civil liberties

Was it all worth it?

As every last soul has surely heard by now, Osama bin Laden is dead.  Finally located and taken out by American special forces, the death of bin Laden marks a significant moment for America.  The occasion was marked by numerous celebrations and expressions of profound relief and satisfaction, coupled with a harsh brushing of the wounds left by 9/11.  Whether it helps Obama’s political fortunes is yet to be seen, but it surely has raised Americans’ spirits.

But one question still remains in the minds of many - were the sacrifices we have made up to this point worth it?  Over the past nine years Americans have had their privacy invaded, their values called into question, and their coffers tapped to fund two wars expensive in both treasure and blood.  We’ve certainly engaged in some ugly practices in our anger over what bin Laden did to us on that fall day in 2001.  Your average citizen may never know the true extent of the things done in the name of fighting terrorism.

It’s clear to me then that we have paid an immense price for this victory, one that is hard to justify in retrospect.  It’s hard to look at the way our lives have profoundly changed and not say that, despite the fact that his life ended at the point of an American rifle, Osama bin Laden will go down as a victor.  His actions have altered the American landscape permanently and have led us to do things that we ought be ashamed of.

Podcast: Liberty Candidate - John Dennis (California’s 8th District)

Continuing our “Liberty Candidate Series” of interviews, Jason and Brett talk with John Dennis, discussing his opponent, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, liberty in San Francisco, and his candidacy.  Dennis is a “Pro-Liberty” Republican candidate for U.S. Congress in California’s 8th Congressional District.

This special edition podcast is the fifth in a series devoted to showcasing liberty candidates nationwide.  Dennis talks about his liberty-focused campaign against the Speaker of the House in California.

You can download the podcast here. The introduction music is “Silence is Violence” by the always lovely Aimee Allen.

You can subscribe to the RSS of JUST our podcasts here, or you can find our podcasts on iTunes here.

Podcast: Liberty Candidate - Jake Towne (Pennsylvania’s 15th District)

Continuing the Liberty Candidate Series, Brett interviews Jake Towne, discussing his campaign, positions on issues, and his candidacy.  Towne is running for U.S. Congress in Pennsylvania’s 15th Congressional District as an unaffiliated candidate.

This special edition podcast is the fourth in a series devoted to showcasing liberty candidates nationwide.  Towne talks about his fiscal economics-driven campaign against an incumbent Republican in Pennsylvania (in a seat previously held by Pat Toomey).

You can download the podcast here. The introduction music is “Silence is Violence” by the always lovely Aimee Allen.

You can subscribe to the RSS of JUST our podcasts here, or you can find our podcasts on iTunes here.

Campaign for Liberty Staffer Questioned by TSA for Carrying Cash

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Campaign for Liberty staffer, Steve Bierfeldt, tells his story about being detained by the TSA and police because of the amount of cash he was carrying on him, and why the MIAC report factored into his decision to tread carefully while answering questions.

H/T: Matt Chancey

Spoof: Big Brother Helps You Order a Pizza

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Ok, so it’s not really this bad… yet.  But if the incremental intrusions into our privacy aren’t stopped, a phone call like this isn’t so far-fetched for our future.

Peter Schiff: Why the Meltdown Should Have Surprised No One

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Naturally a recurrent theme of this lecture was monetary policy, specifically having to do with the dollar’s spiral toward hyper-inflation in the midst of the current economic collapse.  Schiff stressed that sooner than later the rest of the world, more importantly those still buying our debt would wise up to our inability to repay those fiscal obligations.  He told a short story about a wily old man in a certain neighborhood who had hoodwinked the neighborhood kids into vying for the job of painting his fence.  He related the metaphor by surmising, “We’ve got the world painting our fences, as if they don’t have their own fences to paint.”  Essentially, he said the way it is now, we get all the stuff and they only get the jobs.  He then fittingly asked, “What good are jobs without stuff?”  In short, we are barreling straight toward a currency crisis.

Ted Cruz says the new and improved USA FREEDOM Act would end the NSA’s unconstitutional spying program

The new version of the USA FREEDOM Act rolled out on Tuesday by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has picked up the support of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who announced the addition of his name a cosponsor.

The latest version of the USA FREEDOM Act, a compromise Leahy worked out with the White House, would end the National Service Agency’s bulk metadata collection program as well as add a civil liberties panel to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to provide some much-needed oversight.

Cruz hailed the measure a bipartisan approach to ending NSA spying.

“Republicans and Democrats are showing America that the government can respect the privacy rights of law-abiding citizens, while at the same time, giving law enforcement the tools needed to target terrorists,” said Cruz in a press release on Tuesday. “The USA FREEDOM Act of 2014 ends the government’s bulk record collection program and implements other necessary surveillance reforms.”

“Importantly, it also sends a strong signal that a bipartisan coalition in Congress is working to safeguard our privacy rights,” said Cruz. “I am honored to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle toward delivering this bill to the President’s desk for his signature. We need to protect the constitutional rights of every American.”

Stop the NSA: There is a new push in Congress to end the NSA’s unconstitutional domestic surveillance programs

There may finally be a passable piece of legislation in Congress to end the National Service Agency’s bulk metadata collection program as well as add some much-needed oversight to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

After working with the White House on compromise language, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) rolled out legislation — a new USA FREEDOM Act — today that would protect Americans’ civil liberties from the NSA’s spying programs:

Leahy’s bill would prevent the possibility of that broad collection by requiring agents use specific terms in their searches.

It also requires the government to disclose the number of people caught up in its searches, declare how many of them were Americans and provides more ways for tech companies to report the number of government requests for information they receive, which firms have said is critical to restoring people’s trust in their products.

Finally, Leahy’s bill would also add a panel of special civil liberties advocates to the secretive court overseeing intelligence operations, which currently only hears arguments from the government.

In announcing the bill, Leahy trumpeted support from tech companies including Apple and Google, which have teamed up with other tech giants in the Reform Government Surveillance coalition, as well as privacy groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Democracy and Technology.

Sorry, Chuck Schumer, Ted Cruz is right about Democrats’ plans to repeal political speech protections in the First Amendment

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) touched a nerve when he blasted Senate Democrats for the constitutional amendment they want to pass that would ostensibly repeal the political speech protections of the First Amendment.

Politico Magazine ran a piece earlier this week by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) in which they claimed Cruz is wrong because of certain “balancing tests” on free speech.

Basically, the two Democrats compare their absurdly unreasonable constitutional amendment to completely reasonable limitations on free speech, including safety restrictions, laws against libel, and — drumroll, please — prohibitions on child pornography. Yeah, really, they went there (emphasis added):

Stop Congress from allowing Obama’s NSA to collect more of your personal data

Yes we scan

At a time when the National Security Agency can collect the phone records and communications of millions of innocent Americans without a warrant or cause, the Senate Intelligence Committee is pushing a measure that would allow the controversial agency to access more of our personal information.

Privacy and public interest organizations have come out strongly against the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), a measure that will make it easier for businesses to share information with the federal government, including the NSA.

In a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), and committee members, the organizations explained how CISA poses a risk to Americans’ privacy.

“Over the last year,” the letter states, “the public has learned that the National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies have significantly stretched the meaning of statutory provisions of law in order to gather sensitive information on hundreds of millions of Americans.”

The organizations behind the letter include the American Civil Liberties Union, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, FreedomWorks, and the R Street Institute.

The organizations explain that the NSA simply isn’t an honest player when it comes to Americans’ civil liberties. The intelligence agency has searched Americans’ communications without a warrant using laws that authorize the surveillance of only people outside of the United States and has exploited vulnerabilities in tech firms’ software and programs.

 


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