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I’ve spent the past few days lamenting the loss of our first amendment.  In case you’ve forgotten, it goes like this:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

It pains me to put it down in black and white, but it’s dead on all levels.

As we discussed earlier in the week, the part about freedom of religion is now null and void. It seems as if the religious right has usurped the rights of the rest of us.  Just scroll down a couple of days and watch a bit of Mitt Romney’s address to the graduates at Liberty “University” in which he said, “There is no greater force for good in the nation than Christian conscience in action.”  

What about Jewish conscience, or Muslim conscience or human conscience? No, unless you are Christian, they tell us, you do not deserve to be president… Sad.

Now on to the second part

 abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble

Apparently, that’s gone too.  As more and more documents are released thanks to FOIA requests by people like my friend Jason Leopold at TruthOut, we learn that our tax dollars are being used to fund a crackdown on these constitutionally-guaranteed rights.  Just last week, Jason got another batch of documents from his – the first FOIA request of DHS from a news organization for documents relating to Occupy Wall Street.  He wrote about what was uncovered, and joined me this morning to discuss it.

While we learn to what lengths the surveillance of activists goes and the depths of the channels in on authorizing it all, we wait for more clampdowns on our First Amendment Rights this week, as the NATO Summit convenes in Chicago.

Truthout will be reporting on it, as will Allison Kilkenny for The Nation, and many others.  We’ll follow the action from here, and recap events as they happen on the show next week.

But there may be hope yet.  As the bodies are being picked up in Monty Python and the Holy Grail comes the pleas of one poor soul “I’m not dead yet”….  

and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Glenn Greenwald reports, to my great relief, at, that one courageous federal judge is not willing to write off our constitutional rights… not yet, anyway.  in his piece, “Federal court enjoins NDAA,” Greenwald tells us of a lawsuit brought by seven plaintiffs (including Chris Hedges, Daniel Ellsburg and Noam Chomsky!),

“…alleging that the NDAA violates ”both their free speech and associational rights guaranteed by the First Amendment as well as due process rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

I urge you to click here and read, with great wonderment and hope for the future (as I did aloud on today’s show), the rest of the piece… but a few glorious excerpts:

The ruling was a sweeping victory for the plaintiffs, as it rejected each of the Obama DOJ’s three arguments: (1) because none of the plaintiffs has yet been indefinitely detained, they lack “standing” to challenge the statute; (2) even if they have standing, the lack of imminent enforcement against them renders injunctive relief unnecessary; and (3) the NDAA creates no new detention powers beyond what the 2001 AUMF already provides.

… As for the DOJ’s first argument — lack of standing — the court found that the plaintiffs are already suffering substantial injury from the reasonable fear that they could be indefinitely detained under section 1021 of the NDAA as a result of their constitutionally protected activities….The court found that the plaintiffs have “shown an actual fear that their expressive and associational activities” could subject them to indefinite detention under the law,and “each of them has put forward uncontroverted evidence of concrete — non-hypothetical — ways in which the presence of the legislation has already impacted those expressive and associational activities” (as but one example, Hedges presented evidence that his “prior journalistic activities relating to certain organizations such as al-Qaeda and the Taliban” proves “he has a realistic fear that those activities will subject him to detention under § 1021″). Thus, concluded the court, these plaintiffs have the right to challenge the constitutionality of the statute notwithstanding the fact that they have not yet been detained under it; that’s because its broad, menacing detention powers are already harming them and the exercise of their constitutional rights.

… Significantly, the court here repeatedly told the DOJ that it could preclude standing for the plaintiffs if they were willing to state clearly that none of the journalistic and free speech conduct that the plaintiffs engage in could subject them to indefinite detention. But the Government refused to make any such representation. Thus, concluded the court, “plaintiffs have stated a more than plausible claim that the statute inappropriately encroaches on their rights under the First Amendment.” (Ed Note: WOW!)

… Perhaps most importantly, the court categorically rejected the central defense of this odious bill from the Obama administration and its defenders: namely, that it did nothing more than the 2001 AUMF already did and thus did not really expand the Government’s power of indefinite detention. The court cited three reasons why the NDAA clearly expands the Government’s detention power over the 2001 AUMF…”

Again, do read the entire piece, and remember the immortal words of the not quite dead guy from Monty Python…

I hope to have Glenn Greenwald on the show next week to discuss this further, and have yet another request in for Chris Hedges to come on as well…

Our right to free speech brings us the wonderful John Fugelsang most Thursdays.  If you’re in South Florida, I expect to see you at the Parker Playhouse this Saturday night to watch John’s one-man show, Guilt: A Love Story!