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Civil Liberties News Stories
Excerpts of Key Civil Liberties News Stories in Major Media


Below are highly revealing excerpts of important civil liberties news stories reported in the media that suggest a major cover-up. Links are provided to the full stories on their major media websites. If any link fails to function, read this webpage. These civil liberties news stories are listed by date posted to this webpage. You can explore the same articles listed by order of importance or by article date. By choosing to educate ourselves on these important issues and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.

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.


Guantánamo detainee who wrote a book about his torture to be released
2016-07-20, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2016-07-24 22:41:25
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jul/20/mohamedou-ould-slahi-release-...

One of the most tortured men in the history of Guantánamo Bay has received clearance from the wartime prison’s quasi-parole board to leave after nearly 14 years of detention without charge. Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a Mauritanian citizen whose harrowing account of his torture at Guantánamo Bay became an international bestseller in 2015, will soon leave behind the Cuban detention center where US military personnel contorted his body; bombarded him with noise; deprived him of sleep; stuffed his clothing with ice during a nighttime boat ride meant to to convince him he was headed to an even worse place; threatened his life; and threatened his mother with rape. A nonlegal panel representing various US security agencies tasked with assessing threats posed by Guantánamo’s 76 residual detainees, found Slahi to represent no “continuing significant threat to the security of the United States”. The consensus decision, reached on 14 July, was made public on Wednesday. A federal judge in 2010 [had previously] ordered him freed for lack of evidence untainted by torture to justify his detention, yet the US justice department appealed. In the summer of 2003, senior Guantánamo officials, believing Slahi was an important link to al-Qaida, sought and received permission from the Pentagon to torture him. US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld personally approved Slahi’s torture. In his book, Slahi recalled ... that he would tell his tormentors whatever they wished to hear. “I don’t care, as long as you are pleased,” Slahi informed his interrogators.

Note: By the time Slahi's bestselling book Guantanamo Diary was published, leaked documents obtained by BBC News had revealed that more than 150 innocent people were detained at Guantanamo after being rounded up for no reason. For more along these lines, read about how the torture program fits in with a long history of human experimentation by corrupt intelligence agencies working alongside unethical scientists.


We Should Beware Police Killings by Robot or Drone
2016-07-12, Newsweek
Posted: 2016-07-17 20:24:18
http://www.newsweek.com/we-should-beware-police-killings-robot-or-drone-47970...

On July 7, Dallas police officers used a bomb robot to kill the suspected perpetrator of a shooting that left five Dallas-area police officers dead and seven others wounded. While police have used robots to deliver chemical agents and pizza, it looks as if the deployment of the robot bomb on Thursday night was the first time American police officers have used a robot to kill someone. According to Dallas Police Chief David Brown, “We saw no other option but to use our bomb robot and place a device on its extension for it to detonate where the suspect was.” The death of the alleged shooter in Dallas should prompt us to think carefully about how new technologies will be used by police to deliver lethal force. Robots like the one used by Dallas police are used by police departments across the country as part of bomb squads. But it’s worth keeping in mind that these robots will continue to improve, making it easier for police to use them in situations like the standoff in Dallas. Other tools such as drones could also potentially be used to kill suspects. In fact, North Dakota has legalized the use of armed drones in some circumstances, and Florida law defines a police drone as one that can “carry a lethal or nonlethal payload.” As technology improves, using tools such as robots to kill dangerous suspects will become easier, and we shouldn’t be surprised if they proliferate. Amid such changes we should keep a careful eye on how and when police use remote devices, especially in cases not as clear cut as the recent standoff.

Note: The use of robots in warfare has been increasing. Militarization of US police, led by the Pentagon, suggests that robots will also be increasingly used in domestic law enforcement. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing police corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


How a $2 Roadside Drug Test Sends Innocent People to Jail
2016-07-07, New York Times
Posted: 2016-07-17 20:16:55
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/10/magazine/how-a-2-roadside-drug-test-sends-i...

Police officers arrest more than 1.2 million people a year in the United States on charges of illegal drug possession. Field tests ... help them move quickly from suspicion to conviction. But the kits - which cost about $2 each and have changed little since 1973 - are far from reliable. Some tests ... use a single tube of a chemical called cobalt thiocyanate, which turns blue when it is exposed to cocaine. But cobalt thiocyanate also turns blue when it is exposed to more than 80 other compounds, including methadone, certain acne medications and several common household cleaners. Other tests use three tubes, which the officer can break in a specific order to rule out everything but the drug in question - but if the officer breaks the tubes in the wrong order, that, too, can invalidate the results. There are no established error rates for the field tests, in part because their accuracy varies so widely depending on who is using them and how. In Las Vegas, authorities re-examined a sampling of cocaine field tests conducted between 2010 and 2013 and found that 33 percent of them were false positives. By 1978, the Department of Justice had determined that field tests “should not be used for evidential purposes,” and the field tests in use today remain inadmissible at trial in nearly every jurisdiction. But this has proved to be a meaningless prohibition. Most drug cases in the United States are decided well before they reach trial, by the far more informal process of plea bargaining.

Note: Drug test field kits sometimes produce wildly inaccurate results. And recently the FBI was found to have faked an entire branch of forensic science. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing judicial corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


I’m Jewish, and I want people to boycott Israel
2016-06-24, Washington Post
Posted: 2016-07-11 16:54:19
https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/06/24/im-jewish-and-i-w...

In 2009, I was living in Tel Aviv during Operation Cast Lead. During that offensive, Israel killed about 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza. To take concrete action to bring about freedom and full rights for Palestinians ... I embraced the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. The non-violent effort, started in 2005 by a broad coalition of Palestinian civil society organizations, is a call for solidarity from the international community until Israel complies with international law and ends its violations of Palestinian rights. It’s hard going though. Seven years later, there have been two more horrific assaults on Gaza. During this time there have been attacks on Israeli civilians too. These are a horrifying symptom of ongoing occupation and repression, as Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai pointed out after a recent attack in Tel Aviv killed four Jewish Israelis. BDS is a powerful way to encourage the state to act. But our efforts have been threatened here in the United States by a nationally coordinated, well-funded strategy financed by the Israeli government and advocacy organizations. Over the last year, 22 states have introduced or passed anti-BDS legislation. Many of these measures make it illegal for states to do business with companies that support BDS. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has escalated that strategy with a draconian executive order that would create a blacklist of companies and organizations that choose not to invest in Israel or that advocate for BDS.

Note: Read an Israeli soldier's account of following orders to methodically kill women and children in Israel's 2009 Gaza offensive. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


The FDA is stockpiling military weapons — and it’s not alone
2016-06-26, Boston Globe
Posted: 2016-07-03 14:53:39
http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2016/06/25/the-fda-stockpiling-military-we...

The [FDA] amassed a stockpile of pistols, shotguns, and semiautomatic rifles, along with ample supplies of ammunition, liquid explosives, gun scopes, and suppressors. Between 2006 and 2014, [the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, an agency of the USDA] spent nearly $4.8 million to arm itself. And far from being an outlier, it is one of dozens of federal agencies that spends lavishly on guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment. A report issued this month by American Transparency ... chronicles the explosive - and expensive - trend toward militarizing federal agencies, most of which have no military responsibilities. Between 2006 and 2014, the report shows, 67 federal bureaus, departments, offices, and services spent at least $1.48 billion on ammunition and material one might expect to find in the hands of SWAT teams, Special Forces soldiers - or terrorists. The Internal Revenue Service, for example, now spends more than $1 million annually on firearms, ammunition, and military gear. Since 2006, the Department of Veterans Affairs ... has poured nearly $11.7 million into guns and ammo. Even the Smithsonian Institution and the Social Security Administration have each devoted hundreds of thousands of dollars to weaponry. There are now fewer US Marines than there are officers at federal administrative agencies with the authority to carry weapons and make arrests.

Note: The Washington Post in 2009 reported that military influence over US civilian authorities was quietly increasing, and the militarization of US police has been well-documented. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.


Innocent women tortured in Mexico to boost arrest figures, report says
2016-06-27, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2016-07-03 14:51:21
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/27/mexico-torture-amnesty-report-i...

Tailyn Wang was two months pregnant when federal police officers broke into her house in Mexico City, ripped off her nightgown and threw her to the ground. They groped her breasts while punching and kicking her in front of her terrified children, before taking her blindfolded to a police base – without an arrest warrant. Wang is one of scores of innocent women illegally arrested and tortured by Mexican security services looking to boost arrest figures to justify the war on drugs, according to damning new research by Amnesty International. Of the 100 women interviewed for the report, 72 said they were sexually abused during or soon after the arrest. Ten of the women were pregnant when arrested; eight subsequently suffered a miscarriage. The vast majority were young, poor, single mothers. Most spend years in prison awaiting trial, without access to adequate healthcare or legal advice. Wang, who has reported the torture to judges, prosecutors, doctors, and the National Commission for Human Rights, was falsely accused by an acquaintance, a local police officer, after he was also tortured. Reports of torture have increased exponentially in Mexico since former President Felipe Calderón first deployed tens of thousands of armed forces on the streets to combat warring drug cartels and organised crime. The navy, which has been deployed in some of the most violent states ... appears to have a particularly serious torture problem. Among the women interviewed by Amnesty, eight out of the ten arrested by the navy were raped.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing police corruption and sexual abuse scandal news articles from reliable major media sources.


Terror watch lists have grown dramatically since 9/11
2016-06-17, Washington Post
Posted: 2016-06-26 20:50:34
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/terror-watch-lists-hav...

The push by congressional Democrats to bar suspected terrorists from acquiring guns and explosives has focused renewed attention on the government’s secretive terrorist watch lists, which have grown exponentially since the 9/11 attacks. Since the mass shooting in a gay nightclub in Orlando on June 12, Democrats have endorsed various measures to get weapons out of the hands of people on the lists. The Orlando shooter, Omar Mateen, had been on the FBI’s terrorist watch list but was removed in 2014. His was one of approximately 800,000 names in that database, the most prominent of at least seven overlapping watch lists. The government does not release the exact number of watch lists or the specific criteria for getting on them. The no-fly list ... contained 16 people on Sept. 11, 2001. By 2014, it had grown to about 64,000 people. Civil liberties advocates [say] the watch lists are riddled with inaccurate and outdated information, nearly impossible to get off and stigmatize the people on them. The largest watch list is The Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE), maintained by the National Counterterrorism Center. As of August 2014, it contained about 1.1 million names. The FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center ... maintains what is known as the government’s "consolidated Terrorist Watchlist." It contains about 800,000 names. Last year, [a] federal judge ruled that the government’s lack of effective procedures for people to challenge their inclusion on the no-fly list was unconstitutional.

Note: A 2013 New York Times article further describes the rapid expansion of these mysterious lists, which are made according to secret rules. Some people have reportedly been added to watch lists by federal air marshals simply to meet quotas. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing civil liberties news articles from reliable major media sources.


Cleveland Bans Soapboxes and Sleeping Bags, Not Guns, Near Republican Convention
2016-06-22, The Intercept
Posted: 2016-06-26 20:48:14
https://theintercept.com/2016/06/22/cleveland-gears-up-for-republican-convent...

Anyone venturing into a 3.3-square-mile “event zone” surrounding next month’s Republican National Convention will be prohibited from carrying tennis balls, tape, rope, bike locks, sleeping bags, or any object they could stand on to rise above the crowd and speak. But if they have a license, they’ll be permitted to openly carry real guns, including assault weapons. The restrictions imposed on the large event zone drawn around Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena ... have earned the city a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Ohio and widespread criticism. “It’s the first time I’ve gone to a protest where there’s been so much talk of guns and the fact that people can carry them legally,” said [activist] John Penley. “They throw pro- and anti-Trump protesters together, and throw in the fact that maybe people will be carrying weapons. It seems like what they want to do is increase the chances for conflict.” Cleveland received a $50 million federal grant to gear up for the RNC. The city has obtained ... 10,000 sets of flex cuffs; “nonlethal munitions” like bean bag pellets; pepper spray; 2,000 sets of riot gear; 2,000 retractable steel batons; 3.7 miles’ worth of steel barriers; as well as ... video surveillance equipment, laptops, night vision devices, and 16 Pointer Illuminator Aiming Lasers, which a technology retailer describes as being used for “night direct-fire aiming and illumination.” The convention center itself is under the control of the Secret Service, which has imposed a separate set of restrictions, including a ban on weapons.

Note: New York City in 2014 agreed to pay $18 million to settle lawsuits brought by hundreds of people illegally arrested at the 2004 RNC. Non-lethal weapons including a noise gun originally developed for military use may be used at this year's RNC in Cleveland.


The Supreme Court winks at an illegal police stop
2016-06-21, Los Angeles Times
Posted: 2016-06-26 20:45:58
http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-police-stop-20160620-snap-sto...

At a time of justified concern about arbitrary police stops, the Supreme Court on Monday made such harassment more likely. By a 5-3 vote, the court upheld the search of a drug defendant that grew out of a stop that the state conceded was unlawful. The decision in a Utah case pokes yet another hole in an important principle: that courts may not consider evidence that is the result of an illegal search or seizure – the so-called “fruit of the poisonous tree.” Edward Strieff was stopped by a police officer after he walked out of a house in South Salt Lake City. After Strieff identified himself, the officer ran his name through a database and discovered an outstanding arrest warrant for a traffic violation. The officer then arrested Strieff on that charge and searched him, finding a bag containing methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. The state subsequently admitted that the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to stop Strieff, as required under Supreme Court interpretations of the 4th Amendment. Writing for the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas concluded that it didn’t matter if the officer had no basis on which to stop Strieff; the evidence was admissible anyway. The decision could have far-reaching consequences. As Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in a powerful dissent: “This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants - even if you are doing nothing wrong. If the officer discovers a warrant for a fine you forgot to pay, courts will now excuse his illegal stop.”

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about judiciary corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.


Ivy League economist ethnically profiled, interrogated for doing math on American Airlines flight
2016-05-07, Washington Post
Posted: 2016-05-16 01:20:53
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/rampage/wp/2016/05/07/ivy-league-economis...

A 40-year-old man - with dark, curly hair, olive skin and an exotic foreign accent - boarded a plane. The curly-haired man tried to keep to himself, intently ... scribbling on a notepad he’d brought aboard. His seatmate ... looked him over. Something about him didn’t seem right to her. He appeared laser-focused [on] those strange scribblings. Shortly after boarding had finished, she flagged down a flight attendant and handed that crew-member a note. The plane turned around and headed back to the gate. The woman was soon escorted off the plane. [Then] the pilot came by, and approached the ... darkly-complected foreign man. He was now escorted off the plane, too, and taken to meet some sort of agent, though he wasn’t entirely sure of the agent’s affiliation. What do you know about your seatmate? The agent asked the foreign-sounding man. Well, she acted a bit funny, he replied. And then the big reveal: The woman [had seen] her seatmate’s cryptic notes, scrawled in a script she didn’t recognize, [and alerted] the authorities. The curly-haired man was, the agent informed him politely, suspected of terrorism. The curly-haired man laughed. Those scribbles weren’t Arabic, or ... some special secret terrorist code. They were math. Yes, math. A differential equation, to be exact. This good-natured, bespectacled passenger - Guido Menzio - is a young but decorated Ivy League economist. Last year he was awarded the prestigious Carlo Alberto Medal, given to the best Italian economist under 40.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing civil liberties news articles from reliable major media sources.


Federal judge allows former CIA detainees to sue over torture
2016-04-22, Los Angeles Times
Posted: 2016-05-16 01:18:56
http://www.latimes.com/world/afghanistan-pakistan/la-na-cia-torture-lawsuit-2...

For the first time, a federal judge is letting a civil lawsuit proceed against two CIA contract psychologists who designed and supervised brutal interrogation tactics that critics called torture. The ruling allows two former CIA detainees and the family of another who died in agency custody to try to win damages in federal court for the abuse they suffered at then-secret CIA prisons in the early 2000s. According to the lawsuit and a Senate Intelligence Committee report, the mistreatment included waterboarding, sleep deprivation, confinement in small boxes, rectal feeding and beatings. As the lawsuit progresses, it may shed more light on the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques that the CIA used in an effort to collect intelligence ... after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. “It’s unprecedented,” [said] Dror Ladin, the American Civil Liberties Union attorney who argued the plaintiffs' case in court. “No CIA torture victim has ever taken this step toward accountability. Every previous lawsuit has been shut down before this stage. “It gives our clients a chance to ... finally get some justice,” he said. The Department of Justice had blocked previous lawsuits aimed at the CIA's now-barred detention and interrogation program on grounds that any case could reveal secrets and compromise national security. That changed after the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report in December 2014 that exposed details about the program, including the role played by [psychologists Bruce] Jessen and [James E.] Mitchell.

Note: Read more in this ACLU article. For more along these lines, read about how the torture program fits in with a long history of human experimentation by corrupt intelligence agencies working alongside unethical scientists. For more, see this list of programs that treated humans as guinea pigs.


Native Lives Matter, Too
2015-10-13, New York Times
Posted: 2016-05-08 18:01:16
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/13/opinion/native-lives-matter-too.html?_r=0

American Indians are more likely than any other racial group to be killed by the police, according to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, which studied police killings from 1999 to 2011. But apart from media outlets like Indian Country Today, almost no attention is paid to this pattern of violence against already devastated peoples. When it comes to American Indians, mainstream America suffers from willful blindness. Economic and health statistics, as well as police-violence statistics, shed light on the pressures on American Indian communities and individuals: Indian youths have the highest suicide rate of any United States ethnic group. Adolescent women have suicide rates four times the rate of white women in the same age group. Indians suffer from an infant mortality rate 60 percent higher than that of Caucasians. At the root of much of this is economic inequality: Indians are the poorest people in the United States. Today’s avoidable tragedies of oppressed Indian lives and troubled deaths remain far too often in the shadows. At this moment, when black Americans are speaking up against systemic police violence, and their message is finally being carried by virtually every major news source, it’s time we also pay attention to a less visible but similarly targeted minority: the people who lived here for many thousands of years before this country was founded, and who also have an unalienable right to respect and justice.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on civil liberties and income inequality from reliable major media sources.


NSA and CIA Double Their Warrantless Searches on Americans in Two Years
2016-05-03, The Intercept
Posted: 2016-05-08 17:57:27
https://theintercept.com/2016/05/03/nsa-and-cia-double-their-warrantless-sear...

From 2013 to 2015, the NSA and CIA doubled the number of warrantless searches they conducted for Americans’ data in a massive NSA database ostensibly collected for foreign intelligence purposes, according to a new intelligence community transparency report. The estimated number of search terms “concerning a known U.S. person” to get contents of communications within what is known as the 702 database was 4,672 - more than double the 2013 figure. And that doesn’t even include the number of FBI searches on that database. A recently released ... court ruling confirmed that the FBI is allowed to run any number of searches it wants on that database, not only for national security probes but also to hunt for evidence of traditional crimes. No estimates have ever been released of how often that happens. The missing data from the FBI is of great concern to privacy advocates. The USA Freedom Act, passed in June 2015, “conspicuously exempts the FBI” from disclosing how often it searches the 702 database, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) wrote in a letter to the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, in October 2015. “There is every reason to believe the number of FBI queries far exceeds those of the CIA and NSA,” POGO wrote. “It is essential that you work with the attorney general to release statistics on the FBI’s use of U.S. person queries.” The new report also leaves unanswered how many Americans’ communications are collected in the first place.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


FBI snooped on singer Pete Seeger for 20 years
2015-02-19, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2016-05-08 17:55:42
http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/dec/20/fbi-spied-on-pete-seeger-20-year...

Pete Seeger, composer of classic American folk tunes including "If I Had a Hammer" and "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?", was spied on by FBI agents for more than two decades because he wrote a protest letter as a young man concerned about plans to deport tens of thousands of Japanese American citizens at the end of the second world war. A vast file on Seeger was released ... in response to a request under the freedom of information act. The bureau’s spies first took an interest in the singer in 1943, [and continued] into the early 1970s. The suspicion was that Seeger, who died in early 2014, was a security risk with close connections to the Communist party. The FBI file on him has nearly 1,800 pages – 90 of them are still withheld for security reasons. Throughout the 1950s, when Seeger was part of the Weavers folk group, the bureau commissioned hundreds of reports on him. As the Weavers scored chart hits, Seeger was blacklisted for his suspected Communist party links. In 1955 he was called before the House Committee on un-American Activities and asked if he was a communist. “I am not going to answer any questions as to my associations, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs or how I voted in any election or any of these private affairs,” Seeger replied. Two years later he was cited for contempt of Congress and then, four years later, found guilty and sentenced to a year in prison. Let free on bail, Seeger’s conviction was overturned a year later.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing intelligence agency corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


Coaxing Police To Share Data On Officers' Conduct
2016-04-22, NPR
Posted: 2016-05-02 23:21:06
http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/04/22/475312581/coaxing-police-to...

There are no good national numbers on police conduct. Even the government's most basic statistic - the number of people killed by police - [is] way off. The White House says it wants to change that with the Police Data Initiative ... whose final report called for greater data transparency as a means to build trust between police and communities. The Police Data Initiative encourages departments to anticipate the kind of numbers their communities want to see, and provide them, preferably in database format. As an example, the White House cites the online data portal on police shootings set up by the Dallas Police Department. But there's a caveat, here: This is all voluntary. The White House says 53 jurisdictions so far have pledged to share this kind of data. But an additional 17,000 or so law enforcement agencies have not yet signed on, and they account for about 85 percent of the country's population. Openness to providing data seems to be most prevalent in police departments that are already in cooperative relationships with the federal government. Many of them receive federal grants, observes David L. Carter, a professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University. "In many cases, progressive police executives feel it's 'the right thing to do,' and will volunteer," says Carter in an email. But he thinks others may take a pass. The result? There may be good stats on places like LA and Dallas, while thousands of smaller communities ... will continue to be white spaces on the statistical map.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and civil liberties.


Microsoft sues government for secret searches
2016-04-14, CNN
Posted: 2016-04-24 23:05:33
http://money.cnn.com/2016/04/14/technology/microsoft-secret-search-lawsuit/

Microsoft filed a landmark lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday. The company accuses the federal government of adopting a widespread, unconstitutional policy of looking through Microsoft customers' data - and forcing the company to keep quiet about it. Over the past 18 months, federal judges have approved 2,600 secret searches of Microsoft customers. In two-thirds of those cases, Microsoft can't even notify their customers that they've been searched - ever - because there's no expiration date on these judicial orders. At issue here is the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which creates a double standard when it comes to a person's right to know when police are rummaging through their stuff. "People do not give up their rights when they move their private information from physical storage to the cloud," Microsoft says in its lawsuit. "The government, however, has exploited the transition to cloud computing as a means of expanding its power to conduct secret investigations." In its lawsuit, Microsoft claims that federal agents have been violating the company's First Amendment right to speak to its own customers, as well as their customers' Fourth Amendment right to know when they're being searched. This lawsuit also notes the odd, modern distinction that the government makes between searching your computer and searching your information on a company's computer. Law enforcement agents often remain covert when they dig through information stored on company data backup services.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Pennsylvania Seeks to Close Books on "Kids for Cash" Scandal
2015-08-12, NBC
Posted: 2016-04-11 09:47:49
http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/pennsylvania-seeks-close-books-kids-cash-...

One of the biggest corruption scandals to hit America's juvenile justice system began unfolding in 2007, when parents in a central Pennsylvania county began to complain that their children had been tossed into for-profit youth centers without a lawyer to represent them. The kickback scheme, known as "kids for cash," has resulted in prison terms for two Luzerne County judges and two businessmen. Convictions of thousands of juveniles have been tossed out. Now the case is entering its final chapter: a few remaining class action lawsuits. One of those claims drew to a close ... when a federal judge signed off on a settlement in which one of the businessmen, Robert Powell, would pay $4.75 million. Powell, who co-owned two private juvenile justice facilities, served an 18-month prison term after admitting to paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to former ... Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. and his boss, Judge Michael Conahan. In return, Ciavarella routinely found children guilty and sent them to Powell's facilities. Ciavarella was convicted in 2011 of racketeering and other charges, and sentenced to 28 years in prison. Conahan, a friend of Powell's who oversaw the scam, pleaded guilty to racketeering and was sentenced to more than 17 years behind bars. A fourth conspirator ... pleaded guilty for his part in the plot and was sentenced to a year in prison.

Note: More than 5,000 kids were exposed to a court that jailed them for profit in this conspiracy involving just a handful of corrupt officials. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and civil liberties.


CIA photographed detainees naked before sending them to be tortured
2016-03-28, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2016-04-04 19:09:00
http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/mar/28/cia-photographed-naked-detainees

The CIA took naked photographs of people it sent to its foreign partners for torture. A former US official who had seen some of the photographs described them as “very gruesome”. In some of the photos, which remain classified, CIA captives are blindfolded, bound and show visible bruises. Some photographs also show people believed to be CIA officials or contractors alongside the naked detainees. It is not publicly known how many people ... were caught in the CIA’s web of so-called “extraordinary renditions”, extra-judicial transfers of detainees to foreign countries, many of which practised even more brutal forms of torture than the US came to adopt. Human rights groups over the years have identified at least 50 people the CIA rendered, going back to Bill Clinton’s presidency. “Is the naked photography a form of sexual assault? Yes. It’s a form of sexual humiliation,” said Dr Vincent Iacopino, the medical director of Physicians for Human Rights. “It’s cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment at a minimum and may constitute torture,” he said. International human rights law, to include the Geneva conventions, forbids photographing prisoners except in extremely limited circumstances related to their detention, to include anything that might compromise their dignity. The CIA is known to have employed nudity in other aspects of its custody of terrorism suspects. Often the nudity occurred in tandem with other torture techniques, such as shackling and frigid conditions, leading in at least one case to a detainee’s death.

Note: For more along these lines, see the "10 Craziest Things in the Senate Report on Torture". For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the intelligence community.


The feds have resumed a controversial program that lets cops take stuff and keep it
2016-03-28, Washington Post
Posted: 2016-04-04 19:06:35
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/03/28/the-feds-have-resumed-...

The Justice Department has announced that it is resuming a controversial practice that allows local police departments to funnel a large portion of assets seized from citizens into their own coffers under federal law. The "Equitable Sharing Program" gives police the option of prosecuting some asset forfeiture cases under federal instead of state law. Federal forfeiture policies are more permissive than many state policies, allowing police to keep up to 80 percent of assets they seize. Asset forfeiture is a contentious practice that lets police seize and keep cash and property from people who are never convicted of wrongdoing - and in many cases, never charged. Use of the practice has exploded in recent years, prompting concern that, in some cases, police are motivated more by profit and less by justice. A wide-ranging Washington Post investigation in 2014 found that police had seized $2.5 billion in cash alone without warrants or indictments since 2001. In response, then-Attorney General Eric Holder announced new restrictions on some federal asset forfeiture practices. Asset forfeiture is fast growing - in 2014, for instance, federal authorities seized more than $5 billion in assets. That's more than the value of assets lost in every single burglary that year. Reformers had hoped that the suspension of the program in December was a signal that the Justice Department was looking for ways to rein in the practice. But that no longer appears to be the case.

Note: Some police decide what property to seize based on departmental "wish lists". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.


The U.S. Government Is Still Fighting to Bury the Senate Torture Report
2016-03-17, The Intercept
Posted: 2016-03-27 20:26:02
https://theintercept.com/2016/03/17/the-u-s-government-is-still-fighting-to-b...

Government lawyers on Thursday continued their fight to bury the Senate Torture Report, arguing before the D.C. District Court of Appeals that the 6,700-page text could not be released on procedural grounds. When the 500-page executive summary of the report was released more than a year ago, it prompted international outcry and renewed calls for prosecution. The summary describes not only the CIA’s rape and torture of detainees, but also how the agency consistently misrepresented the brutality and effectiveness of the torture program. But many of the most graphic details are in Volume III of the full report, which former Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein has said contains “excruciating” details on “each of the 119 known individuals who were held in CIA custody.” On the same day the executive summary was released, the Intelligence Committee sent copies of the full report to executive branch agencies with instructions ... that they be used “as broadly as appropriate to make sure that this experience is never repeated.” Last year, after succeeding Feinstein as chair, Sen. Richard Burr, R-Ga., requested that the copies distributed to federal agencies be returned to Congress, prompting a legal standoff. In the meantime ... the Justice Department has “refuse[d] to allow executive branch officials to review the full and final study.”

Note: For more along these lines, see the "10 Craziest Things in the Senate Report on Torture". For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the intelligence community.


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