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.
The Justice Department was caught in another high-profile travesty last month. On Dec. 20, federal judge Gloria Navarro declared a mistrial in the case against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and others after prosecutors were caught withholding massive amounts of evidence undermining federal charges. Bundy, a 71-year old Nevadan rancher, and his sons and supporters were involved in an armed standoff with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) ... stemming from decades of unpaid cattle grazing fees and restrictions. The Bundys have long claimed the feds were on a vendetta against them, and 3,300 pages of documents the Justice Department wrongfully concealed from their lawyers provides smoking guns that buttress their case. A whistleblowing memo by BLM chief investigator Larry Wooten charges that BLM chose "the most intrusive, oppressive, large scale and militaristic trespass cattle (seizure) possible" against Bundy. The feds charged the Bundys with conspiracy in large part because the ranchers summoned militia to defend them after they claimed that FBI snipers had surrounded their ranch. Justice Department lawyers scoffed at this claim in prior trials ... but newly-released documents confirm that snipers were in place prior to the Bundy’s call for help. The feds also belatedly turned over multiple threat assessments which revealed that the Bundys were not violent or dangerous, including an FBI analysis that concluded that BLM was "trying to provoke a conflict" with the Bundys.
I was captured when I was in my 20s and brought to Guantanamo Bay in 2004, after more than two years in secret prisons. I have been imprisoned here without charges since then. I am now 43. Thirteen years ago, your country brought me here because of accusations about who I was. Confessions were beaten out of me in those secret prisons. I tried, but I am no longer trying to fight against those accusations from the past. What I am asking today is, how long is my punishment going to continue? Your president says there will be no more transfers from here. Am I going to die here? If I have committed crimes against the law, charge me. In 15 years, I have never been charged, and the worst things the government has said about me were extracted by force. The judge in my habeas case decided years ago that I had been subjected to physical and psychological abuse during my interrogations, and statements the government has wanted to use against me are not reliable. Even if I were cleared, it would not matter. There are men here who have been cleared for years who are sitting in prison next to me. Detainees here, all Muslim, have never had rights equal to other human beings. Even when we first won the right to challenge our detention, in the end, it became meaningless. It is hard for me to ... believe that laws will not be bent again to allow the government to win. But this week, I am joining a group of detainees here, all of us who have been held without charges for years, to try again to ask the courts for protection.
Note: The above was written by Sharqawi Al Hajj, a Yemeni citizen detained at Guantanamo Bay. 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 on corruption in government and in the intelligence community.
An Amish family in Pennsylvania must connect to its local municipal sewer system, even though it would require the use of an electric pump, which goes against the family's religious beliefs. A Jan. 5 opinion by a divided Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court finally ended the five-year legal battle. The court agreed with a lower court ruling that ordered the Yoder family to connect to the municipal sewer system. The Yoder family argued that use of electricity violates its religious convictions. The family has used an outhouse - an "old-fashioned privy" - that did not require running water or electricity. But Sugar Grove Township requires residents with properties that abut the sewer system to connect to it at the owners' cost. The ruling addressed whether the Yoders could connect to the system without use of an electric pump. The court ruled that that using an electric pump was the "least intrusive means" of connecting to the sewer system. In a dissenting opinion, Judge Patricia McCullough expressed concern with the ruling, saying there were other ways of disposing of sewage in a sanitary way that would not infringe upon the Yoder family's religious rights. That's a concern shared by Sara Rose, a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union. "They didn't consider the other ways that the government could have achieved its ends," she said. She also said the decision unduly put the burden on the Yoders.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing civil liberties news articles from reliable major media sources.
The U.S. Coast Guard is targeting low-level smugglers in international waters - shackling them on ships for weeks or even months before arraignment in American courts. The U.S. Coast Guard never intended to operate a fleet of “floating Guantánamos,” as a former Coast Guard lawyer put it. But a set of laws, including the 1986 Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act ... defined drug smuggling in international waters as a crime against the United States. Through the 2000s, maritime detentions averaged around 200 a year. Then in 2012, the Department of Defense’s Southern Command [was] tasked with leading the war on drugs in the Americas. In 2016, under the Southern Command’s strategy, the Coast Guard ... detained 585 suspected drug smugglers, mostly in international waters. That year, 80 percent of these men were taken to the United States to face criminal charges, up from a third of detainees in 2012. In the 12 months that ended in September 2017, the Coast Guard captured more than 700 suspects and chained them aboard American ships. Most of these men remain confounded by their capture by the Americans, dubious that U.S. officials had the authority to arrest them and to lock them in prison. But it is the memory of their surreal imprisonment at sea that these men say most torments them. These detainees paint a grim picture of the conditions of their extended capture. The ... periods of detention employed by the United States in its antidrug campaign run counter to international human rights norms.
Note: The war on drugs has been called a "trillion dollar failure" with an "overwhelmingly negative" public health impact. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on military corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
Shell should face investigations in three countries for alleged complicity in Nigerian government abuses, including murder and rape, more than two decades ago in the oil-rich Niger River delta, Amnesty International said. Authorities in Nigeria, the Netherlands and UK should investigate Shell’s conduct, especially in the Ogoni area of the southern delta, the London-based human-rights group said. Violations linked to Europe’s largest energy company amounted to criminal infractions for which it should be prosecuted, it said. “The evidence we have reviewed shows that Shell repeatedly encouraged the Nigerian military to deal with community protests, even when it knew the horrors this would lead to,” Audrey Gaughran, director of Global Issues at Amnesty International, said. Shell “even provided the military with material support, including transport, and in at least one instance paid a military commander notorious for human rights violations,” she said. Shell, the oldest energy company in Africa’s biggest oil producer, operates a joint venture with the government that pumps more than a third of the nation’s crude, the state’s main source of revenue. Other joint ventures are run by ExxonMobil, Chevron, Total and Eni. Protests by the Ogoni ethnic minority against Shell in the 1990s alleging widespread pollution and environmental degradation prompted a repressive response from the military government then in power. Nine ethnic-minority activists, including the writer Ken Saro-Wiwa, were executed in 1995.
Note: It was reported in 2010 that pollution linked to oil production had reduced rural Nigerian life expectancy to "little more than 40 years of age". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the corporate world.
I traveled from Baltimore to join hundreds of thousands of protesters at counterdemonstrations around Mr. Trump’s swearing-in. Little did I know that I would be swept up into a legal nightmare that demonstrates how prosecutors intimidate and manipulate defendants into giving up their rights. Minutes after I got to downtown Washington on Jan. 20, police officers used pepper spray, “sting-ball” grenades and flailing batons to sweep up an entire city block in a mass-arrest tactic known as “kettling.” Next, prosecutors ... took the highly unusual step of indicting more than 200 of those arrested. Most of the people in the group, which includes journalists, legal observers and volunteer medics, face charges of engaging in a riot, inciting a riot, conspiracy to riot and property damage. In addition to seizing the contents of at least 100 cellphones, prosecutors secured broad warrants for Facebook pages. The government has failed to provide most defendants in the case with evidence of their alleged individual wrongdoing. For example, I was offered a plea deal (to a single misdemeanor charge) on the basis of virtually nothing more than being at the site of the protest. This serves to illustrate a critical problem in the American justice system: Prosecutors have the power to single-handedly destroy lives, and there are few consequences for abuse of that power. At the same time, their main measure of success is the ability to secure convictions, not the degree to which justice is served.
Note: United Nations officials recently said that the US government's treatment of activists was increasingly "incompatible with US obligations under international human rights law". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on judicial system corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
Eric Loomis pleaded guilty to attempting to flee an officer, and no contest to operating a vehicle without the owner’s consent. Neither of his crimes mandates prison time. At Mr. Loomis’s sentencing, the judge cited, among other factors, Mr. Loomis’s high risk of recidivism as predicted by a computer program called COMPAS, a risk assessment algorithm used by the state of Wisconsin. The judge denied probation and prescribed an 11-year sentence. No one knows exactly how COMPAS works; its manufacturer refuses to disclose the proprietary algorithm. We only know the final risk assessment score it spits out, which judges may consider at sentencing. Mr. Loomis challenged the use of an algorithm as a violation of his due process rights. The United States Supreme Court declined to hear his case, meaning a majority of justices effectively condoned the algorithm’s use. Shifting the sentencing responsibility [from judges] to a computer does not necessarily eliminate bias; it delegates and often compounds it. Algorithms like COMPAS simply mimic the data with which we train them. An algorithm that accurately reflects our world also necessarily reflects our biases. A ProPublica study found that COMPAS predicts black defendants will have higher risks of recidivism than they actually do, while white defendants are predicted to have lower rates than they actually do.
The FBI counterterrorism division’s identification of a movement it calls “black identity extremists” is the latest addition to the list of protesters and dissidents the agency puts under the “domestic terrorism” umbrella. But many national security experts say the designation [is] simply a label that allows the FBI to conduct additional surveillance on “basically anyone who’s black and politically active,” said Michael German, who left the FBI in 2004. While the practice of labeling certain protest groups as domestic terrorists is not unique to President Trump’s administration, Hina Shamsi ... at the American Civil Liberties Union, said there’s concern that “abusive and unjustified investigations” by the FBI are rising. The problem, Shamsi said, is partly in the overly broad definition of domestic terrorism in the Patriot Act as a violation of the criminal laws ... intended to “influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion.” Eighty-four members of Congress cited that intention to intimidate or coerce in a letter to the Justice Department last week that asked whether the department had labeled Dakota Access Pipeline protesters domestic terrorists. The Justice Department did not respond to questions about the letter. The FBI report that focused on black identity extremists ... had interest groups questioning whether the designation has been used to single out members of Black Lives Matter.
Note: The Department of Homeland Security has reportedly been monitoring the Black Lives Matter movement since 2014, in some cases producing "minute-by-minute reports on protesters’ movements". For more along these lines, read about Cointelpro, the program used by corrupt intelligence agencies to spy on and attack the U.S. civil rights movement beginning in the 1960's. See also concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the erosion of civil liberties.
The USS Cole case judge Wednesday found the Marine general in charge of war court defense teams guilty of contempt for refusing to follow the judge’s orders and sentenced him to 21 days confinement and to pay a $1,000 fine. Air Force Col. Vance Spath also declared “null and void” a decision by Marine Brig. Gen. John Baker, 50, to release three civilian defense attorneys from the capital terror case. The lawyers resigned last month over ... something so secretive at the terror prison that the public cannot know. Wednesday evening ... Judge Spath issued another order: Directing the three lawyers - Rick Kammen, Rosa Eliades and Mary Spears - to litigate Friday in the death-penalty case against Abd al Rahim al Nashiri remotely from the Washington D.C., area by video feed to Guantánamo. The judge’s dizzying pace of events ... came as the colonel sought to force the civilian, Pentagon-paid attorneys back on the case. Spath, who has declared they had no good cause to quit, had ordered Kammen, Eliades and Spears to come to Guantánamo on Sunday with other war court staff for a pretrial hearing. They refused. Kammen, a veteran capital defense attorney who had represented Nashiri for a decade, said Spath’s order to travel was an “illegal” effort to have three U.S. citizens “provide unethical legal services to keep the façade of justice that is the military commissions running.” Nashiri is accused of orchestrating al Qaida’s Oct. 12, 2000 suicide bombing of the U.S. warship off Yemen. No trial date has been set.
Note: Nashiri was reportedly tortured by the CIA. Read the 10 Craziest Things in the Senate Report on Torture. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing intelligence agency corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
On December 7, 1941, Japanese war planes bombed the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Six decades later, Al Qaeda terrorists flew hijacked airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Neither President Franklin Roosevelt nor President George W. Bush targeted and killed Americans on U.S. soil in the aftermath of those attacks. Doing so wouldn't have made any sense. How strange, then, that Attorney General Eric Holder invoked those very attacks in a letter confirming that President Obama believes there are circumstances in which he could order Americans targeted and killed on U.S. soil. "It is possible ... for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States," he wrote. "The President could conceivably have no choice but to authorize the military to use such force if necessary to protect the homeland in the circumstances of a catastrophic attack like the ones suffered on December 7, 1941 and on September 11, 2001." The very scenario to be guarded against is a president using the pretext of a terrorist attack to seize extraordinary powers. Isn't that among the most likely scenarios for the United States turning into an authoritarian security state?
I’m a taxi driver from Karachi, in Pakistan. Fifteen years ago I was sold for a bounty and taken by the U.S. military to a secret prison in Afghanistan. They mistook me for someone called Hassan Gul, and I was tortured for over a year before they flew me to Guantanamo. There’s no disputing this—it’s in the U.S. Senate report on torture. I’ve been held here ever since then, without charge or trial. I’ve been through a lot - but a new punitive medical regime at this prison might finally kill me. In May 2013, without any way of defending myself or securing my freedom, I resorted to peaceful protest, and began a hunger strike. On September 20, things abruptly changed. A new senior medical officer (SMO) arrived, bringing in a new Trump administration policy of refusing to tube-feed anyone on hunger strike. They apparently don’t mind if people die because of the injustice here, because they figure nobody cares about Guantanámo anymore, and nobody will notice. I’ve lost more weight than ever before - I’m well under 100 pounds - but they have stopped bringing anyone to check my vitals, weigh me, or force-feed me. They want this peaceful protest over. So they refuse us access to medical care. The doctors here do what the new medical boss tells them. He wants me to beg him for food, but I will not. He is like a dictator. They tell me it’s my fault if I die. But all I am asking for is basic justice - a fair trial or freedom. I am innocent, but I’m not allowed to prove it. I don't want to die, but they will not succeed in breaking my strike.
Note: The horrific treatment of Guantánamo Bay detainees is well documented. For more, read about the 10 Craziest Things in the Senate Report on Torture and many other questionable intelligence agency practices.
Trump administration lawyers are demanding the private account information of potentially thousands of Facebook users in three separate search warrants served on the social media giant. The warrants specifically target the accounts of three Facebook users who are described ... as "anti-administration activists who have spoken out at organized events, and who are generally very critical of this administration's policies." One of those users, Emmelia Talarico, operated the disruptj20 page where Inauguration Day protests were organized and discussed; the page was visited by an estimated 6,000 users whose identities the government would have access to if Facebook hands over the information. Talarico says if her account information was given to the government, officials would have access to her "personal passwords, security questions and answers, and credit card information," plus "the private lists of invitees and attendees to multiple political events." The American Civil Liberties Union, representing the three Facebook users, filed a motion to quash the warrants Thursday. "What is particularly chilling about these warrants is that anti-administration political activists are going to [be] scrutinized by the very administration they are protesting," said ACLU attorney Scott Michelman. Facebook was initially served the warrants in February 2017 along with a gag order which barred the social media company from alerting the three users that the government was seeking their private information.
Note: United Nations officials recently said that the US government's treatment of activists was increasingly "incompatible with US obligations under international human rights law". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the disappearance of privacy.
Saudi Arabia is easing restrictions on women driving, finally allowing almost half its population to get behind the wheel. A royal decree has been issued that will allow women in the country to drive, the Saudi Foreign ministry said Tuesday. The government will have until June 24, 2018, to implement the new decree. Manal al-Sharif, one of the women behind the Women2Drive campaign, celebrated the victory by posting a photo on Twitter of herself behind the wheel of a car. Sharif, who now lives in Australia, was jailed in Saudi Arabia 2011 after posting a video on YouTube of herself, wearing a black headscarf and sunglasses, driving a car. The act provoked death threats and spurred her to start the campaign. Liesl Gerntholtz, executive director of the Women's Rights Division at Human Rights Watch, told CNN while it was a "very important step" there was still a long way to go for Saudi women. "This prohibition on driving is just one in a vast series of laws and policies which prevent women from doing many things," she said. "The guardianship rule stops women from making every decision in her life without the assistance of a male relative, even if that relative is her 7-year-old son. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia follows a strict form of Wahhabi Islam that bans the mixing of sexes at public events and places numerous curbs on women. These restrictions are enforced by religious police.
Note: The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the strongest allies of the US, yet it is also about the most backward country in the world on women's rights. And it is a dictatorship by monarchy. Why isn't there more reporting on this? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing civil liberties news articles from reliable major media sources.
President Trump has some advice for National Football League owners: Fire players who kneel during the national anthem. He's also encouraging fans to walk out in protest. And the president is bemoaning what he describes as a decline in violence in the sport. Several athletes, including a handful of NFL players, have refused to stand during "The Star-Spangled Banner" to protest of the treatment of blacks by police. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started the trend last year when he played for the San Francisco 49ers, hasn't been signed by an NFL team for this season. The NFL Players Association reacted to Mr. Trump's comments Saturday morning in a statement: "This union ... will never back down when it comes to constitutional rights of our players as citizens as well as their safety as men in a game that exposes them to great risks." During his campaign, Mr. Trump often expressed nostalgia for the "old days" - claiming, for example, that protesters at his rallies would have been carried out on stretchers back then. He recently suggested police officers should be rougher with criminals and shouldn't protect their heads when pushing them into squad cars. It's also not the first time he's raised the kneeling issue. Earlier this year he took credit for the fact that Kaepernick hadn't been signed.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing civil liberties news articles from reliable major media sources.
An Oregon parent wanted details about school employees getting paid to stay home. College journalists in Kentucky requested documents about the investigations of employees accused of sexual misconduct. Instead, they got something else: sued by the agencies they had asked for public records. Government bodies are increasingly turning the tables on citizens who seek public records that might be embarrassing or legally sensitive. Instead of granting or denying their requests, a growing number of school districts, municipalities and state agencies have filed lawsuits against people making the requests - taxpayers, government watchdogs and journalists who must then pursue the records in court at their own expense. The lawsuits generally ask judges to rule that the records being sought do not have to be divulged, [and] name the requesters as defendants. The recent trend has alarmed freedom-of-information advocates, who say it's becoming a new way for governments to hide information, delay disclosure and intimidate critics. At least two recent cases have succeeded in blocking information while many others have only delayed the release. Even if agencies are ultimately required to make the records public, they typically will not have to pay the other side's legal bills. "You can lose even when you win," said Mike Deshotels, an education watchdog who was sued by the Louisiana Department of Education after filing requests for school district enrollment data last year.
It was just four years ago that roughly two dozen representatives of major news organizations crowded around a conference table at the Justice Department for a meeting with Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. Our agenda? Strengthening the Justice Department’s guidelines that limit when federal prosecutors can serve subpoenas on the news media. It had just been revealed that federal investigators had secretly seized the phone records of The Associated Press and the emails of a Fox News correspondent during leak investigations. The result was important: The Justice Department revised its internal guidelines to make it harder for prosecutors to obtain subpoenas for reporters’ testimony and records. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, after being chided by President Trump for being weak, recently declared a war on leakers and made clear that the news media was also on his mind. It seems all but certain that the Justice Department will try to chip away at the subpoena guidelines, [which] say that prosecutors are to seek testimony and evidence from journalists only as a last resort, and that news organizations should have a chance to go to court to challenge any subpoenas. The guidelines are far from ironclad. If a prosecutor were to ignore them, a journalist would have no right to go into court and demand they be followed. When federal courts dial back protection for reporters, the guidelines become an essential first line of defense against overzealous prosecutors.
An international rights group says Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has given a “green light” to systematic torture inside detention facilities.” Human Rights Watch says el-Sissi, a U.S. ally who was warmly received at the White House earlier this year ... “has effectively given police and National Security officers a green light to use torture whenever they please,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at the New York-based group. The allegations, the group said, amount to crimes against humanity. Most of the detainees are alleged supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood group, which rose to power after the 2011 uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak. Egypt arrested or charged some 60,000 people in the two years after Mohammed Morsi, a Brotherhood leader who became Egypt’s first freely elected president, was overthrown following a divisive year in power. Hundreds have gone missing in what appear to be forced disappearances, and hundreds of others have received preliminary death sentences. Based on interviews with 19 Egyptians detained as far back as 2013, the rights group documented abuses ranging from beatings to rape and sodomy. Local rights groups have documented dozens of deaths under torture in police custody. The Interior Ministry ... denied allegations of systemic torture. Citing national security, the government has shut down hundreds of websites, including many operated by independent journalists and rights groups.
This week, Donald Trump lifted the ban on certain military-grade weapons and equipment available from the Pentagon to our local police forces across the nation. Before Barack Obama signed an executive order in 2015 limiting the transfer of certain types of military equipment under the Pentagon’s 1033 Program, the Department of Defense transferred more than $5bn in surplus military equipment directly to police agencies. The Pentagon program creates a pipeline that bypasses normal ... procurement processes, enabling police departments to acquire expensive-to-maintain and often unneeded military equipment directly from the Pentagon without the approval or even knowledge of [elected] government officials. Citizens are left to pay the price when these military “toys” are put into the anxious hands of often untrained local law enforcement. Handing our police weapons of war, including but not limited to large-capacity, rapid-fire weapons and ammunition – including .50-calibers – bayonets, grenade launchers, armored vehicles including military tanks, unmanned vehicles (armed drones), explosives and pyrotechnics, and similar explosive devices, makes us less safe. It also drives a wedge between police officers and ... communities. Our nation was built on the principle that there are clear lines between our armed forces and domestic police. Moreover ... law enforcement is subject to civilian authority. This program blurs those lines. Militarizing America’s main streets won’t make us any safer, just more fearful.
Note: The above was written by US Congressman Hank Johnson, author of the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act of 2017. The Pentagon's 1033 program now being revived led to what the ACLU called an "excessive militarization of American policing". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on police corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
As soon as Theo Wilson started making YouTube videos about culture and race, trolls using racial slurs started flocking to his page. After engaging in endless sparring matches in the comments section, Wilson began to notice something curious: His trolls seemed to speak a language unto themselves, one replete with the same twisted facts and false history. Curious about where his trolls were getting their revisionist history lessons, Wilson ... decided to go undercover in their world. In 2015, he started by creating a ghost profile named “Lucious25,” a digital white supremacist. Within a few weeks Wilson's alternate identity was questioning President Barack Obama's birthplace [and] railing against Black Lives Matter. After several months, he was a disaffected fixture on alt-right websites that draw white supremacists. During his eight months as a racist troll, Wilson never revealed his true identity. When it was all over, Wilson said, he came to appreciate the way in which the far-right media bubble disables its participants - offering an endless stream of scapegoats for their problems but no credible solutions. "There are still people who think black people are not fully human and that we are lagging in terms of evolution," [said Wilson]. "My compassion comes from knowing these people are still so vulnerable to social programming. But the social forces that make racism commonplace aren't necessarily going away. Look at what happened in Charlottesville, for example. How did a brand-new generation of white guys get that hateful?"
Note: Theo Wilson describes his experience as an undercover racist in this Tedx video. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing civil liberties news articles from reliable major media sources.
Local police departments will soon have access to grenade launchers, high-caliber weapons and other surplus U.S. military gear after President Donald Trump signed an order Monday reviving a Pentagon program that civil rights groups say inflames tensions between officers and their communities. President Barack Obama had sharply curtailed the program in 2015. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky called the plan a dangerous expansion of government power that would "subsidize militarization." Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina said the program "incentivizes the militarization of local police departments, as they are encouraged to grab more equipment than they need." Congress authorized the program in 1990, allowing police to receive surplus equipment to help fight drugs, which then gave way to the fight against terrorism. Agencies requested and received everything from camouflage uniforms and bullet-proof vests to firearms, bayonets and drones. More than $5 billion in surplus equipment has been given to agencies. The new order largely lets local agencies set their own controls and rules governing use of the equipment. The plan to restore access to military equipment comes after [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions has said he intends to pull back on court-enforceable plans to resolve allegations of pervasive civil rights violations. Sessions ... has also revived a widely criticized form of asset forfeiture that lets local police seize cash and property with federal help.
Note: The Pentagon's 1033 program now being revived led to what the ACLU called an "excessive militarization of American policing". The civil asset forfeiture program now being revived was widely criticized because it made it easy for corrupt police to steal money and property from poor people and seize private assets based on departmental "wish lists".
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.