Tag Archive: ACLU


Big Brother Fears As NYPD Attaches Microphones To Lampposts To Listen Out For Gunshots… But They Can Also Record Your Conversations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

” Technology now in use by the New York Police Department may be picking up stray conversations.

  Three hundred ShotSpotter microphones are being placed in high crime areas of the Bronx and Brooklyn, with the aim of alerting police immediately when they overhear the sound of gunshots.

  However, the devices pick up more that just the bang of shots being fired in potential crimes, and evidence from conversations they’ve listened in on has been used in court.”

We find the raven emblematic of the death of our privacy

” Audio recordings from ShotSpotter have been used to corroborate testimony that led to convictions in a 2011 Massachusetts murder where a voice was heard shouting ‘No Jason, no Jason!’ before shots were fired. 

  NYPD officials and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a pilot program for the microphones earlier this week.

  Sensors in seven districts of the Bronx have already begun working, and the devices will be turned on in ten districts of Brooklyn on Monday, according to the New York Times. “

   ShotSpotter amounts to “Big Brother” listening posts throughout the public streets , and despite assurances to the contrary raise legitimate privacy concerns:

” The restrictions on triggering events have not stopped some privacy advocates from saying that evidence procured by the ShotSpotters may violate the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. 

‘ If [ShotSpotter] is recording voices out in public, it needs to be shut down,’ the ACLU’s Jay Stanley told Take Part.

  He said his organization is ‘always concerned about secondary uses of technology that is sold to us for some unobjectionable purpose and is then used for other purposes.’ “

   One thing that has become readily apparent in recent years is that if there is a way to abuse and/or misuse technological advances , the State will find a way … Read more on the huge potential for civil rights abuses represented by State ears recording on public streets here

   If public eavesdropping becomes socially acceptable , in the name of “public safety” of course , then it follows that the next step , also for “the public good” , will be something along the lines of what the head of Scotland Yard recently proposed … surveillance cameras in our homes .  

ACLU Files New Lawsuit Over Obama Administration Drone ‘Kill List’

 

 

 

 

” As the US debates expanding its campaign against the Islamic State beyond Iraq and Syria, the leading US civil liberties group is intensifying its efforts to force transparency about lethal US counterterrorism strikes and authorities.

  On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) will file a disclosure lawsuit for secret Obama administration documents specifying, among other things, the criteria for placement on the so-called “kill list” for drone strikes and other deadly force.

  Information sought by the ACLU includes long-secret analyses establishing the legal basis for what the administration terms its “targeted killing program” and the process by which the administration determines that civilians are unlikely to be killed before launching a strike, as well as verification mechanisms afterward to establish if the strike in fact has caused civilian deaths.

  The suit, to be filed in a New York federal court, also seeks basic data the Obama administration has withheld about “the number and identities of individuals killed or injured” in counterterrorism strikes, according to the ACLU filing. In February 2013, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who favors the drone strikes, estimated they had killed 4,700 people.

“ Over the last few years, the US government has used armed drones to kill thousands of people, including hundreds of civilians. The public should know who the government is killing, and why it’s killing them,” Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director for the ACLU, told the Guardian.”

 

 

    As usual the American Democratic media establishment in protecting “President Peace Prize” is silent on this matter but thankfully the Guardian has the complete story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does Your State Protect Your Privacy In The Digital Age?

 

Privacy Rights In The Digital Age

 

 

 

” New technologies make it possible for state and local law enforcement agencies to engage in surveillance that used to be prohibitively expensive and/or effectively impossible. The ACLU has been working with legislators across the country to put in place rules to ensure that we can take advantage of these new technologies without becoming a surveillance society in which our every movements are tracked, monitored, and scrutinized by the authorities. Much of our work to that end focuses on: law enforcement access to electronic communications content, location tracking,automatic license plate readers, and domestic surveillance drones.

  If we can address these four issue areas, we will go a long way toward protecting privacy in the digital age. This map provides a snapshot of the states that have already provided privacy protections for some or all of them. Of course, the devil is in the details of these laws, and we encourage you to review the bill text or to check out the ACLU’s blog for more information on just how much protection there is in your state.”

 

Thanks to the ACLU

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

U.S. Spies On Millions Of Cars

 

 

 

 

” The Justice Department has been building a national database to track in real time the movement of vehicles around the U.S., a secret domestic intelligence-gathering program that scans and stores hundreds of millions of records about motorists, according to current and former officials and government documents.

  The primary goal of the license-plate tracking program, run by the Drug Enforcement Administration, is to seize cars, cash and other assets to combat drug trafficking, according to one government document. But the database’s use has expanded to hunt for vehicles associated with numerous other potential crimes, from kidnappings to killings to rape suspects, say people familiar with the matter.

  Officials have publicly said that they track vehicles near the border with Mexico to help fight drug cartels. What hasn’t been previously disclosed is that the DEA has spent years working to expand the database “throughout the United States,’’ according to one email reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Many state and local law-enforcement agencies are accessing the database for a variety of investigations, according to people familiar with the program, putting a wealth of information in the hands of local officials who can track vehicles in real time on major roadways.

  The database raises new questions about privacy and the scope of government surveillance. The existence of the program and its expansion were described in interviews with current and former government officials, and in documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union through a Freedom of Information Act request and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. It is unclear if any court oversees or approves the intelligence-gathering.”

 

Read more

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Civil Liberties Groups Appeal Ruling Over Automatic License Plate Reader Data

 

 

 

 

” The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California are taking the fight over automatic license plate reader (ALPR) data to the next level by asking the California Court of Appeal to rule that the public has a right to know how Los Angeles cops are tracking their locations.

  ALPRs are cameras mounted to patrol cars and fixed locations, such as light poles, that are able to capture, process, and store the license plates of every vehicle that passes nearby. The Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department together collect close to 3 million license plates each week; these data points could give police an intimate picture of the comings and goings of the entire population over several years. By our estimates, these agencies currently have an average of 61 plate scans for each vehicle registered in Los Angeles County.”

 

EFF has more

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Police Chief Accuses Secret Service Of Misconduct

 

 

 

 

 

” Nashville’s police chief is raising stunning new allegations regarding the U.S. Secret Service, saying local agents once asked his officers to fake a warrant.

 Even more disturbing, Chief Steve Anderson said he complained to top Secret Service officials in Washington, and they did not seem to care.

  The allegations regarding the January 2013 incident are contained in a letter that Anderson sent last week to several members of the House Committee on Oversight. That’s the congressional committee that has spearheaded the on-going investigation into the Secret Service. Secret Service Director Julia Pierson was recently forced to resign as a result of that scandal.

” There’s already a lot of fodder to attack the Secret Service with, and this will be more,” said Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tennessee, who was among the committee members who received the letter.

  The legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, Thomas Castelli, called the incident an “absolutely appalling” violation of basic constitutional principles.

” If this is something that not all law enforcement — and I’m talking about from the cop patrolling the streets in our smallest town in Tennessee all the way up to the Secret Service and the FBI — if this is not something that they’re taught, then that’s a big problem,” Castelli said. “

 

NewsChannel 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cops Seize Car When Told To Get A Warrant, Tell Owner That’s What He Gets For ‘Exercising His Rights’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

” Yeah, so you’ve read the headline. No criminal activity. No charges brought. And a cheap shot fired across the bow of the Fourth Amendment, not to mention Vermont’s own Constitution.

  But let’s travel back further to set this up. Twenty-one-year-old Gregory Zullo was supposedly pulled over for having his license plate registration sticker (incidentally) covered by a small amount of snow.

Not a crime. From the ACLU filing [pdf link]:

  At all times relevant to this action, it was not a violation of Vermont law to drive a car on which the validation sticker on the rear license plate – but not the numbers and letters of the license plate itself – was touched by snow, leaves, or any other material.

  The lawsuit notes that the officer who stated this was the reason he initiated the event spent no further time on that subject. He didn’t bother to brush the snow away from the registration sticker or have Zullo do it, despite the fact that both spent over 30 minutes no more than a few inches away from the offending plate.

  Officer Hatch spent most of his time trying to talk Zullo into allowing him to search the vehicle without a warrant. Hatch seemed to be convinced that Zullo was involved with the heroin traffickers he was searching for. Hatch tried everything, including lying.

  More than once, the defendant’s employee told Mr. Zullo that Mr. Zullo should consent to a search because the police dog in the back of his truck smelled something. “

Read more here and here

US Rethinks Giving Excess Military Gear To Police

 

 

 

 

 

 

” After a decade of sending military equipment to civilian police departments across the country, federal officials are reconsidering the idea in light of the violence in Ferguson, Missouri.

  The public has absorbed images of heavily armed police, snipers trained on protesters and tear gas plumes. Against that backdrop, Attorney General Eric Holder said that when police and citizens need to restore calm, “I am deeply concerned that the deployment of military equipment and vehicles sends a conflicting message.”

  Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said police responses like that in Ferguson have “become the problem instead of the solution.” Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., said he will introduce legislation to curb the trend of police militarization.

  Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said his committee will review the program to determine if the Defense Department’s surplus equipment is being used as intended.

  One night after the violence that accompanied the presence of military-style equipment in Ferguson, tensions eased when a police captain, unprotected and shaking hands, walked through a crowd in a gesture of reconciliation. The contrast added to the perception that the tanks and tear gas had done more harm than good.

  As the country concludes its longest wartime period, the military has turned over thousands of surplus weapons and armored trucks to local police who often trained alongside the military.

  A report by the American Civil Liberties Union in June said police agencies had become “excessively militarized,” with officers using training and equipment designed for the battlefield on city streets. The report found the amount of goods transferred through the military surplus program rose in value from $1 million in 1990 to nearly $450 million in 2013.”

 

 

Read more at AP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Massachusetts SWAT Teams Claim They’re Private Corporations, Immune From Open Records Laws

 

 

 

 

 

 

” As part of the American Civil Liberties Union’s recent report on police militarization, the Massachusetts chapter of the organization sent open records requests to SWAT teams across that state. It received an interesting response.

  As it turns out, a number of SWAT teams in the Bay State are operated by what are called law enforcement councils, or LECs. These LECs are funded by several police agencies in a given geographic area and overseen by an executive board, which is usually made up of police chiefs from member police departments. In 2012, for example, the Tewksbury Police Department paid about $4,600 in annual membership dues to the North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council, or NEMLEC. (See page 36 of linked PDF.) That LEC has about 50 member agencies. In addition to operating a regional SWAT team, the LECs also facilitate technology and information sharing and oversee other specialized units, such as crime scene investigators and computer crime specialists.

  Some of these LECs have also apparently incorporated as 501(c)(3) organizations. And it’s here that we run into problems. According to the ACLU, the LECs are claiming that the 501(c)(3) status means that they’re private corporations, not government agencies. And therefore, they say they’re immune from open records requests. Let’s be clear. These agencies oversee police activities. They employ cops who carry guns, wear badges, collect paychecks provided by taxpayers and have the power to detain, arrest, injure and kill. They operate SWAT teams, which conduct raids on private residences. And yet they say that because they’ve incorporated, they’re immune to Massachusetts open records laws. The state’s residents aren’t permitted to know how often the SWAT teams are used, what they’re used for, what sort of training they get or who they’re primarily used against.”

 

 

    This is arrogance of the highest order . For any organizations funded by the taxpayers to claim to be private corporations is beyond the pale . 

 

 


” From the ACLU of Massachusetts’s report on police militarization in that state:

  Approximately 240 of the 351 police departments in Massachusetts belong to an LEC. While set up as “corporations,” LECs are funded by local and federal taxpayer money, are composed exclusively of public police officers and sheriffs, and carry out traditional law enforcement functions through specialized units such as SWAT teams . . .

  Due to the weakness of Massachusetts public records law and the culture of secrecy that has infected local police departments and Law Enforcement Councils, procuring empirical records from police departments and regional SWAT teams in Massachusetts about police militarization was universally difficult and, in most instances, impossible . . .

  Police departments and regional SWAT teams are public institutions, working with public money, meant to protect and serve the public’s interest. If these institutions do not maintain and make public comprehensive and comprehensible documents pertaining to their operations and tactics, the people cannot judge whether officials are acting appropriately or make needed policy changes when problems arise . . . “

 

 

 

    This situation cannot be allowed to stand . ALL public servants MUST be held accountable for their actions or are we to believe that these “mercenary” SWAT units are merely rogue privateers issued Letters of Marque ? If such is the case then they are no more than pirates and as such must be fought with all possible means  .

   Food for thought: If the SWAT teams are private corporations/private contractors , ala Blackwater ,  then they do not enjoy the legal immunities offered to employees of the State and thus should be subject to civil lawsuits and thus the discovery process … Let the flood gates open .

 

 

   Read the rest from Radley Balko at the Washington Post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

U.S. Marshals Seize Cops’ Spying Records To Keep Them From The ACLU

 

 

 

 

 

 

” A routine request in Florida for public records regarding the use of a surveillance tool known as stingray took an extraordinary turn recently when federal authorities seized the documents before police could release them.

  The surprise move by the U.S. Marshals Service stunned the American Civil Liberties Union, which earlier this year filed the public records request with the Sarasota, Florida, police department for information detailing its use of the controversial surveillance tool.

  The ACLU had an appointment last Tuesday to review documents pertaining to a case investigated by a Sarasota police detective. But marshals swooped in at the last minute to grab the records, claiming they belong to the U.S. Marshals Service and barring the police from releasing them.

  ACLU staff attorney Nathan Freed Wessler called the move “truly extraordinary and beyond the worst transparency violations” the group has seen regarding documents detailing police use of the technology.

“ This is consistent with what we’ve seen around the country with federal agencies trying to meddle with public requests for stingray information,” Wessler said, noting that federal authorities have in other cases invoked the Homeland Security Act to prevent the release of such records. “The feds are working very hard to block any release of this information to the public.”

  Stingrays, also known as IMSI catchers, simulate a cellphone tower and trick nearby mobile devices into connecting with them, thereby revealing their location. A stingray can see and record a device’s unique ID number and traffic data, as well as information that points to its location. By moving a stingray around, authorities can triangulate a device’s location with greater precision than is possible using data obtained from a carrier’s fixed tower location.”

 

 

    We’ve posted about the Stingray tracking devices and the company’s harassment of citizen journalists and now we have the Feds stepping in to further prevent the public from learning the truth about this Statist tool .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IRS Among Agencies Using License Plate-Tracking Vendor

 

 

irs-license-plate-scanner

 

 

 

” The Internal Revenue Service and other U.S. agencies awarded about $415,000 in contracts to a license plate-tracking company before Homeland Security leaders dropped a plan for similar work amid privacy complaints.

  Federal offices such as the Forest Service and the U.S. Air Force’s Air Combat Command chose Livermore, California-based Vigilant Solutions to provide access to license plate databases or tools used to collect plate information, according to government procurement records compiled by Bloomberg.

  Vigilant, a closely held company, has received such work since 2009. In February, Jeh Johnson, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, ordered the cancelation of an immigration agency plan to buy access to national license plate data. While the technology can help solve crimes, the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups have said the mass collection of data infringes the privacy of innocent people.

“ Especially with the IRS, I don’t know why these agencies are getting access to this kind of information,” said Jennifer Lynch, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based privacy-rights group. “These systems treat every single person in an area as if they’re under investigation for a crime — that is not the way our criminal justice system was set up or the way things work in a democratic society.” “

Read more at Bloomberg

Principal: L.I. High School Students Suspended Indefinitely For Displaying Confederate Flag

 

 

 

 

 

 

” Two Long Island high school students have been suspended for allegedly bringing a Confederate flag to school.

  Brother Gary Cregan, principal of St. Anthony’s High School in South Huntington, said the two seniors walked in with a Confederate flag draped around their shoulders during an after-hours sporting event at the school.

  The students were initially suspended for 10 days, but Cregan decided Tuesday they won’t be allowed back, Brown reported.

  Cregan wrote a letter to parents saying the use of any symbols “designed to revive past injustices or to inflame discrimination or racial intolerance, is completely unacceptable and profoundly offensive,” Newsday reported.

  The students haven’t explained why they did it. St. Anthony’s is a private Catholic school and isn’t bound by the First Amendment right to free speech.

  Still, the New York Civil Liberties Union said all people should be able to express their views freely, even the offensive ones.

“ Our motto is more speech, not censorship or punishment,” NYCLU director Donna Lieberman told Brown. “Helping children understand the impact of this patently offensive expressive activity.” “

 

Read more

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Confederate Flag Controversy

 

 

Greg Vied Confederate Flag

 

 

 

” Greg Vied is a 17 year-old Puerto Rican high school student on a quest for his first amendment rights, but he’s doing it by strapping a big red and blue Confederate Battle Flag that says “redneck” to his blue pickup truck.

  Vied also has the words “redneck Cadillac” written on the back of the truck, and on the front side of the truck it says “hate me yet?”

  Vied said he’s had the flag up on his truck since he got it back in January, but it’s only caused a problem for him at school over the past week.

  You see, Vied originally got suspended, but then the school got a letter from the ACLU advocating that they should uphold Vied’s first amendments rights, and so the suspension ended.

“ They said that it was offending some people, but they didn’t tell me who it was offending or how many people were offended and I told them that I still wasn’t gonna take it down. It was my first amendment right to have the flag up and I was gonna keep it up until I graduate,” Vied explained.

  Greg’s mom, Lisa Martinez, confirms that this is not a case of bigotry.

We’re not bigoted at all in this house. I’m gay. His sister’s gay. I’m Puerto Rican,” she said.”

 

 

     If the First Amendment doesn’t protect “offensive” speech then it protects nothing . Bravo to this young man who , as a child of Puerto Rican descent , makes a much tougher target to demonize by the forces of the PC thought police  . Good luck to him . 

    Check the Constitution and Bill Of Rights , no place in it does it grant ANYONE the right not to be offended . 

Read it all 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Newark Police To Be Monitored By Federal Watchdog

 

Who Polices The Police

 

” The Justice Department will place the Newark Police Department under a monitor later this year, the first time in state history that a municipal police agency will operate under a federal watchdog, according to four sources familiar with the situation.

  The decision follows a federal review of the way the state’s largest police force swept aside accusations of misconduct against hundreds of officers and its almost-total failure to address complaints of brutality and abuse lodged by Newark residents over the years.

  The investigation began in 2011, a year after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a scathing 96-page petition with the Department of Justice, accusing Newark’s police of rampant misconduct.

  The ACLU investigation found citizens filed 261 complaints with the department accusing officers of using excessive force, biased actions, improper searches or false arrests in 2008 and 2009. Only one complaint was sustained by the department.

  One officer faced 62 internal affairs investigations during a 14-year career, according to the petition, while Newark shelled out nearly $5 million in response to civil lawsuits from 2007 to 2009.”

 

Things must be bad if Eric Holder was forced to take action .

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tech Companies And Activists Unite To Protest The NSA

 

 

 

 

” Get ready for another day of internet-wide activism. This is billed as “The Day We Fight Back,” with sites across the web joining a campaign to end mass surveillance programs from the National Security Agency.

  The campaign was organized by public advocacy groups such as Demand Progress, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Fight for the Future, working alongside tech companies such as Reddit, Namecheap, and Tumblr. With the protest, activists hope to not only push public opinion even further against the NSA, but also defeat the FISA Improvements Act, a bill sponsored by California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein. Demand Progress executive director David Segal says that although the bill is touted as reform legislation, it would actually codify many of the surveillance practices that activists oppose — practices that have received added attention in recent months after ex-government contractor Edward Snowden began sharing NSA secrets with the press.

  At least in spirit, today’s protest resembles a successful 2012 campaign to stop the SOPA and PIPA anti-piracy bills, which critics argued were over-broad and would have allowed the government to censor the web. But it also honors the memory of Aaron Schwartz, the political activist and co-founder of both Demand Progress and Reddit, who took his life last year.”

 

Wired has more

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still Locking People Up For Being Poor? Really?! It’s 2014

 

 

 

” Debtors’ prisons sound like ancient history, right? Unfortunately, they’re all too common across the United States. In spite of the Constitution, case law, and common sense, low-income people are routinely jailed in places as far-flung as Georgia and Washington State simply because they cannot afford to pay their court fines.

  Let’s define court fines, because it’s kind of shocking. “Court fines” could be as little as a couple hundred bucks because someone was pulled over while driving with an expired license. If you’ve just been laid off and have kids to feed, it might be hard to find a couple hundred extra bucks in your budget. Well, that can send you to lock up.

  Not only does it cost the community quite a bit to jail someone (usually way in excess of the fine), but locking people up can trap them in the vicious cycle of poverty, debt, and incarceration that typifies the modern day debtors’ prison. Individuals incarcerated because they can’t pay minor court fines have lost their jobs, been evicted from their housing, suffered serious declines in their health, and faced family crises.

  Not only are debtors’ prisons wildly bad public policy, they are unconstitutional. And yet thousands of people are still beaten down by the justice system simply because they cannot pay their fines.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Federal Judge Rules Drivers Allowed To Flash Headlights To Warn Of Speed Traps

 

 

 

 

” A federal judge in Missouri ruled this week held that drivers have a First Amendment right to flash their headlights to warn other motorists of nearby police and speed traps. 

  The order by U.S. District Judge Henry E. Autrey in St. Louis on Monday stems from a lawsuit filed by Ellisville resident Michael Elli. In 2012, Elli flashed his headlights to warn oncoming vehicles of a radar set up by police in the town of Ellisville.

  A flash of headlights is a common way motorists communicate to oncoming drivers of either a dangerous situation or the presence of police — in essence, a warning to slow down. 

  An officer saw the flash and pulled over Elli, who could have faced a fine of up to $1,000 if convicted. Elli, was accused of “[f]lashing lights on certain vehicles . . . warning of RADAR ahead,” according to court papers obtained by The Wall Street Journal.

  At a hearing on the lawsuit last year, Ellisville officials made the case that flashing headlights could interfere with a police investigation. But Autrey said in his ruling that the flashing of headlights “sends a message to bring one’s driving in conformity with the law — whether it be by slowing down, turning on one’s own headlamps at dusk or in the rain, or proceeding with caution.” “

 

 

 

 

 

 

Omaha Family Sues Police In ‘Caught-On-Tape’ Case

 

 

 

 

” Police Chief Todd Schmaderer and 32 of his officers—nearly four percent of the department—are listed in a federal lawsuit filed Monday accusing police of excessive force and illegal search and seizure.

  The lawsuit stems from a highly publicized caught-on-tape incident last March 21.

  The video—shot by a member of the public— shows a police officer (see video below) throwing a man to the ground and hitting him several times, while a dozen other officers storm a home across the street.

Sharon Johnson issued this statement:

Officers entered the home while I was watching from the front door. Juaquez enters and next thing I know an officer enters, throws my wheelchair and me out of the way. I end up with the wheelchair on top of me, my legs in the air. Several officers continued to walk over me as they entered the house. I eventually rolled my way into the living room and got myself upright. I saw Juaquez surrounded by officers and started asking what was going on. I ended up in handcuffs. It wasn’t until a family member came by later that I was able to get back into my wheelchair. I was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. I still have physical pain from that day.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Court Upholds Willy-Nilly Gadget Searches Along U.S. Border

 

 

 

 

” A federal judge today upheld a President Barack Obama administration policy allowing authorities along the U.S. border to seize and search laptops, smartphones and other electronic devices for any reason.

  The decision (.pdf) by U.S. District Judge Edward Korman in New York comes as laptops, and now smartphones, have become virtual extensions of ourselves, housing everything from email to instant-message chats to our papers and effects.

  The American Civil Liberties Union brought the challenge nearly three years ago, claiming U.S. border officials should have reasonable suspicion to search gadgets along the border because of the data they store. But Judge Korman said the so-called “border exemption,” in which people can be searched for no reason at all along the border, continues to apply in the digital age.

  Alarmingly, the government contends the Fourth-Amendment-Free Zone stretches 100 miles inland from the nation’s actual border.”

 

 

   This is insanity . This ruling doesn’t just impact travelers . Millions of people live within a hundred miles of the border and now we are supposed to believe that in the name of “national security” their constitutional right to be secure in their papers and effects is forfeit ? The judge should disbarred immediately as he quite obviously is in violation of his oath to “uphold the Constitution” .

 

” The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. “

 

” The decision supports a conclusion 10 months ago from the Department of Homeland Security’s civil rights watchdog that said that travelers along the nation’s borders may have their electronics seized and the contents of those devices examined for any reason whatsoever — all in the name of national security.”

 

 

 

The Founders are hanging their heads in shame .

 

 

    Benjamin Franklin was right :

 

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

 

 

 

Why Does The Environmental Protection Agency Need Its Own SWAT Team?

 

 
” Nestled in the tranquil Connecticut River watershed of southwest New Hampshire, the city of Keene has largely avoided the violent unrest common to many other urban areas. With a population of only 23,409 people, Keene’s violent crime index is about half the national average.

  Despite the calm, however, local authorities didn’t think twice about requesting a BearCat armored counterattack vehicle from the Department of Homeland Security.

“ Our application talked about the danger of domestic terrorism, but that’s just something you put in the grant application to get the money,” said a Keene City Council member. “What red-blooded American cop isn’t going to be excited about getting a toy like this?

 

 

And if they have it , what “red-blooded American cop” isn’t going to get excited about USING it ?

 

 

” While the possession of an armored vehicle by such a peaceful city may seem strange, the militarization of the Keene police force isn’t an isolated case. Over the past decade, thousands of local police departments nationwide have been amassing stockpiles of military-grade equipment in the name of homeland security. Local police now have the sort of equipment soldiers use to fight wars.”

 

 

   This hard hitting article should be read by all that have an abiding love of liberty and civil rights . This is the type of wisdom to be found as one reads deeper into the article …

 

 

” Why the Founders Didn’t Create a Federal Police Force

  America’s founders were deeply wary of standing armies in peacetime. They could have given the federal government a well-armed federal police agency to “contain and reverse violent threats to domestic tranquility”—but they deliberately didn’t. Instead, they limited the power of the government, the federal government in particular. They wanted to reduce threats to individual liberty.

  The founders realized the danger posed to the American people by police forces that think and act like they are at war. Above all else, the Constitution’s framers believed that government power should be decentralized so that no one person or branch of government could emerge as a force of tyranny. As James Madison said at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, “A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive, will not long be safe companions to liberty.” “

 

 

   Please . Read the whole piece and pass it on . This paragraph gives the reader a chilling example of the mindset existent in today’s police hierarchy and this from the “Live Free Or Die” state …

 

 

” In the summer of 2013, a police chief in Concord, New Hampshire, asked Homeland Security for more than $250,000 to purchase an armored vehicle that he could use to protect the city from the Occupy New Hampshire movement and the Free State Project, a civil libertarian group. “The State of New Hampshire’s experience with terrorism slants primarily toward the domestic type,” he said in his filing. “We are fortunate that our state has not been victimized from a mass casualty event from an international terrorism strike; however, on the domestic front, the threat is real and here. Groups such as the Sovereign Citizens, Free Staters and Occupy New Hampshire are active and present daily challenges.”

 

 

    We’ll leave you with this final example from the article to mull over and consider if the reader believes this country is being turned into a Statist haven or not .

 

 

” Racing Toward a National Catastrophe

  Discarding the laws of the land has become a theme of the current administration. If constitutional separations between federal and local law no longer apply, then the only law that does apply is the law of the jungle. If a federalized police force has more firepower than local police or private citizens, then might makes right.

  If federal agents want to swoop in and confiscate a company’s financial statements, then the executive branch of government “can do what they want, when they want, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” If a city mayor wants an MRAP to stop protests by civil libertarians, then you better hope he wakes up in a benevolent mood, because that’s the only remaining guarantee of public safety.

  Here is what Judge Andrew Napolitano wrote in the Washington Times: “Mr. Obama has argued that he can kill Americans whose deaths he believes will keep us all safer, without any due process whatsoever. No law authorizes that. His attorney general has argued that the president’s careful consideration of each target and the narrow use of deadly force are an adequate and constitutional substitute for due process. No court has ever approved that” (Feb. 7, 2013).”

 

 

    It’s all being done in the name of “public safety” but who is really being made safer ? The public ? Or the State ? For everyone’s sake READ THE ENTIRE PIECE .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Debtors’ Prisons Make A Comeback In America

 

 

” The Colorado chapter of the ACLU recently accused three Front Range cities of jailing people for failing to pay court-ordered fines that they could not afford. According to the organization, municipal courts in Westminster, Wheat Ridge and Northglenn, routinely issue“pay-or-serve” warrants without consideration for a debtor’s ability to pay.

“ These ‘pay-or-serve’ warrants return Colorado to the days of debtors’ prisons, which were abolished long ago,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU legal director. “Jailing poor people for fines they cannot pay violates the Constitution and punishes poor people just for being poor. It also wastes taxpayer resources, crowds the jails, and doesn’t get the fines paid.”

  In reporting on the Colorado towns, ACLU noted that the Jefferson County Jail imprisoned at least 154 people on pay-or-serve warrants between February and June 2013. The organization deducts that 973 days were served at a cost to taxpayers of more than $70 per day, for a total cost of more than $70,000.

“ These 973 fine days cancelled out $40,000 of fines, making the total loss to the taxpayer $110,000,” the ACLU reports.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A New Report Says They’re Fraught With Waste And Abuse And Have Whittled Away At Civil Liberties Protections.

 

 

 

 

 

 

” A domestic surveillance system established after the terrorist attacks of September 11 collects and shares intelligence on a mass scale about “the everyday activities of law-abiding Americans, even in the absence of reasonable suspicion,” according to a new report.

  The report, released this month by the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan policy institute at NYU School of Law, found that law enforcement data sharing programs organized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are fraught with waste and abuse and have whittled away at civil liberties protections while evading sufficient oversight.

  Fusion centers collect information on “such innocuous and non-criminal activities as photography, looking through binoculars, and taking notes.”

  Other activities collected by law enforcement officials and stored in fusion centers included:

  • Individuals who stay at bus or train stops for extended periods while buses and trains come and go;
  • Individuals who carry on long conversations on pay or cellular telephones; 
  • Individuals who order food at a restaurant and leave before the food arrives or who order without eating; and
  • Joggers who stand and stretch for an inordinate amount of time. “

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Defense Department Gives War Vehicles To Local Sheriffs

 

 

 

Coming soon to your local sheriff: 18-ton, armor-protected military fighting vehicles with gun turrets and bulletproof glass that were once the U.S. answer to roadside bombs during the Iraq war.
    
  The hulking vehicles, built for about $500,000 each at the height of the war, are among the biggest pieces of equipment that the Defense Department is giving to law enforcement agencies under a national military surplus program.”

 

NY Counties copy

 
    
”  For police and sheriff’s departments, which have scooped up 165 of the mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles, or MRAPS, since they became available this summer, the price and the ability to deliver shock and awe while serving warrants or dealing with hostage standoffs was just too good to pass up.

    
  “It’s armored. It’s heavy. It’s intimidating. And it’s free,” said Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple, among five county sheriff’s departments and three other police agencies in New York that have taken delivery of an MRAP.”

 

 

    
”  But the trucks have limits. They are too big to travel on some bridges and roads and have a tendency to be tippy on uneven ground. And then there’s some cost of retrofitting them for civilian use and fueling the 36,000-pound behemoths that get about 5 miles to the gallon.
    
  The American Civil Liberties Union is criticizing what it sees as the increasing militarization of the nation’s police. ACLU affiliates have been collecting 2012 records to determine the extent of military hardware and tactics acquired by police, planning to issue a report early next year.”

 

 

    The Federal government is broke , yet it has money to burn when it comes to “giving away” billions of dollars worth of military equipment to local police departments . Remember that nothing is free and all “gifts” , especially those from the State , come with a hefty price tag buried in the fine print .

 

 

” An Associated Press investigation of the Defense Department military surplus program this year found that a disproportionate share of the $4.2 billion worth of property distributed since 1990 – everything from blankets to bayonets and Humvees – has been obtained by police and sheriff’s departments in rural areas with few officers and little crime.”

 

 

 
    
” After the initial 165 of the MRAP trucks were distributed this year, military officials say police have requests in for 731 more, but none are available.

  Others in New York that got big armored trucks included sheriff’s departments in Jefferson County, Steuben County and Sullivan County, and police in Nassau County, Plattsburgh and Hamburg Village. Police departments statewide have also acquired almost 150 other trucks and Humvees, a dozen of them armored, over the past two years.”

 

 

    The militarization of our local police departments though the “benevolent” machinations of the Federal government is something that should be a unifying factor amidst all the partisan rancor that is the politics of America today . This is all battlespace preparation on the Fed’s part and should be recognized as such by all , whether Democrat or Republican

Below are a few basic facts regarding the latest New York counties that feel the need to possess mine-resistant , ambush-protected armored vehicles in order to protect their citizens from … ? Iraqi IED’s? , Taliban RPG’s ? The local meth dealer’s 9mm ? From  Wikipedia

 

 

 

 

 State map highlighting Albany CountyAlbany County 001 Albany 1683 One of 12 original counties created in the New York colonyJames II of England (James VII of Scotland) (1633–1701), who was Duke of York (English title) and Duke of Albany (Scottish title) before becoming King of EnglandIreland, and Scotland. Population 304,204 , 533 sq mi
State map highlighting Herkimer CountyJefferson County 045 Watertown 1805 Oneida County Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), the early American statesman, author of the Declaration of Independence, and third President of the United StatesPopulation 116,2291, 857 sq mi

State map highlighting Seneca CountySteuben County 101 Bath 1796 Ontario County Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben (1730–1794), the Prussian general who assisted the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary WarPopulation 98,9901, 404 sq mi

State map highlighting Suffolk CountySullivan County 105 Monticello 1809 Ulster County John Sullivan (1740–1795), an American Revolutionary War general. Population 77,547 , 997 sq mi
State map highlighting Ulster CountyWarren County 113 Queensbury 1813 Washington County Joseph Warren (1741–1775), the early American patriot and American Revolutionary War general. Population 65,707 , 870 sq mi

 

 

    As the reader can plainly see from the above map and county statistics none of the counties , with the possible exception of Albany , would reasonably be considered prime terrorist targets yet the local constabulary are arming hemselves for war .   For further background on the MRAP and it’s war making/surviving capabilities , the reader is encouraged to click here .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How License-Plate Scanners Are Eroding Our Privacy

 

 

 

 

” Here’s a thought experiment: imagine that activists, concerned with official misconduct, install license-plate readers on private property to track the location of every car belonging to the police department or a politician and upload the locations to a public database. The result: a map of where the police go, and where they don’t—along, perhaps, with politicians’ visits to motels or strip clubs. 

  Given that police often respond with hostility to simply being videotaped, I expect that a venture like this would prompt an outcry, and probably some efforts to shut it down. But this is precisely what officialdom is doing to citizens. 

  We now know that federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies are using automated license-plate scanners, mounted on everything from telephone poles to police cars, to build a huge database of where people are driving. This might seem like a small intrusion compared with the electronic spying carried out by the NSA. But not all threats to privacy involve the tracking of emails and other communications. 

  Right now, the law suggests that license-plate scanners don’t invade your privacy because they record only events that occur in public. After all, anyone could see you driving down the road or parked in front of a motel. But if officials add up enough bits of information like that, they gradually can construct what the ACLU has termed a “single, high-resolution image of our lives.” ”

 

Read this related article from the ACLU . As it notes plainly , it’s not the reading of the plate that is inherently troubling , it’s the storage of the data that is cause for concern . 

 

 

” It is important to note that the most effective uses of ALPR technology (and the ones most frequently touted by law enforcement proponents of the technology) – finding missing children, recovering stolen vehicles, locating fleeing assailants – require virtually no retention of the data. License plates are scanned, instantly run through an array of law enforcement databases, and the officer or monitor is notified of any matches. 

  The privacy issues arise with the retention of the information. A police officer will not forever remember the exact location and time of an innocent motorist’s travels. With ALPR technology, those details can be stored indefinitely, creating an ever-growing historical record of the daily comings and goings of every Marylander. As ALPRs become more ubiquitous and that record becomes longer and more detailed, it will become possible for the government to determine a person’s exact movements during any given time period. “

 

 

    We have the fight of our lives on our hands as the State is intent on taking over our lives in every way , shape and form . The time has come to get involved . Get off your couch , write , call , start a blog , photograph , videotape … do something or we shall soon see the truth in Edmund Burke’s famous admonition  “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”