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Reddit AmA: Director of the first ISP to challenge the USA Patriot Act (reddit.com)
154 points by mixmax on Feb 11, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 17 comments

One of the concerns of the 2nd amendment was protecting the people from an unjust government. Back then I could see a citizens militia being able to violently protect their rights as a form of last resort. These days unless you live in a fortified mountain cave you would have great difficulty protecting yourself from the US military (if it came to that). Luckily the chances of the US military/government staging an overt violent coup are slim to none. Unluckily there are a range of new means to subvert freedoms that you can't resist with guns. Mr. Calyx holing up with a machine gun would have done nothing to preserve the rights he thought were being violated. Today we need a new form of the 2nd amendment that prevents figures of authority trying to prevent people recording them when they work[1][2], and protections for people's privacy both in person and online.


[2]http://newsone.com/nation/newsonestaff2/chad-holley-brutally... - the video was initially suppressed

Not sure how comments like this always get so much support. We just witnessed citizen militias giving the US military trouble for years in Iraq. It didn't stop until we started paying those militias not to attack (Awakening) aka "The Surge".

And in Afghanistan the fight is still continuing. In the long run a professional military cannot beat a indigenous population without resorting to near genocide. It's too easy for the locals to bury their weapons and go about their business until the opportune moment presents itself.

Professional military must supply, train and fund soldiers continually. There is no "taking a few months off."

Also people who think the 2nd amendment has been nullified by our military having better weapons always seem to assume soldiers themselves are thoughtless automatons incapable of rational though. If the situation in this country ever came to insurrection a portion of active military would certainly end up on the citizens' side.

I've read disturbing things about the goals and techniques of boot camp. I assume what soldiers are subjected to today is at least as effective as that which enabled the Kent State and leaked "Collateral Murder" shootings.

But you just admitted that you can neutralize citizen militias by bribing them.

Which has nothing to do with military might.

The truth is that the military has very little power inside of a city. If you don't believe me, simply look at how effective the Finn's tactics were in the Winter War.

To put it simply everyone has access to liquor and fuel. From what I've read it still only seems to take 2-3 molotov cocktails to force the crew out of a tank (IIRC British crew were forced out of an APC from 3 hits that weren't visibly targeted), once the crew is out of the tank you either have a nice new tank, or access to munitions that can be used to your own advantage, or you simply killed 3 enemy combatants and a molotov inside the tank will ultimately render it useless or could potentially set off their ammunition and destroy the tank.

The military is armed to fight militaries. A tank, even a small unit of 20 men is no match for a guy on the 12th floor with a balcony lined with self-igniting molotovs. No weaponry on the tank can shoot him and a blanket bombing into the midst of the troops is going to kill most of them and the guy can be gone before any soldiers ever get to him (pulling the fire alarm disables elevators in most buildings, plus I doubt soldiers would ever trap themselves in an elevator when they've just been molotoved 5-seconds ago).

Over 80% of our populations live within urban areas, which in the US' case represents 2% of its land. Even given 1% of the population standing up to fight against their government would result in 2.4 million combatants in these urban areas, basically meaning insta-win for the guerillas as the US military only has 1.5 million active soldiers (I doubt you'd have 100% willing to fight against their own civilians, and I seriously doubt they'd manage to get 100% of the 1.4 million reservists to fight). Given the Finns lethality in the Winter War (6 soviet deaths/injuries to every 1 Finn; note this included the Soviets dropping cluster bombs). On the number of tanks the Finns destroyed ~100 tanks for every one they lost, so to put it simply the guerrillas likely destroyed near 3500 tanks with little formal hardware or weapons.

The thing that annoys me is that people think 'tank' and think its invincible from anything but a bigger badder weapon (IE a missile). Most tanks operate with their hatches open so they can see around themselves as they barely have any view from within the tank, which means a single hit with a molotov could potentially destroy the tank. A few of these attacks would mean all tanks would have their hatches closed, meaning operating blind when inside a city (they don't just have to see 360 degrees around themselves, but also 180 degrees above them).

Once the fighting starts, the civilians will have access to captured munitions. IE grenades, rifles and if they're lucky captured shells from a tank. Screw a molotov cocktail, a tank shell falling 10-stories would definitely be bye-bye to a tank.

Have you heard of the massacre of Hama?

All that's required for militaries to be very effective in an urban area is sufficient disregard for human life.

I'm not arguing against that, I'm saying the US military isn't ever going to get there. The military is made up of people, when this kind of order comes down from Congress you'll be entering the area of a military coup.

This isn't the middle east, our populace is raised in a democracy where they took freedom of speech for granted. Also our population hasn't allowed itself to be in a state of war with a neighbouring country for 50 years under essentially martial law.

University Fees led to ~40,000 people protesting in London. Over the poll tax they ended up with 200,000 (by police estimates) protesting in London, the police had so little control that they actually wanted to use an armed response (which IIRC was denied due to the crowd having no small arms). What do you think will happen if our government tried to ban free speech?

I don't know about Americans, but I know we Brits will protest over anything.

I am pretty sure a citizen militia today could get pretty far with popular support (thankfully it has never gotten that bad in the US). I think anything that weakens any single amendment of the bill of rights weakens them all.

I don't buy it. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights was built to be amended should change be necessary. More importantly, it is clear that the Bill of Rights is, to some degree, a cobbled together response to the specific grievances the colonies suffered from dear old England, rather than some platonic listing of the rights of man. (I'm looking right at the 3rd amendment here. It doesn't seem like it belongs in the company of say, the first and the fourth.) My point is that not all of the points in the Bill of Rights were created equal, so ascribing equal importance to all of them seems misguided.

The history of the Bill of Rights is pretty interesting and complicated, but at its heart, it is a listing of what was believed was needed to keep a people free from government oppression. It was not designed to be amended by reduction. I believe (and it seems to go with SC rulings) that attempts to limit any of them weaken the rest by erosion. The third amendment might seem to have lost some of its importance because it unthinkable today, but it provides a very important restriction on government. Weakening one allows the weakening of all.

While reading Nick's story in text is incredible, I caught his presentation on the topic & the repercussions at 27C3 in December, and would thoroughly recommend watching the video recording if you're interested in it. Could be good question fuel for the AMA too:


The other comment I have is that I heard him say that one person can win, and can make a difference.

However, there are two caveats to that statement: if you can get access to the resources of the ACLU and if your story turns out, in the end, as Nick's did. I don't want to be a wet blanket, but I am painfully aware that for his one story, there are [by his account] 200,000 other stories which did not turn out that way. Maybe they are living happy free lives in Ohio, or maybe they were "disappeared."

Thank you for that link.

It it overwhelmingly scary and makes me feel as though I did not donate enough to the ACLU and EFF. I often wonder if there is any amount which is "enough."

It's mind boggling that the greatest threat to an individual's freedom in this country is in fact the federal government itself.

Great post -- kudos to Nick for him coming forward on this.

With the PATRIOT Act up for renewal, now's a good time to do something about it. A few links:





"With three provisions set to expire at the end of this month, and Tuesday’s revolt in the House against fast-track reauthorization, there has never been a better time to insist that Congress restore constitutional rights.

Take action now."


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