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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For an index to revealing excerpts of media articles on several dozen engaging topics, click here
Many migrant workers in UK are modern-day slaves, say investigators
2010-08-30, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Thousands of foreign domestic workers are living as slaves in Britain, being abused sexually, physically and psychologically by employers. More than 15,000 migrant workers come to Britain every year to earn money to send back to their families. Many endure conditions that campaigners say amount to modern-day slavery. Kalayaan, a charity based in west London that helps and advises migrant domestic workers, registers around 350 new workers each year. About 20% report being physically abused or assaulted, including being burnt with irons, threatened with knives, and having boiling water thrown at them. "Two-thirds of the domestic workers we see report being psychologically abused," said Jenny Moss, a community advocate for the charity. "That means they've been threatened and humiliated, shouted at constantly and called dog, donkey, stupid, illiterate." A similar proportion say they were not allowed out alone and have never had a day off. Nearly three-quarters say they were paid less than £50 a week. "The first thing to understand when we're talking about slavery is that we're not using a metaphor," said Aidan McQuade from Anti-Slavery International. "Many of the instances of domestic servitude we find in this country are forced labour – a classification that includes retention of passports and wages, threat of denunciation and restriction of movement and isolation."
Note: This phenomenon also happens in big cities in the US much more than people might suspect.
U.S. drones to watch entire Mexico border from September 1
The U.S. government will have unmanned surveillance aircraft monitoring the whole southwest border with Mexico from September 1, as it ramps up border security in this election year. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said U.S. Customs and Border Protection would begin flying a Predator B drone out of Corpus Christi, Texas, on [that date], extending the reach of the agency's unmanned surveillance aircraft across the length of the nearly 2,000 mile border with Mexico. "With the deployment of the Predator in Texas, we will now be able to cover the southwest border from the El Centro sector in California all the way to the Gulf of Mexico in Texas, providing critical aerial surveillance assistance to personnel on the ground," Napolitano said during a conference call. Earlier this month, President Barack Obama signed a $600 million bill that would fund some 1,500 new Border Patrol agents, customs inspectors and other law enforcement officials along the border, as well as paying for two more unmanned drones. The Predator B drones are made by defense contractor General Atomics. They carry equipment including sophisticated day and night vision cameras that operators use to detect drug and human smugglers, and can stay aloft for up to 30 hours at a time.
Note: How long will it be before aerial surveillance drones, now positioned over the southern border of the US, are deployed in other parts of the country?
Secret services 'must be made more transparent'
2010-08-29, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
The secret services must become more transparent if they are to halt the spread of damaging conspiracy theories and increase trust in the Government, claims a leading think tank. A Demos report published today, "The Power of Unreason", argues that secrecy surrounding the investigation of events such as the 9/11 New York attacks and the 7/7 bombings in London merely adds weight to ... claims that they were "inside jobs". It ... recommends the Government fight back by infiltrating internet sites to dispute these theories. The Royal United Services Institute warned last week that the UK may soon face a new wave of home-grown terrorists, when criminals who have been targeted by jihadists while in prison are released.
Note: The report cited in this article advocates UK government infiltration of "conspiracist" organizations and websites. In the US the same recommendation has been made by Obama appointee Cass Sunstein, whose article "Conspiracy Theories: Causes and Cures" has just been fully dissected by WantToKnow team member David Ray Griffin in his new book Cognitive Infiltration: An Obama Appointee's Plan to Undermine the 9/11 Conspiracy Theory.
L.A. officials plan to use heat-beam ray in jail
2010-08-26, MSNBC/Associated Press
A device designed to control unruly inmates by blasting them with a beam of intense energy that causes a burning sensation is drawing heat from civil rights groups who fear it could cause serious injury and is "tantamount to torture." The mechanism, known as an "Assault Intervention Device," is a stripped-down version of a military gadget that sends highly focused beams of energy at people and makes them feel as though they are burning. The Los Angeles County sheriff's department plans to install the device by Labor Day, making it the first time in the world the technology has been deployed in such a capacity. The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California criticized Sheriff Lee Baca's decision ..., saying that the technology amounts to a ray gun at a county jail. The ACLU said the weapon was "tantamount to torture," noting that early military versions resulted in five airmen suffering lasting burns. It requested a meeting with Baca, who declined the invitation. [ACLU attorney Peter Eliasberg noted that] the sheriff was creating a dangerous environment with "a weapon that can cause serious injury, that is being put into a place where there is a long history of abuse of prisoners. That is a toxic combination."
Note: For revealing and reliable reports on so-called "non-lethal" weapons used by police and military, click here.
The Government Can Use GPS to Track Your Moves
2010-08-25, Time magazine
Government agents can sneak onto your property in the middle of the night, put a GPS device on the bottom of your car and keep track of everywhere you go. This doesn't violate your Fourth Amendment rights, because you do not have any reasonable expectation of privacy in your own driveway — and no reasonable expectation that the government isn't tracking your movements. That is the bizarre — and scary — rule that now applies in California and eight other Western states. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which covers this vast jurisdiction, recently decided the government can monitor you in this way virtually anytime it wants — with no need for a search warrant. It is a dangerous decision — one that, as the dissenting judges warned, could turn America into the sort of totalitarian state imagined by George Orwell. It is particularly offensive because the judges added insult to injury with some shocking class bias: the little personal privacy that still exists, the court suggested, should belong mainly to the rich. Plenty of liberals have objected to this kind of spying, but it is the conservative Chief Judge Kozinski who has done so most passionately. "1984 may have come a bit later than predicted, but it's here at last," he lamented in his dissent. And invoking Orwell's totalitarian dystopia where privacy is essentially nonexistent, he warned: "Some day, soon, we may wake up and find we're living in Oceania."
Note: For key reports from reliable souces on increasing government threats to civil liberties, click here.
Big Brother: Eye-scanners being installed across one Mexican city
2010-08-19, USA Today
Mexico's sixth-largest city, Leon, is on the road to ... a future in which everyone is tracked wherever they go. Fast Company reports that U.S. biometrics firm Global Rainmakers and its Mexican partner announced yesterday that they have begun installing iris-scanning technology in the city of more than 1 million in Guanajuato state. The companies aim ... to create "the most secure city in the world." The first phase concentrates on law enforcement and security checkpoints. Then the iris scanners, which the firms say can "identify humans in motion and at a distance while ensuring liveness," will fill malls, pharmacies, mass transit, medical centers and banks, "among other public and private locations," Fast Company writes. "In the future, whether it's entering your home, opening your car, entering your workspace, getting a pharmacy prescription refilled, or having your medical records pulled up, everything will come off that unique key that is your iris," says Jeff Carter, CDO of Global Rainmakers. Before coming to GRI, Carter headed a think tank partnership between Bank of America, Harvard, and MIT. "Every person, place, and thing on this planet will be connected [to the iris system] within the next 10 years," he says.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on threats to privacy, click here.
States make it illegal to video tape police
2010-08-19, KDVR-TV (Denver, Colorado Fox Network affiliate)
With more and more ways to take pictures or images, police departments are lobbying state legislatures to pass laws which in effect allow them to operate without public oversight. "It's not right," said Colorado Attorney General, John Suthers. "We think that allows police agencies, who are public employees, working for tax payers, to operate outside the First Amendment." Defense attorneys also claim the laws give the impression police are above the law. Police work is done in public and if they are being photographed in public that gives the public the ability to judge their work (unlike people in the private sector). Many say that getting prosecuted for taking pictures of police is the [purpose] of police and official intimidation, and when people are ordered to stop taking pictures of police, few want to test the veracity of those threats; most will comply. Those who don't will be arrested, but attorneys say it makes little sense to say the government can take our pictures without letting us take pictures of them. One attorney said, "At last check, they work for us, we don't work for them."
Note: For key reports from reliable souces on increasing government threats to civil liberties, click here.
Probe finds hundreds of cases of mishandled evidence in N. Carolina
2010-08-18, Kansas City Star
The North Carolina justice system shook [on August 18] as an audit commissioned by state Attorney General Roy Cooper revealed that the State Bureau of Investigation withheld or distorted evidence in more than 200 cases at the expense of potentially innocent men and women. The full impact of the disclosure will reverberate for years to come as prosecutors and defense attorneys re-examine cases as much as two decades old to figure out whether these errors robbed defendants of justice. Some of the injustices can be addressed as attorneys bring old cases back to court. For others, it's too late. Three of the defendants in [corrupt] cases have been executed. Two former FBI agents, Chris Swecker and Mike Wolf, examined more than 15,000 cases at the invitation of Cooper, a Democrat who has been attorney general since 2001. The exoneration of Greg Taylor, a Wake County man imprisoned 17 years for a murder he didn't commit, prompted the review. SBI analyst Duane Deaver admitted in February that he failed to report tests indicating a substance on Taylor's SUV was not blood. Swecker's findings, he said, signal potential violations of the U.S. Constitution and North Carolina laws by withholding information favorable to defendants.
Note: Three innocent individuals were likely executed in this one US state. How many more are there like this around the world?
US cops: armed and dangerous?
2010-08-16, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Can you invent a realistic scenario wherein you shoot a man dead; justify it with a story witnesses contradict; confiscate any surveillance video; claim a "glitch" makes it impossible to show the video to anyone else – all while enjoying the support of state legal apparatus? Police in Las Vegas did that last month, after they shot Erik Scott seven times as he exited a Costco. Cops say Scott pointed a gun at them; witnesses say Scott's licensed weapon was in a concealed holster, and five of those seven shots hit him in the back. The confiscated surveillance video might settle the question; too bad about that glitch. At least Costco's not in trouble for recording police actions. That's illegal in 12 states, even (or especially) when you record police misbehaviour. Even in states where it's allowed, officers are wont to ignore the law and go after photographers anyway, and they can always record you with their own dashboard cams. Whenever Tasers are issued, they're used with shocking (sorry) frequency. With guns, police at least have to argue "Oops, I thought he was dangerous", after shooting you; Tasers don't even require that. In 2004, Malaika Brooks, then seven months pregnant, was stopped for speeding in Seattle. She refused to sign the ticket – a non-arrestable misdemeanour at the time, though she was arrested for it anyway – and was Tasered three times. Last March, a federal appeals court ruled that the Tasering, which left permanent scars, was not "excessive force" since it only inflicted "temporary, localised pain".
Note: The short video in this article of a mother being tazed for no apparent reason is particularly revealing.
Judges Divided Over Rising GPS Surveillance
2010-08-14, New York Times
The growing use by the police of new technologies that make surveillance far easier and cheaper to conduct is raising difficult questions about the scope of constitutional privacy rights. The issue is whether the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches covers a device that records a suspect’s movements for weeks or months without any need for an officer to trail him. The GPS tracking dispute coincides with a burst of other technological tools that expand police monitoring abilities — including ... the widely discussed prospect of linking face-recognition computer programs to the proliferating number of surveillance cameras. Some legal scholars ... have called for a fundamental rethinking of how to apply Fourth Amendment privacy rights in the 21st century. Traditionally, courts have held that the Fourth Amendment does not cover the trailing of a suspect because people have no expectation of privacy for actions exposed to public view. On [August 12], five judges on the San Francisco appeals court dissented from a decision not to re-hear a ruling upholding the warrantless use of GPS trackers. Chief Judge Alex Kozinski characterized the tactic as “creepy and un-American” and contended that its capabilities handed “the government the power to track the movements of every one of us, every day of our lives.”
Note: For lots more on threats to civil liberties and privacy, click here and here.
Plaintiff who challenged FBI's national security letters reveals concerns
2010-08-10, Washington Post
For six years, Nicholas Merrill has lived in a surreal world of half-truths, where he could not tell even his fiancee, his closest friends or his mother that he is "John Doe" -- the man who filed the first-ever court challenge to the FBI's ability to obtain personal data on Americans without judicial approval. No one knew he was the plaintiff challenging the FBI's authority to issue "national security letters," as they are known, and its ability to impose a gag on the recipient. Now, following the partial lifting of his gag order 11 days ago as a result of an FBI settlement, Merrill can speak openly for the first time about the experience, although he cannot disclose the full scope of the data demanded. "One of the most dangerous and troubling things about the FBI's national security letter powers is how much it has been shrouded in secrecy," said Melissa Goodman, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union who helped Merrill sue the government in April 2004 and was one of only a handful of people outside the FBI -- all lawyers -- who knew Merrill had received a letter. The FBI between 2003 and 2006 issued more than 192,500 letters -- an average of almost 50,000 a year. The Justice Department inspector general in 2007 faulted the bureau for failing to adequately justify the issuance of such letters.
Note: For key reports from major media sources on the erosion of civil liberties by government, click here.
Breaking a Promise on Surveillance
2010-07-30, New York Times
It is just a technical matter, the Obama administration says: We just need to make a slight change in a law to make clear that we have the right to see the names of anyone’s e-mail correspondents and their Web browsing history without the messy complication of asking a judge for permission. It is far more than a technical change. The administration’s request, reported [on July 29] in The Washington Post, is an unnecessary and disappointing step backward toward more intrusive surveillance from a president who promised something very different during the 2008 campaign. To get this information, the F.B.I. simply has to ask for it in the form of a national security letter, which is an administrative request that does not require a judge’s signature. The F.B.I. used these letters hundreds of thousands of times to demand records of phone calls and other communications, and the Pentagon used them to get records from banks and consumer credit agencies. Internal investigations of both agencies found widespread misuse of the power, and little oversight into how it was wielded. President Obama campaigned for office on an explicit promise to rein in these abuses. But instead of implementing reasonable civil liberties protections, like taking requests for e-mail surveillance before a judge, the administration is proposing changes to the law that would allow huge numbers of new electronic communications to be examined with no judicial oversight.
Note: For key reports on the growing government and corporate threats to privacy, click here.
U.S. asks blog sites to shut down
2010-07-25, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Under mysterious circumstances and with unusual abruptness, two websites used to create blogs and message boards were taken down at the behest of U.S. investigators earlier this month, baffling users and commentators on the Web alike. Both Blogetery.com, which said it hosted around 70,000 blogs, and online forum site IPBFree.com were taken offline in early July. The initial cryptic responses to users' questions about what happened added to the confusion. Both IPBFree administrators and Burst.net, Blogetery's Web host, deeply apologized for the incident but said they were barred by law to provide any specific information. But Burst.net later told PC World that they had voluntarily decided to take down Blogetery after investigators approached them. It is still unclear who hosted the IPBFree site, why it was taken down or if the action was related to the Blogetery case.
Note: For more on this, click here. It appears certain factions within government are testing their ability to shut down certain websites.
Raw-food raid highlights a hunger
2010-07-25, Los Angeles Times
With no warning one weekday morning, investigators entered an organic grocery with a search warrant and ordered the hemp-clad workers to put down their buckets of mashed coconut cream and to step away from the nuts. Then, guns drawn, four officers fanned out across Rawesome Foods in Venice. Skirting past the arugula and peering under crates of zucchini, they found the raid's target inside a walk-in refrigerator: unmarked jugs of raw milk. Cartons of raw goat and cow milk and blocks of unpasteurized goat cheese were among the groceries seized in the June 30 raid by federal, state and local authorities — the latest salvo in the heated food fight over what people can put in their mouths. On one side are government regulators, who say they are enforcing rules designed to protect consumers from unsafe foods and to provide a level playing field for producers. On the other side are " healthy food" consumers [who] seek food in its most pure form. "This is about control and profit, not our health," said Aajonus Vonderplanitz, co-founder of Rawesome Foods. "How can we not have the freedom to choose what we eat?" Demand for all manner of raw foods — including honey, nuts and meat — has been growing, spurred by heightened interest in the way food is produced. But raw milk in particular has drawn a lot of regulatory scrutiny, largely because the politically powerful dairy industry has pressed the government to act.
Note: For lots more on government corruption from reliable sources, click here.
Ex-US judge pleads guilty to child prison scam
2010-07-23, BBC News
Former Pennsylvania judge Michael Conahan has pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy charge for helping put juvenile defendants behind bars in exchange for bribes. He is accused along with former judge Mark Ciavarella of taking $2.8m (£1.8m) from a profit-making detention centres. Prosecutors in a federal court in Scranton, Pennsylvania, said Conahan had closed a county-owned juvenile detention centre in 2002, just before signing an agreement to use a for-profit centre. Prosecutors say Mr Ciavarella, a former juvenile court judge, then allegedly worked with Mr Conahan to ensure a constant flow of detainees. The two men were originally charged in early 2009 with accepting money from the builder and owner of a for-profit detention centre that housed county juveniles in exchange for giving children longer, harsher sentences. A spokeswoman for the non-profit Juvenile Law Center alleges that Mr Ciavarella gave excessively harsh sentences to 1,000-2,000 juveniles between 2003 and 2006. Some of the children were shackled, denied lawyers, and pulled from their homes for offences which included stealing change from cars and failure to appear as witnesses.
Note: To understand just how corrupt our judicial system is, watch Consipiracy of Silence at this link.
Inquiry into Ian Tomlinson's death at a G20 protest in London prompts more questions than answers
2010-07-22, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
When Ian Tomlinson's widow watched video footage of his last moments alive for the first time on a laptop 16 months ago, she was speechless. Julia Tomlinson had been told by police her husband had died of natural causes as he tried to get home through the G20 protest in London, and there was nothing suspicious about the death. But as she watched [video] footage ...a different story unfolded. Tomlinson, hands in pockets, was walking away from police. An officer who was not displaying his badge number, and whose face was concealed behind a balaclava, lunged at her husband from behind and, without provocation, struck him on the leg and pushed him to the ground. The police disregard for Tomlinson was [evident] on footage of the aftermath of the attack, which left him lying on the ground in front of a line of riot police shortly after 7.25pm on 1 April. None of the officers went to the aid of the 47-year-old, who was clearly in distress. Looking disoriented, Tomlinson then stumbled 100 yards down the road before collapsing and dying. The initial police response was to accuse protesters of wrongdoing. Within four hours, Scotland Yard had released a statement saying officers had gone to the victim's aid and called an ambulance, and were attempting to save his life with cardiopulmonary resuscitation. In the following days, City of London police, which was investigating the death, would receive information from witnesses that suggested Tomlinson might have been assaulted by an officer. His family were not told about this, and were advised instead that he had died after being caught up in a fracas prompted by anarchist demonstrators attacking police.
Note: This excellent article shows all too clearly how police departments will lie and severely manipulate evidence to defend their own, even when they know they are in the wrong.
America locks up too many people, some for acts that should not even be criminal
2010-07-22, The Economist magazine
America is different from the rest of the world in lots of ways, many of them good. One of the bad ones is its willingness to lock up its citizens. One American adult in 100 festers behind bars (with the rate rising to one in nine for young black men). Its imprisoned population, at 2.3m, exceeds that of 15 of its states. No other rich country is nearly as punitive as the Land of the Free. The rate of incarceration is a fifth of America’s level in Britain, a ninth in Germany and a twelfth in Japan. America’s incarceration rate has quadrupled since 1970. Similar things have happened elsewhere. The incarceration rate in Britain has more than doubled, and that in Japan increased by half, over the period. But the trend has been sharper in America than in most of the rich world, and the disparity has grown. It is explained neither by a difference in criminality (the English are slightly more criminal than Americans, though less murderous), nor by the success of the policy: America’s violent-crime rate is higher than it was 40 years ago. Many states have mandatory minimum sentences, which remove judges’ discretion to show mercy, even when the circumstances of a case cry out for it. “Three strikes” laws, which were at first used to put away persistently violent criminals for life, have in several states been applied to lesser offenders.
Note: For a recent report on the size of the US prison population in comparison with other countries, click here.
Growing Number of Prosecutions for Videotaping the Police
2010-07-19, ABC News
It wasn't his daredevil stunt [on his motorcycle] that has [Anthony Graber] facing the possibility of 16 years in prison. For that, he was issued a speeding ticket. It was the video that Graber posted on YouTube one week later -- taken with his helmet camera -- of a plainclothes state trooper cutting him off and drawing a gun during the traffic stop near Baltimore. In early April, state police officers raided Graber's parents' home in Abingdon, Md. They confiscated his camera, computers and external hard drives. Graber was indicted for allegedly violating state wiretap laws by recording the trooper without his consent. Arrests such as Graber's are becoming more common along with the proliferation of portable video cameras and cell-phone recorders. Videos of alleged police misconduct have become hot items on the Internet. YouTube still features Graber's encounter along with numerous other witness videos. "The message is clearly, 'Don't criticize the police,'" said David Rocah, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland who is part of Graber's defense team. "With these charges, anyone who would even think to record the police is now justifiably in fear that they will also be criminally charged." Carlos Miller, a Miami journalist who runs the blog "Photography Is Not a Crime," said he has documented about 10 arrests since he started keeping track in 2007. Miller himself has been arrested twice for photographing the police.
Note: To our knowledge, no one has ever been prosecuted for videotaping police doing good things, which they often do, yet many have been arrested for catching police doing bad things. Where's the justice here?
U.S. Plans Cyber Shield for Utilities, Companies
2010-07-08, Wall Street Journal
The federal government is launching an expansive program dubbed "Perfect Citizen" to detect cyber assaults on private companies and government agencies running such critical infrastructure as the electricity grid and nuclear-power plants. The surveillance by the National Security Agency, the government's chief eavesdropping agency, would rely on a set of sensors deployed in computer networks for critical infrastructure that would be triggered by unusual activity suggesting an impending cyber attack. Defense contractor Raytheon Corp. recently won a classified contract for the initial phase of the surveillance effort valued at up to $100 million. Some industry and government officials familiar with the program see Perfect Citizen as an intrusion by the NSA into domestic affairs. One internal Raytheon email, the text of which was seen by The Wall Street Journal [said,] "Perfect Citizen is Big Brother." Raytheon declined to comment on this email. The information gathered by Perfect Citizen could also have applications beyond the critical infrastructure sector, officials said, serving as a data bank that would also help companies and agencies who call upon NSA for help with investigations of cyber attacks, as Google did when it sustained a major attack late last year.
Note: For key reports of government and corporate surveillance from reliable sources, click here.
Charges for Soldier Accused of Leak
2010-07-07, New York Times
An American soldier in Iraq who was arrested on charges of leaking a video of a deadly American helicopter attack [in Baghdad] in 2007 has also been charged with downloading more than 150,000 highly classified diplomatic cables that could, if made public, reveal the inner workings of American embassies around the world. The full contents of the cables remain unclear. The charges cited only one cable by name, “Reykjavik 13,” which appeared to be one made public by WikiLeaks.org, a whistle-blowing Web site devoted to disclosing the secrets of governments and corporations. In the cable, dated Jan. 13, the American deputy chief of mission, Sam Watson, detailed private discussions he held with Iceland’s leaders over a referendum on whether to repay losses from a bank failure, including a frank assessment that Iceland could default in 2011. WikiLeaks ... disclosed a second cable from the nation in March profiling its leaders, including Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir. The cable [reveals] a complaint over the “alleged use of Icelandic airspace by C.I.A.-operated planes” by the Icelandic ambassador to the United States, Albert Jonsson.
Note: For lots more on government secrecy from reliable sources, click here.