National Security

Obama Welcomes Terrorists, Shuns Allies

If we have learned nothing else from the Obama years, it is that Obama cannot be trusted. In his first days in office he insulted one of our strongest allies, England, when he returned a bust of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill (and in the first attempted assassination by boredom, Obama later sent to Queen Elizabeth an iPod containing a collection of his speeches). This was followed by truly dangerous actions, which put our allies in harm’s way, as with his decision to renege on our commitment to Poland and the Czech Republic to build a missile shield in Eastern Europe as a firewall against Russian aggression. Obama instead sent Hillary to Russia with a “reset” button for Putin, and we all know how disastrously that turned out.

Yet none have felt the consequences of Obama’s betrayal as harshly as have our allies whom he abandoned in Iraq and Afghanistan after making the decision to unilaterally withdraw U.S. forces against the recommendations of his senior theater commanders and top military advisers. Claiming he was leaving behind a “stable, sovereign, and self-reliant Iraq”, Obama left them to fend for themselves. In the vacuum created by the exit of American forces, we have witnessed the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, as well as the rise of the most brutal, murderous Islamist terror regime we’ve seen to date, ISIS.

Red State: Obama’s better than Rand Paul on security

randdove

Not content to let Rand Paul have his minor, temporary Patriot Act sunset victory, conservative blogger and video auteur Ben Howe took to Red State just minutes before the expiration of the act’s surveillance powers to proclaim the Kentucky senator and presidential candidate worse than Obama on national security.

As far as I’m concerned, Rand Paul’s view of ISIS and our role in “creating” them is pretty much a deal breaker. It shows such an uninformed and naive view of radical Islam that it makes me expect President Paul to be as dangerous as a President Obama in this regard. In fact I’ve reached the point where I question whether Obama might actually keep us safer than Rand Paul would.

Howe joins a crescendoing chorus of Republicans who might have a hard decision to make come November 2016 if Rand Paul is indeed the party’s nominee. I predicted this intra-party schism almost two years ago, but I’m stunned by the accelerated timeline. I expected Republicans hawks to flip to Hillary if Rand was the nominee. I didn’t expect them to all but do so 8 months before any primary votes are cast.

Whether or not you think it’s outrageous for Rand to have said “hawks in our party” “created” ISIS, let’s review the evidence. (Because that’s what thinking people do. We don’t just hear something that sounds outrageous, gasp, and shun the speaker.)

Hillary Clinton’s email could be far worse for national security than Edward Snowden’s leaks were alleged to have been

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In the months following the Edward Snowden disclosures of NSA surveillance procedures, hysterical establishment hawks chose to warn of the potential damage to national security from the leaks, instead of condemning the blatantly unconstitutional violations of American citizens’ privacy. Even former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed Snowden had helped terrorists by releasing that information. As it turns out, the private email servers she was keeping for State Department communications may have been even worse.

Not only were her unarchived communications in violation of 20-year old federal records regulations, they were also terribly, horrifically unsecure.

The government typically uses military-grade certificates and encryption schemes for its internal communications that designed with spying from foreign intelligence agencies in mind. But the ClintonEmail.com setup? “If you’re buying jam online,” says Hansen, “you’re fine.” But for anything beyond consumer-grade browsing, it’s a shoddy arrangement.

Here’s why Rand Paul’s critics are epically wrong about foreign policy

The reaction to Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s Wall Street Journal column on Middle East interventionism isn’t surprising. Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post called Paul “ignorant” and suggests he could be lying about the arguments for and against. Adriana Cohen at the Boston Herald called him “clueless” and someone who should “wake up to reality.” Pema Levy at Newsweek says Paul is just trying to copy a page out of President Barack Obama’s 2008 playbook regarding opposition to the Iraq War. The Democrats called Paul’s foreign policy slogan “Blame America. Retreat from the World.”

This isn’t true at all. He told Breitbart.com on August 27 he was in favor of airstrikes against ISIS, but wanted to talk to Congress first. That’s the Constitutional stance because Congress has to approve war.

Stop Obama from spying on innocent Americans

 STOP. SPYING. ON. ME.

In a “surprising and sudden move,” the House Judiciary Committee will mark up an amended version of the USA FREEDOM Act on Wednesday.

As reported in National Journal:

The maneuver [by the House Judiciary Committee] may also be a counter to plans the House Intelligence Committee has to push forward a competing bill that privacy advocates say would not go far enough to curb the government’s sweeping surveillance programs.

Indeed, just hours after the Freedom Act earned a markup date, the Intelligence Committee announced it, too, would move forward with a markup of its own NSA bill—the FISA Transparency and Modernization Act—on Thursday.

The more aggressive Freedom Act is sponsored by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, the one-time mastermind behind the post-9/11 Patriot Act, from which both the Obama and Bush administrations have derived much of the legal authority for their surveillance programs. Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican, has vocally condemned NSA spying since Edward Snowden’s leaks surfaced last June. The bill has long been supported by privacy and civil-liberties groups who view it as the best legislative reform package in Congress.

The Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman notes possible tension between attempts to pass two different (but related) bills:

Snowden raised concerns with supervisors before going to the press

It’s still hard for some of us to grasp the motives behind Edward Snowden’s decision to go straight to the press.

Some question why government officials were never warned that pressing concerns related to the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs had to be addressed , and some even question the goals behind the final disclosure of the confidential programs to the press.

While all questions are valid and should be addressed timely, recent reports show that Snowden’s recent testimony to the European Parliament assured the public that his concerns had been discussed with at least 10 officials before he decided to go to the press. According to the report, Snowden would have a hard time pursuing any further whistleblowing mainly because of his status as a contractor.

According to the testimony, the decision to go to the press to leak confidential documents only came to Snowden after he exhausted all other formal avenues.

When asked about the circumstances, Snowden replied that he “had reported these clearly problematic programs to more than ten distinct officials, none of whom took any action to address them.” Edward Snowden’s status as an employee of a private company hired by the U.S. government makes it impossible for the contractor to be protected by whistleblower laws, which are only valid to U.S. government direct employees.

Snowden claimed that because he encountered these legal issues, he feared he “would not have been protected from retaliation and legal sanction for revealing classified information about lawbreaking in accordance with the recommended process.”

Maryland Republicans Introduce Bill to Fight NSA

Eight Maryland Republicans introduced the Fourth Amendment Protection Act last Thursday. The bill would keep local government from providing resources to the National Security Agency while it’s engaged in any form of spying programs. According to OffNow.org, the bill would make any data gathered by the NSA inadmissible in state court.

The piece of legislation is based on the model legislation drafted by the Tenth Amendment Center that is being used by lawmakers in several other states to fight the NSA’s unconstitutional surveillance locally.

Maryland is basically the National Security Agency’s political subdivision, according to the Tenth Amendment Center’s executive director Michael Boldin. The agency’s home base in Ft. Meade, Maryland uses a massive amount of water, which would be denied to the agency if the legislation passes. Local governments would be denied state funds if they refuse to comply with the law and companies would be blocked from maintaining any state contract if they choose to cooperate with the NSA.

Eight Republicans are defending Maryland’s HB 1074 in the House of Delegates. The bill will only pass with the approval of three-fifths of delegates. The introduction of the legislation follows reports concerning a contract renewal between the NSA and Howard County, Maryland that will provide the agency with up to 5 million gallons of water per day. The water is used to cool the agency’s supercomputers, which would not be functioning if it weren’t for all of the water provided by local governments.

Has NSA spying poisoned the growing cloud computing industry?

Domestic spying by our nation’s security services have truly injured our nation’s commitment to civil liberties, and have made us all wonder how safe our privacy truly is. The revelations made by Edward Snowden—plus further discoveries such as the NSA intercepting computer purchases to install transmitters to track and spy on consumers, and turning on your webcam to look at you without your knowledge—have triggered demonstrations across the country, a rise in awareness of privacy software such as Tor and use of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Yet people I talk to—both in the real world and in cyberspace—are cynical about the chances of genuine reform, and it always comes back to this: Does it hurt big business?

Such is life when our economy is as corporatist as it is. Things will only change if the big corporations that stand to make a ton of cash feel threatened. Even though there have been some noise made by Verizon, Google, Apple, and other companies, most people shrug these off as just public relations, just throwing a bone to their privacy minded consumers but not actually changing anything on the back-end. However, as a recent paper by the R Street Institute’s (disclosure: I am an associate policy analyst there) Steven Titch explains, NSA spying may have potentially poisoned one of the greatest developments of the Web 2.0: cloud computing.

Are the NSA data collection programs hurting the economy?

What happens when businesses aren’t able to provide the service that customers were promised? That’s right: customers get mad.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has published a report indicating that the National Security Agency’s massive surveillance programs aren’t simply putting an end only to our privacy rights; they are also causing major damage to the economy.

Once revelations surfaced and the public was made aware that the spying programs were collecting phone and Internet data from average Americans, major sectors of the U.S economy started to feel the financial damage caused by the loss of consumer confidence. According to EEF, companies that have been compromised by the revelations regarding the surveillance programs are watching as U.S. trade partners simply distance themselves to avoid any potential problems or even lawsuits in the future.

Vodafone, a major European company, was on its way to becoming a sister company to AT&T, whose desire to purchase the European giant was well documented, until the moment details concerning the NSA’s data-collection programs came to light. According to the Wall Street Journal, AT&T could face major issues trying to purchase Vodafone since the company has been under scrutiny for participating in the NSA’s surveillance programs.

Justin Amash details how the Intelligence Committee kept important documents from House members

Justin Amash speaks at LPAC

While some continue to defend that House members had access to important classified NSA surveillance documents before having to vote on it, Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) reported that he and his colleagues were only contacted to learn they would have the opportunity to review the classified document through an internal communications system for Congress that is used by members when they need to send each other interoffice mail. Because of the great volume of messages, few House members or staffers check the messages posted through the “e-Dear Colleague” system.

According to Amash, the House Intelligence Committee made the document available for review shortly before Congress’ summer recess and without notifying staffers directly, which is the procedure when members must be made aware of important intelligence briefings.

After the Intelligence Committee notified members through the “e-Dear Colleague” system, Rep. Amash informed some of his colleagues of the briefing on his own. According to Amash, the only representatives who actually showed up at the briefing were the ones that had been contacted by Amash or his office after the message was sent to members via the internal messaging tool.


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