School that took pictures of students in their homes will not face charges

Call me old fashioned, but I like my privacy, and the privacy of every American.  I don’t care if the laptops were stolen; that does not give a school the right to eavesdrop and take 56,000 pictures of people in their potentially most vulnerable moments.

The FBI says they won’t prosecute.  Of course they wouldn’t.  Why would they want to prosecute for something they do all the time?

The Raw Story

The federal prosecutor investigating the case of a Pennsylvania school district that spied on its students via remote-controlled laptop cameras says the school district won’t face criminal charges in the case.

US Attorney Zane David Memenger said in a statement that there is no evidence the Lower Merion School District, in suburban Philadelphia, had any criminal intent when it remotely activated cameras on laptops issued to students.

“For the government to prosecute a criminal case, it must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person charged acted with criminal intent,” Memeger said, as quoted at Information Week. “We have not found evidence that would establish beyond a reasonable doubt that anyone involved had criminal intent.”

The issue came to light in February, when the parents of Harriton High School student Blake Robbins filed a class-action lawsuit alleging the school district invaded Robbins’ privacy by filming him in his home through his school-issued laptop. It emerged later that the school district photographed Robbins 400 times in a two-week period, in various states of undress and even during his sleep.

Investigators found that the remote-controlled cameras took some 56,000 pictures of Lower Merion School District students over a two-year period, with the cameras sometimes left on for weeks at a time.

The school district claimed initially it used the remote-operated cameras to locate lost or stolen laptops. But the Robbins lawsuit alleges that the school district used the cameras for other purposes. In Robbins’ case, the 15-year-old student was confronted by a vice principal over what the school official thought was drug use. The vice principal saw a pill in Robbins’ bedroom, which the plaintiffs say was simply candy.

The FBI launched an investigation of the school district in February, but the US Attorney’s findings have effectively put an end to any criminal law issue in the matter.

The prosecutor’s conclusion “supports the findings of our internal investigation and follows … approval of new laptop policies by the school board,” Lower Merion School District Superintendent Christopher W. McGinley said, as quoted at PCMag. “This is all good news for the students and staff of Lower Merion School District as we prepare for the start of a new school year.”

The school district has adopted a new policy that sets guidelines for when the laptop cameras can be used by school officials, and requires parents to sign off on use of the cameras, or decline participating in the school’s program to issue laptops to students, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The lack of criminal charges doesn’t mean the school district is off the hook. The Robbins’ civil lawsuit is still before the courts, as is another lawsuit, this one launched last month by student Jilal Hasan.


The illegal immigrant exodus begins

We live in a country in post 9/11 where the guv’ment has eavesdropped in on our phone calls, e-mails, and even put Americans on watchlists.  Senators like Joe Lieberman and John McCain have sponsored bills to have Americans stripped of their rights and citizenship, held indefinately and interrogated, all in the name of “enemy combatant”.  Legislation for I.D. card has been passed.  Habeous Corpus and Posse Comatatous have been obliterated.

Arizona wants to know who is documented and who isn’t and everyone gets in a frazzle.  To say that border jumpers have rights is to say that we don’t have rights.  I’ve got news for border jumpers:  The only right that you have is to get out of my country,  You know, the one that I pay taxes to.

PHOENIX (Reuters) – Nicaraguan mother Lorena Aguilar hawks a television set and a few clothes on the baking sidewalk outside her west Phoenix apartment block.

A few paces up the street, her undocumented Mexican neighbor Wendi Villasenor touts a kitchen table, some chairs and a few dishes as her family scrambles to get out of Arizona ahead of a looming crackdown on illegal immigrants.

“Everyone is selling up the little they have and leaving,” said Villasenor, 31, who is headed for Pennsylvania. “We have no alternative. They have us cornered.”

The two women are among scores of illegal immigrant families across Phoenix hauling the contents of their homes into the yard this weekend as they rush to sell up and get out before the state law takes effect on Thursday.

The law, the toughest imposed by any U.S. state to curb illegal immigration, seeks to drive more than 400,000 undocumented day laborers, landscapers, house cleaners, chambermaids and other workers out of Arizona, which borders Mexico.

It makes being an illegal immigrant a state crime and requires state and local police, during lawful contact, to investigate the status of anyone they reasonably suspect of being an illegal immigrant.

The U.S. government estimates 100,000 unauthorized migrants left Arizona after the state passed an employer sanctions law three years ago requiring companies to verify workers’ status using a federal computer system. There are no figures for the number who have left since the new law passed in April.

Some are heading back to Mexico or to neighboring states. Others are staying put and taking their chances.

In a sign of a gathering exodus, Mexican businesses from grocers and butcher shops to diners and beauty salons have shut their doors in recent weeks as their owners and clients leave.

On Saturday and Sunday, Reuters counted dozens of impromptu yard sales in Latino neighborhoods in central and west Phoenix/

“They wanted to drive Hispanics out of Arizona and they have succeeded even before the law even comes into effect,” said Aguilar, 28, a mother of three young children who was also offering a few cherished pictures and a stereo at one of five sales on the same block.

She said she had taken in just $20 as “everyone is selling and nobody wants to buy.”


Arizona straddles the principal highway for human and drug smugglers heading into the United States from Mexico.

The state’s Republican governor, Jan Brewer, signed the law in April in a bid to curb violence and cut crime stemming from illegal immigration.

Polls show the measure is backed by a solid majority of Americans and by 65 percent of Arizona voters in this election year for some state governors, all of the U.S. House of Representatives and about a third of the 100-seat Senate.

Opponents say the law is unconstitutional and a recipe for racial profiling. It is being challenged in seven lawsuits, including one filed by President Barack Obama’s administration, which wants a preliminary injunction to block the law.

A federal judge heard arguments from the lawyers for the Justice Department and Arizona on Thursday and could rule at any time.

The fight over the Arizona law has complicated the White House’s effort to break the deadlock with Republicans in Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration law, an already difficult task before November’s elections.

While the law targets undocumented migrants, legal residents and their U.S.-born children are getting caught up in the rush to leave Arizona.

Mexican housewife Gabriela Jaquez, 37, said she is selling up and leaving for New Mexico with her husband, who is a legal resident, and two children born in Phoenix.

“Under the law, if you transport an illegal immigrant, you are committing a crime,” she said as she sold children’s clothes at a yard sale with three other families. “They could arrest him for driving me to the shops.”

Lunaly Bustillos, a legal resident from Mexico, hoped to sell some clothes, dumbbells and an ornamental statue on Sunday before her family heads for Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Monday.

“It makes me sad and angry too because I feel I have the right to be here,” said Bustillos, 17, who recently graduated from high school in Phoenix.

F.B.I.: Domestic militias just as much a threat to national security as al-Qaeda

A person close to me said that the American people will rise up against the governmet.  I’m thinking thats not going to happen, and for several reasons.  People have families, they have lives, and the government has it’s hands in every aspect of American life.  We live in a debtor nation of tyranny.

Granted the government is not shooting us on the streets, but think of it this way, when you find yourself living in fear that the government is going to fine you, imprison you, or something else for something as petty as Obamacare, the census, or even down to the plates on your car, that’s tyranny.

Here’s another sign of freedom on life support for you: John McCain and Joe Lieberman are co-sponsoring a bill that would give the government power to indefinately detain Americans – S. 3081.

So what would happen if the American people revolted in mass amounts?  The president would sign a whole crap load of executive orders, martial law would be declared, and the infamous FEMA camps that you have heard about will be activated.

Absent some miracle that Congress gets terms limits, the Federal Reserve is abolished, and the government is open for a thorough investigation, the chance of the American people coming together in a cohesive fashion to have a second revolution is largely impossible.

Fifteen years after the Oklahoma City bombing, the spectre of domestic terrorism has returned to haunt the Obama Administration, with a warning from the FBI that “home-grown and lone-wolf extremists” now represent as serious a threat as al-Qaeda and its affiliates.

The warning, from the FBI Director, Robert Mueller, came as the former President Clinton drew parallels between the Oklahoma City tragedy and a recent upsurge in anti-government rhetoric, while American television audiences heard Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, describe the “absolute rage” that drove him to plan an attack that killed 168 men, women and children.

An FBI spokesman told The Times yesterday that Mr Mueller was referring to right-wing extremist groups and anti-government militias, as well as American Islamists, in his testimony to the Senate committee that must approve the FBI’s $8.3 billion (£5.4 billion) budget.

Last month federal agents arrested nine members of a Christian militia based in Michigan, calling itself the Hutaree. They have been charged with plotting to murder local police with a stash of guns, knives and grenades.

Since the passage of President Obama’s health reforms, the FBI has also made arrests in Seattle and San Francisco after death threats were sent to Democratic senators.

“It’s one thing to express dissatisfaction with the Government but once you cross the line with a violent threat, that’s a violation that we take extremely seriously,” Bill Carter, the bureau’s spokesman, said.

The Oklahoma bombing was followed by an exhaustive civilian trial in which McVeigh became a hate figure to most but a hero to some members of the survivalist fringe on which he was radicalised.

He was executed in 2001, but not before granting 45 hours of death-row interviews to the authors of a book, American Terrorist, whose tapes will be broadcast for the first time on Monday. McVeigh never confessed to the bombing in court but he appears to do so on the tapes.

“I feel no shame for it,” he says. “This was something that I saw as a larger good, and I know that, as I analysed the history of not just the US, but all nations throughout the history of mankind. People have killed for what they believed was the greater good, and it’s accepted. Sometimes killing is accepted.”

The White House was careful to emphasise that the threat of external terrorism remained acute but senior officials are privately confident that military operations in Afghanistan are going well and putting al-Qaeda on the back foot. Few people in Washington are as confident about the domestic threat.

Attorney General Eric Holder: Osama bin Laden will never be captured

In the aftermath of 9/11 the United States launched the world’s largest manhunt.  Absence of bin Laden’s live body or corpse has prompted conspiracy theories that the FBI’s most notorious fugitive is dead.  During the Bush years bin Laden would occasionally make a cameo appearance, most notably the one just days before the 2004 presidential election.

Bruce Riedel, an Obama Afghanistan/Pakistan official has seen the intel on bin Laden and says the leads have “frozen over”. 

“We don’t have a clue where he is,” he says.  But now the Obama administration says that bin Laden will not be “captured alive”.  Does something smell fishy here?  Along with the story here are some informative reading.,2933,41576,00.html

WASHINGTON – Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress on Tuesday that Osama bin Laden will never face trial in the United States because he will not be captured alive.

In testy exchanges with House Republicans, the attorney general compared terrorists to mass murderer Charles Manson and predicted that events would ensure “we will be reading Miranda rights to the corpse of Osama bin Laden” not to the al-Qaida leader as a captive.

Holder sternly rejected criticism from GOP members of a House Appropriations subcommittee, who contend it is too dangerous to put terror suspects on trial in federal civilian courts as Holder has proposed.

The attorney general said it infuriates him to hear conservative critics complain that terrorists would get too many rights in the court system.

Terrorists in court “have the same rights that Charles Manson would have, any other kind of mass murderer,” the attorney general said. “It doesn’t mean that they’re going to be coddled, it doesn’t mean that they’re going to be treated with kid gloves.”

The comparison to convicted killer Manson angered Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas, who said it showed the Obama administration doesn’t understand the American public’s desire to treat terrorists as wartime enemies, not criminal defendants.

“My constituents and I just have a deep-seated and profound philosophical difference with the Obama administration,” Culberson said.

Holder, his voice rising, charged that Culberson’s arguments ignored basic facts about the law and the fight against terrorists.

“Let’s deal with reality,” Holder said. “The reality is that we will be reading Miranda rights to the corpse of Osama bin Laden. He will never appear in an American courtroom.”

Pressed further on that point, Holder said: “The possibility of catching him alive is infinitesimal. He will be killed by us or he will be killed by his own people so he can’t be captured by us.”

Much of the hearing centered around the Obama administration’s stalled plan to put the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the professed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on trial. Last year, Holder announced the trial would take place in federal civilian court in New York City, not far from the site of the destroyed World Trade Center.

In the face of resistance from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other local politicians, that plan was shelved and the White House is now considering putting KSM and four alleged co-conspirators into a military commission trial.

Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., bemoaned what he called a “cowardly” desire to avoid a civilian terror trial in a major city.

If a terrorist had killed thousands of Philadelphians, Fattah said, “we would expect him to come to Philadelphia” to face trial “if he would live long enough.”

“It doesn’t befit a great nation to hesitate or equivocate on the question of following our own laws,” he said.

In other testimony:

• Holder defended the interrogation of the suspect in the attempted Christmas bombing of an airliner at it approached Detroit. He said the questioning produced very valuable intelligence and disputed the notion that reading the suspect his Miranda rights prevented further intelligence-gathering. The suspect resumed cooperating later, officials have said.

Holder’s remarks led to an angry exchange with Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., who claimed “there was an opportunity that was missed and we will never get it back again.”

Holder shot back: “That is simply not true.”

• The attorney general also acknowledged an ongoing probe into whether defense teams representing Guantanamo Bay detainees may have wrongly obtained photographs of CIA interrogators — pictures that could, some fear, endanger those interrogators.

• Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., offered support for Holder’s now-dormant plan to try the Sept. 11 suspects in New York. But Serrano himself acknowledged he was the only elected New York official who still supported the idea.

“I thought it was very dramatic to say I’m not afraid of you'” to the terrorists, Serrano said.

Shut Up, Sarah Palin!

I was watching the news today and saw that Sarah Palin is considering a run at the White House in 2012.  Just like I expected.  With her hair pulled back, a toothy “I’m an honest politician” smile on her face, she said something like, “do you like the change you’ve gotten?”  One thing comes to mind: Shut Up!

You see, in the process of Sarah Palin and her fellow Teabaggers “raising” questions about President Obama, one person who really deserves this blame has been forgotten – George W. Bush.  When everything isn’t going right, or the economy is in the crapper, or maybe there is some sort of injustice in the courts, one person gets the blame: the President of the United States.

Granted, I’ve said it here before, I don’t like President Obama, I don’t think that he is anymore honest than Bush, but he walked into a pretty tall order.  It’s funny that when Bush ran up deficits, borrowed billions from the Federal Reserve, China, and other central banks (they make up a cartel of bankers with the Federal Reserve), Republicans were behind Bush 100%.  Now that Obama is in, the deficits are still going up, spending is increasing, and the national debt will soon eclipse $14 trillion ($45,000 per American), the “fiscal conservative” come out of the wood work.

Let me clear about this – regardless who is in the White House, spending never changes, more taxes are needed (some are hidden), and foreign policy never changes.  In fact, the debate for a different foreign policy is never brought up.  So when Palin gets on the television and puts on the makeup and the smile, I don’t believe it for a second.

Let us not forget that we lost more rights under Bush since FDR.  The Bush administration intentionally lost 22 million emails.  Between 2002 and 2006 the FBI illegally gained access to over 2,000 of Americans phone records.  To borrow a quote – absolute power corrupts absolutely.  And this is a power that cannot be allowed to be abused.  But like everything else it will be ignored and swept under the rug.  This is a dead horse I will beat until it’s bones are dust.

Let us not forget our history, even if it were a president ago.  Because those who forget history are doomed to relive it.

FBI broke law for years to gain phone searches!

Any American who loves their country and distrusts the government should

Can you guess what he is thinking?

 be irate at this.  As the Washington Post reports, between 2002 and 2006 the FBI illegally collected over 2,000 U.S. phone records either by falsifying terror alert levels, or simply persuading phone companies to comply.

The fact that the FBI flagrantly ignored laws set in place to justify the balance of government and protect our civil rights, and there are still people out there who say, “I can live with that.”  Or, “I can live without some rights,” is beyond me.

I find impossible to believe that the good ol’ boy President George W. Bush was completely ignorant of this.  The fact that people still believe that he was one of the best presidents in recent memory need to pull there heads out of the sand and need to wake up.  FBI general counsel Valeri Caproni had this to say:

We should have stopped those requests from being made that way.

The after-the-fact approvals were a “good-hearted but not well-thought-out” solution to put phone carriers at ease, she said (taken directly from the source).  She would later add:

What this turned out to be was a self-inflicted wound.

I stand by original conviction that under no circumstance does anything justify government snooping, or any kind of subversion of our Constitutional and civil rights.  America can be protected just as well by a strict following of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.