Category Archives: Uncategorized

Young Voices Advocate Radha Gordon Writes About Immigration for the Daily Caller

On September 11th Young Voices Advocate Radha Gordon got published in the Daily Caller, stating that “Young people understand amnesty is a right, and a benefit.”

On Monday Caroline May reported that the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers opposes amnesty because it will lead to greater numbers of people immigrating to the U.S., both documented and undocumented.

The story quotes NAFBPO chairman Zach Taylor extensively, who complains that immigration laws are not being enforced aggressively enough. Perhaps that’s because the web of laws and procedures surrounding legal immigration are arcane, unreasonable, and unworkable.

Read the rest here.

What Growing Up in Post-9/11 New York Taught Me

The years before 9/11 were most of my early childhood. Like most elementary school students I was concerned with things fairly trivial in nature and largely apathetic to the world around me. But ever since, I haven’t been able to ignore the police state that erected itself after that day. It was intended to protect the people who supported it, but it’s become clear that it has consequences for everyone. The current state of liberty is grim in New York, especially with a population more pre-occupied with their safety rather than their freedom, but it is even worse for the poor and weakest among us.

The morning began like every other, but eventually digressed into an odd set of events which I’ll never forget, even in my old age. We were walking towards lunch when I first looked at the televisions that day. There was a small television located in the janitor’s office, that they were all glued to, watching. I couldn’t make out what was happening, none of the children knew anything specific, nothing more than what the principal told us—“your parents might be late from work if they do so in New York City.”

Once home, things became clear as I had access to a television. However, I became largely disinterested in the media hysteria that was evolving around the event. Repeatedly seeing the planes crash into the towers became not so much disgusting as it just felt redundant and unnecessary. The news stations largely seized the opportunity to prey on everyone’s fears, speaking of a large-scale war against Afghanistan. The news became less about reporting the event, and more about hypothetical situations and contemplation on the event.

The subway stations filled with militarized police officers, covered in Kevlar and donning automatic rifles. The NYPD and government at large became more aggressive in all their efforts, constantly touting their future accomplishments in stopping future terrorists attacks, and applauded for such, despite the illegal methods employed to do so. The Patriot Act loosened many of the constitutional requirements required for search and seizures, and the state of New York has taken great advantage of it.

The right to privacy largely is illusory unless you’re part of a certain socio-economic class in New York, and even then can be revoked at any instance. Illegal use of search dogs has become commonplace to the point where most citizens are more amused by the dog itself rather than the illegality of the matter. The NYPD has become increasingly militarized in both their appearance and method of “protecting” the people. Yet it’s said constantly that we’re more safe today because of these measures.

Before the terrorists it was the Soviets, and countless military conflicts were endorsed and engaged to stop them. They were purportedly evil, disagreed with our lifestyle, and similarly to the pro-Al Qaeda leaders in the Middle East, committed human rights abuses on their people. We constantly overthrew or endorsed the ousting of these individuals, and in the case of the Mujahedeen, aided and abetted them against the Soviets. The Mujahedeen were led by Osama bin Laden, who would eventually use these same weapons against the United States in the decades following.

History often repeats itself, alluding to the fact that human nature does not change despite how many centuries pass. Until people are willing to realize the consequence of their actions, accept the fate that there are simply evil people in the world, and not tolerate being harassed by the police officers they employ, there is nothing short of a militarized police state waiting for everyone.

The morning after 9/11 we were confronted with school psychologists, long lectures, and, most disappointing, a very poor explanation of the events. “They hate us because we’re free,” they said constantly. Every day ended with patriotic music, and anyone who was seen not standing for the pledge of allegiance was threatened with detention.

Becoming more ignorant of the world was one end of the spectrum of reactions. Someone Pakistani was called a “terrorist” by my peers, leading many of the Sikh children to be wrongly discriminated against. Of course, children are expected to be children, and these things were not endorsed by the school administration. Despite the difference in age, the discrimination and manner in which it was carried were both the same, which speaks to the power of the state and propaganda.

The great threat to the future of liberty of New York, or my generation, is that there is little incentive to care for most people, especially the wealthier citizens. The general consensus is that it’s a minor inconvenience to many people to be searched, not be able to board an airplane without being scanned, and to have a military and government who endorses the policing of the world at large to protect its citizens while murdering countless people around the world.
Like the children in my school who became hateful and scared, this diminished freedom has been compounded by racist and prejudiced ideas spread over their airwaves and through the presses. The only “get out of jail free” card in the future will be the size of your checking account and buying the status of someone who isn’t a suspected terrorist. Sadly, most people can’t afford that.

If you’d like to speak with or book Taweh or any of our other Advocates, please contact Young Voices now.

DEA Agents Using “Administrative Subpoenas” To Get NSA-Level Data From AT&T

It recently came out that DEA agents have been using NSA data, collected via warrantless wiretaps under the auspices of national security, to investigate drug crimes. Now it’s come to light that the DEA has been for years dipping into an AT&T-run database far more extensive and intrusive than than any NSA program we know of, including PRISM and Boundless Informant.

The story fits into the ongoing news narrative about government surveillance overreach. In fact it goes further. While the NSA has come under fire for keeping the phone number, time and duration of all calls in the United States for up to five years, the DEA program Hemisphere collects all that, plus the locations of callers and has data going back 26 years.

Hemisphere gives the DEA unfettered, unprecedented access to Americans’ call records and has been purposefully kept top-secret. The process seems to be that DEA decides to target someone and they supply their target’s phone number to their AT&T employee and he or she looks back at everyone that person has called, where they were when they called and how long the call lasted, going back 26 years.

However, the real scandal is the way in which this data is collected: without warrants, through what the agency is calling “administrative subpoenas.” In other words, these warrants aren’t approved by a grand jury or a judge, but by the federal agency requesting them. The DEA is writing its own warrants to spy on Americans to gather evidence to make drug arrests.

Wired introduced the administrative subpoena last year, describing it thusly:

With a federal official’s signature… virtually all businesses are required to hand over sensitive data on individuals or corporations, as long as a government agent declares the information is relevant to an investigation. Via a wide range of laws, Congress has authorized the government to bypass the Fourth Amendment — the constitutional guard against unreasonable searches and seizures that requires a probable-cause warrant signed by a judge.

In the same article Lawrence Payne, a DEA spokesman, describes an administrative subpoena as having “Obviously, a much, much lower threshold than a search warrant.”

Why this information would be less protected than what is in someone’s home is a question which has not been answered by any of the dozens of federal agencies who now use administrative subpoenas.

As Catherine Crump pointed out for Salon:

Call-detail records are sensitive. Even analysis of a single call can reveal that someone has called a domestic violence or suicide hotline. More call data can be very telling about people’s social networks, as someone called frequently is more likely to be a close friend than someone called rarely. This is not the sort of information the government should access lightly, and certainly not without the supervision of a judge.

A search warrant cannot be issued without probable cause, or the search is considered unreasonable search and seizure. There seems to be no rational basis for excluding this kind of data from that kind of protection. Federal agencies have been asked why they can’t get traditional subpoenas or how often they’re issuing these subpoenas, to no avail.

Excluding data searches from Fourth Amendment scrutiny via administrative subpoenas also increases the chances of a wrongful conviction. Part of the utility of a normal subpoena is that the target then can inform the victim of the search. Administrative subpoenas gag companies like AT&T from telling victims about their surveillance, meaning they cannot fight back, challenge or investigate the evidence against them.

Brian Fallon, a Justice Department spokesman, attempted to justify the program, saying that it “simply streamlines the process of serving the subpoena to the phone company so law enforcement can quickly keep up with drug dealers when they switch phone numbers to try to avoid detection.”

The entire point of a subpoena is to provide a check against law enforcement agencies who would otherwise perform “unreasonable” searches of innocent citizens. Checks such as warrants and subpoenas are set up to be respected, not “streamlined” when they prove inconvenient for federal agents looking to bust drug offenders.