The Massachusetts ACLU today called on state officials to launch an independent investigations into the FBI shooting death of Ibragim Todashev, who was killed on May 22 during a joint interrogation by FBI officials and local law enforcement officers from Massachusetts and Florida.
In a letter to Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, the ACLU urges the state Civil Rights Division to investigate the role of Massachusetts State Police in the shooting. The ACLU of Florida also issued a request to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to look into the role of Orlando police officers in the killing.
Two Massachusetts state troopers, along with Orlando police officers, were present with FBI officers during the interrogation of Todashev at his Orlando home.
According to the ACLU, there are conflicting reports as to whether the Massachusetts troopers were in the room at the time of the shooting and whether their purpose at the interrogation was to investigate the Boston Marathon bombings, a 2011 triple-homicide in Waltham, or something else. The role of the Orlando police officers is even more unclear, according to the ACLU.
Notwithstanding the involvement of state personnel in questioning Todashev, and an earlier call by the Council on American-Islamic Relations for an independent investigation into the shooting death, public reports indicate that the only investigation into Todashev’s shooting is being led by the FBI.
The ACLU contends that the FBI’s approach “has fostered widespread public distrust.”
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Abdeen Jabara, civil rights attorney in New York. He helped found the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
As more revelations come to light about the National Security Agency, we speak to civil rights attorney Abdeen Jabara, co-founder of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. He was involved in a groundbreaking court case in the 1970s that forced the NSA to acknowledge it had been spying on him since 1967. At the time of the spying, Jabara was a lawyer in Detroit representing Arab-American clients and people being targeted by the FBI. The disclosure was the first time the NSA admitted it had spied on an American.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn now to a—perhaps related, but certainly to the climate, I want to end today’s show on the National Security Agency. Our guest here in New York, Abdeen Jabara, who was co-founder of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, was involved in a groundbreaking court case in the 1970s that forced the National Security Agency to acknowledge it had been spying on him since 1967. The disclosure was the first time, I believe, that the NSA admitted it had spied on an American. I mean, this is at a time, Abdeen Jabara, that most people had no idea what the NSA was. This is not like these last few months.
ABDEEN JABARA: Well, it was—this is very interesting. I didn’t know what the NSA was. I mean, I started a lawsuit against the FBI, because I thought that the FBI had been spying on me and monitoring my activities—
AMY GOODMAN: Why?
ABDEEN JABARA: —and that of my clients. Well, I’ll tell you why. Because I had been very, very active in Palestinian support work. And one day I read in Newsweek magazine, in the Periscope section, that 26 Arabs in the United States had been targeted for surveillance, electronic surveillance. So, I thought, surely, some of those had been clients of mine or had talked to me on the phone about issues and so forth. And that’s when I brought the lawsuit. And—
AMY GOODMAN: So you sued the FBI in 1972.
ABDEEN JABARA: Right, I sued the FBI in 1972, and the FBI answered. And on the issue about electronic surveillance, they declined to answer on the basis that it was privileged and state secret. At that point in time, the ACLU came in to represent me, and we forced them to answer that question. They admitted that there had been some overhears, alright, that I had not been personally targeted for electronic surveillance, but there had been overhears of my conversations with some of my clients. And they also said they received information from other federal agencies. And they didn’t want to answer that, who that agency was. And the court compelled them to answer. And it turned out that other agency was the NSA. And we didn’t know, you know, what the NSA was. Jim Bamford’s book, The Puzzle Palace, hadn’t yet been published. And we found out that the FBI had requested any information that the NSA had, and the NSA had six different communications that I had made. I was president of the Association of American Arab University Graduates in 1972, so I had a great deal of work on my plate as the president of the association. And I don’t know what these communications were.
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