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Posts Tagged ‘ACLU’

Greenwald: The ACLU, Prior To COVID, Denounced Mandates And Coercive Measures To Fight Pandemics

Posted by M. C. on September 9, 2021

While such a scheme is different in degree from vaccine passports let alone vaccine mandates — which the ACLU is now championing — its rationale for opposing such a system is fully applicable: “there are serious civil liberties and civil rights harms from making workplace decisions on that basis,” adding: “any immunity passport system endangers privacy rights by creating a new surveillance infrastructure to collect health data.”

Tyler Durden's Photoby Tyler Durden

Authored by Glenn Greenwald via,

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) surprised even many of its harshest critics this week when it strongly defended coercive programs and other mandates from the state in the name of fighting COVID. “Far from compromising them, vaccine mandates actually further civil liberties,” its Twitter account announced, adding that “vaccine requirements also safeguard those whose work involves regular exposure to the public.”

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Watch “ACLU Flips! Vaccine Passport Obsession Accelerates” on YouTube

Posted by M. C. on September 9, 2021

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All Gun Control is Racist | The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on August 3, 2021

This whole argument by the ACLU shows the complete lack of principles that is fundamental to a “Living Constitution”—when a text can mean anything, it will always mean nothing.

It is a sad fact that when our government created this brilliant charter that is the Constitution, premised on limited government and individual liberty, we did not truly live those values right away. But the ACLU doesn’t really believe the Second Amendment is racist, they just don’t like the fact that the majority of Americans have not fully submitted to the government as their one and only protector. They need us to give up our guns for that to happen.

by Bob Fiedler

One could make a very good argument that our nation’s oldest and most successful gun control advocacy group was the Ku Klux Klan. Their earliest incarnation was largely a means of disarming newly freed blacks. For the last five years we have been hearing from much of the corporate media networks, such as CNN and MSNBC, that our nation is awash in Klansmen all across the country preaching their hateful belief in white supremacy.

This has seemed like an utterly baseless claim, built on the idea of “dog whistling racists” spreading their rhetoric with a wink and a nod. But over the last week I have come to realize they are absolutely right. They have cleverly taken off their hoods and white robes in exchange for a three-piece suit and a law degree as their distinguishing means of secret identification of their fellow bigots and appear to have gone through some serious rebranding. Changing the name of their organization from the KKK to the ACLU.

It was also about five years ago when the ACLU put out a public statement that their organization had decided to stop considering taking on any litigation that was predicated on defending the right to keep and bear arms as an essential civil liberty. But nothing could have prepared me for the more recently announced position from this organization which I once held in the highest regard. That the Second Amendment isn’t a right, it’s a manifestation of white supremacy and anti-blackness. Not only has the ACLU turned its back on the Bill of Rights they were founded to protect, they have collectively forgotten how to even read the Constitution.

The Constitution is not the law that governs us. The Constitution is the law that governs those who govern us. To act as though the Second Amendment is a grant to the people of a right to keep and bear arms is a legal absurdity. The right of every individual to defend themselves by force of arms is a natural right we had before our government was formed and it is a right we will have long after the American Empire collapses. As the preamble to the Bill of Rights states:

The States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added

The Second Amendment has nothing to do with protecting our right to arms. It is a declaratory statement that reminds the government that because this right exists, independent of any document stating as much, that they have no business ever taking arms from any individual.

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About Bob Fiedler

Bob Fiedler is a constitutional law scholar and legal commentator from the Twin Cities and host of the “Categorical Imperatives Podcast” where he discuss current events in law, politics & culture from the perspective of a constitutional lawyer and a libertarian moral philosophy. Find Bob at Substack, Odysee, Patreon and LBRY

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ACLU Declares Second Amendment ‘Racist,’ Launches ‘War on Bill of Rights’ | The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on July 28, 2021

In fact, racist gun control goes back further than the constitution. Perhaps the first known attempt at disarming citizens in the new world occurred in 1751 when the French Black code was enacted requiring colonists to “stop any blacks, and if necessary, beat any black carrying any potential weapon, such as a cane.”

This attempt to disarm blacks was repeated under United States’ rule 50 years later when the U.S. purchased the Louisiana territory. According to a paper published in the Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy:

by Matt Agorist

For years, the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU, has chosen to stand against those who would attack our Constitutional rights. Even the Free Thought Project has been supported by the organization when a California sheriff attempted to force us to delete an article that was damning to his organization. Over the past several years, however, there has been a sort of rift happening inside the organization, with your right to self-defense right in the center of it.

While they have been vehemently fighting for the right of transgender athletes to compete in sports, the ACLU has largely chosen to remain silent on the Second Amendment. Though they have supported most every amendment in the bill of rights, their position on gun rights has remained ambiguous and nuanced—perhaps deliberately. But that all changed this week when they ran an article with an embedded podcast that claimed the Second Amendment is rooted in racism.

As Gleen Greenwald points out:

The ACLU is now waging war on the Bill of Rights.

ACLU’s position on the Second Amendment has always been nuanced: it’s an important constitutional protection, but one that’s collective, not individual.

Now they’re full on proclaiming parts of the Bill of Rights to be racist.

The ACLU is now waging war on the Bill of Rights.

ACLU’s position on the Second Amendment has always been nuanced: it’s an important constitutional protection, but one that’s collective, not individual.

Now they’re full on proclaiming parts of the Bill of Rights to be racist.

— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) July 26, 2021

Without a single fact to back up their claims, an article on the ACLU’s website claimed “Anti-Blackness determined the inclusion of the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights, and has informed the unequal and racist application of gun laws.”

As those who have read history understand, this is not true at all. In fact, it is the exact opposite. Gun control—not gun rights—was pushed with the impetus of anti-Blackness behind it.

Nowhere in the Second Amendment does it say anything about the color of one’s skin determining their ability to own a weapon. However, slave-owning and racist lawmakers throughout history have attempted to disarm black citizens which is the exact opposite of “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

When the first U. S. official arrived in New Orleans in 1803 to take charge of this new American possession, the planters sought to have the existing free black militia disarmed, and otherwise exclude “free blacks from positions in which they were required to bear arms,” including such non-military functions as slave-catching crews.

The Ku Klux Klan often times attempted to enact similar “Black Codes” that barred the newly freed slaves from exercising their basic civil rights. One such example of these new laws was an act passed in the state of Mississippi that stated:

no freedman, free negro or mulatto, not in the military service of the United States government, and not licensed so to do by the board of police of his or her county, shall keep or carry fire-arms of any kind, or any ammunition, dirk or bowie knife, and on conviction thereof in the county court shall be punished by fine

This law clearly flies in the face of the Second Amendment, yet the ACLU takes their stance anyway.

After the passage of these laws, numerous studies concluded that the newly freed slaves had essentially been rendered defenseless against groups like the Ku Klux Klan. Disarming them, essentially made them slave once again — after their Second Amendment rights were removed.

Contrary to the ACLU’s inaccurate assertion, it wasn’t the Second Amendment that sought to disarm black people, it was attacks on it—which were similar in kind to what the ACLU is doing right now.

When Republican congressmen passed the Freedman’s Bureau Bill attempting to secure the right to bear arms for Blacks in the south, the Supreme Court overturned it in what was known as The Cruikshank decision. This decision emboldened groups like the Klan, who in turn began gaining control over local governments to pass racist new laws. As Reason magazine noted:

In deference to the Fourteenth Amendment, some states did cloak their laws in neutral, non-racial terms. For example, the Tennessee legislature barred the sale of any handguns except the “Army and Navy model.” The ex-Confederate soldiers already had their high quality “Army and Navy” guns. But cash-poor freedmen could barely afford lower-cost, simpler firearms not of the “Army and Navy” quality. Arkansas enacted a nearly identical law in 1881, and other Southern states followed suit, including Alabama (1893), Texas (1907), and Virginia (1925).

As Jim Crow intensified, other Southern states enacted gun registration and handgun permit laws. Registration came to Mississippi (1906), Georgia (1913), and North Carolina (1917). Handgun permits were passed in North Carolina (1917), Missouri (1919), and Arkansas (1923).

Pro-Black groups have been advocating against these attacks and racist interpretations of the Second Amendment for decades.

In 1966, California law did not attack the Second Amendment like it does today and it actually allowed citizens to open carry firearms. The Black Panthers exercised this freedom by organizing armed patrols to follow police and ensure they performed their duties professionally. The following year, thirty panthers staged an armed protest in front of the California state house declaring, “The time has come for black people to arm themselves.”

The protest frightened former California Governor Ronald Reagan who, in response, worked with the NRA to support the 1967 Mulford Act. The act lead to California having arguably the strongest gun laws in the nation. As Adam Winkler, the author of Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms later noted:

“The law was part of a wave of laws that were passed in the late 1960s regulating guns, especially to target African-Americans.”

Again, it was not the gun rights that were racist, as the ACLU would lead you to believe, it was gun control.

Fortunately, the National African American Gun Association, NAAGA, does not hold the same opinion as the ACLU. This group, which was officially started and launched on February 28, 2015, in honor of Black History Month with a single chapter in Atlanta, has grown to more than 75 chapters nationwide with more than 30,000 members.

Thankfully, according to NAAGA, most Black folks don’t agree with the ACLU’s stance on the right to self-defense.

According to NAAGA, the perception and reality of African Americans owning guns is changing. In 2012, the Pew Research Center conducted a national survey and found that only 29% of African-American households viewed guns as positive. In 2015, that same survey showed a dramatic jump to 59% where now a majority of African-American families see guns as not only a positive thing but, in many cases, a necessity. In today’s society, every member of our community, if they want, can legally purchase a gun. African Americans in record numbers are now joining gun clubs, going to the gun range, participating in outdoor hunting, and even participating in competitive shooting events. Single Black women are now one of the fastest growing demographic groups in the African-American community who are purchasing guns for protection. The future is bright for active firearm ownership within our community now and for years to come.

If you would like to know how all gun control is racist, listen to our podcast with Maj Toure, who educates people in urban communities on their Second Amendment rights and responsibilities through firearms training, when he says, “Black Guns Matter.”

This article was originally featured at The Free Thought Project

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No Warrant, No Problem; How Government Buys Its Way Around the 4th Amendment | The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on February 27, 2021

But since then, government agencies have devised a new surveillance method: instead of getting warrants to force companies to provide data, they simply purchase the information from brokers. Call it entrepreneurial innovation in the market for tyranny.

by Ken Silva

When the Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that law enforcement agencies need warrants before they can request geolocation data from cell phone companies, civil liberties advocates touted the judgment as a major win for privacy.

But since then, government agencies have devised a new surveillance method: instead of getting warrants to force companies to provide data, they simply purchase the information from brokers. Call it entrepreneurial innovation in the market for tyranny.

The scope of this activity has been slowly revealed over the last year, beginning with a February 2020 Wall Street Journal article, which reported that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has “bought access to a commercial database that maps the movements of millions of cellphones in American and is using it for immigration and border enforcement.” Later reports revealed that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) purchase similar data.

Had the world not essentially collapsed about a month later, this might have been big news. Alas, government’s data purchases have gone largely unpublicized in the midst of pandemics, riots, elections, and so on.

Even though geolocation data purchases are a norm in government, there are some public officials who agree with civil libertarians that the programs are unconstitutional. For example, in a memo made public this week, the inspector general for the Department of Treasury criticized the IRS for purchasing location information.

According to the IG’s memo, the IRS subscribed to a geolocation database provided by the data broker Venntel. The inspector general shared his view that the IRS program likely violated the Fourth Amendment and the precedent set by the Supreme Court in Carpenter v. US.

However, the IG’s opinion is far from government consensus. In fact, the IG’s memo notes that the IRS shuttered its geolocation tracking program not because of concerns about its constitutionality, but only because it wasn’t useful—a similar fate to what happened with the NSA’s bulk metadata collection.

Other departments have also expressed the opinion that bulk data purchases are constitutional. The Defense Intelligence Agency said in a memo made public last month that it can buy bulk data because the Supreme Court’s Carpenter decision only applies to law enforcement—and not to intelligence agencies.

“The court did not consider ‘collection techniques involving…national security,’” the memo said. “By extension, the court did not address the process, if any, associated with commercial acquisition of bulk commercial geolocation data for foreign intelligence/counter-intelligence purposes.”

Nor does the Biden Administration seem interested in checking the geolocation tracking programs. When new National Intelligence Director Avril Haines was asked about the programs during her confirmation process, she played lip service to the importance that “American people have an understanding of when, and under what authorities, the government is buying their private data”—but she said nothing about curtailing such surveillance.

If it’s indeed important for Americans to know how they’re being tracked, then it’s unclear why the DSH, CBP and ICE are still contesting a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union to produce records about their geolocation tracking programs. Again, this ACLU lawsuit isn’t even challenging the tracking programs— it’s only trying to wrangle records from them—and yet government is insistent on pursuing litigation that could last years.

By the time the Supreme Court would make any rulings on the geolocation tracking programs, it could be nearing the end of the decade, and government agencies will almost certainly have found another workaround by then.

“If law enforcement agencies can buy their way around the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement, the landmark protection announced by the Supreme Court in Carpenter will be in peril,” the ACLU said when announcing its lawsuit in December.

Unfortunately, it’s apparent that the Carpenter decision has long passed the point of peril, taking the entire Fourth Amendment with it.

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‘The Day Has Arrived’ Snowden Hails Appeals Court Ruling Slamming NSA Metadata Harvesting as Illegal – Sputnik International

Posted by M. C. on September 4, 2020

I wouldn’t be in a big hurry to take the tape off your cell and computer cameras.


The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on 2 September lauded the ruling by the US Court of Appeals that the mass surveillance programme conducted by the National Security Agency, including bulk collection of phone records, was illegal. The ACLU called described it as a “victory for our privacy rights”.

Former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee turned whistleblower Edward Snowden responded on Wednesday to a ruling by the US Court of Appeals that the US National Security Agency’s mass surveillance programme, including the bulk collection of citizens’ phone records, was illegal.

​The programme, believed to have been discontinued in 2015 when Congress passed the USA Freedom Act, had extended beyond the scope of what Congress allowed under a foundational surveillance law, ruled a panel of judges, acknowledging that it was possibly a violation of the US Constitution.

The former NSA contractor tweeted that he had been “charged as a criminal for speaking the truth”.

Snowden was referring to the trove of classified intelligence data detailing the sweeping American domestic surveillance programme that he had leaked in 2013 and for which he is wanted in the US on charges of espionage and treason.

Naureen Shah, director of Amnesty International USA's Security & Human Rights Program, holds up a photo of Edward Snowden during a news conference to call upon President Barack Obama to pardon Snowden before he leaves office, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016, in New York. Human and civil rights organizations, including the ACLU, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, launched a public campaign to persuade Obama to pardon the former National Security Agency contractor, who leaked classified details in 2013 of the U.S. government's warrantless surveillance program before fleeing to Russia.
© AP Photo / Mary Altaffer
Naureen Shah, director of Amnesty International USA’s Security & Human Rights Program, holds up a photo of Edward Snowden during a news conference to call upon President Barack Obama to pardon Snowden before he leaves office, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016, in New York. Human and civil rights organizations, including the ACLU, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, launched a public campaign to persuade Obama to pardon the former National Security Agency contractor, who leaked classified details in 2013 of the U.S. government’s warrantless surveillance program before fleeing to Russia.

Snowden tweeted that he was now being “credited” for his actions to “expose the illegal spying practices” conducted by US intelligence agencies.

NSA Phone-spying Unlawful

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had made its ruling, written by Judge Marsha Berzon, on Wednesday, to acknowledge that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act didn’t permit the bulk collection of phone users’ call records.

“The metadata collection exceeded the scope of Congress’s authorisation,” the judge is cited by Business Insider as saying.

The court also upheld convictions of four members of the Somali diaspora. for sending, or conspiring to send, $10,900 to Somalia to support a foreign terrorist organisation, concluding that the NSA’s phone record collection was not relevant to their convictions.

The federal appeals court additionally concluded there was no evidence the sweeping surveillance programme resulted in the arrests of any suspected terrorists.

After the NSA’s programme to harvest phone records was first leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013 and triggered public outrage, US intelligence officials publicly defended it by insisting it had helped thwart terror attacks.

“To the extent the public statements of government officials created a contrary impression, that impression is inconsistent with the contents of the classified record,” says the ruling.

There has been no official comment from the NSA.

After the US Court of Appeals made its ruling, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) tweeted that the move was a “victory for privacy rights”.

Mass Snooping Exposed

In June 2013, Edward Snowden leaked classified material to The Washington Post and The Guardian newspapers pertaining to a domestic mass surveillance programme that collected telephone, email and internet browsing data, despite this being prohibited by US law without a court order.

After the revelations and subsequent public outrage, the US Congress passed the Freedom Act in 2015 to significantly restrain the legality of mass data collection.

Since June 2013, Edward Snowden has been wanted in the United States on two counts of violating the Espionage Act and theft of government property.

Having initially fled to Hong Kong, the threat of extradition to his home country forced him to seek refuge in Russia. In 2014 the whistleblower was granted a three-year residence permit which was prolonged in 2017.

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Did Maryland Police Shoot and Kill a Sleeping Man? | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on March 15, 2020

An initial police press release claims “firearms offenses” were involved, but now the authorities are being mum.

Duncan Lemp in 2019 (Courtesy of Lemp family) and stock photo SWAT CLP

“The constitution is dead” was the last tweet ever sent by 21-year-old Duncan Socrates Lemp.  On Thursday morning at 4:30 a.m., a Montgomery County SWAT team killed Lemp during a violent attack on his family’s home in the affluent Washington suburb of Potomac, Maryland.

Why did the SWAT team attack the home as Lemp was sleeping? The initial county police press release referred only to “firearms offenses.” County police spokeswoman Mary Davison refused to disclose either the details of Lemp’s alleged offense or the affidavit used to justify the raid.  Instead, she notified me that my press inquiries were being handled under the Maryland Public Information Act which entitles government agencies to delay responding for weeks or months.

Even the search warrant used to justify the raid is reportedly sealed for 30 days. This Blue Wall of Silence is doing nothing to slow the cascade of allegations on social media that Lemp was murdered.

According to Rene Sandler, a former prosecutor who is representing the Lemp family, Montgomery County police fired into the bedroom where Lemp and his pregnant girlfriend were sleeping without warning. The gunfire was followed by two flash-bang grenades.  The Supreme Court of North Carolina last month labeled flash-bangs a “weapon of mass death and destruction,” and a 2019 federal appeals court decision noted that flash bangs are “four times louder than a 12-gauge shotgun blast” with “a powerful enough concussive effect to break windows and put holes in walls.” Criminal defense lawyer Clay Conrad observed in 2010, flash-bangs are “just an assault. These things are designed to blind and deafen… You’re intentionally injuring people.”

And when gunfire and bombs ring out at 4:30 a.m., it is not surprising that someone gets killed in the commotion.  Montgomery County police have offered no explanation for the timing of the raid. Instead, they issued a press release late on the day of the killing announcing a “police-involved shooting” — a weasel phrase preferred by police departments and much of the media nowadays.

After Lemp, who was a software developer, was wounded, the police handcuffed the surviving family members and his girlfriend while conducting an exhaustive search of the house. Lemp was pronounced dead at the scene. On Friday evening, the police department posted photos of five firearms (none of which were apparently illegal in themselves) they seized during the raid but omitted including a photo of Lemp’s bullet-ridden corpse.  The police also modified their story to assert that Lemp had “confronted” the police officers.  But this could simply mean that he stood up after the shooting or took a step towards the window from where shots were entering. The police department has not asserted that Lemp had a firearm or any other dangerous device when he was slain.

Is the version of events that Sanders offers unfair to the police?  SWAT team members were reportedly wearing body cams. The ACLU of Maryland is demanding that the police “must be transparent and release all body camera footage” of the raid on Lemp’s home.  The county government’s refusal to answer questions or to disclose the body cam footage is doing nothing to help its credibility.

Why was Lemp targeted?  Lawyer Sandler said that the search warrant referred to Lemp as a “prohibited person” —meaning that he was prohibited from owning firearms. That could mean simply that he had a permit to use medical marijuana —a violation that would apply to tens of thousands of Maryland gun owners who use marijuana despite federal law prohibiting gunownership combined with pot smoking. A check of Montgomery County court records revealed one offense for Lemp:  a speeding ticket from last year. Court records state that Lemp was only 5′ 8″ and 145 pounds but he was towering enough to terrify a SWAT team into opening fire without warning.

Lemp was apparently a member of some online pro-gun groups and had allegedly expressed interest in joining a militia. His Instagram page shows two photos with the motto “Sic Semper Tyrannis”—the Virginia “Thus Always to Tyrants” state motto, including one photo showing firearms held high. Checking his Facebook page on Friday morning, I was surprised that he and I had seven mutual friends, including a savvy libertarian lawyer lady from California. Did Lemp’s political beliefs or associations have any role on his fatal targeting by the Montgomery County police?

Maryland has a long history of deadly SWAT raids that kill innocent people or dogs — lots of dogs. After Maryland police wrongfully raided a mayor’s house and killed his canines in 2008, the legislature required police to report on every SWAT raid.  Between 2010 and 2014, police in Maryland conducted over 8000 SWAT raids, killing nine people and injuring almost a hundred, as well as killing 14 animals.  Those grim statistics helped spur the Maryland legislature to end SWAT recordkeeping.

Montgomery County police have refused to disclose the name of the police officer or officers who killed Lemp.  Maryland police are protected by the so-called “Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights” that prohibits questioning a police officer for 10 days after any incident in which he used deadly force.  A 2019 George Washington Law Review nationwide survey revealed that 98% of police chiefs believed that delaying interrogations of police after a shooting can impede  investigations but police unions’ clout prevails on this issue. One police chief commented that “showing evidence in advance allows [police] to tailor their lies to fit the evidence,” while another police chief observed that that process simply gives police suspects “time to fabricate a better lie.”

Another barrier against finding the truth out about is the Potomac SWAT raid is that Maryland treats police falsifying evidence as the equivalent of jaywalking. A Baltimore police officer was found guilty in 2018 of “fabricating evidence in a case in which his own body-camera footage showed him placing drugs in a vacant lot and then acting as if he had just discovered them.”  The man who was arrested for those drugs was locked up for six months before the charge was dropped and he was released. The policeman kept his job because, as the Baltimore Sun explained, “Under Maryland law, officers are only removed automatically if convicted of a felony. Fabricating evidence and misconduct in office are both misdemeanors.”  An ACLU lawyer groused that he “cannot imagine a more screwed-up, idiotic way of trying to manage a police department or any other public office” than continuing to employ a cop convicted for fabricating evidence.

Was Duncan Lemp correct that “the constitution is dead”?  One answer will be found in whether Montgomery County police face any consequence for his death. Unfortunately, the legal playing field in Maryland is profoundly tilted in favor of official killers.

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Edward Snowden Responds After Trump DOJ Sues Whistleblower Over New Memoir the US Government “Does Not Want You to Read”

Posted by M. C. on September 19, 2019

By Julia Conley

Citing what First Amendment advocates have called an “unconstitutional” system of controlling what federal employees can and cannot say about their work, President Donald Trump’s Justice Department on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden over the publication of his new memoir.

The day the book Permanent Record was released, the DOJ filed its lawsuit claiming Snowden had published without submitting the book for “pre-publication review.”

The DOJ is not seeking to block publication of the book but is instead arguing that Snowden should not profit from the story of his 2013 decision to leak files about the NSA’s phone and email spying program since he didn’t have permission from the government to share the information.

The government wants all proceeds from the book and is asking MacMillan Publishers to keep any revenue from being transferred to Snowden.

Government approval is required of federal employees before they write or speak publicly about their work—a requirement that the ACLU says has kept millions of Americans from being able to speak openly about the government.

Snowden tweeted about the lawsuit shortly after it was reported, including a link to his book’s page on Amazon and the words, “This is the book the government does not want you to read.”

“Mr. Snowden wrote this book to continue a global conversation about mass surveillance and free societies that his actions helped inspire,” said Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project and a lawyer for Snowden. “He hopes that today’s lawsuit by the United States government will bring the book to the attention of more readers throughout the world.

“This book contains no government secrets that have not been previously published by respected news organizations,” added Wizner. “Had Mr. Snowden believed that the government would review his book in good faith, he would have submitted it for review. But the government continues to insist that facts that are known and discussed throughout the world are still somehow classified.”

The Movement for a People’s Party decried the Justice Department for continuing its “war on whistleblowers” targeting Snowden and others who in recent years have publicized government secrets, including war crimes.

The ACLU and the Knight First Amendment Institute are currently challenging the pre-publication review in court, arguing it violates the First and Fifth Amendments.

“The prepublication process in its current form is broken and unconstitutional, and it needs to go,” Brett Max Kaufman, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Center for Democracy, said in April when the groups filed suit. “It’s one thing to censor the nuclear codes, but it’s another to censor the same information high schoolers are pulling from Wikipedia. Prepublication review gives the government far too much power to suppress speech that the public has a right to hear.”

Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute, called the agreement that demands federal workers’ silence a “far-reaching censorship system” that “simply can’t be squared with the Constitution.”

“The government has a legitimate interest in protecting bona fide national-security secrets,” said Jaffer, “but this system sweeps too broadly, fails to limit the discretion of government censors, and suppresses political speech that is vital to informing public debate.”

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Red Flag Laws Spur Debate Over Due Process

Posted by M. C. on September 6, 2019

You know our situation is bad when you have PEW and the ACLU fretting over your gun related rights.

In the year since Florida enacted its red flag law, Kendra Parris has defended nearly 20 clients against risk protection orders that could remove their firearms.

The Orlando-based lawyer has long represented people who might be subject to the state’s involuntary mental health treatment provision. But when this new law, meant to protect against people who might be a harm to themselves or others, passed in the aftermath of the February 2018 Parkland mass shooting, she saw yet another opportunity for the state to potentially deprive certain people of their civil liberties.

“It’s almost like a shiny new toy for law enforcement,” Parris said, “filing them left and right.”

Since the law’s adoption, Florida courts have approved around 2,500 risk protection orders, according to an August count by NPR.

Since Parkland, at least six states and the District of Columbia have passed red flag laws, which allow law enforcement agencies that have gotten a court order to remove guns from people considered a harm to themselves or others. In the wake of high-profile shootings this summer in Ohio and Texas, including one that killed eight people in Midland-Odessa this past weekend, more state lawmakers are considering such laws, as are some members of Congress.

Many law enforcement officials firmly believe the laws save lives, and lawmakers say they can craft legislation that won’t infringe on civil liberties.

But for two decades, since the first such law was enacted in Connecticut, civil and gun rights advocates have protested that the seizures violate the U.S. Constitution’s due process guarantee — meaning residents have a right to fully argue their case in court.

“Rather than find clear and convincing evidence, [courts are] basically saying, ‘Better safe than sorry,’” Parris said.

Most red flag laws are vague on what constitutes a “significant danger,” which gives courts broad discretion to seize firearms, Parris said. And in some states, respondents are not guaranteed representation in court, since these are civil and not criminal matters.

Many defense lawyers say respondents fare much better with legal representation. Of Parris’ seven cases that have gone to a hearing, she has won five — which she said is a “vastly higher” success record than when someone represents themselves.

Due Process Concerns

Seventeen states and D.C. have laws on the books that allow law enforcement or family members to petition courts to remove weapons from people who may be dangerous and prevent them from buying other weapons for up to a year. In many of these states, bipartisan groups of lawmakers led the drive to pass the legislation.

States define “red flags” differently, but they largely follow the same process for taking away somebody’s guns.

If someone is showing signs of erratic behavior or expressed some intent to hurt themselves or others, they might be subject to an extreme risk protection order. In most states with red flag laws, family or community members can petition a court for those orders. But in Florida, Rhode Island and Vermont, law enforcement officials are the only ones who can petition to remove firearms.

If there is an immediate risk of harm, a court can issue a temporary ex parte order to seize guns from people for up to 14 days in most states. Other states range from two days to 45 days. At those hearings, a judge can issue the order by listening to evidence from the petitioner.

In many cases, the subject of a petition can’t present a defense until the final hearing. But that’s where the process gets legally dubious to some critics.

Dave Kopel, research director at the Independence Institute, a Denver-based libertarian think tank, said states have taken the same approach President Donald Trump spoke in favor of in March 2018: “Take the guns first, go through due process second.”

When it comes to seizing guns through a temporary order, the standards that a judge uses should be high, Kopel said. Vermont, he believes, has a fair system, which requires “specific facts” that show “an imminent and extreme risk.”

The situation becomes even more precarious when loved ones can petition for the removal of firearms, he said. Spurned former partners or family members seeking revenge might “weaponize” this tool, he said. Because of that, he argues, there should be a penalty for maliciously false accusations, which several states have adopted…

In Rhode Island, the American Civil Liberties Union originally came out against the state’s 2018 measure until the legislature tightened the standard for granting a petition, created penalties for providing false evidence of a threat, allowed only law enforcement to file petitions, required specific evidence and granted the right to legal counsel in hearings…

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Alabama Expands Law Allowing Private Police Forces — And the Opposition Goes Nuts | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on July 2, 2019

Thus, it’s not even clear that the church police force legally has much more power than would private civilians providing security.

Some colleges in PA have their own police force. What about private security guards/firms?

Government. Power and control over you.

Recently, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed legislation permitting Briarwood Presbyterian Church to establish its own police force for its church and school campuses, which are used by 2,000 students and faculty, as well as 4,000 parishioners. The legislation is to take effect in the fall. The church’s attorney who drafted the legislation, Eric Johnston, said that they have traditionally hired off-duty police officers to patrol their campuses, but they are not always available, and therefore the church would like to have its own dedicated sworn peace officer. The bill’s language is similar to that found in the Alabama Code, Section 16-22-1, which lists various educational institutions (including private ones) that may hire their own police officers who are charged with all the duties and powers of police officers, trained in the use of non-lethal weaponry, and certified by the Alabama Peace Officers’ Standards and Training Commission. Johnston stated that it would not involve a jail or other facilities, but basically an officer and an official car and “If there is an arrest on campus, the local jurisdiction would be called and they would come pick the person up.”

Of course, there has been the expected knee-jerk reaction regarding the desirability of such an arrangement. Randall Marshall of the Alabama ACLU, for instance, says the law will help the church cover-up criminal activity that occurs on its campuses, and that it is a violation of the First Amendment’s establishment clause because “It establishes a singular religion that is favored above all others in the state of Alabama and it gives them the authority of state government.”

It is interesting to note, however, that the functions the church wants the police to perform would not require sworn peace officers. Various media accounts of the story (for example, see here, here, and here), emphasize that the proposed police force would have the power to arrest people committing crimes on campus property, as if this would be a major power grab. However, in comparing the arrest powers of private citizens in Alabama (AL Code § 15-10-7) to those of a sworn officer without a warrant (AL Code § 15-10-3), one sees striking similarity.

Here is the statute on arrests by private persons:

 Section 15-10-7 Arrests by private persons.

(a) A private person may arrest another for any public offense:

(1) Committed in his presence;

(2) Where a felony has been committed, though not in his presence, by the person arrested; or

(3) Where a felony has been committed and he has reasonable cause to believe that the person arrested committed it.

(b) An arrest for felony may be made by a private person on any day and at any time.

(c) A private person must, at the time of the arrest, inform the person to be arrested of the cause thereof, except when such person is in the actual commission of an offense, or arrested on pursuit.

(d) If he is refused admittance, after notice of his intention, and the person to be arrested has committed a felony, he may break open an outer or inner door or window of a dwelling house.

(e) It is the duty of any private person, having arrested another for the commission of any public offense, to take him without unnecessary delay before a judge or magistrate, or to deliver him to some one of the officers specified in Section 15-10-1, who must forthwith take him before a judge or magistrate.

And here is the section on arrests by sworn officers without a warrant: 

Section 15-10-3 (abridged) Arrest without warrant — Generally; written report; protection orders.

(a) An officer may arrest a person without a warrant, on any day and at any time in any of the following instances:

(1) If a public offense has been committed or a breach of the peace threatened in the presence of the officer.

(2) When a felony has been committed, though not in the presence of the officer, by the person arrested.

(3) When a felony has been committed and the officer has reasonable cause to believe that the person arrested committed the felony.

(4) When the officer has reasonable cause to believe that the person arrested has committed a felony, although it may afterwards appear that a felony had not in fact been committed.

(5) When a charge has been made, upon reasonable cause, that the person arrested has committed a felony.

(6) When the officer has actual knowledge that a warrant for the person’s arrest for the commission of a felony or misdemeanor has been issued, provided the warrant was issued in accordance with this chapter. However, upon request the officer shall show the warrant to the arrested person as soon as possible.

Thus, it’s not even clear that the church police force legally has much more power than would private civilians providing security. Regardless, the church finds having sworn officers provide security, with the concomitant costs of getting the state to allow it and the promised litigation by the ACLU, to be preferable to hiring non-sworn personnel. Without speaking to the church leadership directly, one can only speculate why this is the case.

Despite the insignificant legal change, there is a strange asymmetry with which power in the hands of a state actor is treated compared to the same (apparent) power in the hands of a non-state actor. No doubt the writer of the CBS News article on the subject meant the following to sound ominous:

Some of the restrictions of the church’s police force would include: no jail, police activity would be limited to church property, officers would answer to the church and if you had a complaint, you’d have to complain it [sic] to the church.

To most ears, the idea of complaining to the church about its own police force seems ludicrous. How could they be an impartial arbiter? And yet, for most municipal police departments, the recourse if one has a complaint is to complain to the department directly. It is not clear why we should expect better outcomes in the latter case.

Others question whether the church police force will be properly transparent and accountable, saying, “Most police forces serve public entities, so ultimately they are accountable to the community they serve.” If we grant such an incredibly naïve and tautological view of government accountability some degree of plausibility, I can see no reason why the same idea would not apply to a church campus serving 4,000 parishioners and 2,000 students, numbers on par with a rather small municipality. Unlike a city government, the parishioners and parents of students choose whether to give money to the church and can more easily switch churches than cities. Even if one thinks that an individual parishioner or parent will have little influence over church governance, it is absurd to think that their influence over municipal government will be any stronger. The only way to come to the conclusion that a municipal police force has any advantage in terms of accountability over a 2-man church police force patrolling a privately-owned campus is to not have thought about the issue at all.

This is not to argue that Briarwood Presbyterian Church’s upcoming police force should be thought of as an ideal arrangement; granting certain parties privileges to use coercive force is inherently suspect. However, if one is concerned about Briarwood’s police force, they ought to be hysterical over pretty much any police force in the United States. Somehow, the state seems to get a pass in areas where non-state entities are treated with suspicion.

One final thought: advocates of community-oriented policing should be Briarwood’s champions. Briarwood a well-defined and organized community with specific problems they want the police to solve, and will itself be involved in the co-production of security. The Briarwood police will be more accountable to community leadership than the typical municipal police force, who in addition to the tax money they extract from locals also receive federal “community-oriented policing services” grants to purchase SWAT equipment. Yet I would be surprised if any policing scholar who has written in support of community policing will come to the defense of Briarwood, or see it as an example of what they purport to support. If I am right, there ought to be no doubt left that community policing is truly rhetoric over reality.

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