Government Policies Under Scrutiny

  • Mohamed Mohamud appeal is first to challenge NSA surveillance in terrorism conviction

    Source: The Oregonian. The U.S. spy operations that once put Portland terrorist Mohamed Mohamud under FBI surveillance violated his constitutional right against unlawful search and seizure, two civil liberties groups contend in a federal appeals court filing. Lawyers for the ACLU and Electronic Frontier Foundation recently filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of Mohamud, who has appealed his 30-year-sentence for trying to detonate a bomb in downtown Portland four years ago.

  • No-fly list case could shed light on US terror predictions

    Source: Associated Press. A court challenge over the difficult process for airline passengers to remove their names from the U.S. government’s list of suspected terrorists banned from flying is taking an unexpected twist, now focusing on the mysterious ways federal agents add passenger names to the no-fly list in the first place. The latest filing in a five-year federal case challenges the government’s undisclosed method of predicting who might commit a terrorist act in the future. Plaintiffs in the case, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, want the government to provide all the reasons, including evidence, why they are on the no-fly list, a roster of tens of thousands of people banned from flying to, from, within or over the U.S. They want to challenge those reasons in a court hearing.

  • U.N. gives U.S. flunking grades on privacy and surveillance rights

    Source: The Intercept. The United States scores very low when it comes to protecting its citizens’ privacy, according to a new United Nations Human Rights Committee review. The committee issued mid-term report cards for several countries on Tuesday based on how well they have adhered to and implemented its recommendations related to the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, an international treaty outlining the civil and political rights of all individuals. The U.S. performance in several aspects of protecting privacy was graded “not satisfactory.” In particular, the committee noted that the U.S. government failed to establish an adequate oversight system to make sure privacy rights are being upheld, and failed to make sure that any breaches of privacy were regulated and authorized by strict law, such as requiring a warrant. The lowest grade reflected the U.S.’s failure to “Ensure affected persons have access to effective remedies in cases of abuse.”

  • Family of Muslim leader killed by FBI in Dearborn seeks answers

    Source: Detroit Free Press. More than five years after the FBI’s shooting death of a Muslim leader in Dearborn, his family is still trying to find out what happened and the names of those who shot him during a sting operation, maintaining there was a cover-up by federal authorities. This month, the family asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its case. Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, 53, of Detroit, was struck 20 times on October 28, 2009, inside a Dearborn warehouse as part of an undercover counterterrorism operation investigating what the FBI said were his extremist views and trafficking in stolen goods.

  • “Citizenfour” filmmaker Laura Poitras is suing the U.S. over years of alleged harassment

    Source: Time. Oscar and Pulitzer Prize-winning filmmaker Laura Poitras filed a lawsuit Monday against the U.S. government to find out why she has been searched, questioned and subject to enhanced security screenings over the course of six years at U.S. and overseas airports. Poitras, who won an Academy Award this year for Citizenfour, her documentary about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, claims that between 2006 and 2012 she was detained every time she entered the U.S. for work.

  • Judge orders U.S. to prepare Guantanamo force-feeding tapes for release

    Source: Newsweek, A federal judge on Friday ordered the Obama administration to prepare eight videotapes depicting the force-feeding of former Guantanamo detainee Abu Wa’el Dhiab for public release.
    In a U.S. district court in Washington, D.C., Judge Gladys Kessler ruled that the government must complete redactions—editing out parts of the videos that are a threat to national security—before August 31, 2015. Other key redactions must be completed by September 30.

  • Appeals court sets aside conviction of bin Laden assistant

    Source: Associated Press Appeals court sets aside conviction of bin Laden assistant By: Sam Hananel A federal appeals court on Friday threw out the only remaining conviction against a Guantanamo Bay detainee who had served as Osama bin Laden’s personal assistant, setting new restrictions on the use of military commissions […]

  • Court rules to keep classified ‘torture’ docs secret

    Source: The Hill. A district court judge on Wednesday blocked an effort by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to force the CIA to turn over classified records about brutal interrogation programs the agency used to run. While a 500-page declassified version of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s “torture report” was released last December, the full, 6,900-page version remains classified. So does a controversial set of CIA documents created as part of an internal review started by former Director Leon Panetta.

  • US cited for police violence, racism in scathing UN review on human rights

    Source: AlJazeera America. The United States was slammed over its rights record Monday at the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, with member nations criticizing the country for police violence and racial discrimination, the Guantánamo Bay Detention Facility and the continued use of the death penalty. The issue of racism and police brutality dominated the discussion on Monday during the country’s second universal periodic review (UPR). Country after country recommended that the U.S. strengthen legislation and expand training to eliminate racism and excessive use of force by law enforcement.

  • Court rules NSA program illegal

    Source: CNN. A federal appeals court ruled on Thursday that the telephone metadata collection program, under which the National Security Agency gathers up millions of phone records on an ongoing daily basis, is illegal under the Patriot Act.