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Comment: Re:Loose Lips Sinik Ships (Score 2) 244

by kilfarsnar (#47785043) Attached to: US Government Fights To Not Explain No-Fly List Selection Process

It should be noted that in the seminal case that established the state secrets privilege, United States v. Reynolds, the government used the national security argument to hide negligence.

That original claim to privilege was retested in the early 2000s once those "secret" documents had been declassified and *still* the court found that the government had *not* abused its state secrets privilege. It may be your opinion that the government tried to hide negligence, but that's not the accepted opinion and not the one reached by many trained scholars (judges, lawyers) actually practicing in the field on a daily basis. So perhaps you should remove the tin foil hat covering your eyes every once in a while and consider that there may be more to some things than you might first think.

Now, that said, I'm no big government promoter. Far from it. You can read some of my prior comments for examples. What I don't want are for people to discredit the entire concept of major government reform by making such broad statements without addressing the (potentially legitimate) counter arguments. Taken in context, those original claims to state secret privileges seem relevant to me in this particular case.

From Wikipedia: "The radio program This American Life reported in 2009, that, contrary to claims made in the case, the accident report contained no information on the secret equipment on the plane except to note that secret equipment was present, a fact which had been reported in the press at the time. The program interviewed the daughter of one of the crash victims who described the government's claims in the case as fraudulent."

The court may have found that the government did not abuse its privilege, but I do not agree. Courts have also ruled that people who suspect they are being spied upon have no standing to find out, since the spying is classified and they can't know if they are or not. Whatever the material of my hat, court rulings do not guarantee fairness, good judgement or good policy.

The defense, as I understand it, was that the accident report was privileged information and therefore not subject to disclosure under Rule 34 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. However, the cause of the plane crash was determined to be a fire in the engine. What does a fire in the engine have to do with secret surveillance equipment on the plane? Why would an engine fire be privileged? How would its disclosure impact national security?

I know that the families of the airmen received a settlement, so they didn't go away with nothing. But the precedent was set and it really looks to me like the government used a supposed threat to national security to avoid accountability. YMMV

Comment: Re:It'd be nice... (Score 5, Insightful) 244

by kilfarsnar (#47784629) Attached to: US Government Fights To Not Explain No-Fly List Selection Process

But, but , but Mr. Obama is Mr. Transparency.

He said so.

One of the things President Obama has done for this country is to show us that whether the Republicans or Democrats are in office, we get a lot of the same policies. Not identical, but most of the foreign policy, national security, surveillance and domestic security policies are the same between the parties. Some choice!

Comment: Re:America (Score 1) 244

by kilfarsnar (#47784015) Attached to: US Government Fights To Not Explain No-Fly List Selection Process

Look, no matter how totalitarian we actually are, we will always pretend this is true. "America is the specialist most freest place in the universe" is an idea beaten into children's heads without qualification throughout early and middle childhood. It's my pet theory that this is the mechanism by which we get so many libertarians.

That just makes it all the more disillusioning when you figure out that it's bullshit.

Comment: Re:Loose Lips Sinik Ships (Score 5, Informative) 244

by kilfarsnar (#47783969) Attached to: US Government Fights To Not Explain No-Fly List Selection Process

For the safety of the country there are certain things that need to remain secret. Some complain our government doesn't do enough to protect us. Others see the boogeyman behind everything the government does. Criteria for no-fly list? I imagine there is an element of secrecy there and it would largely depend on intelligence generated through a number of sources. Are there mistakes made? Of course. Unfortunately the process is administered by human beings who are flawed vessels at best.

In a republic, the people must be able to hold their representatives accountable and ensure they are working in the country's best interests and obeying the law. Secret policies like the one governing the members of the no-fly list work against people wanting to know what their government is doing and why. It is not a matter of whether we are protected or not. It is a matter of transparency in a government by, of and for the people. That's not to say that the policy governing the no-fly list should be published in the New York Times. But if the government can hide behind the state secrets privilege to bar people from finding out why they are on the list and how they might get off it, they are denying those people their right to redress of grievances.

It is true that some things must be kept secret. But part of the issue here is that in order to be trusted with secrets, you must be that; trusted. Members of the intelligence and national security apparatus have been found lying to Congress, the judiciary and the public on numerous occasions. When they say we must simply trust them that they are doing the right thing, any thinking person should be skeptical. They have blown their credibility and have lost the trust of the people they are supposed to be protecting. That's not a good thing.

It should be noted that in the seminal case that established the state secrets privilege, United States v. Reynolds, the government used the national security argument to hide negligence. In the very first case that they used that argument, they used it to cover something up (lax maintenance that led to the downing of an aircraft). So it has been a dubious privilege from the start. Given their track record since, there is no reason to trust that the government is being honest in their invoking the privilege now. They may indeed be on the up-and-up. But that needs to be independently verified, and that should be the job of the court.

Comment: Re:Not Net Neutrality (Score 1) 525

Now when I sign up with my ISP, I expect that, absent other agreements, they won't care about where my packets are address to or from, just if I'm exceeding their bandwidth limit I agreed to - the only terms they mention that would result in packet loss.

If they end up dropping packets on some other mean, I'd call that fraud. But fraud is not for the FCC to enforce, and it has little to do with one ideology vs. another.

What if they're throttling packets from another service you pay for? Is it really okay with you if you pay for Hulu and for your connection to Hulu, but your ISP purposely slows down your connection to Hulu? Why would that be acceptable?

Comment: Re:Urgh (Score 4, Insightful) 525

I can see why some people considers communism to be evil considering that the attempts at implementation doesn't have a good track record. What really irks me is really those who go with socialist = EVIL. Not only does it disregard the Nordic socialist countries but it also speaks of an extreme ignorance of what a socialism is and that US fits that definition very well.

That is by design. The oligarchs in the US don't want the citizenry getting the idea that American Capitalism may not be the best way to structure things. That's why socialism and communism were so demonized; they are a threat to the dominant paradigm. If people were to get the idea that government can function to make everyone's lives better and make this a more equal society (equality of opportunity, not outcome) they might start to object to the accumulation of inordinate wealth and the power and privilege that comes with it. They might also wonder why the rich keep getting richer while everyone else has to make do with less and less. I think you can see why the .1% doesn't want us going down that road.

Comment: Re:Urgh (Score 1) 525

Marxism is probably preferable to the feudal society these guys are promoting.

A feudal society is one where the government owns all of the land and requires people to pay 30% of their earnings to their land lords for protection. That would probably be an improvement over the situation we have today - where our government requires people to pay ~50% of their earnings but instead of protection from real threats like invading muslim armies we get a fascist police state.

Don't worry. Under neo-feudalism we'd still have a police state.

Comment: Re: What's so American (Score 1) 525

The founders wrote the Constitution telling the government what it cannot do. It's quite a distinction from today's legislators in my opinion.

At the federal level the Constitution says what the government can do. Anything not explicitly allowed to the federal government is left to the states.

Comment: Re: What's so American (Score 1) 525

I think most people would agree net neutrality is a great idea in theory. You could say socialism is also good in theory. I don't mean to compare the two, but the problem with both is the practice and enforcement is done by people, who are fallible and often selfish.

I'd say that's a problem with just about any system. I think it's plain by now that American democracy and capitalism have the same problem.

With any government enforcement, how do you ensure full accountability that net neutrality is actually being followed and fair in enforcement?

I would say that without government enforcement there is no way to ensure net neutrality is being followed.

And what's to stop the government from "leveling the playing field," giving additional network resources to failing energy companies, state education systems in favor of Common Core, public companies who need to better compete against private ones etc. ?

That's not what Net Neutrality is. It's not that the government dictates who gets bandwidth. It's that the government mandates that an ISP cannot charge one customer more than another for bandwidth, or slow down one's connection because they don't want to pay more for the same service. It's actually about the government making sure your concern above does not happen.

Comment: Re:Some people... (Score 2) 457

by kilfarsnar (#47678781) Attached to: Web Trolls Winning As Incivility Increases

Of course, there are third rail topics that one can't disagree with (such as the demand by the general masses for undying love for Snowden, Manning, and Ames), and mindless anti-US digs left and right, but all and all, /. is probably one of the sanest forums out there that allows user comments.

That's a main reason I continue to come to this site after all these years. The comments are often intelligent and worth reading. Contrast that with most other sites where people just get their stupid on.

Comment: Re:What about Oregon and Washington? (Score 1) 368

by kilfarsnar (#47655285) Attached to: Comcast Drops Spurious Fees When Customer Reveals Recording

We are becoming a country where the rich can do anything they want to everyone else.

Comcast and CenturyLink are corporations; they are not "rich" people, corporate personhood aside. More importantly, they are public utilities. Government has created corporations and offered privileges to utilities, so that's where the problem lies-- not with "rich" people.

True, but to be fair, the rich people have become a problem too.

Comment: Re: Automated notice not necessary here (Score 4, Interesting) 368

by kilfarsnar (#47655237) Attached to: Comcast Drops Spurious Fees When Customer Reveals Recording
The Constitution does not lay out the powers of the Federal Government with regards to recording. Obviously, the technology didn't exist back then, but still the Federal government does not have that authority; at least until the Supreme Court can shoehorn recording conversations into the Commerce clause.

Prototype designs always work. -- Don Vonada