Thursday, July 31, 2008

New DVD series on activist generations features ACLU director

Who are your heroes?


After 8 years of truly uninspired leadership on the part of our elected officials, we could all use a little inspiration. That’s why I want to share with you a ground-breaking series jointly created by the nation’s oldest progressive magazine and the country’s most revolutionary media pioneer: This Brave Nation.

Brave New Foundation and The Nation magazine have teamed up to produce This Brave Nation, a 5-part documentary series that brings together some of the most celebrated progressive minds in our country today for conversations with rising young activists. I was honored and delighted to be a part of this revolutionary series, and I hope you can check it out.


It was a thrilling and humbling experience to be asked to participate in this series with some of my own progressive heroes, including Pete Seeger, Carl Pope, Bonnie Raitt, Dolores Huerta, and Tom Hayden. But even more inspiring was the involvement of rising progressive stars.

I had the opportunity to meet and talk with an exceptional young woman, Ava Lowery, a filmmaker who is already changing the world. For her sixteenth birthday, instead of a party, she held a peace protest at the Alabama state capital. Her story and her passions, as well as those of the other young activists highlighted in This Brave Nation won't just inspire you, but will give you hope for the future of liberty and justice in America.

The series is available free-of-charge over the internet, but there are also DVDs available for yourself, your friends or your library.

Thank you for everything you do to help the ACLU keep America safe and free. With your continued support, we will continue to bring to life the spirit of activism celebrated in This Brave Nation.

Sincerely,
Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director
ACLU

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Comments on the UU Church shooting

As readers might know by now, the Sunday morning shooting at a Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, TN has captured national attention and is being prosecuted as a hate crime. The hate crime penalty is being pursued due to a letter the shooter wrote detailing his hatred of what he considered to be the liberal movement as well as his own economic frustrations. It has been noted that in addition to the progressive, inclusive tradition of the Unitarian-Universalist church, members also founded a local ACLU chapter.

While it can be tempting to use the church shooter as fodder for a culture war debate (as this conservative blogger criticized, using examples of left-leaning blogger reactions to the shooting), we should be clear that a mentally-ill, lone gunman should not be heralded as the vanguard of a trend to roll back movements for social justice. No one should want to have him as an icon or a hero.

However, the "Shadowboxing" blog on the madison.com website did point out that we don't hear the word "terrorist" much in media discussions about the shooting. But as with our current "war on terror," these kinds of violent acts come from disempowered people. Violence happens when people are desperate and run out of options. It doesn't matter if it is an individual who feels he has no economic support and lashes out with a gun, or a band of rebels who do not have a sanctioned army and express their lack of power by bombing an embassy.

Reading the news everyday, even the forum posts written by similar frustrated people, one might wonder if we as a people will ever learn from these examples. Employing the irresponsible use of the rhetoric of violence only inspires the disempowered to take extreme actions.

The only answer is in maintaining a healthy democracy. In a healthy democratic society, people have a voice and an education and can get help when they need it. We will continue to work to maintain our democratic process as outlined in our Constitution. We will continue to work for equality and freedom. But while we do this work, I hope we can all raise the level of the debate beyond violent rhetoric or the temptation to vilify those who do not agree with our ideas.

Simply, the best way to fight this particular war on terror is through ensuring our collective power and the maintenance of our democracy.


There will be a community vigil at the First Unitarian Society in Madison, WI to recognize this tragedy
When: Wednesday, July 30, 5:30 p.m.
Where: First Unitarian Society, 900 University Bay Dr.
Web: http://www.fusmadison.org/
From FUS: As many of you are aware, 2 people were killed and 7 others injured at an intergenerational worship service at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee on Sunday morning. There will be a Memorial Vigil for these members of our larger Unitarian Universalist community on Wednesday, July 30 at 5:30 p.m. in the First Unitarian Society Auditorium. This will be a time to reflect, to mourn and to share feelings about this tragic event.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Impeachment and the Constitution, fish and justice, voting rights and more

Here's the news round up for today...

Constitutional Issues
Check out Tammy Baldwin's statement on why she thinks impeachment is a valid step. Whether or not you think impeachment is worth the time and energy, her comments outline all of the Constitutional concerns of the Bush presidency. The national ACLU responded to the committee hearings with a statment on why expanding Presidential powers throws our democracy off balance.

Environmental Justice
When an environmental hazard disproportionately affects people of color, the worlds of environmental protection and fighting for equality collide. Such is the case with the work of the Madison Environmental Justice Organization. MEJO just put out their survey of folks who fish in local waters which offers the numbers behind the faces of people who fish for food (not just for fun). The study underscores why we should first post signs with health warnings around area lakes, and second work to clean up our lakes for everyone to enjoy.

State Legislature
From the do-nothing legislature to the blame-the-other-guy strategy, here's a commentary about what to expect in the WI state election season.

Voting Rights
Here's what happened at the Protect Wisconsin's Vote Education Summit on Thursday. A panel talked about important voting rights trends to watch out for including voter suppression, the myth of voter fraud, ex-offender re-enfranchisement, the pitfalls of voter ID, the importance of preserving same day registration in Wisconsin, the accessibility of polls to those with disabilities, and bilingual barriers. The evening also featured short films and the launch of a website complete with information and resources for voters at www.ProtectWisconsinsVote.org.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Why yes, we DO have a minute for Civil Liberties

Do you have a minute for Civil Liberties?
That's a question that might be asked of you on State Street or around Madison this summer. The ACLU canvass has come to town! Young activists are asking this question to bring civil liberties awareness to the streets. If you spot one of the ACLU-shirted folks with clipboards, say hello! They can also tell you about an easy way to support the ACLU through monthly donations. They will love to meet our members too.

Education
Here's a story that has been bouncing around print and radio a lot in the past day or two. A UW study shows little difference between girls/boys math scores, but upon further reading the story is really about providing more evidence of why No Child Left Behind doesn't work. Perhaps with this study though, we will stop hearing about the so-called need for sex-segregated classrooms.

In other quasi-education news, did you know that there is going to be a movie about Brown vs. Board of Education? The landmark case that showed the unconstitutionality of school segregation will be a feature film starring dreamboat Toby Maguire. As if Constitutional lawyers weren't sigh-worthy enough in real life...

LGBT Rights
It's time to repeal "Don't Ask Don't Tell." This ACLU blog cites polls that show how the public's support for lifting the flawed policy is growing. There is also an action link for voters to tell Congress what they think. There is also an op-ed in the Cap Times today that insists our very safety depends on gays and lesbians and the government has wasted millions of dollars in trying to purge them from the military. The author also looks to the example of civil-rights era school integration of a time when change first came with some backlash but ultimately led to greater understanding.

Privacy
Here's another story on border searches of laptops and electronics. While border patrol insists they are following the rules, American citizens of Middle Eastern descent feel their searches are racially targeted. There is a nod at the end of the article to Wisconsin Senator Feingold's action on this issue.

Check out this community event...

Community Forum: Dane County Coalition to Fight Poverty
When: Wednesday, Aug. 6th, 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.
Where: First United Methodist Church, 203 Wisconsin Ave., Madison
The Dane County Coalition to Fight Homelessness and End Poverty will hold a follow-up to it's community forum held in June. The event will be an interactive evening designed to increase the individual's understanding of the barriers facing those who are homeless in our community, as well as a greater understanding of the shelter system. The Coalition will also discuss action steps to address homelessness in our community. A light dinner will be provided and the event is free and open to the public, however registration is requested. To register please contact Linda at Madison-area Urban Ministry at 256-0906 or linda@emum.org.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tell Congress to reject the Bush/Mukasey plan to subvert the Constitution

A word from the national ACLU...

Here they go again. On Monday, Bush’s Attorney General, Michael Mukasey, called on Congress to take dramatic steps to subvert the Constitution.

Mukasey is demanding that Congress issue a new declaration of war that would make the entire globe -- including the United States itself -- a “battlefield” where the president decides who will be locked up forever.

Instead of ending the Bush system of injustice, he wants Congress to make it permanent.

Tell Congress to reject the Bush/Mukasey plan to subvert the Constitution.

Not only has Bush’s Attorney General called on Congress to issue a new declaration of war, but he is also asking Congress to:

1. Gut habeas corpus -- the freedom that protects people from being thrown in prison illegally -- with no help, no end in sight and no due process.

2. Cover up the Bush administration’s systemic torture and abuse of detainees. Judges would not be allowed to see evidence of torture and abuse and would instead simply have to trust that a president is holding the right people as ”enemy combatants.”

With only five weeks left in the congressional schedule and only six months left in the Bush presidency, Mukasey’s power grab should be laughed out of town. But, given this Congress’ track record, the Mukasey proposal is no laughing matter.

Too many times, we’ve seen Congress cave in to the most outrageous Bush demands for out-of-control powers: The Patriot Act. National Security Letters. The Military Commissions Act. The Protect America Act. And, most recently, the congressional sell-out on FISA.

Four times the Supreme Court has rejected the Bush administration’s efforts to design a war on terror system of injustice that defies the Constitution and mocks the rule of law. In the past, the administration has responded, not by respecting the Constitution, but by counting on Congress to legitimize its indefensible conduct.

There is no way we can let that happen this time. Even as the House Judiciary Committee investigates whether high-level Bush White House officials may have committed crimes of torture and abuse, the Bush administration has the arrogance to ask Congress to give it the power to detain people without trial and hide torture and abuse from the courts.

We can’t take for granted that Congress will reject the Bush/Mukasey plan. We have to meet this outrageous proposal with an immediate wall of protest that says to Congress: “Don’t you dare.”

I urge you to join defenders of freedom all across the country in raising your voice against Attorney General Mukasey’s dangerous proposal.

Thanks for speaking out,
Caroline Fredrickson, Director
ACLU Washington Legislative Office

P.S. You can read a blog post from Christopher Anders, ACLU Seinor Legislative Counsel, on the Bush/Mukasey plan to subvert the Constitution.

Monday, July 21, 2008

More legal observer trainings scheduled, attitudes about race and the election and more

Here's the news round up for today and an announcement about a great opportunity to volunteer for the ACLU and have a direct impact on civil liberties in Madison.

Protest Rights/Free Speech
Reminder: the next ACLU of Wisconsin Madison Area Legal Observer training is coming up on Thursday!

These free workshops are for anyone who wants to defend free speech and assembly by becoming a volunteer legal observer for the ACLU of Wisconsin. Volunteers only have to participate in one workshop to be trained. Bilingual volunteers are especially encouraged to get involved.

Thursday, July 24th - 6-8pm; Madison Public Library, Central (downtown) location, 2nd floor, room 202

Monday, August 18th - 6-8pm; Madison Public Library, Central (downtown) location, 2nd floor, room 204

RSVPs required: email sharbaugh@aclu-wi.org or call (608) 469-5540 if you plan on attending a workshop. Please forward this announcement to friends who are also interested in supporting everyone’s right (even if not always the content) of people’s right to freedom of speech, assembly and protest.

What Are Legal Observers?
Legal Observers are trained volunteers who are legal witnesses to political demonstrations and who document the events of public protests, including any incidents of police misconduct or violations of the rights of protesters. Legal Observers are committed to defending free speech in a way that is as objective as possible so that their documentation of public protests can be used as evidence if police misconduct or obstructions to Constitutionally-protected free speech are challenged in court. As a Legal Observer, volunteers can commit to being among others who are free speech defenders, but also aren’t expected to be at every rally – volunteers pick which protests to observe with neutrality and can choose not to volunteer at protests where they wish to be participants.

Speaking of protest...
Did anyone catch the Madtown Liberty Players at the Farmers Market this weekend? They did a skit on wiretapping which has been recently amended: the updated skit shows the now-legal wiretapping occurring with the aid of a democratic donkey.


In the skit, a puppet representing a spying Bush eavesdrops on Franklin and Jefferson's communications about how people who give up some liberty for a little security deserve neither.


Sadly, the street theater skit is more relevant than ever.

Immigrant Rights
Here is an interesting LA Times feature about the anxiety undocumented students feel about getting their education, but remaining "illegal" after they graduate. Courts ruled that public schools can offer education to children of undocumented immigrants (and recent grants such as the ones to the Wisconsin Department of PUblic Instruction go to teaching English and culture to immigrant children), but higher education continues to be either a haven or out of reach.

Racial Justice
If anyone still doubts that race will play a factor in the 2008 elections, check out this story about the results of a UW-Madison PolySci/WisPolitics poll. Note that the respondents to the survey were mostly white making it more of an example about the motivations they feel on the issue, rather than the opinions of people of color in Wisconsin as they look to November.

Voting Rights
WI statewide voter database is still working out kinks. The expensive Accenture database is supposed to be a system to ensure that properly registered voters are identified at the polls, but flaws in the system still exist and the potential for non-matches can be connected to common errors. All the more reason to register early and get a confirmation before you get to the polls.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Voting rights summit scheduled for Milwaukee

Election Protection Expert Sheila Cochran and
The Institute for One Wisconsin invite you to participate in:



PROTECT WISCONSIN’S VOTE
EDUCATION SUMMIT


Thursday, July 24 from 5:30pm to 8:00pm
The Times Theater, 5906 W. Vliet Street
Milwaukee, WI 53208


The Protect Wisconsin’s Vote Education Summit will feature a lively panel discussion on:
♦ Voter Suppression
♦ The Myth of Voter Fraud
♦ Felon Re-Enfranchisement
♦ Bilingual Barriers
♦ Accessibility at Polls
♦ Pitfalls of Voter ID
♦ Same Day Registration

Featuring: Short films on voter rights by Milwaukee's MATA Media and excerpts from the film Uncounted. Refreshments Provided

***For more information please call 414.220.9250***

www.PROTECTWISCONSINSVOTE.ORG


Event partner Organizations: Milwaukee Area Labor Council, Voces de la Frontera, ACLU of Wisconsin, Disability Rights Wisconsin, and League of Women Voters of Wisconsin

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If you would like to join the growing list of organizations and individuals committed to restoring the vote in Wisconsin, email rcrawford@aclu-wi.org for more information!

Restore the Vote Wisconsin Wisconsin coalition members will be actively engaged in public education on: the issue of felon enfranchisement statewide, current laws for the 2008 election, Voting While Incarcerated program for incarcerated individuals who are not felons (misdemeanants, awaiting trial or sentencing), and public education on the legislation currently proposed in Wisconsin.

Organizations that have joined the coalition include: ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation, ACLU Racial Justice Project, 9 to 5 National Association of Working Women, NAACP – Milwaukee Branch, NAACP-Racine Branch, NAACP – Wisconsin State Office, Citizen Action of Milwaukee, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, Campaign Against Violence, Grassroots Northshore, Wisconsin Women’s Network-Women in Prison Task Force, ACORN-Wisconsin, SEIU-AFRAM and Voces de la Frontera, Liberty Tree Foundation, Veterans for Peace-local 102 (Cudahy), League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, Faith Community Workers for Justice (a project of the WI AFL-CIO), Citizen Action of Milwaukee – Faith-based Caucus, WI-CURE (WI-Citizens United to Rehabilitate Errants), Institute for One Wisconsin, Voices Beyond Bars a project of Madison area Urban Ministries, Project Return, Racine Dominican Justice and Rights Commission, The Sentencing Project, National Black Police Association, Urban Underground, Milwaukee LGBT Community Center, National Lawyers Guild-Milwaukee Chapter, Vessels of God, American Associate of Probation and Parole Officers, Community Connections Wisconsin, Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, Peace Education Project of Peace Action-Wisconsin and WISDOM.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Restore the Vote WI NOW! coalition members will be actively engaged in public education on: the issue of felon enfranchisement statewide, current laws for the 2008 election, Voting While Incarcerated program for incarcerated individuals who are not felons (misdemeanants, awaiting trial or sentencing), and public education on the legislation currently proposed in Wisconsin and direct action lobbying with legislators to advance the legislation in the WI State Assembly and State Senate with a goal to have it passed in both houses and signed by the WI governor by the end of the 2010 session.

Organizations that have joined the coalition include: ACLU of Wisconsin, ACLU Racial Justice Project, 9 to 5 National Association of Working Women, NAACP – Milwaukee Branch, NAACP-Racine Branch, NAACP – Wisconsin State Office, Citizen Action of Milwaukee, Good Jobs and Livable Neighborhoods Coalition, One Wisconsin Now, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, Campaign Against Violence, Grassroots Northshore, ACORN-Wisconsin, SEIU-AFRAM, Liberty Tree Foundation, Faith Community Workers for Justice (a project of the WI AFL-CIO), Center Advocates, National Lawyers Guild-Milwaukee Chapter, American Associate of Probation and Parole Officers, Community Connections, Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, Madison area Urban Ministries, Project Return, Community Connections and Peace Action-Wisconsin

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Data collection on WI voting admin, new FISA law as 4th amendment insult and ACLU on The Mic

Here are a couple of tidbits for today...

In a direct critique of Senator Obama's FISA vote, Truthout's Director Marc Ash writes, "The problem is that what was at stake in the FISA legislation vote was more than a political ideal; it was the rule of law. You ratified an unconstitutional and egregious degradation of the Fourth Amendment. That won't go away easily. The United States's Constitution is not merely the security blanket for 'civil liberties groups.' It is the birthright of all Americans. It is our national treasure... The alternative to the rule of law is the law of rule."

Did you know that of about 9000 election clerks nationwide, about 2000 are in Wisconsin? Our highly decentralized voting administration system is great for localized registration and voting, yet a challenge to get a clear picture of whether or not we have uniformity in the system. Check out this story about data that will be collected this fall on how we do elections.

And check out the Madison Area ACLU Community Advocate Stacy Harbaugh on the progressive radio morning show yesterday morning:

video

Friday, July 11, 2008

Defend free speech - become a legal observer

Legal Observer Trainings Scheduled for Summer!

The following free workshops are for anyone who wants to defend free speech and assembly by becoming a volunteer legal observer for the ACLU of Wisconsin. Three workshops are offered this summer: volunteers only have to participate in one workshop to be trained. Bilingual volunteers are especially encouraged to get involved.

Monday, July 14th – 6-8pm; Madison Public Library, Central (downtown) location, 2nd floor, room 202 - WORKSHOP FULL!

Thursday, July 24th - 6-8pm; Madison Public Library, Central (downtown) location, 2nd floor, room 202

Monday, August 18th - 6-8pm; Madison Public Library, Central (downtown) location, 2nd floor, room 204

RSVP required: email the Madison Area Office or call (608) 469-5540 if you plan on attending a workshop. Please forward this announcement to friends who are also interested in supporting everyone’s right (even if not always the content) of people’s right to freedom of speech, assembly and protest.

For more on the ACLU of Wisconsin’s legal observer program and for pictures of observers in action, visit our blog entry on a recent downtown protest.

What Are Legal Observers?
Legal Observers are trained volunteers who are legal witnesses to political demonstrations and who document the events of public protests, including any incidents of police misconduct or violations of the rights of protesters. Legal Observers are committed to defending free speech in a way that is as objective as possible so that their documentation of public protests can be used as evidence if police misconduct or obstructions to Constitutionally-protected free speech are challenged in court. As a Legal Observer, volunteers can commit to being among others who are free speech defenders, but also aren’t expected to be at every rally – volunteers pick which protests to observe with neutrality and can choose not to volunteer at protests where they wish to be participants.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

They failed democracy, so we're suing

From the national ACLU on the FISA vote:
Yesterday, elected officials in Washington sold out the Constitution -- again.

Cowed by the Bush administration’s pre-election scare tactics, the Senate passed freedom-stealing FISA legislation undermining your Fourth Amendment rights.

This is not a “compromise,” as some in Congress would have us believe. The only thing they compromised is your freedom. Become an ACLU monthly donor, and stand up for your rights.

The FISA Amendments Act allows for mass, untargeted and warrantless surveillance of all communications coming into and out of the United States. And to top it off, it hands immunity to telecom companies for their role in domestic spying. This means your phone calls can be tapped and emails read with virtually no proof of threat, and there's no chance to learn how the telecoms invaded your privacy.

It’s outrageous, unconstitutional and un-American. That’s why the ACLU is prepared to challenge this unconstitutional law the moment President Bush signs it.

Now is an especially important time for you to act. Not only can you help fund essential work fighting this unconstitutional legislation but your decision to make a monthly pledge can move us a giant step closer to our target of 2,000 new monthly supporters this month. If we reach that goal by July 31st, the ACLU will earn a $100,000 Matching Gift further strengthening our efforts to stand up for freedom as no other organization in America can.

As a Guardian of Liberty, you can join tens of thousands of your fellow citizens in donating a small amount each month to help the ACLU’s critical work in defense of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Donate now to help the ACLU fight for freedom and move closer to our $100,000 Matching Gift goal.

In one fell swoop, Congress has not only legalized the Bush administration’s secret NSA spying program, it has given the government even more power to listen to our phone calls and read our emails than even the Bush administration illegally claimed for itself under its secret program. And, by granting telecoms immunity, it has greatly harmed the chances of ever learning the extent of the administration’s lawless actions.

While politicians lack resolve, the ACLU and its supporters do not. Stand with the ACLU by becoming a monthly supporter of the ACLU today.

In defense of freedom,
Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director
ACLU

And in other news...
We are all getting really used to showing our ID for everything these days, yes? Now people buying alcohol near the UW campus will be asked to scan their drivers licenses for authenticity verification. Getting fake IDs off the street is a great thing, but using drivers licenses for non-driving purposes is on the rise.

Want the update on where Wisconsin legislators stand on reproductive rights issues? NARAL just issued their scorecard.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

FISA votes fail, WI state GOP resignation letter cites civil liberties concerns, ACLU LGBT event

In the news...
Wisconsin State Rep. Jeff Wood's GOP party resignation letter could be a call to action on civil liberties protections.

Watch the headlines for the results of the FISA bill vote in the US Senate - while Senator Kohl didn't support Feingold's amendment that would have stripped retroactive immunity for telecoms for handing over phone records, both Wisconsin Senators voted yes on the failed Bingaman's amendment that would have held off suits until an Inspector General's report on the President's warrantless wiretapping program was completed. Today, the US Senate failed the American public in the effort to protect privacy and transparency in our government. For more updates on the FISA issue, visit the national ACLU website.


And for our Milwaukee area readers...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

WORT today! National ACLU Legislative Director talks about taking action on FISA

Need the update on issues regarding domestic spying, telecom immunity and what we can do to clean up the FISA mess? Tune into WORT-FM community radio today (Tuesday) at noon to get the scoop from Caroline Fredrickson, National ACLU Legislative Director.

Chris Dols will host this episode of A Public Affair with Fredrickson to ask her more about the FISA Amendments Act, which the US Senate will more than likely be passing today and sending to Bush to sign into law. The bill guts the oversight authority of the FISA Court which was set up to limit the government's spying in the aftermath of the FBI's Counter Intelligence Programs (COINTELPRO) and Watergate.

Madison folks can tune into 89.9 on their dials or anyone can stream the show live at noon, central time. Please call in with your questions.

Today, Fredrickson grilled the Washington Post about their support for the flawed FISA bill.

p.s. Reading this blog post too late? You can still hear the interview over the next two weeks on WORT's archive. Look for June 8th's A Public Affair show for download or listen.

Monday, July 7, 2008

FISA action alert, news on privacy, voting rights

Privacy
Viacom goes after illegal posts to YouTube, but judge orders Google/YouTube to turn over ALL user IDs and IP addresses. If a judge demanded all of the names of people who had checked out any video in our public library, citizens would be mad as hell. Google acquired YouTube at the end of 2006.


Voting Rights
Curious about how redistricting impacts voters decisions? Not a fancy Sociologist? Population numbers give you a headache? Don't fear! Our friends at the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign passed along a link to the new Brennan Center's Citizen's Guide to Redistricting. You can download the PDF for the primer on how lines are drawn, how they impact an election and suggestions for reform that emphasize equality and transparency. You can also check out what the ACLU has done on this issue and more on voting rights in an episode of the first season of the Freedom Files.

Another article about the myth of voter fraud. This one points out the idea that "fighting voter fraud" is code for "not letting black people vote." While I agree that the perpetuation of myths around so-called voter fraud has consequences in our continued discussion about politics and race, it is always a shame when the simple, Constitutionally-granted right to vote is made into a partisan issue. All citizens have the right to vote. Period.


Domestic Spying
Here is an article from the Denver Post on a trend of local eyes doing federal domestic spying work. Wisconsin has also deployed "Terrorism Liaison Officers" to be trained to spot suspicious behavior. Civil liberties and privacy concerns are obvious - legal behavior of citizens could be misinterpreted as criminal or pre-criminal acts and ensnare innocent people in this domestic spy game.


And a word from the national ACLU on FISA:
On Tuesday, July 8th, the Senate will consider an unconstitutional FISA bill that lets lawbreaking phone companies off the hook.

It is vital you contact your senators today and ask them to vote against this bill. Demand they protect your privacy and the rule of law.

This July 8, senators will make a crucial decision: whether or not to eviscerate our treasured right to privacy in our own homes and let lawbreaking telecom companies off the hook for handing over private information without a warrant.

The bottom line is that no president should have the power to monitor the phones and emails of Americans without getting a warrant. And no president should be given the power to pardon companies that broke the law.

Contact your senators today. Tell them what the 4th of July means to you and ask them to defend your freedom by opposing the unconstitutional FISA bill.

Sincerely,
Caroline Fredrickson, Director
ACLU Washington Legislative Office
P.S. Some senators, like Chris Dodd and Russ Feingold, are trying to improve this horrible legislation. And while we greatly appreciate these valiant efforts, these efforts should not -- and will not -- provide political cover for any senator who votes ‘yes’ on a final bill with warrantless wiretapping or immunity for telecommunications companies that broke the law. Let your senators know the bottom line: no bill with warrantless wiretapping or telecom immunity.

Check out a commentary from Amy Goodman on what Dodd and Feingold are doing and how other Senators' distancing themselves from controversial issues won't work in the long run.

As always, to get the scoop on national issues like restoring real FISA protections and Habeus Corpus, closing Guantanamo and stopping rendition and torture, visit the national ACLU website.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Privacy in the news, ACLU is "blog famous"

Welcome back Cap City Liberty readers! The Madison Area Office is happily back in gear for the summer, organizing legal observer trainings and working with our fabulous interns on our Know Your Rights workshop development. Read on for today's news in review, upcoming events and more.

While this isn't about governmental intrusion in our privacy, this story is too interesting to ignore. A Wisconsin Court of Appeals will be hearing a case about a guy who videotaped his girlfriend naked without her knowledge or permission. The article provides some thought-provoking dialogue about what a reasonable expectation of privacy means when it gets tangled in legal precident and language.

Update on the electronics at the boarder issue. This article shows again that racism and bigotry can be a replacement for "reasonable suspicion."

Here's a shameless ACLU plug from the Canadian feminist blog, ShamelessMag.com! The ACLU of Wisconsin got a mention by a young woman who I believe is the same perosn who asked the ACLU's national Executive Director Anthony Romero, a good question at the national ACLU conference about youth involvement in activism and the ACLU's work on Native (north)American rights. Go girl! Check out the Cap City Liberty Blog entries from early June to read more about our group trip to DC.

The second season of the Freedom Files is out! Check out the previews at http://aclu.tv/ and you can see more about important issues the ACLU is working on nationally. The Freedom Files television series draws on the power of true stories to highlight vital civil liberties issues of our time and inspire viewers to take action. These half-hour documentaries feature the firsthand accounts of real people who have taken on the powers that be, often at great risk to themselves, in order to preserve their precious constitutional rights. Drop us a line at the ACLU of Wisconsin Madison Area Office if you would like to know more about the Freedom Files or have ideas for screening them for free in our community.

Event: Wednesday, July 2nd 7:00 p.m.
Escape Java Joint (916 Williamson St.)
- Comedian Will Durst, last year's entertainment at the ACLU of Wisconsin's Bill of Rights event, is coming to Madison tomorrow night! -
The All-American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing: Common Sense Rantings from a Raging Moderate – an evening with political satirist, Will Durst, just in time for the July Fourth Holiday! Join Rainbow Bookstore and the Progressive Magazine in welcoming to Madison a comic with a far ranging monologue on the State of Our Union and provocative words of wisdom on the absurdities of the established order.