Author Archives: Jessica Poarch

Red Cross Rules Syria is in Civil War

by Jessica Poarch

The following excerpt/quote is from an article that appeared in the TheGuardian.com on July 15, 2012 titled: Bashar al-Assad cold face prosecution as Red Cross rules Syria is in civil war – Declaration signals that Geneva-based organisation regards all civilians and detainees as protected under international law

“The ICRC ruling marks a significant moment in the Syrian uprising, which during the past year has changed from a series of anti-regime protests into a full-blown insurrection. It had previously said that localised states of civil war existed in Homs, Hama and Idlib. The ICRC is considered to be a guardian of the Geneva convention, which prescribes the rules of warfare. The declaration signals that the Geneva-based organisation regards all civilians and detainees as protected under international law.

Alexis Heeb, an ICRC spokesman in Geneva, said: “Now there are many places in Syria that fulfil requirements to be a called a non-international armed conflict, and the situation is fluid and constantly evolving.

‘What matters is that humanitarian law applies across the country, and that means civilians and those no longer taking part in the conflict are protected.’

Read the full story HERE  [http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/15/syria-civil-war-red-cross?cid=nlc-dailybrief-daily_news_brief-link4-20120716]

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“Sen. Paul proposes bill protecting Americans from drone surveillance” but is it Necessary?

by Jessica Poarch

This morning The Hill reported that on Tuesday Senator Paul introduced a bill that would require the Government to obtain a warrant before using Drones to conduct surveillance. This bill, entitled ‘‘Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act of 2012,’’ prohibits the government from using drones to “gather evidence or other information pertaining to criminal conduct or conduct in violation of a statute or regulation except to the extent authorized in a warrant that satisfies the requirements of the Fourth Amendment….” (Sec 3) There are some exceptions to this requirement, mainly that a warrant is not needed for boarder surveillance, if there are exigent circumstances, or if there is a high risk of a terrorist attack based on “credible intelligence.” (Sec 4). If the Government fails to comply with this requirement, the evidence obtained can not be used in Court. (Sec 6).

In my opinion, this bill should be put in a pile with the rest of the election seasons ploys to play on the Nations sensitivities and garner votes. First, unless Drones are equipped with advanced x-ray and audio technology, this bill is a misapplication of the 4th Amendment. The 4th Amendment only applies to unwarranted government intrusion into a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy.  Activity undertaken in the open (i.e. visible from the air) does not receive protection. This would be no different than law enforcement officials sitting across the street with a high powered camera.

If Drone technology has advanced far enough to allow law enforcement officials to take x-ray images of the inside of buildings or record conversations that occur in buildings, then the 4th Amendment likely already provides protection as this case would be closely analogousness to currently controlling case law (ex: Katz, 389 U.S. 347 , providing 4th Amendment protection to a conversation in a public phone booth because Katz closed the phone booth door clearly intending to have a private conversation).

I too have concerns over allowing law enforcement officials to use Drones for ordinary crime control; however, a bill such as the one discussed above does not, in my opinion, provide any additional protection or truly address any privacy concerns. If Congress is truly concerned about law enforcement overstepping its bonds with the use of Drone technology it should find a more effective means to prevent it, such as tightening its purse strings and restricting the financial resources available for this form of surveillance.

The full Article: http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/232489-sen-paul-proposes-bill-protecting-americans-from-drone-surveillance

The Bill: http://thehill.com/images/stories/blogs/flooraction/jan2012/s3287.pdf