Posts tagged ‘4th Amendment’

Assume The Government Is Run By The DMV or the Post Office

You need not suspect the motives of those responsible for NSA surveillance to detest what they are doing. In fact, we may have more to fear from spies acting out of patriotic zeal than those acting out of power lust or economic interest: Zealots are more likely to eschew restraints that might compromise their righteous cause.

For the sake of argument, we may assume that from President Obama on down, government officials sincerely believe that gathering Americans’ telephone and Internet data is vital to the people’s security. Does that make government spying okay?

No, it doesn’t.

Motives Aside, the NSA Should Not Spy on Us

Continue reading ‘Assume The Government Is Run By The DMV or the Post Office’ »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Big Brother Really Is Watching Us

Here’s a question I asked myself yesterday: Would I rather have my phone records collected and readied for possible inspection by the National Security Agency, or have my genitalia scrutinized by the Transportation Security Administration?

One answer, of course, is, why choose? In today’s America you can have both. [Ed. Is this a great country or what?!?]

How TSA’s Groping Softened Us Up for NSA’s Snooping

The 4th Amendment is an ancient memory, clearly an affectation among us hicks.

How many records did the NSA seize from Verizon? Hundreds of millions. We are now learning about more potential mass data collections by the government from other communications and online companies. These are the “details,” and few Americans consider this approach “balanced,” though many rightly consider it Orwellian.

These activities violate the Fourth Amendment, which says warrants must be specific—”particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” And what is the government doing with these records? The president assures us that the government is simply monitoring the origin and length of phone calls, not eavesdropping on their contents. Is this administration seriously asking us to trust the same government that admittedly targets political dissidents through the Internal Revenue Service and journalists through the Justice Department?


The country is in the very best of hands. Ai yi yi yi yi!

No one objects to balancing security against liberty. No one objects to seeking warrants for targeted monitoring based on probable cause. We’ve always done this.

What is objectionable is a system in which government has unlimited and privileged access to the details of our private affairs, and citizens are simply supposed to trust that there won’t be any abuse of power. This is an absurd expectation. Americans should trust the National Security Agency as much as they do the IRS and Justice Department.

Big Brother Really Is Watching Us: Monitoring hundreds of millions of phone records is an extraordinary invasion of privacy.

When British soldiers were roaming the American countryside in the 1760s with lawful search warrants with which they had authorized themselves to enter the private homes of colonists in order to search for government-issued stamps, Thomas Paine wrote, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” The soul-searching became a revolution in thinking about the relationship of government to individuals. That thinking led to casting off a king and writing a Constitution.

What offended the colonists when the soldiers came legally knocking was the violation of their natural right to privacy, their right to be left alone. We all have the need and right to be left alone. We all know that we function more fully as human beings when no authority figure monitors us or compels us to ask for a permission slip. This right comes from within us, not from the government.
. . .
And, of course, to prevent the recurrence of soldier-written search warrants and the government dragnets and fishing expeditions they wrought, the Constitution mandates that only judges may issue search warrants, and they may do so only on the basis of probable cause of crime, and the warrants must “particularly describ(e) the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Last week, we discovered that the government has persuaded judges to issue search warrants not on the constitutionally mandated basis, but because it would be easier for the feds to catch terrorists if they had a record of our phone calls and our emails and texts. How did that happen?
. . .
After 9/11, Congress enacted the Patriot Act. This permitted federal agents to write their own search warrants, as if to mimic the British soldiers in the 1760s. It was amended to permit the feds to go to the FISA court and get a search warrant for the electronic records of any American who might communicate with a foreign person.

In 30 years, from 1979 to 2009, the legal standard for searching and seizing private communications — the bar that the Constitution requires the government to meet — was lowered by Congress from probable cause of crime to probable cause of being an agent of a foreign power to probable cause of being a foreign person to probable cause of communicating with a foreign person. Congress made all these changes, notwithstanding the oath that each member of Congress took to uphold the Constitution. It is obvious that the present standard, probable cause of communicating with a foreign person, bears no rational or lawful resemblance to the constitutionally mandated standard: probable cause of crime.

The NSA Scandal Violates the Lessons of Our History and Our Constitution

Ozymandias.

Forward!

Unfortunately, it seems that the future Aldous Huxley predicted in 1932, in Brave New World, is arriving early. Mockery, truculence, and minimalist living are best, then enjoy the decline. However, we do need a Revolving Door Tax (RDT), learn what Members of Congress pay in taxes, and prosecute politicians and staff and their “family and friends” who profit from insider trading.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Resist Immigration Checkpoints Inside the U.S. – Truculence

Tags: , , , , , , ,

The police lie? Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

But are police officers necessarily more trustworthy than alleged criminals? I think not. Not just because the police have a special inclination toward confabulation, but because, disturbingly, they have an incentive to lie. In this era of mass incarceration, the police shouldn’t be trusted any more than any other witness, perhaps less so.

That may sound harsh, but numerous law enforcement officials have put the matter more bluntly. Peter Keane, a former San Francisco Police commissioner, wrote an article in The San Francisco Chronicle decrying a police culture that treats lying as the norm: “Police officer perjury in court to justify illegal dope searches is commonplace. One of the dirty little not-so-secret secrets of the criminal justice system is undercover narcotics officers intentionally lying under oath. It is a perversion of the American justice system that strikes directly at the rule of law. Yet it is the routine way of doing business in courtrooms everywhere in America.”

Stop-and-Frisk Watch App – MY ACLU

Numerous scandals involving police officers lying or planting drugs — in Tulia, Tex. and Oakland, Calif., for example — have been linked to federally funded drug task forces eager to keep the cash rolling in.
. . .
The fact that our legal system has become so tolerant of police lying indicates how corrupted our criminal justice system has become by declarations of war, “get tough” mantras, and a seemingly insatiable appetite for locking up and locking out the poorest and darkest among us.

Why Police Lie Under Oath

PoliceMisconduct.net – Cato

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness – Google Books


(Elizabeth Ritter and Coward County Sheriffs “Officers”)
Nothing to see here, move along.

Police Reform Organizing Project (PROP)

The Agitator – Radley Balko

[A]n innocent man was convicted of murdering a Brooklyn rabbi in 1990. Chaskel Werzberger, an adviser to the Satmar rebbe, was fatally shot by a would-be robber who stole his car while fleeing the scene of a bungled diamond heist. David Ranta, now 58, has been in prison since 1991 for the crime, based mainly on testimony from self-interested witnesses who later admitted they had lied and a detective’s uncorroborated report of a confession that Ranta has always denied making. Powell and Otterman report that “four of the five witnesses in the first lineup did not identify Mr. Ranta.” Furthermore, the eyewitness who should have gotten the clearest look at Werzberger’s killer, the diamond courier he tried to rob, testified at the trial that Ranta was “100 percent not” the right man. The jury evidently gave more weight to other witnesses, including one who was 13 at the time and now says a detective told him to pick Ranta out of a lineup.

In 1996, five years after Ranta began serving his sentence, a woman testified that her husband, an armed robber who was identified by an anonymous tipster as Werzberger’s killer shortly after the crime but died in a car crash a few months later, had confessed to her. But that was not enough to win Ranta a new trial. “I figured I was going to die in prison,” he told the Times. Since then, Powell and Otterman write, “nearly every piece of evidence in this case has fallen away,” including the testimony of a criminal who avoided a potential life sentence by claiming to have been Ranta’s accomplice. This week Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes, who was elected to his first term the year before Werzberger’s murder, announced that he was recommending Ranta’s release based on an investigation by a unit that Hynes created to uncover wrongful convictions. Powell and Otterman’s story shows how the pressure to solve a high-profile murder, a criminal’s incentive to lie in exchange for more lenient treatment, and a cop’s determination to convict someone he’s sure is guilty can combine to create a terrible injustice.

When a Cop Claims a Murder Suspect Confessed, Ask for the Tape

Photography is Not A Crime (PINAC)

Simple Justice – A New York Criminal Defense Blog

Bill of Rights card

Ozymandias

Mockery, truculence, and minimalist living are best, then enjoy the decline. We also need a Revolving Door Tax (RDT) and to prosecute politicians and staff and their “family and friends” who profit from insider trading.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Depositions in Congressional Testimony

Under certain circumstances, congressional committee staff members may choose to depose potential witnesses and scheduled witnesses. The purpose of such depositions is to gather information in order to prepare for a hearing. This is more common in investigative hearings.

Deposition
Creative Commons License photo credit: Vincent van der Pas

Formal in nature, such questioning of a witness is the equivalent of taking testimony in private. The deposition may be administered under oath and may also include advanced written questions as well as a full transcript. In most instances, deposed witnesses will be accompanied by legal counsel.

Any witness that is called for a deposition should ensure they have a clear understanding regarding the purposes as well as the authority for the deposition. It is often a good idea to consult legal counsel to obtain advice regarding the substance and procedure of the deposition. This will also help to ensure that the constitutional rights of the witness are protected. The practices of committees regarding depositions can vary significantly.

Witnesses who are called to testify before a congressional committee should fully understand that they have basic rights and protections provided under the U.S. Constitution and to rights provided under rules that are Testifying Before Congress, by William LaForgeadopted by the Senate and the House and their committees. Basic constitutional rights include First Amendment rights to free speech, assembly and petition; Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure to obtain documents or information; and Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. This includes protection against being compelled to provide testimony against oneself that might be incriminating.

Under House and Senate rules, added protections include the right to legal counsel, the right to have counsel present to provide legal advice, the right to request that television cameras be turned off, and, in some cases, the right to refuse to be photographed. In certain circumstances, witnesses may also have the right to request that hearings be closed.

The protocol regarding the use of legal counsel during a hearing falls within the purview of each individual committee. As a result, witnesses who would like to bring legal counsel to a hearing should first consult with the relevant committee staff. In most cases, legal counsel is not necessary, but when an investigative hearing is involved and when a witness has been subpoenaed or requested to submit to a deposition, legal counsel is more frequently involved.

To learn more about preparing to testify before Congress, consider attending TheCapitol.Net’s workshop, Preparing and Delivering Congressional Testimony, also available for custom, on-site training.

Reference: Testifying Before Congress, by William LaForge, Section 2.50 Depositions Conducted by Committee Staff, Section 2.51 Testifying under Oath-Sworn and Unsworn Testimony, Section 2.52 Rights of a Witness.

More

For more information about presentation and testifying training from TheCapitol.Net, see these resources:

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,