Category Archives: Police State/Big Brother USA

Cops are the most obese workers in America, study reveals

Tim McFarlan reports for the Daily Mail:

‘Their job is to protect and serve – but it seems some police officers interpret this as an excuse to enjoy too many extra servings at the lunch table.

A study has revealed US cops have the highest rates of obesity among any profession in the country.

Along with firefighters and security guards, nearly 41 per cent of boys in blue are obese, according to a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.’

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U.S. Army’s Billion Dollar Surveillance Blimp to Launch over Maryland

Dan Froomkin reports for The Intercept:

Screen-Shot-2014-12-16-at-9.12.06-PM‘In just a few days, the Army will launch the first of two massive blimps over Maryland, the last gasp of an 18-year-long $2.8-billion Army project intended to use giant airships to defend against cruise missiles.

And while the blimps may never stave off a barrage of enemy missiles, their ability to spot and track cars, trucks and boats hundreds of miles away is raising serious privacy concerns.

The project is called JLENS – or “Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System.” And you couldn’t come up with a better metaphor for wildly inflated defense contracts, a ponderous Pentagon bureaucracy, and the U.S. surveillance leviathan all in one.’

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U.S. Supreme Court Says Ignorance Of The Law Is An Excuse — If You’re A Cop

Nicole Flatow reports for Think Progress:

police lights‘There is one simple concept that law students learn in their very first weeks of criminal law class: Ignorance of the law is no excuse. This principle means that when an individual violates the law, it doesn’t matter whether or not they knew what the law said. If it’s a crime, and they are found to have committed the elements of that crime, they are guilty.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the same standard doesn’t necessarily apply to police. In a splintered 8-1 ruling, the court found that cops who pulled over Nicholas Heien for a broken taillight were justified in a subsequent search of Heien’s car, even though North Carolina law says that having just one broken taillight is not a violation of the law.

The ruling means that police did not violate Heien’s rights when they later searched his car and found cocaine, and that the cocaine evidence can’t be suppressed at a later trial. But it also means that the U.S. Supreme Court declined the opportunity to draw a line limiting the scope of police stops, at a time when they are as rampant and racially disproportionate as ever. Instead, police may have considerably more leeway to stop passengers on the road, even in a number of jurisdictions that had previously said cops are not justified in mistakes of law.’

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Denver Cops Arrest Man Who Exposed Them Beating Man On Video While Promoting Cop Who Did The Beating

Carlos Miller reports for Photography Is Not A Crime:

‘A man who video recorded Denver police repeatedly punching a man in the face, causing his head to bounce off the pavement, before tripping his pregnant wife and causing her to fall on her face – sparking an FBI investigation into the department – was arrested Thursday in what appears to be a case of retaliation.

After all, Denver police not only arrested him on what they called a “newly activated traffic warrant” from a nearby county after he had just left the FBI office with whom he is cooperating on the federal investigation, they refused to allow him to bond out of jail, even though the warrant was regarding a measly missed court date over failure to provide proof of insurance and registration during a traffic stop a few months ago.

Denver police are obviously upset that upset Levi Frasier managed to recover the footage from his Samsung tablet after they had deleted it, which led to them being investigated by the feds.

Not that it stopped them from promoting the cop, Charles “Chris” Jones IV, seen on video punching the suspect to sergeant earlier this month.’

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U.S. Congress Secretly Legitimizes Questionable NSA Mass Surveillance Tool

Mike Masnick reports for Techdirt:

‘[…] For a while now, we’ve discussed executive order 12333, signed by President Ronald Reagan, which more or less gives the NSA unchecked authority to tap into any computer system not in the US. Over the summer, a former State Department official, John Napier Tye, basically blew the whistle on 12333 by noting that everyone focused on other NSA programs were missing the point. The NSA’s surveillance is almost entirely done under this authority, which has no Congressional oversight. All those other programs we’ve been arguing about — Section 215 of the Patriot Act or Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act — are really nothing more than ways to backfill the data the NSA has been unable to access under 12333. In other words, these other programs are the distraction. 12333 is the ballgame, and it has no Congressional oversight at all. It’s just a Presidential executive order.

Yet, what Amash and his staffers found is that a last minute change by the Senate Intelligence Committee to the bill effectively incorporated key parts of EO 12333 into law, allowing for “the acquisition, retention, and dissemination” of “nonpublic communications.” Here’s where those who slipped this bit into the law got sneaky. Recognizing that they might be called on it, they put it in with language noting that such information could only be held on to for five years — and then claimed what they were really doing was putting a limit on data already collected.’

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Secrets of the Deep State: Interview with Peter Dale Scott

Editor’s Note: Peter Dale Scott is a poet, a former diplomat, and a former English professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of many books including Deep Politics and the Death of JFKThe Road to 9/11 and The American Deep State. He also publishes regularly at The Asia Pacific Journal.

United Nations Panel Slams U.S. Record on Police Brutality, Torture, Child Migrants & Guantánamo

‘As protests continue over the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, the United States is facing pressure internationally over its failure to put a halt to police brutality. In a new report, the United Nations Committee Against Torture expresses deep concern over the “frequent and recurrent police shootings or fatal pursuits of unarmed black individuals.” The Committee also criticizes a number of other U.S. practices on torture and imprisonment, Guantánamo Bay, and the custody of migrants including children in “prison-like detention facilities.” We discuss the report’s findings with Dr. Jens Modvig, member of the Committee against Torture and one of two rapporteurs for its report.’ (Democracy Now!)

AURORAGOLD: How the NSA Hacks Cellphone Networks Worldwide

Ryan Gallagher writes for The Intercept:

map‘[…] According to documents contained in the archive of material provided to The Intercept by whistleblower Edward Snowden, the NSA has spied on hundreds of companies and organizations internationally, including in countries closely allied to the United States, in an effort to find security weaknesses in cellphone technology that it can exploit for surveillance.

The documents also reveal how the NSA plans to secretly introduce new flaws into communication systems so that they can be tapped into—a controversial tactic that security experts say could be exposing the general population to criminal hackers.

Codenamed AURORAGOLD, the covert operation has monitored the content of messages sent and received by more than 1,200 email accounts associated with major cellphone network operators, intercepting confidential company planning papers that help the NSA hack into phone networks.’

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Why It’s Impossible to Indict a Cop

Chase Madar wrote last week for The Nation:

Ferguson riot police‘How to police the police is a question as old as civilization, now given special urgency by a St. Louis County grand jury’s return of a “no bill” of indictment for Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson in his fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager, Michael Brown. The result is shocking to many, depressingly predictable to more than a few.

Can the cops be controlled? It’s never been easy: according to one old sociological chestnut, the monopoly on the legitimate use of violence is what defines modern government, and this monopoly is jealously protected against the second-guessing of puny civilians. All over the country, the issue of restraining police power is framed around the retribution against individual cops, from Staten Island to Milwaukee to Los Angeles. But is this the best way to impose discipline on law enforcement and roll back what even Republican appellate court appointees are calling rampant criminalization?’

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John Oliver on Civil Forfeiture

Obama’s Ferguson response will leave assault rifles and vehicles of war on American streets

Trevor Timm writes for The Guardian:

‘On Monday, one week after the American criminal justice system failed Michael Brown, US attorney general Eric Holder and President Obama had eloquent and powerful words for those in Ferguson and across the country who have been protesting the killing of another unarmed black teenager by a white cop, along with the militarization of this country’s local police forces. Yet on the same day, with the White House grabbing the opportunity to put forth a substantive plan for changing the relationship between law enforcement and the people it is sworn to protect, the Obama administration indicated that hardly anything might change at all.

Holder, in a speech at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, warned that if distrust between police and American citizens doesn’t change, it could “threaten the entire nation”. And Obama, in Washington, tried to assuade his many critics by saying, “There have been commissions before, there have been task forces, there have been conversations – and nothing happens. What I try to describe to people is why this time will be different.”

Why, then, as the White House finally released its report on the militarization of police, did it largely defend the variety of federal programs that funnel billions of dollars of weaponry and high-tech surveillance gear to local police every year? The report offered four milquetoast recommendations that included giving local police more money for body cameras and sensitivity training, while leaving every program – including the controversial Defense Department initiative known as 1033 that has sent assault rifles and armored mine-resistant vehicles to local cops – almost completely intact.’

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Killer Cop Who Choked Eric Garner Walks Free

Andy Cush reports for Gawker:

Killer Cop Who Choked Eric Garner Walks Free‘Daniel Pantaleo, the Staten Island NYPD officer who killed Eric Garner with a chokehold in July, will not face charges for the killing, a grand jury reportedly decided today. Garner, who was asthmatic, pled with police about his inability to breathe several times during the struggle that led to his death.

The NYPD’s own patrol guide explicitly prohibits chokeholds, and the death was ruled a homicide by the New York City medical examiner in August. Pantaleo was the target of two previous civil suits before Garner’s death.

Garner, a father of six, was was accused of illegally selling loose cigarettes. NY1, the New York Daily News, and CNN reported the Staten Island grand jury’s decision today.’

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How Every Part of American Life Became a Police Matter

Chase Madar writes for Tom Dispatch:

‘If all you’ve got is a hammer, then everything starts to look like a nail. And if police and prosecutors are your only tool, sooner or later everything and everyone will be treated as criminal. This is increasingly the American way of life, a path that involves “solving” social problems (and even some non-problems) by throwing cops at them, with generally disastrous results. Wall-to-wall criminal law encroaches ever more on everyday life as police power is applied in ways that would have been unthinkable just a generation ago.

By now, the militarization of the police has advanced to the point where “the War on Crime” and “the War on Drugs” are no longer metaphors but bland understatements. There is the proliferation of heavily armed SWAT teams, even in small towns; the use of shock-and-awe tactics to bust small-time bookies; the no-knock raids to recover trace amounts of drugs that often result in the killing of family dogs, if not family members; and in communities where drug treatment programs once were key, the waging of a drug version of counterinsurgency war. (All of this is ably reported on journalist Radley Balko’s blog and in his book, The Rise of the Warrior Cop.) But American over-policing involves far more than the widely reported up-armoring of your local precinct. It’s also the way police power has entered the DNA of social policy, turning just about every sphere of American life into a police matter.’

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FUCK THE POLICE

Why Investigative Journalist Barrett Brown Continues to be Indefinitely Imprisoned

Abby Martin speaks with Kevin Gallagher, Director of Free Barrett Brown, about the decision to delay investigative journalist Barrett Brown’s sentencing for posting a link to publically available security documents.’ (Breaking the Set)

Obama’s Record on Defending Civil and Constitutional Rights Abysmal: Interview with Michael Ratner

Editor’s Note: Michael Ratner is president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), president of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), and U.S. attorney for Julian Assange and Wikileaks. In this interview with the Real News, Ratner discusses the Obama administration’s policy towards Ferguson, the NSA, Gitmo and torture.

TSA Agent Confession: Dear America, I Saw You Naked

Jason Edward Harrington writes for Politico:

‘On Jan. 4, 2010, when my boss saw my letter to the editor in the New York Times, we had a little chat.

It was rare for the federal security director at Chicago O’Hare to sit down with her floor-level Transportation Security Administration officers—it usually presaged a termination—and so I was nervous as I settled in across the desk from her. She was a woman in her forties with sharp blue eyes that seemed to size you up for placement in a spreadsheet. She held up a copy of the newspaper, open to the letters page. My contribution, under the headline “To Stop a Terrorist: No Lack of Ideas,” was circled in blue pen.

One week earlier, on Christmas Day 2009, a man named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had tried to detonate 80 grams of a highly explosive powder while on Northwest Airlines Flight 253. He had smuggled the bomb aboard the plane in a pouch sewn into his underwear. It was a masterpiece of post-9/11 tragicomedy: Passengers tackled and restrained Abdulmutallab for the remainder of the flight, and he succeeded in burning nothing besides his own genitals.

The TSA saw the near-miss as proof that aviation security could not be ensured without the installation of full-body scanners in every U.S. airport. But the agency’s many critics called its decision just another knee-jerk response to an attempted terrorist attack. I agreed, and wrote to the Times saying as much. My boss wasn’t happy about it.’

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We Are the Enemy: Is This the Lesson of Ferguson?

John W. Whitehead writes:

‘[…] Ferguson matters because it provides us with a foretaste of what is to come. It is the shot across the bow, so to speak, a warning that this is how we will all be treated if we do not tread cautiously in challenging the police state, and it won’t matter whether we’re black or white, rich or poor, Republican or Democrat. In the eyes of the corporate state, we are all the enemy.

This is the lesson of Ferguson.

Remember that in the wake of the shooting, Ferguson police officers clad in body armor, their faces covered with masks, equipped with assault rifles and snipers and riding armored vehicles, showed up in force to deal with protesters. Describing that show of force by police in Ferguson, Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, stated, “This was a military force, and they were facing down an enemy.”

Yes, we are the enemy. As I point out in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, since those first towers fell on 9/11, the American people have been treated like enemy combatants, to be spied on, tracked, scanned, frisked, searched, subjected to all manner of intrusions, intimidated, invaded, raided, manhandled, censored, silenced, shot at, locked up, and denied due process.’

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Ferguson: Riot Double-Standard, Smoke and Mirrors Grand Jury & Activists Demand Accountability

Ferguson Erupts After Grand Jury Clears Officer in Michael Brown Killing

‘A grand jury in St. Louis, Missouri has chosen not to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager. The decision follows three months of deliberation by the jury of nine whites and three blacks, including four hours of testimony from Wilson himself. The grand jury decision set off outrage in Ferguson and communities across the country who see Brown’s killing as part of a wide-scale pattern of police mistreatment of people of color. In a statement, the Brown family said: “We are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions.” We hear from St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch and go to the streets of Ferguson where Amy Goodman interviewed protesters last night.’ (Democracy Now!)

Protesters Save Restaurant From Looters

Small Businesses Left In Ruins By Ferguson Looters

Ferguson shooting: Protests spread across U.S.

BBC News reports:

Demonstrators march on November 26, 2014 in Los Angeles during demonstrations against a decision by a Ferguson, Missouri grand jury to not indict a white police officer in the shooting of black teenager Michael Brown.‘A dozen US cities have seen new protests over the decision not to charge a white policeman who killed a black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri.

Demonstrations from New York to Seattle were largely peaceful but rioting broke out in Oakland, California.

There was some unrest in Ferguson itself, with police making 44 arrests, but the town did not see destruction on the scale of Monday night.

The officer who killed Michael Brown there says he has a “clean conscience”.’

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You Didn’t Really Think Darren Wilson Would Be Indicted, Did You?

Ron Jacobs writes for CounterPunch:

‘Did you really believe Darren Wilson was going to be indicted for murdering Michael Brown? Did you think a cop was going to face a trial for gunning down a young man he thought should be arrested? Do you think the law treats all people equally-civilian and cop, rich and poor, black and white? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you have been watching too much television. From the crime drama Law and Order to FoxNews and CNN the viewer is fed a constant storyline that portrays cops as heroes in a system that is ultimately fair, despite the fact that that fairness sometimes lets bad guys go.

If one listened carefully to the prosecutor McCulloch during his presentation to the media announcing the failure to indict Wilson, he seemed to be saying that there was never much likelihood that an indictment would be produced. Police officers, he said, are given much more leeway than civilians when it comes to shooting people. Recent history certainly proves this. It seems that all a cop has to do is “fear for his safety” and he can fire at will. Like James Bond in the 007 series, a police badge is a license to kill. If one adds the elements of race—an element that is part and parcel of the US system of justice and law enforcement—even greater leeway is provided to the police. Like the Supreme Court wrote over a century ago, African-Americans have “no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”’

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A Complete Guide to the Shooting of Michael Brown by Darren Wilson

Ryan Devereaux of The Intercept put together an excellent guide to the Michael Brown shooting days prior to the grand jury decision:

[…] Michael Brown’s killing, the culmination of an incident that the St. Louis Post Dispatch would later report lasted no more than 90 seconds, devastated a family with high hopes for their college-bound son and sparked some of the most significant civil rights demonstrations in a generation — casting a harsh light on the disproportionate number of black men killed by police, on St. Louis County’s exploitative and racially discriminatory municipal court system, and on the militarization of law enforcement.

In the months since Brown was killed, numerous eyewitnesses have come forward to describe what they saw during the teen’s final moments, while controversial disclosures to the press have served to describe Wilson’s version of the events that day.

This is everything we know about the shooting.’

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Ferguson Goes Under No-Fly Zone, Hampering Aerial News Coverage Of Protests

Think Progress reports:

Ferguson no fly zone‘The Federal Aviation Administration issued a no-fly zone over Ferguson, Missouri on Monday night, after a Grand Jury decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Mike Brown.

The reason listed for a no-fly zone is “TO PROVIDE A SAFE ENVIRONMENT FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITIES.” It extends up to 3,000 feet, effectively banning news helicopters in the area, as well as commercial flights.

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How Ferguson showed us the truth about police

Utah Considers Cutting Off Water to the NSA’s Monster Data Center

Robert McMillan reports for Wired:

An aerial view of the cooling units at the NSA's Utah Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah. Lawmakers are considering a bill that would shut off the water spigot to the massive data center operated by the National Security Agency in Bluffdale, Utah.

The legislation, proposed by Utah lawmaker Marc Roberts, is due to go to the floor of the Utah House of Representatives early next year, but it was debated in a Public Utilities and Technology Interim Committee meeting on Wednesday. The bill, H.B. 161, directs municipalities like Bluffdale to “refuse support to any federal agency which collects electronic data within this state.”

The NSA brought its Bluffdale data center online about a year ago, taking advantage Utah’s cheap power and a cut-rate deal for millions of gallons of local water, used to cool the 1-million-square-foot building’s servers. Roberts’ bill, however, would prohibit the NSA from negotiating new water deals when its current Bluffdale agreement runs out in 2021.’

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Seattle police may dump plans for body cams, citing records requests

Joe Mullin reports for Arstechnica:

Police in Seattle are just weeks away from implementing pilot program in which 12 officers will test different types of body cameras. It’s a first step in a plan to put body cameras on the department’s more than 1,000 officers by the year 2016.

Now that plan may get put on ice, due in part to an overly broad public records requests. The Seattle Times reported this morning that an anonymous man, known only by the email address policevideorequests@gmail.com, has made an official request for “details on every 911 dispatch on which officers are sent; all the written reports they produce; and details of each computer search generated by officers when they run a person’s name, or check a license plate or address.”

The requestor also wants all video from patrol car cameras currently in use, and plans to request video from body cams once they are implemented. He has requested the information “every day, in spreadsheet form.”‘

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Crime-Fighting Robots Go On Patrol In Silicon Valley