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Former probation officer pleads guilty to selling cocaine to judges

Published: November 6, 2013

Read more here: http://www.bnd.com/2013/11/06/2888907/fogarty-pleads-guilty.html#storylink=cpy
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FBI: Help us find our missing sniper rifle, M16
FBI: Help us find our missing sniper rifle, M16


We have been tracking the Lost and Found Department at the FBI  Crime Family for the past 15 years. Google fbi missing computers or see:  In 2001  FBI agents  lost  449 firearms and 184  laptop computers Not to worry your tax dime replaced them
http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=92863   How about in 2002
FBI  agents lost  354 submachine guns , shotguns and sniper rifles in a 8 month period. Oh yea  317 laptop computers went missing during the same time period. see  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/12/AR2007021200629.html   Not to worry the Boston taxpayer replaced them. In 2006 FBI  agents caused Boston taxpayers to hemorrhage $7.6 million in lost computers
see  http://www.techlawjournal.com/topstories/2006/20060320.asp  OK in 1997 there was the FBI  van that was filled with weapons including a grenade launcher that was never found Yea the  van was torched  http://www.nytimes.com/1997/06/06/us/fbi-finds-most-of-arsenal.html 

The Boston Division of the FBI is offering a reward of up to $20,000 for information leading to the recovery of two weapons stolen from a government vehicle. The weapons were stolen from an FBI SWAT emergency response vehicle parked in Andover, Massachusetts between the evening hours of November 6, 2013 and early morning hours of November 7, 2013. During that same time, items were stolen from other vehicles parked at nearby homes in Andover. The stolen weapons are: 1. Colt M16-A1 rifle 2. HS Precision Pro-Series 2000 Sniper Rifle.
Thursday, November 7, 2013
- See more at: http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2013/11/fbi_help_us_find_our_missing_sniper_rifle_m16#sthash.6vrheJka.dpuf
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Black judge says UCLA cops used excessive force in seat-belt stop


Black judge says UCLA cops used excessive force in seat-belt stop



A prominent African American judge has filed a complaint against two UCLA police officers, accusing them of using excessive force when they pulled him over for not wearing a seat belt.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David S. Cunningham III, a former Los Angeles Police Commission president, said the officers shoved him against his car, handcuffed him, locked him in the back of their police cruiser and told him he was being detained for resisting arrest.

Cunningham's complaint does not attribute the incident to his race, but his attorney said race was clearly a factor in the officers' behavior.

"Do you think this would have happened if he was a white judge?" the attorney, Carl Douglas, said Monday, calling for both officers to be removed from the field immediately.

UCLA said it is investigating the incident.

The 60-year-old judge, dressed in a black gym shirt and shorts, was pulled over as he was leaving L.A. Fitness in Westwood about 10 a.m. Saturday. 


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ome » News & Opinion » Local Coverage

Alleged crack-smoking trooper suspended without pay


A state trooper accused of triggering a three-car crash on Route 1 in Revere that smashed up a cruiser and put an on-duty trooper in the hospital has been suspended indefinitely without pay today, state police announced.

Trooper Shawn D’Amato, 43, who authorities said told EMTs he had smoked crack within an hour of yesterday's crash, was arraigned in his Massachusetts General Hospital bed yesterday on charges of drunken and drugged driving, negligent operation; and failure to change lanes for an emergency vehicle.

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Minorities May Have a Case for 911 Call Bias
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see link for full story

Ex-S.F. police officer probed by FBI sues bosses

Published 4:59 pm, Friday, November 29, 2013
A former San Francisco police officer at the center of a 2-year-old FBI corruption probe into police drug raids is taking his former bosses to court, claiming in a lawsuit that he was wrongly fired based on unfounded allegations that he put in for overtime he didn't earn.

At the heart of Reynaldo Vargas' argument is a Police Department audit that found that many officers did exactly what he was accused of doing: testify during trials on regular time but put in for overtime. Yet he was the only one fired, Vargas' appeal attorney says, calling his punishment "unduly severe."

Vargas, now 44, was already in trouble before the Police Department fired him last year. He was among a team of officers based at the Mission District station whose conduct in a February 2011 drug-related search of a residential hotel on Julian Street has come under FBI scrutiny.

Surveillance video of the officers taken inside the Julian House Hotel appears to show Vargas walking out of the search target's room with a bag of the person's possessions, which Vargas never checked into evidence. Another officer was filmed walking out with a bag that authorities believe contained the person's laptop computer, which police also never submitted as evidence.

Vargas was also among several officers involved at a drug-related search in December 2010 at another residential hotel, the Jefferson on Eddy Street in the Tenderloin. One of Vargas' colleagues was filmed by a surveillance camera there taking away a bag of undisclosed possessions, which the officers never accounted for.

District Attorney George Gascón, who was police chief when the raids happened, turned over the investigation to the U.S. attorney's office to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

No criminal charges have been filed, and none of the officers in any of the raids has been brought up on disciplinary charges. About a dozen officers remain under investigation, sources say.

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Justice Not Served: Family of Victim Slain by FBI informant Blasts U.S. ‘Negligence’ for Not Enforcing Own Laws

It’s been more than two years since Jesse Benavides was gunned down at a family birthday party in Dallas by a man who never should have been on U.S. streets.


Santana Gaona had been in jail less than two months earlier for allegedly raping and beating his estranged wife. He was flagged as an illegal immigrant and scheduled for deportation. Despite a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement “detainer” that had been placed on Gaona, requiring him to face a deportation hearing, ICE officials canceled the order and he was released from jail.

At the time, ICE officials told the Dallas Morning News and this reporter that “another law enforcement agency” asked them to remove the detainer.

In 2011, a federal law enforcement officer confirmed to this reporter that Gaona had been an informant for multiple federal agencies, including the FBI, which was responsible for his release. The official said Gaona showed no signs of being a violent criminal and there was no reason to believe he would have committed murder.

Benavides, 33, was trying to stop a fight between Gaona and Gaona’s estranged wife when he was shot in front of his 8-year-old son.

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Date: December 5, 2013 at 11:02:03 AM EST
Subject: Tune in to The Free Speech Zone on Sunday night December 8th at 7 pm

Tune in to The Free Speech Zone on Sunday night December 8th at 7 pm to hear a 2007 talk by Alfred W. McCoy titled: A Short History of Psychological Terror. McCoy, a Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin, explores the history and use by the CIA of psychological torture in terms of how this particular form of torture was discovered, perfected and made legal. His latest study, Torture and Impunity, explores the political and cultural dynamics of America’s post 9/11 debate over interrogation. He has researched and written about Southeast Asia, and in particular about the Golden Triangle drug trades of opium and heroin. His book, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, documented the interactions between the CIA and drug cartels in that region. In his 2006 book "A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror",McCoy shows how from the start of the Cold War to the early nineteen-sixties, the C.I.A. spent billions of dollars developing psychological tools for interrogation.
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see link for full story

December 6, 2013

FBI denies paying alleged informant for testimony

BOSTON — The Boston FBI office would neither confirm nor deny whether a man murdered in Methuen in October was an informant. A spokesman, however, categorically denied paying anyone for testimony.

Due to FBI policy, Special Agent Greg Comcowich could not answer questions about David Rivera, 28, of Lawrence, who was killed outside a club in Methuen on Oct. 23.

The bureau’s policy is to neither confirm nor deny whether an individual was an informant or whether an individual has received a payment, he said.

“The FBI does not pay anyone in return for testimony,” said Comcowich, the media coordinator at the FBI’s Boston field office.

He did confirm that Lawrence police patrolman Richard Brooks previously worked with an FBI gang task force, and that Brooks is no longer with that task force.

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see link for full story

Duquesne man acquitted of drug charges sues FBI agent for malicious prosecution

December 7, 201

A Duquesne man acquitted in December 2011 on drug charges claims that an FBI agent had him arrested and prosecuted for no other reason than he was friends with and related to convicted drug dealers.

Frank M. Cobb, 32, says in the civil rights lawsuit that Special Agent Minh-Tri V. Truong had no evidence linking him to drug trafficking and that he or someone else on the task force destroyed evidence that would have helped prove his innocence.

One of Cobb's childhood friends and two cousins were arrested in the same drug sweep and pleaded guilty to drug charges.

A federal jury on Dec. 9, 2011, acquitted Cobb on charges of drug conspiracy, operating a drug house and possessing a firearm in connection with drug trafficking. He spent a year in jail awaiting trial.

Cobb had security cameras on his home and tried to get Truong and other members of the task force to review the footage to see that no drug trafficking was taking place, the lawsuit says.

“At some point, after the illegal search and seizure of the plaintiff's home, after the plaintiff insisted defendants review the security footage and after the defendants, without good cause or excuse, refused to review that footage, the memory on plaintiff's security system was mysteriously wiped clean,” the lawsuit says.

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            In 2001 we brought Mary Powers to speak at our 12th Annual Conference Investigating Crimes Committed by FBI  agents about her work bringing Detective Burge to justice. She also discussed her involvement in exposing the FBI assassination of Fred Hampton in Chicago during the early 1970's

            which led her to creating the National Coalition on Police Accountability NCOPA

            TWO READS ABOUT Chicago Detective Burge
            see link for full story

            1st read

            After decades in prison, South Side man’s rape conviction overturned

              December 10, 2013

            Gail Lewis had picked out a tux for her father to wear at her wedding last year.

            She also had the perfect song for the father-daughter dance: Luther Vandross’ “Dance With My Father.”

            But Stanley Wrice never walked his daughter down the aisle.

            Instead, Wrice languished in prison serving a 100-year sentence for a brutal gang rape he said he was forced to confess to by abusive detectives working under the now disgraced Area 2 Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge.

            On Tuesday, Wrice was finally able to hug Lewis after a Cook County judge overturned Wrice’s conviction and granted him a new trial for the 1982 crime.

            Wrice smiled and softly sobbed as he hugged Lewis following Judge Richard Walsh’s ruling.

            Police “lied about how they handled the defendant,” Walsh said, adding that Wrice’s claims against former detectives John Byrne and Peter Dignan were “unrebutted.”

            Byrne and Dignan invoked the Fifth Amendment during Wrice’s two-day evidentiary hearing.

            Still, there was no doubt cops were torturing suspects at Area 2 and medical evidence “confirms” Wrice was injured, the judge said.

            Wrice, 59, is expected to be released from the Pontiac Correctional Center on Wednesday after posting a $5,000 recognizance bond.

            Gail Lewis and her husband are already making plans for him to baby-sit their three children.

            “I’m just happy he’s coming home. … I knew he was innocent,” Lewis said.

            Lewis was only 1 year old when her father was arrested for the assault that took place in a residence at 76th and Chappel.

            Bobbie Joe Williams, a witness who testified at Wrice’s 1983 trial, had since recanted his statement, saying he, too, was beaten into implicating Wrice.

            Appellate Court Judge Bertina Lampkin, who tried Wrice when she was a prosecutor, testified Tuesday that Williams never told her he was physically or psychologically abused when she met with him at least twice, months after the incident

            “He didn’t tell me anybody did anything to him,” Lampkin said.

            After the court hearing, Chicago Innocence Project’s David Protess pointed out that the victim, who is now deceased, never identified Wrice as one of her attackers.

            It is up to Special Prosecutor Stuart Nudelman as to whether he will try Wrice again.

            However, Wrice’s attorneys, Jennifer Bonjean and Heidi Linn Lambros, said prosecuting their client would be tricky since of two his co-defendants are dead and all living witnesses have recanted their testimony.

            2nd read

            Civilian Investigator of Burge Recalls the Excitement, but Now Feels Pity
            Published: June 19, 2010

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see link for full story


The Spies Who Never Came in From the Cold

In 1972, the FBI sent an agent from its Newark office to Morris County to investigate why a person named Paton was communicating with the Socialist Workers Party at its New York headquarters.

The information had come from a "mail cover" on the SWP's headquarters. Under the existing U.S. Postal Service regulations, a mail cover was authorized whenever a law enforcement agency certified such action was necessary to protect the national security. No judicial approval was required. The mail cover allowed the FBI to photograph the outside of any envelope directed to the addressee, including postmarks and return addresses.

In that instance, the subject of the investigation was a 15-year-old high school student who had been doing her homework. The FBI agent tracked her down at West Morris-Mendham High School. The school principal and the political science teacher explained that the student was enrolled in a course called "Left to Right," which explored the programs and workings of fringe political movements.

The agent thanked school officials for the information and left.

But the principal also notified the student's parents of the incident, and the parents contacted the American Civil Liberties Union office in Newark, which referred the matter to the Constitutional Litigation Clinic at Rutgers Law School in Newark.

When the FBI initially denied that it was investigating the student and declined to respond to a request for any copies of any documents generated as a result, a lawsuit that was to go on for seven years ensued.

The smoking gun that was to conclude the litigation occurred when plaintiffs were finally allowed to take the deposition of L. Patrick Gray, the acting director of the FBI who had requested the mail cover. Gray testified that the application he signed said the mail cover was necessary because the Socialist Workers Party was organizing protests against the war in Vietnam.

Federal District Judge Lawrence Whipple had heard enough. He recalled the mischief that had been done in the name of "national security" during the era of Sen. Joseph McCarthy, and stated that "national security" is too ambiguous and broad a term where rights of free speech were involved. He ruled as follows:

    National security as a basis for the mail cover is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. Without any qualification or explanation of what is meant by national security, an investigation can be initiated on the assertions of an overzealous public official with the unorthodox, yet constitutionally protected political views of a group or person. It allows officials to pursue their personal predilections.

He left untouched other types of mail covers such as investigation of mail fraud or the search for fugitives.

Whipple issued an injunction forbidding future national security mail covers pending a revision of the mail cover regulation to cure the constitutional defects.

The defendants did not appeal Whipple's order, apparently deciding to comply by rewriting the regulation.


On July 3 of this year, the New York Times ran a story under the headline "U.S. Postal Service Logging All Mail for Law Enforcement."

The article recounted the recent experience of one Leslie James Pickering, the owner of a bookstore in Buffalo.

The article explained: Mr. Pickering "noticed something odd in his mail: a handwritten card, apparently delivered by mistake, with instructions to postal workers to pay special attention to letters and packages sent to his home." It continued: "Show all mail to supv. For copying prior to going out on the street."

Pickering told the reporter that more than a decade before he had been the spokesman for the Earth Liberation Front, "a radical environmental group labeled eco-terrorists by the Federal Bureau of Investigation." The article reported that postal officials had confirmed they were indeed tracking Pickering's mail, but told him nothing else.

The Times article then explained that "at the request of law enforcement officials, postal workers record information from the outside of letters and parcels before they are delivered."

The Times' revelation led me to investigate the government's compliance with Judge Whipple's order to revise the mail cover regulation in accordance with his opinion. Its latest iteration authorizes mail cover to obtain information in order to: 1) Protect national security; 2) Locate a fugitive; 3) Obtain evidence of commission or attempted commission of a crime; 4) Obtain evidence of violation or attempted violation of a postal statute; or 5) Assist in the identification of property, proceeds of assets forfeitable under the law."

The operative language then authorizes the chief postal inspector of his designee to order mail covers to "protect the national security ... when a written request is received from any law enforcement agency in which the requesting authority specifies the reasonable grounds to demonstrate the mail cover is necessary to protect the national security."

It seems reasonably apparent that any mail cover on Pickering's mail was pursuant to the "national security" provision. How many other such covers are carried out every year by the Postal Service and FBI is anyone's guess.
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LOL and you believe the Boston Police or Salt Lake City Police and Sheriff are different.......

a species that hires mercenaries to protect them looses the ability to
protect themselves and is doomed to extinction

Yep, your extinction was funded by your tax dime.
see link for KY Jelly ad

Sheriff's special hiring program favored friends and relatives
After inquiries from The Times about questionable hires, department shuts program down

December 18, 2013, 3:56 p.m.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca maintained a special hiring program that granted preferential treatment to the friends and relatives of department officials, including some candidates who were given jobs despite having troubled histories, according to interviews and internal employment records reviewed by The Times.

The program, known as "Friends of the Sheriff," has been in existence for at least eight years. Some high-ranking sheriff's officials injected themselves into the vetting process to lobby for favored job candidates, records show.

Among those hired was a man convicted of sexual battery, according to court records. His friend — and contact with the department — was Baca's driver. Another hired under the program was arrested last week on a federal weapons charge in connection with the FBI's corruption investigation in the sheriff's jails. His tie to the agency was his brother, a deputy.

Baca's nephew, Justin Bravo, became a deputy through the program in 2007, even after sheriff's investigators noted that he had allegedly been involved in theft and a fight with San Diego police and had been arrested on suspicion of drunk driving and burglary
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see link for full rape

Obstructions in Halting NSA Surveillance


[CP readers should read, in the Dec. 18 issue, two fine articles on topic: Rob Hager, “A Victory for the Constitution,” and Binoy Kampmark, “Outlawing the Metadata Program.” Undoubtedly there will be more. My analysis is slightly different from both, not the decision itself, which they address, and which has received widespread attention in the press, but rather the preliminaries, obstructions thrown up to the adjudication of USG surveillance that Judge Leon in roughly the first-half of his 68 page opinion had to take into account, essentially a clearing-away process, before establishing clear ground for rendering his decision. Why is this important? First, for showing the institutional and governmental structure of repression, semi-hiding under the mantle of the law, to protect illegal and unconstitutional practices when these come forward in defense of militarism, intervention, and the social control of the populace—here specifically the last-named. Second, demonstrating these obstructions, as he does, shows what Judge Leon was up against (his point for doing so), which accounts for the narrow scope and limited application of his decision—a sweeping pronouncement, yet having, leaving aside questions of reversal by a higher court, pertinence only to the plaintiffs, the violation of their Fourth Amendment rights, and not extended to the nation as a whole. Thus, on to dissecting the wording of the opinion.]

I Eviscerating the Privacy Right

By way of introduction, Adam Liptack in the New York Times, Dec. 18, the article entitled, “After Ruling Critical of N.S.A., Uncertain Terrain for Appeal,” quotes Judge Leon, himself troubled by the prior boxing-in of a clear channel for rendering his opinion: “I’m not sure how I’m going to come out, but I know it’s going upstairs.” That he stayed his order to allow for the appeal process, itself, I believe, an unnecessary compromise, one of several, psychologically inviting reversal, indicates that, although one should honor the man and credit the significance of his determining that the massive surveillance of Americans’ phone calls is probably unconstitutional, he in fact did not lay down the gauntlet, did not, therefore, expose the political-legal gangsterism currently in vogue at the highest levels—POTUS, DOJ, Congress, the Supremes down to the District Courts and, of course, FISC. Judge Leon did not blink from ridiculing the defense of the government, that the plaintiffs had no standing (this “defies common sense,” given the widespread public knowledge, and USG’s admission, of massive surveillance) and that surveillance had in fact foiled terrorist plots (How? When? Where?, no evidence forthcoming), yet that criticism did not—and because of prior obstacles put in place, e.g., provisions of the Patriot Act, and much more, Congress itself always a step ahead in fostering repression, taking no chances, perhaps could not–catapult him to the higher ground of a definitive rendering, spread broadcast, decisively constitutionally-rooted, and having effect without delay.

The initial stumbling block, the heart of Liptack’s analysis, is the difference between concurring and controlling opinions, here a 2012 opinion by the Supreme Court, in which the latter represents the precedent Judge Leon’s decision “blew past,” and the former, no more than an anticipation of where, in support, “the justices might be heading.” Not a happy prospect, because, going back to Smith v. Maryland, in 1979, the Court held—Liptack writes—that “a robbery suspect could not expect that his right of privacy extended to the numbers dialed from his phone. The government says the Fourth Amendment analysis in the new cases should begin and end with that decision.” Cut-and-dried, no Fourth Amendment defense on the right of privacy—thank you, POTUS and AG Holder—when you voluntarily (by dialing!) give information to a third party, the telephone company. Ah, then in the 2012 decision, United States v. Jones, which “unanimously rejected the use of a GPS device to track the movements of a drug suspect over a month, we see what looks like support for the Leon decision, except that the majority held that “attaching the device violated the defendant’s property rights”—but no mention was made of his privacy rights.

Here we see a pair of concurrences, in which “five justices said the tracking raised concerns about the defendant’s expectation of privacy.” (Italics, mine—because it appears that in legal and constitutional interpretation, expectation plays an important role.) Bless her, Justice Sotomayor wrote, citing the Smith case: “to reconsider the premise that an individual has no reasonable expectation of privacy in information voluntarily disclosed to third parties.” Justice Kennedy, who announced for the Court in 1989 a principle affecting the concurring-controlling distinction, and hence, the order of priorities, now is invoked as though the Court metaphorically mounting its judicial horse to slay the privacy dragon, proclaims, in his words: “If a precedent of this court has direct application in a case, yet appears to rest on reasons rejected in some other lines of decisions, [lower court judges] should follow the case which directly controls, leaving to this court the prerogative of overruling its own decisions.” (Italics, mine) Does it work? Liptack cites a case last month in California, in which a federal judge, Jeffrey T. Miller, would not “grant a new trial to a defendant convicted of terrorism charges based on asserted Fourth Amendment violations arising from the N.S.A. program.” Exactly what is at issue. Judge Miller stated that he would not “blaze a new path and adopt the approach to the concept of privacy set forth by Justice Sotomayer in her concurrence in United States v. Jones.” (Italics, mine) No wonder Judge Leon, clearly aware of the California case, could say, “I’m not sure how I’m going to come out, but I know it’s going upstairs.”

Perhaps I’ve been too hard on him. As Liptack points out, Judge Leon strongly criticized the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), a secret court, in which the 15 judges who supervise the program of surveillance “have issued 35 orders authorizing it,” despite the fact that that the government “repeatedly made misrepresentations and inaccurate statements about the program,” deeply angering the judge. Liptack, in conclusion, quotes NYU law professor Barry Friedman, a specialist on the Fourth Amendment, to the effect that “only Judge Leon’s work was worthy of a federal judge.” In Friedman’s words, “Judge Leon’s reads as though there is a living, breathing, thinking person behind it. Right or wrong ultimately, it is full of detail, real-world fact and serious consideration. The FISA court opinions are lifeless. They read like a machine wrote them.” Lifeless? That’s too kind; politicized, kept jurists, the fact of deliberating in secret and, as we shall see, legitimating ex parte proceedings in which there is no party challenging the government, as well as keeping their decisions secret, should merit for them only scorn, ridicule, contempt, and the same for those who have empowered them under such conditions, the Chief Justice who makes the appointments, and the usual characters (suspects?), POTUS on down, who, burnishing the credentials of the Inquisition, add Joseph R. McCarthy for father-confessor and inspiring spirit, have reduced civil liberties in America to a sick joke.

II Klayman et al, v. Obama, et al., United States District Court For The District of Columbia, Dec. 16, 2013 [Dkt. # 13 (No. 13-0851), # 10 (No. 13-0881)]

This Memorandum Opinion, befitting its importance, is heavily annotated, footnoted, a citational cornucopia which raises the danger of losing sight of the argument (my apologies, in advance, to CP readers and contributors who may possess legal training, were I not to put a fine point on procedural matters), my emphasis now, shared, I believe, by Judge Leon, being the impedimenta preventing clear-sighted logical and constitutional reasoning. To begin: “On June 6 [i.e., six months ago, which speaks to the carefulness in Judge Leon’s bringing forward the proceedings], 2013, plaintiffs brought the first of two related lawsuits challenging the constitutionality and statutory authorization of certain intelligence-gathering practices by the United States government relating to the wholesale collection of the phone record metadata of all U.S. citizens.” I like the formulation: acknowledgment of the program and its dimensions, and challenges both on constitutional and statutory grounds.

It continues: “These related cases are two of several lawsuits [e.g., the ACLU v. Clapper, filed five days later, Southern District of New York, which, of course, also bears watching] arising from public revelations over the past six months [public revelations therefore giving the plaintiffs standing; also, recognition of Snowdon’s revelations, six months before] that the federal government through the National Security Agency (‘NSA’), and with the participation of certain telecommunications and internet companies, has conducted surveillance and intelligence-gathering programs that collect certain data about the telephone and internet activity of American citizens within the United States.” (Italics, mine) Already, we see Judge Leon imposing restrictions, for momentarily he will rule out internet companies and internet activity, reduce the number of plaintiffs to two, confine the suits to the government (and draw distinctions here), ruling out that affecting private defendants (telecommunication and internet firms and their executives), and while giving the plaintiffs standing to bring suit, denying their attempt to bring the suits “as class actions on behalf of themselves and ‘all other similarly situated consumers, users, and U.S. consumers and users of,’”—in addition to ignoring (perhaps correctly given the terms of the suits) foreign eavesdropping.

Still, much to work with, if the manner and mode of surveillance can be ruled in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Yet, plaintiffs seem overly restrictive, calling only for preliminary injunctions seeking relief for themselves, which permits Judge Leon to confine this relief to the federal government alone, and only with regard to its “bulk collection and querying of phone record metadata—the latter again, presumably, applying to themselves. Long explanations for the resulting narrowing, as in why “the Court need not address” internet data surveillance activity (“plaintiffs intermingle claims regarding the surveillance of phone and internet data,” and then ask relief only concerning the latter), seem unworthy of the occasion. Again, too harsh? For Judge Leon appears willing and able to differentiate between the statutory and constitutional dimensions of the plaintiffs’ suit, opting to bear down on the latter and more consequential of the two, finding himself hamstrung, however, on the former (“the Court finds that it lacks jurisdiction to hear plaintiffs’ Administrative Procedure Act (‘APA’) claim that the Government has exceeded its statutory authority” under FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. This is our first notice, with APA, of the judicial-governmental process operating in, and behaving like, a closed system.

He then explicitly confines his preliminary injunction to the two plaintiffs “only,” and states that “in view of the significant national security interests at stake in this case and the novelty of the constitutional issues, I will STAY [in the original] my order pending appeal.” Rather than seek cover, Judge Leon gives us an instructive historical lesson, under “Background,” detailing the initial Snowden revelations drawn from the articles of Glenn Greenwald in The Guardian—a courageous act in the current judicial climate, and made relevant to the opinion (as though perhaps chafing at the bit). The very firms omitted from the scope of the decision are, along with their ready cooperation with the government, blazoned across the page. The phrase which seems to stick in his mind and recur often is, “telephony metadata,” and he turns from there to the government’s admission, because of the disclosures, of the program’s existence, including that (quoting from the Office of the Dir. Of Nat’l Intelligence) “the FBI obtains orders from the FISC pursuant to Section 215 [of the USA Patriot Act] directing certain telecommunications service providers to produce to the NSA on a daily basis electronic copies of ‘call detail records.’” By rights, that should be the ballgame, even an obtuse and protective Supreme Court coming on board.

But the more admissions, the more legislative and judicial legerdemain. Section 215 of the Patriot Act is a story in itself, to which Judge Leon subsequently devotes attention, and he shows interest as well in the bearing that the APA and FISA have fending off critical scrutiny of surveillance, and by implication, the whole counterterrorism shtick (I make fun of what is really a serious business, counterrevolution, from paramilitary operations and regime change to drone assassinations—regrettably miles apart from the judicial focus on the constitutional determination of massive surveillance, and the health of the Fouth Amendment). Plaintiffs filed the day after the first public revelations of massive surveillance, and, as part of the record, Judge Leon identifies Larry Klayman and Charles Strange, irrelevant for present, one a maverick conservative, the other, father of “a cryptologist technician for the NSA and support personnel for Navy SEAL Team VI who was killed in Afghanistan”—rather difficult to dismiss as pinko-terrorists. This is followed by the analytical crunching down, “Statutory Background, FISA and Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, the former, ironically, passed in 1978, in response to abuses of “warrantless domestic intelligence-gathering that infringed the Fourth Amendment rights of American citizens,” as brought out by the Church Committee. Fortunately, Frank Church is not alive to see the results of his handiwork.

Yet even the best laid plans of mice and men…. For FISA did the unpardonable at and from the outset, which Judge Leon, by bringing out, obviously recognizes: It “created a procedure for the Government to obtain ex parte judicial orders authorizing domestic electronic surveillance upon a showing that, inter alia, the target of the surveillance was a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power.” Whether the more menacing phrase is ex parte or inter alia is open to debate, the first denying the adversarial process in which only one side appears before the court, government, already addressing hand-picked suppliants at the heavenly gates of patriotism, or the second, the among other things ballooning into secret courts, secret decisions, secret spying on all and sundry. Both become fully operable, especially after 2000, with Bush, and, if possible, intensified by Obama. And with the creation of FISA came FISC, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, eleven district judges having “jurisdiction to hear applications for and grant orders approving” surveillance, and FISC Court of Review, with three district or court of appeals judges, having “jurisdiction to review the denial of any application made under [FISA].” And with that, USG can’t miss—and hasn’t.

The screws only tighten further. Still with FISA: “In addition to authorizing wiretaps [keep in mind, this is part of Judge Leon’s Memorandum Opinion], FISA was subsequently amended to add provisions enabling the Government to obtain ex parte orders authorizing physical searches, as well as pen registers and trap-and-trace devices.” And why stop there? “In 1998, Congress added a ‘business records’ provision to FISA.” (Already, counterterrorism precedes terrorism.) The Judge continues: “Under the provision, the FBI was permitted to apply for an ex parte order authorizing specified entities, such as common carriers, to release to the FBI copies of business records upon a showing in the FBI’s application that ‘there are specific articulable [a word appearing frequently in these ex parte requests and proceedings] facts giving reason to believe that the person to whom the records pertain is a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power.” When “foreign” gives way, in application and/or insinuation, to “domestic,” then we are hitting our stride. Parenthetically, the phrase “business records” becomes the entering wedge for widening the mechanics and scope of surveillance, by bringing telecommunication and internet firms on their knees to the government in obedience to orders for disclosure, cooperation, and most intriguing, silence.

We come then to the Patriot Act, which Congress passed after 9/11, and “which made changes to FISA and several other laws.” Specifically, “Section 215 of the PATRIOT ACT replaced FISA’s business-records provision with a more expansive ‘tangible things’ provision.” For, Judge Leon goes on, “it authorizes the FBI to apply ‘for an order requiring the production of any tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items) for an investigation to obtain foreign intelligence information not concerning a United States person or to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.” Even the FBI’s application was made easier, from showing that the records were sought for an investigation, to, instead, the tangible things being merely relevant to such an investigation. We next enter the murky ways of the procedural jungle with Section 1861 [almost as famous as Sect. 215] “impos[ing] other requirements on the FBI when seeking to use this authority,” to wit, following the Attorney General’s guidelines applying to, quaintly termed, “minimization procedures” pertinent to “an order for the production of tangible things, most of all, the prohibition against dissemination and a correlative silence. If the FBI’s application satisfies meets the FISC judge in meeting the requirements, he “shall enter an ex parte order as requested,” called (savor the term) a “production order,” which means approval for “the release of tangible things.” The clincher: “Meanwhile, recipients of Section 1861 production orders are obligated not to disclose the existence of the orders, with limited exceptions.”

Anyone for tennis? No, this is a serious business. Hence, “Consistent with other confidentiality provisions of FISA, Section 1861 provides that ‘[all] petitions under this subsection shall be filed under seal,’ and the ‘record of proceedings…shall be maintained under security measures established by the Chief Justice of the united States, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence.” All three, estimable gentlemen, whose collective motto might as well be, “loose lips sink ships” of World War II vintage—a refrain unfamiliar to Edward Snowden, who has blown the lid on production orders and related practices. The practices, which Judge Leon in a separate heading puts in boldface, include “Collection of Bulk Telephony Metadata Pursuant to Section 1861,” his particular bête noir. When he states, “To say the least, plaintiffs and the Government have portrayed the scope of the Government’s surveillance activities very differently,” this poses no problem “for purposes of resolving these preliminary injunctions,” because the government has already conceded “the phone metadata collection and querying program.”

Here we see important connections being made between the program, its rationale, and the production orders: “In broad overview, the Government has developed a ‘counterterrorism’ program under Section 1861 in which it collect[s], compiles, retains, and analyzes certain telephone records, which it characterizes as ‘business records’ created by certain telecommunications companies”—the metadata. (Judge Leon seems to accept—despite his use of the word “analyzes”—the government’s word that its collection does “not include any information about the content” of the calls. A dangerous assumption because reducing surveillance to mere formalities—bad as that is.) This “Bulk Telephony Metadata Program” has gone on for over seven years, the FBI having, since May 2006,“obtained production orders from the FISC under Section 1861 directing certain telecommunications companies to produce, on an ongoing daily basis, these telephony metadata records, which the companies create and maintain as part of their business of providing telecommunications services to customers.” From there, NSA “consolidates the metadata records” provided by the companies “into one database,” and its “intelligence analysts, without seeking the approval of a judicial officer [italics in original, which, unless my own, I do not point out, but here, for Judge Leon, the importance of the words is manifest], may access the records,” using “identifiers”—called “seeds”–to query the data base, the seeds being approved by NSA’s Homeland Security Analysis Center, a, to me, thoroughly sweetheart arrangement.

To keep matters kosher, the identifiers must meet the RAS standard (“reasonable, articulable suspicion”), which introduces “minimization procedures” stipulating “that query results are limited to records of communications within three ‘hops’ from the seed.” Even the Judge loses his cool, the “hops,” as he illustrates, potentially embracing thousands of parties: first hop, identifiers and their associated metadata over a five-year period, say 100; the second hop, the identifiers and associated metadata now having direct contact with the first set (100 times 100); the third, same circumstances, now having direct contact with the second, therefore “includ[ing] all the phone numbers that each of those 10,000 numbers has called or received calls from in the last five years (say, 100 numbers for each one of the 10,000 ‘second hop’ numbers, or 1,000,000 total).” RAS appears to be stretched to the limits of belief. In a footnote, he plaintively adds: “But it’s also easy to imagine the spiderweb-like reach of the three-hop search growing exponentially and capturing even higher numbers of phone numbers”—this said in response to the government’s constant minimizing of the identifiers and resulting spread. And he brings the extended footnote to a close (revealing that even RAS is thrown out the window): “But, of course, that [efforts to “defeat high volume and other unwanted metadata”] does not change the baseline fact that, by the terms of the FISC’s orders, the NSA is permitted to run queries capturing up to three hops that can conceivably capture millions of Americans’ phone records. Further, these queries using non-RAS-approved selection terms, which are permitted to make the database ‘usable for intelligence analysis,’ may very well themselves involve searching across millions of records.”

One would think that USG would be satisfied, to all intents a dummy FISA Court, an open sesame to indulge in surveillance, legislation designed as enablers to that unfortunate enterprise, and yet, there is a clear trail of noncompliance and outright lying, even to the Court that trusts it, comforts it, pats it on the head. Judge Leon: “Once a query is conducted and it returns a universe of responsive records (i.e., a universe limited to records of communications within three hops from the seed [to go beyond three would probably involve monitoring the communications of Martians, so generous is this mandate]), trained NSA analysts may then perform new searches and otherwise perform intelligence analysis within that universe of data without using RAS-approved search terms.” I am tempted to say that only the blind could fail to find content, pace USG, in these searches, searches which employ not only analysis but also following the “chains of communication,” which themselves “cross different communications networks” because the metadata is aggregated. Since May 2006, “the FISC has repeatedly approved applications under Section 1861,” in which, as part of “the program,” orders are issued “directing telecommunications service providers to produce records in connection with the Bulk Telephony Metadata Program.” Under these orders, in addition to seeking periodical renewal (the record shows this to be a mere formality), government also “acknowledged, as it must, that failures to comply with the minimization procedures set forth in the order have occurred.” Which they most certainly have; example: “in January 2009, the Government reported to the FISC that the NSA had improperly used an ‘alert list’ of identifiers to search the bulk telephony metadata, which was composed of identifiers that had not been approved under the RAS standard.”

As far as one can tell, the usual slap on the wrist, if that at all. Only one member of the FISC, Judge Reggie Wilson, stepped forward on such matters, stating that “the NSA had engaged in ‘systematic noncompliance’” with procedures since the inception of the program, “and had also repeatedly made misrepresentations and inaccurate statements about the program to the FISC judges. Concluding that “he had no confidence [Judge Leon continues] that the Government was doing its utmost to comply with the court’s orders,” Judge Wilson “ordered the NSA to seek FISC approval on a case-by-case basis before conducting any further queries of the bulk telephony metadata collected pursuant to Section 1861 orders.” The approval procedure lasted all of only six months. Afterwards, “the Government apparently has had further compliance problems relating to its collection programs in subsequent years.” He quotes the complaint of Judge John Bates, in October 2011, here government misrepresentation of “the scope of its targeting of certain internet communications” under a different collection program, and thereby references the Wilson complaint about “the NSA’s use of unauthorized identifiers” in the Bulk Program. Judge Bates: “[T]he Court is troubled that the government’s revelations regarding NSA’s acquisition of Internet transactions mark the third instance in less than three years in which the government has disclosed a substantial misrepresentation regarding the scope of a major collection program.” As Judge Leon notes, Judges Walton and Bates’s “opinions were only recently declassified by the Government in response to the Congressional and public reactions to the Snowden leaks.” (Reactions, I might add, as in Congressional concerns voiced about massive data collection over the last several days, Dec. 16-18, at this time of writing, hardly fundamental and emphatically too late.)

I submit, the picture is clear, without the need to delve further into Judge Leon’s Memorandum Opinion (he takes up next the statutory claims under the APA and the reasons for precluding judicial review of agency’s actions, part of the tightening noose placed around attempts at rectification of an increasingly repressive system), so that what emerges is a tableau of political gangsterism etched in marble across the government buildings in Washington, no branch exempted, and radiating out through the country, from federal district courts to FBI field offices, and a compliant host of service providers covering the whole gamut of communications, rendered more potent through constant technological advancement, the more readily penetrable into the consciousness, understanding, and articulation of the American people. Here, to resurrect the adversarial process deemed too dangerous by the structure of power and its multiform sources of influence, I should like to give Edward Snowden the final word. His revelations, after all, got Americans to begin thinking, necessitating the government’s time away from its usual task of normalizing its and the society’s servitude to ruling groups and their structure of power, to directing more careful attention to damage control, in this case, the anticipation a radical sensibility might arise from the ideological barbarism sanctioning Wall Street—and the matching conditions of a deterioration of living standards, widening class differences of income, wealth, and power, and, still part of damage control on a larger scale (perpetuating capitalism), promoting war, intervention, and the further pursuit of global hegemony.

III Snowden and the Deconstruction of American Repression: “An Open Letter to the People of Brazil”

As part of his effort to seek asylum in Brazil, Snowden published on Dec. 17 this letter in the newspaper, Folha de S. Paulo (I shall be quoting from the English edition), in which one senses the strong convictions and unflinching bravery which motivated and underpinned his whistleblowing revelations. He writes: “I shared with the world [his standing “in front of a journalist’s camera,” six months before, when he had “stepped out from the shadows” of USG’s NSA]evidence proving some governments are building a world-wide surveillance system to secretly track how we live, who we talk to, and what we say.” This was not easy to do: “I went in front of that camera with open eyes, knowing that the decision would cost me family and my home, and would risk my life. I was motivated by a belief that the citizens of the world deserve to understand the system in which they live.” Would that Judge Leon had this courage, for he would have rendered a more forthright, sweeping decision. And would that I has this courage, for I would be translating these words into action.

Snowden feared “no one would listen to my warning,” but he was deeply moved by “the reaction in certain countries,” Brazil being “certainly one of these.” He does not mince his words: “At the NSA, I witnessed with growing alarm the surveillance of whole populations without any suspicion of wrongdoing, and it threatens to become the greatest human rights challenge of our time.” Would at least that Americans recognized this! Snowden exposes the doublespeak, the arrogance of US claims to protecting the American and global citizenry: “The NSA and other spying agencies tell us that for our own ‘safety’—for Dilma’s [president of Brazil, who canceled a state visit to the US in protest against NSA eavesdropping on her personal calls] ‘safety,’ for Petrobras’ ‘safety’—they have revoked our right to privacy and broken into our lives. And they did it without asking the public in any country, even their own.” The enormity of the insult to national honor—which appears to be strongly felt in Brazil, given US activity: “Today, if you carry a cell phone in Sao Paulo, the NSA can and does keep track of your location: they do this 5 billion times a day to people around the world.” Here, I should like to say, “Case closed.” But we continue.

Giving examples of the closeness of surveillance, Snowden implies the cynicism of such programs: “American Senators tell us that Brazil should not worry, because this is not ‘surveillance,’ it’s data collection.’ They say it is done to keep you safe. They’re wrong.” Followed by what most should agree is a reasonable distinction, but of course is denied by many in America, including POTUS, DOJ, and FISC: “There is a huge difference between legal programs, legitimate spying, legitimate law enforcement—where individuals are targeted based on a reasonable, individualized suspicion—and these programs of dragnet mass surveillance that put entire populations under an all-seeing eye and save copies forever.” (He isn’t buying the stated five-year retention of records limit. Nor should we.) Then, stated in utmost brevity, Snowden explodes the entire political-social-ideological rationale and pretext for America’s counterterrorism, reflecting a wisdom few in academics or the media have shown: “These programs were never about terrorism: they’re about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They’re about power.” (Italics, mine—I wish to the second or third power)

He then comes to his plea for asylum. “Many Brazilian senators agree [with the foregoing], he writes, “and have asked for my assistance with their investigations of suspected crimes against Brazilian citizens.” He has wanted to help, “but unfortunately the United States government has worked very hard to limit my ability to do so—going so far [this is a compelling example, taken less seriously in the US than throughout the world] as to force down the Presidential Plane of Evo Morales to prevent me from traveling to Latin America!” Asylum is a matter of grave importance to him: “Until a country grants me permanent political asylum, the US government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak.” And perhaps even then, his life would remain in danger, the US perfectly capable of staring down protest by and within the host country. We see here a scrappy Snowden, fully aware of the importance of his revelations: Six months ago, I revealed that the NSA wanted to listen to the whole world. Now, the whole world is listening back, and speaking out, too. And the NSA doesn’t like what it’s hearing.” Nor, one supposes, does Obama, his national security advisers, his entire retinue.

I find in this letter an unsuspected fount of eloquence, Snowden the Sacco and Vanzetti of our times, as his closing statements reveal, and which deserve to be thrown back in the face of the American power elite. Thus, “The culture of indiscriminate worldwide surveillance, exposed to public debates and real investigations on every continent, is collapsing.” This nod to what Brazil is doing: “Only three weeks ago, Brazil led the United Nations Human Rights Committee to recognize for the first time in history that privacy does not stop where the digital network starts, and that the mass surveillance of innocents is a violation of human rights.” Then: “The tide has turned, and we can finally see a future where we can enjoy security without sacrificing our privacy. Our rights cannot be limited by a secret organization, and American officials should never decide the freedoms of Brazilian citizens.” Snowden recalls his earlier principled stated: “I don’t want to live in a world where everything that I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity or love or friendship is recorded. That’s not something I’m willing to support, it’s not something I’m willing to live under.” For his pains, the US “had made me stateless and wanted to imprison me. The price for my speech was my passport, but I would pay it again: I will not be the one to ignore criminality for the sake of political comfort. I would rather be without a state than without a voice.”

I pray Brazil is listening to his words: “If Brazil hears only one thing from me, let it be this: when all of us band together against injustices and in defense of privacy and basic human rights, we can defend ourselves from even the most powerful systems.” And I pray even harder that America is listening. When one reviews the obstructions coming from all quarters toward the realization of fundamental human rights in the United States, glimpsed in the judicial and Congressional endeavors to silence dissent and the awareness of alternative ways of living, working, thinking, feeling, vivified by the actual powers of repression (no other word will do) we have bestowed for now on our leaders to implement over us, and through self-castration, on ourselves, then perhaps Snowden’s words, Judge Leon’s better instincts, the societal collective decency buried in the rubble of fear, xenophobia, consumerism, and yes, counterterrorism as a front to press for counterrevolution, will break free and give authentic expression to human freedom.

IV The Cusp of Fascism

My New York Times Comment on the editorial, Dec. 17, “A Powerful Rebuke of Mass Surveillance,” same date, follows:

All praise due The Times–and about time, for it did not take a court decision to show the USG flagrantly violated, taking on police-state proportions, Americans’ civil liberties. Indeed, a symbolic if not actual breakthrough, judicially, beyond Judge Leon’s findings, finally a legitimation in this area of both giving the plaintiffs standing (a rebuke to the Supreme Court) and the adversarial process (a rebuke to POTUS and DOJ, both forfeiting all respect for their bulldozer tactics).

I’m excited. This may be a break in the miasma of Obama’s National Security State and his use of counterterrorism to undermine democracy at home and conduct aggression abroad. (No mention of eavesdropping on foreign leaders in the decision, but integrally related to massive domestic surveillance.) For the first time in ages, we see CONSERVATISM on the side of principle, fulfilling–as in Leon’s reference to James Madison– the Founders’ custodianship of civil liberties, privacy, personal freedom.

We have as a nation blasphemed the tradition of constitutionalism, current Republicans (let alone Tea Partiers) no more than gut-reactionaries–if not worse, and Democrats, including liberals and progressives, gutless in the face of Obama’s grab for power and blatant contempt for civil liberties. Judge Leon is a lone voice for truth and sanity. We can be sure, USG and the Supreme Court will do everything possible to postpone, discredit, overturn the decision. We’re on the cusp of fascism.

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you can substitute any state you want for Utah..........

Today's word in the Smart Criminal Justice Consumer's Neighborhood is "recidivism".
Recidivism is a word used by the American Industrial Prison complex to describe how many
men and women return to prison once they are released from the taxpayer funded electronic cesspools called prisons oops
excuse me I meant correctional institutions. Helps to use the right brand name  ,eh?

Recidivism is the word Utah Commissioner of Corrections  Rollin Cook uses when he appears before the legislature
to ask for funding.  The word is supposed to be an active barometer of the success or failure of Utah Department of Corrections
use of the Utah taxpayer tax dollar.  Of course this word does not tell you how many men and women commit new crimes once
they are released from  "correctional institutions"  because these person have to first get caught before they become a recidivist.
So if a former inmate commits dozens of crimes before being caught what does that  tell you about using the word recidivism?
Of course being a smart criminal justice consumer you already knew this.
Recidivism does not tell you of the tremendous contamination that takes places in these taxpayer funded electronic cesspools
when pedophiles murderers,  arsonists, rapists ,armed robbers live with each other 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for years at a time. Yea I know you are going to say "at least they are not sleeping next to anyone from Goldman Sachs and Bank of America.

Think what might happen if these inmates were serving their sentences at the Utah Center for the Research Into Alternative Energy?
Where they spent their time alongside physicists,chemists and engineers  24/7 for years at a time.

The current criminal justice system crime family component known as the Department of Corrections is staffed by men and women who are former vets who invaded Iraq for Exxon Mobil and BP managing to kill tens of thousands of women and children and an occasional freedom fighter trying to protect his family from this US invasion of high school drop outs. Over 85% of the men and women working at the Utah DOC are former vets who have the ethics, and morality of serial killing mercenaries.
I know some of you will say the reason a lot of people turn to crime is because they cannot find jobs because the economy has tanked
because  our tax dime goes to funding invasions of middle east and African countries for their vast reserves of oil.
But as a smart criminal justice consumer you already knew this, eh?

Over 60% of the men and women released from the Utah Department of Corrections will return to prison,usually within 2 years.
Of course  Commissioner of Correction Rollin does not tell the Utah Legislature the person is released from prison as a more vicious and competent criminal.  i know you are going to tell me it is common practice in Utah to buy a product from a company that has a 60% failure rate. Here is the the Utah DOC crime family brand public relations press release. But as a smart criminal justice consumer you already knew this.  see link   http://corrections.utah.gov/


Our dedicated team of professionals ensures public safety by effectively managing offenders while maintaining close collaboration with partner agencies and the community. Our team is devoted to providing maximum opportunities for offenders to make lasting changes through accountability, treatment, education, and positive reinforcement within a safe environment.

Food Behind Bars Isn’t Fit for Your Dog
see link for full story  http://rigorousintuition.ca/board2/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=37544
Dec 22, 2013

By Chris Hedges

Shares in the Philadelphia-based Aramark Holdings Corp., which contracts through Aramark Correctional Services to provide the food to 600 correctional institutions across the United States, went public Thursday. The corporation, acquired in 2007 for $8.3 billion by investors that included Goldman Sachs, raised $725 million last week from the sale of the stock. It is one more sign that the business of locking up poor people in corporate America is booming.

Aramark, whose website says it provides 1 million meals a day to prisoners, does what corporations are doing throughout the society: It lavishes campaign donations on pliable politicians, who in turn hand out state and federal contracts to political contributors, as well as write laws and regulations to benefit their corporate sponsors at the expense of the poor. Aramark fires unionized workers inside prisons and jails and replaces them with underpaid, nonunionized employees. And it makes sure the food is low enough in both quality and portion to produce huge profits.

Aramark, often contracted to provide food to prisoners at about a dollar a meal, is one of numerous corporations, from phone companies to construction firms, that have found our grotesque system of mass incarceration to be very profitable. The bodies of the poor, when they are not captive, are worth little to corporations. But bodies behind bars can each generate $40,000 to $50,000 a year for corporate coffers. More than 2.2 million men and women are in prisons and jails in the U.S.

Crystal Jordan, who has spent 23 years as a corrections officer in New Jersey and who works at the Burlington County Jail, and another corrections officer at the jail, who did not want to be named, told me that the food doled out to prisoners by Aramark is not only substandard but often spoiled. For nearly a decade Jordan has filed complaints about the conditions in the jail, including persistent mold on walls and elsewhere, with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and state and county officials. The results of her complaints have been negligible.

“The big shift came in 2004 when the state got rid of the employees who worked in the kitchen and gave the food service contract to Aramark,” said Jordan, who has sent several complaints about jail kitchen conditions to state and county authorities. “The food was not great [earlier], but the officers ate it along with the prisoners. Once Aramark came in, that changed. The bread was stale. I saw food in the kitchen with mold on it. The refrigerator broke down and the food was left outside in the cold or trucked in from another facility. Those who ate the food began to get sick. The officers demanded the right to bring in their own food or order out, which the jail authorities granted. But the prisoners had no choice. Diarrhea and vomiting is common among the prisoners. A few weeks ago one of the officers got a bowl of the prisoners’ chili. We all told him not to eat it. He ended up with diarrhea in the bathroom.”

Many of those incarcerated in prisons or jails such as Union County Jail in Elizabeth, N.J., where Aramark runs the food service, echo Jordan’s account. They say that sickness and persistent hunger are becoming a routine part of being incarcerated.

“The food gives everybody in the jail diarrhea,” said James Gibbs, 52, who recently spent two weeks in Union County Jail and previously had spent two years there. “There was never enough food. People were hungry all the time.”

Al Gordon, 45, said he was in Union County Jail when nearly everyone came down with food poisoning from tacos. “It was awful,” he said when we spoke in Elizabeth. “All the prisoners, except the ones who were vegetarian and who did not eat the meat in the tacos, had diarrhea for three days. Whenever we tried to eat anything for those three days we threw it back up. We were all sweating and felt dizzy.”

Gordon had a job in the jail’s kitchen, where he helped prepare the food, usually under the supervision of two Aramark employees. “There were mice running around and mice droppings everywhere,” he said. “The utensils for cooking were dirty. Many of the prisoners preparing the food would use the bathroom and then not wash their hands or wear gloves. Hair fell into the food. The bread was stale and hard. And the portions we were required to serve were real small. You could eat six portions like the ones we served ... and still be hungry. If we put more than the required portion on the tray the Aramark people would make us take it off. It wasn’t civilized. I lost 30 pounds. I would wake up at night and put toothpaste in my mouth to get rid of the hunger urge. The only way a person survived in there was to have money on the books to order from the canteen, but I didn’t have no money. It was especially bad for the diabetics, and there are a lot of diabetics behind bars.”
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see link for full story

 26 December 2013 17:13

Outrageous HSBC Settlement Proves the Drug War is a Joke





Outrageous HSBC Settlement Proves the Drug War is a Joke

“If you've ever been arrested on a drug charge, if you've ever spent even a day in jail for having a stem of marijuana in your pocket or "drug paraphernalia" in your gym bag, Assistant Attorney General and longtime Bill Clinton pal Lanny Breuer has a message for you: Bite me.

Breuer this week signed off on a settlement deal with the British banking giant HSBC that is the ultimate insult to every ordinary person who's ever had his life altered by a narcotics charge. Despite the fact that HSBC admitted to laundering billions of dollars for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels (among others) and violating a host of important banking laws (from the Bank Secrecy Act to the Trading With the Enemy Act), Breuer and his Justice Department elected not to pursue criminal prosecutions of the bank, opting instead for a "record" financial settlement of $1.9 billion, which as one analyst noted is about five weeks of income for the bank…

…Though this was not stated explicitly, the government's rationale in not pursuing criminal prosecutions against the bank was apparently rooted in concerns that putting executives from a "systemically important institution" in jail for drug laundering would threaten the stability of the financial system. The New York Times put it this way:

Federal and state authorities have chosen not to indict HSBC, the London-based bank, on charges of vast and prolonged money laundering, for fear that criminal prosecution would topple the bank and, in the process, endanger the financial system.

It doesn't take a genius to see that the reasoning here is beyond flawed. When you decide not to prosecute bankers for billion-dollar crimes connected to drug-dealing and terrorism (some of HSBC's Saudi and Bangladeshi clients had terrorist ties, according to a Senate investigation), it doesn't protect the banking system, it does exactly the opposite. It terrifies investors and depositors everywhere, leaving them with the clear impression that even the most "reputable" banks may in fact be captured institutions whose senior executives are in the employ of (this can't be repeated often enough) murderersand terrorists. Even more shocking, the Justice Department's response to learning about all of this was to do exactly the same thing that the HSBC executives did in the first place to get themselves in trouble – they took money to look the other way.

And not only did they sell out to drug dealers, they sold out cheap. You'll hear bragging this week by the Obama administration that they wrested a record penalty from HSBC, but it's a joke. Some of the penalties involved will literally make you laugh out loud. This is from Breuer's announcement:

As a result of the government's investigation, HSBC has . . . "clawed back" deferred compensation bonuses given to some of its most senior U.S. anti-money laundering and compliance officers, and agreed to partially defer bonus compensation for its most senior officials during the five-year period of the deferred prosecution agreement.

Wow. So the executives who spent a decade laundering billions of dollars will have to partially defer their bonuses during the five-year deferred prosecution agreement? Are you fucking kidding me? That's the punishment? The government's negotiators couldn't hold firm on forcing HSBC officials to completely wait to receive their ill-gotten bonuses? They had to settle on making them "partially" wait? Every honest prosecutor in America has to be puking his guts out at such bargaining tactics. What was the Justice Department's opening offer – asking executives to restrict their Caribbean vacation time to nine weeks a year?”


Another one knocked out of the park by Matt Taibbi. Share this article with anybody who still doubts our government and Wall Street’s collusion with international drug dealers. - Wes

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Thursday, 26 December 2013 17:07

NSA Had Secret Contract with RSA



Off the World News Desk:

NSA Had Secret Contract with RSA

“As a key part of a campaign to embed encryption software that it could crack into widely used computer products, the U.S. National Security Agency arranged a secret $10 million contract with RSA, one of the most influential firms in the computer security industry, Reuters has learned.

Documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show that the NSA created and promulgated a flawed formula for generating random numbers to create a "back door" in encryption products, the New York Times reported in September. Reuters later reported that RSA became the most important distributor of that formula by rolling it into a software tool called Bsafe that is used to enhance security in personal computers and many other products.

Undisclosed until now was that RSA received $10 million in a deal that set the NSA formula as the preferred, or default, method for number generation in the BSafe software, according to two sources familiar with the contract. Although that sum might seem paltry, it represented more than a third of the revenue that the relevant division at RSA had taken in during the entire previous year, securities filings show.

The earlier disclosures of RSA's entanglement with the NSA already had shocked some in the close-knit world of computer security experts. The company had a long history of championing privacy and security, and it played a leading role in blocking a 1990s effort by the NSA to require a special chip to enable spying on a wide range of computer and communications products.”

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Friday, Jan. 3, 2014

No new arrests in bad-police sting

Nearly a year ago, federal agents unveiled a sting operation that embarrassed police departments across metro Atlanta. It accused officers of using their badges and guns to protect cocaine transactions for a street gang.

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ACLU calls on Cranston Mayor Fung to have independent investigation of parking-ticket scandal



CRANSTON — The Rhode Island Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union and two City Council members are challenging the decision by Mayor Allan W. Fung to have the police investigate their own parking ticket scandal.

The ACLU said Fung should have had an independent law enforcement agency such as the state police or a private investigative agency probe the scandal. And Councilmen Steven A. Stycos and Paul H. Archetto said the state police should be called in.

“They are all comrades in arms,” Archetto said of the city Police Department. “It’s a brotherhood and it’s closely knit.”

Three weeks ago, Stycos and Archetto disclosed at a council meeting that the police blitzed their wards with parking tickets the day after the councilmen joined in a vote to reject a proposed labor contract that the police union wanted.

Stycos and Archetto said Friday that the city police have significant conflicts of interest, due to working and familial relationships and friendships.

Stycos added that an official of the police labor union is implicated in wrongdoing and that a rank-and-file officer giving evidence in the internal investigation might be intimidated, worried that the union would not back him if he offended the union official.

Fung has arranged for a New Jersey company to review an eventual report of the findings by the city police, in an effort to ensure the quality of the internal investigation. The company is that of Louis F. Stephens Sr., a former supervisory special agent in the New York field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Steven Brown, executive director of the ACLU, wrote a letter to Fung dated Jan. 2 asking him to clarify the limits of Stephens’ assignment, particularly whether Stephens will be able to look beyond the report.

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Telecom Believed to Be at Center of Government Court Fight Files Surveillance Transparency Report

Credo CEO Michael Kieschnick, whose company is believed to be at the heart of a historic legal battle over the secrecy of government surveillance.

Credo CEO Michael Kieschnick, whose company is believed to be at the heart of a historic legal battle over the secrecy of government surveillance. Image: Credo

A small telecom believed to be at the center of a historic court battle over government surveillance published its first transparency report on Thursday, noting that it had received 16 government requests for customer data in 2013. But the report may be most significant for what it doesn’t say.

Credo Mobile, the first telecom to release a transparency report, received just 15 requests for customer data pursuant to subpoena, summons or court order and one emergency request for data. But the most significant part of the report may be the government requests it doesn’t list.

A press release accompanying the report notes that it may be incomplete because legal restrictions prevent companies like Credo from disclosing certain kinds of government requests for customer data, such as those requested with a so-called National Security Letter or NSL.

“[D]ue to existing U.S. surveillance statutes that Credo is on the record opposing, such as the USA PATRIOT Act and the FISA Amendments Act, this report and those of other service providers may fall short of full transparency,” the note reads.

The report and statement are significant because Credo is believed to be the anonymous plaintiff at the heart of a historic legal battle over NSLs — a fight that began before documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed the extent of the government’s sweeping surveillance programs. That legal battle resulted in a court ruling last year saying that NSLs, and the mandatory gag orders that accompany them, are unconstitutional.

Credo transparency report identifying the 16 requests, including one emergency request, that the telecom received from government entities for customer data.

The Credo transparency report identifying 16 requests, including one emergency request, that the telecom received from government entities for customer data.

By law, gag orders can be imposed on telecom companies prohibiting them from disclosing requests for customer information that are issued under an NSL or under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act. The gag order also prohibits companies from disclosing whether they have complied with the order or challenged it in court.

Last year, after one telecom challenged the NSL it received, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco ruled ultra-secret National Security letters are an unconstitutional impingement on free speech, and ordered the government to stop issuing NSLs, a stunning defeat for the Obama administration’s surveillance practices. She also ordered the government to cease enforcing the gag provision in any other cases. However, she stayed her order for 90 days to give the government a chance to appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which it did.

The telecom, which is not identified in court documents but is believed to be Credo, received an NSL in 2011 from the FBI. The company took the extraordinary and rare step of challenging the underlying authority of the NSL, as well as the legitimacy of the gag order accompanying it. Both challenges are allowed under a federal law that governs NSLs, a power greatly expanded under the Patriot Act that allows the government to get detailed information on Americans’ finances and communications without judicial oversight. The FBI has issued hundreds of thousands of NSLs over the years and has been reprimanded for abusing them, though few requests have been challenged by the recipients.

After the telecom challenged the NSL, the Justice Department made the extraordinary move of suing the company, arguing in court documents that the company was violating the law by challenging its authority. That stunned the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is representing the anonymous telecom.

“It’s a huge deal to say you are in violation of federal law having to do with a national security investigation,” EFF’s Matt Zimmerman told WIRED at the time. “That is extraordinarily aggressive from my standpoint. They’re saying you are violating the law by challenging our authority here.”

In her ruling, Judge Illston said the NSL nondisclosure provisions “significantly infringe on speech regarding controversial government powers.” She noted that the telecom had been “adamant about its desire to speak publicly about the fact that it received the NSL at issue to further inform the ongoing public debate” on the government’s use of the letters. Illaston also said the review process for challenging an order violated the separation of powers. Because the gag order provisions cannot be separated from the rest of the statute, Illston ruled that the entire statute was unconstitutional.

The judge found that although the government made a strong argument for prohibiting the recipients of NSLs from disclosing to the target of an investigation or the public the specific information being sought by an NSL, the government did not provide compelling argument that the mere fact of disclosing that an NSL was received harmed national security interests. A blanket prohibition on disclosure, she found, was overly broad and “creates too large a danger that speech is being unnecessarily restricted.” She noted that 97 percent of the more than 200,000 NSLs that have been issued by the government were issued with nondisclosure orders.

Although the telecom was not identified in court documents that were released publicly, the Wall Street Journal used details that were revealed in them to narrow the likely plaintiffs to Credo in a story published in 2012. The company’s CEO, Michael Kieschnick, didn’t confirm or deny his company was the unidentified recipient of the NSL, but did release a statement following Illston’s ruling.

“This ruling is the most significant court victory for our constitutional rights since the dark day when George W. Bush signed the Patriot Act,” Kieschnick said. “This decision is notable for its clarity and depth. From this day forward, the U.S. government’s unconstitutional practice of using National Security Letters to obtain private information without court oversight and its denial of the First Amendment rights of National Security Letter recipients have finally been stopped by our courts.”

The redacted documents don’t indicate the exact information the government was seeking from the telecom, and EFF won’t disclose the details. But by way of general explanation, Zimmerman said at the time that the NSL statute allows the government to compel an ISP or website to hand over information about someone who posted anonymously to a message board or to compel a phone company to hand over “calling circle” information — that is, information about who has communicated with someone by phone.

An FBI agent could give a telecom a name or a phone number, for example, and ask for the numbers and identities of anyone who has communicated with that person. “They’re asking for association information – who do you hang out with, who do you communicate with, [in order] to get information about previously unknown people.

“That’s the fatal flaw with this [law],” Zimmerman told WIRED last year. “Once the FBI is able to do this snooping, to find out who Americans are communicating with and associating with, there’s no remedy that makes them whole after the fact. So there needs to be some process in place so the court has the ability ahead of time to step in [on behalf of Americans].”

The company said in its statement Thursday that it supports the full repeal of the USA PATRIOT Act and the FISA Amendments Act and is working to pass Rep. Rush Holt’s Surveillance State Repeal Act.

“Credo, which supports the repeal of the USA PATRIOT Act and FISA Amendments Act, a plea bargain or clemency for Edward Snowden, and an end to the retroactive immunity granted to protect telecom companies from facing charges for colluding with the NSA in the illegal wiretapping of Americans, is releasing the report to increase transparency around governmental requests for customer information,” the company said in a statement.

Credo’s transparency report follows in the tradition begun by Google and other internet service providers to release transparency reports about the number of government requests they receive for customer data. Google and other companies have been battling the government to be able to release more information than their transparency reports currently cover. Late last year, Verizon and AT&T announced that they would be releasing a transparency report in 2014 — their first.

But Credo took a swipe at its fellow telecoms in its statement on Thursday, saying that it had opposed the immunity granted by Congress to telecoms like Verizon and AT&T after previous revelations that the companies cooperated with the Bush administration’s illegal wiretapping program without trying to fight it.

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Man who shot video of Border Patrol arrest of undocumented worker arrested
Border Patrol claims no excessive force was used

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SAN DIEGO - The man who shot cell phone video showing a Border Patrol agent struggling to arrest an undocumented worker has been arrested. Family members and his attorney are demanding answers and wondering whether the arrest was in retaliation for sharing the video with 10News.

Jose Guzman said he shot the video because he believed the Border Patrol agent went too far when he was arresting the man.

American Civil Liberties Union attorney Mitra Ebadoulahi agreed. 

"I think this is a classic example of what we call excessive use of force in its literal definition," said Ebadoulahi. "The force is excessive, it's uncalled for."

After the incident, Border Patrol agents went to Guzman's home demanding the video.  Because he is a parolee, he agreed to hand it over without a search warrant. His girlfriend says he refused to help agents locate a second undocumented worker who got away.

"They asked him to call the guy and ask him where he lives, I think, like to kind of set him up," said Erica Garcia, who told 10News Guzman did not want to get involved in helping authorities arrest his coworker. "So they got upset because he wouldn't do it, and they told him he can go to jail for helping the other guy."

Two days later, Garcia says Guzman got a call from his probation officer, telling him the GPS ankle bracelet he is required to wear was not working properly. When Guzman went in to have the device checked, he was arrested.

"I just hope they let him go because it's not fair," she said.
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http://www.sacbee.com/2014/09/10/669623 ... tment.html

Misconduct at Justice Department isn’t always prosecuted

Published: Wednesday, Sep. 10, 2014 - 1:49 pm
Last Modified: Wednesday, Sep. 10, 2014 - 2:29 pm

WASHINGTON -- Dozens of Justice Department officials, ranging from FBI special agents and prison wardens to high-level federal prosecutors, have escaped prosecution

or firing in recent years despite findings of misconduct by the department’s own internal watchdog.

Most of the names of the investigated officials, even the highest-ranking, remain under wraps. But documents McClatchy obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal for the first time a startling array of alleged transgressions uncovered by the department’s inspector general.

These include:

– Investigators concluded an assistant U.S. attorney “lacked candor” when interviewed by FBI agents investigating her husband’s “embezzlement activity.” The prosecutor also “made misleading and contradictory” statements to other investigators who were asking about her husband’s criminal activities. She was “verbally admonished” this year, but the Justice Department opted not to prosecute.

– A U.S. attorney violated federal laws and regulations by accepting a partially paid trip to a foreign country by a nonprofit organization, according to investigators. The unnamed presidential appointee was given a written admonishment and he was ordered to reimburse the organization. Prosecution was declined.

– Two FBI supervisory special agents accepted free tickets to the NBA All-Star Game and gave them to family members. One agent “lied under oath” about his actions, and was found to have misused government resources to “engage in extramarital affairs with three women.” That agent resigned after the bureau proposed his dismissal and the other was suspended for three days. Neither was prosecuted.

– An FBI assistant special agent in charge sexually harassed female subordinates, retaliated against a female special agent who refused to have a relationship with him and used his FBI-issued BlackBerry to pursue romantic relationships with 17 FBI employees, nine of whom were direct subordinates, as well as 29 other women. In January, the FBI told the inspector general it had issued an undisclosed disciplinary action. No charges were brought. In a statement to McClatchy, the FBI said it couldn’t comment on an “ongoing personnel matter.”

The records, which cover the period from January 2010 to March 2014, detail some 80 cases, only a few of which appear to have been previously made public. The accused officials work for agencies that include the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

In at least 27 cases, the inspector general identified evidence of possible criminal wrongdoing but no one was prosecuted.

These previously undisclosed cases, and dozens of others like them reviewed by McClatchy, reveal more than an underside to federal law enforcement. The cases underscore how much discretion federal prosecutors have in deciding whether to press charges, and they raise questions about when and why this discretion is applied.

“I think it’s fair to ask why some of these cases weren’t prosecuted,” Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said in an interview. “That’s clearly a concern we have: To make sure there are not two standards of justice at the Department of Justice.”

However, he said it’s understandable in many cases that criminal charges aren’t filed. His office presents a case for prosecution in every instance where there’s “credible evidence that could support elements of a crime, even when it’s weak.”

The reports come, however, amid an overall decline in public corruption prosecutions during the Obama administration. So far this year, records obtained by the nonpartisan Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University show that 34 percent of investigators’ referrals of public corruption allegations were accepted for prosecution.

During the George W. Bush presidency, records show, 41.6 percent of the official corruption referrals resulted in prosecution.

Gauging the reasons behind an individual prosecutor’s decision-making is nearly impossible, because the Justice Department and inspector general’s office won’t release most of the names or discuss the details of the cases.

Justice Department records show that federal prosecutors nationwide declined a total of 25,629 criminal matters during fiscal year 2013. The reasons most commonly reported included weak or insufficient evidence and lack of criminal intent.

Peter Carr, a Justice Department spokesman, said prosecutors followed federal rules when deciding whether to initiate or decline charges in a case.

Carr pointed to the U.S Attorney’s Manual, which says, “Federal law enforcement resources and federal judicial resources are not sufficient to permit prosecution of every alleged offense over which federal jurisdiction exists.”

“Public corruption cases are very fact-specific, and statistics fluctuate routinely year by year,” Carr said Tuesday. “The decision to bring a case involves a number of factors, all covered by the Principles of Federal Prosecution, which may include the seriousness of the allegation, the admissible evidence and whether there is a substantial federal interest in pursuing charges.”

The inspector general’s summary of unprosecuted cases was provided to Republican Sens. Charles Grassley of Iowa and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, and independently obtained by McClatchy through a FOIA request.

Grassley said he agreed that not all cases warranted prosecution. However, he called for more transparency in the decisions “because of the obvious appearance of a conflict of interest.”

“The public needs to be reassured that the department doesn’t have one standard for its own employees and another standard for everybody else,” he said.

Other cases federal prosecutors declined that were cited in the documents obtained by McClatchy include:

– Allegations against an unnamed prosecutor who was recused from involvement with a criminal investigation because of a personal relationship with a criminal target. The inspector general, however, concluded the prosecutor had disclosed information about the investigation and the wiretap to her spouse, “who subsequently disclosed it to the target.” The prosecutor initially denied revealing the information to her spouse, but subsequently acknowledged that she might have “said something” about the investigation. The prosecutor retired last November.

The husband of former Assistant U.S. Attorney Paula Burnett in New Mexico was convicted last September of leaking details of an investigation to Mexican drug cartel members. Burnett retired late last year, according to news accounts. The inspector general and the U.S. attorney’s office in New Mexico wouldn’t confirm whether it was the same case. Burnett declined to comment.

– The inspector general’s review found $211,000 in questionable purchases at a district U.S. marshals’ office, including “ceremonial and promotional” items previously banned by headquarters, personal or other wasteful items. The investigators concluded that the marshal and the chief deputy marshal had misspent funds, knowingly misused the government purchase card program and violated public service laws. Disciplinary action was still pending this year.

– Investigators concluded that an immigration judge had solicited attorneys to purchase jewelry from her, borrowed money from a lawyer and interpreter, and failed to recuse herself from cases that involved lawyers representing her relatives in criminal matters. The Executive Office for Immigration Review, which oversees immigration judges, “proposed disciplinary action” in January. Spokeswoman Kathryn Mattingly said her office “does not comment on personnel matters.”

Several cases also involve prosecutors misusing their positions, including one who’d sent emails on behalf of her boyfriend, disclosed sensitive information to him without authorization, used government databases to conduct legal research for him, gave him access to government computer accounts and sent a gift to an attorney to get her boyfriend legal assistance. In December 2011, she received a letter of suspension for 14 days.

In the interview, Horowitz wouldn’t comment on specific cases but he added that he’s personally appealed to U.S. attorneys to consider prosecution in some instances.

“I pick up the phone and call them,” said Horowitz, a former longtime federal prosecutor who handled corruption cases in New York.

Horowitz’s role is not to make the prosecution decisions, but to ensure that prosecutors get the information they need .

“There are some where I might have pulled the trigger. But I’m not a prosecutor anymore so I respect the discretion not to. I can’t think of any case where a decision was made not to prosecute that I thought was unreasonable,” he said.

Some of the misconduct cases may not be pursued because they involve “low-dollar” waste or abuse, Horowitz said. Or cases may be seen as too tough to prosecute, sometimes for the wrong reasons, he added, such as the sexual abuse of prisoners. Prosecutors can view prisoners as unsympathetic witnesses.

Before Horowitz took over in 2012, the inspector general’s office disagreed with a federal prosecutor who didn’t want to file charges. In that case, a correctional officer had accepted $1,300 from an undercover agent in exchange for agreeing to smuggle tobacco into a correctional facility. After prosecutors from the federal district based in Houston declined to pursue criminal charges, a local district attorney took the case. The officer later pleaded guilty to bribery, was sentenced to probation and was fined $2,000.

Earl Devaney, a former inspector general for the Department of Interior, said a decision not to pursue criminal charges didn’t necessarily mean investigators or prosecutors were pulling their punches.

“There are always a lot of good reasons to not prosecute,” he said. “Also, you can have a thousand little crappy cases that just make you look good and just one case that has enormous impact.”

Devaney nonetheless added that he’d found the Justice Department’s public integrity unit, which is set up to prosecute cases of high-level corruption, to be “risk adverse” in the past. He worked with it as part of a federal task force that investigated superlobbyist Jack Abramoff and his influence peddling.

Sometimes, alleged misconduct by prosecutors and investigators might be handled less aggressively because of concern that it would taint criminal cases, Devaney said. At trial, defense attorneys are permitted to learn of serious misconduct of the agents and prosecutors involved in their cases.

According to the most recent report by the office, the Justice Department’s inspector general received nearly 5,900 allegations of misconduct, opened 195 investigations and was involved in 32 arrests and 38 convictions from October through March.

This year, for instance, a former federal correctional officer in Missouri was sentenced for trying to hire an inmate to murder his wife’s ex-husband.

However, the Justice Department’s inspector general doesn’t break down details on prosecutions. As a result, McClatchy couldn’t determine the prosecution rate for the office’s cases.

At least one other inspector general does report such statistics. The Interior Department Inspector General’s Office opened 742 cases in the year that ended March 31. During the same period, the office reported referring 44 cases for possible prosecution. Nineteen cases were declined.

During the same year, the Department of Homeland Security opened 551 investigations, referred 322 for prosecution and had 196 declined.

Horowitz is one of some 72 federal inspectors general, spanning myriad federal agencies. They are auditors, in part, scrutinizing government agencies in hopes of rooting out waste and inefficiencies. In fiscal 2013, for instance, the inspectors general identified $44.9 billion in funds that could be “put to better use.”

Inspectors general also investigate criminal allegations. In fiscal 2013, their work led to 6,705 successful criminal prosecutions.

The agencies make the calls on disciplinary action.

In the Justice Department cases, Devaney said he was struck by instances of weak punishment.

“An oral admonishment is not a deterrent,” Devaney said.

One case was triggered by a complaint by Grassley about FBI Assistant Director Stephen Kelly. Kelly, who managed the bureau’s Office of Congressional Affairs, told Grassley’s staff that the FBI knew that the senator planned to attend the wedding of a “subject” of an FBI investigation, according to the inspector general’s report.

“He assured Senator Grassley that he was not a focus of the FBI investigation,” the documents say.

“The OIG concluded that Kelly did not have the authority to disclose nonpublic information about an ongoing criminal investigation to Senator Grassley or his staff, and in doing so exhibited poor judgment,” the report states.

Grassley’s office said the senator never planned to attend the wedding and was invited by the son of the target of the investigation. The target was Russell Wasendorf Sr., founder of Peregrine Financial Group Inc., who pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $100 million from customers.

“Senator Grassley and the staff member who spoke with Mr. Kelly both thought the disclosure was inappropriate, and could have been intimidating to somebody who hasn’t dealt with the FBI like Senator Grassley and his staff have,” said Grassley spokeswoman Beth Levine.

This year, the FBI concluded that the allegation Kelly had violated internal policy was “unsubstantiated” and gave him “nondisciplinary counseling.”

“FBI concluded that Kelly’s disclosure of nonpublic information derived from an ongoing investigation was improper, for which he received nondisciplinary counseling,” the bureau said in a statement. “The FBI’s Office of Congressional Affairs must be afforded some measure of latitude and flexibility in dealing with members of Congress. As this instance did not result in harm to the ongoing investigation, and was done with good intentions, the matter did not constitute official misconduct.”
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Idaho's tragedy at Ruby Ridge

September 14 2014

On Aug. 21, 1992, gunshots echoed through the woods at Ruby Ridge, a few miles northwest of Bonners Ferry. The shootout was between deputy U.S. marshals and the Randy and Vicki Weaver family that lived in a cabin in the woods to home-school their kids and escape what they believed was a corrupted world, while waiting for the apocalypse.

When the shooting stopped, Weaver's 14-year-old son Sammy and his dog Striker were dead - Sammy shot in the back by Deputy U.S. Marshal William Francis Degan. The next day, Randy Weaver was wounded and his wife Vicki also dead. So too was Deputy Degan.

It was one of the ugliest events in recent Idaho history.

Weaver, 44, was a former factory worker in Iowa and a U.S. Army Green Beret. Wishing to start a new life away from civilization, the Weavers moved to North Idaho in 1983 and bought 20 acres in the Selkirk Mountains forest and started building their cabin home, plus a guest cabin, to quietly raise their two children. But despite the remote location, they couldn't avoid trouble.

In a business dispute with neighbor Terry Kinnison, Weaver won a resulting lawsuit. In retaliation, Kinnison sent letters to the FBI, Secret Service and county sheriff claiming that Weaver was threatening to kill the President, the Pope and Idaho Gov. John V. Evans. He also claimed Weaver had a large cache of weapons, and was a member of the racist Aryan Nation, operating an hour's drive south in Hayden.

The libelous attacks brought in law enforcement authorities, triggering the tragic events that followed.

Unsurprisingly, the feds and local law enforcement jumped on the accusations immediately. The Weavers spent hours meeting with authorities, denying all of it.

They denied the threats, the weapons charge and membership in the Aryan Nation. Investigators, however, discovered that he did associate with Frank Kumnick, who knew members of the Aryans.

The trail of events that led to the Ruby Ridge shootout started in July 1986, when Kumnick invited Weaver to a meeting of the Aryan Nation and introduced him to Kenneth Fadeley, a member who was a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) informant. They met several times over the next three years.

Then in 1989, the ATF accused Weaver of selling Fadeley two sawed-off shotguns, with barrels shorter than allowed by law. Weaver said the agents sawed them off shorter, not him. The ATF then tried to recruit him as an informant to avoid prosecution, but Weaver refused. The agency retaliated by filing false charges accusing him of being a bank robber with criminal convictions. That December, a federal grand jury indicted him for making and possessing - but not for selling - illegal weapons.

Weaver was known for his distrust of government and events were confirming he had reason to.

He was arrested and told his trial would start on Feb. 19, 1991. Then began a series of bureaucratic paperwork and court scheduling snafus, plus an inability to communicate with Weaver was leading the family inexorably to Aug. 21, 1992. A warrant for his arrest was issued and the marshals called to bring him in.

Weaver wouldn't make that easy, holing up in his cabin and the matter dragged on for over a year. He believed there was a conspiracy against him, and threatened to resist with force any attempt to arrest him. The conflicting signals he was receiving from government agencies convinced him he could not get a fair trial. When vehicles approached, the Weavers would be armed and in the surrounding woods until they determined the visitor.

At first, authorities were able to communicate with him through intermediaries but then that stopped. The Marshals Service planned an attack, setting up surveillance cameras, with armed agents hiding in the woods.

Then on April 18, Geraldo Rivera reporting for the "Now It Can Be Told" TV show flew over the property in a helicopter, and Weaver was later accused of shooting at it. There was no evidence of this, and even Richard Weiss the helicopter pilot repeatedly denied it. That didn't stop Marshals Service's Wayne "Duke" Smith and FBI's Richard Rogers from using the alleged shooting as a justification for issuing rules of engagement (ROE) instructions to their agents.

U.S. Attorney Ron Howen joined in the accusations, despite the lack of proof.

Agents were told to use military rules of engagement, different to FBI standard deadly force policy. Later, several snipers testified that they considered those orders to be a green light to "shoot on sight."

Matters remained tense for the next four months, with neither side giving an inch. Then on Aug. 21, the feds made their move. Like a final scene in a military action movie, marshals dressed in camouflage, with night-vision goggles and M16 rifles moved in to set up an observation post near the cabin.

They threw two rocks at the cabin to test the pet dogs' reaction. Thinking it was possibly game to shoot because they were running out of meat, Weaver's friend Kevin Harris, 24, and 14-year-old son Samuel Weaver along with their dog Striker came out to investigate.

The marshals pulled back about 500 yards westward to a Y in the trail and hid. Soon, Sammy, Harris and Striker came along, while Randy Weaver took a separate trail. The rest of the family stayed home.

At the Y, they encountered the marshals and the shootout erupted. Harris returned fire and killed Deputy U.S. Marshal Degan. It's unclear who fired first, but Deputy Art Roderick shot and killed Striker and Sammy was shot in the back and killed while retreating.

A total of 19 rounds were fired in the battle at the Y. Later, Randy and Vicki returned to retrieve their son's body and placed it in the guest cabin.

The following day, as Randy, 16-year-old daughter Sara and Harris were visiting Sammy's body, Randy was shot in the back by FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi, but survived - the bullet passing through his right armpit. Though wounded, Weaver along with Sara and Harris ran back toward the main cabin. Vicki was standing by the door holding her 10-month-old baby Elisheba. Horiuchi then fired a second bullet, which passed through Vicki's head, killing her and then hitting Harris in the chest.

The standoff lasted another 12 days, with hundreds of federal agents surrounding the cabin. Finally the Weavers surrendered.

Randy Weaver was acquitted of all charges except for failing to appear in court, and was sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined $10,000. Harris was acquitted of all charges.

Public outrage broke out across the nation over the violent actions at Ruby Ridge by the federal law enforcement agencies.

When the long legal process ended, Randy Weaver was awarded $100,000 and his three daughters $1 million each. The Weavers returned to Iowa, and Harris filed a civil suit and won $380,000.

FBI sniper Horiuchi was charged with manslaughter but never stood trial.

The Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Government Information held hearing from Sept. 6-Oct. 19, 1995. At the hearings, FBI Director Louis Freeh admitted that, "law enforcement overreacted at Ruby Ridge," calling the federal actions as "synonymous with the exaggerated application of federal law enforcement." Fourteen FBI agents received minor punishment (Eight months later, the same government agencies plus others - and including some of the same personnel at Ruby Ridge - were at Waco, Texas, in another shootout, though facing an entirely different situation).

In 1993, Kevin Harris was indicted for first-degree murder in the death of Deputy Marshal Degan but acquitted, the court declaring that he was acting in self-defense. Four years later - just before the statute of limitations ran out - a zealous Boundary County prosecutor filed a murder charge against him, but the charge was tossed out on grounds of double-jeopardy, having already been acquitted in the earlier trial.

Randy Weaver and daughter Sara had their say about the tragedy, writing a paperback book, The Federal Siege at Ruby Ridge.

This sad episode of Idaho history was about a family that wanted to be left alone but were thrust back into a world they sought to escape by a vindictive neighbor and zealous government agents who wouldn't follow the rules.

Syd Albright is a writer/journalist/biographer living in Post Falls. Contact him at silverflix@roadrunner.com.

The negotiators...

One report says, "Many of the people used by the marshals as third party go-betweens on the Weaver case - Bill and Judy Grider, Alan Jeppeson, Richard Butler - were evaluated by the marshals as more radical than the Weavers themselves." Butler, co-inventor of the tubeless tire, was leader of the white supremacist Aryan Nation.

Celebrities part of the story...

Two well-known personalities were part of this saga: Bo Gritz who ran as vice president with U.S. presidential candidate David Duke, formerly Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, helped negotiate an end to the standoff. Trial Lawyer Hall of Famer Gary Spence was Weaver's defense attorney, attacking the government's witnesses and evidence without offering a defense. He never lost a criminal case either as a prosecutor or a defense attorney.

Government shenanigans...

Weaver Trial Report: FBI tampered with evidence, and crime scene photos given to the defense were phony reenactments, and though the prosecutor knew this, he failed to inform the defense.
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0-Kilo Drug Bust at Paris Hilton’s Ranch in Costa Rica
CIA Plane in Big Aussie-American Heroin Bust
Posted on September 12, 2014 by Daniel Hopsicker        
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“Newly-obtained FAA registration records reveal that the American “mystery plane” busted this July with 35 kilos of heroin at an airport outside Sydney, Australia was a CIA plane. At least, it had been when it rolled off the assembly line 40 years earlier, courtesy a CIA deal with the U.S. Forest Service. And the CIA never sells off its planes. smokey-dokeyThe American-registered ‘mystery plane’ in Australia was a Merlin III twin–engine turbo-prop ( tail number N224HR).

FAA registration records show it was commissioned in the early 70’s by the U.S. Forest Service from aircraft manufacturer Swearingen in San Antonio, part of an operation to “sheep-dip” CIA planes through the U.S. Forest Service.

“Sheep-dip” is spook-speak for concealing the source or true ownership of something, or, at the very least, hiding it from Congress. When the plane was ordered, the CIA was merely anticipating Congressional calls for reining in the CIA, through (tellingly) forcing the Agency to divest its proprietary airlines.

By the time the plane was delivered two years later, the calls had grown much louder. In another two years, they’d become successful. More on this in a moment.
Hmm. A “sophisticated” drug network…

guns-drugsThe discovery of an American-registered plane delivering drugs at an Australian airport heralded, according to Australian law enforcement, a “sophisticated drug network” that had begun using the tiny Illawarra Regional Airport, 60 miles south of Sydney, to import guns and drugs.

The purchase in the U.S. of the Merlin III, and the plane’s subsequent two-month long saga on its journey “home” to Australia, an Australian law enforcement official told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, were actions undertaken at the behest of a “major international crime syndicate.”

Police were said to be “close-mouthed;”and “tight-lipped.” After revealing they had confiscated 35 kilos, they refused to identify the drug involved, which is heroin.

But Police prosecutor Sergeant Sean Thackray gave things away when he let slip, ‘‘We’re talking about the organization of a plane to import a large amount of a substance …. to the value of $9 million.’’

(Note: Price quotes per kilo for heroin in consuming countries vary widely, from a low of $100,000 to a high, in Australia, of all places, of $375,000. If we take a figure in the middle, $250,000, 35 kilos is worth $8.7 million, very close to Sgt. Thackray’s quote of $9 million.)
“Really? A major international syndicate?”

Ritual-Life-in-Punta-GordaWith the announcement that a global cartel was moving planes like chess pieces across a chessboard the size of the Outback, hope surged (in some circles) that a few American Drug Lords might finally achieve the recognition they deserve.

The twin-engine Merlin III was picked up in Punta Gorda, at the Charlotte County Airport, which is to general aviation what the Black Hole of Calcutta is to after-school detention.

BernieWhy were two Australian pilots picking up the Merlin III in Punta Gorda, Florida? The owner of the plane was a dentist in Colombia, Missouri.

A smart cop might have figured that pressing the flesh in Punta Gorda with a few American Drug Lords “might could” have provided folks living a little further off the beaten path some valuable networking opportunities.

Alas, smart cops are always the first to be let go. So the first well-publicized arrest in the Big Aussie-American Heroin Bust was a 43-year old Australian sky-diving instructor, Bernhard Stevermuer, charged with being part of a criminal organization and dealing with the proceeds of crime.

bernie2When Stevermuer was arrested, police found $70,000 in cash suspected of being the proceeds of drug trafficking. Authorities said that just days earlier, while they had him under surveillance, he had tried to buy an aviation business at a local Australian airport, making a $300,000 down payment…in cash.

Even middle schoolers just selling a little weed to pay for their Little League uniform, or fresh rugby togs, or a new cricket bat know this is an absolutely boneheaded play. It was not the kind of money-laundering move one expects to see from any self-respecting drug kingpin. So, just who—and where—are the cartel heavies?
Fire on the Mountain

Before the American public learned of the cozy deal to sheep-dip airplanes between the CIA and the Forest Service, 14 people had to burn to death in a forest fire in Colorado.



In August 1994, 14 firefighters burned to death in an out of control forest fire in Colorado. The inferno was sparked by lightning at the base of Storm King Mountain. Local firefighters, hotshots and smoke jumpers jumped in to fight it.

Winds whipped flames that grew to be 100 feet tall. The fire raged uphill, right at the firefighters. They fled. Fourteen were trapped and died.

Survivor Eric Hipke was forced to flee for his life…uphill.

“Flames crackling mere millimeters behind him, Hipke clambered up the last steep stretch of a rugged mountainside engulfed in fire. Hipke screamed and hurled himself over the ridge.Investigators concluded later that he made it with five seconds to spare.”

South_Canyon_Fire_1630-1700The Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration subsequently cited the Forest Service for “inadequate use of aviation resources. “Air support was inadequate for implementing strategies and tactics. Where were all the tankers?”

According to whistleblower, attorney and former CI
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