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Liberties Lost Since 9/11

By       Message WILLIAM FISHER     Permalink
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- the notoriously error-ridden "watch lists" and "no fly" lists which have thrown certain innocent individuals into a Kafkaesque Hell from which there's no easy escape, setting a precedent for further pernicious "government by watch-list" that extra-legally allocates benefits and burdens,


- the TSA bodyscanners, which don't work to detect the plastic explosives which were their supposed reason for being, as noted by sources as diverse as the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office, and CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta -- but have been shown to pose risks to privacy and health, disproportionately burdening vulnerable populations including children, the elderly, religious objectors, and the immune-compromised who risk serious harm from the cumulative effects of long-term radiation exposure,

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- the reality of profiling on racial, religious, ethnic, and national origin grounds, despite official rhetoric and policies against it, facilitated by reliance on a (likely unconstitutional) broad exception relating to national security and border-related investigations,


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- the risk that anyone could be subject to the military commissions regime, a novel secondary justice system in which the executive branch is judge, jury, and executioner and in which a person may find themselves arbitrarily placed without principled distinction simply because they've been labeled a "terrorist" or "enemy combatant" (thus US citizen Jose Padilla was shifted at the last minute from the military to the civilian regime after years of being imprisoned, tortured, and denied counsel as an "enemy combatant," and shoe bomber Richard Reid was tried in civilian court 400 other terrorists, but others find themselves subjected to the lower evidentiary and justice standards of the military regime, without reasoned explanation),


- Assassination (defenders call it legal "targeted killing") even of US citizens off the battlefield, without due process of law, without lawyers or the right to confront the evidence or witnesses against them, without the right to trial by jury or any of the other protections guaranteed by the US Constitution.


Haven't we also experienced specific infringements of fundamental rights crucial to our national identity and fundamental values?

"We certainly have. Even a cursory review of the Constitutional protections that have been compromised illustrates the point. For example:

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- The First Amendment rights of freedom of speech, press, association, assembly, religion, and petitioning government for redress of grievances, all newly under pressure from widespread warrantless surveillance, secret datamining of private data, surreptitious infiltration of peaceful protest and solidarity groups, President Obama's increased prosecution of supposedly protected whistleblowers and leakers, and changes in the law allowing criminalization and chilling of such speech and association promoting peace and human rights under the Patriot Act's "material support" provision (which criminalized "expert advice and assistance" and was upheld in the US Supreme Court's closely divided, erroneous decision Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project),


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William Fisher has managed economic development programs in the Middle East and elsewhere for the US State Department and the US Agency for International Development. He served in the international affairs area in the Kennedy Administration and now (more...)

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