Thursday, July 10, 2008

ACLU & FISA



CONGRESS voted to destroy our Fourth Amendment right to privacy. The Senate voted to destroy our Fourth Amendment right to privacy. The only hope that remains is the ACLU. The following is a press release from the ACLU, who have announced that they intend to fight this in the Supreme Court.




WASHINGTON – Today, in a blatant assault upon civil liberties and the right to privacy, the Senate passed an unconstitutional domestic spying bill that violates the Fourth Amendment and eliminates any meaningful role for judicial oversight of government surveillance. The FISA Amendments Act of 2008 was approved by a vote of 69 to 28 and is expected to be signed into law by President Bush shortly. This bill essentially legalizes the president’s unlawful warrantless wiretapping program revealed in December 2005 by the New York Times.

“Once again, Congress blinked and succumbed to the president’s fear-mongering. With today’s vote, the government has been given a green light to expand its power to spy on Americans and run roughshod over the Constitution,” said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “This legislation will give the government unfettered and unchecked access to innocent Americans’ international communications without a warrant. This is not only unconstitutional, but absolutely un-American.”

The FISA Amendments Act nearly eviscerates oversight of government surveillance by allowing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to review only general procedures for spying rather than individual warrants. The FISC will not be told any specifics about who will actually be wiretapped, thereby undercutting any meaningful role for the court and violating the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

The bill further trivializes court review by authorizing the government to continue a surveillance program even after the government’s general spying procedures are found insufficient or unconstitutional by the FISC. The government has the authority to wiretap through the entire appeals process, and then keep and use whatever information was gathered in the meantime. A provision touted as a major “concession” by proponents of the bill calls for investigations by the inspectors general of four agencies overseeing spying activities. But members of Congress who do not sit on the Judiciary or Intelligence committees will not be guaranteed access to the agencies’ reports.

The bill essentially grants absolute retroactive immunity to telecommunication companies that facilitated the president’s warrantless wiretapping program over the last seven years by ensuring the dismissal of court cases pending against those companies. The test for the companies’ right to immunity is not whether the government certifications they acted on were actually legal – only whether they were issued. Because it is public knowledge that certifications were issued, all of the pending cases will be summarily dismissed. This means Americans may never learn the truth about what the companies and the government did with our private communications.

“With one vote, Congress has strengthened the executive branch, weakened the judiciary and rendered itself irrelevant,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “This bill – soon to be law – is a constitutional nightmare. Americans should know that if this legislation is enacted and upheld, what they say on international phone calls or emails is no longer private. The government can listen in without having a specific reason to do so. Our rights as Americans have been curtailed and our privacy can no longer be assumed.”

In advance of the president’s signature, the ACLU announced its plan to challenge the new law in court.

“This fight is not over. We intend to challenge this bill as soon as President Bush signs it into law,” said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project. “The bill allows the warrantless and dragnet surveillance of Americans’ international telephone and email communications. It plainly violates the Fourth Amendment.”

FISA page at the aclu.org - linky
Donate to the aclu - linky
File a complaint with your phone provider - linky

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Guillermo Alarcon Jr



GOT lucky. He was arrested and charged with crack cocaine possession. The officers that arrested him swore under oath in court that they saw him throw a box, that it cracked open, and that drugs were found inside.

He probably would have gone to jail.

Except for the fact that it wasn't true. The police were recorded by a surveillance camera, and they were lying. An innocent man was going to have his life destroyed, by the very people who swore to protect him.

The LA Times has the story

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The emperor-that-would-be has no clothes



TAKE a moment and look at this video. Once you're done laughing, watch it again, and think about what it reveals. The fervid desperation to sanctify McCain's military service, to protect it from all future assault, make it clear for all to see that other than his military record (which is far from exemplary), McCain has absolutely nothing to stand on.

This is the reason for all the outrage, the head-shaking and the hand-wringing. They know that the illusion has to be preserved at all costs. No one must be allowed to see the truth behind the lie, which is that the emperor-that-would-be has no clothes.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

694,354



THE number of Californian signatures required to place on the ballot Initiative 08-0009 to legalize, and tax, marijuana.


Marijuana Legalization. Individual Rights. Constitutional Amendment.
Summary Date: 04/08/08
Circulation Deadline: 09/05/08
Signatures Required: 694,354
Proponent: Christopher Springer

Amends constitution to legalize marijuana and hemp within California and to provide for broad individual constitutional rights, including rights to food, shelter, medical care, and to be free from “unreasonable” taxation. Allows marijuana to be sold in any store that sells alcohol. Establishes local boards with expansive powers, including powers to regulate and tax marijuana. Requires marijuana tax revenues support specified programs. Exempts marijuana sales profits from income tax. Forbids most testing for marijuana used outside the workplace. Prohibits most marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco advertisements. Immunizes marijuana growers and sellers from liability. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Potential savings of up to several tens of millions of dollars annually to state and local governments, which would no longer incur the costs of incarcerating and supervising certain marijuana offenders. Potential costs of up to the tens of millions of dollars to state and local governments to fund the one-time start-up costs of the local boards. A potentially significant increase in state and local spending on substance abuse treatment services that could possibly be partially or fully offset by revenues from this measure. Potential increased revenues in the tens of millions to low hundreds of millions of dollars annually from marijuana stamps and licenses to support specified programs and the local boards. Unknown but potentially significant increase in state and local revenues from collection of sales and use taxes on the sale of Marijuana. Unknown but potentially significant decrease in state and local revenues from taxes on tobacco and alcohol due to a prohibition of advertising for these goods that would likely result in a decline in sales.


Full text of the proposed amendment - linky

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