Civil Freedoms Under Threat

  • NSA whistleblowers seek $100 million for their troubles

    Source: U.S. News. Five former government officials quietly filed a federal lawsuit last week seeking more than $100 million for alleged retaliation after blowing the whistle on what they viewed as wasteful spending and disregard for civil liberties at the National Security Agency. The targets of the suit are the agencies and authorities they hold responsible for a years-long ordeal during which they were threatened with prison time and had their homes raided and property confiscated. “The defendants falsely and fraudulently used the pretense of tracking… leaks to attack, harass, and intimidate the plaintiffs,” the lawsuit charges, claiming violations of the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, intentional infliction of emotional distress and malicious prosecution.

  • Police secretly track cellphones to solve routine crimes

    Source: USA Today. In one case after another, USA TODAY found police in Baltimore and other cities used the phone tracker, commonly known as a stingray, to locate the perpetrators of routine street crimes and frequently concealed that fact from the suspects, their lawyers and even judges. In the process, they quietly transformed a form of surveillance billed as a tool to hunt terrorists and kidnappers into a staple of everyday policing.

  • In effort to stifle dissent, St. Louis County charges at least 100 protesters one year later

    Source: National Lawyers Guild. In a surprise move, just before the statute of limitations was about to expire, St. Louis County Counselor Peter Krane filed charges last week against at least 100 people who were arrested a year ago while peacefully protesting the murder of Michael Brown outside of the Ferguson Police Department. The charges filed against scores of Ferguson protesters from 2014 came as people took to the streets last week to commemorate the life of Michael Brown and his murder by white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. More than 150 arrests were made at recent protests as the Black Lives Matter movement continued to call attention to the injustices of the legal system. Police also used chemical weapons and excessive force against peaceful protesters, indicating no change in law enforcement’s brutal crowd control tactics. “The County of St. Louis is grasping at straws to find ways to stifle ongoing protests in Ferguson,” said National Lawyers Guild Executive Director Pooja Gehi.

  • Why was an FBI joint terrorism task force tracking a Black Lives matter protest?

    Source: The Intercept. Members of an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force tracked the time and location of a Black Lives Matter protest last December at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, email obtained by The Intercept shows. The FBI has been criticized in the recent past for its actions regarding domestic advocacy groups. A 2010 report by the Department of Justice Inspector General found the FBI opened investigations connected to organizations such as Greenpeace and the Catholic Worker movement that classified possible “trespassing or vandalism” as domestic terrorism cases.

  • The everyday terror of Islamophobia in America

    Source: Fusion. Islamophobia, in some ways, has become the status quo in America—an anti-Muslim white noise. In December, 15-year-old Abdisamad Sheikh-Hussein was killed after being hit by an SUV outside a Kansas City mosque. In February, an envelope with three hate messages—“we will burn all of you,” “leave our country,” “we hate you”—was left at the Darul Arqum Islamic Center in Ames, Iowa. And in May, dozens of armed bikers held an anti-Muslim rally outside a mosque in Phoenix. Since the 9/11 attacks, yearly Islamophobic hate crimes have been consistently five times higher than the pre-terror average. The Justice Department estimates that two out of three potential hate crimes aren’t even reported because because victims fear police won’t help.

  • Florida Imam who claimed to be covert government operative is accused of terrorism

    Source: The Intercept. On August 23, 2011, 46-year-old Marcus Dwayne Robertson, the imam of an Orlando, Florida mosque, was arrested, imprisoned and charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He pleaded guilty. Almost four years after his initial arrest, Robertson, also known as “Abu Taubah,” is still behind bars awaiting sentencing for that crime, as well as for a separate count of conspiracy to file a fraudulent tax refund claim. He could be released on time served based on those charges, but the U.S. government is now seeking a “terrorism enhancement” that could result in him serving an additional 20 years in prison. Part of what makes the case unusual is that Robertson has never actually been charged with planning or committing any terrorist acts. Instead, prosecutors are trying to use his possession of Islamic literature as proof of his terrorist intent. In a 2012 lawsuit Robertson filed from jail — ultimately dismissed on grounds of being improperly filed — Robertson claimed to have been targeted by the government for malicious prosecution after refusing to conduct an overseas operation requested by the CIA. the conditions under which Robertson has been held in jail have also been a source of controversy. According to his attorney, for roughly two years between 2012 until 2014, Robertson was held in solitary confinement. During this time, he was shackled at all times whether inside or outside his cell, to the point where the skin around his ankles had rubbed off.

  • A Message from Dr. Sami Al-Arian on the eve of the Blessed Month

    A Message from Dr. Sami Al-Arian on the eve of the Blessed Month Dear Friends: Assalamu Alaikum -Peace be with you This Ramadan in Istanbul is very special to me, a blessing that I have not felt for a over dozen years, to be able to live, think, and worship […]

  • Ramadan Letter Writing Campaign Guide

    Ramadan Letter Writing Campaign Guide Hundreds of people across the country and from abroad have committed to writing again and bring smiles to prisoners this Ramadan —from Atlanta and Athens, GA; East Lansing, MI; Dallas, TX; Albany, NY; Decorah, IA; Birmingham, AL; Chicago, IL; Minneapolis, MN; New York City; Union […]

  • According to the government, clearing your browser history is a felony

    Source: Techdirt. One of the stipulations of Sarbanes-Oxley is the preservation of evidence. Failing to do so, or purposefully destroying records, can result in felony criminal charges. This, unfortunately, doesn’t even have to be willful destruction. The law forbids the destruction of evidence, regardless of personal knowledge of ongoing investigations, or even if no investigation has even commenced. Under this law — and given the prevailing law enforcement/prosecutorial mindset — US citizens are almost expected to hold onto everything, just in case. The government feels it has the right to dig into your hard drive, browser history, etc. at whatever point it opens an investigation. And if you’ve “destroyed” any data prior to the examination of your electronic devices, you could face felony charges for performing simple computer maintenance.

  • Underage ‘enemies’ of the US: Omar Khadr and the juveniles of Guantánamo

    Source: AlJazeera America. Although Omar Khadr is the only person in modern history to have been charged with a war crime for an act he is said to have committed as a juvenile, he was hardly the only child in Guantánamo. An Al Jazeera examination of the dates of birth and dates of detention of prisoners at the facility found that at least 23 were under the age of 18 when first detained. But the number could be as high as 33, because in some cases those dates are not known.