After years of secrecy, the National Security Agency’s phone records surveillance program had its day in open court on Friday, as civil liberties lawyers asked a federal judge in New York to shut it down, and government lawyers claimed ordinary Americans cannot legally challenge it.
Department of Justice attorney Stuart Delery said ordinary Americans have no standing to challenge the collection of their call records. Citing a 1979 Supreme Court ruling, he said Americans have no reasonable expectation of privacy for those records, and that only phone companies can challenge their collection.
No telecommunications firm has ever fought an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees the NSA program and is closed to the public.
U.S. District Court Judge William H. Pauley III questioned Delery, however, on whether all members of Congress were aware that the Patriot Act was used to support such a far-reaching program. Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), the original author of the act, claimed in a brief to the court that he never envisioned the law as a way to sweep up every phone record. It appears many members of the House of Representatives, meanwhile, were uninformed about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s interpretation of the law when they voted on its reauthorization in 2011.
The ACLU’s lawsuit is one of the most prominent of the legal efforts to stop the call records program, along with a suit by conservative lawyer Larry Klayman in Washington District Court and a request by the Electronic Privacy Information Center to have the Supreme Court consider the program on an emergency basis. The center’s request was turned down Monday.
In the waning weeks of its current session, Congress is also considering various proposals for the call records program that either shut it down or enshrine it in law.
» Petition: Remove In God We Trust from US Currency!
The United States was founded in 1776, and for 180 years our country’s motto was “E Pluribus Unum,” which is Latin for “Out of Many, One.”
In 1956, our national motto was changed to “In God We Trust,” in a knee-jerk reaction against ‘godless communism.’ That, and the addition of “under God” in the Pledge of allegiance a few years earlier, were moves made in an attempt to link patriotism with religious piety, to distinguish us from the Soviets.
But here’s the problem - The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment clearly states:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
By changing our motto and pledge to include the Judeo-Christian concept of God, we blatantly ‘respected’ the Jewish and Christian establishments - a clear violation.
By signing this petition on the official White House website, you can help let our politicians know that being patriotic and being religious are two separate things entirely. Our founding fathers clearly desired separation of church and state - and to include the Judeo-Christian concept of God in such a way is unacceptable.
Do You Like Online Privacy? You May Be a Terrorist
A flyer designed by the FBI and the Department of Justice to promote suspicious activity reporting in internet cafes lists basic tools used for online privacy as potential signs of terrorist activity. […] In fact, the flyer recommends that anyone “overly concerned about privacy” or attempting to “shield the screen from view of others” should be considered suspicious and potentially engaged in terrorist activities.
Viewing any content related to “military tactics” including manuals or “revolutionary literature”is also considered a potential indicator of terrorist activity. This would mean that viewing a number of websites, including the one you are on right now, could be construed by a hapless employee as an highly suspicious activity potentially linking you to terrorism.
However, many of the activities described in the document are basic practices of any individual concerned with security or privacy online.
From the flyer itself, suspicious persons are people who:
- Are overly concerned about privacy, attempts to shield the screen from view of others
- Act nervous or suspicious behavior inconsistent with activities
- Are observed switching SIM cards in cell phone or use of multiple cell phones
- Travel illogical distance to use Internet Café
(Wow this targets just about every socially anxious, poor, overloaded, or private person ever.)
And activities on computer indicate:
- Use of anonymizers, portals, or other means to shield IP address
- Suspicious or coded writings, use of code word sheets, cryptic ledgers, etc.
- Encryption or use of software to hide encrypted data in digital photos, etc.
- Suspicious communications using VOIP or communicating through a PC game
(Guess I’m a terrorist now for using KeyScrambler or LastPass, or for only talking to people in games we happen to share.)
And they use computers to:
- Download content of extreme/radical nature with violent themes
- Gather information about vulnerable infrastructure or obtain photos, maps or diagrams of transportation, sporting venues, or populated locations
- Purchase chemicals, acids, hydrogen peroxide, acetone, fertilizer, etc.
- Download or transfer files with “how-to” content such as:
- Content of extreme/radical nature with violent themes
- Anarchist Cookbook, explosives or weapons information
- Military tactics, equipment manuals, chemical or biological information
- Terrorist/revolutionary literature
- Preoccupation with press coverage of terrorist attacks
- Defensive tactics, police or government information
- Information about timers, electronics, or remote transmitters / receivers
(A tip for the future: Don’t use Internet Cafes if you are on vacation or lost, want news, need help with something you’ve purchased or something you use at work, need to buy something for the farm…)
» Women Being Treated Like Cattle in Illinois
From CREDO Action:
"Just weeks after a similar bill in Virginia was altered in the face of a national outcry, the Illinois House of Representatives is now considering a bill that would coerce women into undergoing an invasive and medically unnecessary procedure known as a transvaginal ultrasound as a part of "informed consent" before having an abortion.1 At their own expense.
Tell your Representative to vote NO on HB 4085. Click here to send a free fax.
We’re asking all of our members in Illinois — whether their representative is pro-choice or anti-choice — to send this message to their legislator.
Anti-choice legislators who support this bill need to know that their constituents will hold them accountable for their vote. And pro-choice legislators are under tremendous pressure from the right wing — they need to be able to say constituents are overwhelmingly supportive of their decision to vote against this bill.
Your Representative needs to needs to hear from as many constituents as possible that any legislation that attempts to coerce women into having an invasive and medically unnecessary ultrasound before having an abortion should be defeated.
If this legislation — offensively named the “Ultrasound Opportunity Act” — passes, any woman who refuses to take the state up on this invasive ultrasound “opportunity” has to do so in writing, on a state-provided form that would then be collected and stored by the state. And the state would require clinics and physicians to track and report the number of women who refuse to be violated by the state before having an abortion.2
Fierce opposition is what helped change a similar bill in Virginia, and fierce opposition is what is needed here. Tell your Representative to vote NO on HB 4085. Click here to send a free fax.
This anti-woman bill has already passed the Illinois House Agriculture Committee. Yes, you read that right — the Agriculture committee, because apparently the supporters of this legislation are so regressive in their thinking that they believe they should treat women like cattle. A vote could happen in the full House as early as next week, so we only have a short window of time to flood the House with the message that HB 4085 must be defeated.
This bill is nothing more than another attempt by anti-woman extremists in the states to make it harder for women to access abortion services. If this bill successfully passes the Illinois legislature, other states will be encouraged to begin to introduce equally reactionary bills. We can’t let this legislation pass and set off a chain reaction around the U.S.
Tell your Representative: vote NO on HB 4085.
Click below to send a free fax to your Representative:
Thank you for standing up for women’s health.
Ali Rozell, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets
1. “Illinois Anti-Abortion Bills Approved By State Agriculture Committee Over Pro-Choice Groups’ Protests," Joseph Erbentraut, HuffingtonPost.com, 2/24/12.
2. Full text of Illinois HB 4085”
These are all samples from things I have heard (mostly Republicans) say.
You know, not to invoke Godwin’s Law or anything, but, Hitler didn’t like intellectualism either. And right that he didn’t, because we wouldn’t want the citizens to wise up or anything, hm?
Keep ‘em stupid, keep ‘em working drones for their entire lives. Nobody will dare defy you. Kind of a bad thing when people, grown men, are taken seriously when they make intelligence and education out to be a bad thing like a bunch of fucking high school football goons.
With only three votes against it in the house, #Occupy and TeaParty are now on the verge of being illegal!!
Latest From the Hill: Congress Criminalizes the Right to Free Assembly; Strips Basic Protections of First Amendment
Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011 – Amends the federal criminal code to revise the prohibition against entering restricted federal buildings or grounds to impose criminal penalties on anyone who knowingly enters any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority. Defines “restricted buildings or grounds” as a posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area of: (1) the White House or its grounds or the Vice President’s official residence or its grounds, (2) a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting, or (3) a building or grounds so restricted due to a special event of national significance.
If the authorities were to say, state that Wall Street is grounds of national significance (say, for the economy), everyone can get rounded up and arrested if they so chose to march down to the NYSE. Or hell, occupy battery park or whatever. There’s no real limit as to what’s a special event or grounds of national significance.
Not even that, but also in front of the White House, in any major urban park, or whatever!
Only Obama can decide whether or not to veto or sign this proposal into law!
Just for a reminder of what’s at stake:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The Constitution of the United States of America
September 17, 1787
If so, DAT POLICE STATE
haha OH WOW
Okay, fucking seriously. Prohibiting people from approaching governmental buildings.
Obama, I ask you, is this what Doctor King would have wanted? And let it be known I never invoke that name lightly.
» Your Truth Team tipsheet
Hi so I signed up for the “Truth Team” thing by Obama’s campaign. Mostly to get in on the shits and giggles of seeing bullshit pointed out. Kind of like Mitt Romney screwing up by talking about American-made and hometown pride and driving around in an imported fucking car. The point of the Truth Team is to combat lies being perpetuated by opponents but I’m using it to have a laugh at the staggeringly stupid levels of hypocrisy I’m going to be shown. Of course if someone asks me about a thing I will do as the point is and tell them the truth, yeah, but, I think it’s more fun to yuck it up.
At the end of this there was an ad for Obama-themed St Patrick’s shirts because Obama has Irish blood in him (like pretty much every other fucking American LMFAO). But yeah I hate St Patrick’s Day so SKIPPING THAT…
So anyway here’s what they sent me:
"Welcome to the Truth Team tipsheet. You signed up to be part of the team that fights back, and there’s no time to waste.
This is the first of regular updates we’ll be sending with actions you can take immediately to help support the President — to debunk false attacks and make sure folks hear about what we’ve accomplished.
Here’s how it works: We’ll round up the best of our posts and turn them into short items, with
Facebook and Twitter buttons [links] after each so you can instantly share them with friends and family as you go down the list. [Also, the links in the items have Twitter, Email, and Facebook buttons.]
Read through this week’s news, then do something about it:
#1 ROMNEY FLIPS ON EARMARKS
This morning, Mitt’s up with a new ad in Michigan slamming Rick Santorum for supporting earmarks. The thing is, before he ran for president, Mitt Romney was a pretty big fan of earmarks himself. In 2002, he requested “hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid” for the Salt Lake City Olympics. He did it as governor of Massachusetts for the Big Dig project too, saying “I’d be embarrassed if I didn’t always ask for federal money whenever I got the chance.” Call him on his hypocrisy while the story’s still breaking:
[No fucking surprise here because these pseudo conservatives just LOVE to waste taxpayer money on patriotism (and Christian-oriented) shit.]
#2 SANTORUM’S BIG BUDGET PLANS
This week, after President Obama released his 2013 budget plan, Rick Santorum called it “preposterous, not only in overall funding but in priorities.” But a closer look at Santorum’s plan shows he’d cut taxes for the wealthy, raise taxes for some families with children, and slash Social Security and Medicare under the “Cut, Cap, and Balance” plan. Here’s the best part: Santorum’s plan won’t balance anything — it actually adds to the deficit. Preposterous, indeed. Fight back:
(No surprise here either, not that I’m inherently supporting Obama’s plans over everyone else’s, but, these guys are bought and paid for by corporations, so obviously they give breaks to CEOs. Speaking of which, did Obama end the Bush tax shit or not? I can’t remember. If he hasn’t that’s hypocritical of him as well.)
#3 RUBIO’S CONTRACEPTION PLAN
In response to President Obama’s decision that all women should have access to contraception, free of cost, Senator Rubio introduced a bill that would let any organization, religious or not, sidestep this rule, putting a woman’s access to contraception at the whim of her employer. His solution for women who still would like it? Pay for it themselves, or find somewhere else to work. Folks need to hear what the GOP’s trying to do. Pass it on:
(lol so like instead of repealing what Obama put forth we’ll just paint over it?? Yes we need to waste more paper. No I’m not going to point out the obvious bullshit of trying to stop contraceptive care in the first place because it’s been beat to death. Just laughing at the paper olympics.)
#4 “LET DETROIT GO BANKRUPT”
When it comes to the auto recovery, Romney and Santorum continue to argue that a “managed” bankruptcy would’ve been better. Romney’s famously said “Let Detroit go bankrupt,” and Santorum would’ve preferred an industry “meltdown.” This week, GM posted its largest profit in its history, and last month, it reclaimed its title as the “World’s Largest Automaker.” 1.4 million jobs were saved under the auto recovery. They’re refusing to admit that the recovery’s working, and it’s time to call them on it. Show that we will:
(While I agree that the government shouldn’t be bailing large swaths of people, if I recall the auto industry did repay all its loans and yes it is doing just fine. However whether that’s due to the bailouts or not is arguable I would guess, but regardless they’re completely fine and maybe a meltdown might’ve taken them longer to bounce back from than a simple loan.)
And now for Good News…
#5 KEEPING HIS WORD ON HATE CRIMES
As a senator, Barack Obama co-sponsored hate crime legislation because he believes that “…nobody in this country who should suffer violence because of who they are, what they look like, what they believe in, what faith they worship.” As President, he kept his word, signing the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act to strengthen protection against crimes based on race, color, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, or gender. This is a promise kept. Spread the good news:
(Okay this one’s just stupid because he did that a long fucking time ago so you know he can’t cling to that. There’s not a lot of promises he’s kept and while it’s understandable that he’s had a lot of shit to go through uhm there’s no doubt he’s been pussyfooting around other related issues like DADT, ENDA, SNDA, and DOMA. He also promised, like Bush, to formally and politically acknowledge the Armenian genocide, if I recall correctly, and he has yet to do so.)
#6 RECOVERY ACT ANNIVERSARY
Three years ago today, President Obama signed the Recovery Act into law. Since then, more than 70,000 small businesses were able to receive loans to get started or stay on their feet. We put together a short video on the story of Bill, one business owner who has benefited from the Recovery Act. Pass it on:
(Eh no still don’t like government loans. The loaning business is a tricky one and can hurt a lot of people and lose a lot of money. What should be done instead is regulations to keep regular loaners from scamming people, not risking taxpayer money in investing in small businesses that may or may not make it. Or, hey, have the option to donate to a specific grant, instead of doing it mandatory, that way people can choose what business to participate in loaning to and the only people risking their money are people who choose to do so and choose how much.)
Every day from now until November, there will be misleading news stories, attacks, and flat-out lies about the President’s record. It’s our job set to them straight — and nothing works better than the truth, backed by sound sources.
Fight back by spreading the word today.
Until next time,