‘Warrant? You Don’t Need To See No Stinkin’ Warrant. Cuff Her!’

The police department in a small Texas town is backpedaling on the actions of two officers who arrested a local woman simply because she asked to see an arrest warrant before they attempted to apprehend her juvenile son for an undisclosed alleged crime.

On May 29, in Slaton, Texas, a small town just southeast of Lubbock, a woman knew police would probably come to talk to her about an undisclosed criminal complaint against her 11-year-old. She was also pretty sure that they would try to arrest him.

The woman told MyFOX Lubbock she didn’t have a problem with any of that. She just wanted to see the warrant for her son’s arrest before the police attempted to apprehend him at their home. So when they showed up, she asked.

That must have rankled the police, according to the woman’s account of events.

I told him, “I will release my son to you upon viewing those orders.” Those were exactly my words…He [the officer] said, “This is how you want to play?” He took two steps back, turned around to the officer and said, “Take her.” They turned me around, handcuffed me and took me in.

So the mom spent the night in jail. The son stayed at home. The mother arranged for another adult to stay overnight at the house with her son, figuring that police would get a warrant and return to apprehend him. But they never came back.

He told me it was their duty to come pick up my son…Yet, I had someone stay the night at my house. They never came back that evening, they never came to pick up my son, or do what they told me they were there to do in the beginning.

After her release the next day (presumably because the cops had no reason to charge her with a crime in the first place), the police department offered the family an apology — on the condition they’d agreed not to sue the Slaton Police Department.

Family attorney Dwight said that’s an absurd proposition for obvious reasons.

“This occurred on May 29 when they went out to apprehend this young man,” he said. “The directive to apprehend was not signed until May 30, which is another indication that they didn’t have the authority to go out and arrest him or apprehend this young man… If she [the mother] moves out of Slaton and tries to find a job elsewhere, you can Google her name, and at that point, the arrest, my guess is, is going to show up.”

The mother added: “I’ve never been in trouble, in 32 years of my life, from anything, and to get thrown in jail because I asked a question is not right.”

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Article has been edited from original. –BL

Your Medical Info Now A Matter Of Government Trust Under Obamacare

A detailed set of guidelines explaining how State and Federal agencies will determine patient eligibility for Obamacare coverage was released late last week, and it authorizes government at all levels to pass around your personal medical information, as well as share it with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The guidelines call for local and Federal agencies to share patients’ sensitive medical information in order to vet anyone signing up for insurance under State-run “health care exchange” networks, ostensibly to determine which kinds of coverage they’re eligible for, and to make sure they’re enrolling at least for minimum coverage.

Since 2003, that kind of information sharing has been something for which hospitals and private insurers have had to show justification and, in certain instances, obtain patients’ permission, under the Title II “Privacy Rule” of HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. The new Obamacare guidelines essentially add multiple layers of Federal and State government to the list of entities that can share information.

And, unlike hospitals and insurers have had to do under HIPAA, Obamacare has no provision requiring government agencies to seek your permission before obtaining information about your medical history, lab work, history of insurance coverage and payment for medical bills.

The IRS will also have to have access to this information for the 2013 fiscal year (and beyond), in order to determine whether to penalize you for not enrolling in a coverage program and to enforce Obamacare for those who do participate in coverage through a State-managed exchange network.

That kind of access, particularly in the wake of unresolved scandals revealing a little of the IRS’s proclivity to corrupt manipulation at the hands of politicians in Washington, D.C., troubles a handful of Congressmen convinced that government is too big and too pervasive in Americans’ private lives.

Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner noted Monday that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has promised the government will only use patients’ personal information to help assess which Obamacare coverage is right for new applicants. But that’s a matter of faith, not law. And these days, everyone trusts the disgraced and discredited Federal government, don’t they?

The new ruling surprised some congressional critics. “This sounds as if HHS will have access to protected health info to me,” said one top Hill aide worried about how well the administration will protect that information.

Conservative groups like Americans for Tax Reform have raised questions about the release of PHI [Personal Health Information] in the aftermath of the IRS scandal.

Look closer at how HHS justifies its mandatory (under Obamacare) intrusion into patients’ privacy, and you’ll find the same smug, condescending paternalism, cloaked in the sort of Kafkaesque jargon liberals employ to conceal from their constituents the fact that they’re no smarter than anyone else, that defines the character of the Administration of President Barack Obama.

Essentially, HHS has the right to dip into your data because A) it’s the law, now; B) it’s the only way the government can become a player in the information cycle that, until now, has worked just fine without the government; and C) you’re accepting the devil’s bargain assistance of a government program (Obamacare), so you have to let us know you’re holding up your end of the generous bargain that’s been forced upon you by the Feds. (Now you know what it feels like to be a U.S. State.)

“The exchange would submit specific identifying information to HHS and HHS would verify applicant information with information from the federal and state agencies or programs that provide eligibility and enrollment information regarding minimum essential coverage. Such agencies or programs may include but are not limited to Veterans Health Administration, TRICARE, and Medicare,” said the new rule, which HHS is seeking public comment on.

“HHS will work with the appropriate federal and state agencies to complete the appropriate computer matching agreements, data use agreements, and information exchange agreements which will comply with all appropriate federal privacy and security laws and regulations. The information obtained from federal and state agencies will be used and re-disclosed by HHS as part of the eligibility determination and information verification process,” added the rule.

Explaining the PHI release ruling, HHS said Obamacare “is a government program providing public benefits, is expressly authorized to disclose PHI…that relates to eligibility for or enrollment in the health plan to HHS for verification of applicant eligibility for minimum essential coverage as part of the eligibility determination process for advance payments of the premium tax credit or cost-sharing reductions.”

Home Birth May Be Safer Than Hospital Delivery, Says Study

A Dutch study has found that having a baby at home with a midwife is likely safer than going through childbirth in a hospital environment.

The study, which was released in English to LiveScience last week, examined the experiences of 146,000 women – 92,000 of whom delivered a child at home, while 54,000 gave birth at a hospital. It found that only one in every 1,000 mothers who chose home birth experienced serious delivery complications (like needing a blood transfusion) – compared with 2.3 complications per thousand for those who gave birth at the hospital.

Home births also produced a lower rate of less-severe complications (like postpartum bleeding or having to manually remove the placenta). In fact, the rate of postpartum hemorrhage for home deliveries was nearly half (19.6 per thousand) that of hospital births (37.6 per thousand).

The study group was composed of women whose risk for in-pregnancy complications was minimal, and the study doesn’t advise expectant moms to plan for a home birth if they’re bringing to term a pregnancy with aberrant complications.

It also speculated that statistics produced in the Netherlands, where home births are common, would favor the relative safety of home births there, since midwives are well-trained and integral to the Nation’s medical community.

UPDATE: Prosecutors Not Backing Down From Case Of West Virginia Eighth-Grader Suspended For NRA T-Shirt

A while back, we told you about a West Virginia eighth-grader who wore a National Rifle Association shirt to school and got suspended — and arrested — for peaceably refusing to take it off. He donned the same shirt on his first day back at school following the suspension, and bunch of his classmates who had in the meantime gone out and bought their own NRA shirts (evidently with support from their parents) welcomed Jared Marcum back to Logan Middle School by dressing in similar fashion. No one at the school tried to stop that show of support.

That was mid-April. Now, two months later, Jared has appeared before a judge to answer to an official charge of obstructing an officer. The 14-year-old faces a $500 fine and up to a year in jail after Judge Eric O’Brien allowed prosecutors to move forward with the case.

Police were called to the school in April, when a teacher noticed Jared’s shirt as he was waiting in the lunch line and unsuccessfully tried to get him either to turn the shirt inside out or change clothes. He chose suspension over either option, and told the police “I believe that I should have a right to wear this” shirt. Multiple reports allege that Jared never raised his voice or became combative during the incident; he just simply wasn’t going to take that shirt off.

At the time of the incident, the school’s dress code didn’t forbid the wearing of shirts that advocate for the 2nd Amendment, as Jared’s “Protect Your Rights” NRA T-shirt did.

“Every aspect of this is just totally wrong,” Jared’s father, Allen Lardieri, told WOWK-TV. “He has no background of anything criminal, up until now, and it just seems like nobody [adult] wants to admit they’re wrong.”

In a related weekend incident with national implications, there’s no word on whether this guy will face prosecution for Tweeting this inflammatory, violence-inciting depiction of “toy” guns, seen by millions of impressionable Americans:

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CREDIT: THE WHITE HOUSE

Or the unfortunate students at this school, all of whom obviously have dark ties with Mother Nature’s pro-gun agenda:

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CREDIT: FUNNY MEMES

Supreme Court Strikes Down Arizona Voter Law That Required Proof Of Citizenship

Proposition 200, Arizona’s 2004 law making it mandatory for would-be voters to provide proof of their citizenship, died before the U.S. Supreme Court today.

The Court ruled that Arizona does not command the jurisdiction to set requirements for voting in Federal elections. That jurisdiction, according to a 7-2 majority opinion, belongs to the Feds, as set forth in the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.

That law does require that voters provide a valid form of identification at their polling place, but it doesn’t require a proof of citizenship. The Arizona law had ordered the State’s poll workers to turn away anyone who didn’t accompany a valid ID with a recognized document proving their citizenship.

Arizona v. Tribal Council of Arizona, the lawsuit that landed the case before the Supreme Court, was originally brought against the State by a number of American Indian tribes with help from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), all of whom argued that Proposition 200’s additional documentation requirements discriminated against citizens whose ancestry made it disproportionately difficult and expensive to obtain documentation, such as birth certificates, that demonstrate citizenship.

The Court’s majority opinion also affirmed the groups’ argument that Congress, and not the States, holds the authority for regulating Federal elections.

Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas cast the two dissenting votes. Alito argued in his minority opinion that the Constitution tasks the States – and not Congress – with the authority to establish qualifications for voters, as well as to regulate Federal voter registration.

GOP Death Spiral; China Demands Answers On Web Spying; Big Sis Says Says Big Whoop To NSA Scandal; Digging For Hoffa; Composting – Bloomy’s New Nannyism: Monday Morning News Roundup 6-17-2013

Here is a collection of some of the stories that Personal Liberty staffers will be keeping an eye on throughout the day. Click the links for the full stories.

  • South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is saying the GOP is “in a demographic death spiral” that will jeopardize the party’s 2016 Presidential bid, unless it goes along now with immigration reform. He’s also predicting the current reform bill will pass the Senate with 70 votes. Source: CBS DC…
  • Big Sis says there’s nothing to see here: Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano weighed in on the National Security Agency intelligence leaks on Friday, saying that fears over government surveillance were overblown. Source: Politicker 
  • Spy vs. Spy: China made its first substantive comments on Monday to reports of U.S. surveillance of the Internet, demanding that Washington explain its monitoring programs to the international community. Source: Reuters… 
  • Acting on a tip, Federal agents are digging up a field today in Northern Oakland Township, a Detroit suburb, in hopes of finding the remains of famously disappeared Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa, who was last seen nearly four decades ago. Source: CBS Detroit
  • New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has a new fixation: composting. He’s piloting a new, voluntary residential trash-sorting program he hopes to make mandatory after a “successful” trial period. Source: New York Times…

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook. And follow our improved Twitter feed.

‘Kitty Heaven’: Ohio ‘Humane’ Officer Shoots Five Kittens As Kids Watch, Mom Pleads

A retired police sergeant now working part time as a humane officer for the City of North Ridgeville, Ohio, Police Department was dispatched last Monday to the home of a local couple who’d called to report a litter of feral kittens that had taken up residence in a woodpile in their back yard.

The woman who placed the call said the animals were a nuisance, bringing fleas and dead animals onto her property. Her husband also said the mother cat had been a nuisance for several years, but had grown especially fierce and protective of her litter and resisted his efforts to remove the kittens.

Like most people who call the humane society to remove feral dogs and cats, the couple assumed animal control would simply come and take them, leaving their fate to the vicissitudes of luck at the local shelter. They knew that some form of euthanasia would probably end their lives.

They weren’t expecting Humane Officer Barry Accorti’s brand of euthanasia, though.

Accorti responded at the residence, one of dozens of homes in a densely built subdivision just southwest of Cleveland. The mother and her four children were at home. The kids were upstairs as mom talked with Accorti outside. She told local TV station WKYC:

My heart breaks for my kids, and other kids who have to see this story. He told me the shelters were pretty much full and that they would be going to kitty heaven. My immediate thought was my kids who were upstairs seeing it. My 6-year-old came downstairs, and was crying, “Mommy, Mommy, he shot the kitty.”

The shooting took place right there on the property, just 15 feet away from a house where unprepared kids watched from the windows. The mom originally though the firearm Accorti had gone to his truck to retrieve was a tranquilizer gun. But when Accorti returned with a .22 pistol (not his Glock .45 service pistol) and allegedly told her he “wasn’t supposed to be doing this, but it was justifiable” before heading toward the woodpile, she understood what was going on.

The five 8- to 10-week-old kittens all died, but the mother cat fled.

After massive backlash, North Ridgeville Police Chief Michael Freeman issued a statement on the department’s Facebook page (which, though jammed with complaints and unavailable late in the week, was captured earlier by several online news outlets and humane groups). The statement explains the rationale for Accorti’s actions and finds no fault with them:

…The complainant explained she felt overwhelmed due to the fact that her children were inside the residence and heard the gunshots.

The complainant urged better communication in the future. NRPD recognizes the concerns of those who believe feral cats should not be killed for simply trying to survive but also acknowledges other research that recognizes the risks associated with these animals and the need to manage feral cats. Research and other animal organizations accept shooting as an acceptable means of euthanasia.

After visiting the scene, talking with the responding officer and re-interviewing the complainant, I have decided his actions were appropriate and have decided not to impose any disciplinary measures for the incident. We will talk with the humane officers about improving their communications with the public. We are here to help those who seek our assistance. Our agency prides itself on not telling people, “It’s not our problem or there is nothing we can do for you.” This would be the easy way out. To walk away and leave a safety issue unresolved is irresponsible. At no time does this agency condone or allow the indiscriminate killing of animals, but we will continue to assist residents when there is a safety or nuisance condition.

Shooting feral animals as a means of euthanasia is hardly a philosophical issue or policy quibble for many rural and suburban animal control departments. But doing so in a controlled environment — one in which the property owner and everyone occupying the property are informed and afforded an opportunity to keep a safe distance — is. These weren’t coyotes on someone’s back 40; they were kittens in a woodpile on a small lot in the middle of a dense neighborhood.

Accorti’s failure to offer any explanation for how he would proceed, coupled with the flippancy of his alleged “kitty heaven” remark (and his confession that he was about to step out of line) don’t factor into the department’s justification for his actions.

Accorti took Tuesday off following the shooting, but was back on the job Wednesday.

Losing Your Memory? Here Are Five Ways To Stay Sharp

How we live plays a big role in how well our memories function, especially as we begin to age. Thankfully, in many cases, it’s relatively easy to prevent or avoid many of the behaviors and choices that chip away at our cognition and ability to recall information, both recent and from the distant past. Here are some tips:

Eat Right

Researchers have found that simple-carbohydrate diets that are high in saturated and trans fats are bad for you in just about every way, and the effect of such unhealthy eating on memory isn’t an exception. Gravitate instead toward whole grains, complex carbohydrates and “good” fats (think unsalted nuts, avocado and salmon).

Sleep Enough

Sleep is restorative; a lack of sleep is destructive. The fascinating connection between insomnia and memory loss — among a host of other maladies involving the nervous system — is well documented. Part of the effect of insufficient sleep is secondary, as it results in a lack of waking focus and concentration. But getting too little sleep (or disrupted sleep that doesn’t adequately rest your body and mind) can also have a direct effect on memory loss, especially among the elderly.

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration or chronic under-hydration, like sleep deprivation, negatively affects memory more acutely as you age. The good news is that drinking more water is a simple fix. Even better, drinking plenty of water can actually reverse the effects of dehydration-related memory loss. The ongoing public discussion over how much water a person should drink is as divided as ever, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make a conscientious evaluation of whether you’re getting enough water. Try for eight cups per day or more, interspersed throughout the entire day. It’s an easy habit to pick up.

Don’t Smoke

This is the biggie. Unfortunately, the behavioral change that yields some of the biggest general health benefits is also one of the hardest to embrace, if you’re a habitual or addicted smoker. Memory (and other cognitive function) relies on an abundant supply of oxygen to the brain. Smoking not only constricts the blood vessels that supply oxygen to the brain, but it also introduces toxins like toluene that have their own directly detrimental effects on mental acuity and memory. A decline in the ability to recall names and faces has also been linked to smoking. There are a lot of smoking-cessation options out there, all with varying benefits and drawbacks, as well as a number of smoking analogues (like e-cigarettes) that are too new for researchers to have confidently assessed for their potential effects on long-term health. Whatever option you choose, though, the bottom line is simple: Quit.

Take Your Vitamins

A study of 700 people aged 60 to 74 revealed that, by taking folic acid and B12 supplements for two years, older people could improve their performance on both short- and long-term memory tests than a control group who took placebos. A lack of B12, in particular, can account for dramatic drops in energy, memory and other problems of the central nervous system. But people over the age of 50 who have a B12 deficiency have been shown to respond well to B12 supplements.

FBI Director Robert Mueller: I Dunno Which Of My Guys Is Investigating The IRS

Of all the cases the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is looking into, there’s probably not a higher-profile one than that of the Internal Revenue Service and its discriminatory election-year targeting of conservative nonprofit groups.

But when FBI Director Robert Mueller testified before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday, he seemed pretty uninformed about where the IRS investigation stood – even though it’s supposedly entering its second month.

Asked by Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) who the case’s lead investigator is, Mueller replied, “Off the top of my head, no.”

“It’s the most important issue in front of the country in the last six weeks, and you don’t know who’s heading up the case? Who the lead investigator is?” pressed Jordan.

“At this juncture, no, I do not know,” Mueller replied.

A legacy appointee of the George W. Bush Administration, Mueller was reappointed by President Barack Obama for a two-year extension beyond his present term, which was to have expired in Sept. 2011.

Bulldog Benghazi Reporter’s Computer Was Hacked At Height Of Libya Scandal – Was It The Government?

CBS News’ Sharyl Attkisson, one of the only mainstream media reporters who has relentlessly pursued the Administration of President Barack Obama for the truth behind its handling of the Benghazi, Libya, embassy attack, was spied on via her own computer before and during the period when the scandal (which is still a scandal) was at its height.

CBS News confirmed Friday that Attkisson’s computer was hacked, by “an unauthorized, external, unknown party on multiple occasions in late 2012.” The Benghazi attack, which claimed the life of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, occurred on Sept. 11.

Attkisson was already on the government’s radar for her dogged coverage of the Fast and Furious scandal, and has since found herself fighting an uphill battle to get the Obama Administration to respond to her questions, even as other reporters’ access to the White House remains unchanged. She told POLITICO last month that she already knew that someone was doing a sophisticated hack on her computers as early as February 2011, but CBS News didn’t confirm that assertion until revealing the results of a forensic investigation by an independent cybersecurity firm on Friday.

Neither Attkisson nor CBS News has yet put forward any speculation about what persons or agencies might be behind the spying. But the investigation found the third-party surveillance to be sophisticated:

Evidence suggests this party performed all access remotely using Attkisson’s accounts. While no malicious code was found, forensic analysis revealed an intruder had executed commands that appeared to involve search and exfiltration of data. This party also used sophisticated methods to remove all possible indications of unauthorized activity, and alter system times to cause further confusion. CBS News is taking steps to identify the responsible party and their method of access.

In its story, CBS News also mentioned last month’s scandal involving seizure of an ABC News reporter’s emails and phone records by the U.S. Department of Justice — and then said this:

To be clear, the federal government has not been accused in the intrusion of Attkisson’s computer; CBS News is continuing to work to identify the responsible party.

The FBI Can Pull Back Your Curtain, But Mosques Are Off-Limits

Ever since Islamic groups cried out against the FBI’s semi-successful surveillance into terrorist plots that emanated from mosques, the agency has been forced to turn its attention elsewhere in the ongoing campaign to uncover domestic terrorism.

In February 2011, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) joined the Council for American-Islamic Relations of Greater Los Angeles in filing a Federal class-action lawsuit against the FBI for infiltrating mosques in Southern California and allegedly gathering general information without probable cause.

Regardless of the merits of that suit, the backlash over the Southern California case had a subversive effect on Federal domestic surveillance policy. Later that same year, the Administration of President Barack Obama established a review panel within the Department of Justice called the Sensitive Operations Review Committee, effectively carving out special treatment for the religious, political, journalistic and academic spheres:

A sensitive investigative matter (SIM) is defined as an investigative matter involving the activities of a domestic public official or domestic political candidate (involving corruption or a threat to the national security), a religious or domestic political organization or individual prominent in such an organization, or the news media; an investigative matter having an academic nexus; or any other matter which, in the judgment of the official authorizing the investigation, should be brought to the attention of FBI Headquarters (FBIHQ) and other DOJ officials. (Attorney General’s Guidelines for Domestic FBI Operations (AGG-I Dom), Part VILN.) As a matter of FBI policy, “judgment” means that the decision of the authorizing official is discretionary.

Whether the FBI should be indiscriminately watching any individual or affiliated group is a matter for a separate article (indeed, we’ve written several of them), and recent scandals showing that the Nation’s vast enforcement empire is doing just that are both loathsome and alarming. But if Obama is going to watch most of us, it’s only fair (and makes a fair amount of sense) that he watch all of us.

The Tsarnaev brothers had ties to a Boston-area mosque that itself was linked to an assassination plot against a Saudi prince, teaches jihad against Zionists and Jews, and encourages the upheaval of Western values and institutions.

Even so, it was the mosque, and not the FBI, that revealed what it knew about the Tsarnaevs four days after the marathon bombing. Under the new Sensitive Operations Review guidelines, the FBI had been looking everywhere but mosques for Islamic terrorists. Regardless of whether this particular mosque did or didn’t help “radicalize” the Boston bombers, law enforcement would have had no way to investigate — until after innocent people were already dead.

University Asks: Who Need Guns On Campus When You Can Nod Your Way To Safety?

When the Arkansas Legislature passed a concealed carry law in April, it exempted schools from having to comply. That left university officials throughout the State in charge of deciding whether conceal carry is legal on campus, and many of them — including Arkansas State and the University of Arkansas — quickly banned it.

A lot of students and faculty are upset. “We just don’t understand how someone trusted to teach in a university and has also gone through the additional rigor to obtain a concealed handgun carry license environment cannot be trusted with their self-defense,” Mike Newbern, assistant director of public relations for Students for Concealed Carry, told Campus Reform.

One UA biology professor stressed the need for effective personal protection near and on campus by relating an anecdote that appeared in the Daily Caller:

I had not gone very far before I was attacked from behind by two of them and received a number of blows to the back of my head. Given the proximity to this campus and the fact that a number of our students, faculty and staff walk through this very same area on both a daily and nightly basis I felt it prudent to share this info with you and to advise you to be on your guard while in the vicinity.

An expert with the university’s Department of Public Safety offered an obvious solution for such scenarios: glance and nod at the thugs. “A glance or a nod will help you show anyone who might think that you are not paying attention, and you are aware of their presence,” wrote detective Sharon Houlette.

Obviously, the only way a glance will be effective is if you summon laser beams to shoot from your eyes. One commenter reading a report at The Arkansas Project urging students not to follow such stupid advice said this:

Are you out of your flippin’ mind? Who makes this stuff up. I have been in law enforcement for 30 years and it astounds me how some people make a living telling others to just be a victim.

If this were my daughter and someone told her to “nod” I’d tell her to file a formal complaint alleging “stupid in a public place.”

But if unarmed UALR students follow Houlette’s advice, at least they can die with dignity. The same can’t be said of students who matriculate in Colorado — who’ve been advised to greet attackers by convulsing, puking, peeing themselves and just generally acting like damn fools.

Bank Robbing Suspect Asks For NSA Record Of His Own Cell Data To Prove Innocence

It was just a matter of time before an enterprising defense lawyer would sink his teeth into the trove of private data the National Security Agency (NSA) has been secretly collecting on Americans.

Marshall Dore Louis, an attorney representing a Florida man accused of attempting to rob several banks, is calling B.S. on the prosecution’s claim that it can’t get hold of suspect Terrence Brown’s cellphone records because the company that provided the cell service had discarded them.

Louis argued Wednesday in a Ft. Lauderdale Federal court that the government must hand over its record of Brown’s phone metadata, since the information it contains could prove his innocence (since, apparently, the burden of proof is now falling on the defendant instead of the State) by placing him away from the crime scene.

“The president of the United States has recognized this program has been ongoing since 2006… to gather the phone numbers [and related information] of everybody including my client in 2010,” Louis argued, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

The presiding judge, U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenbaum, accepted the argument, but gave the State additional time to come up with a response.

Regardless of this case’s outcome, the precedent it sets could have immense nationwide significance.

“If the government is spying on our phone calls, it can’t then claim in the same breath that it won’t provide those calls when it helps the defense. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” said David Oscar Markus, an area defense attorney and legal blogger.

Washington, D.C., Cop Board Admits: We Need Retraining In 4th Amendment

The Washington D.C. Police Department’s board of police complaints issued a report Wednesday that recommends the city’s beat officers be retrained on when it’s legal to enter someone’s home without a warrant.

The report comes in response to a recent surge in the number of complaints the department’s received concerning officers illegally gaining entrance to residents’ homes without warrants or permission — a violation of 4th amendment limits on State searches and seizures.

According to The Washington Times, reports of illegal searches and entries make up 14 percent of the hundreds of complaints the D.C. police complaint board has received since 2009. It received 574 complaints in 2012 alone.

Sadly, though, the board doesn’t think the problem is systemic, saying only 12 of those complaints “raise valid concerns about unlawful entries into private homes.” Worse, Chief Cathy L. Lanier said the board’s findings, however meager, still aren’t lenient enough.

“The MPD [Metropolitan Police Department] most certainly supports all efforts to reduce incidences of police misconduct; however MPD believes the OPC [Office of Police Complaints] report inaccurately depicts a systemic problem, and that current policy and procedures are sufficient to prevent warrantless entries into private homes,” wrote Lanier in a response to the report.

More Americans See Snowden As Whistle-Blowing Patriot Than Traitor

A Reuters poll released Wednesday reveals more Americans look upon Edward Snowden, the former security contractor who leaked information about the National Security Administration’s PRISM Internet spying program to a British newspaper, as a patriot who did the right thing than as a traitor who deserves arrest.

The online survey asked 645 Americans three questions, with two pertaining to Snowden’s actions. One asked whether Snowden is a traitor or a patriot; the other whether he deserves to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for leaking classified information he believed endangers Americans’ freedoms. A third question sought Americans’ opinion about the PRISM program itself.

According to the poll, 31 percent of Americans say Snowden’s a patriot, with 35 percent feeling he doesn’t deserve to be prosecuted for sharing information about PRISM and other government surveillance dragnets with The Guardian. Only 23 percent said he’s a traitor, with 25 percent saying he should be prosecuted. Another 46 percent reserved judgment on the matter of whether he’s a traitor, with 40 percent saying they didn’t know whether prosecution is in order.

When it comes to PRISM, 37 percent said it’s completely unacceptable to indiscriminately and secretly spy on Americans’ online activities by tapping in to major Internet service providers’ servers without probable cause. Another 45 percent said such surveillance is warranted under certain circumstances. But only 6 percent said they didn’t object to the program at all.

Huckabee: Time For Churches To Give Up Tax-Exempt Status, Embrace Freedom

On Monday, former Arkansas Governor and Presidential aspirant Mike Huckabee brought a huge white elephant to the Southern Baptist Convention. When he got up to address the pastors who’d converged on Houston for the annual event, he forced everyone’s attention on it, telling the group of conservative religious leaders that churches should unilaterally agree to start paying taxes — and stop letting the Federal government tell them what to do.

Then Huckabee got on Twitter the next day and offered a powerfully distilled version of his argument:

Huckabee, himself the President of the Arkansas State Baptist Convention, explained in Houston that churches are easy fodder for the same kind of scrutiny the Federal government, using the enforcement and bureaucratic power of the Internal Revenue Service, wielded against conservative and Tea Party nonprofit groups.

“You may not clap real loud for this, but at least hear me out and think about it and pray about it,” he told the Baptist ministers:

I think we need to recognize that it may be time to quit worrying so much about the tax code and start thinking more about the truth of the living God, and if it means that we give up tax-exempt status and tax deductions for charitable contributions, I choose freedom more than I choose a deduction that the government gives me permission to say what God wants me to say.

…The recent revelations that the Internal Revenue Service has been targeting people of faith — people who are conservative, people who are pro-Israel – and have been picking out the parts of belief and speech and faith that government seems to approve and that which it doesn’t approve has brought up a very important reality that I think, sooner or later, as believers, we need to confront.

Back in 2007, when Huckabee was still in the hunt for the Republican Presidential nomination, he garnered a lot of Christian support. The IRS was all over it, making sure that no church-affiliated nonprofit organization of any kind was endangering its nonprofit status by officially endorsing him.

So far, there hasn’t been enough reaction to measure how Huckabee’s message will be received. Twitter has lit up with mostly positive endorsements of the idea from private individuals, but it’s tough to envision some religious leaders — who often work for organizations that have massive real estate holdings, service programs, schools and medical facilities — embracing either the messenger or the message.

The FISA Court Exists To Give The Government What It Wants

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) was born from Watergate. It was designed to place the government’s targeted surveillance of any “U.S. person” suspected of involvement with international terror organizations under Congressional and judicial oversight.

Under FISA, there were limits on how government could deploy surveillance against suspects inside the United States. Warrantless surveillance of a suspected terrorist in the U.S. who’s not an American citizen could go on for a year before the Department of Justice (DOJ) and related watchdog agencies like the National Security Administration (NSA) and FBI were forced to obtain judicial authorization. If the suspect was an American citizen, the DOJ had to get a court order within three days after the government began spying on him.

In 1978, the court that began giving out those permission slips was consolidated into a single, purpose-made entity: the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). Ever since, in order for the DOJ to obtain a FISA warrant, it has to submit a request to a FISC judge. Except when a third party files an amicus curiae brief objecting to, or supporting, the DOJ’s request, the Federal government is the only party before the judge. There are 11 FISC judges, but only one presides over each individual DOJ surveillance request. The public doesn’t see what goes on in the FISC deliberations. It’s a secret court. By law, its records and opinions can be kept secret.

FISA has become a rubber stamp for secret government surveillance of regular Americans, and the FISC has become a permission-slip clearinghouse. Since Sept. 11, 2001, “judicial oversight” has really meant “judicial blessing.”

The Administration of President George W. Bush had some rocky encounters with the FISC, largely because of media reports that outed the extent of then-Attorney General John Ashcroft’s surveillance ambitions. But Bush’s expansion of FISA powers with the Patriot Act, which amended the FISA Act to break down the standing distinction between “terrorist” and “criminal,” as well as the Republican-backed Protect America Act of 2007, which opened overseas communications to FISA’s spy scrutiny, gave the Federal government everything it needed to get away with indiscriminate, secret surveillance of just about everyone living in the United States.

The door was standing ajar, and Bush threw it wide open. Now, his successor, President Barack Obama, has blasted through it like the Kool-Aid man smashing through a brick wall.

Oh, yeah.

Ever since FISA was passed, the Feds have made 33,900 surveillance requests. They’ve walked away with nothing 11 times. They’ve succeeded 99.97 percent of the time in getting what they wanted. Said differently, the DOJ had all its ducks in a row 33,889 times in making a case for spying on someone — or on millions of people (what’s the difference anymore?) — before it approached FISC with a surveillance plan. That represents a sterling commitment to due diligence and development of probable cause on the part of the DOJ before submitting to the keen blade of judicial oversight. Right?

So said a former security lawyer under the Bush Administration, who told The Wall Street Journal that the DOJ rigorously vets its applications (like the one that created the PRISM program and secretly plugged into nearly every major online service provider in the country) before approaching FISC, hat in hand.

“We’ve got Congressional oversight and judicial oversight,” Obama said last week. “And if people can’t trust not only the executive branch but also don’t trust Congress and don’t trust federal judges to make sure that we’re abiding by the Constitution, due process and rule of law, then we’re going to have some problems here.”

If you believe that the Obama Administration — or that of his predecessor — has consistently been making sound Constitutional arguments that, on the merits, have persuaded one FISC judge after another to authorize PRISM, or the mass mining of cellphone metadata, or the DOJ surveillance of people before it even has a suspect (or a crime), well… you’ve been drinking the Kool-Aid.

Special Counsel Investigation Doesn’t Deter Obama From Nominating ATF Director; Senate GOP Outraged

President Barack Obama has nominated B. Todd Jones to fill a seven-year vacancy to direct the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), even though Jones is currently being investigated by the Office of Special Counsel of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) over allegations he retaliated against a whistle-blower when he was a U.S. Attorney in Minnesota.

Needless to say, Republicans in the Senate are angry. Senate Democrats are wanting to move ahead with Jones’ confirmation hearings — but GOP Senators are threatening to block the nomination.

“We’re left today to take Mr. Jones’s word,” said Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee. “We have no way of independently verifying what he says or ascertain the truth of the matter. It is unfortunate that we go ahead with this hearing before an open complaint is resolved.”

Grassley followed that up by calling on the committee to launch an investigation of its own into Jones’ alleged harassment of a Minnesota whistle-blower. Details about that case are scarce while the DOJ’s investigation is active.

Obama nominated Jones to head the ATF as part of his 23-item list of proposals to toughen gun laws after last year’s Newtown, Conn., mass shooting.

Obama Administration Sneaks 60 Percent Hike In ‘Social Cost’ Regulation Of Carbon Emissions

The Administration of President Barack Obama, acting through the U.S. Department of Energy, has just raised the so-called “social cost” of carbon emissions by 60 percent — and it did so by quietly piggybacking the change on a routine update to energy efficiency standards for microwave ovens.

Before the Obama-backed rate jump, the government had worked with a dollar value, pegged at $23.80 per metric ton of carbon emissions, to assess the relative costs associated with pollution and benefits of regulations to curb it. Under the new guideline, it’s now $38 per metric ton — a 59.67 percent increase.

The premise of even assigning a dollar value to the effects of carbon emissions’ “social cost” is founded on the theory of global warming, that floods and famines that damage property and disrupt markets are caused by man-made climate change. In other words, it’s government policy to regulate carbon emissions based on the idea that people are heating up the environment — and to exact a price from companies and people for contributing to climate change.

The furtive hike in the theoretical number, according to the Washington Post, “is more than an accounting change”:

Without much fanfare, the Obama administration has increased its estimate of the “social cost of carbon” — its tally of how much harm carbon emissions will cause. In essence, the White House is now saying that global warming will be more damaging than previously estimated, mainly because of new data on the effects of the rise in sea level.

…[T]he actual number used makes a big difference when administration officials tally up the costs and benefits of various regulations.

The Energy Department’s microwave rule offered the first glimpse of this. Under the old social cost of carbon, the microwave standards had an estimated $4.2 billion in benefits over the next 30 years. Under the new carbon numbers, the microwave rule has an estimated $4.6 billion in benefits.

This might sound like nitpicking. But many observers expect the Obama administration to propose a variety of new efficiency standards and pollution rules in the years ahead. So a small tweak could make a big difference.

By driving the “social cost” up, the Obama Administration is essentially stacking the deck in favor of more aggressive Federal laws regulating carbon emissions, while making it much harder for projects like the Keystone pipeline to receive Federal approval.

Buffalo Police To Army Vet: Oops, Wrong Apartment… Sorry We Killed Your Dog (Not)

An Army veteran who’d been living at the same Buffalo, N.Y., address for three years got home Monday afternoon to discover that someone had torn down the door, shot up the apartment, ransacked the place and killed his dog, Cindy, who was leashed in the kitchen.

Breaking and entering in broad daylight. Animal cruelty. Adam Arroyo appeared to have been the victim of big-city crime.

But wait — whoever it was had left a piece of paper behind, a note. Not a note, a warrant. It wasn’t robbers after all; this was all police work.

 

Army vet says police killed his dog

 

The guy the cops were looking for evidently lived around the building’s corner. He was being sought on suspicion of dealing crack cocaine. The two apartments are completely separate and have separate entrances. All the cops had to do before indulging their trigger fingers was double-check the clearly marked mailbox.

According to WKBW in Buffalo, Arroyo is an Iraq combat veteran who plans to become a member of the National Guard. He told the ABC affiliate he isn’t a drug user or a drug pusher.

“Never. Never. I don’t do drugs. I’m a United States veteran. I work every day. I’m just trying to live my life… For police to wrongfully come into my house and murder my dog… It wasn’t that they felt threatened. No. They murdered my dog. That was my dog, man. That was my dog. They didn’t have to do that, you know. They didn’t have to do that.”

Arroyo now has to pay to have his pet cremated. The door repair will come out of his own pocket. He’s also had to miss work.

The Buffalo P.D. suit who talks to the media trotted out the same stale, self-justifying nonsense you always seem to hear whenever police unload on dogs that aren’t a threat.

Spokesperson Michael DeGeorge said the police “don’t believe the dog was chained or leashed” at the time they burst through the door — even though that’s how Arroyo left his pet in the morning, and how he found her when he got home.

DeGeorge also said the department’s Internal Affairs division will investigate, but that the police (somehow) believe they got the address right.

Arroyo said he plans to press charges against the city.

Party Affiliation Taints Americans’ Views On Privacy, Civil Liberty

A poll released Monday shows more than half of all Americans think it’s acceptable for the government to secretly track their phone calls, if doing so keeps them safe from terrorism.

The poll, done by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, also shows that nearly half believe it’s also acceptable for the National Security Administration (NSA) to indiscriminately spy on citizens’ online activities using secret dragnets like PRISM — so long as it stands a chance of preventing domestic terrorist attacks.

Most Back NSA
Interestingly, the poll also showed that opinions about the President’s role in orchestrating warrantless spying on American citizens vary among Democrats and Republicans to favor whichever party holds power in the executive branch.

Partisan Shifts

In other words, more Democrats think the NSA’s doing the Lord’s work right now, because a Democrat is in the White House. Back in 2006, when the President was a Republican, Democrats hated NSA surveillance. The reverse, of course, holds true for Republicans, more of whom are now outraged by the PRISM scandal than by any NSA revelations or expansion that occurred during the Presidency of George W. Bush.

Youth apathy over the government’s sophisticated surveillance of the very technologies that young people consume en masse is, perhaps, the poll’s most jarring find. While a greater number of young people (though still fewer than half) take a principled stand in support of privacy than do the other age groups surveyed, they aren’t that interested in following specific news about PRISM, the NSA’s secret data mining of Verizon customers or the draconian Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act.

“As with most news stories, interest is far higher among older Americans than the young: one-in-three (33%) Americans ages 50-and-older are following news about the government tracking phone records very closely,” the poll states. “Among those ages 18-29, just 12% are following very closely, while 56% say they are not following closely at all.”

Taken together, the poll means that more than half of Americans are fine with Verizon’s setting up of a secret, dedicated fiber-optic line — one that runs from New Jersey straight to a military base at Quantico, Va., and allows the government access “to all communications flowing through the carrier’s operations center,” according to The New York Times.

So long as their party’s in control of the White House, Republicans or Democrats mostly view the President as a trustworthy custodian of such extraConstitutional powers.

And if those Americans are under the age of 30, most of them just don’t care.