FBI Turns to Monitoring Grocery Purchases While LAPD Maps Muslim Neithborhoods

Out in California, menu mapping is now is place. Law Prof Eric Muller has the details.

This month, reports have surfaced about two controversial counterterrorism initiatives in California. In one, Congressional Quarterly's national security editor reported that the FBI had mined data from San Francisco grocery stores to look for spikes in sales of Middle Eastern food that, together with other data, might imply the presence of extremists. In the other, the Los Angeles Police Department is using census and other demographic data to map Muslim communities in order to pinpoint the neighborhoods of potential extremists.

Eric calls it "tahini mapping" and explains why this is the repeat of a 60 year old mistake that will inflame communities and not make us any safer.

As for the LAPD's neighborhood mapping: [More...]

To be sure, the Los Angeles Police Department maintains that it is mapping Muslim neighborhoods to help their residents, not arrest them. The idea is to identify hot spots of discontent where extremism might grow, and then to increase social services to those neighborhoods in order to combat radicalization.

In principle, this strategy is sensible. But the residents of these neighborhoods have already seen six years of suspicion and scrutiny, and they are not likely to appreciate the principle. They're likely to see the mapping project as a prelude not to assistance but to repression.

Neighborhood mapping sounds Giuliani-esque to me. That's not surprising, since the LAPD Commissioner is Bill Bratton, who was the architect of New York City's crime reduction plan under Giuliani which used similar mapping tactics. But in New York they went after crime hot spots, not Muslim residential hot spots. This plan is awful and sets a dangerous precedent.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Breaking news: Large sales of Twinkies noted (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Dadler on Wed Nov 14, 2007 at 12:37:56 PM EST
    The jihadis are loading up with murder cakes.

    These guys are dangerous killers (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Edger on Wed Nov 14, 2007 at 12:41:07 PM EST
    They have an unlimited supply of DU dust that they can shovel up from all over Iraq. They can sprinkle it on pizza and beer and sell it to wingnuts.

    Talk about dirty bombs. Jeeze. (none / 0) (#8)
    by Edger on Wed Nov 14, 2007 at 12:59:48 PM EST
    In one end, and exploding out the other end.

    They noticed a spike in sudephrine (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Nov 14, 2007 at 12:42:20 PM EST
    sales in my home town this past week and went into full-on crystal meth interdiction mode.

    Too bad it was just me dealing with my raging head cold...


    That's stupid... (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by desertswine on Wed Nov 14, 2007 at 12:53:59 PM EST
    Don't they already have maps of their own cities?  How do they find anything?

    I think you'll have a hard time finding takers (none / 0) (#2)
    by Edger on Wed Nov 14, 2007 at 11:53:15 AM EST
    to bet against you.

    I'm all for tahini mapping. Hummus mapping too. (none / 0) (#3)
    by jerry on Wed Nov 14, 2007 at 12:05:29 PM EST
    Seriously, I never know where the good middle eastern and greek restaurants are.  I'd love to see a google maps mobile version of this.

    do muslim extremists (none / 0) (#9)
    by cpinva on Wed Nov 14, 2007 at 01:32:55 PM EST
    eat more of certain kinds of foods than non-extremist muslims do? maybe really spicy stuff, to get the adrenalin going for a full-on terror attack? how do they distinguish between pre-terrorist attack mode, and just a really good sale on falafel?

    people want to know!

    Everyone in the city (none / 0) (#10)
    by Lora on Wed Nov 14, 2007 at 07:21:03 PM EST
    ...ought to go down and buy tahini and hummus in solidarity with their Middle Eastern neighbors.

    And have it delivered (none / 0) (#11)
    by Edger on Wed Nov 14, 2007 at 08:51:59 PM EST
    to any wingnut neighbors they might have.

    A Rate system (none / 0) (#12)
    by koshembos on Wed Nov 14, 2007 at 09:51:51 PM EST
    Tahini - 5 years in jail
    Humus - 6
    Baba Ghanosh - 10
    Burgul - 10
    falafel (see Olberman) - 20

    Yes But (none / 0) (#13)
    by squeaky on Wed Nov 14, 2007 at 10:24:30 PM EST
    If you also buy bacon with your order,  you're OK.

    grocery mapping (none / 0) (#14)
    by Kaviraj on Sun Dec 02, 2007 at 09:40:30 AM EST
    either the CIA is getting into the diet market or they are getting crazy.
    we should all go and buy "muslim' food - then they have their looked-for spike. then see what happens  - very scary.