The TSA as Milgram Experiment

I have had it in mind to write up an article about the TSA as an implementation of the Milgram experiment, but it’s apparently old ground already covered:

(Posted from inside Newark Airport, at which security was pleasantly civilized: no taking-off of shoes, a metal detector instead of a body scan, and of course a bag scan.)

When Do You Shoot?; or, “Unarmed” Does Not Mean “Not Dangerous”

I can tell you right now, you are not going to like this essay from Fred On Everything. I didn’t like it, and yet it shows some sense. You should read the whole thing, but this part especially stands our for me:

As a fresh cop, you will notice that the standard editorial notion, that cops are heavily armed brutes amid a helpless unarmed populations, isn’t quite accurate. When you are on the sidewalks of a bad neighborhood, where you know you are disliked by all and hated by many, you will become aware of your vulnerability. You have to pass close to people. Any of them could blow your head off from behind, stick an ice pick in your back, or brain you with a piece of rebar.

Ah, but how do you know when your life is in danger? Therein lies the rub.

As an object lesson, watch the following video where an armed (!) police officer gets beaten senseless by an unarmed (!!) assailant:

Now, if she had shot him, we would have heard about another white cop killing an unarmed black man. But as we can see, “unarmed” does not mean “harmless, timid, or otherwise not-dangerous”. She was lucky that he did not kick her head in while she was down. Keep this in mind the next time you hear about someone being “unarmed.”

Former HHS Cyber Security Director Convicted For Child Porn

Former acting director of cyber security for the Department of Health and Human Services Timothy DeFoggi was convicted for a myriad of gruesome child pornography charges Tuesday, the Department of Justice announced.

DeFoggi, who had top security clearance in his capacity as cyber security director, first joined the child pornography website PedoBook in March 2012. The Omaha World-Herald reported that he was arrested in April of last year, when law enforcement officials serving a search warrant found him downloading child pornography in his home.

In addition to viewing and soliciting child pornography, reportedly asking another member of the site whether he’d share pictures of his son, he suggested meeting a fellow pedophile in person to violently rape and murder children together.

These are the people in charge of “Security.” As with the NSA, the IRS, and everything else at the federal level, how can you ever trust a word any of them say? And you want your *medical records* entrusted to them? Via Former HHS Cyber Security Director Convicted For Child Porn | The Daily Caller.

Police problem is unaccountable attitude

The people they are policing aren’t enemy combatants, but their fellow citizens — and, even more significantly, their employers. A combat-like mindset on the part of police turns fellow-citizens into enemies, with predictable results.

I sometimes think the turning point was marked by the old cop show Hill Street Blues. Each episode opened with a daily briefing before the officers went out on patrol. In the early seasons, Sergeant Phil Esterhaus concluded every briefing with "Let’s be careful out there." In the later episodes, his replacement, Sergeant Stan Jablonski, replaced that with "Let’s do it to them before they do it to us." The latter attitude is appropriate for a war zone, but not for a civilized society.

via Police problem is unaccountable attitude: Column.

A Preventative, Militarized Police Force Is a Threat to Free Speech

Under what circumstances, if at all, should the capacity for force and intimidation be deployed against the public by the state? This becomes controversial when one wants to answer that the capacity should be preventative rather than responsive.

Responsive force entails responding to a situation where public safety is being threatened.

On the other hand, preventative force and intimidation is far more problematic from a civil liberties perspective because it is the police force itself introducing the element of disruption into the civil equation. When a massive force rolls into Ferguson during a peaceful rally in the middle of the day, can we really say this doesn’t result in intimidation, at the least, and antagonism, at the worst? Does the presence of intimidating MRAPs, military-esque rifles, and costumed-up police force have no effect on the public to which it is directed?

And for those inclined to say “yes” there is no effect, I respond: standard gun safety rules dictate that you DO NOT point your gun at something you are not prepared to shoot. Do you really think you have the right to free speech or free assembly when you are, literally, in the state’s crosshairs?

All emphasis mine. Via The PJ Tatler » A Preventative, Militarized Police Force Is a Threat to Free Speech.

Demilitarize the police – and stop flinging false racism charges

I join my voice to those of Rand Paul and other prominent libertarians who are reacting to the violence in Ferguson, Mo. by calling for the demilitarization of the U.S.’s police. Beyond question, the local civil police in the U.S. are too heavily armed and in many places have developed an adversarial attitude towards the civilians they serve, one that makes police overreactions and civil violence almost inevitable.

But also note an uncomfortable truth:

… a young black or “mixed” male is roughly 26 times more likely to be a homicidal threat than a random person outside that category – older or younger blacks, whites, hispanics, females, whatever. If the young male is unambiguously black that figure goes up, about doubling.

26 times more likely. That’s a lot. It means that even given very forgiving assumptions about differential rates of conviction and other factors we probably still have a difference in propensity to homicide (and other violent crimes for which its rates are an index, including rape, armed robbery, and hot burglary) of around 20:1. That’s being very generous, assuming that cumulative errors have thrown my calculations are off by up to a factor of 6 in the direction unfavorable to my argument.

via Demilitarize the police – and stop flinging false racism charges.

Supreme Court bans warrantless cell phone searches

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that police cannot go snooping through people’s cell phones without a warrant, in a unanimous decision that amounts to a major statement in favor of privacy rights.

Police agencies had argued that searching through the data on cell phones was no different than asking someone to turn out his pockets, but the justices rejected that, saying a cell phone is more fundamental.

This is a blow in favor of liberty. Now you need to remember to uphold your rights. When the officer asks to see your cellphone, you reply in a polite and deferential tone: “Officer, with great respect, I do not consent to searches. May I be on my way now?” Via Supreme Court bans warrantless cell phone searches – Washington Times.

Federal magistrate orders arrestee to apologize and recant, as a condition of bail

The arrestee alleges she was assaulted and beaten by a Federal agent; the magistrate, before he will let her post bail, wants her to recant her allegations as a condition of bail.

This seems to me clearly unconstitutional: It’s an order compelling speech, on threat of imprisonment, which would itself normally be a First Amendment violation; but on top of that, it was issued without a trial, and thus without any final factual findings supporting its validity.

I’m aware that, once someone is convicted, courts have considerable latitude to impose speech restrictions as a condition of parole or probation, and might even be able to impose speech compulsions. But that is after someone’s guilt has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal trial. The defendant here hasn’t been convicted of anything; she continues to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

via Arrestee alleges government misconduct; federal magistrate orders arrestee to apologize and recant, as a condition of bail.

Here’s a little more, from a different article:

One agent, realizing they did not have a warrant for that address, directed other agents to leave the premises. Then, according to Branson, another agent, the one who allegedly choked Arielle Lipsen, told Branson he had to leave. At that point, Branson asked to see a warrant.

“He said, ’I don’t need to show you a F—–g warrant.’”

Branson said, “I need to see a warrant, based on the fourth amendment…”

“The agent answered ‘Oh you’re a F—–g lawyer now. We can do this the easy way or the hard way and put his finger on the trigger of his M16. That’s when I just backed up,” Branson said.

According to Branson the alleged assault to Lipsen happened in plain view, on the sidewalk in front of a residence.

“It happened outside on the sidewalk, ” stated Branson, “She wasn’t even on the property. She was standing on the sidewalk.”

It only gets worse from there. Via Bold witness to alleged abuse by federal agents comes forward.

NSA Journalist Glenn Greenwald’s Partner Reportedly Detained at Airport for 9 Hours, Questioned Under Terrorism Act

The Guardian, Greenwald’s employer, reports the journalist’s partner, David Miranda, was held for nearly nine hours and questioned under the Terrorism Act at the UK’s Heathrow airport. Officials also confiscated Miranda’s electronics, including his cell phone, laptop, camera, and memory sticks, according to The Guardian, without saying when they would return the items.

Miranda was reportedly released without being officially charged with anything. Authorities had detained him for the maximum amount of time allowed under the law before they would have had to issue a formal arrest, according to The Guardian.

“This is obviously a rather profound escalation of their attacks on the news-gathering process and journalism,” he wrote. “It’s bad enough to prosecute and imprison sources. It’s worse still to imprison journalists who report the truth. But to start detaining the family members and loved ones of journalists is simply despotic.”

via NSA Journalist Glenn Greenwald’s Partner Reportedly Detained at Airport for 9 Hours, Questioned Under Terrorism Act |

NSA, Gen X, and Gen Y

the NSA and their fellow swimmers in the acronym soup of the intelligence-industrial complex are increasingly reliant on nomadic contractor employees, and increasingly subject to staff churn. There is an emerging need to security-clear vast numbers of temporary/transient workers … and workers with no intrinsic sense of loyalty to the organization. For the time being, security clearance is carried out by other contractor organizations that specialize in human resource management, but even they are subject to the same problem: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

via Snowden leaks: the real take-home – Charlie’s Diary.