Thursday, January 12, 2012

Big civil liberties concerns for the US

The mainstream press will be flooding the zone from now until November with news about the Presidential race.

Serious civil liberties currently facing the United States are not likely to get much attention in that coverage. But they remain. Here I'm providing some links and brief quotes about four of them: the corporatization of free speech; deporting American citizens; detention without due process; and, torture.

The corporatization of free speech: bmaz in The Corporatist Free Speech Superiority of the Roberts Court Emptywheel 01/08/2012 looks at the heavy corporate tilt in recent Supreme Court free speech rulings.

Brutal immigration policies that often sweep up American citizens in illegal deportations: Digby, State sanctioned kidnapping Hullabaloo 01/07/2012

Arrest and deterntion without due process: Daphne Eviatar provides and example of the problems those policies continue to cause in The Latest Skirmish in Afghanistan: Hate to Say We Told You So Huffington Post 01/08/2012.

Glenn Greenwald writes about the new law allowing the President to order indefinite detention of anyone including American citizens, a right both the Cheney-Bush and Obama Administration have claimed is within the President's authority even without Congressional authorization (The evil of indefinite detention and those wanting to de-prioritize it Salon 01/08/2012):

The Obama DOJ has repeatedly argued that the Boumediene ruling [requiring habeas corpus procedures for military detainees] should not apply to Bagram, where - the Obama administration insists - it has the power to imprison people with no due process, not even a habeas hearing; the Obama DOJ has succeeded in having that power enshrined. Obama has proposed a law to vest him with powers of "prolonged detention" to allow Terrorist suspects to be imprisoned with no trials. His plan for closing Guantanamo entailed the mere re-location of its indefinite detention system to U.S. soil, where dozens of detainees, at least, would continue to be imprisoned with no trial. And, of course, the President just signed into law the NDAA which contains - as the ACLU put it - "a sweeping worldwide indefinite detention provision," meaning - as Human Rights Watch put it - that "President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in US law." Those held at Guantanamo will continue to receive at least a habeas hearing, but those held in other American War on Terror prisons will not. [my emphasis]

Marcy Wheeler writes about the Guantánamo Gulag in Our New Teachers about Rule of Law 01/10/2012:

Gitmo has come to embody many things in this country over the last decade: Bush’s incompetence and criminality, our bigotry and inhumanity, and – as most would like to treat it now – a big political tussle between Obama and Republicans.

But at every turn – from the Bush Administration grasping claiming the piece of land existed outside the rule of law, to the corrupt legal process that created memos authorizing torture there, to Jim Haynes' insistence that "we can’t have acquittals," to the DC Circuit's continued efforts to make sure detainees get no meaningful review of their detention–Gitmo has been about shedding the rule of law. It has been about finding ways for America to defy the law even while maintaining the pretense we still uphold it. [my emphasis]

Torture: Digby has for years now been following the indiscriminate use of tasers by domestic police as torture weapons, which often has fatal results. As she points out in Dispatch from torture nation: execution by pepper spray Hullabaloo 01/07/2012, abuse of chemical weapons by police can also have the same consequences.

And we train them early to adapt to police-state conditions by putting cops in schools to rough up young evildoers: girls who won't pick up crumbs off the floor in the cafeteria, for instance, or spraying perfume on yourself at unapproved moments: Chris McGreal, The US schools with their own police Guardian 01/09/2012; Schul-Polizei.Wie US-Behörden Schüler kriminalisieren Frankfurter Rundschau 11.01.2012.

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