Tags: 4th Amendment

This is What Happens When a Member of Congress Holds a Computer Science Degree (*Hint: Logic)

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When it comes to law enforcement and privacy: just follow the damn Constitution.

– Rep. Ted Lieu

I had never heard of Rep. Ted Lieu before a reader sent me an article highlighting his impassioned and intelligent statement in opposition to unconstitutional NSA surveillance. Mr. Lieu is a freshman member of Congress from California’s 33rd district, was born in Taiwan, and not only does he hold a computer science degree, but he is also a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force Reserves.

In other words, he isn’t just another shifty lawyer trying to suck as much money as possible out of the system while pretending to play politician. This is what he had to say to Daniel Conley, the statist (or possibly merely clueless) district attorney from Suffolk County, Massachusett, in front of Congress recently.

*Warning: The following may prove shocking to the average American used to the deranged, crony, irrational, and incompetent ramblings of your average Congressperson. Remember, Mr. Lieu’s arrogance in speaking intelligently to an issue with which he has an expertise is inappropriate at best, terroristic at worst, and completely unacceptable in the Oligarch States of America. 

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Why They Spy – Cory Doctorow Writes about IT-Powered Feudalism

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 2.38.00 PMThe amount a state needs to expend on guard labour is a function of how much legitimacy the state holds in its population’s reckoning. A state whose population mainly views the system as fair needs to do less coercion to attain stability. People who believe that they are well-served by the status quo will not work to upset it. States whose populations view the system as illegitimate need to spend more on guard labour.

Why spy? Because it’s cheaper than playing fair. Our networks have given the edge to the elites, and unless we seize the means of information, we are headed for a long age of IT-powered feudalism, where property is the exclusive domain of the super-rich, where your surveillance-supercharged Internet of Things treats you as a tenant-farmer of your life, subject to a licence agreement instead of a constitution.

From Cory Doctorow’s Guardian article: Technology Should Be Used to Create Social Mobility – Not to Spy on Citizens

At this point, only the most clueless and gullible amongst us thinks that government surveillance has anything to do with stopping terrorism. Nevertheless, it remains as important as ever to explain to people the true reason behind the elimination of the 4th Amendment. Namely, protecting the oligarchy from restless plebs.

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By Demanding Backdoors to Encryption, U.S. Government is Undermining Global Freedom and Security

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 11.23.56 AMOne of the biggest debates happening at the intersection of technology and privacy at the moment revolves around the U.S. government’s fear that the American peasantry may gain access to strong encryption in order to protect their private communications. Naturally, this isn’t something Big Brother wants to see, and the “solution” proposed by the status quo revolves around forcing technology companies to provide a way for the state to have access to all secure communications when they deem it necessary.

Many technology experts have come out strongly against this plan. Leaving aside the potential civil liberties implications of giving the lawless maniacs in political control such power, there’s the notion that if you create access for one group of entitled people, you weaken overall security. Not to mention the fact that if the U.S. claims the right to such privileged access, all other countries will demand the same in return, thus undermining global privacy rights and technology safeguards.

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Asset Forfeiture – How Cops Continue to Steal Americans’ Hard Earned Cash with Zero Repercussions

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 12.59.05 PMAlmost exactly one year ago today, I published a post which went on to become extremely popular titled: Why You Should Never, Ever Drive Through Tenaha, Texas. If you failed to read it the first time around, I suggest you take look as it provides a good outline of just what is at stake when it comes to this destructive and abusive practice increasingly utilized by police departments across these United States with zero repercussions for the offending officers. In last years article I noted that:

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The Obama Administration is Forcing Local Cops to Stay Silent on Surveillance

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 2.39.47 PMThe criminality of the Obama Administration is at this point almost beyond description. Earlier this week I highlighted a shocking discovery in my post titled: The Obama Administration is Trying to Cover up the VA Scandal by Issuing Subpoenas to Whistle-Blower Sites. In that piece, it was noted that:


Instead, it’s lawyers from the President Barack Obama administration employing the power of the administrative subpoena in a bid to siphon data from POGO’s encrypted submission portal. POGO’s site encourages whistleblowers to use Tor as the gateway and has garnered more than 700 tips about abuse and mismanagement at the US Veterans Administration after less than a month of operation.

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The NSA Claims it is “Too Big to Comply” with a Court Order

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 11.35.48 AMThe fact that that the NSA is now claiming it is “Too Big to Comply” with a court order is an extremely important revelation since it further proves that the super rich and super powerful are in no way shape or form subject to the same laws as the rest of us. The mega banks are “Too Big to Fail,” multi-national corporations are “Too Big to Pay Taxes” and the government is just “Too Big to be Useful.” The rule of law no longer exists in America (remember Jon Corzine), which in turn means there is no longer a functioning society. This may not be obvious to most people at the moment, but it will become painfully clear to everyone in time unless these trends are reversed.

The specific incident I have chosen to highlight to demonstrate this point today relates to the NSA’s claim that it cannot comply with a court order because it’s essentially too complex and compliance will damage “national security.”

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Video of the Day – Teen Makes Nancy Pelosi Squirm with His Question on the NSA

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 3.07.38 PMYou’ve got to give young Andrew Demeter a lot of credit. Given the chance to meet a powerful Congresswoman, most people would melt into a sad puddle of unjustified reverence and pathetic groveling. Not this young man. When he was given the opportunity to ask Nancy Pelosi a question, he confronted her on the NSA’s unconstitutional spy practices and why she hasn’t done anything to stop it, considering she claims to be so “liberal.”

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License Plate Readers Stir Controversy in California as the NYPD Prepares to Use Drones

One of the many civil liberties related themes I have focused on over the past several years has to do with how emerging technologies can pose a threat, first to our basic 4th Amendment rights, and then ultimately to freedom itself. Two of the most high profile technologies in this regard, and which have extremely high potential for abuse, are license plate readers and drones.

I’m no luddite saying that these technologies should be banned. In fact, I can certainly see reasonable uses for both within a broad range of society. However, I am saying that unless we have an engaged citizenry holding public officials’ feet to the fire, these technologies will certainly be abused and before you know it you’ll find yourself in Room 101 staring down at a ravenous rat army wishing you had said something earlier.

The biggest challenge we face is that the general public has become so dumbed down, distracted and confused when it comes to the most existential issues we face as a society. Rather than focusing on key issues that really matter, the mainstream media largely blows up and obsesses over immaterial, yet emotionally charged events that don’t mean anything in the larger scheme of things.

License plate readers and drones are two great examples of this dilemma. Both have been advancing into our lives in an increasing manner and most people don’t have the slightest clue. How can people have informed opinions on such keys issues when they have no idea what is happening around them.

Let’s start with the license plate scanners. Before reading further, I suggest going back and checking out my post from earlier this year: How the Repo Industry is Collecting Data on Virtually Every Car in America.

Now that you are sufficiently disturbed about the extent to which your privacy is being violated day in and day out, let’s focus on some good news. The fact that there is now a bill in the California state legislature that will attempt to put some boundaries around this technology.

We learn from CBS News that:

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Congress Guts Anti-NSA Spying Bill Beyond Recognition; Original Cosponsor Justin Amash Votes No

It’s shameful that the president of the United States, the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the leaders of the country’s surveillance agencies refuse to accept consensus reforms that will keep our country safe while upholding the Constitution. And it mocks our system of government that they worked to gut key provisions of the Freedom Act behind closed doors.

– Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, original cosponsor of the USA Freedom Act

In what will come as no surprise to any of you, there are very few members of Congress I have even the slightest degree of respect for. However, Justin Amash is one of them.

Rep. Amash is 34 years old and was first elected to Congress in 2010. He has been on my radar screen for several years now as one of the few elected representatives who act more like statesmen than politicians. He has been on the right side of many civil liberties related issues, including his opposition to the NDAA’s provision that allows for the indefinite detention of American citizens without a trial. More recently, last summer he authored an anti-NSA amendment known as the “Amash Amendment,” which was defeated by establishment authoritarians in both political parties. I covered that story in my post: NSA Holds “Top Secret” Meeting to Stop Powerful Anti-Spying Amendment.

Being the fighter that he is, Amash regrouped and came back with an anti-NSA spying bill with some teeth to it: The USA Freedom Act. This bill concerned the establishment to such a degree that Senator Feinstein launched her own competing bill, which believe it or not, intended to codify the NSA’s unconstitutional practices into law.

In the end, what the status quo did was water down the once robust USA Freedom Act into oblivion. Don’t take my word for it, Justin Amash wrote the following on his Facebook page:

Today, I will vote no on ‪#‎HR3361‬, the ‪#‎USAFREEDOMAct‬.

I am an original cosponsor of the Freedom Act, and I was involved in its drafting. At its best, the Freedom Act would have reined in the government’s unconstitutional domestic spying programs, ended the indiscriminate collection of Americans’ private records, and made the secret FISA court function more like a real court—with real arguments and real adversaries.

I was and am proud of the work our group, led by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, did to promote this legislation, as originally drafted.

However, the revised bill that makes its way to the House floor this morning doesn’t look much like the Freedom Act.

This morning’s bill maintains and codifies a large-scale, unconstitutional domestic spying program. It claims to end “bulk collection” of Americans’ data only in a very technical sense: The bill prohibits the government from, for example, ordering a telephone company to turn over all its call records every day.

But the bill was so weakened in behind-the-scenes negotiations over the last week that the government still can order—without probable cause—a telephone company to turn over all call records for “area code 616” or for “phone calls made east of the Mississippi.” The bill green-lights the government’s massive data collection activities that sweep up Americans’ records in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

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Can Police Search Your Cell Phone Without a Warrant? The Supreme Court is About to Decide

Two very important cases related to the 4th Amendment protection of cellphone data went before the Supreme Court yesterday. At issue here is whether or not police can search someone’s cellphone upon arrest. As usual, the Obama administration’s Justice Department is arguing against the citizenry, and in favor of the (police) state. Let’s not forget that the “Justice” Department also argued in favor of the police being able to place GPS tracking devices on people’s cars without a warrant back in 2011. Fortunately, the Supreme Court ruled against it.

Naturally, the feds in the current case will discuss all of the criminals they were able to bring to justice as a result of these privacy violations, but they will certainly not point out America’s current epidemic of unlawful arrests, as well as arrests for petty non-violent crimes that happen each and every day. For instance, let’s not forget statistics that came out last fall from the FBI that showed police make an arrest every two seconds in the USA. I covered this in detail in my post: Land of the Free: American Police Make an Arrest Every 2 Seconds in 2012.

That translates to 12.2 million arrests in 2012, only 521,196 of which were for violent crimes. So should cops be able to search cellphones of millions of Americans being arrested for non-violent crimes such as drug possession? Or what about the street artist in NYC who was unlawfully arrested for putting on a puppet show? Or the guy who’s house was raided by police for a parody Twitter account. Allowing cops to search cellphones upon arrest in a trigger happy police state seems barbaric, immoral and downright stupid to me.

Furthermore, isn’t it interesting that the feds appear so obsessed with taking away your civil liberties to catch petty criminals, yet they couldn’t put a single banker behind bars for the far more egregious crime of destroying the U.S. economy and ruining millions of lives?

Here are some excerpts from The New York Times article to help you get up to speed on what’s at stake:

WASHINGTON — In a major test of how to interpret the Fourth Amendment in the digital age, the Supreme Court on Tuesday will consider two cases about whether the police need warrants to search the cellphones of the people they arrest.

“The implications of these cases are huge,” said Orin S. Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University, noting that about 12 million people are arrested every year, often for minor offenses, and that about 90 percent of Americans have cellphones.

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