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Notes on Civil Liberties for August 29

Here’s the latest news and updates on civil liberties and digital freedom issues—and, also, WikiLeaks. If you have any news tips and would like to contact me, email

Justice Department posts findings showing Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitations Department (MDCR) has engaged in pattern of constitutional violations. The Department found it violates prisoners’ constitutional rights through: inadequate medical care, inadequate health care (including improper suicide prevention), use of excessive force by MDCR staff on prisoners, inadequate protection from prisoner violence and environmental health and sanitation deficiencies at several of the MDCR facilities.

A Chicago woman is acquitted of taping a conversation with a cop. The woman had been sexually assaulted by police. When she filed a complaint against the officer that assaulted her, she was stonewalled. Internal Affairs tried to get her to drop her complaint. She used her BlackBerry to record and was caught. Illinois has a strict eavesdropping law. You can serve 15 years in prison for recording police.

Is Florida’s drug testing of welfare recipients constitutional? At Jonathan Turley’s law blog, he has a guest post from David Drumm who writes about two federal court decisions the ACLU is likely to cite when they challenge Gov. Rick Scott on the drug testing program.

How the surveillance state protects the interests of the ultra-rich: Sarah Jaffe for AlterNet details the surveillance that will be used within the US as protests begin to spread. As she points out, corporations collect data on all of us but oppose revealing any of their information to the public.

FAS reports Justice Department refuses to declassify a 2001 legal OLC opinion by John C. Yoo on the legality of the Bush Administration’s warrantless surveillance program. Special Counsel at OLC, Paul P. Colborn, claims it is “covered by non-disclosure provisions” and also protected by “deliberative process privilege.” (Basically, OLC under Obama doing anything to protect former Bush Administration official’s document revealing details on this policy.)

CIA is demanding cuts from a memoir by a former FBI agent. But, what about the fact that the redactions the CIA wants were already published in former CIA director George Tenet’s book and the 9/11 Commission Report?

Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey is pushing to alter a foreign bribery law. According to an article in POLITICO, the American Chamber of Commerce has recruited him to have the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it a crime for U.S. companies to pay bribes or offer any “thing of value” to a foreign official to advance the corporation’s interest, reined in.

Twenty three months later, the TSA gets back to The Galveston Daily News on its FOIA request. The Texas newspaper requested documents so they could figure out how a “‘high risk’ sex offender could pass a federal background check at the Port of Galveston.” (The time lapse certainly seems unacceptable.)

Wired’s David Kravets with this article on a federal appeals court that is scheduled to hear oral arguments on NSA dragnet surveillance. The court will examine whether “companies can be held accountable for allegedly funneling every American’s electronic communication to the National Security Agency without warrants.”


The booming counterfeit industry in China and other Asian countries was not something Apple was ready for. WikiLeaks released cables that provide details on how Apple organized a team in March 2008 to fight knockoff iPods and iPhones that had flooded the market.

Nikolas Kozloff details what the cables are revealing on US-Brazil relations. Kozloff notes both seemed to have concerns over Hugo Chavez’s “rising geopolitical importance,” particularly in the Caribbean theater.” The US and Brazil kept close tabs on Chavez’s support in Jamaica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Round-up of cables on abortion politics, from Fuzzy Girl. Cables touch on China’s sex-selective abortion, the Vatican’s concern about US health care legislation funding abortion, a Catholicism conference at the Vatican headlined by Tony Blair and Jeb Bush and interference from anti-abortion Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey in Ethiopia.

An Indian Christian leader was convinced that there was an Islamist plot called “Love Jihad.” What did it involve? According to a cable, a plot was on to increase the Muslim population by having Muslim men marry outside of the community—by marrying people like Christian women. The US consulate actually took this seriously and met with a Christian group to get “Love Jihad” details.

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."