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FBI Files a "Secret Justification" For Gag Order 167

An anonymous reader notes a story up at Ars on the FBI's continuing penchant for secrecy. "Clearly, the FBI isn't ready to give up its Bush-era secrecy addition just yet. the case of Doe v. Holder, the FBI is carrying out a secret investigation using secret guidelines on what is and is not constitutional, and as part of that investigation they've compelled the secrecy of a service provider and are using a secret justification to argue that nobody's First Amendment rights are being violated."
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FBI Files a "Secret Justification" For Gag Order

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  • by causality ( 777677 ) on Friday June 26, 2009 @01:05PM (#28484963)

    If a right is violated, and no one can talk about it, then it must not have happened.

    Indeed, and it's scary how that seems to be the point. Also from the fine summary:

    and as part of that investigation they've compelled the secrecy of a service provider

    If that provider had any sort of decency or respect for this country, they would hold a press conference or equivalent and make sure everybody knew all about this shady deal. That kind of courage and good priorities are unfortunately quite rare. There's a lot of cheap talk about "patriotism" but that is what a real patriot would do. Of course I use that definition (that I wish I could attribute right now) which goes "a patriot supports his country all of the time, and his government only when it deserves it." These days, that would mean refusing to support the government most (or all) of the time.

    Makes me wonder how many cases the FBI handles that have nothing to do with an activitiy which crosses state lines or otherwise could not be handled on the local and state level ...

  • Bush era? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by endianx ( 1006895 ) on Friday June 26, 2009 @01:24PM (#28485249)

    the FBI isn't ready to give up its Bush-era secrecy addition just yet

    "Bush-era secrecy" is what you will get if you vote for most any Democrat or Republican. Obama isn't any different.

  • by afabbro ( 33948 ) on Friday June 26, 2009 @01:25PM (#28485259) Homepage

    ....and the pink tights and boa? Its no fun to be freaky jiggy with the hoes and bros in the light of day, ya know! Can't a G-man enjoy a G-string without diluting the oppressive regime's value system with blatant hypocrisy? Whats the fun in that? Its like Halloween in the light with pants on - no tricks or treats...

    Yawn. Is the "crossdressing Hoover" nonsense dead yet? There is zero factual basis for this. One guy's sensational book and since then everyone takes it as gospel...

  • Re:The FBI? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by afabbro ( 33948 ) on Friday June 26, 2009 @01:32PM (#28485373) Homepage

    The FBI is institutionally one of the least efficient and bureaucratic law enforcement agencies in the country.

    While simultaneously being one of the best law enforcement agencies in the world. Seriously - who would you compare to them?

    They're pumping billions into "modernization" efforts, but they still file their cases largely in paper format, use fax machines instead of e-mail, and "IT" is what they say happens in the men's room after 5pm.

    No doubt you thought that was a cute quote and copy-pasted it. But alas, it's completely wrong. The recent Sentinel problems were an upgrade/modernization of the existing electronic case files. The Bureau is computerized. Not as sleekly or as efficiently as they'd like (which is why there's a big government contract working on it), but you make it sound like they're still thumbing through index cards. And yes, they use email.

    In the 60s, the FBI was busy snapping pictures of protesters... and at the same time devoting forensic resources to finding out who (or rather, what) crapped on J. Edgar Hoover's front porch. You might have heard of him--he had a real temper, hated communists, and had a garter belt and fishnet fetish.

    Please provide some proof that Hoover was a cross-dresser other than Anthony Summers' discredited book. That's the only source for this accusation.

    As to hating communists - God bless the man.

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday June 26, 2009 @01:49PM (#28485623) Homepage Journal

    What you say about power once granted is true, but thing that is missing from this debate is that the executive branch has a duty to defend the constitutionality of laws in court. If it doesn't, it gets a de facto retroactive veto on past legislation. They get somebody to challenge a law they don't like in court, then roll over and play dead.

    This doesn't mean that they are necessarily obliged to use powers they see as unconstitutional during an investigation, but once a dispute gets to court they've got to make a good faith effort to defend the law that Congress has passed, even if they don't like it. There's nobody else to do this. It's probably a flaw in our Constitution, but there you have it.

    So we can't make many deductions about the administration's own position on this until a year or two has passed and we're wrangling over the administration's own policies. The Doe v. Holder case, IIRC, is part of a series of legal challenges to the Patriot Act that have been going on fr several years. I hope the Obama administration loses on this one.

  • Re:Bush-era? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MegaMahr ( 788652 ) on Friday June 26, 2009 @01:49PM (#28485627) Homepage []The Patriot Act was supported 98-1 in it's senate vote at the time it was passed. The only senator who voted against it was Russ Feingold - D (Wis). It was vastly inferior to what the Bush administration had asked for, and this pissed Bush off. As I keep saying to all the people blasting Obama for making the economy worse (and trust me I did not vote for him)the president signs the bills into law, but the 535 members of congress draft them, ratify them, and present them for signature. If you are so upset with it, I'd suggest that you blame them.
  • Re:Bush-era? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by b4upoo ( 166390 ) on Friday June 26, 2009 @01:51PM (#28485669)

    Maybe it is time to shut down the FBI for good. Back in the old days when they caught up with Dillinger or Baby Face Nelson we could all see the good that was done. But as they became more and more secretive we lack evidence that they justify the expenses of their existence. It is also next to impossible for the public to know when they are going to far as we are not free to know what they are doing at all.
                  As a matter of fact I was recently astounded that they had compiled a 900 page report on someone's mother. I believe it was Bobby Fisher's mom. After all we all know he is just a savage criminal who dared to play a game of chess in Bosnia when the US forbade it. They call that a felony. Our nation needs a doctor.

  • Re:What's with (Score:4, Interesting)

    by binary paladin ( 684759 ) <> on Friday June 26, 2009 @02:51PM (#28486439)

    Except there's NO SUCH THING as the lesser of two evils. That's where the joke is on everyone who thinks that way. How many people voted for Obama because he was the "lesser" of two evils? And what are we getting now? Not only do we have someone who has no intention of any real "change" but his party is also in control of congress which can help expedite tyranny.

    And, as I always say, give me the greater of two evils. Democracy is a useless fat asshole who will always follow the path of least resistance and apathy. In order to get that fat ass to rise to action, the situation has to get really, really bad. I was really hoping McCain made it in to office because I think he was losing it anyway and with Palin we'd have had a pair of lunatics that would have caused such an obvious nightmare that maybe, just maybe, the bloated and disgusting Cheeto-eating diabetic soda drinking toothless brainless blob that best represents the American people may have been so scared that it moved.

    Or it would have eaten up the rampant nationalism and authoritarianism and imploded on itself. I'm okay with either one really.

    Voting for the lesser of two evils is more dangerous than putting a lunatic in office who is bad enough to wake the people from their collective stupor. It slows the erosion of liberty down to a slow enough pace that the Kentucky Fried Majority never even notices they've been robbed of their rights.

    You can't mitigate the damage coming down from on high in Washington. They're ALL bought and paid for. Obama is as much of a stooge as Bush... and Clinton... and Reagan... etc. You can be a harbinger of POSITIVE change while working for one of the two political machines that's been sodomizing this nation for the past century plus. Neither of those organizations is designed with anything in mind but consolidation of power and wealth lining its own pockets.

    If every asshole out there who voted for the "lesser of two evils" (and make no mistake, Democrats are not the only people who do that) voted their conscience and went third party or independent instead, I don't know who would win but I can tell you, it probably won't be any of the front runners since virtually ALL their "supporters" cast their vote while holding their noses.

  • Re:Bush-era? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by radtea ( 464814 ) on Friday June 26, 2009 @03:26PM (#28486863)

    the 535 members of congress draft them, ratify them, and present them for signature. If you are so upset with it, I'd suggest that you blame them.

    Congress has an approval rating that sometimes dips into the single digits, and never gets far above them. Congress as an incumbent return rate of well over 80% and never drops significantly below it.

    Any student of economics who was looking at a product with a 10% approval rating and 80+% customer loyalty would immediately suspect some kind of serious market interference. Can you imagine a car that almost everyone hated but that everyone still kept on buying, year after year, model after model?

    "Yeah, I bought a 2008 Republican and it totally sucked. Unresponsive handling, fuel hog, huge maintenance costs and the financing just about killed me."

    "So, you gonna buy something else this year?"

    "Naw, I figure since the 2008 is so bad the 2010 is bound to be even worse, so I'm going to get it and see."

    What is wrong with this picture? Political choices are made in a market-like context, and almost everyone hates almost everything on offer in that market, yet no one is able to crack the barriers to entry.

    As with many problems in modern democracies, this appears to be a largely American problem. In Canada we generate new political parties every few decades (they start off regional, usually in the West, like the Social Credit, CCF and Reform, and then go national, sometimes forming governments--our current federal government is the Reform Party under a false name.) Britain manages to turn over the established parties once a century of so, having killed the Liberals in favour of Labour in the first half of the 20th century, and now the LibDems are up-and-coming today. In Europe the democracies are so young it's hard to draw comparisons, but the American one-Party, two-wings system is so strongly entrenched that despite almost universal dissatisfaction with the product, everyone keeps buying it.

    Gerrymandering is an important feature in this system, by which state parties set electoral boundaries, and incumbents can be substantially protected by the two wings of the Party in this way. That means they don't have to worry much about voters. Likewise, the role of the Party in voter registration is probably a significant barrier to a second party forming and becoming competitive.

    The US needs an arms-length electoral body like Elections Canada to take the Party out of the electoral process. Unfortunately, that would require the Party leadership to approve of it, which isn't about to happen.

  • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Friday June 26, 2009 @03:54PM (#28487299) Journal

    California was going solidly for Obama anyway, so I didn't need to consider voting for him to stop McSame. So I was free to vote third-party; too bad the Libertarians have been taken over by quasi-Republicans, and their allegedly-Libertarian candidate doesn't really even believe in drug legalization (though at least he's strongly gung-ho about privacy and getting government out of non-gay-marriage-related parts of people's lives.) I was tempted to vote for Nader just as a complaint against Barr, but I held my nose and voted for what's left of my party.

    Now, if the elections had been between Cheney and Cthulhu, voting for the lesser evil would have been fun!

  • Re:Republican?? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jsalbre ( 663115 ) < minus caffeine> on Friday June 26, 2009 @04:18PM (#28487667) Homepage Journal
    So if there's a post about anything socialistic in nature it should be tagged "Democrats"? Anything about vegetables should be tagged "Libertarians"? You should tag all war related stories "Romans"? How about posts about boats? Tag them "Vikings" I suppose.

    Just because two things are ocasionally associated doesn't mean one always has to do with the other.

    This story is about the FBI, not Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Mormons, Moonies or Xenu.
  • Re:I can help (Score:3, Interesting)

    by spun ( 1352 ) <> on Friday June 26, 2009 @05:48PM (#28488785) Journal

    I like the buffalo sentence because it is actually grammatical and meaningful:

    Wild cattle from Buffalo, NY confuse wild cattle from Buffalo, NY that wild cattle from Buffalo, NY confuse.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell