Civil Freedoms Under Threat

  • Getting Away With Torture: the Ill Treatment of Detainees

    Source: Truthout. Getting Away With Torture: the Ill Treatment of Detainees by: Stephen Rohde.
    In a new comprehensive 107-page report entitled “Getting Away with Torture: The Bush Administration and Mistreatment of Detainees,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) concludes that “there is sufficient basis for the U.S. government to order a broad criminal investigation into alleged crimes committed in connection with the torture and ill-treatment of detainees, the CIA secret detention program, and the rendition of detainees to torture” focusing on alleged criminal conduct by “former President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and CIA Director George Tenet.”

     
  • Olsen: Patriot Act May Allow Cell Phone Tracking

    Source: National Journal. Olsen: Patriot Act May Allow Cell Phone Tracking.
    The Patriot Act may have given the federal government powers to use cell phone data to track Americans inside the United States, the general counsel for the National Security Agency said. The Wall Street Journal quotes Matthew Olsen, who has been nominated to lead the National Counterterrorism Center, as saying it is possible. “There are certain circumstances where that authority may exist,” Olsen told the Senate Intelligence Committee at his confirmation hearing.

     
  • Nominee for counterterrorism chief is grilled on Guantanamo Bay detainee plans

    Source: Washington Post. Nominee for counterterrorism chief is grilled on Guantanamo Bay detainee plans by Peter Finn. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked Olsen, who is general counsel at the National Security Agency, a series of oblique questions about possible legal authorities derived from the USA Patriot Act, which governs various surveillance activities. He asked whether there are “significant secret interpretations” of the Patriot Act and amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that remain secret.

     
  • Appeals court won’t let former Guantanamo Bay detainees sue over ‘enemy combatant’ designation

    Source: Associated Press. Appeals court won’t let former Guantanamo Bay detainees sue over ‘enemy combatant’ designation.
    A federal appeal court won’t force the U.S. government to reconsider the enemy combatant designation of two former Guantanamo Bay detainees. The U.S Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld a decision throwing out the lawsuit of Nazul Gul and Adel Hamad. They were held for several years at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay before being released to Afghanistan and Sudan in 2007.

     
  • Lawyer: Cop scanner ‘crosses line’

    Source: Boston Herald. Lawyer: Cop scanner ‘crosses line’ by O’Ryan Johnson.
    Civil libertarians are raising the alarm over the state’s plans to create a Big Brother database that could map drivers’ whereabouts with police cruiser-mounted scanners that capture thousands of license plates per hour — storing that information indefinitely where local cops, staties, feds and prosecutors could access it as they choose.

     
  • Guild Attorneys Victorious in Internet Free Speech Case

    Source: National Lawyers Guild. Guild Attorneys Victorious in Internet Free Speech Case
    In a case with precedential value for internet free speech, National Lawyers Guild lawyers successfully defended several activists who received subpoenas from Mt. Hope Baptist Church demanding they turn over their internet account records. Federal judge Richard A. Jones ruled that technology collective Riseup.net did not have to turn over the records. Riseup.net provides online communication tools for individuals and groups working for social change.

     
  • New tool for police is good with faces

    Source: Boston Globe. New tool for police is good with faces by Stephanie Ebbert.
    Sheriff’s departments across Massachusetts are using facial recognition technology to build a database of every suspect they book, an electronic lineup that local police could soon tap remotely with a handheld device attached to a smartphone. That futuristic capability is enticing law enforcement authorities but worrying privacy rights lawyers who say that technology is outpacing policy that would protect privacy. A number of questions are unresolved, such as how long the images of suspects will be stored, whether they will be shared with the FBI, and what happens to the images of people who are cleared of charges.

     
  • Republicans Hold Up Vote on Extension of F.B.I. Term

    Source: New York Times. Republicans Hold Up Vote on Extension of F.B.I. Term by Charlie Savage.
    A group of lawmakers led by Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, objected on constitutional grounds to passing legislation that would have simply extended Mr. Mueller’s term. They said Mr. Obama should nominate him to a special new term, subject to Senate confirmation. While the White House believed that was unnecessary, it quietly agreed last week to use that approach, officials said.

     
  • Appeals court: TSA must rethink airport body scans

    Source: Privacy Inc. Appeals court: TSA must rethink airport body scans by Declan McCullagh.
    The Transportation Security Agency violated federal law when installing controversial full-body scanners in U.S. airports without following proper procedures, a federal appeals court ruled t. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., rejected arguments from the Obama administration that the TSA was exempt from laws requiring federal agencies to first notify the public and seek comments.

     
  • iPhone News: Are You Being Tracked By the Governement?

    Source: International Business Times. iPhone News: Are You Being Tracked By the Governement?
    “GPS technology is unquestionably a great tool, not just for Americans on the go and cellular companies offering services, but for law enforcement professionals looking to track suspects and catch criminals,” Sen. Wyden stated in June. “But all tools and tactics require rules and right now, when it comes to geolocation information, the rules aren’t clear.”