Posts Tagged: ACLU

Illinois and racial profiling

The ACLU is calling for the federal Department of Justice to investigate whether or not Illinois cops use racial bias in traffic stop searches, reports Patrick Yeagle of the Illinois Times. A new study produced by the Illinois Department of Transportation found a slight disparity between the number of minorities stopped and the number of minorities who live in Illinois. It looks like real claims of bias lie in specific communities like Springfield, where 41 percent of all drivers stopped in 2010 were minorities and just 15 percent of the Springfield population is minority.

Civil Libertarians Publicly Express DHS Privacy Concerns

The Washington Post’s Spencer S. Hsu reports that the Privacy Coalition, a group of major civil libertarians and plain old libertarian groups are upset with the Department of Homeland Security’s commitment to privacy. The coalition wants to strengthen the hand of the DHS privacy officer to stop practices like searching the laptop computers of travelers who take a flight or cross the border.

At issue here is an expectation from coalition members like the ALCU and Electronic Frontier Founddation that in securing the country the Obama administration would better respect civil liberties than the Bush administration. Hsu notes that such expectations have already been dampened by the administration working with Congress to pass a new Patriot Act.


The Obama administration gave the green light for CIA Director Leon Panetta to file an affidavit in federal district court saying that the CIA doesn’t have to release documents pertaining to their "enhanced" interrogations on suspected terrorists. R. Jeffrey Smith of the Washington Post reports that the ACLU has battled five years for the CIA to release documents that are related to the 92 videotapes of detainee interrogations that the CIA destroyed in 2005 (a federal prosecutor is separately investigating this tape destruction). How come the Obama administration is not releasing the CIA documents after it released the Justice Dept. Office of Legal Counsel memos authorizing torture?

[Panetta] asked U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein to draw a legal distinction between the administration’s release in April of Justice Department memos authorizing the harsh interrogations and the CIA’s desire to keep classified its own documents detailing the specific handling of detainees at its secret facilities overseas.

Panetta also uses the logic Barack Obama used when he chose not to release the photos of abused detainees: this will inflame anti-U.S. passion. But it seems that continued secrecy is actually what might fuel anti-U.S. sentiment. If Obama were fully transparent, the world might view "war on terror" abuses as resulting not from systemic problems in U.S. government and politics but the specific problems of George W. Bush’s reaction to 9/11. Panetta’s affidavit, though, suggests that a contempt for moral and legal boundaries is not a Bush or Obama problem but a CIA problem that transcends the policies and principals of whatever administration is in power.-MB