A normal, average citizen, I unlock the front door and enter my home. I don't know if anyone has entered surreptitiously -- perhaps a sneak-and-peek job by Ashcroft's black-bag boys.
I boot up my computer to go online. I don't know if my email is being monitored, if my keystrokes are being recorded.
I call my attorney, about a family matter. I don't know if communication with my lawyer, previously regarded as "confidential," is being listened to. (This, and the other examples above, and many below, flow from the Bush-Ashcroft "USA Patriot Act.")
I visit my physician, and learn later that my employer found out about a chronic condition I had and laid me off, to keep his insurance costs down. The doctor-patient confidentiality I thought existed is now breachable by government agencies in cahoots with insurance companies...
(read the disturbing rest)...
Prosecutor at center of controversy in terror case sues Ashcroft
By John Solomon, Associated Press, 2/17/2004 11:37
WASHINGTON (AP) A federal prosecutor in a major terrorism case in Detroit has taken the rare step of suing Attorney General John Ashcroft, alleging the Justice Department interfered with the case, compromised a confidential informant and exaggerated results in the war on terrorism.
DES MOINES, Iowa - In what may be the first subpoena of its kind in decades, a federal judge has ordered a university to turn over records about a gathering of anti-war activists.
In addition to the subpoena of Drake University, subpoenas were served this past week on four of the activists who attended a Nov. 15 forum at the school, ordering them to appear before a grand jury Tuesday, the protesters said.
Federal prosecutors refuse to comment on the subpoenas.
In addition to records about who attended the forum, the subpoena orders the university to divulge all records relating to the local chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, a New York-based legal activist organization that sponsored the forum.
The group, once targeted for alleged ties to communism in the 1950s, announced Friday it will ask a federal court to quash the subpoena on Monday.
"The law is clear that the use of the grand jury to investigate protected political activities or to intimidate protesters exceeds its authority," guild President Michael Ayers said in a statement.
Representatives of the Lawyer's Guild and the American Civil Liberties Union said they had not heard of such a subpoena being served on any U.S. university in decades.
Those served subpoenas include the leader of the Catholic Peace Ministry, the former coordinator of the Iowa Peace Network, a member of the Catholic Worker House, and an anti-war activist who visited Iraq in 2002.
They say the subpoenas are intended to stifle dissent.
"This is exactly what people feared would happen," said Brian Terrell of the peace ministry, one of those subpoenaed. "The civil liberties of everyone in this country are in danger. How we handle that here in Iowa is very important on how things are going to happen in this country from now on."
The forum, titled "Stop the Occupation! Bring the Iowa Guard Home!" came the day before 12 protesters were arrested at an anti-war rally at Iowa National Guard headquarters in Johnston. Organizers say the forum included nonviolence training for people planning to demonstrate.
The targets of the subpoenas believe investigators are trying to link them to an incident that occurred during the rally. A Grinnell College librarian was charged with misdemeanor assault on a peace officer; she has pleaded innocent, saying she simply went limp and resisted arrest.
"The best approach is not to speculate and see what we learn on Tuesday" when the four testify, said Ben Stone, executive director of the Iowa Civil Liberties Union, which is representing one of the protesters.
Mark Smith, a lobbyist for the Washington-based American Association of University Professors, said he had not heard of any similar case of a U.S. university being subpoenaed for such records.
He said the case brings back fears of the "red squads" of the 1950s and campus clampdowns on Vietnam War protesters.
According to a copy obtained by The Associated Press, the Drake subpoena asks for records of the request for a meeting room, "all documents indicating the purpose and intended participants in the meeting, and all documents or recordings which would identify persons that actually attended the meeting."
It also asks for campus security records "reflecting any observations made of the Nov. 15, 2003, meeting, including any records of persons in charge or control of the meeting, and any records of attendees of the meeting."
Several officials of Drake, a private university with about 5,000 students, refused to comment Friday, including school spokeswoman Andrea McDonough. She referred questions to a lawyer representing the school, Steve Serck, who also would not comment.
A source with knowledge of the investigation said a judge had issued a gag order forbidding school officials from discussing the subpoena.
...MKB v. Warden is the first indication that the Justice Department is extending its total secrecy policy to proceedings in federal courts dealing with habeas corpus - that is, an individual's right to force the government to justify his or her detention.
The case offers the Supreme Court an opportunity for the first time to spell out whether such secret judicial proceedings violate constitutional protections. It may also offer the first insight into how much deference a majority of justices is willing to grant the government in areas where the war on terrorism may tread upon fundamental American freedoms.
From the perspective of news reporters and government watchdogs, the case marks a potential turning point away from a long-held presumption that judicial proceedings in the US are open to public scrutiny.
The case is one of several currently on petition to the high court dealing with some aspect of the war on terror. Two cases relate to detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and one challenges Yasser Hamdi's open-ended detention as an enemy combatant. A fourth case seeks to force the Justice Department to disclose the names of detainees caught up in antiterror investigations - an issue closely related to the Miami habeas case.
Federal judges have the authority to order sensitive documents or even entire hearings sealed from public view when disclosure might harm national security. Such rulings are usually issued after the judge has explained the need for secrecy in a decision available to the public.
In addition, judges can order that an individual be identified in public court filings only by a pseudonym or by initials, as happened when the MKB case arrived at the US Supreme Court.
What is highly unusual in MKB v. Warden is that lower court judges ordered the entire case sealed from the start - preventing any mention of it to the public.
'Abuse of discretion'?
In her petition to the court, Miami federal public defender Kathleen Williams says the judges' actions authorizing the secrecy without any public notice, public hearings, or public findings amount to "an abuse of discretion" that requires corrective action by the justices.
"This habeas corpus case has been heard, appealed, and decided in complete secrecy," Ms. Williams says in her petition.
A government response to the petition is due Nov. 5. It will mark the first time the Justice Department has publicly acknowledged the existence of the habeas corpus action. The justices are set to consider the case during their Nov. 7 conference...
Providence residents press anti-Patriot Act stance
BY IAN DONNIS
A crowd of residents this week urged the Providence City Council to join the more than 200 US communities that have taken an official stand against the USA Patriot Act...
...While the threat to citizens is worrisome enough, Goldrick says, the ways in which the Patriot Act can be used against non-citizens are particularly troubling. "They really have almost no rights if someone on the federal level thinks they might be related to terrorism," she says. "They can be held without bail, without trial, they can be threatened with a military tribunal, and they can be denied access to a lawyer. All of this just really disturbed me deeply," as does her belief that Ashcroft and other Bush officials are using 9/11 as a pretext for diminishing civil liberties.
After many communities, including Chicago and the town of New Shoreham, on Block Island, have passed anti-Patriot Act resolutions, local activists plan to continue their efforts in Providence (more information can be found on the Web site of the Rhode Island Bill of Rights Defense Committee at www.citizeninfo.org). As Goldrick says, "We will be keeping up with the city council. We’ll continue to call, and write, and e-mail, to encourage them to pass this resolution."
WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 — The Bush administration, which calls the USA Patriot Act perhaps its most essential tool in fighting terrorists, has begun using the law with increasing frequency in many criminal investigations that have little or no connection to terrorism...