Friday, May 04, 2007

First, habeas corpus. Then, posse comitatus. NOW, the FIRST AMENDMENT (guest post by Uranus)

(update: see updates below)

Alberto Gonzales is a man of many causes. The ultimate loyal Bushie, he has easily transitioned from one monstrous constitutional catastrophe to another and another—and neither George Bush nor Karl Rove could pray to Jeebus for greater loyalty from their own sons.

Benedict Arnold himself would cower in shame at Gonzales' innate sense for quickly gutting America's most precious precepts and guarantees. In calling the Geneva Convention "quaint" and advising his president there's nothing at all wrong with torturing suspects and holding them indefinitely without charges, not to forget hearing every phone call and reading every hard drive, he will clearly go down in history as among America's most loathsome, vicious and shitty criminals.

Now he is under investigation by Congress for politicizing the country's federal prosecuting attorneys, replacing competent individuals with friends of the republican party who are young and have no experience, but who are willing to do dirty jobs, break the law, pursue bogus charges on innocent people and swear an oath of loyalty to him and George W. Bush, a serious federal offense. Lacking the legal talent to exercise a little restraint, one would think he'd have the common sense arising from a desire for self preservation to move with a little finesse.

But not Gonzales. When it comes to establishing an oppressive American monarchy, he believes in expediency. So, it's full speed ahead, and let's kick out the jams. During the castration of congressional inquiry into the White House's plan to rig the Department of Justice to GOP benefit, and the democrats' detriment, Gonzales has needed a little cover. So, he's told the cameras he wasn't worried about any investigations because he's keeping himself busy protecting children.

Washington announced some time ago it planned to drum up a phony campaign to fight internet porn. This has morphed into a holy crusade to lock up people for sharing or possessing so-called "child pornography," and give them very long jail sentences. This program was supposedly dreamed up by Gonzales and his two minions, Regent Law School favorite Monica Goodling, Gonzales' former White House liason, and Rachel Paulose, both of whom had helped the 2004 Bush campaign by dredging "opposition research" on democrats, using the administration's illegal surveillance.
This crusade had help from Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty, and the suggestion has been made the program was designed in the White House:

In Minnesota, Rachel K. Paulose was named interim U.S. attorney 13 months ago and nominated for the permanent job in December. As senior counsel to McNulty, she helped draft an initiative to crack down on child pornography through long prison sentences. Since arriving in Minneapolis, she has expanded investigations of such crimes, which have been a high priority for Gonzales, and pushed for sentences she has called "righteous."

Paulose replaced Thomas B. Heffelfinger, who spent nearly 20 years as a state and federal prosecutor and recently left for private practice to increase his income. Heffelfinger supervised Paulose when she was a young assistant prosecutor in the office. He would not comment on her qualifications. "I was 58 when I left. She was 32 when she started," he said. "I brought significantly different things to the job than she brings to the job - without valuing them one way or the other."

What sort of activities would you think deserved prosecution, and how much time should a defendant get? For our chatroom friend, Harlan Harris, the answers are two images sent in the form of a single, forwarded e-mail, and 14 to 17½ years.

That's two computer files, and up to 17½ years in a federal penitentiary for a charge related to exploiting a child. Harlan was known by thousands of people, and it was also known he never molested or even touched a child.

I hope Gonzales feels vindicated. Harlan hanged himself, and he wasn't the first or last to commit suicide. Self-righteous U.S. Attorney Doug Horn remarked that "prosecutors ask that defendants be held in jail in just about every case in which a "crime of violence," such as child pornography, is involved. Violence is right. The judge disagreed and had allowed bail.

Anyone who thinks this is about protecting children is badly mistaken; frankly, you'd need shit for brains. This is a dubious justification for surveillance, and a typical Bush administration experiment in gutting what is inarguably our most precious right and freedom, that of free speech. The administration's reasoning is typical simplemindedness: if you can outlaw any form of expression, any and every other form is fair game.

I mentioned Harlan's story in comments before Luke went on vacation. I wasn't going to write a post about it, but last night I happened to catch
this interesting news item entitled Should the law deputize computer techicians into nabbing child abusers?:

The states of Connecticut and California are considering legislation that essentially deputizes comptuer technicians into joining war against child abuse and pornography. According to an Associated Press report:

Computer technicians would be obligated to report child abuse just like doctors, teachers and others who work closely with children, under measures being considered by lawmakers in two states. At least five states—Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina and South Dakota—require computer technicians to report child pornography. Connecticut and California are considering legislation that would go a step farther, adding technicians to the list of "mandated reporters" who notify authorities about any type of child abuse and neglect.

In enlisting computer technicians, Gonzales and the Bush administration have demonstrated they are the worst kind of psychopaths, the kind who enlist others as minions and toadies. ZDNet has a poll on that website, and sure enough, more than half of the readers who responded said NO, computer technicians shouldn't be cops—and had they known how small an offense is needed, and how many years a person could get upon conviction, that number would undoubtedly be higher.

I'd like to remind jackasses like Gonzales and Paulose what the first amendment says, in that they've obviously never seen it:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This marvelously simple sentence covers much ground. As far as communication between people, it says you can think it, say it, see it, read it, write it, copy it and share it, WHATEVER it is. Citizens have a duty to defend the provisions of the Bill of Rights. Other amendments come to mind, like amendment eight:

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Written in 1789, these ideas are just as relevant now as then, and as they will always be. Any notion there are exceptions, or that other interests supercede, is just a lot of baloney. That's why the language is purposefully simple, so as to be self-evident to the most modest of intellect. Gonzales and present day lawmakers don't rise to that standard. Even the worst and most questionable information requires the same absolute level of defense; otherwise, any and all of us can face indeterminate prison sentences for anything we write, see, say, share—or even think.

Update: One of the comments pointed out Paulose attended Yale, not Regent, law school, and I found several sources which confirmed that point. I have to admit I made that assumption based on her work with McNulty and close friendship with Goodling and the fact she was known to quote Bible verses in the office. Paulose isn't the point of this, anyway. If I'd wanted to influence someone's opinion about her, I'd have mentioned her membership in the conservative Federalist Society, or how she'd become the subject of controversy after four senior attorneys in her office resigned in protest of her "dictatorial" management style. Of course, they were more polite about it than most of the reporters covering the story, who overwhelmingly stated that despite her impressive credentials her appointment looked more like the product of her connections with republican politics and the conservative movement. I haven't met her.

Likewise, there was the criticism I didn't know what Harris was doing and shouldn't defend him. Harris isn't the point either. I admit I never met Harris, but spent many thousands of hours logged into chatrooms where he came and went. I know that he claimed to be gay. I also know he was not a predator, and was extremely well liked, and a gentleman. If that were not so, I would know. And I'd certainly speak up.

Child pornography isn't the point, either. The Tulsa World article said the evidence against him was two picture files. Is there anything that can be put in a computer file which justifies that much jail time? It's a crime to deliberately send a computer virus; but if someone sends one to my computer, should he or I go to prison for nearly 20 years? Whether or not it is fair to be convicted, consider the outlay of public funds to imprison someone for that length of time. Is it justice, or vengeance? Be skeptical about what public servants do in the name of protecting children: usually there is another point to it. I don't know how much Horn and Paulose are paid, but I wouldn't work their child pornography initiative for all the money in the world, and I stand by my position that it's a potent threat to first amendment rights.


lukery said...

nice post.

horrible story.

(you must hate children, right? or do you LOVE them????)

Anonymous said...

What a garbage post. You have no facts for most of the outrageous claims you make, many of which are verifiably false. STOP THE LIES!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the first two posters. Since when did Yale Law School graduate Paulose become a "Regent Law School favorite"? And did you bother to check out the ACTUAL facts as to why Horn prosecuted sicko Harlan Harris? You people are worse than tabloid journalists, just mass marketing your TRASH for partisan hack purposes.

«—U®Anu§—» said...

I admit I didn't check Rachel's transcript. It turns out, she's quite the scholar. I'll fix that error, so there won't be any objections.

«—U®Anu§—» said...

Yes, it's a horrible story, so bad I didn't care to say a lot about it. But when I saw my own home state had a law REQUIRING computer technicians to report porn they found on computers...well, I thought I should tell it to someone.

I apologize to Rachel Paulose for slurring her education credentials. That was wrong, and I shouldn't have done it.

I'd use more care with people who weren't trying to slip it by all the time under the cover of protecting children. My parents and my friends' parents had a way of protecting children! They hated us. Not as a conversation device, they actually did. They told us, in all sincerity, not to talk to strangers or accept a ride, because we'd just wind up buried in the woods somewhere. Furthermore, they wouldn't bother trying to find us, and wouldn't think of us anymore, because we'd been too stupid and had made them ashamed. Now, that's some REAL child protecting: I still won't accept a ride from a stranger, and I'm 53.

To our anons, I wholeheartedly defend your right to call me a liar and partisan hack, and if you want to do it go ahead. This is the U.S.A. But, if you want to argue that freedom of speech is an outdated concept, and you do it here, I'll argue with you. How much you believe in freedom of speech can be gauged by how willing you are to defend it, even the worst of it, especially the worst of it. I'm registered as a democrat. But, I don't know how other democrats feel about the campaign to stamp out child pornography. I passed the link around to a few people who responded with absolute silence. I know what I think, and I said it. I assume others don't know what to think, so they say nothing. You spoke your minds. That happens because you can.

My personal opinion is that engaging in sexuality with preadolescents is a terrible thing. It should be a crime, and it is. Photographing it makes a trail of evidence, but that isn't the crime. Years ago I received a porn video in e-mail which was very hard to see. It occurred to me about a year later that the people in it may have been too young. I'm sure whoever sent it had no idea. Under this crusade, we could have both been sent to prison. Did we commit a crime? If that happened to you, and the police found out, would you let yourself be arrested? It's more than a rhetorical exercise. It's a matter of life and death. It can happen to YOU. That evidence is also very easy to plant.

lukery said...

thanks to those who pointed out the errors

«—U®Anu§—» said...

I read a list of Bush appointees from Regent somewhere, and darned if Rachel's name wasn't on it. But, I couldn't find it. I haven't tried to learn what penalty a computer technician incurs for failing to report pornography. It isn't something one would necessarily uncover when servicing a computer. Other than entrapment, I wonder how the enforcement for that works.

My father had a partner with architectural degrees from Harvard and Oxford, the finest credentials money can buy, best in the world. The man couldn't draw a line. The firm used him to deliver plans to customers.

Rachel may be subpoenaed in the Gonzales investigation. That should be interesting.

Benny said...

Thank you, Uranus, for your fine writing and brave content. I concurr, as you pointed out, that graduating from Yale is not proof of superior ability, or even substandard ability. It more likely proves either wealth in the family or maybe nothing at all. George W. Bush, or course, is one of the more famous Yalees. And Dubya, of course, is a goofball.

«—U®Anu§—» said...

Thanks, Benny. You are a good, good boy. I have to admit, I know Benny: he is Janet's cat.