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Saturday, December 4, 2010
FBI Records Reveal Details Of Nixon-Era Racial Profiling Program Targeting ArabsINTELWIRE is publishing 196 pages of previously secret FBI documents on the controversial racial profiling program "Operation Boulder," which screened Arab visa applicants during the early 1970s.
Read the documents (11 MB PDF)
The program was created at the direction of President Richard Nixon less than two weeks after the 1972 massacre at the Munich Olympics by members of the Black September Palestinian terrorist organization.
According to a Feb. 20, 1975 memorandum, "the program involves the systematic screening of visa applications submitted by ethnic Arabs anywhere in the world." The program began in 1972 and was terminated by the State Department over the objections of the FBI in 1975.
Applicant names were reviewed by the FBI, CIA, State Department, Secret Service and INS before approval.
At the program's peak, the FBI did background checks on 40 to 50 visa applicants per day. Arabs living in Israel and the Palestinian territories were subjected to checks by the Israeli security services, with the information being routinely forwarded to the FBI. The names of travelers and information provided by the Israelis were then indexed and stored by the FBI for future reference.
Information collected on some subjects included "subversive" (terrorism or security-related) and "non-subversive" (information not pertaining to security). For other subjects, only subversive information was collected. Despite the massive collection effort, only 23 visas were denied between 1972 and 1975.
In a related investigation, the FBI in 1972 "burlgarized" the office of the Arab Information Center, an organization for visiting Arabs in Dallas. The entry was approved by FBI headquarters but apparently lacked a warrant. "Trespass was necessary" in "surveying" the site, according to a Feb. 20, 1975 memorandum.
The office was bugged, and documents found in the office were copied. According to the FBI, the surveillance resulted in the discovery of scores of Fatah agents operating in North America.
Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.
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ISIS: THE STATE
Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger co-author the forthcoming book, "ISIS: The State of Terror," from Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins. The book, which will debut in early 2015, will examine the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, its potential fall, how it is transforming the nature of extremist movements, and how we should evaluate the threat it presents. Jessica Stern is a Harvard lecturer on terrorism and the author of the seminal text Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill. J.M. Berger is author of the definitive book on American jihadists, Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, a frequent contributor to Foreign Policy, and editor of Intelwire.com.