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The Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show Podcast

Whistleblowing and Michael German; Secrecy, Surveillance State; Former FBI Special Agent AND ACLU Policy Counsel

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Permalink Headlined to H2 9/21/11

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image from video shot by Cheryl Biren for War On Dissent article

After seeing and hearing Michael German present twice, once at a conference on the War on Dissent and then, this past monday, at a whistle blowing conference, where he spoke on abuses of government secrecy, I had to have him on my show. 

After I finished my interview with him, I spoke about whistleblowing and other current news. 

Here are my rough, incomplete notes from the interview.
Michael German, Policy Counsel to the ACLU on National Security, Immigration and Privacy. He was also a former Special Agent for the FBI.

secrecy, surveilance

appears to be an increase in the number of photographers and videographers being arrested-- part of this i s out of growth of suspicious activity reporting programs.

was in FBI from 1988 to 2004

Big problem-- FBI's shift from criminal investigation where there are checks and balances with judges in volved to intelligence, where the FBI acts on its own authority without judges involved.

Over 80,000 cases opened.
Expansion of authority intelligence community received after 911 has not ceased. Mukasey removed any constraints on investgations, called assessments. Can investigate anyone without anything having done wrong. Can do surveillance, subpoena phone records, use informants to check out groups you belong to, interview your work colleagues and neighbors, even though there is no factual basis that you have done anything wrong. They can even do it to determine whether you would make a good informant.

March 2009- March 2011 FBI had opened over 80,000 assessments. Only 3000 produced any evidence to justify further investigation. BUt the info collected is retained by the FBI for use later.

White it is clear that this is a clear violation of their rights. It's also a waste of security resources.

To open a "predicated investigation" all the FBI needs is some information or allegation.

Over 87% of cases turned over to prosecutors were declined.

Secrecy is growing. Since 911 the response has been to increase the number and authority of secret agencies with any accountability to the public, the courts.

WAPO reported that there are 1271 government o rgs dedicated to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence. Also a lot of private companies-- over 1900 that are engaged in this type of work.

When we get transparency we discover that we get egregious abuse, and reports are disseminated broadly (in case of the PA case where innocent peace group members were reported) without anyconsideration for whether the information was correct, legal to be disseminated...

What can we do about this?

Even when there's this idea that these secret agencies need that room to do the work that they do... because the door is shut, problems tend to multiply and not get fixed. Need congress to do intensive oversight, and fix things. But congress tends to learn things through leaks to the media...
Part of the problem is the way congress structures intelligence oversight-- with smaller subcommittees-- that they feel handcuffed and can't share info with colleagues when the law actually says they can and must.

Third thing they can do is empower the courts-- when we do get cases of people who are harmed by these secret programs, the courthouse doors are shut because the executive branch is using this expanded concept of state secrets-- using it as an immunity doctrine to say that none of the info in the case can be discussed.

ACLU is working with congress trying to get them to identify the problem -- just put out a report-- Drastic Measures Required.

Fusion Centers developed after 911 with the emphasis on counterterrorism-- then developed more broadly to all crimes then all hazards.

Fusion centers are different. A fusion is a joint intelligence and analysis center-- an information sharing and intelligence gathering center. Now, mostly bricks and mortar where law enforcement agencies from federal, state and local come together to work together. THere's no clear line of authority of wh ose rules they are operating under. They also have the military in intell agencies and Dept. of homeland security and emergency response and even private companies can be involved and the the regulations which limit what law enforcement agencies can do with the info are being ignored. Centers put out intelligence products that have been found to be very factually incorrect.

There are some groups on the left side of the political spectrum, but every type of group-- right, left and center have been spied on for exercising their constitutional rights.

When these law enforcement resources are being misdirected in a wild goose chase, that leaves people at risk. Intimidates people because they fear they will be victims of inappropriate  surveilance that might affect future jobs. Finally, it's just bad law enforcement.

What percentage of the population is affected?

I think we're all affected...
When these agencies in secret, violate rules created by congress, put all of us at risk, makes our security much reduced. It's only a matter of time "til  you're a victim.

As American citizens we have a right to know what the government's doing. We have to use all the tools that democracy gives us and get our elected representatives to do their job.

Contact all your elected representatives-- problem now it's not just at a federal level.

Should fusion centers be closed down? It's the inappropriate intelligence collection.

Must make sure that there is transparency about what's going on.

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Rob Kall is editor-in-chief, publisher and site architect of, President of Futurehealth, Inc, and an inventor. He hosts the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, aired in the Metro Philly area on AM 1360, WNJC. Over 200 podcasts are archived for downloading here, or can be accessed from iTunes. Rob is also published regularly on the

Rob Kall Wikipedia Page

Rob is, with the first media winner of the Pillar Award for supporting Whistleblowers and the first amendment.

See more Rob Kall articles here and, older ones, here. To learn more about Rob and, check out A Voice For Truth - ROB KALL | OM Times Magazine and this article. For Rob's work in non-political realms mostly before 2000, see his C.V..  and here's an article on the Storycon Summit Meeting he founded and organized for eight years. Press coverage in the Wall Street Journal: Party's Left Pushes for a Seat at the Table

Here is a one hour radio interview where Rob was a guest- on Envision This, and here is the transcript. 

To watch Rob having a lively conversation with John Conyers, then Chair of the House Judiciary committee, click hereWatch Rob speaking on Bottom up economics at the Occupy G8 Economic Summit, here.

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My articles express my personal opinion, not the opinion of this website.

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