Civil Rights

Civil Rights Commission Slams Bush's Record
Civil Rights

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights reports, "Civil rights problems remain entrenched in American society, the stubborn result of unequal treatment over time. Discrimination in housing, employment, and the voting booth, unequal educational opportunity, and other problems still stand between some Americans and true equality. Presidential leadership is necessary to break down obstacles and realize the promise of civil rights. What follows are the results of the Commission's examination, expressed in terms of: (1) whether civil rights enforcement is a presidential priority; (2) federal efforts to eradicate entrenched discrimination; (3) expanding and protecting rights for disadvantaged groups; and (4) promoting access to federal programs and services for traditionally underserved populations. This report finds that President Bush has neither exhibited leadership on pressing civil rights issues, nor taken actions that matched his words."

USSCR Report Criticizes Bush's Civil Rights Record, Commission to Discuss Findings after Election
Civil Rights

AP: "The United States Commission on Civil Rights voted on Friday to wait until after next month's election to discuss a report critical of the Bush administration's civil rights record. Republican members had objected to the report's timing. The report remains posted on the commission's Web site (http://www.usccr.gov/), despite objections from Republican commissioners." Hey, don't American voters have a right to know all they can about the Bush Administration record on Civil Rights? Apparently, Republicans think that reporting on their candidate's record before the election is unacceptable! Aren't they proud of their Resident's record? Read the report for yourself at the USCCR site!

Nevermind -- Hamdi Wasn't So Bad After All
Civil Rights

Dahlia Lithwick writes: "Hamdi's case, decided by the Supreme Court earlier this year, was supposed to represent a high-water mark for American freedoms during wartime. He had fought for and won his day in court, an opportunity to question his captors, and a chance at national vindication at the end of it all. Hamdi's name stood for the proposition that the Bush administration couldn't run roughshod over the courts and the law in its pursuit of the war on terror. It now stands for precisely the opposite: With a yawn and a shrug, the administration sidestepped the courts and the judicial process once again, abandoning this criminal prosecution altogether and erasing the episode from our national memory. Hamdi has been stripped of his citizenship and his freedom to travel, and sent packing to his family. The rights and processes guaranteed him by the Supreme Court have been yanked away one last time, by an executive branch that held him for years for no reason..."

Black Leaders in Texas Fight Back against DA who Tried to Intimidate Black Voters
Civil Rights

"Black leaders filed a federal lawsuit against several white officials in Waller County, TX, alleging "an extensive illegal reign of terror against African-American" officials. One of the six plaintiffs, Justice of the Peace Dewayne Charleston, said District Attorney Oliver Kitzman sought to intimidate people after he lost a legal battle this year to keep students at historically black Prairie View A&M University from voting in the county northwest of Houston. [Kitzman] made false claims against them, the suit says, in one case accusing Charleston of misreporting the hours he worked. The lawsuit says that although Charleston was cleared of the allegation Kitzman continues to try to indict him." Texas Gov. Rick Perry also is named because he holds the power to remove Kitzman from office. The lawsuit claims civil rights violations, conspiracy, malicious prosecution, infliction of emotional distress and libel. "

Mississippi Town Honors Slain Civil Rights Activists
Civil Rights

Lynda Edwards: "The last thing Jewel McDonald's parents saw, that night in 1964 when her mother was nearly beaten to death, were white Ku Klux Klan robes fluttering like doves' wings through the dark as Klansmen ran toward her church. As they beat members of the tiny black congregation in rural Mississippi, the Klansmen ranted that the attack was punishment for participating in a voter registration drive organized by three civil rights activists. Soon afterward, the church burned to the ground. When the three young activists -- James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman -- tried to investigate, they were abducted on a rural road and murdered. No one was ever tried for the killings."

Bush to 'Honor' Brown vs Board of Ed. Site Dedication with Empty Platitudes and False Claims
Civil Rights

On Monday, Bush will speak at the ceremony dedicating the historic Brown vs the Board of Ed. site in Topeka Kansas. So what "words of wisdom" will Dubya offer? None. He is instead opting for back-to-back platitudes. Gushes White House wonk Trent Duffy: "You'll hear him say America has come a long way in 50 years, but we have a lot of work to do. We need to work together and lift each other up." Bush will also claim his No Child Left Behind education plan - which has failed miserably so far - will "end the soft bigotry of low expectations." But, writes the Boston Globe, "Bush, whose campaign in 2000 seemed to offer the promise of a stronger relationship between wary minorities and the nation's top Republican, has angered minorities by refusing to fully fund his education plan, opposing affirmative action, and nominating federal judges whose records on civil rights have been criticized."

Federal Appeals Court: Al Qaeda Can Be Allowed to Testify at Moussaoui Trial
Civil Rights

Detroit Free Press reports: "A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that the Justice Department's prosecution of terrorism suspect Zacarias Moussaoui should proceed and reinstated a key part of the government's case: charges linking the French citizen to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But the three-judge panel rejected the government's argument that Moussaoui wasn't entitled to any form of testimony from three Al Qaeda operatives, who he says could exonerate him. The judges from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., wrote that the high-ranking Al Qaeda members could provide 'material, favorable testimony on Moussaoui's behalf.' "

Martin Luther King Jr. Is Still Speaking Out
Civil Rights

From People for the American Way: "Many remember a Martin Luther King Jr. who is restricted to the battles against racial segregation he valiantly fought during his lifetime. But his was a broader battle for justice, and that battle is not over. It presses on in the face of intolerance and injustice. Dr. King's struggle was one of engagement. Activism. Participation. 'The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict,' said King. Martin Luther King's call to moral national behavior was consistently applied to all matters of justice. As we reflect upon the events of Dr. King's inspirational life and untimely death, let us celebrate his breadth and depth with an open ear. Below we present Dr. King in his own words."

Rumsfeld Petitions Supremes to Overrule Padilla Decision
Civil Rights

On behalf of the Empire, Darth Rumsfeld has personally filed a petition demanding that his pals in the Supreme Court overturn the appeals court ruling that Joseph Padilla cannot be detained as an enemy combatant. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals said Bush could not order an American seized on US soil to be detained as an enemy combatant. On Friday, a brief filed by the Justice Department with the Supreme Court, listing Rumsfeld as sole petitioner, said the lower court ruling "undermines the constitutional authority of the Commander-in-Chief to protect the United States against additional enemy attacks launched within the nation's borders."

BushCroft Perverts Mission of Civil Rights Division
Civil Rights

Bush "has given the US justice department's civil rights division the job of enforcing a contentious new ban on late-term abortions. The move has provoked furious accusations that the White House is perverting the government's role in promoting civil rights. In the past, the civil rights division has been instrumental in ensuring black Americans have the right to vote and equal access to housing... In a letter to Mr Ashcroft, Democratic members of the House of Representatives judiciary committee accused him of perverting the federal government's role in promoting civil rights. 'Your decision is a slap in the face of the civil rights community, and does a grave disservice to the many Americans who gave their lives for the cause of civil rights laws in this country,' the letter says. 'It is Orwellian that you would have the civil rights division enforce a law which has been essentially found by the supreme court to violate the civil rights of millions of American women.'"

Padilla v. Rumsfeld: 'The Lords of the Bar' Take on the Bush Regime
Civil Rights

Nat Hentoff writes: "Ignored by most media, an array of prominent federal judges, government officials, and other members of the legal establishment has joined in a historic rebellion against George W. Bush's unprecedented and unconstitutional arrogance of power that threatens the fundamental right of American citizens to have access to their lawyers before disappearing indefinitely into military custody without charges, without seeing an attorney or anyone except their guards. The case, Padilla v. Rumsfeld, is now before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. In a compelling friend-of-the-court brief on Padilla's behalf ...legal luminaries of the establishment bar, they charge:'[We] believe the Executive's position in this case threatens the basic 'rule of law' on which our country is founded, the role of the federal judiciary and the separations in our national government, and fundamental individual liberties enshrined in our Constitution.'"

King Speech Shook America 40 Years Ago
Civil Rights

Gary Dorsey writes: "It was a violent time with violent prospects. But instead of rage and fury, he gave America a dream. Forty years ago today in Washington, 17,000 combat-ready troops prepared for what only seemed inevitable. Stores closed and chain-locked their doors; Washington's Archbishop Patrick O'Boyle told his nuns to stay inside for fear of rioting in the streets. More than 250,000 people gathered for the 'March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.' The nation braced for a backlash. The country was in the midst of a racial nightmare: In the summer of 1963, many states still operated segregated school districts; less than 10 percent of African-Americans in the South's 100 largest counties were registered to vote; in many places, blacks could not even serve on juries. That spring, in Birmingham, Ala., police commissioner Bull Connor turned his dogs on peaceful demonstrators."

Judge Criticizes Police Methods of Questioning War Protesters
Civil Rights

NY Times reports: "A federal judge in Manhattan criticized police officials [last week] for the way demonstrators against the war in Iraq were interrogated earlier this year, and he made clear that civil liberties lawyers could seek to hold the city in contempt of court in the future if the police violate people's rights."

US Court Says Bush Regime Can Hold Secret Prisoners
Civil Rights

"The Justice Department properly withheld the names and other details about hundreds of foreigners detained in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday... The new appeals decision rejected arguments by the Center for National Security Studies and other public interest groups that the Justice Department should publicly provide the names of the detainees, names of their lawyers, dates they were picked up and the reasons they were detained. 'We're disappointed that for the first time ever, a U.S. court has sanctioned secret arrests,' said Kate Martin, a lawyer for the center. She said the organization plans to pursue the case." David Sentelle was a judge ruling on this case. He was the Federalist Society Member, and Jesse Helms protege, who sat on the three-judge panel that appointed Ken Starr to investigate Clinton, after a lunch with Helms and then-Senator Lauch Faircloth.

U.S. Will Tighten Rules on Holding Terror Suspects
Civil Rights

"Federal authorities said today that they planned to use stricter standards for identifying and locking up terrorist suspects in light of concerns raised in a recent report that hundreds of illegal immigrants were mistreated... Law enforcement officials plan to make at least 12 structural changes that were recommended in a report issued last week by the Justice Department inspector general... Glenn A. Fine's report found that few of the 762 illegal immigrants arrested after Sept. 11 had clear ties to terrorism, but that many were held for months in what the report characterized as harsh conditions, often without access to lawyers. Inmates in Brooklyn were subjected to physical and verbal abuse... Immigrant rights advocates cautioned, however, that even if all the recommendations were adopted, they might not go far enough to ensure that illegal immigrants suspected of terrorism were given proper access to lawyers, judicial review and adequate conditions of confinement."

SOA Protester Gets Solitary for 'Political' News Clippings
Civil Rights

From AP: "An inmate serving 90 days at the federal prison camp here for protesting at another military base was put in solitary confinement because he received and distributed political newspaper and magazine clippings, his lawyer said Thursday. Bill Quigley said the minimum-security prison camp transferred his client, William 'Bud' Combs, to the Santa Rosa County Jail for eight days of solitary after friends sent him anti-war and social justice articles from The New York Times, Readers' Digest, Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, the BBC and the British newspaper The Guardian. 'Even in prison you're not supposed to be punished for reading the paper,' Quigley said... 'This gives us an idea about the arbitrary power, and what people consider political activity, in prison'... Combs, 59, an Air Force veteran and retired teacher from Tallahassee, pleaded guilty to trespassing... while protesting the Western Hemisphere Institute of Security Cooperation [formerly the School of the Americas]."

Supremes Provide a Victory to One Category of Job-Bias Plaintiffs
Civil Rights

NY Times reports: "A unanimous Supreme Court made it significantly easier today for workers to win discrimination suits against their employers in cases where race, sex, religion or national origin is one factor among others in a dismissal or other adverse job action." From the second page of the article: "A 4-to-4 tie had the effect of affirming, without opinion, a decision by the federal appeals court in New York that Vietnam veterans who were exposed to the toxic herbicide Agent Orange and who became ill after 1994 were free to pursue lawsuits against the manufacturers."

Justice Takes a Beating
Civil Rights

From an LA Times Editorial: "While Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas labored to justify the bullying interrogation of a farm worker whom an Oxnard police officer had just gravely wounded, Justice John Paul Stevens, dissenting, called the inquisition what it was: 'the functional equivalent' of torture. Thomas' 6-3 majority opinion Tuesday rolls back decades of constitutional protections against self-incrimination and all but invites the backroom rough-'em-up police tactics of old... Because Martinez had not been advised of his rights, the court said, had police charged him based on his nearly incoherent statements, his disclosures would not have been admissible as evidence anyway. Three cases before the court next term could push at the boundaries of permissible evidence in criminal cases. The Martinez case turns back the clock, and the coming cases could multiply the harm to a civilized justice system."

Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Case on Secret Deportation Hearings
Civil Rights

"The Supreme Court gave the Bush administration a major legal victory in the war on terrorism [i.e. the expansion of the Bushcroft police state] Tuesday, rejecting a challenge to secret deportation hearings for hundreds of foreigners. After the Sept. 11 attacks, the government ordered all immigration hearings closed if the foreigners were deemed 'special interest' cases because of possible ties to terrorism. The government alone decides if a case is of special interest. The court declined to hear an appeal from New Jersey newspapers seeking information about the detainees, but lawyers for the newspapers said they still hoped the administration would change its policy."

Reaffirming Miranda
Civil Rights

From a New York Times Editorial: "The Miranda warning, that staple of late-night cop shows, has been under attack from right-wing lawyers who say that informing suspects of their rights makes it too hard to get convictions. Yesterday, the Supreme Court agreed to take a Missouri case that could scale back the effectiveness of Miranda warnings. At issue is a two-step form of questioning, which Missouri's highest court called an 'end run' around Miranda. The Supreme Court should hold that such interrogation violates the Fifth Amendment's protection against self-incrimination."

For W, War and Tax Breaks Trump Fighting Job Discrimination
Civil Rights

Bruce Ticker writes: "To bring freedom and democracy to Iraq, George W. Bush is now paying for it with my freedom and democracy. Bush can find billions of dollars to wage a war which has yet to make sense, but for the moment it is not clear if Bush and Congress can find $18.3 million to keep the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in operation. In plain English, Bush is eroding a piece of my freedom."

Bush May Oppose Affirmative Action Case
Civil Rights

Writes Ron Fournier: "Bush administration lawyers are laying the groundwork to oppose a University of Michigan program that gives preference to minority students, a step that would inject Bush into the biggest affirmative action case in a generation."

In the Wake of Lott's Departure, Democrats and Republicans Prepare for Major Civil Rights Battles
Civil Rights

WashPost reports, "Democrats are condemning Frist's own history, including his membership in the all-white Belle Meade Country Club in Nashville before he ran for the Senate, and probing his background to see if he can be portrayed as being insensitive to the plight of African Americans. Democrats hope to capitalize on the Lott controversy by reviving several issues that will test the GOP's commitment to African Americans [through] hate crimes legislation, which would mandate harsher penalties for crimes motivated by race, sexual preference or other factors, and tailor any new tax cuts to the poor... [also] banning racial profiling and changing death penalty laws, which they feel discriminate against blacks. Republicans are working on an agenda designed to highlight their commitment [sic] to minorities without repudiating their positions on issues such as affirmative action... [through] school choice [voucher] initiatives, greater assistance to inner-city charities [through churches]."

Bush and Ashcroft - Like Lott and Thurmond - Are Tenaciously Fighting for States' Rights
Civil Rights

People For the American Way writes, "While George W. Bush and other Republican leaders have publicly distanced themselves from Trent Lott in the wake of his praise for Strom Thurmond's segregationist presidential campaign, there is no substantive difference between Lott and the Bush administration when it comes to current civil rights policies. A report released today documents that the Bush administration and its Senate allies have in fact been aggressively promoting a legal and judicial agenda that would turn back the clock on many of the legal and social justice gains of the past five decades... [The report] focuses on the record of the Bush administration and in particular the Justice Department under John Ashcroft regarding civil rights enforcement. It examines the impact of the administration's commitment to appointing federal judges and Supreme Court justices who share the states' rights judicial philosophy being pushed by Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas."

College SATs Incompatible with Black Mobility
Civil Rights

The Black Commentator reports: "The plaintiffs at the U of Mich law school [who are challenging affirmative action] are seeking to give test scores something approximating the force of law. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the white women, persons who have achieved higher test scores will be entitled to commensurate, enhanced 'rights' under the law as long as these tests carry weight. Black students will have no rights other than those bestowed on them by the Princeton Educational Testing Service. The assault against the Black presence in higher education is fundamental, and can only be effectively countered by a battle to expunge the SAT's from national life. It's us or them. Black people's rights to historical redress are about to be replaced by a new right to test-based privileges. Unless the tyranny of standardized tests is abolished, root and branch, there is no hope for generalized Black upward mobility through education."

In Bush's Pocket: Judges Agree to Hear Critical Affirmative Action Test Case in Spring
Civil Rights

"This marks the first time since the Bakke case in 1978 that the Supreme Court has accepted a case involving affirmative action in higher education," reports Americans for a Fair Chance. "In previous terms, the Court declined to hear cases involving the admissions programs at the University of Texas and the University of Washington, two cases in which the circuit courts came to different conclusions regarding the Bakke standard, that race could be considered to achieve a diverse student body. In May 2002, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling in the Law School case (Grutter v. Bollinger) that upheld the consideration of race in its admissions program, consistent with the Bakke holding, and thus, creating further conflict among the various circuits." We fear the court's hearing of the case is all just part of the "Bush Plan."

Did the Era of Rights End on September 11th?
Civil Rights

Aryeh Neier writes: "In the past two decades, there has been a substantial decline in judicial receptiveness to claims of rights. Certain rights have been badly battered under the assault from twin forces: the war on crime and the war on drugs. Increased racial profiling, diminishing protection against search and seizure, grossly inadequate legal representation of indigent criminal defendants, more frequent use of the death penalty and a four-fold increase in incarceration have been among the consequences. Thus far, however, there has not been a significant erosion of political freedom. The rights of Americans to speak, assemble and protest seem well established. And, before September 11, there was no sign of a resurrection of the system of political surveillance." This article gives an historical overview of the rights movement and speculates about Bush's real impact on it.

Test Case Challenging Affirmative Action Heads to Supreme Court, Within Days
Civil Rights

"On or near Dec. 2, the US Supreme Court is expected to announce whether it will hear a case brought by white students who challenged the University of Michigan's affirmative action program for law school admissions and at the undergraduate school. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in May 2002 that taking race into account in college admissions was constitutional. The Supreme Court's decision could reopen the debate about the constitutionality of including race in higher education admissions and could either affirm or overturn the Court's 1978 decision in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke. Americans for a Fair Chance, a coalition of leading civil rights legal organizations, says this case could be the most important ruling on equal opportunity in education since the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954."

ChickenHawk Bush Can't Even Face Patriotic Americans Protesting His Secretive, Fascist Policies
Civil Rights

Dana M. Nichols and Audrey Cooper write: "One of the largest protests in Stockton history was largely invisible to its intended target: President [sic] Bush. Big rig trailers, buses and other security tactics effectively blocked the view from protest sites to Bush events Friday at Stockton Memorial Civic Auditorium and A.G. Spanos Jet Center, sparking charges of unconstitutional interference with protesters' freedom of speech. 'This is consciously and in an organized fashion endeavoring to deny us our civil rights, and they know it,' said Forrest Schmidt, an organizer with International Action Center in San Francisco...Schmidt offered to allow police to do security checks on his group so they could protest in sight of the auditorium, but officers refused, forcing protesters onto narrow stretches of Center Street where it crosses Fremont and Oak streets... Meanwhile, flag-waving Bush supporters were allowed to stand along yellow caution tape and watch the president [sic]..."

US Citizens Held for the Duration of the Undeclared W-ar without Charges, Legal Aid
Civil Rights

The ABA reports: "Some al-Qaida and Taliban fighters captured in the war on terrorism—including at least two U.S. citizens—may never be charged with crimes, a high-ranking Justice Department official acknowledged Saturday. 'It’s perfectly conceivable that some of these people captured on the field of battle and held at Guantanamo won't be charged at the end of the day,' said Assistant Attorney General Michael Chertoff, head of the department's criminal division...But when asked about two Americans held in U.S. military lockups, he suggested they also may never face charges. 'Geography won't make any difference to the law,' he said. The Americans are alleged 'dirty bomb' plotter José Padilla, arrested in Chicago, and Yaser Esam Hamdi, suspected of fighting for the Taliban in Afghanistan. Chertoff said he presumed that imprisoned fighters not charged with crimes—whom he described as 'incapacitated'—eventually would be released. But he was unable to say when any of them might be let go."

Rep. McKinney (D-GA) Warns of Civil Rights Abuses Under Guise of War on Terrorism
Civil Rights

"One of [Bush's] first acts...was to waive the high deployment overtime pay of [those] serving on the front lines of our new War...the War on Terrorism has the potential to bring the US military into American life as never before...growing concern that the military will be used domestically, within our borders, with intelligence and law enforcement mandates as some now call for a review of the Posse Comitatus Act prohibitions on military activity within our country...Under the cloak of the Cold War, military intelligence was used for domestic purposes to conduct surveillance on civil rights, social equity, antiwar, and other activists...When taken into account with the extra-judicial incarceration of thousands of immigration violators, the transfer of prisoners from law enforcement custody to military custody, and the consideration of a 'volunteer' terrorism tip program, America must stand up and protect itself from the threat not only of terrorism, but of a police state of its own."

Appointed by Bush, US Civil Rights Commission Member Speculates about Arab-American Internment Camps
Civil Rights

"A member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission said in Detroit on Friday he could foresee a scenario in which the public would demand internment camps for ArabAmericans if Arab terrorists strike again in this country. If there's a future terrorist attack in America 'and they come from the same ethnic group that attacked the World Trade Center, you can forget about civil rights,' commission member Peter Kirsanow said. The reason, he said, is that 'the public would be less concerned about any perceived erosion of civil liberties than they are about protecting their own lives.' Kirsanow, who was appointed to the commission last year by President [sic] George W. Bush, said after the session that he personally doesn't support such camps and the government would never envision them [?]. He said he was merely saying public opinion would so strongly favor the idea that it would be difficult to prevent." Sounds like Ollie North's old EMPD plan for camps (Enter 'fema' in our search engine).

NAACP Chair Julian Bond Blasts Bush for Failure to Enforce Civil Rights Laws and More
Civil Rights

"NAACP board chairman Julian Bond criticized the Bush administration Sunday, saying it had failed to enforce civil rights laws. And he denounced the FBI's use of increased surveillance powers in fighting terrorism. 'We have a president who owes his election more to a dynasty than to democracy,' Bond told about 3,000 people at the 93rd annual convention of the NAACP. Two years ago, President [sic] Bush 'promised to enforce the civil rights laws,' Bond said. 'We knew he was in the oil business - we just didn't know it was snake oil'…Bond referred to the disfranchisement of black voters in Florida during the 2000 presidential election. Black voters there were almost 10 times as likely as non-black voters to have their ballots rejected, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights found. 'We've got to get out and vote and register more people so they can't steal the election next time,' said James Gallman...of the SC NAACP."

The Ashcroft Injustice Department Protects the Thief in Chief
Civil Rights

Tom Edsall of the Washington Post writes, "The Justice Department's intervention in three Florida counties, which it accuses of violating voters' rights in the 2000 presidential election, deals mainly with would-be voters who needed 'language assistance,' according to letters released by the counties. Some civil rights groups complained yesterday that the inquiry should tackle a more controversial issue: Florida's purge of voter registration lists, which allegedly denied many minority voters access to the ballot box in November 2000... Anita Hodgkiss, director of the voting rights project for the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights [said] the inquiry also should address the 'statewide purging of voters,' -- an issue that might draw Gov. Jeb Bush [R-crook] and Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris into the voting rights litigation."

The Founding Fathers Did Not Limit the Constitution's Civil Rights to Citizens
Civil Rights

"Lately I've been reading the Constitution. It's a short document -- scarcely 7,000 words. I can't find any place in the Constitution making a distinction between citizens and noncitizens, except in the right to vote. This is strange, because [the Bush administration] says that noncitizens are not protected by the Constitution. In fact, there are very few mentions of 'citizens' in the Constitution... 'Noncitizen' is never mentioned. The rest of the Constitution refers to 'persons,' or 'people,' or, in one case, 'the accused.' In the entire Bill of Rights, there is no mention of 'citizen' ... The Constitution says Congress declares war, and it had a chance, after Sept. 11, to do so. Instead, it adopted a resolution giving the president extraordinary powers. But it can't give the president powers that conflict with the Constitution." So writes Gwenyth Jones in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Utah Bill Passed by the State's House Defines New Crime of 'Commercial Terrorism'
Civil Rights

"The text of Utah House of Representatives Bill 100 reads: 'A person is guilty of commercial terrorism if he enters or remains unlawfully on the premises or in a building of any business with the intent to interfere with the employees, customers, personnel, or operations of a business.' This bill was amended and passed by the Utah House of Representatives and referred to the Utah Senate on February 4, 2002 in order to limit protests at the Olympics. The Senate will vote on the bill soon. Read an update on Utah House Bill 100." How does this bill play into the USA Patriot Act that shreds our constitutional rights, and that also includes broad, scary definitions of 'terrorism'?

Bush Loses First Round in His Effort to Destroy the Civil Rights Commission
Civil Rights

"President [sic] Bush lost the first round in the legal fight to appoint a conservative lawyer to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The Justice Department, however, promised to continue its efforts to get Cleveland attorney Peter Kirsanow on the commission." Bush wants to destroy the Civil Rights Commission because it blew the whistle on George & Jeb's systematic disenfranchisement of black voters to steal the Florida election. So while Bush lets election reform die, he wants to silence the most vocal critics of stolen elections. Guess who will make the final decision in this case? You guessed it - the Felonious Five.

Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday by Listening to His Speeches
Civil Rights

If Martin Luther King Jr. had not been assassinated in 1968, the world would be celebrating his 72 birthday this week. It is impossible to imagine how different the world would be if Dr. King had lived the past 33 years, leading Americans and the world in the struggle for truth and justice. Our collective loss is simply incalculable. The MLK Papers Project at Stanford Web site provides an excellent resource, including key speeches and audio excerpts. Treat yourself to the audio - there is no recorded speaker whose words are more moving than Dr. King's. And as a member of Democrats.com, you should take a moment to congratulate yourself for fighting for the very same causes that Dr. King championed. (Our thanks to Nancy Nagy.)

Helen Thomas: 'It's Time to Speak Up'
Civil Rights

"If there ever was a time when Americans should speak up on behalf of people in this country whose rights are being abridged, that time is now. I remember with tremendous sadness the statement of Martin Niemoller, a Lutheran minister in Berlin, after World War II as a warning of what can happen when people do not come to the defense of others whose civil liberties have been taken away. Niemoller said, 'In Germany they came first for the Communists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the Jews and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me-- and by that time, no was left to speak up.'"

Unwelcome Bush Civil Rights Appointee Sworn in at White House, Fate Uncertain
Civil Rights

"President [sic] Bush's appointee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights was sworn in at the White House, but the commission chairwoman says there's no room at the table. Cleveland lawyer Peter Kirsanow was sworn in Thursday night, in time for the panel's regular monthly meeting on Friday. A District of Columbia judge swore in Kirsanow with Bush's top lawyer, Alberto Gonzales, looking on. Chairwoman Mary Frances Berry says the disputed seat on the commission 'ought to be resolved in the courts.' She planned to hold the meeting without seating Kirsanow."

Leahy Praises Portland for Standing Up To Bush-Ashcroft Inquisitions
Civil Rights

"Portland's refusal to participate in a federal anti-terrorism investigation was defended Monday by U.S. Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who said he'd block any congressional effort to force the city to take part. Leahy, during a visit to the University of Portland, questioned federal plans to interrogate about 5,000 foreigners living in the United States -- about 200 in Oregon -- and praised city officials for their stand. 'It was a completely useless waste of law enforcement,' Leahy told students. 'I don't think it would accomplish much of anything.'" So reports the Oregonian.

It Can Happen Here
Civil Rights

"On the basis of secret evidence, the government accuses a non-citizen of connections to terrorism, and holds him in prison for three years. Then a judge conducts a full trial and rejects the terrorism charges. He releases the prisoner. A year later government agents rearrest the man, hold him in solitary confinement and state as facts the terrorism charges that the judge found untrue. Could that happen in America? In John Ashcroft's America it has happened...Last Saturday immigration agents arrested Mr. Al-Najjar again. The Justice Department issued a triumphant press release [that] was in direct contradiction to the findings made by Judge McHugh after a full trial...Mr. Al-Najjar is not only back in prison, he is being treated with exceptional severity, indeed cruelty. He is in solitary confinement 23 hours a day. He is not allowed to make telephone calls, and he may not see his family. Only his lawyer is permitted to visit him." So writes Anthony Lewis.

The Thought Is NOT Enough
Civil Rights

"Ashcroft is worried about blacklisting the detainees now. He's worried that if he says who they are, that it'll violate their right to secrecy. With all due respect, which frankly, these days, is not very much, it is not Ashcroft's bleeping job to worry about that. This is a request by Congress, otherwise known as the democratically elected body that the ENTIRE Executive Branch, not just the President, answers to. Once Congress demands names like this, it ought to be Congress' responsibility, and fault, if the names are leaked out. It is not Ashcroft's business to deny these names and to then, in the same breath, claim that the detentions are not secret. Forget irony. This is satire. I'd like to know how someone is not being detained in secret if his lawyer does not know where he is (as such incidents have been reported in several portions of the media.) ." So writes Jeremiah Bourque in Democratic Underground.

Safire on Bush's Kangaroo Courts
Civil Rights

Bush "is using that Roosevelt mistake as precedent for his own dismaying departure from due process. Bush's latest self-justification is his claim to be protecting jurors (by doing away with juries). Worse, his gung-ho advisers have convinced him — as well as some gullible commentators — that the Star Chamber tribunals he has ordered are 'implementations' of the lawful Uniform Code of Military Justice. Military attorneys are silently seething because they know that to be untrue. The U.C.M.J. demands a public trial, proof beyond reasonable doubt, an accused's voice in the selection of juries and right to choose counsel, unanimity in death sentencing and above all appellate review by civilians confirmed by the Senate. Not one of those fundamental rights can be found in Bush's military order setting up kangaroo courts for people he designates before 'trial' to be terrorists. Bush's fiat turns back the clock on all advances in military justice."

Ashcroft Memo Ordered Closed Immigration Courts
Civil Rights

"Ashcroft ordered unprecedented secrecy in the nation's immigration courts following the Sept. 11 attacks, documents obtained by ABC News reveal...Marked 'Please Do Not Disclose, ' [the memo] gives the following detailed instructions...'Because some of these cases may ultimately involve classified evidence, the cases are to be assigned only to judges who currently hold at least a secret clearance. 'The courtroom must be closed for these cases — no visitors, no family and no press. The record of proceeding is not to be released to anyone except an attorney or representative (of the person charged.) This restriction on information includes confirming or denying whether such a case is on the docket or scheduled for a hearing.' The memo also tells court clerks to code the cases in a way that keeps the docket information, generally a matter of public record, secret. The coding also keeps the cases from appearing on posted court calendars."

America's 'Disappeared'
Civil Rights

"'In recent weeks, student demonstrators, global justice workers, civil libertarians, animals rights and peace activists have been characterized as terrorists sympathizers.' What is more frightening is that more than 1,100 people, mostly Arab-Americans -- some of whom may have left their countries because of similar police practices -- have now been arrested and held mostly without disclosure of their identities, their locations or the charges against them. Civil rights activists say these practices are frighteningly close to the notorious practice of 'disappearing' people in Latin America...To people who left countries familiar with the pain of the 'disappeared,' it seems that more evil visitors have crossed oceans and lands to haunt them here and turn America into a Banana Republic, courtesy of Ashcroft and his team." The ACLU "is especially concerned about technologies 'which would turn America into a virtual police state.'" So writes Mohamed Hakki.

Alan Dershowitz on Military Tribunals: 'We must begin to contemplate these dangers now, in the face of President Bush's tyrannical order'
Civil Rights

"A long-term resident of the United States who President Bush believes may have aided a terrorist can now be tried in secret by a military commission and be sentenced to death on the basis of hearsay and rumor with no appeal to any civilian court, even the Supreme Court. This is the upshot of the 'military order' issued by Bush on November 13, 2001...Nor will the suspect have any real opportunity to defend himself, since the ordinary rules of evidence will not be followed...hearsay, coerced confessions, and fruits of illegal searches can [be] considered, and that cross-examinations will not always be allowed...In addition to the specter of kangaroo courts trying suspected terrorists, the president's order raises the prospect of mass [and even indefinite] detentions of noncitizens...I was not surprised to read The Wall Street Journal's editorial in favor of the Bush order. The Journal editors don't much like our constitutional system of justice."

Military Tribunals: Bush Is Destroying American Standards Of Justice
Civil Rights

"Bush declared that he could not adequately 'protect the United States and its citizens' without creating a secret military tribunal that would be exempt from the most basic principles governing American justice...The government will dictate the rules and standards that will govern the proceedings. Accordingly, the prosecution will decide what standard it will have to meet to execute these defendants. While federal courts require a unanimous vote of a jury trial, this court will allow a two-thirds vote of handpicked 'judges'…[To expedite convictions] Bush has barred any appeal to a federal court. Instead, a defendant can appeal to Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and the president as a substitute for the Supreme Court. The order does not guarantee that the traditional standard of 'beyond a reasonable doubt' will apply. Finally, the order leaves open the possibility that most, if not all, of these proceedings will be secret." So writes Jonathan Turley.

Right On! Portland Police Refuse To Join Bush/Ashcroft Racial Profiling Campaign
Civil Rights

"Portland police have refused a U.S. Justice Department request for help in interviewing Middle Eastern immigrants as part of its sweeping terrorism investigation, saying it would violate state law...The U.S. Attorney's Office in Portland asked city police for cooperation last week, acting police chief Andrew Kirkland said Tuesday. The request was denied because Oregon law says no one can be questioned by police unless they are suspected of being involved in a crime, he said...Arabs and Muslims have expressed outrage at the U.S. Justice Department's plan to interview the 5,000 men, who are not suspected of any crimes. The list is comprised of men ages 18 to 33 who entered the United States since Jan. 1, 2000, FROM COUNTRIES that have been LINKED to the hijackers in the Sept. 11 attacks or were waystations for the terrorist organization, al-Qaida. Civil rights activists say the action constitutes racial profiling." Police depts. should follow Portland's lead!

Democratic Senate Blocks Amendment To Deny Accused Summary Of Secret Evidence
Civil Rights

At least a few crumbs remain since Bush and Ashcroft rammed through the USA Patriot Act. "'The incarceration and deportation of legal residents and others on the basis of secret evidence is a practice reserved for totalitarian countries, not the United States,' said Timothy Edgar, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. 'While we don't feel the safeguards currently in place are adequate, we applaud the Senate's courageous decision today to protect basic rights in the face of misguided calls to tear up the Constitution in the wake of the terrible attacks of September 11.' The Senate blocked the passage of an amendment introduced by Sen. Robert C. Smith (R-NH) to the Intelligence Authorization Bill that would have stripped away the requirement that the government present the accused with a summary of any secret evidence - classified information not shown to a defendant - used against him or her during deportation proceedings before the so-called Alien Terrorist Removal Court."

Britain's Attack on Civil Rights Seems to be the Model for the US
Civil Rights

Last year, Britain enacted a chilling Terrorist Act. "What the Terrorism Act has done is define terrorism so widely that it is basically up to the Government and the police to decide who they want to treat as a terrorist," writes the Network Against The Terrorism Act. "Imagine a Britain where what you eat, what you believe in, where your family originate from or the websites you visit could result in you being treated as a suspected terrorist. Imagine a Britain where you could be detained up to seven days without the right to a fair hearing and with no effective rights in the police station. A Britain where anyone found near a demonstration could be arrested, fingerprinted and DNA sampled. A Britain where you could be treated as an outlaw and be searched on the street or have your home raided. All this if a police officer could demonstrate they had the slightest grounds to suspect you, even if they turned out to be wrong or mistaken." Now imagine an America just like that...

Congress Jeopardizes the Very Freedoms that Set America Apart from Terrorists
Civil Rights

As we feared, the right-wing dominated Congress is, without pausing to think or even ask for public input, leveling one blow after another to the First Amendment in the name of "security." Civil liberties have already sustained a battering at Bush and Ashcrofts's hands in recent months. Now we fear the terrorist will achieve their goals as our own fear-driven Congress becomes the ultimate dismantler of American democracy. In the wake of the bombing of Germany's Reichstag (equivalent of the Congress) in 1931, Hitler mobilized public outrage at this event to push through a series of oppressive laws, including the "Enabling Acts," which gave authorities the right to seize people and their property on very thin pretext. Let's not let the World Trade Center attack be used to destroy the very freedoms we cherish.

Senate Passes Law that Allows Justice Dept. to Wiretap Suspected 'Terrorists' - But Gives no Definition of 'Terrorist'
Civil Rights

In Washington's usual rush to appear to be doing something - anything - in a crisis, Congress has rammed through a bill that will expand the right of the Justice Dept. to wiretap anyone suspected of engaging in "terrorist" activities. But the definition of "terrorism" has incredible potential for abuse by Bush and Ashcroft. Write your Senators and DEMAND that the bill (HR 2500) be amended to include a clear definition.

NAACP Launches National Boycott of Adam's Mark Hotels
Civil Rights

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) today launched a massive 23-city picket against the Adam's Mark hotels to protest discriminatory practices toward African Americans. Kweisi Mfume, NAACP President & CEO, said: "This picketing is a major component of the NAACP's national boycott of the Adam's Mark hotel chain for discriminatory treatment of African American employees and guests. The NAACP will continue direct protest actions such as this until Adam's Mark puts into place verifiable policies and procedures to prevent discrimination by its staff and managers and to properly address discrimination should it occur." Kweisi, we're behind you 100%!

Under Cheney, Joe Allbaugh To Head A New Anti-Terrorism Office At FEMA
Civil Rights

"Vice President Cheney will oversee development of a plan for responding to terrorist attacks in the United States, while a new office within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will coordinate terrorist response efforts by more than 40 federal agencies, the Bush administration announced yesterday. Testifying at a joint hearing of three Senate committees, FEMA Director Joe M. Allbaugh said he would soon be establishing an Office of National Preparedness." Some cities already have anti-terrorist police units that are viewed as threats to civil rights. In casting for new bogeymen, the Bush Administration looks to be turning the cold war paranoia towards "domestic threats." Will the definition of 'terrorist' be broadened until we become a nation of suspects? The Bush gang could be suffering delusional paranoia over stealing the election. This has been the case for most regimes that seized power. "Uneasy rests the head that wears the crown." Especially a stolen one.

Is Allbaugh's 'Office Of National Preparedness' A New Incarnation Of Reagan/North's 'Emergency Mobilization Preparedness Board?'
Civil Rights

Concerns about FEMA threatening civil rights are not unfounded. During Reagan's first term, Oliver North was on the Emergency Mobilization Preparedness Board (EMPB), an interagency task force of the NSC and FEMA. "As [General Frank S. Salcedo, Chief of FEMA's Civil Security Division] saw it, at least 100,000 U.S. citizens, from survivalists to tax protesters, were serious threats to civil security...To fight subversive activities [particularly against US policies in Central America], there was authorization for the military to implement government ordered movements of civilian populations at state and regional levels, the arrest of certain unidentified segments of the population, and the imposition of martial rule [From section 3]." Under the direction of the EMPB, FEMA conducted military exercises in mock scenarios of civil unrest. The Christic Institute's Daniel Sheehan alleged that FEMA had set up 10 detention centers around the country. (Read Sheehan's speech at "Conspire.com").

'Friskie' Todd Sued By Victim Of Racial Profiling Photo-Op
Civil Rights

"The Camden teenager frisked by former Gov. [and current EPA head] Christie Whitman during a drug sweep five years ago -- a moment captured on film and widely published last summer -- filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Whitman and the state of New Jersey yesterday...Whitman, in Camden for a ride-along with State Police patrolling the city's streets, frisked Rolax after a state trooper had already searched him...She had donned black Kevlar gloves before the pat-down and was smiling broadly as a trooper snapped the Polaroid...Last year, Whitman refused to apologize, saying only, 'It was a mistake moving from just an observer to participating. I shouldn't have done it.' Black leaders were outraged, saying it revealed that Whitman was tone-deaf at best on matters of race. At worst, they said, it suggested she may not have acted quickly enough to address racial profiling." Or that she clearly enjoyed "participating", and condoned the practice of racial profiling.

Judge Rules That New Jersey Regulators Violated Civil Rights Of Minority Community With Plant Permit
Civil Rights

"A federal judge ruled yesterday that New Jersey environmental regulators violated the civil rights of Camden residents when they issued permits to a cement-production facility in the polluted Waterfront South neighborhood - a decision that is being called precedent-setting for America's environmental-justice movement...This time, he said, the DEP [NJ's Dept. of Environmental Protection] has to follow federal guidelines meant to prevent minority communities from shouldering an undue pollution burden. He also ruled that the plant, which has been completed, not begin operations until a further order from the court." We'll see what happens if this gets appealed up to a higher court -- and if it lands in the lap of a pro-corporation (anti-environment, anti-civil rights) Federalist Society judge.