Liberty in the Breach

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Liberty 06/26/2013 (a.m.)

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  • Tags: government secrecy, Obama

    • Even before a former U.S. intelligence contractor exposed the secret collection of Americans’ phone records, the Obama administration was pressing a government-wide crackdown on security threats that requires federal employees to keep closer tabs on their co-workers and exhorts managers to punish those who fail to report their suspicions.

      President Barack Obama’s unprecedented initiative, known as the Insider Threat Program, is sweeping in its reach. It has received scant public attention even though it extends beyond the U.S. national security bureaucracies to most federal departments and agencies nationwide, including the Peace Corps, the Social Security Administration and the Education and Agriculture departments. It emphasizes leaks of classified material, but catchall definitions of “insider threat” give agencies latitude to pursue and penalize a range of other conduct.

    • Government documents reviewed by McClatchy illustrate how some agencies are using that latitude to pursue unauthorized disclosures of any information, not just classified material. They also show how millions of federal employees and contractors must watch for “high-risk persons or behaviors” among co-workers and could face penalties, including criminal charges, for failing to report them. Leaks to the media are equated with espionage.
    • Employees must turn themselves and others in for failing to report breaches. “Penalize clearly identifiable failures to report security infractions and violations, including any lack of self-reporting,” the strategic plan says.

      The Obama administration already was pursuing an unprecedented number of leak prosecutions, and some in Congress – long one of the most prolific spillers of secrets – favor tightening restrictions on reporters’ access to federal agencies, making many U.S. officials reluctant to even disclose unclassified matters to the public.

      The policy, which partly relies on behavior profiles, also could discourage creative thinking and fuel conformist “group think” of the kind that was blamed for the CIA’s erroneous assessment that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction, a judgment that underpinned the 2003 U.S. invasion.

      “The real danger is that you get a bland common denominator working in the government,” warned Ilana Greenstein, a former CIA case officer who says she quit the agency after being falsely accused of being a security risk. “You don’t get people speaking up when there’s wrongdoing. You don’t get people who look at things in a different way and who are willing to stand up for things. What you get are people who toe the party line, and that’s really dangerous for national security.”

    • The program could make it easier for the government to stifle the flow of unclassified and potentially vital information to the public, while creating toxic work environments poisoned by unfounded suspicions and spurious investigations of loyal Americans, according to these current and former officials and experts. Some non-intelligence agencies already are urging employees to watch their co-workers for “indicators” that include stress, divorce and financial problems.
    • The program, however, gives agencies such wide latitude in crafting their responses to insider threats that someone deemed a risk in one agency could be characterized as harmless in another. Even inside an agency, one manager’s disgruntled employee might become another’s threat to national security.

      Obama in November approved “minimum standards” giving departments and agencies considerable leeway in developing their insider threat programs, leading to a potential hodgepodge of interpretations. He instructed them to not only root out leakers but people who might be prone to “violent acts against the government or the nation” and “potential espionage.”

    • The Department of Education, meanwhile, informs employees that co-workers going through “certain life experiences . . . might turn a trusted user into an insider threat.” Those experiences, the department says in a computer training manual, include “stress, divorce, financial problems” or “frustrations with co-workers or the organization.”

      An online tutorial titled “Treason 101” teaches Department of Agriculture and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration employees to recognize the psychological profile of spies.

  • The New Yorker’s Andy Borowitz lampoons the U.S. government’s announcement that it seeks to prosecute Edward Snowden. 

    Tags: surveillance state, Snowden, NSA, comedy

    • The United States government charged former intelligence analyst Edward Snowden with spying on Friday, apparently unaware that in doing so it had created a situation dripping with irony.
  • The Rolling Stone’s Mat Taiibi strikes again. 

    Tags: banksters, ratings-agencies, fraud

    • “Standard & Poor’s has long had strict policies to reinforce the independence of our analytical processes. . . . We make our methodology transparent to the market.”

      That was among the responses of a spokesperson for the ratings agency Standard & Poor’s when I contacted him a few weeks ago in advance of a new Rolling Stone feature, “The Last Mystery of the Financial Crisis,” which describes the role the ratings agencies played in causing the 2008 crash. The company was genuinely miffed that anyone would impugn its honesty. In one relatively brief e-mail, the spokesperson used variables of terms like “independent,” “integrity” and “transparent,” upwards of nine times.

      Hold that thought.

      “The Last Mystery of the Financial Crisis” makes great use of documents uncovered in years of painstaking research by attorneys at Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd, a San Diego-based firm that was at the forefront of major lawsuits against the industry. The material those lawyers found leaves virtually no doubt that the great ratings agencies like Moody’s and S&P essentially put their analysis up for sale in the years leading up to the crash.

    • Moreover, the Court said, plaintiffs could not make a claim based on a public statement by S&P touting its “credibility and reliability,” or another saying, “[S&P] has a longstanding commitment to ensuring that any potential conflicts of interest do not compromise its analytical independence.”

      Why, you might ask, could one not make a fraud claim based upon those statements? Because, the Second Circuit ruled, those statements were transparently not meant to be taken seriously.

    • I point this out because the ratings agencies’ responses to the questions we posed for the piece were almost as revealing as the extremely damaging emails and internal documents the Robbins Geller lawyers uncovered.

      It wasn’t just that there was apparently an entire generation of internal email correspondence that had been taken out of context (apparently, the context was taken out of context). More interesting was another line of defense.

      Not long before I contacted them, S&P had made, in a very graphic and comical manner, a very strange argument in court. In an attempt to dismiss a federal Justice Department lawsuit pending against S&P, the company had, in a court motion, cited a Florida court case, Boca Raton Firefighters and Police Pension Fund v. Bahash.

      In that case, the Second Circuit ruled that the plaintiffs suing S&P could not make a fraud claim based upon the company’s reassurances in its Code of Conduct of its “objectivity, integrity and independence.”

    • Anyway, if you want the full lowdown on what actually goes on internally at these companies, check out the piece, which is full of the devastating material dug up by those San Diego lawyers.

      Also, thanks so much to the excellent Chris Hayes at MSNBC, who had me on last night to discuss the issue. It was a very fun talk.

  • Tags: surveillance state, NSA, hypocricy

  • Tags: banksters, HSBC, money-laundering

    • The global banking giant HSBC is a “criminal” operation, charges a former officer for the company’s southern New York region in a video interview with WND.

      John Cruz, a former vice president and relationship manager, has turned over to WND more than 1,000 pages of documents, including customer account ledgers for dozens of companies through which, he charges, the financial institution was laundering money each month.

  • Good bullet analysis of how things work and why governments continue to get it wrong.  It comes as no surprise that the article turns out to be a quick summary of some deep thinking by Angelo Codevilla, the genius who coined the term “Ruling Class”.  Linked at: 

    JUN 23, 2013
    The Ruling Class Consensus On Domestic Spying

    http://www.libertylawsite.org/2013/06/23/the-ruling-class-consensus-on-domestic-spying/

    At the end of the day, the Ruling Class El;ites hate the American Constitution, and will do whatever it takes to destroy the only Republic ever dedicated to individual liberty, freedom and the rule of law.

    Tags: Angelo-Codevilla, ruling-class-elites

    • We the people want a little free stuff.
    • The ruling class wants to seize and hold political power.
    • Usually, those vote-buying promises result in policies that damage the economy.
    • Promising free stuff is how you get elected.
    • The result is that politicians and their officials are always involved in trying to band-aid over the distortions and the wounds they have inflicted on the economy in their crude bid for power.
    • That is the way to understand the global economic situation. It is governments trying to paper over their mistakes.
    • In the U.S. the government is trying to paper over a credit system that is still badly holed from the mortgage meltdown.
    • There’s only one way that the ruling class knows how to deal with the inevitable consequence of gunning the housing market with mortgage subsidies
    • Print lots of money to float the underwater mortgages.
    • The Fed wants to stop the presses, and it can, it will some day. But it doesn’t want to bring on another panic. The trouble is that even talk about ending its quantitative easing leads to a market swoon.
    • In Europe the ruling class is trying to deal with the consequence of its 50-year hubris. The people, they decided after World War II, were a bunch of crypto-Nazis.
    • So the enlightened ruling class would federalize Europe to make sure that aggressive nationalism would never rear its ugly head again.
    • Think of the Chinese ruling class. The Chi-com rulers really want to bring China into the modern era, but they naturally feel that this is only possible under their wise leadership.
    • So they get exactly the crony capitalism we enjoy here in the United States, as the ruling class dribbles subsidies out to its supporters out in the provinces to keep them on-side while they fundamentally transform China.
    • What can we understand from all this news? It stands to reason. These ruling classes don’t have a clue what they are doing.
    • As Angelo Codevilla writes, those NSA data mining efforts might really amount to something if the NSA had a clue what it was doing.
    • [T]he aftermath of 9/11, technology, inertia, and allergy to accountability gave the US government the capacity to capture and examine at will well nigh the whole electronic realm. It would very much like to do the protective job that President Obama and Karl Rove claim and may even believe it is doing. But there is no evidence that anyone has figured out how to sidestep the realities that prevent that.
    • In Codevilla’s view, the U.S. government is still going what it decided to do in WWII. Collect everything and then decide what to do with it.
    • is the Fed fighting recession or fighting inflation?
  • Good collection of statements and position summaries for Republican and Democrat Senators who yesterday voted for the latest Amnesty Bill.  Each had staked out a election position demanding the border be closed and that American jobs be protected.  Yet, here they are voting for an amnesty plan that will legalize over 46 million new Americans.

    There is no  doubt in my mind that Big Business supports cheap labor fully subsidized by the great American social safety net.  These corporate welfare queens want to pass the escalating cost of labor onto hapless taxpayers.  The Democrats get to rule a one party nation as these new “Federal” citizens loyalty to the is bought and paid for by the States.   And the middle class gets destroyed.  

    The last stronghold in the Marxist transformation of America handbook, “Rules for Radicals” by Saul Alinsky, is the middle class.  Alinsky had a plan to take it down, and this is the final nail.

    Still, I don’t think any of these Senators are Marxists.  Obama is a Muslim Marxist, same as his father.  A real true believer.  But what were witnessing in America’s destruction is not ideological.  It’s all about the money.  Ideology is for the handful of idiots needed to put their lives on the line.  The rest can be handled with the one two punch of money and power.  And that’s what we see with the amnesty Senators.

    The money comes from International Banksters and Big Business.  The power comes from having a position, bought with enormous amounts of cash, in the New World Order.

    Ideology is the facade that hides the enormity of this global power play.

    Tags: Amnesty, Amnesty-Liars, Backstabbing-Senators

    • Republicans (and red state Democrats) used to tell voters amazing things about their opposition to amnesty. Then they got elected and supported legislation that actually weakens border security and puts people on a path not just to legalization, but to citizenship, before ever securing our borders.
    • 1. Rubio: “I would vote against anything that grants amnesty because I think it destroys your ability to enforce the existing law and I think it’s unfair to the people who are standing in line and waiting to come in legally. I would vote against anything that has amnesty in it.”
    • 2. Corker: “We need a new immigration policy that reflects America’s values. First, secure this border. Allow people to work here but only if they’re legal. No amnesty. Those employed but here illegally must go home and return through legal channels.”

    • 3. Wicker: “I agree that illegal immigration is a major issue that needs to be addressed. However, I oppose amnesty as the solution.”

    • 7. Heller: “I believe it is an amnesty program, a back-door amnesty program for the 12 to 15 million people who are here illegally.”
    • 5. Flake: “I’ve been down that road, and it is a dead end. The political realities in Washington are such that a comprehensive solution is not possible, or even desirable given the current leadership. Border security must be addressed before other reforms are tackled.”
    • 6. Hatch: “We can no longer grant amnesty. I fought against the 1986 Simpson-Mazzoli bill because they granted amnesty to 3 million people. They should have to get in line like anybody else if they want to come into this country and do it legally.”
    • 4. Ayotte: “For the people who are here illegally, I don’t support amnesty; it’s wrong. It’s wrong to the people who are waiting in line here, who have waited for so long. And we need to stop that because I think that’s where the Administration is heading next.”
    • 8. Alexander: “We cannot restore a system of legal immigration – which is the real American Dream – if we undermine it by granting new benefits to those who are here illegally.”
    • 9. Collins: Before 2008 reelection, voted no on McCain-Kennedy amnesty

    • 10. Hoeven: Hoeven said the U.S. needs to secure its borders and crack down on employers who hire illegal immigrants.
    • 11. McCain: “Complete the danged fence.”
    • 12. Graham: Amid withering criticism from his constituents, Graham — who is up for reelection next year — began to argue that it was time to approach the immigration problem in stages. On Thursday, he likened the decisive vote to pass his amendment to “having been robbed 12 million times and finally getting around to putting a lock on the door.”

    • 13. Kirk: “The American people believe our borders are broken. It is a fundamental duty of our government to know who is entering the country, making illegal entry nearly impossible. In the coming Congress, we have an overwhelming bipartisan consensus to restore confidence in the security of our borders — before we pursue other immigration proposals.”
    • 14. Murkowski: “With regard to undocumented aliens, I believe that those who illegally entered or remained in the United States should not be granted amnesty. Granting amnesty to illegal aliens sends the wrong message and is not fair to the vast majority of immigrants who abided by U.S. immigration laws. Granting amnesty would only encourage further illegal immigration.”
    • 15. Chisea: Joined most other Republicans, including opponents of the legislation, in supporting a proposal — which was defeated largely along party lines — that would have blocked legalization until the government can prove U.S. borders are secure. Chiesa said he sees border security as a top priority given his law enforcement background, and has yet to decide his stance on citizenship for immigrants without authorization.
    • Red State Democrats
    • 1. Pryor: “I voted against the president’s immigration plan today because the border security and enforcement measures are inadequate and the bill fails to effectively address the individuals who are already here illegally.” Pryor says it’s time for changes, “It’s time for a new approach. I advocate that we strengthen and implement the enforcement measures in this bill and show we can fully enforce immigration laws.”
    • 2. Tester: He wants secure borders and no amnesty for law breakers.

    • 3. Landrieu: “Sen. Landrieu is a leader in the U.S. Senate fighting against illegal immigration,” Schneider said. “She has fought against amnesty for illegal immigrants and to provide more resources for border security. The new NRSC attack is designed simply to mislead voters about Sen. Landrieu’s record.”
    • 4. Donnelly: “Eliminate amnesty because no one should ever be rewarded for breaking the law.”
    • 5. Hagan: Hagan said she supported increased border security and opposed amnesty.
    • 6. McCaskill: Claire does not support amnesty. As a former prosecutor, Claire believes people who break the law should be held accountable, both illegal immigrants and the employers who exploit them for cheap labor. Claire does not believe we need any new guest worker programs undermining American workers.
    • 7. Stabenow: Do you support path to citizenship for illegal immigrants? STABENOW: I voted no, because it went too far and cost us jobs. I do think it’s important to have border security and legal system that is fair and effective. My focus is on our jobs that we’re losing because of failed policies.
  • Tags: Edward-Snowden, NSA-Patriot-Act-NDAA

    • With regard to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, it looks like the United States’ international hegemonic policies have encouraged a number of foreign leaders to question the Nation’s dedication to justice and resist calls to turn the whistle-blower over to U.S. authorities.

      There is a noticeable disconnect between what U.S. officials say on the international stage about the need to protect whistle-blowers and dissidents, and how officials go about dealing with people who engage in those activities at home.

    • Meanwhile, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino asked a question Monday that is likely on the minds of most average Americans:
    • Has Snowden really betrayed average Americans and their safety, or did he simply ruffle the feathers of the Nation’s powerful elite?
    • Ecuador is considering offering Snowden permanent asylum, questioning whether the whistle-blower has any real chance of receiving a fair trial in his home country. The nation’s leaders say they feel compelled to offer Snowden asylum because they operate under a policy of placing human rights before the interests of any party.
    • Furthermore, Ecuadorian officials say it doesn’t make sense that a man who revealed rights abuses would face prosecution from the alleged abusers.
  • Wow.  I remember Paul Craig Roberts writing on the backpage of NewsWeek Magazine, back in the late 1960′s.  Wow, we’ve come a long way since the days of protesting the Vietnam War, the socialism behind LBJ’s Great Society, and the outrageous coup d’état that took place with the in-your-face-America assassination of JFK.  The circle is almost complete. The American Constitution hangs by a thread.  The anger and heart ache of Paul Craig Roberts says it all.

    I wonder who will win this years “Dancing with the Stars” competition?

    Tags: Paul-Craig-Roberts, End-of-America, Obammunism, Stassi, ruling-class-elites

    • On June 19, 2013, US President Obama, hoping to raise himself above the developing National Security Agency (NSA) spy scandals, sought to associate himself with two iconic speeches made at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

      Fifty years ago, President John F. Kennedy pledged: “Ich bin ein Berliner.” In 1987, President Ronald Reagan challenged: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

      Obama’s speech was delivered to a relatively small, specially selected audience of invitees. Even so, Obama spoke from behind bullet proof glass.

    • Obama’s speech will go down in history as the most hypocritical of all time. Little wonder that the audience was there by invitation only. A real audience would have hooted Obama out of Berlin.
    • Obama spoke lofty words of peace, while beating the drums of war in Syria and Iran. Witness Obama’s aggressive policies of surrounding Russia with missile bases and establishing new military bases in the Pacific Ocean with which to confront China.
    • This is the same Obama who promised to close the Guantanamo Torture Prison, but did not; the same Obama who promised to tell us the purpose for Washington’s decade-long war in Afghanistan, but did not; the same Obama who promised to end the wars, but started new ones; the same Obama who said he stood for the US Constitution, but shredded it; the same Obama who refused to hold the Bush regime accountable for its crimes against law and humanity; the same Obama who unleashed drones against civilian populations in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen; the same Obama who claimed and exercised power to murder US citizens without due process and who continues the Bush regime’s unconstitutional practice of violating habeas corpus and detaining US citizens indefinitely; the same Obama who promised transparency but runs the most secretive government in US history.
    • The tyrant’s speech of spectacular hypocrisy elicited from the invited audience applause on 36 occasions.
    • Here was Obama, who consistently lies, speaking of “eternal truth.”
    • Here was Obama, who enabled Wall Street to rob the American and European peoples and who destroyed Americans’ civil liberties and the lives of vast numbers of Iraqis, Afghans, Yemenis, Libyans, Pakistanis, Syrians − and others, speaking of “the yearnings of justice.”
    • Obama equates demands for justice with “terrorism.”
    • Here was Obama, who has constructed an international spy network and a domestic police state, speaking of “the yearnings for freedom.”
    • Here was Obama, president of a country that has initiated wars or military action against six countries since 2001 and has three more Muslim countries − Syria, Lebanon, and Iran − in its crosshairs and perhaps several more in Africa, speaking of “the yearnings of peace that burns in the human heart,” but clearly not in Obama’s heart.

    • Obama has turned America into a surveillance state that has far more in common with Stasi East Germany than with the America of the Kennedy and Reagan eras. Strange, isn’t it, that freedom was gained in East Germany and lost in America?
    • At the Brandenburg Gate, Obama invoked the pledge of nations to “a Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” but Obama continues to violate human rights both at home and abroad.
    • Obama has taken hypocrisy to new heights. He has destroyed US civil liberties guaranteed by the Constitution.
    • In place of a government accountable to law, he has turned law into a weapon in the hands of the government.
    • He has intimidated a free press and prosecutes whistleblowers who reveal his government’s crimes. He makes no objection when American police brutalize peacefully protesting citizens.
    • Obama kept Bradley Manning in solitary confinement for nearly a year assaulting his human dignity in an effort to break him and obtain a false confession. In defiance of the US Constitution, Obama denied Manning a trial for three year
    • Obama sends in drones or assassins to murder people in countries with which the US is not at war, and his victims on most occasions turn out to be women, children, farmers and village elders.
    • His government intercepts and stores in National Security Agency computers every communication of every American and also the private communications of Europeans and Canadians, including the communications of the members of the governments, the better to blackmail those with secrets.
    • On Obama’s instructions, London denies Julian Assange free passage to his political asylum in Ecuador. Assange has become a modern-day Cardinal Mindszenty.
  • Tags: Angelo-Codevilla, ruling-class-elites

    • This means that the US government’s vast apparatus is almost completely useless against serious terrorists or criminals, and useful primarily to do whatever the government might choose to innocent persons.
    • Ever since the 1970s, the art of code-making has surpassed the art of code-breaking – period.
    • Hence, on the high end, anyone can purchase voice and internet communications software that are beyond the capacity of anyone to access without an electronic key.
    • If collection is universal, the collectors don’t have to explain to others (or even to themselves) why they are targeting this person or group and not another. Possessing the data in secret, they can then decide in secret who they are really interested in.
    • That flight from responsibility is also why, in 1978, the intelligence agencies pressed Congress to pass the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), under which the agencies submit their requests for detailed targeting, in secret, to a court that decides ex parte and in secret.
    • the FISA court.

      But that court acts not just in secret, but ex parte – hearing only one side.

    • The relevant question about the uses of the NSA programs, then, is simply “against whom, in the broad American public, is the US government likely to turn its animus?
    • Alas, the ruling class has shown itself all too able to treat domestic opponents as public enemies. But that is another story.
    • In the words of General Keith Alexander, director of NSA, this surveillance has “helped to prevent” “dozens of terrorist events.”
    • From Barack Obama to Karl Rove, the ruling class is in unison: The NSA’s collection of data on virtually all Americans is essential to preventing you from “being blown to smithereens on your morning commute”
    • Another, PRISM, gives access to all records of email, chat, photos, videos and file transfers from the servers of leading US internet companies.
    • Here are the facts.
    • These programs stand between Americans and terrorists. Worries that they will be misused are misplaced or downright kooky.
    • Project Constant Informant, which tracks essentially all American phone calls, allows matching the account holder’s identity with each call’s precise location in time and place.
    • anyone who has followed telecommunication technology and intelligence during the past three decades can only scoff at the claim that universal collection of telephone externals and access to internet traffic can thwart serious criminals or terrorists.

    • In fact, the expansion of the US government’s capacity to intrude on innocent communications happened just as technology enabled competent persons who intend to hide their communications to do so without fail.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of Socialism and the End of the American Dream group favorite links are here.

Written by garylyn

June 26, 2013 at 12:39 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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