Congressional staffers from the Veteran Affairs Committee who were investigating complaints against the VA benefits office said that employees there attempted to spy on the investigation with video and audio equipment at the direction of the regional director.
Here’s audio of Rep. Jeff Miller talking about the incident on WMAL:
from Daily Caller:
House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller told DC-based WMAL Radio on Tuesday about his congressional staffers recently being spied on when they looked into various VA complaints at a regional Veterans Benefits Administration office.
His staff was told on “three different occasions” to go to a specific room to do their work but one VA employee said it wasn’t necessary.
Miller, a Republican from Florida, recounted that the “VBA’s acting director took that employee outside” for several minutes and when they returned, his staff was directed again to the specific room on a different floor.
His staffers discovered the room’s sound and video system were prepared to observe their work while they reviewed case files.
“In that room, both of the mics were hot and the camera itself was activated,” the committee chairman told WMAL host Larry O’Connor.
Miller continued, “My staff said, ‘We’re not going to do it in this room,’ and they requested to be taken to another room.”
VBA relocated the committee staffers after they pushed back about the use of the room.
The top officials at the VA are not denying the attempt to spy on Congressional investigators. One wonders who was on the other end of the video conferencing feed…
This should scare everyone. A recent poll published by the Christian Science Monitor reveals that a plurality (almost a majority) of Americans think that the 1st amendment doesn’t apply to those who engage in speech that is “offensive and harmful.” America, what have we become?
From a seemingly approving CSM:
Donald Sterling. Paula Deen. Juan Williams. Cliven Bundy. Phil Robertson.
Each of these individuals has landed in hot water thanks to controversial comments that unleashed similar responses – public outrage, a media blitz, and professional sacking or suspension. Along with scores of others, they represent a treadmill of inflammatory speech scandals that have tripped up America for decades.
Yet for all the attention devoted to the off-color comments – even President Obama weighed in on the Sterling scandal – Americans’ collective reaction to controversial speech may be far more revealing than the headline-making remarks themselves. Society’s reaction is more about style than substance, commentators say, suggesting Americans haven’t made as much progress as they think they have on issues of race, religion, gender, and sexuality.
Furthermore, incidents of inflammatory speech force Americans to confront the fine line between protecting free speech and fostering a tolerant, pluralistic society.
This is frightening. The mere fact that we are at the point where we are taking polls about what people should and shouldn’t be allowed to say in America shows us just how far we’ve wandered from the founding principles of liberty.
The very wording of the question creates a perfect teachable moment. The 1st Amendment exists for the sole purpose of protecting speech deemed offensive, harmful or dangerous. If speech is not threatening or offensive to anyone, then there is no reason to protect it. Put another way, if we do not protect all speech, what’s the point of the first amendment?
Richard Dawkins is a hero to the anti-religious left. He is one of the worlds most high-profile voices against the existence of religion. The bullies in the atheist movement in this country ironically cling to Dawkins’ writings like scripture. Well, Dawkins recently gave to date the most high-profile stamp of approval on pedophilia.
from liberal nuts over at Salon:
In a recent interview with the Times magazine, Richard Dawkins attempted to defend what he called “mild pedophilia,” which, he says, he personally experienced as a young child and does not believe causes “lasting harm.”
Dawkins went on to say that one of his former school masters “pulled me on his knee and put his hand inside my shorts,” and that to condemn this “mild touching up” as sexual abuse today would somehow be unfair.
“I am very conscious that you can’t condemn people of an earlier era by the standards of ours. Just as we don’t look back at the 18th and 19th centuries and condemn people for racism in the same way as we would condemn a modern person for racism, I look back a few decades to my childhood and see things like caning, like mild pedophilia, and can’t find it in me to condemn it by the same standards as I or anyone would today,” he said.
Plus, he added, though his other classmates also experienced abuse at the hands of this teacher, “I don’t think he did any of us lasting harm.”
Child welfare experts responded to Dawkins’ remarks with outrage — and concern over their effect on survivors of abuse.
This falls in line with recent calls by far-left whack jobs to consider pedophilia a sexual orientation. Child sexual abuse is not harmless, and anybody who claims as much does not need to be hanging around anybody’s children.
I’m sure we can credit this to the Obama’s “reset” with Russia. We’ve reset all the way to 1960.
from Daily Mail:
Russia has agreed to reopen a major Cold War listening post on Cuba that was used to spy on America, it was reported today.
Moscow-based daily Kommersant claimed Russia and Cuba have struck a deal ‘in principle’ after President Vladimir Putin visited the island last week.
Citing several sources within Russian authorities, the respected daily wrote: ‘The agreements were finalised while President Vladimir Putin visited Havana last Friday.
The signals intelligence facility near Havana at Torrens, also known as Lourdes, was the largest Russian SIGINT site abroad, but has been mothballed since 2001.
It covered a 28 square-mile area with 1,000-1,500 Russian engineers, technicians, and military personnel working at the base.
Russia had closed the Lourdes spy base south of Havana on Putin’s orders to save money and due to a warming of relations with the U.S. after the September 11 attacks.
Whatever “warming” there was in US relations after 911 is officially ice cold again.
Over the weekend, we gave some background on House Oversight Committee Darrell Issa’s subpoena of White House Political Director David Simas. Simas heads up a department in the White House that mysteriously closed its doors days before being cited by Office of Special Council for campaigning using taxpayer money. Now, it has mysteriously re-opened…just in time for the November mid-term elections.
Issa wants answers as Simas’s entire job description is to use the taxpayer’s money for campaign purposes. But no. This, the most transparent White House in history, refuses to let Simas testify, citing “executive privilege.”
from the Hill:
White House political director David Simas will not appear before the House Oversight Committee to testify Wednesday, despite a subpoena from Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the White House said Tuesday.
In a letter to Issa on Tuesday, White House counsel Neil Eggleston said the California congressman had “made no effort to justify your extraordinary demand that one of the president’s immediate advisers testify at a committee hearing.”
In the letter, the White House argues Simas is “immune from congressional compulsion to testify on matters relating to his official duties” because doing so would threaten “longstanding interests of the Executive Branch in preserving the president’s independence and autonomy.”
In a statement issued Tuesday night, Issa said he would proceed with the hearing to find out whether “President Obama actually intends to assert executive privilege.”
The California Republican said a federal court had “already rejected” the notion senior presidential advisers were exempt from congressional subpoena. He pointed to a 2008 ruling in which a federal court ruled that Bush advisers Harriet Miers and Josh Bolton must obey congressional subpoenas.
“Flouting a federal judge’s opinion about our system of checks and balances is yet another attack on our Nation’s Constitution by this President,” Issa said.
“Assertions that this Administration’s taxpayer-funded political efforts should be above Congressional oversight are absurd,” he added.
If you’ve got nothing to hide, why not testify? Isn’t that what “transparency” is all about out?
Hamas doesn’t want the civilians in Gaza to get any Jew blood, even if it costs them their lives.
The Palestinian Authority on Tuesday rejected an Israeli offer to supply blood to Gaza, the Algemeiner reported.
The offer was made by Israel’s Magen David Adom (MDA) emergency services organization, the Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross.
Director Eli Bin said the organization had also offered to assist the Palestinians by facilitating blood drives involving Palestinian or Israeli Arab donors, but that offer too was rejected.
Bin described Israel’s attempt assist the Palestinian medical services as a humanitarian gesture. “I believe in it—this brings us respect as human beings,” he said.
Hamas has rejected the cease fire that Israel agreed to. They’ve told civilians not to evacuate in order to use them as human shields. Now, they’re rejecting Israel’s offer of medical aid.
Somebody in the mainstream media explain to me: how is Israel supposed to be the bad guy here?
I don’t care if it’s for “emergencies.” Giving the President back door access to every cell phone is an incredibly stupid and invasive idea.
from the giddy cheerleaders at NBC (emphasis mine):
Imagine your cell phone alerts you to a text message … and it’s from the president!
That may soon become a reality, if the Federal Communication Commission implements a plan proposed Tuesday to give the president the ability to communicate with the country in emergencies through phones and other emergency alert systems.
The proposal suggests shoring up a number of technological problems with the existing systems, typically used by local authorities in cases of extreme weather, so that the president or the Federal Emergency Management Agency can quickly and effectively communicate with the country. The proposal also seeks to expand the alert system to include wireless technology—like the cell phone you may be reading this on—so that you may indeed start receiving emergency messages from the president.
The public will have 30 days to respond to the proposal from the date of publication on the FCC website and in the Federal Register.
The “proposed changes are essential for the [Emergency Alert System] to function properly and thus share the common benefit of saving human lives, reducing injuries, mitigating property damage, and minimizing the disruption of our national economy,” the report notes.
The changes would cost $7 million and $13.6 million, but the FCC writes that “we believe that the significant public safety benefit of the rules we propose today far outweighs the costs associated with those rules.”
You can, right now, go on the FCC website and tell Obama to stay the heck away from your phone. It’s a giant waste of your money money as a taxpayer and it’s a service you absolutely do not need. Seriously, go leave a comment on the FCC’s website opposing the rule change.