You say Police State, I say potato. Either way let's discuss surveillance and government overreach.

Malor wrote:
Bullsh*t. Provide examples of people killed, Gitmo-ized or secretly imprisoned solely for exercising their free speech rights.

Al-Alwaki. We know that the government determined he was a high priority target because he was an effective spokesperson.

Authorization to kill him wasn't sought until well after he started providing aid to and traveling with Al Qaeda members.

DSGamer wrote:
Reaper81 wrote:
Malor wrote:
Bullsh*t. Provide examples of people killed, Gitmo-ized or secretly imprisoned solely for exercising their free speech rights.

Al-Alwaki. We know that the government determined he was a high priority target because he was an effective spokesperson.

He was killed for engaging in terroristic activities. This is well-worn ground. You disagree and assert he was engaging in free speech. Next example?

So we're all okay with Thought Crime? So on to the next example?

Apparently you missed the whole "engaging in terroristic activities" part of that sentence? Or perhaps it wasn't convenient for your argument?

Al-Alwaki wasn't exactly sitting in his apartment at Berkley working on his infidel manifesto when he was killed.

DSGamer wrote:
Reaper81 wrote:
Malor wrote:
Bullsh*t. Provide examples of people killed, Gitmo-ized or secretly imprisoned solely for exercising their free speech rights.

Al-Alwaki. We know that the government determined he was a high priority target because he was an effective spokesperson.

He was killed for engaging in terroristic activities. This is well-worn ground. You disagree and assert he was engaging in free speech. Next example?

So we're all okay with Thought Crime? So on to the next example?

I had to google Thought Crime. I was only vaguely aware of the term's implication.

This is not, 'thought crime.'

Al-Alwaki committed actual criminal acts for which he was tried and found guilty of, in absentia, in Yemen where was living abroad advocating for the death of Americans and Westerners. His actions did not occur without context.

Robear wrote:
Edwin wrote:

I guess it's hard to tell sometimes.

That's just it - in a police state, it's *not* hard to tell.

When a relative visited Poland in the late 80's, he took courses there, toured the country, met people with very little monitoring from the government. People were friendly, the streets were safe. He met Solidarity members, and went to people's houses without a minder. Then, their national day rolled around. He was abducted off the streets by the secret police, put into a cell, interrogated for hours, accused of being a spy, and told he would be send to the Soviet Union. They kept him up all night.

The next day, a detective came in, apologized for the "mistake", hoped he would not blame the Polish people for it, and dropped him off were he was staying. Welcome to a police state, it's not hard to tell where you are.

Your anecdote works against your allegation. This relative had a wonderful time un a peaceful country until he personally was apprehended. If he had not had than happen to him personally he would have left thinking things were totes-awesome in Poland.

Reaper81 wrote:

I had to google Thought Crime. I was only vaguely aware of the term's implication.

This is not, 'thought crime.'

Al-Alwaki committed actual criminal acts for which he was tried and found guilty of, in absentia, in Yemen where was living abroad advocating for the death of Americans and Westerners. His actions did not occur without context.

But it wasn't the Yemen government that killed him.

Quintin_Stone wrote:
Reaper81 wrote:

I had to google Thought Crime. I was only vaguely aware of the term's implication.

This is not, 'thought crime.'

Al-Alwaki committed actual criminal acts for which he was tried and found guilty of, in absentia, in Yemen where was living abroad advocating for the death of Americans and Westerners. His actions did not occur without context.

But it wasn't the Yemen government that killed him.

Also, in a separate strike, they killed his 16-year-old son and his kid cousins.

Quintin_Stone wrote:
Reaper81 wrote:

I had to google Thought Crime. I was only vaguely aware of the term's implication.

This is not, 'thought crime.'

Al-Alwaki committed actual criminal acts for which he was tried and found guilty of, in absentia, in Yemen where was living abroad advocating for the death of Americans and Westerners. His actions did not occur without context.

But it wasn't the Yemen government that killed him.

Plus the order to kill him was issued in August of 2010, and the trial in Yemen didn't happen until November of 2010.
However, in July 2010 he was added to a list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists by the U.S. Treasury Department, and the United Nations Security Council listed him as a leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula involved in recruiting and training camps on the UN Security Council Resolution 1267 (a list of people associated with al-Qaeda). Despite all that though, there was no trial. The judge that dismissed his father's lawsuit to remove him from the targeted killing list said that al-Alwaki himself could file one, but at that point he was too busy calling for Muslims to kill Americans to be interested in using our legal system to get himself off the list.

Quintin_Stone wrote:
Reaper81 wrote:

I had to google Thought Crime. I was only vaguely aware of the term's implication.

This is not, 'thought crime.'

Al-Alwaki committed actual criminal acts for which he was tried and found guilty of, in absentia, in Yemen where was living abroad advocating for the death of Americans and Westerners. His actions did not occur without context.

But it wasn't the Yemen government that killed him.

That doesn't matter if what we're talking about here is whether he was killed for ThoughtCrime. If you want to make an argument that the Yemen court's conviction isn't good evidence that he committed actual criminal acts, then you can certainly make that argument. However, the fact that we killed him doesn't mean that we have to ignore anything but our own courts.

I think you guys are confusing two different arguments here: did he get sufficient due process, and did he actually do what he was killed for/were those things he was killed for actual criminal acts. If you just want to make a due process argument, then yeah, things like the one who killed him vs. the one who convicted him matter. However, if you're going to try and argue the substance and not the process, then all evidence is relevant, and if you don't think it's evidence, then you need to tell us why it's false, not just that it came from the wrong source.

It's one thing to argue that everyone deserves certain due process protections no matter what any of us think of their innocence because otherwise the whole guarantee of due process becomes meaningless. It's much different to argue that someone is actually innocent. Just because a counter-argument like yours is relevant to the former doesn't mean it's relevant to the latter.

Think about it: if a country did have a law against ThoughtCrime, due process wouldn't protect you from being convicted, it would just protect you from extrajudicial punishment. It would just mean you'd get a fair trial, but you could still wind up being punished for ThoughtCrime. On the flipside, just because the government went rouge and ignored your due process protections, that doesn't mean you didn't commit an actual crime.

tl;dr: the cornerstone of protecting due process is that it will sometimes allow the guilty to go free if the process of finding them guilty doesn't give them their, you know, due process. Lack of due process doesn't automatically mean lack of guilt.

Your anecdote works against your allegation. This relative had a wonderful time un a peaceful country until he personally was apprehended. If he had not had than happen to him personally he would have left thinking things were totes-awesome in Poland.

Not exactly. He knew the differences; people quietly told him about the informers, the secret police did monitor him, and among other things the media was completely controlled. Remember, too, that this was towards the *end* of the Polish Communist rule. Ten years earlier he could not have gotten in.

grobstein wrote:
Quintin_Stone wrote:
Reaper81 wrote:

I had to google Thought Crime. I was only vaguely aware of the term's implication.

This is not, 'thought crime.'

Al-Alwaki committed actual criminal acts for which he was tried and found guilty of, in absentia, in Yemen where was living abroad advocating for the death of Americans and Westerners. His actions did not occur without context.

But it wasn't the Yemen government that killed him.

Also, in a separate strike, they killed his 16-year-old son and his kid cousins.

They didn't do their homework. We couldn't allow them to live.

Making claims is easy to do. Back them up or back off the claims,

I haven't forgotten this, but I've been kind of under the weather for a few days, and I'll get to it soon.

No worries. I've been sick too, and expect to travel next week as well. I'm hoping to see you make the case. For reference, the current US population is 313,914,040 as of last July. It will be interesting to see the scale of whatever you find; in a police state, of course, the control and threats in daily life extend to the entire population, including the political elites (although sometimes to a lesser degree, but not usually - most regimes with that kind of control as a goal monitor the elites and purge them as well as the general population). You've made a start in arguing that we are all vulnerable to things like secret renditions and assassination, but the actual incidence of that falls far short of actually validating the claim, since the President has claimed a highly circumscribed power (which I nonetheless think should be curtailed, put into the black world and actively monitored by Congress, as with other critical intelligence functions. But our intel oversight is broken right now...). If you have other information I will be open to that, of course.

It would be helpful too to have a list of the things that make the US a police state, to compare to other polities. (I have a suspicion that there are no democracies that are *not* police states by your measure, which is fine, but I have argued that that would dilute the definition into meaninglessness.)

See? Preview of some counters. I appreciate your civility lately.

What, no one's talking about Tennessee's latest idiocy yet? Tsk, tsk.

You could argue that this is not particularly indicative of a "police state", whatever definition we settle on, but pulling someone over without justifiable cause is not a good thing.

Also, we needed a laugh about now.

Also also, who actually thinks that someone would be dumb enough to advertise themselves as a drug mule? Seriously? Did these two officers have a combined IQ that even reached triple digits? I guess now I should probably re-think that bumper sticker of "I am a drug runner for the Colombian cartels" I was going to put on the back of my Corolla.

Honestly? Sounds like they were hazed by another officer. It's also important to note that in *their* mind, they had probable cause. In a police state, there *is* no need for that at all. Ever. At all levels of authority.

Another interesting thing would be a list of historical police states, from those who think we are one. I'd be curious to see how they correlate with each other.

Robear wrote:

Honestly? Sounds like they were hazed by another officer. It's also important to note that in *their* mind, they had probable cause. In a police state, there *is* no need for that at all. Ever. At all levels of authority.

The authorities always have probable cause. People don't do things because they know they are bad things and want to be evil villains in some stupid movie. People almost always have rationales to tell themselves and others why their actions were justified. Whether the "probable cause" the officer needed was the knowledge that their opponent was jewish, or black, or had a sticker for a strange leaf on their car.

Also, is it really that much of a conciliation that people technically have rights if law enforcement is institutionally ignorant of those rights? For every case where the civilian gets a lawyer or media attention how many cases are there without that happy ending.

Robear wrote:

Another interesting thing would be a list of historical police states.

Only thing my google-fu brought up was Wikipedia and a bunch of news blogs.

Did anyone else see Jacob Applebaum's excellent talk on the surveillance state?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNse...

simultaneously brilliant and terrifying

Plavonica wrote:

Only thing my google-fu brought up was Wikipedia and a bunch of news blogs.

I'm interested in what the folks who think *we* are in a police state would cite as actual police states, not quite so much what the consensus view would be, because that would not define us as such. Yet. There must be something different in the definition that leads people to use it about the US, and I think that difference reflects more a worry or fear about the near future rather than an actual state that has arrived. That is, if we don't discuss it now, it might happen later, and here are the things that are leading to it. Which is a perfectly reasonable and responsible thing to keep in people's minds, but it can also misrepresent the current state of things.

Robear:

I think that Appelbaum's definition of a "surveillance state" as something dominated by an elite few unilaterally exercising power in a functionally totalitarian system might count as a "police state" for some people.

That assumes that the state is already "functionally totalitarian". It's possible to have massive surveillance in a non-totalitarian state; look at England, for example. The US is clearly not a functionally totalitarian state at this time, but it is moving towards a surveillance state without the massive repression.

Why surveil if you have no plans to do anything?

LarryC wrote:

Robear:

I think that Appelbaum's definition of a "surveillance state" as something dominated by an elite few unilaterally exercising power in a functionally totalitarian system might count as a "police state" for some people.

This, basically.

LeapingGnome wrote:

Why surveil if you have no plans to do anything?

To make certain no one else is doing anything.

LeapingGnome wrote:

Why surveil if you have no plans to do anything?

The assumption that there is no benefit to society or the country from surveillance seems to be unusually broad. Aren't there legitimate reasons for some types of surveillance? To me, the problem is more "who watches the watchers", as well as maintaining reasonable privacy for individuals. Bearing in mind that we've given up lots of privacy in the last 20 years just to marketers, who have even less oversight (and scruples) about the use of information than government.

It's a thorny problem, and the one certainty is that the technology and a base level of it's use is not going away. We need to figure out how to manage that.

Robear wrote:

That assumes that the state is already "functionally totalitarian". It's possible to have massive surveillance in a non-totalitarian state; look at England, for example. The US is clearly not a functionally totalitarian state at this time, but it is moving towards a surveillance state without the massive repression.

Survellience itself acts to repress because knowledge that your are being monitored constrains people's choices and behaviour. You don't need to enact a law that explicitly rescinds a prior right in order to curtail previously enjoyed freedoms.

Here's a short blog on the nature of surveillance.
http://www.ianwelsh.net/the-logic-of...

DanB wrote:
Robear wrote:

That assumes that the state is already "functionally totalitarian". It's possible to have massive surveillance in a non-totalitarian state; look at England, for example. The US is clearly not a functionally totalitarian state at this time, but it is moving towards a surveillance state without the massive repression.

Survellience itself acts to repress because knowledge that your are being monitored constrains people's choices and behaviour. You don't need to enact a law that explicitly rescinds a prior right in order to curtail previously enjoyed freedoms.

Here's a short blog on the nature of surveillance.
http://www.ianwelsh.net/the-logic-of...

For some people it curtails their choices and behaviour. For others, whether they are under surveillance or not makes not a lick of difference in their actions.

Also, that blog post, while interesting, is definitely looking at the topic from a specific viewpoint. S/He is starting off with the opinion that the state is bad ad going from there.

Can it truly be considered a "surveillance state" when a large amount of the surveillance is coming from individuals and businesses?

When you think about the massive amount of time we're on camera, it's places like banks, coffee shops, grocery stores etc and not the government or the police.

mudbunny wrote:

For others, whether they are under surveillance or not makes not a lick of difference in their actions.

That's pretty much where I am. Possibly because I'm used to living in public through the Internet, or my desire to live in a dirty cyberpunk future, but the idea of omnipresent surveillance just doesn't concern me. I think Aesop Rock said it best during the iPhone gps tracking scandal a couple years ago: "I dont care that my phone is a tracking device. When you motherf*ckers come to find me i'll either be taking a sh*t or eating a sandwich."

Robear:

Appelbaum's idea of "surveillance state involves a definition, not an assumption. The definition is that a surveillance state doesn't merely look, but uses acquired information to suppress movements and kill people that are a threat to its ruling powers (Wikileaks, people related to Al-Quaeda supporters, and so on). Even he doesn't think that the US and the rest of Western civilization has fully transitioned, but it's clear that he thinks that there's a fair amount of oppression already going on.

Bearing in mind that we've given up lots of privacy in the last 20 years just to marketers, who have even less oversight (and scruples) about the use of information than government.

The US government thinks it appropriate to kill me at its discretion. I'm fairly sure McDonald's and its marketers will scruple at that. I'm also fairly sure that, if Proctor and Gamble were to send assassins to kill me, that I would be able to seek legal protections against them; and probably extract damages to boot.

I don't actually have evidence to support that impression, though. If P&G has ever had anyone killed, please feel free to inform me of the incident.

Bear:

Appelbaum seems to think that it's not those kinds of surveillance that are really proximate to assassinations and extra-judicial sentences, but that those are related. It seems to me that to him, the NSA's (and FBI, and HLS, and so on) surveillance powers and activities tied to broad executive powers under various Acts and government actions are enough to make up a "surveillance state," per his definition, without accounting for private observers.

Eh, if you're not doing anything wrong then there's nothing to worry about isn't a very convincing argument for me.

Bear wrote:

Can it truly be considered a "surveillance state" when a large amount of the surveillance is coming from individuals and businesses?

When you think about the massive amount of time we're on camera, it's places like banks, coffee shops, grocery stores etc and not the government or the police.

If video surveillance ends up anything like internet surveillance, then soon enough all video feeds will be routed straight through government offices. Governments aren't the ones actually storing emails and phone records but that hasn't stopped them from demanding unfiltered access.