Civil Liberties Media ArticlesExcerpts of Key Civil Liberties Media Articles in Major Media
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Whenever Chicago Police commander Jon Burge needed a confession, he would walk into the interrogation room and set down a little black box, his alleged victims would later tell prosecutors. The box had two wires and a crank. Burge ... would attach one wire to the suspect’s handcuffed ankles and the other to his manacled hands. Then [he] would place a plastic bag over the suspect’s head. Finally, he would crank his little black box and listen to the screams of pain as electricity coursed through the suspect’s body. As many as 120 African-American men on Chicago’s South Side ... were allegedly tortured by Burge between 1972 and 1991. On Tuesday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the establishment of a $5.5 million fund for these victims. Some of the men spent years on Illinois’s death row because of confessions allegedly obtained by Burge under duress. In 2003, Governor George Ryan pardoned four men on death row who claimed to have been tortured by Burge, [whom] the Chicago Police Board voted to fire [in 1993] for his alleged torture activities. [He] was allowed to keep his $4,000 per month pension. In 2002, Cook County appointed [a special prosecutor] to investigate Burge’s conduct. The investigation took four years and cost $7 million, but the 300-page report didn’t recommend bringing any charges against the former cop. The statute of limitations for the alleged crimes had expired, Egan argued.
Note: According to the Chicago Reader, Burge may have learned how to torture prisoners while serving as a soldier in Vietnam. Chicago police maintain hidden interrogation sites where brutal treatment of suspects is used to obtain criminal confessions. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about civil liberties and government corruption from reliable major media sources.
Human rights campaigners have prepared a federal lawsuit aiming to permanently shut down the bulk collection of billions of US phone records – not, this time, by the National Security Agency, but by the Drug Enforcement Agency. The program ... served as a template for the NSA’s gigantic and ongoing bulk surveillance of US phone data after 9/11. The revelation of mass phone-records collection in the so-called “war on drugs” raises new questions about whether the Obama administration or its successors believe US security agencies continue to have legal leeway for warrantless bulk surveillance on American citizens. Starting in 1992, the so-called “USTO” effort operated without judicial approval, despite the US constitution’s warrant requirement. Attorney general Eric Holder ended USTO in September 2013 out of fear of scandal following Snowden’s disclosures. While Snowden did not expose USTO, several NSA programs he has exposed referenced the DEA as an NSA partner, giving the DEA another secret pathway to massive amounts of US communications records. The warrantless bulk records collection provides prosecutors the ability to enter into evidence incriminating material that could otherwise be thrown out of court, [and] has not stopped the upward growth of domestic narcotics consumption.
Note: In order to deny due process to people accused of crimes, the DEA's Special Operations Division constructs lies about the origins of data obtained from warrantless mass surveillance. Award-winning journalists have presented powerful evidence of direct DEA and CIA involvement in and support of drug running and drug cartels. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the intelligence community.
More than 750 plaintiffs are suing the Johns Hopkins Hospital System Corp. over its role in a series of medical experiments in Guatemala in the 1940s and 1950s during which subjects were infected with venereal diseases. The lawsuit in Baltimore seeks $1 billion in damages for individuals, spouses and children of people infected with syphilis, gonorrhea and other sexually transmitted diseases through a U.S. government program between 1945 and 1956. The suit claims Johns Hopkins officials had "substantial influence" over the studies, controlling some advisory panels, and were involved in planning and authorizing the experiments. A Hopkins spokesperson ... confirmed that faculty members took part in reviewing funding applications, but said this did not warrant a lawsuit against the medical center. The statement expressed "profound sympathy for individuals and families impacted by the deplorable 1940s syphilis study conducted by the U.S. Government in Guatemala," and noted that the ethical standards for conducting medical research have changed significantly in the decades since then. It's the latest in a series of lawsuits over the studies. A federal judge in 2012 dismissed a lawsuit against the U.S. government involving the same study.
Note: Explore an excellent list of dozens of studies over the years in which humans were used unknowingly as guinea pigs in clear breach of ethical standards. Links are provided for verification of each study. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in the medical industry and in government.
Elite service members from four branches of the U.S. military will launch an operation this summer in which they will operate covertly among the U.S. public and travel from state to state in military aircraft. Texas, Utah and a section of southern California are labelled as hostile territory, and New Mexico isn’t much friendlier. That’s the scheme for Jade Helm 15, a new Special Operations exercise that runs from July 15 to Sept. 15. Army Special Operations Command announced it last week, saying the size and scope of the mission sets it apart from many other training exercises. The exercise has prompted widespread conspiracy theories that the United States is preparing to hatch martial law. In particular, some have expressed alarm about this map, which outlines events for the exercise in unclassified documents posted online last week. The Washington Post verified them to be legitimate by speaking to Army sources. They appear to have been prepared for local authorities. It’s also worth noting that the military has routinely launched exercises in the past in which regions of the United States are identified as hostile for the purpose of training.
Note: This Washington Post article is clearly playing down some important facts and developments. Why is the US military spending so much time and money preparing for scenarios where US soil and citizens are considered enemies? Read and educate yourself with this excellent article on Operation Jade Helm 15, one in a string of US exercises planning for mass civilian arrests under a variety of scenarios.
When Yonas Fikre stepped off a luxury private jet at Portland airport last month, the only passenger on a $200,000 flight from Sweden, he braced for the worst. The 36-year-old Eritrean-born American was finally back in Portland at the end of a five-year odyssey that began with a simple business trip but landed him in an Arab prison where he alleges he was tortured at the behest of US anti-terrorism officials because he refused to become an informant at his mosque in Oregon. Fikre is suing the FBI, two of its agents and other American officials for allegedly putting him on the US’s no-fly list – a roster of suspected terrorists barred from taking commercial flights – to pressure him to collaborate. When that failed, the lawsuit said, the FBI had him arrested, interrogated and tortured for 106 days in the United Arab Emirates. As shocking as the claims are, they are not the first to emanate from worshippers at Fikre’s mosque in Portland, where at least nine members have been barred from flying by the US authorities. “The no-fly list gives the FBI an extrajudicial tool to coerce Muslims to become informants,” said Gadeir Abbas, a lawyer who represents other clients on the list. “There’s definitely a cluster of cases like this at the FBI’s Portland office. Fikre has not been charged with any terrorism related crimes or even questioned as a potential threat on his return to the US. He remains on the no-fly list.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing articles about questionable intelligence agency practices from reliable sources.
A powerful new surveillance tool being adopted by police departments across the country comes with an unusual requirement: To buy it, law enforcement officials must sign a nondisclosure agreement preventing them from saying almost anything about the technology. Any disclosure about the technology, which tracks cellphones and is often called StingRay, could allow criminals and terrorists to circumvent it, the F.B.I. has said in an affidavit. But the tool is adopted in such secrecy that communities are not always sure what they are buying or whether the technology could raise serious privacy concerns. What has opponents particularly concerned about StingRay is that the technology, unlike other phone surveillance methods, can also scan all the cellphones in the area where it is being used, not just the target phone. “It’s scanning the area. What is the government doing with that information?” said Linda Lye, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, which in 2013 sued the Justice Department to force it to disclose more about the technology. In November, in a response to the lawsuit, the government said it had asked the courts to allow the technology to capture content, not just identify subscriber location.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the erosion of privacy rights from reliable major media sources.
An undercover police unit that monitored political groups over 40 years gathered intelligence on members of at least five trade unions, a whistleblower has revealed. Peter Francis, who spent four years undercover infiltrating political activists, has named five trade unions whose members he spied on: Unison, the Fire Brigades Union, Communication Workers Union, National Union of Teachers, and the National Union of Students. Francis, who has become a whistleblower in recent years ... was part of the covert Metropolitan police unit, the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), that monitored hundreds of political groups between 1968 and 2008. Francis gave a statement to a packed meeting in Parliament that marked the launch of a new book about the blacklisting of thousands of workers by multi-national construction firms. This month, the Daily Mirror revealed that one of the undercover officers in the SDS, Mark Jenner, posed as a joiner and was a member of the construction workers union, UCATT, for three years. Jenner’s involvement in trade unions is detailed here by the Undercover Research Group, a resource on covert infiltration of political groups. It describes how he attended meetings of UCATT and other unions, regularly went on pickets and ferried trade unionists to demonstrations. In his statement ... Francis said, ”Let me state very clearly that Mark Jenner was 100% one of my fellow undercover SDS police officers deployed alongside me in the 1990s.”
Note: While undercover, Mark Jenner had a four-year relationship with a woman who did not know his real identity. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
A group of top American intellectuals have volunteered to "take" the 1,000 lash sentence imposed by the Saudi government on a prominent liberal blogger. Raif Badawi ... received the sentence for insulting his country's hardline Islamic clerics. The move, which follows widespread international outrage at the sentence, is being led by Robert P. George, a leading professor at Princeton University. Professor George said: "Together with six colleagues on the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, I sent a letter to the Saudi Ambassador to the US calling on the Saudi government to stop the horrific torture of Raif Badawi — an advocate of religious freedom and freedom of expression in the Saudi Kingdom. If the Saudi government refuses, we each asked to take 100 of Mr. Badawi's lashes so that we could suffer with him. The seven of us include Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, Christians, Jews, and a Muslim." Mr Badawi, 31, who set up a liberal website to discuss Saudi politics in which he criticised the country’s hardline religious establishment, has been sentenced to ten years in prison as well as 1,000 lashes. So harsh is the flogging that it has to be administered in individual sessions of 50 lashes a time in order to stop the recipient dying or suffering serious injury during the process. The first bout of 50 lashes was dished out to Mr Badawi on January 9, before hundreds of spectators in a public square in front of a mosque in the Red Sea city of Jeddah. The date for a second set of lashes has so far been postponed as doctors have said that Mr Badawi's injuries from the first flogging have not yet healed.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
The FBI and major media outlets yesterday trumpeted the ... latest counterterrorism triumph: the arrest of three Brooklyn men, ages 19 to 30, on charges of conspiring to travel to Syria to fight for ISIS. It appears that none of the three men was in any condition to travel or support the Islamic State, without help from the FBI informant. One of the frightening terrorist villains told the FBI informant that, beyond having no money, he had encountered a significant problem in following through on the FBI’s plot: his mom had taken away his passport. In this regard, this latest arrest appears to be quite similar to the overwhelming majority of terrorism arrests the FBI has proudly touted over the last decade. These cases ... end up sending young people to prison for decades for “crimes” which even their sentencing judges acknowledge they never would have seriously considered, let alone committed, in the absence of FBI trickery. We’re constantly bombarded with dire warnings about the grave threat of [terrorism]. But how serious of a threat can all of this be, at least domestically, if the FBI continually has to resort to manufacturing its own plots by trolling the Internet in search of young drifters and/or the mentally ill whom they target? Shouldn’t there be actual plots, ones that are created and fueled without the help of the FBI? The Justice Department is aggressively pressuring U.S. allies to employ these same entrapment tactics in order to create their own terrorists, who can then be paraded around as proof of the grave threat. The FBI’s terrorism strategy — keep fear alive — drives everything they do.
Note: Human Rights Watch has documented the government manufacture of fake "terrorism" plots being used to keep fear alive in war on terror. There is even evidence that the 1993 World Trade Center bombing was an F.B.I. entrapment plan gone awry. In 2012, the New York Times exposed the pattern of F.B.I. entrapment used to produce these fake "terrorism" plots. How can corrupt intelligence agencies continue to blatantly manipulate public perception like this?
The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound. The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Police practices at Homan Square [allegedly] include: Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases; Beating by police, resulting in head wounds; Shackling for prolonged periods; Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility; Holding people [as young as 15] without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours. Unlike a precinct, no one taken to Homan Square is said to be booked. Jacob Church learned about Homan Square the hard way. On May 16 2012, he and 11 others were taken there after police infiltrated their protest against the Nato summit. After serving two and a half years in prison, Church ... and his co-defendants were found not guilty in 2014 of terrorism-related offenses. Tracy Siska, a criminologist and civil-rights activist with the Chicago Justice Project, said that Homan Square, as well as the unrelated case of ex-Guantánamo interrogator and retired Chicago detective Richard Zuley, showed the lines blurring between domestic law enforcement and overseas military operations. “The real danger in allowing practices like Guantánamo or Abu Ghraib is the fact that they ... creep into domestic law enforcement, either with weaponry like with the militarization of police, or interrogation practices. That’s how we ended up with a black site in Chicago.”
Note: Church was one of three young activists charged with 'terrorism' after police manufactured evidence against peaceful Occupy Wall St protesters in Chicago in 2012. For more, read about the increasing militarization of police in the U.S. after 9/11, or see concise summaries of deeply revealing civil liberties news articles.
The recent release of a landmark report on the history of lynching in the United States is a welcome contribution to the struggle over American collective memory. One dimension of mob violence that is often overlooked, however, is that lynchers targeted many other racial and ethnic minorities in the United States, including Native Americans, Italians, Chinese and, especially, Mexicans. Americans are largely unaware that Mexicans were frequently the targets of lynch mobs, from the mid-19th century until well into the 20th century, second only to African-Americans in the scale and scope of the crimes. From 1848 to 1928, mobs murdered thousands of Mexicans. These lynchings occurred not only in the southwestern states of Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas, but also in states far from the border, like Nebraska and Wyoming. Some of these cases did appear in press accounts, when reporters depicted them as violent public spectacles, as they did with many lynchings of African-Americans in the South. The story of mob violence against Mexicans in the Southwest compels us to rethink the history of lynching. Southern blacks were the group most often targeted, but comparing the histories of the South and the West strengthens our understanding of mob violence in both.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing civil liberties news articles from reliable major media sources.
Pete Seeger, composer of classic American folk tunes including "If I Had a Hammer" and "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?", was spied on by FBI agents for more than two decades because he wrote a protest letter as a young man concerned about plans to deport tens of thousands of Japanese American citizens at the end of the second world war. A vast file on Seeger was released ... in response to a request under the freedom of information act. The bureau’s spies first took an interest in the singer in 1943, [and continued] into the early 1970s. The suspicion was that Seeger, who died in early 2014, was a security risk with close connections to the Communist party. The FBI file on him has nearly 1,800 pages – 90 of them are still withheld for security reasons. Throughout the 1950s, when Seeger was part of the Weavers folk group, the bureau commissioned hundreds of reports on him. As the Weavers scored chart hits, Seeger was blacklisted for his suspected Communist party links. In 1955 he was called before the House Committee on un-American Activities and asked if he was a communist. “I am not going to answer any questions as to my associations, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs or how I voted in any election or any of these private affairs,” Seeger replied. Two years later he was cited for contempt of Congress and then, four years later, found guilty and sentenced to a year in prison. Let free on bail, Seeger’s conviction was overturned a year later.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing intelligence agency corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Russia, the United States, Japan and many parts of Europe lost ground last year in its ranking of global press freedoms. The rise of non-state groups, crackdowns on demonstrations, wars and economic crises provided a backdrop for a tough 2014. The Paris-based media watchdog [Reporters Without Borders] said two-thirds of the 180 countries surveyed in its annual World Press Freedom index scored worse than a year earlier. Western Europe, while top-ranked, lost the most ground as a region. Three Nordic countries headed the list, but there was slippage in Italy — where Mafia and other threats weighed on journalists — and Iceland, where the relationship between the media and politicians soured. The U.S. fell three places to 49th amid a “war on information” by the Obama administration. Reporters also faced difficulty covering events like demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri, where black teen Michael Brown was shot dead in August by a white police officer. Russia dropped two notches to 152nd place after passing “draconian laws” to limit freedom of information, the group said. Legislation allowing access to information helped Mongolia jump 34 spots — the highest single advance — to 54th place. China, Iran and North Korea all remained among the 10 lowest-ranked countries. The group uses seven criteria to calculate its index — measures for media independence, the diversity of opinions expressed, self-censorship, transparency, abuses and the legislative environment.
Note: For more on ongoing threats to press freedom, see concise summaries of deeply revealing media manipulation stories from reliable sources.
The Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala., released a report on the history of lynchings in the United States. The authors of the report compiled an inventory of 3,959 victims of “racial terror lynchings” in 12 Southern states from 1877 to 1950. Next comes the process of selecting lynching sites where the organization plans to erect markers and memorials, which will involve significant fund-raising, negotiations with distrustful landowners and, almost undoubtedly, intense controversy. The process is intended, [Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan] Stevenson said, to force people to reckon with the narrative through-line of the country’s vicious racial history, rather than thinking of that history in a short-range, piecemeal way. “Lynching and the terror era shaped the geography, politics, economics and social characteristics of being black in America during the 20th century,” Mr. Stevenson said, arguing that many participants in the great migration from the South should be thought of as refugees fleeing terrorism rather than people simply seeking work. The lynching report is part of a longer project Mr. Stevenson began several years ago. One phase involved the erection of historical markers about the extensive slave markets in Montgomery. The city and state governments were not welcoming of the markers, despite the abundance of Civil War and civil rights movement memorials in Montgomery, but Mr. Stevenson is planning to do the same thing elsewhere.
Note: See just how widespread historic racial violence was on this interactive map of lynchings developed from the Equal Justice Initiative report. Then read about the black policeman who has been subjected to a "stop and frisk" search 30 times. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing civil liberties news articles from reliable major media sources.
Guantánamo Diary ... in which Guantanamo detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi tells of his odyssey through overseas prisons and his torture and abuse by the US and its counterterrorism allies, is pockmarked with redactions left by military censors. The diary was finally published last week. Slahi, a 44-year-old Mauritanian educated in Germany, was rendered by the CIA to prison in Jordan in late 2001, then held by the U.S. in Afghanistan and Guantanamo. The U.S. has never charged him with a crime. By the time the editor Larry Siems got hold of the manuscript in 2012, volumes of information about Slahi’s case had come into the public record. In 2006, the government released transcripts from hearings evaluating prisoners’ detention status, Slahi’s among them. Reports from the Justice Department and the Senate Armed Services Committee detailed his interrogation. Siems was able to cross-reference these materials to establish the chronology of Slahi’s narrative, in which all dates have been redacted. Journalists have not been allowed to speak directly to current detainees. For Larry Siems, censorship is at the core of Slahi’s story, and while the redactions sometimes impede his narrative, they serve a literary function as well. “Secrecy was imposed in order for abuse to happen, and then more secrecy was imposed in order to cover it up,” said Siems. “The redactions are like the fingerprints of that longstanding censorship regime.”
Note: Despite U.S. officials acknowledging that many Guantanamo detainees pose no real threat to society, prisoners like Slahi continue to be detained as part of the ineffective but profitable war on terror.
The outrageous legal attack on WikiLeaks and its staffers ... is an attack on freedom of the press itself. WikiLeaks has had their Twitter accounts secretly spied on, been forced to forfeit most of their funding after credit card companies unilaterally cut them off, had the FBI place an informant inside their news organization, watched their supporters hauled before a grand jury, and been the victim of the UK spy agency GCHQ hacking of their website and spying on their readers. Now we’ve learned that, as The Guardian reported on Sunday, the Justice Department got a warrant in 2012 to seize the contents – plus the metadata on emails received, sent, drafted and deleted – of three WikiLeaks’ staffers personal Gmail accounts. The tactics used against WikiLeaks by the Justice Department in their war on leaks [are] also used against mainstream news organizations. For example, after the Washington Post revealed in 2013 the Justice Department had gotten a warrant for the personal Gmail account of Fox News reporter James Rosen in 2010 without his knowledge. Despite the ongoing legal pressure, WikiLeaks has continued to publish important documents in the public interest.
Note: In recent years, Wikileaks' radical transparency has made draft texts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership public, and uncovered a secret CIA report that suggests the US government’s policy of assassinating foreign 'terrorists' does more harm than good. So who is the real problem here?
Journalist and former Anonymous member ... Barrett Brown was sentenced to 63 months in prison by a federal judge in Dallas on Thursday. The judge also ordered him to pay more than $890,000 in restitution and fines. An investigative journalist, essayist and satirist who has written for the Onion, Vanity Fair and the Huffington Post, as well as for the Guardian, Brown claims to have split with Anonymous in 2011. Brown also founded Project PM, a crowdsourced investigative thinktank dedicated to looking into abuses by companies in the area of surveillance. In September 2012, Brown was arrested by the FBI. In October 2012, after being held for two weeks without charge, he was indicted on charges of making an online threat, retaliating against a federal officer and conspiring to release personal information about a government employee. Two months later, he was indicted on 12 further charges related to the hacking of private intelligence contractor Stratfor in 2011. Jeremy Hammond, the hacker who actually carried out the Stratfor breach, was sentenced to the maximum possible 10 years. Brown, who was accused of sharing a link to the data Hammond obtained from the breach ... at one point faced a possible sentence of 105 years. He will reportedly be eligible for supervised release after one year, and once released will have his computer equipment monitored. The $890,250 in restitution payments will go to Stratfor and other companies targeted by Anonymous.
Note: Even after being targeted by a high level conspiracy, jailed on spurious charges, and forced to pay nearly a million dollars to Stratfor for merely writing about the hack of their private spy agency, Brown states that he remains committed to exposing corruption as a journalist from within the US prison system.
At least 50 U.S. law enforcement agencies have secretly equipped their officers with radar devices that allow them to effectively peer through the walls of houses to see whether anyone is inside. Those agencies, including the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service, began deploying the radar systems more than two years ago with little notice to the courts and no public disclosure of when or how they would be used. The technology raises legal and privacy issues because the U.S. Supreme Court has said officers generally cannot use high-tech sensors to tell them about the inside of a person's house without first obtaining a search warrant. The radars work like finely tuned motion detectors, using radio waves to zero in on movements as slight as human breathing from a distance of more than 50 feet. They can detect whether anyone is inside of a house, where they are and whether they are moving. The device the Marshals Service and others are using [was] first designed for use in Iraq and Afghanistan. They represent the latest example of battlefield technology finding its way home to civilian policing and bringing complex legal questions with it. Those concerns are especially thorny when it comes to technology that lets the police determine what's happening inside someone's home.
Note: This technology is not new. Working as interpreter in Washington, DC, WantToKnow.info founder Fred Burks witnessed this technology being used by the police there in the late 1980s. For more along these lines, see this deeply revealing summarized NPR report about The Pentagon's massive Program 1033 to widely distribute military hardware to domestic police forces.
A man is given 50 lashes in a public square for "insulting Islam" on a liberal blog. Another is arrested for filming and uploading a woman's public beheading. Two females are imprisoned and put on trial for writing on Twitter in support of women driving. The cases are part of a sweeping clampdown on dissent. Acts that offend the country's religious hard-liners or open up the kingdom to criticism â€” like the video of the execution of a woman convicted of murdering her stepdaughter â€” have landed people in jail as a warning to others. The case of Raif Badawi, a 31-year-old father of three who was flogged this month, has attracted the most attention in recent days, particularly in the aftermath of the deadly attack in Paris. Badawi was arrested in 2012 after writing articles critical of Saudi Arabia's clerics on his Free Saudi Liberals blog. He was sentenced in May to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes and was fined $266,000. Just days after the attacks in Paris, Saudi Arabia's minister of state for foreign affairs took part in the huge march that was held there to support free speech and honor the victims. Two days earlier, Badawi was flogged [for "insulting Islam" on his blog]. Critics of the crackdown on dissent point out that public beheadings are also practiced by al-Qaida and IS.
Note: Saudi Arabia continues to be a key ally of the US. Is this really what we want to support? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about civil liberties from reliable major media sources.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Friday barred local and state police from using [a civil asset forfeiture program at the Justice Department called Equitable Sharing] to seize cash, cars and other property without warrants or criminal charges. The program has enabled local and state police to make seizures and then have them â€śadoptedâ€ť by federal agencies, which share in the proceeds. It allowed police ... to keep up to 80 percent of the proceeds of adopted seizures. Since 2001, about 7,600 of the nationâ€™s 18,000 police departments and task forces have participated in Equitable Sharing. For hundreds of police departments and sheriffâ€™s offices, the seizure proceeds accounted for 20 percent or more of their annual budgets in recent years. The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security paid private firms millions to train local and state officers in the techniques of an aggressive brand of policing [that] emphasized the importance of targeting cash. Most of the money and property taken under Equitable Sharing since 2008 â€” $3 billion out of $5.3 billion â€” was not seized in collaboration with federal authorities. The Treasury Department is also changing its asset forfeiture program to follow the same guideline included in Holderâ€™s order, the statement said.
Note: While civil asset forfeiture may remain common in some U.S. states, Holder's announcement means that police can no longer pad their departmental budgets with this federal program. A Washington Post investigation and an Institute for Justice Study were instrumental in exposing this program's corrupting influence.
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.