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 National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which opens on Thursday, is a place unlike any other in the United States. Together with a new Legacy Museum which also opens this week, it addresses head on a subject that has been marked by a booming silence until now – the enforcement of white supremacy in America through racial terrorism in the form of lynching, as well as its other guises: slavery, segregation and modern mass incarceration. The memorial records and honors the more than 4,000 people of color ... who lost their lives to terror lynching. [It] sits audaciously atop a hill overlooking the heart of Montgomery. From its grounds you look down on the state capitol, the legislative beating heart of Alabama that acted as the first capital of the Confederacy and presides over a state constitution that to this day outlaws white and black kids going to school together: in 2004 and 2012 Alabamans held referendums on whether to remove the racist ban; both times the overwhelmingly white majority voted to keep it. [Equal Justice Initiative] has identified more than 4,384 lynchings by white people of people of colour [from] 1877 to 1950. They spanned 800 counties. Huge crowds often turned out: 10,000 to watch Henry Smith, 17, tortured and burned on a 10ft-high stage in Paris, Texas in 1893; 20,000 at the burning alive of Willy Brown in Omaha, Nebraska in 1919. Such was the communal complicity that sometimes entire white communities would attend – to a man, woman and child.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing civil liberties news articles from reliable major media sources.
Plainclothes police officers stormed the village of Madhura in Bihar State. They chased men into fields and detained the bride and groom, already covered in turmeric powder to prepare for the ceremony, for further questioning. Speaking to reporters at the police station later, Ms. Kumari, with downcast eyes, made her position clear: “I will not marry, sir,” she said. “I want to study.” India’s child marriage rate is one of the highest in the world. But as awareness has spread about the detriments associated with underage marriages ... the prevalence has dropped. Child marriage [in India] is finely threaded with other practices, including the exchange of a dowry from the bride’s family to the groom, and sometimes with sex trafficking, making it difficult to tackle any one issue without addressing others. Social workers said there are no easy solutions. Bihar, a poor, agrarian state in northern India, has one of the highest rates of underage marriages in the country. In 2005, 69 percent of surveyed women said they married when they were underage. Ten years later, the number fell to 42.5 percent. Last year, the Bihari government ... dispatched social workers to villages and cities across the state, and announced that priests who officiate weddings would be required to sign declarations affirming that both parties are of legal age to marry. The legal age for marriage for Indian women is 18 years old. For men, it is 21. With the 2006 Prohibition of Child Marriage Prevention Act, Indian lawmakers criminalized child marriage.
Note: While India has outlawed child marriage as a country, twenty-seven US States set no minimum age for marriage.
In recent months, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has called for five new detention facilities to be built and operated by private prison corporations across the country. ICE spends more than $2 billion a year on immigrant detention through private jails like [the Joe Corley Detention Facility], owned by GEO Group, the nation's largest private prison company. ICE and the U.S. Marshals Service pay GEO $32 million a year to house, feed and provide medical care for a thousand detainees. Between 2013 and 2014, Douglas Menjivar was one of those ICE detainees. Menjivar says he was raped by gang members in his cell, and when he reported it to the medical staff they mocked him. His lawyer has filed a federal civil rights complaint. Menjivar also says he was forced to work for a dollar a day. The forced labor allegations are part of two class-action lawsuits in federal court. But these are just the latest grievances against the business of immigrant incarceration. Human rights groups ... claim corporations skimp on detainee care in order to maximize profits. In its latest budget request, ICE has asked for more than 51,000 detainee beds - a 25 percent increase over the last year. The two largest private corrections corporations, GEO Group and CoreCivic, each gave $250,000 to Trump's inaugural festivities. The Obama administration [phased] out contracts with private prisons that house immigrants. Since Trump took office, the Bureau of Prisons has restored those contracts.
The Supreme Court on Monday shielded a police officer from being sued for shooting an Arizona woman in her front yard, once again making it harder to bring legal action against officers who use excessive force, even against an innocent person. With two dissents, the high court tossed out a lawsuit by a Tucson woman who was shot four times outside her home because she was seen carrying a large knife. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in dissent the victim did not threaten the police or a friend who was standing nearby. This "decision is not just wrong on the law; it also sends an alarming signal to law enforcement officers and the public," Sotomayor wrote. Since the Civil War, federal law has allowed people to sue government officials, including the police, for violating their constitutional rights. But in recent years, the Supreme Court has erected a shield of immunity for police and said officers may not be sued unless victims can point to a nearly identical shooting that had been deemed unconstitutionally excessive in a previous decision. The justices did not rule on whether officer Andrew Kisela acted reasonably when he used potentially deadly force against Amy Hughes. The court instead ruled [that Kisela] could not be sued because the victim could not cite a similar case. Sotomayor said the majority had revised the facts to favor the officer. "Hughes was nowhere near the officers, had committed no illegal act, was suspected of no crime, and did not raise the knife," she wrote.
Fifty years ago ... Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down in Memphis. The Washington Post is running a series of commentaries. The New York Times ran an emotional editorial. Neither paper will mention that they each denounced Dr. King in his later years. Nor will any outlet today likely mention that King had fallen sharply out of favor with much of the national media ... on April 4, 1967. The offense was a speech in New York. King spoke of the “hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence” abroad, and added that a country as financially and politically committed to war as ours could never fight a “War on Poverty” in earnest. One hundred and sixty-eight newspapers denounced him in the days that followed. These editorials had a peculiarly vicious flavor. In late 1967, King pooh-poohed the “violence” and “extremism” criticisms of the civil rights movement, explicitly saying the excesses of urban rioters were “infinitely less dangerous and immoral” than the cold, corporatized murder of the “American mainstream.” “If destruction of property is deplorable,” he asked, “what is the use of napalm on people?” Yet the “mainstream” King is the one most Americans have been conditioned to believe in. King ... died wanting us to radically change our way of life. But history has sanitized him, turning him into a mainstream leader who accomplished what he could within an acceptable role. That sanitizing continues on each of these anniversaries, and is a sad commentary on our inability to listen to even the best of us.
Note: A recent Corbett Report on the assassination of MKL has some powerful evidence of conspiracy at the highest levels. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on media corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
The secret letter was tucked inside the pages of an old book. It had been written by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to a top lieutenant, condemning civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. [in] 1964. Hoover the previous day had assailed King at a news conference as “the most notorious liar in the country.” Now he was writing a colleague privately to say he hoped King was getting his “just deserts.” Four years later, King would be assassinated. And the letter ... sheds yet more light on the historic malice the FBI director had toward King. Washington scholar James L. Swanson said he found the letter ... clipped to a page in [a book] he purchased. “This is a hitherto unknown and unpublished letter,” Swanson said. “What happened was this: It was announced [the previous month] that Dr. King had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and that provoked Hoover,” he said. Hoover believed that King and his movement were threats to the social order. The FBI had begun wiretapping King’s home and office, and bugging his hotel rooms. No serious links to communism were uncovered, but hints about King’s sexual dalliances allegedly were. Days after Hoover’s news conference, a salacious anonymous letter was delivered to King’s wife. This letter was ... in a package that also [contained] a tape recording that allegedly captured evidence of King’s sexual misconduct. King suspected that the FBI was behind the letter. Sullivan ... later admitted his involvement in the plan during testimony before a Senate committee.
Note: Watch an excellent, six-minute clip from Canada's PBS giving powerful evidence based on the excellent work of William Pepper that King was assassinated by factions in government that wanted his movement stopped. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and assassinations.
Saudi Arabia's crown prince declared that his country, long linked to terrorism and repression, will eradicate extremism. “We won’t waste 30 years of our lives dealing with any extremist ideas," said [Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman], who is the de-facto leader of the oil-rich state, at a conference for wealthy and influential business people. For decades, Saudi Arabia has been ruled by an absolute monarchy and governed under Wahhabism, a fundamentalist strain of Sunni Islam that has inspired extremist groups like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. Saudi Arabia has been criticized for exporting Wahhabism abroad and promoting radicalization. Recently, Saudi Arabia announced that it would allow women to drive and would open parts of its state-owned oil company to private investors. Experts say these moves are meant to impress Western allies and attract expats and foreign investors. While serving as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton devised plans to stop Saudi Arabia from funding terrorism. “We need to ... bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to (the Islamic State) and other radical Sunni groups in the region,” Clinton wrote in an email released by Wikileaks. Meanwhile, rights groups argue that Saudi Arabia continues to jail journalists and commit widespread human rights violations.
The U.S. military took more than four years to process a Freedom of Information Act request for a copy of the Guantánamo guidelines for censoring prison library material - and censored the guidelines when it processed the request. The paperwork the military released appeared to leave out three pages of the prison’s procedure for handling the Quran. The Miami Herald sought the Nov. 27, 2013, document in a Dec. 10, 2013, FOIA request. The U.S. Southern Command apparently released the document, with redactions, on March 21 but didn’t put it in the mail for five more days. It arrived at the Herald newsroom, which is next door to Southcom, on Tuesday. The Guantánamo prison is a Law of War detention site run by the Pentagon; left unclear was the U.S. military’s law enforcement or prosecution function related to the Detainee Library, which circulates books among 26 of the prison’s 41 detainees. Of those 26, only two have been convicted of war crimes. Former CIA captives at the clandestine Camp 7 prison, including those accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks, don’t have privileges at the main library but can draw from a different, secret collection. In May 2016, a U.S. Army officer in charge of detainee diversionary programs told reporters that “negative screening criteria” included military topics, extreme graphic violence, nudity, sexuality and extremism. Many of the prison’s current detainees were held by the CIA for weeks or years before their transfer to U.S. military custody.
Note: A letter titled, "Will I Die At Guantanamo Bay? After 15 Years, I Deserve Justice" was recently published by Newsweek. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the intelligence community.
The calls and emails started coming in: “Dr. Williams, are you available for commentary? Have you seen the recent shooting?” Another unarmed black man has been killed by law enforcement. I don’t want to watch it. But I feel like I have to. I need to give reporters an informed and responsible commentary on events. People ask me if the problem is getting worse. No, this has been going on all along but now we’re capturing more of it on video. How is this affecting the black community? “How do you think,” I want to say. We are sad, angry, and traumatized. We’re living in terror. This racial trauma can cause symptoms like anxiety, depression, phobias, acting-out and feelings of hopelessness. The trauma of exposure to these videos sits on top of layers of trauma that go all the way back to slavery. It is all one and the same. So should these videos be released? They have to be in order to show the public what’s going on and hold law enforcement accountable. I remind myself that there are good police officers, but these videos can help us see which ones aren’t doing their jobs. Despite the pain of viewing, many people of color want the videos to be shown for the same reason Emmett Till’s mother chose to have an open casket funeral – so the world could see what horrible torture had been done to her little boy for allegedly whistling at a white woman. We need the world to see what is being done to our people to help bring it to an end.
Note: The above was written by Monnica Williams, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Connecticut. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing police corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Tim Ballard's career with the CIA and Homeland Security may not be what you'd expect. With years of leading rescue efforts to free victims of human trafficking, especially those used as prostitutes, he founded Operation Underground Railroad to liberate captive slaves. Ballard explains the need for his work. "There are an estimated 27 million enslaved human beings in the world: more slaves than ever existed during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Many are sex slaves, as sex trafficking represents the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world. Many reputable organizations exist to disseminate information about this problem, and others function as aftercare organizations for victims. Very few, if any, dedicate themselves to the pro-active rescue and direct extraction of the victims, and to the capture and prosecution of their captors. Operation Underground Railroad fills this void." Operation Underground Railroad's work is already logging success. "In just our first two years, O.U.R. has already rescued over 350 victims of human trafficking," Ballard reports. "Foreign governments often seek out O.U.R. to assist in sting operations against child sex traffickers. We keep the respective U.S. Embassies informed of our activities, and have been fortunate to count on their support and participation in a number of our rescues.
Note: Don't miss an incredibly inspiring video interview of Tim Ballard with Tony Robbins.
In the five decades since Martin Luther King Jr. was shot dead by an assassin at age 39, his children have worked tirelessly to preserve his legacy. They are unanimous on one key point: James Earl Ray did not kill Martin Luther King. For the King family and others in the civil rights movement, the FBI’s obsession with King in the years leading up to his slaying in Memphis on April 4, 1968 - pervasive surveillance, a malicious disinformation campaign and open denunciations by FBI director J. Edgar Hoover - laid the groundwork for their belief that he was the target of a plot. Until her own death in 2006, Coretta Scott King, who endured the FBI’s campaign to discredit her husband, was open in her belief that a conspiracy led to the assassination. Her family filed a civil suit in 1999 ... and a Memphis jury ruled that the local, state and federal governments were liable for King’s death. “There is abundant evidence,” Coretta King said after the verdict, “of a major, high-level conspiracy in the assassination of my husband.” The jury found the mafia and various government agencies “were deeply involved in the assassination. Mr. Ray was set up to take the blame.” But nothing changed afterward. William Pepper, a New York lawyer and civil rights activist who knew and worked with King ... became convinced of Ray’s innocence and continued to investigate the case even after Ray died. Pepper wrote three books outlining the conspiracy, most recently “The Plot to Kill King” in 2016, which were largely ignored by the media.
Note: Watch an excellent, six-minute clip from Canada's PBS giving powerful evidence based on the excellent work of William Pepper that King was assassinated by factions in government that wanted his movement stopped. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing civil liberties news articles from reliable major media sources.
In November, the Saudi government locked up hundreds of influential businessmen - many of them members of the royal family - in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton in what it called an anti-corruption campaign. Most have since been released but they are hardly free. During months of captivity, many were subject to coercion and physical abuse. In the early days of the crackdown, at least 17 detainees were hospitalized for physical abuse and one later died in custody with a neck that appeared twisted, a badly swollen body and other signs of abuse, according to a person who saw the body. To leave the Ritz, many of the detainees not only surrendered huge sums of money, but also signed over to the government control of precious real estate and shares of their companies - all outside any clear legal process. As the architect of the crackdown, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman prepares to travel to the United States this month to court American investment. Saudi officials are spotlighting his reforms. But extensive interviews with Saudi officials, members of the royal family, and relatives, advisers and associates of the detainees revealed a murkier, coercive operation, marked by cases of physical abuse, which transferred billions of dollars in private wealth to the crown prince’s control. The government ... has refused to specify the charges against individuals and, even after they were released, to clarify who was found guilty or innocent, making it impossible to know how much the process was driven by personal score settling.
Note: Yet the U.S. continues to court Saudi Arabia as one of its closest allies. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Fifty years after the federal Fair Housing Act banned racial discrimination in lending, African Americans and Latinos continue to be routinely denied conventional mortgage loans at rates far higher than their white counterparts. This modern-day redlining persisted in 61 metro areas even when controlling for applicants' income, loan amount and neighborhood, according to millions of ... records analyzed by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting. Lenders and their trade organizations do not dispute the fact that they turn away people of color at rates far greater than whites, [and] singled out the three-digit credit score ... as especially important in lending decisions. Reveal's analysis included all records publicly available under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. Credit score was not included because that information is not publicly available. That's because lenders have deflected attempts to force them to report that data to the government. America's largest bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co., has argued that the data should remain closed off even to academics. At the same time, studies have found proprietary credit score algorithms to have a discriminatory impact on borrowers of color. The "decades-old credit scoring model" currently used "does not take into account consumer data on ... bill payments," Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina wrote in August. "This exclusion disproportionately hurts African-Americans, Latinos, and young people who are otherwise creditworthy."
Last week, the existence of a draft Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report came to light, which calls for long-term surveillance of Sunni Muslim immigrants. Internal documents obtained from the FBI and DHS last year also showed how the agencies are surveilling the Movement for Black Lives, bringing into mind tactics of Cointelpro, an FBI program which secretly and illegally conducted surveillance on the civil rights movement in order to disrupt Americans’ ability to organize politically. But these are not the only types of surveillance this administration is engaged in. On 18 October, DHS implemented a new rule to track the internet activity of all visa applicants, visa holders and legal permanent residents. The rule would also apply to naturalized US citizens. The new rule would track and store social media account information and other highly sensitive data as part of individuals’ immigration files. The policy would allow DHS to collect and track immigrants’ social media accounts handles as well as aliases, and search results from both public search engines as well as commercial databases. The rule ... seems like it was designed with the specific purpose of hampering our freedom of speech, in line with the Trump administration’s other chilling tactics of attacks on the press and crackdowns on protesters who do not fall in line with the policies of this administration. This covert surveillance, now culminating in overt spying on immigrants, is designed as a tactic to control and fracture dissent.
Note: Read more about the FBI's infamous Cointelpro program. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.
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.
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.