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Tag: editorial

NYT: Internet Users Should Be Alarmed by DOJ’s Pursuit of DreamHost Information

computer-photoBy Editorial Board
New York Times

Do you use the internet? Are you interested in politics? Do you value your privacy? If you answered yes, you should be alarmed by the shockingly broad search warrant sought by the Justice Department, and approved by a judge in Washington, D.C., last month, targeting DreamHost, an internet hosting company based in Los Angeles.

As DreamHost explained in a blog post on Monday, it hosts disruptj20.org, a website that helped organize anti-Trump protests on Inauguration Day, and posted pictures of those protests in the days after. There were large-scale protests across Washington on Jan. 20, most of which involved peaceful marches or sit-ins. But some people turned to violence, breaking store windows, setting fires, throwing rocks at police officers and, in one case, assaulting Richard Spencer, the white nationalist, during a television interview. More than 200 people have been charged with felony rioting.

As part of its continuing investigation, the Justice Department demanded that DreamHost turn over “all records or other information” relating to the site, which received more than 1.3 million requests to view its pages in six days after the inauguration. Those records include personal information like I.P. addresses, which identify a specific computer; data about which of the site’s pages a user viewed, and when; and the type of operating software on that person’s computer. Federal prosecutors are also seeking all emails, photos and other content sent to and from the site.

“That information could be used to identify any individuals who used this site to exercise and express political speech protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment,” DreamHost wrote in its blog post.

It doesn’t matter whether the visitor is suspected of participating in a crime, or is even known to have attended the protests. If someone clicked anywhere on the site from anywhere in the world, the government wants to know.

To read more click here. 

Times of Trenton: Trump’s Justice Department Erodes Constitutional Rights

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

By Editorial Board
Times of Trenton

“It tears at the fabric of our great nation and does not move us forward; it takes us backwards.”

With these terse words, more than 60 members of Congress – including half a dozen from New Jersey – summed up their dismay over a decision by the U.S. Department of Justice that does an enormous injustice to members of the LGBTQ community.

In a no-holds-barred letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the lawmakers expressed deep disappointment concerning a friend-of-the-court brief the department filed late last month in the case of Zarda v. Altitude Express.

In the brief, the nation’s top law-enforcement body claims that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect lesbians, gays or bisexual people from discrimination.

Not so fast, the letter writers argue. Not only is the Justice Department’s action contrary to existing law, they say forcefully, but it also violates the country’s basic ideals of liberty and justice for all.

The original lawsuit under review stems from 2010, when a skydiving instructor named Donald Zarda charged that a former employer, Altitude Express, Inc., violated the Civil Rights Act by discriminating against him because of his sexual orientation.

Star-Tribune: Combating Extremism Must Stay Priority After Homeland Security Resignation

homeland-security-sportsBy Editorial Board
Star-Tribune

The resignation of a top U.S. Department of Homeland Security official has left the agency without a strong, outspoken advocate for locally led efforts to combat homegrown terrorism, a threat that the weekend violence in Charlottesville, Va., put a disturbing spotlight on.

With federal support for these programs now uncertain, private nonprofits and the business community must step up to fill this leadership void.

George Selim, who resigned in late July, led Homeland Security’s Office of Community Partnerships and directed the agency’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) task force. His energetic leadership made him a familiar figure to Minnesota law enforcement authorities and others working here to thwart terror recruiters. Some of these have targeted young people in the state’s large Somali-American community.

Selim, who began his federal career during the George W. Bush administration, merits praise for embracing a more comprehensive approach to fighting extremism. In addition to intercepting recruits and prosecuting them, he argued that preventive measures are needed.

This pragmatic approach is built on the premise that those who put down roots and prosper are less likely to fall prey to recruiters’ deceptive promises. Social services programs that build strong families, as well efforts to “de-radicalize” those who get involved with extremists, are now a critical component of CVE strategy.

Under Selim’s leadership, the Office of Community Partnerships advocated for federal grants to local organizations and finally convinced Congress to appropriate the dollars. The agency awarded the first round of grants in 2016. Two Minnesota organizations received $770,000 in funding: the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and Heartland Democracy, a mentoring program for young people.

Unfortunately, it’s unclear if there will be a second round of grants. Selim’s departure raises troubling questions about CVE’s future. The CVE approach has been controversial in some circles because it’s sometimes deemed too soft an approach to terrorism. Other critics dislike that these dollars help immigrants, while others have wrongly contended that CVE shouldn’t encompass white supremacist groups inside U.S. borders.

To read more click here. 

Syracuse.com: Mr. President, Don’t Fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions

President Trump, via White House

President Trump, via White House

By Editorial Board
Syracuse.com

President Donald Trump’s public criticism of his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is not merely Trump being Trump. It is part of a campaign to undermine the independence of the Justice Department and lay the groundwork for the president to fire Independent Counsel Robert Mueller, the man in charge of investigating Russia’s meddling in the presidential election.

Don’t do it, Mr. President.

Mueller must finish his investigation. Any attempt to short-circuit it will lead the American people to conclude you have something to hide, and are willing to use the power of your office to hide it. They will not abide a president who puts himself above the law. Even a Congress led by the president’s own party would have no choice but to act.

Let Mueller be Mueller, Mr. President.

Who is he? A decorated Marine veteran of Vietnam; FBI director under two presidents, a Republican and a Democrat; architect of the agency’s terror-fighting mission; the man a former Justice Department colleague describes as “utterly incorruptible” and “ramrod straight in his integrity.” This was how he was described upon taking the job and nothing since has occurred to taint that sparkling reputation.

The president, with scant evidence, accuses Mueller of having conflicts of interest – one of the few reasons an independent counsel can be dismissed. In an interview with the New York Times, Trump warned Mueller not to stray into his family’s business affairs, saying it would be crossing a “red line.” On the contrary, Mueller should follow the evidence wherever it leads. That is the obligation Mueller accepted and has apparently embraced in taking on the independent counsel role.

To read more click here. 

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Trump Chooses Well with FBI Director Nominee Wray

Christopher Wray

Christopher Wray

By Editorial Board
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

President Donald J. Trump seems to have chosen well in nominating former Justice Department criminal division head Christopher A. Wray as FBI director.

In his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee  on July 12, Mr. Wray said Mr. Trump had not asked him for, nor had he offered, personal loyalty to the president. His only allegiance in the director’s post, if he is confirmed for it, would be to the Constitution and the rule of law. Mr. Wray said that if he were asked by the president to do something unlawful, he would first try to talk him out of it, and, if that didn’t work, he would resign.

In June 2016, Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya met with Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and then-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. The younger Mr. Trump hoped the meeting would yield damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Asked about that meeting, Mr. Wray advised senators that the FBI should be told about such overtures from foreign parties.

That was the correct statement for him to make, one that suggests he will act in the best interests of the American people. His term in office is theoretically 10 years, although Mr. Trump fired his predecessor, James B. Comey, after less than four years, after asking him to back off the scrutiny of Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, in the midst of inquiries into links between Russia and the 2016 Trump election campaign. 

To read more click here. 

LA Times: Truth Or Consequence Time for AG Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions during his confirmation hearing in January.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions during his confirmation hearing in January.

By Editorial Board
Los Angeles Times

On Tuesday, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee need to pin Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions down about his role in the firing of FBI Director James B. Comey and other matters that remain murky.

On May 9, Sessions wrote a letter to President Trump urging Comey’s dismissal “based on my evaluation, and for the reasons expressed by the deputy attorney general in the attached memorandum.” The memo he referred to by Deputy Atty. Gen Rod Rosenstein faulted Comey for the way he handled the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

Yet Trump later said that “I was going to fire [Comey] regardless of [the Justice Department’s] recommendation” and that he had “this Russia thing” on his mind when he made the decision. Did Sessions, who has recused himself from any investigation connected to last year’s election campaigns, know this when he wrote his letter to Trump? Did he assign Rosenstein to write the memo used to justify Comey’s dismissal?

Sacramento Bee: Why California Can’t Trust President Trump on Immigration

ice-agentsBy Editorial Board
Sacramento Bee

If there’s one constant in the chaotic administration of Donald Trump, it’s that there’s always a reason to doubt what the president and his surrogates say about immigration policy.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement proved that just last week, when it released data showing that arrests of undocumented immigrants without criminal records were up a whopping 156 percent from last year. That’s 10,845 people whose immigration violations were the only marks on their record.

And that’s what happened after ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan promised, even during a visit to Sacramento, that his agency would focus on immigrants with criminal records.

It’s no wonder then that Sacramento, San Francisco and so many other cities in California have declared themselves so-called sanctuary cities, refusing to cooperate with federal authorities as the feds expedite deportations of people who haven’t committed serious crimes.

California isn’t a sanctuary state yet. But with its hateful rhetoric, confusing policies, secretive raids and deliberate deceptions, the Trump administration is giving the Legislature every reason to take that step.

The trickery from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions this week certainly didn’t help. On Monday, he issued a policy memo to clarify parts of an executive order that would punish sanctuary cities by denying them millions of dollars in federal funding.

Now, only jurisdictions that “willfully refuse to comply” with immigration authorities will be considered sanctuary cities. The penalty would be that the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security would deny them grants. Still, it’s questionable whether any of that will come to pass for Sacramento or any other sanctuary city.

To read more click here. 

Guardian: Trump Seems Primed to Return the FBI to the Hoover Era

Former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover

Former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover

By Editorial Board
The Guardian

The country is still reeling after the bombshell report that Donald Trump asked the former FBI director James Comey to shut down the bureau’s investigation into Michael Flynn. Did the president fire Comey to slow down the FBI Russia investigation? Did Trump obstruct justice?

These questions are getting the attention that they deserve. But the focus on Comey’s firing is obscuring the issue of who Trump will hire to replace him – and the threat that this appointment poses to Americans’ civil liberties and civil rights.

Recently, the journalist Ashley Feinberg uncovered Comey’s personal Twitter account; he had used the pseudonym “Reinhold Niebuhr”. Tellingly, the real Niebuhr was a theologian, public intellectual, and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient targeted for FBI surveillance because of his lawful opposition to the Vietnam war.

Niebuhr wasn’t alone. The FBI has a long history of abusing its power to serve political ends. In the early 20th century, J Edgar Hoover created his Radical Alien Division to conduct dragnet surveillance of American immigrants. It surveilled Marcus Garvey to collect evidence used in his deportation to Jamaica. It wiretapped Dr Martin Luther King Jr during the civil rights era. At President Dwight Eisenhower’s direction, Hoover compiled a “list of homosexuals” to root out gay people working for the government.

Comey had serious flaws. But he understood the past misdeeds of the FBI. He kept a copy of the original order to wiretap King on his desk and required new FBI agents and analysts to visit King’s memorial on the National Mall. As Comey put it in 2015, he tried to “to ensure that we remember our mistakes and that we learn from them”.

Trump, on the other hand, seems anxious to return to the Hoover era.