Florida man deserved to be arrested inside the Supreme Court building last year for wearing a jacket painted with “Occupy Everything,” and is lucky he was only apprehended on unlawful entry charges, the Department of Justice says.
The President Barack Obama administration made that assertion in a legal filing in response to a lawsuit brought by Fitzgerald Scott, who is seeking $1 million in damages for his January 2012 arrest inside the Supreme Court building. He also wants his arrest record expunged.
What’s more, the authorities said the former Marine’s claim that he was protected by the First Amendment bolsters the government’s position (.pdf) because the Supreme Court building’s public interior is a First Amendment-free zone.
Fitzgerald was not disturbing anybody, but was repeatedly told by court staff to leave the building or remove the coat. Outside the building, about a dozen “Occupy” protesters were arrested.
Inside, Fitzgerald was handcuffed and arrested for unlawful entry as he was viewing an exhibit on slavery.
Here is the District of Columbia’s ‘unlawful entry’ statute:
Any person who, without lawful authority, shall enter, or attempt to enter, any public building, or other property, or part of such building, or other property, against the will of the lawful occupant or of the person lawfully in charge thereof or his or her agent, or being therein or thereon, without lawful authority to remain therein or thereon shall refuse to quit the same on the demand of the lawful occupant, or of the person lawfully in charge thereof or his or her agent, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000, imprisonment for not more than 6 months, or both.
Prosecutors eventually dismissed the charges, and he sued. (.pdf)
To be sure, the courts have upheld convictions of those wearing inappropriate clothing inside the high court’s building — once in 2011 for individuals wearing orange shirts that said “Shut Down Guantanamo” and in 2007 for protesters wearing orange jump suits and black hoods — all in violation of the so-called “Display Clause.”
The Obama administration said Wednesday that Scott could also have been arrested and charged with violating the Display Clause, which makes it “unlawful to parade, stand, or move in processions or assemblages in the Supreme Court Building or grounds, or to display in the Building and grounds a flag, banner, or device designed or adapted to bring into public notice a party, organization, or movement.”
“It also bears noting that, while plaintiff was initially charged with violating the unlawful entry statute, his conduct also violated the Display Clause of section 6135, and he could just as easily have been charged with an independent violation of that statute as well,” the Obama administration said.
MORE HERE: WIRED.COM
Two out of every three people reading this could have your electronic devices searched, without there being any reasonable suspicion, because the Department of Homeland Security has decided that such search and seizures do not violate your Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Border agents don’t need probable cause and they don’t need a stinking warrant since they don’t need to prove any reasonable suspicion first. Nor, sadly, do two out of three people have First Amendment protection; it is as if DHS has voided those Constitutional amendments and protections they provide to nearly 200 million Americans.
Those numbers come from the ACLU’s estimates of how many people live within 100 miles of the United States border, since Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CLCR) concluded that border searches of electronic devices do not violate the Fourth Amendment. Previously, the ACLU called this area the Constitution-Free Zone and provided a map showing how many people within states along the all our borders are affected without constitutional rights. The estimate is that nearly two out of three Americans live in the Constitution-Free Zone.
Yet another excuse to cull your RIGHTS! (Not that we are faring much better outside the line… )
by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger / JonathanTurley.org
We are all aware of and concerned about the steady erosion of our civil rights at the hands of ever overreaching Federal government. It is a topic that brought many of us to this blog and a topic that draws more audience every day. The latest victim of tyranny is the 4th Amendment. The 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:
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.”
Seems pretty straight forward. However, the DHS has apparently decided to void the Constitution if you live within 100 miles of the U.S. border. Your electronics may be seized and your data searched if you live or are travelling within 100 miles of the border. This is not a new story. This policy has been known since 2008. From the beginning there were calls for Congress to reign in the overreach of the the Department for Reich, er, Homeland Security that went unheeded. Most of the calls were for residential traveller exemptions. However, there are new developments. This draconian policy, neglected by Congress, has been unilaterally declared just fine and dandy by the DHS itself in yet another example of the Executive unilaterally claiming unconstitutional powers over citizens with their only check being their own rubber stamp. This policy not only vitiates the 4th Amendment, but has implications for the 1st and 14th as well.
To get an idea of the scope of this “Constitution-free Zone”, consider this map:
Consider too that fully two-thirds (2/3) of the United States’ population lives within this Constitution-free Zone. That’s 197.4 million people, including everyone in Hawaii. And Florida, Rhode Island, Maryland, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and Michigan. Aloha!
Regarding the 4th Amendment concerns, the DHS (in their superficial two page memo) declared that “We also conclude that imposing a requirement that officers have reasonable suspicion in order to conduct a border search of an electronic device would be operationally harmful without concomitant civil rights/civil liberties benefits.” Yeah, who needs those pesky Constitutional protections when they interfere with the DHS doing whatever they want to mind your business. What is perhaps most troubling about this memo is its superficial nature. That conclusion quoted above? Is the entire breadth and depth of their analysis in justification of this policy. It is the legal equivalent of “because we said so.”
Their stunning hubris and lack of substantive rational also stretched to the 1st Amendment:
Some critics argue that a heightened level of suspicion should be required before officers searchlaptop computers in order to avoid chilling First Amendment rights. However, we conclude thatthe laptop border searches allowed under the ICE and CBP Directives do not violate travelers’First Amendment rights.” – That is their entire analysis, by the way.
The 14th Amendment does manage to garner more attention than either the 1st or 4th though:
The Constitution forbids intentional and invidious discrimination by the federal government on account of race, religion, or ethnicity. Accordingly, we recommended that CBP supplement the Department’s overarching antidiscrimination policy by stating explicitly in policy that it is generally impermissible for officers to discriminate against travelers—including by singling them out for specially rigorous searching because of their actual or perceived race, religion, or ethnicity, and that officers may use race, religion, or ethnicity as a factor in conducting discretionary device searches only when (a) the search is based on information (such as a suspect description) specific to an incident, suspect, or ongoing criminal activity, or (b) limited to situations in which Component leadership has found such consideration temporarily necessary based on their assessment of intelligence information and risk, because alternatives do not meet security needs. CBP agreed and this change has been implemented.
In addition, we recommended that CBP improve monitoring of the distribution of electronic device searching by race and ethnicity by conducting routine analysis, including semi-annual examination of electronic device searches by port of entry. After controlling for known relevant and permissible factors, such as port traveler demographics, and inclusion in watchlists, lookouts, and targeting rules, the analysis should assess whether travelers of any particular ethnicity—estimated using document information and name analysis—at any port of entry are being chosen for electronic device searches in substantial disproportion to that ethnicity’s portion of all travelers through the port. Data and results should be shared with CRCL. This recommendation is being implemented on an ongoing basis.
As part of conducting the impact assessment, we reviewed data on all non-watchlist-related device searches in FY2009 and FY2010 (Oct. 1, 2008–Sept. 30, 2010); we did not find evidence that searches were prompted by the ethnicity of travelers. If from future analysis of data it appears that electronic device searching in any port has a substantial unexplained skew towards travelers of one or more ethnicity, we have recommended that CBP work with CRCL on developing appropriate oversight mechanisms; subsequent steps generally should include a requirement of supervisory approval for searches (absent exigent circumstances) or enhanced training, and may include other responses to ensure that such concentration is not the result of bias or other inappropriate decision-making. CBP has agreed.” [emphasis added]
I feel so much better knowing that they aren’t discriminating indiscriminately when violating the Constitutional rights of citizens unless their “component” leadership decides it is otherwise necessary. I also love that they capitalized the word “component” in the memo. It instils the greatest faith that their components are probably incompetent.
Is this matter worthy of Congressional redress? Some think so, but there has been no movement on the proposed Travelers’ Privacy Protection Act (.pdf), introduced in the Senate by Senators Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) and Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) in 2008 and it is dead in committee in its current form.
Is this matter worthy of judicial review? Absolutely. History teaches us that unchecked power remains unchecked as long as it is unchallenged.
Is this a symptom of a wider problem with the Executive? I think unquestionably so. From border policy to drone policy to detention policy to the kill list, we see an ever increasing move by the Executive to claim unitary power and use it to dispose of our Constitutional rights. I think reigning in the abuses of the Executive branch should be the number one priority in every upcoming electoral cycle until the problem is addressed and the Office of the President brought back into the fold of the checks and balances created by our Founding Fathers in the Constitution. Why? Because of the historical parallel of an Executive chipping away at citizens rights and the powers of the courts and legislature and how that ended. You all know his name. A minor league German pol that rose to power on a message of fear and hatred to eventually become one of the greatest monsters in human history. To think that it can’t happen here is a myth of epic proportion.
What do you think?
Source(s): Wired (1, 2), ACLU (1, 2), U.S. Constitution, DHS Civil Rights/Civil Liberties Impact Assessment Border Searches of Electronic Devices (.pdf), Travelers’ Privacy Protection Act (.pdf), Tracking on Travelers’ Privacy Protection Act
Awwwwww….. Feel sorry for the Corporate security (eh Control) Guards yet?
AFP Photo / US Air Force
A US military commander has received a court order to keep a group of anti-drone activists at a distance, thereby suppressing criticism by preventing peace advocates from protesting in front of the military base where he works.
The Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, located near Syracuse, NY, has an area where nonviolent protesters can demonstrate on a weekly basis. After anti-drone protesters repeatedly came to the base and vocalized their opinions on what they call President Obama’s “program of murder,” a lieutenant colonel at the base received a court order banning 17 peace activists from coming anywhere near him – even though some of them don’t know who he is.
The order came after the group protested in front of the entrance to the base in late October. The 17 individuals who remained in place when police told them to move were charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct – and were banned from nearing Lieutenant Colonel Earl A. Evans.
Under the order, the activists will be arrested and could face up to seven years in prison if they demonstrate anywhere near Evans – even if they are in the permitted demonstration area near the base, according to David Swan, anti-war activist and owner of the website warisacrime.org. They are also prohibited from going anywhere near the man’s home or school, the addresses of which are unknown to them. Not knowing what to avoid, the activists could very well accidentally stumble upon the places from which they are now banned.
The temporary protection order for the colonel also forbids protesters from assaulting, stalking, harassing, harming, touching, intimidating, and threatening Evans and his family. Swan believes this order is simply an attempt to silence the activists, since they have allegedly never even had an encounter with Evans.
“This looks to me like an outrageous court action to block us from using First Amendment rights to comply with international law,” said Elliott Adams, one of the protesters. “We’ve been arrested a number of times blocking one of the entrances to Hancock Air National Guard Base while trying to serve an indictment to the base for violation of international law with the drones operated from the base.”
Prior to the court order, officials at the Hancock Field have used other methods to keep concerned citizens out of sight and away from their entrance.
“Some friends of mine have gotten arrested more times than I can count now for the offense of protesting drone use outside Hancock Air Field,” Swan wrote for the online publication Dissident Voice. “Often they’ve been aware of the risk of being arrested. But they’ve gone into court and argued that the larger crime is being committed inside the base by drone pilots.”
But the arrests are not restricted to Hancock Field. Earlier this month, nine California residents were arrested and cited for trespassing at Beale Air Force Base for protesting the use of armed drones by the US military. The nine peace activists had been protesting in front of the main gate, thereby making it difficult for cars to pass. They are now awaiting court dates and could face up to six months in prison.
What if the government never took the Constitution seriously? What if the same generation — in some cases the same human beings — that wrote in the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech,” also enacted the Alien and Sedition Acts, which made it a crime to criticize the government? What if the feds don’t regard the Constitution as the Supreme Law of the Land?
What if the government regards the Constitution as merely a guideline to be referred to from time to time, or a myth to be foisted upon the voters, but not as a historic delegation of power that lawfully limits the federal government? What if Congress knows that most of what it regulates puts it outside the confines of the Constitution, but it does whatever it can get away with? What if the feds don’t think that the Constitution was written to keep them off the people’s backs?
The Hutaree terror case officially ended today with the last two defendants cutting deals with the government on weapons charges, two days after their five codefendants were cleared of all charges by a federal judge.
David Stone Sr. left the federal courthouse at 1:10 p.m. hand-in-hand with his wife and two sons after two years of being locked up in prison on charges he plotted a violent revolt against the government that included killing police officers with bombs and guns. Stone Sr., who was cleared of the most serious charges, said he is looking forward to going home.
“They put me in the dark and kept me in the dark for two years,” said Stone Sr., who was released on bond. “I’m glad to be out of one of the worst county jails in the country.”
Despite the outcome, U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade stood her ground and defended the government’s case, arguing that the Hutaree gave the government plenty of reason to investigate it, and ultimately charge its members with crimes.
“Faced with the decision we had to face in March of 2010 – where we had information about an attack in April of 2010 – I believe we made the right decision,” McQuade told the Free Press. “We have an obligation to the protect the public, and so we had every right to do that.”
McQuade also defended the timing of the arrests, saying it would have been a bigger mistake not to arrest anyone, and then let a violent attack happen.
“Imagine if they had been successful and we had waited,” McQuade told the Free Press. “I think most people would agree that you stop them when you can to protect the public safety. And I think that’s what happened here.”
McQuade also disputed that the Hutaree case was about the First Amendment, and punishing people over their speech.
“It wasn’t just free speech,” McQuade said. “It involved substantial steps in furtherance of a plot to kill police officers. They were stockpiling weapons and machine guns and rounds and rounds of ammunition. And they were building bombs. To me, that is well beyond protected First Amendment speech.”
Stone Sr. faces up to 41 months in prison after pleading guilty today to possessing a machine gun. The militia leader, who described himself as a “patriotic American” who did nothing more than speak his mind, said his case should serve as a warning to the public.
“This could happen to anybody,” Stone Sr. said.
With the stroke of a pen, President Obama signed bill HR 347 into law earlier this month. With that move, Obama made it a felony to express freedom of speech in America. The Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act that effortlessly passed the House and the Senate is a law that most Americans don’t know about but could put them behind bars for up to 10 years. The law states it is a prosecutable offense to without lawful authority enter a building or grounds of a special event of national significance or enter a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting. David Seaman, journalist and host of the DL Show, joins us to talk about how, along with the NDAA, HR 347 is detrimental to the First Amendment.
by Barry Grey
Global Research, March 1, 2012
It is only on rare occasions that politicians drop their smiling masks and reveal their real thoughts and feelings. One such revelatory moment occurred last Sunday when Rick Santorum, a leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination, became increasingly agitated during an interview on network television and seemed on the verge of losing control.
He was responding to a question from George Stephanopoulos, the moderator of ABC’s “This Week” program, about a previous remark that he “almost threw up” when he read the famous speech given by presidential candidate John F. Kennedy in 1960 affirming the constitutional separation of church and state.
Santorum defended his statement, saying: “Because the first substantive line in the speech says, ‘I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.’ I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute. The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and visions of our country.”
The near-hysteria with which Santorum denounced Kennedy—an assassinated US president—and railed against Kennedy’s defense of a cornerstone of the democratic principles laid down in the Bill of Rights is indicative of his visceral hatred of the secular foundations of the American republic. He at one point called Kennedy’s position “an absolutist doctrine that was abhorrent.”
Santorum went on to turn Kennedy’s speech on its head, claiming that Kennedy’s plea for religious toleration and freedom was an attempt to oppress religious people. Kennedy, Santorum asserted, was the author of the “vision” of “someone who is now trying to tell people of faith that you will do what the government says… when people of faith, at least according to John Kennedy, have no role in the public square.”
Neither the First Amendment nor Kennedy’s defense of it suggests that religious people should be impeded from participating in politics. It does not curtail the right of people to their personal convictions. Rather, it denies the right of religious institutions to interfere in the policies and operations of the government.
Kennedy declared in his speech, given before a convention of Baptist ministers in Houston: “I believe in an America where…no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference… I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish—where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source—where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials…” (Kennedy’s speech can be accessed here.)
Santorum supports the opposite. He is for the power of organized religion to dictate policy on a whole range of social issues, from birth control and abortion to education, the media and the arts. His outlook would lead to the imposition of religious tests for officeholders and a host of other anti-democratic measures. His views are far closer to the clerical fascism of the Franco dictatorship in Spain than the principles laid down by the US Constitution.
These positions, however, are only the most extreme expression of a general erosion of support for core civil liberties that extends to the Democratic Party as well as the Republican Party and the entire political and media establishment.
In the 2000 election, Democratic vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman challenged the secular foundations of the Constitution, insisting that the First Amendment guaranteed freedom “of religion,” not freedom “from religion.”
The secularist principles articulated in the First Amendment are absolutely central to all of the rights proclaimed in the Bill of Rights. It is no accident that the founding fathers made the separation of church and state the first point in an article upholding freedom of speech and assembly. Representatives of the Enlightenment, they saw the destruction and carnage from the religious wars of prior generations as the outcome of the medieval domination of organized religion over civic life.
Thomas Jefferson called for a “wall of separation” between church and state. James Madison declared that, “there is not a shadow of right in the general government to intermeddle with religion.” He famously opposed allowing “three pence” of public funds to be spent on religion.
No less reactionary were Santorum’s statements in his “This Week” interview on education. He delivered a tirade against higher education for working class youth and a denunciation of universities as bastions of liberal and secular thought.
Defending his branding of Obama as a “snob” for urging youth to obtain at least one year of higher education or post-secondary school training, the former senator from Pennsylvania said: “… there are lots of people in this country that have no desire or no aspiration to go to college, because they have a different set of skills and desires and dreams that don’t include college.”
As Santorum knows full well, it is almost impossible to secure a decent-paying job today without some level of education or training beyond high school. He muttered a few words about technical schools and vocational training, ignoring the fact that funds for such programs have been drastically cut and that he is calling for even deeper reductions in all such programs.
He complained about “how liberal our colleges and universities are,” with their “politically correct left doctrine,” and promised to make sure that more “conservative principles” are “reflected in our college courses and with college professors.”
Santorum, who insists that his own children be home-schooled, is a ferocious opponent of public education. In this field too he supports the domination of the church.
Kennedy, a Catholic, had to answer concerns that a Catholic president—for which there was no precedent in 1960—would be under the direct influence of the Catholic clergy. He ran for president at a time when there was still widespread anti-Catholic prejudice, combined with fear of the influence of the Papacy in American political life.
Kennedy provided a fairly principled defense of the separation of church and state, which at that time still enjoyed broad support within the political establishment. By no means a paragon of democracy, his administration combined appeals to idealism and democratic beliefs with a ruthless defense of the interests of American imperialism. Nevertheless, his administration a half-century ago represented an entirely different epoch from the present.
The intervening period has seen a relentless assault on democratic consciousness alongside attacks on the working class and the growth of social inequality. The entire political establishment has moved sharply to the right, with the Republicans seeking to cultivate a constituency among the most backward and reactionary sections of the population by pushing so-called “social issues” such as abortion, birth control and gay marriage.
The liberal and pseudo-left supporters of Obama and the Democrats—theNation magazine and similar left-liberal publications, the International Socialist Organization—will undoubtedly use Santorum’s broadside against democratic rights for the purpose of channeling popular opposition behind Obama’s reelection campaign. The reality, however, is that neither Obama nor any other prominent Democrat and no candidate for president of either party would today unequivocally defend Kennedy’s 1960 speech and the principles it articulated.
The attack on the separation of church and state is one part of a broader assault on democratic rights that has been intensified under Obama, including the repudiation of habeas corpus, the abandonment of the right of accused people to face their accusers and the general right to due process, the discarding of legal bans against torture, state assassinations and domestic spying.
The criminal character of the operations of the American ruling class—in the form of aggressive wars and the plundering of the national wealth by the financial oligarchy—has if anything become more naked under the current administration. The social chasm between rich and poor has increased, undermining any basis for democratic forms of rule.
Obama’s own two-faced and capitulatory attitude to the assault by the church and the religious right on the rights of working people was demonstrated only a few weeks ago, when he reversed his policy requiring church-affiliated institutions to provide free access to contraceptives for their employees. This cave-in sets the stage for sweeping attacks on workers’ rights on the pretext of religious conviction.
In announcing his capitulation, Obama said he was acting “as a citizen and a Christian.” The fact that Obama, supposedly a constitutional lawyer, invoked his religion to justify his social policy demonstrates how completely the core principles of the Bill of Rights have become a dead letter within the political establishment.
Barry Grey is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Barry Grey
Washington: US park police detains a Christian religious activist during a pro-life demonstration in front of the White House in Washington on February 16, 2012. (AFP Photo/Jewel Samad)
Just when you thought the (US) government couldn’t ruin the First Amendment any further: The House of Representatives approved a bill on Monday that outlaws protests in instances where some government officials are nearby, whether or not you even know it.
The US House of Representatives voted 388-to-3 in favor of H.R. 347 late Monday, a bill which is being dubbed the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011. In the bill, Congress officially makes it illegal to trespass on the grounds of the White House, which, on the surface, seems not just harmless and necessary, but somewhat shocking that such a rule isn’t already on the books. The wording in the bill, however, extends to allow the government to go after much more than tourists that transverse the wrought iron White House fence.
Under the act, the government is also given the power to bring charges against Americans engaged in political protest anywhere in the country.
Under current law, White House trespassers are prosecuted under a local ordinance, a Washington, DC legislation that can bring misdemeanor charges for anyone trying to get close to the president without authorization. Under H.R. 347, a federal law will formally be applied to such instances, but will also allow the government to bring charges to protesters, demonstrators and activists at political events and other outings across America.
The new legislation allows prosecutors to charge anyone who enters a building without permission or with the intent to disrupt a government function with a federal offense if Secret Service is on the scene, but the law stretches to include not just the president’s palatial Pennsylvania Avenue home. Under the law, any building or grounds where the president is visiting — even temporarily — is covered, as is any building or grounds “restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance.”
It’s not just the president who would be spared from protesters, either.
Covered under the bill is any person protected by the Secret Service. Although such protection isn’t extended to just everybody, making it a federal offense to even accidently disrupt an event attended by a person with such status essentially crushes whatever currently remains of the right to assemble and peacefully protest.
Hours after the act passed, presidential candidate Rick Santorum was granted Secret Service protection. For the American protester, this indeed means that glitter-bombing the former Pennsylvania senator is officially a very big no-no, but it doesn’t stop with just him. Santorum’s coverage under the Secret Service began on Tuesday, but fellow GOP hopeful Mitt Romney has already been receiving such security. A campaign aide who asked not to be identified confirmed last week to CBS News that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has sought Secret Service protection as well. Even former contender Herman Cain received the armed protection treatment when he was still in the running for the Republican Party nod.
In the text of the act, the law is allowed to be used against anyone who knowingly enters or remains in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so, but those grounds are considered any area where someone — rather it’s President Obama, Senator Santorum or Governor Romney — will be temporarily visiting, whether or not the public is even made aware. Entering such a facility is thus outlawed, as is disrupting the orderly conduct of “official functions,” engaging in disorderly conduct “within such proximity to” the event or acting violent to anyone, anywhere near the premises. Under that verbiage, that means a peaceful protest outside a candidate’s concession speech would be a federal offense, but those occurrences covered as special event of national significance don’t just stop there, either. And neither does the list of covered persons that receive protection.
Outside of the current presidential race, the Secret Service is responsible for guarding an array of politicians, even those from outside America. George W Bush is granted protection until ten years after his administration ended, or 2019, and every living president before him is eligible for life-time, federally funded coverage. Visiting heads of state are extended an offer too, and the events sanctioned as those of national significance — a decision that is left up to the US Department of Homeland Security — extends to more than the obvious. While presidential inaugurations and meeting of foreign dignitaries are awarded the title, nearly three dozen events in all have been considered a National Special Security Event (NSSE) since the term was created under President Clinton. Among past events on the DHS-sanctioned NSSE list are Super Bowl XXXVI, the funerals of Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford, most State of the Union addresses and the 2008 Democratic and Republican National Conventions.
With Secret Service protection awarded to visiting dignitaries, this also means, for instance, that the federal government could consider a demonstration against any foreign president on American soil as a violation of federal law, as long as it could be considered disruptive to whatever function is occurring.
When thousands of protesters are expected to descend on Chicago this spring for the 2012 G8 and NATO summits, they will also be approaching the grounds of a National Special Security Event. That means disruptive activity, to whichever court has to consider it, will be a federal offense under the act.
And don’t forget if you intend on fighting such charges, you might not be able to rely on evidence of your own. In the state of Illinois, videotaping the police, under current law, brings criminals charges. Don’t fret. It’s not like the country will really try to enforce it — right?
On the bright side, does this mean that the law could apply to law enforcement officers reprimanded for using excessive force on protesters at political events? Probably. Of course, some fear that the act is being created just to keep those demonstrations from ever occuring, and given the vague language on par with the loose definition of a “terrorist” under the NDAA, if passed this act is expected to do a lot more harm to the First Amendment than good.
United States Representative Justin Amash (MI-03) was one of only three lawmakers to vote against the act when it appeared in the House late Monday. Explaining his take on the act through his official Facebook account on Tuesday, Rep. Amash writes, “The bill expands current law to make it a crime to enter or remain in an area where an official is visiting even if the person does not know it’s illegal to be in that area and has no reason to suspect it’s illegal.”
“Some government officials may need extraordinary protection to ensure their safety. But criminalizing legitimate First Amendment activity — even if that activity is annoying to those government officials — violates our rights,” adds the representative.
Now that the act has overwhelmingly made it through the House, the next set of hands to sift through its pages could very well be President Barack Obama; the US Senate had already passed the bill back on February 6. Less than two months ago, the president approved the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, essentially suspending habeas corpus from American citizens. Could the next order out of the Executive Branch be revoking some of the Bill of Rights? Only if you consider the part about being able to assemble a staple of the First Amendment, really. Don’t worry, though. Obama was, after all, a constitutional law professor. When he signed the NDAA on December 31, he accompanied his signature with a signing statement that let Americans know that, just because he authorized the indefinite detention of Americans didn’t mean he thought it was right.
Should President Obama suspend the right to assemble, Americans might expect another apology to accompany it in which the commander-in-chief condemns the very act he authorizes. If you disagree with such a decision, however, don’t take it to the White House. Sixteen-hundred Pennsylvania Avenue and the vicinity is, of course, covered under this act.
We have been seeing this a lot lately. As mainstream commentators get axed, and censored “left and right” (OK we do not agree with many of them anyway..) – They are turning on their former masters. From Phil Donahue, to Glenn Beck… These media talking heads are finding out what we have known all these years. You are not getting this airtime to state YOUR opinions… You are there to support the Elite. When you do not do that – You GONE.
This system of rewarding the good water haulers, and punishing the bad ones, has a shocking effect on those who remain in the employ of the propagandists. Just like in any other industry, or sector…. You learn pretty fast that, “There but for the grace of the big boss, go I”.
Pat has also been kind to Ron Paul, which I am sure didn’t help him much in the eyes of the Mockingbird “programmers”!
Pat Buchanan has finally been canned at MSNBC.
The ousting was over Buchanan’s controversial book, “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?” MSNBC’s president Phil Griffin had asked Buchanan not to appear on the network while he was promoting the book, which includes ideas about the connection between ethnic diversity and America’s decline that civil rights organizations have deemed racist and anti-Semitic.
Buchanan has not appeared on the network since October. And now he’s out for good.
After going point by point through the criticisms of his book, Buchanan really turned up the heat in the closing paragraphs:
The modus operandi of these thought police at Color of Change and ADL is to brand as racists and anti-Semites any writer who dares to venture outside the narrow corral in which they seek to confine debate. All the while prattling about their love of dissent and devotion to the First Amendment, they seek systematically to silence and censor dissent.
Without a hearing, they smear and stigmatize as racist, homophobic, or anti-Semitic any who contradict what George Orwell once called their “smelly little orthodoxies.” They then demand that the heretic recant, grovel, apologize, and pledge to go forth and sin no more.
Defy them, and they will go after the network where you work, the newspapers that carry your column, the conventions that invite you to speak. If all else fails, they go after the advertisers.
I know these black listers. They operate behind closed doors, with phone calls, mailed threats, and off-the-record meetings. They work in the dark because, as Al Smith said, nothing un-American can live in the sunlight.
You can still catch Buchanan on The McLaughlin Group, where he can be found yelling at a bunch of political analysts most Sundays.