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US Lawmaker Cited NYC Protests in a Defense of Warrantless Spying

Written by teobrito.com

The second slide in Turner’s presentation featured the tweet by Foldi, which likewise references a march on Schumer’s home. That protest, however, took place nearly a month after the first. HPSCI’s claim that Hamas may have incited the demonstration appears solely based on this remark by Foldi, who claims the protesters were responding to a call issued by a pro-Palestinian group known as Samidoun.

However, that wasn’t the case.

The only evidence of the Palestinian group’s involvement is that the protest was included on a calendar maintained by Samidoun on its website. The calendar currently lists more than 5,000 protests that have taken place around the world, from Australia and England to Finland, Nigeria, Iceland, and Japan. The same site bears a disclaimer that notes the list includes protests not organized by Samidoun, and visitors are encouraged to submit details about events being organized in their respective countries.

Foldi went on to portray Samidoun as having been “banned from Germany and booted from numerous payment processors over suspicions of acting as a Hamas front group.”

A German branch of Samidoun was dissolved in November, but not as a result of evidence it had ties to Hamas. Rather, the group, formed to protest the imprisonment of Palestinians, was accused of spreading “anti-Jewish conspiracy theories,” an allegation that the organizers vehemently deny, while noting their ranks boast many Jewish members.

For obvious reasons, Germany has some of the strictest antisemitism laws in the world, enabling Berlin to issue blanket bans against protests aimed at raising awareness of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Such bans would be unlawful in the United States under its constitution.

Branches of Samidoun have also faced bans by payment processors overseas. This also happens frequently in the United States. The bar for being banned by a payment process is notably far below having terrorism ties.

Payment processors last year severed ties with a French branch of the group, known as Collectif Palestine Vaincra, a result of the French government attempting to dissolve the organization under allegations it was “anti-Jewish.” This attempt was blocked by a French court in May, however, after it found the Macron government’s allegations of “antisemitism” against the group “unfounded.”

Neither Foldi nor Samidoun immediately responded to requests for comment.

That the chairman of a US intelligence committee chose such questionable examples during a presentation aimed at garnering support for a US surveillance authority gave many Republican staffers pause.

None of the House sources who spoke to WIRED work for lawmakers that could be credibly accused of showing anything but support for the Israeli government. Yet all agreed the issue of domestic surveillance transcends political ideology—one of the purest examples of the “pendulum politics” that define America’s two-party system.

“What we know for sure is this,” a Republican aide says, “However the government decides to treat left-wing protesters today, that’s how we should expect protesters in our party to be treated under future administrations.”

A House Democratic staffer—half-jokingly referencing the Cold War doctrine of “mutually assured annihilation”—says that they agreed “wholeheartedly” with the sentiment. “Our fates are aligned,” they say. “That’s the best defense we have.”

“Political protest is literally how America was founded. It’s in our DNA,” says Jason Pye, senior policy analyst at the nonprofit FreedomWorks. “Whether you agree with these protestors or not is irrelevant.”

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