SOPA: A Bad Cop's Best Friend

from the doing-55-in-a-54-on-the-information-superhighway dept

In ever-increasing numbers, law enforcement is finding itself on the receiving end of the camera. Every low-end cellphone comes equipped with a still camera at the very least, and most have the ability to capture video. With a large percentage of the population equipped to document their interactions with law enforcement, hundreds of taped encounters have surfaced, most of them capturing policemen behaving badly.

Several law enforcement officials have turned a bad situation even worse, trying to suppress these recorded encounters by abusing wiretap laws or flat-out seizing recording equipment and destroying the evidence. Despite the knowledge that any interaction could be recorded, many members of the law enforcement community continue to abuse their power. Ken at Popehat gives a brief explanation why:
A certain segment of law enforcement has always viewed the use of force against citizens not as an ugly necessity in extreme circumstances but as a perquisite of the job. Those cops are not going to change their spots just because everyone's got an iPhone. So now we have pushback.

Cops arrest people for filming police conduct - whether it's out in public or from the photographer's own lawn. Cops profess not to recognize cameras and pretend they are potential weapons, sending the not-too-subtle message that pointing a camera might get your ass shot. When they think they can get away with it, they destroy cameras wholesale. Prosecutors back the cops up: they prosecute citizens for things like "wiretapping" or "disorderly conduct" when they record encounters with cops (even - or perhaps especially - angry and abusive cops), and they abuse governmental power in an effort to keep government-created recordings secret.
All this adds up to an impunity that grants those with power even more power. These recordings are often the only evidence a citizen can produce, should a situation turn ugly, and the only record of the event not directly under law enforcement control. Officials have found it way too easy to suppress, destroy or "misplace" damning footage captured by police cameras. It's much harder for them to do this with a citizen's recording, especially once it's made its way to the wide-open internet. But that won't stop them from trying. The times have changed, and so have the methods:
Did you think that the New Professionals would be content arresting photographers in the street? Hell, no. If we've gone digital, so have they. And they know how to work the system. Google reports:

"We received a request from a local law enforcement agency to remove YouTube videos of police brutality, which we did not remove. Separately, we received requests from a different local law enforcement agency for removal of videos allegedly defaming law enforcement officials. We did not comply with those requests, which we have categorized in this Report as defamation requests."
So, now law enforcement agencies are trying to clean up their image via some sort of DMCA bastardization. They certainly have no moral reason to be doing this and the legality of the action seems suspect. Obviously the normal intimidation factor is removed completely when delivered via e-form and Google has correctly decided to ignore these requests. But this isn't as far as it goes. Intimidation is very much still part of the plan, as evidenced by the other requests:
Note that Google records not just take-down demands (including categories for executive and police demands premised on "national security" and "criticism," among others), but demands for user identifying information.
I can't think of a single good reason why law enforcement would need identifying information of someone who posted a recording of police brutality, but I can think of several reasons why they shouldn't have it. But what if someone were to, I don't know, enact legislation that gave the government (including all of its various outlying entities) greater control over the internet? Ken spells it all out:
So: bear in mind, when you consider measures like SOPA, that giving the government increased power over internet posts and increased ability to seek out user information may not just impact talking about music and movies - it might impact our ability to talk about, and document, police misconduct. Think the police would never seek to abuse such power? Then you're a damned fool.
We already know that, if passed, SOPA will be abused to hell and back by the RIAA and MPAA. ICE has already shown that it's willing to abuse SOPA's granted powers even before SOPA is enacted. By writing this into law, the government is granting itself the power to remake the internet in its own image, stifling dissent and ridding its brand new toy of anything unflattering. The internet will no longer be an "information superhighway" but rather a series of tollbooths and checkpoints manned by those easily corrupted by power.


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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2012 @ 12:25am

    A video camera in every corner is a very powerful thing, dozens of them is just priceless.

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 12th, 2012 @ 1:24am

    There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.

    Are they that unfamiliar with 1984, V for Vendetta, and every other Dystopian future book, movie, radio serial?
    We are approaching a point where the average person needs to stand up now for everyone, or just enjoy the decline as they finally come for them too.

     

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    anonymous, Jan 12th, 2012 @ 1:37am

    basically, the 'US Police State' that is very nearly here, will be here. and the government keeps condemning China and similar countries? what a bunch of two-faced, double standards arse holes!

     

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    Another Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2012 @ 1:49am

    Re:

    The average person is already standing up for everyone. It is called the Occupy movements and the Take the Square movements, and others.

    I'd like to include anonymous in the list, but the meaning of the term is so illusive. I'm sure that anonymous is at least partly in the fight, though.

     

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    Another Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2012 @ 1:50am

    Re:

    It is already there in many places of the country.

     

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  6.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 12th, 2012 @ 2:13am

    Re: Re:

    There are still many people standing on the sidelines, more concerned with themselves than everyone.
    These are the people who were thrilled with the TSA being created and doing its thing, they lost a few supporters with each step but there are still those firmly wrapped in their privileged mindset of "I'm a good person they will never do it to me." The apologists who point out it makes perfect sense for TSA to feel up a child, because terrorists would think nothing of strapping a bomb to a child.

    The people who will vote for candidates who promise to remake the US in the Christian Image they wrongly think the country was founded with, and ignore everything else happening as long as they "win" the "important" battle for the soul of the country.

    Occupy are not average people, they are people who stood up and did something. The average american is still sitting on the couch wondering why these damn hippies are on the news. People who take action are not the norm, and people who continue in the face being cold, wet, peppersprayed, etc are not average.

    We need to wake people up, break through the blather the media is feeding them about Occupy being just a buncha slackers who want to have everyone elses money handed to them. But this is a country where there are still people convinced that Obama is a secret Muslim who is just waiting for the moment to turn us over to the secret cabal who will make us all be Muslim or be murdered.

    It would be nice if Anonymous could just drop the truth on everyone. All of the records from the **AA's, the emails, the dirty tricks, the outright lies and put them out there where they can no longer be ignored.
    I keep watching the horizon praying the Louise Boat will sail back from the Bermuda triangle with a cargo hold full of dirty secrets from the congresscritters.

    We need more than to accidentally a solution, we need many more an heros to speak out and take actions.

     

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    Richard (profile), Jan 12th, 2012 @ 2:47am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The people who will vote for candidates who promise to remake the US in the Christian Image they wrongly think the country was founded with, and ignore everything else happening as long as they "win" the "important" battle for the soul of the country.

    If "Christians" take this line then I'm sorry - they aren't Christians. The Bible has a verse for them - it is in Matthew Ch 7

    "21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

    22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

    23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. "

     

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    Frost (profile), Jan 12th, 2012 @ 3:26am

    Keep in mind that there is a storm coming.

    The fecal matter is about to impact the rotary air impeller in no uncertain terms in the relatively near future. The US is in too much debt to get out of it gracefully, and people are suffering in increasing amounts as the wealth imbalances get worse and their rights are taken from them.

    That, combined with the US clearly following the "10 step program" to outright fascism that every other democratic nation that converted to a fascist state did and you have the recipe for a serious storm. The state will need tools to clamp down - the NDAA is one such tool, as is PIPA and SOPA. One is direct control, the other information control.

    As Martin Luther King once said, we should never forget that everything Hitler once did in Germany was legal, and that helping jews was illegal. Right now, in the US, slapping a citizen in irons indefinitely and torturing him is also legal.

    Problem?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2012 @ 4:16am

    News of little note

    In yesterday's insignificant news:

    Bus Confrontation Caught on Video in Bellflower”, by Kim Baldonado, NBC Los Angeles, Wed, Jan 11, 2012

    A passenger shot the video on his cell phone
         . . . .
    "I couldn't believe it. He seen me taping. He looked up at the camera a few times, and [the sheriff's deputy] still hit her like that, and I can't believe he didn't try to diffuse the situation at all," Green said.
         . . . .
    Green claims the deputies then tried to intimidate him when he refused to hand over his cell phone.

    "[The sheriff's deputy] comes to me and says you can be under arrest if you don't give me that video," Green said.
         . . . .
    Why didn't Green want to hand over this video to the deputies involved?

    "I think they would try to cover it up. I think a lot of things get covered up and people need to come forward if they see something, report it because it can't be fixed unless it's brought to the public's attention," Green said.

     

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    joe c, Jan 12th, 2012 @ 4:59am

    The DOJ has urged a Federal Court judge to side with the plaintiff in Baltimore police taping case.

    The U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division has urged a federal court to side with a Howard County man in a lawsuit over his cellphone being seized by Baltimore police at the Preakness Stakes after he filmed officers making an arrest.

    The federal attorneys say the lawsuit "presents constitutional questions of great moment in this digital age." They asked U.S. District Judge Benson Everett Legg to rule that citizens have a right to record police officers and that officers who seize and destroy recordings without a warrant or due process are violating the Fourth and 14th amendments.

    In a November motion to dismiss the suit, the Police Department said the claims made by Sharp and his attorneys were moot because the department had voluntarily developed training protocols for officers and sergeants and emailed instructions to officers. It said there was "no reasonable expectation that the violations alleged by the plaintiff will reoccur."

    But the Justice Department said those measures were not sufficient.

    "At minimum, defendants should develop a comprehensive policy that specifically addresses individual's First Amendment right to observe and record officer conduct," attorneys wrote. "Morever, BPD should track allegations that an officer has interfered with a citizen's First Amendment right to observe and/or record the public performance of public duties."

    The Maryland attorney general's office later issued an opinion advising police agencies that people have a right to record officers and that most interactions between police and the public cannot be considered private.

    http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/breaking/bs-md-ci-aclu-doj-videotaping-20120111,0,76919 35.story

     

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    joe c, Jan 12th, 2012 @ 5:01am

    Boston police department admits arresting people for recording them with a cell phone was a mistake.

    The Boston Police Department has at last concluded that two of its officers made a mistake when they arrested a Boston man for recording the arrest of another man with his cell phone. In a letter to cell phone cinematographer Simon Glik, superintendent Kenneth Fong of the Boston PD's Bureau of Professional Standards said that the officers had shown "unreasonable judgment" by taking Glik into custody.

    Glik's battle with the Boston PD began in 2007, when he saw another man being arrested on Boston Common. After hearing a witness say, "You are hurting him, stop," Glik pulled out his cell phone to document the encounter. The police then arrested Glik for allegedly violating the state's wiretapping statute.

    As Glik now describes the event on his own website (he's a lawyer), "This arrest was a vindictive attempt by some unscrupulous cops to suppress citizens’ right to record, observe and comment on police actions."

    Glik was quickly released, and the charges against him were eventually dropped. Glik requested that the Boston PD then investigate the officers' actions, but the department concluded in 2008 that the officers had done nothing wrong.

    That may have inspired the Boston PD to re-open Glik's original complaint, and this time they reached a different conclusion. A department spokeswoman told the Boston Globe that the officers, John Cunniffee and Peter Savalis, now "face discipline ranging from an oral reprimand to suspension."

    "As far as I knew, my complaint was summarily dismissed," Glik told the Globe regarding his original complaint in 2008. "I was basically laughed out of the building. From what I understand, it takes filing a federal lawsuit in order for internal affairs to review a complaint."

    Glik's attorney, David Milton, says the fact that it took the department four years to admit its mistake "shows a lack of genuine concern for investigating misconduct by the Police Department."

    Milton told the Globe that Glik plans to press forward with his lawsuit against the officers, seeking financial compensation and "a public recognition that what he was doing was perfectly legal."

    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2012/01/boston-pd-admits-arrest-for-cell-phone-re cording-was-a-mistake.ars

     

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  12.  
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    abc gum, Jan 12th, 2012 @ 5:43am

    Re: The DOJ has urged a Federal Court judge to side with the plaintiff in Baltimore police taping case.

    "In a November motion to dismiss the suit, the Police Department said the claims made by Sharp and his attorneys were moot because the department had voluntarily developed training protocols for officers and sergeants and emailed instructions to officers. It said there was "no reasonable expectation that the violations alleged by the plaintiff will reoccur.""


    Heh - they are claiming high court here.
    If Joe Citizen were to break a law, would they be afforded the opportunity to simply read an email in lieu of jail? I doubt it, not in our for profit prison system. With zero tolerance, minimum sentencing and three strikes, the low court will not so nice to the peons.

     

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    abc gum, Jan 12th, 2012 @ 5:46am

    Re: Boston police department admits arresting people for recording them with a cell phone was a mistake.

    "Glik's attorney, David Milton, says the fact that it took the department four years to admit its mistake "shows a lack of genuine concern for investigating misconduct by the Police Department.""

    That's rather bad, but it could be worse ... I'm looking at you Texas.

     

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  14.  
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    gorehound (profile), Jan 12th, 2012 @ 5:50am

    Re:

    SOPA/PIPA should be the last straw we have to take in this Country.I will die for our Constitution and I will join any movement that stands up for what our Founding Fathers wanted.
    Thomas Jefferson is rolling in his grave right now !!!
    OCCUPY should be using the movement to put Candidates into Office so we can Vote out every one of these Corrupted human arses.

     

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    Liz (profile), Jan 12th, 2012 @ 6:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    That's not the verses they use to justify their drive towards a theocratic United States.

    This is:

    "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." —Genesis 1:28 (KJV)


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominionism

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2012 @ 6:42am

    Re: Re:Occupy running candidates

    Occupy will be running candidates in the next several years. It will take some time, but they will. See: http://http://www.the-99-declaration.org/ for all the details.
    Hopefully we can get this done, and take back our country.

     

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  17.  
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    I-Blz, Jan 12th, 2012 @ 7:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Those verses are Dominionist Justification, they're a word for professed "christians" who dont actually care a bit for what the Bible says. Reread the top Line of his comment.

     

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    I-Blz, Jan 12th, 2012 @ 7:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Crap. Those verses AREN'T...

     

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  19.  
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    Rekrul, Jan 12th, 2012 @ 7:27am

    Re: Re: Re:Occupy running candidates

    Occupy will be running candidates in the next several years. It will take some time, but they will. See: http://http://www.the-99-declaration.org/ for all the details.
    Hopefully we can get this done, and take back our country.


    More likely that they will be declared a terrorist organization and indefinitely detained.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2012 @ 8:19am

    So right

    You are so right, there is a tear in my eye.

     

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  21.  
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    Michael Langford, Jan 12th, 2012 @ 9:05am

    Its not a matter of elections.

    Its time to remove the entire system and start over. There is very very little chance that any election can fix this anymore. Time for it to be torn down and rebuilt.

     

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    MrWilson, Jan 12th, 2012 @ 9:06am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    And this is one of the many issues I have had with Christianity since I was brought up in a non-denominational protestant Christian family...

    So many Christians cherry pick verses without context. Much of what is quoted from the Old Testament only applied to the Jews and their forbears. Jesus was a new covenant, so much of the Old Testament teachings (like "thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" and not having sex with a woman while she's on her period) no longer apply. Heck, nobody sacrifices lambs anymore since Jesus was supposedly a replacement sacrifice, so why follow other deprecated aspects of the Old Testament?

    They also conveniently ignore verses like the notorious camel through the eye of the needle and pretend God wants them to be rich and greedy instead of giving all their wealth to the poor as Jesus commanded.

    They also ignore that the New Testament commands them to be not of the world or to follow the patterns of the world, but they keep messing in politics as if God commanded them to change the world by legislating morality. If they were trying to store up treasures in heaven, they would be serving others selflessly and not engaging in politics so much.

    A wealthy or politically-active Christian is a contradiction.

     

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    I-Blz, Jan 12th, 2012 @ 9:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I agree about everything, except that politically active christians are a contradiction. Why do you say that? I am a Christian, and because of that, I can't have a voice in politics? Explain, please.

     

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    Gwiz (profile), Jan 12th, 2012 @ 9:26am

    Re: Re: The DOJ has urged a Federal Court judge to side with the plaintiff in Baltimore police taping case.

    If Joe Citizen were to break a law, would they be afforded the opportunity to simply read an email in lieu of jail?

    Your Honor, I have filed a motion to dismiss these 1st degree murder charges against me since they are now moot because I have emailed myself instructions not to do such a thing again.....

     

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    MrWilson, Jan 12th, 2012 @ 9:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Politics are an inherently worldly activity, right up there with being wealthy and powerful. If you truly followed Christ, you wouldn't be caught up in trying to change the world with legislation. Christ didn't try to change the world by revolting against the Romans and setting up a theocratic kingdom of his own. He easily could have done so, but didn't. He told his disciples to preach the word and help the poor. He hung out with prostitutes and sick people, not corporate lobbyists and the pharisees who run highly political mega-churches.

    If Christians are to be political, they should inherently support welfare, be anti-war, and oppose greed and power-mongering. Things like gay marriage are definitely worldly issues with which they should not concern themselves.

     

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  26.  
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    Bergman (profile), Jan 12th, 2012 @ 9:35am

    Re:

    The easiest way to enslave anyone is to tell him he's free so often he believes it.

     

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  27.  
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    Michael Long (profile), Jan 12th, 2012 @ 11:26am

    "I can't think of a single good reason why law enforcement would need identifying information of someone who posted a recording of police brutality..."

    Umm... as a witness?

     

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    nasch (profile), Jan 12th, 2012 @ 11:29am

    Every?

    Every low-end cellphone comes equipped with a still camera at the very least, and most have the ability to capture video.

    No they don't. For example:

    http://asia.cnet.com/phones-without-cameras-39292135.htm

     

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    btr1701 (profile), Jan 12th, 2012 @ 12:00pm

    Evidence

    > I can't think of a single good reason why
    > law enforcement would need identifying
    > information of someone who posted a recording
    > of police brutality, but I can think of several
    > reasons why they shouldn't have it

    It's legitimate to need to know the author of video evidence if it's going to be used at trial. The rules of evidence require that the person who created a photograph or a video be able to testify to its authenticity in order for it to be admissible.

    So if the DA is either prosecuting the cop for misconduct or someone else whose crime was also caught on the video of the incident, he/she needs to be able to put the person who took the video on the stand, otherwise the video is inadmissible.

     

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    Nick Burns (profile), Jan 12th, 2012 @ 1:06pm

    So the whole "See Something. Say Something." campaign only works against other citizens, not those in authority. Got it.

     

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  31.  
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    V4V, Jan 12th, 2012 @ 4:09pm

    In Missouri, a bad cop's (such as "Trooper" B.D. Odle) best friends are his partners in crime (fellow troopers) in Troop G of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

     

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  32.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 12th, 2012 @ 6:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The question is if your faith is your reason to want to force your personal belief system onto everyone else, remaking the world in the mental image of what God wants.
    According to many "religious" people, who skipped over "Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged", I am an abomination. They have a preconceived notion about who I am, what I want, and how I will get it given to them by their leaders.
    And yet there are very religious people in my life who accept me for who I am, nothing more nothing less. My actions are how I am "judged" not some psychotic secret memo they claimed to intercept. We choose to not discuss religion because we have differing views, and as long as we aren't trying to force the other to conform to our own belief systems we get along just fine. I'm not forcing them to hang out with strippers next to the beer volcano, They aren't quoting bits and pieces cobbled together from their holy text to support the idea that I'm horrible.

    Your beliefs shape your decisions, everyone has that choice. It is when people of "faith" (not to be confused with real people of faith) decide their specific biblical interpretation needs to be made into the law of the land that the issues arise. More telling is when many of those people of "faith" are often caught violating the tenants of the religion they claim is core to them.

     

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  33.  
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    Spice 3:16, Jan 12th, 2012 @ 7:55pm

    "If thou wannabe my lover, thou shalt getteth with my friends." -Spice 3:16

     

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  34.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Jan 13th, 2012 @ 12:31am

    Re:

    Actually the video evidence is more evidential and less inclined to error than a human witness ever is. Ask any attorney and hte most unreliable evidence there is is ALWAYS from human witness's seeing something and then reporting on what they saw in their perspective.

    The only reason a court might want the creators identity is to prove probity (ownership) and this would be either given 'in camera' or under seal.

    The people (and that means the whole organisation) who are being investigated asking for the identifying information of the 'witness' is a recipe for disaster and unethical in the extreme since the witness's own testimony would then be contaminated by duress.

     

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  35.  
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    joe, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 6:10am

    Re: Check out the Oathkeepers

    You don't have to be a former veteran, police offier etc. anyone can join.

    Oath Keepers is a non-partisan association of currently serving military, veterans, peace officers, and firefighters who will fulfill the oath we swore to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, so help us God.

    Our oath is to the Constitution, not to the politicians, and we will not obey unconstitutional (and thus illegal) and immoral orders, such as orders to disarm the American people or to place them under martial law and deprive them of their ancient right to jury trial.

    We Oath Keepers have drawn a line in the sand. We will not “just follow orders.”

    Our motto is “Not on our watch!”

    If you, the American people, are forced to once again fight for your liberty in another American Revolution, you will not be alone. We will stand with you.

    There is at this time a debate within the ranks of the military regarding their oath. Some mistakenly believe they must follow any order the President issues. But you can rest assured that many others in the military do understand that their loyalty is to the Constitution, and understand what that means.

    The mission of Oath Keepers is to vastly increase their numbers. We are in a battle for the hearts and minds of our own troops. To win that battle, Oath Keepers will use written and video testimony of active duty military, veterans (especially combat vets), and peace officers to reach, teach, and inspire our brothers in arms in the military and police to fulfill their oaths and stand as guardians of the Republic.

    http://oathkeepers.org/oath/

     

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    joe, Jan 13th, 2012 @ 6:27am

    Two Apps. allow smart phone users the ability to store videos as they record them.

    QIK.com & socialcam.com allows smart phone users the ability to store videos while they're being recorded.

    "Before you finish recording, your Qik videos are already saved to your online Video Gallery, ready for safe-keeping or sharing. Save up to 25 videos! What could be easier than that?"

    http://socialcam.com/

    http://qik.com/

     

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    nasch (profile), Jan 13th, 2012 @ 6:33am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    More telling is when many of those people of "faith" are often caught violating the tenants of the religion they claim is core to them.

    That is true, that's even worse than when they violate its tenets. ;-)

     

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