Due Process

SOPA supporters face a mountain of opposition

With President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law last week, it should serve as a reminder that the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is the next battle that civil liberties and privacy advocates should turn our attention to. Some are already taking the fight over this issue straight to SOPA supporters. For example, Reddit users launched a campaign against GoDaddy, which caused the Internet hosting firm to switch its position to opposition of SOPA. Similarly, they also went after Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), a popular figure in the conservative movement, causing problems for his staff and, potentially, his re-election campaign.

Why is there such a backlash against this legislation? Because it promotes Internet censorship and elimates due process for website owners and operators. Jerry Brito explained the problems with SOPA at Time back in November:

NDAA Signed = Not a Happy New Year’s After All

Well, he’s done it:

President Obama signed on Saturday the defense authorization bill, formally ending weeks of heated debate in Congress and intense lobbying by the administration to strip controversial provisions requiring the transfer of some terror suspects to military custody.

“I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists,” Obama said in a statement accompanying his signature.

The White House had originally threatened to veto the $662 billion bill, considered must-pass legislation, over the language that requires mandatory military custody for suspects linked to al-Qaida or its affiliates, even if they are captured in the U.S. Just before the House and Senate passed the bill comfortably, the White House said it would support the bill’s compromise language that, as tweaked by conference committee, would not impede the administration’s ability to collect intelligence or incapacitate dangerous terrorists.

Still, administration officials have admitted publicly the final provisions were not the preferred approach of this administration.

You know, if you have “serious reservations” about a bill, the sensible thing to do would be to veto it. That’s why the veto power was given to the president in the first place! For a constitutional scholar, Mr. Obama doesn’t seem to know very much about the constitution is quite knowledgeable and sincere about the power of the presidency and the required performance of the United States federal government through the authority vested in the Constitution. Have a good day.

[Article sweeped of unpatriotic sentiment at 6:48PM 12/31/2011. Move along, citizen.]

Companies backing SOPA have created piracy

We’ve been posting a lot about the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) lately. You’re going to continue to hear about it online over the next few weeks. SOPA is touted by supporters as legislation that would prevent copyright infringement and secure intellectual property rights, but it would actually promote internet censorship and ignore due process. In fact, SOPA isn’t likely to stop piracy.

If you want to learn more about the law and its implications, you should watch this video that explains how many of the companies supporting SOPA are in fact guilty of distributing software that promotes piracy:

H/T: RevoluTimes

Senators introduce the Due Process Guarantee Act

A bipartisan group of Senators have wasted no time in trying to apply a legislative fix to the “indefinite detention” language in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which was passed last night. The Due Process Guarantee Act (full text below), sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, would ensure the protections that the NDAA would seemingly erase:

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, today introduced the Due Process Guarantee Act of 2011, legislation that states American citizens apprehended inside the United States cannot be indefinitely detained by the military.

The Due Process Guarantee Act of 2011 amends the Non-Detention Act of 1971 by providing that a Congressional authorization for the use of military force does not authorize the indefinite detention—without charge or trial—of U.S. citizens who are apprehended domestically.

The Feinstein bill also codifies a “clear-statement rule” that requires Congress to expressly authorize detention authority when it comes to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. The protections for citizens and lawful permanent residents is limited to those “apprehended in the United States” and excludes citizens who take up arms against the United States on a foreign battlefield, such as Afghanistan.

NDAA: How bad can it be?

With Congress passing the NDAA, the question many ask is simple: How bad will/can it get?  It’s a fair question.  While the constitutional questions this bill raises are a topic of debate amongst the talking heads and various other politicos, the average person must ask that simple question.

The NDAA essentially turns the entire United States into a warzone for the purposes of combating terrorism.  It also gives the government extra-constitutional powers for this very same purpose. Officially, this is about Al Qaeda and “associated forces”, whatever that means.

The thing is, when you look at how Obama’s White House has defined “domestic terrorists”, one is left to wonder when will they decide to define “associated forces” to include domestic terrorists.  Honestly, I don’t think it would take very long, and as there is no due process, it’s unlikely that the courts will get a say on this for a very long time.

So the first thing we have to understand is, “what is a domestic terrorist”?

((5) the term `domestic terrorism’ means activities that—

Would the #NDAA Lock up the #MSM?

Journalists are terrorists.

That line of thought was brought up in my college class on international reporting back in 2009, when we were discussing the Swine Flu and SARS and how the media was covering those things. One student asked that, if journalists were hyping these stories, getting people alarmed over things that probably not going to harm them, and especially if said journalists were not doing proper fact-checking and were spreading around myths, then aren’t journalists terrorists?

That was in my mind as I read about the National Defense Authorization Act and its idiotic langauge that would require the US military to lock up anyone who is merely “suspected” of being a terrorist without any trial or due process. The same line of thought, apparently, hit Jason Kuznicki:

If I were president, I would start with a round of mass imprisonments.

As Machiavelli advises, I’d do it quickly, perhaps all in one night. A few tens of thousands should be enough.

No, no, you’ve got me all wrong — these aren’t political prisoners. Yes, they just happen to include the members of the Democratic and Republican National Committees. There are a lot of big-time political donors. (Which ones? Don’t ask!) Industrialists, financiers, labor leaders, community organizers. Academics. Journalists. Judges. A few members of Congress. (I wouldn’t need too many of those. It only needs a few pour encourager les autres.)

Cain flip-flops on due process for Americans, criticizes Perry

Back in May, Herman Cain answered a few questions from Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic dealing with Libya and civil liberties issues. Cain’s answers on the USA PATRIOT Act were disappointing; and quite frankly, showed a severe lack of respect for the Fourth Amendment, especially for someone that supposedly wants to restore the Constitution.

Oddly though, Cain rejected the idea of a president authorizing the death of American citizen, as in the case of Anwar al-Awlaki, without due process guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment. Here the relevant part of the interview (Friedersdorf’s questions are in bold):

President Obama has said that he has the authority to assassinate American citizens if he’s declared them an enemy combatant in the War on Terror. Al Awlaki is one guy who is on the official government list where he can be taken out. Do you have any thoughts on that? Is it a good policy because it allows us to take out Americans who may have joined Al Qaeda? Or is it a bad policy-

Well first of all, this is the first that I have heard - you’re saying it’s okay to take out American citizens if he suspects they are terrorist related. Is that what you said?!

Yes, that’s what I said.

American-born terrorist executed without due process

In case you missed the story from Friday, the United States killed one of its own citizens, a New Mexico-born terrorist working with al-Qaeda, in Yemen without due process, a protected right by the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution:

President Obama welcomed news of the death of one of the nation’s most-wanted terrorists, cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, in Yemen on Friday, calling it “another significant milestone” in the war against al-Qaida and its affiliates. Speaking just months after he ordered the killing of Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in his compound in Pakistan, Obama said Awlaki took the lead in “planning efforts to murder innocent Americans” as head of external operations for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

Awlaki was a charismatic Yemeni-American who grew up in New Mexico and was considered the most influential English-speaking cleric preaching global jihad today. He was killed by a U.S. drone and jet strike in a joint operation of the CIA and the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command, the Associated Press reported.

“The death of Awlaki is a major blow to al-Qaida’s most active affiliate,” Obama said at the retirement ceremony for Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen. Awlaki’s death is a “tribute” to the U.S. intelligence community, and the efforts of Yemen and its intelligence community, he said.

Say good bye to reasonable doubt?

FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, is a little upset right now.  I don’t blame them either.  You see, for a group that supports individual rights in education, the new directive coming down from Uncle Sam has got to be a slap in the face.  You see, sexual assault and sexual harassment are serious issues.  However, now the federal government believes that the whole “without a reasonable doubt” thing is just to much trouble.

The new standard is called “preponderance of the evidence” standard.  Sounds like the same thing, right?  Not according to FIRE.

In response to new federal regulations announced last month that require colleges and universities to dramatically reduce students’ due process rights, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) today sent an open letter to the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) sharply criticizing the agency’s new requirements. Under the new regulations, announced in an April 4, 2011, letter from Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Russlynn Ali, colleges and universities receiving federal funding must employ a “preponderance of the evidence” standarda 50.01%, “more likely than not” evidentiary burdenwhen adjudicating student complaints concerning sexual harassment or sexual violence. Institutions that do not comply face federal investigation and the loss of federal funding.

[Emphasis mine]

FBI can find out what you’re packing

DownsizeDC.org sent an email out yesterday to point out how the provision of the PATRIOT Act that permits the Feds to snoop into your library history also allows them to take a look at your firearm purchase forms…you know, those forms you’re required to use when buying from a licensed dealer?  You know, the ones that we’ve been told repeatedly aren’t a form of gun registration?  Yeah, those.

From the DownsizeDC email:

The FBI already had powerful tools to combat terrorism before the Patriot Act. The FISA court would allow the FBI to obtain records of suspected terrorists from motels, car rental agencies, storage facilities, and similar businesses.

But the Patriot Act’s Section 215 dangerously broadens this power. Now, the FBI can …

* Merely claim, without providing ANY evidence, that the information it seeks is “relevant” to a terrorism investigation
* Acquire personal information on anyone, including U.S. citizens not suspected of terrorism (or any other crime)
* “Gag” institutions and businesses so they can’t tell people they are being investigated
* Obtain even the most private information, such as emails, medical records, library history, and gun purchase forms

Section 215 violates not only the Fourth Amendment, but also the First and Second Amendments. The federal government has no business knowing what I read or how many guns I own.

The Justice Department’s own Inspector General has found that the FBI uses Section 215 powers tens of thousands of times per year, mostly targeted at innocent Americans.

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