Posts Tagged ‘civil liberties’

Korematsu’s Legacy: Raise your voice against government injustice

Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 8:34 am by

(photo: Gary Fong/S.F. Chronicle)

Governor Pat Quinn has issued a proclamation declaring January 30 as “Fred Korematsu Day” across the state of Illinois. Illinois joins three other states, California, Hawaii and Utah, in celebrating and commemorating the life of Fred Korematsu, a hero for civil rights and liberties during the time of World War II.

The 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor ignited widespread fear amongst the American people of future attacks by Japan or other Axis powers. This fear reared its ugly head in the issuance of Executive Order 9066 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1942. This order created 10 internment camps, labeled “relocation centers,” in California, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado and Arkansas. More than 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry were ordered to relocate to these camps where they faced overcrowded, abysmal living conditions. Fred Korematsu saw the injustice in this act and refused to comply with the Order. He took great measures to do so, creating an alias and undergoing plastic surgery. In 1942, he was discovered and arrested for evading the order. Despite this, Korematsu continued to fight against the discriminatory law by turning to the courts. Korematsu challenged the Order’s constitutionality and the case against the US government went all the way to the Supreme Court. However, in a 6-3 decision, the Court upheld the Order under the justification of “national security.” It was not until 1983 that Korematsu’s conviction was overturned. Korematsu displayed great courage by refusing to relinquish his protected rights and standing up to the government’s injustice, despite the repercussions.


BORDC Legal Fellow Matthew Kellegrew appeared on RT America to talk NSA reform

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 8:03 am by

BORDC Legal Fellow Matthew Kellegrew made an appearance on RT America following the President’s speech on the need to reform the National Security Agency (NSA). Among the many topics discussed, Matthew commented on the absence of meaningful change offered in the President’s address:

Political dishonesty: Invoking the legacy of MLK while defending the surveillance state

Monday, January 20, 2014 at 8:21 am by
Photo from

Photo from

During President Obama’s recent speech about the pressing need to reform the National Security Agency’s (NSA) bulk data collection programs, he acknowledged that the US has exceeded the bounds of lawful surveillance in the past. In particular, he pointed to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) secret directive to spy on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., further making the point that he would very likely not hold the office he does today had activists like Dr. King not continued to fight despite the presence of government repression.

Left out of his speech was any hint as to why the FBI might have monitored Dr. King in the first place. His work threatened a racist system of discriminatory social control.

At midnight tonight

Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 7:47 am by


Tonight, we welcome the arrival of 2014 and reflect on 2013. It has truly been a remarkable year.

2013 transformed the debate on surveillance issues, due not only to a courageous whistleblower, but also to widespread dissent that is forcing our institutions — including all three branches of the federal government, and the national news media — to respond.

But we’re not done yet: the NSA dragnet continues, and remains merely one piece of a far more vast civil liberties crisis including aerial surveillance drones, FBI infiltration of activists groups and faith institutions, regional fusion centers and local intelligence collection, routinized racial & ideological profiling, torture with impunity, and the executive secrecy that allows these abuses to recur.


Who cares who’s watching you?

Monday, December 30, 2013 at 10:12 am by


300 million Americans are exposed to what a federal judge recently described as “indiscriminate” and “arbitrary” monitoring by the NSA. Yet only thousands are actively supporting the broad multiethnic, transpartisan grassroots organizing necessary to end unconstitutional mass surveillance.

Do you know someone who shares your interests in civil liberties and constitutional rights? Then consider making a gift to the Bill of Rights Defense Committee in their honor!

We’ve challenged and stretched the policy discourse, launched new voices into the debate, and crafted new tools to help you & your neighbors build the movement wherever you live. Supported by BORDC’s training, materials, resources, technical assistance, and equipment, grassroots organizers in cities and towns across America are raising their voices.

The more people involved, the sooner change will come. 


Protestors face down urban shield war games in Oakland CA

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 at 1:10 pm by

Between October 25 and the 28, an intimidating list of over 150 police departments, federal law enforcement agencies and private corporations participated in a series of militarized war games using the city of Oakland California as if it was their personal playground.

The exercises unfolded as various “real world” scenarios where local law enforcement agencies competed against one another from a central “Red Command.”

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“In past years, Urban Shield has featured hostage-taking scenarios involving animal rights activists, and the bombing of an oil platform by Anarchists. In an interview, Sheriff Ahern said the scenarios are sourced from threats made to law enforcement and government agencies over the past five to ten years that have been documented by the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center. “Many of those threats have used the formats of anarchy, in the form of white supremacy, of Muslim extremism,” Ahern said. “We simply use threats we’ve received over the last five to ten years that have been documented through our regional intelligence center.” (Eastbay Express)


NYC v. NSA: a guerrilla video world premiere

Monday, October 21, 2013 at 10:00 am by

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.

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The government shutdown is great news for those who don’t want NSA accountability

Friday, October 11, 2013 at 12:06 pm by

Originally published on Electronic Frontier Foundation’s blog.
Written by Trevor Timm

pclobWhile many federal employees and the American public have been negatively affected by the US government shutdown, there is one group of people who can probably take solace: those who need to be held to account for the NSA surveillance scandal.

Before the shutdown, there were two allegedly “independent” investigations into NSA spying activities taking place—one through the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and one through the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB). We have heavily criticized these committees for their close ties to the White House and DNI, the same bodies in charge of the NSA, but certainly some investigation is better than nothing.


One year later, Boston police surveillance of antiwar activists not accounted for

Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 9:30 am by

new-boston-police-department-car-630The New York Police Department (NYPD) has been scrutinized following the revelation one month ago that it designated entire mosques as “terrorism enterprises.” This allowed  them to conduct surveillance on anyone praying at these mosques, including sending  undercover informants into them. NYPD confidential documents even peddled the idea of placing agents in leadership positions at mosques and Arab cultural organizations. Such actions are part of a national context in which police departments violate the first amendment rights of citizens in the name of fighting terrorism. A prime example is the lack of accountability or explanation from the Boston Police Department (BPD) one year after its surveillance of local anti-war organizations became public.

In October 2012 it was revealed that the BPD placed local anti-war groups under surveillance with no plausible connections to criminal activity. One year later many questions remain about the scope of the BPD’s breach of privacy. What was the purpose of such surveillance and how was it done?  Are antiwar activists continuing to have their protected free speech rights violated?  Has information on antiwar groups been passed on to national databases, perhaps stored permanently?


NY Times endorses Surveillance State Repeal Act, joining BORDC

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 10:23 am by

This Sunday, September 21, the New York Times published an editorial, “Close the N.S.A.’s Back Doors,” supporting a piece of legislation that the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, alone among national advocacy organizations, has endorsed since August.

The Times editorial board wrote:

[T]he [NSA] has never met an encryption system that it has not tried to penetrate. And it frequently tries to take the easy way out. Because modern cryptography can be so hard to break, even using the brute force of the agency’s powerful supercomputers, the agency prefers to collaborate with big software companies and cipher authors, getting hidden access built right into their systems.

The New York Times, The Guardian and ProPublica recently reported that the agency now has access to the codes that protect commerce and banking systems, trade secrets and medical records, and everyone’s e-mail and Internet chat messages, including virtual private networks. In some cases, the agency pressured companies to give it access….

These back doors and special access routes are a terrible idea, another example of the intelligence community’s overreach….If back doors are built into systems by the N.S.A., who is to say that other countries’ spy agencies — or hackers, pirates and terrorists — won’t discover and exploit them?

Representative Rush Holt, Democrat of New Jersey, has introduced a bill that would, among other provisions, bar the government from requiring software makers to insert built-in ways to bypass encryption. It deserves full Congressional support.

The bill introduced by Rep. Holt is the “Surveillance State Repeal Act” (H.R. 2818). If enacted into law, the bill would entirely repeal both the USA PATRIOT Act and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.