Illegal Search, Seizure, Imprisonment
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Tranquilino Castañeda is surrounded by his son, Oscar, top right, and grandchildren after arriving from Guatemala at Newark Liberty International Airport on May 28, 2012. (Torsten Kjellstrand for ProPublica) His first trip on a plane. His first visit to the United States. And the first time that he would see his son, Oscar Alfredo Ramírez Castañeda, in person after almost three decades during which he thought Oscar had died in a massacre in Guatemala. "I was very anxious last night," Castañeda said Monday evening after disembarking at Newark Liberty International Airport in his trademark white cowboy hat.
A judge gives life to an extraordinary new law designed to remedy the state's long history of prejudice in capital trials. The execution chamber at Central prison in Raleigh, N.C / AP If we still want to have a sound and sober national conversation about race and justice, if we still are eager to use a single case as a totem for what we perceive to be wrong or unjust about the criminal justice system, perhaps we all would be better served by paying attention to what's happening in North Carolina to a man named Marcus Robinson than we are by paying attention to what's happening in Florida to a man named George Zimmerman. State "Stand Your Ground" self-defense laws, like the one about to save Zimmerman , may be today's fashionable example of a way in which the law is manipulated to achieve a particular result (by design , these ALEC-infused "affirmative defenses" allow more people to kill more people without being punished for it).
Bruce Schneier commented this morning on the Government Accounting Office's assessment of the TSA's "behavior detection" program, which is like the pick-up artist movement for creepy security agencies. Behavioral detection is a mishmash of pseudoscience, woo-y stuff like neurolinguistic programming, wishful thinking and witch-hunting that holds that you can train squadrons of jumped-up mall-cops to be mind-reading anti-terror ninjas who can look into your eyes and know whether you're a bad guy. Bruce's post was so great that I just emailed him and said, "Hey, rather than trying to summarize what you wrote, can I just republish it?"
Omer Petti is a 95-year-old USAF veteran with artificial knees and a heart condition. Madge Woodward, his partner, has an artificial hip. They recently flew home to Detroit from San Diego, and were humiliated and robbed at the San Diego airport TSA checkpoint. The metal in their bodies set off the TSA magnetometer, and Petti was instructed to put his $300 in cash in a bin.
NERMEEN SHAIKH : We want to talk about FBI surveillance today. Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union released records showing the FBI’s San Francisco division collected information on Muslim religious activities protected by the Constitution. The FBI is banned by law from keeping records on people’s religious practices unless there’s a clear law enforcement purpose. But the ACLU said documents show the FBI violated that law by using so-called "community outreach" to procure and store information about religious beliefs, practices and otherwise innocent activities of Muslim community members. AMY GOODMAN : This is just the latest revelation in a long string of surveillance tactics used by the FBI and other agencies to monitor Muslims post-9/11. The ACLU is now calling on the inspector general to launch an investigation into the violation of the Privacy Act.
A groundbreaking report released this morning provides a roadmap for the closure of the notorious and violence-plagued Men's Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles. If the report's major recommendations are implemented, it could well lead to a major shift in criminal justice policy and practice — not only in Los Angeles but across the nation. (Pictured above: Dr.
Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom and his co-defendants scored a significant victory on Tuesday when a New Zealand judge ordered the United States government to hand over evidence the defense will need to prepare for an upcoming extradition hearing. He rejected the government's argument that the defendants should make do with the information about its case the government itself chose to introduce in court. The judge's comments in the 81-page decision, which was provided to Ars Technica by Dotcom attorney Ira Rothken, suggest that he is conscious of Dotcom's trying circumstances and the unusual nature of the case against him. "Actions by and on behalf of the requesting State have deprived Mr. Dotcom and his associates of access to records and information," wrote Judge David Harvey, alluding to the fact that dozens of hard drives were taken from the Dotcom mansion during the January raid and have not been returned.
Last Sunday, a military tribunal acquitted a former army doctor accused of conducting so-called "virginity tests" on a number of women detained by the military last year. The case was brought by Samira Ibrahim, a 25-year-old marketing manager who was among scores of people arrested during a violent army crackdown on a protest in Tahrir Square on 9 March, 2011. Ibrahim was held for four days in a military prison along with a number of other women. Soldiers beat them, gave them electric shocks and subjected them to strip searches before forcing seven of them to undergo "virginity tests."
JUAN GONZALEZ : Today we bring you a Democracy Now! special on the growing domestic surveillance state and the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to spy on dissident journalists and activists. In a national broadcast exclusive, we’re joined by National Security Agency whistleblower William Binney. He was a key source for James Bamford’s recent [ exposé ] in Wired Magazine about the NSA—how the NSA is quietly building the largest spy center in the country in Bluffdale, Utah. The Utah spy center will contain nearly bottomless databases to store all forms of communication collected by the agency, including private emails, cellphone calls and Google searches and other personal data. Binney served in the NSA for over 30 years, including a time as director of the NSA’s World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group.
Someone You Love: Coming to a Gulag Near You Posted on Apr 2, 2012 By Chris Hedges The security and surveillance state does not deal in nuance or ambiguity.
The Polite Conference Rooms Where Liberties Are Saved and Lost Posted on Mar 26, 2012 By Chris Hedges I spent four hours in a third-floor conference room at 86 Chambers St. in Manhattan on Friday as I underwent a government deposition. Benjamin H. Torrance, an assistant U.S. attorney, carried out the questioning as part of the government’s effort to decide whether it will challenge my standing as a plaintiff in the lawsuit I have brought with others against President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta over the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), also known as the Homeland Battlefield Bill.
A Victory for All of Us Posted on May 18, 2012 By Chris Hedges In January, attorneys Carl Mayer and Bruce Afran asked me to be the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that challenged the harsh provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). We filed the lawsuit, worked for hours on the affidavits, carried out the tedious depositions, prepared the case and went to trial because we did not want to be passive in the face of another egregious assault on basic civil liberties, because resistance is a moral imperative, and because, at the very least, we hoped we could draw attention to the injustice of the law.
First They Come for the Muslims Posted on Apr 16, 2012 By Chris Hedges
Political consultant Naomi Wolf speaks at a news conference in New York last month announcing a lawsuit against indefinite detention provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act. Photograph: viewpress Vp/Demotix/Corbis Freedom for most people is something sacred, and many have been willing to sacrifice their lives for it. It is not just another word, for we measure the health of our democracies by the standard of freedom. We use it to measure our happiness and prosperity.
Life inside North Korea's Camp 14 so twisted 13-year-old Shin In Geun that he betrayed his mother and only brother. A North Korean soldier patrols inside the fence of a prison camp near the Chinese border / AP Nine years after watching his mother's hanging, Shin In Geun squirmed through the electric fence that surrounds Camp 14 and ran off through the snow into the North Korean wilderness. It was January 2, 2005.