IndyTruth Blog
Day of Action for Law and Justice 
Thursday, June 28, 2007, 11:48 PM - Activism, News
Posted by Administrator
On June 26 I attended the Day of Action to Restore Law & Justice in Washington D.C. It was an effort to restore habeas corpus and end torture. It was sponsored by the ACLU, Amnesty International and 50 other organizations. Around 4,000 came from all 50 states for the event. It started with a rally near the Capitol Building including many politicians and religious leaders.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich was the crowd favorite. The difference in the atmosphere during his five minutes on stage was unreal. Fellow presidential candidate Senator Dodd did not even do as well. Kucinich was swarmed by a small mob as he tried to hurry off to a House vote. He managed to answer a few questions and shake hands on the run and out the car window.

After the rally, we split up to lobby our Senators and Representatives. My first stop was Senator Lugar's office. We had an appointment with a member of Lugar's staff named Joe O'Donnell. O'Donnell offered us nearly 45 minutes of his time to discuss our concerns about habeas corpus. We primarily focussed on the Military Commissions Act, which Senator Lugar voted in favor of.

O'Donnell explained that a small group in the Senate formed the bill to establish a system to handle potential enemies who are not U.S. citizens but do not fall under the code for handling POWs. He said that the "subsection" that created the bill felt that it was "in line with American values." He assured us that it was passed with good intentions.

While it may have been passed with good intentions, this bill is not in line with American values. The Declaration of Independence, the foundation of American values, states that all people are created equal and "are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights." The Constitution grants those rights to U.S. citizens, but not necessarily to foreign nationals detained by the U.S. This has allowed Congress to pass a bill that does not provide habeas corpus for detainees. For detainment, interogation and prosecution of foreign nationals to be in line with American values, it must provide detainees with these rights.

America takes pride in its justice system, considering it the best in the world. The Senate showed no faith in this tested system by passing this bill. We ask Senator Lugar why habeas corpus is not granted to these "enemy combatants." We see no reason why the same system we use for American citizens will not work for foreign civilian detainees. We have yet to get an answer to this question from Senator Lugar's office.

By chance, on our way out of Senator Lugar's office, he happened to be doing an interview with the press about his recent Iraq speech in the hall. We were able to get a quick word with him and make our presence known in person. On closing Guantanamo Bay, he said he thinks the President is "about headed in that direction." We hope to hear more answers from him on the military commissions and habeas corpus issue inthe coming weeks.

After a failed attempt for a meeting at Senator Bayh's office, we met with Congressman Brad Ellsworth of Indiana's Eighth District. While none of his constituents were present, he still took the time to meet with eight of us from other districts in his state to discuss this issue. He told us, "to sieze someone and hide them... without representation goes against everything I believe and feel." He expressed the intent to balance defense with a just system, saying "I have full faith in our... system." On providing due process for all detainees, he said, "we are on the same page."

We finished the day at the office of Congresswoman Julia Carson. Most of the House was in committee meetings, so we met with her Chief of Staff, Len Sistek. One issue I had had with Julia Carson was that, while she usually voted the right way on issues like this, I did not see her taking much of a leadership role. This has now changed. She co-sponsored two of the bills which have been proposed to restore habeas corpus. It has now become a major priority for her.

Mr. Sistek seemed confident that the bills would go through and habeas corpus could be restored for all within the next few months. When asked about a possible Bush veto, he said a signing statement might be more likely. He said that habeas "is affecting citizens as well" as foreigners. You can be held because you have been mistaken as an enemy combatant, and under the Military Commissions Act, you could be kept from you family and unable to defend your case for a very long period of time.

We also had many questions for Sistek about the possibility of impeachment. He suggested that Kucinich's current impeachment plan is premature. Vice President Cheney will be evasive and able to slip past it. More evidence is necessary to accomplish impeachment correctly, and when the time is right, Carson will likely be on board. That is "what a really seasoned prosecutor would do."

We asked Len Sistek what we can do to help tackle these issues. He urged us that to "educate other people" is the best thing we can do.

The day was a huge success. The Senator and representatives were impressed by our numbers and enthusiasm, as well as the fact that we travelled 12 hours on a bus in the middle of the week to meet with them. At the end of the day, Jeff Mittman of the ACLU reported that Senators informed him legislation would be moving through in the next few weeks.

Submitted by Douglass.
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Senator Lugar on American Sovereignty 
Saturday, June 23, 2007, 11:45 PM - Globalism, Policy
Posted by Administrator
Earlier this month, I contacted Senator Richard Lugar regarding the Bilderberg Conference taking place at the time.

Like many other U.S. citizens I worry about the anti-democratic nature of these conferences where a selection of the most powerful politicians, business men and media chiefs from Europe and North America gather to shape international policy for the West. I believe the people have a right to know more about these secretive conferences.

I urged Senator Lugar to read the work of investigative journalists on the Bilderberg group. I asked him to "investigate the involvement of U.S. public officials at these and other secretive meetings of similar nature." This type of activity is a threat to our national sovereignty and the our constitutional rights.

Senator Lugar responded to my concerns:

While freedom of association is a principle enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, I oppose any form of a one world government and will continue to oppose all threats to U.S. sovereignty and attempts to subvert the U.S. Constitution and the rights of the American people. America will not become subservient to the United Nations or to any global government. I adamantly believe that U.S. sovereignty should not be subverted and will vigorously oppose any attempt to undermine, subvert, or diminish the Constitution or the individual rights contained in it.

I interpret that his response demonstrates concern and opposition to groups like Bilderberg. While it does not appear we will be seeing an investigation into these activities, statements such as this mean a lot from a senior member of the Senate. This is a step in the right direction.

Submitted by Douglass.

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H.R. 2640, the sneaky gun snatch bill 
Tuesday, June 19, 2007, 11:37 PM - Activism, News, Policy
Posted by Administrator
The NICS Improvement Amendments Act (HR 2640) was snuck through the house within two days of being introduced. The bill represents the most far-reaching gun ban in years. For the first time in American history, the federal government would impose a lifetime gun ban on battle-scarred veterans and troubled teens -- based solely on the diagnosis of a psychologist, rather than the process of a court of law.

The NRA has supported the bill, showing that they no longer respresent the stance of American gun owners or the constitutional right to bear arms. Gun owners OPPOSE this legislation.

This bill was proposed in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings, using a tragedy to promote a disgusting removal of constitutional rights. Everyone knows–it is proven fact–that gun control does not keep guns out of the hands of criminals. Most crimes are not committed with legally purchased firearms.

This law will not prevent gun crime. It will prevent war veterans (83,000 of them) and other worthy American citizens from exercising their right to bear arms.

Consider this scenario:

A soldier suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after being shot at by the Taliban while serving our country in Afghanistan, and after he recovers he finds he cannot purchase a handgun to defend his family if, God forbid, terrorists once again strike on our homeland. What can he do to fix the problem? He'll need to hire a lawyer to help him appeal his placement on the list.

This is not only expensive for a working family, but likely ineffective. Many Americans already find they cannot remove their names from the FBI's no-fly list. If this bill is passed, the same will go for purchasing firearms.

I tried to read this bill on the government's Thomas web site. It was hard to find, as it was so sneakily passed through the House. It is a messy bill. It includes vague language that appears to put nationwide control of firearms purchasing into the hands of the attorney general and Department of Homeland Security.

Included in the qualifications to be listed is a person who “has been adjudicated as mentally defective or committed to a mental institution.” The citation for the definition of “adjudicated as mentally defective” is a section of U.S. code that does not contain any definition, but only a similar vague mention of the term.

The bill also states, “The State shall make available to the Attorney General, for use by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, records relevant to a determination of whether a person has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.” The definition of “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence cited from U.S. code includes anything that “is a misdemeanor under Federal or State law; and has, as an element, the use or attempted use of physical force, or the threatened use of a deadly weapon…”

I am concerned about how these vague terms could be interpreted by the states, Homeland Security and the attorney general; DHS and members of this President’s administration have made liberal (and often inappropriate use) of other definitions in the past, such as the word “terrorist.” DHS and the Pentagon have also struggled with their use of the “enemy combatant” terms, which have posed serious problems in the trials of alleged terrorists.

Finally, here is what Congressman Ron Paul said in the short debate about H.R. 2640.

In my opinion, H.R. 2640 is a flagrantly unconstitutional expansion of restriction on the exercise of the right to bear arms protected under the second amendment.

H.R. 2640 also seriously undermines the privacy rights of all Americans, gun owners and non-gun owners alike, by creating and expanding massive Federal Government databases, including medical and other private records of every American.

H.R. 2640 illustrates how placing restrictions on the exercise of one right, in this case, the right to bear arms, inevitably leads to expanded restriction on other rights as well. In an effort to make the Brady background check on gun purchases more efficient, H.R. 2640 pressures States and mandates Federal agencies to dump massive amounts of information about the private lives of all Americans into a central Federal Government database.

H.R. 2640 is a joke. It was snuck through in TWO DAYS, and passed by a voice vote, suspending the rules. Suspending the rules for a voice vote may be appropriate for a bill like the 2005 "H.RES.587 : Congratulating Tony Stewart on winning the 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup Championship" (one of my personal favorites), but it is not appropriate for a bill that will restrict constitutional rights for American citizens.

A handful of Senators that have placed "holds" on this bill and object to any Unanimous Consent agreement. I have contacted Senators Bayh and Lugar in hopes that they will do the same.

Submitted by Douglass.
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