Friday, April 29, 2005

    Poker? Think Again!

    With the visibility of poker tournaments on TV the population is more pumped up than ever to play poker. There are abundant poker supplies around and you can even go online to play poker for free.
    What if your confidence is building and you want to play for some money? You're a responsible adult. You could spend far more than you'd ever play online by purchasing a ticket to go to Atlantic City or Las Vegas or some Indian casino - but what about from the ease of your chair in your own home?
    Enter the USA government. They have decided it is one of their many moral duties to see to it that you don't corrupt yourself. Yes, that's right - if you participate in on-line gambling you are committing a felony! You don't have the freedom to play in your home - even if you live in Nevada! Casinos in the USA would love to have on-line gaming legal, but our government is out to protect your morals. They can put pedophiles back on the street to kill children, but by god they will protect our morals!
    Now I have to confess I know nothing about the details of the Patriot Act - just what I hear. But if I were to go to the library or order from an on-line bookstore a book about on-line gambling would I suddenly become a target of interest?


    Pundit said...

    Most likely you could. The patriot act allows for the seizure by the feds of library loan records and bookstore sales records. The DHS has tried to say that this warrentless free-for-the-asking process has never been used but some sources have reported that it has already been used about 80 times. No warrant required. No probable cause. Feds just simply walk in and ask. And the kicker is that the library or bookstore that is approaced is forbidden under the patriot act from indicating to its customers that it was approached. And it cannot refuse under first amendment. To say anything is prosecutable. There is one library back east that decided that they would post a sign that says "We have not been asked by Homeland Security today to turn over lists." The idea is, as long as they have that sign up, patrons know the records have not been requested. The day you walk in and don't see the sign.....

    Are you beginning to trust your benevolent government?

    gullyborg said...

    actually, you are so far below the radar that unless the books you checked out from the library had titles like "how to enrich uranium using common household tools," "piloting jumbo jets for dummies," "there is no god but allah," and "101 ways to change your appearance in a poorly lit bathroom stall," no one from the FBI would give a shit. and even if you did check out those very books, would anyone notice? think about how many millions of people are checking out books. now think about how many millions of man hours are spent by the FBI doing mindless paperwork and other ineffectual nonsense. now think about how piss poor our intelligence still is. do you think there is a program in place to automatically record all library transactions into a secret government database that scans for keywords and forwards lists of probable suspects to eager agents? hardly. most libraries in this country still track all their check outs on paper by hand. don't fear the patriot act. it will never hurt you. unless...

    the real power of the patriot act is that allows cops to do more ONCE THEY ALREADY HAVE A SUSPECT.

    Say you are the FBI. Now say you have been watching Ahmed closely and you think he is a terrorist. In comes the patriot act. Now you can easily get warrants to do things to Ahmed you previously couldn't do. Want his phone tapped? No problem. Want his home searched? No problem. Want to see what books he's been checking out? No problem. If you want to check out Ahmed, that is. If you want to check out some random Joe, you are going to have to convince a judge that Joe is a terror threat in order to invoke the patriot act--and that is the ONLY cause for concern. A pliant judge could find probable cause to grant the feds patriot act powers on any suspect, and it could lead to evidence, that would ordinarily not have been available, to convict Joe of other crimes, like racketeering.

    But it's still always on a case by case basis where the feds invoke the act on a particular suspect. If they have no reason to suspect you, the patriot act is NOT going to suddenly make you a suspect for anything.

    interestingly enough, the patriot act just might wind up helping the feds crack down on the mob in their union dealings... which as far as I'm concerned is pretty much terrorism anyway.