Historically, there has been two-party consensus on the issue of registering Muslims. God forbid, another ISIS-related attack and the establishment dems will revert back to Obama-era levels of Muslim suspicion.
From Azmat Khan:
It took the rise of Donald Trump for many Americans to first learn about NSEERS (a post-9/11 registration program for non-immigrant males from mostly Muslim-majority countries.) But for years, many of us have been writing about this program and many others like it that disproportionately target Muslims.
Trump’s rhetoric may surprise you, but it is not new. It began even before 9/11 and continues today, often transcending political party. I’m going to share just eight examples that I hope will leave you with a strong grasp of history.
1. “Secret Evidence” Law
Passed in 1996, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act created a new court specifically for government cases to deport aliens accused of terrorism based on classified evidence that would remain secret, even to the accused and their lawyers. (It also did many other things.) It was expanded the same year through the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act so that “secret evidence” could be used to deport even lawful residents in immigration proceedings.
Almost every single secret evidence case known to the public involved Muslims or Arabs. (http://bit.ly/2eO55vO) The Clinton-era law quickly became notorious among these communities. People were deported, with no understanding of the testimony against them, or who had offered it. ”It seemed like I was trying to defend my client blindfolded and handcuffed,” a Dallas lawyer in a secret evidence case told the New York Times. (http://nyti.ms/2f7Yurl)
When George W. Bush ran for president in 2000, he vowed not to use secret evidence in immigration cases. That year, 78% of American Muslims voted Republican in the presidential election. (Of course, 2004 was a different story.)
2. The Bridgeview Op
Also in the 90’s, a small community outside of Chicago was the focus of one of the FBI’s biggest counterterrorism surveillance operations before 9/11. The failed op—dubbed “Vulgar Betrayal”—was secret at the time, but Bridgeview’s Muslim and Arab communities had their suspicions, especially about the building across the street from the mosque. No one has gone inside the community it targeted, or explored the havoc it wrought there, until Bridgeview native Assia Boundaoui began working on a film. Here’s a sneak peek: http://bit.ly/2g4oDMg
3. The National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, or NSEERS
At this point, you’ve heard about Special Registration, a post-9/11 counterterrorism program registering more than 90,000 male individuals from 24 Muslim-majority countries (and North Korea). At the time, the government claimed it had caught terrorists through the system. The reality is that not a single registered person has ever been convicted of terrorism. Instead, more than 13,000 were involved in deportation proceedings. Because many involved didn’t give proper notice to targets and often violated right to counsel, according to the ACLU, “thousands of men and boys from Arab- and Muslim-majority countries for civil immigration violations that were frequently based simply on a failure to understand NSEERS’ arcane rules.”
4. The Interviews
In the wake of 9/11, an unknown number of Muslims across America received letters from the Department of Justice like this one, which is on display at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan: http://bit.ly/2foCF7z “During this interview, you will be asked questions that could reasonably assist in the efforts to learn about those who support, commit, or associate with those who commit terrorism.”
5. Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative (NSI), Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs), & Fusion Centers
In 2007, an elderly Pakistani-American man who worked at a kiosk at the Mall of America forgot his phone at the food court. When he went to retrieve it, it was cordoned off, and he was interrogated by the mall’s counterterrorism unit, also known as a “fusion center.” The unit filed a “Suspicious Activity Report” — which you can read here http://bit.ly/2g2Se53 — that details an interrogation of Qureshi and where he is from. But because that report was then shared with the police and the FBI, a few weeks later, the FBI show up at the door of his son, asking if he knew anyone in Afghanistan. (http://to.pbs.org/2fDph2s) SARs are a nationwide post-9/11 initiative for local authorities, the state government and the federal government to collect and share information in order to help detect and prevent terrorism-related activity.
But what’s considered”suspicious activity”? I dug through the definitions years ago. Some were truly baffling: For example, the LAPD considered dining & dashing suspicious activity, as well as people “who carry on long conversations on pay or cellular telephones.” Maryland’s fusion center said “overly cautious” drivers. Kentucky specified “people avoiding eye contact,” “people in places they don’t belong,” or being “over dressed for the weather.” (http://to.pbs.org/2eOeAuH)
But when GW Schulz at the Center for Investigative Reporting looked at who wound up in the SARs obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, almost two-thirds deemed “suspicious” were minorities. Also, more than half of the mall suspicious activity reports were shared w/law enforcement agencies, like the FBI. It’s worth watching this by CIR: vimeo.com/28556335
In 2010, the federal government moved forward with an expansion of a new nationwide suspicious activity database: http://bit.ly/2g5YRVE And as for the more than 70 local fusion centers, where many of those SARs originate, here’s what a bipartisan Senate Committee’s two-year investigation into their effectiveness concluded: Fusion Centers have “not produced useful intelligence to support federal counterterrorism efforts” and have “too often wasted money and stepped on Americans’ civil liberties” (http://to.pbs.org/2fMWeau)
6. Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program, or CARRP
Formerly secret, this federal program in place since at least 2008 delays or denies citizenship or immigration benefits, based on what rights groups have only been able to identify as religion, national origin, and similar factors. Many of those affected by it are eligible to become residents, but whose applications have sat for sometimes more than 10 years. Many of them are Muslim or originate from Muslim-majority countries. But it goes even further for some Muslims with immigration delays that seem unexplainable, until an FBI agent knocks on the door, offering immigration help in exchange for becoming an informant. It’s worth reading Talal Ansari and Siraj Datoo’s investigation: http://bzfd.it/2gr6Pw8
7. The No-Fly List
You’ve heard of this list of nearly half a million names, but do you know how broad and ill-defined the criteria for getting on the list is? Or how it’s riddled with errors, and yet so difficult to get a name off the list? That it’s almost entirely “populated by Muslims or individuals assumed to be Muslim”? Or that some of those who are unfairly on the list have been approached by the FBI and told that if they become informants, they can be taken off the list? Here’s Diala Shamas to explain: http://cnn.it/2foICBp
8. Law Enforcement “Muslim Outreach”
For a long time now, government officials have touted the important of Muslims in the U.S. working with law enforcement. In fact, Hillary Clinton brought it up during the Oct. 9 debate. But here’s a look at how some of those efforts have gone over the last 15 years:
The Associated Press’ Pulitzer-winning investigation into the NYPD’s surveillance of Muslims shed incredible light on how the department had spied on the city’s Muslim partners. For example, Brooklyn-based Imam Sheik Reda Shata, who had partnered with the FBI and done local outreach with his community, was actually under secret surveillance by the NYPD. When he found out, here’s what he told the AP: “This is very sad. What is your feeling if you see this about people you trusted? … It’s a bitter feeling.” (http://to.pbs.org/2grfVZw)
Beyond distrust among the communities, what were the results? According to the AP, “In more than six years of spying on Muslim neighborhoods, eavesdropping on conversations and cataloguing mosques, the New York Police Department’s secret Demographics Unit never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation.”
I don’t have the time to point out every one of the AP’s explosive findings. Just take a look for yourself — it’s stunning: http://bit.ly/2fc75MU
But it’s not just the NYPD. Let’s move on to the FBI, and how for more than four years, it used “community outreach” meetings at mosques in Northern California as a guise to collect intelligence on congregants, according to documents obtained by the ACLU. There’s no evidence the FBI informed the Muslims they interviewed that the information was for intelligence, or would be recorded/disseminated: http://to.pbs.org/2f8bJZ7
Or how about the time an undercover informant for the FBI said he was trained to entrap Muslims he surveilled. But here’s the kicker: Those Muslims were so alarmed by the informant’s talk of violence they actually reported him to the FBI. It’s so worth listening to Sam Black‘s This American Life episode that takes you through the entire story: http://bit.ly/2g5YmuI
Even the Air Force can fall prey, publishing a paper stating that Muslim women wearing headscarves represent “passive terrorism” and that “sexual deprivation” drives support for militant groups. As exposed by Murtaza Hussain: http://bit.ly/2fDxHXF
When it comes to Muslim outreach, these and other bungled efforts have left many Muslims pretty wary of “law enforcement Muslim outreach.” Here’s just one example of something I hear so often among Muslim communities: http://bit.ly/1hg4gqC
All of this is to say that a Muslim database should not be so surprising given the history. Journalists have been covering it for years; Muslims have been experiencing it for years; the government has been implementing it for years. And it shouldn’t take Trump’s rhetoric to to know this history.