With an artificial deadline threatening to undermine their campaign to cut food stamps, House conservatives tried on Thursday to force Senate Democrats to push the cutoff date for a farm bill compromise to the end of January. The rationale behind the …
Michael Ledeen is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
I testified against the Patriot Act because I feared the abuse of secret tribunals. I’m usually far off in my predictions, but it was obvious from the get-go that the FISA courts would be abused by the Intelligence Community, and indeed those secret courts have almost always done what the FBI and CIA asked, even when—as in the case of General Michael Flynn—the IC had to ask several times, and even when the “evidence” consisted of an unverified “dossier” produced by a political campaign.
The Intelligence Community has long considered itself a state within the American state, dating from its creation just after World War II. Most of the time, the IC has used its power to support presidential policies—the CIA snooped on the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2014, and on the McGovern campaign, and the FBI spied on the Goldwater campaign– but when a president acted against the IC’s convictions, the spooks advanced their own interests and beliefs.
No sooner had President Truman recognized the state of Israel, than the CIA swung into (illegal) action, secretly creating the American Friends of the Middle East, which brought Middle Easterners to America, published their views, and lobbied Congress, all against Israel. In the words of Hudson’s Michael Doran,
AFME was a remarkable instance of a CIA-confected front organization designed to counter official government policy, in this case by seeking to delegitimize Zionism in domestic American politics.
Truman quickly understood what was at stake. “It’s become a government all of its own and all secret. They don’t have to account to anybody.”.
It was, Truman recognized, part of a broader problem: bureaucrats who saw themselves, not mere elected officials, as the only legitimate policy makers. “The civil servant, the general or admiral, the foreign service officer,” Truman insisted, “has no authority to make policy. They act only as servants of the government, and therefore they must remain in line with the government policy that is established by those who have been chosen by the people to set that policy.”
This enraged the president, who was also furious at the State Department’s opposition to his Middle East policies. Yet bureaucratic action against presidential policies remained common. As Truman discovered, the IC used “intelligence” to undermine presidential policies and advance its own. This was demonstrated in the 1970s, when a private-sector group of analysts known as “Team B”—led by the recently-departed Professor Richard Pipes of Harvard–successfully challenged the CIA’s view of Soviet military strength, and the CIA’s conviction that we had very little to fear from the Kremlin.
Back in the Truman years, the president was able to appreciate Soviet intentions better than the IC, ironically thanks in no small part to his own intelligence operation in cahoots with Israel. Ironically, Truman opened a secret back channel to Tel Aviv at the same time the CIA was sabotaging American cooperation with the Jewish state, via the legendary spook James Jesus Angleton, whose point of contact in Israel was Ben-Gurion’s personal secretary, Teddy Kolleck. The two worked closely with Israel’s domestic security service, the Shin Bet, debriefing Jewish immigrants from the Soviet Empire. Angleton, like most CIA officials, suspected the Israelis of collusion with the Soviet Union, but in time he realized this was not true. Angleton subsequently received the text of Khrushchev’s speech about Stalin’s crimes…from the Israelis. He was subsequently outed by CIA chief William Colby, with whom he had had many disagreements.
Bureaucratic arrogance is an ongoing problem, nowhere more than the Intelligence Community. The problem is more grave today, with the advances in electronic snooping, the courts’ willingness to let the intelligence agencies pry into all manner of communications, and the zeal with which the media report improper leaks. As Lee Smith recently tweeted:
They (the IC) ran a counterintelligence investigation of a former rival spy chief, Mike Flynn, a retired 3-star General. Abuse. Then they leaked intercept of his conversation with Russian ambassador. Crime. Now our 3d world press hires our 3d world spy chiefs.
Secret tribunals guarantee this sort of corruption. Yes, there are cases where decisions on spying on Americans must be secret, but we pay a terrible price for them. And as things stand, the snoopers have all the cards. The game is totally rigged.
“Imagine Where We Could Be Without The Specter Of Tariffs.”
Arlington, VA – Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the economy gained 223,000 jobs in May and the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent, matching April 2000 as the lowest reading since 1969.
Americans for Prosperity Chief Government Affairs Officer Brent Gardner issued the following statement:
“The jobs numbers continue to show that tax reform and regulatory relief are a boon for the economy and improving the lives of all Americans. Today’s job report shows one of the lowest unemployment rates since the 1960s and the lowest level of African American unemployment in recorded history. While this is good news, imagine where we could be without the specter of tariffs, which only undermine our full economic potential with the threat of higher costs for consumers and businesses.”
- This morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the unemployment rate for May 2018 decreased to 3.8 percent, the lowest rate since April 2000, and that the economy gained 223,000 jobs.
- The total number of jobs added during April and March was revised to 159,00 and 155,000 respectively for an average of roughly 207,000 jobs created per month so far this year.
- Further, the percentage of individuals who are underemployed, which incorporates those who want a job but are no longer looking for work and those who are working part-time because no other work was available, fell to its lowest rate in 17 years.
For further information or to set up an interview, please send an email to [email protected].
Americans for Prosperity (AFP) exists to recruit, educate, and mobilize citizens in support of the policies and goals of a free society at the local, state, and federal level, helping every American live their dream – especially the least fortunate. AFP has more than 3.2 million activists across the nation, a local infrastructure that includes 36 state chapters, and has received financial support from more than 100,000 Americans in all 50 states. For more information, visit www.AmericansForProsperity.org
The post AFP: Tax and Regulatory Relief Clearly Helping the Economy appeared first on Americans for Prosperity.
Fighting for the right thing is often very difficult and at times one can feel like Don Quixote out on La Mancha. But we are not tilting at windmills. This is a process.
You know what’s right. You know the voters know what’s right. You know that being responsible is the right thing to do. But over and over the vested interests still are able to exploit the system. Over and over the old media try to act like getting government under control is some sort of bad thing. Over and over the cronies swagger up to the podium and act like they have the best interests of Americans at heart when they announce this bill or that. This while they take even more money from the pockets of Americans. It can be frustrating.
And that’s what the swamp counts on. The cronies think they can keep the rebellion under control (a rebellion which began to a large degree under Ron Paul’s leadership) by just waiting the good guys out. There are more of them than there are people like Ron Paul, or Rand Paul, or Justin Amash, or Thomas Massie. They think that come what may, their system will never be challenged – really.
Fighting for fiscal sanity, for small responsible government, for peace, and against crony capitalism, are the kind of causes that drive people who understand that for the time being the odds are stacked against them however. And we are much further along than we were at the start of the Ron Paul Revolution which in time morphed into the TEA Party. Beachheads have been established and there have been some gains. But this is a very long fight. Very long. Think multiple decades.
That’s the timeframe I use anyway.
The Senate on Thursday resoundingly rejected the Kentucky Republican’s plan to balance the federal budget by 2023, voting 76 to 21 against a bill that would have required a $400 billion cut in federal spending next year, followed by 1 percent spending increases for the rest of the next decade. Republican hawks took the floor to blast Paul for trying to undermine the American military, even though his proposal would have let Congress decide how much to cut from each department, including the Pentagon.
“Let me tell you what that means to the military,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) before voting against the bill. “Devastation. This budget throws our military in the ditch.”
Lindsey Graham is such a – I will hold my tongue.
Hardly. Even if the entire $400 billion cut Paul proposed were applied to the Pentagon, America would still spend far more on the military than any other nation. But even the suggestion that defense spending could be cut is enough to scare most Republicans away from facing fiscal reality. As Paul pointed out on Thursday, the national debt and $1 trillion deficits are bigger threats to America’s long-term national security than a reduction in funding for the Pentagon. “There is waste from top to bottom in every department of the government, including the military,” Paul said, noting that one Pentagon agency managed to misplace $800 million, according to a recent audit.
The truth is this sort spending from the neocon GOP and their big government friends will continue until the debt starts to hurt. Right now the people in Congress think there is no consequence to spending like this. The debt? What debt? Oh yeah that $21 trillion thing? That thing? Hey watch while we make it 30 trillion! There are no consequences with a world reserve currency. Don’t you know that? We control the globe. Who’s going to stop us?
And then things get way more real than most Americans can imagine. But for the time being spend, spend, spend!
Graham is no conservative by the way. Not even close.
Cambridge Analytica may technically no longer exist,* but revelations about its conduct before and during the 2016 election continue to raise concerns about how social media can be used to undermine fundamental democratic processes. On Wednesday, Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie testified before the Senate judiciary committee.
Guns are icky. At least, that’s what numerous people in this country think.
However, they were more than willing to make a buck off of the gun manufacturers. Take the state of California (please?) and their teacher’s pension. While the state did everything it could to undermine the firearm industry, it used stocks from gun companies to help fund the retirement fund for its teachers.
More than a little hypocritical, if you ask me.
At least its considering becoming a little more ideologically consistent.
The California State Teachers’ Retirement System voted unanimously last week to enact a plan of engagement with the outdoor retailers in its portfolio — including Walmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Academy Ltd., Big 5 Sporting Goods Corp. and Kroger — on the heels of high-profile mass shootings in Las Vegas and Parkland, Florida.
“As trusted fiduciaries for California’s … educators, the Teachers’ Retirement Board is dedicated to securing our members’ financial future during their retirement years,” said Harry Keiley, Chair of CalSTRS Investment Committee. “We’re taking steps to protect the CalSTRS portfolio, avoid reputational risk and increase the long-term value of the companies in which we invest, while also expressing sensitivity and empathy for the heinous gun-related tragedies that have impacted our country over the last several years.”
The pension fund manages over $225.5 billion and serves just under 1 million public school educators in California. It describes itself as one of the most vocal on issues of gun violence, voluntarily divesting from Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger and Co. in the months after the Sandy Hook massacre.
Now, the system will hire two new staff for a combined $280,000 annually to engage with companies selling guns and bump stocks deemed illegal in California. If the efforts fail — though the board’s plan doesn’t specify exactly how — the system will consider severing ties completely.
State Treasurer John Chiang urged the board to divest now — just as he did back in October, a week after the Vegas shooting left 58 people dead and some 850 others injured. “It would be recklessly inconsistent for anyone who supports California’s assault weapons ban to believe that investing in companies making or selling these weapons or ancillary devices ensures teachers’ retirement security,” he said.
Well, he’s half right.
It would be inconsistent to support an assault weapon ban while making money off of the companies that make them in the first place.
It’s not reckless, though. Not at all. After all, gun manufacturers make legal products to sell in compliance with state and federal laws throughout this entire country. Other stores sell lawful products people want to buy in accordance with those state and federal laws. Nothing is reckless about any of this.
In other words, it’s not reckless; it’s just hypocritical as hell.
However, the state of California isn’t interested in just divesting itself of stocks for companies that don’t share its anti-gun zealotry. It wants to try to blackmail companies into compliance with its dictates or risk large amounts of stocks being dumped, thus driving down stock prices. California’s following New York’s lead, though on a smaller scale.
California’s bound and determined to destroy everything we hold dear. If it can’t destroy the Second Amendment, it’ll just make it impossible for us to exercise it.
The post California Teacher’s Pension Fund Considering Dumping Gun Stocks appeared first on Bearing Arms.
Mr. Nunes has escalated his confrontation with law enforcement officials, who have expressed concern that he is trying to undermine the special counsel inquiry. Go to Source Author: NICHOLAS FANDOS and KATIE BENNER
On Saturday’s broadcast of the Fox News Channel’s “Cavuto Live,” OMB Director Mick Mulvaney responded to White House aide Kelly Sadler’s comments about Senator John McCain (R-AZ) by stating the comment was “a badly considered joke, an awful joke that she said fell flat.” He added that he is “really disappointed that someone would undermine the president by leaking that out of a private meeting.” Mulvaney said, “I think the remarks were awful. But let’s look at this in context, that was said in a private meeting, inside the White House. It’s not like — you might say something really nasty about me off the air, and it really doesn’t have that much impact. You come on-air and say it officially, now that’s a problem. This was a private meeting inside the White House. It was a joke. It was a badly considered joke, an awful joke, that she said fell flat.” Mulvaney further stated he doesn’t think Sadler should be fired because “You have to have some freedom to speak in a private meeting, to speak candidly. We’ve all said things in private, especially in smaller groups that we work with, that we would never say publicly. I think she’s handled it
Company That Handles Prison Phone Calls Is Surveilling People Who Aren’t in Prison
Securus, one of the country’s largest providers of phone services to incarcerated people, is known for its shady, cruel, and sometimes illegal business practices. It has charged exorbitant rates for prisoners’ calls, limited family and friends to video-only “visits” with incarcerated loved ones, and violated attorney-client privilege by recording phone calls between prisoners and their attorneys.
This week, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) revealed even more troubling practices that undermine the privacy and civil liberties of millions upon millions of Americans. In letters made public on Friday demanding action from the Federal Communications Commission and several major telecommunications companies, Wyden described Securus’ ability to obtain and share the cell phone location information of virtually anyone who uses a phone.
The letters report that Securus provides correctional facilities with the ability to access real-time location data for virtually any individual in the country — without making sure that officials have obtained a warrant or proper consent.
Undermining Safeguards Against Warrantless Cell Phone Tracking
Securus provides what it calls “location based services” to its government clients — typically jails, prisons, and related entities. It appears to be doing so in a manner that may violate federal law.
As described in one Securus document, the company provides the ability to track “the location of a suspect’s cell phone, in real time, regardless of whether a call is in process.” Securus’ materials state that at the request of law enforcement officials, this service has been used to successfully track criminal suspects, people of interest, and even Alzheimer’s patients. But Securus’ system lacks safeguards against illegal tracking.
Real-time cell phone location tracking of a suspect requires a search warrant under federal law and, as some courts have held, the Fourth Amendment. Normally, when police want to track a suspect’s cell phone in real time, they provide a warrant directly to the phone service provider, which reviews the warrant to confirm that it is valid before complying with the request. The major cellular service providers have law enforcement compliance teams comprised of trained staff who review warrants and other law enforcement requests and regularly reject or narrow requests that are improper or overbroad.
However, major phone carriers appear to have allowed Securus to bypass these procedures. Government investigators contracting with the company upload documentation justifying a request for cell phone location data to Securus’ system. Securus, functioning as a middleman, pays other middlemen, who then pay major telecommunications carriers for the location information.
Securus representatives told Sen. Wyden’s office that the company doesn’t actually confirm that the uploaded file is a valid warrant — or a warrant at all. Instead, publicly available screenshots of its online portal show that the company simply requires the investigator to check a box to “certify the attached document is an official document giving permission to look up the location on this phone number requested.” The investigator “then inputs the cellular number that is to be tracked and within seconds, the approximate location of the cell phone will be displayed on a graphical map of the area.”
That system is ripe for abuse. And as the New York Times reports, it was indeed abused as early as 2014, by a Missouri sheriff who, without valid warrants, used it to track the cell phones of a judge and police officers with the state highway patrol.
That sheriff is now facing state and federal criminal charges and a civil suit by highway patrol officers. But Securus may be in legal jeopardy as well, for violating a federal law that prohibits making false representations to a phone company to obtain confidential customer records. That’s because Securus appears to be claiming that the requests are based on a valid warrant, without confirming that is the case. Alternately, as suggested in the above image from Securus’ system and the New York Times’ reporting, the company may be falsely claiming that location requests are justified by phone users’ consent.
Major telecommunications carriers who ultimately facilitate these abuses also deserve blame. In cases where phone companies provide location information, they have a responsibility to ensure that it is only disclosed in appropriate circumstances. It seems highly unlikely that the phone companies are able to confirm “within seconds” that the uploaded documents are indeed valid warrants. This abdication of their responsibility leaves them potentially liable for violating a multitude of laws, including those that prohibit disclosure of customer records to law enforcement without appropriate legal process.
Exploiting Prisoners and Their Families
REAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM NOW
TAKE ACTION NOWIt’s bad enough that Securus, with the assistance of major telecommunications carriers, has established this backdoor to private data held by telecommunications companies. But the company’s own documents reveal that they also appear to offer additional “location based services” that exploit incarcerated individuals and their families.
When a person incarcerated in a jail or prison that contracts with Securus makes a call to a cell phone on the outside, Securus is able to obtain the location of that cell phone from the cellular service provider. It then provides that location data to the jail or prison for its unrestricted use. Securus purports to obtain authorization and consent by playing a prerecorded message at the start of a prisoner’s call that tells the person on the other end that their location information will be collected. It then prompts the person to press “1” to accept the call.
For a spouse or child of an incarcerated person, the “choice” between forgoing contact with a loved one or being tracked by Securus is no choice at all. And that tracking falls disproportionately on people of color and poor people, who are most likely to have a loved one locked up. It may also affect attorneys, who have an ethical duty to take their clients’ calls.
Securus is funding this service by tacking a 4 percent “Location Validation Fee” onto prisoners’ already inflated phone bills. That fee is charged whether or not the location tracking capability is actually used for any particular call.
As we’ve argued at the U.S. Supreme Court and elsewhere, cell phone location information is highly sensitive because of what it can reveal about people’s activities and associations. Federal law prohibits service providers from releasing their customers’ cell phone location information without the “express prior authorization” of the customer or a valid court order. Nevertheless, Securus’ practices functionally deprive individuals of the privacy protections that these laws were designed to create.
Major phone carriers, the FCC, state attorneys general, and individual correctional facilities must take steps to remedy these exploitative practices.
The phone carriers must take full responsibility for their role in facilitating — and profiting from — Securus’ exploitative services. They should immediately terminate any contracts that allow Securus or companies that provide similar services to access location information. The phone carriers should also get to the bottom of how Securus was allowed to obtain this data in the first place. They should ensure that all law enforcement requests for location data are submitted to and vetted by them directly and information is only disclosed in other circumstances when appropriate.
In the meantime, customers have a right to know if their information was improperly disclosed. Phone companies should immediately notify any individuals whose information was improperly shared by Securus and develop transparency mechanisms that allow individuals to easily see who else may have been given access to their data.
The FCC should also immediately investigate Securus and any companies that provide similar services. It should make clear that this conduct, which essentially coerces individuals into “consenting” to location tracking or other surveillance, and which fails to confirm the validity of search warrants before tracking people’s cell phones, raises serious questions under existing federal law and must be halted. Additionally, they must take steps to ensure that telecommunications providers themselves adequately safeguard data from this type of abuse.
At the same time, state attorneys general should examine Securus and major telecommunications companies to determine whether they are in violation of state privacy laws. While these inquiries are ongoing, facilities should halt their Securus contracts, and ensure that individuals contacting incarcerated loves ones are provided a realistic way to opt out of location surveillance.
We applaud Sen. Wyden for bringing these practices out of the shadows and hope that real reforms follow quickly.