Missouri Libertarian Party Demands Answers: Why Was U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s “Civil Liberties Impact Assessment Template” Ignored in Creation of MIAC “Strategic Memo”?

03/22/2009

The Civil Liberties Impact Assessment Template (1), a guideline created by the US Department of Homeland Security's Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, was obviously ignored by the Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) when creating the now-infamous "Strategic Memo" on militia activity.

The document in question is a training memo for law enforcement in Missouri that characterizes certain political views as potential indicators of involvement in extremist, violent militia activity. Among the political views listed are opposition of illegal immigration, opposition to abortion, opposition to federal taxes and opposition to gun control legislation.

The memo also lists displays of support for third parties, like the Libertarian Party, and former presidential candidates Bob Barr (Libertarian) and Ron Paul (Republican) as being among the "paraphernalia" that could indicate involvement in hate-based militia groups.

MIAC is a "fusion center"; a cooperative of local, state and federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security. The Department of Homeland Security has a document designed to prohibit the political profiling and other civil rights violations contained in the "Strategic Memo."

Specifically:

Under the "Other Rights" portion of the template, the following question must be considered when considering any program or activity: "Could the program limit protected political or religious expression? Could the program implicitly chill open discourse or a person's ability to express their beliefs in writing that does not threaten or amount to shouting fire in a theater?"

Because the US Department of Homeland Security is a cooperating agency in the "fusion center's" domestic intelligence efforts, its regulations and safeguards for citizens should be observed in all activity.

Missouri Libertarian Party spokesman Mike Ferguson asks if these safeguards were considered during the development of the training document. "We want to know if a Civil Liberties Impact Assessment was done at all. Training law enforcement officers to watch for political speech like signs and bumper stickers when trying to determine if someone is part of a violent hate group will, obviously, 'chill open discourse' and people's willingness to express their beliefs. Just knowing you might be profiled in a way that links you to groups like these discourages people from making their voice heard.

"This training document is not only misguided, it is dangerous and clearly violates the safeguards designed to protect our First Amendment rights."

The Missouri Libertarian Party reiterates its desire to have representatives meet with Governor Nixon, and with the leadership of the Missouri Highway Patrol, the Missouri Information Analysis Center and the Missouri Department of Public Safety. Ferguson states "We want to be part of the solution that keeps our troopers safe, stops the real bad guys and protects our freedoms at the same time.

"Unfortunately, our repeated requests to have that discussion and reach a solution have been rejected so far."

(1)The US Department of Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties' Civil Liberties Impact Assessment Template can be found at:

https://www.it.ojp.gov/documents/Civil_Liberties_Impact.pdf

Contact Name: 
Mike Ferguson, Missouri Libertarian Party Spokesperson
Contact Phone: 
816.695.1425