On Dr. Martin Luther King Day Jr. Day, civil rights and peace activists around the country voiced concerns that our nation’s civil liberties are eroding.
Click here to view YouTube video of Shahid Buttar, executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee outside of the J. Edgar Hoover (FBI HQ) Building this past MLK Day in solidarity with the spirit of Dr. King’s civil rights advocacy.
The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School just released a report titled, “Domestic Intelligence: New Powers, New Risks”, giving recommendations to the Obama administration regarding the far reaching authorities that the FBI currently has, which leads to abuses.
The report mentions the following four:
- Increased intelligence-collection powers will likely lead to undue intrusions into the privacy of law-abiding Americans.
- Anecdotal evidence suggests that the Guidelines already have chilled First-Amendment-protected activity, and they likely will continue to do so.
- Perceived profiling by the FBI’s counterterrorism agents will alienate certain communities, thus rendering them less willing to cooperate with law enforcement.
- The Bureau is unable to analyze effectively the information it has collected because there are such vast volumes of information unrelated to indications of wrongdoing or threat.
I also recently wrote about some of these issues in an op-ed titled, “Fight terrorism, not Constitution.”
It is the duty of civil rights advocates to raise issues regarding the current state of domestic intelligence gathering upon U.S. citizens. Though challenging the status quo regarding intelligence gathering (including those within and connected to the current administration) may be deem as not “palatable” by some, doing such is a necessary function in maintaining our civil society. Without those advocating, even if unpopular with the masses, to protect the rights to freedom of speech, assembly, privacy and the freedom from unwarranted search and seizure, our country could easily slip into the condition of other countries who deprive liberties in the name of national security such as China, Russia, Tunisia and a host of others.
Defending the spirit of the U.S. Constitution is a patriotic duty just as reporting criminal activities and plots to law enforcement is. It is the U.S. Constitution and rights such as Miranda that make America what she is, not just people or a mass of land.
“No particular factual predication is required” for the FBI to currently launch an initial threat assessment upon persons must be challenged. And to inform Americans that they have a right to obtain legal counsel before speaking with the FBI or the Department of Homeland Security is not treasonous or obstructive as Rep. Peter King (R-NY) asserts; it is in fact upholding the law.
*Rep. King, by the way, falsely asserts that the American Muslim community doesn’t report extremist activity. His assertions are documented as fallacious be they Muslims who have been turned in, or FBI informants.
As Brother Ali raps, ” Freedom Ain’t Free.” If you don’t stand up for your rights, you’ll loose them.