Concern for Civil Liberties Unites Left and Right

After receiving the 2012 John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information Day (FOI) Award on Friday, filmmaker and government transparency advocate Matt Ehling spoke with The UpTake about how citizen concern for civil liberties — particularly as they relate to the USA Patriot Act and to the Defense Department’s actions in the War on Terror — have potential to unite both liberals and conservatives.

“Concerns about civil liberties, concerns about government transparency, are opportunities for the left and the right to find common ground and improve our civic dialogue in this country,” said Ehling, who considers himself a “civil libertarian-leaning independent”.

Ehling made the documentary “Urban Warrior”, which examines the militarization of domestic law enforcement. (Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman — who was wrongfully arrested by police during the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul — was the keynote speaker at the Freedom of Information Award ceremony. Watch the entire award ceremony here, and watch The UpTake’s interview with Goodman here.)

Ehling recently filed a Freedom of Information Access (FOIA) request with the Justice Department to learn the Obama administration’s legal basis for killing an American citizen in Yemen. One reason that Ehling filed the request was to learn whether the government would maintain a similar basis for targeting U.S. citizens here on American soil. Predictably, the request was denied. Ehling is also trying to gain access to FBI files on late Twin Cities activist Marv Davidov. (Watch The UpTake’s coverage of a celebration of Davidov’s life here.)

Jacob Wheeler

In addition to shooting videos for The UpTake, Jacob Wheeler is a contributing editor at the progressive political magazine In These Times, publishes the Glen Arbor Sun in his native Michigan, and authored "Between Light and Shadow," a recent book about the Guatemalan adoption industry. Wheeler's stories have appeared in such magazines as the Utne Reader, Earth Island Journal, Rotarian and Teaching Tolerance magazine, and newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle and Christian Science Monitor. He speaks fluent Spanish, German and Danish.

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