British playwright John Mortimer: Blair a disaster for civil liberties

Blair and human rights, cartoon

From an interview in The Independent with British playwright John Mortimer:

I wish people would take more notice of…

The British constitution.

This Government has unpicked Magna Carta: imprisonment without trial, threatening to curtail jury trials and limit cross-examination.

Wild, mad authoritarianism has crept into the Labour Party.

They have destroyed our civil liberties more than the Conservatives would ever dare.

Civil liberties in Australia threatened: here.

7 thoughts on “British playwright John Mortimer: Blair a disaster for civil liberties

  1. ACLU Defends Denver 3
    Posted by: “bigraccoon” redwoodsaurus
    Sat Mar 3, 2007 12:25 pm (PST)

    In 2005 Bush was going around the country talking up his Social
    Security plan. These activists obtained tickets to the taxpayer
    funded event, but when they arrived in a car with bumper sticker
    “No blood for oil” which identified them as “opposing Bush” – they
    were pulled out of line and not allowed to enter the event. The
    White House said they weren’t responsible – the decision was made
    by others. Now during trial proceedings a WH official admits it was
    White House policy to exclude potentially disruptive guests from
    Bush’s appearances nationwide. Exactly what we’ve suspected
    – White House policy.

    Activists’ Expulsion Cited as Bush Rule

    2005 FORUM IN DENVER By Bruce Finley – Denver Post Staff Writer

    A former White House official who ordered three activists expelled
    from a 2005 Denver public forum with President Bush says it was
    White House policy to exclude potentially disruptive guests from
    Bush’s appearances nationwide.

    The former official, Steve Atkiss, revealed the policy Friday in an
    interview after two volunteer bouncers identified him and a current
    White House staffer, Jamie O’Keefe, as the officials who ordered the
    so-called Denver Three activists sent away from the event. The
    activists had done nothing to disrupt the forum, and two of them
    sued over the incident.

    In sworn legal depositions, bouncers Michael Casper and Jay Bob
    Klinkerman for the first time named the White House officials who
    they say ordered the Denver Three to be excluded.

    An American Civil Liberties Union legal team is challenging the
    expulsion in federal court, arguing that it violated the activists’
    constitutional free-speech rights. They had obtained tickets to
    attend the taxpayer-financed public forum about Social Security.

    Guests who disagree with Bush can stay at public forums if they are
    well-behaved, “but certainly, if there’s an indication somebody’s
    primary intent is to cause trouble, we are looking to avoid trouble,”
    said Atkiss, who now serves as a U.S. Department of Homeland
    Security Customs and Border Protection chief of staff.

    He was interviewed Friday by cellphone from an Alabama runway
    where he was waiting for a helicopter. “If it became obvious and
    apparent somebody is there to create a fuss, there was an effort
    made to ensure that didn’t happen,” Atkiss said.

    The expulsions before Bush’s 2005 appearance in Denver happened
    at a time when “there was a concerted effort on the part of a lot of
    organizations to go way out of their way to intentionally disrupt the
    president’s speeches,” he said.

    ACLU attorneys now are planning to file a second case in U.S.
    District Court targeting the White House officials.

    White House security staff “certainly has the right to eject persons
    who try to shout a speaker down, block him from being heard or
    otherwise cause a disruption. But ‘potentially’ disruptive is not a
    legitimate reason to exclude persons from a public event,” ACLU
    legal director Mark Silverstein said. “This is especially true in this
    case, where our clients were apparently labeled as potentially
    disruptive simply because they were perceived to disagree with the
    president.” White House spokesman Blair Jones declined comment.

    Friday’s revelations by the bouncers appeared to contradict a White
    House spokesman’s assertion in 2005 that volunteers were
    responsible for ejecting the Denver Three – self-described
    progressives Alex Young, Leslie Weise and Karen Bauer. Only
    Young and Weise are involved in the federal lawsuit.

    That spokesman, Scott McClellan, who resigned last year, could not
    be reached for comment. McClellan at the time also said: “The
    White House wants a diversity of voices at these events.”

    The ACLU team seeks a federal court ruling that a policy of excluding
    event guests violates the First Amendment. “We would hope, then,
    that the White House would change their policy,” lead attorney
    Martha Tierney said.

    According to attorneys for both sides in the lawsuit, the bouncers
    testified that Casper told White House officials Atkiss and O’Keefe at
    the forum that several local volunteers had identified the activists as
    people with a history of disrupting political events. The White House
    officials then directed Casper to “please ask them to leave,” which
    he did, the bouncers said in their depositions.

    “I don’t think the law requires someone to actually become disruptive
    before you eject them,” said Sean Gallagher, one of the attorneys
    defending Casper and Klinkerman. They had moved for the lawsuit
    to be dismissed, saying the bouncers operated under orders from
    federal officials and therefore were immune from lawsuits.

    A federal appeals court on Tuesday denied a motion to block the

    The incident happened March 21, 2005, shortly before Bush arrived
    for the forum at the Wings Over the Rockies museum in east
    Denver. Young, Bauer and Weise obtained tickets from the office of
    then-U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez. They arrived in a red Saab hatchback
    with a bumper sticker on the back: “No more blood for oil.” They
    also wore “No more lies” T-shirts under their jackets.

    Klinkerman pulled them out of a line and told them to wait, then
    called Casper, who had heard from other Republican Party officials
    who deemed the three suspicious. The Secret Service later
    investigated whether a volunteer committed a crime of
    impersonating a federal agent. The U.S. attorney’s office declined to
    press charges, giving no explanation.

    The Bush administration has run into trouble elsewhere after critics
    were ejected from Bush appearances. People in North Dakota
    complained they’d been put on a list of guests to be barred from a
    2005 event. The ACLU sued on behalf of two West Virginia residents
    arrested in 2004 after refusing to remove anti-Bush T-shirts at a
    campaign event.


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