Civil Liberties News ArticlesExcerpts of key news articles on civil liberties
Joseph Rivers ... pulled together $16,000 in seed money to fulfill a lifetime dream of starting a music video company. Last month, Rivers took the first step in that voyage [by] boarding an Amtrak train headed for Los Angeles. He never made it. A DEA agent boarded the train at the Albuquerque Amtrak station and began asking various passengers, including Rivers, where they were going and why. When Rivers replied that he was headed to LA to make a music video, the agent asked to search his bags. Rivers complied. The agent found Rivers's cash, still in a bank envelope. He explained why he had it. The agents didn't believe him. Rivers let them call his mother back home to corroborate the story. They didn't believe her, either. The agents found nothing in Rivers's belongings that indicated that he was involved with the drug trade. They didn't arrest him or charge him with a crime. But they took his cash anyway, every last cent, under the authority of the Justice Department's civil asset forfeiture program. Rivers says he suspects he may have been singled out for a search because he was the only black person on that part of the train. According to a Washington Post investigation last year ... asset forfeiture is lucrative. In fiscal year 2014 Justice Department agencies made a total of $3.9 billion in civil asset seizures, versus only $679 million in criminal asset seizures. Asset forfeitures have more than doubled during President Obama's tenure.
Note: Read a New York Times article on this program which allows law enforcement agencies to seize money with impunity. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties from reliable major media sources.
The FBI and major media outlets yesterday trumpeted the ... latest counterterrorism triumph: the arrest of three Brooklyn men, ages 19 to 30, on charges of conspiring to travel to Syria to fight for ISIS. It appears that none of the three men was in any condition to travel or support the Islamic State, without help from the FBI informant. One of the frightening terrorist villains told the FBI informant that, beyond having no money, he had encountered a significant problem in following through on the FBI’s plot: his mom had taken away his passport. In this regard, this latest arrest appears to be quite similar to the overwhelming majority of terrorism arrests the FBI has proudly touted over the last decade. These cases ... end up sending young people to prison for decades for “crimes” which even their sentencing judges acknowledge they never would have seriously considered, let alone committed, in the absence of FBI trickery. We’re constantly bombarded with dire warnings about the grave threat of [terrorism]. But how serious of a threat can all of this be, at least domestically, if the FBI continually has to resort to manufacturing its own plots by trolling the Internet in search of young drifters and/or the mentally ill whom they target? Shouldn’t there be actual plots, ones that are created and fueled without the help of the FBI? The Justice Department is aggressively pressuring U.S. allies to employ these same entrapment tactics in order to create their own terrorists, who can then be paraded around as proof of the grave threat. The FBI’s terrorism strategy — keep fear alive — drives everything they do.
Note: Human Rights Watch has documented the government manufacture of fake "terrorism" plots being used to keep fear alive in war on terror. There is even evidence that the 1993 World Trade Center bombing was an F.B.I. entrapment plan gone awry. In 2012, the New York Times exposed the pattern of F.B.I. entrapment used to produce these fake "terrorism" plots. How can corrupt intelligence agencies continue to blatantly manipulate public perception like this?
At least 50 U.S. law enforcement agencies have secretly equipped their officers with radar devices that allow them to effectively peer through the walls of houses to see whether anyone is inside. Those agencies, including the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service, began deploying the radar systems more than two years ago with little notice to the courts and no public disclosure of when or how they would be used. The technology raises legal and privacy issues because the U.S. Supreme Court has said officers generally cannot use high-tech sensors to tell them about the inside of a person's house without first obtaining a search warrant. The radars work like finely tuned motion detectors, using radio waves to zero in on movements as slight as human breathing from a distance of more than 50 feet. They can detect whether anyone is inside of a house, where they are and whether they are moving. The device the Marshals Service and others are using [was] first designed for use in Iraq and Afghanistan. They represent the latest example of battlefield technology finding its way home to civilian policing and bringing complex legal questions with it. Those concerns are especially thorny when it comes to technology that lets the police determine what's happening inside someone's home.
Note: This technology is not new. Working as interpreter in Washington, DC, WantToKnow.info founder Fred Burks witnessed this technology being used by the police there in the late 1980s. Explore an informative ACLU report detailing the many surveillance technologies used by police which are often used illegally. For more along these lines, see this deeply revealing summarized NPR report about The Pentagon's massive Program 1033 to widely distribute military hardware to domestic police forces.
Civil asset forfeiture ... allows the government, without ever securing a conviction or even filing a criminal charge, to seize property. The practice ... has become a staple of law enforcement agencies because it helps finance their work. Under a Justice Department program, the value of assets seized has ballooned to $4.3 billion in the 2012 fiscal year from $407 million in 2001. From Orange County, N.Y., to Rio Rancho, N.M., forfeiture operations are being established or expanded. Much of the nuts-and-bolts how-to of civil forfeiture is passed on in continuing education seminars for local prosecutors and law enforcement officials, some of which have been captured on video. In the sessions, officials ... offered advice on dealing with skeptical judges, mocked Hispanics whose cars were seized, and ... gave weight to the argument that civil forfeiture encourages decisions based on the value of the assets to be seized rather than public safety. Prosecutors boasted in the sessions that seizure cases were rarely contested or appealed. Civil forfeiture places the burden on owners, who must pay court fees and legal costs. And often the first hearing is presided over not by a judge but by the prosecutor whose office benefits from the proceeds. Mr. McMurtry [chief of the forfeiture unit in the Mercer County, N.J., prosecutor’s office] said his handling of a case is sometimes determined by department wish lists. “If you want the car, and you really want to put it in your fleet, let me know — I’ll fight for it.”
Note: Watch the video at the link above showing a trainer teaching cops how to steal a car that a cop might want legally. For more along these lines, see these concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption and civil liberties news articles from reliable sources.
The U.S. government threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 a day in 2008 if it failed to comply with a broad demand to hand over user communications — a request the company believed was unconstitutional — according to court documents unsealed [on September 11] that illuminate how federal officials forced American tech companies to participate in the National Security Agency’s controversial PRISM program. The documents ... outline a secret and ultimately unsuccessful legal battle by Yahoo to resist the government’s demands. The company’s loss required Yahoo to become one of the first to begin providing information to PRISM, a program that gave the NSA extensive access to records of online communications by users of Yahoo and other U.S.-based technology firms. The ruling by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review became a key moment in the development of PRISM, helping government officials to convince other Silicon Valley companies that unprecedented data demands had been tested in the courts and found constitutionally sound. Eventually, most major U.S. tech companies, including Google, Facebook, Apple and AOL, complied. Microsoft had joined earlier, before the ruling, NSA documents have shown. PRISM was first revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden last year. Documents made it clear that the program allowed the NSA to order U.S.-based tech companies to turn over e-mails and other communications to or from foreign targets without search warrants for each of those targets. Other NSA programs gave even more wide-ranging access to personal information of people worldwide, by collecting data directly from fiber-optic connections.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government surveillance news articles from reliable major media sources.
The US government’s web of surveillance is vast and interconnected. You can be pulled into the National Security Agency’s database quietly and quickly. Through ICREACH, a Google-style search engine created for the intelligence community, the NSA provides data on private communications to 23 government agencies. More than 1,000 analysts had access to that information. It was confirmed earlier this month that the FBI shares its master watchlist, the Terrorist Screening Database, with at least 22 foreign governments, countless federal agencies, state and local law enforcement, plus private contractors. The watchlist [is] based on [low] standards and secret evidence, which ensnares innocent people. Indeed, the standards are so low that the US government’s guidelines specifically allow for a single, uncorroborated source of information – including a Facebook or Twitter post – to serve as the basis for placing you on its master watchlist. Of the 680,000 individuals on that FBI master list, roughly 40% have “no recognized terrorist group affiliation”, according to the Intercept. These individuals don’t even have a connection – as the government loosely defines it – to a designated terrorist group, but they are still branded as suspected terrorists. The US [government uses] a loose standard – so-called “reasonable suspicion” – in determining who, exactly, can be watchlisted. ["Reasonable suspicion"] requires neither “concrete evidence” nor “irrefutable evidence”. Instead, an official is permitted to consider “reasonable inferences” and “to draw from the facts in light of his/her experience”.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing terrorism news articles from reliable major media sources.
Nearly all of the highest-profile domestic terrorism plots in the United States since 9/11 featured the "direct involvement" of government agents or informants, a new report says. Some of the controversial "sting" operations "were proposed or led by informants", bordering on entrapment by law enforcement. Yet the courtroom obstacles to proving entrapment are significant, one of the reasons the stings persist. The lengthy report, released on [July 21] by Human Rights Watch, raises questions about the US criminal justice system's [respect for] civil rights and due process in post-9/11 terrorism cases. [The report] portrays a system that features not just the sting operations but secret evidence, anonymous juries, extensive pretrial detentions and convictions significantly removed from actual plots. "In some cases the FBI may have created terrorists out of law-abiding individuals by suggesting the idea of taking terrorist action or encouraging the target to act," the report alleges. Out of the 494 cases related to terrorism the US has tried since 9/11, the plurality of convictions ... are not for thwarted plots but for "material support" charges, a broad category expanded further by the 2001 Patriot Act that permits prosecutors to pursue charges with tenuous connections to a terrorist act or group. Several cases featured years-long solitary confinement for accused terrorists before their trials. Some defendants displayed signs of mental incapacity. Jurors for the 2007 plot to attack the Fort Dix army base, itself influenced by government informants, were anonymous, limiting defense counsel's ability to screen out bias.
Note: Why was this important news not picked up by any major US media? For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing intelligence agency operations news articles from reliable major media sources.
Officials in North Carolina are investigating how a teen allegedly shot himself in the head while handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser. Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez said ... at a news conference that Jesus Huerta, 17, died of a self-inflicted gunshot [wound] to the head in November. Lopez said a handgun was found in the car and that Huerta was still handcuffed from behind, according to the station. "The medical examiner's office has confirmed that Jesus Huerta died from a gunshot wound to his head," Lopez said. "Whether that wound was accidental or intentional is unknown at this time." Huerta [had been] picked up early on Nov. 19 on a trespassing warrant stemming from a July incident, after family members reported concerns for his safety in a 911 call. Chief Lopez said Huerta was searched by police prior to the shooting incident and the weapon was not detected. "I know that it is hard for people not in law enforcement to understand how someone could be capable of shooting themselves while handcuffed behind the back," Lopez said. "While incidents like this are not common, they unfortunately have happened in other jurisdictions in the past." Huerta’s family released a statement following the news conference. "How did Jesus end up dead in the parking lot at police headquarters in these circumstances? Searched. Handcuffed behind the back. How is it even possible to shoot oneself?" the statement reads.
Note: If, as the police chief states, other incidents of people shooting themselves while handcuffed behind the back have happened, maybe it's time for a thorough investigation of these police forces. For more on the deadly corruption in the government-prison-industrial complex, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
The Denver Post, on February 15th, ran an Associated Press article entitled "Homeland Security aims to buy 1.6b rounds of ammo". It confirmed that the Department of Homeland Security has issued an open purchase order for 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition. Some of this purchase order is for hollow-point rounds, forbidden by international law for use in war, along with a frightening amount specialized for snipers. Also reported elsewhere, at the height of the Iraq War the Army was expending less than 6 million rounds a month. Therefore 1.6 billion rounds would be enough to sustain a hot war for 20+ years. DHS now is [also] showing off its acquisition of heavily armored personnel carriers, repatriated from the Iraqi and Afghani theaters of operation. The Department of Homeland Security is apparently taking delivery (apparently through the Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico VA, via the manufacturer – Navistar Defense LLC) of an undetermined number of [recently retrofitted] ‘Mine Resistant Protected’ MaxxPro MRAP vehicles for service on the streets of the United States.” Why would they need such over-the-top vehicles on U.S. streets to withstand IEDs, mine blasts, and 50 caliber hits to bullet-proof glass? In a war zone… yes, definitely. [But] on the streets of America?
Note: For a U.S. Army field manual titled "Internment and Resettlement Operations" (FM 3-39.40) describing how large numbers of American citizens could be sent to internment camps if involved in "terrorist" activities, click here. The introduction to this document states, "Commanders will use technology and conduct police intelligence operations to influence and control populations, evacuate detainees and, conclusively, transition rehabilitative and reconciliation operations to other functional agencies." For a disturbing report on the massive expansion of drones over US skies, click here.
The newly disclosed “white paper” offering a legal reasoning behind the claim that President Obama has the power to order the killing of American citizens ... coyly describes another, classified document ... that actually provided the legal justification for ordering the killing of American citizens. That document still has not been provided to Congress, despite repeated demands from lawmakers. According to the white paper, the Constitution and the Congressional authorization for the use of force after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, gave Mr. Obama the right to kill any American citizen that an “informed, high-level official” decides is a “senior operational leader of Al Qaeda or an associated force” and presents an “imminent threat of violent attack.” It never tries to define what an “informed, high-level official” might be, and the authors of the memo seem to have redefined the word “imminent” in a way that diverges sharply from its customary meaning. It takes the position that the only “oversight” needed for such a decision resides within the executive branch, and there is no need to explain the judgment to Congress, the courts or the public — or, indeed, to even acknowledge that the killing took place. The paper argues that judges and Congress don’t have the right to rule on or interfere with decisions made in the heat of combat. The white paper “is a confusing blend of self-defense and law of war concepts” said Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies. “Its due process analysis is especially weak.”
Note: To read the entire 'white paper' on drone strikes on Americans, click here. For a more detailed analysis by a distinguished lawyer, click here. What this means is that if the president doesn't like someone and deems him an imminent threat, he can have that person killed and legally keep it all a secret. Is America drifting towards a police state?
New documents prove what was once dismissed as paranoid fantasy: totally integrated corporate-state repression of dissent. It was more sophisticated than we had imagined: new documents show that the violent crackdown on Occupy last fall – so mystifying at the time – was not just coordinated at the level of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and local police. The crackdown, which involved, as you may recall, violent arrests, group disruption, canister missiles to the skulls of protesters, people held in handcuffs so tight they were injured, people held in bondage till they were forced to wet or soil themselves – was coordinated with the big banks themselves. The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, in a groundbreaking scoop that should once more shame major US media outlets (why are nonprofits now some of the only entities in America left breaking major civil liberties news?), filed this request. The document – reproduced here in an easily searchable format – shows a terrifying network of coordinated DHS, FBI, police, regional fusion center, and private-sector activity so completely merged into one another that the monstrous whole is, in fact, one entity: in some cases, bearing a single name, the Domestic Security Alliance Council. And it reveals this merged entity to have one centrally planned, locally executed mission. The documents, in short, show the cops and DHS working for and with banks to target, arrest, and politically disable peaceful American citizens.
Note: For analysis of these amazing documents revealing the use of joint government and corporate counterterrorism structures against peaceful protestors of financial corruption, click here and here. For a Democracy Now! video segment on this, click here.
On 20 November, district court Judge David D Dowd Jr sentenced three anarchists with the Occupy Cleveland movement to prison terms ranging from 8 to 11.5 years for attempting to bomb a highway bridge last spring. Shaquille Azir, a paid FBI informant with a 20-year criminal record, facilitated every step in the plot. Azir molded the five's childish bravado and drunken fantasies into terrorism. He played father figure to the lost men, providing them with jobs, housing, beer and drugs. Every time the scheme threatened to collapse into gutterpunk chaos, he kept it on track. FBI tapes reveal Azir led the brainstorming of targets, showed them bridges to case out, pushed them to buy C-4 military-grade explosives, provided the contact for weapons, gave them money for the explosives and demanded they develop a plan because "we on the hook" for the weapons. This case could have put on trial the post-September 11 strategy of "preventative prosecution", in which the FBI dispatches provocateurs to infiltrate targeted religious and political groups to see what they can stir up. Anarchists are inherently suspect. A recent FBI document calls anarchists "criminals seeking an ideology to justify their activities." Pardiss Kebriaei, a senior attorney specializing in national security at the Center for Constitutional Rights, claims standard operating procedure in terror cases "starts with surveillance and profiling on the basis of religion, politics and national origin". She notes parallels between the Cleveland anarchists and the "Newburgh Four", named for the upstate New York town in which the plot was hatched.
Note: For information on how to contact Brandon Baxter, Joshua Stafford, Connor Stevens and Douglas Wright, see cleveland4solidarity.org. For the Newburgh Four, see projectsalam.org For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on entrapment operations and other manipulations by the FBI and intelligence agencies, click here.
Expert comparisons of hair, handwriting, marks made by firearms on bullets, and patterns such as bite marks and shoe and tire prints are in some ways unscientific and subject to human bias, a National Academy of Sciences panel chartered by Congress found. Even fingerprint identification is partly a subjective exercise that lacks research into the role of unconscious bias or even its error rate, the panel’s 328-page report said. Since 2002, failures have been reported at about 30 federal, state and local crime labs serving the FBI, the Army and eight of the nation’s 20 largest cities. A 2009 study of post-conviction DNA exonerations — now up to 289 nationwide — found invalid testimony in more than half the cases. FBI examiners claimed until recently that they can match fingerprints to the exclusion of any other person in the world with 100 percent certainty. The academy report found that assertion was “not scientifically plausible” and had chilled research into error rates. In 1999, a Justice Department official, Richard Rau, told a federal court that the department delayed such a study because of the legal ramifications. Meanwhile, errors occur. In 2004, DNA for the first time exonerated a person convicted with a fingerprint match and, separately, the FBI made its first publicly acknowledged fingerprint misidentification. Brandon Mayfield, a Portland, Ore., lawyer, mistakenly was arrested in connection with the terrorist train bombings in Madrid that killed 191 people.
Note: A Washington Post investigation recently found that over a 20 year period, "nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the corrupt prison industry built upon by systematic violations of civil rights.
[On March 8, 2012], President Obama signed into law the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011. This law permits Secret Service agents to designate any place they wish as a place where free speech, association and petition of the government are prohibited. It permits the Secret Service to make these determinations based on the content of speech. Thus, federal agents whose work is to protect public officials and their friends may prohibit the speech and the gatherings of folks who disagree with those officials or permit the speech and the gatherings of those who would praise them, even though the First Amendment condemns content-based speech discrimination by the government. The new law also provides that anyone who gathers in a “restricted” area may be prosecuted. Permitting people to express publicly their opinions to the president only at a time and in a place and manner such that he cannot hear them violates the First Amendment, which guarantees the right to useful speech. The same may be said of the rights to associate and to petition. If peaceful public assembly and public expression of political demands on the government can be restricted to places where government officials cannot be confronted, then those rights, too, have been neutered. This abominable legislation enjoyed overwhelming support from both political parties in Congress because the establishment loves power, fears dissent and hates inconvenience, and it doesn’t give a damn about the Constitution.
Note: How strange that the Washington Times was one of the few media to have even covered this incredible infringement on the right to free speech. Fox News also covered it, as you can see in this excellent video. Now instead of being a country where free speech is held in great esteem, the US has "free speech zones" outside of which citizens lose their right to speak freely. What's happening here?
Even as we pass judgment on countries we consider unfree, Americans remain confident that any definition of a free nation must include their own — the land of [the] free. Yet ... in the decade since Sept. 11, 2001, this country has comprehensively reduced civil liberties in the name of an expanded security state. The most recent example of this was the National Defense Authorization Act, signed Dec. 31, which allows for the indefinite detention of citizens. While each new national security power Washington has embraced was controversial when enacted, they are often discussed in isolation. But they don’t operate in isolation. They form a mosaic of powers under which our country could be considered, at least in part, authoritarian. Americans often proclaim our nation as a symbol of freedom to the world while dismissing nations such as Cuba and China as categorically unfree. [Yet] the United States now has much more in common with such regimes than anyone may like to admit. These countries also have constitutions that purport to guarantee freedoms and rights. But their governments have broad discretion in denying those rights and few real avenues for challenges by citizens — precisely the problem with the new laws in this country. The list of powers acquired by the U.S. government since 9/11: 1. Assassination of U.S. citizens. 2. Indefinite detention. 3. Arbitrary justice. 4. Warrantless searches. 5. Secret evidence. 6. War crimes. 7. Secret court. 8. Immunity from judicial review. 9. Continual monitoring of citizens. 10. Extraordinary renditions.
Note: Thank you to the Washington Post for publishing this amazing article revealing the disturbing and severe erosion of freedom and civil liberties in the U.S. ever since 9/11. Written by Professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University in the nation's capital, this incisive essay lays bare what so many citizens don't know, and what many don't even want to know. Yet, in this case, ignorance is not bliss. Don't miss the full article listing the loss of 10 important civil liberties at this link.
Undercover police officers routinely adopted a tactic of "promiscuity" with the blessing of senior commanders, according to a former agent who worked in a secretive unit of the Metropolitan police for four years. The former undercover policeman claims that sexual relationships with activists were sanctioned for both men and women officers infiltrating anarchist, leftwing and environmental groups. Sex was a tool to help officers blend in, the officer claimed, and was widely used as a technique to glean intelligence. He said undercover officers, particularly those infiltrating environmental and leftwing groups, viewed having sex with a large number of partners "as part of the job". His comments contradict claims last week from the Association of Chief Police Officers that operatives were absolutely forbidden to sleep with activists. The claims follow the unmasking of undercover PC Mark Kennedy, who had sexual relationships with several women during the seven years he spent infiltrating a ring of environmental activists. Another two covert officers have been named in the past fortnight who also had sex with the protesters they were sent to spy on, fuelling allegations that senior officers had authorised sleeping around as a legitimate means of gathering intelligence.
Note: For a comprehensive overview of the still-ongoing revelations about police provocateur Mark Kennedy and his cohorts in the UK police infiltration of environmental and related activist groups, click here.
The Transportation Security Administration ... has on its web site a “mythbuster” that tries to reassure the public. Myth: The No-Fly list includes an 8-year-old boy. Buster: No 8-year-old is on a T.S.A. watch list. “Meet Mikey Hicks,” said Najlah Feanny Hicks, introducing her 8-year-old son, a New Jersey Cub Scout and frequent traveler who has seldom boarded a plane without a hassle because he shares the name of a suspicious person. “It’s not a myth.” Hicks’s mother initially sensed trouble when he was a baby and she could not get a seat for him on their flight to Florida at an airport kiosk; airline officials explained that his name “was on the list,” she recalled. The first time he was patted down, at Newark Liberty International Airport, Mikey was 2. He cried. After years of long delays and waits for supervisors at every airport ticket counter, this year’s vacation to the Bahamas badly shook up the family. Mikey was frisked on the way there, then more aggressively on the way home. “Up your arms, down your arms, up your crotch — someone is patting your 8-year-old down like he’s a criminal,” Mrs. Hicks recounted. It is true that Mikey is not on the federal government’s “no-fly” list, which includes about 2,500 people, less than 10 percent of them from the United States. But his name appears to be among some 13,500 on the larger “selectee” list, which sets off a high level of security screening.
Note: For many reports from major media sources on the extreme loss of liberties brought about by the highly touted "war on terrorism," click here.
Every phone call, text message, email and website visit made by private citizens is to be stored for a year and will be available for monitoring by government bodies. All telecoms companies and internet service providers will be required by law to keep a record of every customerâ€™s personal communications, showing who they have contacted, when and where, as well as the websites they have visited. Despite widespread opposition to the increasing amount of surveillance in Britain, 653 public bodies will be given access to the information, including police, local councils, the Financial Services Authority, the ambulance service, fire authorities and even prison governors. They will not require the permission of a judge or a magistrate to obtain the information, but simply the authorisation of a senior police officer or the equivalent of a deputy head of department at a local authority. The Government announced yesterday it was pressing ahead with privately held â€śBig Brotherâ€ť databases that opposition leaders said amounted to â€śstate-spyingâ€ť and a form of â€ścovert surveillanceâ€ť on the public. It is doing so despite its own consultation showing that it has little public support. The new rules ... will not only force communications companies to keep their records for longer, but to expand the type of data they keep to include details of every website their customers visit.
Note: For many more reports from major media sources on the disturbing trend toward increasing government and corporate surveillance and loss of privacy, click here.
A federal appeals court yesterday backed the president's power to indefinitely detain a U.S. citizen captured on U.S. soil without any criminal charges, holding that such authority is vital during wartime to protect the nation from terrorist attacks. The ruling, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, came in the case of Jose Padilla, a former gang member and U.S. citizen arrested in Chicago in 2002 and a month later designated an "enemy combatant" by President Bush. Padilla has been held without trial in a U.S. naval brig for more than three years, and his case has ignited a fierce battle over the balance between civil liberties and the government's power to fight terrorism since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. A host of civil liberties groups and former attorney general Janet Reno weighed in on Padilla's behalf, calling his detention illegal and arguing that the president does not have unchecked power to lock up U.S. citizens indefinitely. In its ruling yesterday, the three-judge panel overturned a lower court. Avidan Cover, a senior associate at Human Rights First, said the ruling "really flies in the face of our understanding of what rights American citizens are entitled to." Opponents have warned that if not constrained by the courts, Padilla's detention could lead to the military being allowed to hold anyone who, for example, checks out what the government considers the wrong kind of reading materials from the library.
Note: For many disturbing reports from major media sources on government threats to civil liberties, click here.
Recent pronouncements from the Bush Administration and national security initiatives put in place in the Reagan era could see internment camps and martial law in the United States. When president Ronald Reagan was considering invading Nicaragua he issued a series of executive orders that provided the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with broad powers in the event of a "crisis" such as "violent and widespread internal dissent or national opposition against a US military invasion abroad". On July 20 the Detroit Free Press ran a story entitled "Arabs in US could be held, official warns". The story referred to a member of the US Civil Rights Commission who foresaw the possibility of internment camps for Arab Americans. FEMA has practised for such an occasion. FEMA, whose main role is disaster response, is also responsible for handling US domestic unrest. From 1982-84 Colonel Oliver North assisted FEMA in drafting its civil defence preparations. They included executive orders providing for suspension of the constitution, the imposition of martial law, internment camps, and the turning over of government to the president and FEMA. A Miami Herald article on July 5, 1987, reported that the former FEMA director Louis Guiffrida's deputy, John Brinkerhoff, handled the martial law portion of the planning. Today Mr Brinkerhoff is with the highly influential Anser Institute for Homeland Security.
Note: Most of these provisions are still in place today. Isn't it time for a change?
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.