Email

Hillary Clinton, Mrs. Cellophane

cellophane

There was a minute this morning when it appeared Hillary Clinton may have gotte a reprieve from her rather commanding domination of the news cycle since deciding to keep on being her by using a private server as Secretary of State.

Alas, it was not to be, because the nail-chewing drama of potentially another Black Friday had abated a bit by lunchtime and they were back to the new narrative: are the Democrats just plain tired of the Clintons? Or, in the new speak, are they soooooo over Hillary?

I had a little Twitter slap fight recently over the fact that my answer to that question, and to the question of whether she’ll outlast calls to investigate the blatant violations concerning her private server, are no and yes, respectively.

I don’t love it any more than you do, fellow conservatives, but she, in the words of the great Gloria Gaynor, will survive. How do I know? Two reasons: 1. I’ve seen enough in my short time running around this town to know that scandals go away with enough money and influence; and if you know how to couch your language, you’re in good shape. (“I did not send or recive anything that was classified at the time.”)

Today in Liberty: Email Scandals, Threats to Signature Legislation, and Netflix’s Discovery That Big Government Is No Friend

bcchillary

Plenty of red meat in the news these days, from Hillary Clinton’s homebrewed email server to the US Ambassador to South Korea getting slashed in the face. Taken individually, these stories are just a fun diversion as part of surprisingly full news cycle. Taken together, however, they represent a potential sea change in how government functions — and how citizens and voters are reacting to it. Not surprising that things are changing in the time of NSA data gathering, a newly confident Russia, and the (continued) rise of the brutal Islamic State. So here’s a rundown for those seeking the little glimmers of liberty buried under the chaos.

CPAC happened last week and there was an air of excitement and momentum surrounding the incredibly deep GOP field leading into 2016’s presidential election. Scott Walker has ramped up his game and Jeb Bush tried to make the case that he’s not just the guy the Democrats would love to see make a run. And Rand Paul, as he usually does, won the straw poll largely due to the contingent of young voters who attend the annual gathering. A really great thing in fact because it means the millenials may actually be migrating to the right at a greater clip than anyone knew. But while Rand won the youth, social media and news data says that Scott Walker’s the one to watch…for now:

Just what can the NSA do with information

Micky Aldridge (CC)

How many times have you thought about returning an email to someone, and realized that you couldn’t immediately find that person’s original message? Stands to reason that once you’re at that point, you end up dropping the cursor into the little search bar that’s sitting on the top of just about every email client and webmail page, started typing in the person’s name, to run a search. It’s something that just about everyone with an email account anywhere has done, and taken for granted. Now, imagine if you couldn’t do that - or you couldn’t search for a specific topic within your emails.

Well, that’s what the NSA would like to have people believe about their system. According to a report from Pro Publica, the agency can’t seem to fulfill Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests that happen to include at least a single domain for the outside source of emails, and a specific time period to search for said emails.

“There’s no central method to search an email at this time with the way our records are set up, unfortunately,” NSA Freedom of Information Act officer Cindy Blacker told me last week.

The system is “a little antiquated and archaic,” she added.

The Specter of Internet Taxation

As the U.S. Postal Service closes 53 processing plants to trim $2 billion from its bloated budget, government officials - who earlier floated ideas to suspend Saturday service - look for other ideas to balance their budget. While USPS handles 40 percent of all the mail delivered in the world, it lost $15.9 billion last year with revenues of $65 billion. What’s more, its unfunded pension liabilities are nearly $50 billion.

Instead of privatizing the postal service - which would allow it to compete with FedEx and UPS, who seem to be able to make profits even up against a subsidized postal service - a California city councilman is proposing a tax on email as a fix:

Berkeley City Councilman Gordon Wozniak brought up taxing emails during a recent council meeting. He suggested the money collected, which would be part of a wider-reaching Internet tax, could be used in Berkeley’s case to save the local post office.

“There should be something like a bit tax,” he said during the March 5 meeting. “I mean, a bit tax could be a cent per gigabit and they would make, probably, billions of dollars a year.”

Plus, he said, there should be a “very tiny tax on email.”

New Hillary email controversy perfectly describes the federal government

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No, not that email controversy. No, not that one either. This one:

In case you have a less than 3-minute attention span, I’ll summarize.

In July 2015, David Sirota of the IB Times submitted a FOIA request for Hillary Clinton’s emails from the State Dept about the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. As the trade deal is a public policy and Hillary a public official partly responsible for arranging it, State agreed. He received a response that those emails would be ready for him in April 2016.

April came and went, of course, without the emails being released. One week ago, Charlotte Duckett at State followed up, saying the relevant emails had been located and are now being “prepared for review” and would be ready for release by…wait for it…November 31, 2016. Three weeks after the election.

In case you’re not familiar with the Gregorian calendar, November 31st does not exist. There are only 30 days in November.

State Department email blamed Islamic militants for Benghazi hours after attack

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) dropped a bombshell during yesterday’s House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing by entering another new post-Benghazi email into the record.

The email, references discussions between the State Department and Libyan ambassador to the United States. The email was previously referenced by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), but Chaffetz read it for the committee and subsequently entered it into the record.

“The subject line is ‘Libya update’ from Beth Jones. The date is September 12, 2012 at 12:46 pm. There’s a paragraph in here that I think is pertinent to our discussions today,” said Chaffetz. “It’s referencing the Libyan ambassador: ‘When he said his government suspected that former Qaddafi regime elements carried out the attacks, I told [the Libyan ambassador] that the group that conducted the attacks — Ansar al-Sharia — is affiliated with Islamic extremists.’”

Today in Liberty: Obamacare’s missing Millennials, data review urges privacy law reform

“The strongest continuous thread in America’s political tradition is skepticism about government.” — George Will

— Just 28 percent of Obamacare enrollees are Millennials: The Obama administration finished first Obamacare open enrollment period far short of its target for 18 to 34-year-olds. The administration estimated that it needed between 38 to 40 percent of enrollments to be from Millennials for the risk pools to be sustainable. It got 28 percent. “The administration is still touting 8 million sign-ups—technically 8.019 million—when the official open enrollment period of October 2013 through March 2014 is combined with stragglers who came in during the special enrollment period through April 19,” Peter Suderman explains, based on the latest figures. “It’s still the case that just 28 percent of those sign-ups were between the ages of 18 and 34, far short of the administration’s target of 39 percent. State-by-state variation remains significant, with some states seeing robust sign-up activity and others posting relatively weak numbers.”

CNN’s John King Mocks Jay Carney’s Spin on Benghazi Emails

See Video

CNN host John King had some fun with White House Press Secretary Jay Carney’s spin on why the administration didn’t previously release an email that relayed talking points to then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to hit on Sunday talk shows in which questions about Benghazi would be asked.

“[I]f you look at the document in question here, it is not about Benghazi,” Carney told ABC News correspondent Jon Karl on Wednesday, “it is about the protests around the Muslim world outside of U.S. embassies, and what we know about them and what we should say about them based on our policies.

Karl had asked Carney why the White House and administration didn’t release an email written by then-White House Deputy Strategic Communications Adviser Ben Rhodes that contained talking points.

King mocked Carney’s explanation. “I don’t know how — and I don’t have two hands. I don’t know how you can say this is not about Benghazi,” the CNN host said. “I can’t understand why the White House did this, because if you released it with all the others you could say Ben Rhodes, when he wrote this document was following, if you look at the timeline, a previous email that came over from the CIA saying here are the talking points.”

“So they could release this and people could say it was wrong, people could say its misleading and be done with it a year ago. Now people are saying, why are you hiding this?” he added.

Email privacy measure gaining support in the House

Though the ongoing controversy and revelations about the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance programs have slowed any legislative action to reform loopholes in outdated electronic communications laws, The Hill reports that the Email Privacy Act is picking up steam in the House of Representatives:

The Email Privacy Act from Reps. Kevin Yoder (R-Kans.), Tom Graves (R-Ga.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) has 181 co-sponsors in the House, and the authors are “still pushing to get more,” according to a Yoder spokesman.

“There’s a lot of growing support for that bill,” said Mark Stanley of the Center for Democracy and Technology. “A lot of members of Congress see this as a common sense thing.”

More than 40 lawmakers have signed onto the bill since November, pushing the total close to the magic number of 218, which would represent a majority of the House.
[…]
Passage of legislation to limit warrantless email searches appeared to be a done deal last year until revelations about National Security Agency surveillance rocked the debate.

The focus on the activities of the NSA shifted Congress’s focus from law enforcement access to national security, shunting the email issue aside.

It turns out people don’t like being spied on after all

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Did you know that the federal government can get access to your emails because of a loophole in the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA). The loophole means that after 180 days, your emails lose protected status and can be accessed by third-party providers without a warrant.

This video, produced by End180Days.org, offers a humorous and informative take on the very serious issue of electronic privacy. Three measures that would close the loophole have been introduced in Congress. United Liberty has covered two of them, ECPA Amendments Act (Leahy-Lee) and the Email Privacy Act (Polis-Yoder-Graves).


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