Category Archives: Civil Rights

When can police use drug dogs?

In Illinois v. Caballes, the Supreme Court ruled that police do not need reasonable suspicion to use drug dogs to sniff a vehicle during a legitimate traffic stop.

This decision stems from the case of Roy Caballes, who was pulled over for speeding and subsequently arrested for marijuana trafficking after a drug dog was brought to the scene and alerted on his vehicle. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed his conviction, finding that a drug sniff was unreasonable without evidence of a crime other than speeding.

But in a 6-2 ruling, the Court held that the Fourth Amendment is not implicated when police use a dog sniff during the course of a legal traffic stop. Justice Stevens wrote the Opinion of the Court, finding that since dog sniffs only identify the presence of illegal items — in which citizens have no legitimate privacy interest — the Fourth Amendment does not apply to their use.

What this ruling means for you

The Caballes ruling authorizes police to walk a drug dog around the vehicle during any legitimate traffic stop. If the dog signals that it smells drugs, police then have probable cause to conduct a search.

However, the ruling does not allow police to detain you indefinitely until dogs arrive. The legitimacy of the traffic stop still depends on its duration. Basically, if police can’t bring a dog to the scene in the time it takes to run your tags and write a ticket, the use of the dog becomes constitutionally suspect. So if you’re pulled over and police threaten to call in the dogs, you are not required to consent to searches.

Usually, the officer won’t have a police dog on hand and he needs reasonable suspicion to detain you while waiting for the drug dog. Before the dog arrives, you have the right to determine if you can leave by asking “Officer, am I free to go?” If the officer refuses and detains you until the dogs come, you have the right to remain silent and refuse to consent to any searches.

If a dog arrives, you have the right to refuse to consent to a dog sniff, even if the officer claims you have to. Be aware that unlocking your car at the officer’s request or handing the officer your keys is the same as consenting to a search. You always have the right to refuse by stating “Officer, I don’t consent to any searches.” (Repeat, if necessary.)

If a judge determines that the officer had no justification to detain you until the dog arrived, any evidence discovered by the dog may be thrown out in court.

What this ruling does not do

Caballes does not constitute a significant change in the constitutionality of dog sniffs. This case essentially clarifies previous rulings in which the Court was reluctant to apply the Fourth Amendment to the use of drug dogs.

The ruling also does not apply to the use of police dogs in situations other than legitimate traffic stops. For example, suspicionless dog sniffs in parking lots or on sidewalks are not authorized by Caballes, and the Court has found random drug checkpoints unconstitutional. Nonetheless, the Court’s “no privacy interest in contraband” doctrine is a nasty one, but it might open up possibilities for future legal challenges.

Possible legal challenges to Caballes

The Supreme Court recently agreed to hear a case that casts doubt on the effectiveness of drug dogs to generate probable cause for a vehicle search. In Florida v. Harris, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that a drug dog’s reliability record must also be considered to determine probable cause.

The case will provide long-due scrutiny to the legal assumption that dogs are reliable contraband indicators. In their dissenting opinion of Caballes, Justices Souter and Ginsburg pointed to studies showing that drug dogs frequently return false positives (12.5-60% of the time, according to one study). A recent Chicago Tribune field study revealed that drug dogs are more often wrong than they are right when alerting for drugs in vehicles. (Worse, police often train their dogs to falsely “alert” on suspected vehicles.)

A high court ruling in favor of Harris would effectively overturn Caballes, because a dog “alert” would no longer be enough to justify a vehicle search.

Medical marijuana and the murkiness of “contraband”

17 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of medical marijuana for citizens with a doctor’s recommendation. As such, the Caballes “contraband” distinction fails in states such as California or Colorado where hundreds of thousands of people are legally authorized to possess and use it.

After all, if police dogs are regularly alerting on substances that are no longer illegal, that flips the ”no privacy interest in contraband” doctrine on its head. For example, a vehicle search resulting from a drug dog alerting for marijuana in Mendocino or Boulder is unconstitutional under Caballes. The odor of marijuana can no longer be probable cause, because prior to the search it’s impossible for an officer (or a drug dog) to know whether or not the detected marijuana is contraband or not.

While this defense might not work in federal courts — which have yet to recognize the legal standing of medical marijuana — it could be used to challenge dog searches in states that have legalized medical marijuana.

DHS checkpoints

Are you an American Citizen is that a reason to stop you?


Know Your Rights When Encountering Law Enforcement

Know Your Rights

If government agents question you, it is important to understand your rights. You should be careful about what you say when approached by federal, state or local law enforcement officials. If you give answers, they can be used against you in a criminal, immigration, or civil case.

Over the past two years, the FBI, for example, has significantly increased its use of “voluntary” interviews – especially within specific racial, ethnic, and religious communities – often encouraging interviewees to serve as informants in their communities.

The ACLU’s Know Your Rights booklet provides effective and useful guidance in a user-friendly question and answer format. The booklet addresses what rights you have when you are stopped, questioned, arrested, or searched by federal, state or local law enforcement officers. This booklet is for citizens and non-citizens with extra information for non-citizens in a separate section. Another section covers what can happen to you at airports and other points of entry into the United States. The last section discusses concerns you may have related to your charitable contributions and religious or political beliefs. The booklet tells you about your basic rights. It is not a substitute for legal advice. You should contact an attorney if you have been arrested or believe that your rights have been violated.


This free booklet is available in English, Spanish, French, Arabic, Urdu, and Farsi. Booklets in these languages are available for download below.

Booklet broken down into its six parts
> Questioning
> Stops and Arrests
> Searches and Warrants
> Additional information for non-citizens
> Rights at airports and other ports of entry into the United States
> Charitable donations and religious practices

Know Your Rights: What To Do If You’re Stopped By Police, Immigration Agents or the FBI

We rely on the police to keep us safe and treat us all fairly, regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin or religion. This card provides tips for interacting with police and understanding your rights.

Note: Some state laws may vary. Separate rules apply at checkpoints and when entering the U.S. (including at airports).

– You have the right to remain silent. If you wish to exercise that right, say so out loud.
– You have the right to refuse to consent to a search of yourself, your car or your home.
– If you are not under arrest, you have the right to calmly leave.
– You have the right to a lawyer if you are arrested. Ask for one immediately.
– Regardless of your immigration or citizenship status, you have constitutional rights.

– Do stay calm and be polite.
– Do not interfere with or obstruct the police.
– Do not lie or give false documents.
– Do prepare yourself and your family in case you are arrested.
– Do remember the details of the encounter.
– Do file a written complaint or call your local ACLU if you feel your rights have been violated.

If You Are


Stay calm. Don’t run. Don’t argue, resist or obstruct the police, even if you are innocent or police are violating your rights. Keep your hands where police can see them.
Ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says yes, calmly and silently walk away. If you are under arrest, you have a right to know why.
You have the right to remain silent and cannot be punished for refusing to answer questions. If you wish to remain silent, tell the officer out loud. In some states, you must give your name if asked to identify yourself.
You do not have to consent to a search of yourself or your belongings, but police may “pat down” your clothing if they suspect a weapon. You should not physically resist, but you have the right to refuse consent for any further search. If you do consent, it can affect you later in court.

Stop the car in a safe place as quickly as possible. Turn off the car, turn on the internal light, open the window part way and place your hands on the wheel.
Upon request, show police your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance.
If an officer or immigration agent asks to look inside your car, you can refuse to consent to the search. But if police believe your car contains evidence of a crime, your car can be searched without your consent.
Both drivers and passengers have the right to remain silent. If you are a passenger, you can ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says yes, sit silently or calmly leave. Even if the officer says no, you have the right to remain silent.

You have the right to remain silent and do not have to discuss your immigration or citizenship status with police, immigration agents or any other officials. You do not have to answer questions about where you were born, whether you are a U.S. citizen, or how you entered the country. (Separate rules apply at international borders and airports, and for individuals on certain nonimmigrant visas, including tourists and business travelers.)
If you are not a U.S. citizen and an immigration agent requests your immigration papers, you must show them if you have them with you. If you are over 18, carry your immigration documents with you at all times. If you do not have immigration papers, say you want to remain silent.
Do not lie about your citizenship status or provide fake documents.

If the police or immigration agents come to your home, you do not have to let them in unless they have certain kinds of warrants.
Ask the officer to slip the warrant under the door or hold it up to the window so you can inspect it. A search warrant allows police to enter the address listed on the warrant, but officers can only search the areas and for the items listed. An arrest warrant allows police to enter the home of the person listed on the warrant if they believe the person is inside. A warrant of removal/deportation (ICE warrant) does not allow officers to enter a home without consent.
Even if officers have a warrant, you have the right to remain silent. If you choose to speak to the officers, step outside and close the door.

If an FBI agent comes to your home or workplace, you do not have to answer any questions. Tell the agent you want to speak to a lawyer first.
If you are asked to meet with FBI agents for an interview, you have the right to say you do not want to be interviewed. If you agree to an interview, have a lawyer present. You do not have to answer any questions you feel uncomfortable answering, and can say that you will only answer questions on a specific topic.

Do not resist arrest, even if you believe the arrest is unfair.
Say you wish to remain silent and ask for a lawyer immediately. Don’t give any explanations or excuses. If you can’t pay for a lawyer, you have the right to a free one. Don’t say anything, sign anything or make any decisions without a lawyer.
You have the right to make a local phone call. The police cannot listen if you call a lawyer.
Prepare yourself and your family in case you are arrested. Memorize the phone numbers of your family and your lawyer. Make emergency plans if you have children or take medication.
Special considerations for non-citizens:
– Ask your lawyer about the effect of a criminal conviction or plea on your immigration status.
– Don’t discuss your immigration status with anyone but your lawyer.
– While you are in jail, an immigration agent may visit you. Do not answer questions or sign anything before talking to a lawyer.
– Read all papers fully. If you do not understand or cannot read the papers, tell the officer you need an interpreter.

You have the right to a lawyer, but the government does not have to provide one for you. If you do not have a lawyer, ask for a list of free or low-cost legal services.
You have the right to contact your consulate or have an officer inform the consulate of your arrest.
Tell the ICE agent you wish to remain silent. Do not discuss your immigration status with anyone but your lawyer.
Do not sign anything, such as a voluntary departure or stipulated removal, without talking to a lawyer. If you sign, you may be giving up your opportunity to try to stay in the U.S.
Remember your immigration number (“A” number) and give it to your family. It will help family members locate you.
Keep a copy of your immigration documents with someone you trust.

Remember: police misconduct cannot be challenged on the street. Don’t physically resist officers or threaten to file a complaint.
Write down everything you remember, including officers’ badge and patrol car numbers, which agency the officers were from, and any other details. Get contact information for witnesses. If you are injured, take photographs of your injuries (but seek medical attention first).
File a written complaint with the agency’s internal affairs division or civilian complaint board. In most cases, you can file a complaint anonymously if you wish.
Call your local ACLU or visit

This information is not intended as legal advice.
Produced by the American Civil Liberties Union 6/2010


This cop here just may a false traffic stop, lied about probable cause and issued a ticket on a lie. Why is that they are trusted and their word is better than yours? The courts system is broke and does not work because we have dishonesty cops. Every ticket should have to show video of the violation, then you will see less dirty traffic stops. Whoever this cops is he should be fired. Video courtesy of

DUI checkpoint video show the truth about COPS violating people’s rights and how they lie

See here is where the issues lie, cops do illegal searches and seizures everyday, no can catch them doing because because they use their power to hide, lie, destroy evidence of their wrong doings. During this video we need for the media to come out from behind there certain which they are hiding behind and catch them and then play it on the news like they do with everyone else.

I don’t trust cops one bit because they are just like everyone else. There is good and bad in every company or organization out there. The reason we don’t catch more cops is because they do this right here. This video clearly shows they violate people’s rights, lie about it, hide off camera, and cover it up. All while wearing their badges and uniforms. Protect yourself how ever you can from Police who feel it is ok to violate people’s rights.

New Jersey Supreme Court Restricts Police Searches of Phone Data

Staking out new ground in the noisy debate about technology and privacy in law enforcement, the New Jersey Supreme Court on Thursday ordered that the police will now have to get a search warrant before obtaining tracking information from cellphone providers.

The ruling puts the state at the forefront of efforts to define the boundaries around a law enforcement practice that a national survey last year showed was routine, and typically done without court oversight or public awareness. With lower courts divided on the use of cellphone tracking data, legal experts say, the issue is likely to end up before the United States Supreme Court.

The New Jersey decision also underscores the extent of the battles over government intrusion into personal data in a quickly advancing digital age, from small town police departments to the National Security Agency’s surveillanceof e-mail and cellphone conversations.

Several states and Congress are considering legislation to require that warrants based on probable cause be obtained before investigators can get cellphone data. Montana recently became the first state to pass such a measure into law. The California Legislature approved a similar bill in 2012, but Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed it, saying it did not “strike the right balance” between the needs of law enforcement and the rights of citizens.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled in May that the police could seize a cellphone without a warrant, but needed a warrant to search it. And a case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va., is weighing whether investigators acted legally when they got a court order, but not a warrant, to obtain 221 days of cellphone location data for suspects in an armed robbery case in Maryland.

“This type of issue will play out in many jurisdictions for the simple reason that cellphones are so prevalent in daily life,” said Peter G. Verniero, a former New Jersey attorney general and State Supreme Court justice. “The decision affects just about everybody.”

“Law enforcement is trying to keep up with technology, as well they should,” he added. “It’s very legitimate for law enforcement to use technology, but this court decision is a strong reminder that constitutional standards still apply. The courts have to adapt, and law enforcement has to adapt.”

The ruling involved a case that began with a string of burglaries in homes in Middletown, N.J. A court ordered the tracing of a cellphone that had been stolen from one home, which led to a man in a bar in nearby Asbury Park, who said his cousin had sold him the phone, and had been involved in burglaries. The police then used data they got from T-Mobile to locate the suspect, Thomas W. Earls, at three points on a subsequent evening, tracking him to a motel room where he was found with a television and suitcases full of stolen goods.

In a unanimous decision, the State Supreme Court said that when people entered cellphone contracts, “they can reasonably expect that their personal information will remain private.”

The justices recognized that this departed somewhat from federal case law. But they relied in part on a United States Supreme Court decision last year that the police could not attach a Global Positioning System to a suspect’s car without a warrant. A cellphone, the New Jersey justices said, was like a GPS device.

“Using a cellphone to determine the location of its owner can be far more revealing than acquiring toll billing, bank, or Internet subscriber records,” said the opinion, written by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. “Details about the location of a cellphone can provide an intimate picture of one’s daily life and reveal not just where people go — which doctors, religious services and stores they visit — but also the people and groups they choose to affiliate with. That information cuts across a broad range of personal ties with family, friends, political groups, health care providers and others.”

Besides establishing a firmer legal bar for the police to obtain cellphone data, the Supreme Court also remanded the case to the appeals court to determine whether the evidence collected using the cellphone records could be admitted in court under an “emergency aid exception” to the requirement for a warrant.

Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union reviewed records from more than 200 local police departments, large and small, and found that they were aggressively using cellphone tracking data, so much so that some cellphone companies were marketing a catalog of “surveillance fees” to police departments, to track suspects or even to download text messages sent to a phone that had been turned off. Departments were using the information for emergency and nonemergency cases.

Some departments had manuals advising officers not to reveal the practice to the public. Others defended its use. The police in Grand Rapids, Mich., for example, had used a cellphone locator to find a stabbing victim who was in a basement hiding from his attacker.

The law has been slow to keep up. The Florida decision in May rejected the reasoning of a lower court that had based its approval of cellphone tracking on a 1973 United States Supreme Court case that allowed heroin found in a suspect’s cigarette pack to be introduced as evidence. “Attempting to correlate a crumpled package of cigarettes to the cellphones of today is like comparing a one-cell organism to a human being,” the decision said.

Nationally, court decisions about cellphone tracking have considered whether it comports with the Fourth Amendment, which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures. But the justices in New Jersey based their decision on the State Constitution, which affords greater privacy protection. The state court has previously ruled in favor of electronic privacy. In 2008, it said that police had to obtain a subpoena from a grand jury to obtain Internet provider records.

“The inescapable logic of this decision should be influential beyond New Jersey because it makes complete sense as to an individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy,” said Rubin Sinins, who filed a friend of the court brief on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union and the New Jersey Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Source: The New York Times

NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily

Exclusive: Top secret court order requiring Verizon to hand over all call data shows scale of domestic surveillance under Obama

• Read the Verizon court order in full here
• Obama administration justifies surveillance

The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America’s largesttelecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.

The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an “ongoing, daily basis” to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.

The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.

The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19.

Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered. Read more> 

America’s surveillance state: anger swells after data revelations

The government is over stepping our rights and you can beat motorcycle clubs are on their list…..

Senior politicians reveal that US counter-terrorism efforts have swept up personal data from American citizens for years

• Revealed: NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily

The scale of America’s surveillance state was laid bare on Wednesday as senior politicians revealed that the US counter-terrorism effort had swept up swaths of personal data from the phone calls of millions of citizens for years.

After the revelation by the Guardian of a sweeping secret court order that authorised the FBI to seize all call records from a subsidiary of Verizon, the Obama administration sought to defuse mounting anger over what critics described as the broadest surveillance ruling ever issued.

A White House spokesman said that laws governing such orders “are something that have been in place for a number of years now” and were vital for protecting national security. Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee, said the Verizon court order had been in place for seven years. “People want the homeland kept safe,” Feinstein said.

What do you think?


Chris Hedges: Monitoring of AP Phones a “Terrifying” Step in State Assault on Press Freedom

The writing is on the wall, the Government is breaking the law and does not care about our Constitutional Rights to freedom. They are showing that they will do whatever it takes to violate our rights to privacy.  This is a blatant disreguard the constitutional rights of Americans and the freedom of the press to be protected from any dictatorship type government that shows no respect to citizens.  Again, I say enough is enough.  It is time to stand up against this type of government.  Don’t be caught asleep at the wheel and lose your rights to freedom.
The Pulitzer-prize winning columnist calls the revelations “one more assault in a long series of assault against freedom of information and freedom of the press.”

The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges joined Democracy Now! to discuss what could mark the most significant government intrusion on freedom of the press in decades. The Justice Department has acknowledged seizing the work, home and cellphone records used by almost 100 reporters and editors at the Associated Press. The phones targeted included the general AP office numbers in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Hartford, Connecticut, and the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery. The action likely came as part of a probe into the leaks behind an AP story on the U.S. intelligence operation that stopped a Yemen-based al-Qaeda bombing plot on a U.S.-bound airplane. Hedges, a senior fellow at The Nation Institute and former New York Times reporter, calls the monitoring “one more assault in a long series of assault against freedom of information and freedom of the press.” Highlighting the Obama administration’s targeting of government whistleblowers, Hedges adds: “Talk to any investigative journalist who must investigate the government, and they will tell you that there is a deep freeze. People are terrified of speaking, because they’re terrified of going to jail.”

NERMEEN SHAIKH: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder [headed to Capitol Hill on Wed, facing questions] over Justice Department’s decision to secretly seize the work, home and cellphone records used by almost a hundred reporters and editors at the Associated Press. On Tuesday, Holder defended the move as a necessary step in a criminal probe of leaks of classified information.

The phones targeted by the subpoena included the general AP office numbers in New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Hartford, Connecticut; and for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery. The records were from April and May of 2012. Among those whose records were obtained were Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, three other reporters and an editor, all of whom worked on a story about an operation conducted by the CIA and allied intelligence agencies that stopped a Yemen-based al-Qaeda plot to detonate a bomb on an airplane headed for the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: The Associated Press had delayed publication of the story ’til May 7, 2012, at the government’s request. One day before the AP story was finally published, a U.S. drone strike in Yemen killed Fahd al-Quso, a senior leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Attorney General Holder, who says he recused himself from the leak probe, defended his department’s actions.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER: This was a very serious—a very serious leak, and a very, very serious leak. I’ve been a prosecutor since 1976, and I have to say that this is among, if not the most serious, it is within the top two or three most serious leaks that I’ve ever seen. It put the American people at risk. And that is not hyperbole. It put the American people at risk. And trying to determine who was responsible for that, I think, required very aggressive action.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Attorney General Eric Holder, speaking Tuesday. In a letter to Holder, AP’sCEO Greg Pruitt protested the government’s seizing of journalists’ phone records. He wrote, quote: “There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP’s newsgathering operations, and disclose information about AP’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know.”

AMY GOODMAN: In an editorial today, The New York Times strongly criticized the Justice Department’s move. The editors wrote, quote: “These tactics will not scare us off, or The A.P., but they could reveal sources on other stories and frighten confidential contacts vital to coverage of government.”

Well, we’re joined right now by a former Pulitizer Prize-winning journalist from The New York Times. He’s now a senior fellow at The Nation Institute and author, along with Joe Sacco, of the book Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt. We’re joined by Chris Hedges. … Your response to this revelation about the—about what happened with AP and the U.S. government?

CHRIS HEDGES: Well, it’s part of a pattern. That’s what’s so frightening. And it’s a pattern that we’ve seen, with the use of the Espionage Act, to essentially silence whistleblowers within the government—Kiriakou, Drake and others, although Kiriakou went to jail on—pled out on another charge—the FISA Amendment Act, which allows for warrantless wiretapping, the National Defense Authorization Act, which allows for the stripping of American citizens of due process and indefinite detention. And it is one more assault in a long series of assault against freedom of information and freedom of the press. And I would also, of course, throw in the persecution of Julian Assange at WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning as part of that process.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Chris Hedges, you wrote in the recent article that was published, your article “Death of Truth” in Truthdig and Nation magazine—you also write about the significance of the Espionage Act and how often it’s been invoked, and you say that it eviscerates the possibility of an independent press. So could you talk about the Espionage Act and how it also is somehow related to this AP story?

CHRIS HEDGES: Well, it’s been used six times by the Obama administration. It was written in 1917 and was—is our Foreign Secrets Act. It is never meant—it was not designed to shut down whistleblowers, first used against Daniel Ellsberg in the Pentagon Papers. So, three times from 1917 until Obama takes office in 2009, six times. And if you talk to investigative journalists in this country, who must investigate the inner workings of government, no one will talk, even on background. People are terrified. And this is, of course—the seizure of two months of records, of AP records, is not really about going after AP; it’s about going after that person or those people who leaked this story and shutting them down. And this canard that it endangered American life is—you know, there’s no evidence for this. He’s not—yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, the news conferences that Eric Holder and the White House held yesterday were interesting. This is White House spokesperson Jay Carney questioned Tuesday about the AP spying scandal and the Obama administration’s prosecution of whistleblowers.

REPORTER: This administration in the last four years has prosecuted twice as many leakers as every previous administration combined. How does that reflect balance?

PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY: I would say that the president is committed to the press’s ability to pursue information, to defending the First Amendment. He is also, as a citizen and as commander-in-chief, committed to the proposition that we cannot allow classified information to be—that can do harm to our national security interests or to endanger individuals to be—to be leaked. And that is a balance that has to be struck.

REPORTER: But the record of the last four years does not suggest balance.

PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY: That’s your opinion, Ari. But I—

REPORTER: No, it’s twice as many prosecutions as all previous administrations combined. That’s not even close.

PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY: Well, I—I understand that there—you know, that there are ongoing investigations that preceded this administration, but I—again, I’m not going to—I can tell you what the president’s views are. And the president’s views include his defense of the First Amendment, his belief that journalists ought to be able to pursue information in an unfettered way, and that is backed up by his support for a media shield law, both as senator and as president. And it is also true that he believes a balance needs to be struck between those goals and the need to protect classified information.

AMY GOODMAN: And the questions of Jay Carney about the spying scandal on AP just continued.

REPORTER: As a principle, does the president approve of the idea of prosecutors going through the personal phone records and work phone records of journalists and their editors?

PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY: I—I appreciate the effort to generalize the question, but, obviously, that goes right to the heart of some of the reporting on this specific case. I can tell you that the president believes that the press, as a rule, needs to be—to have an unfettered ability to pursue investigative journalism and—

REPORTER: How can it be unfettered if you’re worried about having your phone records—

PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY: Well, again, I can’t—I can’t respond to this in the specific. And, you know, I—I am very understanding of the questions on this issue and—and appreciate the—the nature of the questions. And I think they—they go to important issues, and they go to the fundamental issue of finding the balance between—when it comes to leaks of classified information of—of our nation’s secrets, if you will, between the need to protect those—that information, because of the national security implications of not protecting them, on the one hand, and the need to allow for an unfettered press and its—in its pursuit of investigative journalism.

AMY GOODMAN: That is Jay Carney, the White House press spokesperson, who used to be the Washington bureau chief of Time magazine. Your response, Chris Hedges?

CHRIS HEDGES: Well, I find, you know, all of these measures to essentially shut down the freedom of information, including the persecution of Assange and Manning, as symptomatic of a reconfiguration of our society into a totalitarian security and surveillance state, one where anyone who challenges the official narrative, who digs out cases of torture, war crimes—which is, of course, what Manning and Assange presented to the American public—is going to be ruthlessly silenced. And I find the passivity on the part of the mainstream press, publications like The New York Times,The GuardianEl PaísDer Spiegel, all of which, of course, used this information, and turning their backs on Manning and Assange, to be very shortsighted for precisely this reason. If they think it’s just about Manning and Assange, then they have no conception of what it is that’s happening. And, you know, everyone knows, within the administration, within the National Security Council, the effects of climate change, the instability that that will cause, the economic deterioration, which is irreversible, and they want the mechanisms by which they can criminalize any form of dissent. And that’s finally what this is about.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And what do you think allowed this to happen, Chris Hedges? You think it’s related to, you’ve suggested in your piece, the war on terror, that it gave kind of sanction, in a way, to this kind of crackdown on journalists?

CHRIS HEDGES: Well, you know, it becomes the same paradigm in the war against communism. It’s an excuse to ferret out and destroy legitimate movements that challenge centers of power. And that’s, of course, how the war on terror has worked in exactly the same way. But we are seeing environmental activists, Occupy activists, people who function, like Manning, as a whistleblower being caught up in this war on terror and silenced through these rules.

So what they do is they pass, you know, for instance, Section 1021 of the NDAA. They pass it in the name of the war on terror, but then they can use it. Anybody can become a terrorist. I mean, in the trial in federal court, which we brought against—in the Southern District, we used, in the Stratfor-leaked emails that were put out by WikiLeaks, where they were trying to link a group that was close to Occupy, US Day of Rage, and al-Qaeda. That’s precisely what happened. So when we allow this kind of thing to go forward, we essentially shut down any ability not only to ferret out what’s happening internally within the mechanisms of power, but to protest or carry out dissent.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go back to another clip of the news conference of Attorney General Eric Holder being questioned on Tuesday.

REPORTER: The real question here, the underlying question, is the policy of the administration when it comes to the ability of the media to cover the news. And I think the question for you is, given the fact that this news organization was not given an opportunity to try to quash this in court, as has been precedent, it leaves us in the position of wondering whether the administration has somehow decided policy-wise that it’s kind of going to go after us.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER: Well, that is certainly not—I mean, I can talk about policy. That is certainly not the policy of this administration. If you will remember, in 2009, when I was going through my confirmation hearings, I testified in favor of a reporter shield law. We actually, as an administration, took a position in favor of such a law, didn’t get the necessary support up on the Hill. It is something this administration still thinks would be—would be appropriate. We’ve investigated cases on the basis of the facts, not as a result of a policy to get the press or to do anything of that nature. The facts and the law have dictated our actions.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Attorney General Eric Holder. Chris Hedges, I wanted you to respond to him and then talk about your recent trip. Well, you just came back from London, where you met with Julian Assange in the Ecuadorean embassy, and then you came here and went to Pennsylvania and met with Mumia Abu-Jamal.

CHRIS HEDGES: It was a good week. Yes. I mean, I find what’s happening terrifying, truly frightening. And when you look closely at all of the documents that were purportedly given to WikiLeaks by Bradley Manning and published through Assange, none of them were top-secret. I mean, as a former investigative reporter for The New York Times, it was my job to go and find out often top-secret information. And that’s why I can’t understand the inability of the traditional press to grasp that we are now in the last moments of an effort to, in essence, effectively extinguish press freedom. And if you—I mean, AP is an—like The New York Times, an amazingly cautious organization, but read the comments. I mean, they get it, internally. But, unfortunately, you know, they have divided us against ourselves, and—and this is—you know, what we’ve undergone, as John Ralston says and as I’ve said many times, a kind of corporate coup d’état.

What we are seeing is a system put into place where it’s all propaganda. And anybody who challenges—I mean, look, this constant reference to a shield law is absurd, because they just violated the shield law by not going to court and informing AP of a subpoena but doing it secretly. So, I mean, you’ve got to hand it to the Obama administration. They’re far more clever than their predecessors in the Bush administration, but they’re carrying out exactly the same policy of snuffing out our most basic civil liberties and our most important press freedoms. And that’s because they know what’s coming, and they are going to legally put in a place by which any challenge to the centers of corporate power become ineffectual or impossible.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: But how do you think this is already impacting the work of journalists?

CHRIS HEDGES: Well, talk to any investigative journalist who must investigate the government, and they will tell you that there is a deep freeze. People are terrified of speaking, because they’re terrified of going to jail. And Kiriakou is now sitting for 30 months in a prison in Pennsylvania. So—

AMY GOODMAN: And Kiriakou is?

CHRIS HEDGES: That’s the former CIA official who purportedly gave information to The New York Times. And, you know, they’ve subpoenaed Risen’s records, both for his book and—

AMY GOODMAN: James Risen of The New York Times.

CHRIS HEDGES: Right, of the Times. I mean, so, it is—

AMY GOODMAN: For reporting on warrantless wiretapping.

CHRIS HEDGES: Exactly. And—

AMY GOODMAN: Which they held onto, a story they held onto for more than a year and that took the—

CHRIS HEDGES: Well, that gets into the cowardice of The New York Times, but that’s another show. Yeah, it was about to come out in the book, and then the _Times_’ Bill Keller ran it, because—but they had held it. And so, yeah, I think we’re in a very, very frightening moment.

AMY GOODMAN: And the fact that these—the phones were—the logs were taken of these different phones that more than a hundred AP reporters used, reporters and editors, shows who is calling them and who they’re calling.

CHRIS HEDGES: Right, that’s what they want.

AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about the significance of that.

CHRIS HEDGES: Right. Well, what they’re clearly—

AMY GOODMAN: These aren’t tape-recorded conversations.

CHRIS HEDGES: Right. And, I mean, having done that kind of work, I’m almost certain that whoever gave the AP this information didn’t give it to them over the phone. But what they’re doing is finding out—matching all of the phone records to find out who had contact with someone in an AP bureau, whether that was in New York or Hartford or Washington or wherever else, and then they will probably use the Espionage Act to go after them, as well. That would—that’s certainly what the Obama administration has done since its inception.

AMY GOODMAN: Very briefly, can you talk about your visit with Julian Assange and then your visit with journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal?

CHRIS HEDGES: Well, I mean, I have tremendous respect for Julian Assange and what he’s done. Again, even within the liberal intelligentsia, who should know better, they’ve turned their back on him. You know, whatever the sexual misconduct charges in Sweden were, it certainly wasn’t rape, but there was something. But that has been used—

AMY GOODMAN: Well, they aren’t charges, but he’s wanted for questioning.

CHRIS HEDGES: Well, he’s actually not been charged at all, so that’s right, in a legal sense. But, you know, that kind of character assassination has left him very much alone. And I think the courage of a Manning, the courage of an Assange, the courage of a Mumia—I mean, how that man remains unbroken. I was there with Cornel West and the theologian James Cone. I mean, it was a privilege for me. I mean, three of the probably greatest African-American intellectuals in the country, and certainly radicals. It’s—you know, those people who hold fast to the—a kind of moral imperative, or hold fast to the capacity for dissent, whether that’s Manning, who exhibited—I was in the courtroom when he read his statement—tremendous courage, poise, whether that’s Assange, whether that’s Mumia, let’s look at where all those three people are, because for all of us who speak out, that’s where they want us to be, as well. And that gets back to this AP story, because that is exactly the process that we are undergoing and where—if they win, where we’re headed.