House Republicans move forward on Benghazi, analyzing testimony for contradictions

A group of House Republicans is reviewing testimony provided by witnesses who have testified in front of congressional committees looking into the 2012 attack on the American compound in Benghazi which claimed the lives of four Americans.

In an interview with United Liberty on Thursday afternoon, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, explained that he and several other House Republicans have been reviewing testimony from congressional witnesses to look for contradictory statements.

Westmoreland said that he went to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) approximately six weeks ago to get his blessing to form a group consisting of members of three key House committees — Oversight and Government Reform, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs. He wanted members with prosecutorial experience to build a potential case.

“We would look at the testimony, we would look at a list of witnesses that have testified in front of Government Oversight and Foreign Affairs,” Westmoreland told United Liberty. “And we would look at them, and we would look at their testimony and see if there [were] any contradictions in testimonies that may have been presented by somebody else at another committee.”

Boehner’s staff contacted Westmoreland two weeks later, offering staff support to assist the group as it reviews some 50,000 pages of testimony and interviews.

“[I]t’s a small group,” said Westmoreland. “We don’t want any big committee chairs, we wanted the average run-of-the-mill kind of guy that could look at this and not be on TV every night, or be doing interviews and trying to make a lot of gain out of it, because the American people, they want to know the truth, and that’s what we’re doing our best.”

Ron Paul: IRS is coming after Campaign for Liberty

Ron Paul

Campaign for Liberty is doing everything it can to fight back against harassment from the Internal Revenue Service over access its donor list, but former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) warns that fines the organization faces could be “devastating.”

“Well, they’re after us,” Paul, a three-time presidential candidate, told Neil Cavuto on Wednesday. “They want money from us. They fined us almost $13,000 with daily penalties if we don’t cough it up.”

In an email to supporters on Thursday, Paul, who founded Campaign for Liberty in 2008, explained that the IRS had handed liberty-minded nonprofit with “a hefty fine” and “demanded” that it “turn over sensitive contributor information.”

Paul told Cavuto that the IRS asked for Campaign for Liberty’s donor list two years ago, but that the organization managed to get the tax agency to back off, citing a civil rights-era Supreme Court decision.

“[T]he NAACP fought this way back in 1958 and it was ruled by the Supreme Court [that] you don’t have to turnover names for privacy reasons,” he said. “And they asked us to do that two years ago. We didn’t do it. They accepted our letter, but they’re back at it again.”

It is officially time to primary John McCain

When the people get annoyed with a milquetoast incumbent, invariably there are at least a few calls to primary the person, to get them out. Most times it’s all bluster, out of pure frustration, that won’t lead to anything. That’s typically the case because of the one thing that keeps incumbents in office - name recognition. People get used to seeing that name, and out of a sense of not wanting to step into the unknown by trusting a new one.

That’s the case when the first calls to primary an incumbent happen, because people that haven’t been deeply involved in running for public office anywhere tend to throw their hats in the proverbial ring. As time goes by, and disillusionment grows, candidates that the people recognize start being considered as viable options.

John McCain will likely be facing a primary challenge, if any of the people mentioned in a recent Citizens United Victory Fund poll decide to run. Arizonians are most likely to end up with a new Senator if Gov. Jan Brewer or Rep. Matt Salmon decide to run. Based on the current numbers from that poll, either one would easily win against McCain in a primary today.

If both Brewer and Salmon would choose to run against McCain in a primary, it would be an historic race. It’s not very common to see a three-way race involving two challengers and an incumbent, with the challengers being in the fight to win, while the incumbent is the irrelevant candidate.

Majority of Americans Say Federal Taxes Are Just Too High

Americans are scrambling to have their taxes prepared by the end of the day to satisfy Uncle Sam’s thirst for their hard-earned money. Their lack of enthusiasm could have something to do with the fact that over half of the population claims taxes are just too high.

According to Gallup, 42 percent of Americans still say that they are paying enough, or “about right,” while 52 percent say that the taxes they are paying are too high. About two years ago, 46 percent of Americans said taxes were too high, indicating that there has been an increase in the number of people feeling they are simply paying too much.

Gallop found that the view that taxes are fair is more popular among Democrats, whereas Republicans tend to see their tax burden as not fair. According to the latest poll, 54 percent of Americans still regard the income tax as fair. However, this view is becoming less popular over time. According to Gallup, it hasn’t been this low since 2001.

Among Republicans, 57 percent say taxes are too high and 49 percent say what they pay is not fair. Among Democrats, 55 percent say they pay about right, and 69 percent say that what they pay is fair.

Among Independents, the numbers indicate that the difference between those who think their taxes are fair and those who think taxes are not fair is of 7 percent. Slightly more Independents (51%) say the federal income tax they have to pay is fair against 44 percent that say the taxes they pay are not fair.

NSA knew about and used Heartbleed web exploit

The tech web has been abuzz this week about what has been dubbed “Heartbleed,” a code exploit in the OpenSSL encryption system, which could have allowed hackers and cyberterrorists to access login credentials from some of the biggest websites in the world over the last two years. Lists were quickly constructed to explain to users which sites were affected and which passwords they needed to change immediately.

It turns out the NSA has known about the Heartbleed vulnerability for years, but never warned anyone that millions of Americans’ online identities could be at risk. Indeed, not only did they not sound the alarm, the  NSA used the bug to access those online accounts in its already questionable surveillance activities.

Liberals Frothing at the Mouth over McCutcheon Ruling

“Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.” — William F. Buckley Jr.

For the second time in four years, liberals all over America are once again in the throes of apoplectic rage at the Supreme Court over a decision expanding free speech rights.

On January 21, 2010, in a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that the First Amendment protections of free speech prohibit the government from restricting political donations by corporations (and labor unions, but you never hear the left complaining about that).

This ruling became a rallying cry for the left, who decry the corrupting influence of money on our political process. Eight days after the decision, Barack Obama stood before the assembled members of the House and Senate, as well as the justices of the Supreme Court, and railed against the immorality and danger of the decision.

Quoth Emperor Barack, “With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that, I believe, will open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections…I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests or, worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people. And I urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps correct some of these problems.”

Supreme Court Rejects NSA Phone Spying Case

After U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon’s preliminary injunction was issued back in December, which kept the NSA from gathering metadata pertaining to certain Verizon customers who took part in a lawsuit filed by conservative legal activist Larry Klayman, the Supreme Court decided to refrain from reviewing the case.

According to Judge Leon’s ruling, the Justice Department didn’t produce enough evidence to make him believe that the massive surveillance program was justified, which led to his decision to call the NSA’s surveillance programs unconstitutional.

The decision was announced Monday.

Per the rules of the court, at least four of the nine justices must agree on taking up the cause for a full review before it’s accepted, but since the process failed to grant the case a go, the constitutionality of the National Security Agency’s surveillance program remains unchecked by the Supreme Court.

The debate over President Barack Obama’s proposal to change how data gathered by private companies will be stored has also sparked this administration’s harshest critics, especially when it comes to the unconstitutional surveillance programs carried out by the NSA.

ZunZuneo and the New Covert Action

ZunZuneo

It’s an odd little story, but the AP report on ZunZuneo, a social media platform released in Cuba and reportedly designed by a US organization (USAID) with ties to the State Department to mimic the functionality of Twitter and — possibly? — stir popular unrest, is fascinating for its implications. Notably: social media may be the modern theater of the neoconservative.

Whatever one’s particular lean on the issue, it’s generally accepted that neoconservatives seek to influence — some call it ideological imperialism — non-democratic systems toward the principals of democracy. Sometimes through diplomacy, sometimes through regime change.

It looks like social media is possibly being tested as a communication tool to effectively stir up revolutionary thought in countries perceived as hostile to X ideology. Something like a Radio Free Europe but through smart phones and text messages.

Reasonable people can disagree on the moral and/or strategic good of such a program, again, depending on your lean toward or away from libertarianism and/or interventionism, but as Ed Morrissey at HotAir points out, this particular program leaves a troubling taste in the mouth:

House NSA reformer: “There’s more than enough votes to pass the FREEDOM Act”

A leading critic of the NSA bulk data collection program says the votes exist in the House of Representatives to pass the USA FREEDOM Act, a sweeping measure that would end bulk data collection and protect Americans’ privacy rights.

Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) told The Hill last week that he would offer an amendment to address the NSA bulk meta collection programs if the White House and House Intelligence Committee proposal fall short. Now that he’s had time to review them, the Michigan Republican believes the dueling measures don’t stop bulk data collection at all.

“The proposals from the White House and the Intelligence Committee don’t really make much of a difference. They don’t actually stop bulk collection,” Amash said in an interview on Wednesday. “They transfer where the data is held, but the government can still access it in basically the same way.”

Amash supports the USA FREEDOM Act, introduced in October by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI). This measure would not only end the bulk data collection program, it would also close loopholes the NSA could use to access Americans’ personal records.

The USA FREEDOM Act has broad, bipartisan support — a rarity in Washington these days — but it’s currently stalled in the House Judiciary Committee, though Amash notes that it has “a lot of support” from its members.

Harry Reid defending ObamaCare with lies

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has been making headlines with his comments on the Senate floor. Calling citizens liars, acting on behalf of the Koch brothers was round one, followed by a denial that he’d ever said that.

While generally despicable, this sort of commentary from Reid is not uncommon. Some might explain it away by pointing out that he’s getting old, and has been in Washington for too long. This sort of situation definitely makes a case for term limits, however that’s a debate for another time.

No, perhaps it is time to revisit a time-honored portion of the Constitution that Senators and Representatives have enjoyed — arguably has kept quite a few, like Reid, from facing legal issues over statements they have made.

Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution protects them from facing legal action for statements that they make on the floor of either house. While it’s idealistic to think that the Framers intended this to prevent problems arising from unintentionally erroneous statements, that probably wasn’t the case. Even then, politics was a blood sport, so they wanted the freedom to beat each other verbally without any restrictions against lying about each other — or the public.

Reid, if one does not buy senility or insanity as an excuse, has been trying to elevate this practice of fibbing on the floor to an art form. His latest target was fellow member Tom Coburn, and Reid definitely is reaching for new depths with this one. Coburn is a medical doctor and is battling cancer.

 
 


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