A number of interesting civil rights issues caught my eye recently:
- First, as reported here, the DOJ filed a complaint in federal court this week against Verizon Communications and the Maine Public Utilities Commission seeking an injunction preventing the latter from demanding that the former provide a sworn statement attesting to its prior assertion that it had not turned over consumer phone records to the NSA. In its complaint, the DOJ argued that if Verizon complies with the demand for a sworn statement, national security could be negatively affected. Me thinks the DOJ doth protest too much. If records weren't turned over, then why should the DOJ care about this?
- Second, as reported here, an interesting First Amendment issue was raised in a case where the home and business of a New Yorker who provides satellite broadcasts to his customers was raided by federal agents--because he allegedly provided broadcasts that included the Hezbollah station Al Manar (along with other broadcasts, such as Christian evangelists). (Hat tip: Talk Left). Mr. Iqbal is now in custody and held on $250,000 bail based on allegations that he provided material support for terrorism. Can one really "support terrorism" simply by virtue of broadcasting programming that is readily available in much of the world? Yet another story that makes me wonder if we live in China, where the government censors the information that reaches its citizens, or America, pre-9/11, where the First Amendment allowed for the free dissemination of information and ideas.
- Finally, as reported here, a Muslim physician, also an American, was removed from a U.S. flight earlier this week based upon allegations of suspicious behavior--provided by an allegedly drunk fellow passenger. (Hat tip: Kevin M.D.) The suspicious behavior? Flying while Muslim and reciting his evening prayers:
"The whole situation is just really frustrating," Farooq said. "It makes you uneasy, because you realize you have to essentially watch every single thing you say and do, and it's worse for people who are of colour, who are identifiable as a minority"...
When flight personnel were alerted, the 27-year-old radiology resident and two colleagues — a man and a woman — were taken off their flight. They had been returning from a conference in San Francisco.
Farooq said that even officials from the Transportation Security Administration soon realized the flight crew had overreacted, but by the time that conclusion had been reached the trio were forced to stay in Denver for the night and catch a flight the next day — at their own expense.