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Civil Rights / Liberties
U.S.: Landmark Case Could Restore Felon Voting Rights
By Matthew Cardinale | IPS
A historic ruling earlier this month on behalf of felons who lost the right to vote could call into question the disenfranchisement of felons and ex-felons in the State of Washington and indeed across the United States.
Federal Ninth District Circuit Court Judges A. Wallace Tashima and Stephen Reinhardt ruled on behalf of several disenfranchised voters, in a 2-1 ruling. Washington's Secretary of State Sam Reed and Attorney General Rob McKenna will appeal to the Supreme Court.
If plaintiffs are successful, the case could result in the restoration of voting rights to 47,000 U.S. citizens who are either incarcerated or under state supervision in the State of Washington, said Reed's director of communications, David Ammons.
In addition, the case could have an impact on the status of felon voting rights in other states, by opening up the path for similar lawsuits.
According to the Sentencing Project, an estimated 5.3 million U.S. citizens cannot vote because they have a criminal conviction and live in one of 48 states which disenfranchise felons and ex-felons. An estimated four million of these are already out of prison and are living and working in their communities.
"It absolutely is a victory," Kara Gotsch, advocacy director for the Sentencing Project, told IPS. "The racial disparity that exists in the criminal justice system and discrimination is something we've been concerned about as an organisation for a long time."
"To have the court acknowledge that racial discrimination is an issue is in itself a significant finding, but the fact that this could also impact the felon voting laws is also important," Gotsch said. Read more.
Congresswoman Donna Edwards has just introduced a Constitutional amendment, together with Congressman John Conyers.
9/11, Deep Events, and the Curtailment of U.S. Freedoms
A talk delivered to the New England Antiwar Conference, MIT, January 30, 2010.
by Prof Peter Dale Scott | Global Research
Hello everyone! I’m honored to be invited to this important anti-war conference. As I am in the final stages of editing my next book, The Road to Afghanistan, I have been turning down invitations to speak. But I was eager to accept this one, and to join my friends and others in debunking the war on terror, the false justification for the Afghan-Pakistan war.
Let me make my own position clear at the outset. There are indeed people out there, including some Muslim extremists, who want to inflict terror on America. But it is crystal clear, as many people inside and outside government have agreed, that it makes this problem worse, not better, when Washington sends large numbers of U.S. troops to yet another country where they don ‘t belong.
A war on terror is as inappropriate a cure as a U.S. war on drugs, which as we have seen in Colombia makes the drug problem worse, not better. The war on terror and the war on drugs have this in common: both are ideological attempts to justify the needless killings of thousands – including both American troops and foreign civilians -- in another needless war.
Why does America find itself, time after time, invading countries in distant oil-bearing regions, countries which have not invaded us? This is a vital issue on which we should seek a clear message for the American people. Unfortunately it has been an issue on which there has been serious disagreement dividing the antiwar movement, just as it divided people, even friends, inside the anti-Vietnam War movement of the 1960s.
Perhaps many of you in this room know that there was disagreement between Noam Chomsky and myself in our analysis of how America entered the Vietnam War. This did not stop Noam and I from speaking out on the same platform against the war, or remaining friends, even after our public disagreements. There was too much on which we agreed.
Let me turn to today’s topic, the war on terror, by reading a long quote from Noam Chomsky in 2002, with which I fully agree:
"the war on terrorism was not declared on September 11 ; rather, it was redeclared, using the same rhetoric as the first declaration twenty years earlier. The Reagan administration, as you know, I'm sure, came into office announcing that a war on terrorism would be the core of U.S. foreign policy, and it condemned what the president called the "evil scourge of terrorism. " …. International terrorism was described as a plague spread by "depraved opponents of civilization itself," in "a return to barbarism in the modern age.”"
Today it is easy to see the falsehood of the government rhetoric in the 1980s about heroic freedom fighters fighting the “evil scourge of terrorism.” Most of the CIA money in the 1980s went to the terrorist drug trafficker Gulbeddin Hekmatyar, remembered for his habit of throwing acid in the faces of women not wearing burkas. Hekmatyar did not represent Afghan aspirations for freedom, but the interests of the U.S. ally Pakistan. As a true Afghan leader said in 1994, “We didn't choose [him]. The United States made Hekmatyar by giving him his weapons.” To describe Hekmatyar’s men as freedom fighters was a fraud. Read more.
The logic of (counter) terrorism, as practiced by the US government
By Michael Schwartz
Keep in mind that well known sociological studies (enshrined in a famous movie starring Will Smith) demonstrate all people on earth are separated by only six degrees of separation. This means that careful work by the intelligence agencies can place almost anyone into a network of associates with any suspect. This means that, in practice, the construction of these suspicious networks will sweep up pretty much everyone in the vague social vicinity of a terrorist suspect.
In a recent Harper's article, Petra Bartosiewicz explains, in excruciating detail, the incredible saga of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist who trained and worked in the United States for eleven years, and who vanished from her hometown in Pakistan in 2003, and re-appeared in 2008, accused of the attempted murder of U.S. intelligence agents who were apparently interrogating her for the umpteenth time during what was likely five years of imprisonment by various authorities, mainly the Pakistani and U.S. intelligence agencies. The whole story is bizarre, and even Bartosiewicz is still confused about what actually happened, though it is entirely possible that Siddiqui is innocent of all allegations and charges. Of course, there is no guarantee that the pending trial will clarify anything.
One thing is, however, crystal clear: that the secret counter terrorist intelligence network created by the U.S. practices every form of brutality that it accuses its targets of utilizing. And it does this on a scale that Al Qaeda and its allies can only dream about.
But there is a much larger significance to the prevalence of these practices, and this larger significance lies much more in the process of disappearing innocent citizens in every country of the world than in the particularities of how they are treated once they are captured and incarcerated. The logic behind this practice of the mass arrest of innocents was made explicit by an FBI document filed in the U.S. court a few years back. Here is Bartosiewicz's account of that document:
When the FBI detained more than a thousand Muslim immigrants in 2001, for instance, it provided judges at secret detention hearings an affidavit explaining that the business of counterterrorism intelligence gathering in the United States is akin to the construction of a mosaic and that evidence that may seem innocuous at first glance might ultimately fit into a picture that will reveal how the unseen whole operates. The FBI reasoned that even the possessors of this intelligence might not be aware of the significance of what they knew, and so they could be detained simply because the agency was unable to rule out their value.
Activists Gear Up for National March & Rally in DC March 20, 2010; Hudson Valley NYrs Organize To Attend; How About You?
1. TAKE THE PEACE BUSES FROM THE HUDSON VALLEY
The Activist Newsletter and Peace and Social Progress Now have chartered several buses to the nation's capital Saturday, March 20, leaving from Kingston, New Paltz, and Poughkeepsie in the early hours and returning at night. We will consider establishing other pickup locations farther down the Valley if groups of a dozen or more people commit to boarding at a particular location convenient to our buses.
The roundtrip cost is $60 per person. Discounts for students and low-income people will be offered when we receive contributions from readers for that purpose.
Witness Against Torture and Peaceable Assembly Campaigns in Washington, DC
By Joy First | January 20-29, 2010
As our government continues to engage in illegal actions that cause suffering to so many people around the world, we must continue in our struggle for peace and justice. And so to that end, I have been engaged in a couple of campaigns this month. This involved spending ten days in DC where I was arrested in an action of nonviolent civil resistance.
Supreme Court Ruling Spurs Corporation Run for Congress | Press Release
First Test of “Corporate Personhood” In Politics
Following the recent Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission to allow unlimited corporate funding of federal campaigns, Murray Hill Inc. today announced it was filing to run for U.S. Congress and released its first campaign video on YouTube.
“Until now,” Murray Hill Inc. said in a statement, “corporate interests had to rely on campaign contributions and influence peddling to achieve their goals in Washington. But thanks to an enlightened Supreme Court, now we can eliminate the middle-man and run for office ourselves.”
Murray Hill Inc. is believed to be the first “corporate person” to exercise its constitutional right to run for office. As Supreme Court observer Lyle Denniston wrote in his SCOTUSblog, “If anything, the decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission conferred new dignity on corporate “persons,” treating them — under the First Amendment free-speech clause — as the equal of human beings.”
From Mark Crispin Miller
Here's yet another harrowing injustice down in Alabama. Like Don Siegelman and all too many others, this woman was convicted over nothing--and she's now gone to a distant, over-crowded prison camp, which, although a minimum security facility, is "no country club," as noted here.
Worst of all, the camp, called Atwood, has a "medical philosophy" that basically denies you treatment, unless you're at death's door. This is bad news for Schmitz, who's suffering from "diabetes, kidney problems and degnerative joint disease. She had a stroke in 2007."
She's filed a motion to stay out of prison pending her appeal. But that, of course, cuts no ice whatsoever with the sociopaths who rule in Alabama.
Here's Scott Horton's piece about the case:
If you want to reach out to Sue, to help her get through this ordeal, here's an helpful message from a friend of hers in Alabama:
Congratulations to the NCADP's Kansas Affiliate, the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty, where this morning SB 375, "Abolishing the death penalty; creating the crime of aggravated murder," passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee with a bi-partisan vote of 7 to 4. The bill now moves to the Senate floor, where a vote is expected to take place within the next few weeks. Links to more information are below, but first:
TAKE ACTION #1: Who do you know in Kansas?
AN American university suspended a campus sorority after six of its members allegedly tortured at least seven girls who wanted to join the social club over an eight day period, WPIX reported
Seven alleged victims came forward saying they were beaten and starved at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
One victim, who asked to remain anonymous, told newspaper The Star-Ledger she endured seven nights of beatings and was struck 201 times between January 18 and 25.
The young pledge said she was told the beatings would "humble" her, that each flesh-rending strike with a wooden paddle would build love and trust between sorority sisters.
She was taken to hospital with blood clots and welts on her buttocks after she was unable to sit on the eighth day of punishment, she said. Read more.
By David Swanson
Wow, I was gone less than a week to the Conch Republic, and now return to a nation in which I would heartily recommend to any city, county, or state that it follow the example of the Florida Keys and secede from the so-called union.
A Supreme Act Of Judicial Treason Against The People Of The United States, And What We Can And Must Do About It
A Supreme Act Of Judicial Treason Against The People Of The United States, And What We Can And Must Do About It
Because of the gravity of the crime against the Constitution committed by a gang of 5 right wing judicial outlaws on our Supreme Court, we are launching two critical action pages at once:
- Action Page: Corporations Are NOT The People
- Action Page: Impeach The Supreme Court 5
- Click "Read more" and scroll down for Facebook & Twitter actions, too!
By any fair legal definition, the decision yesterday by The Supreme Court 5 constitutes nothing less than an act of TREASON against the people of the United States. Having read and analyzed the entire 183 page decision and all of its concurring and dissenting opinions ourselves, we are fully prepared to support this accusatory conclusion.
Having so grossly abused its jurisdiction by presuming to decide a question expressly WAIVED by the petitioner in the Court below (p 12), this rogue Supreme Court ruled for the FIRST time that NO corporation can be constrained from unlimited influence over our elections. And even assuming that the Court intended the decision to only apply to American corporations, the Court expressly DECLINED (pp 46-47) to reach the question of whether foreign ownership stakes in American corporations should likewise be given carte blanche to put their thumbs on the scales of our democracy.
Thus, until Congress FURTHER acts (and it must, though it could not have escaped the attention of The Supreme Court 5 that the current Republican minority has vowed to obstruct ANYTHING of consequence that Congress might try to pass), there is now nothing to constrain foreign nationals, even our most sworn enemies, from usurping what even the most die hard Tea Bagger takes as an article of faith, that the rights of citizenship of this country are ONLY for Americans. This must be construed, within the four corners of our Constitution, as deliberately and knowingly exposing the United States of America to harm in the interim, by giving "aid and comfort" to our enemies (Constitution Article 3, section 3), should our enemies now wish to take advantage of this unprecedented and rash decision. In simple Constitutional terms . . . treason!!
U.S. Mulls Legality of Killing American al Qaeda "Turncoat"
Opportunities to "Take Out" Radical Cleric Anwar Awlaki In Yemen "May Have Been Missed"
By Matthew Cole, Richard Esposito and Brian Ross | ABC News | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
According to the people who were briefed on the issue, American officials fear the possibility of criminal prosecution without approval in advance from the White House for a targeted strike against Awlaki.
White House lawyers are mulling the legality of proposed attempts to kill an American citizen, Anwar al Awlaki, who is believed to be part of the leadership of the al Qaeda group in Yemen behind a series of terror strikes, according to two people briefed by U.S. intelligence officials.
One of the people briefed said opportunities to "take out" Awlaki "may have been missed" because of the legal questions surrounding a lethal attack which would specifically target an American citizen.
A spokesperson said the White House declined to comment.
While Awlaki has not been charged with any crimes under U.S. law, intelligence officials say recent intelligence reports and electronic intercepts show he played an important role in recruiting the accused "underwear bomber" Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Awlaki also carried on extensive e-mail communication with the accused Fort Hood shooter, Major Nidal Hasan, prior to the attack that killed 12 soldiers and one civilian. Read more.
Legal Defense Fund: Supreme Court Decision in Citizens United Case “Inevitable” | Press Release | CELDF
Continues Long History of Expansion of Corporate Rights over the Rights of People, Communities, and Nature
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund is the only public interest law firm in the U.S. that has worked with municipalities to question whether corporate “rights” can coexist with the democratic rights of communities to local self-government.
Those communities have recognized that corporate rights and privileges are routinely wielded to override democratic decision making and undermine efforts to protect the environment and public health, local economies and local agriculture. Through the adoption of local, binding laws, these communities are pioneering a new structure of law which does not recognize the rights and privileges of corporations.
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Decision
Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission – giving corporations the ability to spend money directly to influence federal elections under the Constitution’s First Amendment – was inevitable. It represents a logical expansion of corporate constitutional “rights” – which include the rights of persons which have been judicially conferred upon corporations. “Personhood” rights mean that corporations possess First Amendment rights to free speech, along with a litany of other rights that are secured to persons under the federal Bill of Rights.
The expansion of corporate rights and privileges under the law has been deliberate, beginning nearly two hundred years ago with the Dartmouth decision in which the Supreme Court ruled that private corporations have rights that municipal corporations – governments composed of “we the people” – did not.
The expansion of these rights and privileges occurred during the 1800s, throughout the 1900s, until today. For those who think that the way to stem this tide is to find the perfect lawsuit, we say, stop looking. It doesn’t exist, for there is no magic bullet.
Rather, in order to reverse decisions like Citizens United, the whole concept of corporate “rights” must be examined, and how corporations possessing “rights” interferes with the exercise of rights by people, communities, and nature. And, it’s not simply that corporations have “personhood” rights. It goes well beyond that.
Answer to the Court: the American Elections for Americans Only Act of 2010
By Brent Budowsky
The elected President and Congress should answer the unelected Supreme Court with by passing what I call the American Elections for Americans Only Act of 2010. According to the recent Gallup poll following the Court decision, 76% of voters believe that elected officials should regulate American corporate political spending. I believe my proposal would garner support from more than 90% of our voters who are tired of outsourcing our jobs, our finance, and our strength in the world and are outraged at the prospect of outsourcing the buying of our democracy and our nation.
In my proposal Congress would prohibit the kind of spending prohibited by McCain-Feingold by any public company, private company, or corporate entity that receives foreign finance or investment. I do not believe the Supreme Court would find this law unconstitutional, but if it did, there should be a constitutional amendment that would overwhelmingly pass because the American people will demand that American elections be for Americans only.
Let’s use the example of major Wall Street firms and banking institutions that would be banned under my proposal from making enormous independent and unregulated campaign donations because they are heavily influenced by foreign finance that often has interests that are against the interests of the United States.
For example, there are sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East that have major stakes in these firms as investors and major relations with these firms as partners and customers. Today the CEO's and corporate boards of major financial institutions have fiduciary duties to serve the interests of what the law calls foreign owners, and because they are dependent on this foreign finance, they are unduly influenced by these interests that often have interests directly opposed to American interests.
Do we want foreign investors who oppose the state of Israel, or covertly support Osama Bin Laden, to influence the spending of many millions of dollars to buy American elections?
Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County Launches Move to Amend The Constitution
By Michael Bonanno | Op Ed News
Interview with David Cobb Helps to Explain Move
In 2006, Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County in Northern California wrote the first draft of legislation designed to ban non-local corporations' involvement in local elections. The target of the involvement was financial contributions. In a historic vote, the residents of Humboldt County passed the measure.
DUHC then became an educational organization. It has created programs and facilitated workshops intended to help other localities free themselves of corporate interference of local elections.
Yesterday, The Supreme Court dealt a major blow to the efforts and accomplishments of DUHC.
Once the Supreme Court's decision to give unlimited campaign contribution rights to corporations became official, DUHC launched a move to amend the Constitution to negate the court's decision.
DUHC released the following statement after the decision was announced:
Yet again the U.S. Supreme Court has sided with the ruling elite against the interests of the American people. Today in Citizens United vs. FEC they overturned the flimsy federal campaign finance reform laws afforded by the McCain-Feingold law. Corporations can now spend unlimited money in buying our elections. The Court has legalized corporate bribery of our elected officials.
So if you were already disgusted by the fact that over $5 billion dollars was spent in the 2008 election, watch out. Because the floodgates are now wide open! Read more.
There's great consternation brewing over the recent Supreme Court decision that cements and extends the misbegotten logic of "corporate personhood," and rightly so. Surely one of the most farcical and tortuous doctrines ever established in our system of jurisprudence, this conflated concept has drawn the ire of (small-d) democrats at least as far back as Thomas Jefferson, who wrote in 1816: "I hope we shall ... crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government in a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country."
Ethics and politics aside, as a matter of law this extension of power and rights to corporations is woven into the very definitional fabric of our federal legal code: "In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, unless the context indicates otherwise ... the words 'person' and 'whoever' include corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as individuals...." Still, the notion of "corporate personhood" remains something of a misnomer. In our system, as now expanded by the Supreme Court, corporations actually enjoy more rights than individuals do in many ways. To wit: liability shields, rights of transfer, political access and influence, subsidies, laissez-faire regulation, freedom of movement, self-determination, self-governance, tax breaks, etc. In particular when it comes to political speech, corporations are now essentially unfettered in their freedom, something that us mere mortals have yet to fully secure. Consider the language of the Court's recent ruling: "If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech."
Does anyone else see the ray of hope in this line of reasoning? Apparently, the government can no longer arrest protestors during political demonstrations, if we are to take this literally as a matter of "strict construction." First Amendment advocates have long sought such a validation, yet somehow it took a corporation claiming their speech was impinged to finally motivate the Justices to so rule. Disconcertingly, the Court didn't actually have to address these larger questions, since the facts presented in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission left open myriad avenues of decision that would have been consistent with the longstanding doctrine of "constitutional avoidance." In light of this case, where the Court actively reached for the constitutional questions by calling upon the parties to re-argue and re-brief the issues along broader lines than originally brought forward on appeal, it appears that we in fact do have a Supreme Court headed by those dreaded "activist judges" after all. Read more.
24 States’ Laws Open to Attack After Campaign Finance Ruling
By Ian Urbina | NY Times
In Wisconsin, conservative and pro-business groups said Friday that they were considering a lawsuit to block a proposed law that would ban corporate spending during political campaigns.
In Kentucky and Colorado, lawmakers looked for provisions in their state constitutions that may need to be rewritten. And in Texas, lawyers for Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader, said the pending state campaign finance case against him should be thrown out.
A day after the United States Supreme Court ruled that the federal government may not ban political spending by corporations or unions in candidate elections, officials across the country were rushing to cope with the fallout, as laws in 24 states were directly or indirectly called into question by the ruling.
“One day the Constitution of Colorado is the highest law of the state,” said Robert F. Williams, a law professor at Rutgers University. “The next day it’s wastepaper.”
The states that explicitly prohibit independent expenditures by unions and corporations will be most affected by the ruling. The decision, however, has consequences for all states, since they are now effectively prohibited from adopting restrictions on corporate and union spending on political campaigns. Read more.
In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court rules corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money to elect and defeat candidates. One lawmaker describes it as the worst Supreme Court decision since the Dred Scott case justifying slavery. We speak with constitutional law professor, Jamin Raskin. [includes rush transcript]
While covering a protest at the Army Experience Center in Philadelphia, PA, Cheryl Biren, on assignment for OpEdNews.com, was arrested and charged with criminal conspiracy and failure to disperse while taking photographs of protesters being arrested.
On January 13, 2010, four months after the arrest, the Philadelphia District Attorney's office withdrew all charges. Biren's attorney, Paul Hetnzecker warns, however, of a "very dangerous development involving first amendment rights."
In response to the withdrawal of charges, Hetznecker explained, "Based on my investigation it was clear that she was not in a position that they claimed she was and therefore should not have been arrested. We now have clear evidence of the police overreaching in arresting Cheryl Biren."
Describing the evidence, Hetnzecker pointed out, "In her particular case she was simply there as a reporter as she claimed all along. She was taking photographs of the event in what is clearly displayed on the police video taken at the time. It bears that fact out very clearly that she is there taking photographs and, as any reporter would, gathering information about the event. So, I think once the DA's office reviewed the tapes they also came to the same conclusion and I give them credit for doing so and withdrawing the charges."
Hetznecker added, "Now as to what happens with the rest of my clients as we move forward, we are in the process of reviewing further discovery that has been received and I don't want to further comment about that until I've reviewed it and discussed it with my clients."
Asked to comment on the arrest and media coverage of it, Noam Chomsky, in an interview on my radio show, said, "...it shouldn't be allowed to go on and it is the job of the media and citizen organizations to try to curb such practices."
Inaction will create 'Congressman from Wal-Mart'
Responding to the Supreme Court's ruling Thursday to overturn corporate spending limits in federal elections, progressive firebrand Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) immediately highlighted a series of moves to "avoid the terrible consequences of the decision."
"If we do nothing then I think you can kiss your country goodbye," Grayson told Raw Story in an interview just hours after the decision was announced.
"You won't have any more senators from Kansas or Oregon, you'll have senators from Cheekies and Exxon. Maybe we'll have to wear corporate logos like Nascar drivers."
Grayson said the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling -- which removes decades of campaign spending limits on corporations -- "opens the floodgates for the purchases and sale of the law." Read more.
(Washington, DC) – Congressman Alan Grayson (FL-8) has introduced legislation to prevent a corporate takeover of government in America. His “Save Our Democracy” Reform Package (H.R. 4431-4435) aims to stave off the threat of "corpocracy" arising from the U.S. Supreme Court decision.
“The Supreme Court in essence has ruled that corporations can buy elections. If that happens, democracy in America is over. We cannot put the law up for sale, and award government to the highest bidder.” Congressman Grayson said.
Here are the bills that Congressman Grayson has introduced, and what they aim to accomplish:
1) The Business Should Mind Its Own Business Act (H.R. 4431): Implements a 500% excise tax on corporate contributions to political committees, and on corporate expenditures on political advocacy campaigns.
Statement from Doris “Granny D” Haddock In Response to the Supreme Court’s Decision To Kill Campaign Finance Reform
Statement from Doris “Granny D” Haddock in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to kill campaign finance reform
Ten years ago, I walked from California to Washington, D.C. to help gather support for campaign finance reform. I used the novelty of my age (I was 90), to garner attention to the fact that our democracy, for which so many people have given their lives, is being subverted to the needs of wealthy interests, and that we must do something about it. I talked to thousands of people and gave hundreds of speeches and interviews, and, in every section of the nation, I was deeply moved by how heartsick Americans are by the current state of our politics.
Well, we got some reform bills passed, but things seem worse now than ever. Our good government reform groups are trying to staunch the flow of special-interest money into our political campaigns, but they are mostly whistling in a wind that has become a gale force of corrupting cash. Conditions are so bad that people now assume that nothing useful can pass Congress due to the vote-buying power of powerful financial interests. The health care reform debacle is but the most recent example.
The Supreme Court, representing a radical fringe that does not share the despair of the grand majority of Americans, has today made things considerably worse by undoing the modest reforms I walked for and went to jail for, and that tens of thousands of other Americans fought very hard to see enacted. So now, thanks to this Court, corporations can fund their candidates without limits and they can run mudslinging campaigns against everyone else, right up to and including election day.
The Supreme Court now opens the floodgates to usher in a new tsunami of corporate money into politics. If we are to retain our democracy, we must go a new direction until a more reasonable Supreme Court is in place. I would propose a one-two punch of the following nature:
FBI 'fabricated terror emergencies to get phone records'
Justice department to accuse FBI of invoking crises to obtain details of more than 2,000 calls, Washington Post reports
By Chris McGreal | Guardian.co.UK
Caproni said that FBI's issuing of authorisations after the fact was a "good-hearted but not well thought-out" move to give the phone companies legal cover for handing over the records....The FBI subsequently issued a blanket authorisation covering all past searches, although its legality was questioned. The Washington Post said journalists on the newspaper and the New York Times were among those whose phone records were illegally searched. The FBI later apologised to editors of both papers.
The US justice department is preparing a report which concludes that the FBI repeatedly broke the law by invoking terrorism emergencies that did not exist to obtain more than 2,000 telephone call records over four years from 2002, including those of journalists on US newspapers, according to emails obtained by the Washington Post.
The bureau also issued authorisations for the seizure of records after the fact, in order to justify unwarranted seizures.
The Washington Post said the emails show how counter-terrorism officials inside FBI headquarters breached regulations designed to protect civil liberties.
The FBI's general counsel, Valerie Caproni, told the Washington Post that the agency violated privacy laws by inventing non-existent terrorist threats to justify collecting the phone records. "We should have stopped those requests from being made that way," she said.
Caproni said that FBI's issuing of authorisations after the fact was a "good-hearted but not well thought-out" move to give the phone companies legal cover for handing over the records. Read more.
To establish the right to sue, a private citizen must demonstrate a "direct, personal stake in the outcome" and cannot merely claim "a right to have the government follow the law," Walker said.
A federal judge has dismissed AT&T customers' lawsuit over wiretapping conducted under former President George W. Bush, a challenge the judge had allowed to proceed before Congress intervened.
Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker of San Francisco ruled in 2006 that the AT&T customers could sue the company for allegedly allowing federal agents to intercept their calls and e-mails and seize their records without a warrant.
Bush acknowledged in December 2005 that he had ordered interception of communications between Americans and alleged foreign terrorists four years earlier without seeking court approval, as required by federal law. Read more.