Northampton, MA – The Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) is pleased to announce that lawyer, recording artist, columnist, and grassroots organizer Shahid Buttar will join the organization in mid-May as Executive Director. Buttar will lead BORDC and the Peopleâ€™s Campaign for the Constitution (PCC) as they raise awareness about the impacts of national security policies on civil liberties and privacy interests.
Previously Counsel to Muslim Advocatesâ€™ Program to Combat Racial & Religious Profiling, Buttar has long advocated in defense of the Constitution. A 2003 graduate of Stanford Law School, he served as Professor Lawrence Lessigâ€™s Constitutional Law Teaching Assistant andas Executive Editor of the Stanford Environmental Law Journal. Based in Washington, DC, from 2003 to 2008, Buttar also served the American Constitution Society for Law & Policy as Associate Director for Communications & Outreach.
Buttarâ€™s most recent work includes a FOIA request of a secret policy recently enacted by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the Domestic Investigative Operational Guidelines (DIOGs). The request, which Buttar filed as the new administration took office this January, was granted expedited processing for the rare reason that it relates to â€œa matter of widespread and exceptional media interest in which there exist possible questions about the governmentâ€™s integrity.â€ The FBI committed on March 18 to disclose the document, but has not yet done so and may ultimately maintain secrecy over the documentâ€™s most objectionable sections on â€œethnic behaviorâ€ and â€œgeo-mappingâ€ that effectively mandate ethnic profiling of numerous communities across the US. Says Buttar, â€œThe FBI has a long history of violating the rights of law-abiding Americans. Unfortunately, the DIOGs repeat the Bureauâ€™s worst historical excesses, and have evaded scandal only because they remain secret.â€
At BORDC, Buttar will facilitate grassroots mobilization across the US in defense of civil liberties and privacy interests threatened by national security programs. In addition to the expansion of FBI powers, BORDC will also challenge warrantless surveillance, executive secrecy, preventive detention, and local and state coordination with federal immigration law enforcement and domestic intelligence collection. According to Buttar, â€œThe emerging surveillance state is a travesty violating our nationâ€™s values of freedom and democracy. The Obama administrationâ€™s promises have not been fulfilled by the reality of its actions, and the Presidentâ€™s own calls for grassroots mobilization demand an active movement for civil liberties restoration. Because the â€˜war on terrorâ€™ has become a war on the Constitution, Americans of conscience must defend the Bill of Rights, now more than ever.â€
Chip Pitts, president of BORDCâ€™s board of directors, is thrilled to have Buttar join the organization. â€œWe are incredibly happy to have someone of Shahid Buttarâ€™s passion and grassroots qualifications leading BORDC. With him as our executive director, there is no limit to our ability to reinvigorate the grassroots civil liberties movement and effect substantive change in American government.â€
Formed in 2001 after the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee is a national organization defending constitutional rights and civil liberties violated by â€œwar on terrorâ€ policies. BORDCâ€™s mission is to promote, organize, and support a diverse, effective, national grassroots movement to restore and protect civil rights and liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.
The organizationâ€™s purpose is to educate people about the significance of those rights in our lives; to encourage widespread civic participation; and to cultivate and share the organizing tools and strategies needed for people to convert their concern, outrage, and fear into debate and action to restore Bill of Rights protections. As part of BORDCâ€™s national action campaign, 8 states, 406 municipalities, and 89 labor unions, organizations, religious bodies, and college campuses have passed resolutions vowing to protect civil liberties.