National Security

There is no smoking gun in Syria

The White House has determined that that the Syrian government carried out a chemical attack against its own citizens. President Barack Obama made the comments during an interview on PBS NewsHour on Wednesday evening.

“We have looked at all the evidence, and we do not believe the opposition possessed nuclear weapons on – or chemical weapons of that sort. We do not believe that, given the delivery systems, using rockets, that the opposition could have carried out these attacks, President Obama told host Judy Woodruff.

“We have concluded that the Syrian government in fact carried these out. And if that’s so, then there need to be international consequences,” he said.

But it seems that it’s anything but clear that this is actually the case. Much like the Bush Administration presented a case for war in Iraq based on a faulty premise, President Obama seems to be ready to go to war based on information that hasn’t actually been confirmed. Moreover, the Obama Administration hasn’t had substantive conversation about Syria with chairman of congressional intelligence committees as they continue to decide what action they will take in the Middle Eastern country.

Letter to the Editor: Save our Republic from the National Security and Surveillance State

 John Galt

Below is a Letter to the Editor, sent anonymously to United Liberty by a reader. The full, typewritten letter can be found below (click to enlarge).

So it’s okay for the NSA to come into your house and take very bit of information you have as long as they don’t look at it? To listen to everything you say as long as they don’t heard? To probe you and send all your medical records to the IRS, just in case?

But don’t worry, the cold dead eyes of those officials who have violated their oaths to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution like Feinstein, Reid, Rogers, Boehner, Holder, and Obama will provide oversight! (Not to mention the secret court, it’s secret! We call believe in the tooth fairy.)

This member of the “Governed” no longer gives his “Consent.”

As for the disposition of information already collected, they can stick it up their tyrannical asses!

John Galt

Michigan Republican pushes to defund unconstitutional NSA snooping

The House of Representatives could take up the annual defense appropriations bill this week, but may take the extraordinary step of limiting amendments in what seems to be an attempt to stop an effort to defend the National Security Agency’s unconstitutional spying program.

On Monday, The Hill reported that Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) was urging House Republican leaders to allow his amendment to come to the floor for a vote:

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) is mounting a push this week to defund the surveillance programs at the National Security Agency.

Amash said Monday that the defense appropriations bill, which could come to the House floor this week, was a chance to stop the NSA’s “unconstitutional spying on Americans.”

“Most important bill this week: DoD Approps. We can defund #NSA’s unconstitutional spying on Americans—if House leaders allow amendments, Amash tweeted Monday.

Big Sister to resign from Homeland Security post

Big Sister -- Janet Napolitano

Janet Napolitano, who has headed the Department of Homeland Security since 2009, announced this morning that she will resign her post to serve as president of the University of California.

“For more than four years I have had the privilege of serving President Obama and his Administration as the Secretary of Homeland Security,” said Napolitano in a statement. “The opportunity to work with the dedicated men and women of the Department of Homeland Security, who serve on the frontlines of our nation’s efforts to protect our communities and families from harm, has been the highlight of my professional career.”

Napolianto commended herself for policies that DHS has helped implement, including the harassment of travelers at airport security checkpoints, claiming that it has helped “minimize threats of all kinds to the American public.”

“After four plus years of focusing on these challenges, I will be nominated as the next President of the University of California to play a role in educating our nation’s next generation of leaders,” added Napolitano. “I thank President Obama for the chance to serve our nation during this important chapter in our history, and I know the Department of Homeland Security will continue to perform its important duties with the honor and focus that the American public expects.”

Panetta calls for tax hikes, not defense spending cuts

As you know, Republicans in both chambers of Congress are beside themselves over the prospect of defense spending cuts. They’re trying to scare Americans into believing that we’ll be somehow vulnerable if any defense spending is cut by any amount. However, Veronique de Rugy notes that, in the grand scheme of the budget outlook, these cuts amount to next to nothing — roughly $54 billion annually.

So yesterday, I received an e-mail blast from Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee pointing to SecDef Leon Panetta’s agreement with Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who had stated that the national debt “threaten[s] our national security”:

That’s all well and good, but Secretary Panetta’s solution isn’t just to cut spending in other areas. He much like President Obama, wants tax hikes.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Tuesday stepped back into the bitter debate over the nation’s debt, arguing that lawmakers should close the budget deficit through tax increases and changes to popular programs like Social Security rather than through additional cuts in Pentagon spending.

So much for transparency

During his inauguration speech, President Obama vowed that his administration would be the most open and transparent in history.  As an advocate of transparent government, I was relieved to hear it.  Unfortunately President Obama is, as they say in Texas, all hat and no cattle on that one.

You see, reporters have asked for the photograph of Osama bin Laden, taken after the operation that resulted in his head.  Under the Freedom of Information Act, they have to release anything that’s not a threat to national security or related to personnel issues.  While it is entirely possible that the DOD has classified the bin Laden pictures, it makes no sense as we all know they’re out there and what they’re a photograph of.  This is a picture of a dead guy, not the blueprints to the F-117.  The argument that it will anger muslims doesn’t really hold water either.  The killing is what angers them, the photograph is a different matter entirely.

If this were an isolated incident, we could take this as simply being a disagreement.  It’s not.  Courtesy of Reason’s Hit&Run blog:

This wouldn’t be the first time a senior administration official had interefered in the FOIA process. The House Oversight Committee investigated the Department of Homeland Security earlier this year after a whistleblower revealed that Secretary Janet Napolitano’s inner circle was vetting FOIA requests. Among the revelations: A former Obama campaign worker (and a number of other political hires) had been tasked with reviewing information requests from conservative groups.

FAA: Ready to kill passengers to keep them safe

The FAA is ready to kill passengers in an effort to keep them safe.  Sounds idiotic?  Absolutely, but that’s exactly what the FAA is essentially saying with a new ruling that airlines must remove emergency oxygen from bathrooms on board planes.  With Air Worthiness Directive 2011-04-09, the FAA has decided that in the name of passenger safety, they’ll be prepared to sacrifice a few lives.

From the MSNBC.com report:

“I’m in shock,” said Kate Hanni, executive director of Flyersrights.org, a nonprofit airline passengers’ rights organization. “We get reports of mid-air decompression events all the time. So now going to the bathroom on a commercial flight can kill you? I’m panicking just thinking about this.”

Although rapid decompression is rare, it does happen. In October, for example, oxygen masks were deployed on an American Airlines flight enroute from Miami to Boston after the cabin lost pressure when a two-foot hole tore open in the plane’s fuselage. The crew declared an emergency, and the plane safely returned to Miami. Passengers were panicked, but no one was injured.

But under the FAA’s new directive, any passengers who happen to be in the airplane restroom should such an event occur would no longer have immediate access to oxygen.

The FAA, like so many other government agencies, is using the specter of potential terrorism to justify this.  They claim that a terrorist could use the emergency oxygen to start a fire or create an explosion mid flight despite zero intelligence that they’ve even thought about doing this.

EPIC & Barr Trying to Bring Attention To Privacy

Since the beginning of his Presidential bid Rep. Bob Barr has been attempting to inject the issue of privacy into the 2008 election and policy debates. Sadly, even as Congress debated the largest overhaul of FISA and the surrounding policies since the 70s, little has come of the consistent attempts. The issue just has not caught on with the media, politicos, or even the public. Republicans who believe they already have the upper hand politically on the issue do not want to press their perceived advantage and Democrats do not want to appear weak on national security come November. With the Administration having “got” most of what it wanted legislatively regarding this issue we are most likely to be destined to a toxic stalemate over the coming months with little debate for change. In spite of lack of recent success Bob Barr is attempting to change the “toxic stalemate” to an actual debate that is heavy on logic/reason and low on fear.


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