Creeping Police State
The LA Times reports that California has been tracking protests, spying on privileged conversations between Islamic prisoners and their attorneys and even proposed generating a list of all Iranians who live within the state to put on a watchlist.
Past and present members of the attorney general's office said they were troubled by a meeting at the security office last September in which federal and state officials discussed ways to prevent Islamic militants from recruiting prison inmates. In attendance were officials from the FBI, the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and various local law enforcement agencies, according to documents obtained by The Times.
One account of the meeting is provided in a whistle-blower complaint filed by a former high-ranking official in the attorney general's office, Edward Manavian.
The complaint says homeland security information analyst William Hipsley proposed monitoring private conversations in state prisons between inmates and Islamic clergymen and, citing a potential national security threat from Iran, getting a list of Iranians living in California.
State law makes it a felony to eavesdrop on conversations between a person in custody and his attorney, doctor or religious advisor.
Brian Parriott, a spokesman for the state prison system, said it is not the corrections department's practice to listen in on private conversations between inmates and visitors from the clergy.
And Mark Schlosberg, a policy director for the ACLU's San Francisco office, said it is discriminatory to compile databases on broad groups of people based on national origin without any specific link to criminal activity.
"It's contrary to our constitutional protections and our systems, and it's also ineffective in terms of law enforcement," Schlosberg said.
The state homeland security office denied Manavian's version of events and issued rebuttals from Hipsley and a staff member who also attended.
In a written statement, Hipsley said that he never suggested "Muslim clerics offices be 'bugged' " and that the subject of Iran never came up.
Laura Rozen says she met Edward Manavian and he is the epitome of a law and order guy and if he was troubled, it is quite striking. Our government seems to be bound and determined to adopt the Soviet Union's tactics to keep us all in line. Amazing what a paranoid and autocratic society we've turned into in just a short time.