Enhanced Surveillance Techniques and The Police State

Two things have caught my eye this morning. The first is a report out of Denver about a group of four that have been arrested in a supposed plot to kill Obama. From the AFP:

US authorities were Tuesday investigating an alleged plot to kill Barack Obama as he claims the Democratic nomination later this week in Denver, after four people were arrested with a haul of weapons.

The plot was unraveled Sunday after a police officer spotted a truck driving erratically in a suburb of Denver, Colorado where the four-day convention is being held. "The sergeant discovered inside his truck a bullet proof vest, two rifles, ammunition, walkie talkies and drugs," Aurora police detective Marcus Dudley told reporters.

"Additional information was then developed which led to the arrest of others." The suspects were being held on drugs and weapons charges while the alleged plot was being investigated by the US Secret Service which protects the US president and White House candidates and the FBI and the joint terrorism task force.

One of the men arrested had to be taken to hospital after he jumped out of a sixth floor hotel room window in an attempt to flee police, Dudley said.

A fortuitous traffic stop for "erratic driving" just flat out screams "pretext stop". I will be shocked beyond belief if they had not been onto these guys through other means prior to the traffic stop. It is very hard to fathom that this all came out of a simple traffic stop. What exactly is "erratic driving" anyway? Speeding? Weaving? A bad turn? Red light violation? How did they come to magically search the vehicle from a mere traffic ticket stop? Are the Aurora cops doing a full felony inventory vehicle search on every traffic ticket they issue? How did they get to a hotel search where a guy is jumping out of a window so quickly? Naw, there is something else at play here, you can just smell it.

The next incident involves the scene in Minneapolis for the Republican National Convention. Hey, never let it be said that I am not fair and balanced. From Laura Flanders on the FDL front page:

"Our colleagues at the Glass Bead Collective, a group of video artists and documentarians, are in the Twin Cities to prepare for the Republican National Convention. They were swarmed by three police cars, detained and had all of their electronic gear, including laptop computers, videocameras and personal items were taken from them by Minneapolis police. No one was arrested. The stop and seizure was explained by police officers as related to Homeland Security and the Republican Convention."

No one wants any harm to come to Obama, and similarly, the GOP convention should be free from incident too. But when you reflect back on the wiretapping powers that we know have been ratified by Ms. Pelosi and our Congress, the mass information gathering and sharing as described in FISA Redux: Slippery Slope Part I and Part II, not to mention this report on databasing, you have to wonder about how heavy of a hand is at work around these conventions; not to mention the country in general. At what point have we given up too much to the police state for the last incremental bit of security and safety?

  1. LS says:

    Hi bmaz, I just put this link on the previous thread about a guy found in a Denver hotel with a pound of cyanide next to his body…it happened on or around 8/12. Maybe you’ve seen it, but I’ve been away from the threads for some days, so sorry if it is old news:


    “An autopsy is now complete on a 29-year-old Ottawa man found dead in a Denver hotel room on Monday.

    Although Denver police haven’t yet said how Saleman Abdirahman Dirie died, authorities told reporters they found one pound of sodium cyanide near his body.The pound of sodium cyanide found in a hotel room Monday is potent enough to have killed close to 1,000 people, according to an expert in deadly chemicals and counter-terrorism.

    “You have a suspicious substance that was found in a hotel room in conjunction with a person being a foreign national, and we have a lot of questions and that is why we are assisting,” said Denver FBI spokeswoman Kathy Wright. Authorities were trying to determine why Dirie, 29, was in Denver and how and when he got into the United States.

    “There is not necessarily more of a concern, but it is something we are aware of and how close the DNC is,” Wright said. “We want to make sure we do everything we can to find out the unknown.”

    And they should be, according to Dr. Andrew Ternay, a chemist at the University of Denver and the director of the Rocky Mountain Center for Homeland Defense.

    “A pound of cyanide would kill hundreds of people,” Ternay said. “It depends on, do you breathe it in? Does it get on your skin? That makes all the difference in the world. Sitting in a bag, it does nothing. But if you get it on your skin, it’ll go through the pores of your skin and kill you.”
    Police say it appears Dirie was dead for several days before his body was found in room 408 of the Burnsley Hotel in downtown Denver, located about four blocks from the State Capitol.”

    • skdadl says:

      I’d missed this story entirely, but I see that it was covered at least in the Ottawa Citizen. The poor fellow’s sister says that he was “schizophrenic,” and things seem not to have gone any further, so perhaps there was nowhere to go. Puzzling story, but maybe just very sad.

  2. ThingsComeUndone says:

    Welcome to the world of driving while Brown, yes we are all suspects now.
    Its real fun when the police make you wait outside your car as they search it while there is a blizzard going on and you were dressed to party indoors as opposed to dressed to stand outside for 45 minutes.

  3. ThingsComeUndone says:

    It does not matter how you dress in the new America my dad was wearing a business suit and was asked to get out of his car or they would drag him out.
    He was in his sixties and had a leg cramp I talked the cop down the burbs are the worst.

  4. ThingsComeUndone says:

    No one wants any harm to come to Obama, and similarly, the GOP convention should be free from incident too.

    The police just need a pretext to pull everybody they want over and that justifies everything everyone is viewed as a suspect not a citizen.
    Justice it seems is no longer Just Us as the joke goes we are heading to the equality of no rights for anybody but the extremely wealthy.
    After 9/11 all the Saudis and the bin Ladins left the country on a private plane without the FBI interviewing any of them.
    I never thought foreigners even foreigners with money would have more protections from the law than citizens do but hey this is G.W Bush’s America.

  5. ThingsComeUndone says:

    Are the Aurora cops doing a full felony inventory vehicle search on every traffic ticket they issue?

    Yes if they got computers all they need is your license or ID. But thats for crimes committed in your state, unless things have been updated or maybe its just for the Dem Convention.
    Christy would probably know.
    Heck they my sisters boyfriend a few years back was a passenger while my sister was driving and the police wanted his ID for her weaving.
    He almost got hauled in for not having an ID on him.
    I talked to a homeless dude recently when the police do sweeps you need an ID or else they hold you until they find out who you are.

  6. ThingsComeUndone says:

    Hi mod my comment at 5 reads

    Heck they my sisters boyfriend a few years back was a passenger while my sister was driving and the police wanted his ID for her weaving.

    it should read

    Heck they wanted my sisters boyfriend’s ID a few years back when was a passenger while my sister was driving and the police wanted his ID for her weaving.

    Could you fix it please?

  7. ThingsComeUndone says:

    I will be shocked beyond belief if they had not been onto these guys through other means prior to the traffic stop.

    A sting is not illegal if the cops knew through other sources like informants it is used to be illegal if the information came from illegal wire taps.
    But 2 white guys getting pulled over by police with weapons in plain view?
    And these guys wanted Obama? Sounds like the police are fibbing or these guys are real morons and to be honest it could be both.
    I don’t think we have proof of police misconduct yet they could have had a mole working the inside.

  8. plunger says:

    Why don’t they just come right out and say it…

    “See, Warrantless Wiretaps Saved Obama’s Life!”

    THAT is what you’re smelling.

    This entire thing is so Rovian I could puke.


    He can’t help but draw attention to himself.

  9. Mary says:

    I did think this was interesting. After DOJ spending so much time running the puppet show and soundracking it with “be afraid, be afraid, be afraid” when it comes to these Denver guys (as opposed to the When-will-the-retrials-end Miami crews) apparently no one needs to worry.

    “We’re absolutely confident there is no credible threat to the candidate, the Democratic National Convention (in Denver), or the people of Colorado,” U.S. Attorney Troy Eid said in a statement.

    So the USA is saying in advance of investigation that they were “no credible threat” eh? At least the defense won’t have to spend time writing their own closing.

  10. stryder says:

    Let’s just say, for exploratory reasons, that if a democratically registered,card carrying,trial lawyer wanted to find out what info the local law enforcement community had about him ,just to verify the validity of it of course,how would he go about it?

    • bmaz says:

      Far as i know, you can do an information/FOIA check in every jurisdiction you are concerned about and request your FBI file. The centralized databases are not responsive to private requests however. There are services available, probably can google and find some, that do it all for you; how reliable they are, I have no idea. I used to use special private investigators to do these types of info jobs. I don’t know what they did to get the information.

  11. KenMuldrew says:

    Trucks containing guns and drugs, that are being poorly driven, are common enough in Colorado that nobody needs wiretaps to find them. The bit about the plot against Obama sounds like all the terrorist plots uncovered over the last few years; punks talking smack without the slightest chance of carrying out their gradiose schemes.

  12. behindthefall says:

    Does this have anything to do with Skype having cruddy quality, not connecting internationally, dropping calls, and not even being able to find a local cell phone today?

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Exactly the kind of story needed during these conventions. The probability is high that during these conventions, this administration will use its most extreme domestic spying powers, its most extensive “networking” among spy agencies, federal and local cops. Rovian priorities would be to keep Republicans safe and to find out what Democrats are doing.

    Stories like this during a normal work week earn a yawn or “She’s wearing her tinfoil hat again.” During these conventions, they receive their due attention.

    The most densely populated area of Colorado is along the Front Range, a strip running north and south, from north of Boulder to south of Colorado Springs, where the Rockies abruptly jut sharply upward from the Great Plains. Aurora is a typical suburb along the Front Range, lapping the freeway just north of Denver, part brand new, partly eclipsed by other suburbs nearby. Erratic driving on the interstate between Denver and Boulder, busy at any time of day or year, would be hard to spot and rarely stopped.

    Criminals bent on immediate harm tend to stay out of the limelight, tend to obey traffic and social rules so as not to distract from their aim. Even the “crazies” planful enough to turn rage into action. Catching one during a routine traffic stop would be rarer than catching a weapons or drug smuggler or car thief plying the highways between LA, Phoenix and Dallas. Stops there are frequent, I gather, but typically because they’re based on hard info. obtained from out-of-state law enforcement agencies. The usual public explanation for them, however, is “erratic driving”.

    The Minneapolis stop and seizure of camera equipment is more troubling. This was common in NYC after 9/11, where every tourist photographing the Empire State Building or South Street Seaport was considered a would be terrorist. The feds made frequent arrests, picking up mostly Middle Eastern tourists and businessmen intent on killing nothing but a few hours’ time until their next appointment.

    In effect, however, they turned taking pictures of public facades on public streets sufficient probable cause for arrest and detention. Those unlucky enough to have overstayed their visas enjoyed the bottomless pit of a Monica Goodling-staffed immigration court system, once the Fibbies finally determined they had nothing more to say.

    The Minneapolis stops and seizure of camera equipment repeats that message, it tells us that free assembly and speech are no longer free, that the government can compile digital dossier about our daily lives, but that we aren’t allowed to know what it’s doing, much less how it does it. We aren’t even allowed to enjoy our taxpayer-financed public spaces without permission, which might be as forthcoming as it was in Beijing during the Olympics.

    The GOP convention is a public act, regardless of the all-private venues the party will attempt to hide behind. In the phrase “law and order”, law comes before order for a reason: it defines the kind of order we want, the kind worth giving up something else for. The two words are inseparable. Order before law, or without it, is just authoritarian rule.

    • bmaz says:

      heh, I could care in the least that they stopped and locked up these morons. I just have a hard time believing that it all was the result of a lucky patrol stop. And, just for grins, I would like to know which one of our new modalities did lend the tip.

      • Rickbrew9x says:

        I’m more concerned that it WAS just a lucky patrol stop.

        If that was the first point that the Secret Service was aware of them, then their security for Obama and Hillary doesn’t sound very good.

        I remember November 1963. Security had better have gotten more effective since then.

  14. dosido says:

    Pretty fricking weird that only dems are targetted by these terrists…

    Pretty fricking weird that with all the new powers to fight terrorism, this guy was able to get a bag of cyanide in fricking Denver…

  15. Rayne says:

    Just made the connection that the Glass Bead Initiative is part of I-Witness Video — which in turn is still going through legal wrangling related to the LAST RNC convention in NYC. Seems folks working as part of I-Witness have been subpoenaed to produce video showing the cops were only doing their jobs and there were folks in the crowd that should have been/should be prosecuted…

    Yeah, I’m betting there’s some spider at work here.

  16. Rickbrew9x says:

    How did they come to magically search the vehicle from a mere traffic ticket stop?

    He was stopped at three AM for “driving erratically.” A suburban cop is quite likely to stop a stranger in a pickup truck at 3:00 AM Sunday morning in suspicion of a DWI.

    As for why the searched his vehicle – the story is that his license was suspended. Then they found that he was driving a rented car someone else had rented. If the picture of him is accurate, then he looks criminal to begin with. I prefer that my local cops use that kind of judgment – and they do. But mostly just to make sure they know what is going on.

    On top of that, if they knew his license was suspended they also knew of his felony history. Even if that record was out of state, I’d bet good money that the Secret Service has access to the criminal records of every American state and territory while the Democratic Convention is being held in Denver. They will also be monitoring every police action in Denver and the surrounding areas very closely. That’s an Intelligence function in support of Secret Service protection. That’s probably also why the Aurora police are taking full credit for the initial bust.

    But to start with, driving around at 3:00 am on a Sunday morning is simply begging for a cop to stop you for suspicion of DWI. The suspended license an the vehicle rented by someone else led to all the rest.

    Did all that really happen?

    What I used to teach management I’d point out that what happens in a decision meeting is almost irrelevant. Six months after any meeting (or event) the only thing that matters is what the recording secretary wrote down saying it happened. But in this case I’ll bet that most of what was reported really happened. It’s just that we aren’t hearing some other things that also occurred.

  17. Sara says:

    If someone in Denver with floor credentials wants to ask, the head of the Minnesota Delegation is Mayor Rybeck of Minneapolis. It might be an interesting interview, as he controls the Mpls Police.

    Other things have happened. On Sunday night someone broke windows and threw in paint on the State Obama Headquarters, which is in St. Paul, but just down the block from Minneapolis. I haven’t heard if they caught anyone yet.

    We are getting all sorts of instructions as to what roads are to be closed next week — very frustrating getting them piece by piece without one central plan and announcement. I may find a way to go to the lake until the Republicans leave town.