22 December 2005

Pentagon spied on gay student groups

bizarre, if slightly scary...

New York Blade: Pentagon spied on gay student groups, report says Gay kiss-in labeled 'credible threat' By ANDREW KEEGAN Dec 20, 5:38 PM Pentagon officials have spied on student groups opposed to the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on openly gay military personnel, according to media reports.

A February protest at New York University was one of the events under government surveillance, NBC News reported last week.The network reported that the law school’s gay advocacy group, OUTlaw, was classified as "potentially violent" by the Pentagon. "I was shocked to read that OUTLaw was classified as a threat and investigated," OUTlaw Co-chair Rebecca Fisher said in a telephone interview on Monday. "Since we still don't know how the Pentagon went about investigating us, I'm wondering how far they went in invading our personal privacy to make their determination. Did they read our e-mail? Monitor our meetings?”

Ellen Kranke, a Department of Defense spokesperson who handles issues regarding sexual orientation at the Pentagon, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Fisher said the Bush administration continues to display an attitude that is anything but democratic."For all its talk about democracy and free speech, this administration seems to feel very threatened by our peaceful exercise of our First Amendment rights," Fisher said. "This does not reflect the values of our Constitution. It's what you'd expect to see in a totalitarian police state, not in a country founded on freedom of conscience."

NBC also reported that a "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" protest at University of California Santa Cruz, which included a gay kiss-in, was labeled as a "credible threat" of terrorism by the Pentagon.Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a group dedicated to helping military members affected by the "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy, condemned the Pentagon surveillance and monitoring. "The Pentagon is supposed to defend the Constitution, not turn it upside down,"

Dixon Osburn, SLDN executive director, said in a statement released Dec. 20. "Students have a first amendment right to protest and Americans have a right to expect that their government will respect our constitutional right to privacy."SLDN said it plans to submit a Freedom of Information Act request to learn if other gay organizations have also been monitored by the government."To suggest that a gay kiss-in is a 'credible threat' is absurd, homophobic and irrational," Osburn said. "To suggest the Constitution does not apply to groups with views differing with Pentagon policy is chilling."

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Course Outline

Lord Justice Lawton in Maxwell v Department of Trade and Industry [1974] 2 All ER 122 said:

"From time to time ... lawyers and judges have tried to define what constitutes fairness. Like defining an elephant, it is not easy to do, although fairness in practice has the elephantine quality of being easy to recognise. As a result of these efforts a word in common usage has acquired the trappings of legalism: 'acting fairly' has become 'acting in accordance with the rules of natural justice', and on occasion has been dressed up with Latin tags. This phrase in my opinion serves no useful purpose and in recent years it has encouraged lawyers to try to put those who hold inquiries into legal straitjackets.... For the purposes of my judgment I intend to ask myself this simple question: did the [decision-maker] act fairly towards the plaintiff?"

This course examines the elephantine concept of fairness in the law, along with other contemporary legal issues.

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