Foxes guarding the henhouse?

The 9/11 Commission recommended setting up an organization to help safeguard civil liberties. Sure enough the Bush administration has gone ahead and created a President’s Board on Safeguarding Americans’ Civil Liberties. Ignoring for the moment the issue that civil liberties should, constitutionally, be protected for everyone and not just US citizens, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the people who are being put in charge of safeguarding your freedoms.

In case you missed it…

Authorities have located weapons of mass destruction. Actual weapons of mass destruction, enough illegal chemical weapons to kill thousands of Americans. The weapons were located on American soil. For years, William Krar lived with his common-law wife Judith Bruey in New Hampshire. Krar first came to the attention of police in 1985, when he was arrested in New Hampshire for impersonating a police officer. In 1989, he started fighting back against the Federal government in the traditional New Hampshire style—he stopped paying taxes.

Attention gay Republicans

New York Times: Democrats and civil rights advocates condemned the Justice Department today for barring a gay pride event planned by department employees, and called on Attorney General John Ashcroft to reverse the decision. […] A group of several hundred gay and lesbian Justice Department employees, called DOJ Pride, had budgeted $600 to hold an awards ceremony on June 18 at the department’s Great Hall to celebrate Gay Pride Month. The group has held similar events at the department each of the last six years, members said, and Mr.

I am Spartacus

It was recently uncovered that Denver Police Department’s intelligence database was being used to track members of Amnesty International and other similar groups, on the grounds that they were “criminal extremists”. None of the people being tracked had any criminal convictions or arrests on their records. The tracking began before 9/11. Denver police blamed a secretary for the “mistake”. The “mistake” surfaced because Denver Police shared their database with neighboring cities, and someone with a conscience at one of the neighboring police departments leaked the documents to the press.

Throw something together

Yahoo news / AP: The Justice Department lifted a requirement Monday that the FBI ensure the accuracy and timeliness of information about criminals and crime victims before adding it to the country’s most comprehensive law enforcement database. The system, run by the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, includes data about terrorists, fugitives, warrants, people missing, gang members and stolen vehicles, guns or boats. So, no need to require that that be accurate.

PATRIOT II: No Rights Uncurbed

I hate to ruin everyone’s weekend, but the Justice Department is planning an even bigger, more sweeping sequel to the “PATRIOT” Act. Among the ‘improvements’: They want the right to be able to expatriate and deport US citizens who assist any organization they declare ‘terrorist’.

And so do you, and so do you, and…

A judge in Montana has ruled that suspects with Multiple Personality Disorder need to have their Miranda rights read separately to each personality. Still, it may not matter. A case before the Supreme Court concerns a man who was riding his bike through a field where police were questioning someone suspected of selling drugs. Police ordered the man, Oliviero Martinez, to stop. When one cop found Martinez had a small knife used for cutting strawberries in a sheath on his belt, he decided to wrestle him to the ground.

Reassurance

“When you carefully consider FOIA requests and decide to withhold records, in whole or in part, you can be assured that the Department of Justice will defend your decisions unless they lack a sound legal basis or present an unwarranted risk of adverse impact on the ability of other agencies to protect other important records.” —Attorney General John Ashcroft

The dead speak out in Microsoft’s favor

The LA Times reports that Microsoft lobbyists have been sending fake “grassroots” letters from people who are actually dead, begging the Justice Department to go easy on the poor monopolist.