Archive for the ‘Action Alerts’ Category

After the House watered it down, Sen. Leahy introduces a new US FREEDOM Act.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 7:55 am by

Yesterday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) introduced legislation that would restore Americans’ privacy rights by ending the government’s dragnet collection of phone records and requiring greater oversight, transparency, and accountability with respect to domestic surveillance authorities.

freedom act

The updated version of the USA FREEDOM Act released yesterday builds on legislation passed in the House in May, as well as the original legislation Leahy introduced with Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) last October. The legislation bans bulk collection under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and other surveillance authorities, requires the government to narrow the scope of a search to a clearly defined “specific selection term,” adds needed transparency and reporting requirements, and provides key reforms to the FISA Court. In an editorial on Monday, the New York Times wrote “the bill represents a breakthrough in the struggle against the growth of government surveillance power.”

Leahy noted the legislation provides significant reforms of surveillance authorities, while carefully maintaining the role of law enforcement and intelligence agencies and their responsibility to protect national security.

In his floor statement, Leahy said:

“If enacted, this bill would represent the most significant reform of government surveillance authorities since Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act 13 years ago,” Leahy said in a floor statement.  This is an historic opportunity, and I am grateful that the bill has the support of the administration, a wide range of privacy and civil liberties groups, and the technology industry.”

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Missouri to vote on protection of digital privacy, but will the Feds respect it?

Monday, July 28, 2014 at 11:45 am by

yes on 9On August 5, Missouri voters will decide in a referendum whether to expand its state constitution’s privacy protections to electronic communications and data. This follows the overwhelming approval of the measure by Missouri’s state legislature, where the state House of Representatives approved it by a vote of 114-28 and the state Senate had only one dissenting vote.

The ballot question, known as Amendment 9, would change the Missouri State Constitution to read:

“Section 15. That the people shall be secure in their persons, papers, homes [and], effects, and electronic communications and data, from unreasonable searches and seizures; and no warrant to search any place, or seize any person or thing, or access electronic data or communication, shall issue without describing the place to be searched, or the person or thing to be seized, or the data or communication to be accessed, as nearly as may be; nor without probable cause, supported by written oath or affirmation.”

The proposed revision comes on the heels of a Supreme Court decision this past June regarding the privacy status of cell phones. In the US Supreme Court decisions in  Riley v. California and US v. Wurie, the court unanimously ruled that police must acquire a warrant to search a person’s cell phone. The cases involved arrested suspects whose cell phones were searched without warrant and the evidence found used against them in prosecution.  Writing for the court, Chief Justice John Roberts noted that “modern cellphones are not just another technological convenience. With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans the privacies of life.” (more…)

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 orgnanizing@bordc.org.

 

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.

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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).
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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,”

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