Justice Articles from 2017

Wells Fargo Reshuffles Board With Scandal-Ridden Insiders

[Economic]
Wells Fargo Reshuffles Board With Scandal-Ridden Insiders
by David Dayen
Posted September 4, 2017

Wells Fargo conducts business as usualWells Fargo, the current poster child for corporate crime recidivism, announced that three of its board members would step down at the end of the year, in a nod to the company’s many incidents of customer abuse. But, in an example of what passes for accountability in the modern age, they did not claw back any compensation from those board members. Instead, the departing board members were allowed to take an early retirement. And the replacements are either already on Wells Fargo’s payroll, or come from close corporate partners.

The board members will not have to give back annual salary, bonuses or stock options. They just get to move along. Wells Fargo described the changes in a statement as part of their “commitment to refreshment” of the board. This is part of a pattern with Wells Fargo. More…

Bad Laws Produce Bad Law Enforcement

[Justice]
Bad Laws Produce Bad Law Enforcement
By David W. Brown
Posted August 30 2017

aggressive policing influenced by bad lawsIn 1971, President Richard Nixon called drug abuse “public enemy number one,” and in prepared remarks declared, “In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive.” This prompted a shift in the way police operate, creating new funding streams that financially empowered law enforcement, jails, and prisons, focusing them in the local public-safety paradigm.

“[Police] were going to operate more like paramilitary forces fighting a wartime enemy,” Edwards says, “and less like community-oriented, problem-solving, public-health-driven police departments looking to figure out how to work with the community and other stakeholders to help people who have drug addictions and people in poverty seeking improved schools and job opportunities and viable alternatives to the black market, and thinking of intelligent long-term responses to drug use and sale.” More…

An Outdated Legal System Is Punishing Minor Offenses With Decades Of Jail Time

[Justice]
An Outdated Legal System Is Punishing Minor Offenses With Decades Of Jail Time
By Claire Bernish
Posted August 29, 2017

America has become a prison stateFor a nation lauding itself as the “land of the free,” the United States certainly maintains a remarkable number of laws criminalizing activities most would consider part of their daily lives. From kids penalized for setting up a lemonade stand to the prohibition of cannabis, seemingly everything Americans do has attached to it a law, license, permit, or regulation, as well as a consequent penalty.

A penalty — as a list of thousands killed by police in recent years during encounters surrounding countless non-violent “crimes” attests — up to and including death.

The U.S. justice system grapples with a number of systemic problems. Among them are unjustified yet unpunished police violence, the opioid epidemic – and other drug-related issues, as well as backlogged courts and a proclivity toward punitive incarceration — the result of which has rightfully garnered the U.S. a reputation internationally as a prison state. When debating reform in these and other areas, over-criminalization as a root cause is rarely considered. But it must be. More…

Nestlé can keep piping water from national forest, despite permit that is 28 years out of date

[Justice]
Nestlé can keep piping water from national forest, despite permit that is 28 years out of date
by Brett Kelman
Posted August 26, 2017

Nestle pays $540 to pump millions of gallons of water from public resourceA federal judge has ruled that a permit allowing Nestle to pipe water out of the San Bernardino National Forest is valid, despite the fact that the permit listed 1988 as the expiration date and was never renewed.

“The court has just confirmed what many Americans fear, massive corporations play by a different set of rules than the rest of us,” said Eddie Kurtz, executive director of the Courage Campaign Institute, another plaintiff, in a news release. “Nestlé has been pulling a fast one for nearly 30 years, taking a public resource, depriving plants and animals of life-sustaining water, and selling that water at an obscene profit without the right to do so, but apparently our justice system is OK with that.” More…

Julian Assange: The CIA director is waging war on truth-tellers like WikiLeaks

[Political]
Julian Assange: The CIA director is waging war on truth-tellers like WikiLeaks
by Julian Assange
Posted August 25, 2017

Mike Pompeo targets free speechMike Pompeo, in his first speech as director of the CIA, chose to declare war on free speech rather than on the United States’ actual adversaries. He went after WikiLeaks, where I serve as editor, as a “non-state hostile intelligence service.” In Pompeo’s worldview, telling the truth about the administration can be a crime — as Attorney General Jeff Sessions quickly underscored when he described my arrest as a “priority.” News organizations reported that federal prosecutors are weighing whether to bring charges against members of WikiLeaks, possibly including conspiracy, theft of government property and violating the Espionage Act.

All this speech to stifle speech comes in reaction to the first publication in the start of WikiLeaks’ “Vault 7” series. Vault 7 has begun publishing evidence of remarkable CIA incompetence and other shortcomings. This includes the agency’s creation, at a cost of billions of taxpayer dollars, of an entire arsenal of cyber viruses and hacking programs — over which it promptly lost control and then tried to cover up the loss. These publications also revealed the CIA’s efforts to infect the public’s ubiquitous consumer products and automobiles with computer viruses. More…

Jeff Sessions Endorses Theft

[Justice]
Jeff Sessions Endorses Theft
Written by Ron Paul
Posted August 25, 2017

Attorney General Sessions supports theftAttorney General Jeff Sessions recently ordered the Justice Department to increase the use of civil asset forfeiture, thus once again endorsing an unconstitutional, authoritarian, and increasingly unpopular policy.

Civil asset forfeiture, which should be called civil asset theft, is the practice of seizing property believed to be involved in a crime. The government keeps the property even if it never convicts, or even charges, the owner of the property.

Police can even use civil asset theft to steal from people whose property was used in criminal activity without the owners’ knowledge. Some have even lost their homes because a renter or house guest was dealing drugs on the premises behind the owners’ backs. More…

Rand Paul introduces bill to reform civil asset forfeiture

[Justice]
Rand Paul introduces bill to reform civil asset forfeiture
By Radley Balko
Posted August 23, 2017

Rand Paul introduces civil asset forfeiture reform billSen. Rand Paul has introduced S. 2644, the FAIR (Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration) Act, which would protect the rights of citizens and restore the Fifth Amendment’s role in seizing property without due process of law. Under current law, law enforcement agencies may take property suspected of involvement in crime without ever charging, let alone convicting, the property owner. In addition, state agencies routinely use federal asset forfeiture laws; ignoring state regulations to confiscate and receive financial proceeds from forfeited property.

The FAIR Act would change federal law and protect the rights of property owners by requiring that the government prove its case with clear and convincing evidence before forfeiting seized property. More…

Psychologists, Architects of CIA Experimental Torture Program

[Justice]
Psychologists, Architects of CIA Experimental Torture Program
By Kevin Gosztola
Posted August 21, 2017

James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen have earned their place in infamyTwo CIA psychologists, who were architects of the CIA’s torture program, have resorted to defense arguments once used by accused Nazi war criminals in order to claim they should not be held liable for torture.

James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen were contracted by the CIA to develop, implement, and personally administer the agency’s experimental torture program against detainees in the War on Terrorism.

John Kiriakou, the former CIA officer who blew the whistle on the agency’s use of waterboarding in the torture program, reacted, “This just cements their place in history—and not just in history but in infamy.” “When they have to rely on the defenses of accused Nazi war criminals to defend themselves, [they] can’t go any lower,” Kiriakou added. More…

By 2006, the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association had both issued decrees prohibiting their members from participating in interrogations. However the American Psychological Association had not, and they continued to stonewall against declaring torture as immoral for years.
Psychologists’ Involvement in Torture and the APA

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