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Civil Rights / Liberties
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).
What is a Voting Bloc?
A voting bloc is a group of people who vote together in support of a specific issue or common concern.
Gain national single payer health care for all citizens. Demand that your elected officials support H.R. 676 & S.703 the national single payer health care reform bills. Read more.
Pelosi Is an Expert at 'Drowning Out Opposing Views'
by Jodie Evans | Common Dreams
Disruption of the health care town hall meetings has triggered some rich debate about free speech in the U.S. In these discussions, CODEPINK has been referenced several times as the group that has most often tested the boundaries of free speech. Over the years, we've been chided and insulted by the media, Members of Congress, former Press Secretaries, and even President Bush himself. However, when Nancy Pelosi weighed in recently on the town hall "mobs," saying that "drowning out opposing views is un-American," I was compelled to respond.
While the frequent mentions of CODEPINK in these discussions do not surprise me, it saddens me that there are so few groups from the past decade to reference when talking about pushing the edge of healthy debate. Congress has been failing the people in so many ways for so long that there should have been be a non-stop primal scream from the people to wake the our representatives up from their corporate-funded stupor.
But who would have heard them? For far too long, the American people have been cut off from and out of the political process without any real avenues of letting their voices be heard. So when Speaker Pelosi -- no stranger to drowning out opposing views -- talks about "drowning out opposing views is un-American," the statement is steeped in irony.
ACTIVISTS ARRESTED AT WISCONSIN’S FORT MCCOY CLAIM FALSE IMPRISONMENT AND POSSE COMITATUS VIOLATIONS BY ARMY POLICE - “A VIRTUAL KIDNAPPING,” SAYS ATTORNEY...
For Immediate Release | August 18, 2009
Four peace activists who were arrested and jailed by Department of the Army Police at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin at an antiwar protest on August 9, are consulting with attorneys working for the Mass Defense Committee of the National Lawyers Guild to explore possible legal responses to what they charge is their false imprisonment and various violations of posse comitatus laws that restrict the military from acting as civilian police.
The nonviolent protest occurred on the anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki as 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 ended their journey at the gates of Fort McCoy. Fort McCoy is a military training center from which National Guard units from around the United States are deployed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Walk for Peace was sponsored by several regional and national organizations, including Nukewatch, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Madison Pledge of Resistance, and the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice.
Nine activists who carried their protest onto the base were issued citations for a federal petty offense requiring them to appear in court at a later date. Usually one charged with a minor offense and issued a citation is immediately released pending a later court appearance but in this case, military authorities released five of the nine but continued to detain Bonnie Urfer of Luck, Wisconsin, Alice Gerard of Grand Island, New York, Brian Terrell of Maloy, Iowa and Joy First of Madison, Wisconsin, explaining to them that they were going to be jailed because they had each been apprehended at previous protests at the Fort.
"Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union," by David Swanson is due in stores September 1st, but the publisher has it now and you can get it straight from Seven Stories Press.
By Dave Lindorff
Let me state from the get-go that I'm no opponent of gun ownership (got my first rifle at the age of 12 and am still a crack shot). But something weird is going on when you have guys wandering around a political rally or protest site with pistols strapped to their thighs, or semi-automatic assault rifles strapped brazenly to their backs, as has been happening outside of venues where President Obama is speaking.
Before we get to the legal issues here, I just want to paint you a mental picture:
By Dave Lindorff
Bill Clinton was the worst thing to happen to the Democratic Party and to progressives since that racist warmonger Woodrow Wilson won the presidency and dragged the US into the utterly pointless and incredibly bloody First World War.
Clinton, by posing as a progressive, confused and undermined, and ultimately betrayed the liberal/progressive wing of the party, shattering what was left of the New Deal coalition and leaving the American left adrift and riven by the conflict between those who thought the Democratic Party was the only viable vehicle for progressive reform and those who thought it was hopelessly in the grip of corporate interests.
Barack Obama offers the hope of bringing that era of debilitating confusion to an end.
Fear for Obama's Safety Grows as Hate Groups Thrive on Racial Backlash
Violent Signs, Gun, Standoff Latest in Emerging Anger Towards the President
By Brian Ross, Anna Schecter and Megan Chuchmach | ABCNews
Experts who track hate groups across the U.S. are growing increasingly concerned over violent rhetoric targeted at President Obama, especially as the debate over health care intensifies and a pattern of threats emerges.
The Secret Service is investigating a Maryland man who held a sign reading "Death to Obama" and "Death to Michelle and her two stupid kids" outside a town hall meeting this week. And in New Hampshire, another man stood across the street from a Presidential town hall with his gun on full display. Read more.
Whitehall Officers Subdue Elderly Woman With Knife
By Donna Willis | Columbus NBC4
An elderly woman with a weapon was taken to the ground by a Whitehall officer, and witnesses questioned the force used.
Virginia Dotson was wandering the Walmart parking lot at 3657 E. Main St. Saturday evening with a steak knife. She was telling strangers she would cut them and already had cut herself.
Whitehall officers were called to the scene, but some witnesses said officers used too much force in subduing the woman.
Dotson’s daughter said Dotson found a steak knife in the vehicle, cut herself out of her seat belt and took the knife with her while searching for her daughter.
“There was some kids out there talking to this old lady, and they said something about the old lady hitting them or something,” Stan Brown said.
Brown shot the incident on his cell phone.
Another witness called 911.
Whitehall officer Tammy Scott was the first out of the cruiser.
“She didn’t even ask her to drop the knife. The woman told her when the cop came charging at her. She said, ‘I’m not going to cut you. I’m not going to cut you. She was just calling her daughter’s name out,’ ” witness Tomya Beatty said.
The video told a different story, though: “Ma’am: Can you put the knife down? Put the knife down for me,” Scott said. Read more.