Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

69% of Americans want to read the full Torture Report

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 at 1:02 pm by

torture report-02The long awaited and highly anticipated Senate Intelligence Committee Torture Report was released today. However, much of it is unavailable to the public. The report contains information which has been deemed classified, and we want to know what this information contains.

The Constitution Project commissioned a poll administered Public Policy Polling to find out exactly how Americans feel about the Torture Report. The poll finds that Americans overwhelmingly agree that the torture report should be made public, that it is important to establish whether or not the CIA’s interrogation methods after 9/11 were effective or more harsh than previously reported, and that John Brennan should resign following revelations that the CIA hacked into Senate computers. Today, the polling memo and the full survey results were released. The poll has yielded some powerful numbers calling for the full release of the torture report:

  •  69% of Americans believe a declassified version of the Senate Intelligence Committee report should be released to the public.
  • 60% of Americans believe that the CIA hacking incident violates our system of checks and balances and merits further investigation.
  • 54% of Americans believe that the CIA director should resign since it has been established that the CIA hacked into Senate computers.
  • 52% of Americans believe it is important to establish whether it is true that the CIA’s interrogations were “far more harsh” and less effective than has been previously reported.

The results are in and the country  has spoken. Please help us spread the word.

How fear mongering is destroying our rights

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 12:10 pm by
Last Thursday, BORDC’s executive director, Shahid Buttar, appeared on Uprising Radio. When speaking about fear mongering with regard to ISIS and homeland security, he said:

“It’s eerie to see the resurgence of many of the same dynamics in the public debate that we saw ten years ago, namely, fears of national security threats justifying overbroad counterterrorism policies…. There were very important reforms moving through Congress that have been all but derailed…due to the fear mongering about ISIS….

The fact of the matter is the FREEDOM act wouldn’t impact the NSA’s foreign signals intelligence capabilities at all. It would only keep [the NSA] from spying on Americans. The idea that somehow fears about ISIS should justify insulating the NSA from accountability for years of lies and deception to Congress and the American people — and documented abuses violating [legal limits on] its powers, and breaking the Federal statutes that were set up in the first place to keep it from doing these things — is preposterous. We should all expect much more from our public officials.”
Listen to the full interview here.

A vigil for change

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 11:05 am by

ferrellProtesters gathered together in Charlotte, North Caroline to address the depressing reality of police brutality against people of color. A year ago, a police officer was charged with shooting and killing a 24 year old unarmed black man, Jonathon Ferrell.

Jonathon was a former A&M University football player who moved to Charlotte a year prior to be with his fiancée. At the time of his shooting, he was working two jobs and had high hopes of returning back to school to receive his automotive engineering degree. The night of September 14th, Jonathon had been seeking assistance for a car accident when he was violently targeted. A woman who had been home alone with her baby was frightened and did not understand why Ferrell was knocking at her door at such a late hour. Ferrell left to seek aid elsewhere and the woman called the police. In the end, instead of receiving help from a person of the law, he ended up dead from multiple gunshot wounds. This shooting had no cause. Not only did the woman who called the police say nothing about Ferrell being threatening but he also made no violent move toward Officer Randall Kerrick. (more…)

Tell Congress to stop militarizing law enforcement

Friday, September 19, 2014 at 11:41 am by

teaser_get-involved_write-congress-300x228Just this past Tuesday, two members of Congress introduced bipartisan legislation that would serve to hinder the current trend of over-militarizing our local police forces. Representatives Raul Labrador and Hank Johnson  presented the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act of 2014, the passive of which would be a step that would keep tensions between citizens and communities down.

This act would essentially help to limit the national government’s ability to send military grade weapons to local communities. The incidences of police brutality against the public and the media in Ferguson have been eye-opening. They demonstrate that our police are no longer acting as protectors but as military soldiers, suppressing free speech and grass roots activism. Labrador and Johnson are taking the first steps to combat this problem but we must show our support. Contact your representatives today to make sure your voice and beliefs are being heard.

Police militarization: spending money on things we don’t need

Thursday, September 11, 2014 at 11:22 am by

Anyone who was alive 13 years ago remembers the horrific images of what happened on September 11, 2001. In the wake of the attacks on 9/11, U.S. government programs began to help local police agencies obtain military equipment. More than a decade after 9/11, we are still fighting an ideology.  Finally, lawmakers are questioning why these small town police agencies need armored and mine-resistance vehicles, automatic weapons, and camouflage clothes.

Two days ago, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Capitol Hill. Some senators were critical of the programs that give police military equipment. (more…)

The police are taking your cash at traffic stops

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 12:22 pm by

cashActivists within our community have been speaking out and fighting against police militarization for some time. The issue was recently thrust into the limelight of public opinion after last months’s tragic shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Since then, various media programs have begun shining a light on the issue of police militarization, the various way in which it occurs, and ways for people to fight against it.

Recently, The Washington Post ran an investigative series on police militarization. While the pieces of lengthy, they do an excellent job of explaining how police use their power to confiscate cash during routine traffic stops.

The first in the series was published on September 6 and is titled Stop and Seize. This piece discusses the concerns inherent in traffic stops, and how police officers take hundreds of millions of dollars from motorists who are not changed with crimes. The article discussing technology police use to watch motorists, and includes videos, documents, and retells specific stories regarding cash seizures.

On September 7 and September 8, The Post followed up with two more investigative pieces: Police Intelligence Targets Cash and They Fought the Law: Who Won? We encourage you to read these deeply informative pieces and share you comments.

Warning against the danger of criminalizing provocative Facebook postings

Monday, September 8, 2014 at 1:00 pm by

dislikeWeighing in on a case that will significantly impact expression on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, The Rutherford Institute has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the conviction of a Pennsylvania man who was charged with making unlawful threats (it was never proven that he intended to threaten anyone) and sentenced to 44 months in jail after he posted allusions to popular song lyrics and comedy routines on his Facebook page.

The Rutherford Institute’s amicus brief in Anthony D. Elonis v. United States of America argues that the First Amendment protects even inflammatory statements that may give offense or cause concern to others unless the statements were a credible threat to engage in violence against another and made by the defendant with the intent to cause fear in the alleged victim. The case arises out of Facebook postings made by Anthony Elonis expressing his anger about events in his life, and which were based upon rap lyrics of artists such as Eminem and a comedy sketch of the group The Whitest Kids U’ Know. (more…)

Government surveillance in public spaces: is your data safe?

Friday, September 5, 2014 at 11:41 am by

big brotherBy Zack Youngren

Zack Youngren is a student at Northeastern University and front end web developer at a medium sized software company. He studies computer science and has particular interests in data analytics, privacy, and legislation surrounding information technology.

Significant public thought and scrutiny is being placed on the collection of data, including what is being collected and by what means. Should the government be collecting photos of your license plates? The metadata of your phone calls? The contents of your online exchanges? Over the past year since the Snowden leak, more thought has been given to what the government does with that data, insofar as storage and security, protecting it from not only people who might wish to access it illegally, but also from people with legitimate access that would use it for illegitimate means. (more…)

Torture report coming soon

Thursday, September 4, 2014 at 1:15 pm by

stop tortureThe Senate sent President Obama it’s torture report in April for declassification.  This report took five years to make. After innumerable redactions were made by the Obama administration, the report was nonsensical. “Redactions are supposed to remove names or anything that could compromise sources and methods, not to undermine the source material so that it is impossible to understand,” Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., a member of the committee, said Sunday in a statement. “Try reading a novel with 15 percent of the words blacked out. It can’t be done properly.” Additionally, the blacking out of  supporting evidence, such as proof that information derived from torture actually came from other intelligence sources was quite troubling.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein expects the executive summary of her staff’s long-awaited report on the torture of American detainees to be ready for public release before the end of September, she said in an unaired segment of her “Meet the Press” interview this weekend (starts at 10:25 of the video).

Feinstein said:

“What we are engaged in is working with the administration to see that the redaction is such that it does not destroy the report. If you redact the evidence — heavily — then we cannot sustain our findings. We will not put out a report that does not enable us to sustain our findings. And I believe that that is understood. Progress has been made. I think the report will likely come out in the second half of September sometime — but it won’t come out until it is readable and understandable.”

 

Don’t want to give police your name? You may be arrested.

Sunday, August 31, 2014 at 4:19 pm by

States_with_Stop_and_Identify_LawsVideo posted online on Tuesday depicts the arrest and TASERing of an unidentified black man in St. Paul, Minnesota for seemingly little reason other than his refusal to state his name, the Twin Cities Daily Planet reported.

“Why am I going to jail?” the man can be heard saying toward the end of the nearly 6-minute long clip.

“It’ll be explained to you,” a male officer responds.

The video, which seemed to have been taken on a cell phone this past winter, begins with a female officer walking beside the man and asking for his name.

“Why do I have to let you know who I am?” the man asks. “I don’t have to let you know who I am if I haven’t broken any laws.”

Unfortunately, in some states (though Minnesota is not even one of them), individuals may face arrest if they refuse to identify themselves to police officers, even if the officer has no reason to suspect that a crime has been or is being committed. So-called stop and identify statutes require an individual approached by police to give his or her name or face arrest.  Such statues are problematic.  First, stop and identify laws lend themselves to pretextual stops that may result in racial profiling.

Furthermore, no reasonable suspicion, much less probable cause, is required for arrest.  Indeed, if a police officer chooses to ask a person for his or her name, that person may be arrested for nothing more than refusing to give a name. This is both patently absurd and egregiously unconstitutional.

What can we do about it?

Know your rights: Is your state a stop and identify state?  Take a look at the map above and determine whether police in your state may legally require you to identify yourself (stop and identify states are colored in red).

Spread the word: Take the time to educate others, even if all you do is post blog post to your social media pages.  The more people know, the more prepared they are to assert their rights.

Contact us at info@bordc.org to learn how to get involved.