Daily Archive: 05/16/2014

May 16 2014

The DOJ Hates the Fourth Amendment

This administration, especially the Department of Justice really hates your Fourth Amendment rights and is doing everything in its power to narrow your right to privacy as much as it can.

DOJ Says Americans Have No 4th Amendment Protections At All When They Communicate With Foreigners

by Make Masnick, Techdirt

We’ve already questioned if it’s really true that the 4th Amendment doesn’t apply to foreigners (the Amendment refers to “people” not “citizens”). But in some new filings by the DOJ, the US government appears to take its “no 4th Amendment protections for foreigners” to absurd new levels. It says, quite clearly, that because foreigners have no 4th Amendment protections it means that any Americans lose their 4th Amendment protections when communicating with foreigners. They’re using a very twisted understanding of the (already troubling) third party doctrine to do this. As you may recall, after lying to the Supreme Court, the Justice Department said that it would start informing defendants if warrantless collection of information under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) was used in the investigation against them.

Last October, it finally started alerting some defendants, leading courts to halt proceedings and re-evaluate. As two of those cases have moved forward, the DOJ is trying to defend those cases, and one way it’s doing so is to flat out say that Americans have no 4th Amendment protections when talking to foreigners.

   The Supreme Court has long held that when one person voluntarily discloses information to another, the first person loses any cognizable interest under the Fourth Amendment in what the second person does with the information. . . . For Fourth Amendment purposes, the same principle applies whether the recipient intentionally makes the information public or stores it in a place subject to a government search. Thus, once a non-U.S. person located outside the United States receives information, the sender loses any cognizable Fourth Amendment rights with respect to that information. That is true even if the sender is a U.S. person protected by the Fourth Amendment, because he assumes the risk that the foreign recipient will give the information to others, leave the information freely accessible to others, or that the U.S. government (or a foreign government) will obtain the information.

This argument is questionable on so many levels. First, it’s already relying on the questionable third party doctrine, but it seems to go much further, by then arguing that merely providing information to a foreign person means that it’s okay for the US government to snoop on it without a warrant.

The official US position on the NSA is still unlimited eavesdropping power

by Jameel Jaffer, the ACLU at The Guardian

One year after Snowden, the government is defending – in not-so-plain sight – the ‘paramount’ power to spy on every call and email between you and your friends abroad

The government’s argument is not simply that the NSA has broad authority to monitor Americans’ international communications. The US government is arguing that the NSA’s authority is unlimited in this respect. If the government is right, nothing in the Constitution bars the NSA from monitoring a phone call between a journalist in New York City and his source in London. For that matter, nothing bars the NSA from monitoring every call and email between Americans in the United States and their non-American friends, relatives, and colleagues overseas.

In the government’s view, there is no need to ask whether the 2008 law violates Americans’ privacy rights, because in this context Americans have no rights to be violated.

Marcy Wheeler at emptywheel points out that former Sen Russ Feingold warned us back in 2008 about the abuses that could occur under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA).

May 16 2014

The War On Words

Journalist Chris Hedges spoke with RT news host Sophia about the information difference in the news that is reported. Citing the uprising in the Ukraine as an example, he talks about how the US government uses fake facts and dubious evidence to push its propaganda on the public using an ever compliant American media.

The crisis in Ukraine and the steadily dropping temperature in relations between Moscow and Washington made many talk about a new Cold War; and many others are worried it may turn ‘hot’. But there’s another war going on right now: the information war. US Secretary of State Kerry has already attacked RT, calling it “Putin’s propaganda machine.” But Washington itself uses dubious evidence and fake facts. What is the information war? What methods is America using?

There are two sides to every story, then there is the truth.

May 16 2014

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Medea Benjamin: Drone Lawyer: Kill a 16 Year-Old, Get a Promotion

If you think that as a United States citizen you’re entitled to a trial by jury before the government can decide to kill you — you’re wrong. During his stint as a lawyer at the Department of Justice, David Barron was able to manipulate constitutional law so as to legally justify killing American citizens with drone strikes. If you’re wondering what the justification for that is, that’s just too bad — the legal memos are classified. Sounds a little suspicious, doesn’t it? What’s even more suspicious is that now the Obama Administration wants to appoint the lawyer who wrote those legal memos to become a high-ranking judge for life.

Disturbingly, this is not the first time that the president has rewarded a high-level lawyer for paving the legal way for drone strike assassinations. Jeh Johnson, former lawyer at the Department of Defense, penned the memos that give the “okay” to target non-U.S. citizen foreign combatants with drones. His reward? He’s now the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. These Obama nominations are eerily reminiscent of the Bush-era appointment of torture memo author Jay Bybee to a lifetime position of a federal judge.

Paul Krugman: Points of No Return

Recently two research teams, working independently and using different methods, reached an alarming conclusion: The West Antarctic ice sheet is doomed. The sheet’s slide into the ocean, and the resulting sharp rise in sea levels, will probably happen slowly. But it’s irreversible. Even if we took drastic action to limit global warming right now, this particular process of environmental change has reached a point of no return.

Meanwhile, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida – much of whose state is now fated to sink beneath the waves – weighed in on climate change. Some readers may recall that in 2012 Mr. Rubio, asked how old he believed the earth to be, replied “I’m not a scientist, man.” This time, however, he confidently declared the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change false, although in a later interview he was unable to cite any sources for his skepticism.

So why would the senator make such a statement? The answer is that like that ice sheet, his party’s intellectual evolution (or maybe more accurately, its devolution) has reached a point of no return, in which allegiance to false doctrines has become a crucial badge of identity.

Bill Piper: DEA Chief Michele Leonhart Should Resign

For months Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Michele Leonhart has openly rebuked the drug policy reform policies of Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama with one embarrassing statement after another. Now she is picking a fight with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Y) and other members of Congress over hemp. Meanwhile the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General has launched an investigation into multiple scandals plaguing the agency. It is clear that Leonhart lacks the ability to lead and should resign. Activists are using the Twitter hashtag #FireLeonhart.

The DEA created a political firestorm this week when it seized seeds bound for a Kentucky hemp research program that was approved by Congress. Even Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has weighed in, telling Politico last night, “It is an outrage that DEA is using finite taxpayer dollars to impound legal industrial hemp seeds.” The Kentucky Agriculture Department is suing the agency. The seizure is the latest misstep by the agency, which is being investigated by the Department of Justice for numerous scandals.

Micheal Winship: The Fight Goes On: FCC Votes to Consider Rules That Could End Net Neutrality

The vote was taken at the Federal Communications Commission Thursday morning, as drums pounded and hundreds of demonstrators supporting Net neutrality chanted outside FCC headquarters.

In a packed meeting room — from which a handful of vocal protesters was ejected — the majority of commissioners approved a so-called Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the latest step in a process that will determine the fate of a free and open Internet. Along with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, Democratic commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel voted in favor, despite reservations. “I would have done this differently,” Rosenworcel told the meeting. “We move too fast to be fair.”

So the tally was 3-2 along party lines, Democrats vs. Republicans, setting the stage for what will be, as Michael Weinberg, vice president of the media law public interest group Public Knowledge calls it, “the summer of Net neutrality.”

Enacting the notice now triggers an extended four-month public comment period so that the FCC can continue to hear, it said, “from Americans across the country.”

Ben Hallman: Congress Takes From The Poor, Gives To The Corporate Rich

The most dysfunctional Congress in U.S. history has finally found something that can attract bipartisan support: an expensive package of tax breaks that mostly benefit corporate interests.

By a vote of 96-3, the Senate this week advanced an $85 billion bundle of breaks known as “extenders,” so named because they supposedly expire every two years. In reality, these breaks have become an all-but-permanent part of the tax code, costing the Treasury billions of dollars a year in lost revenue. Though the House has introduced rival legislation, some version of the Senate bill is likely to win final passage.

The tax breaks advanced without any corresponding spending cuts elsewhere in the budget, despite previous demands by Republicans that any new legislation must not increase the federal deficit. They passed even as Republicans, often preaching fiscal responsibility, have forced cuts to food stamps and refused to extend long-term unemployment benefits, measures that would cost much less than the buffet table of giveaways contemplated under the bill.

Tom Engelhardt: The Pentagon Brings the Yemeni Model to Africa

Amid the horrific headlines about the fanatical Islamist sect Boko Haram that should make Nigerians cringe, here’s a line from a recent Guardian article that should make Americans do the same, as the U.S. military continues its “pivot” to Africa: “[U.S.] defense officials are looking to Washington’s alliance with Yemen, with its close intelligence cooperation and CIA drone strikes, as an example for dealing with Boko Haram.” [..]

One of the poorer, less resource rich countries on the planet, Yemen is at least a global backwater. Nigeria is another matter. With the largest economy in Africa, much oil, and much wealth sloshing around, it has a corrupt leadership, a brutal (pdf) and incompetent military, and an Islamist insurgency in its poverty-stricken north that, for simple bestiality, makes AQAP look like a paragon of virtue. The U.S. has aided and trained Nigerian “counterterrorism” forces for years with little to show. Add in the Yemeni model with drones overhead and who knows how the situation may spin further out of control.

May 16 2014

The Breakfast Club: 5-16-2014

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

May 16 2014

On This Day In History May 16

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on image to enlarge

May 16 is the 136th day of the year (137th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 229 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1868, the U.S. Senate votes against impeaching President Andrew Johnson and acquits him of committing “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

In February 1868, the House of Representatives charged Johnson with 11 articles of impeachment for vague “high crimes and misdemeanors.” (For comparison, in 1998, President Bill Clinton was charged with two articles of impeachment for obstruction of justice during an investigation into his inappropriate sexual behavior in the White House Oval Office. In 1974, Nixon faced three charges for his involvement in the Watergate scandal.) The main issue in Johnson’s trial was his staunch resistance to implementing Congress’ Civil War Reconstruction policies. The War Department was the federal agency responsible for carrying out Reconstruction programs in the war-ravaged southern states and when Johnson fired the agency’s head, Edwin Stanton, Congress retaliated with calls for his impeachment.

Of the 11 counts, several went to the core of the conflict between Johnson and Congress. The House charged Johnson with illegally removing the secretary of war from office and for violating several Reconstruction Acts. The House also accused the president of hurling slanderous “inflammatory and scandalous harangues” against Congressional members. On February 24, the House passed all 11 articles of impeachment and the process moved into a Senate trial.

May 16 2014

TDS/TCR (The Moustache of Understanding)

TDS TCR

News?

Fuck It, We’re All Screwed