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Warrantless Wiretapping Decisions Issued By Ninth Circuit Court 156

Posted by Soulskill
from the win-some-lose-some dept.
sunbird writes "The Ninth Circuit yesterday issued two decisions in the Electronic Frontier Foundation's lawsuits against the National Security Agency (Jewel v. NSA) and the telecommunications companies (Hepting v. AT&T). EFF had argued in Hepting that the retroactive immunity passed by Congress was unconstitutional. The Ninth Circuit decision (PDF) upholds the immunity and the district court's dismissal of the case. Short of an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, this effectively ends the suit against the telecoms. In much better news, the same panel issued a decision (PDF) reversing the dismissal of the lawsuit against the N.S.A. and remanded the case back to the lower court for more proceedings. These cases have been previously discussed here."
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Warrantless Wiretapping Decisions Issued By Ninth Circuit Court

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  • Rights..... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by P-niiice (1703362) on Friday December 30, 2011 @12:05PM (#38538938)
    Hey, why not? We already have unlimited detention without charges/evidence/probable cause. Might as well go for it all.
    • by SETIGuy (33768) *
      American style "democracy" no longer works. It will get replaced with something else. Probably something worse.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        It's always worked for those in charge first and the people second. It does stuff for you and I (you know, roads, aqueducts...) but that's not who it was designed to serve. The constitution is a blank check.

  • NSA case (Score:4, Insightful)

    by oldhack (1037484) on Friday December 30, 2011 @12:06PM (#38538940)
    The NSA case will disappear in the name of national security or some such.
  • Impeach (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fnj (64210) on Friday December 30, 2011 @12:08PM (#38538962)

    The court is corrupt on the face of this decision. Impeach the judges responsible.

    • by nman64 (912054) *

      Unfortunately, it seems the court's decision with regard to the retroactive immunity is correct. The legal basis to challenge the new law simply does not exist. The blame should rest on Congress for passing such a law.

      "It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctively native American criminal class except Congress." - Mark Twain

      • Re:Impeach (Score:5, Informative)

        by similar_name (1164087) on Friday December 30, 2011 @02:34PM (#38540752)
        There is Article 1, section 9 of the Constitution

        No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed

        Of course courts have interpreted it to not apply to all laws. I guess the wording was too vague.

        • Apparently, to the modern Supreme Court, the words "no" and "shall" are ambiguous.

          "⦠it is objected, that the judicial authority is to be regarded as the sole expositor of the Constitution in the last resort; and it may be asked for what reason the declaration by the General Assembly [of Virginia], supposing it to be theoretically true, could be required at the present day, and in so solemn a manner.

          On this objection it might he observed, first, that there may be instances of usurped power, which the forms of the Constitution would never draw within the control of the judicial department; secondly, that, if the decision of the judiciary be raised above the authority of the sovereign parties to the Constitution, the decisions of the other departments, not carried by the forms of the Constitution before the judiciary, must be equally authoritative and final with the decisions of that department. But the proper answer to the objection is, that the resolution of the General Assembly [the Virginia Resolutions of 1798] relates to those great and extraordinary cases, in which all the forms of the Constitution may prove ineffectual against infractions dangerous to the essential rights of the parties to it. The resolution supposes that dangerous powers, not delegated, may not only be usurped and executed by the other departments, but that the judicial department, also, may exercise or sanction dangerous powers beyond the grant of the Constitution; and, consequently, that the ultimate right of the parties to the Constitution, to judge whether the compact has been dangerously violated, must extend to violations by one delegated authority as well as by another - -by the judiciary as well as by the executive, or the legislature.

          However true, therefore, it may be, that the judicial department is, in all questions submitted to it by the forms of the Constitution, to decide in the last resort, this resort must necessarily be deemed the last in relation to the authorities of the other departments of the government; not in relation to the rights of the parties to the constitutional compact, from which the judicial, as well as the other departments, hold their delegated trusts. On any other hypothesis, the delegation of judicial power would annul the authority delegating it; and the concurrence of this department with the others in usurped powers, might subvert forever, and beyond the possible reach of any rightful remedy, the very Constitution which all were instituted to preserve."

          -- James Madison, Report of 1800

        • by goodmanj (234846)

          That's what I thought. Then I read the decision: the plaintiffs have about seventy billion objections to the FISA amendment, but they never once mention this clause.

          Most of the plaintiffs' stated objections are weak -- because centuries of national security case law and legislation have led to a situation where trampling on rights in the name of national security is perfectly legal -- and they didn't bother to play their only strong card, the "ex post facto" clause.

          I'm no lawyer, so I don't know if the jud

      • Retroactive laws are unconstitutional. Period. No exceptions, no wavering, not "if". That is one of the plainest statements in the whole of the Constitution.

        Article I, section 9: "No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed."

        What part of "no" do you not understand?
        • The supreme court, as thus far constituted in many different ways, doesn't understand ANY part of "no" or "shall not." Nor has the executive to date, nor congress.

          Examples abound.

          The problem is, the constitution has no teeth: there are no penalties for any one, or any combination, of the executive, judiciary, or congress violating the constitution's explicit directives (and their oaths as well.) None whatsoever. Furthermore, even should something (magically!? accidentally!?) be declared correctly unconstitu

          • The problem is, the constitution has no teeth: there are no penalties for any one, or any combination, of the executive, judiciary, or congress violating the constitution's explicit directives (and their oaths as well.) None whatsoever.

            Actually, there is one penalty, and it applies to all three branches: impeachment and removal from office.

            The problem with this procedure is that we effectively have multiple branches working together toward the same goal (in this case, an ex post facto law). In this arrangem

          • by 517714 (762276)

            The second amendment provides the people with recourse.

            "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure." Thomas Jefferson

          • There is one "penalty" other than impeachment -- or rather, remedy. State nullification.

            Now, before anybody starts going all mainstream-media on me and telling me what a ridiculous and dangerous idea State nullification is, let me tell you that I have done my homework and am very familiar with the history of the concept.

            You should know that state nullification is not a "racist" idea. One Southern governor -- once -- threatened to use it against the Civil Rights act, but never carried through on his th
        • by Thing 1 (178996)
          The Clinton administration passed a retroactive tax increase, as I recall. Sure, it was unconstitutional; but as the other response mentioned, there is no penalty for acting unconstitutionally. There needs to be.
    • by pla (258480)
      The court is corrupt on the face of this decision. Impeach the judges responsible.

      And this from the ninth circuit, the one that usually actually stands up for the people over government or big business, the one that the even more corrupt USSC most often overturns.

      What can I say? Hey Feds, just fuck all y'all. I won't even give you the time to stop and piss on your graves after the revolution you seem so intent on forcing us into.
      • "Hey Feds, just fuck all y'all. I won't even give you the time to stop and piss on your graves after the revolution you seem so intent on forcing us into."

        There was a time when I would have called this treasonous. But today, I understand its essential basis in truth. May it never come to that day, but if it does, I now recognize much better who the real Patriots are.

        • There was a time when I would have called this treasonous.

          Kids are taught in school that the government is the country. That's not true, and whether the government represents the country has to do with whether it's following the Constitution or not, since that's it job description and contract.

          Of course the oath of office seems to mean nothing to any of these scoundrels.

    • by sl4shd0rk (755837)

      "corrupt" means different things depending which side of the law you work for. The US is in the midst of a legal system which makes and enforces it's own interpretation of right and wrong.

  • Nuremburg Defense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 30, 2011 @12:09PM (#38538976)

    Great. The Ninth Circuit just made it OK to use "I was just following orders" as a defense, if you're a telecom.

    • Re:Nuremburg Defense (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tnk1 (899206) on Friday December 30, 2011 @12:20PM (#38539088)

      I think the point is that Congress can't retroactively make a law that holds someone criminally liable for something that they did in the past before the law was passed, but they *can* and always have been able to make a law that retroactively removes something that was a crime in the past. The idea is to protect people from being held accountable for something that was perfectly legal in the past, but there is no reason to have a protection to keep people as criminals even after the law that criminalized them was overturned.

      In this case, the problem is that it does allow illegal activity to be condoned officially later on, as long as they don't get caught until the law is passed. That said, I think it is a political question, not a judicial question. It may well be that a law accidentally criminalizes a well-meaning person who is actually guilty by the letter of the law, but not by the intent of its framers. For that reason, I'd probably have to agree with the court and state that nothing prevents Congress, as the legislative branch, from absolving or nullifying previous criminal behavior by legislation.

      • by Kjella (173770) on Friday December 30, 2011 @12:29PM (#38539182) Homepage

        For that reason, I'd probably have to agree with the court and state that nothing prevents Congress, as the legislative branch, from absolving or nullifying previous criminal behavior by legislation.

        So far that's fine but Congress should not be able to absolve breaking the constitution without amending the constitution. So if your fourth amendment rights were violated, Congress shouldn't have the power to pass a regular law granting immunity to those who broke it. In that case you might as well use the constitution as toilet paper.

        • Re:Nuremburg Defense (Score:5, Informative)

          by Shakrai (717556) * on Friday December 30, 2011 @12:42PM (#38539320) Journal

          So if your fourth amendment rights were violated

          Where's your cause of action though? Presuming your rights were violated by the Government collecting the meta-data of your phone calls; did the Government use this data in any criminal prosecutions? If it did then you'd be able to raise the 4th amendment as a defense; it might not be successful but you could raise it. I'm not so sure you can just sue the Government and/or telecoms after the fact when the data was never used against you though.

          Understand that I'm not saying I agree with any of this. For better or worse this is the way it is though.

          Once again, thank you President (then Senator) "I will filibuster any bill containing telecom immunity" Obama. Meet the new boss; same as the old!

          • by Khyber (864651)

            "did the Government use this data in any criminal prosecutions? If it did then you'd be able to raise the 4th amendment as a defense"

            No, we use the 4th amendment as an OFFENSE, not a defense.

            Those rights exist to give us protection from the government, defensively or offensively.

            The proper thing here is a major class-action suit by the PEOPLE, not by some lawyers.

            Real people need to stand up, riot, and make it known that this will no longer be tolerated.

            And sadly, there's no peaceful way around this. Civil

          • It shouldn't matter if the Government used the data collected against a person in a criminal case or not - either way, they violated someones rights.
          • Re:Nuremburg Defense (Score:5, Interesting)

            by snowgirl (978879) on Friday December 30, 2011 @01:06PM (#38539648) Journal

            You raise a good point here. Traditionally, it's been well-upheld that a search isn't illegal if the person had immunity from anything that the government found. Namely, the remedy for an illegal-search is that the evidence and any further evidence collected solely as a result of that evidence is thrown out and cannot be used against you.

            No one was ever charged with a crime as a result of these wiretaps, so there's no remedy to grant.

            Like it or not, as one person said, Congress should not be able to absolve a constitutional violation, but they didn't. They absolved a STATUTORY violation, that of wiretapping. Wiretapping is not immediately a constitutional issue.

            • by H3lldr0p (40304)

              No one was ever charged with a crime as a result of these wiretaps, so there's no remedy to grant.

              Are we certain about that? I thought that part of the problem was the circular logic used in this case. ie, The government will not let you know if you were spied upon because they might be building a terrorism case against you. As far as I can recall, that was the whole of the initial justification and why congress had to act to pass the law.

              So how do we know?

              The obvious and easy remedy would be to declare the law null and let the public see for themselves what was done on their behalf. That is the only wa

          • Legal interpretations are a grey area; that's why lawyers get paid big bucks to argue the finer points of such interpretations. Having said that, I'm not sure how one would get the idea that the 4th Amendment only applies if government attempts to use the data it gathered against you. From the original text:

            It goes on to say that the government cannot issue a warrant based upon illegally obtained

            • but it would seem to me that you would be stretching the 4th Amendment to an absurd degree to claim that the government has the right to conduct a search whenever, wherever and however they want so long as they don't actually attempt to prosecute you based on the information they obtain.

              Just said that's the way it is, for better or worse.

              Food for thought: The 5th Amendment says you can't be compelled to be a witness against yourself but the Government can still compel you to testify in a criminal proceeding by offering you immunity against any crimes laid bare as a result of your testimony.

              • Gotcha. By the way, interesting comment re: the 5th Amendment. I hadn't heard or thought of that, although it's a pretty...interesting*...loophole for compelling a testimony from someone who doesn't particularly want to cooperate.

                *sed "s/interesting/(sneaky|devious|clever)/"
              • Food for thought: The 5th Amendment says you can't be compelled to be a witness against yourself but the Government can still compel you to testify in a criminal proceeding by offering you immunity against any crimes laid bare as a result of your testimony.

                That is not compelling your testimony...that is coercing your testimony. You can say no. They are simply making you an offer too good to refuse.

                • by Shakrai (717556) *

                  You can say no

                  And you'll go to jail for contempt of court until you change your mind.

          • "Fishing expeditions" are supposed to be illegal. You don't need to be a defendant to be a victim of a crime. When the government refuses to prosecute, citizen advocates should be recognized in that role, and the court should issue arrest warrants making federal officials subject to citizen's arrest.
          • by Dripdry (1062282)
            How about when they determine that you might be connected to suspected terrorist activity, and they make you "disappear"? Or kill you without a trial? That little court system you got there is meaningless when the government decides to simply ignore it.
        • by soren42 (700305) *
          You're absolutely right. I *hate* to use a cliché, but this is just another example that "the terrorists... er, lobbyists have won."

          There's no reason we need to throw away the Constitution or the Bill of Rights just to get the "bad guys". It's not like every police agency from the small town sheriff to the FBI isn't familiar with the process of obtaining warrants to tap phone lines. This just means they've no need for probable cause.

          The flip side of this is that nearly every wireless hub sold fro
        • by Fnord666 (889225)

          In that case you might as well use the constitution as toilet paper.

          I think we are way passed that point by now.

          • Indeed. The current rule of law appears to exist only in the minds of the judges / president / congressmen currently in office.

            They do whatever they want, and as a citizen, you come in second place. It's not your position to know the law, only to obey those who will gleefully interpret it for you, to their advantage.

            • Indeed. The current rule of law appears to exist only in the minds of the judges / president / congressmen currently in office.

              Yeah, that's "The Rule of Man". It's precisely why the US 'Revolutionary' War was fought - to set up a Natural Rights Republic operating under the Rule of Law.

              It lasted in its entirety a year or two (or for the majority of issues about 70 years).

              The founders never expected anything different - they expected a revolution of some sort every few generations.

        • Dude, it's time to admit it: the Constitution is no longer the supreme law of the land. With all the shit flowing through Congress recently, can you doubt it?

      • Re:Nuremburg Defense (Score:5, Interesting)

        by shaitand (626655) on Friday December 30, 2011 @12:33PM (#38539230) Journal

        The problem is that the warrant-less wiretapping violates the constitution and congress lacks the authority to pass a law that allows it therefore congress cant just allow someone to do it and then pass a law granting them immunity after the fact either.

        Quite frankly they lack the authority and any judge worth their salt would toss the typical "we did it in the public interest" argument out. Clearly it is NOT in the public interest to subvert the public's right as guaranteed by the constitution.

        • First, let me say that personally, I agree with you. Philosophically, you are exactly right, and I wish our elected leaders, as well as those who elected them, would get a clue.

          However, allow me to play devil's advocate for a moment. Unfortunately, for many people, it is not at all clear that it is not in the public interest to subvert the public's right as guaranteed by the Constitution. There are, in fact, a number of otherwise sane, rational people who are clamoring for the government to go ahead a
          • by SirGeek (120712)
            We don't ship people to concentration camps ? Forget Quantanamo. Ask older Japanese Americans about the "camps" they were forced into during WW II.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Transkaren (1925482)
      Let's be honest here: "I was just following orders" *should* be a valid defense, when you're referring to civilians. Is it *right*? No. But my understanding is that the Telecoms were given apparently-legal instructions by a legitimate authority, obeyed them, and then someone pointed out "Wait, that's not exactly kosher, people..." Did they (the telecoms) screw up? Absolutely. But there was an assumption that the telecoms made that the people in legal authority would not overstep their bounds. It's the same
      • by shaitand (626655) on Friday December 30, 2011 @12:38PM (#38539272) Journal

        "that doesn't seem ridiculously out-of-bounds for their authority"

        And theres the rub. Warrantless wiretapping is clearly out-of-bounds for any level of government. Even if congress passed a law allowing this, the president signed it, his executive branch enforced it, and the supreme court affirmed it (and PUBLIC legal defense against the government attempts is the first place the telcos should have gone with this).

        Every citizen has an obligation to defend our constitution from government tyranny when they see it. By shedding blood or having their blood shed if necessary.

        • We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,[74] that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying i
          • by jamstar7 (694492)
            So sorry, that was the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution. Like any government document, the Constitution has no provisions for being set aside by the public in the public good. The American Civil War proved that, when the Southern states seceeded, the Northern states forced them back into the fold.
            • So sorry, that was the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution. Like any government document, the Constitution has no provisions for being set aside by the public in the public good. The American Civil War proved that, when the Southern states seceeded, the Northern states forced them back into the fold.

              This public good you speak of... Was it perhaps slavery? [filibustercartoons.com]

              • by shaitand (626655)

                It really doesn't matter. The real issue is that some of the states wanted out. Their reasons are beside the point they should have been free to peacefully go their own way. Before the civil war things were different. States were states like France is a state and the US was more like the EU.

            • by shaitand (626655)

              The constitution doesn't have any direct provisions. It does have a couple for that purpose though.

              The right to trial by a jury of peers was another way that the people were supposed to have the ability to prevent the government from enforcing unjust laws.

              The second amendment was to ensure that military power (by way of military grade weaponry) was distributed and in the hands of the people so that at the end of the day the government had to fear their collective anger. This was to be the recourse of the pe

              • by jamstar7 (694492)

                The second amendment was to ensure that military power (by way of military grade weaponry) was distributed and in the hands of the people so that at the end of the day the government had to fear their collective anger. This was to be the recourse of the people if the government started subverting that first one.

                Great idea there. Now, you know what it means, and I know what it means, and anybody who's paid attention in Civics class knows what it means, but try scamming up some military-grade weapons for civ

      • by hedwards (940851) on Friday December 30, 2011 @12:38PM (#38539280)

        Due diligence. Everybody who has grown up in the US has at some point come into contact with the notion that law enforcement need warrants. I'm not sure how they could possibly believe that there weren't any laws being broken when they weren't being provided with any documentation.

        These are organizations that have attorneys and if they weren't aware of the illegality of it it was purely because they were specifically looking the other way.

      • by element-o.p. (939033) on Friday December 30, 2011 @02:02PM (#38540322) Homepage
        No.

        I agree that we should come down like a ton of bricks on those who overstep those bounds, but each and every one of us has a moral and ethical obligation to weigh every request, order or demand from authority before complying. Doing the right thing is not always easy, but that's life. If people, as a whole, would grow a collective backbone, those in authority would be far less inclined to overstep their bounds because they would have the proverbial snowball's chance of succeeding with whatever it is they are trying to do that is unethical or dishonest. As long as we keep complying with authority because "I was just following orders" we are willing accomplices in their evil. That's not the way I want to live my life.
        • by Thing 1 (178996)

          I agree that we should come down like a ton of bricks on those who overstep those bounds, but each and every one of us has a moral and ethical obligation to weigh every request, order or demand from authority before complying.

          Exactly right! I for one vote that Qwest be restored the government contracts that were stripped from it[1] when it grew a spine. ([1] -- Should I say "he", now, after Citizens United, another government oxymoron? Or perhaps "she", since Qwest was acting in the power of good?)

          As long as we keep complying with authority because "I was just following orders" we are willing accomplices in their evil.

          Yeah, except ignoring the order "leave this crime scene", while not a constitutional order, will result in your jailing or beating or dying, so I obey those types of unconstitutional orders... (I tend not to ask "please be specific

    • by Sloppy (14984) on Friday December 30, 2011 @12:28PM (#38539172) Homepage Journal

      The 9th circuit isn't doing that; Congress did it in 2008. That was the very intent of the FISA amendment, and there really wasn't any ambiguity about it. Many people simply hated it at the time. (Though most didn't hate it enough to vote against the people who did it -- both McCain and Obama who supported it as senators, combined got an overwhelming majority of the votes for president. Doing what they did, didn't destroy their campaigns.) Don't blame the court for that. The AT&T suit really ought to be dead; the time to fight for justice was 3.5 years ago and we collectively decided it wasn't important.

      We need to accept and take responsibility for that decision. It is hypocritical to vote against justice and still demand it.

      • by fyngyrz (762201)

        There is no "FISA amendment", constitutionally speaking. Don't give it credence it has no right to.

        FISA is unauthorized, illegal legislation which exhorts government employees to break their oaths. No more than that.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Great. The Ninth Circuit just made it OK to use "I was just following orders" as a defense, if you're a telecom.

      No, what the Ninth Circuit said was, "if the US Government asks for your assistance in a national security matter and you act in good faith to comply with the existing legal requirements, you can't be prosecuted even if the Government is later found to have acted illegally." Which is as it should be. We want the private sector to cooperate with the government on national security matters. It's a bad thing to ask companies to cooperate with the government and then try to jail them later when they do even aft

      • But the telcos (arguably) didn't comply with all of the legal requirements that existed at the time. There were laws on the books that prohibited wiretapping, and the 4th Amendment prohibits "unreasonable" searches without proper authorization (and, yes, the "unreasonable" clause in the 4th Amendment is a potential loophole; I'll let the lawyers argue about whether or not such requests were "reasonable").
        • by fyngyrz (762201)

          The 4th amendment directly defines what is reasonable: "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."

          Anything OTHER than that is unreasonable, constitutionally speaking. Look to the 1950's telecom laws for 100% confirmation that this was well understood by both congress and the courts.

      • by fyngyrz (762201)

        We want the private sector to cooperate with the government on national security matters.

        We want the private sector to not be assaulted by government employees operating in violation of both their oaths and the constitution. When it is blatantly obvious that the government is acting in such a manner -- as it clearly was here -- then any entity that supports the government is equally guilty of malfeasance of the most egregious type, and deserves neither a pass on the matter or the respect (not to mention pa

      • by Thing 1 (178996)

        Do that enough times and pretty soon the private sector will never cooperate willingly with the government under any circumstances even to the detriment of national security.

        Can you say "constitutional loophole"? I can. Yes, I would rather corporations not "cooperate" with the government in anything other than paying taxes, and obeying lawful orders, which do not include the black boxes still resident in AT&T facilities. How does a corporation know that it's a lawful order? If it will cost the corporation any money, any money at all to comply, then the corporation should get advice from counsel. Counsel knows the law. Are there laws that counsel cannot know? Then we

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Richard Nixon would have loved this era.

    • Richard Nixon had nothing on the Bush or Obama administrations. The past two presedencies have been the most secretive and constitution-breaking in American history.
  • by PortHaven (242123) on Friday December 30, 2011 @12:23PM (#38539116) Homepage

    That a government acting against it's Constitution will have courts that uphold acting against it's Constitution.

    Constitution is naught but a museum piece. We have ceased to recognize it by passing laws and court decisions that by-pass it entirely.

    • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Friday December 30, 2011 @01:52PM (#38540228)

      The courts appear to have decided that threats from alleged terrorists trump the threat of tyranny by the executive branch. That's why State Secrets doctrine so often wins, and that's why the courts have protected the NSA from judicial scrutiny in general.

      I fear that with the eternal War on Terror, they've confused which threat is greater.

  • Nothing to see here:
    Government instructs company to break the law. Government then gives company immunity.

    What did you expect? For them to take the immunity back away?

    Your rights as a citizen are only important in so far as you vote for the right guy or spend money. They could care less otherwise.

  • Freedoms (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DaMattster (977781) on Friday December 30, 2011 @12:47PM (#38539410)
    Here is my 0.02 cents: neither government nor the courts are to blame, we the citizenry who elect our officials are to blame. We have the media reporting a disporportionate amount of bad news (crime, terrorism, etc) because it sells. In turn this leads people to conclude that times are not getting safer but more dangerous and, in some cases, may actually encourage criminal copycat behaviours because of the basic human tendency to jump to conclusions. The reality is that crime hasn't really skyrocketed and by all accounts might actually be rising at a much lower rate when compared with the population. We just have a distorted perception of rampant crime and danger as a result of what the media reports. So people, and in particular senior citizens due to diminished strength and mobility, experience an irrational amount of fear. Thus we turn to our elected officials to ask for greater safety and security in the form of more laws and restrictions. Hence, many of these laws are poorly written and concieved because they were born out of a knee jerk reaction versus careful thought as to whether these laws are: (a) really necessary and/or (b) will really achieve the end result. Politicians that are wise to the demands of their constituents will of course play the get tough on crime with the hope of winning votes and even push through legislation toughening sentences or expanding the dragnet of what constitutes criminality. In summary, a vicious cycle is created that no one is really able to break unless there were a sudden breakout of common sense. I would admire the politician that would take the "not get tough on crime stance" because crime is not rampant. I would admire the politican that would take the step back and reflect the negative effects of passing some laws instead of being concerned about some short term gain in the polls. In reality, we've no one to blame but ourselves. The courts are doing what we are basically asking them. We are willingly giving up liberty for the security that we are asking for. Thomas Jefferson noted that, "Those that would give up some liberty to gain security get none and deserve neither."
    • Re:Freedoms (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JustNiz (692889) on Friday December 30, 2011 @01:04PM (#38539626)

      Wait... you seriously think we get a free choice to elect our officials?
      At best we get a choice between 2 or 3 identical people who the system has already made sure will all promote the status quo.

      • Wait... you seriously think we get a free choice to elect our officials? At best we get a choice between 2 or 3 identical people who the system has already made sure will all promote the status quo.

        No, I neither said nor implied that we have a free choice: we simply vote. The reason for status quo is because that is what the people want. If enough people, and by enough I mean 90% - 95% of the population, suddenly wanted marijuana legalized, it would be foolish for a politician wanting to remain in office not to hop on the legalization band wagon. Actually, our concept of democracy is very much rigged with precious little difference between parties - sometimes none at all - and corporate special int

    • Actually, I think that was Franklin, not Jefferson, [quotationspage.com] but otherwise, yes, you are correct.
    • by jamstar7 (694492)
      How in HELL are the citizens to blame when they've been cut out of the loop for decades?
  • The people in the top .2% have so much power that they probably do more evil (without even noticing!) before breakfast than most psychopaths do all day!

    It's totally ridiculous to tap other phones leaving theirs alone!

    Plus statistics prove their all insane sociopaths, many have bunkers or remote cottages so when they blow up the world they and they alone can survive!

    (Above was facetious, but true).
  • The 4th Amendment is very clear (probable cause -> specific warrant -> seizure as authorized by the warrant), and so is Article VI, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution (the Supremacy Clause), which plainly states the Constitution is the highest law of the land. The 2008 FISA act blatantly contradicts both very clear articles of law by stating that the President's assurance that a directive is lawful (even if it obviously isn't) is protection from the law. If retroactive telcom immunity stands,

There's a whole WORLD in a mud puddle! -- Doug Clifford

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