Latest Blogs

Late Night FDL: Not Perfect

By: Wednesday January 28, 2015 8:00 pm

Tim MinchinNot Perfect, the ‘So Live’ Oz tour.

What’s on your mind?


‘Plan C’: Released Documents Show How FBI Prepared for World War III During Cold War

By: Wednesday January 28, 2015 6:30 pm

The existence of “Plan C,” a Cold War plan to be carried out in the event of a nuclear attack, has been publicly known since 1956. There would be a “general mobilization” if an attack occurred but not on the United States itself. But documents obtained by Muck Rock provide a fuller picture of how the top secret strategy may have been implemented if World War III had erupted.

An April 17, 1956, memo from Alan Belmont, who at the time was assistant director of the FBI’s Domestic Intelligence Division, summarized what the Bureau would do in the event of an emergency.

The FBI would carry out its program for “emergency detention” and apprehend individuals “whose affiliations with subversive organizations” were “so pronounced that their continued liberty in the event of a national emergency would present a serious thereat to the internal security of the country.” The number of individuals who would be rounded up would be 12,949 people. (These were probably people in the FBI’s now infamous “Security Index.”)

“Enemy diplomats” would also be rounded up, particularly “Soviet bloc personnel.” It was estimated that there were about 500 people in Washington, DC, and about 400 in New York, who the FBI would need to help the State Department disarm and capture or take into “protective custody.”

This would all be coordinated by the Office of Defense Mobilization, which is an office that no longer exists in the federal government.

The FBI had already developed a secret “emergency detention” program by the time the federal government was holding meetings on “Plan C” with Justice Department officials and other top officials from various departments in the Executive Branch.

As Morton Halperin, Jerry Berman, Robert Borosage and Christine Marwick wrote in their 1976 book, The Lawless State:

…The only program the FBI was not able to put in motion was its plan for emergency detention in case of national emergency. Nevertheless, the bureau prepared for the eventuality throughout the Cold War decade. The bureau, often without the full knowledge of the Justice Department and under standards far broader than those laid down by Congress in 1950, maintained a number of detention lists. The Security Index had top priority in case of national crisis. This list, which included the Communist leaders, included 11,982 names. Next in line for preventive detention were members of the Party, a list of 17,783 persons contained in the bureau’s Communist Index. These were only the names in FBI headquarters files. FBI field offices listed over 200,000 persons considered by the FBI to constitute a danger to national security in time of crisis…

Ryan Shapiro, a PhD candidate and historian of the political functioning of national security at MIT, suggested, “Especially notable in these documents is that even in the course of secret planning for World War III, what appears to animate the FBI most are perceived slights to the Bureau’s status and concern for maintaining the Bureau’s nearly unchecked authority.”

From memos, which were initialed by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, a key problem for the Bureau seems to have been what would happen under martial law when the military was in charge:

At the time, there was much worry within government that the Soviet Union might set off an atomic weapon. The FBI was concerned that martial law might cause the Bureau to have to abandon certain “emergency programs.” There might be interruption to the Bureau’s work if something was not done to avoid it.

2014 was a record year for post-trial exonerations

By: Wednesday January 28, 2015 3:00 pm

Criminal justice is an oxymoron, but sometimes the legal system gets it right. Unfortunately, getting it right often does not happen until after the case is over.

In the better-late-than-never category, Mother Jones is reporting,

In 2014, 125 people across the United States who had been convicted of crimes were exonerated—the highest number ever recorded,according to a new report from the National Regestry of Exonerations at the University of Michigan Law School. The 2014 number included 48 who had been convicted of homicide, 6 of whom were on death row awaiting execution. Ricky Jackson of Ohio spent 39 years behind bars, the longest known prison term for an exoneree, according to the NRE. Jackson was sentenced to death in 1975 after false testimony implicated him in a robbery-murder he did not commit. Texas led the nation with 39 exonerations; it is followed by New York (17), Illinois (7), and Michigan (7). The federal government exonerated eight people.

Most of these post trial exonerations were obtained by so-called conviction integrity units (CIUs) created and staffed by prosecutors. There are 15 now in existence with more to come.

The Harris County CIU, which encompasses Houston, is responsible for 33 of last year’s exonerations. In early 2014, it reviewed drug cases it had prosecuted after learning that many people who had pled guilty to possession had not, in fact, possessed actual drugs. The Harris CIU’s findings reflected another trend: 58 exonerations this year, nearly half of the total, were so-called “no-crime exonerations,” which means, according to the NRE, “an accident or a suicide was mistaken for a crime, or…the exoneree was accused of a fabricated crime that never happened.”

Channel 5 News in Cleveland reports,

In Baltimore, the State’s Attorney’s office helped vacate the conviction of a man 46 years after he was convicted of murder. In Cleveland, three men convicted of a 1975 murder they didn’t commit were cleared, setting a new record of time behind bars for an exoneree: 39 years, 3 months 9 days. In Tulsa, DNA testing showed a mother hadn’t killed her 15-month-old baby, leading prosecutors to dismiss charges after nearly 20 years. And in Detroit, a man was released after police got a tip that the wrong person had been convicted in a 2006 murder.

Now we need to improve on getting it right the first time.

But if you’re black, you better not count on it because, if you call 911 seeking help, you are apt to get killed.

Trans-Pacific Partnership Contains Provison To Help Wall Street Avoid Regulations

By: Wednesday January 28, 2015 1:00 pm

Protest in NYC happening right now-people out in the snow & cold to #StopFastTrack & #TPP! — Kevin Zeese (@KBZeese) January 26, 2015 Try to hide your surprise. One of the reasons the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is being kept secret is because it has unpopular and reckless policies in it such as deregulating [...]

Report: For-Profit Medical Provider Killed Mentally Ill Inmate in Solitary Confinement on Rikers Island

By: Wednesday January 28, 2015 11:00 am

The New York State Commission on Correction released a new report this week, detailing the findings from its investigation into the horrific and preventable death of mentally ill black inmate, Bradley Ballard.

Muslim Woman Sues Police For Forcing Her To Remove Hijab

By: Wednesday January 28, 2015 9:00 am

The Dearborn, Michigan area is home to one of the largest Muslim populations in the United States, so this can’t be blamed on some small-town cops ignorant of the law. Of course, since that “law” is actually the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantee of freedom of religion, even that is not much of [...]

Jonathan Chait Upset About Diversity In Media

By: Wednesday January 28, 2015 8:00 am

And for some odd indeterminable reason, people tend not to forget images like this. RT @shani_o: — Ta-Nehisi Coates (@tanehisicoates) December 4, 2014 New York Magazine writer Jonathan Chait, best known for being one of the “good liberals” who promoted the Iraq War, is still mad that The New Republic will no longer be [...]

The Roundup

By: Wednesday January 28, 2015 7:00 am

Good day! International Politics Overall – The new nuclear deal between the U.S. and India is just another game of geo-politics and rewarding corporations. – If President Barack Obama is leader of the free world, then why is he honoring King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia? No really, why? – Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted sex offender, criticized the media as “gossip[ing]” [...]

Over Easy: When does a mentally retarded person stop being retarded? When the state decides to execute him.

By: Wednesday January 28, 2015 5:00 am

Last night, Georgia executed Warren Hill, a man with intellectual disabilities (formerly called mental retardation). In 2002, the United States Supreme Court banned executions for people with intellectual disabilities with its ruling in Atkins v Virginia. However, the ruling left it up to the states to decide what, exactly, that means. In Georgia, one must prove intellectual disability “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Since no one can ever meet that strict rule, even people who have an IQ of 70 or below and are found to be disabled by a preponderance of the evidence are eligible for the death penalty. Georgia will continue to execute adults with the intellectual capacity of children.

Late Night FDL: Flesh and Blood

By: Tuesday January 27, 2015 8:00 pm

Emmylou Harris, Mary Chapin Carpenter & Sheryl Crow – Flesh And Blood

Mary Chapin Carpenter will be performing with her trio, and even with orchestras, this Spring…

Follow Firedoglake
CSM Ads advertisement