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New York woman visited by police after researching pressure cookers online

Discussion in 'U.S. Politics' started by Walter, Aug 2, 2013.

  1. Walter

    Walter Administrator Staff Member

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    A woman from Long Island, NY, said her web searches for pressure cookers, her husband's hunt for backpacks and her "news junkie" son's craving for information on the Boston bombings had combined somewhere in the internet ether to create a "perfect storm of terrorism profiling".
    Members of what she described as a "joint terrorism task force" descended on her home on Wednesday:

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/01/new-york-police-terrorism-pressure-cooker

    If you need any more reason why a police state and surveillance is a bad thing....
     
    dogtowner likes this.
  2. Cruella

    Cruella Well-Known Member

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    At least we know the surveillance is working. Too bad they didn't connect the dots on pressure cookers, back packs and making bombs before the Boston massacre.
     
  3. BigRob

    BigRob Well-Known Member

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    This is the crux of the issue right here. If people ignore these "tips" (or whatever it was) and then an attack does take place, we blame people for not doing their jobs. If people do check out these issues to make sure there is nothing going on, then we blame them for invading our privacy. There is a balance somewhere -- but where is that balance?

    As for the story -- why you would ever allow the police into your house without a warrant is beyond me. When the guy went outside and they said "can we come in", his reply should have been "do you have a warrant?" If "no", then the conversation is over. If "yes", then make them produce it.
     
  4. Texas_tea

    Texas_tea Well-Known Member

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    "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

    -Benjamin Franklin,
    Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759
     
  5. BigRob

    BigRob Well-Known Member

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    Have you ever asked yourself the context in which Franklin (allegedly) said this? It has nothing to do with the context you are now ascribing to it.

    That said, you might also want to define "essential" in this phrase. What is "essential" liberty?
     
  6. Texas_tea

    Texas_tea Well-Known Member

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    Yes I have.

    I am aware of the story behind this quote and I believe it remarkably represents exactly what is going on in our Country today. The exception being, today, our "safety" is not threaten by the Native Americans who originally occupied the lands of the Colonist, but our own government!

    Either way, our "Liberties" and "Freedoms" do not come with a safety clause. And, looking to government to protect your physical safety or protect your Freedom and Liberty will always fail because it erodes the very principles of what it is to be Free and have Liberties.
     
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  7. dogtowner

    dogtowner Moderator Staff Member

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    Point taken but just maybe the principle apies ?
     
  8. PLC1

    PLC1 Moderator Staff Member

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    For once, I find myself in total agreement with Texas tea. Just how much liberty are we going to be willing to trade for security? You can be certain that the government won't voluntarily back off on the gradual change to a police state, so it will be up to the citizens to do so.

    Is a police state really safer than a free society, despite the bad guys who take advantage of that freedom? I for one don't think so.
     
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  9. BigRob

    BigRob Well-Known Member

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    I guess I don't quite see what "liberty" was given up here. From what I have read the police were given a "tip" from the workplace of the man based on some computer searches he did at work (do you have a right to total privacy browsing the web at work on a computer that is not even yours?).

    Further, the police arrived to "check it out", and asked the man if they could come in. He voluntarily let them in and voluntarily answered their questions....at which point they clearly saw the "tip" was nothing and left him alone. Please explain to me what "liberty" was given up here? I can think of nothing.

    As for a "police state", that is quite the leap. A police state would involve simply kicking in the door and hauling him off. Nothing about this scenario seems to apply to any argument trying to be made here.
     
  10. BigRob

    BigRob Well-Known Member

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    I don't know what that principle is without a definition of "essential liberty."
     
  11. PLC1

    PLC1 Moderator Staff Member

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    The government checking out what you're looking for on the internet, watching over your shoulder while you look up whatever you're looking up, citizens getting turned in to cops for "suspicious" behavior, all that looks pretty scary to me from a standpoint of 4th. Amendment rights.

    Sure, the founders of the nation could not possibly have foreseen the internet, so that now brings up a whole new issue of privacy.
     
  12. BigRob

    BigRob Well-Known Member

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    My understanding of the context of that it was a comment made specifically to the Governor of Pennsylvania, basically saying don't give up your essential liberty (ie this vote on a taxing issue) to trade off for security (from the powerful Penn family) -- obviously in a broader context of issues taking place around these particular votes. "Essential Liberty" basically meaning the right of self-governance.
     
  13. BigRob

    BigRob Well-Known Member

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    Let's be clear here -- there is absolutely zero evidence that the government monitored these searches and that is how they came to pay a visit to this house.

    Do you believe that if you use a public computer (or a computer that is not even yours), that you have a right to absolute privacy regarding what was searched? Even from the owner of that computer...ie the business that gave the "tip" to the police.

    I see nothing wrong with what took place. They came by and the man voluntarily answered questions, they determined there was nothing to this "tip" and they left.

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    What exactly are you taking issue with here? Was there an "unreasonable" search? I don't see how you make that argument since the man VOLUNTARILY let them into his home and answered their questions. And since we don't have any facts surrounding the issue of a warrant in this regard, that is not really relavant here.

    Further, it is my understanding that the Supreme Court found the 4th amendment to include a "right to privacy" -- meaning basically to be free of governmental intrusion. I guess I don't see any "governmental" intrusion anywhere in this story.


    They did forsee that they could not predict everything -- which is why the ability to amend the Constitution was put in place.
     
  14. Texas_tea

    Texas_tea Well-Known Member

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    I am a little confused about why a "definition" of essential liberties is needed in this context. Merriam-Webster defines the word essential as:

    of, relating to, or constituting essence : inherent or
    of the utmost importance : basic, indispensable, necessary <an essential requirement for admission to college>

    Merriam-Webster defines the word Liberty as:

    : the quality or state of being free:

    a : the power to do as one pleases
    b : freedom from physical restraint

    Now, it seems pretty obvious to me what this word means in the context Benjamin Franklin was using it in. Let's look at the term Liberty in the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence.

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."

    Obviously our Founders believed that Liberty was essential, an "unalienable right" that NO government has the right to deny or take away.

    I believe that was exactly what Benjamin Franklin was referring to in this quote!
     
  15. BigRob

    BigRob Well-Known Member

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    The context, as I understand it, was in a letter (setting aside the debate over if he or another actually said -- I will assume he did) to the colonial Governor, over a tax issue. The Assembly wanted to tax lands owned by the Penn family for security on the frontier during the French and Indian War. The Governor kept issuing a veto of this because he was basically told to do so by the Penn Family.

    I think there was a big write up by CATO, or Brookings maybe, that went into more detail somewhat recently, but I cannot find it. The further context being that the Penn Family was offering money for protection if the Assembly would admit they didn't have the right to tax Penn lands. The context being he is not writing about government taking away civil liberties, he seems to be writing in a specific political context of the day about an elected representative body not losing its ability to self govern -- by "purchasing" (ie from the Penn Family) a little temporary security (that money would buy), but ultimately ceding the essential liberty of self governance.

    CATO or Brookings said it much better, I will keep looking for that.

    I certainly agree that the founders viewed liberty as important. That said, if all founders viewed all liberty as "essential", why doesn't he just say "liberty"? Why is there a distinction at all? Did his position evolve between this time and the time of the Declaration of Independence? Where is evidence of that?

    I think it makes perfect sense when placed in the political context of the day to make the connection that he was talking about the essential liberty of self governance of an elected body (something we surely all agree on), and not about individual civil liberties -- as people use it today.

    I think we will agree to disagree on this one, but to the broader point of how it relates to this particular story, I don't see how any liberty (essential or otherwise) was surrendered at any time.
     
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