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FBI Illegally Tapped Phone Phreaks In 1969 296

Posted by kdawson
from the nothing-new-under-the-sun dept.
xmedar writes "In his talks about the history of Apple, Woz has often recounted how the 1971 Esquire article 'Secrets of the Little Blue Box' set him on the road to phone phreaking. Now someone has obtained the FBI file of one of the phreaks, Joe Engressia (who later changed his name to Joybubbles), via Freedom of Information requests. The file reveals that Engressia was illegally wiretapped by the FBI and the phone company back in 1969. J. Edgar Hoover considered the blind college student a national security risk and wrote a memo about him to John Ehrlichman."
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FBI Illegally Tapped Phone Phreaks In 1969

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  • by AuMatar (183847) on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:10PM (#24011155)

    Claiming that illegal wiretapping must not be that bad if we've had it for 40 years without knowing.

  • Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:11PM (#24011159)
    Well I guess this proves it. Government's ideas of what is a "security risk" and illegal wiretapping happened before Bush.
  • by brxndxn (461473) on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:17PM (#24011217)

    The law works like this: If YOU break it, you BROKE it. If EVERYONE breaks it, it is BROKEN. If the GOVERNMENT breaks it, the government is BROKEN.

    Just because the law has been broken for a long time does not mean it should be ignored now. Fix the government..

    Start with voting against every single incumbent - except for the libertarian-leaning and third-party outsiders..

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:23PM (#24011263)
    The difference is that under the USA PATRIOT act, this could have been done legally, despite still being immoral and pointless.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:25PM (#24011289)

    In other words, except for YOUR guys eh? Sure, completely benevolent and not self serving advice there...

  • by zappepcs (820751) on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:30PM (#24011325) Journal

    Actually, you are right. Only those that want to shrink government give a damn about the constitution. The rest want to use things as they are. Both main parties have seen it as ok to break the law as long as they win. It IS time to stop this. Unfortunately, the populace is not informed enough to change things this election. God himself only knows what evil will seep out of the whitehouse in the next four years. "It's evil, don't touch it" as was once said. There are days when I think an unexpected Nuke in D.C. would not really be a bad thing. Of course I don't mean that, but you get the gist. sigh

  • by Lord Kano (13027) on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:36PM (#24011383) Homepage Journal

    You don't really have much of a leg to stand on.

    That level of ignorance is dangerous. In short, two wrongs don't make a right. If he was breaking the law, there is a procedure in place to deal with it. Investigate, go to a judge and get a warrant, go to a grand jury and indict. It was wrong then, and it's wrong now.

    As soon as they make "dangerous thoughts" illegal, some asshole will be saying the same thing about you when they are violating your rights.

    LK

  • by SpaceLifeForm (228190) on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:37PM (#24011393)
    The network was inherently hackable *by design*.

    Security by obscurity, it does not work.

  • by KozmoKramer (1117173) on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:49PM (#24011459)
    The FBI has got to be one of the most disliked agencies in America right now.





    But at least they have been consistent in violating American's privacy for the past half century.
  • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:51PM (#24011483) Journal

    The problem with government and large government is that it tends to feed itself upon the hard work of the populace, while not actually doing anything, claiming all the "good stuff" (we created 100k jobs last year ....) while denying any of the bad stuff.

    Hence the "Crisis" crisis (tm). Everything is a "crisis".

    Health Care ... CRISIS!
    Environment ... CRISIS!
    Energy/Oil ... CRISIS!
    Republicans ... CRISIS!
    Democrats ... CRISIS!
    Terroism ... CRISIS!
    Drugs ... CRISIS!
    Immigration ... CRISIS!

    Do I need to go on??? Every Crisis listed above (and all the others) somehow cry for government involvement as if government has solved any crisis.

    And all the reasonable solutions tend to be dismissed by those who are crying CRISIS!!!!! at every turn.

    The problem is, they don't have any good solutions besides "more government". More rules, More laws, more policy!

    NO MORE! All the rules and laws haven't solved a single problem, and many have caused more problems than they solved.

    Government is not the solution, it is the problem. Man barely (if at all) is able to rule himself, what make you think that some other man can rule you better than yourself????

  • Screw that, voting probably won't help.* Do what I'm doing:

    I never got around to finishing my bachelor's because, frankly, I was too busy working. Now I'm doing it. And once that's done, I'm going to law school. Once I have a few years of experience with the law, I'm running for office, and I'm going to do everything I can to fix what's wrong with our government.

    If every decent, respectable, person on Slashdot did the same thing, we could make some real changes in this country.

    *I say this because we're not guaranteed of getting the right kind of people in office, unless we are those people. Don't wait for someone to fix all the problems we have, start being a part of the solution.

  • by ScottFree2600 (929714) on Monday June 30, 2008 @11:47PM (#24011843)
    If it CAN be done, it WILL be done. Back then "being paranoid" was standard for Phreaks and considered a good thing. Honestly, I think that things are FAR WORSE now, then under Nixon. If they want to get your for something, they will. We've had enough examples of "the law be damned" over the past dozen years or so that it should be clear to all. The things that you have to fear are getting caught up in the "justice system" at all. You'll be facing incompetent, sometimes evil, always political and usually aggressive investigators, lawyers and judges. Anybody who's ever done work with or for an attorney knows that they are the most technophobic people you'll ever meet, and while this can work in your favor, most often it doesn't. This won't get fixed because they don't recognize a problem. Be very afraid!
  • No suprises there (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) on Monday June 30, 2008 @11:54PM (#24011893)

    Illegally taped phones are pretty minor compared to some of the other things they did back then. Google cointelpro, mk-ultra.

  • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Monday June 30, 2008 @11:57PM (#24011923)

    This just in, governments afraid of people thinking outside of the box and applying this to means the government does not approve. Film at 11.

    It's hardly news that governments, no matter of what time and day, are mostly absorbed with the will to retain power and don't really enjoy giving away any to its subjects. That's why most governments are actually so keen on retaining the "power monopoly", i.e. being the only ones able to tell what's "right" or "wrong". That's the business they're in.

  • You're absolutely right, every solution that our politicians are offering is just "more government", even though it's never been shown to solve anything.

    I was listening to some idiot on talk radio tonight, talking about how passing more laws would stop illegal aliens from coming into the country (never mind that they're already breaking one immigration law, why not two?) He seemed to think that requiring even more paperwork and proof of citizenship from new employees would accomplish something. I was struck by how far this country has come, when the concept of requiring huge amounts of papers to prove you have the right to a job is now a respectable enough position for people not to be shouted down over it instantly. Who in their right minds thinks that requiring (people claiming to be) citizens to produce evidence of their citizenship just to earn a living is a good thing?

    People need to stop thinking government has the answers. It barely even understands what the questions are.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @12:06AM (#24011967)

    For a long time, our laws were very ... "flexible". They were more like guidelines rather than exact definitions. Sure, there were things like "kill someone, go to jail 'til you die", but usually, laws required a judge to interpret them.

    The good thing about this was that people didn't look for loopholes. Flexible laws have none. When you're tried, you end up in front of a judge and those people COULD definitly see through your plot. When they smelled you trying to tiptoe around some legal definition, they'd whip out some obscure legal detour to jail you. At the same time, they let you off the hook when they noticed that, yes, you broke the law, but it was accidental.

    Our judges were actually quite good at sorting these things out. And behold, the jails were filled with crooks.

    This changed somewhere in the last 20 years. Now our laws are written down without much leeway to a judge. So now we have a lot of people in jail that didn't really do anything wrong but literally being in the wrong spot at the wrong time, while at the same time we have crooks ripping you off while dancing around the loopholes those rigid laws created, without a judge being able to do anything against it.

    Personally, I prefered the old version.

  • You're absolutely right, every solution that our politicians are offering is just "more government", even though it's never been shown to solve anything.

    An election is a job interview. When you elect a lawmaker, you are picking somebody for the profession of making laws. Naturally, if a person is good at that profession, he will make as many laws as possible. Every two, four, or six years, he has to re-interview for his job, so he wants to be able to get in front of people and explain what a good job he did making laws.

    Lawmakers offer "more government" because a careful (s)election process proved that the majority of people thought that person actually would be good at making more government. It's the whole point.

    Of course, if I ever run for office, I'll pledge to be incompetant at the job.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @12:21AM (#24012067) Homepage Journal

    Just because Bush is worse than Nixon doesn't mean Nixon wasn't really bad. He was.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @12:48AM (#24012207)

    Yeah but unfortunately the percentage of people who understand this is in the single digits at the most and this is why democracy sucks.

    Anyone who has studied history knows that the masses can be easily swayed and what that means for the rest of us...

  • by themushroom (197365) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @12:57AM (#24012239) Homepage

    Did anyone expect otherwise from the Nixon Administration? :)

    Funny... "illegal wiretapping" of an illegal activity on the phone wires. There's an irony in here somewhere.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:06AM (#24012283)

    Riiiiight.

    Fact of the matter is, every other politician started out with the same goals as you. But once you actually get into office, corruption will set in. You will find that lobbyists and special interest groups will be more influential than the voters, because they are both much easier to satisfy and you stand to receive much higher rewards as a result of choosing to cooperate. You will want to either continue the government's current state of affairs or expand upon it; to do otherwise would be a conflict of interest. To think that you are somehow immune from this when every other politician is not is just ridiculous. You are just as human and faulty as everyone else. The only question is how long it will take you to fall from your ideals and inevitably become what you were trying to fix and/or prevent in the first place.

  • by The FNP (1177715) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:11AM (#24012315)

    Ok, then how's about people start voting for leaders who will _lead_ rather than the guy they'd most like to have a beer with. I really don't want to hang out with the chief executive of my country, I'd rather he was busy doing his DAMN JOB!

    --The FNP

  • The Middle Way (Score:2, Insightful)

    by larryau (983008) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:16AM (#24012347)

    It is a bad idea that government should be whittled down to almost nothing, so much so that it would cease to function. The idea that the democrat wants to turn the USA into a communist country is just plain propaganda. It is fear mongering.

    The republican is just afraid that what they have might be taken away from them or be expected to play fair. And whatever tools are available are used to keep you in check. The republican is guilty of using the fear of socialism all the way to claiming it is a gods plan to push their agenda. It is ironic that many of the ideas that are spewed from these people end up being more socialist than what they accuse the other side of doing.

    I agree the state should not be responsible for everyone's does and don'ts, but a measure of reason is in order. The state should be "not too much government and not too little either". The middle way.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:20AM (#24012365)
    Funny, in American politics its the right wing conservatives that usually heil an "infallable" authority figure. The fictional hippy Fuhrer Jesus of Nazareath
  • by Tuoqui (1091447) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @01:27AM (#24012409) Journal

    Yeah its sorta like how if the police break into your home and find drugs but forget the warrant... Its illegal and because they used illegal methods to get the evidence they cant throw you in jail forever even if you have a monsterous drug lab supplying the entire country with .

    Same goes for wiretapping, if they dont get a warrant they cant use the evidence they obtain through that wiretap in a court of law which includes getting other warrants theoretically and even if they did once a lawyer dug up this they'd throw the case out.

  • by Tuoqui (1091447) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @02:06AM (#24012633) Journal

    Thats ok, in the post 9/11 world you just declare them enemy combatants and send them off to the Gitmo.

  • by bytesex (112972) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @02:49AM (#24012849) Homepage

    I think you'll find that, in your melancholy world of long ago, when men were men and real judges put real crooks behind bars, that blacks were arbitrarily lynched for perhaps looking at a white woman, and that people went to jail for ten years for stealing an apple. Legal trends come and go, and good judges live among the bad during all those times. What changes is the way the rest of society is perhaps better able to understand the process, and that other people make statistics around verdicts to see how we stack up. We aim to get better, that's the whole idea.

  • Re:8038's? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Newer Guy (520108) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @03:39AM (#24013115)
    I lived in Massachusetts and went to Lowell Tech. Institute (now U Mass Lowell). I was familiar with the Intersil 8038 design, but went with 555s configured as astables because their output frequency only depended on their R/C time constant and wasn't affected by the battery voltage changing as the 9 volt battery went dead like so many other designs (like the 8038) were. I used 10 turn trimpots to set the oscillator frequencies and found that they only needed to be set once. Someone I know was selling boxes in Boston and he was winding and tapping his own coils for LC oscillators. A few years ago while moving, I found one of his boxes in my cellar, but it would not emit tones any more. He had given it to me as a present. I was pretty much out of Phreaking by 1976/77. In 1979, a friend of mine made a similar BB out from the same design as mine. I warned him to never use it at home, because by then the telcos were using DEC PDP-1178s for billing computers-and using their excess capacity to scan for 2600 Hz tones coming FROM the subscriber side of the CO. Of course, he didn't listen-and they had him nabbed from his very first call! He got fined 500 bucks, had to turn in his BB and had to do 50 hours of community service. MF Pheaking wasn't the only form of telco hacking though. Test loops were also big-these were numbers installed by the telcos that they used as a loopback to test between exchanges, For example, they would be paired as xxx-9933 and xxx-9934. If you called into the 9933 side, you got a 1 kHz tone at 1 milliwatt level-until someone else called into the 9934 number. Then the tone would go away and the two lines would be connected together-a sort of underground party line. In my late teens/early '20s, I got laid so many times thanks to these loops! ;-) Many of these test lines all over North America were set up to not 'supervise' (trip the billing computer), so calling them was free (to the computer, it looked like you had sat on a ringing line for an hour, waiting for someone to answer). Some of these were modified by telco people so if you called into 9933, you got a dial tone that was 9934's. Then you could touch tone call any number you wanted-for free. There were more then a few telco people that moonlighted as Phreakers! Finally the other two color boxes were black and red. Black boxes allowed you to call their owner's phone number without being charged. Most used a neon bulb to seize the line when it rang, then blocked the DC connection that cause supervision to come on (the billing started 2 seconds after the called phone went off hook, so transient things would not be recorded as calls-the black box exploited this). The red box was simply an electronic quarter-it's single pushbutton beeped the five quick 2200 Hz tones that pay phones sent when a quarter was deposited. In theory, these stil work-though you now have to put at least one coin in first so the phone office can see the DC connection made by the coin. With pay phones turning into dinosaurs, this will soon also be gone. So there you have the whole story in a nutshell...
  • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @03:46AM (#24013143)

    The reasons for the fall of the GDR (and the east bloc in general) are many. Most of them having to do with the "west" being there. First of all, they couldn't keep up with the arms race. Basically, the arms race between east and west was an economy war. Who could waste more resources on weapons that weren't meant to be used?

    And second, the people in the GDR had a prime example of a better world. They could see that their peers in the west were better off, driving better cars, living better lives and generally have it better than they do. Such a display of a preferable way of living does make people unhappy.

    We lack such a "better" country today. We don't have a Federal Republic of Germany to compare ourselves too and see first of all how inapt our governments are and second, that there is a better way to live.

    That's sorely lacking.

  • by asuzuki (305049) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @03:46AM (#24013145)

    I never got around to finishing my bachelor's because, frankly, I was too busy working. Now I'm doing it. And once that's done, I'm going to law school. Once I have a few years of experience with the law, I'm running for office, and I'm going to do everything I can to fix what's wrong with our government.

    Many politicians start off with the same idealism like you are describing. Chances are that when you reach your goal, you will have been robbed of it. It's naive to think that you can stay true to your ideas and still become successful (i.e. appear appealing to as many voters as possible).

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @03:48AM (#24013155)

    What wrath? It's not like you can do anything to them once they're in office.

    And before they get in, they promise you the sky to get your vote. After that, the sky is everything you may keep after they're done stripping you.

  • by KDR_11k (778916) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @04:54AM (#24013387)

    That's like saying a good writer is one that writes a lot of text.

  • by KDR_11k (778916) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @04:59AM (#24013415)

    Is that the same social norm that makes people treat alledged "sex offenders" as subhumans no matter whether they were actually guilty or what they have really done?

    Just going by a gut feeling works in a simple society but as society grows in complexity you'll find more and more cases where that gut feeling is wrong and can cause horrible damage to others.

  • by eharvill (991859) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @05:31AM (#24013581)

    Personally, I'm still amazed that, in a nation so plentiful, owing so much of its good fortune to the diversity and quantity of people who just sort of showed up on a boat, so many people have a problem with free immigration.

    Absurd and ironic come to mind, but the word which I think best describes this blighted mindset is "disappointing."

    I don't mind immigration at all. The problem I have is that many refuse to learn the language, go through the proper steps to obtain a green card/citizenship and pay their taxes like the rest of us do.

    With that being said, it doesn't help that system to get the green card/citizenship is a royal PITA. But tens of thousands of immigrants manage to go through it successfully every year. I just hate wasting our government resources on the ones that don't. We all end up paying for it.

  • by Curtman (556920) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @05:34AM (#24013593)
    That's okay, they can just skip the court of law now and lock people up for years and years without a trial.
  • Of course not, he's dead. It's more like:

    He was like Bush. A crook that couldn't be trusted.

    And their rationale for breaking the laws, whether it's the FBI, Nixon, or Bush, is "It takes a crook to catch a crook ..."

    Though with Bush and his attacks on the Constitution, it needs to be updated to "It takes a terr'rist to catch a terr'rist."

  • by couchslug (175151) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @06:34AM (#24013839)

    "Just because Bush is worse than Nixon doesn't mean Nixon wasn't really bad. He was."

    I'll forgive Nixon for detente with China (vastly more important than any crimes his underlings committed, and we can't blame any POTUS for Hoover...) and getting us out of Viet Nam.

    Nixon was not nice, but he was shrewd and tough (with enough street cred to negotiate with Mao). I'd take him over Shrub any day.

  • by MindKata (957167) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @07:04AM (#24014011) Journal
    "10's of thousands of wiretaps"

    Given the way things are going, in a few years, its going to be 10's of millions of automated wiretaps, in every country regardless of political party. These wiretaps will then feed into automatic data formatting transcriptions of all data of whatever form (on phones and Internet) about anything that is said and done. Then the formatted transcriptions will feed into automatic profiling systems to work out overall types of views on subjects. Then anyone expressing any views of any political or other ideologically different opinions will be automatically placed on watch lists. Then anything the governments want to do, will be able to refer to the watch lists, to workout what sort of person they are dealing with.

    So any dealings with government will be biased by the watch lists. For example, try to set up a business and it turns out you were critical of the current government, ah sorry, no business grant for you. Try to ask for a grant to help with your house or anything else, ah sorry, no grant for you. But then, if you have don't nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry away. But the problem is, who defines what is wrong?

    People who seek power over others want the power to dictate the rules by how others live. That is power, but that underlying nature of power has always opposed democracy and freedom. (Power seekers don't want fairness, they after all, want to dictate the rules and have the power to dictate rules). But democracy cannot truly exist when the ones in power know the views of the voters. Its the principle of the secret vote, which prevents political manipulation of the voters to try to get them to vote in a certain ways. The more we move towards vast automated profiling, the more we undermined democracy, freedom and fairness.

    So a time of 10's of thousands of wiretaps is nothing compared with where we are going, especially as the 10s of thousands were mostly targeted against criminal gangs, whereas the 10s of millions will be mostly innocent of any crime. Then again, expressing any view different from the ones in power, is considered a crime by some people who want others to follow what they tell them.

    Researchers have already shown its possible to profile people from what they say. Its not long before we will have automated transcriptions of data into a form that's easy to profile. So give it a few years, almost everyone worldwide is going to be "wiretapped/watched" in everything they do. Where they drive, where they travel on buses, trains and planes. What they buy. What friends they have (phone and email records) and what views their friends have. What news papers they buy. What they say on the phone to everyone. What they say in emails. The news website articles they read. (Combined with the profiles of the people who write the news articles, which gives an automated measure of their views). They will also know what Internet streamed TV shows you watch, including any political documentaries, especially ones critical of the current government. They will know everything you like and dislike and it will be cataloged and listed and readily available of use in political campaigns.

    But that's just the beginning. Once you can profile individuals, you can extend that to profile groups of people. For example, profile the kinds of people working for a company. Workout what sort of views they hold. Workout if a company, is the sort of company the current government wants to help or wants to hold back?. That in turn will put pressure on employers to refer to the profile watch lists, to avoid employing anyone who could give their company a bad image to the current government.

    I don't see how democracy, freedom and fairness is going to survive in such a world?. But I suspect and fear the unfairness is going to build up to a point where it forces large numbers of people to stand up to their governments and we will be back to the bad old days of political revolutions, only this time, the watch lists will prevent anyone standing up to any government until things get really bad. So much for progress, democracy, freedom and fairness. All we seem to be doing, is repeating the mistakes of the past, but this time, automating the processes involved.
  • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @07:13AM (#24014077) Homepage

    "What wrath? It's not like you can do anything to them once they're in office."

    Lee Harvey Oswald would disagree with you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @07:57AM (#24014385)

    The difference is that under the USA PATRIOT act, this could have been done legally

    _IF_ the USA PATRIOT act is legal...

  • by kellyb9 (954229) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @07:58AM (#24014401)

    a) get a group of people who regularly go through the laws and remove the crap. b) have most of your laws expire after a certain time unless manually renewed - the lifespan is linked to how many legislators required to pass that sort of law. c) all of the above.

    Isn't that essentially the job of the Supreme Court? I like the second idea especially and would propose that the timeframe be 2 years to reflect the newly elected officials. I would also recommend that the laws could not be renewed until a month prior to their dismissal.

  • by Curtman (556920) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @08:03AM (#24014455)

    I guess you and whoever wasted a mod point on your post haven't been listening, but your "indefinite detention" screed is moot now.



    Moot? So the people who have been sitting in their cell for 5 years without trial are vindicated now, and justice has been restored? I don't think so. Do their family even know if they are alive or dead yet?

    Can they even afford to sue the government in U.S. courts? I can't. It wouldn't even matter if they could, the U.S. government lost several court cases involving softwood lumber from Canada, and they just completely ignored the ruling and went on imposing their tariff.

    Being given the right to sue the government is supposed to make up for this gross hypocrisy?

  • by Torvaun (1040898) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @08:26AM (#24014709)

    Got a citation for that? I'd call trying to keep the PATRIOT Act from getting pressed through the Senate mostly unreviewed a noble act.

  • FBI as criminals (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sjames (1099) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @09:15AM (#24015413) Homepage

    When the only distinguishing characteristics between a so-called law enforcement agency and a criminal enterprise is a government seal of approval and non-profit status (sometimes not even that apparently), it's time to disband it.

    The FBI has consistently demonstrated little regard for the law or the citizens it is charged with protecting. Much of that has been attributed to J.E. Hoover, but I can't imagine that he lead the organization so long without imprinting his casual disregard for the law and the Constitution on all levels of the organization. That would naturally include the promotion of agents who fit his mold.

    After Hoover's death, there did not appear to be the sort of massive re-organization that would be required to purge itself of such criminals in the guise of law enforcement.

    It's hardly surprising that decades later, the organization still demonstrates a casual disregard for the law more befitting organized crime.

    Given the problems that have been discovered within the organization including a crime lab that thinks voting is an acceptable scientific procedure, were it not for the pass that our courts routinely give law enforcement, I would think the FBI's testimony should carry negative credibility by now.

    While I'm aware that cops are people too and that we can't expect (nor would we necessarily want) Dudley Do-Right, I don't think respect for the law, the Constitution, and the citizens is too much to expect of law enforcement. A sense of proportion would be a good thing as well.

  • Re:Well... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by GregNorc (801858) <gregnorc.gmail@com> on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @09:22AM (#24015507)

    Counterpoint: Canada.

  • by TarPitt (217247) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @09:56AM (#24015965)

    Firearms allow you to challenge jack-booted thugs that are smashing down your front door to take you away to a concentration camp.

    This is how the second amendment keeps you free.

    The correlary of this is that as long as no jack booted thugs show up at your doorstep, you have nothing to worry about.

    If you can't defend against it with a firearm, then it can't really be a threat, right?

  • by MarkvW (1037596) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @11:08AM (#24017047)
    Thank you for the insane comment. If you have a firearm, the jack-booted thugs will have a machine gun. If you have a machine gun, the jack-booted thugs will have a grenade launcher. If you have a grenade launcher, the jack-booted thugs will call in an airstrike. While you can "challenge" the jack-booted thugs with your puny little firearm, you won't be able to stop them. It isn't your little gun, dummy, that protects you--it's the respect that we citizens give the Constitution. When that's gone, your puny little gun will be gone too. . .
  • Spirit of the 2nd (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EgoWumpus (638704) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @11:21AM (#24017255)

    The second amendment was put in for a very good reason; to grant the citizens the power to overthrow a corrupt government. However, as with a number of things in the Constitution, culture and technology has outpaced the implementation of that reason. Guns cannot currently overthrow the government.

    Rather, the government is propped up by two things; it's ability to arbitrarily hide information about what it's doing (severely weakening the idea of 'for, of and by the people'), and massive economic support of corporations who have insane control over people's lives, and who similarly have the power to hide what they're doing.

    In the modern age, one or ideally both of these things need to change to protect the individual, and thus the People. The easiest to change is the governmental ability to hide stuff. Any law that reduces the amount of oversight or government transparency is something that works directly against the best interest of the people.

    If I could have a single constitutional amendment, it would be forcing the government to have a balanced budget. If I could have a second, it would be 100% transparency, the torpedoes be damned. I don't care if the 'terrorists' know what we're doing, I think our country's better angels would prevail if we could see what was going on: simply because we could overthrow anything that worked against our interests - and that's the spirit of the 2nd anyway.

  • by Thuktun (221615) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @12:10PM (#24017961) Homepage Journal

    I know 'elite' is a bad word in politics. But the job you're applying for, if you get it and it goes well, they might carve your head into a mountain. If you don't actually think you're better than us, then what the f**k are you doing? In fact, not only do I want an elite president, I want someone who's embarrassingly superior to me, somebody who speaks 16 languages and sleeps two hours a night hanging upside down in a chamber they themselves designed.

    - Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, 4 April 2008

  • by afabbro (33948) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @03:41PM (#24021819) Homepage

    A firearm is pretty much useless against a tank rolling towards you, yet I'd consider that pretty threatening.

    Which, of course, is why we won in Viet Nam and the Soviets won in Afghanistan.

  • by Skjellifetti (561341) on Wednesday July 02, 2008 @02:52PM (#24035383) Journal
    ...and getting us out of Viet Nam.

    Yeah, 6 years and thousands of casualties later than he should have.

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