....LMB: "Police State Fun"....

August 03, 2002

If you're not already, get familiar with the term "material witness." A material witness is a person who allgedly has important information about a crime, but might flee before investigators can obtain this information. According to US law, the police have the right to detain material witnesses without many rules or limitations.

For example, the Department of Justice rounded up and detained around 1200 immigrants after the 9/11 attacks. Instead of being held as criminals, or brought in for brief periods to be questioned, they were held as material witnesses. Which meant that many of these people were simply picked up off the street and thrown in a prison cell with no explanation, no access to legal counsel, and no contact with their families. Eventually some access was granted. Many of the detainees were deported. According to the DoJ, 147 still remain, 74 of whom are being held for violations of immigration law.

The level of secrecy surrounding the detentions was also disturbing, but that may be coming to an end. Nearly a year after these detentions began, a judge is ordering the DoJ to at least release a list of names of the people they detained.

Yes, yes, I understand that the US is in a scary situation and terrorists must be found to protect our safety. But people being captured by law enforcement and held in secret prisons is pretty scary too.

Along similar lines we have the case of James Ujaama, a Denver resident who was detained by police just last week. There isn't too much information on his case because the authorities won't release it. His home was searched by police, and the warrant claimed that Ujaama was conspiring to support international terrorism. But he has not been charged with any crimes, he is being held as a material witness. He has been shipped off to Virginia as for a federal grand jury investigation of Abu Hamza al-Masri, a suspected Al Qaeda recruiter in London.

Then, there were some sensationalist news reports that Ujaama was being investigated for a plot to poison a water supply, but the FBI has reported that he is not suspected of any such thing (thanks Fox News!).

And to help fuel this controversy a bit further, Ujaama was the webmaster for StopAmerica.org, a website dedicated to harsh criticism of American foreign policy. Surely some people will see this as proof of Ujaama's guilt, and others will see it as proof that Ujaama is the victim of political repression.

And finally, we move to the UK. This article from the UK Observer shows a clever media ploy by MI5 (sort of the equivalent of the FBI) to circumvent its own laws.

1) Reporters ask the British government about its detention of Arabs without charges or trial
2) MI5 agents "talk to journalists on condition of anonymity."
3) Reporters write stories using the anonymous interviews
4) "MI5 then uses the reports of its own briefings as independent corroboration of the need for internment."

Handy, innit?

Thanks to Michael Novick, Statewatch and "Anonymous" for these leads.

Posted by Jake at 09:59 AM
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Lying Media Bastards is both a radio show and website. The show airs Mondays 2-4pm PST on KillRadio.org, and couples excellent music with angry news commentary. And the website, well, you're looking at it.

Both projects focus on our media-marinated world, political lies, corporate tyranny, and the folks fighting the good fight against these monsters.

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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

Posted by Jake at 04:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
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Mission: Mongolia

Jake's first attempt at homemade Mongolican barbecue:


What went right: correctly guessing several key seasonings- lemon, ginger, soy, garlic, chili.

What went wrong: still missing some ingredients, and possibly had one wrong, rice vinegar. Way too much lemon and chili.

Result: not entirely edible.

Plan for future: try to get people at Great Khan's restaurant to tell me what's in the damn sauce.

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