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November 04, 2011

Obama's Justice Dept. proposes new rule allowing them to lie about FOIA requests

This would effectively kill any use of an FOIA request for anything remotely controversial. FOIA | Department of Justice | Transparency | The Daily Caller
A proposed revision to Freedom of Information Act rules would allow federal agencies to lie to citizens and reporters seeking certain records, telling them the records don’t exist. The Justice Department has proposed the change as part of a large revision of FOIA rules for federal agencies. Specifically, the rule would direct government agencies who are denying a request under an established FOIA exemption to “respond to the request as if the excluded records did not exist,” rather than citing the relevant exemption. The proposed rule has alarmed government transparency advocates across the political spectrum, who’ve called it “Orwellian” and say it will “twist” public access to government. The draft FOIA revisions were first published in March, but the Justice Department re-opened comment submissions in September after several open-government groups raised objections. A Justice Department spokesperson said the agency is committed to public input and transparency, which is why it re-opened public comments on the rule — an unusual step in the process. . . .

October 31, 2011

Supreme Court to decide if private prison employees are above the law

A lower court decided that inmates in private-run prisons have no rights at all, even the 8th amendment right to protection against cruel & unusual punishment. Supreme Court To Decide Whether Corporate Prison Employees Are Immune To The Constitution | ThinkProgress
Richard Lee Pollard was a federal inmate when he slipped, fell and broke both his elbows. Prison officials then allegedly forced him into a jumpsuit and wrist restraints, despite the fact that these restraints caused him excruciating pain, and they also allegedly refused to allow him to wear a split his doctors ordered him to wear. For weeks, due to the prison’s alleged neglect, Pollard was unable to feed or bathe himself. This treatment violates the Constitution. As the Supreme Court held 35 years ago, the Eighth Amendment’s guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment requires prisons to provide adequate medical care to inmates. Yet, if the Supreme Court agrees with a lower court decision immunizing many prisons from the Constitution, Pollard may find himself in a Constitution-free zone simply because his prison happens to be run by a private corporation: A Supreme Court case could determine whether thousands of inmates in privately run prisons have the same rights to sue in federal court as prisoners in facilities run by the U.S. government. The case, Minneci v. Pollard, involves a federal inmate who wants to sue his jailers for damages over alleged violations of the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The prisoner claims he was painfully mistreated after an accident at a for-profit prison, operating under contract for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. Lower federal courts have split on whether federal private-prison inmates can bring such damage claims for alleged constitutional violations. Shockingly, the Supreme Court already held, in its 5-4 decision in Correctional Services Corp. v. Malesko, that private prison corporations who run federal prisons are immune from constitutional lawsuits. The only issue in Pollard’s case is whether the corporation’s employees also enjoy the same immunity. . . .

October 27, 2011

The government asked Google to remove videos of police brutality, Google sometimes said no

I love how Google says they did not comply with the request while at the same time their report says they complied 63% of the time. United States – Google Transparency Report
We received a request from a local law enforcement agency to remove YouTube videos of police brutality, which we did not remove. Separately, we received requests from a different local law enforcement agency for removal of videos allegedly defaming law enforcement officials. We did not comply with those requests, which we have categorized in this Report as defamation requests.