Justice Articles from 2017
YouTube and Facebook Are Removing Evidence of Atrocities, Jeopardizing Cases Against War Criminals
by Avi Asher-Schapiro
Posted November 24, 2017
Social media evidence is increasingly used to build cases against perpetrators of abuses by human rights organizations, by European courts that have “universal jurisdiction” and can bring war crimes charges, and by United Nations investigators.
Over the summer, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for a Libyan commander accused of extrajudicial killings on the battlefield, basing the warrant, in part, on videos posted to Facebook. (One of the prosecutors on that case is Nicholls, the ICC lawyer who frets about atrocity evidence disappearing on social media.) Last year in Germany, an ISIS fighter was found guilty of posing with decapitated prisoners based in part on evidence found on Facebook.
This year, in Sweden, Syrian regime and rebel fighters were successfully prosecuted for war crimes using evidence from both Facebook and YouTube. In total, there are 30 ongoing war crimes investigations in Swedish and German courts connected to crimes committed in Syria and Iraq. On the other side of the world, the government of Myanmar has barred NGOs and aid agencies from entering northern parts of the country, where human rights groups say a genocide is taking place against the Rohingya population. Human rights workers are often reliant on social media evidence to document the atrocities. More…
Is Trump a Blessing or a Curse to the Deep State?
By John W. Whitehead
Posted November 22, 2017
The moral choice before us is clear: it is the choice between tyranny and freedom, dictatorship and autonomy, peaceful slavery and dangerous freedom, and manufactured pipe dreams of what America used to be versus the gritty reality of what she is today.
We are still viewed as relatively expendable in the eyes of government: faceless numbers of individuals who serve one purpose, which is to keep the government machine running through our labor and our tax dollars.
We are still being made to suffer countless abuses at the government’s hands.
We still have little protection against standing armies (domestic and military), invasive surveillance, marauding SWAT teams, an overwhelming government arsenal of assault vehicles and firepower, and a barrage of laws that criminalize everything from vegetable gardens to lemonade stands. More…
The FBI’s Forgotten Criminal Record
by James Bovard
Posted November 18, 2017
President Trump’s firing of FBI chief James Comey on May 9 spurred much of the media and many Democrats to rally around America’s most powerful domestic federal agency. But the FBI has a long record of both deceit and incompetence. Five years ago, Americans learned that the FBI was teaching its agents that “the FBI has the ability to bend or suspend the law to impinge on the freedom of others.” This has practically been the Bureau’s motif since its creation in 1908.
The FBI’s power has rarely been effectively curbed by either Congress or federal courts. In 1971, House Majority Leader Hale Boggs declared that the FBI’s power terrified Capitol Hill: “Our very fear of speaking out [against the FBI] … has watered the roots and hastened the growth of a vine of tyranny…. Our society cannot survive a planned and programmed fear of its own government bureaus and agencies.” Boggs vindicated a 1924 American Civil Liberties Union report warning that the FBI had become “a secret police system of a political character” — a charge that supporters of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump would have cheered last year. More…
Nullification in One Lesson
by Derek Sheriff
Posted November 10, 2017
For anyone unfamiliar with the concept of state nullification, it was the idea expressed by then sitting vice president Thomas Jefferson when he authored what came to be known as the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798. The resolutions made the case that the federal government is a creature of the states, and that states have the authority to judge the constitutionality of the federal government’s laws and decrees. He also argued that states should refuse to enforce laws which they deem unconstitutional.
Nullification carries with it the force of state or local law. It cannot be legally repealed by Congress without amending the U.S .Constitution. It cannot be lawfully abolished by an executive order. It cannot be overruled by the Supreme Court if the people in the state reject the Court’s opinion. It is the people of a state or local community asserting their rights, acting as a political society in its highest sovereign capacity. It is the moderate, middle way that wisely avoids harsh remedies like secession on the one hand, and slavish, unlimited submission on the other.
It is the constitutional remedy for unconstitutional federal laws. More…
Leaked ICE Guide Offers Unprecedented View of Agency’s Asset Forfeiture Tactics
by Ryan Devereaux and Spencer Woodman
Posted November 8, 2017
An internal handbook obtained by The Intercept provides a rare view into the extensive asset seizure operations of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations, an office that trains its agents to meticulously appraise the value of property before taking it.
HSI’s 71-page “Asset Forfeiture Handbook,” dated June 30, 2010, underscores the role seizures play in “helping to fund future law enforcement actions” and covering costs “that HSI would otherwise be unable to fund.” It thus offers an unprecedented window into ICE’s wide-ranging asset forfeiture operations and the premium the agency places on seizing valuable property. Forfeiture proceeds can bolster ICE’s partnerships with local police departments, which are now the subject of heightened debate given the Trump administration’s hard-line immigration agenda.
ICE confirmed to The Intercept that the handbook reflects the agency’s most up-to-date guidance on asset forfeiture. Agents under its instruction are asked to weigh the competing priorities of law enforcement versus financial profit and to “not waste instigative time and resources” on assets it calls “liabilities” — which include properties that are not profitable enough for the federal government to justify seizing. “As a general rule, if total liabilities and costs incurred in seizing a real property or business exceed the value of the property, the property should not be seized,” the document states. More…
What Happened Thursday to the JFK Records?
by Rex Bradford
Posted October 30, 2017
What happened on Thursday, October 26, with the JFK records scheduled for release under the JFK Records Act? A travesty. Most news reports correctly noted the release of about 2,800 documents, but added that only a few were held back, in some cases saying “300 documents” remain withheld (see CNN, and Washington Post for example). They are off by a factor of 100. In fact, tens of thousands of documents, possibly as many as 30,000, remain sealed at the National Archives.
If President Donald Trump had gone golfing at Mar-A-Lago and done absolutely nothing on Thursday, the National Archives (NARA) would have released all documents, as it was set to do. See the relevant language in the Assassination Records Review Board’s Final Report, quoting from the 1992 JFK Records Act.
This includes 3,147 “withheld in full” records never seen, and an unknown number of redacted documents estimated at about 30,000. Intensely lobbied by federal agencies including the CIA, Trump instead authorized the withholding of well over 90% of these documents. 52 of the 3,147 withheld-in-full records were released and put online by NARA, less than 2%, and 2,839 of the redacted documents were released, which is probably less than 10% of that set. More…
Forced arbitration: Big banks’ ‘Star Chamber’
by Colin Hanna
Posted October 30, 2017
Elbridge Gerry was a colonial-era plutocrat who became a patriot, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a champion of equal justice under the law. He initially refused to assent to the Constitution, although he attended the Convention, because it lacked a Bill of Rights.
One of his more famous sayings was that “a tribunal without juries would be a Star Chamber in civil cases” — “Star Chamber” being a reference to the supervisory English court known best for protecting friends of the king and persecuting his enemies.
One of the rights insisted upon by Gerry– echoed by Founders ranging from Madison, Adams, Hamilton, and Jefferson to Marshall – was trial by jury in civil as well as criminal cases, which they saw as an indispensable instrument for protecting freedoms. In fact, Gerry moved not once but twice to add it to the Constitution’s original text. Ultimately, the First Congress enumerated this critical protection in the Seventh Amendment. More…
Advanced Correctional Healthcare’s Brutal Brand Of Jailhouse Medicine
By Brian Sonenstein
Posted October 26, 2017
Timothy Strayer was approaching 70 years of age and suffering from multiple chronic illnesses in the summer of 2011 when he was arrested for marijuana possession with the intent to sell. One year later, his family launched a federal civil rights lawsuit that is still in progress to this day, alleging the sheriff, guards and the private healthcare company contracted to provide medical care at the jail, Advanced Correctional Healthcare (ACH), failed to provide for his obvious and critical medical needs, allowing his health to deteriorate to the point that he would need to be hospitalized for nearly 200 days.
Shadowproof conducted a three month investigation of ACH and the Strayer family’s story. Through multiple interviews, analysis of several active federal civil rights lawsuits, hundreds of pages of medical board records, corporate documents and county meeting minutes, we uncovered shockingly similar allegations of abuse and misconduct involving ACH and the doctors who were responsible for Strayer’s care, as well as a valuable glimpse into the mindset of a little-known but highly-profitable industry thriving in jails and prisons across the nation. More…
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