Archive for the ‘Law and Disorder’ tag
It’s not a secret that due process is dead in this country but the most recent news from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility really drives the point home:
The US has listed 46 inmates held at its military prison in Guantanamo Bay who it says it does not have the evidence to try but are too dangerous to release.
Could somebody explain to me how the federal government lacks enough evidence to try these 46 individuals but has enough evidence to indicate that they’re too dangerous to release? If there’s evidence that they’ve performed violent acts in the past they can be tried, if there no such evidence exists then they’re not demonstrably dangerous and should be released immediately.
The message here is quite simple: you’re guilty and will be punished when the state says you’re guilty and should be punished. There is no due process here, just a state that has reserved the power to indefinitely detain anybody it wants for whatever reason it wants.
This information does raise an interesting question though, what would happen if a foreign government decided to arrest Americans and detain them without trial?
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled this week that authorities can seek custody of a child, even where there’s no evidence of abuse or neglect.
The case involved a divorced Camden County mother of 9-year-old twin girls. In 2007, she asked New Jersey’s Division of Child Protection and Permanency for help, claiming she was unable to care for the girls who had psychological and developmental disabilities and needed to be placed in residential care.
“You can turn to the Division for help, but it may come with a cost,” says Diana Autin, executive director of Statewide Parent Advocacy Network of New Jersey. The group filed an amicus brief in the case.
Autin says under the court’s ruling, the state can get custody of a child with behavior problems if it proves that the parent can’t provide the type of services the child needs and the services are in the child’s best interest. She says the division can get custody without using the state’s abuse and neglect law.
In layman’s terms your child is the property of the state. You may be allowed to raise the state’s child if you are the biological or adoptive parent but that privilege may also be revoked if the state decides you are unworthy of the task. Or, to be put even more tersely, shut the fuck up slave and raise “your” child as you’re told to.
Seriously, how much more ridiculous does the legal system in this country have to get before people finally see it as illegitimate?
The Nazgûl have finally ruled on whether or not your decision to remain silent when confronted by the police can be used against you in a court of law. As you can guess they ruled that your silence can be used against you:
In a 5-4 decision the Supreme Court ruled today that a potential defendant’s silence can be used against him if he is being interviewed by police but is not arrested (and read his Miranda rights) and has not verbally invoked the protection of the Fifth Amendment.
In other words you only enjoy your Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination if you’ve specifically invoked it or are being arrested and have been read your Miranda rights. If, on the other hand, you simply remain silent your act of not talking can be used against you.
At this point the entirety of the so-called Bill of Rights, with the exception of the Third Amendment, have been turned into a Bill of State Granted Privileges. I’m sure that the only reason the Third Amendment remains unmolested is because the state hasn’t found a sufficient way to exploit it without a war breaking out here. Then again, with the way the current administration is continuously murdering people in foreign countries with remote controlled killing machines, a war in the United States isn’t entirely out of the question.
It’s pretty well known at this point that the police have no legal duty to protect you. In fact, as this country deteriorates more and more into a full blown police state, it’s becoming more apparent that calling the police can only lead to grief. Whether they’re blasting kittens in front of children or forcing a landlord to evict a woman out of his property because her boyfriend beat her too many times — no that wasn’t a typo — the police seem to deliver violence and grief wherever they go:
Last year in Norristown, Pa., Lakisha Briggs’ boyfriend physically assaulted her, and the police arrested him. But in a cruel turn of events, a police officer then told Ms. Briggs, “You are on three strikes. We’re gonna have your landlord evict you.”
Yes, that’s right. The police threatened Ms. Briggs with eviction because she had received their assistance for domestic violence. Under Norristown’s “disorderly behavior ordinance,” the city penalizes landlords and tenants when the police respond to three instances of “disorderly behavior” within a four-month period. The ordinance specifically includes “domestic disturbances” as disorderly behavior that triggers enforcement of the law.
I’m starting to suspect that the police are doing everything in their power to persuade people not to call them. It makes sense, they probably want to eat their doughnuts in peace but keep getting called by the people that they’re supposedly tasked with protecting. The fastest way to put an end to such interruptions is to kill the pets of whoever called them.
One thing is certain, calling the police will end in misery.
Now that the American people know that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been spying on them since, at least, 2007 the state is scrambling to justify their actions in the hopes of quelling the people’s anger. According the the Director of the NSA, the data collected through the agency’s widespread spying operation has thwarted dozens of terror attacks:
Intelligence officials have insisted agents do not listen in on Americans’ telephone conversations. And they maintain the internet communications surveillance programme, reportedly code-named Prism, targeted only non-Americans located outside of the US.
Meanwhile, they have defended the programmes as vital national security tools.
“It’s dozens of terrorist events that these have helped prevent,” Gen Alexander said on Wednesday at a hearing of the US Senate intelligence committee.
Of course this claim is utter bullshit. Why do I say that? Because the state is always quick to brag about the terror plots it has supposedly foiled. Whenever they stop a supposed terrorist they trot him out for the world to see and give the agents involved in stopping the plot metals of accommodations. The state can’t help but jack itself off publicly to every one of its successes. After all, it needs to demonstrated to the American people why they need the government.
If the NSA had foiled any terror plots using their rampant spying operation they would have bragged loudly and proudly about it. The fact that we haven’t heard a peep from the NSA indicates that they haven’t accomplished jack shit. Also, let me emphasize:
Gen Alexander said intelligence officials were “trying to be transparent” about the programmes and would brief the Senate intelligence committee behind closed doors before any other information became public.
After Wednesday’s reveal that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been indiscriminately spying on all of Verizon’s customers things have exploded. Yesterday morning the White House came out and justifed the NSA’s actions:
A senior administration official said the court order pertains only to data such as a telephone number or the length of a call, and not the subscribers’ identities or the content of the telephone calls.
Such information is “a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats to the United States,” the official said, speaking on the condition of not being named.
“It allows counter terrorism personnel to discover whether known or suspected terrorists have been in contact with other persons who may be engaged in terrorist activities, particularly people located inside the United States,” the official added.
The revelation raises fresh concerns about President Barack Obama’s handling of privacy and free speech issues. His administration is already under fire for searching Associated Press journalists’ calling records and the emails of a Fox television reporter as part of its inquiries into leaked government information.
That justification, to put it frankly, is weak. A subscriber’s phone number is their identity because each phone number is unique and is almost always associated with only one person. Saying that the NSA is only collecting phone numbers but not identifying information is no different than saying the NSA is collecting Social Security numbers but not identifying information. When you’re collecting data that is associated with a specific person you are collecting identifying information.
Even if we assume the statement is true and the NSA has no idea who possess what phone number we’re still left wondering how they can tell whether or not somebody is calling a known terrorist if they don’t know what the known terrorist’s phone number is. If they only know the terrorist’s number then they can easily obtain the identities of the terrorist’s contacts by asking Verizon for the identities of the persons who possess the called numbers. In other words the NSA is collecting identifying information no matter how you look at it.
Furthermore, any terrorist possessing even a minute amount of intelligence isn’t going to use a phone number tied to their person. Instead they will use another person’s phone (either by asking to borrow their phone or by using a cloned SIM card) or buy a disposable phone with cash. Either way the identity of the terrorist won’t be associated with the phone number so it will be almost impossible to identify who the terrorist is calling. At most the NSA will be able to identify extremely stupid terrorists, bust them, and give the remaining terrorists a reason to educate themselves and, in so doing, become far more difficult to capture or, in all likelihood, kill (that’s what the current administration enjoys doing most).
The White House is, as usual, feeding us bullshit. But that’s not the end of the bullshit train. In order to keep up the appearance that strong disagreement exists between the Republicans and Democrats you would think a powerful Republican would come forth and criticize the Obama administration for allowing indiscriminate spying on Americans. Instead one of the more influential Republicans came forward and defended the NSA’s actions:
Sen. Lindsey Graham said Thursday that he is “glad” that the National Security Agency is collecting millions of telephone records — including his own — from one of the nation’s largest telecommunications companies in an attempt to combat terrorism.
Mr. Graham said that he is a Verizon customer and has no problem with the company turning over records to the government if it helps it do its job. The South Carolina Republican said that people who have done nothing wrong have nothing to worry about because the NSA is mining the phone records for people with suspected ties to terrorism.
I’m not surprised to hear a state agent saying he’s OK with the state collecting his information. He is on the safe side of the gun pointed at our heads after all. I’m even less surprised to see Dianne Feinstein is in favor of the NSA’s expansive spying operations:
“As far as I know, this is the exact three-month renewal of what has been in place for the past seven years,” Feinstein asid. “This renewal is carried out by the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court] under the business records section of the PATRIOT Act. Therefore, it is lawful. It has been briefed to Congress.
Feinstein said she could not answer whether other phone companies have had their records sifted through as Verizon has.
“I know that people are trying to get to us,” she said. “This is the reason why the FBI now has 10,000 people doing intelligence on counterterrorism. This is the reason for the national counterterrorism center that’s been set up in the time we’ve been active. its to ferret this out before it happens. “It’s called protecting America.”
What makes Feinstein’s comment interesting is her admittance that Congress was briefed on the operation. If any members of congress feign surprise we now know to call them on their bullshit.
Being a nation of laws somebody is obviously going to perform an investigation into this matter, right? Although it sounds like there will be an investigation it doesn’t sound like it will be an investigation into the NSA:
NEW YORK –- The U.S. Department of Justice may try seeking out the source of a bombshell article that revealed National Security Agency surveillance of millions of Americans, according to NBC News Justice correspondent Pete Williams.
Williams, a well-sourced reporter who just interviewed Attorney General Eric Holder last night about the leak investigations, jumped in with an answer.
“I was told last night: definitely there will be a leak investigation,” he said.
Before the state ascertained the identity of the person who leaked what is now referred to as the Collateral Murder video there was plenty of opportunity to investigate the pilots of the gunship that killed those Iraqi civilians and Reuters reporters. Instead the current administration moved to investigate the source of the leak. The person who leaked the video was Bradley Manning and, once identified, he was arrested, held in solitary confinement, and is now being put on trial for aiding the enemy. If the source that leaked the court order that revealed the NSA’s indiscriminate spying is discovered I’m sure he or she will be arrested, held in solitary confinement, and tried for aiding the enemy as well.
Bitching about this isn’t going to accomplish anything so we must ask what can be learned from this. I think there are several lessons. First, it’s obvious that the current administration is corrupt to the core. While Obama promised the most transparent government in history his administration has been shrouded in secrecy and embroiled in continuous scandals. His administration has also demonstrated that they prioritize hunting down people who leak classified information above hunting down criminals within the government’s employ. Second, we can no longer afford to communicate through unsecured channels. Every piece of data we send to each other must be encrypted and anonymized to prevent the government’s prying eyes from violating our privacy. Third, those crazy conspiracy theorists who have been telling us that the government is spying on our every communication aren’t so crazy. We must now assume that they are correct and that the government is spying on our every communication because, as this most recent leak shows, the government’s spying operations are vast and giving absolutely no regard to due process. Fourth, there is another war being waged by the federal government, a war against our privacy. The only way to defend ourselves in this war is to violate the government’s privacy in turn. Our violations of the government’s privacy will be met with arrests, imprisonments, and possibly executions but will also cause its legitimacy to erode.
The government will continue to use technology to suppress us but that very same technology can be used to suppress the government. We must wield technology more effectively than the government in order to keep our privacy.
Bradley Manning collected a great deal of classified government information and released it to Wikileaks. In so doing he effectively stripped some of the state’s privacy and is now standing trial for his actions (although his trial is almost certainly for show not to determine guilt). As I said, I support Manning’s actions because the state is waging a war against our privacy. As time goes on we’re learning more and more about how extensive this war really is. Yesterday it was revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA), on of the most vicious combatants in this war, has been collecting the phone records of millions of Americans:
The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America’s largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.
The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an “ongoing, daily basis” to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.
The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.
Although we’ve known that the NSA has been spying on our phone calls for some time but the release of this court order gives us a better idea of how extensive its spying is. Once again I’ll iterate that a government that doesn’t trust the general population enough to respect their privacy should not be given the privilege of privacy itself. So long as the state continues to violate our privacy it is right to violate its privacy. I will also point out that extensive spying operations such as this are prime examples of why all communications should be encrypted, which is why I started the Encrypt Everything series. Increasing the number of people who use cryptographic tools to prevent prying eyes from seeing their communications will render large scale spying operations, such as those being performed by the state, far less effective.
Last month a federal magistrate in Wisconsin refused to order a suspect to decrypt his hard drive stating that such an order would violate the suspect’s Fifth Amendment rights. This week a federal judge ruled that such an order was, in fact, a violation of the Fifth Amendment:
A federal judge in Wisconsin today granted an emergency motion filed by Feldman’s attorney for additional time to establish that her client’s Fifth Amendment right to self-incrimination would be violated.
U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa lifted the threat of contempt of court and jail time, at least temporarily, and asked for additional briefs from Feldman’s attorney and Justice Department prosecutors. A hearing is likely to take place this fall.
What makes this case particularly interesting is that the suspect, Jeffrey Feldman, is accused of possessing child pornography. Possession of child pornography is one of those crimes that instigates such a strong emotional response in people that they demand due process being tossed out the window and any suspects be immediately burned at the stake. There are a lot of arguments being made trying to argue that ordering a suspect to decrypt his hard drive isn’t a violation of the Fifth Amendment because the crime, in this case, is so heinous. Such an attitude, in my opinion, is extremely short sighted because it sets a precedence that allows the state to justify ordering anybody accused of any crime to decrypt their hard drive or be found in contempt of court (for which the punishment is being locked in a cage until you comply, effectively indefinite detention without due process).
At some point I predict that determining whether or not the Fifth Amendment protects suspects from court orders demanding their decryption keys will reach the Supreme Court. Regardless of whether or not that happens one thing is for certain, encrypting your hard drive is the best way to protect yourself against snooping state agents who come into possession of your devices.
People often argue about the cause of violence in our world. Some people blame guns, others blame a lack of law enforcement powers, and some even blame capitalism. I think one of the biggest causes of violence in our world is the relatively low cost of performing violence, at least in most developed nations. A situation in Canada exemplifies this:
After Briar MacLean stepped up to defend his classmate against a knife-wielding bully, his mother, Leah O’Donnell, was politely informed the school did not “condone heroics.” Instead, Briar should have found a teacher to handle the situation.
Briar MacLean was sitting in class during a study period Tuesday, the teacher was on the other side of the room and, as Grade 7 bullies are wont to do, one kid started harassing another.
“I was in between two desks and he was poking and prodding the guy,” Briar, 13, said at the kitchen table of his Calgary home Friday.
“He put him in a headlock, and I saw that.”
He added he didn’t see the knife, but “I heard the flick, and I heard them say there was a knife.”
The rest was just instinct. Briar stepped up to defend his classmate, pushing the knife-wielding bully away.
Would you be surprised to hear that Mr. MacLean was awarded for his efforts that may have saved the life of a fellow student? Sadly, in our modern society, we are surprised by such things because that’s not usually the case. In fact that wasn’t the case here either:
“I got called to the office and I wasn’t able to leave until the end of the day,” he said.
That’s when Leah O’Donnell, Briar’s mother, received a call from the vice-principal.
Mike Ridewood for National Post
“They phoned me and said, ‘Briar was involved in an incident today,’” she said. “That he decided to ‘play hero’ and jump in.”
Ms. O’Donnell was politely informed the school did not “condone heroics,” she said. Instead, Briar should have found a teacher to handle the situation.
“I asked: ‘In the time it would have taken him to go get a teacher, could that kid’s throat have been slit?’ She said yes, but that’s beside the point. That we ‘don’t condone heroics in this school.’ ”
The most messed up thing about this situation isn’t the fact that a kid did the right thing and stopped a violent thug before he was able to harm somebody, it isn’t even the fact that his good deed was punished, it’s the fact that his good deed being punished isn’t surprising.
As I said, one of the biggest causes of violence in our society is likely the low cost of performing violent act. The cost is artificially low because when somebody does step in to defend a fellow human being they are punished.
When the principal said heroics aren’t condoned she sent a very clear message: violence will be tolerated. A student coming across a violent act is less inclined to involve themselves if they know their involvement will lead to their punishment. Knowing this, violent students will be more likely to commit acts of violence because they know the chances of somebody intervening, at least until their act is completed, is lower. I’ve noted that the state lowers the cost of committing violent acts by putting road blocks between individuals and the ability to defend themselves. Punishing good deeds discourages good deeds and a society lacking good deeds is almost certain to crumble under the weight of violence and thievery.
Yesterday was the opening day for, what is almost certainly, a show trial. This trial is a retaliatory strike in the state’s war on privacy. Most of you probably know that I’m referring to the trial of Bradley Manning, who stands accused of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks. There has been a great deal of debate amongst those paying attention to the trial regarding the validity of Manning’s actions. One side of the debate believes Manning’s actions qualify as treason while the other side believes Manning did the right thing. I’m in the latter camp. As an anarchist I don’t recognize borders, flags, or anything else related to a state as being valid and therefore I dismiss the charge of treason as a fictitious decree created by the state for the expressed purpose of punishing any dissenters. But even if that weren’t the case I would still support Manning. Why? Because the state initiated a war on privacy and, in so doing, lost its right to privacy.
The United States government has waged a war against our privacy since its inception. Every law it passes requires a violation of our privacy. Once something that was previously legal is declared illegal the power of warrants increase. Warrants are little more than a legal nicety that allows the state to violate the privacy of individuals. With a simple piece of paper in hand agents of the state can enter a home without legal contest and search for any material listed on said piece of paper.
After the prohibition on alcohol was passed warrants could be obtained simply because the state suspected an individual was in possession of or making alcohol. When cannabis was declared illegal the power of warrants increased again in order to empower law enforcement agents to search homes of people suspected of possessing or growing cannabis. Tax regulations grant the state the power to search through financial records looking for violations. Laws prohibiting people from sharing copyrighted works allow state agents to search people’s homes and electronic devices for infringing material. But things have gotten much worse since September 11, 2001.
The attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon were the justification used by the state to pass the PATRIOT Act. Amongst other things the PATRIOT Act authorized state agents to setup wiretaps without a warrant, spy on financial records under the claim of stopping the flow of funds to terrorist organizations, and issuing National Security Letters that require service providers to hand over customer data to the state while prohibiting those providers from informing their customers that their information has been demanded. By passing the PATRIOT Act the state effectively said that we the people no longer had the right to privacy. Since then the state has continued to renew expiring provisions of the PATRIOT Act and pushing the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) twice. When CISPA failed to pass the first time Mr. Obama issued a series of executive orders that emulated much of what CISPA purported to do.
Make no mistake, the state fired the first shot and, in so doing, forced the people to take defensive actions. I’m a firm believer in proportional responses to aggression. If somebody initiates force against you then you have the right to use proportional retaliatory force in response. When the state violates the people’s privacy I believe violating its privacy is a proportional response.
I don’t care what information is stolen from the state so long as the state wants to keep it secret. As long as it continues its war against our privacy we should respond by violating its privacy. Bradley Manning did the right thing in my opinion. He took the state’s right to privacy away after it took our right to privacy away. It’s unfortunate that he is now, for all intents and purposes, a prisoner of war but I hope his example sets a precedence that leads more state agents to leak classified information.