Jun 6 2013

Cameron D’Ambrosio free after grand jury refuses to indict

Dr. Q

I have some great news. A grand jury has refused to indict Cameron D’Ambrosio, the teenager who was accused by prosecutors of making “terroristic threats” because of some rap lyrics he posted online.

Rolling Stone magazine has the story here:

A grand jury has declined to indict an aspiring Massachusetts rapper whom police had accused of making “terroristic threats,” according to the Essex County District Attorney’s office. Cameron D’Ambrosio, 18, was arrested in Methuen, Massachussetts on May 2nd after posting a rap verse on his Facebook wall that contained the line, “fuck a boston bombinb [sic] wait til u see the shit I do, I’ma be famous for rapping, and beat every murder charge that comes across me.” The high school student has been held in jail since then without bail. “There will be a bail hearing this afternoon, after which point he will probably be released, is my educated guess,” says Essex County DA spokesperson Carrie Kimball Monahan.

Prosecutors sought to charge D’Ambrosio with threats to make a bomb or hijack a vehicle, carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Danielle Simpson, a legal assistant to D’Ambrosio’s lawyer, says they expect D’Ambrosio to be released on his own recognizance and home by Thursday night. An additional court date is scheduled for June 27th in Lawrence district court, but Kimball Monahan said the DA would not likely bring additional charges.

Before the indictment was rejected, civil liberties advocates said the case raised serious concerns. “This is a travesty of free speech, and a travesty of the First Amendment,” says Evan Greer, the campaign manager for Center for Rights, which created an online petition in support of D’Ambrosio. According to Greer, a search of D’Ambrosio’s house after his arrest yielded no evidence of bomb-making materials. “We should never allow tragedies to limit rights,” says Greer, who believes that authorities over-reacted in the wake of the recent violence in Boston. “It doesn’t actually make us safer.”

Fight for the Future has confirmed that D’Ambrosio has been released from jail.

Update (same day as original post): According to The Boston Herald’s coverage of this story, the Methuen police chief and the district attorney are unrepentant about their decision to target D’Ambrosio:

Essex County District Attorney spokeswoman Carrie Kimball-Monihan said there are no plans to attempt to bring lesser charges in district court. She said prosecutors will file a motion ending prosecution against D’Ambrosio at a future date.

“We presented the case. We called witnesses. It’s the function of the grand jury to hear the evidence,” Kimball-Monihan said.

Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon said he stands by his department’s arrest of D’Ambrosio, two weeks after the Boston attacks that killed three bystanders and wounded more than 260. An MIT police officer was later executed and an MBTA cop severely wounded in a shootout with the terror suspects.

“Although we disagree with the grand jury’s decision, we respect it,” Solomon said. “Several judiciary levels have confirmed the probable cause in this case as it has worked its way thought the criminal justice system. We will continue to take all threats against our community seriously and will always utilize due diligence in our investigation.”

Update (6/7/2013): According to the Eagle-Tribune’s coverage, D’Ambrosio may not be able to graduate high school this year because he (obviously) missed school while he was in jail:

D’Ambrosio would have graduated this Sunday with his classmates at Methuen High School. But his education and future have been in limbo after he was suspended and while he’s been confined to a jail cell after a judge declared him a threat to the community.

With the charges against D’Ambrosio dropped, it’s not clear whether he will be allowed to make up any incomplete course work and graduate this year. His class is due to graduate Sunday.

“This is the first I’m hearing of the (grand Jury) decision,” Methuen School Superintendent Judith Scannell said last night.

“I have not received a call from the District Attorney’s office. I will be meeting with the high school administration tomorrow to discuss next steps,” Scannell said.

[D’Ambrosio’s lawyer Geoffrey] DuBosque said he didn’t know how yesterday’s developments will affect his client’s standing at Methuen High School or what the family planned to do.

“Whether he will be able to graduate now, I don’t know. I have been focused on representing him in the criminal courts. I haven’t been involved in the school proceedings,” he said.

This story is just one of many examples showing that “innocent until proven guilty” is a lie in the United States. All this teenager did was make a stupid post on his Facebook. He didn’t do anything illegal. A grand jury wouldn’t even indict him. And yet he spent over a month in jail and had his life significantly disrupted because some scumbag prosecutor wanted to make a name by scoring a “terrorism” conviction in the wake of the Boston marathon bombings.

There need to be real consequences for government officials who abuse their powers like this.

It’s not much, but you can find the contact info fore the Methuen police department here and the contact info for the Essex Country District Attorney here. If you get a chance, give the police chief and DA a call and let them know how you feel about them abusing their power.

May 23 2013

Salem police harass free speech activists

Dr. Q

You may have already heard about the case of Cameron D’Ambrosio (or “Cammy Dee”). D’Ambrosio, an 18-year old student, was arrested by police in Methuen after he posted some rap lyrics he had written that referenced the Boston marathon bombings on his Facebook page. He has been charged as a terrorist and held without bail.

These are the lyrics Cameron posted:

All you haters keep my fuckin’ name outcha mouths, got it? what the fuck I gotta do to get some props and shit huh? Ya’ll wanme to fucking kill somebody? What the fuck do these fucking demons want from me? Fucking bastards I ain’t no longer a person, I’m not in reality. So when u see me fucking go insane and make the news, the paper, and the fuckin federal house of horror known as the white house, Don’t fucking cry or be worried because all YOU people fucking caused this shit. Fuck a boston bominb wait till u see the shit I do, I’ma be famous rapping, and beat every murder charge that comes across me!”

It should be pretty obvious that these lyrics were not intended to be a threat. As Tim Cushing of the blog Techdirt observes:

When I reread his words, I don’t find him threatening to kill anyone. He says he’ll “go insane” and make “the news, the paper, the (expletive) federal house of horror the White House.” “Go insane” is not the same thing as threatening violence and its takes a lot of willingness to see something that’s not actually there to believe it does. Sure, D’Ambrosio mentions both the White House and the Boston bombing, but simply throwing those words into a sentence (and filling the rest out with expletives) doesn’t turn this into a credible threat, or at least not one that should result in a 20-year sentence.

By all means, the police should be willing to investigate perceived threats, but putting this into context (your average profane, overdramatic, attention-seeking, rap fan teenager) should have resulted in little more than a discussion about the possibility that word dumps like this could have negative consequences or legal repercussions.

Earlier today, D’Ambrosio was finally given a court hearing to determine whether or not he could post bail and be freed from jail.

Several free speech advocates went to the courthouse where D’Ambrosio’s hearing was taking place to stage a small protest. They were asked to leave even though they had every right to be there. They complied anyway, but were then harassed again by officers of the Salem Police Department. You can see video here:

If you’d like to contact the Salem Police Department to demand that they stop harassing free speech activists, I’ve included their contact information below:

  • Business 978-744-0171
  • Non-Emergency Request for Police 978-744-1212

You should also click here and sign the petition to get Cameron D’Ambrosio’s ridiculous charges dropped.

Update (same day as the original post): I just got the following additional information from the person who uploaded the videos (via Twitter): “there were only 2 activists present w/ only 1 of whom stood on the forbidden sidewalk vs 6 pd & the Sargent returned to complain about being filmed w/o consent & threatened to take the camera.” Apparently the Sergeant has never heard of Simon Glik.

Update (5/24/2013): Here’s a small update on Cameron D’Ambrosio’s hearing from the Eagle-Tribune:

The Methuen High School student who has held been in jail for three weeks on charges related to a threatening post on his Facebook page, was in Salem Superior Court yesterday morning to ask again for his release, while civil liberties groups ratcheted up pressure to free him on First Amendment grounds.

Cameron D’Ambrosio, 18, asked Superior Court Judge John Lu to be released with conditions, such as a GPS monitoring bracelet, a prohibition on using computers, and checking in regularly with probation.

Judge Lu did not issue a ruling yesterday.

Geoffrey DuBosque, D’Ambrosio’s attorney, said yesterday D’Ambrosio is not a threat and is willing to submit to court-imposed restrictions for his release.

“My argument is, one, he’s not a danger, but if the court were to find he is a danger, there are conditions the court could impose,” DuBosque said.

D’Ambrosio on May 1 wrote on his Facebook page a profanity-laden post that said he would outdo the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing, “be famous for rapping, and beat every murder charge that comes across me!”

Students at Methuen High School, where D’Ambrosio is a senior, reported the post immediately to administrators, who alerted the school’s police officer. D’Ambrosio was arrested later that afternoon on Pleasant Street in Methuen.

Police searched D’Ambrosio, his book bag and his parent’s home, finding no weapons, manifestos or specific plans or threats to commit violence, DuBosque said.

“His house was searched and they found absolutely nothing in his house that was indicative of someone who is a danger,” he said. “They searched his book bag and his person when they arrested him and found nothing indicative of someone who is a danger.”

Update (5/24/2013): Apparently there was more video of the protesters interacting with the court employees that I missed the first time around. I’ve updated the post so that it now includes the entire video.

Update (5/27/2013): Somehow I missed this news, but the judge for D’Ambrosio’s case denied him bail on Friday, the day after the hearing. Very shameful.

Also, the activist who recorded the Salem police harassment has posted a video here where she explains what happened in a little more detail. The discussion of the protest and police harassment occurs at about the 7 minute mark.

Update ((5/28/2013): Techdirt has some good commentary on the judge’s decision to deny D’Ambrosio bail here. Also, I updated the post with a more complete version of D’Ambrosio’s rap.

Sep 30 2011

The “terror plot” that wasn’t

Dr. Q

Rezwan Ferdaus

Two days ago, FBI agents arrested 26-year-old Rezwan Ferdaus on terrorism charges in Framingham. Ferdaus, a resident of Ashland, stands accused of plotting to wage “jihad” against the U.S government and “kafirs” (i.e., non-believers) by providing “material support” to Al-Qaeda and by attacking the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol Building.

Ferdaus allegedly planned to fill remote-controlled model airplanes with plastic explosives and fly them into the two buildings using GPS tracking devices. After the explosives went off, Ferdaus planned to have two small teams of men go on shooting sprees at the buildings with AK-47s. The “material support” charge against Ferdaus stems from the fact that he also allegedly modified several mobile phones so that they would send an electrical signal through a wire when called. The electricity could apparently be used to remotely detonate improvised explosives devices if one of the phones was properly attached to one.

Pretty scary stuff, isn’t it? Who would have thought that a terrorist mastermind could possibly be lurking in Ashland, a small Massachusetts town with a population of just 16,593? “Things like this make you wonder if you ever really know your neighbors, or anyone else for that matter,” mused MetroWest Daily News columnist Julia Spitz.

And yet, upon closer inspection, Ferdaus’s plot reveals itself to be nothing but smoke and mirrors. Ferdaus, as it turns out, had no connections to actual terrorists, none of the skills necessary to pull off the attack he was planning, no access to the weapons necessary for the plot, and no money to buy the necessary supplies. The only people involved in the plot other than Ferdaus were two anonymous undercover FBI agents and an anonymous “cooperating witness” (i.e., an informant) who posed as terrorists to convince Ferdaus to carry out the plot. All the guns, explosives, and model airplanes were directly provided by or indirectly paid for by the FBI (using your tax money, of course). The FBI even paid for the storage space that Ferdaus was using to stockpile the items and helped Ferdaus get to Washington D.C. to do “surveillance” of the buildings he planned to attack. None of the phones Ferdaus modified were ever used to detonate explosives nor did they ever end up in the hands of Al-Qaeda members.

Carmen M. Ortiz, the United States attorney in Boston, actually went so far as to say in a public statement that “The public was never in danger from the explosive devices.”

What’s more, it appears to be very unlikely that Ferdaus’s plan would have worked if he had been given a chance to try putting it into action. According to an Associated Press article, “Counterterrorism experts and model-aircraft hobbyists said it would be nearly impossible to inflict large-scale damage of the sort Ferdaus allegedly envisioned using model planes. The aircraft are too small, can’t carry enough explosives and are too tricky to fly, they said.”

FBI agents spending months trying to goad an individual into committing a terrorist attack that they otherwise would not have the means to carry out is not a new phenomenon. As Glenn Greenwald summarizes on his Salon.com blog:

Time and again, the FBI concocts a Terrorist attack, infiltrates Muslim communities in order to find recruits, persuades them to perpetrate the attack, supplies them with the money, weapons and know-how they need to carry it out — only to heroically jump in at the last moment, arrest the would-be perpetrators whom the FBI converted, and save a grateful nation from the plot manufactured by the FBI.

Last year, the FBI subjected 19-year-old Somali-American Mohamed Osman Mohamud to months of encouragement, support and money and convinced him to detonate a bomb at a crowded Christmas event in Portland, Oregon, only to arrest him at the last moment and then issue a Press Release boasting of its success.  In late 2009, the FBI persuaded and enabled Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, a 19-year old Jordanian citizen, to place a fake bomb at a Dallas skyscraper and separately convinced Farooque Ahmed, a 34-year-old naturalized American citizen born in Pakistan, to bomb the Washington Metro.  And now, the FBI has yet again saved us all from its own Terrorist plot by arresting 26-year-old American citizen Rezwan Ferdaus after having spent months providing him with the plans and materials to attack the Pentagon, American troops in Iraq, and possibly the Capitol Building using “remote-controlled” model airplanes carrying explosives.

None of these cases entail the FBI’s learning of an actual plot and then infiltrating it to stop it.  They all involve the FBI’s purposely seeking out Muslims (typically young and impressionable ones) whom they think harbor animosity toward the U.S. and who therefore can be induced to launch an attack despite having never taken even a single step toward doing so before the FBI targeted them.  Each time the FBI announces it has disrupted its own plot, press coverage is predictably hysterical (new Homegrown Terrorist caught!), fear levels predictably rise, and new security measures are often implemented in response…

— Glenn Greenwald, “The FBI again thwarts its own Terror plot,” Salon, September 29, 2011

Don’t get me wrong: if the allegations against Ferdaus are accurate, then he’s a reprehensible individual and I would never try to suggest otherwise. But time and resources are limited and we would be much safer if that time and those resources were spent pursuing people who actually pose a threat to the public.

There are millions of violent crimes and property crimes in the United States that go unsolved every year. If there are really so few people who have both the motivation and means to carry out terrorist attacks in the United States that the FBI actually has to manufacture its own terrorist plots in order to make terrorism arrests, then it’s time for the government to stop spending so much money on unnecessary “counter-terrorism” programs and instead invest it in apprehending suspects for some of these unsolved crimes that actually affect our society.

You can download the criminal complaint against Rezwan Ferdaus here (.pdf format) or read it in the Scribd embed below:

Complaint Affidavit

Sep 13 2011

Little Brothers Are Watching: The Example of Massachusetts

Dr. Q

By Nancy Murray and Kade Crockford, Truthout and ACLU Massachusetts

This article was written as part of the Ten Years Later: Surveillance in the ‘Homeland’ project by Truthout and the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts which the two organization describe as “a series of critical analyses and investigative pieces related to privacy, homeland security and surveillance” written for the 10 years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It was copied from this source.

Early in the morning on March 13, 2008, Australian-born Peter Watchorn, one of the world’s foremost harpsichordists, was standing on a subway platform in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with a professional cellist from Australia who had his instrument with him. They were on their way to Logan International Airport to catch a plane.

After going a few stops, all the trains in the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) subway system were brought to a halt while theirs was searched with sniffer dogs. They thought they still could make their plane when their train started up again and they made it to the connecting bus. But before they reached their terminal, they were hauled off the bus and subjected to an abusive search – by no fewer than eight officers – during which the cello, valued at $250,000, was nearly tipped out of the case.

After they were interrogated for 30 more minutes, one state trooper told them they had been overheard at the Cambridge station, “having conversations we were not supposed to be having.” They missed their plane and never got any kind of apology from the police. The incident left Watchorn wondering whether he had done the right thing becoming an American citizen.

On the basis of an anonymous tip – possibly a hoax, or maybe just an overreaction from a well-intentioned “if you see something, say something” citizen spy – the MBTA police decided that these travelers posed a “credible threat.” The MBTA had been preparing for years to disrupt such threats by creating a robust intelligence unit that partners with the fusion center, the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), numerous other state and federal agencies including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Metropolitical Transportation Authority (MTA) Interagency Counterterrorism Task Force in New York City. By 2005, the unit was maintaining 14 stand-alone databases to track all suspicious activity and crime, information which was forwarded directly to the JTTF. It had a weekly bulletin, “Reporting on Terrorism-Related Activity,” that was disseminated across the nation, and it was working with Raytheon and Draper Labs to develop special software to track people, since the facial recognition software available at that time was not effective in the subways.[1]

The MBTA had also introduced a “Security Inspection Program” to search passengers on a random basis at the time of the 2004 Democratic National Convention and made it permanent in October 2006. Even as the subway infrastructure deteriorated and the MBTA ran out of funds to pay injury and damage claims, groups of four or five transit officers were paid to “deter terrorists” by inspecting the bags of randomly selected passengers at various stations on a rotating basis – activity that security expert Bruce Schneier calls “security theater.” The MBTA also announced the deployment of “behavior recognition teams” with the authority to stop anyone anywhere for unspecified reasons.

The airport to which the musicians were heading piloted such teams shortly after two of the planes involved in the 9/11 attacks took off from its runways. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenged the precursor of the Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques program (SPOT) when the head of its national Campaign against Racial Profiling – a tall African-American man with a beard – was spotted behaving “suspiciously” by talking on a pay phone after deboarding an airplane. A jury agreed that he had been wrongly detained.

Evidence that “behavioral profiling” is just another term for racial profiling did not prevent SPOT from being rolled out at other airports, at a cost of some $400 million. In a 2010 report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) claimed the program had no scientific validity and caught no terrorists, despite the fact that some 16 individuals alleged to be involved in terrorist plots (including the would-be Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad) moved through airports deploying SPOT on at least 23 occasions.[2]

Nevertheless, an additional $1 billion was designated for the next version of SPOT, which was unveiled at Logan beginning in August 2011. It involves the Israeli-style screening of passengers who are asked questions to see if they seem unduly nervous or display evidence of Orwell’s “facecrime.”[3] The $14 billion spent by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on airport security has been handed over to dozens of contractors, with little attention paid to what actually works, and even less to notions of privacy and the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches – especially in the case of “backscatter” whole-body screening, which is bringing a hefty commission to the company headed by former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) chief Michael Chertoff.

What are the chances that Watchorn and his fellow musician now have a permanent record of being regarded as “credible threats”? Given what the ACLU of Massachusetts has been able to discover through its multiple public records requests, it seems quite likely. For Massachusetts, which has received at least $170 million from the DHS for surveillance-related programs, has been at the forefront of efforts to build the new, data-hungry intelligence apparatus, thanks to the efforts of its governor from 2003 to 2007, Mitt Romney.

As lead governor on homeland security issues at the National Governors Association and a member of the DHS Homeland Security Advisory Council, Romney was ardent about enlisting the public “to be on the lookout for information which may be useful” and expanding government surveillance: “Are we wiretapping, are we following what’s going on, are we seeing who’s coming in, who’s coming out, are we eavesdropping, carrying out surveillance on those individuals that are coming from places that have sponsored domestic terror?”[4]

So, it is not surprising that Massachusetts had two of the earliest fusion centers in the country. The Commonwealth Fusion Center (CFC) was established under the supervision of the state police in 2004 without any public notice or legislative process. The Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC) was set up the following year, also under cover of official silence.

The CFC, which soon moved from a terrorism focus to an “all hazards, all threats, all crimes” mission, is staffed by members of the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Massachusetts National Guard, the US Army Civil Support Team, the DEA, the Department of Correction, the DHS Office of Intelligence Analysis, the Geographic Information Systems Department and at least one private corporation, CSX Railroad. In addition, local police officers with security clearance work at the CFC.

Under the CFC standard operating procedures, police officers attached to the CFC behave more like FBI agents than local cops. They are permitted to conduct “preliminary inquiries,” during which “all lawful investigative techniques may be used” (including the use of undercover operatives or informants) without reasonable suspicion that a target is involved in criminal activity.[5] If they go undercover “to attend meetings that are open to the public for purpose of observing and documenting events,” they are not required to identify themselves or leave the gathering if it is requested that police officers make themselves known, and they don’t have to leave the room if legal advice is being given.

The CFC shares data with local police departments, with state police in other states, with various state agencies and through the national Information Sharing Environment (ISE) with federal and state agencies around the country. Its personnel have been granted clearance by the DHS and the FBI to access classified information.

BRIC is under the supervision of the Boston police and staffed by the MBTA transit police, employees from various local police departments, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office and various business interests. A pioneer of Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR), the Boston Police Department, through BRIC, shares information with the CFC and the FBI, and has entered into information-sharing agreements with agencies as far away as Orange County, California via COPLINK, police information-sharing software designed to “generate leads” and “perform crime analysis.”

Massachusetts has developed other databases to aid information-sharing. Among them is “MassGangs,” which collects a vast range of personal and associational information on anyone and everyone who could be a member of a “gang” – defined as an “association or group of two [emphasis added] or more persons, whether formal or informal, whose members or associates engage, either individually or collectively, in criminal activity.”[6] There is also SWISS (the Statewide Information Sharing System), which enables multiple agencies to contribute police reports in real time to a state repository and then access and search reports remotely through a computer. The database creates a permanent record not only of arrests, but of all incidents based on “calls to service” – from fighting neighbors to a barking dog – as well as information about each time a police officer stops someone on the street and makes a search.[7]

As the CFC and BRIC steadily expand the number of public and private sources from which they collect information and the mountain of data grows ever larger, accessing agencies have less knowledge about the kind and quality of information that they retrieve. The CFC disclaims any responsibility for the accuracy of the data it collects and shares. Its privacy policy does more to shield its operations from public scrutiny than it does to protect individual privacy, and it creates no enforceable rights.[8] Without any independent oversight mechanism or public reporting, Massachusetts’ fusion centers have been left to police themselves, even though they have every incentive – as well as the stated intention – to sidestep laws they find inconvenient.

The public is not just being left in the dark about the operation of fusion centers.  It has little solid information about the network of DHS-funded surveillance cameras that has been installed in cities and towns of the Greater Boston Urban Area Security Initiative. These powerful cameras have the capacity to pan, tilt, and zoom, rotate 360 degrees in a fraction of a second, and “see” for a mile. They could eventually be fitted with facial recognition software, eye scans, radio frequency identification tags, and other forms of software, and connected to large law enforcement databases – if they are not already.

Like other states and cities, Massachusetts and Boston law enforcement officials have received federal funding for a broad range of other surveillance-related technologies. Some, at first glance, may seem like sensible policing tools. For instance, automatic license plate readers – provided to state and local police through a federal Department of Transportation grant – can help police spot stolen cars and parking violators.

But they also capture digital images of thousands of license plates per minute and store this information in databases, along with travel information indicating the time and place a particular vehicle was “pinged.” In Massachusetts, this information is required to be submitted to the state’s criminal justice information services database, which can be freely accessed by other states’ and federal law enforcement. Absent a formal policy on data retention and sharing – which the state does not have – the personal travel information of millions of Massachusetts residents can be shared with agencies throughout the nation.

Massachusetts police may soon have an even more powerful tool at their disposal –  if they do not already. Imagine a database containing billions of data entries on millions of people, including (but not limited to) their bank and telephone records, email correspondence, biometric data like face and iris scans, web habits and travel patterns. Imagine this information being packaged “to produce meaningful intelligence reports” and made accessible via a web browser from a handheld mobile or police cruiser laptop.

In 2003, the Massachusetts State Police put out a request for proposals to create just such an “Information Management System” (IMS). In May 2005, they awarded a $2.2 million contract to Raytheon to build, install, troubleshoot and maintain the IMS.[9] Welcome to policing in the age of total information awareness.

1. This information was presented by the MBTA at the Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council Meeting held on May 18, 2005, at the Moakley federal courthouse and attended by a wide array of federal (including military) and state agencies, local police, and private partners.

2. According to the GAO report, between May 2004 and 2008, 152,000 people were identified for secondary screening by SPOT teams. Of this number, 14,000 people were referred to law enforcement, resulting in 1,100 arrests – most for being “illegal aliens” or having “fraudulent documents.”

3. “It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself – anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offense. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime, it was called.” (George Orwell, “1984”).

4. Governor Mitt Romney, speech to the Heritage Foundation, September 14, 2005.

5. Document obtained via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request: Standard Operating Procedure, Commonwealth Fusion Center, Number CFC-04, effective date March 5, 2008.

6. Document obtained via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request: MassGangs: Project Overview, Draft of December 14, 2007.

7. Meeting with Commonwealth Fusion Center officials, April 7, 2009.

8. Document obtained via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request: CFC-05, July 1, 2006 (CFC Privacy Policy).

9. Document obtained via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request: Massachusetts State Police Request for Information re: Data base software.

This work by Truthout is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.


Nancy Murray is director of education at ACLU Massachusetts. Kade Crockford is the ACLU Massachusetts privacy rights coordinator.