Tag Archives | Constitution

The Feinstein Syndrome: ‘The Fourth Amendment for Me, But Not for Thee’

Diane Feinstein

Diane Feinstein

Who knows, soon we might see headlines and cable TV shows asking: “Is Dianne Feinstein a whistleblower or a traitor?”

A truthful answer to that question could not possibly be “whistleblower.” It may already be a historic fact that Senator Feinstein’s speech on March 11, 2014 blew a whistle on CIA surveillance of the Senate intelligence committee, which she chairs. But if that makes her a whistleblower, then Colonel Sanders is a vegetarian evangelist.

In her blockbuster Tuesday speech on the Senate floor, Feinstein charged that the CIA’s intrusions on her committee’s computers quite possibly “violated the Fourth Amendment.” You know, that’s the precious amendment that Feinstein — more than any other senator — has powerfully treated like dirt, worthy only of sweeping under the congressional rug.

A tidy defender of the NSA’s Orwellian programs, Feinstein went on the attack against Edward Snowden from the outset of his revelations last June.… Read the rest

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Big Brother’s Loyal Sister: How Dianne Feinstein Is Betraying Civil Liberties

Diane Feinstein

Diane Feinstein

Ever since the first big revelations about the National Security Agency five months ago, Dianne Feinstein has been in overdrive to defend the surveillance state. As chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, she generates an abundance of fog, weasel words, anti-whistleblower slander and bogus notions of reform — while methodically stabbing civil liberties in the back.

Feinstein’s powerful service to Big Brother, reaching new heights in recent months, is just getting started. She’s hard at work to muddy all the waters of public discourse she can — striving to protect the NSA from real legislative remedies while serving as a key political enabler for President Obama’s shameless abuse of the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

Last Sunday, on CBS, when Feinstein told “Face the Nation” viewers that Edward Snowden has done “enormous disservice to our country,” it was one of her more restrained smears. In June, when Snowden first went public as a whistleblower, Feinstein quickly declared that he had committed “an act of treason.” Since then, she has refused to tone down the claim.… Read the rest

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Photographer Detained by LAPD for ‘Interfering with Investigation’

“Interfering with an investigation” is one of those wondrously ambiguous catch-alls that law enforcement uses with impunity to restrict people’s constitutional rights. Award-winning documentary photographer Shawn Nee is only the latest to get shut down by camera-phobic cops.Good thing he has back-up cameras on his person – something I’d recommend for anyone who may have cause to question “authori-tah“.

Bonus: ACLU’s Photographer’s Rights page.

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Federal Judge Rules NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Violates Rights

Photo: longislandwins (CC)

Photo: longislandwins (CC)

About time! From NBC New York:

A federal judge ruled that the contentious NYPD tactic known as stop-and-frisk violates constitutional rights, appointing a monitor to oversee reforms and ordering the department to test body cameras for officers.

U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin wrote in the opinion released Monday that she was not ordering an end to the practice, but was seeking to provide remedies “to ensure that the practice is carried out in a manner that protects the rights and liberties of all New Yorkers, while still providing much-needed police protection.”

She said the practice violates the Fourth Amendment, the right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure, and the 14th Amendment, which forbids the denial of life, liberty or property, without due process.

Mayor Bloomberg said the city would appeal, and accused the judge of ignoring “the real-world realities of crime.” He said the judge’s orders, if implemented, would make New York “a more dangerous place.”

“This is a very dangerous decision made by a judge that I think just does not understand how policing works,” he said…

[continues at NBC New York]

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Obama’s Willing Executioners of the Fourth Amendment

Picture: National Archives and Records Administration (PD)

Picture: National Archives and Records Administration (PD)

It’s now painfully clear that the president has put out a contract on the Fourth Amendment. And at the Capitol, the hierarchies of both parties are stuffing it into the trunks of their limousines, so each provision can be neatly fitted with cement shoes and delivered to the bottom of the Potomac.

Some other Americans are on a rescue mission. One of them, Congressman Justin Amash, began a debate on the House floor Wednesday with a vow to “defend the Fourth Amendment.” That’s really what his amendment — requiring that surveillance be warranted — was all about.

No argument for the Amash amendment was more trenchant than the one offered by South Carolina Republican Jeff Duncan, who simply read the Fourth Amendment aloud.

To quote those words was to take a clear side: “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.Read the rest

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Obama’s Escalating War on Freedom of the Press

Newseum 5 Freedoms 1st AmendmentThe part of the First Amendment that prohibits “abridging the freedom … of the press” is now up against the wall, as the Obama administration continues to assault the kind of journalism that can expose government secrets.

Last Friday the administration got what it wanted – an ice-cold chilling effect — from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled on the case of New York Times reporter James Risen. The court “delivered a blow to investigative journalism in America by ruling that reporters have no First Amendment protection that would safeguard the confidentiality of their sources in the event of a criminal trial,” the Guardian reported.

The Executive Branch fought for that ruling — and is now celebrating. “We agree with the decision,” said a Justice Department spokesman. “We are examining the next steps in the prosecution of this case.” The Risen case, and potentially many others, are now under the ominous shadow of the Appeals Court’s pronouncement: “There is no First Amendment testimonial privilege, absolute or qualified, that protects a reporter from being compelled to testify … in criminal proceedings.”

At the Freedom of the Press Foundation, co-founder Trevor Timm calls the court ruling “the most significant reporter’s privilege decision in decades” and asserts that the court “eviscerated that privilege.” He’s not exaggerating.… Read the rest

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Illinois Teacher In Trouble For Informing Students Of Fifth Amendment Rights Prior To Drug-Screening Survey

drug screening surveyThe things you learn in school aren’t supposed to be applicable in real life. Via the Chicago-area Daily Herald:

A Batavia High School teacher’s fans are rallying to support him as he faces possible discipline for advising students of their Constitutional rights before taking a school survey on their behavior.

John Dryden, a social studies teacher, told some of his students April 18 that they had a 5th Amendment right to not incriminate themselves by answering questions on the survey, which had each student’s name printed on it.

The survey is part of measuring how students meet the social-emotional learning standards set by the state. The school district bought the survey from a private company, Multi-Health Systems Inc.

The survey asked about drug, alcohol and tobacco use, and emotions, according to Brad Newkirk, chief academic officer. The results were to be reviewed by school officials, including social workers, counselors and psychologists.

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