Favorite Quotes

"Once you walk into a courtroom, you've already lost. The best way to win is to avoid it at all costs, because the justice system is anything but" Sydney Carton, Attorney. "There is no one in the criminal justice system who believes that system works well. Or if they are, they are for courts that are an embarrassment to the ideals of justice. The law of real people doesn't work" Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law Professor.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

DHS/police Stingrays can disrupt cell phone service

The DOJ and law enforcement insist that the only reason for their secrecy concerning Stingray's is to prevent suspects from learning how the devices work and devising methods to thwart them.

A recent court filing recently uncovered by the ACLU suggests another reason for the secrecy: the fact that stingrays can disrupt cellular service for any phone in their vicinity—not just targeted phones—as well as any other mobile devices that use the same cellular network for connectivity as the targeted phone.

Civil liberties groups have long asserted that stingrays are too invasive because they can sweep up data about every phone in their vicinity, not just targeted phones, and can interfere with their calls. Justice Department and local law enforcement agencies, however, have refused to confirm this or answer other questions about the tools.

In the document —a warrant application requesting approval to use a stingray—FBI Special Agent Michael A. Scimeca disclosed the disruptive capability to a judge.

“Because of the way, the Mobile Equipment sometimes operates,” Scimeca wrote in his application, “its use has the potential to intermittently disrupt cellular service to a small fraction of Sprint’s wireless customers within its immediate vicinity. Any potential service disruption will be brief and minimized by reasonably limiting the scope and duration of the use of the Mobile Equipment.”

The document was previously sealed and only came to light after the defense attorney for a defendant in the case filed a motion last year to dismiss evidence collected by the stingray. It’s the first time the ACLU has seen the FBI acknowledge the stingray’s disruptive capabilities and raises a number of questions about the nature of the disruption and whether the Federal Communications Commission knew about it when it certified the equipment.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Private police forces are growing under DHS

Michael Youlen gained his police powers using a little-known provision of state law that allows private citizens to petition the courts for the authority to carry a gun, display a badge and make arrests. The number of “special conservators of the peace” — or SCOPs, as they are known — has doubled in Virginia over the past decade to roughly 750, according to state records.

Youlen said he left to start a private investigator service and then became a SCOP after reading about a housing community in Stafford County called Aquia Harbour that had its own private police force.

DHS is behind this dangerous national trend.

Click here to read about the Rand Corporation & DHS's national police recruitment program.
Click here to read how security guards are being trained & hired by DHS.

Click here, here and here to read more.

Blackwater-like contractors (private police) are dropping down from helicopters in U.S.

Click here to read more about private police in California.
Another disturbing story, reveals how sports teams working with DHS want to spy on concert, sports goers every movement, a new spying app. by VenueNext will track your every movement during a concert or sporting event.
The growth is mirrored nationally in the ranks of private police, who increasingly patrol corporate campuses, neighborhoods and museums as the demand for private security has increased and police services have been cut in some places.

Private police in Montana should concern every American.

Experts say Virginia’s increase is SCOPs is part of a nationwide uptick in private security that began in the 1970s and accelerated after the Sept. 11 attacks. The number of private security guards — nearly 1.1 million — dwarfs the 640,000 public police officers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Most SCOPs patrol corporate campuses, work for neighborhood associations or perform code enforcement for counties or cities, but Youlen has pushed the model further by creating his own “department” and turning policing into an enterprise.

A 2012 study from the Illinois College of Law found that private police are “chronically undertrained” and nearly a third nationwide face almost no regulation.

The trend has raised concerns in Virginia and elsewhere, because these armed officers often receive a small fraction of the training and oversight of their municipal counterparts. Arrests of private police officers and incidents involving SCOPs overstepping their authority have also raised concerns.

In neighboring D.C., a similar designation called “special police” requires 40 hours of training. Maryland officials leave instruction to the discretion of employers but have no requirements. Other states have similar systems.

“There are a number of groups we regulate far more stringently than SCOPs carrying a gun,” said Virginia Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran, speaking prior to the passage of the bill.

In 2012, more than 20 residents of the Cherry Hill in Baltimore filed a $25 million lawsuit against a Cleveland security company, claiming its guards had abused residents and violated their civil rights by stopping them illegally and making false arrests. Two of the three guards named in the suit were “special police,” a designation similar to SCOPs in Virginia.

“You got these guys running out there as security officers who couldn’t make it as police officers.”, Kevin Bukowski, a former SCOP said, pointing out the reality of just how scary the idea of more private police on the streets actually sounds.

Please sign the petition demanding our politicians stop DHS from creating a national police force using state, local & private police.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Group of retired & former law enforcement officers demand accountability & reform

Article first appeared in laprogressive.com

The National Coalition of Law Enforcement Officers For Justice Reform & Accountability (NCLEO) is a multi-cultural group of retired and former law enforcement officers. The NCLEO will meet with Rep. John Lewis (D. Alabama) in Washington, DC, next week, to further the discussion started by FBI Director James Comey in his speech on race relations between the police and the black community.

The NAACP urges national reforms & recommendations to address police abuse. Click here to read more.

This historic and unprecedented event will include retirees from police departments across the nation: St. Louis, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC Metro, Albuquerque, East Orange, New Jersey, Brockton, MA and the US Marshal Service as well as family members of Oscar Grant, an unarmed black man whose murder was the subject of the movie Fruitvale.

In addition, we are also supported by Kevin Murphy, former Alabama police chief who bought Representative Lewis to tears when he apologized to the noted civil rights leader for failing to protect the Freedom Riders during a trip to Montgomery in 1961.

There appears to be an ongoing and concerted effort by a some police departments to minimize and mitigate bad behavior on the part of police officers on a national level. It is understood, but not accepted, that court cases generated as a result of police misconduct are often swept under the rug to avoid costly lawsuits.

The belief is that police chiefs and commissioners routinely ‘circle the wagons’ to avoid agency embarrassment and exorbitant litigation. Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole recently “counselled” Officer Cynthia Whitlach after the police car dash-cam proved that Whitlach had falsified an arrest report of a 79-year-old black military veteran, William Wingate. If falsely stripping a citizen of his or her freedom is not grounds for dismissal – what is?

Then we have district attorneys, who at times, appear complicit in shielding bad cops.

Recently in New York, in the case of New York Police Department Officer Mirjan Lolja, the prosecutor used his “discretion” and charged Lolja with a misdemeanor rather than a felony for assaulting the subway conductor. Time for an independent prosecutor to handle police officers accused of criminal activity.

There is an abundance of evidence that police officers are given great deference by grand jurors in the discharge of their duties; most don’t want to second guess a police officer who uses physical violence that results in serious injury or death. 

So then, the questions that beg to be asked are: 
  • Might there be a pattern of excessive force by officers?
  • Is anger management an issue having been dismissed?
  • Would periodic psychological evaluation help identify those police officers ready to ‘pop like a cork’?
It’s time for real and substantive change in the way police departments discipline errant behavior when discovered. It’s time for prosecutors to shed the appearance of collusion and favoritism with police departments and file the appropriate criminal complaints when officers break the law.

No desk duty when an officer is caught red-handed violating policy. No more counseling when termination should occur. No more resignation in an attempt to hide bad behavior, thus allowing employment on another police department.

Time to deter bad behavior with definitive consequences. Time to hold everyone accountable up and down the chain of command.

A police officer, in my opinion, is only able to commit egregious acts in the field because of a lack of managerial oversight. Where are the patrol sergeants? Where is the station’s watch commander? Who approved that booking of the suspect when there was insufficient probable cause for the initial detention, not to mention the subsequent arrest? Which supervisor signed that “use of force” report without interviewing the alleged suspect to verify the officer’s assertions? Every person along the way who had a hand in commission of an act or omission of supervision should be held personally accountability — officers, sergeants and lieutenants alike.

Former CIA analyst says Americans are next to be tortured in the “war on terror”

Former CIA analyst John Kiriakou revealed the U.S. government’s official policies on utilizing torture in the so-called “War on Terror.”

Kiriakou blew the whistle on the CIA's use of waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation” methods. Kiriakou was subsequently imprisoned.

Abby Martin of RT sat down with Kiriakou in his home to discuss U.S. policy regarding torture in the so-called “War On Terror.” What Kiriakou says should make us all sit up and listen… he says that it’s not just a choice about being silent and ignoring what goes on “over there” anymore. He claims that all of us are “next” and that these torture tactics are being applied at home, not just abroad.

Jon Stewart from the Daily Show: Why does Obama prosecute whistleblowers?
watch the video below:

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Police state America 2015: Forced blood draws, DNA collection and biometric scans

Article first appeared in Rutherford.org:

The Fourth Amendment was designed to stand between us and arbitrary governmental authority. For all practical purposes, that shield has been shattered, leaving our liberty and personal integrity subject to the whim of every cop on the beat, trooper on the highway and jail official. The framers would be appalled.”—Herman Schwartz, The Nation

Our freedoms—especially the Fourth Amendment—are being choked out by a prevailing view among government bureaucrats that they have the right to search, seize, strip, scan, spy on, probe, pat down, taser, and arrest any individual at any time and for the slightest provocation.

Forced cavity searches, forced colonoscopies, forced blood draws, forced breath-alcohol tests, forced DNA extractions, forced eye scans, forced inclusion in biometric databases—these are just a few ways in which Americans are being forced to accept that we have no control over what happens to our bodies during an encounter with government officials.

In the United States: we're all guilty until proven innocent.

What's the true cost of DHS/police surveillance of innocent Americans? It's in the hundreds of billions of dollars, click here to read more.

David Eckert was forced to undergo an anal cavity search, three enemas, and a colonoscopy after allegedly failing to yield to a stop sign at a Wal-Mart parking lot. Cops justified the searches on the grounds that they suspected Eckert was carrying drugs because his “posture was erect” and “he kept his legs together.” No drugs were found. During a routine traffic stop, Leila Tarantino was subjected to two roadside strip searches in plain view of passing traffic, during which a female officer “forcibly removed” a tampon from Tarantino. Nothing illegal was found. Nevertheless, such searches have been sanctioned by the courts,

Close to 600 motorists leaving Penn State University one Friday night were stopped by police and, without their knowledge or consent, subjected to a breathalyzer test using flashlights that can detect the presence of alcohol on a person’s breath. These passive alcohol sensors are being hailed as a new weapon in the fight against DUIs. However, because they cannot be used as the basis for arrest, breathalyzer tests are still required. And for those who refuse to submit to a breathalyzer, there are forced blood draws.

"Have You Seen The Light?" We've seen the "Light" and it's time we replace the police state 'Light' with the "Light" of Lady Liberty! This is not the America anyone wants, where everyone's a suspected terrorist.

One such person is Michael Chorosky, who was surrounded by police, strapped to a gurney and then had his blood forcibly drawn after refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test“What country is this? What country is this?” cried Chorosky during the forced blood draw. Thirty states presently allow police to do forced blood draws on drivers as part of a nationwide “No Refusal” initiative funded by the federal government.

Not even court rulings declaring such practices to be unconstitutional in the absence of a warrant have slowed down the process. Now the police simply keep a magistrate on call to rubber stamp the procedure over the phone. That’s what is called an end-run around the law, and we’re seeing more and more of these take place under the rubric of “safety.”

The National Highway Safety Administration, the same government agency that funds the “No Refusal” DUI checkpoints and forcible blood draws, is also funding nationwide roadblocks aimed at getting drivers to “voluntarily” provide police with DNA derived from saliva and blood samples, reportedly to study inebriation patterns. When faced with a request for a DNA sample by police during a mandatory roadblock, most participants understandably fail to appreciate the “voluntary” nature of such a request. Unfortunately, in at least 28 states, there’s nothing voluntary about having one’s DNA collected by police in instances where you’ve been arrested, whether or not you’re actually convicted of a crime. The remaining states collect DNA on conviction. All of this DNA data is being fed to the federal government. Indeed, the United States has the largest DNA database in the world, CODIS, which is managed by the FBI and is growing at an alarming rate.

Airline passengers, already subjected to virtual strip searches, are now being scrutinized even more closely, with the Customs and Border Protection agency tasking airport officials with monitoring the bowel movements of passengers suspected of ingesting drugs. They even have a special hi-tech toilet designed to filter through a person’s fecal waste.

Iris scans are funded by the Dept. of Justice and are being incorporated into police precincts, jails, immigration checkpoints, airports and even schools. School officials—from elementary to college—have begun using iris scans in place of traditional ID cards. As for parents wanting to pick their kids up from school, they have to first submit to an iris scan.

As for those endless pictures everyone so cheerfully uploads to Facebook (which has the largest facial recognition database in the world) are being accessed bypolice, filtered with facial recognition software, uploaded into the government’s mammoth biometrics database and cross-checked against its criminal files.Civil libertarians fear these databases could “someday be used for monitoring political rallies, sporting events or even busy downtown areas.”

As these police practices and data collections become more widespread and routine, there will be no one who is spared from the indignity of DNA sampling, blood draws, and roadside strip and/or rectal or vaginal searches, whether or not they’ve done anything wrong. We’re little more than economic units, branded like cattle, marked for easy identification, and then assured that it’s all for our “benefit,” to weed us out from the “real” criminals, and help the police keep our communities “safe” and secure.

What a bunch of B.S. these databases, forced extractions and searches are not for our benefit. They will not keep us safe. What they will do is keep us surveilled, targeted and controlled.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

American citizens are being beaten by police & held without legal counsel

For everyone out there that claims we're all conspiracy nuts,  that our govt. would never throw citizens in a dark hole & beat them. I give you proof that Americans are being detained illegally.

The DHS run Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by families or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a DHS/CIA black site.

This is the NDAA act that no one wants to talk about in action! Any CITIZEN can be detained indefinitely and without legal representation by our government or DHS wink, wink.

Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:
  • Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
  • Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
  • Shackling for prolonged periods.
  • Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
  • Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.
At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.

Brian Jacob Church, a protester known as one of the “Nato Three”, was held and questioned at Homan Square in 2012 following a police raid. Officers restrained Church for the better part of a day, denying him access to an attorney, before sending him to a nearby police station to be booked and charged.

“Homan Square is definitely an unusual place,” Church told the Guardian on Friday. “It brings to mind the interrogation facilities they use in the Middle East. The CIA calls them black sites. It’s a domestic black site. When you go in, no one knows what’s happened to you.”

Church was held at the facility for just under 24 hours, most of that time spent cuffed to the furniture there. Though he had immediately asked to call legal counsel, this request was denied.

Neither he nor the 11 other protestors that were taken there were allowed to see legal counsel until finally Church's, and only Church's, lawyer was allowed in after 20 or so hours. Prior to that, police had been questioning him illegaly.

A team of attorneys could not find Church through 12 hours of “active searching”, Sarah Gelsomino, Church’s lawyer, recalled. No booking record existed. Only after she and others made a “major stink” with contacts in the offices of the corporation counsel and Mayor Rahm Emanuel did they even learn about Homan Square.

They sent another attorney to the facility, where he ultimately gained entry, and talked to Church through a floor-to-ceiling chain-link metal cage. Finally, hours later, police took Church and his two co-defendants to a nearby police station for booking. After serving two and a half years in prison, Church is currently on parole after he and his co-defendants were found not guilty in 2014 of terrorism-related offenses but guilty of lesser charges of possessing an incendiary device and the misdemeanor of “mob action”.

On February 2, 2013, John Hubbard was taken to Homan Square. Hubbard never walked out. The Chicago Tribune reported that the 44-year old was found “unresponsive inside an interview room”, and pronounced dead. The Cook County medical examiner’s office could not locate any record for the Guardian indicating a cause of Hubbard’s death. It remains unclear why Hubbard was ever in police custody.

It's quite a shame that we can't ask Mr. Hubbard because he died within the facility where lawyers are refused entrance, where detainees are kept out of the record books, and where the police appear to operate with impunity. Now, it's roughly around here where you're thinking one of two things. Some of you are thinking that such a claim as this is so outlandish that there's very little chance that it's true. Others must be thinking that the accusations of abuse and the denial of rights are rare mistakes made by a tiny percentage of officers. Too bad this secret wasn't all that secret.

“It’s sort of an open secret among attorneys that regularly make police station visits, this place – if you can’t find a client in the system, odds are they’re there,” said Chicago lawyer Julia Bartmes.

Chicago civil-rights attorney Flint Taylor said Homan Square represented a routinization of a notorious practice in local police work that violates the fifth and sixth amendments of the constitution.

“This Homan Square revelation seems to me to be an institutionalization of the practice that dates back more than 40 years,” Taylor said, “of violating a suspect or witness’ rights to a lawyer and not to be physically or otherwise coerced into giving a statement.”

Criminologist dissects the Chicago black site:

Criminologist & executive director of the Chicago Justice Project Tracy Siska: "There was knowledge in the police-accountability community. We knew exactly where it was, but we couldn’t get the press in Chicago to cover the story. We think it started during [former Chicago Police Department Superintendent] Phil Cline’s time around 2006 or 2007 until about 2011 when the city had roving special units [that worked out of Homan Square.]"

 "I think that many crime reporters in Chicago have political views that are right in line with the police. They tend to agree about the tactics needed by the police. They tend to have by one extent or the other the same racist views of the police—a lot of urban police (not all of them by any stretch, but a lot of them) embody racism Siska said."

Q: What about Homan Square-like locations around the country?

Siska: I don’t know, but I would say that the creation of the fusion centers on a federal level gives me pause about how widespread Homan Square places are around the country.
(Click here & here to find out how DHS run Fusion Centers are being used to spy on innocent Americans.)

Q: Going back to the Guantanamo interrogation techniques associated with Homan Square, and just to be clear: These warehouses aren’t interrogating suspected terrorists, correct?

Siska: No, no, no, no, no, no, no. 99 percent of the people from this site are involved in some form of street crime: gang activities, drugs—urban violent crime. That’s what makes the site even worse. It takes Guantanamo-style tactics on urban street criminals and shreds the Bill of Rights.

Q: To clarify: What do “Guantanamo-style” tactics entail?

Siska: Isolation, deprivation of food, other outside contact. It’s meant to be a lot of touchless torture. So they’re not touching you, which in the human-rights field is more powerful and scary because it doesn’t leave marks but leaves huge internal wounds. Most of the time, people aren't physically abused. They’re cut off from society, not allowed phone calls, not fed as much. These are just tactics that are more sophisticated in urban-policing tactics.

The Chicago police used appalling military interrogation tactics for decades.

Then there is the highly decorated Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge who, during his 23-year tenure on the force from 1970 to 1993, used the techniques he learned from interrogating the Vietcong as a military policeman in Vietnam on black suspects in Chicago. These techniques included Russian roulette with pistols and shotguns, burning suspects on radiators, suffocation with typewriter covers, beatings with phone books and electric shocks to the ears, nose, fingers, and testicles.

Burge was a fast-rising and well-respected officer who operated with impunity; neither his colleagues nor his supervisors blew the whistle. Neither did prosecutors or officials in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. Instead, Burge was accorded hero status – until community activists, public interest lawyers and one lonely journalist at the city’s weekly exposed his horrid behavior what it really was: unacceptable.

 Chicago Justice Project's Facebook Page:

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Can the items you buy be used to identify you?

Article first appeared in Privacy Association.org

A Science magazine article analyzes credit card transaction data on 1.1 million individuals from an unnamed OECD country. One of the author’s key conclusions is that using only four transactions, 90% of the people are unique. Actually, they say that 90% of the people can be re-identified (ignoring the distinction between uniqueness and re-identification).

This conclusion has then been repeated uncritically by the science and general media communities.

Kahled El Elmen wrote a critique of the article on BMJ.com.

A credit card transaction consists of a date and a shop. For example, Sally may have gone to Pharmacy-R-Us on December 26th and Butcher Joe on December 27th. This would be an example of a two transaction trace for Sally. If Sally’s transaction trace is unique, it means that she is the only person who has that particular trace (i.e., she is the only person who shopped at these two locations on these two days).

If an adversary wants to re-identify individuals she needs to have background information about the data subject being re-identified. The authors seemed to assume that the adversary would know when the transaction occurred and where, as well as the price.

There is reason to believe that the 1.1 million people are from a country such that they are a sample from a population of approximately 22 million adults who could have credit cards. This means that the 1.1 million individuals in the data that was analyzed represent only five percent of the population. A most basic principle in measuring the risk of re-identification is that risk must be measured on the population and not from the sample. If 90% of the sample is unique that does not necessarily mean that 90% of the population is unique on a trace of four credit card transactions. In fact, the number of unique individuals in the population could be much smaller and you could still have 90% unique individuals in the 1.1 million sample.

The best way to illustrate the implications of this is to do a simulation. With a 5% sample of 1.1 million people. It is very unlikely that 90% of the people in the 1.1 million person sample are unique if his population is also 90% unique. In fact, the population needs less than 1% uniqueness to get 90% uniqueness in the Science magazine study. A much more likely conclusion from the data is that less than 1% of the population is unique on four credit card transactions. The key point here is that having 90% unique individuals in his sample data does not translate directly to 90% unique individuals in the population—and the discrepancy can be huge.

The authors of the study drew conclusions based on uniqueness in the sample, which inflates the re-identification risks, especially when the sample is as small as 5%. This is a basic disclosure control principle. The actual risk value needs to be computed from the population.

The analysis in that article was incorrect and the estimates very likely exaggerated the re-identification risk.