by Victor Mil·n <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>
Am I the only one to wonder about the use of increasingly abstruse
"scientific" evidence in criminal trials?
Example: DNA samples. What, precisely, prevents prosecutors from
simply printing out graphics and columns of figures that support
their contention? If they are trying to "prove" that DNA samples
taken from a crime scene match sequences from their suspect, what's
to prevent them simply showing two copies of the same slide, side by
side? Could you tell the difference? To accomplish it wouldn't even
entail much of a "conspiracy:" one person along the chain of evidence
could effect the switch, and it would be hard to trace in the face of
the automatic/reflex government stonewall.
Example: DNA samples. What, precisely, prevents prosecutors from simply printing out graphics and columns of figures that support their contention? If they are trying to "prove" that DNA samples taken from a crime scene match sequences from their suspect, what's to prevent them simply showing two copies of the same slide, side by side? Could you tell the difference? To accomplish it wouldn't even entail much of a "conspiracy:" one person along the chain of evidence could effect the switch, and it would be hard to trace in the face of the automatic/reflex government stonewall.
Sure, the defense is free to spend all the money on Earth on its own DNA tests. But to get on a jury, especially a fed jury, you have to convince the judge and prosecuting attorney beyond a reasonable doubt that you're a hole-eyed Ritalin zombie who will repeat: "The government is always right. Truth is what the government says," endlessly.
Perhaps the above scenario is unlikely. Perhaps.
Now consider the latest flap over encryption of computer communications. The nation's confessed top serial murderer, Janet Reno, and fanatic religious cultist Louis Freeh, have led a furious _jihad_ against any and all forms of privacy: to them, any attempt to deny the government access to every facet of your life constitutes "privacy gone crazy" as one of their Congressional sock monkeys like Barbara Boxer or Orrin Hatch called a recent (and failed) attempt to return a modicum of confidentiality to our bank transactions. Current export restrictions state that no American company can sell crypto software abroad unless it's got a backdoor. Foreigners can be pretty stupid - the Brits' surrender of their firearms, thereby putting themselves utterly at the mercy of Heinrich Himmler avatar Jack Straw comes to mind - but they're not dumb enough to trust the US government not to spy on them and steal them blind.
(Hmm. So, _who's_ stupid?)
Now, suddenly, the government is agreeing to relax those restrictions. That's a surprise: this is hands-down the most fascist administration in American history. "Liberal" Bill Clinton has transformed America into a police state in which anybody with a badge can do anything, anytime, to anybody who lacks one - even break into their houses and shoot them in the back with no comebacks. The only freedom Bill Clinton will ever permit to increase is the freedom of politicians and their armed myrmidons to plunder, rape, and slaughter.
So why the turnaround?
WIRED News ("Decoding the Crypto Policy Change" by Declan McCullagh
<http://www.wired.com/news/news/politics/story/21810.html> flips us a
big clue: "Another answer might lie in a little-noticed section of the legislation the White House has sent to Congress. It says that during civil cases or criminal prosecutions, the Feds can use decrypted evidence in court without revealing how they descrambled it."
It goes without saying the Republicans will pass this one: if Slick introduced a bill banning the GOP two-thirds of Republicans would roll over like roaches (and it might soon come to that, since the permanent government has to realize the GOP can no longer effectively pretend to be an "opposition" party).
If you're awake, I shouldn't have to spell out to you why allowing the government to introduce evidence _without even pretending to account for its provenance_ is a horrific idea. But here's a twist you might not think about.
Evidence such as DNA matching is functionally "sourceless," since even if you were provided complete documentation on it, you still couldn't understand it: unless you're already an expert, you have no common-sense way to judge whether it's valid or not.
Allowing the government to introduce evidence without accounting for it _at all_ goes light-years beyond the incomprehensibly esoteric: it gives the government carte blanche to just frame you. They can hang anything on you.
A government spy could sign up for Hotmail, say, using your name, send messages in which "you" describe plans to blow up Tipper Gore or give away crack rocks instead of candy on Halloween, and then introduce printouts of those messages into court as evidence. Remember: if this law passes, the government doesn't have to say where it comes from or how it got it.
But wait. There's more. Consider: why go to all the trouble of making up loaded questions and handpicking your respondents to produce desired poll results, when you can simply make up flamboyantly manifest bullshit such as "70% of Americans support more gun control," and the collaborator media will report your lies as Gospel?
Likewise, why tax the abilities of some ATF operator who isn't smart enough to learn not to draw his sidearm with his finger on the trigger by requiring him to perform actual online tasks? You'll only wind up emailing death threats to Tipper with an @atfhq.atf.treas.gov" return address.
You can make them up. You can make anything up and introduce it into evidence against your chosen victim. You can convict anyone, of anything, at will.
That's what it means when the government gets to introduce "evidence" without even having to make up a good lie as to where it comes from, folks.
But of course, I'm just being a wild-eyed conspiracy nut again. Our government would never do any such thing. Any more than it would launch a war of aggression against a non-hostile nation to prevent the Chief Executive from being busted for selling secrets to the Red Chinese, or burn scores of law-abiding Americans to death in their own home and cover up the evidence afterwards.
You got me.
--- Victor Mil·n <mailto:email@example.com> The great distinction: A conservative is a socialist who worships order. A liberal is a socialist who worships safety. ### Sent with permission Excerpted via issue #56 September 30, 1999 THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE is available at
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