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Posts Tagged ‘Bill of Rights’

A federal protection that comes with exemptions is no protection at all. Note that the feds do not vouch for the accuracy of the information they secretly keep. This is a formula for gross abuse.

Last Friday, the federal government’s new anti-terror database, the Terror Screening Watchlist Service, went live. The database is loaded with an unknown amount of personal information, including names, photographs and biometric data. In a new turn that has civil liberties advocates crying foul, the Department of Homeland Security is claiming all information contained in the watchlist is confidential.

Earlier today, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and several other groups filed a formal complaint with DHS about the blanket exemptions to the Privacy Act.

Under DHS’ rules guidelines for the Terror Watch Lists, individuals “do not have an opportunity to decline to provide information” for the database, and cannot obtain the relevant information through the Federal Privacy Act. The Privacy Act is one of the milestone reforms passed in the wake of the Watergate spying scandal. It permits individuals to obtain law enforcement files about them by the government, with the intent of correcting incorrect information.

Read the rest at KALW News.

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More and more, both houses of the U.S. Congress are demonstrating that they are merely ceremonial bodies that rubber-stamp legislation that advances the corporate, defense, and financial interests that own them.

An amendment offered on May 24 by Sen. Ron Wyden would have challenged the Administration’s reliance on what he called “secret law” and required the Attorney General to explain the legal basis for its intelligence collection activities under the USA PATRIOT Act.  But that and other proposed amendments to the PATRIOT Act have been blocked in the Senate.

“The public will be surprised… when they learn about some of the interpretations of the PATRIOT Act,” Sen. Wyden said, based on his access to classified correspondence between the Justice Department and the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“U.S. Government officials should not secretly reinterpret public laws and statutes in a manner that is inconsistent with the public’s understanding of these laws or describe the execution of these laws in a way that misinforms or misleads the public.”

Read the rest at Secrecy News.

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Denver cops aren’t known for being warm and cuddly. See also Denver Man Beaten for Offering to Testify against Cops.

On the night of January 15, 2009, nineteen-year-old Community College of Denver student Alexander Landau was stopped by Denver police for allegedly making an illegal left turn. But according to a federal complaint filed yesterday, within minutes of the stop Landau was being beaten by three Denver cops, two of whom were wielding a radio and a flashlight as bludgeons. When it was all over, he was taken to Denver Health to be treated for a broken nose, lacerations and closed head injuries — but not before he demanded somebody take photos of him.

The lengthy and detailed complaint is the latest in a string of high-profile cases of alleged police brutality incidents that have captured local headlines and led to the resignation of Denver Manager of Safety Ron Perea. The issue was even discussed during the swearing-in ceremony of interim mayor Bill Vidal earlier today.

Landau’s story may add fuel to the fire — especially since one of the officers named in his complaint, Randy Murr, also played a role in the controversial police beating of Michael deHerrera. The complaint filed on Landau’s behalf notes that in the process of the traffic stop, police found marijuana on Landau’s passenger, a fellow student named Addison Hunold, and proceeded to search Landau’s car. Apparently the situation spun out of control when the cops asked Landau if they could search his trunk and Landau stepped towards them, asking if they had a warrant. Allegedly the three officers then on the scene – Murr, Ricky Nixon and Tiffany Middleton — then proceeded to punch him in the face and then, once he fell over, beat him for several minutes, with one officer yelling, “He’s going for the gun.” According to the complaint, when it was all over, Landau heard one officer say to him, “Where’s that warrant now, you fucking nigger?

Read the rest at Denver Westword.

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From Alex Jones and Infowars.com:

A plethora of tyrannical campaigns have been initiated and designed to break up communities and turn citizens against one another. The justifications for these fascist programs are always a matter of national security. The real reason for these programs and even the events that brought them into existence is to set up a police control grid.

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This is intimidation, pure and simple. Fundamental legal protections have been swept away in the “war on terror”—whose putative purpose was to go after scary bearded men living in caves—and the state is now going after citizens who speak out against government corruption. When will they come knocking on “Government Against the People”‘s door? When will they come knocking on your door?

A local blogger who was critical of Rep. Billy Long during last year’s congressional campaign has been interviewed by the FBI about his encounters with the congressman.

Clay Bowler, who lives in Christian County, says he was shocked to find an agent from the Federal Bureau of Investigation at his doorstep. Accompanying the agent was Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott.

The agent asked Bowler if he was a threat to Long, a notion Bowler finds laughable.

“I’m not a threat to Billy Long,” Bowler said Thursday. “I find the whole thought very funny, because I’m such an advocate for constitutional rights that I would never do anything that would put in jeopardy those constitutional rights like the Second Amendment.”

Read the rest at KSPR Television.

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The author of this column claims that the sole purpose of the Dept. of Homeland security is to provide bonanzas for favored congressional districts. Its purpose goes further than that: To maintain a constant mood of low-level fear so the people will continue going along with government abuses of power.

Hardly anyone has seriously scrutinized either the priorities or the spending patterns of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its junior partner, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), since their hurried creation in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Sure, they get criticized plenty. But year in, year out, they continue to grow faster and cost more — presumably because Americans think they are being protected from terrorism by all that spending. Yet there is no evidence whatsoever that the agencies are making Americans any safer.

DHS serves only one clear purpose: to provide unimaginable bonanzas for favored congressional districts around the United States, most of which face no statistically significant security threat at all. One thinks of the $436,504 that the Blackfeet Nation of Montana received in fiscal 2010 “to help strengthen the nation against risks associated with potential terrorist attacks”; the $1,000,000 that the village of Poynette, Wisconsin (pop. 2,266) received in fiscal 2009 for an “emergency operations center”; or the $67,000 worth of surveillance equipment purchased by Marin County, California, and discovered, still in its original packaging, four years later. And indeed, every U.S. state, no matter how landlocked or underpopulated, receives, by law, a fixed percentage of homeland security spending every year.

As for the TSA, I am not aware of a single bomber or bomb plot stopped by its time-wasting procedures. In fact, TSA screeners consistently fail to spot the majority of fake “bombs” and bomb parts the agency periodically plants to test their skills. In Los Angeles, whose airport was targeted by the “millennium plot” on New Year’s 2000, screeners failed some 75 percent of these tests.

Read the rest at Foreign Policy.

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