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Posts Tagged ‘ACLU’

Tea Partiers Help ACLU, House Dems Stop Patriot Act Renewal

TPM Muckraker

Susan Crabtree and Ryan J. Reilly | February 9, 2011, 9:27AM

The American Civil Liberties Union’s Michelle Richardson didn’t know where things stood ahead of the House’s vote expended certain provisions of the PATRIOT Act last night.

“I have no special inside knowledge on how this is going to shake down, but we’re certainly going to be watching it closely,” she told TPM ahead of the Tuesday night vote.

The big mystery was how the Tea Party-backed members would break on the first national security vote in the new Congress — and whether the libertarian leanings of members from the right could align with concerns about government overreach on the left. Richardson said they’d be “seeing if the small government beliefs that have been espoused also apply in the national security context.”

In the end, 26 Republicans broke with their leadership to oppose the bill, which still gained a majority of votes (227 to 148) but didn’t pass.

While the bill to extend certain provisions of the PATRIOT Act had the support of the White House, it was a coalition of Democrats and Republicans that stopped the legislation from reaching the two-thirds vote needed under the House’s expedited procedures. The extension could still pass with a simple majority under a different process.

Under the provisions that are set to expire, the government is allowed to set up roving wiretaps, track foreign citizens who might be acting alone in plotting attacks and gain easy access to certain types of business records.

HERE

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The Berkeley Daily Planet

Cornell, TP and Yoo

From Matt Cornell
Tuesday April 20, 2010

According to a press release from Los Angeles artist Matt Cornell, students at UC Berkeley were surprised to discover a new brand of toilet paper in the stalls of the law school building this morning.

Cornell made a private donation of ” Yoo Toilet Paper ” protesting the tenure of controversial Bush lawyer, and author of the “torture memos,” Professor John Yoo.

Each roll of toilet paper contains text from the United Nations Convention Against Torture, just one of the many laws that critics say Yoo violated when authorizing the use of torture against detainees.

Cornell says that the irreverent prank is intended to remind Berkeley’s law students that Professor Yoo helped turned human rights laws into toilet paper. At the bottom of each roll is a reminder that “this toilet paper was made by possible by John Yoo, Professor of Law.”

Cornell also notes that his brand of toilet paper is softer and of higher quality than that provided by cash-strapped UC Berkeley and contains “valuable reading material” for law students.

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Sahil Kapur, Raw Story, March 17, 2010

Senior Bush administration officials sternly cautioned the 9/11 Commission against probing too deeply into the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, according to a document recently obtained by the ACLU.

The notification came in a letter dated January 6, 2004, addressed by Attorney General John Ashcroft, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and CIA Director George J. Tenet. The ACLU described it as a fax sent by David Addington, then-counsel to former vice president Dick Cheney.

In the message, the officials denied the bipartisan commission’s request to question terrorist detainees, informing its two senior-most members that doing so would “cross” a “line” and obstruct the administration’s ability to protect the nation.

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John Yoo

ACLU Sues Justice Department On Torture Report

TPM Muckraker

Zachary Roth | January 25, 2010, 9:08AM

The ACLU filed suit Friday in a bid to force the Justice Department to release its internal report on torture.

The long-awaited report from the department’s Office of Professional Ethics considers whether DOJ lawyers like John Yoo broke ethics rules in writing the memos that approved torture.

In November, Attorney General Eric Holder testified that it would likely be out by the end of the month. At that time, the department said it was going through the normal review process.

In December, the ACLU had filed a FOIA request for the report.

ACLU lawyer Jameel Jaffer said in a press release:

Under the Bush administration, the Office of Legal Counsel issued a series of memos intended to permit interrogators to use methods that the United States had previously described as war crimes. As a result of those memos, hundreds of prisoners were abused and tortured, and some were even killed during the course of interrogations. The public has a legitimate interest in knowing whether the authors of the memos violated ethical rules as well as the criminal laws, and in ensuring that those who wrote the memos, as well as those who authorized torture, are held accountable. The release of the ethics report is long overdue.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Feeling Nervous? 3,000 Behavior Detection Officers Will Be Watching You at the Airport This Thanksgiving

By Liliana Segura, AlterNet. Posted November 24, 2009.

Nearly 100,000 passengers were pulled aside by TSA behavior watchers last year, and it remains to be proven whether you can spot terrorists by the looks on their faces.

Here’s a question to ponder the next time you’re taking off your shoes at airport security: Can you spot terrorists by the look on their faces?

For the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the answer is yes. For the past few years, airports across the country have been using what many call “behavioral surveillance” to weed out potential hijackers among us, by covertly examining travelers’ facial expressions and body language as they go through security. Unlike those airport employees who herd us along as we remove our shoes and relinquish all liquids over three ounces (with dubious results), this new program, named “Screening Passengers by Observational Techniques,” or “SPOT,” is carried out by TSA employees who have been trained to monitor travelers’ faces and movements. As Americans head out of town this holiday season, more than 3,000 “Behavior Detection Officers” will be at 161 airports nationwide, watching our every move.

The TSA boasts that the SPOT program is “derivative of other successful behavioral analysis programs that have been employed by law enforcement and security personnel both in the U.S. and around the world.” Yet, the success of the SPOT program remains highly questionable. This month the Washington Post reported that, in 2008 alone, Behavior Detection Officers across the country pulled 98,805 passengers aside for additional screenings, out of which 9,854 were questioned by local police. 813 were eventually arrested.

The cost of the program, according to TSA spokesperson Ann Davis, was $3.1 million.

In an e-mail correspondence with AlterNet, Davis could not say how many of the 813 arrests led to convictions — or for that matter, whether any terrorists were caught. “Many of the SPOT cases that resulted in arrests remain under active investigation by law enforcement,” she said. “TSA doesn’t always hear back from the investigative agencies on the outcome of the cases so we cannot track convictions.”

But as Stephen Soldz, Director of the Center for Research, Evaluation, and Program Development at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis points out, “Even if the arrests are justified, they are less than 1 percent of the total singled out. What happens to more than 9,000 who are subjected to questioning and released?”

This question cuts to the heart of protests by civil liberties advocates and others who argue that, not only is the SPOT program a violation of people’s privacy, but it is actually counterproductive, a wasteful exercise in false positives.

“By the math alone, rare events are impossible to accurately detect,” says Soldz. “One will either miss most of what one is interested in [false negatives] or else identify many people falsely [false positives].”

MORE HERE

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Morning Star Online, Thursday 05 November 2009

by Paul Haste

Prosecutor Armando Spataro speaking in court in Milan

Prosecutor Armando Spataro speaking in court in Milan

An Italian court’s conviction of 23 CIA agents for extraordinary rendition has been hailed by human rights campaigners as a “historic repudiation” of the US intelligence agency’s crimes.

The agents, including one alleged to have been a CIA station chief in Milan, were given jail sentences ranging up to eight years for the crime of kidnapping Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr and secretly transporting him to Egypt to be tortured.

Mr Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, was snatched in Milan on 17 February 2003 in a joint operation between the CIA and Italian military intelligence.

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By Danielle Kurtzleben, Inter Press Service News

WASHINGTON, Aug 14 (IPS) – The U.S. government continues to withhold even the most basic information about prisoners in the Bagram detention facility in Afghanistan, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a New York-based legal rights organisation.

An April 2009 ACLU Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents and information about the detainment of prisoners at Bagram has yielded dead ends with both the Department of Defence (DOD) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The ACLU wants the Obama Administration to make these records public, including information about “the number of people currently detained at Bagram, their names, citizenship, place of capture and length of detention, as well as records pertaining to the process afforded those prisoners to challenge their detention and designation as ‘enemy combatants.’”

Continued >>

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