Periscope Depth

warrants in every city except houston

Sorry I’m late.

Disseminating this video counts as my one good deed this week: Regent University law professor James Duane explains why you should never, ever talk to the police. Even if you’re not guilty of the crime in question. Even if you’re not guilty of anything. Even if you’re smarter than them. And then a retired Virginia police officer gets up immediately afterward and says that yes, talking to the police can only increase your chances of going to jail.

[googlevideo=http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4097602514885833865&hl=en]

Brad Reed documents the ten most awesomely bad moments of the Bush Administration over on Alternet. I quibble with some of the entries – Bush’s negative campaign in the 2004 election makes the cut; the Military Commissions Act does not? – but overall I recommend the list highly. Link heavy and light on the sarcasm.

In February 2003, Powell gave a presentation before the U.N. Security Council that was instrumental in convincing both the American public and large swaths of the international community that Saddam Hussein had large stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction that posed an immediate threat to global security. During his speech, Powell told scary tales of mobile biological weapons labs, chemical weapons stockpiles and aluminum tubes that could be used in a nuclear weapons program. All of these claims turned out not only to be wrong, but based on sourcing that even Powell acknowledged was “deliberately misleading” in some cases.

In the interest of equal time, I also link to Julian Sanchez’s masterful takedown of the Opposition Party’s capitulation [sic] on FISA. Incisive and witty:

The award for the most bald-faced lie on the House floor Friday, however, goes to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who insisted that the bill “does not allow warrantless surveillance of Americans.” She is wrong. It does.

The broader spying powers given to the executive branch by the compromise bill require intelligence agencies to “target” foreigners. But if those foreign “targets” happen to call or e-mail Americans, those communications are fair game. And since the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is only permitted to review the broad targeting procedures government eavesdroppers use to determine that a target is abroad, and not the substantive basis for authorizing surveillance of any target, anyone is a potential target.

The bill, in other words, allows the government to conduct “vacuum cleaner” surveillance — sweeping up international traffic willy-nilly — then filter it for anything that looks interesting. Indeed, many believe that licensing such surveillance is precisely the point of this legislation. If so, “warrantless surveillance of Americans” could well become routine, whether or not they are the formal “targets” of eavesdropping.

To end on a sunnier note, you should check out Overthinking It this week for some new gems in the making. You can read my man Pete Fenzel’s analysis of what happens to Robert Mugabe now that Queen Elizabeth has stripped him of knighthood (loses Charisma bonus to saving throws, ability to lay on hands, divine mount). Or, you can catch the trailer for this summer’s hot new abortion drama / superhero thriller, The Spider House Rules:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQD7eC5wRSk]