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John Conyers, Jerry Nadler, and Bobby Scott just introduced bills that will provide needed reforms to PATRIOT and FISA while reauthorizing most of the sunsetting authorities this year.
From the Committee press release, the PATRIOT bill does the following.
Title I: Patriot Act Related Amendments
• Clarifies roving wiretap laws in order to ensure that the government only conducts surveillance on a single, identifiable target.
Section 215 Orders
• Improves the standard for issuing a Section 215 order by requiring specific and articulable facts to show that the tangible things sought are relevant to an authorized investigation, other than a threat assessment.
• Provides recipients of Section 215 orders with the ability to immediately challenge both the underlying order and any gag order associated with it.
• Facilitates compliance with already existing minimization procedures to ensure proper safeguards pertaining to information collected via Section 215 orders.
• Prohibits a request for Section 215 records to a library or bookseller for documentary materials that contain personally identifiable information concerning a patron.
Criminal “Sneak and Peak” Searches Read more.
By David Swanson
Most city council members take oaths to defend the Constitution. The Constitution makes the rights and standards in its amendments and in international treaties the supreme law of the land. Our nation has a rich tradition of local governments lobbying state and national governments through the passage of resolutions. Under Clause 3, Rule XII, Section 819, of the Rules of the U.S. House of Representatives local governments may petition Congress. Under the First Amendment, we all can.
On the second day of his presidency, President Obama declared to the world that he would end torture by the United States of America. To prove his determination, he announced he would close the Guantanamo Bay detention center, our shameful symbol of torture.
Since that day, former Vice President Dick Cheney has waged a public campaign against closing Guantanamo and ending torture. Not surprisingly, he has employed the same fear-mongering tactics that led us into a disastrous war in Iraq. He and his supporters have used false and intimidating rhetoric to confuse both voters and Congress.
Congress must not give in to Dick Cheney's politics of fear. We call on Congress to stand with President Obama and our military leaders to reject torture and support the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.
The United States must once again be a champion of justice, human rights and the rule of law.
A federal judge who lashed out at Justice Department prosecutors over misconduct in last fall’s trial of Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska is just one of the experts who fear widespread threats to our country’s basic civil rights.
“In nearly 25 years on the bench,” U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan told his District of Columbia courtroom in April, “I’ve never seen anything approaching the mishandling and misconduct that I’ve seen in this case.” Under such pressure, the Justice Department launched a criminal investigation of the Stevens prosecutors and vacated the convictions. But those actions were too late, of course, to save the Senate seat the Alaska Republican narrowly lost in November after serving 40 years.
Cases like this are creating bipartisan alarm nationally among legal experts, including criticism from longtime chief federal judges who wrote Attorney Gen. Eric Holder last spring seeking better oversight of prosecutors (see here for one such letter, and here for context).
I’ve witnessed the change after covering the department fulltime for five years as a Hartford Courant newspaper reporter from 1976-1980 during the Justice Department’s better days. I’m now researching abuses in DoJ’s handling of official corruption cases nationally, particularly in light of University of Missouri research by Prof. Donald Shields indicating that the department targeted Democrats over Republicans by a 7:1 ratio from 2001 to August 2007 during most of the Bush administration.
By David Swanson
Pulling pranks on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is just too easy. The Yes Men held a press conference this week pretending to speak for the chamber and fooled the journalists in the room, because "We are no longer going to promote the destruction of the earth's climate" is such a compelling position that it's very tempting to imagine that any human being could adopt it.
But Tom Donohue and his chamber take the opposite position and have for years. William Kovacs, a senior vice president at the chamber, told the LA Times he'd like to stage a "Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century" to deny, not evolution, but human-made climate change.
By MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will hear a new case about the rights of Guantanamo detainees, this time involving prisoners who remain in custody even after the Pentagon determines they're not a threat to the United States.
The high court said it will take a challenge from Chinese Muslims at the U.S. naval base in Cuba who no longer are classified as enemy combatants. Last year, the court said in a 5-4 ruling that federal judges could ultimately order some detainees to be released, depending on security concerns and other circumstances.
But a federal appeals court overturned a judge's order to do just that in the case of the Chinese Muslims, or Uighurs, saying judges lacked authority to order detainees released into the United States.
The Obama administration urged the court to stay out of the case, noting that diplomatic efforts to find a place for the Uighurs are ongoing.
Pink wigged-protesters and hundreds of other demonstrators wielding posters calling for peace converged on Copley Square in an antiwar rally yesterday.
The regional gathering in Boston - one of more than 40 nationwide - brought protesters from throughout New England to shout, sing, and march against conflicts in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq.
Karyn Savage, a 26-year-old mother of two from central Maine, clutched a magenta poster covered in glitter glue and peace signs that read: “War is Expensive, Peace is Priceless.’’
Savage, drenched in hues of pink, from a bubble gum tutu to fuchsia ribbons in her hot pink hair, and her husband, Jacob, 23, dressed in a matching tutu trekked three and a half hours to march with CODEPINK, a women’s peace group. The group’s name is a play on the color-coded homeland security alerts.
“You’ve got innocent people being killed every day, and that’s not justice,’’ said Savage, one magenta and one rose glove wrapped around her sign. Read More.
AN APPEAL: TIME TO OPPOSE MILITARY RECRUITING
By Sherwood Ross
From every appearance, President Obama intends to step up the war in Afghanistan. Even though the American people voted for peace last November and would prefer to devote themselves to the ways of peace –working a full-time job if they can find one, educating their children, providing essential services in their communities, etc., Obama plans to remain in Afghanistan, squandering billions more on a war that the latest poll shows 57% of the American people oppose. Obama also has given no signal that he will withdraw the remaining U.S. troops from Iraq and is providing the Pakistanis with the money, means, and encouragement to expand President Bush’s criminal wars’ into yet a third nation.
We need to ask ourselves: who is better off for all these wars? Are Americans better off today than nine years ago? What of our 30,000 wounded? What of our 5,000 dead? (Contractors are human beings, too, so I count them.) What of the 1-million slaughtered Iraqis? What of the millions of Iraqi civilians wounded and/or driven from their homes? What of the ruined Iraq infrastructure and economy? What of millions of motorists and homeowners world-wide who have seen oil prices escalate? What of the homeless and malnourished Iraqi children? The only ones who appear to be better off from the Bush-Obama wars are the arms manufacturers and various public officials vegetating on the government payrolls in Washington. From steel mills to banks and from airlines to automobiles, the rest of American industry is suffering.
Long ago, Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (1828-1910), the author of “War and Peace,” wrote these harsh words about Russia: “The truth is that the state is a conspiracy designed not only to exploit, but above all to corrupt its citizens.” It takes little imagination to divine what the good Count would have said about America today and its serial wars of aggression centered upon the Middle East oil fields and the proposed pipeline access routes to and from them. Face it: USA today is corrupting its people, turning its children into killers, and sending them out to fight and die in wrong wars half way around the world.
Translated from original
Climate Organizations: “Trouble-maker legislation” scares demonstrators
New “trouble-maker legislation” is unnecessary and prevents people from using their democratic right to demonstrate, say climate organizations.
The government is playing double jeopardy when they on one hand donate 20 million Danish kroner to peaceful activists and on the other want to impose hard punishment on people who wish to speak up.
This is the opinion of the organization People’s Climate Action (PCA), founded in 2008 by the Danish Foreign Ministry in order to secure a peaceful and organized course with activists during the climate conference.
Today the Danish Minister of Justice, Brian Mikkelsen presents “trouble-maker legislation”, which will give the police more opportunities to make arrests and sentence demonstrators during the climate conference.
Dear Mr. President,
On October 5, 2009, I witnessed my mother, a 55 year old grandmother be assaulted by your Secret Service right in front of your house. It was so frightening for me, and what your protectors did in your name destroyed any faith that I had left in your willingness to listen to your citizens to end the violence being committed by our country.
My mother, Joy First, is the most peaceful, loving person that I have ever met. She has always had a completely selfless altruism that has led her to take care of others, even when it puts her own personal comfort and safety in jeopardy. As a mother and grandmother, she has always given up much for her children and grandchildren, in an effort to see us not suffer. In the past several years, my mother, Joy has extended this mothering and altruism to all of the children of the world. She has put her comfort and safety on the line countless times in an effort to stop the killing of the world’s children and grandchildren. On October 5th, my mother, Joy, went to your front door to plead with you to stop bombing and shooting of innocent children in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
My mother, Joy, was joined by a group of almost 2 dozen other peaceful civil resisters who were asking you to end the senseless killing in the Middle East. Instead of engaging in civil dialogue with these resisters, someone from the house where you live with your family sent out around two dozen armed secret service agents to assault these peaceful people. So, as I was watching what I believed to be a demonstration of our American democracy, I saw the scene descend into what frighteningly became much more like a scene from an Orwellian novel than from the America I had learned about in Social Studies. And then all of the sudden, people were being dragged, and then, there was my mother, being bounced around like a ping pong ball and being pushed violently by members of your Secret Service.
Peacemakers Are Confronted with Violence at the White House
By Joy First, Madison, WI | October 9, 2009
I have always written a narrative about my experiences in civil resistance, but I am finding myself wanting to avoid writing about this past action. Friday morning I found out that Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize and it sickens me. Not only does he continue the illegal and immoral wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but I personally felt the expression of violence from his administration as I and 23 others were forcefully removed from the White House sidewalk where we were exercising our First Amendment rights on Oct. 5.
In the spring of this year the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR) called together a coalition of peace groups to plan a large demonstration at the White House to mark eight years of war and occupation in Afghanistan. The coalition eventually included the War Resisters League, Witness Against Torture, Atlantic Life Community, Activist Response Team, World Can’t Wait, Vets For Peace, Haymarket, Code Pink, Peace Action, After Downing Street, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Voters for Peace, Black is Back, and Progressive Democrats of America.
All of the groups committed to following the practices of nonviolence as we organized for an action at the White House on the eve of 8 years of war and occupation in Afghanistan. Our demands would be an end to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, an end to the drone bombing of Pakistan, closing of Bagram and Guantanamo, and paying reparations to the people of Afghanistan and Iraq who have suffered so much as a result of our government’s imperialistic policies. We had a conference call almost every week for four months to plan this action initiated by NCNR. It wasn’t always an easy process with so many people working together, but it was important to bring many groups together in coalition to create a large action that could not be ignored by the White House.
Church Blogging # 23
CHURCH CROWD SILENT AFTER PROTESTERS ARE GRABBED, SHOVED
By Nick Mottern
On Sunday, October 4, Martha Conte, Gayle Dunkelberger, Nora Freeman, Debbie Kair and I attended St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Armonk, NY in our bannering campaign to encourage clergy and parishioners in Westchester County to work to end the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.
We experienced a disturbing incident in which the pastor, the Reverend John F. Quinn, had to intervene to prevent an usher from trying to wrestle me over backward after the man had grabbed Debbie’s shoulder and attempted unsuccessfully to rip one of our banners from her hands.
Since he came from behind us, it was not clear whether the usher, a man in his late 60s or early 70s, had read either of the banners we held or whether he was simply enraged by our intrusion into the service. He was accompanied by at least five or six other men, some pressing in on us with him while others tried to restrain him.
Father Quinn told us later that St. Patrick’s is a “peace church,” but after the service not one soul in the church spoke to us and most averted their eyes from us. Also disturbing was the behavior of parishioners who made it difficult for Debbie to enter the line going to the altar for Communion, which came toward the end of the service. “They glared at me and walked right in front of me,” Debbie said.
October Surprise: Peace Prize to a War Criminal
By Stephen Lendman
The Nobel Committee's tradition is long and inglorious, but for the well-informed no surprise. Consider its past honorees:
- Henry Kissinger;
- Shimon Peres;
- Yitzhak Rabin;
- Menachem Begin;
- FW de Klerk;
- Al Gore;
- The Dalai Lama, a covert CIA asset;
- Kofi Annan, a reliable imperial war supporter;
- UN Peacekeeping (Paramilitary) Forces that foster more conflicts than they resolve;
- Elie Wiesel, a hawkish Islamophobe;
- Norman Borlaug, whose "green revolution" wheat strains killed millions;
- Medecins Sans Frontieres, co-founded by rabid war hawk Bernard Kouchner, now France's Minister of Foreign and European Affairs;
- Woodrow Wilson who broke his pledge to keep "us out of war,"
- Jimmy Carter who backed an array of tyrants and drew the Soviets into its Afghan quagmire that took a million or more lives;
- George C. Marshall, instrumental in creating NATO and waging war against North Korea;
- Theodore Roosevelt who once said "I should welcome almost any war, for I think this country needs one;" and
- other undeserving winners...."War is peace," what Orwell understood and why the award legitimizes wars and the leaders who wage them.
On February 11, 2008, then U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) made a campaign stop at College Park, MD. This was the day before the Democratic presidential primary in Maryland. At this event, Sen. Obama promised a cheering audience at the Comcast Center: “I will bring this [Iraq] war to a close. In 2009, I will bring our troops home. It is time for the Iraqis to stand up and stabilize their country. We cannot have a permanent occupation in Iraq...We are going to close Guantanamo and restore Habeas Corpus...No more FEMA Justice...We are going to have...a Justice Department that believes in Justice. And, you will elect a president who has taught the Constitution, and believes in the Constitution and will obey the Constitution of the United States of America.”
Read the background on the Feb. 11, 2008 rally.
For how President Obama has waffled, dodged and/or broken many of his campaign promises, see:
The Bush administration is no more. But his legacy lives on in the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, massive joblessness, the trashed economy, the transfer of power to the Executive Branch. During Bush's tenure, the Justice Department also became politicized to an unprecedented degree.
One of the most visible among the hundreds of political prosecutions was former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. A Democrat and the only Alabamian to have served in all four of the top state elected positions, he was a choice target of Karl Rove. After several unsuccessful attempts, Gov. Siegelman was convicted of corruption and sentenced to prison. He is presently out as he awaits his appeal. Ninety-one former US Attorneys of both parties have asked President Obama, AG Holder and DOJ to reexamine Siegelman's case. Andrew Kreig, Roger Shuler, Scott Horton, and Glynn Wilson have done a stellar job covering the Siegelman case. [For more background information, a sampler of their articles can be found at the end of the second part of this interview.]
Tamarah Grimes was a paralegal working with the prosecution in the case against Don Siegelman. She contacted House Judiciary Committee Chairman Conyers and the DOJ about the prosecutorial misconduct of Alabama US Attorney Leura Canary and her team. For her pains, Grimes was chastised, intimidated, and ultimately fired, her reputation trashed. To add insult to injury, she was denied health insurance and they're trying to rescind her unemployment benefits.
This is particularly grievous for Grimes because she was the sole breadwinner in her household and her health insurance policy covered her disabled son. Grimes was terminated just eight days after sending a letter to AG Holder, laying out her concerns about the Siegelman case. Her firing will surely have a stifling effect on any other DOJ employees contemplating similar actions.
Unemployed and uninsured, she is on the brink of financial ruin. Tamarah may be bloodied but she is also unbowed. She seeks no one's pity. This is her story. Read more.
What did President Obama say new tonight? Absolutely nothing. What did the Human Rights Campaign get in exchange for once again giving our president cover for all of his broken promises to our community? Absolutely nothing.
I like HRC, I know a lot of people who work there, I’ve defended them when others in the community have been highly critical of them. But it is criminal that any gay rights organization would invite an embattled president to their dinner, giving him political cover for repeated broken promises and slaps in the face to our community (like the DOMA incest brief), and then get absolutely nothing in return. HRC’s actions only feed the suspicions of critics who say that the organization is more interested in fundraisers than in advancing our rights.
The President depends on his celebrity power (and its attendant fundraising ability) to get liberal validators like the HRC to shield him from liberal critique and protect his ability to say one thing and do another. It’s good for an organization that serves to fundraise and perpetuate itself, but bad for the cause they purport to further.
The one issue that has plagued the administration more than any other, for which it has no liberal shield, is that of torture and civil rights. And that’s because the ACLU refuses to be part of the veal pen. They were originally a part of Unity 09 but eventually withdrew. They never fit comfortably into the role of providing the White House with liberal cover for actions that were in opposition to what they stand for.
Part of the ACLU’s independence is due to their financial structure. They aren’t easily financially crippled by one or two phone calls from powerful people to big donors. Their integrity would be seriously compromised if they tried to throw a fundraising bash headlined by the very people they are at odds with — especially if the price is dissembling to give them cover. But that’s because those in the civil liberties community would give them unholy hell if they did so. Read more.
Former 6-term Member of the House of Representatives Cynthia McKinney wrote:
There were people there from all over Europe. A healthy contingent even took the bus or train from London. Many US ex pats came and heard Annie Machon tell of why she became a whistleblower at MI-5 (the British equivalent of our FBI); I spoke, and then after me, Giulietto Chiesa, former Member of Parliament, Italy, made a movie entitle "Zero," which was played. Then Dr. Nils (I can't remember his last name) [Note: last name is Harrit] who found the nanothermite material in the Ground Zero dust spoke about his research and that was totally fascinating. We are definitely hooked up with the right people in Europe and as a result, our coalition will be strong, diverse, and global.
Here are my remarks made tonight/this afternoon U.S. time:
Vers La Verité, Paris, October 10, 2009
President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize was not the only news yesterday. And in my opinion, it’s not even the biggest news. It’s not even the saddest news. But it does provide us with some critical information as we move forward. The three-part question for us, tonight however, is “What are we moving forward TO; is that the place we want to go; and if not, what do we do about it?
In other words, “What is our vision for the future and how do we define success?”
Like a vampire rising from it's grave each night to feed on the privacy rights of Americans, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is moving forward with programs that drain the life blood from our constitutional liberties.
From the wholesale use of informants and provocateurs to stifle political dissent, to Wi-Fi hacking and viral computer spyware to follow our every move, the FBI has turned massive data-mining of personal information into a growth industry. In the process they are building the surveillance state long been dreamed of by American securocrats.
A chilling new report by investigative journalist Ryan Singel provides startling details of how the FBI's National Security Branch Analysis Center (NSAC) is quietly morphing into the Total Information Awareness (TIA) system of convicted Iran-Contra felon, Admiral John M. Poindexter. According to documents obtained by Wired:
A fast-growing FBI data-mining system billed as a tool for hunting terrorists is being used in hacker and domestic criminal investigations, and now contains tens of thousands of records from private corporate databases, including car-rental companies, large hotel chains and at least one national department store. (Ryan Singel, "FBI's Data-Mining System Sifts Airline, Hotel, Car-Rental Records," Wired, September 23, 2009)
Among the latest revelations of out-of-control secret state spookery, Wired disclosed that personal details on customers have been provided to the Bureau by the Wyndham Worldwide hotel chain "which includes Ramada Inn, Days Inn, Super 8, Howard Johnson and Hawthorn Suites." Additional records were obtained from the Avis rental car company and Sears department stores.
Singel reports that the Bureau is planning a massive expansion of NSAC, one that would enlarge the scope, and mission, of the Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force (FTTTF) and the file-crunching, privacy-killing Investigative Data Warehouse (IDW).
"Among the items on its wish list," Singel writes, "is the database of the Airlines Reporting Corporation--a company that runs a backend system for travel agencies and airlines." If federal snoops should obtain ARC's data-sets, the FBI would have unlimited access to "billions of American's itineraries, as well as the information they give to travel agencies, such as date of birth, credit card numbers, names of friends and family, e-mail addresses, meal preferences and health information." Read more.
Free Speech Activists Battle Baywalk
The line has been drawn in St. Petersburg between free speech activists and corporate interests. At issue is a sidewalk in front of baywalk, a downtown entertainment complex. Baywalk’s owners, CW Capital, have lobbied the city of St. Petersburg to privatize the sidewalk for the expressed purpose of stopping protests. Protesters have traditionally used the sidewalk as a gathering place for demonstrations against international as well as domestic imperialism. It's been argued that protesters constitute a perceived security risk and are bad for business.
Baywalk’s owners have bribed the city to privatize the sidewalk in front of baywalk, saying it is a "deal-breaker," meaning that without it the owners will not go through with plans of spending up to $6 million revitalizing the property. On Oct. 1st, despite st. pete mayor Rick Baker’s backroom dealing, the city council voted down the proposal: 4-4. Following the victory for free speech, St Pete For Peace, one of the protest groups, announced that they would not hold protests at baywalk for at least a year as long as the city didn’t again move forward to stop protests.
But the city undermined the peace group’s good faith effort after a St. Petersburg Times editorial convinced one council member, Herb Polson email@example.com, who previously voted to protect free speech, to call for a revote.
Activists have used a variety of tactics to convey their opposition to the city’s plan including protests, letter writing, power point presentations, a free speech flash mob, and radical cheerleading.
The city is scheduled to take their final vote on the sidewalk privatization, around 3pm on Oct. 15th at St. Petersburg City Hall (175 Fifth St. N.) The vote will be made without an opportunity for public comment. Activists have responded by writing on one website, “there are ways to speak without words. And they will have a tougher time silencing our actions.”
by Linda Milazzo
Our great buddy Mike is angry. For the past twenty years, Michael Moore, our everyday hero, has worked hard for us. He's documented sadistic acts against us by industry and government. He's exposed case after case of devious schemes that robbed us of our homes and our jobs, sent our children to war, and sacrificed our health. He's given us irrefutable proof that our leaders lied us to war, our insurers denied us care, and our lenders deceived us into hopelessness and destitution.
Mike's been our teacher, our ally and our devoted friend. Few people in recent memory have worked harder to inform us - ALL OF US - of the inhumanity and greed that are decaying our nation, which we perpetuate through apathy and inertia.
Anti-War Protestors Prosecuted By Government | Press Release
Three nonviolent anti-war activists go on trial Tuesday, October 13 for an action in a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on May 21 of this year.
Ellen Barfield of Baltimore, Eve Tetaz of Washington, DC, and Pete Perry of Fairfax, Virginia will argue their case before a jury of their peers. The three are charged with Disruption of Congress. The trial will be presided over by Judge Lynn Leibovitz in courtroom 310 of the H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse.
“We were expressing our dissent to the costly and tragic war in Afghanistan,” Perry said. “This is a war based on revenge that has now clearly lost the support of a majority of Americans.”
Barfield is a military veteran, Tetaz is a retired DC public schoolteacher, and Perry was instrumental in organizing last week's protest against the Afghanistan War in Washington.
Contact: Ellen Barfield, 410-243-5876; Pete Perry, 202-631-0974.
On Tuesday, a group of Florida Republicans went to the shooting range -- and used pictures of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz as target practice. Among the attendees, her 2010 Republican opponent, Robert Lowry.
Yesterday, Wasserman Schultz released a statement reacting to those who pretended to shoot her:
There is nothing light or funny about pretending to shoot someone. At a time in our country when people are bringing guns to Town Hall Meetings and a preacher is calling for the death of our President, I find this type of action serious and disturbing. Tonight I am going to have to talk to my young children about why someone is pretending to shoot their mother. Trivializing violent behavior is the kind of extreme view that has no place in American politics.
Indeed. It's simply unbelievable.
It's Not the Prosecutors' Committee, it's the Judiciary Committee
by Senator Russ Feingold | Daily Kos
...I want to say how disappointed I was in the debate in the committee. Today particularly, I started to feel as if too many members of the committee from both parties are willing to accept uncritically whatever the executive branch says about even the most reasonable proposed changes in the law. Of course we should consider the perspective of the FBI and the Justice Department. Keeping Americans safe is everyone’s priority. But we also need to consider a full range of perspectives and come to our own conclusions about how best to protect the American people and preserve their freedoms. Protecting the rights of innocent people should be a part of that equation.
Bad news today from the Judiciary Committee. At the beginning of the year, I had high hopes for the Patriot Act reauthorization process. We had just elected a President with a strong civil liberties record in the Senate. His Attorney General had supported some reforms during consideration of the last reauthorization bill in 2005. And Democrats controlled the Senate by such a large margin that our advantage on the Judiciary Committee ended up at 12-7 after Sen. Specter switched parties. Even as recently as 10 days ago, I hoped to be able to support a reauthorization bill introduced by Sen. Leahy that, while narrower than the JUSTICE Act that Senator Durbin and I have championed, did contain several important and necessary protections for the privacy of innocent Americans.
Events over the past two weeks dashed those hopes. Over the course of two business meetings, Sen. Leahy’s bill was diluted to the point that I had to vote against it. It falls well short of what the Congress must do to correct the problems with the Patriot Act. Read more.
By Dave Lindorff
It’s not as much of a travesty as when Henry Kissinger, a war criminal of the first order who was an architect of the latter stages of the Indochina War, and was personally responsible for the slaughter of well over a million innocent people, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973, while that war was still raging, but the awarding of the latest Nobel Peace Prize to President Barack Obama is travesty enough.
We’re talking about a man whose practically first act upon taking office early this year was to escalate the ugly and pointless war in Afghanistan with the addition of some 20,000 troops, and who, even as the Nobel committee was discussing his award, was meeting with his military and political advisors to consider expanding that war even further, both in Afghanistan and across the border into Pakistan.
More women than men dismissed from military for being gay
By Adam Levine | CNN
Women were dismissed from the military for being gay at a greater rate than men last year, according to new statistics obtained by a California research group.
All the services kicked out a disproportionate number of women under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, according to Department of Defense data obtained by the Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The center studies gender and sexuality in the military.
The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, implemented in 1994, bans troops who are openly gay from serving in the military. Read more.
Frank Schaeffer, author of Crazy About God, wrote:
I quit my leadership role in the far right religious movement when it began advocating violence against those who had a different political or moral view. Now I am speaking out, and have joined with Velvet Revolution to organize a movement to stop far right violence. We’re doing this because more and more of us see that if unchecked, the inflammatory garbage spewing from the Right’s hate machines will result in tragedy — in other words violence.
I started pondering the question of what we could do right after the assassination of Dr. Tiller by a religious extremist. I felt that it wasn’t enough to call for boycotts of right wing commentators who spew their hate, because that did not really address the core problems. In fact as a former right wing religious “pro-life” leader I felt compelled to publicly apologize for the “America-is-like-Nazi-Germany” rhetoric that my late Evangelical leader father and I helped create in the 1970s and 80s that inexorably led to justifying violence in the Tiller case.
Now I want to endorse a campaign to address these issues. It was launched last week at StopDomesticTerror.com by VR. On Tuesday, I posted this article in Huffington Post asking everyone to join this important campaign.
Since 2003, the ACLU has been seeking torture documents through a FOIA lawsuit. In 2005, the Southern District Court of New York ordered the government to release a set of photos depicting detainee abuse, a decision that was affirmed by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in September of 2008. After the Obama administration took office, they agreed to release the photos -- before reversing course in May, citing the potential effect on American soldiers abroad because of the photos' potential to inflame anti-American sentiment. The Supreme Court is currently deciding whether it will hear the administration's appeal.
The administration, perhaps sensing that they're not really on solid legal ground when it comes to arguing that the government should be able to hide evidence of its own wrongdoing under the rubric of national security, is getting a little cover from Congress. Yesterday, the conference summary of the current homeland security appropriations bill indicates that an amendment from Sen. Joe Lieberman that would exempt the photos from the FOIA Act has been adopted, which means that the government could legally withhold the pictures if the bill is passed. The same Sen. Lieberman, deeply concerned about the constitutionality of executive branch "czars," has inserted language into a bill allowing the government to conceal evidence of its own abuses. Read more.
Senator Russ Feingold held his promised hearing on the constitutionality of so-called czars in the Obama administration on Tuesday afternoon, winnowing away at a list of criticized appointees in his effort to examine whether the Senate’s advise-and-consent role was being circumvented by the executive branch.
Next up is a hearing a week from Wednesday, when the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee takes up the issue, too, zeroing in a little differently on the number of so-called czars and a slightly expanded number of appointments during President Obama’s tenure.
When Senator Feingold, who is chairman of the Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, opened his hearing, he called it “unfortunate” that the White House had refused to send a representative to talk about the issue before the panel. “It’s also a bit ironic,” Senator Feingold noted, “since one of the concerns that has been raised about these officials is that they will thwart congressional oversight of the Executive Branch.” Read more.
CCR Argues in Court Government Cannot Keep Secret Whether It Spied on Guantánamo Attorneys | Press Release
October 7, 2009, New York, NY – Oral arguments in the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) warrantless surveillance case Wilner v. National Security Agency (NSA, will take place Friday, October 9, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. in the Ceremonial Courtroom of the U.S. Courthouse at 500 Pearl Street in New York. CCR and co-counsel will be arguing that the executive agency must disclose whether or not it has records related to wiretapping of attorney conversations without a warrant. It is an appeal of the government’s Glomar assertions from litigation seeking information about NSA Program surveillance of attorneys representing detainees at Guantánamo.
“Our work with our clients may have been deeply compromised by illegal surveillance carried out by the last administration,” said Shayana Kadidal, Senior Managing Attorney of the CCR Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative. “The new administration has no legal basis for refusing to come clean about any violations of attorney-client privilege by the NSA.”