Advocates question whether program is a front for domestic intelligence gathering
(MINNEAPOLIS, MN, 1/23/15) -- The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) today joined with other civil rights organizations in expressing concerns that the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) pilot program, soon be launched in Minneapolis, raises serious civil liberties issues.
CAIR-MN, along with groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, say the CVE program may further stigmatize and marginalize the Muslim community by treating all of its members as suspects and by holding an entire community responsible for the actions of others.
"We welcome any tangible effort to educate and empower youth to make the right decisions and promote safety, but it needs to be a community-based, grassroots effort free of intelligence gathering disguised as community outreach," said CAIR-MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein.
Hussein said constitutional rights are the cornerstone of our society and must not be suspended for any Americans. He said CAIR-MN unequivocally condemns terrorism and terrorist organizations: "Any action that harms innocent civilians is reprehensible and deserves condemnation. CAIR-MN condemns terrorism whenever it happens, wherever it happens and whoever commits it."
U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota Andrew Luger is leading the effort to implement the controversial CVE program in Minneapolis. He has not addressed civil liberties concerns about CVE or resolved current law enforcement abuses under his supervision, including FBI informants in mosques, surveillance of the Muslim community, FBI harassment in homes and workplaces, and profiling of Muslims at the airport.
A new article by Glenn Greenwald's The Intercept considers whether CVE is really a front for domestic intelligence gathering. It states: "[Civil liberties advocates] believe that blurring the line between engagement and intelligence gathering could end up with the monitoring of innocent individuals. If past programs in this area are any guide, those concerns are well founded."
The article also states: "Documents obtained by attorneys at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, and shared with the 'Intercept,' show that previous community outreach efforts in Minnesota--launched in 2009 in response to the threat of young Americans joining the al-Qaeda-linked militia al-Shabab, in Somalia--were, in fact, conceived to gather intelligence."
SEE ALSO: White House Announces CVE Program: Is it Pretext for Spying on Muslims?
Terrorist or ... Teenager? Justice Department's CVE Program Ripe for Abuse
L.A. Groups Criticize White House Program on Homegrown Extremism
Civil rights advocates cite concerns with the FBI's active involvement in the Minneapolis CVE. The FBI has previously used outreach as a way to gain access and intelligence in the Muslim community.
SEE: CAIR-MN Asks FBI to Stop Recruitment of Informants in Mosques
FOIA Documents Show FBI Illegally Collecting Intelligence Under Guise of "Community Outreach"
FBI FOIA Docs Show Use of "Mosque Outreach" for Illegal Intel Gathering
Is the FBI's Community Outreach Program a Trojan Horse?
The ACLU also raised civil rights concerns about the new CVE pilot program. In a coalition letter signed by 27 national civil rights groups, the ACLU discussed the following concerns:
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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