Monthly Archives: June 2013

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Changing attitudes on the USA PATRIOT Act

spy_camera_CCTV.jpgThe USA PATRIOT Act was passed with near unanimous and bipartisan support (Senate vote, House vote) and signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001. Many controversial provisions wisely included sunset clauses which would force Congress to reauthorize them at least once, otherwise they’d expire and no longer be valid law.

Both President Bush and Barack Obama have advocated for those provisions to be repeatedly renewed, but it didn’t take very long for a lot of congressmen to regret what they had done.

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Left vs Right on the national security surveillance state

This isn’t a right or a left thing, this is a POTUS and a bunch of corrput (sic) politics getting involved in your persoanl (sic) business.

Is that right?

It depends on what exactly the discussion is. The NSA phone/CC dragnet has now run during two administrations of opposing ideologies, but there are differences even in how that program was operated during that span. I’m not a lawyer, but my best estimate is that this program which dates back at least to 2006, was flatly illegal. Otherwise there wouldn’t have been any need for Congress to pass the Protect America Act in 2007 and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, the two laws that are now used to justify the legality of that dragnet.

It’s significant and meaningful that this program was run illegally by one administration initially, but not the other.

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Administration claims that newly-revealed spying programs thwarted a terrorist attack appear false

Najibullah ZaziMany people — including those who are perhaps a little too anxious to shoot down the controversial NSA phone/credit card dragnet and PRISM information technology spying program as if they were another manufactured Benghazi — are claiming that one or both of these programs were responsible for stopping a terrorist attack inside the United States in 2009.

While the government did stop such an attack by Najibullah Zazi, who pleaded guilty to planning an attack in early 2010, anonymous claims by the Obama administration that these programs were responsible appear intentionally misleading.

The NPR article linked above from 2009 made no mention of any previously unknown intelligence programs that lead the government to suspect Zazi was planning an attack or the existence of his email accounts. It attributes successful surveillance of Zazi to an FBI investigation, not one by the NSA, that used ordinary subpoenas and wiretaps under existing authority from the USA Patriot Act and FISA court orders.

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When citizens are forced to be journalists

Glenn GreenwaldI was surprised and really pleased that Glenn Greenwald landed two major news scoops this week on the unbounded national security/surveillance state.

The New York Times and Washington Post still have their share of big stories, but nothing much lately. As some anti-journalism conservative sites have pointed out, few of the big stories this year have actually be exposed by real news organizations.

There never was a real story over Benghazi (other than the initial tragedy itself). All media coverage in the past few months has been of the entertainment nature, covering the hearings in the House (while ignoring them in the Democratic Senate) which failed to reveal any new information. All coverage of “MemoGate 2” ceased when the White House released emails which backed the administration’s version of events and showed the controversy to be politically-driven campaigning with no wrong-doing to be found.

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I want the conservative to win

Mediaite’s resident Fox News wanna-be Noah Rothman went after David Frum this morning for making sense and not being a blind ideologue.

Frum is one of those guys who doesn’t see the world through the “me first” political generation filter, a Joe Scarborough-Republican who holds conservative views and occasionally believes stupid things (like us all) but won’t ignore reality when it presents a negative narrative for his party.

Rothman seems like he’s auditioning for Rush Limbaugh’s job most days, with less overt racism, but still a human being built like a commercial enterprise whose profit is the domination of American society with conservative policies that can never, ever be wrong.

David Frum doesn’t toe the party line when he thinks it’s wrong, and all too often the result of that are these RINO (Republican in name only) attacks and accusations of not being a true conservative.

It’s persecution and hubris and I don’t think any of that is in dispute.

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