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ACLU: FBI's 'Positive Intel' Violates Muslims' Religious Rights

March 27, 2012  | 

The American Civli Liberties Union has leveled an attack on the FBI's "mosque outreach" program, which the groups claims was used to illegally obtain information about the religious practices of San Francisco-area Muslims.

In a Tuesday press release, the ACLU accused the FBI of violating the Privacy Act of 1974 and released what it said was an ACLU analysis of documents it obtained from the FBI's San Francisco field office.

However, a leading civil rights attorney and author discounted the claim. Norm Pattis, a trial attorney and legal commentator, told POLICE Magazine the program was a legitimate counter-terrorism initiative.

"This doesn't strike me as harassment of the Muslim community," Pattis said. "I don't think gathering information should be aginst the law. In general, I think this is a smart application of community policing."

The ACLU claims FBI agents in San Francisco recorded identities of Muslim religious leaders and congregants, personal information, and religious views and practices. The FBI labeled this information as "positive intelligence" and disseminated it to other government agencies. The distribution placed the people and organizations involved "at risk of greater law enforcement scrutiny as potential national security threats," according to the group.

The information was collectd openly, but individuals weren't aware it would be distributed, according to the group.

"Everyone understands that the FBI has a job to do, but it is wrong and counterproductive for the bureau to target American Muslim religious groups for secret intelligence gathering and place innocents at risk of investigation as national security threats," said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU's National Security Project. "The FBI is casting a cloud of suspicion on American Muslim religious organizations based on their faith alone, which raises grave constitutional concerns."

The "Mosque Outreach" documents, from between 2004 and 2008, detail information and activities including:

• FBI agents visited the Seaside Mosque five times in 2005, documenting the subject of a particular sermon and congregants' discussions regarding a property purchase for a new mosque.

• FBI agents met with members of the South Bay Islamic Association four times from 2004 to 2007, documenting discussions about the Hajj pilgrimage and "Islam in general."

• FBI agents contacted representatives of the Bay Area Cultural Connections (formerly the Turkish Center Musalla), describing the group's mission and activities, as well as the ethnicity of its members. A memo indicates the FBI used a meeting participant's cell phone number to search LexisNexis and Department of Motor Vehicle records and obtained and recorded detailed information about him, including his date of birth, social security number, address and home telephone number.

The ACLU has asked the Justice Department's inspector general to investigate privacy violations in the FBI's San Francisco office and to initiate a broader audit of FBI practices nationwide to determine the scope of the problem and identify solutions.

Read the ACLU's full report here.

By Paul Clinton

Comments (6)

Displaying 1 - 6 of 6

HANK HILL @ 3/27/2012 5:12 PM


Tom Ret @ 3/27/2012 5:25 PM

I can't remember when the ACLU was on the right side of an argument or issue.

michael @ 3/27/2012 11:21 PM

This is typical of the ACLU and the rest of the wacko attorney's out there.
If you don't like that the Government is suspicious of a certain groups of people or so called religion organizations then move to a country where your rights are supported more then here.
I have nothing to hide and if this is what it takes to protect my way of life and my families so be it........we need to do whatever it takes. If any group raises much concern about being investigated or checked on, then maybe we are on the right track.

Greg @ 3/28/2012 3:50 AM

I can't think of a time when the ACLU has been "a good thing". Founded by communist supporters it's been anti-values, anti-religion and pro-bad guys's what they do.

Islam isn't a religion, it's a political party and design. It's designed to take over governments and people either by combat or the soft-jihad being used now by CAIR and it's minions. The book, "Muslim Mafia" shows the intent of this "religion?" which is why CAIR is in court trying to have the book banned, like any cockroach or thief, it prefers the dark.

Jack @ 3/28/2012 7:29 AM

Sad thing is the ACLU is funded by your tax dollars. The more cases they bring to court the more money they make. It's a win win for them either way.

Juan 10-13 @ 3/28/2012 7:29 AM

I know I'm not confused about the bases of a religion. I agree with Greg,the Islamic so called religion promotes complete and total elimination of all other religions then gain control of their followers with fear and damnation. Hmmmmm....sounds like terrorism to me! But really,they need to return to their promised land and build sandcastles to their hearts content worry free of any US intervention!

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