Archive for March 30, 2012


by Spencer Ackerman (Wired)

The FBI taught its agents that they could sometimes “bend or suspend the law” in their hunt for terrorists and criminals. Other FBI instructional material, discovered during a months-long review of FBI counterterrorism training, warned agents against shaking hands with “Asians” and said Arabs were prone to “Jekyll & Hyde temper tantrums.”

These are just some of the disturbing results of the FBI’s six-month review into how the Bureau trained its counterterrorism agents. That review, now complete, did not result in a single disciplinary action for any instructor. Nor did it mandate the retraining of any FBI agent exposed to what the Bureau concedes was inappropriate material. Nor did it look at any intelligence reports that might have been influenced by the training. All that has a powerful senator saying that the review represents a “failure to adequately address” the problem.

“This is not an effective way to protect the United States,” Sen. Richard Durbin, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee overseeing the FBI, tells Danger Room about the inappropriate FBI counterterrorism training. “It’s stunning that these things could be said to members of our FBI in training. It will not make them more effective in their work and won’t make America safer.”

At the least, Durbin adds, “those responsible for some of the worst parts of this should be reassigned. I want FBI agents who were exposed to some of these comments to at least have a chance to be spoken to and given valid, positive information that can help them.”

One FBI PowerPoint — disclosed in a letter Durbin sent to FBI Director Robert Mueller on Tuesday (.PDF) and shared with Danger Room — stated: “Under certain circumstances, the FBI has the ability to bend or suspend the law to impinge on the freedom of others.” An incredulous Durbin told Danger Room, “Time and time again when that is done, it has not made us safer.” Like other excerpts from FBI documents Danger Room reviewed for this story, it was not dated and did not include additional context explaining what those “circumstances” might be.

FBI spokesman Christopher Allen did not dispute the documents’ authenticity. He said he would not share the full documents with Danger Room, and was “unable to provide” additional information about their context, including any indication of how many FBI agents were exposed to them.

“Of the approximately 160,000 pages of training material reviewed, less than one percent contained factually inaccurate or imprecise information or used stereotypes,” Allen told Danger Room. “But mistakes were made, and we are correcting those mistakes. Through this review process, we recognized that we lacked a centralized process to ensure all training materials were reviewed and validated. We are addressing that gap so this does not happen again.”

The FBI’s counterterrorism training review was prompted by a Danger Room series revealing the Bureau taught agents that “mainstream” Muslims were “violent“; that Islam made its followers want to commit “genocide“; and that an FBI intelligence analyst compared Islam to the Death Star from Star Wars. The review led the bureau to remove hundreds of pages of documents from its training course.

On Friday, the FBI announced the results of its internal review. After six months of internal inquiry, it released a statement instructing that “training would conform to constitutional principles” and “emphasize the protection of civil rights and civil liberties.” Written materials “must be reviewed carefully by supervisory-level personnel possessing an appropriate level of understanding of relevant topics.”

No one who prepared any of the “factually inaccurate or imprecise” instructional material faced disciplinary action. “All FBI employees who prepared inaccurate, imprecise, or stereotyped materials were interviewed,” Allen said. “It was made clear to them what was wrong with the materials and why they were not acceptable for FBI training.”

That’s left Sen. Durbin dissatisfied.

On Tuesday, Durbin wrote to FBI Director Mueller objecting to the FBI’s plans not to disclose the results of the inquiry; not to discipline those responsible for the offending documents; to exclude “FBI intelligence analyses of Islam and American Muslims” from the inquiry’s purview; and not to retrain agents who were exposed to the shoddy instructional material.

“If the FBI does not identify agents who received inaccurate information and take steps to retrain them, there is a real risk that agents will be operating on false assumptions about Arab Americans and American Muslims,” Durbin wrote to Mueller. “This could harm counterterrorism efforts by leading FBI agents to target individuals based on their religion or ethnicity, rather than suspicion of wrongdoing.”

A sample of that possibly harmful training comes from a document on “Establishing Relationships,” which instructed: “Never attempt to shake hands with an Asian. Never stare at an Asian. Never try to speak to an Arab female prior to approaching the Arab male first.”

Another document, titled “Control and Temper,” contrasted the “Western Mind” with that of the “Arab World.” The “Western” mind possessed an “even keel” and “outbursts” of emotion were “exceptional.” In the “Arab World,” by contrast, “Outburst and Loss of Control [is] Expected.” A bullet point below asked, “What’s wrong with frequent Jekyll & Hyde temper tantrums?”

Many U.S. Muslims have been under government surveillance since 9/11, even without suspicion of a crime. The FBI has created “geo-maps” of where Muslims around the U.S. congregate and do business, untethered to specific criminal investigations. The New York Police Department has performed similar surveillance on Muslim communities in New York City, as an extensive Associated Press inquiry has revealed.

Durbin said he wants to give Mueller, with whom he has a “positive working relationship,” a chance to respond to his letter before taking any further steps with the Judiciary Committee to compel additional FBI action. But he expressed surprise that the FBI could have taught its agents that “bending or suspending” the law was sometimes acceptable.

“I cannot imagine that was actually said,” Durbin said, adding that the FBI provided him no context as to what circumstances might justify acting outside the law. “It creates a license for activity that could on its face be illegal, and certainly inconsistent with our values.”

Advertisements

This is just a couple of (no doubt) many helpful links for vegans and others who want palm out completely out of their food choices; please feel free to send me more links and suggestions to collect as a useful resource

Victims of Palm Oil Production

Products Containing Palm Oil

http://www.angelfire.com/planet/palmoilproducts/

Palm Oil-Free Products

http://www.orangutans.com.au/Orangutans-Survival-Information/Helping-you-buy-responsibly-Palm-oil-free-alternatives.aspx

Forests are burned on plantations in Indonesia to clear land to produce palm oil

A National Geographic Documentary Series on Global Warming; Part One of four follows below. The title of the series has to be the understatement of the century.

 

 

The sad story of ‘Green’ the orangutan who was brought to an Indonesian refuge, paralysed down her left side.

Unfortunately she died several days later, another victim of the huge Indonesian forest clearances that are devastating ecosystems for timber, paper pulp and palm oil.

Who knows, maybe she died of a broken heart as her home was destroyed…..

The scenes are from an excellent Al Jazeera documentary called ‘Witness – Green: Death of the forests’.

Daily Mail UK

Richard Shears.  March 29, 2012

Hundreds of orangutans are believed to have died in fires deliberately lit by palm oil companies.

Conservationists say the rare Sumatran orangutan could be wiped out within weeks.

‘It is no longer several years away, but just a few months or even weeks before this iconic creature disappears,’ said Briton Ian Singleton, of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme.

 Shocking: Hundreds of orangutans are believed to have died in fires deliberately lit by palm oil companies Tripa forest on the coast of Aceh province in northern Indonesia

Shocking: Hundreds of orangutans are believed to have died in fires deliberately lit by palm oil companies inTripa forest on the coast of Aceh province in northern Indonesia

 The apes, which live in the Tripa forest on the coast of Aceh province in northern Indonesia, have had to flee the flames as fires wipe out their habitat – and palm oil companies have been blamed for starting the blazes.

The companies have already been accused of offering a bounty for the heads of orang-utans in Borneo after blaming the animals for destroying their young palm trees – but conservationists say the animals have had to encroach on the plantations because their own habitats have been destroyed.

The Daily Mail revealed the bounty hunt earlier this year with a sad photo of a mother trying to protect her baby as Indonesian palm oil workers moved in for the kill.

Fortunately on that occasion wildlife officials were on hand to rescue the pair and move them to a safe area.

Sad: The apes have had to flee the flames as fires wipe out their habitat ¿ and palm oil companies have been blamed for starting the blazesSad: The apes have had to flee the flames as fires wipe out their habitat and palm oil companies have been blamed for starting the blazes

Now the new threat to the Sumatran orangutan has erupted in the officially protected Tripa forest, which is hemmed in by palm oil plantations.

Land clearing fires have been started inside the forest, resulting in the animals fleeing – but hundreds are feared to have died in the flames because Indonesians in the employ of the palm oil companies have been accused of driving them back into the flames.

Dr Singleton, originally from Hull, said the remaining orangutans will die either in the fires or of gradual starvation and malnutrition as their food resources disappear.

He added: ‘We are currently watching a global tragedy.’

%d bloggers like this: