March 2009 Newsletter

10 March 2009

Since our last newsletter we have had the satisfaction of seeing the withdrawal from Washington of the Bush administration, which systematically undermined or abrogated much of our civil liberties tradition. With the advent of the Obama administration, we have hopes of restoring respect for the Bill of Rights and have already seen some welcome steps. The illness of Justice Ginsburg reminds us that the election of McCain/Palin would have set the stage for a Supreme Court far less respectful of our rights than even the present court.

A couple of updates: The students in our “Acting Free” program at Senn High School are planning to mount their plays dealing with civil liberties themes at Pegasus Theater in May: we’ll inform you when exact dates have been established. The Coalition to Ground Boeing Torture Flights, in which CCDBR plays a key role, has issued a letter to President Obama praising his initial steps to ban torture but calling on him to clarify the position on extraordinary rendition flights and detention centers outside the U.S. The Coalition strongly stated opposition to the unexpected and disturbing decision of the new Justice Department to maintain government secrecy claims as a way of blocking any redress for torture victims in the ACLU/Boeing case, which involves a lawsuit against Boeing affiliate Jeppesen Data Plan for its provision torture-flight services. We are hoping that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will reject the secrecy assertion and allow the case to proceed.

We’re enclosing the CCDBR Board’s statement of the Obama administration’s civil liberties record to date and our own priorities for presidential action in this area. Likewise, we hope you’ll read the enclosed newsletter from the Defending Dissent Foundation, formerly NCARL.

SAVE THE DATE: Saturday, 6 June 2009, 1pm-4pm, Northwestern University Law School: CCDBR is organizing an educational and organizing forum on “The State of Surveillance in the Surveillance State.” Here we will be taking the lead in Chicago to bring attention to the ominous construction of a system of surveillance that can confer on its controllers overwhelming power over the citizenry. We are arranging for some very well informed and eloquent speakers and hope as many as possible will join us. Details will follow.

As usual, we thank all of you who contribute to our ongoing work and ask for support from any backers who can manage to send us something in these hard economic times.

Bob Clarke
for the CCDBR Board