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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.


Study: Smaller Counties Driving US Jail Population Growth
2015-12-15, ABC/Associated Press
Posted: 2015-12-20 18:08:32
http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/study-smaller-counties-driving-us-jail-pop...

U.S. jails now hold nearly 700,000 inmates on any given day, up from 157,000 in 1970, and the Vera Institute of Justice found that smaller counties now hold 44 percent of the overall total, up from just 28 percent in 1978. Jail populations in mid-sized counties with populations of 250,000 to 1 million residents grew by four times and small-sized counties with 250,000 residents or less grew by nearly seven times, Vera's analysis shows. In that time large county jail populations grew by only about three times. Exactly what's behind that trend is not clear but experts say a range of factors likely contribute, from law enforcement's increased use of summonses and traffic tickets to the closing of state mental hospitals in that time. Unlike state prisons that hold inmates doing lengthy terms, local jails and county lockups are generally used to house pretrial detainees or those who have been sentenced to serve stints of a year or less for relatively minor crimes. Jail use continues to rise though crime rates have declined since peaking in 1991, the analysis shows. Blacks are jailed at nearly four times the rate of whites and the number of women locked up in jails has grown 14-fold since 1970, according to the Vera report. The number of jails with 1,000 beds or more has soared from 21 in 1970 to 145 in 2014, and the average number of days people stay locked up in jail has grown from nine in 1978 to 23 in 2014.

Note: Violent crime rates have dropped to 1/3 of what they were just 20 years ago. See an excellent graph on this. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on prison system corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.


Saudi Arabia’s Execution Spree
2015-12-14, New York Times
Posted: 2015-12-20 18:04:42
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/15/opinion/saudi-arabias-execution-spree.html?...

Ali al-Nimr was sentenced to beheading and crucifixion for participating in a protest at age 17. Raif Badawi was to receive a thousand lashes - a punishment sure to kill - for his blog posts. A Sri Lankan maid, whose name has not been released, was sentenced, on scant evidence, to death by stoning for adultery. These are just some of the people awaiting horrific punishment in Saudi Arabia for things most of the world would not consider serious crimes, or crimes at all. Saudi Arabia’s justice system has gone into murderous overdrive. More than 150 people have been executed this year, the most since 1995. More than 50 people are reported to be scheduled for imminent execution on terrorist charges, though some are citizens whose only crime was protesting against the government. This wave of killing has prompted some to compare Saudi Arabia to the Islamic State: both follow Shariah law. Part of the problem is the lack of a penal code defining specific crimes and punishments, leaving judges complete discretion. That Saudi Arabia serves on the United Nations Human Rights Council makes this year’s execution spree all the more egregious. It is shameful that the United States and other democracies that consider Saudi Arabia a valuable ally are so often silent in the face of such gruesome excesses.

Note: Yet Saudi Arabia is one of the closest allies of the US. George H.W. Bush was even at a conference with Bin Laden's brother the day before 9/11, as reported in this Washington Post article. And this Wall Street Journal article reports how Bush along with his Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State "have made the pilgrimage to the bin Laden family's headquarters in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia."


Saudi Arabia: First women councillors elected
2015-12-13, BBC News
Posted: 2015-12-20 18:03:02
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-35086357

Women have been elected to municipal councils in Saudi Arabia for the first time after a ban on women taking part in elections was lifted. At least four women were elected, the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported. Other news agencies put the number between nine and 17. The vote is being seen as a landmark in the conservative kingdom. However, the councils have limited powers. Saudi women still face many curbs in public life, including driving. A total of 978 women registered as candidates, alongside 5,938 men. Officials said about 130,000 women had registered to vote in Saturday's poll, compared with 1.35 million men. The disparity was attributed by female voters to bureaucratic obstacles and a lack of transport, the AFP news agency says. Female candidates were also not allowed to address male voters directly during campaigning. Elections of any kind are rare in the Saudi kingdom - Saturday was only the third time in history that Saudis had gone to the polls. There were no elections in the 40 years between 1965 and 2005. The decision to allow women to take part was taken by the late King Abdullah and is seen as a key part of his legacy. In announcing the reforms, King Abdullah said women in Saudi Arabia "have demonstrated positions that expressed correct opinions and advice". Before he died in January, he appointed 30 women to the country's top advisory Shura Council. There were 2,100 council seats available in Saturday's vote. An additional 1,050 seats are appointed with approval from the king.

Note: Remember that Saudi Arabia was recently selected to head a UN human rights panel. Yet they only now are allowing women to vote and public beheadings are still commonplace.


U.S. government reveals breadth of requests for Internet records
2015-11-30, Sun Times/Reuters
Posted: 2015-12-13 04:29:41
http://national.suntimes.com/national-world-news/7/72/2208406/u-s-government-...

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has used a secretive authority to compel Internet and telecommunications firms to hand over customer data including an individual’s complete web browsing history and records of all online purchases, a court filing released Monday shows. The documents are believed to be the first time the government has provided details of its so-called national security letters, which are used by the FBI to conduct electronic surveillance without the need for court approval. National security letters have been available as a law enforcement tool since the 1970s, but their frequency and breadth expanded dramatically under the USA Patriot Act, which was passed shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. They are almost always accompanied by an open-ended gag order barring companies from disclosing the contents of the demand for customer data. The secretive orders have long drawn the ire of tech companies and privacy advocates, who argue NSLs allow the government to snoop on user content without appropriate judicial oversight. Last year, the Obama administration announced it would permit Internet companies to disclose more about the number of NSLs they receive. But they can still only provide a range such as between 0 and 999 requests. Twitter has sued in federal court seeking the ability to publish more details in its semi-annual transparency reports. Several thousand NSLs are now issued by the FBI every year. At one point that number eclipsed 50,000 letters annually.

Note: Read more about the FBI's use of these controversial secret letters. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing civil liberties news articles from reliable major media sources.


Removing the gag: how one man took on the FBI for nearly 12 years and won
2015-12-06, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2015-12-13 04:18:42
http://www.theguardian.com/law/2015/dec/06/fbi-national-security-letter-gag-o...

On a snowy afternoon in February 2004, an FBI agent came to Nick Merrill’s door, bearing a letter that would change his life. At the time, Merrill was running a small internet service provider. The envelope that the agent carried contained what is known as a “national security letter”, or NSL. It demanded details on one of his company’s clients; including cellphone tower location data, email details and screen-names. It also imposed a non-disclosure agreement which was only lifted this week, when – after an 11-year legal battle by Merrill and the American Civil Liberties Union, he was finally allowed to reveal the contents of the letter to the world. The NSL which Merrill was given was a new use for what was a relatively old tool. The FBI had long – if sparingly – used them, [but] the Patriot Act vastly expanded the scope of what an NSL could be applied to. The FBI greatly increased the number issued; according to a 2007 inspector general’s report, the NSL that Merrill was handed by the agent was one of nearly 57,000 issued that year. All of those thousands of NSLs were accompanied by a non-disclosure agreement, or “gag order” – which barred recipients were ever disclosing that they had received an NSL – even to the person whose records were being sought. With the ACLU, Merrill went to court to challenge the constitutionality of the letter, especially of the gag order. In 2014, Merrill sued again, helped by ... the Yale Law Clinic. Finally, [a] judge ... ruled that the gag order be completely lifted. It had taken Merrill almost 12 years.

Note: A 2007 Washington Post article summary sheds more light on Merrill's long struggle.


Police Response To San Bernardino Stokes Militarization Fears
2015-12-04, NPR
Posted: 2015-12-07 01:30:37
http://www.npr.org/2015/12/04/458426970/reformers-fear-police-will-revisit-mi...

On the day of the mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., the city's SWAT team was training for an active shooter situation just minutes away from the scene of the massacre. "We were just working through scenarios when this call went out," says Lt. Travis Walker, the SWAT team commander. Walker was running his officers through scenarios with volunteers playing the role of shooters. "We'd just finished a training scenario that involved multiple shooters at multiple locations within a small confined area," he says. And then they were off — to the scene of a real-life multiple-shooter attack. They didn't get there in time to stop it, but the suspects were killed in a shootout later in the day. Walker and his team were there for that, too, using armored vehicles to get close. That scene was meaningful because those were the very same kind of armored vehicles that for the past year or so have become a symbol of what some people call police militarization.

Important Note: So "by coincidence" a team was training for a terrorist event the very day of this shooting not far from the scene. The very same "coincidence" happened in the recent Paris shootings, on the day of 9/11 where a team was training in DC for an attack where a plane would hit a government building, and the London bombings where a team was training for a subway terrorist attack that very morning at the same stations where the bombings occurred. Could all four be just coincidences? Might this have been another false flag operation to promote fear and the militarization agenda? Read also solid evidence that ISIS was a creation of intelligence services, including a confession by a USAF General that "we helped build ISIS."


B.C. terror trial: RCMP may have knowingly facilitated terrorist act
2015-11-18, Toronto Sun (One of Canada's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2015-12-07 01:25:30
http://www.torontosun.com/2015/11/18/bc-terror-trial-rcmp-may-have-knowingly-...

There is evidence the RCMP broke the law while conducting a high-profile terrorism sting and must hand over confidential legal documents, says a B.C. Supreme Court judge. Justice Catherine Bruce has not yet ruled whether the RCMP entrapped John Nuttall and Amanda Korody into plotting to blow up the B.C. legislature in 2013, but she said in a ruling released Wednesday that the Mounties may be guilty of knowingly facilitating a terrorist act. Undercover officers posing as jihadi warriors gave Nuttall and Korody groceries, cigarettes, bus passes, cell phones, phone cards, clothing, cash and a portable hard drive. They also provided the pair with a place to work on their terrorist scheme and a location to build the explosives, chauffeured them to various stores to purchase bomb-making equipment and transported them ... over the course of the four-month sting operation. Lawyers had advised the RCMP on numerous occasions, including recommending officers "drive target but don't shop" when purchasing materials to build the explosives. Bruce's ruling ordered the police to disclose confidential legal advice they received about running the undercover affair.

Note: Read this New York Times article which shows how the FBI also aids and abets terrorism on a regular basis to keep us in fear. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and throughout intelligence agencies.


Why Are Syrian Refugees Leaving Syria? Civil War Has Killed 19,000 Children Since 2011
2015-11-25, International Business Times
Posted: 2015-11-30 15:17:16
http://www.ibtimes.com/why-are-syrian-refugees-leaving-syria-civil-war-has-ki...

The devastating civil war in Syria has claimed the lives of more than 19,000 children since the conflict began in 2011, according to new estimates tabulated by the Syrian Human Rights Network. The report found that 18,858 Syrian children were killed by government forces, mostly through missile shelling and the use of barrel bombs in active conflict zones, from March 2011 through October 2015. 582 children were shot by snipers and 159 were tortured to death in government prisons, the group wrote. Rebel forces killed an additional 603 children in that time frame, and another 229 died at the hands of the Islamic State militant group. Since September, Russian airstrikes have resulted in the deaths of at least 86 children, while airstrikes by U.S.-backed coalition forces have killed 75, the report said. The influx of Syrian refugees into Europe has stoked a continent-wide crisis in recent years. But a newer debate around how many refugees to accept, and how to screen them, has cropped up in Europe and the United States in recent days amid fears that terrorists could try to infiltrate refugee groups. Various human rights groups put the total civilian death toll from the Syrian conflict at around 200,000, making child deaths around 10 percent of the carnage. But death counts have been overwhelmingly difficult to calculate; the United Nations announced last year it would stop updating its estimates.

Note: The New York Times recently reported that a Syrian passport found at a Paris bombing site was planted as part of a false evidence trail "to turn public opinion against Syrian refugees." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing war news articles from reliable major media sources.


Spain ‘issues arrest warrant’ for Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu over 2010 Gaza flotilla attack
2015-11-18, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2015-11-30 14:57:50
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/spain-issues-arrest-warrant-fo...

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and seven other former and current government officials are at risk of arrest if they set foot in Spain, after a Spanish judge effectively issued an arrest warrant for the group. Spanish national court judge Jose de la Mata ordered the police and civil guard to notify him if Mr Netanyahu and the six other individuals enter the country, as their actions could see a case against them regarding the Freedom Flotilla attack of 2010 reopened. The other men named in the issue are former defence minister Ehud Barak, former foreign minister Avigdor Leiberman, former minister of strategic affairs Moshe Yaalon, former interior minister Eli Yishai, minister without portfolio Benny Begin and vice admiral Maron Eliezer, who was in charge of the operation. The case – which was put on hold by Judge de la Mata last year – was brought against the men following an attack by Israeli security forces against the Freedom Flotilla aid ships in 2010, which was trying to reach Gaza. It concerns the Mavi Marmara ship, the main civilian vessel in a fleet of six that were attempting to break an Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. The six ships were carrying around 500 passengers, humanitarian aid and construction materials. The Israeli Defence Force stormed the ship in a raid that left nine human rights activists dead.

Note: A spokesperson for the Israeli foreign ministry commented, "We consider it to be a provocation." Autopsies of the activists killed were reported by The Guardian to contradict Israeli reports of the incident.


Mass Surveillance Isn’t the Answer to Fighting Terrorism
2015-11-17, New York Times
Posted: 2015-11-23 14:04:00
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/18/opinion/mass-surveillance-isnt-the-answer-t...

It’s a wretched yet predictable ritual after each new terrorist attack: Certain politicians and government officials waste no time exploiting the tragedy for their own ends. The remarks on Monday by John Brennan, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, took that to a new and disgraceful low ... after coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris killed 129. Mr. Brennan complained about ... the sustained national outrage following the 2013 revelations by Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, that the agency was using provisions of the Patriot Act to secretly collect information on millions of Americans’ phone records. It is hard to believe anything Mr. Brennan says. Last year, he bluntly denied that the C.I.A. had illegally hacked into the computers of Senate staff members conducting an investigation into the agency’s detention and torture programs when, in fact, it did. In 2011 ... he claimed that American drone strikes had not killed any civilians, despite clear evidence that they had. And his boss, James Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, has admitted lying to the Senate on the N.S.A.’s bulk collection of data. Even putting this lack of credibility aside, it’s not clear what extra powers Mr. Brennan is seeking. Most of the men who carried out the Paris attacks were already on the radar of intelligence officials in France and Belgium, where several of the attackers lived. The problem in this case was not a lack of data. In fact, indiscriminate bulk data sweeps have not been useful.

Note: The above is an excellent article by the New York Times editorial board. Yet the role of the largely subservient media, which strongly supported Bush's campaign to go to war in Iraq is ignored. Read this analysis to go even deeper. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Years After 9/11, the War on Terror Is Accomplishing Everything bin Laden Hoped It Would
2015-09-08, The Nation
Posted: 2015-11-23 13:58:21
http://www.thenation.com/article/14-years-after-911-the-war-on-terror-is-acco...

Fourteen years later, thanks a heap, Osama bin Laden. With a small number of supporters, $400,000-$500,000, and 19 suicidal hijackers, most of them Saudis, you ... goaded us into doing what you had neither the resources nor the ability to do. George W. Bush and company used those murderous acts and the nearly 3,000 resulting deaths as an excuse to try to make the world theirs. It took them no time at all to decide to launch a “Global War on Terror” in up to 60 countries. Don’t you find it strange, looking back, just how quickly 9/11 set their brains aflame? Don’t you still find it eerie that, amid the wreckage of the Pentagon, the initial orders our secretary of defense gave his aides were to come up with plans for striking Iraq, even though he was already convinced that Al Qaeda had launched the attack? Washington’s post-9/11 policies in the Middle East helped lead to the establishment of the Islamic State’s “caliphate” in parts of fractured Iraq and Syria. The United States has gone into the business of robotic assassination big time, [and] Washington has regularly knocked off women and children while searching for militant leaders. Fourteen years later, don’t you find it improbable that our “war on terror” has so regularly devolved into a war of and for terror; that our methods ... have visibly promoted, not blunted, the spread of Islamic extremism; and that, despite this, Washington has generally not recalibrated its actions in any meaningful way? Fourteen years later, how improbable is that?

Note: A carefully researched report on the covert origins of ISIS suggests the creation of terrorists is useful for Washington's elite. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing terrorism news articles from reliable major media sources.


After Paris, there will be no stopping the surveillance state now
2015-11-19, CBC (Canada's public broadcasting system)
Posted: 2015-11-23 13:55:17
http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/surveillance-state-neil-macdonald-1.3325327

The tools European security agencies now have at their disposal ... would make any American or Canadian intelligence officer drool. Britain has literally created a surveillance state. The British Security Industry Authority estimated three years ago the government has installed about six million closed-circuit TV cameras in the public square; one for every 10 citizens. The French, too, have vastly expanded public video surveillance in recent years. And it's all been done with overwhelming support from the general public, which feels safer for the presence of the surveillance, never mind the lack of objective proof that they are more protected against outrages, which keep on occurring. Both England and France are former colonial powers that ... long ago subordinated individual rights to collective security. Canada and America more dearly cherish individual rights. Still, a surveillance state is growing here, too. David Lyon, a professor of surveillance studies at Queen's University, has identified several public surveillance trends, all of which he says are "increasing at an accelerating rate." Canada is not about to become Western Europe, he says, but "it is incumbent upon us as a society to think about the ethical consequences" of mass surveillance. [Some] would argue that the cameras are desperately needed tools, and that anyone who isn't doing anything wrong has nothing to worry about. That of course is the police state justification. They hate us because we are free, we are told. The fact that we've responded by giving up ever more freedom doesn't seem to matter.

Note: Many of the politicians publicly defending the surveillance state receive huge sums of money from private security companies. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


My white neighbor thought I was breaking into my own apartment. Nineteen cops showed up.
2015-11-18, Washington Post
Posted: 2015-11-23 13:52:45
https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/11/18/my-white-neighbor...

On Sept. 6, I locked myself out of my apartment in Santa Monica, Calif. A few hours and a visit from a locksmith later, I was inside my apartment and slipping off my shoes when I heard a man’s voice ... near my front window. I imagined a loiterer and opened the door to move him along. “What’s going on?” I asked. Two police officers had guns trained on me. They shouted: “Who’s in there with you? How many of you are there?” I had no idea what was happening, but I saw [that] something about me - a 5-foot-7, 125-pound black woman - frightened this man with a gun. I sat down, trying to look even less threatening. I again asked what was going on. I told the officers I didn’t want them in my apartment. They entered anyway. One pulled me, hands behind my back, out to the street. The neighbors were watching. Only then did I notice the ocean of officers. I counted 16. They still hadn’t told me why they’d come. Later, I learned that the Santa Monica Police Department had dispatched 19 officers after one of my neighbors reported a burglary at my apartment. It didn’t matter that I told the cops I’d lived there for seven months, told them about the locksmith, offered to show a receipt for his services and my ID. To many, the militarization of the police is primarily abstract or painted as occasional. That thinking allows each high-profile incident of aggressive police interaction with people of color - Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray - to be written off as an outlier. What happened to them did not happen to me, but it easily could have.

Note: For more along these lines, read about the increasing militarization of police, and see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the erosion of civil liberties.


Bolts from the blue
2015-11-05, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2015-11-23 13:49:56
http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/nov/05/police-tasers-deaths-the-counted

While deadly police shootings in the United States have gained international attention this year, [Calvon] Reid is one of 47 lesser-known people who lost their lives after law enforcement officers deployed a Taser, according to The Counted, an ongoing Guardian investigation documenting fatalities that follow police encounters. Reid died following shocks administered seemingly in violation of national guidelines. These rules ... acknowledge the lethal potential of electronic control weapons (ECW) deployed for more than three standard shock cycles of five seconds each. Many police departments are still not regulating the use of Tasers in accordance with these nationally accepted standards. Taser International, which sells ECWs to 17,800 of the United States’ roughly 18,000 law enforcement agencies and commands an overwhelming monopoly on the market, has ... sued medical examiners in the past, in one case leading to the examiners’ representative body to state that Taser International’s actions were “dangerously close to intimidation”. The weapons are likely responsible for many more deaths than coroners can easily record. An epidemiological study on the in-custody death rates of 50 California police departments ... found a startling 600% increase in sudden-death incidents in the year after Taser introduction, and then a 40% increase over pre-Taser rates for the next four years.

Note: Taser International operates a virtual monopoly in the US by trading luxury vacations and cushy retirement jobs to police chiefs in exchange for lucrative no-bid contracts. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about "non-lethal weapons", or read about how sophisticated and deadly some of these weapons technologies can be.


Feds fighting to keep cash seized from person never charged with crime
2015-08-29, Fox News
Posted: 2015-11-23 13:47:59
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/08/29/feds-fighting-to-keep-cash-seized-...

Federal prosecutors are battling in court to keep $167,000 in cash seized in a 2013 traffic stop, despite the motorist never being charged in the incident. The case ... highlights the ongoing concerns about the government unjustly seizing money and property. A Nevada state trooper pulled over ... Straughn Gorman’s motor-home in January 2013 for allegedly going too slow along Interstate 80. The trooper released Gorman but not before requesting the county sheriff’s office stop him again ... this time with a drug-sniffing dog. No drugs were found [when] Gorman was pulled over for two alleged traffic violations. But his vehicle, computer, cellphone and the cash ... were seized. In June, a federal judge in Nevada ordered Gorman’s cash be returned. In his ruling, District Judge Larry Hicks cited Gorman’s “prolonged detention” for the alleged traffic violations and criticized federal authorities for failing to disclose that the first officer requested the second stop. Hicks [wrote], “The two stops were for minor traffic violations, and they both were extended beyond the legitimate purposes for such traffic stops.” Hicks also said in his ruling the second stop never would have happened if the first officer had not relayed information about the first stop. The federal government earlier this month appealed Hicks' ruling in the 9th Circuit Court. Federal attorneys did not submit a reason for the appeal. The court is expected to also decide whether Gorman should be reimbursed $153,000 in legal fees, which federal lawyers don’t want to pay.

Note: A recent Washington Post investigation found that the theft of private property by police and other government officials has dramatically increased in recent years. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.


In tough times, police start seizing a lot more stuff from people
2015-11-10, Washington Post
Posted: 2015-11-15 22:10:41
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/11/10/report-in-lean-times-p...

Civil asset forfeiture ... lets police seize and keep cash and property from people who are never convicted - and in many cases, even charged - with wrongdoing. The past decade has seen a "meteoric, exponential increase" in the use of the practice. In 2008, there were less than $1.5 billion in the combined asset forfeiture funds of the Justice Department and the U.S. Treasury. But by 2014, that number had tripled, to roughly $4.5 billion. Critics ... say that the increase in forfeiture activity is due largely to the profit motive created by laws which allow police to keep some or all of the assets they seize. In one case represented by the Institute [for Justice], a drug task force seized $11,000 from a college student at an airport. They lacked evidence to charge him with any crime, but they kept the money and planned to divvy it up between 13 different law enforcement agencies. Asset forfeiture's defenders say that the practice is instrumental in dismantling large-scale criminal enterprises. But evidence suggests that forfeiture proceedings are often initiated against small time criminals or people who aren't criminals at all. An [ACLU] report earlier this year found that the median amount seized in forfeiture actions in Philadelphia amounted to $192. These forfeiture actions were concentrated in the city's poorest neighborhoods. In most states the typical forfeiture amount is very small. The median forfeiture case in Illinois is worth $530. In Minnesota, $451. Those are hardly kingpin-level hauls.

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.


Let’s Finally Close Guantánamo
2015-11-05, New York Times
Posted: 2015-11-15 22:03:20
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/05/opinion/lets-finally-close-guantanamo.html?...

Simply put, Guantánamo is one of the best propaganda tools that terrorists have today. It’s no coincidence that the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, dresses its victims in the same orange prisoner suits used in Guantánamo before conducting their ghastly beheadings. Our policies have allowed terrorists to cloud who holds the moral high ground. President George W. Bush said that he wanted Guantánamo to be closed. So did the former secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and Colin L. Powell, as well as the former secretaries of defense Robert M. Gates and Leon E. Panetta, among others. In addition to being a terrorist recruiting tool, Guantánamo is a huge drain on taxpayer dollars. The cost per detainee at Guantánamo is 30 times more than that of the most secure detention facilities in the United States. It’s hard to justify spending more than $2.5 million per detainee when it costs just $86,374 to hold an inmate in the so-called Supermax federal penitentiary in Colorado. During the Bush administration, 779 people were brought to Guantánamo, all without charge. Over time we’ve learned that many were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time and shouldn’t have been detained in the first place. Most detainees — 532 to be exact — were released by the Bush administration. Of the 112 detainees who remain today, only about 10 have been convicted or charged with a crime. One thing has become clear: Keeping detainees at Guantánamo indefinitely hasn’t worked.

Note: The above was written by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, vice chairwoman of the Select Committee on Intelligence. In 2013, a Senate Judiciary Committee subcommittee heard that "Guantanamo is a terrorist-creating organization". A carefully researched report on the covert origins of ISIS suggests the creation of terrorists is useful for Washington's elite.


Bush-Era NSA Whistleblower Makes Most Explosive Allegations Yet About Extent of Gov’t Surveillance — and You Won’t Believe Who He Says They Spied On
2013-06-20, The Blaze
Posted: 2015-11-15 21:45:19
http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/06/20/bush-era-nsa-whistleblower-makes-m...

Russ Tice, a former intelligence analyst and Bush-era NSA whistleblower, claimed Wednesday that the intelligence community has ordered surveillance on a wide range of groups and individuals, including high-ranking military officials, lawmakers and diplomats. “They went after – and I know this because I had my hands literally on the paperwork for these sort of things – they went after high-ranking military officers. They went after members of Congress, both Senate and the House, especially on the intelligence committees and on the armed services committees," [said] Tice. “But they went after other ones, too. They went after lawyers and law firms. They went after judges. One of the judges is now sitting on the Supreme Court. Two are former FISA court judges. They went after State Department officials. They went after people in the executive service that were part of the White House.” Then Tice dropped the bombshell about Obama. "In summer of 2004, one of the papers that I held in my hand was to wiretap a bunch of numbers associated with a 40-something-year-old wannabe senator for Illinois ... that’s the president of the United States now.” FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds and Tice agreed that such wide-ranging surveillance of officials could provide the intelligence agencies with unthinkable power to blackmail their opponents. “I was worried that the intelligence community now has sway over what is going on,” Tice said. Tice first blew the whistle on ... domestic spying across multiple agencies in 2005.

Note: Listen to Tice's shocking revelations in this interview. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and throughout intelligence agencies.


Arbitration Everywhere, Stacking the Deck of Justice
2015-10-31, New York Times
Posted: 2015-11-08 20:54:07
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/01/business/dealbook/arbitration-everywhere-st...

On Page 5 of a credit card contract used by American Express ... is a clause that most customers probably miss. If cardholders have a problem with their account, American Express explains, the company “may elect to resolve any claim by individual arbitration.” Those nine words are at the center of a far-reaching power play orchestrated by American corporations. By inserting individual arbitration clauses into a soaring number of consumer and employment contracts, companies like American Express devised a way to circumvent the courts and bar people from joining together in class-action lawsuits, realistically the only tool citizens have to fight illegal or deceitful business practices. It has become increasingly difficult to apply for a credit card, use a cellphone, get cable or Internet service, or shop online without agreeing to private arbitration. The same applies to getting a job, renting a car or placing a relative in a nursing home. By banning class actions, companies have essentially disabled consumer challenges to ... predatory lending, wage theft and discrimination. “This is among the most profound shifts in our legal history,” William G. Young, a federal judge ... said in an interview. “Ominously, business has a good chance of opting out of the legal system altogether and misbehaving without reproach.” Thousands of cases brought by single plaintiffs over fraud, wrongful death and rape are now being decided behind closed doors. And the rules of arbitration largely favor companies.

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EU Parliament votes to protect Edward Snowden
2015-10-29, CNN
Posted: 2015-11-01 20:55:57
http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/29/europe/eu-edward-snowden-vote

The European Parliament voted Thursday in support of a resolution that calls on member states to protect Edward Snowden from extradition. The vote ... has no legal force. The resolution urges nations to drop criminal charges and "consequently prevent extradition or rendition by third parties, in recognition of his status as whistle-blower and international human rights defender." Snowden called Thursday's vote a "game-changer." "This is not a blow against the US Government, but an open hand extended by friends. It is a chance to move forward," he wrote.The Justice Department has said Snowden would face criminal prosecution if he returns to the United States. He's been charged with three felony counts, including violations of the U.S. Espionage Act. Snowden told the BBC this month that he has offered "many times" to go to prison in the United States as part of a deal to return from exile in Russia, but is still waiting for an answer from the American government. In response to Thursday's vote, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. policy on Snowden has not changed. "He needs to come back to the United States and face the due process and the judicial process here in the United States.

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