Federal judge declares part of Patriot Act unconstitutional!

In a surprising bit of good news a Federal judge in Los Angeles has ruled that part of the Patriot Act that bars giving expert advice or assistance to groups designated as foreign terrorist organizations is too vague and has ruled it an unconstitutional restriction of free speech.

Part of Patriot Act Ruled Unconstitutional

The judge’s ruling said the law, as written, does not differentiate between impermissible advice on violence and encouraging the use of peaceful, nonviolent means to achieve goals.

“The USA Patriot Act places no limitation on the type of expert advice and assistance which is prohibited and instead bans the provision of all expert advice and assistance regardless of its nature,” the judge said.

Cole declared the ruling “a victory for everyone who believes the war on terrorism ought to be fought consistent with constitutional principles.”

Now if we can just get the rest of it ruled as unconstitutional we’ll be headed back onto the right track.

7 thoughts on “Federal judge declares part of Patriot Act unconstitutional!

  1. The ruling was sort of a let down, though.  When I read the title of the story in the AP, the possibilities went racing through my mind.  But really very little changed.

    As I understand it, the judge’s problem was that the clause was too vague, not that it was baseless.  It’s something, but not as much as I could hope for.

    I’ll be for the war on terro when someone can give me a measurable milestone to gauge the *end* of the war.  How can I test that we made any progress at all?

  2. Here’s an interesting point about this… Think back to all the “foreign terrorist organizations” the United States have helped out in the past… I can think of the Israeli

  3. What Some Born Again Baptists Do?

    “I just want you to know you aren’t going to church with a crook,”  Bernard Ebbers at Easthaven Baptist Church in Brookhaven, Miss.,

    A while back the news media reported that Bernard Ebbers, a former milkman in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, was ousted in April 2002,  at the age of 60, owing Worldcom $400 million in loans. The 6-foot-4-inch Canadian-born businessman, once one of the world’s richest men with a fortune of $1.4 billion, adopted the town’s ways. He attended shareholder meetings in jeans, cowboy boots and a bolo tie, and started the sessions with a prayer—a sure winner in the heart of America’s Bible Belt.

    The ousted chief executive of a giant telecommunications company rocked with an accounting scandal told his congregation on Sunday that he was innocent of wrongdoing. Appearing at Easthaven Baptist Church in Brookhaven, Miss., as usual to teach Sunday school and attend the morning worship service, Bernard Ebbers made his first public comments about WorldCom since the disclosure of $3.8 billion in improper accounting last week, “The Wall Street Journal” reported.“I just want you to know you aren’t going to church with a crook,” Ebbers addressed the congregation at the end of the service.

    Now, amid tidal waves of bad publicity over WorldCom’s admission of billions of dollars in accounting shenanigans and possible bankruptcy, Clinton residents are keeping their fingers crossed that Ebbers comes out clean. Bernard Ebbers still owes Worldcom $400 million in loans that were obtained under dubious circumstances! But he still gets an annual severance pay of $15 million.

    But now a report released on January 27, 2004 by WorldCom Inc.‘s bankruptcy examiner found “substantial evidence” that former WorldCom chief executive Bernard J. Ebbers steered investment banking business to Salomon Smith Barney in return for personal financial favors.

    Top executives at WorldCom Inc. resorted to financial gimmickry, deception and outright fraud in an attempt to disguise the company’s eroding prospects, suppressing challenges from within, according to two new reports examining the downfall of the nation’s second-largest long-distance company.

    The reports pinned much of the blame on founder and former chief executive Bernard J. Ebbers, who they said created an environment in which meeting Wall Street’s expectations was paramount and warnings about suspect accounting were met with ridicule and abuse.

    “The fraud was the consequence of the way WorldCom’s chief executive officer, Bernard J. Ebbers, ran the company,” one report read. “He was the source of the culture, as well as much of the pressure, that gave birth to this fraud.”

    WorldCom filed for bankruptcy last July after revealing a massive accounting fraud. The company has said the improper accounting, which totals $9 billion, allowed it to appear profitable during a period it was losing money.

    The news media also reported that “One of the reports, prepared for the company’s board of directors, said the fraud occurred when Ebbers’s personal fortune was under the greatest pressure, and it noted that the fraud did not come to light until after he left the company. The report said former chief financial officer Scott D. Sullivan orchestrated the fraud with help from other executives. Ultimately, more than 40 executives have left the company because of their involvement.

    The reports reveal an extraordinary corporate atmosphere in which Ebbers ridicules efforts to institute a corporate code of conduct as a “waste of time” and where Sullivan rewards loyal employees with personal checks for $10,000. In at least one instance, an employee who challenged questionable numbers was warned figuratively by an executive that he would be thrown out a window if he raised the issue with auditors.

    Both reports noted that Ebbers and Sullivan declined to be interviewed. Sullivan has pleaded not guilty to fraud charges. Ebbers has not been charged. The reports state that while Ebbers was aware of certain practices to inflate reported revenue, no direct evidence could be found to show he participated in the scheme that Sullivan is accused of leading.

    “After spending tens of millions of dollars and nearly a year investigating this matter, the reports of investigation released today do not point to a single piece of paper or any witness demonstrating that Bernie Ebbers participated in or knew about any purported fraud at WorldCom,” Ebbers’s attorney, Reid H. Weingarten, said in a statement released yesterday.

    Ebbers left WorldCom in April of 2002 after it was revealed that the company had lent him several hundred million dollars to cover losses in the WorldCom stock he owned. Ebbers has been selling his assets, including a Canadian ranch and Florida yacht-building company, in an effort to repay the $408 million in loans.

    The company was founded 20 years ago by Ebbers as a long-distance company that resold service at a discount from larger companies. Ebbers parlayed that small firm into the nation’s second-largest long-distance company through a series of acquisitions, culminating in the 1998 purchase of MCI for $40 billion.

    But when regulators blocked his proposed acquisition of Sprint Corp. in 2000, Ebbers suddenly had to deliver his promised growth through operations, rather than acquisitions.

    In at least one case, Ebbers authored a memo describing the problem of using one-time accounting events to reconcile the company’s internal numbers with what it reported to Wall Street analysts.

    In a June 2001 memo, Ebbers wrote that the company was using one-time accounting events to hide the fact that the company’s growth had slowed.

    “I would ask that you get with Jon McGuire and Mike Higgins and anyone else that works on those issues and see where we stand on those one time events that had to happen in order for use to have a chance to make our number . . . ” Ebbers wrote. Both McGuire and Higgins, who worked in the company’s finance department, are no longer with WorldCom.

    Later the company put out a news release stating that it had hit its growth target for the second quarter of 2001. It made no mention of several one-time items that boosted revenue, including two accounting items that each added $20 million to reported revenue.

    In addition to the fraud, the company also suffered from a series of ill-advised investments that ultimately saddled it with more than $40 billion in debt. The bankruptcy court takes the board to task for failing to take a stronger role in resisting Ebbers’s buying spree.

    “[I]t appears that the Company’s officers and Directors went along with Mr. Ebbers and Mr. Sullivan, even under circumstances that suggested corporate actions were at best imprudent, and at worst inappropriate,” Thornburgh wrote.

    As examples, Thornburgh points to the board’s approval in September 2000 of buying Laurel-based Digex. According to one unnamed board member, he wrote, the $6 billion transaction was an “ego deal” for Ebbers, who heard that a competitor was interested in buying the Web hosting company. The board approved the deal after a 35-minute conference call that was held on two hours’ notice. Board members were provided with no documents or analysis in support of the transaction. The bankruptcy court described the investment as “a dismal failure, producing massive losses for WorldCom.”

    The court’s report also cites WorldCom’s decision in 1997 to acquire MCI after the long-distance company’s prior agreement with British Telecom fell apart.

    The report concludes that WorldCom embarked on the $40 billion merger, not because it was part of a broader strategy, but because it was an opportunity that could not be passed up. “One Director commented that Mr. Ebbers’ ego would not let such a deal go by and, accordingly, WorldCom’s ‘strategy,’ as such, adjusted to the circumstances.”

    The Other Born Again Baptist CEO Thieves

    It is a fact that Rev. Jesse Jackson has never worked a day in his life in the private sector, has a net personal worth of over 4 million dollars and directly controls four non-profit organizations. It had been alleged that Rev. Jackson, a Baptist minister, has been siphoning money from these organization to support his wealth!  These allegation of financial impropriety turned out to be true when the media reported in January 2001 that using the ministry funds over the course of seven years Pentecostal Jim Bakker paid his lady friend only about one- half ($265,000) of what Baptist Jackson admitted to paying his mistress in two years ($472,000)—and about one-third of what the National Enquirer reported Jackson has paid ($640,000).

    Billy Graham has become a god to Southern Baptists and Evangelicals when to others he is a liar, a thief and a con artist demonstrated by his taking total compensation of over $500,000 annually for the last ten years and not disclosing it to his donors while working less than twenty percent of the time.

    His money did not come from God but from the public. His non-profit tax exemption did not come from God but from the public. Lying Lyons supporters argued that if his board approved something that it was all right.  But that is not what the Judge who convicted and sentenced Lyons to jail said.

    So why are Rev. Jesse Jackson or Southern Baptist Evangelist Billy, Ned or Franklin Graham Hiding Their Total Compensation? How about their friends?

    Wally Duncaster


  4. Oh the irony…

    Patriot Act Suppresses News Of Challenge to Patriot Act!

      The American Civil Liberties Union disclosed yesterday that it filed a lawsuit three weeks ago challenging the FBI’s methods of obtaining many business records, but the group was barred from revealing even the existence of the case until now.

    The lawsuit was filed April 6 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, but the case was kept under seal to avoid violating secrecy rules contained in the USA Patriot Act, the ACLU said. The group was allowed to release a redacted version of the lawsuit after weeks of negotiations with the government.

    “It is remarkable that a gag provision in the Patriot Act kept the public in the dark about the mere fact that a constitutional challenge had been filed in court,” Ann Beeson, the ACLU’s associate legal director, said in a statement. “President Bush can talk about extending the life of the Patriot Act, but the ACLU is still gagged from discussing details of our challenge to it.”

    A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment on the case.

    The ACLU alleges that a section of the act is unconstitutional because it allows the FBI to request financial records and other documents from businesses without a warrant or judicial approval. The group also says such requests, known as “national security letters,” are being used much more broadly than they were before the Patriot Act.

    The bureau has issued scores of the letters since late 2001 that require businesses to turn over electronic records about finances, telephone calls, e-mail and other personal information, according to previously released documents. The letters, a type of administrative subpoena, may be issued independently by FBI field offices and are not subject to judicial review unless a case comes to court.

    The ACLU’s complaint focuses on the use of national security letters to obtain information held by “electronic communication service providers.” The group says the letters could force Internet providers to turn over names, screen names, e-mail addresses and other customer information without proper notice to the people involved.

    The lawsuit names as defendants Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III and FBI Senior Counsel Marion E. “Spike” Bowman. A second plaintiff has joined the ACLU in filing the lawsuit, but that plaintiff’s identity has been redacted from the public copy of the complaint.

    By Dan Eggen
    Washington Post Staff Writer

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