August 2007 Newsletter

13 August 2007

The latest outrage against our civil liberties, adoption of the new NSA surveillance law, took place while I was making a brief trip to Montreal. Now it’s fully legal for Albert Gonzalez to read any emails I sent back to the U.S. during that stay – under the doctrine of “Trust Me: I’m Your Protector Against Terrorism,” the antithesis of our constitutional theory of checks and balances, which assumes that we are not governed by angels. With the departure of “Bush’s Brain,” Karl Rove, from the White House, perhaps a new spin doctor will be called in to provide Orwellian titles to each new law subtracting from our liberties: “The Patriot Act,” “The Military Commissions Law,” and now, the supreme misnomer: “The Protect America Act.”

Anyone who imagined that we could relax after the 2006 elections should now be reminded that the vigilant presence of organizations like CCDBR is as necessary as ever, perhaps even more than ever. Despite “opposition party” control of the legislative branch, and despite a long-awaited judicial ruling that Bush’s NSA eavesdropping was illegal, Congress stepped in and handed this failed lame-duck president, discredited on every front, even more than he could have thought possible to authorize spying on us. One shudders to imagine what powers Congress would hand the president in the event of another “terrorist attack.”

For us in Illinois, the only good news is that both our senators and all our friends in the House of Representatives voted against this legislative fig leaf to cover trashing the Fourth Amendment.

On the Chicago scene, CCDBR maintains its close collaboration with the team working to stop abuses of police power and to achieve justice in the Burge torture cases. We have held frequent briefings for the board and other interested parties on this topic; and we have contributed to the efforts to involve the Cook County Board in the achievement of some justice in this area. The enclosed materials submitted by Flint Taylor provide extensive additional information.

“Acting Free,” our educational program for high-school students in collaboration with Pegasus Theater, is to be launched in September. We’ll keep you posted.

As always, we need and are grateful for your financial contributions, as well as your suggestions and advice on any of the issues we deal with.

Bob Clarke