|February 2nd, 2008||#2|
Join Date: Dec 2003
Blog Entries: 3
Re: H.R.1955 endangers the freedom to criticize
Mark Weitzman UN Testimony
TESTIMONY OF MARK WEITZMAN
DIRECTOR OF THE TASK FORCE AGAINST HATE AND TERRORISM
SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY
"USING THE WEB AS A WEAPON:
THE INTERNET AS A TOOL FOR VIOLENT RADICALIZATION AND HOMEGROWN TERRORISM"
November 6, 2007
TESTIMONY OF MARK WEITZMAN
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY
November 6, 2007
Good Afternoon. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, for inviting me to speak to you today on the topic of "Using the Web as a Weapon: the Internet as a Tool for Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism." My name is Mark Weitzman, and I am the Director of the Task Force Against Hate and Terrorism for the Simon Wiesenthal Center. I am also the Simon Wiesenthal Center's chief representative to the United Nations.
While I often begin my presentations by saying that we at the Simon Wiesenthal Center have been tracking extremism online since 1995, the reality is that we actually began much earlier. By 1983 and 1984, various domestic extremists such as George Dietz, Tom Metzger and Louis Beam were already using the Bulletin Board Systems to post material for their followers and others. The potential that these earliest users saw was later realized, leading one United States white supremacist to declare a decade later that “the Internet is our sword.”
Some, like David Duke, saw the Internet as not only being a revolutionary communications medium, but as having great import for their own revolutionary ideas. For example, Duke wrote on his website, “I believe that the Internet will begin a chain reaction of racial enlightenment that will shake the world by the speed of its intellectual conquest.” Duke’s longtime friend, Don Black, together with Duke’s ex-wife(and Black’s future wife), Chloe Hardin teamed up to begin Stormfront on March 27, 1995, which is generally credited as being the first extremist website, and which today is still one of the most prominent and important sites online.
The Oklahoma City bombing brought domestic extremism into sharper focus, and the increasing use by the general public of the Internet quickly led more domestic extremists into the electronic age. At that time we began to publicly track that growth, and have continued to do so. The growth has been explosive, with our database growing from 1 (Stormfront) at the time of the bombing of the Alfred Murrah building on April 19, 1995, to over 7,000 today. Initially, the overwhelming number of those sites came from what could be described as Western extremists. These included skinhead, neo-Nazi, white power, ethnic and religious extremist, homophobic and conspiratorial sites, and the numbers showed steady growth, as did the technical capabilities of the sites. They were used to recruit, to raise money, to propagandize, to incite, and to provide a virtual community to hitherto far-flung fellow believers. By doing so, the Internet came to be viewed as empowering a whole new generation of extremists.
The next defining moment was 9/11. The attacks on the United States signified a new stage in Internet extremism, with Islamist extremism rapidly exploding online. I use the term Islamist in contrast to Islam to signify the radical jihadist and extremist ideology. At the time of the attacks, there were almost no such sites. Today, they number in the thousands.
As might be expected, in some ways the use of the Internet by Islamist extremists resembled the early stages of Western extremist use, as they both began at a relatively simple level before moving on to more complex usage. However, from the very beginning, the Islamists who planned 9/11 were more sophisticated in their approach, using the Internet for planning and communication. Of course, part of that can be attributed to having the benefit of the growing technical capabilities of the Internet, as well as reflecting the growth in cyberknowledge of its users.
The reasons for this phenomenal growth are varied. The Internet is, as an early observer wrote “subversive, because [it] offer[s] potential enfranchisement to the disenfranchised and voice to the voiceless.” It allows individuals who are isolated or alienated, both physically and psychologically, to feel that they are linked, empowered and members of an international movement. For some young Muslims in the West, who are living in an environment where they are alienated both from the majority culture and from the traditional structures of Muslim life that have broken down in the West, the Internet provides access to a radical form of Islam that gives seekers the virtual environment that they are searching for. This is seen as a purer and uncompromised version of the religion, and thus strengthens its appeal by creating a strong demarcation between the moderate version and its more extreme manifestation.
Radicalization can be a result of this relationship. The Internet, and its idealized and radicalized virtual community, overtakes the perceived dismal reality of the real world, and provides an authoritative narrative that creates its own reality. This reality is constructed to fill a void, and its prime target is youth, especially those alienated in some way from their surroundings. The use of professional, slick and appealing sites, videos, chat rooms, newsgroups, etc., are all forms of communication that are commonly used by younger users who are prepared to take the information they receive at face value.
This points out another important aspect of the Internet. As Ian Buruma has written, “The Internet…lacks a superego that filters out the monster from the depths.” This means that there is no editorial control, and anyone can present himself or herself as the expert, or the authoritative face of a religion. In this case, because of the social and psychological factors described above, Islam is presented as a pure and moral religion under continuous assault from the corrupt, immoral West, especially embodied by Israel and the United States. This narrative is illustrated online by references and visuals from areas of conflict, all carefully edited to fit into various aspects of the narrative (Islam as victim, Islam victorious, etc.).
This trend was summarized by an Arab Human Rights website that wrote, “Starting from a few years ago, observers have noticed a growing religious trend in Arabic web pages: The majority of Arabic language web pages are either about Islam, as interpreted by those responsible for the websites, or are calling for the spread of Islam.… The majority of Islamic web pages all call for the adoption of the extremist Sunni interpretation that has spread widely in the Arab Gulf area and extended to reach other Arab states, non-Arab Islamic states like Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as Muslims living in Europe and North America…. In spite of the fact that many of these Islamic web pages preach religious hatred against non-Muslims and even against other Islamic groups, they have managed to slip past the bans and the filters put in place by Arab states. Many Arab governments practice selective censorship; that they permit the continued existence of these Islamic sites is less a result of a respect for the freedom of expression than it is a reflection of their satisfaction with the content of these websites.”
In many ways the Internet favors the religious extremist. It allows anyone to set himself or herself up as an authority figure, to the extent that reports last year indicate that some lesser-known Muslim leaders had overtaken Osama bin Laden as the leading figure in the jihadist movement. They did this by using the chat rooms and online forums to establish their authority, and while some might react by saying that anything that cuts into the influence of bin Laden is good, the reality is that this means that even the removal of bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahri would have no impact in threatening the movement. And, since one of the effects of this online communication is that the more radical posters are the ones to stand out, and so the discourse is often ratcheted up, with the result being an even more militant or radicalized leadership and followers.
The growing sophistication of the Islamists is also apparent in the production values of their sites. Whether it is in the use of different media, such as videos and games, or different languages, the Islamist outreach is much more attractive and accessible. Part of this can be attributed to Arabic sites and organizations that have recognized the need to reach a large audience, but part of it is also the result of Western Muslim extremists, some of whom are converts, who have taken the familiarity they have acquired by living in the electronic society as well as taken advantage of the rights granted to them by those societies, to create and post Islamist and jihadist websites. By literally speaking the language of their targets, they represent a significant growing factor in online Islamist extremism.
To illustrate the trends described above, we have put together a short PowerPoint demonstration. Without going into deep detail in these written remarks, I would like to offer some brief descriptions of the material that will be shown. The presentation begins with a look at how 9/11 is viewed in some eyes online, including those who applauded it as well as some conspiracies sites. The presence of the conspiracy site is significant, since so much of what passes as fact online is actually based on some form of conspiracy. These are often built around the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which allege Jewish control of the world, or around presenting the United States government as being engaged in various conspiracies or cover-ups, or ultimately having the entire Western world engaged in a vast, multi-layered conspiracy against the Islamic world.
Next is a series of sites of media portals which show some of the varied methods that the Islamists use to get their message out, including some based on United States servers. These are followed by some looks at charts and other manuals on how to use violence, along with a novel interpretation of jihad that calls for an “electronic jihad.”
There are jihad discussion groups and some Islamist sites aimed at Latin America (a new target), as well as some links to extremist right-wing groups like Neo-Nazi, etc. It is worth pointing out that some observers have noted the attempts online to bring Islamist and right-wing extremist groups together, which are often visible in cyberspace.
Next are a series of games that show some of the different themes used by all sorts of extremists, and how they target youth by tapping into fears and issues that the extremists attempt to manipulate. Finally, I end with a look at how the United States is still specifically threatened.
The Internet has become as real a battlefield as exists anyplace. It provides a haven and an opportunity for Islamist extremists to recruit, educate, communicate and bond in a secure, protected environment. As a result, in many ways it is the prime factor in the radicalization of many of recruits to the jihadi ideology. This factor calls for increased attention and efforts to counter the growing influence of the Internet in these areas. Some steps that might aid in this effort include:
1) We must be aware of the empowering effect of the Internet on extremists.
2) We must have researchers and responders who have both the technical and linguistic skills to keep us informed, and to be able to respond to what is online.
3) We must make users aware of the misinformation and techniques used by extremists.
4) We must have increased cooperation internationally, and among the political, law enforcement, NGO, academic, and all other interested sectors.
5) There must be the political will to legally act when necessary.
6) We must be prepared to invest in positive sites that can present alternative narratives that might counteract the Islamists material (i.e., the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s new AskMusa.com site that presents Jews and Judaism in four major Islamic languages directly to the Muslim public).
In many ways we have ceded the Internet to our enemies, and the result has been extremely harmful. However, even in a globalized world, there is no reason to believe that this condition is permanent. But we need to focus our efforts better, and to invest more resources in this struggle. As the famous Holocaust survivor, and namesake of our Center, Simon Wiesenthal wrote in 1989, “The combination of hatred and technology is the greatest threat facing mankind.” How we face that threat might well define the world we will live in the near future.
|February 2nd, 2008||#3|
Re: H.R.1955 endangers the freedom to criticize
The New Crime of Thinking
by Gary D. Barnett
It looks like the term “thought police” just might take on a whole new and real meaning. This depends on what happens in the U.S. Senate after receiving House bill H.R. 1955: Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. This act (now S-1959 – Senate version) is now being considered by Senate committees and, if passed by the Senate and signed by the president, will become law. Common sense would indicate that something this vague and dangerous would not make it out of committee, but considering that the House passed it on October 23 with 404 ayes, 6 nays, and 22 present/not voting, I’m not holding my breath. Of course, Ron Paul was one of the 6 nay votes, but that is to be expected.
The most disturbing aspects of this bill, and there are many, are the definitions noted in Section 899a. The three offenses defined in this document that will warrant prosecution are:
“Violent Radicalization: The term ‘violent radicalization’ means the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.”
“Homegrown Terrorism: The term ‘homegrown terrorism’ means the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or operating primarily within the United States or any possession of the United States government, the civilian population of the United States, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”
“Ideologically based violence: The term ‘ideologically based violence’ means the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual’s political, religious, or social beliefs.”
Besides the fact that this Act would greatly expand an already monstrous bureaucracy (Homeland Security Act of 2002), it is on its very face a threat to all ideological thinking not approved by the state. Any citizen at any given time could be considered a terrorism suspect and accused or prosecuted for “bad” thoughts. Since the very act of thinking could now be considered a crime, how would the populace react to this new paradigm? Would political debate among the citizenry become more subdued? Would watch groups, whether police or private, arise to monitor individual and group conversations? Would speaking out and writing against the government become a dangerous activity?
The language contained in this proposed legislation is not only vague, it is also broad, sweeping, and unclear. The tenebrous and obscure nature of the above definitions is obviously not an accident. The broader the net, the more who are caught; the more who are caught, the more who live in fear of being caught. Ambiguity and fear are mighty deterrents, and ambiguity and fear foster obedience. In this case, unconditional obedience to the mighty state and its many dictates.
In the definition of “violent radicalization,” it is a crime to adopt or promote an extremist belief system to facilitate ideologically based violence. Neither “extremist” nor type of political, religious, or social change is defined. And what about “ideologically” based violence? Is it violence to simply advocate radical change that might lead someone else to initiate violence? Who decides what beliefs are okay and what beliefs are not? The state, of course, is the final decider. The door is left open for interpretation, but for interpretation by government only.
“Homegrown terrorism,” although similarly defined, is notable in that it concentrates strictly on U.S.-born, U.S.-raised, or U.S.-based individuals and groups operating primarily within the United States or any possession of the United States. The Bush administration has had its problems in the courts at times concerning American citizens and their rights, sometimes setting it and its agenda back. This bill could help alleviate those problems. In addition, to intimidate or coerce the U.S. government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives, is forbidden and considered criminal. Let me repeat; to intimidate the government to further political or social objectives is forbidden. If this is allowed to stand, what does it do to demonstration, protest, petition, and the right to assemble?
Remember, this proposed act is attached to the Homeland Security Act of 2002. This is what gives it the teeth so that the enforcers can pursue and detain those considered guilty of holding or promoting an “extremist” belief system or wishing to advance political, religious, or social change. I use the word “enforcers” because this bill allows for the federal authorities, including intelligence and law enforcement, to use any state or local law-enforcement agencies. In addition, the commission may contract to enable enforcement. Also, “The Commission may request directly from any executive department, bureau, agency, board, commission, office, independent establishment, or instrumentality of the Government, information, suggestions, estimates, and statistics for the purposes of this Section.” (Section 899C.) What little privacy still exists will not exist for long with the passage of this bill.
One of the tenets of any totalitarian society is that the citizenry must acquiesce to government control. The state itself is supreme and sovereign, not the people. This has been true throughout history whether it was during Hitler’s, Stalin’s, Mao’s or any other of a number of brutal dictatorial rulers’ reigns. Dissent was stifled, whether it was ideological or physical, and accused parties faced humiliation, incarceration, or death for their unwillingness to conform. Is that where we’re headed?
The newest weapon we have at our disposal in our fight against tyranny is our advanced communication systems, especially the Internet. Reaching untold numbers of persons, something not possible only a few years ago, is now possible because of the Internet. With the mainstream media kowtowing to politicians and government, the Internet has become the major tool for those promoting liberty and truth. It has allowed many brilliant freedom lovers to reach and change minds. Even this has not escaped the watchful eye of Big Brother in this bill. In Section 899B Congress finds the following:
“The internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens.”
This bill, if passed into law, will do nothing less than muffle, if not destroy, our ability to speak out against government. Considering the combination of the USA PATRIOT Act, The Homeland Security Act, the Military Commissions Act, and the now-enhanced executive power, adding this single piece of legislation fills the only loophole left. With the passage of this abominable act, all U.S. citizens are at risk, not just those few radical persons and foreigners spoken about by government, but all of us. This very article could be considered as ideologically based violence, subjecting me to punishment by government. This could be the final piece of the puzzle.
This new proposed legislation will help an already tyrannical government in its effort to become supreme.
February 2, 2008
Gary D. Barnett [send him mail] is president of Barnett Financial Services, Inc., in Missoula, Montana.
Last edited by Alex Linder; February 2nd, 2008 at 01:20 PM.
|February 5th, 2008||#4|
Re: H.R.1955 endangers the freedom to criticize
[Pentagon views First Amendment as the enemy]
The Pentagon's Information Operations Roadmap is blunt about the fact that an internet, with the potential for free speech, is in direct opposition to their goals. The internet needs to be dealt with as if it were an enemy "weapons system".
The 2003 Pentagon document entitled the Information Operation Roadmap was released to the public after a Freedom of Information Request by the National Security Archive at George Washington University in 2006. A detailed explanation of the major thrust of this document and the significance of information operations or information warfare was described by me here.
|February 12th, 2008||#5|
Typing TERROR in a Crowded Chat
By Christina L. Madden
Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee this week that Al Qaeda has improved its operations and that America is increasingly vulnerable to Internet attacks by terrorists and other militant groups.
In an experimental move, Al Qaeda recently solicited questions from the general public for an online interview with second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri. Questions such as "How is the morale of the mujahedeen in Afghanistan these days?" and "What is your opinion of Tablighi Jamaat?" were passed along to al-Zawahiri, who for reasons of personal safety or lack of connectivity could not participate live. According to Al Qaeda's media arm, he will respond as soon as possible.
Al Qaeda's official website was shut down in 2002, but the organization remains active on a number of other sites. In 2004, 22-year-old Younes Tsouli teamed with Al Qaeda's leaders to promote the organization's extremist videos and propaganda. Before he was caught, Tsouli posted videos of kidnappings and murders of hostages in Iraq on multiple websites, sometimes unbeknownst to the website creators themselves.
John Anticev and Linda Walsh, special agents of the FBI's Joint Terrorist Task Force, estimate that anywhere between 5,000 to 10,000 radical websites exist worldwide. "Whereas the radicalization process was taking place in various mosques 20 years ago, a tremendous amount is now being attempted online," said Anticev in an interview with Policy Innovations. Chat rooms, videos, and other online forums help extremist organizations to spread ideas, raise funds, plan attacks, and recruit new members without geographic limit.
The ability of individuals to "self-radicalize" in the comfort of their own homes has prompted concern that a younger, tech-savvy generation of extremists is emerging in a fragmented and unpredictable manner. Last November, a 15-year-old Canadian national accused of killing a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan and of conspiring with Al Qaeda became the first minor eligible to be tried for war crimes.
The attention young people dedicate to communicating via virtual identities is often criticized as detrimental to the development of social skills and genuine culture, and some people believe the Internet contributes to social fragmentation and identity loss. But as the cases of young radical Islamists demonstrate, the Internet can also intensify a sense of identity.
Legal scholar Cass Sunstein calls this phenomenon group polarization. He observed in several studies that groups of like-minded individuals make people more confident and extreme in their views. While the Internet provides a platform for an unlimited range of ideas, it also facilitates group polarization. Whether going online for information on radical Islam or animal rights, Internet users tend to seek out information that reinforces, rather than challenges, their beliefs. Sunstein cites a survey of 1,400 political blogs that found that more than 90 percent of their hyperlinks pointed to websites of similar ideologies.
Outrage often breeds extremism, but false information can do the job just as well. According to Frank J. Cilluffo, Director of the George Washington University's Homeland Security Policy Institute, terrorist groups like Al Qaeda have used the Internet to propagate a "clash of civilizations" myth, dating back to the Crusades, in order to draw in new recruits.
White supremacists and neo-Nazis are also using online tools to promote radical ideas. An Internet video of two men being brutally killed by Russian ultranationalists was a heated discussion topic on Russian-language blogs last year. Similar videos have been appearing online "with alarming regularity," according to Radio Free Europe, and racially motivated crimes have been on the rise in Russia in recent years.
Yet, a new set of laws designed to censor such online footage in Russia was sharply contested.
When cyber dissidents in China or Burma use the Internet to organize environmental movements or oppose political oppression, they are often lauded by the international community for managing to stay one step ahead of their governments. But the reaction is different when freedoms of expression and association combine with new technologies to provoke hate crimes and terrorist attacks.
What then is the solution? Paradoxically, it might be more Internet use.
Three of the world's leading state sponsors of terror—Iran, Syria, and Libya—are among the least connected to the World Wide Web. Just over 10 percent of Iran's population has access to the Internet, according to the OpenNet Initiative. The figure stands at roughly 6 percent in Syria, and a mere 3.6 percent in Libya. All three countries operate under regimes that strictly censor online content, political matters in particular.
Fearing an exposed flank on the cyber frontier, the State Department launched a Digital Outreach Team last year to counter ideological support for terrorism on Arabic-language blogs. The team of government bloggers monitors and participates in online conversations as U.S. Government representatives, using their real names. The team intervenes when they notice U.S. policies being maligned, and their responses are supervised by a senior officer and discussed before being published.
Some security experts think open source intelligence, where officials gather information from sources like radical websites and use it to better understand the roots of terrorism, is critical in developing an effective response. Yet, attempting to shut down radical websites may simply make the information more difficult for counterterrorism specialists to find, if extremists switch to more covert methods of communication.
Like many tools of globalization, the power of the Internet can cut both ways.
In 2006, Walsh and Anticev's squad squelched a plot to destroy a Hudson River retaining wall in downtown Manhattan. The suspects, located overseas and inspired by a story on 60 Minutes about the wall's vulnerability, used the Internet to research the use of explosives, to gather maps of lower Manhattan and the subway system, and to organize individuals for the attack. The FBI monitored the chat rooms in which the plan was unveiled, and used its international network of law enforcement and other agencies to identify the people behind the screen names.
The anonymity of the Internet is said to result in an increased tolerance of violence. By maximizing the benefits of the Internet, a more open and connected global society may be better able to minimize such threats.
|February 12th, 2008||#6|
Loss of Civil Liberties Since 9/11
Freedom of Speech
Project: Loss of Civil Liberties Since 9/11
Open-Content project managed by Paul, blackmax
add event | references
September 26, 2001: White House Press Secretary Warns Americans to ‘Watch What They Say’
Bill Maher.Bill Maher. [Source: HBO publicity photo]White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer warns, “There are reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do.” [Associated Press, 9/26/2001] Fleischer was responding to comments made by Bill Maher, the host of the discussion/comedy show Politically Incorrect. Maher said the hijackers were not cowards but that it was cowardly for the US to launch cruise missiles on targets thousands of miles away. [New York Times, 9/28/2001] Many advertisers and affiliate stations pull their support of the show in response. [Washington Post, 9/29/2001] ABC cancels Maher’s show at the end of its season because of the controversy. [Toronto Star, 6/26/2002] Several journalists are fired around the same time for criticizing Bush. Fleischer’s comments and the general chill on free speech are widely criticized by major newspapers (for instance, [New York Times, 9/29/2001; Washington Post, 9/29/2001; Dallas Morning News, 10/4/2001] ).
Entity Tags: Bill Maher, Ari Fleischer
Category Tags: Freedom of Speech
November 11, 2004: Ex-Judge Says Gonzales Undermined the Law
Referring to the recent appointment of Alberto Gonzales as attorney general (see November 10, 2004), retired chief judge of the Army Court of Appeals, Brig. Gen. James Cullen, says “When you encounter a person who is willing to twist the law…, even though for perhaps good reasons, you have to say you’re really undermining the law itself.” [Village Voice, 11/29/2004]
Entity Tags: Alberto R. Gonzales, James Cullen
Timeline Tags: Torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere
Category Tags: Freedom of Speech, Privacy, Impositions on Rights and Freedoms
July 13, 2005: ’Connecticut Four’ Sues Justice Department Over NSL
George Christian.George Christian. [Source: PBS]Librarian and data manager George Christian is served with a so-called “National Security Letter” (NSL) from the FBI demanding that his firm turn over private information on its patrons because of an apparent terrorist threat e-mailed from one of his libraries (see February 2005). Christian is the executive director of Library Connection, Inc., which manages catalog information, patron records, and circulation information for 27 libraries in and around Hartford, Connecticut, as well as providing telecommunications services to many of its member libraries. Christian is given the NSL, as well as a gag order preventing them from ever mentioning their receipt of the letter, or any details surrounding it. Christian is notified of the letter five days before actually receiving it; he spends those days frantically learning more about NSLs and the laws surrounding them (see October 25, 2005). He learns that a district court in New York had found the entire NSL statute unconstitutional because of what Christian calls “prima facie violations of the 1st, 4th and 5th amendments.” By the time they receive the letter, he has decided to oppose it. The letter, delivered by two FBI agents, orders Christian and Library Connection to turn over information about a specific IP address registered to the firm. One of the agents warns Christian that the gag order prohibits anyone in the firm from telling anyone that the FBI is attempting to secure information from its library business records. Christian, who will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the NSL in April 2007 (see April 11, 2007), says neither he nor his colleagues could “fathom any ‘exigent’ nature for the FBI request.” The letter was dated May 19, nearly two months before its delivery, was not addressed to Christian, and requested information from the use of the IP address five months earlier, February 15. Christian later says that while he and his colleagues want to assist the FBI in any way they can, and have no desire to “impede the investigation of a perilous situation that endanger[s] my country or my fellow citizens,” because of the date of the letter and the IP usage, they conclude that the FBI has not been in any rush to get the information. Christian tells the FBI agents that he believes the use of NSLs is unconstitutional and that he will consult his attorney. Library Connection’s attorney says that the only way to contest compliance with an NSL is to take the Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, to court. Christian is understandably reluctant to involve his firm in such a court challenge without authorization, and takes the case to the Executive Committee of the firm’s board of directors. The three members, Barbara Bailey, Peter Chase, and Janet Nocek (who will soon be dubbed the “Connecticut Four” by the media), after conferring with the attorney and reviewing the New York court’s decision against NSLs, decide to go forward with the complaint. They secure representation from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Together, they decide to ask for relief from the NSL, to seek a broader ruling that the use of NSLs is unconstitutional, and to have the gag order lifted so they can publicly discuss the incident as “part of the national debate over renewal of the Patriot Act” (see March 9, 2006). Christian will tell the Senate Judiciary Committee, “We… felt we were defending our democracy by insisting that the checks and balances established in the Constitution be observed. We had no court order, and there was no evidence that an independent judge had examined the FBI’s evidence and found there to be probable cause justifying their request for information.… [W]e did not want to aid terrorists or criminals.… But we did not feel we would be helping the country or making anyone safer by throwing out the Constitution either.” Because of the way the computer system is set up, to give the FBI the information about the specific IP address and usage it required, Christian would have to give the FBI information about everyone using every computer in the particular library on the day in question. He later says, “[S]ince there was no way of determining who was using the computers in the library five months after the fact, we felt that [the FBI wanted] information we had on all the patrons of that library. That seemed like a rather sweeping request. Some would call it a fishing expedition.” The case goes to trial in August 2005 (see August 2005-May 2006). [Senate Judiciary Committee, 4/11/2007] It is later learned that the original e-mailed threat is a hoax. [USA Today, 7/6/2006]
Entity Tags: Peter Chase, National Security Letters, Senate Judiciary Committee, Library Connection, Inc., Barbara Bailey, George Christian, American Civil Liberties Union, Janet Nocek, Alberto R. Gonzales, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Connecticut Four
Category Tags: Court Verdicts, Patriot Act, Freedom of Speech, Privacy, Impositions on Rights and Freedoms, Government Acting in Secret, Government Classification, National Security Letters, NSA Wiretapping
August 2005-May 2006: ’Connecticut Four’ Case Goes to Trial; FBI Withdraws After Patriot Act Reauthorized
The Connecticut Four, from left to right: Janet Nocek, Peter Chase, George Christian, and Barbara Bailey.The Connecticut Four, from left to right: Janet Nocek, Peter Chase, George Christian, and Barbara Bailey. [Source: Robert Deutsch/ USA Today]A case filed against Attorney General Alberto Gonzales by four plaintiffs from Connecticut’s Library Connection, Inc.—George Christian, Barbara Bailey, Peter Chase, and Janet Nocek—goes to trial in federal district court (see July 13, 2005). The trial is filed as Doe v. Gonzales because the government has filed a gag order against the plaintiffs forbidding them from identifying themselves or discussing the case publicly. The case involves a demand for information from the FBI for information concerning library usage by patrons of a Connecticut library; the four plaintiffs, on behalf of their data management firm Library Connection, have refused. The case revolves around the use of a National Security Letter (NSL) by the FBI; the plaintiffs, with support from the American Civil Liberties Union, want the NSL voided, the gag order lifted, and such use of NSLs found unconstitutional. Christian and his three colleagues are not allowed to attend the hearings in person because of the possibility that they might be identified as the plaintiffs; they are forced to watch the proceedings on a closed-circuit broadcast from a locked room in the Hartford courthouse. When the judge in the proceeding asks to review the government’s evidence for keeping the gag rule in place, Justice Department lawyers insist on submitting secret evidence directly to the judge, without providing that evidence to the plaintiff’s lawyers. The judge is not pleased, and rules, as did her predecessor in New York, that a perpetual gag order amounts to prior restraint, and thereby is unconstitutional. She adds that her review of the secret evidence gives no national security rationale for keeping the plaintiffs gagged. The Justice Department immediately appeals the ruling, and the plaintiffs stay silent and gagged. While the four plaintiffs remain silent about the NSL and the court case, the Justice Department’s primary lawyer, Kevin O’Conner, does not: O’Conner has frequently debated one of the plaintiffs, Chase, about the Patriot Act, and though Chase is now required to remain silent, O’Conner continues to make frequent public appearances touting the Patriot Act. Christian later says, in 2007 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee (see April 11, 2007), that the continuing gag order causes the four “John Does” considerable professional and personal distress, especially after the national media begins reporting the story. The media eventually learns, through the careless redaction of information by government lawyers, of Chase’s identity as one of the four plaintiffs, and reveals that Library Connection is the firm involved in the lawsuit. Christian’s name comes to light shortly thereafter. The attorneys warn Christian and the others that even though their identities and their firm have been revealed, they still cannot comment at all on the case. Christian, for one, wants to testify before Congress in regards to the upcoming reauthorization of the Patriot Act (see March 9, 2006), but cannot. The four plaintiffs quickly become known in the media as the “Connecticut John Does” or the “Connecticut Four.”
Appeals Court - In November 2005, a New York court of appeals hears the case. Christian and his colleagues are allowed to be present at the case this time, but are required to conceal their identities by entering and leaving the court building separately, are not allowed to sit together, and are not allowed to confer with, or even make eye contact with, each other or their attorneys. The Justice Department lawyers argue that even revealing themselves as recipients of a NSL would violate national security, an argument refuted by submission of the raft of news articles identifying Christian, Chase, and Library Connection. The government argues that those news reports don’t matter because no one in Connecticut reads the primary newspaper carrying the story, the New York Times, and that surveys prove that most people don’t believe what they read in the news anyway. The Justice Department also tries to get the news articles to be kept under seal in court papers. Christian characterizes the entire proceeding as “absurd.” The court refuses to admit the plaintiff’s claim that 48 states, including Connecticut, have laws protecting the privacy of library patrons, but does admit into evidence the claims by Gonzales that there is no statutory justification for claims of privacy. In an attempt to get the gag order lifted before the Patriot Act reauthorization, the plaintiff’s attorneys make an emergency appeal directly to the Supreme Court, but are rebuffed. [Senate Judiciary Committee, 4/11/2007] In June 2006, Nocek tells a reporter, “Imagine the government came to you with an order demanding that you compromise your professional and personal principles. Imagine then being permanently gagged from speaking to your friends, your family or your colleagues about this wrenching experience.… Under the Patriot Act, the FBI demanded Internet and library records without showing any evidence or suspicion of wrongdoing to a court of law. We were barred from speaking to anyone about the matter and we were even taking a risk by consulting with lawyers.” [Interview: George Christian, 6/2/2006]
Gag Order Lifted, Case Dropped - Weeks after President Bush signs into law the Patriot Act reauthorization (see March 9, 2006), the FBI voluntarily lifts the gag order without waiting for a court order. The agency then tries to get the original ruling against the gag order vacated, an attempt that the appeals court refuses. The appellate judges are clearly disturbed by the breadth of the NSL gag provisions; one appellate judge writes, “A ban on speech and a shroud of secrecy in perpetuity are antithetical to democratic concepts and do not fit comfortably with the fundamental rights guaranteed American citizens… Unending secrecy of actions taken by government officials may also serve as a cover for possible official misconduct and/or incompetence.” The appeals court refers the case back to district court, allowing the original opinion to stand. Weeks later, the FBI withdraws its NSL, saying that it no longer needs the information it originally requested. Christian later testifies, “In doing so, they removed the Patriot Act from the danger of court review.” Christian later says that he believes the entire procedure was managed as an attempt to prevent the case from becoming public knowledge before Congress could vote on the reauthorization of the Patriot Act. [Senate Judiciary Committee, 4/11/2007]
Entity Tags: Peter Chase, Senate Judiciary Committee, National Security Letters, US Department of Justice, Library Connection, Inc., George Christian, George W. Bush, American Civil Liberties Union, Barbara Bailey, Connecticut Four, Alberto R. Gonzales, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Kevin O’Conner
Category Tags: Court Verdicts, Freedom of Speech, Privacy, Impositions on Rights and Freedoms, Government Acting in Secret, Government Classification, National Security Letters, Other Surveillance
August 17, 2006: Judge Finds NSA Warrantless Wiretapping Program Unconstitutional
Federal district court judge Anna Diggs Taylor rules that the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program (see Early 2002) is unconstitutional and orders it ended. She amends her ruling to allow the program to continue while the Justice Department appeals her decision. The decision is a result of a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other civil liberties groups. Taylor rules that the NSA program violates US citizens’ rights to privacy and free speech, the Constitutional separation of powers among the three branches of government, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (see 1978). Taylor writes, “It was never the intent of the framers to give the president such unfettered control, particularly where his actions blatantly disregard the parameters clearly enumerated in the Bill of Rights. There are no hereditary Kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution. So all ‘inherent powers’ must derive from that Constitution.” [Verdict in ACLU et al v. NSA et al, 8/17/2006 pdf file; Washington Post, 8/18/2006] The program “violates the separation of powers doctrine, the Administrative Procedures Act, the First and Fourth amendments to the United States Constitution, the FISA and Title III,” Taylor writes, and adds, “[T]he president of the United States…has undisputedly violated the Fourth in failing to procure judicial orders.” [CNN, 8/17/2006]
Judge Lets One Portion Stand - Taylor rejects one part of the lawsuit that seeks information about the NSA’s data mining program (see October 2001), accepting the government’s argument that to allow that portion of the case to proceed would reveal state secrets. Other lawsuits challenging the program are still pending. Some legal scholars regard Taylor’s decision as poorly reasoned: national security law specialist Bobby Chesney says, “Regardless of what your position is on the merits of the issue, there’s no question that it’s a poorly reasoned decision. The opinion kind of reads like an outline of possible grounds to strike down the program, without analysis to fill it in.” The White House and its Republican supporters quickly attack Taylor, who was appointed to the bench by then-president Jimmy Carter, as a “liberal judge” who is trying to advance the agenda of Congressional Democrats and “weaken national security.” For instance, Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH) says that halting the program “would hamper our ability to foil terrorist plots.” [Washington Post, 8/18/2006]
Democrats, Civil Libertarians Celebrate Ruling - But Democrats defend the ruling. For instance, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) says the ruling provides a much-needed check on the unfettered power of the Bush White House. “[N]o one is above the law,” says Kerry. [Washington Post, 8/18/2006] Lawyers for some of the other cases against the NSA and the Bush administration laud the decision as giving them vital legal backing for their own court proceedings. “We now have a ruling on the books that upholds what we’ve been saying all along: that this wiretapping program violates the Constitution,” says Kevin Bankston, who represents the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in its class-action case against AT&T for its role in the NSA’s surveillance program (see January 31, 2006). [Washington Post, 8/18/2006] Legal expert and liberal commentator Glenn Greenwald writes that Taylor’s ruling “does not, of course, prohibit eavesdropping on terrorists; it merely prohibits illegal eavesdropping in violation of FISA. Thus, even under the court’s order, the Bush administration is free to continue to do all the eavesdropping on terrorists it wants to do. It just has to cease doing so using its own secretive parameters, and instead do so with the oversight of the FISA court—just as all administrations have done since 1978, just as the law requires, and just as it did very recently when using surveillance with regard to the UK terror plot. Eavesdropping on terrorists can continue in full force. But it must comply with the law.” Greenwald writes, “[T]he political significance of this decision cannot be denied. The first federal court ever to rule on the administration’s NSA program has ruled that it violates the constitutional rights of Americans in several respects, and that it violates criminal law. And in so holding, the court eloquently and powerfully rejected the Bush administration’s claims of unchecked executive power in the area of national security.” [Salon, 8/17/2006]
Entity Tags: Peter Hoekstra, Kevin Bankston, Mike DeWine, US Department of Justice, John Kerry, National Security Agency, Glenn Greenwald, James Earl “Jimmy” Carter, Jr., Anna Diggs Taylor, AT&T, American Civil Liberties Union, Alberto R. Gonzales, George W. Bush, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, Bobby Chesney
Category Tags: Court Verdicts, Expansion of Presidential Power, Freedom of Speech, Privacy, Impositions on Rights and Freedoms, Government Acting in Secret, Government Classification, NSA Wiretapping
January 17, 2007: Gonzales Says Right of Habeas Corpus not Protected by Constitution
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales stuns Senate Judiciary Committee questioners when he says that the fundamental right of habeas corpus, the right for an accused person to go to court and challenge his or her imprisonment, is not protected by the Constitution. Gonzales, in response to questions by Arlen Specter (R-PA), says: “The Constitution doesn’t say every individual in the United States or every citizen is hereby granted or assured the right of habeas.… There is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution. There’s a prohibition against taking it away.” Specter is incredulous, asking how the Constitution could bar the suspension of a right that didn’t exist—a right, he notes, that was first recognized in medieval England as protection against the king’s power to send subjects to royal dungeons. Gonzales does say that habeas corpus is “one of our most cherished rights,” and admits that Congress has protected that right. But Gonzales refuses to acknowledge that the Constitution itself protects the right. If the Constitution does not, then Congress would be able to limit or nullify habeas corpus rights if it so chooses. Congress has not passed such an all-encompassing law yet, but it has passed a law, the Military Commissions Act, that strips the courts of any authority to hear habeas corpus suits filed by “enemy combatants.”
Experts Fear Government Encroachment on Civil Liberties - But constitutional experts on both the left and the right say that Gonzales’s position implies a far broader power. Erwin Chemerinsky, a law professor who has frequently criticized the Bush administration, says: “This is the key protection that people have if they’re held in violation of the law. If there’s no habeas corpus, and if the government wants to pick you or me off the street and hold us indefinitely, how do we get our release?” Former Reagan Justice Department official Douglas Kmiec agrees. If Gonzales’s view prevails, Kmiec says, “one of the basic protections of human liberty against the powers of the state would be embarrassingly absent from our constitutional system.” A Justice Department spokesman says that Gonzales is only noting the absence of a specific constitutional guarantee for habeas corpus, and acknowledges that the Supreme Court has declared “the Constitution protects [habeas corpus] as it existed at common law” in England. These rights, the spokesman says, do not apply to foreigners held as enemy combatants. [San Francisco Chronicle, 1/24/2007]
Habeas Protected in Constitution - The right of habeas corpus is clear in Article I, Section 9, Clause 2 of the Constitution: “The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.” [Think Progress, 1/19/2007]
Expansion of Presidential Powers - Former Reagan Justice Department attorney Bruce Fein says that Gonzales’s stance on habeas corpus is an underpinning of the Bush administration’s attempt to advocate the “unitary executive” theory of presidential power. Gonzales’s statements contain a message: “Congress doesn’t have to let [judges] decide national security matters. It’s part of an attempt to create the idea that during conflicts, the three branches of government collapse into one, and it is the president.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 1/24/2007]
Entity Tags: Senate Judiciary Committee, Military Commissions Act, George W. Bush, Patrick Joseph Leahy, Erwin Chemerinsky, Central Intelligence Agency, Alberto R. Gonzales, Arlen Specter, Douglas Kmiec, Bush administration, Bruce Fein
Category Tags: Expansion of Presidential Power, Freedom of Speech, Privacy, Impositions on Rights and Freedoms
September 6, 2007: ’Improper Paste’ Justifies Police Dispersal of Antiwar Press Conference?
A peaceful antiwar press conference and demonstration in Lafayette Square near the White House is broken up by a phalanx of mounted police officers, who charge the podium, forcibly disperse the participants, and arrest three people on unspecified charges. “The police suppressed the press conference,” says Brian Becker, national organizer for the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) antiwar coalition organization. “In the middle of the speeches, they grabbed the podium…. Then, mounted police charged the media present to disperse them.” The crowd, of some twenty journalists and four or five protesters, “scatter in terror,” according to a journalist at the scene. Three people are arrested: Tina Richards, whose son served two tours of duty in Iraq; Adam Kokesh, a leader of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW); and ANSWER organizer lawyer Ian Thompson. The small press conference was designed to help prepare for a much larger antiwar demonstration scheduled for September 15. The conference and demonstration may have been broken up over an issue of paste. In August, Washington, DC authorities threatened ANSWER with a $10,000 fine if it didn’t remove posters it had put up throughout the city announcing the September 15 march. The reason: ANSWER used an adhesive that doesn’t meet city regulations. Becker later says that the organizers are actually demonstrating to journalists that the paste they use conforms to city regulations when the police charge. Becker says, “At our demonstration today we were showing the media that the paste we use conforms to the rules. One of our activists was making a speech when the police barged in and grabbed the podium. At that point, Tina Richards started to put up a poster, so they arrested her and two others.” Becker calls the police dispersal a “strategy of suppression” against antiwar demonstrators. ANSWER’s protest is scheduled to coincide with the release of a much-anticipated report on Iraq by US military commander General David Petraeus. [Agence France-Presse, 9/6/2007]
Entity Tags: Tina Richards, Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, Adam Kokesh, Brian Becker, David Petraeus, Ian Thompson, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Category Tags: Freedom of Speech, Media Freedoms, Impositions on Rights and Freedoms
|February 22nd, 2008||#7|
[PCR on 'Protect America Act']
More Lies From the Jews
by Paul Craig Roberts
President George W. Bush and his director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell, are telling the American people that an unaccountable executive branch is necessary for their protection. Without the Protect America Act, Bush and McConnell claim, the executive branch will not be able to spy on terrorists, and we will all be blown up. Terrorists can only be stopped, Bush says, if Bush has the right to spy on everyone without any oversight by courts.
The fight over the Protect America Act has everything to do with our safety, only not in the way that Bush and McConnell assert.
Bush says the Democrats have put "our country more in danger of an attack" by letting the Protect America Act lapse. This claim is nonsense. The 30-year-old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act gives the executive branch all the power it needs to spy on terrorists.
The choice between FISA and the Protect America Act has nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism, at least not from foreign terrorists. Bush and his Jews object to FISA, because the law requires Bush to obtain warrants from a FISA court. Warrants mean that Bush is accountable. Bush and his Jews argue that accountability is an infringement on the power of the president.
To escape accountability, the Jewish Party came up with the Protect America Act. This act eliminates Bush’s accountability to judges and gives the telecom companies immunity from the felonies they committed by acquiescing in Bush’s illegal spying.
Bush began violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in October 2001 when he spied on Americans without obtaining warrants from the FISA court.
Bush pressured telecom companies to break the law in order to enable his illegal spying. In court documents, Joseph P. Nacchio, former CEO of Qwest Communications International, states that his firm was approached more than six months before the September 11, 2001, attacks and asked to participate in a spying operation that Qwest believed to be illegal. When Qwest refused, the Bush administration withdrew opportunities for contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Nacchio himself was subsequently indicted for insider trading, sending the message to all telecom companies to cooperate with the Bush regime or else.
Bush has not been held accountable for the felonies he committed and for leading telecom companies into a life of crime.
As the lawmakers who gave us FISA understood, spying on people without warrants lets a political party collect dirt on its adversaries with which to blackmail them. As Bush illegally spied a long time before word of it got out, blackmail might be the reason the Democrats have ignored their congressional election mandate and have not put a stop to Bush’s illegal wars and unconstitutional police state measures.
Perhaps the Democrats have finally caught on that they cannot function as a political party as long as they continue to permit Bush to spy on them. For one reason or another, they have let the Orwellian-named Protect America Act expire.
With the Protect America Act, Bush and his Jews are trying to establish the independence of the executive branch from statutory law and the Constitution. The FISA law means that the president is accountable to federal judges for warrants. Bush and the Jewish Republicans are striving to make the president independent of all accountability. The Jews insist that the leader knows best and can tolerate no interference from the law, the judiciary, the Congress, or the Constitution, and certainly not from the American people who, the Jews tell us, won’t be safe unless Bush is very powerful.
George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison saw it differently. The American people cannot be safe unless the president is accountable and under many restraints.
Pray that the Democrats have caught on that they cannot give the executive branch unaccountable powers to spy and still have grounds on which to refuse the executive branch unaccountable powers elsewhere.
Republicans have used the "war on terror" to create an unaccountable executive. To prevent the presidency from becoming a dictatorial office, it is crucial that Congress cease acquiescing in Bush’s grab for powers. As the Founding Fathers warned us, the terrorists we have to fear are the ones in power in Washington.
The al Qaeda terrorists, with whom Bush has been frightening us, have no power to destroy our liberties. Compared to the loss of liberty, a terrorist attack is nothing.
Meanwhile, Bush, the beneficiary of two stolen elections, has urged Zimbabwe to hold a fair election. America gets away with its hypocrisy because no one in our government has enough shame to blush.
|February 27th, 2008||#8|
States Skirmish Over 'Anti-Hate' Laws
By Harmony Grant
Next month, former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and Foundation for Moral Law attorneys will continue to challenge Pennsylvania's state hate law. In 2004, eleven Christians were shocked to find themselves in jail as hate criminals.
They were arrested for peacefully protesting a gay pride parade. Christians across America were justly horrified. Bill O'Reilly and others featured the story of persecution in "the land of the free." The Pennsylvania Commonwealth dismissed criminal charges against the Christians. The proactive Christians then sued the governor and legislative leaders, arguing that the hate laws were not passed in a Constitutional way in 2002. They won.
Today the Commonwealth is appealing to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, trying to keep special legal protection for privileged groups, including homosexuals. For decades, states and nations have been complicating their legal systems with such "anti-hate" statutes. These laws stiffen punishment for crimes motivated by "bias" or "hate." They lead to speech restrictions and end up criminalizing legitimate criticism, especially from Christians and conservatives. For example, in Canada and now in the California public school system, it becomes illegal to express our "fundamentalist" bias against anal, same-sex intercourse or to negatively point out that homosexuals have higher AIDS rates. (See, How the Bible Became 'Hate Speech' in California) Bias crime laws are used to silence all criticism-legitimate, thoughtful, or venomous, it doesn't matter-of protected social groups.
Christians don't have such protection. While the Philadelphia Commonwealth is trying to save homosexuals' special privileges, another group of Pennsylvanians-Catholics-aren't feeling the love. A Catholic church was recently vandalized. Thugs defaced a statue of Mary and the church's front doors with words, "God is dead" and "[Obscenity] Jesus." They planted a fake pipe bomb so convincing a bomb squad was called in.
But if they're caught, they won't be prosecuted for a hate crime-just "institutional vandalism." Philly columnist J. D. Mullane wrote about this crime, which he notes was hardly motivated by love. But that's the unequal treatment that results from hate crime laws. We argue that no one should benefit from the increased punishments and complex investigations of hate crime laws. No crime should carry a heavier sentence based on why it's committed. But it's worth pointing out that as various groups are added to hate crime statutes, conservative Christians are not among them.
While advocates battle in Pennsylvania, <>the fight over hate laws also continues in Georgia. Georgia is one of five states without a hate crimes law. This means it is one of five remaining states with a simple, equal-to-all legal system that punishes a murder or beating as a murder or beating, no more or less. Georgia's state laws promise to punish your assailant whether you wear a drag queen's stilettos or a pastor's oxfords. Their wise Majority Whip recently advocated a bill calling hate laws repugnant, as a dike against militant homosexual advocates who want a hate law. His bill said that "encouraging police to treat victims differently depending on whether they fit into a special status created by statute causes victims of similar crimes to be treated disparately, a concept repugnant to the Georgia and United States constitutions." He's so right. But his bill was defeated. Things are in a kind of stalemate. Last year, a Georgian bill to define hate crimes never made it to the Senate floor. But that bill was reintroduced and stands a chance of passage this year.
Meanwhile, hate crime laws are also debated in other states. In Massachusetts, pending legislation will add transgender people to hate crimes protected status. Maryland lawmakers seek to include the homeless under hate crime statutes. A local news source explains, "Under the bill, someone who commits crimes --including defacing private property or murder-- because someone is homeless, could be charged separately for committing a hate crime."Maine already did that last year. A federal bill, now pending, wants to do the same.
I'm repeating myself for the fifteenth time-but hate laws are no good because they create special categories of victims; they criminalize bias, thoughts and beliefs not actions; they complicate law enforcement; they end up criminalizing speech; and they confuse the process of law enforcement which should be equal for all people, for all crimes, at all times.
But there's not a lot of critical thought in the Maryland halls of justice, apparently. Their Senate passed the bill by a whopping vote of 44-4.
One of the four senators with brains (David Brinkley, who deserves to be named) said: "Someone murders someone, they murder someone, there shouldn't be a separate category for it. If they beat someone up, assault and battery is assault and battery. And if the rules are too lenient for some, then let's change them up for all."
Apparently this sunlit logic can't penetrate the dense clouds of identity politics and victim lobbies, led mostly by Jewish groups such as the freedom-hating Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith. If that 44-4 majority support of hate crime laws is even halfway mirrored at the federal level, we stand little chance of defeating a national hate crime law. Especially under a liberal President.
This story says the homeless bill only succeeded because of advocates for the homeless who championed it. This is what happens with hate crime laws: They pass because they have ardent minority defenders, and the silent majority doesn't know enough to care. If Americans truly understood hate crime laws, these laws wouldn't stand a chance. But evil laws can pass when small groups lobby hard and no one else really speaks up. When the majority realizes its doom, it's too late. Just look at the neighbors.
Canadians are slowly waking up to the reality of hate speech laws, as conservative commentators face jail time for criticizing Islam. Canadian National Post blogger Jonathan Kay openly admits that Jews created these speech codes, which are now being used to punish even mainstream figures like Mark Steyn.
"Ironically," he says, "the censorship regime that well-meaning Jewish intellectuals helped put in place to fight anti-Semitism a generation ago is now being applied to prosecute the pundits blowing the whistle on the one truly genuine threat that Jews are facing worldwide: militant Islam."
This quotation matters not because it's wholly true (Were Jewish intellectuals really well-meaning? Is militant Islam really the greatest threat, not Jews' anti-Semitism-generating evil leaders?). It matters because this pundit casually assigns blame for increasingly unpopular laws to Jews-and that's been taboo for a couple decades.
Maybe the tides can shift. Maybe more Americans can learn that hate crime laws pose the single greatest threat to our domestic freedoms, and this threat isn't going away.
For that to happen, more people need to talk truth about hate crime laws-what they are, why they're wrong, and also who's writing them. The ADL is a strong force. Far too many Christian leaders are afraid to criticize hate laws because they will be smeared as "anti-Semites," especially if they point out the ADL as architects. But that's just simple reality. This fight is here to stay. Americans need to keep fighting. The people who want to take away freedom aren't taking a nap.
Harmony Grant writes and edits for National Prayer Network, a Christian/conservative watchdog group.
Let the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith teach you how they have saddled 45 states with hate laws capable of persecuting Christians:
Learn how ADL took away free speech in Canada and wants to steal it now in the U.S. Congress. Watch Rev. Ted Pike's http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7217700265038533779 at video.google.com. Purchase this gripping documentary to show at church. Order online at http://www.truthtellers.org/ for $24.90, DVD or VHS, by calling 503-853-3688, or at the address below.
TALK SHOW HOSTS: Interview Rev. Ted Pike on this subject. Call (503) 631-3808.
NATIONAL PRAYER NETWORK, P.O. Box 828, Clackamas, OR 97015
|February 27th, 2008||#9|
HOW THE BIBLE BECAME 'HATE SPEECH' IN CALIFORNIA
By Rev. Ted Pike
30 Oct 07
Recently, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law S.B. 777, outlawing Biblical criticism of homosexuality in CA public schools (See, California 'Mom,' 'Dad' ban garners international scorn). California 's Christians face the alternatives of withdrawing their children to private education or watching them progressively corrupted by an educational system that demonizes their religious bias against sodomy.
This ban on the Bible is not a recent capricious edict from Sacramento liberals or the Republican "Terminator" Governor Schwarzenegger. It's the result of massive social engineering throughout the past half century but begun in earnest in 1985 by the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith. ADL is architect of "anti-bias" educational programs worldwide. Here's how this Jewish activist group helped make it criminal to criticize sodomy in California --and intends to do so everywhere.
America was founded on tolerance--as a place where people of widely diverse races, religions, and creeds could follow their convictions free from persecution. But America 's founders hardly believed that vice should be tolerated or that it's wrong to be prejudiced against it! Early American social ethics (as taught in homes, schools and churches) said the opposite: Families, social groups and even government should encourage "bias" against all forms of vice. These include robbery, graft, prostitution, etc. and that vice so unnatural that for thousands of years it was virtually unmentionable--sodomy.
Yet, in the early 1980s, Jewish-dominated media determined to create as much damage as possible from the sixties' sexual revolution (which they promoted). I vividly remember how, more than ever before, they encouraged not just the drug culture, abortion and fornication but especially "gay rights." In fact, sodomy is being pushed down the throats of Christian America until it will soon become criminal not to be a homosexual but a Christian! (See, Judaism and Homosexuality: A Marriage Made in Hell and Jews Confirm Big Media Is Jewish)
In league with the Jewish media, ADL's social re-engineering of America and the world has been largely accomplished through its massive "World of Difference" educational program. In 1985, ADL began an educational thrust that encompassed all levels of public education, government, corporations, and social organizations. ADL relentlessly taught millions that we are entitled to no bias against race, religion, or “sexual orientation.” All bias, ADL teaches, is very bad. No one is entitled to claim that he, his religion, or sexual orientation is right and others wrong. "When we convince ourselves that our way is the "right way," we are more likely to strike out at those who are different. In fact, intolerance of differences is at the roots of most violence." (http://www.adl.org/guide/default.asp)
ADL teaches that, for practical purposes, bias and "hate" are the same. Biblical bias expressed against homosexuality constitutes "harassment" and “verbal violence,” the precursor of hate-motivated violence (hate crimes).
First Step: Make Bias Socially Taboo
Wanting to eventually criminalize bias against homosexuality, ADL first had to make it a violation of social norms. Since 1985, "more than 375,000 elementary and secondary school teachers, responsible for nearly 12 million students," have participated in ADL's "World of Difference" program. These included anti-bias programs beginning as early as age 3-5. Lesson formats such as "I Belong to Many Groups" foster global--not religious or national--loyalties in young people.
ADL sensitivity training programs in corporate America taught business owners to defer to homosexuals as almost a protected species in regard to hiring or firing. After decades of conditioning, American business has been prepared for ADL's workplace bias crime laws on the federal and state level. (This includes ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, now before Congress.)
ADL also teaches law enforcement at all levels how to recognize and report bias crimes. It conditioned US Justice Department officials, FBI, and all police departments to believe that verbal “intimidation” of homosexuals is virtually a hate crime and that “gay bashing” may well be traceable to evangelical pulpits.
The Fruits of ADL's Labors
In the 1980s, ADL led countless young people away from Christians' "homophobic" bias against homosexuality. They are now the teachers, police officers, jurists, and administrators who guide America 's public policy. As exists in Canada and now in California , this policy increasingly empowers legislative provision for stiff protection of homosexuals as beleaguered victims of Christian intolerance.
For 23 years, ADL has cultivated, watered and fertilized the moral and cultural soil of America toward acceptance of homosexuality. This contradicts moral standards that prevailed for at least the last 5,000 years.
So it was no surprise when the first openly lesbian member of California 's state assembly, Sheila Koehl, submitted a bill banning criticism of homosexuality in the public school systems. Gov. Schwarzenegger then enshrined on the legislative level a program of moral transformation begun more than 20 years earlier by ADL.
Yet ADL remains unexposed, unidentified, and uncriticized by Christian evangelicals and their leaders. Why the silence? ADL is 100% Jewish. The majority of evangelicals believe that God will "curse" the nation or person who criticizes Jews. (Gen. 12:3) Their leaders, who are becoming more aware of ADL origins of hate laws and organized anti-Christianity, fear they will be cursed by a mass exodus of support if they criticize God's chosen people.
Yet, if the church remains silent concerning those who invented and foment “anti-bias” laws, there is little to ultimately restrain passage of a virtual epidemic of hate laws identical to S.B. 777. Like poisonous mushrooms sprouting in profusion after extended rain, such laws will crop up in state and federal capitals and dominate the moral and political landscape, not only in America but throughout the world.
Rev. Ted Pike is director of the National Prayer Network, a Christian/conservative watchdog organization.
Let the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith teach you how they have saddled 45 states with hate laws capable of persecuting Christians: http://www.adl.org/99hatecrime/intro.asp.
|February 27th, 2008||#10|
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Proud Republican
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Last edited by H.B.; February 27th, 2008 at 06:58 PM.
|February 29th, 2008||#11|
'Asian hate' writer suspended
By Heath Urie, Daily Camera
February 27, 2008
Max Karson, who wrote the controversial column, listens to the rally proceedings.
CU students hold hands while singing We Shall Overcome during Wednesday's protest rally.
Torey Gannon, left, and Victor Hsu listen to speeches condemning an opinion column.
BOULDER — The author of an opinion column that garnered national attention for saying Asians "hate us all" and should be hated back was suspended from CU's Campus Press newspaper staff Wednesday.
"Max Karson's duties with the Campus Press have been suspended pending a restructuring of the opinions section," according to a statement posted on the student paper's Web site Wednesday.
Karson ignited a firestorm last week when his piece titled "If it's war the Asians want ... It's war they'll get," infuriated some students and past members of the Campus Press staff who said the piece was inflammatory and a failed attempt at satire.
The statement goes on to say that the publication's editors are in the process of organizing an "open, public forum to address diversity sensitivity in our news coverage" and are rewriting their ethics policy.
The announcement came the same day university officials said they're close to announcing major changes in the way the paper is operated and overseen.
Faculty members within the CU School of Journalism and Mass Communication met behind closed doors for more than two hours Wednesday to discuss how to best change the management structure of the Campus Press, a class that operates within the school, so that offensive content doesn't get published.
The Campus Press already has agreed to establish a Student Diversity Advisory Board, invite student organizations to meet face-to-face with the editors, adopt an "opinions policy," schedule a series of diversity-awareness workshops for the entire staff and host a series of workshops for opinion writing and editing.
More than a dozen student members of the Campus Press sat outside the faculty meeting room Wednesday waiting to hear what decisions were made about the fate of the publication, but no announcement was made when the group emerged.
Paul Voakes, dean of the journalism school, did release a statement from the faculty group that served equally as an apology.
"This (column) is the antithesis of what we're trying to teach in our school," Voakes said. "The faculty and I take responsibility for the offense that the Campus Press obviously has caused."
He called Karson's column an "editorial mistake" that should have been caught.
Meanwhile, Karson's column continued to spark anger Wednesday.
Boulder City Manager Frank Bruno released a statement saying, "Discrimination is not what Boulder is about."
Also, about 150 students gathered on the University Memorial Center south plaza for a rally and demonstration against the Campus Press.
Chris Choe, a 21-year-old senior and member of the Korean American Students at Boulder group who led the rally, said he hopes the university's administration fundamentally changes how content is reviewed before it's published by the class.
"I want to see responsibility," Choe said. "I want to see that this isn't being marginalized."
Later, the group migrated to a large auditorium on the campus for a forum among Campus Press representatives, CU officials and student leaders.
Federal mediators brought in by student organizers from the U.S. Department of Justice moderated the public meeting, in which students continued to call for changes at the online student paper and in which Campus Press editors offered apologies for any pain that Karson's column caused.
"The mistake that I made when I published the article was thinking that my reactions spoke for everyone," Editor-in-Chief Cassie Hewlings, who sat somberly through the meeting, told the crowd. "I am so incredibly sorry. I didn't want to hurt anyone.
"I've learned more this past week than I have my whole 22 years of life."
Student leaders at the University of Colorado on Wednesday demanded the resignations of the online student newspaper editor and a faculty adviser for publishing a column that has created a furor among Asian Americans and other minority students.
A diverse audience of nearly 200 people attended a rally outside University Memorial Center before meeting with CU-Boulder Chancellor Bud Peterson.
The students carried signs that read "Stop the Hate" and "Responsible Journalism Now."
Several rejected the idea that the Feb. 18 column - written by student Max Karson - was meant as a satire and instead called it hate speech. It was titled "If it's war the Asians want . . . It's war they'll get."
The students also were upset about a column published a day earlier titled "No hablo Ingles," or "I don't speak English."
"The editors at the Campus Press should rename that opinion section as 'racist viewpoints,' said David Chiu, a CU senior. "Once again, the reputation at CU has been tarnished. The publication of these articles embodies institutional racism."
He called for the resignation of Cassie Hewlings, Campus Press editor-in-chief, and faculty adviser Amy Herdy.
Both Hewlings and Herdy apologized directly to the audience after they were prompted by the student government's diversity director.
"I am sorry, it was no one's intent to be hurtful," said Herdy, who noted that the paper also had published an apology.
When someone asked Hewlings what she was apologizing for, she replied, "I am so incredibly sorry. I didn't want to hurt anybody. . . . It was a mistake for me not to see how more people would take this. I've learned more in this last week than I have in my entire 22 years of life."
After the meeting, Hewlings said she did not intend to resign.
Charles Gilford III, one of the three leaders of the CU student government, said he respects freedom of speech but that it was no excuse for publishing the column.
"You have no right to isolate and marginalize certain people," he said. "You have no right to attack a member of our family, and that's what's happened."
Gilford suggested that campus officials evaluate the column in light of federal anti-discrimination laws.
Peterson listened and took notes during the meeting.
At the end of the 90-minute session, he said he would direct students and staff to examine if anyone's civil rights had been violated. He noted that he has directed the journalism department's chairman to re-evaluate the structure and supervision of the Campus Press. He also vowed to re-examine some measures that the campus promised to take two years ago after another student leader received a racially charged death threat.
--John Ensslin, The Rocky
|March 1st, 2008||#12|
[Under jewish dictatorship, the U.S. bans non-criminals for saying things jews don't want Americans to hear.]
Sydney - A Swiss-born Muslim scholar who is banned from visiting the United States will be the keynote speaker at a government-funded conference in Australia next week. Government spokesman Laurie Fergusen on Saturday defended the decision to fete Oxford University's Professor Tariq Ramadan, describing the row over his visit as "a storm in a teacup."
The US government has accused Ramadan of providing material support for terrorism.
Amir Ali, who served on the previous government's advisory panel on integrating Muslim Australians, berated Brisbane's Griffith University for hosting a speaker he said tailored his talks to different audiences, alternately soothing and then inciting.
"It seems that these people speak in different languages to different audiences and they don't convey the same message," Ali said.
The Australia/Israel Jewish Affairs Council said Ramadan was "skilled at projecting moderation to Western audiences while engaging in apologetics for various forms of Islamist extremism."
Scholar banned by US to speak here
Richard Kerbaj | March 01, 2008
CONTROVERSIAL Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan, who was refused entry into the US over alleged links to terror networks, is due to deliver a lecture on Islam at a conference sponsored by the Queensland Government on Monday.
Professor Ramadan - whose grandfather Hassan al-Banna founded one of the world's most radical Islamist movements, the Muslim Brotherhood, in 1928 - will be introduced by federal Labor Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs Laurie Ferguson at the Griffith University event, which has drawn $50,000 worth of sponsorship from the Bligh Government.
Muslim and Jewish leaders yesterday expressed concern about Professor Ramadan's second visit to Australia from Europe since 2004, with a former Howard government adviser on Islam, Ameer Ali, urging national security authorities to keep him under close surveillance.
But Mr Ferguson dismissed the US Government's decision to block Professor Ramadan's entry into the country in 2004 - where he was due to take up a lecturing post at Notre Dame University in Indiana - as an "over the top" measure.
Dr Ali said it was a common problem among Arabic scholars such as Professor Ramadan to alter their messages for different audiences.
"It appears that these people speak in different languages to different audiences and they don't convey the same message," he said.
"If he's allowed to go and mix with the local community, then they (authorities) have to monitor what he is saying."
Australia/Israel Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein also attacked the Swiss-born Professor Ramadan, who lives in Europe, for pandering to Islamic extremists.
"Tariq Ramadan is a problematic figure skilled at projecting moderation to Western audiences, while engaging in apologetics for various forms of Islamist extremism, including terrorist attacks and conspiracy theories about 9/11," he said.
However, Mr Ferguson defended the right of Professor Ramadan, an Oxford University professor of Islamic studies who was named one of the 21st century's great innovators by Time magazine, to speak at the conference in Brisbane.
"You have people with fairly minimal criminal records who aren't allowed in the US," he told The Weekend Australian yesterday.
"I think in some areas America's criteria is a bit over the top ... but there's probably areas where America has got it right and Australia has got it wrong."
Asked if he thought Australia had got it wrong in this instance, he said: "No, I don't."
The US Government found Professor Ramadan donated $940 to two humanitarian foundations in France and Switzerland, which gave money to Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. The academic, who lectured in the US during the Clinton administration and has advised the British Labour Government and Scotland Yard, defended his donations in The Washington Post in 2006.
"My donations were made between December 1998 and July 2002, and the United States did not blacklist the charities until 2003," he wrote. "How should I reasonably have known of their activities before the US Government itself knew?"
Professor Ramadan was refused entry into France in 1995 after he was accused of having links to an Algerian Islamist, but the ban was lifted the following year. He was also banned by Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Egypt "after he suggested a moratorium on Sharia law, in particular corporal punishment, stonings and beheadings", according to the Guardian newspaper.
He has been accused of playing down terrorist campaigns, including the September 11 attacks and the 2005 London bombings, as "interventions". Security sources have told The Weekend Australian Professor Ramadan will remain under close surveillance.
His visit comes a year after Canadian-born Muslim cleric Bilal Philips was refused entry into Australia to headline a Melbourne conference on Islam after the US Government named him an "un-indicted co-conspirator" in the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing in New York, which killed six and injured 1000.
Last edited by Alex Linder; March 1st, 2008 at 09:48 PM.
|March 3rd, 2008||#13|
Quaker teacher fired for changing loyalty oath
Nanette Asimov, Chronicle Staff Writer
California State University East Bay has fired a math teacher after six weeks on the job because she inserted the word "nonviolently" in her state-required Oath of Allegiance form.
Marianne Kearney-Brown, a Quaker and graduate student who began teaching remedial math to undergrads Jan. 7, lost her $700-a-month part-time job after refusing to sign an 87-word Oath of Allegiance to the Constitution that the state requires of elected officials and public employees.
"I don't think it was fair at all," said Kearney-Brown. "All they care about is my name on an unaltered loyalty oath. They don't care if I meant it, and it didn't seem connected to the spirit of the oath. Nothing else mattered. My teaching didn't matter. Nothing."
A veteran public school math teacher who specializes in helping struggling students, Kearney-Brown, 50, had signed the oath before - but had modified it each time.
She signed the oath 15 years ago, when she taught eighth-grade math in Sonoma. And she signed it again when she began a 12-year stint in Vallejo high schools.
Each time, when asked to "swear (or affirm)" that she would "support and defend" the U.S. and state Constitutions "against all enemies, foreign and domestic," Kearney-Brown inserted revisions: She wrote "nonviolently" in front of the word "support," crossed out "swear," and circled "affirm." All were to conform with her Quaker beliefs, she said.
The school districts always accepted her modifications, Kearney-Brown said.
But Cal State East Bay wouldn't, and she was fired on Thursday.
Modifying the oath "is very clearly not permissible," the university's attorney, Eunice Chan, said, citing various laws. "It's an unfortunate situation. If she'd just signed the oath, the campus would have been more than willing to continue her employment."
Modifying oaths is open to different legal interpretations. Without commenting on the specific situation, a spokesman for state Attorney General Jerry Brown said that "as a general matter, oaths may be modified to conform with individual values." For example, court oaths may be modified so that atheists don't have to refer to a deity, said spokesman Gareth Lacy.
Kearney-Brown said she could not sign an oath that, to her, suggested she was agreeing to take up arms in defense of the country.
"I honor the Constitution, and I support the Constitution," she said. "But I want it on record that I defend it nonviolently."
The trouble began Jan. 17, a little more than a week after she started teaching at the Hayward campus. Filling out her paperwork, she drew an asterisk on the oath next to the word "defend." She wrote: "As long as it doesn't require violence."
The secretary showed the amended oath to a supervisor, who said it was unacceptable, Kearney-Brown recalled.
Shortly after receiving her first paycheck, Kearney-Brown was told to come back and sign the oath.
This time, Kearney-Brown inserted "nonviolently," crossed out "swear," and circled "affirm."
That's when the university sought legal advice.
"Based on the advice of counsel, we cannot permit attachments or addenda that are incompatible and inconsistent with the oath," the campus' human resources manager, JoAnne Hill, wrote to Kearney-Brown.
She cited a 1968 case called Smith vs. County Engineer of San Diego. In that suit, a state appellate court ruled that a man being considered for public employment could not amend the oath to declare: his "supreme allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ Whom Almighty God has appointed ruler of Nations, and expressing my dissent from the failure of the Constitution to recognize Christ and to acknowledge the Divine institution of civil government."
The court called it "a gratuitous injection of the applicant's religious beliefs into the governmental process."
But Hill said Kearney-Brown could sign the oath and add a separate note to her personal file that expressed her views.
Kearney-Brown declined. "To me it just wasn't the same. I take the oath seriously, and if I'm going to sign it, I'm going to do it nonviolently."
Then came the warning.
"Please understand that this issue needs to be resolved no later than Friday, Feb. 22, 2008, or you will not be allowed to continue to work for the university," Hill wrote.
The deadline was then extended to Wednesday and she was fired on Thursday.
"I was kind of stunned," said Kearney-Brown, who is pursuing her master's degree in math to earn the credentials to do exactly the job she is being fired from.
"I was born to do this," she said. "I teach developmental math, the lowest level. The kids who are conditionally accepted to the university. Give me the kids who hate math - that's what I want."
|March 7th, 2008||#14|
[In which the ADL describes part of its online spy network, and the way the information it collects, legally and illegally, is used to deny the use of the First Amendment to anyone it targets as an enemy and labels a hater. Although the ADL has been convicted of multiple felonies related to its activities, it continues to be allowed to "train" FBI agents and local police to abrogate the rights of anyone the ADL targets under one of its hate categorizations.]
Letters to the Editor
Jewish Week February 25, 2008
To the Editor:
It is wrong to characterize "old-guard" Jewish groups as slow in recognizing new mutations of anti-Semitism on the Internet, or as being behind the curve when it comes to the proliferation of offensive material on YouTube, Facebook and other social-networking sites ("Anti-Semitism 2.0 Going Largely Unchallenged," Feb. 22).
The reality is that this issue has long been at the forefront of ADL's agenda in working to expose and counter hate. Our cutting edge Center on Extremism devotes a cadre of full-time researchers and analysts to monitoring blogs, social-networking sites,;[n] ews and information sites, and anti-Semitic and racist Web sites. We've exposed sites by and for white supremacists, educated law enforcement about terrorist use of steganography (secret communications woven into the fabric of innocuous Web sites) and cryptography, and intercepted real-time discussions among our nation's most virulent bigots. Our efforts in monitoring hate sites have had significant results, including convictions.
Just as there has been no one antidote to anti-Semitism over the centuries, there is no one method for stopping its proliferation on the Web. That is why ADL is engaged in a multi-pronged approach. We devote substantial resources to train law enforcement on extremists' use of the Internet; work with major Internet service providers to remove anti-Semitic and racist material; and create curricula for educators to help combat cyberbullying. Our expertise is relied upon not just in this country, but globally, and we are the United States' representative on the International Network Against Cyberhate.
For 95 years ADL has been vigilant in the fight against anti-Semitism and all forms of hatred and bigotry. We are proud to be the "old guard" and even prouder to be "on guard" with state-of-the-art research, analysis and response to each disturbing new trend in cyberspace.
The Anti-Defamation League
|March 10th, 2008||#16|
The law vs. online hate speech
Anonymous bullies must be held accountable.
By Andrew Keen
March 11, 2008
The cartoon isn't as amusing as it once was. "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog," one Web-surfing canine barked to another in that 1993 classic from the New Yorker. Back then, of course, at the innocent dawn of the Internet Age, the idea that we might all be anonymous on the Web promised infinite intellectual freedom. Unfortunately, however, that promise hasn't been realized. Today, too many anonymous Internet users are posting hateful content about their neighbors, classmates, and co-workers.
This isn't illegal, of course, because online speech – anonymous or otherwise – is protected by the First Amendment and by the Supreme Court's much-cited 1995 McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission ruling protecting anonymous speech. But is today's law adequately protecting us? What happens, for example, when anonymous Internet critics go beyond rude and irremediably blacken the reputations of innocent citizens or cause them harm? Should there be legal consequences?
The most notorious case is the cyber-bullying of Megan Meier, a 13-year-old girl from a St. Louis suburb. In 2006, Megan, a troubled, overweight adolescent, became embroiled in an intense, six-week online friendship with "Josh Evans" on MySpace. After "Josh" turned against Megan and posted a comment that, "The world would be better place without you," the girl hanged herself. Later, when it became known that the fictitious Josh Evans was Lori Drew, a neighbor and mother of a girl with whom Megan had argued, there were calls for criminal prosecution. But the St. Charles County Sheriff's Department didn't charge Ms. Drew.
Fortunately, Megan's suicide is making officials get more serious about holding anonymous Internet users accountable. Online free speech fundamentalists, no doubt, would cite the McIntyre ruling in any defense. Yet that was a ruling focusing on anonymous "political speech"; Justice John Paul Stevens's opinion for the court cited the example of the Federalist Papers, originally published under pseudonyms, as proof that anonymity represents a "shield from the tyranny of the majority" and is, therefore, vital to a free society. But such a defense doesn't work for cases like the Meier suicide, in which the anonymous speech was anything but political.
The Web 2.0 revolution in self-published content is making the already tangled legal debate around anonymity even harder to unravel. Take the case of a couple of female Yale Law School students whose reputations have been sullied on an online bulletin board called AutoAdmit. The plaintiffs had to drop Anthony Ciolli, the law student in charge of AutoAdmit, from the suit. This is because the law treats websites differently from traditional publishers in terms of their liability for libelous content.
In Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, Congress granted websites and Internet service providers immunity from liability for content posted by third parties. So a paper-and-ink newspaper can be sued for publishing a libelous letter from a reader, but, under Section 230, Web bulletin boards such as AutoAdmit have no legal responsibility for the published content of their users. Thus the students are now pursuing the identities of their defamers independently of AutoAdmit – a near impossible task.
Such cases indicate that the Supreme Court soon might need to rethink the civic value of anonymous speech in the Digital Age. Today, when cowardly anonymity is souring Internet discourse, it really is hard to understand how anonymous speech is vital to a free society.
That New Yorker cartoon remains true: On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog. But it is the responsibility of all of us – parents, citizens, and lawmakers – to ensure that contemporary Web users don't behave like antisocial canines. And one way to achieve this is by introducing more legislation to punish anonymous sadists whose online lies are intended to wreck the reputations and mental health of innocent Americans.
|March 10th, 2008||#17|
Kentucky Lawmaker Wants to Make Anonymous Internet Posting Illegal
Mar 05, 2008
By Kellie Wilson
Kentucky Representative Tim Couch filed a bill this week to make anonymous posting online illegal.
The bill would require anyone who contributes to a website to register their real name, address and e-mail address with that site.
Their full name would be used anytime a comment is posted.
If the bill becomes law, the website operator would have to pay if someone was allowed to post anonymously on their site. The fine would be five-hundred dollars for a first offense and one-thousand dollars for each offense after that.
Representative Couch says he filed the bill in hopes of cutting down on online bullying. He says that has especially been a problem in his Eastern Kentucky district.
Action News 36 asked people what they thought about the bill.
Some said they felt it was a violation of First Amendment rights. Others say it is a good tool toward eliminating online harassment.
Represntative Couch says enforcing this bill if it became law would be a challenge.
|March 10th, 2008||#18|
[Republicunts are free to stomp Arab flags. Does this go for Star-of-Evil flags too? Itz free speech when you criticize Muslims, hate speech when you criticize jews. Ever notice that?]
S.F. State GOP group wins free-speech case
Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
March 8, 2008
(03-07) 14:46 PST SAN FRANCISCO -- To the relief of a campus Republican group, the 417,000 students at California State University's 23 institutions no longer face the possibility of discipline for failing to be civil to one another.
The change was part of a settlement approved by a federal magistrate in Oakland this week in a lawsuit by the San Francisco State College Republicans, whose members were subjected to a disciplinary hearing after some of them stomped on two flags bearing the name of Allah during an anti-terrorism rally in October 2006.
The flags represented the militant organizations Hamas and Hezbollah and had "Allah" written on them in Arabic. A student later complained that the College Republicans had engaged in "actions of incivility" and had tried to incite violence and create a hostile environment.
A panel of students, faculty and staff held a hearing in March 2007 and found no violations of university policy. But the College Republicans and two of their leaders filed suit four months later, challenging the speech and conduct codes that led to the disciplinary proceedings.
One line in the policy manual that applies to all 23 campuses says students are expected to be civil to one another. University officials said the manual didn't set disciplinary standards or authorize punishment for incivility, but U.S. Magistrate Wayne Brazil said the Republican group at San Francisco State had been investigated for precisely that reason.
"The First Amendment permits disrespectful and totally emotional discourse," Brazil said at a hearing in November, when he announced an injunction prohibiting the university from enforcing the civility standard in any disciplinary proceeding.
This week's settlement includes a systemwide ban on punishment for incivility, along with revisions in the standards for student conduct at San Francisco State.
One change narrows the definition of sexual harassment to apply only to "severe, pervasive and objectively offensive" actions that cause harm. The previous definition covered "unwelcome conduct which emphasizes another person's sexuality."
Also eliminated was a provision authorizing discipline for any behavior that is "inconsistent with S.F. State goals, principles and policies."
In addition, the university agreed to pay $100 each to the College Republicans and two of its leaders, and $41,500 in fees to their lawyers.
The settlement is one of a series of victories won by conservative legal groups against college speech codes.
Most of the codes were adopted in the 1980s and 1990s, and prohibit what the schools described as hate speech - expressions that are abusive or demeaning to various racial, ethnic, sexual or religious groups. Opponents, who have often included the American Civil Liberties Union as well as religious conservatives, say the codes amount to censorship and an attempt to stifle debate.
The San Francisco case is "a great victory for free speech," said David Hacker of the Alliance Defense Fund, a lawyer for the College Republicans.
State university students, Hacker said, "are now more free to speak on issues that matter to them."
Although the civility standard may seem innocuous, he said, "speech codes like this are consistently enforced against Christian and conservative students across the country merely for expressing their beliefs."
Christine Helwick, the university system's general counsel, said the settlement should clear up confusion in the disciplinary code.
"Our code has always indicated, and still does, that we expect students to behave civilly toward one another," Helwick said. "In order to proceed with a disciplinary action, there has to be a specific act of incivility," such as harassment or other expressly forbidden conduct, she said.
E-mail Bob Egelko at [email protected].
|March 14th, 2008||#19|
ACLU Seeks to Deny Free Speech to Christians says Dr. Gary Cass
Contact: Sandy Cass, 866-508-2232; Sharaya Cass, [email protected]; both with the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission
MEDIA ADVISORY, March 14 /Standard Newswire/ -- "It's very troubling for the government to dictate what kind of prayers Christians can or cannot offer in the public forum," says Dr. Gary Cass. "Jesus taught His disciples to pray to the Father in His name. To require Christians to not pray in the name of Jesus Christ is asking them to pray contrary to their faith. By what authority does the Government deny Christians their First Amendment right to pray according to the dictates of their conscience?"
Reverend Hashmel Turner, a member of the Fredericksburg, Virginia city council, was threatened with lawsuits by from many secular anti-Christian groups, including the ACLU, for his Christian prayers during a council meeting. Turner was apart of a rotation of all the council members who would take turns praying at the council meetings. His case is currently making it's way to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals on March 19, and would allow Christians the right to pray "in Jesus' name" in the public forum. This case will have a tremendous impact on city councils and state legislatures throughout the United States.
"Just because somebody objects to praying in Jesus' name does not mean that should Christians must deny their faith to accommodate another person's opposing beliefs. This is discrimination," said Dr. Cass. "Over 80% of American's self-identify as Christians, but Hindu's [sic], Muslim's [sic] and Jew's [sic] have all prayed in the public forum and no one has restricted the content of their prayers and the ACLU has not threatened them.
"The majority of Christians are subjected to non-Christian prayers, why are Christians told what they can or cannot pray? This is simply anti-Christian bigotry and an attempt to deny free speech for Christians," said Cass.
The Christian Anti-Defamation Commission is a non-profit organization devoted to protecting the rights of Christians to confidently live their faith. Dr. Gary Cass has degrees from Westminster Theological Seminary. He previously served as Executive Director of the Center for Reclaiming America for Christ, an outreach of Coral Ridge Ministries founded by the late Dr. D. James Kennedy.
|March 14th, 2008||#20|
My letter to these nitwits:
Two lessons here:
1) Learn fucking English, you idiots:
"Over 80% of American's self-identify as Christians, but Hindu's, Muslim's and Jew's have all prayed in the public forum and no one has restricted the content of their prayers and the ACLU has not threatened them.
Hindu’s? Muslim’s? Jew’s?
Are you retarded?
Rhetorical question. I know the answer.
2) Quit being cowards.
The ACLU is not goddam secularists, it’s a bunch of goddam jews.
You know that.