Under new guidelines, the FBI is instructing high school students across the country to report fellow students who criticize government policies and “western corruption” as potential future terrorists, warning that they may be in the same category as ISIS and “anarchist extremists.” They also warn that young people who are poor, immigrants or travel to “suspicious” countries are more likely to commit violence.
Based on the widely unpopular British “anti-terror” mass surveillance program, the FBI’s “Preventing Violent Extremism in Schools” guidelines, seem designed to single out Muslim American students. However, to avoid the appearance of discrimination, the agency identifies risk factors that are so broad and vague that virtually any young person could be deemed dangerous and worthy of surveillance, especially if he is socio-economically marginalized or politically outspoken.
The guidelines depict high schools as hotbeds of extremism, where dangers exist in every corner. High school students are seen as ideal targets for recruitment by violent extremists for their radical ideologies. This puts animal rights and environmental activists, alongside white supremacy and ISIS extremists, all as possible agents of terror.
Muslim communities and human rights campaigners have raised profound concerns about such “overbroad” national security programs and the civil rights violations they support. Such mass-surveillance programs tend to stigmatize, divide, and marginalize individuals and communities. The lineage of this model can be traced back to the “red scare” and Hoover ‘s crackdown on civil rights and anti-war activists. Scholarly research shows that this approach causes more social harm than good.
Source: Sarah Lazare, “The FBI Has a New Plan to Spy on High School Students Across the Country” AlterNet, March 2, 2016 http://www.alternet.org/grayzone-project/fbi-has-new-plan-spy-high-school-students-across-country
Student Researcher: Brandy Miceli, San Francisco State University
Faculty Evaluator: Kenn Burrows, San Francisco State University