A former Philadelphia police officer, once hailed as a hero and given a seat next to the first lady at a 2009 speech by President Obama, has been arrested and charged with rape and other crimes.
Authorities allege that Richard DeCoatsworth left a party with two females early Thursday and took them to another location, where they say that he produced a handgun and “forced the two females to engage in the use of narcotics and sexual acts.”
Photo courtesy of Evan Vucci / AP
Only an idiot would believe that tyranny is NOT around the corner because a politician told you so. Any politician who tells you what to think has something to hide.
If history is any indication of the future, we are walking down the path of tyranny. It’s happened a hundred times in human history and we rarely seem to notice until it’s too late.
There is nothing wrong with expressing great distrust in government. There is nothing wrong with expressing great trust, either. You are entitled to your own views and opinions.
The only problem I see here is not in what you believe, but rather a politician telling you what not to believe. That is something I immediately raise a suspicious brow at.
Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom has been announcing it for months on his website and a white paper released today is the first big step towards that goal.
Titled “The United States vs You (and Kim Dotcom)” and written by Megaupload lawyers Ira Rothken and Robert Amsterdam, the paper accuses the Obama administration of being a pawn of big corporations. It further describes in detail how the authorities obliterated Megaupload on flaky legal grounds.
“The message is clear. The White House is for sale. Due process and the rule of law have little value to the current administration. More and more of our rights are eroding away to protect the interests of large corporations and their billionaire shareholders,” Dotcom tells TorrentFreak.
According to Dotcom his case is just one example of how corporate interests threaten people’s rights and freedom on the Internet in general.
“Silicon Valley has been turned into Surveillance Valley. Kids with keyboards are the new terrorists. Copyright is now a matter of national security. This is all very un-American. Read the White Paper and wake up.”
The 38-page white paper starts with a bang:
“The criminal prosecution of Megaupload and Kim Dotcom is purportedly the ‘largest copyright case in history,’ involving tens of millions of users around the world, and yet it is founded on highly dubious legal principles and apparently propelled by the White House’s desire to mollify the motion picture industry in exchange for campaign contributions and political support,” the white paper begins.
One of the main complaints against the legal process is that under U.S. law Megaupload and its employees can’t be held criminally responsible for copyright infringements committed by the site’s users.
“The prosecution seeks to hold Megaupload and its executives criminally responsible for alleged infringement by the company’s third-party cloud storage users. The problem with the theory, however, is that secondary copyright infringement is not – nor has it ever been – a crime in the United States.”
“The federal courts lack any power to criminalize secondary copyright infringement; the U.S. Congress alone has such authority, and it has not done so. As such, the Megaupload prosecution is not only baseless, it is unprecedented,” Rothken and Amsterdam write.
The paper continues to give a detailed overview of legal jurisprudence in Megaupload’s favor. Among other things, the lawyers note that Megaupload granted very broad DMCA takedown powers to copyright holders, who could remove any file from the cloud hosting service without oversight.
Most of the legal arguments laid out in the white paper have been highlighted previously. What is new, however, is the legal team’s frontal attack on the Obama administration. The suggestion is, that the White House has been corrupted by corporate money and that the assault on Megaupload was a payoff.
“The degree to which the Copyright Lobby, and the MPAA specifically, have managed to instrumentalize the current Administration to take down a foreign corporation and its executives is, quite literally, un-American,” the lawyers write.
Corrupted by sizable election contributions from corporate interest groups, the United States no longer stands for principled standards and the rule of law, the lawyers argue.
“Those values appear to have fallen by the wayside under this White House, which seems content to violate the due process rights of criminal defendants, mislead the courts, and advance baseless legal theories so long as its fund-raising remains uninterrupted.”
The Truth Will Come Out
Megaupload’s lawyers see the MPAA as the driving force behind the criminal prosecution of the cloud hosting site and its employees. According to them, it is no coincidence that the Hollywood group is headed by former Senator Chris Dodd, one of Vice President Joe Biden’s best friends.
“As the new Chairman and CEO of the MPAA, Chris Dodd improperly leveraged his friendship with Joe Biden to achieve the MPAA’s objectives. Former Senator Dodd’s relationship with the Vice President– who comes off manipulated, a cheerfully credulous facilitator – together with the Obama Administration’s ravenous hunger for campaign contributions, has given the MPAA absolute control over how the U.S. Department of Justice plays the game in enforcing copyright law,” they write.
Continuing on the corruption theme, Rothken and Amsterdam go on to describe MPAA’s influence in Washington as “State Capture.”
“The MPAA’s overt use of campaign contributions to sway the U.S. government into engaging in what amounts to unlawful action against Megaupload reflects a form of State Capture, a term coined by the World Bank to describe a brand of corruption characterized by the ability of a relatively small number of private interests to shape the official rules of the game through direct payments or other forms of financial influence.”
One cited example of how political funding was used to influence decisions was a January 2012 threat from the MPAA’s Chris Dodd. He stated that Hollywood would stop donating to politicians who fail to protect their interests.
“By threatening to revoke vital political and monetary support from the Administration at a crucial moment, the MPAA has exercised de facto control over key levers of executive power in Washington – law enforcement, prosecutors, trade negotiators – and is using those instruments of state power to further the financial interests of its members in Hollywood.”
The white paper further gives numerous examples of how Megaupload’s lawyers believe the authorities abused their power to further the interests of the copyright lobby. The overall conclusion is that people’s rights and freedoms are trumped to secure political donations, which are clear signs of contract prosecution.
“The U.S. government’s attack against Megaupload bears all the hallmarks of a contract prosecution: a case resting on erroneous theories of criminal law, littered with due process violations and prosecutorial abuses, carried out for the benefit of a select few in exchange for their political and financial support,” the lawyers write.
“In the name of eliminating copyright infringement, Hollywood has exerted a corrupting influence in Washington, leading us all down a slippery slope that not only threatens innovation and Internet freedom, but also has profound implications for constitutional principles of free speech, privacy and due process.”
Finally, the white paper suggests that this is not an isolated incident. It warns the public that these corrupt forces can quash anything that stands in the way of the private interests of those who make significant campaign contributions.
“Megaupload and Kim Dotcom are today’s targets, but the crosshairs can just as easily be trained on anybody who dares challenge or inconvenience a special interest that holds sway in Washington, and the current Administration – with its notoriously insatiable appetite for campaign contributions – seems all too willing to cooperate.”
The above points are just samples from the white paper, which is certainly worth reading in its entirety. There is no doubt that the Megaupload legal team have just planted a virtual bomb under the Megaupload prosecution. It will be interesting to see how this is received, and whether we will hear a response from the accused.
Here we go again. The Obama administration has asked its allies in Congress to introduce legislation that would permit the feds to continue their march through the Fourth Amendment when it comes to obtaining private information about all of us.
The Fourth Amendment, which guarantees the right to be left alone, was written largely in response to legislation Parliament enacted in the Colonial era that permitted British soldiers to write their own search warrants and then use those warrants as a legal basis to enter private homes. The ostensible purpose of doing that was to search the Colonists’ papers for stamps, which the Stamp Act required the Colonists to affix to all documents in their possession. The laws that permitted the soldier-written search warrants and the Stamp Act were the British government’s fatal political mistakes, which arguably caused a major shift in Colonial opinion toward secession 10 years before the bloody part of the Revolution began.
After the Founding Fathers won the Revolution, they wrote the Constitution in large measure to assure that the federal government would not and could not do to Americans what the king had done to the Colonists. Hence the Fourth Amendment’s requirement that only judges issue search warrants and only after the governmental agency seeking the warrants presents evidence under oath of probable cause of crime. That was weakened after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks with the enactment of the USA Patriot Act.
The Patriot Act — written in defiance of the Constitution and in ignorance of U.S. history — permits federal agents to write their own search warrants, just as the king and Parliament permitted British soldiers to do. Those agent-written search warrants are intended to be limited to the search for evidence of terrorist plots and theoretically are limited to the seizure of physical records in the custody of third parties, such as lawyers, doctors, hospitals, billing clerks, telephone and Internet carriers, and even the Postal Service. (Did you know that federal agents can see your mail and your legal and medical records without permission from a judge?) This abominable piece of legislation sacrificed freedom for safety and enhanced neither.
Now the feds want even more personal liberty sacrificed — this time to make it easier for them to collect digital information.
The Obama administration wants legislation that would punish Internet-service providers that fail to cooperate with FBI requests and court orders. The FBI has revealed that its agents often “lack the time” to obtain search warrants, so they have gotten into the bad habit of asking Internet-service providers to let them in without warrants.
This was done notoriously in the Bush era, during which the feds promised immunity to telephone service providers that enabled the feds to spy on their customers. That spying was criminal and gave rise to civil causes of action for damages, as well, until Congress changed the law retroactively and granted the promised immunity after the Bush administration spying was exposed.
Some telephone service providers declined the government requests then, and some Internet providers decline these requests today. Hence, the proposed legislation would punish providers that protect the privacy of their customers by telling the FBI to go home.
The second category of punishment sought by the administration is for when the FBI needs information to obtain a warrant. A search warrant typically authorizes the government to enter private premises and look for the specific items designated in the warrant, but it does not require the custodian of those specific items to find them for the government. The proposed legislation would change all that.
The government has revealed subtly that when it comes to digital data, it often does not know what it is looking for, and its agents lack the skills to hook into the Internet providers’ systems. This raises another set of questions that are likely to escape members of Congress as they examine this latest assault on the Fourth Amendment.
The framers were careful when they wrote the Fourth Amendment, as it imposes the most explicit requirements on the government found anywhere in the Constitution. It requires that all search warrants “particularly describ[e] the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” So, if the government follows the Constitution, it cannot seek what it is unable to identify, and it cannot compel the custodian of whatever records it is seeking to do its work for it.