Aletho News


Charlotte police refuse to release video of shooting unarmed man


Jonathan Ferrell was shot to death by North Carolina police in September
Press TV – October 23, 2013

The lawyer for the family of an unarmed African-American man who was fatally shot by a white North Carolina police officer says the police’s refusal to release the video of the shooting has raised questions.

“We want the facts out in the public domain. Not part of them, all of them,” said Chris Chestnut, the lawyer representing Jonathan Ferrell’s family.

24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell was killed in September after Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Randal Kerrick fired ten shots at him.

Police officers were responding to a 911 call and they arrived at a woman’s home where Ferrell had apparently gone to seek help.

Ferrell had wrecked his car about half a mile away from the house and had likely knocked on the woman’s door looking for help.

An audiotape of the 911 call released by the police shows the woman had thought Ferrell was trying to break in.

After the police arrived on the scene, unarmed Ferrell ran toward them and the officers, who say they could not stop him with a Taser, shot him ten times.

Chestnut, who has seen the video of the shooting recorded by the police car’s dashboard camera, says the footage could suggest that Ferrell did not act aggressively toward the police.

“You can’t just release the facts that are favorable perhaps to the officer but not to Mr. Ferrell,” Chestnut said. “We’re beginning to get concerned about the integrity and the efficiency and, quite frankly, the speed of this investigation.”

October 23, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | Comments Off on Charlotte police refuse to release video of shooting unarmed man

Court Holds Wisconsin Officials In Contempt For Enforcing Scott Walker’s Anti-Union Law

By Ian Millhiser | Think Progress | October 22, 2013

A Wisconsin judge who declared Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) union-busting law unconstitutional more than a year ago held the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission in contempt of court on Monday for continuing to enforce that law against school and municipal workers.

Walker’s law includes a one-two punch that dramatically weakens the ability of unions to improve workers’ wages while simultaneously encouraging those workers to drop the union. First, the law only permits public workers to collectively bargain for raises limited to the rate of inflation, thus curtailing one of the primary benefits of unionization — increased wages. It then requires unionized public workers to vote every year on whether they want to still be represented by a union.

Judge Juan Colas’ 2012 order blocks these restrictions from going into effect against city, county and school district workers, although state workers remain largely subject to Walker’s law. His order on Monday clarifies that the order applies statewide, and not just to the narrow group of plaintiffs before his court.

Yet, while Colas’ most recent decision is a victory for public workers in Wisconsin, this victory is likely to be temporary. His original 2012 ruling is pending before the very conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court. And the conservatives on that court already reinstated Walker’s law once after it was blocked (on a different legal grounds) by a lower court.

October 23, 2013 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , , | Comments Off on Court Holds Wisconsin Officials In Contempt For Enforcing Scott Walker’s Anti-Union Law

Gov: Palestinians entitled to defend themselves

ALRAY | October 23, 2013

Gaza – The Palestinian Government stressed that the Palestinian people and resistance have the right to defend themselves by all possible means against Israel’s undeterred war crimes and aggressions.

Spokesman for the Palestinian Government, Ihab AL-Ghusain, stated on his facebook page “No one can deny the Palestinians thinking of new ways to confront the high-tech military apparatus of the Israeli occupation.”

The Gaza Strip citizens had been subjected to two wars and thus entitled to defend themselves, Ghusain said, adding that “digging tunnels is a defensive tactic innovated by the Palestinian resistance.”

AL-Ghusain found odd the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman’s statement that digging the [recently discovered] tunnel is a violation of the cease-fire agreement [mediated by Egypt between Hamas and the Israeli occupation after Israel’s 8-day war in November 2012], overlooking the Israeli violations of it.

“The Israeli occupation has not stopped violating the cease-fire agreement ever since its had been concluded; many violations are to mention, above them all sustaining Israel’s siege on the 1.7 million Gaza population by failing to open the commercial crossings, and to expand the fishing zone,” he said.

“What is more “terrorist” than an Israeli navy boat firing on a fisherman, an armored vehicle shooting a farmer, invading, or leveling his land?” Ghusain wondered, pointing to the deaths and injuries of a number of Palestinian civilians throughout the past year.

AL-Ghusain called on the UN to take its real role in putting pressure on the Israeli occupation to lift the siege, bringing Israeli leaders to justice, and protecting the Palestinian people from the continuous Israeli crimes and aggressions.

October 23, 2013 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Comments Off on Gov: Palestinians entitled to defend themselves

Guantanamo lawyers denounce gag order on torture allegations

Al-Akhbar | October 23, 2013

Lawyers for Guantanamo Bay detainees accused of the 9/11 attacks said Tuesday their defendants’ rights were violated because they are prevented from open discussion of alleged mistreatment in secret prisons.

Speaking at a hearing in Guantanamo as the five detainees listened, lawyers for the men asked for the death penalty to be eliminated as a possible sentence, in light of alleged torture the inmates had undergone while being held by the United States, before their 2006 transfer to Guantanamo.

Detainees could not file complaints under the UN Convention against Torture, their lawyers said, because their treatment in US detention was a classified matter.

“You have the power to dismiss the death penalty or dismiss these charges because of the obstacles we face in this case,” said Walter Ruiz, a lawyer for detainee Mustafa al-Hawsawi.

The UN Convention against Torture “gives certain rights” to the accused, Ruiz explained.

But “those rights do not exist, certainly not in front of this commission,” he argued.

The self-proclaimed mastermind of the attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, “was subjected to waterboarding for 183 sessions,” began lawyer Jason Wright, who represents the Pakistani defendants.

But Wright was immediately interrupted by Judge James Pohl, who said certain aspects of the prisoners’ treatment will be dealt with only in closed-door sessions, because they involve classified information.

The order prompted an angry retort from lawyer Cheryl Bormann, who said the defense team was consistently coming up against “a brick wall because of the classification issue.”

“You can’t gag somebody about talking about torture and then want to kill them,” she argued.

The accused face the death penalty if convicted of plotting the attacks on New York and Washington 12 years ago, which left nearly 3,000 people dead.

One after another, the lawyers said a court ruling protecting the secrecy of their detention in secret CIA prisons “violated the Convention against Torture.”

But prosecutor Clay Trivett argued that the case was about “the summary execution of 2,976 people,” not torture.

If the defendants felt they were “mistreated in US custody” they could file a complaint in federal court, he said.

“Mr. Mohammed has a right to complain to the US, to Pakistan and any complicit state,” his lawyer argued.

And al-Hawsawi’s lawyer said “Saudi Arabia wants to talk to him. He’s their citizen and the US government won’t allow that to happen.”

The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1984 and came into force three years later. The United States ratified the convention in 1994.

Arguing that the document “should anyway apply in front of the military commission,” the lawyers asked the judge to allow testimony from international experts, including former UN special rapporteur on torture Manfred Nowak, at the tribunal.

“Some aspects require some knowledge of international law,” said James Connell, lawyer for Mohammed’s nephew, Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, also known as Ammar al-Baluchi, in arguing for the experts to be brought in.

But the US government said it would oppose bringing experts to the hearings, saying that “everyone should be able to argue whether the convention against torture is relevant in front of this commission.”

And the judge emphasized he didn’t have the power to “order somebody to leave the US to come to Cuba” to testify before the special military tribunal, at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay.

The lawyers had earlier protested against new violations in their “privileged” communications with their clients, alleging continuing searches of the inmates’ legal mail in their cells, despite a judge’s order forbidding it.

Preliminary hearings began in May 2012, but a date for the trial has yet to be set.

In May, the UN high commissioner for human rights said that the force-feeding of hunger striking inmates in Guantanamo was torture and a breach of international law.

As a candidate in 2008, US President Barack Obama pledged to close the jail and announced plans to close Guantanamo immediately after entering office in 2009. But the high-security facility remains open a year after Obama’s re-election.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

October 23, 2013 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Comments Off on Guantanamo lawyers denounce gag order on torture allegations

Review of September 11—The New Pearl Harbor

By David Ray Griffin

There have been several good films and videos about 9/11. But the new film by award-winning film-maker Massimo Mazzucco is in a class by itself.

For those of us who have been working on 9/11 for a long time, this is the film we have been waiting for.

Whereas there are excellent films treating the falsity of particular parts of the official account, such as the Twin Towers or WTC 7, Mazzucco has given us a comprehensive documentary treatment of 9/11, dealing with virtually all of the issues.

There have, of course, been films that treated the fictional official story as true. And there are films that use fictional stories to portray people’s struggles after starting to suspect the official story to be false.

But there is no fiction in Mazzucco’s film – except in the sense that it clearly and relentlessly exposes every part of the official account as fictional.

Because of his intent at completeness, Mazzucco has given us a 5-hour film. It is so fascinating and fast-paced that many will want to watch it in one sitting. But this is not necessary, as the film, which fills 3 DVDs, consists of 7 parts, each of which is divided into many short chapters.

These 7 parts treat Air Defence, The Hijackers, The Airplanes, The Pentagon, Flight 93, The Twin Towers, and Building 7. In each part, after presenting facts that contradict the official story, Mazzucco deals with the claims of the debunkers (meaning those who try to debunk the evidence provided by the 9/11 research community).

The Introduction, reflecting the film’s title, deals with 12 uncanny parallels between Pearl Harbor and September 11.

The film can educate people who know nothing about 9/11 (beyond the official story), those with a moderate amount of knowledge about the various problems with the official story, and even by experts. (I myself learned many things.)

Mazzucco points out that his film covers 12 years of public debate about 9/11. People who have been promoting 9/11 truth for many of these years will see that their labors have been well-rewarded: There is now a high-quality, carefully-documented film that dramatically shows the official story about 9/11 to be a fabrication through and through.

This is truly the film we have been waiting for.

Click here for full movie and bonus video including Noam Chomsky

October 23, 2013 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , , | Comments Off on Review of September 11—The New Pearl Harbor

Federal Appeals Court Rules Warrant Required for GPS Tracking

By Nathan Freed Wessler | ACLU | October 23, 2013

Today the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that law enforcement agents must obtain a warrant based on probable cause to attach a GPS device to a car and track its movements. The case, United States v. Katzin, is the first in which a federal appeals court has explicitly held that a warrant is required for GPS tracking by police. The ACLU submitted an amicus brief in the case (joined by the ACLU of Pennsylvania, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers) and presented oral argument to the court in March.

In this case, police suspected three brothers, Harry, Mark, and Michael Katzin, of robbing several pharmacies. Without getting a warrant from a judge, FBI agents attached a GPS tracking device to Harry Katzin’s car in order to follow its movements. The government used the GPS device to track the Katzins as they drove to and from another pharmacy, and arrested them as they drove away. Before trial, the Katzins argued that police had violated their Fourth Amendment rights by using the GPS tracker without a warrant, and the district court agreed. Today’s ruling affirms that decision.

Last year, in United States v. Jones, the Supreme Court unanimously held that attaching a GPS tracker to a car to follow its movements is a search under the Fourth Amendment. The Court did not decide whether police need a warrant to conduct such a search, however, and the government argued in this case that an exception to the usual requirement of a warrant should apply. The Third Circuit rejected the government’s arguments, explaining that GPS tracking is a “vastly broader endeavor” than the kinds of limited searches that courts have allowed without warrants. In particular, the court held that the “automobile exception” to the warrant requirement does not apply to GPS tracking. The exception is designed to permit warrantless searches of cars to reveal contraband before the cars can drive away. But, as the court explained, that narrow exception does not “permit [police] to leave behind an ever-watchful electronic sentinel in order to collect future evidence” without judicial oversight.

The court also rejected a second argument made by the government: that the so-called “good faith” exception should permit use of evidence derived from the GPS tracking, even if it violated the Fourth Amendment. Because the GPS tracker was attached to the Katzins’ car before the Supreme Court decided Jones, and before the Third Circuit had addressed the issue, the government argued that FBI agents couldn’t have known that using a GPS device might raise questions under the Fourth Amendment, and therefore they acted in good faith by choosing not to seek a warrant. The court explained that this does not excuse police from the requirement of getting a warrant:

Where an officer decides to take the Fourth Amendment inquiry into his own hands, rather than to seek a warrant from a neutral magistrate — particularly where the law is as far from settled as it was in this case — he acts in a constitutionally reckless fashion. Here, law enforcement personnel made a deliberate decision to forego securing a warrant before attaching a GPS device directly to a target vehicle in the absence of binding Fourth Amendment precedent authorizing such a practice. . . . Excluding the evidence here will incentivize the police to err on the side of constitutional behavior and help prevent future Fourth Amendment violations.

Today’s opinion offers a full-throated defense of the Fourth Amendment, and installs an important safeguard against unjustified government surveillance. As courts around the country consider challenges to warrantless location tracking by police (whether using GPS devices or cell phone signals), they would do well to follow the Third Circuit’s lead.

October 23, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Federal Appeals Court Rules Warrant Required for GPS Tracking

NSA’s Italy op exposed: ‘Millions’ of private communications intercepted with govt awareness

RT | October 23, 2013

Everyday communications of Italians are also on the watch list of the US National Security Agency, a new report has revealed. While an Italian parliamentary committee seeks clarification of NSA activities, local security sources defend the snooping.

Italy’s spy watchdog COPASIR has recently learned details of large-scale monitoring of Italians by the US intelligence agency NSA, according to a report published by Corriere della Sera.

COPASIR stands for Parliamentary Committee for the Intelligence and Security Services and for State Secret Control, and is tasked with overseeing the activities of Italy’s own spy agencies. The body has free access to intelligence agencies’ offices and documents and has the authority to overcome judicial and banking secrecy.

In order to confirm the snooping on Italians, the committee members had to go to the United States and meet with US intelligence agency directors, as well as with congressional committee chairs.

A delegation of parliamentarians from the COPASIR confirmed their concerns regarding the extent of the NSA’s PRISM surveillance program during an official visit to the US three weeks ago, the media said. As part of the program, phone calls and computer communications of “millions of Italians” are reportedly being gathered.

Moreover, Corriere della Sera added that the implications extended to “a monitoring network that started years ago and is still active,” of which the Italian government and spy agencies might have been well aware of.

Such discoveries have prompted uneasy questions to officials, with leading members of COPASIR now seeking clarification from the government, and reportedly awaiting the junior minister for the intelligence services, Marco Minniti, to visit the committee’s offices on Wednesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Italian intelligence sources quoted in the report rushed to justify the surveillance activities of their partners.

The acquisition of the sensitive private information “has as its sole aim the fight against terrorism,” one source was quoted as saying, while another denied that the NSA’s spying ever breached Italy’s sovereignty.

“We have never had any evidence that this kind of monitoring might have involved political spying on Italian public figures. All our investigations into any such eventuality have proved negative,” the source maintained.

However, such explanations did not satisfy COPASIR, nor did the NSA deputy director’s promise of “a complete overview of communications to and from the United States.”

According to the Italian media, the committee member Claudio Fava from Left Ecology Freedom (SEL) party, was “openly perplexed” as he commented on such statements.

“It’s a data trawling system based on various sensors. US intelligence experts explained that their main concern was to comply with American data protection laws and intervene to safeguard national security. Whether this conflicts with other countries’ laws is of no concern to them but it should be to us,” Fava was quoted as saying.

Another COPASIR member, Felice Casson of the Democratic Party (PD), said that the replies the committee received from top Italian intelligence officials were “far from reassuring.”

“It is clear that the United States has acquired information on individuals and institutions across Europe. What concrete elements exist to rule out that this has happened to politicians and institutions in Italy?” Casson questioned.

Leading Democratic Party (PD) politician Ettore Rosato also demanded an explanation from the government, saying that “a few months ago, when the first [NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s] revelations emerged, both the prime minister, Enrico Letta, and the foreign minister, Emma Bonino, professed astonishment at what came out.”

So far, the documents obtained by various world media from the former NSA contractor Snowden have revealed that the Italian embassy in Washington was subject to spying along with the diplomatic missions of other countries. Italian intelligence sources have been careful to deny the claims only “off the record,” Corriere della Sera says.

Right before the NSA scandal emerged, the collaboration between Italian and American intelligence services was “at its peak,” and, according to the media, included sharing of communications through the SIGINT interception system. However, such cooperation appeared to have been justified by the ongoing allied wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the search for western hostages there, the media adds.

But in the wake of recent revelations on the US spying activities in France, which triggered a media frenzy and public outrage, the media speculates Italy may find it difficult to maintain the same “stance” towards the NSA programs.

October 23, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on NSA’s Italy op exposed: ‘Millions’ of private communications intercepted with govt awareness

NSA Spy Revelations Show Need to Recast US-Mexico Security Programs

By Laura Carlsen  |  CIP Americas Program | October 21, 2013

The latest analysis of Snowden leaks from the German magazine Der Spiegel is a bombshell for Mexico.

“The NSA has been systematically eavesdropping on the Mexican government for years,” reads the opening line in the Oct. 20 issue.

The article goes on to detail three major programs that together constitute a massive espionage operation against Mexico. No one seems to have been immune from its intrusions, including two presidents.

The presidential computer network was infiltrated since 2010 when Felipe Calderon was still president. The ever-zealous National Security Agency (NSA) was apparently very proud of itself for hacking the private communications of the leader and cabinet members of an allied nation.

In a “top secret” report, its “Tailored Access Operations” division (TAO) crows:

“TAO successfully exploited a key mail server in the Mexican Presidencia domain within the Mexican Presidential network to gain first-ever access to President Felipe Calderon’s public email account”, calling it a “lucrative source” to gauge Mexican “political system and internal stability”. The leaked operation was code named “Flatliquid”.

Mexicans first found out that their nation, along with Brazil and other Latin American countries, was a major target back in September, when Brazil’s O Globo published an article by Glenn Greenwald, Roberto Kaz and Jose Casado on tapping Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s phone and other communications. The article noted that the NSA had Mexico in its sights too.

A specially designed NSA program spied on then-presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto to find out who he was planning to appoint to his cabinet and how he’d handle the volatile drug war—the cornerstone of US policy in Mexico.

That caused a stir and the Peña Nieto administration sent a diplomatic note and demanded a U.S. investigation.

Sunday’s revelations add details to the previous information and show a far vaster and more insidious operation than was first imagined. Text messages from Peña Nieto’s cell phone—85,489 to be exact, according to the Der Speigel-Snowden report were harvested and organized into data bases, identifying nine close associates for surveillance and analysis.

A third program called “White Tamale” dates back to 2009, when the NSA managed to hack into the emails of high-level officials in the now-defunct Public Security Ministry.

“In the space of a single year, according to the internal documents, this operation produced 260 classified reports that allowed US politicians to conduct successful talks on political issues and to plan international investments.”

The documents note that the spy operation allowed the NSA to gain access to  “diplomatic talking points”.

What does this mean? Wouldn’t using ill-begotten private communications in negotiations be something akin to blackmail?

In any case, it seems to have fulfilled its purpose because during the subsequent period U.S. intelligence, military, police and drug enforcement agencies achieved an unprecedented margin to operate in-country, effectively breaking down any remaining resistance to their activities on Mexican soil.

The Der Speigel article states that in spy operations in Mexico, “the drug trade” was given top priority level, while the country’s “political leadership”, “economic stability” and “international investment relations” received number-three priority rankings on a scale of five.

This latter category gives credence to charges from Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff that the NSA used its apparatus for industrial spying, seeking advantages. Her charges are borne out by documents that show that Brazilian oil company, PETROBRAS, was a target of U.S. espionage. The Mexico revelations were more general but also indicate economic espionage.

The NSA, as reflected in its own documents, seems to have no sense of boundaries—it qualifies its invasions as unqualified “successes”. Der Spiegel quotes another document that reads,

“These TAO accesses into several Mexican government agencies are just the beginning — we intend to go much further against this important target.”

It goes on to state that the divisions responsible for this surveillance are “poised for future successes.”

Mexico’s Muted Response

The response from NSA to questions was predictable,

“We are not going to comment publicly on every specific alleged intelligence activity, and as a matter of policy we have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations.”

So far, no enterprising journalists have asked the Mexican government if it has 85 thousand text messages off of Obama’s phone.

Since September the Mexican government has known it was massively spied on by the United States. After the revelations regarding Peña Nieto’s communications and contacts with US diplomats, Mexico says President Obama agreed to carry out an investigation.

But what exactly does the Mexican government expect of this investigation? No one has questioned the authenticity of the documents. Everyone knows Snowden has them, otherwise why would the U.S. be trying to force his extradition and threatening countries offering asylum. And it seems that asking the U.S. government to investigate NSA be an exercise in futility, especially since the Der Speigel article states explicitly that the programs had presidential authorization.

Not surprisingly, Mexico’s response was widely considered weak.

So far, the response to this latest round of revelations hasn’t shown much more backbone. The foreign relations ministry called the practice “unacceptable, illegitimate and against the law”—and said it would be sending another diplomatic note.

“In a relationship between neighbors and partners, there is no room for the practices alleged to have taken place,” the ministry said.

When Der Speigel asked for a comment from Felipe Calderon, Harvard University, apparently the spokesperson for the beleaguered ex-president since it took him under its ivied wings as a Global Leaders Fellow at the Kennedy School, said it would give him the message.

A senior U.S. State Department official told CNN that the Mexican government reached out about the report, and that the two governments will be discussing it via diplomatic channels.

Peña Nieto has to react now. Brazil is taking specific steps to protect privacy from the long ear of the NSA. Rousseff has been outspoken in its indignation, taking it to the floor of the United Nations General Assembly and cancelling a state visit to Washington.

Mexico’s economic dependence on the United States under NAFTA puts the Peña administration in a tougher bind. Big business will put pressure on Peña to let it slide. The PRI is likely to be seriously annoyed, but it also knows an important part of its power base rests on its relationship with the U.S. government and economic elite, almost a tautology, as shown again in the fact that taxpayer-supported NSA spying was directed at industrial spying to give U.S. companies an edge in bidding, investing and competing.

Whatever the response, the revelations are a blow to a somewhat shaky relationship. Peña Nieto has made it clear it will not allow the same carte-blanche treatment U.S. agencies were given under former president Calderon, but he has also continued security integration and U.S. expansion under the guise of the war on drugs.

Calling into question the terms of the bi-national security relationship should not necessarily be viewed negatively. Demands for a more transparent and less military-oriented relationship between the U.S. and Mexico have been growing. The NSA documents reveal a global security doctrine that has spun dangerously out of control, with what Greenwald calls “the construction of a worldwide, ubiquitous electronic surveillance apparatus” that apparently has no qualms regarding the right to privacy or national sovereignty. Neither the Mexican nor the U.S. Congress has sufficient knowledge of what’s going on to provide reasonable oversight, and the Mexican government apparently has little knowledge of the realm of shadowy U.S. intelligence activity in its own country.

When you add in the private contractors hired under the $2 billion-dollar Merida aid package, it makes for a vast and murky world of post-Cold War conniving.

That can’t be good for diplomacy, or democracy.

Laura Carlsen is director of the Mexico City-based CIP Americas Program.

October 23, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , | Comments Off on NSA Spy Revelations Show Need to Recast US-Mexico Security Programs

When Will the Government Officially Correct the False Claims It Made to the Supreme Court About NSA Surveillance?

By Trevor Timm | EFF | October 22, 2013

We’ve documented again and again how the government has refused to tell the truth about NSA surveillance to news organizations, Congress, and the American public. Now it seems clear we can add the Supreme Court to that list.

First, it’s important to remember that just months before Edward Snowden became a household name, the ACLU was before the Supreme Court challenging the FISA Amendments Act—a key pillar designed to justify much of the NSA’s surveillance. The ACLU argued that since their clients—journalists, advocates, and lawyers—were the prime candidates to be subject to this surveillance, the clients should be able to challenge the law as unconstitutional.

Unfortunately, the government successfully convinced the Court that the case should be thrown out on procedural grounds. The Court ruled the ACLU’s clients didn’t have “standing.” Essentially, because they had no definitive proof they were being spied on, so couldn’t challenge the law.

At the time, many thought this reasoning was absurd, including four dissenting Supreme Court Justices. Given the law’s incredibly broad reach, of course surveillance was occurring. “Perhaps, despite pouring rain, the streets will remain dry,” quipped Justice Breyer.

So in order to convince the Supreme Court to throw out the ACLU’s challenge, the government smartly argued someone could have standing to challenge the law.  Otherwise, it may have seemed absurd to at least one more Justice, and the case might have gone the other way.

Solicitor General Donald Verrilli told the Court any defendant charged with a crime would be officially notified if they were subject to NSA surveillance and then someone could challenge it—an actual target. Prosecutors, according to the government, just hadn’t used FISA evidence yet in any court case.

Turned out, that wasn’t true.

As the New York Times reported last week, “Mr. Verrilli’s assurances clashed with the practices of national security prosecutors, who had not been alerting such defendants that evidence in their cases had stemmed from wiretapping their conversations without a warrant.”

In other words, the argument the Solicitor General used to convince the Supreme Court to dismiss a challenge to the FISA Amendments Act was false, and the Solicitor General deceived the Supreme Court, though perhaps not wittingly. When Verrilli confronted the Justice Department’s national security lawyers who briefed him for his argument, they explained away this false statement as “a misunderstanding,” according to the New York Times.

The Solicitor General has apparently convinced the Justice Department to change its policy and they now claim they will start notifying defendants. If the Justice Department follows through, this move should have implications across the board and will be a welcome shift.

Remember, just a few weeks ago Reuters reported that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was receiving tips from the NSA, distributing them to local law enforcement, and then covering them up by then obtaining the same evidence under different pretenses. As we explained at the time, this not only violates the Fourth Amendment, but the Fifth and Sixth Amendments as well, which guarantee defendants a meaningful opportunity to present a defense and challenge the government’s case.

There’s also the enormous “Hemisphere” phone surveillance program, first revealed by the New York Times in August, which the DEA carries out in partnership with the AT&T. EFF just filed an amicus brief in a San Francisco case that looks suspiciously like Hemisphere surveillance was going on as well.

It’s too early to tell if the Justice Department is going to follow through on its promise to tell the truth about spying in criminal cases. Thankfully, the ACLU has sued under the Freedom of Information Act to find out the Justice Department official policies on notifying defendants of NSA surveillance.

This is only a start.  Informing criminal defendants of warrantless wiretaps only exposes illegal spying on a small few, and the Justice Department has made no promises to inform the millions of ordinary American’s caught up in the NSA dragnet. But it’s an important step forward, and could lead to a court to rule on the legality of the program.

ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer has also called on the Solicitor General to file a formal acknowledgement with the Court that the government’s policy was misrepresented to the justices during arguments. As Jaffer explains, there is ample precedent for the government to do so in situations similar to this.

It’s important for the Court to know that the government has not been honest with them, as the Court considers other representations about secret programs. Unfortunately, this is not the only time the government has provided false and misleading information to a court.

The culture of misinformation around the NSA has to stop. EFF also calls on the Solicitor General to formally acknowledge to the Court its misrepresentations and promptly tell every defendant that was subject to NSA surveillance so they can challenge the unconstitutional laws behind it.

October 23, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Comments Off on When Will the Government Officially Correct the False Claims It Made to the Supreme Court About NSA Surveillance?