A federal agency sends thousands of letters a year to health providers closing out complaints about HIPAA violations. Though the government could make those letters public, it doesn’t. ProPublica has started to do so.
When the federal government takes the rare step of fining medical providers for violating the privacy and security of patients’ medical information, it issues a press release and posts details on the web.
But thousands of times a year, the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services resolves complaints about possible violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act quietly, outside public view. It sends letters reminding providers of their legal obligations, advising them on how to fix purported problems, and, sometimes, prodding them to make voluntary changes. Continue reading »
This post explains the liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights – the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution – and provides a scorecard on the extent of the loss of each right. (This is an updated version of an essay we wrote in February. Unfortunately, a lot of information has come out since then.)
(June 10, 2013) – Former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul appeared on CNN tonight to tell Piers Morgan why he objects to the NSA surveillance program.
Morgan directly asked Paul if he would have actually ended surveillance programs if he were president.
Paul said he would still want intelligence gathering, but it would be done in a more transparent way, maintaining that the current surveillance program are unquestionably unconstitutional.
He directly told NSA defenders that they are simply “justifying dictatorship.”
Paul dismissed the use of a FISA court as a significant enough of a check on the executive branch. He said this program is undeniably “destroying the Constitution,”, and posed a question to anyone who defends the widespread surveillance.
“So my question should be, to all of you who defend this nonsense is, what should the penalty be for the people who destroy the constitution. They’re always worrying about how they’re going to destroy the American citizens who tell the truth to let us know what’s going on. We ask the question, what is the penalty for the people who deliberately destroy the constitution and rationalize and say, ‘we have to do it for security.’
Well, you know what Franklin said about that, you end up losing your security and you lose your freedoms too. So I think we’ve embarked on a very, very dangerous course. The American people are with us on this, it’s totally out of control, and I would say if you’re confused about what we should do, just read the constitution. What’s wrong with that? If you don’t like it, get people to repeal it and change the constitution, but not just to deny it.
We go to war without a declaration. We totally ignore the constitution. That is what our problem is today — we have no rule of law, and people say, ‘well, just let secret Courts do this,; and the governments to know everything, and the American people have no privacy. I mean you’re — that reflects intimidation, people are insecure, and think that we’ll need more authoritarianism. You’re justifying dictatorship, is what you’re doing.“
Even if you have read Martin Luther King’s celebrated “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” I insist you read it again. For those that have never read it, the inspired prose may very well change your life. The letter’s message is eternal and extraordinarily relevant in the current global struggle of the 99.9% against the criminality, corruption and oppression of a very small, but very powerful 0.01%. One of the key tactics this tiny minority uses is to claim that their immoral deeds are “legal.” He spends much of his time in the letter outlining the distinction between “just laws” and an “unjust laws,” and one of the key points he makes that we should all keep close to our hearts and minds in these trying times is:
We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.” It was “illegal” to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers.
If there was ever a clear sign that the leadership of Japan is fully aware that the country is about enter a terminal economic catastrophe this is it. Using the cover of currency devaluation and a rising stock market, Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, is attempting to make it easier to change the country’s constitution so that they can eliminate freedom of speech and set the stage for a military dictatorship.
Reuters reports that:
The draft deletes a guarantee of basic human rights and prescribes duties, such as submission to an undefined “public interest and public order.” The military would be empowered to maintain that “public order.”
The Department of Homeland Security’s civil rights watchdog has concluded that travelers along the nation’s borders may have their electronics seized and the contents of those devices examined for any reason whatsoever — all in the name of national security.
The DHS, which secures the nation’s border, in 2009 announced that it would conduct a “Civil Liberties Impact Assessment” of its suspicionless search-and-seizure policy pertaining to electronic devices “within 120 days.” More than three years later, the DHS office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties published a two-page executive summary of its findings.
“We also conclude that imposing a requirement that officers have reasonable suspicion in order to conduct a border search of an electronic device would be operationally harmful without concomitant civil rights/civil liberties benefits,” the executive summary said.
The memo highlights the friction between today’s reality that electronic devices have become virtual extensions of ourselves housing everything from e-mail to instant-message chats to photos and our papers and effects — juxtaposed against the government’s stated quest for national security.
The President George W. Bush administration first announced the suspicionless, electronics search rules in 2008. The President Barack Obama administration followed up with virtually the same rules a year later. Between 2008 and 2010, 6,500 persons had their electronic devices searched along the U.S. border, according to DHS data.
According to legal precedent, the Fourth Amendment — the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures — does not apply along the border. By the way, the government contends the Fourth-Amendment-Free Zone stretches 100 miles inland from the nation’s actual border.
This simple piece of legislation proves that you can make a difference at the local level. We need a lot more of this type of thing all over these United States. As I have said many times, it’s not that I am against drones in all capacities; however, we must be vigilant about how these things are used and must have serious safeguards in place to protect civil liberties. Kudos to the Rutherford Institute for leading the charge here.
From US News:
Charlottesville, Va., has become the first city in the United States to formally pass an anti-drone resolution.
Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano joined Studio B to discuss Gen. David Petraeus’ resignation as CIA Director and pointedly asked, “What were FBI agents doing monitoring the secret emails of the director of the CIA? And, how is it the CIA didn’t know about it?”
According to Napolitano, in order for the FBI to be reading Petraeus’ emails, they would either need a search warrant from a federal judge or they’d have to write their own search warrant under the Patriot Act providing sufficient reason to believe the general was involved in terrorist activities. The only other way that they could have been monitoring his emails is by hacking into his computer, which would be a crime.
Napolitano argued, “General Petraeus just because he’s an adulterer doesn’t lose his constitutional rights. And he has the right to be protected from an unwarranted, unjustified investigation by the FBI or anyone.”
Birthmarks, be damned: the FBI has officially started rolling out a state-of-the-art face recognition project that will assist in their effort to accumulate and archive information about each and every American at a cost of a billion dollars.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has reached a milestone in the development of their Next Generation Identification (NGI) program and is now implementing the intelligence database in unidentified locales across the country, New Scientist reports in an article this week. The FBI first outlined the project back in 2005, explaining to the Justice Department in an August 2006 document (.pdf) that their new system will eventually serve as an upgrade to the current Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) that keeps track of citizens with criminal records across America .
“The NGI Program is a compilation of initiatives that will either improve or expand existing biometric identification services,” its administrator explained to the Department of Justice at the time, adding that the project, “will accommodate increased information processing and sharing demands in support of anti-terrorism.”
“The NGI Program Office mission is to reduce terrorist and criminal activities by improving and expanding biometric identification and criminal history information services through research, evaluation and implementation of advanced technology within the IAFIS environment.”
The agency insists, “As a result of the NGI initiatives, the FBI will be able to provide services to enhance interoperability between stakeholders at all levels of government, including local, state, federal, and international partners.” In doing as such, though, the government is now going ahead with linking a database of images and personally identifiable information of anyone in their records with departments around the world thanks to technology that makes fingerprint tracking seem like kids’ stuff.
Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura, “The Police State” Conspiracy”
Season 2, Episode 4
It’s been said the government has a plan to declare martial law and round up millions of United State citizens into concentration camps. Jesse may have found a conspiracy in plain sight as he investigates the proliferation of law enforcement Fusion Centers around the country. And they may be connected to hundreds of detention centers ready to accept prisoners at the stroke of a Presidential pen. TV-PG-L
Attacking the TSA for its privacy-invasive screening procedures has become a favorite activity for many journalists, especially Matt Drudge. TSA horror stories are often featured prominently on The Drudge Report and he has taken to calling Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (of which the TSA is a part) “Big Sis.”
Napolitano, who doesn’t think Drudge “means [the nickname] kindly” said at a recent Politico event that Drudge is wrong in describing DHS programs as Orwellian and that “the privacy impact of new airport screening technology and similar programs are thoroughly vetted before they are implemented,” in Josh Gerstein’s words.
“We want to be conscious of civil liberties and civil rights protections—and we are,” Napolitano said, as reported by Politico.
On the same day as this piece came out, TechDirt reports on a passenger who would likely disagree with the Secretary. After a particularly aggressive patdown in March that might be better termed a feel-up, advice blogger Amy Alkon graphically described how she sobbed loudly while a TSA agent put her hands “into” her — four times. She screamed “You raped me” after the LAX patdown and took the agent’s name with plans to file charges of sexual assault. Those plans fell through after consulting an attorney, but she did blog about it and included the agent’s name, thereby inflicting her own assault — on the agent’s Google search results.
The TSA agent then hired a lawyer who contacted Alkon asking her to remove the post, threatening her with a defamation lawsuit, and asking for a settlement of $500,000. “Rape is a very serious charge,” writes lawyer Vicki Roberts on Thedala Magee’s behalf. She also says that Alkon, on a return trip to the airport in May called her client “a bad person” who had “sexually molested” her.
Free speech lawyer Marc Randazza has stepped in to assert Alkon’s right to post about her patdown experience, and to defend both her definition of the patdown as rape and, regardless of that, her right to rhetorical hyperbole. Techdirt has a copy of the letter Randazza drafted in response to the defamation threat.
“After [the agent Thedala] Magee’s assault on Ms. Alkon’s vagina and dignity, Ms. Alkon exercised her First Amendment right to recount this incident to others in person and through her blog,” writes Randazza. “This was not only her right — it was her responsibility.”
BEIJING (Reuters) – China wants to cement in law police powers to hold dissidents and other suspects of state security crimes in secret locations without telling their families, under draft legislation released on Tuesday that has been decried by rights advocates.
The critics said the proposed amendments to China’s Criminal Procedure Code could embolden authorities to go further with the kind of shadowy detentions that swept up human rights lawyers, veteran protesters and the prominent artist-dissident, Ai Weiwei, earlier this year.
“If this was already law, then people like me, Ai Weiwei and many others could have been detained with even fewer problems and obstacles and with a firmer legal basis,” said Jiang Tianyong, a lawyer in Beijing.
Jiang was detained for two months without any contact with his family earlier this year, when the government cracked down on dissent over fears that unrest in the Arab world could spill into China.
“This would be a big step backwards, but I wouldn’t discount the strong possibility of it becoming law,” added Jiang. “More people would face the risk of being disappeared.”
Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the New York Police Department has become one of the nation’s most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies, targeting ethnic communities in ways that would run afoul of civil liberties rules if practiced by the federal government, an Associated Press investigation has found.
These operations have benefited from unprecedented help from the CIA, a partnership that has blurred the line between foreign and domestic spying.
The department has dispatched undercover officers, known as “rakers,” into minority neighborhoods as part of a human mapping program, according to officials directly involved in the program. They’ve monitored daily life in bookstores, bars, cafes and nightclubs. Police have also used informants, known as “mosque crawlers,” to monitor sermons, even when there’s no evidence of wrongdoing.
Neither the city council, which finances the department, nor the federal government, which has given NYPD more than $1.6 billion since 9/11, is told exactly what’s going on.
Many of these operations were built with help from the CIA, which is prohibited from spying on Americans but was instrumental in transforming the NYPD’s intelligence unit.
A veteran CIA officer, while still on the agency’s payroll, was the architect of the NYPD’s intelligence programs. The CIA trained a police detective at the Farm, the agency’s spy school in Virginia, then returned him to New York, where he put his new espionage skills to work inside the United States.
And just last month, the CIA sent a senior officer to work as a clandestine operative inside police headquarters.
Tel Aviv — Israel’s parliament late Monday approved a controversial law banning boycotts against the state and Jewish settlements, a retaliatory move against growing calls for economic and political pressure on Israel to withdraw from the West Bank amid stagnant peace talks with the Palestinians.
The law fines groups or individuals that promote anti-Israel or antisettlement boycotts and exposes them to lawsuits of nearly $10,000 without having to prove any damage.
Though proponents argue that the law is necessary to protect Israeli citizens against campaigns to delegitimize Israel and make it into a pariah state, the bill’s passage has raised a storm of criticism alleging that the measure erodes the country’s democracy and will ultimately weaken its international standing.
“This is a blatant and a resounding shutting of people’s mouths. This is a thought police,”wrote Ben Caspit, a columnist for the daily newspaper Maariv.“The news of this law passing will spread throughout the world like a fire in a field of thorns … . Our image, already at a low, will continue to scrape the bottom of the barrel. The delegitimization will increase.”
(NaturalNews) The medical police state is alive and well in Detroit today, where Child Protective Services (CPS) called in the police to aid in their kidnapping of a 13-year-old daughter from an African American mother who refused to medicate her with dangerous psychiatric drugs. As this case is clearly showing, refusing to medicate your children with Big Pharma’s mind-altering drugs is now being treated as a felony crime.
• Child Protective Services (CPS) personnel attempted to kidnap Maryanne’s 13-year-old daughter. They accused her of not giving her child psychiatric medication prescribed by her doctor.
• Maryanne says the medication caused side effects in her daughter and made her condition worse, which is why she refused to give her daughter the medication.
• The medication was Risperdal, a neuroleptic antipsychotic medication known for causing serious side effects such as abdominal pain, vomiting, aggression, anxiety, dizziness and lack of coordination (http://www.risperdalsideeffects.com).
Egyptian anti-government bloggers work on their laptops from Cairo’s Tahrir Square
CAIRO (AFP) — A military court has jailed a blogger for three years for criticising the armed forces that have ruled Egypt since president Hosni Mubarak’s ouster in February, in a decision slammed by rights groups on Monday.
“Regrettably, the Nasr City military court sentenced Maikel Nabil to three years in prison,” the blogger’s lawyer Gamal Eid told AFP.
“The lawyers were not present, the verdict was handed out almost in secret.”
The decision had initially been set for Wednesday and was postponed to Sunday. The lawyers went on Sunday but were told to leave because there would be no verdict, Eid said.
“We were then very surprised to hear that he (Nabil) was sentenced to three years,” said Eid, who heads the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI).
On Friday, a Minnesota jury found that a blogger must pay $60,000 in damages because of statements he published in his blog about a public figure who was subsequently fired from his job. Internet publishers and free speech advocates should pay close attention to this case if it is appealed because the blogger was found liable even though the jury did not find that the blogger’s statements were false.
This decision is the latest example of the law’s apparent struggle to apply basic constitutional protections to internet publishers. If the Minnesota ruling holds up, it will mean that bloggers will have to worry they will be forced to pay for true statements that they publish that cause a person damages.
BEIJING — A human rights group says an Internet activist has been charged with subversion for spreading calls on the Internet for Middle Eastern-style anti-government protests in China.
The Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy says Guo Weidong was detained on Thursday night and his home in China’s eastern city of Haining searched. It says a document was delivered to his wife the next day stating that he was being charged with the vaguely defined charge of “incitement to subvert state power.”
Click here to find out more!
The lawmaker behind a bill Texas that would levy felony charges against overly-touchy security personnel may be staunchly Republican, but he truly believes his cause isn’t one tied to the political left or right.
“We’re talking about what would be a criminal act in any other place,” Rep. David Simpson (R) told Raw Story on Monday. “If you viewed someone naked without their permission or consent, or as a condition of travel, it would be sexual harassment or vouyerism. If you touched people’s privates, that would be sexual assault.
“This is not a left or right issue,” he added. “They are treating American citizens with great indignity, and we’ve got to make this right.”
Though unlikely to pass — even with a GOP supermajority in the Texas legislature — Simpson’s proposal has become a cause célèbre for civil libertarians, many of whom adamantly oppose the TSA’s screening procedures.
The bill would amend a Texas statute pertaining to “the offensive touching of persons,” extending it to security personnel who conduct a search “without probable cause.”
That’s actually the exact wording used in the Constitution in the section outlining prohibitions on unreasonable search and seizure. The legal standard for a lawful search is probable cause: a requirement that law enforcement must meet before most judges will issue search warrants.
Breaking: Newly Obtained Homeland Security Documents Reveal Radical Shift In Internet Policy
FIGHT BACK: Internet user arrested for linking to other websites.
Brian McCarthy ran a website, channelsurfing.net, that linked to various sites where you could watch online streams of TV shows and sports networks. A couple months ago, the government seized his domain name and on Friday they arrested him and charged him with criminal copyright infringement — punishable by five years in prison.
We just obtained a copy of the complaint (below) that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) made against him — and they don’t even allege that he made a copy of anything!Just that he ran what they call a “linking website” which linked to various sites with copyrighted material. Under that sort of thinking, everyone who’s sent around a link to a copyrighted YouTube video is a criminal.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan’s first term. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
This essay is about three recent books that explain how we lost our economy, the Constitution and our civil liberties, and how peace lost out to war.
Matt Taibbi is the best–certainly the most entertaining–financial/political reporter in the country. There is no better book than Griftopia (2010) to which to turn to understand how stupidity, greed, and criminality, spread evenly among policymakers and Wall Street, created the financial crisis that has left Americans overburdened with both private and public debt. Taibbi walks the reader through the fraudulent financial instruments that littered the American, British, and European financial communities with toxic waste. He has figured it all out, and what in other hands might be an arcane account for MBAs is in Taibbi’s hands a highly readable and entertaining story.
For the first 65 pages Taibbi entertains the reader with the inability of the public and politicians to focus on any reality. The financial story begins on page 65 with Fed chairman Alan Greenspan undermining the Glass-Steagall Act leading to its repeal by three political stooges, Gramm-Leach-Bliley. This set the stage for the banksters to leverage debt upon debt until the house of cards collapsed. When Brooksley Born, head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, attempted to do her regulatory job and regulate derivatives, the Federal Reserve, Treasury, and Securities and Exchange Commission got her bounced out of office. To make certain that no other regulator could protect the financial system and its participants from what was coming, Congress deregulated the derivatives markets by passing the Commodity Futures Modernization Act.
(NaturalNews) As if it’s not enough for the TSA to feel you up at the airport, now they’re experimenting with rapid results DNA scanners that can scan and analyze your DNA using just a drop of saliva. Spit at the TSA agent who is molesting you, in other words, and they can use that saliva to scan your DNA and then store it in a government database.
Why would they want to do that? We can only imagine. Remember, it was Alex Jones who broke the story about hospitals secretly taking blood samples of babies and handing them over to the federal government for use in a national genetic database (http://www.prisonplanet.com/newborn…).
The government routinely steals genetic material from people for its own nefarious purposes, as does the pharmaceutical industry. For example, the medical industry’s so-called “Hela cells” which have been exploited for decades by vaccine and drug companies, were harvested and stolen decades ago from Henrietta Lacks without her permission or consent (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HeLa). Hela cells are the foundation of hundreds of billions of dollars in profit for Big Pharma, and they are all based on DNA theft perpetrated by the pharmaceutical industry.
Harvesting your DNA at the airport
Now that the TSA is experimenting with portable DNA scanners, their real agenda becomes apparent: They will use airport security checkpoints to harvest DNA from the public in order to build up their government “bio bank” database of stolen DNA.