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Current Topic: Civil Liberties

Scalia Apologizes for Seizure of Recordings
Topic: Civil Liberties 9:13 am EDT, Apr 13, 2004

Antonin Scalia has apologized to two Mississippi reporters who were required to erase recordings of a speech he gave at a high school there on Wednesday.

In a letter mailed on Friday to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Scalia, calling the organization's concern "well justified," wrote: "You are correct that the action was not taken at my direction. I was as upset as you were."

I like green eggs and ham!
I do, I like them, Sam I Am!

Justice Scalia said in the letter to the Reporters Committee that the controversy had caused him to revise his policy "so as to permit recording for use of the print media" to "promote accurate reporting." He indicated he would continue to ban the recording of his speeches by the broadcast press.

All media are created equal, but some are more equal than others.

Scalia Apologizes for Seizure of Recordings

A Justice's Sense of Privilege
Topic: Civil Liberties 9:05 am EDT, Apr 13, 2004

Antoinette Konz, a young education reporter for The Hattiesburg American, considered it a big deal when she was invited by a local high school to cover a speech last Wednesday by Antonin Scalia.

Ms. Konz and an AP reporter, seated in the front row, began to take notes. And when Justice Scalia began speaking, they clicked on their tape recorders.

Justice Scalia, the big shot, does not like reporters to turn tape recorders on when he's talking. He doesn't like it. And he doesn't permit it.

The AP reporter tried to explain that she had a digital recording device, so there was no tape to give up. Ms. Konz said the deputy seemed baffled by that.

You do not like green eggs and ham /
I do not like them, Sam I Am.

I see a tape recorder and I grab it /
No, you can’t have it back, silly rabbit

A Justice's Sense of Privilege

The 'Privacy' Jihad
Topic: Civil Liberties 11:53 am EST, Apr  3, 2004

Since 9/11, virtually every proposal to use intelligence more effectively -- to connect the dots -- has been shot down by left- and right-wing libertarians as an assault on "privacy." The consequence has been devastating: Just when the country should be unleashing its technological ingenuity to defend against future attacks, scientists stand irresolute, cowed into inaction.

The overreaction is stunning.

... specious privacy crusading ...

The bottom line is clear: The privacy battalions oppose not just particular technologies, but technological innovation itself.

Let loose the dogs of the global war against alternative newsweeklies.

The 'Privacy' Jihad

Mr. Arar's Lawsuit
Topic: Civil Liberties 9:36 am EST, Feb  2, 2004

The federal lawsuit filed last week by Maher Arar -- the Syrian-born Canadian whom the federal government deported to Syria -- offers a good opportunity to shed some light on one of the more peculiar civil liberties cases to arise during the war on terrorism.

At the least, the government should be obliged to spell out how this decision came to be made and why.

The Post cries out for an explanation in the Arar case.

Mr. Arar's Lawsuit

Safer Option for Civil Rights
Topic: Civil Liberties 9:30 am EST, Feb  2, 2004

Spontaneous applause greeted Bush's State of the Union mention that "key provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire next year."

He quickly went on to declare, "Our law enforcement needs this vital legislation," and to tell Congress, "you need to renew the Patriot Act."

That statement also drew applause, but from different quarters.

The LA Times educates Hollywood on civil liberties while calling on Congress to support judicial oversight of the FBI's powers.

Safer Option for Civil Rights

Keeping Detentions Secret
Topic: Civil Liberties 1:27 am EST, Jan 14, 2004

The Supreme Court made it easier this week for the government to drape a cloak of secrecy ...

The freedom of all Americans is diminished.

In dissent, Judge David Tatel warned that the court was ignoring the public's interest ...

The Bush administration is increasingly asserting the right to conduct law enforcement in secret.

The Supreme Court will soon confront the larger issue ... [and] we hope that ... it will start reining in the disturbing excesses of the administration's war on terror.

The New York Times expresses its disappointment with the Court but retains hope for the future.

Keeping Detentions Secret

Secrecy Allowed On 9/11 Detention
Topic: Civil Liberties 1:20 am EST, Jan 14, 2004

The Supreme Court yesterday declined to hear an appeal, ... a decision that allows officials to continue withholding information indefinitely.

Without a full disclosure of the detainees' names, it will be impossible to hold the government accountable.

This issue is more complex than the media generally acknowledge in the play-by-play reporting of the "he said, she said" variety. Few if any of the people speaking out in public on this issue are doing so from anything resembling a non-partisan position.

If you read anything about this in the press that offers both depth and balance, let me know.

Secrecy Allowed On 9/11 Detention

The Naked Crowd
Topic: Civil Liberties 7:00 pm EST, Jan  4, 2004

In The Naked Crowd, acclaimed author Jeffrey Rosen makes an impassioned argument about how to preserve freedom, privacy, and security in a post-9/11 world. How we use emerging technologies, he insists, will be crucial to the preservation of essential American ideals.

With vivid prose and persuasive analysis, The Naked Crowd is both an urgent warning about the choices we face in responding to legitimate fears of terror and a vision for a better future.

The fact that the above text was provided by the publisher explains the use of the words 'acclaimed', 'impassioned', 'vivid', and 'persuasive'.

The book goes on sale January 13. Remind me to come back to this in a few weeks.

The Naked Crowd

Coffee, Tea or Freedom?
Topic: Civil Liberties 4:55 pm EST, Dec 13, 2003

Impressed by the boom in Internet chat rooms in China, I conducted an experiment this week to test the limits of free speech.

[I explored] the frontier of free speech in China in the information age, and it reflects real progress. Exciting times are coming to China again.

Coffee, Tea or Freedom?

Big Brother's Little Helper
Topic: Civil Liberties 3:22 pm EST, Dec  7, 2003

ChoicePoint brings new meaning to the slogan, "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale."

Big Brother's Little Helper

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