Once again, laws don’t matter to Obama

President Obama clearly believes what Nixon once said, that if the president does it, it’s not illegal.  Now, he’s trying to circumvent the law that helps protect patient privacy in order to restrict millions of Americans from buying firearms.

From Reuters:

President Barack Obama said he wants to see state governments contribute more names of people barred from buying guns to the database, part of a sweeping set of executive actions he announced after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December.

The database, called the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, is used by gun dealers to check whether a potential buyer is prohibited from owning a gun.

States are encouraged to report to the database the names of people who are not allowed to buy guns because they have been involuntarily committed to a mental hospital, or have been found to have serious mental illnesses by courts.

Many states do not participate. So the administration is looking at changing a health privacy rule - part of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) - to remove one potential barrier.

Here’s the problem with that.  You see, the law actually prevents people who have been adjudicated from owning firearms.  It says nothing about specific diagnosis.  It requires a court to determine an individual is unfit to own firearms.

President Obama seeks to skirt two laws in one fell swoop.

Unsurprisingly, gun rights advocates have reacted, sending thousands of letters to the Health and Human Services Department.  However, the department also received a number of comments from health professionals.

Today in Liberty: GOP Senator’s Obamacare lawsuit dismissed by a federal judge, Kevin McCarthy smears Rand Paul in Kentucky

“I used to support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I thought being ‘patriotic’ and loving my country meant never questioning foreign wars. I was all rah rah America! show ‘em who is boss!…Boy…things change. I saw too many men in their early 20s who lost limbs in war. Their entire lives destroyed. Young 22 year olds dealing with post traumatic stress. Unable to live a normal life. Too many mothers crying over caskets. They will never be able to cope with losing their son or daughter at such a young age.”Julie Borowski

DHS cancels plans to build a national license plate database

A week after posting a solicitation for contractor submissions, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) canceled its plans to build a massive database that would allow law enforcement officials to upload images of license plates that could assist federal agents in criminal investigations:

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Wednesday ordered the cancellation of a plan by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to develop a national license-plate tracking system after privacy advocates raised concern about the initiative.

The order came just days after ICE solicited proposals from companies to compile a database of license-plate information from commercial and law enforcement tag readers. Officials said the database was intended to help apprehend fugitive illegal immigrants, but the plan raised concerns that the movements of ordinary citizens under no criminal suspicion could be scrutinized.

The data would have been drawn from readers that scan the tags of every vehicle crossing their paths, and would have been accessed only for “ongoing criminal investigations or to locate wanted individuals,” officials told The Washington Post this week.

Homeland Security looking to build National License Plate Database

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) posted a solicitation last week seeking contractor submissions to build and operate a massive database that would allow federal, state and local law enforcement officials to upload images of license plates that could assist federal agents in criminal investigations.

“The database should track vehicle license plate numbers that pass through cameras or are voluntarily entered into the system from a variety of sources (access control systems, asset recovery specialists, etc.) and uploaded to share with law enforcement,” DHS wrote in its 29-page solicitation. “[National License Plate Recognition database] information will be used by DHS/ICE to assist in the location and arrest of absconders and criminal aliens.”

“Officers should be able to query the NLPR database with license plate numbers based on investigative leads to determine where and when the vehicle has traveled. This information will assist in locating criminal aliens and absconders, and will enhance officer safety by enabling arrests to occur away from a subject’s residence. The use of NLPR will reduce the man-hours required to conduct surveillance,” DHS added.

The solicitation calls for the development of smartphone technology that would allow law enforcement officers to upload an image of a license plate. If there is a match, the smartphone app will alert the officer via a notification.

Yes, President Obama, you’re spying on Americans

Rest easy, folks, President Barack Obama wants to assure you that the government isn’t spying on Americans, despite reports that the National Security Agency is collecting phone data of virutally every cell phone and Internet user in the country.

“We don’t have a domestic spying program,” President Obama declared during an appearance on The Tonight Show. “What we do have are some mechanisms where we can track a phone number or an email address that we know is connected to some sort of terrorist threat. And that information is useful.”

Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), who recently pushed an unsuccessful amendment to limit NSA data collection, contests that assertion.

“There is a program — that the Director of National Intelligence declassified, they’ve revealed it — that collects the records of every single American in the United States, regardless of whether they’re connected to any terrorist threat,” Amash told Laura Ingraham on Wednesday. “So when he says we’re tracking phone records and emails of people who are just connected to terrorist threats, that’s not true.”

ObamaCare is the next Big Brother threat

Not only are Americans dealing the NSA’s unconstitutional surveillance and metadata collection, they will also be forced to contend with yet another big government database, brought via ObamaCare, that will gain access to their vital information through data-sharing with government and third-party records:

Would you trust thousands of low-level Federal bureaucrats and contractors with one-touch access to your private financial and medical information? Under Obamacare you won’t have any choice.

Obama backing down from NSA surveillance programs?

Could President Barack Obama scale back the expansive surveillance being conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA)? While he has defended the controversial program, claiming that collection innocent Americans’ phone records was necessary to combat the threat of terrorism, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) told The New York Times that that President Obama may be re-thinking the NSA’s surveillance program due to privacy concerns:

Signs of a popular backlash against the security agency’s large-scale collection of the personal data of Americans have convinced a leading privacy advocate in Congress that the Obama administration may soon begin to back away from the most aggressive components of the agency’s domestic surveillance programs.
“I have a feeling that the administration is getting concerned about the bulk phone records collection, and that they are thinking about whether to move administratively to stop it,” he said. He added he believed that the continuing controversy prompted by [NSA leaker Edward] Snowden had changed the political calculus in Congress over the balance between security and civil liberties, which has been heavily weighted toward security since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“I think we are making a comeback,” Mr. Wyden said, referring to privacy and civil liberties advocates.

ICYMI: Ron Paul Blasts National ID Provision in Immigration Bill

Among the concerns being expressed about the Senate’s immigration bill is a provision that turns E-Verify into a de facto national ID system. Regardless of the merits of the policy itself, and there are reasonable points made by both sides of the debate, this provision has caused concern among privacy advocates.

Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the Cato Institute, recently explained some of the problems with a national ID. “There are many reasons to avoid a national ID, including their propensity to increase surveillance, the transfer of power they produce by giving governments and corporations a tool for tracking and control, and the experience of history,” he wrote. “National ID systems’ administrative efficiencies have been applied to the awful things governments can do right along with the good things.”

In a recorded message released last month through his grassroots organization, Campaign for Liberty, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) blasted the immigration bill over the provision. He called it the “worst national ID scheme the statists have come up with yet” and warned that it could be used for all manner of government overreach:

ACLU Cool to Senate Gun Control Bill


The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), an organization that traditionally been on the wrong side when it comes to the Second Amendment, has expressed some concerns with the gun control regulations being pushed by President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats, according to The Daily Caller:

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller, a top lobbyist for the ACLU announced that the group thinks Reid’s current gun bill could threaten both privacy rights and civil liberties.

The inclusion of universal background checks — the poll-tested lynchpin of most Democratic proposals — “raises two significant concerns,” the ACLU’s Chris Calabrese told TheDC Wednesday. 
“The first is that it treats the records for private purchases very differently than purchases made through licensed sellers. Under existing law, most information regarding an approved purchase is destroyed within 24 hours when a licensed seller does a [National Instant Criminal Background Check System] check now,” Calabrese said, “and almost all of it is destroyed within 90 days.”

Calabrese wouldn’t characterize the current legislation’s record-keeping provision as a “national gun registry” — which the White House has denied pursuing — but he did say that such a registry could be “a second step.”

Maryland Looking to Pass Onerous New Gun Control Measures

Maryland Capitol

Gun owners in Maryland took one on the chin on Friday as proposed gun control measures — that not only bans so-called “assault weapons” and high-capacity magazines but also puts personal privacy at risk — came one step closer to becoming reality:

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley notched a victory late Friday in a House committee that had become a linchpin in his efforts to pass one of the most far-reaching legislative responses to last year’s deadly school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

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