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Archive for the ‘Outrage’ Category

Is the Constitution Dead in Southampton?

Posted by pbsweeney on November 25, 2006

Last week’s Southampton Press carried a front page story that proudly announced that the Village would adopt a resolution to permit groups involved as plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit against the Village, to march in future Fourth of July parades without issue. The suit came about because various local groups opposed to the war in Iraq had not been issued permits to march in the 2006 parade. The committee that runs the parade for the Village had decided that peace banners were inappropriate to the spirit of the day, a puzzling decision for a celebration of our independence and constitutionally provided freedoms.

The groups, with the help of attorney Jim Henry of Sag Harbor, rushed to the courthouse at the end of the day on the Friday before the parade and managed to get a federal judge to consider that the issue was serious enough to open the court for a special session on July third. After a hastily convened teleconference between the parties, the judge issued an order that basically reaffirmed the groups’ constitutional rights, permitting them to march with their banners in the parade. What a concept!

The lawsuit continues. In an end run move, the Village has adopted the above-mentioned resolution, but in doing so has once again attempted to define who may participate in the parade and with what kind of speech. The guarantee of free speech and participation only applies to the plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit, not to the rest of us, thus creating a special class of people with a pre-determined “privilege” to a constitutional right.

This writer does not get it. How is it that a municipality is able to imagine it may make such a determination? Village officials are concerned that anyone might then find a place in the parade, even neo-nazis for example. They claim that they are just trying to preserve the spirit of a family event. Again, this issue has been ruled upon in the courts ad nauseum. Here’s hoping that the lesson to our children on Independence Day will be one of true citizenship with constitutionally guaranteed rights for all, not just those whom the Village of Southampton deems appropriate and deserving.

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Posted in Ethics, Federal Spotlight, Law, Local Cases of Interest, News, Outrage | 1 Comment »

Pentagon Surveillance of Local Peace Groups

Posted by pbsweeney on October 15, 2006

This came in from the ACLU news feed. Smile, you’re in a Pentagon anti-terrorism database:

Defense Department Tracked Quakers, Student Groups

NEW YORK — “Documents released today by the American Civil Liberties Union reveal new details of Pentagon surveillance of Americans opposed to the Iraq war, including Quakers and student groups. The documents show that the Pentagon was keeping tabs on non-violent protesters by collecting information and storing it in a military anti-terrorism database.

“There is simply no reason why the United States military should be monitoring the peaceful activities of American citizens who oppose U.S. war policies,” said ACLU attorney Ben Wizner. “When information about non-violent protest activity is included in a military anti-terrorism database, all Americans should be concerned about the unchecked authority this administration has seized in the name of fighting terrorism.”

The documents come in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the ACLU earlier this year after evidence surfaced that the Pentagon was secretly conducting surveillance of protest activities, anti-war organizations and groups opposed to military recruitment policies. The Pentagon shared the information with other government agencies through the Threat and Local Observation Notice (TALON) database.”

Click here for the balance of the article. The actual details of various surveillance activities as presented in these retrieved documents are really fascinating. AND, you can download copies of the documents that the ACLU obtained on three local investigations. There seems to be no doubt in the government’s mind that anyone who carries a sign that says “Stop the War” is a potential terrorist. Thank you, Mr. Rumsfeld, for devoting our tax dollars to protecting us from Quakers, Unitarians, and college kids. Just don’t forget to strip search these people before they get on a plane.

Posted in Federal Spotlight, Law, Local Cases of Interest, News, Outrage, Politics | Leave a Comment »