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Financial Responsibility == Terrorism? 1086

An anonymous reader writes "Capital Hill Blue is reporting that recently a retired Texas schoolteacher and his wife had a little run in with the Department of Homeland Security. The crime? Paying down some debt. From the article: 'The balance on their JCPenney Platinum MasterCard had gotten to an unhealthy level. So they sent in a large payment, a check for $6,522. And an alarm went off. A red flag went up. The Soehnges' behavior was found questionable. [...] They were told, as they moved up the managerial ladder at the call center, that the amount they had sent in was much larger than their normal monthly payment. And if the increase hits a certain percentage higher than that normal payment, Homeland Security has to be notified.'"
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Financial Responsibility == Terrorism?

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  • by Derling Whirvish ( 636322 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @09:36PM (#14863435) Journal
    Quoting from Capitol Hill Blue is like quoting from the Weekly World News. It's reputation for accuracy is at about the same level. I'm surprised that it was not bat boy that had the run-in with the law.

    Is there another source for this information? Quoting from CHB tells us more about the submitter and the submitter's reading habits than anything factual about the story.

  • by webweave ( 94683 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @09:36PM (#14863437)
    And Bin Laden is still free.

    Isin't that funny you can be freer in Afghanistan than in the US.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 06, 2006 @09:38PM (#14863450)
    My girlfriend in Indonesian and we've run into all kinds of bureaucratic hassles. None of it really makes sense though. There was one bank that wouldn't let me do a wire transfer to her at all but then another bank let me do it as long as the amount was below $3,000 and now we have a joint bank account and she can withdraw as much money as she likes using our credit/debit card.

    Given that the United States is supposed to involve government by "the people", it always amazes me that "the people" choose to subject themselves to so much pointless bureaucracy.

  • Sickening (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dukeofshadows ( 607689 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @09:41PM (#14863467) Journal
    This article is sickening. I understand that there is a need for watching large amounts of money that trade hands, but c'mon, we're now starting to scrutinize people who work to pay off their debts? If they're tracking us enough that they know on average how much we pay on credit cards per month, you'd think that the (insert government/corporate monicker here) would have an idea that people would like to get out of high-interest credit cards.

    Personally I think this sounds like a poorly-shrouded excuse for this credit card company (among others?) to scrutinize their customer's finances and try to intimidate them into staying in debt for longer periods of time. Sickening IMHO.
  • by tinrobot ( 314936 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @09:41PM (#14863469)
    For a government that is deep in the pocket of credit card companies, the bankruptcy bill was the first step....

    Intimidating people who pay off their debt early is the next step.

    After that... jail time?
  • Catcher in The Wry (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 06, 2006 @09:41PM (#14863471)
    "The requirements for entering the US are so ridiculously more complex than any other country I've visited."

    And yet the illegal immigrants keep coming.
  • Re:My experience (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 06, 2006 @09:41PM (#14863474)
    We've all been living in 1984 since 9/11/2001.
    The government has access to everyones personal records and they will continue to watch to make sure everyone toes the line.
  • by cduffy ( 652 ) <> on Monday March 06, 2006 @09:42PM (#14863479)
    they don't live under a cloud of suspicion.
    ...more than anyone else, you mean. This kind of behaviour means we're all living under an implicit cloud of suspicion -- if we weren't suspect, what valid cause would there be for interference? My personal financial matters are my own personal financial matters, and why a transaction between myself and an entity I happen to contract with to keep my money has any business being audited by a government entity charged with "homeland security" -- well, it wants something by way of explanation.
  • Fascinating... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by e4g4 ( 533831 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @09:43PM (#14863490)
    My question exactly would this identify terrorists - who are, presumably, the people that a filter like this would be intended to identify? I can certainly understand that unprecedented financial behavior can, in a very small percentages of cases, indicate illegal behavior (drug dealing, primarily), but how is this within the scope of the jurisdiction of Homeland Security? Don't we have the DEA and IRS for things like that?

    It frightens me that the Department of Homeland Security has become the bohemoth it has, and it seems to me that it will, in short order, become the beaurocracy that it was intended to improve upon. Frankly, I hope that will be the case, as the alternatives are frightening; beurocracy was built into the constitution, specifically to limit the powers of the federal government.
  • by fishbowl ( 7759 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @09:44PM (#14863497)
    "Do I find it annoying? Yes. However, I also find it a necessary nuissance to help keep
    smugglers and criminals from easily moving money around through our banking system."

    YOU managed to explain it to the satisfaction of whoever asked. Why do you think a "smuggler or criminal" would be any less clever than you were?
  • by Simon Garlick ( 104721 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @09:50PM (#14863531)
    Yes, but the point is the government organization receiving these reports is HOMELAND SECURITY. In other words, that which everyone predicted has happened. Homeland Security is now handling day-to-day law enforcement -- but, unlike, say, your local PD or the FBI, Homeland Security doesn't answer to anyone. Homeland Security can literally do ANYTHING and you have no recourse.
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @09:50PM (#14863534) Journal
    Bin Laden has a huge heap of money. Most people with similar sized money-heaps in the US are pretty free too...
  • No. That is wrong. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Monday March 06, 2006 @09:52PM (#14863555)
    Do I find it annoying? Yes. However, I also find it a necessary nuissance to help keep smugglers and criminals from easily moving money around through our banking system.
    The REAL problem is when people accept this kind of monitoring as "necessary".

    Enron dumped hundreds of millions of dollars off-shore and the government never suspected a thing.

    These people pay off $6K of debt and they're investigated and you support that.
    If you've got a better solution, I'd love to hear it.
    Yeah, it's called "Freedom".

    Sometimes it means that the criminals get away, but that's part of the price of Freedom.
  • by east coast ( 590680 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @09:56PM (#14863583)
    if you were a terrorist, why pay off the debt?

    This may sound more twisted but... for a terrorist who's killing in the name of God it may be your duty to kill the infidels but to not pay for the debt may be considered akin to theft.

    You're looking at it from a legal aspect, the laws of man are useless to these people.
  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @09:56PM (#14863586)
    > You're all being watched like prisoners...
    >And Bin Laden is still free.

    He hates us for our freedom. All this means is that he's got less and less reason to hate us every day!

  • Re:My experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ceejayoz ( 567949 ) <> on Monday March 06, 2006 @09:56PM (#14863588) Homepage Journal
    "If you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about."

    Which is an idiotic argument, because what's currently okay won't always be okay.

    Ask someone who signed up for the trendy, fashionable Communist Party in the 1920s how that act later went over in the 1950s, for example.
  • Re:My experience (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 06, 2006 @09:57PM (#14863599)
    What you have to realise is none of this means anything. So homeland security is notified. So they have a look at your records.

    You have a very naive attitude. Homeland Security is staffed by employees, who are evaluated on their productivity. There may not be a quota, but they are expected to show results. Now imagine the homesec guy looking into your records is behind--he's had a string of duds, or was lazy. Guess what--he's going to find a way to make your case a viable one. 18 months and $50,000 in lawyer costs later, you win your case. Doesn't matter to the homesec guy, because his semi-annual review 14 months ago treated your case a live high-probable laundering crime.

    Understand why the law (real law, not fear-mongering homeland security bullshit) generally frowns on police fishing expeditions? There's just too much temptation to force a case through that shouldn't be. And yes, that's what this is--fishing.

    Just to put things into perspective, you have a greater chance of being killed or injured by your own car than you do suffering death or injury from a terrorist attack. Can you say, overreact?
  • by poptones ( 653660 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @10:02PM (#14863631) Journal
    Oh gee, I wonder what they'll come up with next?

    CHB is a rag. It's complete trash and they've been known to ouright fabricate stories and sources. If it's got CHB behind it I don't even trust the people mentioned in the story actually exist.

    Don't stop at this story if you doubt it. Click over a few and be amazed... these folks well and truly do make FOX look "fair and balanced" - emphasis on the "balance" part.
  • Re:My experience (Score:1, Insightful)

    by rebeka thomas ( 673264 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @10:02PM (#14863632)
    > Which is an idiotic argument, because what's currently okay won't always be okay. Logical fallacy. Police 150 years ago were allowed to look at you, to see if you're doing anything suspicious. If you're climbing a garden fence they might ask what you're doing. If you then explain you locked your side gate, and you go in and prove you're not breaking and entering, you go on your way, they go on their way, and you know the world is a little bit safer for their efforts. This is the EXACT SAME THING. Prevention on the part of law enforcers. You can't apply the senseless "slippery slope" logic to everything, you can't say "X can't be done now because it might get worse" to all of X, otherwise you will never ever move, nothing will ever progress. it's a logical fallacy to be concerned that what's currently OK might not be OK in the future. Deal with it in the future, not in some theoretical possible future you're imagining today with all of today's biases in your head.
  • Re:My experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eric Smith ( 4379 ) * on Monday March 06, 2006 @10:05PM (#14863654) Homepage Journal
    If someone were involved in the shifting of huge amounts of funds around and planning the next WTC, Pentagon, Waco or Bali bombing, you mean you all wouldn't want to know about it?
    Yes, if "knowing about it" means that the government has the financial transactions of hundreds of millions of citizens under a microscope at all times, in order to (not) catch a few terrorists here and there, I definitely don't want it. It's a huge expense to taxpayers, and a huge intrusion into citizen's privacy, for no real benefit.

    Whenever people try to defend the latest ridiculous things that DHS is doing, they always trot out the line "but you want the government to catch terrorists, don't you?" That's a completely specious and indefensible argument; the government had more than enough information to catch the 9/11 terrorists before the act, and failed to do it because they had too much information and not enough ability (or willingness) to correlate it. Thus collecting MORE information is not the answer, especially since it encroaches that much more on the liberty of citizens.

    Terrorism should not be dealt with differently than any other crime. As in, "innocent until proven guilty", and "better to let ten guilty men go free than to wrongly convict one innocent man". The Constitution requires search warrants for investigations of other crimes (though King George the W claims otherwise); they should be required for terrorism investigations as well, including searching financial transactions.

    These "know your customer" banking regulations, the transaction reporting threshold, the instructions to report suspicious transactions even below that threshold, and the prohibition of "structuring" transactions all actually came about before 9/11, but have been stepped up significantly since then. The original rationale was the so-called "war on drugs". But that's not any better reason than the so-called "war on terrorists".

    "They that can give up essential liberty for temporary security deserve neither."
    --Benjamin Franklin
  • Re:My experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nadamsieee ( 708934 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @10:05PM (#14863657)
    What you need to do, Rebeka, is read John Stuart Mills' "On Liberty" (specifically Chapter IV []). Then perhaps you will realise just how short sighted your thinking is. An inept bureacracy is just as bad if not worse than an actual conspiracy.
  • by DaveJay ( 133437 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @10:06PM (#14863658)
    It sneaks up on you. Many, many years ago, I opened a bank account; nobody asked what I did for a living, nobody asked where the money came from. Several years ago, my wife and I got a small safety deposit box for wedding/engagement ring storage, and the questions went on and on, esp. regarding my wife's self-employed status. Now I read a story about folks paying off a credit card debt that they could afford to pay off, and having their assets frozen. In a few years, will I go into the bank attempting to transfer funds between accounts, only to find everything frozen while they do a background check?

    I predict that wall safes and such are going to come back in style one of these days, and (esp. considering interest rates on accounts being negligible) bank accounts are going to be the place exclusively for money that's moving, not money that's being saved.
  • Fake? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jimpop ( 27817 ) * on Monday March 06, 2006 @10:06PM (#14863661) Homepage Journal
    I periodically pay off previously accumlated debt when I get company bonuses, etc. I've done what they did at least 5 times in the past 5 years and never once heard from DHS. I suspect there is more to their story than they are providing. Don't forget that the card issuer, as well as DHS, is prevented from telling their side of the story due to privacy concerns.
  • Re:My experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hiro Antagonist ( 310179 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @10:09PM (#14863684) Journal
    So, you'd have no complaints being audited by the IRS for your 'suspicious' behavior of having a home business that earns more than the average, even though it'll cost you a nice chunk of time and money? I mean, after all, you came out of things without any harm, survived the audit, right?

    You wouldn't mind being detained in a holding cell for a day because some overzealous cop thought you 'looked suspicious'? I mean, you got released the next day, so no harm, no foul?

    How about having the police raid your home because you've bought a little too much cold medicine over the past month, and you also happened to place an order for some beakers for a halloween party? Because, you might be running a meth lab, and so the cops were able to get a nearly unrestricted warrant on that alone? I mean, it's no big deal, other than the day of work you missed, the neighbors watching the police crawl all over your property, and all those entries in the public records.

    Seems a little more scary, doesn't it?

    It has nothing to do with being a conspiracy, and everything to do with a big-ass violation of the Bill of Rights. You, as a citizen, have a right to be secure in your papers and effects, which is why we have this whole warrant system. It's supposed to be that, if the cops want to poke into your business, they have to show probable cause to a judge, and everything is public record (so you can see what they're saying about you, basically).

    Basically, it's a huge pain in the ass, so why go through it unless you really think the person is a criminal?

    Now, your entire life is practically open; law enforcement has access to all of your financial records, including taxes and bank account information, and all without needing a warrant, as long as you violate some arbitrary criteria as to what 'normal' is. Does this help them catch criminals? I doubt it; I mean, the crooks dumb enough to be cooking meth in their kitchens don't usually give a damn about pyrex or lab safety equipment, and the guys smart enough to build nuclear weapons in their basement aren't going to try and buy their supplies at Home Depot.

    Personally, I'd rather our law enforcement dollars were spent on, oh, education, especially in high-crime areas, and in prison reform, so that inmates came out of prison, well, reformed, rather than better-trained in being criminals.

    So, yeah, all of this does scare and bother me, not because I think that there is any big conspiracy, but because the government is violating my rights in exchange for some illusion of safety.
  • by rsborg ( 111459 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @10:09PM (#14863690) Homepage
    The purpose of these laws is to make a big stack of cash relatively useless. That helps make stealing or otherwise illegitimately "earning" a big stack of cash less inviting. Sure, you can steal a million dollars, but then you can't do anything with it.

    Actually, this seems to be the arguement. But in reality the organized crime that not so surprisingly infests a good portion of the commerce in this country has ways to deal (think: someone on the payroll + proper response strategy to launder the ill-gotten goods) with these kinds of problems... it's just the small-timers that are caught.

    In the end it's our freedoms that are trampled on, and those are going to be hard, if impossible to ever win back... especially since now, anything related to "terrorism" has effectively no oversight or appeal.

  • Re:My experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IgnoramusMaximus ( 692000 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @10:15PM (#14863713)
    Absolutely, I have been telling this to my Comrades for ages!

    Vhat you hav to realise is none of tis means anything. So KGB be notified. So they have a look at your bumagi. So they notice nothing be wrong, they go away.

    Vhat the problem? It be age old statement that defeats conspiracy theorists, they who convinced the government is going to imprison all good Soviets vhile the real reactionaries run free.

    "If you not doing anything vrong, you hav nothing to vorry about."

    Tink about it. If someone vere involved in the shifting of huge amount of funds around and planning the next Trotskyte terror campaign, subversive sabotage or bombing, you mean all would not want to know about it? Phew! You be joker.


    Absolutely, I haf been telling zis to my Komraden for all zis time!

    What you haf to realize is none of zis means anyzing. So ze Gestapo is notified. So zey haf a look at your recorden. So zey eventually notice nozing is vrong, and zey go away.

    What iz ze problem? Again it comez down to ze age old statement zat defeats ze conspiracy zeorists who are convinced ze government is going to imprizon all good Germans while ze real Communisten und Juden run free.

    "Iv you are not doing anyzing vrong, you haf nozing to worry about."

    Zink about it. If someone vere involved in ze shifting of huge amounts of funds around und planning ze next Burning of the Reichstag or bombing of ze train tracks carrying our heroic troops in Polen, you mean you all vouldn't vant to know about it? Jaaa. Right.

  • Re:Oh yes it is (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kinzillah ( 662884 ) <.douglas.price. .at.> on Monday March 06, 2006 @10:22PM (#14863763)
    because eventually you'll pay off the original amount, and by god you'll keep paying...
  • by publius_jr ( 808330 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @10:22PM (#14863766)
    The government sure does love these quasi wars. The idea of a war on drugs or a war on terrorism is nonsensical. One of the defining characteristics of war is that it is not peace. It follows that war must be realistically endable, or else we have resigned ourselves to a life of perpetual war. The war on terrorism is not endable, as it would necessitate the end of all evil (even that evil which is really noble but just in opposition to our true evil [i.e. the enemy of me is bad]). And regarding the war on drugs, are drugs (marijuana, for instance) even something worth fighting against?

    By convincing the public that we are engaged in this oxymoronic forever-war, the government is positioning itself to usurp more of those liberties of ours which we take, by some crappy reasoning, to be less applicable in wartime. Judging by the American people's actions, I think the answer to your question is, on the whole, "Yes, we hate freedom."

  • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @10:23PM (#14863774)
    He's right though ... unlike many legal systems, ours was founded on the premise that it's better to let a guilty man go free than to imprison an innocent one.
  • Re:My experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 06, 2006 @10:26PM (#14863786)
    Talk about complete bullshit. It's garbage like this that makes people distrust their government.

    Let's see.. If I make a transaction over $10k, there's paperwork to be done and now the government has the Eye of Sauron on me. Hmm, I think I'll just avoid that headache and make two transactions on two different days instead. Alarm! Alarm! You are now being taken to Castle Wolfenstein!

    All this does is persuade criminals to NOT use banks at all and fucks over the legit folks. Typical end result of Big Brothering.
  • by badasscat ( 563442 ) <basscadet75@yah o o .com> on Monday March 06, 2006 @10:28PM (#14863799)
    Just to put things into perspective, you have a greater chance of being killed or injured by your own car than you do suffering death or injury from a terrorist attack.

    Which is why you need a driver's license, are required to wear seat belts, can't drive before a certain age, and have to drive a vehicle that meets government safety standards. It's also why you're required to have regular inspections, and why you can be pulled over and ticketed for driving with faulty equipment, or arrested and jailed for driving under the influence or even just recklessly.

    In other words, not a good example to support your argument. (Which I basically agree with otherwise.)

    But this all misses the point. Where is the rest of this story? All we know from this article, factually (or at least according to these people, who may or may not be telling the truth), is that one is a retired schoolteacher and they were contacted by homeland security because of a large payment they made. We also know that this guy has a lot of anger towards the government that may or may not have been caused by this action by DHS, or it may have existed previously and manifested itself in other ways. We don't know for how long or why these people were under surveillance by DHS - and some people have pretty good reasons for being under surveillance. (Yes, even Americans - remember Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols?)

    Now, if large payments alone were a trigger for a DHS audit, you can bet it would be front page news. Millions of people every year make large payments into their IRA's or on their home mortgages at various times for tax purposes, or other reasons. I myself have made payments larger than $6,000 on both my credit cards and student loans, and I can assure you that's not my normal payment amount - but I have yet to be contacted by DHS. Why is that? The only difference between me and this guy, according to this article, is that he is a retired Texas schoolteacher and I work in the entertainment industry. The DHS must love their cable TV.

    No, it just sounds fishy. Either the story is made up, or there's a long backstory here that we're not getting. Otherwise this surveillance would appear to be basically random (targetting some people who make payments like this but not others), in which case they may as well just close their eyes, open a phone book and point to get their latest victim. Why even bother?

    Sometimes I do get a little tired of seeing these conspiracy theory stories on /.
  • by loqi ( 754476 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @10:28PM (#14863801)
    And perhaps you are willing to wink at criminal behaviour so that you can secretly wire a few thousand quid to your mistress without having a few questions raised. I am not.

    And here we have it, folks. That fantastic attitude called "If you don't like it, you must be doing something wrong". Every scare and people like you grant the government more power to brighten your fucking night light. It's okay to trample our civil liberties as long as those nasty drug traffickers are brought to justice.

    Fuck you, Ritz.
  • Re:My experience (Score:2, Insightful)

    by smittyoneeach ( 243267 ) * on Monday March 06, 2006 @10:32PM (#14863825) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, but in the other ditch is a bunch of Civil Servants getting their faces ripped off for letting a score of thugs strongly interested in parking jets in large builds into the country.

    "...caught between the Scylla and Charybdis..."

    Which death did you choose; the quick or the slow?
  • Re:My experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by professorhojo ( 686761 ) * on Monday March 06, 2006 @10:44PM (#14863887)

    ...did not involve them being incarcerated, did not involve a police raid on his home, did not involve an unrestricted warrant on his property, did not have neighbours watching a raid and did not involve him missing work.
    from the article: "Eventually, his and his wife's money was freed up."

    i can't speak for anyone else, but i know that a hold placed on my bank account would ruin me. i would not be able to pay rent, buy food. i would probably be evicted from my house.

    all because some monkey raised a flag on a "suspicious" transaction.

    true - nobody went to jail in this case... but you seem to not be accounting for how easily innocent lives can get screwed up when flags are raised and accounts locked.

    maybe you should revisit your argument?

  • Re:My experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @10:45PM (#14863890)
    wrong, the PRIVACY of a citizen is being violated without warrant, because the government thinks an honest person MIGHT now be a criminal. By default, is none of the government's damn business why a citizen should choose to move or spend a large amount of money.
  • by professorhojo ( 686761 ) * on Monday March 06, 2006 @10:47PM (#14863898)
    from the article: "Eventually, his and his wife's money was freed up."

    The flags were cleared, they didn't lose money, they don't live under a cloud of suspicion
    i can't speak for anyone else, but i know that a hold placed on my bank account would ruin me. i would not be able to pay rent, buy food. i would probably be evicted from my house.

    all because some monkey raised a flag on a "suspicious" transaction.

    true - nobody went to jail in this case... but you seem to not be accounting for how easily innocent lives can get screwed up when flags are raised and accounts locked.

    maybe you should revisit your argument?
  • Re:Ex Post Facto (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eric Damron ( 553630 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @10:48PM (#14863900)
    Yeah that's right. And people can't be held without being charged and the government can't tape our phone conversations with out a warrent...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 06, 2006 @10:50PM (#14863906)
    Did you read the article?

    The DHS did not contact him. He contacted his bank, and was told that the payment was under review by the DHS.

    I myself have made payments larger than $6,000 on both my credit cards and student loans, and I can assure you that's not my normal payment amount - but I have yet to be contacted by DHS.

    How do you know you $6K payment wasn't under DHS investigation? Let me guess, the never contacted you.

    No, it just sounds fishy. Either the story is made up, or there's a long backstory here that we're not getting.

    Your response is the one that's fishy. Try reading the article first.
  • Re:Ex Post Facto (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bjdevil66 ( 583941 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @10:51PM (#14863911)

    Things you do that are okey today and aren't okay tomorrow won't be held against you tomorrow.

    Yeah, until you do them again tomorrow. Either you were trolling or you missed the point of the parent post. Freedoms that we enjoy today may be gone tomorrow in the name of "the children" or "terrorism" or political points of view (abortion, etc.).

    The GP post's original argument, "don't do anything wrong and you'll be fine.." has a huge flaw: Who decides what's right and what's wrong? You think the governmentt will always line up with your point of view about what's right? Who'll win if that disagreement comes to blows?

  • by lpq ( 583377 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @10:53PM (#14863926) Homepage Journal
    ScuttleMonkey posted:
    An anonymous reader writes "Capital Hill Blue is reporting that recently a retired Texas schoolteacher and his wife had a little run in with the Department of Homeland Security.

    The article says that someone at JC Penny's credit card customer service claimed that Homeland Security had to be notified. There was no mention of Homeland Security actually being involved.

  • Re:My experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NoData ( 9132 ) <_NoData_&yahoo,com> on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:02PM (#14863965)
    "If you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about."

    This is the most naive, despicably un-American sentiment of all the tripe that's thrown around in this charade that is post-9/11 paranoia.

    I'm sorry for being ad hominem, but please, try to use your imagination here.

    This sheep-like "nothing bad happens to good people" mentality is the type of smug, head-in-the-sand mentality that destroys free society. My folks emigrated from behind the "Iron Curtain" in the late 60s exactly to escape the sort of propoganda and easy government-sanctioned persecution that I see creeping up all around us. Let me tell you stories about family and friends fired, harrassed, jailed, and yeah, even tortured because their actions were "misinterpreted", Sometimes they were released without apology a few months later, sometimes not. Sometimes the reason for the police action was political. Sometimes they were framed by competitors. Sometimes they were "snitched" on by neighbors with vendettas. Sometimes they just had the wrong guy. When paranoia rules and every out-of-step behavior is potentially subversive (or "terroristic") it's pretty easy to wreak havoc with people's lives, either intentionally or not.

    But that doesn't happen here, right? You wouldn't get labeled terrorist and jailed indefinitely for something as silly as trolling unsavory websites right? [] Or be charged with a crime and have your property destroyed because you had a stupid bumper sticker, right? [] And we'd never get so paranoid about air travel as to make a mother drink her own breast milk [] to prove its safe before boarding a plane, or maybe create a secret no-fly list that is impossible to audit or even acknowledge but sometimes bars toddlers from flying because they might be terrorists [] (along with hundreds of others, including members of Congress), right? I mean, these are good people who didn't do anything wrong. I can't imagine that there'd be a slew of kafkaesque civil rights abuses that an internal Justice Dept. [] investigation might uncover [], right? (I won't even touch domestic wiretapping) I mean, those who have nothing to fear have nothing to hide, right? Right.

    These are just small examples, and maybe not even very good one. And maybe you'll never inconvenienced like the couple in this story. But who knows. Maybe you'll be the victim of identity theft, or even framed.. Maybe you'll have to engage in some bizzare but innocent behavior. Maybe you'll want to voice an unpopular opinion, or go read/hear someone else's horrible and unpopular opinion. Or maybe it'll just be some bureaucratic "oops". But, if it does happen, and YOU find yourself interrogated by the FBI, or forced to explain some blotch on your record for the rest of your life, or maybe even jailed without charge for a few months, then you come tell me how, sure, maybe you lost three months of your life in a cell being molested by thugs, but hey, at the end, everyone figured out it was just a big mistake. So really, it was OK. We're all safer for it. God bless America.
  • Re:My experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:03PM (#14863966) Journal
    which cost the supposed "victim" nothing

    You're right, it cost them "nothing" because that's MY money!

    MY money was being used to harass retired school teachers. That's MY money that could have been used to pay real cops a raise. That's MY money being used so that some DHS lackey can play Joe Friday and feel all detectivey. MY money could have gone towards having the army we wanted. MY money could have gone towards buying food for Wal-Mart employees (whoops, different rant).

    But no, MY money was spent freezing the account of some little old man because he tried to pay his bill. MY money was spent to see if JC Penney was really a terrorist front. MY money was wasted.
  • Yes (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:05PM (#14863976)
    What a load of crap. The US claims to have frozen most of Bin Laden's assets and cut him off from any money he had. It's very unlikely that his money is helping him much. That is, at least, if you believe the US government.

    Are these the same US sources that claimed there were large numbers of WMD's in Iraq? The problem with Al-Qaeda is precisely that they don't use regular routes for transferring money, infromation, weapons or anything else. Messages are carried between Al-Qaeda leaders verbally or in encoded dispatches by couriers, money is moved in hand luggage, or if they do use banks they spread the money all over the place in an inconspicuous manner. There is conveniently vulnerable no central Al-Qaeda cash repository that a bean counter at the Department of Homeland security can shut down by setting a few check boxes in a web interface and hitting the 'OK' button. The reason the USA is having such problems with Al-Qaeda is that Al-Qaeda members avoid using electronic networks for moving information and money whenever they can and when they do use these facilities they do so in a way that is almost impossible for even the USA's most expensive toys like the Echelon system to keep track of. To keep track of people like this you need extensive access to human intelligence assets which the US intelligence services, until 9/11 at least, thougth they didn't need any more. Of course that attitude has now changed which is why they have subcontracted 'efficient interogations' to places like Egypt in so that GW Bush can pretend to retain a vague air of credebility when he criticizes China, Russia and even Iran for human rights violations. I'm sure freezing Bin Laden's personal fortune probably gave Al-Qaeda some problems but it didn't cut them off from all of their financial assets and it certainly didn't hurt their ability to raise money.
  • by AJWM ( 19027 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:13PM (#14864018) Homepage
    Most people don't do sudden stuff like suddenly pay off ~$6,500 of their credit card debt in one payment.

    Happens all the time. There's quite an industry in re-fi's and second mortgages so that you can pay off high credit-card debt. Lowers the interest rate and that interest might be tax-deductable, to boot. Done it myself more than once. (These days though I pay the card off every month.)

    You'd think DHS could find a more relevant use of their time than chasing down all those transactions.

  • Re:Fake? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by KarmaMB84 ( 743001 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:13PM (#14864020)
    If you did this regularly before the DHS came on te scene then it wouldn't be suspicious...
  • by tector ( 959062 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:19PM (#14864048)
    Of course the feds are interested in the movement of money over x. And I see that there are plenty of readers eager to justify the monitoring of citizens all in the name of security.

    It is interesting that the justifications that existed when the level of x was thousands of dollars are now quoted when x is hundreds, when in theory, the effects of inflation should cause x to increase.

    In a few years, as technology, and data storage, and indexing allows, all transactions will be reported, catalogued, and analyzed, all in the name of security, and there will be plenty of readers that will be happy to step up to the plate and explain the justifications.

    The real reasons of course are about control of the masses, and to maintain authority by reminding all citizens that they are being watched and can be brought in to explain their actions and transactions at any time should their activity, be it financial or political opinion, raise an eyebrow in Washington, or the local town hall.

    While this particular example of credit card activity may or may not have occurred, the interesting point is that the assumption is that if someone's financial activity appears to change to a third party, the first party must explain their behaviour, as if there is a presumption of wrong doing.

    This is in opposition to the principals set forth in the Bill of Rights and the forth amendment:

    "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."

    Since there is no probable cause to believe that a person with $600 or some other arbitrary amount has acquired the funds through illicit mechanisms, requiring the person to provide documentary evidence is clearly an illegal search and seizure.

    This also may be a violation of the tenth amendment:

    "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people"

    Since the ability to keep tabs and monitor the general population is not expressly granted to the federal government by the constitution, such activity must be the domain of the states. This is why the feds now claim that this is part of the "war against terrorism" to create a federal interest in monitoring of ordinary citizens, just like the illegal wiretapping of ordinary citizens phoning back to the old country.

    The future is bleak, and the trends before us further demonstrate that these United States have continually moved from a democratic republic for the people, by the people, to a fascist state that operates in the interest of the new aristocracy, let's not forget that the most interesting of all financial transactions are the least scrutinized.

    Has any else noticed the huge transfer of wealth from public coffers to private hands..? (hint: it was more than 600 bucks).
  • Re:My experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by soft_guy ( 534437 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:22PM (#14864062)
    It isn't your money. Its your grandchildren's money. They borrowed it.
  • by Mr. Flibble ( 12943 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:23PM (#14864064) Homepage
    Bin Laden has a huge heap of money. Most people with similar sized money-heaps in the US are pretty free too...

    Like the Pakistani Millionaire who is currently being held in Guantanamo without trial? []

    Note, he may be guilty, he may be innocent. I have no idea, but he does deserve Habeas Corpus, IMO everyone does.
  • by taustin ( 171655 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:23PM (#14864065) Homepage Journal
    It's some sort of secret law. . .

    Or the bank was lying. One cannot discount the possibility that the bank just routinely holds large payments in order to generate more intererest before crediting it. Unless you complain.

    They do, after all, have the perfect fall guy for their own dishonestly.

    Can't help but wonder.
  • Re:My experience (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:26PM (#14864080)
    This is the EXACT SAME THING. Prevention on the part of law enforcers. You can't apply the senseless "slippery slope" logic to everything, you can't say "X can't be done now because it might get worse" to all of X, otherwise you will never ever move, nothing will ever progress. it's a logical fallacy to be concerned that what's currently OK might not be OK in the future. Deal with it in the future, not in some theoretical possible future you're imagining today with all of today's biases in your head.

    Umm, actually the police have strict limits as to how far they may go in preventing a crime. The term "Probable cause" applies.

    As for fallacies, I would suggest you look up the term "Weak Analogy" []

    Climbing the fence is a crime in progress unless the individual happens to own the property. Making a larger than usual payment on a loan is not a crime. In order for this analogy to work making the payment would have to normally be a crime.
  • by The_Wilschon ( 782534 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:34PM (#14864116) Homepage
    and why you can be pulled over and ticketed for driving with faulty equipment, or arrested and jailed for driving under the influence or even just recklessly.

    Otherwise this surveillance would appear to be basically random (targetting some people who make payments like this but not others), in which case they may as well just close their eyes, open a phone book and point to get their latest victim.

    Speeding ticket surveillance (and accordingly, pretty much all other moving violation surveillance) has always been basically random. It is perfectly plausible to drive 110 mph all the way from, say, Dallas to Austin without seeing a single police car, and then when you get into town, you hit 5mph over the posted limit (the sign for which happens not to be terribly obvious and visible), and you get a ticket. Or vice versa, drive wildly in town, and 5 over on the highway, ticket. Or some people speed all the time all their lives, and practically never get a ticket.

    If speeding surveillance is that random, why should we think that homeland security would not be so?
  • Re:Ex Post Facto (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:34PM (#14864117)
    Oh, oh, and prisoners aren't tortured, they are only agressively "interrogated" for months on end.
  • by GISGEOLOGYGEEK ( 708023 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:40PM (#14864141)
    ... And they don't always stick to the 10K limit.

    I tried to deposit $6500 cash into my credit union once ... they assumed it was stolen or drug money and wouldn't touch it.

    Needless to say, they don't get to hold my cash anymore, it all gets the high interest, zero fee treatment at ING Direct.

    Whenever your credit union / bank causes you problems, start talking about ING Direct very loudly so the other customers can hear. You'd be amazed at how quickly your insurmountable problems vanish.
  • Re:My experience (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jumpingfred ( 244629 ) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:45PM (#14864160)
    He was lying. They were running your credit to see if they should accept your check. They know from experience that if they tell you we don't trust your check that some people might walk so they take the easy path and lie saying it is for security reasons. You can't object to security without sounding like a tinfoil hat nutter.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:12AM (#14864304)
    this makes too much sense to not get flamed on Slashdot.


    If someone phones in a death threat, do you not monitor phones and such in order to catch them?

    Yeah. You pull the call history of the one phone involved and find the person. You don't go out and harass people at random because they called someone and... hey, our death threat guy called someone too!

    we're just trying to figure out who they are.

    Great! Here's a hint to get you all started: JC Penney is not a front for a terrorist organization. Neither is Mastercard. Paying your bills does not make you more likely to blow up a building.
  • A poem I heard.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:22AM (#14864351)
    First They Came for the Jews
    First they came for the Jews
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for the Communists
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a Communist.
    Then they came for the trade unionists
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a trade unionist.
    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left
    to speak out for me.

    Pastor Martin Niemöller

    It can't be anymore obvious, can it?
  • Re:My experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dashing Leech ( 688077 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:35AM (#14864401)
    "Which death did you choose; the quick or the slow?"

    This one is so easy. Would you rather (a) risk the chance of being struck by lighting, or (b) carry around a 100 lb faraday cage all day, every day for the rest of your life? Funny that the American government is able to sell the faraday cage as the right choice, especially with side benefit that they sell faraday cages. And so many people are just lining up to get one. It doesn't even matter to some if the occasional one is plastic. Why bother checking? As long as people feel safe because the government told them they did the right thing. Good for them.

  • by tsm_sf ( 545316 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:42AM (#14864423) Journal
    The reasoning behind this is because, generally, if you have that much debt, you do *not* have the means to pay it off. The reasoning continues that people deep in debt can get desperate--and indeed, they do. Many financial crimes have been born out of pure desperation.

    And yet it's not a crime to send these people credit card applications. Hello debt slavery!
  • Re:My experience (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wickedsteve ( 729684 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:48AM (#14864437) Homepage
    "Oh, I understand, but that's why we (in theory) have a represenative government -- to put supposedly wise people in between power and the slobbering masses." A representative gov't elects someone who represents the people. If the people are wise they will elect wise representatives. If people are ignorant or have poor judgement then so will their elected officials. Understand why Bush is in office now? The slobbering masses have their slobbering president.
  • Re:My experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:57AM (#14864472) Homepage
    How about these:

    1) It's a waste of resources. While we will probably never have a clear idea of the costs, it is not unfathomable that the overhead from such a program costs as much or more than the damage done to society through money laundering.

    2) Nobody is innocent. Nobody is "not doing anything wrong." If you are honest and thorough, I'm sure you can find at least 5 regulations, rules, or flat-out laws that you've broken within the past week. The "If you're not doing anything wrong, you've got nothing to worry about" argument is moot, since the number of people that statement describes is roughly 0.

    3) Requiring burdensome reports for transactions over $10,000 (yes, that's the limit) encourages noncompliance. If the choice is "Deposit $12,000 and spend an hour filling out paperwork" or "Deposit $6k twice and fill out zero paperwork," many people are going to choose the latter. It's like McDonalds. Double cheeseburgers are $.99, but single cheeseburgers are $1.09. Who's going to pay more to get less? Conversely, who's going to go through more effort just to receive greater scrutiny?

    4) Let's face it: The people being caught by transaction monitoring are white collar criminals. The people benefitting from such protection are large corporations. As Jon Stewart said last night at the Oscars: "Movie piracy is wrong. Just look what you're doing to the people in this room. Many of the women can barely afford enough clothing to cover their breasts." That's not an excuse, just a reminder to keep things in perspective.
  • Re:Red Herring (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:57AM (#14864474)
    Honestly, this isn't really about giving the nod to criminal behavior. This is about treating innocent people like criminals.

    Trolling through bank records looking for bank transactions which might point to criminaal behavior is pointless when they don't even have the resources to investigate all the resports of scammers they receive anually.

    Thats like patrolling the yacht club instead of responding to a reported burglery in process in the ghettos. Yeah, if you catch someone it is likely to be a bigger dollar amount involved but you'll make more of a difference if you stop known crime.

    The system as it is causes more harm than good. Ruining the lives of thousands in the off chance that you might find someone who is actually doing something illegal. Doesn't sound like a logical trade to me.
  • by crossmr ( 957846 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:58AM (#14864482) Journal
    I think most people can acknowledge that the US is about half-way down a very slippery slope. When you see news stories like this with increasing frequency, you have to ask yourself a question. What are you going to do about it? Do you grumble? Do you post about it in some meaningless forum? Create a blog and vent constantly? Goto a party, drink a little too much and carry on about "Bush"?

    What's the appropriate response, and how do you go about making sure its heard? Does that response change as the days and weeks pass? The point is simple: This type of thing is pretty unacceptable, and what is anyone really doing about it?

    We can harp on this stuff all day long, but until someone, or more likely a large group of someones, is willing to stand up and actually make a difference, its not going to change or stop.

  • Re:My experience (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EggyToast ( 858951 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:59AM (#14864484) Homepage
    Not really. The big difference is intent, as far as I see it. If you're at a bank, and want to split things up, or use an intermediary, then you're guilty. If you simply space your deposits out, well, you might be structuring. Or you might simply be reading the markets and deciding that you'll figure out what's going on at a later date.

    Many people have regular large payments added to their account twice a month -- it's a paycheck. Similarly, plenty of people get allowances monthly for whatever reason, or do freelance work, or the occasional odd job. Those amounts can be in the high hundreds or thousands. Just because someone decides over, say, a 3 month period to make 3 $5 deposits doesn't mean they're trying to structure; they could be seeing if the stock market is going to take a turn for the better (or worse, depending on where they want to enter the market), and realize that they're not going to do anything, and want the money in a bank.

    Granted, you can still get flagged and they can look into you. But unless you're actually breaking the law, you can simply explain what you did -- show the receipts for freelancing, or have your parents call if they're gifting money to you, or whatever. I agree that it's stupid for the ceilings to come down when inflation marches onwards, but it works in both directions -- they check for large, irregular deposits, as well as large, irregular withdrawls. The latter are for your protection, and the former are for their protection.

  • by syousef ( 465911 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @01:15AM (#14864535) Journal
    Bin Laden has a huge heap of money. Most people with similar sized money-heaps in the US are pretty free too... ...unless they try to spend more than $10k at a time apparently :-)
  • Re:My experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fulcrum of Evil ( 560260 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @01:25AM (#14864574)

    Yeah, but in the other ditch is a bunch of Civil Servants getting their faces ripped off for letting a score of thugs strongly interested in parking jets in large builds into the country.

    Bitch, bitch, whine. I'd rather die by the hand of a foreign attacker than be subjected to persecution by my own government.

  • Re:My experience (Score:4, Insightful)

    by shut_up_man ( 450725 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @01:31AM (#14864586) Homepage
    Excellent, excellent point. The smart version of this system would be quietly and efficiently analyzing these kind of transactions behind the scenes, and swiftly realized that a retired Texan schoolteacher was a false negative, and moved on to more promising prey. Blanket banning any transfers over a certain amount is a lumbering, dumb idea, particularly as now the story is out, the real bad guys will be careful enough to avoid doing this from now on.

    It reminds me of exactly what the Allies *didn't* do in the second world war when they cracked the Germans' codes - they made very sure they didn't let the Germans learn what they were doing, and thus avoided them changing their system and losing their information source.
  • Re:My experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @01:32AM (#14864589)
    They borrowed it.

    More correctly - It was borrowed from them.
  • Re:My experience (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Iron Clad Burrito ( 231521 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @02:12AM (#14864726)
    Especially those coming from... a left-wing blog.

    No, I'm not calling names -- look at the damned URL, and read any 10 articles on the site.
  • by Catbeller ( 118204 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @02:16AM (#14864739) Homepage

    There weren't any cells in the U.S.
    They've only charged ten men in the entire gulag system they've built around the world. And those aren't exactly airtight cases.
    Over thirty men have died from "stress" during imprisonment and torture. None were charged.
    They've not arrested a single man who actually plotted 9/11. They've bodyguards, drivers, one guy who wore a wristwatch "similar to those worn by terrorists". The bulk of those picked up in Afghanistan were fingered by enemies of the fingered who also got a fat cash payoff for giving up "terrorists".

    The main reason is that the actual terrorists died in the planes. The second reason is that Bin Laden et al had a month to evacuate Afghanistan before we started bombing the poor bastards who had nothing to do with 9/11.

    So, no terrorists. We've suspended the constitution, created a Gestapo, and are building Prison America to keep ourselves safe. And we've nothing to show for it.

    bin Laden got what he wanted: the removal of the U.S. military bases from holy Saudi Arabian soil, and the provocation of the U.S. invading the middle east. He's really no more reason to hit us. Why bother? We've turned every muslim in the damned world against us. He got a lot for his money.

    But we've got exactly nothing.
  • Re:My experience (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aiken_d ( 127097 ) <brooks@ta[ ] ['nge' in gap]> on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @02:21AM (#14864752) Homepage

    But unless you're actually breaking the law, you can simply explain what you did -- show the receipts for freelancing, or have your parents call if they're gifting money to you, or whatever.

    In short, as long as you can prove that you're innocent, you've got nothing to worry about.


  • Re:My experience (Score:2, Insightful)

    by phil4 ( 666912 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @02:26AM (#14864763)
    "It would be similarly suspicious if someone went out of their way to use the store exit that didn't have the RFID tag sensors, but ONLY after being told that exit didn't have them."

    Wait, that is perfectly acceptable. If selecting that exit is considerecd either a crime, or something worth detaining and searching me over, then I would never visit that store again and I would make sure to encourage others not to visit it either.

  • by The Man ( 684 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @03:11AM (#14864882) Homepage
    Anyone who votes for a bill that would allow this is in violation of his or her constitutional duties. There's a word for that, and it's the only crime defined by the constitution itself. Well, we're constantly being told we're at war, and guess what? In wartime, treason is a capital crime. I'm deadly serious: any congressman or senator who voted for this should be immediately tried for treason, convicted automatically, and executed. It's time to quit fucking around and take back control of the government. Do you hear me, Congress? You deserve to be punished for this crime. You deserve to DIE. Voting you out is not enough; history has shown that people are stupid enough to vote for whoever puts his face on TV. Sending you to jail is not enough; that example has been made again and again to no effect. I'm sick of it. You'll have your due process, you'll have your day in court, and then you'll get a needle in the arm, which is exactly what you deserve for your profoundly unamerican, illegal, and immoral actions. You are beneath contempt. You are beneath hatred. You have forfeited the right to life by your infringements on the just, guaranteed rights of those you are sworn to serve. There can be no lower scum, no more pathetic, miserable human refuse. Only the Law, which unlike you I am compelled to respect, will save you from the cruel, hideous torture you've so richly earned.

    Think I'm extreme? What have your moderate views and voting choices done for us? They've gotten us here, that's what. Time for a change. Turn off the TV, forget about "compromise," and quit worrying about "wasting your vote." If what we have now isn't the result of wasted votes, I don't know what would be. Vote Libertarian. Vote independent. Run for office yourself. Ask your state to call for a constitutional convention. Won't do it? Ask yourself this: What would make you change the way you think, vote, and live if not the things you've seen, read, and heard about our government from reliable sources in the past 5 years? WHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE FOR YOU TO UNDERSTAND THAT THE PEOPLE YOU'RE VOTING FOR DO NOT SERVE YOUR INTERESTS?

  • Re:My experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by colmore ( 56499 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @03:55AM (#14864979) Journal
    More or less, yes.

    There's an old saying that you can measure the freedom of a society by counting the laws. (This isn't true of course, a society in which the only law is "Obey Leader and his Enforcers at all times" isn't terribly free, but there's a point to the saying anyway.)

    Once you hit a critical threshold in the number of laws and complexity of the situations they govern, then it's impossible for any citizen, even any lawyer, to know the law, even just the areas of the law that affect "normal" day to day life. We've long since passed this point.

    Under such a system, you may know of many individual specific things that are illegal, but in general when presented with an unkown situation, there's a moment of vertigo. You don't know how to act. Now in a free society with limited, known, laws, you'd always know what you can and can't do. There's a list out there of prohibited actions and their associated penalties. You know these actions, and as long as you aren't doing them, you're in the clear. However in a society with millions of laws, you can't think this way. You either have to carefully research an unfamiliar action or (much more commonly) just behave like everyone else is behaving and assume, since they aren't getting arrested, that you're acting in accordance with the law.

    For example: last weekend I was in a state park, walking around off the trail. I came across an old, decaying building (probably pre-1900) and went in and explored, opening what doors an cupboards were left, looking into the exposed rooms, checking out the rusting fixtures etc. Was I in violation of some law or park rule? I'll never know. Perhaps if an official had come along, they could have given me some ticket. Hell, it could have been a $50,000 fine and a year in jail. I'd have contested, but if the law was on the books, ultimately I'd have no defense. Ignorance of the law is not an alibi.

    Further complicating things, consider that there are tons of laws on the books that aren't enforced. Little things you'd never think of. Even things that make for amusing trivia. There are a whole lot of places in the country where using dirty language around a female is illegal. Pornography is still *very* illegal in the US. The supreme court basically decided that the law couldn't be enforced, but it's still on the books. It would only take a fall of the gavel in washington, and suddenly every adolescent boy with an internet connection is a felon.

    Combine this with pervasive surveilance and you have a very scary situation. When most people, whether they know it or not are guilty of imprisonable crimes, and the government has eyes everywhere, then it doesn't take any actual voted-upon action for your society to transform swiftly and suddenly into a very different kind of place. No law has to change, and suddenly you're living in a very different society.

    It's effectively illegal to leave your house without a government issued ID anymore. A friend of mine (a republican no less) was riding her bike during the 2004 RNC in New York City. She wasn't part of, or even close to the protests, but she looks "weird" she's young, she's not white, and she has tatoos. She ran a stopsign on her bike (pretty much standard practice for cyclists at 4-way stops) and got stopped by a cop. He would have let her go, but she didn't have an ID on her. As a result, she spent 18 hours sitting on a hard cement floor with her hands plastic-tied behind her, with no access to food, water, or legal counsel.

    She never got her bike back, and her suit against the NYPD was thrown out of court, as apparently, they were acting 100% within the Patriot act.

    When the Soviet Union was still around, some people (generally people losing a political debate) would say things like "So why don't you move to Russia where you'll get thrown in a cell for not carrying your goddamn papers."

    And here we are.
  • Re:My experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SillyNickName4me ( 760022 ) <> on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @04:03AM (#14865002) Homepage
    It's garbage like this that makes people distrust their government.

    And the problem with distrusting your government is?
  • by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @04:23AM (#14865047) Homepage Journal
    Usually it's money laundering you get accused of, and a HUGE number of money laundering cases (legit ones) are drug related. I want to say the limit is either $7k or 10k cash.

    When I was a kid, I went with a friend and his dad to buy a Porche. He went to the bank first and got out a load a cash to make his down payment. If he had been pulled over on the drive from the bank to the car dealership why should he have had to explain anything to anyone?

    Technically it SHOULD be an easy charge to beat, IF you got the money legitimately. If you didn't, or don't have a paper trail ("My friend loaned me $10 grand for...."), have fun!

    The problem is that we're supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. You don't have to explain anything. Unless they have PROOF that you did something illegal, keep your mouth shut.

  • by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @04:25AM (#14865052)

    Even though a credit card company should not be loaning money to people in such circumstances. Being that they are a business rather than a charity.

    Loaning money to someone who can never pay it back is a very good business tactic. It means that they keep on paying interest payments for the rest of their lives, usually totalling much more than the loan was in the first place. Apart from that, it gives the jerks a feeling of power over the poor bastards so owned.

    It is completely immoral and evil, of course, but when has that stopped a business from doing it ?

    So all the Raynd-worshippers can relax: this is not charity, but a particularly nasty and deceitfull plan on furthering the business owners self-interest at the expense of others.

    As opposed to winning a lottery, having long term savings mature, selling things, having a relative die, etc...

    Surely you mean cheating at lottery, laundering money, selling stolen goods, murdering a rich relative...

    Remember, if you stop being paranoid, the terrorists lose ! And then who would the boogeyman be ?

  • by Biotech9 ( 704202 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @04:27AM (#14865054) Homepage

    Obviously you haven't been doing much traveling. Check out Cuba, Nicaragua, Israel, Croatia (until recently), etc. No matter where I've been the U.S. has always welcomed me back with open arms compared to some of the places I've traveled.

    Just think about what you've written. You're saying the US is not so bad, not compared to Cuba, Nicaragua, Croatia, Israel. If you're trying to say that the US is not such a fortress state and in doing so favourably compare it to countries like Cuba or Nicaragua, or countries undergoing as much *real* terrorism as Israel, or countries with such recent mass-conflicts such as Croatia, then you're not doing a very favourable comparison.

  • Re:My experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SillyNickName4me ( 760022 ) <> on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @04:48AM (#14865084) Homepage
    I won't comment on most of your post, but 3 things stand out that can't be left without answer.

    How about the United State's ties to Europe? 911 sure helped damage those (or at least finally brought the problems to the surface)

    After the september 11 attacks, NATO 'woke up' and activated the 'an attack against one is an attack against us all' article (article 5 if I'm not mistaken).

    The USA government said 'no thanks'.

    Years later, they had to come back to NATO because of not being able to handle Afghanistan alone.

    Few people in Europe took issue with the Afghanistan invasion, many believed there was enough proof and enough reason to go there.

    What did cause the trouble between the USA and Europe is:
    1. The refusal of the US government to involve NATO, and then comming back on that when they couldn't handle things (and still trying to hide the fact that they can't handle things)
    2. The Iraq invasion.

    9/11 only has to do with this indirectly due to reason 1.
    The US government handling of those attacks and the Iraq invasion are the real problem there.

    How about all the looney conspiracy theories? Can't say I've ever seen such a division amongst the American people since the civil war.

    Try having a discussion about abortion, and you will see the same approx 50 50 split and the same fanatism... No, it is not new, has nothing to do with 9/11, and everything with a long standing 2 party system that does not allow for any 'middle ground' or nuance.

    And how about civil liberties? For christ sakes, we have to actually consider a torture policy now.

    No you don't. The only way to consider a torture policy is disbanding one. Any other 'considering' is a clear sign of tyrany.

  • "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" perhaps? Having a delay in my payment being posted to my account just doesn't seem to qualify.

    Government poking into your private afairs conflicts with liberty, and is actually quite explicitly mentioned in things like the US constitution.

    The delay in the payment is not the problem, the cause of that delay is.
  • Re:My experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StressedEd ( 308123 ) < minus cat> on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @05:09AM (#14865126) Homepage
    as long as you can prove that you're innocent

    That's an interesting legal viewpoint. That would make life so much easier for everyone.

    Who knows, maybe it will catch on.

  • Re:My experience (Score:1, Insightful)

    by cresquin ( 852066 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @05:16AM (#14865145) Homepage
    You shouldn't have to. Thus our current problem.
  • by Sique ( 173459 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @05:21AM (#14865156) Homepage
    ... And the attackers of the Sep 11 2001 weren't hiding their identity at all or borrowing from other people (there have been some clouds around the real identity of Muhammad Atta though, the family Atta denies the person being their [missing] son).

    The interesting and most Anti-PATRIOT thing about the suicide bombers of Sep 11 2001 was that they were just normal. They were regular students at a regular university in Germany. They had regular student visa for both Germany and U.S., they were using their regular passports, they were openly going to their preferred mosque.

    They did nothing to hide their tracks. Of course they wanted a good credit report on their credit cards. Of course they didn't want to be chased by debt collectors. Of course they didn't want the cheques they were writing to bounce. Basicly all they did was being good citizens. And that should scare anyone who thinks waging a War on Terror might be a good idea. If you didn't to anything wrong, you are a prime suspect.
  • Re:My experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lysergic.acid ( 845423 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @05:24AM (#14865165) Homepage
    Yes, we've all heard that same tired argument that's constantly used to justify every new government policy that encroaches on our rights as individuals. Frankly, I'm not mad at the government for being unable to stop the 9/11 attacks. Absolute security is unattainable, and the increased security we gain from capitulating to fear-mongering government officials isn't worth the trade-offs. I'm really more upset at our government leaders for their foreign policy decisions that elicits hostility from people of other nations and motivates such attacks.
  • Re:My experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SillyNickName4me ( 760022 ) <> on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @05:30AM (#14865173) Homepage
    You shouldn't have to. Thus our current problem.

    Ever wondered why this idea of checks and balances exists?

    I'm sorry, but you should always have a slight level of distrust with regards to your government. The day you give that up is the day you allow for tyrany.
  • Re:My experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Loonacy ( 459630 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @05:34AM (#14865183)
    I actually kind of liked the old system of being innocent until they prove you're guilty.
  • Re:My experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LucidBeast ( 601749 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @06:00AM (#14865233)
    Take lots of laws (designed to "protect" you),
    mix with surveillance
    add some patriotism,
    chop in belief in divine right to rule,
    let it simmer under suppression of opposition
    bake it under external threat (fake one will do if real one isn't available)
    Serve with men in uniforms

    Guess what's cooking kids?
  • Re:My experience (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @06:03AM (#14865239)

    He said "paid for in cash"

    Which also includes checks. Cash as opposed to financing.

    Did you notice? Right there you equaled cash with checks, untraceable 'original' currency with something that leaves a mark.

    Your buddy jumpingfred also chimed in to say "If they actually paid with cash bills that is extremely suspicious.". GG guys.

  • Re:My experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ObsessiveMathsFreak ( 773371 ) <obsessivemathsfreak&eircom,net> on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @06:14AM (#14865277) Homepage Journal
    Guess what's cooking kids?

    Now With Extra Oppression and only Half The Rights of Other Nations
    Sign up Today!!!

    (registration is mandatory)
  • Re:My experience (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SillyNickName4me ( 760022 ) <> on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @07:35AM (#14865428) Homepage
    Uh, what cave have you been living in?

    I seem to remember a past 5 years where the mere suggestion of possibly distrusting the USA government would get me hordes of Americans telling me I am Anti American, supporting 'the enemy', and that their government was definitely doing the right thing and such..

    It was a bit extreme in the last 5 years, but its not exactly new.

    Sadly enough, too many Americans don't care enough or are too ignorant to distrust their government and think critically about what it is doing.
  • Re:My experience (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @07:37AM (#14865432)
    As government becomes larger and more powerful, there is an increasing need to create more crimes and more criminals. What you experienced is government "breaking the ice" for yet another expansion of power. They will edge oppression in little by little so it won't be noticed by the majority, and the vocal minority can be labeled "radicals".

    Oh, it was just a mistake. You can go free now. But you still feel like a criminal, right? That's the point. Can you guess what happens when they introduce the next, even more absurd, round of "crimes"? The average individual won't even bat an eye.

    Look at the statistics. The US government of today dwarfs the US government of only 50 years ago. Look a little closer and we find that the amount of peaceful individuals in prison dwarfs the amount of peaceful individuals in prison of only 50 years ago. That's no accident. On a larger note, the US government is now the wealthiest, most powerful government in the entire world. At the same time, the US government now has the highest rate of incarceration per population in the entire world. That's no passing coincidence.
  • Re:My experience (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @07:46AM (#14865443)
    she spent 18 hours sitting on a hard cement floor with her hands plastic-tied behind her, with no access to food, water, or legal counsel

    For running a stop sign on a bicycle. Is there anyone left who can't admit that we are now living under one of the most oppressive totalitarian states that has ever existed? (Just because government picks and chooses its acts of oppression -- presumably to limit the amount of backlash -- doesn't make it any less oppressive.)

  • Re:My experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cherokee158 ( 701472 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @08:01AM (#14865471)
    Statistically, you are more likely to die at the hands of your own government, than die by the actions of a foreign attacker.

    The most secure place to live is a prison, but I'm not sure I want to live in one.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @08:02AM (#14865473)
    The government derives a tremendous amount of power from people being dependent upon them for their wellbeing. Having people in positions of financial responsibility is not consistent with a powerful government. A fascist government like we have now WANTS people to live in poverty, always behind on their bills, not getting ahead.

    It's insanely expensive to be poor in this country. You are charged extra for everything. Deposit your paycheck, the bank decides to "hold" it for a few days, so the checks you wrote to pay your bills bounce. $50 each from the bank and another $50 each from the utility companies. The bank closes your checking account as punishment, your credit is ruined, and you have to pay in cash. What? You want to pay in cash? Pay an extra $3 for the money order plus an additional $3 or so fee to the utility company for paying in person. You can forget about borrowing money. subprime interest rates are over 30% now, nevermind that usury laws forbid rates that high, except of course at banks, which are exempted from usury laws.

    Once your credit is marked, you're screwed. They check your credit for EVERYTHING now - and it's all a big excuse to charge you more. They check your credit when you write a check, when you want to move your utilities to your new low-income apartment you had to get when they jacked the interest rate up 10% on your home and foreclosed on it, when you want to see a doctor, when you go to the emergency room, when you get a traffic ticket. There's no reason for 90% of the inquiries on your credit, but everyone checks because they can - and all that checking only makes it worse.

    This whole scheme is designed to try to make the nation as a whole poorer. Look at all of this offshoring. The more American dollars flow overseas, the poorer the nation gets as a whole and the more power the government can consolidate for itself. These politicians could care less if the nation is poor - they will still be the robber barons. When have you ever seen a poor politician? There is plenty of money for them.

    The right wing fascists and the left wing socialists are in the same game - to take any power from the people and consolidate it for the government. They want to take our guns, our money, and any means we have of stopping them - and they do it all by turning us against ourselves.

    They instigate class warfare. The left wing socialists tell the poor that it's because of their greedy employers that they're poor, and because the "rich" people want to keep them down. The right wing fascists tell the middle class that they're not richer because the poor are a drain on them - the entitlement programs (started by the government) are the reason the middle class can't break out.

    FDR was a brilliant socialist. He knew that once we started the entitlement programs, we could never stop them and that it would be a slippery slope into the ultimate consolidation of power by the government.

    The only solution can be for the people to take back their government. End the entitlements that keep people dependent. End the entitlements that keep corporations loyal. The government's sole responsibility is the defense of the nation. NOTHING ELSE. Everything else must be left to the States and the People.
  • Experiment (Score:2, Insightful)

    by EmagGeek ( 574360 ) <(gterich) (at) (> on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @08:16AM (#14865503) Journal
    This is very interesting to know. I was seriously just about to pay off one of my credit cards (to the tune of 10k) when I read this story. I usually pay about a grand, and was just going to do an online payment for the whole thing. I'm thinking it might be better to split my payment between a couple of different online payments and mailing in a check. I think they let me do three online payments in a billing cycle, so I could do three online and mail in a check for the rest.

    Or, do I want to just pay the whole thing off to see if I get screwed like this, too?

    This whole thing seems ridiculous to me. Ever since 9/11, the government has just consolidated more and more power, and for what? How many terrorists have actually been charged for 9/11. ONE? One guy, and the case against him isn't even that compelling. How many OTHER terrorists have been charged (let alone convicted) for 9/11? ZERO? Have my billions and billions of tax dollars done a single thing? I think not.

    Sure, Bush makes a big deal time and again about how we foiled some plot here and there. When has there been a credible threat since 9/11? Tell me, how many times has there been specific information that an attack was imminent since 9/11? ZERO? That's what I thought.

    What is really the damn shame in all of this is that we're going to cut off our noses to spite our faces in 2008. When Hillary the Socio-fascist runs for President, we'll put her in office just because Bush is an idiot, but we'll even worse off. The government would have already taken all of our personal freedom, and her government would be well-poised to take what freedoms are left and put us under the control of foreign governments.

    It's a shame, but I feel like our country died on 9/11... the terrorists got exactly what they wanted, and they are out there laughing their collective asses off as we speak.
  • Re:My experience (Score:2, Insightful)

    by smittyoneeach ( 243267 ) * on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @08:52AM (#14865584) Homepage Journal
    The confusion, itself, is the point.
    Consider people living in places that stand likely to get whacked by bad weather. The fact that major storms happen is about as mysterious as the elevation of your house. Now, are we to have a government living in peoples' underwear, saying "you can't live here"? No, that's authoritarian. Shall the government say "sucks to be you, house all flooded"? No, we like a compassionate society, as expressed by the government. How do we resolve the conflict between a government with enough information to act in ways we like, yet not in posession of information that crushes privacy?
    This is the confusion I'm getting at, and to which I pointed earlier in this thread, and recevied an "Overrated" mod, which is why I typically eschew posting to threads posted by a certain minority of /. editors with whom I am apparently persona non grata.
  • Re:My experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stephen Samuel ( 106962 ) <samuel AT bcgreen DOT com> on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @09:32AM (#14865717) Homepage Journal
    The reason why these people noticed was that they saw that the cheque had cleared their account a few days ago, but the credit card company hadn't changed their balance .... So they started asking questions .. like: where's the $6K that you just took out of my account?

    This also has a nice bonus for the credit card company... if they hold off crediting the $6000 for a week, at 15%, that comes to about $17 ... or $75/month (if they can make the 'investigation' last that long).

  • by stang ( 90261 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @10:14AM (#14865920)

    Dick Chaney shot someone

    The police investigation determined that it was a hunting accident. The victim declined to press charges. Look - I'm no fan of the veep, but again, this was a hunting accident. This kind of thing happens when you get inexperienced people running around with guns trying to shoot things.

    Randy Duke steals millions, hes ok

    Actually, Duke Cunningham got 8 years, 4 months in prison, is required to pay a 1.8 million dollar fine, and has to give up all his booty. When he gets out, his career is over. He'll be lucky to be a shift manager at a Dairy Queen.

    Bill ORielly the moron, lies to death and its ok

    Well, yeah - but it's not a crime to lie, even on television. Or the Internet, for that matter.

  • Re:My experience (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @10:26AM (#14866012)
    You shouldn't have to. Thus our current problem.

    That's like saying you shouldn't ever have to worry about firearm safety or safety on the road.

    Whenever you use a powerful and dangerous tool, you should always use caution, and you should always be even more concerned when other people wield that same tool for their own interests in your presence. There is no larger and more dangerous tool than the government. Always be wary of men with power; they are still men after all.
  • Re:My experience (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hey! ( 33014 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @10:39AM (#14866098) Homepage Journal
    Look at it as a game.

    The black hats' objective is to do bad things in a way that looks perfectly innocent. It follows therefore that the white hats' task is to go through a bunch of perfectly innocent looking activities and find the bad things the black hats are doing.

    For those of us who are passively involved in the game, it comes to our attention when the white hats fail, which happens in two ways: the black hats succeed directly, or the white hats misidentify us as a black hat. Statistically speaking, since there are so few black hats, it follows that the game nearly always comes to our attention most often when the white hats misidentify us.

    Now, supposing we find the rate at which we are misidentified unacceptable. We have two options:

    (1) Accept a higher rate of black hat success or

    (2) Fire the white hats and hire smarter ones.

    Unfortunately, the rules of game do not allow us to fire the black hats and hire stupider ones.

  • Re:My experience (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SillyNickName4me ( 760022 ) <> on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @11:04AM (#14866277) Homepage
    Well, they have to offer.

    In this specific case, strictly spoken, no.

    There was no foreign nation attacking any of the member states. It was still considered a reason for activating article 5 because it was held to be the right thing to do despite that. There was willingness to help, not so much obligation.

    All of NATO was available for the invasion of Afghanistan, but the US was quite capable of handling that by itself, and only really wanted extra help from British super-l337 infantry (because, as they said, 'we don't do mountains'...)

    The USA has been quite capable of toppling a foreign government, but as both Afghanistan and Iraq show (and quite a few past examples do as well), the USA hasn't been able to invade and occupy a country of any substance thoroughly for the last 60 years.

    Arrogance, refusing well meant and likely usefull help, and then comming back on it..

    You don't have to send along a few hundred guys from every member nation just to show the flag, if they're only going to lead to a confused command structure and the need to bring dozens of translators along.

    Uh, I believe that NATO has been around for a while, has the command and control structure for this, has solved the language problems for decades, spent decades training together to make sure this all works etc..

    The problem seems more that the USA government wanted absolute control over the command structure and did not want NATO inbetween.

    After the invasion the occupation was taken over by NATO units: initially British and German for the most part, though since then they've been rotated several times and I really don't know who's out there at present.

    1. occupation has never been completed, and there are still territories outside the control of anyone other then Taliban alligned warlords.
    2. NATO was only called in when it became clear that the USA army was good at fast, high intensity operations, but sucks at stabilizing a country afterward.

    It was the invasion of Iraq that spit the alliance, not Afghanistan.

    Afghanistan didn't split the alliance, it did create the conditions for what followed.

    Refusing NATO initially, then leaving it to NATO forces to clean up the mess so the USA could move on to its next target was a big part of this (and yes, I am quite aware there are still special forces from the USA active in Afghanistan, they work closely with some of my fellow countrymen (not native English speakers) in mountainous areas)

    Regarding NATO, ISTR that the US tried to invoke the alliance to get allied nations to send troops to Turkey, to help protect it from Iraq. But why, we asked, did Turkey think it might get attacked by Iraq? Oh, said the US, because we're about to attack Iraq and the Turks are helping.

    Hmm. NATO is for mutual defence; OTOH, if one member of NATO is bloody stupid enough to start a war, are we obliged to step in to protect them from the consequences of their foolishness?

    No, and that is definitely not what the NATO charter says. This kind of repeated abuse of the alliance is what causes a lot of distrust among former as well as current allies.
  • Re:My experience (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zstlaw ( 910185 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @11:19AM (#14866385)

    But if they audit everything they could easily have caught the 9/11 hijackers. I mean look at this paper trail.

    1. 8 packaging knives ( $7.68)
    2. 8 plane tickets from Boston to NYC (delta $832)

    These terrorists attacks could be financed by a single mugging. Yes I am ignoring the planning and training stages of this mission, but those steps could be done outside the US where we have no auditing capabilities.

    I think it comes down to how far are we willing to go to protect ourselves from every attack. Scanning port cargo to catch nuclear materials being smuggled into this country is a good investment, patting down every citizen for possible nailclipper violations is asinine. You can never catch every individual with a chip on his shoulder, but you can try to make the big disasters harder. It really seems like they are concentrating effort on minimizing citizen rights rather than on real protection efforts.

    Color me cynical.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @11:30AM (#14866474)
    What country do you think you are in bub? Sweden or Iceland??

    Everyone knows that people with cash are TERRORISTS or DRUG DEALERS or simply do not deserve the money. rich people have lots of credit and use checks anyone else MUST be up to something!

    it's the american way! and will stay that way until you get very loud about it and get others to be very loud about it.
  • by Sinistar2k ( 225578 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @11:39AM (#14866546)
    The problem is that we're supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. You don't have to explain anything. Unless they have PROOF that you did something illegal, keep your mouth shut.

    Handy idea, that. Except that these days, you can be "detained" indefinitely while they decide whether or not they have enough resources to manufacture the proof.

    So go ahead, keep your mouth shut. Enjoy your vacation in sunny Guantanamo.

  • Re:My experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @11:47AM (#14866608) Journal

    Frankly, I'm not mad at the government for being unable to stop the 9/11 attacks.

    Frankly, I'm mad as hell about it considering that they had all sorts of warning signs that either got lost in the bureaucracy or ignored by the higher-ups in the Bush administration.

    The sad truth about 9/11 is that they had ample warning and could have prevented it with the laws in place without the need for any big brotherish "Patriot Act".

    The sad truth about post 9/11 is that you could solve the airline threat by simply keeping guns off the planes (was already done) and fortifying the cockpit door. That's it! Problem solved! No need for TSA, no need to show ID to get on the plane, none of that!

    Basically our Government completely failed us and now it wants more power. People should have been asking why they weren't using the power they had effectively in the first place -- instead of why they need more.

  • Re:My experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <> on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @11:48AM (#14866615) Homepage Journal
    Don't act so surprised; neither are the police. Being "investigated" doesn't entitle you to any sort of notification, because it doesn't mean anything. If you get charged with something, then you get to see all the evidence, confront your accusers, all the rest of that good stuff. But you do not have any right to know when you're being "investigated" -- and this is not a new development, there is no basis in law for it traditionally.

    So don't point the Big Brother finger at Homeland Security as if they're somehow unique; you could be under investigation by any number of agencies, including your local police, and not neccessarily be aware of it. Unless they're going to charge you with something, they don't have any reason to inform you or anyone else about it.
  • DUI is not a right (Score:3, Insightful)

    by recursiv ( 324497 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:10PM (#14866766) Homepage Journal
    There are many rights that we US citizens do not have. I would hardly consider driving while intoxicated to be one of the rights that we have as citizens. Other rights we don't have include:
    • Arson
    • Yelling fire in a crowded theater
    • Punching strangers in the face
    • Robbing banks
    • Bombing churches
    • Not being offended
    • Sawing down trees in public parks

    If you have been drinking and need transportation, I reccommend calling a cab/taking the bus/train/subway/walking.
  • Re:My experience (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rufus88 ( 748752 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:10PM (#14866770)
    The positions of each of you are not mutually exclusive. You should always distrust the government, but you shouldn't have to distrust the government.
  • Re:My experience (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drxenos ( 573895 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @02:26PM (#14868197)
    What credit card are you using that charges 15% a week???
  • Re:My experience (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rahrens ( 939941 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @03:41PM (#14868996)
    "...distrusting your government will not allow tyranny..." in the long term!

    Ourt Constitution was oraganized as it is precisely because the Framers didn't trust government to hold the peoples' best interests at heart - precisely because they had personnally witnessed the failure of the British government to do just that!

    Distrusting the government doesn't mean you aren't patriotic, doesn't mean you aren't loyal to the Unitied States, and doesn't mean you aren't loyal to democratic principles. Distrusting the government IS being patriotic, IS part of loyalty to the U.S., and IS loyal to democratic priciples!

    I voted for Bush, and have been largely Republican in my voting practices since Reagan. But Bush's actions in the last year may drive me to vote otherwise in the next election - why? Because the Republican party has gone too far in the Conservative direction, and the country needs to be dragged back to the middle again, at least in my opinion. I'm sorry, but war on terror or not, I firmly believe that warrantless searches as Bush authorized them are not legal. There are ways to get that kind of thing done democratically, with Congress' approval, so at least our Representatives have a chance to know about it. It's what we pay them for!

    And that illustrates just why we should distrust the gov't. - because sometimes people in the gov't do things that violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the Constitution.

    It is that distrust that helps gets things set back on course again, eventually.
  • Re:My experience (Score:3, Insightful)

    by raygundan ( 16760 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @03:46PM (#14869040) Homepage
    Not that this justifies her horrible mistreatment at the hands of the police and government, but she should have stopped. It's not any more optional for cyclists than it is for cars. Clearly, the punishment did not fit the crime, but she deserves a ticket every time she blows a stop sign.

    I'm a cyclist. I stop. Drivers (myself included) hate cyclists because so many don't obey the rules.
  • Re:My experience (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AeroIllini ( 726211 ) <aeroillini&gmail,com> on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @07:29PM (#14870893)
    The sad truth about post 9/11 is that you could solve the airline threat by simply keeping guns off the planes (was already done) and fortifying the cockpit door. That's it! Problem solved! No need for TSA, no need to show ID to get on the plane, none of that!

    I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the 9/11 "airline threat" only worked because it caught us off guard. There really is no way to fight that without becoming completely paranoid about everything and everyone.

    In absolutely every airplane hijacking in this country before 9/11, the objective of the hijackers was to get what they wanted, and to live through the experience. Passengers were told to "just sit quietly, and do what they ask; no one will get hurt, the authorities will handle this, it will all be over soon, etc."

    When the terrorists stood up with their wimpy little 3/4" blades and announced the hijacking, the passengers did what what they thought was a very reasonable thing according to all prior knowledge: just let this play out, and we'll all survive. They didn't count on the fact that the terrorists were willing to die for their cause, and take out the whole plane with them.

    You can bet money that if anyone tried the same thing now on a plane, they would be tackled from behind and beaten senseless with full cans of soda before they can even make a move. The paradigm has shifted, and we now know that not all hijackers are even interested in living through the ordeal. Therefore, it makes sense for the passengers to try and stop them before something truly awful happens. In fact, this is what happened on the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania: once the passengers heard that these were suicide bombers via cell phones, they attacked the terrorists, which is probably why the plane crashed before it even made it to its (unknown) destination.

    No amount of new security will make us safer; it will only serve to inconvenience the passengers and ensure that we show the terrorists just how fearful we really are. The secured cockpits, air marshalls, and a willingness to stand up and beat a terrorist senseless, are all we need. Anything else is paranoia.
  • Re:My experience (Score:3, Insightful)

    by IgnoramusMaximus ( 692000 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @09:29PM (#14871753)
    The next time the United States government brutally executes six million people based on their heritage and religious beliefs alone, you may make comparisons with Nazi Germany.

    This is of course a fallacy, assuming that the only valid way to compare anything is at the point of your choosing in the history timeline, the point selected carefully as to make such comparisons as least valid as possible. Because you say so. However, if you had paid attention, most of the comparisons are to the Germany of the early 1930s, well before such wide-scale attrocities occured. And those comparisons appear to be quite valid and frighteningly accurate.

    Do not fall into that trap. No matter how bad you think things are in the United States government, they will never approach the level of the Third Reich. Period.

    Is that your lucky psychic 8-ball telling you this? Or have you got a time machine in your garage? Because failing these, you have absolutely no way to justify such a statement, other then by sheer power of jingoistic naivette. May I remind you that the US history is replete with activities which are on par with that of Nazi Germany already, like for example the Genocide of the American Indians or the Genocide of the black slaves being transported there to. Also, history teaches us that "never" is a word most fondly cherished by shortsighted fools, whom history apparently enjoys proving wrong.

"An organization dries up if you don't challenge it with growth." -- Mark Shepherd, former President and CEO of Texas Instruments