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“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
“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 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 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
“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.
“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
“One of the most significant media research projects in the country.” —I. F. Stone
“[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
“[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
“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.)
“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
“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
“Those who read and support Project Censored are in the know.” —Cynthia McKinney
“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.
“Hot news, cold truths, utterly uncensored.” —Greg Palast
“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
Buy it, read it, act on it. Our future depends on the knowledge this col-lection of suppressed stories allows us.” —San Diego Review
“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.

21. Little Guantanamos: Secretive “Communication Management Units” in the US

In March 2016, inmates from two highly secretive US prisons, known as Communication Management Units (CMUs), appealed a previous summary judgment for the government in their case against the Federal Bureau of Prisons. In March 2015, the US District Court for the District of Columbia had ruled against the prisoners, asserting that CMUs did not violate inmates’ rights because restrictions were “limited in nature” compared to ordinary prison units, and far better than solitary confinement. In their appeal, attorneys for the Center for Constitutional Rights argued that CMUs represent a “fundamental disruption” to prisoners’ rights and freedoms. CMUs have strict regulations against outside communication. Prisoners are isolated from the rest of the prison population, and are limited to four hours of visits per month, none of which permit direct contact, and three phones calls per month (for a total of forty-five minutes), which must be carried out in English. Lawyers representing the CMU inmates argued that the typical time served in a CMU is three to five years, or fifty-five times longer than the average time in administrative detention.

Beginning in 2006, the Federal Bureau of Prisons created CMUs without any written conditions or procedures. Prisoners receive very little information as to why they are transferred to the unit in the first place. They are able to appeal their transfer, but not a single prisoner has ever been released through the appeal process. Without written rules in place, it is suggested that these transfers take place based on discrimination.

In January 2015, the Federal Bureau of Prisons finalized rules regarding who can be sent to CMUs and how the facilities should operate, but as Christie Thompson of the Marshall Project reported, prisoner advocates claimed the new rules imposed “even stricter limits on contact without providing a legitimate way for inmates to appeal being placed under such restrictions.”

About 178 inmates are held in CMUs. Nearly 60 percent of them are Muslims, according to Center for Constitutional Rights attorneys representing the prisoners. Journalist Will Potter, who has visited a CMU, told the Real News Network that CMUs are effectively “political prisons for political prisoners.” “People are sent to the CMU because of their race, and their religion and their political beliefs,” rather than the crimes they have committed, Potter said.

In a January 2015 TED Talk on CMUs, Potter noted that CMU guards call non-Muslim prisoners “balancers,” meaning they “help balance the racial numbers, in hopes of deflecting law suits.” Many of these “balancers” are animal rights and environmental activists. Journalists are not permitted in CMUs, but Potter was able to visit an imprisoned environmental activist, Daniel McGowan, “as a friend.”

There are two known CMUs in the United States, one in Marion, Illinois, and the other in Terre Haute, Indiana. Both operate within larger federal prisons.

In March 2011, NPR ran a two-part investigative report and the Nation published a detailed article on CMUs. In 2011 and 2013, the Huffington Post published reports by Daniel McGowan, the first of which was written while he was imprisoned in the Marion, Illinois, CMU. The Huffington Post has consistently published articles by attorneys with the Center for Constitutional Rights on CCR’s efforts to defend prisoners’ rights to due process and to bring CMU policies in line with constitutional requirements. Otherwise, coverage of CMUs in the popular press is limited to articles such as the New York Times report from April 2016, “The Terrorists in U.S. Prisons,” which briefly mentioned CMUs and their predominantly Muslim inmates, but did not discuss challenges to the CMUs’ constitutionality.


Will Potter, “The Secret US Prisons You’ve Never Heard of Before, “ TED video, filmed January 2015, https://www.ted.com/talks/will_potter_the_secret_us_prisons_you_ve_never_heard_of_before.

Will Potter, interview by Sharmini Peries, “‘Little Guantanamos’ in the US,” Real News Network, broadcast October 20, 2015, transcript, http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=14945.

Carrie Johnson, “Inmates Try to Revive Lawsuit over Secretive Prison Units,” NPR, March 15, 2016, http://www.npr.org/2016/03/15/470430094/inmates-try-to-revive-lawsuit-over-secretive-prison-units.

Chip Gibbons, “Circuit Court Weighs Appeals in ‘Communication Management Units’ Prison Case,” Bill of Rights Defense Committee, March 17, 2016, http://bordc.org/news/circuit-court-weighs-appeals-in-communication-management-units-prison-case/.

Student Researcher: Allison Bamford (University of Regina)

Faculty Evaluator: Patricia W. Elliott (University of Regina)

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