FROM Salam Al-Marayati
Countering Extremism: Social Media and Surveillance in California Mass shootings in Paris, Colorado Springs and San Bernardino have generated more pressure than ever on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. They're being asked to monitor messages worldwide, alert federal officials and take threats and hate-speech off line — without becoming agents of government or ideological censors. At the local level, the LAPD and county sheriffs rely on community partnerships to find out when ideas might turn into violent action — at the risk of religious profiling that's illegal and counter-productive. We look at challenges that can't be avoided.
Fighting Jihadist Recruitment in L.A. While the U.S. military campaign expands in the Middle East, there’s concern at home about extremists recruiting and radicalizing U.S. residents. Los Angeles is one of three cities where the administration is starting a program to deter citizens from going to fight with the Islamic State, and from launching terror attacks at home.
Boston Marathon Bombings and Muslim Americans Three weeks after the Boston Marathon bombings, some members of Congress are calling for more surveillance of American Muslims. Some Muslims are calling for self-policing of their community and more cooperation with law enforcement. Others warn against accepting collective punishment for bloody violence as abhorrent to Muslims as to other Americans of different faiths. At today's Congressional hearing on the bombings , Republican committee chair Michael McCaul of Texas said the nation had been attacked by "radical Islamist terrorists." New York Republican Peter King echoed that sentiment. We hear a debate about how to increase security without either religious discrimination or an excess of political correctness.
Church and State in 21st Century America America's founders wrote a Constitution to intentionally exclude God, and their first amendment forbids the government to establish any religion. Thomas Jefferson even called for a "wall of separation between church and state." But, during the Red Scare of the 1950's, "In God We Trust" not only appeared on American money, but replaced E Pluribus Unum —"Out of Many, One" — as the national motto. Even though there was no substantive challenge in sight, Congress reaffirmed that last year—by a vote of 396 to 9. Americans have the right to practice any religion they want to, but are these official references threatening the commitment to a secular government? Do they imply that this is a Christian nation or recognize that one God is as good as another in a country of many different faiths?
Policing Domestic Muslim Radicalism Since September 11 — most recently in Baltimore, Portland and Washington, DC -- suspects have been arrested before the terrorist acts they were planning ever occurred. Young Muslim Americans have been tricked into thinking that undercover FBI informants were their accomplices. Some critics claim that, in those and other cases, agents engaged in entrapment.
Are Muslim-Americans Living Dangerously? While Muslim-American groups give the Obama Administration high marks for combating bigotry, they are divided over "sting" operations by the FBI. Since September 11 — most recently in Baltimore, Portland and Washington, DC -- suspects have been arrested before the terrorist acts they were planning ever occurred. Young bombing suspects have been arrested before they could do any harm, but after FBI agents acted as false accomplices. Anti-terrorist agents routinely appear uninvited at mosques, workplaces and homes. Are the Feds just "getting to know the community" or spying? Do agents inadvertently help to radicalize young men? Are they stepping on American rights to privacy, freedom of speech and religion?
Showdown over a Planned Mosque in Temecula Valley Sarah Palin has made headlines — and punch lines — by asking New Yorkers to “ refudiate ” the building of a mosque a few blocks from Ground Zero. Now, there’s some controversy over a proposed mosque in Temecula, a town in rural Riverside County. In the Los Angeles Times, Phil Willon reports that the Islamic Center of the Temecula Valley has been a presence in the city for more than ten years and wants to move to better quarters.
Could the Fort Hood Shootings Have Been Prevented? President Obama attended services at Fort Hood today for the 13 victims of last week's shootings. The alleged killer, Major Nidal Hasan, is recovering from his own wounds and has yet to be charged. In the meantime, it's reported that the FBI and Army intelligence investigated contacts between Hasan and a militant Islamist cleric who is calling Hasan "a hero."
Could the Fort Hood Shootings Have Been Prevented? President Obama attended services at Fort Hood today for the 13 victims of last week's shootings. Major Nidal Hasan is recovering from his own wounds and has yet to be charged. In the meantime, it's reported that the FBI and Army intelligence investigated contacts between the alleged shooter and a militant Islamist cleric who is calling him "a hero." Why did the FBI and the Army decide not to pursue his contacts the cleric? Did they know that Hasan warned fellow officers that Muslim soldiers could be dangerous because of conflicts about fighting in Muslim countries? Is al Qaeda telling Muslim soldiers to commit violence? Do they face discrimination, especially where Christian fundamentalism is widespread?
LAPD On Defensive Over "Muslim Mapping" Project Michael Downing is Deputy Chief in charge of the LAPD’s Counter Terrorism Bureau . In Washington last month, he told a congressional committee, there is “a vicious, amorphous and unfamiliar adversary on our land.” He said the LAPD hopes to identify communities that “may be susceptible to violent, ideologically-based extremism.” Since then, news reports have talked about “Muslim mapping,” which has been denounced by the ACLU and others as “racial profiling.”
Replacing Obamacare: Now you see it… now you don’t As the Senate deliberates replacing Obmacare, health coverage for millions of people is at stake. There've been no public hearings, and a draft measure won't be made public. Is the House version so unpopular that that Senate is hiding a version that looks much the same?
The Trump agenda: where's the beef? President Trump says big things are happening. After celebrating a House bill on health care, he doesn’t yet have Senate agreement. With James Comey’s public testimony scheduled tomorrow, the President today tweeted his selection of a new FBI Director. Is the Chief Executive all style and no substance? Later, terror attacks in Iran and conflicting claims about who’s behind them.
Is the threat from Russia missing from the Russia meddling probe? There's much being made about the Trump administration's possible ties with Russia. But the bottom line is Russia's effort to influence American democracy. Do the President and his aides care enough to take action before voters go back to the polls?