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Obama admin to overturn marijuana legalization in Wash & Col
Sat Dec 8, 2012 05:43

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Obama administration considering ways to overturn marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado - Published: 07 December, 2012,
New legislation in Washington state went into effect this week that legalizes for the first time in ages the possession of marijuana. Federal law still says otherwise, though, setting up the Justice Department to make some serious determinations.

Even as smoking up became protected by state law in Washington starting Thursday, coast-to-coast prohibition as provided by a long-standing federal ruling remains on the books. For marijuana advocates in the Pacific Northwest, the lifting of the ban is a pretty big victory. That doesn’t mean that the Justice Department has ruled out an intervention, though.

Since voters in Washington and Colorado opted on Election Day to legalize small amounts of marijuana for recreational use, the Department of Justice has been relatively quiet over how it will handle what is likely to become a heated debate regarding states’ rights. In an article published by The New York Times this week, reporter Charlie Savage says senior White House and Justice Department officials are already attempting to tackle how to handle the new marijuana laws, and are amid deliberations right now that will determine when, where and how national law enforcement can intervene.

Savage cites anonymous sources familiar with the discussions in DC, whom he says are considering plans for legal action against the states of Colorado and Washington. Meanwhile this week the Obama administration once again chimed in on the topic, but as with earlier abbreviated statements, the only words out of the nation’s capital forecast an ominous battle likely to brew for some time.

When the results of the legislations up for vote in both states trickled through on the evening of Election Day, the Justice Department dispatched a short statement clarifying the federal classification of marijuana as an illegal substance. This week, the United States attorney for Seattle, WA once again warned that federal law is still on the books.

“In enacting the Controlled Substances Act, Congress determined that marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance,” state attorney Jenny A. Durkan announced in a statement. “Regardless of any changes in state law, including the change that will go into effect on December 6 in Washington State, growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law.”

Additionally, the New York Times quotes Durkan as saying the Justice Department maintains that its "responsibility to enforce the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged," meaning federal law enforcement isn’t necessarily interested in adhering to local rules.

A similar legislation approved during last month’s Election Day is expected to go on the books in Colorado in the coming weeks. Even before becoming official, however, some important state institutions have announced that they won’t be cooperating with the end of prohibition.

"In order not to lose federal funds, we need to comply with federal law," University of Colorado at Boulder spokeswoman Malinda Hiller-Huey told The Denver Post.

Speaking to NBC, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper acknowledged even before the new law was approved that it would be an uphill battle for local marijuana advocates given the feds’ insistence in playing by their own rules.

"It's probably going to pass, but it's still illegal on a federal basis. If we can't make it legal here because of federal laws, we certainly want to decriminalize it,” he said.

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes tells NPR station KUOW that in his state, residents should be thankful that local law enforcement won’t be tasked with what is largely considered not just a non-issue, but an expensive endeavor. Whereas schools and universities in Colorado aren’t considering the new law for the sake of saving money, Holmes says the legislation in Washington will actually save the state bundles.

"I think that they should acknowledge this newfound right," he says to KUOW. "I think they should celebrate in the privacy of their homes if they choose to do so. And be thankful that we’re no longer arresting some 10,000 Washingtonians a year in the state of Washington and spending well over $100 million in law enforcement resources on that."

Meanwhile, more liberal minded lawmakers in the District are hoping to iron out a way to ensure that state laws are protected before federal agents can have their way. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colorado) introduced a bipartisan legislation before Congress that will amend the US Controlled Substances Act to provide that federal law shall not preempt state marijuana laws.

"I am proud to join with colleagues from both sides of the aisle on the 'Respect States' and Citizens' Rights Act' to protect states' rights and immediately resolve any conflict with the federal government," Rep. DeGette said upon introducing House Bill 6606. "In Colorado we've witnessed the aggressive policies of the federal government in their treatment of legal medicinal marijuana providers. My constituents have spoken and I don't want the federal government denying money to Colorado or taking other punitive steps that would undermine the will of our citizens."

According to a recent survey conducted by Public Policy Polling, nearly six out of ten Americans want marijuana legalization on a widespread scale. In a separate Angus Reid Public Opinion poll published last week, over 60 percent of Americans surveyed said they expect marijuana to be federally permitted within the next decade.
Electronic Surveillance is more intended to be used for Electronic Mind Control and Mind (Reading) Technologies and the public thinks that it is being only used to spy on communications. MindControlUSA - -
Slowing down the surveillance state: a guide to warrantless government spying
If the growing use of governmental tip-toeing to wiretap phone lines and emails doesn’t seem serious, think again. So heightened lately are concerns over surveillance that two major organizations have published a primer on federal spy programs.
If the growing use of governmental tip-toeing to wiretap phone lines and emails doesn’t seem serious, think again. So heightened lately are concerns over surveillance that two major organizations have published a primer on federal spy programs.

Both ProPublica - - and the Electronic Frontier Foundation - - have released thorough guides this week that explore what the US government can and can’t do in terms of tracking US citizens using an array of weirdly-worded wiretap laws currently on the books.

The EFF, a long-time opponent of the expanding evasive spy state, published on Thursday a collection of information they’re considering “Warrantless Surveillance 101: Introducing EFF's New NSA Domestic Spying Guide.” Just two days earlier, the independent journalism project ProPublica released their own breakdown, “No Warrant, No Problem: How The Government Can Still Get Your Digital Data.”

Although both the EFF and ProPublica reports highlight the history of federal surveillance going back to the start of the United States, it’s no coincidence that they are just now offering insight into the government’s spy programs. In recent months, Congress has considered an array of legislation that allows for different types of surveillance, and the Senate and House are expected to soon weigh in even more heavily.

As ProPublica notes, just last week the Senate “took a step toward updating privacy protection for emails” by approving an updated to the 1986 Electronic Communications and Privacy Act (ECPA) - - that will require law enforcement agents to obtain a warrant before reading emails older than 180 days. ProPublica predicts that Congress will push the issue aside, however, and go back to passing haunting legislation that lets Uncle Sam access seemingly everything.

“Meantime,” the site reads, “here’s how police can track you without a warrant now.” From there, the organization breaks down the basics behind how cops can obtain warrants and what the law says about how they’re used.

“The US government isn’t allowed to wiretap American citizens without a warrant from a judge. But there are plenty of legal ways for law enforcement, from the local sheriff to the FBI, to snoop on the digital trails you create every day,” the site acknowledges. Phone records, location data, IP addresses, emails, text messages and data stores on the cloud can all be collected by the government, ProPublica warns, - - and some of that can be received with just a simple court order or another easy-to-obtain form.

“Authorities can often obtain your emails and texts by going to Google or AT&T with a simple subpoena,” they warn. “Usually you won’t even be notified.”

On their part, the EFF presents a more thorough examination into not just who can administer these wiretaps and with how much ease, but breaks down the history of the National Security Agency and the multitude of scandals it has involved itself in regarding domestic surveillance going all the way back to its infancy during the Truman administration.

“While the government claims the NSA’s infamous program is too secret to be litigated, it isn't a secret — and we’ve catalogued the trove of information that has become public since it was first revealed by the New York Times in 2005,” the EFF explains. “This including declarations under oath by an AT&T whistleblower and three NSA whistleblowers, sworn testimony before Congress, investigations by government Inspectors General and stories by major media organizations based on highly placed sources, along with public admissions by government officials.”

In order to provide a blueprint for persons trying to familiarize themselves with NSA spying as the EFF awaits a court date in the matter later this month, they’ve published a NSA domestic spying timeline, an explanation of how the NSA conducts the spying, a history of the controversial ‘state secrets’ privilege and a breakdown of how the government uses word games in order to avoid disclosing their dastardly secrets.

In an easy-to-view format, the EFF has uploaded information from Inspectors General reports, court hearings, Congressional testimonies and mainstream news articles detailing the history of the NSA and how the government has used the ECPA along with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and other legislation to legally (more or less) go through loops.

The EFF will be back in federal court on December 14 in the latest arguments in the case of Jewel v. NSA, a five-year old case that involves the National Security Agency’s involvement in a top-secret spy program with telecom giants AT&T.

“On December 14th, we hope that the Northern District of California federal court will agree with us that our case challenging illegal domestic spying should move forward,” says the EFF. “ Warrantless wiretapping isn't a state secret—it's a clear violation of FISA, other laws, and the Constitution. Government secrecy claims should not mean that the violation of the privacy rights of millions of ordinary Americans are swept under the rug.”

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