A look at freedom and liberty in the US ten years after 9-11-01

A recent poll revealed some surprises about how Americans feel about their constitutional rights after ten years of changes in how the Fourth Amendment has been applied in their lives. They still care a great deal about civil liberties protections, even in the face of the need to deal with increased government surveillance. They have differing levels of tolerance for intrusions however, depending on the circumstances.
Readers are encouraged to read the full WaPo article for the details of this truly fascinating poll.

Amplify’d from www.washingtonpost.com

Poll: Americans open to trading off some liberties _ within limits _ to fight terrorism

By Associated Press, Published: September 6

WASHINGTON — Surveillance cameras in public places? Sure. Body scans at airports? Maybe. Snooping in personal email? Not so fast.

Ten years after the 9/11 attacks led to amped-up government surveillance efforts, two-thirds of Americans say it’s fitting to sacrifice some privacy and freedoms in the fight against terrorism, according to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

A slim majority — 54 percent — say that if they had to choose between preserving their rights and freedoms and protecting people from terrorists, they’d come down on the side of civil liberties. The public is particularly protective of the privacy of U.S. citizens, voicing sharp opposition to government surveillance of Americans’ emails and phone calls.

The poll asked people to grapple with some of same quandaries that the government and the courts have been wrestling with over the past decade, and even before the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Two-thirds of those surveyed believe the resulting policies are a mish-mash created in reaction to events as they occur rather than clearly planned.

The AP-NORC poll found that about half of those surveyed felt that they have indeed lost some of their own personal freedoms to fight terrorism. Was it worth it? Close to half of those who thought they’d lost freedoms doubted it was necessary.

Overall, six in 10 say the government is doing enough to protect Americans’ rights and freedoms as it fights terrorism. But people may not even be aware of what they’ve given up. The extent of government eavesdropping and surveillance is something of a mystery.

Read more at www.washingtonpost.com


Lest we forget: Links to May stories regarding torture and related items

‘Fair and Balanced’ in Academia: Twisting Recent Torture History in the Journal ‘Nature,’ ” is by Jeff Kaye at Firedoglake (5/27/09).

Backlash grows against Obama’s preventive detention proposal,” is by Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com (5/25/09).

Former Senior Interrogator in Iraq Dissects Cheney’s Lies and Distortions,” is by Matthew Alexander at The Huffington Post (5/24/09).

U.S. Relies More on Aid of Allies in Terror Cases,” is by Eric Schmitt and Mark Mazzetti at The New York Times (5/23/09).

Obama’s Preventive Detention Problem: Breaking it down,” is by Chisun Lee at ProPublica (5/22/09).

Facts and Myths about Obama’s preventive detention proposal,” is by Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com (5/22/09).

Distorting public opinion on torture investigations,” is by Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com (5/17/09).

You Can’t Spell ‘Walter Pincus’ without C, I, and A,” is by emptywheel (5/16/09).

The Two Torture Tape Suspects, the Pelosi Briefing, and the Panetta Statement,” is by emptywheel (5/16/09).

Dick Cheney, Torture, Iraq, and Valerie Plame,” is by emptywheel (5/15/09).

Fox Reports Absence of Presidential Finding, Clear Violation of Law, Yawns,” is by emptywheel (5/15/09).

Dick Cheney out on a (Limb) Fourth Branch,” is by emptywheel (5/14/09).

Wilkerson: al-Libi’s Waterboarding,” is by emptywheel (5/14/09).

The 9/11 Commission and Torture,” is by emptywheel (5/14/09).

Mark Mazzetti, the Gray Lady’s Grammar-Impaired Spook Stenographer,” is by emptywheel (5/14/09).

Detainee Interrogation: A road not taken,” is by Steven Aftergood at Secrecy News (5/14/09).

About the Foto Flip-Flop,” is by emptywheel (5/13/09).

Philip Zelikow: How BushCo Gamed the Briefing Process,” is from emptywheel (5/13/09).

Giving Voice to Detainees,” is from the ACLU Blog of Rights (5/7/09).

Here ‘Uighur’ again,” is from the ACLU Blog of Rights (5/7/09).

Guantanamo Bay, USA?,” is from the ACLU Blog of Rights (5/6/09).

Finding Justice,” is by mcjoan at Daily Kos (4/26/09).

New GOP torture meme: Dems’ fault,” is by David Waldman at Daily Kos (4/26/09).

Torture, Empathy, and Democracy,” is by George Lakoff at Firedoglake (4/26/09).

Washington Post Helps JPRA Cover Up Complicity in Torture Program,” is by Jeff Kaye at Firedoglake (4/26/09).

Blogs: My news and political blog is at South by Southwest. My general purpose/southwest focus blog is at Southwest Progressive. My creative blog is at Making Good Mondays. And Carol Gee – Online Universe is the all-in-one home page for my websites.

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Obama administration – National Security and Secrecy: reference links

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Domestic Surveillance and National Security reference links:

FBI and States Vastly Expand DNA Databases,” is by Solomon Moore at The New York Times (4/18/09).

Role of Bush NSA Plan Under Review,” is by Ellen Nakashima at the Washington Post (4/17/09).

The 6-Month Review,” is by emptywheel (4/16/09). Re warrantless wiretapping.

Head of Senate Panel Calls For Hearing on Wiretaps,” is by Eric Lichtblau and James Risen at The New York Times (4/16/09).

Feingold: NYT Report Shows We Need to Fix Wiretapping Laws,” is by Zachary Roth at TPM Muckraker (4/16/09). Also, “Report: NSA Tried to Wiretap Member of Congress,” (4/16/09).

The NYT predictable revelation:new FISA law enabled massive abuses,” is by Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com (4/16/09).

Documents: FBI Spyware Has Been Snaring Extortionists, Hackers for Years,” is by Kevin Poulson at Wired- Threat Level (4/16/09).

Lichtblau and Risen Report Wiretapping of Americans … Again,” is by emptywheel (4/15/09). NYT story.

Did Holder Know About the ‘Significant Misconduct’ When DOJ Claimed Sovereign Immunity,” is by emptywheel (4/15/09).

Fusion Centers: Listen to us Already,” is by Amanda Simon at the ACLU Blog of Rights (4/8/09).

Credit Where Due: Keith Olbermann Edition,” is by bmaz at emptywheel (4/8/09). Regards Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act lawsuit by EEF.

Roslyn Mazer to be ODNI Inspector General,” is by Steven Aftergood at Secrecy News (4/6/09).

IG Report Blasts the Director of National Intelligence,” is by Steven Aftergood at Secrecy News (4/2/09). Report: November 2008.

What the Scope of the IG Report on Warrantless Wiretapping Tells Us,” is by emptywheel (3/31/09).

President’s Intel Advisor Board Members All Resigned,” is by Steven Aftergood at Secrecy News (3/17/09).

Government Secrecy:

An emerging progressive consensus on Obama’s executive power and secrecy abuses,” is by Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com (4/13/09).

Courts Pay Attention to New FOIA Policy,” is by Steven Aftergood at Secrecy News (3/26/09).

A Test of the New FOIA Policy,” is by Steven Aftergood at Secrecy News (3/24/09).

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CIA Handy Historical References

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Do CIA Cables Show Doctors Monitoring Torture?,” is by Sherry Fink of ProPublica (5/28/09).

CIA, intel director locked in spy turf battle,” is by Pam Hess of the AP from Yahooo! News (5/27/09). To quote: “The nation’s two intelligence chiefs are locked in a turf battle over overseas posts, forcing National Security Adviser James L. Jones to mediate, according to current and former government officials. The jockeying between CIA Director Leon Panetta and National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair centers on Blair’s effort to choose his own representatives at U.S. embassies instead of relying only on CIA station chiefs.”

Why Did Tenet Create a False Record on the Day After He ‘Quit’,” is by emptywheel (5/27/09).

Has Consulting Firm For CIA Gone MIA?,” is by Sherry Fink of ProPublica (5/27/09). Regards the firm “founded by two former military psychologists who reportedly helped develop abusive interrogation techniques for the CIA and the U.S. military.”

The Role of the CIA Historical Review Panel,” is by Steven Aftergood of Secrecy News (5/11/09). To quote: “. . . an advisory group which is composed of academic historians and political scientists, provides the CIA with recommendations on its declassification policies and priorities.”

Did OLC Memos Prevent CIA Field from Objecting to Torture?,” is from Firedoglake (4/26/09).

Mr. Panetts: Call Off the Wrecking Ball,” is by Suzanne Ito at the ACLU Blog of Rights (4/15/09). Regards the closing of overseas CIA “black sites.”

Inside the CIA’s (Sort of) Secret Document Stash,” is by Mother Jones Magazine (4/3/09). Researchers must go to a physical location in Maryland to access 10 million declassified CIA documents.

CIA Updates Digital Archive, Restricts Access,” is by Steven Aftergood of Secrecy News (3/26/09). Though declassified, these documents are not available online.

CIA-Approved Psychiatrist Treats Cloak and Dagger Set’s Woes,” is by Jeff Stein at CQ’s Spy Talk (3/18/09).

My news and political blog is at South by Southwest.

Carol Gee – Online Universe is the all-in-one home page for my websites.

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State secrets roundup

This ACLU Blog of Rights post (6/5/09) elaborates on “the long-overdue State Secret Protection Act of 2009 (H.R. 984).” To quote further:

. . . now the tide is finally turning. In April, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s ruling on the Jeppesen case, noting, in Mr. Wizner’s words, that “the state secrets privilege should be applied to discrete pieces of evidence instead of entire cases.” And at yesterday’s hearing, most of the members and witnesses agreed with Mr. Nadler’s statement that “the Executive cannot be its own judge.”

. . . We fully agree with witness Asa Hutchinson’s assertion that the executive branch should “not be immune to checks and balances,” as well as Hon. Patricia Wald’s statement that this “legislation is long overdue.” The three branches of government are supposed to be co-equal, and Congress is completely justified in creating legislation that balances the Executive’s power.

President Jimmy Carter “disagrees with President Obama’s decision to block the release of photographs that depict U.S. use of torture and other harsh interrogation methods under the Bush administration.” The story is from the ACLU Blog of Rights (6/2/09).

The Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties subcommittee of the House Judiciary committee, chaired by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), held a hearing Thursday “to examine how to curb abuse of the privilege, while protecting true state secrets. . . Testifying at Nadler’s hearings will be Patricia Wald, a retired federal judge; Asa Hutchinson, the former GOP congressman from Arkansas; Ben Wizner of the ACLU; and Andrew Grossman of the Heritage Foundation.” The report comes from TPM Muckraker (6/1/09).

“President Obama ordered a review of government secrecy,” according to CQ Politics (5/28/09). To quote:

President Obama has ordered two reviews of government secrecy, one examining whether too much information is classified and another examining whether the system for protecting
other sensitive information needs to be streamlined.

He set a deadline of 90 days to complete the recommendations. National security adviser James L. Jones would lead the review of classified information, which would consider ideas such as establishing a center to conduct classification reviews and restoring the “presumption against classification” that was suspended by President George W. Bush .

The reviews would include recommendations on building a National Declassification Center, a
proposal Obama made on the campaign trail. Obama’s memo, released Wednesday, said the reviews are a reflection of an administration that “is committed to operating with an unprecedented level of openness.”

“Controlled unclassified info” policy is on the way. This post is by Steven Aftergood at Secrecy News (5/13/09). To quote:

A new government-wide policy on “controlled unclassified information”(CUI) is still more than a year away from implementation, but not because of any lack of attention or interest. To the contrary, it is the subject of rather intensive policy deliberation, officials say, and is not “languishing” as Secrecy News stated on May 11.

CUI refers generally to information that is restricted in some way other than by national security classification. Because such restrictions have taken many different forms and names — such as sensitive but unclassified, official use only, limited official use, and more than a hundred others — they have also become a disruptive barrier to communication and a source of confusion inside and outside of government.

Court rebuffs FBI censorship of manuscript, is by Steven Aftergood at Secrecy News (5/11/09). To quote:

A federal court last week rejected most of the objections raised by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to publication of a 500-page manuscript critical of the FBI counterterrorism program that was written by retired FBI Special Agent Robert G. Wright. The manuscript had been submitted for pre-publication review in October 2001.

Republicans press for greater disclosure,” is by Steven Aftergood from Secrecy News (5/7/09). To quote:

“Questions of secrecy and disclosure are increasingly prominent in congressional interactions with the executive branch, particularly on the part of Republican members of Congress.

House Republicans wrote (pdf) to Defense Secretary Gates this week to complain about what they called “a disturbing trend of restricting budget and inspection information within the Department of Defense.”

Various Resources is by Steven Aftergood at Secrecy News (3/26/09). He reports that,

A survey of the “most wanted” government documents that should be publicly available but are not was recently conducted by OpenTheGovernment.org and the Center for Democracy and Technology. They reported their findings in “Show Us the Data: Most Wanted Federal Documents” (pdf), March 2009.

“Where once we [the United States] were seen as the world’s leader in intellectual discourse and debate, we are now viewed as withdrawn and unconcerned with any views other than our own,” wrote Senator Richard Lugar in the introduction to a new Senate Foreign Relations
Committee report that advocates renewed engagement in public diplomacy and outreach to foreign audiences. See “U.S. Public Diplomacy — Time to Get Back in the Game” (pdf), February 13, 2009.

Blogs: My general purpose/southwest focus blog is at Southwest Progressive. My creative website is at Making Good Mondays. And Carol Gee – Online Universe is the all-in-one home page for all my websites.

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Rights to privacy

pedestrian shadows The Constitution, The Telcos and Truth-Telling is by Ann Brick at the ACLU Blog of Rights (6/4/09). This is an excellent summary of the history of ACLU lawsuits against telephone companies’ complicity with the Bush administration’s use of warrantless wiretaps. To quote:

These lawsuits were part of a larger group of lawsuits filed across the country, seeking to hold the phone companies accountable for their role in this massive invasion of their customers’ privacy. Eventually, all of those lawsuits were consolidated in federal district court in San Francisco before Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker. Yesterday, Judge Walker ruled that an immunity provision enacted by Congress last summer requires dismissal of all of the suits against the phone companies. And although we plan to appeal that decision, the ruling – if upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals – would give the phone companies a free pass for flouting both the law and the privacy rights of their customers.

But other phone companies – taking their cue from the Bush Administration – decided they were above the law. And when their outraged customers tried to hold them accountable for their actions, the phone companies and the Bush Administration turned to Congress for help. Last July, Congress caved, and as part of a set of amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, attempted to give the telecommunication companies amnesty for having broken the law. (You may recall that the ACLU is also challenging the constitutionality of other amendments included in the package, which vastly expand the power of the NSA to spy on our communications).

Civil liberties have become a central focus of the national conversation about the kind of country we want to be. Millions of Americans are looking for signals that restoring the Constitution is a priority among all branches of our government. We must be allowed to get at the truth about illegal eavesdropping. Letting the telephone companies off the hook contradicts a core premise of our democracy: no one is above the law. We can’t the turn the page on one of the darkest, starkest violations of freedom under the Bush Administration unless we are allowed to shine light on the facts.

The al-Haramain Case in the 9th Circuit Federal Court — Blogger”emptywheel” posted an important explanation of the most recent court decision news, June 3, 2009.  This post has useful references, including links to the judge’s order.  As emptywheel explored the decision further she wrote this (6/4/09) fascinating post exploring (Judge) “Vaugh Walker’s Chess Game: The Cases,” as well as an excellent related (6/6/09) post, “Vaughn Walker’s Chess Game: The New Rules.”

References: 1)  “Kenneth Bass on Amending FISA,” by Steven Aftergood at Secrecy News (5/18/09).   2)  By the same author and date, “FISA Surveillance Down, NSL Requests Up in 2008.”

Right To Privacy Headlines

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 20:  Sen. Dianne Feinstei...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Hey, President Obama and Senator Feinstein: Shut. It. Down.” The post comes from mcjoan at Daily Kos (4/16/09). Call is for closing down warrantless wiretapping program after recent revelations of interception of private e-mails and phone calls of Americans in recent months. Officials called it “unintentional overcollection.”

Not Seeing Storm Troopers, Not Scratching My Head is by emptywheel (3/6/09). Regards al-Haramain warrantless wiretapping lawsuit.

OLC Restores 4th Amendment after Hounding from Congress is by emptywheel (3/2/09). Atty. Gen Mukasey equivocates regarding whether 4th Amendment applies to domestic military operations under questioning from Sen. Diane Feinstein on April 10, 2008. Bradbury withdrew pertinent opinion six months later.

Retroactive Immunity for the Banksters, Too? is by emptywheel (3/2/09). Government has lots of access to your bank records.

Kicking in Our (Electronic) Doors comes from the ACLU Blog (2/27/09). Regards government reading or confiscating traveler laptops.

Blogs: My news and political blog is at South by Southwest. My general purpose/southwest focus blog is at Southwest Progressive. My creative blog is at Making Good Mondays. And Carol Gee – Online Universe is the all-in-one home page for my websites.

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