Although the Internal Revenue Service denies that it actually does this, of course. Documents obtained from the IRS by the ACLU pursuant to an FOIA request demonstrate that the IRS believes that it can snoop into private email without first obtaining a search warrant. The warrant, of course, would require the IRS to convince a court both that they know with some specificity for what they’re searching and that they have probable cause for the searching.
According to a 2009 IRS employee handbook, though, the tax agency said the Fourth Amendment does not protect emails because Internet users don’t “have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications.”
The Weekly Standard ran an article in their 15 Apr issue concerning an egregious assault on free speech by none other than the self-important mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter. It seems the Philadelphia Magazine was so rude as to run an article about one journalist’s view of “Being White in Philly,” and Nutter has used his office as mayor—not his status as resident—to attack both the magazine and the article’s author and publisher. His official letter—on city stationary—to the Philadelphia Human Relations Commission can be read here and here.
The House Judiciary Subcommittee held a meeting a week ago Tuesday on potential new provisions of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986, and the outcome was very disquieting. Richard Littlehale, of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, made this recommendation, and he was serious:
Billions of texts are sent every day, and some surely contain key evidence about criminal activity. Text messaging often plays a big role in investigations related to domestic violence, stalking, menacing, drug trafficking, and weapons trafficking.
The subcommittee wound up suggesting longer retention times of interpersonal electronic messages as well as the creation of expedited federal access to these databases.
Here’s the long and the short of it, as summarized in The Wall Street Journal:
A federal judge this week struck down a controversial set of laws allowing the Federal Bureau of Investigation to seek people’s records without a court’s approval, saying the strict secrecy orders demanded by the laws are not constitutional.
US District Judge Susan Illston (Northern District of California) ordered the government to stop sending national security letters or to stop trying to enforce gag orders related to them, but she stayed her order pending the government’s appeal.
The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog describes a victory for religious freedom. In a case about which I first wrote just after its inception, a gang known as Freedom From Religion Foundation sued the village of Warren, MI, for having the temerity to put up a Christmas display without permitting FFRF to put up a sign next to it announcing that religion is “myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”
First, Mayor James Fouts told them to take a hike, followed by their suit:
This is a preview of
Score One for the Other Part of the 1st Amendment
. Read the full post (808 words, estimated 3:14 mins reading time)
It can be costly, especially for those not directly involved.
The perfection here is in the attitude of President Barack Obama and his acolytes as demonstrated by their responses to criticism. Obama is above reproach—perfect—and so dissent must be suppressed and inconvenient law ignored.
Some examples, indicating Obama’s straightforward belief that the only reason people don’t agree with him is because they’re easily manipulated:
Obama’s bellyache, “One of the biggest factors is going to be how the media shapes debates. If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you’ll see more of them doing it[.]“
…and the Progressives’ war against it. They insist that only certain speech is permissible, and they are the arbiters of what we will be allowed to say and what we will be allowed to hear.
If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you’ll see more of them doing it.
President Barack Obama said that to The New Republic in a recent interview. Plainly, some folks shouldn’t be allowed to talk to their Congressmen, or to influence the vote of that employee. Nor are news organizations allowed to report on that, unless they’re saying the right sorts of things.
Eliana Johnson, in National Review Online, had some remarks about former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s shameful “defense” of current Secretary of Defense nominee, Chuck Hagel. She starts off by quoting Powell on Hagel’s on “insensitive” remarks about Hagel’s hated “Jewish” lobby:
“That term ["Jewish lobby"] slips out from time to time,” he told NBC‘s David Gregory [Johnson posted the entire interview at the head of her article; however, it's now labeled "This video is private"]. “So Chuck should have said ‘Israeli lobby,’ not ‘Jewish lobby,’ and perhaps he needs to write on a blackboard a hundred times ‘It is the Israeli lobby.’
Here’s an example of Progressive free speech. Todd Starnes, of Fox News, reported last week that two public school teachers are being investigated for posting messages critical of President Barack Obama on social networking sites.
A Rock Hill, SC, junior high math teacher is now on forced-leave because she disparaged, on her personal Facebook page, Obama and his food stamps:
Congrats Obama. As one of my students sang down the hallway, “We get to keep our food stamps….” [W]hich I pay for because they can’t budget their money…and really, neither can you.
According to Matthew Payne in The Wall Street Journal, Democratic Party Presidential Candidate Barack Obama held a rally on the University of Wisconsin campus last Thursday. But there were conditions attached for the students’ to gain permissiontickets to attend.
In order to get a ticket for the speech, students were forced to go to Mr. Obama’s campaign website and pledge their support for the president—in the process giving the Obama campaign a gold mine of contact information in a key swing state.
Worse, the University was complicit in this: