Constitution in Crisis :: BORDC’s January NewsletterTuesday, January 22, 2013 at 1:40 pm by Samantha A. Peetros
January 2013, Vol. 12 No. 01
View this newsletter as a webpage: http://www.bordc.org/newsletter/2013/01
On January 2nd of this year, President Obama signed the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) of 2013 into law, without any provisions to restore due process in the face of surviving sections of the 2012 NDAA that continue to threaten indefinite domestic military detention. While President Obama strongly criticized the bill that reached his desk, his criticism focused on congressional restrictions on the military’s authority to transfer Guantanamo detainees who had been cleared for release. As with prior laws that assault the Constitution, however, he ultimately signed the bill into law.
On December 30th, President Obama signed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act (FAA), extending the National Security Agency’s (NSA) program of unconstitutional warrantless wiretapping for another five years. FISA is essentially a codification of the illegal domestic spying program begun in secret under the Bush administration.
In the last month, BORDC and coalitions we support across the nation have appeared in various press outlets to promote concerns about constitutional rights and the powers of police and intelligence agencies that abuse them.
Last month, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to approve a 6,000 page report on torture based on a three year investigation that reviewed over 6 million pages of documents from the CIA and other intelligence agencies. While the bipartisan Senate report is sharply critical of torture, however, it remains secret.
On January 19th, BORDC Legal Fellow Nadia Kayyali will be the keynote speaker at a forum on racial profiling focusing on the Secure Communities Initiative (S-Comm).
Have you read BORDC’s blog lately? The People’s Blog for the Constitution has attracted a growing audience that has tripled over the past year. Featuring news & analysis beyond the headlines on a daily basis, it offers a great way to stay up to date and informed.
Highlights from the past month include:
- Changes to S-comm reveal the program’s flaws, don’t go far enough by NadiaKayyali
- “Zero Dark Thirty” pushes the torture debate into popular discussion by AlokBhatt
- Federal court allows government to keep targeted killing justification secret by Michael Figura
- Defense bill halts hope of closing Guantanamo Bay by Annette Macaluso
- Zero tolerance for torture by Emily Walsh
- Don’t Get Mad, Get Even: Challenge Prosecutors, not Scapegoats by Shahid Buttar
Every month, BORDC honors an individual who has made an outstanding contribution in his or her community to the movement to restore civil liberties and the rule of law. This month, the Patriot Award goes to Andrew Bashi from Chicago, IL for his extraordinary and committed activism and organizing.
On January 11, our country lost a luminary in the suicide of Aaron Swartz, a brilliant young man who, according to BORDC’s Shahid Buttar, “did more for the world in his 26 years than most people do in a lifetime.” In the wake of Aaron’s tragic death, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has launched an online petition to fix the draconian computer crime law that exposed Aaron to 13 felony counts of hacking and wire fraud for a victimless crime actually committed in the public interest.
To get involved in any of these efforts, please email the BORDC Organizing Team at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re eager to hear from you and help support your activism!
- Alameda County, CA: Coalitions mobilize to challenge local surveillance drones, immigration enforcement
- Los Angeles, CA: Broad protests on 11th anniversary of Guantanamo challenge torture and detention under NDAA, while Stop LAPD Spying Coalition continues to mobilize
- Dallas, TX: Advocates host press conference and demonstration to creatively challenge detention, torture, NDAA
- Fayetteville, AR: Communities come together to address anti-immigrant profiling
- Chicago, IL: Coalition rallies first to challenge mass incarceration, and again to confront detention under NDAA and torture
- Washington, DC: Activists mobilize against torture at release of Zero Dark Thirty
- New York, NY: Coalition presses towards victory on racial profiling as federal judge blocks NYPD profiling in the Bronx
- New Britain, CT: Coalitions address anti-immigrant profiling, military detention without trial
It’s no secret that the FBI and local law enforcement have targeted the Occupy movement since its inception in fall 2011, sometimes to the degree of planting informants and manufacturing criminal charges. However, recently released documents reveal that monitoring by federal law enforcement was even more extensive than imagined.
Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal’s Zero Dark Thirty opens with a title that declares “The following motion picture is based on first-hand accounts of actual events.” With this title and relentless publicity, Biegwlow has suggested “What we were attempting is almost a journalistic approach to film.’’ Zero Dark Thirty not only misrepresents the facts surrounding the role of torture in Osama Bin Laden’s capture, it also uses film technique to align the audience with the torturers.
In 2010, the Wall Street Journal reported on the initial phases of a NSA program now known to be called “Perfect Citizen.” Despite its brazenly Orwellian title, the NSA allegedly designed Perfect Citizen to prevent cyberattacks on federal agencies and computer systems that control critical infrastructure. FOIA documents procured by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) confirm the concern with protecting power grids and other vulnerable systems.
The next time your family celebrates a birthday, consider a gift for the whole family: a functional aerial surveillance drone. Verizon Wireless has you covered—you can purchase your very own quadro-copter, along with two HD cameras, online.
Tags: Congress, domestic surveillance, drones, FAA, FBI, FISA, Grassroots, Grassroots Activism, Guantanamo, Guantanamo Bay, indefinite detention, NDAA, Obama administration, Occupy movement, police accountability, torture, warrantless surveillance, warrantless wiretapping