CNN – December 23, 2005
Muslim sites subject to secret monitoring for radiation
From Kevin Bohn and Jeanne Meserve
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Since 2002 the U.S. government has been monitoring for suspicious radiation levels outside more than 100 predominantly Muslim-related sites in the greater Washington, D.C., area, as well as various sites in other cities, several government officials with knowledge of the program confirmed to CNN Friday.
One government official said the authorities don't obtain warrants because the testing is conducted from outside the buildings on what they consider public property.
An official with the Federal Bureau of Investigation said that none of the FBI's programs target gathering places of any specific segment of the population and that non-Muslim sites were also monitored for radiation.
A Muslim advocacy group has said that the program is "misguided" and targets "the wrong people."
"It is a waste of time, it is a waste of resources and it is causing us to be concerned about our citizenship, our constitutional rights," Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told CNN….
VIEW CNN VIDEO: http://www.cnn.com/video/partners/clickability/index.html?url=/video/us/2005/12/23/meserve.monitoring.mosques.cnn
NBC4 – December 23, 2005
Govt spying on Muslim communities exposed
A secret government program monitoring homes and business of Muslims has outraged members of the Islamic community. The monitoring has been taking place since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The government apparently conducted the monitoring program without warrants.
Officials said they implemented the monitoring because they are looking for nuclear bombs. They also said the warrants were unnecessary because the monitoring was being done from publicly accessible areas.
D.C.-area Muslims were stunned by the latest revelations that came out in a news medium article.
They said they thought they had a very good relationship with the D.C. field office of the FBI.
One leader said he didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Finally, he said he was very confused about it all.
Another leader said the Bush administration seems to be clueless when it comes to security and terrorism and linking it.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based civil rights group, said it would not take the discovery lying down.
"I'm unsure that this administration knows what it's talking about. I'd like assurance from the president that the Muslim community is not targeted because of our religious identity," said Nihad Awad, director of CAIR….
VIEW VIDEO: http://cf.nbc4.com/dc/sh/videoplayer/video.cfm?ID=5631296
Detroit Free Press - December 24, 2005
Nuclear search targets Muslims in Detroit
BY NIRAJ WARIKOO
Federal agents secretly monitored Muslim homes and mosques in Detroit for radiation linked to terrorist bombs, according to published reports -- a disclosure Friday that prompted disbelief and outrage in Michigan's large Islamic communities.
Under the program, agents with the FBI and U.S. Department of Energy targeted a range of private Muslim institutions without court approval or warrants. Federal officials say they set up the program in Detroit and five other cities to thwart a nuclear attack from Islamic extremists, according to a U.S. News and World Report article that was confirmed Friday by the U.S. Justice Department.
But local Muslims say it's ludicrous to suspect that any area mosque or home populated by Muslims would be storing radioactive material for a bomb.
"It's ridiculous," said Imam Abdullah El-Amin, chairman of the board at the Muslim Center in Detroit and head of the Council of Islamic Organizations in Michigan. "It's taking our civil liberties away. . ."
On Friday, after the report was published, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights and advocacy group with a Michigan chapter, called upon the U.S. government to provide details on who it has been monitoring. What disturbed the group was the fact that the government appeared to only focus on Muslims.
The group also assailed the idea that American Muslims would be planning any sort of nuclear or terrorist attack.
"Where is the proof... of any such activity?" said Dawud Walid, director of the Michigan branch of the council. "It's preposterous."
Walid said the FBI should form working partnerships with Muslims rather than "snoop into the personal lives of Muslims indiscriminately."
New York Times – December 24, 2005
Widespread radioactivity monitoring is confirmed
BY MATTHEW L. WALD
WASHINGTON, Dec. 23 - The F.B.I. and the Energy Department have conducted thousands of searches for radioactive materials at private sites around the country in the last three years, government officials confirmed on Friday.
The existence of the search program was disclosed on Thursday by U.S. News & World Report, on its Web site. Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, government agencies have disclosed that they have installed radiation-detection equipment at ports, subway stations and other public locations, but extensive surreptitious monitoring of private property has not been publicly known.
The federal government has given thousands of radiation alarms, worn like cellphones on the belt, to police and fire departments in major cities.
A spokesman for the Justice Department, Brian Roehrkasse, confirmed that law enforcement personnel were conducting "passive operations in publicly accessible areas to detect the presence of radiological materials, in a manner that protects U.S. constitutional rights."
U.S. News, citing people it did not name, said many of the sites that federal agents had monitored were mosques or the homes or businesses of Muslims, and the report set off a dispute between a Muslim group here and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a statement: "This disturbing revelation, coupled with recent reports of domestic surveillance without warrant, could lead to the perception that we are no longer a nation ruled by law, but instead one in which fear trumps constitutional rights. All Americans should be concerned about the apparent trend toward a two-tiered system of justice, with full rights for most citizens, and another diminished set of rights for Muslims."…..
Washington Post – December 24, 2005
U.S. monitored Muslim sites across nation for radiation
By Spencer S. Hsu and Michael Alison Chandler
Clandestine FBI and Energy Department teams have monitored private property in the United States for signs of radiation without warrants, U.S. officials said yesterday.
Officials said the monitoring, which intensified after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, did not require warrants or court orders because it took place from publicly accessible areas or from parking lots or driveways leading to private facilities, which the FBI believes do not carry privacy protections. . .
The Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 in 2001 that warrants are required for police to use devices that search through walls for criminal activity, striking down the use of a heat sensor that led to marijuana charges against an Oregon man.
"The message they are sending through these kinds of actions is that being Muslim is sufficient evidence to warrant scrutiny," said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, director of outreach for Al Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, called the surveillance another example of unwarranted activity -- "both unwarranted from the standpoint of spying on Muslims who are only trying to observe their rituals and unwarranted in terms of not having proper judicial review."…
Los Angeles Times December 24, 2005
FBI monitors for radiation at some mosques
By Richard A. Serrano
WASHINGTON - Federal law enforcement officials said Friday that FBI agents have secretly monitored radiation levels at mosques, businesses and homes for several years in large cities, including Los Angeles, to determine whether radioactive, or "dirty," bombs were being assembled.
The officials said no suspicious radiation levels have been found.
The disclosure, following the revelation a week ago that the government has secretly spied on U.S. citizens without court permission, angered some U.S. Muslim leaders. They cited a Supreme Court ruling three months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in which the justices rejected such government monitoring.
"All Americans should be concerned about the apparent trend toward a two-tiered system of justice, with full rights for most citizens and another, diminished set for Muslims," said Nihad Awad, an official of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation's largest Muslim civil liberties group……
Associated Press – December 24, 2005
US tracking radiation levels in Muslim areas
By Larry Margasak
WASHINGTON -- A classified radiation monitoring program, conducted without warrants, has targeted private US property in an effort to prevent an Al Qaeda attack, federal law enforcement officials confirmed yesterday.
While declining to provide details, including the number of cities and sites monitored, the officials said the air monitoring took place since the Sept. 11 attacks and from publicly accessible areas -- which they said made warrants and court orders unnecessary.
US News and World Report first reported the program today. The magazine said the monitoring was conducted at more than 100 Muslim sites in the Washington, D.C., area -- including Maryland and Virginia suburbs -- and at least five other cities when threat levels had risen: Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, New York, and Seattle.
The magazine said that at its peak, three vehicles in Washington monitored 120 sites a day, nearly all of them Muslim targets identified by the FBI. Targets included mosques, homes, and businesses, the magazine said.
Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American- Islamic Relations, a Washington-based civil rights group, said yesterday that the program ''comes as a complete shock."
"This creates the appearance that Muslims are targeted simply for being Muslims. I don't think this is the message the government wants to send," he said…..
The Council on American-Islamic Relations advocacy group said the report, coupled with news of the domestic eavesdropping, "could lead to the perception that we are no longer a nation ruled by law, but instead one in which fear trumps constitutional rights."
"All Americans should be concerned about the apparent trend toward a two-tiered system of justice, with full rights for most citizens, and another diminished set of rights for Muslims," it said in a statement.
ABC – December 23, 2005
Nuclear search: Spying on U.S. Muslims
ANCHORS: TERRY MORAN
REPORTERS: JOHN COCHRAN (WASHINGTON, DC USA)
TERRY MORAN (ABC NEWS)
(Off-camera) And now to the war on terror. There is major news tonight about domestic spying, another secret program in the war on terror. We learned today that the federal government's engaged in an effort to look for nuclear materiel in this country that could be used to make crude, dirty bomb weapons. The magazine "US News & World Report" was the first to reveal that much of this program involved surveillance of Muslims in the United States, and it was done without authorization by a court. Here's ABC's John Cochran.
JOHN COCHRAN (ABC NEWS)
(Voiceover) Government officials confirm to ABC News that federal investigators, often hidden in vans, have monitored radiation levels at places Muslims are known to visit or live, in Washington and other cities, including New York, Detroit, Las Vegas, Seattle, and Charleston, South Carolina. Muslim leaders are outraged.
NIHAD AWAD (COUNCIL ON AMERICAN-ISLAMIC RELATIONS)
The Muslims seem to be the prime target for this program. And I think this is a -- a sad situation.
JOHN COCHRAN (ABC NEWS)
(Voiceover) Government sources say all the monitoring was based on tips, not on religious profiling. Publicly, the Justice Department will only say "The FBI does not target any particular individual or group based on the group's lawful activities, political or religious beliefs." The program was begun in the early nervous months after the 9/11 attacks, as the government worried terrorists might set off dirty bombs. So far, they have found nothing. Investigators working without search warrants sometimes hunted for nuclear material in outside places often regarded as private, such as parking lots and driveways. Government officials told ABC News that is legal. And some constitutional experts agree.
BRAD BERENSON (FORMER ASSOCIATE WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL)
Where the security of the nation is at stake and we're at war and searches are being conducted to prevent attacks or to gain intelligence or for counterespionage, warrants typically are not required.
JOHN COCHRAN (ABC NEWS)
(Voiceover) Other constitutional experts say the government, as with domestic spying, is on shaky legal ground.
ORIN KERR (FORMER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT PROSECUTOR)
If somebody knows they've been monitored, if the site's become clear as to who was monitored, certainly a lawsuit could be brought, then a court could decide the constitutional question.
JOHN COCHRAN (ABC NEWS)
(Off-camera) But so far, no Muslims know for sure whether they specifically were monitored. And the government is certainly not going to volunteer the information. John Cochran, ABC News, Washington.
TERRY MORAN (ABC NEWS)
(Voiceover) One other note about tactics in the war on terror, in Italy today, a judge has issued an arrest warrant for 22 people accused of being CIA operatives. They're wanted in connection with the kidnapping of a Muslim cleric in Milan two years ago who ended up in Egypt where he was allegedly tortured. Italian prosecutors say the abduction was a serious violation of Italy's national sovereignty.
NBC - December 23, 2005
Muslim sites in US screened for nuclear
materials without search warrant
ANCHORS: CAMPBELL BROWN
REPORTERS: ANDREA MITCHELL
CAMPBELL BROWN, anchor:
Here at home there is more to report tonight about the government and spying. There are new revelations that the Bush administration has been conducting a top-secret surveillance program without warrants at several locations in Muslim communities. More now from NBC's Andrea Mitchell.
ANDREA MITCHELL reporting:
The FBI confirms that after 9/11, the government secretly tested for nuclear devices at hundreds of mosques and other largely Muslim businesses and organizations in six cities: Washington, Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, New York and Seattle. As first reported today by US News, the top-secret monitoring was done without a court warrant. Was that legal? A leading appeals court judge says yes. But questions focusing largely on Muslim sites.
Judge RICHARD POSNER (US Circuit Court of Appeals): I would not confine surveillance to Muslim Americans. That would be a serious mistake because we have to worry about a whole range of--of terrorists.
MITCHELL: But today a former Senate leader has strong doubts about the screening.
Senator THOMAS DASCHLE (Democrat, Former Senate Leader): We were never briefed, and I wasn't aware of it. Obviously, this is another matter that deserves full investigation.
MITCHELL: Daschle is also challenging the president's claims about domestic eavesdropping. In a Washington Post column and interview with NBC News, he says he twice rejected the president's request to spy on Americans right after 9/11 including literally minutes before the Senate voted to authorize force on September 14th, 2001.
Sen. DASCHLE: We didn't want to give him that broad an authority. We limited it, and we limited it especially to activities overseas. They specifically asked for authority within the United States and we rejected it.
MITCHELL: The president cites that vote and his role as commander in chief to justify the spying.
President GEORGE W. BUSH: Do I have the legal authority to do this? And the answer is absolutely.
MITCHELL: Some legal experts say the president is right.
Judge POSNER: If there's a legitimate national security purpose, I think that's more--personally, I think that's more important than the infringement of privacy.
MITCHELL: But others strongly disagree.
Professor PETER RAVEN-HANSEN (George Washington University Law School): That really is an unprecedented claim of authority.
MITCHELL: And tonight Muslim-American groups are outraged that they were apparently singled out for radiation screening.
Mr. NIHAD AWAD (Council on American-Islamic Relations): We're moving from a nation which is ruled by laws into a nation that's ruled by fear.
MITCHELL: The administration insists that Congress was consulted, but Daschle and others now say they were either misled or given no opportunity to object. Andrea Mitchell, NBC News, Washington.
ADC Press Release – December 27. 2006
ADC Files FOIA With FBI, DOJ, and DOE
For Radiation Surveillance of Muslim Sites
Washington, DC, December 27, 2005, -Today, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request asking that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the US Department of Justice (DOJ), and the US Department of Energy (DOE) release information relating to the FBI and Department of Energy's Nuclear Emergency Support Team (NEST) nuclear surveillance program. Specifically, ADC requested that it be provided with the addresses of the mosques, homes, businesses, warehouses, and all other facilities, in the greater Washington, DC, area where the nuclear surveillance program has been conducted. ADC's intent with the request is to assure the Arab-American and Muslim communities, along with the rest of our nation, that national security enforcement measures are not resulting in a disproportionate impact on these communities and that these federal agencies act in a manner consistent with the repeated statements made by their spokespersons - namely, not to engage in racial, national origin, or religious profiling.
According to a December 22, 2005, U.S. News & World Report article, entitled "Nuclear Monitoring of Muslims Done Without Search Warrants," this nuclear surveillance program has monitored hundreds of Muslim "targets" in the greater Washington, DC, area. In essence, the program is alleged to have monitored radiation levels at specific locations in an effort to seek out potential nuclear threats, but without obtaining search warrants.
ADC hopes that the FBI, DOJ, and DOE review this request in a timely manner and make the correct decision to release the information and rest any concerns of alleged profiling.
CAIR bulletin Dec. 27, 2005
CAIR files FOIA request on radiation
monitoring of Muslim sites
WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 27, 2005 - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group, today announced the filing of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for all government records relating to a secret government program that monitored the radiation levels at more than 100 Muslim homes, businesses and mosques in the capital region and in other areas nationwide.
According to an exclusive online article by U.S. News & World Report:
"In search of a terrorist nuclear bomb, the federal government since 9/11 has run a far-reaching, top secret program to monitor radiation levels at over a hundred Muslim sites in the Washington, D.C., area, including mosques, homes, businesses, and warehouses, plus similar sites in at least five other cities, U.S. News has learned. In numerous cases, the monitoring required investigators to go on to the property under surveillance, although no search warrants or court orders were ever obtained, according to those with knowledge of the program. Some participants were threatened with loss of their jobs when they questioned the legality of the operation, according to these accounts. . . No dirty bombs or nuclear devices have ever been found - and that includes the post-9/11 program. 'There were a lot of false positives, and one or two were alarming,' says one source. 'But in the end we found nothing.'"
The Washington-based CAIR filed the FOIA request with the Department of Justice, including the FBI, and the Department of Energy.
In the request, CAIR asked for: 1) "Records concerning the authority of President Bush to delegate or personally authorize surveillance without obtaining a court order as required by FISA," and 2) "Comprehensive lists and addresses of the over a hundred Muslim sites (including mosques, organizations, businesses, warehouses and homes) in Washington D.C., Chicago, Detroit, New York, Las Vegas and Seattle which have been targeted for radiological surveillance by this top secret program."
We are concerned that, under this secretive program, our government has overstepped constitutional bounds by intruding on private property without any probable cause or valid court orders, said CAIR National Legal Director Arsalan Iftikhar. The targeting of so many Islamic homes, businesses and mosques will inevitably create the impression that American Muslims are considered suspect solely because of their faith.
On Friday, CAIR held a news conference at its Capitol Hill headquarters with national and local Muslim and interfaith leaders in reaction to the U.S. News & World Report exclusive.
Washington Post - December 29, 2005
U.S. Says It Didn't Target Muslims
Mosques Among Sites Monitored For Radiation
By Mary Beth Sheridan
Faced with angry complaints, U.S. officials defended an anti-terrorism program yesterday that secretly tested radiation levels around the country -- including at more than 100 Muslim sites in the Washington area -- and insisted that no one was targeted because of his or her faith.
One official knowledgeable about the program explained that Muslim sites were included because al Qaeda terrorists were considered likely to gravitate to Muslim neighborhoods or mosques while in the United States.
"If you were looking [for] the needle in a haystack, that's the haystack you would look at," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the program is classified. "You'd look at the [likely] targets and the places the operators were."
No indications of radiation were found at the businesses, homes, warehouses or mosques that were included in the program. The official said that radiation monitoring of the Muslim sites started after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and lasted through 2003.
The focus on the Muslim sites, which was first reported last week by U.S. News & World Report, has stunned and angered officials at mosques and Muslim and Arab-American organizations. Two such groups have filed Freedom of Information requests, known as FOIAs, in recent days to try to learn which sites were monitored. They also have requested meetings with the FBI, which ran the program along with the Energy Department.
"The problem [is] . . . it further gives the Muslim community a sense they are suspect, they are under the gun," said Ahmed Younis, national director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.
Michael A. Mason, who oversees the Washington Field Office of the FBI, said in an interview that he hoped to meet next week with the groups. "We have not violated the law; we have not violated the Constitution; we have not gone on private property," Mason said. He said that he could provide few details because the program remains classified but added that the monitoring devices involved were "passive," roughly akin to holding a thermometer out the window of a moving car to measure the temperature. "It's not like thermal-imaging a house, where you're trying to figure out if they're trying to grow marijuana," he said….
The testing began several months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when a series of events had convinced U.S. officials that another terrorist attack was imminent, the official said. Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen, was arrested in May 2002 on suspicion of planning an attack with a radiological dirty bomb; Osama bin Laden was threatening to strike again.
In addition, documents discovered in Afghanistan indicated that terrorists could possibly use a U.S. mosque to hide radioactive material, said Jack Cloonan, a former FBI counterterrorism agent. Cloonan, who earlier was interviewed by ABC News about the program, said it was not clear which mosques might have been considered.
The official familiar with the program acknowledged that "now it sounds like a crazy thing. But at the time it didn't sound like a very crazy thing. . . . All the intel was saying, 'An attack is coming, it's likely to be al Qaeda, likely to be launched in a U.S. city, likely to involve a dirty device'. . . . Where would you go looking for that?"……
Most of the testing was apparently done from nearby streets. But, according to U.S. News & World Report, in as much as 15 percent of the cases, officials had to go onto private property, such as mosque parking lots and private driveways, to get accurate readings.
Officials involved with the program said no warrants were needed because they were in public access areas. But some Muslim activists said they were concerned. "We'd like our federal law enforcement agencies to know the American Muslim community stands firmly behind protecting our nation's borders," said Arsalan Iftikhar, legal director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, one of the groups that are seeking the addresses of the sites involved. "But, at the same time, we are not willing to give up our guaranteed constitutional and legal rights in order to do that." He said his group constantly received phone calls from Muslims who believed they were under surveillance. But none had specifically mentioned possible radiation testing.
U.S. News & World Report said that some officials believed the program, which involved property occupied or owned by U.S. citizens, was legally questionable. It quoted one unidentified source as saying that participants who complained "nearly lost their jobs." …..