About midway through yesterday's immigration chat with Vice President Biden and Domestic Policy Advisor Cecilia Muñoz, I started to get the sneaking suspicion that the conversation was a tightly controlled event, with the questioners chosen beforehand, even though it wasn't advertised as such.
What happens when legislatures pass laws enabling law enforcement to obtain sensitive, private information about people without requiring any evidence of criminal activity, and without any outside oversight whatsoever?
Take a look at this graph, produced by US Cellular in response to Senator Ed Markey's letters to cell phone companies seeking information about law enforcement surveillance requests.
Thanks to Edward Snowden we now understand that the NSA runs many dragnet surveillance programs, some of which target Americans. But a story yesterday from Washington, D.C. public radio station WAMU is a reminder that dragnet surveillance is not just a tool of the NSA—the local police use mass surveillance as well.
Today, the state of North Carolina will try to convince a judge to postpone a trial concerning the country's worst voter suppression law until after the 2014 midterm elections. The state's reason: so that it can carry out the elections under a regime that would burden thousands of eligible voters before the court has a chance to determine whether it violates federal law.
Late last night, like many LGBT South Asian Americans, I waited anxiously to see how India's Supreme Court would rule on a colonial-era law that criminalized homosexuality. The ruling came in just after midnight Eastern Standard Time, and it was a major setback: the Court reversed a 2009 lower court judgment and restored the ban on homosexuality.
Last week, the world lost a great man, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
Madiba's uncompromising commitment to self-determination was a first principle of his struggle against apartheid and toward racial equality. In his first television interview in 1961, Madiba talked about the cornerstone of a democratic and free society: one-person one-vote. "The Africans require, want, the franchise on the basis of one man one vote. They want political independence." he said.
Last week I wrote about how a central problem with reliance on the FISA Court as a principal pillar of NSA oversight is that the court, in an environment of extreme secrecy and without an adversarial proceeding, has no reliable means of determining whether its orders have been carried out. We have learned plenty in recent months about the agency’s failure to follow the law.