Tag Archives: ACLU

Terrorist who was accessory to over 30 deaths receives just 7 years in jail

kahn

Oregon Live: In a surprise move, a Portland sanitation worker pleaded guilty Friday to providing money to a terrorist who died in a 2009 suicide bombing outside an office of Pakistan’s spy service.

The suicide bombing in Lahore killed more than 30 people.

A Portland federal grand jury indicted Reaz Khan just after Christmas 2012, accusing him of taking part in a conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. Khan’s lawyers vigorously denied the allegations.

Less than two months ago, the American Civil Liberties Union joined the defense team and appeared ready to challenge the constitutionality of surveillance operations that helped U.S. government agents make their case against Khan. It was expected that Khan’s legal team would target the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA, which allowed the government to electronically eavesdrop on Khan.

In an odd twist, the federal judge presiding in Khan’s case, Michael W. Mosman, also sits as a member of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, in Washington, D.C., which authorized some of the government’s warrantless spying on Khan.

Khan’s lawyers had scheduled a status conference in the case for Friday, usually a time to wrangle over the scheduling of legal arguments and other judicial housekeeping before trial. But in an abrupt turnabout, Khan’s primary lawyer, Amy Baggio, told the court that she had reached a plea deal with government prosecutors that would allow for a reduced sentence.

Khan, 51, a Pakistani-born naturalized U.S. citizen, admitted to the judge that he was guilty of being an accessory after the fact in a conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists that resulted in death.

Khan admitted arranging for suicide bomber Ali Jaleel to receive about $2,450 in Pakistan before the attack. He also admitted to providing advice and financial assistance to Jaleel’s wives after the bombing.

kahn2

In the highly structured plea deal, Khan is expected to receive a sentence of seven years and three months in federal prison. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 15 years and a $125,000 fine.

The FBI had arrested Khan in March 2013, but the court allowed him to post bail — a rarity in Oregon’s federal judicial district — so that he could prepare for trial in the national security case.

The government accused Khan of exchanging emails with Jaleel, a fellow Sunni Muslim who was killed in the May 27, 2009, bombing and small-arms attack at a compound in Lahore, near offices of police and Pakistan’s spy service, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

Khan, a wastewater treatment operator on unpaid leave from his job, was accused of wiring money to Jaleel, part of an old pact to seek martyrdom in the name of Allah.

Prosecutors won’t say when they think Khan grew close to Jaleel, a native of the Maldive Islands and more than a decade Khan’s junior, but Jaleel left home for a Pakistani madrassa as a teenager and returned to the country repeatedly.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ethan D. Knight and Charles F. Gorder, who serve on the national security team in the Portland office of the U.S. Attorney for Oregon, had assembled a trove of emails between Khan and Jaleel.

They were expected at trial to seize on a Jan. 14, 2006, email in which Jaleel reminds Khan about their shared promise to seek martyrdom in the name of Allah. A line from the email appears to be Jaleel quoting Khan’s own words: “This world is of no use to us so let’s sacrifice ourself for the pleasure of Allah in his way???”

The government accuses Khan of making good on those words, funding Jaleel’s training as a terrorist in 2008. Sentencing is scheduled June 8.

DCG

Oklahoma City in America’s spiritual war: 10 Commandments monument smashed into pieces

eye-of-the-storm

There is a ferocious spiritual war in America, and Oklahoma City seems to be at the center, targeted by malevolent people and forces.

In 2009 when Republicans were in control, the state legislature gave the green light for a Ten Commandments statue, paid for with private funds, to be placed outside the state capitol building in Oklahoma City.

Three years later, in November 2012, a 6-feet tall granite monument of the Ten Commandments was erected.

10 commandments monument outside Oklahoma state Capitol

Almost immediately, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) leveled a lawsuit to remove the monument, claiming that it violated the state constitution’s ban against using public property to support church or religion.

The ACLU’s lawsuit was followed by the New York-based Satanic Temple declaring their intention to build a 7 ft. tall statue of their master next to the Ten Commandments — all in the name of “religious parity.”

Then, on September 21, 2014, a local satanist group conducted a blasphemous “Black Mass” right smack in the Oklahoma City Civic Center.

Alton Nolen

Alton Nolen

Three days after the satanic Black Mass, on September 24, 2014, a recent convert to Islam, 30-year-old Alton Nolen, walked into a Vaughan Foods administrative office in Moore, a suburb of Oklahoma City, and attacked two female employees with a knife. Nolen beheaded Colleen Hufford, 54, and repeatedly stabbed Traci Johnson, 43, who survived the attack. (See “Of course he did: Obama Official Praises Mosque Of Oklahoma Beheader Alton Nolen”)

Mark Vaughan, the company’s chief operating officer, who is also a reserve sheriff’s deputy, shot Nolen, stopping the attack. Nolen was charged with first-degree murder and assault and battery with a deadly weapon, and may also face federal charges as well.

Writing for CNN, Mel Robbins is incredulous that the FBI refuses to call Nolen’s attack and beheading a terrorist attack:

It was a terrorist attack, and everyone knows it. Why won’t the government say so? The Washington Post reports that the FBI found ‘no indication that Alton Alexander Nolen was copying the beheadings of journalists in Syria by the Islamic State … adding that they are treating this as an incident of workplace violence.’

Workplace violence? You can’t be serious! Oh wait — the FBI must mean “workplace violence” as in the case of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the terrorist convicted in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting that killed 13 people and left many more wounded.

On September 19, 2014, the ACLU’s lawsuit to remove the Ten Commandments monument was thrown out by an Oklahoma County judge.

So satanists took matters into their own talons.

Zak Patterson reports for Oklahoma City’s KOCO that at approximately 9 p.m. on Oct. 23, 2014, a man drove his car into the Ten Commandments monument and smashed it into pieces.

The suspect told the Secret Service, upon his arrest, that Satan had told him to do it. He admitted that he had urinated on the monument before running it over.

The suspect reportedly also made vague threats at the Oklahoma City Federal Building and said he would kill President Obama and spit on a photo of Obama. The man was taken into custody. The vehicle involved was abandoned and has since been impounded.

The cleanup is underway and parts of the Ten Commandments monument will be restored.

The ACLU of Oklahoma made this statement following the incident:

“The ACLU of Oklahoma and our clients are outraged at this apparent act of vandalism. While we have and continue to seek the removal of the Ten Commandments monument from the Capitol grounds through the judicial process, the Ten Commandments constitute a strong foundation in our clients’ deeply held religious beliefs. To see the Ten Commandments desecrated by vandals is highly offensive to them as people of faith. Our Oklahoma and Federal Constitutions seek to create a society in which people of all faiths and those of no faith at all can coexist as equals without fear of repressions from the government or their neighbors. Whether it is politicians using religion as a political tool or vandals desecrating religious symbols, neither are living up to the full promise of our founding documents.”

An official with the US Attorney’s Office said if enough evidence is found against the suspect regarding his alleged threats against the president then a report will be submitted to the US Attorney’s Office.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call OHP at 405-425-7709.

Michael Reed Jr.

Michael Reed Jr.

The police have since identified the man as Michael Tate Reed Jr., 29. He is from Roland and was taken to Oklahoma County mental facility for an emergency order of detention and a mental evaluation.

Reed’s mother, Crystal Tucker, said her son “would never deface something that meant so much to him. He takes the Ten Commandments very seriously.” Tucker said Reed has been battling breakdowns for two years ever since he was injured at work four years ago. (See “Psychiatric nurse says half of patients have a spiritual affliction”)

Tucker said when her son “has these breakdowns, the one thing that is foremost in his mind, his religion, is the thing he takes it out on.” But Reed does not worship Satan, the mother said. “Anyone who knows Michael, knows he loves his God. Right now, everyone is praying for him.”

Well, mom. I suggest you ask your son who “his God” is.

See also:

~Eowyn

Ten Commandments monument to remain on OK Capitol grounds

ten commandments

NewsOK.com: An Oklahoma County judge ruled Friday that a Ten Commandments monument on the state Capitol grounds is constitutional. Attorneys for the group that sued to have the monument removed said they will appeal that decision

District Judge Thomas Prince ruled the monument’s placement is constitutional and that it can remain in place during the appeals process. Prince on Friday granted the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission’s request for summary judgment, halting the lawsuit from advancing to trial.

Extensive briefs have been filed by both parties in the case — the state arguing the monument should be allowed and the American Civil Liberties Union taking the other side. Prince heard only brief arguments Friday before rendering his judgment.

“Today’s ruling is a clear message that the Ten Commandments can be displayed on public grounds like the Oklahoma Capitol because of the historical role the text has played in the founding of our nation,” state Attorney General Scott Pruitt said.

“The Ten Commandments monument on the Oklahoma Capitol grounds is constitutional because of its historical value.”

“The U.S. Supreme Court found constitutional a nearly identical monument in Texas,” Pruitt said. “We were confident in the state’s case from the start and appreciate the court’s thoughtful consideration and ruling in the state’s favor.”

Hiram Sasser, legal director for the Liberty Institute, also represented the state in the case. He said: “This is a great victory for the people of Oklahoma. Ten Commandments monuments are routinely upheld as constitutional across the country. This is just one more example of how the Ten Commandments monuments may be constitutionally displayed.”

The display, donated by Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, was installed Nov. 15, 2012, under the direction and with the permission of the Capitol Preservation Commission.

The American Civil Liberties Union argued the case on behalf of four plaintiffs, including a minister, a retired businessman and two former educators. The ACLU said that it will appeal the judgment, which was based on legal precedent pertaining to religious monuments involving state money.

The fifth section of the state constitution’s Bill of Rights reads as follows: “No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary, or sectarian institution as such.”

The ACLU will appeal to the state Supreme Court within 30 days of the judgment being filed, Oklahoma ACLU Legal Director Brady Henderson said. The state’s high court may first send the case down to the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals, he said.

“We respectfully disagree with the decision of the court,” Henderson said. “The plaintiffs in this case do not seek the removal of the Ten Commandments monument from the state Capitol lawn because they find the text of the monument offensive, but rather because, like many Oklahomans, the Ten Commandments constitute a core part of their sincerely held religious beliefs, and it is offensive to them that this sacred document has been hijacked by politicians.”

“We will appeal this decision and ask the Oklahoma Supreme Court to find that the Oklahoma Constitution does not give the government the power to cheapen inherently religious texts.”

ACLU Executive Director Ryan Kiesel said, “I think everyone involved knew this wasn’t going to be the last word in this case. This was just one step in a process.”

“Not only is the exploitation of the Ten Commandments for political purposes an insult to the many Oklahomans who incorporate the commandments into their religious observance, it marginalizes those Oklahomans of different faiths and no faith at all by sending a distinct message that they are less welcome at the state Capitol.”

“We aim to ensure the freedom of future generations of Oklahomans to make their own decisions about faith remains intact and free from political interference. We knew going into this case that it would ultimately be decided by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, and today’s decision places us one step closer to a resolution by the state’s highest court,” he said.

See also: Satanists to hold “Black Mass” in Oklahoma City.

DCG

Let’s Make Abortion Fun & Trendy!

abortion-is-murder

The following article is by Louise Mellon on the ACLU. My comments are in parenthesis.

The new romantic comedy “Obvious Child” has managed to do something pretty extraordinary — it’s made abortion sympathetic, and funny. (Oh, really?)

In it, main character Donna has an abortion after a drunken one-night stand. But unlike most other characters who grapple with this question, Donna doesn’t torture herself. She makes the decision without angst, guilt, or extenuating circumstances. And like millions of American women, Donna follows through, then moves on with her life. (How quaint)

A movie about an experience this common – nearly one in three American women will have an abortion in their lifetime — shouldn’t feel so revolutionary. But it does. (One in three? Really???)

Our culture still stigmatizes abortions and the women who have them. When President Obama issued a statement of support on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, he didn’t use the word abortion once. Think about that — in a statement supporting the decision that recognizes the constitutional protection to abortion, abortion wasn’t mentioned. (This is a rare example of the left admitting what deceitful liars they are.)

Even within the reproductive rights movement, we have a million ways to signal abortion without saying it. We talk about “personal, private decision making,” “women’s health” or “reproductive health care.” (More admitted lies.)

Even I, who have devoted my life to defending reproductive rights, have friends who want an abortion but won’t admit it to me. Instead they’ll call and tell me their “friend” needs help. That speaks to a frightening level of shame. (Gee, I wonder why? Could it be because murder is a shameful act?)

Here’s the truth: We all know – and probably love – a woman who’s had an abortion. Indeed, we likely know several women, and love them. We just don’t know it.

Here’s another truth: Even if we don’t agree about abortion, we can agree that we shouldn’t judge a woman unless we’ve walked in her shoes. Life, after all, is messy. And decisions aren’t always black and white. (Sure, they are. That’s what the Ten Commandments are all about. Thou shall not commit murder.)

Abortion stigma causes real harm. Even the simple silence around abortion hurts women. It makes women afraid to talk about their experiences, even with trusted friends and loved ones. It encourages politicians to chip away at women’s ability to make this decision for themselves – and then say they’re doing it for our own good. Stigma, and the silence it nurtures, enables a culture that tells doctors and nurses they can refuse to treat a woman who seeks an abortion because she is untouchable — declining even to take her blood pressure or provide her with pain medication, lest they be tainted by association. (So abortion stigma causes harm, but the physical murder of babies doesn’t? Someone get this woman to a shrink. Now!)

That’s why the “Obvious Child” is so welcome. It deftly reflects the experience of millions of women across the country – that we sometimes get pregnant when we didn’t want to and decide to have an abortion because it’s the right decision for our lives. (Risking eternal damnation a right decision? Hmmn… I don’t think so.)

Want a fast $60? Just cough up a sample of breath, saliva and blood

no way

Drivers can earn $60 with roadside blood test, breath check

Seattle Times: Government-hired survey teams will soon ask hundreds of Washington state motorists to answer questions and provide samples of breath, saliva and bloodall to give safety and police agencies a clearer sense of how many people drive impaired.

The roadside surveys are voluntary, and participants will be paid up to $60, under the federally funded project this summer.

National officials are collaborating with the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, which is hurrying to gather data before retail marijuana gains a foothold. That way, officials have a baseline from which to measure any safety effects of legalization, said commission spokeswoman Jonna VanDyk.

The roadside surveys began Friday and will continue over the weekend in Spokane and Yakima counties, followed by Kitsap and Whatcom counties later this month, and probably King and Snohomish counties, she said.

The study contractors plan to survey 150 drivers in five locations per county, for a total 4,500 participants.

Crews will not block or slow traffic, officials say. Drivers at a stoplight would encounter civilians wearing orange vests, with signs saying “Paid Voluntary Survey,” then be asked if they wish to participate.

Other National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) studies have caused controversy elsewhere — including a lawsuit in Pennsylvania — where drivers said they felt compelled by police to stop and participate. The NHTSA program in Washington state will be run by the same contractors, Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, but has been designed with extra safeguards, such as keeping police off the front line.

Any biological samples will be destroyed when the findings are published, the state says. Names and license numbers won’t be recorded, and therefore the samples won’t be archived or cross-checked by government agencies, VanDyk said.

The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union was consulted and says the program respects Washington state’s constitution and culture.

“In other parts of the country, they used law-enforcement officers either as an actual roadblock, or waving people over, which would have raised our hackles,” said Doug Klunder, privacy counsel for the ACLU in Seattle.

State officials have likened the scene to a carwash where fundraisers beckon people to pull over, Klunder said.

Last fall, police in Fort Worth, Texas apologized and removed themselves from a NHTSA roadside study after people said a police presence made them feel compelled to participate, a news report there said.

General traffic roadblocks were found unconstitutional in Washington state in a 1986 Supreme Court case, City of Seattle v. Mesiani, on grounds they violate Article I, Section 7, which says: “No person shall be disturbed in his private affairs, or his home invaded, without authority of law.”

NHTSA conducted roadside surveys in various states in 1973, 1986, 1996 and 2007, and is covering the cost for this month’s Washington study. It will be conducted by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, which VanDyk said has done 30 studies in other states.

Preliminary findings are expected this fall, with a follow-up survey in early 2015 to gauge the impact of marijuana sales, said program manager Shelly Baldwin.

“It’s really hard to predict how this data will be used downstream,” VanDyk said. The findings might help local police decide how much time to spend on DUI patrol, for instance, she said. “As a state, we’ve committed ourselves to reducing fatal collisions,” she said.

Given experience in California, she’s confident the surveys will include an accurate cross-section of drivers, even people who’ve been drinking, because they are enticed by the $60 stipend for the 20-minute survey. She said a survey there found 1 percent of drivers who participated were legally drunk, and 14 percent had some drug in their system, most commonly marijuana.

Questioners will carry detectors that pick up alcohol in the air and will alert the team if someone has roughly 0.05% blood alcohol content. Those would activate even before somebody blows into a breath-testing device, has their mouth swabbed or gives a blood sample. Klunder said the detectors that sense alcohol in the air cause some concern, but one could argue that merely agreeing to take the survey is a form of consent.

“That is probably the most coming-to-the-edge part of that, in my mind,” Klunder said. “But still it’s limited, and how they use it is limited.”

The state threshold for driving under the influence is 0.08%, but research has found that reaction times decline before that level. If somebody blows between 0.05 and 0.08, the team would urge the driver to give the keys to a sober person, or accept a cab or motel room. Failing that, a police officer would explain the same options, said VanDyk. The police officer serves a second role, to protect the survey teams, which will sometimes work at night or in tough neighborhoods, she said.

The survey is meant to check for some 75 substances, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

Marijuana’s effects on driving are considered more difficult to predict than alcohol. “Traces of marijuana can be detected in blood samples several weeks after chronic users stop ingestion,” an NHTSA report acknowledges.

Alison Holcomb, author of Washington’s legal pot law and an ACLU lawyer, said collision studies are needed, and not just roadside surveys, to get a clear picture of how recreational marijuana affects or doesn’t affect traffic safety. Generally speaking, alcohol can lead to more aggression, while marijuana impairment leads to slower speeds and reactions, she said.

Surveys in other states have found good news — the proportion of drivers over 0.08 has gradually dropped from 7.5 percent in 1973 to 2.2 percent in 2007, NHTSA reported.

Washington state has been striving to reduce road deaths through its “Target Zero” program, and is making steady progress. Traffic fatalities here have declined from 825 in 1990 to 444 in 2012, according to federal tables. Still, an average 232 people a year die in the state because of impaired driving.

DCG

WTF! Navy tracks our parking tickets and traffic citations

Eye of Sauron

It’s not enough that the NSA (National Security Agency) spies on every phone call, email, and credit card transaction we make.

Now comes news that the U.S. Navy, specifically the NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Service), has a massive database of hundreds of millions of law enforcement records. If you’ve had so much as a parking ticket, you are already in that database.

Mark Flatten reports for the Washington Examiner, March 21, 2014, that the NCIS database is called the Law Enforcement Information Exchange (or LinX), containing 506.3 million law enforcement records ranging from criminal histories and arrest reports to field information cards filled out by cops on the beat even when no crime has occurred.

Fidell reviewed the Navy’s LinX website at the request of the Washington Examiner to assess the propriety of putting such a powerful database under the control of a military police entity. He says LinX “gives me the willies.

LinX is a national information-sharing hub for federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. It is run by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, raising concerns among some military law experts that putting such detailed data about ordinary citizens in the hands of military officials crosses the line that generally prohibits the armed forces from conducting civilian law enforcement operations.

Those fears are heightened by recent disclosures of the National Security Agency spying on Americans, and the CIA allegedly spying on Congress.

The military has a history of spying on Americans. The Army did it during the Vietnam War and the Air Force did it after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Among the groups subjected to military spying in the name of protecting military facilities from terrorism was a band of Quakers organizing a peace rally in Florida.

LinX administrators say it is nothing more than an information-sharing network that connects records from participating police departments across the country.

LinX was created in 2003 and put under NCIS, which has counterterrorism and intelligence-gathering missions in addition to responsibility for criminal investigations. LinX was originally supposed to help NCIS protect naval bases from terrorism.

More than 1,300 agencies participate, including The FBI and other Department of Justice divisions, the Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon. Police departments along both coasts and in Texas, New Mexico, Alaska and Hawaii are in LinX. Participating agencies must feed their information into the federal data warehouse and electronically update it daily in return for access.

The number of records in the system has mushroomed from about 50 million in 2007 to more than 10 times that number today.

Background checks for gun sales and applications for concealed weapons permits are not included in the system, according to NCIS officials and representatives of major state and local agencies contacted by the Examiner.

Director of NCIS Andrew Traver

Director of NCIS Andrew Traver

The director of NCIS, Andrew Traver, drew stiff opposition from the National Rifle Association after Obama twice nominated him to be head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The nomination failed to go forward in the Senate both times, largely because of what the NRA described as Traver’s advocacy for stricter gun laws.

He became NCIS director in October 2013.

NCIS officials could not say how much has been spent on LinX since it was created 2003. They provided figures since the 2008 fiscal year totaling $42.3 million. Older records are not available from NCIS.

Incomplete data from USAspending.gov shows at least $7.2 million more was spent between 2003 and 2008. The actual figure is probably much higher, since the spending listed on the disclosure site only totals $23 million since 2003.

Why LinX wound up in the NCIS, a military law enforcement agency, is not clear. Current NCIS officials could not explain the reasoning, other than to say it grew out of the department’s need for access to law enforcement records relevant to criminal investigations.

The FBI, a DOJ entity, has since built its own system similar to LinX, called the National Data Exchange or N-Dex. The systems are connected, and much of the information in N-Dex comes from LinX, said Christopher Cote, assistant director for information technology at NCIS.

Eugene Fidell, who teaches military law at Yale Law School and is a member of the Defense Department’s Legal Policy Board and a board member of the International Society for Military Law and the Law of War, calls LinX “domestic spying.”

Asked by Washington Examiner to review LinX, Fidell says “It gives me the willies. Clearly, it cannot be right that any part of the Navy is collecting traffic citation information. This sounds like something from a third-world country, where you have powerful military intelligence watching everybody.

Fidell says Americans have distrusted the use of the military for civilian law enforcement since before the Revolutionary War. Since the passage of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, it has been illegal for the military to engage in domestic law enforcement except in limited circumstances, such as quelling insurrections. The limits in the law were largely undefined for almost a century.

In 1973, the Army provided logistical support for FBI agents trying to break the standoff with American Indian Movement militants at Wounded Knee, S.D. Several criminal defendants later argued the use of the military was illegal under Posse Comitatus. Ensuing court decisions decreed that using the military for direct policing, such as making arrests or conducting searches, was illegal and should be left to civilian departments. Providing logistical support, equipment and information are allowed. Since then, the law has been loosened to allow limited military participation in certain large-scale anti-drug investigations.

Gene Healy, vice president of the Cato Institute and an Examiner columnist who has written about the overreach of the military in civilian law enforcement, says that aside from the legal issues is the problem of “mission creep.” What begins as a well-meaning and limited effort to assist local police can grow into a powerful threat to constitutional protections.

A recent example of mission-creep gone awry is the Threat And Local Observation Notice (or TALON) program created by the Air Force at the same time LinX was launched.

Like LinX, TALON’s purpose was to create a network for information-sharing among federal, state and local police agencies that could be used to help protect military facilities. In 2005, media reports showed TALON was being used to spy on anti-war groups, including the Quakers. TALON was disbanded in 2007.

Healy says: “The history of these programs is that they tend to metastasize and that there is mission creep that involves gathering far more information than is needed. In general, what you see in these programs is they start out very narrow and they expand beyond the limits of their original logic. Repeatedly throughout American history, what starts small becomes larger, more intrusive, more troubling.”

TALON was primarily an intelligence-gathering network. As for LinX, it can only be used for law enforcement purposes, though intelligence and counter-terror officers at NCIS do have access to the system. The rules governing LinX are almost identical to those controlling other federal databases run by the FBI.

NCIS spokesman Ed Buice said while NCIS is a military police unit, its agents are civilian employees equivalent to those at the FBI and other federal agencies. And although there are limits on military enforcement of civilian laws, it is allowed if it is done “primarily for a military purpose,” which is how NCIS uses the system.

Civil libertarians get more concerned as more trivial information on average citizens is collected under the guise of protecting the public, especially absent some reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed.

ACLU’s legislative counsel Chris Calabrese said pawn shop records and parking tickets are that kind of questionable information. “To me, that may be where you are starting to cross the line on mass collection of information on innocent people just because you can. We live now in a world of records where everything we do is generating a record. So the standard can’t be, ‘We have to keep it all because it might be useful for something some day.’ The rationale has to be more finely tuned than that.”

~Eowyn

Arizona bill protects businesses that refuse to serve same-sex weddings

Do you remember Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado who was ordered by administrative law judge Robert N. Spencer to bake a wedding cake for two homosexuals or face fines, even though doing so violates Phillips’ Christian religious beliefs?

Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Colorado

Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Colorado

The Arizona state legislator just passed a bill, SB 1062: Exercise of Religion, to protect business owners from what happened to Phillips.

Catherine Briggs reports for LifeSiteNews, Feb. 25, 2014, that SB 1062 would grant business owners the right to refuse service to clients on the basis of religious objections.

In the past few years, there have been several cases of business owners facing lawsuits after refusing to provide their services to homosexual couples at their “weddings.” This bill would prevent such suits from being filed in Arizona and would protect objecting business owners from facing heavy fines.

The bill, which now awaits the signature of Gov. Jan Brewer, has been lambasted as discriminatory by its opponents, but its defenders say it’s a necessary protection for religious freedom.

As we would expect, Democrats oppose SB 1062, including all four of Arizona’s Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Daniel Mach, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s religion and belief program, said, “Religious freedom is a fundamental right, but it’s not a blank check to harm others or impose our faith on our neighbors.”  The ACLU opposes the legislation. 

But the bill also is opposed by Republicans, including:

  • Arizona’s two federal senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, have urged Gov. Brewer to veto SB 1062.
  • Of Arizona’s Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives, one has refused to comment while the other four have not yet commented.

The reaction to SB 1062 from the media has been heated to say the least.  In an interview with CNN news anchor Chris Cuomo, Kelly Fiedorek, attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom, tried explaining the bill and how it would protect religious freedom. She says:

“[There’s] a basic difference between denying someone a cup of coffee or a piece of pizza or selling someone a pencil versus forcing someone to use their creative ability to create a message to support an event, to support an idea that goes against their beliefs. For example, we would not force a Muslim to participate in a Koran-burning ceremony. We wouldn’t ask a black photographer and force them to go take a picture of a KKK event. This is America and in America we should be able to live freely and not be forced to endorse ideas.”

Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, responded to the fiery reaction to the passing of SB 1062 in a statement on Saturday:

“The attacks on SB 1062 show politics at its absolute worse. They represent precisely why so many people are sick of the modern political debate. Instead of having an honest discussion about the true meaning of religious liberty, opponents of the bill have hijacked this discussion through lies, personal attacks, and irresponsible reporting. I urge Governor Brewer to send a clear message to the country that in Arizona, everyone, regardless of their faith, will be protected in Arizona by signing SB 1062.”

The bill now awaits Gov. Jan Brewer’s signing or veto sometime this week. Brewer vetoed a similar bill last year during a self-imposed freeze on signing legislation until a budget was passed for the 2014 fiscal year.

According to CNN, Brewer is expected to veto what the liberal media insist on calling “the anti-gay bill” because “Sources say she is concerned about this bill taking away from other issues she is now pressing, such as overhauling Arizona’s child protective services system.”

Here’s contact info for Gov. Brewer:

The Honorable Janice K. Brewer
Arizona Governor
Executive Tower
1700 West Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007

Phone Numbers
Phoenix Office: (602) 542-4331
Tucson Office: (520) 628-6580
In-State Toll Free: 1-800-253-0883 (outside Maricopa County only)

Fax Number: (602) 542-1381

To send an email, click here.

~Eowyn