Friday, December 16, 2011

Our U-Turn President

By William Fisher

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. President Obama has done enough 180-degree last minute change-ups to make his opponents chuckle up their sleeves and his supporters become impotently furious.

Furious because they will have to vote for Obama in November. Impotent because they feel they have no other choice. Waking up on Nov 5th and finding Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney as Commander-in-Chief would create a national shortage of cardiologists.

For progressives, what may help cushion the blow a bit is the memory of all this all having happened before. The catalog of 180’s is long and painful. It started with the President’s pledge – on his first day in office – to close Guantanamo. For a variety of reasons – principally Congress’s unreasoned hysteria about trying accused terrorists in our regular court system and therefore setting the stage for exonerations – and then we’d have Arabs walking up and down our main streets, dating our daughters and running for the school board (while they built “dirty bombs” in their rented rooms).

Our recent memories are packed with Obama’s numerous other U-Turns. For example, he continues the CIA’s program of extraordinary renditions to countries with long records of prisoner torture.

After releasing two of the so-called “torture memos” prepared by lawyers in George W. Bush’s Justice Department, he dug his heels in about further releases and about prosecuting CIA officials and agents for torturing prisoners, saying he’d rather look forward than backward.

His lawyers continue to invoke “state secrets” privileges in terror-related court cases, effectively silencing those who looked to the courts to hear their stories of abuse by the Bush Administration.

His fence-sitting at the beginning of the Arab Spring, which caused him, for example, to describe fallen Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak as “a stalwart ally,” and virtually abandon the pro-freedom demonstrators in tiny Bahrain because of its strategic importance as the home of the US Fifth Fleet.

Then there are the multiple flip-flops in the non-national security category, topped most recently by his “compromise” with the Republicans to reach an agreement on raising the debt ceiling and trying to avoid a default on the country’s debt and a downgrade in US Securities. The agreement was reached, and the GOP was overjoyed. The default was avoided, but the downgrade came anyway.

Now comes the latest incarnation of the same modus vivendi adopted by Obama on many other issues – his shocking turnabout regarding the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). A tiny part of the gargantuan funding bill for the Pentagon, it has taken on huge importance because of what it does to our justice system.

It authorizes the Pentagon to arrest suspected terrorists – including American citizens and regardless of where they are arrested – and detain them indefinitely without charge or trial. For a nation that prides itself on being rooted in the rule of law, it establishes a two-tier system of justice, with our regular courts doing what courts mostly do, but no longer trying accused terrorists.

These will be tried at Guantanamo, and if they are acquitted, the Department of Justice has made clear that they will be held anyway. But there’s little danger of acquittal, since GITMO’s Military Commissions are structured to obtain convictions, not acquittals.

Courts, on the other hand, are designed to achieve justice. Without help from the military, our courts have tried and convicted several thousand accused terrorists. Our civil judges would seem to know the drill, but Congress evidently never got the memo.

But a flock of prestigious military and civilian authorities did. Opposition to the detention provisions of the legislation came from Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, CIA Director David Petraeus, FBI Director Robert Mueller, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, White House Advisor for Counterterrorism John Brennan, and Lisa Monaco, head of DOJ’s National Security Division. The Senate ignored them all.

So President Obama trotted out one of his standard excuses for flip-flopping. Noting that last minute “tweaks” in the legislation in Conference Committee now made it acceptable to the Administration, Obama backed off his veto threat and signaled that he will sign this odious bill.

His rationale is familiar: Had he not obtained the changes that made the bill signable into law, the measure would have failed in its final vote, triggering a government shutdown. To avoid that, and the disruption it would create, compromise with the Republicans and some conservative Democrats was essential.

So in the end, the Republicans will get all they wanted – a Draconian law that, inter alia, makes the entire US a battlefield, plus the campaign-ready perception of Obama as a weakling, not ready to meet the GOP on the political battlefield. That, of course, will strengthen the public’s perception of Democrats historically being soft on terror (despite the deaths of Osama bin Laden, et al.).

I have to believe that the chief advantage Obama wanted from this legislation was yet more authority flying out of Congress and landing in the Executive Branch of government. Many observers believe that this is a power-grab by the President that is even more outrageously unconstitutional than the claim of George W. Bush that the government could spy on American citizens at will, without probable cause, and without oversight by anyone.

At the end of the day, this legislation will make counter-terrorism more difficult for the US, and evoke suspicion from many democratic nations who are spooked by the arrested without due process and held indefinitely without charge or trial.

Nor will it do anything good for America’s reputation in the world. After an initial burst of goodwill following his election and his Cairo speech, US prestige has been on a dramatically downward trajectory, further fuelled by The Arab Spring.

Even more reason why I take my hat off to Laura Murphy of the ACLU for her tenacity and optimism. At this, the 11th hour, she is still imploring the President not to sign the bill. It’s probably too late.

But she says, “The president should more carefully consider the consequences of allowing this bill to become law. If President Obama signs this bill, it will damage both his legacy and America’s reputation for upholding the rule of law. The last time Congress passed indefinite detention legislation was during the McCarthy era and President Truman had the courage to veto that bill. We hope that the president will consider the long view of history before codifying indefinite detention without charge or trial.”

I wish her the luck of the Irish. But I am not so optimistic.

The Part of Our Justice System No One Wants You to Know About

By William Fisher

Remember Mike Nifong? Sure. He’s the sleazebag former District Attorney in the Duke University lacrosse team’s stripper rape scandal back in 2006. He made himself a short-lived hero by agreeing to prosecute members of the Duke Lacrosse team for allegedly raping an Africa-American stripper and dancer the team had hired for a party.

But Nifong, hell bent on winning reelection, forgot that he was an officer of the Court. He went public with a series of accusations that later turned out to be untrue; he exaggerated and intensified racial tensions; he unduly influenced the Durham police investigation; he tried to manipulate potential witnesses; he refused to hear exculpatory evidence prior to indictment; that regulations on the conduct of an identification exercise were breached by failure to include "dummy" photographs; that he had never spoken directly to the alleged victim about the accusations; and that he made misleadingly incomplete presentations of various aspects of the evidence in the case (including DNA results).

He was dismissed from his job and later disbarred.

Or how about federal prosecutor William Welch, and his deputy chief, Brenda Morris, who convicted Senator Ted Stevens -- and helped their own cause by withholding evidence from the defense that could have helped the defendant.

Or there’s Richard Convertino, the lead prosecutor in the so-called Detroit Sleeper Cell terrorism case. He was removed from the case on suspicion that he allegedly failed to turn over photographic evidence to the defense.

These acts and alleged acts by prosecutors all qualify as prosecutorial misconduct. There are hundreds of such cases in our justice system every year. Very few of them ever get such high visibility. In fact, most abuses of this kind probably go unnoticed and unreported. In the three cases referenced above, only Nifong lost his law license. The others did not.

But, since 9/11, there has been another kind of misconduct growing. It usually takes place outside the courtroom and is a favorite of politicians of both parties, especially if they are running for reelection.

This is the phenomenon of politicians and others with private agendas calling press conferences to launch inflammatory – and usually false or grossly exaggerated – claims about the importance of a given case to the national security of the United States.

Examples are legion. When Jose Padilla was arrested for what the press told us was an attempt to explode a “dirty bomb” (a nuclear device) in the middle of New York City, then Attorney General John Ashcroft was in Moscow.

He immediately reorganized his day and hurriedly called a press conference where he trumpeted Padilla’s apprehension in what TIME called a “fear-inducing video hookup.”

Ashcroft was surely on a roll that day. But is was not long before it began to be clear that, to quote TIME again, “[Padilla] is not the deadly, skilled operative Attorney General John Ashcroft seemed to be describing when he announced Padilla's arrest… In fact, history may judge the Administration's legal treatment of Padilla—locking him up indefinitely with no plan to try him—as more alarming than Padilla himself.”

When Padilla was finally arraigned in Federal Court, the “dirty bomb” charge was nowhere to be found.

Then there was the prosecution of Dr. Rafil Dhafir, an oncologist from Manlius, NY, a community near Syracuse. Dhafir was arrested in February 2003 in a raid that drew nationwide media coverage. Long before his trial began, he was labeled “a terrorist” by then Attorney General Ashcroft and then New York Gov. George Pataki.

On the day of the arrest Ashcroft announced that “funders of terrorism” had been arrested. And just before Dhafir’s trial began in October 2004, Pataki described the case as a “money laundering case to help terrorist organizations … conduct horrible acts,” an announcement perfectly timed to reach potential jurors.

But no reference to terrorism or to Dhafir’s Muslim faith was permitted in court, and no terrorism charges were ever brought against him. His supporters claim he was “selectively prosecuted.”

Dhafir was convicted in February 2005 of 59 criminal counts, including money laundering, conspiracy to violate US sanctions against Iraq, misusing $2 million that donors contributed to his unlicensed charity, Help the Needy, spending $544,000 for his own purposes, defrauding Medicare out of $316,000, and evading $400,000 in federal income tax payments by writing off the illegal charity donations. No terrorism here.

Politicians outside the courtroom intentionally hyping the extreme dangers presented by defendants have become standard practice. This has occurred numerous times when it was clear that the alleged “terrorists” were pathetic down-and-outers who many believe had been entrapped by the FBI.
What politicians say at their press conferences is intended to achieve one objective only: to plant doubt in the minds of prospective jurors.

Independent activist Katherine Hughes adds that, “In Dr. Dhafir’s case, they also transformed his community image from a compassionate humanitarian into a crook and supporter of terrorists.”

And just a few days ago, we recall New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg convening a hastily organized press conference to announce the arrest of one Jose Pimentel.

Flanked by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Bloomberg said:

“Yesterday afternoon, New York City police officers arrested a 27-year-old Al Qaeda sympathizer who was plotting to bomb police patrol cars and also postal facilities, as well as target members of our Armed Forces returning from abroad. Jose Pimentel of Washington Heights, which is in the northern end of Manhattan, faces terrorism-related charges….”

Bloomberg also got an opportunity to praise the work of New York’s Finest.

“The NYPD Intelligence Division did outstanding work in tracking this individual and containing the threat he posed to the city. The police constructed a duplicate of an explosive device that the suspect built, and then detonated it in a way that he intended to use his weapon. We wanted to show you a video about the resulting damage,” he said.
He went on: “The suspect was a so-called lone wolf, motivated by his own resentment of the presence of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as inspired by Al Qaeda propaganda. He was not part of a larger conspiracy emanating from abroad. He represents exactly the kind of threat FBI Director Robert Mueller and his experts have warned about, as American military and intelligence agencies have eroded Al Qaeda's ability to launch large-scale attacks.

“This case is also reminiscent of another lone wolf plot in 2004 in which two New Yorkers angry over the treatment of prisoners in Iraq plotted to bomb the Herald Square subway station. Like the current case, the Herald Square plot was uncovered by the NYPD Intelligence Division.

“And as with still another case earlier this year in which a lone wolf plotted to attack a large synagogue, the NYPD teamed-up with the Manhattan District Attorney's office to prosecute Pimentel under State terrorism-related statutes.
“Whether launched by lone wolves, Al Qaeda, or Al Qaeda affiliates, there have been at least 13 previous terrorist plots since 9/11 targeting New York City. This would be the fourteenth.

“Because of such repeated threats, the NYPD remains focused on preventing another terrorist attack. We assign a thousand officers to counter-terrorism duties every single day. This is just another case where our precautions paid off."

Some journalists covering the story simply transcribed Bloomberg’s words. Others were suspicious. Did Bloomberg rush this arrest and press conference to divert attention away from the conflicts with the Occupy movement, whose members, as well as some journalists, had just been driven out of Liberty Square, and their tents and other equipment destroyed by police? And where was the FBI? The Bureau participates in almost all such events with the mayor and with less city lights. Soon we learned that the FBI was saying it would not have made this arrest.

That’s a big statement for that agency, which has been suspected by many of using paid informants to entrap gullible individuals, and get them involved in terror plots. However, many of these so-called plots look like children’s games. In others, the alleged perpetrators look so disheveled, bedraggled, disoriented, that they seem like the last people who would be capable of carrying out a terror plot.
In addition to trying to influence juries with incendiary and fear-provoking pronouncements, politicians and the law enforcement agencies they support employ a second technique – in some ways, worse than the false accusations.
This is the designation known as the “person of interest.” This insidious label has the capacity to put life on hold, to turn lives upside down, to bankrupt citizens unable to pay lawyers’ fees to try to prove their innocence.

Remember Richard Jewell? To refresh your memory, Jewell, 33, was working as a security guard at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. The Atlanta Police have received a message saying, "There is a bomb in Centennial Park. You have 30 minutes." Jewell was working in Centennial Park.

At 1:20 a.m., a pipe bomb exploded near a huge sound-and-light tower erected by AT&T, which had become a major attraction for visitors to Centennial Olympic Park. The blast killed two people and injured 111 others.

Richard Jewell was the hero of the incident. He was responsible for finding the backpack that had contained the bomb, and for getting people out of the immediate area, thus probably limiting further death and injury.

But four days after the bombing, news organizations reported that Jewell had become the main focus of their investigation as a potential suspect in the bombing. At the time, Jewell was unknown to authorities, and a lone wolf profile made sense to FBI investigators after being contacted by his former employer at Piedmont College.

Though he was never arrested or charged with any crime, Jewell was named as a "person of interest.” His home, where he lived with his mother, was searched and his background exhaustively investigated, all amid a media storm that had cameras following him to the grocery store. Eventually, Jewell was exonerated, and once again hailed as a hero. The media circus pursued Jewell everywhere for weeks, until Eric Rudolph pled guilty to carrying out the bombing attack at the Centennial Olympic Park, as well as three other attacks across the South.

After his exoneration, Jewell filed a series of lawsuits against the media outlets which he claimed had libeled him, primarily NBC News and The Atlanta Constitution, and insisted on a formal apology from them. Jewell's attorneys contend Piedmont College President Raymond Cleere called the FBI and spoke to the Atlanta newspapers, providing them with false information on Jewell and his employment there as a security guard. Jewell's lawsuit accused Cleere of describing Jewell as a "badge-wearing zealot" who "would write epic police reports for minor infractions." Eventually he received an apology from the FBI.

Toward the end of the incident, broadcast host Bill Press discussed Jewell on television. Turning to Larry Sabato, professor of government at the University of Virginia, a guest on the program, he commented, "He (Jewell) did a pretty good job of destroying his own reputation, first, didn't he, Larry?"

To which Sabato replied, "You know, Bill, that's a great example of what happens when some poor soul, and I'm going to assume he's innocent until it's proven otherwise, some poor soul wanders into the media spotlight, because that's what happens. I remember the fellow who deflected the gun from President Ford out in California in 1975 and he saved the president's life and within 48 hours, a newspaper had revealed to his family, who didn't know, that he was gay."

Unlike Jewell, Steven Hatfill was never seen as a hero. But, just as Jewell’s life had been turned upside down by law enforcement, Hatfill’s also became a living hell.

Steven Jay Hatfill, now 60, is an American physician, virologist and bio-weapons expert who underwent what was considered by many to be a trial by media with great toll on his personal and professional life. After eight months of pressure from the media and amateur detectives, the US Department of Justice identified the former government scientist as a "person of interest" in its investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks. He was put under 24/7 surveillance.

FBI searches of his apartment in July and August 2002 were well-attended by journalists, many of whom had been pointing at Dr. Hatfill for months.
Dr. Hatfill later sued the government for ruining his reputation, a case that the government settled for US$5.8 million. He also filed lawsuits against several periodicals that had pointed to him as a figure warranting further investigation.

The situation became even more tragic when FBI and DOJ officials later blamed the anthrax deaths on another government scientist, Bruce Edwards Ivins, whom they concluded had acted alone. Ivins committed suicide. The case remains unsolved.

The abuses described here are miscarriages of justice, whether they occur in or outside a court. Politicians and law enforcement agencies depend on a supine press corps to circulate their stories all over the world in minutes. With the help of a media more skilled in stenography than in reporting, unsubstantiated rumors are printed and broadcast as facts. If further investigation is done by the media (which is rare) corrections often appear, if at all, long after the event. Yet they can rob you of your reputation before you have a chance to respond.

To be the target of a media blitz is tantamount to being found guilty of something. When a politician or an overly zealous prosecutor tags you as a dangerous terrorist before you ever go to court, you might as well not go to court. Such is the fear of terror that has pervaded our country since 9/11 that Congress, in its infinite wisdom, has even successfully dictated where and how to try those accused of terrorism.

Is there anything ordinary citizens can do about these kinds of events? Unfortunately, not much. We should be urging our political leaders to choose their words more carefully and to show more respect for the rule of law. We should reign in over-zealous prosecutors who see their mission in life as collecting scalps. And we should be campaigning in Congress for substantial revisions in the “material support” law.

Politicians, judges, prosecutors and lawmakers need to demonstrate that they know the difference between governance and show business!

Ordinary citizens can’t censor what politicians say. And Judges could do a far better job of censoring what lawyers say (or fail to say) in court.
Perhaps the simplest target for irate citizens is the “person of interest” designation. The phrase has no legal meaning; it is administrative verbiage that law enforcement uses to show the public it’s working hard to find to find the guilty.

That phrase should be expunged from the Justice Department’s lexicon.

And that’s well within the President’s prerogatives.


America’s Toughest Sheriff Still Defiant. DOJ Probe “Political.”

By William Fisher

After the Justice Department charged that Joe Arpaio -- who likes to call himself America’s toughest sheriff -- discriminated against Latinos and punished those who complained, the cop whose defiance of the Feds became his mantra reacted true to form: he again defied the Feds by labeling the charges “political.”

In a sharply-worded rebuke following a three-year investigation, the Department of Justice said in a letter that the office headed by the larger-than-life sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona (Phoenix) showed “a pervasive culture of discriminatory bias against Latinos” that included “the highest levels of the agency.” The letter also noted that, earlier in its investigation, Arpaio had refused to cooperate and forced the DOJ to sue him, obliging Arpaio and his deputies to cooperate.

The 22-page letter, signed by Thomas E. Perez, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, is addressed to the Maricopa County Attorney. If Arpaio and his office refused to enter into a court-approved settlement agreement, the government would file a lawsuit to compel compliance.

The letter is also seen as the opening salvo of a legal war against Arpaio and his methods. The DOJ is currently conducting a separate federal grand jury investigation into allegations of abuse of power by the department’s public corruption department and for denying the civil rights of those they apprehend or imprison.

Adding yet more weight to the DOJ letter, Arpaio – who has been reelected to his post four times – is up for reelection in 2014. Some observers believe that the growth of the County’s Latino population, and its increasing political sophistication, could spell trouble for the 79-year-old lawman.

The DOJ said the allegations its letter were based on interviewing more than 400 inmates, deputies and others, including Arpaio and his senior deputies, visiting the jail, and reading internal documents numbering into the thousands of pages.

The investigation concluded that Latinos in Maricopa County were receiving “second-class policing services” and that a “culture of bias” exists in Arpaio’s office. At a news briefing, the DOJ spokesman said, “We have to do cultural change and culture change starts with people at the top.”

In a related development, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano – a former governor of Arizona -- announced that, as a result of the DOJ’s findings, the federal government would no longer allow Arpaio’s deputies to use the DHS database to check the immigration status of inmates in their custody.

Arpaio’s office has participated in several DHS programs, including one known as 287(g), which empowers local law enforcement officers to enforce Federal immigration law. That program has been widely criticized on a number of grounds, including the local police or sheriff’s lack of experience enforcing complex immigration law. Because of the DOJ investigation, his participation in this program was terminated by the DHS.

The DHS also limited the sheriff’s office’s access to the database it uses for another of its more controversial programs, known as Secure Communities. This program allows local law enforcement agencies to check the immigration status of people it has in custody and to notify the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), which handles deportation proceedings. The program was designed to identify serious criminals in the US illegally and has been heavily criticized for identifying for deportation people arrested for committing minor crimes, such as speeding or driving with a broken taillight.

The DHS said in a statement, “The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is troubled by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) findings of discriminatory policing practices within the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO). Discrimination undermines law enforcement and erodes the public trust. DHS will not be a party to such practices. Accordingly, and effective immediately, DHS is terminating MCSO’s 287(g) jail model agreement and is restricting the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office access to the Secure Communities program.

“This is a sad day for America as a whole,” Sheriff Arpaio told The New York Times. “We are proud of the work we have done to fight illegal immigration,” he said, adding that he is merely following the law.

But the DOJ investigation found mountains of evidence that the sheriff’s office were practicing the most egregious forms of racial profiling in targeting Latinos.

Their letter said “The absence of clear policies and procedures to ensure effective and constitutional policing, along with the deviations from widely accepted policing and correctional practices, and the failure to implement meaningful oversight and accountability structures, have contributed to a chronic culture of disregard for basic legal and constitutional obligations.”

The DOJ said that a substantial percentage of the incident reports filed after traffic-related stops suggest that these stops may have violated the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable seizures.

The report also noted that Sheriff Arpaio had conducted numerous raids targeting illegal immigrants. These raids were highly publicized and were sometimes prompted by complaints simply referred to people with “dark skin” or to Spanish speakers congregating in an area. “The use of these types of bias-infected indicators as a basis for conducting enforcement activity contributes to the high number of stops and detentions lacking in legal justification,” the report said.

Sheriff Arpaio has become the darling of Republican candidates for the presidency. He has had visits from Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, Rep. Michele Bachmann, former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, and Herman Cain, who has since dropped out of the race. Arpaio has endorsed Governor Perry.

Arpaio has won reelection four times by hefty margins. But in recent months, his popularity appears to have somewhat declined due to allegations that his department misappropriated county funds and failed to adequately investigate more than 400 sexual-abuse cases, where many of the complainants were illegal immigrants.
Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the ACLU of Arizona filed a lawsuit challenging the illegal arrest and detention of a U.S. citizen and a legal resident by Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) deputies. It is described below as fairly typical of the tactics used by Arpaio’s officers. It was written by the lawyers for two men who were driving down a public roadway when they were stopped and arrested without justification, and transported to the site of an immigration raid.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona on behalf of Julian Mora, a legal permanent resident who has lived in the U.S. for 30 years, and his son Julio Mora, a US citizen, against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Maricopa County. The lawsuit charges that the MCSO deputies racially profiled the father and son as they drove their pickup truck on a busy public road and illegally arrested and detained them, violating the US Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law and prohibition on unreasonable seizures.

Julian Mora was driving to work when, without provocation, an MCSO vehicle cut in front of him forcing him to stop abruptly. MCSO deputies then ordered the father and son out of their vehicle, then frisked and handcuffed them. Although the deputies had no reason to believe that the Moras had broken any law or were in the country unlawfully, they transported the Moras to Handyman Maintenance, Inc. (HMI), where MCSO was conducting a raid that morning. For the next three hours, the Moras were held in handcuffs at HMI, where they were denied food and water and forbidden contact with the outside world. They were not released until they were interrogated.

The ordeal was particularly humiliating for 66-year-old Julian Mora who, due to his diabetic condition, has difficulty controlling his bladder and had an urgent need to use the bathroom. MCSO personnel, however, rejected his repeated requests. Eventually, deputies escorted him outside where he was made to urinate in the parking lot. MCSO personnel later mocked his son Julio when he had to use the bathroom, because he had difficulty going with his hands still cuffed.

"To this day, I don't know why the officers stopped us out of all the cars on the road," said 19-year-old Julio Mora. "We were treated like criminals and never told why. I was very scared. I never thought something like this would happen to me. Now I know it can happen to anyone, citizens too. I don't think it's fair."

The federal lawsuit was settled when Arpaio’s lawyer agreed to a $200,000 payout to the Moras.

There are more than a thousand other lawsuits pending against Arpaio and his office. Many of these types of suits have been settled out of court, limiting the availability of details. But the cost of the settlements to the County are substantial.

The DOJ investigation has focused on the Sheriff’s office (MCSO's) compliance with the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 42 U.S.C. § 14141 ("Section 14141"), and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,42 U.S.C. §§ 2000d to 2000d-7 and its implementing regulations at 28 C.F.R. § 42.101 et seq. ("Title VI"). Section 14141 prohibits law enforcement agencies, such as MCSO, from engaging in activities that amount to a pattern or practice of violating the Constitution or laws of the United States.

Title VI and its implementing regulations provide that recipients of federal financial assistance, such as MCSO, may not discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national origin. These laws give the United States the authority to file legal action and obtain the necessary relief to ensure compliance with the Constitution and laws of the United States.