You are hereCivil Rights / Liberties
Civil Rights / Liberties
On Aug. 27, holdover officials from the Bush Justice Department filed 226 pages arguing that former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and his co-defendant have presented no evidence since their 2006 bribery convictions that justifies a hearing or new trial.
As too often in the past, DoJ officials look like they're exaggerating to block justice and to protect themselves. By seeking to imprison Siegelman for 20 additional years, DoJ clearly seeks to end public debate about Alabama’s most prominent Democrat. He held that distinction for years, at least until he narrowly lost re-election in 2002 following still-mysterious Election night switches of 6,000 votes out of his column in a rural county after polls closed.
The all-out federal criminal prosecution launched against Siegelman in 2004 remains the centerpiece of unresolved evidence that Karl Rove used DoJ to target Democratic officials nationwide. In-depth public scrutiny of the DoJ's high-ranking prosecution teams risks revelations about similar problems in hundreds of other disputed DoJ investigations that altered the nation’s political map during the Bush years.
In the long run, however, DoJ risks even more – including public confidence that it's protecting our rights to fair elections and trials – if it shirks its responsibility to endorse a full hearing to clear the air.
Obama appointee previews the imminent preventive detention debate
By Glenn Greenwald | Salon
By all accounts, the White House is going to unveil its proposal for indefinite detention within the next four to eight weeks, and it has begun dispatching proponents of that scheme to lay the rhetorical groundwork. In The Washington Post today, one of the proposal's architects -- Law Professor Robert Chesney, a member of Obama's Detention Policy Task Force -- showcased the trite and manipulative tactics that will be used by advocates of indefinite detention to win support for their radical program [anyone doubting that detention without trials is radical should recall that Obama's own White House counsel Greg Craig told Jane Mayer back in February that it's "hard to imagine Barack Obama as the first President of the United States to introduce a preventive-detention law"; New York Times reporter William Glaberson wrote that "Obama's detention policy "would be a departure from the way this country sees itself"; Sen. Russ Feingold warned that it "violates basic American values," "is likely unconstitutional," and "is a hallmark of abusive systems that we have historically criticized around the world"; The New York Times' Bob Herbert said that "Americans should recoil as one against the idea of preventive detention"; and the Obama policy's most vigorous Congressional proponents are Tom Coburn and Lindsey Graham]. Salon.
DOJ Paralegal Whistleblower Dissed & Dismissed - Exclusive Interview!
Tamarah Grimes, Justice Department Paralegal: Why This Whistleblower Was Dissed & Dismissed
By Andrew Kreig | KNOW | Estrin Report
As federal prosecutors prepared in 2006 for the corruption trial of Alabama’s former Gov. Don Siegelman, Justice Department paralegal Tamarah Grimes thought she was progressing well in her career. She was past beginner stage after three years at the Middle District U.S. Attorney’s office helping prepare federal cases in the state capital of Montgomery. Indeed, she was the government’s top in-house paralegal in one of the country’s most important federal prosecutions, which targeted an iconic former governor along with one of their state’s richest businessmen.
But just a year later, the prosecution’s all-out effort to convict Siegelman and HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy brought Grimes to a career crisis.
In July 2007, Grimes stepped forward to allege that her colleagues had violated basic legal protections to ensure a fair trial. She claimed, for example, that prosecutors had communicated with jurors. Also, she said pro-conviction jurors had privately strategized by email outside the jury room to obtain guilty verdicts -- all without required notification to the defense. Moreover, she complained of sexually offensive comments by colleagues, particularly in an off-site prosecutors’ office that was entirely devoted to what they called “The Big Case.”
Even though she used federally authorized procedures for such complaints, stepping forward turned her career dream into a nightmare. What follows is her story, including a year of federal threats to prosecute her on what she calls false claims that she taped a colleague.
"I have always considered myself to be a moderate Republican,” she said. “I believe in the U.S. Constitution, and that what happened in Montgomery with the Siegelman/Scrushy prosecution is a travesty of justice." Read more.
- The writ alleges that the CIA has blocked defense counsel's attempts to explore Binalshibh's treatment when he was in the agency's custody and the effects of that treatment on his mental health.
Two military psychiatrists found that Binalshibh has a "delusional disorder," and he has been given psychotropic medicines at the military prison, according to court papers. The writ also alleges that the government has arbitrarily denied Binalshibh's attorneys expert assistance and access to medical records. The lawyers also quote one of the military judges in the case, who said in a ruling that the military commission is part of a system "in which uncertainty is the norm and where the rules appear random and indiscriminate."
Military attorneys for Ramzi Binalshibh, an alleged conspirator in the Sept. 11 attacks, have filed an emergency writ with a federal court in an attempt to stop hearings in their client's case at a military commission at Guantanamo Bay.
In a sweeping brief filed late Wednesday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the Navy lawyers asked that the commission be found unconstitutional, arguing that "nothing about this case bears any resemblance to the orderly and regular criminal process that occurs in federal and state courts."
Attorneys for Binalshibh acknowledged that the motion was unusual and the prospects for success uncertain, but they said they felt compelled to act to draw attention to the fact that hearings continue at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, despite President Obama's order that proceedings at the military base be temporarily halted. Obama has vowed to close the military base by January. Read more.
Debbie Sumner prefaces a note from Granny D:
You may know Granny D (Dennis Kucinich does), Any way you can
help her get the word out about public funding legislation? This was
recently sent out through her group PACE (Public Action for Clean
I'm now reading your book Daybreak, and I agree with John Nichols
that you are our modern day Thomas Paine. Thank you for making sure
we're aware of what's been happening and that we need to keep pushing
Congress to fulfill its responsibilities. Granny is still pushing at
P. O. Box 492
Dublin, NH 03444
September 4, 2009
In September the Supreme Court of the U.S.A. will try again to decide
if corporations are persons and, if so, would have all the rights of a
person; and could send as much cash as they consider effective to
candidates running for office. I HOPE THEY DECIDE AGAINST CHANGING
OUR LAWS FORBIDDING CORPORATIONS FROM USING THEIR HUGE TREASURIES TO
INFLUENCE THE OUTCOME OF ELECTIONS.
The coalition's report also covers the final year of the Bush administration, noting some modest signs of improvement on the issue of government secrecy. The number of pages of newly classified material declined from 37.2 million in 2007 to 31.4 million last year.
Three privacy groups scored President Obama on privacy issues. They are:
- Privacy groups: Obama has more work to do - Obama administration's policies on surveillance and medical privacy get low grades by Grant Gross.
U.S. President Barack Obama's administration received mixed grades from privacy groups after more than seven months in power, with the groups saying Obama has done little to change a surveillance-state environment created under former President George Bush.
- Obama Gets Failing Grades From Privacy Advocates by Jenna Staul
- Report: Obama administration improves openness by the Associated Press
President Barack Obama's policies on secrecy get higher grades for openness than those of President George W. Bush, yet there's still room for improvement, says a coalition of public-interest groups....The country elected a president who promised the most open, transparent and accountable executive branch in history but "the record to date is mixed," says the report by OpenTheGovernment.org, a group of 75 public-interest groups.
A New Movement: Health Care as a Civil Right: A Message From Rep. Dennis Kucinich
There is only one true health care public option: Single payer. It covers everyone, all basic health care needs, with doctor of choice. No more premiums, co-pays or deductibles. All health care assets in America would become not-for-profit. The bill already exists. It is HR 676. Congressman John Conyers and I wrote the bill. Our bill has the support of 85 co-sponsors in the House. And it is backed by a growing national movement of labor, doctors, and nurses. The movement needs you. Please join me for tomorrow’s national conference call at 10:00pm EDT. Please call toll-free 1-800-230-1096. Please RSVP here so sufficient phone lines can be reserved.
By Linda Milazzo
The extreme Right wing fringe, in desperate fear of their new Black president, are in a panic over the speech below. They believe this person who's the president who was born in Kenya and who may be the anti-Christ is bound and determined to indoctrinate their children and maybe make them Black by listening - or lefties - or parent haters - or Kenyans - or vegans - or environmentalists - or seekers of public assistance - or socialistcommunistfascist Hugo Chavez Fidel Castro Cubanezuelans - or readers - or lovers of science - or atheists - or lovers of education - or independent thinkers....
NO!! NOT INDEPENDENT THINKERS!!! NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Here's the speech:
Arlington, Virginia September 8, 2009
Martial Law Alert Over Swine Flu
By Stephen Lendman
- no Swine Flu threat exists;
- reported H1N1 infections and deaths are uncorroborated;
- WHO predicting a global pandemic affecting "as many as two billion people....over the next two years" is falsified hype unless a diabolical depopulation scheme (by vaccines or other means) plans to create one;
- vaccines don't protect against diseases they're designed to prevent and often cause them;
- all vaccines contain harmful toxins, including mercury, aluminum, formaldehyde, phenoxyethanol (antifreeze), and squalene adjuvants that weaken and can destroy the human immune system, making it vulnerable to many annoying to life-threatening illnesses; and
- evidence suggests that the H1N1 strain was bioengineered in a US laboratory, and the vaccines being produced for it are extremely hazardous and potentially lethal.
Administration Seeks to Keep Terror Watch-List Data Secret
By Ellen Nakashima | Washington Post
The Obama administration wants to maintain the secrecy of terrorist watch-list information it routinely shares with federal, state and local agencies, a move that rights groups say would make it difficult for people who have been improperly included on such lists to challenge the government.
Intelligence officials in the administration are pressing for legislation that would exempt "terrorist identity information" from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. Such information -- which includes names, aliases, fingerprints and other biometric identifiers -- is widely shared with law enforcement agencies and intelligence "fusion centers," which combine state and federal counterterrorism resources.
Still, some officials say public disclosure of watch-list data risks alerting terrorism suspects that they are being tracked and may help them evade surveillance.
Advocates for civil liberties and open government argue that the administration has not proved the secrecy is necessary and that the proposed changes could make the government less accountable for errors on watch lists. The proposed FOIA exemption has been included in pending House and Senate intelligence authorization bills at the administration's request.
"Instead of enhancing accountability, this would remove accountability one or two steps further away," said Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy. Read more.
Family members said this week that Atlantic high school officials forced five teenage girls to remove their clothes during an investigation into a theft.
The girls' families and their lawyers said the incident at Atlantic High School amounts to a strip-search, which is illegal in Iowa schools.
But school officials said the search was "allowable" under board rules. Read more.
Even the least of us deserves justice and accountability starts with you. So why don't you send out a reminder. Even Cheney deserves all the justice he can get and we should ensure he gets his day in court.
Use these images as a 4 PAK and send 4 different cards to the same person; or, choose your favorite and send the same postcard to 4 different persons.
It's easy. Each individual postcard is formatted to the dimensions of 4.25"x5.5". Quarter a sheet of paper and combine the cards as you like. Don't forget to print the other side. Remember the postage stamps. Then mail one to your best beloved, your friends and neighbors, some acquaintance--your politicians and their parties. Show someone you care about them and about justice.
By Linda Milazzo
I was out last evening. I tried to escape, just for a while, back to the days of (Taking) Woodstock when we who worked to end the Vietnam war did so as a united, free-spirited force. I readily admit that in today's times of racism disguised as patriotism, religious perversion, rampant ignorance, unhinged media menaces, and growing hostility amongst Americans, I yearn for that long ago era of 'peace and love.'
Enroute home after my wistful evening, I glanced at my phone and saw a Washington Post alert saying Obama's Green Jobs appointee, Van Jones, had resigned. I was shocked. I knew Jones was being assaulted by the right, but I didn't think he'd resign, and I didn't think the Obama administration would so readily sacrifice this brilliant advocate for the environment and the poor. After all, Jones is a person in the Obama administration who personifies the term "public servant." For progressives, Van Jones' appointment was, and is, Obama's tour de force gift to America of a high level appointee free of corporate entanglements who cannot and will not be bought. Jones is a man for the people in an administration where for the corporation is the norm.
By Linda Milazzo
It's a GREAT DAY in America when heralds of hate, specifically Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin, are booted from their Amazon best seller slots on DAY ONE of the publication of progressive leader David Swanson's breakthrough tome, DAYBREAK - now at Number One on Amazon's non-fiction best seller list. From this terrific response to Swanson's new book arises my sincere hope that DAYBREAK attracts a good many of Beck and Malkin's readers, so they, too, will have the opportunity to absorb the depth of information and dedication to solutions that David Swanson offers.
Federal prosecutors in Alabama apparently felt the need to create a fantasy world in their efforts to prevent a new trial in the Don Siegelman case.
In a document dated August 27, 2009, the government responds to a Motion for a New Trial Based on Newly Discovered Evidence that had been filed by Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy.
Prosecutors' response contains statements that are clearly false related to several critical issues. Specifically, prosecutors make numerous misstatements about Karl Rove's Congressional testimony. They also mischaracterize the contents of affidavits that were designed to counter the sworn statements of Alabama attorney and whistleblower Jill Simpson.
Regarding Rove, prosecutors state that the former Bush White House adviser denied contacting anyone at the Justice Department regarding the Siegelman case. In fact, Rove did no such thing. He either contradicted himself or used hedge language ("not that I recall," "not to my knowledge") in all of his answers to questions about his possible involvement in the Siegelman case.
Early in his testimony, Rove did deny contacting anyone at the Justice Department about the case. But when asked if he had contacted Noel Hillman, then head of the Public Integrity Section (which is part of the Justice Department), Rove hedged: "No, not that I recall."
And as we reported on August 13, Rove certainly did not deny that someone working for him might have contacted the Justice Department regarding the Siegelman case: Read more.
On August 28, 1963, during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and delivered one of the most famous speeches in world history, "I Have A Dream." What has troubled me over the years is how Dr. King, the visionary, prophet, and revolutionary's vision, action, and ultimate sacrifice have been hijacked, compromised, and relegated to being those of just a dreamer.
Dreamers are safe. People are comfortable with dreamers. Why? To be a dreamer you must be in a restful state, usually asleep. Dreamers are comfortable in that sleep state. Dreamers are docile, easy to manipulate, and non-threatening. To cast Dr. King in the light of a dreamer allows people to be convinced that action resulting from clear vision is not necessary. It allows the oppressed to be fooled into being patient and non-revolutionary; yours will come by-and-by.
We hear those powerful words "I Have a Dream ..." What many fail to realize is that Dr. King was no dreamer. He was a visionary, not some abstract thinker or philosopher. He was a prophet and a true revolutionary. Read more.
Our Georgia Supreme Court case is picking up some national attention and as a result, several people have asked for a brief history of the case and its status so here it is: In 2002, Georgia became the first (and now only) state to conduct statewide elections with unverifiable voting equipment that has no means to the audit vote recording of actual ballots cast on Election Day.
Unbeknownst to us, the law at the time required that any new voting machines "shall have an independent audit trail of each vote cast". None of the voting machines procured, piloted, allegedly certified, and acquired with $54 million of tax money had any form of audit trails that are independent of the vote recording process such as standard Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails that were available even at that time.
Prior to the acquisition, the need for audit capabilities, voter verification and recount retention had already been documented in Senate meetings, by the Fulton County Elections chief, in the state's 21st Century Voting Commission report, by the general public and in plaintiff Emails that were authenticated under oath by the former Assistant Elections Director. Therefore, the acquisition could not have been a mistake. Read more.
The Obama administration will largely preserve Bush-era procedures allowing the government to search -- without suspicion of wrongdoing -- the contents of a traveler's laptop computer, cellphone or other electronic device, although officials said new policies would expand oversight of such inspections.
The policy, disclosed Thursday in a pair of Department of Homeland Security directives, describes more fully than did the Bush administration the procedures by which travelers' laptops, iPods, cameras and other digital devices can be searched and seized when they cross a U.S. border. And it sets time limits for completing searches.
But representatives of civil liberties and travelers groups say they see little substantive difference between the Bush-era policy, which prompted controversy, and this one.
"It's a disappointing ratification of the suspicionless search policy put in place by the Bush administration," said Catherine Crump, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union. "It provides a lot of procedural safeguards, but it doesn't deal with the fundamental problem, which is that under the policy, government officials are free to search people's laptops and cellphones for any reason whatsoever." Read more.
Bill would give president emergency control of Internet
by Declan McCullagh | CNET
Internet companies and civil liberties groups were alarmed this spring when a U.S. Senate bill proposed handing the White House the power to disconnect private-sector computers from the Internet.
They're not much happier about a revised version that aides to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, have spent months drafting behind closed doors. CNET News has obtained a copy of the 55-page draft of S.773 (excerpt), which still appears to permit the president to seize temporary control of private-sector networks during a so-called cybersecurity emergency.
The new version would allow the president to "declare a cybersecurity emergency" relating to "non-governmental" computer networks and do what's necessary to respond to the threat. Other sections of the proposal include a federal certification program for "cybersecurity professionals," and a requirement that certain computer systems and networks in the private sector be managed by people who have been awarded that license. Read more.
Prosecutors argue against new trial for Siegelman, Scrushy
By Kim Chandler | Birmingham News
MONTGOMERY - Federal prosecutors on Thursday asked a judge to deny former Gov. Don Siegelman's and HealthSouth founder Richard Scrushy's request for a new trial, arguing that the men's 2006 trial was fair.
Defense lawyers have asked U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller to grant a new trial arguing, among other things, that newly discovered evidence showed the 2006 case was tainted by prosecutor misconduct. Siegelman's lawyers said that prosecutors scripted the testimony of their star witness, former Siegelman aide Nick Bailey, and failed to turn over Bailey's notes to defense lawyers.
Prosecutors denied both claims in their filing and said defense claims were based on hearsay.
"What is remarkable here is that defendants' new evidence claims do not rest on even a foundation as shaky as recantation testimony from a trial witness ... While the government did meet with Bailey prior to trial, preparing a witness to testify is not misconduct," prosecutors wrote.
Defense lawyers in their request for a new trial quoted Bailey's statements to others that the prosecutors were so frustrated that they made him write his testimony to get his story straight. Read more.
Blurring the Lines: How I was Jailed by the U.S. Army and Why it Matters
By Brian Terrell
On August 9, the anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki, I was one of more than 50 participants of the “Walk for Peace,” a three day, thirty mile march calling for the end of the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, bringing home all National Guard troops and the abolition of nuclear weapons, that ended at the gates of Fort McCoy. Fort McCoy is a military training center in Wisconsin from which National Guard units from around the United States are deployed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nine of us carried our protest onto the base after being warned by the US Army Police not to enter. If our plea for peace was deemed by the Army an “unlawful activity,” we explained, we respectfully could not comply with their order.
ATLANTA, Georgia, Aug 25 (IPS) - A case brought by election integrity advocates in Georgia claiming that unverifiable electronic voting, or E-voting, is unconstitutional could spell trouble for the controversial practice, as it heads to the Georgia Supreme Court for a ruling.
E-voting first started in Georgia. In 2002, the state became the first to use the Diebold AccuVote TS-R6 machines statewide after then-Secretary of State Cathy Cox entered into a 54-million-dollar agreement with Diebold.
About 50 million U.S. citizens used some kind of E-voting technology in the 2008 election cycle.
Today, Georgia remains the last state slated to use E-voting equipment statewide in the 2010 elections, unless the Georgia Supreme Court intervenes.
Other states like California, Maryland, Ohio initially followed in Georgia's footsteps. Since then, "California received a 2.5-million-dollar settlement from Diebold and de-certified them three times. Maryland filed an 8.5-million-dollar lawsuit. And Ohio filed for punitive damages after they found accumulation discrepancies and Diebold admitted to a critical programming error that can cause votes to be dropped," Garland Favorito, founder and lead plaintiff for VoterGA, an elections integrity group, told IPS.
"They were all using Diebold Accu-vote TS voting machines," he said. Read more.
Over the past century, our nation has triumphed over two sets of aspiring global tyrants: the axis powers in WWII, and the Soviet Union in the Cold War. Our victories over these foes were, in each case, world-historical in scale and importance. Yet within less than a century, we now flirt with losing the principles those successes established.
First, our recent record on torture, and more recent failure to prosecute all officials involved in enabling it, undermines the legacy of international human rights we established after the Second World War. Second, after vindicating freedom, liberty, and individual privacy in the Cold War, we now dutifully submit to a surveillance state more intrusive than any that has ever existed in human history.
By Jonathan S. Landay and Carol Rosenberg | McClatchy Newspapers
KABUL, Afghanistan — A young Afghan whose six-year detention at Guantanamo came to symbolize many of the problems of the Bush administration's war on terror detention policies arrived in his home country today, less than a month after a federal judge in Washington ordered his release.
On August 1st Democracy Unlimited filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court challenging "corporate personhood," the illegitimate and undemocratic legal doctrine which allows courts to overturn democratically elected laws that attempt to control corporate harm and abuse.
Democracy Unlimited joined the Program on Corporations Law & Democracy, the Women's International League for Peace & Freedom, Shays2: The Western Massachusetts Committee on Corporations & Democracy, and the Clements Foundation in making the legal argument. The brief was drafted and filed by attorney Jeff Clements, who represented all five organizations in the matter.
By Linda Milazzo
The photo below was taken on Friday, August 21, 2009 in El Segundo, California, outside the office of Congresswoman Jane Harman (36th CD). It shows three adorable children wearing stickers with the word fascism below a supposed image of the President of the United States, fashioned as Batman's malevolent Joker:
All photos by Mike Chickey
According to the BBC.
By Ann Wright, former U.S. Diplomat
Less than a month ago, in late July, 2009, Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire (http://www.peacepeople.com/) was travelling from Dublin, Ireland to Albuquerque, New Mexico to meet Peace Laureate Jody Williams to participate in peace events there. As she arrived at Dulles airport near Washington, DC, from Ireland on July 30, 2009, she passed through the regular immigration line, but then was detained in a special processing area over two hours causing her to miss her connecting flight to Albuquerque.
Justice Department Memo Reportedly Addresses Legal Rights Of Detainees And Admissibility Of Coerced Evidence
NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit today demanding disclosure of a legal memo from the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) that reportedly addresses the constitutional rights that Guantánamo detainees could legally claim during military commission proceedings in the U.S. The memo, drafted in May 2009, also reportedly addresses the admissibility of statements obtained through coercion in those proceedings. The ACLU filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).