Government Policies Under Scrutiny

  • Lawsuit Filed Against Chicago Police Over Stop-and-Frisk

    Source: Associated Press. Police Department officers have routinely violated the constitutional rights of minority residents who have not committed any crime with stop, question and frisk encounters, a federal lawsuit claims.The lawsuit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court on behalf of six African-American residents of Chicago and seeks class-action status. It names the city of Chicago, police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and 14 unnamed officers.The lawsuit alleges the street stops have led to constitutional abuses, including unlawful searches and seizures as well as excessive force.

  • FBI admits flaws in hair analysis over decades

    Source: The Washington Post. The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000. Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country’s largest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence.

  • The FBI informant who mounted a sting operation against the FBI

    Source: The Intercept. Saeed Torres is an FBI informant, one of more than 15,000 domestic spies who make up the largest surveillance network ever created in the United States. Torres agreed to participate in the independent film, (T)ERROR, which has its New York premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 16. He offers the rest of us an unprecedented look inside an FBI counterterrorism sting as it unfolds. The documentary is compelling for its intimate portrayal of a single informant who has played a key role in several major terrorism cases.

  • Court denies FOIA request for Panetta Review on CIA torture

    Source: Just Security. U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg today said that the CIA is not obligated to release the Panetta Review, an internal review of the CIA’s torture program that was heavily relied on during the drafting of the Senate Intelligence Committee (SSCI) torture report. In December 2013, Vice News’ Jason Leopold submitted a FOIA request to the CIA seeking the “internal study” now known as the Panetta Review after then-Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) publicly referenced it during a Senate hearing. The study is said to contain a scathing review of the agency’s post-9/11 interrogation and detention methods. Needless to say, the CIA has fought its release, claiming numerous exemptions from FOIA apply to the classified report.

  • Supreme Court justices blast the corrections system

    Source: Think Progress. The prisons are one of the most misunderstood institutions of government. Solitary confinement drives individuals insane. And mandatory minimum sentences are a bad idea. These were the assertions of U.S. Supreme Court Justices Anthony Kennedy and Stephen Breyer in testimony before a House Appropriations subcommittee Monday afternoon. Asked by Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR) about United States “capacity to deal with people with our current prison and jail overcrowding,” each justice gave an impassioned response in turn, calling on Congress to make things better. “In many respects, I think it’s broken,” Kennedy said of the corrections system.

  • FBI ordered by judge to release files on surveillance & infiltration of Muslim communities,including mosques

    Source:Firedoglake. The FBI has effectively been ordered to release numerous files on surveillance against Muslim communities in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, including infiltration of mosques. Judge Richard Seeborg of the Northern District of California found the FBI could not invoke a “law enforcement” exemption in the Freedom of Information Act, which is commonly used by government agencies to prevent details of policies and operations from becoming public if harm would potentially occur.

  • ACLU files new lawsuit over Obama administration drone ‘kill list’

    Source: The Guardian. As the US debates expanding its campaign against the Islamic State beyond Iraq and Syria, the leading US civil liberties group is intensifying its efforts to force transparency about lethal US counterterrorism strikes and authorities. On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) will file a disclosure lawsuit for secret Obama administration documents specifying, among other things, the criteria for placement on the so-called “kill list” for drone strikes and other deadly force.

  • Holder: Standard in civil rights cases ‘too high’

    Source: USA Today. Attorney General Eric Holder, during his final weeks in office, plans to ask Congress to lower the standard of proof in federal civil rights cases, a change that would make the federal government “a better backstop” against discrimination in cases like the deaths of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, according to NBC News and POLITICO.

  • Holder fortifies protection of news media’s phone records, notes or emails

    Source: The New York Times. For most of his time as attorney general, Mr. Holder oversaw a crackdown on government officials who talked to reporters about national security without permission, bringing more charges against people accused of leaking information than all of his predecessors combined. He also approved subpoenas for numerous journalists. But he recently said that the effort went too far at times. Mr. Holder first began reviewing the news media guidelines in 2013 during heavy criticism after prosecutors seized some telephone records from The Associated Press and labeled a Fox News reporter, James Rosen, a potential criminal co-conspirator for asking about classified information. He announced revisions last February that made it significantly harder, though not impossible, to demand phone records, notes or emails from news organizations.

  • New York police officers are quick to resort to chokeholds, Inspector General finds

    Source: The New York Times. The first investigation by New York City’s police inspector general includes the finding that in several cases where officers were found to have used a chokehold, the banned maneuver was the officer’s initial physical response to verbal resistance. The 45-page report, released on Monday, follows the death in July of Eric Garner on Staten Island after an arresting officer placed him in a chokehold, a tactic that was banned by the Police Department two decades ago. The report looks at officers’ ongoing use of chokeholds and the department’s handling of such actions.