Constitution in Crisis :: BORDC/DDF May 2016 Newsletter

Kris Hermes signs his book "Crashing the Party"
Legal Worker, Social Justice Activist Kris Hermes Honored With May Patriot Award
April 30, 2016
j edgar hoover FBI Building
Support Bill That Would Create a Free Speech Shield for FBI Whistleblowers
May 2, 2016
Kris Hermes signs his book "Crashing the Party"
Legal Worker, Social Justice Activist Kris Hermes Honored With May Patriot Award
April 30, 2016
j edgar hoover FBI Building
Support Bill That Would Create a Free Speech Shield for FBI Whistleblowers
May 2, 2016

Dear Troublemakers,

Have you ever wondered how many surveillance cameras film you as you go about your daily business? On your way to work, to the store, dropping the kids at school or walking your dog? Or, how many surveillance cameras filmed the last march or rally you attended? Wouldn’t it be great if there was a resource that could help you find the least surveilled route to wherever you are headed? Well, the wait is almost over! We are pleased to team up with on an exciting project that will map surveillance cameras throughout the country. You can join in, and help us plot the millions of cameras that are watching us. No computer or coding experience is necessary. Find out how to get involved here.

I’d also like to ask for your help in lobbying to pass the FBI Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (S 2390). We all know that the FBI has abused its mission with impunity, and part of the reason is that its employees are not afforded basic whistleblower rights and protections. The FBI Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, will fix that, and help to ensure that the nation’s top law enforcement agency is held accountable to the rule of law. Read more and send an email to your members of Congress here.

Stay Loud, Stay Strong,


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:

Legal Worker, Social Justice Activist Kris Hermes Honored With May Patriot Award
Kris is a legal worker who recently served on the board and staff of the National Lawyers Guild. He has been a social justice activist since the 1980s, when he worked on the issues of global hunger and poverty. In the late 1990s, he became a member of ACT UP Philadelphia, a group that works to advance social change on health care issues for people with HIV/AIDS. ACT UP Philadelphia describes itself as “a group of individuals united in anger and committed to ending the AIDS crisis through direct action.”

New Website Aims to Map Surveillance Cameras Across the Nation, and the World
New tool to map surveillance cameras aims to be useful as both a visual representation of the immensity of the global surveillance infrastructure, as well as provide tactical information and tools to activists around the world.

Divest, Defund and Deinstitutionalize: College Campuses are Demanding Justice
2.2 million Americans are locked up in federal facilities, state prisons and local jails. It’s an industry that’s growing and feeding off of private prison institutions that are looking to serve their agendas at the cost of thousands of lives. State representatives have called for reform, civil society has fought back, and now, university students are taking it upon themselves to make a change.

Supporters of Bill to Deny Contracts to California Businesses that Support BDS Spend Hearing Decrying Campus Activism
On April 19, 2016 The California State Assembly Committee on Judiciary considered and ultimately passed an amended version of the “Combating Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions Act.”

1000 Massachusetts Residents Call on Health and Human Services to Reject Federal Prosecutors’ “Violent Extremism” Campaign
Social justice, civil rights and privacy advocates delivered a petition signed by over 1000 Massachusetts residents urging the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services to end its collaboration with a federal law enforcement campaign known as “Countering Violent Extremism.”

Local Candidate Questionnaires Show Widespread Support for Investigating FBI
It doesn’t matter if they are Republicans, Democrats, Greens, Libertarians, or independents: all of the candidates running for federal office in Montgomery County, Maryland agree on one thing – that the FBI’s political spying should be investigated.

Oakland PD Monitoring Social Media, Despite Privacy Commission Win
The city of Oakland has yet again become a hotspot in the fight against mass surveillance. The East Bay Express reports the Oakland Police Department began using a social media surveillance and analytics tool called Geofeedia, but the public was never informed about it.

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:

Groups to FBI: Dismantle Dangerous and Misleading Website
BORDC/DDF and others ask FBI to take down website that violates the First Amendment rights of Muslims and some political activists including those engaged in animal rights, environmental, anti-tax and abortion issues. The game, designed to be used in schools also promotes prejudice and exacerbates an environment of bigotry and bullying that innocent individuals—especially children in schools—are already facing.

A To Do List for the President: How to Revive His Legacy for Open and Transparent Government in 10 Months
Last month, BORDC/DDF joined with good government groups to outline a plan of action for the President to live up to his promise to be the most transparent administration ever. Our recommendations include improving FOIA releasing the Senate Torture Report, whistleblower protection and more.

A Dose of Accountability for the FBI? Bill to Protect Agency Whistleblowers Passes Senate Judiciary Committee
On April 14th, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed the Federal Bureau of Investigation Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act to ensure that the nation’s top law enforcement agency is held accountable to the rule of law.

Should Congress Try to Understand Encryption Before they Outlaw It?
While the feud between Apple and the FBI attracts the media attention, Congress is where the real battle over encryption will be fought. And like past congressional forays into complex tech debates (see cybersecurity, online piracy and net neutrality), our elected officials have reliably shown their inability to grasp complex issues and consistently ignored constitutional protections in pursuit of knee-jerk fixes.

Judge Asks if Settlement on Abusive NYPD Spying Is “Fair.” What About Effective?
A Federal Judge heard oral comments on Tuesday in a “Fairness Hearing” regarding the NYPD’s abusive spying on Muslims and political activists. The hearing stemmed from two class-action lawsuits, Raza v. City of New York and Handschu v. Special Services Division.

News and Analysis

Imprisoning Our Unique Greatness: Halim Flowers on Reforming the Prison System and the Treatment of Juveniles
In January 20, 1997 Halim Flowers was convicted of a felony as a 16-year-old. Though his age merited treatment as a juvenile, the federal court in Washington, D.C. chose to treat him as an adult, sentencing him to life in prison for a crime he maintains he did not commit.

Solitary Confinement and Justice: Why Albert Woodfox’s Release is Not Enough
After 43 years, Albert Woodfox, the longest-standing American held in solitary confinement, has been released. The Supreme Court has found that Eighth Amendment applies to the treatment of prisoners and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights division has stated that solitary confinement of prisoners with mental illness or disability violates the Eighth Amendment. However, it to difficult to argue that solitary confinement in general does not constitute “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Video? What Video? UC Davis Attempts to Censor the Internet. And Finds It Does Not Work
UC Davis contracted with consultants for at least $175,000 to scrub the Internet of negative online postings following the November 2011 pepper-spraying of students.

FBI failed to follow its own rules when it impersonated The Associated Press in a 2007 investigation
The FBI failed to follow its own rules when agents impersonated an Associated Press reporter in order to locate a criminal suspect in 2007, according to documents newly released in response to a FOIA lawsuit filed by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and The Associated Press.

It’s Earth Day! Will the FBI Take the Day Off and Let Environmentalists Celebrate Un-Surveilled, Un-Harassed and Un-Infiltrated?
To celebrate Earth Day, we’ll take a look at some blog posts from the past several years that document the FBI’s use of the treat of homegrown terrorism to justify a secret campaign of surveillance, harassment, and entrapment against the environmental activists and groups, which continues to this day.

Whistleblowing and the Panama Papers: Exploring the Connections
Described as potentially the largest whistleblowing document disclosure in history, the release of 11.5 million records in the Panama Papers will inherently force societies globally to make basic choices about the conflict between secrecy and accountability.