civil liberties

Noam Chomsky: Sarah Palin was right about Barack Obama

Noam Chomsky, a prominent leftist and professor at MIT, says that Sarah Palin got it right when she criticized then-candidate Barack Obama in 2008 for lacking substance and running on the cheap, meaningless campaign slogan of “hope” and “change.”

“With regard to other issues, [Obama] was, as he himself put it sometimes, a kind of a blank slate, didn’t say anything. There was vague talk about all kind of nice things,” Chomsky, a self-identified socialist, told Democracy Now during a recent interview.

“I don’t usually admire Sarah Palin, but when she was making fun of this ‘hopey-changey’ stuff, she was right,” said the MIT linguistics professor. “There was nothing there.”

Chomsky, praised Occupy Wall Street in the interview and complimented President Obama for far-left appointments he made to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), also said that elections in the United States’ are “public relations extravaganzas” designed to stay away from relevant issues and concerns.

Congressional backlash against NSA growing after latest revelations

Justin Amash

The latest revelations concerning the National Security Agency (NSA) could potentially tip the balance in favor of a measure to prevent the intelligence agencies from broadly spying on Americans.

Last week, the Washington Post reported that the NSA had broken privacy rules 2,776 times over a 12-month period dating back to May 2012, pushing key lawmakers to call for increased congressional oversight of the surveillance programs.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) announced plans for a hearing over the programs after the latest report, according to The Hill, and expressed concerns that Congress is “still not getting straight answers” from the administration and intelligence officials. And House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called the Washington Post’s report “extremely disturbing” and called for more congressional oversight.

But the most interesting comments about the latest revelations came from Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), who proposed an amendment last month that would have limited the NSA’s spying programs. The amendment, which was defeated by a very slim margin, would have denied funding to execute any FISA court order that isn’t specific to a person who is the subject of an actual investigation.

Obama’s big speech on NSA surveillance falls flat

 Young Americans for Liberty

President Barack Obama continues to play defense amid privacy concerns over the expansive surveillance of American citizens that his administration has carried out.

During a White House press conference on Friday afternoon, President Obama laid out a series of steps that he would be taking to ensure that Americans’ civil liberties are protected, which he hoped would help make the public better understand the surveillance programs his administration is using to spy on them.

He told the media that he would work with Congress to reform the controversial section of the PATRIOT Act that the intelligence community has used far past congressional intent. He also said that he would push to have an “independent voice” to challenge the government if civil liberties are threatened.

On its face, what President Obama said was encouraging. But after reading the speech and subsequent answers to the media, there is still much about which to be discouraged. The Electronic Frontier Foundation notes that the “devil is in the details,” and questions whether the proposed reforms will be meaningful.

Newt Gingrich backs Paul and Cruz, rethinks Republican foreign policy

Newt Gingrich

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has a message for establishment Republicans — he supports Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) in the fight for the future of the GOP. Gingrich made the comments last week during an interview with conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz are among the few members of the Republican Party courageous enough to ask important questions, and that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie represents an establishment growing “hysterical” over their strength.

“I consistently have been on the side of having the courage that Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have, and I think it’s sad to watch the establishment grow hysterical, but frankly they’re hysterical because they have no answers,” Gingrich said Thursday morning on “The Laura Ingraham Show.”

This is pretty interesting because Gingrich was once highly critical of conservatives in Congress during his speakership in the 1990’s. Some believe that it was then-Speaker Gingrich’s inital compromises with President Bill Clinton that helped push the GOP to eventually abandon the principles of the 1994 Republican Revolution.

But Gingrich has evidently had a change of heart, not just in his view of the grassroots conservative movement, but also in terms of the Republican Party’s approach to foreign policy over the last several years (emphasis added):

Federal agencies want access to NSA data

Big Brother

Well, this was completely inevitable. The New York Times reported over the weekend that a number of federal intelligence agencies want access to the surveillance tools used by the National Security Agency (NSA) to collect information on American citizens:

The National Security Agency’s dominant role as the nation’s spy warehouse has spurred frequent tensions and turf fights with other federal intelligence agencies that want to use its surveillance tools for their own investigations, officials say.

Agencies working to curb drug trafficking, cyberattacks, money laundering, counterfeiting and even copyright infringement complain that their attempts to exploit the security agency’s vast resources have often been turned down because their own investigations are not considered a high enough priority, current and former government officials say.
The security agency’s spy tools are attractive to other agencies for many reasons. Unlike traditional, narrowly tailored search warrants, those granted by the intelligence court often allow searches through records and data that are vast in scope. The standard of evidence needed to acquire them may be lower than in other courts, and the government may not be required to disclose for years, if ever, that someone was the focus of secret surveillance operations.

Decisions on using the security agency’s powers rest on many complicated variables, including a link to terrorism or “foreign intelligence,” the type of surveillance or data collection that is being conducted, the involvement of American targets, and the priority of the issue.

George Will: Chris Christie is “dangerous”

What’s more dangerous — a government that respects its limitations and the rights of its citizens or a government that can do virtually anything it wants under the guise of protecting the homeland? That’s the question that summed up the public debate between Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) that went down late last month.

George Will, an iconic conservative columnist, answered the question yesterday on ABC’s This Week, explaining libertarianism’s respect for individual liberty and noting that its Christie’s view of government that is truly dangerous.

“[T]here is a rising libertarian stream that Chris Christie has said is ‘a very dangerous thought.’ So let’s be clear about what libertarianism is and what it isn’t. It is not anarchism. It has a role in government,” noted Will during a panel on the Sunday talk show. “What libertarianism says — it comes in many flavors and many degrees of severity, and it basically says before the government abridges the freedom of an individual or the freedom of several individuals contracting together, that government ought to have, a) a compelling reason and b) a constitutional warrant for doing so.”

“Now, if Mr. Christie thinks that’s a dangerous thought, a number of people are going to say that Mr. Christie himself may be dangerous,” said Will in his usually clear and pointed tone.

Christie, Paul dust up is about the future of the Republican Party

We’ve already seen Republicans lash out at Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) due to his strong, influential advocacy for civil liberties, which is a break from Bush-era GOP orthodoxy. But we may have gotten a look last week at how it’ll play into the 2016 race for the party’s nomination.

During a panel on Thursday at the Aspen Institute, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), who has had quite the bromance with President Barack Obama, strongly spoke out against the growing libertarian tilt in the country, including both political parties, and, of course, invoked 9/11 in the process:

“This strain of libertarianism that’s going through parties right now and making big headlines I think is a very dangerous thought,” Christie said during a panel discussion with several other Republican governors at the Aspen Institute.

Asked if he was referring specifically to Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., the Republican perhaps most closely associated with a libertarian platform on defense issues and a potential rival of Christie’s in the 2016 GOP presidential primary, the New Jersey Republican replied, “You can name any number of people, and he’s one of them.”

“These esoteric, intellectual debates - I want them to come to New Jersey and sit across from the widows and the orphans and have that conversation. And they won’t, because that’s a much tougher conversation to have,” he added.

“I think what we as a country have to decide is: Do we have amnesia? Because I don’t,” he said. “And I remember what we felt like on September 12, 2001.”

South Carolina conservatives launch “Defeat Lindsey Graham”

A group of grassroots conservatives are hoping to send Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) back to South Carolina because of his big government voting record.

Carolina Conservatives United has launched a campaign targeting Graham and rolled out a new ad that paints the him as inconsistent and out of touch with the values of the state on a number of issues, including civil liberties and immigration. Bruce Carroll, chairman of Carolina Conservatives United, pointed to Graham’s voting record and “contempt” for grassroots, limited government activists as the reason for the group taking action in advance of next year’s primary.

“As residents of South Carolina and grassroots activists in the conservative movement, we are concerned not only about Lindsey Graham’s voting record on important issues but also the contempt he regularly displays toward small-government conservative citizens,” said Carroll in a statement from the organization. “We never know which Lindsey Graham will show up in Washington each day. He’s more likely to side with liberal Senate Democrats on important votes than with Senator Tim Scott or the South Carolina Republican Congressional delegation.”

Chatting with Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA)

“We want to get rid of ObamaCare and replace it with something that empowers families and individuals or, actually, what the President said years ago, he said if you like your insurance you can keep it. We sort of would like to see that happen, and that’s not happening right now.” — Rep. Tom Graves

In 2010, Republicans were able to capitalize on distrust of ObamaCare and the continued effects of the economic downturn and gain control of the House of Representatives. What many don’t realize is that the Tea Party wave was first kicked off during a special election for a open House seat in Georgia.

Tom Graves made a name for himself in the Peach State, taking principled stances for fiscal restraint and reform in the state legislature over the party line. He was able to dispatch an establishment-backed candidate in the special election and has taken his message of free markets and individual liberty to Washington.

On Tuesday, United Liberty caught up with Graves, who represents Georgia’s 14th Congressional District, to discuss the latest on the push to defund ObamaCare, which is one of his biggest legislative issues, and much more.

Graves explained that the push to defund ObamaCare is nothing new for him. This has been one of his goals since first coming to Congress, but he, like many in Washington, has been embolden by the Obama Administration’s recent delay of the individual mandate.

American Media Focused on Snowden, Ignores NSA Spying

Edward Snowden

When news broke that the National Security Agency was spying on American citizens via a program called PRISM, there was outrage.  News reports appeared everywhere.  Many people wanted to know how revealed this information.  So, somewhat reluctantly, Edward Snowden stepped forward to admit he had leaked the information, despite the risk he was taking.

Many people may have questioned the validity of the information Snowden shared with the world without knowing who revealed it and how they had access to it.  Clearly, Snowden did.  Unfortunately, now all the news has been about this man, rather than the information he shared.

The NSA is spying on millions upon millions of Americans.  We have their word that they can’t or won’t do anything with what they’re picking up, but really? I’m supposed to take their word for it?  Pardon me if I’m less than accepting.

However, Big Media doesn’t give a damn about all that.  They want to know what color Snowden’s poop is and where that poop is today and where it will be tomorrow.

Over at the Freedom of the Press Foundation:

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