Justice Articles from 2018
US sets new record for censoring, withholding gov’t files
By Ted Bridis
Posted April 21, 2018
The federal government censored, withheld or said it couldn’t find records sought by citizens, journalists and others more often last year than at any point in the past decade, according to an Associated Press analysis of new data.
The calculations cover eight months under President Donald Trump, the first hints about how his administration complies with the Freedom of Information Act.
The surge of people who sought records but ended up empty-handed was driven by the government saying more than ever it could not find a single page of requested files and asserting in other cases that it would be illegal under U.S. laws to release the information.
People who asked for records under the Freedom of Information Act received censored files or nothing in 78 percent of 823,222 requests, a record over the past decade. When it provided no records, the government said it could find no information related to the request in a little over half those cases. More…
Donald Trump Ordered Syria Strike Based on a Secret Legal Justification Even Congress Can’t See
by Jon Schwarz
Posted April 17, 2018
On Friday night, President Trump ordered the U.S. military to conduct a bombing attack against the government of Syria without congressional authorization. How can this be constitutional, given the fact that Article I, Section 8 of America’s founding document declares that “The Congress shall have Power … To declare War”?
The deeply bizarre and alarming answer is that Trump almost certainly does have some purported legal justification provided to him by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel — but no one else, including Congress, can read it.
The Office of Legal Counsel is often called the Supreme Court of the executive branch, providing opinions on how the president and government agencies should interpret the law. More…
Turn Prisons Into Colleges
By Elizabeth Hinton
Posted April 16, 2018
Imagine if prisons looked like the grounds of universities. Instead of languishing in cells, incarcerated people sat in classrooms and learned about climate science or poetry — just like college students. Or even with them.
This would be a boon to prisoners across the country, a vast majority of whom do not have a high school diploma. And it could help shrink our prison population. While racial disparities in arrests and convictions are alarming, education level is a far stronger predictor of future incarceration than race. More…
US Aggression Towards Syria Escalates As Assange Remains Unable To Speak
by Elizabeth Vos
Posted April 15, 2018
Since Ecuador cut Julian Assange off from communication with the outside world two weeks ago, speculation has run rife on the nature of the driving forces behind Ecuador’s decision. With the drums of war now being sounded for the United States to enter into a full military attack on Assad in Syria, it is especially troubling that the Wikileaks Editor-In-Chief is prevented from expressing his views to the outside world.
Assange has long been an extremely effective and ardent anti-war voice, often promoting the work of like-minded thinkers. These include independent journalist Caitlin Johnstone, who has been one of the most vocal figures consistently crying out against U.S. intervention to topple yet another regime. Some Twitter users have also cited the possible connection between the latest escalation in tensions between the United States and Syria and the silencing of Assange, writing that his enforced isolation amounts to a direct effort to quell a uniquely powerful anti-war voice. More…
Video Shows Israeli Interrogators Making Threats Against Family of Palestinian Teen Ahed Tamimi
by Murtaza Hussain
Posted April 13, 2018
A video showing the interrogation of Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi was released by her family on Monday, with footage of Israeli interrogators threatening and intimidating the 17-year-old. At a press conference in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Tamimi’s father, Bassem, announced the release of the video, taken from an interrogation that she underwent on December 26 of last year, after she was detained for slapping an Israeli soldier during a raid on her house.
In the footage released to the public, Ahed Tamimi is shown sitting at a desk in an interrogator’s office, a week after she was detained during a raid on her home by Israeli forces. Two Israeli interrogators are seen questioning her about her involvement in recent protests. The men also make comments about her white skin and threaten to detain her family members if she fails to cooperate with them. More…
My First Day as CIA Director
By Ray McGovern
Posted April 12, 2018
Former CIA analyst and founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity Ray McGovern, in this tongue-in-cheek article, outlines steps he would take on Day One as CIA Director to get to the bottom of Russiagate.
Now that I have been nominated again – this time by author Paul Craig Roberts – to be CIA director, I am preparing to hit the ground running.
Last time my name was offered in nomination for the position – by The Nation publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel – I did not hold my breath waiting for a call from the White House. Her nomination came in the afterglow of my fortuitous, four-minute debate with then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, when I confronted him on his lies about the attack on Iraq, on May 4, 2006 on national TV. Since it was abundantly clear that Rumsfeld and I would not get along, I felt confident I had royally disqualified myself.
This time around, on the off-chance I do get the nod, I have taken the time to prepare the agenda for my first few days as CIA director. Here’s how Day One looks so far: More…
Armed and Dangerous: If Police Don’t Have to Protect the Public, What Good Are They?
By John W. Whitehead
Posted April 8, 2018
According to the U.S. Supreme Court, police have no duty, moral or otherwise, to help those in trouble, protect individuals from danger, or risk their own lives to save “we the people.”
In other words, you can be outraged that cops in Florida did nothing to stop the school shooter, but technically, it wasn’t part of their job description.
This begs the question: if the police don’t have a duty to protect the public, what are we paying them for? And who exactly do they serve if not you and me? More…
Leaked ICE Guide Offers Unprecedented View of Agency’s Asset Forfeiture Tactics
by Ryan Devereaux & Spencer Woodman
Posted April 1, 2018
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. More…
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