Archive for the ‘Action Alerts’ Category

Torture awareness month events organized across the nation

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 6:00 pm by

tortureIn February 1998, the General Assembly of the United Nations declared June 26 to be the International Day of Support for the Victims of Torture. Human rights advocates across the globe join together on this day each year in an effort to raise awareness about inhumane abuse and express solidarity with survivors.

In Los Angeles, Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace hosted the Close Guantánamo Justice Luncheon at United University Church, welcoming attorneys Anne Richardson and Michael Rapkin, each of whom represents detainees at the world’s most notorious prison camp. The event brought together people from a variety of religious communities, exposing the realities of American-sponsored torture at home and abroad.

Numerous legal and advocacy organizations in Chicago worked together to lead a town hall meeting on torture at the Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies. Drawing upon the Convention Against Torture, a legally binding document ratified by the US in 1994, this town hall meeting focused on prolonged and indefinite solitary confinement practices by the Chicago Police Department. In addition to demanding an end to all torture practices throughout the nation, this event called upon the Governor of the State of Illinois to pardon all victims of torture and recognize their right to rehabilitation.

Finally, the fight to end US-sponsored torture and other human rights abuses emerged in our nation’s capital, where the Center for Victims of Torture (CVT)  recognized Syracuse University Law professor David Crane with the 2014 Eclipse Award for his work to fight against impunity for torture. More recently, Crane has played a pivotal role in revealing the injustices perpetrated by the Syrian government under President Bashar al-Assad. The event also hosted David Luban, a professor at Georgetown University College of Law, and Luis CdeBaca, Ambassador at Large and Director of the US State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Guided by CVT Executive Director Curt Goering, these distinguished experts discussed principles to fighting impunity, and the challenges that emerge in implementing them.

For more information about how you can join the fight against torture email


Cornel West supports Mothers Against Police Brutality

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 12:24 pm by

policeHundreds flocked to Dallas’s Friendship-West Baptist Church on June 20 as renowned intellectual Dr. Cornel West spoke at a town hall meeting sponsored by Mothers Against Police Brutality (MAPB) . West spoke with passion and candor on the desperate reality of police overstepping their authority and encouraged those in attendance to join the fight against police brutality.

“Dr. West’s message was exhilarating, uplifting, challenging and painfully truthful. His message left seeds of hope and uprooted some deep seedlings of oppression in the Dallas communities,” said MAPB founder Collette Flanagan. “Our sense of responsibility and ownership in our families and community was awakened.” Flanagan says her organization has registered more volunteers than ever before and credited MAPB supporters for “stepping up to the plate.”

MAPB’s next event is a public hearing for families that have lost loved ones to police brutality. The group will be inviting city officials, Dallas Police Chief Brown and local and state politicians. Flanagan feels it’s important for them to see the carnage left behind when unarmed children are killed by policemen and “stolen” from their families. Planning is underway to hold the event in August.

Newly released memo on drone killings based on faulty assumptions and secret law.

Friday, July 11, 2014 at 1:17 pm by

droneThe US government may assassinate its own citizens.  We saw this in 2011 when the US killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen of Yemeni descent.  But under what conditions may the US government assassinate one of its own citizens?  This question was partially answered with the June 23 release of a legal memo authored in 2010 by former White House counsel, now federal appeals judge, David Barron.

The memo explains the legal reasoning justifying the 2011 drone assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki. It was released by order of the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals in response to a suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Times. It is a follow up to a white paper released in 2013 by the Obama administration stating the legal opinion that a US citizen could be killed if he was a “senior operational leader” of al-Qaeda or an “associated force” posing an “imminent threat.” That memo specifically stated that assessing a target as an “imminent threat” need not require knowledge of a specific planned attack against the US. (more…)

Greenwald names names.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014 at 12:36 pm by

public-figures-nobody-is-safeFive American targets of our government’s surveillance have been named.  This is the first time that American targets—people who have never been arrested or even suspected of terrorist activity—have been identified.

After a few months of journalist Glenn Greenwald  promising to “name names” of the identities of these Americans, he, along with Murtaza Hussain, posted these names to The Intercept today. (more…)

Snowden did his part. Now do yours.

Friday, July 4, 2014 at 8:00 am by

flagOver a year ago, the Guardian ran the very first story about Edward Snowden, who revealed proof of secret mass domestic surveillance. Much has changed since then.  Too much has not.

Despite our government’s lack of action, voices have called for constitutional restrictions on the powers of US intelligence agencies.  The diversity of this cry for action has been overwhelming.  It has come from around the country.  It has come from across party lines.  And it has come from you.  Your voice matters.


We say #StopSpying on the National Day of Action Against Fusion Centers

Thursday, April 10, 2014 at 9:09 am by

dont-spy-on-meToday coalitions across the United State will rally, protest, and demonstrate against local fusion/spy centers to inform the public about the spy centers and police/state surveillance.  As Americans, we demand that Congress shut down fusion centers; end funding to these centers and release all Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs).

Take a creative action for National Bill of Rights Day (we did and it was awesome)

Monday, December 9, 2013 at 6:16 pm by

BORDC Legal Fellow Matthew Kellegrew led a group of activists in a banner drop action against the NSA in Oakland California. This short video shows how you can get out into your community and make your voice heard.

Creative actions are exciting and engaging ways to connect your community to the fight against unconstitutional NSA spying.

Day of action to demand ECPA reform

Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 9:00 am by

ECPA graphic1Today, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee joins a nationwide day of action calling for reform of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), a nearly 30 year old law that allows the government to access your email and documents stored in the cloud without a warrant.

In a previous story written by Alok Bhatt about the need to reform the ECPA, he described:

“The severely outdated Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), enacted in 1986 to restrict government access to then-limited digital data, allows warrantless access to messages stored for over 180 days. In a new era of cloud computing, however, this obsolete provision fails to uphold modern expectations of privacy,”


Congress considers key vote to restrict NSA spying

Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 8:20 pm by

Concerns about dragnet domestic spying have prompted action in both houses of Congress. An impending vote in the House, in particular, offers a key opportunity for grassroots Americans to make our voices heard.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has re-introduced bipartisan legislation to curtail NSA spying modeled on bills he has previously sponsored, supported by Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Mark Udall (D-CO), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Jon Tester (D-MT). The FISA Accountability and Privacy Protection Act would accelerate sunsets and require a factual basis for controversial orders under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, as well as pen registers and trap & trace devices under FISA.

In the House, Ranking Judiciary Member John Conyers (D-MI) and Congressman Justin Amash (R-MI) introduced the bipartisan LIBERT-E Act to limit the NSA to seeking phone records of particular targets, and require partial disclosure of otherwise secret decisions of the FISA court. In a rare joint statement, Conyers and Amash—who champion dramatically different political perspectives—agreed that:

Free countries must not…operate under secret laws. Secret court opinions obscure the law. They prevent public debate on critical policy issues and they stop Congress from fulfilling its duty to enact sound laws and fix broken ones.

Rep. Amash also supports amendments to the Defense Department Appropriations bill to restrict NSA spying, opening up a third front on congressional resistance to NSA abuses. His proposed amendment represents the most aggressive congressional challenge to the NSA since the failed JUSTICE Act, yet received surprising approval by the House Rules Committee on Monday, July 21.


Mourning a national holiday

Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 6:04 pm by

Exactly one year ago, I asked “What do we celebrate this July Fourth?” This July Fourth, I’m celebrating the holiday in a different way and, in the wake of the NSA leaks, enjoy many reasons for optimism.

Last year, I wrote:

Liberty…is a fading memory, a lyric in an anthem that few Americans today understand, even as millions sing it at sporting events and during today’s holiday….

Congress authorized the National Security Agency in 2008 to secretly capture and datamine all your emails and phone calls, and now prepares to extend that power again this year. A law signed by President Obama on New Year’s Eve gives the military authority to kidnap and detain any American without trial. Congress had already given the Pentagon power to withhold evidence of its human rights abuses.

Meanwhile, the line between military and police is blurring, as SWAT teams, aerial drones, armored personnel carriers, and fusion centers transform local police departments from public safety agencies into a militarized occupation force deployed across the country.

Never in human history has a state enjoyed such unfettered access to the minds of its subjects (ahem, citizens). And rarely in our nation’s history have agencies, and the officials who command them, wielded such dramatic power.