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Tag: first amendment

Man Files Suit to Continue Parodying DHS, NSA on Mugs, T-Shirts

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Minnesota man who was selling parody T-shirts, mugs and other souvenirs featuring the logos of the NSA and DHS received a cease-and-desist order claiming the seals can’t be reproduced without permission.

That was two years ago.

On Tuesday, LibertyManiacs.com owner Dan McCall filed suit against the federal agencies, saying he has a constitutional right to express his opinions about the government and should be allowed to use the logos, Arstechnica.com reports.

“The agencies’ attempts to forbid McCall from displaying and selling his merchandise are inconsistent with the First Amendment,” his attorney, Paul Alan Levy, said in a statement. “It’s bad enough that these agencies have us under constant surveillance; forbidding citizens from criticizing them is beyond the pale.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST


Reporter: Why Did FBI Target Me If Justice Department Not Going After Reporters?

By James Ball
The Guardian

Would you trust a politician if your liberty depended on it?
Day to day, it’s something journalists in America are having to do, whether they’re aware of it or not. The politician in question is Attorney General Eric Holder, and the key quote in question is his vow to Congress: “As long as I’m attorney general, (the Justice Department) will not prosecute any reporter for doing his or her job.”

That memo doesn’t quite seem to have filtered down to federal agencies, if a recent report to Slate is to be believed. Ryan Gallagher, one of the site’s security writers, has produced a long account of the strange tale of Sigurdur Thordarson, who became a WikiLeaks insider as just 17 years old, who then preceded to voluntarily turn FBI informant.

To read more click here.

Former Marine Wins Release from Psychiatric Care Over Facebook Message

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

 A judge ruled Thursday that authorities must release from a psychiatric hospital a former Marine under FBI investigation for posting anti-government messages on Facebook, the Washington Times reports.

Prince George County Circuit Judge W. Allan Sharrett ordered the release of Brandon Raub because there was not sufficient basis to hold him.

Raub, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, came under FBI investigation after people reported he wrote anti-government messages on Facebook, according to the Washington Post.

Family and supporters said the FBI and magistrate trampled his First Amendment Rights.

STORIES OF OTHER INTEREST

Ex-Marine Detained, Placed in Psychiatric Care for Facebook Posts

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Supporters of a former Marine who was forced into psychiatric care for posting anti-government messages on Facebook say authorities are violating his First Amendment rights, the Washington Post reports.

Brandon J. Raub, 26, has been in custody since Thursday after the FBI, Secret Service and local police became alarmed by ominous Facebook posts, including one that read, “Sharpen my axe; I’m here to sever heads,” the Washington Post reported.

Raub, who has not been charged with a crime, was ordered detained for another month, according to Charlottesville-based civil liberties group, the Rutherford Institute.

“For government officials to not only arrest Brandon Raub for doing nothing more than exercising his First Amendment rights but to actually force him to undergo psychological evaluations and detain him against his will goes against every constitutional principle this country was founded upon,” Rutherford Executive Director John Whitehead told the Post. “This should be a wake-up call to Americans that the police state is here.”

Raub’s mother, Cathleen Thomas, said her son is “a staunch patriot.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Michigan Muslims Sue FBI over Allegations of Profiling at Border

Shoshanna Utchenik
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — The tension between federal law enforcement and the Muslim community here continues to ebb and flow.  On Friday, it was flowing.

The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI) was scheduled on Friday in Detroit to announce  that it is suing the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) and the FBI, claiming Muslims have been unfairly detained and questioned about religious beliefs at and inside the U.S.-Canada border, according to a press release distributed by the PR Newswire.

The suit, the press release says, represents 4 U.S. citizens who claim they were cuffed and questioned without cause by CPB and FBI agents. Questions included:

“How many times a day do you pray?”

“Do you pray your morning prayer in the mosque?”

“Who else prays in your mosque?”

CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid said in a statement issued on Thursday: “Invasive religious questioning of American citizens without evidence of criminal activity is not only an affront to the Constitution but is also a waste of limited resources.”

How Far Does Free Speech Go For Agents of Law Enforcement?

istock photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

It is a fundamentally American right to criticize one’s government, to speak out against wrongful policies–a patriotic act, some would say. But how much dissent is possible if one’s job is to enforce existing laws, whether one agrees with them or not? Legislative change is reserved for political channels, after all–not law enforcement.

A Border Patrol agent found out just how far that dissent can–or, rather, can’t–go, reports the New York Times.

Bryan Gonzalez, a retired police officer and ex-Marine, pulled his vehicle alongside another agent during a lull at their Deming, N.M. border station, and began venting about some of the job’s frustrations, the Times reported.

Gonzalez acknowledged remarking to the other agent that if marijuana were legal drug violence in Mexico would cease, then referenced the organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), which advocates for an end to the war on drugs.

That and remarks sympathetic to illegal immigrants were passed on along the chain all the way to Border Patrol headquarters in Washington, according to the Times, where the decision was made to let Gonzalez go. Mr. Gonzalez held “personal views that were contrary to core characteristics of Border Patrol Agents, which are patriotism, dedication and espirit de corps,” his termination letter read.

“More and more members of the law enforcement community are speaking out against failed drug policies, and they don’t give up their right to share their insight and engage in this important debate simply because they receive government paychecks,” Daniel Pochoda, the legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, told the Times. Pochoda is handling the case of Joe Miller, an Arizona probation officer who was fired after adding his name to a letter from LEAP.

Miller was one of a handful of federally employed signers of the letters; the rest were mostly retired law enforcement officials who were free from the boss’s reactions. LEAP began with “five disillusioned officers” in 2002, reports the Times, and has grown to include “145 judges, prosecutors, police officers, prison guards and other law enforcement officials, most of them retired,” who can speak free of reprimands, according to the Times.

“I don’t want to work at a place that says I can’t think,” said Mr. Gonzalez. He has since worked as a bouncer, a construction worker and a yard worker, and has considered going back to school and studying law. He filed suit in a Texas federal court in January. Defending the Border Patrol, the Justice Department has sought to have the case thrown out.

“We all know the drug war is a bad joke,” an anonymous veteran Texas police told the Times over the phone. “But we also know that you’ll never get promoted if you’re seen as soft on drugs.”

To read more click here.

 

 

Are the Feds Helping Crackdown on Occupy Wall Street?

Robert Mueller/file fbi photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Many are wondering whether or not the feds are helping crack down on the Occupy Wall Street movements spreading throughout the country, reports the Huffington Post.

Federal agencies deny any involvement, but that doesn’t seem to satisfy all. The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund and the National Lawyers Guild Mass Defense Committee, two civil rights groups, filed freedom of information requests regarding communications between federal law enforcement agencies and local police concerning the protests, according to the Huffington Post.

At a recent appearance in San Francisco FBI director Robert Mueller did little to clear things up. Speaking to the Commonwealth Club, reports SF Appeal, Mueller refused to answer any questions about FBI involvement in the crackdowns. “Many attendees of the talk were eager to ask the FBI director about the Occupy protests, but at the mention of the word, Mueller promised he would duck the question,” SF Appeal reports.

Mueller said the protesters are walking a fine line between exercising their first amendment rights and denying the rights of others to use public spaces. “I’m not going to get too deep in these waters,” he said. Occupy demonstrations are “largely” being dealt with by local authorities, he told listeners, and it has been working differently in various cities.

This comes shortly after an Associated Press report officials from nearly 40 cities discussed via conference calls how to deal with protestors.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST:

 

Fed Judge Tosses Conviction of White Supremacist Who Posted Info About Jury Foreman

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The message is clear: Even hatemongers have Constitutional rights.

The Chicago Tribune reports that a federal judge has tossed out the conviction in Chicago of  white supremacist William White who posted personal  information on his website about a jury foreman who helped convict a fellow white supremacist in 2004. A jury found White had used the website to solicit an attack on the foreman.

U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman of Milwaukee, who had been assigned to the trial because of local conflicts of interest, wrote in a ruling that prosecutors failed to prove during trial — even though the jury convicted after three hours of deliberation — that supremacist White’s postings on overthrow.com showed he wanted the foreman harmed, the Tribune reported.

She wrote that the posting was protected by the First Amendment.

“The First Amendment protects vehement, scathing and even offensive criticism of others, including individuals involved in the criminal justice system,” Adelman wrote, according to the Tribune. “Knowledge, suspicion or even hope that something might happen to Hoffman is not enough.”

Prosecutors charged that White had posted info in 2008 on his website about jury foreman Mark Hoffman, saying he was the  “gay Jewish anti-racist” juror who had helped convict Matthew Hale for the solicitation of the murder of U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow, the Trib reported. White also included info about Hoffman including a color photo, home address, phone numbers and his cats name (Hoffman is not Jewish).

Prosecutors during trial pointed out that in 2005, White on his website called for the “assassination” of anyone involved in the Hale trial, the Trib reported.

White’s attorneys argued their client never directly solicited an attack on Hoffman, the Trib reported.

The Tribune reports that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago is considering an appeal.