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Comment Re:Wait a day or two before passing judgment (Score 2) 345

Do they just get to ignore that because some yahoo thought there might be some Taliban in the area?

I think you meant to say:

Do they just get to ignore that because some yahoo thought the Taliban might be operating a command center from within the hospital?

The answer to that question is "no, you take everything you believe to be true into account and make a sober military decision based on what you believe to be true, and you take into consideration the risks and consequences if your information turns out to be false or outdated. Oh, and you don't let 'yahoos' make command decisions like whether to bomb a hospital or not. If you have the luxury of time, several high-level decision-makers need to be in on the decision. If you don't have time to get several generals' input, then a high-level person who is known to think soberly (i.e. not a 'yahoo') should make the decision."

In other words you don't go and say "hospital? who cares?" but you don't say "dammit, hospital, that's 100% off limits no matter what the justification" either.

If you are 99.44% sure your intelligence that the Taliban is operating out of the command center is true, and you have very good reason to believe more good will come from taking out the hospital than harm (including the local and international political repercussions for taking out a hospital), you take it out.

If you don't, then your enemy can just take over hospitals knowing that their command centers are "untouchable" once they do so.

Comment Wait a day or two before passing judgment (Score 1) 345

The article contains possibly-conflicting claims as to whether the Taliban was operating out of the hospital and, just as importantly, whether those that destroyed the hospital believed it was so.

From the article:

Sultan Arab, a local police commander in Kunduz, said the hospital came under an airstrike, âoebecause the Taliban had shifted their command center inside the hospital.â

In a statement, the Taliban denied any of its fighters were at the hospital at the time of the airstrike.

A Doctors Without Borders spokeswoman declined to comment on the allegations, but noted the organization âoetreats every patient irrespective of whether they are military or civilian.â In 1999, the organization was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize for its work.

Bottom line - this looks like it could be a tragic case of someone deciding to take out a hospital based on false information that it was being used by the enemy.

Comment An example (Score 1) 316

Perhaps this example will serve:

The cops arrive at a bar fight. There are 20 people there. There is 1 person seriously injured an unconscious and a couple of people who were obviously involved who are not cooperating.

There is reason to believe that of the remaining people, a 1 or 2 others were involved and the cops intend to find out who they were and arrest them for disorderly conduct or possibly more serious charges if the facts warrant. The cops also believe that almost everyone saw what happened. For the sake of this example, there is no "duty to intervene" and there is no sign that anyone is legally drunk, so those who stood by and did nothing will not face any criminal charges and neither will the bar owner or his employees.

For this example, assume that the witnesses and those involved in the bar fight don't know each other and that their cooperation or failure to cooperate with the police won't have any "social consequences" one way or the other. Whatever choice they make, they will not be banned from that bar and they won't gain or lose any friendships or business relationships.

Also, assume the cops have a reputation for being professionals who act professionally (contrast to the Waco "Twin Peaks" incident).

The cops detain everyone on-site for questioning, with the intent of letting all of them except the few guilty ones go as soon as they get things sorted out.

It's getting late and people want to get home so they can get some sleep so they won't be tired at work the next day.

If everyone clams up, the police will probably keep everyone there for a few hours before "giving up" and will get everyone's name and address. All potential witnesses - including the as-yet-unknown guilty parties - will get summoned to a grand jury or to a similar proceeding if it's a misdemeanor offense, and eventually (unless people forget, innocent people lie, guilty people lie in a convincing manner, or innocent people fraudulently "plead the 5th" to keep from testifying) things will get sorted out and the facts will come out.

It is clearly in the short term interest of those who were not involved to cooperate and give accurate statements right then and there. If they do, those who were not involved will go home sooner and may avoid having to go to a grand jury. Those who were involved will spend the night in jail and will know they will likely lose at trial so they will probably plead guilty, which means the witnesses won't have to take a day off of work to testify at trial.

All in all, for the innocent-bystander witnesses, it's a clear-cut case in favor of cooperating with the police if they are only considering their immediate and short-term need to get home and not have to waste time in court in the future.

Note - this example probably has flaws in it. However, if you are smart enough to spot them, you are probably smart enough to come up with many better examples that show that, on the whole, it is better for a person who is both innocent and who has every reason to believe he is not "a target of an investigation" or "a target of the police" to cooperate.

As I said in an earlier post, there are situations where it is clearly NOT in a person's short-term interest to cooperate with the police. My list may have been incomplete. However, once it is complete the remaining situations will be common enough that, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective), my general statement still stands.

Comment Hard drives and smuggled products (Score 1) 316

Hard drives can't contain drugs and wouldn't contain smuggled products

If you listen to Hollywood, hard drives can contain bootleg movies, which are "smuggled products" in the eyes of Hollywood's lawyers.

They can also contain smuggled trade secrets and for that matter, smuggled state secrets.

They can also contain smuggled physical goods. In theory - but likely not in practice - you could build a hard drive that had small quantities of illegal drugs inside the drive itself. The reality is that it's simply not cost-effective for drug dealers to try to smuggle drugs in this way.

Another possibility is that the hard drive itself is being smuggled. Again, this is likely not cost-effective unless it's something "bigger," such as industrial espionage where you steal an prototype drive from a competitor and put it in your laptop (and clone your original drive to it of course so everyone will assume it's the original unless they look closely or physically inspect it), then waltz back to your home country as if nothing had happened.

Comment Re:Within 100 miles of a border... (Score 1) 316

BUT, my understanding is also that NO ONE, not any agent of any law enforcement branch, ever, under any circumstances, can deny entry to a US citizen.

They can't deny you entry, but if there is a warrant out for your arrest or you commit any crime once under "US jurisdiction" they can arrest you.

A trivial example would be if you attempted to enter the country at someplace other than a port of entry. So, if you are visiting Mexico and want to wade across the Rio Grande on your way back, you won't be deported-upon-entry (assuming you can convince the border patrol you are an American) but you will be arrested for illegal entry or something similar.

Depending on international treaties, border patrol may even be able to hold you and turn you over to the police of the country you just left if the other country's police were in "hot pursuit" (I don't know if there are any existing treaties that allow for this, but it is a legal possibility).

Comment Cooperating may be in your short-term interest (Score 1) 316

As much as I would love to say "be polite but never give any information to police beyond what is required by law if you think they have you on their radar," the reality is that it is frequently in your best short-term interest to do so if in fact you have not done anything wrong and can easily prove it.

I say "frequently" because there are obvious exceptions. If you think the cop really is out to get you personally or would be happy to find any unrelated reason to make your life miserable (as an example from the past that I hope doesn't apply today: If you have an out-of-state license plate and you've got a good reason to think the local cops are looking for a reason to shake down out-of-state residents) is the most obvious but there are others.

It should go without saying that it's in everyone's long-term interest if nobody cooperated with police under these circumstances and we as a country developed a "culture of non-cooperation" where it was simply expected that once you had any inkling that the police believed that you might be guilty of something - even a crime not related to the actual or ostensible reason they wanted to talk to you - that you would simply stop talking to them without your lawyer present, and as a result, they would not bother talk to people they suspected were guilty without either getting the person's lawyer or a court involved (such as a summons from a grand jury or a court-ordered deposition*) because it would be a waste of their time.

*In both cases a person who is actually guilty can "plead the fifth" but a witness who is a "on the police's radar" but who is innocent generally cannot.

Note - I realize this is slightly off-topic and that it repeats something I said earlier in this discussion, but it needed to be said and it's worth a stand-alone comment.

Comment Seize it, but don't ask for the passwords (Score 2) 316

Coercing passwords where the law says you can't require the person to give up the passwords is un-American and may even be illegal (I am not a lawyer).

Coercing them instead of getting a court order requiring the owner to divulge the password when the law says you can get a court order is also un-American - use the courts, that's what they are there for (recent court rulings make me wonder if this sentence even applies anymore if the owner is an US citizen and the request is on US soil or made by US officials at a port of entry as the person is returning to US soil).

If you, as the front-line Homeland Security guys in the airport - have a legal justification to seize the laptop and your professional training and professional judgment says that there is really a problem that requires seizing it, just seize the laptop, but don't coerce the person to give up his passwords.

Ideally, you would go to a judge within 24 hours (or in a busy international airport, within 1 hour) of seizing it and explain why you need to keep it. If the judge rejects your argument give it back. If he accepts your argument, the owner should get a "de novo/start-from-scratch" second hearing as soon as his lawyer has had time to prepare a counter-argument.

By doing it this way, not only would you avoid coercing people, but your bosses would be under political pressure to make sure you, the front-line guys at Homeland Security, didn't abuse their discretion on seizing equipment because they - the bosses that is - know that too may unjustified seizures would eventually make the papers - and not in a good way. They also know that if the political winds turn a certain way, they or their bosses might be hauled in front of Congress to explain things just because some politician wants to score political points in front of the cameras.

Yes, I know this isn't going to happen this way any time soon. That's why I said "ideally." The closest we can expect any time soon is that law enforcement will stop asking for passwords but that the delays will be so long and the process to get the seized equipment back so onerous that most owners who think they have nothing to hide (and more than a few who naively believe they don't or who stupidly believe that law enforcement won't abuse the password to trawl for crimes unrelated to their initial suspicions) will offer to give them the password just to be on their merry way. Some or even most of them will be let go with their equipment once law enforcement determines that 1) the person is being cooperative and 2) their initial suspicions were unfounded. Word will get around "if they ask for your password, don't fight it, just give it to them."

Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you value "law and order" and "public safety" more than civil liberties) my hunch is that authorities know that this state of affairs - where the person they have inconvenienced knows that if they really are innocent it's very likely in their best short-term interests to "volunteer information without being asked to do so" - serves the interest of law enforcement in a way that makes it very, very difficult for the person to later claim they weren't acting completely voluntarily.

Comment State charges? (Score 1) 319

50 states each charging the individual corporate decision-makers for "inducement to commit fraud" on the grounds that individual car-owners were innocently duped into defrauding the state by faking "passing grades" with their cars should get some attention.

The difficulty will be one of jurisdiction: Unless those decision-makers were in the US or US residents at the time, or in most cases, in the particular state or a legal resident of that state at the time, the state may lack jurisdiction unless it can prove that at least one non-innocent person was within its jurisdiction and it can prove a conspiracy between that person and those who weren't in its jurisdiction. Even then, dragging "extra-jurisdictional" defendants into a conspiracy where there is at least one "in-the-jurisdiction" defendant will be harder than if they were all within the jurisdiction.

In other words, if this had been Ford or GM and the state of Michigan wanted to prosecute for "inducing customers to defraud the state of Michigan" in Michigan state courts, the executives who lived in Michigan at the time couldn't claim "lack of jurisdiction."

Comment Race, income, language, other? Confounding factors (Score 1) 444

Race, income/socieoconomic status, language/English-proficiency, what culture or sub-culture you are raised in, and other factors that are (for now at least) correlated with each other make it hard to say "X is biased against [racial/ethnic group]" with certainty.

Yes, maybe racial bias exists.

Or maybe the bias is a purely economic one.

Or maybe it's a bias against people whose parents are not college graduates/parents who do not demonstrate "we value our kid's education" in the way that the school system "expects" them to.

Or maybe it's a language-barrier bias against kids who don't enter Kindergarten with the same English-speaking and ready-to-learn-to-read-English skills that the "average white middle class kid" has.

But none of those are racial/ethnic bias.

On the other hand, it COULD be a sign of either "racial bias due to 'blindness'" or, insidious but unlikely, "deliberate racial bias" under the guise of socioeconomic discrimination or some other factor that isn't quite as socially frowned upon/outright-illegal.

Comment Consider alternatives (Score 1) 127

While you may actually need this consider cheaper alternatives:

1) Use software remote-desktop/remote-screen to take care of use cases 3 and 4. This may or may not work for your use cases.

2) Have additional monitors and monitor-mirroring hardware to mirror PC1 and DOCK1 "all the time" to take care of use cases 3 and 4. This may or may not work if you have limited desk-space to work with.

Comment Apple does the same thing (Score 4, Insightful) 151

Only Apple does it whole-hog: They control the whole ecosystem (ignoring jailbreakers).

At least Google lets phone-vendors ship "just" the OS if they want to.

While I appreciate this investigation, the government shouldn't single out just Google.

Comment Treaties and laws weren't meant to live forever (Score 2) 162

Under its constitution, laws and treaties have equal footing, with the Constitution itself standing above both.

Just as one law can supersede another law, or a new treaty can supersede a past one, a law can have the effect of the US withdrawing from a treaty and a treaty can have the effect of rescinding an existing law.

If other countries don't like it, they are free to implement reprisals, up to and including declaring war on us and, if they have the wherewithal, launching every nuke they have at us (note to any country stupid enough to nuke the United States: You likely won't survive the attempt - and if you have a lot of nukes neither will human civilization).

If it's worth hacking on well, it's worth hacking on for money.