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Tag: civil liberties

San Francisco Police Pull Out of FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force

ca_-_san_francisco_policeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

San Francisco police are pulling out of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force as the city continues to distance itself from the Trump administration.

Civil liberty leaders have long criticized the collaboration with the FBI because the task force authorized police to gather intelligence on people engaging in protests and religious services, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. 

Police suggested they stopped participating in the task force because the memorandum of understanding was set to expire.

“We are committed to community policing,” Deputy Chief Michael Redmond said at Wednesday’s Police Commission meeting. “We want to work collaboratively with the stakeholders when the work begins on the general orders.”

Detroit News: Justice Department Wants to Limit Our Fourth Amendment Rights

By The Detroit News
Editorial Board

If Americans had no civil liberties, it would be a snap to keep the country safe and secure. Police states are highly effective at dissuading criminal activity and rooting out threats.

But as inconvenient as it often is for law enforcement, we do have a Bill of Rights that guarantees protections and procedures aimed at keeping us free, as well as safe.

Unfortunately, in recent years, many Americans have been too willing to forfeit those rights in the name of battling perceived existential threats, most notably drugs and terrorism. And federal agencies are all too keen about snatching bits and pieces of our freedoms to make it easier for them to do their jobs without the bother of adhering to the Constitution.

The latest example comes from the Justice Department, which has slipped a major intrusion on the Fourth Amendment into nearly 400 pages of arcane rule changes being considered by a judicial committee.

Federal prosecutors want to make it easier to find and hack into computers being used for cyber crimes, including child pornography and identity theft.

The Fourth Amendment limits property search warrants to geographical areas in which the signing judge has jurisdiction. The government claims the rules are no longer adequate in an era when cyber criminals can use their computers to not only hide their identity, but their whereabouts as well.

The proposed changes would allow judges in a district “where activities related to a crime” have occurred to issue a warrant. That would allow prosecutors to search computers currently outside their reach.

Civil libertarians are rightly concerned that the language of the proposal would sidestep the constitutional requirement that warrants be specific about who and what is being targeted by a search.

John Doar, a civil rights fighter for Justice Department in 1960s, dies at 92

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Few people in law enforcement played as key a role as John Doar in protecting civil liberties of African Americans.

A top civil rights lawyer for the Justice Department in the 1960s, Doar died Tuesday, the Associated Press reports.

He was 92 and had congestive heart failure in New York.

Doar served as a civil rights lawyer from 1960-67 and rose assistant attorney general in charge of the department’s Civil Rights Division.

One of Doar’s most memorable times was escorting James Meredith onto the campus of the University of Mississippi when the governor and angry crowd tried to maintain segregation at the school.

Doar also was the lead prosecutor in the successful case against white thugs who killed three civil rights workers.

“This was the first time that white persons were convicted for violent crimes against blacks in Mississippi. It was a historic verdict,” Doar said in a 2009 C-SPAN interview.

Attorney General Eric Holder described Doar in a statement as a “giant in the history of the rights movement” as well as “a personal hero and an embodiment of what it means to be a public servant.” President Barack Obama described him as “one of the bravest American lawyers of his or any era.”

Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole to Step Down, Take Job in Private Sector

Dep. Atty. Gen. James Cole/doj photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department is about to lose another high-ranking officials.

Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, second-in-command, announced Thursday that he’s taking a job in the private sector, the Washington Post reports.

The Post said possible successors include Sally Quillian Yates, who is U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, and Loretta E. Lynch, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

Cole’s job was to run the Justice Department’s daily operations.

Cole spoke to the Washington Post about the difficulties of balancing security with civil liberties.

“If you just want to keep people safe and you’re willing to sacrifice people’s constitutional rights and their civil liberties, that’s not so hard,” he said.

“If you just want to protect people’s constitutional rights and their civil liberties and you’re willing to sacrifice their safety, that’s not so hard either,” Cole said. “The hard part is to do them both.”

Privacy Groups Want Audit of Facial Recognition Technology Before Database Goes Live

From ivs-biometrics.com

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

As the FBI prepares to begin using a controversial facial recognition system later this year, more than 30 privacy groups are urging the Justice Department to conduct a long-pledged audit of the database, the National Journal reports.

Groups are worried about the privacy of American citizens and said the lack of oversight “raises serious privacy and civil-liberty concerns,” according to a joint letter sent Tuesday to Attorney General Eric Holder.

“The capacity of the FBI to collect and retain information, even on innocent Americans, has grown exponentially,” the letter reads. “It is essential for the American public to have a complete picture of all the programs and authorities the FBI uses to track our daily lives, and an understanding of how those programs affect our civil rights and civil liberties.”

The Next Generation Identification program includes a biometric database that scans irises, palm prints and faces.

“One of the risks here, without assessing the privacy considerations, is the prospect of mission creep with the use of biometric identifiers,” said Jeramie Scott, national security counsel with the Electronic Privacy Information Center, another of the letter’s signatories. “it’s been almost two years since the FBI said they were going to do an updated privacy assessment, and nothing has occurred.”

FBI’s Facial Recognition System Catches Criticism from Civil Liberties Advocates

From ivs-biometrics.com

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s plan to soon launch its facial recognition system has worried civil liberties advocates because the bureau won’t say whether it has any limits on its use.

The Huffington Post reports that the FBI plans to soon use 52 million photos in its biometric database, but where those photos came from and the accuracy of the facial recognition searches are unknown.

“There should be congressional oversight of this, and there should be rules,” said Jennifer Lynch, an Electronic Frontier Foundation staff attorney.
For example, Lynch asked, “How do you get your picture out of the database once it’s in there? And how do you even find out that it’s in there?”

The database, called the Next Generation Identification, is going to be shared with state and local agencies to help in investigations, the FBI said earlier.

The FBI said the database is a critical tool to preventing terrorism.

Jim Gilmore: Balancing Challenges of Homeland Security And Civil Liberities

By Jim Gilmore
The Washington Times

Our country is currently in a struggle between the need to protect our citizens from terrorism and the need to protect the civil liberties of our citizens. How can we do both while not sacrificing either?

During my five years as chairman of the National Commission on Homeland Security, we analyzed and debated issues of national security and presented our finding to the president and Congress, which became the framework for the Department of Homeland Security.

America must never make the mistake of sacrificing liberty for security. However, an equally severe mistake would be to give up the ability to track the enemy because of a fear of government. This duality of purpose demands oversight, not dismantling.

While our security focus has been primarily on non-state entities such as al Qaeda, the past several weeks in Ukraine have been a sobering reminder of the threat we face from state actors as well. The easiest way for such entities to circumvent our security is by revealing the tools we use in order to protect our country.

A perfect example of this are the crimes committed by Edward Snowden. Some would argue he is a patriot. I can tell you those people are dead wrong. Mr. Snowden swore an oath to protect his country and, in turn, was given the trust of America.

Sen. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat, said it best: “Edward Snowden is not a whistleblower worthy of protection, but a fugitive deserving of prosecution. He violated his sworn pledge to protect classified information. He jeopardized our national security. And he betrayed the trust of the American people. This man is no hero.”

Mr. Snowden’s traitorous act is a perfect example of the dual threat we face from state and non-state actors. His actions helped al Qaeda by revealing a program used to track terrorists, while at the same time giving the world’s largest bully a propaganda tool used to legitimize its actions.

Click here to read more.

Opinion: Comey Shows Fierce Independence But Supports Phone, Internet Sweeps

James Comey

Michael E. Schmidt
New York Times

President Obama’s nominee for F.B.I. director, James Comey, faced a mostly friendly Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, and he is almost assured confirmation given strong bipartisan support. But his tenure as deputy attorney general in the George W. Bush administration raises important questions about his commitment to civil liberties and his independence in an office that demands unstinting devotion to both principles. As has been made all too clear in recent weeks, the relationship between American citizens and the government’s law-enforcement and intelligence agencies remains deeply damaged.

A short version of Mr. Comey’s work in the Bush administration might run like this: He did several highly questionable things and one unquestionably good thing — his effort in 2004 to stop President Bush’s chief of staff and the White House counsel, who had skulked into the hospital room of the ailing attorney general, John Ashcroft, to wrest his signoff on the administration’s warrantless data collection program.