Tag Archives | Civil Liberties

Peoria Mayor Uses Police Department To Raid House Over Parody Twitter Account

341px-Twitter_logo.svgAaron Cynic writes at Chicagoist:

Last week, Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis finally became fed up with a suspended parody Twitter account and enacted swift justice against his would-be social media detractors. Ardis filed a criminal complaint regarding the nefarious internet ne’er-do-well behind @Peoriamayor, who tweeted some 50 times to followers about the mayor’s unverified and supposed drug use and association with prostitutes.

Twitter suspended the account in March, which was marked as a parody a week before it ended, but Ardis understood a social media slight was comparable to lawless anarchy. Realizing a relatively unknown Twitter feed might destroy his reputation as an important civic leader, Ardis made sure the Peoria Police took care of the Internet miscreants. Peoria police executed a search warrant and raided a home in connection with the account, detained several people for questioning and seized computers and smart phones.

“They brought me in like I was a criminal,” Michelle Pratt told the Peoria Journal Star.

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Why No One Really Won In The Trial Of The NATO 3

Aaron Cynic writes at Chicagoist:

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Assistant State’s Attorney John Blakey dubbed the three men “Mr. Cop on Fire,” “Captain Napalm” and “Professor Molotov” respectively, and of hatching a nearly super-villanous terrorism plot that would have included attacks on police stations, President Barack Obama’s Chicago campaign headquarters, Chase Tower and burning police officers in the streets.

The trial was the first time the Illinois State’s Attorney’s office prosecuted a case under a 12 year old terrorism law passed just after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Prosecutors argued the three men came to Chicago “ready for war” and presented the jury with inflammatory and incendiary statements the trio made recorded by undercover police, as well as four beer bottles filled partially with gasoline and a collection of various weapons including a bow and arrow, a throwing star, a slingshot and a homemade “shield” emblazoned with the words “austerity ain’t gonna happen.”

If one were to believe Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez Betterly, Chase and Church—who have spent nearly two years in Cook County Jail awaiting trial with $1.5 million bonds—were “cold, calculating terrorists.” Even Judge Thaddeus Wilson seemed to believe the rhetoric (at least in part) when he declined a move by the defense for a direct acquittal.

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New Mexico Woman Billed $5,000 After Horrific 6-Hour Cavity Search At U.S. Border

borderPerhaps most horrifying is that a hospital and its medical staff actively went along with this. The El Paso Times reports:

In a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday in El Paso by the American Civil Liberties Union, a 54-year-old New Mexico woman claims that she underwent a brutal six-hour full-body cavity search by federal officers that included anal and vaginal probes that made her feel like an “animal.”

The woman also is suing University Medical Center, where while handcuffed she was forced to have an observed bowel movement, was X-rayed, had a speculum exam, vaginal exam and had a CT scan. The suit claims the hospital then gave her the $5,000 bill. Despite the six-hour search at the [border] and then later at UMC, no drugs were found.

The search took place when the woman was coming back from seeing a family friend, whom she calls “uncle” and tries to visit once a month.

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TSA: What Is it Good For?

The-Simpsons-vs-the-TSA(TSA) isn’t as effective at detecting suspicious characters as one might think. The Government Accounting Office (GAO) has reviewed the TSA’s Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) program was evaluated at being “the same or slightly better than chance.”

The SPOT program since 2007 cost $900 million. The TSA has failed to collect consistent data to prove the effectiveness of the behavioral detection program; worse yet, the SPOT program was initiated without any scientific validation. For reason, the GAO has recommended that Congress cut off funding to this program, something that the Department of Homeland Security disagrees with.

You think that’s bad? That’s only the tip of the damning iceberg.

Anti-TSA activist Johnathan Corbett, who filed a lawsuit against the agency on the faulty nature of their body scanners found a particularly revealing document that declares the probability of terrorists hijacking planes in the United States.

VIA TechDirt

Jonathan Corbett, a long-time vocal critic of TSA body scanners, has been engaged in a lawsuit against the government concerning the constitutionality of those scanners.

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The Manufacture of “Surveillance by Consent” Part 2 – Is Mass Surveillance So Bad If You Can’t See It?

One nation under CCTV
Image by T.J.Blackwell

In the dark ages known as the twentieth century, mass surveillance of entire populations was a sport practised only by elitist totalitarian states . Those unlucky enough to live in a what was then termed a “free country”, had to sit on the sidelines and simply imagine what it was like to be subject to constant state intrusion.

But times change, and after several wars of the twentieth century (including the war to end all wars) mass surveillance was finally liberated. The liberators of surveillance even adopted a snappy slogan to help spread their evangelic message, which today is more commonly used than that one about washing up liquid – “nothing to hide, nothing to fear”. Don’t bother de-constructing this slogan in any way – just marvel at its symmetry and its almost Shakespearean rhythm.

You see the secret to success of the architects of “surveillance for all” was they spotted that surveillance is so much easier to sell to the masses when it’s invisible.… Read the rest

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Glenn Greenwald’s Boyfriend Detained And Interrogated For 9 Hours Under Terrorism Act

Glenn Greenwald and his partner David Miranda

Via the Guardian, Greenwald writes that the UK authorities targeted his partner as punishment for Greenwald’s journalism:

At 6:30 am this morning my time, I received a telephone call from someone who identified himself as a “security official at Heathrow airport.” He told me that my partner, David Miranda, had been “detained” at the London airport “under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act of 2000.”

David had spent the last week in Berlin. A Brazilian citizen, he was returning to our home in Rio de Janeiro this morning on British Airways, flying first to London and then on to Rio.

According to a document published by the UK government about Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act, “fewer than 3 people in every 10,000 are examined as they pass through UK borders”. Moreover, “most examinations, over 97%, last under an hour.” An appendix to that document states that only .06% of all people detained are kept for more than 6 hours.

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Edward Snowden’s E-mail Provider Forced to Shut Down

BigBrotherObamThe secure E-mail provider Lavabit, whose users are said to include Edward Snowden, shut down on Wednesday for reasons that are verboten. An ominous message on the company’s homepage vows to fight for the Constitution:

My Fellow Users,

I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on–the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.… Read the rest

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NSA pays £100m in secret funding for GCHQ

gchq-logoNSA has been funding the UK’s largest intelligence agency to the tune of $100 million over the past three years…

Nick Hopkins and Julian Borger report for the Guardian.

Via The Guardian:

The US government has paid at least £100m to the UK spy agency GCHQ over the last three years to secure access to and influence over Britain’s intelligence gathering programmes.

The top secret payments are set out in documents which make clear that the Americans expect a return on the investment, and that GCHQ has to work hard to meet their demands. “GCHQ must pull its weight and be seen to pull its weight,” a GCHQ strategy briefing said.

The funding underlines the closeness of the relationship between GCHQ and its US equivalent, the National Security Agency. But it will raise fears about the hold Washington has over the UK’s biggest and most important intelligence agency, and whether Britain’s dependency on the NSA has become too great.

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