Destroying Freedom

 Congress, Constitution, Corruption, Politics, Presidency, The Courts  Comments Off on Destroying Freedom
Apr 202007

From Stop Illegal Spying

Click to learn more about helping stop illegal spying in America.George Christian, executive director of Library Connection, a consortium of 27 libraries in the Hartford, Conn., area, has, since 2005, been fighting a National Security letter request from the FBI for subscription information on patrons of the library system. Because of the way the PATRIOT Act is written, he was only recently, through a court order, un-gagged to be able to testify before Congress about the experience.

Said Christian, “Terrorists win when the fear of them induces us to destroy the rights that make us free.” Christian said his experience “should raise a big patriotic American flag of caution” about the strain that the government’s pursuit of would-be terrorists puts on civil liberties. He said the government uses the USA Patriot Act and other laws to learn, without proper judicial oversight or any after-the-fact review, what citizens are researching in libraries.

A recent report by the Justice Department’s inspector general found 48 violations of law or rules in the FBI’s use of national security letters from 2003 through 2005. Some congressional critics want to tighten legal safeguards on the letters.

” ‘Trust us’ doesn’t cut it when it comes to the government’s power to obtain Americans’ sensitive business records without a court order and without any suspicion that they are tied to terrorism or espionage,” said Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on civil rights.

Now the Bush administration wants even more power to secretly spy on Americans who have done nothing wrong, further destroying American liberty. This administration tells us that “terrorists hate our freedom.” Yet, it seems that this administration hates our freedom even more, for it’s hell bent on destroying it. Do we have to destroy freedom to save it from terrorists?

The truth is that U.S. government agencies had all the information they needed to detect and stop the September 11, 2001, attacks. That they failed to do so is not because they didn’t have the power to spy on ordinary Americans without warrants or reason that the administration demanded and received and now wants more of.

You should urge Congress to pass the Read the Bills Act, which would prevent Congress from passing bills it hasn’t actually read, the way the Patriot Act was passed.

News Roundup-Week Ending April 15, 2007

 Corruption, General, Politics, Presidency, Science, Technology, Travel  Comments Off on News Roundup-Week Ending April 15, 2007
Apr 202007

Johnny Hart Died Saturday

So who was Johnny Hart? He was the creator of two of my long-time favorite comic strips, B.C. and The Wizard of Id. I especially loved the Wizard of Id for the occasional appearance of their local undertaker. Hart died Saturday at age 76 while working at his home in Nineveh, NY. “He had a stroke,” his wife, Bobby, said Sunday. “He died at his storyboard.”

Hart’s “B.C.” strip was launched in 1958 and eventually appeared in more than 1,300 newspapers with an audience of 100 million, according to Creators Syndicate Inc., which distributes it.

Former Microsoft chief architect Charles Simonyi spent $20 million to become the fifth space tourist

The man given much of the credit for overseeing the development of Microsoft’s Word software blasted into space over the weekend as the fifth space tourist.

Charles Simonyi, who was once chief architect at Microsoft and now runs his own development company called Intentional Software, began his journey into space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at just after 11:30pm Saturday local time. Simonyi traveled with Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Fyodor Yurchikhin inside the Soyuz TMA10 spacecraft.

Disney to Host Gay Nuptials

The Walt Disney Co. has changed its policy and will allow same-sex couples to take part in its Fairy Tale Wedding program at its California and Orlando, Fla., resorts and cruises, a Disney spokesman confirmed Friday.

“We want everyone who comes to Disney to recognize their special occasion to feel welcomed and respected,” Disney Parks and Resorts spokesman Donn Walker told on Friday.

Would that everyone had that attitude.

Voter Fraud, A Big Non-Starter
“Five years after the Bush administration began a crackdown on voter fraud, the Justice Department has turned up virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections.” Just 120 people have been charged with voter fraud crimes, and 86 convicted as of last year, and Ann Coulter isn’t one of them.

FBI Not Following NSL Requirements – Are You Surprised?

 Constitution, Crime, Politics, Presidency, Society  Comments Off on FBI Not Following NSL Requirements – Are You Surprised?
Mar 092007

A new report by the Justice Department’s Inspector General (IG) “has found pervasive errors in the FBI’s use of its power to secretly demand telephone, e-mail and financial records in national security cases.” “The inspector general’s audit found 22 possible breaches of internal FBI and Justice Department regulations — some of which were potential violations of law — in a sampling of 293 ‘national security letters (NSLs).'” (The Patriot Act gave FBI agents the right to “demand telephone, bank, credit card and library records by issuing” NSLs, “bypassing the need to seek a warrant from a federal judge.”) “In nearly a quarter of the case files” IG Glenn Fine reviewed, “he found previously unreported potential violations.” The report also found that in 2005, the FBI issued over 19,000 NSLs, “amounting to 47,000 separate requests for information.” Some agents issued these letters “without citing an authorized investigation, claimed ‘exigent’ circumstances that did not exist in demanding information and did not have adequate documentation to justify the issuance of letters.” “In an unknown number of other cases, third parties such as telephone companies, banks and Internet providers responded to national security letters with detailed personal information about customers that the letters do not permit to be released.” “Expect a weekend firestorm,” one Justice Department official said of the report. Ironically, on the same day of the report’s release, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will “deliver keynote remarks before the International Association of Privacy Professionals.”

White House May Have Torpedoed Abramoff Corruption Probe

 Corruption, Politics  Comments Off on White House May Have Torpedoed Abramoff Corruption Probe
Sep 272005

In November 2002, the U.S. attorney in Guam, Frederick A. Black, notified Justice Department officials that he was opening an investigation into Jack Abramoff’s lobbying activities with Guam judges. Days later, Black was demoted and barred from pursuing public corruption cases, ending his investigation. The Justice Department’s Inspector General and the FBI are looking into Black’s demotion to determine whether Abramoff’s close ties to the Bush administration may have influenced Justice Department officials, including Attorney General John Ashcroft, in any way. “What this starts to suggest is that Abramoff’s ability to corrupt the system was far more pervasive, certainly than we knew at the time,” said Rep. George Miller (D-CA).