Friday, May 05, 2006

Expunged Report on Domestic Wiretaps

Administrative Office of the US Courts removes report about wiretaps. The Memory Hole restores it:

Each April, the Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts is required by federal law to submit to Congress a report detailing the number of federal and state wiretaps approved or authorized during the previous calendar year. On 01 May 2006, the Office posted this report here:
One PDF file contained the main body of the report, and multiple separate PDFs contained the 9 text tables and 4 appendix tables.
A press release about the report is here.
On the evening of 03 May, a librarian reported on an email discussion list that all the files had been deleted from the US Courts website. A copy was not in Google's cache, although the cache did show a page with a deleted link to the 2005 report.
I contacted several journalists who had written about the report to see if they still had a copy of it on their hard drives. They didn't, but on 04 May, one of the reporters called the US Courts' press officer, who said that the report had been yanked because it contained information that is still under judicial seal. A sanitized version of the report is expected to be posted soon.
Soon after I contacted Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center about this, Sherwin Siy of EPIC kindly emailed the body of the original, uncensored report, which he had downloaded and saved.

PDF of report here.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Cato: The Constitutional Record of George W. Bush

In recent judicial confirmation battles, President Bush has repeatedly—and correctly—stressed fidelity to the Constitution as the key qualification for service as a judge. It is also the key qualification for service as the nation's chief executive. On January 20, 2005, for the second time, Mr. Bush took the presidential oath of office set out in the Constitution, swearing to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." With five years of the Bush administration behind us, we have more than enough evidence to make an assessment about the president's commitment to our fundamental legal charter
Unfortunately, far from defending the Constitution, President Bush has repeatedly sought to strip out the limits the document places on federal power. In its official legal briefs and public actions, the Bush administration has advanced a view of federal power that is astonishingly broad, a view that includes

  • a federal government empowered to regulate core political speech—and restrict it greatly when it counts the most: in the days before a federal election;
  • a president who cannot be restrained, through validly enacted statutes, from pursuing any tactic he believes to be effective in the war on terror;
  • a president who has the inherent constitutional authority to designate American citizens suspected of terrorist activity as "enemy combatants," strip them of any constitutional protection, and lock them up without charges for the duration of the war on terror— in other words, perhaps forever; and
  • a federal government with the power to supervise virtually every aspect of American life, from kindergarten, to marriage, to the grave.

President Bush's constitutional vision is, in short, sharply at odds with the text, history, and structure of our Constitution, which authorizes a government of limited powers.

Full Text (PDF, 966 KB)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Junking their fast food addiction

“The image that is most disturbing to me,” says Schlosser, “is the rooms full of very intelligent adults with lofty degrees in psychology and anthropology sitting around trying to figure out how to manipulate three and four-year-olds.”
He could also have mentioned the picture of a child with his head in an MRI machine that scanned his brain activity as he watched commercials — research into “neuromarketing”. Lolly-maker Chupa Chups is very keen on this type of research, hoping to harness activity in the brain associated with its brand image to “create loyal customers”.
Schlosser wouldn’t mind those brainy graduates’ machinations to hook pre-schoolers on burgers and fries “if it was incredibly healthy and good for them, but thinking about getting them to do something that’s going to harm them . . .”

The Music Animation Machine

...A way to visualize complex music - fugues and sonatas and all that. Other tools, such as those mentioned previously here and here, accomplish a similar task in a way, but this is still very, very cool. Watch and download all the videos you can. Bach, Chopin, Scarlatti... if only there were more! Of course, you could buy the DVD. [from]
{I bought the tape for this years ago via Edward Tufte. One-of-a-kind video! -- McLir]

Feds Go All Out to Kill Spy Suit

Bush administration signals intent to invoke the obscure state secrets privilege in order to stop the EFF lawsuit against AT&T, (previously discussed here) for providing the NSA direct access all 312 terabytes of its customers' telephone and internet traffic since 2001, (including those Good Vibrations charges you racked up). In a nutshell, according to legal experts, invoking the privilege kills the judicial process dead: the courthouse doors are closed, and there's nothing but grownup stuff to see here; move along, kids. [from]

Monday, May 01, 2006

Bush challenges hundreds of laws

President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.
Among the laws Bush said he can ignore are military rules and regulations, affirmative-action provisions, requirements that Congress be told about immigration services problems, ''whistle-blower" protections for nuclear regulatory officials, and safeguards against political interference in federally funded research.
Legal scholars say the scope and aggression of Bush's assertions that he can bypass laws represent a concerted effort to expand his power at the expense of Congress, upsetting the balance between the branches of government. The Constitution is clear in assigning to Congress the power to write the laws and to the president a duty ''to take care that the laws be faithfully executed." Bush, however, has repeatedly declared that he does not need to ''execute" a law he believes is unconstitutional.
Former administration officials contend that just because Bush reserves the right to disobey a law does not mean he is not enforcing it: In many cases, he is simply asserting his belief that a certain requirement encroaches on presidential power.
But with the disclosure of Bush's domestic spying program, in which he ignored a law requiring warrants to tap the phones of Americans, many legal specialists say Bush is hardly reluctant to bypass laws he believes he has the constitutional authority to override.