Homeland Insecurity: After Boston, The Struggle Between Liberty and Security

Do we need to sacrifice privacy to be safer?

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Homeland Insecurity
Photo-Illustration by Ji Lee for TIME. Statue of Liberty: Tetra Images / Getty Images, Cameras: iStockphoto, Background: Martin Lladó

The contest between liberty and security has been with America since its founding. It has been fought on the public stage by every President from George Washington to Barack Obama. Each generation, from those facing rebellion in the 1860s to those pushing back against government intrusions a century later, has debated where to strike a balance. But in the dark world of 21st century law enforcement, where terrorist threats can hide behind our most cherished freedoms, the battle sometimes takes place in government documents so obscure that they escape public notice.

Take the case of the FBI’s Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide. In October 2011, Obama’s Justice Department, mindful of increasing signs of homegrown terrorism, quietly granted FBI agents new powers that disturbed civil libertarians. Federal agents could now data-mine vast stores of information about individuals without making a reviewable record of their actions. They could conduct extensive physical surveillance of suspects without firm evidence of criminal or terrorist activity. They could interview people under false pretenses. They even had wider freedom to rummage through the trash of potential sources.

(MORE: A Dead Militant in Dagestan: Did This Slain Jihadi Meet Tamerlan Tsarnaev?)

But the new guidelines also featured added restrictions on an especially sensitive area of FBI counterterrorism work: mosques. Under the new rules, agents could no longer enter a religious organization without special new approval—in some cases directly from FBI headquarters. Moreover, according to still-classified sections of the new rules made available to Time, any plan to go undercover in a place of worship—a tactic employed by the bureau after Sept. 11, 2001, that drew protests from Muslim Americans and at least one lawsuit from a California mosque—would now need special approval from a newly established oversight body at Department of Justice headquarters called the Sensitive Operations Review Committee, or SORC.

(PHOTOS: Joy and Relief in Boston After Bombing Suspect’s Arrest)

On January 18, 15 months after those guidelines were issued and just a few days before Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, a young immigrant from the Russian region of Dagestan, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, stood up in his mosque in Cambridge, Mass., and confronted his imam when the religious leader extolled King’s greatness. Tamerlan yelled that the preacher was a “non­believer” and was “contaminating” his followers’ minds. The congregation shouted Tamerlan down and hounded him out the door. The FBI didn’t learn about the episode, or the fact that Tamerlan had been posting radical Islamic videos on his YouTube page, until after three people were dead on Boylston Street.

There’s no telling whether closer monitoring of Tamerlan’s mosque might have stopped him. But the Tsarnaev case raises, once again, hard questions about how we want to apply the Bill of Rights and the post–Civil War guarantees of equal protection in our time. Where is the limit to what Washington should do in the name of our security? Do Americans want under­cover agents spying on their prayers? What aspect of privacy might we give up in the interest of better security? Perhaps the FBI agents who were alerted to Tamerlan’s radical turn by Russian intelligence in 2011 should have monitored his Internet activity long enough to spot his terrorist sympathies. Should Americans let the government sniff through their communications? According to a new Time/CNN/ORC International poll, nearly twice as many Americans are concerned about a loss of civil liberties as are worried about a weakening of anti-­terror policies.

(MORE: Exclusive: Imam of Mosque Visited by Bombing Suspect Speaks to TIME)

It is still unclear whether Tamerlan Tsarnaev, whose body is being released to his relatives, and his younger brother Dzhokhar, now in custody, were self-radicalized and acted independently—or whether they acted at the behest of an ideological mentor or foreign organization. Congress and U.S. intelligence agencies are now studying whether warning signs were tragically missed. But it seems increasingly clear that the activities of the Tsarnaev brothers and many other would-be homegrown terrorists can be detected not through travel records and financial transactions but only through the more opaque realm of online activities and religious attitudes.

With al-Qaeda weakened abroad but self-taught, wi-fi-empowered jihadis increasingly a threat at home, balancing freedom and security is an old problem we’ll have to get used to once again.

The Road to Radicalization
In hindsight, Tamerlan Tsarnaev followed a gradual path toward radicalization that authorities have seen many times before. His identity was not religious when he moved to the U.S. from Dagestan, a province in southern Russia, in 2003. He became an avid boxer who dreamed of a professional career. He was also a bit of a libertine, a drinker and smoker who sported reflector sunglasses, tight jeans, even white fur—“dressed like a pimp, kind of Eurotrash,” as one neighbor told the Washington Post. He played violin and piano. While waiting to register for a boxing tournament, he once sat down at a piano in the room and played an impromptu 20-minute classical piece, according to a New York Times account, leading the gathered boxers to erupt into applause.

Long before the blasts on Boylston Street, however, people around Tamerlan could see him changing. He stopped smoking and drinking and started to complain about the U.S. government. He began to study the Koran. His boxing career hit a dead end. The next year his parents moved back to Russia. Although he had married an American woman (who converted to Islam), he was becoming isolated and said he had no American friends. Soon his flashy style of dress was gone and he sometimes wore a beard. He was also angry and increasingly confrontational, especially on matters of religion and society.

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56 comments
mrfaisel34
mrfaisel34

I am commenting here for my dear friend (Perelman_19104 on twitter).   He has  subscription to time magazine.  This May 13, 2013 issue arrived in November, about six months later.   We believe this issue was purposely held back because at the time, it would have shed light on what was going on at the time.   My friend has undergone a form of harassment known as police gang stalking for FOUR YEARS.   This sort of harassment follows one and goes on 24/7 365 days a year.   My friend was entered in the Homeland Security Fusion center database by his former employer, the University of Pennsylvania.   Why?  He believes it was because of his minority status.  I believe it was as a secret guinea pig for Homeland Security/FBI.   Gang stalking is a form a harassment reserved for whistle-blowers dissidents, minorities, women, targets of the elite institutions and coming soon: political adversaries.  This kind of harassment is hard to prove and is meant to isolate and destroy a person psychologically from within.   


The harassment started in Philadelphia and has followed my friend to New Jersey (2010) where it is administered by the office of Sgt W. Greg Kierce, OEM/HLS Director.  Sgt. Kierce is a coordinator of all the emergency systems in the Greater New York region which includes, ambulance, police, sheriff, bomb squad, swat team, fire depart, all services a population would need in a catastrophe such as 911.   To make a long story short, whenever my friend leaves for work in the morning or returns from work he is either followed OVERTLY by a sirened flashing-light Police car, sheriff car, ambulance, fire truck.   There are many more details to this, but this is not the place.   When my friend attempted to call the FBI to complain about the police, before the discovery of Sgt Kierce as the culprit, the FBI  would act as if they were already aware of what the situation and quickly get him transferred off the phone.  My point in telling this story is that all the activities of HLS/FBI surveillance is also for harassment of American citizens.  This is a canary-in-the-coal mine warning.   It seems they are practicing for many others to be entered into this fusion center database. Be warned America. My fiend is lucky; I figured it out.  Most people never know who is behind it or how it was started.  And in other situations, regular people, instead of the police, are used as the harassers.  If you want to know more about organized gang stalking, go to YouTube and look up "Organized Gang Stalking WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW."

WillM
WillM

When are people going to realize that surveillance stops absolutely nothing? If someone wants to rob, rape or kill you, they will regardless of how much surveillance there is. Sure, it may help catch the perpetrator, but it does absolutely nothing to stop a crime in progress. It's almost laughable to me every time I hear someone say, "But, but, it's for our 'protection'." People want to cite "terrorism" as justification for mass surveillance.. Really? Let me ask you all something. People talk about "safety," et cetera, etcetera. When are you EVER really "safe?" Are you "safe" getting out of bed in the morning? Are you "safe" in your restroom? How about the kitchen? Are you "safe" in your vehicle? Are you "safe" at work? Are you "safe" at the grocery store? When, exactly, are you "safe?"

concernedreader
concernedreader

I am a patriotic citizen, but I want to ask:  Remember that Pepsi Commercial, the one with the song "I Fought the Law (and the Law Won)"?  I just You Tube'd it, and it was a Super Bowl Commercial in 2004.  The commercial had kids, kids in it who were PROSECUTED simply for downloading songs!  They went after those kids like stink on doo-doo!  Now, why couldn't the Tsarnayev brothers have been caught sooner?  Or, for that matter, other criminals still "in progress" out there?!

Crescent_Guardian
Crescent_Guardian

Toeing the line between security and liberty can be very difficult for everyone involved. Security is a challenging, tireless job that requires eternal vigilance. Security professionals across the world face an unending wave of criminals and terrorists looking to exploit any and every loophole or gap in protection. Some bad guys take a high-tech approach while others go basic; meaning the number of potential threats is infinite and methods of attack always changing. Here are more of our thoughts on this article and the topic - http://www.cgiprotects.com/_blog/Security-Tips-Blog/post/on-the-safe-side-toeing-the-line-between-security-liberty


Poppy24
Poppy24

This is a long article that says very little about the manner in which the entire U.S. population has now been criminalized - and for example are now processed like felons into jail simply to take a plane flight - or attend a ballgame. Enough.


robertholt72
robertholt72

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Benjamin Franklin

HermesEmphasis
HermesEmphasis

@HazeAndDrizzle. And a repeat of 911 does not scare you? Or how about a mini nuclear bomb that could be carried in a backpack and placed in Time Square. That would still be okay with you just because many more are dying of road accidents and cancer which are already common place?

MichaelBachety
MichaelBachety

Since when did everything in media become a question? Looks like the answer is yes. That is how authorities caught the Boston bomber...and people who don't currently have anything to hide don't care and those that do, obviously care. So what is more important in a post 9/11 world? Hey, I have a question. Should  I write your headlines or your stories?

rkuntz
rkuntz

Thomas Jefferson, when he observed that “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” had in mind an entirely different sort of vigilance than do Bloomberg and Kelly and their ilk. Jefferson understood, as we should, that men like these are not meant to be the practitioners of that vigilance, but its objects.

More here: http://suburbansheepdog.blogspot.com/2013/05/obstructing-justice.html


LaughnJar
LaughnJar

Altman, Miller, Rogers, and Scherer need to bone up on their knowledge of the law.  The 4th Amendment specifcally states, "The right of the people to be secure in their prsons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrant shall issue, but on probable cause, supported by Oath or Affirmation, AND PARTICULARLY describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."  I would say that is a pretty direct protection from the kinds of sruveillance the government has engaged in over tha past 100 years!!!

stephengreen736
stephengreen736

What a country, We allow them to immigrate, welcome them as a matter of fact. Give them welfare and even put them through school, but still they want to kill us? The one who is in jail was going to college, who do you think paid for that.?

evil.aaronm
evil.aaronm

In only one place in the Constitution do the Founding Fathers worry about "safety":  Article 1, Section 9: The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

In contrast, the Constitution goes to great lengths to limit the government's encroachment on civil liberties.  So, to answer the question, no, we do NOT need to sacrifice privacy - or any other liberty - for safety.  Ben Franklin already touched on this, hundreds of years ago.

Besides, the notion, itself, is ridiculous: the only way we'll achieve "total" safety for each of us is to lock up everyone in solitary confinement cells.  If we're not talking about total safety - if we're looking at a ratio somewhere between total anarchy and total lockdown - how do we define that "happy medium"?  Like Mr. Franklin, I'm very reluctant to trade any liberties for security: I can handle my own very well, thank you.  However, those timid bed-wetters and craven politicians may prefer far more restrictions, which is anathema to the creed of this country.

BJ1017
BJ1017

There's nothing more dangerous than taking away the population's civil liberties.





stowevt024
stowevt024

"...But the new guidelines also featured added restrictions on an especially sensitive area of FBI counterterrorism work: mosques. Under the new rules, agents could no longer enter a religious organization without special new approval—in some cases directly from FBI headquarters..."  And we wonder why our law enforcement agencies have such a difficult time connecting some of the dots.  Mosques, around the world, are nothing but a hotbed of radical islam.  Question: Where are the moderate muslims speaking out in rage when something like 9/11 or The Boston Marathon bombings happen?  Answer: There are none.

CerebralSmartie
CerebralSmartie

We need to have many more bomb sniffing dogs , thousands more, and we ought to have them there for any large event.

CerebralSmartie
CerebralSmartie

"The Obama White House continues to believe that cooperating with Muslim communities is crucial to detecting radicals. “You are actually better able to protect our security if you can enlist mosques and Muslim communities as our partners,” says Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser to Obama. “There is no substitute for having people in these communities who will come forward.” 

This seems like a wise approach.  Assume that all Muslims despise and abhor evil behavior and rely on them to identify people who have behaviors that run counter to the true Muslim beliefs.



HazeAndDrizzle
HazeAndDrizzle

All this wasted energy on a tiny threat. Meanwhile the gun killers have been going on doing murder-suicides taking out more people in each massacre than died in Boston. Why do we waste time on what emphatically is not the major threat and paralyze ourselves by actually encouraging the conditions which are the real risk? Blinding law enforcement to the arms trade in this country is total insanity. I have no patience left for this phony "terrorist" debate. It is simply yet another Right Wing distraction from reality while they peddle their treasonous advocation of armed force against the government and a pathetic addiction to the permissive gun culture of unlimited self indulgence. Time to just say NO!

PaulDirks
PaulDirks

The impulse that you have to FIX whatever went wrong last time can only take you so far before no activity whatsoever escapes scrutiny. At some point we have to let courage take over and continue to live in freedom.


SusanJoyce
SusanJoyce

I find it fascinating that we are not more concerned about the incredible amount of VERY personal information being collected online as we use the Internet and by apps on our smart phones - information that is sold and shared.  Perhaps the government would save money and gather more information by simply tapping into that source.

pandora5
pandora5

@WillM you definitely have a narrow world view. We are extremely safe compared to other countries were the law knows who the criminals are but do nothing to criminalize them. We do have a just government that does protect its people. Do you even know what is happening in other countries where the criminals are the government and there is no safety what so ever! In Mexico city there is no safety because the criminals are the government so they do whatever they want to the people especially kidnapping rich people, kill children for their organs in Mexico. I know this personally because I know people's family members who this has happen to in Mexico city. We live in the safest country in the world, where there is justice!! Go to Mexico city and check it out yourself and then ask yourself if we are safe in America???

Read more: http://swampland.time.com/2013/05/01/homeland-insecurity-after-boston-the-struggle-between-liberty-and-security/#ixzz2alyDra1n

rkuntz
rkuntz

@MichaelBachety You are kidding, yes? Are you REALLY saying: "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear"? Is that how cheaply you hold the liberty that God gave you, that the Founders inscribed for you and that men and women throughout history have died to preserve for you?

http://suburbansheepdog.blogspot.com/

fitty_three
fitty_three

@LaughnJar

Are you a statist?  Are you a free enterprise worshipper?

Those cameras?

They ain't the Feds'...

CerebralSmartie
CerebralSmartie

@stephengreen736  Restricting immigration could be part of the solution.  It might help alot. But then,  is it just to choke off opportunity for all immigrants, many of whom are accomplished and deserving? And to profile all  people of certain ethnicity as evil?  Is that justice?

Geesh, maybe what we need to do is figure out how to help the "malcontents" more,  and to recognize that that "malcontents" can morph into terrorists unless we do something... How to get them jobs? How to make them feel valued, so they do not fall prey to some radical terrorist who converts them to hatred. What can we do to prevent  radicalism?Why does it develop in the first place? What is the root of it? Here we HAD two kids striving for success... almost everyone admits this... and then poof, all of the sudden they became radicals? No this didn't happen overnight. Something triggered this. What the h#ll attracted them to radicalism? Ask a ton of questions. Brainstorm. No question is stupid. Work towards prevention. Think think think.

 Was it because they came to America and their dreams didn't materialize? Their parents left- one was a shoplifter. They were vulnerable. Were they hungry and poverty stricken and they needed jobs?  Was it that they hated being dependent on our government? Was it because they were excluded socially? Was it because of the marijuana that the younger brother smoked that clouded his thinking and allowed him to be vulnerable to his brother's thinking? His brother took alot of blows to his head- his thoughts were very flawed. The father was a boxing coach- was their domestic violence int the household? Why would they listen to the garbage of the radical terrorists? 

 Let's do a better job of tracking. Examine the situations where people visit hate groups on the web.  When people visit certain areas of the world and then return - and are dependent on welfare, put up red flags! When the older brother visited his homeland - a place that is a hotbed of radicalism, for a few months, this should be some sort of trigger. He was a subject of study by the FBI-let's make sure that red flags go up and that individuals like him stay under surveillance. When a candidate for the Olympics fails at his only life goal  and his brother, a stoner in college, also  starts to fail in college...and no parents are anywhere in sight. 

We must do a better job in investing in our Intelligence gathering, specifically, the USA needs to invest in better Information Technology. The US must do a much better job in recruiting people to work for our government in an intelligence gathering capacity -who speak the languages that are found in countries where radical terrorists live. 

Think... They were multilingual. We need people who are multilingual to help defend ourselves from terror. Why don't we have a career path for people with multilingual  skills?Let's be real. Immigrants are really here and we can't just eject them, can we? What if we got them on OUR team?  This problem requires deep thought. The sound bytes provided by the ilk of Glenn Beck and Fox News are much too shallow. They won't solve a thing.  No idea is stupid and it isn't as "pat and dry" as restricting immigration.

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

@BJ1017 Oh, please, get over yourself. I'll see your Wolverines and raise you a couple hundred Apache attack helicopters and a thousand Abrams tanks. The US government isn't afraid of it's citizens for good reason. It will do (is doing) pretty much whatever it decides to do, much of it ion complete secrecy. Stop voting right-wing authoritarians into power and you might have a fighting chance.

gysgt213
gysgt213

 stowevt024 "Question: Where are the moderate muslims speaking out in rage when something like 9/11 or The Boston Marathon bombings happen?  Answer: There are none."

They are speaking out.  Maybe you should try listening.  But, I get the feeling it really doesn't matter what they say if you won't take the effort to even use google.


Read more: http://swampland.time.com/2013/05/01/homeland-insecurity-after-boston-the-struggle-between-liberty-and-security/#ixzz2SEK3at4XMuslim community reacts to Boston bombers' Islamic ties
http://www.kptv.com/story/22028700/muslim-community-reacts-to-boston-bombers-and-islamic-ties

Local Islamic leaders react to Boston bombings
http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/apr/19/islamic-boston-bombings-hopida-mohebi/


CerebralSmartie
CerebralSmartie

@stowevt024 Do you know anyone who is Muslim? A Muslim person saved the life of a family member. 

Let's all hate hate.

AshleyLawton
AshleyLawton

@stowevt024 The bombers were on multiple watch lists and the Russian government (I believe) had warned the US government.  They are a case study in system failure, not representative of all Muslim people. I'm also an atheist and I share your aversion to religion, but it wasn't Muslims who did this. It was violent, insane extremists. Religion may have been their motivation, but it wasn't the cause any more than Batman caused James Holmes to go shoot up a movie theater. Christian texts are no more violent than Islamic ones. The difference is that the majority of countries that practice Christianity are wealthier, more stable, and more educated. Religion isn't the problem. Ignorance (very much like your comment) is the problem.

Thanks for making all Atheists look like jerks.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@CerebralSmartie  

This is actually a very good idea.

There could be patrols by citizens who are trained, and can report when their dogs respond to a scent.  This make a lot of sense.

WaldenOwl
WaldenOwl

@CerebralSmartie  I agree that creting partnerships with communities in which radical extremism has been found is a positive course of action.

"Assume that all muslims despise and abhor evil behavior....." Well, I say we should assume that about as much as we assume that all Americans despise and abhor evil behavior. Or people of any nationality or ethnic background for that matter. The idea is to reach out in the hope that  good people will step forward when they see something strange within their community. 

CerebralSmartie
CerebralSmartie

But clearly it was not enough. Call on US government to invest more in Information Technology and better data mining techniques.

WillM
WillM

@HazeAndDrizzle  So, I guess while the government is giving the NSA the authority to wiretap a whole nation, you still choose to believe the government is the "good" guy? That's the impression I get from your post.

evil.aaronm
evil.aaronm

@HazeAndDrizzle Terrorism is "sexy."  On any given day, I'd wager many more people die in road accidents or due to health complications - heart disease; cancer - than in the Boston attack, or even the Murrah Building attack.  Why aren't people up in arms about those much more dangerous threats?

MrBenGhazi
MrBenGhazi

@SusanJoyce You sign off on giving all of that "personal" information to the company that is hosting that information. Read your user agreements with your Facebook account, for example. That information isn't yours anymore.

HazeAndDrizzle
HazeAndDrizzle

@SusanJoyce Oh rest assure it does. The NSA and the rest of that alphabet soup run super data centers for good reason.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@SusanJoyce

Nice observation, but you forgot to take the next step in that reasonong.

Washington State just passed a law banning employers from demanding your social media passwords.

Did you notice that the gubmint is on the right side of things?

MichaelBachety
MichaelBachety

@rkuntz @MichaelBachety Lighten up Francis. God gave me life, nothing more...and we haven't had a just war since WWII. And we have crapped all over 'liberty' in so many ways I can''t bother to type it...Ie Patriot Act, Renditions, Guantanamo, blah blah blah. Go wrap yourself in a flag and satisfy yourself while watching Fox news.


UMMLocal12
UMMLocal12

And then we could make sure they are well armed.

stowevt024
stowevt024

I believe it is spelled "government"

MichaelBachety
MichaelBachety

@rkuntz @MichaelBachety Did I say all that? What's funny is that I'm not a democrat. So this team rooting thing must be directed at someone else. Glad we agree on some things and since we both love our founding fathers; one of them, I think TJ said, "if men were angels there would be no need for government." So, what exactly would the fear be if we had cameras on every city corner, when we already have them on almost every corner and store already? Does the camera make your butt big?

fitty_three
fitty_three

@rkuntz

I can see you're neutrally on the side of the teabagger idiocy as well.

Ringer.

rkuntz
rkuntz

@MichaelBachety @rkuntz The fact is, I mostly agree with you about the unjust wars and completely agree with you about the Patriot Act, Gitmo and renditions. Fox News, on the other hand, never airs in my home. Sold-out blathering neo-cons are of no more interest to me than sold-out blathering pseudo-progressives. But my comments made you uncomfortable  so you had to process them as "Republican" or "Tea Party" -- or whatever you call "the other side" -- so you could deal with them. 

See, the thing is, they've got you so bought into rooting for your team in the Democrat/Republican gladiator games that you don't know who's really on your side. You've lost sight of your real interests, so dazzled and distracted are you by the bread and circuses. 

But hey, keep cheering on your team and calling the other guys names. Keep downing that Soma. That seems to be working out pretty well.


http://suburbansheepdog.blogspot.com/


MrBenGhazi
MrBenGhazi

@fitty_three @AshleyLawton Please continue labeling those with outrageous views to the political party you hate, especially when you don't have any evidence. It really furthers the conversation.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@CerebralSmartie

I omitted to mention to UMM that the police and emts and FBI are trained to handle the followup - not teabagger gun zealots.

fitty_three
fitty_three

The people that should be allowed to carry guns in public gatherings are NOT idiot teabagger zealots!