In a speech on Friday, President Obama outlined his plans to reform the National Security Agency’s data collection programs, citing particular sections of the PATRIOT Act that garnered renewed scrutiny after Edward Snowden leaked information about the intelligence agency’s activities.
Many voices on the left and right have criticized the speech for its vacuousness, particularly in regards to Obama’s proposed reforms to Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, which deals with domestic phone calls. It’s hard not to be frustrated with the president when he began his speech with a near insulting rehashing of America’s history of intelligence and spying. As he opened by saying “When Paul Revere…”, I almost walked — no, ran — away from my television set.
As National Review Online writer Charles C.W. Cooke opined on Twitter, many of the pro-privacy left got a dose of the medicine the right has been force fed for years. as Because, per usual with this president, his proposals fly right in the face of what he said as a senator and presidential candidate:
Really, Mr. President? You mean to tell us that President Bush was right in his national security zealousness, despite the fact that you blamed him for everything while on
On Friday, an opinion article written by New York State Supreme Court Justice Rena Uviller appeared in the Wall Street Journal. It was titled, “A View From the Bench: Leave ‘Stop and Frisk’ Alone.”
The article was shocking to hear from a current justice, but frankly, with the continuing infringements of civil liberties, especially in New York City, it was not surprising. There are several puzzling statements that were made by Justice Uviller in the article that need to be addressed in order to comprehend what stop and frisk really means in, as The Economist put it, “Liberty’s lost decade.”
Uviller begins by stating her credentials on the subject, specifically that she has “presided over innumerable suppression hearings to determine whether evidence seized in a stop-and-frisk of citizens by police on the streets has crossed a constitutional line.” The judge seems to have worked too much in broken New York statute law and regulations, and ignored the constitutional aspect of unreasonable search and seizure as prescribed by the 4th Amendment.
The 4th Amendment requires police and prosecutors to obtain a specific search warrant from a judge in order to execute a search of an individual’s home, car, or body. If any evidence obtained was done so without a proper warrant, it cannot be brought into court because of the “exclusionary rule,” which was most extensively formulated in Mapp v. Ohio (1961).
While many have been paying attention to the Zimmerman case, or even worse, the Paula Deen affair, a hunger strike that has been going on for months in the dark abyss that is Guantanamo Bay has come to a head.
Since March, more than 160 of the detainees have participated in this strike, and around a hundred are still at it. Shaker Aamer, a British permanent resident who was captured in 2001 and who has been held in indefinite detention, is on his 149th day without eating. This protest is very similar to the one that occurred in 2005, during which between 150-200 detainees refused to eat any food over several months. It was reported then that 80 of the captives approached serious health conditions, having dropped down to less than 100 pounds in weight. Some lost a third of their weight, others more.
Journalist Andy Worthington described one of the detainees as appearing “skeletal… [his] legs looked like bones with skin wrapped tight around them.” Some even committed suicide; although their deaths have been contested to be retribution for acting as the leaders of the hunger strike. Although not many statistics have been provided, and even fewer journalists are allowed entrance, information and reports can be pieced together to understand this most recent strike in the context of indefinite detention and human rights abuses.
Both of these strikes are motivated by similar principles: the protest of the prisoners' innocence, their treatment by authorities, and the absence of any trials.
Both of them saw the use of similar tactics: the use of inhumane and painful force-feeding tubes that are inserted into the nostrils of detainees, while strapped down, to force liquid nourishment down their throats.
Fortunately, America remains the greatest place in the world to live and call home. We celebrated the essence of that greatness over the weekend for Independence Day — the fabled anniversary of July 4th, 1776, the date that the Founding Fathers declared independence from the tyranny of King George III. It's a celebration of freedom and radicalism, and one that we should take more seriously as a country.
Though it's hard to appreciate the message behind the holiday when actions that subvert our freedom occur every day. Ask yourself: Are we truly free?
Now take this video for example, which went viral this weekend thanks to sites like Reddit:
The nearly 3 million-view video shows 21-year-old Chris Kalbaugh being harassed and constitutionally violated at a DUI checkpoint in Rutherford County, Tennessee by Deputy A.J. Ross and other officers. Despite not having committed a crime nor been charged with one, the officers swarm his car and use a K-9 to issue a "false alert" in order to search it. Kalbaugh ever expressed his rights to the officers, but no such luck. From the video:
Deputy Ross: “Are you an attorney or something? You know what the law is?”
Kalbaugh: “Yes sir, I do."
Deputy Ross: “OK, what is the law?”
Kalbaugh: “The law says at checkpoints I have to stop. And I did. That is all. I’m not required to answer any questions. I have Constitutional freedom to travel without being randomly stopped and questioned."
The officers continued their search unimpeded. When nothing turned up, Deputy Ross says, "He’s perfectly innocent and he knows his rights. He knows what the Constitution says.” Another officer off-camera says, "It wasn't a very good alert."
► Edward Snowden is responsible for what is being described as the “biggest intelligence leak in the NSA’s history.”
► I don’t know the details on everything he leaked, but remember all that news from last week about the NSA spying on users of Facebook, Google, Yahoo, etc.? That came from Snowden’s whistle-blowing. His own summary of the leak is:
“That the NSA routinely lies in response to congressional inquiries about the scope of surveillance in America. I believe that when [senator Ron] Wyden and [senator Mark] Udall asked about the scale of this, they [the NSA] said it did not have the tools to provide an answer. We do have the tools and I have maps showing where people have been scrutinised most. We collect more digital communications from America than we do from the Russians."
► Glenn Greenwald did an interview with Snowden in which they discussed his motivations for whistle-blowing and much more. It’s definitely worth a read. Here’s a taste:
Q: Why did you decide to become a whistleblower?
A: “The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards.
“I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under.”
On Thursday October 25, 2012 the University of New Orleans was in for a frightening experience. Our YAL chapter set up a Graveyard of 15 Civil Liberties which were laid in their final resting place. Each of the 15 liberties are currently being violated by one of the three levels of government. We did not solely concentrate on federal wrongdoings. By including violations that were occurring at the state level, local level and even at the university, we stressed that no government or government entity can abuse their power by trampling over your rights. The 15 civil liberties we chose are as listed below along with how they are being infringed:
Health Freedom: The individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act forces you to purchase health insurance with threat of taxation or jail time.
Private Property: The Supreme Court has ruled that the government can take your private property under the takings clause of the Constitution and redistribute it to a corporation. Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469
Right to Bear Arms: In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina armed Federal Agents illegally entered private homes and seized all guns from law abiding gun owners regardless of caliber or style. When people needed their guns the most, to protect their family and homes, they were not there.
The tone of the Democratic National Convention was set early when a DNC video on Tuesday included the line "The government is the only thing we all belong to":
Since 2008, Democrats have reversed or buffered their positions onindefinite detention, warrantless surveillance, racial profiling in fighting terrorism, and closing Guantanamo. Many civil libertarians voted for Barack Obama and the Democrats in 2008 in hopes that they would follow through on the promise to roll back the pervasive War on Terror. Instead, the current administration and the Democratic Party, demonstrated through floor votes and party platforms, has evidenced a disinterest in defending constitutional liberties of United States citizens.
Many conservatives were up in arms over a possible attempt to remove "God" from the Democratic Platform. As it turns out, the Democrats also removed the individual.
If you'd like to compare the DNC's last and current platforms, check them out here:
In honor of international Free Speech Week (April 1st through 8th), YAL at the University of Central Florida will be hosting a speaker from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), Mr. Robert Shibley. Shibley is the Senior Vice President for FIRE and is a graduate of Duke Law School.
Topics that will be discussed include, but are not limited to, free speech on college campuses, due process rights with student conduct boards, and viewpoint neutrality. FIRE is a strategic partner with YAL and has helped chapters/students at their universities. Here is a recent example where FIRE helped out a YAL chapter at the University of Cincinnati over a "free speech zone."
UCF YAL will be promoting this event through tabling and flyers and co-hosting this event with UCF College Republicans and NORML. Free speech and due process rights are issues that affect all students on college campuses!