The Alabama Board of Pardons and Parole's posthumous pardon today of the last of the black men wrongly convicted of the rape of two white women 82 years ago in Scottsboro, Alabama seems to write the final chapter of a sorry story that epitomizes the racial injustice and procedural unfairness that dominated the criminal justice system in the United States in the beginning of the last century. It would be difficult to concoct a process more unfair from beginning to end.
For more than seven years, the government has collected the phone records of every American under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, without ever having to justify the program's legality in a public and adversarial court hearing — that is, until this week.
With the latest release of documents about the NSA and the FISA Court (this one in response to an ACLU/EFF Freedom of Information Act request) we now have yet more evidence that the NSA’s compliance with the court’s orders has been poor. We learn, for example, that, according to the court, “the NSA exceeded the scope of authorized [metadata] acquisition continuously during the more than [redacted] years of acquisition under these orders.” And, “NSA’s record of compliance with these rules has been poor.”
With all the talk about immigration reform that goes on behind closed doors in Washington DC, it's rare to hear from the people who actually live on the US-Mexico border, and who will be profoundly affected by what Congress does or doesn't do regarding immigration.
Last night the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision refusing to block a Texas law that has forced more than one third of the women's health centers to stop providing abortion. The Court reached its decision despite the fact that the law is having devastating effects on women in the three weeks that it's been in place. Women have been turned away from clinics.
Growing up in Iran I know too well the impact of unchecked government surveillance. Even as a small child, I had to worry about what I said and asked over the phone because the government could be listening and might use what I said against my family.