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IndyBuzz provides information about Central Indiana's most stimulating and thought provoking events -- discussions and conferences, art exhibitions, films, music performances. It tells you what's happening … explains why you should be part of what’s happening. More than an events calendar, though, IndyBuzz tries to make events more meaningful for participants by suggesting an article or two to read before the event, recommending books or websites that will be sources of further information after the event, and pointing out related events that are worth attending.

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Sept. 19: MDC discussion of whether the USA PATRIOT Act is patriotic (and other security dilemmas)

Claudia Peña Porretti of the ACLU-Indiana leads a Constitution Cafe discussion of what has happened to civil liberties since 9/11 as part of My Daily Constitution

When: Tuesday, September 19 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Where: The Athenaeum Foundation: 401 East Michigan Indianapolis 46204

Shortly after 9/11 the U.S. Congress passed the first USA PATRIOT ACT. Fearing further terrorist attacks after 9/11, a large part of the American public supported giving up freedoms in exchange for greater security. Since then the President has claimed that protecting national security requires bypassing Congress and the courts on issues such as domestic surveillance and torture of suspected terrorists. The Framers of the Constitution would not be surprised by these developments. It was why they sought to protect our individual freedoms from fearful majorities by ensuring inalienable rights that the government cannot restrict. It is also why The Framers divided powers among the branches of government so that no one branch could act without being checked by the other branches. How can we tell if the government has gone too far in its search for security, or if it has not gone far enough? What can citizens do to maintain the balance between security and individual rights?

Leading this important discussion will be Claudia Peña Porretti, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana. Porretti has worked at Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation of Indiana, Inc. (HVAF), where she has served as Director of Development and Communications since 2005. HVAF is a non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating homelessness for veterans and their families. Prior to that, she was Director of Development and Special Events for La Plaza, Inc, a non-profit Hispanic organization that provides programs and services in the areas of health, social services, education, arts and culture, and economic development to the Central Indiana Latino community.

For more information ...

For breaking stories, before going to the Athenaeum check out some recent articles from Google and Yahoo. You should take a look at this piece by Bruce Ackerman about how our legal changes are (and aren't) protecting us "Before the Next Attack," and this article about "What would Dirty Harry Do?" These issues often touch us close to home. The case of the Crazy Tomato "terrorists" in Evansville received national attention here and here).

After the event you may be inspired to seek more informaiton on the web. Start with some of the reports from the US Department of Justice, and contrast them with information from the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the American Library Association. Want a couple of good books? Try David Cole's Enemy Aliens: Double Standards and Constitutional Freedoms in the War on Terrorism and Nancy Chang's Silencing Political Dissent: How Post-September 11 Anti-Terrorism Measures Threaten Our Civil Liberties.

About the venue: The Athenaeum was originally built in the late 1890s to house German societies of Indianapolis, including the Sozialer Turnverein. Das Deutsche Haus (The German House), as it was known prior to World War I, was built in the German Renaissance Revival style and housed a gymnasium, locker rooms, meeting rooms, restaurant, auditorium, bowling alleys, concert hall, and a beer garden. In 1907, it became the home for the Normal College of the North American Gymnastic Union, the country’s oldest institution for physical education training. Although the Normal College eventually merged with Indiana University and moved to IUPUI, today the Athenaeum still houses the city’s oldest restaurant (1894), gymnasium (1894), theater space (1898), and orchestra (1883). Both the Athenaeum Foundation, a nonprofit organization that maintains the building, and the Rathskeller restaurant can be reached at (317) 630-4569.

If you like this event ...

You will definitely want to see Persons of Interest, a documentary about the detention of Muslim-Americans after 9/11, part of the My Daily Constitution Film Festival. Other MDC events address this issue from different angles. While Claudia Peña Porretti will talk mainly about the power of the state being directed at domestic targets, Ed DeLaney looks at the US and international law. Andy Jacobs and I will address another aspect, the constitutional constraints on the President's war-making powers.

To return to the IndyBuzz schedule of My Daily Constitution events, click here.

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