Category Archives: 4th Amendment

4th Amendment Civil Rights Congress DEA Marijuana Nullification Uncategorized

Rohrabacher Dresses Down Drug War

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danaIt is becoming increasingly obvious that the United States government’s war on drugs, and especially its war on marijuana, is being torn down by state and local governments choosing to move in a less punitive direction. But, drug warriors, in and out of government, are trying their best to keep the war going and the casualty count increasing. From Rep. John Flemming (R-LA) promoting misinformation about marijuana in the US House of Representatives to former “Drug Czars” William J. Bennett and John P. Walters writing nostalgically in the Boston Globe about the drug war that they assert “worked,” the drug warriors are refusing to just fade away.

In an insightful USA Today editorial “Bitter-end drug warriors do more damage than weed” published Friday, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) dresses down the drug war promoters, whom he terms “bitter-enders.” Rohrabacher devotes substantial attention in the editorial to criticizing marijuana prohibition in particular. Still, much of his critique extends to the entire war on drugs.

Fortunately, the “bitter enders” are losing their fight to perpetuate the war on drugs that, as suggested in Rohrabacher’s editorial, is most properly understood as a war on freedom, both in America and abroad.

Rohrabacher’s editorial begins as follows:

The end of the second prohibition era draws near. The disastrous consequences of the misbegotten “War on Drugs,” with its focus on marijuana, are now widely recognized. More humane approaches to drug use are being implemented as states ease restrictions.

But not if the bitter-enders prevail — as witness Gov. Chris Christie’s struggle with the issue in Wednesday night’s GOP debate.

President Nixon declared war on drugs in 1971, placing the counter-culture’s favored drug, marijuana, on Schedule I of controlled substances. Since then, countless lives have been ruined, not so much by the drug itself, but by the legal regime that followed.

Whereas it is true that less than 10 percent of pot arrests are designated felonies, recorded misdemeanors stay on offenders’ records. This especially damages minority and other young Americans seeking jobs. In the most serious cases, appallingly long sentences, counted in decades of imprisonment, disrupt sustainable employment and tear apart families.

Our criminal justice system has been corrupted and our foreign policy — as every Mexican president since Vicente Fox has complained, as well as other Latin American leaders — perverted, undermining our ability to conduct positive relations with our neighbors.

Inner-city violence and hostility to militarized police stem both directly and indirectly from the drug war. Beyond our borders, a wave of anti-American sentiment grows as an unintentional consequence of our global do-goodism.

Written by Adam Dick

4th Amendment Civil Rights Current Events Surveillance Uncategorized

The Latest Snowden Leak

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Consider the latest leak sourced to Edward Snowden frlead_largeom the perspective of his detractors. The National Security Agency’s defenders would have us believe that Snowden is a thief and a criminal at best, and perhaps a traitorous Russian spy. In their telling, the NSA carries out its mission lawfully, honorably, and without unduly compromising the privacy of innocents. For that reason, they regard Snowden’s actions as a wrongheaded slur campaign premised on lies and exaggerations.

But their narrative now contradicts itself. The Washington Post’s latest article drawing on Snowden’s leaked cache of documents includes files “described as useless by the analysts but nonetheless retained” that “tell stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes. The daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted are catalogued and recorded nevertheless.”

The article goes on to describe how exactly the privacy of these innocents was violated. The NSA collected “medical records sent from one family member to another, résumés from job hunters and academic transcripts of schoolchildren. In one photo, a young girl in religious dress beams at a camera outside a mosque. Scores of pictures show infants and toddlers in bathtubs, on swings, sprawled on their backs and kissed by their mothers. In some photos, men show off their physiques. In others, women model lingerie, leaning suggestively into a webcam …”

Have you ever emailed a photograph of your child in the bathtub, or yourself flexing for the camera or modeling lingerie? If so, it could be your photo in the Washington Post newsroom right now, where it may or may not be secure going forward. In one case, a woman whose private communications were collected by the NSA found herself contacted by a reporter who’d read her correspondence.

Snowden defenders see these leaked files as necessary to proving that the NSA does, in fact, massively violate the private lives of American citizens by collecting and storing content—not “just” metadata—when they communicate digitally. They’ll point out that Snowden turned these files over to journalists who promised to protect the privacy of affected individuals and followed through on that oath.

What about Snowden critics who defend the NSA? Ben Wittes questions the morality of the disclosure:

Snowden here did not leak programmatic information about government activity. He leaked many tens of thousands of personal communications of a type that, in government hands, are rightly subject to strict controls. They are subject to strict controls precisely so that the woman in lingerie, the kid beaming before a mosque, the men showing off their physiques, and the woman whose love letters have to be collected because her boyfriend is off looking to join the Taliban don’t have to pay an unnecessarily high privacy price. Yes, the Post has kept personal identifying details from the public, and that is laudable. But Snowden did not keep personal identifying details from the Post. He basically outed thousands of people—innocent and not—and left them to the tender mercies of journalists. This is itself a huge civil liberties violation.

The critique is plausible—but think of what it means.

I never thought I’d see this day: The founder of Lawfare has finally declared that a national-security-state employee perpetrated a huge civil-liberties violation! Remember this if he ever again claims that NSA critics can’t point to a single serious abuse at the agency. Wittes himself now says there’s been a serious abuse.

The same logic applies to Keith Alexander, James Clapper, Michael Hayden, Stewart Baker, Edward Lucas, John Schindler, and every other anti-Snowden NSA defender. So long as they insist that Snowden is a narcissistic criminal and possible traitor, they have no choice but to admit that the NSA collected and stored intimate photos, emails, and chats belonging to totally innocent Americans and safeguarded them so poorly that a ne’er-do-well could copy them onto thumb drives.

They have no choice but to admit that the NSA was so bad at judging who could be trusted with this sensitive data that a possible traitor could take it all to China and Russia. Yet these same people continue to insist that the NSA is deserving of our trust, that Americans should keep permitting it to collect and store massive amounts of sensitive data on innocents, and that adequate safeguards are in place to protect that data. To examine the entirety of their position is to see that it is farcical.

Here’s the reality.

The NSA collects and stores the full content of extremely sensitive photographs, emails, chat transcripts, and other documents belong to Americans, itself a violation of the Constitution—but even if you disagree that it’s illegal, there’s no disputing the fact that the NSA has been proven incapable of safeguarding that data. There is not the chance the data could leak at sometime in the future. It has already been taken and given to reporters. The necessary reform is clear. Unable to safeguard this sensitive data, the NSA shouldn’t be allowed to collect and store it.

Conor Friedersdorf

4th Amendment Civil Rights Current Events DEA Marijuana Uncategorized

War Veteran with PTSD Faces Prison

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KristofferLewandowskiUnder Oklahoma’s harsh marijuana prohibition laws, 100% disabled US Marine Corps veteran Kristoffer Lewandowski, who served three tours of duty overseas including stints in Iraq and Afghanistan, is reportedly facing up to life in prison for growing under an ounce of marijuana in his home in an effort to treat his PTSD and wean himself off of pharmaceutical drugs. His wife spoke exclusively to Truth in Media about their family’s ordeal. US Marine Corps combat veteran Kristoffer Lewandowski, who served in three tours of duty overseas including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, reportedly faces up to life in prison for pot charges connected to a June 2014 raid on his Geronimo, OK home that occurred after his wife and neighbors called police to get him help for a post-traumatic stress disorder flare-up. However, rather than providing mental health resources, police responding on the scene searched Lewandowski’s home for contraband and found six marijuana plants, weighing in at less than an ounce of plant matter in total, and charged him with, among other offenses, felony marijuana cultivation, which, under Oklahoma’s unusually-harsh marijuana laws, carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. Truth in Media obtained an exclusive interview with Kristoffer Lewandowski’s wife Whitney Lewandowski in an effort to get their family’s story on the record. Whitney Lewandowski said that her husband, a loving father to three children who was honorably medically discharged from the Marines and is 100% disabled due to severe post-traumatic stress disorder, was growing the marijuana for personal use, “He was just using it… He couldn’t get any, and, of course, we’re a military family, we’re very poor, we couldn’t afford to buy it anyway. So he was just growing it for himself. He was on his way out of the military and just wanted to see if it would help with [his mental health issues]. He was taking 13 pills a day, and it was just killing his liver. He was having all these issues with his body and he just wanted to try something more natural to just see if he could do without that many pills a day.” She called his medical marijuana treatments “absolutely effective.” On that day in June of 2014, Kristoffer Lewandowski had a PTSD episode and Whitney Lewandowski left and took their three children to their neighbors’ house to “diffuse the situation.” When their neighbors called police in an effort to get mental health help for the struggling war veteran, officers responded, searched the Lewandowski’s home, and began a drug investigation instead. Whitney Lewandowski said that she was initially handcuffed under investigation for the same charges, placed in a police car, and told that her children were going to be taken by Child Protective Services. However, authorities offered her the opportunity to remain free and keep their kids if she pressed charges against her husband for domestic violence. In an effort to keep the children, she agreed to do so and later discovered that she could not rescind those charges without re-activating the felony marijuana cultivation charges against herself. Police arrested Kristoffer Lewandowski and charged him with felony marijuana cultivation, possession of drug paraphernalia, and a domestic violence offense. Whitney Lewandowski noted that, though police were originally called to help Kristoffer, “the kind of help he got was being tossed in jail.” Whitney Lewandowski said that the domestic violence charge does not reflect the reality of her husband’s behavior, “They’re trying to use me as a victim and to make it look worse on his case. My husband has absolutely never laid his hands on me ever. He is not an abusive man, ever… quite the opposite. He is extremely doting.” She noted that, at the time of the raid, police included tomato plants that were also growing in Kristoffer Lewandowski’s home while weighing his personal-use cannabis which she said “made it look like he had this huge grow [operation] going” in media reports on his arrest. After the arrest, Whitney Lewandowski pulled together funds to pay a bail bondsman to cover his $20,000 bail and their family moved and continued their life in California, where Whitney has family ties. While in California, Kristoffer Lewandowski was prescribed medical marijuana to deal with his crippling post-traumatic stress disorder and began treatment legally.

By Barry Donegan