Saturday, June 17, 2006

"The space between a handshake ...": More smoke-filled rooms in New Jersey.

It has taken a lot of work and (possibly) the intervention of the Holy Spirit, but it appears that the image-posting feature of this blog is back on track, at least for today. I expect more harassment and obstructions in the days and weeks ahead. The top portion of my screen seems to have been taken over (June 19) by a browser theft or other problem, so I do not know whether I will be able to post here again. I will keep trying.

David W. Chen & Matt Richtel, "New Jersey Demands Data on Phone Call Surveillance and Is Sued by U.S.," The New York Times, June 16, 2006, at p. B1.
"Tom's River: Water Managers Indicted Over Tests," The New York Times, June 16, 2006, at p. B7.
"Attorney General Opposes Anti-Corruption Bill," The New York Times, June 16, 2006, at p. B7.

In a highly unusual move, New Jersey's Attorney General (Zulima Farber) issued subpoenas to phone companies doing business in New Jersey to determine whether any of them complied with requests for information from the National Security Agency (NSA), so as to decide whether New Jersey consumer protection laws -- which (allegedly) guarantee privacy rights to citizens of the Garden State -- were violated.

In a counter-move the feds filed a law suit "to block the subpoenas, setting up a legal showdown pitting the state's authority to protect consumer rights against the federal government's national security powers." This is what is known in legal circles as a "pissing contest." My prediction is that New Jersey's subpoenas will soon be quashed by a federal judge.

When it comes to U.S. Constitutional Law, this contest is a "no brainer." Under the preemption and supremacy doctrines, the President's unique responsibility for national security concerns -- especially in war time -- to ensure the health and safety of citizens is almost always deemed "primary and fundamental." It should be.

States cannot presume to rewrite federal executive decisions governing intelligence strategy, so as to satisfy domestic or political agendas (which is surely part of what is going on here), and embarass an Administration from a rival political party. National security will take priority over civil privacy and election year politics, since persons killed by terrorists are unlikely to be worried about their privacy when chatting on the phone with friends. (And we don't care if they are.) My guess is that there is a subtext here that we simply do not know, possibly a political deal that fell apart, which explains these bizarre actions by the Attorney General.

The president's actions will be struck down only when they exceed the boundaries of separation of powers established under the Constitution. Thus, when the executive goes beyond his or her national war time authority to act in the national defense in order to limit Congressional statutory definitions and limitations on spending in executing policy or "enforcing the law," then there will be a Constitutional crisis where the president loses. Also, when individuals are violated in their exercise of fundamental privacy and free speech or worship rights -- outside of any theater of war, domestically -- then presidential directives must fall.

"Clifford Fishman, a professor [of Constitutional Law] at Catholic University Law School[,] who is an expert on electronic surveillance law, also said the actions by both state and federal governments were laden with political overtones." (An "error" was inserted in this essay since my last reading of it.)

You're not kidding, Cliff.

"Professor Fishman said New Jersey's subpoenas -- issued by a Democratic Administration -- 'appeared to be a political move to try to embarrass the Bush Administration as well as the phone companies.' But he added that the Bush Administration responded with a howitzer instead of a sniper.' ..."

New Jersey has never before been very concerned about the privacy or any other rights of its citizens, since these rights, allegedly, are routinely violated by its own law enforcement agencies and courts. Standing? One incidental result of this NSA-obtained information may be to learn how often New Jersey citizens' privacy rights have been violated by their own state government, which then covered-up those violations. My guess is that this sort of criminal disregard for persons by New Jersey's government Mafiosos is common.

Politicians in Trenton are terrified, allegedly, that some of those telephone records are going to turn up inconvenient conversations between themselves and organized crime figures (maybe that's what the A.G. wanted!) -- or other shady characters -- along with questionable telephone activities on the taxpayers' dime. A few officials have probably been involved in "phone porn" (Neil M. Cohen?) or, perhaps, setting up dates with escort services (Jim McGreevey likes the Boys). Use of escorts is what is known in New Jersey politics as "fact finding" missions.

In the most corrupt state government in the nation (100+ convictions so far and counting!), phone conversations are bound to be tainted in any number of ways. State officials may not want the feds to see that. "I have reason to believe" that federal officials will not be surprised by such discoveries. (See "Is New Jersey Chief Justice Deborah T. Poritz unethical or only incompetent?," "Da Jersey Code," and "Cement is Gold," at Philosopher's Quest also at .)

If links to my blogs or MSN group happen to be blocked, mysteriously, then simply Google them. Attacks on my writings will be constant in order to prevent you from learning these facts.

As for New Jersey government officials being "cleared" for receipt of security information, the U.S. Attorney is probably concerned that -- whatever you tell government officials in New Jersey, with a few exceptions -- you may also be telling organized crime, since (allegedly) the same people are usually found in both "organizations." (See "Same Old, Same Old," at Philosopher's Quest .)

When was the last time you saw an Attorney General oppose anti-corruption legislation. Weird. New Jersey public officials sent to jail for corruption will, evidently, be able to collect on pension payments provided by taxpayers. This way they can still feed on the public treasury, like Dracula nibbling at your neck. These decisions by the Corzine Administration are highly disappointing in light of declarations that corruption and machine politics would finally end with the election of Mr. Corzine. Let's not be too hasty, there may be a method to this madness. Maybe it's just madness.

Meanwhile, "two former top managers at a Tom's River water company were indicted yesterday by a state" -- did they fail to make their pay offs? -- "grand jury on charges that they manipulated tests to hide high levels of radium in the drinking water in Tom's River, where environmental officials have linked contaminated water to childhood cancer. ..."

I wonder how it is that the radium levels are so high? Despite all of the legislative protections, why is there so much pollution and medical waste in New Jersey waters? Where is it coming from? How come polluters seem to get away with their activities? Where are the state inspectors? Hey, maybe they're on the phone? Residents of the nation's "cancer alley" in northern New Jersey want to know? You want to know. Don't you? I sure do.

As they say on Fox News (except that I actually mean it), "we report, you decide."

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