Part of the Bay Area News Group

Archive for the 'Civil liberties' Category

Civil libertarians blast two of Brown’s vetoes

Civil libertarians are hopping mad over Gov. Jerry Brown vetoes of two bills Sunday: one that would’ve required police to get a warrant before searching mobile devices of arrestees, and another that would’ve limited the shackling of pregnant women inmates.

The search-warrant bill, SB 914 by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, was supported by groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, the First Amendment Coalition and the California Newspaper Publishers Association (of which, in the interests of full disclosure, my employer is a member). The bill would have limited searches of mobile devices to cases in which an officer has probable cause to believe a suspect’s device contains evidence of a crime; it would’ve allowed for exceptions in emergency circumstances.

“This measure would overturn a California Supreme Court decision that held that police officers can lawfully search the cell phones of people they arrest,” Brown – who served four years as attorney general, the state’s “top cop” – wrote in his veto message. “The courts are better suited to resolve the complex and case-specific issues relating to constitutional search-and-seizure protections.”

But ACLU of Northern California attorney Linda Lye said today that the courts and Brown aren’t keeping up with the technological times.

“No one would think that it’s okay for police to search a person’s financial documents, photo albums, address books, or the entire contents of their laptop without a warrant,” Lye said. “But mobile phones can hold all that information and more. We deserve the same privacy protection for our digital lives as we have offline.”

Leno said the bill “would have reinforced critical privacy protections in California law. In a rare showing of consensus, legislators and editorial boards from vastly different parts of the state and political spectrum have expressed support for this bill. Together with business owners, journalists and civil rights advocates, they believe privacy is not a partisan issue. It’s good public policy.”

Brown also vetoed AB 568 by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, which would’ve created statewide standards for how pregnant women in correctional facilities are restrained; the Assembly and state Senate both passed the bill unanimously. State law already bars use of shackles during labor unless deemed necessary, but the American Medical Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) have supported efforts to limit shackling during pregnancy due to the health risks it creates.

Dr. Phillip Diamond of Chula Vista, chair of ACOG’s ninth district, said the veto was disheartening.

“It is clear the law prohibiting shackling during labor does not go far enough,” he said. “There are many other circumstances where restraints impede the ability of the physician to provide timely and critical care, including for life-threatening conditions. Failure to sign not only fails women and the pregnancies, but leaves the state vulnerable to lawsuits for cruel and unusual punishment.”

Karen Shain, policy director at Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, said her organization has accounts of pregnant women falling and endangering their pregnancies due to the excessive use of shackles. “The standards created by AB 568 would have ensured pregnant women are restrained safely. These standards are sorely needed.”

Brown wrote in his veto message that he had been inclined to sign AB 568 at first blush “because it certainly seems inappropriate to shackle a pregnant inmate unless absolutely necessary.”

“However, the language of this measure goes to far, prohibiting not only shackling but also the use of handcuffs or restraints of any kind except under ill-defined circumstances,” the governor wrote. “Let’s be clear. Inmates, whether pregnant or not, need to be transported in a manner that is safe for them and others. The restrictive criteria set forth in this bill go beyond what is necessary to protect the health and dignity of pregnant inmates and will only serve to sow confusion and invite lawsuits.”

The bill’s advocates said they’d met repeatedly with law enforcement officials in an effort to accommodate their demands, but the California State Sheriffs’ Association voiced concerns only after the bill had reached Brown’s desk, too late for further amendments.

“The CSSA was concerned that officers could not use handcuffs under AB 568, but it explicitly states that handcuffs in front are permissible if needed for safety and security reasons,” the ACLU of Northern California’s Alicia Walters said. “Last session law enforcement was concerned that officers could not use their discretion, so this year we drafted language to ensure they could put their hours of training to use under some much-needed standards.”

Posted on Tuesday, October 11th, 2011
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Civil liberties, Jerry Brown, Mark Leno, Nancy Skinner, Public safety | 2 Comments »

On the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks

Ten years ago this morning, I was awakened at dawn by a phone call from my grandmother in Queens, N.Y.

“I just wanted to make sure you all were OK,” she said.

“Uh, sure, why wouldn’t we be?” I asked groggily.

“They bombed New York and Washington,” she replied.

I turned on the television. Five minutes later I was in my car, speeding toward the newsroom, carrying images that remain burned in my brain to this day.

We all share them. Some of us dwell on them, some don’t. But all our lives have changed because of them.

We worked feverishly that day, trying to glean every nugget of information we could from sources everywhere from lower Manhattan to Oakland City Hall. It was the only time in my career that I’ve helped put an extra mid-day edition on the street without prior planning, a pell-mell blur of instant journalism.

For maybe 30 seconds each hour, each of us would suddenly stop, transfixed by the latest video clip, some new vantage point from which to watch those inexorable, murderous trajectories. Then we would wipe our eyes and go rushing back out the door or onto the phones.

Our stories in the following few days reflected on what it might bring. War? Domestic distrust? Impinged civil liberties? I’ve never been unhappier to have helped make accurate predictions.

We lost something that day. In some ways, ours has become a lesser nation.

That’s not to say we didn’t rise to the challenge. We were grievously attacked; we responded, and our enemies have paid dearly.

But think of the lexicon we’ve had to teach ourselves in the decade since. “Improvised explosive device.” “Up-armored Humvee.” “Threat level orange.” “Full-body scanner or pat-down search?” “PATRIOT Act.” “Ground Zero mosque.”

Maybe it’s that last one that bothers me most. I just saw it most recently just the other day in an e-mail update from Terry Jones, the execrable “man of God” from Florida who made a public name for himself by burning the Koran.

It’s not a mosque; it’s a community center with a prayer space. It’s not at Ground Zero; it’s two blocks away, about as far as the Off-Track Betting facility and the strip club.

More importantly, it’s in America, where we shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.

And real Americans don’t burn books, damn it.

I’ve spent a big chunk of my professional life in the past 10 years investigating an organization called Your Black Muslim Bakery, a cross between a (dis)organized crime family and a religious cult of personality. Now defunct, its members engaged in kidnapping, extortion, torture and murder. My life was threatened as I reported on one of them this year.

Its name aside, the bakery had no more to do with Islam than the sub-humans who hijacked the planes. None were godly men; they were arrogant thugs – in one case driven by greed and power, in the other by hateful ideology – who murdered to make a point.

But we reward their evildoing and disgrace our national heritage when we paint others with the same brush.

Real Muslims don’t murder. Real Americans don’t automatically assume they do. And we shame the memories of our cherished dead – those who died that day, and who have died since – by letting terrorists’ blind hatred drive us to blind hatred.

They were wild-eyed zealots. We mustn’t be.

Our nation lost an “it can’t happen here” innocence that day. We’ve struggled ever since with how to cope. Let’s mark this 10th anniversary as a fitting moment to graduate into the adulthood of our new age, and return to the principles of inclusion, equality and freedom for which we’re supposed to stand.

Posted on Sunday, September 11th, 2011
Under: Civil liberties | 5 Comments »

ACLU demands cops’ data on cell-phone tracking

The American Civil Liberties Union’s California affiliates sent a letter to more than 50 law enforcement agencies across the state today demanding to know when, why and how police are using mobile phone location data and deploying other surveillance technology to track people.

In the greater Bay Area, the ACLU’s Public Records Act requests went to the police departments in Oakland, San Jose, Fremont, Richmond, San Francisco, Vallejo, San Rafael, Novato, Manteca and Stockton, as well as to the Marin and Solano sheriffs.

EnemyOfTheStateIt’s part of a national ACLU initiative based on revelations that Sprint received over 8 million demands in 13 months for location information; Michigan police sought information about every mobile phone near the site of a planned labor protest; researchers disclosed this spring that iPhones collect and store location data; and the National Security Agency’s general counsel last week suggested to members of Congress that the agency might have authority to collect location information on American citizens inside the U.S.

In addition to collection of mobile phone location data, the ACLU is asking the same questions about police use of information gathered from social networking sites, book providers, GPS tracking devices, automatic license plate readers, public video surveillance cameras and facial recognition technology.

“Unless we require transparency on the part of police agencies, powerful new methods of surveillance will become powerful new methods of invading our privacy,” Northern California ACLU staff attorney Linda Lye said in a news release.

The letter asks police agencies to cough up statistics on how agencies are obtaining, using, storing and sharing personal information; the stated purpose for gathering personal information, guidelines on how long the data is kept, when and how it is deleted, and whether privacy safeguards exist; training materials, policies or protocols provided to officers to guide them in the use of these tools; whether police demonstrate probable cause and get a warrant to access mobile phone location data and to collect other detailed personal information; and data on the effectiveness of the use of digital surveillance in identifying or arresting suspects.

Posted on Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011
Under: Civil liberties, Homeland security, Public safety | 1 Comment »

Congress extends Patriot Act sections for 4 years

Congress voted yesterday to extend several controversial parts of the Patriot Act for four more years.

The Senate approved S.990 on a 72 to 23 vote, with both of California’s senators in support; the House passed it on a 250 to 153 vote, with no support from any Bay Area member. President Obama signed it into law minutes before the provisions would’ve expired.

The votes made strange bedfellows, with libertarian-leaning Republicans standing with some of Congress’ most liberal Democrats in opposition.

Extended were provisions that authorize roving wiretaps on surveillance targets; provisions that let the government access “any tangible items,” such as library records, as a part of surveillance; and a “lone wolf” provision that allows surveillance of those in the United States without citizenship, a green card or political asylum who are not connected to an identified terrorist group.

Civil liberties advocates and much of the Bay Area’s House delegation had believed — especially now that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is dead – this was the right time to reassess the nation’s balance of security measures and civil liberties.

But the fix was in a week ago, when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, struck a deal for an amendment-free extension until June 1, 2015.

In February, all Bay Area House members except Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, had voted against extending these provisions; McNerney had supported extending them until December, but ultimately they were extended for only 90 days and are set to expire at the end of the month. McNerney spokeswoman Sarah Hersh in February had said the congressman “has serious concerns with this legislation and believes that we must make substantial changes to the law in order to better preserve our country’s most fundamental civil liberties. However, in the meantime, allowing the policy to expire without warning and a comprehensive debate on our security policies would not be advisable.”

Earlier this month, Hersh said McNerney “continues to have major concerns about the Patriot Act. He believes there must be substantial changes made to the law in order to better preserve our civil liberties. A bill hasn’t been released yet, so Congressman McNerney wants to see the legislation before reaching a decision.”

On Thursday, McNerney joined the rest of the Bay Area delegation in opposing the extension. He issued a statement afterward reiterating his concern about freedoms and noting this extension continues the policies without reform. “That is simply not in our country’s best interest. Instead, we should pursue balanced policies that keep our country safe and protect our civil liberties.”

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, issued a statement saying the law doesn’t properly balance national security with protection of civil liberties.

“I opposed the extension of the PATRIOT Act because we cannot sacrifice fundamental freedoms, including the right to privacy, in our effort to manage the threat of terrorism. Our basic civil liberties, which include access to our library records, medical records, and personal information about private residences and businesses, are not safe from the PATRIOT Act,” she said. “I will continue to push for an end to invasive intelligence gathering tactics that come at the expense of vital civil liberties, many of which have been justified by the overly broad executive branch authorization I opposed in the wake of 9/11.”

American Civil Liberties Union legislative counsel Michelle Richardson said the extension means “Congress has missed yet another opportunity to make necessary changes to protect our privacy. It means we’re likely to see more abuse of Patriot Act powers by law enforcement. Next time it’s given the opportunity, Congress should consider prioritizing Americans’ civil liberties by passing actual Patriot Act reform.”

U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., had authored legislation to extend the provisions through the end of 2013. Her office earlier this month referred me to a February floor speech in which she said these provisions are used often and believes “that being able to have good intelligence is what prevents an attack against a New York subway or air cargo plane. It is what keeps this homeland safe, and it is what allows us to get ahead of a terrorist attack. Without them “… we put our nation in jeopardy.”

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., voted for the Patriot Act in 2001, and its reauthorizations in 2006 and in February, saying it gives law enforcement the tools it needs to keep Americans safe. She had expressed concern, however, over provisions such as seizure of library records, and wanted those areas tightened up.

Boxer had supported an amendment authored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and cosponsored by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., which she said would’ve added some checks and balances. She was disappointed that it didn’t get a vote, but voted for the extension anyway because “any delays in providing law enforcement officials the tools they need to disrupt terrorist plots and to find those who would harm our country would be unacceptable.”

Posted on Friday, May 27th, 2011
Under: Barbara Boxer, Barbara Lee, Civil liberties, Dianne Feinstein, Harry Reid, Jerry McNerney, Mitch McConnell, national security, U.S. House, U.S. Senate, War on Terror | 2 Comments »

Leland Yee’s ‘Reader Privacy Act’ advances

Even as Congress prepares to re-consider some controversial sections of the Patriot Act, the California State Senate unanimously approved a bill today that would preclude state law enforcement from using one of the investigative tools now at issue.

Many Patriot Act provisions have been made permanent after being passed in October 2001 to extend law enforcement’s reach following the 9/11 attacks. At issue now are provisions that authorize roving wiretaps on surveillance targets; provisions that let the government access “any tangible items,” such as library and bookstore records, as a part of surveillance; and a “lone wolf” provision that allows surveillance of those in the United States without citizenship, a green card or political asylum who are not connected to an identified terrorist group.

But SB 602, by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, would require government agencies to seek a warrant in order to access consumers’ reading records from bookstores and online retailers, bringing those protections in line with those already afforded by state law to library records. Today’s Senate vote sends the bill to the Assembly for consideration.

“I am very pleased that both Democrats and Republicans agree that current law is completely inadequate when it comes to protecting one’s privacy for book purchases, especially for online shopping and electronic books,” Yee – who also is a San Francisco mayoral candidate – said in a news release today. “Individuals should be free to buy books without fear of government intrusion and witch hunts. If law enforcement has reason to suspect wrongdoing, they can obtain a warrant for such information.”

Yee spokesman Adam Keigwin acknowledged that the bill “states all government agencies, but obviously federal law could supersede and allow federal agencies access if so approved.” Among those supporting the bill are the American Civil Liberties Union, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Google, Consumer Federation of California, and Californians Aware.

Many bookstores already collect information about readers and their purchases, and digital book services can collect even more detailed information including which books are browsed, how long each page is viewed, and even digital notes made in the margins. Supporters say it’s vital that state law be adapted to the digital age, considering that electronic or digital books now outsell paperbacks on Amazon.com and more than 18 million e-readers are expected to be sold in 2012.

“California should be a leader in ensuring that upgraded technology does not mean downgraded privacy,” said Valerie Small Navarro, a legislative advocate with the ACLU’s California affiliates. “We should be able to read about anything from politics, to religion to health without worrying that the government might be looking over our shoulder.”

Posted on Monday, May 9th, 2011
Under: California State Senate, Civil liberties, Leland Yee, War on Terror | 9 Comments »

ACLU, Tea Partiers beat back anti-leaflet policy

The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California got a temporary restraining order from a Shasta County Superior Court judge today to keep Redding from enforcing a restrictive anti-leafleting policy also challenged by the North State Tea Party Alliance.

Strange bedfellows? Not really, if you hold both organizations to their stated, basic mission: protecting fundamental constitutional rights.

ACLU-NC attorney Linda Lye said her organization is “thrilled to be working with the Tea Party to protect free speech rights and defend the robust exchange of ideas in both principle and practice.”

City officials had adopted the restrictions last month regarding a plaza outside the Redding Municipal Library. The policy requires people wishing to leaflet to obtain a permit, prohibits more than one organization from leafleting at one time, bans the distribution of materials requesting charitable contributions, restricts leafleteers to a designated “free speech” bubble, contains what the ACLU described as “vague and overbroad prohibitions against offensive utterances, gestures and displays,” and prohibits leafleting in the library parking lot. Those violating these restrictions could be charged with a crime.

“The library is a cultural and intellectual cornerstone of the Redding community, and civic leaders should welcome and celebrate the library’s role as a public place for the free exchange of ideas,” plaintiffs’ co-counsel Thomas Burke, of the firm Davis Wright Tremaine, said in the ACLU’s news rlease.

John Oertel, a leader of the ACLU’s Shasta-Tehama-Trinity Chapter, said the policy “interferes with the fundamental right to speak freely and peacefully, and is totally unnecessary. There has been no history of aggressive or otherwise problematic incidents in the library plaza.”

In fact, shortly before the policy was adopted, ACLU members leafleted in the library plaza at the same time that Tea Party members were present; while the groups often take different positions on political issues, the ACLU acknowledged, their simultaneous presence caused no disruptions.

“These exchanges are a direct form of democracy – we need more of them, not fewer. People across the political spectrum have a stake in preserving our right to express our ideas and perspectives,” said local ACLU chapter chairman Don Yost, and a plaintiff in the case.

But, lest you think everyone up there was of a mind, the Redding Tea Party – apparently larger than the North State Tea Party Alliance involved in this case – didn’t think this to be such a big deal.

Redding Tea Party organizer Erin Ryan said today the alliance is basically an offshoot that “pretty regularly find themselves some windmills to tilt at” and didn’t act when city officials solicited public input during a lengthy comment period before the policy was adopted. “Those guys basically refused to participate in the creation of the ordinance, and then when it came out, they went crazy about it.”

Ryan said Oertel and Yost came to a meeting of her group in January…

…but the Redding Tea Party didn’t feel a need to get involved, given that local people simply didn’t want to be harangued as they entered and left the library and have its parking lot cluttered with discarded paper. She said she doesn’t want to throw anyone under the bus, but “I hate to see them making a mountain out of a molehill.”

Posted on Wednesday, May 4th, 2011
Under: Civil liberties, tea party | No Comments »

Rights groups say local cops should shun FBI

Civil rights watchdog groups say police in Oakland, San Francisco and other cities should stop working with the FBI on terrorism investigations so long as doing so means they can violate local privacy policies.

“Under the state constitution and local policies, Californians are protected against government intelligence gathering unless there is a factual basis to suspect them of wrongdoing,” Alan Schlosser, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California’s legal director, said in a news release today. “It is now clear that the FBI has been authorized to conduct thousands of investigations that are just fishing expeditions and run contrary to California law. It is an outrage that San Francisco and Oakland police officials are not being forthcoming about whether their JTTF (Joint Terrorism Task Force) officers are complying with state and local law.”

The ACLU’s complaint comes as U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., holds a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing today on civil rights violations against American Muslims, coming soon after a New York Times report that the FBI is using intelligence gathering powers expanded significantly during the Bush Administration to investigate thousands of people and groups without any factual evidence that they have done anything wrong. The FBI admits having compiled 70,000 such files on Americans without any suspicion of criminal wrongdoing.

Local police departments including those in Oakland and San Francisco assign officers to a Joint Terrorism Task Force, in which they cooperate with FBI investigations. They do so under “memorandums of understanding” with the FBI, which in the past included assurances that officers must follow state law and department guidelines.

But when civil rights groups used the Freedom of Information Act to get a look at the standard MOU used in the Bay Area, they found it lets police assigned to the JTTF violate local privacy policies like those in place for years in Oakland and San Francisco, reflecting state constitutional standards.

Neither San Francisco nor Oakland police department has yet to make available its current, specific MOU with the FBI, the ACLU said; in Oakland, police officials say they didn’t keep a copy and the FBI has refused to provide a copy to the department.

So today the ACLU, the Asian Law Caucus and the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called on these police agencies to sever those ties with the FBI at least until they make their MOUs public and reassure the public that officers are adhering to the standards of state and local law.

“Unless and until those agreements are made public and assurances are given that local police cannot investigate people without criminal suspicion, San Francisco and Oakland police departments must withdraw from the JTTF,” Asian Law Caucus staff attorney Veena Dubal said.

“Community trust is the most important tool of law enforcement,” said CAIR-SFBA Executive Director Zahra Billoo. “By infiltrating organizations and interviewing people who they do not suspect of any wrongdoing, the FBI is obfuscating their ability to counter domestic crime. We do not want our local law enforcement in the same predicament.”

Posted on Tuesday, March 29th, 2011
Under: Civil liberties, War on Terror | 3 Comments »

And these are just the ones we know about

The Administrative Office of the U.S Courts reported today that 2,376 federal and state applications for orders authorizing the interception of wire, oral or electronic communications – what you and I would call wiretaps – were filed in 2009.

Federal authorities sought 663 orders, states sought 1,713 – and none were denied.

Breaking it down further, wiretap applications in California, New York and New Jersey accounted for 71 percent of all applications approved by state judges; 24 states had wiretap requests in 2009, up from 22 in 2008, but requests were also made in the District Columbia and Virgin Islands.

The state wiretap with the most intercepts was conducted in New York County, New York, where a 543-day wiretap in a corruption investigation resulted in the interception of 11,000 incriminating messages. The average length of an original authorization was 29 days.

The most frequently noted location in wiretap locations was “portable device,” a category that includes cellular telephones and digital pagers, and 86 percent of all applications for intercepts cited illegal drugs as the most serious offense under investigation.

As of Dec. 31, a total of 4,537 persons had been arrested and 678 persons had been convicted as a result of interceptions reported as terminated.

Posted on Friday, April 30th, 2010
Under: Civil liberties, Public safety | No Comments »

Former minuteman blasts AZ immigration law

David LaTour, 23, of Hayward, is an activist in the “open carry” movement; one of the Ron Paul followers who got elected to, was then sued on, and then resigned from the Alameda County Republican Central Committee; and a former president of the Castro Valley Minutemen.

The Castro Valley Minutemen’s current home page says members “don’t want our country, our culture, or our language – the very foundation that was handed down to us by our forefathers who toiled and died for our freedom, to be diluted by gate crashing illegal aliens aided by bleeding heart liberals, cheap and greedy business owners, and worse yet, self-serving elected government officials!”

Yet LaTour today sent me an invitation to join a Facebook group called “Against SB 1070,” in opposition to Arizona’s new anti-illegal-immigration law which many people say institutionalizes racial profiling. That page’s administrator’s latest post says:

Although SB 1070 has passed, we must continue to stand against this new and despicable law, the fight is still not over Arizonans! “The true test of the American ideal is whether we’re able to recognize our failings and then rise together to meet the challenges of our time. Whether we allow ourselves to be shaped by events and history, or whether we act to shape them.” – Barack Obama

Now, I know LaTour is no fan of President Obama, but I found it interesting that a former Minuteman leader would be inviting Facebookers to stand up in opposition to Arizona’s new law. I e-mailed him, and here’s what he said:

“I am opposed to SB 1070, Real ID, and any other “show me your papers” law that violates natural rights. Specifically, SB 1070 allows law enforcement officers to stop any individual that is ‘suspicious’ and arrest if they fail to provide proof of citizenship. This is clearly unreasonable search and seizure. Rather than resorting to police state tactics, we could address the issue by removing the incentives that encourage workers to ignore the legal immigration process and come here illegally. Laws like SB 1070 are a direct attack on the American tradition of liberty and represent reactionary politics at its worst. Unfortunately, it seems the immigration issue is being used much like the War on Terror and the War on Drugs, as an excuse to erode civil liberties and turn America into a police state.”

He also recommended that I watch this video:

So it seems there’s a bloc of conservatives out there who are much more afraid of expanded police powers than of illegal immigrants. Yet despite what the guy in the video said, it appears U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and the Obama Administration are not on board with Arizona’s law. From Reuters this morning:

A new Arizona law aimed at cracking down on illegal immigrants could divert resources from pursuing those in the country illegally who have committed more serious crimes, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on Tuesday.

The new law, set to take effect later this year in the state bordering Mexico, requires police there to determine if people are in the country illegally, but critics have said it enables racial profiling and may be unconstitutional.

The Obama administration is reviewing its options for possible challenges to the new state law and Napolitano told U.S. senators that its resources for pursuing more dangerous criminals committing felonies could be sapped.

“We have some deep concerns with the law from the law enforcement perspective because we believe it will detract from and siphon resources that we need to focus on those in the country illegally who are those committing the most serious crimes,” she told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Arizona law requires police officers to arrest those unable to provide documentation proving they are in the country legally. It also makes it a crime to transport someone who is an illegal immigrant, and to hire day laborers off the street.

“We have concerns that at some point we’ll be responsible to enforce or use our immigration resources against anyone that would get picked up in Arizona,” Napolitano said.

Posted on Tuesday, April 27th, 2010
Under: Civil liberties, Immigration, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

John Yoo to tout book at SF appearance

John YooIf those activists who’ve dogged Cal law professor John Yoo – who as a Justice Department lawyer helped build a legal framework for the “enhanced interrogation” techniques many now consider to be torture and for other perceived Bush Administration transgressions – still can’t find where he’s teaching his current class, at least they’ll know where he is for a few hours next week.

Yoo will speak to the Commonwealth Club of California about his new book, “Crisis and Command: A History of Executive Power from George Washington to George W. Bush,” at 6 p.m. next Wednesday, Jan. 27 at the club’s offices on the second floor of 595 Market St. in San Francisco. Tickets are available online and cost $12 for club members, $18 for nonmembers and $7 for students with valid ID; I predict the tickets will sell out and – no, really, I’m a little bit psychic – that the club’s security will be expecting protestors to try to disrupt the event.

Posted on Wednesday, January 20th, 2010
Under: Civil liberties, War on Terror | 3 Comments »