On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, it’s worth noting how much we’ve lost – not just measured in the human lives and families forever affected – but also in terms of our privacy and civil liberties. G.W. Schulz, Daniel Zwerdling, and Andrew Becker report:
On May 1, 2008, at 4:59 p.m., Brad Kleinerman entered the spooky world of homeland security.
As he shopped for a children’s watch inside the sprawling Mall of America, two security guards approached and began questioning him. Although he was not accused of wrongdoing, the guards wrote a confidential report about Kleinerman that was sent to police.
The reason: Guards thought the Avon, Conn., man might pose a threat because he looked at them in a suspicious way.
The episode is one of many cases in which seemingly innocent people have been ensnared by the mall’s counterterrorism initiative, an investigation by the Center for Investigative Reporting and National Public Radio has found.
In many cases, information about people stopped at the mall has found its way into the hands of law enforcement without their knowledge. The information in reports obtained by reporters includes birth dates, employer names, Social Security numbers, and names of family members and friends. Some reports contain shoppers’ travel plans and surveillance images.
Nearly two-thirds of the people mentioned in more than 100 reports were minorities.
The Center for Investigative Reporting and NPR obtained 125 suspicious activity reports totaling more than 1,000 pages referring to the mall and dating back to 2005. Bloomington police and a state intelligence center released the reports under the state public records law. It’s unclear how many other reports may have been shared with law enforcement.
Read more on the Star Tribune.