Civil Liberties Media Articles
Excerpts of Key Civil Liberties Media Articles from Major Media
Below are many highly revealing excerpts of important civil liberties articles reported in the mainstream media suggesting a cover-up.
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Jose Padilla lawsuit against Pentagon thrown out in US
A US judge has quashed a lawsuit by an American who said he was illegally detained and repeatedly tortured for three years in a US navy jail. Jose Padilla was seeking to sue current US Defence Secretary Robert Gates and his predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, for violating the constitution. Judge Richard Gergel ruled that US laws did not offer clear guidelines on the detention of enemy combatants. Any trial, he wrote, would be "an international spectacle with Padilla, a convicted terrorist, summoning America's present and former leaders to a federal courthouse to answer his charges". Ben Wizner, the litigation director at the American Civil Liberties Union, called Thursday's ruling "troubling". "The court today held that Donald Rumsfeld is above the law and Jose Padilla is beneath it," he said in a statement. "But if the law does not protect Jose Padilla, it protects none of us, and the executive branch can simply label citizens enemies of the state and strip them of all rights, including the absolute right not to be tortured."
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on government threats to civil liberties, click here.
Exclusive video of HPD beating of teen burglar
2011-02-03, KTRK-TV (Houston ABC affiliate)
Months after four Houston police officers were indicted following the violent videotaped arrest of a teenage suspect ... 13 Undercover's Wayne Dolcefino obtained it exclusively. The reaction was overwhelming. The images were clear and graphic -- Houston police kicking, punching, and stomping teenage burglary suspect Chad Holley who had run, but was now clearly trying to surrender. The video showed the most physical cop that March day appeared to be Raad Hassan. His termination letter listed 15 kicks. There were a lot of them, and there was one kick after Holley was clearly handcuffed. The video created another firestorm ... after the mayor declared [that] the person who gave us the video should be prosecuted. The mayor said Channel 13 was "irresponsible" for showing you a controversial police arrest that happened ten months ago. Twelve officers were disciplined in the wake of the Holley case, but many have been given their jobs back against the city's will.
Note: Click on the above link if you want to see this shocking video showing how brutal some police can be.
FBI involved in hundreds of violations in national security investigations
2011-01-30, Los Angeles Times
The FBI disclosed to a presidential board that it was involved in nearly 800 violations of laws, regulations or policies governing national security investigations from 2001 to 2008, but the government won't provide details or say whether anyone was disciplined, according to a report by a privacy watchdog group. The San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation sued under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain about 2,500 documents that the FBI submitted to the President's Intelligence Oversight Board. Most of the records were so heavily censored that they couldn't be properly evaluated. Nevertheless, the documents "constitute the most complete picture of post-9/11 FBI intelligence abuses available to the public," says the report. "The documents suggest," the report says, "that FBI intelligence investigations have compromised the civil liberties of American citizens far more frequently, and to a greater extent, than was previously assumed." The records obtained by the foundation go beyond national security letters. About a third of the reports of violations involved rules governing internal oversight of intelligence investigations, and about a fifth involved potential violations of the Constitution, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or other laws governing criminal investigations or intelligence-gathering activities, the report says.
Note: For lots more from major media sources on government attacks on civil liberties, click here.
The Day Part of the Internet Died: Egypt Goes Dark
2011-01-28, ABC News/Associated Press
About a half-hour past midnight [on January 28] in Egypt, the Internet went dead. Almost simultaneously, the handful of companies that pipe the Internet into and out of Egypt went dark as protesters were gearing up for a fresh round of demonstrations calling for the end of President Hosni Mubarak's nearly 30-year rule, experts said. Egypt has apparently done what many technologists thought was unthinkable for any country with a major Internet economy: It unplugged itself entirely from the Internet to try and silence dissent. Experts say it's unlikely that what's happened in Egypt could happen in the United States because the U.S. has numerous Internet providers and ways of connecting to the Internet. Coordinating a simultaneous shutdown would be a massive undertaking. But the idea of a single "kill switch" to turn the Internet on and off has seduced some American lawmakers, who have pushed for the power to shutter the Internet in a national emergency. The Internet blackout in Egypt shows that a country with strong control over its Internet providers apparently can force all of them to pull their plugs at once. It also sets a precedent for other countries grappling with paralyzing political protests — though censoring the Internet and tampering with traffic to quash protests is nothing new.
Note: For information on how a Israeli company bought out by Boeing facilitated the shutdown of the Internet in Egypt, click here. And to learn about a bill being proposed which would give the US president power over an Internet "kill switch," click here.
UN human rights official claims 9/11 was US plot
2011-01-25, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
A UN human rights official has been roundly condemned for suggesting that the US government may have orchestrated the September 11 terrorist attacks. Richard Falk, a retired professor from Princeton University, wrote on his blog that there had been an "apparent cover up" by American authorities. He added that most media were "unwilling to acknowledge the well-evidenced doubts about the official version of the events" on 9/11, despite it containing "gaps and contradictions". And he described David Ray Griffin, a conspiracy theorist highly regarded in the so-called "9/11 truth" movement, as a "scholar of high integrity" whose book on the subject was "authoritative". UN Watch, a pressure group that monitors the organisation, has called for Prof Falk to be sacked. Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary-General, described the comments as "preposterous" and "an affront to the memory of the more than 3,000 people who died in the attack." But Mr Ban said that it was not for him to decide whether Prof Falk, who serves the organisation as a special investigator into human rights abuses in the Palestinian territories, should be fired by the UN. Vijay Nambiar, Mr Ban's chief of staff, said this was up to the human rights council, a 47-nation body based in Geneva, Switzerland, that was created by the UN in 2006.
Note: Although the title of this article distorts the facts and its tone is dismissive, The Telegraph's quotes from Falk's blog are accurate. For excerpts from his remarks, click here. Richard Falk is only one of many highly-respected scholars and professionals who have raised such questions about the official account of 9/11. For examples of others, click here and here.
Eavesdropping Laws Mean That Turning On an Audio Recorder Could Send You to Prison
2011-01-23, New York Times
Christopher Drew is a 60-year-old artist and teacher who wears a gray ponytail and lives on the North Side [of Chicago]. Tiawanda Moore, 20, a former stripper, lives on the South Side and dreams of going back to school and starting a new life. About the only thing these strangers have in common is the prospect that by spring, they could each be sent to prison for up to 15 years. The crime they are accused of is eavesdropping. The authorities say that Mr. Drew and Ms. Moore audio-recorded their separate nonviolent encounters with Chicago police officers without the officers’ permission, a Class 1 felony in Illinois, which, along with Massachusetts and Oregon, has one of the country’s toughest, if rarely prosecuted, eavesdropping laws. “Before they arrested me for it,” Ms. Moore said, “I didn’t even know there was a law about eavesdropping. I wasn’t trying to sue anybody. I just wanted somebody to know what had happened to me.” Ms. Moore ... is accused of using her Blackberry to record two Internal Affairs investigators who spoke to her inside Police Headquarters while she filed a sexual harassment complaint last August against another police officer. Mr. Drew was charged with using a digital recorder to capture his Dec. 2, 2009, arrest for selling art without a permit on North State Street in the Loop. Both cases illustrate the increasingly busy and confusing intersection of technology and the law, public space and private.
Note: For lots more from major media sources on governmental threats to civil liberties, click here.
Undercover police cleared 'to have sex with activists'
2011-01-22, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers
Undercover police officers routinely adopted a tactic of "promiscuity" with the blessing of senior commanders, according to a former agent who worked in a secretive unit of the Metropolitan police for four years. The former undercover policeman claims that sexual relationships with activists were sanctioned for both men and women officers infiltrating anarchist, leftwing and environmental groups. Sex was a tool to help officers blend in, the officer claimed, and was widely used as a technique to glean intelligence. He said undercover officers, particularly those infiltrating environmental and leftwing groups, viewed having sex with a large number of partners "as part of the job". His comments contradict claims last week from the Association of Chief Police Officers that operatives were absolutely forbidden to sleep with activists. The claims follow the unmasking of undercover PC Mark Kennedy, who had sexual relationships with several women during the seven years he spent infiltrating a ring of environmental activists. Another two covert officers have been named in the past fortnight who also had sex with the protesters they were sent to spy on, fuelling allegations that senior officers had authorised sleeping around as a legitimate means of gathering intelligence.
Note: For a comprehensive overview of the still-ongoing revelations about police provocateur Mark Kennedy and his cohorts in the UK police infiltration of environmental and related activist groups, click here.
Plain-clothes officers 'were deployed at G20 demo'
Scotland Yard has admitted giving MPs inaccurate information by denying "covert officers" were deployed at London's G20 protests in April 2009. In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said it had established that covert officers had been deployed to the protests. The letter came after ... the unmasking of undercover policeman Mark Kennedy, who attended many demonstrations during seven years living as a spy among green activists. Giving evidence at the select committee in 2009, Commander Bob Broadhurst told MPs then: "The only officers we deploy for intelligence purposes at public order are forward intelligence team officers who are wearing full police uniforms with a yellow jacket with blue shoulders. There were no plain clothes officers deployed at all." The Met statement released on Wednesday said: "Having made thorough checks on the back of recent media reporting we have now established that covert officers were deployed during the G20 protests. Therefore the information that was given by Commander Bob Broadhurst to the Home Affairs Select Committee saying that 'We had no plain-clothes officers deployed within the crowd' was not accurate."
Note: For lots more on the police provocateur Mark Kennedy, click here.
The state's pedlars of fear must be brought to account
2011-01-11, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
[Mark] Kennedy moved from undercover agent to agent provocateur. He worked for a murky organisation called the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU). With a budget of £5m this operates as a branch of the National Domestic Extremism Unit (NDEU) which, in turn, works alongside the National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit (NETCU). Ask where this stands, and you will be told it reports to the Association of Chief Police Officers' Terrorism and Allied Matters Committee, codenamed Acpo(TAM). Kennedy's bosses in the NPOIU work for Acpo, but this is not what it seems. It is not, as its name suggests, the police officers' staff club, nor is it a public body of any sort. [ACPO] is a private company, incorporated in 1997. It is sub-contracted by Whitehall to operate the police end of the government's counterterrorism and "anti-extremism" strategies. It is thus alongside MI5, but even less accountable. It now runs its own police forces under a police chief boss, Sir Hugh Orde, like a British FBI. It trades on its own account, generating revenue by selling data from the police national computer for £70 an item (cost of retrieval, 60p). It owns an estate of 80 flats in central London. As a private company, Acpo need not accede to Freedom of Information requests and presumably could distribute its profit to its own board. The whole operation is reminiscent of the deals set up by the Pentagon with private firms to run the Iraq and Afghan wars, free of publicity or accountability.
Note: For further information on the amazing undercover career of UK agent provocateur Mark Kennedy, click here and here and here.
Icelandic MP fights US demand for her Twitter account details
2011-01-08, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
A member of parliament in Iceland who is also a former WikiLeaks volunteer says the US justice department has ordered Twitter to hand over her private messages. Birgitta Jonsdottir, an MP for the Movement in Iceland, said last night on Twitter that the "USA government wants to know about all my tweets and more since november 1st 2009. Do they realize I am a member of parliament in Iceland?" She said she was starting a legal fight to stop the US getting hold of her messages, after being told by Twitter that a subpoena had been issued. She added that the US authorities had requested personal information from Twitter as well as her private messages and that she was now assessing her legal position. "It's not just about my information. It's a warning for anyone who had anything to do with WikiLeaks. It is completely unacceptable for the US justice department to flex its muscles like this. I am lucky, I'm a representative in parliament. But what of other people? It's my duty to do whatever I can to stop this abuse."
Note: For a New York Times article with more on this, click here.
Building a network to hit militants
2011-01-05, Fox News/Associated Press
The Obama administration has ramped up its secret ["war on terror"] with a new military targeting center to oversee the growing use of special operations strikes against suspected militants in hot spots around the world, according to current and former U.S. officials. Run by the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command, the new center [is] a significant step in streamlining targeting operations ... giving elite military officials closer access to Washington decision-makers. The center aims to speed the sharing of information and shorten the time between targeting and military action. The creation of the center comes as part of the administration's increasing reliance on clandestine and covert action. The White House has more than doubled the numbers of special operations forces in Afghanistan alone, as well as doubling the CIA's use of missile strikes from unmanned drones in Pakistan. The center is staffed with at least 100 [operatives] fusing the military's special operations elite with analysts, intelligence and law enforcement officials from the FBI, Homeland Security and other agencies. Its targeting advice will largely direct elite special operations forces in both commando raids and missile strikes overseas. The data also could be used at times to advise domestic law enforcement in dealing with suspected terrorists inside the U.S., the officials said.
Note: For key reports from reliable sources on the expanding secret war carried out worldwide by the US, click here.
Terrorist watch list: One tip now enough to put name in database
2010-12-29, Washington Post
A year after a Nigerian man allegedly tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner, officials say they have made it easier to add individuals' names to a terrorist watch list. The failure to put Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on the watch list last year renewed concerns that the government's system to screen out potential terrorists was flawed. Even though Abdulmutallab's father had told U.S. officials of his son's radicalization in Yemen, government rules dictated that a single-source tip was insufficient to include a person's name on the watch list. Since then, senior counterterrorism officials say they have altered their criteria so that a single-source tip, as long as it is deemed credible, can lead to a name being placed on the watch list. But civil liberties groups argue that the government's new criteria, which went into effect over the summer, have made it even more likely that individuals who pose no threat will be swept up in the nation's security apparatus, leading to potential violations of their privacy and making it difficult for them to travel.
"They are secret lists with no way for people to petition to get off or even to know if they're on," said Chris Calabrese, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. The list, which stands at 440,000 people, [is now] about 5 percent larger than last year.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on growing threats to civil liberties, click here.
Indefinite detention for suspects at Guantanamo Bay
2010-12-22, Washington Post
The Obama administration is preparing an executive order that would formalize indefinite detention without trial for some detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba ..., U.S. officials said. Some civil liberties groups oppose any form of indefinite detention. "Indefinite detention without charge or trial is wrong, whether it comes from Congress or the president's pen," said Laura W. Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Washington legislative office. "Our Constitution requires that we charge and prosecute people who are accused of crimes. You cannot sell an indefinite detention scheme by attaching a few due-process baubles and expect that to restore the rule of law. That is bad for America and is not the form of justice we want other nations to emulate." Legislation supported by some Republicans ... would create a system of indefinite detention not only for some Guantanamo detainees but also for future terrorism suspects seized overseas.
Note: Why are so few people speaking out about indefinite detention, when it is done in a way that gives the person detained virtually no legal rights or recourse? This clearly violates the sixth amendment to the US Constitution which states, "the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial."
2010-12-20, Washington Post
Nine years after the terrorist attacks of 2001, the United States is assembling a vast domestic intelligence apparatus to collect information about Americans, using the FBI, local police, state homeland security offices and military criminal investigators. The system, by far the largest and most technologically sophisticated in the nation's history, collects, stores and analyzes information about thousands of U.S. citizens and residents, many of whom have not been accused of any wrongdoing. The months-long investigation [by The Washington Post], based on nearly 100 interviews and 1,000 documents, found that: * Technologies and techniques honed for use on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan have migrated into the hands of law enforcement agencies in America. * The FBI is building a database with the names and certain personal information, such as employment history, of thousands of U.S. citizens and residents whom a local police officer or a fellow citizen believed to be acting suspiciously. * Law enforcement agencies have hired as trainers self-described experts whose extremist views on Islam and terrorism are considered inaccurate and counterproductive by the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies. * The Department of Homeland Security sends its state and local partners intelligence reports with little meaningful guidance, and state reports have sometimes inappropriately reported on lawful meetings.
Note: This report is part of a series, "Top Secret America," by The Washington Post. For more, click here.
Italy court ups sentences for 23 CIA agents
2010-12-15, MSNBC/Associated Press
An Italian appeals court on [December 15] increased the sentences against 23 Americans convicted in the kidnapping of an Egyptian terror suspect who was part of the CIA's extraordinary renditions program. In upholding the convictions, the court added one year to the eight-year term handed down to former Milan CIA station chief Robert Seldon Lady and two years to the five-year terms given to 22 other Americans convicted along with him, defense lawyers said. They were never in Italian custody and were tried and convicted in absentia but risk arrest if they travel to Europe. The Americans and two Italians were convicted last year of involvement in the kidnapping of ... Abu Omar from a Milan street on Feb. 17, 2003 — the first convictions anywhere in the world against people involved in the CIA's practice of abducting terror suspects and transferring them to third countries where torture was permitted. The cleric was transferred to U.S. military bases in Italy and Germany before being moved to Egypt, where he says he was tortured. He has since been released. Amnesty International praised [the] decision as a step toward demanding greater accountability in Europe for the CIA's extraordinary rendition program. Julia Hall, an Amnesty counter-terrorism expert, said in a statement, "The Italian courts have acknowledged that the chain of events leading to such serious abuses cannot go unanswered. Kidnapping is a crime, not a 'state secret.' "
Note: This is amazing news which shows that the CIA is losing its former status as immune in courts of law.
Humiliate, strip, threaten: UK military interrogation manuals discovered
2010-10-25, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
The British military has been training interrogators in techniques that include threats, sensory deprivation and enforced nakedness in an apparent breach of the Geneva conventions. Training materials drawn up secretly in recent years tell interrogators they should aim to provoke humiliation, insecurity, disorientation, exhaustion, anxiety and fear in the prisoners they are questioning, and suggest ways in which this can be achieved. A manual prepared in April 2008 suggests that "Cpers" – captured personnel – be kept in conditions of physical discomfort and intimidated. Sensory deprivation is lawful, it adds, if there are "valid operational reasons". It also urges enforced nakedness. More recent training material says blindfolds, earmuffs and plastic handcuffs are essential equipment for military interrogators, and says that while prisoners should be allowed to sleep or rest for eight hours in each 24, they need be permitted only four hours unbroken sleep. It also suggests that interrogators tell prisoners they will be held incommunicado unless they answer questions. The 1949 Geneva conventions prohibit any "physical or moral coercion", in particular any coercion employed to obtain information. All the British classified training material was produced after the death of Baha Mousa, the Iraqi hotel receptionist tortured to death by British troops in Basra in September 2003.
Note: For a survey of historic and contemporary uses of torture, click here. For more disturbing information on how Nazi torture techniques were eventually used by the CIA for mind control, click here.
From protester to senator, FBI tracked Paul Wellstone
2010-10-25, Minnesota Public Radio
It started with a fingerprint of a 25-year-old college professor who opposed the Vietnam War and ended with a search for his remains, 32 years later, in a wooded area near Eveleth, Minn. The FBI's files on Paul and Sheila Wellstone [show that] the FBI initially took interest in Wellstone as part of the broader surveillance of the American left ... and, in the end, [sifted] through the wreckage of the fatal plane crash that killed Wellstone and seven others eight years ago. Wellstone's surviving sons declined to comment on the documents, which were obtained in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by MPR News. The FBI did not include 76 pages related to the National Transportation Safety Board, the agency that investigated the crash. A request for those records is pending. Coleen Rowley, the 9/11 whistleblower and former chief legal advisor in the FBI's Minneapolis office, said the documents from 1970 shed light on the FBI's far-reaching efforts to quash political dissent. "I think this really is valuable … because it's basically history repeating what we have right now," she said, noting the recent FBI raids at the homes of several anti-war organizers in Minneapolis. Wellstone's arrest occurred less than a year before the official end of Cointelpro, a series of secret domestic surveillance programs created by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to monitor and disrupt groups deemed to be a threat to national security.
Note: For insights into the deeper implications of Senator Wellstone's mysterious plane crash, click here.
CIA Sues Ex-Spy Over Two-Year Old Book
2010-10-20, ABC News
A CIA lawsuit threatens to turn a little-known two-year-old tell-all by a disgruntled former spy into a bestseller. Within hours of the lawsuit's filing [on October 19], The Human Factor: Inside the CIA's Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture, had rocketed up the Amazon rankings. The Human Factor, written by an ex-agent using the pseudonym Ishmael Jones, went largely unnoticed when it was first published in July 2008. In the book, "Jones" charges the CIA with waste, fraud and abuse as he details his career over two decades working under non-official cover, or NOC, mainly in Europe. The agency is seeking any money Jones received for the publication or sales of the book. The suit, which does not allege that Jones revealed any classified information, raises questions about why the agency would bring a case two years after publication and where both sides agree no sensitive secrets were revealed. Steven Aftergood, an expert on government secrecy, said "This is a bone-headed move. You'll make an obscure book by an unknown author into a national news story." But Aftergood said the agency's real aim is internal discipline. "The government is not simply concerned about protecting secrets. It is also concerned about Jones' overt defiance of established security rules." Jones and other former CIA officers have complained in the past that the CIA's publication review consistently favors former spies who tell stories flattering to the agency. Jones suggested that the antipathy towards the book focused on his message, a sharp critique of the CIA.
Note: For a highly informative documentary on the secrets of the CIA, click here.
GPS tracker in car inflames privacy debate
2010-10-16, Seattle Times/Associated Press
Yasir Afifi, a 20-year-old computer salesman and community-college student, took his car in for an oil change earlier this month and his mechanic spotted an odd wire hanging from the undercarriage. The wire was attached to a strange magnetic device that puzzled Afifi and the mechanic. They freed it from the car and posted images of it online, asking for help in identifying it. Two days later, FBI agents arrived at Afifi's Santa Clara apartment and demanded the return of their property — a global-positioning-system tracking device now at the center of a raging legal debate over privacy rights. One federal judge wrote that the widespread use of the device was straight out of George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four." By holding that this kind of surveillance doesn't impair an individual's reasonable expectation of privacy, the panel hands the government the power to track the movements of every one of us, every day of our lives," wrote Alex Kozinski, the chief judge of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a blistering dissent in which a three-judge panel from his court ruled that search warrants weren't necessary for GPS tracking. In his dissent, Chief Judge Kozinski noted that GPS technology is far different from tailing a suspect on a public road, which requires the active participation of investigators. "The devices create a permanent electronic record that can be compared, contrasted and coordinated to deduce all manner of private information about individuals," Kozinksi wrote.
Note: For an AP photo of this device, click here.
Federal Agents Urged to 'Friend' People on Social Networks, Memo Reveals
2010-10-14, Fox News
A privacy watchdog has uncovered a government memo that encourages federal agents to befriend people on a variety of social networks, to take advantage of their readiness to share -- and to spy on them. In response to a Freedom of Information request, the government released a handful of documents, including a May 2008 memo detailing how social-networking sites are exploited by the Office of Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS). Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and Digg had not commented on the report, which details the official government program to spy via social networking. Other websites the government is spying on include ... Craigslist and Wikipedia, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which filed the FOIA request. "Narcissistic tendencies in many people fuel a need to have a large group of 'friends' link to their pages, and many of these people accept cyber-friends that they don't even know," stated one of the documents obtained by the EFF. "This provides an excellent vantage point for FDNS to observe the daily life of [members]," it said. Among the networks specifically cited for analysis "were general social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and Flickr, as well as sites that focus specifically on certain demographic groups such as MiGente and BlackPlanet, news sites such as NPR, and political commentary sites DailyKos," the EFF wrote.
Note: For more information, read the full report at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
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.