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Adam Dick

FBI v. The First Amendment: The US Government's Investigation of Antiwar.com

Antiwar Magnify

Federal Bureau of Investigation documents released last week reveal the FBI investigated antiwar.com, a website regularly publishing content critical of US foreign policy, for at least six years based on the content and audience of the antiwar.com website. as well as an asinine mistake by the FBI.

According to Julia Harumi Mass of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, which is representing Antiwar.com in a lawsuit against the FBI, the FBI produced in response to a document request in the lawsuit documents confirming "that the FBI targeted and spied on Antiwar.com [and the website's founding editors Eric] Garris and [Justin] Raimondo based on their First Amendment protected activity and kept records about that activity in violation of federal law."
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American Hemp Farming Poised for Resurgence Despite US Prohibition

Washington Hemp

This month Ryan Loflin, along with a group of volunteers, completed on his Colorado farm the first public hemp harvest in the US since Colorado voters approved legalizing the farming and distribution of both marijuana and hemp last November. The Loflin farm harvest is one of several recent developments that suggest American hemp farming that has been suppressed by the US government for decades may soon enjoy a resurgence.

While the Colorado government says legal hemp farming is on hold until regulations are enacted, Loflin jumped the gun, growing his hemp the old fashioned way—without a government permit. As reported in the New York Times in August, Loflin ordered fertile hemp seeds through the mail from suppliers in countries in which the plant is legally grown. He then planted the seeds on his farm.
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Surveillance State: We Are One Step Away from Glass Houses

I Am Being Watched

In Yevgeny Zamyatin's dystopian novel We, the people of One State live in transparent apartments with curtains required to be open nearly all the time so police and informants may view the residents' every action. Listening to George Washington University Law School Professor Jeffrey Rosen's interview last week on The Take Away, it becomes disturbingly clear that Americans are one step away from this level of government snooping on our activities.

Rosen details how police can use facial recognition software combined with abundant cameras to track and catalog our activities. As Rosen explains, the snooping is not limited to attempting to catch suspected criminals. Rather, police may use the technology to follow the daily activities of any person whose photo is contained in vast photo databases, such as anyone with a driver license.
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Does Washington Post Purchase Create Spooky Conflict of Interest?

Washpost Cia

Everyone is talking about Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos's recent purchase of the Washington Post. Less noticed is the conflict of interest between his ownership of the Post and Amazon’s potentially significant profits from computing and data storage contracts with numerous US government agencies including the CIA. The question is whether the newspaper will be able to even-handedly report on the US government despite Bezos's financial interest in US government contracts.

Though not as well known as its retail sales business, Amazon is a big player in data storage and cloud computing. GCN reports that Amazon's cloud services arm Amazon Web Services is the "largest hosting company in the world" and has more than 300 government agencies as customers.

Among Amazon's more recent government contracts is a 10 year, $600 million contract to build private cloud services inside CIA data centers.
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President José Mujica Versus the United Nations

Uruguay President Hillary

Uruguay's President José Mujica is standing up to United Nations bureaucrats at the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) who are chastising Uruguay for advancing legislation that will allow the legal growth, sale, and purchase of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes. Mujica plans to defend his nation's marijuana law reform in a speech before the UN General Assembly in September. For a preview, read here excerpts from Mujica's Thursday radio address to Uruguayans after the marijuana reform law passed in Uruguay's lower house of congress.

In 2011, the INCB similarly chastised Bolivia for withdrawing from the 1961 United Nations Single Convention of Narcotic Drugs so Bolivia could rejoin the convention with a reservation protecting the traditional use of coca leaves in the nation. Later, Bolivian President Evo Morales defended before a UN anti-drug meeting in May 2012 his nation's choice to respect what he called "a millennia-old tradition in Bolivia."
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NRA vs Medical Associations: Guess Who Wants You in the Government Database?

Old Computer Room
photo: Orange County Archives

A conflict may be emerging between the National Rifle Association (NRA) and several large national medical and mental health associations regarding the expansion of US and state government mental health databases. Medical Daily reported last week that four national medical and mental health associations have sent letters to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) expressing concern about a proposed rule to increase the flow of mental health records into the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The NICS database holds a vast amount of information about Americans—including people who have no intention of ever buying firearms—to be checked whenever anyone attempts to purchase a gun from a US licensed firearms dealer.

The American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors are, in sending the letter, expressing direct opposition to the National Rifle Association's (NRA) multi-year effort to enhance government restrictions of gun ownership and possession by creating a US government mental health database and encouraging the flow of information into that database.
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Adam Kokesh and the Drugs and Guns Prosecution Trap

Drugs And Guns
photo: Daveybot

Podcast host Adam Kokesh appears to have joined the long list of victims of the US government's drugs and guns prosecution trap. After a US Park Police raid on his Virginia residence last week, media reported Monday that Kokesh was charged with possession of a Schedule I or II drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act while in possession of a gun. After his arrest, a judge ruled that Kokesh is prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm through the end of his prosecution.

In the drugs and guns prosecution trap, when a defendant merely possesses a gun while allegedly in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, the government seeks to impose additional penalties for the gun possession. These penalties may be imposed even if the defendant did not use a gun in any violent activity or even in any activity related to drugs.
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US Mass Spying Loses Obama's 'Shoddy Coat of Legitimacy'

Patriot Act
photo: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Declan McCullagh at cnet.com reports on Rep. Jerrold Nadler's revelation that the United States executive branch has admitted in a secret briefing to Members of the US House of Representatives that a US government analyst can listen to phone calls at his own discretion without any warrant or other authorization. McCullagh's dense article, well worth a close read, proceeds to explain that this means "thousands of low-ranking analysts" probably can unilaterally decide to snoop on the contents of email, text, and instant messages as well. McCullagh also addresses the enormity of the mass spying operation and its capabilities.

Nadler's revelation directly contradicts President Barack Obama's emphatic denials earlier this month:

When it comes to telephone calls, nobody is listening to your telephone calls.  That’s not what this program is about.  As was indicated, what the intelligence community is doing is looking at phone numbers and durations of calls.  They are not looking at people's names, and they're not looking at content.  But by sifting through this so-called metadata, they may identify potential leads with respect to folks who might engage in terrorism.  If these folks -- if the intelligence community then actually wants to listen to a phone call, they've got to go back to a federal judge, just like they would in a criminal investigation.

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