Tag Archives: Civil Liberties

What Ancient Tents of the Israelites Teach us About Modern Privacy Issues

Components of the USA Patriot Act are set to expire next month, giving us an important opportunity to consider contemporary issues of privacy and national security going forward. The Patriot Act, signed into law in 2001 by President Bush and extended in 2011 by President Obama, is a highly controversial piece of legislation that significantly expanded government surveillance of American citizens. The bill was drafted in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks that took place on September 11, 2001and was intended to be an anti-terrorism measure. Many, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Constitution Project, opposed the bill on the grounds that it restricted civil liberties and privacy rights. Today, issues surrounding the extent of the National Security Agency’s surveillance remain at the forefront of privacy and security conversations. Companies including Apple, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook are vocally opposing the extension of the Patriot Act.

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High School Student Lobbies Against Torture at L’Taken

Last week, Bailey Roos of Temple Beth El in San Antonio, Texas lobbied her members of Congress in support of the American Anti-Torture Act last introduced in the 112th Congress as part of our L’Taken social justice seminar. In her speech, Bailey talked about her own perception of torture as it related to her Jewish values and her experience visiting Israel last summer: Read more…

We Can’t Wait Another Year to Close Guantanamo

This Sunday, January 11, marks 13 years since the first detainees arrived at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center. The facility was opened in 2002 to hold and interrogate individuals suspected to be related to the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent “War on Terror” launched by the Bush Administration. Over the past 13 years, 779 prisoners have been held at Guantanamo, 127 of whom remain there today: detained without a trial or even held indefinitely. Read more…

After The Torture Report

Earlier this month, the Senate Select Intelligence Committee’s report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program was released to the public. The hope of all who oppose torture is that the report will serve to prevent the behavior described within it from ever happening again, including the key findings that prisoners held by the U.S. or our allies on our behalf were grossly mistreated and abused. After years of opacity, we are finally able to know definitively how inhumane and ineffective “enhanced interrogation” has been.

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Human Rights Day and the Senate Torture Report

Today is Human Rights Day, celebrated worldwide on the anniversary of the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration includes 30 articles, including the right to education, freedom from slavery, and equality under law has been used as a basis for international treaties against discrimination, on behalf of the rights of women and, perhaps most notably on Human Rights Day 2014, the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT). Read more…

At the U.N. Convention Against Torture, Hints of Positive Change in Eradicating Torture

This past week, the United Nations Convention Against Torture met and examined President George W. Bush and President Obama’s track records on cruel and inhumane treatment of prisoners. The panel that monitors compliance with an international anti-torture was critical of the treatment of prisoners currently being held at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility. They questioned the United States delegation on practices such as the four-hour minimum sleep standards that could lead to unnecessary sleep deprivation, according to a New York Times report from last week.

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Force Feeding, Guantanamo Hunger Strikes, and What Our Rabbis Teach

Torture, while cruel and inhumane, is not something that we often hear about from mainstream media, nor is it something we have written about very recently at the Religious Action Center. The Reform Jewish position on this issue is clear: in a post-9/11 world we understand the need for enhanced national security, and yet we believe that security must be balanced with the importance of civil liberties and bodily autonomy. Experts agree that torturing prisoners or holding them in extended solitary confinement go beyond the practical needs of national security (since torture is found to be an ineffective way to obtain information) and abandon the constitutional right to due process as well as fundamental Jewish values. Nearly six years after President Obama came into office and promised to close Guantanamo Bay, the detention center stays open and the 149 individuals held there remain.

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Remembering 9/11 banner resources for you and your community

Remembering 9/11: Civil Liberties and National Security

Today marks thirteen years since the day a plane flew into the Twin Towers and destroyed the Manhattan skyline, as I had known it for the first nine years of my life.

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