(TMU) — While the world anxiously watches the situation in Iraq unfold, it’s important to understand domestic byproducts of the ongoing military conflict between the United States and Iran.
Specifically, the tensions between the two nations have lead to an increase in the questioning of travelers of Iranian descent who attempt to cross U.S. borders. There have also been reports of police departments exploiting the hysteria to increase surveillance and security measures.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) released a statement noting their opposition to any “targeting of people for digital surveillance based on their race, religion, or nationality, at our border and in our interior.” As the Mind Unleashed previously reported, on January 4 more than 60 people of Iranian descent, including U.S. citizens, were held at the border between Canada and Washington state for many hours and questioned. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) denied that it detained or refused entry to Iranians based on their national origin despite multiple reports from travelers. According to a Buzzfeed report, a CBP officer coerced at least one U.S. citizen into providing the password to his smartphone before taking the phone away for two hours.
“EFF has long argued, including in Alasaad v. McAleenan, that travelers have significant privacy interests in their digital data and that the U.S. Constitution protects such interests at the border,” EFF writes. “We’ve also argued that these rights are not suspended if an international traveler happens to be of a particular race, religion, or nationality. Indeed, digital surveillance at the border, if predicated on these factors, is both unconstitutional and a moral outrage.”
Following Donald Trump’s decision to launch a missile strike into Iraq and kill Iranian General Soleimani, the New York City Police Department and the Los Angeles Police Department announced a boost in security of New York City and Los Angeles. EFF warns that there is reason to be concerned this security boosting could lead to an increase of police surveillance of Iranian communities.
EFF notes that in 2012 both the NYPD and the Newark Police Department settled legal claims brought by civil liberties groups opposing police surveillance and infiltration of Muslims in their cities. The surveillance included shops, restaurants, mosques, and schools. EFF also reminds Americans that in the build up to the Iraq war, the FBI targeted Iraqi Americans for surveillance.
The potential targeting of Iraqis and Iranians is reminiscent of the weeks following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, when the U.S. government rounded up several hundred individuals suspected of ties to terrorism. The arrests were allegedly based on tips received through a hotline.
In total, 762 people were detained around the country. Some individuals were even deported after being found to have no ties to terrorism. Detainees were held between three to eight months in facilities in New York and New Jersey. Many of the detainees were subject to solitary confinement for 23 hours a day and faced punishment from authorities, including slamming them into walls, bending or twisting their arms, hands, wrists and fingers, stepping on their leg restraints, leaving them handcuffed or shackled in their cells, insulting their religion, and making humiliating sexual comments during strip searches. Since that time, not one U.S. government official has been held accountable.
A lawsuit filed in federal court in April 2002 sought to hold former top U.S. officials accountable, including then-Attorney General John Ashcroft and former FBI Director Robert Mueller. Unfortunately, in June 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that officials cannot be held accountable for the actions of the post 9/11 kidnappings. The court stated that “high officers who face personal liability for damages might refrain from taking urgent and lawful action in a time of crisis.”
Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the one dissenting opinion, stating, “History warns of the risk to liberty in times of national crisis.” Breyer mentioned the imprisonment of dissenters during World War I, and the “unnecessary internment during World War II of 70,000 American citizens of Japanese origin,” as examples of mistakes the U.S. government ought not repeat.
It’s important that the American public not stay silent during times of turmoil and tension between political leaders. If we stand by silently while power hungry warmongers attempt to take advantage of a crisis, we risk becoming a guilty party in gross violations of basic civil liberties and human rights.
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.