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Reason Alert: Insanity Defense and Cops Busting Into Your Home

The Patriot Act and how the government can read your emails and documents

May 27, 2011

Reason Alert - May 27, 2011

- Jared Loughner and Our Crazy System for Trying the Insane
- Courts Rule Cops Can Barge Into Your Home on a Whim
- The Government Can Search Your Email, Google Docs and Online Backups
- Video: The Government's War on Cameras
- Fuzzy Math to Claim Taxpayers Won't Lose Money on General Motors Bailout
- New at Reason

Jared Loughner and Our Crazy System for Trying the Insane
Jared Loughner, the man accused of killing six people and injuring 13 others including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, has been ruled incompetent to stand trial by a federal judge. In today's New York Daily News, Reason magazine's Jacob Sullum describes the "troubling extent to which freedom and responsibility hinge on psychiatrists' dubious claims to see into men's souls." Sullum writes that "by agreeing that Loughner is so 'gravely mentally ill' (as his lawyers put it) that he cannot comprehend what is going on in court, U.S. District Judge Larry Burns seemed to bolster the claim that Loughner is not responsible for his actions because his disease made him kill. That insanity defense follows logically from an argument that was widely heard after the Tucson massacre: To prevent such crimes, we should make it easier to lock people up before their mental illness drives them to violence. Both that freedom-denying prescription and the responsibility-relieving insanity defense rely on subjective, unverifiable judgments by experts who are not equipped to predict future actions or peer into past states of mind."

Courts Rule Cops Can Barge Into Your Home on a Whim
Reason magazine's Jacob Sullum says giving up liberty for security has been taken to new lows: "So much for the doctrine that a man's home is his castle, not to be forcibly entered by government agents on a whim or a hunch. Last week the U.S. Supreme Court said the 'exigent circumstances' that exist when someone might be flushing drugs down a toilet allow police to enter a home without a warrant, even if their own actions create those circumstances. As the lone dissenting justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, noted, this decision 'arms the police with a way routinely to dishonor the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement in drug cases.' Instead of 'presenting their evidence to a neutral magistrate,' they can retroactively validate their decision to break into someone's home by claiming they smelled something funny and heard something suspicious. While the U.S. Supreme Court said police may force their way into a home to prevent the destruction of evidence, the Indiana Supreme Court, in a less noticed decision issued the week before, said police may force their way into a home for any reason or no reason at all. Although the victim of an illegal search can challenge it in court after the fact, three of the five justices agreed, 'there is no right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers.' They thereby nullified a principle of common law that is centuries old, arguably dating back to the Magna Carta."
Was a Man Shot for Demanding Police Get a Warrant to Enter His Home?
Helmet Cam Video of the SWAT Raid that Killed a Former Marine

The Government Can Search Your Email, Google Docs and Online Backups
In a column in today's Washington Times, Reason Foundation's Steven Titch writes, "Americans are moving more and more of our personal data onto the Internet. We send and save emails through Hotmail and Gmail. We share photos with Flickr and post videos on YouTube. We set up everything from our calendars to video rentals so they can be managed remotely from our cellphones and multiple computers. What most Americans don’t realize is that if the government wants to read your emails, look at your pictures or gain access to any data that you have stored online for more than 180 days on sites including Yahoo! Google Docs and online backup sites, it can do so without a search warrant. Data saved online is not protected by the Fourth Amendment in the same way that information is protected if it is stored on a home computer, CD or detachable hard drive."
Big Brother Is Watching You

Video: The Government's War on Cameras
Watch police harass and arrest citizens for pointing video cameras at them and learn how to protect your rights and safety in this new video.
Reason magazine January Cover Story: The War on Cameras
Video: Nick Gillespie Talks Patriot Act with Judge Napolitano

Fuzzy Math to Claim Taxpayers Won't Lose Money on General Motors Bailout
Reason Foundation’s Shikha Dalmia: “The Obama administration, and its media backers, have seized upon news that General Motors made a $3.2 billion profit in the first quarter of 2011 as proof positive that its auto bailout is a success. President Obama is so buoyed that he is reportedly planning to make the bailout a major part of his reelection campaign...taxpayers have no guaranteed return as they would have with a loan. Therefore, market valuation of GM’s stock will determine what they will recover. They got back $20 billion when the Treasury sold half of its equity when GM floated its first post-bankruptcy IPO in December. But that still leaves a $30 billion shortfall (excluding the $45 billion tax break). To get this back, the federal government would have to sell its remaining 365 million shares—about 26.5 percent of company equity—for about $55 per share. But after GM posted its latest earnings report, its stock price dropped to $31, a few dollars below even its IPO price of $33."
John Stossel: Battle of the Federal Budgets

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Video: Nick Gillespie on Fox News Channel's Red Eye

Video: Matt Welch Talks 4th Amendment on Alyona Show

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