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You want the truth? You can't handle the truth! (says the DOJ)

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) hit a brick wall when its Freedom of Information Action (FOIA) of 1966 (5 U.S.C. § 552) lawsuit requesting detailed documents on GPS tracking procedures was rejected by the U.S. Department of Justice.

I. GPS Tracking is Back

The issue of GPS tracking has been a contentious one.  In some high profile incidents federal agents, state police, or local police have attached GPS trackers to citizens’ cars and used the continuous tracking as incriminating evidence.  While law enforcement agencies contend that GPS surveillance is a powerful tool for fighting crime, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) clearly thought otherwise, deciding unanimously (U.S. v. Jones, 10-1259; PDF) that planting GPS trackers on citizens' vehicles generally is a violation of Fourth Amendment rights.

Following the January ruling, the FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissmann provoked ACLU scrutiny when he spoke at a February law enforcement convention in San Francisco, suggesting that other forms of location tracking were arguably legal.


While not specifically mentioned, one such form of tracking would be to seize citizens' cell phones or request records from mobile carriers in order to gain a record of locations based on tower pings.  Such tracking has only been used in a handful of cases nationwide, but is growing in use.

GC Weissmann also suggested that boats and other types of vehicles may be fair game for tracking as his interpretation was that the SCOTUS prohibition was narrow, only covering GPS tracking on cars.

Boats in harbor
The FBI argues that it may still be legal to use GPS tracking on boats.
[Image Source: Ron Niebrugge]

He also makes reference to a pair of memos, detailing how tracking was to be carried out.

II. ACLU Gets Non-Answer From DOJ

In the wake of those comments the ACLU filed suit to obtain those memos, arguing that their release would make clear whether the FBI and other DOJ agencies are actively pursuing such forms of location tracking, and what the rules are (e.g. whether a warrant is required).

The DOJ gave the ACLU the memos this week, but they were almost entirely redacted, leaving little useable information.  The sweeping redactions were justified in a note from the DOJ that cites the stipulation that FOIA requests can be redacted to prevent the release of information that would aid criminals.

In a blog post Catherine Crump, an attorney for the ACLU, blasts the DOJ memos, writing:

The Justice Department’s unfortunate decision leaves Americans with no clear understanding of when we will be subjected to tracking — possibly for months at a time — or whether the government will first get a warrant.

Privacy law needs to keep up with technology, but how can that happen if the government won’t even tell us what its policies are?

Redactions
The DOJ release the FBI memos, but it redacted most of the details in the documents.
[Image Source: Iceni]

Given the DOJ's relative non-response it appears that the DOJ and ACLU will continue to square of in federal court or possibly in another Supreme Court case.  

The ACLU's position is clear -- warrantless tracking is a danger to Americans' freedoms.  

The DOJ's position appears to be that while it will respect the SCOTUS rulings narrowly, it will freely engaged in any form of investigation not explicitly prohibited.  The Obama administration has gone to bat for the DOJ in court, arguing that when it comes to law enforcement, sometimes safety trumps the need for transparency and protection of civil liberties.

Source: ACLU



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Tip of the Iceberg
By Argon18 on 1/17/2013 2:26:01 PM , Rating: 4
Obama's DOJ has been weaseling its way out of things for four years now. Fast-n-Furious anyone?




RE: Tip of the Iceberg
By Omega215D on 1/17/2013 4:11:00 PM , Rating: 4
I find that when you criticize this administration you are either met with criticism against your own character, criticism of other pol parties, or outright deflection of the issue.

Then you have those that would blindly go along with any questionable policy put out.


RE: Tip of the Iceberg
By KoS on 1/18/2013 9:49:50 AM , Rating: 2
What you are seeing is...good ole Uncle Sauls tactics being played out on the national stage. Fun isn't it?


RE: Tip of the Iceberg
By maugrimtr on 1/21/2013 9:42:10 AM , Rating: 3
It's no secret both Reps and Dems would do the same thing. It's a disgrace on all politicians that they continue to stubbornly pass laws contrary to the constitution knowing that the Supreme Court will eventually get around to quashing their idiocy when someone gets a case that far.


RE: Tip of the Iceberg
By bdunosk on 1/20/2013 8:31:01 PM , Rating: 2
I'm thoroughly amused by subsequent posters doing exactly what you said.


RE: Tip of the Iceberg
By AntiM on 1/17/2013 4:29:55 PM , Rating: 3
There's definitely a conspiracy afoot to undermine the constitutional rights of American citizens. For example, one of the provisions of The National Defense Authorization Act,,,

In December 2011, President Obama signed the 2012 NDAA, codifying indefinite military detention without charge or trial into law for the first time in American history. The NDAA's dangerous detention provisions would authorize the president — and all future presidents — to order the military to pick up and indefinitely imprison people captured anywhere in the world, far from any battlefield

It doesn't exclude american civilians.

Lets not even talk about gun control.


RE: Tip of the Iceberg
By Spuke on 1/17/2013 4:36:50 PM , Rating: 2
The final revision of that does exclude American civilians.


RE: Tip of the Iceberg
By ilkhan on 1/17/13, Rating: 0
RE: Tip of the Iceberg
By MechanicalTechie on 1/17/2013 6:50:12 PM , Rating: 4
Oh well then... that makes it totally fine.

So then when lets say china or russian pass the same sort of law in retaliation, you wont have any sort of problem with it...


RE: Tip of the Iceberg
By HrilL on 1/17/2013 7:20:42 PM , Rating: 2
No it doesn't it only excludes them while in the US. If you're out of the country it applies to everyone.


RE: Tip of the Iceberg
By TSS on 1/17/2013 11:32:08 PM , Rating: 2
Except that the final, final revision that was passed, had only 1 paticular line scrapped. The line that excluded american civilians.

Then there was a judge who struck down the provision, But then that judge was struck down by the higher courts again.

soooo... Yeah american citizens can still be detained without due process until "the end of the hostilities" with terrorists. Which ofocurse, will never end under the current line of administrations.


RE: Tip of the Iceberg
By Piiman on 1/19/2013 2:00:34 PM , Rating: 2
Pssst Bushed used this already on a citizen names José Padilla
So its not just the current administration. Get a clue.

"June 9, 2002, when President George W. Bush designated him an enemy combatant and, arguing that he was thereby not entitled to trial in civilian courts, had him transferred to a military prison. Padilla was held for three and a half years as an "enemy combatant" and was interrogated with sleep deprivation, shackling and stress positions, the administration of psychotropic drugs and solitary confinement.[1] After pressure from civil liberties groups, the charge was dropped and his case was moved to a civilian court."



RE: Tip of the Iceberg
By Samus on 1/18/2013 1:48:59 AM , Rating: 3
People act like fast and furious is a new thing.

It's a renewed policy left over from renewed policies that were renewed by policies that previous presidents renewed. We've been selling weapons to our enemies since World War II.

Firearms are big business. Obama, Bush, Clinton, and previous presidents administrations have little to do with the sales of small arms to enemies. They turn a blind eye to it simply because exposing it would open the biggest can of worms imaginable.

This is why 'Fast and Furious' blew over as quick as the fact the what is now Al-Qaeda was trained and armed under the Reagan administration.


RE: Tip of the Iceberg
By KoS on 1/18/2013 9:53:28 AM , Rating: 2
You really have no clue what Fast-n-Furious is then, by those statements.

We were selling firearms to Al-Qaeda through our guns stores? The guns were are supplying Syria fighters come from local gun stores? Interesting.


RE: Tip of the Iceberg
By espaghetti on 1/19/2013 1:44:02 PM , Rating: 2
You're right about there being a history of gun running from our government. You might have to go a bit further than Wikipedia to find out that those operations were done with some kind of coordination with another country's government.
Our current regime did this one on it's own.

Not that this washes anyone's hands.


RE: Tip of the Iceberg
By Piiman on 1/19/2013 1:55:43 PM , Rating: 3
This isn't new. Under Bush all you had to do is declare them an enemy combatant and poof you're gone.

The whole so called Patriot Act is anything but.

With that said its also good to read the whole act

"Addressing previous conflicts with the Obama Administration regarding the wording of the Senate text, the Senate-House compromise text, in sub-section 1021(d), also affirms that nothing in the Act "is intended to limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force". The final version of the bill also provides, in sub-section(e), that "Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States ." As reflected in Senate debate over the bill, there is a great deal of controversy over the status of existing law "


RE: Tip of the Iceberg
By marvdmartian on 1/17/2013 4:32:55 PM , Rating: 2
Don't forget they habitually ignore the finer points of the Constitution too! Who has time for pesky constitutional adherence, anyways??


RE: Tip of the Iceberg
By foolsgambit11 on 1/17/2013 6:14:15 PM , Rating: 2
Playing devil's advocate, do they ignore the finer points of the Constitution, or do they simply have a different interpretation of it than you? Can you site specific examples where they've gone against the Constitution, as interpreted by Supreme Court precedent?

I'm not a fan of the expanding powers of the DOJ (a process that has been underway for over a decade, at least), and F&F was certainly illegal, but what has been unconstitutional that they've done?


RE: Tip of the Iceberg
By Piiman on 1/19/2013 1:45:03 PM , Rating: 3
F n F was started under Bush. It had a different name but was the same program.


We are still lucky...
By txDrum on 1/17/2013 3:00:00 PM , Rating: 2
As bad as things like this are (and it seems pretty stupid to me), keep in mind how lucky the average American (or even the average West European or Canadian just as much) is compared to middle eastern/African/most asian countries that aren't south korea or japan.




RE: We are still lucky...
By voodoobunny on 1/17/2013 4:31:19 PM , Rating: 2
That would be because the US Constitution was partly designed to protect US Citizens from their own government if it ever over-reached. This would be, you know, overreach.


RE: We are still lucky...
By eagle470 on 1/17/2013 5:35:55 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, but who is supposed to stop everything and say the Government is over reaching? The people can't and the Government is the guilty party. The only recourse would be revolution but that's not going to happen soon/yet by any means.


RE: We are still lucky...
By Ammohunt on 1/17/13, Rating: -1
RE: We are still lucky...
By madtruths on 1/17/2013 8:04:52 PM , Rating: 2
not to say your wrong, but i saw something along the lines of 80 million gun owners with over 300 million legally owned firearms in country.

when the revolution happened, it was something like 3% of the pop. fighting, with another 10% supporting with supplies and resources. those numbers may not be 100% accurate but even so 3% of todays population is only 9 million people, even without air support, tanks and other heavy weaponry, thats a formidable militia. IF it is at least somewhat organized. not to mention how many combat veterans who have retired after serving in iraq/afghanistan, who would most likely not side with the govt.

do not get me wrong, i long for a PEACEFUL REVOLUTION, another civil war/revolution COULD substantially weaken our country for at least a short period of time. also i am against violence unless absolutely necessary. my hope is we can resolve this through our political system, sadly though those hopes grow dimmer everyday.


RE: We are still lucky...
By Ammohunt on 1/17/2013 10:20:17 PM , Rating: 1
Agreed! Things would have to get much worse in order to awaken the sleeping lion. The point being people should not fool themselves we as a society are not immune to these types of uprisings we are so divided that I am not sure if something better could be put in place.
I think the best approach would be to have state governments seize power back from the federal Government, fire everyone in every branch Legislative ,Executive and judicial (barring existing politicians from ever serving again), dissolve all federal agencies temporarily or permanently migrating the function of those agencies to individual states including tax collection, throw out all legislation related to those agencies along with all legislation related to granting non constitutionally defined powers to each branch of government such as executive privilege. After the dust settles we as a people of which our government is derived from; would hold a continental congress with representatives from each state that would then recreate the federal government in the limited role the creators of constitution originally imagined. If this can be done peacefully and with honest intent then so be it..otherwise we do it the way Thomas Jefferson imagined.


RE: We are still lucky...
By Nfarce on 1/17/2013 11:52:55 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Things would have to get much worse in order to awaken the sleeping lion.


Well, considering the way this nation is elected with more and more people being dependent on government for their well-being and security (especially single mothers and single women), I'm not so sure the lion could ever be woken up again. There comes a tipping point where the majority wants entitlements and so-called security in exchange for liberty.

We are very close to that tipping point. The fact that Obama was re-elected with a failed first four year domestic record (more people on government assistance, more people in poverty, more people on long term unemployment at the end of his first term than when he was elected in 2008) says it all. He promises people things, and they want to be provided with such things. This nation is in serious, SERIOUS trouble.


RE: We are still lucky...
By Nfarce on 1/17/2013 11:54:03 PM , Rating: 2
Word fail: meant to say... the way this nation is headed


RE: We are still lucky...
By madtruths on 1/18/2013 1:32:27 AM , Rating: 2
while i completely understand your point, i pointed out that only 3% of the population actually fought in the first revolution, with 10% supporting with supplies and what not, so even if the majority of the population becomes beiberized and snookified and all that crap pervades their thinking, we few patriots still have a chance. not to mention at this point at least 3% of our population have served in the military at one point with another .45% currently in service. and i believe that a majority of those serving would be for a proper revolution. as for ammohunt, what you describe for 99.999% is what i dream lol. peaceful back to basics. in my personal opinion, i think the feds should stick to national transportation and national defense, as i am pretty sure the states can handle everything else, and the feds, in a limited way, should make keep checks on the states interactions, making sure california and new york do not immediately revert to their current form, at least as far as the constitution is concerned. everything else is fair game as per the tenth amendment. lol that is all for now.


RE: We are still lucky...
By Ammohunt on 1/18/2013 11:55:44 AM , Rating: 2
Very good point however as you know what you described is completely unsustainable when their government saviour can't afford to protect them or feed them then chaos ensues shortly after ala Greece. A complete mess i think is an inevitability lets pray that level heads can bring reasoned order out of the muck. i personally am a cynic though; human nature rarely generates something as great as what the original architects envisioned for this country America was a complete anomaly. Humans appear to want to be enslaved...


RE: We are still lucky...
By JediJeb on 1/18/2013 10:17:17 PM , Rating: 3
Correct, the advantage given to the current government through those who receive entitlements will quickly disappear once there is no more money to hand out. Once the rich have been stripped of their wealth, and companies move to other countries to avoid excessive taxes that will be needed to replace the missing rich, there will be no more money to hand out and promises only satisfy for a very short time. Let's only hope that we are taken over from forces from within nstead of some other country taking advantage of our dilemma.

quote:
Humans appear to want to be enslaved...


I don't think they want to be enslaved, I think it is actually worse. They have a total aversion to personal responsibility and want everything done for them to the point of giving up their freedoms in order to avoid those responsibilities.

The saving grace here though is that for most if you take away the assistance, they will take on the responsibility because they do not want to do without. At least a majority will, there will always be some who completely refuse and suffer rather than take up that responsibility. Once people have to take up those responsibilities you will see them become more involved in running this country again. That is why this country became as great as quickly as it did, at that time everyone HAD to support themselves otherwise they died, and with a society built on the backs of that caliber of citizen can't help but be strong. In contrast a society which has the majority of its citizens putting forth the least amount of effort possible will be a very frail society.


RE: We are still lucky...
By ven1ger on 1/28/2013 5:16:03 PM , Rating: 2
Failed according to whom? The Far Right nutjobs? Obama won re-election because he inherited a severe recession, 2 wars, housing crisis, banking crisis, etc from the previous administration in which, we are slowly pulling ourselves out of the recession, jobless numbers have fallen, we are out of 1 war and winding down the 2nd war, housing crisis and banking crisis averted, though I think a lot of bankers should have gone to jail and all of this with a do-nothing Republican-led House. If that was a failure, I hate to see where you think we should have been.

The numbers of jobs under the current Obama the last four years has been a whole lot more impressive than the whole eight years of the previous administration job numbers. Blaming the current administration for the failings and residue left over from the previous administration is what the Far Right Nutjobs have been foisting upon an easily fooled group of people that believe that crap.

I believe that those people who like to believe the crap they are being spoonfed, instead of thinking, must have a racist streak within themselves, that they can't come to grips that a Black Man can accomplish more than a White Man can. That's why a certain group of people have to keep devaluating what this administration has done and calling him not like US, or claiming that he wasn't born in the US, or that he isn't like us or that he is a Muslim and not an American.

The current administration is far from perfect, but it is a whole lot better than what has happened in the 8 years under the previous administration.


RE: We are still lucky...
By bah12 on 1/18/2013 9:33:29 AM , Rating: 2
Bingo and it is a sad time when most of the population forgets what the true purpose of the 2nd amendment was. The "10 rounds is all you need to hunt" argument truly shows just how ignorant these people are.

It wasn't to ensure I could hunt a animal, it was to arm the people against the tyranny of an out of control central government. To use the acts of a few mentally ill people to further reduce the potency of one of the most important concepts our our Constitution shows you just how far this country has fallen.

One can argue that the 2nd amendment applied more to State militias than the individual, and I could appreciate that point of view. But there isn't a legit historian that wouldn't agree that it's sole purpose was to insure the sovereignty of the people from the federal government. It is a last resort tool to prevent tyranny.

Don't get me wrong I'm not locked up in my basement with a tin foil hat, we are no where near that point yet, but it is scary to see either side try to reduce the power of the 2nd Amendment. Either it shows pure ignorance of the ideals this nation was founded on, or it is the first step in disarming the public. Either way ... scary...


RE: We are still lucky...
By Ammohunt on 1/18/2013 12:02:56 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly and well said! do people really believe that the architects of America were so stupid as to leave out a "for the purpose of hunting" clause in the second amendment if that's what then intended?

Regular citizens possessing the same or near similar firearms of the enemy at the time tipped the war in our favor. This fact was not lost on people like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington but is lost on the average knee jerk reacting American submersed in the insulating reality of our times.


RE: We are still lucky...
By JediJeb on 1/18/2013 10:30:07 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
egular citizens possessing the same or near similar firearms of the enemy at the time tipped the war in our favor


Most of those who came from the mountains and wilds already had rifles which were far superior to the smooth bore muskets that the British army used. They style of warfare we learned while fighting the French and Indian War also vastly aided our victory in the Revolutionary War. During that time the average American had better weapons and better knowledge of warfare on our terrain than their enemy. Now days we would not have such an advantage over our current military. Though the average citizen would have one advantage over the current government in that the rank and file soldier would have second thoughts when it came to carrying out orders to fire on their own fellow citizens. Our military leaders will follow orders, but they also know the ultimate power rests in the people and that the bureaucrats in charge are easily replaced if things fall apart.


RE: We are still lucky...
By jeepga on 1/17/13, Rating: 0
Yet another example...
By lexluthermiester on 1/20/2013 4:37:35 PM , Rating: 2
Yet another example of an out of control government unwilling to follow the rules given to us all by our very wise and knowledgeable founding fathers. By skirting and defying those rules they make themselves no different than the terrorists and criminals they claim to be pursuing. They have become terrorists and criminals. Treasonous behaviors are never justified by unlawful actions. By exercising unconstitutional powers, the government agencies on question have invalidated their authority. Mr. obama has, by his own choice and actions made himself a traitor and enemy of the people of the United States of America. But he is not alone...




RE: Yet another example...
By lexluthermiester on 1/24/2013 1:41:26 PM , Rating: 2
Has it occurred to anyone how much recent events mirror those that took place 80 years ago in German and Austria? Obama seems like he's becoming a little hitler.... Never in my worst nightmares did the degradation if our national values ever become so severe.


-
By kedesh on 1/17/13, Rating: -1
RE: -
By Omega215D on 1/17/2013 4:15:20 PM , Rating: 2
So we give 'em whatever they want as long as it keeps us "safe?"

Military is a different story but civilians?


RE: -
By Spuke on 1/17/2013 4:39:39 PM , Rating: 5
And you were military? Our rights and freedoms trump safety. Would you rather live in a dictatorship if that meant you were 100% safe? I'd rather die than give up my freedom. BTW, also ex-military.


RE: -
By TSS on 1/17/13, Rating: -1
RE: -
By Alexvrb on 1/18/2013 1:21:06 AM , Rating: 3
Freedom or death is stupid? So you're OK with being a slave? Wow. Comparing dying for your freedom with being killed for committing horrific acts? Wow again. Truly you are a prime example of our public education brainwashing programs in action. I must admit I am a little impressed at how well they're working.


RE: -
By Just Tom on 1/18/2013 8:31:49 AM , Rating: 2
A slave can overthrow his master. A dead man is just worm food.


RE: -
By Kurz on 1/18/2013 9:08:11 AM , Rating: 2
He is already dead.
He isn't the master of his own fate any longer.


RE: -
By MechanicalTechie on 1/17/2013 5:25:19 PM , Rating: 2
How incredibly naive of you..

I will never understand the mind set of people that unquestionably trust in governments. The US is experiencing rampant disintegration of its civil liberties and its people’s complacency like yourself that allows this to happen.

Are you unable to see what kind of future you are creating by supporting such tyrannical system?


RE: -
By rudolphna on 1/18/2013 12:21:12 PM , Rating: 1
And I don't understand the tinfoil hat wearers who unquestionably hate, despise, distrust a government. I mean seriously, it doesn't matter what it is they are doing, it's evil, and they are doing it so they can maintain a stranglehold over you and control every aspect of your life.


RE: -
By MechanicalTechie on 1/19/2013 6:18:08 AM , Rating: 2
So its a bad thing to question governments? Is that it? You are exactly the type of person that allows gov's to do anything they like.

What is the second amendment?
What do you think is the reasoning behind it?

C'mon man use your head, rather than being a good little worker drone!


RE: -
By foolsgambit11 on 1/17/2013 6:17:56 PM , Rating: 4
Random searches of people's homes would also help keep us safe. Would you advocate that? Or even better, we could install cameras throughout people's houses, with a direct feed to law enforcement, so there would be a record of any criminal activity - burglary, domestic violence, &c. would all be things of the past! And we know crime is double-plus ungood.


RE: -
By JediJeb on 1/18/2013 10:37:38 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Law Enforcement should have every tool at their disposal to keep us safe.


They do, but it should still involve getting a warrant first. Tracking someone by GPS is not the problem and never has been, tracking them without taking the time to do it legally by getting a judge to issue a warrant first is the problem. With a warrant almost any means of surveillance is legal, but getting a judge to issue the warrant first is the check and balance to keep police operating within the law.

To me one of the most offensive things out there is law enforcement what does not obey the law themselves.


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