Thursday, April 29, 2010

News from Indianz.Com

Witness list for Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing (4/29)

Obama nominates Tulalip woman for NIGC chairman post (4/29)

White House anti-meth campaign targets Indian Country (4/29)

Massachusetts tribes to continue fight against wind farm (4/29)

Indian school in New Mexico reels from string of suicides (4/29)

South Dakota students show up with 'White Pride' shirts (4/29)

BIA cites $33M in savings for Indian school construction (4/29)

Soboba Band elects new chair to replace indicted leader (4/29)

Groups question BIA review of Chumash land-into-trust (4/29)

United Keetoowah Band to enter self-governance pact (4/29)

Erich Longie: Such an outpouring of support for Indians (4/29)

Sen. Merkley opposes land purchase for Klamath Tribes (4/29)

Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe readies for new health clinic (4/29)

Reliable Source: Jimi Hendrix items set for NMAI exhibit (4/29)

Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation launches a new website (4/29)

Navajo man joins New Mexico Indian Affairs Commission (4/29)

Air Force base to return last of land to Oglala Sioux Tribe (4/29)

Column: More on the history of tribal gaming in California (4/29)

Column: Court ruling could hurt support for tribal casinos (4/29)

New York board delays decision on Oneida casino alcohol (4/29)

Florida governor signs Seminole casino compact into law (4/29)

Catawba Nation looks at sites for a high stakes bingo hall (4/29)

Ho-Chunk Nation steers casino funds to local community (4/29)

More headlines...

29 Apr 2010: Today's Democracy Now!

Attorney Uncovers Docs Implicating Vatican in Sexual Abuse Coverup
We speak with St. Paul-based attorney, Jeff Anderson, who has filed hundreds of lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by priests and bishops since 1983. He filed a lawsuit last week against the Vatican in a Milwaukee court and wants the Church to release any files it has on sexual abuse cases involving priests. It was his discovery of previously undisclosed documents that fueled the latest wave of accusations leading all the way up to the Vatican. [Includes rush transcript]

Punk Rock Legend Patti Smith on her Life, Her Art, Her Singing and Speaking Out
We bring you a Democracy Now special with the singer-songwriter, poet, artist, and punk rock legend, Patti Smith, on her life, her art and her singing and speaking out. “I do things that make people upset. My political views or my humanist views have caused me a lot of censorship, but I don’t have a problem with that,” Smith says. “What I would have more of a problem with is, if I had to look back on my life and say, ‘Yeah I compromised here’ and ‘yeah I did this so I could get that’–once you start doing that it’s like a house of cards, it all falls apart.” [Includes rush transcript]


Gulf Coast Oil Spill Could Be 5 Times Initial Estimate
GOP Ends Filibuster of Financial Reform Bill
Justice Dept. Mulls Suit to Block Arizona Immigration Law
Obama: Immigration Reform Bill Could Be Delayed
U.S. Approves First Offshore Wind Farm
Israeli Troops Kill Unarmed Palestinian Protester in Gaza
Paramilitaries Kill 2 Human Rights Activists in Oaxaca
Reporter Subpoenaed to Reveal Sources for CIA Book
GOP Rep. Backs Deporting Children of Undocumented Immigrants
UC Berkeley Student Senate Fails to Override Veto of Israel Divestment Measure

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Record number seek Obama's clemency

BY MIMI HALL • USA TODAY • April 28, 2010

WASHINGTON — President Obama has received more petitions for pardons and shorter prison sentences than previous presidents at this point in office, and he hasn't approved a single one.

Obama has already logged 2,361 clemency petitions, according to the Justice Department. He also faces a backlog of 2,173 old requests, a legacy of a system that civil rights groups and conservative jurists say has fallen into disuse.

Not since Gerald Ford, who approved more than 150 clemency petitions in his first year in office, has a president granted mercy more than 10 times early in his tenure. George W. Bush and Bill Clinton each waited about two years to approve a pardon or shorten a prison sentence, records show.

"The incredibly pernicious political atmosphere makes it difficult for even a president who wanted to use the power," says Daniel Kobil, a professor at Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio.

Recent presidents have scarcely used the privilege in part because of Willie Horton, a convicted murderer who commited robbery and rape in 1986 while out of prison on a furlough sanctioned by Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, a Democrat. Campaign ads about Horton contributed to Dukakis' loss in the 1988 presidential race.

Ex-Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, a Republican, came under fire last year after a man whose sentence he commuted in 2000 killed four cops. Clinton's 2001 pardon, on his last day in office, of indicted tax evader Marc Rich also was controversial because Rich's ex-wife was a Democratic donor.

"The fear of the one case that goes bad haunts every politician," says New York University's law professor Rachel Barkow.

Also fueling the increase in petitions:

• Growth in the federal prison population, now at 210,159.

• Sentencing guidelines set in 1986, which Congress is trying to reverse, that punish crimes involving crack more severely than those involving powdered cocaine.

• The end to parole for federal prisoners in 1984.

When Obama vowed to reverse cocaine sentencing rules, prisoner advocates hoped he also would curb long-term sentences. Instead, "he has been one of the slowest-acting presidents in history," says Jay Rorty of the American Civil Liberties Union.

White House spokesman Ben LaBolt did not comment on the clemency requests, but said Obama has asked for an updated mercy policy.

Former Bush lawyer Kenneth Lee urged Obama to act with "vigor," saying the power to pardon "is an important tool to provide a second chance."

News from Indianz.Com

Salazar approves wind farm despite sacred site concerns (4/28)

Steve Russell: Don't head to Arizona without your papers (4/28)

Sen. Barrasso proposes changes to trust fund settlement (4/28)

Senate Indian Affairs Committee takes up bills at hearing (4/28)

Oneida Nation foes anticipate a review by Supreme Court (4/28)

Opinion: Dorgan draft energy bill limits tribal sovereignty (4/28)

Eastern Cherokees debate next move in enrollment audit (4/28)

Indian candidates fight for House Democratic nomination (4/28)

Editorial: Alaska at a tough place in relations with Natives (4/28)

Recall election proceeds against Little Traverse chairman (4/28)

Navajo court to hear dispute over president's suspension (4/28)

Coquille Tribe's proposal to join tourism board questioned (4/28)

Keweenaw Bay activists camp out at planned mining site (4/28)

Passamaquoddy group declares victory over gas terminal (4/28)

Yakama Nation marks 30th year since fishing rights ruling (4/28)

Snoqualmie Tribe keeps traditions alive with a new canoe (4/28)

Squaxin Island Tribe expects to debut golf course in 2011 (4/28)

University offers course on St. Regis Mohawk Reservation (4/28)

Man pleads guilty for violent assault on Crow Reservation (4/28)

Man enters plea for assaulting woman on Red Lake Nation (4/28)

Meskwaki Tribe opposes proposed casino in home county (4/28)

New York liquor board considers alcohol at Oneida casino (4/28)

Letter: Don't force wealthy tribes to share gaming money (4/28)

County leader proposes casino site for Shinnecock Nation (4/28)

Michigan smoking ban won't affect Indian, Detroit casinos (4/28)

More headlines...

28 Apr 2010: Today's Democracy Now!

Immigration Advocates Rise Up in Anger Over Arizona Law
“Public furor is mounting across the nation over Arizona’s new ‘show me your papers or go to jail’ immigration law,” writes Democracy Now! co-host Juan Gonzalez in his New York Daily News column. “Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Holder said he may step in to challenge the new law, which permits police to stop residents merely on the "reasonable suspicion” that they are unlawfully in the country." [Includes rush transcript]

House Vote On Puerto Rico’s Status Divides Hispanic Lawmakers
The House is set to vote on a measure Thursday which could to Puerto Ricans casting a ballot in a referendum about whether they want to change the territory’s status with the U.S. [Includes rush transcript]

Goldman Execs Grilled Over Role in Inflating Housing Bubble and Then Betting on Collapse
Executives from the bailed-out Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs faced tough questioning on Tuesday at a Senate hearing on their role in the financial crisis. Current and former Goldman officials were grilled on their aggressive marketing of mortgage investments at the same time the firm was betting the investments would fail. We play highlights and speak with investigative journalist Greg Gordon of McClatchy Newspapers and former economist at the Senate Banking Committee, Rob Johnson. [Includes rush transcript]

“Plunder: The Crime Of Our Time”–Danny Schechter Takes on Wall St. in New Film
We speak with investigative journalist, filmmaker, and author Danny Schechter, ‘the News Dissector.’ His latest film features interviews with industry insiders to reveal how the financial crisis was built on a foundation of criminal activity. It’s called “Plunder: The Crime Of Our Time.” [Includes rush transcript]

After 3 Years in Pretrial Solitary Confinement, Fahad Hashmi Pleads Guilty on Eve of Terror Trial
Syed Fahad Hashmi has been held in 23-hour-a-day solitary confinement for nearly three years. The government’s case rested on the testimony and actions of an old acquaintance of Hashmi’s who turned government informant after his own arrest. The 30-year-old American citizen’s trial was due to begin today in New York but on Tuesday Hashmi pleaded guilty to one count of material support to a foreign terrorist organization. In a Democracy Now! exclusive we speak with his brother and his former college advisor. [Includes rush transcript]


Goldman Execs Grilled at Senate Hearing
Senate Republicans Block Financial Reform Bill for Consecutive Day
U.S. Coast Guard Mulls “Controlled Burn” of Gulf Oil Slick
BP Opposed Drilling Safety Rules
Obama: “Everything on Table” for Deficit Reduction
Hashmi Pleads Guilty on Eve on Terror Trial
Gitmo Hearing Weighs Alleged Torture-Induced Confession
Group Urges U.S. to Probe Journalist Killings in Iraq
Justice Dept. Reviewing Arizona Immigration Law
Site of Mine Tragedy Had Highest Variety of Safety Violations in 2009
Oklahoma Senate Overrides Veto of Anti-Abortion Measures
Appeals Judge Orders University of Wyoming to Allow Ayers Speech
Malcom X Assassin Released on Parole

Congress Could Help Prevent Wrongful Convictions

Congress Could Help Prevent Wrongful Convictions
Posted: 27 Apr 2010 10:30 AM PDT

Key members of Congress introduced bipartisan legislation today to create a national commission to examine and reshape the American criminal justice system. At a press conference this morning, U.S. Representatives William Delahunt (D-MA), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Tom Rooney (R-FL) and Bobby Scott (D-VA) announced the introduction of the bill, which is a companion to legislation in the U.S. Senate championed by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) and co-sponsored by 37 Senators.

"We've seen commissions like this have a profound impact in several states over the last few years, and it's time for a national commission to take a good, long, broad look at our system of justice. Among other things, this commission can help identify why wrongful convictions happen and how they can be prevented. This is critical for ensuring public safety and confidence in our criminal justice system," said Innocence Project Policy Director Stephen Saloom.

Chip Fitzgerald on hunger strike

April 25, 2010…


Chip is demanding a transfer out of the hole at Corcoran State Prison where he has been for over a year.

In response to his unfair housing in Administrative Segregation (“the hole”) Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald is currently refusing food. In support of Chip we ask that you call Warden Raul Lopez to DEMAND that Chip be transferred out of Ad Seg and into general population immediately.



559-992-8800 (phone) Extension #5008
559-999-4636 (fax)
Monday, April 26, 2010

Dear New York Jericho: According to one of Romaine "Chip" Fitzgerald's reliable supporters, Mr. Fitzgerald (ONE OF OUR LONGEST SERVING POLITICAL PRISONERS) is on about the seventh day a hunger strike at the Corcoran State Prison in California. From what I understand, he has refused to eat food or drink water for at least seven days. Mr. Fitzgerald undertook the hunger strike to protest against prison officials locking him away in solitary confinement for the last two years. From what I understand, Mr. Fitzgerald believed that he should have been released on April 8, 2010. When the warden, Mr. Raul Lopez, refused to release Chip Fitzgerald from solitary confinement on April 8, Mr. Fitzgerald threatened to go on a hunger strike -- and to remain on the hunger strike until death. After some debate about the issue, Mr. Fitzgerald started the hunger strike about seven days ago.

According to Emani Bey (Mr. Fitzgerald's supporter in Oakland, California), Warden Raul Lopez threatened to force feed Mr. Fitzgerald tomorrow, on Tuesday, April 27, 2010. However, the humane way to arrange for Mr. Fitzgerald to eat food and to drink water would be to release him from solitary confinement and into the general prison population. After doing so, Mr. Fitzgerald would willingly eat food and drink water. In the meantime, Mr. Fitzgerald strongly implies that he will kill himself with this hunger strike. In recent letters, he told his supporters "good bye". If I am not mistaken, he also expressed regret that he would not see them again.

At this time, the activists organizing a campaign to save Romaine "Chip" Fitzgerald's life plan the following: (1) to persuade Mr. Fitzgerald to drink water so that he will live for a much longer period than he would if he continues to refuse water and other forms of nourishment; (2) call and write Governor Arnold Scwharzenegger at the address and telephone number listed below (and by email and Twitter through his web site) for the purpose of demanding that Romaine "Chip" Fitzgerald be released immediately from solitary confinement and into the general prison population, that Mr. Fitzgerald not be force fed, and that Mr. Fitzgerald be treated humanely; and (3) call and write Warden Raul Lopez of Corcoran State Prison, Secretary Matthew Cate of the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation ("CDCR"), and the ombudsman for CDCR for the purpose of making the same demands.

Since Chip Fitzgerald has forsaken food and water for up to seven days, he could die in the next few days or be force fed as early as tomorrow. In either case, we need to recognize that Chip may be suffering from depression. We need also to recognize that he needs to see his family, his friends, and good lawyers, all of whom need to encourage him to live, but all of whom also need to work with him if he chooses to continue his hunger strike. On this point, these people need to persuade Mr. Fitzgerald to drink water, no matter what else he decides to do. Fasting without water could result in death in from seven to ten days. On the other hand, a person who fasts while drinking healthy water could live for as long as sixty or more days. Hence, if Chip drinks water, he would give us more time to work on his behalf.

I write this email as an emergency notice about this tragedy. I have yet to research Secretary Matthew Cate's address and telephone number. However, we need to act immediately. In other words, we need to pressure Governor Arnold Schwarzegger, Warden Raul Lopez, and the ombudsman for the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation to free Mr. Fitzgerald from solitary confinement. I suspect that locking Mr. Fitzgerald in solitary confinement for two or more years straight at sixty-one years of age (his birthday was April 11), and doing so to a man who has lived in prison for the last forty years, constitutes a form of emotional and physical torture. I suspect that this torture has seriously compromised Mr. Fitzgerald's emotional well-being and judgment. At the least, he must be emotionally and physically exhausted from prison. Unless we act now and show Mr. Fitzgerald that the liberation movement will save him from solitary confinement and other forms of mistreatment, we may well lose this brother. For this reason, I send this email to you on an emergency basis. I also copied below the email from Ms. Emani Bey, the sister who alerted me and others about the crisis.

Thomas Ruffin
Black August Planning Organization & Nat Turner Rebellion

P.S. Romaine "Chip" Fitzgerald's identification number in the California prison system is #B-27527.

Raul Lopez, Warden
Corcoran State Prison
(559) 992-8800
(559) 999-4636 (fax)

Governor Arnold Schwarzegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, California 95814
(916) 445-2841 (office)
(916) 558-3160 (fax)

Political Prisoners Locked Away in the "Land of the Free"


New report calls for justice for U.S. political prisoners and takes human rights case to the United Nations

U.S. political prisoners have endured decades of abuse, many face death in prison

By Richard B. Muhammad -Editor-in-Chief

CHICAGO ( - When it comes to the United Nations and countries charged with rights violations, the United States is usually the chief accuser of others and remains a self-ordained defender of human rights.

But a recent report filed with the world body raises the ugly issue of political prisoners and repression in America and her human rights violations.

"The United States is very, very concerned when its citizens begin to raise questions in these international forums, because the United States still prefers to posture itself, including the Obama administration, as still the leader of the free world and that they don't have any human rights violations and they certainly don't have any political prisoners, and we have to dispel that notion in the international community," said Stan Willis, of the National Conference of Black Lawyers.

Atty. Willis filed the report April 14 as part of a process in which the United Nations reviews the status of each country and its human rights record. The U.S. is currently under review and will respond in November during a gathering in Geneva, Switzerland.

The United Nations' Universal Period Review process was introduced in 2006 and community-based, non-governmental and other organizations are allowed to point out human rights issues within their countries and where they feel violations of international law or UN treaties have been committed.

For Black America, the process is another way to hold the U.S. government accountable and to demand the release of Black Power era leaders and members of organizations whose political views are objectionable, said Mr. Willis, in an interview.

Beyond freeing an aging population of some 100 former Black Panthers, members of the MOVE organization and other revolutionary-oriented groups, taking the issue to the United Nations puts America and her dirty laundry on front street, said the longtime activist and lawyer.

"They (American officials) do not want to have these issues reach the world's people. How do you go into Iraq or Afghanistan telling people about their democracy when you got Black people that are locked down in prison for 30-40 years as political prisoners?"

Whether the problem was leftist ideology, nationalists and those calling for a Black homeland, demands for a new economic order or Native American rights and anti-Vietnam War efforts, government security agencies infiltrated dissident groups.

The security activity went hand-in-hand with crackdowns on Black, Latino, Native American and even some White groups demanding a more just and peaceful society­and greater demands for respect for rights and opposition to police violence.

"Such repression resulted in murders, injuries, false arrests, malicious prosecutions and lengthy imprisonments of scores of political activists," the report said.

The continued incarceration and mistreatment of these prisoners violates UN treaties and conventions that guarantee human rights, forbid torture and outlaw racial and political targeting by government, the report charges.
Surveillance and destroying organizations

The plight of political prisoners is largely rooted in the 1960s-1970s era surveillance against Black groups, which included respected civil rights organizations as well as so-called Black radicals, according to Mr. Willis. About two-thirds of the jailed dissidents are Black, he said.

The FBI teamed with local law enforcement to attack, disrupt and destroy groups like the Black Panther Party and the Nation of Islam, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which was admitted during congressional hearings in 1976 empanelled to probe these secret domestic wars.

The covert Counterintelligence Program run by then-FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, and approved by the White House, focused in specially on the Black Panther Party, and most political prisoners are either former Panthers or from MOVE, a radical "back-to-nature" group whose homes were bombed by the Philadelphia Police Department in 1985.

"U.S. political prisoners have languished in U.S. prisons for decades under cruel and inhumane conditions. Several have died in prison; others have endured years of solitary confinement, poor medical health care, various other forms of abuse, and perfunctory parole hearings resulting in routine denial of human rights," the report noted.

The report calls for the unconditional release of political prisoners jailed as a result of the government's Counterintelligence Program, an executive review of all cases related to the covert operation, a murder probe into the deaths of Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark and actions to repair and redress harm done and to prevent similar acts in the future.

While Atty. Willis is pushing the plight of political prisoners, he said the impact of the government wrongdoing went beyond the heavy price young activists paid at the time.

"Movements move forward with masses of people but they move forward with a certain kind of leadership," said Mr. Willis.

During the revolutionary times of the 1960s and 1970s, youth and students were influenced by the efforts of the Nation of Islam, Congress of Racial Equality, and NAACP as well as the African liberation movement on the continent and Cuba's revolution, he continued.

A type of leadership was developing that America had never seen before and the government moved to crush that leadership, Mr. Willis said.

The Panthers and SNCC were wiped out and law enforcement and government sent clear signals that if others persisted in demanding progressive action they would also be destroyed, he said.

"Our community suffered. Our community deserves reparations just on that issue because it set us back in the 1960s and we see where we are now, we haven't recovered from that," he said. "It's not just those in prison that suffered, and they certainly suffered mightily because they have been locked down and some of them are dying in prison. Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were murdered. But the community suffered," he said. Young leaders Hampton and Clark headed the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party. They were shot and killed in a police raid on a west side home in 1969.
U.S. power vs. the power of the people

While the U.S. wields considerable power at the United Nations, in particular with its veto power on the Security Council, Atty. Willis rejects the notion that holding the superpower to international standards is a futile effort.

The General Assembly is largely made up of delegates from around the world, and public opinion and moral authority is bigger than U.S. power, he said.

The lawyer pointed to fighting in Chicago for two decades for Blacks tortured in a police precinct and officers under former police commander John Burge. It was only after the case, which involved hundreds of suspects coerced into making confessions because of torture, was put before international bodies that U.S. law enforcement officials moved against Mr. Burge. He will go on trial May 10 in federal court and is accused of obstruction of justice and perjury.

"It was only after the United Nations mentioned torture in the context of Abu Grahaib, Guantanamo Bay and Chicago, in the same paragraph, that John Burge was indicted within months of that," Mr. Willis said. The Justice Dept. reached out about the case after the world body noted the violations, he said.
International forums and broader remedies

More involvement is needed in international forums, where violations of basic rights to education, health, employment, housing, and abuses of discrimination and police brutality can be brought out, Mr. Willis argued.

Essentially the forums provide a way to call attention to government failures or misdeeds and ask that the UN or other bodies where the U.S. holds membership to investigate and demand America comply with international law or treaties. The forums can also be highly embarrassing for the world's greatest democracy.

"We can have a mighty voice because when we speak in the international context it resonates with African people all over the world, unlike anybody else, and they look for us to speak because they know we are in the lion's den," said Atty. Willis.

The U.S. civil rights laws also say what government can't do, while the international standards stress what countries must do, Mr. Willis explained. Under the United Nations standards, countries must educate children and localities could not argue that because of a lower tax base Black children get a lesser quality or failing education, he explained.

Remedies are much broader in the international context, which include reparations as a common remedy, but civil rights laws don't provide for reparations, Mr. Willis added.

It's not just going to Geneva but confronting local entities, like school districts, and being able to redefine education and press districts to come in line with international standards, he said. Blacks have also tried to take their struggle to the United Nations in the past, Mr. Willis said.

"We have a history of trying to get there, but we haven't got there because I think we got so focused on civil rights we forgot there is a remedy out there and we can draw on the collective sentiments of the world community by trying to take our case into a more international forum," he said. "We don't have to rely on who is the president, we can force the president because the president and the administration is very, very sensitive to world opinion. There is no question about that," he said.

Concerns about the arrest and targeting of Arab and Palestinian communities and Muslims after 9-11 and 23-hour-a-day lockdowns make government abuses relevant today, Atty. Willis said.

Political prisoners have traditionally been locked down, not because they violated prison policy or disrupted prison but because officials don't want disruption based on ideas, he said.

The Obama administration, unlike its predecessors, has taken the position that they support human rights and the U.S. has a member on the Human Rights Council, said Mr. Willis.

His goal is to get the political prisoners on the agenda, but filing a report isn't enough, he said.

It will take more awareness and education of the Black community, activism and lobbying for political prisoners at the United Nations, town hall meetings to explain where the issues are, and getting the academic and faith communities to weigh in on the problem, he said.

"It's a way of organizing our people and encouraging them to take these international forums seriously and adding that to their tools of raising issues related to various problems we have in the United States. It doesn't mean you stop doing anything else.

"The fact that I am trying to raise issues in the international forum doesn't mean I am stopping suing police," he said.

"It just means this is an additional weapon that we have to try to get this country in compliance with international human rights laws."

FCN is a distributor (and not a publisher) of content supplied by third parties. Original content supplied by FCN and News is Copyright 2009 FCN Publishing, Content supplied by third parties are the property of their respective owners.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

News from Indianz.Com

Mark Trahant: Health care reform brings more jobs to IHS (4/27)

Rob Capriccioso: Obama remains silent on Native apology (4/27)

Editorial: Justice delayed for Indian trust fund settlement (4/27)

Echo Hawk picks Mike Black as permanent director of BIA (4/27)

VOA News: Indigenous people see themselves in 'Avatar' (4/27)

Editorial: Reasonable settlement in Havasupai blood case (4/27)

Wind River students start support group after girl's death (4/27)

South Dakota county to provide voting material in Lakota (4/27)

Ojibwe tribes request comanagement of treaty resources (4/27)

Oneida Nation spent over $500K for lobbying in New York (4/27)

County backs agreement for Ho-Chunk Nation trust lands (4/27)

State challenges Alaska Native corporation's river claims (4/27)

BIA stops lease for Passamaquoddy natural gas terminal (4/27)

Maine tribes seek new leader for tribal-state commission (4/27)

Editorial: Medical community needs more Navajo doctors (4/27)

Editorial: Wisconsin mascot bill something to cheer about (4/27)

Editorial: Chickasaw Nation role at national park a win win (4/27)

Lumbee group urges chairman to kill recognition contract (4/27)

Editorial: Wind farm in Massachusetts good for the nation (4/27)

Little Traverse Bay Bands lose another gaming executive (4/27)

California lawmaker readies bill to legalize Internet poker (4/27)

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs to meet for Internet gaming (4/27)

Anti-casino group says more oppose Guidiville Band plan (4/27)

More headlines...

27 Apr 2010: Today's Democracy Now!

“Avatar” Director James Cameron Follows Box Office Success with Advocacy for Indigenous Struggles
On the heels of his record-setting Hollywood blockbuster Avatar, the film director James Cameron is taking on a new role as an activist, allying himself with indigenous struggles he says mirror the plot of his film. In Avatar, an indigenous species called the Na’vi resists the private military force of a powerful corporation bent on exploiting their planet’s valuable minerals. Democracy Now! producer Aaron Maté caught up with James Cameron to discuss Avatar, Cameron’s opposition to the Belo Monte in Brazil, last week’s peoples’ climate summit in Bolivia, and his reaction to seeing Avatar embraced by indigenous people worldwide, from the Amazon to the Occupied Territories. [includes rush transcript]

John Ross on “El Monstruo: Dread and Redemption in Mexico City”
Independent reporter, activist and poet John Ross has been covering social movements in Mexico and Latin America for nearly fifty years. He is the author of ten books; his latest is El Monstruo: Dread and Redemption in Mexico City. Ross moved to Mexico City in the aftermath of the massive 8.1-magnitude earthquake in 1985 and has lived there ever since. [includes rush transcript]

Rep. Grijalva Calls for Federal Non-Cooperation with Controversial AZ Immigration Bill
Outrage is growing over the passage of a controversial new measure in Arizona that forces police officers to determine the immigration status of someone they suspect of being an undocumented immigrant. We speak with Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), who is urging federal non-cooperation with the new law and is calling for a targeted economic boycott of Arizona. We also speak with Sunita Patel, an attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is filing a lawsuit demanding records related to ICE’s little known “Secure Communities” program. [includes rush transcript]


GOP Blocks Advance of Financial Reform Bill
Goldman Faces New Allegations Ahead of Senate Testimony
US Extradites Noriega to France
Abbas Signs Order Barring Palestinians from Working in Israeli Settlements
Calderón Denounces Arizona Immigration Law
Study Claims Chernobyl Disaster Killed Nearly 1 Million
Oil Spill Grows in Gulf of Mexico
Terror Trial Begins for Jailed US Citizen Held in Lengthy Solitary Confinement
Appeals Court Upholds Wal-Mart Discrimination Suit

Monday, April 26, 2010

News from Indianz.Com

Tim Giago: Democrat reaches out to South Dakota tribes (4/26)

Charles Trimble: A Lakota sense of place on reservation (4/26)

Kevin Abourezk: Finding a little bit of hope at Whiteclay (4/26)

Clock ticking for Congress to approve Cobell settlement (4/26)

House Speaker Pelosi backs settlement for Cobell case (4/26)

Supreme Court asks for DOJ views on Alaska ICWA case (4/26)

Salazar expected to make wind farm decision by Friday (4/26)

Lac du Flambeau president remains in power amid feud (4/26)

At least five candidates seek Navajo Nation presidency (4/26)

Editorial: Fighting drug trafficking on the Navajo Nation (4/26)

Editorial: Public suffers in Coeur d'Alene policing dispute (4/26)

Column: White Earth leader prefers diplomacy on treaty (4/26)

Editorial: California tribes can't get free ride on casinos (4/26)

Editorial: California deserves a share of tribal revenues (4/26)

Column: Gun Lake Tribe opposes more Michigan gaming (4/26)

Column: Watch out doing business with Seminole casino (4/26)

Column: Casinos always have the upper hand on wagers (4/26)

More headlines...

26 Apr 2010: Today's Democracy Now!

“The United Nations Is Beyond Reform…It Has to Be Reinvented”–Fmr. UN General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto
One of the higher-profile participants at the Cochabamba climate conference was the former president of the United Nations General Assembly, Father Miguel d’Escoto. A Roman Catholic priest from Nicaragua, d’Escoto served as foreign minister in Daniel Ortega’s government from 1979 to 1990. He joins us to talk about the failures of the UN, the importance of the Bolivia climate summit, why Latin America doesn’t need the United States, and much more. [includes rush transcript–partial]

Radio Gente: Cochabamba Radio Station Airs Democracy Now! in Spanish
We pay a visit to Radio Gente 94.7 FM, the Cochabamba radio station that airs Democracy Now! in Spanish. Democracy Now! broadcasts on more than 250 stations across Latin America. [includes rush transcript]


Rescue Effort Ends, Oil Leaking into Gulf
Arizona Governor Signs Immigrant Crackdown Bill
Graham Drops Support for Climate Bill
Thousands Hold Earth Day Rally in DC
Obama Honors Victims of W. Va. Mine Blast
72 Killed in Iraq Bombings
3 Afghan Civilians Reportedly Killed in US Raid
Clashes Follow Israeli Settler March in Palestinian Neighborhood
Israeli Troops Shoot Protesters in Gaza
90,000 Japanese Protest US Base on Okinawa
Rallies Held Worldwide for Spanish Human Rights Judge
Dems to Hold Cloture Vote on Financial Reform Bill
Goldman Sachs Execs Bragged of Profiting from Housing Crash
12 Killed in Southern Tornadoes
Jailed US Hikers in Poor Health in Iran

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Call to Action for Mumia



Politely but forcefully, demand a civil rights investigation into the case of
Mumia Abu-Jamal. Sound logical and knowledgeable: that you know the Department
of Justice has the jurisdiction to conduct a civil rights investigation when
egregious violations of civil rights have taken place. Explain that Mumia never
got a fair trial, and that there is extensive evidence of police,prosecutorial,
and judicial misconduct, as well as strong evidence of Mumia's
innocence that was systematically excluded by the courts from the record.

If the hotline, 202 353-1555, doesn't answer, call the main Justice Dept.
switchboard number,202-514-2000 and tell them what you're calling about. If
you're late in calling because you forgot and we're sending this out late, CALL



News from Indianz.Com

House passes Indian Veterans Housing Opportunity Act (4/22)

Economist: Wilma Mankiller helped the Cherokee people (4/22)

Harold Monteau: Young Indian lawyers and sovereignty (4/22)

Rob Capriccioso: Blog battles paper's editor on mascots (4/22)

Opinion: Learning from Native views of health treatment (4/22)

Researcher denies wrongdoing in Havasupai blood case (4/22)

Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe wins decision on stolen water (4/22)

Coeur d'Alene Tribe blasts county on policing agreement (4/22)

Petition seeks to oust Southern Ute chairman from office (4/22)

Jury deliberates case against Aquash murder defendant (4/22)

Standing Rock Sioux ranchers complain about loan office (4/22)

Supporters of 'Fighting Sioux' push for tribal referendum (4/22)

Column: 'Fighting Sioux' supporters overlook race issues (4/22)

Republican nominees decided compact negotiation case (4/22)

California tribal casino sharing fund slowly losing money (4/22)

Fond du Lac Band loses suit over slot machine revenues (4/22)

Grand Traverse man a spokesman for anti-gaming group (4/22)

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe asked for public casino talks (4/22)

More headlines...

Free Mumia!


22 Apr 2010: Today's Democracy Now!

New Senate Climate Bill Is “Slap in the Face to Everything that Earth Day Stands For”
Today is the fortieth anniversary of Earth Day. In the years following the first Earth Day, the Nixon administration passed a series of major environmental legislation, including the Clean Air Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act. On Monday, Senators John Kerry, Joseph Lieberman and Lindsey Graham plan to introduce a climate bill that will eliminate the EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. We speak with Daphne Wysham, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. [includes rush transcript]

Mesa 18: Dissident Groups Host Alternative Meeting Outside World Peoples’ Climate Summit
A few blocks from the main entrance to the university where the peoples’ climate summit is taking place, hundreds of Bolivian and Latin American environmentalists have been crowding into a single hall to participate in discussions that they say were too controversial for the actual summit. Dubbed “mesa 18,” or “working group 18,” the discussions were focused on the environmental destruction inside Bolivia caused by development projects, mining, and oil and gas exploration promoted by the Morales government. On Wednesday afternoon, Anjali Kamat spoke to Moira Millán, an indigenous Mapuche activist from southern Argentina. [includes rush transcript]

Ex-Leader of Bolivia Peasant Workers near San Cristóbal Mine Says Company Lied About Water Pollution, Demands Pay for Vast Water Usage
The Regional Federation of Peasant Workers of the South Altiplano (FRUCTAS) is a grassroots organization of community members from Nor Lípez province of the central Potosí region of Bolivia. They are in the midst of a struggle against the Japanese trading giant Sumitomo Corporation, which owns the massive San Cristóbal mine. We speak with Francisco Quisbert Salinas, the ex-leader of FRUCTAS. [includes rush transcript]

From Melting Glaciers to Structural Adjustment: Maude Barlow on the Need for Water Justice
In the Andean highlands of South America, climate change isn’t just an abstract threat. In Bolivia, glaciers are melting at what experts say is an alarming rate as a result of rising global temperatures. We speak with Maude Barlow, head of the Council of Canadians, about the melting glaciers, climate change and water.

Bolivia Climate Conference Moves to Establish Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth
One of the key initiatives of the climate conference in Bolivia is to come out with a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. We speak with South African environmental lawyer Cormac Cullinan, the co-president of the Rights of Mother Earth Working Group at the summit. He arrived at the climate change conference with a draft declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth that formed the basis of the discussion.

Bolivian Conservationist Calls for Preservation of Madidi Region, One of the Most Biodiverse Areas of World
As Bolivian President Evo Morales is being celebrated internationally for hosting the World Peoples’ Summit on Climate Change and Rights of Mother Earth, some Bolivian environmentalists and conservationists have questioned Morales’ domestic policies. In northern Bolivia, Morales has supported oil exploration and other development inside the Madidi National Park. The region is considered one of the most biodiverse areas on earth. On Thursday, I spoke with Rosa María Ruiz, who has worked in the Madidi region for decades and led efforts for the region to be protected.


11 Missing in Oil Rig Explosion off La. Coast
Senate Panel Advances Derivatives Regulation
Obama: Abortion Rights a Factor in Court Pick, But Not a “Litmus Test”
European Flights Resume Following Ash Closures
Pentagon: Iran Attack Not “Off the Table”
Trial Begins in Beating of Iraqi Prisoner
US to Withdraw Troops from Haiti
Israel Again Rejects Call for East Jerusalem Settlement Freeze
DC Council Abandons Incentives for Military Firm
Appeals Court Suspends Ruling Blocking ACORN Funding
Students Arrested Protesting Arizona Immigration Bill

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Celebrating the Life of Safiya Asya Bukhari

Malcolm X Grassroots Movement Presents:
Celebrating the Life of Safiya Asya Bukhari

Freedom Fighter, International Freedom Fighter Supporter & Author of The War Before

Sunday, April 25th 1pm-4pm
Community Service Society
105 East 22nd St. at Park Ave., NYC

Panel Discussion with:

Wonda Jones, Safiya Bukhari-Albert Nuh Washington Foundation, Safiya's Panther Cub
Ashanti Alston, former Political Prisoner, Jericho Movement, MXGM Member
Laura Whitehorn, former Political Prisoner, NY State Task Force on Political Prisoners
Benjamin Ramos Rosado, The ProLibertad Freedom Campaign

Hosted by Sala Cyril (MXGM Member, Panther Cub)

Others to be confirmed

To download a flyer for this event, click

Roots of Resistance Conference

For Immediate Release: April 18th, 2010

Roots of Resistance Conference: Continuing the Struggle
When: 10am-6pm, May 1st and 2nd
Where: Kent State University Student Center-Third Floor

The Roots of Resistance Conference is a two day event featuring workshops and discussions on topics such as student activism past and present, combating racism and sexual assault, and developing successful organizing strategies. With participation from Dr. Gene Young, eyewitness to the Jackson State shootings, Mark Rudd, of Students for a Democratic Society and later the Weather Underground, and Dr. Staughton Lynd, a veteran organizer of labor, peace, and prisoner solidarity, along with many other student and community activists as well as professors, this conference is a space in which we can build a strong future for our struggles while learning from the experiences of the 1960's and 70's.

A full list of workshops, details and events for the entire weekend can be found at:

Organized by members of Kent Anti-Racist Action, the May 4th Task Force, Black United Students, KSU-NAACP, and the Women's Liberation Collective.
All events are free.

Contact E-mail:

News from Indianz.Com

Doug George-Kanentiio: Iroquois tribes must stay united (4/21)

Elouise Cobell answers questions about trust settlement (4/21)

NARF to discuss Supreme Court nominee at White House (4/21)

Havasupai Tribe resolves suit over use of blood samples (4/21)

1st Navajo student body president at Fort Lewis College (4/21)

Little Traverse leaders await decision on recall petitions (4/21)

Cow Creek Band chairwoman loses paid consultant post (4/21)

WPR: Great Lakes tribes receive $1M for tobacco efforts (4/21)

Bill against Indian mascots goes to Wisconsin governor (4/21)

San Manuel Band donates $200K for college partnership (4/21)

Column: Pascua Yaqui Tribe on the right track with MMA (4/21)

Agua Caliente Band to submit response on beetle listing (4/21)

Schwarzenegger to ask for rehearing in compact lawsuit (4/21)

Station Casinos to accept bids on tribal gaming projects (4/21)

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe to discuss casino with town (4/21)

City might repeal resolution against Cowlitz casino plan (4/21)

Editorial: Debate improved Seminole Tribe's casino deal (4/21)

More headlines...

21 Apr 2010: Today's Democracy Now!

Evo Morales Opens Climate Change Conference in Tiquipaya
As the peoples’ climate change talks here move into their third day, thousands of participants from across Latin America and around the world are streaming into this small Bolivian town to discuss how to slow the impact of global warming. Anjali Kamat and Rick Rowley file this report on Tuesday’s opening ceremony. [includes rush transcript]

“The Most Important Event in the Struggle Against Climate Change”–Nigerian Environmentalist Nnimmo Bassey on Bolivia Climate Conference
Among those who spoke at the inauguration ceremony for the World Peoples’ Climate Conference was Nnimmo Bassey, the prominent Nigerian environmentalist and chair of Friends of the Earth International. By contrast, at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen in December, his group, along with several other mainstream environmental organizations, was barred from the talks. “Here you get a real sense that government wants to speak to people,” Bassey says. [includes rush transcript]

Why Is the US Cutting Off Climate Aid to the Poorest Country in South America?–Bolivian Climate Negotiator Angélica Navarro
The Obama administration has confirmed it’s denying climate aid to at least two countries that refused to sign onto last year’s Copenhagen environmental accord. The State Department has canceled funding of $3 million to Bolivia and $2.5 million to Ecuador. The funding was canceled at a time when Bolivia is losing its glaciers and suffering mass drought due to climate change. Bolivia’s lead climate negotiator Angélica Navarro calls on the developed world to pay a climate debt to poor nations suffering the impact of climate change.

“The World Is Changing in a More Progressive Way, and It’s Taking Place Here”–Boaventura de Sousa Santos on Bolivia Climate Summit
Among the thousands of participants at the World Peoples’ Climate Conference in Cochabamba is Boaventura de Sousa Santos, an internationally respected scholar and one of the leading organizers of the World Social Forum. He is a professor of sociology at the University of Coimbra in Portugal and a distinguished legal scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Bolivian Indigenous Activists Call for End to Polluting Extractive Industries Inside Bolivia
As the World Peoples’ Summit on Climate Change gets underway in Tiquipaya, an estimated 700 indigenous activists are continuing their occupation of a mining firm in the southeastern Bolivian province of Potosi. The Qulla people have blocked access to a key railway line from the San Cristóbal silver-zinc-lead mine owned by Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation. They say Sumitomo is contaminating their land and water with mine waste. We speak to two activists from CONAMAQ, the National Council of Ayllus and Markas of Qullasuyu. Erminia Colque and Gabino Apata Mamni want their concerns to be heard at the summit.


NATO Attack Kills 4 Afghan Civilians
Fmr. Argentine Junta Leader Sentenced to 25 Years
Iraq Accused of Torturing Sunnis at Secret Prison
Israeli FM Warns Against Peace Effort
Humanitarian Ships to Attempt New Breach of Gaza Blockade
Peoples’ Climate Summit Opens in Bolivia
Brazil Auctions Off Dam Project, Indigenous Groups Vow Resistance
Goldman Profits Increase; UK Regulators Open Probe
6 Arrested in DC Protesting Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
Supreme Court Overturns Law on Depicting Animal Cruelty
Evangelist Who Called Islam “Evil” Slated for Pentagon Event
Dorothy Height Dies at 98

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Indigenous People take over mining firm in the wake of Climate Change conference

Indigenous People take over mining firm in the wake of Climate Change conference

With the Global People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of the Mother Earth set to begin in Cochabamba, Bolivia, a group of Indigenous people have occupied the offices of a mining firm in the southeastern province of Potosi near the Chilean border. The occupation began several days ago, on April 12, with roughly 700 [...]

You may view the latest post at

SF8 Update for 19 Apr 2010

A spirited demonstration Monday morning included many members of the community, five of the San Francisco 8, leading members of the Black clergy, SF supervisors Eric Mar and John Avalos, and the rhythms of the Brass Liberation Orchestra. The crowd demanded that the charges be dropped against Francisco Torres, the last remaining defendant in the case.

The actual court hearing was packed with supporters but was extremely brief. It merely set a drop-dead compliance date (May 28th) for the prosecution to either come up with additional discovery or admit that evidence referred to in previous documents is missing or destroyed. This stipulation will underscore the prejudicial delay that has been argued since the beginning of this 39–year old case based on torture and rooted in the government’s COINTELPRO attack on the Black Panther Party. The next scheduled court appearance is currently set for July 1st.

News from Indianz.Com

IHCIA seeks to boost number of Indians in medical field (4/20)

Dakota descendants to press trust claims in lower court (4/20)

Supreme Court takes up Apache man's restitution case (4/20)

Village battles BIA over Oneida Nation's land-into-trust (4/20)

One Indian serving on Montana redistricting committee (4/20)

Crow Creek Sioux chair loses reelection bid by 11 votes (4/20)

Judge delays hearing over Mishewal Wappo recognition (4/20)

Morongo Band contributes $20K to assist area charities (4/20)

Opinion: Appropriating Native culture once again trendy (4/20)

Anonymous memo ties Internet gaming bill to Abramoff (4/20)

Florida governor expected to sign Seminole casino deal (4/20)

Lawsuit seeks $15M from Mohegan casino in fatal crash (4/20)

City wants casino talk with Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe (4/20)

Hopi man named to gaming board at Nevada law school (4/20)

More headlines...

20 Apr 2010: Today's Democracy Now!

Bolivian Indigenous Activist: We Must Respect Mother Earth, Our Pachamama
On Monday, the top US climate negotiator, Todd Stern, admitted that a binding agreement on curbing greenhouse gas emissions may not even be possible at the next UN climate summit scheduled for December in Cancun. Stern’s comments came after the US took part in the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate in Washington. While the United States and other nations met behind closed doors on Monday, a very different climate summit began here in Bolivia: the World Peoples’ Summit on Climate Change and Rights of Mother Earth. We begin today’s show with Peregrina Kusse Viza, a member of the Bolivian indigenous group CONAMAQ. [includes rush transcript]

As Protests Mount Against San Cristóbal Silver Mine, Bolivia Looks to Extract Massive Lithium Reserves, But at What Cost?
We look at why Bolivian miners have staged a major protest at the San Cristóbal mine, one of the world’s largest silver mines. We speak to journalist Jean Friedman-Rudovsky about the protest and about lithium, one of the most important new energy sources. Bolivia’s lithium reserves are estimated to be the largest in the world.

Actress Q’orianka Kilcher on Climate Change Activism: Public Figures and Celebrities “Have a Responsibility to Help Give a Voice to the Voiceless”
Thousands of indigenous groups, grassroots activists and environmentalists began streaming into the World Peoples’ Summit on Climate Change and Rights of Mother Earth in Tiquipaya, Bolivia on Monday. Among them was the award-winning young Hollywood actress Q’orianka Kilcher. “I really believe, and love, the saying ‘there comes a time when silence is betrayal,’” Kilcher says. “As public figures and as celebrities, we have a responsibility to be able to help give a voice to the voiceless.”

Pat Mooney on the Dangers of Geoengineering and Manipulating the Planet to Combat Climate Change
Supporters of geoengineering have proposed radical ways to alter the planet to decrease the level of greenhouse gas emissions. Proposals include creating artificial volcanoes to pollute the atmosphere with sulfur particles, fertilizing the oceans and placing sun-deflecting aluminum foil in the sky. But opposition is growing to geoengineering. Here at the World Peoples’ Summit on Climate Change in Bolivia, the ETC Group is launching an international campaign against geoengineering experiments. We speak with the group’s founder, Pat Mooney, a Right Livelihood Award winner.


China Earthquake Toll Passes 2,000
Air Travel Resumes in Europe Amidst New Ash Warning
US, Iraq Claim Killings of 2 Militant Leaders
Iran Bars 2 Opposition Parties
Brazilian Court Delays Dam Bidding for 2nd Time
New Zealand Signs UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights
Egyptian Official: Gov’t Forces Can Fire on Protesters
ALBA Summit Coincides with Venezuelan Bicentennial
Citigroup Posts $4.4B Quarterly Profit
Goldman Hires Ex-Obama White House Counsel
Hundreds Mark 15th Anniversary of Oklahoma City Bombing
Pro-Gun Rallies Held in DC, Virginia
Woman Killed, 2 Others Wounded in Tenn. Murder-Suicide Shooting
Arizona Senate OKs Anti-Immigrant Measure
56,000 Images Captured on Monitored Student Laptops at Pa. Schools

“Freedom of Speech Now!” Political Prisoners, Political Repression and the Prison Industrial Complex


Law and Disorder

“Freedom of Speech Now!” Political Prisoners, Political Repression and the Prison Industrial Complex


Speakers and performers include:

Darrelle Dino Butler- Member of the American Indian Movement

Paulette d'auteuil; Jericho Movement

Ashanti Omowali Alston-Anarchist Panther, Jericho Movement

Stephanie Boston- Portland Animal Defense League

Jeff Luers- Former eco-Political Prisoner

Peter Bohmer-Professor, Evergreen College

Kent Ford-Former Black Panther and father of Political Prisoner

Rob Los Ricos- Anarchist theorist

Mic Crenshaw- MC and poet

Dr. Jacques Depelchin-Africanist historian and Co-founder of Ota Benga

Leonard Peltier Defense Committee

Timothy Moss-musician

Day One: Wednesday, April 21st

11am-2pm Washington State University Vancouver: Firstenburg Student Commons

14204 NE Salmon Creek Avenue, Vancouver Washington 98686

4-7pm Mount Hood Community College: Jazz Cafe

26000 Southeast Stark Street Gresham, OR 97030

Day Two: Thursday, April 22nd

11am-2pm Washington State University Vancouver: ADM 110

14204 NE Salmon Creek Avenue, Vancouver Washington 98686

2-5pm Portland State University: Smith Room 327

1825 SW Broadway Portland, OR 97201

3-6pm Mount Hood Community College: Student Center

26000 Southeast Stark Street Gresham, OR 97030

Day Three: Friday, April 23rd

4-7pm Portland State University: Smith Room 294
1825 SW Broadway Portland, OR 97201

The Jericho Movement for Political Prisoner Amnesty; ASWSUV; Education Without Borders; Students for Unity (PSU); Pan American Solidarity Organization (PSU); Student Animal Liberation Coalition (PSU); International Socialist Organization (PSU); Black Studies Department (PSU); Northwest Student Coalition; Portland Central America Solidarity Committee; Cascadia Convergence Network; Cascadia Rising Tide; Portland Animal Defense League; Students for Environmental Justice (MHCC); Black Student Union (MHCC); Black Student Union (WSUV); Social and Environmental Justice (WSUV); E’Njonis Café; Chako Kum Tux Club (MHCC); Rose City Copwatch; Fire Frashour Campaign; Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee /

Document Shows Federal Agents Dipping Quietly Into Social Media

Facebook Feds Go Undercover
Document Shows Federal Agents Dipping Quietly Into Social Media

(AP) WASHINGTON (AP) - The Feds are on Facebook. And MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter, too.

U.S. law enforcement agents are following the rest of the Internet world into popular social-networking services, going undercover with false online profiles to communicate with suspects and gather private information, according to an internal Justice Department document that offers a tantalizing glimpse of issues related to privacy and crime-fighting.

Think you know who's behind that "friend" request? Think again. Your new "friend" just might be the FBI.

The document, obtained in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, makes clear that U.S. agents are already logging on surreptitiously to exchange messages with suspects, identify a target's friends or relatives and browse private information such as postings, personal photographs and video clips.

Among other purposes: Investigators can check suspects' alibis by comparing stories told to police with tweets sent at the same time about their whereabouts. Online photos from a suspicious spending spree - people posing with jewelry, guns or fancy cars - can link suspects or their friends to robberies or burglaries.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based civil liberties group, obtained the Justice Department document when it sued the agency and five others in federal court. The 33-page document underscores the importance of social networking sites to U.S. authorities. The foundation said it would publish the document on its Web site on Tuesday.

With agents going undercover, state and local police coordinate their online activities with the Secret Service, FBI and other federal agencies in a strategy known as "deconfliction" to keep out of each other's way.

"You could really mess up someone's investigation because you're investigating the same person and maybe doing things that are counterproductive to what another agency is doing," said Detective Frank Dannahey of the Rocky Hill, Conn., Police Department, a veteran of dozens of undercover cases.

A decade ago, agents kept watch over AOL and MSN chat rooms to nab sexual predators. But those text-only chat services are old-school compared with today's social media, which contain mountains of personal data, photographs, videos and audio clips - a potential treasure trove of evidence for cases of violent crime, financial fraud and much more.

The Justice Department document, part of a presentation given in August by top cybercrime officials, describes the value of Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn and other services to government investigators. It does not describe in detail the boundaries for using them.

"It doesn't really discuss any mechanisms for accountability or ensuring that government agents use those tools responsibly," said Marcia Hoffman, a senior attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The group sued in Washington to force the government to disclose its policies for using social networking sites in investigations, data collection and surveillance.

The foundation also obtained an Internal Revenue Service document that instructs employees on how to use to use Internet tools - including social networking sites - to investigate taxpayers. The document states that IRS employees are barred from using deception or creating fake accounts to get information, a directive the group says is commendable.

Covert investigations on social-networking services are legal and governed by internal rules, according to Justice Department officials. But they would not say what those rules are.

The Justice Department document raises a legal question about a social-media bullying case in which U.S. prosecutors charged a Missouri woman with computer fraud for creating a fake MySpace account - effectively the same activity that undercover agents are doing, although for different purposes.

The woman, Lori Drew, helped create an account for a fictitious teen boy on MySpace and sent flirtatious messages to a 13-year-old neighborhood girl in his name. The girl hanged herself in October 2006, in a St. Louis suburb, after she received a message saying the world would be better without her.

A jury in California, where MySpace has its servers, convicted Drew of three misdemeanor counts of accessing computers without authorization because she was accused of violating MySpace's rules against creating fake accounts. But last year a judge overturned the verdicts, citing the vagueness of the law.

"If agents violate terms of service, is that 'otherwise illegal activity'?" the document asks. It doesn't provide an answer.

Facebook's rules, for example, specify that users "will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission." Twitter's rules prohibit its users from sending deceptive or false information. MySpace requires that information for accounts be "truthful and accurate."

A former U.S. cybersecurity prosecutor, Marc Zwillinger, said investigators should be able to go undercover in the online world the same way they do in the real world, even if such conduct is barred by a company's rules. But there have to be limits, he said.

In the face-to-face world, agents can't impersonate a suspect's spouse, child, parent or best friend. But online, behind the guise of a social-networking account, they can.

"This new situation presents a need for careful oversight so that law enforcement does not use social networking to intrude on some of our most personal relationships," said Zwillinger, whose firm does legal work for Yahoo and MySpace.

Undercover operations aren't necessary if the suspect is reckless. Federal authorities nabbed a man wanted on bank fraud charges after he started posting Facebook updates about the fun he was having in Mexico.

Maxi Sopo, a native of Cameroon living in the Seattle area, apparently slipped across the border into Mexico in a rented car last year after learning that federal agents were investigating the alleged scheme. The agents initially could find no trace of him on social media sites, and they were unable to pin down his exact location in Mexico. But they kept checking and eventually found Sopo on Facebook.

While Sopo's online profile was private, his list of friends was not. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Scoville began going through the list and was able to learn where Sopo was living. Mexican authorities arrested Sopo in September. He is awaiting extradition to the U.S.

The Justice document describes how Facebook, MySpace and Twitter have interacted with federal investigators: Facebook is "often cooperative with emergency requests," the government said. MySpace preserves information about its users indefinitely and even stores data from deleted accounts for one year. But Twitter's lawyers tell prosecutors they need a warrant or subpoena before the company turns over customer information, the document says.

"Will not preserve data without legal process," the document says under the heading, "Getting Info From Twitter ... the bad news."

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

The chief security officer for MySpace, Hemanshu Nigam, said MySpace doesn't want to be the company that stands in the way of an investigation. "That said, we also want to make sure that our users' privacy is protected and any data that's disclosed is done under proper legal process," Nigam said.

MySpace requires a search warrant for private messages less than six months old, according to the company.

Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said the company has put together a handbook to help law enforcement officials understand "the proper ways to request information from Facebook to aid investigations."

The Justice document includes sections about its own lawyers. For government attorneys taking cases to trial, social networks are a "valuable source of info on defense witnesses," they said. "Knowledge is power. ... Research all witnesses on social networking sites."

But the government warned prosecutors to advise their own witnesses not to discuss cases on social media sites and to "think carefully about what they post."

It also cautioned federal law enforcement officials to think prudently before adding judges or defense counsel as "friends" on these services.

"Social networking and the courtroom can be a dangerous combination," the government said.