Trump: Obnoxious blowhards using the First Amendment just cause trouble

Donald Trump spoke with Neil Cavuto in May 2015, just after the Muslim terrorist attack on Pam Geller’s “Draw Mohammed” contest in Garland, Texas, and on the eve of a Charlie Hebdo Memorial ceremony.

Trump on Geller: “[T]he last thing we need is an obnoxious blowhard like Geller to go out and start trouble, when there’s no reason for it… This has nothing do with free speech. This is taunting. And all it does is cause trouble…

Cavuto asked how Trump felt about the memorial for Charlie Hebdo: “Now, I have had satirical magazines over the years go after me. And what they do is use satire in order to not to tell the truth. They make it satirical. And this way, they can say anything they want about you. So, they were taunting, and they really taunted, and guess where they are right now?,” Trump continued, taunting the Charlie Hebdo dead.

His mother was a self-satirizing hamster and his father smelt of elderberries.

 

Rubio bulks up

Senator Marco Rubio is of the opinion that passage of the USA Freedom Act, which ends certain warrantless government surveillance of your internet and phone records, is dangerously misguided:

There is not a single documented case of abuse of these programs which were put in place after 9/11 to keep Americans safe.

I disagree.

First, the Senator elides any consideration that the once secret program – in and of itself – is an abuse of the Constitution and of American citizens. Your opinion may vary, but this question is quite reasonably open to debate. Even defenders of the program don’t describe it as liberty-neutral, they say the loss of privacy is justified by enhanced security. On that basis, as we’ll see below, the program is a failure.

He also seems to be equating “no abuse” with “Constitutional.” If your position is “It hasn’t been abused yet,” I don’t think you’ve quite thought the problem through. In any case, the definition of abuse does seem germane to the discussion. Senator Rubio has told us his definition. We’ll look look at some others momentarily.

Second, since the government places gag orders on its “requests” for information, the claim that there is “no documented case,” is a Clinton-Truth and an insult to the rule of law. But, I repeat myself.

Senator Rubio may have neglected to finish his sentence and meant “not a single documented case the public needs to know about.” Or, maybe he meant there’s more than one. You’d have to ask Bill and Mrs. Bill to translate. You may then pause to wonder how Mrs. Bill might use the collected data were she elected POTUS.

The FBI sent out over 400,000 National Security Letters between 2003 and 2011. NSLs are warrantless demands for information and simultaneously prohibit the recipient from publicly discussing the order. For example.

There’s a lot of secretly documented abuse going on, supported by secret judicial opinions from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

The National Security Agency’s bulk collection of phone data was ruled illegal in May 2015 under the very legislation used to justify the program, and called “probably unconstitutional.” That’s documentation of general abuse under at least one definition of the word.

Unfortunately, that decision was not accompanied by an injunction to stop the bulk data collection. Even more unfortunately, a higher court reversed that ruling in August of 2015. That is why Congress had to act to eliminate the program.

Prior to those Court rulings the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board – set up to monitor the NSA, FBI et. el., – had found the government was abusing American’s civil rights and gaining essentially nothing. The PCLOB is an independent bipartisan agency within the executive branch established by the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007. It issued a report on January 23, 2014.

Third, then, according to the people charged with oversight the bulk data collection is unauthorized overreach and without discernible benefit:

From pages 10 and 11 of the Report on the Telephone Records Program Conducted under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and on the Operations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court:

There are four grounds upon which we find that the telephone records program fails to comply with Section 215. First, the telephone records acquired under the program have no connection to any specific FBI investigation at the time of their collection. Second, because the records are collected in bulk — potentially encompassing all telephone calling records across the nation — they cannot be regarded as “relevant” to any FBI investigation as required by the statute without redefining the word relevant in a manner that is circular, unlimited in scope, and out of step with the case law from analogous legal contexts involving the production of records. Third, the program operates by putting telephone companies under an obligation to furnish new calling records on a daily basis as they are generated (instead of turning over records already in their possession) — an approach lacking foundation in the statute and one that is inconsistent with FISA as a whole. Fourth, the statute permits only the FBI to obtain items for use in its investigations; it does not authorize the NSA to collect anything.

In addition, we conclude that the program violates the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. That statute prohibits telephone companies from sharing customer records with the government except in response to specific enumerated circumstances, which do not include Section 215 orders.

Finally, we do not agree that the program can be considered statutorily authorized because Congress twice delayed the expiration of Section 215 during the operation of the program without amending the statute. The “reenactment doctrine,” under which Congress is presumed to have adopted settled administrative or judicial interpretations of a statute, does not trump the plain meaning of a law, and cannot save an administrative or judicial interpretation that contradicts the statute itself. Moreover, the circumstances presented here differ in pivotal ways from any in which the reenactment doctrine has ever been applied, and applying the doctrine would undermine the public’s ability to know what the law is and hold their elected representatives accountable for their legislative choices…

The threat of terrorism faced today by the United States is real. The Section 215 telephone records program was intended as one tool to combat this threat — a tool that would help investigators piece together the networks of terrorist groups and the patterns of their communications with a speed and comprehensiveness not otherwise available. However, we conclude that the Section 215 program has shown minimal value in safeguarding the nation from terrorism. Based on the information provided to the Board, including classified briefings and documentation, we have not identified a single instance involving a threat to the United States in which the program made a concrete difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism investigation. Moreover, we are aware of no instance in which the program directly contributed to the discovery of a previously unknown terrorist plot or the disruption of a terrorist attack. And we believe that in only one instance over the past seven years has the program arguably contributed to the identification of an unknown terrorism suspect. Even in that case, the suspect was not involved in planning a terrorist attack and there is reason to believe that the FBI may have discovered him without the contribution of the NSA’s program.

The Board’s review suggests that where the telephone records collected by the NSA under its Section 215 program have provided value, they have done so primarily in two ways: by offering additional leads regarding the contacts of terrorism suspects already known to investigators, and by demonstrating that foreign terrorist plots do not have a U.S. nexus. The former can help investigators confirm suspicions about the target of an inquiry or about persons in contact with that target. The latter can help the intelligence community focus its limited investigatory resources by avoiding false leads and channeling efforts where they are needed most. But with respect to the former, our review suggests that the Section 215 program offers little unique value but largely duplicates the FBI’s own information gathering efforts. And with respect to the latter, while the value of proper resource allocation in time-sensitive situations is not to be discounted, we question whether the American public should accept the government’s routine collection of all of its telephone records because it helps in cases where there is no threat to the United States.

Further reading for those of most political persuasions:

Electronic Freedom Foundation
The NSA’s Call Record Program, a 9/11 Hijacker, and the Failure of Bulk Collection

House Judiciary Committee
H.R. 2048, THE USA FREEDOM ACT

National Rifle Association
USA FREEDOM Act Becomes Law, Enhances Privacy for Law-Abiding Americans

Jonathan Mayer, a computer scientist + lawyer at Stanford
MetaPhone: The Sensitivity of Telephone Metadata

ACLU
ACLU V. NSA – CHALLENGE TO WARRANTLESS WIRETAPPING

Senator Rubio says Senator Cruz voted to ‘weaken U.S. intelligence.’ I’d say Cruz voted to protect American liberty.

Speech impediments

Bosch Fawstin’s winning cartoon

The First Amendment is a staple topic of this blog. I highly recommend ‘reading the whole thing’ for all the following:

“Stay Quiet and You’ll Be Okay”
-Mark Steyn

The Washington Post offered the celebrated headline “Event Organizer Offers No Apology After Thwarted Attack In Texas”, while the Associated Press went with “Pamela Geller says she has no regrets about Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest that ended in 2 deaths”. The media “narrative” of the last week is that some Zionist temptress was walking down the street in Garland in a too short skirt and hoisted it to reveal her Mohammed thong – oops, my apologies, her Prophet Mohammed thong (PBUH) – and thereby inflamed two otherwise law-abiding ISIS supporters peacefully minding their own business.

It’ll be a long time before you see “Washington Post Offers No Apology for Attacking Target of Thwarted Attack” or “AP Says It Has No Regrets After Blaming The Victim”. The respectable class in the American media share the same goal as the Islamic fanatics: They want to silence Pam Geller. To be sure, they have a mild disagreement about the means to that end – although even then you get the feeling, as with Garry Trudeau and those dozens of PEN novelists’ reaction to Charlie Hebdo, that the “narrative” wouldn’t change very much if the jihad boys had got luckier and Pam, Geert Wilders, Robert Spencer and a dozen others were all piled up in the Garland morgue…

“Stay quiet and you’ll be okay:” Those were Mohammed Atta’s words to his passengers on 9/11. And they’re what all the nice respectable types are telling us now.

The First — and a Half — Amendment
-Victor Davis Hanson

If a Christian cake decorator does not wish to use his skills to celebrate gay marriage — an innovation that both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama opposed until very recently — on a wedding cake, then he is rendered a homophobe who must be punished for not using his artistic talents in the correct way.Note that we are not talking about nondiscrimination concerning fundamental civil rights such as voting, finding housing, using public facilities, or purchasing standard merchandise. Meanwhile, are we really prepared to force gay bakers to decorate Christian wedding cakes with slogans that they find offensive or homophobic? Or to insist that an Orthodox Jewish baker must prepare a cake for a Palestinian wedding featuring a map of the Middle East without Israel? Or to require a black-owned catering company to cook ribs for a KKK group? Instead, radical gays demand the exclusive right to force an artist — and a cake decorator is an artist of sorts — to express himself in ways that they deem correct.

Without free speech, the United States becomes just another two-bit society of sycophants, opportunists, and toadies who warp expression for their own careerist and political agendas. How odd that we of the 21st century lack the vision and courage of our 18th-century Founders, who warned us of exactly what we are now becoming.

How Liberals Ruined College
-Kirsten Powers

The belief that free speech rights don’t include the right to speak offensively is now firmly entrenched on campuses and enforced by repressive speech or harassment codes. Campus censors don’t generally riot in response to presumptively offensive speech, but they do steal newspapers containing articles they don’t like, vandalize displays they find offensive, and disrupt speeches they’d rather not hear. They insist that hate speech isn’t free speech and that people who indulge in it should be punished. No one should be surprised when a professor at an elite university calls for the arrest of ‘Sam Bacile’ [who made the YouTube video The Innocence of Muslims] while simultaneously claiming to value the First Amendment…”On today’s campuses, left-leaning administrators, professors, and students are working overtime in their campaign of silencing dissent, and their unofficial tactics of ostracizing, smearing, and humiliation are highly effective. But what is even more chilling—and more far reaching—is the official power they abuse to ensure the silencing of views they don’t like. They’ve invented a labyrinth of anti-free speech tools that include “speech codes,” “free speech zones,” censorship, investigations by campus “diversity and tolerance offices,” and denial of due process. They craft “anti-harassment policies” and “anti-violence policies” that are speech codes in disguise.

Sadly, it hardly ends there. These excerpts touch only three of the more egregious offenders. Other enemies of the First Amendment are left unmentioned. For example, radical feminists, CAGW ‘settled science’ zombies and the IRS.

The establishment of secular State religion

See, your mistake was your naive presumption of goodwill on the part of the SJWs:

I apologize for thinking this was about only equal treatment under the law. I apologize for dismissing conservatives’ fears that this slippery slope would lead to de facto banishment from various sectors of the public square.

I thought people just wanted to be left alone. I was wrong.

For many, they wanted forced conversions.

Bonus at the link: Notes on a essay on dissent by Vaclav Havel.

Free exercise thereof

Some balanced discussion on Religious Freedom Restoration laws from The Cato Institute:

Why isn’t the 1st Amendment enough to protect freedom of religion and freedom of association without specific laws?
Religious Freedom and Discrimination
Roger Pilon 11 minutes

What is “legitimate government interest?”
Religious Liberty and Its Detractors
Mollie Hemingway 9 minutes