Monthly Archives: December 2016
It may seem self-evident to most Americans, but now a noted legal organization has weighed in as well.
The American Civil Liberties Union says the overt spying on Americans’ electronic communications – whether to simply collect “metadata” or to capture communications in their entirety – simply violates the Constitution.
In a newly released, highly detailed critique of the NSA’s domestic spying that has since been filed in federal court, the ACLU says the program has had a chilling effect on the First Amendment and needs to be shut down immediately.
‘Allows surveillance that is essentially indefinite’
In the filing, the ACLU warned that such long-term surveillance of Americans’ communications “permits the government to assemble a richly detailed profile of every person living in the United States and to draw a comprehensive map of their associations with one another.”
The court action is part of a lawsuit that the legal watchdog group filed in June, shortly after revelations about extensive NSA domestic spying were revealed in a series of media reports. Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor, spoke at length about the spying with Greg Greenwald of Britain’s Guardian newspaper. Snowden has since been granted temporary political asylum in Russia.
Per the Guardian:
Documents from Snowden revealed a secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order directing Verizon to give the NSA all call detail records or “metadata” relating to every domestic and international call for three months, in a court direction that is renewed on an ongoing basis.
It “allows surveillance that is essentially indefinite”, the motion says.
The filing is filled with quotes from academic, literary and additional sources in an attempt to illustrate how dangerous mass surveillance of the domestic population by government can be. The citations include writings by author George Orwell, whose fictional but visionary book, “1984,” contained details of a “surveillance society” monitored by an omnipresent and all-powerful central government.
The ACLU filing also cites “The Lives of Others,” an award-winning film about monitoring of citizens by the Stazi (secret police) in East Berlin by director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.
U.S. intelligence and government officials said, following disclosure of the NSA spying program, that the agency has not collected contents of citizens’ communications and phone calls, only the “metadata,” such as numbers dialed, the duration of the calls and what time they were made.
‘Scooping an ocean to catch a fish’
The NSA and the Obama administration have said the program is part of the nation’s overall counterterrorism strategy, but the ACLU says the agency has definitely overstepped its boundaries. The legal watchdog group quoted Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., a primary author of the USA Patriot Act, who has said that the law was never intended to give NSA blanket surveillance authority over U.S. citizens. He said the agency has used the law to “scoop up the entire ocean…to catch a fish.”
“The chilling effect of the mass call-tracking program is apparent: any person hoping to approach plaintiffs with proof of official misconduct would be understandably wary knowing that the government receives, almost in real-time, a record of every telephone call,” says the motion.
Included in ACLU’s client list for the motion are potential whistleblowers who are seeking legal counsel and “government employees fearing reprisals for their political views.”
The suit, filed June 11, names Director of National Intelligence James Clapper; NSA Director Keith Alexander; Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel; Attorney General Eric Holder; and Robert Mueller, FBI director. The suit says that the agency’s continuing tracking of Americans’ phone calls and conversations goes well beyond the agency’s statutory authority and is being conducted in violation of the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution.
Two-time Republican presidential loser Mitt Romney misses the “good old days” when the mainstream media was unchallenged by the alternative media and able to craft narratives, spread propaganda and toe the corporate line completely unchallenged.
As reported by Breitbart News, Romney complained recently that the fall of traditional media, which today does everything it can to discredit and destroy his political party, is a bad thing because it has empowered GOP “insurgents” (i.e. conservatives) while preventing establishment Republicans (i.e. RINOs) from achieving more compromise with the Democratic Party. The Democrats, of course, also seek daily to discredit and destroy the Republican Party and GOP brand.
In the days before Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., was elected to the position of Speaker of the House and Romney and the rest of the establishment GOP were trying to convince him to run for the office, the former Massachusetts governor told former Obama operative David Axelrod on “The Axe Files” podcast that the “extremes within our respective parties are having a louder and louder voice and demanding more attention” and “immediate action” as opposed to more “collaborative action.”
Romney said that this is occurring in large part because of the “change in the world of media.”
“There was a time when we all got the news with the same facts, if you will,” he said. “We had three networks we watched for the evening news. Most of us got newspapers. Everybody in the middle class got a newspaper, so we got the same facts whether we agreed or not with them.”
No, Mitt, we all got the same propaganda and one-party bias.
It’s not good when we all have the same information
Now, he continued, Americans dare to “get their news on the web” and “they tend to read those things which they agree with.” He also said that people are “not seeing the other side” and “not even getting the same facts” while “we have commentators” on left- and right-leaning cable news channels “who are hyperbolic in expressing their views on issues.”
Romney went onto to complain that more Democrats consider themselves “liberal” and “in my party, there are more and more who feel they are more insurgent than towards the center of the party.”
“And I think that divisiveness is one of the things that has led to Washington having such a hard time getting things done,” he said.
For the record, the Republican Party was genuinely filled with conservative leaders once upon a time, hence its conservative bent, but that is no longer the case. Today, Republicans get Mitt Romney, John McCain, John Boehner and Paul Ryan as “leaders” who criticize the conservatives of the party more than they do “opposition” Democrats.
Completely off of Romney’s radar and obviously out of his scope of understanding is the fact that the mainstream media he nostalgically recalls is responsible for its own demise just as much as alternative media sources are responsible for their own rise. In the past, there was no free market of ideas, no competition for the status quo, and no challenge to the party line, which is why “we all got the news with the same facts”). When those challenges and choices became available, people began voting with their remotes and computer mice.
Breitbart News noted further:
In this election cycle in which outsiders on the GOP side are getting the majority of the vote, Donald Trump has bypassed the traditional media and gone over their heads to get his message directly to his supporters and American voters. Romney blasted Trump on the podcast and implied that his remarks about women, “members of the news media,” and Hispanics would hurt Republicans like Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” remarks during the 2012 election cycle. Romney referred to “certain things” that were “said by Republicans during my general election race in 2012 colored the perception of the Republican Party and may have caused some people to stay at home.”
They want to control what you can and cannot know
So now, like Democrats, RINO Romney and his merry band of establishment leaders are complaining that they can’t control the narrative any longer. That’s really what this is all about.
You can – and should – read the full Breitbart News report here.
Speaking of new/alternative media, check out truth detectors and honest news brokers like MediaFactWatch.com and Freedom.news so that you don’t let a two-time presidential loser dictate to you what you can and cannot know.
Billionaire businessman and GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump, elicits strong emotions from people, there is no question about that – and that includes strong positive and strong negative responses. But one response he elicited from a board member of a local American Civil Liberties Union chapter would be enough to land that person in jail for a very long time if he would happen to utter it should The Donald actually win the White House.
As reported by CBS Denver in recent days, ACLU of Colorado board member Loring Wirbel was forced to resign after writing a post on Facebook that threatened the lives of Trump supporters (as one of the GOP leaders Trump receives Secret Service protection), though some believe it may have been a closet threat to Trump personally.
Wirbel’s post was captured by The Daily Caller, which publicized it. The post stated:
“The thing is, we have to really reach out to those who might consider voting for Trump and say, ‘This is Goebbels. This is the final solution. If you are voting for him I will have to shoot you before Election Day.’ They’re not going to listen to reason, so when justice is gone, there’s always force…”
So much for the Left’s ‘tolerance’
What is unjust about democratically electing a president? Can you imagine the reaction of a reactionary like this to anyone who would threaten the lives of President Obama and his supporters? And did you catch the reference to one of Nazi Germany’s most notorious figures, Dr. Josef Goebbels, the man who performed painful and deadly experiments on Jews and non-Germans?
Does Wirbel really think Donald Trump is that kind of person? If so, then Wirbel and those who think like him are the real threats to American freedom – not a democratically elected president, regardless of what political party he or she represents.
“It’s almost like, you will think the way we think, you will do what we want you to do, or we eliminate you?” Steve House, chair of the Colorado Republican Party, told CBS Denver, commenting on what was the second threat against Republicans in a week.
The website noted further:
“Fern Delise, 54, of Fountain was arrested after police say she called Planned Parenthood saying, ‘It’s tempting to walk into a republican party [sic] meeting with my dead husband’s gun and just start shooting people.'”
This is the face of the Left’s famous “tolerance?” Threatening to kill someone just because they believe in a different political philosophy? Since when has any elected Republican official ever threatened the lives of Democrats just for being Democrats, or threatened Goebbels-like treatment towards them? I’ll save you the trouble of research: Never. Or at least not since the Civil War.
Because of this political intolerance, House says the state GOP is taking on new security measures at large meetings (just like they would have to if they were being threatened directly by ISIS – which essentially translates to: Democratic voters are behaving like terrorists toward Republicans).
“I think we have to be prepared as a party and I think politics is just overdone,” he said. “We’ve got to realize the country needs to pick leader and we need to do a serious job of doing that but this kind of rhetoric really doesn’t help at all and frankly it scares us and people need be worried about it a little bit.”
Where is Obama? Clinton? Are they condemning this?
Fortunately the ACLU of Colorado stepped up and did the right thing, issuing a statement saying that the organization “does not condone the recent personal Facebook post of regional volunteer Loring Wirbel.
“The ACLU of Colorado is a nonpartisan organization. We do not endorse candidates or parties. We have proudly spent decades fighting for the rights of all Coloradans, regardless of political affiliation, to vote and to freely participate in the political process. Our members, supporters, and volunteers are free to express their own personal views and opinions in their personal lives,” the statement continued. “We have fought for decades to preserve that right, as well, for all Coloradans, no matter how strongly we disagree with the content.”
You know who should come out next and condone this kind of rhetoric? President Obama, Hillary Clinton and every other leading Democrat who has weaponized speech at every opportunity to launch at the Republican Party.