Political Profiling

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Political profiling is an activity certain "watchdog" organizations engage in on various computer bulletin boards, chat rooms and wikis. A internet user's postings under either their real life identity of pseudonym may be "profiled" for their ideological convictions based upon editing patterns, interests, subject matter, common references, or declared beliefs. The profile is then pigeon-holed into predetermined character assessments published by the watchdog organizations. Political profiling has been referred to as the rough equivalent of profiling all Black males on the grounds that a certain percentage may commit violent crimes. In the sense that targeting minorities for special surveillance is called “racial profiling,” the so called "watchdog organizations" engage in "political profiling." Some watchdog groups hold law enforcement conferences, seminars, training sessions, and publish manuals on this “profiling” behavior.

Contents

Introduction

Daniel Brandt, founder of the Wikipedia-Watch website describes watchdog organizations that use political profiling as "private intelligence agencies", and remarks as a private agency, they enjoy

no oversight, no requirements for probable cause prior to political spying, and no Privacy Act or Freedom of Information Act responsibilities to the public. By contrast, the FBI, CIA, and some major police departments in the U.S. are held accountable by various hard-won legal restrictions. [1]

Walter James O'Brien refers to them as "civilian agencies." [2] And Laird Wilcox uses similar language in discussing their activities,


Any citizen can obtain their FBI files through the Freedom of Information Act....There is no such mechanism by which a private American citizen can obtain their files compiled by private Watchdog organizations.... You cannot correct errors... they may have obtained information that government agencies cannot legally collect on its own. This... is something that goes on all the time and represents a serious civil liberties issue. [3]

Some watchdog organizations have been criticized for the misuse of journalist shield laws to mask their domestic spying operations. Robert J. Friedman of the Village Voice commented:


Journalists place information in the public domain where they are held accountable for falsehoods, distortions, and libel. And for the most part, journalists don’t share their files with domestic police agencies... many of [the "watchdog" agency] files are not open to public scrutiny, false information collected by ideologically biased researchers cannot be corrected. [4]

Wilcox observes the watchdog's publications are designed to support the ideological agenda of a like minded group, and not provide “news.” Their publishing activities are only a small part of its program, most of which is fundraising, lobbying, and maintaining enemies lists. [5] Wilcox, who is cited by the Military Law Review as one the "foremost expert analysts of right and left-wing extremism" [6], and has published numerous books and articles on various extreme groups in America since the early 1960s, including American Extremists: Militias, Supremacists, Klansmen, Communists and Others by Prometheus Books, chronicles the excesses of the watchdog industry, and asks, "Who is watching the Watchdogs?"


The simple fact is there are money and careers to be made....an entrenched industry exists... that has attracted bullying, moralizing fanatics, whose identity and livelihood depend upon growth and expansion...There is a humanist anti-racism that focuses on reconciliation and healing, that works to bring people together, that functions openly and honestly without the use of dossiers, spies, specious lawsuits, disinformation, and that recognizes the rights of individuals whether they agree with one another or not. This is the anti-racism of good neighbors, of people helping people, of community goodwill, and of the realization that we are all human beings....

On the other hand there is a vindictive and corrupt anti-racism that focuses on paybacks and punishment, that demonizes and degrades its critics, that attempts to carve out special rights for its constituency, that opposes free and open discussion of ideas, that attempts to silence, censor and stifle its opposition through intimidation and harassment, and encourages law enforcement scrutiny of opponents because of their alleged values, opinions and beliefs. This kind of anti-racism is more dangerous than the problem it purports to remedy, and this is the anti-racism that tends to characterize the Watchdog organizations.

Wilcox successfully demonstrates many of the watchdog's enemies are actually imagined enemies.


Watchdog organizations tend to define themselves in terms of their opposition, i.e., the various individuals and organizations they call “extremist,” and depend upon this opposition to justify their existence, their intense hatred of their enemies, and their often questionable fund-raising activities. Moreover, Watchdog groups tend to exaggerate the divisions that exist in American society. In fact, the supposed polar opposites on the ideological spectrum have far more in common than they do in opposition. ...studies suggest that extremism is overestimated in American politics and that the differences between left and right are partly imagined.

The Wikipedia project has worked in close collaboration with several alleged humanitarian "watchdog" groups. The "Notable Wikipedia Experts" entrusted with this venture [1] are immune to all Wikipedia's published policies, WP:Attribution, WP:No self promotion, WP:Experts do not hold a place of privilege, WP:Citing self, WP:No personal attacks, WP:Civility, and WP:Wikipedia is not a battleground are the most often cited policy violations that go unenforced against these private organizations which are granted license to publicly slander at will. [7] [2]

Links and Ties

The fallacy of composition consists in reasoning improperly from a property of a member of a group to a property of the group itself.... It occurs in two varieties: First, it falsely extrapolates a quality of one group member to all group members....Second, it is possible to transfer a quality of a member to the group itself.

The fallacy of division is the converse of the fallacy of composition. It occurs when somebody reasons falsely from a quality of the group to a quality of a member of group.

The converse fallacy of difference, on the other hand, renders a special judgment upon a group for a quality which is not special to it.

The fallacy of the perfect analogy consists in reasoning from a partial resemblance between two entities to an entire and exact correspondence. [8]

Consider the following account of the “links and ties” of U. S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas offered by Chip Berlet of Political Research Associates. Berlet notes correctly that Thomas is on the editorial board of the Lincoln Review, a quarterly black conservative publication of the Lincoln Institute. Berlet claims “it is a far right group that has worked in coalition with… fascist and anti-Semitic groups.”

Berlet goes on to “link” Lincoln Institute head J. A. Baker with the Indiana Ku Klux Klan by virtue that Baker is on the board of the Council for National Policy and another board member is allegedly a former member of the Indiana Ku Klux Klan. Finally, Berlet says, The Lincoln Institute, with which Clarence Thomas has been affiliated in an official policy for close to ten years, was also a member group in the Coalition for Peace Through Strength. As author Russ Bellant discusses, the Coalition includes a number of racist, pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic groups." [9]

“Links and ties” is another name for argumentum ad hominem or guilt by association, which has both legitimate and illegitimate uses. If someone has been an active member of an ideological organization for many years, or a regular writer for an ideological publication, or routinely and regularly associates with a particular ideological crowd while professing sympathy and solidarity with them, and this has bona fide bearing on a particular issue, then the “link” or “tie” is probably significant.

This kind of analysis is subject to abuse, however. For ideological thinkers, a mere hint of “links and ties” may lead to great intuitive leaps that have no basis in fact.

Marxist or Nazi groups often demand great compliance with doctrine. It is unlikely that Chicago Area Friends of Albania, for example, would let someone become a founding member unless that person had been in substantial agreement with its ideological program. In most cases the existence of “links and ties” or past political associations should be viewed as a statement of where people were at that particular time in their lives.

Profiled groups

The following two subsections, "Theocratic" and Wise use, are taken from Understanding the Right Wing, by Scot Nakagawa [10] written about 1999 and lists various groups classified as "right wing" and "proto-fascist". This list and accompanying search engine terms have been expanded in the following years. Nakagawa accredits Political Research Associates (Chip Berlet, Surina Khan, and Jean Hardisty [retired], the Coalition for Human Dignity (Jonathan Mozzochi, Steven Gardiner, and Gillian Leichtling), People for the American Way, The Institute for First Amendment Studies, Sara Diamond, and the Western States Center (Tarso Ramos).

All these groups and the person associated with them have been the target of "political profiling", as discussed by Laird Wilcox. Dr. Dobson and Paul Weyrich, among several others, have been viciously smeared in Wikipedia, in violation of Wikipedia's own policies on Neutral Point of View {NPOV}, WP:What Wikipedia is not (WP:NOT), WP:Attribution, and a host of other policies. Wikipedia claims immunity under Sec. 230 of the Internet Decency Act of 1998 which exempts a hosting facility from liability for content.

"Theocratic"

Wise use

"Hate groups"

The organizations listed below were taken from the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report [11] written by Berlet. Berlet classifies these groups as "hate groups", and some of the defamatory smears have made their way into Wikipedia, despite numerous violations of Wikipedia's stated policies.

Various profiles

The profiling process of these watchdog organizations begins with identifying certain organizations, both high profile and marginal, determine their ideological content measured against the ideological views and prejudices of the watchdogs themselves, then link them in some way to extremism through an outrageous guilt by association smear. Numerous examples abound over the past 10 years, and Wikipedia has increasing become the seat of their operations. Examples include,

  • Daniel Brandt was the victim of a much publicized ongoing defamation based upon his split with an anti-Trotskyite cabal on the extreme left more than 15 years ago;
  • Dr. James Dobson is linked to racism and the Ku Klux Klan [6] through a convoluted series of accusations intended to undermine the so-called "Christian Right" (which is interchangeable with "Christian Fascism" [7] in Wikipedia);
  • Senator Thad Cochrane is slandered with invective aimed at another person;
  • Paul Weyrich is linked to "Christian Fascism" which is defined as a Protestant movement, despite his being a devout Catholic, because of Weyrich's organizational work for the Republican party beginning in the late 1970s; [8]
  • David Horowitz is slandered as operating a "hate group" because of opposition to reparations; [9]
  • The Ludwig von Mises Institute is profiled as "neo-confederate", allegedly advocating segregartion, slavery, and lynchings because an author dared criticize Abraham Lincoln for passing an income tax during the Civil War. [10]

Wise use movement targeted

A particularly shocking and dangerous example of guilt-by-association targeting and profiling occurred when two New Mexico grandmothers found themselves suspected of being terrorists after appearing on a radio talk show where they criticized the federal government and the United Nations. Kay Stone and Jean Vallance were investigated by New Mexico Department of Public Safety (State Police) after appearing on KINN radio in Alamagordo in June, 1998.

State police Lt. Bill Bowers called the station and spoke with talk show host Mike Shinaberry, who was asked about the couple and Maude Rathgeber, the Otereo Republican party chairwomen, who had also been on the show in the past. According to Shinaberry:


It bothered me that anyone would be the subject of an investigation simply because they got on the radio and said what they believed... None of them ever came close to espousing violence. [12]

According to The Dallas Morning News, which covered the story from the beginning:


Maj. Michael Francis, another state police officer...said the inquiries into Ms. Stone and Ms. Vallance sprang from the activities of a Domestic Terrorism Task Force, comprising local, state and federal agents.

The two women were also investigated by the military officials at a nearby Air Force Base:


Six days later, on June 17, Mrs. Vallance said she received a phone call from Special Agent Amanda Finerty, from the office of special investigations [OSI] at Holloman Air Force Base.

Mrs. Vallance, a retired nurse who is married to a civilian employee at Holloman, said Agent Finerty asked about her religious affiliation and whether anyone was “planning something” against German pilots [stationed at the base].

All of this came about by the issuance of a manual entitled The Extreme Right: An Overview containing in large part material from a leftist "Watchdog" organization to law enforcement agencies. [13] According to news sources:


The 73-page document included profiles of fringe groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, as well as skinheads and extremists who believe each race should have its own land in the United States. Lumped into the manual’s description of terrorists, racists and other pariahs is an excerpt on the so-called “wise use” movement, which advocates more local control over federally owned lands.

Shinaberry was spurred to investigate this manual. Speaking again with Lt. Bill Bowers he was told “that the federal government had asked state police to create a -- he used the term intelligence database’ -- to make lists of people who might be radicals.” He also noted that the manual suggests an anti-government continuum of groups that apparently run from the most peaceful to those with a reputation for violence, with no distinction made between them. As it happened the contents of the manual were leaked to the public after the police inquiries into the two women.

Ranchers and loggers erupted in anger at the manual’s juxtaposition of the wise use movement with Nazi and Klan groups....Local government officials, concerned about the impact of federal policies on rural economies, also objected to the manual.


They labeled us as dissidents when all we went to do is participate in decisions about how federal lands are used,” said Adam Polley, a Catron County official in western New Mexico.

Darren White, the Governor’s cabinet secretary for the state police, apologized for the manual and issued a written apology dated 9 July 1998:


I recognize that across New Mexico thousands of farmers, ranchers, miners, loggers and others are committed to preserving a way of life free from unnecessary regulation,” he wrote. “I believe free speech and the spoken word sustain our freedom.

The "Watchdog" organization manual and others like it continue to be circulated among law enforcement officials nationwide, even though its effect is to target ordinary American citizens on the basis of the values, opinions and beliefs. [14] The Wise use movement was the target of political profiling and placed on the this leftist Watchdog list because if frequently takes positions contrary to the Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society. [15]

See also

References

  1. Daniel Brandt, Cyberspace Wars: Microprocessing vs. Big Brother, NameBase NewsLine', No. 2, July-August 1993.
  2. Walter James O'Brien, Nazism, the Internet and Culture of Violence, A preliminary survey toward preventing a third world war, 1999, pgs. 3, 6-9, 12, 14, 61, 63, 68. Written to compete for the Trench Gascoigne Prize offered by the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies (http://www.rusi.org); retrieved from http://rjayco.com/ 06/10/07.
  3. Laird Wilcox, The Watchdogs: A Close Look at Anti-Racist "Watchdog" Groups, Editorial Research Service, 1999, pg. 15. ISBN 0-993592-96-5.
  4. Robert J. Friedman, The Anti-Defamation League is Spying On You, The Village Voice, 11 May 1993.
  5. Laird Wilcox, The Watchdogs, 1999, pgs 54-56.
  6. MAJ Walter M. Hudson, Racial Extremism in the Army, The Military Law Review, Vol 159 (Mar 99), pg. 7, Department of the Army, Washington, DC. Army Pamphlet No 27-100-159.
  7. Chirsi Arabia, Leftist Lie Factory, FrontPageMagazine.com, October 16, 2003.
  8. David Hacket Fisher, Historians’ Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought, New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1970, 219-223.
  9. Chip Berlet, “A Few Facts About Clarence Thomas,” published by Rock Out Censorship (1997).
  10. Scot Nakagawa, Understanding The Right Wing, When Democracy Works, n.d.
  11. Chip Berlet, Into the Mainstream, SPLC Intelligence Report, Summer 2003
  12. Scott Parks, NM Women Worry They’re On Secret List ‘Radicals’, Dallas Morning News, 13 September 1998.
  13. Laird Wilcox, The Watchdogs, 1999, pg. 69.
  14. Laird Wilcox, The Watchdogs, pg. 70.
  15. ATTAC Report.
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