FBI spied on Martin Luther King for ‘I have a dream’ speech


This video, recorded in 1963 in the USA, is called Martin Luther King | “I Have A Dream” Speech.

From daily The Independent in Britain today:

Martin Luther King was put under FBI surveillance after his ‘I have a dream’ speech

by Bethan McKernan

Reverend Martin Luther King Jr‘s 1963 ‘I have a dream’ speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington was a defining moment of the 20th century.

His message of equality and fairness inspired generations of people across the world – but also put him at the centre of the FBI’s surveillance operations.

Attorney-General at the time Robert F. Kennedy approved a wiretap and hidden microphone operation that bugged many of King’s conversations from 1963 until his assassination in 1968.

William Sullivan, then head of the FBI’s domestic intelligence division, wrote in a top-secret memo at the time:

“Personally, I believe in the light of King’s powerful, demagogic speech that he stands head and shoulders over all other Negro leaders put together when it comes to influencing great masses.

We must mark him now, if we have not done so before, as the most dangerous Negro of the future in this Nation from the standpoint of communism, the Negro and national security.”

The operation, which was not approved by a court or subject to any investigative oversight, was initially justified to try and prove King‘s suspected links to Communism.

Thank goodness unsupervised surveillance like that doesn’t happen anymore, eh?

United States singer Pete Seeger spied upon by FBI for anti-concentration camp letter


This folk music video from the USA is called I Don’t Want Your Millions, Mister (Almanac Singers). The lyrics are here.

From Associated Press today:

FBI files: Military questioned Pete Seeger‘s wartime loyalty

By MICHAEL HILL and GEORGE M. WALSH

Dec. 19, 2015 2:06 AM EST

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — As Army Pvt. Pete Seeger eagerly waited for a chance to fight for his country during World War II, military investigators quietly built a case that the young folk singer was “potentially subversive.”

In a security investigation triggered by a wartime letter he wrote denouncing a proposal to deport all Japanese Americans, the Army intercepted Seeger’s mail to his fiancée, scoured his school records, talked to his father, interviewed an ex-landlord and questioned his pal Woody Guthrie, according to FBI files obtained by The Associated Press.

Investigators concluded that Seeger‘s association with known communists and his Japanese-American fiancée pointed to a risk of divided loyalty. …

The investigation, forwarded to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, is detailed in more than 1,700 pages from Seeger’s FBI file, released by the National Archives under the Freedom of Information Act.

The musician and left-wing activist known for such songs as “If I Had a Hammer,” ”Where Have All the Flowers Gone” and “Turn, Turn, Turn” died in January 2014 at age 94. …

But the newly released files show the lengths to which the government went to keep tabs on the singer’s travels, performances and rally appearances at least into the 1970s. The archives plan to release additional Seeger files in the future. …

Based on these records, Seeger underwent what appears to be his first major investigation after writing a letter to the California American Legion in 1942 criticizing the organization’s resolution “advocating deportation of all Japanese, citizens or not, and barring all Japanese descendants from citizenship.” This was during a time Japanese Americans, many of them from California, were being forced to live in government internment camps.

“We’re fighting precisely to free the world of such Hitlerism, such narrow jingoism,” Seeger wrote.

What followed was a wide-ranging probe by the military into Seeger’s background. Investigators found that Seeger — referred to as the “Subject” — was “intensely loyal at this time” and eager to be transferred overseas from Mississippi to fight fascism.

But they didn’t like the company he kept.

Investigators found Seeger was a “close friend and associate” of Lead Belly, or Huddie William Ledbetter, the folk legend they described as a “negro murderer.” The Almanac singers were described in the files as “spreading Communist and anti-Fascist propaganda through songs and recordings.”

FBI Islamophobia in the USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

23 February 2015

Kameelah Rasheed, Instructional Specialist for New Visions for Public Schools, talks about how the LDC jurying tool provides clear common language for teachers to talk about their instruction.

This video from the USA says about itself:

US Muslim forced off plane cites Islamophobia

26 November 2015

Being told to get off plane in front of passengers was “humiliating”, says Kameelah Rasheed, who alleges discrimination.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

American artist Kameelah Rasheed hauled off New Jersey plane and questioned for hours ‘for being Muslim’

Ms Rasheed says her headscarf was the only thing distinguishing her from 200 other passengers

Adam Withnall

26 November 2015

An American woman says she was escorted off a plane bound for Istanbul from New Jersey in a deliberate attempt to “humiliate and ostracise” her for being a Muslim.

Kameelah Rasheed was questioned for more than two hours by US officials at Newark Liberty International Airport

Sadly, it looks like there is as ‘much’ liberty at Liberty International Airport as at the Christian far right ‘Liberty University’.

in what she described as Islamophobic treatment.

The 30-year-old Stanford University graduate, artist and contributing editor at The New Inquiry said the only thing to single her out to the authorities was the fact that she was “the only visibly Muslim person” on the flight of around 200.

Ms Rasheed said that she was initially allowed on the United Airlines flight after security checks and some additional questioning by customs officers.

But before the plane could take off, she was forced to leave and interrogated by an FBI agent, she told al-Jazeera.

The New York resident had her phone and passport confiscated in the incident, while officers asked her questions such as: “Why are you flying? Where are you going in Istanbul? How can you afford to go on holiday? How much was the ticket price?”

“It was an attempt to humiliate and ostracise me,” she said.

Asked if the questioning appeared to be as a result of heightened tensions following the shootings two weeks ago in Paris, Ms Rasheed said: “I don’t think there is a resurgence of Islamophobia after the Paris attacks. I think it never went away. It’s becoming more legitimised.

“Right after 9/11, you could do it [commit hate crimes towards Muslims] for a couple of years and no one would blame you… And now after Paris, it’s like, ‘look at what they did, I can treat them how I want’. We didn’t make any progress.”

The incident follows a similar one last week when four people “of Middle Eastern descent” were hauled off a Spirit Airlines flight from Baltimore to Chicago. A fellow passenger had alerted crew to so-called suspicious activity – which later turned out to be watching news from the Paris attacks on their phones.

Then, Ibrahim Hooper, national spokesman for the Council on Islamic-American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told The Independent: “Unfortunately, I think we’re going to see more and more of this.”

Ms Rasheed said she didn’t blame her airline, which had been helpful in trying to secure her a refund. She said she felt “very angry and hurt”, and wouldn’t want to fly for the foreseeable future.

FBI spy planes over Ferguson and Baltimore, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

FBI Planes Are Watching You

3 June 2015

The Associated Press did a report on the FBI using small planes throughout the country to spy in on us. They claim that they are spying in on the bad guys. Well, that’s not entirely true.

Cenk Uygur (The Young Turks) and John Iadarola (Think Tank) break it down. Does the FBI need to gather this much data to keep us safe? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

“Scores of low-flying planes circling American cities are part of a civilian air force operated by the FBI and obscured behind fictitious companies, The Associated Press has learned.

The AP traced at least 50 aircraft back to the FBI, and identified more than 100 flights in 11 states over a 30-day period since late April, orbiting both major cities and rural areas. At least 115 planes, including 90 Cessna aircraft, were mentioned in a federal budget document from 2009.

For decades, the planes have provided support to FBI surveillance operations on the ground. But now the aircraft are equipped with high-tech cameras, and in rare circumstances, technology capable of tracking thousands of cellphones, raising questions about how these surveillance flights affect Americans’ privacy.

“It’s important that federal law enforcement personnel have the tools they need to find and catch criminals,” said Charles Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “But whenever an operation may also monitor the activities of Americans who are not the intended target, we must make darn sure that safeguards are in place to protect the civil liberties of innocent Americans.”

By Tom Hall in the USA:

FBI director admits use of spy planes over Ferguson and Baltimore

26 October 2015

FBI Director James Comey admitted in testimony last week before the House Judiciary Committee that the agency conducted surveillance flights over mass protests against police brutality in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland over the past year, at the request of local police departments. Comey’s remarks confirmed an earlier Associated Press report revealing the FBI’s extensive use of secret flyovers throughout the country.

The hearing itself, mislabeled as being dedicated to the “Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” was a further indication of the ability of government agencies like the FBI to carry out illegal mass surveillance against the American population with impunity. Comey contradicted himself at key points through his testimony, which the members of the Committee allowed to pass without comment.

He absurdly claimed in his testimony that the FBI’s flyovers are not used for “mass surveillance,” but only to track specific individuals targeted by an investigation, despite the obvious fact that low-flying, camera-equipped aircraft are ideally suited to follow large numbers of people simultaneously over a wide area. As the ACLU noted recently on its website, new technologies that are now commercially available to police departments nationwide can monitor an area of 25 square miles from low-circling aircraft.

Comey subsequently contradicted this claim when he effectively admitted that the FBI’s spy planes were deployed to Ferguson and Baltimore to spy on the protests as a whole and not specific individuals. “If there is tremendous turbulence in a community, it’s useful to everybody, civilians and law enforcement, to have a view of what’s going on,” Comey told the Committee. “Where are the fires in this community? Where are people gathering ? Where do people need help? And sometimes the best view of that is above rather than trying to look from a car on the street (emphasis added).”

In fact, the federal government closely coordinated with state and local police from day one in both Ferguson and Baltimore in directing the military-style crackdown on largely peaceful protesters. Leading Washington officials, including Barack Obama and then-Attorney General Eric Holder, lent their voices to the demonization of protesters in order to legitimize the use of violence against them. There can be no doubt that the FBI, an organization with a long history of political repression against dissident groups, was intimately involved at the highest levels in the direction of the crackdown.

Comey then explained under direct questioning that the agency does not obtain warrants before carrying out flyovers, because, as he claimed, “We are not collecting the content of anybody’s communication or engaging anything besides following someone in that investigation … The law is pretty clear that you don’t need a warrant for that kind of observation.” However, Comey later admitted to the Committee that at least some FBI planes are also equipped with “Stingray” technology, which mimics cell phone towers in order to fool nearby phones into establishing connections with it, enabling police to monitor communications and track users’ whereabouts.

Although the Justice Department changed its internal policy last month to require the FBI and other agencies to obtain search warrants before using “Stingray” devices, state and local police are able to use their own devices, subsidized by the federal government, with complete secrecy and without even token oversight. Furthermore, while a recent Justice Department memo banned agencies from using drones “solely for the purpose of monitoring activities protected by the First Amendment,” this restriction does not apply to manned aircraft such as those operated by the FBI.

Comey’s claim of a limited scope for surveillance does not square with the extraordinary level of secrecy surrounding the program. The Associated Press story this June, which first revealed the FBI’s use of surveillance flights, traced over 50 aircraft to shell companies set up by the bureau throughout the country, and found that the agency had conducted more than 100 flights in 11 states during a one-month span this spring.

The AP found that some flights circled “large, enclosed buildings,” such as malls and airports, “where aerial photography would be less effective than electronic signals collection,” suggesting the use of “Stingray” technology.

Furthermore, numerous flyovers have been observed in Dearborn, Michigan, a Detroit suburb with the country’s largest Arab-American community and which has been subjected to routine harassment by local and federal police since the September 11th attacks.

Comey’s frank admission of the FBI’s use of aerial surveillance was met with hardly a word of protest from the members of the House Judiciary Committee, ostensibly tasked with overseeing the activities of the federal police. Neither Comey’s claim that the FBI planes were not conducting “mass surveillance” in Ferguson nor his argument that such flights did not require a warrant were challenged by the Committee. Instead, members of the Committee competed with one another in showering Comey and his organization with fawning praise.

The day following his testimony before Congress, Comey gave a speech at the University of Chicago Law School in which he attempted to pin the blame on a supposed rise in crime rates on the increased public scrutiny of police in the aftermath of the Michael Brown killing last year. Comey was in Chicago in advance of this week’s conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

“I don’t know whether that explains it entirely, but I do have a strong sense that some part of the explanation is a chill wind that has blown through American law enforcement over the last year,” Comey said. “I’ve been told by a senior police leader who urged his force to remember that their political leadership has no tolerance for a viral video … Lives are saved when those potential killers are confronted by a police officer, a strong police presence and actual, honest-to-goodness, up-close ‘What are you guys doing on this corner at 1 o’clock in the morning’ policing. We need to be careful it doesn’t drift away from us in the age of viral videos, or there will be profound consequences.”

The theory that a spike in violent crime nationwide in US cities is due in part to fear on the part of police that their activities will be recorded by hostile bystanders and posted on Youtube, known as the “Ferguson Effect,” has no basis in fact.

In the first place, there is no evidence that, outside of a few municipalities, there has been a statistically meaningful spike in violent crime in the United States at all. Second, the claim that police are legitimately concerned that they could face punishment if videos of their activity were recorded does not hold water when even officers who have been filmed committing acts of murder have not been disciplined, let alone arrested and charged with a crime. Finally, the only significant slowdowns in arrest rates this year have been due to work slowdowns, such as those organized in New York City and Baltimore, directed against city administrations deemed to be insufficiently fervent in their defense of the police.

Instead, the Ferguson Effect “theory” is a politically-motivated slander against police brutality protesters designed to portray police as victims and shield their activities from scrutiny. It has been most heavily promoted by right-wing demagogues and officials of local police unions. Even the New York Times, which functions as a compliant mouthpiece for the American state, was compelled to admit in its reporting of Comey’s remarks that the existence of a “Ferguson Effect” was “far from settled.”

The decision by Comey to publically solidarize himself with the arguments of the far-right was allegedly a source of some embarrassment to the Obama administration (the Times cited unnamed officials who “privately fumed” at Comey’s remarks).

If Comey felt secure in scapegoating police brutality protesters the day after he confirmed that the FBI conducted surveillance against them, it is because he knows his agency is subjected to virtually no democratic restraints.

WHITE HOUSE DISAGREES WITH FBI DIRECTOR ON SOURCE OF CRIME WAVE “The White House on Monday slammed FBI Director James Comey’s notion that pervasive cellphone footage featuring police actions has led to an uptick in violent crime.” [Nick Visser, HuffPost]

In two recent speeches in Chicago, FBI Director James Comey has asserted that police anxiety in “the era of viral videos” is partially responsible for a rise in violent crime in many big US cities: here.

FBI Director James Comey’s apology for police murder: here.

United States ‘security’ spying on Ferguson demonstrators


This video from the USA says about itself:

Ferguson Activists Ashley Yates & Tory Russell: The System Wasn’t Made To Protect Us

15 October 2014

Ferguson activists Ashley Yates of Millennial Activists United and Tory Russell of Hands Up United stop by GlobalGrind to discuss how the youth are leading the movement to end police violence and how politicians working with a broken system that doesn’t value black lives aren’t the ones effecting change.

By Jason Leopold in the USA:

The DHS Planned to ‘Plug’ Federal Officers Into the Ferguson Protests, Documents Show

July 21, 2015 | 9:15 pm

As the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri considered whether to indict police officer Darren Wilson over the shooting death last August of unarmed African American teenager Michael Brown, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was working on a plan to “plug” federal officers into protests to “perform surveillance” and “collect intelligence in the crowd.”

The disclosure is contained in more than 700 pages of documents VICE News obtained from DHS in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, and comes just a couple of weeks before the one-year anniversary of Brown’s death, which helped spark national debate about the targeting of African Americans by police.

It’s unclear, however, whether DHS executed the plan. Some information in the documents was withheld on grounds that it would reveal law enforcement techniques, procedures, and trade secrets, or potentially endanger the life of an individual, DHS said.

Kade Crockford, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union‘s Technology for Liberty project, told VICE News that sending officers into protests “to spy on dissidents is both relatively routine and extremely problematic.”

“The First Amendment protects our right to criticize the government and agitate for social and political change, and this kind of law enforcement activity directly threatens that right,” she said. “DHS’s choice to spend taxpayer dollars spying on today’s black civil rights activists shows that federal law enforcement continues to view black people’s demands for basic rights and equality as somehow threatening.

“Congress or inspectors general of the FBI and DHS should investigate how federal law enforcement agencies have been spending precious government resources keeping track of activists. The results of such investigations should be made public so we have a more complete picture of how and where the Feds are dedicating funds and staff to monitoring black dissidents in the wake of Ferguson.”

Protesters raised concerns at the time on social media about the presence of DHS vehicles at the protests. It is not uncommon for DHS and other federal law enforcement agencies to keep tabs on protests, particularly in cities where federal buildings and parks are located (St. Louis has both). But it has become increasingly clear over the years, internal government documents show, that federal law enforcement also views such high-profile protests as a possible breeding ground for domestic terrorist activity and a good source of intelligence.

The deployment of DHS officers to Ferguson and St. Louis was a reunion of sorts. “Looks like we are working together again,” one officer remarked to another in an email. “Long time since [Hurricane] Katrina. LOL.”

The cache of documents, although heavily redacted, reveal that DHS had stocked up on batons and shields due to concerns that protests could quickly turn violent in the aftermath of the grand jury’s decision. Officers who were being deployed to Missouri were required to go through new “training” to learn how to handle themselves if riots broke out. The documents also reveal that DHS suspected that its operational plans for confronting the protests would attract negative attention from the public and the media.

The fears of riots were so heightened that DHS officials barred officers from scheduling vacation and taking time off in order to make certain personnel could be present and on call in Ferguson.

In an attempt to thwart the release of information, an employee with DHS’s National Protection and Programs Directorate distributed an email on November 11, 2014 reminding personnel to mark all electronic communications “for official use only” because of “recent events and FOIA requests.” (Though “for official use only” is not an official security classification, government agencies use it as a protective marking to exempt documents from public disclosure.) DHS personnel were also instructed to be mindful of their own social media posts about the protests and Brown’s death, as they could be a “hindrance or burden if the wrong thing is said/typed.”

The emails also reveal that in anticipation of a grand jury decision, the deputy assistant director of the FBI’s Security Division made a decision to deploy dozens of “FBI police officers” to St. Louis to “enhance the protection of the FBI St. Louis Field Office.”

FBI police officers are different than FBI agents. The police officers are uniformed members of the bureau who are tasked with protecting FBI facilities; they have limited law enforcement powers.

“The deployed FBI police will only be responsible for the protection of their facility,” said a November 6, 2014 email whose sender’s name was redacted. But DHS also provided the FBI with a “short-term (30-day) Delegation of Law Enforcement Authority to provide the deployed FBI Police Officers with legal authority should they become involved in a law enforcement action.”

The documents reveal that DHS received “intelligence” — largely based on a Fox News report — and subsequently investigated claims that Muslims had “co-opted” the protests in Ferguson.

“Have you seen this line of reporting before?” a Federal Protective Service employee wrote in a November 18, 2014 email. “Do you think Ferguson is becoming attractive to [redacted, though likely a reference to a terrorist group]? Any insight would be appreciated.”

The Fox News report focused on how the Council of American and Islamic Relations (CAIR) was trying to raise awareness about the 2009 shooting death of Luqman Ameen Abdullah, an imam at a Detroit mosque. The right-wing think tank Center for Security Policy alleged in a report, which Fox News cited, that Muslim groups like CAIR had “ulterior motives” for joining in the protests.

The documents do not reveal how DHS followed up on the claim.

The Department of Homeland Security has been monitoring the Black Lives Matter movement since anti-police protests erupted in Ferguson, Missouri last summer, according to hundreds of documents obtained by The Intercept through a Freedom of Information Act request: here.

USA: Members of the National Bar Association called on black lawyers to advocate for victims and protesters of police brutality by representing them in civil cases and pushing for reforms of the criminal justice system: here.

FBI false evidence in the USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

The FBI vs. Martin Luther King: Inside J. Edgar Hoover‘s “Suicide Letter” to Civil Rights Leader

18 November 2014

It was 50 years ago today that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover made headlines by calling Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. the “most notorious liar in the country.” Hoover made the comment in front of a group of female journalists ahead of King’s trip to Oslo where he received the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, becoming the youngest recipient of the prize.

While Hoover was trying to publicly discredit King, the agency also sent King an anonymous letter threatening to expose the civil rights leader’s extramarital affairs. The unsigned, typed letter was written in the voice of a disillusioned civil rights activist, but it is believed to have been written by one of Hoover’s deputies, William Sullivan.

The letter concluded by saying, “King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. … You are done. There is but one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation.” The existence of the so-called “suicide letter” has been known for years, but only last week did the public see the unredacted version. We speak to Yale University professor Beverly Gage, who uncovered the unredacted letter.

By Kate Randall in the USA:

US admits FBI falsified evidence to obtain convictions

20 April 2015

The US Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that over a more than two-decade period before 2000, nearly every FBI examiner gave flawed forensic hair testimony in almost all trials of criminal defendants reviewed so far, according to a report in the Washington Post.

The cases examined include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death, 14 of whom have been either executed or died in prison. The scandal raises the very real probability that innocent people have been sent to their deaths, and that many more wrongfully convicted are languishing on death rows across the US due to FBI analysts’ fraudulent testimony.

Testimony involving pattern-based forensic techniques—such as hair, bite-mark, and tire track comparisons—has contributed to wrongful convictions in more than a quarter of the 329 defendants’ cases that have been exonerated in the US since 1989. In their pursuit of convictions prosecutors across the country have often relied on FBI analysts’ overstated testimony on hair samples, incorrectly citing them as definitive proof of a defendant’s guilt.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project are assisting the government in the nation’s largest post-conviction review of the FBI’s questioned forensic evidence. The groups determined that 26 of 28 examiners in the elite FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far.

The nation’s courts have allowed the bogus testimony, masquerading as definitive scientific evidence of defendants’ guilt, to railroad innocent people and consign them to decades in prison, life in prison, or death row and the execution chamber.

Federal authorities launched an investigation in 2012 after a Post examination found that flawed forensic hair matches might have led to the convictions of hundreds of potentially innocent people nationwide since at least the 1970s. Defendants in these cases were typically charged with murder, rape and other violent crimes.

The scandal involves about 2,500 cases in which FBI examiners gave testimony involving hair matches. Hair examination is a pattern-based forensic technique. It involves subjective examination of characteristics such as color, thickness and length and compares them to a known source.

There is no accepted scientific research on how often hair from different people may appear the same, and any hair “matches” must be confirmed by DNA analysis. However, the Post ’s 2012 review found that FBI experts systematically testified to the near-certainty of matches of hair found at crime scenes to the hair samples of defendants. The FBI gave flawed forensic testimony in 257 of the 268 trials examined so far.

In 2002, a decade before the Post review, the FBI reported that its own DNA testing revealed that examiners reported false hair matches more than 11 percent of the time.

In Washington, DC, the only jurisdiction where defenders and prosecutors have carried out an investigation into all convictions based on FBI hair testimony, five of seven defendants whose trials included flawed hair evidence have been exonerated since 2009 based on either DNA testing or court appeals. All of them served 20 to 30 years in prison for rape or murder.

In an interview with the Post, University of Virginia law professor Brandon L. Garrett said the results of the DC investigation reveal a “mass disaster” inside the criminal justice system. “The tools don’t exist to handle systematic errors in our criminal justice system,” he said.

Those exonerated since 2009 in DC include:

* Donald Eugene Gates was incarcerated for 28 years for the rape and murder of a Georgetown University student. He was ordered released in December 2009 by a DC Superior Court Judge after DNA evidence revealed that another man committed the crime. The prosecution relied heavily on the testimony of an FBI analyst, who falsely linked two hairs from an African-American mail to Gates.

* Kirk L. Odom was wrongfully imprisoned for more than 22 years for a 1981 rape and murder. He completed his prison term in 2003, but it was not until July 2012 that DNA evidence exonerated him of the crimes. A DC Superior Court order freed him from remaining on parole until 2047 and registering as a sex offender.

* Santae A. Tribble was convicted in the 1978 killing of a DC taxi driver. An FBI examiner testifying at Tribble’s trial said he had microscopically matched the defendant’s hair to one found in a stocking near the crime scene. In 2012, DNA tests on the same hair excluded him as the perpetrator, clearing the way for his exoneration.

Federal authorities are offering new DNA testing in those cases where FBI analysts gave flawed forensic testimony. However, in some 700 of the 2,500 cases identified by the FBI for review, police or prosecutors have not responded to requests for trial transcripts or other information. Biological evidence is also not always available, having been lost or destroyed in the years since trial.

Although defense attorneys argue that scientifically invalid testimony should be considered a violation of due process, only the states of California and Texas specifically allow appeals when experts recant their testimony or scientific advances undermine forensic evidence given at trial.

In a statement responding to the new scandal’s eruption, the FBI and Justice Department vowed that they are “committed to ensuring that affected defendants are notified of past errors and that justice is done in every instance” and that are “also committed to ensuring the accuracy of future hair analysis, as well as the application of all disciplines of forensic science.”

The scandal over fraudulent testimony, however, only reveals the corrupt and anti-democratic character of the US prison system as a whole. The United States locks behind bars a greater proportion of its population than any other country, topped off by the barbaric death penalty that is supported by the entire political establishment.

Thirty years in jail for a single hair: the FBI’s ‘mass disaster’ of false conviction. A ‘dirty bomb’ of pseudo-science wrapped up nearly 268 cases – perhaps hundreds more. Now begins the ‘herculean effort to right the wrongs’: here.

Missouri man executed after faulty hair testimony was convicted in St. Louis County: here.

African American writers spied upon by FBI for decades


This video from the USa says about itself:

This is a poetry reading of Claude McKay‘s poems “If We Must Die” and “The White House.”

Reading done by spoken word artist Cynthia Nicole Giles.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

FBI monitored and critiqued African American writers for decades

A new book reveals the extent to which J Edgar Hoover’s bureau kept files on well-known black writers between 1919 and 1972

Newly declassified documents from the FBI reveal how the US federal agency under J Edgar Hoover monitored the activities of dozens of prominent African American writers for decades, devoting thousands of pages to detailing their activities and critiquing their work.

Academic William Maxwell first stumbled upon the extent of the surveillance when he submitted a freedom of information request for the FBI file of Claude McKay. The Jamaican-born writer was a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance, author of the sonnet If We Must Die, supposedly recited by Winston Churchill, and Maxwell was preparing an edition of his complete poems. When the file came through from the FBI, it stretched to 193 pages and, said Maxwell, revealed “that the bureau had closely read and aggressively chased McKay” – describing him as a “notorious negro revolutionary” – “all across the Atlantic world, and into Moscow”.

Maxwell, associate professor of English and African American studies at Washington University in St Louis, decided to investigate further, knowing that other scholars had already found files on well-known black writers such as Langston Hughes and James Baldwin. He made 106 freedom of information requests about what he describes as “noteworthy Afro-modernists” to the FBI; 51 of those writers had files, ranging from three to 1,884 pages each.

“I suspected there would be more than a few,” said Maxwell. “I knew Hoover was especially impressed and worried by the busy crossroads of black protest, leftwing politics, and literary potential. But I was surprised to learn that the FBI had read, monitored, and ‘filed’ nearly half of the nationally prominent African American authors working from 1919 (Hoover’s first year at the Bureau, and the first year of the Harlem Renaissance) to 1972 (the year of Hoover’s death and the peak of the nationalist Black Arts movement). In this, I realised, the FBI had outdone most every other major institution of US literary study, only fitfully concerned with black writing.”

Maxwell’s book about his discovery, FB Eyes: How J Edgar Hoover’s Ghostreaders Framed African American Literature, is out on 18 February from Princeton University Press. It argues that the FBI’s attention was fuelled by Hoover’s “personal fascination with black culture”, that “the FBI is perhaps the most dedicated and influential forgotten critic of African American literature”, and that “African American literature is characterised by a deep awareness of FBI ghostreading”.

Princeton said that while it is well known that Hoover was hostile to Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, Maxwell’s forthcoming book is the first exposé of “the extent to which the FBI monitored and influenced African American writing” between 1919 and 1972.

Taking its title from Richard Wright’s 1949 poem The FB Eye Blues, in which the Native Son novelist writes that “every place I look, Lord / I find FB eyes / I’m getting sick and tired of gover’ment spies”, the work also posits that for some authors, suspicion of the surveillance prompted creative replies.

Digital copies of 49 of the FBI files have been made available to the public online. “The collected files of the entire set of authors comprise 13,892 pages, or the rough equivalent of 46 300-page PhD theses,” Maxwell writes in the book. “FBI ghostreaders genuinely rivalled the productivity of their academic counterparts.”

The academic told the Guardian that he believes the FBI monitoring stems from the fact that “from the beginning of his tenure at the FBI … Hoover was exercised by what he saw as an emerging alliance between black literacy and black radicalism”.

“Then there’s the fact that many later African American writers were allied, at one time or another, with socialist and communist politics in the US,” he added, with Wright and WEB Du Bois both becoming Communist Party members, Hughes a “major party sympathiser”, and McKay “toasted by Trotsky and published in Russian as a significant Marxist theorist”.

The files show how the travel arrangements of black writers were closely scrutinised by the FBI, with the passport records of a long list of authors “combed for scraps of criminal behaviour and ‘derogatory information’”, writes Maxwell. Some writers were threatened by “‘stops’, instructions to advise and defer to the Bureau if a suspect tried to pass through a designated point of entry” to the US.

When McKay went to the Soviet Union, a “stop notice” instructed that the poet should be held for “appropriate attention” if he attempted to re-enter the US. In Baltimore, writes Maxwell, FBI agents “paraded their seriousness in a bulletin sent straight to Hoover, boasting of a clued-in ‘Local Police Department’ on the ‘lookout’ for one ‘Claude McKay (colored)’ (23 Mar. 1923)”.

They also reveal how, with the help of informers, the agency reviewed works such as Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man before publication.

“What did the FBI learn from these dossiers? Several things,” said Maxwell. “Where African American writers were travelling, especially during their expatriate adventures in Europe, Africa, and Latin America. What they were publishing, even while it was still in press.” In the 1950s, he said, the FBI aspired to “a foreknowledge of American publishing so deep that literary threats to the FBI’s reputation could be seen before their public appearance”.

The bureau also considered “whether certain African Americans should be allowed government jobs and White House visits, in the cases of the most fortunate”, and “what the leading minds of black America were thinking, and would be thinking”.

But, he added, “the files also show that some FBI spy-critics couldn’t help from learning that they liked reading the stuff, for simple aesthetic reasons”.