A question arises: how does one know they are living in an unmitigated disaster of a banana republic where not even an attempt at hiding the crime and corruption takes place? Well, we are not absolutely certain, but we have a distinct feeling that when the president appoints as his impartial "reviewer" of the ultra top secret NSA's policies and capabilities the one man who was caught and exposed and subsequently apologized for lying to Congress, that may be a pretty damn good sign. Sadly, that is precisely what just happened.
This insane world was created through decades of bad decisions, believing in false prophets, choosing current consumption over sustainable long-term savings based growth, electing corruptible men who promised voters entitlements that were mathematically impossible to deliver, the disintegration of a sense of civic and community obligation and a gradual degradation of the national intelligence and character. There is a common denominator in all the bubbles created over the last century – Wall Street bankers and their puppets at the Federal Reserve. Fractional reserve banking, control of a fiat currency by a privately owned central bank, and an economy dependent upon ever increasing levels of debt are nothing more than ingredients of a Ponzi scheme that will ultimately implode and destroy the worldwide financial system. Since 1913 we have been enduring the largest fraud and embezzlement scheme in world history, but the law of diminishing returns is revealing the plot and illuminating the culprits. Bernanke and his cronies have proven themselves to be highly educated one trick pony protectors of the status quo. Bernanke will eventually roll craps. When he does, the collapse will be epic and 2008 will seem like a walk in the park.
In 2001, the Patriot Act opened the door to US government monitoring of Americans without a warrant. It was unconstitutional, but most in Congress over my strong objection were so determined to do something after the attacks of 9/11 that they did not seem to give it too much thought. Civil liberties groups were concerned, and some of us in Congress warned about giving up our liberties even in the post-9/11 panic. But at the time most Americans did not seem too worried about the intrusion. This complacency has suddenly shifted given recent revelations of the extent of government spying on Americans. What is even more important, though, is for more and more and more Americans to educate themselves about our precious liberties and to demand that their government abide by the Constitution. We do not have to accept being lied to – or spied on -- by our government.
When we as a species use language to communicate and engage with one another, we have a certain understanding that certain words mean certain things. That is the entire purpose of language, effective communication between human beings that can be easily understood. As a result, we should be able to assume that when government bureaucrats utilize words that are commonplace within society, that these words represent specific commonly understood meanings. That would be a huge mistake. Jameel Jaffer and Brett Max Kaufman of the ACLU have compiled an excellent list of some commonplace words used by the NSA to mislead us into thinking they aren’t doing the bad things that they are actually doing. Words such as “surveillance,” “collect,” and “relevant.”
The Director of National Intelligence released three declassified "in the interests of transparency" documents this morning that authorized and explained the bulk collection of phone data - one of the secret surveillance programs that Snowden revealed. As Reuters reports, much of what is contained in the documents has already been divulged in public hearings by intelligence officials but the National Security Agency's "Bulk Collection Program," carried out under the U.S. Patriot Act, is now in the open. Have no fear though, "Although the programs collect a large amount of information, the vast majority of that information is never reviewed by anyone in the government," the report said. As Senator Patrick Leahy commented, "what has to be of more concern in a democracy is whether the trust of the American people is beginning to wear thin."
Yes. The national intelligence has fallen that far. The morons in West Philly can't spell 'Cat'. At least 75% wouldn’t know the Vice President of the U.S.. More than 50% can't add 5 + 5. And 80% wouldn't know when and why the Civil War was fought.
Moments ago, an unlikely grouping between a 33-year old Republican, Rep-Justin Amash, and an 84-year old Democrat, Rep-John Conyers, resulted in a House vote, that if passed, would have suspended the NSA's "indiscriminate collection of phone records" and effectively ended the program's statutory authority. Yet despite significant lobbying by the White House, security experts and representative on both sides of the aisle, the vote came within a startlingly close 12 votes of passage. A majority of Democrats, 111, voted for Amash's amendment despite the full court press while 83 Democrats voted no. The GOP vote was 94-134. That the vote did not pass is not surprising. However, that it came to just 12 votes of passage is the stunning development and shows a sea change of how Congress approaches both personal privacy and the broader implications of the Patriot Act. All of it thanks to the action of one man who at last check was still stuck in the transit terminal in Moscow.
Late on Friday, with little fanfare, the government's Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) reported that the secret FISA court - the "legal" administrators of the NSA's assorted domestic espionage programs - would be granted an extension of its telephone surveillance program. And while so far the US public has shown a stoic resolve in its response to learning more details about how the US government spies on its day after day, things may soon be changing. As McClatchy reports, "Congress is growing increasingly wary of controversial National Security Agency domestic surveillance programs, a concern likely to erupt during legislative debate - and perhaps prod legislative action - as early as next week." Among the measures considered are legislation to make those programs less secret, and talk of denying funding and refusing to continue authority for the snooping.
It wasn't exactly like rubbing salt into the wounds of a US population that over the past month has learned it has no electronic communication privacy left, but it was close, when last night the US government's Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced that it was granting the secret FISA court - the same 11 people who decide behind closed doors whose email, phone or browser history is of national interest and thus subject to further "examination" - an extension of its telephone surveillance program. This is one of the two data surveillance efforts by the US (in conjunction with all major private telecom and internet companies) that Snowden leaked about. Why do we know this? Because the Obama administration is suddenly serious about being the most transparent ever: "The ODNI said in a statement it was disclosing the renewal as part of an effort at greater transparency following Snowden's disclosure of the telephone data collection and email surveillance programs." In short: "we will continue spying, but at least we are fully transparent about it."
How Much Are Intelligence Analysts Front Running Markets?
From its origins as a management consulting firm, Booz Allen has quietly grown into a government-wide contracting behemoth, fed by ballooning post-Sept. 11 intelligence budgets and Washington’s increasing reliance on outsourcing. With 24,500 employees and 99% of its revenues from the federal government, its growth in the last decade has been stunning (and until very recently with little to no knowledge from the main street that it even exists).
Meet General Keith Alexander, "a man few even in Washington would likely recognize", which is troubling because Alexander is now quite possibly the most powerful person in the world, whom nobody talks about. Which is just the way he likes it. ... And also meet Bonesaw: "Bonesaw is the ability to map, basically every device connected to the Internet and what hardware and software it is."
Establishment politicians from both major political parties are rushing to defend the NSA and condemn whistleblower Edward Snowden. They are attempting to portray Edward Snowden as a "traitor" and the spooks over at the NSA that are snooping on all of us as "heroes". In fact, many of the exact same politicians that once railed against government spying during the Bush years are now staunchly defending it now that Obama is in the White House. But it isn't just Democrats that are acting shamefully. Large numbers of Republican politicians that love to give speeches about "freedom" and "liberty" are attempting to eviscerate the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The government is not supposed to invade our privacy and investigate us unless there is probable cause to do so. Apparently many of our politicians misunderstood when they read the novel 1984 by George Orwell. It wasn't supposed to be an instruction manual.
America's Enemies Now Using Carrier Pigeons And Invisible Ink Letters: The Absurd, The Tragicomic And The BizarreSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/12/2013 11:53 -0500
Is there a legitimate security need to monitor the entire world's communications? There are reasonable arguments to be made for and against this proposition, but what's missing is the sense that the nation's citizenry should have a say in these policy decisions. We're supposed to be satisfied that a handful of thoroughly corrupted-by-the-corporatocracy congresspeople have been spoon-fed a thin dribble of intelligence gruel and told to rubberstamp it in the name of democracy. This calls to mind the notion that authorities inoculate the public with carefully measured doses of the operative master agenda and narrative.... By carefully releasing bits and pieces of the program, authorities inoculate the public against outrage or political action; the citizenry soon habituates to the master agenda and internalizes it to the point of self-management: we're spied upon for our own good.... This is precisely the mindset that fueled the 1950s witch-hunts of suspected Communists: guilt by association.
If the constitutional scholar was hoping he would quietly avoid a major showdown over the constitutionality of the biggest spying scandal since Nixon (whether legal or not remains to be determined) and which would likely have led to an early POTUS retirement if current president was republican, the ACLU just slammed the door shut on the possibility. Moments ago, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its "dragnet" collection of logs of domestic phone calls, contending that the once-secret program is illegal and asking a judge to both stop it and order the records purged. And, as the NYT reports, "the lawsuit, filed in New York, could set up an eventual Supreme Court test." Only once that happens it will be too bad that InTrade is no longer available, to take the other side of a trade that believes the SCOTUS will for once do the right thing and preserve the constitution when everyone knows the decision to formally enact a Big Brother state will pass along political party lines and America will officially become the country that for 5 decades, at least superficially, it was waging "cold war" against.