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They say politics makes strange bedfellows. It looks like egregious, possibly illegal invasions of privacy do, too. “The National Rifle Association on Wednesday filed an amicus brief in federal court supporting an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit challenging a government phone-tracking program that collects the telephone records of millions of Americans.”  To no one’s surprise, the primary concern that motivated the NRA to throw in with the ACLU is the potential for the .gov to cobble together a list of gun owners . . .

The NRA argues in the brief that it would be “absurd” to think that Congress would take steps to prevent the creation of a national gun registry while simultaneously allowing the NSA to gather records that “could effectively create just such a registry.”

“If programs like those currently justified by the government’s interpretation are allowed to continue and grow unchecked, they could also—contrary to clear congressional intent—undo decades of legal protection for the privacy of Americans in general, and of gun owners in particular,” the brief states.

They’re also worried that the prospect (likelihood?) of boffins at Ft. Meade listening in would provide a disincentive for the NRA’s membership to contact them via phone, email…anything short of carrier pigeon.

The brief argues that the National Security Agency’s phone records collection program could “allow identification of NRA members, supporters, potential members, and other persons with whom the NRA communicates, potentially chilling their willingness to communicate with the NRA.”

Other brief filers include such luminaries as Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Fox Television Stations, Courthouse News Service, The McClatchy Company and The E.W. Scripps Company. All of which are no doubt thrilled to be counted in the same company as the nation’s leading gun rights org.

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  1. Occasionally the ACLU does something useful. This reminds me a number of occasions when Congressman Bob Barr worked with them. Strange bedfellows indeed.

    As always, I’m in favor of any lawsuit or legislation that restricts Government power. Good for the NRA; and I suppose the ACLU as well.

    • I couldn’t agree more. This country needs an immediate return to limited government – the principle(s) upon which it was founded. These days, politicians are trying to reform our once great nation into a socialist / fascist police state which gives many freedoms to government whilst simultaneously restricting those same freedoms for the citizenry it allegedly serves. Many of our dim – witted voters and Obama supporters would gladly trade freedom for the illusion of safety. Not me.

    • ACLU does “something useful” all the time, if you care about more rights and freedoms than just what is protected by 2A.

      • Absolutely correct, int19h. The ACLU is a pro-freedom organization. They are the “NRA” for freedom of religion, speech, assembly, for the right for a fair and speedy trial, for due process. Their work is every bit as important as the NRA’s.

  2. The fact is that, by sheer virtue of their name, the ACLU should be doing the job of the NRA since the right to bear arms is a fundamentally protected civil liberty.

      • In fact, I have a picture somewhere in all my debris of a poster the ACLU published in the 1991 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights.

        This poster by the ACLU explicitly omitted the Second Amendment, but had all the other nine amendments. I found this in the Palo Alto, CA public library at the time.

        Whenever Bay Area liberals would demand in the 90’s why I, such a staunch defender of civil liberties, didn’t belong to the ACLU, I’d whip out this photograph of the ACLU and demand to know why I should join an organization that liked to edit the Bill of Rights in such a stalinesque manner.

        They invariably had no reply.

    • ACLU is the American Civil Liberties Union, not the American Constutitional Liberties Union. Their definition of “civil right” does not have to follow that of the law, and the disagree with you and me on the right to keep and bear arms. That is okay – we have NRA, SAF etc – so long as they do not try to push their definition onto other people, or lobby for it to be recognized in the law. Which they do not.

      I honestly don’t understand the hostility towards ACLU among gun folk. They’re not “anti 2A” in any sense, they’re just completely neutral with respect to it – they don’t try to protect it, but they don’t try to get rid of it, either.

      • Many of our fellow gun-rights supporters just don’t seem to care as much for the rest of the Bill of Rights, which the ACLU has defended for many years.

  3. Association of Communist Lawyers Union,

    What is the difference between a catfish and an ACLU lawyer?

    One is a cold blooded scum sucking bottom dweller living in darkness; the other is a fish.

    • Hey, hey, hey now. Most of the time it’s easiest to influence the way people and groups think by showing that you agree with them in at least some ways. I don’t agree with 99.5% of what the ACLU does, but on this issue they are right and the NRA joining with them shows that everybody has a concern for privacy.

      Will this alliance change the ACLU that much though? I hope, but the odds are against us.

      • 99% of what ACLU does is protecting freedom of speech, separation of church and state, and human right to privacy. You do not agree with some or all of these?

        • the constitution does not support the separation of church and state. it does support there can’t be an established state run church. I wish people would get this right. this has been misused and abused misunderstood too much .please get it right.

  4. So where is the amicus brief from our esteemed Editor In Chief and legal eagle Mr. Farago. Surely the NSA trolls (not to mention DOJ, FBI & HSA) must be keeping track of dissident websites like TTAG for national security reasons. This place absolutely reeks of rebellion against authority on a daily basis. Can’t let that go on unchecked now can we?

      • Accur81… You’re tough! Don’t get me wrong, I’m mostly pissed that I didn’t catch the errant punctuation until AFTER you pointed it out, but still…. “Tough room!”

        • I’ve been called the nicest cop in the world, and the biggest a$$hole in the world. On the same shift, no less. (Maybe both people were right?)

          I give DS a hard time, but I think he’s awesome. My spelling, grammar, and punctuation takes the occasional nosedive – especially after a few scotches.

        • I’ve been called the nicest cop in the world, and the biggest a$$hole in the world.

          I don’t see any contradiction. 🙂

        • I believe that there are some people who, if you call them an “a$$hole,” you’re insulting the human anus.

    • More likely that website monitor is assigned to the FBI. Then tasked with extracting URL for visitors and then locating name/address from public databases.

      If you parse the NSA statements they don’t say they are not saving/recording phone/email/cell conversations. They say they are saving “Meta” data and “very rarely” looking at it. I throw the BS card on that. They don’t look at it, until they do.

      I”ll theorize that the big black server farm in Utab is for storing EVERYTHING. (And multiple redundent backup facilities located ___________.) Think Sam can’t afford the storage??? But they certainly won’t look at/search the files. Until they do.

      • Yeah, “meta” data. That’s everything about the email except the content. Which is about three times as much info, like the routing path to the server, where it came from, which servers it went through when it was wending its way from there to here, everything about the dang message except the words themselves.

        But that’s still three or five times as much raw data than the content. What do they care what you’re saying? They already know it’s “subversive.” With metadata, they can tell who you’re talking to and who’s talkng to you. See if your mail program has a “view source” option. It could be interesting.

    • I have almost no doubt that three-letter agencies have identified and recorded our IP numbers, addresses, and our real names. We have registered ourselves. All of us who applied for a state carry permit registered ourselves as owners of handguns. All of us who made internet purchases of ammunition registered ourselves. Do we really believe the Post Office isn’t recording the names and addresses of people receiving American Rifle Magazine or that the spooks haven’t already hacked into the NRA members database? There already exists a registry of gun owners, except for a small minority of (perhaps smarter but yellower) gun owners who kept off the grid. But I don’t care. I won’t hide away and won’t stop expressing myself publicly any more than I will surrender my gun.

  5. There has to be a tracking cookie on this site. There was one on survivalblog awhile ago. Rawles might be crazier than the TTAG editors, but still in the same arena.

    • I keep trying to tell you guys, this hosts file will block tracking cookies before they even get into your computer. I have no financial, or other interest in it other than I just find it way cool that it’s possible to do such a thing and it’s so simple to do that I can’t understand why everybody doesn’t leap at it.

      Is it the same as the “I hate the ACLU except on gun rights” thing? That just because I believe in Liberty that I couldn’t possibly have anything of value to offer? I mean, if you want to continue to deal with tracking cookies and spam ads, and spend money on third-party bloatware, and if the editors want to keep vetting ads the hard way, then go ahead, but when I find something this good, I feel impelled to share it.

      Either way, it’s no skin off my teeth.

      Like I said, I believe in Freedom, and that includes the Freedom to be stubborn, or silly, or stupid, or whatever you want to as long as you don’t interfere with other people’s right to do the same.

  6. Hearkens me back to the NSA ECHELON motto: NSA – We read your mail so you don’t have to.

    Nothing new, just bigger and more illegal.

  7. Meh on being on some vague gov’t lists for visiting TTAG…just buy yourself an NFA item(s) and at least get a benefit for being on their lists.

    If you’re going to get muddy anyway, you might as well roll around in it.

  8. In an ideal world we wouldn’t even need the NRA because the ACLU should be defending all (actual) civil rights instead of advancing progressive nonsense.

  9. Strange bedfellows? Maybe. It’s possible the ACLU had a temporary lapse into sanity. Still, it’s quite an accomplishment to anger the entire political spectrum.

  10. Only one other group in America pisses people off more than the NRA and that is the ACLU. Next on the list is the NAACP and then maybe the NCAA.

  11. I think the best way to deal with the NSA, GCHQ (for the Brits), and ASIO/ASIS (for the Aussies) is to bore them with bull$h!t. Some apparatchik has to check all this if it gets flagged. Just try to make it the most boring and tedious job possible.

  12. People who support the Bill of Rights really ought to be both NRA members and ACLU members. Unfortunately, some gun-rights supporters, especially on the far right, don’t like the Bill of Rights as much as they pretend.

    When the ACLU fights for the right of a student to wear a National Rifle Association shirt to school, “Well,” say the right-wingers, “at least they got something correct. That student has a right to free speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment.” But if another student wears a shirt declaring, “I’m Proud to be Gay,” then the right-wingers forget all about the First Amendment. When the ACLU defends the gay student’s right to free speech, the right-wingers jump up and down whining that the ACLU is undermining American values. Puzzling. Illogical. Inconsistent. Hypocritical.


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