Ohio OHS Programs Raise Civil Liberties Concerns


Posted Jul 14, 2006      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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(COLUMBUS, OH, 7/11/06) - Representatives of the Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Ohio) met recently with officials of that state’s Department of Homeland Security (OHS) and the Ohio Department of Public Safety to discuss the civil rights ramifications of certain OHS programs.

The meeting dealt with concerns over OHS programs such as “See Something, Say Something,” the School Bus Watch program, as well as the Terrorism Awareness and Prevention (TAP) Program. CAIR raised concerns that the programs may result in profiling and surveillance of ordinary law-abiding citizens.

The “See Something, Say Something” program is a statewide initiative that encourages people to report “suspicious behavior and people” to a terrorism intelligence tip line that is monitored by a consortium of public officials, who transmit the “tips” to law enforcement authorities. Questions have been raised about the integrity and potential misuse of databases generated by such tip lines.

CAIR and other civil liberties groups have also raised concerns that such programs resemble the failed Department of Justice Program Operation TIPS that was derailed by bi-partisan leaders in Congress in 2002 due to potential civil rights abuses.

“Muslim Americans, like all Americans, wish to ensure the safety and security of our nation,” said CAIR-Ohio President Dr. Asma Mobin-Uddin. “But it is also important for homeland security programs to include oversight so that innocent people are not targeted merely because of their race, ethnicity or religion.”