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Stop government seizures of your property for private benefit
The Supreme Court's "Kelo" decision has re-written the Constitution and given governments at all levels the power to seize your personal property for the benefit of private interests.
Legislation pending in Congress (S. 1313) seeks to limit this new governmental power. But S. 1313 has severe weaknesses — it lacks a statement of Constitutional authority and an enforcement mechanism. S. 1313 is toothless.
DownsizeDC.org, Inc. has prepared an amendment to fix these problems. The full text of S. 1313, along with DownsizeDC.org's ammendment, and the reasons for our proposed changes, can be found on the BACKGROUND page.
We urge you to urge Congress to pass S. 1313 with our amendment. To send your message to Congress for this purpose, follow the instructions, and use the form provided below.
[NOTE: Click on the link above for the petition and background information about this issue.]
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posted by Lorenzo 9:51 AM
FBI monitors activists, court documents show
(Eric Lichtblau, New York Times, July 18, 2005)
The FBI has collected at least 3,500 pages of internal documents in the last several years on a handful of civil rights and anti-war protest groups in what the groups charge is an attempt to stifle political opposition to the Bush administration. . . . The FBI has in its files 1,173 pages of internal documents on the American Civil Liberties Union, the leading critic of the Bush administration's anti-terror policies, and 2,383 pages on Greenpeace, an environmental group that has led acts of civil disobedience in protest over the administration's policies, the Justice Department disclosed in a court filing earlier this month in federal court in Washington. . . . The filing came as part of a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act brought by the ACLU and other groups that maintain that the FBI has engaged in a pattern of political surveillance against critics of the Bush administration. . . . "Why would the FBI collect almost 1,200 pages on a civil rights organization engaged in lawful activity? What justification could there be, other than political surveillance of lawful First Amendment activities?" said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU. . . . Protest groups charge that FBI counterterrorism officials have used their expanded powers since the Sept. 11 attacks to blur the line between legitimate civil disobedience and violent or terrorist activity in what they liken to FBI political surveillance of the 1960s. . . . In all, the ACLU is now seeking FBI records since 2001 or earlier on some 150 groups that have been critical of the Bush administration's policies on the Iraq war and other matters. . . . The Justice Department is opposing the ACLU's request, saying it does not involve a matter of urgent public interest . . . Six pages of internal FBI documents on a group called United for Peace and Justice, which led wide-scale protests over the Iraq war, discuss the group's role in 2003 in preparing protests for last year's Republican National Convention. . . . A memo by counterterrorism personnel in the FBI's Los Angeles office circulated to other counterterrorism officials in New York, Boston, Los Angeles and Washington makes reference to possible anarchist connections of some protesters and the prospect for disruptions but also quotes from more benign statements protesters had released on the Internet and elsewhere to prepare for the Republican convention.
[COMMENT by Lorenzo: In case you don't remember the FBI's COINTELPRO operation, here are a few examples of what the U.S. government did to its own people: Illegal wiretaps of American citizens . . . paying informants and agitators to infiltrate community groups (including churches and schools) . . . attempting to incite peaceful groups to violence . . . engaging in disinformation campaigns about individuals and groups to confuse the public, create an atmosphere of fear and to isolate sectors of the community committed to change . . . seeking ways to create internal dissension between members and an atmosphere of fear within social activist communities . . . committing criminal acts of violence, fire-bombings and arson against U.S. citizens.
And in an ironic twist of history, one of only two FBI officials to go to jail for these crimes was none other than the infamous Deep Throat whose identity was recently revealed.]
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posted by Lorenzo 5:48 AM
National Guard Begins Spying on Private Citizens in U.S.
(Don Thompson, The Associated Press, July 7, 2005)
Military authorities yesterday began investigating whether a California National Guard unit was created to spy on citizens, as dozens of demonstrators confronted Guard officials while armed soldiers stood by. . . . The federal probe of the nation's largest National Guard force involves the U.S. Army's inspector general, the federal National Guard Bureau's inspector general and the National Guard Bureau's legal division. . . . The unit has raised concern among peace activists that the Guard is resorting to the same type of civilian monitoring that helped fuel Vietnam War-era protests. During the 1960s and '70s, the military collected information on more than 100,000 Americans. Such monitoring, while not illegal, would be a departure for the Guard. . . . "These are your mothers, grandmothers and neighbors," said George Main, president of Veterans for Peace and an organizer of yesterday's protest outside Guard headquarters. About 30 demonstrators took part. . . . "They are not potential terrorist threats," Main said. "The excuse that these groups might be infiltrated is an insult to the intelligence of every Californian." . . . Under scrutiny is a California National Guard unit with a tongue-twisting name: the Information Synchronization, Knowledge Management and Intelligence Fusion program. [COMMENT by Lorenzo: Can you imagine a name much more Orwellian than that?] It was established last year, and came to public attention after a recent story in the San Jose Mercury News. . . . Investigators also are looking into the Guard's monitoring of a Mother's Day anti-war demonstration at the state Capitol that was organized by several peace groups.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:07 PM
Bush Junta is Establishing Secret Police in U.S.
(Bradley Graham, Washington Post, July 6, 2005)
A new Pentagon strategy for securing the U.S. homeland calls for expanded U.S. military activity not only in the air and sea -- where the armed forces have historically guarded approaches to the country -- but also on the ground and in other less traditional, potentially more problematic areas such as intelligence sharing with civilian law enforcement. . . . The strategy is outlined in a 40-page document, approved last month, that marks the Pentagon's first attempt since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to present a comprehensive plan for defending the U.S. homeland. . . . A new Pentagon strategy for securing the U.S. homeland calls for expanded U.S. military activity not only in the air and sea -- where the armed forces have historically guarded approaches to the country -- but also on the ground and in other less traditional, potentially more problematic areas such as intelligence sharing with civilian law enforcement. . . . The strategy is outlined in a 40-page document, approved last month, that marks the Pentagon's first attempt since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to present a comprehensive plan for defending the U.S. homeland. . . . it raises the likelihood that U.S. combat troops will take action in the event that civilian and National Guard forces are overwhelmed. . . . some of the provisions appear likely to draw concern from civil liberties groups that have warned against a growing military involvement in homeland missions and an erosion of long-established barriers to military surveillance and combat operations in the United States. . . . The document acknowledges, for instance, plans to team military intelligence analysts with civilian law enforcement to identify and track suspected terrorists. . . . [COMMENT by Lorenzo: Here is what the ultra-right-wing Cato Institute has to say about our Beloved Dictator's plans for a military take-over of the U.S.: Deployed in the U.S.A.: The Creeping Militarization of the Home Front . . . by Gene Healy [Gene Healy is senior editor at the Cato Institute. His previous studies include "There Goes the Neighborhood: The Bush-Ashcroft Plan to 'Help' Localities Fight Gun Crime" and "Arrogance of Power Reborn: The Imperial Presidency and Foreign Policy in the Clinton Years."] . . . Executive Summary As its overwhelming victories in Afghanistan and Iraq have demonstrated, the U.S. military is the most effective fighting force in human history. It is so effective, in fact, that many government officials are now anxious for the military to assume a more active policing role here at home. . . . Deploying troops on the home front is very different from waging war abroad. Soldiers are trained to kill, whereas civilian peace officers are trained to respect constitutional rights and to use force only as a last resort. That fundamental distinction explains why Americans have long resisted the use of standing armies to keep the domestic peace. . . . Unfortunately, plans are afoot to change that time-honored policy. There have already been temporary troop deployments in the airports and on the Canadian and Mexican borders and calls to make border militarization permanent. The Pentagon has also shown a disturbing interest in high-tech surveillance of American citizens. And key figures in the Bush administration and Congress have considered weakening the Posse Comitatus Act, the federal statute that limits the government's ability to use the military for domestic police work. . . . The historical record of military involvement in domestic affairs cautions against a more active military presence in the American homeland. If Congress weakens the legal barriers to using soldiers as cops, substantial collateral damage to civilian life and liberty will likely ensue. . . . And that is the opinion of conservatives! At least it is refreshing to know that there is a big difference between a real conservative and these Fascists who so proudly call themselves "neocons". . . . They are "cons" alright . . . Fascist Con-men&women.] . . . "It's a mixed message," said Timothy H. Edgar, a national security specialist with the American Civil Liberties Union. "I do see language in the document acknowledging limits on military involvement, but that seems at odds with other parts of the document. They seem to be trying to have it both ways." . . . The document, titled "Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support" (PDF version)," was signed June 24 by acting Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England and is now a basis for organizing troops, developing weapons and assigning missions. It was released late last week without the sort of formal news conference or background briefing that often accompanies major defense policy statements. . . . Legal barriers to sending the armed forces into U.S. streets have existed for more than a century under the Posse Comitatus Act. Enacted in 1878, the law was prompted by the perceived misuse of federal troops after the Civil War to supervise elections in the former Confederate states. Over the years, the law has come to reflect a more general reluctance to involve the military in domestic law enforcement, although its provisions have been amended from time to time to allow some exceptions, including a military role in putting down insurrections, in assisting in drug interdiction work, and in providing equipment, training and advice. [COMMENT by Lorenzo: And we know what a great job the military are doing in fighting the war on drugs. See Good News! - Illegal drugs use 'rose in 2004'.] . . . Along with civil liberties groups, many senior Pentagon officials have tended to be wary of seeing troops operate on U.S. soil. Military commanders argue that their personnel are not specifically trained in domestic security, and they worry that homeland tasks could lead to serious political problems. . . . Still, the Pentagon has established new administrative structures in recent years in recognition of a growing military contribution to homeland defense. It set up the Northern Command in 2002 to oversee military operations in the United States. It created a new assistant secretary for homeland defense. And it designated a one-star general on the Joint Chiefs of Staff to work on the issue. . . . Additionally, the National Guard has been building small "civil support teams" to provide emergency assistance in the wake of a chemical, biological, nuclear or high-explosive attack. By the end of 2007, 55 of the 22-person teams are due -- at least one for each state and U.S. territory. . . . The new strategy notes that the Guard "is particularly well suited for civil support missions" because it is "forward deployed in 3,200 communities," exercises routinely with local law enforcement and is accustomed to dealing with communities in times of crisis. Indeed, Guard leaders have welcomed an expanded homeland security role. . . . "The move toward a domestic intelligence capability by the military is troubling," said Gene Healy, a senior editor at the Cato Institute, [see Comment by Lorenzo above for more about Healy] a nonprofit libertarian policy research group in Washington. . . . "The last time the military got heavily involved in domestic surveillance, during the Vietnam War era, military intelligence kept thousands of files on Americans guilty of nothing more than opposing the war," Healy said. "I don't think we want to go down that road again."
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posted by Lorenzo 1:39 PM