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Independent drug lab investigation first step to restoring integrity

Posted by Carol Rose, On Liberty October 31, 2012 04:48 PM

News that Attorney General Martha Coakley has called upon Governor Deval Patrick to appoint an independent investigator to conduct a broader review of the policies, practices, and oversight of the Hinton drug lab and its drug analysis unit is a great first step toward getting to the bottom of the drug lab scandal.

It's also a smart move by Coakley. Remember: she didn't ask to lead this investigation in the first place. Rather, she agreed to do so at the request of the Governor and because she's the state's top law enforcement officer.

FULL ENTRY

Do drone strikes help or hurt?

Posted by Carol Rose, On Liberty October 23, 2012 10:13 AM

During last night's presidential debate, Mitt Romney basically agreed with the Obama administration's position on drones. "I support that entirely, and feel the president was right to up the usage of that technology," Romney said.

But moderator Bob Schieffer's question didn't get nearly the attention it deserved. For more on the consequences of drone strikes, read this blog by Nancy Murray, director of education at the ACLU of Massachusetts: Terror Tuesday: Dread of Drones.

Please note that by playing this clip YouTube and Google will place a long term cookie on your computer.

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McGovern on politics and integrity

Posted by Carol Rose, On Liberty October 21, 2012 07:33 PM

The death of Senator George McGovern marks more than just the passing of a great statesman, World War II hero, and presidential candidate.

It also marks the passing of politics of integrity, although arguably that disappeared in 1972 when McGovern lost in a landslide to the soon-to-be-disgraced Richard Nixon and his plumbers.

On a more personal note, the 1972 McGovern versus Nixon campaign is etched in my memory as my first - and last - foray into electoral politics.

I was in the sixth grade. My older sister and I heard that a presidential candidate - McGovern - was speaking at the nearby college campus, so we walked over to watch. Tens of thousands of people were on hand to hear McGovern, who cut a heroic figure as he issued an eloquent call for peace in Vietnam.

Inspired, I decided to run the mock McGovern for President campaign at school. My friend, Christine, was running the Nixon campaign and, since her mom worked for the Republican National Committee, she was able to plaster the school hallways with slick red-white-and-blue Nixon signs. My hand-lettered McGovern posters, edged with rainbows and peace signs, were no match. When the mock election results came in, McGovern garnered only two votes - one was mine. The other was cast by a girl named Melissa, who confided in me that her parents wanted her to vote for George Wallace but since Wallace was not on the school ballot, she cast her vote for the only other Democrat.

I gave up political campaigns at that point and chose instead to become a journalist covering politics. Fifteen years later - in the mid-1980s - I met McGovern again when he visited the Des Moines Register newspaper, where I worked as an editorial writer. By then, Ronald Reagan was in the White House and McGovern was out of office. An editor walked through the newsroom announcing that McGovern was in town and willing to have lunch with anyone who was interested. I was the only taker.

For me, it was surreal to sit face-to-face with McGovern, since the only other time I had seen him was when he was a celebrity speaking to thousands of supporters. I asked him if he remembered that rally from 1972. Ever gracious, he assured me that he recalled that day with great fondness.

Then, with a twinkle in his eye, he remarked that fame and power are funny things - easily taken for granted and just as easily lost. I have never forgotten McGovern's lesson on the fickleness of power - especially political power - in America.

Upon hearing of his death, I am reminded that the true measure of our lives rests not on the power we wield, but the wisdom with which we wield it. By that measure, George McGovern was a great man.

When Boston Police spy on free speech, democracy suffers

Posted by Carol Rose, On Liberty October 18, 2012 06:00 AM

ACLU of Massachusetts education director Nancy Murray wrote this guest blog.

Psst! Check out this super-secret Boston Police "intelligence report":

"Local activists have been trying to get 'celebrity guest speakers' (Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon) for the March 24th demonstration, but at this time it appears that they have been unable to book any of these speakers for their event."

But some well-known speakers will be there. According to this intelligence report," compiled by the Boston police under the heading "Criminal Act--Groups-Extremists," among them will be Cindy Sheehan and a "BU professor emeritus/activist" whose name is redacted--it was the late Howard Zinn.

FULL ENTRY

Scandal costs and getting smart on safety

Posted by Carol Rose, On Liberty October 17, 2012 12:40 PM

This week marks the start of special drug court sessions to deal with the fallout from the Annie Dookhan-Hinton Drug Lab scandal. It's the beginning of re-litigating the cases against thousands of defendants, one by one, after the prosecution's house of cards fell, scattering tainted evidence everywhere you look.

Here's an idea: rather than drain our public coffers to re-try non-violent offenders and re-incarcerate them in over-crowded facilities, let's instead invest scarce public dollars creating community-based oversight and treatment reentry programs. Already, Mayor Thomas Menino and Police Commissioner Edward Davis are asking for $15 million to start such programs. Good for them for thinking big and acknowledging, at least implicitly, that the "war on drugs" has been a failure.

It's time to get smart on crime, and the drug lab scandal is a chance to do it right.

Compare that $15 million pricetag for providing social services to the estimated more than $100 million price tage for relitigating the 34,000 cases tained by the drug lab scandal!

FULL ENTRY

Drug lab scandal is a critical opportunity to fix the system

Posted by Carol Rose, On Liberty October 5, 2012 11:17 AM

Massachusetts prosecutors reportedly need $50 million in tax dollars to relitigate cases involving people wrongfully locked up as a result of the state drug lab scandal--and Suffolk County District Attorney Conley says that 300 to 500 people, including some who are "pretty dangerous," could be released.

Elected officials, voters and everyone else need to stop right now and pay attention.

FULL ENTRY

Posted by Carol Rose, On Liberty October 5, 2012 08:45 AM

Message to Obama and Romney: how not to catch a terrorist

Posted by Carol Rose, On Liberty October 3, 2012 10:48 AM

KeystoneKops.jpg

A scathing bi-partisan expose of domestic spying and government waste was issued today, once again showing that “security theater” does not keep us safe--but does waste tax dollars and threaten American freedom.

The report by the bi-partisan Senate Subcommittee on Permanent Investigations shows--in unintentionally comic detail--how local intelligence “fusion” spying centers waste millions in tax dollars, violate civil liberties of ordinary Americans and utterly fail to stop terrorists.

According to the report, these state-based domestic spying centers “forwarded intelligence of uneven quality--oftentimes shoddy, rarely timely, sometimes endangering citizens’ civil liberties and Privacy Act protections, occasionally taken from already published public sources, and more often than not unrelated to terrorism.”

”Homeland Security is probably the most ineffective agency in the government besides Social Security,” said Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn in today’s New York Times. Fusion centers “are not accomplishing anything in terms of terrorism.”

What a boondoggle!!

But do you think either President Obama and his rival, Governor Mitt Romney, will touch this fiasco in tonight’s debate? I doubt it, given that both men have played a role in building this wasteful and ineffective domestic spying apparatus.

FULL ENTRY

About the author

Carol Rose is executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. A lawyer and journalist, Carol has spent her career working for and writing about human rights and civil liberties, both in the United States and abroad. More »

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