Civil Freedoms Under Threat

  • A new study shows how government-collected “anonymous” data can be used to profile you

    Source: Quartz. The US government has said that it only collected data about calls—“metadata” that includes when they were made, to whom, and how long they lasted—but not the content of those calls. The government argued that this data is anonymous. But the problem is that in the mass collection of metadata, it is highly likely that ordinary citizens’ privacy can be breached, and then anonymity becomes a moot point. A new study shows just how easy it is to do that. When researchers at Stanford University compared call metadata collected from some 800 volunteers with publicly available data on the internet, they were able to accurately identify more than 80% of them.

  • Solitary confinement is used to break people — I know because I endured it

    Source: Truthout. Solitary confinement. Administrative segregation. Administrative detention. Restrictive housing. Temporary confinement. Protective custody. Appropriate placement. There are many names for solitary confinement. In the Illinois prisons where I was incarcerated, it was called “segregation,” but most of the women called it “seg” or “jail.” No matter the language, it is all solitary — and it is torture.

  • The FBI’s secret biometrics database they don’t want you to see

    Source: RT. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) wants to prevent information about its creepy biometric database, which contains fingerprint, face, iris, and voice scans of millions of Americans, from getting out to the public. The Department of Justice has come up with a proposal to exempt the biometric database from public disclosure. It states that the Next Generation Identification System (NGI) should not be subject to the Privacy Act, which requires federal agencies to give people access to records that have been collected concerning them, “allowing them to verify and correct them if needed.”

  • ‘Everything…was a lie’: Former CIA analyst, John Kiriakou on the agency deleting torture report

    Source: RT. The CIA’s Inspector General Office reportedly “inadvertently” deleted its only copy of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Torture Report, but CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou tells RT that the American people shouldn’t believe what the agency says. Former CIA analyst John Kiriakou, who served time in jail for being the first to blow the whistle on the CIA’s use of waterboarding, told RT he was not surprised that the agency is saying it had destroyed the copy. Kiriakou was surprised, however, at the agency’s attempts to convince the committee that the erasure had been an accident. “It is not an accident. You can’t accidentally destroy a 6,700 page document. You cannot accidentally destroy the electronic copy, especially when these documents are numbered. There are only about a dozen that exist anywhere in the world,” Kiriakou said.

  • Plot to blow up Aventura synagogue ends with man’s arrest

    Source: Miami Herald. A Hollywood man accused of trying to blow up an Aventura synagogue stood in Miami federal court on Monday and gave the judge two names — one real, the other an alias. “My name is James Medina, also known as ‘James Muhammad,’ ” Medina told Magistrate Judge William Turnoff. James G. Medina Miami-Dade County Corrections James G. Medina, 40, was arrested by federal agents on a charge of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction against the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center, 20400 NE 30th Ave., during services on Friday. The actual bomb — sold to him in Hallandale Beach by an FBI undercover operative just before the planned terror attack — was a dummy, authorities said.

  • Letter details FBI plan for secretive anti-radicalization committees

    Source: The Intercept. The idea of the FBI’s “Shared Responsibility Committees” is to enlist counselors, social workers, religious figures, and other community members to intervene with people the FBI thinks are in danger of radicalizing — the sort of alternative to prosecution and jail time many experts have been clamoring for. The Intercept has obtained a letter addressed to potential committee members from the FBI, outlining how the process would work. While the letter claims that committees will not be used “as a means to gather intelligence,” it also makes clear that information from the committees may be shared widely by the FBI, including with spy agencies and foreign governments, and that committee members can be subpoenaed for documents or called to testify in cases against the people they are trying to help. At the same time, committee members are forbidden even from seeking advice from outside experts without permission from the FBI.

  • Torture? Really?

    Courthouse News Service. Next time Ted Cruz or Donald Trump endorses torture, someone in the herd of sheep who masquerade as national reporters should ask Trump and Cruz if they would torture someone with their own hands. And if not: Why would they ask someone else to do it? Cruz and Trump don’t know a damn thing about torture. But I do. I’ve known hundreds of torture victims, and several torturers.

  • Court rules warrantless collection of cellphone location data constitutional

    Source: The Guardian. A federal appellate panel on Wednesday rejected a constitutional challenge to warrantless collection of cellphone location records, increasing the potential for the US supreme court to consider the legality of the practice. Timothy Carpenter and Timothy Sanders, who were convicted for their role in a string of cellphone store robberies, argued the practice was a constitutional violation under the fourth amendment. A brief filed by the American Civil Liberties Union noted that the location tracking in this case reveals the “extraordinary private details” police can obtain via location tracking, including where the defendants may worship and who they may be sleeping with.

  • Cleveland buys riot-control gear for Republican National Convention

    Source: Cleveland will spend $848,640 on riot-control suits and batons for police working during the upcoming Republican National Convention, following a vote from a city contracting panel on Wednesday. The city will file for the purchases to be reimbursed under a $50 million federal grant to pay for security for the GOP convention, scheduled for July 18-21 in downtown Cleveland.

  • My Story, by Laila Yaghi, Mother of Ziyad Yaghi

    My Story, by Laila Yaghi, Mother of Ziyad Yaghi A Visit With My Son 3/28/16   Every time I approach my computer to write, I become frozen and run away from the fact of facing my fears, my reality. I feel like running for eternity and not turning back! I […]