Media Resources

  • PR Watch - Center for Media and Democracy
    Promoting media that are "of, by, and for the people"
  • Find Media Resources
    Quickly find media resources across the U.S.
  • FAIR - Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
    A national media watch group that has been offering well-documented criticism of media bias and censorship since 1986.
  • Center for Public Integrity
    Centers on investigative journalism that looks at issues related to government and corporate operation. Issues they cover are typically not brought to the mainstream media and profile operations that need to be monitored for legality and ethics.

  • Democracy Now
    A daily radio and TV news program on over 350 stations pioneering the largest communty media collaboration in the U.S.
  • Air America Radio
    Progressive alternative radio network
  • Common Dreams News Center
    A great progressivist news resource. Excellent and broad perspective. From a group in Maine
  • Freepress - media reform resource
    A nonpartisan organization working toward a more democratic media. Strong focus on "big media" problems.

« Domestic Spying | Main | CNN Cordiality »


Robert Striker

Information for your consideration:
Robert Striker

Overlooked by the press: Civil Asset Forfeiture Provisions of the Patriot Act join with illegal-NSA-Domestic Spying on Americans.

Greater success against provisions of the Patriot Act and illegal-NSA-Domestic Spying on Americans could be achieved by publicly addressing "Patriot Act-broad-Civil Asset Forfeiture Provisions" that now threaten U.S. Citizens and business assets, including Intellectual Property?

Few organizations that claim to oppose the Patriot Act have focused on Patriot Act provisions that now permit government/police Civil Forfeiture of Assets belonging to U.S. Citizens, including heirs and businesses using only a Preponderance of Evidence and/or by so-called secret testimony: Under the Patriot Act the same informants who provide secret testimony may be paid a percentage of a citizen's or business's assets confiscated and/or resulting fines the government collects. There appears to be no Statute of Limitations for Police/Government Civil Asset Forfeiture since 2000 when Rep. Henry Hyde's got passed HR 1658 the "Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000." Hydes bill included over 200 violations that can subject property to civil asset forfeiture. The statute limitations under Hyde's bill for government civil asset forfeiture was changed to 5-years from the time police allege they discovered that an asset became subject to forfeiture.

Consequently NSA by itself or other Government Agencies using the Patriot Act may use information gleaned from illegal-surveillance of telephone, fax and emails in the future to go back indefinitely to seize assets of businesses and U.S. Citizens using the low standard of a "preponderance of evidence." Patriot Act provisions refer to civil asset forfeiture laws guiding Patriot Act forfeitures according to Title 18 of the United States Code. However this statement appears trashed when you consider the Patriot's "Substitution of Assets for Forfeiture" provision: Under this provision it is difficult to determine if the government is using any standard of evidence whatsoever to forfeit offshore funds that may be connected to a crime, including other funds that may have been previously connected to the same offshore entity: the confiscating U.S. Government or joint sharing foreign agency need not prove the source of the funds being confiscated: this would apply for the "substitution of assets being forfeited" in the U.S. For example, one person that is alleged among many others to have an interest in a tainted offshore bank account could have their shopping center confiscated in Palo Alto, CA. the evidence for the forfeiture can be kept secret by the U.S. Government in the name of National Security.

Please find below "asset forfeiture information" from the Patriot Act and Rep. Henry Hyde's passed "Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000, HR 1658." Rep. Hyde's "Forfeiture Act" gave the Patriot Act more power to seize and forfeit property using a low standard of evidence; including employing secret informants, secret witnesses, hidden evidence to forfeit property and assess huge fines.

Please see below the Nation's article regarding secret-quasi-government "civilian forfeiture squads" that target the assets of Americans in the U.S.
Jun 4, 7:10 PM (ET) 2003


WASHINGTON (AP) - Government prosecutors are reviewing years worth of sensitive telephone and e-mail wiretaps and results
from secret searches to decide whether they can file criminal charges against suspected terrorists in the United States.

Senior prosecutors from across the country met Wednesday at the Justice Department with Attorney General John Ashcroft, who ordered the review. They said the examination of more than 4,500 intelligence files is guiding the government's pursuit of what Ashcroft described as "hundreds and hundreds" of suspected terrorists in this country.

The wiretaps and searches were performed during the past 25 years on suspected spies and terrorists under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. With permission from a super-secret U.S. spy court, the FBI has used such warrants to break into homes, offices and hotel rooms to install hidden cameras, copy computer files and eavesdrop on
telephones. Agents also have intercepted e-mails and pried into safe deposit boxes.

Criminal prosecutors previously were not entitled to the contents of intelligence files, which were limited under Justice Department policies to government espionage and counterterrorism experts. But a court ruling this year lowered that wall, allowing the review of old surveillance.

"All U.S. attorney offices around the country are looking at the closed and open intelligence investigations to review for criminal purposes nationwide," said Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney for the northern district of Illinois. "I'm not forecasting who, what, when and where we'll bring whatever in the future, but it's not limited to any one U.S. attorney's office."

In many cases, these secret wiretaps and searches are so sensitive - even years after they occur - that prosecutors may never hint in court records that a defendant was the target of such surveillance.

"That review ... may result in us getting somebody off the street and incapacitating them on fraud charges, but that doesn't mean the terror information or the intelligence information ever will be made public," said Alice Fisher, the deputy U.S. assistant attorney general for the Justice
Department's criminal division.

Some private lawyers and civil liberties groups have cautioned that increased use of secret surveillance warrants could force judges to give defendants more freedom to challenge evidence collected during these wiretaps or searches. Citing national security concerns, prosecutors
typically are not compelled to share full details of such surveillance.

"The pressure will build to ensure that evidence is subject to cross-examination," predicted Beryl A. Howell, a Washington lawyer with expertise on the surveillance law and former chief counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The government has charged some suspected terrorists with money laundering, immigration violations or identity fraud, a tactic that U.S. Attorney Robert Conrad of North Carolina described as a "kitchen-sink approach."

U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty of Virginia, whose office is responsible for the terrorism case against Zacarias Moussaoui, said the intelligence review allows federal prosecutors to "make sure we are aware of who is out there in the community and that we know what they're doing and be
able to make some enforcement decisions as a result."

Nine of these senior U.S. prosecutors - most of whom have handled prominent terrorism cases - met privately with Ashcroft earlier in the day and proposed changes to U.S. laws and government policies. They declined afterward to discuss details of their conversations.

Ashcroft only alluded to changes the Bush administration
might request from Congress.

"We must constantly learn. We must adapt," Ashcroft said.
"We must out think, and we must anticipate the actions of
our enemies."

Ashcroft quickly left the discussion with prosecutors after brief remarks. He ignored questions shouted from reporters about an audit released this week by Justice investigators who identified "significant problems" with the detention of 762 foreigners in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks.

But Ashcroft appeared unfazed by criticism in the report. He included in a list of the government's accomplishments in its war on terror the deportation of 515 of those 762 foreigners whom he said were "linked to the September 11 investigation."

The audit, among other things, criticized the FBI for making "little attempt" to distinguish between immigrants who were subjects of the Sept. 11 terror investigation and those encountered coincidentally to it.

End of Item

New Federal Civil Forfeiture Laws

U.S. Government can now Forfeit Property "Involved" In Most Felonies and Seize Inheritances:
HR 1658, "The Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000" expanded government Civil forfeiture laws to include approximately 200 felonies and violations making more property subject to Government forfeiture; even after the statute of limitations has passed for criminal prosecution. Only a "mere preponderance of evidence" is needed for federal agencies and police to confiscate property, not "clear and convincing evidence."

Inheritances and Innocent Heirs: Heirs need not be "involved" in a felony that makes their inheritance subject to government forfeiture. They need only have reason to know that someone e.g., a relative, employee or other person previously committed a felony or violation that involved their inherited real property or other assets.

Innocent Property Owners Lost under HR 1658: Nationally, property owners and real estate associations could not stop the U.S. Senate from GUTTING HR 1658’s original "Innocent Owner Protection Provision" that would have made government PROVE by "Clear and Convincing Evidence" that an owner’s property was subject to government forfeiture."
The standard of proof now needed for government to seize property is ONLY a "Preponderance of Evidence." Rep. Henry Hyde’s HR 1658 "The Civil Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000" affectivity DID AWAY with the statute of limitations for government to civilly seize and forfeit assets. Police now have "Five Years" to seize property from "whenever date" police alleged they learned that an "asset was involved in crime" that would make it subject to asset forfeiture: police in effect, may have forever to seize citizen and corporate assets using a the low standard of evidence—" a Preponderance of Evidence."
For example, police agencies can under the USA Patriot Act, retain for years telephone, fax and email communications: Twenty years in the future any police agency may claim to have "discovered something" in an electronic communication to cause the seizure of a business, a citizen’s assets or inheritance. Under the USA Patriot Act, police need not inform the owner why they are confiscating his or her property. Or disclose the witnesses who may be getting part of the confiscated assets.


Congress’s expansion of property forfeiture laws under HR 1658 created an "army of informants."

Informants to get paid "25% to 50% of assets forfeited, may allege or falsely tell police that an innocent person, inheritance or business was "involved" in a felony in hopes that a government agency will seize their assets. This practice lends itself to corruption because it is too easy for informants to kick part or all of their "forfeiture commission" back to "police" involved the seizure of an owner’s property. Under HR 1658, state or federal government’s discovery of a 20-year-old crime may make property forfeitable: An alleged misrepresentation by a deceased on a FDIC Insured Loan Application can make an inherited home or its subsequent sales proceeds forfeitable by the federal government. Did Innocent Property Owners Lose? "The Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000" Passed: And as before, still only a "mere Preponderance of Evidence" is required for government/police to civilly forfeit, confiscate an innocent owner’s property—NOT "Clear & Convincing Evidence." In order to be an innocent owner, the owner must prove that he or she "Did All That Could be Reasonably Expected Under the Circumstances To Terminate Such Use of their Property". Note: There is no federal government definition for property owners to follow that state what constitutes "DID All" or "Could be Reasonably Expected Under The Circumstances to Terminate Such Use of their Property." This is important because it is the police who will determine what the alleged "circumstances" were that will cause government to seize an owner’s property.
End of Item

Patriot Act redefines Mob as Terrorist Associates

Under the USA Patriot Act the U.S. Government can use a "new charge" to arrest Mob members.

The Act-redefined "Terrorist Association" as any criminal activity that may "relate" to supporting terrorists.

The Act defines terrorist activity as any criminal activity that "participates" in "World Markets" that terrorists may use or depend on for their support."

For prosecution, the U.S. Patriot Act merges common criminal activity with supporting terrorism: The Act states: criminals and terrorists use the same world "networks and organizations to "Market" illegal-drugs; and both have interests in criminal activity."
The U.S. Government can use the Act to charge any criminal activity involving illegal drugs as being "related" to a "criminal market" that networks with terrorists. It seems unlikely "illegal drug marketers" can stop terrorists from using their networks to distribute drugs or other criminal activity.

The Act lends itself to abuse/selective enforcement: The Act has opened the door for police to make large-scale arrests and property confiscation. Even seize lawful businesses, organizations, any asset police allege supported a criminal or terrorist organization interest.

Charged Defendants Under the Act: Defendants start out guilty-having to prove they did not reasonably have reason to know the person(s), organization or entity they associated or networked had committed a terrorist act or would commit one in the future.
What constitutes terrorism under the Act may be arbitrarily decided by police: Any physical act that is legal or illegal may be alleged by police to be a terrorist act under 18USC 2331. For Example: Union demonstrators fighting with strike breakers. Note: No one need be injured for police to make terrorist charges; demonstrators need only "appear intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; or to influence the policy of a government". (See 18USC 2331).
Under Patriot Act-Common Criminal Conduct Supports Terrorism: "illegal drug marketers" and their "networks" "join" to assist "criminal markets" that may help terrorists. "Criminal Markets" under the Act may involve any illegal activity.
The Act's mention of incidental criminal networks-opened the door for police under the Act's anti-terrorism provision to use "secret evidence and witnesses" against non-terrorist criminal defendants in both U.S. Military Tribunals and Civilian "Star Chamber Courts". It would seem not possible for anyone to defend against government-paid and/or other secret witnesses when a defendant is not allowed to learn the evidence being used against them. Under such circumstances, government interests should have no difficulty causing the imprisonment, execution and/or confiscation of assets of any person government deems undesirable.

Under the Patriot Act: The Government got the power from Congress to charge Citizens for crimes that allegedly "relate" to activities that may support terrorists or threaten the safety, economic or national security of the United States. Foreign terrorist suspects now sit in U.S. Jails. Great! But could Americans be next to lose their right to have confidential meetings with attorneys.

Imagine Americans, forced to endure Government agents sitting at their table whenever an attorney comes to meet with them in jail? Could this happen here? The media has not yet addressed this Constitutional concern.

End of Item:


Corporate Mercenaries Spy on Americans and Seize their Assets

The Nation obtained a copy of DynCorp's contract, which states that along with "fumigation and search-and-rescue," DynCorp's other responsibilities include "flying local troops in to destroy drug labs and coca or poppy fields." A nifty enabler, the guise of fighting drugs allows the U.S. to fly troops around in other countries' civil wars. This February DynCorp employees flew into the midst of a firefight to rescue Colombian police shot down by leftist guerillas. As to DynCorp's domestic drug-war boodle -- its five-year, $316 million contract helping the Department of Justice seize assets -- there's been little public notice of it outside National Defense magazine.

DynCorp told the magazine that most of the 1,000 staffers involved in the program, funded through 2003, hold "secret" clearances and have been involved in more than 60,000 seizures in the United States. Among other things, they provide 'criminal-intelligence collection and analysis, forensic support and asset identification and tracking."

So this band of retired military honchos has 1,000 operatives with some sort of "secret" mojo, spying on the American public at the feds' behest and helping to hoover up vast sums of money in over 60,000 seizures . . ..

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, "In 80 percent of forfeitures, in fact, charges never are filed." The paper put the total value of assets seized since 1985 by all levels of government at more than $7 billion. It's easy, when safeguards we take for granted in criminal proceedings are reversed: current law presumes that the property is guilty, and owners have to spend time and money proving that "it" wasn't involved in a crime.

End of Item.

Complete Coverage
NPR "The Nation"

The Patriot Act: Key Controversies
by Larry Abramson and Maria Godoy

Feb. 14, 2006 -- The USA Patriot Act seems headed for long-term renewal. Key senators have reached a deal with the White House that allays the civil liberties concerns of some critics of the law.

Passed in the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, the law expanded the government's powers in anti-terrorism investigations. Controversial surveillance provisions were set to expire at the end of last year; attempts to re-authorize them long-term were filibustered last December. The compromise reached last week, which has the support of both House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, makes three major changes to the law:

1- Recipients of court-approved subpoenas for information in terrorism investigations now have the right to challenge a requirement that they refrain from telling anyone. However, recipients must wait a year before challenging the gag order.

2 - The second change concerns recipients of a so-called National Security Letter, which is an administrative subpoena issued by the FBI demanding records. Recipients will no longer be required to tell the FBI the name of any attorney consulted about the letter.

3 - Most libraries -- those that act in traditional roles, such as lending books and providing Internet access -- will not be subject to National Security Letters demanding information about suspected terrorists. However, libraries that act as an Internet Service Provider will still be subject to National Security Letters.

Below, NPR examines the act's most controversial provisions:

Information Sharing
Sec. 203(b) and (d): Allows information from criminal probes to be shared with intelligence agencies and other parts of the government. Would be permanently renewed under deal.

Read more »

Supporters say the provisions have greatly enhanced information sharing within the FBI, and with the intelligence community at large.

Critics warn that unrestricted sharing could lead to the development of massive databases about citizens who are not the targets of criminal investigations.

Roving Wiretaps
Sec. 206: Allows one wiretap authorization to cover multiple devices, eliminating the need for separate court authorizations for a suspect's cell phone, PC and Blackberry, for example. Would expire in 4 years under deal.

Read more »

The government says roving wiretaps are needed to deal with technologically sophisticated terrorists.

Critics say the language of the act could lead to privacy violations of anyone who comes into casual contact with a suspect.

Access to Records
Sec. 215: Allows easier access to business records in foreign intelligence investigations. Would expire in 4 years under deal.

Read more »

The provision allows investigators to obtain books, records, papers, documents and other items sought "in connection with" a terror investigation.

Critics attack the breadth of the provision, saying the law could be used to demand the reading records of library or bookstore patrons.

Foreign Intelligence Wiretaps and Searches
Sec. 218: Lowers the bar for launching foreign intelligence wiretaps and searches. Would be permanently renewed under deal.

Read more »

Allows investigators to get a foreign intelligence wiretap or search order, even if they end up bringing criminal charges instead.

Because foreign intelligence probes are conducted in secret, with little oversight, critics say abuses could be difficult to uncover.

"Sneak & Peek" Warrants
Sec. 213: Allows "Sneak and peek" search warrants, which let authorities search a home or business without immediately notifying the target of a probe. Does not expire.

Read more »

Supporters say this provision has already allowed investigators to search the houses of drug dealers and other criminals without providing notice that might have jeopardized an investigation.

Critics say the provision allows the use of "sneak and peek" warrants for even minor crimes, not just terror and espionage cases.

Material Support
Sec. 805: Expands the existing ban on giving "material support" to terrorists to include "expert advice or assistance." Does not expire.

Read more »

Supporters say it helps cut off the support networks that make terrorism possible.

Critics say the provision could lead to guilt by association.

The 'Lone Wolf' Provision
Section 6001 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 allows intelligence investigations of lone terrorists not connected to a foreign nation or organization.

While not part of the Patriot Act, this provision also sunsets on Dec. 31 and is under review. Civil liberties groups say the provision could sweep in protesters and those suspected of involvement in domestic terrorism. Under the deal reached by the White House and Senate Republicans, this provision would be up for renewal in four years.

Information Sharing
Sections 203(b) and 203(d) of the Patriot Act are at the heart of the effort to break down the "wall" that used to separate criminal and intelligence investigations. The Justice Department has frequently blamed the wall for the failure to find and detain Sept. 11 hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Midhar prior to the attacks. CIA agents had information that both men were in the United States and were suspected terrorists, but the FBI says it did not receive that information until August 2001.

U.S. officials also blame the wall for the failure to fully investigate Zacarias Moussaoui, who has since pleaded guilty in connection with the Sept. 11 plot. The government says that existing procedures made investigators afraid of sharing information between the intelligence and criminal sides of the probe. Supporters say these provisions have greatly enhanced information sharing within the FBI, and with the intelligence community at large.

Civil libertarians say the failure to share information was largely a result of incompetence and misunderstanding of the law. They say investigators were always allowed to share grand jury information, which is specifically authorized by this section. They warn that the scope of the Patriot Act language is far too broad and encourages unlimited sharing of information, regardless of the need.

Critics say that investigators should have to explain why information is being shared, and that only information related to terrorism or espionage should be released. They warn that unrestricted sharing could lead to the development of massive databases about innocent citizens.

« Back to top

Roving Wiretaps
The Justice Department has long complained about restrictions that required separate court authorizations for each device used by the target of an investigation, whether it's a computer terminal, a cell phone or a Blackberry. This provision of the Patriot Act specifically allows "roving wiretaps" against suspected spies and terrorists. The government says it has long had this type of flexibility in criminal cases, and that such authority is needed in dealing with technologically sophisticated terrorists.

Surveillance experts point out, however, that criminal wiretaps must "ascertain" whether the person under investigation is going to be using the device before the tap takes place. Civil liberties groups say the language of the Patriot Act could lead to privacy violations of anyone who comes into casual contact with the suspect. They want Congress to require investigators to specify just which device is going to be tapped, or that the suspect be clearly identified, in order to protect the innocent from unwarranted snooping.

Under the terms of the deal reached by Senate negotiators and the White House, law-enforcement officials filing an application for a roving wiretap would need to provide the identity of the specific target, or if their identity is unknown, a description of the target.

« Back to top

Access to Records
Probably the most hotly debated provision of the law, Section 215 has come to be known as the "libraries provision," even though it never mentions libraries or bookstores. Civil liberties groups attack the breadth of this section -- which allows investigators to obtain "any tangible thing (including books, records, papers, documents and other items)," as long as the records are sought "in connection with" a terror investigation.

Library groups said the law could be used to demand the reading records of patrons. But the government points out that the First Amendment activities of Americans are specifically protected by the law. The Justice Department has released previously classified statistics to show the law has never been used against libraries or bookstores. But the act's critics argue that there's no protection against future abuse.

Civil liberties groups have proposed numerous amendments: special protections for libraries and bookstores; a requirement that investigators explain the reason the records are sought; and an end to the "gag rule" that prohibits people who receive a 215 order from talking about it with anyone. The Justice Department has agreed that recipients can consult with an attorney and is open to an amendment that specifies this right. But the government says the controversy over this provision is an overreaction, and that this section merely expands longstanding access to certain business records.

Under the deal reached by Senate negotiators and the White House, recipients of Section 215 subpoenas now have the right to challenge a requirement that they refrain from telling anyone. However, recipients must wait a year before challenging the gag order.

« Back to top

Foreign Intelligence Wiretaps and Searches
Criminal investigators have a high bar to reach when asking for permission to wiretap or search a suspect's home. The bar is lower in counterterror or counterintelligence probes, where investigators must only prove the suspect is an "agent of a foreign power." Previously, investigators had to show that the "primary purpose" of the order was to gather foreign intelligence; the Patriot Act lowered that requirement to a "significant purpose." The government said this change takes away another brick in "the wall" separating criminal and intelligence probes: It allows investigators to get a foreign intelligence wiretap or search order, even though they might end up bringing criminal charges.

Civil liberties groups insist that "the wall" rose up through misunderstandings, and that there was no hard barrier against launching a criminal probe against someone being investigated as a spy or terrorist. They point to a 2002 ruling by the Foreign Intelligence Court of Review that buttresses this point.

But critics say the Patriot Act creates a new risk in Section 218 -- that investigators will too easily use spying and terrorism as an excuse for launching foreign intelligence wiretaps and searches. They point to the fact that the number of intelligence wiretaps now exceeds the number of criminal taps. Since these probes are conducted in secret, with little oversight, abuses could be difficult to uncover. Civil liberties groups say one antidote would be to require that the Justice Department release more information about foreign intelligence investigations.

« Back to top

"Sneak & Peek" Warrants
This section allows for "delayed notice" of search warrants, which means the FBI can search a home or business without immediately notifying the target of the investigation. The Justice Department says this provision has already allowed investigators to search the houses of drug dealers and other criminals without providing notice that might have jeopardized an investigation. Investigators still have to explain why they want to delay notice, and must eventually tell the target about the search.

Critics say that investigators already had the power to conduct secret searches in counterterror and counterespionage probes. The Patriot Act, they say, authorized the use of this technique for any crime, no matter how minor. They say that "sneak and peek" searches should be narrowly limited to cases in which an investigation would be seriously jeopardized by immediate notice. Legislation to cut off funding for such searches passed the House in 2003.

This provision does not face a sunset as other controversial provisions do. However, under the terms of the deal reached by Senate negotiators and the White House, law-enforcement officials would be required to notify targets within 30 days of the execution of a "sneak and peak" warrant, with extensions of up to 90 days.

« Back to top

Material Support
The antiterrorism law passed in 1996, in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, outlawed providing "material support" to foreign terrorist organizations, and expanded the definition of support to include "personnel" and "training." Section 805 of the Patriot Act extended that ban to "expert advice or assistance."

The Justice Department has said this expansion is critical to cutting off the networks of support that make terrorism possible. But many legal scholars -- and even some judges -- contend the provision is vague. They say it will lead to guilt by association and might criminalize unwitting contact with a terrorist group.

Opponents also argue that it stifles free speech, by raising fears that any charitable contribution could somehow be linked to a terrorist group by the Justice Department, and then construed as "material support." Courts have differed on the constitutionality of these efforts to cut off the "lifeblood" of terrorism. Some have ruled they are unconstitutionally vague, others have upheld these laws. In response, Congress tried to tighten the definitions in the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terror Prevention Act. But the language in that law is also being challenged in court.

The comments to this entry are closed.