Hillary Clinton Speaks at University of Minnesota – Praises Controversial Program and Law
At just before 4:00pm today at the McNamara Alumni Center of the University of Minnesota, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton outlined her plan to curb domestic radicalization and fight Daesh aka ISIS.
Clinton was introduced by former Vice-president and prolific Minnesotan Walter Mondale who gave her a resounding endorsement before the crowd of roughly 1,000. Mondale declared, “there is no one I trust more in the oval office.”
The crowd would have been larger but the campaign demands an RSVP from those interested in viewing the speech – needless to say, many were turned away at the door. One such disappointed Clinton supporter I ran into when checking in at the press table called herself “just a regular dumb person who didn’t know she had to RSVP.” She walked away clearly disheartened.
After waiting nearly 45 minutes for Clinton to reach the stage after she was scheduled to, a humorous moment broke out when a small but clever group in the audience initiated a round of applause, falsely signaling that the candidate was on her way to the podium. This was quickly met with raucous laughter when the larger audience realized it was a rouse.
The laughter and lightness quickly faded when Clinton finally made it up (a full hour after expected). She used the speech to explain the key components of her counter-terror strategy and focused keenly on the issue of domestic radicalization. While it would have been easy to point out that even after the horrendous attacks in San Bernadino, right-wing terrorism is roughly equally as deadly as Islamic extremism, the decision was made not to mention that fact.
On the more controversial side of things, Clinton spoke in favor of the USA Freedom Act which took the place of the USA PATRIOT Act and went a step further to legalize portions of the NSA’s domestic surveillance operations. She also spoke in favor of a highly suspect partnership between the Minneapolis Police Department, the local FBI office, community and business interests called the ‘Building Community Resilience Pilot Program.’
The Intercept reported on this Program in January of this year:
“FBI was leading a push to leverage community outreach for intelligence. In 2009, it launched ‘Specialized Community Outreach Teams,’ which would ‘strategically expand outreach to the Somali community to address counterterrorism-related issues’ in Minneapolis.”
“Blurring the line between [community] engagement and intelligence gathering could end up with the monitoring of innocent individuals. If past programs in this area are any guide, those concerns are well founded.” Read more here.
Clinton also spoke of the need to find a “balance” between encryption and the ability of law enforcement and the intelligence community to investigate cases of potential terrorism. In this, Clinton called for increased cooperation between Silicon Valley and the government. In labeling the increasingly discussed issue of encryption as a “tough problem,” Clinton demonstrated her position without sounding as Pro-spying as others in the presidential race. All of her talking points on encryption, surveillance and related stances went without so much as a peep from the audience.
The recent Minneapolis police killing of Jamar Clark was briefly mentioned, although Clinton did not mention him by name instead described him simply by his race. Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges was in attendance and did not receive praise from Clinton as Senators Franken and Klobuchar as well as Abdi Warsame, the first Somali-american elected to city council in Minneapolis, had. This seemed to be a delicate balancing act as it would have been difficult to speak of improved race relations while praising Mayor Hodges who has been derided for her handling of the Black Lives Matter protests over the killing of Jamar Clark.
Ted Cruz will be in Minnesota on Thursday and our election coverage will continue then.