© Robert Sommers 2018

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Within Reason

that sucking sound...

Last week, with a 5 to 4 majority vote, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Maryland law that allows police to collect DNA, without first getting a warrant, from persons who are arrested but not necessarily convicted.

In the majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy writes, "When officers make an arrest supported by probable cause to hold for a serious offense and bring the suspect to the station to be detained in custody, taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee's DNA is, like fingerprinting and photographing, a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment."

I believe that this ruling is the first step to a national DNA database, I foresee a scenario arriving very soon where everybody will be required to submit a DNA sample during some routine rite of passage, perhaps when getting a drivers license or even a social security number.

It is another classic instance of institutional overreach. Kennedy needs to define two terms before I can be convinced; what crime is classified as "serious" and what is "reasonable?" I can envision law enforcement considering a lot of behavior serious that I might term trivial. Additionally are we talking about what is reasonable in the eyes of a private citizen or reasonable to law enforcement? I'm afraid that we probably already know the answer to that one.

If we understand anything about the John Glover Roberts court, it is that the rights of the state and the corporation always trump the rights of the United States citizenry. And once there is a national DNA database, you better believe that some governmental agency is going to data mine it at some point We may never hear about it but it will assuredly be utilized. That is the way it works.

I was talking about this with BigD this morning and he believes that the government is setting up a total information biometric database. They will know every hair on your body, favored brand of toothpaste, your handwriting, your movements, every person you communicate with and all this information will be stored forever. That is definitely the way things are heading. A not so brave new world.

What exactly does the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the Unites States of America say?

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.

Seems like we have lost sight of something along the way. Secure in their persons and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause...

“The reason I left the NSA is because they started spying on everybody in the country. Unfortunately, they took those programs that I built and turned them on you, and I’m sorry for that. I didn’t intend that. But they did that.” Former NSA official Bill Binney

Today comes news of yet another new government covert operation against its people, Prism. No, its not just Verizon, a day later comes word that the government is also mining your personal data from Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple. Remember all of the hullabaloo when word came down the pike regarding what plans Colonel Poindexter had for DARPA and total information awareness. It was supposedly shut down. Now it appears that it merely went underground.

Prism will sift through your audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs. It can target an individual or an entire network. No one in government is allowed to even talk about it. And of course all of your data is collected without a warrant. Accompanying Prism is a sister collection effort named Blarney, one that vacuums metadata, address packets and device signatures.
In exchange for immunity from lawsuits, companies such as Yahoo and AOL are obliged to accept a “directive” from the attorney general and the director of national intelligence to open their servers to the FBI’s Data Intercept Technology Unit, which handles liaison to U.S. companies from the NSA. In 2008, Congress gave the Justice Department authority for a secret order from the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Court to compel a reluctant company “to comply.”

Obviously, the amorphous enemy that we call terrorism is real. But we must ask ourselves if it is reasonable to surrender basic rights to privacy that we have held dear since the Redcoats were seen bursting into our countrymen's homes without warrant in the 1700's. If we surrender our rights so easily than clearly the terrorists have won. Do we want to grant them this victory?

I tip my hat to Senators Udall and Wyden, who saw this train coming down the tracks long ago but could say nothing and offer also brickbats to my home state Senator Diane Feinstein, who has become so institutionalized that she has turned her back on the civil liberties of the people she has long served.

The people of this country should have a say in what is reasonable or not, what rights they are willing to toss aside and forego. Our elected representatives have shirked their responsibility. Pardon me for not trusting you Senator Feinstein, or the FISA court, or the President, the SCOTUS and all the rest of the cronies in Washington that have run roughshod on our Bill of Rights.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - California cities and counties can ban pot shops, the state's highest court ruled Monday in a unanimous opinion likely to further diminish California's once-robust medical marijuana industry.

The California Supreme Court said neither the state's voter-approved law legalizing medical marijuana nor a companion measure adopted by the Legislature prevent local governments from using their land use and zoning powers to prohibit storefront dispensaries.

The California citizenry, using their legal power to petition and create a legal initiative, voted to allow medical marijuana 17 years ago. Proposition 215, or the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, was enacted, on November 5, 1996, by means of the initiative process, and passed with 5,382,915 (55.6%) votes in favor and 4,301,960 (44.4%) against. California Senate Bill 420 (colloquially known as the Medical Marijuana Program Act was a bill introduced by John Vasconcellos of the California State Senate, and subsequently passed by the California State Legislature and signed by Governor Gray Davis in 2003 "pursuant to the powers reserved to the State of California and its people under the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution." It clarified and fleshed out Proposition 215.

No matter. With the recent ruling the clear will of the majority of California voters has been thwarted once again. Is it any wonder that we become more cynical and less trusting of our government and elected representatives with each passing day?


Ken Seals said...

NSA operations... Sounds like the story line of "Person of Interest" the TV show.
As a TVless person, you probably have missed it.

Richard said...

Robert, I believe that the Colorado law allows for local towns and municipalities to prohibit the sale of pot. It is like the laws in New England that I grew up with where there were 'dry' towns. One just drives to the nearest town where it is sold. People will do it.

The wheel of change is set in motion on this issue. It is only a matter of time before the majority of people will demand legalization. Law enforcement,court systems and for profit prisons are fighting legalization of industrial Hemp because it will lead to the inevitable. Sanity will be restored for pot laws and ironically there will be fewer people smoking probably. We will save billions in the prison system. Hemp will take it rightful place adding jobs in the US instead of importing the stuff.

As regards the spying on Americans, well the Right has been demanding this forever unless of course it is spying on them while a Black liberal president is in the White House. The Orwellian world is here and our generation is fine with it. Apparently the generation of revolution and street demonstrations are fine with the supposed 'security' against terrorism the government affords them while they live out their days with Alzheimer's disease. What ever happened to Question Authority?