NORMAN SOLOMON – At the top of the federal government, even a brief shutdown of â€œcore NSA operationsâ€ is unthinkable. But at the grassroots, a permanent shutdown of the NSA should be more than thinkable; we should strive to make it achievable. And since “Total Information Awareness,” in the form of content storage at the NSA’s Bluffdale, Utah, complex, is technologically within reach, we should at least demand closure of the agencyâ€™s mega-Orwellian center in Bluffdale.
NORMAN SOLOMON – Thereâ€™s something profoundly despicable about a Justice Department that would brazenly violate the First and Fourth Amendments while spying on journalists, then claim to be reassessing such policies after an avalanche of criticism — and then proceed, as it did this week, to gloat that those policies made possible a long prison sentence for a journalistic source.
JONATHAN D. SALANT – A majority of U.S. registered voters consider Edward Snowden a whistle-blower, not a traitor, and a plurality says government anti-terrorism efforts have gone too far in restricting civil liberties, a poll released recently shows.
LAWRENCE WITTNER – The Republican Party has stood up with remarkable consistency for the post-9/11 U.S. government policies of widespread surveillance, indefinite detention without trial, torture, and extraordinary rendition. It has also supported government subsidies for religious institutions, government restrictions on immigration and free passage across international boundaries, government denial of collective bargaining rights for public sector workers, government attacks on public use of public space (for example, the violent police assaults on the Occupy movement), and government interference with womenâ€™s right to abortion and doctorsâ€™ right to perform it.
DAVID SWANSON – Fifty thousand members of RootsAction.org signed a petition at http://StarsEarnStripes.org protesting NBC’s war-is-fun “reality” show co-hosted by former general Wesley Clark. Activists in New York have held a weekly protest and delivered the petitions. The final protest is at 5 p.m. this evening (Sept. 3) on the north side of W. 49th St. between 5th and 6th Avenues in New York City.
ADAM KLASFELD – A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction to block provisions of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that would allow the military to indefinitely detain anyone it accuses of knowingly or unknowingly supporting terrorism.
NANCY SCOLA – Public Safety and Elections was not quite a rogue unit, it was a distraction. Today’s release from ALEC was titled ‘ALEC Sharpens Focus,’ and the theme continued in its body, which said the group was recommitting to its ‘efforts on the economic front, a priority that has been the hallmark of out organization for decades.’
RUSS BAKER – Is the president being asked to pound yet another nail into the coffin of democratic expression? So say alarmist scenarios concerning HR 347 (the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011), now on the presidentâ€™s desk.
STEVEN ROSENFELD – Across America many cities and police forces are eyeing new ways to crack down on protesters. The First Amendment right to assemble and protest is going to get a black eye in 2012â€”as it has every time there has been an upsurge in Americaâ€™s social justice movements.
DAVID SWANSON – Attorney General Eric Holder explained last week why it’s legal to murder people…
BRIAN J. TRAUTMAN – Each year, Congress authorizes the budget of the Department of Defense through a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA of 2012, however, is unlike any previous ones. This yearâ€™s legislation contains highly controversial provisions that empower the Armed Forces to engage in civilian law enforcement and to selectively suspend due process and habeas corpus, as well as other rights guaranteed by the 5th and 6th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, for terror suspects apprehended on U.S. soil.
REP. JOHN CONYERS, JR – On February 8, we were able to vote down the House Republican Leadership’s effort to extend the PATRIOT Act surveillance law. It was a bipartisan victory, as most House Democrats and 26 brave Republicans voted to stop the bill under the special rules the Republicans invoked. I was proud to take the lead in fighting this effort to further erode our civil liberties and even more pleased to be joined by Republican civil libertarians like Ron Paul of Texas.
JEFF COHEN AND NORMAN SOLOMON – While Washington pundits are talking up a new civility, many progressives are bracing for the old servility — a bipartisanship that is servile to a corporate elite that is unquenchably greedy and more powerful than ever. But this is not a time for despair. Itâ€™s a time for new activism — built upon one of the great achievements of the last decade: the rise of independent media.
PETER BERGEL — On October 1, The PeaceWorker ran an article on the frightening and unconscionable FBI raids on peace workers that happened in the Minneapolis area and elsewhere. Since then, some activists have refused to cooperate with a Grand Jury, thereby running the risk that they will be jailed.
WENDY MCELROY — In response to a flood of Facebook and YouTube videos that depict police abuse, a new trend in law enforcement is gaining popularity. In at least three states, it is now illegal to record any on-duty police officer. Even if the encounter involves you and may be necessary to your defense, and even if the recording is on a public street where no expectation of privacy exists.
NORMAN SOLOMON — If President Obama has his way, Elena Kagan will replace John Paul Stevens — and the Supreme Court will move rightward. The nomination is very disturbing, especially because itâ€™s part of a pattern.
KEN McCORMACK: The Fourth of July is when “We, the people,Ã¢â‚¬Â light up the sky with conspicuous consumption â€” blowing up millions of dollars because it’s pretty. Sometimes, it seems as though we are indeed only killer apes, as the anthropologist said, whose salient feature is a love of things that go “bang.”Â But the founders thought differently. They aimed their fireworks at bad government, at the “system” that enslaves the rest of us. So what are we celebrating? The trillions of our dollars transferred to the Power Elite in order to save their country?
MARK KRAMER: On June 17, an overflow crowd of 100 attended a forum titled “Civil Liberties Under Obama: Are We Still At Risk?” at Portland State University. The event was sponsored by the Portland Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), the ACLU of Oregon, Peace and Justice Works, the American Constitution Society, and others. Participants included Steve Wilker (ACLU cooperating attorney), Tom Nelson (NLG attorney litigating against the NSA for warrantless wiretapping), Jo Ann Bowman (Executive Director of Oregon Action and former State Rep, co-host of KBOO FM community radio), Steven Wax (Federal Public Defender – author of Kafka Comes to America, Fighting for Justice in the War on TerrorÃ¢â‚¬Â), Ashlee Albies (NLG attorney litigating against the government over warrantless surveillance) and David Fidanque (Executive Director of the ACLU of Oregon).