Archive for the ‘Big Brother’ Category
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 they’ve already proven themselves capable of targeting conservatives with only their tax information, what will they be capable of when they have even more information on their targets?
If they’ve already illegally released conservatives’ confidential tax information, what’s to stop them from leaking dissidents’ personal health information as well?
Obamacare is not merely a massive overhaul of the health care system. It is also a substantial expansion of the Internal Revenue Service. That’s because the law relies on the tax collection agency to both enforce its individual mandate and administer the tax credits the law offers to subsidize the purchase of health insurance. Following recent revelations that agents in multiple IRS offices, including tax officials in Washington, targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny, a number of former and current Republican legislators are already counseling caution about the agency’s role in administering the law.
Concerns about the agency’s oversight of the health law are well-founded—and not only because of general concerns about the agency’s judgment.
For one thing, the IRS appears to have specifically targeted groups that opposed the health care law. According to The Washington Post, “although some of the groups were explicitly labeled ‘tea party’ or ‘patriot,’ others that came under intense scrutiny were focused on challenging the Affordable Care Act — known by many as Obamacare — or the integrity of federal elections.”
In other words, the agency has singled out Obamacare opponents for unusual treatment. That does not speak well of the agency’s ability to fairly carry out its duties under the law.
Indeed it does not.
The editorial board at Investors Business Daily is similarly concerned:
[O]bamaCare’s individual mandate takes effect in 2014, all Americans who file income-tax returns must deal with and report personal health information to the IRS.
The IRS will require the name and health insurance identification number of the taxpayer, the name and tax identification number of the health insurance company, the number of months the taxpayer was covered by this insurance plan and whether the plan was purchased in one of ObamaCare’s “exchanges.”
Heavy fines will be levied for failure to jump through all the government’s hoops.
The new tax mandates and penalties in ObamaCare will require up to 16,500 new IRS personnel to collect, examine and audit new tax information mandated on families and small businesses, according to an analysis by the Joint Economic Committee and the then-minority GOP staff of the House Ways & Means Committee in 2010.
Will the IRS enforce the mandate rules impartially, or will it go after only those who support individual liberty and oppose government encroachment on it?
Will ObamaCare resisters also be considered enemies of the state?
Who needs a Bill of Rights or due process of law? The same government that claims to be “of the people, by the people, for the people” really considers itself completely above the law and unaccountable to the people.
When will Americans finally stand up to these abuses of power and say, “ENOUGH”?
The Internal Revenue Service doesn’t believe it needs a search warrant to read your e-mail.
Newly disclosed documents prepared by IRS lawyers say that Americans enjoy “generally no privacy” in their e-mail, Facebook chats, Twitter direct messages, and similar online communications — meaning that they can be perused without obtaining a search warrant signed by a judge.
That places the IRS at odds with a growing sentiment among many judges and legislators who believe that Americans’ e-mail messages should be protected from warrantless search and seizure. They say e-mail should be protected by the same Fourth Amendment privacy standards that require search warrants for hard drives in someone’s home, or a physical letter in a filing cabinet.
An IRS 2009 Search Warrant Handbook obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union argues that “emails and other transmissions generally lose their reasonable expectation of privacy and thus their Fourth Amendment protection once they have been sent from an individual’s computer.” The handbook was prepared by the Office of Chief Counsel for the Criminal Tax Division and obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
By that reasoning, a letter or package that leaves your home on it’s way to the intended recipient would would have no “reasonable expectation of privacy” either….except that it DOES.
If the government is not permitted to snoop through your physical mail without a warrant, neither should they be permitted to snoop through your electronic communications.
The ATF, along with the DOJ, allowed hundreds of American guns to fall into the hands of dangerous drug cartels.
But don’t worry. I’m sure they’ll be much more responsible when it comes to your personal information.
A recent solicitation from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) reveals that the agency is seeking a “massive” online database capable of pulling up individuals’ personal information, connections and associates.
On March 28, ATF posted the notice on FedBizOpps.gov, entitled “Investigative System.” The solicitation was updated on April 5 with a few minor changes.
The document says that the system will be utilized by staff “to provide rapid searches on various entities for example; names, telephone numbers, utility data and reverse phone look-ups, as a means to assist with investigations, and background research on people, assets and businesses.”
The system is described as a “massive online data repository system that contains a wide variety of data sources both historically and current that can be utilized in support of investigations and backgrounds.”
[...] The system “provides a means to rapidly check records across the country” and is “necessary in assisting investigators, agents and analyst to find people, their assets, relatives, associates and more.”
The ATF says they will use this system to provide information to Intelligence Analysts, Special Agents, Inspectors, Financial Investigators and Law Enforcement.
Who needs a warrant anymore? Don’t you feel safer?
Melissa Harris-Perry: All Your Kids Belong to Us (Not the Parents)
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I’ve seen the village, and I don’t want it raising my kids!
In a scripted MSNBC promo, Melissa Harris-Perry made the following statement:
“We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we’ve always had a private notion of children, your kid is yours and totally your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of these are our children. So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.”
Got that? You kid doesn’t belong to you. He/she belongs to the “collective” – meaning, the state.
Ironically, this is the same woman who calls unborn babies “things that turn into humans.”
How do I put this politely? Stay the **** way from my kids!
So kids belong to whole communities? Didn’t we fight a war back in the 1800s to prove that people weren’t owned by the state or anyone else, but were, in fact, people? Seriously?
But take that out of it. This is amazingly stupid commentary. All of us who own property (real property, not children) pay property taxes to fund a public education system to educate our children. We have democratically elected school boards to make the decisions on how tocollectively educate our kids to common, state approved standards.
It is failing spectacularly. And I suspect that the tangible efforts to improve it, from neutering teachers unions to giving parents choices in where to send their children, are opposed by Melissa Harris-Perry.
I never thought I’d see the day when self-styled progressives advocated the state owning the people.
Ken Shepherd at Newsbusters correctly points out that this is actually Maoist philosophy she’s spewing:
[T]he notion of collective responsibility for children was a philosophy that undergirded the Cultural Revolution in Communist China under Chairman Mao. I bring that up because, as you may recall, another Harris-Perry “Lean Forward” spot contains a reference to a “great leap forward,” which calls to mind the disastrous agricultural reform plan which starved millions of Chinese to death in the 1950s.
The Five on Fox made some great points about this collectivist mentality while discussing this around the table:
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Sarah Palin tweeted a few ingenious responses to this:
Love it! After having spent 22 hours of my life in labor, I heartily agree!
After the justifiable outrage and backlash, Harris-Perry is trying to walk back her statements and blame the views for misunderstanding her. Nice try. This is typical for the Left. They float a trial balloon and then pretend it was all an innocent misunderstanding when they get called for dropping their mask. The mask goes back up, but the ugliness behind it doesn’t go away. They work by desensitizing people over time, so that what sounds outrageous now will actually start to sound reasonable a few years from now. I don’t buy her “backpedaling” for a second.
Sign the petition to adopt the only Constitutional Amendment that will protect children from this kind of power grab – the Parental Rights Amendment!
Creepy doesn’t begin to describe this.
As part of the government’s initiative to institute Common Core standards for education, so comes a system that would mine information about students to establish best practices for effective teaching. But some think the technology that would conduct the mining crosses a line.
[...] In the draft “Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance: Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century” report released in February by the Department of Education is a section detailing how to measure such qualities in a student through Behavioral Task Performance.
“Behavioral task performance measures are the broad set of methods used to capture behaviors consistent with perseverance or lack thereof—and in many cases, associated emotional experiences, physical movements or facial expressions, physiological responses, and thoughts— that students do in response to a particular challenge,” the report states.
[...] Understanding the emotions or physiological state of a student while they’re presented with a challenge, the report said, can be measured through “analysis of facial expressions, EEG brain wave patterns, skin conductance, heart rate variability, posture and eye- tracking.”
The report presents this figure showing a variety of sensors that could be used to determine the emotional state of a student while performing a certain task:
“Sensors provide constant, parallel streams of data and are used with data mining techniques and self-report measures to examine frustration, motivation/flow, confidence, boredom and fatigue,” the report states.
It presents MIT’s Mood Meter — a device that captures facial expression through a camera on a laptop while software analyses the mood — as an example of technology that can conduct these measurements. [...]
A study in 1999 published by MIT researchers delved into the use of a posture-sensing chair to evaluate a student. The experiment using a chair with pressure sensors on the seat and back evaluated student interest in order to better learn how to improve the experience for students in a computer-learning situation.
But a camera, chair, mouse and wristband equipped with sensors to track different metrics isn’t not all. The report also highlights the value of FMRI (functional magnetic resonance imagery), which would reveal different areas of activity in the brain through scans.
Apparently they see classrooms full of children as guinea pigs who can be used for their Frankenexperiments – a captive audience that can’t leave once they find out that they have become the show.
Big Brother Healthcare: Obamacare Includes Random Health ‘Inspections,’ Mandatory Reporting Of Your Health Stats To Gov’t
CVS employees were outraged recently to learn that they will be forced to turn over their weight information and submit to random health “inspections,” or be forced to pay higher premiums:
A new policy for employees of CVS Pharmacy will have them reporting their weight, body fat and other health metrics — or they can pay a fine that could add up to $600 each year. Privacy advocates are not happy about it.
According to the Boston Herald, Dr. Deborah Peel, founder of the advocacy group Patient Privacy Rights, said the increasing cost of health care will only make policies like this more common.
“Rising health care costs are killing the economy, and businesses are terrified,” Peel said. “Now, we’re all in this terrible situation where employers are desperate to get rid of workers who have costly health conditions, like obesity and diabetes.”
To ABC’s Good Morning America, Peel called the practice “technology-enhanced discrimination on steroids.”
According to reports, the new policy requires employees of the pharmacy to have a doctor record their weight, height, body fat, blood pressure, blood glucose and other measurement by May 1, 2014. If the employee opts out of providing this information, they would be fined an additional $50 each month for insurance, adding up to $600 per year. The Boston Herald reported CVS saying it would pay for these evaluations.
What most Americans don’t realize is this is the beginning for the “new normal” under Obamacare. CVS is the first, but they won’t be the last:
Starting in 2014, per the dictates of the federal government, your doctor must record your body mass index (BMI), which measures whether you are overweight, each time he or she treats you and turn it over to the government via your electronic health record, which every patient is required to have. Your BMI will then be tracked by the Health and Human Services Department, the agency rolling out ObamaCare, and a bevy of other state and federal agencies.
Shock and anger ensued this week as CVS employees learned that if they didn’t turn over that information to their insurers, they’d be fined. But CVS is merely rolling out what may become one of the most controversial aspects of ObamaCare a little ahead of schedule.
One needs only to look to Europe to see how our political elites will use ObamaCare, and the BMI weight measure they are so determined to record for each of us, to intrude into and regulate not just our health care, but our lives.
In the U.K., overweight patients or those who smoke are branded “undeserving” and denied treatments like cataract surgery (without which they could eventually go blind) and knee and hip surgery, leaving some who don’t qualify for the surgery in agonizing pain. Some of the U.K.’s “trusts,” which regulate the national health care system for various zones of the country, go farther, denying all operations to those who don’t meet the government’s weight dictates except for lifesaving surgery on their hearts, brains or to remove cancer.
A recent study shows that a majority of the U.K.’s doctors think the national health system should go farther still and deny all non-emergency care to patients who don’t meet certain weight and health criteria. By law, they still must pay for their health care, of course, even though they are denied the ability to get treatment.
Given all of this, it is chilling that the collection of each patient’s BMI was so important to U.S. Health and Human Services that it was one of the first directives the department issued after ObamaCare passed in 2009. There is a reason for that.
It is clear that liberal elites and the Obama administration intend to take Americans down the same path as Europe. The apparatus to handle federally mandated “health interventions” into people’s lives is already being put in place.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently recommended that all obese adults receive “intensive counseling in an effort to rein in a growing health crisis in America” and that they have “intensive, multicomponent behavioral interventions.” According to the Los Angeles Times, these apparently will involve 12 to 26 counseling sessions a year with a physician or community-based program.
In the new health care regime that is coming under ObamaCare, each citizen will be reduced to a single, all-important series of numbers -height, weight, BMI, glucose levels – that tell the government all it needs to know about whether an individual is practicing a healthy lifestyle.
If we follow Europe’s lead, Americans’ weight will soon become the pretext for the government to intrude into and regulate many aspects of our lives through ObamaCare, regulations, and taxation.
In exchange for “free” healthcare, the government takes away your privacy, your freedom, and your access to any care the ruling class deems you “unfit” for.
As a parent, it is chilling to see how much government bureaucrats presumptiously claim the right to intrude into our children’s lives. Since the moment the federal government took control of education (thanks, Jimmy Carter!), it has been progressively demanding more and more control over the system, the content, and even the most personal matters of the students themselves.
Children are the future. If the state gains absolute control over the hearts, minds and choices of future voters and citizens, they will learn look to the state to be their provider, caregiver, and master. It’s already happening. If we don’t stop them, we will wake up one day to discover that our children have become wards of the state, with parents having little – if any – input.
While many Americans worry about government drones in the sky spying on our private lives, Washington meddlers are already on the ground and in our schools gathering intimate data on children and families.
Say goodbye to your children’s privacy. Say hello to an unprecedented nationwide student tracking system, whose data will apparently be sold by government officials to the highest bidders. It’s yet another encroachment of centralized education bureaucrats on local control and parental rights under the banner of “Common Core.”
As the American Principles Project, a conservative education think tank, reported last year, Common Core’s technological project is “merely one part of a much broader plan by the federal government to track individuals from birth through their participation in the workforce.” The 2009 porkulus package included a “State Fiscal Stabilization Fund” to bribe states into constructing “longitudinal data systems (LDS) to collect data on public-school students.”
These systems will aggregate massive amounts of personal data — 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. And despite federal student-privacy protections guaranteed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the Obama administration is paving the way for private entities to buy their way into the data boondoggle. Even more alarming, the U.S. Department of Education is encouraging a radical push from aggregate-level data-gathering to invasive individual student-level data collection.
[...] Home-schoolers and religious families that reject traditional government education would be tracked. Original NEDM data points included hair color, eye color, weight, blood types and even dental status.
How exactly does amassing and selling such personal data improve educational outcomes? It doesn’t. This, at its core, is the central fraud of Washington’s top-down nationalized curricular scheme. The Bill Gates-endorsed Common Core “standards” are a phony pretext for big-government expansion. The dazzling allure of “21st-century technology” masks the privacy-undermining agenda of nosy bureaucratic drones allergic to transparency, accountability and parental autonomy. Individual student privacy is sacrificed at the collective “For the Children” altar.
Fed Ed is not about excellence or academic achievement. It’s about control, control and more control.
However, there is currently a way for parents to opt out:
The good news: An independent grassroots revolt outside the Beltway bubble is swelling. Families are taking their children’s academic and privacy matters out of the snoopercrats’ grip and into their own hands. You can now download a Common Core opt-out/disclosure form to submit to your school district, courtesy of the Truth In American Education group: CLICK HERE.
Parents caught off guard by the stealthy tracking racket are now mobilizing across the country. Echoing families across the city, Big Apple public advocate Bill de Blasio blasted the tracking database in a letter to government officials: “I don’t want my kids’ privacy bought and sold like this.” On Wednesday, prompted by parental objections, Oklahoma state representatives unanimously passed House Bill 1989 — the Student Data Accessibility, Transparency and Accountability Act— to prohibit the release of confidential student data without the written consent of a student’s parent or guardian.
[...] Research fellow Joy Pullmann at The Heartland Institute points to a February Department of Education report on its data-mining plans that contemplates the use of creepy student monitoring techniques such as “functional magnetic resonance imaging” and “using cameras to judge facial expressions, an electronic seat that judges posture, a pressure-sensitive computer mouse and a biometric wrap on kids’ wrists.”
The DOE report exposes the big lie that Common Core is about raising academic standards by revealing its progressive designs to measure and track children’s “competencies” in “recognizing bias in sources,” “flexibility,” “cultural awareness and competence,” “appreciation for diversity,” “empathy,” “perspective taking, trust (and) service orientation.”
That’s right. School districts and state governments are pimping out highly personal data on children’s feelings, beliefs, “biases” and “flexibility” instead of doing their own jobs imparting knowledge – or minding their own business. And yes, Republicans such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bushcontinue to falsely defend the centralized Common Core regime as locally driven and non-coercive, while ignoring the database system’s circumvention of federal student privacy laws.
Why? Edu-tech nosy-bodies are using the Common Core assessment boondoggle as a Trojan horse to collect and crunch massive amounts of personal student data for their own social justice or moneymaking ends.
Don’t waste any time. OPT OUT NOW!
Unless all your financial transactions (including earnings) are in cash, you’ll want to pay attention to this one.
The Obama administration is drawing up plans to give all U.S. spy agencies full access to a massive database that contains financial data on American citizens and others who bank in the country, according to a Treasury Department document seen by Reuters.
The proposed plan represents a major step by U.S. intelligence agencies to spot and track down terrorist networks and crime syndicates by bringing together financial databanks, criminal records and military intelligence. The plan, which legal experts say is permissible under U.S. law, is nonetheless likely to trigger intense criticism from privacy advocates.
Contributor “George Washington” notes at Zero Hedge:
The excuse given for this intrusion on privacy?
As with the destruction of all of our privacies and other liberties, the excuse given is terrorism.
Indeed, given that the government claims the right to assassinate or indefinitely detain Americans without any due process of law, do you think government employees will hesitate in seizing the assets of Americans labels as “enemies?”
And the government’s take-down of Megaupload was an exercise of the power to seize all of the legal property held in a storage facility because a handful of crooks have illegal property in theirs.
Know Your Rights: Citizens Journalists Show How Not To Comply With Unconstitutional Detention, Searches or Questioning
I’ll admit it from the get-go: I don’t like confrontation. If a police officer randomly stopped me on the street and asked for my I.D. or asked me questions, I’d most likely comply because frankly, it’s just easier. I would assume that I must match the description of someone they’re looking for, and the sooner I clear up any suspicion they may have, the sooner I can get on with my day.
But unfortunately, that kind of mindless compliance with unconstitutional abuses of police power has led many Americans to assume that law enforcement officers can demand anything they like from you – regardless of probably cause – and you must submit to unlawful questioning, detention, or searches.
The young man in this video was stopped for openly carrying a gun in a holster, which is legal in the state of Oregon. He insists that the officer follow the law and provide legal justification for stopping him (which the officer does not have):
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Some may see this as unreasonably antagonistic. Why not just comply and be done with it? How hard can that be? The truth is, it WOULD be easier to comply. But it would also lead law enforcement officers to forget the laws they are sworn to uphold, and to violate the law with impunity.
I used to live near border patrol checkpoints and drove through them frequently. They’d ask me if I was a US citizen, I’d reply “yes,” and they’d wave me through (they’re listening for your accent and tone of voice, or behavioral cues). It never occurred to me that these checkpoints were unconstitutional.
But the reality is, they are. Border Patrol has no constitutional authority to stop citizens from driving down the road and question them without reasonable suspicion or probably cause. To do so is to violate the 4th Amendment. Yet most of us comply without thinking twice. These Libertarian citizen journalists decided to exercise their constitutional rights on video:
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In a national climate where simply speaking out for lower spending, constitutional rights and the 2nd Amendment can get you demonized as an “extremist,” it’s important that we know our rights, and how to exercise them respectfully. Lawful resistance to unconstitutional abuses of power is an effective way to tell our politicians and bureaucrats they have gone too far. They work for us, not the other way around. Their job is to protect our unalienable rights, not take them away.
”This isn’t a struggle between Republicans and Democrats. This is a struggle between the President and the Constitution.” – Senator Rand Paul
On Tuesday night, Senator Rand Paul went on Sean Hannity’s show to discuss Obama’s dangerous and unconstitutional threat to allow drone strikes against American citizens on U.S. soil – with no due process:
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On Wednesday at 11:47am, Paul launched a nearly 13-hour filibuster on the floor of the Senate to draw attention to this blatant attack on constitutional rights, earning admiration and support from both sides of the aisle, as well as internationally.
Some of the best quotes of the day:
On John Brennan: “I have hounded and hounded and hounded him… Only after yanking his chain… does he say he’s going to obey the law. We should be alarmed by that.”
Taking a stand: “I have allowed the president to pick his political appointees…But I will not sit quietly and let him shred the Constitution.”
On his colleagues in the Senate: “If there were an ounce of courage in this body I would be joined by other senators… saying they will not tolerate this.”
On White House “kill list”: “The people on the list might be me.”
On Obama: “He was elected by a majority, but the majority doesn’t get to decide who we execute.”
On making a point: “This will be a blip in his nomination process. But I hope people will see it as an argument for how important our rights are.”
On Wednesday, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) served notice to both the Republican establishment and to the Democrat-Media Complex: conservatism isn’t gone. It’s not even on vacation. The new wave of conservatives is here, and they know how to play the game.
At approximately 11:47 a.m. EST, Paul took to the floor of the Senate to filibuster the nomination of counterterrorism czar John Brennan for CIA Director. Paul stated his reason specifically and clearly: the Obama administration has refused to answer question as to whether they believe it is acceptable under the Constitution to kill American citizens on US soil using drones if those citizens are not engaged in an immediate terrorist threat. Paul was broader than that, actually – he simply asked the administration for a set of rules that could be used to limit their power to execute American citizens here at home. Over and over again, the administration refused to turn over the legal memos detailing its policies.
And so Paul talked. And boy, did he talk. For nearly 13 hours, he talked, taking breaks only when spelled by Senators including fellow Tea Partiers Mike Lee (R-UT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Pat Toomey (R-PA). Even an honest Democrat – apparently the only one in the chamber – got into the act: Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). Citing everyone from left to right, Paul pointed out the hypocrisy of an administration ripping into waterboarding of terrorists but happy to target them for death from the skies. He asked repeatedly why the administration could not answer his simple question about the boundaries of government power. And the American people listened.
It was an astonishing demonstration of the power of ideas. Paul spoke directly to the American people from the floor of the Senate. No media interrogators. No Obama functionaries. No spin machine. He was not strident, but he was firm. [...]
Paul’s dramatic action today may not have stopped John Brennan from becoming CIA Director. But that was not the point. He proved that conservatism in America is not merely alive, but that it has the potential for post-partisanship. He proved that conservatives can still seize the narrative, and fight back against an authoritarian-minded, non-transparent administration. And he proved that a new generation of conservatives is about to take the field for Republicans. Over the next 24 hours, look for the Democrat-Media Complex to strike back against Paul. They know the battle is on.
Finally, it appears that Republicans do too.
Oregon patriot Kristina Ribali remarked:
“Hey America, don’t look now, but it’s those crazy right wingers, Senator Rand Paul, Senator Mike Lee, and Senator Ted Cruz who are currently filibustering the United States Senate against the unconstitutional practice of executing you by drone without a trial. You’re welcome – Love, the Tea Party.”
Who could have imagined in the Reagan and Clinton years that you would one day hear an Attorney General seriously claiming that the President has the legal right to assassinate American citizens on U.S. soil without due process, using military aircraft?
Just a few years ago, nobody could imagine that we could ever be in danger of losing such fundamental liberties. The speed at which they are being assaulted is breath-taking.
Attorney General Eric Holder can imagine a scenario in which it would be constitutional to carry out a drone strike against an American on American soil, he wrote in a letter to Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.
“It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States,” Holder replied in a letter yesterday to Paul’s question about whether Obama “has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, and without trial.”
Paul condemned the idea. “The U.S. Attorney General’s refusal to rule out the possibility of drone strikes on American citizens and on American soil is more than frightening – it is an affront the Constitutional due process rights of all Americans,” he said in a statement.
Where are all the outraged liberals who were so worried about the Patriot Act and declared that Bush was a “war criminal?” Why aren’t they marching in the streets in protest against an administration that claims the power to kill Americans at will?
Don’t worry, little citizen. It’s not like they’re planning on actually using them or anything…right?
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has customized its Predator drones, originally built for overseas military operations, to carry out at-home surveillance tasks that have civil libertarians worried: identifying civilians carrying guns and tracking their cell phones, government documents show.
The documents provide more details about the surveillance capabilities of the department’s unmanned Predator B drones, which are primarily used to patrol the United States’ northern and southern borders but have been pressed into service on behalf of a growing number of law enforcement agencies including the FBI, the Secret Service, the Texas Rangers, and local police.
Homeland Security’s specifications for its drones, built by San Diego-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, say they “shall be capable of identifying a standing human being at night as likely armed or not,” meaning carrying a shotgun or rifle. They also specify “signals interception” technology that can capture communications in the frequency ranges used by mobile phones, and “direction finding” technology that can identify the locations of mobile devices or two-way radios.
The sequestration question du jour is why the Department of Homeland Security, busy releasing hundreds, if not thousands, of deportable and detained illegal aliens due to budget constraints, is buying several thousand Mine Resistant Armored Protection (MRAP) vehicles?
And just who are they intended to be used against?
[...] The Department of Homeland Security (through the U.S. Army Forces Command) recently retrofitted 2,717 of these MRAP vehicles for service on the streets of the U.S. They were formerly used for counterinsurgency in Iraq.
These vehicles are specifically designed to resist mines and ambush attacks. They use bulletproof windows and are designed to withstand small-arms fire, including smaller-caliber rifles such as a .223 Remington. Does DHS expect a counterinsurgency here?
An “expert” at West Point recently published a study for the Combating Terrorist Center which warns cadets about the dangers of the “violent far right,” such as Christians, pro-lifers, and advocates for limited government.
It is the extreme left (Occupy, Bill Ayers, ELF) that has been involved in bombings, riots, and other violent actions. Never ONCE has there been an arrest, destruction of property, or other violent action at a Tea Party. And yet WE are supposedly who they’re worried about?
Just two weeks ago, Obama tried to explain away his disastrous presidency by saying, ’The problem is … I’m not the emperor of the United States.”
Poor Obama. If only he were emperor, he could get so much done. Now he’s blaming his failures once again on the fact that we have this pesky constitutional republic that won’t allow him to act as a dictator:
“I am not a dictator,” President Obama said Friday while defending his efforts to stop the sequester. “I’m the president.”
Obama said there are limits to what he can do to get a deal on the sequester during a press conference in which he blamed Republicans for standing in the way of a deal.
Obama also hilariously confused Star Wars with Star Trek while lamenting that he didn’t have mind control powers over his opponents:
President Obama yesterday outraged nerds everywhere when he committed sci-fi heresy by mixing up “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” in remarks about budget cuts.
Speaking at a White House press conference, Obama joked that he couldn’t use a “Jedi mind meld” to get Republicans to agree to his budget plan.
“I know that this has been some of the conventional wisdom that’s been floating around Washington, that somehow, even though most people agree that I’m being reasonable . . . the fact that [Republicans] don’t take it means that I should somehow do a Jedi mind meld with these folks and convince them to do what’s right,” the president said.Obama — a professed Trekkie — was conflating the “Jedi mind tricks” of “Star Wars” with the “Vulcan mind meld” of “Star Trek” lore.
The blunder set off a frenzy of ridicule across the Twitterverse.
President Obama wished he could alternatively do a Jedi Death Grip on Conservatives, but that power was also not his to use. He concluded the press conference saying, “May the force be with you so you can live long and prosper.”