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; firstname.lastname@example.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
“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
Privacy Advocates Expect Whistleblowers to Share Warrantless Wiretap Info After
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
Bead Collective, Twin Cities Indymedia, and other independent media activists
have released a new film, ‘Terrorizing Dissent’, an exposé of events
at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Featuring first-person accounts and footage from more than forty cameras on
the streets, ‘Terrorizing Dissent’ focuses on the story of dissent suppressed.
People charged with “conspiracy to riot in furtherance of terrorism”
speak out against the government’s campaign to manipulate media coverage and
label civil disobedience and community organizing as terrorism.
“If civil disobedience becomes framed as ‘terrorism’ … that’s baloney.
And the reason they’re waving the T-word around, there’s one reason and
one reason only, because they want to squash dissent and they want to justify
what the police do in the effort of squashing that dissent.”
Michelle Gross, Communities United Against Police Brutality
‘Terrorizing Dissent’ shows the results of the $50 million dollars the Department
of Homeland Security gave to local authorities for security — a large
chunk of which went to weaponize the police — and the $10 million insurance
policy contract between the RNC Host Committee and the City of St. Paul, which
shattered Minnesota’s civil compact between protesters and police.
Full Movie Now Available to Watch Online
Check out the Downloads Page for the latest video versions available.
Disk Image for DVD Burning Available Now
Screenings, Screenings, Screenings
by Mickey Huff, Associate Director of Project Censored
Project Censored, the media research group at Sonoma State University (SSU), has just released it’s annual report on the top stories that didn’t make the corporate mainstream news from the past year. The book is published by Seven Stories Press. Censored 2009, edited by director Dr. Peter Phillips with Dr. Andrew Roth, exposes the major stories Americans should know and care about that the “free press” just doesn’t deliver. The top stories for this year can be viewed at the PC website and the piece in the North Bay Bohemian can be read here.
Project Censored award winning journalist and researcher Stephen Lendman has just written about the Project in a piece titled Project Censored‘s Media Democracy Advocacy which looks at the history of the Project as well as details in this year’s volume. A lecture series hosting authors of this years top censored stories is presently underway at SSU for those in the Bay Area wishing to attend. The series is being broadcast at Free Speech TV this fall as well.
As acting Associate Director of Project Censored, I invite everyone to explore this year’s book and help support media democracy in action. Our currently calamitous and critical condition as a fragile free society depends upon a well informed citizenry and I strongly believe that Project Censored is a major force in the direction of strengthening our society’s democratic institutions and principles. Help spread the word if you… Continue reading
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 16, 2008 CONTACT: Jason Lemieux, email@example.com, 760-409-9403 or Kristofer Goldsmith, firstname.lastname@example.org, 516-457-1260
Iraq War Veterans Arrested While Attempting to Deliver Questions to Obama and McCain
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — One hour before the final presidential debate of the 2008 campaign, fourteen members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) marched in formation to Hofstra University to present questions to the candidates. IVAW had requested permission from debate moderator Bob Schieffer to ask their questions during the debate, but received no response.
The contingent of veterans in dress and combat uniforms attempted to enter the building where the debate was to be held in order to ask questions about poor veterans’ healthcare and supporting war resisters of the candidates, but were turned back by police. IVAW members at the front of the formation were immediately arrested, and others were pushed back into the crowd by police on horseback. Several members were injured, including former Army Sergeant Nick Morgan who suffered a broken cheekbone when he was trampled by police horses before being arrested.
“Neither of the candidates has shown real support for service members and veterans. We came here to try and have serious questions answered, questions that we as veterans of the Iraq war have a right to ask, but instead we were arrested. We will continue to ask these questions no matter who is elected. We believe that the time has come to end this war and bring our troops home, and we will be pushing for that no matter what happens in this election.” said Jason Lemieux, a former Sergeant in the US Marine Corps who served three tours in Iraq, and member of IVAW.…Continue reading
U.S. Officers’ “Phone Sex” Intercepted; Senate Demanding Answers By Brian Ross, Vic Walter and Anna Schecter
Despite pledges by President George W. Bush and American intelligence officials to the contrary, hundreds of US citizens overseas have been eavesdropped on as they called friends and family back home, according to two former military intercept operators who worked at the giant National Security Agency (NSA) center in Fort Gordon, Georgia.
The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), called the allegations “extremely disturbing” and said the committee has begun its own examination.
“We have requested all relevant information from the Bush Administration,” Rockefeller said Thursday. “The Committee will take whatever action is necessary.”
WATCH THE NIGHTLINE STORY
“These were just really everyday, average, ordinary Americans who happened to be in the Middle East, in our area of intercept and happened to be making these phone calls on satellite phones,” said Adrienne Kinne, a 31-year old US Army Reserves Arab linguist assigned to a special military program at the NSA’s Back Hall at Fort Gordon from November 2001 to 2003.
Kinne described the contents of the calls as “personal, private things with Americans who are not in any way, shape or form associated with anything to do with terrorism.”
WATCH Kinne discuss why it was ‘awkward’ listening to her fellow Americans.
She said US military officers, American journalists and American aid workers were routinely intercepted and “collected on” as they called their offices or homes in the United States.
Watch “World… Continue reading
Guidelines Released Amid Protest from Congress, Privacy Groups and American Public
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — 10/3/2008
CONTACT: (202) 675-2312 or email@example.com
(212) 519-7829 or 549-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Washington, DC — New FBI guidelines governing investigations were released today after being signed by Attorney General Michael Mukasey. The American Civil Liberties Union quickly blasted the Department of Justice and FBI for ignoring calls for more stringent protections of Americans’ rights. The guidelines replace existing bureau guidelines for five types of investigations: general criminal, national security, foreign intelligence, civil disorders and demonstrations. The ACLU has been vocal in its disapproval of the overly broad guidelines, citing both the FBI’s and DOJ’s documented records of internal abuse.
The new guidelines reduce standards for beginning “assessments” (precursors to investigations), conducting surveillance and gathering evidence, meaning the threshold to beginning investigations across the board will be lowered. More troubling still, the guidelines allow a person’s race or ethnic background to be used as a factor in opening an investigation, a move the ACLU believes may institute racial profiling as a matter of policy.
“The attorney general today gave the FBI a blank check to open investigations of innocent Americans based on no meaningful suspicion of wrongdoing,” said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. “The new guidelines provide no safeguards against the FBI’s improperly using race and religion as grounds for suspicion. They also fail to sufficiently prevent the government from infiltrating groups whose viewpoints it doesn’t like. The FBI has shown time and… Continue reading
By Tom Burghardt From Antifascist Calling…Exploring the shadowlands of the corporate police state
The Washington Post revealed Friday that the FBI is continuing its systematic violation of Americans’ Fourth Amendment guarantees against “unreasonable searches and seizures.”
A Justice Department report concluded that the Bureau had repeatedly abused its intelligence gathering “privileges” by issuing bogus “national security letters” (NSLs) from 2003-2006. On at least one occasion, the FBI relied on an illegally-issued NSL to circumvent a ruling by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to obtain records the secret court deemed protected by the First Amendment.
While the Bush regime claims that the Bureau requires sweeping authority to invade the privacy of American citizens to “protect the homeland” from the Afghan-Arab database of disposable intelligence assets, al-Qaeda, Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine determined that fully “60 percent of the nearly 50,000 security letters issued that year  by the FBI targeted Americans,” according to Post reporter Dan Eggen.
Despite the FISA court twice rejecting Bureau requests to obtain sensitive private records, determining “the ‘facts’ were too thin” and the “request implicated the target’s First Amendment rights,” the FBI used an NSL as a “work around” and proceeded anyway.
The stunning disregard for all legal norms under the Bush regime is encapsulated by FBI general counsel Valerie E. Caproni’s statement to investigators that “it was appropriate to issue the letters in such cases because she disagreed with the court’s conclusions.”
Fine asserted in the Inspector General’s report that the Bureau has… Continue reading
Take Action and save the life of Dr. Sami Al-Arian!
Save a life! Palestinian activist Dr. Sami Al-Arian was acquitted in 2005
of bogus "terrorism" charges by a Tampa Bay jury, yet he still remains
imprisoned in the United States.
Dr. Sami Al-Arian is currently on the fifteenth day of a no food or water hunger
strike to protest the legal manipulations and harassment by the Bush Administration
that are keeping him behind bars despite his acquittal by jury and subsequent
plea bargain (signed under significant pressure from the U.S. government) that
promised his release in May of 2006.
Dr. Al-Arian, a diabetic, is already losing his eyesight and is in extraordinary
danger of renal failure. The federal medical facility where he has been moved
to in Bunter, North Carolina has not given him an IV, despite their legal obligation
to keep him alive. The situation is urgent! Please write immediately to your
elected officials and the federal medical facility to protest this legal harassment
and torture and to demand his release. Dr. Al-Arian’s life depends on it.
Specifically, please contact (call and email):
Honorable Judge Gerald Lee
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
401 Courthouse Square, Alexandria, VA 22314
Fax: (703) 299-3339
The Honorable John Conyers, Jr
2426 Rayburn Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-0072 Fax
Senator Patrick Leahy
433 Russell Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Attorney General Michael Mukasey
Department of Justice
AP Chief: Press Freedoms Are Among Casualties of Terrorist Attacks
Mar 06, 2008
The shadow of the Sept. 11 terror attacks is eclipsing press freedom and other
constitutional safeguards in the United States, Associated Press President and
CEO Tom Curley said Thursday.
“What has become clear in the aftermath of 9/11 is how much expediency
trumps safeguards,” Curley said during the annual dinner of the Radio and
Television News Directors Foundation.
“Congress steps back from its constitutional role of executive oversight.
Civilian oversight of the military wanes. A Justice Department interprets laws
in ways that extend police powers. More drastically, prisons are established
in places where government or military operatives circumvent due process or
control trials,” Curley said in accepting the foundation’s First Amendment
“It’s at moments like these when a free press matters most,” he said.
Curley was selected for his role in pushing for more openness in government
and for emphasizing reporting on First Amendment issues. That includes efforts
by the AP to establish the Sunshine in Government Initiative, a news media coalition
that presses for strengthening Freedom of Information laws and for greater government
Also receiving First Amendment honors from the foundation Thursday were CBS
News correspondent Bob Schieffer and NBC Universal vice president Paula Madison.
A special award also recognized former Federal Communications Commission Chairman
U.S. Agents Seize Travelers’ Devices
By Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 7, 2008; Page A01
Nabila Mango, a therapist and a U.S. citizen who has lived in the country since
1965, had just flown in from Jordan last December when, she said, she was detained
at customs and her cellphone was taken from her purse. Her daughter, waiting
outside San Francisco International Airport, tried repeatedly to call her during
the hour and a half she was questioned. But after her phone was returned, Mango
saw that records of her daughter’s calls had been erased.
A few months earlier in the same airport, a tech engineer returning from a
business trip to London objected when a federal agent asked him to type his
password into his laptop computer. "This laptop doesn’t belong to me,"
he remembers protesting. "It belongs to my company." Eventually, he
agreed to log on and stood by as the officer copied the Web sites he had visited,
said the engineer, a U.S. citizen who spoke on the condition of anonymity for
fear of calling attention to himself.
Maria Udy, a marketing executive with a global travel management firm in Bethesda,
said her company laptop was seized by a federal agent as she was flying from
Dulles International Airport to London in December 2006. Udy, a British citizen,
said the agent told her he had "a security concern" with her. "I
was basically given the option of handing over my laptop or not getting on… Continue reading
by Glenn Greenwald
Published on Sunday, February 3, 2008 by Salon.com
Ever since the President’s illegal warrantless eavesdropping program was revealed by the New York Times’ Jim Risen and Eric Lichtblau back in December, 2005, there has been a faction of neoconservatives and other extremists on the Right calling for the NYT reporters and editors to be criminally prosecuted — led by the likes of Bill Kristol (now of the NYT), Bill Bennett (of CNN), Commentary Magazine and many others. In May, 2006, Alberto Gonzales went on ABC News and revealed that the DOJ had commenced a criminal investigation into the leak, and then “raised the possibility  that New York Times journalists could be prosecuted for publishing classified information.”
That was one of the more revealing steps ever taken by Bush’s DOJ under Gonzales: the administration violated multiple federal laws for years in spying on Americans, blocked all efforts to investigate what they did or subject it to the rule of law, but then decided that the only real criminals were those who alerted the nation to their lawbreaking — whistleblowers and journalists alike. Even Gonzales’ public musing about criminal prosecutions could have had a devastating effect — if you’re a whistleblower or journalist who uncovers secret government lawbreaking, you’re obviously going to think twice (at least) before bringing it to light, given the public threats by the Attorney General to criminally prosecute those who do.
Eighteen months have passed since Gonzales’ threats, and while there have been… Continue reading
Mission Statement of 911Blacklist.org
In the six years since the tragic events of September 11th, 2001, the mainstream media in America has largely been a mouthpiece of the Bush administration. All of the major networks including ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and others had until recently, been silently complicit in the cover-up of the events of that day, the un-Constitutional wars that would follow, and the steady erosion of our Constitutionally protected rights.
When the “9-11 Truth” community grew to the point that it could no longer be ignored, these same networks that had ignored the issue for so long began to attack individuals and groups of individuals who were seeking answers to the lingering questions which still remain about 9-11. As the success of various truth movements continues to broaden, these attacks have now escalated to include Peace activists, monetary reform activists, and now even supporters of Presidential candidate Ron Paul. Recent attacks have suggested that the 9-11 movement, Peace activists, and Ron Paul supporters are terrorists, and some in the media have implied that we should be silenced.
LET IT BE KNOWN THAT
* 1) We are proud Americans exercising our First Amendment Rights to free speech and the right to petition our government for a redress of grievances.
* 2) We categorically condemn and refute any and all attempts to associate us with foreign or domestic terrorism. Our entire mission is to oppose terrorism in all its forms, including false flag terrorism. We abhor violence in all its forms, whether committed by individuals or by governments.…
During today’s [11/5/07] White House press briefing, spokeswoman Dana Perino condemned Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s declaration of “emergency rule” in Pakistan. She said that the administration is “deeply disappointed” by the measure, which suspends the country’s constitution, and believes it is never “reasonable” to “restrict constitutional freedoms in the name of fighting terrorism”:
Q: Is it ever reasonable to restrict constitutional freedoms in the name of fighting terrorism?
MS. PERINO: In our opinion, no.
Watch it at http://thinkprogress.org/2007/11/05/musharraf-freedom/.
The Bush administration never suspended the U.S. Constitution; instead, it interpreted the document so broadly as to provide all the powers they desired. A look at some of the ways the White House has overstepped its constitutional powers in the name of national security:
First Amendment: In September, a federal judge ruled that the FBI’s use of secret “national security letters” to obtain citizens’ personal data from private companies for counterterrorism investigations “violate[d] the First Amendment and constitutional provisions on the separation of powers.”
First Amendment, Fourth Amendment: In Aug. 2006, a federal district court in Detroit ruled that the Bush administration’ss NSA warrantless wiretapping program was unconstitutional, violating the “separation of powers doctrine, the Administrative Procedures Act, the First and Fourth amendments to the United States Constitution, the FISA and Title III.”
Article I: Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in June, then Attorney General Alberto Gonzales attempted to justify the administration’s detainee policy by claiming, “There is no express grant… Continue reading
UPDATE: Since this article was written, H.R. 1955 was passed in the House, by a vote of 404-3. Roll call posted at http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2007/roll993.xml
October 25, 2007
By Col. Dan Smith
Congresswoman Jane Harman has introduced legislation–H.R. 1955: “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism”–that is expected to be referred to the House Rules Committee for assignment of floor time for debate by the House. This is a bill that is unneeded, unwise, and unfortunately will pass and be signed into law as it purports to be part of the response to 9/11 and the global war on terror.
At base, Harman’s proposal seems to be a direct attack on First Amendment rights. No where is this more clear than in the third introductory paragraph (the “where as” section) that provides the context for the action desired. Specifically, this legislation aims at the unregulated nature of the Internet:
“The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens.”
Moreover, Harman is telling the American public, citizens and permanent residents, that they are too dumb to recognize hate speech, demonizing rhetoric, and propaganda, and are so morally immature that they are not capable of knowing when to “blow off” terrorists and their messages designed to incite large scale insurrection
One also gets the impression that Harman believes that terrorist criminality has become so wide and the number of people… Continue reading
The Fourth Amendment
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Retroactive immunity for telecom companies who engaged in illegal spying at the behest of the NSA is at the heart of a bill currently being considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill, even before having been officially introduced, is being hotly debated by bloggers, electronic privacy groups, and civil libertarians, as well as presidential contenders (CT Senator Chris Dodd has actually posted a petition at his election website, encouraging readers to support his threatened “hold” on the bill). We should compare the issues involved here with the retroactive immunity provided CIA interrogators in the September, 2006 Military Commissions Act, who could otherwise have been accused of war crimes.
Below, we direct readers to an important series of programs from PBS’ Frontline to help readers investigate the background of this issue, and a deeper consideration of some of what’s at stake in continually ceding power to a rogue Executive bent on dissolving the few civil liberties which currently remain untouched.
Lest readers be swayed by the Administration’s repeated argument that “9/11 makes this necessary,” the Rocky Mountain News reported (emphasis added) on October 11, 2007 that this spying was underway well before 9/11/01:
“The National Security Agency and other government agencies retaliated against Qwest because the Denver telco refused to go along with a phone spying program, documents released Wednesday suggest.…
A CALL TO ACTION – EMERGENCY MEETING
“First they came for the terrorists but I wasn’t a terrorist so I stayed silent and went about my business. Then they came for those suspected of terrorism, but I certainly wasn’t a suspect so I stayed silent and went about my business. Then they came for those who defended those who were suspected of terrorism, but I wasn’t defending such people so I stayed silent and went about my business. Then, one day, they came and began to “suspect” me, so I stayed very, very silent and went about my business.
And that is how I lost my soul.”
You can feel it in the air: many of us are living in the fear that we are one “bad event” away from this administration seizing power over the people in such a way that we will find ourselves swept up in a nightmare of tyranny such as we’ve never seen before.
Others before us have also lived in such times. Others before us have also witnessed the tyranny of empire, the fear it unleashes, and the trance it imposes on its population. There is a story in the Gospel of Mark (this Sunday I’ll be preaching about it) that has Jesus encountering a man in a graveyard, chained to the tombs and possessed by a powerful demon that has caused the man to become violent, insane, and out of control. The name of the demon is Legion, a military term that… Continue reading
Editor’s Note: Should an actual “showdown” occur over the constitutionality of Cheney’s stonewalling, we would welcome it. Let’s know exactly where we stand with respect to the willingness of elected officials to stand up to the criminals-in-chief.
It’s well past the time Leahy and company should have been pressing for these sorts of answers. Get on with it.
By Leonard Doyle in Washington
Published: 28 June 2007
The Bush administration may soon face a courtroom showdown over its secret eavesdropping programme after subpoenas were issued to the White House, Vice-President Dick Cheney, and the Justice Department.
There is a storm gathering over Mr Cheney in particular, with increasingly vocal demands for his impeachment for “political crimes against the nation”.
The Senate Judiciary Committee wants to know the legal basis, if any, for the placing of wiretaps on American citizens without court warrants, as part of the war on terror.
These taps were placed by the National Security Agency, which runs a vast international electronic eavesdropping and codebreaking web with Britain’s GCHQ. When reports emerged in the media of the wiretaps, it provoked widespread anger.
The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy gave the Bush administration until 18 July to hand over documents which the White House described last week as highly classified and off limits.
Senator Leahy wrote: “Over the past 18 months, this committee has made no fewer than nine formal requests to the Department of Justice and to the White House, seeking information and documents about the authorisation of and legal justification for this programme.”
The eavesdropping programme began after the attacks of 11 September 2001.…Continue reading