"[A National Security Letter] is a demand letter issued to a particular entity or organization to turn over various record and data pertaining to individuals. They require no probable cause or judicial oversight. They also contain a gag order, preventing the recipient of the letter from disclosing that the letter was ever issued."
"The gag order was ruled unconstitutional as an infringement of free speech, in the Doe v. Ashcroft case." (same article)
For some reason, his reply is dead, but it seems like a valuable comment so I'm reproducing it.
Edit: In case anybody wonders why I threw in Bush's name in there is because the Patriot Act, created during his presidency, greatly extended the NSL powers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Security_Letter
Well, by Mussolini's definition, the US has been a Fascist country for a long time .
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Is_a_Racket. And this is from the 30's.
The degree to which any perceived infringement occurs is what is significant. Bush pushed for and succeeded in suspending habeas corpus, a Constitutional protection by which people can challenge their imprisonment. This was only done twice in history, once by Bush and once by Lincoln at the start of the Civil War. By contrast, President Obama opposed the suspension of habeas corpus since he was a senator.
And Obama authorized the assassination of a US citizen; something even Bush never did:
Re. the assassination of a US citizen, that hardly seems notable given that the guy is very actively involved in putting together terrorist attacks. Surely any president would make the same decision.
1) Among all his rhetoric about not continuing the policy he slips in
"there may be a number of people who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, in some cases because evidence may be tainted, but who nonetheless pose a threat to the security of the United States...must be prevented from attacking us again "
His policy stays the same, he is just better at hiding it from the public.
2) Thats the same rhetoric people used to defend Bush. Innocent till proven guilty in a court of Law I say.
Now, finally, there remains the question of detainees at Guantanamo who cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people. And I have to be honest here -- this is the toughest single issue that we will face. We're going to exhaust every avenue that we have to prosecute those at Guantanamo who pose a danger to our country. But even when this process is complete, there may be a number of people who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, in some cases because evidence may be tainted, but who nonetheless pose a threat to the security of the United States. Examples of that threat include people who've received extensive explosives training at al Qaeda training camps, or commanded Taliban troops in battle, or expressed their allegiance to Osama bin Laden, or otherwise made it clear that they want to kill Americans. These are people who, in effect, remain at war with the United States.
The ease/danger of a transition from a democracy to a totalitarian regime was something of which the Founders were aware. Our freedoms are protected precisely by a Constitutional framework which provides safeguards, like habeas corpus. President Obama is a Constitutional scholar, and acknowledges our bindings to it. Compare that with Bush who was rumored to say it's "just a piece of paper". There may be case by case issues which are difficult as well as debatable for any president to decide, but altering the legal framework in ways which diminish civil liberties and protections is dangerous, and can too easily lead a public that is not paying attention to a place they realize too late they don't want to be.
It doesn't matter what he says in a speech. What matters is what he says via executive orders, policy, and executive branch action.
> President Obama is a Constitutional scholar, and acknowledges our bindings to it.
Oh really? Feel free to cite any of his scholarly writings.
> Compare that with Bush who was rumored to say it's "just a piece of paper".
By someone who had an axe to grind. What has that person said about Obama's continuation and expansion of the same policies? (To be fair, some folks who criticized Bush for doing certain things have criticized Obama for continuing and expanding, but they're a marginalized minority. The "good people" have largely fallen into line.)
Of course, if you want to play "was rumored to say", there are some doozies attributed to Obama.
I disagree. Words have both immediate and historical significance and impact, whether by a dictator like Hitler or a president like John F. Kennedy.
What matters is what he says via executive orders, policy, and executive branch action.
Oh really? Feel free to cite any of his scholarly writings.
"Mar 28, 2008 ... Barack Obama is correct in saying he is a constitutional law professor." source: FactCheck.org (http://www.factcheck.org/askfactcheck/was_barack_obama_reall...)
I will retract the rumor text. I almost didn't put it in, but I wanted to give some context for G. W. Bush's apparent disregard for Constitutional law. But I don't need to. Just watch the 6 minute YouTube video with a noted Constitutional law professor I included. Here it is again: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wmc60JmaLbE
> "Mar 28, 2008 ... Barack Obama is correct in saying he is a constitutional law professor." source: FactCheck.org (http://www.factcheck.org/askfactcheck/was_barack_obama_reall...)
The claim was that he was a constitutional law scholar, not that he was a professor. While there are overlaps between the two groups, neither one is a subset of the other.
I'll ask again - if Obama is a constitutional law scholar, where is his scholarly output?
You're kidding, right? Him being a scholar is an even easier proof than him being a questionable professor -- which the link I listed at FactCheck.org also asserts is true.
Oxford Dictionary (First Definition):
scholar (schol·ar): a specialist in a particular branch of study, especially the humanities; a distinguished academic
From the UC Law School statement at FactCheck.org:
"Senior Lecturers are considered to be members of the Law School faculty and are regarded as professors, although not full-time or tenure-track ... Like Obama, each of the Law School's Senior Lecturers have high-demand careers in politics or public service, which prevent full-time teaching. Several times during his 12 years as a professor in the Law School, Obama was invited to join the faculty in a full-time tenure-track position, but he declined."
>You're kidding, right?
Not at all. I have reasonably high standards for scholars.
For example, even though the degree is "Juris Doctor", I don't call lawyers "Dr.". (However, I will call them "Esquire".)
Meanwhile, you'd call a 6th grade history teacher a "scholar" if they teach some constitution....
This is not about you. It's about the definition in the dictionary. It has as a primary entry for scholar "a distinguished academic".
The definition for "professor" from Wikipedia:
The meaning of the word professor (Latin: professor, person who professes to be an expert in some art or science, teacher of high rank) varies by country. In most English-speaking countries it refers to a senior academic who holds a departmental chair ... etc.
I don't know how you equate "Senior Lecturers regarded as professors" by a university to a 6th grade history teacher who may also be the school gym teacher filling in. That's stretching things a bit.
Which Obama didn't....
In general, real professors have publications. Heck, so do real academic doctors. Honorary and "we're giving him an appointment to curry favor" ones don't.
Point 1: You had a problem with me referring to President Obama as a scholar. Regardless of your semantic arguments, dictionaries also define scholar as simply a student or learned person.
Point 2: The university statement clarifies how and why Obama was regarded as a professor -- and not just an "honorary" one.
Point 3: Most academic doctors or professors with publications do not go on to become the President of the United States. Have you ever stopped to think maybe he was busy in service of the public as well as his family?
Honestly, the original point was about the contrast in perspective, as far as the Constitution is concerned, between Obama and Bush. I really don't see what you are challenging.
Irrelevant. Becoming president doesn't imply that he's anything else.
Or, do you want to argue that he's an astronaut too? He didn't ever go into space, but that's just because he had better things to do.
> Have you ever stopped to think maybe he was busy in service of the public as well as his family?
It doesn't matter why he doesn't have scholarly output. If he doesn't....
FWIW, almost every other editor of the Harvard Law Review managed to crank out a paper or two during their tenure.
> Honestly, the original point was about the contrast in perspective, as far as the Constitution is concerned, between Obama and Bush. I really don't see what you are challenging.
You seem to think that teaching a class tells us something important. Without scholarly output, we know nothing about what he did. (I'm a lecturer at a major university....)
Correct. In the context of a presidency, along with his words, I believe we can infer a regard for the Constitution. And Obama made essentially this point. Take a look at an excerpt from a speech by President Obama on national security:
We are building new partnerships around the world to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates. And we have renewed American diplomacy so that we once again have the strength and standing to truly lead the world. These steps are all critical to keeping America secure. But I believe with every fiber of my being that in the long run we also cannot keep this country safe unless we enlist the power of our most fundamental values. The documents that we hold in this very hall - the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights -are not simply words written into aging parchment. They are the foundation of liberty and justice in this country, and a light that shines for all who seek freedom, fairness, equality and dignity in the world.
I challenge you to find any reference Bush made to any of the above documents at any time while on the subject of national security where he is clearly expressing a regard for the document(s) as a guide.
> I disagree. Words have both immediate and historical significance and impact, whether by a dictator like Hitler or a president like John F. Kennedy.
Both Kennedy and Hitler followed up on their words. Their words were significant because of their actions.
With Obama, at least on these issues, the words and actions are very different.
John F. Kennedy was assassinated more than a year before his first term as president was up. But thankfully his words live on as in this quote which was posted recently here on HN (and is currently the top comment in the thread!) by another member here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1528441
The very word "secrecy" is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment. --JFK
If speeches don't matter as you say, why did the HN member bother to post this? And why is it the top voted comment in the thread?
You'll have to ask the poster.
> And why is it the top voted comment in the thread?
Wowsers, now that's an argument....
As someone said in ancient times, "this is usenet, not something important".
On second thought, I'll venture a guess as to why it was posted - it sounded nice and the poster agreed with it. As to its impact on the real world....
Perhaps someone else can point me to something more definitive describing how the gag orders were ruled unconstitutional?
Maybe they are over-exaggerating for press? Maybe the server crashed, and they dont want the bad press so did a bogus excuse? Stranger things have happened. But I highly doubt this has even remotely anything to do with "operation in your sites" and is likely related to some issue at burstnet. I wouldnt be surprised if law enforcement isnt even involved.
"The company has experienced exceptional growth and currently hosts 5000+ dedicated servers and co-located machines, 5000+ Virtual Private Servers (VPS), and millions of websites."
If it's one guy running it from his apartment, that's gotta be one amazing apartment.
1. A lot of people have no clue as to the legal process
2. It pays REALLY well to have external backups
3. It might be a good idea to use encrypted volumes to store sensitive data, so if authorities are involved, they have to serve you with papers to get your decryption keys. This way you stay more informed.
4. Your hosting provider probably has a clause in their ToS that more or less says "we can terminate your service whenever, the hell, we want and there is nothing you can do about it". Deal with it.
5. This story still sucks.
6. Seems like this guy was simply small enough to just serve a court order and shut down his service. I don't think anyone would shutdown Google for questionable content on a blogger account or google web pages.
7. I am pretty sure, that there is no legal way for a law enforcement agency to remain anonymous while doing something like this. Either I am wrong about it or something is amiss.
There is some chance they found themselves the unwitting participant in a child pornography distribution network, and that they don't know which accounts are 'the ones', and they've taken everything off-line until they've verified which accounts are bad and which are good.
A spokesperson for the company later told CNET that this case had nothing to do with copyright violations.
I wonder what it is.
"We cannot give him his data nor can we provide any other details"
I guess this is one of the dangers of hosting a user-generated content site- law enforcement may confiscate your server. This seems highly unusual even for something like child pornography. Usually they ask (politely then forcefully) the server owner for cooperation. It's possible that the owner of Blogerty is a suspect.
Obviously somebody was a naughty boy, but what about the other users of the server?
Everyone has the right to know why their right is being denied or what they are being charged with. If it was a privet firm then fine, but the government can't just go around closing websites without saying if not in detail then in general what the charges are. How, if the website owner is wronged, is he able to challenge the decision if he does not even know what the allegations are against him.
"We the rabble" are likely in for a 10 year slog to fix things, if we are lucky: paper ballots; some kind of coalition or runoff voting rule changes to take down the "two" party system; reestablishment of the rule of law.
I do agree in a way, just before Tony Blair left, which I think was 2008 or 2007 things seemed to be going in a very dark direction, but frankly, it is the peoples fault.
We are so lucky as to be able to change government without bloodshed and in the UK for what I know we are so lucky as to not go down without a very real power struggle between the executive and the judiciary.
Take them to court I say. That is what they are for.
I hate to be in the shoes of those 70000 people but from the article and evidence available right now this is a really serious matter.