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Patrick Eddington

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Does Trump Have An Ethnic Iranian Interrogation and Detention Program In The Works?

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The reported detention and interrogation of Iranian Americans in Washington state over the weekend raises an obvious question: was this an isolated incident, or is the Trump administration now rolling out an interrogation and possible detention program targeting persons of Iranian heritage? A FOIA response from the Justice Department I received in May 2019 may offer a telling clue. First, a little background.

In April 2019, not long after President Trump designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a terrorist organization, I decided it would be a good idea to find out if the administration was engaged in any other war planning with Iran that would have a domestic nexus. Specifically, I wanted to know if the administration had plans on the shelf to detain persons of Arab or Iranian heritage in the event of yet another war with a country in the region.

Accordingly, I submitted Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the Department of Justice (multiple components, including the FBI), United States Northern Command (NORTHCOM), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the United States Postal Service (USPS), and the Census Bureau. I picked these agencies or departments because each has, in past wars, played key roles in either the surveillance of ethnic populations deemed a threat or actually incarcerating persons of a particular ancestry who happened to be from a country at which we were at war.
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Constitution Day 2019: The Hidden Domestic Surveillance Crisis

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As we marked the 232nd anniversary of the signing of America’s governing charter in 1787, we have ample evidence that it continues to be violated by the federal officials charged with upholding it.

Last month, The Young Turks (TYT) news and talk network obtained the FBI’s 2018-2020 “Consolidated Strategy Guide,” which not only referenced the targeting of so-called “Black Identity Extremists” (BIE’s) but also those designated as engaged in “Anti-Government/Anti-Authority Extremism,” “Abortion Extremism,” or “Animal Rights/Environmental Extremism.” In a House Oversight and Reform subcommittee hearing in June, FBI Counterterrorism Division Director Michael McGarrity had admitted under questioning that the FBI could not cite a single example of a murder that could be linked to any African American activist group, including Black Lives Matter. He also claimed that the Bureau had eliminated the entire category of “Black Identity Extremists” from its lexicon. The document obtained by TYT casts doubt on McGarrity’s claim, particularly given the use of the term “Black Racially Motivated Extremists” (BRME) elsewhere in the Guide.

The Guide does not disclose the precise criteria the FBI uses to label individuals or groups as extremists or alleged threats, but it does discuss in some detail the aggressive “intelligence collection” posture the FBI took against so-called BIE’s. Page 1 of the section on BIE’s contains the following...
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