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“[Censored] should be affixed to the bulletin boards in every newsroom in America. And, perhaps read aloud to a few publishers and television executives.” —Ralph Nader
“Project Censored interrogates the present in the same way that Oliver Stone and I tried to interrogate the past in our Untold History of the United States. It not only shines a penetrating light on the American Empire and all its deadly, destructive, and deceitful actions, it does so at a time when the Obama administration is mounting a fierce effort to silence truth-tellers and whistleblowers. Project Censored provides the kind of fearless and honest journalism we so desperately need in these dangerous times.” —Peter Kuznick, professor of history, American University, and coauthor, with Oliver Stone, of The Untold History of the United States
“Those who read and support Project Censored are in the know.” —Cynthia McKinney
“At a time when the need for independent journalism and for media outlets unaffiliated with and untainted by the government and corporate sponsors is greater than ever, Project Censored has created a context for reporting the complete truths in all matters that matter. . . . It is therefore left to us to find sources for information we can trust. . . . It is in this task that we are fortunate to have an ally like Project Cen-sored.” —Dahr Jamail
“The staff of Project Censored presents their annual compilation of the previous year’s 25 stories most overlooked by the mainstream media along with essays about censorship and its consequences. The stories include an 813% rise in hate and anti-government groups since 2008, human rights violations by the US Border Patrol, and Israeli doctors injecting Ethiopian immigrants with birth control without their consent. Other stories focus on the environment, like the effects of fracking and Monsantos GMO seeds. The writers point out misinformation and outright deception in the media, including CNN relegating factual accounts to the “opinion” section and the whitewashing of Margaret Thatcher’s career following her death in 2013, unlike Hugo Chavez, who was routinely disparaged in the coverage following his death. One essay deals with the proliferation of “Junk Food News,” in which “CNN and Fox News devoted more time to ‘Gangnam Style’ than the renewal of Uganda’s ‘Kill the Gays’ law.” Another explains common media manipulation tactics and outlines practices to becoming a more engaged, free-thinking news consumer or even citizen journalist. Rob Williams remarks on Hollywood’s “deep and abiding role as a popular propaganda provider” via Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. An expose on working conditions in Chinese Apple factories is brutal yet essential reading. This book is evident of Project Censored’s profoundly important work in educating readers on current events and the skills needed to be a critical thinker.” -Publisher’s Weekly said about Censored 2014 (Oct.)
“In another home run for Project Censored, Censored 2013 shows how the American public has been bamboozled, snookered, and dumbed down by the corporate media. It is chock-full of ‘ah-ha’ moments where we understand just how we’ve been fleeced by banksters, stripped of our civil liberties, and blindly led down a path of never-ending war.” –Medea Benjamin, author of Drone Warfare, cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK.
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“One of the most significant media research projects in the country.” —I. F. Stone
“Censored 2014 is a clarion call for truth telling. Not only does this volume highlight fearless speech in fateful times, it connect the dots between the key issues we face, lauds our whistleblowers and amplifies their voices, and shines light in the dark places of our government that most need exposure.” –Daniel Ellsberg, The Pentagon Papers
“Most journalists in the United States believe the press here is free. That grand illusion only helps obscure the fact that, by and large, the US corporate press does not report what’s really going on, while tuning out, or laughing off, all those who try to do just that. Americans–now more than ever–need those outlets that do labor to report some truth. Project Censored is not just among the bravest, smartest, and most rigorous of those outlets, but the only one that’s wholly focused on those stories that the corporate press ignores, downplays, and/or distorts. This latest book is therefore a must read for anyone who cares about this country, its tottering economy, and–most important– what’s now left of its democracy.” –Mark Crispin Miller, author, professor of media ecology, New York University.
“Project Censored brings to light some of the most important stories of the year that you never saw or heard about. This is your chance to find out what got buried.” –Diane Ravitch, author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System.
“For ages, I’ve dreamed of a United States where Project Censored isn’t necessary, where these crucial stories and defining issues are on the front page of the New York Times, the cover of Time, and in heavy rotation on CNN. That world still doesn’t exist, but we always have Project Censored’s yearly book to pull together the most important things the corporate media ignored, missed, or botched.” –Russ Kick, author of You Are Being Lied To, Everything You Know Is Wrong, and the New York Times bestselling series The Graphic Canon.
Buy it, read it, act on it. Our future depends on the knowledge this col-lection of suppressed stories allows us.” —San Diego Review
“Activist groups like Project Censored . . . are helping to build the media democracy movement. We have to challenge the powers that be and rebuild media from the bottom up.” —Amy Goodman
“Project Censored continues to be an invaluable resource in exposing and highlighting shocking stories that are routinely minimized or ignored by the corporate media. The vital nature of this work is underscored by this year’s NSA leaks. The world needs more brave whistle blowers and independent journalists in the service of reclaiming democracy and challenging the abuse of power. Project Censored stands out for its commitment to such work.” —Deepa Kumar, author of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire and associate professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University
“[Censored] offers devastating evidence of the dumbing-down of main-stream news in America. . . . Required reading for broadcasters, journalists, and well-informed citizens.” —Los Angeles Times
“Project Censored is one of the organizations that we should listen to, to be assured that our newspapers and our broadcasting outlets are practicing thorough and ethical journalism.” —Walter Cronkite
“Project Censored shines a spotlight on news that an informed public must have . . . a vital contribution to our democratic process.” —Rhoda H. Karpatkin, president, Consumer’s Union

18. FEDERAL SEIZURE LAWS: MAKING CRIME PAY

Since the mid-1980s it has become common practice, for law enforcement agencies to seize property believed to be used or purchased by suspected drug dealers or users. Federal and state asset forfeiture laws have generated millions of dollars in seized drug cash — plus booty such as cars, homes, planes and boats — which have been turned over to local law enforcement agencies. As a result, the laws, perversely, have made police departments financially dependent on the drug dealing they are supposed to curtail. Lt. Michael Post, who heads the Glendale (California) Police Department’s narcotics unit says that he has seen evidence of other police departments “under pressure to be revenue producers,” to the point where they use shortcuts to seize drug cash but do not follow up on their investigations in an effort to arrest the dealers. And while most officials deny it, the seizure laws certainly can cloud the judgment of local police, leading them to investigate suspects based on their assets rather than their threat to the community.

Since Congress authorized the return of drug assets to local law enforcement agencies in 1984, the program has come under fire from more than one federal agency. In a report issued last June, the U.S. General Accounting Office criticized both U.S. Customs and the Justice Department for inadequate management of the program. Three months later, the Justice Department’s inspector general also complained about the program’s management.

Perhaps more disturbing is that property may be seized without legal concern as to the guilt of the owner, without due process of law, and without any more evidence than “we suspect him/her of drug activity.” This tactic of seizing property was developed to discourage high-stakes, high-profile drug dealers from gorging themselves on drug-profits through extravagant living. It is not surprising, however, that this new-found strategy has been subverted by enforcement groups hungry for the spoils of the drug war.

In one such case, a West-Texas sheriff has been using the seizure laws to develop an “extra jurisdictional” strike force. According to the Texas Observer, Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter is coordinating a group of drug mercenaries. The group tracks down and stings suspected drug dealers outside county lines, then brings the spoils back into Midland County, and reaps the profits. The most troubling question, however, is the legality of “paramilitary” deputies sweeping across the countryside, seizing property without concern for the due process rights of suspects. Apparently as long as these activities are profitable for groups like Painter’s, “freelance” deputies will be encouraged to pillage at will.

SSU CENSORED RESEARCHER: ERIK CUMMINS

SOURCE: THE TEXAS OBSERVER, 307 West 7th St., Austin, TX 78701, DATE: 10/18/91

TITLE: “Have Badge, Will Travel”

AUTHORS: David Armstrong and Nick Johnson

SOURCE: LOS ANGELES TIMES, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053, DATE: 4/16/91

TITLE: “Seized Assets Underwrite the War on Drugs” AUTHOR: Ronald L. Soble

COMMENTS: Investigative author David Armstrong notes that “Law enforcement officers are generally portrayed as dedicated civil servants out to serve, protect and defend their communities. Forfeiture laws established as part of the War on Drugs,’ however, have provided an almost irresistible incentive for law enforcement agencies to forsake traditional duties in favor of more sensational operations that could enrich their departments. A more  thorough examination of this phenomenon by the mainstream media could help communities to recognize and combat the dangers inherent in this situation.” Armstrong adds that while law enforcement agencies benefit from the limited coverage given this issue, ‘The big losers, of course, are the taxpayers, who are not only deprived of the full services of their law enforcement agencies, but may also fall victim to a War on Drugs’ run amok.”

Los Angeles Times reporter Ronald Soble, who said he saw very little coverage of the federal and state forfeiture programs, provides a different insight into the issue from David Armstrong. ‘The subject should have a major public impact to the extent that it demonstrates that individuals dealing in drugs stand to lose everything of value that they own. Property, cars, jewelry -­all of this is subject to confiscation. Losing all of one’s possessions is a daunting proposition. Furthermore, it demonstrates that the government has a financing mechanism in place that will continue to underwrite the war on drugs for the foreseeable future.

“Undoubtedly the major drug cartels would benefit from lack of coverage. The cartels need the middle men for distribution. If the distributors feel they can deal in cocaine and heroin without fear of government intervention, Washington and the state will make no progress. But if there is wide media coverage of a well-financed anti-drug campaign, it could have an intimidating impact on the distributors in this country. The dealers need to know — through the media — that not only will they face jail time, but that their possessions will be confiscated. Such stories generate public confidence in the war on drugs.”

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