May 21

WASHINGTON – In 2002, as evidence of prisoner mistreatment at Guantánamo Bay began to mount, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents at the base created a “war crimes file” to document accusations against American military personnel, but were eventually ordered to close down the file, a Justice Department report revealed Tuesday.

The report, an exhaustive, 437-page review prepared by the Justice Department inspector general, provides the fullest account to date of internal dissent and confusion within the Bush administration over the use of harsh interrogation tactics by the military and the Central Intelligence Agency.

In one of several previously undisclosed episodes, the report found that American military interrogators appeared to have collaborated with visiting Chinese officials at Guantánamo Bay to disrupt the sleep of Chinese Muslims held there, waking them every 15 minutes the night before their interviews by the Chinese. In another incident, it said, a female interrogator reportedly bent back an inmate’s thumbs and squeezed his genitals as he grimaced in pain.

The report describes what one official called “trench warfare” between the F.B.I. and the military over the rough methods being used on detainees in Guantánamo Bay, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The report says that the F.B.I. agents took their concerns to higher-ups, but that their concerns often fell on deaf ears: officials at senior levels at the F.B.I., the Justice Department, the Defense Department and the National Security Council were all made aware of the F.B.I. agents’ complaints, but little appears to have been done as a result.

The report quotes passionate objections from F.B.I. officials who grew increasingly concerned about the reports of practices like intimidating inmates with snarling dogs, parading them in the nude before female soldiers, or “short-shackling” them to the floor for many hours in extreme heat or cold.

Such tactics, said one F.B.I. agent in an e-mail message to supervisors in November 2002, might violate American law banning torture.

More senior officials, including Spike Bowman, who was then the head of the national security law unit at the F.B.I., tried to sound the alarm as well.

“Beyond any doubt, what they are doing (and I don’t know the extent of it) would be unlawful were these enemy prisoners of war,” Mr. Bowman wrote in an e-mail message to top F.B.I. officials in July 2003. Continue reading »

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Apr 19

Airports in New York and Los Angeles have become the latest equipped with body scanners that allow security screeners to peer beneath a passenger’s clothing to detect concealed weapons.

The machines, which are about the size of a revolving door, use low-energy electromagnetic waves to produce a computerized image of a traveler’s entire body.

Passengers step in and lift their arms. The scans only take a minute, and Transportation Security Administration officials say the procedure is less invasive than a physical frisk for knives, bombs or guns.

Someday, the “millimeter wave” scans might replace metal detectors, but for now they are being used selectively.

Los Angeles International Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York saw their first scanners installed Thursday, each at a single checkpoint. Phoenix Sky-Harbor International Airport got one of the machines in October.

Modest travelers may have concerns about the images.

The black and white, three-dimensional scans aren’t as vivid as a photograph, but they do reveal some of the more intimate curves of the human form, maybe with as much clarity as an impressionist sculpture by Auguste Rodin. Continue reading »

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Apr 17

Policy Adds People Arrested but Not Convicted

The U.S. government will soon begin collecting DNA samples from all citizens arrested in connection with any federal crime and from many immigrants detained by federal authorities, adding genetic identifiers from more than 1 million individuals a year to the swiftly growing federal law enforcement DNA database.

The policy will substantially expand the current practice of routinely collecting DNA samples from only those convicted of federal crimes, and it will build on a growing policy among states to collect DNA from many people who are arrested. Thirteen states do so now and turn their data over to the federal government.

The initiative, to be published as a proposed rule in the Federal Register in coming days, reflects a congressional directive that DNA from arrestees be collected to help catch a range of domestic criminals. But it also requires, for the first time, the collection of DNA samples from people other than U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents who are detained by U.S. authorities.

Although fingerprints have long been collected for virtually every arrestee, privacy advocates say the new policy expands the DNA database, run by the FBI, beyond its initial aim of storing information on the perpetrators of violent crimes.

They also worry that people could be detained erroneously and swept into the database without cause, and that DNA samples from those who are never convicted of a crime, because of acquittal or a withdrawal of charges, might nonetheless be permanently retained by the FBI.

“Innocent people don’t belong in a so-called criminal database,” said Tania Simoncelli, science adviser for the American Civil Liberties Union. “We’re crossing a line.” Continue reading »

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Apr 13

WASHINGTON — President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney both signed off on using harsh interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists after asking the Justice Department to endorse their legality, news agencies have learned.

The Associated Press reported earlier that senior Bush administration officials took care to insulate President Bush from a series of meetings where CIA interrogation methods, including waterboarding, which simulates drowning, were discussed and ultimately approved.

However, ABC News is now reporting that President Bush himself was aware of the discussions and approved the controversial interrogation tactics himself.

“Well, we started to connect the dots, in order to protect the American people.” Bush told ABC News. “And, yes, I’m aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved.” Continue reading »

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Apr 10

OAKLAND _ A six-month pilot program where Oakland police officers would knock on doors and ask permission to search homes for guns got the green light from the City Council’s public safety committee Tuesday night.
It goes to the full council Tuesday, when the council will meet at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.

The consent-to-search program, as it is called, is based closely on a similar effort launched in St. Louis in 1994 and on ongoing programs in Boston and Washington, D.C. The idea is simple: To ask parents for permission to search their homes for weapons their children may be hiding.

Under the program, officers would request permission to search homes for guns. Guns would be taken away, but officers would not pursue prosecution unless the weapon was tied to a crime.

The St. Louis effort fizzled after initial success, but Oakland’s Deputy Police Chief David Kozicki said that in Washington, police officers say they cannot keep up with requests from parents to search their homes. Such is the interest in the program, he said.

Councilwoman Patricia Kernighan (Grand Lake-Chinatown), who is on the public safety committee, said she was surprised to hear that and hoped Oakland might see the same results. Continue reading »

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Apr 09

Recent news on the White House torture and spy memos has amazingly received very little coverage in the corporate controlled media. For instance, Barack Obama’s low bowling score has received more coverage than these memos. The media some how thinks Obama’s horrible bowling skills are more important than evidence that could be used to prosecute members of the Bush administration for all sorts of criminality including war crimes. That makes no sense, but of course when you consider that the corporate controlled media creates reality for people it makes perfect sense. Both of these memos were written by former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo and prove that the Bush administration sought to justify torture and ignore the Fourth Amendment under the guise of the phony war on terror. In the memos, Yoo concludes that Bush can torture and spy without a warrant if he is doing these things to protect the country from terrorists. Of course, the majority of the so called terrorists that the media and the government claims we are fighting are actually trained and funded by western governments so the whole thing is a big fraud. That of course is a whole other story. In these memos, it is clear that Yoo shows a blatant disregard for both U.S. and international law. Yoo and other members of the Bush administration should really be put on trial for war crimes but since the corporate controlled media thinks that Obama’s low bowling score is more important than smoking gun proof of war crimes, that’s probably not going to happen.

First let’s tackle the spying memo. Below is taken from an excerpt of an Associated Press report on the 37-page secret Justice Department memo in which Yoo concludes that the Fourth Amendment does not apply to domestic military operations. Continue reading »

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Apr 04

NEW YORK – The military is using the FBI to skirt legal restrictions on domestic surveillance to obtain private records of Americans’ Internet service providers, financial institutions and telephone companies, the ACLU said Tuesday. Continue reading »

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Mar 26

usa_security_drones.jpg
Miami police could soon be the first in the United States to use cutting-edge, spy-in-the-sky technology to beef up their fight against crime.

A small pilotless drone manufactured by Honeywell International (HON.N), capable of hovering and “staring” using electro-optic or infrared sensors, is expected to make its debut soon in the skies over the Florida Everglades.

If use of the drone wins Federal Aviation Administration approval after tests, the Miami-Dade Police Department will start flying the 14-pound (6.3 kg) drone over urban areas with an eye toward full-fledged employment in crime fighting. Continue reading »

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Mar 19

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The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) in Virginia. the NCTC has elements of the FBI and CIA where terrorism-related information is
shared on a real-time basis.

Christopher Morris / VII for TIME

 

Pity America’s poor civil libertarians. In recent weeks, the papers have been full of stories about the warehousing of information on Americans by the National Security Agency, the interception of financial information by the CIA, the stripping of authority from a civilian intelligence oversight board by the White House, and the compilation of suspicious activity reports from banks by the Treasury Department. On Thursday, Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine released a report documenting continuing misuse of Patriot Act powers by the FBI. And to judge from the reaction in the country, nobody cares. Continue reading »

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Mar 14

Banks tip off government to possible money laundering, fraud

WASHINGTON – Each year, federal agents peek at the financial transactions of millions of Americans – without their knowledge.

The same type of information that raised suspicions about New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer is reviewed every day by authorities to find traces of money laundering, check fraud, identity theft or any crime that may involve a financial institution.

As concerns about fraud and terrorist financing grow, an increasing number of suspicious deposits, withdrawals and money transfers are being reported by banks and others to the federal government. Banks and credit unions as well as currency dealers and stores that cash checks reported a record 17.6 million transactions to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network in 2006, according to a report from the network, a bureau of the U.S. Treasury Department.

“I don’t think Americans understand that their financial transactions are being reported and routinely examined,” said Barry Steinhardt of the American Civil Liberties Union. Continue reading »

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