interpreting the constitution
number 51     05.12.
06
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Justice Department Reports Serving Secret Subpoenas
previous editions archive
A Justice Department report to
Congressional leaders has revealed
that the FBI issued over 9000 secret
subpoenas in 2005 to get banking,
credit card, telephone, and internet
information on US citizens and
residents. The subpoenas, known as
National Security Letters, allow
federal investigators to obtain private
records without judicial review in
terrorism- related cases. Until
recently, the USA Patriot Act, which
expanded the scope and authority of
the letters, also barred recipients
from discussing them.

National Security Letters were
created as tool for espionage
investigations in the 1970’s. Although
originally intended
for the surveillance of suspected
foreign agents, the authority was
expanded by Congress after
September 11th, 2001, to allow
secret access to the records of
citizens and residents who are not
suspected of any wrongdoing. The
issuance of the letters is never
reviewed by a court, and the Bush
administration has resisted efforts to
open the process to public scrutiny
or Congressional oversight. The
report is the first indication of how
extensive the use of the letters  has
become.

The administration has also taken
steps to ensure that the information
gathered from such investigations is
merged into government databases,
and shared among
federal agencies. In 2003, the  
requirement to destroy files on
innocent targets of  investigations
when cases were closed was
quietly rescinded. Last October,
the President signed an Executive
Order granting access to those
files to government entities,  and
also to “appropriate private sector
entities.”

The Justice Department reported
that the FBI issued a total of 9254
National Security Letters involving
3501citizens or residents  in 2005.
The totals for the four previous
years remain classified and are
not subject to the newly enacted
disclosure
requirements.                   
it's all true
interpreting the constitution

crowd control

spread of the red

one nation, under surveillance

fun d' mental

in bed with the red

red state rebate

verbatim
fun d' mental
Weather
Discrimination is a
Religious Tradition
at US Colleges
Administration Plans to Sell National Forests to Make Ends Meet
A Bush administration proposal to
sell off more than 300,000 acres of
National Forest lands in an effort to
address revenue shortfalls has come
under fire from Congressional
leaders of both parties. The plan
would use the money raised from the
sale of the federal tracts to fund
infrastructure investment in rural
areas. But opponents of the proposal
say that projected proceeds from the
sales are not worth the permanent
loss of the public lands.

The proposed sale would be the
largest National Forest Service land
sale in over 30 years, listing 309,421
acres in 35 states. Forest Service
spokesmen characterized the parcels
as small,
isolated, and expensive to manage.
More than 80,000 acres will be
targeted for sale in California, with
more than 20,000 acres listed in
Idaho, Colorado, and Missouri. The
Forest Service hopes to raise about
$800 million from the sale, the bulk of
which would be earmarked for a
federal rural schools program that
operates in 41 states. The schools
program is being phased out over
the next five years.  

In testimony before the Senate
Energy and Natural Resources
Committee, Agriculture
Undersecretary Mark Rey defended
the sale, saying,  “We think this is
justified as a one time transition to
help rural schools.”  But the
proposal  
has drawn criticism from a variety
of groups, including
environmentalists opposed to any
sale of public lands, and the
Congressional sponsors of the
rural schools program. Sen. Craig
Thomas (R, WY) told reporters,
“To propose selling off public
lands we will lose forever, in
exchange for a program we can
pay for by other, more prudent
means, is simply irresponsible.”

Congressional opposition derailed
an administration plan to sell off
public lands to mining interests
last year. A proposal by Rep.
Richard Pombo (R, CA) to sell 15
National Parks  also failed to draw
support in the House.
             
                      it's all true
The congress passed an
amendment to the Higher
Education Act that would allow
religious universities to
discriminate against applicants
that are gay but remain
accredited.
The amendment would prevent
the boards that accredit higher
education intuitions from
requiring American colleges
and universities to adhere to
laws that bar discrimination
against prospective students
on the basis of sexual
orientation.

Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT)
offered the amendment to the
Higher Education act that is
supported by religious colleges
such as Brigham Young and
Notre Dame.  Cannon is
himself a graduate of Brigham
Young University, the Mormon
theological university in Salt
lake City, Utah.  

Religious schools and military
academies in the US have
policies that require students
to pledge adherence to codes
of religious morality.  A
spokesperson for the
fundamentalist group Focus on
the Family Action warned that
laws that prevent
discrimination are really
“radical social engineering”
efforts that are being “forced
upon society under the cloak
of 'non-discrimination.' "

The measure passed the
House last week and is
currently before the
Senate            
it's all true
one nation, under surveillance
Some Question Intention of  Data Retention
redstat
Legislation proposed in the US
House of Representatives would
require Internet Service Providers to
retain records of their customers’
identities and their activities on the
internet. The mandatory data
retention would enable law
enforcement to identify each
individual user, and track their e-
mails and web searches. The ISP’s
would be required to keep the
records for at least one year after the
closing of a user account.

Federal law enforcement officials
have called for data retention
standards, and Attorney General
Alberto Gonzalez has voiced his
support for legislative initiatives. The
European Union adopted a set of
data retention requirements
in December. Civil libertarians and
privacy rights advocates warn that
the databases created by such
mandates may be improperly
accessed, even by law enforcement.
The ISP’s are wary of the costs
involved in maintaining the
databases, and point out that existing
legislation in this area has so far
proven adequate.

The European data retention
standards require ISP’s to keep
records of the details, but not the
content, of e-mails and internet
telephone calls, for a minimum of six
months and a maximum of two years.
Service providers warn that a
requirement for the retention of
actual content of e-mails or web
pages visited would necessitate the
creation of an extremely  costly and
potentially vulnerable
database.               
it's all true
Iraq War costs escalate
over the four year
occupation
-spending per year in billions of
dollars
100
90
80
70
60
50
40
2003      2004         2005       
2006
source : Department of Defense
in bed with the red
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previous editions

Links of the Week

Beyond Abu Ghraib : detention
and torture in Iraq- Amnesty
International report

Is there a Human Right to Free
Movement? Immigration and
Original Ownership of the Earth
- research by Michael Blake
and Mathias Risse, Kennedy
School of Government, Harvard
University

The Flannery O’Connor
Collection: Georgia College
and State University

Inuit Art Foundation


contact us
Smithsonian Institution Attempts to
Privatize its Collection in Deal with
Showtime
News
Class Mobility
Moves Off-Shore
The Smithsonian Institution, the
caretaker of the country’s largest
historical archive, has negotiated a
secret and exclusive agreement with
the cable television station Showtime
that restricts documentary makers
and historians access to the publicly
owned historical documents and
artifacts that are housed at the
institutions 18 museums, 9 research
centers and 120 affiliates.

The agreement creates a Showtime
affiliated business called Smithsonian
Networks that is a joint venture to
create television programming.  The
contract requires any historian, artist
or documentarist who seeks to use
the archives of the museum in a
commercial documentary allow
‘Smithsonian On-Demand’ to have
the right of first refusal to broadcast
the program.  If the artist does not
offer to give the project to the new
network, the Smithsonian will not
allow the artist access to the
institution’s records, artifacts and
collections.

Although the institution has assured
that it’s deal with the cable company
will not affect documentaries that use
only fleeting images of Smithsonian
materials or rely on incidental
interviews of institution scholars and
curators, due to the fact that the
contract contains a confidentiality
clause, Smithsonian spokespersons
have said that the contact itself will
not be made public by the public
institution.   
Filmmakers, television executives
and academics that believe that the
contract will stifle creativity and
reduce the incentive to digitize the
institution’s collections, have
attacked the exclusive agreement.  
215 filmmakers and members of the
entertainment industry have signed a
letter demanding that the
Smithsonian reveal the financial
details of the agreement. Signers of
the correspondence include
filmmaker Michael Moore a senior
PBS executive.  The letter was also
delivered to 50 legislators in
Washington.

The contract was negotiated outside
of the purview of congressional
oversight and for this reason has
stirred concerns of elected officials
who appropriate monies to fund the
Smithsonian.  Two congress
members who chair the committee
that fund the institution have also
written a letter to the Smithsonian
warning that future funding could be
jeopardized if it continues to enter
into “agreements that are negotiated
in secret, without Committee
consultation, which commercialize
Smithsonian resources or which
appear to essentially sell access to
Smithsonian resources”.

A spokesman for Showtime said the
network would not answer the letter
because it was addressed to the
Smithsonian Institution.   
it's all true
A study released by the Center
For American Progress and
American University reports that
upward class mobility for
Americans in the lowest sectors of
society in very rare.  The analysis,
Understanding Mobility in
America, reports that children
from low-income families have a
one percent chance of rising to
the top five percent of income
earners.  

The study found that children
born in the middle quintile of wage
earning families fared only
marginally better having a 1.8
percent chance of reaching the
top five percent of wage earners.

The study also reported that
African American children born in
the bottom quarter of wage
earning families were more than
twice as likely to remain in this
class than white children whose
parents had the same incomes.  

The analysis attempted to reveal
if parents’ economic status was
an influential factor in determining
the economic status of children.  
The study revealed that economic
mobility in the US is lower than
France, Germany and Canada,
among other nations.         
it's all
true
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verbatim                                                                      number 10.3
...One, I believe there is an
Almighty."                  
Washington DC  00.00.00
"I based a lot of my
foreign policy
decisions on some
things that I think are
true...
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