There are no words for the disgusting policies of the Trump regime but this one really will make you stomach turn: In November 2018, Scott Lloyd was removed from his post at the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) after an ACLU lawsuit revealed he was reportedly mishandling abortion requests from migrant teenagers. Elite Daily reached …
Mar 18 2019
Apr 27 2013
Idaho’s transportation department has made the surprising decision (because this is, after all, Idaho) to amend its policy on driver’s licenses to allow transgender people to change the sex designation on their licenses without confirmation from a surgeon that they have had sex reassignment surgery.
The ACLU of Idaho had expressed concern in support of two transgender Idaho residents who had changed the sex designation to match their gender identities only to have the state turn around and cancel their licenses when it was realized that proof of surgery had not been provided. ACLU of Idaho Executive Director Monica Hopkins said the state “did the right thing in updating its policy.”
From our standpoint, [the] surgical reassignment is not necessary to operate a motor vehicle on the highway.
Feb 17 2013
I think the Obama administration has lost its collective mind and thinks that we are all too stupid to notice, but this is beyond absurd.
Obama DOJ again refuses to tell a court whether CIA drone program even exists
by Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian
As the nation spent the week debating the CIA assassination program, Obama lawyers exploit secrecy to shield it from all review
It is not news that the US government systematically abuses its secrecy powers to shield its actions from public scrutiny, democratic accountability, and judicial review. But sometimes that abuse is so extreme, so glaring, that it is worth taking note of, as it reveals its purported concern over national security to be a complete sham.
Such is the case with the Obama DOJ’s behavior in the lawsuit brought by the ACLU (pdf) against the CIA to compel a response to the ACLU’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request about Obama’s CIA assassination program. That FOIA request seeks nothing sensitive, but rather only the most basic and benign information about the “targeted killing” program: such as “the putative legal basis for carrying out targeted killings; any restrictions on those who may be targeted; any civilian casualties; any geographic limits on the program; the number of targeted killings that the agency has carried out.”
Everyone in the world knows that the CIA has a targeted killing program whereby it uses drones to bomb and shoot missiles at those it wants dead, including US citizens. This is all openly discussed in every media outlet.
Key Obama officials, including the president himself, not only make selective disclosures about this program but openly boast about its alleged successes. Leon Panetta, then the CIA Director, publicly said all the way back in 2009 when asked about the CIA drone program: “I think it does suffice to say that these operations have been very effective because they have been very precise.” In 2010, Panetta, speaking to the Washington Post, hailed the CIA drone program in Pakistan as “the most aggressive operation that CIA has been involved in in our history”. This is just a partial sample of Obama official boasts about this very program (for more, see pages 15 to 28 here).
Despite all that, the Obama DOJ from the start has refused not only to provide the requested documents about the CIA drone program, but they refuse to say whether such documents even exist. They do so by insisting that whether there even exists such a thing as a “CIA drone program” is itself classified, and therefore, they can neither admit nor deny whether they possess any of the documents sought by the FOIA request: “the very fact of the existence or nonexistence of such documents is itself classified,” repeats the Obama DOJ over and over like some hypnotic Kafkaesque mantra.
Obama’s Reverse Imaginary Friend, the Assassination Robot
bt Marcy Wheeler, emptywheel
The Obama Administration is getting more and more like that crazy old man in the park talking to an imaginary friend. Only it works in reverse. It sends out real people to engage in hours of conversations with other real people about a real topic and then pretends both were pretend.
It sends John Brennan to the Senate for 3.5 hours where he has conversations about drones over and over with people, never once claiming not to understand what they mean when they discuss drones and/or targeted killing. [..]
And yet in spite of the fact that Brennan talks about lethal strikes over and over, the government maintains (pdf) that none of these conversations – none of these mentions of lethal strikes – amounts to an admission that the government is, in fact, conducting lethal strikes.
Plaintiffs also cite the transcript of the confirmation hearing of John Brennan, the nominee for Director of Central Intelligence. They assert that “the nominee . . . and members of the committee extensively discussed various aspects of the CIA’s targeted killing program . . . .” However, plaintiffs identify no statement in which Mr. Brennan allegedly confirms purported CIA involvement in the use of unmanned aerial vehicles for “targeted killing.” Rather, plaintiffs cite instances in which members of Congress mentioned “targeted killing,” and general discussions of “targeted killing” that do not address the involvement of any particular agency.
Well, fine. If John Brennan believes these to be imaginary conversations with an imaginary oversight committee, then it’s clear he is mentally ill-equipped to deal with the stress of running the CIA. [..]
What’s most interesting, however, is that this apparently batshit crazy man talking to ghosts, John Brennan, is going to have to deal with a woman, Dianne Feinstein, who said this, as one of his primary overseers.
FEINSTEIN: I have been calling and others have been calling the rank – the vice chairman and I on the use of target – for increased transparency on the use of targeted force for over a year, including the circumstances in which such force is directed against U.S. citizens and noncitizens alike.
I’ve also been attempting to speak publicly about the very low number of civilian casualties that result from such strikes. I have been limited in my ability to do so. But for the past several years, this committee has done significant oversight of the government’s conduct of targeted strikes and the figures we have obtained from the executive branch which we have done our utmost to verify, confirm that the number of civilian casualties that have resulted from such strikes each year has typically been in the single digits. When I asked to give out the actual numbers, I’m told, “you can’t”, and I say, “why not?” “Because it’s classified. It’s a covert program. For the public, it doesn’t exist.” Well, I think rationale, Mr. Brennan, is long gone and I’m going to talk to you and my questions a little bit about that because I think it’s very important that we share this data with people.
This apparently batshit crazy person (according to the Administration, not me) is telling the Chair of the Committee that oversees the CIA that she’s delusional, the programs she’s talking about don’t exist.
There’s a lot of crazy old people talking on benches in DC, I guess.
And what abou those seven memos that the Senate Intelligence Committee requested before they vote on Brennan’s confirmation are imaginary, too?
What is even more incongruous is that Tea Party crazy Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul asked some very serious questions in two letters that no one else asked
Do you believe that the president has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil? What about the use of lethal force against a non-U.S. person on U.S. soil? Do you believe that the prohibition on CIA participation in domestic law enforcement, first established by the National Security Act of 1947, would apply to the use of lethal force, especially lethal force directed at an individual on a targeting list, if a U.S. citizen on a targeting list was found to be operating on U.S. soil? What if the individual on the targeting list was a non-U.S. person but found to be operating on U.S. soil? Do you consider such an operation to be domestic law enforcement, or would it only be subject to the president’s wartime powers? Do you believe that the Posse Comitatus Act, or any other prohibition on the use of the military in domestic law enforcement, would prohibit the use of military hardware and/or personnel in pursuing terrorism suspects-especially those on a targeting list-found to be operating on U.S. soil? If not, would you support the use of such assets in pursuit of either U.S. citizen or non-U.S. persons on U.S. soil suspected of terrorist activity? What role did you play in approving the drone strike that led to the death of the underage, U.S. citizen son of Anwar al-Awlaki? Unlike his father, he had not renounced his U.S. citizenship. Was the younger al-Awlaki the intended target of the U.S. drone strike which took his life? Further, do you reject the subsequent claim, apparently originating from anonymous U.S. government sources, that the young man had actually been a “military age male” of 20 years or more of age, something that was later proven false by the release of his birth certificate? Is the U.S. drone strike strategy exclusively focused on targeting al Qaeda, or is it also conducting counterinsurgency operations against militants seeking to further undermine their government, such as in Yemen? Do you support the Attorney General’s 2012 guidance to the NCTC that it may deliberately collect, store, and “continually assess” massive amounts of data on all U.S. citizens for potential correlations to terrorism, even if the U.S. citizens targeted have no known ties to terrorism?
And you thought Bush was stupid? This is too surreal.
May 26 2012
The ACLU and the National Center for Transgender Equality have joined together to write a letter to the Social Security Administration expressing concern over the lack of action by the SSA on policy matters important to transpeople.
Areas of concern addressed in the letter include the need for an updated policy for changing information (eg. name, gender) on SSA records, revision of guidance regarding marriages involving a transgender spouse to accurately reflect state and federal laws, and the phasing out of the use of gender data in SSA computer matching programs.
The ACLU views the ability of transgender people to have identifying documents and records that accurately and consistently reflect their lived gender as essential. As the coalition letter states, having identification and records that misrepresent one’s lived gender “outs” a transgender person in any situation where he or she needs to rely on these records, whether for purposes of employment or conducting business with state and local government offices. This not only violates the privacy rights of transgender people, it also puts them at serious risk for discrimination, especially in the 34 states that currently lack explicit nondiscrimination protections for individuals based on gender identity.
As the ACLU says on its Discrimination Against Transgender People page,
The ACLU champions the rights of transgender people to live their lives freely and with respect. We fight for protections against discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations (including schools), and health care. We also challenge obstacles to people obtaining government identity documents respectful of their gender identity, as well as barriers to transgender parents seeking continuing relationships with their children.
May 03 2012
Fresh off of an interview yesterday in which he shrugged off civilian killings in the US drone war, top White House adviser John O. Brennan was ordered to provide more “openness” on the program at a speech today in Washington.
Fresh off of an interview yesterday in which he shrugged off civilian killings in the US drone war, top White House adviser John O. Brennan was ordered to provide more “openness” on the program at a speech today in Washington.
ACLU National Security Experts Warn Program is Unlawful and Dangerous
NEW YORK – April 30 – President Obama’s top counter-terrorism adviser today publicly confirmed that the United States conducts targeted killings of suspected terrorists using drones.
In a speech this afternoon at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, John Brennan insisted the targeted strikes are a “wise choice” and “legal” and within the boundaries of international law. However, ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer said Brennan’s statement did not go far in explaining how the program passed constitutional muster.
“This is an important statement – first because it includes an unambiguous acknowledgement of the targeted killing program and second because it includes the administration’s clearest explanation thus far of the program’s purported legal basis.” Jaffer said.
“But Mr. Brennan supplies legal conclusions, not legal analysis. We continue to believe that the administration should release the Justice Department memos underlying the program – particularly the memo that authorizes the extrajudicial killing of American terrorism suspects. And the administration should release the evidence it relied on to conclude that an American citizen, Anwar al-Aulaqi, could be killed without charge, trial, or judicial process of any kind.”
Brennan maintained the Obama administration was committed to transparency when it came to deciding who would be subject to lethal drone strikes. But Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU National Security Project, said the program is both unconstitutional and overly broad.
“We continue to believe, based on the information available, that the program itself is not just unlawful but dangerous. This statement makes clear that the administration is treating legal restrictions on the use of force as questions of preference. Moreover, it is dangerous to characterize the entire planet as a battlefield,” Shamsi said.
“It is dangerous to give the President the authority to order the extrajudicial killing of any person – including any American – he believes to be a terrorist. The administration insists that the program is closely supervised, but to propose that a secret deliberation that takes place entirely within the executive branch constitutes ‘due process’ is to strip the Fifth Amendment of its essential meaning.”
Representatives of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International USA said they welcomed the unprecedented public acknowledgement of the drone campaign by John Brennan, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism.
But they said there are still serious questions about whether drone attacks on suspected millitants are legal under international law.
“Where there’s a war, for example in Afghanistan, [drone strikes] are a legitimate weapon of war,” said Tom Parker, a former British government security official who is now head of Amnesty International’s counter-terrorism program. “The problem comes when you make the unprecedented claim that you are in a world-wide conflict with a non-state actor.”
“We don’t believe that the justification [offered by Mr. Brennan] stands up under international humanitarian law,” he added.
Activists, lawyers, human rights advocates, civil liberties defenders and others came together for a major international summit on drone warfare and the issues created by drone use yesterday. The summit was co-organized by CODEPINK, the Center for Constitutional Rights and Reprieve. An exceptional lineup of speakers addressed participants detailing salient and significant aspects around the Obama administration’s expansion of the covert drone wars in countries like Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. [..]
Scahill opens his speech by saying, “The real death panels that we have in this country were unleashed on our own citizens. Republicans like to talk about death panels having to do with health care. President Obama is the one that is operating secret death panels” that include United States citizens and often include non-US citizens. The vast majority of the victims of this policy around the world are not US citizens.
Mar 28 2012
President Barack Obama: “Drones? Drone attacks? Mr. Holder, do you know anything about this?
United States Attorney General Eric Holder, “I’ve never heard of drones, Mr. President. Leon, what do you hear from the generals?
Former Director of the CIA and current Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, “No, Eric, I have no information about drones. Perhaps, Director Petraeus would know about these drones”
The three men look around the room for CIA Director David Petraeus. He’s nowhere to be found.
That fictional conversation never took place but the Obama administration would now like us all to believe that they cannot even confirm or deny the existence of a drone program at all without seriously damaging national security. Huh? They really don’t expect anyone to accept that statement that was made in response to an ACLU lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act requesting the “the government to disclose the legal basis for its use of predator drones to conduct “targeted killings” overseas. In particular, the ACLU seeks to find out when, where and against whom drone strikes can be authorized, and how the United States ensures compliance with international laws relating to extrajudicial killings.”
Glenn Greenwald in an in depth article at Salon dissected this laughable “defense” of national security about predator drones, targeted assassinations and Obama’s taking “Bush’s secrecy games one step further“:
What makes this so appalling is not merely that the Obama administration demands the right to kill whomever it wants without having to account to anyone for its actions, choices or even claimed legal authorities, though that’s obviously bad enough [..]
What makes it so much worse is how blatantly, insultingly false is its claim that it cannot confirm or deny the CIA drone program without damaging national security.
Numerous Obama officials – including the President himself and the CIA Director – have repeatedly boasted in public about this very program. Obama recently hailed the CIA drone program by claiming that “we are very careful in terms of how it’s been applied,” and added that it is “a targeted, focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists, who are trying to go in and harm Americans, hit American facilities, American bases and so on.” Obama has told playful jokes about the same drone program. Former CIA Director and current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also likes to tell cute little jokes about CIA Predator drones, and then proclaimed in December that the drone program has “been very effective at undermining al Qaeda and their ability to plan those kinds of attacks.” Just two weeks ago, Attorney General Eric Holder gave a speech purporting to legally justify these same drone attacks.
“Cute little jokes”? Is that like President George W. Bush’s “cute” little video looking for weapons of mass destruction in the Oval Office? I don’t think the people who have lost family and friends and had their lives destroyed by America’s misadventures in the Middle East think this is amusing.
And just where is the secret? Everyone in the world is talking about the predator drone program that has killed more innocent people than Al Qaeda operatives and put the US relationship with ally Pakistan on very thin ice. Just this weekend there was a long article in The Washington Post with an unnamed CIA official who was directing drone attacks in Pakistan:
Roger, which is the first name of his cover identity, may be the most consequential but least visible national security official in Washington – the principal architect of the CIA’s drone campaign and the leader of the hunt for Osama bin Laden. In many ways, he has also been the driving force of the Obama administration’s embrace of targeted killing as a centerpiece of its counterterrorism efforts.
Glenn further notes that this fixation of the Obama administration on secrecy, as evidenced by its increased prosecution of whistleblowers, is a means to protect itself from rule of our laws. He quotes from President G.W.Bush DOJ lawyer Jack Goldsmith, who defended executive authority and secrecy powers but recognized that Obama was taking this too:
First, it is wrong . . . for the government to maintain technical covertness but then engage in continuous leaks, attributed to government officials, of many (self-serving) details about the covert operations and their legal justifications. It is wrong because it is illegal. It is wrong because it damages (though perhaps not destroys) the diplomatic and related goals of covertness. And it is wrong because the Executive branch seems to be trying to have its cake (not talking about the program openly in order to serve diplomatic interests and perhaps deflect scrutiny) and eat it too (leaking promiscuously to get credit for the operation and to portray it as lawful).
This can be filed under the “You’ve Got To Be Kidding” defense.
Drones? What drones? Hmm. Ask Iran, maybe they know something about this drone thing.
Sep 24 2011
I don’t feel very good about this country this morning, and as so many of us are I’m thinking of how Troy Davis was hustled off this mortal coil by the State of Georgia without a lot of thought of what it means to execute the innocent.
And given the choice, I’d rather see us abandon the death penalty altogether, for reasons that must, at this moment, seem self-evident; that said, it’s my suspicion that a lot of states are not going to be in any hurry to abandon their death penalties anytime soon now that they know the Supreme Court will allow the innocent to be murdered.
So what if there was a way to create a compromise that balanced the absolute need to protect the innocent with the feeling among many Americans that, for some crimes, we absolutely have to impose the death penalty?
Considering the circumstances, it’s not going to be an easy subject, but let’s give it a try, and see what we can do.
Jul 23 2011
Your view: Transgender bill is about dignity, not child safety is a heart-warming letter to the editor of SouthCoast Today by Albert Hess of New Bedford. I most whole-heartedly ask you to read it.
If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and talks like a duck where should the duck go to the bathroom?
The outrage and injustice here is the imposition of outdated sexual mores being impressed on our young children in the guise of “good “education. House 502 is not a “potty bill,” it is an effort to try to bring dignity and proper respect to everyone regardless of the sexual orientation that God has given them. We need to teach children to respect themselves and others. If there is inappropriate behavior, and Lord knows we have more than enough of that, then it must be dealt with on its own merit, not tied to the clothing and mannerisms of the perpetrator.
Where should the duck go to the bathroom?
Dignity and proper respect? Someone really thinks we deserve that?
May 18 2011
With the House of Representatives at recess it can’t happen this week but Sec. 1034 of National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that was marked up by members of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) last Wednesday is very disturbing. The Bill has the potential to set up Army on American street scenes from the movie “The Siege” and, with a little massaged intelligence, U.S. Armed Forces suppressing nurses planning to protest for single payer health care.
Last week at the ACLU blog there was Unchecked Executive War Power Could Slip Through the House
Tucked inside the National Defense Authorization Act, being marked up by the House Armed Services Committee this week, is a hugely important provision that hasn’t been getting a lot of attention – a brand new authorization for a worldwide war.
This week there is House Gets Ready to Vote on New Worldwide War
A couple of minutes past midnight, Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) offered an amendment to strike Sec. 1034 – the new authorization for worldwide war provision – from the NDAA. Visibly angry that such a large sweeping provision had not yet had any public hearing whatsoever, he vigorously characterized it as a very broad declaration of war.
That amendment debate ended quickly (about ten minutes) and Rep. Garamendi’s plans to introduce it again on the House floor where he expects more results. But this bill has the potential for the Chief Executive to use military force anywhere in the world (including your back yard) in search of terrorists.
Though it is a very troubling expansion of war authority, it has been lingering for more than three years as a “sleeper provision,” and it is finally getting the attention of some members of Congress. We hope that further debate in Congress in the weeks ahead will allow for a more in-depth examination of unchecked authority to wage worldwide war, and what the outcomes of such a provision will yield.
We Hope? Feel like contacting your Congressperson to express your thought on Posse Comitatus before it slips through?
Jan 16 2011
Former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld accused of torture
from Global Research, January 14, 2011 Press TV
A US rights group has filed a lawsuit charging former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld with involvement in torturing former prisoners in American prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan.
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) catapulted the torture case into prominence on Thursday after it lodged an appeal to a court in the District of Columbia, alleging that Rumsfeld and some senior US military officials were quite aware of a torture case involving nine detainees between 2002 and 2004 in American prisons in the two countries, AFP reported.
The case initially was brought forth in December 2006, but later on was withdrawn by a federal court in March 2007 on the grounds that the ex-defense secretary and other top American military officials were immune from prosecution.
The US-based human rights group stated that under the Constitution and international law, torture is strictly prohibited and commanders are obliged to act when they know or should have known of such abuses.
The ACLU argued that the 78-year-old Rumsfeld and other military officials were repeatedly notified of abuse and torture at detention facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan by the International Red Cross and other reports as well as complaints by human rights organizations, thus they are directly responsible for the abuses.
The group further touched upon a case involving a prisoner identified as Ali.V, adding that prisoners, who were later released without charge, “were beaten, tortured, and sexually abused.”
Meanwhile, three judges at an appeals court in the District of Columbia said the case has a little chance to succeed.
The remarks came as a group of activists, each wearing black hoods and orange jumpsuits representing the prisoners at the US prison camp in Guantanamo Bay staged a rally in front of the court room on Thursday to protest against negligence over the torture case.
Rumsfeld is currently putting finishing touches on the release of his memoire book titled “Known and unknown”, which is due to hit bookshelves in the US on 8 February.
Feb 27 2010
The Bill of Rights
Fourth Amendment – Protection from unreasonable search and seizure.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
The Patriot Act was extended for another year this week. Read this information about it from the ACLU:
Late last year, to avoid expiration on December 31, 2009, Congress extended the provisions through February 28, 2010. Despite bills pending in both the House and the Senate to amend the three expiring provisions and other sections of the Patriot Act, Congress decided instead to move ahead with a straightforward reauthorization.
Since the Patriot Act’s passage in 2001, there have been several consecutive reports (including one released in January) from the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General that have outlined widespread and blatant abuse of the statute. FBI agents routinely claimed false terrorism emergencies to use “exigent letters,” or emergency letters, in order to gain private records for investigations when no emergency existed. The FBI also regularly issued NSLs after the fact in an attempt to legitimize the use of exigent letters. Even after today’s vote, there remain bills pending in both the House and Senate that were specifically introduced to narrow the scope of the NSL statute.
Nov 17 2009
The U.S. has blocked the release of photos showing clear evidence that the United States is responsible for torture in Iraq and Afghanistan. We think someone with access to the photos should simply leak them on the web, saving tax payers a load of cash and letting people know just what it is our twin occupations are really about. We are calling on anyone who has access to the images to leak them and anyone else to copy this message and post it in order to increase the chance of it reaching anyone who might have access.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates won’t allow new photographs showing prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq being abused by Americans military personnel. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has taken the issue to court, and is suing for the release of 21 color photos under the Freedom of Information Act. Ultimately, this lawsuit will win, but why waste the taxpayer dollars to hide from tax payers what they’re funding in Afghanistan and Iraq?
Federal courts already rejected the White House arguments that the photos must be kept from public view. In respponse to this, Congress – which is largely populated by people who supported both invasions, knowingly swallowing vast doses of false information as if it were fact – gave Gates new power to keep them private.
We know the U.S. military and its many contractors are involved in torture and humiliation of detainees, actions in violation of both U.S. and international law. Evidence has been published in the past and it was shrugged off under the “few bad apples” plea. We know this isn’t the case and these new photos are yet still more tangible proof of that.
If you have access to these photos, release them. If you don’t have access to these photos, please cut and paste this call anywhere you can and let’s create a viral plea to someone with the power to be a whistle blower. Don’t wait for the courts.