Justice Articles from 2018
A New Broadband Network Is Pitching Surveillance Enhancements to Cops Across the Country
by Simon Davis-Cohen
Posted September 19, 2018
The latest technologies promise cops the ability to whip out a smartphone, take a snapshot of a passerby, and instantly learn if that person is in an immigration or gang database.
A federal broadband program, designed after 9/11 to improve first responder communication during emergencies, will enhance this sort of capability and integrate it into an internet “super highway” built specifically for police and public safety. The program, called FirstNet, is already expanding the surveillance options available to law enforcement agencies across the country.
According to publicly available documents, as well as interviews with program participants, stakeholders, and government researchers, FirstNet will help agencies like U.S. Customs and Border Protection communicate with local police, deliver more information to officers’ hands, accelerate the nascent law enforcement app industry, and provide public safety agencies with new privileges and powers over AT&T’s commercial broadband network. More…
Captive Audience: How Companies Make Millions Charging Prisoners to Send An Email
by Victoria Law
Posted September 18, 2018
Inside prisons, e-messaging companies are quietly building a money-making machine virtually unhindered by competition—a monopoly that would be intolerable in the outside world. It’s based in a simple formula: Whatever it costs to send a message, prisoners and their loved ones will find a way to pay it.
And, the more ways prisoners are cut off from communicating with their families, the better it is for business. Which means that stamp by stamp, companies like JPay—and the prisons that accept a commission with each message— are profiting from isolation of one of the most vulnerable groups in the country. And, with prisoners typically earning 20 cents to 95 cents an hour in jobs behind bars, the cost of keeping in touch most likely falls to family members and friends. More…
Explaining Secret Surveillance
by Jake Laperruque
Posted September 15, 2018
Last week the government released a redacted copy of the application for a warrant to surveil Carter Page, a former Trump campaign aide who was monitored pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) starting in October 2016, after his tenure with the campaign ended. This surveillance has garnered significant political controversy, notably in a memo written by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.).
The memo alleged that the Department of Justice misled the court by hiding politically motivated funding of the so-called Steele dossier, which alleges coordination between Trump campaign officials and Russia, and was cited in the Page application. The Constitution Project at POGO criticized the Nunes memo when it came out for misrepresenting FISA and privacy risks related to the law. Now that we can directly read the warrant application at issue, we want to dive into more detail about how FISA works, whether any accusations about impropriety hold up, and what the biggest problems with FISA surveillance truly are. More…
I traced missile casings in Syria back to their original sellers
by Robert Fisk
Posted September 14, 2018
Readers, a small detective story. Note down this number: MFG BGM-71E-1B. And this number: STOCK NO 1410-01-300-0254. And this code: DAA A01 C-0292. I found all these numerals printed on the side of a spent missile casing lying in the basement of a bombed-out Islamist base in eastern Aleppo last year. At the top were the words “Hughes Aircraft Co”, founded in California back in the 1930s by the infamous Howard Hughes and sold in 1997 to Raytheon, the massive US defence contractor whose profits last year came to $23.35bn (£18bn). Shareholders include the Bank of America and Deutsche Bank. Raytheon’s Middle East offices can be found in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Egypt, Turkey and Kuwait.
There were dozens of other used-up identical missile casings in the same underground room in the ruins of eastern Aleppo, with sequential codings; in other words, these anti-armour missiles – known in the trade as Tows, “Tube-launched, optically tracked and wire-guided missiles” – were not individual items smuggled into Syria through the old and much reported CIA smugglers’ trail from Libya. These were shipments, whole batches of weapons that left their point of origin on military aircraft pallets. More…
Looking Back on the Prosecution Failures after the 2008 Wall Street Crash
By James A. Kidney
Posted September 12, 2018
As the nation approaches the 10th anniversary of the demise of Lehman Brothers, which is popularly pegged as the beginning of the Great Recession, one is struck by the current events that tie back to the world-wide financial crisis of a decade ago.
Big Wall Street banks are as up to their necks in risky derivatives, as in 2008.
Once again, the political powers are reveling in a long bull market and listening to wealthy bankers proclaim a pressing need to be relieved of minimal regulation.
In the view of some, current threats to the market economy are reminiscent of 2008, along with pollyannaish predictions from lawmakers and regulators from the White House on down that all is sound. More…
More and More of What We Do Depends on Government Permission
by J.D. Tuccille
Posted September 10, 2018
Do you have permit for that? If you want to keep that permit, you’d better do as you’re told.
Increasingly, that’s the theme of modern America. More and more of what we do is dependent on permission from the government. That permission, unsurprisingly, is contingent on keeping government officials happy. Rub those officials the wrong way and they’ll strip you of permission to travel the roads, leave the country, or even make a living.
That’s not a recipe for a free country. More…
Overthrowing other people’s governments: The Master List
By William Blum
Posted September 6, 2018
Instances of the United States overthrowing, or attempting to overthrow, a foreign government since the Second World War. (* indicates successful ouster of a government)
-China 1949 to early 1960s
-East Germany 1950s
-Iran 1953 *
-Guatemala 1954 *
-Costa Rica mid-1950s
Vigilantes with a Badge: Warrior Cops Endanger Our Lives and Freedoms
By John W. Whitehead
Posted September 5, 2018
I have known a lot of good cops, I have defended a lot of good cops, and I have been fortunate to call a number of good cops friends.
So when I say that warrior cops—hyped up on their own authority and the power of the badge—have not made America any safer or freer, I am not disrespecting any of the fine, decent, lawful police officers who take seriously their oath of office to serve and protect their fellow citizens, uphold the Constitution, and maintain the peace.
My beef is with the growing squads of warrior cops who have been given the green light to kill, shoot, taser, abuse and steal from American citizens in the so-called name of law and order.
These cops are little more than vigilantes with a badge.
A new study by a political scientist at Princeton University concludes that militarizing police and SWAT teams “provide no detectable benefits in terms of officer safety or violent crime reduction.” More…
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