Thursday, December 19, 2013

Obama’s own panel rips NSA spying on phone calls of Americans

Committee’s recommendation a blow to White House spy defense

** FILE ** An anti-spying protest takes place in the nation's capital on Oct. 26, 2013. (Jose Luis Magana / AP)President Obama’s internal review panel has accused the government of abusing the Patriot Act and said many of the intelligence community’s key tools should be reined in, including the NSA’s phone-snooping program and the FBI’s use of national security letters to demand secret information from private businesses, according to the stunning report released Wednesday.

The panel told Mr. Obama to scrap the National Security Agency’s phone-records collection program, saying it’s an infringement of privacy, and said the government instead should ask phone companies to store the records. The NSA would be able to ask for the records only when it deems national security is at stake.“As a general rule and without senior policy review, the government should not be permitted to collect and store mass, undigested, non-public personal information about U.S. persons for the purpose of enabling future queries and data-mining for foreign intelligence purposes,” the panel said.

The recommendation is a major blow to Mr. Obama, who has fought to preserve the phone-snooping program in the face of stiff criticism from privacy advocates and from conservatives and liberals on Capitol Hill.

The report goes much further, saying the government needs to rein in the secret court that oversees intelligence operations and needs to restrict the FBI’s use of national security letters.

It also called for far more information to be provided to make Congress and the public aware of government activities.

The report was released two days after a federal judge in Washington concluded that the phone-records program likely violates the Fourth Amendment.

The NSA said the Patriot Act gives it permission to collect records of nearly every phone call made in the U.S., including the numbers involved and the time and duration of the calls. The NSA says it does not store the contents of the conversations.

The White House said Mr. Obama is reviewing the report and will make decisions by early next year about the NSA program, but the panel’s conclusions are setbacks to him and to members of Congress who argue that the snooping is constitutional and necessary for national security.

Opponents of the snooping said the panel’s conclusions show a growing consensus that the government has overreached.

“The message to the NSA is now coming from every branch of government and from every corner of our nation: You have gone too far,” said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat and chairman of the SenateJudiciary Committee.

The report is the latest fallout after former government contractor Edward Snowden leaked details of the NSA’s phone-snooping and other U.S. intelligence programs this year, igniting a fierce debate on the extent of government intrusion and the security trade-offs.

After the revelations, Mr. Obama said he wanted to have a more public conversation to put the programs on firm legal and political footing. He formed his five-member internal review panel as part of that.

Panelists submitted their report to the White House late last week, but it was made public Wednesday after officials said they felt the need to counteract what they said was inaccurate reporting on the recommendations.

Mr. Obama met with the review board Wednesday morning, ahead of the report’s release. Afterward, the White House said Mr. Obama was still reviewing the report and getting input.

“This is a fairly broad assessment that’s being done. And the president will take his time because it is absolutely necessary to do that in his review. And come January, he’ll have concluded that work and make a presentation on it,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney.

The panel’s 46 recommendations amount to a wholesale rejection of the direction the intelligence community has gone since the war on terrorism began.

In one recommendation, the panel said the NSA director should require confirmation by the Senate and that the position — which is a military post — be open to civilians. The panel said the next director probably should be a civilian.

Under the Patriot Act, the federal government and the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court are able to order businesses to turn over private information.

The panel said that power should be constrained to narrow circumstances in a specific, authorized investigation — not a broad fishing expedition.

Panelists also recommended changes that could cut down on leaks like Mr. Snowden’s — including a scoring system that would determine how much access personnel have to sensitive information

Even as it was being criticized by Mr. Obama’s panel, the intelligence community was reveling in another distinction: For the fifth straight year, it was named one of the five best places to work in the federal government, based on employee satisfaction.

John Cooke holds two 30-round magazines in his hands. In one hand is a 30-round magazine purchased before July 1st, when Colorado’s new gun laws took effect and banned purchases of magazines larger than 15-rounds. In his other hand is a 30-round magazine that “maybe” (Cooke is not getting into specifics) was purchased after the deadline. Two magazines, virtually identical in every aspect, except one is legal and the other is not. Cooke, who serves as Sheriff of Colorado’s Weld County, says that’s exactly his point. His deputies cannot enforce the law if the law is so vague as to make it practically impossible to distinguish what’s legal from what is illegal. Therefore, Cooke, along with all but seven of Colorado’s 62 elected Sheriffs, are suing to block the law.

Last Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. In the year since a lone deranged individual took the lives of 20 children and six adults, more than 1,500 gun bills have been considered by state legislatures across the country. According to USA Today, 109 of these measures became law; adding to President Obama’s recent 23 Executive actions related to control of firearms. Yet, to the dismay of Democrats, many of the laws are having the opposite effect.

Citizens are rebelling, and Democrats are losing their jobs.

In Colorado, for example, two elected Democrats already have been recalled as a direct result of their support of the new gun ban; and a third has resigned to avoid recall. The recall votes were successful despite gun control organizations (including one run by outgoing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg) outspending Second Amendment activists seven-to-one. Even tens of millions of dollars was not enough to save Democrats from pro-gun constituents infuriated with the unconstitutional measures.

Even when not successful, recall elections are sending a loud message. In Exeter, Rhode Island, four of the five town council members nearly faced a similar fate last week as the town decided whether to recall the officials for anti-Second Amendment votes.

The gun industry is fighting back against anti-gun laws, as well. Earlier this year, I wrote about how gun manufactures were taking stands against new gun laws in their home states. Olympic Arms, for example, refused to sell recently-banned items to police and government officials, so long as private citizens were prohibited from possessing the same items. Other companies have moved their business operations to more gun-friendly states. PTR Industries left Connecticut for South Carolina, taking 40 jobs with it. “They are not feeling loved right now in Connecticut,” South Carolina State Representative Alan Clemmons, who helped bring PTR to the Carolinas, told the New York Times; adding, “we’re delighted to have them.”

Dozens of other gun manufacturers are considering similar moves, enticed by offers from pro-gun governors -- largely from southern states -- who welcome the added jobs and revenues. According to the NRA, Connecticut-based Stag Arms CEO Mark Malkowski said he had “about one hundred offers” to relocate to a new state.

Congressional Democrats are using their state colleagues as the canary in the coalmine for gun legislation, and the results are not positive for them. This is perhaps why, following last week’s school shooting at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colorado that was miraculously limited in its scope, Democrats have remained largely silent. This differs from previous shooting tragedies after which gun control advocates began sending fundraising emails even before the crime scenes were fully secure.

The Arapahoe shooter took his own life within two minutes of starting his rampage, and after being cornered by an armed guard placed at the school -- a safety measure proposed by the NRA following the Newtown shooting. Even though the proposal for having trained and armed personnel at schools was loudly derided by the Left, having an armed guard at the school in Arapahoe saved lives.

Citizens and legislators at all levels of government, in conjunction with firearms retailers and manufacturers, are fighting back as never before against the relentless push by gun control advocates to infringe our constitutionally-protected right to keep and bear arms. This is good news for all Americans, whether they be gun owners or not. Standing up for the Bill of Rights is never wrong.
Liberal journalists were glowing and full of hope after President Barack Obama won a second term. As 2012 drew to a close, there was the traditional hour of ABC's Barbara Walters fawning: "Mr. President, Mrs. Obama. There is a photograph of you (hugging) that went viral, became the most shared photograph in the history of Twitter. How do you keep the fire going?" 

As the second inauguration neared, Newsweek put out a cover image even though it had stopped printing magazines. Over a picture of Obama, it read: "The Second Coming. America Expects. Can He Deliver?" He laid an egg.

These are two winners in the annual Best of Notable Quotables vote held by the Media Research Center. Forty-two conservative opinion leaders -- I was one -- and journalists picked these winners in the "Let Us Fluff Your Pillow Award for Obsequious Obama Interviews" and the "Obamagasm Award."

The outrages are endless. Some examples:

Newsweek editor Tina Brown wasn't stingy in boasting of the "magnificence" of liberals. She won "The Pantsuit Patrol Award for Boosting Hillary Clinton" for dismissing every concern about the Benghazi fiasco. Forget the embassy security failures, Clinton was "Her Magnificence" as she retired from government service (for now).

"The idea of losing Hillary has seemed especially unbearable at this political moment. It's as if she has become, literally, the ship of state. She stands for maturity, tenacity, and self-discipline at a time when everyone else in Washington seems to be, in more senses than one, going off a cliff -- a parade of bickering, blustering, small-balled hacks bollixing up the nation's business," Brown wrote. "What a disgrace that John Bolton and his goaty Republican ilk accused Her Magnificence of inventing a concussion to get out of testifying at the Benghazi hearings. Bolton is not fit to wipe her floor with his mustache."

The media briefly consented to a few weeks of news coverage of Obama scandals in May, but even with Benghazi, the flagrant politicization of the IRS, the domestic spying of the National Security Agency and the Justice Department cracking down on journalists, pundits put blinders on and pledged to see nothing. The "Move Along, Nothing to See Here Award" was won by Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus and CNN analyst David Gergen, both of whom agreed on NPR's "Diane Rehm Show" that Obama somehow ran "a really relatively scandal-free administration, first term and second term."

This utterance of ignorance came in November, after the completely botched rollout of Healthcare.gov, which became the most damaging scandal of Obama's presidency, combining the president's dishonesty and his incompetence. MSNBC host Ed Schultz made a complete fool of himself and won the "Obamacare Orderlies Award" for promising this Internet black hole was going to be tremendous, amazing and fantastic.

"This is the website, folks, HealthCare.gov," he crowed on the night before the disaster began. "If you go to this website, you will find out how easy it is to read, how easy it is to navigate all the information, all the basic questions and all the direction you need to take to get involved, to get health care. This is a great guide, if I may say, for any of you out there who feel so confused by all of these right-wing commercials that are just permeating through your television screen."

Schultz not only lacked reading comprehension but also flunked mathematics. Schultz took another "prize" in the "Let Them Eat Dog Food Award for Freaking Out Over the Sequester's Puny Cuts."

This brain cramp was unleashed on his radio show in February: "Now you've got a budget of three and a half trillion dollars in this fiscal year. This will take $85 billion out of it. That's damn near a third." A junior high math teacher would tell Big Eddie that $85 billion is only about 2.4 percent of $3.5 trillion.

The statist media despised sequestration in February and hated the shutdown in October. Politico columnist Roger Simon won the "Kamikaze Award for Disparaging Conservatives During the Shutdown" with this snide riddle: "Question: If Ted Cruz and John Boehner were both on a sinking ship, who would be saved? Answer: America."

There was an obvious "Quote of the Year" for 2013: the one that removed Martin Bashir from MSNBC. On Nov. 15, he carefully laid out the diary of one Thomas Thistlewood, who punished slaves by having someone urinate and defecate in their mouths. Bashir concluded that "if anyone truly qualified for a dose of discipline from Thomas Thistlewood, then she (Sarah Palin)would be the outstanding candidate."

For this, Bashir was out standing -- on the street corner looking for a new job. Maybe there's a slot at the Washington, D.C. Water and Sewer Authority. He'd feel right at home.

John Boehner Must Go; Here’s Why
Hello, I’m Wayne Allyn Root for Personal Liberty. John Boehner is the Speaker of the House of the United States of America and the leader of one of America’s two major political parties. Is he the best and brightest we have to offer? Are you kidding me?

No wonder the GOP Congress loses at every turn to Barack Obama. We are led by a fool. Boehner is the worst negotiator I’ve ever seen. He fights with a white flag. Total surrender. He fights like a man preordained to lose, his every move dominated by fear and an inferiority complex. This is our “leader?”

Or is it all just a big choreographed game, like professional wrestling? Are Obama and Boehner actually on the same team, fighting for the same goal: big government? Do they only put on a show from time to time to keep everyone fooled into thinking there are really two different political parties to choose from?

Or perhaps Obama is using the National Security Agency and the Internal Revenue Service to blackmail GOP politicians? Perhaps Obama has photos of Boehner in bed with the wrong person.

Because the way Boehner fights these battles is so embarrassing, I’d have more respect for him if he were being blackmailed. That would explain his pathetic strategy, loser mentality and nonstop surrenders.

But now Boehner has gone and done the unthinkable. This time he’s done something so stupid, it tops everything that came before. Boehner just picked a fight with the Tea Party. He just attacked his own political base. His best customers. His true-blue conservative army. That’s touching the third rail of politics. That’s a fatal mistake. That’s called “career suicide.” Going to war with your own base is unforgivable.

I learned from the best. My grandfather came to America in the early 1900s with nothing. Zero. Just a dream. He worked for 20 years as a butcher until he saved up enough money to open his own butcher store. That small store became a huge success for more than 40 years. My grandfather became a relatively wealthy man (for a small businessman with a tiny store) and a respected business leader in his community… and, of course, a huge fiscal conservative.

Later in life, I asked him what was the key to his remarkable success, going from penniless foreigner to self-made millionaire with only a small butcher store. He told me it was always about the customer. He said, “There are 2 rules in business, my grandson. Rule No. 1 is: The customer is always right. Rule No. 2 is: If the customer is wrong, refer back to Rule No. 1.”

That’s it. Always protect your base. Treat your base — your most loyal customers, your true believers — as kings. And if they are wrong, treat them as if they are right. Why? Because without your best customers, you are out of business. You are up a creek without a paddle. Your success, riches and power derive from that base. Your job, above all others, is to nourish and protect that base.

Forget all the bad negotiating; Boehner has now violated the most important rule in business or politics. As pathetic as he is at negotiating, he was always forgiven. But this last act of madness cannot be forgiven. He has bitten the hand that feeds him. He turned on, attacked and denigrated the true-blue heroes of the Republican Party. He attacked the people who keep the GOP in business.

Without the true-blue conservatives, you don’t have a business — or, in this case, a political party.

You have nothing. Without our support, our energy, our enthusiasm, our hard work in the trenches and our donations, you have nothing. The GOP — like any business or political party — ceases to exist without its best customers.

Boehner lost sight of the rules of battle. A business is in business only because of its best customers.

Take them away, and the richest business owner is the owner of nothing. Just as an army exists only because of its soldiers; demoralize them, and they become a defeated army. The greatest general is left with nothing. In Japan, that general would commit hari-kari. In America, his life is spared; but he is relieved of command and retired.

A political party is a political party only because of its base. Without its most loyal supporters and true believers, it is extinct. And the leader of that baseless, rudderless party — no matter how powerful, no matter how delusional — is a leader of nothing.

Boehner chose to attack that base. And for that sin, Boehner can never be forgiven. For the sake of the GOP and the future of America, Boehner must go.

Iran slams White House "breach" of nuke deal, says "U.S. obeys radical Zionist lobbies"

From Jihad Watch / Posted by Robert Spencer


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
He knows who is in the driver's seat
Clearly they don't know their Obama. "Iran Slams White House ‘Breach’ of Nuke Deal," by Adam Kredo for the Washington Free Beacon, December 18:
Senior Iranian officials lashed out at the Obama administration on Wednesday for what they called its “breach” of a recently signed nuclear accord, accusing the White House of taking its cue from “radical Zionist lobbies”—a position that Iran claims European negotiators agree with. 
The rhetoric comes as nuclear talks between Tehran and the West broke down after the United States announced greater sanctions on Iran.
The Iranian government’s confrontation with the administration was accompanied by multiple military announcements, including the claim from a top military official that “Iran is the fifth missile power in the world.”
After the Iranians broke off talks late last week, U.S. officials admitted they are “very skeptical” that Tehran will agree to a final nuclear deal despite a plan to get the parties back to the bargaining table.
The Iranians responded this week by accusing the White House of breaching the interim accord, which is meant to temporarily halt portions of Iran’s contested uranium enrichment program.
“During the two days of my meetings with European delegations, they criticized the U.S. for its breach of the Geneva agreement and said that the U.S. obeys radical Zionist lobbies and individuals who have exerted pressure on that country,” Hashemi Rafsanjani, the chairman of Iran’s Expediency Council, was quoted as saying on Tuesday by Iran’s state-run media.
Op-ed: 
Dishonoring our military yet again 
By: Diane Sori

How far we have fallen when the only solution to Obama's out of control spending is to put the burden upon the backs of those who risk their lives every day to keep us safe and free at home.

The last time Congress adopted a budget was in 2009, but last week in step one, the Republican controlled House passed the Ryan/Murray Bi-Partisan Budget Bill NOT because it was a good bill...in fact it barely puts a dent in the deficits predicted to lessen in the short term but grow much larger in the long term...but because they feared yet another government shutdown and its negative ramifications as we head into the 2014 mid-term election year. And it's so sad that everything the House now does is done out of fear instead of doing what's right, and it's usually 'We the People' who end up on the losing end when all is said and done.

Now however, our troops, our veterans, and those coming home severely wounded due to the horrors of war...especially those wounded in the time since Barack HUSSEIN Obama gave the enemy our timetable for withdrawal...are the ones being hurt...are the ones who have been told they must now carry that added burden on their already hurting backs for quite simply, this budget cuts military pensions and benefits instead of cutting discretionary spending and most importantly, cutting the existing welfare benefits for ILLEGAL aliens.

And to that I say, 'shame on Paul Ryan and Patty Murray' for this is their bill with their names on it and they knowingly allowed this to happen... knowingly allowed our commitment and our sacred trust to our wounded warriors and those who valiantly served to be negated in favor of those who have NO right being here in the first place...relegating those who defended our country to second place below the people who entered our country ILLEGALLY.

NOT even come close to addressing the tax welfare loophole granted ILLEGALS who file tax forms, this bill instead cuts retirement benefits for military retirees by $6 billion over 10 years...and this is beyond merely wrong...it is downright criminal for these ILLEGALS are indeed criminals just by the very nature of their being in our country in violation of our laws, yet they are the ones being given free rein to bilk both our welfare and health care systems and will be allowed to continue to do so. They get a pass...another free ride...while this bill strips away certain monetary benefits rightly afforded to our returning troops, disabled veterans, and military retirees.

Being eligible to retire after 20 years at half pay, those in our military who thought they were exempt from the cuts to military retiree pay now must realize that they are NOT. And these cuts, when all is said and done, will add up to about a loss of $124,000 in benefits over a 20-year period as those affected will lose a full percentage point from their cost-of-living raises when they retire after said minimum of 20 years of service.

In fact, when Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala) wanted to add an amendment to do away with this provision it was voted down...voted down even for discussion. Sessions wanted to eliminate an estimated $4.2 billion in annual spending by reining in that very IRS credit that the illegal immigrants have claimed.

And so ILLEGALS, civilian and government employees all get spared from any cuts with this budget bill yet those who served our county get as they say...screwed. This bill affords NO cuts to Congressional pensions, benefits, or salaries, and NO cuts to the salaries and benefits of their staff, yet those coming home NOT whole...our country's true heroes...and those retiring who might need continuing services are the very ones that each and every member of both the House and Senate who voted for this abomination just turned their backs on. And they should all hang their heads in shame for how dare they dishonor those who fought for them...those who bled for them...and those who gave their lives for them and for our flag for when our vets are shamed those who made the ultimate sacrifice are shamed right along with them.

How dare they...

And Patty Murray (D-Wa), the co-originator of this bill, had the audacity to pass the buck for the military cuts being made...blaming everybody but herself...as she said when asked by Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss) why the military is being targeted to bear the brunt of the cuts, "I would suggest the senator ask that question to Chairman Ryan."  And even worse than Murray's arrogance, Paul Ryan's staff issued a statement defending the cut saying pensions to middle-aged military retirees are "an exceptionally generous benefit, often providing 40 years of pension payment in return for 20 years of service" and noted that "most begin a second career after leaving the military."

How far this once respected Vice-Presidential nominee has fallen from grace...how far the noble fall when influenced by the corrupt.

Our severely wounded warriors...many of whom are multiple amputees and many with severe brain injuries will NEVER begin second careers. These most severely of the wounded need the full retirement benefits promised them for they face a lifetime of much needed medical care. This bill takes away a certain amount of those monies as it actually sticks the wounded with the cost of new government spending instead of helping to ease the hell they go through just to live some semblance of a normal life.

How dare they...

And so yesterday, in a 64-36 Senate vote, this bill passed in full and now moves on for Obama's signature as it temporarily...as in for two years...eases some of the cuts to government agency budgets already in place because of Obama's built and owned sequestration. Restoring $45 billion...half the amount scheduled to be automatically cut from the 2014 operating budgets of the Pentagon and some domestic agencies, and now providing an additional $18 billion for 2015 that would basically freeze spending at the 2014 levels...or so they claim...it's our rank-and-file military...those who served and those who gave all...that are the ones once again being thrown under the bus and this time sadly with some Republican help.

And that most dishonorable of help comes in the name of the nine Republican Senators who joined all 55 Democrats in voting for the budget's passage...Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, Georgia Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, and Arizona Sen. John McCain...who more than most should know the pain of those wounded with bodies broken by the horrors of war. These nine Republicans all sold out our military and now all need to go.

Bottom line...it is simply NOT acceptable to hurt in any way those who protect us and this bill hurts America's brave...America's true heroes...in ways that should NEVER be allowed to happen. And this bill will rightfully come back to haunt those who supported it for 'We the People' will come to the aid of those we honor the most...our troops, our veterans, and our military retirees.

And this daughter of a veteran salutes you and God bless you all.