Archive for the ‘ACLU’ tag
“He will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law.”
These harsh words come courtesy of the executive director of the ACLU, formerly a supporter of the president but also just one of the many dissenters who have since have grown disillusioned with an administration tarnished by unfulfilled campaign promises and continuous constitutional violations . . .
When he signed the National Defense Authorization Act on New Year’s Eve, President Barack Obama said that he had his reservations over the controversial legislation that will allow for the indefinite detention of Americans. Now some of the president’s pals are expressing their agreement with Obama’s own hesitation, but say that the commander-in-chief should have thought harder before signing away the civil liberties of Americans.
Under the bill, which approves all defense spending for the 2012 fiscal year, certain provisions allow for the military detainment and torture of US citizens, indefinitely, essentially allowing for Guantanamo Bay-style prisons to be a real possibility for every American. As the act floated around Congress, an underground outrage erupted and activists attempted to keep the bill from leaving the House and the Senate, although a lack of media coverage largely left the matter hidden to the public. Despite this campaign, the legislation made it out of the Capitol Building and into the Oval Office last month, prompting advocates against the act to petition for the president to veto it.
Initially the Obama administration said the president’s advisers would recommend a veto, but later rescinded the threat. Senator Carl Levin eventually revealed that President Obama had insisted on adding the wording that has made NDAA such a target among activists who are frightened of the civil liberty-stripping capabilities . . .
One week after the president did ink the legislation, some of Obama’s old pals are saying they are in disbelief over how a former constitutional law professor could agree to such provisions that crush the law of the land.
President Obama’s action . . . is a blight on his legacy because he will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero says in a statement. Such a charge not only carries much clout because it comes courtesy of the head of such an integral and reputable advocacy group, but Romero himself was praising the president three years earlier after he won the 2008 election. Now that same administration is doing everything Romero thought it wouldn’t.
“I believe he knows what he needs to do to restore the America we believe in, to get us on back on track, to give us back our America, an America we never stopped believing in but have sorely missed for the past eight years,” Romero wrote in 2008 in an op-ed that encouraged the president to follow through on his campaign promise of closing Guantanamo Bay. “Call me naive, but I honestly believe he wants to do it. He promised us that on the campaign trail, and I believe it was more than an empty promise,” wrote Romero.
Three-quarters of the way through his presidency, Obama has now only left Gitmo remain open, but is going to be able to send his own citizens to its torture cells . . .
“We are incredibly disappointed that President Obama signed this new law even though his administration had already claimed overly broad detention authority in court,” adds Romero. “Any hope that the Obama administration would roll back the constitutional excesses of George Bush in the war on terror was extinguished today.”
Other groups who had previously offered their endorsement to the president are saying they are upset as well.
It is deeply troubling that the NDAA became law with the detention provisions intact,” reads a statement from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR. “We believe it is unconstitutional for our military to become a police force that would hold American citizens indefinitely without the right to trial or even to hear the charges brought against them.
CAIR had long supported Obama for his protection of Muslim-American rights. Nearly one year ago Executive Director Nihad Awad told the media that the group welcomes Obama for his “decision to emphasize the fact that Muslims are contributing members of our society.” Only 12 months later, the group says they are now skeptical over how the president can now use his power to strip the rights of anyone.
This ill-conceived and un-American legislation will forever be seen as a stain on our nation’s history – one that will ultimately be viewed with embarrassment and shame,” adds the advocacy group.
Although the powers of the act indeed offer the president the ability to indefinitely detain people, citizens or non, Obama said during signing that he would not interpret the legislation to mean as such . . .
“I want to clarify that my Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens,” added the president in a statement that accompanied the signing of NDAA. “My Administration will interpret section 1021 in a manner that ensures that any detention it authorizes complies with the Constitution, the laws of war, and all other applicable law.”
That memo does not, however, mean future heads of state will necessarily be excluded from following the orders authorized by Congress. In fact, the ACLU’s Romero tells The Atlantic, The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield.”
“President Obama did pledge in a signing statement not to use this law to detain American citizens but this provides little comfort, as signing statements have no legal force and he has repeatedly failed to uphold similar promises in the face of political pressure — including his pledge to close Guantánamo within his first year in office,” adds the Center for Constitutional Rights in their own statement this week. “The law authorizes a future president, such as a President Romney, President Bachmann or President Perry, to use this authorization in the most aggressive manner available.
When he offered his John Hancock come signing time, the president acknowledged suspicious but went ahead with it anyway, noting, “The fact that I support this bill as a whole does not mean I agree with everything in it. In particular, I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists.”
“I guess promising that Americans wouldn’t be indefinitely detained, period, was too much of a stretch,” blogger Mary Wheeler adds.
Those very suspicions that Obama wrote of did not stop the president from following the plea of Congress though, less than a year until November elections make or break the legacy of the president.
If you ask many, though, that legacy has been tarnished by the NDAA.
“Our Founders were fearful of the military — and they purposely created a system of checks and balances to ensure we did not become a country under military rule,” Minnesota Senator Al Franken wrote of the bill on Huffington Post. Franken, a Democrat along with Obama, said he had agreed with parts of the bill but the controversial provisions alone were reason for him not to sign it.
“This bill undermines that core principle, which is why I could not support it.”
For Obama, that didn’t quite seem to matter as much.
Resolved: The World Hates Us For Our Freedom!
While written before the dasterdly Senate vote, Jim Kirwin’s analysis is excellent and should be read by all.
by Jim Kirwan
November 11, 2011
WE LET THE CONSTITUTION BE DESTROYED!
Thus reported the Washington Post already in 2002.
The war on terror has no doubt had unintended consequences onAmerican freedom. But recent talk has escalated the already prevalent fears of a police state, and the story is indeed compelling. When the best of the liberal leftists and the best of the conspiracy theorists agree, you know it’s at least going to be interesting.Today Alex Jones updated his promotion of the ACLU’s monitoring of Senate Bill 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act. The ACLU reported already last Wednesday, The bill itself specifically says that
“The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.”
This is the very language Amash says is misleading:
“Note that it does not preclude U.S. citizens from being detained indefinitely, without charge or trial, it simply makes such detention discretionary.”
After reading the text of the bill, I believe Amash is essentially correct. The two sections of the 680-page bill which have drawn all the attention are 1031 and 1032. Section 1031 gives “authorization”for detention, and 1032 gives the “requirement for military custody.”The special exemption for U.S. citizens is under section 1032, and specifically says it refers to “this section.”
This means it does not apply to the previous section in which lies an abuse just as egregious-the “authorization” to detain all “covered persons” in “disposition” which includes, Detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force.-Sec.1031(c) (1) There is no exemption for U.S. citizens in this section.
This threat to our liberties-while it could be defended as only pertaining explicitly to 9-11 type terrorists is definitely an expansion of the Federal police and military power into the civilian life of the U.S. It is dangerous, and should be opposed on principle. Further, the bill was crafted secretly without hearing or debate by a liberal Democrat, Carl Levin, along with John McCain, and purports to besimply a Defense spending bill. Deep in its behemoth 680 pages lies this attackon civil liberties. Sen. Lindsey Graham bragged it will
“basically say in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield.”
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) seconded,
“America is part of the battlefield.”
But if America is declared a battle zone, then the rules of war apply in this land. This means de facto that some form of martial law applies.This means, as WaPo said at the beginning of this article, that there’s an alternate system-and perhaps it can apply to any of us. This has been going on already since 2001:” (1) “I am sometimes baffled by how quickly many people quickly assume that because they were not personally named in some piece of legislation, that somehow the provisions of that legislation do not and could not apply to them.
Having spent a great deal of time over the years dissecting changes to code & title and the ever popular “redefinition ofterms” used to change the entire common understanding of what a word or phrase means within these tortured constructs called legislation, I knowbetter. My recent article on S.1867 elicited comments to the effect that a few commenters’ had read the bill and that I was simply being inflammatory and emotional. Yes, of course. That must be it. Lest anyone forget: The insidious Patriot Act followed by
The Security Enhancement Act of 2003,
the infamous Military Commissions Act 2006,
followed by the John Warner Defense Authorization Act 2007 and,
which called for the suspension of habeas corpus (4th Amendmentdue process)
all of which gave the president the power to arbitrarily determine on his own, that any one of us was a “domestic terrorist”and going even further to
allow the president to strip us of our citizenship at his discretion with no oversight.
Each of these unconstitutional bills was a piece of the puzzle being constructed incrementally as the Constitution and our rights were being trashed. These anti-American laws were not the only affront to the Constitution, our rights and the advancement of the police state. Now why, you might be asking, would anyone want to give the president of the United States the arbitrary authority to strip any US citizen of their citizenship with noevidence other than his/her belief that one of us is a terrorist, or supports terrorism, without the evidence supporting that contention, or being officially charged with a crime? Most recently, Obama has approved a new program which allows him to authorize the targeted killing of people in foreign countries that the administration decides is a threat (to them) and includes targeting of UScitizens right here at home and abroad.
This program, which is nothing more than sanctified murder, is a violation of international laws which prohibit the killing of individuals outside of armed combat zones. The program will allow the CIA or the military the unchecked authority to murder at will, US citizens and others, around the globe without any evidence of crime, threat or violent activity towards the United States, other than they said so. The intent through all of these assaults on the Constitution andour protected rights has been to find the means to redefine any one of us as anon-military enemy combatant to facilitate the police state. Once redefined, once the definitive description of who and what we are has been altered to suit the government agenda, it is open season on any one of us.” (2) These two articles outline just part of the problem that this pending legislation (it won’t be voted on for awhile yet); presents for all of us. What is clear is that this SECRET piece of legislation was clearly TREASON.The Congress cannot write legislation that criminalizes free speech or thatends (without debate) their congressional duty to represent the public in thisgovernment. We already have a government that has stripped away so many things that it seems impossible to enumerate them all. (3)
But we might want to begin to think about some of what this could mean for the government, and for us: Given that the government now believes that they are living in a State that is suddenly filled withTerrorists, instead of loyal citizens.
There is no precedent for this government to assume the entire nation is potentially criminal, until each of us has proven that we are innocent, each and every time a government thug wants to talk to anyone here: This is unprecedented, and there is absolutely no reason for this behavior. Also we were in business with the US government. That arrangement has gone from paying the government a token percentage of what each of us earns to a whopping 85%^ of everything we make.
And on top of that we must ask government before we are “allowed” to do anything.
At the very least we must STOP paying taxes, because the entitythat is charging us those taxes is no longer legal.
We no longer have a Constitution; ergo we no longer have the Republic, in which this compact was created.
This government is a privately held corporation and not a government:
Officially it’s called United States Incorporated so there is no reason to pay them taxes, since none of us gave them permission to”privatize” us ~ so in reality they cannot and do not own us! They (USI) went to war illegally and unilaterally; then they sought to find a way to by-pass the legal system so that they could detain people without trials, primarily because they have NO EVIDENCE!
This government created the operation on 911 that gave them hypothetical reasons for war, without proof for any of their allegations. Now they want the effects of their WAR-Crime to spill over onto their critics of these global wars for Colonial power, for resources, and for pure unadulterated-greed.
Since that could not be done by using the existing court systemthey have set out to create a whole new and illegal system by SECRETLY writing new regulations and making new rulings without bothering about the actual international rules of war; which include torture and indefinite detention.
On top of all of this they have invented out of a file drawer in CIA headquarters something called Al Qaeda; which has never existed except as a CIA operational group, prior to 911.
Now in concert with Zionist television programming and films, as well as government psy-ops releases they would have the whole world believe that Al Qaeda actually exists:
That is just another lie to keep the public under their collective feather-beds.
But in practical terms what does it mean if we no longer have a functioning congress, legally binding courts, or even the supposed bedrock ofthe Republic-the Constitution?
That means that we don’t have a country anymore.
And since the government is no more ~ why would anyone chose to pay them taxes?
For that matter what does this do to all those corporations which this so-called government has supposedly backed since the founding of the country? On the bright side would be that without a government all corporate charters would be null and void and probably 80 % + of the corporations would be gone over night.
Without a functioning government who then owns all that land that the USG says belongs to them?
The government (USI) is limited to ten-square-miles INSIDE Washington D.C.?
Beyond that ten mile by ten mile square, this “government has no power at all, except whatever people choose to give it?
We have paid for all of it, from police equipment to the roads and bridges to the parks and open range; that all belongs to us, not to them.
The so-called cops are just rented uniforms that no longer come with either badges or names, so they too are corporate-slaves with no power of their own.
If you think that’s extreme then just remember that this government only “rules” by the consent of the governed and that hasn’t happened since Gee W. Bush stole the Tarnished House on 12-12-2000! Like it or not the USA has become just another cheap and backward Empire that has an ego the size of the Colossus of Rhodes (The 8th wonder of the World which has of course disappeared into the mists of history).
Moreover what will happen when someone finally tells our troopson the frontlines that “there is no longer a US Constitution!
No more freedoms (of any kind) exist in America and there is no reason to fight to protect a so-called country that doesn’t exist”?
Here’s what Obama himself has said about this topic! :
“My administration has begun to reshape the standards that apply to insure that they are in-line with the rule of law. We must have clear defensible and lawful standards for those who fall into this category.
We must have a thorough process of periodic review so that any prolonged detention is carefully evaluated and justified. Our goal is justify a legitimate legal framework for the remaining Guantanemo detainees that come out to be transferred. Our goal is not to avoid a legitimate legal framework. In our constitutional system prolonged detention should not be the decision of any one man. If and when we determine that the United States must hold individuals, to keep them from carrying out an act of war, we will do so within a system that involves judicial and congressional oversight. And so going forward my administration will work with congress to develop an appropriate legal regime so that our efforts are consistent withor values and our Constitution.
(The Threat that Obama says makes indefinite -detention necessary) Right now in distant training camps in other cities there are people plotting to take American lives.
That will be the case a year from now, five years from now, and in all probability ten years from now.” Watch the entire tape, because it is literal dynamite! (4)
I wonder if we can get them home before BLACK CHRISTMAS, 2011?
firstname.lastname@example.org 1) “Battlefield” USA: Senate Bill Turns Military on USCitizens
http://americanvisionnews.com/412/battlefield-usa 2) S. 1867 Just another brick in the police state wall
http://ppjg.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/5000/ 3) ENDING the USA
http://www.rense.com/general95/ending.htm 4) Rachael Maddow on Obama’s Indefinite Detention Ideas 5-21-09 -7min 42 sec Video
But next week, Congress will vote on explicitly creating a police state.
The ACLU’s Washington legislative office explains:
The Senate is gearing up for a vote on Monday or Tuesday that goes to the very heart of who we are as Americans. The Senate will be voting on a bill that will direct American military resources not at an enemy shooting at our military in a war zone, but at American citizens and other civilians far from any battlefield — even people in the United States itself.
The Senate is going to vote on whether Congress will give this president—and every future president — the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world.
The power is so broad that even U.S. citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself. The worldwide indefinite detention without charge or trial provision is in S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act bill, which will be on the Senate floor on Monday.
I know it sounds incredible. New powers to use the military worldwide, even within the United States? Hasn’t anyone told the Senate that Osama bin Laden is dead, that the president is pulling all of the combat troops out of Iraq and trying to figure out how to get combat troops out of Afghanistan too? And American citizens and people picked up on American or Canadian or British streets being sent to military prisons indefinitely without even being charged with a crime. Really? Does anyone think this is a good idea? And why now?
In support of this harmful bill, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) explained that the bill will “basically say in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield” and people can be imprisoned without charge or trial “American citizen or not.” Another supporter, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) also declared that the bill is needed because “America is part of the battlefield.”
The senators pushing the indefinite detention proposal have made their goals very clear that they want an okay for a worldwide military battlefield, that even extends to your hometown.
Part of an Ongoing Trend
While this is shocking, it is not occurring in a vacuum. Indeed, it is part of a 30 year-long process of militarization inside our borders and a destruction of the American concepts of limited government and separation of powers.
As I pointed out in May:
The ACLU noted yesterday [that] Congress is proposing handing permanent, world-wide war-making powers to the president – including the ability to make war within the United States:
As I noted in 2008:
An article in the Army Times reveals that the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team will be redeployed from Iraq to domestic operations within the United States.
The unit will soon be under the day-to-day control of US Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command. The Army Times reports this new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to Northern Command. The paper says the Army unit may be called upon to help with “civil unrest” and “crowd control”.
The soldiers are learning to use so-called “nonlethal weapons” designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals and crowds.
This violates posse comitatus and the Constitution. But, hey, we’re in a “national emergency”, so who cares, right?
I noted a couple of months later:
And everyone understands that staging troops within the U.S. to “help out with civil unrest and crowd control” increases the danger of overt martial law.
But no one is asking an obvious question: Does the government’s own excuse for deploying the troops make any sense?
Other Encroachments On Civil Rights Under Obama
As bad as Bush was, the truth is that, in many ways, freedom and constitutional rights are under attack even more than during the Bush years.
Obama has presided over the most draconian crackdown on leaks in our history — even more so than Nixon.
As Marjorie Cohen – professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and past president of the National Lawyers Guild – writes at the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy:
Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is facing court-martial for leaking military reports and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, is being held in solitary confinement in Quantico brig in Virginia. Each night, he is forced to strip naked and sleep in a gown made of coarse material. He has been made to stand naked in the morning as other inmates walked by and looked. As journalist Lance Tapley documents in his chapter on torture in the supermax prisons in The United States and Torture, solitary confinement can lead to hallucinations and suicide; it is considered to be torture. Manning’s forced nudity amounts to humiliating and degrading treatment, in violation of U.S. and international law.
Nevertheless, President Barack Obama defended Manning’s treatment, saying, “I’ve actually asked the Pentagon whether or not the procedures . . . are appropriate. They assured me they are.” Obama’s deference is reminiscent of President George W. Bush, who asked “the most senior legal officers in the U.S. government” to review the interrogation techniques. “They assured me they did not constitute torture,” Bush said.
After State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley criticized Manning’s conditions of confinement, the White House forced him to resign. Crowley had said the restrictions were “ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid.” It appears that Washington is more intent on sending a message to would-be whistleblowers than on upholding the laws that prohibit torture and abuse.
Torture is commonplace in countries strongly allied with the United States. Vice President Omar Suleiman, Egypt’s intelligence chief, was the lynchpin for Egyptian torture when the CIA sent prisoners to Egypt in its extraordinary rendition program. A former CIA agent observed, “If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear – never to see them again – you send them to Egypt.” In her chapter in The United States and Torture, New Yorker journalist Jane Mayer cites Egypt as the most common destination for suspects rendered by the United States.
As I pointed out in March:
Former constitutional law teacher Glenn Greenwald says that – in his defense of state secrecy, illegal spying, preventative detention, harassment of whistleblowers and other issues of civil liberties – Obama is even worse than Bush.
Indeed, Obama has authorized “targeted assassinations” against U.S. citizens. Even Bush didn’t openly do something so abhorrent to the rule of law.
Obama is trying to expand spying well beyond the Bush administration’s programs. Indeed, the Obama administration is arguing that citizens should never be able to sue the government for illegal spying.
And as I pointed out last year:
An FBI memo also labels peace protesters as “terrorists”.
A 2003 FBI memo describes protesters’ use of videotaping as an “intimidation” technique, even though – as the ACLU points out – “Most mainstream demonstrators often use videotape during protests to document law enforcement activity and, more importantly, deter police from acting outside the law.” The FBI appears to be objecting to the use of cameras to document unlawful behavior by law enforcement itself.
The Internet has been labeled as a breeding ground for terrorists, with anyone who questions the government’s versions of history being especially equated with terrorists.
Government agencies such as FEMA are allegedly teaching that the Founding Fathers should be considered terrorists.
Claims of “national security” are also used to keep basic financial information – such as who got bailout money – secret. That might not bode for particularly warm and friendly treatment for someone persistently demanding the release of such information.
The state of Missouri tried to label as terrorists current Congressman Ron Paul and his supporters, former Congressman Bob Barr, libertarians in general, anyone who holds gold, and a host of other people.
And according to a law school professor and former president of the National Lawyers Guild, pursuant to the Military Commissions Act:
Anyone who … speaks out against the government’s policies could be declared an “unlawful enemy combatant” and imprisoned indefinitely. That includes American citizens.
Obama has refused to reverse these practices.
There Is Still a Chance to Stop It
The ACLU notes that there is some hope:
But there is a way to stop this dangerous legislation. Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) is offering the Udall Amendment that will delete the harmful provisions and replace them with a requirement for an orderly Congressional review of detention power. The Udall Amendment will make sure that the bill matches up with American values.
The solution is the Udall Amendment; a way for the Senate to say no to indefinite detention without charge or trial anywhere in the world where any president decides to use the military. Instead of simply going along with a bill that was drafted in secret and is being jammed through the Senate, the Udall Amendment deletes the provisions and sets up an orderly review of detention power. It tries to take the politics out and put American values back in.
Now is the time to stop this bad idea. Please urge your senators to vote YES on the Udall Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act.
Congress to Vote Next Week on EXPLICITLY Creating a Police State was originally published on Washington’s Blog
ACLU seeks information on Michigan program that allows cops to download information from smart phones belonging to stopped motorists.
The Michigan State Police have a high-tech mobile forensics device that can be used to extract information from cell phones belonging to motorists stopped for minor traffic violations. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan last Wednesday demanded that state officials stop stonewalling freedom of information requests for information on the program.
ACLU learned that the police had acquired the cell phone scanning devices and in August 2008 filed an official request for records on the program, including logs of how the devices were used. The state police responded by saying they would provide the information only in return for a payment of $544,680. The ACLU found the charge outrageous.
“Law enforcement officers are known, on occasion, to encourage citizens to cooperate if they have nothing to hide,” ACLU staff attorney Mark P. Fancher wrote. “No less should be expected of law enforcement, and the Michigan State Police should be willing to assuage concerns that these powerful extraction devices are being used illegally by honoring our requests for cooperation and disclosure.”
A US Department of Justice test of the CelleBrite UFED used by Michigan police found the device could grab all of the photos and video off of an iPhone within one-and-a-half minutes. The device works with 3000 different phone models and can even defeat password protections.
“Complete extraction of existing, hidden, and deleted phone data, including call history, text messages, contacts, images, and geotags,” a CelleBrite brochure explains regarding the device’s capabilities. “The Physical Analyzer allows visualization of both existing and deleted locations on Google Earth. In addition, location information from GPS devices and image geotags can be mapped on Google Maps.”
The ACLU is concerned that these powerful capabilities are being quietly used to bypass Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches.
“With certain exceptions that do not apply here, a search cannot occur without a warrant in which a judicial officer determines that there is probable cause to believe that the search will yield evidence of criminal activity,” Fancher wrote. “A device that allows immediate, surreptitious intrusion into private data creates enormous risks that troopers will ignore these requirements to the detriment of the constitutional rights of persons whose cell phones are searched.”
The national ACLU is currently suing the Department of Homeland Security for its policy of warrantless electronic searches of laptops and cell phones belonging to people entering the country who are not suspected of committing any crime.