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Civil liberties

Exploitation of International Treaties Threatens Free Speech, Civil Liberties and Nations' Sovereignty
16-Oct-04
Civil liberties

IPS: "The growing use of international treaties to bypass the will of national parliaments, by bodies waging the so-called "war on terrorism," increasingly threatens civil liberties and freedom of the media, warn privacy advocates." When the FBI last week raided computer servers hosting websites of Indymedia centers, it was "legitimized" by a request by the Swiss police and Italian government under the Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement. "The treaty establishes procedures for countries to collaborate in investigations regarding international terrorism, kidnapping and money laundering." This treaty isn't the first to be exploited: "Tthe 2001 Council of Europe Cybercrime Treaty as a prime example of "policy laundering," in which national governments use global treaties to force their parliaments to pass what otherwise might be unpopular measures."

Salt Lake City Snitches Turn Teenage Neighbor into Bush 'Secret Police' for Having Anti-Bush Bumper Sticker
02-Sep-04
Civil liberties

Salt Lake City Tribune: "Derek Kjar is not the president's biggest fan. But the 19-year-old Salt Lake County man says he does not intend to harm President Bush with anything more than a vote for John Kerry come November. Just to be sure, though, agents from the Secret Service recently paid Kjar a visit, telling him that his neighbors had alerted them to a potentially threatening bumper sticker on his car. The sticker, which can be found on a number of Web sites, features a black-and-white likeness of Bush, a crown tilted slightly on his head. Under the image are the words 'KING GEORGE - OFF WITH HIS HEAD.'"

Maryland Feds Spy on Nuns and Treat American Friends Society (Quakers) as a 'Terrorist Organization'
02-Sep-04
Civil liberties

For years, the Maryland-based group 'Pledge of Resistance,' which includes Catholic lay workers and Quakers, has been peacefully protesting unmolested each year at the NSA headquarters. But in Oct, 2003, the first year under the state's new GOP Governor, a good friend of Bush, the group had the book thrown at them. They also found out some very interesting facts. For example, the state's anti-terrorism forces are monitoring Catholic lay workers and the American Friends Service Committee in Baltimore as a terrorist group. "I was very surprised at the amount of resources the government poured into this case," says Bruce Lamb, a Baltimore lawyer who represented one of the protestors in their recent trial. . "You had two non-threatening women, confronted by 40 officers. It really is like swatting a fly with a sledgehammer." Meanwhile, real terrorists may be plotting attacks in the state, unchecked by the same feds, who are too busy persecuting nuns.

Ashcroft Sends the FBI Door to Door to Harass and Intimidate Dissenters and their Friends & family
17-Aug-04
Civil liberties

Before the Dem. Convention, FBI officers were sent door to door by the Ashcroft Justice Dept. to question (i.e., harass and intimidate) people who planned to participate in political demonstrations - not just the protestors, but their friends and family, too. NY Times: "These heavy-handed inquiries are intimidating, and they threaten to chill freedom of expression. They also appear to be a spectacularly poor use of limited law-enforcement resources...The knock on the door from government investigators asking about political activities is the stuff of totalitarian regimes. It is intimidating to be visited by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, particularly by investigators who warn that withholding information about anyone with plans to create a disruption is a crime." Yet there are people who STILL support Bush? Unbelievable!

How to Make Civil Liberties an Issue in the Election
22-Jul-04
Civil liberties

Bill of Rights Defense Committee writes, "Take advantage of the election year and ask the candidates where they stand with regard to threatened rights and liberties. Suggestions: * Engage your local candidates as well as the statewide and national candidates. To help with this process, we have put together a voter education packet that includes tips on how to contact the candidates, sample questions, a timeline for following-up and publicizing the results, and resources for more information. For additional questions, see our library of sample questions. * Ask your local candidates for office or re-election to commit to supporting a resolution in your town creating a Civil Liberties Safe Zone. * Find out where the candidates stand on Free Speech Zones. * Learn more about the candidates' stances " using BORDC's excellent links.

Felonious Five Take Away Your Right to Remain Silent
21-Jun-04
Civil liberties

The Supreme Court's Felonious Five - Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy, and O'Connor - "stated an important principle in the continuing debate over police powers, ruling 5 to 4 that people do not have a constitutional right to simply refuse to give their names to police officers. Deciding a case from Nevada, the majority held that the state's requiring a person detained by an officer under suspicious circumstances to identify himself is not a violation of Fourth Amendment curbs on unreasonable searches, nor of the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination... [In dissent,] Justice Stevens quoted from the court's landmark 1966 ruling in Miranda v. Arizona. A passage in Miranda said there 'can be no doubt that the Fifth Amendment privilege is available outside of criminal court proceedings and serves to protect persons in all settings in which their freedom of action is curtailed in any significant way from being compelled to incriminate themselves.'" Impeach the Felonious Five!

In Padilla Case, O'Connor Will Decide if Americans Have Any Rights
06-Jun-04
Civil liberties

Jonathan Turley writes, "In alleging that Padilla had planned to target apartment buildings and hotels, Deputy U.S. Atty. Gen. James Comey Jr. said the administration wanted to show that there were benefits to stripping citizens like Padilla of their rights. (This is, of course, a far cry from the charge made at the press conference held by Ashcroft after Padilla's arrest in which the attorney general claimed that he had thwarted a conspiracy to explode a 'dirty' radioactive bomb in New York or Washington - a claim later publicly retracted by the White House.)... In a moment of extraordinary and chilling honesty, Comey explained that Padilla had to be stripped of his civil liberties because, if he used them, he might have been able to win his freedom... Gone was the pretense of legality or principle. The Justice Department had finally found its natural moral resting point: Civil liberties are tolerated only to the extent that they will not interfere with the government's actions."

ACLU Reveals Secret Suit Over FBI Powers
29-Apr-04
Civil liberties

"The American Civil Liberties Union disclosed on Wednesday it had secretly sued the government over a provision of the Patriot Act that allows the FBI to demand customer records from businesses without court approval. The ACLU said it initially filed the civil lawsuit under seal on April 6 because it could have been prosecuted for violating a gag order contained within the Patriot Act. It said it chose to make the case public after the government agreed on Wednesday it would not seek a penalty against the ACLU. But many details of the case, filed in Manhattan federal court, must remain secret."

US Defends Big Brother Cybercrime Treaty
25-Apr-04
Civil liberties

"Drafted under strong US influence, the treaty aims to harmonize computer crime laws around the world by obliging participating countries to outlaw computer intrusion, child pornography, commercial copyright infringement, and online fraud. Another portion of the treaty requires each country to pass laws that permit the government to search and seize email and computer records, perform Internet surveillance, and to order ISPs to preserve logs in connection with an investigation... The treaty is open to any country, with the approval of those that have already ratified it, and some fear that it could put the United States' surveillance capabilities at the disposal of foreign governments with poor human rights records, who may be investigating actions that are not considered crimes elsewhere." Bush's US has been rated around 30th in terms of human rights by Reporters without Borders. Not too reassuring, given the Big Brother potential here and in Bushcroft laws such as the Patriot Act.

Bush Pushes to Renew and Expand Patriot Act - Just In Time to Target Activists in Election Run Up
18-Apr-04
Civil liberties

Newsday: "Declaring the Patriot Act a vital tool in the war on terror, President Bush says Congress would place the nation at greater risk of attack if it fails to renew the law's wide-ranging law enforcement powers. 'Several conservative Republicans have joined liberal Democrats in saying that portions of the law are too intrusive on Americans' lives. They are threatening to allow the provisions to die at the end of next year." Bush is no doubt determined to ram the renewal through now so that he can use it to target the growing legion of anti-Bush, anti-Iraq war activists around the country. In any case, there is no compelling evidence the Act has done anything to reduce the threat of terrorism.

Court Confronts First Major Test of Security vs. Liberty in War on Terror
18-Apr-04
Civil liberties

"The Supreme Court is poised to hear the first major cases to arise from the Bush administration's fight against terrorism...'They become the most important cases because they are the first cases,' said Steven Shapiro, national legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union. 'The first cases always go a long way toward establishing the rules... On Tuesday, the court hears from lawyers representing some of the more than 600 foreigners held captive and essentially incommunicado at a U.S. military prison camp in Cuba...On April 28, the justices hear two cases testing the president's power to label American citizens 'enemy combatants' and hold them in open-ended military custody, without charges or trial."

Powell Rebukes Kennedy in Rare Political Foray
07-Apr-04
Civil liberties

"In a rare foray into politics, Powell said Senator Ted Kennedy, an outspoken Bush opponent and supporter of Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry .. should be 'more restrained and careful' when discussing Iraq and the war on terrorism... 'I was in Haiti and didn't see the whole speech, but I must say that Senator Kennedy, I think, should be a little more restrained and careful in his comments because we are at war,' Powell said in an interview on a nationally syndicated radio broadcast." Or else?

Bushcroft's Attack on 'Threshold Rights'
06-Mar-04
Civil liberties

An extensive analysis from the Boston Phoenix: "The hue and cry raised over the Patriot Act has distracted most of us from the Bush administration's far more dangerous assault on another class of liberties, which might be called 'threshold rights.' After all, the Patriot Act can be rolled back if the people decide that the government has overreached or the emergency has receded, and some provisions of the act have automatic expiration dates. But threshold rights -- fair elections, open and publicly accountable government, judicial review of executive action, the right of the accused to a public jury trial, separation of powers among the three branches of government, and the rights to free expression and free association -- are structural, and therefore changes to them are more enduring."

Outlawing Dissent, Part I
12-Feb-04
Civil liberties

Salon's Michelle Goldberg writes, "The undercover cop introduced herself to the activists from the Colorado Coalition Against the War in Iraq as Chris Hoffman, but her real name was Chris Hurley. Last March, she arrived at a nonviolence training session in Denver, along with another undercover officer, Brad Wanchisen, whom she introduced as her boyfriend... She said she was willing to get arrested for the cause of peace. In fact, she did get arrested. She was just never charged. The activists she protested with wouldn't find out why for months. Hurley was just one of many cops who went undercover to spy on antiwar protesters last year. Nonviolent antiwar groups in Fresno, Calif., Grand Rapids, Mich., and Albuquerque, N.M., have all been infiltrated or surveilled by undercover police officers... Meanwhile, protesters arrested at antiwar demonstrations in New York last spring were extensively questioned about their political associations, and their answers were entered into databases."

Victory! Subpoenas Against Peace Protestors Dropped!
10-Feb-04
Civil liberties

"After almost a week of controversy, the U.S. attorney in Des Moines dropped four subpoenas against local peace protesters and one subpoena against Drake University Tuesday. The attorney said in just-released court documents that all five subpoenas are quashed. The grand jury issued subpoenas to at least four Iowans last week: Wendy Vasquez, Elton Davis, Patti McKee and Brian Terrell. Drake University was also ordered to divulge records relating to an antiwar forum held last November. Drake President David Maxwell said the gag order against the university was also lifted Tuesday. The case has received national attention and has outraged peace activists and civil libertarians. Tuesday morning, peace activists held a prayer vigil at the Des Moines Valley Friends Meeting House at 42nd and Grand. Two people under federal subpoena were there. When the subpoena withdrawal was announced Tuesday during the rally, the crowd outside the courthouse cheered wildly."

Group Resists Order to Turn Over List of Antiwar Forum Attendees
10-Feb-04
Civil liberties

"An activist group asked a federal court Monday to block a judge's subpoena ordering Drake University to turn over names of its local members and others who took part in an anti-war gathering. The judge's subpoena, linked to a grand jury probe, seeks records relating to the Drake chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, including names of officers and the current location of offices. It also orders the university to turn over records about a Nov. 15 forum for anti-war activists... Bruce Nestor, an attorney for the lawyer's group, wrote in his request Monday that the subpoena 'has no purpose or effect other than to harass and intimidate persons engaged in constitutionally protected advocacy and expression.' Authorities said a sheriff's deputy suffered a dislocated knee when he was kicked during the demonstration. Twelve protesters, including three who have been subpoenaed, were arrested. A fourth activist subpoenaed, Brian Terrell, was at the forum and the protest but was not arrested."

A Letter from One of the Des Moines Peace Activists
09-Feb-04
Civil liberties

A letter from Brian Terrell, Exec. Director of the Catholic Peace Ministry: "The Grand Jury process is shrouded in secrecy. We do not know who or what the object of this investigation may be... The proceeding will be behind closed doors. We may not have an attorney present. We have the right to plead the Fifth Amendment. The government, then, can offer us immunity from prosecution, in which case we will obliged to answer under threat of contempt of court and could be imprisoned for the length of the Grand Jury session, 18 months, should we continue to refuse to answer... Whatever is going on, this is definitely an escalation on the part of the government's war on dissent and clamp down on civil liberties. The fact that anything that we three and the peacemaking communities we represent could possibly attract the notice of a 'Terrorism Task Force' is reprehensible. Please spread the word, express concerns you have with Federal and Polk County authorities. Keep us in mind and prayer."

Police State Alert! Feds Win Right to War Protesters' Records
08-Feb-04
Civil liberties

AP: "In what may be the first subpoena of its kind in decades, a federal judge has ordered a university to turn over records about a gathering of anti-war activists. In addition to the subpoena of Drake University, subpoenas were served this past week on four of the activists who attended a Nov. 15 forum at the school, ordering them to appear before a grand jury Tuesday, the protesters said. Federal prosecutors refuse to comment on the subpoenas. In addition to records about who attended the forum, the subpoena orders the university to divulge all records relating to the local chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, a New York-based legal activist organization that sponsored the forum... 'This is exactly what people feared would happen,' said Brian Terrell of the peace ministry, one of those subpoenaed. 'The civil liberties of everyone in this country are in danger.'"

Peace Activists Ordered to Testify in Court
07-Feb-04
Civil liberties

"Three Des Moines peace activists have been subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury next week as part of an investigation that the activists believe is being conducted by the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force...they have been ordered to testify in federal court Tuesday about something documents describe only as a 'possible violation of federal law'... 'We're just speculating on what this may be,' Terrell, a member of the Catholic Peace Ministry and frequent war protester, said Wednesday. 'I think it's just part of the fact that more and more authorities are seeing dissent as criminal'... Sally Frank, a Drake University law professor who several times has defended war protesters in court, said that 'one can only assume that (the grand jury) is an attempt to put a chill on the peace movement in Iowa.'"

The Nanny-in-Chief
26-Jan-04
Civil liberties

Arch right-winger Andrew Sullivan writes: "The Bush Administration has shown an unusually hostile attitude toward the exercise of personal freedom. When your individual choices conflict with what the Bush people think is good for you, they have been only too happy to intervene. The government, Bush clearly believes, has a right to be involved in many personal decisions you make -- punishing some, encouraging others, nudging and prodding the public to live the good life as the President understands it. The nanny state, much loved by Democrats [really???], is thriving under Republicans." Hey Andrew -- we at Democrats.com are civil libertarians -- you rightwingers are traditionally the authoritarian ones. That "less government" GOP ruse is just propaganda to win over dumbos -- who don't understand that less government MEANS more corporate intrusion. Power abhors a vacuum. You didn't count on Bush being for both MORE government and MORE corporate power. What Mussolini called "fascism."

Holy Kafka, Batman! Bush Regime Wants to Keep Secret Its Supreme Court Arguments about Secret Incarceration!
07-Jan-04
Civil liberties

"In an extraordinary request, the Bush administration asked the Supreme Court on Monday to let it keep its arguments secret in a case involving an immigrant's challenge of his treatment after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Mohamed Kamel Bellahouel wants the high court to consider whether the government acted improperly by secretly jailing him after the attacks and keeping his court fight private. He is supported by more than 20 journalism organizations and media companies[Perjurer] General Theodore Olson told justices in a one-paragraph filing that 'this matter pertains to information that is required to be kept under seal'... Lucy A. Dalglish, executive director of The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said ... 'The idea that there is nothing that could be filed publicly is really ridiculous. It just emphasizes our point that we're living in frightening times. People can be arrested, thrown in jail and have secret court proceedings, and we know absolutely nothing about it.'"

Bush's War on Freedom: The Crackdown on Dissent
16-Dec-03
Civil liberties

The Boston Globe reports: "In South Carolina, Brett Bursey held a sign that read 'No Blood For Oil' outside the gate of an airport where President Bush was speaking in October 2002, and was arrested for refusing to move to a 'free speech zone' a half-mile away out of Bush's sight. After state trespassing charges were dropped, the office of US Attorney Strom Thurmond Jr. charged Bursey under a little-used statute that allows the Secret Service to restrict areas to protect the president. Having documented more than a dozen such recent incidents around the country, the American Civil Liberties Union has recently filed a lawsuit against the US Secret Service for what it says is a pattern of either the selective removal of anti-Bush protesters while pro-Bush protesters are allowed to remain, or the removal of all who are engaged in political speech while passersby are allowed to keep using the sidewalk."

Part of Anti-Terror Law Ruled Unconstitutional by Federal Appeals Court
04-Dec-03
Civil liberties

"In a potential blow to the Bush administration's legal strategy in the war on [civil liberties...er...] terror, a federal appeals court overturned part of a sweeping law the government has increasingly used to arrest or prosecute suspected terrorists. The decision Wednesday by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals involves a 1996 terrorism law that outlaws financial assistance or 'material support' to organizations classified as terrorist by the State Department. The San Francisco-based appeals court struck down part of the law, ruling that it is unconstitutional to punish people - sometimes with life in prison - for providing 'training' or 'personnel' to a terror group... The decision Wednesday means that for the first time, part of that strategy has been declared unconstitutional by a federal appeals court. The ruling also requires the government to prove that defendants knew their activities, such as donating money to outlawed groups, were actually contributing to acts of terror."

Supreme Court Backs Forced Entry by Police in Drug Case
03-Dec-03
Civil liberties

WashPost reports: "The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the Constitution does not necessarily require police officers to wait more than 15 to 20 seconds after they knock and announce their authority before breaking down a suspected drug dealer's door. The unanimous ruling, which overturned a federal appeals court's attempt to set up a list of conditions governing how long officers must wait, reinforced the court's previously expressed view that police need flexibility to respond to potential physical dangers or the risk that a suspect may destroy evidence."

Busheviks Want a 'Framework' for Locking Up 'Enemy Combatants' - A Star Chamber, Perhaps?
01-Dec-03
Civil liberties

Viet Dinh, who until May headed the Justice Department's Office of Legal Policy, is the chief architect of the USA Patriot Act. He's now unhappy with the case of "dirty bomb" plot suspect Jose Padilla, an American citizen arrested in the U.S. who is being denied due process of law under the Constitution. "Dinh said he believed the president had the unquestioned authority to detain persons during wartime, even those captured on 'untraditional battlefields,' including on American soil. He also said the president should be given flexibility in selecting the forum and circumstances - such as a military tribunal or an administrative hearing - in which the person designated an enemy combatant can confront the charges against him. The trouble with the Padilla case, Dinh said, is that the government hasn't established any framework for permitting Padilla to respond, and that it seems to think it has no legal duty to do so." The obvious solution is a "Star Chamber" - a court run by a Dictator.

Fragments of the Future: The FTAA in Miami
30-Nov-03
Civil liberties

Tom Englehardt writes: "I used to think that, as with what Chalmers Johnson calls its 'empire of bases,' the United States was developing a new form of militarism, unlike every past example, in which you could walk the streets of our cities forever without seeing anyone in a military uniform. That, of course, began to change after 9/11. Now, from airports to subways, not to speak of demonstrations, it's become quite normal to spot well-armed soldiers. As Rebecca Solnit suggests in her vivid report below on the FTAA demonstrations in Miami, in the face of protest there's a creeping militarization of whole cityscapes. Along with that goes a version of the 'bubble' effect of presidential visits abroad -- the shutting down of vast central city areas to protect our head of state. The two paradigmatic responses of our moment, in fact, seem to be 'war' in metaphor and reality and this shutdown effect, which buttons up all life for 'protection.'"

Union Calls for Investigation into 'Police State' Tactics in Miami
25-Nov-03
Civil liberties

"The United Steelworkers of America (USWA) is calling for a Congressional investigation into 'a massive police state,' created in part with federal funds, to intimidate union members and others critical of the proposed FTAA and limit their rights... 'Last week, the fundamental rights of thousands of Americans...were blatantly violated, sometimes violently, by the Miami police, who systematically repressed our Constitutional right to free assembly with massive force, riot gear and armaments,' said USWA president, in a letter to Congressional leaders. 'It is condemnable enough that a massive police state was created to prevent American citizens from directly petitioning FTAA negotiators for redress of their grievances,' Gerard said... 'It is doubly condemnable,' he added, 'that $9 million of federal funds designated for the reconstruction of Iraq were used toward this despicable purpose. How can we hope to build democracy in Iraq while using massive force to dismantle it here at home?'"

Blair Seeks Sweeping Emergency Powers to Cancel Civil Liberties - Will Bush Follow?
23-Nov-03
Civil liberties

In England, "Sweeping measures to deal with terrorist attacks and other emergencies are to be announced this week, giving [Tony Blair] power to over-ride civil liberties in times of crisis, and evacuate threatened areas, restrict people's movements and confiscate property. The Civil Contingencies Bill, which covers every kind of disaster from terrorism to the weather, will be the biggest shake-up of emergency laws since the early part of the last century, replacing legislation which saw the UK through a world war and the IRA bombing campaign. Some of the proposals in the draft version of the Bill... have alarmed civil rights activists, notably a clause that gives the Government the power to suspend parts or all of the Human Rights Act without a vote by MPs. Once an emergency has been proclaimed by the Queen, the Government can order the destruction of property, order people to evacuate an area or ban them from travelling, and 'prohibit assemblies of specified kinds'."

Senate Approves Intelligence Bill - Say Bye-Bye To the Rest of Your Privacy
22-Nov-03
Civil liberties

AP: "The Senate gave final approval Friday to a measure that will make it easier for FBI agents investigating terrorism to demand financial records from casinos, car dealerships and other businesses... the Senate approved the bill in a voice vote... the bill expands the number of businesses from which the FBI and other U.S. authorities conducting intelligence work can demand financial records without seeking court approval... [and it] authorizes agencies to continue research on computerized terrorism surveillance projects formerly operated by the Defense Department. Those projects were widely criticized on civil liberties grounds, prompting Congress to remove them from the Pentagon."

Federal Judge Bashes Bush's Illegal Detention of 'Enemy Combatants'
17-Nov-03
Civil liberties

Reuters reports, "A US appeals judge said on Mon. that allowing the Resident unchecked power to jail Americans indefinitely as part of the war on terrorism could have an 'unprecedented' impact on Americans' legal rights. Judge Barrington Parker Jr. made his comments during arguments in the case of 'dirty bomb' suspect Jose Padilla, a US citizen held incommunicado as an enemy combatant... Padilla has not been charged with any crime and is barred from communicating with lawyers... Parker questioned the govt's contention the resident's authority extended to the case of Padilla, a US citizen arrested on US soil. Jenny Martinez, a Stanford Univ. law prof, 1 of 3 attorneys to argue on Padilla's behalf, said that if the resident was given this authority, 'they can do this to any American and the courts are powerless to intervene. That has never been the law in this country and that cannot be the law.'" FYI Judge Parker was appointed by Pres. Clinton -- and in 8/01 by Res. Bush.

Ashcroft's Star Chamber: Secret 9/11 Case before High Court
31-Oct-03
Civil liberties

Christian Science Monitor reports: "It's the case that doesn't exist. Even though two different federal courts have conducted hearings and issued rulings, there has been no public record of any action. No documents are available. No files. No lawyer is allowed to speak about it. Period. Yet this seemingly phantom case does exist - and is now headed to the US Supreme Court in what could produce a significant test of a question as old as the Star Chamber, abolished in 17th-century England: How far should a policy of total secrecy extend into a system of justice? ... Despite the heavy secrecy, a brief docketing error led to a newspaper report identifying MKB by name in March. The report said MKB is an Algerian waiter in south Florida who was detained by immigration authorities and questioned by the FBI. MKB's legal status remains unclear, but it appears unlikely from court documents that he is connected in any way to terrorism. He has been free since March 2002 on a $10,000 bond."

Bush's Vanished Prisoner
14-Oct-03
Civil liberties

Nat Hentoff writes: "Through Donna Newman, his case against the government, Padilla v. Rumsfeld, is now before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, where, as of this writing, oral arguments are proposed to be held the first week of November before a three-judge panel. But Ashcroft's Justice Department is striving mightily to persuade the Second Circuit that the case should be transferred to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia, on jurisdictional grounds. Regarded by many lawyers, as well as civil libertarians, as the most conservative of all the circuit courts (which are just one level beneath the Supreme Court), the Fourth Circuit has already bowed to the resident in the case of Yaser Hamdi... The Fourth Circuit has ruled that commander in chief Bush has the power to haul away an American citizen anywhere--at O'Hare, in Afghanistan, or on any American street. All Bush has to do is call him or her an 'enemy combatant.'"

'Anti-Terrorism' Spy Sent to Infiltrate Peaceful Activist Groups
07-Oct-03
Civil liberties

An anti-war group in Fresno, CA was the target of a spy infiltration. Aaron Kilner, known by Peace Fresno activists as Aaron Stokes, was a regular attendee at Peace Fresno meetings where he was seen taking "voluminous notes." "Stokes" was also seen at peace vigils and on the bus that took local anti-globalization activists to the WTO ministerial-level conference on Agricultural Science and Technology demonstration in Sacramento in June 2003. When Kilner died in a motorcycle accident on August 30, 2003, his obituary it was revealed he was a police officer assigned to an anti-terrorist team believed by local activists to be the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) recently formed in this area. Sounds like COINTELPRO is back.

Stop Airline Passenger Profiling Before Sept. 30
27-Sep-03
Civil liberties

Electronic Frontier Foundation: "JetBlue admitted last week to handing over the personal information of more than one million of its customers to a Pentagon contractor, raising fears among privacy advocates that the airline was roadtesting CAPPS II, a new passenger-profiling system to identify potential terrorists. Denials abound, but even if JetBlue was not testing CAPPS II, this news foreshadows what's in store. If CAPPS II is implemented, travel authorities will use information from government and commercial databases to 'tag' individuals according to how much of a security risk that they appear to pose - sacrificing the privacy and civil liberties of every traveler without any logical connection to how it will make us safer. Worse, it's possible that this sensitive data could then be used for other purposes. If this plan concerns you, you have until September 30 to make your voice heard. Visit EFF's action center now to send a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)."

9-11 Commission Recommends Creating a Domestic Intelligence Agency
25-Sep-03
Civil liberties

"The independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks said today that it was weighing proposals for an overhaul of American intelligence and law enforcement agencies, including the creation of a special domestic intelligence agency that would most likely take over some F.B.I. responsibilities. The bipartisan commission, which was created by Congress over the opposition of the Bush administration, said in a report issued today that it was also considering a proposal to create a new post, director of national intelligence, to oversee domestic intelligence. It suggested that the new domestic intelligence agency could be an 'American version of Britain's MI-5.'"

America Has Undergone a Philosophical Flip-Flop on Civil Liberties
15-Sep-03
Civil liberties

"Reach back in time and pluck a citizen off the streets of 1903 America. Pull that person forward and plop him down in the exact same spot in today's world. No doubt, he'd find the surrounding buildings, vehicles and garb stunningly unfamiliar. But would he still recognize the foundations of America? Not likely. We've done a philosophical flip-flop on civil liberties. The Bill of Rights, conceived to protect the individual from the powers of the government, is being steadily eroded in a hapless attempt to craft a more perfect society. The space the Constitution carved out where a citizen would be safe from state intrusion has been whittled perilously thin, and the justification needed for invading that space grown increasingly flimsy. We've always had to wrestle with the government to keep it from stealing our civil rights covers. But two wars - one on drugs, the other on terrorism - have tipped the balance so much in the state's favor that we risk losing our birthright."

Lawyers From 10 Countries Release Statement on Camp Delta
22-Aug-03
Civil liberties

"As leaders of the legal professions in our respective countries, we wish to make public our concerns at the treatment of the non-US 'enemy combatants' detained by the US authorities in Guantanamo Bay. We strongly believe that there are now only two legally acceptable courses of action open to the US authorities. Either the US government must return the detainees to their own home countries, where they can be tried, if appropriate, under their own national laws; or they should be tried in a US civilian court with full guarantees for a fair trial. In our view it is not for the US government to 'concede' basic rights as a favour. All detainees are entitled to a fair and lawful trial as of right. Among the most basic legal protections that we possess in democratic societies are guarantees for a fair trial and equality before the law. We urge the United States not to weaken its standards in the face of external threat but to stand out as a beacon of justice in an unjust world."

Lawyers Pressed to Give Up Ground on Client Secrets
12-Aug-03
Civil liberties

NY Times reports: "Impelled by a wave of corporate scandals, tax evasion and concerns over terrorism, government regulators and prosecutors have taken a variety of steps that seek to limit what some lawyers say is a core principle of their profession: the ability to protect their clients' confidences. Many lawyers have reacted to the new restrictions by arguing that the lawyer-client privilege is not only a traditional tool in their arsenal but a critical one in the proper functioning of the legal system. But even the American Bar Association seems prepared to cede some ground on the issue... Many lawyers said they could not remember such a broad encroachment by the federal government on how they practice... [The Justice] department announced shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks that its agents might eavesdrop on conversations between lawyers and terrorism suspects 'for the purpose of deterring future attacks.'"

New York City Joins the Movement to Restore Civil Liberties Curtailed Since 9/11
27-May-03
Civil liberties

At noon on Wednesday, May 28, residents of New York City -- the primary target of 9/11's terrorist attacks -- will rally on the steps of City Hall to demonstrate their support for civil liberties. At that time Bill Perkins, Deputy Majority Leader of the NY City Council, "will introduce a resolution calling for the restoration of basic constitutional rights, including rights to due process, equal protection, and freedom of speech, that have been curtailed by the government since the events of 9/11. The proposed legislation would make New York City the latest and largest city to officially oppose post-9/11 curtailment of civil liberties and civil rights. The resolution is supported by the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Bill of Rights Defense Campaign (NYBORDC), a project of the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), in coalition with over 30 organizations. City residents are urged to attend."

St. Louis Police Raid Buildings, Pre-Emptively Detain Protesters of the World Agricultural Forum
19-May-03
Civil liberties

The St Louis Dispatch reports: "St. Louis police detained an undisclosed number of people Friday in a sweep of at least three buildings said to be used by protesters of the World Agricultural Forum... In at least some cases, officers were accompanied by building inspectors who checked for occupancy permits and building code compliance... Matt LeMieux, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri, said his office received about two dozen phone calls in two hours Friday about conference attendees being arrested... He said. '... what they're doing is pre-emptively trying to arrest people. It's a bad and unconstitutional policy.' He said he was told that in one instance, at the home of some 'local, grass-roots activists' where some protesters were lodging, police showed up with a building inspector and said they both must be let in or the building would be condemned. LeMieux termed the threat a 'trick' that enables police to search a home without a warrant."

ACLU Seeks Bushevik Data on 'No-Fly' List
23-Apr-03
Civil liberties

"The American Civil Liberties Union sued the FBI and other government agencies Tuesday on behalf of two peace activists detained at an airport because their names popped up on a secret 'no-fly' list." AP reports, "The women were among 339 travelers briefly detained and questioned at San Francisco International Airport during the past two years after their names were found in the database...The database was created after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as a way to prevent potential terrorists from boarding planes. The Transportation Security Administration gets names from law enforcement officials and gives the lists to airlines to screen passengers. The ACLU is asking a federal judge to demand that the TSA, FBI or the Justice Department disclose who is on the list, how they got on it and how they can get off it. The plaintiffs, Rebecca Gordon and Janet Adams, publish the San Francisco-based War Times." Airline passengers across the country have been subjected to similar treatment.

Supreme Court to Reconsider Miranda Warnings: Bushies Want to Use Evidence without Miranda
21-Apr-03
Civil liberties

"The Supreme Court said Monday it will reconsider the scope of the familiar police warnings that begin, 'You have the right to remain silent.' The court will look at whether physical evidence seized without such warnings can be used at trial. The case is a follow-up to a Supreme Court ruling three years ago that upheld the warnings laid out in 1966 in a case called Miranda vs. Arizona. The court agreed to hear the Bush administration's appeal in the case of a Colorado man arrested for violating a domestic restraining order. Police started to read Samuel Patane his Miranda rights, but Patena cut them off. Police then asked Patane if he owned any guns. Told yes, police looked for and found an illegal pistol. A federal appeals court ruled that the pistol could not be used against Patane at trial. Police found the gun because they questioned Patane, and the questioning was done without Miranda warnings, the lower court found last year."

The Secret Society: Bushcroft's Orwellian State
19-Apr-03
Civil liberties

Tim Grieve writes for Salon: "The Justice Department says [Mike] Hawash is a witness, but it won't say to what. It won't say what information it wants from him, it won't say what agents were hoping to find when they searched his house, it won't say why he needs to be in custody, and it won't say how long it plans to keep him there. These aren't the only things the Bush administration won't say. It won't say why it's holding individual detainees at Guantanamo Bay; it won't disclose the factual basis for its prosecution of Zacarias Moussaoui; and it won't say how many immigrants it has detained or deported in INS proceedings. It won't say how many of us are having our telephones tapped, our e-mail messages monitored or our library checkout records examined by federal agents. The administration's defenders say such secrecy is an unavoidable cost of the war on terror, but it's an orientation that predated Sept. 11 and that extends beyond the terror threat."

'Patriot Act 2' Meets Patriotic Opposition From New Left-Right Coalition
17-Apr-03
Civil liberties

Seattle Times reports, "Liberals and conservatives are joining forces to block what they view as dangerous encroachments on civil liberties. The coalition was on display [recently] when conservative activists joined the American Civil Liberties Union to decry the Justice Department's push for powers that could reach well beyond the USA Patriot Act, which Congress rushed to adopt after the [9-11-01] terrorist attacks. Outlines of what [BushCroft] is seeking in a bill dubbed 'Son of Patriot' or 'Patriot 2' have had privacy and civil-libertarian groups across the political spectrum in an uproar since a draft was leaked in February. Conservative groups historically have left the defense of civil liberties to the ACLU, conservative activist Grover Norquist said. But, he added, 'I'm not sure given the Republican control of the House and the Senate and the government that we can count on our left-of-center friends to look out for some of these issues.'"

Watch Tim Robbins Rip Our Orwellian pResident a New One!
15-Apr-03
Civil liberties

Tim Robbins gave a truly moving speech at the National Press Club regarding the erosion of our freedoms and rights as Americans under Bush and company. Calling upon the press and every American to speak out to preserve their constitutional rights Robbins gave a chilling summation of what has been going on in this country for the last twenty six and a half months under Bush. Robbin's speech can be accessed and watched in it's entirety at the NPC website. You don't want to miss this one!

Canaries in a Missile Silo
14-Apr-03
Civil liberties

Geov Parrish writes, "While the nation's attention was focused on the far side of the world, a federal jury in Denver, Colorado provided some of the first conclusive evidence last week that anti-government protesters are facing increasing danger from John Ashcroft's War On Terror. On Monday, the jury convicted three elderly Roman Catholic nuns -- Sister Carol Gilbert, 55, of Baltimore; Sister Ardeth Platte, 66, of Saginaw, Mich.; and Sister Jackie Marie Hudson, 68, of Bremerton, Wash. -- of 'obstructing national defense' and of damaging government property in an anti-nuclear protest last October 6. The obstruction conviction could net the women 30 years in federal prison; sentencing is scheduled for July 25... Odds are, at this point, reasonably high that among Jackie and her two colleagues, at least one will now die behind bars for their act of peaceful witness. Why?"

Civil Liberties and Human Rights Eroded by Changes to U.S. Law and Policy
08-Apr-03
Civil liberties

"Basic human rights protections and civil liberties have steadily eroded in the 18 months since the Sept. 11 attacks, the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights said in a new report called 'Imbalance of Powers.' 'The constitutional ideal of separation of powers has been severely undermined over the last 18 months,' said Michael Posner, Executive Director of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights. 'In the last six months in particular, the executive branch has taken a series of measures to consolidate its authority and these actions have, in some cases, prevented Congress and the courts from playing their safeguarding roles. In other cases, Congress and the judiciary have been too submissive or deferential.'"

BushCroft Abuses 1996 Law Outlawing 'Material Support' for Terrorists
07-Apr-03
Civil liberties

NY Times reports, "Federal prosecutors in recent weeks have secured their first convictions under the 1996 law, which makes it a crime to offer 'material support' to any group designated by the US as a terrorist organization. The statute has become so useful that the Justice Dept. is exploring ways to cast an even wider legal net, despite objections from civil rights groups... [who] say it is so broadly worded that prosecutors could abuse it by labeling a range of benign activities 'material support.' In a pending case, a judge on the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that parts of the law were so vague as to be unconstitutional. Prof. David Cole [argued] the law made it a crime for a Quaker to send a book by Gandhi to a terrorist to persuade him to forgo violence, or for a person to write an op-ed article advocating on behalf of a 'banned' group. 'This smacks of the cold war era and Communist lists,' Mr. Cole said. 'And there's been an extremely broad chilling effect.'"

Rightwing Hackers Shut Down Al Jazeera
27-Mar-03
Civil liberties

So the public remains blind to the true nature of Bush's war, hackers wreaked electronic havoc Thursday on Internet sites operated by the Arab television network Al-Jazeera, diverting Web surfers to pornography and also a page with a U.S. flag. They don't seem to realize they are crapping on the flag by denying the freedom of speech and information at the heart of our nation.

BushCroft Secretly Plans Introduction of Patriot Act II
26-Mar-03
Civil liberties

Village Voice's Chisun Lee writes, "An ugly theory popped up in the nation's capital several weeks ago. The Bush administration would wait until war began, and worry gripped the homeland, to ram a staggering package of domestic security measures through a Congress silenced by fears of seeming unpatriotic. Such measures would radically expand the executive branch powers already inflated by the 2001 USA Patriot Act. On Friday... Justice Department spokesperson Mark Corallo confirmed to the Voice that such measures were coming soon. Exact details are confined to 'internal deliberations,' he said, but the proposals 'will be filling in the holes' of the Patriot Act, 'refining things that will enable us to do our job.' But a new, comprehensive review of Bush's growing presidential power hardly reveals any 'holes.' Rather... the administration has built the executive branch into a fortress, nearly invulnerable to the checks of the judiciary and Congress."

Scalia Will Rubber Stamp Bushcroft's Shredding of the Constitution
24-Mar-03
Civil liberties

AP reports: "The government has room to scale back individual rights during wartime without violating the Constitution, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said on 3-18-03. 'The Constitution just sets minimums,' Scalia said after a speech at John Carroll University in suburban Cleveland. 'Most of the rights that you enjoy go way beyond what the Constitution requires.'" Impeach Bush and Scalia!

FBI Seeks Mosque Membership Lists
24-Mar-03
Civil liberties

"First, the FBI wanted a count of all the mosques in their regional field offices. Now, according to the Islamic Society of Frederick, Md., FBI agents who recently requested a meeting with their leadership 'mentioned casually' they would be asking for a list of the society's members. This sent red flags up for the Islamic Society, who immediately informed media outlets, interfaith partners and civil rights groups. Local FBI officials then said they would not press for the list local agents had requested."

Bush is Out of Control
04-Mar-03
Civil liberties

Will Pitt writes, "George W. Bush is out of control. I'll say it again. George W. Bush is out of control. I'm waiting for the black government cars to come squealing up in front of my house, for the thump of leather on my stairs, for the sound of knuckles on my door, for the feel of steel braceleting my wrists, for the smell of urine in some dank Federal holding cell as I listen to questions from men who no longer feel the constricting boundaries of constitutional law abutting their duties... Crazy, right? Ask Andrew J. O'Conner of Santa Fe, New Mexico if it sounds crazy. Mr. O'Conner, a former public defender from Santa Fe, was arrested in a public library and interrogated by Secret Service agents for five hours on February 13th. His crime? He said 'Bush is out of control' on an internet chat room, and was arrested for threatening the Resident. Ask Bernadette Devlin McAliskey of Ireland if it sounds crazy" - the Irish nationalist was detained and deported in February.

Stop USA Patriot Act II - Send a Free Fax to Congress
28-Feb-03
Civil liberties

USA Patriot Act II "would diminish personal privacy by removing important checks on government surveillance authority, reduce the accountability of government to the public by increasing government secrecy, expand on the definition of 'terrorism' in a manner that threatens the constitutionally protected rights of Americans, and seriously erode the right of all persons to due process of law. I am very concerned that already under the USA PATRIOT Act, this government has compiled unprecedented powers to violate our civil liberties and tap deep into the private lives of innocent Americans. Congress must not accept new legislation that threatens our constitutional rights in the name of security against terrorism. I believe that we can be safe and free without sacrificing the very values for which our nation stands. Congress should now step in and block any efforts to pass additional legislation intruding on our core liberties and rights." Send a free fax to Congress, courtesy of ACLU.

Petition to Remove Howard Coble (R-NC) for His Outrageous Remarks Supporting Japanese Internment
26-Feb-03
Civil liberties

"We, the undersigned, condemn remarks made by Rep. Howard Coble during a call-in program on WKZL-FM on February 4, 2003, where he explicitly supported President Roosevelt's decision to incarcerate the Japanese American community during World War II. Rep. Coble's claims that the action was for the internees' own protection and that some of the internees were intent on doing harm to the nation not only contradict each other, but have both been contradicted by historical experience and the Civil Liberties Act that was passed by Congress in 1988...We view Rep. Coble's statement that 'I apologize if I offended anybody. I certainly did not intend to offend anybody' as a non-apology, and his continuing efforts to justify the Japanese American internment as an affront to all freedom-loving Americans. We call for his immediate removal from the House Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security." Sign the petition!

Tell the Media to Cover Patriot Act II!
16-Feb-03
Civil liberties

"In an attempt to further increase the government's surveillance and law enforcement powers, and decrease judicial review and protections of civil liberties, the Department of Justice has secretly drafted a sweeping sequel to the USA Patriot Act of 2001. Despite the draft legislation's authoritarian provisions-- including one that would empower the government to strip Americans of their citizenship if they participate in the lawful activities of any group that the attorney general labels 'terrorist'-- mainstream U.S. media have responded with only a handful of news stories...The fact that the DOJ has secretly prepared legislation that would fundamentally alter the protections afforded Americans by the Constitution is...a huge story. The first USA Patriot Act was rushed through Congress in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks with very little media coverage or public debate...Media must not let this happen a second time - there is too much at stake."

FBI Tries but Fails to Intimidate Peace Activist
13-Feb-03
Civil liberties

Kawal Ulanday got a "home visit" from the FBI the day before his brother's funeral. The agents knew he has no criminal record and has done nothing even remotely suspicious -- except to protest Bush's War. They asked him a lot of questions to which they obviously already knew the answers. "Are you Muslim? Do you have any connection with any Muslim extremist groups connected to al Qaeda? Are you anti-American?" The answer to each of these questions is no. But the agents of George Bush's and John Ashcroft's government obviously weren't interested in the answers. They were just sending a message. What message should the rest of us get from this incident? That we must oppose a government that tries to use law enforcement officials to suppress freedom of speech.

Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC) Endorses Internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII
06-Feb-03
Civil liberties

"A congressman who heads a homeland security subcommittee said on a radio call-in program that he agreed with the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., made the remark Tuesday on WKZL-FM when a caller suggested Arabs in the United States should be confined... Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., a Japanese-American who spent his early childhood with his family in an internment camp during World War II, said he spoke with Coble on Wednesday to learn more about his views. 'I'm disappointed that he really doesn't understand the impact of what he said,' Honda said. 'With his leadership position in Congress, that kind of lack of understanding can lead people down the wrong path.'" Also in the hot seat is "fellow Republican Rep. Sue Myrick, in talking last week about domestic security threats, referred to Arab-Americans by saying, 'Look at who runs all the convenience stores across the country.'" Trent Lott is surrounded by fellow racists in the GOP!

F.B.I. Tells Offices to Count Local Muslims and Mosques
28-Jan-03
Civil liberties

The F.B.I. has told its field offices to count the number of mosques and Muslims in their areas "as part of the antiterrorism effort". But, they say, it's not racial profiling and the purpose isn't to establish quotas for antiterrorism investigations. So what is the purpose? Could it have anything to do with the prediction last July by Peter Kirsanow, the Bush-appointed member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, that the American people will demand internment camps for Arab Americans if terrorists strike again?

Use of Secret Evidence Rejected; Court Orders New Hearing for Suspect in Fake ID Case
19-Jan-03
Civil liberties

Dale Russakoff writes for the WashPost: "A state appellate court has ruled that a local judge 'lacked adequate basis' to allow prosecutors to present secret evidence against an Arab American man who was accused of selling phony identification documents to two of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers. The ruling came late Tuesday in the case of Mohamed Atriss. It has attracted national attention because of his apparently coincidental link to the hijackers, but more recently for prosecutors' use of secret evidence. Atriss, an Egyptian-born U.S. citizen, is apparently the only criminal defendant since the terror attacks to be barred from confronting the evidence against him -- a right guaranteed in the Constitution."

An Outrageous Ruling: US Citizens Can Be Held without Constitutional Rights as 'Enemy Combatants'
14-Jan-03
Civil liberties

Matthew Rothschild writes: "On January 8, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth District placed the imprimatur of legality upon one of the most egregious moves by Bush, Ashcroft, and Rumsfeld: the holding of American citizens as 'enemy combatants' in military brigs without charging them with a crime and without giving them access to a lawyer or other standard due process protections. The case involves Yasser Hamdi, who was captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan. The Bush Administration labeled him an enemy combatant, and sent him to a military brig in Norfolk, Virginia."

Since 9-11, Bush Has Created a 'Quasi-Police State'
04-Jan-03
Civil liberties

GWU Law School professor Jonathan Turley writes, "What would happen if you woke up living in a quasi-police state? It is a question that seems entirely academic - if not absurd - to Americans who pride themselves on being the leading voice of liberty in the world. This status, however, is less unquestionable as it is unquestioned. A review of administration policies at the beginning of 2003 raises serious questions about the character of the government formed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. Major changes have come in small, incremental steps, with each privacy right or civil liability concern balanced in isolation against the potential of a massive attack. In a sense, the Bush administration is a study in public policy pointillism, the Impressionist technique... in which innumerable small dots of color are largely meaningless until the viewer stands at a distance... So too the full effect of the changes of the Bush administration is only now coming into view."

Did George Violate the 4th Amendment Rights of Some Philadelphians?
20-Dec-02
Civil liberties

Writes Bruce Ticker for Liberal Slant: "Dubya visited my town last week and injected police-state tactics into the lives of some of my fellow Philadelphians. These tactics raise questions as to whether their Fourth Amendment rights over search and seizure were violated. George flew to the city to announce his new faith-based directive and rebuke Trent Lott for embracing Strom Thurmond's 1948 pro-segregation presidential campaign platform. Yet in practice he treated the mostly black neighborhood he visited like a World War II Polish village invaded by the Nazis."

Pentagon Will Spy on US Citizens
10-Dec-02
Civil liberties

Christopher Pyle writes for the Hartford Courant: "The Pentagon is planning to use computers to investigate hundreds of thousands of law-abiding Americans. Why? On the odd chance one might be a terrorist. The person in charge of this new dragnet? John M. Poindexter, the former national security adviser who secretly sold weapons to Middle Eastern terrorists in the 1980s and, as a result, was convicted of defrauding the U.S. government, lying to Congress and destroying evidence. That law enforcement agencies would search for terrorists makes sense. Terrorists are criminals. But why the Army? It is a criminal offense for Army personnel to become directly involved in civilian law enforcement. Are they seeking to identify anti-war demonstrators, whom they harassed in the 1960s? Are they getting ready to round up more civilians for detention without trial, as they did to Japanese Americans during World War II?"

Denver Photographer Is Arrested and Interrogated Under USA Patriot Act - And Police Scrub their Records
09-Dec-02
Civil liberties

2600 News reports, "An amateur photographer named Mike Maginnis was arrested on Tuesday in his home city of Denver - for simply taking pictures of buildings in an area where VP Cheney was residing... [He] snapped about 30 pictures of the hotel and the surrounding area - which included Denver police, Army rangers, and rooftop snipers... [He was] confronted by a Denver police officer who demanded that he hand over his film and camera. When he refused to give up his Nikon F2, the officer pushed him to the ground and arrested him... Special Agent 'Willse' told Maginnis that his 'suspicious activities' made him a threat to national security, and that he would be charged as a terrorist under the USA-PATRIOT act... When Maginnis refused to admit to being any sort of terrorist, the Secret Service agent called him a 'raghead collaborator' and a 'dirty pinko faggot'... Three hours later, Maginnis was finally released, but with no explanation... [and] the police denied ever having Maginnis."

NYC Conference - What Happened to American Freedom?
04-Dec-02
Civil liberties

Former NYCLU executive director Norman Siegel has launched a new group called the Freedom Legal Defense and Education Project - and not a moment too soon as our freedoms are being gutted by Bushcroft on a regular basis! They are hosting an important conference in NYC on Saturday December 7, featuring some of the nation's strongest advocates of freedom and civil rights. They will address all of Bush's attacks on America - the USA Patriot Act, privacy and surveillance, military tribunals, detention without trial, immigration restrictions, etc.

Bush's Assault on Civil Liberties Creates Membership Boom for the ACLU
02-Dec-02
Civil liberties

Alarmed by the government's assault on privacy, freedom to travel, due process of law, and other rights we can no longer take for granted, more and more people are turning to the ACLU to help safeguard their liberties. Since September 11, 50,000 people have joined, swelling the membership to 330,000. Among the new members are conservatives who made the phrase "card-carrying member of the ACLU" a political insult but who now realize they see eye to eye with the organization on the issue of Constitutional rights.

Republican Plans to Destroy Civil Liberties Go Back for Decades
01-Dec-02
Civil liberties

Joe Conason writes that John Poindexter's "Total Information Awareness" program "can be traced back to the Huston Plan uncovered in the Watergate investigation, a massive domestic-espionage program justified by antiwar and racial unrest, which was named after Tom Charles Huston, a White House bureaucrat... An enlarged version emerged again, ironically, during the Iran-contra investigation, when the Miami Herald exposed a Reagan administration plan to 'suspend the Constitution in the event of a national crisis, such as nuclear war, violent and widespread internal dissent or national opposition to a U.S. military invasion abroad.' The most recent incarnation was John Ashcroft's ridiculous but threatening TIPS program. The recruitment of a former Iran-contra operative such as Dr. Poindexter... underlines a disturbing disrespect for the Constitution. Vaguely ominous overtones of the phrase 'homeland security' are gradually congealing into an authoritarian reality."

Bush Creates a Dictatorial, Unaccountable Legal System for 'Terrorism Suspects'
01-Dec-02
Civil liberties

Charles Lane writes: "The Bush administration is developing a parallel legal system in which terrorism suspects -- US citizens and noncitizens alike -- may be investigated, jailed, interrogated, tried and punished without legal protections guaranteed by the ordinary system...Administration officials...say the parallel system is meant to be used selectively, as a complement to conventional processes, not as a substitute...Civil libertarians insist that the courts should searchingly review Bush's actions, so that he is always held accountable to an independent branch of government. Administration officials, however, imply that the main check on Bush's performance in wartime is political -- that if the public perceives his approach to terrorism is excessive or ineffective, it will vote him out of office." Unless they throw out all of our votes!

Fight the USA Patriot Act! Make Your City or Town a Civil Liberties Safe Zone
27-Nov-02
Civil liberties

Michael Moore says, "Talk to your friends, talk to your community, talk to the people in Northampton. Start a Bill of Rights Defense Committee in your own town or city, and try and pass similar legislation where you live. The more places that fight back against the 'Patriot' Act, the weaker it becomes." The city council of Eugene, OR has recently become the 15th to pass a resolution against the Patriot Act. Check below to see whether other people in your town are already working on a resolution against the USA Patriot Act.

Witness Law Leaves Many in Limbo
26-Nov-02
Civil liberties

"Authorities have arrested and jailed at least 44 people as potential grand jury witnesses in the 14 months of the nationwide terrorism investigation, but nearly half have never been called to testify before a grand jury, according to defense lawyers and others involved in the cases."

NYU Law Professor: Bush Policies Circumvent Constitution
25-Nov-02
Civil liberties

Stephen J. Schulhofer, professor of law at New York University authored a report, "The Enemy Within: Intelligence Gathering, Law Enforcement, and Civil Liberties in the Wake of September 11"....In his report, Schulhofer writes that many of the actions taken by the Bush administration...have given the White House the power to act unilaterally without oversight from the judicial and legislative branches. He also said that these changes and those enacted by Congress have come about with minimal scrutiny from the public, press and even Congress, even though some of them could hinder homeland security efforts....the Homeland Security Agency reorganization, provisions of the USA Patriot Act and Bush administration movement toward holding suspected terrorist indefinitely without charges all threaten individual liberty. He said that many of these policies circumvent the constitutional rights of individuals and undermine the checks and balances of our system of government."

Kofi Annan Warns of Risks to Civil Liberties from the War on Terrorism
25-Nov-02
Civil liberties

EarthTimes.com reports: After his latest trip to Kosovo, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said: "The danger is...that domestically states end up sacrificing crucial liberties and weakening common security, not strengthening it, thereby corroding the vessel of democratic government from within....Vigilance must be exercised by all thoughtful citizens to ensure that entire groups in our societies are not tarred with one broad brush and punished for the reprehensible behavior of a few.' Internationally, he said, 'we are beginning to see the increasing use of what I call the T-word, terrorism, to demonize political opponents, to throttle freedom of speech and the press, and to delegitimize legitimate political grievances.'...our unrelenting position must be that any sacrifice of freedom or the rule of law within states, or any generation of new disputes between states in the name of antiterrorism, is to hand the terrorists a victory that no act of theirs alone could possibly bring."

Supreme Court Could Repeal Miranda Warning After Police Paralyze, Blind and Coercively Interrogate Biker
24-Nov-02
Civil liberties

LATimes.com reports: "While (a) farm worker lay gravely wounded, a police supervisor pressed him to talk, to explain his version of the events. He survived, paralyzed and blinded, and sued the police for...coercive interrogation. But Oxnard police assert that the Miranda ruling does not include a 'constitutional right to be free of coercive interrogation,' but only a right not to have forced confessions used at trial....Chief Justice Earl Warren announced a broad new rule in Miranda vs. Arizona. He said that because police questioning is inherently coercive, officers must warn suspects of their rights before questioning begins....In a 1990 ruling, Rehnquist commented that the right against self-incrimination in the 5th Amendment was a 'trial right.' Police cannot violate this right when they force someone to talk, since 'a constitutional violation occurs only at trial,' the chief justice said....an innocent person who is held for questioning would have no right and no remedy."

Anti-Terror Powers Curtail Americans' Rights...and Won't Work!
23-Nov-02
Civil liberties

Christian Bourge, a reporter at Rev. Moon's UPI, interviews Stephen J. Schulhofer, professor of law at NYU, and author of a new report, "The Enemy Within: Intelligence Gathering, Law Enforcement, and Civil Liberties in the Wake of September 11." Reports Bourge: "According to Schulhofer, the Homeland Security Agency reorganization, provisions of the USA Patriot Act and Bush administration movement toward holding suspected terrorist indefinitely without charges all threaten individual liberty. He said that many of these policies circumvent the constitutional rights of individuals and undermine the checks and balances of our system of government. He added that whatever marginal value is gained from curtailing the rights to due process of Americans held as enemy combatants must be weighed with the enormous risk such curtailments present to individual freedom."

Will Lady Liberty Pump Up the Rising Generations?
18-Nov-02
Civil liberties

Fortune.com reports: "An 82-year-old American brand is getting a makeover, complete with a new logo and a multimillion-dollar ad campaign to attract a younger demographic. None of which is particularly remarkable--except that the brand in question is the American Civil Liberties Union. 'We're treating it exactly the same way we'd treat a branded product,' says Howard Benenson, principal of Benenson Janson, the L.A. agency that's coordinating the campaign (its consumer clients include Guess and Swatch). 'The brand needed to be reinvigorated,' he says. 'You don't want to lose your loyal core, but you still have to broaden your base.'...ACLU membership is up 12%, to 300,000, since the post-Sept. 11 security crackdown (though the average member is still 57 years old). As for the new logo, featuring Lady Liberty, ACLU spokeswoman Emily Whitfield says it 'tells people who we are: liberty's law firm.' A catchy phrase--spoken like a true marketer."

Microsoft Equipped All Post-Windows 95 Systems with an NSA Key to Facilitate Government Snooping
17-Nov-02
Civil liberties

Back in 1999 at a cryptography convention, experts were dismayed to learn that special access codes prepared by the NSA were secretly built into every version of Windows, from 1995's on. "Researchers are divided about whether the NSA key could be intended to let US government users of Windows run classified cryptosystems on their machines or whether it is intended to open up anyone's and everyone's Windows computer to intelligence gathering techniques deployed by NSA's burgeoning corps of 'information warriors,'" Telepolis reported." According to Andrew Fernandez of Cryptonym, the result of having the secret key inside your Windows operating system "is that it is tremendously easier for the NSA to load unauthorized security services on all copies of Microsoft Windows, and once these security services are loaded, they can effectively compromise your entire operating system." The NSA key is contained inside all versions of Windows from Windows 95 OSR2 onwards." Apple, anyone?

FBI Director Says Dissent is on a Continuum with Terrorist Acts
25-Oct-02
Civil liberties

During an appearance at Stanford University, FBI Director Robert Mueller said the FBI doesn't want to suppress dissent -- then promptly contradicted himself by drawing a connection between people who express dissent and people who commit terrorist acts. He made this astonishing comparison in response to a question by a student who had been investigated by the FBI after posting criticisms of the Bush regime on the Internet. Obviously, the Bush junta (with BushDaddy cover-up artist Mueller in tow) considers disagreement a threat - that must be quashed.

Take The Quiz! ACLU Quiz Shows Extent of Civil Liberties' Erosion
23-Oct-02
Civil liberties

ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero writes: "The 'Keep America Safe and Free Campaign' will involve private citizens and groups in achieving a powerful new balance between two fundamental values -- liberty and security -- so that America can be both 'safe and free.' The Campaign will mobilize our 53 ACLU offices and 300,000 members across the country to litigate, organize and lobby in defense of liberty. We are reaching out to private citizens because they are the first to experience the impact of governmental restrictions on liberty. The ACLU campaign aims to promote a public debate about proposals and measures that violate civil liberties without increasing our security." You can take a quiz on civil rights in this country now; it reveals how extensively our civil liberties have been eroded. Check it out for yourself!

ACLU Kicks Off 'Safe and Free' Campaign - Send Ashcroft a Free Fax
19-Oct-02
Civil liberties

The American Civil Liberties Union today announced a $3.5 million national campaign that includes for the first time paid television advertising and a massive mobilization of its members and supporters in a new nationwide effort to safeguard the freedoms that Attorney General Ashcroft and the Bush Administration have targeted since last year's terrorist attacks...."Look what John Ashcroft is doing to our Constitution, -- a voiceover says as the screen shows a pair of hands editing and cutting out portions of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. -- He's seized powers for the Bush Administration no president should ever have. The right to investigate you for what you say, to intrude on your privacy, to hold you in jail without charging you with a crime."...View the new TV ad kicking off the campaign, send a free fax to Ashcroft, take the Freedom Quiz, download a privacy door-hanger and more!

Dick Armey Says Ashcroft is 'Out of Control'
18-Oct-02
Civil liberties

USA Today writes, "House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, lashed out at the Justice Department Wednesday for what he called its 'lack of regard for personal civil liberties in America' while combating terrorism. 'I told the president I thought his Justice Department was out of control... Are we going to save ourselves from international terrorism in order to deny the fundamental liberties we protect to ourselves? It doesn't make sense to me." Hey Dick, if you were so outraged and called for impeachment of Clinton for a sex scandal, why aren't you outraged enough on this issue to call for impeachment of Bush for taking away personal civil liberties?

Is Your Name on the No-Fly List?
08-Oct-02
Civil liberties

What are the criteria for being listed as a "security risk" and subjected to extra scrutiny at airports? The Transportation Security Administration won't say. But we can guess, from the types of people who've been prevented from flying: peace activists, Democratic politicians, people whose names might sound vaguely Arabic if you didn't know any better. The pundits say there's a "delicate balance" between liberty and security. The way the Busheviks are running things, we have neither liberty nor security.

Political Protesters are Barred From Flying On Airplanes as Tool For Tracking Terrorists is Used Against Activists
30-Sep-02
Civil liberties

Last year's Aviation and Transportation Security Act authorized the federal government to create a "watch list" of terrorist suspects to prohibit them from boarding airplanes. But the list is being used now to prohibit U.S. citizens with a history of protesting government action from travelling -- and no agency of the government will take your appeal, so if you're a suspect you're as good as guilty under the U.S. Constitution as newely re-interpreted.

Washington DC Unveils Even More Big Brother, With Huge Pay Days for Lockheed
23-Sep-02
Civil liberties

Lights-Camera-Busted. Washington DC is in the process of installing "speed cameras" throughout the city. These cameras will take your picture (and we don't think you will be smiling) and mail you a precious speeding ticket, if of course you break DC's 25mph speed limit. You may think this is just a different form of a tax. You are partially right, until you find out that $29 of the ticket money goes to Lockheed, a private company and not to the gov't to use on schools and roads. Besides the fact that Big Brother with big corporation is watching you, paying $29 per ticket to this company is insane. This will not make our streets or country any safer. A bigger police force would make sense as it would create more jobs, and they could give out more speeding tickets as well as protect the citizens like heroes did on 9/11.

Air Marshals Detain Doctor for 'Observing Too Closely' Their Handling of an Unruly Passenger
19-Sep-02
Civil liberties

As if it weren't enough that Bob Rajcoomar, a former U.S. Army major, and other passengers on a Delta Airlines flight spent the last half hour with an air marshal holding a gun on them after one unruly passenger was restrained. Then after the flight landed, the marshals dragged Dr. Rajcoomar to an airport police station and held him in a filthy cell for three hours while his wife was left stranded in the airport with no idea what had happened to him. For all this rough treatment, he was not questioned, and he was released without explanation - or apology. Just a little example of our vanishing civil rights under the Bushcroft Administration.

The Freedoms We Lost in the Fire
11-Sep-02
Civil liberties

In John Ashcroft's words, "the government has marshaled the might of 'every available statute' to root out 'the terrorists among us.' Wrapping themselves in the flag, they have shredded the Constitution. They have sneered at, ignored, or defied the courts and legislatures that are designed to provide checks and balances on uninhibited executive power. They have eroded the precious Bill of Rights protections of free speech, assembly, and association and its assurances of privacy, due process, equal protection, legal counsel, and a fair trial...The government can now freeze the release of public records, monitor political and religious gatherings, and jail Americans indefinitely without trial and without legal representation. As Bush and Cheney ready the country for war against Iraq, they have established a climate that stifles dissent - and put laws in place enabling them to clamp down on those who ask too many questions." So writes Alisa Solomon.

Fight The Enemies Of Freedom Abroad Without Yielding To Those At Home
10-Sep-02
Civil liberties

While Bush has attacked our Constitutional rights, "a number of judges have stood out for their courage. [Judge] Gladys Kessler... declared that secret arrests were 'odious to a democratic society,' and ordered the government to release the names of all detainees. It has not done so. And Judge Robert Doumar ... who is presiding over one of the 'enemy combatant' cases, recently told prosecutors to submit documents for his review so he could determine if the defendant was in fact an enemy combatant. The Justice Department, disgracefully, defied his order. As the Bush administration continues down its path, the American people need to make clear that they have learned from history and will not allow their rights to be rolled back. The world has changed since Sept. 11, but the values this country was founded on have not. Fear is no guide to the Constitution. We must fight the enemies of freedom abroad without yielding to those at home." So writes the NY Times.

AP Documents The Freedoms that Bush Has Stolen from America
08-Sep-02
Civil liberties

AP reports, "*FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION: Govt may monitor religious and political institutions without suspecting criminal activity. *FREEDOM OF INFORMATION: Govt has closed once-public immigration hearings, has secretly detained hundreds of people without charges, and has encouraged bureaucrats to resist public records requests. *FREEDOM OF SPEECH: Govt may prosecute librarians or keepers of any other records if they tell anyone that the Govt subpoenaed information related to a terror investigation. *RIGHT TO LEGAL REPRESENTATION: Govt may monitor federal prison jailhouse conversations between attorneys and clients, and deny lawyers to Americans accused of crimes. *FREEDOM FROM UNREASONABLE SEARCHES: Govt may search and seize Americans' papers and effects without probable cause. *RIGHT TO A SPEEDY AND PUBLIC TRIAL: Govt may jail Americans indefinitely without a trial. *RIGHT TO LIBERTY: Americans may be jailed without being charged or being able to confront witnesses against them."

Bushcroft Provides 'Blueprint for Terrorists' - Contradicting Itself on Detainees
07-Sep-02
Civil liberties

Chisun Lee writes: "The Justice Department's logic for holding hundreds of terrorism-related captives in secret got very fuzzy last week, when it publicly announced detailed indictments against five terrorist suspects in Detroit and Seattle. In recent high-profile court battles with constitutional watchdogs, the government has cited national security concerns in refusing to disclose more than 700 detainees' names or to open certain immigration hearings even to family and the press. The Justice Department has stressed its reluctance to provide 'a blueprint for terrorists,' who might piece together U.S. investigative strategy from such public information. The national security excuse has been used to hold certain U.S. citizens in closed captivity… Last Wednesday, however, federal prosecutors released indictments positively dripping with investigative detail in two separate terrorism probes - with at least one suspect still at large."

Suspected (Remember Due Process?) Supporters Of Suspected (Remember Due Process?) Terrorist Groups
06-Sep-02
Civil liberties

Findlaw columnist Joanne Mariner provides another reason to resist Bush's attempts to pack the courts with right-wing ideologues in this critique of the "Material Support" law, its vulnerability to political manipulation, and the role Federal courts have played in protecting the right to due process for both groups and individuals charged under the law. "Imagine that you support a political cause ... and you send money to a group that works to further this cause. Now imagine that the State Department believes that the group that you have funded is engaged in terrorism. Imagine that you are criminally prosecuted for having provided 'material support' to that group.... But imagine, in addition, that you know the group you support does not engage in terrorism ... and can prove it. Whoops: I let my imagination run away with me. According to the relevant legal provisions, you are barred from challenging the designation in court. So imagine that you are in prison."

The F.I.S.A. Court Is Right: Ashcroft is WRONG!
06-Sep-02
Civil liberties

FindLaw columnist Anita Ramasastry examines the unprecedented late August ruling against the government by the FISA Court - the secret federal court responsible for reviewing government requests to spy on terrorism suspects. The ruling refused to approve of certain procedures proposed by Attorney General Ashcroft which amounted to directing domestic criminal investigators and prosecutors to use counterintelligence operations to do an "end run" around the Fourth Amendment. By, in effect, channelling their investigations through the looser restrictions on foreign intelligence gathering, domestic criminal investigators could avoid such pesky requirements as providing probable cause to obtain a search warrant, or notifying the subject of the warrant that his property is being, or has been, searched - or why. But, let's not be too hasty to condemn Ashcroft... maybe he's just trying to find work for all those old CoIntelPro agents. They've been unemployed since the 70s, you know.

Ashcroft's Changes in Justice Department Procedures Have 'Little or Nothing' to Do With Sept. 11th
06-Sep-02
Civil liberties

The proposed procedures for which the F.I.S.A. Court rebuked Attorney General Ashcroft were part of a larger review of Justice Department procedures. The ACLU's Marvin J. Johnson analyzed Ashcroft's new "Guidelines on General Crimes, Racketeering Enterprise and Terrorism Enterprise Investigations" in June, 2002: "Sweeping away protections that have been in place since the 1970s, the new Guidelines allow the government to spy on domestic groups even when there is no suspicion of wrongdoing." Johnson noted that the changes seemed to have little to do with September 11th or al Qaeda, since Ashcroft changed the Domestic Guidelines - which were adopted in reaction to abusive FBI investigations of dissenters - rather than the Foreign Guidelines, which cover investigations of foreign powers and international terrorism organizations. Gee, maybe Ashcroft should have made his "Guidelines" more concise... how about "It's the dissidents, stupid"?

Bush Undermines the Very Freedoms He Says He's Defending
31-Aug-02
Civil liberties

Nat Hentoff writes: "...can General Ashcroft be restrained from detaining—not in these special camps, but in regular lockups—any American investigated under suspicion of domestic terrorism under the new, elastic FBI guidelines for criminal investigations? From page three of these Ashcroft terrorism FBI guidelines: 'The nature of the conduct engaged in by a [terrorist] enterprise will justify an inference that the standard [for opening a criminal justice investigation] is satisfied, even if there are no known statements by participants that advocate or indicate planning for violence or other prohibited acts.'...That conduct can be simply 'intimidating' the government, according to the USA Patriot Act. The new Steven Spielberg-Tom Cruise movie, 'Minority Report,' shows the government, some years hence, imprisoning 'pre-criminals' before they engage in, or even think of, terrorism. That may not be just fiction, folks."

Yikes! Poll Shows that Support for the 1st Amendment is Slipping
31-Aug-02
Civil liberties

CBS News reports: "Support for the First Amendment has eroded significantly since Sept. 11 and nearly half of Americans now think the constitutional amendment on free speech goes too far in the rights it guarantees, according to a new poll...'Many Americans view these fundamental freedoms as possible obstacles in the war on terrorism,' said Ken Paulson, executive director of the First Amendment Center, based in Arlington, Va., which commissioned the survey...48 percent of respondents agreed the government should have the freedom to monitor religious groups in the interest of national security — even if that means infringing upon the religious freedom of the group's members...Those less likely to support newspaper rights included people without a college education, Republicans, and evangelicals, the survey found." Benjamin Franklin once warned: "Whoever would overthrow the Liberty of a Nation must begin by subduing the Freeness of Speech."

Justice Department's Secretive Use of USA PATRIOT Act Raises Questions of Congressional Checks and Balances
25-Aug-02
Civil liberties

Brian Balta writes: "It's been almost a year since Sept. 11th, and finally it seems that someone in Congress has remembered that old concept of 'Checks and balances'...The Bush Administration has made it pretty apparent that it is obsessed with secrecy. From Ashcroft's recommendation to deny all Freedom of Information Act inquiries to Rumsfeld's obsession over leaks, getting any information at all out of the government has become a struggle over the past year. Now, the Administration is crossing the line. When Congress can't get the information out of the government that it needs to be able to do its job, then there is something seriously wrong...Ashcroft's Justice Department is doing everything it can to prevent anyone from watching what it's doing, and that is unquestionably inappropriate. If it truly does need those powers granted in the Patriot Act (a fact that many people would challenge), then there has to be someone keeping an eye on how those powers are being used."

Classic Police State Conditions Exist Now in USA
23-Aug-02
Civil liberties

"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free," [wrote] Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. A police state exists when federal and state police mechanisms: 1. Serve the central government instead of serving the citizens. 2. Enforce the policies of the central government, instead of responding primarily to criminal misdeeds. 3. Spy on and intimidate citizens. All these conditions now exist in the US! In a free society, police agencies respond to evidence of planned and actual criminal activity. Police officers in a free society keep the peace; they do not investigate citizens and activities unless there is some reason to investigate. In a free society, police do not investigate citizens' attitudes toward the central government, only their action. Citizen dissent is lawful in a free society and police agencies do not investigate citizens' attitudes toward the criminal justice apparatus. Those conditions no longer exist in the US!" So writes Norman Livergood.

(Un)PATRIOT(ic) Acts and How to Stop Them
23-Aug-02
Civil liberties

"Q: Just who is a terrorist? A: Anyone (non-U.S. citizen or U.S. citizen alike) Attorney General Ashcroft designates as one. Q: On what evidence can Ashcroft designate someone as a terrorist? A: Mere suspicion and hearsay. Q: What legal rights and Constitutional protections does someone detained on the grounds of being a suspected terrorist have? A: Next to none. It may be difficult for some hard-core, patriotic Americans to believe the veracity of the preceding Q&A series, but the answers to the questions are based upon the implications and dangerous ramifications of the USA PATRIOT Act (USAPA) that was passed last October by so-called congressional representatives who never bothered to read or debate it...evisceration of the Bill of Rights that this law undertakes, those who blindly supported and signed this blatantly unconstitutional act into law should be collectively condemned and charged for high treason to the Constitution and the people of the USA." So writes Doreen Miller.

Bush Administration Blocks Congressional Oversight of Post-911 Powers While Seeking Even More Power
21-Aug-02
Civil liberties

"The Justice Department received substantial new powers to combat terrorism and beef up information sharing between intelligence and law enforcement. Questions concerning how these powers are being used - whether they are working, what effect they are having on civil liberties, whether they are sufficient - are critical, and congressional oversight is a chief means to answer such questions. So it is no small matter that the Justice Department is being so stingy about sharing with Congress precisely the information that would inform reasonable judgments." Legislators frustrated with the executive branch's non-compliance with constitutionally-mandated congressional oversight include Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), House Judiciary Chair Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and ranking member Rep. John Conyers (D-MI). "There is nothing hostile or dangerous in responsible oversight; to the contrary, it is a critical check and balance in our system."

Bush Orders Fingerprinting of Arab Visitors, and Our Freedom is Vanishing Before Our Eyes
15-Aug-02
Civil liberties

"The US plans to impose significant restrictions on people seeking to enter the U.S. from a list of Middle East countries that does not include Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Officials said the greatest restrictions will be imposed on those ... from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Syria. They said the new regulations will begin by October... The INS will monitor all those who enter or exit selected border points and land and sea ports. Officials said the NSEERS program is the first step toward the development of a comprehensive entry-exit system applicable to virtually all the 35 million foreigners who annually visit the US. They said the fingerprints of a small percentage of foreign visitors will be matched against a database of known criminals and a database of known terrorists. Under the program, all nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Syria would be required to be fingerprinted upon entry in the US." Step by step, the US is becoming a police state - who will be next?

Ashcroft Wants to Send US Citizens He Deems 'Enemy Combatants' to Concentration Camps!
14-Aug-02
Civil liberties

Jonathan Turley, Constitutional Law Professor at George Washington University, writes: "Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft's announced desire for camps for U.S. citizens he deems to be 'enemy combatants' has moved him from merely being a political embarrassment to being a constitutional menace. Ashcroft's plan, disclosed last week but little publicized, would allow him to order the indefinite incarceration of U.S. citizens and summarily strip them of their constitutional rights and access to the courts by declaring them enemy combatants. The proposed camp plan should trigger immediate congressional hearings and reconsideration of Ashcroft's fitness for this important office. Whereas Al Qaeda is a threat to the lives of our citizens, Ashcroft has become a clear and present threat to our liberties...But before we allow Ashcroft to denude our own constitutional landscape, we must take a stand and have the courage to say, 'Enough.'" Save the Republic! Impeach Ashcroft NOW!

Civil Libertarians are Right, Uber Patriots are Wrong -- Sacrificing Our Freedom Will Not Make Us Safe OR Free
11-Aug-02
Civil liberties

Molly Ivins writes: "Civil libertarians have a slight tendency to look as though we've just been fired out of a cannon. We are forever hearing the sounds of jackbooted Fascism approaching... To be a good civil libertarian is to spend one's life in a fairly constant state of alarm, which leaves the group somewhat frazzled. [But it's] a little-known fact that defending civil liberties can also be a whale of a lot of fun, requiring only beer, imagination and a mild disrespect for authority to become a genuinely entertaining and even riotously funny pastime. [But now] is not the time to dismiss concerns over civil liberties as alarmist... Some of the super-patriots running around need to get a grip. We can't make ourselves safer by making ourselves less free."

NY Times Smacks Dictator Bush over 'Enemy Combatants'
08-Aug-02
Civil liberties

NY Times writes, "The Justice Department all but told a federal judge this week to take his legitimate concerns about civil liberties and stuff them in the garbage pail. The Bush administration seems to believe, on no good legal authority, that if it calls citizens combatants in the war on terrorism, it can imprison them indefinitely and deprive them of lawyers... This defiance of the courts repudiates two centuries of constitutional law and undermines the very freedoms that Bush says he is defending in the struggle against terrorism... The Bush administration seems to be using the Hamdi case to establish the principle that it has the exclusive power to decide who is an enemy combatant. If the administration's position prevails... the government will be free to seize anyone it wants simply by saying the magic words 'enemy combatant,' and the courts will be powerless to release such people from prison, or even provide them with lawyers. This was not what the founders had in mind."

Bush/Ashcroft Defy Court Order on Hamdi, Creating a Constitutional Crisis
07-Aug-02
Civil liberties

"The Justice Department yesterday defied a federal judge's order to provide him with documents that would have supported the government's classification of a man captured in Afghanistan and being held in a Navy brig in Norfolk as an 'enemy combatant' ... The argument frames the sensitive question of what rights, if any, are available to military prisoners, particularly an American-born one such as Yaser Esam Hamdi... The Justice Department has said that the judicial branch has little right to intervene in the conduct of the war, but yesterday's action was the first time the government has not agreed to a judge's request. The government's action sets the stage for a constitutional confrontation tomorrow with U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar in Norfolk. Doumar has twice ordered the government to allow a lawyer to visit Hamdi.'" The Supreme Court threw out Florida's 175,000 uncounted ballots to avoid a "constitutional crisis" - now Bush has created one. Impeach Bush Now!

'The Right of the People to Peaceably Assemble'
28-Jul-02
Civil liberties

Ed Whitfield reports from Greenville, NC: "...when they said we could proceed if we had no signs and told us that we would not be allowed to chant or make loud sounds or demonstrate in any way near the Hotel where [Bush] was -- it became clear what they were objecting to, and what they saw as the real threat. The police had initially claimed that these restrictions being made by the Secret Service were for the protection of [Bush]. Then they allowed us to physically proceed, but only if we did not express ourselves. What they must really be doing is protecting [Bush] from public criticism. There is absolutely no justification in the constitution for their behavior. It does not say that the citizens can assemble and speak their minds if [Bush] likes it and says it's OK. [Bush] and his entourage have elevated themselves above the constitution..."

Are We Becoming a Police State?
05-Jul-02
Civil liberties

From an address to the House of Representatives by Ron Paul (R-TX): " Our commercial interests and foreign policy are no longer separate...as bad as it is that average Americans are forced to subsidize such a system, we additionally are placed in greater danger because of our arrogant policy of bombing nations that do not submit to our wishes. This generates hatred directed toward America ...and exposes us to a greater threat of terrorism, since this is the only vehicle our victims can use to retaliate against a powerful military state...the cost in terms of lost liberties and unnecessary exposure to terrorism is difficult to assess, but in time, it will become apparent to all of us that foreign interventionism is of no benefit to American citizens, but instead is a threat to our liberties."

Way to Go! Seven Cities Take a Stand Against the Totalitarian USA Patriot Act
02-Jul-02
Civil liberties

"Cities across the country have been quietly staging a revolt against the USA Patriot Act, saying it gives law enforcement too much power and threatens civil rights. Over the last three months, the Massachusetts cities of Cambridge, Northampton and Amherst and the township of Leverett, as well as the town of Carrboro, N.C., all passed resolutions that call the USA Patriot Act a threat to the civil rights of the residents of their communities. The public [that mostly doesn't know about it thanks to the Media] has been supportive[?] of the measure. The five municipalities join Berkeley, Calif., and Ann Arbor...The resolutions are largely symbolic, because the local governments have no authority to compel federal law enforcement to comply." Said an Ashcroft spokesman, "USA Patriot was passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority in both the House and the Senate." Wrong – it was rammed through Congress on threat of members being labeled unpatriotic by Ashcroft. Few even got to read it.

Northampton MA Leads the Battle to Defend the Bill of Rights
25-Jun-02
Civil liberties

Village Voice columnist Nat Hentoff writes, "In the spirit of the Sons of Liberty, on February 4 of this year, some 300 citizens of Northampton MA held a town meeting to organize ways to—as they put it—protect the residents of the town from the Bush-Ashcroft USA Patriot Act. On that night, the Northampton Bill of Rights Defense Committee began a new American Revolution. Similar committees are organizing around the country... One result of that meeting was a petition, signed by over 1000 Northamptonites, urging the town government to approve a 'resolution to defend the Bill of Rights.' Thanks to a persistent organizing drive, that resolution passed the Northampton city council by a unanimous vote on May 2. It targets not only the USA Patriot Act but also all subsequent actions by Ashcroft and others that 'threaten key rights guaranteed to U.S. citizens and noncitizens by the Bill of Rights and the Massachusetts Constitution.'" Organize YOUR community to stand up for the Bill of Rights!

Even the Washington Post Protests Dictator Dubya's Power Grab
20-Jun-02
Civil liberties

The Washington Post writes, "the Justice Department acknowledges formally that the courts retain the authority to review a petition challenging the legality of a citizen's detention -- a basic tenet of U.S. liberty. But it contends that military detainees, even citizens, have 'no right of access to counsel to challenge their detention'... If this is correct, any American could be locked up indefinitely, without a lawyer, on the president's say-so. You don't have to believe that Mr. Hamdi is innocent to see grave peril in this. The Constitution's checks and balances don't contemplate blind trust in the wisdom or good faith of the president. And the courts must not acquiesce in Mr. Bush's claim that they are powerless to ensure the lawfulness of presidential behavior."

The Gang of Three: The Rightwing Lawyers Who Are Destroying Freedom in America
19-Jun-02
Civil liberties

The destruction of freedom in America is being overseen by three rightwing lawyers: Viet Dinh, Timothy Flanigan, and Jim Haynes. "Their hodgepodge of rules and statutes either now or soon will remake the nation, providing local police with sweeping federal authority, pushing the military and CIA directly into everyday domestic politics, and sanctioning indefinite detention without a charge or even a court hearing. Immigration policy already has disintegrated into the random search and arrest of anyone with dark skin. College students are to be singled out on the basis of ethnic background and required to carry special identity papers. In the rather near future, all citizens will be registered in a national database that includes criminal records, welfare payments, delinquent loans, credit card debt, and so on. Committees of local vigilantes... may soon be assigned to root out terrorists, just as the Ku Klux Klan was after the Civil War." So writes James Ridgeway in the Village Voice.

Be Careful What You Say - Big Brother Bush Is Listening
18-Jun-02
Civil liberties

Salon's Jeffery Benner writes "On April 11, the Federal Communications Commission ordered the telecom industry to upgrade their systems to meet a list of FBI specifications by June 30. The upgrades give the FBI expanded wiretapping capabilities, including the ability to extract specific information about phone calls without a warrant."

Clark Kerr Calls FBI Campaign to Destroy Him 'Despicable'
10-Jun-02
Civil liberties

"Clark Kerr, ousted from his job as president of the University of California following student protests in the 1960s, says he is greatly disturbed by documents revealing that the FBI campaigned to get him fired... Kerr, 91... said that the FBI harmed the integrity of the university by intruding into campus affairs and exacerbating internal disputes. 'What bothers me is that the FBI would want to go so far outside its proper jurisdiction and get involved in the internal affairs of the university,' Kerr said. Soon after Kerr became UC president in 1958, the head of the San Francisco FBI office wrote Hoover a memo reporting on a plot by an aide to conservative state Sen. Hugh Burns to get Kerr removed from his job. 'Dr. Kerr,' an FBI report on the plan said, 'is a 'liberal' in the educational field.' ... 'I think it's despicable,' he said. 'It's certainly undemocratic. It's the kind of thing you would expect more from the intelligence agencies of Russia than you would from the U.S.'"

NY Times Slams Bush's Secret Detentions
10-Jun-02
Civil liberties

The NY Times editorializes, "The Bush administration's post-Sept. 11 assault on civil liberties reached a new low recently when the Justice Department argued in court that an American-born detainee, who may be a United States citizen, should not be allowed to talk to a lawyer. This is the same Justice Department that has refused to release the names and locations of the estimated 1,200 people detained after Sept. 11, and that has insisted on conducting detainees' legal hearings in secret. These policies are blatantly unconstitutional, and in recent rulings, courts have begun saying just that." Bush took a solemn oath of office - on a Bible - to "Protect and Defend the Constitution of the United States." Impeach Bush Now!

FBI, CIA, and Ronald Reagan Conspired to Subvert the University of California in 1950s and 60s
09-Jun-02
Civil liberties

The FBI, the CIA, and Ronald Reagan, "spent years unlawfully trying to quash the voices and careers of students and faculty deemed subversive at the University of California. [The FBI plotted against UC President Clark Kerr while aiding Reagan's political career]. Reagan intended to mount a 'psychological warfare campaign' against subversives, file tax evasion and other charges against them, and do anything else it could to restore moral order. [The FBI protected Reagan from being implicated for lying about his own past by altering his security clearance]. Files show he repeatedly gave the FBI names of people he suspected of being communist over the years. [The CIA & FBI directors conspired to 'harass and eliminate' liberal faculty members. When Lyndon Johnson picked Kerr to be Secretary of HEW], the FBI background check included damaging information the agency knew to be false, and Johnson withdrew the nomination."

Spying and Lying: The FBI's Dirty Secrets
07-Jun-02
Civil liberties

Mark Weisbrot writes, "The FBI is likely to be rewarded for the missed warnings, fumbled intelligence, and bureaucratic foul-ups [with new rules, allowing it to] spy on domestic organizations, even where there is no evidence of specific criminal activity. It is doubtful [this could happen if the FBI's role] as a political police force were better known... COINTELPRO was a massive operation to infiltrate, disrupt, harass, and otherwise interfere with the lawful activities of civil rights advocates, peace activists, religious organizations, and others. [In a covert operation,] the FBI actually made a serious effort to blackmail Dr. King into committing suicide. Less well known is that FBI operations against law-abiding citizens did not end when these abuses were exposed in the 1970s. We know that they continued well into the 1980s, when [Reagan and Bush] faced mounting domestic opposition to their wars in Central America."

Send a Free Fax to Prevent Domestic Spying on All of Us
05-Jun-02
Civil liberties

"John Ashcroft gutted restrictions on the FBI's spying on domestic religious and political organizations. These constraints, some of the most fundamental controls of the FBI, were originally imposed on the FBI in the 1970s when it was learned that the Bureau had engaged in decades of widespread domestic surveillance of individuals involved in anti-war and civil rights activities [including Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.]. Under Ashcroft's new guidelines, the FBI is free to conduct undercover spying in any house of worship or political group -- even if there is not a shred of evidence that someone in the group has or plans to break the law. Further, the FBI is also allowed to openly snoop through the Internet, credit card data and such purchases as books and pharmacy items... Take Action! You can read more and send a FREE FAX to your Members of Congress, urging them to call on Ashcroft to overturn these new guidelines," courtesy of the ACLU.

Ashcroft Will Order Arabs to 'Show Their Papers'
04-Jun-02
Civil liberties

"BuzzFlash has been told by reliable sources that AG John Ashcroft -- in a move that is reminiscent of the World War II era treatment of Japanese Americans -- is preparing regulations that will require aliens present in the US, from certain Arab nations, to report to INS offices, airports, or other ports of entry to register with the government. This is yet another move by Ashcroft intended to divert attention from the Department of Justice's pre-9/11 incompetence. D.C. sources questioned whether the AG's action would have any impact on the prevention of terrorism. It is not members of Al Qaeda that will show up to register with the government; it is just law-abiding aliens. The real problem pre-9/11 was not that law enforcement officials had insufficient authority, but that they didn't have the competence to use the information that was available to them... Who will stand up for democracy and the American way against the creeping fingers of totalitarianism?"

William Safire Blasts Ashcroft and 'J. Edgar Mueller' for Trashing the 4th Amendment
03-Jun-02
Civil liberties

Safire writes, "To fabricate an alibi for his nonfeasance, and to cover up his department's embarrassing cut of the counterterrorism budget last year, John Ashcroft - working with his hand-picked aide, F.B.I. Director 'J. Edgar' Mueller III - has gutted guidelines put in place a generation ago to prevent the abuse of police power by the federal government. They have done this deed by executive fiat: no public discussion, no Congressional action, no judicial guidance. If we had only had these new powers last year, goes their posterior-covering pretense, we could have stopped terrorism cold. Not so. They had the power to collect the intelligence, but lacked the intellect to analyze the data the agencies collected... Under the new Ashcroft-Mueller diktat... with not a scintilla of evidence of a crime being committed, the feds will be able to run full investigations for one year. That's aimed at generating suspicion of criminal conduct - the very definition of a 'fishing expedition.'"

Democrats.com Strikes a Blow against Bush Nazi-Style Assault against Liberal Intelligenstia! The Dian Hardison Saga Continues...
03-Jun-02
Civil liberties

Thank heavens for the Internet - if Democrats.com had not run the story on the plight of former-NASA scientist Dian Hardison last Friday night, her case very likely may have been used by the Bushes (both George and Jeb) and John Ashcroft as a springboard to begin a purge of America's liberal intelligentsia. Thanks to Bush operatives, when Dian emerged from jail Thursday (before the Democrats.com story had a chance to get the word out), a swarm of apparently hostile reporters greeted her to get a look at the "blond terrorist"!! The saga continues...!

Even Republicans Are Outraged Over The Bush Reich's Plan For a Police State
02-Jun-02
Civil liberties

CNN reports, "The Justice Department's plan to give the FBI more domestic surveillance power 'has gone too far,' House Judiciary Committee Chairman [said Saturday. Jim] Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, said he has called Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller to appear before his committee "to justify why the 1976 regulations on domestic spying, that have worked so well for the last 25 or 26 years, have to be changed.'"

What is the Bush Administration Doing????
31-May-02
Civil liberties

Reading this article by Pete Yost of AP, we learn that the FBI has been given wider authority to monitor all of us, including political groups like those of us at Democrats.com. (Maybe they will learn the real truth!) Over the last few weeks, we learned that the Phoenix Memo came out- but nothing was done. Zacarias Moussaoui was found before 9/11. The FBI had the proper information to stop 9/11, but clear incompetence led to this tragedy. Besides this being a clear violation of the 4th Amendment, the FBI will now be obtaining more & more information which of course will confuse them even more. And while King George lives in total secrecy, he wants all of us to be spied on. Ay Carumba!

911 Was a Failure of Analysis, Not Surveillance - Repeal the USA Patriot Act NOW!
30-May-02
Civil liberties

"It turns out the atrocities of Sept. 11 were not a surveillance failure. They were an analysis failure...We should reconsider the incursions into our privacy and liberty that have been stampeded blindly into law in the name of better surveillance... including the right to engage in secret searches, warrantless Internet surveillance, warrantless access to phone records and a requirement that retailers report 'suspicious' customer transactions to the Treasury...Civil libertarians warned that powers such as these could be abused - and, indeed, had been abused at many times in American history...The USA Patriot Act passed overwhelmingly, with some legislators voting for it without even reading it. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) told Insight magazine he was unable to get his hands on a copy of the bill before it passed," writes Jesse Walker. Congress discarded civil liberties without even reading the bill? Tell your Senators and Reps (202-224-312) to repeal the USA Patriot Act NOW!

Conyers Says Bush and Ashcroft 'Decimated the Fourth Amendment'
30-May-02
Civil liberties

"Rep. John Conyers, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, issued a scathing statement Thursday in response to new Justice Department guidelines on terrorism investigations. 'The administration's continued defiance of constitutional safeguards seems to have no end in sight,' Conyers said in a written statement. 'This decision decimates the Fourth Amendment.' Conyers went on to criticize the Justice Department's handling of information related to the September 11 terrorist attacks. 'The Justice Department is intent on another power grab when it has become clear that a lack of competence - not law enforcement authorities - prevented the administration from connecting the dots before September 11,' he said. Conyers, a longtime proponent of civil rights causes, said the Bush administration should 'immediately halt any efforts to unilaterally expand surveillance authority' and that Congress should be consulted 'before implementing further intrusions on our civil liberties.'"

REPEAL THE USA PATRIOT ACT NOW! Passed Without Hearings and Under False Pretenses
28-May-02
Civil liberties

Peter Erlinder, past president of the National Lawyers Guild writes: "But even if a congressional investigation agrees with Bush administration protestations that the warnings weren't specific…administration policy after Sept. 11 is going to require some explaining, too.…The administration has been cynically using its own failure to act on intelligence developed under then-existing laws to justify vastly increasing its own power at the expense of civil freedoms.…Now we know that we were all deceived. Recent revelations about the Sept. 11 tragedy prove that existing investigative powers were effective. The Bush administration used its own failure to act on the warnings it had received to justify grabbing even more power, at the expense of our civil liberties, by deceiving Congress and the American people…The USA Patriot Act became law in less than a month, without any hearings. Now that we know it was passed under false pretenses, Congress should repeal it just as quickly."

How Republicans Destroyed the 4th Amendment and Created Big Brother
20-May-02
Civil liberties

Writing about the USA Patriot Act, Jennifer Van Bergen writes: "History also shows that the Reagan and Bush I Administrations repeatedly attempted to push such [repressive] laws through. Oklahoma City proved that only a 'real' terrorist attack would convince Congress. Furthermore, it is obvious that the proponents of this amendment know it is an end-run around the Fourth Amendment. They have had many years to think about it and have repeatedly shown their willingness to enact carefully crafted, unconstitutional laws. They know the amendment allows intelligence to conduct criminal investigations on American citizens without adherence to basic constitutional protections... Most significantly, it is clear that the events of 9/11 gave the proponents of this amendment the opportunity they needed to slip it by Congress." Is this a coincidence - or the work of a right-wing axis of evil, headquartered at the Federalist Society?

International Human Rights/Civil Liberties Organization. Details Rights Seized from Americans by Bush Administration in Wake of 9/11
19-May-02
Civil liberties

Enduring Freedoms, a coalition that includes Human Rights Watch and Reporters without Borders, has published a report listing the 15 nations around the world that have lost the most civil liberties in the past few years. Number one on the list is the U.S. Why? Because Bush saw 9/11 as an opportunity to set America on the road to a corporate police state. Instead of trying to quell America's fears, he intentionally whipped them up, then used them to his advantage, in a manner similar to Hitler following the alleged terrorist bombing of the Reichstag in the early 1930s. Within a few months, Hitler had stripped away most civil liberties, leaving Germany an easy victim to the rise of Nazism. Are we heading down the same path?

Bush Creates a New 'Enemies List' to Stop Americans from Flying
10-May-02
Civil liberties

In their constant attempt to abuse anti-terrorism for political repression, the Bushies are now stopping and harassing liberal activists who fly: 'suspicious' people like young girls who want to demonstrate against Bush, or elderly nuns who don't like our brutal South American policy. As The Progressive reports, "Twenty of the 37 members of the Peace Action Milwaukee group--including a priest and a nun--were pulled aside and questioned by Milwaukee County sheriff's deputies. They were not cleared in time for takeoff and had to leave the next morning, missing many of the events. What tripped them up was a computerized 'No Fly Watch List' that the federal government now supplies to all the airlines. The airlines are required to check their passenger lists against that computerized 'No Fly' list." What happened to our Constitutional right to travel? We demand Congressional hearings!

Senate Democrats Are Reviewing the Misnamed USA Patriot Act for Civil Liberties Violations
03-May-02
Civil liberties

"Secret court subpoenas, examinations of bookstore records, revised immigration policies and other uses of sweeping new powers have some Senate Democrats taking a new critical look at the USA Patriot Act, enacted in the aftermath of Sept. 11. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), the lone senator to vote against the measure last fall, has been its most vocal critic, warning that the act infringes on constitutional freedoms... Feingold is not alone in his concerns. He has been joined by other Democratic senators, including Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (VT), Richard Durbin (IL) and Maria Cantwell (WA). The act was hurriedly signed into law with overwhelming approval within six weeks of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington - without hearings or without being marked up by a congressional committee… Feingold and Rep. Patsy Mink (D-HI) joined a coalition of groups to talk about infringements on constitutional freedoms in the wake of the act." So reports The Hill.

Michigan is Now a Police State
27-Apr-02
Civil liberties

"Two new laws, which took effect Monday as part of anti-terror efforts, also shield from public scrutiny the reasons for police searches. Defense lawyers and civil libertarians are outraged at the laws, which make search warrants and supporting documents such as affidavits non-public records. 'If you think the police did secretive work before, just wait,' defense attorney William Cataldo said. 'It gives more power to the ignorant and more power to those who would take your rights.' Defense lawyer Walter Piszczatowski said: 'This is nuts, this is beyond nuts. 'What happened to the Fourth Amendment? We're living in a police state.' That means the public, the press, and in some cases even the person accused of the crime, can't know why the police entered a home without permission. Under previous laws, the records were public, unless a judge ordered them sealed for a specific reason... But now, search warrants in state courts are automatically closed to public view." - Oakland Press.

Ashcroft Puts Police on Front Line of the War on Terrorism
13-Apr-02
Civil liberties

According to the Chicago Tribune, "Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft ordered the names of thousands of 'known or suspected' terrorists listed in the government's three major law-enforcement databases Thursday, including one used by police officers nationwide when making routine arrests or traffic stops." That means when a police officer pulls over a young Middle-Eastern male for running a red light, the officer will try to determine whether that individual is a member of Al Qaeda, responsible for the murder of over 3,000 Americans on 9-11. We can only imagine what kind of racial profiling THAT will produce!

Repeal the USA Patriot Act
04-Apr-02
Civil liberties

"The USA Patriot Act is an insult to Americans. The name, itself, is insulting, given what the Act contains and what it will someday be known for: its complete abdication of democratic law and principles. It should be called the Constitution Shredding Act. In particular, it utterly relinquishes any semblance of due process, violates the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments, and unacceptably mixes aspects of criminal investigations with aspects of immigration and foreign intelligence laws. Let me state it even more bluntly. This law is dangerous. It's a travesty. What is worse is that few Americans have the slightest idea what this law contains or what it means." So writes Truthout's Jennifer Van Bergen in an excellent 6-part series.

Under Ashcroft's 'Patriot Act', FBI Can Secretly Demand Your Reading Lists from Libraries and Bookstores
05-Mar-02
Civil liberties

"The FBI, armed with a warrant or subpoena from the FISA court, can demand from bookstores and libraries the names of books bought or borrowed by anyone suspected of involvement in 'international terrorism' or 'clandestine activities.' Once that information is requested by the FBI, a gag order is automatically imposed, prohibiting the bookstore owners or librarians from disclosing to any other person the fact that they have received an order to produce documents... First there is the secrecy in which the subpoenas are obtained... Then then there is the gag order commanding the persons receiving the subpoenas to remain silent. Has John Ashcroft been reading Franz Kafka lately?... The press ought to awaken the citizenry not only to the FBI's harvesting lists of what 'suspect' Americans read, but also to the judicial silencing of bookstores and libraries that are being compelled to betray the privacy and First Amendment rights of readers." So writes Nat Hentoff in the Village Voice.

European Governments View Political Activists as 'Terrorists' - Does B%$#?
14-Feb-02
Civil liberties

The German zine Telepolis reports, "The European Union repeatedly stated over the past few months that activists would not fall under the new anti-terrorist legislation. The distinction between political activists and terrorists would not be blurred. New proposals from Spain, the current EU-Presidency, however show different. According to Spain, the European Member States have noticed 'a gradual increase at various European Union summits and other events, in violence and criminal damage orchestrated by radical extremist groups, clearly terrorising society'. In the eyes of Spain, these actions from activists against globalisation are without doubt terrorist activities. They are the work of 'a loose network hiding behind various social fronts', by which Spain mean 'organisations taking advantage of their lawful status to aid and abet the achievements of terrorist groups' aims'." If that's how "liberal" governments of Europe think, you can be sure B%$# sees US activists as terrorists.

Urge Congress to Oppose National ID!
13-Feb-02
Civil liberties

According to the ACLU, "Once government databases are integrated through a uniform ID, access to and uses of sensitive personal information would inevitably expand. Law enforcement, tax collectors, and other government agencies would want use of the data. Employers, landlords, insurers, credit agencies, mortgage brokers, direct mailers, private investigators, civil litigants and a long list of other private parties would also begin using the ID and even the database, further eroding the privacy that Americans rightly expect in their personal lives. The creation of a national ID card or system is a misplaced, superficial 'quick fix' to the terrorist threat. A national ID system would not effectively deter terrorists and, instead, would pose serious threats to the rights of freedom and equality of everyone in the United States." Send a free fax to Congress!

Ashcroft Releases Statistics on 725 Immigrants Detained Without Charges, But Refuses to Release Names
15-Jan-02
Civil liberties

"The American Civil Liberties Union, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and the Center for National Security Studies, sued the Justice Department in December to obtain more detailed information about foreign nationals detained on criminal and immigration charges since Sept. 11... Federal prosecutors denied most of the requests, arguing that providing the names, locations and other details about detainees would undermine the FBI's Sept. 11 probe and could endanger the public by revealing the arrests of suspected terrorists. 'Releasing this information could pave the way for additional terrorist activities in that it would undermine the ability of the United States to obtain cooperation from knowledgeable witnesses,' wrote James S. Reynolds, chief of the Justice Department's terrorism and violent crime section." How does Ashcroft's Justice Department "obtain cooperation" - through torture? What is Ashcroft hiding from the American people who pay his salary?

Bush's FBI Prepares to Invade your Computer with 'Magic Lantern,' More Evil than Carnivore
05-Jan-02
Civil liberties

"In mid-December, the FBI made a startling announcement that received scant attention. A spokesman for the bureau acknowledged it was developing a controversial Internet spying software -- code-named Magic Lantern -- that supposedly can surreptitiously enter an individual's personal computer, record every keystroke, and zap all this data back to the G-men and G-women. Presto, the data-snoops at the bureau would have the target's computer passwords, the texts and addresses of all the e-mails written by him or her (even those angry e-mails drafted but never sent), a record of all the Internet traveling he or she did, copies of snail-mail correspondence, the contents of any diary kept, to-do lists, on-line banking information, memos, you-name-it -- anything typed into the computer, even if it were immediately deleted or trashed." So writes David Corn in TomPaine.

The Taliban of the West
19-Dec-01
Civil liberties

Freedoms are eroding under the Ashcroft-Bu$h regime more rapidly than the possibility of snow in globally-warmed Connecticut in December. Consider the scary ramifications of 'full spectrum dominance' if it is eventually implemented in the US. "The new surveillance technology deployed in Afghanistan is merely one component of the US doctrine of 'full-spectrum dominance'. The term covered, at first, only military matters: the armed forces sought to achieve complete mastery of land, sea, air, airwaves and space. But perhaps because this has been achieved too easily, the words have already begun to be used more widely, as commercial, fiscal and monetary policy, the composition of foreign governments and the activities of dissidents are redefined as matters of security. Another term for 'full-spectrum dominance' is absolute power."

Patriot Law May Be Used In UConn Anthrax Case
17-Dec-01
Civil liberties

"A federal grand jury in New Haven is weighing whether to invoke, for the first time, a part of a new anti-terrorism law to charge a University of Connecticut graduate student who stashed two vials of anthrax in his personal freezer [?!?] at a school laboratory...The sources said federal authorities have been investigating whether to charge 26-year-old Tomas Foral of West Hartford with possession of anthrax, which is a crime, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, under the USA Patriot Act signed into law on Oct. 26." Instead of grabbing some Ben and Jerry's StrawberrysNaturalAllFudgedUp ice cream for a midnight snack, you grab ...anthrax? OK, certain aspects of the law may be required, but the entire retinue of fascist new regulations? NOT!

Bush Has Said It Three Times: 'A Dictatorship Would Be A Lot Easier'
03-Dec-01
Civil liberties

Buzzflash has a list of the three times that Bush has stated a preference for a Dictatorship. On Dec. 18, 2000, just six days after he and the Supremes stole the Presidency, he went even further. "If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the Dictator." Now with Bush-Ashcroft acting on these words through their Orwellian laws and executive orders, these quotes are downright terrifying.

The Bush-Ashcroft Justice Dept. Is Already Monitoring Modems
30-Nov-01
Civil liberties

"The Department of Justice already is using its new anti-terrorism powers to monitor cable modem users without obtaining a judge's permission first. A top Bush administration official lauded the controversial USA Patriot Act at a Senate hearing on Wednesday, saying that the new abilities have let police obtain information in investigations that was previously unavailable...Other USA Patriot Act sections mean that police can obtain an Internet Protocol address, which identifies a cable modem subscriber, as readily as they can learn someone's telephone number. [DOJ Assistant Attorney General Michael Chertoff] said the government also has used its new powers to obtain court orders for logs from Internet providers that are outside of the court's traditional jurisdiction. 'We've used the nationwide search warrant provision to obtain relevant information,' Chertoff said." So write Declan McCullough and Ben Polen.

Another Orwellian Horror Story: Bush SS Visit College Student Because Of Her Texecutioner Poster
27-Nov-01
Civil liberties

"A.J. Brown, a 19-year-old freshman at Durham Tech, was thanking God it was Friday...Then: Knock, knock... unexpected guests at Brown's Duke Manor apartment. Opening the door, she found a casually dressed man, and a man and woman in what appeared to be business attire...then the man in the suit introduced himself and the woman as agents from the Raleigh office of the U.S. Secret Service. The other man was an investigator from the Durham Police Department. 'Ma'am, we've gotten a report that you have anti-American material,' the male agent said...On that wall hung The Poster. Brown got it at an 'anti-inauguration' protest in Washington, D.C. Distributed to hundreds of activists, it depicts George W. Bush holding a length of rope against a backdrop of lynching victims, and reads: 'We hang on your every word. George Bush: Wanted, 152 Dead'--a reference to the number of people executed by the state of Texas while Bush was governor." So writes Jon Elliston.

The Press and the USA Patriot Act: Where Were They When It Counted?
27-Nov-01
Civil liberties

"In the run-up to Bush's signing of the USA Patriot Act on October 25, the major papers were spiritless about the provisions in the bill that were horrifying to civil libertarians. It would have only have taken a few fierce columns or editorials, such as were profuse after November 15, to have given frightened politicians cover to join the only bold soul in the US Senate, Russell Feingold of Wisconsin. Now it was Feingold, remember, whose vote back in the spring let Ashcroft's nomination out of the Judiciary Committee, at a time when most of his Democratic colleagues were roaring to the news cameras about Ashcroft's racism and contempt for due process. The Times and the Post both editorialized against Ashcroft's nomination. But then, when the rubber met the road, and Ashcroft sent up the Patriot bill, which vindicated every dire prediction of the spring, all fell silent except for Feingold." So write Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair.

ATTN Big Government Critics: The USA PATRIOT Act Will Require Firms To Monitor And Report Customer Transactions
25-Nov-01
Civil liberties

"Ordinary businesses, from bicycle shops to bookstores to bowling alleys, are being pressed into service on the home front in the war on terrorism. Under the USA Patriot Act, signed into law by...Bush late last month, they soon will be required to monitor their customers and report 'suspicious transactions' to the Treasury Department - though most businesses may not be aware of this. Buried in the more than 300 pages of the new law is a provision that 'any person engaged in a trade or business' has to file a government report if a customer spends $10,000 or more in cash. The threshold is cumulative and applies to multiple purchases if they're somehow related - three $4,000 pieces of furniture, for example, might trigger a filing...The impact is less clear for consumers, although privacy advocates are uncomfortable with the thought of a massive database that could bring government scrutiny on innocent people."

Urge Congress to Protect the Constitution!
16-Nov-01
Civil liberties

"Earlier this week, President Bush issued an executive order that would allow special military tribunals to try non-citizens charged with terrorism. This action followed another Administration-issued regulation that gives the government the power to listen in on any conversation between a suspect and his attorney. Both these measures threaten to essentially eviscerate key constitutional protections. Military tribunals would authorize secret trials without a jury and without the requirement of a unanimous verdict, even in situations where the defendant could face the death penalty. Furthermore, allowing the government to eavesdrop on any conversation would severely damage the right of defendants to receive adequate counsel." Send a free fax to Congress courtesy of the ACLU.

Bush v. America and the World: Secret Trials Undermines the Entire Concept of the Rule of Law
16-Nov-01
Civil liberties

"When Americans accused of terrorism are tried in secret courts by hooded judges in Peru or other nations, the U.S. government rightly objects. To authorize comparable trials in this country will erase any legitimacy of such objections. Worse, it will erode throughout the world the image of America as a place where certain freedoms cannot be compromised -- freedoms that ultimately provide the most basic justification for this country to stake its claim to lead the world and wage the war on terrorism. And worse in turn than the blow to the U.S. image abroad will be the potentially irreversible injury at home if Mr. Bush proceeds, as his order would allow, to undermine the rule of law." So writes the Washington Post.

Bush v. America: US Use of Military Tribunals Will Encourage Other Countries to Execute Americans
15-Nov-01
Civil liberties

Senate Judiciary Chair Pat "Leahy expressed particular concerns about setting up a military tribunal to try suspected terrorists, suggesting that it could send 'a message to the world that it is acceptable to hold secret trials and summary executions without the possibility of judicial review, at least when the defendant is a foreign national.'" That means Americans living or traveling abroad could be arrested for "terrorism," tried secretly, and executed - and if the US protested, the foreign government would simply point to the Bush Administration's policies. Under these policies, American Lori Berenson, who is being held in prison in Peru, would have been executed by the dictatorial government of Alberto Fujimori.(http://www.freelori.org/)

Bush v. America: Even Nixon's Rightwing Mouthpiece Denounces Bush's Dictatorial Powers
15-Nov-01
Civil liberties

"...a president [sic] of the US has just assumed what amounts to dictatorial power to jail or execute aliens. Intimidated by terrorists and inflamed by a passion for rough justice, we are letting George W. Bush get away with the replacement of the American rule of law with military kangaroo courts... His kangaroo court can conceal evidence by citing national security, make up its own rules, find a defendant guilty even if a third of the officers disagree, and execute the alien with no review by any civilian court. No longer does the judicial branch and an independent jury stand between the government and the accused. In lieu of those checks and balances central to our legal system, non-citizens face an executive that is now investigator, prosecutor, judge, jury and jailer or executioner. In an Orwellian twist, Bush's order calls this Soviet-style abomination 'a full and fair trial.'" So writes Nixon's Voice, William Safire.

Bush v. America: Dictator Bush Declares Emergency, Abolishes the Rule of Law - Is Anyone Besides the ACLU Paying Attention?
14-Nov-01
Civil liberties

"Bush declared an 'extraordinary emergency' yesterday that empowers him to order military trials for suspected international terrorists and their collaborators, bypassing the American criminal justice system, its rules of evidence and its constitutional guarantees. The presidential directive, signed by Bush as commander in chief, applies to non-U.S. citizens arrested in the U.S. or abroad. The president himself will decide which defendants will be tried by military tribunals... Bush's order promises 'a full and fair trial' and access to lawyers, but there is no provision for an appeal to U.S. civil courts or international tribunals. Only Bush or the secretary of defense, if the president so chooses, will have the authority to overturn a decision... The ACLU said... 'today's order is deeply disturbing and further evidence that the administration is totally unwilling to abide by the checks and balances that are so central to our democracy.'"

The USA PATRIOT Act Violates SIX Constitutional Amendments
14-Nov-01
Civil liberties

"The Patriot Act: Violates the First Amendment freedom of speech guarantee, right to peaceably assemble provision, and petition the government for redress of grievances provision...Violates the Fourth Amendment guarantee of probable cause...[it] now allows the police, at any time and for any reason, to enter and search your house — and not even tell you about it. Violates the Fifth Amendment by allowing for indefinite incarceration without trial for those deemed by the Attorney General to be threats to national security. The Fifth Amendment guarantees that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, and the Patriot Act does away with due process. It even allows people to be kept in prison for life without even a trial. Violates the Sixth Amendment guarantee of the right to a speedy and public trial…Violates the Eighth Amendment (cruel and unusual punishment). Violates the 13th Amendment (punishment without conviction)."

Bush v. America: How the USA Patriot Act Eliminates Civil Rights
10-Nov-01
Civil liberties

"On October 26, 2001, President Bush signed the USA Patriot Act (USAPA) into law. With this law we have given sweeping new powers to both domestic law enforcement and international intelligence agencies and have eliminated the checks and balances that previously gave courts the opportunity to ensure that these powers were not abused. Most of these checks and balances were put into place after previous misuse of surveillance powers by these agencies, including the revelation in 1974 that the FBI and foreign intelligence agencies had spied on over 10,000 U.S. citizens, including Martin Luther King." So writes the Electronic Frontier Foundation, in a detailed analysis of how the USA Patriot bill shreds the Constitution.

Bush v. America: Ashcroft Shreds the Constitution
10-Nov-01
Civil liberties

"Mr. Ashcroft says that his strategy of 'aggressive detention of lawbreakers and material witnesses' has been vital in preventing new horrors. That assertion has to be taken on blind faith, and it would be easier to accept if the attorney general had shown more overall restraint. But his definition of the Bill of Rights includes eavesdropping on lawyer-client conversations and withholding from the public such key facts as the identities of those still in custody, the reason for their continued detention - including any charges filed - and the facilities where they are being held. The secrecy even extends to refusing to explain the resort to secrecy. Meanwhile, reports suggest that some detainees cleared of any connection with terrorism have been held under harsh conditions for prolonged periods, and denied a chance to notify relatives of their whereabouts." So writes the NY Times.

Is Ashcroft the New King of the United States?
09-Nov-01
Civil liberties

"Were you aware that the attorney general of the United States now has the power to arrest someone without probable cause, hold that person without presenting evidence, and ultimately give that person a life sentence without ever having a trial? That's the power Congress has given to the attorney general, which is stunning because I've always believed that the United States was a nation where due process could not be voided. With this legislation, we've put a rule on the books that puts us on the level of evil, repressive dictators who rule by arbitrary and capricious whim and who lock people up on the authority of a king with no opportunity to challenge the order. Is the attorney general the new king of the United States?" So writes former Denver Broncos player Reggie Rivers in the Denver Post.

Bush v. America: Ashcroft Wiretaps Conversations between Prisoners and their Lawyers
09-Nov-01
Civil liberties

First, John Ashcroft trashed the Constitution by indefinitely locking up 1,147 people without filing criminal charges. Now Ashcroft wants to shred the Constitution by listening in on conversations between these uncharged prisoners and their lawyers. "This proposal is a terrifying nightmare for innocent people who are under suspicion by the attorney general," said Laura W. Murphy, director of the national office of the American Civil Liberties Union. The legal profession has been completely and inexcusably missing in action over the indefinite detentions; but perhaps this frontal assault on the rights of lawyers may rouse their consciences.

Britain Embraces Big Brother - Government Will Monitor EVERY Phone Call, E-mail and Web Visit
07-Nov-01
Civil liberties

According to the Guardian, "Sweeping proposals to give law enforcement agencies access to the communications records of every UK telephone and internet user will not be restricted to anti-terrorist investigations, despite assurances to the contrary from the home secretary. The Guardian has established that the detailed communications data to be retained as part of the government's response to the September 11 attacks will be available to police investigating minor crimes. It will also be available for tax collection and public health and safety purposes." In other words, Big Brother will be monitoring EVERY phone call, e-mail and Web visit. This is just like Bush's "Patriot" bill, only the U.S. has no Guardian to tell the people.

Bush v. America: Ashcroft Holds 1,147 People in Jail Indefinitely on Minor Charges
06-Nov-01
Civil liberties

"As investigators race to comprehend the ongoing terrorist threat, the government has adopted a deliberate strategy of disruption -- locking up large numbers of Middle Eastern men, using whatever legal tools they can. The operation is being conducted under great secrecy, with defense attorneys at times forbidden to remove documents from court and a federal gag order preventing officials from discussing the detainees." The FBI has persuaded judges to permit these indefinite detentions using a 7-page affidavit, which argues that the FBI is collecting "thousands of bits and pieces of information that may seem innocuous... to see if it can be fit into a picture that will reveal how the unseen whole operates." Washington lawyer Mark Lynch says, "If they are holding people in order to rule out the possibility that they're involved, that just turns the system on its head."

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., A Domestic Terrorist?
02-Nov-01
Civil liberties

"If Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., were alive today, he might well be leading acts of civil disobedience against the war in Afghanistan. And he would probably be charged with domestic terrorism, under the new anti-terrorism act. Anyone who has any links to his organization, or contributed money to it, could be charged too. According to Section 803 of the act, it takes three things to make you a domestic terrorist. You have to break a law (federal or state). Your lawbreaking has to involve 'acts dangerous to human life.' And it must 'appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce' a civilian population and/or the government." So writes Ira Chernus, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, in (of all places!) Pravda.

The USA PATRIOT Act Is Un-American And Un-Patriotic
01-Nov-01
Civil liberties

John Dean writes: "No hearings were held in either the House or Senate on the USA PATRIOT Act, and few — if any — members of Congress were really aware of what was actually in this massive, complex, highly technical 30,000-word statute...The reach of this new law is far beyond those who appear involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. The USA PATRIOT Act adds a new, and fourth, definition of 'domestic terrorism.' In doing so, they have made many home-grown political activists that have protested their opposition to the programs of the World Trade Organization on the streets of Seattle and Washington into terrorists." Dean adds that, "The USA PATRIOT Act was jammed through the House and Senate, with those calling for regular order being labeled unpatriotic." Many Democrats reportedly opposed this bill, but they were cowed by being called 'unpatriotic,' and reckoned it would pass anyway. Russ Feingold (D-WI) was the only Senator with the guts to stand against this tyrannical bill.

Bush v. America: Patriot Bill Puts Us on the Road to Repression
31-Oct-01
Civil liberties

"Heeding the request of Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft--who has arrested 1,000 purportedly potential terrorists but found hard evidence on none--a sweeping new federal law was passed that allows the feds to explore the Internet, e-mail, computer hard-drives, and personal financial and medical records of people against whom there is insufficient or zero evidence, and allows their arrest without due process protections. Ashcroft conceded that he needed the new sweeping powers not to catch criminals in the act but to arrest anyone who seemed the slightest bit suspicious. 'Let the terrorists among us be warned,' Ashcroft thundered to a conference of U.S. mayors. 'If you overstay your visas even by one day, we will arrest you.' Huh? If the highest law enforcement official has spotted terrorists among us, why hasn't he charged them with that crime?" So writes LA Times columnist Robert Scheer.

Bush v. Civil Liberties: Anti-Terrorism Law Grants Broad Powers To Secret FISA Court
31-Oct-01
Civil liberties

"In the government's all-out campaign against terrorism, it is one of the least-known and most important fronts: a windowless, soundproof, cipher-locked room on the sixth floor of the Department on Justice in Washington. Inside, the judges of America's secret court, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court, rule on requests to tap the phones, bug the rooms and break into the houses of terror suspects on U.S. soil. With President Bush's signing Friday of sweeping new anti-terror legislation, the secret court's jurisdiction has been widely expanded...[Civil libertarians] say the change weakens constitutional protections by enabling the FBI to circumvent the requirements for criminal wiretap warrants...The new measure lengthens the term of its warrants from 45 to 120 days, with extensions permitted for up to a year…Most of the objections, however, concern the blurring of the distinction between criminal and intelligence warrants."

Bush v. Liberty: How Bush's Anti-Terrorism Bill Nukes the 4th Amendment
26-Oct-01
Civil liberties

"It breaks down the distinction between foreign-intelligence investigations and criminal investigations by permitting--indeed, encouraging--the sharing of information between intelligence investigations and criminal ones. It also vastly expands the power of the government to gather information in an intelligence investigation and then proceed under the veil of intelligence even if the primary purpose is to gather information for a criminal investigation. In order to understand why this is a problem, one must understand the origins of FISA, legislation that authorizes the government to conduct investigations that invade areas protected by the Fourth Amendment (which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures)." So writes Morton Halperin in the American Prospect.

ACLU Pledges to Monitor Anti-Terrorism Bill
26-Oct-01
Civil liberties

"The American Civil Liberties Union pledged anew to work with the Bush Administration and law enforcement agencies to ensure that civil liberties in America are not eroded by the newly approved USA Patriot Act... ACLU officials are scheduled to meet with FBI Director Robert Mueller, the second meeting in what the ACLU hopes will be a continuing dialogue with the nation's top law enforcement authorities. 'We cannot as a nation allow very legitimate public anxiety to immunize the Administration and Congress from their obligation to protect the Bill of Rights and the fundamental values that document embodies,' said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU's Washington National Office."

Bush Signs Anti-Terrorism Law Thus Turning America Into A Police State
26-Oct-01
Civil liberties

"Bush on Friday signed a sweeping anti-terrorism bill into law, giving police and intelligence agencies vast new powers to 'counter a threat like no other our nation has ever faced.'" Using Orwellian RoveSpeak, Bush said, "Today, we take an essential step in defeating terrorists while protecting the constitutional rights of all Americans." Say what? Is he protecting our rights by giving "police wide-ranging new anti-terrorism powers to secretly search people's homes and business records and to eavesdrop on telephone and computer conversations?" Said Russ Feingold (D-WI), "This bill does not strike the right balance between empowering law enforcement and protecting civil liberties." Russ Feingold was the only Senator to vote against the bill.

Stop the Anti-American 'Anti-Terrorism' Bill - Call Your Representatives Now!
23-Oct-01
Civil liberties

"Why hasn't the unpatriotic, unconstitutional 'anti-terrorism' bill, the Senate's 'USA' bill, S. 1510 and the House PATRIOT bill which was subsequently converted into almost exactly the same wording as the Senate bill, been destroyed by an overwhelming negative vote yet? I think part of the reason is that this internet community of left-wing activists, Democrats and non-Democrats alike, is not activist enough. Do not wait, do not sit back. This may well be the end of the internet as we know it, and the end of our ability to make conversation and even argument of this nature. Call you Senators. Call your Representatives." So writes Mark Hull-Richter.

Bush v. Human Rights: Just Say No to Torture
23-Oct-01
Civil liberties

"With the threat of more terror attempts looming, the frustration is understandable. To beat information out of suspects, however, is illegal under U.S. and international law. Beyond the legal implications are moral ones. Torture degrades both victim and torturer. Those who use torture lose their humanity and become what they fight against. Not only is it immoral and illegal, but torture also is likely to yield bad information. That's because people will say whatever the torturer wants to hear -- true or not. To suspend civil protections, even for these four men, would be to risk the same for all of us. If a belief in a suspect's guilt and the presumed value of information sought become standards for suspending the laws against torture, then many innocent people will suffer punishment before even getting to trial." So writes the Miami Herald.

How About Displaying The Bill Of Rights In Car Windows?
22-Oct-01
Civil liberties

"I am very uncomfortable and worried when so many people claim such reverence for our flag and all it represents, while they at the same time seem willing to casually accept the chipping away at one of our most important natural treasures, the Bill of Rights…President Bush blasts the terrorists of Sept. 11 for trying to destroy our democracy. As horrible as these acts were, it is not only attacks from fanatics from outside our country that we must fear. There are those within our own government who would use the current state of affairs to pass laws that infringe upon our long cherished civil liberties...I have a dream: I see a sports stadium filled to the last seat, a sea of fans waving not the red, white and blue of the U. S. flag, but the Bill of Rights. I see copies of the Bill of Rights being displayed on passing cars, in front of homes and businesses, on people's lapels." So writes Russ Childers in a guest column for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Congress Finishes Work on Wiretapping and Money Laundering
18-Oct-01
Civil liberties

The House voted 412-1 for anti-money laundering legislation that "requires American banks to know who their depositors are and authorize a cutoff of banking ties to nations refusing to help United States law enforcement personnel. The money-laundering legislation has provisions, long opposed by bankers, that law enforcement authorities have sought to use against organized crime and drug traffickers." Senate and House negotiators then wrapped up the complete anti-terrorism bill, which includes warrantless searches and wiretaps. Some of these provisions - it's not clear exactly which - have a theoretical 4-year "sunset," but such "temporary" provisions all too often become permanent.

Congress Shreds the Bill of Rights
12-Oct-01
Civil liberties

The Senate and the House approved the most far-reaching assault on the bill of rights in American history. The Senate voted 96-1 for S. 1510, following the overwhelming defeat of 3 amendments by Russ Feingold (83-13, 90-7, and 89-8). Republican leaders then railroaded a similar bill through the House by 337-79, replacing the PATRIOT bill that came out of the House Judiciary Committee. Stay tuned for more analysis...

Stop Congress from Outlawing 'Civil Disobedience' as 'Terrorism'
12-Oct-01
Civil liberties

"The U.S. Senate is preparing to vote on the 'Uniting and Strengthening America Act (USA).' As an attempt to enhance the ability of law enforcement and government agencies to prevent terrorist acts this legislation is being put forth with the best of intentions. But no matter how good the intentions, the bill as actually written contains a dangerous definition of terrorism that should concern every American. As written, this definition could lead to large-scale investigations of American citizens for supporting and engaging in civil disobedience and have the perverse effect of discouraging citizens from participating in the very essence of our democracy -- the right to peacefully protest." Send this letter from Greenpeace to your Representatives!

Russ Feingold Delays Terrorism Bill to Protect Civil Liberties - He Needs Our Support!
10-Oct-01
Civil liberties

Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), who cast a key vote FOR John Ashcroft, is now exercising some much-needed oversight over Ashcroft's attempt to rush the repeal of the Bill of Rights through the Senate. Feingold insisted on a Senate debate on S. 1510 so he could offer 4 crucial amendments: "Feingold wants to eliminate a provision in the bill that would allow police to search suspects' homes secretly, narrow a provision that allows federal officials to wiretap telephones, keep the FBI from being able to access Americans' personal records and clarify the federal government's ability to wiretap computers." Call your Senators (202-224-3121) and urge them to defend the Constitution by supporting the Feingold amendments to S. 1510.

Gene Lyons: American Right Wing Nuts Don't Understand that Debate and Dissent are Democracy's Greatest Assets
10-Oct-01
Civil liberties

How is it, asks columnist Gene Lyons, that the people most strenuously vocal about defending liberties abroad can be willing to suspend them at home? Debate and dissent are the crucial elements of democracy's single greatest advantage over other forms of government -- its capacity for self-correction.

House Judiciary Committee Approves PATRIOT Bill
04-Oct-01
Civil liberties

The House Judiciary Committee "unanimously approved unprecedented surveillance powers for police, capping a fiery weeklong debate over how to balance freedom while fighting terrorism. Late Wednesday evening, the House Judiciary Committee voted 36-0 in favor of an anti-terrorism bill crafted by GOP and Democratic leaders but opposed by civil liberties groups. The full House will likely vote on the measure by next week... The worries expressed by some groups that are members of the new In Defense of Freedom coalition include: the ease with which police could eavesdrop on the Internet, expanded information-sharing between police, the CIA and similar agencies, and potentially intrusive surveillance of users by their Internet providers."

Bush Creates 'Office of Homeland Security' - What Does That Mean?
26-Sep-01
Civil liberties

"On the evening of September 20, President Bush allied himself with the worst enemies of freedom. He made a seemingly innocuous -- even a comforting-sounding -- announcement. He said he had created the cabinet-level Office of Homeland Security, with Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge as its head. Most people were utterly unaware of the significance of Bush's new bureaucracy. But for anyone watching the advance of police- state policies in America, absolutely nothing could have been more ominous." So writes Concerned Citizens Opposed to Police States.

Our Civil Liberties May Depend on Bob Barr
25-Sep-01
Civil liberties

Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA) is a hyopcrite on sex and abortion, but he may be the only genuine conservative on civil liberties and limiting the powers of big government. He directly challenged John Ashcroft's efforts to rush through legislation eliminating key civil liberties. "Why is it necessary to rush this through? Does it have anything to do with the fact that the department has sought many of these authorities on numerous other occasions, has been unsuccessful in obtaining them, and now seeks to take advantage of what is obviously an emergency situation to obtain authorities that it has been unable to obtain previously?" In the Senate, the only genuine conservative seems to be Mike Dewine (R-OH). If your Senator or Representative is a conservative Republican, call them (202-224-3121) and tell them true conservatism means stopping John Ashcroft from taking away our freedom!

Republicans Illegally Censor Critics of Ashcroft's Police State Plans from C-SPAN
25-Sep-01
Civil liberties

Speaking to the House Judiciary Committee last Monday, John Ashcroft demanded massive infringements on civil liberties. Ashcroft's demands included: indefinite detention of aliens, use of illegal evidence in trial, secret court authorization for wiretaps, access to users' Internet information without a court order and authority to review telephone voice-mail messages with only a search warrant. All of this was covered by TV cameras from C-SPAN and other networks. But when Democrats called civil liberties and free-speech advocates to testify from the ACLU and PFAW, "the committee’s Republican staff ordered camera crews to leave, including those of C-SPAN." This is outrageous! Call Tom DeLay (202-224-3121) and tell him to stop attacking - and censoring - our civil liberties. And call C-SPAN on the Democrats line at (202) 737-0001 to complain about accepting censorship by Republicans!

 


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