Up Against Big Brother:
"For 18 years the Electronic Frontier Foundation
has fought for the rights of ordinary Americans in cyberspace. Now it’s stepped into the limelight with a legal challenge to warrantless surveillance
." [Via Boing Boing.]
Your Rights As A Photographer:
As most of us are no doubt aware, the right to take photographs in the United States is being challenged more than ever--people are being stopped, harassed, and even intimidated into handing over their personal property simply because they were taking photographs of subjects that made other people uncomfortable. Recent examples have included photographing industrial plants, bridges
, buildings, trains,
and bus stations. Print and carry this pamphlet in your wallet, pocket, or camera bag to give you quick access to your rights and obligations concerning confrontations over photography. [via] [more inside]
He once stopped a school bus on a busy interstate because he “needed a hug” from the kids inside. He’s been known to strap weapons to his chest and leg that he has no authority to carry or conceal, then wear them in public. He once bulldozed an elderly woman’s house, promising to build her a better one. He then forgot to build it. He recruited a team of kids to torch a row of dilapidated shotgun houses, without clearance or first turning off the utilities. Meet The Worst Mayor In America
Since the revelation that the telecommunications companies assisted in illegal spying on domestic phone calls
, a host of lawsuits have sprung up seeking damages for civil liberties violations. The Bush administration has responded by seeking the power to grant blanket immunity to criminal and civil action to the companies involved.
The claim that the suits could bankrupt the companies indicates that the spying was even more widespread than previously believed; If Verizon is worth $120,000,000,000
, then given the estimate of $1000 per violation, one hundred and twenty million calls were spied upon.
Bush Gets a Spying Blank Check.
The passage of the new FISA bill
was a hurried response to the revelation that the FISA court recently decided that at least part of the NSA wiretapping program is illegal
. It looks to be another step in our gradual transition into a National Surveillance State
Buy Sudafed, have a chat with Officer Friendly.
Detective Brian Lewis returns to his desk after lunch, scanning e-mails he missed.
One catches his eye: It says a suspected member of a methamphetamine ring bought a box of Sudafed at 1:34 p.m. at a CVS pharmacy.
Minutes later, Lewis is in his truck, circling the parking lot, searching for the woman.
is one of the new computerized tracking systems that will notify police of your decongestant purchases. Buy too much, or buy if you're already a suspect, and you'll be getting a visit from the law. Uncomfortable? Better hold your nose - the next version of the software will match you against everyone on your street to see if your aggregate buying warrants investigation.
We've discussed the
before, but this level of tracking opens up a new can of worms. It seems a small step before you get this tautology:
Why do you care that she bought Sudafed?
Because she's a suspected meth ring member.
Why do you think she's in a meth ring?
Because she bought Sudafed, silly!
The Green Scare: Rod Coronado
gave a talk in San Diego and the feds called his words ‘terrorism.’ How new laws are equating environmentalists with Al Qaeda
. [Via Gristmill.]
Drug-resistant TB strain raises ethical dilemma.
A man in Arizona who has a virtually untreatable strain of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR TB)
has been locked up indefinitely
because he failed to take precautions to avoid infecting others, even though he has not commited a crime. The new strain of TB is described as a nightmare
by health officials, and though mainly found in Africa and Asia, it is slowly beginning to spread in the U.S. [Via Technoccult.]
Window Into a Terror Suspect’s Isolation.
American citizen and enemy combatant Jose Padilla gets a root canal. [Via Hullabaloo.]
From the guy
who brought you the Whitewater scandal and the impeachment of President Clinton
for lying about oval antics in the Oral Office, a legal push to make the Supreme Court just say no to "Bong Hits 4 Jesus."
Ken Starr's petition to the Court [PDF]
makes clear that Starr believes this is no laughing matter, but a chance for the Court to make a landmark ruling that will give school adminstrators the power to limit student speech: "This case presents the Court with a much-needed opportunity to resolve a sharp conflict among federal courts
(and to eliminate confusion on the part of school boards,
administrators, teachers, and students) over whether the First
Amendment permits regulation of student speech when such
speech is advocating or making light of illegal substances."
portrays two conflicting trends in the United States and other countries of the so-called "free world." The first is a slow and powerful drift toward greater concentration of power and wealth
in a repressive Big Business-Big Government partnership... The other is a slower and less powerful tendency for individuals and groups
to seek greater participation in decisions affecting themselves and others... These contradictory trends are woven fine into the fabric of highly industrialized capitalism.
"And yet the people who invented this country saw an aggressive, independent press as a protective measure against the abuse of power in a democracy, and an essential ingredient for self-government."
Bill Keller, executive editor of the New York Times, publicly responds to criticisms
on the publication of information about clandestine surveillance of private bank records of Americans
, offering a rare glimpse into the Fourth Estate's complicated negotiations with the government over issues of public interest.
Surveillance Nation. Cameras, Cameras everywhere.
Welcome to the United Kingdom.
"The UK would appear to have around 4.2m cameras in operation," says Professor Clive Norris, of Sheffield University's centre for criminological research. "That's more than anywhere else in the world, with the possible exception of China. It's one for every 14 citizens."
While you're here, admire the ANPR
system, that will record every
journey by private car, anywhere in the country and keep the information for five years. It will be switched on this summer
. Not everyone
NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls.
"The NSA's domestic program began soon after the Sept. 11 attacks, according to the sources. Right around that time, they said, NSA representatives approached the nation's biggest telecommunications companies. The agency made an urgent pitch: National security is at risk, and we need your help to protect the country from attacks"
The terrorists in New Jersey have been captured. They're, uhm, like 15 years old
. A fine example of how anti-terror laws like the Patriot Act can be subject to mission creep
. (The "terrorists" at the Thomas Merton Center for Peace and Justice in Pittsburgh
seem to be still at large.)
"Resolved that the United States Senate does hereby censure George W. Bush, president of the United States, and does condemn his unlawful authorization of wiretaps of Americans." Invoking "high crimes and misdemeanors,"
Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold introduces a motion to censure
[PDF link] President Bush for his controversial, legally dubious
NSA wiretapping program. Feingold declares: "The President must be held accountable for authorizing a program that clearly violates the law."
Republican leader Frist retorts: "It's a crazy political move"
that sends a "terrible" signal to Iran
. Democratic bloggers say: Call your senator
. [More legal fallout from the NSA program recently discussed here
NSA,FISA, and Privacy It is of course the president who finally approves of actions that may or may not be deemed legal but before 9/11, this is what he had been advised to consider
"The largest U.S. spy agency warned the incoming Bush administration in its "Transition 2001" report that the Information Age required rethinking the policies and authorities that kept the National Security Agency in compliance with the Constitution's 4th Amendment prohibition on "unreasonable searches and seizures" without warrant and "probable cause," according to an updated briefing book of declassified NSA documents posted today on the World Wide Web.
If this is the sort of reading you enjoy, then by all means dig about here:
But then Windows
allowed NSA to have a sure access to your machine .
And by now we all know that Google
will fight the government on making its search data base available in order to protect your privacy.(Reality: to protect Google stuff). And if you worry about search engines tracking you and making data available, then here is a workaround
Bush authorized domestic spying before 9/11. What had long been understood to be protocol in the event that the NSA spied on average Americans was that the agency would black out the identities of those individuals or immediately destroy the information.
But according to people who worked at the NSA as encryption specialists during this time, that's not what happened. On orders from Defense Department officials and President Bush, the agency kept a running list of the names of Americans in its system and made it readily available to a number of senior officials in the Bush administration, these sources said, which in essence meant the NSA was conducting a covert domestic surveillance operation in violation of the law.
"I learned this week
that on December 6, Bush summoned Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger and executive editor Bill Keller to the Oval Office in a futile attempt to talk them out of running the story
..." President Bush really
did not want journalists to reveal his NSA spying program against Americans [discussed here
.] And in yesterday's rare press conference
, the President said: "An open debate about law would say to the enemy, 'Here's what we're going to do.' And this is an enemy which adjusts... Any public hearings on programs will say to the enemy, 'Here's what they do. Adjust.' This is a war." Neocon guru William Kristol argues
that talk of Bush being an "imperial" president" is "demagogic" and "irresponsible" since "Congress has the right and the ability to judge whether President Bush has in fact used his executive discretion soundly." What is the role of "open debate" in a war against terror that may last for decades?
Presenting: The ACLU Freedom Files.
Teaming up with producer Robert Greenwald
, among others), the American Civil Liberties Union
is presenting a 10-part series on current issues in civil liberties, viewable free online. Using comedy, drama, documentary, personal stories, music, interviews, and animation, each epsiode focuses on a timely topic, "stripping away the sound bites
" and illustrating what civil liberties mean for the average American. Check out the first three, available now: Harry Shearer, librarians, and harrassed Muslim americans take on illegal search and seizure in Beyond the Patriot Act
; high school students oppose mandatory drug testing and experience firsthand the power of The Supreme Court
, and Gulf War veterans, protestors, and attendees at a Bush speech llustrate the concept of freedom of speech in Dissent
. Production is ongoing: stay tuned for more
. And more
. And more
Innocent in London.
An account from someone who was stopped, searched and arrested by the Police in a London Tube station. [via del.icio.us/philgyford]
Pump up the volume: Utah, 8/20/2005. A small fully permitted outdoor Drum and Bass gathering called "Versus 2" was the scene of a surreal amount of excessive force and tactics of cultural intimidation. Approximately 60 armored, helmeted and camouflaged Utah County Sheriffs officers armed with Police dogs, Tasers, MP5 submachine guns, rifles, batons and tear gas stormed the DJ booth and the dance floor. Still and video camera operators were singled out for abuse, police violence and confiscation of image recording devices. At least one video clip has made it to the net, helping spread the news globally within the Electronic Dance Music community within 24 hours. (Video Links: please use the torrents here or randomly choose one server here (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ) to help spread out the bandwidth costs.)
Flashback to 6/31/2005 in the Czech Republic. Flashback to 70 years ago.
More coverage: Daily Kos - Utah Indymedia - Drug Policy Alliance - Democracy Now (Audio) - more.
Microsoft collaborates with the Department of Homeland Security, Interpol, and the Canadian Mounties to produce the ultimate people-tracking database, mining email aliases, "chat room" logs, and arrest records
. This open-source software developed by MS Canada
will be given away free to police departments, says the company
. "The initiative was the result of a January 2003 e-mail sent to Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates from a member of the Toronto Police Service sex-crimes unit, asking for help in battling child pornography," reports the Seattle Times
. "The billionaire, known for his philanthropy in the area of AIDS research and education, called on Microsoft Canada to develop software that would aid police officials." Buried in the enthusiastic accounts
of how the Child Exploitation Tracking System (CETS) will nail "child sex fiends
" is any consideration of how such a system could -- and will undoubtedly someday -- be used against such lesser offenses as drug use, sharing illegal music files, or discussion of political beliefs that could be construed as supporting "terrorism."
Carnivore, the gold standard for conspiracy theory, has apparently been mothballed.
An interesting element of this is that Carnivore has been removed from service not because it is invasive of civil liberties, but rather because it has failed to perform against commercially-available monitoring technologies. Of course, since we do not know what those technologies *are*, it may be that they have built into them considerations of individual rights to privacy that Carnivore could not be altered to respect. However, given the drift of the US on matters of data privacy, this seems unlikely...
So, what are the programmes that do it better than Carnivore? What do they have to offer that Carniviore doesn't, or is it just the ISPs are now offering information straight to the government? And does this mean that it is no longer fashionable to append long strings of exciting-sounding nouns to emails?
(Apologies if this is old news to the more plugged-in - this report has only just been released under FOI)
Back in Decemeber of 2002 Christa Worthington was murdered
in the small Cape Cod tourist (and home of the 'livliest' nude beach on the Cape)
of Truro, MA
. Despite an active investigation and a $25,000 reward
there has little progress in the search for the killer. This has led to a police request for voluntary DNA samples
from 790 men. Civil libertarians
(ACLU press release in .doc format) are concerned that, though voluntary, police have stated that, "that those who refuse could face some scrutiny
." The Dept. of Justice, on the other hand, feels that DNA is a means to prevent
Though more common in the UK
, mass DNA testing has been used several times in the United States, most notably in Lousiana where more than 1,000 men
were tested in the search for a serial killer.
"is a protest blog collective focusing on civil liberties in the UK and the rest of [the] world. It was set up to point a finger at the erosion of personal freedom in the UK. Government's active measures introduce new means of control such as identity cards and surveillance cameras, the passive measures such as weakening of double jeopardy and presumption of innocence." Nice quote from this entry
My audience were all gluttons for freedom, if by that you meant the freedom to hunt, or the freedom to eat roast beef without the fat trimmed off. But they were perfectly happy to see their own liberties curtailed, if that gave the authorities a chance to crack down on scroungers and bogus asylum-seekers.
Survey finds support for restricting Muslim-Americans' freedoms
Nearly one in two Americans believe the U.S. government should restrict civil liberties for Muslim-Americans, according to a nationwide Cornell University poll on terrorism fears.
The survey also found respondents who identified themselves as highly religious supported restrictions on Muslim-Americans more strongly than those less religious.
Curtailing civil liberties for Muslim-Americans also was supported more by Republicans than Democrats, the survey found. The amount of attention paid to TV news also had a bearing on how strongly a respondent favored restrictions
Oatmeal is funnier than cabbage!!!
VOTE for the only candidate with a viable plan for the promotion of BREAKFAST CIVIL LIBERTIES!!! [via Boing Boing
We All Lose if Cops Have All the Power
(reg. req.) according to Larry Hiibel
(previously discussed here
) after the Supreme Court decided against him
. Some legal experts are not concerned
by this decision, others think that the implications
for civil liberties are dangerous
. Perhaps more important is whether this is part of a pattern of weakening
the Fourth Amendment
The Jefferson Muzzles
are awarded as a means to draw national attention to abridgments of free speech and press and, at the same time, foster an appreciation for those tenets of the First Amendment.
Preserving Life and Liberty
- The Department of Justice’s first priority is to prevent future terrorist attacks. Since its passage following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Patriot Act has played a key part - and often the leading role - in a number of successful operations to protect innocent Americans from the deadly plans of terrorists dedicated to destroying America and our way of life.
Is this a legitimate way for the government to keep citizens informed, or merely a propaganda tool?
If you get your protest, then you ‘ve got to have your subpoena!
"I've heard of such a thing, but not since the 1950's, the McCarthy era," said David D. Cole, a Georgetown law professor. "It sends a very troubling message about government officials' attitudes toward basic liberties."
It's an interesting week in British politics
(and not just because of Hutton
). On Tuesday evening, British MP (and noted blogger
) Tom Watson
raised the subject of RFID tags
in a House of Commons debate (text here
) - as a result of being alerted to the threat to civil liberties
by fellow bloggers
. Indeed, he even talked about his website in the chamber. Can blogs continue to affect British democracy? Quite possibly
"Documents of Freedom"
is a nine-part series of articles in Salon "highlighting the historic essays, speeches and court rulings that have advanced the cause of free speech and other civil liberties."
Each article focuses on one document, offering commentary and a link to the document. The latest piece
is on freedom of the press in the days of Benjamin Franklin and his grandson. The article on John Stuart Mill was discussed here
Lynne Stewart, a New York human-rights lawyer was arrested and had her files searched
, on charges relating to her work as defence counsel for Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman who is serving a life sentence in connection with the bombing of the WTC in 1993. A law school's graduate students seeking to honour her with an award at their graduating ceremony has been stopped from doing so by the dean afraid of bad publicity
Last week some friends of mine launched terroristidkit.com to, as they put it, "[poke] fun at the racial profiling, loss of civil
liberties and terrorist paranoia that is sweeping the US." Five days later Register.com seized their domain and refuses to explain why
, despite the fact that they complied with two requests for identity verification and even called Register.com to talk about it; after putting them on hold for twenty minutes, Register.com put the phone down. Today the domain is now owned by Register.com
. What the hell is going on?
Toppling one regime to build another, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
and a Republican coalition are pushing legislation to make the PATRIOT Act
permanent. It's daylight forever.
Keep off the grass
These days in London it's okay to smoke grass but not okay to walk on grass.
Perhaps it's not all that surprising given that there's been a material breach
Any other current examples of civil liberties being eroded quite so outrageously where you live?
Strange Bedfellows fight tyranny? - Bob Barr, Dick Armey to join ACLU
Quoth James Madison: (Federalist Papers #47) - "The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many . . . may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny." and Benjamin Franklin:"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
William Safire Slammed the Bush Adminstration
(Nov 15) over John Poindexter's Total Information Awareness
program. NOW: Bob Barr, a gun-rights anti-gay firebrand conservative to join the ACLU? Dick Armey's joining as a consultant? Say that again?
And Nat Hentoff reports that the Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne, Indiana ran a broadside called (sept. 8) "Attacks on Liberty" - "In the name of national security, President Bush, Attorney General John Ashcroft, and even Congress have pulled strand after strand out of the constitutional fabric that distinguishes the United States from other nations. . . . Actions taken over the past year are eerily reminiscent of tyranny portrayed in the most nightmarish works of fiction" MEANWHILE...an email of an editorial by right wing radio personality Chuck Baldwin, "Bush Government 'Out of Control' ("The Bush administration seems determined to turn our country into the most elaborate and sophisticated police state ever devised")
first published in an online Christian Fundamentalist antiabortion newpaper
is making the (right wing) rounds. It asks: "Does that mean one must leave the Republican Party in order to fight for liberty?" [antitroll protection dislaimer: most Democrats signed the Patriot Act
, the principle cause of concern behind the statements and editorials linked to on this post]
You Have The Right To Remain Silent
Police can hold people in custody and force them to talk, so long as their incriminating statements are not used to prosecute them, U.S. Solicitor Gen. Theodore B. Olson and Michael Chertoff, the chief of the Justice Department's criminal division, say in their brief to the court.
It "will chill legitimate law enforcement efforts to obtain potentially life-saving information during emergencies," including terrorism alerts, if police and FBI agents can be sued for coercive questioning, they add
ready to talk or will I have to get my rubber hose and smash your face with my club?
The Associated Press
has written a summary of the Bush Administration's curtailment of civil liberties. This appears to an unbiased and factual catalog of the changes 9/11 has wrought on our justice system. It would appear that the Law and Order wing of the GOP has spanked the Libertarian
wing but good. Let the Eagle Soar!
Jose Padilla is an US citizen
being held without any rights granted to US citizens. And now the AG thinks he's a small fish
will they let him go or give him a trial? Or will the government just keep him?
Sneering at President John Adams as "querulous, Bald, blind, crippled, Toothless Adams"
got Ben Franklin's grandson arrested under the Sedition Act of 1798
. Federalists like Adams and Alexander Hamilton
used the Sedition Act to muzzle highly aggressive elements
of the press. Thomas Jefferson
and James Madison fought back
-- and won. Understanding this early power grab by the U.S. executive branch helps put recent events
into historical context. The struggle itself has been part of the United States of America since the beginning, and anyone working to fight Cheney and Ashcroft's unconstitutional assault
happens to be in pretty good company. Happy Fourth of July