Civil Liberties Media ArticlesExcerpts of Key Civil Liberties Media Articles in Major Media
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.
A former US marine who was taken from his home and involuntarily detained for psychiatric evaluation for posting controversial song lyrics and conspiracy theories on Facebook is to file a civil lawsuit against the FBI and police. Speaking for the first time since his release, after a judge ruled there was insufficient evidence to detain him, Brandon Raub said his experience was frightening and that it sent a "extremely alarming" message to Americans. Raub, 26, a former combat engineer who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was taken forcibly from his home in Chesterfield County, Virginia, by two FBI agents and police on 16 August. He was not charged with any crime. He was handcuffed and detained in a psychiatric hospital for seven days before a judge ruled on 23 August that there was not sufficient evidence to keep him there. In an interview ... Raub said: "It made me scared for my country. The idea that a man can be snatched off his property without being read his rights I think should be extremely alarming to all Americans." He said that Americans needed to educate themselves about government intrusions into the lives of citizens, and he urged people to do so. Raub's mother, Cathleen Thomas, told reporters that her son ... is "concerned about all the wars we've experienced" and believes the US government was complicit in the September 11 terrorist attacks. One of his Facebook posts, she said, pictured the gaping hole in the Pentagon and asked "where's the plane?
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on civil liberties, click here.
A 26 year old former Marine has been ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation after being detained for alleged threats he made on Facebook. Brandon Raub, who lives in Chesterfield, Virginia, was detained [on August 16] after being questioned by law enforcement about his postings. “Sharpen up my axe; I’m here to sever heads,” Raub posted to Facebook on August 13, 2012. The post appears to be a lyric from the band Swollen Members and its song “Bring Me Down.” The case has pitted First Amendment freedoms against potential security concerns. Raub, who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was questioned by the FBI, U.S. Secret Service and Chesterfield County Police ... and was then taken into custody by the Chesterfield County Police Department. At a court hearing on [August 20] Raub was ordered to be detained for mental evaluation for 30 days. Court records on Raub only showed traffic violations. A Facebook group supporting Raub already has over 5,800 supporters. “For government officials to not only arrest Brandon Raub for doing nothing more than exercising his First Amendment rights but to actually force him to undergo psychological evaluations and detain him against his will goes against every constitutional principle this country was founded upon. This should be a wake-up call to Americans that the police state is here,” said John Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, which is serving as counsel for Raub.
[In its] decision to grant diplomatic asylum to [WikiLeaks'] founder, Julian Assange, ... Ecuador has acted in accordance with important principles of international human rights. Indeed, nothing could demonstrate the appropriateness of Ecuador's action more than the British government's threat to violate a sacrosanct principle of diplomatic relations and invade the embassy to arrest Mr. Assange. Predictably, the response from those who would prefer that Americans remain in the dark has been ferocious. Top elected leaders from both parties have called Mr. Assange a "high-tech terrorist." And Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who leads the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has demanded that he be prosecuted under the Espionage Act. Most Americans, Britons and Swedes are unaware that Sweden has not formally charged Mr. Assange with any crime. Rather, it has issued a warrant for his arrest to question him about allegations of sexual assault in 2010. If Mr. Assange is extradited to the United States, the consequences will reverberate for years around the world. Mr. Assange is not an American citizen, and none of his actions have taken place on American soil. If the United States can prosecute a journalist in these circumstances, the governments of Russia or China could, by the same logic, demand that foreign reporters anywhere on earth be extradited for violating their laws.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on government secrecy, click here.
Last week, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly to unveil a major new police surveillance infrastructure, developed by Microsoft. The Domain Awareness System links existing police databases with live video feeds, including cameras using vehicle license plate recognition software. No mention was made of whether the system plans to use – or already uses – facial recognition software. But, at present, there is no law to prevent US government and law enforcement agencies from building facial recognition databases. And we know from industry newsletters that the US military, law enforcement, and the department of homeland security are betting heavily on facial recognition technology. As PC World notes, Facebook itself is a market leader in the technology – but military and security agencies are close behind. According to Homeland Security Newswire, billions of dollars are being invested in the development and manufacture of various biometric technologies capable of detecting and identifying anyone, anywhere in the world – via iris-scanning systems, already in use; foot-scanning technology (really); voice pattern ID software, and so on. What is very obvious is that this technology will not be applied merely to people under arrest, or to people under surveillance in accordance with the fourth amendment. No, the "targets" here [include] everyone. In the name of "national security", the capacity is being built to identify, track and document any citizen constantly and continuously.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on civil liberties, click here.
[Trapwire is] a CCTV surveillance system that recognises people from their face or walk and analyses whether they might be about to commit a terrorist or criminal act. According to documents released online by WikiLeaks [it] is being used in a number of countries to try to monitor people and threats. Founded by former CIA agents, Trapwire uses data from a network of CCTV systems and numberplate readers to figure out the threat level in huge numbers of locations. The documents outlining Trapwire's existence and its deployment in the US were apparently obtained in a hack of computer systems belonging to the intelligence company Stratfor at the end of last year. Documents from the US department of homeland security show that it paid $832,000 to deploy Trapwire in Washington DC and Seattle. Stratfor describes Trapwire as "a unique, predictive software system designed to detect patterns of pre-attack surveillance and logistical planning". It serves "a wide range of law enforcement personnel and public and private security officials domestically and internationally", Stratfor says. Some have expressed doubts that Trapwire could really forecast [future] acts based on data from cameras. The claims might seem overblown, but then the idea that the US could have an international monitoring system seemed absurd until the discovery of the Echelon system, used by the US to eavesdrop on electronic communications internationally.
I [Tangerine Bolen] am one of the lead plaintiffs in the civil lawsuit against the National Defense Authorization Act, which gives the president the power to hold any US citizen anywhere for as long as he wants, without charge or trial. In a May hearing, Judge Katherine Forrest issued an injunction against it; this week, in a final hearing in New York City, US government lawyers asserted even more extreme powers – the right to disregard entirely the judge and the law. On Monday 6 August, Obama's lawyers filed an appeal to the injunction – a profoundly important development that, as of this writing, has been scarcely reported. In the earlier March hearing, US government lawyers had confirmed that, yes, the NDAA does give the president the power to lock up people like journalist Chris Hedges and peaceful activists like myself and other plaintiffs. Government attorneys stated on record that even war correspondents could be locked up indefinitely under the NDAA. In this hearing ... Obama's attorneys refused to assure the court, when questioned, that the NDAA's section 1021 – the provision that permits reporters and others who have not committed crimes to be detained without trial – has not been applied by the US government anywhere in the world after Judge Forrest's injunction. In other words, they were telling a US federal judge that they could not, or would not, state whether Obama's government had complied with the legal injunction that she had laid down before them. I, like many in this fight, am now afraid of my government. We have good reason to be.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on civil liberties, click here.
Two Portland residents say they will appear before a federal grand jury in Seattle Thursday in an investigation of anarchist activity, according to a statement they released on [August 1]. Grand jury subpoenas have also been served to activists in Olympia and Seattle ... according to the Seattle Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, which identifies itself as an association of progressive lawyers. The guild urged the U.S. Attorney’s Office to drop the subpoenas [because] they were being used “as a pretext for harassing political activists.” “It concerns us any time there are law-enforcement raids that target political literature, first amendment-protected materials,” [guild spokesman Neil] Fox said. Two weeks before a heavily armed, July 25 FBI raid that Dennison Williams and Leah-Lynn Plante said took place at their Portland home, the Seattle Police Department SWAT team seized evidence connected to the May Day investigation from a Judkins Park apartment of Occupy Seattle members. In both cases, those searched told media that law-enforcement charged into their homes [with a battering-ram] early in the morning and used a stun grenade, a non-lethal object that creates a disorienting loud bang and bright light. Williams told The Oregonian that the FBI took his laptop computer, cell phone, two thumb drives, multiple pieces of black clothing, and a T-shirt that read on the front “Multi Death Corporations.”
Note: Amazingly, the FBI raids on political activists in Seattle and Portland have gone completely unreported by the mass media. For analysis of the FBI's attacks on dissenters, click here, here and here. For a Democracy Now! video report, click here. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on civil liberties, click here.
The first systematic look at the New York police department's response to Occupy Wall Street protests paints a damning picture of an out-of-control and aggressive organization that routinely acted beyond its powers. In a report that followed an eight-month study, researchers at the law schools of NYU and Fordham accuse the NYPD of deploying unnecessarily aggressive force, obstructing press freedoms and making arbitrary and baseless arrests. The study ... found evidence that police made violent late-night raids on peaceful encampments, obstructed independent legal monitors and was opaque about its policies. The NYPD report is the first of a series to look at how police authorities in five US cities, including Oakland and Boston, have treated the Occupy movement since it began in September 2011. The research concludes that there now is a systematic effort by authorities to suppress protests, even when these are lawful and pose no threat to the public. Sarah Knuckey, a professor of law at NYU, said: "All the case studies we collected show the police are violating basic rights consistently, and the level of impunity is shocking". To be launched over the coming months, the reports are being done under the Protest and Assembly Rights Project, a national consortium of law school clinics addressing America's response to Occupy Wall Street.
The Department of Homeland Security will soon be using a laser at airports that can detect everything about you from over 160 feet away. This laser-based scanner ... could read everything from a person’s adrenaline levels, to traces of gun powder on a person’s clothes, to illegal substances — and it can all be done without a physical search. It also could be used on multiple people at a time, eliminating random searches at airports. The scanner is called the Picosecond Programmable Laser. The device works by blasting its target with lasers which vibrate molecules that are then read by the machine that determine what substances a person has been exposed to. The inventor of this invasive technology is Genia Photonics. Active since 2009, they hold 30 patents on laser technology designed for scanning. In 2011, they formed a partnership with In-Q-Tel, a company chartered by the CIA and Congress to build “a bridge between the Agency and a new set of technology innovators.” Although the technology could be used by “Big Brother,” Genia Photonics states that the device could be far more beneficial being used for medical purposes to check for cancer in real time, lipids detection, and patient monitoring.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on government threats to privacy, click here.
If you've ever been in a did-that-really-just-happen scenario, you might have wished you had a recorder running -- particularly when it comes to run-ins with the law. The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey just released an app that allows Android phone users to record and store their interactions with police to "hold police accountable." The app, cleverly called "Police Tape," also includes legal information about citizens' rights during encounters with law enforcement. What sets this apart from being just a video camera with a send button is that you can also record in "stealth mode." The app disappears from the screen once the recording starts, "to prevent any attempt by police to squelch the recording," according to the ACLU of New Jersey site. Users can send the recording to the organization through the app for backup storage and analysis. Though there is no federal law preventing recording police in public, some states have different statutes covering such activity. Earlier, the New York American Civil Liberties Union released its Stop and Frisk Watch application. The New York ACLU promotes that app as a way for bystanders and designated event observers to record incidents. That's probably a better idea than whipping out your phone when a cop asks for your license, particularly if you are in an emotionally charged or intense setting. That's probably not going to be received well.
Revelations that top officials are targeting people to be assassinated abroad, including American citizens, are only the most recent, disturbing proof of how far our nation’s violation of human rights has extended. This development began after [9/11] and has been sanctioned and escalated by bipartisan executive and legislative actions. While the country has made mistakes in the past, the widespread abuse of human rights over the last decade has been a dramatic change from the past. With leadership from the United States, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948 as “the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” This was a bold and clear commitment that power would no longer serve as a cover to oppress or injure people, and it established equal rights of all people to life, liberty, security of person, equal protection of the law and freedom from torture, arbitrary detention or forced exile. It is disturbing that, instead of strengthening these principles, our government’s counterterrorism policies are now clearly violating at least 10 of the declaration’s 30 articles, including the prohibition against “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Recent legislation has made legal the president’s right to detain a person indefinitely on suspicion of affiliation with terrorist organizations or “associated forces,” a broad, vague power that can be abused without meaningful oversight from the courts or Congress. This law violates the right to freedom of expression and to be presumed innocent until proved guilty, two other rights enshrined in the declaration.
Note: For revealing reports from major media sources on war crimes committed by US forces in the "global war on terror," click here.
Today marks two years of imprisonment of Private Bradley Manning. The US government was going to use Manning as a warning to anyone else who might feel compelled to report on war crimes, or any other crimes they witness from within the system. Blow the whistle, goes the warning, and you will be buried alive by the state, shredded by the same secrecy machine a whistleblower would try to expose. Because of courage and creativity of activists, Bradley Manning has not been forgotten, even if that was the aim of authorities, and he never shall be forgotten. His case has been largely shunned by most of the mainstream media, especially in the US. This needs to change, because if he is indeed found guilty of being a whistleblower of such magnitude that it shook the entire secrecy machine of our world out of its comfort zone, his acts would need to be honored as an inspiration to change the way governments hide the reality of their actions from the people they are supposed to be serving and informing. Manning should not be convicted in secret: the media should be given access to the court filings; and the media should be pushing harder for the first amendment of the US constitution to be honored in the Manning case.
Note: For key reports on government secrecy from reliable sources, click here.
Demonstrators in Montreal have continued to defy an emergency law passed by the provincial government in Quebec to restrict protests by students against planned tuition fee hikes. On Wednesday, more than 500 Montrealers were arrested – more than during the entire October 1970 crisis when martial law was declared in the city in response to actions by Quebec nationalists. The total number of those arrested in the current protests has now exceeded 2,500. The protest ... was declared illegal before it began, because organizers had not provided police with an itinerary, as required by a controversial new emergency law. Helicopters and riot police are an increasingly common sight on the streets of Montreal as a province-wide student strike passed the 100-day mark, but popular support only seems to be growing as the government attempts to clamp down on the strike. Small red squares, the symbol of the strike historically worn by Montreal students supporting free tuition, are everywhere in the city – cloth pinned to people's lapels and daubed onto signs and walls. Families and older residents are increasingly common sights at protests as well, demonstrating against Bill 78, which places restrictions on protests of more than 50 people. The bill imposes fines of $125,000 a day on student unions that defy its provisions, and student leaders shown to support unplanned protests can be fined up to a maximum of $5,000.
Note: For lots more on this important, yet underreported news, do a search on "Montreal protests."
As NATO protesters marched by the hundreds to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s house, three others were in court Saturday facing terrorism charges for allegedly planning to bomb the mayor’s residence, police stations and Obama’s campaign headquarters during the upcoming summit. Three men who had been arrested in a raid Wednesday appeared before a Cook County judge, charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism, possession of an explosive device and providing material support for terrorism. The men ... are being held on $1.5 million bond. Prosecutors alleged they had made Molotov cocktails and had discussed using other weapons, including swords and knives. Lawyers for the suspects disputed those claims. “There are a lot of sensational allegations being made,” said Kris Hermes, a spokesman for the National Lawyers Guild. “This is obviously an effort to chill dissent ahead of the NATO demonstrations.” As darkness fell, the crowds of protesters who gathered to show support to the terror suspects swelled to nearly 1,000, and there were several tense scuffles with police. At least 10 more protesters were detained, Hermes said.
Note: This entire article contains almost nothing about the trumped up charges against these protestors. You can learn more about police provocation of the group at this link.
Thousands of nurses and other protesters gathered [on May 18] at a downtown Chicago plaza for a noisy but peaceful demonstration demanding a "Robin Hood" tax on banks' financial transactions. Members of National Nurses United, the nation's largest nurses union, were joined by members of the Occupy movement, unions and veterans at the rally city officials have said could attract more than 5,000. The nurses and their supporters dressed in red shirts and wore green felt Robin Hood caps with red feathers. The rally — which originally was scheduled to coincide with the start of the G-8 economic summit before it was moved from Chicago to Camp David — drew a broad spectrum of causes, from anti-war activists to Occupy protesters. Meanwhile, lawyers for NATO summit protesters said police on [May 18] released four of nine activists arrested ... on accusations that they had or planned to make Molotov cocktails. The lawyers said police, with their guns drawn, raided an apartment building where activists were staying and arrested nine people. The Chicago chapter of the National Lawyers Guild said officers broke down doors in the building in the South Side Bridgeport neighborhood and produced no warrants. "The nine have absolutely no idea what they're being charged with because they were not engaged in any criminal activity at all," said guild attorney Sarah Gelsomino. "They're really very confused and very frightened." The Chicago Police Department refused to comment.
Note: For more on the defense of the victims of the police crackdown on Occupy in Chicago and elsewhere, click here. For a most excellent two-minute video of former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich presenting five of the most urgent problems with the economy and an easy solution all in two minutes, click here. For an enlightening five-minute TED talks video further showing how the rich getting richer while they pay increasingly less taxes is at the root of most economic woes, click here.
A judge on [May 16] blocked enforcement of a recently enacted law's provision that authorizes indefinite military detention for those deemed to have "substantially supported" al Qaeda, the Taliban or "associated forces." District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan ruled in favor of a group of civilian activists and journalists who said they feared being detained under a section of the law, which was signed by President Barack Obama in December 2011. "In the face of what could be indeterminate military detention, due process requires more," the judge said. She added that it was in the public interest to reconsider the law so that "ordinary citizens are able to understand the scope of conduct that could subject them to indefinite military detention." By issuing a preliminary injunction, the judge prevents the U.S. government from enforcing section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act's "Homeland Battlefield" provisions. During day-long oral arguments in March, Forrest heard lawyers for former New York Times war correspondent and Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges and others argue that the law would have a "chilling effect" on their work. The judge said she worried at the government's reluctance ... to specify whether examples of the plaintiffs' activities ... would fall under the scope of the provision. "Failure to be able to make such a representation... requires the court to assume that, in fact, the government takes the position that a wide swath of expressive and associational conduct is in fact encompassed by 1021," the judge wrote.
Note: For more on the courageous journalist behind this lawsuit, Chris Hedges, see his excellent columns at this link. For reports from major media sources on governmental threats to civil liberties, click here.
The five men accused of plotting the Sept. 11 attacks used their weekend war court appearances to stage “peaceful resistance to an unjust system” being used for political reasons, defense lawyers said Sunday — a day after the 9/11-accused turned the judge’s plans to hold a simple arraignment into a 13-hour marathon of prayer and protest. “The system is a rigged game to prevent us from doing our jobs,” argued criminal defense attorney David Nevin, accusing the prison camp commander of making it impossible to learn from alleged mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed how the CIA waterboarded him 183 times and used other since-outlawed techniques to break him. “The government wants to kill Mr. Mohammed,” Nevin said, “to extinguish the last eyewitness to his torture.” Each of the accused steadfastly refused to answer basic questions posed to them by Army Col. James L. Pohl, the war court’s chief judge, on whether they accepted their Pentagon-appointed attorneys. Instead, they periodically disrupted the proceedings with demonstrations of Muslim prayer and protests of prison conditions. “These men have endured years of inhumane treatment and torture” that will “infect every aspect of this military commission tribunal,” attorney James Connell III warned.
Note: For key reports from reliable sources on the destruction of civil liberties in the name of the "global war on terror," click here.
Washington looks set to wave through new cybersecurity legislation next week that opponents fear will wipe out decades of privacy protections at a stroke. The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (Cispa) will be discussed in the House of Representatives next week and already has the support of 100 House members. It will be the first such bill to go to a vote since the collapse of the Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) in January after global protests and a concerted campaign by internet giants such as Google, Wikipedia and Twitter. The author of the new bill, Mike Rogers, the Republican chair of the House intelligence committee, has said it is aimed at tracking the nefarious activities of hackers, terrorists and foreign states, especially China. But its critics charge the bill will affect ordinary citizens and overturn the privacy protections they now enjoy. Opponents fear the way it is currently drafted will open up ordinary citizens to unprecedented scrutiny. The bill uses the wording: "Notwithstanding any other provision of law," a phrase that if it became law would trump all existing legislation, according to critics. In one section, the bill defines "efforts to degrade, disrupt or destroy" a network as an area that would trigger a Cispa investigation. Opponents argue something as simple as downloading a large file – a movie for example – could potentially be defined as an effort to "degrade" a network. The bill also exempts companies from any liability for handing over private information.
Note: For lots more on government and corporate threats to civil liberties, click here.
Expert comparisons of hair, handwriting, marks made by firearms on bullets, and patterns such as bite marks and shoe and tire prints are in some ways unscientific and subject to human bias, a National Academy of Sciences panel chartered by Congress found. Even fingerprint identification is partly a subjective exercise that lacks research into the role of unconscious bias or even its error rate, the panel’s 328-page report said. Since 2002, failures have been reported at about 30 federal, state and local crime labs serving the FBI, the Army and eight of the nation’s 20 largest cities. A 2009 study of post-conviction DNA exonerations — now up to 289 nationwide — found invalid testimony in more than half the cases. FBI examiners claimed until recently that they can match fingerprints to the exclusion of any other person in the world with 100 percent certainty. The academy report found that assertion was “not scientifically plausible” and had chilled research into error rates. In 1999, a Justice Department official, Richard Rau, told a federal court that the department delayed such a study because of the legal ramifications. Meanwhile, errors occur. In 2004, DNA for the first time exonerated a person convicted with a fingerprint match and, separately, the FBI made its first publicly acknowledged fingerprint misidentification. Brandon Mayfield, a Portland, Ore., lawyer, mistakenly was arrested in connection with the terrorist train bombings in Madrid that killed 191 people.
Note: A Washington Post investigation recently found that over a 20 year period, "nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the corrupt prison industry built upon by systematic violations of civil rights.
The principles of openness and universal access that underpinned the creation of the internet three decades ago are under greater threat than ever, according to Google co-founder Sergey Brin. In an interview with the Guardian, Brin warned there were "very powerful forces that have lined up against the open internet on all sides and around the world". "I am more worried than I have been in the past," he said. "It's scary." The threat to the freedom of the internet comes, he claims, from a combination of governments increasingly trying to control access and communication by their citizens, the entertainment industry's attempts to crack down on piracy, and the rise of "restrictive" walled gardens such as Facebook and Apple, which tightly control what software can be released on their platforms. He said five years ago he did not believe China or any country could effectively restrict the internet for long, but now says he has been proven wrong. Brin's comments come on the first day of a week-long Guardian investigation of the intensifying battle for control of the internet being fought across the globe between governments, companies, military strategists, activists and hackers. From the attempts made by Hollywood to push through legislation allowing pirate websites to be shut down, to the British government's plans to monitor social media and web use, the ethos of openness championed by the pioneers of the internet and worldwide web is being challenged on a number of fronts.
Note: For lots more on government and corporate threats to civil liberties, click here.
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.