Archive for the ‘Bill of Rights’ Category

From my9NJ, last month:

shaneen allen pa nj

27 year-old Shaneen Allen wanted to protect her family. She took a gun safety course, applied for and was granted a concealed carry permit and she purchased a gun.

“One of my family members, he thought it was appropriate for me to get one because I’m a single mother and I have two children and I work two jobs and I work late and getting up at that time of night I got robbed twice last year and he felt the need for me to get my license to protect me and my kids,” Allen explained.

However, while Allen, from Philadelphia, was covered to carry a gun in Pennsylvania, she made the mistake of crossing into New Jersey with the weapon and now she’s facing a mandatory minimum of three-years in jail.

Allen said that she didn’t know her permit didn’t apply to New Jersey so when she was stopped for a minor traffic offense she told the police about her gun and her permit to carry. In this case, being honest may have cost her.

“The judge tried to tell me that telling the truth messed me up, my life up and the cop said the same thing. Me opening my mouth and speaking out he said I’m one out of ten people that spoke up and was honest and that got me in trouble,” she said.

She’s facing a lot of prison time for the mistaken assumption that she has rights:

After hearing about the case, most people thought there’s no way she would do time for an honest mistake. Well, yesterday she was in court and she can now face a maximum sentence of 11.5 years in prison. Ten years for possession of a weapon and another 18 months for possession of the bullets.

Hollowpoint ammunition is illegal in NJ.  Hollowpoints to NJ legislators are scary evil death bullets.  To those who understand how guns work, they’re effective at energy transfer and thus more effective at stopping threats to one’s life, and they also tend to not overpenetrate and are thus safer for anyone who might be standing behind a threat to someone’s life.

Allen’s attorney Evan Nappen discussed how a person with no prior offenses could end up spending a decade behind bars for being honest.

“New Jersey’s gun law is as unforgiving as a prosecutor or judge wants to make it. Either of those two, the judge or the prosecutor could have taken steps to relieve Shaneen from this situation, but it didn’t happen,” he said.

Nappen said that not only did the judge not dismiss the case, but the prosecutor will not allow her into a pretrial intervention to avoid jail time.

And now her life is being destroyed:

Allen is a single mother of two boys with no criminal record who was working three jobs at the time she was arrested. She said she got the gun to protect herself because she was working late nights. Now since the incident, Allen has lost her jobs, is in danger of losing her house and is struggling to support her family.

“I’m not even proven guilty and I have this hold on my criminal background right now and it’s stopping me from working. Every time they run it they’re gonna see pending or unlawful possession. I feel like I’m already made a criminal,” she said.

Her lawyer did make some good points and had no problem understanding that gun control has racist roots:

When asked for a comment on the case, Evan Nappen, Esq., stated, “New Jersey has a history of racist and sexist gun laws. Women are denied the means of self-defense against larger stronger men.”

New Jersey’s earliest gun laws banned Blacks and Indians from possessing guns. Apparently, not much has changed. End the madness. Pass the national carry reciprocity law in which gun licenses would be recognized by every state and be treated much like drivers licenses. No more innocent victims of New Jersey draconian, racist, sexist gun laws, that are out of step with the rest of America.”

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Now, let’s put this NJ obscenity in context of the Constitution:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

I must’ve missed the asterisk that adds *except in New Jersey, where the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall result in 10 years in prison for possession of arms and no less than 1 1/2 years for possession of ammunition for said arms.

Even with the Heller decision’s half-unconstitutional assertion that only arms in common use are protected (which is wrong and it’s wrongness is explained here), Shaneen Allen’s rights would still be inviolate.  The McDonald v Chicago and now Palmer v DC victories make it clear that you can’t have outright bans on possession of firearms or even carrying of firearms.  In no world does the right to bear arms mean you can’t bear arms.

otis mcdonaldOtis McDonald of McDonald v Chicago, to put a face with the name.

The NJ law is wholly unconstitutional, as it denies the natural right of self defense to people from outside the state (and inside the state, too).  If you’re a tourist in NJ, you’re either a criminal or a target.  If you’re a peaceable, peaceful citizen who’s working hard to obey laws, you’ll find yourself the target of the state and statist supporters who demand you be crucified in the name of hoplophobia.

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In contrast to the perpetual media stereotype, and interestingly if you’re on the left and don’t understand that gun rights are universal human rights for everybody, in the Chasing NJ video, it’s the heavyset white guy who’s defending Shaneen Allen, while the black woman demands she be made an example of because it becomes the responsibility of the “registered” gun owner to know every law that can be used against you, even if such laws cannot coexist with the Constitution.

The Constitution is the law of the land, so that argument should be moot to begin with, but assuming the Constitution has no weight in NJ (which apparently it doesn’t), then there’s still the idea that a loyal minion of the state must know all the laws.  I don’t think the black woman demanding Shaneen Allen be crucified has ever heard of laws like the Lacey Act, the Migratory Bird Act, or Wickard v Filburn, which are laws and rulings that mean a clever law enforcement officer could arrest her for the clothes on her back and make a charge stick based solely on the content of the cloth.

The law certainly could get her if she decided to have lobster for dinner one night, so anyone advocating the position that there should be radically different state laws – especially those that somehow operate in absurd violation of the Constitution – had best start getting reading.  “Ignorance is no defense” works if you have 10 or 20 or even 100 laws, not when you have thousands of feet of laws on bookshelves.

And unlike those examples, again, there also is not a specifically enumerated right in the Constitution specifically outlining that the pre-existing natural right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

If NJ were to treat the Thirteenth Amendment like they do the Second Amendment… well… actually things would be about the same for Shaneen, but for the woman in the media telling Shaneen she needs to go to prison for a decade things wouldn’t be so good.  She’d suddenly be wondering how she and Shaneen are being treated so poorly and not understand that it was her own desire to undermine the Constitution.

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Also, if NJ Governor Chris Christie wanted to be a serious candidate for president, Shaneen Allen would already be released.

But he’s a RINO who supports illegal aliens and more unconstitutional infringements on citizens’ rights.

It’s kind of a hassle to write about the NSA, because since Snowden started telling the world about the NSA’s “spy on everyone” PRISM program and other programs, there’s just so much to say.  It’s somewhat overwhelming to deal with the massive intrusion on American life and gross violations of the Fourth Amendment.

During the W. Bush tenure, Rumsfeld cited a series of terms to deal with levels of intelligence concerning Iraq.  There were known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns.  Known knowns are things you know.  Known unknowns are things you know that you don’t know – you may have vague notions but no specifics, or you may be unsure, but you’re aware there’s something that you don’t have full info on.  Unknown unknowns are things you aren’t even aware that you don’t know.

Rep. Bob Corker (R, TN) expains that congress doesn’t know what it doesn’t know:

“Every day there are stories… that are leaked out. The American people want to know that those of us who are elected, Eliot and I, understand fully what’s happening here. I don’t think we do. I would imagine there are even members of the intelligence committee themselves that don’t fully understand the gambit of things that are taking place. It’s our responsibility to know those things, to ensure they’re in balance, and I hope as soon as we get back there’ll be a full briefing from top to bottom so that can happen.”

Except that Congress wrote laws to make the laws secret.  Many congressmen aren’t even allowed to know about the secret courts, and those that are are legally bound to secrecy by laws they wrote.  So we have secret courts, secret agencies, secrets within secrets, and layers and layers of abuses of citizens’ privacy and other rights that we don’t even know about, because they made it secret.

The NSA is full of known unknowns – we know they’re spying, and unknown unknowns – how are they spying, on whom are they spying, why are they spying, what are they doing with it, and what else are they doing?

The Founders did not intend for one secret court to make one secret ruling that would abrogate millions of citizens civil rights.

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The most recent revelations come from the UK Telegraph (because American media won’t report on things unfavorable to Dear Leader Obama):

Staff working at America’s National Security Agency – the eavesdropping unit that was revealed to have spied on millions of people – have used the technology to spy on their lovers.

The employees even had a code name for the practice – “Love-int” – meaning the gathering of intelligence on their partners.

Dianne Feinstein, a senator who chairs the Senate intelligence committee, said the NSA told her committee about a set of “isolated cases” that have occurred about once a year for the last 10 years. The spying was not within the US, and was carried out when one of the lovers was abroad.

One employee was disciplined for using the NSA’s resources to track a former spouse, the Associated Press said.

Last week it was disclosed that the NSA had broken privacy rules on nearly 3,000 occasions over a one-year period.

John DeLong, NSA chief compliance officer, said that those errors were mainly unintentional, but that there have been “a couple” of wilful violations in the past decade.

Feinstein is the Senate Intel committee chair, so either she’s lying and knew about it, or she’s ignorant of what the NSA is doing, in which case either she’s incompetent or the NSA is lying to her, or both.

This needs to end.

Law enforcement officials who do things like run the license plates of cars next door to their houses if they think their spouses are cheating get fired for abuse of authority.  The NSA used super-secret spy equipment to track their lovers’ every move and they get to tell their overseers that it’s none of their business.

Not only is this an indictment of the agency as an unconstitutional, tyrannical Orwellian nightmare, it’s also an indicator of what the character of these people are and the character of their organization.  They aren’t just run-of-the-mill facebook stalkers, they’re willing to use spy satellites and electronic surveillance to watch your every move at all times.

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nsa overly attached girlfriend director

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Via HotAir:

While we’re watching government snooping expand from the NSA to the DEA, don’t forget the FBI.  CNet’s tech reporter Declan McCullough reported on Friday that the FBI has pressured Internet providers to install software that would allow the government to conduct real-time intercepts of Internet activity without notifying users, and claims that the PATRIOT Act requires their compliance:

The U.S. government is quietly pressuring telecommunications providers to install eavesdropping technology deep inside companies’ internal networks to facilitate surveillance efforts.

FBI officials have been sparring with carriers, a process that has on occasion included threats of contempt of court, in a bid to deploy government-provided software capable of intercepting and analyzing entire communications streams.

Comrade Major, I’d like four cups of tea, please.

Via Drudge, from CNET:

The U.S. government has demanded that major Internet companies divulge users’ stored passwords, according to two industry sources familiar with these orders, which represent an escalation in surveillance techniques that has not previously been disclosed.

If the government is able to determine a person’s password, which is typically stored in encrypted form, the credential could be used to log in to an account to peruse confidential correspondence or even impersonate the user. Obtaining it also would aid in deciphering encrypted devices in situations where passwords are reused.

“I’ve certainly seen them ask for passwords,” said one Internet industry source who spoke on condition of anonymity. “We push back.”

A second person who has worked at a large Silicon Valley company confirmed that it received legal requests from the federal government for stored passwords. Companies “really heavily scrutinize” these requests, the person said. “There’s a lot of ‘over my dead body.’”

Some of the government orders demand not only a user’s password but also the encryption algorithm and the so-called salt, according to a person familiar with the requests. A salt is a random string of letters or numbers used to make it more difficult to reverse the encryption process and determine the original password. Other orders demand the secret question codes often associated with user accounts.

That doesn’t fit with the document that created and governs government.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

They’re just ignoring the rules now.

All of the American people are Walter Sobchak right now, but the Obama government just keeps on spying.

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No relation to Kseniya Sobchak.

kseniya sobchak

From HotAir:

Last month I seemed to anger some of my regular correspondents when I asked why IRS worker Lois Lerner was able to employ the 5th Amendment in the way she had. I was bothered by the way she seemed to be benefiting from the “best of both worlds” in terms of dancing around the law while apparently flaunting the national interests her job would require her to support. I suppose the lawyers in the crowd have made their case well enough for now, but rather than dragging her into court, how about if we just fire her? That could be the result if a new proposed rule is put in place.

Alabama Republican Rep. Mo Brooks has sponsored legislation that would make refusing to testify in front of Congress a firable offense for federal workers, The Hill reported Thursday

The legislation is nicknamed the “Lerner” bill, after Director of IRS Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner, who plead the Fifth Amendment in front of a House committee on May 22 about her role in the IRS’s targeting of tax-exempt tea party groups.

A tool for termination already exists.  It’s called “lack of candor“.

The short version is that if you don’t answer questions about your own work duties and if you aren’t forthcoming about your own work, you get fired.  The government can’t afford to have someone who will withhold information and is untrustworthy.

Well, Obama’s IRS and EPA and DOJ and ATF can, but in most of the government, it’s still supposed to be treated as a bad thing.

A description and example from Tully Legal:

Appellate courts also take a hard-line stance with respect to lack of candor charges. As the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit explained in its 2001 ruling in Ludlum v. Dept. of Justice, lack of candor involves an employee’s “failure to disclose something that, in the circumstances, should have been disclosed in order to make the given statement accurate and complete.”

This charge should not be confused with falsification, which involves an “affirmative misrepresentation” and intent to deceive.

In Ludlum, the Federal Circuit affirmed an MSPB decision that upheld a lack of candor charge against an FBI special agent who was not completely forthcoming about how frequently he used his work vehicle to pick up his daughter from daycare. The case represents an all too common situation whereby federal employees engage in lack of candor when attempting to explain (or not explain) work-related situations tangential to their performance objectives in the workplace.

In the case of Lerner, she’s not answering a question directly related to her job from Congress.  If Joe the FBI Agent or Jose the USBP Agent or Jane the SSA Investigator did that, they’d have OIG on them in a heartbeat and be on their way out the door.  There’s no reason this law is necessary – the problem is the IRS again isn’t doing their job.  Whoever her superiors are should be crushing her right now, but they aren’t, because they’re just as corrupt and in agreement with targeting the Tea Party as a financial-warfare wing of the Democrat party.

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There’s also a special warning given for when federal employees are targeted and are obligated to speak due to their job, but still protected by the 5th Amendment.  It’s called Kalkines rights.

The Kalkines warning is an advisement of rights usually administered by United States federal government agents to federal employees and contractors in internal investigations. The Kalkines warning compels subjects to make statements or face disciplinary action up to and including dismissal, but also provides suspects with criminal immunity for their statements. It was promulgated by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Kalkines v. United States.[1] In that case, a federal employee was fired for not cooperating with an internal investigation. The Court of Claims found that the employee had not been sufficiently advised of his immunity to criminal prosecution, nor sufficiently warned that he would be fired if he refused to cooperate.

As a federal employee, a worker can be threatened with termination and might worry more about their job than jail.  The fedgov can and will lean on someone’s job if they suspect them of criminal activity, but Kalkines lets them know they don’t have to give up their 5th Amendment rights even though their job is being threatened.

It’s an important distinction to note that one can be both administratively looked at and criminally looked at; and makes the point so the employee knows where they stand.  It’s a rock and a hard place, but something they have to balance out.

When Lerner took the Fifth, she announced she wasn’t going to answer what happened at work, and violated her job.  She demonstrated lack of candor.  She can be fired right there for not doing her job.  Then she can plead the Fifth as a private citizen all she likes to avoid criminal prosecution.

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It’s no different than if she worked at McDonalds and was asked to explain why she got caught pissing in the soft drink machine.  Her boss can fire her right there, and she can plead the Fifth to the health inspector and the police about her attempts to poison the public.  If she works at a big police station as a concessionaire and pisses in the cafeteria soft drink machine, she doesn’t get to plead the Fifth and just keep pissing in the Coke.

From Pew Research, the idea that huge levels of government power are okay, as long as “my guy” is in charge:

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From HotAir, yet another reason to like Ike:

It’s not all swords and plowshares.  It’s the industrial-intelligence complex.

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Michelle Malkin highlights some crucial differences between Obama and Bush’s use of the NSA:

The Bush NSA’s special collections program grew in early 2002 after the CIA started capturing top Qaeda operatives overseas, including Abu Zubaydah. The CIA seized the terrorists’ computers, cellphones and personal phone directories. NSA surveillance was intended to exploit those numbers and addresses as quickly as possible. As a result of Bush NSA work,the terrorist plot involving convicted al Qaeda operative Iyman Faris was uncovered — possibly saving untold lives, not to mention New York bridges and possibly Washington, D.C. trains.

The Bush administration argued then that the NSA program that helped uncover the Faris plot was necessary because officials needed to act quickly on large caches of information, such as the data found after the Zubaydah capture in March 2002. Normally, the government obtains court orders to monitor such information from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. But the window of opportunity to exploit the names, numbers, and addresses of those associated with the top terrorist leaders was obviously small.

The differences between then and now are glaring.

The new Obama order covers not only phone calls overseas with the specific goal of counterterrorism surveillance, but all domestic calls by Verizon customers over at least a three-month period.

Trevor Timm, a digital rights analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, called the order “shockingly broad.”

“Not only are they intercepting call data into and out of the country, but they are intercepting all call data in the United States, which goes far beyond what the FISA Amendments Act allows,” Timm said.

“This is an abuse of the Patriot Act on a massive scale,” said Gregory Nojeim, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology. “Since the law requires that the telephone records sought be relevant to an investigation, it appears that the FBI and the NSA may have launched the broadest investigation in history because everyone’s telephone calls seem to be relevant to it.”

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A choice quote from California Democrat Congresswoman Maxine Waters:

Well, you know, I don’t know, and I think some people are missing something here.  The president has put in place an organization that contains the kind of database that no one has ever seen before in life.  That’s going to be very, very powerful.  That database will have information about everything, on every individual, in ways that it’s never been done before.

She’s talking about Organizing for America… but isn’t that peculiar?  Depending how tight your tin foil hat is, this is very odd.

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And what may prove to be very interesting – the CIA deputy director is leaving:

CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell is stepping down from his post and will be replaced by White House lawyer Avril Haines, the agency announced Wednesday.

CIA Director John Brennan said in a statement that Morell, a 33-year agency veteran, had decided to “retire to spend more time with his family and to pursue other professional opportunities.”

Note again that he’s being replaced by a lawyer, with no skills other than being a lawyer.

“Retire to spend more time with family” is the kind of thing you expect to hear when someone resigns as they know something bad is on the horizon.

I seem to remember hearing stories about General Ham and Admiral Gaouette saying they were retiring to spend time with family, too.

The NSA’s PRISM program that looks at Americans’ emails and online interactions and phone calls and basically every electronic communication made, has made the news in the last couple days after the story was broken by the UK Guardian (and it tracks credit cart transactions, too).

The best description has come from a whistleblower talking to the Washington Post:

Firsthand experience with these systems, and horror at their capabilities, is what drove a career intelligence officer to provide PowerPoint slides about PRISM and supporting materials to The Washington Post in order to expose what he believes to be a gross intrusion on privacy. “They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type,” the officer said.

Obama (after someone brought him what to say) has had to go so far as to deny spying on US citizens, which is a certain type of lie:

With 310 million people to listen in on, the government’s computers are doing the listening.  Then somebody listens later, as they’re storing all the data forever.

Even the leftist ACLU is coming out against Obama’s spying on US citizens.

Obama’s gone out to say that you just have to trust him, to trust the Great Leader, to make good choices for you.  The Constitution, which he routinely ignores, will somehow be used to keep this in check where we can’t see it, and we just have to trust the government – the same government which uses the IRS to target political enemies, spies on reporters and now on everyone, hushes up the deaths of ambassadors, and arms narcoterrorist cartels in Mexico.

But those who want coercive paternalism in government, a government that dictates to the people, are getting what they asked for.  And for those who truly love Obama (and a few who just love the power of the state), it’s a good thing that the government is spying on you.

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Remember this is what the liar said before he got into power, before he had the power to target his enemies with the IRS and track everyone with an intelligence system that was supposed to be used to track foreign communications, not domestic.

Everything he said was lip service or outright lies.  It was a way to condemn Bush because Bush actually tried to target terrorists, but by using surveillance tools many people were at best skeptical of.  Not because Obama disliked the power, but because he disliked the targets.

Obama has ignored the law when it was inconvenient for his entire term in office.  There are no national security letters, there is simply spying.  There is no more ignoring the law when it’s inconvenient, there’s ignoring the law always.  The Constitution does work, and he hates it, so he ignores it.  The law isn’t subject to the whims of stubborn rulers, it’s simply ignored as dictators do what they wish.  Justice isn’t arbitrary, it’s ignored.  Unless it’s social justice, which is just grievance-based violence given a thin veneer of civility.

He has stayed true to his claim that “violating civil liberties” isn’t the way to enhance national security, and he’s stuck with that.  He’s using violations of civil liberties for consolidation of power, not for national security.  It has nothing to do with national security, only political power and political security.

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Bush’s use of Joe Biden’s Patriot Act was intended to go after terrorists and used as such, but was overly broad and would be susceptible to abuse.  Liberals with their virulent hatred of Bush loathed the national security apparatus, because they project their own traits onto others.  As liberals would abuse power to target their political enemies, they believed Bush would use it to come after them.  It was easy for many to dismiss the liberal complaints, because Bush wasn’t going after them.

Problem was that it set up an apparatus for government to potentially or actually do things beyond the scope of the Constitution.  Bush could’ve, but pretty much didn’t.

Obama can, and does.

With laws extensive enough to ignore the Constitution or hide in secret where there would never be Constitutional authority to keep them in check, we lost the rule of law and ended up with the rule of men.  Bush was mostly benign.  Obama has been almost wholly malevolent.

Now that the left is in charge and has been for 5 years, they do have the tools to use against their political enemies, and they are doing so.  They are getting the big brother they wanted, and they are getting the control they wanted.

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As one last insult to the citizenry, because the government is totally unaccountable to the citizens it was created to serve, the “debate” will be in secret, too.

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As a note on the media, the NYT went out and condemned spying on US citizens, going so far as to say that Obama “has lost all credibility”.  But like the good minions of the left they are, they went out and changed that because they remembered they’re Obama’s minions.

The New York Times edited its damning editorial condemning the Obama administration for collecting phone call data from Americans to make it less stinging shortly after the editorial was published online Thursday afternoon.  …

NewsDiffs also showed that several other modifications had been made to the editorial, but none as significant as  its change to the originally broad condemnation of the Obama administration.

The leftist media will try to turn this into a good thing.  The media meme will be that he only spys on us because he cares about us, and he only beats us because he loves us.