And speaking of police full to the brim with self-righteousness, a woman was arrested in New Jersey for not answering a variant of the question, “Do you know why we pulled you over”…
Two New Jersey state troopers cuffed a woman along a Warren County roadway and hauled her in on an obstruction charge because she refused to answer questions during a routine traffic stop, according to dashboard camera footage obtained by NJ Advance Media.
The Oct. 16 incident, which happened near the New Jersey-Pennsylvania border on Route 519, is now the subject of a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by the woman, Rebecca Musarra, an attorney from Philadelphia.
Musarra claims in the suit the troopers violated basic rules familiar to anybody who’s ever watched a police show on TV, including the right to remain silent.
She claims at least three troopers insisted during the ordeal that her refusal to answer questions was a criminal act.
NJ Advance Media obtained the footage, along with a dispatch log from that evening, through an Open Public Records Act request filed in April.
The documents show Trooper Matthew Stazzone pulled Musarra over just before 9:30 p.m., suspecting her of speeding. He was quickly joined by a second trooper, Demetric Gosa, records show.
The dashboard camera footage shows Stazzone approached the vehicle on the passenger side and asked Musarra for her license, registration and insurance.
“While you’re looking for that, do you know why you’re being pulled over tonight?” the trooper asked her, according to the tape. She claims she provided the documents but didn’t respond.
After asking her several more times, Stazzone walked to the other side of her car, rapping on the window with his flashlight and again demanding a response.
“You’re going to be placed under arrest if you don’t answer my questions,” he told her. Musarra claims the force of the flashlight chipped her window.
The footage shows she eventually told the trooper she was an attorney and that she did not have to answer questions. Stazzone then ordered her out of the vehicle.
As the two troopers cuffed her and walked her toward a troop car, Musarra asked them, “Are you detaining me because I refused to speak?”
“Yeah,” Stazzone replied, according to the video. “Yeah, obstruction,” Gosa added.
Possible Criminal Conversation In Front of 110 N. Wacker Drive
Devlin Barrett of the WSJ reports that the U.S. Justice Department is collecting data on phones through a novel approach: fake cellphone towers on airplanes that fly around the country. Warrants not necessary, of course, because when you clicked through the EULA terms on your new smartphone, you agreed that you gave up all rights to privacy. Well, probably, because who actually reads those things?
The Justice Department is scooping up data from thousands of mobile phones through devices deployed on airplanes that mimic cellphone towers, a high-tech hunt for criminal suspects that is snagging a large number of innocent Americans, according to people familiar with the operations.
The U.S. Marshals Service program, which became fully functional around 2007, operates Cessna aircraft from at least five metropolitan-area airports, with a flying range covering most of the U.S. population, according to people familiar with the program.
Planes are equipped with devices—some known as “dirt boxes” to law-enforcement officials because of the initials of the Boeing Co. unit that produces them1—which mimic cell towers of large telecommunications firms and trick cellphones into reporting their unique registration information.
The technology in the two-foot-square device enables investigators to scoop data from tens of thousands of cellphones in a single flight, collecting their identifying information and general location, these people said.
Sounds great. Warrants are so old fashioned, so 20th Century.
Or as Digby adds:
But never fear, they’ve assured us that they are only using it to catch bad guys.They have no interest in anything you might be doing. Well, unless you’re doing something wrong. If you are an upstanding citizen there’s little reason to worry that the police might be re-routing your phone calls without your knowledge right? Why should you care?
In fact, we really need to re-think that whole 4th Amendment thing altogether. When you think about it, you shouldn’t object to the police ransacking your house and your car without any probable cause either. They could be looking for someone they know is in your neighborhood. If you have nothing to hide in your home why would you object? Sure, they might find something they think is suspicious in your house when they go on their fishing expedition but maybe you shouldn’t have suspicious things in your house if you don’t want the cops finding it, eh?
These dirtboxes are also sophisticated enough to mimic a particular provider. If a drug dealer under surveillance uses Verizon, for instance, then the machine pretends to be a Verizon cell tower and connects only to all the carrier’s subscribers in the area. Once a target’s phone is identified (at which point, connections to other people’s phones are dropped), the box can pinpoint his location within 3 meters and down to a specific room. The WSJ’s sources wouldn’t reveal how often planes loaded with these boxes are deployed (they have a flying range that covers the whole country’s population, by the way), but they said the Cessnas fly out regularly to target a handful of criminals per flight.
Obviously, the more densely populated the target area is, the more data the boxes collect, but it’s unclear what steps are in place to safeguard innocent people’s information. It’s also unclear at this point if they’ve ever used the newer dirtboxes’ capabilities, which include jamming phones and extracting messages, photos and other data remotely. If you’re thinking, “Hmmm fake cell towers? Those sound ominously familiar,” it’s because this isn’t the first time authorities used them. In fact, this dirtbox project sounds like a larger, airborne version of a previous one, wherein feds placed fake towers called “stingrays” in moving cars.
Sorry to hear of Mayor Jean Quan’s evasion of responsibility re: the horrific police riot in Oakland that left Scott Olsen, a 2-tour Iraq Veteran, in the hospital with brain swelling and skull injuries. If you haven’t seen the video, here’s a short version with commentary:
Oakland — Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, who is being criticized from all sides for a police sweep of the Occupy Oakland encampment, said Wednesday that she was not involved in the planning and did not even know when the action was going to take place.
The decision to raid the camp outside City Hall was made by City Administrator Deanna Santana on Oct. 19 with consultation from interim Police Chief Howard Jordan after campers repeatedly blocked paramedics and police from entering the camp despite reports of violence and injuries.
Quan told a news conference at City Hall on Wednesday that her input on the raid was limited.
“I only asked the chief to do one thing: to do it when it was the safest for both the police and the demonstrators,” she said.
The mayor said “I don’t know everything” when asked by reporters if she was satisfied with how police conducted the sweep. She said she spent Wednesday meeting with community groups.
She also defended “99 percent” of police officers “who took a lot of abuse” and who “have really been trying to re-establish that connection with the community.”
So basically, the Mayor is saying she isn’t that interested in what the police are doing in her city, and doesn’t think that is important for her to be involved, or even informed. Oh, and stop being so mean to the poor, poor police, they were just trying to pet kittens.1
Keith Olbermann was disappointed as well, saying (on Current-TV)
Olbermann discussed Mayor Quan’s 20 year liberal career in Oakland and then said, “And in the last two nights Mayor Jean Quan has betrayed all of that. There is no excuse. There is no justification. There is no rationalization for being the mayor who may have begun the great march backward in this country to the days when mayors like Sam Yorty of Los Angeles and Hugh Addonizio of Newark and Richard Dailey of Chicago stood back and their police incited, bullied, overreacted, and brutally assaulted protesters at the height of the Civil Rights and Vietnam movements. Those protests began non-violently, positively with singing and marching and cooperation with authorities, but the police like the police in Oakland, California this week, they injected the violence. Then it escalated and echoed, and soon there wasn’t just one Iraq vet in a hospital with a fractured skull, but there were dead men and women on the streets in this country and no one in this country wants to see that again today.”
He continued, “The mayor of any city is not out on the front lines with cops, and not everything they do can be lain at the mayor’s feet, but if one night a group of peaceable protesters exercising the rights given to them under the Constitution and not rights made up for the cops by the cops like lawful command and imminent threat. If they are attacked with tear gas and rubber bullets and the mayor’s only comments are to commend the police chief for a, “generally peacefully resolution to a situation, “ and after that claim democracy is messy, after the unprovoked actions horrify a nation, she is endorsing and assuming for herself whatever havoc the out of control police officers wrought.”
Later Olbermann closed by pointing out that it was only 15 months ago that Mayor Jean Quan was bullied by the police department, “Fifteen months ago Mayor Jean Quan was bullied by the Oakland Police Department, and tonight she is the bully. Mayor Quan is left with two choices. She can dismiss the acting police chief Howard Jordan and use her mayoral powers to authorize Occupy Oakland to protest again without harassment, or having betrayed everything she supported and all those who supported her, she must resign.”
Too much data, indiscriminately accumulated, is just as much a problem as too little intelligence data, if not worse. Remember when we were America, land of the Free?
It has been demonstrated that when officials must establish before a court that they have reason to intercept communications — that is, that they know what they are doing — we get better intelligence than through indiscriminate collection and fishing expeditions.
The failure of the U.S. Government to detect the fairly glaring Northwest Airlines Christmas plot — despite years and years of constant expansions of Surveillance State powers — illustrates this dynamic perfectly. As President Obama said [Janurary 5th, 2010], the Government — just as was true for 9/11 — had gathered more than enough information to have detected this plot, or at least to have kept Abdulmutallab off airplanes and out of the country. Yet our intelligence agencies — just as was true for 9/11 — failed to understand what they had in their possession. Why is that? Because they had too much to process, including too much data wholly unrelated to Terrorism. In other words, our panic-driven need to vest the Government with more and more surveillance power every time we get scared again by Terrorists — in the name of keeping us safe — has exactly the opposite effect. Numerous pieces of evidence prove that.
Today in The Washington Post, that paper’s CIA spokesman, David Ignatius, explains that Abdulmutallab never made it onto a no-fly list because there are simply too many reports of suspicious individuals being submitted on a daily basis, which causes the system to be “clogged” — overloaded — with information having nothing to do with Terrorism. As a result, actually relevant information ends up obscured or ignored. Identically, Newsweek’s Mike Isikoff and Mark Hosenball report that U.S. intelligence agencies intercept, gather and store so many emails, recorded telephone calls, and other communications that it’s simply impossible to sort through or understand what they have, quite possibly causing them to have missed crucial evidence in their possession about both the Fort Hood and Abdulmutallab plots:
This deluge of Internet traffic — involving e-mailers whose true identity often is not apparent — is one indication of the volume of raw intelligence U.S. spy agencies have had to sort through as they have tried to assess Awlaki’s influence in the West and elsewhere, said the officials, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information. The large volume of messages also may help to explain how agencies can become so overwhelmed with data that sometimes it is difficult, if not impossible, to connect potentially important dots.
Newsweek adds that intelligence agencies likely possessed emails between accused Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan and Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki — as well as recorded telephone calls between al-Awlaki and Abdulmutallab — but simply failed to analyze or understand what they had intercepted.
Pretty pathetic. And the solution is simple: start being much more targeted with information collection so there is less noise and more actionable signal. Allowing 8 year old kids like Mike Hicks to remain on the No-Fly List for seven years is just idiotic
Mikey, who would rather talk about BMX bikes and his athletic trophies than airport security, remains perplexed about the “list” and the hurdles he must clear. “Why do they think a kid is a terrorist?” Mikey asked his mother at one point during the interview.
Mrs. Hicks said the family was amused by the mistake at first. But that amusement quickly turned to annoyance and anger. It should not take seven years to correct the problem, Mrs. Hicks said. She applied for redress in December when she first heard about the Department of Homeland Security’s program.
“I understand the need for security,” she added. “But this is ridiculous. It’s quite clear that he is 8 years old, and while he may have terroristic tendencies at home, he does not have those on a plane.”
For every person on the lists, hundreds of others may get caught up simply because they share the same name; a quick scan through a national phone directory unearthed 1,600 Michael Hickses. Over the past three years, 81,793 frustrated travelers have formally asked that they be struck from the watch list through the Department of Homeland Security; more than 25,000 of their cases are still pending. Others have taken more drastic measures. Mario Labbé, a frequent-flying Canadian record-company executive, started having problems at airports shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, with lengthy delays at checkpoints and mysterious questions about Japan. By 2005, he stopped flying to the United States from Canada, instead meeting American clients in France. Then a forced rerouting to Miami in 2008 led to six hours of questions.
“What’s the name of your mother? Your father? When were you last in Japan?” Mr. Labbé recalled being asked. “Always the same questions in different order. And sometimes, it’s quite aggressive, not funny at all.” Fed up, in the summer of 2008, he changed his name to François Mario Labbé. The problem vanished.
Boy, that makes me feel so much safer – just change your name, and voila, no problems!
The mind-set doesn’t appear to be ending soon, if Massachusetts Police policy is any indication:
A report from the New England Center For Investigative Reporting has chronicled a pattern of what civil liberties advocates say is a misuse of police powers: Massachusetts police are using the state’s stringent surveillance laws to arrest and charge people who record police activities in public.
It’s a situation that is pitting new technologies against police powers. With recording equipment now embedded into cellphones and other common technologies, recording police activities has never been easier, and has resulted in numerous cases of police misconduct being brought to light. And that, rights advocates argue, is precisely what the police are trying to prevent.
In October, 2007, Boston lawyer Simon Glick witnessed what he said was excessive use of police force during the arrest of a juvenile. When he pulled out his cellphone to record the incident, he was arrested and charged with “illegal electronic surveillance.”
In December, 2008, Jon Surmacz, a webmaster at Boston University, was attending a party that was brok
Even the Chicago Transit Authority is getting into the action
The Chicago Transit Authority is so “committed to safety,” that it is urging commuters to report people committing “excessive photography/filming.”
The sign posted inside the train stations places photographers on the same level as, say, a non-CTA employee walking the tracks or an unattended package or “noxious smells or smoke.”
In other words, it accuses photographers of being possible terrorists or just suicidal maniacs.
The problem is that these signs not only encourage commuters to dial 911 when seeing someone taking photos, which will tie up real emergencies, it contradicts the CTA’s own policy on photography and videography within train stations.
A few interesting links collected August 10th through August 11th:
Which Tweets Matter ? – icerocket has added a Twitter search function, and allows a searcher to save more than the 10 searches that Twitter restricts a searcher to.
Nearly Getting Arrested in Downtown Atlanta – “I had a run-in with the law this evening while I was with my friends Scott Kublin and Rick Shearer. Just next door to the Olympic Park is the aquarium and the Coke Museum with a big field in between. There were about a fifty people or so there at the park. I set up my tripod to take a photo of downtown and the Coke Museum was in the middle of the shot. A female cop of came over and told me I had to take down the tripod because I looked like a professional. Coke does not allow that, so she said. I said I’m a blogger with expensive toys and hardly a threat. Then she got quite huffy and agitated before telling me if I did not take down the tripod that I would be arrested.”
Let’s talk about tasers – “Tasers are routinely used by police to torture innocent people who have not broken any law and whose only crime is being disrespectful toward their authority or failing to understand their “orders.” There is ample evidence that police often take no more than 30 seconds to talk to citizens before employing the taser, they use them while people are already handcuffed and thus present no danger, and are used often against the mentally ill and handicapped. It is becoming a barbaric tool of authoritarian, social control.”