While claiming that he just needs a “limited” war against Syria to back up his “red line” threat, President Barack Obama is actually seeking a far broader mandate from Congress. The authorization would allow Obama to take any action that he “determines to be necessary and appropriate in connection with the use of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in the conflict in Syria” as well as acting to “prevent or deter the use or proliferation” of the weapons or to “protect the United States and its allies and partners” from the weapons.”
Archive for the 'Congress' Category
Once More Unto The Breach, Dear Friends: Obama Seeks Sweeping Authorization In The Name Of “Limited” WarPublished 1, September 2, 2013 Congress , Constitutional Law , Military , Politics 112 Comments
Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
A story four days ago caught my attention and I thought I’d present it for discussion. In recent years many have claimed that there is a “war on religion” taking place in America. This “so-called war” has been the result of many rulings that have tried to enforce the cherished principle of “freedom of religion”, but of necessity could also be called “freedom from religion.” When I was young most of the stores in my neighborhood were required to close on Sunday, the Christian Sabbath. This was a hardship for Jews that celebrated their Sabbath on Saturday and Muslims that celebrated their Sabbaths on Friday. It affected Asian merchants, with their own native beliefs, that didn’t have a formal Sabbath. Many of these “blue laws” have been repealed because of the reality that they are showing preferential treatment to one particular religion, in a country that is made up of many religions and whose Constitution is believed by many to ban such preferential treatment.
The Supreme Court’s most important case on “blue laws” is McGowan vs. Maryland.
“The Supreme Court of the United States held in its landmark case, McGowan v. Maryland (1961), that Maryland‘s blue laws violated neither the Free Exercise Clause nor the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. It approved the state’s blue law restricting commercial activities on Sunday, noting that while such laws originated to encourage attendance at Christian churches, the contemporary Maryland laws were intended to serve “to provide a uniform day of rest for all citizens” on a secular basis and to promote the secular values of “health, safety, recreation, and general well-being” through a common day of rest. That this day coincides with Christian Sabbath is not a bar to the state’s secular goals; it neither reduces its effectiveness for secular purposes nor prevents adherents of other religions from observing their own holy days.
There were four landmark Sunday-law cases altogether in 1961. The other three were Gallagher v. Crown Kosher Super Market of Mass., Inc., 366 U.S. 617 (1961); Braunfeld v. Brown, 366 U.S. 599 (1961); Two Guys from Harrison vs. McGinley, 366 U.S. 582 (1961). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_laws
I personally disagree with the SCOTUS decision in these cases and think that the logic used is disingenuous. The purpose of the Sunday “blue laws” was of course to promote religious attendance and encourage that attendance at Christian services on Sunday. A secondary reason was one of respect to Christianity and its belief that the Sabbath day of rest demanded in the Ten Commandments was Sunday. To say that it was to serve as a “uniform day of rest for all citizens” is frankly an untruth and adds intent to these laws that was never present in their imposition. This week though another ruling came down in what I see as a related case involving what I see as our right to have “freedom from religion” and I would like to add that to the discussion. Continue reading ‘Higher Power or Else!’
In the cult of personality surrounding President Barack Obama, the ultimate test of loyalty is to shoot a cherish value. No one has proven herself more blindly loyal than House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi who previously led the fight to kill privacy in America as a demonstration of absolute fealty. Now, Pelosi appears to be advocating military action. In a meeting with the White House. Pelosi voiced the need for action. Presumably, this means military action — again — because Obama said that the use of chemical weapons would be a redline and of course Obama is not to be mocked. It is a test that England appears to have failed and now there is a concern that the White House views England with suspicion and distrust for balking at war.
In the 1930s, Bertolt Brecht asked in a poem ”What if they gave a war and nobody came?” The question today is of course silly. The United States will always be there for a war. In the first rejection of a request for military action since 1782, the Parliament voted 285 to 272 against approving a military strike against Syria. Undeterred, the White House today is saying that it is considering just bombing the country on its own and throwing aside any pretense of an international effort. By the way, that last time Parliament refused further military action was when the Crown was fighting a collection of colonies in the New World who, after independence, strongly opposed “foreign entanglements” and military ventures. The United States of America.
While President Obama continues to maintain that only he decides what constitutes a war and requires consultation (let alone a declaration) from Congress, there remains a modicum of democratic process in England. The Obama Administration was surprised to learn that British Prime Minister David Cameron could not simply plunge his nation into another military conflict and that Parliament did not want to blindly follow the United States into attacking Syria. They would like to wait for all of the facts to be established by the United Nations before deciding how to act. It is of course a ridiculous notion that was long ago discarded in this country. If that was the approach in the United States, we would never have been able to invade Iraq on false pretenses and spend hundreds of billions in a war that has cost us tens of thousands of dead and wounded service members. Indeed, such knowledge is steadfastly avoided by our own politicians. By simply giving Bush a blank approval, politicians like Hillary Clinton and John Kerry could later deny that they really approved of the Iraq war and insist that they were misled by Bush.
Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger
With all of the discussion we have had on his blog about the abandonment of the rule of law in this country, I was very interested when I read about a class action lawsuit that was filed in March of this year. The case is Saleh v. Bush, and it was filed in an attempt to hold former President George W. Bush and five members of his administration responsible and liable for the damages incurred when Iraq was attacked by the United States and some of its allies in 2003.
“Saleh is the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit targeting six key members of the Bush Administration: George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, and Paul Wolfowitz. In Saleh v. Bush, she alleges that the Iraq War was not conducted in self-defense, did not have the appropriate authorization by the United Nations, and therefore constituted a “crime of aggression” under international law—a designation first set down in the Nuremberg Trials after World War II. The aim of the suit is simple: to achieve justice for Iraqis, and to show that no one, not even the president of the United States, is above the law.” Yes Magazine Continue reading ‘Single Mom Versus George W. Bush’
Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
Whenever the subject of bigotry gets touched upon in this blog we see certain readers who will not only disagree with the premise that bigotry exists, but who will assert that those who claim it does, are the “real bigots.” Last week on the thread following Mike Appleton’s post “Racism Once Removed” http://jonathanturley.org/2013/08/11/racism-once-removed/ and the week before in my guest blog “Call Me Queer” http://jonathanturley.org/2013/08/03/call-me-queer/ , we saw numerous comments that not only denying that their viewpoint was unbiased, but that our assertions of bigotry were themselves bigoted. While Mike Appleton’s post dealt with racism and mine dealt with homosexual rights, the reactions to presenting these different topics were essentially the same. So much so, that what I saw clearly as racial prejudice even got inserted into what was a thread dealing with homosexual rights. My sense as to why these two disparate issues were conflated by the same people is the subject of this piece, as I will attempt to put the concept of prejudice into the context of the American political scene. For many of us, including me, bigotry is viewed as the stuff of irrational hatred, but I’ve begun to sense that this is too narrow a perspective on this phenomenon. In attempting to counter prejudice, we must first be aware of the dynamics involved and stop looking at prejudice as a monolithic structure.
Those who are the object of prejudice and scorn will no doubt find my distinctions to be of little moment as their lives are so hurt by this hatred. My own sense is that the reaction of Blacks, Latinos and Native Americans to this nation’s history of oppression has been relatively mild when compared to the murderous viciousness with which it has been imposed. It says much for these people of color that they have had the intelligence and restraint to understand they were dealing with an implacable enemy and act accordingly. As someone who views their struggles merely from the outside I know what rage boils up in my gut when I see it and hear about it, quite frankly I don’t know how much restraint I would put on myself if I directly experienced the same oppression. With that caveat let me try to explain my thinking about the distinctions that need to be made when we look at the phenomena of prejudice in this country, from my understanding of it that has developed over a long lifetime and the panoply of changes that have occurred during my existence. Continue reading ‘Bigotry Denialism’
You know those Democratic members who are encouraging citizens to forget about warrantless surveillance (with the help of media allies who are calling for the country to simply “move on”). They seem to be struggling to find ways to change the story as President Obama proposes a facially meaningless set of “reforms” to lull the public back to a comfortable sleep. For civil libertarians, it seemed like Sen. Charles Schmuer was adding this week to the effort to get citizens to stop thinking about government bugs and start thinking about nature’s ticks. Schumer is calling on New Yorkers to check themselves and be vigilant in the face of the threat of ticks.
President Barack Obama on Friday seemed to acknowledge that the determined effort by the White House and Congress to demonize Edward Snowden has not exactly worked. The White House has put pressure on many people in this town to make clear that Snowden is not to be praised in the media or by members of Congress. Various reporters and new organizations have held the line in mocking Snowden or refusing to call him a “whistleblower” rather than a “leaker.” After all, the fear seems to be that Snowden has to be a traitor or Obama would look like a tyrant. Even high-ranking members have been frog walked back before cameras for uttering a work of praise for Snowden. The problem is that it has convinced few people, even with alteration of Wikipedia and other sites to maintain the party line. Now Obama has come forward to assure people that Snowden is no patriot. No, I guess that title belongs to Obama and others who have engaged in warrantless surveillance and continue to mislead the public on the erosion of privacy and civil liberties. Those patriotic souls include John Clapper who lie under oath to mislead the public about the programs. He is not a perjurer but a patriot in America’s New Animal Farm. Notably, however, not a single reporter asked Obama about the perjury by Clapper. Instead, Obama laid out another set of meaningless measures designed to lull the public back into a comfortably and controllable sleep.
Respectfully Submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger
On July 18th, 2013, the City of Detroit made news because the state appointed emergency manager officially filed for a Chapter 9 bankruptcy. “Detroit filed the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history on Thursday, setting the stage for a costly court battle with creditors and opening a new chapter in the long struggle to revive the city that was the cradle of the American auto industry.
The bankruptcy, if approved by a federal judge, would force Detroit’s thousands of creditors into negotiations with the city’s Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr to resolve an estimated $18.5 billion in debt that has crippled Michigan’s largest city.” Tribune
There is no dispute that the City of Detroit has been mismanaged for years, but now that the Emergency Manager has filed the bankruptcy, just who will lose the most in the bankruptcy process? Continue reading ‘Will Detroit’s Pensioners Lose out to Big Banks?’
National Security Agency has been reeling from leaks showing massive warrantless surveillance programs capturing communications for every American. These disclosures have further shown that officials like National Intelligence Director John Clapper committed perjury before Congress, though the White House and Congress have protected him from any charge in America’s Animal Farm system. Now, NSA director General Keith Alexander has indicated that he has a solution. With the public saying that it is more afraid of the government than terrorists and NSA workers balking at participating in such authoritarian programs, Alexander wants to replace the workers with machines. Machines don’t leak. Indeed, they have no sympathy or morals at all. They are perfect. That would leave citizens as simply the objects rather than the objectors for surveillance. So, the Obama Administration has finally found the barrier to the creation of the perfect government: the citizens themselves.
New York Times: Government Conducting Broader Searches Of Emails and Text Messages Than Previously ReportedPublished 1, August 8, 2013 Congress , Constitutional Law , Criminal law , International , Media , Politics 36 Comments
On the heels of President Barack Obama again assuring that public that there is no domestic surveillance programs on their communications, the New York Times is reporting even broader surveillance by the Administration than previously reported.
A Whale of a Decision: The Obama Administration Turns Down Georgia Aquarium’s Permit On Whale ImportationPublished 1, August 6, 2013 Animals , Congress , Environment , International , Science , Society 33 Comments
It is with great joy that I can report the decision of the Obama Administration to turn down the controversial permit application of the Georiga Aquarium to import 18 beluga whales captured and held in Russia. I have had the honor of serving as lead counsel with the J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Environmental Law Clinic of The George Washington University Law School in representing an international consortium of scientists, environmentalists, and organizations in challenging the permit application and preparing for litigation to block any permit issuance. My colleague GW Law Professor Joan Schaffner, Director of the GW Law Animal Welfare Project, has joined me in this representation with a team of GW law students, including Tyler Sniff, one of our Shapiro Fellows and a recent graduate. The Administration and specifically the National Marine Fisheries Service (“NMFS”) deserves to be commended for this decision to protect the whale population from continued depletion by these live capture operations. Here is the press release from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Wikipedia: Effort To Change Description of Snowden From “Dissident” To “Traitor” Traced To U.S. SenatePublished 1, August 5, 2013 Congress , Criminal law , International , Media , Politics , Society 64 Comments
The desperate efforts of Congress to change the public view of Edward Snowden appears to be continuing. This week someone in the Senate attempted to change the description of Snowden as a “dissident” to a “traitor” on Wikipedia. The White House and congressional leaders are clearly alarmed that many view Snowden as a whistleblower. The media groups like NPR previously yielded to pressure not to call Snowden a whistleblower and instead use the less flattering term “leaker.” However, that is not enough because it does not seem to have helped.
Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger
It has not made a lot of noise in the main stream media, but recently, an important case filed jointly by the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights challenging the Department of Justice and the Obama Administration’s drone war was argued in front of Judge Rosemary Collyer. That case is Anwar Al-Aulaqi vs. Panetta, et al and it was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in 2012. You can find the filing here.
What makes this case so important is that it was filed on behalf of the estate of a 16-year-old American citizen who was killed by an American drone strike, along with other victims, in Yemen in 2011. Recently the United States Department of Justice presented a defense that is quite striking. Continue reading ‘The Most Important Court Case You May Never Have Heard Of’
The Atlantic Magazine has an interesting article out this week on a little known effort by the Administration to stop Americans from listening to a speech in Mexico by Leon Trotsky that would be transmitted over a telephone line. Assistant Solicitor General Golden W. Bell wrote the memo below stating that the Administration had no such authority. That was before the Office of Legal Counsel and the rest of the Department became more ambitious and less principled. Today they can find interpretations to allow the circumvention of the separation of powers, the assassination of citizens, the establishment of a torture program, and the maintenance of an Imperial Presidency.
Meet XKeyscore: The Latest Massive Surveillance Program Of U.S. . . . As Reported In The Foreign MediaPublished 1, August 1, 2013 Congress , Constitutional Law , Criminal law , International , Media , Politics 88 Comments
This morning we have yet another article detailing a warrantless surveillance program by the National Security Agency that contradicts representations made by President Barack Obama and members of Congress. You may recall how Obama has tried to get citizens to embrace a new surveillance-friendly model of privacy after the disclosure of massive surveillance of citizens, including programs acquiring every call made by citizens. Various Democratic members came forward to admit that they knew of such programs and not to be afraid . . . they have our backs. Yet every story that has surfaced has contradicted claims that such programs are limited and do not involve the content of communications in emails and messages. The latest program being reported is called XKeyscore and is described as scouring emails, chat rooms, and browsing histories . . . all without a warrant. In the meantime, citizens in polls are saying that they are more concerned with the threat of their own government to their privacy than the threat of terrorism. Once again, citizens learned of this program not from their representative or their media but largely from the foreign press and the disclosures of Edward Snowden.
After years of abuse in confinement from denying him a charge to denying him counsel, Pfc. Bradley Manning finally had a trial on the most serious charge against him: aiding the enemy. He was convicted on lesser charges. The verdict should again focus attention on the mistreatment of Manning by the Obama Administration for leaking classified reports and diplomatic cables. Many of these documents showed that the U.S. government was lying to the public and to its allies.
Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
One month before I was scheduled to begin my freshman year in College my mother died. My father had gone bankrupt in his automobile franchise the year before and was working as a car salesman. Money was tight, but I had won a full tuition scholarship under the New York State Regents Scholarship program. While tuition was not a problem, there would be other costs associated with College, such as books and various student fees. My father found out about New York State’s student loan program and signed me up for a low amount of money, with the understanding that he would repay it. Due to his business failure my father had no way to get credit in his own name. Ironically, one month before my sophomore year my father died. I was 18 years old and the only work I had ever done was as a “car jockey” at the dealership where my father worked. There was little money in my father’s estate and I soon had to start school. I upped my student loan to the maximum allowed so that I would have living expenses until I could get a job to support myself through my remaining college years. Within two months, still reeling from the effect of being orphaned, I had gotten a job as a Night Watchman in a municipal hospital and arranged my course schedule around it. I lived in a furnished room, with a bathroom in a common hall, but my life slowly began to normalize. Later I got a job as a Clerk/Delivery boy in a liquor store, working 35 hours a week after school and making $32.50 plus tips, using my own car. I managed to scrimp by with the aid of taking out the maximum available student loans each year. The loans under the program them were from a bank, guaranteed by New York State. After I graduated I got a job for $6,000 a year and tried to pull my financial head above water. Six months after graduation though, I was notified by the bank that my student loan was to start being repaid, at a fixed rate that to me was a hardship financially. I went to the bank to ask to restructure the deal so I would pay less each month and they refused. It turned out that the New York State Student Loan plan was set in such a way that if the borrower defaulted the State would pay the bank the full amount immediately and then go after the borrower. It was therefore in the bank’s interest to have the student default, since they would get their return much more quickly.
Flash to many years down the road and my two daughters going to college. I was forced to take out student loans for their education, but I made each of them the promise that I, not they, would pay it back. This was of course the result of my own experience and I considered it my duty. I paid off my oldest daughter’s debt and am now paying off my youngest daughter’s debt. On my fixed income this is difficult. Both of them are working with good jobs, however, I don’t want my children to go through what I went through and would prefer they are not burdened by the costs of their education. Incidentally, they both worked part time when they went through college, although in both instances I didn’t want them to have to do so and that is only a minor part of why I am so proud of them. Which leads me to what is going on today with the Federal Student Loan Program, which brings in a surplus of $184 billion for the Federal Government. Call me what you will, but I don’t think that government should be a profit making enterprise and I certainly believe that it is in all of our interests to educate our children. At least one Senator feels the same way. Continue reading ‘The Student Loan Problem’
While some Democratic voters continue to debate whether to support Anthony Weiner in the wake of additional sextexting to women (after he resigned from office), there has been attention drawn to the extraordinary deal given to his wife Huma Abedin, a close aide to Hillary Clinton. This town is infamous for such special deals but this one takes my breath away. It appears that Abedin, the deputy chief of staff at the State Department under Clinton while she was at the State Department, was granted status as a “special government employee” after the birth of her son in the midst of the scandal. That allowed her to continue to earn $135,000 as a government employee while also earning as much as $355,000 as a consultant for Teneo. You guessed it. Teneo Holdings happens to have former President Bill Clinton is a board member.
The respected Foreign Policy magazine details how the recent close vote on the NSA warrantless surveillance program was heading to a victory for privacy when the White House called in Nancy Pelosi. With heavy pressure from Pelosi, the White House was able to get just enough votes to kill privacy. Even with her ignoble role in this vote (and prior work to reduce civil liberties), many democrats are still supporting Pelosi in what is now a robotic form of politics. As their leader takes an axe to privacy, Democrats are again adopting the mantra that the other guys are worse and she is still good on other issues — making privacy just another item to trade off as part of the blue state/red state paradigm maintained by our duopoly of government.
For many years, there has been controversy over the funding of military chaplains and the preferences given certain faiths. The problem is that as much 23 percent of our military list no religious association or preference. While many simply have no religious association with a particular faith, some are agnostics, some are atheists, and some are generally humanists. It would seem logical to have some chaplains who can relate to those groups. However, members of Congress are irate and insist that chaplains must believe in a deity to be funded. They warm that humanist or secularist chaplains would be traumatizing dying soldiers about being “worm food” and dying without hope.
Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger
There has been a large volume of discussion on this blog concerning the loss of our personal liberties and constitutional freedoms. One of the most important of those “freedoms” that seem to be at risk is the Freedom of the Press, especially in light of recent events.
“Following the amendment of a long-standing U.S. law, people in this country will now be exposed to news which is produced by the U.S. government. On Jul. 2, a change to the U.S. Information and Educational Exchange Act, also known as the Smith-Mundt Act, came into effect, reversing a ban on the State Department and U.S. international broadcasting agencies which had prevented them from disseminating their program materials within U.S. borders. The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the U.S. federal government agency which oversees all U.S. government-supported media internationally, notes that individuals residing in the U.S. will now have access to vast amounts of new information.” Nation of Change Continue reading ‘Is Freedom of the Press Dead?’
Two Strikes And You’re In? New Immigration Bill Leads To Questions Over Treatment Of Cases With Two Prior Forged PassportsPublished 1, July 19, 2013 Congress , Criminal law , International 22 Comments
There has been considerable criticism of the fact that the massive new immigration bill seems to be something of a mystery to even sponsors who have indicated that they have either not read it entirely or even know many of its provisions. This seems a new fact of life for Congress — something we saw with the Patriot Act where many members admitted they never read before voting to curtail civil liberties. There remains a huge debate in the country over the fairness of allowing millions to apply for citizenship after knowingly entering the country illegally while others wait in other countries. Others insist that this is dealing with a difficult problem in a humane way and is good for the economy and good for the GOP. Putting aside those sweeping issues, I was struck by one provision of the law that deals with people who have forged two passports or sold false passports.
We have been discussing the collapse of the American civil liberties movement and the attacks on the free press and privacy under the Obama Administration. As discussed in prior columns, we continue to refer to the United States as the “land of the free” despite a comprehensive reduction of civil liberties and due process in this country. The Snowden affair has put that record in sharp relief as the White House and Congress has joined together in barring the prosecution of perjury by high ranking officials and pursuing Snowden with close to unhinged rage. As previously discussed, our governing class has created a new American Animal farm. Long ago, American politicians adopted a type of dismissive paternalism toward the public as shepherds to so many sheep. Then one sheep goes and spooks the flock. The response has been bipartisan rage that has included demands to cut off aid to entire nations if they grant sanctuary to this whistleblower and even boycott the Olympics. The shepherds want Snowden made into mutton for stampeding the flock and no measure appears too extreme. Now Jimmy Carter has entered the fray and said what many citizens are saying in denouncing our duopoly. Carter told Spiegel “America has no functioning democracy.” Of course, you have to live in Germany to read such views.
Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
As I write this I’ve just read a story in the New York Times about the U.S. threatening countries in South America to not grant asylum to Edward Snowden. In typical “Times” fashion these countries are characterized as “leftist” mavericks against the assumed U.S. hegemony in that vast continent. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/12/world/americas/us-is-pressing-latin-americans-to-reject-snowden.html?pagewanted=2&_r=0&hp . The attitude of the story is that these countries by resisting our government’s pressure are acting in a petulant manner. This is typical of the mindset of many supposed journalists today who are unable to put in context the history behind the actions of certain players on the world stage. What it highlights for me is that there seems to be unprecedented pressure by our government to capture and punish Mr. Snowden for his “crimes”. With my admittedly jaundiced view of much of the history of my country in my lifetime, the attempt to take Snowden down for his “crimes” makes sense if you put into the context of American history with respect to foreign relations and how foreign relations has impacted the growing unconstitutional treatment of United States citizens at home and abroad. Since this is a huge topic deserving of many tomes and therefore doesn’t lend itself to the guest blog format, my piece will present my own impressionistic view of the interaction between foreign policy and the growth of the American Police State since World War II, which can be expanded, abetted or contradicted by you the reader.
For all practical purposes the Second World War began with the almost total loss of the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. While it was known that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had actively been trying to aid Great Britain in its struggle against the Axis Powers in Europe, the American Congress was skeptical of foreign involvement and there was a large “isolationist” strain in the American people. The devastation of Pearl Harbor shocked the nation into realizing that it had to focus upon the rest of the world and awakened within the country a strong thirst for revenge. I say this not disparagingly since were I alive at the time, I would have been one with this national outrage and blood-lust. The problem with arousing such a strong emotional call for action in any society is that in the frenzy to act, societal norms are often breached in the name of expediency. In the case of our country World War II planted the seeds of the Corporate/Military/Intelligence Complex (CMIC) that is reaching full flower today. What follows is my personal overview of this development since that embattled time and why this government has such a great need to crush Edward Snowden for his deeds. Continue reading ‘Who Do You Trust, US or Your Lying Eyes?’
Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger
A recent United State Supreme Court decision has made it almost impossible for small businesses and individuals to bring class action lawsuits against large corporations who may be in violation of antitrust laws. Not only did the case fly under the mass media radar, it also may allow corporations to use contractual language to insulate them from many other federal laws. I am talking about the American Express v. Italian Colors case that was decided by a 5-3 margin. What the Supreme Court majority did here was to allow American Express to force its small business customers to sign a contract that included language that precluded those same customers from having any viable access to judicial review of American Express’ business practices. Continue reading ‘The Supreme Court Versus the Common Man’
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger
While I‘ve been trying to take a break from all politics and news as I bask in the glow of my family staying with me this week, I’ve nonetheless been fascinated by the fall of Egyptian President Morsi, in what must be described as a military coup. I’ve never been a fan of coups as I expect is true of most of us, yet the fall of Morsi has raises issues that I think are far more nuanced than appear on the surface. The salient facts are that after too many years the corruption of the government of Hosni Mubarak (who had been installed by the Egyptian military) led to severe economic issues and dissatisfaction with totalitarian rule. This then led to such massive protest that the military felt compelled, or justified to remove him. Mubarak’s removal was cheered, but then the clamor for free elections arose and after 18 months of martial law elections were held, as the first step towards transitioning to democracy and formulating a constitution.
The Society of Muslim Brothers, or Muslim Brotherhood was:“Founded in Egypt in 1928as a Pan-Islamic, religious, political, and social movement by the Islamic scholar and schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna,” It’s stated purposes was to: “to instill the Qur’an and Sunnah as the “sole reference point for …ordering the life of the Muslim family, individual, community … and state. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muslim_Brotherhood In a country such as Egypt, with its’ long history of totalitarian rule, the concept of political parties was not strong. Through its 85 years history the Brotherhood became the most stable opposition faction in the Egyptian political scene and was the main focus for opposition to whoever ruled Egypt by dint of the Egyptian Military’s backing. Such has been the success of the Muslim Brotherhood that it has branched out to have a significant presence in 20 nations around the world, many without a Muslim majority, such as the Russian Federation, the Indian Subcontinent, Great Britain and the United States. Therefore when the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 took place, the now legal “Brotherhood” was in an excellent position to vie for political power and formed the “Freedom and Justice Party” as its electoral arm. It won more than 40% of the parliamentary seats and its candidate Mohamed Morsi won election as President with 51.73% of the vote. His chief opponent had been a man who served as Mubarak’s Prime Minister. The Egyptian voters were faced, I think, with a “Hobson’s Choice” of Presidential candidates and chose what they perceived to be the lesser of two evils. Sound familiar? What I will attempt to examine here is a question which is framed as: “Are Religious Fundamentalists capable participating in a pluralistic democratic society?” Continue reading ‘Morsi, Democracy and Problem with Fundamentalist Politics’
I previously wrote a column how our country seems to have developed separate rules for the ruling elite and the rest of us. There is no better example than the lack of response of the Senate to the admitted perjury of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper before Congress. While the Justice Department has prosecuted people for the smallest departure from the truth, including testimony before Congress, no one in the Senate is calling for an investigation, let alone a prosecution, of Clapper. For his part, Attorney General Eric Holder is continuing his political approach to enforcing the law and declining to even acknowledge the admitted perjury of Clapper. Now, in a truly bizarre moment, Clapper has written a letter of apology like an errant schoolboy to excuse his commission of a felony crime . . . and it appears to have been accepted. What is curious is that we do not have letters from senators like Dianne Feinstein apologizing to doing nothing when they were all aware that Clapper was lying in his public testimony. Welcome to America’s Animal Farm.
Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger
We have all heard the stories about the federal education policy instituted under the George W. Bush administration referred to as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). That program required schools to continually test students in order to gauge which schools are “failing” to produce students who were making sufficient educational progress. The outgrowth of NCLB was the need for teachers to “teach to the test”. Schools across the country stopped teaching important subject areas because they were not deemed important enough to be on the all important test. Now, the latest federal educational program embraced by the Obama Administration, called Common Core standards, builds on the NCLB program and continues to force testing using standards that have not even been tested and are products of corporate sponsors tied to the testing industry! Continue reading ‘Common Core Standards = No Child Left Behind on Steroids’
Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
President Obama has admitted that while in school he was a frequent marijuana smoker. George W. Bush also alluded to smoking marijuana and possibly to using cocaine. Bill Clinton claimed to have smoked it but not inhaled it, which is the type of ridiculous statement Clinton is capable of asserting for political gain. Thus the last three Presidents of the United States have admitted that one time or another they have broken the law and used a banned substance. While each of those Presidents presided over the continued witch hunt and prosecution of the “War On Drugs” I believe that Barack Obama has been the most hypocritical.
Had either G.W. Bush, or Bill Clinton been arrested for smoking marijuana there is no doubt in my mind that they would have neither served jail time, nor would they have had their careers stained by a criminal record. Bush, as the scion of a great political family would have had his record expunged, or possibly have had the police back off when they discovered who he was. Bill Clinton was a student at a prestigious University and while not rich, came from a politically connected family in Arkansas. What they also had in common was that they were White men. Barack Obama on the other hand would have likely been arrested, despite his status as a Harvard student and while he probably would have escaped jail time he would have been forced to take a plea which would remain on his record. If such a thing had occurred it is highly probable that Barack Obama would never have been elected Senator, much less President. There is a likelihood that he might never even have been allowed to enter the Bar as an attorney, since that entrance requires extensive background checks. Whatever you might think of him Barack Obama is a very intelligent man. Surely he must realize how fortunate he was to not get caught smoking grass and yet as President he has stepped up the War On Drugs and has allowed egregious prosecutions in States that have passed medical marijuana laws. To my mind this is blatant hypocrisy, but beyond that political position lies a destructiveness that can only rationally be seen as the continuance of the oppression of Americans of color, particularly Blacks, by our Federal Government. I will deal with our President’s hypocrisy and use it as the basis of my condemnation of the War On Drugs. Continue reading ‘Obama and the War on Drugs: Hypocrisy in Action’
While the rulings in Fisher and Windsor justifiably garnered the most attention this week, it is important to note an important but little discussed decision to accept a case. I have previously testified and written about President Barack Obama’s use of recess appointments, which I viewed as flagrantly unconstitutional. Recently, the D.C. Circuit agreed with that view and found that the Obama Administration had violated the recess appointment powers. Then a second appellate court has joined that view, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. I have two law review articles coming out on these appointments and more broadly the abuse of recess appointment powers in modern presidencies. See Jonathan Turley, Recess Appointments in the Age of Regulation, 93 Boston University Law Review ___ (2013) and Jonathan Turley, Constitutional Adverse Possession: Recess Appointments and the Role of Historical Practice in Constitutional Interpretation, 2103 Wisconsin Law Review ___ (2013). The case accepted for review is Noel Canning v. NLRB, No. 12-1115 (D.C. Cir. 2013).
U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee has issued a sweeping victory for the Obama Administration and its contractors in seeking to bar any recourse for people injured or killed in U.S. camps or prisons like Abu Ghraib. Lee dismissed a lawsuit detailing well-supported accounts of abuse of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison — holding that the injured parties could not use U.S. courts to seek judicial review and relief for the abuse. He closed the door to the U.S. judicial system to four Iraqi plaintiffs under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) as well as one plaintiff who was deemed as barred under Iraqi law.
Below is my column today in USA Today on the criminal complaint against Edward Snowden. I have been criticizing the charge under the Espionage Act as abusive and a mistake by the Administration. President Barack Obama has been criticized for years for his use of the controversial 1917 Act. He is responsible for six of the nine total indictments ever brought under the Act. More than all presidents before him and putting Richard Nixon to shame. He has used the act against sources for journalists and only recently was criticized for the attacks on the free press under his Administration. I do not question the basis for prosecution of Snowden for the disclosure of classified information or any theft of such documents. However, the effort to put him away for life does raise an interesting contrast with prior cases, which is the subject of today’s column (slightly expanded from the print version).
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
As a male who met his wife at age 36, I had many years as a single male and many relationships with women. While being experienced sexually the idea of forcing myself on a woman was not only repellant, but emotionally I was and am unable to understand why men would do something like that. Emotionally even as a fantasy, on film, or in literature I find nothing the least bit stimulating, or manly about forcing oneself upon an unwilling partner. Yet I understand it very well intellectually as a power trip having little to do with sex and much to do with an innate hostility towards women.. One of the places where it seems rape and sexual assault has run rampant has been the military. A recent AP story has related that one third of fired military commanders were canned for sexual misconduct. http://jezebel.com/5977856/nearly-a-third-of-fired-military-commanders-were-canned-because-of-their-penises Congress is discussing harsher military penalties for rape and sexual molestation. This is a disgraceful situation in my opinion and a continuance of women being treated as second class citizens.
In May, the Department of Defense released its ”Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military,” which found that up to 26,000 service members may have been the victim of some form of sexual assault last year, up from an estimated 19,000 in 2010. The report also found that 62 percent of victims who reported their assault faced retaliation as a result. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel responded to the report by calling the assaults “a despicable crime” that is “a threat to the safety and the welfare of our people,” and General Martin Dempsey affirmed that sexual assaults constitute a “crisis” in the military.
I find that the figure of 26,000 service members being victims of sexual assault this past year appalling. Almost all of those victims were females. Yet as we shall see there are some who minimize this behavior and seem to excuse it as just the natural workings of the male libido. I’ll explain. Continue reading ‘The War on Men’
Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
The election of Barack Obama, a Black Man, was certainly a landmark for this country with its history of slavery and of oppression of those considered non-Whites. That history includes the treatment of Native Americans which was replete with deception, broken treaties and examples of outright genocidal behavior. The history is also one of ethnic and religious prejudice that was heaped upon the waves of immigrants “welcomed” to our shores. The American heritage of bigotry in thought and language was never limited to the vile epithets of “Nigger”, “Spic”, “Savage” and “Chink” commonplace and accepted through the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries. We also had “Mick”, “Polack”, “Heinie”, “Kike”, and “Wop” considered acceptable, common parlance. Many dismissed the use of these derogatory terms as being merely good natured banter and descriptive terminology. For those to which these terms were directed though, they stung deeply. These were people trying to become accepted in a new land and who had for the most part fled their native countries to escape poverty and oppression. They came to America seeking “freedom” and financial stability. These immigrants yearned for acceptance and each instance of others characterizing them by their ethnicity, or religion, came as a blow to their self-esteem.
While the majority of Americans no doubt look back upon the prejudices of those times with discomfort and embarrassment, it is human nature to try to diminish these histories and the unpleasant picture they paint of this country. My grandparents immigrated to America before the turn of the 20th Century. They came from Hungary or Poland depending on where the borders were set in different eras. They were Jews, born to poverty and oppression in Eastern Europe coming here to build a better life for themselves and for their children. My paternal grandfather was a tailor and came to this country with some children and with a marketable skill. I never met him, since he died before I was born, but was honored to be his first male namesake in the Jewish tradition of only naming after the dead. All the stories I heard about him told that he was intelligent, warm and gentle. My maternal grandfather was an orphan, who came to America at age 11. He was in the dry goods business at that age. He described to me how he had to literally fight his way towards success, which he achieved. Both my Maternal and Paternal families each had 9 children so I had a total of 16 Aunts and Uncles. Unlike some of his older siblings, my father was born in America. He described to me life in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn and the ethnic warfare that took place between the various neighborhoods. My father was a large man and a brawler in his youth, which from his perspective was a necessity of his times. I was born near the end of World War Two into an America where the ongoing hatred of Jews was decreasing, nevertheless I did experience some of that prejudice even in Junior High School, where I was called a “Christ Killer” and subjected to various jokes ridiculing Jews.
pNo doubt many among our readers can relate similar histories of the tribulations suffered because of their heritage ethnicity and religion. Stories handed down to them by their families. This is a fact of the history of America and no euphemistic retelling of history can erase it. This was the true “melting pot” of our country. For the most part though, whether the ethnicity was Irish, Italian, Polish, Jewish, etc. there was one saving grace and that was the color of our skin. When I was younger I had blond hair, I still have blue eyes and my last name has little ethnic identity. Many people who’ve met me in my life have been surprised that I was Jewish, taking me for Irish or Scandinavian, which had become acceptable ethnicities. Those of European Heritage, born of immigrants, they were able to eventually escape that initial prejudice because they were White and they could further escape their ethnicity by changing their last names if they desired. This fluidity has never been available to non-Whites and to my mind it still isn’t fully available, despite those who would hold up our President as proof that such bigotry is a thing of the past and that non-Whites face life in our country on an equal footing. Continue reading ‘Post Racial America?’
>Civil libertarians have long viewed Senator Dianne Feinstein (D.,CA) as a menace to privacy and civil liberties in her role on the Senate Intelligence Committee. She has worked to blocked investigation of torture while supporting warrantless surveillance of our own citizens. Recently, many Californians became aware of her role in seeking ever-expanding powers for the security state. Feinstein desperately tried to get citizens to embrace a new model of privacy that allows for their continual surveillance in the latest scandals under her tenure. That has not worked particularly well so now Feinstein is taking a new approach: she is proclaiming her concern over the dangers of privacy posed by . . . drones. That’s right. Like the street magicians distracting an audience, Feinstein is trying to get citizens to focus on the use of drones for surveillance and promising some form of “regulation” in the future. The obvious intent behind yesterday’s carefully constructed scene was to present Feinstein in the light of a fighter for, rather than an attacker of, privacy rights.
Obama’s WMD Moment: The Administration Increases Claims Of Thwarting “Potential” Attacks and Saving LivesPublished 1, June 19, 2013 Congress , Constitutional Law , Criminal law , International , Media , Politics , Society 69 Comments
George Bush was rightfully denounced for his Administration’s false statements to both the public and the United Nations on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq — the rationale for our invasion of that country. There was little apparent concern from Bush or his aides over the veracity or proof of their assertions as opposed to the desired outcome. The same mentality is in open display with President Obama this month as he and his aides continue to increase the claims of “successes” from the warrantless surveillance programs as public opposition grows. In this case, the increasing claims are being made in a war on privacy, including an effort to redefine privacy in a new surveillance-friendly image. We are now up to over 50 “potential plots” and Obama is sounding distinctly Bush-like in statements today about how these programs “saved lives.” The public, which learned this month that it was openly lied to about the programs in earlier hearings, is expected to accept these assurances on faith alone.
Doublethinking Transparency: Obama Proclaims Secret NSA Program Entirely “Transparent” To A Secret CourtPublished 1, June 18, 2013 Bizarre , Congress , Constitutional Law , Politics , Society 116 Comments
President Barack Obama assured the American people yesterday that the NSA warrantless surveillance programs are entirely “transparent.” He then promised to extradite and prosecute the man who told the public about it. None of that causes any pause for the White House or its supporters. It makes perfect sense. Indeed, it helps explain how Obama promised the “most transparent” Administration in history and proceeded to expand a secret security state. It turns out that “transparent” simply means something different with Obama, just as the noun “war” is left to his definition. It turns out that transparent means that the government can see it — and see us. Total transparency in our new fishbowl society.
While Senators could not be troubled to go to a simple briefing on the NSA warrantless surveillance program and some like South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham shrugged off the importance of privacy, the same Senators are demanding the intervention into yet another war in the Middle East. It does not matter that we have major educational and environmental programs being cut for lack of funding. It does not matter that our invasion in Iraq is an ongoing nightmare. We are being told to intervene in a civil war where Sunnis and Shia are carrying out centuries of hatred with atrocities on both sides. Senators want the U.S. to enforce a no-fly zone which would involve direct attacks on Serbian air forces while President Obama has already pledged to directly support rebel forces with arms.
by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger
Since the last story on additive manufacturing and plastic guns, there have been a few developments. On June 12 in New York City, Council Member Lewis Fidler (D-Brooklyn) submitted a bill to amend the New York administrative code to make it illegal to use a 3D printer to create any part of a firearm unless the person is a licensed gunsmith and requiring gunsmiths to notify the NYPD and register said firearm within 72 hours. There is additional language in the bill applying to systems to feed bullets, serial number requirements, and regulations against destroying weapons. Also on June 12, a second piece of legislation was also announced by State Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan), which would make it a felony for anyone to manufacture, sell, or use guns or ammunition magazines made with a 3D printer. Naturally this did not sit well with Defense Distributed’s Cody Wilson whose response to Fidler’s bill in an email interview was “[s]uch legislation is a deprivation of equal protection and works in clear ignorance of Title I and II of U.S. gun laws.” At federal law, it is legal for individuals to manufacture certain types of firearms as long as the guns are not resold, are not fully automatic, and comply with set limits such as barrel length. In addition, in order for a homemade gun to be legal under Federal law, the person who builds their own gun must make at least 20 percent of the receiver (the operative part of the gun containing the trigger mechanism, etc.). The purpose of this is to prevent people from buying the gun parts separately and then putting them together but it allows for prototyping. A recent story out of Santa Monica, California illustrates a problem not only with the 20 percent requirement but laws restricting guns in general. John Zawahri, 23, went on a rampage using a modified AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle during an attack that started at his father’s home and ended at Santa Monica College where police fatally wounded him. He killed five people before he was stopped. Relevant to the laws at hand though, anonymous sources in the Santa Monica Police Department have indicated that Zawahari probably assembled the modified AR-15 himself from purchased components. This shows the inherent problem with this kind of gun regulation (as well as illustrating that guns are a simple technology). Criminals don’t care about laws. They are lawbreakers by definition. Rules of society mean nothing to them. If they are willing to commit crimes involving victims, as the saying goes, in for a penny, in for a pound. Consider the following in light of what is going on in the New York City Council and the events in Santa Monica.
Making plastic guns is the tip of the iceberg that is additive manufacturing. You can print with far more than plastics. Think of the possibilities of printing biological materials. This isn’t a question for science fiction. Bioprinting is right around the corner.
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
One of the greatest novels I’ve ever read was Joseph Heller’s “Catch 22”. It is in turns humorous, tragic and distressing. It is finally one of the best commentaries on the insanity of the human condition, especially in wartime. Catch 22’s protagonist is Yossarian, an Air Force Bombardier in World War II, who no longer wants to keep flying the increasingly deadly missions over Germany. So desperate is Yossarian that he is willing to act out in any way possible that will get him grounded and he is hoping that he will be declared unfit for duty due to insanity. The problem is a military regulation that is described as “Catch 22”.
“The “Catch-22″ is that “anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn’t really crazy” Hence, pilots who request a mental fitness evaluation are sane, and therefore must fly in combat. At the same time, if an evaluation is not requested by the pilot, he will never receive one and thus can never be found insane, meaning he must also fly in combat. Therefore, Catch-22 ensures that no pilot can ever be grounded for being insane even if he is.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catch-22_%28logic%29
The revelations of NSA spying have become a great topic of discussion these days, though it is merely a continuance of what we know our government has been doing since the origins of the Cold War, fueled by an ever more sophisticated technology in this digital age. A few people have been privy to the use of secrecy to hide the many violations of constitutional rights, human rights and war crimes. They have acted out of conscience to expose these violations only to face imprisonment and vilification by not only the Intelligence establishment, but by the bi-partisan Washington Establishment and their pundit minions. The most prominent of these “whistle blowers” have been Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and now Edward Snowden. The Establishment I refer to represents the Intelligence/Military/Corporate Complex (IMCC) that is and has been, in control of our country. They are the “Permanent Government” of the United States and have been for most of our history. The IMCC owns or controls most of our supposed “free press” which includes the media outlets from which Americans get their news and form their opinions. Despite the outrage of many here and many in the public, I believe that almost nothing will stop this perversion of this country under the guise of protecting it because of the logic inherent in Catch 22. Yet I have also read an article this week that discusses the NSA issue and actually ends with a modicum of hope. Since it was written by a fearless investigative reporter, whose outlook is usually pessimistic, I took heart from it and perhaps you will also if you oppose this invasion of our lives, supposedly done to protect us. Continue reading ‘Catch 22 and the Secrecy Debate’
President Barack Obama said that he wanted to “reset” relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and bring the countries closer together. He appears to have succeeded. Yesterday, Putin defended Obama in creating a warrantless surveillance system that is much like Russia’s. In the meantime, a leading Chinese dissident in the United States has said that the program reminds him not of Russia but the police state in China. It appears that Obama can finally claim to have broken down the differences between the United States and both Russia and China in his new America. All we had to do is change our whole notion of privacy (as well as other legal concepts like perjury).
The Republican and Democratic parties have achieved a bipartisan purpose in uniting against the public’s need to know about massive surveillance programs and the need to redefine privacy in a more surveillance friendly image. They have also united in attacking Snowden as a traitor and seeking his prosecution for telling the public about the program. In the midst of this full-court press to lull the public back into sleep over civil liberties, the members will face a slightly inconvenient problem: possible perjury. These members have repeatedly called for perjury and contempt prosecutions of officials who have given false or misleading testimony like Eric Holder. However, they have a little problem with Obama officials who seem to have given false or intentionally misleading testimony over the surveillance of citizens. The problem is that these members want the scandal (and the public) to go away. Many of them knew at the time that the public was being told untrue things in these hearings. It will only be embarrassing to now address the falsehoods fed to the public in their presence and with their knowledge. In other words, they were all lying to the public and, under our new relativistic world, a lie told by everyone is treated as the truth.
The attacks on Edward Snowden have increased today. CNN’s Jeff Toobin who previously denounced Snowden as a “clown” has added that he is a “a grandiose narcissist who deserves to be in prison”. In the meantime, Senator Dianne Feinstein and House Speaker John Boehner have denounced Snowden as a “traitor.” Other media organizations have barred their reporters from referring to him as a “whistleblower” in what has become a deluge of negative stereotyping of Snowden -even before we know the whole story. Indeed, the attacks began with folks like Toobin almost immediately after he came forward.
Edward Snowden, 29, is now a hunted man. The media this morning has moved from the shock over the massive surveillance of citizens to attacking Snowden as a leaker. Indeed, this morning, CNN’s Senior Legal Analyst Jeff Toobin denounced Snowden as a “clown” and someone who should be denounced. Toobin and I have been disagreeing a great deal lately. While I respect Jeff Toobin, I was surprised last week when he defended aspects of the investigation of journalists and later the massive surveillance programs. However, I was taken aback by the attack on Snowden. There certainly is a basis for criminal investigation — a point no one denies. He will have to answer for any violation of his clearance agreement and national security laws. However, it is the tenor and shift of the comments this morning that so surprised me. Rather than continue the debate of the loss of privacy, political and media figures are focusing on Snowden rather than the programs. You can disagree with his methods just as you can disagree with Julian Assange. However, there is an obvious effort to (like Assange) make him look unbalanced and dangerous. The story appears more complex. This is a man who gave up a $200,000 a year job and his likely freedom to reveal something that he felt the public should know about in the interest of privacy. You can disagree with his method, but few of his critics would even consider such a sacrifice for principle. Yet, the coverage this morning is largely on how to catch him and punish him. Over the weekend, the White House said it would find the person responsible and punish him. Snowden then self-disclosed his identity.
Below is today’s column in USA Today (the print version is a bit shorter). The column looks at the effort of President Barack Obama and his congressional allies to get citizens to give up privacy as they did protections of the free press, due process, and international legal principles on earlier scandals. It is truly the final measure of devotion demanded in what has become a virtual cult of personality.
Submitted by Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger
There is a new bill passed by the New York State Senate that relates to many of the blogs and discussions we have had here through the years. This bill would make it a felony to “annoy” a police officer acting in the course of his duties. While I can understand that directly interfering with a police officer in the middle of his duties should not be done, we have seen through the years that the police broadly interpret what is “interference” to include what is obviously a person exercising their First Amendment rights, such as responding negatively to a police officers actions or videotaping them. I find this law another distressing example of how far we are going in the direction of a police state, since as we have seen in our many blogs and discussions here it will be abused time and again. I will have several links at the bottom to illustrate some of the issues dealing with purported “police interference on the Jonathan Turley Blog alone. Continue reading ‘Don’t “Annoy” Your Local Police Or Else’
As expected, in facing yet another attack on civil liberties by the Obama Administration, Democratic members are choosing personality over principle. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D., CA) has come out to assure the public that it is a good thing that the Administration is spying on them and encourage them to accept such surveillance as the new normal. In the meantime, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R, Ga), insists that the surveillance must be fine because “to my knowledge we have not had any citizen who has registered a complaint relative to the gathering of this information.” Of course, it has been secret and just last February the Administration succeeded in blocking an effort of dozens of citizens and groups challenging such surveillance programs before the Supreme Court.
Continue reading ‘Learning To Love The Matrix: Feinstein Defends Warrantless Surveillance of All Citizens’
While the media in the United States (with some notable exceptions) have been criticized for relatively soft coverage of attacks on civil liberties by the Obama Administration, the British press appears to be filling the gap. The Guardian is reporting on a massive surveillance program by the Obama Administration where the government has ordered Verizon (and presumably other carriers) to turn over all calls made within the United States and calls between the United States and other countries. The surveillance was conducted under an order from our controversial secret court, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and demanded by the Justice Department and the FBI. The Administration has confirmed the existence of the program — another blow to civil liberties under Attorney General Eric Holder and this president. It also adds another area where Obama officials appear less than candid with Congress. [Update: USA Today first revealed aspects of this program in 2006]