Category Archives: Civil Liberties

Corbyn and Kelly: Two Very Different Responses to Terrorism, by Lucy Steigerwald

DHS chief John Kelly engages in some execrable fear mongering, and the UK’s Jeremy Corbyn steps out on a limb and links terrorism on British soil to British foreign policy. That won’t win him any friends, but the truth seldom wins friends for those who speak it. From Lucy Steigerwald at antiwar.com:

While he was a guest on Fox News’ Fox and Friends, Department of Homeland Security Chief John Kelly described the current safety of US citizens: “if [you] knew what I knew about terrorism, [you’d] never leave the house in the morning.” Anywhere, any time, a terrorist attack can happen, according to Kelly.

His very job exists because of the September 11 attacks. The DHS is a bizarre umbrella of federal law enforcement which is there to protect Americans from immigrants, copyright violations, and cyber attacks, and very occasionally terrorists.

It’s probably correct that Kelly knows a great deal more about reported threats and potential terrorists attacks than you or I. His concern may be sincere. Being bombarded with whispered terrorist plans all day probably makes you particularly pessimistic about their likelihood of success. On the other hand, it’s difficult not to see his comments in the most cynical light possible, even if he isn’t laughing into his sleeve as he says them. Kelly continued, noting that terrorism is “everywhere. It’s constant. It’s nonstop. The good news for us in America is we have amazing people protecting us every day. But it can happen here almost anytime.”

He’s correct that there are more decentralized strikes, making violence feel more possible in places outside of world centers such as New York City. In the years after September 11, savvy commenters argued that those attacks were a fluke. The subsequent successes in London and Madrid killed a few hundred people, and were also surprises. Mostly, the pre-ISIS days after 9/11 were chock full of terrorist attack failures via the shoe bomber or the Time Square bomber. Seemingly, the FBI was reduced to creating plots in order to stop them.

To continue reading: Corbyn and Kelly: Two Very Different Responses to Terrorism

 

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Deep Six the Deep State, by Justin Raimondo

The mainstream media is not interested in the depredations of the intelligence agencies because the agencies are the sources of some of the media’s best stories. From Justin Raimondo at antiwar.com (“Deep Six the Deep State” was a tag line SLL used to advertise Prime Deceit. Raimondo inexplicably gives SLL no credit for the title.):

Rogue “intelligence community” must be slapped down

You won’t read about this in what passes for the “mainstream” media, but newly declassified documents reveal that the Obama administration was violating its own rules and spying on Americans with such frequency that even the normally compliant FISA court scolded them:
“The National Security Agency under former President Barack Obama routinely violated American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts and failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall, according to once top-secret documents that chronicle some of the most serious constitutional abuses to date by the U.S. intelligence community.”

 

“More than 5 percent, or one out of every 20 searches seeking upstream Internet data on Americans inside the NSA’s so-called Section 702 database violated the safeguards Obama and his intelligence chiefs vowed to follow in 2011, according to one classified internal report reviewed by Circa.”

Was this covered by the New York Times, the “newspaper of record,” or the Washington Post, which has adopted the slogan “democracy dies in the dark”? Of course not. They’re too busy reporting on leaks of classified information from their Deep State sources, some of which is no doubt the product of this illegal spying.

I count less than half a dozen stories about this, all of them in conservative outlets like Fox News and Breitbart, The “liberal” media isn’t interested for the simple reason that they don’t want to interfere with the very process that provides them with so many “scoops.”

In 2011, the Obama administration loosened the rules whereby intelligence agencies could share information on US citizens – which we now know was illegally obtained and shared with other agencies by the National Security Agency. That same year, the FISA court enjoined the administration to put into practice minimization procedures that would protect the Fourth Amendment rights of Americans – but that didn’t happen. Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, in defending her unmasking of Mike Flynn’s conversations with Russian officials, said it was all perfectly legal — except it wasn’t. We’re now learning that, two weeks before election day, the FISA court rebuked the administration, saying:

“Since 2011, NSA’s minimization procedures have prohibited use of U.S.-person identifiers to query the results of upstream Internet collections under Section 702. The Oct. 26, 2016 notice informed the court that NSA analysts had been conducting such queries in violation of that prohibition, with much greater frequency than had been previously disclosed to the Court.”

To continue reading: Deep Six the Deep State

Declassified memos show FBI illegally shared spy data on Americans with private parties, by John Solomon and Sara Carter

More disclosures about illegal disclosures of data gleaned by the intelligence agencies and the FBI. From John Solomon and Sara Carter at circa.com:

The FBI has illegally shared raw intelligence about Americans with unauthorized third parties and violated other constitutional privacy protections, according to newly declassified government documents that undercut the bureau’s public assurances about how carefully it handles warrantless spy data to avoid abuses or leaks.

In his final congressional testimony before he was fired by President Trump this month, then-FBI Director James Comey unequivocally told lawmakers his agency used sensitive espionage data gathered about Americans without a warrant only when it was “lawfully collected, carefully overseen and checked.”

Once-top secret U.S. intelligence community memos reviewed by Circa tell a different story, citing instances of “disregard” for rules, inadequate training and “deficient” oversight and even one case of deliberately sharing spy data with a forbidden party.

For instance, a ruling declassified this month by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) chronicles nearly 10 pages listing hundreds of violations of the FBI’s privacy-protecting minimization rules that occurred on Comey’s watch.

The behavior the FBI admitted to a FISA judge just last month ranged from illegally sharing raw intelligence with unauthorized third parties to accessing intercepted attorney-client privileged communications without proper oversight the bureau promised was in place years ago.

The court also opined aloud that it fears the violations are more extensive than already disclosed.

“The Court is nonetheless concerned about the FBI’s apparent disregard of minimization rules and whether the FBI is engaging in similar disclosures of raw Section 702 information that have not been reported,” the April 2017 ruling declared.

The court isn’t the only oversight body to disclose recent concerns that the FBI’s voluntary system for policing its behavior and self-disclosing mistakes hasn’t been working.

The Justice Department inspector general’s office declassified a report in 2015 that reveals the internal watchdog had concerns as early as 2012 that the FBI was submitting ‘deficient” reports indicating it had a clean record complying with spy data gathered on Americans without a warrant.

Why Were the Saudi Streets So Quiet? by Medea Benjamin, by Medea Benjamin

President Trump didn’t have to contend with a single protestor on his recent trip to Saudi Arabia. From Medea Benjamin at antiwar.com:

With the world’s media focused on President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, it’s curious that the streets of Riyadh were so empty. Unlike most of Trump’s public appearances, there was not a protester in sight.

While Mexicans pour out on the streets to protest Trump’s anti-immigrant policies, bashing Trump piñatas and burning U.S. flags, there was nary a Saudi protester chanting “Trump: Go home.” In this very religious country, no one seemed interested in demonstrating opposition to Trump’s derogatory comments about Islam nor his attempts to impose a Muslim ban back home.

Saudi women could have used the occasion to push for their rights. They could have put out a national call saying that as soon as Trump began to speak, women should walk out of their homes with their heads uncovered and dressed as they pleased, just like Melania and Ivanka Trump. They could have raised their arms in the air, waving the petition thousands of them signed calling for an end to the guardianship system that gives men control over their lives. They could have taken to the road behind the wheels of their family cars, openly defying the retrograde Saudi ban on women driving. But alas, there was not a Saudi woman in sight.

“Thanks to US weapons makers and arms deals signed with successive US presidents, the Saudi rulers have more firepower than they could ever need to put down any form of dissent.”
Where was the Shia minority who make up 10 percent of the population and suffer ongoing repression? Why didn’t they come out to call for the freedom of political prisoners, like the three young men on death row who were arrested as juveniles for protesting? The Saudi military is presently occupying the Shia town of Awamiyah, shooting at civilians and terrifying the townspeople. Yet there was not even graffiti on the streets of Riyadh saying “Military Out of Awamiyah.”

 

Obama intel agency secretly conducted illegal searches on Americans for years, by John Solomon and Sara Carter

Big Brother Obama, supposed constitutional scholar, went above and beyond the call of duty in shredding Americans’ civil liberties. From John Solomon and Sara Carter at circa.com:

The National Security Agency under former President Barack Obama routinely violated American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts and failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall, according to once top-secret documents that chronicle some of the most serious constitutional abuses to date by the U.S. intelligence community.

The Obama administration self-disclosed the problems at a closed-door hearing Oct. 26 before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that set off alarm. Trump was elected less than two weeks later.

The normally supportive court censured administration officials, saying the failure to disclose the extent of the violations earlier amounted to an “institutional lack of candor” and that the improper searches constituted a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue,” according to a recently unsealed court document dated April 26, 2017.

The admitted violations undercut one of the primary defenses that the intelligence community and Obama officials have used in recent weeks to justify their snooping into incidental NSA intercepts about Americans.

Circa has reported that there was a three-fold increase in NSA data searches about Americans and a rise in the unmasking of U.S. person’s identities in intelligence reports after Obama loosened the privacy rules in 2011.

Officials like former National Security Adviser Susan Rice have argued their activities were legal under the so-called minimization rule changes Obama made, and that the intelligence agencies were strictly monitored to avoid abuses.

To continue reading (and to read the FISA court opinion): Obama intel agency secretly conducted illegal searches on Americans for years

 

The Republic Has Fallen: The Deep State’s Plot to Take Over America Has Succeeded, by John W. Whitehead

The swamp will not be drained anytime in the near future. From John W. Whitehead at rutherford.org:

No doubt about it.

The coup d’etat has been successful.

The Deep State—a.k.a. the police state a.k.a. the military industrial complex—has taken over.

The American system of representative government has been overthrown by a profit-driven, militaristic corporate state bent on total control and global domination through the imposition of martial law here at home and by fomenting wars abroad.

When in doubt, follow the money trail.

It always points the way.

Every successive president starting with Franklin D. Roosevelt has been bought—lock, stock and barrel—and made to dance to the tune of the Deep State.

Enter Donald Trump, the candidate who swore to drain the swamp in Washington DC.

Instead of putting an end to the corruption, however, Trump has paved the way for lobbyists, corporations, the military industrial complex, and the Deep State to feast on the carcass of the dying American republic.

Just recently, for instance, Trump agreed to sell Saudi Arabia more than $110 billion in military weapons.

Meanwhile, Trump—purportedly in an effort to balance the budget in 10 years—wants to slash government funding for programs for the poor, ranging from health care and food stamps to student loans and disability payments.

The military doesn’t have to worry about tightening its belt, however. No, the military’s budget—with its trillion dollar wars, its $125 billion in administrative waste, and its contractor-driven price gouging that hits the American taxpayer where it hurts the most—will continue to grow, thanks to Trump.

This is how you keep the Deep State in power.

The rich will get richer, the poor will get poorer, the military will get more militaristic, America’s endless wars will get more endless, and the prospect of peace will grow ever dimmer.

As for the terrorists, they will keep on being played for pawns as long as Saudi Arabia remains their breeding ground and America remains the source of their weapons, training and know-how.

Follow the money.  It always points the way.

To continue reading: The Republic Has Fallen: The Deep State’s Plot to Take Over America Has Succeeded

Why the Left Refuses to Talk About Venezuela, by Ryan McMaken

If you ask leftists and socialists about socialist states like the USSR, North Korea, Cuba, or Venezuela, you invariably get a “That’s not what I mean,” and then a description of a socialist utopia not found on this planet. Frm Ryan McMaken at mises.org:

During the 2016 presidential election, Bernie Sanders refused to answer questions about Venezuela during an interview with Univision. He claimed to not want to talk about it because he’s “focused on my campaign.” Many suggested a more plausible reason: Venezuela’s present economy is an example of what happens when a state implements Bernie Sanders-style social democracy. 

Similarly, Pope Francis — who has taken the time to denounce pro-market ideologies for allegedly driving millions into poverty — seems uninterested in talking about the untrammeled impoverishment of Venezuela in recent years. Samuel Gregg writes in yesterday’s Catholic World Report:

Pope Francis isn’t known as someone who holds back in the face of what he regards as gross injustices. On issues like refugees, immigration, poverty and the environment, Francis speaks forcibly and uses vivid language in doing so.

Yet despite the daily violence being inflicted on protestors in Venezuela, a steadily increasing death-toll, an explosion of crime, rampant corruption, galloping inflation, the naked politicization of the judiciary, and the disappearance of basic food and medical supplies, the first Latin American pope’s comments about the crisis tearing apart an overwhelming Catholic Latin American country have been curiously restrained.

This virtual silence comes in spite of the fact that the Catholic bishops who actually live in Venezuela have denounced the regime as yet another illustration of the “utter failure” of “socialism in every country in which this regime has been installed.”

Thus, for many Venezuelans, the question is: “Where is Pope Francis?”

As with Sanders, it may very well be that Francis has nothing to say about Venezuela precisely because the Venezuelan regime has pursued exactly the sorts of policies favored by Bernie Sanders, Pope Francis, and the usual opponents of market economics.

It’s an economic program marked by price controls, government expropriation of private property, an enormous welfare state, central planning, and endless rhetoric about equality, poverty relief, and fighting the so-called “neoliberals.”

To continue reading: Why the Left Refuses to Talk About Venezuela