Archive for November 2012

News Digest 11/30/12

Friday, November 30, 2012 at 5:00 pm by

Feinstein Amendment passes in the Senate

Friday, November 30, 2012 at 12:23 pm by

While BORDC is pleased to witness the Senate restoring the right to due process for citizens and green card holders, we are disappointed to see continuing provisions that could violate Posse Comitatus by inviting domestic military deployment.

BORDC stands with Human Rights First in supporting Senator Mark Udall’s (D-CO) proposed amendments to the 2013 defense authorization bill. Amendments #3115 and #3116 would repeal mandatory military custody and ban indefinite detention of individuals picked up within the United States.

Feinstein proposal to limit (but still allow) domestic military detention

Friday, November 30, 2012 at 9:08 am by

Earlier this year, Professor Lorraine K. Bannai of the Seattle University School of Law testified before the Committee on the Judiciary of the United States Senate, where she addressed some of the problematic aspects of the Due Process Guarantee Act crafted by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

This 2011 amendment proposed several changes to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and soughtto limit the applicability of the NDAA’s indefinite detention provisions to citizens or permanent residents arrested on U.S. soil. While Professor Bannai applauded the intentions of the bill, she argued that the language of the amendment is not adequate, as it does not include necessary protections against domestic military detention.

In particular, professor Bannai refers to the provision of the Feinstein proposal that could authorize the detention of civilians without due process, which she links to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

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News Digest 11/29/12

Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 5:00 pm by

High schools implement intrusive RFID surveillance policy

Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 10:26 am by

 

In Texas, a student was recently suspended for refusing to comply with her high school’s new surveillance strategy, and has spurred discussion concerning the scope of the school’s ability to enforce such a policy. Under the “Student Locator Project,” students of John Jay High School in San Antonio are obligated to wear Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) “SmartID” badges that provide geographic information to school officials. Under this system, such badges would allow the administration to track the movement of students on school property to a precise degree within the schoolyard radius.

Andrea Hernandez, the student who has challenged this new policy, objected to these badges on religious and privacy grounds. She has argued that these SmartID badges violated her religious beliefs, and that the use of such tracking measures constituted an excessive intrusion into her rights to privacy as a student at the school. This case caught the attention of The Rutherford Institute, which has traditionally been devoted to the protection of civil liberties, especially regarding the First and Fourth amendments. With the aid of attorneys from The Rutherford Institute, Hernandez will be justifying her case through First Amendment protections.

Speaking in support of Hernandez, John Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute articulated the importance of the First Amendment and applauded her initiative in challenging the school policy, stating that:

… students in our society are at liberty to conscientiously choose which governmental programs they will support and which they will oppose. It’s a sad day in America when school officials deny someone an education simply because she stands up for what she believes in.

As enforced by the school administration, a student’s refusal to comply with the new badge system will result in punitive measures, including exclusion from certain school services and extracurricular activities. Such students are prevented from accessing necessary facilities, such as school libraries, that are necessary for their education; indeed, Hernandez herself was barred from such activities, including the yearly votes in school elections. Though the policy has been justified as necessary to enhance student safety and security, the intrusive nature of this system may be found unconstitutional on First and Fourth Amendment grounds.

News Digest 11/28/12

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 5:00 pm by

How much more money will we waste on violating the Constitution?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 1:32 pm by

(fear) the Fiscal Cliff...The phrase “fiscal cliff” has been splattered all over the news for the last month, with little explanation of what it really means. The fiscal cliff refers to spending cuts and tax hikes that will go in to effect in 2013. These changes are automatic, meaning they will happen unless Congress and the President can reach a deal on the budget. Pundits have been arguing over how large the impact will be, but there is no question that it will be felt by working class Americans.  Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal says that everyone will see a difference in their tax rate, estimating that the lowest rate would rise from 10% to 15%, and:

25 percent, 28 percent, and 33 percent rates would rise to 28 percent, 31 percent and 36 percent respectively.

In spending cuts;

defense programs would be sliced by 9.4 percent. Most non-defense programs outside the big entitlements — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — would be cut by 8.2 percent.

What appears to be chasing us over the edge of the cliff is Bush-era tax cuts. What the GOP wants to do is cut social services accordingly. Democrats want to increase taxes. But what seemingly no one has mentioned is the staggering cost of domestic security operations.

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News Digest 11/27/12

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 5:00 pm by

4 ways Congress could either protect your rights, or instead assault them

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 6:25 am by

This year’s post-election “lame duck” congressional session presents several disturbing threats—alongside exciting opportunities—for fundamental civil liberties. [See below for updates since this post was originally written.]

Measures extending government authority to conduct dragnet warrantless wiretapping, and arbitrarily detain Americans in domestic military detention without trial, have passed the House and now loom before the Senate. Yet members of Congress willing to do their jobs could support alternative measures to protect privacy and dissent.

Will our government’s assault on privacy and due process continue, or instead recede in the face of long overdue checks and balances?  The answer turns largely on whether your federal representatives hear from you. BORDC launched an online petition last week to help raise your voice as part of a grassroots transpartisan chorus.

It includes four requests of federal representatives, relating to FISA, the NDAA, the JUSTCE Act, and ECPA. (If any of those acronyms are unfamiliar, this post is for you.)

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News Digest 11/26/12

Monday, November 26, 2012 at 5:00 pm by