[ RadSafe ] FBI Official Defends Radiation Monitoring

Sandy Perle sandyfl at earthlink.net
Fri Dec 23 20:06:08 CST 2005

FBI Official Defends Radiation Monitoring

WASHINGTON - A classified radiation monitoring program, conducted
without warrants, has targeted private U.S. property in an effort to
prevent an al-Qaida attack, federal law enforcement officials
confirmed Friday. 

While declining to provide details including the number of cities and
sites monitored, the officials said the air monitoring took place
since the Sept. 11 attacks and from publicly accessible areas — which
they said made warrants and court orders unnecessary.

U.S. News and World Report first reported the program on Friday. The
magazine said the monitoring was conducted at more than 100 Muslim
sites in the Washington, D.C., area — including Maryland and Virginia
suburbs — and at least five other cities when threat levels had 
Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, New York and Seattle.

The magazine said that at its peak, three vehicles in Washington
monitored 120 sites a day, nearly all of them Muslim targets
identified by the     FBI. Targets included mosques, homes and
businesses, the magazine said.

The revelation of the surveillance program came just days after The
New York Times disclosed that the Bush administration spied on
suspected terrorist targets in the United States without court 
    President Bush has said he approved the program to protect
Americans from attack.

Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic 
Relations, a Washington-based civil rights group, said Friday the
program "comes as a complete shock to us and everyone in the Muslim

"This creates the appearance that Muslims are targeted simply for
being Muslims. I don't think this is the message the government wants
to send at this time," he said.

Hooper said his organization has serious concerns about the 
constitutionality of monitoring on private property without a court

Brian Roehrkasse, a Justice Department spokesman, said Friday that 
administration "is very concerned with a growing body of sensitive
reporting that continues to show al-Qaida has a clear intention to
obtain and ultimately use chemical, biological, radiological and
nuclear" weapons or high energy explosives.

To meet that threat, the government "monitors the air for imminent
threats to health and safety," but acts only on specific information
about a potential attack without targeting any individual or group, 

"FBI agents do not intrude across any constitutionally protected 
without the proper legal authority," the spokesman said.

In a 2001 decision, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that police must get
warrants before using devices that search through walls for criminal
activity. That decision struck down the use without a warrant of a
heat-sensing device that led to marijuana charges against an Oregon

Roehrkasse said the Justice Department believes that case does not
apply to air monitoring in publicly accessible areas.

Two federal law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of 
anonymity because the program is classified, said the monitoring did
not occur only at Muslim-related sites.

Douglas Kmiec, a professor of constitutional law at Pepperdine 
University, said the location of the surveillance matters when 
determining if a court order is needed.

"The greatest expectation of privacy is in the home," said Kmiec, a
Justice Department official under former presidents     Ronald Reagan
and George H.W. Bush. "As you move away from the home to a parking 
or a place of public accommodation or an office, there are a set of
factors that are a balancing test for the court," he said.

Despite federal promises to inform state and local officials of 
security concerns, that never formally happened with the radiation
monitoring program, said an official who spoke on condition of
anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

The official said that after discussions with attorneys, some state
and local authorities decided the surveillance was legal, equating it
to air quality monitors set up around Washington that regularly sniff
for suspicious materials. 

"They weren't targeting specific people, they were just doing it by
random, driving around (commercial) storage sheds and parking lots,"
the official said. 

Asked about the program's status, the official said, "I'd understood
it had been stopped or significantly rolled back" as early as eight
months ago. 

Such information-sharing with state and local officials is the 
responsibility of the     Homeland Security Department, which 
spokesman Brian Doyle said was not involved in the program.

Sandy Perle
Senior Vice President, Technical Operations
Global Dosimetry Solutions, Inc.
2652 McGaw Avenue
Irvine, CA 92614 

Tel: (949) 296-2306 / (888) 437-1714  Extension 2306
Fax:(949) 296-1144

E-Mail: sperle at dosimetry.com
E-Mail: sandyfl at earthlink.net 

Global Dosimetry Website: http://www.dosimetry.com/ 
Personal Website: http://sandy-travels.com/ 

More information about the RadSafe mailing list