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Current Topic: Civil Liberties

House Votes to Limit Patriot Act Rules
Topic: Civil Liberties 8:54 pm EDT, Jun 15, 2005

Lawmakers voted Wednesday to block the Justice Department and the FBI from using the Patriot Act to peek at library records and bookstore sales slips.The House voted 238-187 despite a veto threat from Bush to block the part of the anti-terrorism law that allows the government to investigate the reading habits of terror suspects.

The House decides that you can support the War on Terror, support Freedom and Liberty, and still vote against provisions in the Patriot Act.

House Votes to Limit Patriot Act Rules - Bush to Congress: Renew Patriot Act - Jun 9, 2005
Topic: Civil Liberties 6:01 pm EDT, Jun  9, 2005

President Bush on Thursday called on Congress to reauthorize the 16 provisions of the USA Patriot Act that are slated to expire at the end of the year, calling them "practical, important and ... constitutional."

"Congress needs to renew them all and, this time, Congress needs to make the provisions permanent," Bush told an audience of about 150 officers at the Ohio State Highway Patrol Academy in Columbus.

"We basically said we've very much like to hear about specifics," Gantman said. "The ACLU then, for really over a year, had no specific abuses they could point to. On their behalf, I'd say one of their problems, like us, is we have a helluva time getting information from the Justice Department about what was going on there."

The ACLU, in a posting on its Web site, said the Bush administration and former Attorney General John Ashcroft "essentially refused to describe how it was implementing the law; it left numerous substantial questions unanswered, and classified others without justification.

"In short, not only has the Bush administration undermined judicial oversight on government spying on citizens by pushing the Patriot Act into law, but it is also undermining another crucial check and balance on surveillance powers: accountability to Congress and the public." - Bush to Congress: Renew Patriot Act - Jun 9, 2005

Illinois Senate OKs Video Game Restrictions
Topic: Civil Liberties 12:18 pm EDT, May 27, 2005

Lets hope that the Illinois Senate comes off looking really stupid.

] The measure approved Thursday would require store owners
] to determine which games are too violent or sexually
] explicit for anyone under 18. Anyone selling them to a
] minor could be fined.


This is just golden:

] The sponsor, Sen. Deanna Demuzio, denied the measure
] would interfere with free speech rights.
] "Video games are not art or media," she said. "They are
] simulations, not all that different from the simulations
] used by the U.S. military in preparation for war."

But the saddest thing in this entire article is:
] "I'm going to vote for this bill, but I'm voting for it
] for one reason: because this is a political bill,"
] said Sen. Mike Jacobs. "If I vote against it, it will
] show up in a campaign mail piece

Illinois Senate OKs Video Game Restrictions

Does the Real ID act contain a Constitution-busting Trojan horse?
Topic: Civil Liberties 7:54 pm EDT, May 10, 2005

] H.R. 418 would require the Secretary of Homeland Security
] to waive any and all laws that he determines necessary,
] in his sole discretion,
to ensure the expeditious
] construction of barriers and roads under IIRIRA 102...
] Section 102 of H.R. 418 would amend the current provision
] to require the Secretary of Homeland Security to waive
] any law upon determining that a waiver is necessary for
] the expeditious construction of the border barriers.
] Additionally, it would prohibit judicial review of a
] waiver decision or action by the Secretary
and bar
] judicially ordered compensation or injunction or other
] remedy for damages alleged to result from any such
] decision or action.

Does the Real ID act contain a Constitution-busting Trojan horse?

Freedom, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Secure Travel Papers
Topic: Civil Liberties 1:07 am EDT, Apr 15, 2005

Decius wrote:
] A society that can face these challenges effectively must
] believe in freedom at it's core. Americans do not believe in
] freedom. (I'll bet I just offended you. GOOD!) Americans
] believe that it ought to be illegal to buy beer after 10:30
] and everyone who rides a bicycle should be forced to wear a
] helmet and you should be fined for practicing golf in a public
] park and 17 year olds should be prohibited from watching
] movies about robots from the future.
] The American idea of "freedom" is synonymous with national
] pride. By freedom, Americans really mean American, not free.
] The rubber doesn't really meet the road when it comes to
] practical questions about what government should and should
] not regulate. Americans regulate everything their constitution
] doesn't explicitly prevent them from regulating. No one stands
] up and says we shouldn't have this law because people ought to
] be free to make their own choices and be responsible for
] themselves. No one but the group getting trampled. And such
] arguments are never persuasive when weighed against the
] statistical "good" that regulations achieve.
] If people all wear helmets, deaths go down. If childern don't
] see violence, they are less violent. Saving lives is obviously
] more important then some whiney jerk who doesn't want to wear
] a helmet. How trite! Tell him to stuff it! Pass the law!

] A society that truly believes in freedom takes the cost of
] regulation seriously and weighs the necessity of regulation
] gravely. We do not. A society that truly believes in freedom
] regulates as an absolute last resort. We regulate as a first
] resort, and a second resort, and a fifth resort, and a
] fiftieth resort.
] And that's what really bothers me about all of this... You're
] going to live in a society where every behavior is controlled
] and enforcement is absolute. It will be legal to hold any
] opinion you want about it, and express that on the internet,
] but it won't matter. No one will listen to you, and there will
] be absolutely nothing that you can do about it, and if you
] really piss people off they'll come for you, as your name,
] address, and phone number will be publically displayed in the
] whois database. But at least you'll know you're free. And
] you'll have a big, fat grin on your face about it. You already
] do.

"Liberty is responsibility. That is why most men dread it." - George Bernard Shaw

Freedom, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Secure Travel Papers

The New York Times - Under New Chief, F.C.C. Considers Widening Its Reach
Topic: Civil Liberties 12:19 pm EST, Mar 28, 2005

] "Certainly broadcasters and cable operators have
] significant First Amendment rights, but these rights are
] not without boundaries," he wrote. "They are limited by
] law. They also should be limited by good taste."

The new FCC commissioner thinks your first amendment rights are limited by "good taste."

The New York Times - Under New Chief, F.C.C. Considers Widening Its Reach

[Politech] Don't say blogger to customs!
Topic: Civil Liberties 7:32 pm EST, Mar 18, 2005

] As already reported on quite a few blogs, Jeremy was
] detained and interrogated by US Immigration when he
] arrived in New York last week for a meeting with
] McGraw-Hill to discuss a great business opportunity for
] Jeremy in the area of blogging. It appears that the
] immigration people simply did not believe that Jeremy
] could make a living as a blogger. And they gave him the
] third degree - including an humiliating strip search - as
] a result for some hours. And banned him from entering the
] US.

Protecting our borders does not involve creating an opportunity for people who have chips on their shoulders to harrass random travellers. We need a bill of rights for travellers.

[Politech] Don't say blogger to customs!

Balancing Security and Liberty (
Topic: Civil Liberties 8:53 pm EST, Dec 11, 2004

] In order to stop and search any suspect, not just a
] terrorism suspect, law enforcement need only wait for a
] person to enter an implied consent area such as a subway
] or a shopping mall. Their action justified by the "war on
] terror," police may then conduct a full search. The true
] object of the search -- most likely drug possession, but
] any contraband will do -- is unrelated to terrorism.
] Of course people shouldn't break the law or carry illegal
] objects. But the difference between civilian employees
] searching for bombs in airports and government agents
] conducting random searches for suspicious objects is the
] difference between preserving a free society and creating
] a police state.
] In airport security today, items deemed suspicious are
] not necessarily dangerous: Large amounts of cash, pirated
] CDs, pornography and, of course, drugs -- not just
] illegal drugs but even prescription drugs in certain
] circumstances. In fact, controversial books can be
] grounds for further investigation and arrest. Such a
] standard, even if established in airports, is
] unacceptable and must not be allowed to spread to our
] streets and subways.

This is an older article Bruce Schneier posted in the comments of Barlow's last post.

Balancing Security and Liberty (

BarlowFriendz: A Taste of the System
Topic: Civil Liberties 8:39 pm EST, Dec 11, 2004

] When I pointed out to the officials that they only had
] authority to search for threats to the aircraft, one of
] them, a bug-eyed, crew-cutted troglodyte, declared that,
] if I had taken any of these substances, then I would have
] endangered Flight 310. That such an obviously ungifted
] person was capable of so imaginative a conceptual leap
] remains a marvel to me.

Barlow is contesting charges stemming from the discovery of marijuana, mushrooms, and ketamine in his baggage by airport security personnel, claiming that the search was unconstitutional because it was not limited to what would be threats to the aircraft.

] Now the more authoritarian among you might say that
] if these searches reveal other, non-terror-related,
] criminal activity, then so much the better. The 4th
] Amendment should provide no sanctuary for the guilty,
] whatever their crimes. But randomly searching people's
] homes against the possibility that someone might have
] a bio-warfare lab in his basement would reveal a lot of
] criminal activity. And it is certainly true that such
] searches would reduce the possibility of anthrax
] attacks and enhance public safety. Still, I doubt you're
] ready to go there. Yet. Given a few exotic outbreaks,
] you might be. Should that day come, would you still
] believe such searches should not be precisely limited?
] This may seem hyperbolic, and of course it is, but it's
] actually a fairly short conceptual distance away from
] what's going on in the nation's airports at present.

BarlowFriendz: A Taste of the System

Derail E-Mail Snooping (
Topic: Civil Liberties 4:41 am EDT, Jul  4, 2004

] IMAGINE THAT your friendly local mail carrier, before
] delivering a letter for you, decides to steam it open and
] read its contents. An outrageous and illegal infringement
] on your privacy, obviously. But a federal appeals court
] in Boston has just permitted an Internet service provider
] to engage in exactly this kind of snooping when the
] message is sent in cyberspace rather than by snail mail.
] This ruling is an unnecessarily cramped parsing of a law
] that Congress meant to guard, not eviscerate, the privacy
] of communications.

The Post doesn't think highly of this ruling either..

] E-mail has become too ubiquitous, too central a facet
] of modern life, for this ruling to stand.

Derail E-Mail Snooping (

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