Random Thoughts (Political Edition)

nomix

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Oh we just have had Obama on the BBC saying 'US and Ukania' have a special and essential relationship - that is bollocks. We are the US's lick spittal and all Americans know it - we are just fooling ourselves - well Ukanian Politicians do.
There is a special relationship. But it's less special than it was during Reagan/Thatcher and Bush/Blair. I won't speak to the special relationship during Ike/Eden. :p The special relationship wasn't really that strong during Bush/Major or Clinton/Blair, but it still existed.

Britain might not be the most important ally of the United States anymore, but if the US needs help doing something, it's still Britain she turns to. And the same goes the other way.

One thing I noted in Obamas answers was that funnily, he mentioned Denmark, but not Norway. We've dropped more bombs than the Danes.. heck, we've dropped more bombs than the US, if I'm not mistaken. :p

Just face it; They'll never be able to see that criticizing Israeli politics and settlements on the occupied Gaza Strip and the West Bank != anti-Semitism.
They? Read Haaretz, and you'll see there is a great deal of people who realize just that. There's even the occational article in Jerusalem Post that exhibits such insight.
 

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TSA activates whiny toddler mode and says it just won't play with Texas if anti-groping bill passed...

TSA Threatens To Cancel All Flights Out Of Texas If ?Groping Bill? Passed

Upset about invasive screening techniques at the airport, the Lone Star State was considering a bill that would make a TSA patdown that involves touching ?the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or breast of another person including through the clothing? a misdemeanor, allowing Texas law enforcement to arrest TSA officials and charge them with sexual harassment. It would have meant that TSA officials could be fined $4,000 and spend up to a year in jail for doing their jobs of feeling up prospective fliers.

The Transportation Security Administration was not happy when the bill was passed in the Texas House of Representatives, blogging in response that Texas is barred by the U.S. Constitution from regulating the federal government....

Oh, that's just rich. Suddenly, the TSA cares about the constitution. Right. Never mind that the entirety of their existence is based on using it as their toilet paper.

...On Tuesday, the bill was set to be voted on in the Senate. This called for more of a response than a simple blog post. Federal government officials descended on the Capitol to hand out a letter (embedded below) from the Texas U.S. Attorney letting senators know that if they passed the bill, the TSA would probably have to cancel all flights out of Texas. As much as they love their state, the idea of shutting down airports and trapping people in Texas was scary enough to get legislators to reconsider their support for the groping bill?

Republican Dan Patrick, who was the sponsor of the bill in the Senate, withdrew it when he realized he would not have the votes he needed to pass it. ?There was a time in this state, there was a time in our history, where we stood up to the federal government and we did not cower to rules and policies that invaded the privacy of Texans,? he said with regret, reports the Texas Tribune. No last stand for Texas this week.

The letter from U.S. attorney John Murphy said Texas could not pass a statute that conflicts with federal law. If it had, the TSA would have sought an emergency stay and until that had been granted, would have had to shut down Texas airports as it ?could not ensure the safety of passengers and crew.?

?Naturally, Texans didn?t take to well to being threatened in that manner,? said Rep. David Simpson, the author of the bill, in a written statement.

They may not like it, but it worked.
 

nomix

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I suppose their position is that the states can't just legislate their way around federal law, which does seem like a reasonable argument. The proper place to confront the TSA is in constitutional court, not in state assemblies.
 

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Passing a state-law forces the federal government, or the state to sue in federal court. TSA's threat to make Texas a No-Fly Zone is their way of avoiding a court case on the constitutionality of their policies. Remember, TSA makes policy and procedure, they don't pass laws. As far as I know the body-searches and scanners are not enshrined in federal law, although I could be mistaken. Federal law puts the job of security in TSA's hands, and TSA implements that mandate through their policies and procedures. This bill is challenging TSA policy, it's not trying to do away with TSA, or even the body-searches - it just requires TSA to get a signed consent form for any body search.

TSA agents have said that the passenger gives up his/her Constitutional rights by buying a ticket - this is the only way they can prevent a person from leaving the security line or simply say, "fine, then I won't fly" when faced with a body search. The interesting thing is that the TSA does not file criminal charges against a person trying to leave the line, they file a civil lawsuit for a monetary penalty. This action directly contradicts the forfeiture of rights argument - and I checked the documentation with both Southwest and Delta and nowhere in the legalese of buying a ticket is there language informing the passenger that by doing so they forfeit their Constitutional rights.

The Bill of Rights was established specifically to limit the power of government (all government, not just the federal level) over the people. TSA is acting as if the Bill of Rights does not apply to them, which is not true. No matter what the justification - security, interstate commerce, whatever, no government agency can throw out the Bill of Rights when it suits them. That goes for Congress, the courts, FBI, CIA, NSA, and whatever letters you want to throw in there.

Current legislation and regulation is finding ways around this by crafting Catch-22 scenarios - such as the PATRIOT Act which denies the accused the right to counsel or a trial, thus ensuring that it can never be challenged. There is also the problem of legislation through regulation - an example of that would be the FCC fining broadcasters for what the FCC deems to be "obscene" or "inappropriate" speech. The FCC is not granted the right to regulate content, and has been doing so in violation of Denver Area Educational Telecommunications Consortium, Inc. v. F.C.C. a ruling that conflicts with the earlier CTCPCA law which prohibits broadcasters from airing "obscene, profane or indecent" content - but does not define these terms.
 

nomix

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I agree on that. But I think activism lawmaking is a bad idea for the sole reason it may be inappropriate at a later point.
 

Blind_Io

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What about the knee-jerk legislation that does more harm than good, such as the creation of TSA and the PATRIOT Act? It's a case of fear-based group-think that has long-lasting consequences. We are still dealing with the repercussions from PATRIOT Act and the creation of TSA a decade after the attack that caused their creation - and neither have been shown to have any significant benefit and both have thrown the Bill of Rights out the window.
 

nomix

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And then it would seem both should be challenged in the supreme court.
 

nomix

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If this is true, I'll be weeping in joy.

This is a man who has probably been responsible for as violent, disgusting, destructive, inhumane, brutal and despickable actions as OBL. I won't count numbers, but let's just say I regard this man as one of the most evil men in history. I'm deeply attached to the Balkans, and nothing saddens me more than the civil wars there.

If they've gotten him, I feel like quoting Ted Heath when Maggie was ousted in 1990. Rejoyce, rejoyce, rejoyce!
 

nomix

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Ratko Mladic is an arsehole of the worst degree. I can think of few greater achievments made in the name of humanity in Europe since the Balkan wars.
 

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There?s a Secret Patriot Act, Senator Says


You think you understand how the Patriot Act allows the government to spy on its citizens. Sen. Ron Wyden says it?s worse than you know.

Congress is set to reauthorize three controversial provisions of the surveillance law as early as Thursday. Wyden (D-Oregon) says that powers they grant the government on their face, the government applies a far broader legal interpretation ? an interpretation that the government has conveniently classified, so it cannot be publicly assessed or challenged. But one prominent Patriot-watcher asserts that the secret interpretation empowers the government to deploy ?dragnets? for massive amounts of information on private citizens; the government portrays its data-collection efforts much differently.

?We?re getting to a gap between what the public thinks the law says and what the American government secretly thinks the law says,? Wyden told Danger Room in an interview in his Senate office. ?When you?ve got that kind of a gap, you?re going to have a problem on your hands.?

What exactly does Wyden mean by that? As a member of the intelligence committee, he laments that he can?t precisely explain without disclosing classified information. But one component of the Patriot Act in particular gives him immense pause: the so-called ?business-records provision,? which empowers the FBI to get businesses, medical offices, banks and other organizations to turn over any ?tangible things? it deems relevant to a security investigation.

?It is fair to say that the business-records provision is a part of the Patriot Act that I am extremely interested in reforming,? Wyden says. ?I know a fair amount about how it?s interpreted, and I am going to keep pushing, as I have, to get more information about how the Patriot Act is being interpreted declassified. I think the public has a right to public debate about it.?

That?s why Wyden and his colleague Sen. Mark Udall offered an amendment on Tuesday to the Patriot Act reauthorization.

The amendment, first reported by Marcy Wheeler, blasts the administration for ?secretly reinterpret[ing] public laws and statutes.? It would compel the Attorney General to ?publicly disclose the United States Government?s official interpretation of the USA Patriot Act.? And, intriguingly, it refers to ?intelligence-collection authorities? embedded in the Patriot Act that the administration briefed the Senate about in February.


Wyden says he ?can?t answer? any specific questions about how the government thinks it can use the Patriot Act. That would risk revealing classified information ? something Wyden considers an abuse of government secrecy. He believes the techniques themselves should stay secret, but the rationale for using their legal use under Patriot ought to be disclosed.

?I draw a sharp line between the secret interpretation of the law, which I believe is a growing problem, and protecting operations and methods in the intelligence area, which have to be protected,? he says.

Surveillance under the business-records provisions has recently spiked. The Justice Department?s official disclosure on its use of the Patriot Act, delivered to Congress in April, reported that the government asked the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for approval to collect business records 96 times in 2010 ? up from just 21 requests the year before. The court didn?t reject a single request. But it ?modified? those requests 43 times, indicating to some Patriot-watchers that a broadening of the provision is underway.

?The FISA Court is a pretty permissive body, so that suggests something novel or particularly aggressive, not just in volume, but in the nature of the request,? says Michelle Richardson, the ACLU?s resident Patriot Act lobbyist. ?No one has tipped their hand on this in the slightest. But we?ve come to the conclusion that this is some kind of bulk collection. It wouldn?t be surprising to me if it?s some kind of internet or communication-records dragnet.? (Full disclosure: My fianc?e works for the ACLU.)

The FBI deferred comment on any secret interpretation of the Patriot Act to the Justice Department. The Justice Department said it wouldn?t have any comment beyond a bit of March congressional testimony from its top national security official, Todd Hinnen, who presented the type of material collected as far more individualized and specific: ?driver?s license records, hotel records, car-rental records, apartment-leasing records, credit card records, and the like.?

But that?s not what Udall sees. He warned in a Tuesday statement about the government?s ?unfettered? access to bulk citizen data, like ?a cellphone company?s phone records.? In a Senate floor speech on Tuesday, Udall urged Congress to restrict the Patriot Act?s business-records seizures to ?terrorism investigations? ? something the ostensible counterterrorism measure has never required in its nearly 10-year existence.

Indeed, Hinnen allowed himself an out in his March testimony, saying that the business-record provision ?also? enabled ?important and highly sensitive intelligence-collection operations? to take place. Wheeler speculates those operations include ?using geolocation data from cellphones to collect information on the whereabouts of Americans? ? something our sister blog Threat Level has reported on extensively.

It?s worth noting that Wyden is pushing a bill providing greater privacy protections for geolocation info.

For now, Wyden?s considering his options ahead of the Patriot Act vote on Thursday. He wants to compel as much disclosure as he can on the secret interpretation, arguing that a shadow broadening of the Patriot Act sets a dangerous precedent.

?I?m talking about instances where the government is relying on secret interpretations of what the law says without telling the public what those interpretations are,? Wyden says, ?and the reliance on secret interpretations of the law is growing.?


And on a different note.

 
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Blind_Io

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Just yesterday in the thread about automotive "black boxes" I was saying how I don't trust "Big Brother" style legislation because you never know how it will be implemented.



Sometimes I hate being right.
 

GRtak

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Yeah, I hate it when your right too.
 

jetsetter

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GRtak

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Obama signs Patriot Act extension with autopen
 

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Hmmmm - that legislation is just so Un-American. Almost beggars belief that a country founded on the principles of individual freedoms has not complained more. I can see in moments of immediate threat why that may be needed but I do not think that America (USA) is actually in that position now.
 

Blind_Io

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I found out that my representative, who voted against the last extension of the act, voted in favor of it this time.

He got a hell of a nasty-gram from me in which I pretty much called him a traitor, douchebag, and coward for selling out our way of life. I think at one point (it's all a bit fuzzy now, you know how I get when I'm on a rant), I think I said that Pres. Bush claimed that "[the terrorists] hate us for our freedoms" - well congratulations for fixing that problem.
 

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What I don't get is why no legislatures really stood against it. One guy in Oregon talked about it and Rand Paul just wanted to make sure gun records were harder to get at.

The guy in Oregon says that the government interprets the law differently and classifies this interpretation. Scary.
 

Blind_Io

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Can anyone explain why the extension is a good thing?

What conditions will exist when it can be discontinued?

Because since 9/11 we have created what is now called the Security-Industrial Complex (supplementing the previously existing Military-Industrial Complex). A great deal of our economy is now spent on security, such as TSA, new NSA buildings (like the data center to be built here in Utah), Fusion Centers, law enforcement, surveillance (both man-hours and equipment), and hundreds of other items. Everything is either employing someone or being purchased from the private sector. Private "security forces" (mercenaries) are now being employed at embassies where US Marines and the State Department once provided security and are deployed to war zones around the world. We sell arms, information, intelligence systems, we bribe warlords with millions in hard cash.

In short, it is going to continue for the same reason that everything else does: Money.

The only time it will stop is when there is no longer a way for someone to make a buck off it. Do you really think that pot-smokers have been thrown into the same category as terrorists because they are a threat? Of course not, it's because police departments and the DEA want a piece of that big National Security Money-Pie. It's a feeding frenzy right now with every agency, department and company even remotely related to security trying to get their piece and others creating companies just to get in on the money before it's gone.
 
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