By Matthew Rothschild on October 15, 2010

Yesterday, I wrote about the FBI placing a GPS tracking device on the car of Yasir Afifi, an Arab American in California.

Today, I learned about a similar story.

Veena Dubal, a staff attorney with the Asian Law Caucus, based in San Francisco, tells me that she has a client who found such a tracking device in his car in June 2009.

“I have an elderly Arab American client who was attending a free workshop on how to be a mechanic, and they were using his car as the demonstration car for an oil change,” she says. “In the middle of the class, the instructor stopped and said, ‘Oh my God, there’s a bomb in the car.’ So everyone evacuated. But it wasn’t a bomb. It was a tracking device. You can imagine how humiliating this was for my client. Everyone was looking at him like he was a terrorist and like he was going to blow them up.”

Her client, a retired social worker and a U.S. citizen, pulled the tracking device off the car and took the battery out.

A few days later, he took his car to a professional mechanic at Carlos Auto Repair in San Rafael.

“He came by one day and we worked on his car,” says Jorge Nogueiro, one of the owners of the shop. “And then a few weeks later some San Rafael undercover police came by and were looking for his car and his tracking device. They left me their card. The next day, the car owner stopped by, and I told them the police were looking for him. He said, ‘I’ll be damned.’ ”

Nogueiro says he felt like he was put on the spot, since he’d told the police he’d notify them if the car owner returned. “So, while he was here, I called them back,” Nogueiro says. “And they were here in a second. They grabbed that thing like it was yesterday. They said, ‘It’s ours. We’re taking it.’ There was no giving it back.”

Attorney Dubal says she has filed a Freedom of Information Act request and a California Public Records Act request on her client’s behalf but both “came back with nothing.” She also has written a complaint to the San Rafael police department, she says.

I called the San Rafael police department but was told that there was no one there who could help me about her complaint.

Dubal says the police and the FBI may be placing these tracking devices on a lot of Arab Americans’ cars. “It’s awful,” she says. “It’s really scary. And it disrupts a reasonable person’s expectations of privacy.”

Her client, she says, “has no criminal record. All that he has is a speeding ticket. He’s an upstanding citizen, a very sweet older man. But he’s facing a lot of harassment that is ostensibly legal but is certainly un-American.”

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his other "McCarthyism Watch" pieces by clicking here.

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This Halloween movie will scare anyone who cares about news.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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