05 24 2016
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  • The judge concluded Officer Edward Nero played little role in the arrest and wasn't responsible for the failure by police to buckle Gray in  
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  • Bill Cosby faces a preliminary hearing Tuesday to determine if his criminal sex-assault case in suburban Philadelphia goes to trial.Prosecutors had declined to charge the comedian-actor over the 2005 complaint, but arrested him in December after his explosive deposition in the woman's lawsuit became public. In the testimony given in that deposition, Cosby is grilled about giving drugs and alcohol to women before sex; making secret payments to ex-lovers; and hosting Andrea Constand at his home. They knew each other through Temple University, where he was a trustee and she managed the women's basketball team. Bill Cosby's wife refused to answer dozens of questions during a combative deposition in a defamation lawsuit filed by seven women who say the comedian branded them liars after they accused him of sexually assaulting them, according to a transcript released Friday. Camille Cosby was subjected to intense questioning by the women's lawyer, who repeatedly pressed her to say whether she believes her husband "acted with a lack of integrity" during their 52-year marriage. The lawyer also asked if her husband used his position and power "to manipulate young women." Camille Cosby didn't answer those questions and many others after her lawyer cited marital privilege, the legal protection given to communications between spouses. She repeatedly said she had "no opinion" when pressed on whether she viewed her husband's behavior as dishonest and a violation of their marriage vows. About 50 women have publicly accused Bill Cosby of forcing unwanted sexual contact on them decades ago. Cosby has denied the allegations. He faces a criminal case in Pennsylvania, where prosecutors have charged him with sexually violating a former Temple University employee, Andrea Constand. He has pleaded not guilty. Camille Cosby answered questions in the deposition Feb. 22 and again April 19 after her lawyers argued unsuccessfully to stop it. A judge ruled she would have to give a deposition but said she could refuse to answer questions about private communications between her and her husband. Camille Cosby's lawyer, Monique Pressley, repeatedly cited that privilege and advised her not to answer many questions asked by the women's lawyer, Joseph Cammarata. The exchanges between Cammarata and Cosby became testy at times, and she admonished him: "Don't lecture me. Just keep going with the questions." Using a transcript of a deposition Bill Cosby gave in a civil lawsuit filed by Constand in 2005 and a transcript of an interview she gave to Oprah Winfrey in 2000, Cammarata asked Camille Cosby about extramarital affairs her husband had. "Were you aware of your husband setting up trusts for the benefit of women that he had a sexual relationship with?" Cammarata asked. She didn't answer after her lawyer cited marital privilege. Cammarata asked her about Shawn Thompson, a woman who said Bill Cosby fathered her daughter, Autumn Jackson, in the 1970s. Jackson was convicted in 1997 of attempting to extort money from Bill Cosby to prevent her from telling a tabloid she's his daughter. He acknowledged he had an affair with her mother and had given her money. "Was it a big deal when this came up in the 1970s that your husband had — big deal to you that your husband had an extramarital affair and potentially had a daughter from that extramarital affair?" Cammarata asked. "It was a big deal then, yes," Camille Cosby replied. She said she had "no opinion" on whether her husband's admission he obtained quaaludes to give to women with whom he wanted to have sex violated their marriage vows. Her lawyer objected and instructed her not to answer when Cammarata asked her if she ever suspected she had been given any type of drug to alter her state of consciousness when she had sex with her husband. A spokesman for the Cosbys declined to comment on her deposition. The Cosbys have a home in Shelburne Falls, an hour's drive from Springfield, where the lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages, was filed. An attorney handling a separate lawsuit against Bill Cosby revealed Friday that Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner provided sworn testimony Wednesday. In the sexual battery lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, Judy Huth says Cosby forced her to perform a sex act on him at the Playboy Mansion around 1974, when she was 15. Bill Cosby's former lawyers have accused Huth of attempting to extort him before filing the case and have tried unsuccessfully to have it dismissed. Huth's attorney, Gloria Allred, said Hefner's testimony will remain under seal for now. Hefner also was named as a defendant in a case filed Monday by former model Chloe Goins, who accuses Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually abusing her at the Playboy Mansion in 2008.   The Associated Press generally doesn't identify people who say they're victims of sexual abuse, but the women accusing Cosby have come forward to tell their stories.___AP Entertainment Writer Anthony McCartney contributed to this report from Los Angeles.
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  • Some hope killing will bring peace in Afghanistan     
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Sen. Ron Wyden

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court has declared illegal the National Security Agency program that collects data on the landline telephone records of nearly every American. The ruling Thursday, the first of its kind by an appeals court, comes as Congress considers whether to continue, end or overhaul the program before June 1, when the legal provisions authorizing it expire.

Five things to know about the court ruling, the program and the congressional debate about where to go from here:

NOT-SO-SECRET SURVEILLANCE PROGRAM

At issue is an NSA program that for years has been collecting and storing data on American phone calls — a closely held secret until it was leaked by former NSA systems administrator Edward Snowden in 2013. The NSA collects information on the number called and date and time of the call, and stores it in a database that it queries using phone numbers associated with terrorists overseas. Officials say they don't use the data for any other purpose.

The idea is to hunt for hidden domestic terrorists akin to the hijackers who carried out the 9/11 attacks. But the program has not been particularly valuable as a counter-terrorism tool, and is becoming less so, since, for technical and bureaucratic reasons, the NSA has not been gathering the data on most mobile calls.

DEMOCRATIC APPOINTEES AGREE

A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled that the practice was not legally justified under the law its creators cited to implement it, Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. In a unanimous ruling written by Judge Gerard Lynch, the court held that Section 215 "does not authorize the telephone metadata program," despite years of secret legal rulings by an intelligence court that it could.

The appeals court rejected an argument that since the law allows the government to seize records relevant to a terrorism investigation, it was sufficient to declare all the country's phone records relevant. The ruling, however, allows the program to continue, since the provisions expire June 1 and Congress is debating their future.

All three of the 2nd Circuit judges are Democratic appointees.

CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUE UNRESOLVED

What the court did not address was whether the program is constitutional. Other legal cases have argued that it is not.

Opponents say the seizure and search of their records from telephone companies violates their expectations of privacy under the Fourth Amendment because the government failed to obtain a search warrant based on probable cause to believe that evidence of criminal conduct will be found in the records. The program's backers rely on what is known as the third-party doctrine, under which the Supreme Court has held that personal records people voluntarily turn over to companies, including phone records and email, are not protected by the Fourth Amendment.

CONGRESSIONAL DEBATE CONTINUES

The court's ruling sharpens the focus on the ongoing congressional debate about the program. The Patriot Act provisions in question expire June 1 unless Congress reauthorizes them. Republicans and Democrats in the House have agreed on a bill to do that while also ending the government's bulk collection of the records. Senate leaders are backing a competing measure that would maintain the status quo, but they are open to compromise.

The divisions on the issue don't run neatly along partisan lines. Libertarian-leaning Republicans have joined many Democrats in arguing that a secret intelligence agency should not be storing the records of every American phone call. Some Democrats and Republicans assert that the program is needed now more than ever, given the efforts by the Islamic State group to inspire extremists to attack inside the U.S.

The House Judiciary Committee last month overwhelmingly passed the latest version of a bill known as the USA Freedom Act, which would end the NSA's collection and storage of the phone records. Instead, it would allow the agency to request records held by telephone companies under a court order in terrorism investigations.

A NOD TO SNOWDEN?

Some were arguing Thursday that the court's ruling was a vindication for Snowden, who is under indictment in the U.S. and living in exile in Moscow. Indeed, one of the three judges, Robert Sack, authored a separate opinion that appeared to paint Snowden as a whistleblower.

Many other people, including senior U.S. officials, sharply disagree. They note that Snowden's disclosures about NSA activities were far broader than this single program, revealing espionage that had no implication for Americans' privacy.

Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell served on a task force in the wake of the Snowden leaks that recommended ending NSA's bulk collection of phone records. In a new book, Morell calls Snowden's leak "the greatest compromise of classified information ever" that did "enormous" damage.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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