Note: The first episode of this quarter was a rerun of Episode #335, transmitted on December 19, 2005.
Episode #400: It Just Takes A Little Effort
First Broadcast: 12/26/05
Repeated: 2/20/06; 2/5/07; 12/10/07; 11/17/08;
Attempted repeat: 3/15/10 Program not shown; Some other program about salsa shown instead.
Special repeats: 3/16/10 at 12 Midnight, 1:00 AM, and 2:00 AM.
With tonight's program, Free New York surpasses almost every weekly series you can think of in terms of sheer number of episodes. For comparison, there are only five weekly prime-time fiction series that have had a longer run than us (according to the "Longest Running TV Shows" web site):
|Series||Number of Episodes|
|Death Valley Days||452|
|Ozzie and Harriett||435|
Of course, this is nothing compared to something like Meet The Press, which has been running almost every week since 1947 with over 2600 episodes under its belt, but it's pretty good, considering that we probably have only a fraction of the budget of any of the above!
For the recipes in tonight's episode, visit here, and you too can enjoy the same dinner that we did to celebrate the occasion. On to episode #800, more or less!
Episode #401: I Filled Out The Paperwork
First Broadcast: 1/9/06
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution reads as follows:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
This Amendment has been a part of the supreme law of the United States since 1791, so it's not a new concept. The law clearly says that a warrant is required to search a place or seize a thing. Since 1967, the Supreme Court has held that the Fourth Amendment also applies to telephone conversations. On December 18, 1967, the Court made the following rulings in Katz v. United States, a case where the U.S. claimed that the FBI did not violate the Fourth Amendment when the Bureau eavesdropped on a suspect's phone conversations because the FBI didn't physically enter the place where the suspect was having the conversation:
1. The Government's eavesdropping activities violated the privacy upon which petitioner justifiably relied while using the telephone booth and thus constituted a "search and seizure" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. Pp. 350-353.
(a) The Fourth Amendment governs not only the seizure of tangible items but extends as well to the recording of oral statements. Silverman v. United States, 365 U.S. 505, 511 . P. 353.
(b) Because the Fourth Amendment protects people rather than places, its reach cannot turn on the presence or absence of a physical intrusion into any given enclosure. The "trespass" doctrine of Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438 , and Goldman v. United States, 316 U.S. 129 , is no longer controlling. Pp. 351, 353.
2. Although the surveillance in this case may have been so narrowly circumscribed that it could constitutionally have been authorized in advance, it was not in fact conducted pursuant to the warrant procedure which is a constitutional precondition of such electronic surveillance. Pp. 354-359.
So, according to the Supreme Court, monitoring telephone conversations is an activity that can be considered a "search and seizure" under the Fourth Amendment; the physical location of the monitoring doesn't affect its constitutionality; and even if such monitoring could be constitutional with a warrant, it is still unconstitutional without a warrant. Further, findlaw.com makes this analysis of the Katz decision:
Whether or not a search was reasonable, wrote Justice Powell for the Court, was a question which derived much of its answer from the warrant clause; except in a few narrowly circumscribed classes of situations, only those searches conducted pursuant to warrants were reasonable. The Government's duty to preserve the national security did not override the gurarantee that before government could invade the privacy of its citizens it must present to a neutral magistrate evidence sufficient to support issuance of a warrant authorizing that invasion of privacy. ... This protection was even more needed in ''national security cases'' than in cases of ''ordinary'' crime, the Justice continued, inasmuch as the tendency of government so often is to regard opponents of its policies as a threat and hence to tread in areas protected by the First Amendment as well as by the Fourth. ... Rejected also was the argument that courts could not appreciate the intricacies of investigations in the area of national security nor preserve the secrecy which is required.
So, not only is a warrant required in these situations, it is especially required when the government claims that "national security" is involved. Clearly, the cumulative opinion of the Supreme Court is that any sort of governmental eavesdropping of telephone conversations without a warrant is unconstitutional, being a violation of the Fourth Amendment, regardless of whether or not national security is an issue. In fact, George W. Bush himself seemed very aware of these facts when he discussed the subject on April 20, 2004:
"Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretaps, it requires--a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution."
With that in mind, it sounds as if George W. Bush knowingly committed a clearly illegal and unconstitutional act, according to a New York Times article from December 15, 2005:
Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.
Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible "dirty numbers" linked to Al Qaeda, the officials said. The agency, they said, still seeks warrants to monitor entirely domestic communications.
Two days after that article was published, not only did George W. Bush admit that he authorized this activity, but that he would continue to do so:
President Bush said Saturday he has no intention of stopping his personal authorizations of a post-Sept. 11 secret eavesdropping program in the US, lashing out at those involved in revealing it while defending it as crucial to preventing future attacks.
"This is a highly classified program that is crucial to our national security," he said in a radio address delivered live from the White House's Roosevelt Room.
"This authorization is a vital tool in our war against the terrorists. It is critical to saving American lives. The American people expect me to do everything in my power, under our laws and Constitution, to protect them and their civil liberties and that is exactly what I will continue to do as long as I am president of the United States," Bush said.
Now, when you have a President of the United States who admits to violating the Consitution of the United States, and who insists that he will violate the Constitution again in the future, and who has done this despite having taken an oath to specifically "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States," what should you do? Conveniently enough, the Constitution might also supply us with a suggestion:
Article II, Section 4.
The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
After all, if Bill Clinton's activities are the most recent benchmark for Presidential impeachment (that is, the most recent example after Richard Nixon), aren't George W. Bush's conscious violations of the Constitution "misdemeanors" at the very least, if not "high crimes" worthy of impeachment? Maybe some other members of Congress can help John Conyers find the answer to that question--that is, if they have any guts.
Episode #402: Too Evel Knievel For Our Taste
First Broadcast: 1/16/06
We start with a question: Why did a local court ruling which judged a New York City law to be unconstitutional receive no attention in the local media? Specifically, on January 9, 2006, Judge Gerald Harris, in a decision affecting eight criminal cases consolidated by defendants who were arrested for participating in a Critical Mass ride, ruled that Section 10-110 of the Adminstrative Code of the City of New York, together with Title 38 Chapter 19 of the Rules of the City of New York, as they referred to the laws prohibiting parading without a permit, were unconstitutional. The reason being that since Section 10-110(a) requires a permit for any "procession, parade or race...upon any street or in any public place," and since "Rule 19-02 defines a parade or procession as 'any march, motorcade, caravan, promenade, foot or bicycle race, or similar event of any kind, upon any public street or roadway,'" those regulations together were so broad that, conceivably, one person walking down the street could be in violation of the law as it's currently written. Therefore, the City regulations which made it illegal to parade, etc. without a permit--the biggest charge against the people arrested at a Critical Mass ride in January, 2005--were found to be overly broad since the First Amendment (a parade being a form of expression) was at issue, and thus they were found to be unconstitutional. I'd consider that to be big news, especially in light of the enormous attention that the arrests of Critical Mass bikers have been receiving in recent years; so why wouldn't a victory for some of the arrestees--a victory so significant that part of the City's law was ruled invalid--receive an equally generous amount of media coverage? Go figure. Also: while George W. Bush "welcomes a public investigation of his decision to let the National Security Agency spy on Americans," (remind anyone of when Nixon said "I welcome this kind of examination because people have got to know whether or not their President's a crook"?), will he also welcome a committee to investigate whether or not he committed impeachable offenses? We're not the only one who think impeachment's time has come. Did we also mention how the big story in Britain is a memo where Bush allegedly discussed bombing the al Jazeera network with Tony Blair? Has nobody seen Control Room? Impeach already!
Episode #403: Preserve, Protect And Defend
First Broadcast: 1/23/06 Episode began at 2:01:36 AM
Repeated: 8/21/06; 1/22/07
We here at Free New York completely support the two federal lawsuits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights, each with the goal of having the warrantless spying by the National Security Agency on American citizens, authorized by President George W. Bush, declared illegal and unconstitutional. We support these legal actions because if the Executive branch feels free to violate the law at will, and if the Legislative branch refuses to investigate the crimes of the Executive, then the only recourse left is through the Judicial branch; and likewise, if the politicians refuse to investigate the crimes of other politicians, then it's up to the people themselves to bring the politicians to justice. After all, if 52% of the public thinks Bush should be impeached for spying on Americans without a warrant, shouldn't at least 52% of the House and the Senate feel the same way? Hasn't Bush violated his oath of office, at the very least, by neither preserving, protecting, nor defending the Constitution of the United States? Is it possible that this spying even predated the events of September 11, 2001? Shouldn't Bush be impeached for authorizing torture as well? Will I ever get answers to these questions? Only time will tell.
Episode #404: Aggressively Progressive
First Broadcast: 1/30/06
This week, we discuss three irritating issues:
"Hamas is a terrorist organization, which means they believe it is their right to murder women, children and innocent civilians to achieve their goals." -- Senator Chuck Schumer, January 26, 2006.And the reasons given for Hamas's victory at the polls don't sound all that much different from the reasons for Republican victories in recent years:
Lesley Stahl: "We have heard that a half million children have died [in Iraq]. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?"
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it."
-- May 12, 1996
Hamas has built its popularity over the years through patient political organizing, charity work, and an unyielding position regarding Israel, which it refuses to recognize. The secular Fatah movement is suffering from generational divisions and a reputation for corrupt, ineffective government. -- "Hamas Wins Decisive Majority in Palestinian Elections" by Scott Wilson, The Washington Post, January 26, 2006
After all, hasn't the GOP's stranglehold on power in this country been marked by patient political organizing, an endorsement of charities over government aid, and an unyielding position regarding countries such as Iraq, Iran, Cuba, etc.? Didn't former President Bill Clinton, in one of his rare moments of insight, say on December 3, 2002, that "When people are insecure, they'd rather have someone strong and wrong, rather than weak and right"? Why should anyone be surprised, shocked, or stunned that Palestinians are behaving the same way as Americans had been behaving recently? Anyone honestly surprised by this hasn't been paying attention closer to home.
Nixzmary Brown's tragic life of unimaginable physical and emotional agony ended at 4:30 a.m. yesterday when the 7-year-old's battered body was found in her Brooklyn "house of horrors." The second-grader had been bound to a chair, tortured, sexually molested and starved for weeks before being killed by a savage blow to the head - even after child welfare authorities dismissed charges of abuse.
-- "Bound, beaten, starved, killed" by By NANCY DILLON, AUSTIN FENNER and ALISON GENDAR, New York Daily News, January 12, 2006
As a result, New York State legislators now want to increase the penalty for such a crime from a maximum of 25 years in prison to a maximum of life without parole. In other words, torturing someone to the point of killing them is very, very bad. So, naturally, if an American soldier was found guilty of torturing someone to the point of killing them, the penalty would be equally severe, right?
A US officer who faced up to three years in jail for killing a captured Iraqi general has been punished with a reprimand and a $6,000 fine.
Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer Jr was convicted last week of the negligent homicide of Maj Gen Abed Hamed Mowhoush in 2003.
Prosecutors said Gen Mowhoush was tied, placed headfirst in a sleeping bag and died with an officer sitting on him.
-- "Iraq general's killer reprimanded," BBC News, 24 January 2006, 11:26 GMT
I see. I guess if that general had been a 7-year-old child, then maybe the sentence for his killer would have been a tad more severe. Who knew?
Episode #405: Serious Concerns
First Broadcast: 2/13/06
So, if George W. Bush claims that the United States disabled a plot to destroy a building in Los Angeles in 2002, why did he wait until 2006 during a government wiretapping scandal to break the news to the public? Why didn't he inform the Mayor of Los Angeles about what happened (or didn't happen, as the case may be)? Why does Vice President Dick Cheney think that Congress only has the right to "suggest" what laws should be changed? Why is Senator Russ Feingold one of the few people in Congress to publicly say that Bush is breaking the law? Is it a bad thing that playing the State of The Union drinking game would have caused me to down 110 shots if I was playing by the rules? Why does Bush himself not think that terrorism is a crime? (After all, if he says that critics of the so-called "war on terror" "view terrorism more as a crime," doesn't that mean that he doesn't view terrorism as a crime?) And are those illustrations of Mohammed in a Danish newspaper really such a big deal? I don't think they are, and it frightens me more than a little bit that so many people are encouraging death, dismemberment, war, and other forms of obliteration all over some drawings that wouldn't get a second look in a SoHo gallery. Go take a look at them yourself, since our chickenshit media outlets are too scared of violent fundamentalists to show what all the fuss is about. Has nothing been learned since The Satanic Verses was published? Maybe we'll have some answers next week.
Episode #406: Good Answer, Good Answer
First Broadcast: 2/27/06
This week, a rather worn-out Chris and Kim take a small detour from politics for most of the episode to discuss--among other things--"Family Feud," "Match Game," "Eyewitness News," the Million Dollar Movie, George Carlin, Lewis Black, and who knows what else, before they finally get around to talking about this deal that would have a foreign company owned by the U.A.E. take control over several U.S. seaports on the east coast--a deal which is being rightly opposed by several politicians of all stripes, including both Senators Schumer and Clinton from New York. Will we get back on track by next week? "We're number one!"
Episode #407: Allergic To Mendacity
First Broadcast: 3/13/06
Good News: Instant Runoff Voting helps to elect a Progressive in Vermont; towns across Vermont vote to say they want George W. Bush impeached; DP World abandons its effort to take over U.S. ports; former U.S. President Jimmy Carter says the Iraq war is "completely unnecessary," "unjust," and "It was initiated on the basis of false pretenses"; and The New York Times says the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence "has become so paralyzingly partisan that it could not even manage to do its basic job this week and look into President Bush's warrantless spying on Americans' international e-mail and phone calls," also pointing out that "Unlike the rest of us, Mr. Cheney thought the lesson of Watergate was that the president was not strong enough." Bad News: The House passed H.R. 4167, which would eradicate laws in every state regarding warning labels on food if they went beyond any federal requirements--meaning that if the feds don't require a label to disclose, say, arsenic in drinking water, or lead in imported candy, then the states can't require it either. Hopefully, the Senate won't follow in their footsteps. In any event, a big anti-Bush/anti-War event is taking place in New York City on April 29th; however, that's about all I know about it at the moment. Maybe we'll know even more next week.