Finding Common Ground In The Fight For Privacy

Sen. Rand Paul’s recent effort to force reforms on the National Security Agency’s data collection practices to protect the privacy of the American people has set off a firestorm of anger among the establishment of the Republican Party. From Rep. Peter King (R-NY) to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), there is a large parcel of the GOP that would eagerly sacrifice liberty for security. There is, however, one major push designed to limit the power of government that has a large base of support within the Republican establishment — the Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad (LEADS) Act.

A bipartisan group of Senators are working diligently to pass the LEADS Act to overturn an extraordinary abuse of power by Eric Holder’s Justice Department. Led by Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Dean Heller (R-Nevada), and Chris Coons (D-Delaware), these members are trying to establish rules balancing the needs of law enforcement to obtain the contents of electronic communications with privacy protections for citizens in the digital age. Unfortunately, the clock is ticking; and unless Congress acts quickly, only the Supreme Court will be left to restore rights that were taken by the government — if they even take the pending case.

The issue stems from an investigation by the Justice Department against an Irish citizen who stored information on a cloud computing system owned by an Irish company on servers stored on the island nation. If the information requested were a piece of paper instead of a byte of data, the DOJ would be forced, by treaty obligation, to request that the Irish government obtain a warrant on their behalf to obtain the information. Such requests among allies are commonplace and are not much of a hurdle for the government to jump over.

Rather than make such a request, the DOJ subpoenaed Microsoft and demanded they turn over the information because the Irish company is a subsidiary of Microsoft. Microsoft, in an effort to protect the privacy rights of their users, has rightfully refused to comply and filed a lawsuit against the government.

A federal district court in New York ruled for the government, suggesting that as an American company that wholly owns the Irish subsidiary, a simple domestic warrant is enough. Last July, the 2nd Circuit Appeals Court agreed; and in September, Microsoft asked to be held in contempt of the court so it could progress to the Supreme Court.

The ramifications of these decisions are critical for privacy rights, jurisdictional limitations of government power, and the ability of American companies to compete abroad.

Unless overturned by the Supreme Court, the Department of Justice’s argument that most anything stored on the cloud-based computer systems–even by foreign nationals on servers stored outside the United States–falls under their power will stand. Hence, the LEADS Act was introduced.

Support for the LEADs Act provides a perfect opportunity for members of the GOP to demonstrate support for privacy rights while limiting the power of the federal government.

From threatening to indict reporters who refuse to release their sources to Holder’s Department of Justice seizing two months worth of phone records from Associated Press reporters, the Obama administration will go down in history with one of the worst records for domestic civil liberties. The effort to grab control of the cloud computing systems is just the latest chapter in a sad era of the widespread violation of American constitutional liberties.

This is not a partisan issue. It is an issue with profound implications for the Bill of Rights, specifically the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. No matter who is in power, this legislation is a great way to clarify how the United States government wants Americans’ phone records to be treated by foreign nations. The natural right of privacy, and the right to police against law-breaking, are two interests that can be balanced in a way that makes sense and protects all Americans.

Privacy from government intrusion should be a conservative principle. Too many members of the GOP are willing to trust their privacy rights to bureaucrats in the NSA, the CIA, and the FBI. The LEADs Act is a small step in the right direction and creates a unique opportunity for the Republican Party to help restore some of the rights that have been trampled on by big government.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Exposed: Obama Is Bypassing Congress To Deliver A Major Blow To The Constitution

The Obama administration is once again planning to do by executive action what it could not accomplish legislatively through Congress.

The Hill reports that the Justice Department will move forward with more than a dozen gun-related regulations. The first round is expected to be finalized by November, with the rest implemented by the end of Obama’s term in office.

“It’s clear President Obama is beginning his final assault on our Second Amendment rights by forcing his anti-gun agenda on honest law-abiding citizens through executive force,” said Luke O’Dell, vice president of political affairs at the National Association for Gun Rights.

Many of the changes were called for following the Sandy Hook shooting three years ago. Gun control advocates made a major push in Congress to place new restrictions on the sale and ownership of guns, including the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013. The measures were defeated in the Senate and never had a vote in the House.

Following the Sandy Hook shooting, Obama issued 23 executive actions intended to keep guns out of the hands of potentially dangerous people.

One of the changes the administration now seeks to enact is denying gun ownership to those who have been guilty of any type of domestic abuse.

“That could be a person who spanked his kid, or yelled at his wife, or slapped her husband,” Michael Hammond, legislative counsel for the Gun Owners of America, warned in a statement.

The ATF is also looking to prohibit the mentally ill from owning firearms, which gun rights’ groups oppose.

“The Obama administration is trying very hard to disqualify people from owning a gun on the basis that they are seeing a psychologist,” Hammond argued.

The NRA in statement earlier this spring noted: “A person who experienced a temporary reaction to a traumatic event or who has trouble handling household finances may well be treated the same as a violent psychopath. Not only is this unjust and stigmatizing, it creates disincentives for those who need mental health treatment to seek it, increasing whatever risks are associated with untreated mental illness.”

Other proposed regulations include the ownership of high-powered handguns and gun storage requirements.

“The Obama administration hates the Second Amendment, and it’s clear that every place where it can push, it will,” said Hammond.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Baltimore, Black, White, And Central Power

Recently, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that the Justice Department will investigate the Baltimore Police Department, an investigation that Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore requested. So it seems she is calling for an examination into her own failings.

Please take note that this investigation is distinguished from a separate civil rights probe which the Attorney General’s Office has already begun in relation to the death of Freddie Gray, who died while in police custody.

Consider the following facts with regard to Baltimore: Black people riot; in the process, they destroy black business; all of this occurs after a black guy dies in police custody at the hands of three black officers who are part of a police department that is 43% black and led by a black Chief, under a black female Mayor, with a black female State Attorney, in a city ruled by the president’s own Democratic Party for over 50 years.

And the result is: The first black female US Attorney General, who is appointed by the first black president, attributes…prejudice against black Americans.

This all coming on the heels of last week’s announcement from Obama that he’s dispatching federal civil-rights officials to retrain cops in “every city and jurisdiction around the country” to be more culturally sensitive to urban blacks. Already, Fort Worth, Texas; Gary, Indiana; Stockton, California; Birmingham, Alabama; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, have received grants to implement a new DOJ program titled the “National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice”

I live very near to Baltimore and understand the chaos firsthand. The fear, confusion, and anarchy that has taken place is nothing short of overwhelming. This led me to ponder the Constitution, the Law of this nation, and the rules of Federal Government agencies like the Attorney General’s office. I sought the entire document to see what type of jurisdiction the Federal Government has in local law enforcement matters.

The answer is none!

(The closest statement I can find is in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 12, which involves the authority of Congress–not the President–to raise and support armies for no more than a two-year term; and this is not to be done during peacetime.)

So why is this administration so interested in what some call “federalizing local law enforcement agencies”?

Should you be alarmed?

You see, although the Constitution is the supreme law of our land and provides limits on the powers and authorities of our federal, state, and local governments, its words cannot, and will not, leap off the page and enforce themselves.

The greatest threat to the people’s liberties has always been the centralized power of civil government. It is strikingly apparent now that the agenda coming from both Democrats and Republicans in Washington, DC, represent an attempt to centralize and extend the control of the few over the many.

In an amazingly short period of time, the central government has nationalized the banks, the insurance industry, the automobile industry, and the health care industry–and now local police forces.  All this is illegal. And while this has been occurring at unprecedented speed, the president has been insisting that he is NOT doing exactly what he IS doing.

Unless the people and their state and local officials – like the Governor, local police, and judges — renounce the criminal behavior displayed by the federal executive through federal agencies and reaffirm their allegiance to their loved ones, their families, and their communities, these united States of America are in grave danger of disappearing.

 

Learn more about your Constitution with Jake MacAulay and the Institute on the Constitution and receive your free gift.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Justice Department To Investigate Baltimore Police For Civil Rights Violations

Loretta Lynch confirmed Friday that the U.S. Department of Justice will conduct a review of the practices of the Baltimore Police Department in the aftermath of the death of Freddie Gray. The 25-year-old was killed while in police custody last month.

“[R]ather than examining whether the police department violated good policies, we will now examine whether they violated the Constitution and the community’s civil rights,” Lynch said in Washington.

The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division has conducted dozens of these pattern or practice investigations, and we have seen from our work in jurisdictions across the country that communities that have gone through this process are experiencing improved policing practices and increased trust between the police and the community.

The recently confirmed attorney general said the investigation would begin “immediately,” Newsweek reported.

State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby charged six officers involved in Gray’s transport and arrest last month. One has been charged with second degree murder, three have been charged with involuntary manslaughter, and two with second-degree-assault, the Associated Press reported.

According to police, about 500 people have been arrested since April 23; and more than 100 police officers have been injured in the protests. Since rioting began, most of the protests throughout Baltimore have been peaceful.

The rioting caused the Orioles baseball team to postpone their first two games against the Chicago White Sox. Both games have been rescheduled for a single-admission doubleheader on May 28.

The third game of the series was played last Wednesday, but was closed to paying customers. Only allowed into Oriole Park at Camden Yards were media and professional scouts. The closed-door game was believed to be the first of its kind in which fans were not allowed to enter a Major League Baseball stadium in the league’s 145-year history.

h/t: Fox News

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

BOMBSHELL In Baltimore: What The Obama Admin Did That May Have Lit The Fuse For The Riots

It’s been described by officials familiar with it as “the best training program the Baltimore Police Department has ever known” — a special program designed to improve relations between police and mostly minority communities. Yet, according to The Washington Times, the Obama administration cut off funding for the Diamond Standard training program despite strong evidence that it was a success.

“The Obama Justice Department turned down a request five years ago to help the Baltimore Police Department save a training program widely credited for improving the department’s relations with the city’s crime-ridden and minority neighborhoods and reducing homicides and police-involved shootings.”

The Times article quotes a principal developer and organizer of the training, police consultant Adam Walinsky, who claimed that the failure to continue the Diamond Standard program helped contribute to the deterioration in police-community relations that preceded the riots sparked by the police-custody death of Freddie Gray.

“Once they stopped training the officers — stopped their interaction with the community, that all that was left was locking people up, and that’s what led to this whole Freddie Gray thing.”

“The program made terrific efforts to show our trainees how to work with all of these really lost, mostly young men in the black community. We gave them the tools to show them how to make friends in the community — not to raise the tension but to lower it.”

Reportedly, the now-defunct training program was championed by the previous head of the Baltimore Police Department. Ironically, it was that police commissioner’s success in using the program to improve relations between his force and the city’s crime-ridden, minority neighborhoods —  the very program the feds failed to fund — that “led President Obama to appoint him to a federal commission on community policing.”

“The training program, which ran from 2008 to 2012, was a centerpiece of Police Commissioner Fred Bealefeld’s tenure, during which period homicides in Baltimore reached a 20-year low, police-involved shootings declined and officers were pressed to leave their cars and walk their beats, and community relations improved.”

For its in-depth article on the demise of the Diamond Standard training in Baltimore, The Washington Times spoke with two unnamed officials reportedly involved with the program during the period it was in effect. They both lamented the loss of the training because, they said, it had such a positive effect. According to one of the Times’ anonymous sources: “’After every training session, questionnaires were collected. The department now has thousands of them that overwhelmingly confirm this was the best training program the Baltimore Police Department has ever known.’”

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth