Constitution in Crisis :: December 2016

The Uncensored FBI Letter to MLK Found Hidden in the National Archives
We Don’t Like ‘Fake News’ Either, But the Creation of a Neo-McCarthyite Committee to Counter Russian Propaganda Is Most Definitely NOT the Answer
December 3, 2016
US Capitol Dome. Blue night sky behind.
Senate Passes Bill Aimed at Silencing Pro-Palestinian Activism on Campuses
December 6, 2016

Dear Troublemakers,

Thanks to all who contributed to our #GivingTuesday fundraising drive! There is tremendous hunger in cities, towns, and counties to organize to protect civil liberties in the face of the incoming administration. We are scrambling to support all that energy, and your donations are deeply appreciated.

As we prepare for a Trump administration, we can’t ignore the current Congress, which isn’t doing us any favors. Last week, the House passed a dangerous bill that threatens freedom of the press in the United States.

The Intelligence Authorization Act includes a provision that creates a Committee to counter Russian “media manipulation,” “disinformation,” and other covert measures in the U.S. The Committee’s mandate is so broad (in short, anything the President tells them to do) that a President could easily subvert the work of the Committee into a McCarthyite witch hunt to go after media and activism that displeases him.

“Fake news” based on lies and deception is frustrating and a real problem, but a government committee made up of people appointed by the Attorney General and heads of the FBI, Department of Defense, and National Intelligence is most definitely NOT the answer.

We are already seeing moves toward blacklists and baseless accusations of Russian influence that are eerily reminiscent of the Red Scare. The Washington Post recently reported that “experts” had uncovered supposed covert Russian influence over a number of respected independent media outlets on the left and right, including some of our favorites, like TruthOut, Black Agenda Report,, Ron Paul Institute, and Counterpunch. What they all have in common is a political heterodoxy and willingness to challenge conventional wisdom and the status quo.

Why is Congress handing the Trump Administration a brand new tool to bludgeon the media? It’s the last thing we need.

Write to your Senators and ask them to refuse to support an Intelligence Bill that includes this dangerous provision.

Read background here:
We Don’t Like ‘Fake News’ Either, But the Creation of a Neo-McCarthyite Committee to Counter Russian Propaganda Is Most Definitely NOT the Answer

Stay Loud, Stay Strong,

Sue Udry, Executive Director

P.S. Help us build walls of resistance to repression and xenophobia: local ordinances can protect your rights.

Now keep reading for the latest articles from the Dissent NewsWire …

Grassroots Updates

BORDC/DDF supports grassroots activism to protect and advance Constitutional rights. Join the movement! Please reach us at Here are some organizing highlights from around the country:

How to Resist Trump? Local Ordinances Have the Effect of Law and Protect Your Rights
We can’t count on Congress to be a check on a gross overreach of Executive Branch powers. But we can look to our own local governments. We can draw a line in the sand around our towns, cities, counties and even a few states. The wall of resistance starts at home.We’re Building a Wall Too. A Wall Of Resistance
The President-elect has promised more surveillance, more racial profiling and “law and order,” more deportations, torture, and mass incarceration, and less freedom of religion, speech, and assembly. Trump may think he’s going to get away with all of th… Read More…

Standing Room Only for Cambridge Surveillance Transparency Ordinance
On Monday, November 21, Cambridge Mayor Denise Simmons introduced an ordinance to require transparency and oversight of police surveillance technology. Read More…

How Did Civil Liberties Fare On Your Ballot?
Last week, the Dissent NewsWire reported on ballot initiatives to watch during the 2016 elections. Election day turned out favorably for marijuana legalization, but other civil liberties did not fair nearly as well. In particular, we saw major losses in regards to the death penalty, the right to assemble, and reforming the prison system. Read More…

Victory! Judge Rejects Proposed NYPD Spying Settlement, Says NYPD Needs Greater Oversight
On October 28, 2016 U.S. District Judge Charles Haight rejected a proposed settlement pertaining to the New York Police Department’s spying on religious and political activity, saying that the guidelines did not do enough to safeguard civil liberties. Read More…

Sheriffs Refuse to Send Troops to Standing Rock as Public Outrage and Costs Mount
North Dakota is stretched thin in its battle to protect the Dakota Access pipeline construction: Costs are nearing $15 million, and police reinforcements are diminishing. Read More…

Frank Rosen: Union Organizer, Political Activist, Civil Libertarian
Frank Rosen, longtime labor leader, political activist, and member of the Defending Dissent Foundation board, died November 28, 2016 in Chicago where he spent most of his life. He was 91. Read More…

Advocacy and Agitation

BORDC/DDF is your voice in the Nation’s Capitol. We advocate and agitate in Congress and with the Executive branch. Here are just a few of the issues we raised last month:

We Don’t Like ‘Fake News’ Either, But the Creation of a Neo-McCarthyite Committee to Counter Russian Propaganda Is Most Definitely NOT the Answer
The House passed a passed a provision that raises the specter of Russian “media manipulation” and “disinformation,” and creates a committee to counter such efforts. That raises concerns.

Here Are 11 Actions President Obama Can Take Right Now to Reduce Trump’s Ability to Spy On Us All
BORDC/DDF joined with thirty organizations from across the political spectrum today to ask President Obama to implement 11 measures concerning the surveillance state in order “to protect our system of separated powers and make sure that our government continues working as the founders intended.” He can take these steps before he steps down, but will he?Read More…

The Morning After Letter: Either way, we had our work cut out for us. We will stay loud, we will stay strong.

Dear Troublemakers, I will confess I was fooled by the polls and had a different email ready to send you last night. In that email I warned that we had our work cut out for us under a Clinton Presidency. She has not made a name for herself as a civil libertarian. Neither has Mr. Trump.Read More…

News and Analysis

How Cities Can Protect People Threatened By Trumpism
Cities can offer shelter and protection to their vulnerable citizens and become a place progressives can exert real power.

What Does Jeff Sessions Mean for Civil Liberties?
Sessions has a long and documented history of opposing the rights of vulnerable populations, disregarding the First Amendment, and championing torture. As Attorney General, Sessions would be head of the department in charge of overseeing the protections of civil rights and the most powerful law enforcement in the nation. Given his historic hostility to civil liberties this is unacceptable. Sessions was rightfully rejected as a judicial nomination and should be similarly rejected for Attorney General.

Manning in Prison, Snowden in Exile, Petraeus in…the Next Presidential Cabinet?
The juxtaposition of Petraeus with whistleblowers like Jeffrey Sterling, Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and John Kiriakou illustrates a massive double standard: if you leak information for the public good then you are a traitor, but if you leak information out of pure negligence from a position of power then you can be the next secretary of state.

What Does Steve Bannon’s Appointment Mean for Civil Liberties?
Bannon’s appointment also has to be viewed in the context of Trump’s other appointments thus far, which have been varying degrees of horrific when it comes to condoning and promoting what the BORDC/DDF stands against

Edward Snowden Weighs in on Trump Presidency and Privacy at Event

FBI Voter Suppression Then, FBI Voter Suppression Now
The FBI, apparently unsatisfied with the torrent of criticisms they have faced for allegedly intervening in the election, has now decided to pay visits to Muslims-Americans of Afghani and Pakistani national origin in eight states days before the election.

CVE is Trump’s Ugly Anti-Muslim Words Put Into Action in Schools and Community
Trump’s anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant rhetoric made waves again over the weekend when he visited Minnesota and ranted against the Somali immigrant community there.