Military & Security

Terrorist Acts Prompt Governors to Reject Syrian Refugees Fleeing Terrorism

CNN: “More than half the nation’s governors — 27 states — say they oppose letting Syrian refugees into their states, although the final say on this contentious immigration issue will fall to the federal government. States protesting the admission of refugees range from Alabama and Georgia, to Texas and Arizona, to Michigan and Illinois, to Maine and New Hampshire. Among these 27 states, all but one have Republican governors.”

Washington Post 11/17/15 newsletter: “The idea of allowing Syrian refugees into America is creating fear and anxiety among some Americans — especially Republicans, who a September Quinnipiac poll found were overwhelmingly opposed to allowing Syrian refugees into the United States.”

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“In that poll, 81 percent of Republicans also said they think the Syrian refugees would pose a security risk. Perhaps no one channels those fears like Donald Trump, who has been willing to go further than any other politician to play up Americans’ national insecurities. On Monday, he said he’d “strongly consider” closing some mosques in the United States in the wake of the Paris attacks.”

Which States Conceal Police Misconduct Records?

Vox: “In a fantastic investigation, Robert Lewis, Noah Veltman, and Xander Landen of New York public radio station WNYC talked to attorneys and experts in all 50 states and DC and reviewed laws and court cases to find out which states restrict police disciplinary records. They found that 23 states and DC make the records confidential. And 15 other states limit access to them by, for example, only letting the public see examples of severe discipline, such as suspension or termination. The remaining 12 states generally open police disciplinary records to the public.”


Map: Does your state open police misconduct records to the public?

How America Dominates Defense Spending

Matthew Yglesias: “This map, found in Bank of America’s “Transforming World” atlas, dramatizes exactly how enormous our defense budget is in context:”

“Not only does the US defense budget equal about half the world’s total military spending, but a huge chunk of the rest of the total is spent by close American allies. Russia’s military spending, for example, is dwarfed by the combined commitments of the UK, France, and Germany. North Korea’s military spending looks like a tiny pimple sitting on the top of South Korea’s head.”

Only 5 States Limit Police Seizure of Personal Property

Vox: “Only five states prevent police from taking and keeping your stuff without charging you for a crime: Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, and North Carolina.”

“The rest fully allow what’s known as ‘civil forfeiture’: Police officers can seize someone’s property without proving the person was guilty of a crime; they just need probable cause to believe the assets are being used as part of criminal activity, typically drug trafficking. Police can then absorb the value of this property — be it cash, cars, guns, or something else — as profit, either through state programs or under a federal program known as Equitable Sharing that lets local and state police get up to 80 percent of the value of what they seize as money for their departments.”

civil forfeiture map

“Critics have long argued that civil forfeiture allows law enforcement to essentially police for profit, since many of the proceeds from seizures can go back to police departments.”

Americans: Don’t Take Away My Freedoms!

Gallup: The federal government’s recent actions to limit the scope of what it can do to prevent terrorism are consistent with Americans’ preference to prioritize civil liberties over anti-terrorism efforts when the two come into conflict. Sixty-five percent of Americans say the government should take steps to prevent terrorism but not violate civil liberties, while 30% think any steps to prevent terrorism are justified, even if they violate liberties. In the first few months after 9/11, Americans were more divided on the issue.

Trend: Americans' Views of Tradeoffs Between Anti-Terrorism Efforts and Respecting Civil Liberties

Americans continue to place a greater emphasis on civil liberties even as concern about terrorism has risen amid the growing threat of ISIS.

The change in the public opinion climate, which is reflected in the views of elected representatives, may help explain why the newly passed USA Freedom Act pulls back some of the powers the Patriot Act provided to the government in its efforts to prevent terrorism.

1 in 13 Gun Killings Are Committed By Police

Christopher Ingraham: “America’s law enforcement officers have shot and killed upwards of 385 people so far this year, according to a new Washington Post investigation. That’s a rate of about 1 every 9 hours, or 2.5 shootings per day. That’s a lot compared to other countries — cops in Germany killed only 8 people in 2013-2014, for instance. British police didn’t kill anyone last year.”

“Through June 1, there have been 5,099 gun deaths in the U.S., according to up-to-date numbers maintained by the Gun Violence Archive. Based on the 385 figure, that means that American police are responsible for about 1 in every 13 gun deaths in the country, or 8 percent. The Gun Violence Archive numbers include suicide as well as homicide, so the police-involved share of gun homicides would be even larger.”

Female Soldiers Wrestle With New Roles

The New York Times writes that “even though women distinguished themselves as leaders and enlisted soldiers” in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, “many of them describe struggling with feeling they do not quite belong.”

“Women are 10 times more likely than men to have reported serious sexual harassment. Suicide has been an enormous issue across the military, particularly for white men. But Army data show that the suicide rate for female soldiers tripled during deployment, to 14 per 100,000 from 4 per 100,000 back home — unlike the rate for men, which rose more modestly.”

“As social scientists have sought to understand the increased rates of depression and suicide among enlisted women, they have looked at research on other groups at the margins of a culture, whether blacks in the Ivy League, whites attending a nonwhite high school — or women in male professions. And they have found that the mental costs borne by those in the minority are similar. Members of such groups tend to report as many insults and bad days as members of the dominant culture. But compared with the majority, they feel far less secure.”

Obama to Limit Military-Style Equipment for Police

President Obama “will ban the federal provision of some types of military-style equipment to local police departments and sharply restrict the availability of others,” the New York Times reports.

“The ban is part of Mr. Obama’s push to ease tensions between law enforcement and minority communities in reaction to the crises in Baltimore; Ferguson, Mo.; and other cities.”

Politico: “Bayonets, weaponized vehicles and grenade launchers are no longer available to local police, following a report from a presidential task force on the militarization of law enforcement released Monday. And if local cops want riot gear and other types of armored vehicles, they’re going to have to meet many new standards for training and data collection.”