10/26/2005 Newsletter

Contents:

  • Know Your Rights Training
  • Community Forum on "False Reporting" Law
  • Court Watch: Demand Justice for Collins Family
  • Justice for David Croud
  • Bush Seizes on Flu Threat to Press for Martial Law Power
  • Terrorists in Diapers? Babies on the No-Fly List
  • The Lighter Side of FBI Surveillance
  • And the Heavier Side: Panthers Still Treated as Nation's 'Greatest Threat to Internal Security
  • Colleges Protest Call to Upgrade Online Systems

UPCOMING EVENTS YOU'LL WANT TO ATTEND
Make your plans now to attend these two upcoming events.

COMMUNITY KNOW YOUR RIGHTS TRAINING
Friday, October 28 at 6:30 p.m.
Walker Church
3104 16th Ave S, Minneapolis
Knowing your rights and knowing how to safely exercise them during encounters with police is one of the most important ways you can avoid police brutality.  After viewing a short film and participating in a discussion with a legal expert, you'll know what to do (and not do) during a police encounter and you'll learn how to preserve your rights if the encounter turns negative.  Free and open to the public.

Community Forum on "False Reporting" Law
Thursday, November 3rd, 7:00 p.m.
Walker Church
3104 16th Ave S, Minneapolis
A new law was passed in the last legislative session that makes it a crime to make a "false" report of police brutality.  This law extends even to people who report on it in newsletters like this one or to attorneys who represent their clients to Internal Affairs.  The question is: who decides a complaint is false? Is it the same department the person is complaining about? 

Complaining about police misconduct is a First Amendment right.  Come to a meeting to learn about this new law and get involved in getting it overturned.  Police brutality is a crime--reporting it shouldn't be!  Be sure to sign our petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/cuapb02/petition.html

For more info on either of these activities, call our hotline at 612-874-7867.


COURT WATCH OPPORTUNITY:
SUPPORT THE COLLINS FAMILY'S QUEST FOR JUSTICE
We just received the announcement below last night but wanted to put it out right away.  Hopefully people can still make it to court for part of this week.

Case: Walter Collins vs. Jamie Conway, #04-14715
October 24-29, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Hennepin County Government Center
300 S 6th Street, Courtroom 910
Judge Richard Scherer
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From: domeland2004@bojah.com
PLEASE CIRCULATE WIDELY
THE COLLINS FAMILY NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT
HELP PACK THE COURTROOM THIS WEEK!!! OCTOBER 24-29 at the HENNEPIN COUNTY
COURTHOUSE. 300 South Sixth St. The trial has started and will continue every day this week. The court goes from 8-5pm. Ask for court room number at the front desk. Come for as much as you can and bring your people!!! Call 612-588-6719 for more info.

THE CASE OF WALTER COLLINS - Murdered by Mpls police

All too often we hear of suspected armed Black men being killed by police. What happens when there is no evidence to prove justification of shooting and killing an unarmed man?

On October 10, 2003, Mr. Conway, a City of Minneapolis police officer, shot and killed Ms. Collinsunarmed, 21 year-old son, Walter Collins. An eyewitness, Chandan Prentiss Hurd, who was with Walter at the scene has testified by affidavit that Mr. Collins was unarmed at the time of the shooting.

What happens when evidence does not support police claims? What happens when there are not fingerprints on the alleged weapon the officer suspected Walter of carrying? Or when the weapon is was not found near the body? Could this possibly be planted evidence? Would you question an officer who would continue to beat a person after having shot them? What about moving the body to a different location? Police claim that the incident was touched off by them trying to stop a possible criminal transaction taking place between Collins and Hurd. No one was arrested and nothing illegal was found on the scene. Furthermore, Hurd, contends that both he and Collins showed the police that they were unarmed.

This is the case that has been examined and dismissed by a Grand jury last year. Hurd, the key witness to the shooting, was conspicuously absent during the closed hearings. Hurd now claims he was threatened by the police from testifying and feared for his life. The case smells of a possible cover-up of a police murder of an unarmed man. It raises serious questions for us all. This is the case that Parents of Walter Collins continue to battle. Usually cases like these never come to trial. After investigations lead to no indictments, a civil case sometimes follows. Usually these civil cases are settled out of court with a financial settlement. No one admits to any wrongdoing, no one is held accountable, no one goes to jail.

Unfortunately, police misconduct often goes unpunished. Sometimes when evidence is hard to hide, like recently in the highly publicized case, which was caught on tape, in New Orleans where three police officer assaulted a 64-year old retired school teacher, criminal charges are brought against the police. Too many questions, so little answers. What is the possibility of a officer chasing down a suspected warranted black male, shooting him, beating him, moving his body, removing his clothing, and planting a gun near the scene, spending an extraordinary amount of time at the scene with other officers, then coming up with a story that goes a little something like this He appeared to be armed.

Police claim that Walter had on a glove explaining why his fingerprints werent on the gun allegedly found on the scene. Curiously this alleged glove, along with the rest of the evidence like Walters shoes and clothes and the surveillance tape, that most places like hospitals and medical buildings in that area are equipped with is also mysteriously missing.

Besides the intimidation of the key witness during the determination of criminal liability, the Collins family says they  have also faced police harassment and intimidation including their house being searched and legal files of the case being tampered with as well as the father, Walter Bell, being taken down to the police station and physically assaulted. In the face of this harassment, intimidation and their grieving process, the Collins family did not take a financial settlement. They wanted the case to go to trial so the truth could come out. No amount of money can bring their son back. Their goal is to see that the police officer that took their sons life is put behind bars.

A positive outcome from the civil trial will certainly raise deep questions. It is still possible for the police to be charged with violating Walter Collins civil rights and face possible jail time if convicted. This happened during the Rodney King trial in Los Angeles in 1992 where after four officers were found not guilty of police brutality during a criminal trial, where later retried for violating Kings civil rights under a federal law, no doubt under the pressure of the social explosion and outrage the followed the not guilty verdict. Two of the officers eventually went to jail.

Certainly there are high stakes here for the people of the Twin Cities. Is police brutality murder and cover up an insolated incident? If it is true in the Collins case where else is this occurring? Dozens if not hundreds of cases should be reexamined. Other cases that never went to trial or where officers were never indicted should be looked at from this federal rights level and guilty officers should be punished.

Since 1995, over $9.5 million dollars has been paid out in police brutality settlements in the city of Minneapolis.  The Minneapolis police department came under such fire for its misconduct that a Federal mediator was brought in, as well as a new police chief. Collins was killed during a number of high profile cases of police brutality including the police sodomy of Stephen Porter in North Minneapolis and Philander Jenkins in the Hennepin county prison. The next year under Chief McManus, 14-year old Courtney Williams was killed allegedly brandishing a toy gun at an armed police man who was chasing him. All of his friends he was with that night vehemently deny he had this toy gun. In all these cases no police where indicted or went to jail. Could witnesses have been coerced or intimidated, or evidence tampered with in these cases as well? The outcome of the Collins cases should raise questions here too.

Through lack of faith in the possibility of justice to lack of good counsel many families in Minneapolis have went along with a financial settlement as redress for their often life-changing ordeals brought to them by the Minneapolis police.

The Collins family is committed to fight, along with support from family, friends, legal defense and concerned citizens who believe that criminal behavior from cops should be dealt with in serious manner, such as jail time for crime, even if you are a cop. They see this as a fight not only for their son but for anyone else whose rights were violated by the police. In the coming days a trial will unfold, that will determine what the judicial system stands for when it comes to a familys fight for justice. It will use the past couple of years to show clear evidence, versus missing evidence, eyewitness versus scrambled testimonies, and questionable police statements to trie to bring to light what occurred during the entire mysterious evening. Sara Collins wants justice for her son, which is why she will not stop fighting, until officer Conway is put in a cage.


PETITION FOR JUSTICE FOR DAVID CROUD
Please take a few minutes to read the information in the petition and then go to the website and sign it.  This petition was started by NDN News, a Native American newspaper http://www.ndnnews.com/
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Stop the continual abuse, racism and violence against Native Americans from police departments and other authorities.

http://www.petitiononline.com/Croud/petition.html

To:  Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) & Duluth Police Department

Stop the continual abuse, racism and violence against Native Americans from police departments and other authorities.

On October 12, 2005 David Croud a 29 year old Native American from the White Earth Reservation was beaten by officers from the Duluth Police Department in downtown Duluth, MN. According to reports, Croud was apparently intoxicated and had been harassing patrons at a local casino. Police were called to take Croud to the detox center.

Eye witness accounts state "Croud was passive, it was the police officers that were the aggressive ones" The officers in question slammed Croud into a stone wall a couple of times, then flung him to the pavement. His face was bloody and there was a pool of blood on the pavement. He was then shoved into the police car.

Croud was taken to the St. Mary's Medical Center emergency room, not the detox center. He was in critical condition upon arrival, placed on life support in intensive care and never regained consciousness after going into a coma.

Croud passed away on October 18, 2005.

The question is just because someone is intoxicated, does that mean they deserve to be beaten and die because of it? What right did these eight officers have to take his life?

The eight officers involved in this incident have been placed on administrative leave and the case is "under investigation."

The continual racism and violence against Native Americans within the police departments all over the country, must come to a end. These officers should be immediately and permanently removed from duty and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. These eight officers should not be receiving special treatment in this case. The eye witnesses have stated the events that took place, the facts are all against the officers in question. Any other individual that committed this crime would already be charged and imprisoned awaiting trail. Instead almost two weeks later, the case is still "under investigation."

Please support this petition and let the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) & Duluth Police Department know that this behavior and lack of immediate action will no longer be tolerated.

The people DEMAND action in this case and these eight officers be prosecuted in a criminal court for their crime. Justice must be served.


BUSH & PALS CONTINUE TO ADVANCE POLICE STATE MEASURES
From time to time, we like to remind our readers of the big picture political context in which our local police brutality issue is operating.  The articles that follow show what we are up against and how police brutality, misconduct and abuse of authority are parts of a broader agenda.

Bush's Latest Bird-Brained Idea
Bush seizes on flu threat to press for martial law power
By Bill Van Auken
7 October 2005

President Bush Tuesday seized on the threat of a global bird flu pandemic to press yet again for the legislative changes to grant him power to deploy US combat troops in police operations on American soil.

Bush suggested that large numbers of troops could be needed to "effect a quarantine," essentially sealing off whole cities or regions of the country in the event of an outbreak.

"The policy questions for a president in dealing with an avian flu outbreak are difficult," Bush said in a rambling answer to a question posed at a White House press conference Tuesday. "One example: If we had an outbreak somewhere in the United States, do we not then quarantine that part of the country? And how do you, then, enforce a quarantine?... And who best to be able to effect a quarantine?"

Answering his own question, Bush declared, "One option is the use of a military that's able to plan and move. So that's why I put it on the table. I think it's an important debate for Congress to have."

The president's talk of deploying troops to enforce quarantines has no precedent as a public health measure in the US. Historically, quarantines have been applied against individuals and families diagnosed with an infectious disease, or used in extreme circumstances to prevent the congregation of large groups of people in areas where a disease is spreading.

But sealing off whole regions of the country by military force and preventing anyone from entering or leaving them has more in common with civil war measures than preventive health care.

It is not clear why the military would be needed for such an operation, unless it would be to set up roadblocks and shoot down anyone attempting to escape a region placed under quarantine.

Public health professionals blasted the proposal, warning that the president's remarks were indicative of the administration's failure to prepare for the looming flu threat.

Referring to the danger of a flu pandemic, Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, warned that the US government is phenomenally not prepared for this.

Describing Bush's proposal as "extraordinarily draconian," Dr. Redlener added, "The translation of this is martial law in the United States."

Bush's call for using troops to fight the flu follows his insistence in the wake of Hurricane Katrina that the Pentagon take charge of all major disaster response and relief. The response to the devastation in New Orleans was itself delayed until the US military was able to mass large number of combat-equipped troopsa delay that caused immense suffering and not a few deaths for those trapped in the city.

In the aftermath of the hurricane disaster, Bush and other administration officials have repeatedly urged Congress to repeal or amend the Posse Comitatus Act, an 1878 statute that bars the use the military in domestic policing, except in the case of suppressing an insurrection.

The Bush administration is attempting to take advantage of growing concern over a potential pandemic to advance a political agenda that has nothing to do with the threat to public health.

In a closed-door briefing to Congress last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt said that in the US an avian flu outbreak could kill as many as 2 million, while requiring as many as 10 million hospitalizations.

Over the last eight years, avian influenza has been reported in 11 countries, most of them in Asia. The flu has been spread by migratory birds, with recent reported cases in Siberia.

While killing hundreds of millions of birds, the current H5N1 strain of avian flu has spread to only approximately 100 humans, some 60 of whom died. Until now, most human victims have been infected directly from birds, with little evidence of transmission from humans to humans, the prerequisite for a pandemic.

Nonetheless, scientists have warned for years that the deadly virus could mutate into a form easily transmitted between humans, putting millions of lives at risk, and many are now expressing near certainty that this will happen. Science magazine reported recently that according to expert opinion the odds of a global outbreak are "100 percent."

In one grim indication of the seriousness with which world governments are taking the threat, the British press revealed recently that officials in the Blair government are making contingency plans for the erection of mass mortuaries that could deal with the bodies of as many as 700,000 people.

In France, meanwhile, the government has bought some 200 million protective facemasks and sufficient quantities of drugs to cover the entire population.

Washington, however, has done relatively little in the way of preparation. US health agencies reportedly have just 2 million doses of Tamiflu, an antiviral drug that has proven effective in combating the H5N1 virus. This is barely enough for 1 percent of the American population. While the US Senate has passed legislation to purchase large quantities of the medicine, the supply is limited. It is produced solely by the global pharmaceutical giant Roche Holding AG of Switzerland, and Washington's orders have come in after those of a number of countries in Europe and elsewhere.

Ironically, the belated US attempt to secure a greater share of the drug could contribute to the spread of any future pandemic. Health experts have stressed that the best chance for combating it would be to massively treat those in the immediate area of the first human outbreak. WHO stockpiles are very low, however, and the monopolization of drugs by wealthier countries is likely to make that impossible.

While other US funds are being allocated for the production of vaccines, public health experts warn that the development of a vaccine effective in countering the current virus could take years.

The government has delayed for years issuing a comprehensive pandemic influenza plan, leaving open such questions as what role federal agencies would take in purchasing and distributing drug supplies to combat the virus. The delay has left state and local health departments unable to develop their own emergency plans.

The US public health-care system, already stretched to the limit after decades of budget cuts and privatization, is ill-equipped to confront a mass flu outbreak. The much-touted concern with the threat of biological or chemical weapons attacks by terrorists, meanwhile, has been accompanied by sharp cuts to agencies dealing with the spread of disease, such as the Center for Disease Control's emerging infectious disease program.

Crucial to any response to such a pandemic is what is known as "surge capacity," the health-care system's ability to receive a sudden influx of mass casualties. For-profit health care in the US, however, has ruthlessly cut back on excess capacity, slashing the number of available hospital beds by about a third over the past 25 years.

Successive governments have accelerated these cutbacks, viewing public health as synonymous with "big government" and a convenient area to slash spending in order to pay for tax cuts and militarism.

Some public health experts have warned that the government is seriously underestimating the economic and social impact of a pandemic, which could include wholesale closures of factories and the disruption of transportation, food supplies and other essential functions.

"Avian flu could be the Katrina of medicine," warned John Bartlett, chief of the infectious-diseases division of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

As in the Katrina disaster, the Bush administration's response to the flu threat combines criminal incompetence and negligence with conspiracies against the American people.

The administration is seizing upon every social crisis, both real and potential, to press for the unrestricted power to impose martial law in the United States. Significantly, neither the ostensible political opposition in the Democratic Party nor the mass media has subjected these proposals--including the absurd call for using troops against the flu--to probing criticism.

Within America's ruling establishment, there is a growing sense that economic and social crises, combined with the unprecedented class polarization between the financial elite and the masses of working people, are creating conditions for social upheavals. The political response is an ever-greater turn toward the methods of police-state dictatorship.

Copyright 1998-2005, World Socialist Web Site, All rights reserved
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Terrorists in Diapers???
Babies Caught Up in 'No-Fly' Confusion
By LESLIE MILLER, Associated Press Writer
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050816/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/no_fly_babies;_ylt=ArqkRsuclsg093RmvdPTkhFH2ocA;_ylu=X3oDMTA3MjBwMWtkBHNlYwM3MTg-

Infants have been stopped from boarding planes at airports throughout the U.S. because their names are the same as or similar to those of possible terrorists on the government's "no-fly list."

It sounds like a joke, but it's not funny to parents who miss flights while scrambling to have babies' passports and other documents faxed.

Ingrid Sanden's 1-year-old daughter was stopped in Phoenix before boarding a flight home to Washington at Thanksgiving.

"I completely understand the war on terrorism, and I completely understand people wanting to be safe when they fly," Sanden said. "But focusing the target a little bit is probably a better use of resources."

The government's lists of people who are either barred from flying or require extra scrutiny before being allowed to board airplanes grew markedly since the Sept. 11 attacks. Critics including the American Civil Liberties Union say the government doesn't provide enough information about the people on the lists, so innocent passengers can be caught up in the security sweep if they happen to have the same name as someone on the lists.

That can happen even if the person happens to be an infant like Sanden's daughter. (Children under 2 don't need tickets but Sanden purchased one for her daughter to ensure she had a seat.)

"It was bizarre," Sanden said. "I was hugely pregnant, and I was like, 'We look really threatening.'"

Sarah Zapolsky and her husband had a similar experience last month while departing from Dulles International Airport outside Washington. An airline ticket agent told them their 11-month-old son was on the government list.

They were able to board their flight after ticket agents took a half-hour to fax her son's passport and fill out paperwork.

"I understand that security is important," Zapolsky said. "But if they're just guessing, and we have to give up our passport to prove that our 11-month-old is not a terrorist, it's a waste of their time."

Sanden and Zapolsky would not allow their children's names to be used in this story because they fear people who prey on children.

Well-known people like Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (news, bio, voting record), Rep. John Lewis (news, bio, voting record), D-Ga., and David Nelson, who starred in the sitcom "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet," also have been stopped at airports because their names match those on the lists.

The government has sought to improve its process for checking passengers since the Sept. 11 attacks. The first attempt was scuttled because of fears the government would have access to too much personal information. A new version, called Secure Flight, is being crafted.

But for now, airlines still have the duty to check passengers' names against those supplied by the government. That job has become more difficult since the 2001 attacks the lists have swelled from a dozen or so names to more than 100,000 names, according to people in the aviation industry who are familiar with the issue. They asked not to be identified by name because the exact number is restricted information.

Not all those names are accompanied by biographical information that can more closely identify the suspected terrorists. That can create problems for people who reserve flights under such names as "T Kennedy" or "David Nelson."

ACLU lawyer Tim Sparapani said the problem of babies stopped by the no-fly list illustrates some of the reasons the lists don't work.

"There's no oversight over the names," Sparapani said. "We know names are added hastily, and when you have a name-based system you don't focus on solid intelligence leads. You focus on names that are similar to those that might be suspicious."

The Transportation Security Administration, which administers the lists, instructs airlines not to deny boarding to children under 12 or select them for extra security checks even if their names match those on a list.

But it happens anyway. Debby McElroy, president of the Regional Airline Association, said: "Our information indicates it happens at every major airport."

The TSA has a "passenger ombudsman" who will investigate individual claims from passengers who say they are mistakenly on the lists. TSA spokeswoman Yolanda Clark said 89 children have submitted their names to the ombudsman. Of those, 14 are under the age of 2.

If the ombudsman determines an individual should not be stopped, additional information on that person is included on the list so he or she is not stopped the next time they fly.

Clark said even with the problems the lists are essential to keeping airline passengers safe.
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On the Net: Transportation Security Administration watch list clearance procedures: http://www.tsa.gov/public/display?theme157&content09000519800fb8af
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The Lighter Side of FBI Surveillance...
Gossip meets the G-men in vast FBI files
September 20, 2005 7:30 PM EDT

NEW YORK - The Beach Boys. Frank Sinatra. Liberace.

Sonically, the trio shared little - from the California group's soaring harmonies to Sinatra's saloon singing to Liberace's marshmallow soft vocals. But their offstage antics were music to the ears of the FBI, where all three became the subject of muckraking files in the agency's Washington headquarters.

The portfolios contain innuendo and allegations, with the occasional revelation thrown in. The Beach Boys' penchant for psychedelic drugs and Sinatra's alleged sex parties with President John F. Kennedy are old news.

But who knew of Liberace's reputed fondness for gambling? The file on Wladziu Valentino Liberace reports that the rhinestone-worshipping Las Vegas entertainer was betting with a bookie in blue-collar Buffalo for years.

Celebrities and criminals, rock stars and mob stars, athletes and artists - scores of high-profile Americans have their very own FBI file, a bold-faced universe rife with dirt and scandal. It's no surprise that gossip columnists such as Walter Winchell turn up as sources.

The files chronicle mass marketer Walt Disney and mass murderer Ted Bundy, comic genius Groucho Marx and cosmic genius Albert Einstein. There are reports of canoodling (although the FBI prefers "extramarital affairs"), heavy boozing, mob ties, drug use and the rest of the requisite dish.

The sheer volume became clear in response to a Freedom Of Information Act request by The Associated Press for every FBI "High Visibility Memorandum" filed between 1974 and 2005, allowing a lengthy traipse through the lives of celebrities from A (Louis Armstrong) to Kaye (Danny) to Z (Efrem Zimbalist). The AP's request produced more than 500 redacted memos totaling nearly 1,500 pages - a stack of documents six inches (15 centimeters) high.

Tucked inside the pile of paperwork were FBI memos on spouses/stars Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball; football stars Dexter Manley and Walter Payton; Mayors Marion Barry and Frank Rizzo; mobsters Carlo Gambino and Mickey Cohen.

The memos even contain information never made public. The February 2001 paperwork on film director Otto Preminger's file mentioned "all of the information on Preminger's desire to be a source for the FBI is being withheld."

Until now.

In the FBI's files, Andy Warhol's 15 minutes of fame never expire. Instead, as his memo noted, the 38 pages about the artist's film company and a 1968-69 investigation are there for eternity.

Jimmy Hoffa's daughter asked for the files regarding her long-missing dad - 69 volumes of documents and memorandums. James Earl Ray, the assassin who killed Martin Luther King Jr., filed more than 50 FOIA requests from 1977 to '95 on a variety of subjects - including one seeking records about the FBI's electronic surveillance of King's widow.

The FBI also kept a file on "The FBI" - the long-running television show starring Zimbalist as Inspector Lewis Erskine. The real FBI, according to memos, had casting control over its video incarnation: both Bette Davis and Robert Blake were banned from appearing.

Davis was bumped as an alleged communist sympathizer. Blake, recently acquitted of killing his wife, was brushed off after expressing his opinion that "killers aren't at fault, society is," according to a memo.

Sinatra's file generated national headlines upon its 1998 release, as much for its lack of headline-making material as for anything it contained. But tons of other material is out there, some of it barely noticed in the vast verbal ocean of Web sites, books, newspapers and other publications.

The presence of a file or a memo doesn't necessarily mean the subject was targeted for an investigation.

"Celebrity files can be tricky to understand," said FBI historian John Fox. "They can be collections of information gathered from other files. ... Louis Armstrong is a good example of that. It would be incorrect to say the FBI investigated him."

The FBI won't divulge its exact number of files, but estimates are that it could total more than 6 million. The agency has long maintained that its era of surveillance for political purposes is over, reflecting changes that followed FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover's death in 1972 - but there remain plenty of nuggets tucked away on FBI letterhead:

- Actor Victor Mature once contacted the FBI about a stalker, but was "probably intoxicated" when agents met with him about the problem. "I know Mature," wrote FBI Deputy Director Clyde Tolson. "He is a little nuts."

- Former Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes once recruited the son of an agent in the Cleveland office to play for the Buckeyes, prompting a letter to FBI headquarters. Hoover and Hayes were pals.

- Comedian Jackie Gleason launched a 1956 attempt to track down his alcoholic father, who had disappeared when "The Great One" was a child. The FBI aided by checking its fingerprint files.

The high visibility memorandums are generated for a number of reasons: the notoriety of the requester, whether it's a high-ranking government official (ex-President Gerald Ford) or a high-profile Hollywood type (Sinatra); if the request could reveal improper FBI activities; and if the request comes from a story-seeking journalist.

While it might seem the last group would make the most requests, journalists lagged far behind in their filings, according to FBI records. Both prisoners and private citizens outpaced the requests from the news media.

While the subjects are alive, the FBI only releases public source information: news clippings and other items already available. The full files, for both celebrities and common citizens, are not made public until after death due to privacy issues.

One of the files' more entertaining aspects is the failure to distinguish between legitimate and slanderous sources. Gossip column clips sit side by side with anonymous letters like the one ripping Gleason and Hoover for hanging around with Sinatra, who - as his file showed - had once volunteered to work as an FBI undercover in 1950.

The memos abound with unsubstantiated stories of adultery, addiction and various other excesses. Not all the stories are as riveting - as the file for former U.S. Sen. Edmund Muskie indicated.

The memo mentioned that he was turned down for a job with the FBI, and chronicled an assassination threat against the one-time presidential candidate. And it mentioned one other incident: a 1965 charge of "hunting migratory waterfowl over a baited field."

The incident wound up costing Muskie $27.50 in forfeited bond money, the memo said.
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On the Net: http://foia.fbi.gov/room.htm
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...The Heavier Side...
Panthers still treated as nation's 'greatest threat to internal security'
by Claude Marks

A San Francisco judge had two Black activists jailed Wednesday for refusing to cooperate with a state grand jury investigating a 30-year-old case. Ray Boudreaux and Richard Brown now join Hank Jones and Harold Taylor in San Francisco county jails.

Their attorneys argued that the grand jury procedures were abusive because the original indictments for a police shooting in 1971 resulted in the dismissal of charges when the U.S. government failed to disclose that their "evidence" was obtained by torturing at least three Black activists in New Orleans.

This tainted evidence and involuntary testimony were introduced to a grand jury at that time by the same government agents that are working with the current grand jury.

Judge Robert Dondero refused to allow the defense questioning of Ed Erdelatz, one of the cops on hand in New Orleans, who was present in court today, and who has been roaming the country in an apparent attempt to interview numerous individuals alleged to be involved with or to have knowledge of the 1970s incidents.

All other motions by defense attorneys Michael Burt and Richard Mazer were denied. An appeal to the state supreme court challenging procedural and other legal claims by the defense team are expected to be filed Thursday, Oct. 6.

Background on the grand jury targeting Black activists in San Francisco

Shortly after the founding of the Black Panther Party, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover described it in September 1968 as "the greatest threat to the internal security of the country."

By July 1969, the party had become the primary focus of COINTELPRO, the FBI's Counter-Intelligence Program, and was the target of 233 of the 295 authorized "Black Nationalist" COINTELPRO actions. The FBI placed illegal wiretaps on party headquarters in Oakland, San Francisco and nationally, infiltrated the organization with numerous agents, used every possible means to provoke violence within the organization and engaged in a number of schemes to arrest, detain, falsely accuse, incarcerate and murder members of the Black Panther Party.

The San Francisco Police Department worked closely with the FBI during the '60s and '70s to promote the goals of "neutralizing" and destroying the Black Panther Party. Two of the San Francisco Police Department inspectors who worked in tandem with the FBI to promote these goals were Frank McCoy and Ed Erdelatz.

In August 1973, several Black Panthers, including John Bowman, Ruben Scott and Harold Taylor, were arrested in New Orleans.

McCoy and Erdelatz were on hand in New Orleans immediately after their arrest - as were detectives from New York City - and participated in the interrogation that took place over the course of several days. They were investigating the killings of two San Francisco policemen that took place in the early 1970s.

When Bowman, Scott and Taylor didn't answer questions by McCoy and Erdelatz, the San Francisco policemen exited the room and members of the New Orleans Police Department proceeded to torture the detainees, using various methods including the following:

* Stripping them naked and beating them with blunt objects
* Blindfolding them and throwing wool blankets soaked in boiling water over their bodies
* Placing electric probes on their genitals and other parts of their bodies
* Inserting an electric cattle prod in their anus
* Punching and kicking them
* Slamming them into walls while blindfolded

Their screams were heard throughout the jail. After a period of torture, McCoy and Erdelatz would return to the room and continue questioning them. Each time the answers they sought were not forthcoming, the San Francisco police would leave the room and the torture would resume.

This process lasted several days. The three men were interrogated separately and were held in solitary confinement. Bowman, Scott and Taylor all suffered permanent physical and psychological damage.

These two inspectors are not new to accusations of physical abuse. The San Francisco Examiner ran a series of stories in the 1970s suggesting McCoy and Erdelatz had coerced testimony from a witness connected to a Chinatown slaying.

In 2003, McCoy and Erdelatz began roaming the country in an apparent attempt to interview numerous individuals alleged to be involved with or have knowledge of the 1970s incidents. At times they were joined by San Francisco Police Inspector and FBI Special Federal Officer Joseph Engler.

They went to people's homes and places of employment. They visited prisoners in the New York State prisons where they were incarcerated. They attempted to interview spouses, former spouses and family members.

At least one person in the Bay Area was commandeered off the street as he drove home from work and taken for interrogation. They used thinly veiled threats, intimidation and harassment. They demanded that some individuals provide saliva samples. Some people were served with federal grand jury subpoenas to provide fingerprints.

The actions of McCoy, Engler and Erdelatz in 2003 and 2004 were connected to a federal grand jury sitting in the Northern District of California also investigating the incidents that are the focus of these grand juries. In the summer of 2004, the federal grand jury expired.

In May 2005 a California state grand jury was convened and began taking testimony regarding these same incidents. That grand jury was purportedly investigative in nature. It was expected that the government would next present evidence to an indicting grand jury.

However in August 2005 another investigative grand jury was convened. This time a group of people identified by the government as targets were subpoenaed.

Both of these grand juries were conducted by the California state Attorney General rather than the San Francisco District Attorney's office. Working in tandem with the state AG was an assistant United States Attorney.

The full role of the federal government in this investigation is yet to be revealed. What is clear is that no federal, state or city agent or police officer nor government agency has ever been held culpable for the illegal acts, violence, imprisonment and murders conducted in the name of COINTELPRO nor has there been any admission that these activities are continuing under the Patriot Act or under any other name.

Claude Marks, founder and director of Freedom Archives, 522 Valencia St., San Francisco CA 94110, www.freedomarchives.org, can be reached at (415) 863-9977 or claude@freedomarchives.org <mailto:claude@freedomarchives.org>.
****************************************************
...and the Ongoing Saga
Colleges Protest Call to Upgrade Online Systems
By SAM DILLON and STEPHEN LABATON
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/23/technology/23college.html?pagewa=&pagewanted=print
October 23, 2005

The federal government, vastly extending the reach of an 11-year-old law, is requiring hundreds of universities, online communications companies and cities to overhaul their Internet computer networks to make it easier for law enforcement authorities to monitor e-mail and other online communications.

The action, which the government says is intended to help catch terrorists and other criminals, has unleashed protests and the threat of lawsuits from universities, which argue that it will cost them at least $7 billion while doing little to apprehend lawbreakers. Because the government would have to win court orders before undertaking surveillance, the universities are not raising civil liberties issues.

The order, issued by the Federal Communications Commission in August and first published in the Federal Register last week, extends the provisions of a 1994 wiretap law not only to universities, but also to libraries, airports providing wireless service and commercial Internet access providers.

It also applies to municipalities that provide Internet access to residents, be they rural towns or cities like Philadelphia and San Francisco, which have plans to build their own Net access networks.

So far, however, universities have been most vocal in their opposition.

The 1994 law, the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, requires telephone carriers to engineer their switching systems at their own cost so that federal agents can obtain easy surveillance access.

Recognizing the growth of Internet-based telephone and other communications, the order requires that organizations like universities providing Internet access also comply with the law by spring 2007.

The Justice Department requested the order last year, saying that new technologies like telephone service over the Internet were endangering law enforcement's ability to conduct wiretaps "in their fight against criminals, terrorists and spies."

Justice Department officials, who declined to comment for this article, said in their written comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission that the new requirements were necessary to keep the 1994 law "viable in the face of the monumental shift of the telecommunications industry" and to enable law enforcement to "accomplish its mission in the face of rapidly advancing technology."

The F.C.C. says it is considering whether to exempt educational institutions from some of the law's provisions, but it has not granted an extension for compliance.

Lawyers for the American Council on Education, the nation's largest association of universities and colleges, are preparing to appeal the order before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Terry W. Hartle, a senior vice president of the council, said Friday.

The Center for Democracy and Technology, a nonprofit civil liberties group, has enlisted plaintiffs for a separate legal challenge, focusing on objections to government control over how organizations, including hundreds of private technology companies, design Internet systems, James X. Dempsey, the center's executive director, said Friday.

The universities do not question the government's right to use wiretaps to monitor terrorism or criminal suspects on college campuses, Mr. Hartle said, only the order's rapid timetable for compliance and extraordinary cost.

Technology experts retained by the schools estimated that it could cost universities at least $7 billion just to buy the Internet switches and routers necessary for compliance. That figure does not include installation or the costs of hiring and training staff to oversee the sophisticated circuitry around the clock, as the law requires, the experts said.

"This is the mother of all unfunded mandates," Mr. Hartle said.

Even the lowest estimates of compliance costs would, on average, increase annual tuition at most American universities by some $450, at a time when rising education costs are already a sore point with parents and members of Congress, Mr. Hartle said.

At New York University, for instance, the order would require the installation of thousands of new devices in more than 100 buildings around Manhattan, be they small switches in a wiring closet or large aggregation routers that pull data together from many sites and send it over the Internet, said Doug Carlson, the university's executive director of communications and computing services.

"Back of the envelope, this would cost us many millions of dollars," Mr. Carlson said.

F.C.C. officials declined to comment publicly, citing their continuing review of possible exemptions to the order.

Some government officials said they did not view compliance as overly costly for colleges because the order did not require surveillance of networks that permit students and faculty to communicate only among themselves, like intranet services. They also said the schools would be required to make their networks accessible to law enforcement only at the point where those networks connect to the outside world.

Educause, a nonprofit association of universities and other groups that has hired lawyers to prepare its own legal challenge, informed its members of the order in a Sept. 29 letter signed by Mark A. Luker, an Educause vice president.

Mr. Luker advised universities to begin planning how to comply with the order, which university officials described as an extraordinary technological challenge.

Unlike telephone service, which sends a steady electronic voice stream over a wire, the transmission of e-mail and other information on the Internet sends out data packets that are disassembled on one end of a conversation and reassembled on the other.

Universities provide hundreds of potential Internet access sites, including lounges and other areas that offer wireless service and Internet jacks in libraries, dorms, classrooms and laboratories, often dispersed through scores of buildings.

If law enforcement officials obtain a court order to monitor the Internet communications of someone at a university, the current approach is to work quietly with campus officials to single out specific sites and install the equipment needed to carry out the surveillance. This low-tech approach has worked well in the past, officials at several campuses said.

But the federal law would apply a high-tech approach, enabling law enforcement to monitor communications at campuses from remote locations at the turn of a switch.

It would require universities to re-engineer their networks so that every Net access point would send all communications not directly onto the Internet, but first to a network operations center where the data packets could be stitched together into a single package for delivery to law enforcement, university officials said.

Albert Gidari Jr., a Seattle lawyer at the firm Perkins Coie who is representing Educause, said he and other representatives of universities had been negotiating with lawyers and technology officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies since the spring about issues including what technical requirements universities would need to meet to comply with the law.

"This is a fight over whether a Buick is good enough, or do you need a Lexus?" Mr. Gidari said. "The F.B.I. is the lead agency, and they are insisting on the Lexus."

Law enforcement has only infrequently requested to monitor Internet communications anywhere, much less on university campuses or libraries, according to the Center for Democracy and Technology. In 2003, only 12 of the 1,442 state and federal wiretap orders were issued for computer communications, and the F.B.I. never argued that it had difficulty executing any of those 12 wiretaps, the center said.

"We keep asking the F.B.I., What is the problem you're trying to solve?" Mr. Dempsey said. "And they have never showed any problem with any university or any for-profit Internet access provider. The F.B.I. must demonstrate precisely why it wants to impose such an enormously disruptive and expensive burden."

Larry D. Conrad, the chief information officer at Florida State University, where more than 140 buildings are equipped for Internet access, said there were easy ways to set up Internet wiretaps.

"But the wild-eyed fear I have," Mr. Conrad said, "is that the government will rule that this all has to be automatic, anytime, which would mean I'd have to re-architect our entire campus network."

He continued, "It seems like overkill to make all these institutions spend this huge amount of money for a just-in-case kind of scenario."

The University of Illinois says it is worried about the order because it is in the second year of a $20 million upgrade of its campus network. Peter Siegel, the university's chief information officer, estimated that the new rules would require the university to buy 2,100 new devices, at a cost of an additional $13 million, to replace equipment that is brand new.

"It's like you buy a new car, and then the E.P.A. says you have to buy a new car again," Mr. Siegel said. "You'd say, 'Gee, could I just buy a new muffler?' "


The most tyrannical of governments are those which make crimes of opinions, for everyone has an inalienable right to his thoughts.
-Baruch Spinoza, philosopher (1632-1677)


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