Published on 06-10-2013 06:28 PM
Number of Views: 517
Snowden Has a Few Defenders on the Hill
Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old defense contractor who leaked details on the National Security Agency’s phone and data surveillance programs, faces numerous calls from powerful members of Congress for his prosecution. But a few not-so-powerful members think he should go free — and more are calling for changes in the law.
“I’m not a lawyer, but based on what I know so far, I don’t think he should be prosecuted,” Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massie, a self-styled libertarian, told CQ Roll Call on Monday. “If someone reports illegal activity as a whistle-blower, they shouldn’t be prosecuted.
“Whether or not this program was authorized by Congress, it seems to me that this is an unconstitutional activity,” he continued, “which would make it illegal, and he should have some kind of immunity.”
Massie said the first step was seeing whether relevant amendments could be considered in relation to the National Defense Authorization Act of fiscal 2014, set for House floor consideration later this week. The next step, he said, could be through the introduction of formal legislation.
Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., was taking the lead on the initiative, Massie continued, and Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., was helping push an amendment that would specifically prohibit Americans to be detained indefinitely if they are suspected to be involved in supporting terrorist activities.
Massie said the amendment could be linked to the possible repercussions Snowden might face for disclosing classified information to the press.
Published on 06-07-2013 12:22 AM
Number of Views: 866
Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul condemned reports that the Obama Administration is secretly collecting data from the phone calls of millions of Americans:
“I wish I could say I was shocked at the reports the NSA is secretly spying on the private phone calls of millions of Verizon customers. However, this is a predictable result of a government that continues to erode our liberties while promising some glimmering hope of security.
“The Fourth Amendment is clear; it says we should be secure in our persons, houses, papers and effects, and that all warrants must have probable cause.
“I opposed and continue to oppose the Patriot Act because I believe it throws the Fourth Amendment right out the window. It is certainly not patriotic to support warrantless wiretaps, blanket ‘metadata’ collection, and spying on innocent American citizens.
“Unfortunately, what is worse than the reports, is knowing that politicians of both parties will continue to defend this practice as necessary to supposedly keep us ‘safe’. We do not have to sacrifice our liberties for security. At times like this, the question must be asked, ‘if we are willing to change our way of life and our very definition of freedom while tolerating the invasive searches at our airports and now of our phone calls, have the terrorists already won?’”
Under CISPA, any company can “use cybersecurity systems to identify and obtain cyber threat information to protect the rights and property” of the company, and then share that information with third parties, including the government, so long as it is for “cybersecurity purposes.” Whenever these prerequisites are met, CISPA is written broadly enough to permit your communications service providers to share your emails and text messages with the government, or your cloud storage company could share your stored files.
Right now, well-established laws like the Cable Communications Policy Act, the Wiretap Act, the Video Privacy Protection Act, and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act provide judicial oversight and other privacy protections that prevent companies from unnecessarily sharing your private information, including the content of your emails.
And these laws expressly allow lawsuits against companies that go too far in divulging your private information. CISPA threatens these protections by declaring that key provisions in CISPA are effective “notwithstanding any other law,” a phrase that essentially means CISPA would override the relevant provisions in all other laws—including privacy laws. CISPA also creates a broad immunity for companies against both civil and criminal liability. CISPA provides more legal cover for companies to share large swaths of potentially personal and private information with the government."
Some of the objectionable provisions within CISPA:
"- Eviscerating existing privacy laws by giving overly broad legal immunity to companies who share users' private information, including the content of communications, with the government.
- Authorizing companies to disclose users’ data directly to the NSA, a military agency that operates secretly and without public accountability.
- Broad definitions that allow users’ sensitive personal information to be used for a range of purposes as long as it pertains to "cybersecurity"."
The dramatic recent events in Cyprus have highlighted the fundamental weakness in the European banking system and the extreme fragility of fractional reserve banking. Cypriot banks invested heavily in Greek sovereign debt, and last summer's Greek debt restructuring resulted in losses equivalent to more than 25 percent of Cyprus' GDP. These banks then took their bad investments to the government, demanding a bailout from an already beleaguered Cypriot treasury. The government of Cyprus then turned to the European Union (EU) for a bailout.
The terms insisted upon by the troika (European Commission, European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund) before funding the bailout were nothing short of highway robbery. While bank depositors have traditionally been protected in the event of bankruptcy or liquidation, the troika insisted that all bank depositors pay a tax of between 6.75 and 10 percent of their total deposits to help fund the bailout.
While one can sympathize with EU taxpayers not wanting to fund yet another bailout of a poorly-managed banking system, forcing the Cypriot people to pay for the foolish risks taken by their government and bankers is also criminal. In their desire to punish a “tax haven” catering supposedly to Russian oligarchs, the EU elites ensured that ordinary citizens would suffer just as much as foreign depositors. Imagine the reaction if in September 2008, the US government had financed its $700 billion bank bailout by directly looting American taxpayers' bank accounts!
While the Cypriot parliament rejected that first proposal, they will have no say in the final proposal delivered by the EU and IMF: deposits over 100,000 euros are likely to see losses of at least 40 percent and possibly as much as 80 percent. “Temporary” capital controls that were supposed to last for days will now last at least a month and might remain in effect for years.
Especially affected have been the elderly, who were unable to use ATMs or to transfer money electronically. Despite the fact that ATMs severely limited the size of withdrawals during the two week-long bank closure, reports indicated that account holders who had access to Cypriot bank branches in London and Athens were able to withdraw most of their funds, leading to speculation that there would be no money available when banks finally opened up again. In other words, the supposed Russian oligarch money may well be already gone.
Remember that under a fractional reserve banking system only a small percentage of deposits is kept on hand for dispersal to depositors. The rest of the money is loaned out. Not only are many of the loans made by these banks going bad, but the reserve requirement in Euro-system countries is only one percent! If just one euro out of every hundred is withdrawn from banks, the bank reserves would be completely exhausted and the whole system would collapse. Is it any wonder, then, that the EU fears a major bank run and has shipped billions of euros to Cyprus?
The elites in the EU and IMF failed to learn their lesson from the popular backlash to these tax proposals, and have openly talked about using Cyprus as a template for future bank bailouts. This raises the prospect of raids on bank accounts, pension funds, and any investments the government can get its hands on. In other words, no one's money is safe in any financial institution in Europe. Bank runs are now a certainty in future crises, as the people realize that they do not really own the money in their accounts. How long before bureaucrat and banker try that here?
Unfortunately, all of this is the predictable result of a fiat paper money system combined with fractional reserve banking. When governments and banks collude to monopolize the monetary system so that they can create money out of thin air, the result is a business cycle that wreaks havoc on the economy. Pyramiding more and more loans on top of a tiny base of money will create an economic house of cards just waiting to collapse. The situation in Cyprus should be both a lesson and a warning to the United States. We need to end the Federal Reserve, stay away from propping up the euro, and return to a sound monetary system.
When John Kerry was confirmed as Secretary of State last week his first promise was to bring “new ideas” to the job. Particularly, he promised a new approach to the two-year long civil war in Syria. He immediately set out on a “listening tour” of Europe and the Middle East, presumably to help formulate those new ideas.
So what was Kerry’s big “new idea” on Syria? Drag the United States further into the conflict by promising to send the rebels an additional $60 million in aid. Only among the Washington foreign policy establishment could a promise to redouble efforts on an old idea be repackaged as a “new idea.” New ideas, old ideas, new approaches, improved approaches – they always seem to be the same thing: calls for more US intervention in conflicts thousands of miles away that have nothing to do with us.
The Kerry plan is to overtly provide more medical and food aid to armed insurgents seeking to overthrow the Syrian government. In directly assisting rebels with material that will help them fight more effectively, the US is signaling its new role as an open participant in the conflict. Can US weapons and troops be too far behind? The administration hopes that none of the aid it provides to US-backed rebels falls into the hands of other groups like the radical Islamist al-Nusra Front, which the US has designated a terrorist group. Yet according to press reports there is little separation on the ground between the various groups. It seems unreasonable to believe that assistance provided to one group will not wind up in the hands of another group.
Both Iraq and Libya have turned out to be far more radical and dangerous after their “liberation” that was supposed to usher in governments friendly to the United States. Does it make any sense to believe that Syria will be any different?
Kerry’s new ideas are actually old ideas, and they have over and over been proven to be bad ideas. Just as President Obama has shown that his foreign policy is more aggressive and warmongering than that of his predecessor, the new more “moderate” secretary of state shows us that he has every intention of furthering the notion that diplomacy flows from the barrel of a gun. Our interventionist foreign policy is bankrupting the country and turning the world against us. It must come to an end.
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