Archive for the ‘Federal Powers’ Category
This is the kind of stuff I used to read about in biographies of people who survived persecution in the Soviet Union and other communist countries. I can’t believe it’s happening here, and so many Americans are still asleep!
Remember when you lived in that America where you had freedom of expression? Well, it’s easy to imagine that the old America doesn’t exist any more with the story of the Secret Service agents that harassed a Twitter user because he dared criticize President Obama.
Tom Francois is an outspoken critic of President Obama on Twitter and has some 12 thousand followers that watch his every Tweet. (@Tom_Francois) But apparently his fans aren’t the only ones hanging on his every Tweet.
As Tom found out, the Secret Service has blown in a “follow” to Tom’s feed, too. But instead of laughing as Tom makes funny photoshopped, anti-Obama images and reveling in Obama’s many scandals, the Secret Service was watching and making plans to come pounding at his door to harass him for his political opinions.
On April 11, 2013, he heard relentless pounding on his door shouts of “Police!” The officers introduced themselves as members of The Secret Service and asked if they could “take a look around.”
Since Tom had nothing to hide (and he didn’t want any return visits) – he complied fully with their request. He even signed a consent to search his premises AND an “Authorization To Review Medical and Mental Health Records!”
They asked Tom if he ever left his state or traveled to Washington, D.C.
One Agent asked Tom if he has any intentions of “whacking” the President.” To which Tom replied- “Of course not. I wish him no harm. I disagree with his policies and actions and I make no bones about it. It’s my First Amendment Right and I intend to exercise it.”When I spoke to Tom he said, “Yes, I am EXTREMELY critical of Obama in my posts, but I never cross the line and threaten his being. EVER. It’s just the idea of Obama’s Secret Service intruding on my life when they knew I wasn’t really a threat.”
The Secret Service had a thick FBI file- filled with screenshots of hundreds of posts. Said Tom, “I flat out told them ‘I have NEVER threatened Obama’s life! Yes, I despise him as you can plainly see, but I have that right!’ They actually ADMITTED and agreed with me that I hadn’t threatened Obama.”
They had run a background check and discovered that Tom legally owned two guns- and they asked to see them. Tom showed them his firearms. They asked, “Are they loaded?” Tom replied in the affirmative. “What good are guns if they aren’t loaded?”
So why harass Tom? “The Secret Service officers claimed that “they were concerned that since I have a large Twitter following, and the things I said could be acted upon by some nut case out there! What the hell? They turned my life upside down for THAT?”
Tom didn’t refuse the search because they just would have gone and gotten a warrant. “They would have proceeded to tear my house apart. No thanks. I have nothing to hide. They left empty-handed and my house is still intact.”
When they left Tom’s house, one Secret Service Agent ‘advised’- “Keep in mind, if you step over the line, we’ll come back for your guns.”
After the “visit” to Tom, the Secret Service also visited Tom’s 22 year old daughter- terrifying her and making her fear for her father’s safety. She asked them what they were going to do with the information about her Dad. They said they were going to “turn it over to Eric Holder- he has the last word on what to do, if anything.”
Notice that the raid on this innocent American came only four days before the Boston marathon bombing. While Islamic extremists were planning to kill people in Boston, the government was all worried about a Twitter user that made funny photoshopped pictures of Obama.
Is this America any more?
This is the kind of crap that the KGB would pull in Soviet countries. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
On Thursday the Examiner provided an exclusive report indicating that the Obama administration had implemented a covert program beginning in 2009 that was intended to spy on conservative, evangelical Christian churches.
That program involved infiltration — sending in government operatives to join churches for the purpose of data collection. The government snoops would keep their eyes and ears open for criticism of the Obama administration, talk of Tea Party participation, conversations about gun ownership, and a number of other issues.
But a special report issued today by Fox News indicates that the program went far beyond infiltration and snooping. The IRS was used to harass Christian churches if they were identified as places where large numbers of anti-Obama citizens congregated for worship.
The Obama administration, according to the report, considered any public criticism of administration policies to be political in nature and should therefore impact whether or not these congregations were allowed to gain or keep their tax exempt status.
Daniel Blomberg and Eric Rassbach explain at Fox News:
What most people don’t realize is that the IRS has been acting as the speech police for decades. Ever since 1954, when then-Senator Lyndon Johnson pushed for a law enabling the IRS to punish non-profits who opposed him politically, the IRS has been in the business of government censor. What’s worse is that one of the biggest targets of this censorship has been religious people and houses of worship. In fact, one of the IRS’s first targets in the 1950s was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was subjected to a searching IRS audit because of his religious advocacy for civil rights for African-Americans.
The IRS of course has the crushing power to deny or revoke the non-profit status of a synagogue, church, or mosque if it says something the IRS decides is too “political.” But it can also put houses of worship and other religious organizations through the wringer of intrusive, costly, and time-consuming audits.
There are two ways the targeting works. One way is for an outside group, often one that is anti-religion, to file a complaint asking the IRS to investigate a church they don’t like. The IRS responds to the complaint by opening an investigation and asking the church often hundreds of questions about its activities, with the threat of revocation of non-profit status. This is what lawyers call “selective enforcement” and it is unconstitutional. No one should be singled out in this way, especially because of collusion between the IRS and outside groups with an ax to grind.
The second way the censorship starts is for IRS officials to take their lead from high government officials, including the President, to decide which groups to target for disfavor. This is apparently what happened to the “tea party” groups, but religious groups have also been targeted in this way.
Don’t believe it? Just ask Billy Graham. Last fall, the famed Christian evangelist publicly advocated on behalf of a ballot measure in his home state of North Carolina, taking a position that the President and other high government officials publicly opposed. The tax man was knocking at the door almost immediately. And while the expensive, time-consuming audit eventually ended without any finding of wrongdoing by Graham, a message was sent to every other religious group that might oppose government policy: the IRS can use its audit powers to harass you or shut you down simply for saying what you believe. That kind of intimidation is wrong–and unconstitutional.
The radical, Marxist Environmentalist agenda has always been about destroying capitalism and industry. It has nothing to do with “saving the planet.” Since the “science” facade of Global Warming is quickly falling apart, their goal is to impose their agenda by force as quickly as possible before the game is up.
So much for the denials. An administration that throughout its 2012 election campaign denied it was waging a War on Coal has now come out and publicly declared its intention to shut down coal-fired power plants – putting hundreds of thousands of Americans out of work and sending electricity prices skyrocketing.
This is not what the American people voted for.
[…] Obama made clear in his speech that he intends to impose regulations on existing coal plants that can only be met through carbon capture and storage (technology that doesn’t exist on a commercial scale), switching to natural gas, or shutting down completely.
Coal still produces 37 percent of U.S. electricity. A Heritage Foundation analysis found that implementing Obama’s proposed regulation on existing coal plants would destroy more than 500,000 jobs, slash the income of a typical family of four more than $1,400 a year, and increase electricity prices at least 20 percent. Price spikes could be much higher in states that depend heavily on coal-fired power plants, especially in the Midwest. President Obama once famously explained that he intended to make electricity prices “necessarily skyrocket.”
Of course, Obama’s plan is to go around the constitution’s separation of powers and impose his agenda by executive diktat:
Under pressure from environmentalists, President Barack Obama’s new plan to tackle global warming relies on executive power to corral power plants.
The president calls for the Environmental Protection Agency to “expeditiously” set limits on carbon dioxide emissions for new and existing power plants, a move that will be hailed by environmentalists and decried as debilitating by the struggling coal industry.
“To accomplish these goals, President Obama is issuing a Presidential Memorandum directing the Environmental Protection Agency to work expeditiously to complete carbon pollution standards for both new and existing power plants,” states the Obama plan.
[…] Obama’s announcement comes at a time when cracks are starting to show in the science surrounding global warming, as global temperatures stopped rising about 15 years ago.
If this bill was being written to protect the religious rights of Muslims, I guarantee he wouldn’t have a problem with it.
Congress is taking action on religious liberty in the military, a story that was originally reported by Breitbart News. New legal language passed a key committee this week and next goes to the full House and then the Senate; it could become federal law later this year.
[…] The first amendment was offered by Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC). It protects the rights of chaplains to speak and pray in a manner consistent with their faith, such as ending a prayer in Jesus’ name. This amendment passed by voice vote.
A second amendment was offered to create “atheist chaplains,” as Breitbart News reportedearlier this week. This mockery of the chaplaincy was proposed by Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ), pushed by groups often hostile to Christians and observant members of other faiths. The committee rejected this amendment by a vote of 43-18. The military already provides secular counseling to service members, while chaplains are by definition religious and spiritual counselors.
The third amendment is the most consequential. Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) offered an amendment specifying that the religious speech and actions of all service members is a protected right, and that the Department of Defense will enact regulations to allow and accommodate those beliefs in both word and deed.
The Obama Administration “strongly objects” to a proposed amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have protected the religious rights of soldiers – including evangelical Christian service members who are facing growing hostility towards their religion.
The amendment was authored by Rep. John Fleming, R-La. It would have “required the Armed Forces to accommodate ‘actions and speech’ reflecting the conscience, moral, principles or religious beliefs of the member.”
The Obama Administration said the amendment would have a “significant adverse effect on good order, discipline, morale, and mission accomplishment.”
“With its statement, the White House is now endorsing military reprimands of members who keep a Bible on their desk or express a religious belief,” Fleming told Fox News. “This administration is aggressively hostile towards religious beliefs that it deems to be politically incorrect.”
Now the White House is openly threatening to veto the bill altogether if it includes religious protections:
The White House released a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) on H.R. 1960, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014. […]
The SAP includes a veto threat: “…if the bill is presented to the President for approval in its current form, the President’s senior advisers would recommend that the President veto the bill.”
In other words, Obama says he will veto any bill that forbids his appointees or officers from telling a soldier that he cannot mention Jesus during prayer or have a Bible on his desk, or that keeps those appointees from telling a chaplain (who is an ordained clergyman) what religious teachings he is allowed to give in worship services, or what spiritual counseling he can give to another soldier.
Ambassador Ken Blackwell, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, tells Breitbart News:
President Obama is waging a war on religion. He and Chuck Hagel are denying the most basic rights to those who put their lives on the line to protect all of our rights. It is shameful and appalling. I am confident that congressional leadership will show courage to stand up for our troops against this radical assault on religious liberty in the military.
This is the most compelling expression yet of the aggressive approach of the Obama-Hagel Defense Department to soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who are observant Christians or devout members of other peaceful faiths, as seen in Breitbart News’ previous reportsregarding the unconstitutional infringements of one of America’s most treasured, fundamental rights.
What on earth do a bunch of paper pushers need with AR-15’s and shotguns?
Rep. Jeff Duncan, a Republican Congressman from SC, has started a bit of a firestorm on Twitter. Duncan is the Homeland Oversight Chair, and during a recent tour of a DHS facility, the congressman noticed IRS (yes, the Internal Revenue Service) agents training with AR-15 style rifles.
Why you might ask? Well that’s a good question, and the congressman has the same ones. It’s been known that the Department of Homeland Security has been bulking up their guns and ammo reserves for sometime now. However, this is the first report we’ve gotten of IRS agents getting in on the action. Now, the IRS does have armed enforcement agents, and they have for a long time, but why they now need tactical training is a serious question.
Duncan said he was concerned about what he saw.
“Why do IRS law enforcement agents need standoff capability that you would have with a long rifle or with a weapon similar to an AR-15? They’re generally investigating tax evasion, fraud and money laundering. We think of the IRS as an audit agency more than doing the type of law enforcement where they have to use an AR-15.”
Duncan said the IRS has the resources of the federal government, including the FBI, if they come into a situation where they feel like they need a SWAT team.
Back in 2007, Senator Obama said:
“I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom.
That means no more illegal wire-tapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient.”
It would appear that his tune has changed since becoming president:
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During his speech in San Jose, California on Friday, President Obama took one question from the press on national security monitoring of Americans. Without any sense of irony whatsoever in the aftermath of the IRS’ targeting of conservatives, the administration’s stonewalling on Benghazi, the Department of Justice’s targeting of reporters, the Department of Health and Human Services’ leveraging of private organizations for Obamacare public relations cash, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s secret email addresses, Obama unloaded this line:
If people can’t trust not only the executive branch but also don’t trust Congress, and don’t trust federal judges, to make sure that we’re abiding by the Constitution with due process and rule of law, then we’re going to have some problems here.
Obama acknowledged that the U.S. government is collecting reams of phone records, including phone numbers and the duration of calls, but said this does not include listening to calls or gathering the names of callers.
“Nobody’s listening to the content of people’s phone calls,” Obama said.
The Investors Business Daily editorial board opines:
Barack Obama is now not only following George Orwell’s model in his newly uncovered domestic spying practices; he’s copying one of the most shocking aspects of the dystopian society Orwell conjured: telling people the exact opposite of the truth with a straight face.
[…] When a president who promised “the most open and transparent administration in history” must now scramble and assure the country that “nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” it exposes a grave breach of trust.
What’s to worry about? It’s not like they’d abuse this information to target political dissidents or anything.
We already know who Obama & Co. define as “terrorists,” and they don’t include the Boston Bombers or Ft. Hood Shooter.
Somebody’s been drinking too much Kool-Aid:
A poll released Monday shows that despite the uproar over the National Security Agency’s newly leaked surveillance programs, a majority of Americans are fine with the agency’s pervasive reach. Still, a sizable majority is opposed to the vast NSA surveillance net.
The snap poll comes courtesy of the Pew Research Center and the Washington Post. After asking 1,004 American adults for their opinions on NSA surveillance programs like the newly revealed tech-spying program PRISM, pollsters found that 56 percent of Americans have no objection.
Conor Friedersdorf at the Atlantic wants to know:
How is it tolerated by the American people?
That’s the most pressing question. The civic negligence required to reach this point is the thing that most disappoints me about my fellow citizens, who ought to throw out every last member of Congress complicit in the metastasizing surveillance state. I am serious. Look up your representative. In a letter or phone call, demand they take a stand against this, on penalty of you voting against them in a primary or general.
That’s how change happens when the president who promised it turns out to have lied.
We don’t know if the federal government has a similar order for AT&T or any other carrier. Or if they’re spying on Americans’ emails as well. Why? That isn’t the sort of thing President Obama thinks he needs to tell us, and Congress persists in giving him that latitude. Americans, who haven’t been objecting to any of this in large numbers, aren’t even demanding to know whether or not their government is assembling the most sophisticated surveillance state in human history.
Has fear of terrorism done this to us?
Whatever the cause, the current behavior of the American electorate does not befit a free people.
Soldier Punished For Beliefs? In Hot Water For Reading Books By Conservatives
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I bet if he had been reading the Koran nobody would dare tell him to stop.
Four days ago, Todd Starnes reported:
A veteran member of the U.S. Army Band said he is facing retribution and punishment from the military for having anti-Obama bumper stickers on his car, reading books written by conservative authors like Mark Levin and David Limbaugh, and serving Chick-fil-A sandwiches at his promotion party.
Master Sgt. Nathan Sommers, a 25-year Army veteran and conservative Christian based at Fort Myer in Washington, believes his outspoken opposition to gay marriage prompted higher-ups to take a closer look at his beliefs. The recipient of an Army Commendation Medal and a soloist at the funeral of former First Lady Betty Ford, Sommers said his core beliefs are enough to mark a soldier for persecution in today’s military.
[…] Sommers’ troubles began last April when he was told to remove pro-Republican, anti-Obama bumper stickers that were on his privately owned car.
The stickers read: “Political Dissent is NOT Racism,” “NOBAMA,” NOPE2012” and “The Road to Bankruptcy is Paved with Ass-Fault.” That sticker included the image of a donkey.
His superior officer told the solider that the bumper stickers were creating “unnecessary workplace tension.”
“The types of stickers on your car were creating an atmosphere detrimental to morale and were creating unnecessary workplace tension,” the officer wrote in an Army document obtained by Fox News. “A Soldier must balance their personal feelings with the mission of the U.S. Army. Even the slightest inference of disrespect towards superiors can have a demoralizing effect on the unit.”
Attorney Wells said once he got involved, the military backed off of filing a formal reprimand.
“He’s allowed to have those bumper stickers on his car,” he said. “The DoD regulation allows it. There was nothing obscene about it.”
During the summer months, Sommers came under fire for reading the works of Mark Levin, Sean Hannity and David Limbaugh.
Sommers was reading Limbaugh’s “The Great Destroyer” backstage at a U.S. Army Band concert at the U.S. Capitol. A superior officer told him that he was causing “unit disruption” and was offending other soldiers.
“I wasn’t reading aloud,” he said. “I was just reading privately to myself. I was told they were frowning on that and they warned me that I should not be reading literature like that backstage because it was offensive.”
In another episode, he had been caught backstage reading a copy of Levin’s “Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America.”
Sommers said he was told to refrain from reading the book “while in uniform or within sight of anyone from the band.”
“This is the first time since (my superior officer) indicated I had offended others with my choice of reading material, that I was officially counseled about it,” he said. “The statement took my breath away. I was speechless.”
In spite of those incidents, the Army promoted the soldier in September to the rank of master sergeant. But the promotion would also mark the launch of an effort by the military to punish the soldier.
His promotion coincided with a controversy surrounding Chick-fil-A. The company’s president told a reporter that he was “guilty as charged” when it came to supporting traditional marriage. Gay rights activists pounced- calling for a boycott of the Christian-owned company. And some Democratic officials vowed to block Chick-fil-A from opening restaurants in their cities.
In response to that, Fox News Channel host Mike Huckabee launched a national Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day to rally support for the restaurant chain.
“I was inspired by Gov. Huckabee’s appreciation day,” Sommers told Fox News. “And since I wasn’t able to participate in the event, I decided to serve Chick-fil-A at my promotion party.”
It’s a long-standing tradition within the U.S. Army Band for promoted soldiers to host a party for their fellow troops. So the soldier decided to have Chick-fil-A cater the meal.
“My family likes Chick-fil-A and we like what they stand for,” he said. “I can make a statement and at least express a religious point of view at my promotion party – theoretically without any fear of reprisal.”
The soldier also tweeted about the party: “In honor of DADT repeal, and Obama/Holder’s refusal to enforce DOMA act, I’m serving Chick-fil-A at my MSG promo reception for Army today.”
He also tweeted to radio host Mark Levin: “@Marklevinshow ‘luv ya, Mark! Fellow Virginian & MSG, Army. Being promoted today, serving Chick-fil-A @ reception in honor of DADT repeal.”
Both tweets were cited in an official military document.
“As a Soldier you must be cognizant of the fact that your statements can be perceived by the general public and other service members to be of a nature bordering on disrespect to the President of the United States,” the document stated.
Sommers said he paid for the party with personal money, not government funds.
“I had no idea a Chick-fil-A sandwich would get me in trouble,” he said.
He was later summoned by a superior officer, who the soldier said is openly gay, and was told that unidentified individuals were offended by the tweets and some considered them to be racist.
Sommers was reprimanded, threatened with judicial action and given a bad efficiency report. An investigation was also launched.
“It’s an obvious attempt to set him up and force him out of the military,” Wells said. “They recently did an NCO evaluation that effectively torpedoed his chance at promotion and he could be forced out of the Army.”
As a show of support, Sarah Palin encouraged troops to post pictures of themselves with books by conservative authors:
On Saturday, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin urged soldiers to post pictures of themselves reading books written by conservatives like Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, and David Limbaugh. Palin did so after an “outrageous” report surfaced that revealed the U.S. Army was punishing a soldier for reading books written by conservative authors.
“Whether you agree or disagree with this soldier’s opinions, I think we can all agree that the apparent retribution he faced for proudly reading certain authors is outrageous,” Palin wrote.
Sommers’ Army superiors were not amused. He has now been brought up on trumped-up charges in retaliation:
A member of the U.S. Army Band who said he was reprimanded for having anti-Obama bumper stickers on his personal car, serving Chick-fil-A sandwiches at a party and reading books written by conservative authors like Sean Hannity is now facing Article 15 charges – which cropped up shortly after he went public with his complaints.
Master Sgt. Nathan Sommers, a decorated soloist with the Army Band, is being charged under a federal law that permits commanding officers to conduct non-judicial proceedings for minor offenses.
Sommers is accused of giving a superior officer the wrong date for a doctor’s appointment. He’s also accused of failing to carry out an order. In order to comply with that order, Sommers would have had to disclose private information about his autistic son’s medical records.
The charges were handed down one day after Sommers told Fox News that he was facing discrimination and persecution because of his conservative political and religious beliefs.
“The timing does seem strange,” retired Navy Commander John Bennett Wells told Fox News. “It’s suspicious. No matter what’s happening it looks like a graduated attempt to build a case against him on some really ridiculous charges.
Wells is representing the 25-year veteran who, until last summer, had a spotless record.
Mark Levin: “We have the elements of a Police State here…our government’s collecting way too much data on ‘we the private citizen’!”
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What’s to worry about? It’s not like they’d abuse this information to target political dissidents or anything.
The National Security Agency and FBI have been engaging in a highly classified program that mines data from leading U.S. internet companies, according to a bombshell report in The Washington Post Thursday night.
The program is code-named PRISM, and the Post reports that it was established in 2007. According to the report, the nine companies that “participate knowingly” in the program are Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.
The NSA and FBI tap directly into the central servers of the companies, obtaining audio, video, photographs, emails, documents and connection logs that “enable analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts over time,” according to the Post.
[…] The program was not disclosed publicly, and is only being disclosed now after a whistleblower revealed the program to the Post because of “horror” at its capabilities.
“They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type,” said the whistleblower, described as a career intelligence officer, in a truly harrowing quote.
Remember when President Obama publicly demonized Fox News as “destructive” to the nation because they wouldn’t play lapdog like the other networks? Turns out he was just laying the groundwork to isolate them from public sympathy so his vendetta against them could be justified.
Charles Krauthammer, Tucker Carlson, Kirsten Powers, Bret Baier discuss DOJ targeting Fox reporter and his parents:
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Newly uncovered court documents reveal the Justice Department seized records of several Fox News phone lines as part of a leak investigation — even listing a number that, according to one source, matches the home phone number of a reporter’s parents.
The seizure was ordered in addition to a court-approved search warrant for Fox News correspondent James Rosen’s personal emails. In the affidavit seeking that warrant, an FBI agent called Rosen a likely criminal “co-conspirator,” citing a wartime law called the Espionage Act.
Rosen was not charged, but his movements and conversations were tracked. A source close to the leak investigation confirmed to Fox News that the government obtained phone records for several numbers that match Fox News numbers out of the Washington bureau.
Further, the source confirmed to Fox News that one number listed matched the number for Rosen’s parents in Staten Island.
Rosen’s father, attorney Myron Rosen, told FoxNews.com he found the records seizure to be “downright ludicrous.”
“My son and his wife call us all the time, and we talk about grandchildren,” he said. “We don’t talk about nuclear proliferation.”
He continued: “The fact that they had our phone records, it shows how crazy they are, how desperate.”
The revelation has had a chilling effect on reporters’ ability to gather the information and sources they need:
Anchor Greta Van Susteran took to Twitter to express her frustration with the secret monitoring, saying friends and family won’t call or email anymore out a of a fear of being watched.
“Now that the word is out that Obama Admin seizes Fox phone records, my friends won’t call me at work and since the Obama admin also seizes personal cell and email, my friends wont’ call or email,” Van Susteran tweeted.
The news of more Fox News’ monitoring comes weeks after the Associated Press revealed the Justice Department had secretly monitored 20 personal and private phone lines used by AP reporters and editors. In addition, CBS News Investigative Reporter Sharyl Attkisson said yesterday that her work and personal computers had been compromised.
That, of course, was the intended purpose all along:
For awhile, it looked like the White House wanted just to control “the narrative.” But its seizure of AP phone records and surveillance of Fox employees now show its real aim: to control the news.
[…] The latest news that the Justice Department investigated Fox News reporter James Rosen and two other newsmen in the normal course of their investigative reporting on a national security matter — coming on the heels of their seizure of Associated Press phone records — suggests an administration obsessed with controlling the news itself with a heavy hand reminiscent of totalitarian regimes.
The AP flap has drawn a properly outraged response from the news agency, because the White House’s obsessive efforts to find leaks cast such a broad, indiscriminate net against reporters just doing their jobs.
Even the liberal “Daily Beast” wants to know “How Hope and Change Gave Way to Spying on the Press“:
First they came for Fox News, and they did not speak out—because they were not Fox News. Then they came for government whistleblowers, and they did not speak out—because they were not government whistleblowers. Then they came for the maker of a YouTube video, and—okay, we know how this story ends. But how did we get here?
Turns out it’s a fairly swift sojourn from a president pushing to “delegitimize” a news organization to threatening criminal prosecution for journalistic activity by a Fox News reporter, James Rosen, to spying on Associated Press reporters. In between, the Obama administration found time to relentlessly persecute government whistleblowers and publicly harass and condemn a private American citizen for expressing his constitutionally protected speech in the form of an anti-Islam YouTube video.
Where were the media when all this began happening? With a few exceptions, they were acting as quiet enablers.
[…] It’s instructive to go back to the dawn of Hope and Change. It was 2009, and the new administration decided it was appropriate to use the prestige of the White House to viciously attack a news organization—Fox News—and the journalists who work there. Remember, President Obama had barely been in office and had enjoyed the most laudatory press of any new president in modern history. Yet even one outlet that allowed dissent or criticism of the president was one too many. This should have been a red flag to everyone, regardless of what they thought of Fox News. The math was simple: if the administration would abuse its power to try and intimidate one media outlet, what made anyone think they weren’t next?
Donors to conservative causes. Conservative activists and businesses. Pro-military donors. Christian, pro-life and pro-marriage groups. Adoptive families. Pro-Israel groups. The list of IRS victims grows by the day.
What is the administration’s response? Blame the little people, of course!
But the truth is, the little people were following orders from D.C., according to the testimony of a former IRS employee:
Q: In early 2010, was there a time when you became aware of applications that referenced Tea Party or other conservative groups?
A: In March of 2010, I was made aware.
Q: Okay. Now, was there a point around this time period when [your supervisor] asked you to do a search for similar applications?
Q: To the best of your recollection, when was this request made?
A: Sometime in early March of 2010.
Q: Did [your supervisor] give you any indication of the need for the search, any more context?
A: He told me that Washington, D.C., wanted some cases.
Q: Did anyone else ever make a request that you send any cases to Washington?
A: [Different IRS employee] wanted to have two cases that she couldn’t — Washington, D.C. wanted them, but she couldn’t find the paper. So she requested me, through an email, to find these cases for her and to send them to Washington, D.C.
Q: When was this, what time frame?
A: I don’t recall the time frame, maybe May of 2010.
Q: But just to be clear, she told you the specific names of these applicants.
Q: And she told you that Washington, D.C. had requested these two specific applications be sent to D.C.
A: Yes, or parts of them.
Q: Okay. So she asked you to send particular parts of these applications.
Q: And that was unusual. Did you say that?
Q: And she indicated that Washington had requested these specific parts of these specific applications; is that right?
The Cincinnati employee was clearly perturbed that the administration is making low-level employees the fall guys:
“It’s impossible,” an IRS employee responded to an investigator’s question about the allegations that the targeting of conservative groups was due to “two ‘rogue agents.” “As an agent we are controlled by many, many people. We have to submit many, many reports. So the chance of two agents being rogue and doing things like that could never happen.”
Answering a question about the employee’s reaction to news reports that the targeting was contained in Cincinnati and the fault of the Cincinnati office, the employee said that Washington has been throwing them under the bus.
“Well, it’s hard to answer the question because in my mind I still hear people saying we were low‑level employees, so we were lower than dirt, according to people in D.C. So, take it for what it is,” a Cincinnati IRS employee said. “They were basically throwing us underneath the bus.”
This is no different than taking their fingerprints or DNA, treating them like convicted criminals. What on earth makes them think they have the right to collect such personal data from children without parental consent or even notification?
Two days before their Memorial Day weekend break, kids from at least three different public schools — Bethune Academy (K-5), Davenport School of the Arts (K-5, middle and high school), and Daniel Jenkins Academy (6-12) — were subjected to iris scans without their parents’ knowledge or consent. The scans are essentially optical fingerprints, which the school intended to collect to create a database of biometric information for school bus security.
One mother took to Facebook to decry the outrageous breach after her son informed her of the unauthorized imaging. She posted a face-saving letter from Polk County Senior Director of Support Services Rob Davis notifying families only after the high-definition eye scans had been conducted.
The mom, April Serrano of Kissimmee, Fla., recounted: “I have been in touch with the principal at my son’s school this morning regarding the iris scans. She verified everything my son told me. … She said that she was following instructions from the Polk County School Board (PCSB), and that she knew very little, if anything, about this before it occurred. She just did as she was told.”
The principal “did as she was told,” no questions asked, just like a compliant servant of Big Brother is expected to do. Thank goodness for whistle-blowing parents unafraid to speak truth to mind-numbed power.
[…] “I am outraged and sickened by this blatant disregard for my son’s constitutional right to privacy and my parental rights over my son,” Serrano told me this week. Another affected mom, Connie Turlington, also publicly challenged the school district on local TV station WFLA: “This is a fingerprint of my child. Where does this information live? Who has a hold of it? … My question is: How is it deleted, and how can we be assured as parents that it’s gone?”
These parents are not alone. School districts across the country are contracting with private tracking firms to monitor students. Some are using radio frequency tracking technology (RFID) to log movements. Khaliah Barnes, the open government counsel with the Washington, D.C.-based Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), spelled out the chilling implications for freedom of speech, religion and association in a recent CBN interview: “Imagine for example a student being dissuaded from attending a political interest group because she fears that the tracking technology will alert the principal or other administrators where her political affiliations lie.”
Now, add the threat that the nationalized Common Core student databases pose to students and families. As I’ve reported previously, the feds are constructing an unprecedented nationwide student tracking system to aggregate massive amounts of personal data — including health-care histories, income information, religious affiliations, voting status and even blood types and homework completion.
The data will be available to a wide variety of public agencies….
Holy cow! They illegally got phone records from CONGRESS??
HH: The idea that this might be a Geithner-Axelrod plan, and by that, the sort of intimation, Henry II style, will no one rid me of this turbulent priest, will no one rid me of these turbulent Tea Parties, that might have just been a hint, a shift of an eyebrow, a change in the tone of voice. That’s going to take a long time to get to. I don’t trust the Department of Justice on this. Do you, Congressman Nunes?
DN: No, I absolutely do not, especially after this wiretapping incident, essentially, of the House of Representative. I don’t think people are focusing on the right thing when they talk about going after the AP reporters. The big problem that I see is that they actually tapped right where I’m sitting right now, the Cloak Room.
HH: Wait a minute, this is news to me.
DN: The Cloak Room in the House of Representatives.
HH: I have no idea what you’re talking about.
DN: So when they went after the AP reporters, right? Went after all of their phone records, they went after the phone records, including right up here in the House Gallery, right up from where I’m sitting right now. So you have a real separation of powers issue that did this really rise to the level that you would have to get phone records that would, that would most likely include members of Congress, because as you know…
DN: …members of Congress talk to the press all the time.
HH: I did not know that, and that is a stunner.
DN: Now that is a separation of powers issue here, Hugh.
DN: And it’s a freedom of press issue. And now you’ve got the IRS going after people. So these things are starting to cascade one upon the other, and you have the White House pretending like they’re in the clouds like it’s not their issue somehow.
Nune backtracked the term “tapped” later, confirming that although phone records had been obtained, none of the lines were actually tapped:
The DOJ admitted to obtaining call records from a phone used by the AP in the House press gallery, which is … different from tapping a room used by congressmen to talk shop. How Nunes confused the two, I have no idea. […]
So he was sloppy in confusing obtaining phone records for wiretapping, and what he meant by the cloakroom is that, I guess, if a congressman in the room called up to an AP reporter in the press gallery, the DOJ would know about it from the gallery phone’s records.
The Washington Post confirmed that “The subpoenaed phones records included personal and office lines for several national security reporters and editors as well as “the main number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery.”
Either way, this is still a monumental abuse of power which serves to chill freedom of the press and intimidate potential sources and whistleblowers who might now think twice about speaking to the press.
Somebody better be going to jail over this.
The media finally discovers that their idol is actually a tyrant, after all, and they are not exempt from his abuses.
The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative’s top executive called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into how news organizations gather the news.
[…] The records obtained by the Justice Department listed incoming and outgoing calls, and the duration of each call, for the work and home phone numbers of individual reporters, general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and the main number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP.
In all, the government seized those records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown but more than 100 journalists work in the offices whose phone records were targeted on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.
In a letter of protest sent to Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt said the government sought and obtained information far beyond anything that could be justified by any specific investigation. He demanded the return of the phone records and destruction of all copies.
Holder is now facing heated backlash from Democrats and the normally fawning liberal media. Rich Lowry ironically observes that the media have discovered that they have more in common with the Tea Party and NRA than they’d like to admit:
Another brilliant column from National Review’s Rich Lowry at Politico. Lowry makes the indisputable point that the same media that have spent years attacking the Tea Party, and months savaging the NRA, are now revealing brazen hypocrisy when it comes to protecting their own rights. In spirit and goal, the media are now one with the Tea Party and NRA.
What animates the Tea Party and NRA is a legitimate concern that the government — especially under President Obama — has made a disturbing pivot from their Constitutional requirement to protect our liberties, to infringing upon our liberties. In turn, Obama and his media label us as anti-government crazies suffering from paranoid delusions.
But look at the reaction this week from that very same media in the wake of the Associated Press scandal. Suddenly the media don’t like Big Government doing to them what ObamaCare and background checks will do to the rest of us. Moreover, the very same media that suggest not trusting the government is a form of extremism, is now demanding a law be immediately passed to shield them from government intrusion.
Matt Drudge warns:
Warning to reporters and sources: Assume all your communications are being monitored. Time to move back to the parking garage #longhotsummer
— MATT DRUDGE (@DRUDGE) May 13, 2013
If you’re opposed to the idolatrous cult of the Messianic Nanny State, beware…the Obama administration has you in their cross-hairs.
In a blistering letter to President Barack Obama, the Rev. Franklin Graham said the IRS targeted the two non-profits he heads with an audit last year after the organizations took out ads urging people to support biblical principles on marriage and in choosing political candidates.
In the letter, dated Tuesday, Graham said in light of recent revelations that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups with “tea party” or “patriot” in their names, he does not believe the audit was “a coincidence — or justifiable.” Graham, son of famed Christian evangelist the Rev. Billy Graham, now heads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association based in Charlotte, N.C., and Samaritan’s Purse, a worldwide relief organization headquartered in Boone.
“I am bringing this to your attention because I believe that someone in the administration was targeting and attempting to intimidate us,” Graham concluded in the letter. “This is morally wrong and unethical — indeed some would call it ‘un-American.'”
James Dobson, the pro-life family advocate disclosed today that he was a victim of IRS discrimination, in a revelation that adds to the growing Internal Revenue Scandal.
Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, says he faced discrimination from the federal agency when trying to start a new group.
Family Talk Action Corporation is a Christian ministry that was formed for the purpose of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ; of providing Christ-oriented advice and education to parents and children; and of speaking to cultural issues that affect the family. Dobson is the president and CEO.
On September 2, 2011, Family Talk Action filed a Form 1024 with the Internal Revenue Service requesting § 501(c)(4) status. The attorney completing this form had submitted scores of similar applications over his 26 year career with none being rejected.
In January and February 2013, Family Talk Action’s counsel called the IRS reviewing agent, R. Medley (ID no. 52402), to inquire regarding when there would be a determination of the application. Her voice mail box was full on each of these calls so no message could be left. On March 6, he called Ms. Medley again and got routed to her voice mail again. This time, he was able to leave a voice mail message and requested a return call.
Medley did not call back until March 19. Family Talk Action’s attorney asked her when the IRS would issue its determination letter. Ms. Medley responded saying, I don’t think your Form 1024 (application for exemption) will be granted because Family Talk Action is “not educational” because it does not present all views. She continued, saying that Family Talk Action sounded like a “partisan right-wing group” because, according to Ms. Medley, it only presents conservative viewpoints.
She then added, “you’re political” because you “criticized President Obama, who was a candidate.”
Dobson and Graham weren’t the only targets during the 2012 campaign:
The Biblical Recorder, the official news journal for North Carolina Southern Baptists, found itself in the same situation in March – audited for the first time since the Baptist newspaper was founded in 1833.
The newspaper garnered national attention last summer after Editor Allan Blume published an interview with Chick-Fil-A president Dan Cathy. In reference to his support of the traditional family, Cathy said he was “guilty as charged.”
The Biblical Recorder also published the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s ads affirming traditional marriage.
And then – came the telephone call from the Internal Revenue Service.
“It raised some red flags and made me wonder why we were being targeted for an audit when we have been around since 1833 and have never been audited before,” Blume told Fox News. “Putting it all together made me wonder.”
Blume said the timing may have been coincidental – but “it didn’t seem that way.”
“There seems to be a very anti-Christian bias that has flowed into a lot of government agencies – oppression literally against Christian organizations and groups,” he said. “It makes you wonder what’s going on.
Blume said the newspaper was eventually cleared, but the audit consumed time and money.
“It was a lot of time and energy that we didn’t have,” he said. “It took some of our staff literally several weeks of doing nothing but that (the audit),” he said.
IRS officials refused to grant tax exempt status to two pro-life organizations because of their position on the abortion issue, according to a non-profit law firm, which said that one group was pressured not to protest a pro-choice organization that endorsed President Obama during the last election.
“In one case, the IRS withheld approval of an application for tax exempt status for Coalition for Life of Iowa. In a phone call to Coalition for Life of Iowa leaders on June 6, 2009, the IRS agent ‘Ms. Richards’ told the group to send a letter to the IRS with the entire board’s signatures stating that, under perjury of the law, they do not picket/protest or organize groups to picket or protest outside of Planned Parenthood,” the Thomas More Society announced today. “Once the IRS received this letter, their application would be approved.”
Planned Parenthood endorsed Obama in 2008 and 2012.
The IRS also pressured another pro-life group about its religious activities. “The IRS withheld approval of an application for charitable tax-exempt recognition of Christian Voices for Life, questioning the group’s involvement with ’40 Days for Life’ and ‘Life Chain’ events,” according to the law firm. “The Fort Bend County, Texas, organization was subjected to repeated and lengthy unconstitutional requests for information about the viewpoint and content of its educational communications, volunteer prayer vigils, and other protected activities.”
With this much coordination against his “enemies,” there’s NO WAY Obama didn’t know about it.