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Current Topic: Civil Liberties

Re: The Volokh Conspiracy - Ninth Circuit Allows Suspicionless Computer Searches at the Border:
Topic: Civil Liberties 3:45 pm EDT, Apr 22, 2008

Arnold has failed to distinguish how the search of his laptop and its electronic contents is logically any different from the suspicionless border searches of travelers’ luggage that the Supreme Court and we have allowed.

Its clear that there is a difference. The court may decide that the difference is not constitutionally significant, but it is not helpful for the court to pretend that no difference exists. This is a sort of ignorance that allows the court to reach a comfortable decision without addressing the substantive question...

My rant on today's decision.

Re: The Volokh Conspiracy - Ninth Circuit Allows Suspicionless Computer Searches at the Border:

The Volokh Conspiracy - Ninth Circuit Allows Suspicionless Computer Searches at the Border:
Topic: Civil Liberties 10:20 am EDT, Apr 22, 2008

The Ninth Circuit has (finally) handed down United States v. Arnold; the court ruled that there is no Fourth Amendment requirement of "reasonable suspicion" to search a laptop computer at the border.

This is extremely bad.

The Volokh Conspiracy - Ninth Circuit Allows Suspicionless Computer Searches at the Border:

Everybody has to be fingerprinted!
Topic: Civil Liberties 11:34 am EDT, Mar 16, 2008

One morning at Epcot Center, as we offered our ID to the castmember at the turnstile and began to argue (again -- they're very poorly trained on this point) that we could indeed opt to show ID instead of being printed, a small boy behind us chirped up, "No you have to be fingerprinted! Everybody has to be fingerprinted!"

To all those parents who worry that Disney will turn their kids into little princesses, it's time to get priorities straight: the "security" at the parks is even more effective at conditioning your children to live in a police state.

Everybody has to be fingerprinted!

The UK contemplates another step toward an Orwellian nightmare
Topic: Civil Liberties 11:28 am EDT, Mar 16, 2008

Primary school children should be eligible for the DNA database if they exhibit behaviour indicating they may become criminals in later life, according to Britain's most senior police forensics expert.

Gary Pugh, director of forensic sciences at Scotland Yard and the new DNA spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), said a debate was needed on how far Britain should go in identifying potential offenders, given that some experts believe it is possible to identify future offending traits in children as young as five.

I'm sure additions to such a database will always be fair and scientific, and it will never be abused in a way that stigmatizes the people placed on it.

The UK contemplates another step toward an Orwellian nightmare

Dan Froomkin - Why Immunity Matters -
Topic: Civil Liberties 10:41 pm EST, Mar  4, 2008

And indeed, beyond the hyperbole, the Bush administration is articulating a more measured, three-part argument for immunity, based on concerns about fairness, secrecy and future cooperation.

It just so happens that all three parts of this argument are flawed.

This is good coverage of the FISA battle. It ends on a sour note:

Glenn Greenwald blogs for Salon: "The signs are unmistakably clear that what was always inevitable -- full compliance by the House Democratic leadership with Bush's demands on warrantless eavesdropping and telecom amnesty -- is now imminent. . . .

"This is, of course, everything except surprising. No rational person who has watched Congressional Democrats since they took over Congress could possibly have expected them to do anything but what they always do: namely, whatever they're told to do by the White House."

Also, don't miss this entertaining set of questions for the Whitehouse.

Dan Froomkin - Why Immunity Matters -

George Bush thinks the Electronic Frontier Foundation sees "a financial gravy train" in spying suits.
Topic: Civil Liberties 7:09 pm EST, Feb 28, 2008

President Bush says the foreign intelligence surveillance program is in the national interest and is legal.

In the video at this link George Bush says "We wanna know who is calling who... from over seas into America we need to know... in order to protect the people... it was legal, and now all of a sudden... plaintiff's attorneys, class-action plaintiff's attorneys, you know [inaudible] try and get inside their head, I suspect they see, you know, a financial gravy train... are trying to sue these companies, just its unfair, it is patently unfair..."

The fact is that if the program that the Bush administration asked the phone companies to assist in was legal, there would be no crime for which to grant them immunity. The fact is that if there is an ongoing risk that the phone companies would refuse to cooperate with the administration without this immunity than the program is still not legal. The fact is that the attorneys at non profit civil liberties organizations like the EFF are not in it for the money.

It is absolutely shameful, in my opinion, that Bush stoops to this sort of patently disingenuous rhetoric, telling these sort of lies about good, patriotic people on national television, in order to avoid taking responsibility for the fact that he has completely undermined and subverted the system of checks and balances that form the bedrock of our society. It was not necessary to undermine those checks and balances to protect America. The Administration had every opportunity to work with the Congress and the courts to build an effective, safeguarded system, and they did not because, fundamentally, they do not believe in these checks and balances. These facts are widely established by Administration insiders.

Assurances from the President that people's civil liberties are respected are absolutely not satisfactory in light of the history of willful abuse of intelligence surveillance powers for domestic political purposes in this country. Clearly, conservative lawyers believe that the balance reached in the 1970's was the wrong one. Even if they are correct, they do not have the right to merely cast it aside without any process or dialog simply because they do not like it! We are a country of laws, and we have a process through which laws are created, and razor thin electoral majorities do not empower Presidents to rewrite those laws arbitrarily as they see fit!

George Bush thinks the Electronic Frontier Foundation sees "a financial gravy train" in spying suits.

vote sunday sales
Topic: Civil Liberties 8:35 am EST, Feb 26, 2008

Welcome to the Sunday Sales Coalition website. Thank you for supporting our campaign to allow local communities to decide whether alcohol should be sold in grocery and convenience stores on Sunday. This website is designed for the specific purpose of connecting you, the voters with your elected officials. It is your resource for helping convince our elected officials that Sunday sales is an issue that is meaningful to voters, requires their attention, and deserves their support.

vote sunday sales

Despite public sentiment, Sundays likely to stay dry for now |
Topic: Civil Liberties 9:09 pm EST, Feb 25, 2008

While several members of his caucus who oppose the bill are counted among the Senate leadership, Farris said it appears that Perdue — a religious conservative who doesn't drink — is the stumbling block. Perdue all but threatened to veto the bill, saying Georgians should show better "time management" if they want to purchase alcoholic beverages by buying them on other days of the week.

Go Chris Farris! This law is stupid and unconstitutional!

Despite public sentiment, Sundays likely to stay dry for now |

House Democrats Stand Up To Bush, Refuse to Rubber Stamp Domestic Spying | Threat Level from
Topic: Civil Liberties 5:15 am EST, Feb 15, 2008

The Protect America Act, a temporary but expansive warrantless spying bill passed by Congress last summer, will likely expire Saturday at midnight, a casualty of a battle between President Bush and House Democrats over amnesty for phone companies that aided his secret, warrantless spying program and how much of that program should be legalized.

Apparently some in our government have spines.

House Democrats Stand Up To Bush, Refuse to Rubber Stamp Domestic Spying | Threat Level from

Clarity Sought on Electronics Searches -
Topic: Civil Liberties 3:10 pm EST, Feb  7, 2008

Today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Asian Law Caucus, two civil liberties groups in San Francisco, plan to file a lawsuit to force the government to disclose its policies on border searches, including which rules govern the seizing and copying of the contents of electronic devices. They also want to know the boundaries for asking travelers about their political views, religious practices and other activities potentially protected by the First Amendment. The question of whether border agents have a right to search electronic devices at all without suspicion of a crime is already under review in the federal courts.

Clarity Sought on Electronics Searches -

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