Today on Context Florida: Torture, “guarantees,” human trafficking and civil liberties

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Today on Context Florida:

We have known for the past 10 years that our government tortured prisoners in our war against terrorism, says Rick Outzen. Our leaders told us that these were bad men, unworthy of the rights granted under the Geneva Convention. Outzen listened all week to the political pundits on how our government was justified in using its “enhanced interrogation techniques.” He cannot accept their arguments.

In passing the $1.1 trillion budget bill to avoid a government shutdown, Jac Wilder VerSteeg notes that Congress demonstrated that the word “guarantee” means different things for different interest groups. The spending measure so blatantly played fast-and-loose with “guarantee” that South Florida Democrats including Reps. Lois Frankel, Alcee Hastings and Ted Deutch voted against the bill.

In early December, 61 people were arrested across Florida in a four-day human-trafficking sting operation. Richard Lapchick writes that human trafficking exists in all 50 states and in almost every nook and cranny in each state. In November, a week of activities at UCF focused on the issue during the Shut Out Trafficking campaign led by the National Consortium for Academics and Sports and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.

Americans owe civil liberties not only to political leaders such as James Madison who wrote them into the Constitution or to the lawyers and judges who have upheld them. They also have people to thank who we wouldn’t necessarily want as friends or neighbors. Martin Dyckman lists a few of  those accused of crimes – and sometimes guilty of them – whose cases have compelled the courts to render decisions that are often unpopular but always necessary.

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Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.