On the News With Thom Hartmann: The Obama Administration Wants to Give Police the Power to Search Your Cell Phone Without a Warrant, and More

In today’s On the News segment: The Obama administration thinks that your cell phone is a “suspicious object,” and wants to give police officers the power to search it without a warrant; right-wing billionaires are doing their best to try to sabotage Obamacare before it comes into effect; Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority just issued the gravest Fukushima nuclear warning in years; and more.


Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. On Wednesday, Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison. The Court also reduced his rank to Private, stripped him of all pay, and issued him a dishonorable discharge. Manning will get credit for 1,294 days for time served. Ben Wizner, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy & Technology Project said, “When a soldier who shared information with the press and public is punished far more harshly than others who tortured prisoners and killed civilians, something is seriously wrong with our justice system.” Wizner added, “A legal system that doesn’t distinguish between leaks to the press in the public interest, and treason against the nation, will not only produce unjust results, but will deprive the public of critical information that is necessary for democratic accountability. Today is a tragic day for Bradley Manning, and it’s tragic, as well for everyone in American – who need our brave whistleblowers and a fully free press protected in order to have an important and educated public debate.” Bradley Manning, who helped expose crimes, will be imprisoned, while Bush, Cheney and Tony Blair, who began a war of aggression, have their freedom to live as millionaires.

In screwed news… The Obama administration thinks that your cell phone is a “suspicious object,” and wants to give police officers the power to search it without a warrant – whether you’re arrested for jaywalking or terrorism. According to The Washington Post, the administration filed a brief with the Supreme Court earlier this summer asking the justices to reconsider a decision made by the First Circuit Court of Appeals back in May. The case involves a Massachusetts man named Brima Wurie, who was arrested in 2007 for selling crack cocaine. When the police had Wurie in custody – they took possession of his cell phone. When it began receiving calls from a contact labeled “My House,” police opened the phone – took down the number connected with the “My House” contact, and tracked it to a nearby house. There they found weapons, drugs, and money. Wurie was originally sentenced to over 262 months in prison, but in May, the First Circuit Court of Appeals overturned his conviction. The Court said that police had violated Wurie’s fundamental Fourth Amendment right to privacy when they opened his cell phone and tracked down the “My House” contact. The Fourth Amendment says – quite simply: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched.” It appears that with this appeal, the Obama administration is trying weasel its way into legalizing warrantless searches on ALL cellphones. You’d expect this sort of thing from Richard Nixon or Dick Cheney, but not the man who spent his entire first presidential campaign bashing the Bush administration for shredding the Constitution. And, the scariest and saddest thing of all is that this Supreme Court – this Roberts Court – is so corporate-friendly and so right-wing, that it might just buy the Obama administration’s argument and legalize warrantless cell phone searches. If so – we can kiss yet another Constitutional liberty good-bye.

In the best of the rest of the news…

A Spokeperson from Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) just issued the gravest Fukushima nuclear warning in years. The warning concerned the severity of a toxic radioactive water leak at the Fukushima nuclear plant. This emerging crisis at the Fukushima plant has been upgraded from a level 1 “anomaly” to a level three “serious incident.” This is the first time Japan has issued a warning on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES) since the three reactor meltdowns. We should be watching this situation carefully, and we should just say NO! to nukes.

Obamacare insurance exchanges open up on October 1st and the rest of the law’s major provisions kick into gear in January. In the meantime, right-wing billionaires like Dick Armey, and the people who fund Americans for Prosperity, are doing their best to try to sabotage the law before it comes into effect. As Brian Beutler of Salon pointed out in a new article, a series of right-wing groups – including Americans for Prosperity, are organizing campaigns to get young Americans to “Just Say No to Obamacare” The new healthcare law – of course – needs young, healthy people to buy into insurance plans, so that the risk pool contains young, healthy Americans, as well as older people, and those with preexisting conditions. Many Americans think Republicans are trying to sabotage Obamacare because they know it’s going to work. Why else would they try to hit at the law’s core – the individual mandate – if they didn’t think it be a success?

And finally… Well – You’ve heard of Fenway Franks – you’ve heard of Dodger Dogs – but did you know that now you can buy a “Carlos Danger Dog?” Earlier this month, Illinois-based Thrushwood Farms Quality Meats, and Orlando-based entrepreneur Randal Richards, launched their new joint venture – Carlos Danger, LLC. The company’s signature product is the Danger Dog – and its namesake is the digital alter ego of New York City’s – uh – hardest campaigner: the one and only Anthony Weiner. Danger Dogs are 100 percent real beef, and they are advertised as the one brand of hot dogs that’s “on everyone’s lips.” According to the Carlos Danger, LLC website – you can do pretty much everything you want with a Danger Dog. The company encourages its customers to “Jerk it with a Jerk spice, plump it, pull it or just figure it out on your own.” Sounds like fun! The only problem is that unlike the real Carlos Danger’s weiner – these novelty Carlos Danger weiners – well – they aren’t Kosher…

And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, August 21, 2013. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.