Copyright 1997 Shelley Thomson; all rights reserved.
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[ All Issues of Biased Journalism | Main Scientology Page ]Biased Journalism Volume 3, issue 6 September 26, 1997
Six or seven months ago the TV show Sightings called me to see if I would make and fly a UFO for them, something I was noted for in my misspent youth. Eventually we settled on a date and a place, north of Los Angeles, but within day trip range for the camera crew. I had been looking for excuses to visit that part of the state for some time. By a lucky accident, Sightings picked Saturday, September 13, auditor's day.
I didn't mention Sightings when I posted on the net after the last and impressive Toronto picket reports that I was tired of my comatose local clams and would go to LA that weekend to find some lively ones.
The adventure started on Friday. Judge Whyte must have put RTC vs Erlich early instead of his usual just before lunch. So I missed the hearing but met Darlene Bright (San Jose scn agent) coming out of the courthouse. She didn't look very happy and was kind of evasive about what had happened when I asked her so either Judge Whyte ruled against them, or the ruling was delayed. I mentioned to her that I would try to get in a short picket that morning since I was in San Jose. She was not amused. I had something else to do first, so I showed up at the San Jose org about an hour later, I guess that would have put it 11 to 11:30 am.
Other than it being in a place where there is little foot traffic, the San Jose org is nearly ideal to picket. The walk is shaded with trees, and it was a pleasant day, warm but with a nice breeze. The org building is about 90 feet on a side and two stories tall. It has parking on all four sides. There is a plowed-over lot to the east of the org and a drop-in place for the homeless on the west side. The back of the org is up against the 880 freeway close to First St.
Ted Mayett had asked for a count of parking spaces, so I walked back through the plowed area to get a count of the ones in back. There are between 95 and a hundred parking spaces, and 25 cars in the lot that day--counting one which has not moved in months.
After about half an hour Darlene came out and wearily took two pictures and wrote down what I had on the sign. For variety I was using an old sign which read on one side:
Scientology vs the Net
Scientology is a Scam
and on the other:
What happened to Lisa McPherson?
To that I added:
Which was it Ron?
After a peevish remark or two about bigotry, Darlene tried to pump me about how I was going to get to LA by expressing concern that my car would not make it. I told her tracking me was the private investigator's problem, not hers. She said that scientology's PIs would not come clear up to the Bay area to start tracking me. I reminded her that according to an affidavit filed in Federal court (Tom Hogan's false bomb threat in the airport) they did just that before the Miscavige deposition back in May.
MikeSmith3 had left scientology wide open in the last post where he quoted one of my memetics articles (where do they get these people?). Because it took a while to generate an appropriate reply, I was later than I liked getting out of town. If any PIs were tailing me, I never saw them, in spite of considerable looking.
Interstate 5 is a dreadfully dull trip, and even worse at night. The high point was a hamburger and a coke at McDonald's. I was into LA before midnight. Won't say where I stayed (except the bed was comfortable) because I might want to use it again. Heh, my scientology escort/counter marchers tried to weasel it out of me the next day by making noises about me sleeping in my car.
My Heaven's Gate/Scientology/Both UFO Cults! sign had "What happened to Odhran Fortune? on the other side. Figuring Lisa was better known, I put new paper over the Fortune side and scrawled:
Did "Standard Tech" Kill Lisa McPherson?
And in smaller letters:
Wogs at Cause $360K for a bridge? Knights of Xenu/Xemu.
None of this would have caused a stir in San Jose, but I was expecting more action out of the headquarters clams. I was not to be disappointed. With the sign and a 150 copies of Roland's Xemu flyers I started off for Cedars. Cedars is several blocks to the east of 101 on Sunset.
I would have been there earlier (breakfast was but a sweet roll) but the directions I had were not clear and I wound up in Beverly Hills. Doubling back, I arrived about 9:30. Leaving my sign in the car, I made a one pass around the building with a disposable camera. I might as well put descriptions in this text about the photos.
The first one is the street sign on Sunset, "LRH Way," one of the few streets in the US named for a person who died as a fugitive from the law (at least from the IRS).
The area around the block-plus that scientology occupies is going through a transition from seedy slums to high rises. Kaiser (an old and very large Health Maintenance Organization) has a number of large buildings and parking structures to the west. Cedars itself was a hospital before scientology bought it. Just about every door in the building is the "main entrance" for some scientology front. Next time I will make a list.
I picked up an escort even without a sign. A scientology "chaplain" asked me who I was, and I told him I was scientology's worst nightmare (slight exaggeration). Photo 2 is the northern most door on the east side of the main building. The sign in Photo 3 is a little hard to make out. The escort wouldn't let me go on their property to photograph it, but way back in a service area the sign says "Sea Org Recruiting Office." Somehow it seemed appropriate. No rats I could see but I was too far back to check on the roaches.
Photo 4 of the main entrance to AOLA which is across LRH Way from Cedars. LRH Way is nicely done with red brick--be interesting to see how long it lasts. Brick streets break up quickly under heavy traffic and porous brick is nearly impossible to clean.
Photo 5 is the other LRH Way sign. I caught one of the security cameras in photo 6. This one is on the southeast corner of the main building.
After a single pass around the building, I got my sign out of my car. The content prompted an immediate complaint from the chaplain that I was causing chaos although he would not say what on the sign offended him. An enturbulated chaplain and I walked clockwise from the north side of the building around to the east side. There I picked up two more escorts. The two dudes in the photo 7 stayed with me most of the morning. Photo 8 is of their guy taking photos of me. This time they stayed well back and did not shove the camera in my face like the security guards did out at Hemet. The guy in the foreground is the "chaplain." 9 and 10 are closeups of the guys in 7. 11 is the "Auditor's Day" banner on the wall next to the main entrance. For being a major scientology holiday, they sure did not have much traffic of publics in or out--which is why I think the Internet has hurt them a lot more than we thought. I don't think I saw more than a hundred and fifty clams the entire time I was there.
After a walk around the whole block and two or three passes back and forth along the west side of the building (which seemed to have the most activity) a scientologist maybe in his 20s in a dark suit calmly walked straight up in front to me, grabbed my sign stick right under the cardboard and started spraying my sign with a can of red paint. To put it mildly I was startled. Fortunately, the stick on that sign is a short pool cue that was not about to break and I was able to get both hands on it while the attacker only had one. The attacker was a little taller than I am but lighter. I dragged him still spraying out onto the brick roadway (not wishing to get onto Cedars property during the incident) and kind of scraped him off on a parked car.
Once I broke his grip on the sign, he immediately ran away, going inside Cedars while I fumbled for my camera but failed to get a photo. The chaplain and my escorts did not seem surprised, and were clearly disappointed that the red paint did not do much of a job obscuring the words.
About 15 minutes later a guy in a red shirt tried it again with black paint. I ended that try the same way but even faster. It is interesting to see which words they went after. Xenu I expected, but they seemed just as upset at Lisa's name and the dollar figure for the "bridge" Hubbard sold them.
I was more together this time and got photos 12 and 13 of the black paint guy running away and inside. I didn't realize it at the time, but the big banner you can see in 13 was to keep people inside from seeing my sign. At one point later when I was going down to a market for some water, they marched that banner between me and Sunset. Of course, my pool cue sign stick let me hold my sign higher than the silly banner.
They picked a conflicting approach, at first not blocking my sign, but pointing me out with theirs which had big arrows and said "Criminal SP". Later they gave up and just did their best to block anyone from seeing my paint-spattered sign. The long stick I was using made this hard since I could get my sign up over theirs most of the time. There were a few honks and waves out on Sunset, but very non-scns travel LRH Way.
At this point (around ten thirty) Lisa Derrick came by. I got her to take photos 14, 15 and 16. I would like to know the name of the guy with the purple tie to the left of me in 15. He is a high up I think since he was the one later screaming in the white PI car. 15a is a blowup of his face. Photo 17 is a close up of the sprayed sign. After the altercations with paint, I commented that they were raising the ante, had they given thought to what that might release? I don't think they got it at all. But I sure would not be a bit surprised to see a lot more activity with Xen/mu and spray paint. Make it neat and literary though. There is a lot to be said for stencils.
Besides walking up and down on the east side of the building, I made one or two passes around the whole building, enturbulating the RPF slaves working on the grounds. It was _really hot_. I couldn't find the extra water I had stashed in the car, so Lisa offered to go pick up some from a store three blocks to the west of Cedars on Sunset. I walked slowly after her, giving out an occasional flyer and missed her at the store because she found a nearer place. The clams exhibited some really interesting disturbed behavior over Lisa and me missing contact, trying to goad me with the (untrue) claim that I had given money to Lisa and she had taken the dollar (shortly raised to five dollars) and run away from the picket in fear since there were only two of us. Of course, the clams had their noses rubbed in their stupidity when Lisa made it back.
On the way down to the store, my clam escort dropped off. When the three guys who were carrying the large banner got about two blocks from Cedars they started complaining about how silly it was for me to be picketing and them to be counter picketing that far from the org.
This may have implications for the December Clearwater picket. It is possible that a clam who starts feeling silly is on his way out. At the Clearwater picket last March, two scientologist followed me to a diner where I bought them lunch. I heard from one of them subsequently in email indicating that he had left scientology. Be interesting to see if any of the people who counter picketed me leave. If one of you happens to be reading this, I will not hold your actions and words against you. Scientology makes basically nice people into monsters, but you can recover.
After picking up some water at a convenience store I headed back toward Cedars on Sunset. My escort clams had mostly dropped off, but three of them, the two with signs and one other, picked me up again as I left the store. The one without a sign made an attempt to grab my Xemu flyers within the first block, but failed because I had a good grip on them, in spite of also holding a water bottle. I stopped to rearrange things with my back to a wall.
It was an interesting tableau. If two of them had not been carrying the big SP signs you would have assumed a mugging was in progress. At that point a street person came along and rescued me by being a witness. He let me walk next to his shopping basket keeping the clams away from the hand holding the Xemu flyers. While he did not want to get involved in the picket, he had a definite and low opinion of scientology.
Photo 18 is a view east along Sunset from about the location where my car was parked. Photo 19 is closer to the east corner of the block. Lisa can be seen over one of the escort signs. Photo 20 is looking at the north end of the Cedars building from the Sunset side of the parking lot.
It was getting close to 11:30 by the time I got back from the water run. Elliot Abelson arrived, you can see how he is decked out in one of the photos, and he wanted to know how long I would be there. He admitted that my being out there was making him rich since he was billing RTC by the hour, but he had other things he wanted to do on a Saturday.
The clams changed the escort method, using Auditor day posters instead of the more confusing SP signs, which people could mistake for them being on my side (and Lisa did at first). You can see one next to Elliot Abelson in photo 21. They later added balloons, which you can see in phono 23 (which must have been taken by Lisa) to try to screen my sign from being seen. This too may have implication for the Clearwater picket. Photo 21 is another picture of the big banner blocking the door. There is a good view of the "chaplain" on the left side of photo 24 if someone wants to put a name on him.
Photo 24 must have been taken close to my last pass north on LRH way. On the last pass, heading for my car, one of the clams (whom Lisa identifies as an Australian) came up behind me and grabbed maybe a hundred copies of the Xemu flyer, and sprinted for the main Cedars entrance. I chased him a short distance, but running with a sign isn't very efficient.
Elliot was embarrassed about his client's behavior and felt obliged to apologize, but he didn't offer to recover the flyers stolen from me. (I should have asked.) I wonder what the obligations are of a lawyer who observes misdemeanor or possibly felony acts in public by someone working for his client?
I made it known to Elliot that they had raised the ante in the whole world wide battle, and that people would now feel much less restrained in what they did to CoS, especially if it involved flyers and spray paint. Elliot looked very unhappy, but he did not saying anything.
It was time to leave. My appointment with the Sighting folks was in the early afternoon. Ableson and about six of the clams walked with me back to my car. There were more than a few hot words exchanged about the behavior of the clams, spraying my sign, stealing Xemu flyers, attempting to get me to walk on Cedars property by suggesting we cut through the parking lot, and attempting to frame me for stealing by offering me one of the auditor day posters. I tossed my sign in the back of my car and departed.
I turned right onto LRH Way and went around Cedars. When I got back to Sunset, I noticed that most of the clams had headed inside but the chaplain and Lisa were still out there talking to two female bike cops.
While Lisa was there to counter the lies I was sure the chaplain was telling the cops about me I was not about to leave under circumstances where it would look as if I were the party running away. So, instead of a left, I made a right, and parked a little beyond where I had started and walked back. You can see the cops in photos 25 and 26. Photo 26 was the last on the roll.
I gave one of the cops a Xemu leaflet, told her about a stack being stolen from me, and got the other one to take my name so there will be a record to cite next time someone pickets Cedars. The cops asked me to stay till they could get a supervisor to come by. More scientologists wondered across the parking lot to get involved. Elliot came back, looking unhappy. He wanted his Saturday. The cops really didn't want to get involved, but there are rules if someone takes a photo of them. The supervisor drove up, inquired if I have any problems with his officers. I assured him I do not. It was getting beyond the time I wanted to leave for the Sightings taping.
I went around Cedars again. Rather than go up the west side of Cedars I went an extra block to the west and made a left turn on Sunset at a light. I stopped at the first place which looks like I could get some more water (a service station) and two PI cars, a white one and a gray/green one pulled in behind me. They parked next to each other. Damn! I am out of film. I went back and knocked on the windows to show them I know who they are, got back in my car, made a U turn on Sunset and headed back to Cedars.
Elliot was still there talking to the cops. I stopped and bitched to him and the cops about the PIs, I told him I am through with scientology for the day and going somewhere the PIs are not likely to be welcome. Will he call them off? Or do I have to ditch this batch like the last one? Elliot was embarrassed again, says they hire the best lawyers (Ha!) <fweet> but the PIs they hire leave something to be desired--I was not supposed to even be aware of them. They are just assigned to follow me till I leave the area, but he won't say what the "area" is.
I told Elliot and the cops that I have lost scientology's PIs before and can do it again. I also mention the Scarff deposition where Scarff reports being told in Moxon's office to run Cyntha Kisser off the road and kill her. Elliot says he is sure that did not happen in Moxon's office. I didn't say it, but Scarff leaves something to be desired in reliability.
The cops were not particularly sympathetic. Being followed by PIs or worse comes with the territory if I am going to picket this particular cult. Elliot insists they must keep track of me till I leave the area because I am considered to be dangerous to them. It seems that I am at cause over Miscavige again.
So. The cult has to keep track of little ol' dangerous me if I am in the area. I can work with this, can they?
I laid out how I am going to deal with this to Elliot. I will find a phone, call and see if the UFO people (Sightings, I did not tell them who was taping my UFO launches) can put up with two cars full of scientologists and private investigators. If they can't, I will come back and picket Cedars all afternoon. Elliot is not happy, but the fees he will collect for staying there all afternoon soften the blow some. (Or perhaps he worries I will buzz Cedars with a UFO pulling a big Xemu banner if I go off to fly UFOs.)
I took off, around Cedars again with two PIs cars in tow looking for a place to make a call and get more water and another camera.
(If you want to follow the next part in detail pull up a map of east Hollywood on the net. Try sticking 5500 W Harold Way, Los Angeles, CA 90028 in the Yahoo map function. )
On Sunset at Western, a few block west of Cedars, I found myself stopped for a light next to an LA cop car. Remembering that you should always exploit an unexpected opportunity when being tailed, I hook a thumb back at the white car behind me and tell the two cops that I think guys in the car tailing me are private investigators, but they might be scientologists goons. The cops are interested. The light changes, they drop back and get behind the white car. I turn right at the next street onto St Andrews, the white car turns, the cops turn, and the blinking lights go on. The white car pulled over. The green/gray car is half a block back, but I know they will pass the cops and the white PI car at high speed when they catch up and be on my tail again.
I made the next right on Harold Way, and zipped back to Western. Luck was with me, no traffic. I made a dogleg turn, left, then right into Carlton Way. Half a block down Carlton, there is a place on the left where a house was ripped out, making a driveway into a big construction site (photo 27). (I was still out of film. The photos of the getaway route were made by mysterious means.)
I pulled in, and parked out of sight behind the wall you can see to the left of the utility pole. No cars come by, but I reflect that they might have seen me pull in. Even though it is Saturday, the gate left of the trailer in photo 28 into the main construction area was open, and inside offers better concealment. I drove though and stopped completely out of sight from Carlton.
Well! I seemed to have gotten clean away. There was a gate opening onto the next street, Hollywood, a major route parallel to Sunset. Out that gate and they will never see me again. You can get a long view of the gate in photo 29 and a look through the gate onto Hollywood in photo 30.
A construction worker who was changing out one of those multi gallon soda pop canisters can open it for me. Not only was there a way out, but there was a pay phone (photo 31) right next to where I was parked.
I rooted around a bit and located the directions out to the UFO shooting site and gave them a call. One of the people I am looking for was already out there. I asked if the scientologists and PIs can tag along to the UFO taping.
The producer said for me to bring them along, she will see if they can work them in. Scientology is, after all, a UFO cult, might fit right in.
Now I have to find the lost PIs. I don't need the other gate opened, thanks! I figured the best way to find the PIs is just to go back to Cedars and have Elliot call them. I headed back toward Cedars, making a right turn on Serano Ave.--and here they come. I bet they were happy to find me and will be less than happy to find out I was looking for them.
I pulled over and stopped near Sunset, walked back and rapped on the window. The older PI driving (obviously a long retired cop) calmly rolled down the window. The clam next to him (Purple tie from the picket) gibbered at me about how siccing the cops on them did not work (heh). I told them I called and it is ok for them to come to the UFO shoot, noticed they have a cell phone and asked them to call Elliot and let him know I will not be back today. Do they want directions? At this Purple Tie nearly goes nuts, screaming "Get out of here!" but the calm and sensible PI who wants the directions prevails.
So I went back to my car, got the directions and let him copy down the route to the UFO shoot. Purple Tie was agitated, but kept quiet. I wondered whether he calmed down enough to call Elliot so he could go home. Would it have been the RPF for him if I had given them the slip? While the PI is writing down the directions, I am looking at a document on the front seat about me coming to town and what to do when this calamity comes to pass. I can't tell exactly how many pages, 5-10 would be my guess. My fingers thetans were itching to grab it, but even though they ripped paper from me I let it pass. Maybe I will ask for it in the next lawsuit.
A few blocks away I stopped to pick up some more water and another camera. Then it was off to the UFO shoot, a two hour drive out Hollywood, 101, 405, 14, and Pear Blossom Highway. I only took one picture of the white car, and that through the rear view mirror. (photo 32)
Only one interesting incident on the way out. A really large green plastic box had fallen off a truck. I swerved around it, the white car behind me made a violent swerve to get around it. Since I was not actually in much of a hurry, I turned around, went back, and shoved the box off the road. It was fairly heavy. I opened it up and found it to be packed with clothing. There was a car registration or similar owner identifying slip of paper near the top. The tailing cars had come back with me and were parked across the roadway. I was wondering what if anything I should do with this box when a sheriff patrol car pulled up. The sheriff deputy wondered what all the cars were doing, especially since the gray/green one pulled out in a hurry, back toward LA. I guess they did this so that if I got the sheriff to detain the white car they would still have someone free to tail me.
I told the deputy I had just stopped to shove the big green box off the road, and that this slip of paper might lead to who it belonged to and that 1) I was going out to conduct a UFO launch for a TV show, so watch for one after sunset, and 2) the car across the road plus the one which just tore off were PIs working for the scientology UFO cult who were following me out to the UFO launch. The deputy was quite amused, and appreciative I had moved the box off the roadway before someone hit it. About this time the owner of the box came back, so the problem of what to do with it was solved.
Now that I think about it, the PI was the only one showing in the car. I wonder what happened to Purple Tie. Had he bailed out in LA, or was he huddled down on the floor biting the carpet?
A few miles further down the road was the house where I met the Sightings video crew. It was on a private road, so the PIs parked where they could watch the road in. The crew had an interview with some well known UFO dude who had driven out from the midwest. They set up on the bank of the nearby California Aqueduct to create an interesting backdrop for the interview. (Photo 33) After an hour or two of talking to the owner of the place and some of his friends who had come over to watch, and filling up/launching a test balloon to see how bad the wind was, I went looking for the clams and PIs. No luck, they had split. I guess that being in a UFO TV tabloid was not part of their game plan.
The TV taping crew broke down the setup on the aqueduct and started looking for a good place to tape an interview with me and the UFO launch. They found what I consider to be a rather sub optimal place because of too much wind on the top of a hill. Photos 34 and 35 are from that site. After a bit of an interview (which was mostly about nanotech and cryonics rather than UFOs) they taped me building a UFO (stapling up crepe paper) on the back of a car, and filling a gas bag.
Of course, I thought of the perfect answer to the question they asked of "Why do you do this?" about a day later. If nobody did UFO hoaxes, they wouldn't have any material for their show! We were hoping the wind would die down after sunset, but there was way too much wind on the top of the hill to launch. But by going down the hill a ways, we were able to find a low wind pocket. There I lit up the candles in the crepe paper bag and let it go into a sky which was nearly indigo in color with a few stars starting to show. I was too busy to get photos of the launch or the glowing ball in the sky, but the Sightings tape of my creation should air sometime in January.
The crew broke the equipment down and we went back to the host's house. The director and camera guy were really happy with what they got, and had another shoot early the next day, so they and the sound guy of them left rather than stick around. They missed a delicious steak dinner, with all the trimmings, including interesting tales around the table. I am far from the only person with a number of wild stories.
After dinner I had enough materials for two more lights and there was a lot of helium left in the tank. So we made a giant two light version which you can see in photos 38 and 39. We had a fair amount of problems with it, but we got it launched about 10 pm, giving the locals two UFOs "sightings" in one evening.
I looked for them on the way out, but no PIs showed up on my radar screen. I suppose they figured I would go back to San Jose that night.
[Fade to Black]
Three days later in the early afternoon on I was in Hemet (photo 40). The state highway department is working on a new bridge over the San Jacinto river and the route through Gold Base has been detoured (Photo 41) but is still open. The place still looked like a Nazi theme park. The clams were reroofing some of the buildings in anticipation of heavy rains this winter. (Photo 42). Some progress has been made on the big complex on the west end of Gold Base, but no workers were in sight. (Photo 43) Sadly I just don't have time to picket today.
Its late, I'm tired. RPF the lot of them, I'm going home.
--H. Keith Henson
P.S. Thanks to Lisa Derrick. Solo picketing has a few drawbacks, among them nobody to take pictures.
And thanks to Shelley Thomson for editing this. What you see is a major improvement over the first draft. Picketing doesn't take all that much time. Writing up and editing what happened is the big time sink.
Crypto-victory in Commerce; Oxley talks about nuking Congress Date: Wed, 24 Sep 1997 21:37:56 -0400 To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.comSo I'm sitting here in the lobbyist warren of the Capitol Grille on Pennsylvania Avenue getting sloshed on expensive beer -- and sick on the clouds of cigar smoke from industry representatives flush from their victory in the House Commerce committee earlier this evening.
And they do have cause to celebrate. A week ago, the outlook in Congress was dismal. The House Intelligence committee had approved (during a closed hearing) the first-ever domestic restrictions on what technologies Americans can use to protect their privacy. The House Commerce committee seemed certain to follow. Rep. Oxley, who was pushing the proposal, told me last week he had the votes sewn up.
The tide changed today when the Commerce committee overwhelmingly defeated Oxley's amendment. In a 35-16 vote, members rejected restrictions on manufacturing unapproved encryption devices and instead approved a modified version of Rep. Goodlatte's original Security and Freedom through Encryption (SAFE) bill.
The vote came after a last-minute press by a diverse coalition of industry groups, including some who had never weighed in on crypto before, including the automobile companies and the Baby Bells. (In fact, the Bells may have been the deciding factor in defeating the measure.)
The version of SAFE the Commerce committee approved includes: criminal penalties (doubled from the original) for the use of encryption in a crime, a prohibition on mandatory domestic key escrow, delinking certificate authorities from key escrow requirements, a "NET" center to coordinate law enforcement codebreaking, a classfied study to be conducted by the Attorney General, a NIST study on crypto, and liability limitations on firms providing key recovery. It also includes SAFE's original export relaxation on encryption products that are already available overseas or are in the public domain.
Many of those changes were proposed by Reps. Markey and White, who had their amendment approved 40-11. The amended bill was approved out of the committee by a 44-6 vote.
(One lobbyist just leaned over, martini in hand, and asked me, "Do you need a quote, Declan?" //sigh//)
Today's discussion before the committee was all about compromise -- which, after all, shouldn't be surprising. Washington politicians thrive on it. If politics is the art of the possible, compromise is its lifeblood. But to the chagrin of politicans, staffers, and bureaucrats alike, the politics of encryption doesn't provide one. Either you use backdoored crypto or you don't. Either you have unalloyed privacy or you don't. There's no middle ground.
Of course it's one thing to compromise on tax bills or spending measures. That's not only expected, it's necessary. But it's another thing entirely to compromise on a bill that deals with fundamental freedoms. How many newspapers is it acceptable for the government to review and censor before publication? How many Americans can be imprisoned without a public trial? Sometimes, including now, Americans should stand on principle and reject that any and all "compromises." A coalition of groups from the American Civil Liberties Union to the Eagle Forum sent out just that letter earlier today.
Those groups understand what high tech firms have been slow to realize: Congress will not, and cannot, approve a bill that benefits crypto-liberty. Right now there are no domestic controls on encryption. After Congress passes a bill, that will surely change. The crypto-in-a-crime provisions are destined to stay in. When crypto becomes omnipresent, Congress might just as well punish you for speaking Spanish in the commission of a crime.
(By now the lobbyists are drunk. One just leaned over, laughing excitedly, and yelled in my ear: "Cold fusion still doesn't work!" Huh? Whatever. Seriously, folks, I do not make this stuff up. Another fellow says the quote of the day is: "The FBI tried to take the country hostage.")
Anyway, today firms saw their arguments used against them. For years companies have testified before Congress that crypto was readily available at the corner software store. One Congressman recently even waved around a shrinkwrapped copy of Lotus Notes as a prop. At last the techno-impaired members of the House Commerce committee have realized that strong crypto was available through a point-and-click download (or for $19.95). But instead of allowing the //overseas// distribution of encryption, they instead came close to banning the //domestic// distribution.
By now even the more censorhappy members of Congress are sick and tired of hearing about pedophiles and child pornographers and molesters and such. Even the druglords-wielding-crypto claims pales after a while -- at least if you've heard it 17 times in the past few weeks. So today Rep. Oxley whipped out his trump card: if you don't vote for my amendment, you'll get blown up! "How about some terrorist orgainztion acting with impunity because they have the ability to communicate with impunity gets a hold of a Russian nuclear device and threatens to blow up the Capitol of the United States?"
In the end, Oxley's amendment didn't carry the day. It was of course almost entirely the successful lobbying -- and if firms can't win in the //Commerce// committee, where can they win? -- but to their credit, some Congressmen actually talked about the Constitutional issues involved. "This is about our liberty and how far we will go in protecting our liberties," said Rep. Rogan, a former prosecutor and judge who spoke against Oxley.
The future, however, is uncertain. The bill now goes to the House Rules committee, whose chairman said today in a strongly-worded letter that he'd only allow a bill to go to the floor if it included Oxley's amendment. Look for a hell of a lot of behind-the-scenes lobbying on this now...
Robbed By The Indianapolis Police!!!
Benjamin T. Moore, Jr.
Although this youth, whom I'll call Joe, has had several run-ins with the law, I have endeavored to hammer home the necessity for doing the right thing. I've told Joe time and again to tell the truth, be respectful to rightful authority, go back to school and get his high school diploma. At times I've seen positive improvement.
This latest situation begain when a vehicle in which Joe was riding was pulled over in a routine traffic stop one night several months ago. For those who live in middle class white communities, this may come as a surprise. However, those who live in lower income minority communities, will know what I am talking about. What happens is, after a certain hour of the night, the Indianapolis Police Department goes on "fishing expeditions" in the minority communities. Any vehicle with two or more youths in it is targeted and stopped. Under the aegis of fighting drugs and crime, Police officers look for anything that might give them probable cause to make a stop. A profile stop by any other name. If something so much as a light over the license plate is out, you will be pulled over, your vehicle will be searched and chances are, you will be searched as well. Everybody in the car will be ordered out and "run" to see if anybody has any outstanding warrants.
In the middle class white communities, *IF* you were stopped, the most you'd get would be a ticket or a warning. Only the driver and not the passengers would be spoken to. At the end of this foolishness, you'd be on your merry or not so merry way.
On this night, Joe, who doesn't have a car, needed a ride over to a friend's home. He accepted a ride with several friends who were going that way. As you might have guessed, their car was stopped and everyone was ordered out and to the curb. Everyone was searched, checked for warrants, and then the vehicle was searched. There were four people in the vehicle. Joe was sitting in the back seat. A handgun was found under the front seat. Because Joe had a previous record, the officers arbitrarily assigned the firearm to Joe. He was arrested and the $300.00 he had in his pocket were taken into evidence. What $300.00 is evidence of regarding a firearms charge is beyond me. Nevertheless it was taken and booked into evidence. This is a subtle distinction. Normally, had Joe been white, it would have just been considered ordinary property which could have been retrieved by either himself or a designee. It is also important to note, there were no drugs found, no evidence of drugs found and no drug related charges or allegations.
Joe was kept in jail for several months during which time depositions were obtained from the other occupants of the car. Eventually the gun charges were dropped. It might have had something to do with the fact that Joe's fingerprints were not on this gun and nobody in the car who had been with Joe that night had seen him with a gun. Add to this the fact that the vehicle didn't belong to Joe and he wasn't driving it, and one could make a case for false arrest and harassment. I don't wish to muddy waters already grown opaque by going into that.
After the charges were dropped, Joe's grandmother who had secured an attorney to represent Joe on her fixed and limited income, contacted the Indianapolis Police Department to retrieve Joe's property and specifically his $300.00 which was taken. When she got through to a live person who handles these arrangements she was first informed the money was evidence and could not be released. When Joe's grandmother pointed out that the charges had been dropped, this person checked her computer and verified this was indeed the case. She then informed Joe's grandmother the money couldn't be returned because several months had elapsed and Joe hadn't come in to retrieve it soon enough. Joe's grandmother pointed out, that Joe couldn't very well have come in to get it because he was locked up in the Marion County Jail. This person then said the money would be considered drug money and kept under the drug confiscation laws. Joe's grandmother pointed out, that no drug charges were filed and there were no allegations regarding drugs whatsoever. Like an evil Walter Cronkite this person told Joe's grandmother, "well that's the way it is," and ended the call.
What have we come to? I try to instruct my children and the children I mentor that stealing is wrong. To those youths who have run afoul of the law, who I'm trying to get back on the right path, what can I say? When those charged with enforcing the law, break the law, then there is no law! How can I tell Joe that stealing is wrong when the Indianapolis Police Department can stop you with no probable cause, single you out and assign a bogus charge to you, take your money, incarcerate you for months, drop the charges and keep your money? Is Joe the only person this has happened to? No he isn't. This happens all the time in the minority communities. How then do we as parents tell our children crime is wrong, when Law Enforcement Officers regularly break the law? How do we teach our children that violence is not the answer when Law Enforcement Officers regularly use violence merely to get the respect that comes from fear? Something has got to be done!!!
__B.T. Moore <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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