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Civil Liberties

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There are many signs of American collapse. One of the most scary is the fact that the American Civil Liberties Union no longer knows what are the civil liberties it purports to defend. Identity Politics has transformed civil rights into privileges for victim groups. Yesterday (February 22, 2018) I received a 50-state survey from the... Read More
When the US Supreme Court consisted of civil libertarians such as William Douglas, William Brennan, and Thurgood Marshall, Republicans argued that the Supreme Court was coddling criminals and inventing rights. To prevent legislation from the bench, it was necessary, Republicans said, to elect Republican presidents who would appoint a different court that would respect the... Read More
Yesterday I posted at this URL — https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2018/01/09/democracy-america-oxymoron/ — a news report and two videos of a white female school teacher being removed and brutalized by a black police officer from a public meeting of school teachers with the school board while the school teacher was engaged according to the rules in normal conversation with... Read More
What if the federal government captures in real time the contents of every telephone call, email and text message and all the fiber-optic data generated by every person and entity in the United States 24/7/365? What if this mass surveillance was never authorized by any federal law? What if this mass surveillance has come about... Read More
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Made in Israel?
The horrific execution by police of an Australian woman in her pajamas that took place last week in Minneapolis has again produced a torrent of criticism over killings initiated by law enforcement in situations in which the officers are in no way threatened. America has always been a violent place relative to much of the... Read More
He had lugged the 50 lb. bag of Milorganite into the garden in order to discover, as on many prior occasions, that he had nothing with which to open it. He blamed this on the war on terror and the TSA. As a youth he, as did every boy, had a pocket knife. Always. It... Read More
robertelee
The man was perceptive. Amalgamation of the states under a central government has led to exactly the effects foreseen by General Lee. In, say, 1950, to an appreciable though imperfect extent America resembled a confederacy. Different regions of the America had little contact with each other, and almost no influence over one another. The federal... Read More
Given the unbelievable amount of preposterous neo-McCarthyite hysteria that the corporate-owned media has been pumping out in a last-ditch effort to convince the public that Donald Trump is a Russian operative, you might have missed the revolting videoof a TSA officer at the Dallas Forth Worth Airport extensively groping a 13 year-old boy as his... Read More
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The danger lies in what might be coming next
The WikiLeaks exposure of thousands of documents relating to the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) hacking program, which was expanded dramatically under President Barack Obama between 2013 and 2016, has created something of a panic in the users of cell phones, online computers and even for smart television viewers. The documents describe “more than a thousand... Read More
The Lesson Not Drawn From Post-9/11 Government Overreach
One vivid image of the historical relationship between government power and individual liberties in America has long been the swing of the pendulum. It catches the nature of the perpetually changing balance between the two. When it comes to terrorism and civil liberties after 9/11, that pendulum swung strongly toward the power side of the... Read More
This Is How They Protect Us! The Latest TSA Horror “These people think they are God. They think they can do anything they want.” A partially blind, partially deaf young woman returning home from treatment for a brain tumor was brutally smashed to the ground by goon tug TSA “security” while her mother, a nurse,... Read More
The tragedy in Paris last Friday has regrettably been employed as a catalyst for renewed calls by governments in western Europe and even in the United States for more curtailment of personal liberties. Those who accept the trade of liberty for safety have argued in favor of less liberty. They want government to have more... Read More
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Last week, Retired General Wesley Clark, who was NATO commander during the US bombing of Serbia, proposed that “disloyal Americans” be sent to internment camps for the “duration of the conflict.” Discussing the recent military base shootings in Chattanooga, TN, in which five US service members were killed, Clark recalled the internment of American citizens... Read More
Once-defeated domestic anti-terrorism legislation is being quietly revived in Congress this week
Back in October 2007, the House of Representatives passed The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act by an overwhelming 405 to 6 vote. The bill would have created and empowered a Congressional commission to hold hearings nationwide, conduct investigations, and propose new legislation to deal with the threat posed by various groups designated as... Read More
The tragedy of a mass murder in Charleston, S.C., last week, obviously motivated by racial hatred, has raised anew the issue of the lawfulness of the State expressing an opinion by flying a Confederate flag at the Statehouse, and the constitutionality of the use of the First Amendment to protect hate speech and hate groups.... Read More
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The military and police have become two sides of the same coin
Inevitably the debate over issues that relate to both national security and domestic law enforcement often become mired down in wrangling over legal or constitutional niceties, which the public has difficulty in following as it fixates instead on the latest twist in the Bruce Jenner saga. That means that the punditry and media concentrate on... Read More
In their continuous efforts to create the impression that the government is doing something to keep Americans safe, politicians in Washington have misled and lied to the public. They have violated their oaths to uphold the Constitution. They have created a false sense of security. And they have dispatched and re-dispatched 60,000 federal agents to... Read More
Apologists for the National Security Agency (NSA) point to the arrest of David Coleman Headley as an example of how warrantless mass surveillance is necessary to catch terrorists. Headley played a major role in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack that killed 166 people. While few would argue that bringing someone like Headley to justice is... Read More
Does the FBI manifest fidelity, bravery and integrity, or does it cut constitutional corners in order to incriminate? Can the FBI cut the cable television lines to your house and then show up pretending to be the cable guy and install listening devices? Can FBI agents and technicians testify falsely and cause the innocent to... Read More
John W. Whitehead is a constitutional attorney. As head of the Rutherford Institute he is actively involved in defending our civil liberties. Being actively involved in legal cases, he experiences first hand the transformation of law from a shield of the American people into a weapon in the hands of the government. American civil liberty... Read More
Machine Guns, MRAPs, Surveillance, Drones, Permanent War, and a Permanent Election Campaign
I never fail to be amazed -- and that’s undoubtedly my failing. I mean, if you retain a capacity for wonder you can still be awed by a sunset, but should you really be shocked that the sun is once again sinking in the West? Maybe not. The occasion for such reflections: machine guns in... Read More
Convicted under the kangaroo court conditions of the Espionage Act, Jeffrey Sterling never had a chance
The Obama administration is gloating over the recent conviction of Jeffrey Sterling in an Alexandria, Va. federal court for allegedly leaking details of a secret government program called Operation Merlin that was intended to damage Iran’s nuclear program. Attorney General Eric Holder described the verdict as “…a just and appropriate outcome. The defendant’s unauthorized disclosures... Read More
Anyone paying attention knows that 9/11 has been used to create a police/warfare state. Years ago NSA official William Binney warned Americans about the universal spying by the National Security Agency, to little effect. Recently Edward Snowden proved the all-inclusive NSA spying by releasing spy documents, enough of which have been made available by Glenn... Read More
While the Western world was watching and grieving over the slaughter in Paris last week, and my colleagues in the media were fomenting a meaningless debate about whether President Obama should have gone to Paris to participate in a televised parade, the feds took advantage of that diversion to reveal even more incursions into our... Read More
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A Shadow Form of National ID
When Wiley Gill opened up, no one was there. Suddenly, two police officers appeared, their guns drawn, yelling, “Chico Police Department.” “I had tunnel vision,” Gill said, “The only thing I could see was their guns.” After telling him to step outside with his hands in the air, the officers lowered their guns and explained.... Read More
In the years following the adoption of the Constitution, before he was Secretary of State under President Thomas Jefferson and then president himself, James Madison, who wrote the Constitution, was a member of the House of Representatives. During that period of his life, he gave illuminating speeches and wrote elegant essays and letters about human... Read More
Earlier this week, FBI Director James Comey gave an interview to "60 Minutes" during which he revealed a flawed understanding of personal freedom. He rightly distinguished what FBI agents do in their investigations of federal crimes from what the NSA does in its intelligence gathering, when the two federal agencies are looking for non-public data.... Read More
While the political commentators in the nation's capital are wrapped up in the debate over what to do about ISIS, and as one third of the Senate and nearly all members of the House campaign for re-election, the president's spies continue to capture massive amounts of personal information about hundreds of millions of us and... Read More
At the root of the chaos in the Middle East and here at home are governments that respect no limits on their exercise of power. Public officials -- who are supposed to be our public servants -- routinely behave as if they are our masters. They reject the confines of the Constitution, they don't believe... Read More
America’s attention recently turned away from the violence in Iraq and Gaza toward the violence in Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting of Michael Brown. While all the facts surrounding the shooing have yet to come to light, the shock of seeing police using tear gas (a substance banned in warfare), and other military-style weapons against... Read More
Law & Order Conservatives continue to shill for police as goon thugs continue to violate constitutional protections and abuse the public: http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/crime-courts/henderson-family-sues-police-breaking-their-homes http://www.campaignforliberty.org/national-blog/think-third-amendment-irrelevant/ Gullible Americans have been trained to be fearful of crime, blacks, Muslims, terrorists, “domestic extremists,” and now Russia. These fears result in the public accepting illegal, unconstitutional, and immoral actions by police... Read More
Habersham County, Georgia, the jurisdiction that allowed intentionally or through negligence a SWAT team to break into a home with violent force in the middle of the night and throw a stun grenade into a baby’s face sending him to a hospital for weeks where he was in life support, has ruled that it would... Read More
Think of it as a different kind of blowback. Even when you fight wars in countries thousands of miles distant, they still have an eerie way of making the long trip home. Take the latest news from Bergen County, New Jersey, one of the richest counties in the country. Its sheriff’s department is getting two... Read More
How the Excessive Militarization of the Police is Turning Cops Into Counterinsurgents
Jason Westcott was afraid. One night last fall, he discovered via Facebook that a friend of a friend was planning with some co-conspirators to break in to his home. They were intent on stealing Wescott's handgun and a couple of TV sets. According to the Facebook message, the suspect was planning on “burning” Westcott, who... Read More
The Rise to Power of the National Security State
As every schoolchild knows, there are three check-and-balance branches of the U.S. government: the executive, Congress, and the judiciary. That’s bedrock Americanism and the most basic high school civics material. Only one problem: it’s just not so. During the Cold War years and far more strikingly in the twenty-first century, the U.S. government has evolved.... Read More
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Drone-Killing the Fifth Amendment
You can't get more serious about protecting the people from their government than the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, specifically in its most critical clause: "No person shall be... deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." In 2011, the White House ordered the drone-killing of American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki without trial.... Read More
What a world we’re in. Thanks to smartphones, iPads, and the like, everyone is now a photographer, but it turns out that, in the public landscape, there’s ever less to photograph. So here are a few tips for living more comfortably in a photographically redacted version of our post-9/11 world. Even if you’re a professional... Read More
"Chilling" is the word lawyers use to describe governmental behavior that does not directly interfere with constitutionally protected freedoms, but rather tends to deter folks from exercising them. Classic examples of "chilling" occurred in the 1970s, when FBI agents and U.S. Army soldiers, in business suits with badges displayed or in full uniform, showed up... Read More
You're not in the United States. Oh sure, look around at the fog lifting over the New England countryside or the diamond deserts of Arizona, but this land isn't your land, not anymore. It’s a place controlled by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and your constitutional rights do not apply on their territory. CBP... Read More
"Stop Stepping on the Pictures"
Shena Gutierrez was already cuffed and in an inspection room in Nogales, Arizona, when the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent grabbed her purse, opened it, and dumped its contents onto the floor right in front of her. There couldn’t be a sharper image of the Bill of Rights rollback we are experiencing in the... Read More
After a brief holiday last week, I returned to some heavy reading courtesy of the federal government. Some of the materials that I read were gratifying, and one was terrifying. In one week, the Supreme Court told the police that if they want to examine the contents of our cellphones, whether at traffic stops or... Read More
This week's unanimous Supreme Court decision affirming a robust Fourth Amendment protection for cellphone data is an enormously important victory for privacy rights in the digital age. It is also a reminder that support as well as opposition to civil liberty these days can come from unexpected quarters. Or maybe it is no longer much... Read More
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Taking Down the First Amendment in Post-Constitutional America
America has entered its third great era: the post-constitutional one. In the first, in the colonial years, a unitary executive, the King of England, ruled without checks and balances, allowing no freedom of speech, due process, or privacy when it came to protecting his power. In the second, the principles of the Enlightenment and an... Read More
Here’s what passes for good news when it comes to a free press these days: two weeks ago, the Supreme Court refused without comment to hear a case involving New York Times reporter James Risen. It concerned his unwillingness to testify before a grand jury under subpoena and reveal a confidential source of information in... Read More
On the same weekend that the Secretary of Veterans Affairs resigned amidst the scandal of veterans dying before the government's doctors could treat them in government hospitals, on the heels of another revelation of NSA unconstitutional spying in which federal agents have been seizing the digital images of our loved ones and friends that have... Read More
Cecily McMillan is an Occupy protester who was seized from behind by a goon thug cop–a goon thug with a long record of abuse of authority–by her boobs. One was badly bruised. Cecily McMillan’s elbow reflexively and instinctively came up, and Cecily was arrested for assaulting a goon thug. The goon thug was not arrested... Read More
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Rahinah Ibrahim is a slight Malaysian woman who attended Stanford University on a U.S. student visa, majoring in architecture. She was not a political person. Despite this, as part of a post-9/11 sweep directed against Muslims, she was investigated by the FBI. In 2004, while she was still in the U.S. but unbeknownst to her,... Read More
Except for the definition and mechanism of proving treason, no area of the Constitution addressing the rights of all persons when the government is pursuing them is more specific than the Fourth Amendment. The linchpin of that specificity is the requirement that the government demonstrate probable cause to a judge as a precondition to the... Read More
Last week, a little noticed clash took place on Capitol Hill involving the fundamental values underlying the First Amendment. The issue was the lawfulness of publishing the secrets that were given to reporters by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden. The disputants were Cong. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., and FBI Director James Comey. Rogers... Read More
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10 NSA Myths Debunked
The debate Edward Snowden envisioned when he revealed the extent of National Security Agency (NSA) spying on Americans has taken a bad turn. Instead of a careful examination of what the NSA does, the legality of its actions, what risks it takes for what gains, and how effective the agency has been in its stated... Read More
Category Classics
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
While other top brass played press agents for the administration’s war, William Odom told the truth about...
Which superpower is more threatened by its “extractive elites”?