Dissent Is Patriotic
The Bill of Rights Defense Committee's e-mail newsletter
May 2007, Vol. 6, No. 4
In this issue:
- Feature: Blind Justice Demands Habeas Corpus
- Grassroots News: Eureka Springs Passes First Resolution in Arkansas, plus news from Eugene, OR, Lincoln County, OR, Portland, OR, Davis, CA, Orange County, NC
- Briefs: Opposition to REAL ID National Driver’s License Grows; DHS Abandons US-VISIT Exit Tracking System for International Visitors
- Events: The Forest for the Trees Showings in Colorado; Civil Rights for All Conference in California
- BORDC Briefs: BORDC Welcomes New East Region Organizer; BORDC is Hiring a Field Organizer
The BORDC needs your help. If your city or town has passed a civil liberties resolution, please help BORDC bring the post-9/11 civil liberties to new communities and states. Please contact info(at)bordc.org if you'd like to start a local BORDC or to help fund a BORDC field organizer. To contribute funds or stock online, go to http://www.bordc.org/donate.php, or mail a check or money order to:
8 Bridge St., Suite A
Northampton, MA 01060
Your purchase of buttons, bumper stickers and booklets also helps. See our catalogue to order materials.
Blind Justice Demands Habeas Corpus
When President Bush promises to bring terrorists to justice, the key question is: What does he mean by “terrorist” and “justice”? The current controversy over former CIA agent Luis Posada Carriles, who allegedly planned the 1976 bombing of a Cuban passenger jet that killed 73 people and is suspected of bombing several Cuban hotels, suggests that the political agenda of the executive branch, rather than any common standard, determines who is a terrorist.
On May 8, a federal judge dropped 2005 immigration charges against Carriles. No other charges have been filed against him in the U.S. A federal judge had ruled earlier that Carriles cannot be extradited to Venezuela to stand trial because he could be tortured there. So now this man, Carriles, widely considered an international terrorist, walks freely on the streets of Miami. Carriles’s treatment contrasts starkly to the U.S. government’s kidnapping and “rendition” of non-terrorists Maher Arar and Khaled el-Masri to countries that torture.
As the administration protects Carriles from facing terrorist charges, it has filed a motion to dismiss all Guantánamo detainee habeas cases on the grounds that, pursuant to the Military Commissions Act, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia “lacks jurisdiction over the detention-related claims of aliens held as enemy combatants at the United States Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba”.
Evidence that even one detainee at Guantánamo, much less hundreds, were wrongly held there should be sufficient proof for Congress that selective justice does not work and that it makes our country and the world a much more dangerous place. Government leaders around the world, including close allies and even members of the administration, have called on President Bush to close Guantánamo. Restoring habeas corpus for all detainees is a critical first step toward insuring that innocents are freed and real terrorists are punished.
Several House and Senate bills have been introduced that would restore habeas, undo much of the damage caused by the Military Commissions Act, or close the prison at Guantánamo Bay. Details and links are at www.bordc.org/threats/legislation.
What You Can Do. This June, organizations across the country will be holding events and legislative visits aimed at restoring habeas corpus and ending U.S. complicity in torture. On June 23, there will be a 24-hour vigil in Lafayette Park, near the White House, organized by Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC) International. Vigils will be held in other cities as well. On June 26, constituents will lobby their members of Congress in Washington, DC, and in district offices to restore habeas corpus and reverse the Military Commissions Act.
BORDC will post links on our website, www.bordc.org, to information on these and other June initiatives to restore habeas corpus and to outlaw torture. If you are planning to take part in these or other June activities to bring justice to all detainees and end U.S. complicity in torture, please let us know, so we can share information about your actions to inspire others. Please contact Hope Marston [hmarston (at) bordc (dot) org], if you live west of the Mississippi River, and Ben Grosscup [ben (at) bordc (dot) org], if you live east of the Mississippi River.
First Arkansas Resolution Passes
Eureka Springs, AR—The town of Eureka Springs is the first community in Arkansas to pass a Bill of Rights resolution, and it's the second community nationwide to pass a resolution that challenges National Security Letters (NSLs). The Arkansas town of 2300 people, known as the "hole in the Bible belt," unanimously passed Resolution 539 on May 14, making it the 411th resolution nationwide. Resolution 539 promises to examine each FBI-issued NSL received by the town, and challenge it in court, if town authorities believe it to be unlawful. Brighton, NY passed the first resolution with this forceful language on NSLs on March 28. Many councilors had long felt the PATRIOT Act needed to be curbed. Mary Jean Sell, the city clerk, said that other parts of Arkansas look to Eureka Springs as a political and social vanguard. To see a copy of the Eureka Springs Bill of Rights resolution, click here.
Caucus Tackles War, Civil Liberties, Immigration, and Workers’ Rights
Oregon—The statewide caucus of Oregon’s rural communities, organized by the Rural Organizing Project (ROP), was held April 28 in Corvallis. Hundreds of rural activists attended workshops and roundtable discussions, blending the war, civil liberties, immigration, and workers’ rights. BORDC organizer Hope Marston and ROP organizer Amy Dudley provided tips and tools to help groups convince their local governments to pass resolutions and ordinances affirming Bill of Rights protections and protection against discrimination and hate crimes. Tools from this workshop can be found here:
Tools for Community Organizing
BORDC’s Tools for Passing Resolutions
Brighton, NY Resolution (with language opposing National Security Letters)
ROP’s Workshop Talking Points
Center for Community Change’s Resources for Fighting Anti-Immigrant Ordinances
Center for Community Change’s Resources for Passing Pro-Immigrant Resources
Michael Dale, of the Northwest Workers Justice Project led a popular workshop called “Immigration Myth Busters,” unraveling many of the false ideas that lead to discrimination against and vilification of immigrant workers.
Rally at Hearing to Support Environmentalists Wrongfully Labeled Terrorists
Eugene, OR—The Civil Liberties Defense Center held a rally on Tuesday, May 15, at the new federal building in anticipation of prosecutors' remarks that CLDC’s clients, environmentalists accused of arson, are terrorists. Prosecutors were expected to argue in court that the individuals accused of eco-sabotage are terrorists who deserve extended sentences (20 years in addition to the 2-18-year sentences already required.). The conflation of eco-sabotage and terrorism allows the government to appear to be effective in their fight against terrorism by wrongfully labeling individuals they’re prosecuting, and kicking up their charges into a higher realm, serving only to ramp up terrorist fear in the U.S.
Veterans Kicked Out of Parade for Espousing Peace
Lincoln County, OR—Dissent is patriotic, but not to the “Loyalty Days” Parade organizers who told Veterans for Peace members at the May 5th parade that dissent doesn’t support the spirit of their community. Organizers told the vets it wasn’t enough to have been invited to march by the Lincoln County Democrats. Their bus, decked out with peace sentiments, was excluded from the parade, which exclusively featured pro-war messages. Parade organizer Patty Louisiana said (on video) that the veterans' message of peace “doesn’t support the spirit of our community.” Veterans for Peace maintains that dissent is patriotic, but that Lincoln County officials did not respect their dissent.
What You Can Do. Sign the “Dissent is Not Disloyalty Petition” in support of the Veterans for Peace.
Immigrant Leadership Program Seeking Applications
Portland, OR—The Center for Intercultural Organizing is initiating a year-long immigrant leadership program, free of charge, to identify and support immigrant leaders, strengthening and supporting their leadership in coalition with other immigrant leaders. The coursework includes introduction to community organizing, politics of oppression, power analysis, issue selection and campaign planning, cross-cultural community movement building, conflict resolution, base-building, and media strategy. Applications are due by Friday, May 18. www.interculturalorganizing.org/programs/pilot.html
Public Comment Solicitation on REAL ID Rules Orwellian
Davis, CA—The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) accepted public comments on REAL ID implementation from March 9 through May 8. Its ways of eliciting public input tended towards the Orwellian. In order to participate in a webcast of a public hearing on REAL ID, individuals had to provide personal information, such as name, phone number, and address. Anonymous viewing was not permitted. Originally DHS scheduled seven town meetings on REAL ID, but later canceled six, holding only one in Davis, CA. Natalie Wermeli of Davis was among those disturbed by the amount of information the government was collecting from participants. She told us, “If people showed up in person they had to give more than name and town they were from. Very creepy.” You can now watch the town hall webcast without giving personal information here. (See article titled "Opposition to REAL ID National Driver’s License Grows" below.)
Convention Decries Civil Liberties Violations
Orange County, NC—On April 21, the North Carolina Orange County Democratic Party Convention passed a series of resolutions. One resolution calls for ending United States sponsorship of torture and investigating Aero Contractors. The Aero firm assists the CIA in transporting detainees to secret torture sites throughout the world, and local groups have been vocal in demanding investigations of the firm. Another resolution took a stand against the Military Commissions Act. Margaret Misch of the Orange County Bill of Rights Defense Committee and North Carolina Stop Torture Now submitted the resolution from the floor of the convention. A third resolution called for establishing a policy on arrests for civil immigration violations.
Legislative Action to Investigate Aero Contractors
Orange County, NC—North Carolina Stop Torture Now is mobilizing people to contact their representatives by May 19 to support H.B. 1682, the "North Carolina No Place For Torture Act,” which was filed on April 18. The bill would strengthen North Carolina's ability to investigate Aero Contractors' involvement in kidnapping and torture with the CIA. (Click here for the wording and sponsors).
Expert Witness at Trial for Citizens Arrest Action
Orange County, NC—The eight people who were arrested on April 9 for attempting to deliver their own “arrest warrants” to three Aero Contractors pilots went on trial on May 10 in the Johnston County Courthouse in Smithfield, NC. Trevor Paglen, the UC-Berkeley military geographer who helped expose Aero Contractors' key role in the CIA rendition scandal, testified. Nearly 40 members and friends of North Carolina Stop Torture Now packed the Smithfield courtroom, some coming from a great distance. For recent stories in the local press:
convicted of trespassing: Activists say an appeal would give them
more of a voice against torture
May 11, 2007, by Marti Maguire, The News & Observer
say pilots complicit in torture
May 11, 2007, by Kevin Maurer, The Fayetteville Observer
Opposition to REAL ID National Driver’s License Grows
Nationwide, opposition to implementation of the REAL ID Act of 2005 continues to mount:
• The states of Washington and Montana have passed binding legislation against implementation of the Act.
• Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Colorado, Arkansas and Maine have passed resolutions expressing their opposition.
• More than 20 other state legislatures have introduced legislation or resolutions.
• More than 12,000 organizations and individuals, including BORDC, submitted comments on the REAL ID proposed rules to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by the May 8 deadline.
• Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) plans to introduce legislation to repeal the 2005 Act because of privacy concerns. This bill will be the fourth bill introduced to change the REAL ID Act. Click here for information on the three bills already introduced.
The DHS rules require states to comply with the Act by 2008. By 2013, those without the national ID would be prohibited from flights and federal buildings. Read more in this May 9th Washington Post article. Despite the widespread opposition, the Department of Homeland Security has said it will move forward with its plans.
DHS Abandons US-VISIT Exit Tracking System for International Visitors
As of Sunday, May 6, 2007, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has at least temporarily abandoned requiring non-citizen visitors to the United States to “biometrically check out at select airports and seaports.” Since 2003, DHS’s US-VISIT program has been tracking people’s international travel by digitally recording their fingerprints each time a person enters or leaves the country. In practice, the program has only given DHS a list of people who have not overstayed their visas along with a massive database of personal data on individual travel. Now, after scrapping the exit portion of the US-VISIT program (while maintaining entry tracking), DHS vows to publish yet a new regulation requiring the airline industry to take part in tracking people’s air travels upon exit.
According to a scathing GAO Report, as of January 31, 2007, almost $1.3 billion had been allocated for the entry and exit portions of the US-VISIT program. The Unisys Corporation got a large part of that contract with the Transportation Security Administration. How this data tracking system will improve the safety of the public remains in doubt, but how it will enrich the companies producing new surveillance technologies is not. Click here for the DHS press release.
The Forest for the Trees Showings, Colorado
In June, the film The Forest for the Trees, reviewed in BORDC’s April newsletter, will be shown in three cities. The film documents the trial that vindicated forest activist Judi Bari, squarely blaming the FBI for not fully investigating a 1990 car-bomb attack that injured Bari and her passenger, Darryl Cherney. The trial, said Judi, was “not about me or Darryl or about Earth First!. It was about the right of all activists to work for social change.”
Denver Showing: Thursday, June 7 at 7:00 PM. The Mercury Café, 22nd and California St. in Denver. Sponsored by ArgusFest Films.
Fort Collins Showing: Friday, June 8th, 7:00 PM. Basement of Mugs Coffee Lounge, 251 South College, the NW corner of College and Olive, Ft. Collins. Sponsored by Strength Through Peace. (970) 419-8944 or distaso (at) frii (dot) com.
Boulder Showing: Saturday, June 9th, 7:00 PM. Unity Church, corner of Folsom and Valmont, Boulder. Sponsored by Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center.
Suggested Donation: $10 - $20. No one will be turned away due to lack of funds. The Colorado Chapter of the ACLU and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee are also co-sponsors of these events.
Civil Rights for All Conference, June 2, Fremont, CA
Civil Rights for All, the organization that spearheaded the coalition of groups throughout California to work for the state resolution in 2005 and 2006, is holding its annual conference on June 2 in Fremont. More details will be available through contacting BORDC’s west region organizer, Hope Marston: hmarston (at) bordc (dot) org.
Comedy Night Addresses Racial Profiling
In its fundraiser on Friday, May 18, Center for Intercultural Organizing in Portland, OR, is featuring stand-up comedy pointed at stereotypes and profiling that has increased since 9/11. The entertainment includes comedy skits by Hari Kondabolu, an organizer for the Rights Working Group (RWG) in Seattle. Hari also offers trainings for activists interested in holding community discussions designed to widen and deepen community involvement in the RWG's Liberty and Justice campaign. For more information about the training, contact Hope Marston: hmarston (at) bordc (dot) org.
BORDC Welcomes New East Region Organizer
The BORDC is pleased to announce that Ben Grosscup has joined our staff as East Region Organizer. Ben replaces Mohamed Elgadi.
Before Ben joined the national BORDC staff, he worked for the Northeast Organic Farming Association, Massachusetts Chapter to assist farmers and consumers around Massachusett in passing town resolutions on and promoting awareness of agriculture and ecology issues. Ben brings experience in community organizing, media relations, and web-based media.
BORDC bids farewell to Mohamed Elgadi. We wish him the best of luck in his endeavors.
BORDC is hiring a Field Organizer
The Bill of Rights Defense Committee seeks a Field Organizer who will organize and assist community-based groups within South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida to address post-9/11 assaults on civil liberties. Click here to view job description and application process. Deadline Monday, May 21.
Editor: Nancy Talanian, Director
Managing Editor: Susan Heitker, Administrator
Hope Marston, West Region Organizer
Ben Grosscup, East Region Organizer
Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Inc.
8 Bridge St., Suite A
Northampton, MA 01060