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March 12, 2012

What are the Motorman files?

There are these files that everyone investigating the phone hacking scandal knows about but which no one openly discusses. They list the names of journalists and editors who illegally obtained private info on citizens. Leveson: Time to lift the lid on Motorman | Hacking inquiry - Hacked off
There is an open secret at the Leveson inquiry. The judge knows it; the lawyers all know it; the witnesses from the press – including the editors – all know it. In fact only one significant party is kept in the dark: the public in whose name the inquiry acts. And it’s not a small secret but a huge one, an entire database relating to illegal activity carried out at the behest of journalists working for national newspapers over a number of years. Occasionally it is mentioned in public evidence at the inquiry, almost always in vague and general terms. Yet there is nothing vague about it; it brims with detail. It names journalists who commissioned thousands of actions which they must or should have known were, on the face of it, illegal. It records dates and payments for these transactions. It identifies the members of the public who were targets of this activity – thousands of them, although only a handful have been told it happened. This secret has been secret too long, and the prevailing situation at the inquiry, of nudge-nudge-wink-wink exclusive knowledge, cannot be justified legally or morally. The only beneficiaries are journalists who have done wrong and their employers, and a public inquiry into press conduct has no business covering up wrongdoing by journalists. It is time the Motorman files were made public. They should be redacted to protect the privacy of the victims but otherwise they should be published in their entirety and in a way that clearly shows which journalists commissioned what activities for which newspapers at what prices. Then let journalists and newspapers justify their actions if they can.

March 08, 2012

The NYPD Tapes confirmed: Massive corruption in the NYPD and they eat their own

This was featured on This American Life in a special about whistleblowers. It's the worst kind of corruption: The cops were encouraged to underreport serious crimes, to turn rapes into assaults and so on, while they encouraged to bust as many people as possible for the tiniest of offenses. Many innocent people were hounded and jailed and when a cop tried to reveal what was going on the system turned on him and they had him committed and forcibly drugged. This is today's long read. The NYPD Tapes Confirmed - Page 1 - News - New York - Village Voice
For more than two years, Adrian Schoolcraft secretly recorded every roll call at the 81st Precinct in Brooklyn and captured his superiors urging police officers to do two things in order to manipulate the "stats" that the department is under pressure to produce: Officers were told to arrest people who were doing little more than standing on the street, but they were also encouraged to disregard actual victims of serious crimes who wanted to file reports. Arresting bystanders made it look like the department was efficient, while artificially reducing the amount of serious crime made the commander look good. In October 2009, Schoolcraft met with NYPD investigators for three hours and detailed more than a dozen cases of crime reports being manipulated in the district. Three weeks after that meeting—which was supposed to have been kept secret from Schoolcraft's superiors—his precinct commander and a deputy chief ordered Schoolcraft to be dragged from his apartment and forced into the Jamaica Hospital psychiatric ward for six days. In the wake of our series, NYPD commissioner Raymond Kelly ordered an investigation into Schoolcraft's claims. By June 2010, that investigation produced a report that the department has tried to keep secret for nearly two years. . . .

March 05, 2012

Police State San Francisco

EFF to San Francisco Entertainment Commission: Don’t Turn SF into a Police State | Electronic Frontier Foundation
The city of San Francisco has a long history of political activism and cultural diversity, which could be in danger if the San Francisco Entertainment Commission has their way. The Electronic Frontier Foundation joined civil liberties and privacy groups in criticizing a proposal from the San Francisco Entertainment Commission that would require all venues with an occupancy of over 100 people to record the faces of all patrons and employees and scan their ID’s for storage in a database which they must hand over to law enforcement on request. If adopted, these rules would pose a grave threat to the rights of freedom of association, due process, and privacy in San Francisco.