Civil Liberties News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Civil Liberties News Articles in Media
(senior federal district judge) Jed A. Rakoff’s essay in The New York Review of Books ... tries to explain why innocent people so often plead guilty. At least 20,000 people have pled guilty to and gone to jail for felonies they did not commit — if you very conservatively take criminologists’ lowest estimates, and cut them in half. Rakoff identifies three ways the criminal justice system obstructs its own “truth seeking mechanism,” a trial by jury: 1. By embracing the increasingly popular plea bargain. 97 percent of federal trials were resolved last year through plea bargain. Plea bargains ... are weighted largely in favor of the prosecutor. The notion that a plea bargain is a contractual mediation between two relatively equal parties, Rakoff argues, “is a total myth”. 2. Through mandatory minimum sentences. The combination of mandatory sentences and prosecutorial discretion forces the defendant [to] run the risk of losing the case and serve the maximum sentence or take a reduced charge, at a reduced sentence, even when innocent. 3. Via the unfettered rise of prosecutorial power. Prosecutors have far more power ... than any other party involved in the criminal justice system. The one mechanism that could check their power is the jury trial, which is becoming “virtually extinct” in federal court, Rakoff writes. One possible solution to all these problems — aside from repealing mandatory minimum sentences and generally reducing the severity of sentences — is greater judicial oversight.
For almost 40 years, Carole Hinders has dished out Mexican specialties at her modest cash-only restaurant. She deposited the earnings at a small bank branch a block away — until last year, when two tax agents knocked on her door and informed her that they had seized her checking account. She has not been charged with any crime. The money was seized solely because she had deposited less than $10,000 at a time. Using a law designed to catch drug traffickers ... the government has gone after run-of-the-mill business owners and wage earners without so much as an allegation that they have committed serious crimes. The government can take the money without ever filing a criminal complaint. Richard Weber, the chief of Criminal Investigation at the I.R.S., said in a written statement ... that making deposits under $10,000 to evade reporting requirements, called structuring, is ... a crime. The Institute for Justice, a Washington-based public interest law firm ... analyzed structuring data from the I.R.S., which made 639 seizures in 2012, up from 114 in 2005. Only one in five was prosecuted as a criminal structuring case. Law enforcement agencies get to keep a share of whatever is forfeited. This incentive has led to the creation of a law enforcement dragnet, with more than 100 multiagency task forces combing through bank reports, looking for accounts to seize. There are often legitimate business reasons for keeping deposits below $10,000, said Larry Salzman, a lawyer with the Institute for Justice. For example, he said, a grocery store owner in Fraser, Mich., had an insurance policy that covered only up to $10,000 cash.
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[National security letters], the reach of which was expanded under the Patriot Act in 2001, let the FBI get business records from telephone, banking, and Internet companies with just a declaration that the information is relevant to a counterterrorism investigation. The FBI can get such information with a subpoena or another method with some judicial oversight. Can the government make demands for data entirely in secret? That was the question yesterday before a federal appeals court in San Francisco, where government lawyers argued that National Security Letters — FBI requests for information that are so secret they can’t be publicly acknowledged by the recipients — were essential to counterterrorism investigations. One of the judges seemed to question why there was no end-date on the gag orders, and why the burden was on the recipients of NSLs to challenge them. “It leaves it to the poor person who is subject to those requirements to just constantly petition the government to get rid of it,” said the judge, N. Randy Smith. The FBI sends out thousands of NSLs each year – 21,000 in fiscal year 2012. Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Microsoft filed a brief in support of the NSL challenge, arguing that they want to “publish more detailed aggregate statistics about the volume, scope and type of NSLs that the government uses to demand information about their users.” Twitter also announced this week that it was suing the U.S. government over restrictions on how it can talk about surveillance orders. Tech companies can currently make public information about the number of NSLs or Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court orders they receive in broad ranges, but Twitter wants to be more specific.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing civil liberties news articles from reliable major media sources.
Amid widespread criticism of the deployment of military-grade weapons and vehicles by police officers in Ferguson, MO ... NPR obtained data from the Pentagon on every military item sent to local, state and federal agencies through the Pentagon's Law Enforcement Support Office — known as the 1033 program — from 2006 through April 23, 2014. We took the raw data, analyzed it and have organized it. We are making that data set available to the public. The 1033 program is the key source of ... military items being sent to local law enforcement [such as] mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, or MRAPs. More than 600 of them have been sent ... mostly within the past year. The Pentagon has also distributed: 79,288 assault rifles, 205 grenade launchers, 11,959 bayonets, 3,972 combat knives, $124 million worth of night-vision equipment, including night-vision sniper scopes, 479 bomb detonator robots, 50 airplanes, 422 helicopters, [and] more than $3.6 million worth of camouflage gear and other "deception equipment." The list [also] includes building materials, musical instruments and even toiletries. Congress authorized the 1033 program in 1989 to equip local, state and federal agencies in the war on drugs. In 1996, Congress widened the program's scope to include counterterrorism. The data do not confirm whether either of those public safety goals are, in fact, driving decisions.
Development of a U.S. counterattack for cyberterrorism that could do more harm than good was one of the final events that drove Edward Snowden to leak government secrets, the former National Security Agency contractor tells Wired magazine. Snowden ... said the MonsterMind program was designed to detect a foreign cyberattack and keep it from entering the country. But it also would automatically fire back. The problem, he said, is malware can be routed through an innocent third-party country. "These attacks can be spoofed," he told Wired. MonsterMind for example ... could accidentally start a war. And it's the ultimate threat to privacy because it requires the NSA to gain access to virtually all private communications coming in from overseas. "The argument is that the only way we can identify these malicious traffic flows and respond to them is if we're analyzing all traffic flows," he said. "And if we're analyzing all traffic flows, that means we have to be intercepting all traffic flows. That means violating the Fourth Amendment, seizing private communications without a warrant, without probable cause or even a suspicion of wrongdoing. For everyone, all the time. You get exposed to a little bit of evil, a little bit of rule-breaking, a little bit of dishonesty, a little bit of deceptiveness, a little bit of disservice to the public interest, and you can brush it off, you can come to justify it," Snowden told Wired. "But if you do that, it creates a slippery slope that just increases over time. And by the time you've been in 15 years, 20 years, 25 years, you've seen it all and it doesn't shock you. And so you see it as normal."
Note: Read the cover story from Wired magazine with a deep inside report on Snowden.
When Australia's Susie O'Neill claimed the gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, she dedicated her victory to Scott Volkers, the swimming coach who had taken over her training two years earlier. By this time, three women who had been Volkers' students were losing belief in themselves and the swimming community. Julie Gilbert, Kylie Rogers and Simone Boyce took the stand at the royal commission into child abuse in Sydney this week to describe their mental breakdowns, eating disorders, anxiety and isolation from a swimming hierarchy that refused to believe them or failed to explore the possibility that Volkers molested them – as girls aged 12 to 18 – in the 1980s. Volkers remained on the payroll of elite Australian swimming institutions until 2010, when he was finally forced to move to Brazil, where he still works as a leading coach. Was it Australia's win-at-all-costs swimming culture that kept him in the presence of young athletes? An exasperated Andrew Boe, the lawyer representing Gilbert, Rogers and Boyce, pointed out: "This is not an examination of whether he was a good swimming coach or not." Nor is it an examination of the guilt or innocence of Volkers – against whom charges concerning these three alleged victims were dropped in 2002 – or other swimming coaches. It is an inquiry into the institutional responses to abuse. Swimming Australia's association with Volkers [ended] in 2005, when the coach's fourth accuser came forward with claims that Volkers had groped her breasts and attempted to stimulate her vagina in the late 1990s, when she was 15. The allegations were very similar to the earlier cases.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing sexual abuse scandals news articles from reliable major media sources.
The American Civil Liberties Union has released the results of its year-long study of police militarization. The study looked at 800 deployments of SWAT teams among 20 local, state and federal police agencies in 2011-2012. Among the notable findings: 62 percent of the SWAT raids surveyed were to conduct searches for drugs. Just 7 percent of SWAT raids were “for hostage, barricade, or active shooter scenarios.” In at least 36 percent of the SWAT raids studied, no contraband of any kind was found. This figure could be as high as 65 percent. SWAT tactics are disproportionately used on people of color. 65 percent of SWAT deployments resulted in some sort of forced entry into a private home. In over half those raids, the police failed to find any sort of weapon, the presence of which was cited as the reason for the violent tactics. SWAT teams today are overwhelmingly used to investigate people who are still only suspected of committing nonviolent consensual crimes. And because these raids often involve forced entry into homes, often at night, they’re actually creating violence and confrontation where there was none before. In short, we have police departments that are increasingly using violent, confrontational tactics to break into private homes for increasingly low-level crimes, and they seem to believe that the public has no right to know the specifics of when, how and why those tactics are being used.
The First Amendment protects public employees from job retaliation when they are called to testify in court about official corruption, the Supreme Court ruled [on June 19]. The unanimous decision cheered whistleblower advocates, who said it could encourage more government workers to cooperate with prosecutors in public fraud cases without fear of losing their livelihoods. The justices decided in favor of Edward Lane, a former Alabama community college official who says he was fired after testifying at the criminal fraud trial of a state lawmaker. Lower courts had ruled against Lane, finding that he was testifying as a college employee, not as a citizen. Writing for the court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said Lane's testimony was constitutionally protected because he was speaking as a citizen on a matter of public concern, even if it covered facts he learned at work. In past cases, the court has said that public employees generally do not have free-speech rights when they discuss matters learned at their jobs. "This ruling gives a green light to all public employees who have information concerning official corruption and fraud and want to expose these crimes," said Stephen Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center. He predicted the decision [will] have a "wide impact" on investigations of securities, banking and tax fraud. Lane was director of a college youth program at Central Alabama Community College in 2006 when he discovered that a state lawmaker, Sue Schmitz, was on the payroll but not showing up for work. Lane fired Schmitz despite warnings that doing so could jeopardize his own job.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing civil liberties news articles from reliable major media sources.
The opportunity those in power have to characterise political opponents as "national security threats" or even "terrorists" has repeatedly proven irresistible. In the past decade, the government ... has formally so designated environmental activists, broad swaths of anti-government rightwing groups, anti-war activists, and associations organised around Palestinian rights. One document from the Snowden files, dated 3 October 2012, chillingly underscores the point. It revealed that the agency has been monitoring the online activities of individuals it believes express "radical" ideas and who have a "radicalising" influence on others. Among the information collected about the individuals, at least one of whom is a "US person", are details of their online sex activities and "online promiscuity." The agency discusses ways to exploit this information to destroy their reputations and credibility. The record is suffused with examples of groups and individuals being placed under government surveillance by virtue of their dissenting views and activism – Martin Luther King, the civil rights movement, anti-war activists, environmentalists. The NSA's treatment of Anonymous ... is especially troubling and extreme. Gabriella Coleman, a specialist on Anonymous at McGill University, said that [Anonymous] "is not a defined" entity but rather "an idea that mobilises activists to take collective action and voice political discontent. It is a broad-based global social movement with no centralised or official organised leadership structure. Some have rallied around the name to engage in digital civil disobedience, but nothing remotely resembling terrorism."
When NSA contractor Edward Snowden downloaded tens of thousands of top-secret documents from a highly secure government network, it led to the largest leak of classified information in history — and sparked a fierce debate over privacy, technology and democracy in the post-9/11 world. Now, in "United States Of Secrets," FRONTLINE goes behind the headlines to reveal the dramatic inside story of how the U.S. government came to monitor and collect the communications of millions of people around the world—including ordinary Americans—and the lengths they went to trying to hide the massive surveillance program from the public. “This is as close to the complete picture as anyone has yet put together — and it’s bigger and more pervasive than we thought,” says veteran FRONTLINE filmmaker Michael Kirk. In part one ... Kirk [pieces] together the secret history of the unprecedented surveillance program that began in the wake of September 11 and continues today – even after the revelations of its existence by Edward Snowden. Then, in part two, premiering Tuesday, May 20 ..., veteran FRONTLINE filmmaker Martin Smith continues the story, exploring the secret relationship between Silicon Valley and the National Security Agency, and investigating how the government and tech companies have worked together to gather and warehouse your data. “Through in-depth interviews with more than 60 whistleblowers, elected officials, journalists, intelligence insiders and cabinet officials, we have woven together the secret narrative that reveals the scale and scope of the government’s spying program,” says Kirk.
On Sunday 9 June 2013, the Guardian published the story that revealed [Edward] Snowden to the world. The article told Snowden's story, conveyed his motives, and proclaimed that "Snowden will go down in history as one of America's most consequential whistleblowers, alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley [now Chelsea] Manning." We quoted [a note from Snowden that said:] "I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions … but I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant." The reaction to the article and the video was more intense than anything I had experienced as a writer. Ellsberg himself, writing the following day in the Guardian, proclaimed that "there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden's release of NSA material – and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago". Several hundred thousand people posted the link to their Facebook accounts in the first several days alone. Almost three million people watched the interview on YouTube. Many more saw it on the Guardian's website. The overwhelming response was shock and inspiration at Snowden's courage.
Note: Don't miss the full, exciting story of how Snowden originally came to leak his stunning information at the link above. This excerpt is from the new book No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald. For more on government surveillance, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
A federal judge in Newark has thrown out a lawsuit against the New York Police Department for spying on New Jersey Muslims, saying if anyone was at fault, it was the Associated Press for telling people about it. In his ruling ... U.S. District Court Judge William J. Martini simultaneously demonstrated the willingness of the judiciary to give law enforcement alarming latitude in the name of fighting terror, greenlighted the targeting of Muslims based solely on their religious beliefs, and blamed the media for upsetting people by telling them what their government was doing. The NYPD’s clandestine spying on daily life in Muslim communities in the region — with no probable cause, and nothing to show for it — was exposed in a Pulitzer-Prize winning series of stories by the AP. The stories described infiltration and surveillance of at least 20 mosques, 14 restaurants, 11 retail stores, two grade schools, and two Muslim student associations in New Jersey alone. In a cursory, 10-page ruling issued before even hearing oral arguments, Martini essentially said that what the targets didn’t know didn’t hurt them: "None of the Plaintiffs’ injuries arose until after the Associated Press released unredacted, confidential NYPD documents and articles expressing its own interpretation of those documents. Nowhere in the Complaint do Plaintiffs allege that they suffered harm prior to the unauthorized release of the documents by the Associated Press. This confirms that Plaintiffs’ alleged injuries flow from the Associated Press’s unauthorized disclosure of the documents. The harms are not “fairly traceable” to any act of surveillance."
Note: For more on government corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
The United States did not live up to the promise of the First Amendment last year, “far from it,” sinking to 46th in global press freedom rankings, a respected international nonprofit group said. The U.S. plummeted 13 slots to 46th overall “amid increased efforts to track down whistle-blowers and the sources of leaks,” Reporters Without Borders warned in an annual report. “The trial and conviction of Private Bradley Manning and the pursuit of NSA analyst Edward Snowden were warnings to all those thinking of assisting in the disclosure of sensitive information that would clearly be in the public interest,” the organization said. The group ... also cited the Department of Justice’s seizure of Associated Press telephone records and a court’s pressure on New York Times reporter James Risen to testify against a CIA staffer accused of leaking classified information. “The whistle-blower is clearly the enemy in the U.S.,” Delphine Halgand, who heads the RSF outpost in Washington, told Yahoo News. “Eight whistle-blowers have been charged under the Obama administration, the highest number of any administration, of all other administrations combined.” Overall, RSF said in its report, “countries that pride themselves on being democracies and respecting the rule of law have not set an example, far from it.” “Freedom of information is too often sacrificed to an overly broad and abusive interpretation of national security needs, marking a disturbing retreat from democratic practices. Investigative journalism often suffers as a result,” the group said.
Note: As if to underscore the sad state of US press freedom, we couldn't find any major media who reported this sad news, other than a Washington Post blog at this link, which simply downplays the news and tries to explain it away. To read how the media censors some of the biggest stories never reported, click here.
After a tumultuous year at the war-on-terror detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the U.S. military's motto is "Safe, Humane, Legal, Transparent," operations are cloaked in secrecy. The prison approaches the start of its 13th year next week with a new reclusive regime that no longer discloses what was once routinely released information. The daily tally of hunger striking detainees — the protest that engulfed more than 100 prisoners at its peak this summer — stopped in December. Guards and other prison camp troops are under orders to withhold their names when talking to reporters. On the witness stand in the war court recently, a lawyer in the uniform of an Air Force officer gave sworn testimony under a curious, unexplained fake name — "Major Krueger." Guantanamo is remote, and what is happening there in this new era has mostly gone unnoticed. The government controls access to everything pertaining to Guantanamo. Journalists have to get the military's permission to go there, navigate censorship of their pictures, wait 40 seconds to hear what happens in court and then wait weeks to see court filings. The current crackdown on information can range from the mildly curious to the outright comedic. At times it seems to signify a gratuitous use of power by troops on rotation with sudden power to [wield] a censor's scissors. At times, it suggests a government bureaucracy whose default is knee-jerk secrecy.
Note: For more on government secrecy, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Federal officials on [December 9] unsealed five criminal cases filed against 18 current and former Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies as part of an FBI investigation into allegations of civil rights abuses and corruption in the nation's largest jail system. Four grand jury indictments and a criminal complaint allege unjustified beatings of jail inmates and visitors at downtown Los Angeles jail facilities, unjustified detentions and a conspiracy to obstruct a federal investigation into misconduct at the Men's Central Jail. The FBI has been investigating allegations of excessive force and other misconduct at the county's jails since at least 2011. [An] official said the arrests were related to the abuse of individuals in the jail system and also allegations that sheriff's officials moved an FBI informant in the jails possibly to thwart their probe. Among those charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice in the 18-page indictment are two lieutenants, one of whom oversaw the department's safe jails program and another who investigated allegations of local crimes committed by sheriff's personnel, two sergeants and three deputies. All seven are accused of trying to prevent the FBI from contacting or interviewing an inmate who was helping federal agents in a corruption and civil rights probe. In an attempt to find out more information about the investigation, one lieutenant and the two sergeants sought a court order to compel the FBI to provide documents, prosecutors said. When a state judge denied the proposed order, the two sergeants allegedly attempted to intimidate one of the lead FBI agents outside her house and falsely told her they were going to seek a warrant for her arrest, the indictment said.
Note: For more on government corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
The partner of the Guardian journalist [Glenn Greenwald], who has written a series of stories revealing mass surveillance programmes by the US National Security Agency, was held for almost nine hours ... by UK authorities as he passed through London's Heathrow airport on his way home to Rio de Janeiro. David Miranda ... was returning from a trip to Berlin when he was stopped by officers at 8.05am and informed that he was to be questioned under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. The controversial law, which applies only at airports, ports and border areas, allows officers to stop, search, question and detain individuals. The 28-year-old was held for nine hours, the maximum the law allows before officers must release or formally arrest the individual. According to official figures, most examinations under schedule 7 – over 97% – last less than an hour, and only one in 2,000 people detained are kept for more than six hours. Miranda was released, but officials confiscated electronics equipment including his mobile phone, laptop, camera, memory sticks, DVDs and games consoles. "This is a profound attack on press freedoms and the news gathering process," Greenwald said. "To detain my partner for a full nine hours while denying him a lawyer, and then seize large amounts of his possessions, is clearly intended to send a message of intimidation to those of us who have been reporting on the NSA and GCHQ. The actions of the UK pose a serious threat to journalists everywhere. But the last thing it will do is intimidate or deter us in any way from doing our job as journalists. Quite the contrary: it will only embolden us more to continue to report aggressively."
Note: For more on government attacks on civil liberties, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
A small organic farm in Arlington, Texas, was the target of a massive police action ... that included aerial surveillance, a SWAT raid and a 10-hour search. Members of the local police raiding party had a search warrant for marijuana plants, which they failed to find at the Garden of Eden farm. Farm owners and residents who live on the property [said] that the real reason for the law enforcement exercise appears to have been code enforcement. Local authorities had cited the Garden of Eden in recent weeks for code violations, including "grass that was too tall, bushes growing too close to the street, a couch and piano in the yard, chopped wood that was not properly stacked, a piece of siding that was missing from the side of the house, and generally unclean premises." The raid on the Garden of Eden farm appears to be the latest example of police departments using SWAT teams and paramilitary tactics to enforce less serious crimes. In recent years, SWAT teams have been called out to perform regulatory alcohol inspections at a bar in Manassas Park, Va.; to raid bars for suspected underage drinking in New Haven, Conn.; to perform license inspections at barbershops in Orlando, Fla.; and to raid a gay bar in Atlanta where police suspected customers and employees were having public sex. A federal investigation later found that Atlanta police had made up the allegations of public sex. Other raids have been conducted on food co-ops and Amish farms suspected of selling unpasteurized milk products. The federal government has for years been conducting raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in states that have legalized them.
Note: The author of this report, Radley Balko, is a senior writer and investigative reporter for The Huffington Post. He is also the author of the new book, Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces. For an ABC News report on this disturbing raid, click here.
A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans. Documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin—not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges. The undated documents show that federal agents are trained to "recreate" the investigative trail to effectively cover up where the information originated, a practice that some experts say violates a defendant's constitutional right to a fair trial. If defendants don't know how an investigation began, they cannot know to ask to review potential sources of exculpatory evidence—information that could reveal entrapment, mistakes or biased witnesses. "I have never heard of anything like this at all," said Nancy Gertner, a Harvard Law School professor who served as a federal judge from 1994 to 2011. Gertner and other legal experts said the program sounds more troubling than recent disclosures that the National Security Agency has been collecting domestic phone records. The NSA effort is geared toward stopping terrorists; the DEA program targets common criminals, primarily drug dealers. "It is one thing to create special rules for national security," Gertner said. "Ordinary crime is entirely different. It sounds like they are phonying up investigations."
Note: For more on government corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
As the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington approaches ... where Martin Luther King Jr gave his famous "I have a dream" speech, it is important to recall the extent to which King was targeted by the government. The FBI operation against King is one of the most shameful episodes in the long history of our government's persecution of dissenters. In a heavily redacted, classified FBI memo dated 4 January 1956 – just a little more than a month after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger – stated that an agent "had been assigned ... to find out all he could about Reverend Martin L King, colored minister in Montgomery and leader in the bus boycott … to uncover all the derogatory information he could about King." [FBI] director, J Edgar Hoover ... was deploying the vast resources he controlled against any and all perceived critics of the United States. The far-reaching clandestine surveillance, infiltration and disruption operation Hoover ran was dubbed "COINTELPRO", for counterintelligence program. The FBI's COINTELPRO activities ... were thoroughly investigated in 1975 by the Church Committee, [which] reported that the FBI "conducted a sophisticated vigilante operation aimed squarely at preventing the exercise of first amendment rights of speech and association." Among COINTELPRO's perverse activities was an FBI effort to threaten Martin Luther King Jr with exposure of an alleged extramarital affair, including the suggestion, made by the FBI to King, that he avoid embarrassment by killing himself. Deeply concerned about the crackdown on dissent happening under Obama, scholar Cornel West ... wondered if [King] "would not be invited to the very march in his name."
Note: This article fails to mention a key fact. At a 1999 court trial held in Memphis, the family of Rev. King accused elements of the U.S. government of complicity in King's death. After one month of hearings from 70 witnesses, a jury composed of six white and six black jurors took only one hour to find the U.S. government, the state of Tennessee, the city of Memphis, the Memphis police, and several individuals guilty of murdering King. Yet the mainstream media completely boycotted this trial. Thankfully, CBC (Canada's PBS) gave it some coverage. To see a six-minute CBC clip of this highly revealing trial, click here.
FBI Director Robert Mueller acknowledged [to the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 19 that] the law enforcement agency uses drone aircraft in the United States for surveillance. He did not say how many unmanned surveillance vehicles (UAVs) the FBI has or how often they have been used. But a law enforcement official told CNN the FBI has used them a little more than a dozen times but did not say when that started. The official said drones are useful in hostage and barricade situations because they operate more quietly and are less visible than traditional aircraft such as helicopters. Bureau spokesman Paul Bresson said their use allows "us to learn critical information that otherwise would be difficult to obtain without introducing serious risk to law enforcement personnel." Bresson said the aircraft can only be used to perform surveillance on stationary subjects and the FBI must first get approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly in a "very confined geographic area." Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein expressed concern over drone use domestically. "I think the greatest threat to the privacy of Americans is the drone and the use of the drone, and the very few regulations that are on it today and the booming industry of commercial drones," the California Democrat said. The FAA forecasts some 10,000 civilian drones will be in use in the United States within five years, including those for law enforcement and commercial purposes.
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