Edward Snowden: I kept my oath to uphold the Constitution; NSA Chief James Clapper did not
Snowden gave an extended interview to the Washington Post. In it, he remains principled, defiant, and committed to exposing illegal and unconstitutional actions by the Federal government.
It is commonly said of Snowden that he broke an oath of secrecy, a turn of phrase that captures a sense of betrayal. NSA Director Keith B. Alexander and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., among many others, have used that formula.
In his interview with The Post, Snowden noted matter-of-factly that Standard Form 312, the classified-information nondisclosure agreement, is a civil contract. He signed it, but he pledged his fealty elsewhere.
“The oath of allegiance is not an oath of secrecy,” he said. “That is an oath to the Constitution. That is the oath that I kept that Keith Alexander and James Clapper did not.”
People who accuse him of disloyalty, he said, mistake his purpose.
“I am not trying to bring down the NSA, I am working to improve the NSA,” he said. “I am still working for the NSA right now. They are the only ones who don’t realize it.”
What entitled Snowden, now 30, to take on that responsibility?
“That whole question — who elected you? — inverts the model,” he said. “They elected me. The overseers.”
He named the chairmen of the Senate and House intelligence committees.
“Dianne Feinstein elected me when she asked softball questions” in committee hearings, he said. “Mike Rogers elected me when he kept these programs hidden. . . . The FISA court elected me when they decided to legislate from the bench on things that were far beyond the mandate of what that court was ever intended to do. The system failed comprehensively, and each level of oversight, each level of responsibility that should have addressed this, abdicated their responsibility.”
read the rest
I only wish there were more members of Congress who had the guts Snowden has.
10:28 pm • 24 December 2013 • View comments
VA won’t allow kids to give handmade cards to bedridden Vets because cards say “Merry Christmas”
The VA in Dallas is refusing to allow hand-made cards from school children to be delivered to bed-ridden veterans in the hospital. And what evil, intolerant message do these cards contain? “Merry Christmas!”
They thought it was a kind holiday gesture, but dozens of Prosper students didn’t get to deliver the Christmas cards they made for local veterans because of a VA policy against specific religious cards and phrasing.
The cards are still in North Texas, and the writers are disappointed their thank you’s won’t be seen by the people they were intended for.
"I’m hoping that it might make their day because their family might live far away, and they might not have somebody to celebrate Christmas with and I’d like them to know they’ve not been forgotten and somebody wanted to say thank you," said fourth grader Gracie Brown.
Gracie and her brother, Luke, put a lot of thought and effort into their Christmas cards.
"It includes ‘Merry Christmas,’ and when you open it up, it says ‘Thank you for your service’ and the American flag," said Luke.
Fifty-two students at Grace Academy in Prosper spent Friday making the cards they planned to hand deliver to bedridden veterans at the VA hospital in Dallas Monday morning.
When Gracie and Luke’s mom, Andrea, found out they wouldn’t be able to, she was outraged.
"This wasn’t the country I grew up in, when you couldn’t say ‘Merry Christmas,’ you couldn’t say ‘God bless you’ or reference any scripture," she said.
The cards were the idea of Susan Chapman, a math teacher at Grace Academy. She’s married to a veteran and volunteers with the American Legion and other veterans’ organizations.
"It really didn’t occur to me there would be a problem with distributing Christmas cards," said Chapman.
She didn’t find out about the VA’s holiday card policy until she called Monday morning to arrange details for the cards’ delivery.
read the rest
So, rather than allow children to wish sick veterans a Merry Christmas, the VA chooses to violate the 1st Amendment right to freedom of speech and freedom of religious expression. The school isn’t asking the VA to endorse the cards or even deliver them, but the VA is refusing to allow the cards to even be given to the vets. These are essentially private communications that the VA is banning because of anti-religious fascism. There are huge constitutional problems with this.
What war on Christmas? There’s no war on Christmas. Nothing to see here…move along, folks!
11:26 am • 24 December 2013 • View comments
Daily Beast/Newsweek’s alternate reality: “Obamacare isn’t liberal enough”
Just look at this headline. With Obamacare approval at record lows, the folks at Daily Beast/Newsweek think they’ve got it figured out: Obamacare just isn’t liberal enough.
from an alternate universe:
Today’s CNN poll (PDF) on the Affordable Care Act seems like a blow to supporters of the law. When asked if they “generally favor or generally oppose” the president’s health care overhaul, only 35 percent say they “favor.” The large majority—65 percent—say they “oppose.”
For Republicans who have staked their entire message on opposition to Obamacare, this looks like vindication. Not only was the rollout a disaster, but now, the public has turned decisively against the effort. Why would they stop the attacks and calls for repeal if Americans are united in disdain for the law?
The problem for Republicans—and the good news for supporters—is that the results are a little more complicated than they look. In addition to the binary question about support or opposition, CNN also asked respondents to explain their position on the law. Do they oppose the legislation because it’s too liberal, or do they oppose it because it’s not liberal enough.
The answer, for 15 percent of Americans, is that they oppose the Affordable Care Act because it’s not liberal enough in its approach toward health care reform. Indeed, when you look at the full results, you see an electorate that either supports Obamacare or wants a more liberal alternative. There’s still an open question as to what those 15 percent want, but—if they support more liberal policies—then it’s fair to say they don’t want to dismantle the law. What Republicans want—a majority that opposes Obamacare and wants its repeal—just doesn’t exist.
read the rest
So, their whole argument is one poll that shows 15% of respondents said Obamacare “isn’t liberal enough.” The problem with the poll, of course, is that 15% is hardly a majority. For crying out loud, you can find that many people who believe that the moon landing was faked! Also, “not liberal enough” is never defined or fleshed out.
I can assure you, Americans are not interested in an even bigger government power grab. They’re not interested in even higher taxes. They’re not interested in even fewer choices. They’re not interested in more wealth redistribution. They’re not interested in more Federal incompetence. They’re not interested in more centralized control.
Somebody over at Daily Beast needs to get their head out of the sand. Full repeal is the only the only way out of this mess.
11:06 am • 24 December 2013 • View comments
Planned Parenthood rewrites “12 Days of Christmas” to celebrate condoms and morning after pills
What is Christmas all about? Well, if you’re a liberal, it’s all about sex, of course. Planned Parenthood Arizona recorded a nauseating version of the 12 Days of Christmas, rewriting the lyrics to be about birth control and morning after pills.
Here’s the video (if you can stomach it):
Look, I don’t personally have any problem with using contraception, but if you managed to listen to that garbage all the way through, you might need to have your ears checked.
9:38 pm • 23 December 2013 • View comments
Twitter blocking support for Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson
Twitter appears to be supressing support for Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson by blocking a website with a Twitter users who click a link to a petition to reinstate him to the show.
from Washington Examiner:
Twitter users hoping to use their accounts to support an advocacy effort on behalf of “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson —the website IStandWithPhil.com — are being thwarted by the social media site, which has branded the petition page “spammy or unsafe.”
“We’re encouraging supporters to be heard, tweet the @support or @twitter account, and use their other means of communication to get IStandWithPhil.com back online,” said Chris Stone, Founder of Faith Driven Consumer, said in a release on the social media “shutdown.”
When the Washington Examiner tested the link in a tweet, Twitter blocked the message on the grounds that “a URL in your tweet appears to contain a link to a page that has spammy or unsafe content.”
Google Diagnostics does not regard the page as “spammy or unsafe,” according to FDC.
read the rest
I can’t think of an example of Twitter blocking links to a liberal cause.
8:55 pm • 23 December 2013 • View comments
Privilege: Obama vacations as staffers bypass Obamacare site to enroll him in “symbolic” insurance
President Obama wants you to know that he’s just like you! He signed up for health insurance, just like he’s forcing you to do. The only difference that while the little people are stuck getting error messages on the Obamacare website or getting the runaround by a navigator on the phone, Obama is on vacation while his staffers work to enroll him in a “symbolic” plan that he won’t even use.
In what an official acknowledged is a “symbolic” move since the president gets his medical care from the military, Obama selected a low-cost bronze plan through the District of Columbia exchange. He made the pick over the weekend while vacationing in Hawaii.
Obama “was pleased to participate in a plan as a show of support for these marketplaces which are providing quality, affordable health care options to more than a million people,” the official added.
But Obama did not directly sign up for insurance. Rather, his staff went in person to sign him up, an official told POLITICO.
read the rest
How exactly does one sign up in person without actually being there? Apparently it’s easy to have your tax-funded minions sign you up for a “symbolic” Obamacare plan. For those us in the real word, however, Obamacare stinks as bad as ever.
8:28 pm • 23 December 2013 • View comments
Uh oh. Obama extends Obamacare deadline by a day
Well isn’t this interesting? Obama has decided yet again that the Constitution doesn’t apply to him. He’s extending the deadline for signing up for Obamacare by one day. Hey, remember that time that Obama hilariously declared that he wasn’t a dictator? Good times. Good times.
At midnight Monday, the official deadline arrives for Americans to sign up through the new federal health insurance exchange for health plans that begin Jan. 1. But, without any public announcement, Obama administration officials have changed the rules so that people will have an extra day to enroll, according to two individuals with knowledge of the switch.
Over the weekend, government officials and outside IT contractors working on the online marketplace’s computer system made a software change that automatically gives people a Jan. 1 start date for their coverage as long as they enroll by 11:59 p.m. Christmas Eve.
The switch is the most recent rule change — some by government officials, and at least one by the insurance industry — as a milestone approaches for what has been a tumultuous three-month start of the long-awaited opportunity for Americans to buy new health plans under a 2010 law intended to reshape the nation’s health-care system.
Read the Rest
This latest change, like all the others, doesn’t bode well for the law. Not only is he completely overstepping the bounds of the Constitution, but pragmatically, there must be a reason that he’s doing this. The most likely being that he’s privy to the enrollment numbers and doesn’t like what he sees. That’s speculation, of course.
Regardless of this, it shows yet again that he is a completely lawless president. If he’s not a dictator, how does he explain the fact that he keeps changing the “law of the land”, Obamacare, by oral decree?
1:31 pm • 23 December 2013 • View comments
CNN Poll: Obamacare support at all-time low
This is your feel-good story of the day. According to a new poll by CNN, support for Obamacare is at a record low. And for a law that was already wildly unpopular, that’s saying something.
Support for the country’s new health care law has dropped to a record low, according to a new national poll.
And a CNN/ORC International survey released Monday also indicates that most Americans predict that the Affordable Care Act will actually result in higher prices for their own medical care.
CNN/ORC International survey full results
Only 35% of those questioned in the poll say they support the health care law, a 5-point drop in less than a month. Sixty-two percent say they oppose the law, up four points from November.
Nearly all of the newfound opposition is coming from women.
"Opposition to Obamacare rose six points among women, from 54% in November to 60% now, while opinion of the new law remained virtually unchanged among men,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. “That’s bad news for an administration that is reaching out to moms across the country in an effort to make Obamacare a success.”
Read the Rest
Look, this is a terrible law, a fact that is becoming more evident to the average uninformed voter every day. But the media loves it and will continue to do everything in their power to lie about it and paint it in a positive light. They’ll scour America looking for anyone who has had a positive experience and report these anecdotes as the norm in an attempt to change public perception.
They’ll also go right along with any distraction/crisis that the Obama administration dreams up next. It might be minimum wage, immigration, gay marriage, abortion, gun control, etc. Anything to keep Obamacare from being at the forefront of the minds of the American public.
This is why it is imperative that those of us who are opposed to it keep telling the truth about it. Don’t stop telling your family and friends how terrible the law is. Don’t use hyperbole, the unadulterated facts are awful enough.
9:53 am • 23 December 2013 • View comments
NSA panel member: Who’s up for even more data collection?
Most Americans think that the unconstitutional surveillance and data collection of private citizens that the NSA has been engaged in should be stopped. But what does one of Obama’s surveillance guru’s, Michael Morell, think about it? He thinks we need more of it.
Michael Morell, the former acting director of the CIA and a member of President Obama’s task force on surveillance, said in an interview on Sunday that a controversial telephone data-collection program conducted by the National Security Agency should be expanded to include emails. He also said the program, far from being unnecessary, could prevent the next 9/11.
Morell, seeking to correct any misperception that the presidential panel had called for a radical curtailment of NSA programs, said he is in favor of restarting a program the NSA discontinued in 2011 that involved the collection of “metadata” for Internet communications. That program gets only a brief mention in a footnote on page 97 of the task-force report, “Liberty and Security in A Changing World.” “I would argue actually that the email data is probably more valuable than the telephony data,” Morell told National Journal in a telephone interview. “You can bet that the last thing a smart terrorist is going to do right now is call someone in the United States.”
Morell also said that while he agreed with the report’s conclusion that the telephone data program, conducted under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, made “only a modest contribution to the nation’s security” so far, it should be continued under the new safeguards recommended by the panel. “I would argue that what effectiveness we have seen to date is totally irrelevant to how effective it might be in the future,” he said. “This program, 215, has the ability to stop the next 9/11, and if you added emails in there it would make it even more effective. Had it been in place in 2000 and 2001, I think that probably 9/11 would not have happened.”
Read the Rest
Progressives have a fevah! And the only prescription is more unconstitutional big-government programs!
Ugh. Notice how he never mentions liberty or freedom or privacy or the Constitution. He attempts to make his atrocities palatable to a skeptical American public by invoking 911, while admitting that the surveillance hasn’t stopped anything thus far. In other words: “Yeah, it’s not working, but you just need to trust the government and forget your liberty anyway. It might work at some point.”
Remember, it’s not about safety, it’s about government control. Why else save every single piece of data forever in a massive data center in Utah? I’d love to hear that question posed to Mr. Morell.
Furthermore, as we’ve stated before on this site, even if the data collection makes us more safe (and it might), we should never trade liberty for safety. It would be better to live with the natural consequences of unbridled liberty (both good and bad) than to live under the thumb of an all-powerful government.
9:04 am • 23 December 2013 • View comments
Transparency! Obama administration tries to prevent a federal judge from ruling on NSA constitutionality
According to a report by the New York Times, the Obama administration is trying to prevent litigation that would essentially challenge the constitutionality of many of the recently disclosed actions of the NSA, citing national security.
From the NYT:
The Obama administration moved late Friday to prevent a federal judge in California from ruling on the constitutionality of warrantless surveillance programs authorized during the Bush administration, telling a court that recent disclosures about National Security Agency spying were not enough to undermine its claim that litigating the case would jeopardize state secrets.
In a set of filings in the two long-running cases in the Northern District of California, the government acknowledged for the first time that the N.S.A. started systematically collecting data about Americans’ emails and phone calls in 2001, alongside its program of wiretapping certain calls without warrants. The government had long argued that disclosure of these and other secrets would put the country at risk if they came out in court.
Read the Rest (H/T: Weasel Zippers)
Super. National Security. So, can anything be hidden for “national security” reasons? The government can do literally whatever it wants, constitutional or otherwise, and simply claim “national security” to prevent trial?
It’s well known that the Obama administration isn’t exactly living up to its promise to be “the most open and transparent in history” — a promise that laughably still has not been taken down from whitehouse.gov. And it’s things like this that makes the promise look completely ludicrous.
11:32 pm • 21 December 2013 • View comments
Cracker Barrel’s Facebook and Twitter explode with outrage after they dump Duck Commander merch
Evidently, Cracker Barrel has no idea who its target customer is because they just stepping into the Duck Dynasty kerfuffle in a big way.
This press release went out earlier today from Cracker Barrel’s official Facebook account:
Cracker Barrel’s mission is Pleasing People. We operate within the ideals of fairness, mutual respect and equal treatment of all people. These ideals are the core of our corporate culture.
We continue to offer Duck Commander products in our stores.
We removed selected products which we were concerned might offend some of our guests while we evaluate the situation.
We continually evaluate the products we offer and will continue to do so.
The products that “might offend” are basically anything with Phil Robertson’s face on them. The backlash is coming fast and furious:
The replies on social media to Cracker Barrel are almost universally negative. What a boneheaded move! Did Cracker Barrel not not realize they have the most conservative customer base in the restaurant industry?
4:19 pm • 21 December 2013 • View comments
VIDEO: New York cops harass and threaten to ticket man for washing car in his own driveway
A police officer in Garden City New York threatened to ticket a man for washing a car in his own driveway, telling him that his driveway was a “public place” and therefore washing was prohibited.
Here’s the video:
And this would be a prime example of why people distrust cops. First, he cites an ordinance that simply does not apply to the situation. Second, he invents the completely bogus justification of, “Your private property is a public place because people can see you.” Third, he resorts to that age-old cop bully tactic of, “You don’t want a problem with us, do you?”
Were it me, I would have picked up the sprayer and began washing my car and dared the cop to ticket me. If he wrote me a ticket, I would have taken him to court and thoroughly embarrassed him and his department in the public square.
Police officers play a legitimate and important role in society, but they make it extremely difficult to trust and defend them because of their own stupidity and disregard for individuals’ rights.
10:31 am • 21 December 2013 • View comments
US Navy sailors suffer cancer and other illnesses after providing aid near Fukushima
This story is heartbreaking and serves as a reminder that our brave men and women that volunteer in the military lay it all on on the line to serve.
from Fox News:
When the USS Ronald Reagan responded to the tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011, Navy sailors including Quartermaster Maurice Enis gladly pitched in with rescue efforts.
But months later, while still serving aboard the aircraft carrier, he began to notice strange lumps all over his body. Testing revealed he’d been poisoned with radiation, and his illness would get worse. And his fiance and fellow Reagan quartermaster, Jamie Plym, who also spent several months helping near the Fukushima nuclear power plant, also began to develop frightening symptoms, including chronic bronchitis and hemorrhaging.
They and 49 other U.S. Navy members who served aboard the Reagan and sister ship the USS Essex now trace illnesses including thyroid and testicular cancers, leukemia and brain tumors to the time spent aboard the massive ship, whose desalination system pulled in seawater that was used for drinking, cooking and bathing. In a lawsuit filed against Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the plaintiffs claim the power company delayed telling the U.S. Navy the tsunami had caused a nuclear meltdown, sending huge amounts of contaminated water into the sea and, ultimately, into the ship’s water system.
“At our level, we weren’t told anything,” Plym told FoxNews.com. “We were told everything was OK.”
Now, Plym, Enis and dozens of others wonder if their service to their country and to Japan has left them doomed.
“I get so angry,” Plym said. “They said as long as the plume was avoided we would be fine. But we knew then that something was going to happen. Common sense tells you that the wind would blow it everywhere. You don’t need to be a nuclear scientist to figure that out.”
San Francisco Attorney Charles Bonner,who is representing allegedly cancer-stricken sailors, initially filed a federal suit in the Southern District of California more than a year ago on behalf of a dozen sailors. The lawsuit was initially dismissed, when the court ruled that any ruling would hinge on interpreting communication between the Japanese and U.S. governments, which could violate the separation of powers. But Bonner is amending the suit to add new allegations that would fall under the court’s jurisdiction. And the number of plaintives has more than quadrupled as more service members come forward with radiation-related illnesses, he said.
“They went in to help with rescue efforts,” said Bonner, who plans to refile the suit on Jan. 6. “They did not go in prepared to deal with radiation containment.”
read the rest
It’s frustrating that these sailors are meeting with resistance in getting the accountability they deserve for what they’ve been put through.
11:43 pm • 20 December 2013 • View comments
Federal Judge: Obama administration is aiding Mexican drug cartels in smuggling illegal immigrants
The Obama administration already knowingly aided Mexican drug cartels in smuggling guns out of the US. Why should we be surprised that they’re aiding drug cartels in getting illegal immigrants into the US?
from Washington Times:
A federal judge in Texas late last week accused the Obama administration of aiding drug cartels, saying that instead of enforcing immigration laws, agents knowingly helped smuggle an illegal immigrant girl into the U.S. to live with her mother, also an illegal immigrant, in Virginia.
In a 10-page order, Judge Andrew S. Hanen said the case was the fourth such case he’s seen over the last month, and in each instance Customs and Border Protection agents have helped to locate and deliver the children to their illegal immigrant parents.
The judge said in each case, the taxpayers footed the bill for flights — including flights to multiple locations in different parts of the U.S. that it took to find one of the children’s parents.
“The DHS is rewarding criminal conduct instead of enforcing the current laws. More troubling, the DHS is encouraging parents to seriously jeopardize the safety of their children,” the judge said, adding that some of the children have been made to swim the Rio Grande River or traverse remote areas as part of the smuggling.
In the case before the judge last week, a 10-year-old girl whose mother, Patricia Elizabeth Salmeron Santos, paid a smuggler to get the daughter from El Salvador across the border and to Virginia.
The agents apprehended the smuggler and the young girl, and prosecuted the smuggler, but delivered the daughter to Ms. Salmeron Santos in Virginia, even though agents were aware she was in the country illegally.
read the rest
The Obama administration action only encourage more of the same behavior from illegal immigrant parents and drug cartels who have little motivation to keep a child safe during transport.
This administration is completely lawless. The follow only the laws that benefit them and ignore anything that stands in their way.
10:12 am • 20 December 2013 • View comments
White House review panel: NSA data collection hasn’t stopped a single terrorist attack
The White House recently assigned a panel to review their own domestic spying tactics after public outrage over the NSA’s mass data collection. Their results pretty much tell us what we already know: the NSA’s spying in no way makes Americans safer.
from NBC News:
“It was, ‘Huh, hello? What are we doing here?’” said Geoffrey Stone, a University of Chicago law professor, in an interview with NBC News. “The results were very thin.”
While Stone said the mass collection of telephone call records was a “logical program” from the NSA’s perspective, one question the White House panel was seeking to answer was whether it had actually stopped “any [terror attacks] that might have been really big.”
“We found none,” said Stone.
Under the NSA program, first revealed by ex-contractor Edward Snowden, the agency collects in bulk the records of the time and duration of phone calls made by persons inside the United States.
Stone was one of five members of the White House review panel – and the only one without any intelligence community experience – that this week produced a sweeping report recommending that the NSA’s collection of phone call records be terminated to protect Americans’ privacy rights.
The panel made that recommendation after concluding that the program was “not essential in preventing attacks.”
“That was stunning. That was the ballgame,” said one congressional intelligence official, who asked not to be publicly identified. “It flies in the face of everything that they have tossed at us.”
The conclusions of the panel’s reports were at direct odds with public statements by President Barack Obama and U.S. intelligence officials. “Lives have been saved,” Obama told reporters last June, referring to the bulk collection program and another program that intercepts communications overseas. “We know of at least 50 threats that have been averted because of this information.”read the rest
read the rest
I want to make a prediction here. Moving forward, President Obama will try to align himself more with the review panel than his own policies implemented by the NSA. See, he likes to stay above the fray and let somebody else take the blame for what he is ultimately responsible for. So, instead of receiving blame for domestic spying, President Obama will try to appear as the one who put a stop to it.
But here’s the kicker: they won’t put a stop to it. They’ll simply issue a directive with meaningless “guidelines" to "ensure that nobody’s rights are violated." And then the Obama administration will turn a blind eye as the NSA continues to spy on every single American citizen.
9:45 am • 20 December 2013 • View comments