Category Archives: Indefinite Surveillance
October 12, 2014 By Jeff Foxworthy
If you can get arrested for hunting or fishing without a license, but not for entering and remaining in the country illegally — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If you have to get your parents’ permission to go on a field trip or to take an aspirin in school, but not to get an abortion — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If you MUST show your identification to board an airplane, cash a check, buy liquor, or check out a library book and rent a video, but not to vote for who runs the government — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If the government wants to prevent stable, law-abiding citizens from owning gun magazines that hold more than ten rounds, but gives twenty F-16 fighter jets to the crazy new leaders in Egypt — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If, in the nation’s largest city, you can buy two 16-ounce sodas, but not one 24-ounce soda, because 24-ounces of a sugary drink might make you fat — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If an 80-year-old woman or a three-year-old girl who is confined to a wheelchair can be strip-searched by the TSA at the airport, but a woman in a burka or a hijab is only subject to having her neck and head searched — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If your government believes that the best way to eradicate trillions of dollars of debt is to spend trillions more — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If a seven-year-old boy can be thrown out of school for saying his teacher is “cute,” but hosting a sexual exploration or diversity class in grade school is perfectly acceptable — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If hard work and success are met with higher taxes and more government regulation and intrusion, while not working is rewarded with Food Stamps, WIC checks, Medicaid benefits, subsidized housing, and free cell phones — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If the government’s plan for getting people back to work is to provide incentives for not working, by granting 99 weeks of unemployment checks, without any requirement to prove that gainful employment was diligently sought, but couldn’t be found — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If you pay your mortgage faithfully, denying yourself the newest big-screen TV, while your neighbor buys iPhones, time shares, a wall-sized do-it-all plasma screen TV and new cars, and the government forgives his debt when he defaults on his mortgage — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If being stripped of your Constitutional right to defend yourself makes you more “safe” according to the government — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
What a country!
August 3, 2014 By Cultural Limits
The Secret Service would probably ruin a good time
One afternoon last week, another member of the Limits household and I played hooky and floated a pretty flat five-mile stretch of a river no one outside of Missouri has ever heard of. At one point, as we passed a fairly organized campground, the smell of a wood fire wafted over the river along with eau de old and moldy canvas tent. With that, nostalgia set in. When we were growing up, those were the smells of summer vacation.
Martha’s Vineyard was just out of Mom and Dad’s price range.
To be honest, in this part of the country, from Friday to Sunday (mostly Saturday, but there has to be some travel time) during June, July and the first two weeks of August, every quiet, still. picturesque river teaming with turtles, snakes, trout, tadpoles and the occasional black tailed deer becomes a bank to bank party zone. The working stiffs get out of the city, lose the cell phones and kick back for a couple days. SUVs and pick-ups are traded for canoes, inner tubes and rafts (not necessarily in that order). Every tree hanging over a remotely deep part of the river becomes an opportunity for a swing rope. (Thoughtful floaters have left many in the trees for those who follow, too.) Cliffs over five feet are for jumping – if you dare. Hermetically sealed air-conditioned houses are left behind for all the nylon tents and air mattresses Coleman sells. (Actually saw somebody use a window unit run off a generator to cool off a tent once.) Natural waterways are polluted with sunscreen, among other fluids. And many adult beverages are consumed.
Out here in this part of flyover country, this is standard summer unwinding procedure. In other states, there are methods of R & R in the great outdoors that are more of the hiking and cycling variety. It’s not for everybody, but, hey, neither is lobster and cosmos. To each his or her own.
Working people everywhere need a chance to shut down for so many reasons. Take a break from all the stress, the angst, the constant bombardment of information, etc. We all do. Rest is essential for not just health, but effectiveness. That is why in United States we call time away to recharge “vacation” as in “vacate” or leave.
The problem we are having this August in the United States is that our vaunted government – at least the top of the food chain – is bound to the beach, vineyards, lakes, and spas without having really done any work.
Somehow, we all doubt that they are headed to the party zones for less than the cost of one of Nancy Pelosi’s broomsticks to spend an afternoon doing jello shots in their bikinis and cut-offs.
But that did start me thinking:
- What would San Fran Nan look like wearing one of those old-fashioned orange life jackets that are basically nylon over squared off foam three inches thick with a hole for the head? And does she have earrings to match in her collection?
- Does Chuck Schumer know what to do with a canoe paddle or would he bring a driver from the New York State motor pool to steer?
- Once Dingy Harry got a bath in the river and settled in his inner tube, would he get stuck there? And would he remember to bring a lanyard for his glasses?
- Would any of them drink Busch Light from a can and then actually put the can in the trash bags provided by the canoe rental companies? Conservation, recycling and all that jazz since no glass is allowed on the rivers.
- How about drinking wine from a box? There’s a Chardonnay that’s actually not bad, but somehow it’s doubtful that after refining an international palate, Inside the Beltway types would appreciate the finish. Especially when river water mingles with it.
- Joe Biden, please keep your swim trunks on. One should not skinny dip in the rivers. Scares the fish.
- Michelle in a bikini… [shudder] or eating s’mores with marshmallows roasted over an improvised beach fire…she probably wouldn’t even be able to fathom packing lunch in a cooler.
- And, of course, there’s Sheila Jackson Lee, Eleanor Holmes Norton, and Maxine Waters. They’d be forced to talk to each other which would echo off of every flat surface for miles and they might get their hair wet or break a nail…on second thought, leave them behind. After all, their shoes would definitely get wet and that might start a riot.
Was that racist?
Now that it’s August and the city here has pretty much emptied out, as it always does for the first two weeks of August (seriously, no meetings happen because there’s so many people vacating), and Congress has decided to recess with all sorts of national and international fires that need tending (not that Congress can do much about it by themselves), how’s about Obama and the gang come out here to flyover country and find out how we bourgeoisie vacate in a hurry. No oysters, caviar or Dom, but we can offer fresh fruits and veggies, summer sausage, brats, hot dogs, hamburgers and cereal. Anything more than that is a little fancy for the camp-site. (Okay, if one brings along a sterno or camp stove, eggs and bacon for breakfast can happen.)
Think we’d get any takers?
Yeah, me neither.
Note to the White House: Vacations are possible without involving the swanky shores of Martha’s Vineyard. At least the Reagans and Bushes vacayed at their own property and the Clintons used the Presidential Retreat House on St. John in the USVIs that’s already secure. They didn’t inconvenience regular people and they were able to unwind just fine.
05/29/2014 by Tyler Durden
While the “use of armed [unmanned aircraft systems] is not authorized,” The Washington Times uncovering of a 2010 Pentagon directive on military support to civilian authorities details what critics say is a troubling policy that envisions the Obama administration’s potential use of military force against Americans. As one defense official proclaimed, “this appears to be the latest step in the administration’s decision to use force within the United States against its citizens.” Meet Directive 3025.18 and all its “quelling civil disturbances” totalitarianism…
Directive No. 3025.18, “Defense Support of Civil Authorities,” was issued Dec. 29, 2010, and states that U.S. commanders “are provided emergency authority under this directive.”
“Federal military forces shall not be used to quell civil disturbances unless specifically authorized by the president in accordance with applicable law or permitted under emergency authority,” the directive states.
“In these circumstances, those federal military commanders have the authority, in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the president is impossible and duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation, to engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances” under two conditions.
The conditions include military support needed “to prevent significant loss of life or wanton destruction of property and are necessary to restore governmental function and public order.” A second use is when federal, state and local authorities “are unable or decline to provide adequate protection for federal property or federal governmental functions.”
A U.S. official said the Obama administration considered but rejected deploying military force under the directive during the recent standoff with Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his armed supporters.
“Federal action, including the use of federal military forces, is authorized when necessary to protect the federal property or functions,” the directive states.
Military assistance can include loans of arms, ammunition, vessels and aircraft. The directive states clearly that it is for engaging civilians during times of unrest.
There is one silver lining (for now)…
“Use of armed [unmanned aircraft systems] is not authorized,” the directive says.
And the full Directive is below…
As new information surfaces about last year’s attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and as the National Security Agency scandal continues to swirl throughout the media, the Obama administration has come out with a worldwide warning about the possibility of serious terrorist attacks.
Please forgive my skepticism. The news media need to dig into the timing and motivation of these warnings, coming as they do against the backdrop of scandals, particularly when the administration has created what it thinks is a win-win situation. Simply put, if the attacks fail to occur, President Obama’s team can claim that they thwarted them. If the attacks do occur, the administration can say it provided fair warning. But that’s a fool’s bargain when dealing with terrorists who can simply strike another day.
In an hour-long broadcast Tuesday, “The Truth About Benghazi,” CNN reported that dozens of CIA operatives were on the ground in Benghazi on Sept. 11 — something the agency has apparently tried to cover up. That’s the night Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed.
Such information brings the Benghazi issue — one the administration thought had lost significant traction — back into public view. If the CIA had people on the ground, why were Stevens and the three others essentially left to die?
The Department of Justice filed a sealed indictment against a Libyan militia leader on the same day CNN broadcast its report on the Benghazi attack. Amazing coincidence? Please forgive my skepticism again.
By promoting its efficiency in picking up the chatter about possible terrorist attacks, the intelligence community may believe it can quiet critics outraged by the revelations of the NSA’s widespread domestic surveillance programs — information leaked by onetime NSA contractor Edward Snowden to Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian.
Once again, pardon my skepticism. The NSA scandal is unlikely to die down anytime soon, despite the terrorist threat taking over the news for this week. And think about it for a moment. Do you honestly believe that the leader of al Qaeda communicates with his right-hand man in Yemen without considering how many other sets of ears may be listening? I strongly doubt it.
Now is the time for reporters to look to their confidential sources about the nature of the terrorist threats. One problem exists — one you might have missed last week. The Justice Department won a key victory in the U.S. Court of Appeals to force a reporter for The New York Times to reveal his confidential sources about information he published in a book on the Iranian nuclear program. That decision creates a significant chill among sources who might want to talk about severity of the current threat.
I spent a decade reporting about Middle East terrorism for Newsweek and ABC News. Terrorists typically have several objectives. One is to inflict death and destruction. Another is to create fear among the civilian population of a stronger adversary, such as the United States, and its allies.
By closing 22 embassies and consulates throughout the Middle East and North Africa and keeping 19 of them shut for the rest of the week, the Obama administration has already given the terrorists a major public relations victory.
Remember during the campaign when Mr. Obama constantly said al Qaeda was on the run? Maybe he wanted to use intelligence information back then to get re-elected. Now maybe he and his administration want intelligence information to provide cover for a variety of scandals. The dots really don’t need to be connected; the connections are all too obvious.
• Christopher Harper is a professor at Temple University. He worked for more than 20 years at the Associated Press, Newsweek, ABC News and “20/20.” He can be contacted at email@example.com. Twitter: @charper51.
By ERIC LICHTBLAU
WASHINGTON — In more than a dozen classified rulings, the nation’s surveillance court has created a secret body of law giving the National Security Agency the power to amass vast collections of data on Americans while pursuing not only terrorism suspects, but also people possibly involved in nuclear proliferation, espionage and cyber attacks, officials say.
The rulings, some nearly 100 pages long, reveal that the court has taken on a much more expansive role by regularly assessing broad constitutional questions and establishing important judicial precedents, with almost no public scrutiny, according to current and former officials familiar with the court’s classified decisions.
The 11-member Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, known as the FISA court, was once mostly focused on approving case-by-case wiretapping orders. But since major changes in legislation and greater judicial oversight of intelligence operations were instituted six years ago, it has quietly become almost a parallel Supreme Court, serving as the ultimate arbiter on surveillance issues and delivering opinions that will most likely shape intelligence practices for years to come, the officials said.
Last month, a former National Security Agency contractor, Edward J. Snowden, leaked a classified order from the FISA court, which authorized the collection of all phone-tracing data from Verizon business customers. But the court’s still-secret decisions go far beyond any single surveillance order, the officials said.
“We’ve seen a growing body of law from the court,” a former intelligence official said. “What you have is a common law that develops where the court is issuing orders involving particular types of surveillance, particular types of targets.”
In one of the court’s most important decisions, the judges have expanded the use in terrorism cases of a legal principle known as the “special needs” doctrine and carved out an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s requirement of a warrant for searches and seizures, the officials said.
The special needs doctrine was originally established in 1989 by the Supreme Court in a ruling allowing the drug testing of railway workers, finding that a minimal intrusion on privacy was justified by the government’s need to combat an overriding public danger. Applying that concept more broadly, the FISA judges have ruled that the N.S.A.’s collection and examination of Americans’ communications data to track possible terrorists does not run afoul of the Fourth Amendment, the officials said.
That legal interpretation is significant, several outside legal experts said, because it uses a relatively narrow area of the law — used to justify airport screenings, for instance, or drunken-driving checkpoints — and applies it much more broadly, in secret, to the wholesale collection of communications in pursuit of terrorism suspects. “It seems like a legal stretch,” William C. Banks, a national security law expert at Syracuse University, said in response to a description of the decision. “It’s another way of tilting the scales toward the government in its access to all this data.”
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