ACLU reveals US surveillance society

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released Tuesday 29 June a report chronicling government spying and the detention of groups and individuals “for doing little more than peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights.”

The report, Policing Free Speech: Police Surveillance and Obstruction of First Amendment-Protected Activity, surveys news accounts and studies of questionable snooping and arrests in 33 states and the District of Columbia over the past decade.

The survey provides an outline of, and links to, dozens of examples of Cold War-era snooping in the modern age.

“Our review of these practices has found that Americans have been put under surveillance or harassed by the police just for deciding to organize, march, protest, espouse unusual viewpoints and engage in normal, innocuous behaviors such as writing notes or taking photographs in public,” Michael German, an ACLU attorney and former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, said in a statement.

Here are a few examples related to surveillance and terror threats:

A Joint Terrorism Task Force in Illinois went on a three-day manhunt in Chicago searching for a Muslim man for his suspicious activity of using a hand counter on a bus. As it turned out, the man was counting his daily prayers.

A Kentucky minister was detained at Canadian border trying to enter the United States because he had purchased copies of the Koran on the internet following the 2001 terror attacks.

A New York, Muslim-American student journalist was detained for taking pictures of Old Glory outside a Veterans Affairs building as part of a class project. The authorities deleted the pictures before releasing her an hour later.

(h/t Wired)

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