Tags: ACLU

My First Interaction with Texas Police

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 12.46.10 PMMy children’s first interaction with the police was witnessing two officers get verbally upset at my refusal to provide them with my name while standing on my own property. Overall, it was a tough day for the kids.

The story begins innocuously enough. We rented a bounce house to have some fun, but the winds were too strong that day and the bounce house started floating away until it was ultimately stopped by our fence. When I called to get a refund, the company who rented it to us was not only unwilling to help out, but arrived upset that the bounce house had been ripped on my fence. Wanting to make a record of it, they called the local police.

Upon the arrival of the first county Sheriff, he kindly asked me what had happened. I told him that it blew away and that it was ridiculous that the police would even respond to such a situation. He agreed, but said that the bounce house company was alleging that I ripped it because I couldn’t get a refund. At that point, I told the officer this is a civil matter and I don’t want you or anyone else on my property. The officer complied and then asked for my name, my response was “no thanks.”

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Video of the Day – Godfrey Reggio’s Haunting and Incredibly Accurate Prediction of Our Orwellian Future…from the 1970s

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 4.58.43 PMThere have been many artists, writers and intellectuals who were able to see the writing on the wall regarding our Orwellian future many decades ago. Several of them became so concerned they took it upon themselves to warn us of the dangers in no uncertain terms, with Aldous Huxley perhaps being the most prescient (see: Brave New World Revisited…Key Excerpts and My Summary).

A lesser known individual who also accurately warned us about the dangers faced of a totalitarian government/corporate partnership dead set on the destruction of privacy is filmmaker Godfrey Reggio.

Back in 1972 Mr. Reggio founded the Institute for Regional Education (IRE), which partnered with the American Civil Liberties Union in New Mexico to create a series of advertising spots purchased for television, radio, newspapers, and billboards that warned of the forthcoming technological fascist state.

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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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NSA Chief is Pushing for Legislation to Stifle the First Amendment

Recently, what came out with the justices in the United Kingdom … they looked at what happened on Miranda and other things, and they said it’s interesting: journalists have no standing when it comes to national security issues. They don’t know how to weigh the fact of what they’re giving out and saying, is it in the nation’s interest to divulge this.

- General Keith Alexander, Director of the NSA

Although General Alexander states the above with regard to the UK justice system, he clearly agrees with the assessment. Read the passage above again and think about how scary that statement is. It becomes clear that one of the reasons abuses at the NSA are so egregious is because of the attitude of the person in charge. Alexander genuinely thinks that intelligence officials know best, and should not be subject to any sort of accountability. You don’t need to be a card-carrying member of the ACLU to see how dangerous this perspective is. To endorse this notion that “journalists have no standing when it comes to national security issues,” is to effectively make illegal one of the most important free speech rights in any democracy. This sort of attitude represents the antithesis of American values.

Not only does General Alexander see things this way, apparently he is lobbying for Congressional legislation that would solidify this authoritarian view within the law itself. For example, the Guardian reported yesterday that:

General Keith Alexander, who has furiously denounced the Snowden revelations, said at a Tuesday cybersecurity panel that unspecified “headway” on what he termed “media leaks” was forthcoming in the next several weeks, possibly to include “media leaks legislation.”

The general, who is due to retire in the next several weeks, said that the furore over Snowden’s surveillance revelations – which he referred to only as “media leaks” – was complicating his ability to get congressional support for a bill that would permit the NSA and the military Cyber Command he also helms to secretly communicate with private entities like banks about online data intrusions and attacks. 

So apparently he has several pieces of authoritarian legislation on his plate at the moment. He laments Snowden is making the implementation of his fascist tendencies more difficult. Just another reason to celebrate Snowden.

“We’ve got to handle media leaks first,” Alexander said.

“I think we are going to make headway over the next few weeks on media leaks. I am an optimist. I think if we make the right steps on the media leaks legislation, then cyber legislation will be a lot easier,” Alexander said.

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Department of Homeland Security Moves to Install National License Plate Tracking System

*I have just been informed of some really great news. The DHS has canceled the plan due to outrage. This is what we can achieve if we are informed and keep the pressure on. I expect them to be back at it in the future, so stay vigilant. Article on the cancelation can be found here. I have left my original post intact below.

Earlier today, I highlighted a program planned by the FCC named the Critical Information Needs study, which will embed “government researchers” into media organizations in order to make sure they are doing their job properly. This insane anti-free press measure is extraordinarily disturbing and now we find out that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has plans to outsource the creation of a gigantic, comprehensive nationwide license plate database to a private corporation.

The status quo is now overtly doubling down on surveillance in the wake of the Snowden revelations rather than reigning them in. Game is on folks. Things are getting very serious.

From the Washington Post:

The Department of Homeland Security wants a private company to provide a national license-plate tracking system that would give the agency access to vast amounts of information from commercial and law enforcement tag readers, according to a government proposal that does not specify what privacy safeguards would be put in place.

The national license-plate recognition database, which would draw data from readers that scan the tags of every vehicle crossing their paths, would help catch fugitive illegal immigrants, according to a DHS solicitation. But the database could easily contain more than 1 billion records and could be shared with other law enforcement agencies, raising concerns that the movements of ordinary citizens who are under no criminal suspicion could be scrutinized.

It’s for the children! How can you object to saving the children!

“It is important to note that this database would be run by a commercial enterprise, and the data would be collected and stored by the commercial enterprise, not the government,” she said.

Yeah, because that makes me feel so much better…

But civil liberties groups are not assuaged. “Ultimately, you’re creating a national database of location information,” said Jennifer Lynch, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “When all that data is compiled and aggregated, you can track somebody as they’re going through their life.”

The agency said the length of time the data is retained would be up to the winning vendor.Vigilant Solutions, for instance, one of the leading providers of tag-reader data, keeps its records indefinitely.

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How Debtors’ Prisons are Making a Comeback in America

Apparently having 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of its prisoners simply isn’t good enough for neo-feudal America. No, we need to find more creative and archaic ways to wastefully, immorally and seemingly unconstitutionally incarcerate poor people. Welcome to the latest trend in the penal colony formerly known as America. Debtors’ prisons. A practice I thought had long since been deemed outdated (indeed it has been largely eradicated in the Western world with the exception of about 1/3 of U.S. states as well as Greece).

From Fox News:

As if out of a Charles Dickens novel, people struggling to pay overdue fines and fees associated with court costs for even the simplest traffic infractions are being thrown in jail across the United States.

Critics are calling the practice the new “debtors’ prison” — referring to the jails that flourished in the U.S. and Western Europe over 150 years ago. Before the time of bankruptcy laws and social safety nets, poor folks and ruined business owners were locked up until their debts were paid off.

Reforms eventually outlawed the practice. But groups like the Brennan Center for Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union say it’s been reborn in local courts which may not be aware it’s against the law to send indigent people to jail over unpaid fines and fees — or they just haven’t been called on it until now.

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law released a “Tool Kit for Action” in 2012 that broke down the cost to municipalities to jail debtors in comparison with the amount of old debt it was collecting. It doesn’t look like a bargain. For example, according to the report, Mecklenburg County, N.C., collected $33,476 in debts in 2009, but spent $40,000 jailing 246 debtors — a loss of $6,524.

Don’t worry, I’m sure private prisons for debtors will soon spring up to make this practice a pillar of GDP growth.

Many jurisdictions have taken to hiring private collection/probation companies to go after debtors, giving them the authority to revoke probation and incarcerate if they can’t pay. Research into the practice has found that private companies impose their own additional surcharges. Some 15 private companies have emerged to run these services in the South, including the popular Judicial Correction Services (JCS).

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Video of the Day: “The NSA is Coming to Town”

Just in time for the holidays, this excellent video spoof of the NSA has emerged. At the end of the day, humor is always one of the most effective tools of resistance. Remember the wise and timeless words of John Lennon:

When it gets down to having to use violence, then you are playing the system’s game. The establishment will irritate you – pull your beard, flick your face – to make you fight. Because once they’ve got you violent, then they know how to handle you. The only thing they don’t know how to handle is non-violence and humor.

Enjoy.

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Big Brother is Coming to Your Car

This is a topic that has been on my radar screen for a while, but one that very few Americans seem to be paying attention to despite the egregious revelations concerning NSA spying that have emerged recently. I first flagged this issue in late 2012 in an article titled: Coming to Your Car: Mandatory Black Boxes That Record Everything.

The latest push for tracking devices in cars is being sold as necessary in order to raise funds to pay for the nation’s decayed highway infrastructure. For example:

 As America’s road planners struggle to find the cash to mend a crumbling highway system, many are beginning to see a solution in a little black box that fits neatly by the dashboard of your car.

This is simply idiotic. There is already a tax per gallon on gasoline, so people are already being taxed based on how much they drive. Only a control-freak, moronic government bureaucrat would come to the conclusion that the solution to this problem is to install Orwellian tracking devices in people’s cars.

More from the LA Times:

WASHINGTON — As America’s road planners struggle to find the cash to mend a crumbling highway system, many are beginning to see a solution in a little black box that fits neatly by the dashboard of your car.

The devices, which track every mile a motorist drives and transmit that information to bureaucrats, are at the center of a controversial attempt in Washington and state planning offices to overhaul the outdated system for funding America’s major roads.

Are people really so dumb they will agree to this? Probably.

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Meet Valerie Caproni: Civil Rights Violating FBI Lawyer to be Promoted to Federal Judge

The situation below describes something that goes way beyond the usual revolving door that now represents the core characteristic of the crony capitalist, ponzi U.S. economy. No, the likely appointment of Valerie Caproni as a federal judge in one of the most important districts in America represents an even more sinister trend, a trend that is a core characteristic of all totalitarian regimes that have ever existed. What I am referring to is the fact that all deeply corrupt regimes with tyrannical tendencies will promote and embed the  nastiest, most flawed characters possible into positions of power because they will do the dirty deeds most normal, decent people would never consider. Basically, you decide to promote those who have the most destructive track records possible to serve as your praetorian guard. It was this signal that demonstrated to me that Obama was a total fraud very early in his Presidency. It was clear the moment he promoted two of the most destructive human beings in the nation to powerful financial and economic positions, Tim Geithner and Larry Summers. Well now we can add a new one to the list: Valerie Caproni.

caproni

Valerie has an unblemished track record of surveillance abuse appeasement that would make almost any civil liberties tyrant’s mouth water. She was the FBI’s top lawyer from 2003-2011, during which time she objected to the few objections that the secret FISA court offered. Moreover, she seemed to relish in the fact that the government can do whatever it wants in secret. Oh and did I mention she’s an executive a Northrop Grumman? Good times.

She’s scheduled for a vote on her judgeship today, and I have no doubt she will receive the position. Just as I assume Larry Summers will be appointed head of the Federal Reserve. These days, the very worst in America always rise to the top. More from the Guardian:

A former senior FBI official implicated in surveillance abuses is poised to become a federal judge in one of the US’s most important courts for terrorism cases.

Valerie Caproni, the FBI’s top lawyer from 2003 to 2011, is scheduled to receive a vote on Monday in the Senate for a seat on the southern district court of New York.

Caproni has come under bipartisan criticism over the years for enabling widespread surveillance later found to be inappropriate or illegal. During her tenure as the FBI’s general counsel, she clashed with Congress and even the Fisa surveillance court over the proper scope of the FBI’s surveillance powers.

“It is a shame that the White House has chosen to nominate former FBI general counsel Valerie Caproni to a lifelong position as a federal judge given her narrow views of Americans’ privacy rights as demonstrated by her actions in the George W Bush administration,” said Lisa Graves, a Justice Department official in the Clinton and early Bush administrations.

A representative of the defense company Northrop Grumman, where Caproni currently serves as an executive, said Caproni was not available for interviews.

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