Feb 05 2013
The FBI is using a racial and ethnic mapping program to collect intelligence on American communities – and it doesn’t want you to know which ones it’s spying on, or how it’s using census data to do so. The ACLU and the ACLU of Michigan filed a brief in federal court on Friday to challenge the FBI’s secrecy over its profiling practices.
FBI documents we already secured show that the Bureau is profiling some communities for intelligence collection based on false stereotypes that ascribe certain types of crimes to entire minority communities. Targeted groups include Muslims and Arab-Americans in Michigan, African-Americans in Georgia, Chinese and Russian-Americans in California, and broad swaths of Latino-American communities in multiple states.
We obtained these FBI documents through the ACLU’s “Mapping the FBI” campaign. As part of the campaign, 34 ACLU affiliates filed public records requests in 2010 to uncover how the FBI is collecting and “mapping” information about racial and ethnic groups around the country. Here’s just one troubling example: a 2009 Detroit FBI field office memorandum shows that the Bureau sought to collect information about Middle Eastern and Muslim communities in Michigan – without any evidence of actual wrongdoing and based on a generalized and entirely unsubstantiated threat assertion.
The public needs – and deserves – to know more about the FBI’s racial and mapping program. For that reason, the ACLU and the ACLU of Michigan brought a federal lawsuit in July 2011 to enforce our request for records about how the program is being used in Michigan. But the Bureau refused to disclose hundreds of documents – and most problematically, it fought to keep secret its use of information from public sources.
Read more here.