Posts tagged ‘NSA’

President Asterisk Expands the Imperial Presidency

It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged.

G.K. Chesterton

Benghazi, IRS, AP, Fast and Furious, NSA, Obamacare.

Mockery and truculence are called for to properly honor the Moral Preener in Chief.

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Merry Christmas from the NSA!

Yes We Scan!

Christmas 2013 🙁

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Stop Watching Us!

Stop Watching Us!

Thousands rallied against NSA’s domestic and international surveillance on Saturday by marching to the Capitol and calling for closer scrutiny of the agency as more details of its spying are leaked.

Holding signs that said “Stop mass surveillance,” “Thank you, Edward Snowden” and “No NSA mass spying,” and chanting slogans like “no secret courts,” the protesters gathered under a blue sky to hear various speakers.

Craig Aaron, head of the group Free Press, said “this isn’t about right and left — it’s about right and wrong.”

Anti-NSA rally attracts thousands to march in Washington

Demonstrators came from across the United States. Some wore tape across their mouths and masks, and dressed up as cameras. Others carried signs plastered with images of Snowden, and a giant blue and white parachute that read “constitutional rights not NSA mass spying.” Groups of protesters chanted slogans like, “They say wiretap, we say fight back,” and “Hey hey, ho ho, the NSA has got to go.” One person dressed up as Obama, held an “Obamacam” and posed in front of a model drone.

NSA ‘Stop Watching Us’ Protest Draws Thousands In Washington

Obamacare, Benghazi, IRS, NSA, race baiting, Solyndra, moral preening, Fast and Furious, Pigford, etc., ad nauseum. President Transparency, Moral Preener in Chief, Victim in Chief, President Asterisk, etc., ad nasueum.

America is going through a transformation, on a scale that few people now realize. The last such fundamental change was from the rural and agrarian society of the Founding era (America 1.0) to the urban and industrial society which is now coming to an end (America 2.0).

That transition was disruptive and painful, but ultimately led to a better America.

We are now making a similar transition to a post-industrial, networked, decentralized, immensely productive America, with a more individualistic, voluntarist, anti-bureaucratic culture (America 3.0).

Today’s political regime is like legacy software, built for an earlier world.

Institutions of the 20th Century welfare state that once looked permanent are crumbling. The old operating system has been kludged so many times it won’t work much longer. It has to be replaced.

The time-worn liberal-progressive wisdom is simple: See a problem, create a government program to fix it.

ObamaCare proves this approach no longer works.

The transformation of the USA — here comes America 3.0

Average is Over

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A Government of Lies and Mediocrity

The state is the great fictitious entity by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else.

Frederic Bastiat

The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

H.L. Mencken, Bayard vs Lionheart, July 26,1920

I reject the argument that the government is empowered to take our liberties — here, the right to privacy — by majority vote or by secret fiat as part of an involuntary collective bargain that it needs to monitor us in private in order to protect us in public. The government’s job is to keep us free and safe. If it keeps us safe but not free, it is not doing its job.

. . .

And, if all of this is not enough to induce one to realize that the Orwellian future is here thanks to the secret governments of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Snowden also revealed that the NSA can hack into anyone’s mobile phone, even when it is turned off, and use each phone as a listening device and as a GPS to track whoever possesses it.

All of this — which is essentially undisputed — leads me to the question: Where is the outrage? I think the government has succeeded in so terrifying us at the prospect of another 9/11 that we are afraid to be outraged at the government when it claims to be protecting us, no matter what it does. C.S. Lewis once remarked that the greatest trick the devil has pulled off is convincing us that he does not exist. The government’s greatest trick has been persuading us to surrender our freedoms.

Will we ever get them back? The answer to that depends upon the fidelity to freedom of those in whose hands we have reposed the Constitution for safekeeping. At present, those hands are soiled with the filth of totalitarianism and preoccupied with the grasp of power. And they seem to be getting dirtier and their grip tighter every day.


A Government of Secrecy and Fear

A veteran Washington D.C. investigative journalist says the Department of Homeland Security confiscated a stack of her confidential files during a raid of her home in August — leading her to fear that a number of her sources inside the federal government have now been exposed.

In an interview with The Daily Caller, journalist Audrey Hudson revealed that the Department of Homeland Security and Maryland State Police were involved in a predawn raid of her Shady Side, Md. home on Aug. 6. Hudson is a former Washington Times reporter and current freelance reporter.

A search warrant obtained by TheDC indicates that the August raid allowed law enforcement to search for firearms inside her home.

The document notes that her husband, Paul Flanagan, was found guilty in 1986 to resisting arrest in Prince George’s County. The warrant called for police to search the residence they share and seize all weapons and ammunition because he is prohibited under the law from possessing firearms.

But without Hudson’s knowledge, the agents also confiscated a batch of documents that contained information about sources inside the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration, she said.

Feds confiscate investigative reporter’s confidential files during raid

This law [Obamacare] only passed because of a profound violation of democratic principles.

The Obamacare website doesn’t show which plans cover abortion.

Obamacare, Benghazi, IRS, NSA, race baiting, Solyndra, moral preening, Fast and Furious, Pigford, etc., ad nauseum. Thank you to the rubes who voted for a 3rd and 4th W. Bush term.

And on the local level: National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 10-23-13

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Rubes, you did build that.

Obamacare, Benghazi, IRS, NSA, race baiting, Solyndra, moral preening, Fast and Furious, Pigford, etc., ad nauseum. President Transparency, Moral Preener in Chief, Victim in Chief, President Asterisk, etc., ad nasueum.

The U.S. individual health insurance market currently totals about 19 million people. Because the Obama administration’s regulations on grandfathering existing plans were so stringent about 85% of those, 16 million, are not grandfathered and must comply with Obamacare at their next renewal. The rules are very complex. For example, if you had an individual plan in March of 2010 when the law was passed and you only increased the deductible from $1,000 to $1,500 in the years since, your plan has lost its grandfather status and it will no longer be available to you when it would have renewed in 2014.

These 16 million people are now receiving letters from their carriers saying they are losing their current coverage and must re-enroll in order to avoid a break in coverage and comply with the new health law’s benefit mandates––the vast majority by January 1. Most of these will be seeing some pretty big rate increases.

Week Two of the Obamacare Federal Health Insurance Exchange Rollout––No Improvement

Rubes who idolize the state. Statolatry.

President Obama claims that Republicans are busy probing “phony scandals.” But the sheer number of scandals suggests that misbehavior, abuse of power, and possibly corruption are not something being dreamed up by the GOP, but a defining characteristic of the Obama administration.

Obama is at Two Dozen Scandals and Counting

President Obama (in)famously said, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan” under the Affordable Care Act. As it turns out, not so much. Hundreds of thousands of Americans, it turns out, are receiving letters telling them that their existing coverage just isn’t good enough to satisfy the strict rquirements of the Obamacare law, and that they’ll have to sign up for new policies. Those new policies come with new stipulations, and new price tags. Which is to say, it doesn’t matter if you like your health care plan, since you probably can’t keep it.

You Can Keep Your Health Insurance Under Obamacare? Not So Much.

Obviously, those people losing their health insurance must not have liked what they had. It’s the only explanation.

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Congress’s Abdication on NSA Oversight

Congress’s Abdication on NSA Oversight, Justin Amash

[Sen. Ron] Wyden, who is on the Senate Intelligence Committee and has access to classified information about the NSA’s surveillance practices, explained that even with the overly broad statutory powers granted to the NSA, “the rules have been broken, and the rules have been broken a lot.”

A recently declassified FISC ruling found that the NSA “frequently and systematically violated” statutory laws governing how intelligence agents can search databases of Americans’ telephone communications and that NSA analysts deliberately misled judges about their surveillance activities in order to get court approval.

Sen. Wyden seeks to scale back NSA surveillance

NSA Surveillance: What We Know; What to Do About It, a Cato event, October 9, 2013

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Secret Courts and the Star Chamber

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Assume The Government Is Run By The DMV or the Post Office

You need not suspect the motives of those responsible for NSA surveillance to detest what they are doing. In fact, we may have more to fear from spies acting out of patriotic zeal than those acting out of power lust or economic interest: Zealots are more likely to eschew restraints that might compromise their righteous cause.

For the sake of argument, we may assume that from President Obama on down, government officials sincerely believe that gathering Americans’ telephone and Internet data is vital to the people’s security. Does that make government spying okay?

No, it doesn’t.

Motives Aside, the NSA Should Not Spy on Us

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Surveillance State Run Amok

In one of his many overreactions to the events of 9/11, however, President George W. Bush changed all that with an ill-conceived executive order that unlawfully unleashed the CIA inside the U.S. and the FBI into foreign countries. Rather than facilitating a cooperative spirit in defense of individual freedom and national security, this reignited their rivalry. FBI agents, for example, publicly exposed CIA agents whom they caught torturing detainees at Gitmo, and Bush was forced to restrain the CIA.

Isn’t it odd that FBI agents would be reading the emails of the CIA director to his mistress and that the director of the FBI, who briefs the president weekly, did not make the president aware of this? The FBI could only lawfully spy on Petraeus by the use of a search warrant, and it could only get a search warrant if its agents persuaded a federal judge that Petraeus himself—not his mistress—was involved in criminal behavior under federal law.

The agents also could have bypassed the federal courts and written their own search warrant under the Patriot Act, but only if they could satisfy themselves (a curious and unconstitutional standard) that the general was involved in terror-related activity. Both preconditions for a search warrant are irrelevant and would be absurd in this case.

All this—the FBI spying on the CIA—constitutes the government attacking itself. Anyone who did this when neither federal criminal law nor national security has been implicated and kept the president in the dark has violated about four federal statutes and should be fired and indicted. The general may be a cad and a bad husband, but he has the same constitutional rights as the rest of us.

No keen observer could believe the government’s Pollyanna version of these events. When did the CIA become a paragon of honesty? When did the FBI become a paragon of transparency? When did the government become a paragon of telling the truth?

Silencing General Petraeus: No keen observer could believe the government’s Pollyanna version of these events. (emphasis added)

The affair between Petraeus and Broadwell was discovered by the FBI and revealed late last week when Petraeus resigned as director of the CIA. But while the salacious details have kept Washington’s press corps busy, the details about how the bureau ever got this information should concern us far more.

Every turn in the investigation that led to Petraeus’s resignation perfectly illustrates the incredible and dangerous reach of the massive United States surveillance apparatus, which, through hundreds of billions of dollars in post-9/11 programs — coupled with weakened privacy laws and lack of oversight — has affected the civil liberties of every American for years. The only difference here is the victim of the surveillance state’s reach was not a faceless American, but the head one of the agencies tasked to carry it out.
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While these details may shock the average reader, these privacy-invasive tactics are used regularly by both federal and local law enforcement around the United States. In fact, as the New York Times reported, referring to Petraeus, “Law enforcement officials have said they used only ordinary methods in the case.” The only difference here is the target was the director of the CIA and one of the most decorated soldiers in modern military history.

The Petraeus scandal — or perhaps we should call it the FBI snooping scandal — dovetailed with Google releasing its semi-annual transparency report, which again showed that government requests for ordinary user data continues to skyrocket. The last six months showed the U.S. government requesting data from Google alone on more than 12,000 users, a marked increase over the six months prior. And this number doesn’t even include some Patriot Act demands, National Security Letters with gag orders, or secret FISA court orders for intelligence operations. As Google said in conjunction with the release of its report, “This is the sixth time we’ve released this data, and one trend has become clear: Government surveillance is on the rise.”

Congress is now demanding to know why it wasn’t informed by the Justice Department about the details of the Petraeus affair earlier. Lawmakers should instead be worried about why the public was informed of these details at all, given that no crime was committed. And instead of investigating one man’s personal life, they should investigate how to strengthen our privacy laws so this does not happen to anyone else.

The U.S. government has so far been unable to keep its colossal surveillance state in check. Now that it is so bloated it is eating itself, one hopes more people will finally pay attention.

Investigate the FBI: The real Petraeus scandal is why the bureau was rummaging around in his private communications in the first place.

This is a surveillance state run amok. It also highlights how any remnants of internet anonymity have been all but obliterated by the union between the state and technology companies.

But, as unwarranted and invasive as this all is, there is some sweet justice in having the stars of America’s national security state destroyed by the very surveillance system which they implemented and over which they preside. As Trevor Timm of the Electronic Frontier Foundation put it this morning: “Who knew the key to stopping the Surveillance State was to just wait until it got so big that it ate itself?”

It is usually the case that abuses of state power become a source for concern and opposition only when they begin to subsume the elites who are responsible for those abuses. Recall how former Democratic Rep. Jane Harman – one of the most outspoken defenders of the illegal Bush National Security Agency (NSA) warrantless eavesdropping program – suddenly began sounding like an irate, life-long ACLU privacy activist when it was revealed that the NSA had eavesdropped on her private communications with a suspected Israeli agent over alleged attempts to intervene on behalf of AIPAC officials accused of espionage. Overnight, one of the Surveillance State’s chief assets, the former ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, transformed into a vocal privacy proponent because now it was her activities, rather than those of powerless citizens, which were invaded.

With the private, intimate activities of America’s most revered military and intelligence officials being smeared all over newspapers and televisions for no good reason, perhaps similar conversions are possible. Put another way, having the career of the beloved CIA Director and the commanding general in Afghanistan instantly destroyed due to highly invasive and unwarranted electronic surveillance is almost enough to make one believe not only that there is a god, but that he is an ardent civil libertarian.

FBI’s abuse of the surveillance state is the real scandal needing investigation

How interesting that last night I was speaking to a former field-grade Marine infantry officer about l’affaire Petraeus wherein we marveled at other senior Army or Marine officers we had known in our careers who could not keep their pants zipped and ruined their otherwise-stellar careers. For my buddy it was a regimental commander, years ago. The one that I recollected first was an armor brigade commander who decided to poke his Spec 4 driver, and I don’t mean on the then-nonexistent Facebook.

I confess to having a more jaded view of the whole sordid mess than a lot of folks for two main reasons. One, my final assignment in the Army was as a principal staff officer of US Army Criminal Investigation Command – and you do that for awhile and you will never again be surprised at anything stupid or criminal that anyone does, no matter his/her reputation, accomplishments or station in life. Two, I’ve been in ecclesial ministry for 15 years, same lesson (including, sadly, fellow clergy).

Petraeus and Broadwell: The FBI circles the wagons

Google received more requests from the U.S. government to hand over user data during the first half of this year than from any other country, according to the search company’s biannual “Transparency Report” released on Tuesday.

From January to June, Google received nearly 8,000 requests for user data from the U.S. government. The search company said it “fully or partially” compiled with roughly 90 percent of them. That’s up from the 5,950 requests for user data that Google received from the U.S. government during the same period a year ago.

Google: Surveillance ‘is on the rise’

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