Monday, October 10, 2011

US "Justice" Ascends to a New Height of Idiocy

Most Americans do not realize that they belong to a rogue state. Not only does the US indulge in "extraordinary rendition", it also has secret courts with secret decisions and secret measures which individuals can't talk about.

Here is a bit from a Wall Street Journal article mentioning the unmentionable:
The U.S. government has obtained a controversial type of secret court order to force Google Inc. and small Internet provider Inc. to turn over information from the email accounts of WikiLeaks volunteer Jacob Appelbaum, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Sonic said it fought the government's order and lost, and was forced to turn over information. Challenging the order was "rather expensive, but we felt it was the right thing to do," said Sonic's chief executive, Dane Jasper. The government's request included the email addresses of people Mr. Appelbaum corresponded with the past two years, but not the full emails.

Both Google and Sonic pressed for the right to inform Mr. Appelbaum of the secret court orders, according to people familiar with the investigation. Google declined to comment. Mr. Appelbaum, 28 years old, hasn't been charged with wrongdoing.

The court clashes in the WikiLeaks case provide a rare public window into the growing debate over a federal law that lets the government secretly obtain information from people's email and cellphones without a search warrant. Several court decisions have questioned whether the law, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, violates the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Jacob Appelbaum's case demonstrates that in the US one can be deemed "innocent" but still be subjected to arbitrary detention at the pleasure of the government. Worse, there can be secret restrictions on the mentioning of any "measures" taken against this innocent person by the security organs of the state. Such are the black arts of "legalized" by the US's Patriot Act.

From Wikipedia:
  • In a resolution passed on June 29, 2005, they stated that "Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act allows the government to secretly request and obtain library records for large numbers of individuals without any reason to believe they are involved in illegal activity."

  • Secret Service jurisdiction was extended to investigate computer fraud, access device frauds, false identification documents or devices, or any fraudulent activities against U.S. financial institutions. [Funny, the $13 trillion fraud by US financial institutions isn't covered and the US Justice department has shown no interest in investigating those frauds despite the fact that it has deprive life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness from 25 million unemployed, 8 million foreclosures that removed homes from people, and the whole ugly mess of banks "managing" property titles outside the law and getting them so messed up that people without mortgages are being foreclosed by banks and have to fight to save their homes from seizure by banks with no rights to the homes!]

  • In 2004, FBI agents used this provision to search and secretly examine the home of Brandon Mayfield, who was wrongfully jailed for two weeks on suspicion of involvement in the Madrid train bombings. While the U.S. Government did publicly apologize to Mayfield and his family, Mayfield took it further through the courts. On September 26, 2007, judge Ann Aiken found the law was, in fact, unconstitutional as the search was an unreasonable imposition on Mayfield and thus violated the Fourth Amendment.

  • In 2005, Library Connection, a nonprofit consortium of 27 libraries in Connecticut, received a National Security Letter (NSL) from the FBI, along with its accompanying perpetual gag order, demanding library patrons’ records. George Christian, executive director of Library Connection, and three members of the executive committee of the board engaged the ACLU to file suit to challenge the constitutional validity of the NSL. Because Section 505 of the USA PATRIOT Act, which authorizes the FBI to demand records without prior court approval, also forbids, or gags, anyone who receives an NSL from telling anyone else about receiving it, they also challenged the validity of the gag order. For almost a year the ACLU fought to lift the gag order, challenging the government’s power under Section 505 to silence four citizens who wished to contribute to public debate on the PATRIOT Act. In May 2006, the government finally gave up its legal battle to maintain the gag order. On June 26, 2006, the ACLU announced that, after dropping its defense of the gag provision accompanying the NSL request, the FBI abandoned the lawsuit entirely. The Connecticut Four were honored by the ALA with the 2007 Paul Howard Award for Courage for their challenge to the National Security Letter and gag order provision of the USA PATRIOT Act. The Connecticut Four are: 1. George Christian, executive director of Library Connection 2. Peter Chase, vice president of Library Connection, director of the Plainville (CT) Public Library, and chairman of the Connecticut Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee 3. Barbara Bailey, president of Library Connection and director of the Welles- Turner Memorial Library in Glastonbury, Connecticut 4. Jan Nocek, secretary of Library Connection and director of the Portland (CT) Library. In a summary of the actions of the Connecticut Four and their challenge to the USA PATRIOT Act, Jones (2009: 223) notes: “Librarians need to understand their country’s legal balance between the protection of freedom of expression and the protection of national security. Many librarians believe that the interests of national security, important as they are, have become an excuse for chilling the freedom to read.”

  • Another controversial aspect of the USA PATRIOT Act is the immigration provisions that allow for the indefinite detention of any alien whom the Attorney General believes may cause a terrorist act. Before the USA PATRIOT Act was passed, Anita Ramasastry, an associate professor of law and a director of the Shidler Center for Law, Commerce, & Technology at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle, Washington, accused the Act of depriving basic rights for immigrants to America, including legal permanent residents. She warned that "Indefinite detention upon secret evidence — which the USA PATRIOT Act allows — sounds more like Taliban justice than ours. Our claim that we are attempting to build an international coalition against terrorism will be severely undermined if we pass legislation allowing even citizens of our allies to be incarcerated without basic U.S. guarantees of fairness and justice."
It is interesting to note that Obama who ran on a platform of "transparency" and "accountable government" has happily continued the Bush-era trampling of human rights and the extension of secret government. Obama has pushed into new areas by putting in place laws that more savagely deal with whistle-blowers who try to identify abuse of power by government!

If you wish to read about the abysmal trampling on human rights by the US government, read the Wikipedia entry for Maher Arar. Just one of many Canadian citizens subjected to state terror, torture, and high-handed illegal treatment by the US. The Canadian government has publicly apologized to Maher Arar and given him C$10.5 million to compensate for the severe trauma and injuries he suffered at the hands of the US and its third-party torturers. An innocent man was whisked off a flight and held in secret for 374 days. So much for "justice" from the US. The courts are a mockery in the US since Maher Arar can't get his case heard in the US. The US refuses to give him "standing" before the courts to even hear his case!

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