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In the Washington elite, you never have to say you’re sorry

The United States already has by far the per capita largest prison population of any developed country but I am probably one of the few Americans who on this Independence Day would like to see a lot more people in prison, mostly drawn from politicians and senior bureaucrats who have long believed that their status makes them untouchable, giving them license to steal and even to kill. The sad fact is that while whistleblowers have been imprisoned for revealing government criminality, no one in the federal bureaucracy has ever actually been punished for the crimes of torture, kidnapping and assassination committed during the George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama presidencies.

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Why we need journalists and readers who understand when they are being fed propaganda

Editor: The following article illustrates the kind of shoddy writing that passes for journalism today.

or Questions About Sunday Times Snowden Story

The Sunday Times has a front page story out today claiming that the Chinese and Russian governments have somehow managed to obtain National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden's trove of documents. The story is sourced from anonymous UK government officials who make a series of significant allegations, unfortunately backed up with zero evidence. It's worth going through some of the key points of the story to cast some critical scrutiny on the central claims and to raise a few questions about them:

1) "RUSSIA and China have cracked the top-secret cache of files stolen by the fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden...according to senior officials in Downing Street, the Home Office and the security services."

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Baltimore Mayor: “We also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well.”

Baltimore has erupted in chaos ever since Freddie Gray died in police custody after being arrested on drug suspicions.  It’d gotten so bad that the violent rioters protesters exercising their first amendment rights were so passionately violently rioting exercising their first amendment rights, people weren’t allowed to leave the Orioles/Red Sox game… because of all the violent rioting free speech that was going on outside.

Thankfully, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake held a news conference to urge calm…

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Why You Should Assert Your Rights

The following was from a recent email communication from Steve Silverman of Flex Your Rights.

On Tuesday the Court held in Rodriguez v. U.S. that suspects cannot be detained beyond the scope of a routine traffic stop for the sole purpose of performing a dog sniff. The 6-3 ruling is indeed a big win for the 4th Amendment. But our old friend and former-Flex Associate Director Scott Morgan emailed me a note about why this ruling is particularly special.

Hey Steve,

Great ruling today! Of course, everyone's going to talk about the rarity of the Court upholding the 4th Amendment these days. What I noticed (and hope more people see) is that this case only happened because the suspect asserted his rights by refusing the dog sniff. It's a point I used to make frequently in the Flex Blog that SCOTUS rulings limiting 4th Amendment protections tend to arise from situations where the suspect did not assert their rights (e.g. Florida v. Bostick). Yet here's a case where the suspect did flex their rights, and look at the outcome! If anyone wonders how asserting your rights makes a difference, well ... here you go.


Great point, Scott! Anytime suspects fail to clearly invoke their 4th Amendment rights, their defense is confined to the more difficult path of articulating other procedural 4th Amendment violations. Because of the relative weakness of such arguments, courts will often find that police acted in “good faith” by executing a search they believed to be lawful. This sets bad precedent expanding the scope of legal police searches.

However, when citizens clearly assert their rights, they empower the courts to rule in their favor by setting a higher evidentiary standard necessary to override their refusal. In other words, there’s a greater likelihood for a 4th Amendment victory – which is likely to set good precedent limiting the scope of legal police searches.

I don’t know if Dennys Rodriguez has seen our videos, but when police asked him to wait around until a drug dog could sniff his vehicle, he correctly refused. If more citizens are empowered to do the same – we’ll get better cases, better rulings, and a stronger 4th Amendment.

Taxes Or Death

Waco complex in flames

Ah, blessed spring. That time of renewal, when our lawns start growing again, trees start budding, and flowers start blooming. The time, they say, when young men’s thoughts turn to love. But along with these pleasant things, the thoughts of many also inevitably turn to taxes, as the April 15 deadline for filing dreaded 1040 returns — those self-confession forms that the government insists we are required to file every year — looms once again. And I’m not immune to those thoughts of taxes either; I’m just prohibited by an unconstitutional infringement on my right to free speech — that dastardly federal injunction against the Fellowship — from discussing income taxes. So, this month I’m going to talk a little about some other taxes that come to mind as April rolls around.

I was recently reading through the comments for an internet article discussing the situation in Syria, where people protesting against the government are being brutally attacked by that same government. It comes as no surprise that Syria is no more tolerant of those who don’t bow down to their every edict and whim than is the United States (or any government, for that matter). The discussion centered somewhat on the relative severity of the responses from the two governments, with the comparison on the U.S. side being the shooting of unarmed war protesters at Kent State University by National Guard soldiers on May 4, 1970. Some commentators denounced the comparison because while it was regrettable that a couple of people were shot in Ohio, Syria was using tanks against their protesters. Now there’s no question that tanks are an escalation over rifles, but it got me thinking about whether Kent State was really the best example of the U.S. government abusing its citizens.

April 19th is Patriots’ Day, because on that day in 1775 was fired the “shot heard ‘round the world” — the shot attributed with starting the War for Independence in Lexington, Massachusetts. In recent history however, Patriot’s Day has taken on other significance.1 On that day in 1995, the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City was blown up, purportedly by Timothy McVey in retaliation for the 1993 massacre in Waco, Texas. And that is the example that came to my mind when thinking about governments using tanks against their own people.

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Why Charlie Rose is an embarrassment to CBS

Recently CBS 60 Minutes' Charlie Rose interviewed Bashir al-Assad. President of Syria. If you watch the replay of that interview on their web site, Assad responding to a question about support for ISIS by the Syrian people by saying, “They have lost. Except the very ideological people who have Wahhabi state of mind and ideology.” Rose (or the editor) then moves on to an unrelated question about civilian casualties without follow up to the ideology of Wahhabism.

My immediate reaction while watching this is that Rose has no clue what Wahhabism is all about. Later Asad (not Rose) brings up the Saudis and Wahhabism again.

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