Wednesday, June 28, 2006

And the Lord will not hear You on that Day.

My great aunt was probably the last true American. She took heart-felt umbrage when banks first had the gall to install security cameras, back in the early ‘60’s. “I don’t want anyone spying over my shoulder when I’m about my private business,” she said. It is a measure of how far we have sunk to a level lower than chickens that my great aunt’s notions strike us, not simply as quaint, but as alien.

Those were the days when Americans held to strange notions like “going about your private business in public.” If your business was private -- which it invariably was -- then it was no body else’s business, not even the government’s -- especially not the government’s.

Those were also the days when people spoke of their bankers in much the same sense and tone that they spoke of their pastors or priests. The bank was where you confided your money and it was insulting, to say the least, that your fiduciary should treat you as some sort of common criminal afoot.

Those days have been swept into the dustbins of history thanks to a people hankering for "safety" and a judiciary whoring itself to executive power.

In California v. Greenwood (1988) 486 U.S. 35, the craven lickspittles on the Supreme Court held that my great aunt had no expectation of privacy in her garbage. Having deposited one’s garbage “in an area particularly suited for public inspection and, in a manner of speaking, public consumption,” a person “could have had no reasonable expectation of privacy in the inculpatory items that they discarded.”

Of course, they had no expectation of privacy in the non-inculpatory items either since a cop can’t tell which is which until he starts pawing through the mess. The court's toss-in of the word “inculpatory” was one of those slimy sophistical tricks courts resort to when they want to add some emotional weight to an otherwise shaky argument -- in this case, the helpful insinuation that the garbage owners were guilty criminals anyways and so we needn't focus to hard on a rummage-rule that applies just as much to the anyways innocent.

Behind obfuscations for the unwary, Greenwood explained that the true reason my aunt had no expectation of privacy in her garbage was that privacy was lost once the garbage was placed “at the curb for the express purpose of conveying it to a third party, the trash collector, who might himself have sorted through respondents' trash or permitted others, such as the police, to do so.”

Entrusting garbage, the Court intoned, was no different than dialing telephone numbers; and “we doubt that people in general entertain any actual expectation of privacy in the numbers they dial” (Smith v. Maryland (1979) 442 U.S. 735.) Say what ?? When was this!? 1979? Yep.

“All telephone users," the Court pronounced, "realize that they must ‘convey’ phone numbers to the telephone company, since it is through telephone company switching equipment that their calls are completed.” Having “conveyed” their numbers a third party, one can hardly complain when the third party happily conveys it to a fourth party, (government cops), on request and without any warrant. After all, the court went on, “when he used his phone, petitioner voluntarily conveyed numerical information to the telephone company and ‘exposed’ that information to its equipment in the ordinary course of business. In so doing, petitioner assumed the risk that the company would reveal to police the numbers he dialed.”

In short, if you don’t want to be exposed, lock yourself in your closet.

The Smith and Greenwood cases stand for two inter related propositions. First, that you have no privacy when you “expose” yourself or your effects to public view; and, second, that you have no privacy in things you “convey” to others even if “the information is revealed on the assumption that it will be used only for a limited purpose and the confidence placed in the third party will not be betrayed.” Why throwing away a packet of old love letters is tantamount to reading them out loud in the park; and as for ringing someone up on a phone, well you might as well walk about naked. As for spy cameras in banks -- well if my great aunt did not want to be spied upon in public, she should have transacted her business by mail.....

But wait! Aren’t letters “conveyed” to a third party on the “assumption” that confidence “will not be betrayed”? Anyone who expects the Supreme Court to protect internet privacy or to prohibit the State Security Services from keeping track of international money wires, ought to check into a sanatorium to have his “assumptions” given the once over by men in white coats.

The underlying and truly stinking perversity of Smith and Greenwood is that they invert the positions of "free space" and "prisons". Your locked closet becomes the place where you are free to left alone; whereas out and open in public you are are subject to at will surveillance, just as if you were in prison.

Dissenting in Greenwood, Justice Brennan wrote, “Scrutiny of another's trash is contrary to commonly accepted notions of civilized behavior. I suspect, therefore, that members of our society will be shocked to learn that the Court, the ultimate guarantor of liberty, deems unreasonable our expectation that the aspects of our private lives that are concealed safely in a trash bag will not become public.”

Alas, the public was not shocked at all. For two months, Brennan wrote, “the police clawed through the trash that ...Greenwood left in opaque, sealed bags on the curb outside his home. Complete strangers minutely scrutinized their bounty, undoubtedly dredging up intimate details of Greenwood's private life and habits. The intrusions proceeded without a warrant, and no court before or since has concluded that the police acted on probable cause to believe Greenwood was engaged in any criminal activity.” But not a peep against this violation of privacy was heard -- not from our guardian press; not from an outraged people. On the contrary, in places like California, the people voted to overturn that state’s rule that a person’s garbage was private and beyond search absent a warrant.

Now, long after the ship has sunk, the New York Times reveals that the Government is keeping track of bank wire transfers made on what the high court will undoubtedly call "the open wires” of the telephone network. In the past several months, the press has also revealed, that the Government is keeping track of whom we mail, access or visit on the internet "highway". A feeble whine of protest arises from the so-called “liberal” flank of the political spectrum, while Thug Staat Bush and its congressional brown shirts go on word-punching offensives. Needless to say, the Times and its half-hearted allies will take all this lying down. They will palaver about the public’s right to know when they should instead excoriate the Administration and call for its impeachment en masse

The people's pipers in the press are at last getting around to questioning the so-called “excesses” of the Bush administration. But where were these folks when the Greenwood and Smith cases were handed down? In the modern world “excesses” do not happen overnight. Tipping thresholds may be reached at any moment; but modern states are huge multifarious bureaucracies. They move slowly and only after millions of memos have been written and thousands of regulations and practices put into place and practice. The destruction of our Liberties and the foundations of a police state began long ago with the Nixon Court.

For close to 40 years, repulsive creepy crawly creatures like Injustice Rankquist have been at work in the dank and dark gnawing away at the Bill of Rights and giving the State the “tools” it needed to “protect us” from crime, drugs, pornography, and now “terrorists”. Where was the press before? Where was there an outcry as, case by case, the courts drove a thousand cuts into the Bill of Rights, while a slithering Congress aided and abetted this real treason by establishing secret courts, national security exceptions and a plethora of other state privileges. Oh... no doubt the Times deemed those stories to be news “fit to print” on some back page crowded into the left margin by trendy Bloomingdale ads; but what was evidently not fit was any manifestation of outrage. Certainly nothing that would have given a voice to my aunt.

My great aunt stood with the Founders of the Republic, because she, like them, was able to see the principle involved in small things. That capacity is something lacking from the over-paid, self-adulating, pea brains in the U.S. press. It is also something lacking from a public whose only principles of action are its gluttonous wants and concocted fears. And extensive industries exist to feed both.

In a few days, we will all be subjected to nauseating spectacles of Amurkans indulging their “freedom” and “independence.” By now chronically obese denizens will drag their larded bodies to the Washington Mall to listen to loud, trashy, music and to hear Hollywood’s bimbettes du jour squeal about our great land, our great this-n-that and our great everything. The participants will hug their perpetually “at risk children”, gush over our "valianservicemenanwimin” and puff up their sagging bellies to make like a chest while they sing about living in the land of the brave. And they will do all this once they have been granted access to the fenced-off public mall after being frisked, searched, scanned, and identified by armed safety thugs in state employ.

It would be sad were it not so revolting. In the end, history will shed few tears for this country's last generations who, like the Romans of yore, have become a nation of slaves while thinking they were masters of the world.

© WCG, 2006

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Pentagon palavers “Risk” to Oil Supplies

The Financial Times reports that a Pentagon study decries the “risk” to oil supplies presented by Ibero-American “nationalism”. According to the military’s risk mavens, this risk can only be allayed by a change in the “investment” climate.

Translation: if Bolivia and Ecuador and Mexico own their own oil, that presents a risk that needs to be changed by our owning it.

Anyone still wonder why the U.S. is loathed by the peoples of hispanic America?

By the way, Mexico has owned its oil since 1938 when it was nationalized by Pres. Cardenas. Has the flow of Mexican oil to the U.S. been “at risk” for all these 60 years?

©WCG, 2006

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Results are More to the Point than Plans

At a 9/11 conspiracy conference being held in Los Angeles, Webster Tarpley, author of 911 Synthetic Terror; Made in USA, said the September 11th attacks were "state sponsored, false- flag terrorism" designed by rogue CIA elements as a pretext to turn the United States into a police state.

What is indisputable, at any rate, is the result and the result is not less reprehensible because it may have been a reaction instead of a plan. Dramatically horrorific as the attacks on the WTC were, they were mere pin-pricks in comparison to other acts of unprovoked or unbridled agression that have stained history. It was hardly surprising that a global power should get punched up now and again. While any attack on the WTC certainly warranted a response, it did not warrant the deconstruction of civil rights and freedoms.

©WCG, 2006

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Supreme Court Drives Dagger into Corpse of Fourth Amendment.

In a 5-4 decision, with Justice Scalia in the lead, the Republiscam majority of the Supreme Court held today that non-compliance with constitutional “knock notice” rules did not require suppression of subsequently seized evidence. In practical effect, this means that Murkans have now attained the same status as Iraqis under U.S. liberation.

A little background for those who may have been ignoring the Fourth Amendment for the past decade or two. The amendment requires a judicially issued warrant before government agents can forcibly enter your home, make a mess of it, and seize what they say is evidence of a crime. After all, we all can remember the melodramas of Wehrmacht soldiers stomping around in hobnailed boots, kicking down doors, and we wouldn’t want that in God’s Country now, would we?

As ancillary to the warrant requirement (have-warrant-can-enter), the high court held, in Wilson v. Arkansas, (1995) 514 U. S. 927, that police are also required to knock and give notice of their entry before kicking in doors. The reason is as simple as it is obvious: a warrant to search for evidence of crime is not a license to act like a thug. For this reason, the Court has held that the “reasonableness” of a search and seizure depends as much on the “method of an officer’s entry” as it does on the grounds for entering at all.

As most people have heard, at least from the raving hysterics on Fox News, a violation of the Fourth Amendment requires suppression of the illegally seized evidence. This has been the rule since Weeks v. United States, (1914) 232 U. S. 383. The reason is also as simple as it is obvious: Why have a constitution at all if it can be violated with impunity?

The Constitution requires a president to be 36 years of age when elected. If a 12 year old were elected would it be so absurd to say he should be excluded from taking office? What is not constitutional simply ought not to be, and ought not to be recognized “in contemplation of law” as the quaint but incisive phrase used to have it.

However, in the 1960’s, when the high court was all gaga with this thing called sociology, it invented more scientific sounding reasons for the exclusionary rule. It held that exclusion of illegally seized evidence was required because by loosing otherwise good evidence, cops would be taught an object lesson in good behavior. The prospect of loosing their case because they failed to comply with the constitution would act as an incentive to follow the law.

Of course not only is that sort of heteronomous reasoning a lot of stuff and nonsense, it is also a sword that cuts both ways. Needless to say court conservatives, in lockstep with their boys-in-blue, were quick to argue that evidence should be suppressed only “where its remedial objectives” would be “most efficaciously served,” United States v. Calandra, (1974) 414 U. S. 338, 348) and “where its deterrence benefits outweighed its ‘substantial social costs.’” (United States v. Leon, (1984) 468 U. S. 897, 907.) What these marbles in-the-mouth meant was that if judges could think of some plausible sounding reason why cops did not need to have their knuckles wrapped, the evidence need not be suppressed.

So now we come to today’s decision in Hudson v. Michigan (June 15, 2006) No. 04–1360. Looking to maximum efficaciousness, the Republiscam majority held that suppressing evidence on account of police failure to give knock notice was outweighed by the “social costs” of doing so.

Hudson was not a case involving terrorism. Why it was not even a case involving code purple Kiddie Porn. It was a garden variety drug seizure case. If the social costs of loosing a routine drug case outweigh unconstitutional behavior, it is hard to see what kind of misbehaviour the cops have to commit in order to warrant a constitutional sanction.

The majority was evidently troubled by the subjectivity of this how high is too high approach; and so it fashioned a test which was just as bad. It held that evidence should not be suppressed unless the illegality complained of was the “but for” reason for the seizure. In plain language, if the cops lied in order to get the warrant and if the warrant was the basis for seizing the evidence, then the exclusionary rule would take effect. On the other hand, if the police used a SWAT team to blast away the front of a house as the method for serving the warrant, that misbehaviour would not call for a constitutional sanction. How the warrant is served is something different from why the warrant was served, and the Bill of Rights protects only the “why” not the “how”. At least, thus sprach Scalia.

Every day, Iraqis are subjected to having their homes burst into without so much as a knock... at least not that kind of knock that doesn’t come from the heel of a boot. Without an effective deterrence on thug-behaviour, Murkans can expect little more from the Kevlar Boys patrolling their streets.

But not all hope is lost. The Republiscam majority did continue to recognize that the primary reason for the “knock notice” rule “is the protection of human life and limb, because an unannounced entry may provoke violence in supposed self defense by the surprised resident.” Supposed? There is little to “suppose” about a smashing sound at the door. The court recognizes that people who smash down doors court the risk of being blown away by people on the other side who have a natural, human and constitutional expectation of security in their own homes.

©WCG, 2006.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Meanwhile Back At Camp I-Rock

Marines held a hoot n' hodown singing and laughing over their exploits in wasting iraqi women and children. According to BBC News (14 June 06), a video of the performance was posted on the web. Needless to say, the Marine Korps was investigating....

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Will Any Senator speak out against Torture?

The world cries out in protest against US brutality at Guantanamo, but Congress lies supine and silent.

Dear Senator,

In March of 2004, before the Abu Ghraib scandal broke, I wrote you a letter calling your attention to the abuse of detainees at Guantanamo. I noted that information leaking out from the camp plus reports of attempted suicides coupled with the officially admitted facts and decrypted government double-talk, all pointed to the conclusion that people who had never be shown to be guilty of anything were being institutionally and routinely abused and tortured.

Since then you have said nothing... not even on your web site, not even read into the Congressional Record at 3.45 a.m. The International Red Cross has broken its 100 year tradition of non-comment and has condemned the mistreatment of the Guantanamo detainees; but you have said nothing. The United Nations has called for the closure of this infamous torture center; but you have said nothing. Our own and only ally in this sordid affair has called for the release of the detainees; but you have said nothing. Attorney General Lord Goldsmith has condemned the illegality of the detentions; but you have said nothing. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, scores of NGOs, legal organizations and the Holy See itself have cried out against the infamy taking place at Guantanamo; but you and your supine colleagues in Congress have remained silent.

It now turns out that after five long years of degradation, torture and hopelessness three detainees have committed suicide; and, in a shocking statement that bespeaks the moral putrefaction that rots throughout the United States Government, Rear Admiral Harris has dismissed these suicides as “acts of war.” The Government has called them a “PR” move that shows “no regard for life”. The depravity and perversity of these remarks is without rival in the annals of history, except perhaps for the SS guards who may have laughed at Auschwitz prisoners who electrocuted themselves on the barbed wire while trying to escape.

Suicide horrifies because it goes against the most fundamental grain of all living things, which is to live. Suicides are not “playing games” nor are they “attacking” anyone. They are simply and pathetically ending a life that has been filled only with the certainty of pain and despair.

As the Vatican statement reminds us, even criminals and even enemies are human beings that warrant fair and humane treatment. Even more, detainees who have never been charged must less shown to be guilty of anything.

Ignoring these fundamentals of decency, the United States tortures people to suicide all but openly in the global forum. It does so indifferently to the universal outcry against it. It shrugs off the suicides with a moral depravity and lack of humanity that is beyond belief.

When are you and your supine colleagues going to show some impulse other than craven ambition and political cowardice? When will you recover a sense of shame? When will rise up and speak out against the depravity of this Administration and the culture of thuggery that has seized Washington?

©WCG, 2006