It's unlikely that most of us will be followed by a car, but chances are you've had a sneaking suspicion before that you'd like to put to rest. To regain your peace of mind, security and investigations expert Brandon Gregg offers up a few tricks to both detect if you're being followed and what you can do about it.
Brandon's answer comes from a question on Quora and provides a lot of detail, but here's the gist:
Make four right or left turns. It's unlikely anyone will also be traveling in a complete circle, so if the car is still behind you after 360 degrees you can be fairly certain you are being followed.
If you're on the highway, get off and then back on. Again, this is something most people will not do when driving so you're likely being followed if a car is still behind you when you get back on the highway. If this happens, pull over to the side of the highway. If you're being followed by a surveillance team, they will not pull over because it's too obvious. They may, however, wait at the next exit so if you want to lose them don't choose the next exit or the exit that you usually take.
If any of these techniques lead you to believe you're being followed, call the police. Brandon elaborates:
If it's a local police surveillance, dispatch will put the call out and the undercover unit will cancel it and move along for now. If it's feds/state police, they most likely did not tell their brothers in blue about their surveillance and local PD will roll up on the vehicle. Watch them run the plates and then back off. If its a PI or stalker, local PD will light them up, tell them to move along or even let the reporting party know what is going on.
Police officers who also posted answers to this question agree that phoning the police is among the first things you should do if you believe you are, indeed, being followed. To read more on the subject, check out the full thread over at Quora.
Veterans Peace Teams to stand with Occupy Movement
People of color, including Native Americans, African-Americans, Latinos, and working class communities in America have long been on the receiving end of police brutality.
Now with the recent police violence directed toward the Occupy movement, the country at large is waking up to the unpleasant reality that the violence of the system can and will target anyone who stands up for justice and opposes the exploitation of the 99 percent by the 1 percent.
The Veterans For Peace mission statement states that we pledge to work for peaceful conflict resolution and the elimination of war—the ultimate violence. As veterans of conscience, we are compelled to take a stand against police violence toward the national Occupy movement.
Veterans For Peace will establish Veterans Peace Teams to be made available as we can, to those Occupy sites where the local general assemblies feel our participation would be helpful. We propose that these nonviolent Veterans Peace Teams act as a buffer between Occupy protesters and police violence and ask any and all military/law enforcement veterans to join us in this endeavor.
As veterans, we stand with the Occupy movement as members of the 99 percent and oppose any and all use of force by police against peaceful protesters exercising their right to peaceably assemble to seek redress of grievances as guaranteed by the First Amendment.
We also stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Tahrir Square and worldwide, standing up courageously, leading and often dying in the struggle for equality and justice as they are exposed to massive state-run police and military violence. We recognize that our common enemy is the wealthy power elite, those who control, ravage and exploit.
This abuse of unarmed civilians exercising their constitutional First Amendment rights must cease.
As veterans and as citizens, we implore individual officers, police agencies, elected officials and government agencies to use restraint, negotiation and common sense when dealing with peaceful protesters. We will continue our efforts to convince law enforcement to avoid excessive force, brutality and injury to all involved. We also oppose the increased militarization of police agencies.
We seek to prevent deaths and additional injuries in domestic protests of governmental policies. We realize that those employed in law enforcement are part of the 99 percent, and we call upon all police personnel not to be a domestic front line force for the 1 percent—but to honor and perform their duty to serve and protect the people.
More to the point, it started with a plumber named George Holliday. Had he not been video recording from his balcony, that night in 1991 might have been business as usual for Los Angeles police who struck King, a harmless drunk, 50 times with their batons, breaking his leg, his cheekbone and his skull. Had Holliday not captured video proof to the contrary, they might have gotten away with some lame excuse: Oops, he slipped on the stairs.
But thanks to Holliday's camera, we all knew better.
Twenty years later, cameras have become ubiquitous. They have captured entertainer meltdowns, crashes, tasings, deaths and a seemingly endless carnival of police misbehavior: questionable beatings, controversial shootings and unprovoked violence by those we hire to protect and to serve.
Perhaps not surprisingly, many police now identify cameras as the enemy.
Last week, news photographer Phil Datz was arrested on Long Island for videotaping a police action on a public street. In June, a man named Narces Benoit said Miami Beach Police pulled him from his car by his hair, handcuffed him and stomped his cellphone (which police deny) after he used it to record video of a fatal police shooting. In May, a woman named Emily Good was arrested for recording a traffic stop from her own front yard in Rochester, N.Y. In March, a Las Vegas man was beaten and arrested for videotaping police from his own driveway. In March of last year, a motorcyclist was arrested for recording his own traffic stop on a Maryland highway.
According to a 2010 report on the technology blog Gizmodo, at least three states have made it illegal to record an on-duty officer. Other states use existing wiretapping laws to support their arrests, a novel and selective interpretation of those statutes. What makes it novel is that such laws are typically invoked when telephone conversations are recorded; they require that both parties are aware of, and approve, the recording. What makes it selective is that one never hears of people being roughed up and arrested for recording videos that flatter the police.
The only thing more outrageous than the behavior is the excuses used to justify it. One of the cops in Rochester claimed, obviously for the benefit of the camera, that he did not feel "safe" with Emily Good recording him. Miami Beach Police claimed they confiscated videos only to safeguard the evidence.
That stench you smell is the reek of official hypocrisy. Because the same police who so violently and vividly resist being recorded in the performance of their duties have no compunction about using the same technology against you and me, from the speed camera that catches you when you go flying through the school zone to the new gizmo that reads your license plate and checks for warrants.
If it is OK for police to use cameras to catch us in our misdeeds, why is it not OK for us to use cameras to catch police in theirs?
There is something chilling and totalitarian about this insistence that cops have the right to do as they wish without what amounts to public oversight. What is it they fear? After all, the officer who is being videotaped can protect himself by doing one simple thing:
His job. Leonard Pitts writes for The Miami Herald.
Family of Duane Anthony Shaw $100,000.00 10/25/95 9/14/93 Shooting (died)
Johnny Senteno $96,975.23 12/30/94 8/21/93 Use of force/Arm broken by projectile
Janice M Aichele (deceased) $90,000.00 11/7/96 10/6/94 Off-duty shooting (murder/suicide)
Heather Bissell $88,385.83 9/23/05&8/17/05 4/30/03 Use of force/arrest
Dalebert V Acelar and 3 others $87,000.00 6/16/99 10/17/97 Unlawful search/detention
Shei'Meka Newmann* $82,000.00 4/14/11 (jury) 2/13/09 Use of force, false arrest, malicious prosecution
Hung Mingh Tran* $81,766.00 1/30/11 11/24/07 Use of force (Taser)
Total $6,867,525.32 Sources: Portland Office of Risk Management, Portland Office of Management and Finance, Portland City Auditor's Office and various news agencies This chart should be published regularly by the City to let people know what police misconduct is costing the people of Portland. Sure, they can argue that in cases that were settled out of court they never admitted wrongdoing, but if they felt they had a sure chance to win, they'd defend their officers. The $6.8 million total for just these 25 cases does not include another $2.7 million paid out to over 200 other people from 1993-2011. With an average of at least $500,000 per year, the City could be paying for several civilian investigators to staff an independent police review board. Perhaps with ongoing external monitoring, the frequency of such cases would decline. As many cases after 2007 have not gone through the courts yet, we can compare the average annual totals for incidents between 1993 and 2001 ($382,000) and from 2002-June 2011 ($636,000)***** and see that the advent or Portland's "Independent" Police Review Division in 2002 has done little to slow the lawsuits or the misconduct that generates them, and in fact it may be that more people are turning to the courts rather than using the civilian complaint system (see PPR #44, May 2008). --16 of the top 25 are incidents that occurred since 2002, when the IPR began operating; 8 of the top 25 are payments made since January 2008. --Some of the amounts shown include the City's legal expenses, making them appear higher than the settlements alone. But since this expense comes back to you, the taxpayer, we feel all expenses should be included when known. For example, Heather Bissell's case settled for $50,000 but the figure above includes $38,000+ in city expenses.
Notes: *-new info or new settlement/judgment since April, 2008 **-Daniel Thomas' case ended with a judgment in March, 2008 of $100,000, but the city closed out his original claim with $91,746.53 in city legal expenses. The total reported payout including attorney's fees was $311,000 (Oregonian, 12/10/09) ***The total of the top 25 up to 2005 was $3.6 million; in April 2008 it was $4.5 million ****Ladd was beaten by off-duty officers, but on-duty cops acted to cover up the beating We use the term "settlement" loosely to cover settlements, judgments, and other payouts by the city to cover the costs of police misconduct. *****Portland Copwatch has incomplete data for 2008-2011 but hopes to update this information soon.
As police continue to blatantly steal and destroy cameras from citizens without any legal authority whatsoever, it is essential to store our video footage online so it can accessed regardless of what happens to our cameras.
At this time, the most popular method to do this is through the Qik mobile phone application.
I personally have never used it because I tend not to use my phone for video recording, but I am going to download the app because it seems that police are getting bolder about stealing our cameras.
Just this week, we've had at least three incidents, including the one from Miami Beach on Monday, the one in Broward County on Thursday and one from this weekend in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Fortunately, the last victim was using the Qik app when police walked up to her and demanded her phone as "evidence," even though they had no legal right to do so.
The incident can be seen beginning at 12:30 in the above video where Antigone Darling is recording the aftermath of a protest against police in which eight activists were arrested.
She is actually walking away from police who chase her down and steal her phone.
The law states that police are required to obtain a subpoena or warrant before they can confiscate your camera unless your camera is being used in the commission of crime such as child pornography or upskirting.
I addressed this issue two years ago where I interviewed a couple of attorneys.
Sometimes police know the law but will lie to the citizen anyway as they tried to do to us in my first Metrorail incident (beginning at 2:08 in the video).
But many cops do not know the law as we learned in March when cops in New Haven, Connecticut had to go through special classes to learn how to deal with photographers.
The truth is, regardless if they know they are breaking the law or not, the worse that can happen to them is that prosecutors will force them to return the phone.
And that can take weeks.
Just ask Benjamin Bartholomew who was arrested with his brother in April in Northern California for protesting while wearing masks. They do it for political theater as I wrote about back in February.
Last time they did it, they were charged for wearing masks and for posting signs on state property. Police confiscated his phone because he was recording the entire interaction.
Even after prosecutors dropped the mask charge, they have yet to return his phone to him, which after five weeks, is a huge inconvenience.
But at least the footage was salvaged and has been online since his arrest. That video is below.
APD won't hinder citizens who videotape cops By Bill Rankin The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Faced with complaints from a citizen watchdog group, Atlanta police will stop interfering with people who videotape officers performing their duties in public, an agreement reached with the city Thursday says.
The settlement, which also calls for the city to pay $40,000 in damages, requires city council approval.
The agreement resolves a complaint filed by Marlon Kautz and Copwatch of East Atlanta, a group that films police activity with cell phones and hand-held cameras. The group has volunteers who go out on patrols and begin videotaping police activity when they come across it.
Last April, Kautz said, he pulled out his camera phone and began recording Atlanta police who were arresting a suspect in Little Five Points. Two officers approached him and said he had no right to be filming them, Kautz said. When Kautz refused to stop, one officer wrenched Kautz's arm behind his back and yanked the camera out of his hands, he said.
"I was definitely scared," Kautz, 27, said.
Kautz said that when he asked to get his phone back, another officer said he'd return it only after Kautz gave him the password to the phone so he could delete the footage. When Kautz refused, police confiscated the phone, he said. When police returned it, Kautz said, the video images had been deleted, altered or damaged.
As part of Thursday's settlement, reached before a civil rights lawsuit was filed, the city will pay Kautz and Copwatch of East Atlanta $40,000 in damages. APD will also adopt an operating procedure that prohibits officers from interfering with citizens who are taping police activity, provided individuals recording the activity do not physically interfere with what the officers are doing. The policy is to be adopted within 30 days after the Atlanta city council approves the settlement, and training is to be carried out during police roll calls.
"We commend the city for resolving a long-standing problem of police interfering with citizens who monitor police activity," the group's lawyers, Gerry Weber and Dan Grossman, said.
APD spokesman Carlos Campos said the matter had been referred to the Office of Professional Standards, and three officers were disciplined. The two officers who confronted Kautz -- Mark Taylor and Anthony Kirkman -- received oral admonishments for failing to take appropriate action. Sgt. Stephen Zygai was admonished for failure to supervise.
"Commanders have made it clear that Atlanta police officers in the field should not interfere with a citizen's right to film them while they work in public areas," Campos said.
Also Thursday, the Atlanta Citizen Review Board sustained allegations of excessive force against Kirkman, who took the phone out of Kautz's hand. The board recommended to Police Chief George Turner that Kirkman be suspended without pay for four days. It also recommended that APD adopt the new standard operating procedure.
Copwatch began in 1990 in Berkeley, Calif., and other chapters have since been organized in cities across the country. Its goal is to protect citizens from being mistreated by holding police accountable. With the ubiquity of small hand-held cameras and cell phones, Copwatch members can begin videotaping a police scene at a moment's notice.
"There shouldn't be anything wrong with these constitutional watchdogs keeping an eye on the police," said Emory University law professor Kay Levine. "Just about anything the police are doing out in the public, in performance of their duties, members of the public can see -- and therefore film."
Citizens should not interfere with police activity, however, and should be wary about compromising an undercover investigation, she said.
"Just about anything the police are doing out in the public, they should be comfortable being videotaped because they're simply performing their duties," Levine said. "If some aren't comfortable with it, it makes you wonder why."
Kautz started Copwatch of East Atlanta after he moved here about two years ago.
"We landed right smack dab in a situation where we saw police behavior was unacceptable," Kautz said, citing the controversial APD raid of the Atlanta Eagle gay bar. "We saw Copwatch as direct action we could take to increase police accountability in the city."
Copwatch members are trained how to behave when videotaping a scene, Kautz said. "It's important for us when we're out there to keep it together. We try to stay professional, as we expect the police to be."
Copwatch members get varying responses from police, Vincent Castillenti, 24, said. Some officers become hostile because they don't like the scrutiny, while others begin behaving less aggressively when they realize they're being filmed, he said.
Kautz said the intent of Copwatch is not to get police officers in trouble. "The hope," he said, "is that our presence will remind police the community is watching what they're doing and wants them to be on their best behavior."
Omaha police officer Larry Minard was murdered by an ambush bomb on August 17, 1970. Minard and seven other patrol officers were responding to an anonymous phone call about a woman screaming at a vacant house.
The 29 year-old policeman was killed instantly when he examined a suitcase in the vacant dwelling. Minard was buried three days later on what would have been his 30th birthday with fellow officers serving as pallbearers. Three hundred Omaha policemen attended the funeral.
Minard had planned to go out and celebrate turning 30 with his wife Karen but instead was buried in Forest Lawn cemetery on his birthday. Minard’s children, ages 4 to 11, had already wrapped his birthday presents--gifts that Larry would never open.
Larry Minard, Jr. now proudly displays a tattoo of his father’s official police photo. Family members dutifully mark anniversaries, attend court sessions, and make media statements when Minard’s death is in the news.
Larry and Karen were married in 1958, the same year Minard joined the Navy. Serving on a destroyer tender, Minard made two long overseas trips before his discharge from the service in 1961.
Minard applied for the Nebraska State Patrol but missed the deadline by one day so he then applied for positions with both the Omaha Fire and the Omaha Police Departments. The police job opened up first and Larry put on the badge.
The day Larry Minard died, his boss Assistant Chief of Police Glen Gates and Special-Agent-in-Charge Paul Young of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, conspired to let the anonymous 911 caller that lured Minard to his death get away with murder.
J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI, had been hounding Special Agent Young for months to get Black Panther leaders Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Longer (formerly David Rice) off the streets as part of the clandestine Operation COINTELPRO.
Young saw an opportunity to make a case against the two Panthers for the bombing but the unknown killer who made the 911 call stood in the way so a plan was hatched to send the 911 recording to Washington, D.C. where Hoover could intervene.
When Ivan Willard Conrad, the head of the FBI crime laboratory, got the tape and secret COINTELPRO memorandum from Omaha two days later he called Hoover to verify that he was to withhold a report on the identity of the 911 caller thus ending the search for Minard’s killer.
Hoover verified that no report was to be made on the 911 tape and that only oral information was to be shared with Paul Young at the Omaha FBI field office. Conrad noted his call with Hoover on the memo and initialed and dated it one day before Larry Minard was buried.
Hoover’s order held, the jury that convicted Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa never got to hear the voice of Minard’s killer. Nor did the jury know that the Omaha Two were targets of Hoover’s COINTELPRO program.
Larry Minard’s widow and children believe the official version of the crime. The awful truth that J. Edgar Hoover ordered the withholding of evidence about the identity of Minard’s killer didn’t come out until years later with the release of COINTELPRO documents and is too painful for the family to accept.
The Omaha Two, Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa, remain incarcerated at the maximum-security Nebraska State Penitentiary in their 40th year of imprisonment. Both men deny any involvement in Larry Minard’s death.
In this 15 minute video there is "not a lot of drama" or excitement.
Just 2 cops and 2 security patrols standing around ticketing some homeless(?)-(forgive me for assuming) folks.
The charge.... for (assumed) drinking (?) in the park. (I seen no drinking nor containers as I filmed)
The sick irony is that this park is ***surround with alcohol drinking fancy places****** for the rich and middle class to use
Fifty feet away across the street people sit along the sidewalk and drink wine at an expensive restaurant!
YET a poor person in the park is treated as "the town criminal" if they have any kind of an alcoholic drink?
Then for them to be banned for 30 days is a civil rights issue and in my opinion, and is illegal, and shameful, not to mention a BIG WASTE of the cities money enforcing this non criminal act on poor people primarily.
The points of why I filmed (this) the police are:
1) to document what the police are doing in our community and "how they are doing it" <behavior, attitude, lawful, etc>
2) to openly and honestly record the interaction as a witness for the truth and to preserve justice through independent media as to not be manipulated by the corporate media and or official untruthful reports that over ride citizens own words
3) to provide a back up report on truly what happened in a media-format for legal proof
4) to let the police know that the community is "watching them" and that they are "public servants working for the communities interests and safety"
5) to provide a legally available witness to any inappropriate behavior, human rights violations, civil rights violations, inappropriate attitude, or violent attacks on any citizen around me by a police officer or any city government agent, especially on marginalized or minority communities or political activists.
6) to openly let the public know how the police treat people (good or bad the video will record how they interacted with the citizens) as well as to let the city officials see and the appropriate agency oversight committees see as well.
7) to inadvertently help the police, in which by openly filming them, they get to realize that they MUST be accountable to their community and their sworn oaths
8) to provide "police oversight by citizens" due to the pathetic lack of concern by (the) police management and their own department to do this, and especially their union show of blatant disrespect for the rights of the people in this community as well as the continuing battle to correct this "lack of oversight" that the city (does not sufficiently provide) but continues to allow through the years and tolerates to especially but not specifically; not correct rouge cops (behaviors) or discipline / fire the ones that operate "outside" of the communities interest and harm or kill community members.
The facts that police are allowed to act not in the community’s interest, use excessive force, kill, tazer, pepper-spray and all with “full impunity” and no “oversight from within their own rank” is a sham and cover-up tragedy in and by itself.
By filming it becomes a legal document for "real" justice and to hold the police accountable, when need be or when questioned, from a citizens and community position as well as over sight committees and legal inquiries by civil rights and human rights commissions
This 14 minute video is not full of action. But that doesn’t make it unimportant.
Less action is better when it comes to involvement with the police.
By posting this I want to also show ... that "you can film the police".
And how (one of the ways) that it can be done.
First Big Rule à stay out of their way, do not interfere with what they are doing.
Keep (leave) the camera always "turned on" (hence extra batteries and tape is required)
Stay till the end of the engagement.
If anything starts to get "inappropriate" then for sure get the badge numbers or names and witness accounts
I have seen over and over and over ...police behavior, attitudes, respect change the moment they see a camera filming them!
And truthfully I like the way they treat people better when they are being filmed.
As you can see ... filming somewhat irritates them and they would prefer "you leave" or turn your camera away from them.
But don’t be intimidated, don’t stop filming. Maybe step one step back if they are obviously fixating on you filming to deescalate the tension so you can continue filming the original interaction.
As you may of seen in other videos...they sometimes get downright PISSED....so be on high alert.
I have had my camera taken away by a cop in 2008...(returned within hours) wherein I then filed a lawsuit which we all (the city, police, DA and my lawyer) came to the agreement you can film the cops and they now "train their officers to recognize this right" ;-)
The less you become involved in their "operation at hand" the better.
(You be the observer / press / witness)
The (my) camera was turned on when I approached (in advanced, in my hand, out in the open)
When I film …I don’t want to be “in the issue at hand” but involved in so much as "I’m just documenting and witnessing" and I am JUST watching closely this “issue at hand”
On a side note.
I have seen many, many cops, act professional, smile, be polite, and treat people of their communities with respect. Which I do like.
But those videos scenes I am really not out to promote nor am too concerned about that aspect, I do appreciate the civil behavior don’t get me wrong. But in the same breath I shouldn’t think that to treat people with civility and respect needs any special "thanks".
It should be “a given” and is to be "expected"
I walk by many cops who I don’t need to film.
And I don’t “hate the cops” …I do question their whole role in our society and what exactly are they protecting?
I see the need for safety and the need to have a society where we can call on someone to help protect oneself when its needed.
What angers and motivates me is that in today world especially in my city, we see the rampant abuse by the very people “who we are suppose to call”. The police abuse protesters rights with sprays and bodily force, mentally challenged people are arrested and killed, folks from immigrant backgrounds, color and race see stereotyping, and worst of all the marginalized and CONTINUED harassment of houseless people.
The fact that the police and our city officials would harass and hassle the poorest people in the city is deplorable.
I will film every interaction I see between the police and city agents when they are targeting the houseless or poor. As well as filming for citizen when they are being restricted, ticketed, or violated of their unalienable rights, be it civil rights or human rights.
I am ashamed of the attitude of our police agency (and city’s tolerance and acceptance of it) to the problem being targeted towards the most marginalized folks on earth who have the least if nothing at all.
The police should have nothing to worry about if they see me or anyone filming them, unless they are up to no good.
Then the whole world will be watching. ((( i )))
"Portland Copwatch" is a local group here in Portland --> http://www.portlandcopwatch.org/
Andalso another local group is "Rosecity Copwatch" --> http://rosecitycopwatch.wordpress.com/
A major investigation reveals the extent of America's vast and heavily privatized military-corporate-intelligence establishment.
August 28, 2010 |
In July, the Washington Post published the Top Secret America project -- a sweeping portrait of America’s heavily privatized military-corporate-intelligence establishment. Lead reporter Dana Priest calls it the “vast and hidden apparatus of the war on terror.”
Priest, who has won two Pulitzer Prizes, described the project as the most challenging investigation of her career. She teamed up with national security journalist William Arkin and a team of about 20 Post staffers to create an “alternative geography” of a hidden world that has exploded since the attacks of 9/11. At last count, the official U.S. intelligence budget stood at $75 billion -- more than two and a half times what it was on September 10, 2001.
The remarkable three-part series (I, II, III) and its intricate multimedia Web site attracted some initial praise, but just as quickly seemed to drop off the map. This article is an attempt to revisit some of the Priest and Arkin’s most shocking discoveries.
Top Secret America is based on hundreds of interviews with government officials, contractors and independent experts; satellite imagery; government contracts; property records; promotional materials from contractors; photo reconnaissance of suspected intelligence facilities, and more.
To give a sense of the physical layout of Top Secret America, Priest and Arkin plotted government and corporate secret locations on a map.
The reporters also compiled their data in the searchable Top Secret America database (TSA). They found 1,931 intelligence contracting firms doing work classified as “top secret,” for 1,271 government organizations at over 10,000 sites around the country. 533 of the contracting firms were founded after the 9/11 attacks.
About 110 contractors do about 90 percent of the top-secret work. The biggest of the big are household words: Booz Allen Hamilton, L-3 Communications, CSC, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, and SAIC.
The TSA database doesn’t include firms that only do merely “secret” work because the reporters found too many to count.
Contractors make up nearly 30 percent of the workforce of America’s intelligence agencies. At the Department of Homeland Security the ratio of contractors to staffers is 50-50. The Post estimates that of the 854,000 people with top-secret clearances, 265,000 are contractors.
The U.S. has become utterly dependent on contractors for basic national security and intelligence functions. The National Reconnaissance Office literally couldn’t launch satellites without contractors. Contractors do everything from recruiting spies to interrogating detainees to processing civil forfeitures in the war on drugs.
CIA director Leon Panetta admitted to the Post that dependence on contractors is a liability because the main duty of corporations "is to their shareholders, and that does present an inherent conflict." As Jeremy Scahill pointed out in the Nation, these reservations didn’t stop Panetta from approving a new $100 million contract with the scandal-plagued private security contractor formerly known as Blackwater.
(Note: there is a video on this topic on the CNN website)
By Dugald McConnell, CNN
August 27, 2010 9:26 a.m. EDT
(CNN) -- Law enforcement officers may secretly place a GPS device on a person's car without seeking a warrant from a judge, according to a recent federal appeals court ruling in California.
Drug Enforcement Administration agents in Oregon in 2007 surreptitiously attached a GPS to the silver Jeep owned by Juan Pineda-Moreno, whom they suspected of growing marijuana, according to court papers.
When Pineda-Moreno was arrested and charged, one piece of evidence was the GPS data, including the longitude and latitude of where the Jeep was driven, and how long it stayed. Prosecutors asserted the Jeep had been driven several times to remote rural locations where agents discovered marijuana being grown, court documents show.
Pineda-Moreno eventually pleaded guilty to conspiracy to grow marijuana, and is serving a 51-month sentence, according to his lawyer.
But he appealed on the grounds that sneaking onto a person's driveway and secretly tracking their car violates a person's reasonable expectation of privacy.
"They went onto the property several times in the middle of the night without his knowledge and without his permission," said his lawyer, Harrison Latto.
The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the appeal twice -- in January of this year by a three-judge panel, and then again by the full court earlier this month. The judges who affirmed Pineda-Moreno's conviction did so without comment.
Latto says the Ninth Circuit decision means law enforcement can place trackers on cars, without seeking a court's permission, in the nine western states the California-based circuit covers.
The ruling likely won't be the end of the matter. A federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., arrived at a different conclusion in similar case, saying officers who attached a GPS to the car of a suspected drug dealer should have sought a warrant.
Experts say the issue could eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
One of the dissenting judges in Pineda-Moreno's case, Chief JudgeAlexKozinski, said the defendant's driveway was private and that the decision would allow police to use tactics he called "creepy" and "underhanded."
"The vast majority of the 60 million people living in the Ninth Circuit will see their privacy materially diminished by the panel's ruling," Kozinksi wrote in his dissent.
"I think it is Orwellian," said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which advocates for privacy rights.
"If the courts allow the police to gather up this information without a warrant," he said, "the police could place a tracking device on any individual's car -- without having to ever justify the reason they did that."
But supporters of the decision see the GPS trackers as a law enforcement tool that is no more intrusive than other means of surveillance, such as visually following a person, that do not require a court's approval.
"You left place A, at this time, you went to place B, you took this street -- that information can be gleaned in a variety of ways," said David Rivkin, a former Justice Department attorney. "It can be old surveillance, by tailing you unbeknownst to you; it could be a GPS."
He says that a person cannot automatically expect privacy just because something is on private property.
"You have to take measures -- to build a fence, to put the car in the garage" or post a no-trespassing sign, he said. "If you don't do that, you're not going to get the privacy."