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 Screwed Again: How NSA Can Secretly Aid Criminal Cases

The NewsBy Ray McGovern

Rarely do you get a chance to ask a just-retired FBI director whether he had “any legal qualms” about what, in football, is called “illegal procedure,” but at the Justice Department is called “parallel construction.”

Government wordsmiths have given us this pleasant euphemism to describe the use of the National Security Agency’s illegal eavesdropping on Americans as an investigative tool to pass on tips to law enforcement agencies which then hide the source of the original suspicion and “construct” a case using “parallel” evidence to prosecute the likes of you and me.

For those interested in “quaint” things like the protections that used to be afforded us by the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution, information about this “parallel construction” has been in the public domain, including the “mainstream media,” for at least a year or so.

So, I welcomed the chance to expose this artful practice to still more people with cameras rolling at a large conference on “Ethos & Profession of Intelligence” at Georgetown University on Wednesday, during the Q & A after former FBI Director Robert Mueller spoke.

Mueller ducked my question regarding whether he had any “legal qualms” about this “parallel construction” arrangement. He launched into a discursive reply in which he described the various ”authorities” enjoyed by the FBI (and the CIA), which left the clear impression not only that he was without qualms but that he considered the practice of concealing the provenance of illegally acquired tip-off information somehow within those professed “authorities.”

Bottom line? Beware, those of you who think you have “nothing to hide” when the NSA scoops up your personal information. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Saturday, June 14 @ 20:47:45 EDT (894 reads)
(Read More... | 16134 bytes more | Comments? | Screwed Again | Score: 5)

 Opinion: Memo to Potential Whistleblowers: If You See Something, Say Something

The NewsBy Norman Solomon, Global Research

Blowing the whistle on wrongdoing creates a moral frequency that vast numbers of people are eager to hear. We don’t want our lives, communities, country and world continually damaged by the deadening silences of fear and conformity.

I’ve met many whistleblowers over the years, and they’ve been extraordinarily ordinary. None were applying for halos or sainthood. All experienced anguish before deciding that continuous inaction had a price that was too high. All suffered negative consequences as well as relief after they spoke up and took action. All made the world better with their courage.

Whistleblowers don’t sign up to be whistleblowers. Almost always, they begin their work as true believers in the system that conscience later compels them to challenge.

“It took years of involvement with a mendacious war policy, evidence of which was apparent to me as early as 2003, before I found the courage to follow my conscience,” Matthew Hoh recalled this week.“It is not an easy or light decision for anyone to make, but we need members of our military, development, diplomatic and intelligence community to speak out if we are ever to have a just and sound foreign policy.” ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Saturday, June 07 @ 17:36:45 EDT (749 reads)
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 Business/Economy: A New Front in the CEO Pay Wars

The News
State lawmakers are starting to say no to executive excess.

By Sam Pizzigati

Have you heard about Domino’s Pizza CEO J. Patrick Doyle? He pocketed $43 million over the last three years running an operation that stiffs low-wage workers and rakes in taxpayer subsidies.

That news prompted the New York Post to open its coverage with a rather brilliant quip: “Hey, J. Patrick Doyle, save some dough for the pizzas.”

Almost every day, the headlines remind us how outrageous CEO pay in America has become. Will these outrages ever end?

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers in Congress give us no particular cause for optimism. But at the state level we actually may be in for a pleasant political surprise. Two new imaginative state proposals are now seeking to leverage the power of the public purse against executive excess. In California, lawmakers are zeroing in on how government taxes. New legislation pending in Rhode Island targets how government spends. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, May 29 @ 21:23:51 EDT (765 reads)
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 Truth To Power: ACLU Argues Against Warrantless Cell Phone Tracking

The News Before Federal Appeals Court

From: ACLU.org

Police used automatically-created cell phone location data to track individuals’ movements throughout Miami area without a warrant

Miami – Today [April 25, 2014], the American Civil Liberties Union(ACLU) argued before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in a case about whether police need a warrant to track an individual’s location using data created by their cell phone service provider.

A panel of judges heard arguments today in a case, United States v. Davis, which involves warrantless police requests for cell phone location records. For one of the individuals involved, Quartavious Davis, police received 11,606 location records over the course of 67 days. The ACLU, along with the ACLU of Florida, Center for Democracy & Technology, Electronic Frontier Foundation and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, filed an amicus brief in the case arguing that the government violated the Fourth Amendment when it obtained these location requests from wireless carriers without first obtaining a warrant. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Saturday, April 26 @ 22:17:22 EDT (958 reads)
(Read More... | 3000 bytes more | Comments? | Truth To Power | Score: 0)

 Screwed Again: “Freedom of the Press” and “The Shield Law”:

The News
“Protecting the Public” from Independent Alternatives to the Mainstream Media

By Devon DB

Currently being debated by the Senate, but rarely discussed on mainstream television, is the Shield Law. While on the surface it may seem to be rather innocuous, some of the language in it and its implications are quite problematic for journalists.

A Shield Law is a law which “provides statutory protection for the ‘reporters’ privilege’— legal rules which protect journalists against the government requiring them to reveal confidential sources or other information.”[1] Generally, this is a positive occurrence as journalists are much more able to conduct their work and bring information to public light if they do not need to worry about having to reveal their sources. While Shield Laws have occurred in the past, they have only been on the state level. This currently proposed Shield Law is the first one to reach the federal level and the main goal is to protect journalists from having to reveal confidential sources in federal cases.[2]

However, there are certain instances in which journalists will have to reveal sources, such as “(1) The party seeking disclosure has exhausted all reasonable alternative sources of the information; (2) The requested information is essential to resolving the matter; (3) Disclosure of the requested information would not be contrary to the public interest; and (4) In criminal cases, if the requesting party is the federal government, the government must show that there are reasonable grounds to believe that a crime has occurred.”[3]

While overall it may seem like a good bill, there are a number of problems with this Shield Law, officially known as the Free Flow of Information Act of 2013. For starters, this law would “allow the government to seize reporters’ records without notifying them for 45 days – a period of time that could be renewed by a judge 45 additional days – if investigators convince a judge pre-notification ‘would pose a clear and substantial threat to the integrity of a criminal investigation.’”[4] This power of seizing records without notifying reporters was used most recently in regards to the Associated Press, when the federal government seized their phone records in May of last year, with the government only saying that “they were needed for investigation of an unspecified criminal matter.”[5] Oh yes! What transparency and accountability! Infringing upon the First Amendment rights of reporters and then only giving what is essentially a BS, purposefully vague explanation.

In addition to this, the government can force journalists to give up information in the name of national security.[6] This is quite worrying as the US government has time and time again been involved in operations of entrapment.[7,8] ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, April 16 @ 18:40:53 EDT (1284 reads)
(Read More... | 16867 bytes more | Comments? | Screwed Again | Score: 5)

 History/Culture: A Tortured Twist on Ethics

The News
Why isn't the American Psychological Association pursuing ethics charges against psychologist John Leso for abuses he helped carry out at the Guantánamo prison?

By Yosef Brody

George Orwell wisely observed that our understanding of the past, and the meaning associated with it, directly influences the future. And as the unprecedented public feud between the CIA and Congress makes clear, there are still significant aspects of our recent history of state-sponsored torture that need examination before we put this national disgrace behind us.

Important questions remain unresolved about the U.S. torture program in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. And the four-year, $40 million Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture is unlikely to provide sufficient answers, even if it’s ever declassified and released.

For example, what will be done about doctors who helped create U.S. torture programs and participated in their implementation? And is there any evidence that cruel, inhuman, and degrading practices continue under official policy, even to this day?

The question of whether American health professionals previously involved in military torture programs should be allowed to quietly and freely continue their careers came to a head recently when it was revealed that the American Psychological Association (APA) refused to pursue ethics charges against psychologist John Leso. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Friday, March 28 @ 23:00:06 EDT (901 reads)
(Read More... | 6303 bytes more | Comments? | History/Culture | Score: 5)

 History/Culture: Learning from the Twin Tragedies of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis

The News
All children deserve the same benefit of the doubt regardless of the color of their skin.

By DeNeen L. Brown

On a cold night this winter, 60 African-American teenagers lined up in a banquet room. Each wore a suit and tie. Each had a straight-A grade point average.

“I wish the media were here now,” said the president of the organization recognizing the students in one of the best school systems in the country. “If there were some shooting, they would be here.”

I was sitting at a table in that banquet hall, not as a reporter but as a mother. I wept at the truth of that statement. And I wondered why our society doesn’t see our black teenage boys for who they are — children.

Why do these kids not have the privilege of walking freely through the world, un-judged? Why don’t they get the privilege “benefit of the doubt” bestows on other children?

I wish the world could see what a black mother sees — how our sons laugh and study late at night. How before the sun rises, they’re up early, studying even more for a physics test. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, February 24 @ 21:29:45 EST (1286 reads)
(Read More... | 5359 bytes more | Comments? | History/Culture | Score: 0)

 Screwed Again: Seeking Justice: At Least 40,323 People Convicted with Evidence in Question

The News
Because of Admitted Fraud

From: ACLU.org

ACLU of Massachusetts and the ACLU file petition for due process

BOSTON – Today [January 9, 2014] the American Civil LibertiesUnion of Massachusetts and the national ACLU, together with Foley Hoag LLP, have petitioned the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court—that state’s highest court—to bring justice to tens of thousands of people whose criminal convictions rested on the work of a chemist who has been convicted of egregious misconduct. According to a state report, this chemist worked on the cases of 40,323 people.

The misconduct occurred at the Hinton State Laboratory, where chemist Annie Dookhan deliberately invented test results, by tampering with evidence so that it would test positive for illegal drugs and by falsely claiming to have tested samples when, in fact, she did no such testing. Dookhan’s misconduct was first reported to lab managers in June 2011, yet it was not disclosed to the public until August 2012. As of today, lawyers have been assigned to only 8,700 of the tens of thousands of people who may have been convicted based on this misconduct, and only a tiny fraction of people with lawyers have had a day in court. The ACLU’s petition asks that the Supreme Judicial Court intervene and implement a comprehensive remedy for the 40,323 people who may have been improperly convicted as a result of the lab’s misconduct. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Tuesday, January 14 @ 19:41:00 EST (1889 reads)
(Read More... | 4160 bytes more | Comments? | Screwed Again | Score: 5)

 International: Civil Liberties Groups Launch Coalition to Reshape Human Rights Landscape

The News
“Take Back the Streets” Report Details Excessive Police Force Against Protestors

From: ACLU.org

Civil Liberties Groups from 10 Countries Launch Coalition to Reshape Human Rights Landscape

NEW YORK – In response to increasing restrictions on personal freedoms and civil protest, national human rights organizations from 10 countries this week launched the International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO). They also released “Take Back the Streets: Repression and Criminalization of Protest Around the World,” a collection of case studies showing patterns of police crackdown and abuse against peaceful assembly, accompanied by concrete recommendations to expand free speech.

"Fundamental rights and freedoms we enjoy are a direct result of protest movements of the past,” said Gastón Chillier, executive director of the Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales in Argentina. “Freedom of speech and as a result, our societies, will only flourish if peaceful assembly is protected from excessive police force and government obstruction.” ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, October 21 @ 22:51:42 EDT (1380 reads)
(Read More... | 3161 bytes more | Comments? | International | Score: 4)

 Screwed Again: Pervasive Surveillance, Total Exposure and the End of Privacy

The NewsBy Greg Guma

More than a year before 9/11 a blue-ribbon congressional commission on terrorism released a series of recommendations that made civil libertarians cringe. To prevent possible terrorist attacks, said the panel (which included a former CIA director) restrictions on wiretapping should be loosened and surveillance of foreign students should be increased.

At the time, even the conservative Lincoln Legal Foundation labeled the cure “worse than the disease,” arguing that such threats didn’t warrant a suspension of constitutional rights. Most people barely noticed the dispute, however, and even if they had, it’s unlikely that many would have expressed concern about the implications of more wiretapping or spying on people accused of no crimes. The problem was terrorism, after all.

Since then, despite the American preoccupation with individual privacy, surveillance of everyday life has become so pervasive that it’s difficult to resist the mounting intrusions. Video cameras perch around banks, airports, hospitals, ATMs, stores, freeways, and building lobbies and elevators. The Transportation Security Agency recently announced that it will expand its own “stop and frisk” domain to cover trains, buses and concerts.

People often feel safer with cameras observing local streets and parking lots. There are complaints about Facebook’s collection of data, and some consumers do object to the collection of information on their shopping preferences by websites and stores. Still, most accept it as an acceptable and relatively harmless trade-off.

According to Bill Gates (who should know), computers will soon be able to inexpensively scan massive video records to find a particular person or activity. In his 1995 book, The Road Ahead, Gates already envisioned (but didn’t directly recommend) a camera on every streetlight. “What today seems like digital Big Brother might one day become the norm if the alternative is being left to the mercy of terrorists or criminals,” he wrote. Millions will choose to lead “a documented life,” Gates predicted, keeping an audio, written, or video record of their everyday activities. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Friday, August 16 @ 20:52:47 EDT (1562 reads)
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 Art News: A Chance to Start Listening Locally

The News
Low-power FM radio levels the playing field of ideas and culture.

By Sanjay Jolly

The world of radio is experiencing a shake-up.

The country’s second-biggest radio network recently announced it may cancel Rush Limbaugh’s show on 40 of its major-market stations.

This might not be enough to get Rush off the air altogether, but it’s a sign that he may have gone too far with his misogynistic comments regarding Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke, which unleashed a boycott of his advertisers and hammered the network’s bottom line.

With or without Rush’s hot air being broadcast in their communities, Americans have too few alternatives on the radio dial. That’s about to change.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will soon be accepting applications from non-profit organizations to start small community radio stations. This opportunity, which will only run from October 15 to 29, is the first time that local groups can apply for these low-power FM stations in over a decade. In most communities, it will likely be your only opportunity to get on the radio dial. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, August 14 @ 20:57:09 EDT (1358 reads)
(Read More... | 5089 bytes more | Comments? | Art News | Score: 0)

 Truth To Power: Location Records Kept on Tens of Millions Innocent Americans

The News
ACLU Releases Documents on License Plate Scanners From Some 300 Police Departments Nationwide

from: aclu.org

NEW YORK – Police departments around the country are rapidly expanding their use of automatic license plate readers to track the location of American drivers, but few have meaningful rules in place to protect drivers' privacy rights, according to documents released today by the American Civil LibertiesUnion. As a result, the new documents reveal, many departments are keeping innocent people's location information stored for years or even indefinitely, regardless of whether there is any suspicion of a crime.

"The spread of these scanners is creating what are, in effect, government location tracking systems recording the movements of many millions of innocent Americans in huge databases," said ACLU Staff Attorney Catherine Crump, the report's lead author. "We don't object to the use of these systems to flag cars that are stolen or belong to fugitives, but these documents show a dire need for rules to make sure that this technology isn't used for unbridled government surveillance."

The systems use cameras mounted on patrol cars or on objects like road signs and bridges, and the documents show that their deployment is increasing rapidly, with significant funding coming from federal grants. They photograph every license plate they encounter, use software to read the number and add a time and location stamp, then record the information in a database. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, July 18 @ 21:32:18 EDT (434 reads)
(Read More... | 6054 bytes more | Comments? | Truth To Power | Score: 0)

 Screwed Again: Of All the Stupid Ideas:

The News
New York Police and Brookhaven Lab Suggest a Terror Plot

by: Dave Lindorff

Straphangers in New York City became a mass of unwitting guinea pigs Tuesday in a system-wide test by the New York Police Department and the Brookhaven Lab to determine how successful a terrorist organization could be at poisoning the city’s underground commuters with toxic gas.

According to reports in the local media like the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, the test, funded by a $3.4-million grant from the US Department of Homeland Security, involved releasing small amounts of allegedly “harmless” gas into the subway at various places in Manhattan south of 59th Street, and then testing to see how widely and quickly it dispersed through the five boroughs through subway tunnels and in subway cars.

The gas used, called a perfluorocarbon, besides posing a serious threat to the ozone layer that has led to its being largely banned from industrial use, is suspected of causing tumors in animals, and of impacting immune systems and liver and endocrine systems. The odorless chemical is also very long-lasting once absorbed by the body, and while the dispersed gas would in very low and surely harmless concentrations, that might not be the case in the 21 stations where it was being released initially--especially as citizens were not told where the actuall releases were taking place “for security reasons.”

Several such tests are planned over the summer. Tuesday was just test number one. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, July 10 @ 21:14:10 EDT (390 reads)
(Read More... | 6998 bytes more | Comments? | Screwed Again | Score: 0)

 Opinion: Why Disinformation Works.

The News
In America “Truth has no Relevance. Only Agendas are Important”

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, Global Research

Have you ever wondered how the government’s misinformation gains traction?

What I have noticed is that whenever a stunning episode occurs, such as 9/11 or the Boston Marathon bombing, most everyone whether on the right or left goes along with the government’s explanation, because they can hook their agenda to the government’s account.


The leftwing likes the official stories of Muslims creating terrorist mayhem in America, because it proves their blowback theory and satisfies them that the dispossessed and oppressed can fight back against imperialism.

The patriotic rightwing likes the official story, because it proves America is attacked for its goodness or because terrorists were allowed in by immigration authorities and nurtured by welfare, or because the government, which can’t do anything right, ignored plentiful warnings.

Whatever the government says, no matter how problematical, the official story gets its traction from its compatibility with existing predispositions and agendas.

In such a country, truth has no relevance. Only agendas are important.

A person can see this everywhere. I could write volumes illustrating how agenda-driven writers across the spectrum will support the most improbable government stories despite the absence of any evidence simply because the government’s line can be used to support their agendas. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, June 03 @ 21:39:44 EDT (401 reads)
(Read More... | 12294 bytes more | Comments? | Opinion | Score: 5)

 History/Culture: Federal Court Rules Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio Violated U.S. Constitution

The News
Arpaio and His Deputies Have Engaged in Racial Profiling Against Latinos in Maricopa County

From: aclu.org

PHOENIX – Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio relied on racial profiling and illegal detentions to target Latinos, a federal district court said today. The ruling comes following a three-week trial in July and August over a pattern of unlawful practices by Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office on immigration sweeps and traffic stops.

"This is a victory for everyone," said Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project. "Singling people out for traffic stops and detentions because they are Latino is unconstitutional and just plain un-American. Let this be a warning to any agency trying to enforce the 'show me your papers' provision of SB 1070 and similar laws — there is no exception in the Constitution for immigration enforcement."

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Arizona, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), and the law firm Covington & Burling LLP represented a class of Latino residents and a Latino community organization, Somos America.

On Sept. 25, a federal appeals court confirmed that Arpaio's office cannot detain people solely on the suspicion that they are undocumented by refusing to reverse a lower court's ruling. Today, U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow issued a decision in Melendres v. Arpaio that found the policies and practices of Arpaio and his office are discriminatory, violate the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Tuesday, May 28 @ 22:33:53 EDT (410 reads)
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