Archive for November, 2006

Padilla Case Questioned

20 November 2006

The case against Jose Padilla is losing ground, according to the Washington Post. In June of 2002, Padilla was arrested and designated an “enemy combatant” by President Bush. The case against him, however, is becoming increasingly questionable.

One issue is that, of the 50,000 FBI wiretapped recordings in the case, Padilla is only actually heard on eight of them; and none of the ones he’s on mention violence.

It is also possible that Padilla was abused in prison and forced to take drugs such as LSD.

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NSA Q&A

19 November 2006

No doubt there are a number of Americans who have questions about their privacy, especially in regards to the NSA. It just so happens that the NSA website has those questions on its website, with the answers as well. For instance:

Americans expect NSA to conduct its missions within the law. But given the inherently secret nature of those missions, how can Americans be sure that the Agency does not invade their privacy?

The 4th Amendment of the Constitution demands it… oversight committees within all three branches of the U.S. government ensure it… and NSA employees, as U.S. citizens, have a vested interest in upholding it. Respecting the law is only a part of gaining Americans’ trust.

Basically, we know that the NSA will operate legally because the law says it will. Also, because it will gain our trust, we can be positive that they will do it, as gaining the trust of Americans is their top priority. This is shown by the fact that when they wiretap our phones without warrants, we trust them more.

The American people need to know, within the bounds of operational security, what NSA does and why they do it, and how they work within the Intelligence community and the Department of Defense to protect the Nation’s freedom.

With each new day, NSA is writing new and unexpected chapters. The missions have never been clearer. The challenges have never been greater. The stakes have never been higher.

We need to know what the NSA is doing. And what is it doing? New things every day, apparently. There’s no need to tell you what those new things are, you just need to know that the mission, whatever it is, is clear.

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Josh Wolf Still in Prison

18 November 2006

A federal appeal court refused to rehear Josh Wolf’s case, according to Reporters Without Borders, though he has been in prison since September 18th. He will probably have to stay in prison until July 2007, when he will have a chance of being released on bail.

Josh Wolf is in prison for refusing to give up undeited footage of a July 2005 protest that might show who vandalized a police car.

“This young blogger does not represent any threat to national security, so keeping him in custody is a completely disproportionate step,” said RSF. “The judges seem to want to teach a lesson to Wolf, a young man whose insolence exasperated them, when their role should have been simply to give the law,” it added.

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UCLA Student Tasered

16 November 2006

A student was tasered multiple times at UCLA recently, according to Prison Planet. Campus police were doing a random check and asked for his ID. When he refused they took him from the library, at which point one of the officers put a hand on his arm and he yelled for them to get off of him. One of the officers then tasered him. They told him repeatedly to stand up, though people are rarely able to stand any sooner than a minute after being tasered, and tasered him again for not complying.

The incident was video-recorded.

From an accompanying Prison Planet article:

The officers repeatedly order Tabatabainejad to stand even as they administer further shocks – sending 50,000 volts of current that override the nervous system and temporarily paralyze muscles shooting through his system again and again. He can’t stand and the cops know it… Tabatabainejad is hit again and again despite his screaming and the protests of the onlookers.

The student, Mostafa Tabatabainejad, is Iranian-American

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Life Sentences…

16 November 2006

Are usually not for kids. According to BBC News, over 40 children in Colorado jails are serving life sentences, in violation of international human rights laws. While three decades ago minors were hardly ever tried as adults, an increase in teen violence in the 1980s caused over 40 states to pass laws making it easier to try minors as adults. In Colorado, some people as young as 14 have been given life sentences.

Many of them are sent to Limon Prison, the site of riots, rapes, and murders. One 17-year-old, now there for his ninth year, was given a life sentence when a drug deal resulted in another youth being shot accidentally. Though the jury accepted that it was accidental, he was found guilty of charges that, since he was tried as an adult, carry a mandatory life sentence.

When a minor is charged in Colorado, the prosecutor has three days to decide whether to try them as a child or as an adult.

Though some children may deserve these sentences, many do not.

American children though are better off than children in many countries. From a BBC series:

Almost every country in the world has committed itself to respecting the human rights of children. But in reality, the signatures on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, are not worth the paper they are written on.

The BBC had a section on Pakistan, the United States, and Kenya.

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Israel Holding 710 Palestinians

15 November 2006

Israel is currently holding 710 Palesinians under “administrative detention,” according to Haaretz. These detainees are without the right to a trial. Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan says they are detained to prevent them from committing crimes in the future.

While this is no doubt a unique way to prevent crime, it’s not a very reasonable one.

There are also 16 settlers who were issued restraining orders, and it is reported that they were given no explanation and no way to contend with the accusations.

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Adminstration Says Detainees Have No Rights

14 November 2006

The Bush administration said yesterday that detainees have no right to challenge their imprisonment in civilian courts, according to SFGate, and that the hundreds of lawsuits the detainees have filed should be dismissed. The Justice Department also filed papers with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, defending the military’s “right” to arrest people overseas and then hold them indefinitely without access to courts.

The Justice Department also said that detainees do not have constitutional rights, because they are being held overseas. According to government lawyers, giving these detainees access to civilian courts “would severely impair the military’s ability to defend this country,” though the article failed to explain how exactly this would do so.

The Justice Department went on to say that, “Congress could have simply withdrawn jurisdiction over these matters and left the decision of whether to detain enemy aliens held abroad to the military.”

Instead, Congress set up a military commission structure establishing “unprecedented” levels of review for detainees, according to the attorneys.

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Wiretapping Unlikely to Continue

13 November 2006

Permission to continue wiretapping without warrants is unlikely to be granted to President Bush, according to SFGate. To get it, there would need to be support from 60 senators, and it is believe that that will not occur this year, and certainly not with the 110th congress.

“We have been asked to make sweeping and fundamental changes in law for reasons that we do not know and in order to legalize secret, unlawful actions that the administration has refused to fully divulge,” said Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who will be the next Judiciary Committee chairman.

The Bush administration is reported as likely to make it seem as though there are only two options: continuing the plan as it is and dropping it entirely, completely ignoring the fact that a compromise could be created (i.e. wiretapping with warrants).

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Brutality Discovered on YouTube

12 November 2006

A video of two police officers beating William Cardenas was recently uploaded to YouTube after being filmed by a local resident, according to BBC News. The video shows the officers punching him multiple times in the face and pinning him to the ground with their knee to his neck. In the video one can hear Mr. Cardenas saying that he cannot breathe.

The statement by the officers said that Mr. Cardenas resisted arrest and that there was concern he would try to grab one of their guns.

YouTube has now flagged the original video and you have to register on YouTube and verify that you’re over 18 to see it. The below video is a copy which is a second shorter but unflagged.

The ACLU of Southern California notes that the incident only came to light when the video was posted on YouTube. No doubt YouTube is an acceptable substitute for police accountability.

The incident occurred last August in Los Angeles.

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Suit to be Filed Against Rumsfeld

11 November 2006

A lawsuit that will be filed next week in Germany seek a criminal investigation and prosecution against Donald Rumsfeld, according to TIME Magazine. It also seeks investigations and prosecutions of Alberto Gonzales, George Tenet, and a number of other US officials. The case’s plaintiffs include 11 Iraqis who were held at Abu Ghraib and Mohammad al-Qahtani, who is a Saudi held at Guantanamo Bay. Qahtani went through what was termed a “special interrogation plan,” which Rumsfeld approved and which included forced nudity, sexual humiliation, religious humiliation, stress positions, sleep deprivation, and other techniques.

The case had been brought to Germany before, but was rejected, officially because the US government was said to be dealing with the issue, after the US made it known that taking it would likely have a negative impact on US-Germany relations and Rumsfeld said that he would refuse to attend a security conference in Munich if the case was accepted. Now though that Rumsfeld has resigned and it is clear that the US has failed to deal with the issue on its own, the plaintiffs hope the case will be accepted.

The case was brought to Germany because German law allows for prosecution of war crimes that take place anywhere in the world.

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