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E.O. 12333: End-Running the Fourth Amendment

By: Monday September 22, 2014 10:14 am
Ronald Reagan

Most collection of U.S. domestic communications and data is done under E.O. 12333, signed by Ronald Reagan

Historians of the Constitutional Era of the United States (1789-2001, RIP) will recall the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, the one that used to protect Americans against unreasonable and unwarranted searches.

The Supreme Court had generally held that searches required a warrant. That warrant could be issued only after law enforcement showed they had “probable cause.” That in turn had been defined by the Court to require a high standard of proof, “a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place.”

The basic idea for more or less over 200 years: unless the government has a good, legal reason to look into your business, it couldn’t. As communications changed, the Fourth evolved to assert extend those same rights of privacy to phone calls, emails and texts, the same rules applying there as to physical searches.

That was Then

It was a good run. The Bill of Rights was designed to protect the people from their government. If the First Amendment’s right to speak out publicly was the people’s wall of security, then the Fourth Amendment’s right to privacy was its buttress. It was once thought that the government should neither be able to stop citizens from speaking nor peer into their lives. Folks, as our president now refers to us, should not have to fear the Knock on the Door in either their homes or The Homeland writ large.

In Post-Constitutional America (2001-Present), the government has taken a bloody box cutter to the original copy of the Constitution and thrown the Fourth Amendment in the garbage. The NSA revelations of Edward Snowden are, in that sense, not just a shock to the conscience but to the concept of privacy itself: Our government spies on us. All of us. Without suspicion. Without warrants. Without probable cause. Without restraint.


Flood Wall Street Actions Come After Massive Climate March

By: Monday September 22, 2014 9:08 am

While Sunday saw a massive march against climate change with an estimated 300,000 people attending, today activists are participating in Flood Wall Street under the slogan “Stop Capitalism. End the Climate Crisis.” The direct action campaign will target the New York Stock Exchange with a flood of activists engaging in a sit in to shut down the area.

Flood Wall Street activists claim on the website the reason for the act of civil disobedience is to “confront the root cause of the climate crisis – an economic system based on exploiting frontline communities, workers and natural resources.” Thought NYPD tolerated the climate march it seems unlikely the Flood Wall Street activists will receive the same response. Activists gathered in Battery Park this morning and are preparing to launch the sit in at noon, New York time.

The activists plan to wear blue to symbolize the ocean which, if climate change continues unabated and sea levels rise, may literally flood Manhattan on day.

Goldman Sachs Admits Paying Bribes To Gaddafi Regime

By: Monday September 22, 2014 7:10 am

Goldman Sachs.svg

In court documents Too Big To Fail bank Goldman Sachs has admitted to paying bribes to the government of Muammar Gaddafi in order to gain access to Libya’s sovereign wealth fund. The information came to light from a lawsuit filed in London against Goldman Sachs by the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA).

LIA accused Goldman of doing what Goldman is always accused of doing – screwing their clients while enriching themselves.

According to LIA, Goldman put the fund into a $1 billion worth of losing trades while Goldman pocketed $350 million in profit. While this corrupt behavior is standard Goldman Sachs practice and so common as to almost not be news worthy, something in court documents caught the eye of the Financial Times. Goldman revealed some of the tactics the firm uses in gaining clients.

Goldman Sachs has admitted in court documents to having used small gifts, occasional travel and an internship to cement its ties with Libya’s sovereign wealth fund under Moamer Kadhafi, the Financial Times reported Saturday…

According to details provided in January by the High Court, the fund claimed that senior bankers — including a former Goldman vice-president, Youssef Kabbaj — tried to influence LIA staff with small gifts and a trip to Morocco.

Gifts, internships, trips – sounds a lot like what JP Morgan is doing in China. Meritocracy indeed. Of course, as the banksters are well aware, this behavior is illegal under US law given it violates the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Will prosecutions be coming? Don’t hold your breathe.

So yet more evidence that the banksters are above the law and are willing to do any favor, for any gang, as long as it makes a buck. How terrible it would have been if these banks had been allowed to fail after destroying themselves through reckless greed and fraud. Think of all the poor foreign officials who might have missed out on some nice bribes.

Over Easy: Monday Science

By: Monday September 22, 2014 6:31 am

Fukushima Update. And we must not forget our OWN Fukushima, Hanford.

The Roundup

By: Monday September 22, 2014 5:45 am

- President Barack Obama wants to push for a ban on travel for any foreign fighter engaging in war

- If nations do not coordinate with one another to contain the Ebola virus, then the “window of opportunity” will close forever

- Thomas Frank: “In Brownbackistan, everything is awesome! And don’t let any liberal tell you different”

- Jacob George, a former veteran and anti-war activist, committed suicide; Tragic news highlighting the necessity to provide support for those at risk.


By: Monday September 22, 2014 1:30 am

You would think after all these years of being demonstrably dishonest and the worst liars in Washington — which is a title like being the worst racist at a Klan rally — the CIA’s credibility would be somewhat suspect. Get a load of this one: Stung by the backlash over a German caught selling secrets [...]

Late Night: Sam Wang, the KRS-One of Election Prediction

By: Sunday September 21, 2014 8:00 pm

Professor Wang is the KRS-One of election prediction. In a just world, he would have already been allowed to end the careers of the various hacks out there. But since the hacks are getting good money for telling stories their patrons like to hear, the hacks will still be hacking long after the 2014 election is in the can.

Are Privacy Concerns Generational?

By: Sunday September 21, 2014 6:55 pm

On Monday I came across a post at Techdirt about the reaction to Apple putting a U2 album in iCloud users’ storage space. The post described how after a backlash, Apple created a bit of code that would allow iPhone users to delete the unwanted freebie.

A bit of background: On September 9th, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that the mega-band U2 decided to release its latest album free on iTunes…

O: Five things you need to know about ISIL — and many questions unanswered too…

By: Sunday September 21, 2014 5:45 pm

Is this the only approach? We’ve heard this before, and to date it has not worked (See failed states). What are the alternatives? What was considered, and by inference what was not considered?

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