Posts tagged ‘police’

07/03/2011

And so privacy is sacrificed on the altar of “efficiency”

by wfgodbold

By so-called “conservatives” in the comments at this Hot Air piece on whether the police should be required to get warrants to put tracking devices on cars.

I understand that public roads are public, and we have no expectation of privacy while driving on them; that’s why the police don’t need a warrant to tail persons of interest.

Being subject to tailing is a far cry from having every movement monitored without any effort by the police, though; if they want to tail someone, they have to expend far more resources than just sneaking up on your car in the middle of the night and planting a tracking device.

If the police want to spy on what goes on in a person’s house, they either must observe from public land, or get a warrant; cars are also private property, and the police should be no more permitted to plant devices without warrants than they can bug your phone line without one.

We need a Bureau of Sabotage.

06/16/2011

Damn it, Apple

by wfgodbold

If I choose to use my phone to break the law (whether it’s by recording copyrighted material or recording the police), that’s my choice; you have no right to disable something I’ve already paid for.

Now, I realize the patent only refers to disabling the phone’s camera when it detects some infrared signal, and they’re touting this as a solution to surreptitious concert and movie recording.

But it wouldn’t be a stretch for the police to decide that no, you really don’t have a right to record them, and then outfit every patrol car with one of these disabling devices.

Given that Apple has already caved in to law enforcement demands with respect to DUI checkpoint avoidance apps, I don’t think it would be out of character for them to happily provide the police with the ability to circumvent citizen oversight.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Only people with Android phones and Flip cameras, I guess.

Update: ESR savages Apple even further.

06/11/2011

To further clarify my opinion on no-knock warrants and overcriminalization

by wfgodbold

Linoge and Old NFO bring up a couple of points in the comments to my post on no-knock warrants, so I’m going to take more space here to hash out some things.

I mainly think that no-knock warrants in and of themselves are more a symptom of the problem than the actual problem itself; the root cause is the criminalization of damn near everything.

We are often told that ignorance of the law is no excuse; this statement has two main problems.

First, it ignores mens rea, one of the key components of common law.

And the main problem with the claim that “ignorance of the law is no excuse,” is that Title 18 of the United States Code (the criminal & penal section) is 2,725 sections long.

Two thousand. Seven hundred. And twenty-five.

For the most part, ignorance of the law is rational!

Search warrants are required to be reasonable and specific; if you look at the warrant the Dept. of Ed. used to justify their SWAT raid the other day, it’s quite specific.

It specifies practically every item that someone’s house would contain (especially when it gets down to the electronic equipment)!

If everything but the clothes on your back (probably) and your furniture (maybe) are to be seized by the police, then practically anything you do between the announcement that the cops are there with a warrant and when you answer the door could be destruction of evidence.

So obviously, the police have no choice but to bust down your door and charge in with rifles at the ready; you’re destroying evidence!

I don’t see any effective way to reduce the number and scope of the laws on the books; any time something bad happens, there’s a big clamor for new laws to make this tragedy (whatever it is) the last of its kind, so won’t you please make bullying illegal, or making fun of people on the internet illegal, or whatever, it’s for the children!

And since everyone loves children, the laws get enacted, even though they’re badly written and vague and overbroad.

Then the rest of us are stuck rationally ignorant, hoping that we’ve done nothing to draw Johnny Law’s attention to ourselves, and that no SWAT team will kick in our doors in the middle of the night.

If the man goes through your life with a fine-toothed comb, he’ll find something that you did that broke the law, and then he’ll crucify you for it. The war on drugs has made this painfully evident, and with the ever-increasing number of federal agencies with police powers and SWAT teams, the war on everything else will take care of the rest of us.

06/11/2011

No-knock warrants ought to be abolished

by wfgodbold

Especially when they result in tragedies like the Pima County SWAT team’s killing of Jose Guerena.

I’ve mentioned the incident in passing a time or two before, and the more information that comes to light, the worse the SWAT team looks.

I’d like to blame this on the war on drugs, but when every federal department has its own SWAT unit and is itching to use them, the problem is deeper.

I don’t know that I’m as ready to stick a fork in the republic as Linoge is (Update: Linoge clarified in the comments that he doesn’t think the republic isn’t dead yet, just that the decline is inevitable at this point), but unless there’s a major turnaround in the next several years, I’m afraid the US’s transition to police state will be unavoidable.

It used to be that you could assume that as long as you were law-abiding, the police would leave you alone. That’s no longer the case; when non-violent crimes draw down the wrath of the mall ninjas, no one is safe.

06/09/2011

How I became interested in guns

by wfgodbold

Since it’s all the rage among gunbloggers right now, I thought I’d chip in with my own unremarkable story.

Growing up, we didn’t have any guns in the house; I’d fired a rifle and shotgun at Boy Scout camp, but that was it. Most of my friends in high school hunted, but our family didn’t. It was just one of those things.

A few years ago, my apartment was burgled and ransacked; the only thing taken was my PlayStation 2 (with the memory card and game; I was more pissed about the loss of the memory card than the console itself), but when the thief left, he left behind his crowbar.

It didn’t sink in immediately, but if I’d been home, he could have done some real damage with it; I have no desire to play a headcrab to any criminal’s Gordon Freeman.

I called the cops after the burglary, but nothing ever came of it. I assume the thief tried to sell the PS2. I doubt he got much for it (it was a Japanese model, and the PS2 is region-locked), so even though I lost hundreds of hours of save data (I’d had the PS2 for ~5 years at this point), I still had the last laugh. Kind of.

My parents also suffered a break-in around the same time (while they were present), but the would-be thief spooked and ran off.

A few years later (during the 2008 election, actually), I was clicking around on various blogs and news sites, and eventually learned that the police have no duty to protect you. This spurred my interest in self-defense (well, that and reading One Second After in the spring following the election).

Unfortunately, I was living in New York at the time, and after reading the various laws, I decided it would be easier not to bother. Too many hoops to jump through, and it would be too easy to fall afoul of some regulation or other (which is the point; if gun ownership becomes too onerous, then fewer people will buy guns). I wasn’t keen on going, hat in hand, to the government to ask for permission to buy a handgun.

After moving back to Arkansas, I did some reading, and signed up for a concealed carry class.  I bought my first gun (a Bersa Thunder .380 CC), and then followed that up with a couple of AR-15 lower receivers. A few months after that (after realizing how expensive .380 ammo was; I didn’t research as thoroughly as I’d thought), I bought a P226 classic .22, and then I was hooked.

Reading various gun blogs has turned me into more of a libertarian than I was before; given how the government has treated the 2nd amendment, it’s easy to see how other basic rights could be abrogated. I don’t know that I’d call it a road to Damascus moment, but it’s pretty close.

If the government can’t be trusted to obey “shall make no law,” “shall not be infringed,” or “shall not be violated,”  when it’s spelled out plainly, why can it be trusted to obey other limitations on its power?

06/09/2011

As if we needed another reason to advocate for the abolition of the Dept. of Ed.

by wfgodbold

That SWAT raid they performed the other day?

The warrant was for proof of secondary education and and copies of financial aid applications (H/T Uncle). They were to get records and electronic equipment. None of that is in any danger of being flushed down the toilet.

Just because you have a SWAT team doesn’t mean you have to use them to serve warrants; that’s not what they’re for.

This wasn’t a hostage or terrorist situation, and this was certainly not a “high risk … search warrant.”

If this is reasonable, then we truly are living in a police state.

But hey, at least they didn’t kill the guy in a hail of gunfire like the Pima County SWAT team did to Jose Guerena.

06/05/2011

The police are not your friends.

by wfgodbold

Fortunately, they’ve grown less shy about pointing that out.

Claims that the police are jackbooted thugs are growing less hyperbolic by the incident; if contempt of cop is a crime, then it’s merely a matter of time before we’re all criminals.

Because this behavior is utterly contemptible.

05/31/2011

Quote of the Indeterminate Time Interval – Mike Storie

by wfgodbold

Fourth Amendment? Mike Storie, attorney for the SWAT team that kicked in former Marine Jose Guerena’s door and shot him, has this to say about your fourth amendment rights:

There is nothing wrong with policy. This policy has worked for years and it will continue to work for years. My advice would be if you hear lights and sirens going, and you hear the police pounding on your door, let them in.

Warrant? They don’t need no stinkin’ warrant. If you don’t want a bunch of mall ninjas kicking in your door and shooting at you 71 times (and only hitting you 22 times), then you’d better let them in whether they’ve got a warrant or not.

Giving someone a badge and a gun doesn’t make them infallible, and it doesn’t make their life worth more than the lives of those they are supposedly sworn “to protect and serve.” (Which, by the way, is so much hot air; the SCOTUS has ruled that the police have no duty to protect someone.)

Eroding civil liberties in the name of officer safety is unwise; aside from the blatant infringement on basic rights, it serves to highlight an us vs. them mentality in the police and public, pitting one side against the other.

05/11/2011

Does posting about how twitter increases police vulnerability via twitter also increase police vulnerability?

by wfgodbold

I do kind of see their point; officers and agents might be more at risk (especially if they’re undercover) because of facebook and twitter accounts.

Working as a policeman is not a safe job.

Just like how the guy who live-tweeted the Osama bin Laden mission could have affected its result, so social networking can affect the results of various operations/investigations SWAT teams and the police are working on; that doesn’t meant that the government should be able to restrict freedom of speech.

If we were to ban things because something bad might happen, I don’t know where we’d be!

Why, you might end up throwing a guy in jail because you were afraid someone who saw what he was going to do would riot!

D’oh.

04/20/2011

I’m not one to harp on how life imitates art, but the Panopticon is here

by wfgodbold

The villain’s in John Twelve Hawks’ mediocre Fourth Realm Trilogy are intent on creating a what they call a “virtual panopticon,” through the use of CCTV and various and sundry tracking technologies.

The recent news that Apple stores at least six months of location data from your iDevices spooked me, though. Worrying about the encroaching panopticon is kind of pointless; it seems it’s arrived, and no one even noticed.

Bad enough that the police think they can go through your phone whenever they want (Fourth amendment? What fourth amendment?); if they do that, they can only get whatever data is on your phone.

But if your phone stores a record of everywhere you’ve been for months, that’s an even more egregious invasion of privacy than it already was.

Apple has no reason to care where my phone is or what I’m doing with it. Google’s record on privacy is hardly better:

On December 2009, Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, declared after privacy concerns: “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place. If you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines — including Google — do retain this information for some time and it’s important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act and it is possible that all that information could be made available to the authorities.”

If you’re going to have a smart phone, I guess, you just have to choose which Big Sibling will watch you; opting out is no longer an option.

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