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Posts Tagged ‘NSA’

Former Drone Operators Report More Shady Business from the NSA

February 19, 2014 Leave a comment

From The Intercept, by Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald:

The NSA’s Secret Role in the U.S. Assassination Program

The National Security Agency is using complex analysis of electronic surveillance, rather than human intelligence, as the primary method to locate targets for lethal drone strikes – an unreliable tactic that results in the deaths of innocent or unidentified people.

According to a former drone operator for the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) who also worked with the NSA, the agency often identifies targets based on controversial metadata analysis and cell-phone tracking technologies. Rather than confirming a target’s identity with operatives or informants on the ground, the CIA or the U.S. military then orders a strike based on the activity and location of the mobile phone a person is believed to be using.

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[Tru Blu Tuesday] It’s Comeback Time!

July 30, 2013 Leave a comment

Think of the United States of America’s history as a football game. On one side of the field we have Team Liberty, the upstart franchise in the world arena. They face the imposing Team Tyranny, flexing its centuries old experience and record of global domination. The winner controls the destiny of the nation – the city on a hill, the last great hope.

At the onset of this match, when 13 American colonies claimed and defended their independence from Great Britain, Team Liberty took an early lead. Their bold new quarterback, the Constitution, put them out in front, shocking the defending champs with a quick score right out of the gate. It was not a clincher, but now they had their game plan to beat Tyranny. The fullback for Team Tyranny, an imposing figure named War, nearly ended the contest in 1812, but an impressive goal line stand held him back. There were still some major glitches in Liberty’s offense, such as the enslavement of an entire ethnicity and the battles in the Supreme Court justice system. This resulted in a few punts. However, the first quarter still ended with more rights and freedom ever assembled for a nation.

Hemet_To_Helmet_Hits_Football_t620The second quarter was brutal, as Civil War brought both sides into a bloody contest with Secession and Slavery threatening to tear Team Liberty in two. Somehow they managed to survive with the lead still in tact, although a few controversial plays had some questioning the validity of the score. Slavery was ejected out of the game as a result of that quarrel, but the bad guys still held a few cards. After that difficult possession, Liberty saw some real strides and began to expand their lead. Infrastructure and Industrial Progress took off like never before giving the people excellent field position. Millions from around the world started to take notice and fill the bleachers, arriving by the boatload to cheer on the new kids. The upset was looking good.

Then came the second half.

Tyranny came out of the locker room angry. Slowly they began to work their way back into the end-zone. It was gradual and Liberty wasn’t sure how it started. It might have been when the visiting team pulled out their rookie backup Federal Reserve in 1913, which began to erode the value of the dollar. But that only put a dent in the lead. War pushed his way through the battle of the trenches yet again. Not once, but twice dragging America into a global conflict. These resulted in establishing the prized country as a world power, while the old world was left reeling in the aftermath. However it came at the cost of injury to Equality when thousands of citizens were sent to internment camps in the name of “Safety“.

Team Liberty tried to keep pace by expanding freedom through the Civil Rights movement, but it only netted a field goal overall as american_football_3Political Correctness tackled Freedom of Speech short of a first down. War found the goal line once again on an audible after the Vietnam Conflict intercepted a pass from the Constitution. Tyranny then took the lead as the U.S. became a global empire, intervening in the affairs of several other countries. They ratcheted up the score with the Red Scare and Inflation. Corporatism ended a comeback attempt by forcing a fumble by Capitalism as Big Government scooped up the loose ball in the wake of what should have been a touchdown against Communism.  Somehow Liberty didn’t notice the sudden turn of events. It might have been the opposing cheerleaders, the Media, that had them distracted from the battle they were then losing.

It is now the Fourth Quarter.

This period began with a massive hit on the Constitution as the Patriot Act sacked him for a huge loss in the wake of 9/11/01. You could clearly see him limping on his Fourth Amendment after that blow. The hits kept coming too, as the Federal Reserve pumped more money into the economy and Undeclared War sneaked through the line on a blitz again and again. Liberty was down by a lot and hurting immensely. The NDAA sacked the Constitution again for “Safety”, which only added to the now gargantuan deficit.

At this point the fans had quieted down considerably, distracted by the sideline gags and whatever the vendors were peddling.

That’s when the comeback started. At first it was a little grumble from one or two patriots on Team Liberty. They were done being beat up on. They were Irate and Tireless and turned their grumble into a roar. They were sick of being pummeled with the referees not calling any of the violations. Tyranny tried to bully their way down field with their Police State, but Liberty fought back. Ignorance sure was pushing hard, but Education and Awareness stepped up big to stop the rush. The crowd could see the intensity rising.

As the fate of the nation weighed in the balance, Tyranny tried to put the contest on ice forever. Big Government was doing everything it could to bring Liberty to it’s knees, but the kids would not go out without one final stand. Suddenly Team Liberty was able to make a few big plays. Federal Reserve was targeted repeatedly. Then a courageous effort to stop the Police State’s nifty NSA spin move resulted in a turnover.

The ball is now in our hands. We are down by quite a lot, but the comeback can happen! The clock is ticking. All we need are a few more game changers – our future depends on it.

Which side are you on?

 

[Tru Blu Tuesday] The Hero America Deserves

July 16, 2013 Leave a comment

We live in perilous times. There’s much to be done to get the country back on the right path. However, there are countless villains standing in our way, keeping us from achieving our goals. Corrupt politicians, mindless media, and evil minions in every tentacle of despair wrapped around the throat of a once free and prosperous nation. Someone needs to stop it, fight back. Someone needs to make a change! We need a hero! But who?

I nominate you!

There’s an old adage that says “Be the change you want to see in the world”. I love that saying. It is so easy to criticize the problems we face, and the people who cause them. -I would know, I do it all the time. But instead of standing on the sidelines wishing for change to happen, make it happen within yourself and then impose that change on the rest of the world around you. Maybe news stations never speak your name and criminals never learn to quake in your presence. Still, you can be a hero to those around you. And even if it is just for a moral victory, you can be a hero to yourself.

We all know the whistle-blower Edward Snowden as a fugitive, on the run for a crime he didn’t commit. He saw wrong doings every day on the job as an employee of the security contractor Booz-Allen-Hamilton, working with the NSA. He came to the conclusion that something had to be done to warn the public about the atrocities going on behind the scenes. So instead of whimpering in the shadows for the rest of his career, he went up against the most powerful spy agency in the world and made a difference. It takes a lot of gumption to pull something of that extent, but Snowden realized that that is what it would take. Some say he did it for the fame or for money, and they could not be more wrong. He knew what he would be getting into. He is infamous now, despite his innocence, but he is also an inspiration.

Yesterday former New Hampshire Senator Gordon Humphrey emailed Snowden this message of encouragement:

Mr. Snowden,

Provided you have not leaked information that would put in harms way any intelligence agent, I believe you have done the right thing in exposing what I regard as massive violation of the United States Constitution.

Having served in the United States Senate for twelve years as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, the Armed Services Committee and the Judiciary Committee, I think I have a good grounding to reach my conclusion.

I wish you well in your efforts to secure asylum and encourage you to persevere.

Kindly acknowledge this message, so that I will know it reached you.

Regards,
Gordon J. Humphrey
Former United States Senator
New Hampshire

Ed Snowden was kind enough to reply from his hiding place in a foreign land:

Mr. Humphrey,

Thank you for your words of support. I only wish more of our lawmakers shared your principles – the actions I’ve taken would not have been necessary.

The media has distorted my actions and intentions to distract from the substance of Constitutional violations and instead focus Edward-Snowden-400x400on personalities. It seems they believe every modern narrative requires a bad guy. Perhaps it does. Perhaps, in such times, loving one’s country means being hated by its government.

If history proves that be so, I will not shy from that hatred. I will not hesitate to wear those charges of villainy for the rest of my life as a civic duty, allowing those governing few who dared not do so themselves to use me as an excuse to right these wrongs.

My intention, which I outlined when this began, is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them. I remain committed to that. Though reporters and officials may never believe it, I have not provided any information that would harm our people – agent or not – and I have no intention to do so.

Further, no intelligence service – not even our own – has the capacity to compromise the secrets I continue to protect. While it has not been reported in the media, one of my specializations was to teach our people at DIA how to keep such information from being compromised even in the highest threat counter-intelligence environments (i.e. China).

You may rest easy knowing I cannot be coerced into revealing that information, even under torture.

With my thanks for your service to the nation we both love,

Edward Snowden

Mr. Snowden is an example of one person taking on the responsibility of changing the world. Will all of us have the opportunity to have as much of an impact as he did? Probably not. But we can all change within ourselves the problems we perpetuate, and work towards being part of the solution instead.

If I may venture into the world of pop culture, I’d like to bring you the ending of one of my favorite movies, The Dark Knight. If there was a real life moral equivalent to Batman, it would be Ed Snowden. He’s not the hero America needs. He is the hero we deserve. You can be a hero too!

[Tru Blu Tuesday] Calling All (R)epublicans!

June 25, 2013 Leave a comment

I’m in a mood today, so brace yourself. That usually happens when I’m exhausted, which I definitely am right now. But not only am I tired from the grind of working two jobs and trying to have some semblance of a social life, I am down right tuckered out from inconsistent neoconservative Republicans. Honestly, the only thing that keeps me from flying off the handle is the humble reminder that I used to be one. Yes, up until I awoke a few short years ago, I was very hypocritical in my political stands. I still have much to iron out, but I’ve come a long way.

Of all the factors that led me to appreciate, follow, love Ron Paul and eventually libertarian thought, the biggest one was consistency. In naive years of toeing the party line for the Red Team, no matter what the issue, some days just left me scratching my head. Like the day I read a column in my local paper of a critic bashing the Patriot Act. Pushed by Republicans my knee jerk reaction was to fully support the Act. However, in the back of my head, something told me the writer might be on to something. I mean, should we really be giving up our Constitutional right to privacy? But I stuck with Dubya and the gang anyway. Please forgive me, I was young. Anyone who knows me now would tell you I’m the biggest anti-Patriot Act guy out there.

That is what keeps me from going bananas on neoconservatives today. Today when so many join Dick Cheney, Lindsay Graham and John McCain in upholding the treasonous actions of the NSA and condemning whistle-blower Edward Snowden, I straight up want to pull my hair out. It is horribly inconsistent with “small government”, “Constitutional” conservative philosophy.

This post by a man I’ve never met is what got me rolling on the topic:

One of the key arguments for defending the 2nd amendment is based upon the natural right of the citizen to protect himself from his own government should the need ever arise. Fair enough- I couldn’t agree more.

So why is it that so many of you are constantly calling for an infinite amount of funding for a massive, standing military force, and ever more funding for an omniscient spy apparatus in the forms of an NSA or CIA? Isn’t that just as much a self defeating blow to the second amendment as outright gun confiscation would be? What do think- that if the time comes to protect yourself from the government, you’re gonna go out there in your camo baseball caps, beer guts, & AR-15’s, and take on the most powerful, technologically advanced, highly trained crack government troops that YOU thought never had enough funding? You’re somehow gonna escape the government’s all seeing eye that will track and anticipate your every move that YOU fully supported the implementation of? if you truly believed that there may come a time to utilized your 2nd amendment rights, wouldn’t you be screaming for a dismantling of the spy agencies, and a greatly reduced military budget?

This is such a good example of my frustrations with main stream Republicans today. They scream bloody murder when the government makes a move for their guns, and rightly so, but they defend Constitutional violations by our most powerful spy agencies? And for what – safety? Hello, isn’t that what liberals claim in support of gun control? This does not compute logically for me.

And then there’s the fiscal part of it. Republicans are supposedly against big spending, always bucking the Democratic pets such as welfare or military-spendingthe Affordable Care Act. Then they turn around and infuse billions into a life-sucking military empire, the likes of which the world has never seen before? We spend about a third as much as the entire world combined, but God forbid we cut a penny from the military! Just last week our leaders stuck our hands into the Syrian conflict. This after Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Pakistan. Are we playing a game of real life Risk here?

These are the things that lead me to libertarian thinking. Follow the Constitution – not just the parts you like. That means standing in firm defense of the Second Amendment AND resisting foreign interventionism. It means protecting free speech for the pulpit AND our cell phones. It means keeping spending for welfare AND warfare under control.

I could go on, but you get the picture. If we are going to rescue this country, and all Republicans are aware of the need, we have to stick to our guns on the Constitution, and check our political party passions at the door. Libertarian types are an interesting bunch, and generally very educated on the political sphere, but we can’t do this ourselves. We need a few more Republican pals to wake up and get this ship in order.

Want to know what Ronald Reagan had to say about libertarianism?

[Tru Blu Tuesday] Fighting Back

June 18, 2013 Leave a comment

Bullies. They’ve been around since Cain slew Able. They’re a fact of life, really. From the school yard, to the sports arena, to the board room and -as pointed out last week- in your friendly neighborhood federal government. But what’s a citizen to do against a foe as vast and powerful as the body that governs his nation? How is justice reclaimed? How can the little man regain footing on the same ground as his oppressor? Not easily.

Not to say it can’t be done, but reality tells us that quite often, the bully gets away with his crime. Even when they are punished, as was Cain of chesspawn2the Bible, it doesn’t turn out that well for the Ables. Still, after being challenged by a friend and reader to write about how to take our authority back from our out of control government, I racked my brain for ways an individual like myself can make a difference towards that end. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that we are at a great disadvantage. I mean, our best defense was the Constitution, but apparently it had might as well be written in chalk on a Seattle sidewalk. A few pawns attacking an army of rooks and bishops would stand a better chance of success than we do right now. You don’t have to be an avid chess player to understand that predicament. 

So in accepting my friend’s challenge, I first asked myself: how can we make the directors of the NSA be held accountable for their intrusions? It’s pretty much impossible, as government agents almost never get full justice, if any. There are, however, a few heavy hitters on our side for this fight:

  • The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the National Security Agency, for its breech of First and Fourth Amendment rights. A 2008 lawsuit by the ACLU against the constitutionality of the FISA Amendment act failed in Supreme Court due to lack of evidence. That would not likely be a problem in this instance.
  • Senator Rand Paul is pushing a bill that would limit the NSA’s ability to continue their egregious afront to privacy. So far, he is sailing solo in his attempt to rock the boat.

What comes of these efforts, we’ll have to wait and see, but it is at least encouraging to have a few knights on our side. Personally, I’d like very much for big companies such as Google, Verizon and Facebook, in the interest of protecting their brands, throw their weight into the fray as well. One can only hope.

Unfortunately, even if the NSA was reprimanded for its actions, they are only a part of the bigger picture that is the authority struggle between us and the federal government. If we’re going to take on that beast, there’s going to have to be a shift in the status quo. We would have to change the culture in Congress, electing representatives and an Executive who respect the Constitution. In order to do that we would have to get a lot more pawns on our side! Inform more people about what is really happening in our country. To make that happen we’ll need more influences of liberty having their voices heard above the tumultuous distractions. That means media, journalists, and others pushing the real stories to the public. That means…That means…

That means I have to just keep doing what I’m doing.

It dawned on me that there is no magic formula for getting our authority back, just a lot of very hard work. As much as I’d like to, I can’t simply find a holy relic that gives power to the people in the blink of an eye. Our country eroded over a long period of time; it won’t be rebuilt in a night. My very first post on this little experiment of a blog even said as much. I just have to keep moving my little pawn self forward one space at a time.

Want to join in?

One person, or even a small handful, will always struggle to make a difference, but it is not impossible. It requires passion and persistence. I’ve quoted Samuel Adams before, and I’ll quote him again:

It does not take a majority to prevail… but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.

With those words echoing in our minds, here are two things anyone and everyone can do to make a difference: educate others and educate yourself. So let’s get to it!

Educating others:

There are all kinds of ways to keep people informed on the real issues and how they affect us. (Hint: I’m doing that right now.) Everyone has their own style of pushing an important message, whether that be in person, through social media or supporting productive media outlets.

I have, on numerous occasions, spoken to family and friends on libertarian ideas, with mixed results. You’d be amazed at what people aren’t aware of in the world, thanks to the stifling of the truth and political paradigms perpetuated by the press. Speak out and speak often to the folks you know. Let them know of what is going on behind the scenes and how it will hurt them, but also what can be done about it.

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube….you know the drill. Some people have a knack for this that I certainly don’t. If you think you’d make a great host for your own YouTube channel show, do it! Get a good following on Twitter and keep them posted on current events as they happen. The internet world we live in is dripping with ways to get the word out there!

While it is true that there are so few news sources consistently keeping the American public abreast of the real problems facing the nation, there are a few bright spots still out there. I’m always raving about Cincinnati reporter Ben Swann and his great investigative journalism. Well now, having finished his local news contract, he is attempting to start a new campaign of sorts to bring the big issues to the public. Currently he is trying to come up with the funds to make his project successful. I am fully behind his efforts and have supported him with what I could. If you’d like to learn more about it, and how supporting the Liberty is Rising – Truth in Media Project, click here to visit the website. Doing so can help get the liberty message to so many more!

Educate yourself:

You want to help educate others on what is going on – great! But you have to keep yourself in the know as well right? Here are just a few suggestions on how to do that.

I’ve spoken before of Campaign For Liberty, the organization founded by Ron Paul, which seeks to put pressure on politicians and keep others, like myself, informed of the challenges presented in Congress. I highly recommend visiting their website at www.campaignforliberty.org and signing up for their news letter. I can’t tell you how many times they have alerted me about something rumbling under the surface in D.C. and then provided me with the means to get a hold of my representatives in order to help keep the pressure on them. Talk about putting information to work!

Also, I’m a big fan of Tom Woods’s Liberty Classroom. I am currently “enrolled” there and learning fascinating things about the world all the time. It requires a monetary investment, but it is very much worth it. Between the book lists, blogs and lectures there is so much to be learned! Check it out here at http://www.libertyclassroom.com.

These are only two ways to keep yourself ready. There is a great deal of information to be had. You only have to go out there and get it!

chesspawn3It is an uphill battle, that is certain. However, quitting is not an option. If the founders quit, threw in the towel, gave up on freedom – where would we be today? Yes, the odds are against us, but that is no reason to not fight back.

You know the neat thing about pawns, with all their limitations and lack of great power? When they reach the other side of the board….they can become queens….and then….

Checkmate!

 

 

[Tru Blu Tuesday] Our Big Bad Bully

June 11, 2013 Leave a comment

Just last week someone asked me “So what makes you angry?” I had to stop and think for a minute, because, believe it or not, I don’t get angry very easily. After giving it some thought I blurted out “Bullies.” If I can paraphrase my explanation to the inquirer: As a large person, I have always felt it is my responsibility to protect smaller and weaker people. When I see other people abusing their victims, that really gets under my skin. At the moment, I was thinking of individuals picking on other individuals. That was the context of bullying that was on my mind at the time. But when I arrived home later that day I realized my hatred of bullies stretched across a much wider spectrum.

On June 5th the story broke that the National Security Agency secretly got their hands on three months worth of Verizon customers phone NSArecords. They were able to see who called who, from where, at what time and so on. They did this to millions of people. They did this illegally, without a warrant. Yes, they butchered the Constitution en route to explicitly invading the privacy of millions. As I said before, I don’t get angry easily. When I read this piece of news, however, my blood boiled. As it turns out, bullies come in all shapes and sizes.

The story from The Atlantic

The New York Times calls out the Obama Administration

Fox News’ Judge Andrew Napolitano rages

I expected a lot of outrage from this event. I fully anticipated that an all out uproar would take place from almost all Americans. I mean, most conservatives will jump at the chance to bark at President Obama, and civil liberties is a special pet of liberals right? Why wouldn’t there be a near-unanimous calling for accountability? I guess I’ll have to keep waiting.

Instead, I saw an unhealthy lack of interest and an extra dose of apathy. I gather that the cause of this is from two dominating modes of thinking amidst the public: a) It doesn’t affect me, as I have nothing to hide and b) What does it matter anyway?

Today, I’d like to answer those questions so we can all oust the bullies together!

Why it really does affect you:

The initial reaction to this story for many is “I have nothing to hide, I don’t care if they invade my privacy. Only bad people should feel nervous about this.” This mindset ignores the inevitable reality of what such a privacy invasion, if left unchecked, will lead to. By this logic, you won’t mind the government snooping into your purchasing data, your medical records, banking records, your internet browsing history, or even your cellphone conversations. “No way!” is the natural response, I would hope. “That is too far!” you might say. Oh really? Just how do you draw that line of yours? A favorite book from my childhood reads “If you give a mouse a cookie, he is going to want some milk to go with it….” It is only to be expected that if you give the NSA your phone records, it is going to want to know everything there is to know about you, and then some.

And what happens when the Federal Government gets a hold of that information? Well if you’re a Verizon customer they already know your calling habits. They know about those late night calls to that cute guy you met at the bar last month. (You know, the one not even your husband is aware of.) They know a lot about where you spend most of your time. (Like that one secret spot you thought you had all to yourself.) If the pattern of privacy invasion continues and they get to know more about you how much information will they find out? — They’ll know about those embarrassing fungal infections you’ve been researching online. They’ll know how much -or rather, how little- you have saved up in your rainy day fund. They’ll know all the flirty one liners you use in internet chat rooms. Of course they won’t find any terrorist activity associated with you…but they’ll get everything else.

unclesambroken

Why this really matters so much:

Ok, so you still don’t care about your privacy. You wouldn’t mind if everything about you was known by some shady bureaucracy. That’s fine.

The most serious problem with what the NSA has done is that it has brazenly violated the Constitution, as a government agency, and may get away with it scott-free. (Note: The ACLU is currently pursuing a law suit against the agency.) The Fourth Amendment, in no uncertain terms, states that “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated,”. I keep quoting that Amendment over and over it seems, but it hasn’t changed since the ink that wrote it dried on the Bill of Rights two centuries ago. We still have our right to be secure and we still are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures. The Amendment continues: “and no Warrants shall issue, except upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the places to be searched and persons or things to be seized.” Secretly gathering personal information from millions of people, without a warrant or even so much as a hint of probable cause is like taking a machete to the Constitution.

Our Constitution is the very foundation of our country. Everything about us rests on its words. We debate its content endlessly, as we should, but it remains the rock on which America builds its successes. On Memorial Day I wrote of the sacrifices made by men and women to preserve our freedom from foreign threats. The Constitution was written as the permanent guard to liberty from enemies within. Enemies that would like to abuse their power to exact control over us. So if the federal government can simply discard the rule of law, paint it as “keeping us safe”, and walk away as if they did nothing wrong, what is the point of having the Constitution in the first place? Why don’t we just let them walk all over it? Arms? Let them come and take my guns. Due process? Come put me in prison for absolutely nothing. Freedom of speech? Bind my lips so that I never utter another word. It is all a bully could hope for.

The molested principle here, is that the highest law in the land has been broken by the highest level of authority. We need to take that authority back for ourselves and put abusive government in its place: under the power of the Constitution of these united States. Then, and only then, will we have an answer for our big bad bully.