Thursday, June 24, 2004

Supreme Court Injustices

Dick Cheney can withhold papers from his 2001 Energy Task Force until after the election, the Supreme Court has ruled in a 7-2 decision.

"The president is not above the law, [Justice] Kennedy wrote, but there is a 'paramount necessity of protecting the executive branch from vexatious litigation that might distract it from the energetic performance of its constitutional duties.'"

Now remind me, didn't the same court rule that Bill Clinton was not too busy to face a civil suit during his term, on top of an investigation into his financial dealings before he became president...and now it's too "vexatious" for Cheney to cough up public information on how he spent the taxpayers' money?

If public information is the lifeblood of democracy, we've got hemophilia here, guys. Register. Vote. Save your country.

Next in the Fahrenheit 9/11 obstacle course: Federal Election Commission may prohibit any ads for the film mentioning Bush after July 30, while a Republican group claims the movie itself is "a two-hour political advertisement" and violates campaign law. I predict the more they try to hinder people from seeing this award-winning film, the greater the demand will be. Me, I already have a ticket for the opening here tomorrow night.

In better news, the Associated Press has sued under the Freedom of Information Act for a copy of Bush's personnel file stored on microfilm at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. THey have already been determined to be federal records, and the government has not complied with the request in the time allowed by law. It's good to see journalists using the tools available to enforce compliance with the FOIA law. Public information is the lifeblood of democracy.

The Project on Government Oversight has sued John Ashcroft over his reclassifying documents already in the public domain. The documents relate to a whistleblower's alegations of security lapses in the FBI's translator program.

And, the Senate voted to overturn recent Federal Communications Commission rules that would have made made it easier for media conglomerates to conglomerate even further.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Defense Department seeks Privacy Act exemption to facilite DoD spying within the U.S.

And, they are already doing it. "I felt like I was in 'Law & Order'," said one student after being grilled by one of the agents. The incident provoked a brief campus uproar, and the Army later admitted the agents had exceeded their authority.

They even seized the cat! Buffalo, N.Y., art professor faces federal prosecution under the PATRIOT Act for using petri dishes of harmless bacteria in art installations. It all started when his wife passed away.,1,4399087.story,12271,1236288,00.html

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Astroturf (Fake Grass Roots) Effort to Suppress Fahrenheit 9/11

Alternative Press Review got out there and dug up the skinny on a new partisan effort to keep Fahrenheit 9/11 off your local movie screens. Is this the greatest way to build demand for the film, or what?

Friday, June 11, 2004

The Day the Constitution Died?

"The Day the Constitution Died": Molly Ivins on the torture memos that Ashcroft has refused to give to the Judiciary Committe.

The memo is posted here:

A note of hope: Federal Election Assistance Commission wants electronic voting machine source code disclosed.

In a case testing a provision of the Patriot Act that makes it a crime to provide expert advice or assistance to terrorists, an Idaho jury acquitted a Saudi graduate student on charges that he used his computer expertise to help Muslim terrorists raise money and recruit followers. Attorneys for the Ph.D. candidate in computer science said that he had little to do with the creation of the material posted and that the material was protected by the First Amendment right to freedom of expression and not designed to raise money or recruit extremists.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Privacy Claimed As Privilege by Gov't Officials But Denied to Ordinary Citizens

American homebuyers are now defined as "financial institutions" so they can be routinely checked against "suspected terrorist" lists under the PATRIOT Act. There already been problems with a "no-fly" list. Will harmless citizens face another potential barrier to achieving the American dream?

Why public information matters: Justice Dept. releases more Enron tapes. Shocking contempt for the public.
The State Department admits misstating the number of terrorist attacks in 2003 in a report hailed by Administration officials as proving success in the "war on terror." In fact incidents probably have risen; State is revising the report.,1,7491026.story?coll=la-home-headlines

Wednesday, June 09, 2004


June 8 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, testifying before a congressional committee, refused to release or discuss memoranda that news reports say offered justification for torturing suspected terrorists. Two Democratic senators said Ashcroft's stance may constitute contempt of Congress, a federal crime.

"Orwell Rolls In His Grave"--a documentary. While "Fahrenheit 9/11" is getting far more publicity, this has great reviews too.

Lysenkoism taints U.S. scientific research: Scientific American.

The Republican Noise Machine: new book by David Brock. Will be curious to see if it covers the part of the machine that is inside government itself.

Two media organizations filed motions to quash subpoenas issued by a Patrick Fitzgerald, who is investigating the leak of Valerie Plame's identity.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has sharply limited the information he is willing to let Congress see on a controversial $23 billion deal for the Air Force to buy and lease 100 Boeing 767 aerial refueling tankers. Senators would have a window of 30 hours over five days to view the documents at a Pentagon facility and would be barred from copying them or taking notes, per Rumsfield. Senators McCain and Warner, both Republicans, object strongly.

Whistleblowing translator Sibel Edmonds seeks support as she prepares to fight Ashcroft's use of "State Secret Privilege" to quash 9/11 families' request for her testimony. Public asked to attend court hearing in D.C. on June 14.

And this is just a start.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Who I Am

In February 2004 I left my civil service career as communications director for a small Federal regulatory agency. I made this decision with difficulty and sadness. I had worked in the same agency for more than 25 years in both Republican and Democratic administrations. Our mission was like a part of myself, and many co-workers were like family. In the current administration, however, it became impossible to continue in this position. Our agency in its small way had become part of the Great Public Information Shutdown being engineered throughout many facets of our government today.

Public information is the lifeblood of democracy. This blog is an effort to chronicle just part of what has been happening to our First Amendment Rights, including freedom of speech, freedom of the press and public access to information. The more people who are awake to these dangers, the greater our hope of saving the America that we have known.