abortion.

The eight-page report entitled “The Modern Militia Movement” and dated February 20 also Car sticker in the back window of a Ron Paul fan. specifically mentions by name Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas), who ran for president in the 2008 Republican Party primaries, and third-party candidates Bob Barr and Chuck Baldwin. The clear implication is that people sporting bumper stickers or literature related to these candidates should be viewed as potential threats that view all law enforcement as “the enemy.”

After listing 18 incidents of “noteworthy militia activity” from 1995 through 2008, some of which involved bombings or armed confrontations with law enforcement, the report states:

You are the Enemy: The militia subscribes to an antigovernment and NWO [New World Order] mind set, which creates a threat to law enforcement officers. They view the military, National Guard, and law enforcement as a force that will confiscate their firearms and place them in FEMA concentration camps. (Bold emphasis in original.)

The report, issued by the Missouri Information and Analysis Center (MIAC), a branch of the state’s Highway Patrol, then states:

Militia members most commonly associate with 3rd party political groups. It is not uncommon for militia members to display Constitutional Party, Campaign for Liberty, or Libertarian material. These members are usually supporters of former Presidential Candidate [sic]: Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin, and Bob Barr.

Chuck Baldwin is the founder and pastor of Crossroad Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida, as well as a radio talk-show host and newspaper/Internet columnist. In 2008, he was the Constitution Party’s candidate for president of the United States. In a March 17 response to the MIAC report, he stated:

Do you not see how dangerous this kind of slanderous labeling can become? It could affect your flight status when you try to board an airline. It could affect your application for sensitive jobs. It could affect your adjudication before a court or judge. It could make you a target for aggressive law enforcement strategies. It could affect your being able to obtain a passport. It could affect one's ability to purchase a firearm or receive a State concealed weapon permit.

This is very serious business! We are not talking about private opinions. We are talking about law enforcement agencies. And remember, most law enforcement agencies share these types of reports; therefore, how many other state police agencies have similar reports floating around? Probably several. Plus, how do we know that this report was not influenced by federal police agencies? We don't.

Rest assured, I do not plan to take this lying down. As one who is personally named in the above report, I demand a public retraction and apology from the MIAC and Missouri State Police. I can tell you that my family is extremely distraught that their husband, father, and grandfather would be labeled in such a manner. I am also not ruling out legal action. In addition, I am discussing an appropriate response with Ron Paul and Bob Barr.

Missouri State Representative Jim Guest finds the MIAC report “very disturbing” and has requested a meeting with the agency. “I was rather skeptical at first as to whether it was even a genuine report,” he told The New American. “I thought it could be an Internet hoax.” However, the Highway Patrol soon verified for him that the report was authentic. In a press release/editorial issued March 17, Rep. Guest denounced the report as “profiling to the highest degree to identify citizens of this country who display bumper stickers or other labels as being part of a modern militia movement.”

Rep. Guest is the author of a bill in the Missouri state legislature to oppose the Federal Real ID Act, which establishes a national drivers license and an enormously invasive national database. According to Guest, 26 states have passed some sort of anti-Real ID legislation and 11 states have successfully changed state law to reject Real ID provisions. Guest sees the MIAC report as part of the organized “movement to stop our rejection of the Real ID Act and pending state legislation to protect our 2nd amendment rights.”

“This assault on Americans by profiling us as militant instead of profiling those who are here illegally, or terrorists, amazes me,” says Rep. Guest. However, he vows that he “will not be intimidated” by these tactics.

Feeling heat from the public outcry over the MIAC report, Missouri law-enforcement officials have been trying to downplay the document.

Lt. John Hotz of the Missouri State Highway Patrol told the Columbia Tribune that the document is not intended to promote political profiling. “All this is an educational thing,” Hotz said of the report. “Troopers have been shot by members of groups, so it’s our job to let law enforcement officers know what the trends are in the modern militia movement.”

The Columbia Tribune report continues: "Hotz said using those or similar factors to determine whether someone could be a terrorist is not profiling. He said people who display signs or bumper stickers from such groups are not in danger of harassment from police."

Rep. Guest disagrees, pointing out that because the report wrongfully mixes ordinary patriots in with violent organizations and identifies legitimate political beliefs with a “mindset” that  “creates a threat to law enforcement officers,” there is the very real danger that some officers will overreact. This could result in violations of citizens’ rights, or, even worse, lethal confrontations.

Rick Shinn knows from personal experience that the kind of law-enforcement mentality fostered by reports like the MIAC report can lead to undesirable consequences. News of the MIAC Militia report took him back, he told The New American, to an incident a little over 10 years ago, when the Clinton administration was engaged in an eerily similar attempt to gin up an anti-militia, anti-patriot attitude in the law-enforcement community.

Shinn, a videographer, carpenter, and Internet web designer, is a resident/property owner of Incline Village, Nevada, on the shore of beautiful Lake Tahoe. One day while enjoying the Tahoe sunshine on the drive of a private club of which he is a member, he was surrounded by four county sheriff’s vehicles and six or seven officers. It was clear, he said, that they had been attracted to him by his bumper stickers.

“One of them [the bumper stickers] was ‘Get US Out of the United Nations,’ and the other one was about the Second Amendment and the right to keep and bear arms,” he recalled to The New American. “One of the officers who came up said ‘Oh, looks like we’ve got one of those constitutionalists here, eh?’ And I responded, ‘Aren’t all Americans supposed to be constitutionalists?’”

According to Shinn, they detained him for about 45 minutes while they searched his van — without probable cause, without his permission, and without a search warrant. “I didn’t have anything illegal, so they didn’t find anything to arrest me for or ticket me for,” he recalls. Still, it was a very unsettling experience. There was no question in his mind that he had been targeted because of his political bumper stickers, which are a form of expression that is supposed to be protected under the First Amendment. “That was right at the time,” he notes “when Bill Clinton and [Attorney General] Janet Reno, and [FBI Director] Louis Freeh were issuing warnings to local police to be on guard against ‘anti-government’ militias and other ‘dangerous’ patriots.”

Those Clinton-era warnings culminated in the FBI’s 1999 “Project Megiddo” report (see "Criminalizing Dissent" and the Project Megiddo report), which was distributed to law-enforcement agencies in anticipation of millennium mayhem by “right-wing extremists.” Pushing the memory refresh button on the Clinton/Reno/Freeh jihad against “anti-government, right-wing extremists” could prove to be a very useful exercise at this juncture, as increasing evidence points to an earnest renewal of that jihad under the Obama/Eric Holder/Robert Mueller regime.

According to Lt. Hotz in the Columbia Tribune story, the “MIAC, which opened in 2005, is a ‘fusion center’ that combines resources from the federal Department of Homeland Security and other agencies.” It might more accurately be called a “confusion center,” since it appears, at least in this case, to be sowing confusion, and particularly the brand of confusion provided by the federal government’s favorite left-wing extremists at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), led by millionaire lawyer/activist Morris Dees.

The MIAC Militia report specifically mentions the SPLC twice, but the report reads like a copy-and-paste job from the SPLC’s infamous Intelligence Report, which are notorious for smearing political conservatives, constitutionalists, pro-lifers, and Christian organizations by referring to them as “hate groups” and including them in lists and articles alongside violent and repulsive groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis, and skinheads.

The MIAC report’s bullet points on “noteworthy militia activity” appear to be condensed from the SPLC’s Intelligence Report entitled “Terror From the Right,” and the MIAC authors have adopted the SPLC’s terminology, as well its practice of conflating odious and lawless groups with those that are principled and law-abiding.

The SPLC’s “Hate Group Map,” for instance, lists “926 active hate groups in the United States in 2008.” As usual, most of the groups listed are rather small clusters of racist and violent-prone gangsters, such as the White Aryan Resistance, Aryan Nations, the National Socialist Skinhead Front, and the various KKK factions. However, in typical fashion, the SPLC has mixed in other respected organizations that have nothing in common with these certifiable hate groups. For example, Christian groups such as Chalcedon Foundation, Traditional Values Coalition, Abiding Truth Ministries, the Illinois Family Institute, and the Family Research Institute are included on the “Hate Map” because the SPLC has labeled them “Anti-Gay.”

Likewise, Tradition in Action and The Fatima Crusader/International Fatima Rosary Crusade are included, described by the SPLC as “Radical Traditionalist Catholic.” Groups concerned about the very real crisis involving illegal immigration are falsely labeled as “Anti-Immigrant.” The groups listed include American Patrol/Voice of Citizens Together, Save Our State, California Coalition for Immigration Reform, and American Immigration Control Foundation/Americans for Immigration Control. It labels the VDARE Foundation (publisher of the VDARE Internet site focusing on immigration problems) and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation (publisher of Joseph Sobran’s columns and newsletter) as “White Nationalist,” a category the SPLC then associates with “Ku Klux Klan, neo-Confederate, neo-Nazi, racist skinhead, and Christian Identity.”

Similarly, on its web page, “Active Patriot Groups in 2005,” the SPLC lists law-abiding, constitutional organizations such as the John Birch Society, the Constitution Party, the Free Enterprise Society, the Second Amendment Committee, and the American Independent Party alongside various militia groups, bracketing them with articles bearing titles such as: “Hate Group Numbers Up 33%”; “Going Undercover to Target Violent Racists”; “Former FBI Agent Infiltrates Hate Groups”; and “Neo-Nazi Youth’s Rampage Ends in Death.”

To protect itself, the SPLC provides this faux disclaimer: “Generally, Patriot groups define themselves as opposed to the ‘New World Order’ or advocate or adhere to extreme antigovernment doctrines. Listing here does not imply that the groups themselves advocate or engage in violence or other criminal activities, or are racist.”

The “disclaimer” notwithstanding, it is obviously a major purpose of the “Active Patriot Groups” list, like the “Hate Group Map,” to smear legitimate, non-violent, law-abiding groups with whom SPLC disagrees.

The SPLC has been involved for many years in transferring its political bias into federal, state, and local law-enforcement agencies through federal programs such as the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC). The SPLC’s web page on “Law Enforcement Training” boasts:

The Intelligence Project regularly conducts in-person trainings for local, state and federal law enforcement officers by request. We focus on the history, background, leaders and activities of far-right extremists in the U.S….

Intelligence Project staff have been involved in the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center's hate and bias crime "train-the-trainer" program since its inception in 1992. FLETC trains personnel for more than 75 federal law enforcement agencies and provides services for local, state and international agencies.

FLETC invited Intelligence Project personnel to help develop and write courses for a training program to improve the recognition, reporting and investigating of hate crimes. A member of the Intelligence Project staff taught one of the program's first pilot classes in New Jersey in 1994 and continues to instruct FLETC classes today.

The same SPLC web page features a photo of Illinois State Police regional commander Bill Davis shaking hands with and thanking SPLC Intelligence Project staffer Joe Roy for a training presentation.

Obvious questions arise: has Illinois produced a report similar to the MIAC report? How many other state and local law-enforcement agencies have produced similar reports? To what degree was the SPLC, FLETC, the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department, and/or the FBI involved in the production of the MIAC report? After repeated calls to the Missouri State Highway Patrol and MIAC, I received a return call from public affairs spokesman Sgt. Jason Clark. Sgt. Clark said he could assure me “one hundred percent” that the contents of the MIAC report “originated locally and not from the DHS or any other federal agency.” As to possible SPLC involvement, Sgt. Clark said he was sure that the SPLC had not conducted any training for the Missouri Highway Patrol. However, he couldn’t rule out SPLC involvement and/or input into the MIAC report, stating,  “I’m ignorant as to the sources of the information used.” He provided me with additional contacts within the chain of command to request that information, and The New American is following up on that line of investigation.

See related articles:

"Terror, Lies & Memos"

"Agents Provocateurs"

"The FBI's Pipe-bomb Provocateurs"

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