In a remarkable hearing in Washington, would-be secret police from Federal and State law enforcement complained that encryption and the 4th Amendment stood between them and their desire for a lawless surveillance panopticon.
The speakers included an FBI manager with the surely-coincidental but very fitting name of Hess1, and a People’s Republic of Massachusetts prosecution commissar named Daniel F. Conley. Hess’s and Conley’s condemnation of companies like Apple and Google for making warrantless, suspicionless dragnet surveillance more difficult was too much for a California Congressman whose constituents (and contributors) include many of the tech firms’ executives and workers.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), who described himself as a “recovering computer science major,” provided one of the most forceful counter-arguments. (He is just one of four House members with computer science degrees.) Lieu also is a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force Reserves and served for four years as a member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.
“It is clear to me that creating a pathway for decryption only for good guys is technologically stupid, you just can’t do that,” he said, underscoring that he found Conley’s remarks “offensive.”
“It’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the problem. Why do you think Apple and Google are doing this? It’s because the public is demanding it. People like me: privacy advocates. A public does not want an out-of-control surveillance state. It is the public that is asking for this. Apple and Google didn’t do this because they thought they would make less money. This is a private sector response to government overreach.
Then you make another statement that somehow these companies are not credible because they collect private data. Here’s the difference: Apple and Google don’t have coercive power. District attorneys do, the FBI does, the NSA does, and to me it’s very simple to draw a privacy balance when it comes to law enforcement and privacy: just follow the damn Constitution.”
That’s something that surveillance creeps like Hess and Conley are unwilling to do. Follow the damn Constitution. Good on Ted Lieu for trying to hold them to the standard they swore to uphold, and then abandoned.
We don’t know about Hess, but Conley is not just a prosecutor, he’s also an anti-gun activist tied into the John Rosenthal astroturf circuit, including Stop Handgun Violence, Common Sense About Kids and Guns, and Rosenthal’s false-flag American Hunters and Shooters Association.
He authored one bill that would have enabled his merry men to conduct door-to-door searches and jail anyone with a firearm for a year and a half2. This is not a man in tune with the Bill of Rights.
Lieu cut him too much slack, blaming the surveillance problem entirely on NSA:
And because the NSA didn’t do that and other law enforcement agencies didn’t do that, you’re seeing a vast public reaction to this. Because the NSA, your colleagues, have essentially violated the Fourth Amendment rights of every American citizen for years by seizing all of our phone records, by collecting our Internet traffic, that is now spilling over to other aspects of law enforcement. And if you want to get this fixed, I suggest you write to NSA: the FBI should tell the NSA, stop violating our rights. And then maybe you might have much more of the public on the side of supporting what law enforcement is asking for.
The whole article is good, so you might want to go to Ars Technica and Read The Whole Thing™.
Where Rep. Lieu goes off base is when he suggests that NSA alone is the problem. NSA furnishes its global surveillance of Americans freely to law enforcement through regional liaisons in so-called “fusion centers.” The LEOs then systematically perjure themselves and even go so far as to invent nonexistent “informants” to obfuscate the origins of leads and tips that come from unlawful mass dragnet surveillance.
This was systematized at least 20 years ago, long before 9/11, as “Parallel Construction.” It came originally from the drug war, not from counterterrorism. But after 9/11 previously compartmented CT technologies were shared with law enforcement under Patriot Act authority and the Parallel Construction fig leaf; as happened with other Patriot Act CT authorities, the CT limitation of these investigations was never taken seriously, and NSA surveillance (and friendly foreign power surveillance, giving NSA plausible deniability of targeting Americans) has been increasingly focused on the routine targets of small-time prosecutors like Conley, including, in many cases, mere political opponents.
Sure enough, before the story we drafted on Friday could even go live, Conley was back in Boston, fresh from calling for the overturn of the 4th Amendment in DC, to demand the overturn of the 2nd in other states (as Massachusetts has already done at home). As his adoring press scribe and fellow Democrat Evan Allen of the Boston Globe wrote:
Conley endorsed a slate of gun violence prevention strategies Friday, including universal background checks, restrictions on civilian use of military-style assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, and more research into gun-violence prevention
Translated into English that’s:
- Backdoor registration;
- Gun bans;
- Standard-capacity magazine bans; and,
- Tendentious “push”-research of the sort we’ve seen Bloomberg and Soros fund.
Any surprise that a guy with national socialist ideas about security and privacy holds national socialist ideas about guns? Airhead Evan Allen again:
The majority of Boston’s victims of gun violence are young black and Latino men from low-income communities, Conley said, and their murders — often committed outdoors by assailants that leave no fingerprints or DNA — are statistically the most difficult to solve.
Imagine that. A bunch of white Irish cops from the suburbs, and white Irish DAs from barely-accredited law schools, suck at solving and prosecuting minority gang crimes. Stop the presses!
“From an investigative standpoint, we’re looking at a simple equation: fewer available handguns equals fewer homicides solved at a greater rate,” said Conley.
Given that exactly zero of his perps — the exact same “young black and Latino men from low-income community” gangbangers that are his victims — are among the legal MA permit holders he wants to blame, or among the free people in jurisdictions outside his nightmare People’s Republic, and exactly zero of them own their crime weapons legally. Why, it’s almost as if criminals don’t obey laws, but that’s just crazy talk, right?
The strength of a state’s gun laws correlates directly with its rate of gun-related deaths, said Conley, citing a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association, and Massachusetts tops the list with high legislative strength and low rates of gun fatalities.
NH: Nearly identical demographics, climate, etc. to Massachusetts. Significantly lower homicide rate. Why?
Hey Dan: HBYAN LMOGD EAZUL UNLQQ XBIST NCZOS HBYAN. Sincerely, the Editors.
- A certain politician’s deputy leader and amanuensis for his political manifesto, “My Struggle,” was named Hess. Coincidence? You be the judge.
- You can read Conley’s remarks in support of his bill at his Suffolk County Prosecutor’s Office website: http://www.suffolkdistrictattorney.com/remarks-of-district-attorney-daniel-f-conley-on-an-act-to-combat-gun-violence/