Thursday, April 09, 2009

Obama Giving In?: The U.S. May Spy On You; You Can't Sue

Well I for one am disturbed. The Electronic Frontier Foundation's lawsuit against AT&T and the Bush administrations's illegal surveillance hit a humongous snag -- Obama's Department of Justice filed a brief saying they not only endorse the Bush administration's reasoning that the suit cannot be pursued because of national security, but that retroactively, from now on, NO ONE may sue the government or its contractors for warantless wiretapping unless that information is made public by said government.

But more importantly, it undermines Obama's entire campaign.
This is a complete about face, folks. He vowed to hold our government accountable for illegal activity, to preserve the Constitution which expressly forbids surveillance without warrants. To sneak around having to do this to prevent rocking the boat this early in his term is a horrible sign that perhaps, we were all duped. I really hope this isn't the case -- Obama is a nice friendly figurehead but, despite election promises, unwilling or unable to fix the corruption his predecessors engineered.

He better do something. That we are in a manufactured "War on Terror" (a term the Obama team no longer uses) is NO EXCUSE for tramping the civil rights of its citizens. Unless of course you want a fascist nation. (Some do -- better for business.)

Is Obama's DOJ full of lingering Bush administrative people seizing the opportunity? Is Obama oblivious? How could he support such a thing?

More editorial about this here.

If you're angry with all this, please sign the CREDO petition.

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posted by Brian at 1:14 PM 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, August 02, 2008

DHS says it can search Laptops At Border Without Suspicion. Why? "Cuz we gotta."

My Brazilian friend sent me this article from the Washington Post this morning. (She is now questioning ever visiting the United States.)
Federal agents may take a traveler's laptop computer or other electronic device to an off-site location for an unspecified period of time without any suspicion of wrongdoing, as part of border search policies the Department of Homeland Security recently disclosed.

Also, officials may share copies of the laptop's contents with other agencies and private entities for language translation, data decryption or other reasons, according to the policies, dated July 16 and issued by two DHS agencies, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"The policies . . . are truly alarming," said Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), who is probing the government's border search practices. He said he intends to introduce legislation soon that would require reasonable suspicion for border searches, as well as prohibit profiling on race, religion or national origin.

DHS officials said the newly disclosed policies -- which apply to anyone entering the country, including U.S. citizens -- are reasonable and necessary to prevent terrorism. Officials said such procedures have long been in place but were disclosed last month because of public interest in the matter.

Read more here

Remember, this is the USA. We have a Constitution and a Bill of Rights that say we can NOT under any circumstances be searched without reasonable suspicion. We and travelers coming into this country put up with mildly invasive searching at the borders, but still, the governing principle is that we have privacy, and that we are innocent until we break the Law, taken to Court, and proved guilty through a process.

But now, the impatient DHS has gone mad, claiming "There are lots of bad things out there on computers! We gotta catch 'em!" Thanks to recent rule changes at the Department of Homeland Security, everyone's laptops are fair game. Note, they did not announce these changes -- only after "the public expressed interest" did they reveal them. WTF? We are not ruled by the Stasi in Communist Germany. Did you see The Lives of Others? Did you see that, without checks and balances, these unregulated searches become an excuse to stifle enemies of all sorts, be they political, romantic rivals, industry competition, or "I just don't like these people"? Don't you realize that there's no way to examine effectively 400 million laptops and that these untrained guards will falsely identify more problems that can possibly be countersued? Don't you see that the DHS's claim that "This won't hurt Americans" is bullshit -- other countries will develop blanket sweeps against us too when we travel abroad in retaliation? Aren't we tired of the "We gotta do this unconstitutional, China-like, Orwellian Law to protect us against terrorism" excuse this administration (both Democrat and Republican) spews out whenever there's the slightest dissent?

Is this really the America you want? The World you want? Do you truly want your computer or PDA or iPOD exposed when you travel? All those songs you don't have receipts or CDs for that now the RIAA will gladly sue you for $10s of thousands of dollars once they cut a deal with the DHS? All those non-compliant Windows XP installations that Microsoft would LOVE to know about and sue you for. Health care agencies eager to look for signs on your computer that you're not healthy enough for coverage or deserving of claims. Remember, this may start as a fight against terror but YOU have enemies too, and they will reap the benefits of these unregulated policies, I guarantee you.

Wake up America, this Bush Administration is slowly turning us into a totalitarian, corporate fascist state for the rich, only with better P.R. and marketing.

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posted by Brian at 10:56 AM 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Fascism's Ugly Head: Your Laptop Can Now Be Screened at Border Crossings

At what point do we stop calling America the "Land of the Free," or a "democracy" and call it what it's becoming, a fascist, totalitarian police state? It really doesn't matter what the reasoning behind policy changes such as this example, where cops can arbitrarily decide to peruse your laptop when you cross the U.S. border without probable cause. This is hardly the first example to take place in Bush's post-2001 America. The excuse to eliminate our Constitutional rights is the same as China's. "We must protect the country."

The one thing we have going for us is that, in theory, we can replace our leaders with those who'll revert us back to being a true democracy, with a Constitution, with civil rights. You know, those sorts of things we've been fighting to protect in the first place.

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posted by Brian at 1:26 PM 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Go see "The Lives Of Others"

My friend Danny over at SPI invited me to a free Sony screening of the Oscar™- nominated German film, "The Lives of Others," about characters caught up in the surveillance society of East Berlin just before the fall of the Great Wall. The entire city is monitored by an elite group of secret police, called Stasi, who gather statistics and spy on the personal lives of citizens, looking for those spreading ideas contrary to the government, and rewarding those who turn suspects in. All mail is opened and read. Artists can be blacklisted. All public speech requires permission. It is a city that has chosen security above all other freedoms and rights.

Amidst all this, a top interrogator (renowned for his grueling 48 hour interrogation sessions) is assigned to wire-tap a playwright's house day and night. He becomes entangled in the day-to-day events of this artist, and despite his mission to find and report all suspicious activity, discovers his own motives changing.

How topical a film this is -- an example of what could happen to America if our current Administation's efforts to increase policing and surveillance power (in the name of National Security) are left unchecked. Just as now, the Socialist GDC's battle-cry was not "Hey, we're Authoritarian Fascists!" It was "We will Protect You," and just as now, the personal and business interests of government officials took priority over Law, stengthened by this Knowledge Over Everything.

If you are able, go see this film in the theatre.

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posted by Brian at 10:09 AM 0 comments links to this post