May 30, 2007

Civil Rights, Security, and One Man’s Solution

Even as President George W. Bush authorized a controversial plan to centralize government powers in the White House following any large-scale national disaster, a closed group of government officials and scholars studied “contingencies” for dealing with nuclear terrorism in the United States.

“The Day After,” a meeting hosted by the Preventive Defense Project, was staged behind closed doors in Washington, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The group addressed a variety of issues, including health and shelter concerns, as well as the imposition of martial law and the eventual restoration of civil liberties.

Terrorism fears turned inward in Alabama, where the state’s Homeland Security office was found to host a Web site that listed anti-war and gay rights activist groups among possible terror suspects.

The site was taken down following protests.

In Washington, the National Security Agency has come under fire for an internal report that described organizational disarray and a lack of accountability.

Congressional, military and intelligence leaders said they had not known about the report until after the Baltimore Sun obtained portions it.

In the United Kingdom, privacy and civil rights advocates decried a push for increased police powers to stop and question individuals, and expanded DNA tracking even for minor offenders.

They’d have to think twice about Hasan Elahi, a Bangladeshi-born professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey who opted to put his entire life and daily itinerary online after mistakenly being listed on a “do not fly” list.

Wired News reports that Elahi posts his travel schedule, credit card transactions, thousands of pictures and GPS tracking data online, as part of an “audacious art project” that also keeps him out of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

Sources:

“Contingencies for nuclear terrorist attack / Government working up plan to prevent chaos in wake of bombing of major city”
San Francisco Chronicle, May 11, 2007

“National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive”
The White House, May 9, 2007

“Alabama terrorism website is pulled amid outcry / Antiwar, gay-rights and other activist groups were listed on the site”
Associated Press, May 28, 2007

“NSA leaders pressed to explain report faulting agency culture / Congress, Pentagon, intelligence director want to know about flaws”
Baltimore Sun, May 17, 2007

“Minister’s plan for new stop-and-question powers takes senior officers by surprise”
The Guardian, May 28, 2007

“Civil rights fears over DNA file for everyone”
The Observer (U.K.), May 27, 2007

“The Visible Man: An FBI Target Puts His Whole Life Online”
Wired.com, May 22, 2007

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