Assaults on Civil Liberties
Few American values are more important than protection of civil liberties and civil rights. These are not quite the same. Both "rights" and "liberties" appear in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. Though they are sometimes used interchangeably, and sometimes the areas between them blur, they refer to different kinds of guaranteed protections.
Civil liberties offer protections against government actions. The First Amendment guarantees, among other things, that U.S. citizens may practice whatever religion they please. Government cannot interfere in an individual's freedom of worship. Amendment I gives the individual "liberty" from the actions of the government. Civil rights are positive actions of government takes to create equal conditions for all Americans.
This page focuses on actions and statements of Trump and his administration that threaten civil liberties.
|2017.10.28||After CNN published a gripping report on the Libyan slave trade, some media outlets in Libya have raised doubts about its authenticity, citing Donald Trump's refrain of "fake news." gq.com (See also Trump Effect)|
|2017.12.14||Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, appeared in a video promoting the end of net neutrality regulations with a woman who has been accused of pushing the false "Pizzagate" conspiracy theory. buzzfeed.com (See also Belief in Conspiracy Theories, False Statements)|
Objectively speaking, it's a terrible video.
|2017.12.14||FCC commissioners employed dubious information and curious logic before voting to repeal net neutrality rules. wired.com (See also Assaults on Facts, Net Neutrality)|
Here are the six most misleading claims.
|2017.12.14||The Federal Communications Commission voted to dismantle Net Neutrality: landmark rules regulating the businesses that connect consumers to the internet, scrapping regulations that prohibited broadband providers from blocking websites or charging for high-quality service or content, reversing the agency's 2015 decision. nytimes.com (See also Domestic Policy, Reversals, Net Neutrality)|
|2017.12.15||One of the top executives of a consulting firm that the Environmental Protection Agency has recently hired to help it with media affairs has spent the past year investigating agency employees who have been critical of the Trump administration. nytimes.com (See also Scott Pruitt, Environmental Protection Agency)|
|2017.12.15||The Trump administration is prohibiting officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases — including “fetus” and “transgender” — in official documents being prepared for next year’s budget. washingtonpost.com (See also Fascism, Assaults on Facts)|
Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told of the list of forbidden terms with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget, according to an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing. The forbidden terms are “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”
|2017.12.15||Using taxpayer dollars, the Environmental Protection Agency inked a no-bid $120,000 cutting-edge Republican PR firm that specializes in digging up opposition research to help Administrator Scott Pruitt’s office track and shape press coverage of the agency. motherjones.com (See also Scott Pruitt, Environmental Protection Agency, Attempts to Discredit Media)|
|2017.12.17||Across the country, at different offices of the EPA, employees that raised concerns were told to submit copies of any emails written by them that mentioned either Scott Pruitt or Donald Trump, or any communications with Democrats in Congress that might have been critical of the agency. nytimes.com (See also Scott Pruitt, Environmental Protection Agency, Fascism)|
|2017.12.21||The Trump administration is considering a plan to separate parents from their children when families are caught entering the country illegally. nytimes.com (See also Immigration, Department of Homeland Security)|
|2017.12.22||The Associated Press found that a Russian hacking group targeted at least 200 journalists, publishers and bloggers as early as mid-2014 up to a few months ago. apnews.com (See also Russia, Russian Meddling in Election, 2016 Campaign)|
|2018.01.02||Donald Trump announced he would present “corrupt media awards” to the “fake news media” next week. thehill.com (See also Unpresidential Behavior)|
|2018.01.02||Donald Trump on Tuesday appeared to suggest that Huma Abedin, a former top aide to Hillary Clinton, should face jail time, days after the State Department posted emails found on her estranged husband’s computer that included confidential government information. washingtonpost.com (See also Fascism, Belief in Conspiracy Theories, Department of State, Department of Justice)|
|2018.01.17||Republican U.S. Senator Jeff Flake castigated Donald Trump for his attacks on the media, saying Trump had embraced the despotic language of former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and inspired modern-day authoritarians. reuters.com (See also Fascism, Nationalism)|
|2018.01.24||On January 12th, the National Security Agency (NSA) replaced its mission statement page, removing "honesty" as its top priority. theintercept.com|
|2018.01.26||The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has officially gained agency-wide access to a nationwide license plate recognition database, giving the agency access to billions of license plate records and new powers of real-time location tracking, raising significant concerns from civil libertarians. theverge.com (See also Immigration, Nationalism)|
|2018.02.01||A higher-education bill working its way through Congress is a religious, right-leaning wish list, worrying college administrators and gay-rights groups. nytimes.com (See also Department of Education, LGBTQIA)|
|2018.02.03||The Trump administration’s nominee to coordinate billions of dollars in assistance to migrants around the world has suggested in social-media posts that Islam is an inherently violent religion and has said Christians in some cases should receive preferential treatment when resettling from hostile areas. washingtonpost.com (See also Muslims)|
|2018.02.12||The Trump administration’s controversial pick to run the 2020 census, Thomas Brunell, a political science professor who has defended Republican redistricting efforts in more than a dozen states, has withdrawn from consideration. motherjones.com (See also Resignations and Dismissals, Voter Suppression)|
|2018.02.15||According to records stretching back to the Coolidge administration and compiled by the American Presidency Project, Donald Trump has gone longer without conducting a formal press conference than any president since at least Lyndon Johnson. thedailybeast.com (See also Hypocrisy)|
By the end of his first year in office, President Barack Obama had held 11 press conferences; President George W. Bush had held five.
|2018.03.06||Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is changing the mission statement of his agency, removing promises of inclusive and discrimination-free communities. huffingtonpost.com (See also Ben Carson, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Racism)|
|2018.03.07||Sinclair Broadcasting is making local anchors deliver a new “journalistic responsibility message” bashing the media for “fake stories”— echoing Donald Trump’s “fake news” complaints. money.cnn.com (See also Assaults on Facts, Corruption, Attempts to Discredit Media)|
The conservative media company currently owns the most local TV stations nationwide, and is trying to acquire even more.
|2018.03.12||Donald Trump called Chuck Todd of NBC's Meet the Press a "sleepy son of a bitch" at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania. politico.com (See also Unpresidential Behavior)|
|2018.03.28||The Trump administration is attempting to scale back federal efforts to enforce fair housing laws, freezing enforcement actions against local governments and businesses, including Facebook, while sidelining officials who have aggressively pursued civil rights cases. nytimes.com (See also Racism, Ben Carson, Department of Housing and Urban Development)|
The department is aiming to roll back Obama administration attempts to curtail decades of racial, ethnic and income segregation in federally subsidized housing and development projects.
|2018.03.29||The Trump administration plans to require immigrants applying to come to the United States to submit five years of social media history, setting up a potential scouring of their Twitter and Facebook histories. cnn.com (See also Immigration, Nationalism)|
|2018.04.05||The U.S. Department of Homeland Security wants to monitor hundreds of thousands of news sources around the world and compile a database of journalists, editors, foreign correspondents, and bloggers to identify top “media influencers.” biglawbusiness.com (See also Department of Homeland Security)|
Note that this is not from the Communications Office, but from the Department of Homeland Security.
Within the first two weeks of Trump's presidency, he and his administration demonstrated low tolerance for dissent in and outside of the government. He fired the acting attorney general who would not defend his controversial immigration order. Sean Spicer, Trump's press secretary, told career diplomats to “either get with the program or they can go.” His chief strategist, the white nationalist Steve Bannon, also labeled the news media as an “opposition party” that should “keep its mouth shut.”
Civil libertarians are alarmed. “The whole thing is scary," David Boaz of the Cato Institute told the Washington Post. "They have no appreciation for the Constitution, much less the unwritten norms of liberal democracy.” (Source: Washington Post)