Favorite Quotes

"Once you walk into a courtroom, you've already lost. The best way to win is to avoid it at all costs, because the justice system is anything but" Sydney Carton, Attorney. "There is no one in the criminal justice system who believes that system works well. Or if they are, they are for courts that are an embarrassment to the ideals of justice. The law of real people doesn't work" Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law Professor.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Feds tell nation’s cops to stop illegally seizing motorists’ property, only if they want to

Federal drug enforcement officials have issued a new code of conduct for highway police across the country intended to help curb the number of questionable civil seizures of cash and property from motorists.
Officials in the federal High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program said they are doing so to remind local and state police about the need to honor Constitutional values and the civil rights of motorists. The code is voluntary.
You read that right, DHS run police departments will voluntarily decide to honor their Constitutional values and the civil rights of motorists. If you believe that, I have some moon real estate you might be interested in.
For more info. click here to read "Policing For Profit The Abuse Of Civil Asset Forfeiture"
Click here to read another disturbing article titled "Policing For Profit: How Your Property Can Be Seized"
The code emphasizes the importance of traffic safety and the restrained use of an aggressive enforcement technique known as “highway interdiction,” which often involves large numbers of traffic stops by officers looking for drugs, illicit cash and other contraband.
The code, a series of bullet points, was issued last month to hundreds of officials at the national conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Orlando.
“Emphasize interdiction programs are not purposed for enhancing agency budgets,” the document says. “Underscore forfeited ill-gotten proceeds be spent prudently in accordance with applicable statutes, sound policies and regulations.”
There are 28 active HIDTA operations nationwide.
Seizures are made through an asset forfeiture program at the Justice Department, that allows local police to take cash and property under federal civil law without proving a crime has occurred.  Cities and counties have seized more than $2.5 billion since 2001 through the Equitable Sharing program which allows local agencies to keep up to 80 percent of the proceeds.
Kurt Schmid, director of the HIDTA office in Chicago said some officers may be using the technique to pad local police budgets through forfeited proceeds rather than pursuing criminal cases or focusing on traffic safety.
The ten-point code is written as a pledge, wink, wink. It says that “members of the Domestic Highway Enforcement (DHE) community” recognize they must adhere to the “highest standards of integrity and ethical principals in the performance of traffic safety enforcement activities.” It describes highway interdiction is an “ancillary endeavor.”
The code also addresses the use of informal intelligence networks to share unofficial reports about suspect drivers sometimes without evidence of a crime.Thousands of officers have tapped into these systems in recent years.
Schmid, Killoran and others worried that police using the intelligence networks may be unknowingly violating their departments’ rules or the laws governing the sharing of personal and law enforcement sensitive information.

Why would anyone worry? It's not as though DHS/police are spying on our cell phones, emails and tracking our license plates, RIGHT?

The truth about hood billionaire Rick Ross & 'prison for profit'

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Freedom Act defeated, finally!

Former congressman Ron Paul is praising lawmakers on Capitol Hill for failing to approve the USA Freedom Act last week, even though the bill would have reformed some of the policies of the National Security Agency.
Paul, has long been an opponent of government overreach, especially with respect to the surveillance operations conducted by the NSA. Nevertheless, the retired lawmaker is saluting the current Congress’ decision to vote down the USA Freedom Act last Tuesday.
The bill, a direct response to the intelligence community’s revelations attributed to former contractor Edward Snowden, came two votes short of advancing in the Senate during last week’s vote.
But while passage of the USA Freedom Act indeed would have brought changes to some of the NSA’s practices, Paul said this week during a message broadcast by his telephone hotline that Congress was right to reject the bill, as it would have renewed certain provisions from the controversial post-9/11 Patriot Act.
“While some well-meaning pro-privacy groups endorsed the Freedom Act as a first step to reform, some anti-liberty neoconservatives opposed the legislation because even its anemic reforms were unacceptable,” Paul says in the telephone recording. “The truth is, Americans should not accept one more extension of the Patriot Act and should not endorse its continued dismemberment of our constitutional liberties. If that means some senators vote with anti-liberty colleagues to kill the extension, we should still consider it a victory.”
“Reform is often meant to preserve, not repeal bad legislation. When the public is strongly opposed to a particular policy you will almost never hear politicians say ‘let’s repeal the law.’ It is always a pledge to reform the policy or law. The USA Freedom Act was no different,” Paul said.
“With the failure of the Freedom Act to move ahead in the Senate last week, several of the most egregious sections of the PATRIOT Act will expire next June absent new authorization. Congress will no doubt be under great pressure to extend these measures. We must do our very best to make sure they are unsuccessful,” Paul said.

ACLU suing DHS run Border Patrol for illegal checkpoints in Arizona

AZ - Despite its "temporary" and "tactical" status, the checkpoint along the rural two-lane road that runs from Interstate 19 west to the tiny, isolated town of Arivaca has been up and running for seven years.

Many of the approximately 700 people who live in Arivaca - about 60 miles southwest of Tucson, 20 miles from I-19 and about 25 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border - must pass through the checkpoint daily to go to work, school or the store.

More than 230 Arivaca residents and 10 business owners have signed a petition calling for the removal of the Arivaca Road checkpoint, according to the lawsuit.

Since February, a local group called "People Helping People" has been monitoring the checkpoint because of a "growing concern about Border Patrol activities in their community, including harassment and civil rights violations by federal agents at the checkpoint," according to the complaint.

Ragan and Jacobson claim that Border Patrol agents in the area did not appreciate the attention.

"In response to the Arivaca residents' campaign, Border Patrol agents unconstitutionally interfered with plaintiffs' speech and retaliated against them by: barring plaintiffs from the public right-of-way adjacent to the checkpoint; requiring them and others monitoring the checkpoint with them to remain at an unreasonably great distance from the checkpoint; obstructing plaintiffs' view by parking vehicles directly in the way; leaving parked vehicles running next to the checkpoint monitors for hours at a time so that the monitors would suffer from noxious fumes emissions; and threatening plaintiffs with arrest, while allowing individuals who supported Defendants the same access to the public right-of-way that defendants denied to plaintiffs and other PHP monitors," the lawsuit states.
"They've cordoned us off far away from the checkpoint, parked their trucks to block our view and even threatened to arrest us," Ragan said in a statement. "All of this is on top of the harassment and abuse community members were already experiencing at this checkpoint, which necessitated this campaign in the first place. Instead of responding to our concerns, by imposing these restrictions Border Patrol is doubling down on abuse and retaliating against community members who are just trying to hold them accountable."
According to the initial results of People Helping People's monitoring program, "Data collected from over 100 hours of monitoring and 2,700 checkpoint stops showed that agents at the Arivaca Road checkpoint systematically discriminate against Latino motorists," the ACLU said in a statement.
Earlier this year the ACLU sued to obtain records of the illegal checkpoints from the Border Patrol.
The ACLU has demanded a federal probe into the operations at U.S. Border Patrol checkpoints. Among the alleged abuses cited in the complaint were extended interrogation and detention unrelated to determining a person's immigration status, unwarranted searches, racial profiling, verbal harassment and physical assault.
The ACLU said DHS officials ignored two requests for public information about the Border Patrol's interior enforcement operations in the Tucson and Yuma sectors.
"It's outrageous that the leaders of the nation's largest law enforcement agency think that they can simply ignore lawful requests for public information," said James Lyall, an ACLU attorney in Tucson. "For Border Patrol to be held accountable they have to be transparent. But the agency consistently refuses to share basic information with the American people while rights violations are rampant."

Monday, November 24, 2014

One of the most extensive disclosures about a police dept’s use Stingray spying tech.

NC - The Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s office will review hundreds of criminal cases after a judge unsealed related records that allowed police to secretly track cellphones in their investigations.
The records give the fullest account to date about cellphone surveillance conducted by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. They also provide one of the most extensive disclosures about a U.S. police department’s use of a powerful technology, commonly known as a StingRay, which law enforcement agencies and the federal government have fought to conceal from the public.
CMPD sought permission to use cellphone surveillance more than 500 times since 2010, or about twice a week, according to court records revealed Thursday.
Click here & here to read the unsealed Court orders.
Documents and interviews suggest judges rarely, if ever, denied authorization requested by CMPD to use equipment that can intercept cellphone information from criminal suspects and innocent people alike.
Charlotte City Manager Ron Carlee has strongly defended CMPD’s surveillance of cellphones and other wireless devices, saying officers do not eavesdrop on conversations or store data from innocent people
“It is my conclusion that procedures in place by CMPD are designed to protect constitutional rights and that to deny CMPD the use of this modern investigatory tool would not be in the best interest of public safety for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community,” Carlee has said.
The files contain no records showing CMPD received court permission to use a StingRay from when it first purchased the device in 2006 until 2010. That means there is no way to readily determine how often police used the device, if they were justified or if they had judicial oversight during that time span.
Senior Deputy City Attorney Judith Emken said during that period, police applied for court orders giving them permission to deploy the device, generically called a cell-site simulator.
Court officials, however, did not file the records in the clerk’s office. Instead, police detectives kept copies in investigative files, which are not open to public inspection.
The arrangement violated the fundamental principle that American courts should be open and transparent, said Linda Lye, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.
“The government was effectively making surveillance law secret,” Lye said. “The government should not be able to get around open records law because of chaotic record keeping.”
It's been very difficult for attorneys and the public alike to fully understand when, where, and how law enforcement has been asking judges to sign off on Stingrays. Previously, Brian Owsley, one federal magistrate judge who served in Texas for eight years and is now a law professor at Indiana Tech, had his efforts thwarted to unseal similar orders.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

Govt. judge tells Yahoo if Americans don't know they're being spied on, there's no harm

Details forced from the government's Top Secret file folders by FISA Judge Reggie Walton) are only emerging now. A total of 1,500 pages will eventually make their way into the public domain once redactions have been applied. The most recent release is a transcript of oral arguments presented by Yahoo's counsel (Mark Zwillinger) and the US Solicitor General (Gregory Garre).

The oral arguments presented by Zwillinger and Garre reveal a frightening new govt. argument.
Zwillinger opens up the arguments by questioning the govt’s methods of determining who should be placed under surveillance.
Why I show this to you is because I think it’s a perfectly fair question for you to ask the Solicitor General of the United States how a name gets on this list. This isn’t reviewed by a — the FISA Court. These names aren’t reviewed by the Attorney General of the United States. The difference between surveilling an account and exposing someone’s most private communications and not is how a name gets on this list; and all we know about it from page 47 of their brief, is that an intelligence analyst puts it on the list. 
“We are being asked and compelled to participate in surveillance we believe violates the constitution of the United States,” Zwillinger said.
The government's response begins by denying that US persons' data is retained. "There is no database," says Garre, before having to admit a few sentences later, that incidental data is retained (and distributed) if there is evidence of other, non-national-security-related criminal activity.

Garre then goes on to explain why the govt. feels it should have warrantless access to US persons' communications, routed through and stored at US servers. He refers to satellite communications -- something in use when FISA was enacted in 1978. Garre says that even though these communications may have been captured by domestic satellite receivers, it's the point of origin that matters. Outside the US? No warrant needed, even for US persons. Likewise for emails stored on Yahoo servers.
MR. GARRE: I don't think anybody would argue that the Fourth Amendment would apply to that communication, even though the email communications go to account in Sunnyvale, California. I haven't understood Yahoo to argue that the Fourth Amendment would be implicated by that.

And, similarly, the Fourth Amendment isn't --

JUSTICE SELYA: You mean the interception there by you and Yahoo would not implicate the Fourth Amendment?

MR. GARRE: That Certainly would be the government's view.
Garre also blames the large number of dead accounts in the court orders on Yahoo's refusal to immediately comply, while simultaneously spinning it as the unavoidable collateral damage of "efficient" surveillance.
So the fact that accounts have been closed is not significant, and that's particularly true given that the large number of email accounts here is reflected by the fact that Yahoo is in noncompliance for several months. So, if you go back several months, it's not surprising that several accounts have been closed.
But all of this pales in light of the words of Judge Morris S. Arnold.  If they sound familiar, they are. This was the argument made, and roundly ridiculed, by Congressman Mike Rodgers, chair of the House Intelligence Committee.
Vladeck: But who would be complaining? 
Rogers: Somebody who’s privacy was violated.  You can’t have your privacy violated if you don’t know your privacy is violated.
Up to now, this lunacy was attributed to a politician, who is allowed under our system of democracy to be as stupid as his voters allow him to be.  As it turns out, Rodgers didn’t come up with this rationalization by himself.  From a twit by Trevor Timm:
By the same logic, all sorts of secret surveillance would be OK -- like watching your neighbor's wife undress through the window, or placing a hidden camera in the restroom -- as long as the surveilled party is never made aware of it. If you don't know it's happening, then there's nothing wrong with it. Right? 
With these words, we not only lose, but we have no hope. DHS/police, the NSA etc., can spy on us and we don't have a right to know. 
Jesselyn Radack points out the problem with FISA: 'They hear only the government's side.'
Click here to read more.