- 8/2, Jennifer Valentino-Devries and Danny Yadron, Wall Street Journal, FBI Taps Hacker Tactics to Spy on Suspects
- 8/2, Michael Shank, Washington Post Opinions, Advertising against Muslims? Not with my tax dollars.
- 8/2, Kevin Johnson and David Jackson, USA Today, Will rising tide of opposition force change in NSA tactics?
- 8/2, Adam Liptak, New York Times, Court Rulings Blur the Line Between a Spy and a Leaker
- 8/1, Lesley Clark, McClatchy Newspapers, No breakthrough evident on Guantanamo detainees after Obama, Yemen’s president meet
- 8/1, Mark Felsenthal and Patricia Zengerle, Reuters, Obama open to making changes to surveillance, lawmakers say
- 8/1, Shahid Buttar, People’s Blog for the Constitution, Cracks widen in the armor of the surveillance state
- 7/29, Staff, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, CREW Calls on DOJ to Investigate DNI Clapper for Lying to Congress
Posts Tagged ‘racial profiling’
Tuesday, July 23, was an exciting day for grassroots organizers on the west coast fighting against overbroad national security policies that extend to immigration enforcement. Coalitions in San Francisco County and King County (which includes the city of Seattle) both moved forward with legislation that would curtail the participation of local law enforcement in mass deportation.
Local action is particularly important as “immigration reform,” in the form of severe border militarization and increased enforcement, moves through Congress.
In King County, the committee on Law, Justice, Health, and Human Services held its first public meeting on a policy proposed by celebrated civil rights leader King County Councilmember Larry Gossett. The room was packed with supporters of the new policy.
The proposal, based on the language of a policy adopted by Santa Clara County, California in 2010, would limit county compliance with detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to those inmates who have been convicted of violent or serious felony. The hearing made the need for the legislation, and the huge amount of support for it, very clear.
As Janet Napolitano steps down as Secretary of Homeland Security, President Obama has looked for a new candidate to fill the position. Raymond Kelly, Police Commissioner of New York, has been cited as a possible successor to Napolitano, but his appointment would likely exacerbate the profiling and surveillance of Muslims throughout the country.
A Secretary of Homeland Security should be able to protect this country from true acts of terrorism and harm without eroding the civil liberties of American citizens of any faith, but Kelly’s possible appointment puts this possibility into question.
Raymond Kelly served as police commissioner for the NYPD from 1992 to 1994, and again from 2002 to the present. During his second term, New York City was shaken by the attacks of 9/11, and (speaking from my own observations as a native New Yorker) stricken by a xenophobic, anti-Muslim paranoia.
Kelly fed this paranoia, developing the Demographics Unit of the NYPD (now the target of a constitutional challenge), which was specifically designed to map and track Muslim Americans in the Tri-state area absent any suspicion of wrongdoing. The unit did not notify local law enforcement or elected officials when the surveillance took place outside of New York City, essentially subverting local law by fiat.
- 7/19, Charlie Savage, New York Times, In Major Ruling, Court Orders Times Reporter to Testify
- 7/18, Spencer Ackerman, Guardian (UK), White House stays silent on renewal of NSA data collection order
- 7/18, Mark Clayton, Christian Science Monitor, Snowden leaks give new life to lawsuits challenging NSA surveillance programs
- 7/18, Michael S. Schmidt, New York Times, Senate Panel Clears Way for Floor Vote on F.B.I. Director Pick
- 7/18, David Sirota, Salon, Holder’s amazing anti-drone war speech
- 7/18, Katherine Jacobsen, Christian Science Monitor, FISA 101: 10 key dates in the evolution of NSA surveillance
- 7/18, Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, Prominent Democrats Are Now Comfortable With Racial and Ethnic Profiling
- 7/17, Billy House, National Journal, House GOP Leaders Hope to Block Amendments to Limit NSA Surveillance
- 7/18, Stephen Holmes, London Review of Books, What’s in it for Obama?
- 7/10, Richard A. Serrano, Los Angeles Times, FBI nominee Comey signed memo allowing waterboarding
- 7/10, Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!, Senate Set to Confirm New FBI Head Who OK’d Waterboarding, Defends Mass Spying, Indefinite Detention
- 7/9, Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, A Patriot Act History Lesson: How Warnings Were Mocked in the Senate
- 7/9, Larry Abramson, NPR, Former FISA Judge Questions Court’s Approval Of Surveillance
- 7/9, Timothy B. Lee, Washington Post, Could the Supreme Court stop the NSA?
- 7/9, Hayes Brown, ThinkProgress, Lawmakers Call For End To ‘Inhumane’ Force-Feeding At Guantanamo Bay
- 7/9, Matthew Harwood, The American Conservative, The Surveillance State Attacks the First Amendment
- 7/8, Alison Frankel, Reuters, Do surveillance court’s secret rulings violate U.S. Constitution?
- 7/8, David Kravets, Wired, Court Rejects State Secrets Defense in Dragnet Surveillance Case
- 7/9, Paige St. John, Los Angeles Times, 30,000 California prisoners refuse meals in apparent hunger strike
- 7/9, Michael S. Schmidt, New York Times, Surveillance Expected to Be a Focus at Hearing for F.B.I. Nominee
- 7/8, Charlie Savage, New York Times, Judge Urges President to Address Prison Strike
- 7/8, Len Levitt, Huffington Post, A Brooklyn Mosque: Ground Zero for Spying
- 7/8, Philip Bump, Atlantic Wire, The Easy Way for the Government to Get Around Secrecy Rules Is to Change Them
- 7/8, Jacob Silverman, The New Yorker, Data, Secrets, and the Surveillance State
- 7/6, Bob Sullivan, NBC News, Privacy vs. security: ‘False choice’ poisons debate on NSA leaks
- 6/24, Jill Lepore, The New Yorker, Annals of Surveillance: The Prism
- 6/17, Jaron Lanier, The Nation, The Meta Question: What is the NSA doing with your metadata?
The passage of the bills is important both for the added protection they bring to New Yorkers and because it shows the power of the broad based organizing model employed by the coalition promoting the bill, Communities United for Police Reform. The legislative victory builds on decades of courageous work in the movements for police accountability and racial justice.
Both pieces of legislation passed by 34 or more votes, assuring that if the votes stay the same a threatened veto by Mayor Bloomberg can be overridden by the city council.
- 6/19, Matt Sledge, Huffington Post, Drone ‘Signature Strike’ Witness Responds To Obama Speech: ‘I Don’t Trust A Single Word’
- 6/19, David Kravets, Wired, FBI Admits It Surveils U.S. With Drones
- 6/19, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Senator Dianne Feinstein, Feinstein to Pentagon: Stop Force-feeding at Guantanamo
- 6/19, Editor, CBS News, New York City Police Unions Livid Over Bill On Racial Profiling
- 6/19, Anna Lekas Miller, Guardian (UK), If your name is Ahmed or Fatima, you live in fear of NSA surveillance
- 6/19, Richard A. Serrano and Brian Bennett, Los Angeles Times, FBI uses drones inside U.S. for spying, director says
- 6/19, Lauren Carasik, Al Jazeera, The tragic tale of Guantanamo detainee #684
- 6/18, Charlie Savage and Michael S. Schmidt, New York Times, The F.B.I. Deemed Agents Faultless in 150 Shootings
May 2013, Vol. 12 No. 05
View this newsletter as a webpage: http://www.bordc.org/newsletter/2012/05/
- BORDC Board elects new leadership
- BORDC in the news
- Read the latest news & analysis from the People’s Blog for the Constitution
- Round the clock surveillance: Is this the price of living in a ‘Free, Safe’ society? by John W. Whitehead
- Heavy toll of drone killings illuminated at Senate hearing by Michael Figura
- MA House & Senate to consider 5 pieces of privacy legislation by Dave Mitchell
- Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition proposes Rapid Response Network by Kyla Kuvach
- The press fails yet again by Shahid Buttar
- BORDC announces 2013-2014 legal fellowship
- Summer 2013 internships available with BORDC
- Legal fellow Michael Figura speaks at events across Maine
- BORDC hosts receptions in San Francisco and Washington, DC
- Convening in Oakland, CA, informs activists and coalitions from across the country
- May 2013 Patriot Award: Jayel Aheram
- Grassroots Updates
- Alameda County, CA: County passes resolution against Secure Communities policy
- Los Angeles, CA: Stop LAPD Spying continues to address pervasive surveillance
- Charlotte, NC: Activists challenge statewide discriminatory policing and sentencing
- California: AB 351 advances to challenge indefinite detention
- Chicago, IL, mobilizes across several events
- Dallas, TX, hosts events to greet Bush Presidential Center, challenges protest restriction
- Albany, NY, responds to abusive paramilitary training exercise
- Connecticut legislature tackles several civil liberties issues
- Immigration reform proposals mask biometric assault on all Americans
- Gitmo hunger strike draws global attention to ongoing US torture
- ECPA reform aims to limit electronic searches
- DHS caught spying on Occupy movement as IRS discriminates against Tea Party
- Google reports increase in government censor requests
- Boston bombings: From surveillance to white privilege
- Micro-grants offer opportunities for grassroots action
- BORDC announces 2013-2014 legal fellowship
- Summer 2013 internships available with BORDC
- War on Whistleblowers DVD and Action Guide
- Hold your elected officials and candidates for office accountable: pledge to support only those who defend your civil liberties
This commentary was written by John W. Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute. It was originally published on April 22, 2013.
“Of all the tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.”—C.S. Lewis
Caught up in the televised drama of a military-style manhunt for the suspects in the Boston Marathon explosion, most Americans fail to realize that the world around them has been suddenly and jarringly shifted off its axis, that axis being the U.S. Constitution.
For those like myself who have studied emerging police states, the sight of a city placed under martial law—its citizens under house arrest (officials used the Orwellian phrase “shelter in place” to describe the mandatory lockdown), military-style helicopters equipped with thermal imaging devices buzzing the skies, tanks and armored vehicles on the streets, and snipers perched on rooftops, while thousands of black-garbed police swarmed the streets and SWAT teams carried out house-to-house searches in search of two young and seemingly unlikely bombing suspects—leaves us in a growing state of unease.
Mind you, these are no longer warning signs of a steadily encroaching police state. The police state has arrived.
Equally unnerving is the ease with which Americans welcomed the city-wide lockdown, the routine invasion of their privacy, and the dismantling of every constitutional right intended to serve as a bulwark against government abuses. Watching it unfold, I couldn’t help but think of Nazi Field Marshal Hermann Goering’s remarks during the Nuremberg trials. As Goering noted:
It is always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.
As the events in Boston have made clear, it does indeed work the same in every country. The same propaganda and police state tactics that worked for Adolf Hitler 80 years ago continue to be employed with great success in a post-9/11 America.
Whatever the threat to so-called security—whether it’s rumored weapons of mass destruction, school shootings, or alleged acts of terrorism—it doesn’t take much for the American people to march in lockstep with the government’s dictates, even if it means submitting to martial law, having their homes searched, and being stripped of one’s constitutional rights at a moment’s notice.
As journalist Andrew O’Hehir observes in Salon:
In America after 9/11, we made a deal with the devil, or with Dick Cheney, which is much the same thing. We agreed to give up most of our enumerated rights and civil liberties (except for the sacrosanct Second Amendment, of course) in exchange for a lot of hyper-patriotic tough talk, the promise of “security” and the freedom to go on sitting on our asses and consuming whatever the hell we wanted to. Don’t look the other way and tell me that you signed a petition or voted for John Kerry or whatever. The fact is that whatever dignified private opinions you and I may hold, we did not do enough to stop it, and our constitutional rights are now deemed to be partial or provisional rather than absolute, do not necessarily apply to everyone, and can be revoked by the government at any time.
Particularly disheartening is the fact that Americans, consumed with the need for vengeance, seem even less concerned about protecting the rights of others, especially if those “others” happen to be of a different skin color or nationality. The public response to the manhunt, capture and subsequent treatment of brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is merely the latest example of America’s xenophobic mindset, which was also a driving force behind the roundup and detention of hundreds of Arab, South Asian and Muslim men following 9/11, internment camps that housed more than 18,000 people of Japanese ancestry during World War II, and the arrest and deportation of thousands of “radical” noncitizens during America’s first Red Scare.
Moreover, there has been little outcry over the Obama administration’s decision to deny 19-year-old U.S. citizen Dzhokhar Tsarnaev his due process rights and treat him as an enemy combatant, first off by interrogating him without reading him his Miranda rights (“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law…”).
Presently, under the public safety exception to the Miranda rule, if law enforcement agents believe a suspect has information that might reduce a substantial threat, they can wait to give the Miranda warning. For years now, however, the Obama administration has been lobbying to see this exception extended to all cases involving so-called terror suspects, including American citizens. Tsarnaev’s case may prove to be the game-changer. Yet as journalist Emily Bazelon points out for Slate: “Why should I care that no one’s reading Dzhokhar Tsarnaev his Miranda rights? When the law gets bent out of shape for him, it’s easier to bend out of shape for the rest of us.”
The U.S. Supreme Court rightly recognized in its 1966 ruling in Miranda v. Arizona that police officers must advise a suspect of his/her civil rights once the suspect has been taken into custody, because the police can and often do take advantage of the fact that most Americans don’t know their rights. There have been few exceptions to the Miranda rule over the last 40 years or so, and with good reason. However, if the Obama administration is allowed to scale back the Miranda rule, especially as it applies to U.S. citizens, it would be yet another dangerous expansion of government power at the expense of citizens’ civil rights.
This continual undermining of the rules that protect civil liberties, not to mention the incessant rush to judgment by politicians, members of the media and the public, will inevitably have far-reaching consequences on a populace that not only remains ignorant about their rights but is inclined to sacrifice their liberties for phantom promises of safety.
Moments after taking Tsarnaev into custody, the Boston Police Dept. tweeted “CAPTURED!!! The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won.” Yet with Tsarnaev and his brother having been charged, tried and convicted by the government, the media and the police—all without ever having stepped foot inside a courtroom—it remains to be seen whether justice has indeed won.
The lesson for the rest of us is this: once a free people allows the government to make inroads into their freedoms or uses those same freedoms as bargaining chips for security, it quickly becomes a slippery slope to outright tyranny. And it doesn’t really matter whether it’s a Democrat or a Republican at the helm, because the bureaucratic mindset on both sides of the aisle now seems to embody the same philosophy of authoritarian government. Increasingly, those on the left who once hailed Barack Obama as the antidote for restoring the numerous civil liberties that were lost or undermined as a result of Bush-era policies are finding themselves forced to acknowledge that threats to civil liberties are worse under Obama.
Clearly, the outlook for civil liberties under Obama grows bleaker by the day, from his embrace of indefinite detention for U.S. citizens and drone kill lists to warrantless surveillance of phone, email and internet communications, and prosecutions of government whistleblowers. Most recently, capitalizing on the nation’s heightened emotions, confusion and fear, government officials used the Boston Marathon tragedy as a means of extending the reach of the police state, starting with the House of Representatives’ overwhelming passage of the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which opens the door to greater internet surveillance by the government.
These troubling developments are the outward manifestations of an inner, philosophical shift underway in how the government views not only the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, but “we the people,” as well. What this reflects is a move away from a government bound by the rule of law to one that seeks total control through the imposition of its own self-serving laws on the populace.
All the while, the American people remain largely oblivious to the looming threats to their freedoms, eager to be persuaded that the government can solve the problems that plague us—whether it be terrorism, an economic depression, an environmental disaster or even a flu epidemic. Yet having bought into the false notion that the government can ensure not only our safety but our happiness and will take care of us from cradle to grave—that is, from daycare centers to nursing homes, we have in actuality allowed ourselves to be bridled and turned into slaves at the bidding of a government that cares little for our freedoms or our happiness.