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Civil Liberties

Libertarian Party UK ‘1984’ campaign

++++ PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ++++

November 4th 2008

A COPY OF ORWELL’S ‘NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR’ SENT TO EVERY MP

An Internet grass-roots campaign will this week deliver a copy of George Orwell’s prophetic novel ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ to every Member of  Parliament.

The books will be inscribed with the words, ‘This book was a warning, not a blueprint’, and will arrive at Parliament on or before November 5th — a date of well known historical significance for that building.

—————

Outraged by the continual attack upon civil liberties within our nation, a fortnight ago the Libertarian Party proposed reminding those in  Westminster who they were elected to serve, and in whose interests the laws that they pass are meant to function.

Spread purely by word of mouth, a campaign to send each Member of Parliament their own copy of Orwell’s dystopian classic met with overwhelming support on the Internet, with many more books pledged than the 646 required to ensure that every one of our elected representatives receive a personal copy. The Libertarian Party contributed just 75 books itself, with the remainder coming (directly, or via campaign donations) from people of all political parties, and of none.

The UK Libertarian Party leader, Ian Parker-Joseph, explained, “As the people of Britain become ever more spied upon and ever more heavily taxed, as the government attempts to control how much we should smoke, eat and drink, as the state legislates to regulate ever more the minutiae of our lives, the Libertarian… Continue reading

Bush Spy Revelations Anticipated When Obama Is Sworn In

Privacy Advocates Expect Whistleblowers to Share Warrantless Wiretap Info After
Inauguration Day

By RYAN SINGEL
Nov. 11, 2008

When Barack Obama takes the oath of office on January 20, Americans won’t just
get a new president; they might finally learn the full extent of George W. Bush’s
warrantless domestic wiretapping.

Since The New York Times first revealed in 2005 that the NSA was eavesdropping
on citizens’ overseas phone calls and e-mail, few additional details about the
massive "Terrorist Surveillance Program" have emerged. That’s because
the Bush administration has stonewalled, misled and denied documents to Congress,
and subpoenaed the phone records of the investigative reporters.

Now privacy advocates are hopeful that President Obama will be more forthcoming
with information. But for the quickest and most honest account of Bush’s illegal
policies, they say don’t look to the incoming president. Watch instead for the
hidden army of would-be whistle-blowers who’ve been waiting for Inauguration
Day to open the spigot on the truth.

"I’d bet there are a lot of career employees in the intelligence agencies
who’ll be glad to see Obama take the oath so they can finally speak out against
all this illegal spying and get back to their real mission," says Caroline
Fredrickson, the ACLU’s Washington D.C. legislative director.

New Yorker investigative reporter Seymour Hersh already has a slew of sources
waiting to spill the Bush administration’s darkest secrets, he said in an interview
last month. "You cannot believe how many people have told me to call them
on January… Continue reading

9/11 Victims’ Families Challenge Legitimacy Of Guantánamo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT:
(212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org
December 10, 2008

NEW YORK — The American Civil Liberties Union today released a statement from 31 9/11 victims’ family members challenging the legitimacy of the Guantánamo military commissions and their ability to achieve justice.

Below is the full text of the statement:

9/11 FAMILY MEMBERS CHALLENGE LEGITIMACY OF GUANTÁNAMO MILITARY COMMISSIONS

As family members who lost loved ones on 9/11, we feel compelled to speak out about this week’s proceedings at Guantánamo. Recently, the Guantánamo military commissions office announced that victims’ family members would be permitted, on a lottery basis, to attend the Guantánamo legal hearings of those accused of planning the 9/11 attacks. The lottery system inherently results in the granting of media attention to the select few who are chosen, and whose views are not necessarily representative of all victims’ families. The media coverage of Monday’s commission hearings included statements attributed to attending family members that the tribunals provided a fair hearing for these prosecutions and that family members “were struck by the extensive rights accorded the accused men.”

While we support everyone’s right to their individual opinions about these proceedings, including, of course, other family members who have suffered the devastation we have, we also feel obliged to make clear that many of us do not believe these military commissions to be fair, in accordance with American values, or capable of achieving the justice that 9/11 family members and all Americans deserve.

We believe that the secretive and unconstitutional… Continue reading

What Does Letting Our Own War Criminals Go Free Tell Us About Ourselves?

by Nat Hentoff
December 10, 2008
Village Voice

Since I live in the Village, my Congressman is Jerrold Nadler, a civil libertarian for all seasons. Unlike many of his Democratic colleagues, he has never been in fear of being targeted as “soft on terrorism” for opposing the Bush-Cheney war on the Bill of Rights. Nadler certainly does not  underestimate the jihadists: The 9/11 attacks exploded in his district.

In The Almanac of American Politics, Michael Barone describes Nadler’s reaction to that day of terror: Securing “$20 billion for the cleanup and eventual rebuilding, he spearheaded numerous actions on behalf of affected families . . .” but “Nadler remained true to his civil libertarian views. He vigorously opposed the USA Patriot Act and the Iraq War Resolution.” And since 2007, he has chaired the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties.

In that subcommittee, and on the floor of the House, he fought Bush (and some Democrats) in order to give “enemy combatants” their habeas corpus rights. (The Supreme Court has agreed.) And, unlike many Democrats, he has worked to narrow the very definition of “enemy combatant,” which is especially important. Under the Military Commissions Act of 2006, voted for by too many Democrats, anyone held as a captured “detainee” in a military prison can be charged with giving “material support” to the enemy and can be locked up indefinitely. American citizens have also been held on this charge–which could include giving money to a charity they weren’t aware… Continue reading

Court Rules Patriot Act’s ‘National Security Letter’ Gag Provisions Unconstitutional

Image of ACLU banner

Court Rules Patriot Act’s “National Security Letter” Gag Provisions Unconstitutional (12/15/2008)

ACLU Hails Victory In Challenge To Government’s Power To Silence NSL Recipients

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

NEW YORK — A federal appeals court today upheld, in part, a decision striking down provisions of the Patriot Act that prevent national security letter (NSL) recipients from speaking out about the secret records demands. The decision comes in an American Civil Liberties Union and New York Civil Liberties Union lawsuit challenging the FBI’s authority to use NSLs to demand sensitive and private customer records from Internet Service Providers and then forbid them from discussing the requests. Siding with the ACLU, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit found that the statute’s gag provisions violate the First Amendment.

“We are gratified that the appeals court found that the FBI cannot silence people with complete disregard for the First Amendment simply by saying the words ‘national security,'” said Melissa Goodman, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. “This is a major victory for the rule of law. The court recognized the need for judicial oversight of the government’s dangerous gag power and rejected the Bush administration’s position that the courts should just rubber-stamp these gag orders. By upholding the critical check of judicial review, the FBI can no longer use this incredible power to hide abuse of its intrusive Patriot Act surveillance powers and silence critics.”

The appeals court invalidated parts of the statute that wrongly placed the… Continue reading

Career Army officer sues Rumsfeld, Cheney, saying no evacuation order given on 9/11

Stephen C. Webster
RawStory.com

A career Army officer who survived the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, claims that no evacuation was ordered inside the Pentagon, despite flight controllers calling in warnings of approaching hijacked aircraft nearly 20 minutes before the building was struck.

According to a time-line of the attacks, the Federal Aviation Administration notified NORAD that American Airlines Flight 77 had been hijacked at 9:24 a.m. The Pentagon was not struck until 9:43 a.m.

On behalf of retired Army officer April Gallop, California attorney William Veale has filed a civil suit against former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney and former US Air Force General Richard Myers, who was acting chairman of the joint chiefs on 9/11. It alleges they engaged in conspiracy to facilitate the terrorist attacks and purposefully failed to warn those inside the Pentagon, contributing to injuries she and her two-month-old son incurred.

“The ex-G.I. plaintiff alleges she has been denied government support since then, because she raised ‘painful questions’ about the inexplicable failure of military defenses at the Pentagon that day, and especially the failure of officials to warn and evacuate the occupants of the building when they knew the attack was imminent” said Veale in a media advisory.

Gallop also says she heard two loud explosions, and does not believe that a Boeing 757 hit the building. Her son sustained a serious brain injury, and Gallop herself was knocked unconscious after the roof collapsed onto her office.

The suit also named… Continue reading

Obama, the military and the threat of dictatorship

by Bill Van Auken
World Socialist Web Site

With his choice of Admiral Dennis Blair as director of national intelligence, President-elect Barack Obama has now named three recently retired four-star military officers to serve in his cabinet. This unprecedented representation of the senior officer corps within the incoming Democratic administration is indicative of a growth in the political power of the US military that poses a serious threat to basic democratic rights.

As head of the US military’s Pacific command in 1999-2000, Blair was distinguished by his efforts to solidarize the Pentagon with the military of Indonesia as it carried out butchery in East Timor, effectively vetoing the half-hearted human rights concerns voiced by the Clinton administration.

Before tapping Blair, Obama named former Marine Gen. James Jones as his national security adviser and former Army chief of staff Gen. Erik Shinseki as secretary of veterans affairs. It is also reported that the incoming administration may ask retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden to stay on as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Washington Post last Saturday described this concentration of former senior officers in the administration as “an unusual trend for a Democratic administration and one that has surprised both political camps.”

The appointments follow the announcement that Robert Gates, Bush’s defense secretary, will stay on at the Pentagon, where multiple “transition teams” are at work to assure that continuity is maintained in America’s ongoing wars of aggression and that the immense power of the military remains unchecked.

Earlier… Continue reading

Martial Law, the Financial Bailout, and War

by Peter Dale Scott
January 7, 2009

Paulson’s Financial Bailout

It is becoming clear that the bailout measures of late 2008 may have consequences at least as grave for an open society as the response to 9/11 in 2001. Many members of Congress felt coerced into voting against their inclinations, and the normal procedures for orderly consideration of a bill were dispensed with.

The excuse for bypassing normal legislative procedures was the existence of an emergency. But one of the most reprehensible features of the legislation, that it allowed Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to permit bailed-out institutions to use public money for exorbitant salaries and bonuses, was inserted by Paulson after the immediate crisis had passed.

According to Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vermont) the bailout bill originally called for a cap on executive salaries, but Paulson changed the requirement at the last minute. Welch and other members of Congress were enraged by “news that banks getting taxpayer-funded bailouts are still paying exorbitant salaries, bonuses, and other benefits.”1 In addition, as AP reported in October, “Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. questioned allowing banks that accept bailout bucks to continue paying dividends on their common stock. `There are far better uses of taxpayer dollars than continuing dividend payments to shareholders,” he said.”2

Even more reprehensible is the fact that since the bailouts, Paulson and the Treasury Department have refused to provide details of the Troubled Assets Relief Program spending of hundreds of billions of dollars, while the New York Federal Reserve has… Continue reading

Feds Drop Case Against Accused Iraqi Agent

Originally published at “Scoop” Independent News by Michael Collins

“The Government has determined that continued prosecution of this case as to LINDAUER would not be in the interests of justice.” *

(Jan. 16, Wash. DC) The Department of Justice entered a motion to drop all charges against Susan Lindauer yesterday morning, Jan. 15, 2009. The filing (see below) at the federal district court in lower Manhattan ends the government’s attempt to prosecute her for allegedly acting as an “unregistered agent” for Iraq. Since her arrest in early 2004, she has repeatedly asked for a trial to present evidence that she had been a United States intelligence asset since the early 1990’s.

By filing this order, the government surrendered forever its ability to prosecute Lindauer as an “Iraqi foreign agent” and for lesser charges contained in the indictment, including a one week trip to Baghdad in March, 2002.

Lindauer made the following statement today, Jan 16, 2009: “I am disgusted by this case. They think that they have defeated me by denying my day in court. It could not be more wrong. If we can’t have a criminal trial, we’re going to have a civil trial for damages.”

Lindauer was arrested in March, 2004 shortly after offering to testify before a Bush appointed blue ribbon commission evaluating U.S. pre-war intelligence on Iraq. In late February, she informed the offices of two commission members, Sen. McCain (R-AZ) and Trent Lott (R-MS), that she could testify that U.S. pre-war intelligence was proactive and… Continue reading

Whistleblower: NSA spied on everyone, targeted journalists

David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Wednesday January 21, 2009
RawStory.com

Russell Tice talks with Keith Olbermann on Countdown, January 21, 2009

Former National Security Agency analyst Russell Tice, who helped expose the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping in December 2005, has now come forward with even more startling allegations. Tice told MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann on Wednesday that the programs that spied on Americans were not only much broader than previously acknowledged but specifically targeted journalists.

“The National Security Agency had access to all Americans’ communications — faxes, phone calls, and their computer communications,” Tice claimed. “It didn’t matter whether you were in Kansas, in the middle of the country, and you never made foreign communications at all. They monitored all communications.”

Tice further explained that “even for the NSA it’s impossible to literally collect all communications. … What was done was sort of an ability to look at the metadata … and ferret that information to determine what communications would ultimately be collected.”

According to Tice, in addition to this “low-tech, dragnet” approach, the NSA also had the ability to hone in on specific groups, and that was the aspect he himself was involved with. However, even within the NSA there was a cover story meant to prevent people like Tice from realizing what they were doing.

“In one of the operations that I was in, we looked at organizations, just supposedly so that we would not target them,” Tice told Olbermann. “What I was finding out, though, is that… Continue reading

PBS: NSA could have prevented 9/11 hijackings

Muriel Kane

RawStory.com

The super-secretive National Security Agency has been quietly monitoring, decrypting, and interpreting foreign communications for decades, starting long before it came under criticism as a result of recent revelations about the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. Now a forthcoming PBS documentary asks whether the NSA could have prevented 9/11 if it had been more willing to share its data with other agencies.

Author James Bamford looked into the performance of the NSA in his 2008 book, The Shadow Factory, and found that it had been closely monitoring the 9/11 hijackers as they moved freely around the United States and communicated with Osama bin Laden’s operations center in Yemen. The NSA had even tapped bin Laden’s satellite phone, starting in 1996.

“The NSA never alerted any other agency that the terrorists were in the United States and moving across the country towards Washington,” Bamford told PBS.

PBS also found that “the 9/11 Commission never looked closely into NSA’s role in the broad intelligence breakdown behind the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. If they had, they would have understood the full extent to which the agency had major pieces of the puzzle but never put them together or disclosed their entire body of knowledge to the CIA and the FBI.”

In a review of Bamford’s book, former senator and 9/11 Commission member Bob Kerrey wrote, “As the 9/11 Commission later established, U.S. intelligence officials knew that al-Qaeda had held a planning meeting in Malaysia, found out the names of two recruits who had been present — Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi — and suspected that one and maybe both of them had flown to Los Angeles.…

Continue reading

Former Accused Iraqi Agent Susan Lindauer, Secret Charges and The Patriot Act in Action

by Michael Collins

‘Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to 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 any country.” — Herman Goering, Interview at Nuremburg Trials, April 14, 1946

“The Patriot Act was used against me in total contradiction to its stated purpose. Or perhaps it was the most logical use of the law, since it establishes a legal framework to crush free thinking and interrupt individual questioning of the government. It is the beginning of all dictatorship in America .” –Susan Lindauer, March 9, 2009

March 10, 2009 — Washington, DC ( electionfraudnews.com ) — In March, 2004 Susan Lindauer was arrested for allegedly acting as an “unregistered agent” for prewar Iraq.  She challenged the government’s assertion and sought the right to prove at Trial that she’d been a United States intelligence asset covering Iraq and Libya from the early 1990’s through 2003 (see articles).

In an unprecedented judicial ploy that lasted five years, federal prosecutors blocked Ms. Lindauer’s rights to trial or any other sort of evidentiary hearings that would test her story. For 11 months, she was confined at Carswell federal prison on a Texas military base and at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, without a conviction or plea bargain.

During the indictment, she was conveniently gagged from sharing… Continue reading

Judge defends pretrial secrecy of 9/11 documents

By LARRY NEUMEISTER
Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — NEW YORK — A judge said Wednesday he favors keeping Sept. 11-related documents and interviews secret until the trials for several families of victims suing the airline industry, an opinion that upset several victims’ family members.

Donald Migliori, a lawyer for families of three people who died on hijacked planes in the 2001 attacks, asked U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein to make nearly a million pages of evidence and 200 depositions public, saying there was no reason for secrecy.

Hellerstein did not rule, but he said he favored not publically disclosing evidence that had been gathered and shared with lawyers for the victims under a confidentiality agreement until a trial occurs. No trial has yet been scheduled.

He said the confidentiality agreement speeded a pretrial process that enabled more than 90 families of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks to settle their cases. Only three families have not settled.

Michael Rowe Feagley, a lawyer for the aviation defendants, said it would not be fair to make all of the pretrial evidence public now, especially since defendants had turned over so much with the understanding that it would remain confidential before trial. He said it would take “extraordinary circumstances and an extreme need for it” to force its public release.

Mike Low, the father of a flight attendant who died on one of the hijacked planes, said afterwards that he was disappointed but not surprised by Hellerstein’s position.

Low sued in spring 2003 on behalf of his daughter, Sara Low, 28, a Boston-based flight attendant who died when American Airlines Flight 11 struck the World Trade Center.…

Continue reading

Cowardice in the Time of Torture

By Ray McGovern
April 5, 2009
ConsortiumNews.com

I used to take a certain pride by association with prominent Bronxites who have “made it.” Cancel that for Attorney General Eric Holder and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

You might think that as African-Americans, they would be especially outraged by torture, given what blacks have suffered at the hands of white torturers in this country and abroad.

Why is it that they seem to value more their admittance into a privileged white-dominated ruling class than doing the right thing? How else to explain their stunning reluctance to hold torturers accountable and thus remove the stain of torture from our nation’s soul and reputation?

One might say that Attorney General Holder is proving himself to be part of that “nation of cowards” that he called the United States in a different context, i.e. our unwillingness to address the issue of race. What about when the victims of torture are Muslims? Where’s Holder’s courage then?

Surely, I was not the only one stunned by former Vice President Dick Cheney’s public admission that he helped authorize waterboarding of detainees. But, on reflection, there seems to have been a method to his madness; and, so far at least, the method seems to be working.

Have Holder and Colin Powell forgotten from their days growing up in the Bronx the typical reaction of bullies when caught in the act? “Okay, so waddaya gonna do ’bout it!” It was an attempt at intimidation, and it was generally… Continue reading

Resist or Become Serfs

April 6, 2009
By Chris Hedges
Truthdig.com and International Clearinghouse

America is devolving into a third-world nation. And if we do not immediately halt our elite’s rapacious looting of the public treasury we will be left with trillions in debts, which can never be repaid, and widespread human misery which we will be helpless to ameliorate. Our anemic democracy will be replaced with a robust national police state. The elite will withdraw into heavily guarded gated communities where they will have access to security, goods and services that cannot be afforded by the rest of us. Tens of millions of people, brutally controlled, will live in perpetual poverty. This is the inevitable result of unchecked corporate capitalism. The stimulus and bailout plans are not about saving us. They are about saving them. We can resist, which means street protests, disruptions of the system and demonstrations, or become serfs.

We have been in a steady economic decline for decades. The Canadian political philosopher John Ralston Saul detailed this decline in his 1992 book “Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West.” David Cay Johnston exposed the mirage and rot of American capitalism in “Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You With the Bill),” and David C. Korten, in “When Corporations Rule the World” and “Agenda for a New Economy,” laid out corporate malfeasance and abuse. But our universities and mass media, entranced by power and naively believing that global capitalism was an… Continue reading

Jane Harman: Angry, partisan, civil liberties extremist

April 21, 2009
by Glenn Greenwald
Salon.com

Blue Dog Rep. Jane Harman — once the most vigorous Democratic cheerleader of Bush’s NSA warrantless eavesdropping program — is rip-roarin’ angry today. Apparently, her private conversations were eavesdropped on by the U.S. Government! This is a grave outrage that, as she told Andrea Mitchell just moments ago, demands a probing investigation:

That’s what I asked Attorney General Holder to do — to release any tapes, I don’t know whether they were legally made or not, of my conservations about this matter . . . and to hope that he will investigate whether other members of Congress or other innocent Americans might have been subject to this same treatment. I call it an abuse of power in the letter I wrote him this morning.

. . .

I’m just very disappointed that my country — I’m an American citizen just like you are — could have  permitted what I think is a gross abuse of power in recent years. I’m one member of Congress who may be caught up in it, and I have a bully pulpit and I can fight back. I’m thinking about others who have no bully pulpit, who may not be aware, as I was not, that someone is listening in on their conversations, and they’re innocent Americans.

So if I understand this correctly — and I’m pretty sure I do — when the U.S. Government eavesdropped for years on American citizens with no warrants and in violation of… Continue reading

Torture, War and the Imperial Project: The Fatal Thread

April 22, 2009
By Chris Floyd
Counterpunch.org

With the release of the U.S. Senate’s report on the Bush Administration torture program, it is now incontrovertibly clear — and officially established by the highest, most respectable Establishment institutions — that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and a host of other top officials deliberately, willingly, and with malice aforethought, established a system of interrogation using brutal techniques that they knew were against the law. Hence the need for the torture memos that attempted to give retroactive legal cover for atrocities that were already taking place at the orders of the White House and the Pentagon. They were also told repeatedly that these tortures were ineffective at producing useful intelligence.

What’s more, it is now undeniable that they began this program long before they had captured even one “high-profile al Qaeda detainee,” and that they were using these heinous techniques not in a desperate bid to save the nation from further attacks — which has long been their preening, self-serving claim — but instead to produce spurious data about the non-existent link between Iraq and al Qaeda. In other words, George Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld ordered their minions to beat and torment captives in order to get them to say something a — anything — that could then be used to “justify” a war of aggression that these grand statesmen had been planning long before the September 11 attacks.

You cannot disentangle the torture program from the war… Continue reading

Exclusive: How MI5 blackmails British Muslims

‘Work for us or we will say you are a terrorist’
By Robert Verkaik, Law Editor
21 May 2009
independent.co.uk

Five Muslim community workers have accused MI5 of waging a campaign of blackmail and harassment in an attempt to recruit them as informants.

The men claim they were given a choice of working for the Security Service or face detention and harassment in the UK and overseas.

They have made official complaints to the police, to the body which oversees the work of the Security Service and to their local MP Frank Dobson. Now they have decided to speak publicly about their experiences in the hope that publicity will stop similar tactics being used in the future.

Continued at source