Treating people with dignity and respect is a GOOD thing

Every once in awhile, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe comes out with a whopper. Today he introduced legislation to financially punish Pennsylvania cities that adopt sanctuary policies for illegal alien invader martian foreign strange-looking funny-talking people. And how many PA cities have such policies?

Zero.

Although there are currently no official sanctuary cities in Pennsylvania, over the last two years city officials in both Allentown and York introduced, but did not enact sanctuary ordinances. In June 2007, several Pennsylvania mayors, including John Brenner (York), Chris Doherty (Scranton), Richard Friedberg (Meadville), Richard Gray (Lancaster), Ed Pawloski (Allentown), Luke Ravenstahl (Pittsburgh), Brian Sanford (Titusville) and Rick Vilello (Lock Haven), went on public record at aclupa.blogspot.com in opposition to Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta’s city ordinance to criminally penalize individuals caught providing jobs, housing or other taxpayer-funded benefits to illegal aliens.

Is that a reference to SF in a press release from a state legislator? That, my friends, is a first, as far as I know. The post in question actually linked to a story in The Standard Speaker of Hazleton.

Metcalfe continues to use his “Invasion PA” report. This report was debunked by conservative columnist Dimitri Vassilaros of The Pittsburgh Tribune Review. In that column, Northampton County DA John Morganelli distanced himself from the report, after he was one of the featured speakers at the report’s release. (Morganelli is the Democratic nominee for Attorney General.)

The ACLU has no position on sanctuary cities, but we encourage governments- local, state, and federal- to implement policies that discourage discrimination, welcome immigrants, and carry out the basic American value of fairness. Only Rep. Metcalfe could think that treating people with dignity and respect is a bad thing.

Andy in Harrisburg

Posted in Uncategorized

And more surveillance…

Every time we comment on the 2008 elections here at SF, keep in mind we are a non-partisan organization that does not endorse candidates. I will say that every time news comes up on civil liberties and civil rights issues in relation to the 2008 elections. Frankly, most of what you will see here on the elections will probably be criticism of the candidates. No one’s perfect.

An adviser to Republican presidential candidate John McCain says that Senator McCain supports warrantless surveillance in violation of the Fourth Amendment, errr, for protection of the country. The New York Times today and Glenn Greenwald earlier in the week have both reported on McCain’s flip-flop from his responses on the issue in December to a candidate survey conducted by The Boston Globe.

Although a spokesman for Mr. McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, denied that the senator’s views on surveillance and executive power had shifted, legal specialists said the letter contrasted with statements Mr. McCain previously made about the limits of presidential power.

In an interview about his views on the limits of executive power with The Boston Globe six months ago, Mr. McCain strongly suggested that if he became the next commander in chief, he would consider himself obligated to obey a statute restricting what he did in national security matters.

Mr. McCain was asked whether he believed that the president had constitutional power to conduct surveillance on American soil for national security purposes without a warrant, regardless of federal statutes.

He replied: “There are some areas where the statutes don’t apply, such as in the surveillance of overseas communications. Where they do apply, however, I think that presidents have the obligation to obey and enforce laws that are passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, no matter what the situation is.”

Following up, the interviewer asked whether Mr. McCain was saying a statute trumped a president’s powers as commander in chief when it came to a surveillance law. “I don’t think the president has the right to disobey any law,” Mr. McCain replied.

This isn’t completely news. In February, McCain voted with the administration on the FISA revision bill, as documented here at SF.

Of course, no one is going to confuse McCain with a constitutional scholar. This cat thinks the Constitution established the United States as a Christian nation. Senator, where in the Constitution are the words “God” and “Christian”? My copy doesn’t have the G word or the C word.

Andy in Harrisburg

Posted in Uncategorized

Virtual strip search machines, coming to an airport near you

Another brick in the building of a surveillance society. The USA Today reports today that 10 airports will install or have installed body scanning machines that show images underneath a person’s clothing. You can see what it looks like here.

In our region, airports on the list include Baltimore-Washington International- a popular airport among folks here in south central PA-, JFK in New York, and National in Washington. I’ve been flying out of Harrisburg International Airport a lot lately, and it is suddenly looking all the more inviting. I can see that next marketing scheme: “HIA: Where we don’t ask to look under your clothes!”

The ACLU responded:

The TSA effort could encourage scanners’ use in rail stations, arenas and office buildings, the American Civil Liberties Union said. “This may well set a precedent that others will follow,” said Barry Steinhardt, head of the ACLU technology project…

Steinhardt of the ACLU said passengers would be alarmed if they saw the image of their body. “It all seems very clinical and non-threatening — you go through this portal and don’t have any idea what’s at the other end,” he said.

Passengers in line at these airports should recite the Fourth Amendment while waiting for screening: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.

Andy in Harrisburg

Posted in Uncategorized