Tsarnaev not guilty of federal charges?

by Jon Roland, Constitution Society

The Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been charged with multiple federal offenses, but none of them are authorized by the U.S. Constitution for offenses committed on state territory, as the acts in Boston were. If the federal courts were constitutionally compliant, they would be compelled to dismiss them all, and let the State of Massachusetts prosecute him under its laws.

The following is a summary of the main federal charges:

  1. Use of a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death and conspiracy.
  2. Bombing of a place of public use resulting in death and conspiracy.
  3. Malicious destruction of property resulting in death and conspiracy.
  4. Use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
  5. Use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence causing death.
  6. Carjacking resulting in serious bodily injury.
  7. Interference with commerce by threats or violence.
  8. Aiding and abetting.

Contrast this with the following, taken from the second of the unanimous Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, written by Thomas Jefferson, summarizing original understanding of the U.S. Constitution:

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Obama to Congress: Only I Can Amend ObamaCare

The individual mandate is ObamaCare’s least popular provision. Just 17 percent of Americans support it. Only 12 percent support letting it take effect while employers get a pass. When he unilaterally delayed the employer mandate, President Obama put House Democrats, and potentially Senate Democrats, in the position of having to cast their most unpopular pro-ObamaCare vote, ever. The attack ads practically write themselves. ”Congressman X voted against giving families the same breaks as big business.”

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NSA Doublespeak, Federal Crimes and Punishment

The oath of office for any federal employee (excepting the President) reads as follows:

“I, AB, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

With this in mind, I have a hard time figuring out what part of this oath the NSA leaker violated…  Bob Schiefer from CBS news appears to think Snowden  should give himself up, and start making himself comfortable in the generous accommodations that are available in American Cuba…

I’m sure that is something Snowden is considering, yet Maybe Mr. Schiefer’s argument needs a little more consideration to be sure that justice would be accomplished with this approach.  Lets consider a few things:

1.       Which part of Snowden’s oath was violated?

The Federal oath begins “I, AB, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

Are there foreign enemies of the Constitution that were empowered by the disclosure of the fact that the Federal govt. was collecting most of the phone data from virtually every American ?  Possibly, but I think they already had an understanding that this was happening.  Were there Domestic enemies who would benefit from the release of the same information?  On the contrary, Domestic enemies who were violating the Constitution were exposed as a consequence of Snowden’s actions.

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Breakdown in Americans’ Respect for the Rule of Law?

Some commentators and compilers have sensed what they believe is a weakening of the rule of law in the United States.  I’ve documented an example in one state.

Conduct surrounding the George Zimmerman case provides additional cause for concern, including prejudicial comments by President Obama and rioting subsequent to acquittal.

To his credit, President Obama did express support for the verdict once it came in, although he inappropriately coupled it with promotion of his political agenda.

Adherence to the rule of law is critical to survival of a free society. This, in turn, requires adherence to five basic standards:

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Establishment Attacks Rand Paul on Support of Tenth Amendment, States’ Rights

A Yahoo News article released recently reads: Rand Paul’s Troubling Ties to Racists. The article uses the terms “Pro-confederate”, “neo-confederate” and touches on the Civil War. The source used in the Yahoo News article is from The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative online news source, which published an article slandering Paul as a radical because his aide (Jack Hunter) has long been a supporter and advocate of the Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution.

The Tenth Amendment reads: 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.

In layman’s terms, if it is not one of the powers delegated to the federal government by the US Constitution then the federal government has no business exercising power of such matters. In modern America where the federal government controls what kind of shower you can use, the type of light bulb you are allowed to light your house with and what kind of milk you decide to pour over your cereal in the morning it is no surprise that nullification is becoming a household word again.

Rand Paul

Paul is the first modern US Senator to use the term “nullification” in support of reining in the powers of the federal government when it comes to unconstitutional federal legislation. He first used this when President Obama attempted to issue executive orders on gun control.

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Delaying the Employer Mandate Requires Delaying All of Obamacare

by Michael Cannon, CATO Institute

The IRS has announced it will postpone the start date of Obamacare’s “employer mandate” from 2014 to 2015. Most of the reaction has focused on how this move is an implicit acknowledgement that Obamacare is harmful, cannot work, and will prove a liability for Democrats going into the November 2014 elections. The Washington Post called the decision a “fresh setback” and a “significant interruption” to the law’s implementation. John McDonough, a prominent supporter of the law, observes, “You’ve given the employer community a sense of confidence that maybe they can kill this. If I were an employer, I would smell blood in the water.” When a die-hard Obamacare supporter like Ezra Klein says the employer mandate should be repealed, clearly things are not going well.

While all of this is true, it misses the two most significant implications of this momentous development:

First, the IRS’s unilateral decision to delay the employer mandate is the latest indication that we do not live under a Rule of Law, but under a Rule of Rulers who write and rewrite laws at whim, without legitimate authority, and otherwise compel behavior to suit their ends. Congress gave neither the IRS nor the president any authority to delay the imposition of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate. In the section of the law creating that mandate, Congress included several provisions indicating the mandate will take effect in 2014. In case those provisions were not clear enough, Section 4980H further clarifies:

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FISA Court Colludes with NSA to Allow Unconstitutional Surveillance

Documents obtained by The Guardian (U.K.) reveal that the court that was ostensibly created to keep the federal domestic spy apparatus from invading the rights of Americans is actually routinely giving the National Security Agency (NSA) and others the go-ahead to use data “inadvertently” collected during unwarranted surveillance of American citizens.

The newspaper that broke the story of the NSA’s activities as revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden published on June 20 “two full documents submitted to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.” Both documents were signed by Attorney General Eric Holder and were issued in July 2009.

According to the article written by Glenn Greenwald and James Ball, the documents “detail the procedures the NSA is required to follow to target “non-US persons” under its foreign intelligence powers and what the agency does to minimize data collected on US citizens and residents in the course of that surveillance.”

Not surprisingly, neither the Fourth Amendment nor the freedoms against tyranny that it protects are honored by Holder or the other architects and construction crews erecting the surveillance state.

As Greenwald and Ball report, the leaked documents demonstrate that when the NSA is conducting surveillance under the pretense of monitoring foreign targets, any U.S. communication caught in the dragnet is “collected, retained and used.”

Using Section 215 of the Patriot Act as justification, the NSA is now known to monitor and seize the phone records of millions of Americans who are not now or ever have been suspected of any crime that would justify the issuing of a search warrant. This wholesale watching of the telephone activities of citizens was revealed by The Guardian a few weeks ago as part of Snowden’s release of information on his former employer.

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Judge Napolitano Slams FBI’s Mueller

On Studio B with Shepard Smith, Napolitano lambasted Mueller for testimony given before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday on the government’s surveillance of Americans’ phone and email communications, alleging that he’s “still singing the tune that Constitutional liberties can be subordinate to the government’s need to [find the bad people].”

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It’s not Edward Snowden who Betrayed Us

by Sheldon Richman, Future of Freedom Foundation

When you cut through the fog, the NSA controversy is about whether we should trust people with institutional power. Edward Snowden’s courageous exposure of massive secret surveillance separates those who say yes from those who say, “Hell no!”

The trusting attitude can be found among progressives and conservatives alike (with notable exceptions), and even some who have identified themselves as libertarians. Matt Miller, an occasional guest host on the progressive network MSNBC, left no doubt where he stands when he flippantly wrote in the Washington Post,

Do you empathize more with those who govern — and who in this case are charged with protecting us? Or has the history of abuse of power, and the special danger from such abuses in an age when privacy seems to be vanishing, leave you hailing any exposure of secret government methods as grounds for sainthood?…

Is there potential for abuse? Of course. An Internet-era J. Edgar Hoover is frightening to conjure. But what Snowden exposed was not some rogue government-inside-the-government conspiracy. It’s a program that’s legal, reviewed by Congress and subject to court oversight.

So it’s okay if the government monitors masses of innocent people as long as it’s reviewed by a clique of gagged members of Congress and a secret rubber-stamp “court.” That’s what I call trust in power. Frankly, it’s more alarming that the spying is legal rather than rogue. Michael Kinsley once said, “The scandal isn’t what’s illegal, the scandal is what’s legal.”

Miller’s progressive colleague Richard Cohen said much the same thing in much the same tone:

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Striking at the Root

Here in the northwest, there proliferates a climbing plant known to many people far and wide as Morning Glory.  Though there are different kinds of Morning Glory, they have in common creeping vines, and flowers that bloom at night, or through the early morning.The flowers can be quite lovely, and because they climb so nicely, are often used to cover patio trellises and fencing. The same vines that creep up, also creep out in a vast ground cover.

Unfortunately, all that flowers does not a happy gardener make. Morning Glory is highly invasive with a complicated root system that makes it very difficult to get rid of. “Very,” as in, I am pretty sure the cockroaches will be vacationing in it post nuclear fallout.

Every broken piece of Morning Glory will root and form it’s own plant. It can’t be composted, but rather must be thrown away or burned. The rototiller and the hoe are only helping it to achieve world domination. Weedkiller will take care of it temporarily, but do you want to spray weedkiller in your vegetable garden? The only real way to take it on is to dig up the root system everywhere you can, cover up your garden with black plastic all year (instead of growing anything) in order to burn it out with the sun, and/or just be prepared to be pulling it up constantly… for the rest of your life.

Sitting in my garden, pulling up Morning Glory, I was pondering the recent revelations in regard to the ever growing surveillance state. A local news station posed the question over Facebook of whether or not members of our community felt that Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower, deserved to be tried for treason. Some of the answers disturbed me, and the split was much more even than I would have hoped.

You see, quite many people still see the intelligence community as more interested in our freedom and protection than anything else. It hasn’t occurred to them that it’s power could be (and is being) abused. If it has occurred to them, they have quickly discarded it and gone back to life as usual. I think there are many reasons for this, and I am even willing to say that some of those reasons stem from a habit of looking on the bright side. Obviously there are many more negative reasons as well, but for the moment I am giving people the benefit of the doubt. They want to believe that our government has our best interests at heart. They are good people, their friends and family are good people, certainly the men and women working in our government are at heart, good people. But is this outlook naive? At best.

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