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Justice Article Archive for 2013

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Eric Holder Criticized On Anniversary Of Aaron Swartz Death
by Martin Sledge
Posted Jan 11, 2013

prosecutorial overreachMembers of the House and Senate are pressing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to answer questions about the "aggressive" prosecution and "tragic" death of internet activist Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide a year ago Saturday while facing federal hacking charges.

Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), and U.S. Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) sent Holder a letter Friday, following up on an initial request for answers about the prosecution that Cornyn sent a year ago.

"We regret that the information your Department has provided to date has not been satisfactory -- among other things, it painted a picture of prosecutors unwilling or unable to weigh what charges to pursue against a defendant, something which you have instructed federal prosecutors is 'among [their] most fundamental duties,'" they wrote. More...

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In Jail For Being In Debt
by Chris Serres and Glenn Howatt
Posted Dec 23, 2013

return of debtor prisonsIt's not a crime to owe money, and debtors' prisons were abolished in the United States in the 19th century. But people are routinely being thrown in jail for failing to pay debts. In Minnesota, which has some of the most creditor-friendly laws in the country, the use of arrest warrants against debtors has jumped 60 percent over the past four years, with 845 cases in 2009, a Star Tribune analysis of state court data has found.

In Minnesota, judges have issued arrest warrants for people who owe as little as $85 -- less than half the cost of housing an inmate overnight. Debtors targeted for arrest owed a median of $3,512 in 2009, up from $2,201 five years ago. Those jailed for debts may be the least able to pay. More...

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The Detroit "Bankruptcy" Distracts from Attack on Constitution: The Unelected "Czar of Detroit"
By William Boardman
Posted Dec 16, 2013

Michigan rule by decreeIn a federal lawsuit filed March 27 in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit), the original 22 plaintiffs argue that Michigan's czar law is unconstitutional in a variety of ways, including violation of their constitutional rights to equal protection, republican form of government, free speech, and ability to petition their government. Plaintiffs' attorneys include lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights. Before this lawsuit could resolve any constitutional issues, it was stayed by the Detroit czar's bankruptcy filing in July. In November, bankruptcy judge Rhodes ruled that the constitutional challenge lawsuit can go forward, after the parties agreed that the case would not seek to remove the Detroit czar.

In other words, it is one of the oddities of the priorities of federal law, as currently enforced in Michigan, that issues of municipal debt are given more importance than issues of the constitutionality of laws by which those debts will be adjudicated. More...

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Banker Jail Sentences: Another Lesson For The World From Iceland
by Tyler Durden
Posted Dec 13, 2013

banhers should go to jailInstead of kicking the can and maintaining the zombie nation, Iceland ripped its over-levered bank-based-debacle band-aid off and has slowly but surely emerged from its own crisis (notwithstanding capital controls and pain for many) unlike the rest of the Western world which has reverted to the mean of ignorance and status quo. Now, however, The Guardian reports Iceland has one more lesson to teach the world - an Icelandic court has sentenced four former Kaupthing bankers to jail for market abuses.

Instead of fining the banks (in nothing more than a cost-of-doing-business line item), there are real consequences for the actors involved. More...

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Legal Framework for Big Banks Puts Depositors at Risk
By Steve Seuser
Posted Nov 30, 2013

legal theft of depositsThis article documents the legal framework for too-big-to-fail banks and other banks with derivative investments that put their depositors at high risk in the event of bankruptcy. It is intended to assist District of Columbia elected officials, city administrators, other concerned stakeholders, and citizens to understand and respond to the legal framework that binds federal regulatory agencies and courts in the event of bank failures.

In the U.S. and Great Britain, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Bank of England in 2011 jointly published Resolving Globally Active, Systemically Important, Financial Institutions. This document provides the legal framework for seizing deposit accounts in failed banks and converting them to stock in the reconstituted bank in order to preserve the soundness of the bank. This background piece describes the legal position of depositors as unsecured creditors in bankruptcy. The FDIC's document also uses the terms "unsecured creditors" and "unsecured debt holders" to include depositors in the following statement (p. 8). More...

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A Brave Hacker Willing to Spend a Decade in Prison for Exposing the Workings of the Corporate State
by Chris Hedges
Posted Nov 23, 2013

government fears truthThe sentence was one of the longest in U.S. history for hacking and the maximum the judge could impose under a plea agreement in the case. It was wildly disproportionate to the crime—an act of nonviolent civil disobedience that championed the public good by exposing abuses of power by the government and a security firm. But the excessive sentence was the point. The corporate state, rapidly losing credibility and legitimacy, is lashing out like a wounded animal. It is frightened. It feels the heat from a rising flame of revolt. It is especially afraid of those such as Hammond who have the technical skills to break down electronic walls and expose the corrupt workings of power.

The sentencing converges with the state’s persecution of Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Barrett Brown, along with Glenn Greenwald, Jacob Appelbaum, Laura Poitras and Sarah Harrison, four investigative journalists who are now in self-imposed exile from the United States. And as the numbers of our political prisoners and exiled dissidents mount, there is the unmistakable stench of tyranny. More...

The sad irony is that Judge Preska called for "respect for the law", but she really needs to rethink whether the founding the founding fathers would have approved of the current corporate run state and a judiciary that obediently does the corporate bidding. This will only breed more disrespect, not respect for the law.

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Why Has Nobody Gone To Jail For The Financial Crisis? Judge Rakoff Says: "Blame The Government"
By Jed S. Rakoff - US District Judge
Posted Nov 14, 2013

bankers too big to jailThe Great Recession was in material part the product of intentional fraud, the failure to prosecute those responsible must be judged one of the more egregious failures of the criminal justice system in many years. Indeed, it would stand in striking contrast to the increased success that federal prosecutors have had over the past 50 years or so in bringing to justice even the highest level figures who orchestrated mammoth frauds. Thus, in the 1970's, in the aftermath of the "junk bond" bubble that, in many ways, was a precursor of the more recent bubble in mortgage-backed securities, the progenitors of the fraud were all successfully prosecuted, right up to Michael Milken. Again, in the 1980's, the so-called savings-and-loan crisis, which again had some eerie parallels to more recent events, resulted in the successful criminal prosecution of more than 800 individuals, right up to Charles Keating. And, again, the widespread accounting frauds of the 1990's, most vividly represented by Enron and WorldCom, led directly to the successful prosecution of such previously respected C.E.O.'s as Jeffrey Skilling and Bernie Ebbers.

In striking contrast with these past prosecutions, not a single high level executive has been successfully prosecuted in connection with the recent financial crisis, and given the fact that most of the relevant criminal provisions are governed by a five-year statute of limitations, it appears very likely that none will be. It may not be too soon, therefore, to ask why. More...

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Jury Nullification Last Refuge for Justice
by BATR
Posted Nov 9, 2013

prosecutorial abuseA society that ignores or downplays Liberty is a culture that has lost its purpose. In such a regime, the people are relegated to the whims of the State and every citizen is at risk of criminal prosecution. Imagine the most evil attorney, like John Milton from The Devil's Advocate movie, as a DA. The irony that the initials for a District Attorney are the same as the title of the script should not be lost. Al Pacino's Speech could be given in any courtroom by a zealot persecutor as a closing statement.

Charging God for the injustices of the world, by a government lawyer and equating the accused with such crimes, gives new meaning to John Milton's classic Paradise Lost. The justice system has little to do with dispensing righteous responsibility. What is the alternative to a kangaroo court of facilitator judges for lying state prosecutors? Historically, a verdict decided by jury is the greatest protection that any defendant can rely upon. More...

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Despite Eight Ongoing Criminal/Civil Investigations of JPMorgan,
the Bank's a Law Enforcement Partner With the NYPD

by Pam Martens
Posted Nov 6, 2013

Ray Kelly partenering with criminalsWhile most law enforcement bodies around the U.S. would instantly weed out serial wrongdoers as job hires, Bloomberg and Kelly have created an art form out of joint policing ventures with Wall Street, operating both a rent-a-cop program with Wall Street as well as pumping at least $150 million of taxpayer money into the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center where Wall Street employees sit elbow to elbow with NYPD officers.

Under some Orwellian concept of citizen surveillance, the very Wall Street banks that proved they were a far greater threat to the United States than any foreign terrorist when they collapsed the Nation's financial system in 2008, are part of a joint venture with the NYPD to use high-tech spy equipment to monitor the comings and goings of citizens in the streets of Manhattan – the majority of which, unlike Wall Street, are law abiding citizens. More...

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Supreme Court's Choice: Plutocracy or Democracy
By Robert Weissman
Posted October 13, 2013

Supreme court rto decide fate of nationPlutocracy or democracy; the rich or the rest of us; legalized bribery or law and order; corruption or common sense.The choice facing the U.S. Supreme Court today in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission could not be clearer.

If the court decides to strike down limits on what an individual can give directly to candidates, parties and PACs, the real-world impact is plain enough. A few hundred people will be empowered to spend millions to buy elections. We will see a rise in corruption both as the public understands the term – meaning the entire political system will shift still more to favor the super-rich – and as the Supreme Court defines it – meaning quid pro quo corruption. More...

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As F.B.I. Pursued Snowden, an E-Mail Service Stood Firm
By Nicole Perlroth and Scott Shane
Posted October 5, 2013

FBI overreachProsecutors were pursuing a notable user of Lavabit, Mr. Levison's secure e-mail service: Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked classified documents that have put the intelligence agency under sharp scrutiny. Mr. Levison was willing to allow investigators with a court order to tap Mr. Snowden's e-mail account; he had complied with similar narrowly targeted requests involving other customers about two dozen times.

But they wanted more, he said: the passwords, encryption keys and computer code that would essentially allow the government untrammeled access to the protected messages of all his customers. That, he said, was too much.

"You don't need to bug an entire city to bug one guy's phone calls," Mr. Levison, 32, said in a recent interview. "In my case, they wanted to break open the entire box just to get to one connection." More...

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New Study Finds That State Crime Labs Are Paid Per Conviction
By Radley Balko
Posted September 28, 2013

financial incentives to convict?In a new paper for the journal Criminal Justice Ethics, Roger Koppl and Meghan Sacks look at how the criminal justice system actually incentivizes wrongful convictions. In their section on state crime labs, they discover some astonishing new information about how many of these labs are funded.

Funding crime labs through court-assessed fees creates another channel for bias to enter crime lab analyses. In jurisdictions with this practice the crime lab receives a sum of money for each conviction of a given type. Ray Wickenheiser says, ''Collection of court costs is the only stable source of funding for the Acadiana Crime Lab. $10 is received for each guilty plea or verdict from each speeding ticket, and $50 from each DWI (Driving While Impaired) and drug offense.''

Think about how these fee structures play out in the day-to-day work in these labs. Every analyst knows that a test result implicating a suspect will result in a fee paid to the lab. Every result that clears a suspect means no fee. They're literally being paid to provide the analysis to win convictions. Their findings are then presented to juries as the careful, meticulous work of an objective scientist. More...

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When Posting a Website Link is a Crime
By Alfredo Lopez
Posted September 20, 2013

What has he done wrong?In 2011, Barrett Brown began examining a selection of about five million documents Wikileaks published involving a security company called Stratfor Global Intelligence. The emails had all kinds of information, including the names, addresses and credit card numbers of people with whom Stratfor was involved. But that was a small percentage of the material and Brown appears to have ignored it. What caught his interest, and what comprised most of the files, were documents and emails that reveal a very close and inappropriate relationship between Stratfor, several other security contractors and several agencies of the government (including the NSA).

In total, Brown is facing 105 years if convicted of the 17 charges against him. There are many questions raised by this case, all summarized with one question: "what exactly did this guy do wrong?". More...

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The Sentinel Case – Another Nail in the Coffin of 'Market Confidence'
by Pater Tenebrarum
Posted September 9, 2013

financial fraudThe failed futures brokerage Sentinel Management Group lost the money of its clients in when it went into bankruptcy in 2007. According to the SEC, the firm misappropriated the funds belonging to its clients.

Since then, creditors of the company have been fighting over who has title to certain assets. On the one side are the customers of Sentinel, whose funds and accounts were supposed to have been segregated from the company's assets. On the other side there is New York Mellon Bank, which lent Sentinel $312 million that were secured with collateral mainly consisting of said – allegedly 'segregated' – customer funds.

Legal questions aside, one thing is already certain: customers of futures brokerages can no longer have faith that their assets are in any way segregated or protected. Whatever residual hope there was left that things may still come right after the MF Global case is surely completely destroyed by the outcome of the Sentinel case. More...

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The Last Chance to Stop the NDAA
by Chris Hedges
Posted September 5, 2013

Obama's kangaroo courtI and my fellow plaintiffs have begun the third and final round of our battle to get the courts to strike down a section of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that permits the military to seize U.S. citizens, strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in military facilities. Carl Mayer and Bruce Afran, the lawyers who with me in January 2012 brought a lawsuit against President Barack Obama (Hedges v. Obama), are about to file papers asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear our appeal of a 2013 ruling on the act's Section 1021.

"First the terrorism-industrial complex assured Americans that they were only spying on foreigners, not U.S. citizens," Mayer said to me recently. "Then they assured us that they were only spying on phone calls, not electronic communications. Then they assured us that they were not spying on American journalists. And now both [major political] parties and the Obama administration have assured us that they will not detain journalists, citizens and activists. Well, they detained journalist Chris Hedges without a lawyer, they detained journalist Laura Poitras without due process and if allowed to stand this law will permit the military to target activists, journalists and citizens in an unprecedented assault on freedom in America." More...

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The Sentinel Case – Another Nail in the Coffin of 'Market Confidence'
by Pater Tenebrarum
Posted September 3, 2013

Sentinel Management GroupThe failed futures brokerage Sentinel Management Group lost the money of its clients in when it went into bankruptcy in 2007. According to the SEC, the firm misappropriated the funds belonging to its clients.

Since then, creditors of the company have been fighting over who has title to certain assets. On the one side are the customers of Sentinel, whose funds and accounts were supposed to have been segregated from the company's assets. On the other side there is New York Mellon Bank, which lent Sentinel $312 million that were secured with collateral mainly consisting of said – allegedly 'segregated' – customer funds.

Legal questions aside, one thing is already certain: customers of futures brokerages can no longer have faith that their assets are in any way segregated or protected. Whatever residual hope there was left that things may still come right after the MF Global case is surely completely destroyed by the outcome of the Sentinel case. More...

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The 11 Most Bizarre SWAT Team Raids
By Jodie Gummow
Posted August 25, 2013

militarized policeThe proliferation of SWAT team raids has resulted in a string of outlandish incidents. Last week, AlterNet reported on the wrongful police raid of an organic farm suspected of growing marijuana in Arlington, Texas. The massive SWAT team raid lasted for more than 10 hours and resulted in the seizure of vegetables and flowers—but no marijuana was found on the premises.

This is not the first time police have used paramilitary tactics to raid people's properties to enforce regulatory laws in the absence of any justifiable threat of harm. Here's a list of the most outlandish SWAT team raids across the county. More...

Police are trained and are supposed to protect and serve, while the military is trained to kill. The militarization of our police forces is incompatible with the mission of protect and serve.

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Why the JPMorgan Criminal Case Matters to You
by Shah Gilani
Posted August 20, 2013

JP Morgan ChaseSomething very important is going to come out of these new criminal charges just filed against two ex-JPMorgan traders… at least, I hope it does.

It's not about who did what to contribute to the London Whale's billions in losses. Frankly, who did what in this case is worthless news, unimportant, and a sideshow. Of course, the public will be riveted all the same, and prosecutors can't wait to ascend their microphoned podium and tell the world, "We got the banksters."

But I don't think they will be found guilty. If they are found guilty, it will be because prosecutors prove "intent" and blur the technicalities, which will be mindboggling. More...

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NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times per year: Report
by Eric Beech (Reuters)
Posted August 16, 2013

NSA broke rules and liedThe National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since 2008, the Washington Post reported on Thursday, citing an internal audit and other top-secret documents.

Most of the infractions involved unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by law and executive order, the paper said. The Post said the documents it obtained were part of a trove of materials provided to the paper by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who has been charged by the United States with espionage. He was granted asylum in Russia earlier this month. More...

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Seven Things You Wanted to Know About Prosecuting Wall Street
by Richard Eskow
Posted August 11, 2013

Obama/Holder will not prosecute Wall StPresident Obama's Justice Department, under the direction of Attorney General Eric Holder, hasn't indicted a single bank executive for the massive Wall Street crime wave that devastated the economy. The regulatory reform that followed the 2008 crisis wasn't nearly enough, and yet Republicans are trying to weaken even that. And just this week there were several news stories about bank crime. What do they mean? Why haven't any bankers gone to jail? What's going on in this country?

Here are seven things about Wall Street crime and Washington "justice" you might have wanted to know, but were probably too depressed to ask. It's true that there's a shortage of justice where bankers are concerned. But don't get depressed. Get serious – about demanding change. More...

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Shot to Death by Police for Betting on a Football Game? The Rise of Paramilitary Force in America
by Radley Balko
Posted August 12, 2013

police stateSal Culosi is dead because he bet on a football game — but it wasn't a bookie or a loan shark who killed him. His local government killed him, ostensibly to protect him from his gambling habit.

Several months earlier at a local bar, Fairfax County, Virginia, detective David Baucum overheard the thirty-eight-year-old optometrist and some friends wagering on a college football game. "To Sal, betting a few bills on the Redskins was a stress reliever, done among friends," a friend of Culosi's told me shortly after his death. "None of us single, successful professionals ever thought that betting fifty bucks or so on the Virginia–Virginia Tech football game was a crime worthy of investigation." Baucum apparently did.

After overhearing the men wagering, Baucum befriended Culosi as a cover to begin investigating him. During the next several months, he talked Culosi into raising the stakes of what Culosi thought were just more fun wagers between friends to make watching sports more interesting. Eventually Culosi and Baucum bet more than $2,000 in a single day. Under Virginia law, that was enough for police to charge Culosi with running a gambling operation. And that's when they brought in the SWAT team. More...

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Philadelphia Sues Big Banks Over Swaps Losses
by Harold Brubaker
Posted July 31, 2013

Philadelphia sues big banksPhiladelphia has joined the ranks of municipalities suing some of the world's biggest banks for losses caused by the alleged manipulation of a benchmark interest rate during and after the financial crisis.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in federal court in Philadelphia, does not specify damages, but it disclosed that the city paid $109.6 million in recent years to end financial contracts with the banks that were designed to cut borrowing costs but backfired when interest rates fell instead of rising as expected.

The interest rate at the core of the complaint is the London Interbank Offered Rate, known as Libor, which is used throughout the world to set interest rates for many forms of debt, including consumer credit cards. More...

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The Business of Mass Incarceration
by Chris Hedges
Posted July 30, 2013

Prison Industrial-ComplexThe intrusion of corporations and private contractors into the prison system is a legacy of the Clinton administration. President Bill Clinton's omnibus crime bill provided $30 billion to expand the prison system, including $10 billion to build prisons. The bill expanded from two to 58 the number of federal crimes for which the death penalty can be administered. It eliminated a ban on the execution of the mentally impaired. The bill gave us the "three-strikes" laws that mandate life sentences for anyone convicted of three "violent" felonies. It set up the tracking of sex offenders. It allowed the courts to try children as young as 13 as adults. It created special courts to deport noncitizens alleged to be "engaged in terrorist activity" and authorized the use of secret evidence. The prison population under Clinton swelled from 1.4 million to 2 million.

Incarceration has become a very lucrative business for an array of private contractors, most of whom send lobbyists to Washington to make sure the laws and legislation continue to funnel a steady supply of poor people into the prison complex. These private contractors, taking public money, build the prisons, provide food service, hire guards and run and administer detention facilities. It is imperative to their profits that there be a steady supply of new bodies. More...

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NSA Says It Can't Read Its Own Emails
by Justin Elliot
Posted July 26, 2013

NSA can't read its own emails?The NSA is a "supercomputing powerhouse" with machines so powerful their speed is measured in thousands of trillions of operations per second. The agency turns its giant machine brains to the task of sifting through unimaginably large troves of data its surveillance programs capture.

But ask the NSA, as part of a freedom of information request, to do a seemingly simple search of its own employees' email? The agency says it doesn't have the technology.

"There's no central method to search an email at this time with the way our records are set up, unfortunately," NSA Freedom of Information Act officer Cindy Blacker told me last week. More...

Does Cindy Blacker have any idea of just how absurd her statement sounds?

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Feds put heat on Web firms for master encryption keys
by Declan McCullagh
Posted July 25, 2013

master keys to InternetWhether the FBI and NSA have the legal authority to obtain the master keys that companies use for Web encryption remains an open question, but it hasn't stopped the U.S. government from trying.

The U.S. government has attempted to obtain the master encryption keys that Internet companies use to shield millions of users' private Web communications from eavesdropping. These demands for master encryption keys, which have not been disclosed previously, represent a technological escalation in the clandestine methods that the FBI and the National Security Agency employ when conducting electronic surveillance against Internet users.

If the government obtains a company's master encryption key, agents could decrypt the contents of communications intercepted through a wiretap or by invoking the potent surveillance authorities of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Web encryption -- which often appears in a browser with a HTTPS lock icon when enabled -- uses a technique called SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer. More...

With the master encreyption keys in their possession, how long do you think it will take before someone working for a contractor or the NSA itself "harvests" confidential data and then sells it for a profit? This data could be your medical records, your bank login, your company's data, or your emails.

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Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Renews Authority to Collect Telephony Metadata
Government Document
Posted July 22, 2013

Nothing to hideAs indicated by a previously classified court order disclosed by the media on June 5, 2013, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court authorization requiring the production of certain telephony metadata under the "business records" provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), 50 U.S.C. Section 1861, expires on July 19, 2013.

On June 6, 2013, the Director of National Intelligence declassified certain information about this telephony metadata collection program in order to provide the public with a more thorough and balanced understanding of the program. More...

Looks like the "secret" court has issued another order renewing a warrant for the government to spy on all citizens irregardless of whether they have committed a crime, are suspects in a crime, or any other "reasonable" criteria. So much for privacy and freedom in the "land of the free".

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NSA Phone Snooping Cannot Be Challenged in Court, Feds Say
by David Kravets
Posted July 21, 2013

No challenges allowedThe Obama administration for the first time responded to a Spygate lawsuit, telling a federal judge the wholesale vacuuming up of all phone-call metadata in the United States is in the "public interest," does not breach the constitutional rights of Americans and cannot be challenged in a court of law.

Thursday's response marks the first time the administration has officially answered one of at least four lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of a secret U.S. snooping program the Guardian newspaper disclosed last month. The administration's filing sets the stage for what is to be a lengthy legal odyssey — one likely to outlive the Obama presidency — that will define the privacy rights of Americans for years to come.

The New York federal district court lawsuit, brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, demands a federal judge immediately halt the spy program the civil rights group labeled as "one of the largest surveillance efforts ever launched by a democratic government." More...

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NSA warned to rein in surveillance as agency reveals even greater scope
by Spencer Ackerman
Posted July 18, 2013

NSA hearingThe National Security Agency revealed to an angry congressional panel on Wednesday that its analysis of phone records and online behavior goes exponentially beyond what it had previously disclosed. John C Inglis, the deputy director of the surveillance agency, told a member of the House judiciary committee that NSA analysts can perform "a second or third hop query" through its collections of telephone data and internet records in order to find connections to terrorist organizations.

"Hops" refers to a technical term indicating connections between people. A three-hop query means that the NSA can look at data not only from a suspected terrorist, but from everyone that suspect communicated with, and then from everyone those people communicated with, and then from everyone all of those people communicated with. Inglis did not elaborate, nor did the members of the House panel – many of whom expressed concern and even anger at the NSA – explore the legal and privacy implications of the breadth of "three-hop" analysis. More...

A three-hop query from a single terrorist can cover the entire population of the US assuming an average person knows about 700 people (works out to 343 million). If we assume there are 25 terrorists in this world, the NSA can then cover the entire population of the world. It also explains why the NSA stopped at a three-hop query instead of proceeding to four-hop queries.

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Surveillance Blowback
by Alfred W. McCoy and Tom Dispatch
Posted July 16, 2013

surveillanceThe American surveillance state is now an omnipresent reality, but its deep history is little known and its future little grasped. Edward Snowden's leaked documents reveal that, in a post-9/11 state of war, the National Security Agency (NSA) was able to create a surveillance system that could secretly monitor the private communications of almost every American in the name of fighting foreign terrorists. The technology used is state of the art; the impulse, it turns out, is nothing new. For well over a century, what might be called "surveillance blowback" from America's wars has ensured the creation of an ever more massive and omnipresent internal security and surveillance apparatus. Its future (though not ours) looks bright indeed.

Instead of curtailing his predecessor's wartime surveillance, as Republicans did in the 1920s and Democrats in the 1970s, President Obama has overseen the expansion of the NSA's wartime digital operations into a permanent weapon for the exercise of U.S. global power. More...

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In 'Chilling' Ruling, Chevron Granted Access to Activists' Private Internet Data
by Lauren McCauley
Posted July 15, 2013

Chevron crimes"Sweeping" subpoena violates rights of those who spoke out against oil giant's devastating actions in Ecuador. The US government is not the only entity who, with judicial approval, is amassing massive amounts of personal information against their so-called enemies. A federal judge has ruled to allow Chevron, through a subpoena to Microsoft, to collect the IP usage records and identity information for email accounts owned by over 100 environmental activists, journalists and attorneys.

The oil giant is demanding the records in an attempt to cull together a lawsuit which alleges that the company was the victim of a conspiracy in the $18.2 billion judgment against it for dumping 18.5 billion gallons of oil waste in the Ecuadorean Amazon, causing untold damage to the rainforest. The "sweeping" subpoena was one of three issued to Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft. More...

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How Microsoft handed the NSA access to encrypted messages
by Glenn Greenwald
Posted July 14, 2013

Microsoft spyingMicrosoft has collaborated closely with US intelligence services to allow users' communications to be intercepted, including helping the National Security Agency to circumvent the company's own encryption, according to top-secret documents obtained by the Guardian.

The files provided by Edward Snowden illustrate the scale of co-operation between Silicon Valley and the intelligence agencies over the last three years. They also shed new light on the workings of the top-secret Prism program, which was disclosed by the Guardian and the Washington Post last month. More...

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Encroachment upon Basic Freedoms, Militarized Police State in America
By Frank Morales
Posted July 8, 2013


militarized policeThe American people have been subject to a series of deeper and deeper encroachments upon our basic freedoms, increasingly extensive deployment of military operations on the home front, perpetrated by a corporate driven military mission creep that now claims the right and duty to arrest and detain us on the word of a Pentagon or White House operative. President Obama’s signing of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) whose Section 1021 sanctions the military detention of American citizens without charge, essentially aims to put the last nail in the coffin of our Constitution, our teetering Republic and our most basic democratic traditions.

The statute contains a sweeping worldwide indefinite detention provision. While President Obama issued a signing statement saying he had “serious reservations” about the provisions, the statement only applies to how his administration (“you can trust me”) would use the authorities granted by the NDAA, and would not affect how the law is interpreted by subsequent administrations. The White House had threatened to veto an earlier version of the NDAA, but reversed course (of course) shortly before Congress voted on the final bill, which the President signed on the 31st of December 2011, a day that will go down in infamy. More...

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Snowden asylum in Ecuador dead - the intrigue
by Michael Collins
Posted July 4, 2013

Snowden heroEcuador is not considering Edward Snowden's asylum request and never intended to facilitate his flight from Hong Kong, president Rafael Correa said as the whistleblower made a personal plea to Quito for his case to be heard.

Snowden was Russia's responsibility and would have to reach Ecuadorean territory before the country would consider any asylum request, the president said in an interview with the Guardian on Monday.

"Are we responsible for getting him to Ecuador? It's not logical. The country that has to give him a safe conduct document is Russia." More...

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Is NSA Blackmail Inc. for the U.S. Military Industrial Complex?
by Toby Connor
Posted July 3, 2013

blackmail From Russ Tice, former intelligence analyst with 20 years of experience at NSA, the US Air Force, the Office of Naval Intelligence, and the Defense Intelligence Agency, in a June 2013 interview with Boiling Frogs:

"They [NSA] went after [spied on] – and I know this because I had my hands literally on the paperwork for these sort of things – they went after high-ranking military officers; they went after members of Congress, both Senate and the House, especially on the intelligence committees and on the armed services committees and some of the – and judicial…

"They went after lawyers and law firms. All kinds of – heaps of lawyers and law firms. They went after judges. One of the judges is now sitting on the Supreme Court that I had his wiretap information in my hand. Two are former FISA court judges. They went after State Department officials. They went after people in the executive service that were part of the White House – their own people.

"Here's the big one… this was in summer of 2004, one of the papers that I held in my hand was to wiretap a bunch of numbers associated with a 40-something-year-old wannabe senator for Illinois. You wouldn't happen to know where that guy lives right now would you? It's a big white house in Washington, D.C. That's who they went after, and that's the president of the United States now." More...

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This Really is Big Brother: The Leak Nobody's Noticed
by Heather Parton
Posted July 2, 2013

police state is watchingWhen the free free press, explicitly protected in the bill of rights becomes equivalent to an "enemy of the United States" something very, very bad is happening.The administration says it's doing this to protect national security and that it is willing to protect those who blow the whistle on waste, fraud and abuse. But that is not how the effect of this sort of program is going to be felt. After all, it's being implemented across the federal government, not just in national security.

This government paranoia and informant culture is about as corrosive to the idea of freedom as it gets. The workplace is already rife with petty jealousies, and singular ambition--- it's a human organization after all. Adding in this sort of incentive structure is pretty much setting up a system for intimidation and abuse. More...

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Take A Break From The Snowden Drama For A Reminder Of What He's Revealed So Far
by Andy Greenberg
Posted June 28, 2013

Orwellian NSA spyingA leaker as fascinating as Edward Snowden is his own worst enemy. The world has become so caught up in the suspense and intrigue of the Snowden Affair–practically a ready-made Robert Ludlum title–that it seems to have almost forgotten the massive National Security Agency surveillance controversy that he's risked his future to bring to light.

So now is as good a time as any to take an intermission from the drama and recall the real story: the biggest global privacy scandal of the decade. Here's a recap of Snowden's leaked documents published so far, in my own highly subjective order of importance. More...

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The Supreme Court Just Made It Easier for Big Business to Screw the Little Guy
by Stephanie Mencimer
Posted June 25, 2013

Corporate bulliesIn a little-known case called American Express v. Italian Colors Restaurant, the Supreme Court today issued yet another decision making it easier for big corporations to use their market power to screw over consumers and small businesses. Thursday's 5-3 decision affirmed the right of big corporations to use mandatory arbitration clauses in contracts to force small businesses to challenge monopolistic practices in private arbitration rather than through class actions in court. The case shows once again that the conservative majority, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, has no problem with judicial activism when it comes to bolstering corporate power.

Kagan was blunt: "If the arbitration clause is enforceable, Amex has insulated itself from antitrust liability—even if it has in fact violated the law. The monopolist gets to use its monopoly power to insist on a contract effectively depriving its victims of all legal recourse. And here is the nutshell version of today's opinion, admirably flaunted rather than camouflaged: Too darn bad." More...

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Revealed: the top secret rules that allow NSA to use US data without a warrant
by Glenn Greenwald and James Ball
Posted June 21, 2013

spying on AmericansTop secret documents submitted to the court that oversees surveillance by US intelligence agencies show the judges have signed off on broad orders which allow the NSA to make use of information "inadvertently" collected from domestic US communications without a warrant.

The Guardian is publishing in full two documents submitted to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (known as the Fisa court), signed by Attorney General Eric Holder and stamped 29 July 2009. They detail the procedures the NSA is required to follow to target "non-US persons" under its foreign intelligence powers and what the agency does to minimize data collected on US citizens and residents in the course of that surveillance.

The documents show that even under authorities governing the collection of foreign intelligence from foreign targets, US communications can still be collected, retained and used. More...

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The Whistleblower's Guide to the Orwellian Galaxy: How to Leak to the Press
by Nicholas Weaver
Posted June 19, 2013

orwellian nationWhile the list of government (and corporate) whistleblowers continues to grow, their options for leaking continue to shrink. It is, as one commenter noted, "a dangerous time to be right when the government is wrong." We now live in a world where public servants informing the public about government behavior or wrongdoing must practice the tradecraft of spies and drug dealers à la The Wire. Even the head of the CIA can't email his mistress without being identified by the FBI. And privately collected data isn't immune, either; highly sensitive metadata is particularly vulnerable thanks to the Third Party Doctrine.

So how can one safely leak information to the press, let alone coordinate a Deep Throat-style meetup? The obvious choices: email, phone, and mail … but you've got to be really careful. Here's a guide. More...

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What is the Real Reason the Government is Spying on Americans?
by Washington's Blog
Posted June 17, 2013

spying on usIf previous FEMA and FBI lists are any indication, the Main Core database includes dissidents and activists of various stripes, political and tax protesters, lawyers and professors, publishers and journalists, gun owners, illegal aliens, foreign nationals, and a great many other harmless, average people.

A veteran CIA intelligence analyst who maintains active high-level clearances and serves as an advisor to the Department of Defense in the field of emerging technology tells Radar that during the 2004 hospital room drama, [current nominee to head the FBI, and former Deputy Attorney General] James Comey expressed concern over how this secret database was being used "to accumulate otherwise private data on non-targeted U.S. citizens for use at a future time." [Snowden and high-level NSA whistleblower William Binney have since confirmed this] …. A source regularly briefed by people inside the intelligence community adds: "Comey had discovered that President Bush had authorized NSA to use a highly classified and compartmentalized Continuity of Government database on Americans in computerized searches of its domestic intercepts. [Comey] had concluded that the use of that 'Main Core' database compromised the legality of the overall NSA domestic surveillance project." More...

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The Shocking Story Behind "News Feed Trading"
by Shah Gilani
Posted June 16, 2013

insider tradingFor a "Fistful of Dollars," what you get is a few seconds head start on knowing some very important economic data points. It's amazing what money can buy.

Forget integrity, it's not for sale because it's out of stock. But if you want to buy the University of Michigan's highly regarded and market-moving report on consumer confidence, you can get it, right alongside the "investors" like the HFT boys and girls who pay the University to get the numbers two seconds before the rest of the world sees them. Or you can pony up next to the same crowd that buys the Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index numbers before the world sees them.

It's not insider trading. It's totally legal. More...

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Government Says Secret Court Opinion on Law Underlying PRISM Program Needs to Stay Secret
By Mark Rumold and David Sobel
Posted June 15, 2013

can you believe this crap?In a rare public filing in the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), the Justice Department today urged continued secrecy for a 2011 FISC opinion that found the National Security Agency's surveillance under the FISA Amendments Act to be unconstitutional. Significantly, the surveillance at issue was carried out under the same controversial legal authority that underlies the NSA's recently-revealed PRISM program.

EFF filed a suit under the Freedom of Information Act in August 2012, seeking disclosure of the FISC ruling. Sens. Ron Wyden and Mark Udall revealed the existence of the opinion, which found that collection activities under FISA Section 702 "circumvented the spirit of the law" and violated the Fourth Amendment's prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. But, at the time, the Senators were not permitted to discuss the details publicly. Section 702 has taken on new importance this week, as it appears to form the basis for the extensive PRISM surveillance program reported recently in the Guardian and the Washington Post. More...

I just want to get this straight........ a secret court rules that the secret surveillance was illegal, but the government wants the secret ruling of the secret court to stay secret. We just sink deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole.

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The Essence of DNA Identity
by BATR
Posted June 14, 2013

DNA testing for everyoneDo you intrinsically possess individual privacy rights, based upon natural law authority, or are your civil liberties arbitrarily defined by the current whims of government? How you answer, this question speaks loudly about your understanding of the nature of your very being. Those who deem that natural law is a myth or a superstition are poised for voluntary surrender of their vital identity. The cataloging of individual essence is aberrant. Your deoxyribonucleic acid is the core element of personal uniqueness and human dignity. If your DNA is subject to government collection and storage, the right of personal privacy is destroyed.

The dramatic proliferation of coercive police powers has little correlation to an improvement in public safety. The precedent that convicted criminals lose constitutional rights has gone virtually unchallenged in a society enamored with obedience to state authority. The practice of the law and the judicial review that provides the arbitrary and capricious rulings that incessantly favors the expansion of a greater level of state control, consistently violates common law and inherent principles. More...

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The Judicial Lynching of Bradley Manning
By Chris Hedges
Posted June 13, 2013

Judicial lynching victimThe military trial of Bradley Manning is a judicial lynching. The government has effectively muzzled the defense team. The Army private first class is not permitted to argue that he had a moral and legal obligation under international law to make public the war crimes he uncovered.

The documents that detail the crimes, torture and killing Manning revealed, because they are classified, have been barred from discussion in court, effectively removing the fundamental issue of war crimes from the trial. Manning is forbidden by the court to challenge the government's unverified assertion that he harmed national security.

Manning is unable to appeal to the Nuremberg principles, a set of guidelines created by the International Law Commission of the United Nations after World War II to determine what constitutes a war crime. The principles make political leaders, commanders and combatants responsible for war crimes, even if domestic or internal laws allow such actions. The Nuremberg principles are designed to protect those, like Manning, who expose these crimes. More...

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'Beyond Orwellian': Outrage Follows Revelations of Vast Domestic Spying Program
by Jon Queally
Posted June 10, 2013

spying on all AmericansThis FISA court order is the 'broadest surveillance order ever issued' against private citizens. As government officials and Verizon itself responded to the Guardian's NSA domestic spying story throughout the day, concern over the program's scope and implications only deepened among its army of critics.

Responding to the news report, Sen. Diane Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, acknowledged that she has been well aware of the NSA's collecting of vast amounts of personal phone record data, but said the practice was totally "legal."

Verizon acknowledged the program as well, but said the order gave it no choice but to comply.

The only thing of concern to Sen. Feinstein, who demanded an investigation into the source of the leak, seemed to be finding the individual who passed the FISA Court order to the Guardian in the first place. More...

The entire system is upside down. Our government totally ignores the constitution and essentially does the electronic equivalent of placing an FBI agent at the door of each home of every person in the nation. Instead of investigating the criminals who were party to this, the government is going after the whistle blower, AGAIN.

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We're Being Watched: How Corporations and Law Enforcement Are Spying on Environmentalists
by Adam Federman
Posted June 1, 2013

corporate infiltrationAccording to a report in The Nation, the agricultural giant Monsanto contracted with a subsidiary of Blackwater, the private security firm, to gather intelligence on and possibly infiltrate environmental groups in order to protect the company's brand name. "This is the new normal," says Scott Crow, an author and longtime environmental activist who was the subject of FBI and corporate surveillance for close to eight years beginning in 1999.

While the above cases involved corporations hiring private security firms to carry out black-ops against environmental groups, the Pennsylvania scandal may be the first time that a state agency has contracted with a private security firm to gather intelligence on lawful groups for the benefit of a specific industry. Although the ITRR bulletins were produced for the Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security, they were shared with PR firms, the major Marcellus Shale companies, and industry associations.

Not only were they being lumped together with groups like Al-Qaeda, but the government agencies tasked with protecting the people of Pennsylvania were, in their view, essentially working for the gas companies. If a moderate group like GDAC wasn't safe from the surveillance-industrial complex, it seemed nobody was. "These systems and this type of collection is so rife with inappropriate speculation and error – both intentional and unintentional – that your good behavior doesn't protect you," German says. More...

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Here's Why The World's First Central Banker Got The Death Penalty
by Rob Wile
Posted May 31, 2013

First central bankerIn 1656, Sweden's King Karl X Gustav deputized a Latvian-born entrepreneur named Johan Palmstruch to found a bank to help modernize Sweden's finances.At the time, the country's principal currency was enormous copper plates, called dalers.

Palmstruch began holding them at this new institution, called the Stockholms Banco, and providing customers receipts — basically, proofs of credit. The system proved extremely popular, and a lot of dalers began piling up at the bank.So naturally, Palmstruch began making loans.

For six years, things went great, Irwin writes.
But then King Gustav died, and Sweden's ruling council decided to strike new copper plates that were worth less than the old ones. So naturally, Swedes immediately began lining up at the Banco to claim their old dalers, whose value had suddenly gone up. More...

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Argentina's General Videla and the "War on Terror"
by Bill Van Auken
Posted May 25, 2013

Videla repressionGen. Jorge Rafael Videla died May 17 at the age of 87 as the result of injuries suffered from a fall in a prison shower. He was remembered as the head of a savage military dictatorship that between 1976 and 1983 murdered and "disappeared" some 30,000 Argentine workers, socialist militants, teachers, students and others perceived as "subversives," while torturing at least 100,000 others. In his own country, newspapers that once backed his rule condemned him as a dictator and practitioner of state terror.

A network of clandestine prisons was set up, including the notorious dungeons of ESMA (the Navy School of Mechanics), the army's Campo de Mayo, and scores of others scattered across the country. There, detainees were subjected to vicious forms of torture, including beatings, electric shocks, prolonged submersion in foul water, forced denial of sleep, extreme temperature and noise, attacks by trained dogs, simulated executions and sexual torture and humiliation.

Virtually all of these methods came into common usage at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and CIA "black sites" across the globe a quarter of a century later. More...

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Why Are Homeowners Being Jailed for Demanding Wall Street Prosecutions?
by John Knefel
Posted May 24, 2013

DOJ jails victimsA two-day long housing protest outside the Department of Justice this week has resulted in nearly 30 arrests and several instances of law enforcement unnecessarily using tasers on activists, according to eye-witnesses. The action – which was organized by a coalition of housing advocacy groups, including the Home Defenders League and Occupy Our Homes – called for Attorney General Eric Holder to begin prosecutions against the bankers who created the foreclosure crisis.

"Everyone here is fed up with Holder acknowledging big banks did really bad stuff but [saying] they're too big to jail," says Greg Basta, deputy director of New York Communities for Change, who helped organize the event. Holder has previously suggested that prosecuting large banks would be difficult because it could destabilize the economy. The attorney general recently tried to walk those comments back – but the conspicuous lack of criminal prosecutions of bankers tells another story. More...

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It's Enough to Make Your Blood Boil
by Shah Gilani
Posted May 20, 2013

Eric Holder grants immunity to banksFirst, back in February, Attorney General Eric Holder christened the unofficial official doctrine of "Too Big to Jail." He told Congress, "The size of some of these institutions [TBTF banks] becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if we do prosecute - if we do bring a criminal charge - it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy."

Of course, it was only the christening of another neat little name. The actual doctrine has been official policy of America's Congress, successive presidents and their administrations, and the alphabet soup of regulatory bodies for as long as anyone can remember.

But a funny thing happened on Tuesday. Someone pushed back...

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent a letter to the Justice Department, the Federal Reserve and the Securities and Exchange Commission. More...

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The Vicious New Bank Shakedown That Could Seriously Ruin Your Life
by Lynn Stuart Parramore
Posted May 20, 2013

Bank fraudLast summer, a civil court judge in Brooklyn who presides over as many as 100 credit card cases a day told the New York Times that a whopping 90 percent of the credit card lawsuits that came across his desk were flawed and could not prove that a person owed the debt. Here's the kicker: The errors in credit card suits often go undetected because the borrowers usually don't show up in court to defend themselves (how can they, if they don't know the suit has been filed?). As a result, an estimated 95 percent of lawsuits result in default judgments in favor of lenders.

The really chilling message sent in this new plot to squeeze cash out of hard-pressed Americans is that the big banks are completely undaunted by their exposure in the foreclosure robo-signing scam. Whatever penalties or bad publicity they have received have not restrained them one iota from pulling the exact same fraud again on hapless consumers. Neither has the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which now hangs in limbo with the endlessly delayed confirmation of Richard Cordray as head. More...

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How the US Turned Three Pacifists into Violent Terrorists
by Fran Quigley
Posted May 19, 2013

peaceful activitsIn just ten months, the United States managed to transform an 82 year-old Catholic nun and two pacifists from non-violent anti-nuclear peace protestors accused of misdemeanor trespassing into federal felons convicted of violent crimes of terrorism. Now in jail awaiting sentencing for their acts at an Oak Ridge, TN nuclear weapons production facility, their story should chill every person concerned about dissent in the US.

In a mere five months, government charges transformed them from misdemeanor trespassers to multiple felony saboteurs. The government also successfully moved to strip the three from presenting any defenses or testimony about the harmful effects of nuclear weapons. More...

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Justice Department's Pursuit Of AP's Phone Records Is Both Extreme And Dangerous
by Glenn Greenwald
Posted May 16, 2013

Eric HolderThe claimed legal basis for these actions is unknown, but the threats they pose to a free press and the newsgathering process are clear. Attorney General Eric Holder was required by DOJ regulations to personally approve efforts to obtain phone records for AP journalists.

The DOJ has been obtaining phone records for quite some time in this manner, and that the angry reactions to this story are accounted for by the fact that, in this case, the targets are establishment journalists rather than marginalized Muslims or dissident groups. But there are unique dangers from having the government intrude into journalists' communications with their sources, which is what happens when they obtain their phone records in such a sweeping manner. At this point, leaks from government sources are the primary way we learn about what the government does, and the more that process is targeted and the more those involved are intimidated, the less it will happen. That, of course, is the point.

Despite how stunning the breadth of this invasion is, none of it is really surprising. But it does underscore just how extreme of a climate of fear has been deliberately imposed by the Obama administration on the news gathering process. More...

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An Easy, 4-Step Method to End Corporate Personhood
by Carl Gibson
Posted May 10, 2013

Corporations are peopleIf you knew you could end the concept of corporate personhood at the local level, and that everyone all over the country was doing it too, wouldn't you try it? All you need is $50 to $100 depending on what state you're in, a vehicle, and a carpool lane. A briefcase is helpful, but optional.

We all know corporations aren't people. The mere suggestion that an entity with an unlimited lifespan - that doesn't eat, sleep, make love, or even have a measurable pulse - is a legitimate "person" is laughable. So here's an easy way to prove that laughable concept to local law enforcement, and more importantly, your local judge. More...

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Why Such Secrecy About private Military Contractor at the Boston Marathon?
by Dave Lindorff
Posted April 27, 2013

What's in your backpack?Speaking as an investigative reporter with almost 40 years's experience, I can say that when government officials won't talk, they're generally hiding something embarrassing or worse.

I tried, and nobody will talk about those Craft International Services private security personnel who were widely observed and photographed near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, wearing security ear-pieces, hats and T-shirts bearing the company's skull logo, and all wearing the same dark coats, khaki pants and combat boots, some carrying what appear to have been radiation detectors.

The image of the exploded backpack released by the FBI and identified as the remains of the pack that was carrying one of the two pressure-cooker bombs, prominently displays a white square on a black background. This is not a doctored photograph; it's the photograph that was released by the FBI. There are also at least two photos depicting one of the Craft International men who is wearing a black backpack identical to several of the other Craft International personnel. The same white square is also visible on the top of his pack. More...

I look at the size of these contractors' backpacks and then at the size of the ones worn by the brothers Tsarnaev and it seems to me that the brothers' packpacks were not big enough for a pressure cooker. Also, the younger brother's packback was white not black. Something seems strange here.

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Boston Bombing: MSM Creates New Official Story – Video of Dzhokhar Planting Bomb is Forgotten
by Scott Creighton
Posted April 24, 2013

These two videos are crucial because they are supposedly what put the Tsarnaev brothers on the FBI's radar in the first place. Many people, myself included, immediately wondered about why the FBI would claim to have these videos and then not release them to aid the public in identifying the suspects. It made no sense and the claim above from CNN is insultingly stupid.

Turns out there was a reason they didn't release the videos, they didn't exist.
As the Washington Post drops the story of the incriminating videos down the memory hole, their new effort published yesterday tries to fill the void as best it can. It is four pages of covering tracks and literally nothing else. More...

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Italian Supreme Court President Blames Bilderberg For Terrorist Attacks
by Paul Joseph Watson
Posted April 17, 2013

Italian Supreme Court PresidentHonorary President of the Supreme Court of Italy and former Senior Investigative Judge Ferdinando Imposimato, the man who prosecuted the case involving the assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II, has sensationally accused the Bilderberg Group of being behind terrorist attacks in Europe.

"You had to attack civilians, the people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game," Vinciguerra explained in sworn testimony. "The reason was quite simple. They were supposed to force these people, the Italian public, to turn to the state to ask for greater security. This is the political logic that lies behind all the massacres and the bombings which remain unpunished, because the state cannot convict itself or declare itself responsible for what happened," he added. More...

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As economy flails, debtors' prisons thrive
by Alain Sherter
Posted April 13, 2013

revival of debtors prisonsThousands of Americans are sent to jail not for committing a crime, but because they can't afford to pay for traffic tickets, medical bills and court fees. If that sounds like a debtors' prison, a legal relic which was abolished in this country in the 1830s, that's because it is. And courts and judges in states across the land are violating the Constitution by incarcerating people for being unable to pay such debts.

Jail time can also accelerate a downward spiral for the debtor, because additional court costs are piled on top of their previous debts. That makes repayment even harder, and the cycle continues. More...

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Secret FDIC Plan to Loot Bank Accounts
By Stephen Lendman
Posted April 11, 2013

FDIC plans for your moneyYour bank accounts are unsafe. FDIC insurance won't help. It shouldn't surprise. It's already policy. Market analyst Graham Summers explained. Depositor theft is coming. Europe is banker occupied territory. So is America.

Finance is a new form of warfare. It's more powerful than standing armies. Banking giants run things. Money power has final say. Economies are strip-mined for profit. Communities are laid waste. Ordinary people are impoverished. Even their bank accounts aren't safe.

Cypriot officials agreed to tax them. Canada, New Zealand, and Euroland member states plan doing the same thing. So does America. More...

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Bradley Manning & The Deepwater Horizon
by Greg Palast
Posted April 6, 2013

U.S. coverupThree years ago this month, on the 20th of April, 2010, the BP Deepwater Horizon drilling rig blew itself to kingdom come. Soon thereafter, a message came in to our office's chief of investigations, Ms Badpenny, from a person I dare not name, who was floating somewhere in the Caspian Sea along the coast of Baku, Central Asia.

The source was in mortal fear he'd be identified -- and with good reason. Once we agreed on a safe method of communication, he revealed this: 17 months before BP's Deepwater Horizon blew out and exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, another BP rig suffered an identical blow-out in the Caspian Sea. Crucially, both the Gulf and Caspian Sea blow-outs had the same identical cause: the failure of the cement "plug".

Only after I dove into deep water in Baku did I discover, trolling through the so-called "WikiLeaks" documents, secret State Department cables released by Manning. The information was stunning: the US State Department knew about the BP blow-out in the Caspian and joined in the cover-up. More...

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Private Prisons and the Enslavement Society
by Batr Sartre
Posted April 3, 2013

For profit prisonsWhat more time-honored practice in the long history of state sponsored servitude than the institutionalization of prisoners? Incarceration for offenses against government laws is a cornerstone for power and survivability of any regime. Prisons may have been hellholes over the centuries, but seldom has the internment of convicted lawbreakers been a growth industry for private profit. It almost makes one wonder exactly who are the crooks. While most hard-pressed citizens want a safe and secure society, few ever give even a passing thought to the insatiable corporatist criminalization of the criminal justice system. Just how many Americans agree with the proposition, if you did the crime, you need to serve the time.

No other society in human history has imprisoned so many of its own citizens." The figures show that the United States has locked up more people than any other country: a half million more than China, which has a population five times greater than the U.S. Statistics reveal that the United States holds 25% of the world's prison population, but only 5% of the world's people. From less than 300,000 inmates in 1972, the jail population grew to 2 million by the year 2000. In 1990 it was one million. Ten years ago there were only five private prisons in the country, with a population of 2,000 inmates; now, there are 100, with 62,000 inmates. It is expected that by the coming decade, the number will hit 360,000, according to reports. More...

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Obama's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network Protects Bank Fraud and Insider Trading
by Tom Burghardt
Posted March 29, 2013

protecting corruptionAs one of the filthiest dens of corruption in Washington, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is in a league of its own. In late January, when the president announced he was nominating former federal prosecutor Mary Jo White to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), The New York Times, as they are wont to do, proclaimed that the "White House delivered a strong message to Wall Street."

A rather ironic assertion considering the tens of millions of dollars "earned" defending Wall Street criminals by Debevoise & Plimpton partner Mary Jo and her millionaire lawyer husband John, a partner at the white shoe corporate litigation shop Cravath, Swaine & Moore, as Above the Law disclosed.

Keep in mind that White will soon lead an agency that for years covered-up financial crimes by routinely shredding tens of thousands of case files on everything from insider trading, securities fraud, market manipulation and the Madoff and Stanford Ponzi schemes, as a 2011 Rolling Stone investigation disclosed. More...

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That's why they call it a Police State
by David Glenn Cox
Posted March 21, 2013

police stateOn July 10, 2011 Kelly Thomas was beaten and suffocated by five Fullerton Police Officers. Kelly Thomas was a homeless man and a diagnosed schizophrenic. Police had stopped Thomas for a suspected auto burglary, but Thomas had nothing on him indicating he was involved. Over the next 15 minutes the officers taunt Thomas, threatening to arrest him for imaginary crimes, until finally, Officer Ramos says, "Now, you see my fists, they're about to f*ck you up." Thomas was tasered six times, until the taser guns ran dry and then, he was beaten and finally, suffocated by five officers piling on top of his lifeless body. Thomas's body then lay on the sidewalk, in a puddle of his own leaking body fluids, while paramedics attended to the cop's bloody knuckles.

Kelly Thomas was beaten to death by police on the streets of Fullerton California, but what was Kelly Thomas charged with? The officers knew Kelly Thomas, he was a fixture, and they'd talked to him before. They knew he was homeless, but rather than say homeless, let's say instead, that they knew he was powerless to stop the officer's. More...

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Eric Holder Enables Dishonesty, Fraud and Likely Criminal Activity on Wall Street
by Mark Karlin
Posted March 18, 2013

enabler of crimeHolder admits that Department of Justice believes big bankers are above the law, Holder is enabling fraudulent and criminal activity on Wall Street by hardly investigating it, let alone potentially prosecuting the executives likely engaged in violations of the law.

If a state attorney general declares that he or she will not prosecute a Mafia don for shaking down merchants because the Mafia owns too many legitimate businesses and employs too many people – and putting the don behind empires might cause economic harm, do you think that the don is going to stop beating people over the head with baseball bats to get a cut of the profits? That is exactly analogous to the position Holder has taken in not prosecuting too big to fail bank executives. As such, Holder is enabling Wall Street fraud and crime.

This is corruption of the most entrenched and insidious kind, and the US attorney general's response is that some crime pays and is too big and powerful to be subject to the laws of the United States of America. More...

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Eric Holder Exposes A Nation of Law, Going Lawless
By Jim Freeman
Posted March 17, 2013

Dept of InjusticeEarly In March, Attorney General Eric Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee he and his Department of Justice were, essentially, unable to prosecute crime. He told the Senators, without any irony at all, that certain private institutions were simply too big to prosecute. He is, of course, talking about banks--a specific bank in this case, but we'll come to that.

Holder's statement begs the question, if banks have been acknowledged as too big to fail and, if he has extended the "too big' franchise to prosecution for crimes, can too big to audit be far behind? Perhaps they are like mastodons and too damned big to do anything with, short of waiting out their inevitable extinction. More...

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Bradley Manning: The Conscience of America
by Michael Ratner
Posted March 15, 2013

reported war crimesThe last 10 years have brought to light egregious acts committed by U.S. soldiers who, when exposed, cower under the defense of "just following orders," or claim to have been influenced by institutional culture. Yet, remarkably, at just 22 years of age, a heroic young man began exposing the worst of this culture not to harm the country, but to better it. He saw wrongdoing and he acted.

Unfortunately for Private Manning, he faces an administration that seems intent on criminalizing every conceivable act of whistleblowing, in effect deleting its vital function from our democratic system. Not only has the Obama Administration pursued a greater number of whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than all previous administrations combined, but it has recently announced that Private Manning's plea will have no bearing on its pursuit of the remaining charges.

Bradley Manning is being punished for failing to follow authority. Yet, from a very young age, he realized an unshakable moral and ethical imperative to answer to a higher authority than his superiors: the Constitution, and the rule of law. More...

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US 'Corporate Tax Dodgers' Keeping More Money Overseas
by Andrea Germanos
Posted March 14, 2013

Tax dodgers call for austerityAt a time of record corporate profits, U.S. "corporate tax dodgers" are parking more of their profits offshore, taking advantage of tax loopholes to shield billions from U.S. taxes, according to new analyses in the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg.

"What makes this story especially obscene is that many of these companies, such as Honeywell and Microsoft, are leaders of the 'Fix the Debt' campaign, which is pushing for cuts to Social Security and Medicare as the solution to our fiscal challenges," says IPS's Sarah Anderson. The Wall Street Journal looked at 60 U.S. companies that parked a combined $166 billion offshore last year, allowing 40% of their annual profits to escape U.S. taxes. In Bloomberg's analysis of 83 companies, there was a $183 billion expansion over the past year in non-U.S. holdings, for a combined total across the 83 companies of $1.46 trillion in offshore profits.

This tax avoidance is allowed, both papers explain, because of tax rules that 'incentivize' such practices; companies don't have to pay taxes on profits from these overseas subsidiaries if the money isn't brought back to the U.S. More...

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Big Bank Immunity: When Do We Crack Down on Wall Street?
by Dean Baker
Posted March 13, 2013

What is the real reason for no prosecutions?The Wall Street gang must really be partying these days. Profits and bonuses are as high as ever as these super-rich takers were able to use trillions of dollars of below-market government loans to get themselves through the crisis they created. The rest of the country is still struggling with high unemployment, stagnant wages, underwater mortgages and hollowed-out retirement accounts, but life is good again on Wall Street.

Their world must have gotten even brighter last week when Attorney General Eric Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the Justice Department may have to restrain its prosecutors in dealing with the big banks because it has to consider the possibility that a prosecution could lead to financial instability. Not only can the big banks count on taxpayer bailouts when they need them; it turns out that they can share profits with drug dealers with impunity. (The case immediately at hand involved money laundered for a Mexican drug cartel.) And who says that times are bad? More...

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Wall Street Banks, Money Laundering and the Drug Trade
by Tom Burghardt
Posted March 12, 2013

immune from prosecutionIn late January, Bloomberg News reported that US prosecutors have "asked a federal judge to sign off on HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA)'s $1.9 billion settlement of charges it enabled drug cartels to launder millions of dollars in trafficking proceeds."

In cobbling together the HSBC deal, the Justice Department ignored Senate testimony by whistleblowers, some of whom were fired or eventually resigned in disgust when higher-ups thwarted their efforts to get a handle on AML "lapses" by the North American branch during a critical period when it was becoming clear that losses in the subprime market would be huge.

Let's get this sick joke straight: here's a bank that laundered billions of dollars for Colombian and Mexican drug lords, admittedly amongst the most violent gangsters on earth (120,000 dead Mexicans and counting since 2006) and we're supposed to take this deal seriously. Seriously? Remember, this an institution whose pretax 2012 profits will exceed $23.5 billion when earnings are reported next week and the best the US government can do is extract a promise to "do better"–next time. More...

Aaron Swartz faced 35 years in prison for what was essentially the equivalent of checking out too many books at once from the library, while these criminals get off for free. Don' t let the fines fool you, they are not paid by the executives, they are paid by the shareholders. This makes a mockery of "liberty and justice for all".

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The Premise of Digital Surveillance Precludes Scholarship
by R. Lila Steinberg
Posted March 11, 2013

big brother is watchingSince 9/11, sweeping and indiscriminate digital surveillance of all computer and telecommunications users has been conducted, and more recently, systems have been developed to store every byte of that information forever. This means that if actors within some government agency decide to target you, they can immediately access every telecommunication: email, phone call, etcetera, that you have made or sent for years, as well as every web site you have visited.

While this practice clearly violates the Fourth Amendment (and similar laws in other countries), it has also been revealed by high-level National Security Agency insiders to be completely unnecessary to any real criminal investigative procedure.

However, there is an even deeper and more fundamental error in the premise behind cataloguing and storing which webpages you have visited for use against you in the future. It is the misconception that you are in agreement with all materials you watch and read. More...

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We Are Bradley Manning
by Chris Hedges
Posted March 6, 2013

Anopther whistle blower prosecutedThis trial is not simply the prosecution of a 25-year-old soldier who had the temerity to report to the outside world the indiscriminate slaughter, war crimes, torture and abuse that are carried out by our government and our occupation forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a concerted effort by the security and surveillance state to extinguish what is left of a free press, one that has the constitutional right to expose crimes by those in power. The lonely individuals who take personal risks so that the public can know the truth—the Daniel Ellsbergs, the Ron Ridenhours, the Deep Throats and the Bradley Mannings—are from now on to be charged with "aiding the enemy." All those within the system who publicly reveal facts that challenge the official narrative will be imprisoned, as was John Kiriakou, the former CIA analyst who for exposing the U.S. government's use of torture began serving a 30-month prison term the day Manning read his statement. There is a word for states that create these kinds of information vacuums: totalitarian.

The cowardice of The New York Times, El Pais, Der Spiegel and Le Monde, all of which used masses of the material Manning passed on to WikiLeaks and then callously turned their backs on him, is one of journalism's greatest shames. These publications made little effort to cover Manning's pretrial hearings, a failure that shows how bankrupt and anemic the commercial press has become. More...

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Monsanto's Patents on Life
by Katherine Paul and Ronnie Cummins
Posted March 4, 2013

Monsanto GMO tumorsLast week, the U.S. Supreme Court began hearing arguments in a seed patent infringement case that pits a small farmer from Indiana, 75-year old Vernon Hugh Bowman, against biotech goliath Monsanto. Reporters from the New York Times to the Sacramento Bee dissected the legal arguments. They speculated on the odds. They opined on the impact a Monsanto loss might have, not only on genetically modified crops, but on medical research and software.

What most of them didn't report on is the absurdity – and the danger – of allowing companies to patent living organisms in the first place, and then use those patents to attempt to monopolize world seed and food production. More...

This case has far reaching implications in whether Monsanto and a handful of companies will gain total control over our food supply.

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Bank of America Bombshell: Whistleblowers Reveal Coverup and Massive Borrower Harm
by Yves Smith
Posted February 16, 2013

Bank Of America PlazaBorrowers could suffer wrongful foreclosures due to predatory or negligent foreclosure practices for reasons well beyond the servicer not having the "legal right to foreclose". Moreover, the servicers were ordered to look well beyond that issue. The whistleblowers saw ample evidence of abuses of that could and typically did result in the loss of home within the scope of the reviews they performed. Moreover, they also presented evidence of persistent, sometimes pervasive, impermissible conduct at Bank of America which was simply not addressed in the tests or captured in related information gathering, yet clearly fell within the scope of the consent orders.

The foreclosure reviews showed persistent, widespread efforts by Bank of America to avoid any finding of borrower harm. These efforts were supported and enabled by Promontory. The whistleblowers, all told their role would be to act as investigators and help borrower get compensation they deserved, described the review process as seriously flawed. Yet even with those obstacles, they saw abundant evidence of serious damage to borrowers. More...

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The Execution of Christopher Dorner
by George Caiccariello and Mike King
Posted February 15, 2013

Dorner's murder by policeIf the murder of Oscar Grant on an Oakland transit platform marked the dawn of the Obama era, the cold-blooded murder of former Naval reservist and Los Angeles Police officer Christopher Dorner might just mark the end of whatever optimistic hope people can muster in his administration. Whether an innocent young man just trying to get home, shot in the back after being racially profiled and slurred, or a man driven to his breaking point after being fired from a similar police force that operates according to its own warped morality and overarching objectives, the state of the union is a powder keg whose wick has gotten shorter due to decades of looking the other way.

Even more astonishing than the request was the immediate compliance: press outlets abruptly ceased to tweet about the developing story, and duly retreating to the roadblocks, abandoned their task of reporting the news and waited for it to be fed to them. To paraphrase but one of many incredulous observers, we speak of press blackouts in China, but all the police had to do here was ask nicely and the press complied without batting an eyelash.

A female voice on the scanner repeatedly asks if the fire crews should be allowed to approach, and is told that it's not time yet, that we need to wait until all four corners are engulfed, then that we need to wait until the roof collapses. At one particularly repulsive point, those on the scene realize that the house has a basement, and an authoritative male voice indicates that the fire crew would not be called until the fire had "burned through the basement." They were going to let him die. More...

Think about this, Dorner was totally trapped. Regardless of what he alledged to have done, all the police had to do was to wait him out. However the police wanted him dead so he could not testify against LAPD corruption, brutality, illegal acts, and racism. So the police murdered him.

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The LAPD Got their Man How They Wanted Him: Dead
by Dave Lindorff
Posted February 14, 2013

they wanted him dead"Burn that fuckin' house down...Burn motherfucker down!"

--Voice overheard on police radio at the scene of the cabin where Chris Dorner was trapped and burned to death

It was clear from the outset when fired LAPD cop Chris Dorner began wreaking his campaign of vengeance and terror against his former employer that the California law enforcement establishment, led by the LAPD itself, had no interest in Dorner surviving to face trial, where he could continue to rat out the racist and corrupt underbelly of the one of the country's biggest police departments.

Dorner, as I wrote earlier, claimed he had been fired for speaking up during his three years on the force, through channels and to superior officers, about incidents he had witnessed of police brutality and of the rampant racism that permeates the department -- not just white on black, but black on Asian, Asian on Latino and Latino on white. His response to being sacked -- threatening to kill senior officers he blamed for this law enforcement distopia as well as some of their family members -- was criminally insane, but his complaints, made in a 6000-word post on Facebook, had and continue to have the ring of truth. More...

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The NDAA and the Death of the Democratic State
by Chris Hedges
Posted February 12, 2013

Obama as neroThe fate of the nation, we understood, could be decided by the three judges who will rule on our lawsuit against President Barack Obama for signing into law Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

If we lose, the power of the military to detain citizens, strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in military prisons will become a terrifying reality. Democrat or Republican. Occupy activist or libertarian. Socialist or tea-party stalwart. It does not matter. This is not a partisan fight. Once the state seizes this unchecked power, it will inevitably create a secret, lawless world of indiscriminate violence, terror and gulags. I lived under several military dictatorships during the two decades I was a foreign correspondent. I know the beast. More...

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