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Commentary :: Human Rights
Is It Only Spy Powers The Justice Dept. Wants or the Lock Down Of A Nation?
01 Feb 2011
It is foreseeable should (no warrant electronic surveillance) be approved; police will relentlessly sift through businesses and Citizens’ (permanently retained Internet data), e.g., emails to allege a crime or violation.
The U.S. Justice Department’s—recently proposed forcing without warrants, all Electronic Communication Companies to retain permanently, user phone call records and Internet activity data. That would effectively trash the Fourth Amendment.

Government wants the power without a warrant, to introduce as evidence in criminal prosecutions and government civil trials, any phone call record or email. Alarmingly, that would open the door for Police to take out of context, any innocent—hastily written email, fax or phone call record to allege a crime or violation was committed to cause a person’s arrest, fines and or civil asset forfeiture of their property. There are more than 200 laws and violations that can subject property to government asset forfeiture: Government civil asset forfeiture requires only a civil preponderance of evidence for police to forfeit property, little more than hearsay.

If the Justice Department has its way, any information the FBI derives from e.g. no warrant electronic spying; (retention of Internet Activity e.g. emails and phone call communications), may also be used for fishing expeditions, issuing subpoenas to collect evidence against Americans to prosecute any alleged crime or violation, circumventing the Fourth Amendment. Consider: neither Congress nor the courts—determined what NSA electronic surveillance, perhaps illegal under Bush II, currently or in the future could be used by police, or introduced into court by a government agency to prosecute U.S. Citizens. If the Justice Department is permitted warranted surveillance of all electronic communications, it is problematic law enforcement and private government contractors will want access to telecom-NSA and other government (retained electronic records) of Internet activity; emails and phone call information to secure evidence to arrest Americans and or civilly forfeit their homes and businesses under Title 18USC and other laws. Of obvious concern, what happens to fair justice in America if police become dependent on “Asset Forfeiture” to help pay their salaries and budget operating costs?

The “Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000” (effectively eliminated) the “statue of limitations” for Government Civil Asset Forfeiture: the statute now runs five years from the date police allege they “learned” that an asset became subject to forfeiture. It is foreseeable should (no warrant electronic surveillance) be approved; police will relentlessly sift through businesses and Citizens’ (permanently retained Internet data), e.g., emails to allege a crime or violation. A corrupt U.S. Government, could use no warrant (retained Internet data and phone call information) to extort America’s biggest corporations and others in the same manner Hitler used his 1933 passed Discriminatory Decrees to force corporations and the wealthy to support totalitarian legislation—voiding the Constitutional Freedoms of Citizens.

Under federal civil forfeiture laws, a person or business need not be charged with a crime for government to forfeit their property. Most U.S. Citizens, property and business owners that defend their assets against Government Civil Asset Forfeiture claim an “innocent owner defense.” This defense can become a (Catch 22) criminal prosecution trap for both guilty and innocent property owners. Any fresh denial of guilt made to government when questioned about committing a crime “even when you did not do the crime” may “involuntarily waive” your right to assert in your defense—the “Criminal Statute of Limitations” past for prosecution; any fresh denial of guilt even 30 years after a crime was committed may allow Government prosecutors to use old and new evidence, including information discovered during a Civil Asset Forfeiture Proceeding to launch a criminal prosecution. For that reason many innocent property and business owners are reluctant to defend their property and businesses against Government Civil Asset Forfeiture.

Re: waiving Criminal Statute of Limitations: see USC18, Sec.1001, James Brogan V. United States. N0.96-1579. U.S. See paragraph (6) at:
http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/96-1579.ZC1.html

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