As Congress considers dozens of bills to curtail NSA domestic surveillance, the grassroots firestorm opposing dragnet spying has continued to escalate.
Archive for the ‘Multimedia’ Category
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.
Fight for The Future, in partnership with the BORDC, Restore the Fourth NYC, Demand Progress and other privacy groups in the Stop Watching Us coalition debuted their new film The NSA Video this week in Manhattan, New York.
BORDC Legal Fellow Matthew Kellegrew joined the crowd as it gathered under the Grand Arch in Washington Square Park in the cool air of New York in the fall. At first, only a few people milled about unsure what to do but before long the few strangers became an unmistakable crowd. The organizers donned NSA costumes, handed out popcorn and briefed the crowd on what was to come.
On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a confirmation hearing for James Comey, the nominee for Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director.
The most contentious points of the hearing, which was generally congenial, focused on Comey’s views on torture and his approval of waterboarding during the Bush administration. While Comey asserted that he now believes that waterboarding is torture and is illegal, he struggled to explain his approval for the practice at the time.
Comey asserted that his decision at the time was based on the fact that 1994 statute governing torture was “very vague” and thus difficult to interpret. On its face, however, his assertion is incredible.
Waterboarding is designed to — and does — induce the fear of drowning and suffocation for its victim. The law defines torture as an act intended to “inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering.” caused by, among other things:
(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
(C) the threat of imminent death
The fear of death by drowning quite squarely fits all three.
Moreover, as pointed out at the hearing by Senator and Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and later Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), waterboarding has been recognized to be torture since the Spanish Inquisition and the US has prosecuted US Citizens and Japanese soldiers alike for waterboarding.
Recent news cycles have provided numerous opportunities for BORDC to inform the public about issues including revelations about Department of Justice (DOJ) attacks on the press, and secret dragnet surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA). Over the past several weeks, BORDC spokespeople have informed communities and broadcast audiences all across the country about these abuses and their profound impact on all Americans.
On June 3, BORDC Executive Director Shahid Buttar appeared on Counterpoint (broadcast from Bridgeport, CT on WPKN) to discuss the disturbing implications for a supposedly democratic republic of seizing press phone records in secret. Shahid explained that:
Freedom of the press is one of the defining elements of a free society…The Justice Department’s…outright seizure of records from the Associated Press…strikes a blow at the heart of the First Amendment…[T]he press can’t be free if its sources are available to the state…When anonymity is gone, when the press can’t report on…state abuses, that is definitionally part of authoritarianism…[W]e are tinkering…with the underpinnings of our society.
Shahid goes on to suggest that degrading the liberties of the American people advances the objectives of terrorists, and even parallels government practices in areas where violent radicalism thrives. He also emphasizes local activism as most viable means of countering rights violations at the federal level.
On June 10, WBAI New York City featured Shahid’s explanation of NSA surveillance programs twice, in the morning with Esther Armah’s Morning Wake Up Call, and again on Robert Knight’s Five O’Clock Shadow.
Musician Remy takes the NSA to task in this clever music video produced by Meredith Bragg and Reason.tv.
With all three branches of the federal government colluding to suppress fundamental constitutional rights, this kind of cultural resistance becomes all the more important.
In addition to sharing this video online, take offline action by raising your voice on July 4 at one of the actions planned around the country by Restore the Fourth, with support from BORDC and others.
Our intrepid colleagues at the Electronic Frontier Foundation published a fantastic timeline depicting the history of NSA spying on Americans. Study this infographic for more detail about the NSA’s history, as well as the history of legal challenges to the warrantless domestic surveillance that continues to make a mockery of our Constitution and the Fourth Amendment.
Alongside legal challenges, grassroots resistance to secret NSA spying is also growing. Below is video from a grassroots press conference & rally on Capitol Hill last Friday, June 14, featuring BORDC’s Shahid Buttar (at 1:17).
Groups co-sponsoring the rally included BORDC, the Defending Dissent Foundation, Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition, Washington Peace Center, Electronic Privacy Information Center, ACLU-National Capital Region, Jericho Movement, Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) MD, Institute for Policy Studies, CodePink, Demand Progress, School of the Americas Watch, and Restore the Fourth. Video from the rest of the rally is also posted online, courtesy of the Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition.
And we’ll be back again on July 4, with a grassroots action in Lafayette Park initiated by Restore the Fourth. Stay tuned for details….
In the meantime, be sure to explore BORDC’s resources for local grassroots coalitions, including the Civil Rights Restoration Campaign (which includes measures to restrict spying by local police departments through Suspicious Activity Reports, fusion centers, and Joint Terrorism Task Forces) and our more recently developed model legislation to restrict the use of domestic surveillance drones. You need not wait for Congress — take these issues to your local Council!
Last night, I appeared alongside renowned investigator James Bamford, whistleblower advocate Jesselyn Radack, and privacy and open government expert Ginger McCall on Thom Hartmann’s television program The Big Picture. Video from our interview (my first comments start at 7:05) is below, and here’s audio from my appearance on WBAI’s Five O’Clock Shadow with Robert Knight just a few hours earlier.
Several issues remain muted in much of the discussion about the NSA, its offensive and unAmerican spying programs, and the escalating crisis in the Washington establishment favoring imperial executive power over the constitutional legacy of the Republic created by our founders.
I address issues relating to executive secrecy, and one relating to corruption, below.
On March 5th, the Rights Working Group released the second video in its series Faces of Racial Profiling. This video captures the testimony of Julio Martinez, whose mentally impaired son Alex, a U.S. citizen, was killed by Customs & Border Protection (CBP) officers in Washington state.
Martinez states that in February of 2011, he called 911 to request that his son be taken to a hospital. However, because Julio was speaking Spanish, it was CBP agents who responded to the call. When Alex tripped, holding a flashlight, and fell on an agent, he was shot dead.
First time visiting the People’s Blog for the Constitution? Long-time reader looking to see what we’ve been up to? Take a minute to view the latest video from BORDC for an inside look at some of our recent work and learn about the mission of the organization.
Please take a moment today to share this video with your family and friends. In addition to celebrating the end of BORDC’s 10th anniversary with us this holiday season, please also remember to invest in the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and our efforts standing for liberty when our government won’t. Every contribution—whether $10 or $10,000—is tax-deductible and helps build the movement, especially with a generous matching grant adding 50% to your contribution.