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ACLU: ‘Capability is driving policy’

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Law enforcement agencies’ efforts to conceal the kinds of mass surveillance tools available to them are anti-democratic and will draw a public backlash, an ACLU attorney argued in an essay this week.

The piece by ACLU staff attorney Catherine Crump argues that law enforcement policies at all levels, from the NSA to your local police department, are guided less by the moral calculus than by technical capability. If an act of surveillance or interdiction can be done, the rationale to do so tends to be developed later, she argues.

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“The limits of law enforcement surveillance are being determined by what is technologically possible, not what is wise or even lawful,” she said Friday in a paper published at ACLU.org. “And it’s not uncommon for the police to use a new technology in secret for as long as they can, and then allow the courts to sort out legality once the issue finally comes before them.”

Crump points toward automatic license plate readers, surveillance cameras mounted on unmanned drones, and the location history of your cell phone as examples of technology outstripping legal and ethical considerations.

Crump’s essay comes on the heels of last week’s conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, from which a significant public debate about the limits of technology in public safety has emerged. Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan noted that leaks of intelligence gathering methods by Edward Snowden, including about monitoring of U.S. phone records, threaten to erode existing authority to use high-tech equipment.

“The scrutiny that the NSA has come under filters down to us,” Keenan said.

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However, Philadelphia Police Chief Charles Ramsey also argued that police have to be willing to refrain from the use of some methods for surveillance, even though the methods are possible.


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White House finally issues response to macabre video showing Trump as mass shooter

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The White House press secretary issued a terse condemnation of a macabre online video depicting President Donald Trump gunning down media figures and Democratic rivals.

The video was shown at a conservative political event hosted at a Trump-owned hotel and attended by Donald Trump Jr. and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, whose successor as press secretary was forced to comment the morning after reports about the video began circulating online.

"Re: the video played over the weekend: The @POTUS @realDonaldTrump has not yet seen the video, he will see it shortly, but based upon everything he has heard, he strongly condemns this video," said Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary.

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Experts on middle-school bullies reveal secrets to beating Trump at his own game

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President Donald Trump is the most famous bully in the world, and some experts on middle-school bullies offered some advice to the Democratic candidates who might face him in next year's election.

Bullying peaks for most people between the ages of 12 and 14, when children become more self-conscious, and middle schoolers tend to compensate for their insecurity by siding with classmates with a higher social status, reported The New Yorker.

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2020 Election

Furious ex-White House official rains hell on Trump video of church slaughter: ’Mass shootings are not jokes!’

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A CNN panel was equally appalled and furious about a video that was shown at the conservative conference held at a hotel owned by Donald Trump that showed the president slaughtering church worshipers who rrepresented CNN, NPR, MSNBC and Black Lives Matter in the "Church of Fake News."

Speaking with hosts John Avlon and Alisyn Camerota, former President Bill Clinton communications director Joe Lockhart seemed visibly angry that it was shown at a conservative sanctioned event that featured Sarah Sanders and Don Trump Jr. as speakers.

Asked by Avlon, "Has there been anything remotly like this in American political history or something truly new and dangerous?"

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