Civil Liberties News StoriesExcerpts of Key Civil Liberties News Stories in Major Media
Note: This comprehensive list of civil liberties news stories is usually updated once a week. Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.
More than 20 states have proposed bills that would crack down on protests and demonstrations since Donald Trump was elected, in a move that UN experts have branded “incompatible with US obligations under international human rights law”. The proposed laws would variously increase the penalties for protesting in large groups, ban protesters from wearing masks during demonstrations and, in some states, protect drivers from liability if they strike someone taking part in a protest. The ACLU and the National Lawyers Guild have said many of the bills are likely unconstitutional. The flurry of legislation has prompted UN experts to intervene, with two special rapporteurs from the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – the UN body which works to promote and protect human rights – to complain to the US state department at the end of March. In a recent letter to the government, David Kaye and Maina Kiai, from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), listed specific pieces of legislation which they said were “criminalizing peaceful protests”. Kaye and Kiai ... said the bills represent “a worrying trend that could result in a detrimental impact on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression in the country”.
Residents in North Carolina are fighting back against one of the state's most prominent industries: hog farming. But the legislation may not be on their side - a group of lawmakers in the state passed House Bill 467 last week, legislation that limits how much residents can collect in damages from hog farms. Hog farms in North Carolina dispose of pig feces and urine by spraying it, untreated, into the air where residents live. In response, nearly 500 of those residents ... from eastern North Carolina, brought a class action suit against Murphy-Brown, the state's largest producer of hogs. The lawsuit has now made its way to federal court. Residents have said the process of waste disposal has caused health problems. Much of the waste disposal affects low-income residents and black communities. "It can, I think, very correctly be called environmental racism or environmental injustice that people of color, low-income people bear the brunt of these practices," [University of North Carolina professor] Steve Wing ... said. "I shut my hog operation down, and I got out of it. And I ... just couldn't do another person that way, to make them smell that," Don Webb, a former pig factory farm owner, told Democracy Now. "You get stories like, 'I can't hang my clothes out.' Feces and urine odor comes by and attaches itself to your clothes." HB 467 ... was passed by both houses of the North Carolina Legislature. The bill would prevent people from recovering damages like those for healthcare bills and pain and suffering.
Note: In 2014, video footage of toxic cesspools around North Carolina farms exposed shockingly lax agricultural waste disposal standards. In response, the North Carolina Legislature passed a law to prevent whistle-blowers from exposing corporate wrongdoing. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the corporate world.
In 1953, the then-Director of Central Intelligence officially approved project MKUltra. Originally intended to make sure the United States government kept up with presumed Soviet advances in mind-control technology ... MKUltra has gone down in history as a significant example of government abuse of human rights. The intent of the project was to study “the use of biological and chemical materials in altering human behavior,” according to ... official testimony. Under MKUltra, the CIA gave itself the authority to [experiment on] unwitting test subjects, like drug-addicted prisoners, marginalized sex workers and terminal cancer patients. “The covert testing programs resulted in massive abridgements of the rights of American citizens, sometimes with tragic consequences,” concluded a Senate hearing in 1975-76. MKUltra wasn’t one project, as the US Supreme Court wrote in a 1985 decision. It was 162 different secret projects that were indirectly financed by the CIA, but were “contracted out to various universities ... and similar institutions.” In all, at least 80 institutions and 185 researchers participated, but many didn’t know they were dealing with the CIA. Many of MKUltra’s records were destroyed. But 8,000 pages of records - mostly financial documents that were mistakenly not destroyed in 1973 - were found in 1977. Nobody ever answered for MKUltra. Two lawsuits related to the program reached the Supreme Court, [writes Melissa Blevins for Today I Found Out], “but both protected the government over citizen’s rights.”
Note: Unfortunately, MK-ULTRA is far from the only program to have used humans as guinea pigs in attempts to create more powerful mind control technologies. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing mind control news articles from reliable major media sources.
Jose Charles was dazed, bleeding from his head and surrounded by police. His mother had gone to take one of the 15-year-old’s siblings to the bathroom at a Fourth of July celebration in Greensboro, N.C. - and returned to find an officer’s hand around Jose’s neck. Police charged Jose with four crimes, including attacking an officer. The teenager and his mother say police slammed and choked him without provocation. In a month, the court’s interpretation of the incident could determine Jose’s fate. Body camera footage from several officers who were at the scene of the encounter is sitting ... where almost no one can see it. Standing in the way of clarity and transparency, critics say, is a new North Carolina law that makes it more difficult than ever to view recordings of controversial interactions between police and members of the public. The law requires anyone who wants to see police body camera footage to pay a fee and plead their case to a Superior Court judge. The law gives an inordinate amount of power to prosecutors. Jose Charles’s mom, Tamara Figueroa ... said [her son] suffers from schizoaffective disorder. She said prosecutors have told her that if Jose doesn’t plead guilty to assault, they’ll ask a judge to send him to a [facility] which Figueroa calls “a kiddie jail,” unequipped to treat his mental illness. The video could change public perception and her son’s fate, Figueroa said: She has seen the footage and remains adamant that her son didn’t assault a police officer.
Undercover officers in the New York police department infiltrated small groups of Black Lives Matter activists and gained access to their text messages, according to newly released NYPD documents obtained by the Guardian. The records, produced in response to a freedom of information lawsuit ... provide the most detailed picture yet of the sweeping scope of NYPD surveillance during mass protests over the death of Eric Garner in 2014 and 2015. Lawyers said the new documents raised questions about NYPD compliance with city rules. The documents, mostly emails between undercover officers and other NYPD officials, follow other disclosures that the NYPD regularly filmed Black Lives Matter activists and sent undercover personnel to protests. In one email, an official notes that an undercover officer is embedded within a group of seven protesters on their way to Grand Central Station. This intimate access appears to have helped police pass as trusted organizers and extract information about demonstrations. In other emails, officers share the locations of individual protesters at particular times. Throughout the emails, the NYPD’s undercover sources provide little indication of any unlawful activity. “The documents uniformly show no crime occurring, but NYPD had undercovers inside the protests for months on end as if they were al-Qaida,” said David Thompson, an attorney of Stecklow & Thompson, who helped sue for the records.
Note: It was reported in 2015 that the Department of Homeland Security monitored the Black Lives Matter movement closely enough to produce "minute-by-minute reports on protesters’ movements". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on police corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
The Department of Justice proudly announced the first FBI terror arrest of the Trump administration on Tuesday: an elaborate sting operation that snared a 25-year-old Missouri man who had no terrorism contacts besides the two undercover FBI agents who paid him to buy hardware supplies they said was for a bomb - and who at one point pulled a knife on him and threatened his family. Robert Lorenzo Hester of Columbia, Missouri, didn’t have the $20 he needed to buy the 9-volt batteries, duct tape, and roofing nails his new FBI friends wanted him to get, so they gave him the money. The agents noted in a criminal complaint that Hester, who at one point brought his two small children to a meeting because he didn’t have child care, continued smoking marijuana despite professing to be a devout Muslim. But according to the DOJ press release, Hester had plans to conduct an “ISIS-sponsored terrorist attack” on President’s Day that would have resulted in mass casualties had it succeeded. News reports breathlessly echoed the government’s depiction of Hester as a foiled would-be terrorist. But the only contact Hester had with ISIS was with the two undercover agents. There appears to be little to suggest that [Hester] had the wherewithal or capacity to carry out a terrorist attack. His case is similar to many others in which individuals in financial, legal, or psychological distress have been befriended by undercover FBI agents or government informants and coaxed into developing a terrorist plot.
Note: The FBI has been stepping up its use of stings in ISIS cases. Read how an FBI mole posing as a potential lover recently convinced a man to become a terrorist. If terrorism is such a grave threat in the US, why does the FBI have to manufacture "terrorist" plots and then exaggerate its anti-terrorism success?
The FBI is investigating political activists campaigning against the Dakota Access pipeline, diverting agents charged with preventing terrorist attacks to instead focus their attention on indigenous activists and environmentalists. Officers within the FBI’s joint terrorism taskforce have attempted to contact at least three people tied to the Standing Rock “water protector” movement in North Dakota. “The idea that the government would attempt to construe this indigenous-led non-violent movement into some kind of domestic terrorism investigation is unfathomable to me,” said Lauren Regan, a civil rights attorney. “It’s outrageous, it’s unwarranted … and it’s unconstitutional.” Regan ... said she learned of three cases in which officers with the taskforce, known as the JTTF, tried to talk to activists in person. She described the encounters as attempted “knocks and talks”, meaning law enforcement showed up at people’s doors without a subpoena or warrant and tried to get them to voluntarily cooperate with an interview. The three individuals ... asserted their fifth amendment rights and did not respond to the officers, according to Regan. All three contacts were made in recent weeks after Trump’s inauguration. Trump, a former investor in Energy Transfer Partners, the Texas-based firm behind the pipeline, took executive action in his first week in office to expedite the project. On Wednesday, workers began drilling to complete the pipeline.
Note: The FBI has a long history of violating activists' rights. The 2011 National Defense Authorization Bill broadened the definition of "supporter of terrorism" to include peaceful activists, authors, academics and even journalists. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is turning to Silicon Valley after receiving a surge in funds from opponents of US President Donald Trump. The non-profit organisation received $24m (Ł19m) last weekend after a controversial immigration order was issued on Friday. ACLU is teaming up with Y Combinator - which usually works with start-ups - over how to best utilise the donations. The donations made online at the weekend were six times the yearly average the organisation receives. How could Y Combinator help ACLU? The California-based firm ... helps its clients - usually start-ups - with funding as well as mentorship and networking. It typically deals with young companies looking to grow, but has dealt with mature organisations in the past. Y Combinator said it was contributing an undisclosed sum of money and would send some of its staff to the ACLU's New York offices. Y Combinator's founder Sam Altman, an outspoken critic of Mr Trump's, said: "We've been talking to them (ACLU) for some time. We were generally planning to get started more slowly, but things are so urgent now." Mr Trump's executive order bans immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the country for 90 days. The US refugee program has also been suspended for 120 days. The ACLU, which has been around for about a century, was among the first to react to the order. It filed a lawsuit which led a federal judge to halt deportations of people detained in US airports.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing civil liberties news articles from reliable major media sources.
The problem of racial bias among police [has] been a concern of the FBI for at least a decade. 10 years ago ... the FBI warned of the potential consequences - including bias - of white supremacist groups infiltrating local and state law enforcement, indicating it was a significant threat to national security. In the 2006 bulletin, the FBI detailed the threat of white nationalists and skinheads infiltrating police in order to disrupt investigations against fellow members and recruit other supremacists. The bulletin was released during a period of scandal for many law enforcement agencies throughout the country, including a neo-Nazi gang formed by members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Similar investigations revealed officers and entire agencies with hate group ties in Illinois, Ohio and Texas. Much of the bulletin has been redacted, but in it, the FBI ... warned of “ghost skins,” hate group members who don’t overtly display their beliefs. “At least one white supremacist group has reportedly encouraged ghost skins to seek positions in law enforcement for the capability of alerting skinhead crews of pending investigative action against them,” the report read. Neither the FBI nor state and local law enforcement agencies have established systems for vetting personnel for potential supremacist links. That task is left primarily to everyday citizens and nonprofit organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of few that tracks the growing number of hate groups in America.
White supremacists and other domestic extremists maintain an active presence in U.S. police departments and other law enforcement agencies. [FBI] policies have been crafted to take this infiltration into account. An October 2006 FBI internal intelligence assessment ... raised the alarm over white supremacist groups’ “historical” interest in “infiltrating law enforcement communities or recruiting law enforcement personnel.” In 2009 ... a Department of Homeland Security intelligence study, written in coordination with the FBI, warned of the “resurgence” of right-wing extremism. The report concluded that “lone wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent right-wing extremist ideology are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States.” The report caused an uproar. Faced with mounting criticism, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano disavowed the document. The agency’s unit investigating right-wing extremism was largely dismantled and the report’s lead investigator was pushed out. “They stopped doing intel on that, and that was that,” Heidi Beirich, who leads the Southern Poverty Law Center’s tracking of extremist groups, told The Intercept. Daryl Johnson, who was the lead researcher on the DHS report ... says the problem has since gotten “a lot more troublesome.” Homeland Security has given up tracking right-wing domestic extremists. “It’s only the FBI now,” he said, adding that local police departments don’t seem to be doing anything to address the problem.
Using loopholes it has kept secret for years, the FBI can in certain circumstances bypass its own rules in order to send undercover agents or informants into political and religious organizations, as well as schools, clubs, and businesses. If the FBI had its way, the infiltration loopholes would still be secret. They are detailed in a mammoth document obtained by The Intercept, an uncensored version of ... the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, or DIOG. If an undercover agent wants to pose as a university student and take classes, or if an FBI handler wants to tell an informant to attend religious services - two examples straight out of the rulebook - he or she must obtain a supervisor’s approval and attest both to the operation’s importance and to its compliance with constitutional safeguards. But all those rules go out the window if an agent decides the group is “illegitimate” or an informant spies on the group of his or her own accord. Civil rights groups ... worry that the FBI has made use of precisely these kinds of loopholes, silently undermining cherished freedoms enshrined after a dark chapter of FBI history: the COINTELPRO program in the 1950s and ’60s, when the FBI spied on, harassed, and tried to discredit leftists, civil rights leaders, and anti-war protestors. The exposure of COINTELPRO led to a famous Senate investigation and to institutional reform. The DIOG, despite being hundreds of pages of dense bureaucracy, actually documents a loosening of the standards enacted to rein in the FBI after COINTELPRO and other scandals ... after the 9/11 attacks.
Note: Read a detailed essay on the FBI's COINTELPRO program from the well-researched online book Lifting the Veil. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
Four more journalists have been charged with felonies after being arrested while covering the unrest around Donald Trump’s inauguration, meaning that at least six media workers are facing up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine if convicted. A documentary producer, a photojournalist, a live-streamer and a freelance reporter were each charged with the most serious level of offense under Washington DC’s law against rioting, after being caught up in the police action against demonstrators. The Guardian learned of their arrests after reporting on Monday that the journalists Evan Engel of Vocativ and Alex Rubinstein of RT America had also been arrested and charged with felonies while covering the same unrest. All six were arraigned in superior court on Saturday and released to await further hearings. “These charges are clearly inappropriate, and we are concerned that they could send a chilling message to journalists covering future protests,” said Carlos Lauría, the [Committee to Protect Journalists'] senior Americas program coordinator. The National Lawyers’ Guild accused Washington DC’s metropolitan police department of having “indiscriminately targeted people for arrest en masse based on location alone” and said they unlawfully used teargas and other weapons. None of the arrest reports for the six journalists makes any specific allegations about what any of them are supposed to have done wrong.
Note: These outrageous charges come on the heels of similar tactics being used to silence reporters covering last October's Dakota Access Pipeline protests. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
Young black men were again killed by police at a sharply higher rate than other Americans in 2016. Black males aged 15-34 were nine times more likely than other Americans to be killed by law enforcement officers last year, according to data collected for The Counted, an effort by the Guardian to record every such death. They were also killed at four times the rate of young white men. Racial disparities persisted in 2016 even as the total number of deaths caused by police fell slightly. In all, 1,091 deaths were recorded for 2016, compared with 1,146 logged in 2015. Several 2015 deaths only came to light last year, suggesting the 2016 number may yet rise. The total is again more than twice the FBI’s annual number of “justifiable homicides” by police, counted in recent years under a voluntary system allowing police to opt out of submitting details of fatal incidents. Citing the Guardian findings, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) expressed renewed concern over Trump’s nomination of Jeff Sessions for US attorney general. Sessions ... has been hostile to critics of police, such as the Black Lives Matter movement. The 2016 data showed a decline in the number of unarmed people killed by police, a central concern of protests across the country after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014. A total of 169 unarmed people were killed in 2016, compared with 234 in 2015.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Law Department again has been sanctioned for withholding records involving a fatal police shooting, marking the eighth time in recent years a federal judge has formally punished the city [of Chicago] for failing to turn over potential evidence in a police misconduct lawsuit. U.S. District Court Judge Joan Gottschall on Tuesday ruled that the city acted in "bad faith" when it ignored a court order and made little effort to provide documents to the lawyer for the family of 20-year-old Divonte Young, who was shot and killed by an officer in 2012. In a sharply worded 24-page order, the judge criticized the city for its approach to discovery, the legal process that allows the two sides in a lawsuit to uncover relevant facts. "The City's cavalier attitude toward the discovery process ... warrant findings of willfulness, fault and bad faith," Gottschall wrote. In imposing her punishment, Gottschall ... stripped the city of legal protections that would have allowed its lawyers to withhold some documents from the Young family's lawyer. A Tribune investigation last year that analyzed nearly 450 cases alleging police misconduct since Emanuel took office found that a federal judge had to order the city to turn over potential evidence in nearly 1 of every 5 cases. The issue came to a head in January 2016, when a federal judge sanctioned one city lawyer for intentionally concealing evidence and ... took the rare step of tossing out a jury verdict in favor of the city and ordering a new trial.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing police corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
For a shocking glimpse of what’s been happening in the name of criminal justice in America, look no further than a Justice Department report last week on police behavior in Louisiana. Officers there have routinely arrested hundreds of citizens annually without probable cause, strip-searching them and denying them contact with their family and lawyers for days - all in an unconstitutional attempt to force cooperation with detectives who finally admitted they were operating on a mere “hunch” or “feeling.” This wholesale violation of the Constitution’s protection against unlawful search and seizure ... was standard procedure. The report described as “staggering” the number of people who were “commonly detained for 72 hours or more” with no opportunity to contest their arrest, in what the police euphemistically termed “investigative holds.” The sheriff’s office in Evangeline, with a population of 33,578, initiated over 200 such arrest-and-grilling sessions between 2012 and 2014. In Ville Platte, which has 7,303 residents, the local police department used the practice more than 700 times during the same years. The residents faced demands for information, the report said, “under threat of continued wrongful incarceration,” resulting in what may have been false confessions and improper convictions. “Literally anyone in Evangeline Parish or Ville Platte could be arrested and placed ‘on hold’ at any time,” the report found.
A bipartisan campaign to reduce mass incarceration has led to enormous declines in new inmates from big cities, cutting America’s prison population for the first time since the 1970s. But large parts of rural and suburban America ... have gone the opposite direction. Prison admissions in counties with fewer than 100,000 people have risen even as crime has fallen. Just a decade ago, people in rural, suburban and urban areas were all about equally likely to go to prison. But now people in small counties are about 50 percent more likely to go to prison than people in populous counties. The stark disparities in how counties punish crime show the limits of recent state and federal changes to reduce the number of inmates. Far from Washington and state capitals, county prosecutors and judges continue to wield great power over who goes to prison and for how long. And many of them have no interest in reducing the prison population. The divide does not appear to be driven by changes in crime, which fell in rural and urban areas at roughly equal rates. Cities have adopted a more lenient approach to drug offenses in particular, diverting many low-level drug offenders to probation or treatment rather than to jail. Those choices have started to reverse - if only modestly - longstanding racial disparities in American prisons, where blacks and Hispanics are incarcerated at drastically higher rates than whites. But rural, mostly white and politically conservative counties have continued to send more drug offenders to prison.
Note: The war on drugs has been called a "trillion-dollar failure," and spending on jails outpaced spending on schools by three times over the last 30 years. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about judicial system corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
By far the most populous of the three states that strip lifelong voting rights from people with felony convictions, Florida is home to some 1.5 million residents who can never again cast a ballot unless pardoned by the state’s governor. Florida’s legions of disenfranchised voters are disproportionately Democrat-leaning minorities - including nearly a quarter of Florida’s black population - numbers that advocates say amount to a long-standing and often ignored civil rights catastrophe. This ... mass disenfranchisement could have changed the outcome of some particularly important elections. Recently, after the state’s ... governor clamped down on the ability of ex-felons to have their rights restored, Donald Trump won the crucial swing state by a margin less than a tenth the size of the state’s disenfranchised population, leading some to question the effect that felony disenfranchisement may have had on the size of Trump’s Electoral College win. National groups, including the Democratic Party, have shown little interest in placing real resources behind recent efforts to roll back the country’s most impactful voting restriction. Yet in recent weeks, even without any significant organizational backing, a coalition composed largely of disenfranchised Floridians quietly reached a new landmark in a long and laborious fight to overturn the state’s law. On Monday ... Florida’s high court announced it had set a March date to consider the proposal to allow a referendum on the 2018 ballot asking voters to roll back the state’s felony voting restriction.
What do you say to someone who spent years on death row for a murder DNA evidence later proved he didn't commit? It's a question that Utah legislators and law students were faced with last week when they met Ray Krone, an Arizona man who was tried, convicted and sentenced to death for a 1991 Phoenix barroom slaying only to be exonerated and freed after years of staring down his potential execution. Krone is the 100th death row inmate freed in the United States since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976 and Utah executed Gary Gilmore. He was in Utah last week, meeting with more than a dozen legislators on Wednesday ahead of another attempt by death-penalty opponents to repeal Utah's law on executions in the upcoming legislative session. Last legislative session, a bill to repeal the death penalty passed the Senate but was blocked in the House. Marina Lowe, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, said stories like Krone's, where the system got it wrong, were missing from the debate last year. "I want the public to see there are actually two sides of the justice system. It's not simply that everyone has done something wrong or they wouldn't have been arrested," Krone said. "To ignore the fact that people are being exonerated and to ignore the fact that our justice system is getting it wrong, to ignore the fact that police and prosecutors can perjure themselves - to ignore that fact puts us all at danger in our justice system if we are caught up in that."
Note: 100 innocent people who would have been executed have been exonerated. How can this happen? Can we trust our judicial system with all of its corruption to sentence people to death? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing judicial system corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Given what we're seeing in the election's aftermath, photographer-filmmaker Lucian Read clearly picked a prescient title for his recent mini-doc series on inequality in the United States: America Divided, which ... took us to corners of a nation still hurting from the Great Recession. Read's latest short film, Mni Wiconi: The Standing at Standing Rock, turns a camera on the plight of Native Americans, a group that has been neglected and wronged perhaps more than any other in this nation. Members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North Dakota made national headlines for their protests against construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline - which the tribe says interferes with its ancestral land and water rights. This 1,172-mile oil pipeline ... is 95 percent complete despite the lack of the official easements and permits needed to finish it. In addition to introducing key anti-pipeline figures, such as Standing Rock chairman Dave Archambault II and local landowner and activist LaDonna Allard, Read's nine-minute film is a ... sketch of the conflict's root causes, from poverty to broken treaties to the "militarization of the oil industry," as one character puts it. "People standing together is powerful," says Jodi Gilette, President Barack Obama's special assistant for Native American affairs and a Standing Rock tribal member, noting the outpouring of support from unrelated tribes.
Note: Don't miss this beautiful, informative 8-minute video on what's happening at Standing Rock at the link above. For more on this under-reported movement, see this Los Angeles Times article and this article in the UK's Guardian. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
I do my best to resist the thought that prison is a reflection of our society, but the comparisons are unavoidable. From the moment I crossed the threshold from freedom to incarceration because I was charged with, and a jury convicted me of, leaking classified information to a New York Times reporter, I needed no reminder that I was no longer an individual. Prison, with its “one size fits all” structure, is not set up to recognize a person’s worth; the emphasis is removal and categorization. Inmates are not people; we are our offenses. Considering the charges and conviction that brought me here, I’m not exactly sure to which category I belong. No matter. There is an overriding category to which I do belong, and it is this prison reality that I sadly “compare unto the world”: I’m not just an inmate, I’m a black inmate. Here, I am my skin color. Whenever, in my stubborn idealism, I refuse to acknowledge being racially categorized and question the submission to it, the other prisoners invariably respond, “Man, this is prison.” What I see in prison is sad, but what I’m seeing from prison is worse. During my time in the CIA it became clear, in the organization’s words and actions toward me, that they saw me not as an American who wanted to serve his country but as “a big black guy.” There is a black America, there is a white America, there are many Americas. The greatness and promise of this country lies in equality reinforced by our differences. When I am free, I don’t want to feel that I’m merely going from one prison to another.
Note: The above was written by Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA agent targeted for prosecution as part of the Obama Administration's "crack down on the press and whistle-blowers." Author James Risen tried to help Sterling expose CIA racism, and later wrote an unrelated book exposing some questionable government practices. Sterling was then sent to prison for what Risen wrote. Risen's latest book exposes major government corruption related to the war on terror.
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.