Wednesday, November 6, 2019

FBI Conducting Warrantless Surveillance of Americans? Who Would Have Thunk it?

Source: New York Times

To no one’s surprise, unless you live under a rock, the FBI was found to have used section 702 of FISA to search through the emails of American citizens in a secret FISA court ruling that was declassified by Trump Admin recently. As I’ve already explained in a previous post, our “private” telecommunications and tech companies are little more than agents of the state for conducting dragnet warrantless surveillance on the American people. The FBI is notorious for violating constitutional law since its inception and they have many ways of doing this. The FBI also uses so called National Security Letters to obtain the communications of American citizens without even going through a secret court. Moreover, even when they do decide to obtain a warrant they can use one to conduct an indefinite number of searches and search the computers of people who aren’t even part of their criminal investigation. This NYT write up is a limited hangout of what is really going on behind the scenes in Washington. Don’t think for a second that this is being done in pursuit of justice or counterterrorism or whatever bullshit ad hoc alibi they decide to use. Historically, the purpose of any secret police, which the FBI certainly is, is to crack down on political dissent. During the civil rights movement and Vietnam war protests of the 60’s and 70’s it was COINTELPRO. In the early 2000s, the FBI used their new surveillance powers to spy on and harass anti-war protestors, animal rights activists, environmentalists, and anyone who vaguely harbored anti-government views. Today, the FBI considers anyone who talks about conspiracy theories (like COINTELPRO) to be a domestic terrorist threat.

California Court Destroyed Case Files of Criminal Cops

'The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.’
- Patrick Henry
Source: The Appeal

This report details a court in Alameda County (Oakland, CA) using a state statute to destroy the case files of criminal cops charged with drug trafficking, soliciting prostitutes, making false arrests, planting drugs on suspects, and molesting women in the early 2000's. Some criminal cops, like those named in the infamous Riders case, got off scotch free while others, like officer Valerga who molested several Asian American women, received lenient sentences given the nature of their crimes. California state law only requires courts to retain misdemeanor criminal files for five years or three years if a case is dismissed. The statute in question potentially comes into conflict with the Brady rule (Brady v. Maryland) should any of these criminal cops be rehired in another precinct and repeat their criminal behavior. It is not uncommon for cops who were fired for misconduct in one department, and even criminally charged, to be reinstated or hired by another department. Of course, this also undermines police accountability in particular and government transparency in general since the public is precluded from knowing about these cases apart from old news articles. And citizens that are ignorant of the corruption and criminality of their public officials cannot be citizens in any meaningful sense.