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Going Through the Garbage

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the taking-out-the-trash dept.

Privacy 730

frankejames writes "This is a very funny piece on how Portland politicians said it was okay for police to seize a citizen's garbage without a search warrant. But when some reporters swiped their garbage (and reported the contents!) they screamed foul play! Read Portland's top brass said it was OK to swipe your garbage--so we grabbed theirs."

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hey assholes (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4990727)

1st post from Spain! fuck english faggots up their buggered apart arseholes!

Re:hey assholes (-1)

Fecal Troll Matter (445929) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990734)

This joke has gone too far.
This joke has gone too far.
This joke has gone too far.
This joke has gone too far.
In a big way
In a lotta ways
In a big way
No one knows...
In a big way
In a lotta ways
It's all downhill from here.
Oh it's ALL downhill...

Fuck The Police (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4990847)

Facist assholes.
if you dont look like a yuppie they fuck with you.

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4990736)

fp

First! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4990738)

Yuo is all my biotches! Spanky and Cheopys ownz0rs you all!! Ra!

ps. I've the smelly butt!

cooked? (1)

nunya_biznez (527963) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990741)

sounds like a goose and gander scenario to me

Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4990744)

Goose for Gander, yar.

confused... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4990745)

I thought once u put ur garbage out for pickup then it was legal for anyone to take it....

Re:confused... (2, Informative)

PsychoElf (571371) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990753)

Depends on the state. But most states its illegal. It is still that persons property till the trash man takes it. Then it becomes the property of the trash company.

Re:confused... (1)

Shuck (218188) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990766)

Not so. Around here, San Luis Obispo, CA. There was a bum who got arrested for taking cans from the curb-side recycling bins. Something about the cans being property of the garbage company. Probably same thing with trash.

Re:confused... (2, Informative)

BigDish (636009) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990788)

I wouldn't assume because the cans are their property, the trash is also. The cans are designed to be re-used, and just like taking a mailbox would be theft, so would taking the cans The trash, on the other hand, is discarded. From my previous research, as far as I know in about 99% of cases taking trash is legal. If you are asked to leave, you should though, as at that point if you do not leave, it becomes tresspassing.

Re:confused... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4990844)

I think he means soda cans, so the bum is taking garbage from the thrash, not taking the garbage cans.

Re:confused... (5, Insightful)

pavera (320634) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990811)

It might be legal for anyone to take it,
I think the biggest issue here is in using that trash as *evidence* in an investigation, who's to say it's actually *your* trash?? I throw garbage in other people's trash all the time, if I throw some some drug residue in there, and the cops confiscate it, they can prosecute the home owner for possession?? That is not a good thing.

Re:confused... (2, Interesting)

PsychoElf (571371) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990870)

In Tennessee its not legal to go through and take someones trash. I work at a retail store and just an hour ago we caught someone going through our trash. We got their license # and reported it to the police because it is considered theft. It is our property till we pay someone else to take it from us. Just because it sits in a container doesnt mean it's free game.

Re:confused... (1)

badasscat (563442) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990884)

I think the biggest issue here is in using that trash as *evidence* in an investigation, who's to say it's actually *your* trash??

Your address on a mailing label probably helps. If I'm a cop looking for evidence of child porn possession, and I find an envelope with a known child pornographer's prints with your mailing address on it in the garbage, and I find fibers from photo paper in that envelope, I then have a pretty good case to search your house. And there's no point arguing it's not your garbage.

Scary? Only if you're the guy with the child porn. I'll take my chances with the cops vs. taking my chance with some dumb reporter posting my credit card bill in a newspaper.

what revelence? This is about first post! (-1, Offtopic)

quiklilo71 (557049) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990746)

Have a great new year. go outside.

Yes!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4990747)

Fight fire with fire.

Way to go folks...

Good Lord! (4, Funny)

tempest303 (259600) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990748)

Only 4 troll posts so far, and already their webserver has melted!

Are they being hosted by that "webserver-on-a-gameboy" guy, or what?

Re:Good Lord! (0)

questionlp (58365) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990765)

It's probably running off of solar power... and it isn't sunny out here right now.

It's funny, laugh! :)

Re:Good Lord! (2, Funny)

Stroman Rebar (567206) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990804)

Yeah, but to be fair, they were running it on a gameboy advanced.

uh oh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4990749)

It's normally legal to swipe peoples' garbage? Guess I better send that organ I swiped off to the city dump. (It honestly doesn't sound all that bad, just smells funky)

MY ORGAN SMELLS FUNKY TOO [NT] (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4990885)

No text.

Anthro (5, Interesting)

andyrut (300890) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990750)

There's a whole division of physical anthropology dedicated to the study of people's garbage. Basically, a scientist goes door to door and asks people questions about their consumer habits (how many beers do you drink a week?). Later, they go dumpster diving to verify the survey questions.

The lying on these surveys is astounding.

Re:Anthro (5, Insightful)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990784)

It's also pointless. I could buy a case of beer to drink over the next three months, and only when I'm done will I throw the case out. I could claim that I drink only one beer a week, but if you happen to search my garbage the week I throw out my case, you'd think I was an alcoholic.

I could also host a party for people who drink, even though I don't.

Yes, these are just examples, but they illustrate that the survey technique is fundamentally flawed.

Slashdotted already (1)

!Squalus (258239) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990751)

Damn Lag! Can't get that story for a day or so, I guess.. the slashdot effecct took hold already!

Need to pulverize all garbage... (5, Insightful)

dagg (153577) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990754)

Ok. So I need to delete all of the data on my hard drive at least 7 times before it is *really* deleted, and now I need to pulverize all real life garbage just to make sure the cops (or reporters, or neighbors) don't use it as evidence? Jeesh.

Re:Need to pulverize all garbage... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4990800)

Or you coule delete it once with This [deletepro.com]

Re:Fraud? (2, Informative)

John Hurliman (152784) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990871)

Yes, but you can buy a good paper shredder (the kind that dices it up into little squares) for pretty cheap these days.

Re:Need to pulverize all garbage... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4990877)

nope... just do what everyone in rural america has done for thousands of years...

burn it.

they cant read what you have burned, buried or spread on the driveway.

Sonuvabitch! (0, Offtopic)

Anonvmous Coward (589068) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990756)

Earthquakes, family killers, terrorist camps, crashing helicopters, missing girls...

Oregon just can't stay out of the news. HELLO? We got this big crazy state just south of us! Go report on them!!

Re:Sonuvabitch! (2)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990812)

"Oregon just can't stay out of the news. HELLO? We got this big crazy state just south of us! Go report on them!!"

You left out our criminal basketball players! (TrailBlazers...)

Heh yeah that was off-topic, but it's funny if you're from Oregon.

We have some really amusing political situations here. That's really all this is. I wouldn't worry too much about people's rights being heavily affected by it.

Re:Sonuvabitch! (3, Interesting)

aftk2 (556992) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990855)

Heh...and don't forget breast-grabbing, pregnant-woman-exposing airport security workers. [lewrockwell.com] This story about Portland International Airport has been spreading like wildfire; another blow to my already beleaguered state.

hypocrites (5, Insightful)

juan2074 (312848) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990759)

Surprise! Government officials are hypocritical.

How often do they consider how it would feel if these laws were applied to them?

Will the government officials who enacted the USA PATRIOT act ever have to really be subjected to the same things they allowed to be done to us?

If you... (3, Insightful)

craenor (623901) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990760)

Really cared about the security of your garbage, you wouldn't set it on the curb so a guy who makes $7.50 an hour can come by and take it with him.

Re:If you... (5, Informative)

pavera (320634) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990771)

Garbage men get paid a heck of alot more than that,
they actually make like 25-30/hour, at least in Nevada they do.

Re:If you... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4990901)

Agreed, its the same in NY. I hate these people whose logic is so ass-backward. Just because they sling trash for a living doesn't mean they make little money. Infact, you seem to asume that because its a crappy job they would be paid a low salsry. Infact, thats the reason they make decent money. Do YOU want to pickup trash for a living?

As for lowing paying jobs in general, how differnt would your life be without them? Have you thought about that? Chances are your daily life would turn upside down if these people did not show up to work one day. So, take a moment to thank the people smarter than you for invetning things like trains, planes & automobiles and thank those not as fortunate as you for pumping your gas, flipping your burgers and stocking the food at your local grocery store.

They have every right (-1, Troll)

unterderbrucke (628741) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990764)

"police to seize a citizen's garbage without a search warrant. But when some reporters swiped their garbage (and reported the contents!) they screamed foul play!"

Because being a policeman myself, I know that by the time a search warrant is signed off by a judge and executed (around a week), the trash will be long gone. So, the policeman have a perfectly valid arguement.

The councilman have every right to call foul play, because the police are an investigation bureaucracy devoted to helping people (legally), while the reporters are going through garbage in order to report what bills the councilman paid last week (illegally).

Wheter the reporters were trying to make a point or not, they still broke the law.

Re:They have every right (1)

juan2074 (312848) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990780)

What law did the reporters break?

Re:They have every right (2, Funny)

Jardine (398197) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990805)

I think that's the "do as I say, not as I do" law.

Re:They have every right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4990845)

The law that says "Citizens can't go through peoples garbage, but police can."

Re:They have every right (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4990792)

So your arguement boils down to: Its alright for the police to do it and not other people BECAUSE it takes too long to go through due process.

Brillant arguement...

Re:They have every right (5, Informative)

Detritus (11846) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990793)

What law? By putting your trash at the curb, you relinquish ownership. Anyone can legally take it. Police officers do not have special rights in this area.

Re:They have every right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4990856)

Not in Portland buddy.
How would you like it if I went through your trash every week and published all your cancelled checks, love notes, hate speech you printed out from the web, and your CD-R's with dirty movies?

Re:They have every right (1)

SirKron (112214) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990892)

My neighbor was cutting his grass, ran out of gas on his weed whacker and put it down by his mail box. By the time he came back with the gas can someone had already taken it. Therefore, by your logic they were not stealing.

In this case, my other neighbor witnessed the incident and got the license plate number of the offender.

Re:They have every right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4990815)

What a great argument. Shouldn't you be out patrolling Springfield right now?

Re:They have every right (2, Insightful)

bobthemuse (574400) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990820)

I completely disagree, as in your example your as assuming that the judge will approve the warrant. The police could go throw the garbage, have the warrant refused, and say 'Oh well, we already have the evidence and it was obtained legally'. Why not work on shortening the time required instead of giving more leeway to the police?

Re:They have every right (-1, Troll)

unterderbrucke (628741) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990895)

"Why not work on shortening the time required instead of giving more leeway to the police?"

Some people just don't have an incentive to work quickly, and in this case the judge doesn't have an incentive. In fact, if he hurries the process he could end up approving a warrant for a wrong person, which happened once with me.

It was Thanksgiving week, so we were waiting for a lot of warrants to be approved and the judge was only in for two days out of the normal five. We were out to get a Mafia hitman, and the judge wrote the wrong name and address on the warrant. Needless to say, we showed up at the address and name on the warrant (we didn't know any better, we we just muscle for the detective on the case), and we found a 75 year old grandmother in tears because she thought she was going to jail for tax evasion.

Also, government doesn't take well to being told to speed up. Remember how when you first got your drivers license it took you an hour and a half to get through all the DMV paperwork? Now, remember when you renewed your license and it took the same time as it did as when you first got your license?

Re:They have every right (5, Insightful)

Simon Brooke (45012) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990827)

Because being a policeman myself, I know that by the time a search warrant is signed off by a judge and executed (around a week), the trash will be long gone. So, the policeman have a perfectly valid arguement.

The councilman have every right to call foul play, because the police are an investigation bureaucracy devoted to helping people (legally), while the reporters are going through garbage in order to report what bills the councilman paid last week (illegally).

Being a policeman yourself, you'll know that a policeman without a warrant is just a citizen like any other, and if it's good and leagal for you it's good and legal for anyone else.

Re:They have every right (5, Insightful)

bahwi (43111) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990891)

I believe in Dallas the new chief of police earned some respect from the citizens around here by arresting city employees, policemen, and firemen for unpaid tickets, etc. etc.

If there is a problem with Judge's taking two weeks to sign a search warrant, then there is a problem with the judge and the system, not a reason to create 'special rights' for people who should not be considered 'special people.'

Just my 2c.

Re:They have every right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4990835)

What law? The basic argument the police/court used was that anything on the curb was public/abandoned and therefore free game. If that is true anyone can take possesion of any garbage/thing sitting on the curb and use it as they wish.

Re:They have every right (5, Interesting)

nick this (22998) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990846)

I have to call foul on this one.

Either the garbage, once placed on the curb, is the private property of the owner (in which case the police must get a warrant) or it is not. If it is not the private property of the owner, then it must be legal for a private citizen to paw through. Period. Those are the only two alternatives. The idea that it's okay for police to paw through it without a warrant but not for private citizens is bullshit.

I really don't give a damn if it makes it difficult for policemen to do their job. Thats how it is. We are supposed to be a freedom-loving country. I'll agree that it would be nice if the job of the police could be made easier without restricting citizens civil rights. But it can't. And I won't give up my liberties to make it easier for police to do their jobs. I just won't.

Its un-American. By doing things like this (Patriot act, anyone?) we devalue the price American citizens paid to secure those liberties. They paid with their lives. Don't be so quick to throw that away.

Grumble.

Re:They have every right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4990850)

Shouldn't you be pistol whipping some niggers now?

Re:They have every right (1)

Malicious (567158) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990854)

Just because the police are Trying to get a warrant, doesn't mean they will.
What ever happened to Innocent until proven guilty? How would you like the police going through your trash, if you were innocent?

Re:They have every right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4990864)

So policemen are now "above the law" and allowed to go through people's trash even without a warrant? That warrant is just a "formality" I guess, not part of some kind of legal process. Yes, the police are supposed to be devoted to helping people, but as we all know that doesn't happen 100% of the time. That's why checks and balances like the warrant process were enacted.

Hear that sucking sound kids? Those are your civil rights being tossed into the abyss by your friendly police personnel.

Re:They have every right (1)

-jaded- (33744) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990865)

Because being a policeman myself, I know that by the time a search warrant is signed off by a judge and executed (around a week), the trash will be long gone. So, the policeman have a perfectly valid arguement.

Clearly this is being done for a good cause so what do we care that the police and other government agences no longer have to abide by the same laws as public citizens? Doesn't anyone understand that we need to relinquish some of our liberties so that we can be secure in our homes? Isn't the loss of a single legal standard for all citizens a small price to pay for easier evidence gathering by governmental agencies? After all, if it makes us safer, how could it be bad?

I'll leave the appropriate Thomas Jefferson quote as an exercise for the reader.

Re:They have every right (5, Interesting)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990868)

If you are a cop they why do you have the following posted in your Journal?

"There is a kid at my school who has a badge on his backpack (attached with a safety pin) with the words "Superjew" on it. What should I do?"

Doesn't sound like much of a cop to me.

Re:They have every right (3, Interesting)

avandesande (143899) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990874)

I agree to a point. I think the police should be able to seize the garbage and then search it if they obtain a search warrent. I don't think this would be much different than towing a suspects car, and then searching it later with warrent.

because the police are an investigation bureaucracy devoted to helping people
I am sure that whomevers privacy is being violated could care less which bureaucracy is doing it, and what their intentions are!

Re:They have every right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4990875)

Now come now, you know very well that just because you have an excuse does not make it legal.
Cops have a perfectly good excuse to beat up and butt-rape (with broomhandles) criminals but that does not make it legal.

helping people? yeah right! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4990876)

more like harrasing and beating people up. this just goes to show you assume you can do what you want. like others have said, youre assuming youll get a warrent.
man, you should just find a job where you arnt fucking with people all the time.

Re:They have every right (1)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990878)

Because being a policeman myself, I know that by the time a search warrant is signed off by a judge and executed (around a week), the trash will be long gone. So, the policeman have a perfectly valid arguement.

So... We need a better warrant system. Good to know, let's work on it.

The councilman have every right to call foul play, because the police are an investigation bureaucracy devoted to helping people (legally), while the reporters are going through garbage in order to report what bills the councilman paid last week (illegally).

And therefore the police can ignore the rules? Ok, so that's how it works in the movies, but I'm nervious about applying that to real life. Here's the question being asked: can the police confiscate property without warrant or permission? Rules have been passed to allow that in some cases (assets of suspected drug dealers come to mind), but it gives an oportuntity for abuse. (What is garbage? If I set something next to my trash can by my garage is is garbage? How do I prove that diamond necklace was not in my garbage? Do the police have to report they took it if they don't prosecute? How long can they keep it without prosecuting?) A warrant provides a level of accountablity. Accountablity is usually incovienent; tough. That's not its point.

Which ignores the whole other arugment you made: Prove the police are helping people and the reporter isn't. Prove that I'm not helping people when if I were to go through the councilman's garbage and take what I wanted. Again, a warrant requires a neutral third party to decide beforehand. A sensible idea.

Re:They have every right (5, Interesting)

BWJones (18351) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990879)

Because being a policeman myself, I know that by the time a search warrant is signed off by a judge and executed (around a week), the trash will be long gone. So, the policeman have a perfectly valid argument.

So, your argument is based upon timeframes of achieving due process and getting a warrant? No offense, but I don't think that would stand up in any court of law. In fact, if I recall, precedent has been set by stating anyone who puts their garbage on the sidewalk is relinquishing any ownership.

The councilman have every right to call foul play, because the police are an investigation bureaucracy devoted to helping people (legally),

The problem here is one of giving government authorities more and more access to privacy which some fear may prove to be a problem if governments ever decide they are devoted to self service and not to providing a service to their constituents.

while the reporters are going through garbage in order to report what bills the councilman paid last week (illegally).

And how is this illegal? I agree that it might be irritating, yes, but how is this any different in a legal sense from the police going through garbage? The point of this is that people are trying to illustrate the duplicity of many government policies that are playing off of fear in the current political climate. Total Information Awareness anyone?

Re:They have every right (1)

Disoculated (534967) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990888)

The argument that it's okay for police to do something crummy because they "are an investigation bureaucracy devoted to helping people" doesn't hold water. Many people in the US find the police to be a necessary evil that should be restricted as much as possible.

Despite all these people thinking that "Freedom" is a synonym for US patriotism, what it's REALLY about is not being subject to double standards for the governing and the governed. Convenience for the police is NOT what the US founding fathers fought for, and these councilmen should be ashamed at themselves for having such a double standard.

Re:They have every right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4990893)

Wheter the reporters were trying to make a point or not, they still broke the law.

not....

please quote me the law that states I cant take refuse that you have discarded and put out for disposal.

Sorry but hypocritical cops like you make the world a pain in the ass... it applies to everyone... jsut like the traffic laws apply to you (unlike how police believe that they dont.)

too bad so sad officer power-trip.... I'm looking for your trash to publish now....

Re:They have every right (1)

cballowe (318307) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990896)

you know -- i have mod points right now and I'd almost mod this up, but I want to participate in this discussion.

I'm somewhat reluctant to throw stuff out -- especially junk mail from credit card companies and stuff... i really should get an incinerator ... er... "grill" to deal with the junk mail I get so that I'm not leaking information to easily.

If I really have thrown something out, that means it's garbage and I don't care who takes it, as long as it leaves the curb. There is no expectation of privacy with trash, nor is there, to my knowledge, a law preventing it from being reclaimed by someone else. (One man's trash is another man's treasure!). Dumpster diving the CO is a different matter. Their dumpsters are almost always on private property and they can nail you for trespassing.

Of course, the 4th amendment is where the case of the police doing it lies. But given supreme court rulings, it's probably OK as those protections are generally not held if the person does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Re:They have every right (5, Insightful)

Zwack (27039) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990902)

Because being a policeman myself, I know that by the time a search warrant is signed off by a judge and executed (around a week), the trash will be long gone. So, the policeman have a perfectly valid arguement.

So you are claiming that the police should be allowed to ignore due process because "due process takes too long". Nice argument. Would you like to define "too long" for us. If a week is too long, how about 6 days? 5 days? The point was that the police (in this case) had absolutely no proof before they stole someones garbage and then had some of it analysed. Can I ask the relevance of testing a used sanitary pad for semen? Is being sexually active a crime? If so then I suspect a lot of us are in trouble... So, in this case they stole some garbage (not knowing what was in it) found some evidence and then considered due process. I suspect they didn't wait for a judge to sign a search warrant because any judge in his (or her) right mind would say "you want to search this persons garbage because you think it might contain some evidence to some crime that may have been committed, but you don't actually have any evidence at all. Just some rumours, innuendos and 'hunches'... Go away and come back when you have a clue."

The councilman have every right to call foul play, because the police are an investigation bureaucracy devoted to helping people (legally), while the reporters are going through garbage in order to report what bills the councilman paid last week (illegally).

Huh? The Mayor claimed foul play, the Chief of Police claimed foul play, the City Attorney cracked some jokes... The police (and we are talking Portland Police here) have been shown frequently to not be an "investigation bureaucracy devoted to helping people"... In fact some recently leaked documents show that that same police force performed various illegal investigations into all sorts of innocent citizens. Check the Portland Tribune coverage [portlandtribune.com] of this for details. The reporters did not say what bills were paid last week. They reported the contents of the three "victims" garbage and painted an interesting picture of their lives.

What I found scariest was that the Chief of Police threw internal police memos into his own trash. Surely these should be disposed of in a much more secure manner.

Z.

Small Difference (2, Insightful)

ancukiewiczd (614805) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990769)

Yes... but there's a difference between police swiping your garbage and news reporters swiping your garbage and then publicly reporting it.

Re:Small Difference (4, Insightful)

Cyclometh (629276) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990789)

Yeah. The difference being that the police doing it violates the 4th Amendment to the Constitution if they did it without a search warrant, while the reporters may have violated your right to privacy.

Go ahead, ask me which one I think is worse...

And then think about which one you might have more redress for.

Re:Small Difference (1)

ancukiewiczd (614805) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990802)

But is garbage property? The fourth amendment only mentions property.

Re:Small Difference (5, Insightful)

Cyclometh (629276) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990842)

The 4th Amendment to the US Constitution:

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, and the persons or things to be seized.

Garbage may not be property per se, but it may also be (YMMV by state, I understand). However, the implication is that your "effects" are not to be improperly searched, which includes things you may not own- for example, the police can't search your rented home without a warrant and/or probable cause, even if you don't own the house. You don't necessarily have to own something for it to be protected from search under the 4th Amendment.

Re:Small Difference -- NOT (3)

johnlcallaway (165670) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990890)

Amendment 4 says, and I quote (well, blockquote actually)
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, and the persons or things to be seized.
Lets see, this protects from searching your body, your house and things you own. I don't see things you have thrown away included in here? So, no warrant needed for the garbage bag.

I believe that courts have routinely ruled that once you put your garbage on the street, it isn't yours anymore. IMHO, anybody -- cops, reporters, garbage collects, dumpster divers -- are be free to go through it. I might not like it, but I threw it out. It ain't mine no more.

Re:Small Difference (1)

smokin_juan (469699) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990831)

yeah, cause it really really really sucks when some reporter embarrases the state.

otoh it's no big deal when someone gets thrown in jail because some stupid fuck found a bag of stems and seeds in their garbage.

Re:Small Difference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4990869)

Yes... but there's a difference between police swiping your garbage and news reporters swiping your garbage and then publicly reporting it.


You're absolutely right. Only the former can get people fined, jailed or executed.

Re:Small Difference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4990889)

Yeah, the reporters won't try to put you in jail for what they find.

2600 Mag (5, Insightful)

wilburdg (178573) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990777)

Last issue of 2600 magazine had a four page article dedicated to the art of dumpster diving. Best advice: Bring a bunch of empty boxes in your car, that way, you can tell a police officer that you are helping a friend move, and your just looking for more empty boxes.

Pointdexter (2)

Maskirovka (255712) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990786)

This should be a clue to all pointdexter bashers out there....

do what I do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4990790)

Hey, I *know* people can go through my garbage. I mean, it's just sitting there on the street every week!! That's why I use a cross-cut shredder on all my credit card statements and private stuff.

Also I smear everything with my feces, urine, and semen before putting it in the trash (I keep a bucket and a stack of Playboys next to the garbage can just for this purpose).

Re:do what I do (1)

Darkninja666 (198306) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990809)

LOL...I'd hate to see you the day your late putting out your trash

"Hold on a sec', I just need to finis^AAAAAAHHHHHHH. Here you go, trash man."

Re:do what I do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4990873)

Also I smear everything with my feces, urine, and semen before putting it in the trash

Meaning you smear your DNA on everything that leaves your house. Smart.

I don't get it (0)

Stanley Feinbaum (622232) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990798)

The police can do a lot of things normal citizens cannot. The police can arrest people, beat people, shoot people if neccesary.. doesn't mean that we can. If we expect the police to be able to keep order in society they should be allowed to do certain things that normal people cannot. This looks like a case of bad journalism, and I cry foul over that.

text from site (4, Informative)

Shuck (218188) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990799)

RUBBISH!
Portland's top brass said it was OK to swipe your garbage--so we grabbed theirs.

by CHRIS LYDGATE AND NICK BUDNICK
clydgate@wweek.com
nbudnick@wweek.com

Web-only content:
Vera Katz's press release
Stories that have appeared in other media
KATU
The Oregonian

It's past midnight. Over the whump of the wipers and the screech of the fan belt, we lurch through the side streets of Southeast Portland in a battered white van, double-checking our toolkit: flashlight, binoculars, duct tape, scissors, watch caps, rawhide gloves, vinyl gloves, latex gloves, trash bags, 30-gallon can, tarpaulins, Sharpie, notebook--notebook?

Well, yes. Technically, this is a journalistic exercise--at least, that's what we keep telling ourselves. We're upholding our sacred trust as representatives of the Fourth Estate. Comforting the afflicted, afflicting the comfortable. Pushing the reportorial envelope--by liberating the trash of Portland's top brass.

We didn't dream up this idea on our own. We got our inspiration from the Portland police.

Back in March, the police swiped the trash of fellow officer Gina Hoesly. They didn't ask permission. They didn't ask for a search warrant. They just grabbed it. Their sordid haul, which included a bloody tampon, became the basis for drug charges against her (see "Gross Violation," below).

The news left a lot of Portlanders--including us--scratching our heads. Aren't there rules about this sort of thing? Aren't citizens protected from unreasonable search and seizure by the Fourth Amendment?

The Multnomah County District Attorney's Office doesn't think so. Prosecutor Mark McDonnell says that once you set your garbage out on the curb, it becomes public property.

"She placed her garbage can out in the open, open to public view, in the public right of way," McDonnell told Judge Jean Kerr Maurer earlier this month. "There were no signs on the garbage, 'Do not open. Do not trespass.' There was every indication...she had relinquished her privacy, possessory interest."

Police Chief Mark Kroeker echoed this reasoning. "Most judges have the opinion that [once] trash is put out...it's trash, and abandoned in terms of privacy," he told WW.

In fact, it turns out that police officers throughout Oregon have been rummaging through people's trash for more than three decades. Portland drug cops conduct "garbage pulls" once or twice per month, says narcotics Sgt. Eric Schober.

On Dec. 10, Maurer rubbished this practice. Scrutinizing garbage, she declared, is an invasion of privacy: The police must obtain a search warrant before they swipe someone's trash.

"Personal and business correspondence, photographs, personal financial information, political mail, items related to health concerns and sexual practices are all routinely found in garbage receptacles," Maurer wrote. The fact that a person has put these items out for pick-up, she said, "does not suggest an invitation to others to examine them."

But local law enforcement officials pooh-poohed the judge's decision.

"This particular very unique and very by-herself judge took a position not in concert with the other judges who had given us instruction by their decisions across the years," said Kroeker.

The District Attorney's Office agreed and vowed to challenge the ruling.

The question of whether your trash is private might seem academic. It's not. Your garbage can is like a trap door that opens on to your most intimate secrets; what you toss away is, in many ways, just as revealing as what you keep.

And your garbage can is just one of the many places where your privacy is being pilfered. In the wake of 9/11, the U.S. government has granted itself far-reaching new powers to spy on you, from email to bank statements to video cameras (see "Big Brother's in Your Trash Can," below).

After much debate, we resolved to turn the tables on three of our esteemed public officials. We embarked on an unauthorized sightseeing tour of their garbage, to make a point about how invasive a "garbage pull" really is--and to highlight the government's ongoing erosion of people's privacy.

We chose District Attorney Mike Schrunk because his office is the most vocal defender of the proposition that your garbage is up for grabs. We chose Police Chief Mark Kroeker because he runs the bureau. And we chose Mayor Vera Katz because, as police commissioner, she gives the chief his marching orders.

Each, in his or her own way, has endorsed the notion that you abandon your privacy when you set your trash out on the curb. So we figured they wouldn't mind too much if we took a peek at theirs.

Boy, were we wrong.

Perched in his office on the 15th floor of the Justice Center, Chief Kroeker seemed perfectly comfortable with the idea of trash as public property.

"Things inside your house are to be guarded," he told WW. "Those that are in the trash are open for trash men and pickers and--and police. And so it's not a matter of privacy anymore."

Then we spread some highlights from our haul on the table in front of him.

"This is very cheap," he blurted out, frowning as we pointed out a receipt with his credit-card number, a summary of his wife's investments, an email prepping the mayor about his job application to be police chief of Los Angeles, a well-chewed cigar stub, and a handwritten note scribbled in pencil on a napkin, so personal it made us cringe. We also drew his attention to a newsletter from the conservative political advocacy group Focus on the Family, addressed to "Mr. & Mrs. Mark Kroeker."

"Are you a member of Focus on the Family?" we asked.

"No," the chief replied.

"Is your wife?"

"You know," he said, with a Clint Eastwood gaze, "it's none of your business."

As we explained our thinking, the chief, who is usually polite to a fault, cut us off in midsentence. "OK," he said, suddenly standing up, "we're done."

Hours later, the chief issued a press release complaining that WW had gone through "my personal garbage at my home." KATU promptly took to the airwaves declaring, "Kroeker wants Willamette Week to stay out of his garbage."

If the chief got overheated, the mayor went nuclear. When we confessed that we had swiped her recycling, she summoned us to her chambers.

"She wants you to bring the trash--and bring the name of your attorney," said her press secretary, Sarah Bott.

Actually, we couldn't snatch Katz's garbage, because she keeps it right next to her house, well away from the sidewalk. To avoid trespassing, we had to settle for a bin of recycling left out front.

The day after our summons, Wednesday, Dec. 18, we trudged down to City Hall, stack of newsprint in hand. A gaggle of TV and radio reporters were waiting to greet us, tipped off by high-octane KXL motor-mouth Lars Larson.

We filed into the mayor's private conference room. The atmosphere, chilly to begin with, turned arctic when the mayor marched in. She speared us each with a wounded glare, then hoisted the bin of newspaper and stalked out of the room--all without uttering a word.

A few moments later, her office issued a prepared statement. "I consider Willamette Week's actions in this matter to be potentially illegal and absolutely unscrupulous and reprehensible," it read. "I will consider all my legal options in response to their actions."

In contrast, DA Mike Schrunk was almost playful when we owned up to nosing through his kitchen scraps. "Do I have to pay for this week's garbage collection?" he joked.

We told Schrunk that we intended to report that his garbage contained mementos of his military service. "Don't burn me on that," he implored. "The Marine Corps will shoot me!"

It's worth emphasizing that our junkaeological dig unearthed no whiff of scandal. Based on their throwaways, the chief, the DA and the mayor are squeaky-clean, poop-scooping folks whose private lives are beyond reproach. They emerge from this escapade smelling like--well, coffee grounds.

But if three moral, upstanding, public-spirited citizens were each chewing their nails about the secrets we might have stumbled on, how the hell should the rest of us be feeling?

HAUL OF FAME

Decked out in watch caps and rubber gloves, we are kneeling in a freezing garage and cradling our first major discovery--a five-pound bag of dog poo.

We set it down next to the rest of our haul from District Attorney Mike Schrunk's trash--the remains of Thanksgiving turkey, the mounting stack of his granddaughter's diapers, the bag of dryer lint, the tub of Skippy peanut butter, and the shredded bag of peanut M&Ms.

There is something about poking through someone else's garbage that makes you feel dirty, and it's not just the stench and the flies. Scrap by scrap, we are reverse-engineering a grimy portrait of another human being, reconstituting an identity from his discards, probing into stuff that is absolutely, positively none of our damn business.

It's one thing to revel in the hallowed tradition of muckraking. It's another to get down on your hands and knees and nose through wads of someone else's Kleenex. Is this why our parents sent us to college? So we could paw through orange peels and ice-cream tubs and half-eaten loaves of bread?

And yet, there is also something seductive, almost intoxicating, about being a Dumpster detective. For example, we spot a clothing tag marked "44/Regular." Then we find half of a torn receipt from Meier & Frank for $262.99. Then we find the other half, which reads: "MENS SU 3BTN." String it together, and we deduce that Schrunk plunked down $262.99 for a size-44 three-button suit at Meier & Frank on Saturday, Nov. 16, at 9:35 am.

We are getting to know Portland's top prosecutor from the inside out. Here's an empty bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label. There's a pile of castoff duds from his days as a Marine. Is he going "soft" on terrorism!?

Chinese takeout boxes and junk-food wrappers testify to a busy lifestyle with little time to cook. A Post-it note even lays bare someone's arithmetic skills (the addition is solid, but the long division needs work).

Our haul from Mayor Vera Katz is limited to a stack of newsprint from her recycling bin--her garbage can was well out of reach--but we assemble several clues to her intellectual leanings. We find overwhelming evidence that the Mayor reads The Oregonian, The Washington Post National Weekly Edition, U.S. Mayor and the Portland Tribune.

We also stumble across a copy of TV Click in which certain programs have been circled in municipal red. If we're not mistaken, the mayor has a special fondness for dog shows, figure skating and The West Wing.

Our inspection of Chief Kroeker's refuse reveals that he is a scrupulous recycler. He is also a health nut. We find a staggering profusion of health-food containers: fat-free milk cartons, fat-free cereal boxes, cans of milk chocolate weight-loss shakes, cans of Swanson chicken broth ("99% fat free!"), water bottles, a cardboard box of protein bars, tubs of low-fat cottage cheese, a paper packet of oatmeal, and an article on "How to Live a Long Healthy Life."

At the same time, we find evidence of rust in the chief's iron self-discipline: wrappers from See's chocolate bars, an unopened bag of Doritos, a dozen perfectly edible fun-size Nestle Crunch bars, three empty Coke cans.

We unearth a crate that once contained 12 bottles of Cook's California sparkling wine, but find no trace of the bottles themselves. Is the chief building a pyramid of them on the mantelpiece? We stack the crate beside a pair of white children's socks, a broken pen, the stub of an Excalibur 1066 cigar, burnt toast, a freezer bag of date bars, orange peel, coffee grounds, a cork, an empty film canister (no weed--we checked), eggshells, Q tips, tissue paper and copious quantities of goo.

We uncrumple a holiday flier from the Hinson Memorial Baptist Church, which contains a handwritten note: "Mark. Just want you to know one Latin from Manhattan Loves You."

Invasion of privacy? This is a frontal assault, a D-Day, a Norman Conquest of privacy. We know the chief's credit-card number; we know where he buys his groceries; we know how much toilet tissue he goes through. We know whose Christmas cards he has pitched, whose wedding he skipped, whose photo he threw away. We know what newsletters he gets and how much he's socked away in the stock market. We even know he's thinking about a new car--and which models he's considering.

By the time we tag the last item (a lonesome Christmas tree angel), our noses are running and our gloves are black with gunk. We scrub our hands when we get home. But we still feel dirty. --CL

WHAT WE FOUND

POLICE CHIEF MARK KROEKER

* Empty containers and wrappers: Kodiak Washington pears, Washington "extra fancy" fancy lady peaches, Oasis Floral Foam bricks ("Worth Insisting Upon") (2), Kashi Go Lean! cereal, Sunshine fat-free milk, Kirkland Signature weight-loss shake, fat-free Swanson Chicken Broth, mandarin oranges, Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Arrowhead water bottle, Cook's California sparkling-wine box, fried apples, cheese rolls, Bounty paper towels 15-roll pack, Kirkland facial tissue, 12-pack Dove soap, Quaker oatmeal, See's candy bars, lady's razors, Dentyne Ice chewing gum, Vivant zesty vegetable crackers.

* Hershey's Cookies n Crème mini-bars, uneaten (3).

* Several Oregonian issues, still folded.

* Email correspondence between chief and Mayor Katz's staff in which he preps them on what to tell Los Angeles officials regarding his application to be chief there.

* Rough draft, internal police memo.

* Various cash-register receipts.

* Half-full bag of fun-size Nestle Crunch bars.

* Slice of burnt toast.

* Photocopy of WW Nov. 13 "Murmurs" item on chief, hand-dated in blue pen, reporting scuttlebutt that Katz has "taken over the day-to-day running of the Police Bureau."

* Half-smoked stub of an Excalibur 1066 cigar.

* Paper cups from Starbucks and Torrefazione.

* Pears, lettuce, grapes, bread, eggshells, goo, potato salad, wire hangers, a 75 watt light bulb, orange peels, coffee grounds, wine cork, dish rag, film canister, used Q-Tips.

* Half-eaten protein bar, still in wrapper.

* Newsletter from Focus on the Family, a conservative political group. Insert, addressed to "Mr. & Mrs. Mark Kroeker." Insert asks for "one last year-end contribution."

* Photos of chief and a bare-chested man moving a large appliance.

* Creased wedding photo of a prominent Portlander.

* Broken pen.

* Three envelopes from California, hand-addressed, sent on consecutive days.

* Notice from mortgage company for payment.

* Internet printout of "How to Live a Long Healthy Life."

* Postcard from friend vacationing in Arizona.

* Post-it with notes about a new car.

* Extremely personal note on dinner napkin, handwritten in pencil.

* Account summary from Fidelity Investments for the chief's wife.

MAYOR VERA KATZ

* Trader Joe's "Happy Holidays" paper bag.

* Several issues of The Oregonian.

* Several issues of The Washington Post National Weekly Edition.

* A copy of U.S. Mayor (a monthly magazine devoted to mayors).

* A copy of TV Click. Someone has marked several programs in red, including Wargame: Iraq, Simulated National Security Council meetings, MSNBC; Everwood: Ephram tries to revive his mother's Thanksgiving traditions, KWBP; CSI Miami: A dead man is found hanging from a tree, KOIN; Life with Bonnie on KATU; The West Wing on KGW; The National Dog Show on KGW; Figure skating: ISU Cup of Russia, ESPN; Biography: "Audrey Hepburn, the Fairest Lady," A&E: Figure skating: ICE WARS: USA vs. The World, KOIN.

* Several issues of the Portland Tribune.

* Daily Journal of Commerce from Dec. 3, 2002.

DISTRICT ATTORNEY MIKE SCHRUNK

* Empty containers and wrappers: Cozy Fleece Baby Blanket, Bee Cleaners, Nibblets Corn and Butter, Johnnie Walker Black Label, Fred Meyer unflavored gelatin, Burger King beverage cup and straw, possible Chinese takeout (lots), Dreyer's Mocha Almond Fudge ice cream, Skippy peanut butter (creamy), Land's End, Fred Meyer green beans, Campbell's Chunky New England Clam Chowder with 100-watt bulb inside, Meier & Frank, Jelly Belly jelly beans, Foster Farms boneless and skinless Oregon chicken thighs.

* Coffee grounds.

* Used pekoe tea bags, many.

* Used Christmas napkins, used Kleenex, used Q-Tips.

* Remains of Thanksgiving turkey carcass, drumstick intact.

* Remnants of roast beef.

* Soiled baby diapers.

* Plastic bags containing dog poo, very clean, with some blades of grass (2).

* Bag of dryer lint.

* Christmas wrapping paper.

* Orange peels, empty Millstone coffee bag, containing two very ripe but uneaten bananas, two half-eaten loaves of wheat bread.

* Disposable razors.

* Remnants of peanut M&Ms bag.

* Energizer AA batteries (2), wrapped in plastic bag.

* Shopping lists.

* Baseball cap with crustacean emblem: "DON'T BOTHER ME. I'm CRABBY."

* Baseball cap for Outward Bound.

* Baseball cap with embroidered green fish.

* Military khaki shirts with "SCHRUNK" embroidered on pocket and collar (4).

* Jacket, olive drab, with fading stencils of "USMC" and "Schrunk."

* Yellow Post-it note with sample of someone's arithmetic: The addition is successful (54 + 32 = 86), but the long division of 32 divided by 6 comes up a little bit wide, at 5.4.

Gross Violation
Officer Gina Hoesly has long had less privacy than the average cop, thanks to the Portland Police Bureau's rumor mill.

Hoesly (below), 34, has dated rock musicians, other cops and Portland Trail Blazers. She's had breast implants and once posed for a photo on a website selling motorcycle gear--badpig.com--showing plenty of skin. In 1996, she won a $20,000 settlement from the bureau in a sexual-harassment claim based on behavior by her co-workers. But none of that comes close to the scrutiny she received in March, when fellow officers rifled through her garbage. The evidence they found led to her indictment on charges of possessing ecstasy, cocaine and methamphetamine.

Hoesly, a 13-year police officer who occasionally was an undercover decoy in police prostitution stings, became the subject of an investigation early this year, when she told police she'd been assaulted by her ex-boyfriend, Joshua David Rodriguez. Rodriguez has a history of drug arrests and convictions, and when officers booked him on assault charges, they found meth in his pocket.

Subsequently police began investigating Hoesly, hearing rumors from police informants that she had used drugs. On March 13 at 2:07 am, narcotics officers Jay Bates and Michael Krantz took her garbage. The order to do so came from Assistant Chief Andrew Kirkland, who dated Hoesly in the early '90s.

Searching through her trash back at Central Precinct, they found traces of cocaine and methamphetamine, as well as drug paraphernalia. They also found a bloody tampon. They sent a piece of the tampon to the state crime lab, where forensics experts tested it for drugs, DNA and, for reasons that remain unclear, semen. The results of those tests have not been released.

The police didn't seek a search warrant to take Hoesly's trash because, as the Multnomah County District Attorney's office conceded, officers didn't at the time have sufficient evidence to convince a judge to issue a warrant. But once they had drug residue from Hoesly's trash, officers were able to persuade Judge Dorothy Baker to issue a search warrant for Hoesly's house. Inside, they found more paraphernalia and a diary that described apparent drug use. An indictment was issued in June.

Hoesly, who is currently on medical leave and at the time of her arrest was in the process of medically retiring, pleaded not guilty and hired criminal-defense lawyer Stephen Houze. Like a Labrador smelling leftover turkey, Houze promptly zeroed in on the grabbing of her garbage. He argued that under Oregon's Constitution, privacy rights extend to someone's trash--at least until it's picked up by trash haulers. The used tampon "goes to the heart of just what an outrageous violation of privacy rights this police search was," Houze said. "If the police will do this to a police officer, who won't they do it to?"

Not only that, he said, but if garbage is up for grabs, "There will be identity thieves lining up out there on every garbage day, knowing they can [take trash] with impunity."

The Hoesly case is not unprecedented. In 1997, police poked in the trash of David Peters, a star prosecutor for Multnomah County, and found cocaine residue, which was used to obtain a search warrant. Unlike Hoesly, he was not indicted; instead, he was fined and allowed to enter court diversion to maintain a clean record.

In a hearing on Dec. 10, Judge Jean Kerr Maurer agreed with Houze, issuing a ruling that said the cops' taking of trash was illegal. Senior Deputy District Attorney Mark McDonnell immediately said his office would challenge the ruling. --NB

Big Brother's in Your Trash Can

The government is essentially going through your trash every day, says Evan Hendricks, publisher of Privacy Times, a Washington, D.C., newsletter. "They just don't have to get their hands dirty.

In the past 16 months, thanks to measures contained in the Patriot Act, the Homeland Security Act and the creation of the Total Information Awareness office, our government has turned into a bad Oliver Stone movie--you know, where a cabal of conservative spooks takes over and suddenly Big Brother is in charge.

No longer do the Feds need to meet the evidentiary standard of "probable cause" to initiate an investigation or start amassing information on you. Nor do they need to show any evidence of a link to terrorism. All they need to do, in short, is say they find you suspicious. They don't need to tell a judge why.

"This administration really represents a combination of Reaganism and McCarthyism--though they're not chasing Communists, they're chasing people that they call 'terrorists,'" says Hendricks, who grew up in Portland. "They're expanding their power and intimidating people to sort of go along or be afraid of being accused of being soft on terrorism."

The October 2001 enactment of the USA Patriot Act opened the door to domestic and Internet surveillance, as well as warrantless, covert "sneak and peek" searches. Then, on Nov. 19, 2002, Congress approved the Homeland Security Act, which Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) called the "most severe weakening of the Freedom of Information Act in its 36-year history."

The HSA also created the Total Information Awareness office, whose logo, taken from the back of the dollar bill, is of a pyramid with an eye on top, looking down at the globe. Headed by Iran-Contra co-conspirator Admiral John Poindexter, the agency will "mine" commercial databases, including magazine subscriptions and book purchases, to spy on American citizens. It plans to use this information to profile likely terrorist supporters; it also wants to deploy video camera and facial-recognition surveillance systems.

"The Pentagon basically wants to knock down the walls to all private-sector records and plug into them," says Hendricks. "And trash is like a microcosm of what you get: the bills people pay, what they buy at the store, the packages they throw out. The government is proposing more systematic surveillance of databases that have the same information."

How do they define who is a likely terrorist supporter? Sorry, but that's a secret. Attorney General John Ashcroft has given federal agencies free rein to reject information requests, with the assurance that his Department of Justice would defend the agencies no matter what.

Civil-liberties advocates point to the inherent danger in granting the government such sweeping power. Declassified documents have shown myriad abuses by law-enforcement agencies involved in domestic spying in the '60s, '70s and '80s, including in Portland. In 1997, a Washington, D.C., police official used video surveillance of people coming and going from a gay bar to try to blackmail married men. And studies of camera systems in Britain found that they were used to target minorities for increased police attention, while women caught on camera were often targeted for voyeuristic reasons, with male camera operators panning over them for purposes of ogling.

Small wonder that even conservatives such as Rep. Dick Armey, Sen. Charles Grassley and New York Times columnist William Safire are going ballistic. Attorney General Ashcroft is "out of control," and the federal government has "no credibility" on protecting individuals' privacy, said Armey, who has even volunteered to do consulting work for the ACLU on privacy issues upon his retirement.

"You Are a Suspect" was the title of Safire's Nov. 14 column on the Total Information Awareness program, which he called a "supersnoop's dream" and a "sweeping theft of privacy rights." --NB

Re:text from site (5, Funny)

Mitchell Mebane (594797) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990826)

Wrong! The *full* text from the site is as follows:

Error connecting to site

The Proxomitron couldn't connect to...
www.wweek.com/flatfiles/News3485.lasso
The site may be busy or the web server may be down.

Google cache... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4990801)

Here. [216.239.33.100]

Re:Google cache... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4990828)

Oops...

Application to the Internet world... (5, Insightful)

Badge 17 (613974) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990803)

This seems to be an interesting precedent...

As I understand it, the basic claim of the police is that if it's easily accessible, it's public information.

So, how does this apply to the Internet?

For instance, is unencrypted email now public information? What about information on a HTML page - with no links leading to it?

I particularly like the police officers claiming that the lack of a "No tresspassing" sign / "don't open garbage" sign gives them the right to do this... Does a woman have to wear a "Don't Rape" sign to make this clear to potential attackers?

Perhaps the "Don't Rape" sign should really go on the Constitution - particularly the Fourth Amendment.

Effective... (2, Insightful)

jjccss (238401) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990808)

Doing things of this nature are becoming an effective means of grabbing attention of the people involved. It is much more effective that "changing the system from the inside" because it allows people who don't want to be politicians, executives, etc to shake things up. It is also is exponentially more effective than just being a pain in the ass.

Now...if we could only figure out a way to limit the power of major players in the news business. Drudge Report [drudgereport.com] .

It's legal (2, Insightful)

jdhutchins (559010) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990814)

I haven't read the article because it seems slashdotted (already?).
It is legal for police to take garbage without a search warrant. IANAL, but from civics classes, trash falls under "abandoned property", so police can take it without a search warrant. It's kinda like if a police office thinks you're speeding, he doesn't need a search warrant to aim his radar gun at you to check your speed. Not exactly the same thing, but kinda in the same category.

Dumpster (0, Funny)

CyanideHD (132907) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990816)

This gives new meaning to Dumpster Diving.

Benji the Binman (1)

Vainglorious Coward (267452) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990818)

Site seems /.ed already...

cf : Benjamin Pell aka Benji the Binman [bbc.co.uk] , who has made a career of poking through folks rubbish. Not illegal, but not exactly reputable either.

GIGO... (5, Funny)

cqnn (137172) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990819)

Garbage In, Garbage Out...

SLASHCACHE SLASHCACHE SLASHCACHE (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4990825)

This is why I rarely read Slashdot any more - you can never read the fucking articles that are linked to.

Again: A Slashdot cache of referenced sites is desperately needed to stop the rampage of thousands of readers instantly destroying these web sites - talk about giving some poor sysadmin a very bad day.

I look forward to Slashdot being sued for damages and loss of advertising revenue by way of causing a DDOS attack on a website.

Seems to me there is a difference... (3, Insightful)

badasscat (563442) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990832)

It seems to me there is a difference between the police, who are guided by local, state and federal laws regarding use of evidence, and reporters, who have pretty much free reign under the US constitution in what they report. Quite honestly, despite the anti-government, anti-authority slant by both the article and the comments in the posting here, I would be far less comfortable with reporters stealing my garbage than with police collecting it. And I can entirely see the city's point about why reporters going around rummaging through peoples' garbage is a bad idea. Reporters are not answerable to anybody - government is.

That said, why would anyone expect that something they've acknowledged they no longer want and have therefore basically thrown up for grabs on the curb to be secure? As someone who lives in NYC, where it's routine for people to pick up junk they find lying on the side of the street, this just strikes me as idiotic. Not just dumb, not just stupid, but completely moronic. You threw it away; it's on the curb, it's no longer yours. End of story. Whether it's the police or the press taking it, if you're at all worried about it you should have either kept it or destroyed it.

There's a reason why shredders exist. And if you don't want to use one, that's your choice. But then don't complain when people go rummaging through your garbage looking for credit card statements and pay stubs. You put that stuff out on the curb of your own free will.

link to the story that hasn't be slashdotted...yet (3, Informative)

wherley (42799) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990833)

here [koin.com]

CONFUCIUS SAY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4990836)

When you tell a man "hey, you can take my shit for free" do not be surprised if he takes shit.

Has to be done (3, Funny)

psi_diddy (634033) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990840)

All your garbage are belong to us!

Buy a shredder (5, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990849)

Screw privacy: Speaking as someone who had my credit card numbers stolen from my trash, EVERYONE should have a shredder to shred bills. It's incredibly cheap insurance.

As far as people taking the rest of my garbage, they're welcome to it. Less I have to take to the curb!

this has been already laid out (5, Informative)

Auckerman (223266) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990851)

In CALIFORNIA v. GREENWOOD, 486 U.S. 35 (1988) [findlaw.com] , the Supreme Court ruled police could do this. I happen to agree with this. By putting it on the curb, you have shown that you want the city to come and take it away. In other word you want the city to have it.

As far as the city getting annoyed at the journalists, they can be annoyed, but I doubt there is much they can do about it, for much the same reason that the police can rummage though trash.

Well, if they're not doing anything wrong... (5, Insightful)

Rai (524476) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990859)

The U.S. Government seems very fond of this phrase so I'll throw it back their way...

If you're not doing anything wrong, then you shouldn't have anything to hide.

Here is the article (-1, Redundant)

SirCrashALot (614498) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990861)

The page is slashdotted so here is the text It's past midnight. Over the whump of the wipers and the screech of the fan belt, we lurch through the side streets of Southeast Portland in a battered white van, double-checking our toolkit: flashlight, binoculars, duct tape, scissors, watch caps, rawhide gloves, vinyl gloves, latex gloves, trash bags, 30-gallon can, tarpaulins, Sharpie, notebook--notebook? Well, yes. Technically, this is a journalistic exercise--at least, that's what we keep telling ourselves. We're upholding our sacred trust as representatives of the Fourth Estate. Comforting the afflicted, afflicting the comfortable. Pushing the reportorial envelope--by liberating the trash of Portland's top brass. We didn't dream up this idea on our own. We got our inspiration from the Portland police. Back in March, the police swiped the trash of fellow officer Gina Hoesly. They didn't ask permission. They didn't ask for a search warrant. They just grabbed it. Their sordid haul, which included a bloody tampon, became the basis for drug charges against her (see "Gross Violation," below). The news left a lot of Portlanders--including us--scratching our heads. Aren't there rules about this sort of thing? Aren't citizens protected from unreasonable search and seizure by the Fourth Amendment? The Multnomah County District Attorney's Office doesn't think so. Prosecutor Mark McDonnell says that once you set your garbage out on the curb, it becomes public property. "She placed her garbage can out in the open, open to public view, in the public right of way," McDonnell told Judge Jean Kerr Maurer earlier this month. "There were no signs on the garbage, 'Do not open. Do not trespass.' There was every indication...she had relinquished her privacy, possessory interest." Police Chief Mark Kroeker echoed this reasoning. "Most judges have the opinion that [once] trash is put out...it's trash, and abandoned in terms of privacy," he told WW. In fact, it turns out that police officers throughout Oregon have been rummaging through people's trash for more than three decades. Portland drug cops conduct "garbage pulls" once or twice per month, says narcotics Sgt. Eric Schober. On Dec. 10, Maurer rubbished this practice. Scrutinizing garbage, she declared, is an invasion of privacy: The police must obtain a search warrant before they swipe someone's trash. "Personal and business correspondence, photographs, personal financial information, political mail, items related to health concerns and sexual practices are all routinely found in garbage receptacles," Maurer wrote. The fact that a person has put these items out for pick-up, she said, "does not suggest an invitation to others to examine them." But local law enforcement officials pooh-poohed the judge's decision. "This particular very unique and very by-herself judge took a position not in concert with the other judges who had given us instruction by their decisions across the years," said Kroeker. The District Attorney's Office agreed and vowed to challenge the ruling. The question of whether your trash is private might seem academic. It's not. Your garbage can is like a trap door that opens on to your most intimate secrets; what you toss away is, in many ways, just as revealing as what you keep. And your garbage can is just one of the many places where your privacy is being pilfered. In the wake of 9/11, the U.S. government has granted itself far-reaching new powers to spy on you, from email to bank statements to video cameras (see "Big Brother's in Your Trash Can," below). After much debate, we resolved to turn the tables on three of our esteemed public officials. We embarked on an unauthorized sightseeing tour of their garbage, to make a point about how invasive a "garbage pull" really is--and to highlight the government's ongoing erosion of people's privacy. We chose District Attorney Mike Schrunk because his office is the most vocal defender of the proposition that your garbage is up for grabs. We chose Police Chief Mark Kroeker because he runs the bureau. And we chose Mayor Vera Katz because, as police commissioner, she gives the chief his marching orders. Each, in his or her own way, has endorsed the notion that you abandon your privacy when you set your trash out on the curb. So we figured they wouldn't mind too much if we took a peek at theirs. Boy, were we wrong. Perched in his office on the 15th floor of the Justice Center, Chief Kroeker seemed perfectly comfortable with the idea of trash as public property. "Things inside your house are to be guarded," he told WW. "Those that are in the trash are open for trash men and pickers and--and police. And so it's not a matter of privacy anymore." Then we spread some highlights from our haul on the table in front of him. "This is very cheap," he blurted out, frowning as we pointed out a receipt with his credit-card number, a summary of his wife's investments, an email prepping the mayor about his job application to be police chief of Los Angeles, a well-chewed cigar stub, and a handwritten note scribbled in pencil on a napkin, so personal it made us cringe. We also drew his attention to a newsletter from the conservative political advocacy group Focus on the Family, addressed to "Mr. & Mrs. Mark Kroeker." "Are you a member of Focus on the Family?" we asked. "No," the chief replied. "Is your wife?" "You know," he said, with a Clint Eastwood gaze, "it's none of your business." As we explained our thinking, the chief, who is usually polite to a fault, cut us off in midsentence. "OK," he said, suddenly standing up, "we're done." Hours later, the chief issued a press release complaining that WW had gone through "my personal garbage at my home." KATU promptly took to the airwaves declaring, "Kroeker wants Willamette Week to stay out of his garbage." If the chief got overheated, the mayor went nuclear. When we confessed that we had swiped her recycling, she summoned us to her chambers. "She wants you to bring the trash--and bring the name of your attorney," said her press secretary, Sarah Bott. Actually, we couldn't snatch Katz's garbage, because she keeps it right next to her house, well away from the sidewalk. To avoid trespassing, we had to settle for a bin of recycling left out front. The day after our summons, Wednesday, Dec. 18, we trudged down to City Hall, stack of newsprint in hand. A gaggle of TV and radio reporters were waiting to greet us, tipped off by high-octane KXL motor-mouth Lars Larson. We filed into the mayor's private conference room. The atmosphere, chilly to begin with, turned arctic when the mayor marched in. She speared us each with a wounded glare, then hoisted the bin of newspaper and stalked out of the room--all without uttering a word. A few moments later, her office issued a prepared statement. "I consider Willamette Week's actions in this matter to be potentially illegal and absolutely unscrupulous and reprehensible," it read. "I will consider all my legal options in response to their actions." In contrast, DA Mike Schrunk was almost playful when we owned up to nosing through his kitchen scraps. "Do I have to pay for this week's garbage collection?" he joked. We told Schrunk that we intended to report that his garbage contained mementos of his military service. "Don't burn me on that," he implored. "The Marine Corps will shoot me!" It's worth emphasizing that our junkaeological dig unearthed no whiff of scandal. Based on their throwaways, the chief, the DA and the mayor are squeaky-clean, poop-scooping folks whose private lives are beyond reproach. They emerge from this escapade smelling like--well, coffee grounds. But if three moral, upstanding, public-spirited citizens were each chewing their nails about the secrets we might have stumbled on, how the hell should the rest of us be feeling? HAUL OF FAME Decked out in watch caps and rubber gloves, we are kneeling in a freezing garage and cradling our first major discovery--a five-pound bag of dog poo. We set it down next to the rest of our haul from District Attorney Mike Schrunk's trash--the remains of Thanksgiving turkey, the mounting stack of his granddaughter's diapers, the bag of dryer lint, the tub of Skippy peanut butter, and the shredded bag of peanut M&Ms. There is something about poking through someone else's garbage that makes you feel dirty, and it's not just the stench and the flies. Scrap by scrap, we are reverse-engineering a grimy portrait of another human being, reconstituting an identity from his discards, probing into stuff that is absolutely, positively none of our damn business. It's one thing to revel in the hallowed tradition of muckraking. It's another to get down on your hands and knees and nose through wads of someone else's Kleenex. Is this why our parents sent us to college? So we could paw through orange peels and ice-cream tubs and half-eaten loaves of bread? And yet, there is also something seductive, almost intoxicating, about being a Dumpster detective. For example, we spot a clothing tag marked "44/Regular." Then we find half of a torn receipt from Meier & Frank for $262.99. Then we find the other half, which reads: "MENS SU 3BTN." String it together, and we deduce that Schrunk plunked down $262.99 for a size-44 three-button suit at Meier & Frank on Saturday, Nov. 16, at 9:35 am. We are getting to know Portland's top prosecutor from the inside out. Here's an empty bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label. There's a pile of castoff duds from his days as a Marine. Is he going "soft" on terrorism!? Chinese takeout boxes and junk-food wrappers testify to a busy lifestyle with little time to cook. A Post-it note even lays bare someone's arithmetic skills (the addition is solid, but the long division needs work). Our haul from Mayor Vera Katz is limited to a stack of newsprint from her recycling bin--her garbage can was well out of reach--but we assemble several clues to her intellectual leanings. We find overwhelming evidence that the Mayor reads The Oregonian, The Washington Post National Weekly Edition, U.S. Mayor and the Portland Tribune. We also stumble across a copy of TV Click in which certain programs have been circled in municipal red. If we're not mistaken, the mayor has a special fondness for dog shows, figure skating and The West Wing. Our inspection of Chief Kroeker's refuse reveals that he is a scrupulous recycler. He is also a health nut. We find a staggering profusion of health-food containers: fat-free milk cartons, fat-free cereal boxes, cans of milk chocolate weight-loss shakes, cans of Swanson chicken broth ("99% fat free!"), water bottles, a cardboard box of protein bars, tubs of low-fat cottage cheese, a paper packet of oatmeal, and an article on "How to Live a Long Healthy Life." At the same time, we find evidence of rust in the chief's iron self-discipline: wrappers from See's chocolate bars, an unopened bag of Doritos, a dozen perfectly edible fun-size Nestle Crunch bars, three empty Coke cans. We unearth a crate that once contained 12 bottles of Cook's California sparkling wine, but find no trace of the bottles themselves. Is the chief building a pyramid of them on the mantelpiece? We stack the crate beside a pair of white children's socks, a broken pen, the stub of an Excalibur 1066 cigar, burnt toast, a freezer bag of date bars, orange peel, coffee grounds, a cork, an empty film canister (no weed--we checked), eggshells, Q tips, tissue paper and copious quantities of goo. We uncrumple a holiday flier from the Hinson Memorial Baptist Church, which contains a handwritten note: "Mark. Just want you to know one Latin from Manhattan Loves You." Invasion of privacy? This is a frontal assault, a D-Day, a Norman Conquest of privacy. We know the chief's credit-card number; we know where he buys his groceries; we know how much toilet tissue he goes through. We know whose Christmas cards he has pitched, whose wedding he skipped, whose photo he threw away. We know what newsletters he gets and how much he's socked away in the stock market. We even know he's thinking about a new car--and which models he's considering. By the time we tag the last item (a lonesome Christmas tree angel), our noses are running and our gloves are black with gunk. We scrub our hands when we get home. But we still feel dirty. --CL WHAT WE FOUND POLICE CHIEF MARK KROEKER * Empty containers and wrappers: Kodiak Washington pears, Washington "extra fancy" fancy lady peaches, Oasis Floral Foam bricks ("Worth Insisting Upon") (2), Kashi Go Lean! cereal, Sunshine fat-free milk, Kirkland Signature weight-loss shake, fat-free Swanson Chicken Broth, mandarin oranges, Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Arrowhead water bottle, Cook's California sparkling-wine box, fried apples, cheese rolls, Bounty paper towels 15-roll pack, Kirkland facial tissue, 12-pack Dove soap, Quaker oatmeal, See's candy bars, lady's razors, Dentyne Ice chewing gum, Vivant zesty vegetable crackers. * Hershey's Cookies n Crème mini-bars, uneaten (3). * Several Oregonian issues, still folded. * Email correspondence between chief and Mayor Katz's staff in which he preps them on what to tell Los Angeles officials regarding his application to be chief there. * Rough draft, internal police memo. * Various cash-register receipts. * Half-full bag of fun-size Nestle Crunch bars. * Slice of burnt toast. * Photocopy of WW Nov. 13 "Murmurs" item on chief, hand-dated in blue pen, reporting scuttlebutt that Katz has "taken over the day-to-day running of the Police Bureau." * Half-smoked stub of an Excalibur 1066 cigar. * Paper cups from Starbucks and Torrefazione. * Pears, lettuce, grapes, bread, eggshells, goo, potato salad, wire hangers, a 75 watt light bulb, orange peels, coffee grounds, wine cork, dish rag, film canister, used Q-Tips. * Half-eaten protein bar, still in wrapper. * Newsletter from Focus on the Family, a conservative political group. Insert, addressed to "Mr. & Mrs. Mark Kroeker." Insert asks for "one last year-end contribution." * Photos of chief and a bare-chested man moving a large appliance. * Creased wedding photo of a prominent Portlander. * Broken pen. * Three envelopes from California, hand-addressed, sent on consecutive days. * Notice from mortgage company for payment. * Internet printout of "How to Live a Long Healthy Life." * Postcard from friend vacationing in Arizona. * Post-it with notes about a new car. * Extremely personal note on dinner napkin, handwritten in pencil. * Account summary from Fidelity Investments for the chief's wife. MAYOR VERA KATZ * Trader Joe's "Happy Holidays" paper bag. * Several issues of The Oregonian. * Several issues of The Washington Post National Weekly Edition. * A copy of U.S. Mayor (a monthly magazine devoted to mayors). * A copy of TV Click. Someone has marked several programs in red, including Wargame: Iraq, Simulated National Security Council meetings, MSNBC; Everwood: Ephram tries to revive his mother's Thanksgiving traditions, KWBP; CSI Miami: A dead man is found hanging from a tree, KOIN; Life with Bonnie on KATU; The West Wing on KGW; The National Dog Show on KGW; Figure skating: ISU Cup of Russia, ESPN; Biography: "Audrey Hepburn, the Fairest Lady," A&E: Figure skating: ICE WARS: USA vs. The World, KOIN. * Several issues of the Portland Tribune. * Daily Journal of Commerce from Dec. 3, 2002. DISTRICT ATTORNEY MIKE SCHRUNK * Empty containers and wrappers: Cozy Fleece Baby Blanket, Bee Cleaners, Nibblets Corn and Butter, Johnnie Walker Black Label, Fred Meyer unflavored gelatin, Burger King beverage cup and straw, possible Chinese takeout (lots), Dreyer's Mocha Almond Fudge ice cream, Skippy peanut butter (creamy), Land's End, Fred Meyer green beans, Campbell's Chunky New England Clam Chowder with 100-watt bulb inside, Meier & Frank, Jelly Belly jelly beans, Foster Farms boneless and skinless Oregon chicken thighs. * Coffee grounds. * Used pekoe tea bags, many. * Used Christmas napkins, used Kleenex, used Q-Tips. * Remains of Thanksgiving turkey carcass, drumstick intact. * Remnants of roast beef. * Soiled baby diapers. * Plastic bags containing dog poo, very clean, with some blades of grass (2). * Bag of dryer lint. * Christmas wrapping paper. * Orange peels, empty Millstone coffee bag, containing two very ripe but uneaten bananas, two half-eaten loaves of wheat bread. * Disposable razors. * Remnants of peanut M&Ms bag. * Energizer AA batteries (2), wrapped in plastic bag. * Shopping lists. * Baseball cap with crustacean emblem: "DON'T BOTHER ME. I'm CRABBY." * Baseball cap for Outward Bound. * Baseball cap with embroidered green fish. * Military khaki shirts with "SCHRUNK" embroidered on pocket and collar (4). * Jacket, olive drab, with fading stencils of "USMC" and "Schrunk." * Yellow Post-it note with sample of someone's arithmetic: The addition is successful (54 + 32 = 86), but the long division of 32 divided by 6 comes up a little bit wide, at 5.4. Gross Violation Officer Gina Hoesly has long had less privacy than the average cop, thanks to the Portland Police Bureau's rumor mill. Hoesly (below), 34, has dated rock musicians, other cops and Portland Trail Blazers. She's had breast implants and once posed for a photo on a website selling motorcycle gear--badpig.com--showing plenty of skin. In 1996, she won a $20,000 settlement from the bureau in a sexual-harassment claim based on behavior by her co-workers. But none of that comes close to the scrutiny she received in March, when fellow officers rifled through her garbage. The evidence they found led to her indictment on charges of possessing ecstasy, cocaine and methamphetamine. Hoesly, a 13-year police officer who occasionally was an undercover decoy in police prostitution stings, became the subject of an investigation early this year, when she told police she'd been assaulted by her ex-boyfriend, Joshua David Rodriguez. Rodriguez has a history of drug arrests and convictions, and when officers booked him on assault charges, they found meth in his pocket. Subsequently police began investigating Hoesly, hearing rumors from police informants that she had used drugs. On March 13 at 2:07 am, narcotics officers Jay Bates and Michael Krantz took her garbage. The order to do so came from Assistant Chief Andrew Kirkland, who dated Hoesly in the early '90s. Searching through her trash back at Central Precinct, they found traces of cocaine and methamphetamine, as well as drug paraphernalia. They also found a bloody tampon. They sent a piece of the tampon to the state crime lab, where forensics experts tested it for drugs, DNA and, for reasons that remain unclear, semen. The results of those tests have not been released. The police didn't seek a search warrant to take Hoesly's trash because, as the Multnomah County District Attorney's office conceded, officers didn't at the time have sufficient evidence to convince a judge to issue a warrant. But once they had drug residue from Hoesly's trash, officers were able to persuade Judge Dorothy Baker to issue a search warrant for Hoesly's house. Inside, they found more paraphernalia and a diary that described apparent drug use. An indictment was issued in June. Hoesly, who is currently on medical leave and at the time of her arrest was in the process of medically retiring, pleaded not guilty and hired criminal-defense lawyer Stephen Houze. Like a Labrador smelling leftover turkey, Houze promptly zeroed in on the grabbing of her garbage. He argued that under Oregon's Constitution, privacy rights extend to someone's trash--at least until it's picked up by trash haulers. The used tampon "goes to the heart of just what an outrageous violation of privacy rights this police search was," Houze said. "If the police will do this to a police officer, who won't they do it to?" Not only that, he said, but if garbage is up for grabs, "There will be identity thieves lining up out there on every garbage day, knowing they can [take trash] with impunity." The Hoesly case is not unprecedented. In 1997, police poked in the trash of David Peters, a star prosecutor for Multnomah County, and found cocaine residue, which was used to obtain a search warrant. Unlike Hoesly, he was not indicted; instead, he was fined and allowed to enter court diversion to maintain a clean record. In a hearing on Dec. 10, Judge Jean Kerr Maurer agreed with Houze, issuing a ruling that said the cops' taking of trash was illegal. Senior Deputy District Attorney Mark McDonnell immediately said his office would challenge the ruling. --NB Big Brother's in Your Trash Can The government is essentially going through your trash every day, says Evan Hendricks, publisher of Privacy Times, a Washington, D.C., newsletter. "They just don't have to get their hands dirty. In the past 16 months, thanks to measures contained in the Patriot Act, the Homeland Security Act and the creation of the Total Information Awareness office, our government has turned into a bad Oliver Stone movie--you know, where a cabal of conservative spooks takes over and suddenly Big Brother is in charge. No longer do the Feds need to meet the evidentiary standard of "probable cause" to initiate an investigation or start amassing information on you. Nor do they need to show any evidence of a link to terrorism. All they need to do, in short, is say they find you suspicious. They don't need to tell a judge why. "This administration really represents a combination of Reaganism and McCarthyism--though they're not chasing Communists, they're chasing people that they call 'terrorists,'" says Hendricks, who grew up in Portland. "They're expanding their power and intimidating people to sort of go along or be afraid of being accused of being soft on terrorism." The October 2001 enactment of the USA Patriot Act opened the door to domestic and Internet surveillance, as well as warrantless, covert "sneak and peek" searches. Then, on Nov. 19, 2002, Congress approved the Homeland Security Act, which Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) called the "most severe weakening of the Freedom of Information Act in its 36-year history." The HSA also created the Total Information Awareness office, whose logo, taken from the back of the dollar bill, is of a pyramid with an eye on top, looking down at the globe. Headed by Iran-Contra co-conspirator Admiral John Poindexter, the agency will "mine" commercial databases, including magazine subscriptions and book purchases, to spy on American citizens. It plans to use this information to profile likely terrorist supporters; it also wants to deploy video camera and facial-recognition surveillance systems. "The Pentagon basically wants to knock down the walls to all private-sector records and plug into them," says Hendricks. "And trash is like a microcosm of what you get: the bills people pay, what they buy at the store, the packages they throw out. The government is proposing more systematic surveillance of databases that have the same information." How do they define who is a likely terrorist supporter? Sorry, but that's a secret. Attorney General John Ashcroft has given federal agencies free rein to reject information requests, with the assurance that his Department of Justice would defend the agencies no matter what. Civil-liberties advocates point to the inherent danger in granting the government such sweeping power. Declassified documents have shown myriad abuses by law-enforcement agencies involved in domestic spying in the '60s, '70s and '80s, including in Portland. In 1997, a Washington, D.C., police official used video surveillance of people coming and going from a gay bar to try to blackmail married men. And studies of camera systems in Britain found that they were used to target minorities for increased police attention, while women caught on camera were often targeted for voyeuristic reasons, with male camera operators panning over them for purposes of ogling. Small wonder that even conservatives such as Rep. Dick Armey, Sen. Charles Grassley and New York Times columnist William Safire are going ballistic. Attorney General Ashcroft is "out of control," and the federal government has "no credibility" on protecting individuals' privacy, said Armey, who has even volunteered to do consulting work for the ACLU on privacy issues upon his retirement. "You Are a Suspect" was the title of Safire's Nov. 14 column on the Total Information Awareness program, which he called a "supersnoop's dream" and a "sweeping theft of privacy rights." --NB

nice going nimrods (0)

mattx (169200) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990886)

Willamette Week's web server has always been slow as molasses, now you /. it?? Poor lasso files don't even know what hit them.

Reasoning... (3, Interesting)

qat (637648) | more than 11 years ago | (#4990894)

I don't think it was the fact that they took the garbage that made them mad. It was almost definatly the fact that they reported the contents. example, if you are throwing out an old computer, you don't know what it's good for! It's old and slow with nothing on it. However, some guy that knows computers back and around, decides he could salvage it, so takes it. Would you be made? Nah, it was headed for the dump anyways. However, he finds your secret porno stash from the 1940's and starts selling the videos, or simply tells other people. Do you want people knowing your a porn addict? Probably not. But do you mind if somebody salvages a few parts from what you think is a worthless computer? Again, most likely, no. It's all in the intended use.
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