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“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
“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
“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
“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 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.
“Those who read and support Project Censored are in the know.” —Cynthia McKinney
“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
“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
“Hot news, cold truths, utterly uncensored.” —Greg Palast
“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.)
“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
“[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
“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.
“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

4. ICE Operates Secret Detention and Courts

Agents of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are holding thousands of US residents in unlisted and unmarked subfield offices and deporting tens of thousands in secret court hearings.

“If you don’t have enough evidence to charge someone criminally but you think he’s illegal, we can make him disappear.” Those chilling words were spoken by James Pendergraph, then executive director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Office of State and Local Coordination, at a conference of police and sheriffs in August 2008.

Student Researchers:

  • Nicole Fletcher and Amanda Olson (Sonoma State University)

Faculty Evaluator:

  • Ronald Lopez (Sonoma State University)

People are held in a vast network of more than three hundred detention facilities, located in nearly every state in the country. Only a few of these facilities are under the full operational control of ICE—the majority are jails under the control of state and local governments that subcontract with ICE to provide detention bed space. However, ICE has created a network of secret jails designed for confining individuals in transit. These 186 unlisted and unmarked subfield offices are not subject to ICE detention standards, lacking showers, beds, drinking water, soap, toothbrushes, sanitary napkins, mail, attorneys, or legal information. Many of these subfield offices are in suburban office parks or commercial spaces revealing no information about their ICE tenants—nary a sign, a marked car, or even a US flag.

In addition there is a complete lack of a real-time database tracking people in ICE custody, meaning that ICE has created a network of secret jails designed for confining individuals in transit that literally make people disappear. Immigrant detainees can be transferred away from their attorneys at any point in their immigration proceedings, and often are. Detainees can be literally “lost” by their attorneys and family members for days or even weeks after being transferred.

US residents who were held in Southern California suboffice B-18—up to one hundred on any given day—were actually in a revolving stockroom that would shuttle the same people briefly to the local jails, sometimes from 1 to 5 a.m., and then bring them back, shackled to one another, stooped and crouching in overpacked vans. These transfers made it impossible for anyone to know their location, as there would be no notice to attorneys or relatives when people were moved. At times, the B-18 occupants were left overnight, the frigid onslaught of forced air and lack of mattresses or bedding making sleep near impossible.

As one attorney who represents immigration detainees explained, “The transfers are devastating—absolutely devastating. [The detainees] are loaded onto a plane in the middle of the night. They have no idea where they are, no idea what [US] state they are in. I cannot overemphasize the psychological trauma to these people. What it does to their family members cannot be fully captured either. I have taken calls from seriously hysterical family members—incredibly traumatized people—sobbing on the phone, crying out, ‘I don’t know where my son or husband is!’”

ICE agents regularly impersonate civilians—Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspectors, insurance agents, religious workers—in order to arrest longtime US residents who have no criminal history. Guatemalans in the Boston area are seeing spies infiltrating factories, buses with tinted windows taking away unidentifiable co-workers, and men with guns grabbing their neighbors. During the summer of 2009, a woman came to the office of Marina Lowe, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Salt Lake City, saying she believed that ICE agents dressing as Mormon missionaries had been to her house. Lowe’s client noticed that the missionaries had lacked the black name tags she’d seen others wear, and had behaved in other ways inconsistent with missionary protocol, including entering her home while her husband was absent. After she confirmed that he lived there, they left. The next day, ICE agents arrived and arrested her husband. In response to a question about whether it was consistent with government policy for ICE agents to impersonate religious workers, an anonymously written ICE e-mail explained that impersonating religious officials is part of “ruse operations” and justified this as a “tool that enhances officer safety.”

You don’t have to go to Iraq or North Korea to find secret courts. Detention centers across the country are restricting public access to immigration courts. The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), an agency in the Department of Justice charged with managing immigration courts, reported that its judges decided 134,117 deportation cases in 2008, of which 48 percent were for detainees. The individuals facing deportation hearings in these remote sites—far from their families, indigent, and without attorneys—are the most legally fragile population in the country.

Mark Soukup, supervisory detention and deportation officer in Eloy, Arizona, explained that ICE required a background check for anyone entering the immigration courts at Eloy, for which one would need to submit in writing, two weeks in advance, one’s name, date of birth, Social Security number, home address, and the particular hearing one wanted to attend. “The problem is that anyone with a felony or misdemeanor conviction in the last five years can be prohibited to come in for security reasons,” Soukup said.

Lee Gelernt, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney, found the two-week prescreening policy unacceptable: “It is critical that the public and press have access to immigration proceedings to ensure that the proceedings are conducted fairly and consistent with due process principles. It is absolutely unlawful for the DHS [Department of Homeland Security] to place unreasonable restrictions on access to immigration court.”

Update by Jacqueline Stevens

I have been writing for the Nation magazine, as well as on my blog States Without Nations, about unlawful and largely secret detention and removal operations by agencies within the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice (DOJ). My research on US citizens in ICE custody has been reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Charlotte Observer, CNN (online), the Huffington Post, and Mother Jones, among other publications, and I have been interviewed for National Public Radio’s Latino USA, Public Radio International’s The World, WNYC’s The Leonard Lopate Show, Democracy Now!, and the Henry Raines Show in Tampa Bay, Florida.

My articles have sparked some responses among local activists as well as journalists. For instance, in January an immigrant rights group in Grand Junction, Colorado, paid a visit to an address from a list of subfield offices I obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. In a memorandum, the group wrote that the building they located was “in the industrial section of Grand Junction [and] is non-descript with no signs identifying it as government office or ICE facility.” (An agent said the absence of a sign was because of budget cuts.) For more on this, see http://stateswithoutnations.blogspot.com/2010/01/neighbors-visit-ice-office- in-grand.html.

One policy consequence of investigations into ICE detaining and deporting US citizens appears to be a November 2009 policy requiring agents to report claims of US citizenship to a special ICE email address. I submitted a FOIA request for this e-mail correspondence and was informed of four thousand pages of documents. I have recently received the first hundred pages and am appealing redactions. Clearly ICE’s detention of US citizens continues to be a problem.

I am presently conducting research on unlawful actions taken by immigration judges. This research has proven difficult because of retaliation against me by top ICE public affairs officers Kelly Nantel and Brian Hale—they unlawfully ordered agents to block my access to ICE facilities around the country. In April, a DHS-contracted guard in Atlanta assaulted me pursuant to an order from William Cassidy, the immigration judge who deported a US citizen. (While I was in a waiting area, Mr. Cassidy told a guard to remove me from the federal building.) I have filed a misconduct complaint; in response Mr. Cassidy’s cronies at the EOIR are not answering questions—documents I have received indicate a cover-up campaign is underway.

Sources:

Jacqueline Stevens, “America’s Secret Ice Castles,” Nation, January 4, 2010, http://www.thenation.com/doc20100104/stevens.

Jacqueline Stevens, “ICE Agents’ Ruse Operations,” Nation, December 17, 2009, http://www.thenation.com/article/ice-agents-ruse-operations.

Jacqueline Stevens, “Secret Courts Exploit Immigrants,” Nation, June 16, 2009, http://www.thenation.com/article/secret-courts-exploit-immigrants.

Human Rights Watch, “Locked Up Far Away, The Transfer of Immigrants to Remote Detention Centers in the United States,” December 2, 2009, www.hrw.org/node/86789.

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