Senate panel approves beefed-up oversight of drone attacks including American citizens

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WASHINGTON, Nov 8 (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee has quietly approved a plan to step up both public and internal government oversight of the use of armed drones to kill suspected militants overseas, including American citizens.

The committee voted in closed session earlier this week to approve legislative language that would require U.S. spy agencies to make public statistics on how many people were killed or injured in missile strikes launched from U.S.-operated drones.

The committee also approved language intended to bolster scrutiny of secret spy agency deliberations over decisions about targeting U.S. citizens or residents for lethal drone strikes overseas.

The Obama administration has been under heavy pressure from foreign governments, the United Nations and human rights groups to be more transparent and rigorous in accounting for the civilian casualties caused by drone strikes.

Though the committee did not release full details of its deliberations on the measures, sources familiar with the discussions said that some committee Republicans were opposed to the drone-related clauses in the bill, which would authorize intelligence activities for the current government fiscal year which began on Oct. 1.

Ultimately, according to a press release issued by Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Democrat who chairs the intelligence panel, the committee approved the bill by a vote of 13-2. The two senators who voted against it were Republicans, a congressional source said.

The press release makes no mention of the language in the bill about drones. An official familiar with the matter said that this was because some Republicans argued that, since drone attacks are officially covert actions by the U.S. government, it would be inappropriate to set rules for such operations in a public law.

The Obama administration drastically increased the number of drone strikes after it took office in 2009 but attacks have dropped off in the last year.

Pakistan’s North Waziristan is the area of the most intensive U.S. drone campaign in the world. The United States has also attacked militants in Yemen, Afghanistan and Somalia with drones.

Last month, Pakistan told the United Nations that at least 400 civilians were among the approximately 2,200 people killed by drone strikes in the past decade.

 

ANNUAL REPORT

The bill approved by the committee now must go before the full Senate. The House of Representatives would also have to approve the bill, and the president sign it, for it to become law.

If the language approved by the committee becomes law, once a year the president would be obliged to issue a report setting out the total number of combatants killed or injured in U.S. drone strikes abroad, as well as the number of “non-combatant civilians.”

Exempted from the report would be any drone strikes that were launched in Afghanistan before the end of U.S. combat operations there, which are due to conclude at the end of next year, and any drone strikes conducted in a war explicitly authorized by Congress.

An official familiar with the matter said that Feinstein had been trying, unsuccessfully, to persuade the administration of President Barack Obama to release such information voluntarily.

Administration officials have maintained privately that the numbers of non-combatant civilians killed or injured in U.S. drone strikes against militants have been relatively minimal – in the low dozens. By contrast, respected human rights groups have produced much larger totals.

The bill also would require the director of national intelligence, when considering whether a U.S. citizen or resident should be targeted for a drone strike overseas, to empower a so-called red team to conduct an “independent alternative analysis” of the intelligence that officials have put forward to justify the drone attack.

A second official familiar with this issue said intelligence agencies already follow a secret procedure similar to this, but that the bill would give this procedure more weight.

As far as is publicly known, only one U.S. citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, a militant preacher who allegedly became involved in plotting attacks against U.S. targets while a leader of Al-Qaeda’s Yemen-based affiliate, was ever formally targeted by the United States for a lethal drone attack, though at least a handful of other Americans, including Awlaki’s teenage son, were also reportedly killed by drones.

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Court Says Dad ‘unfit parent for refusing son McDonald’s’

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We are seriously living in the Twilight Zone. How are we letting this kind of thing happen to our once exceptional nation. This article below is from the NYPost.

A Manhattan dad is not lovin’ McDonald’s right now.

Attorney David Schorr slapped a court-appointed shrink with a defamation lawsuit for telling the judge deciding a custody battle with his estranged wife that he was an unfit parent — for refusing to take his son to the fast food joint for dinner.

“You’d think it was sexual molestation,” Schorr, 43, told The Post Thursday. “I am just floored by it.”

Schorr says in his Manhattan Supreme Court suit that E. 97th Street psychiatrist Marilyn Schiller filed a report saying he was “wholly incapable of taking care of his son” and should be denied his weekend visitation over the greasy burger ban.

Schorr, a corporate attorney turned consultant with degrees from NYU and Oxford University, had planned to take his 4-year-old son to their usual restaurant, the Corner Café on Third Avenue, for his weekly Tuesday night visitation last week.

But the boy threw a temper tantrum and demanded McDonald’s. So he gave his son an ultimatum: dinner anywhere other than McDonald’s — or no dinner.

“The child, stubborn as a mule, chose the ‘no dinner’ option,” the disgruntled dad says in the suit.

“It was just a standoff. I’m kicking myself mightily,” Schorr said.

“I wish I had taken him to McDonalds, but you get nervous about rewarding bad behavior. I was concerned. I think it was a 1950s equivalent of sending your child to bed without dinner. That’s maybe the worst thing you can say about it,” he said.

Adding insult to injury, he said: “My wife immediately took him to McDonalds.”

Upon reflection, Schorr said he should have remembered that mother knows best.

“The first thing I did was I questioned myself,” he recalled.

“Had I done something wrong? I did what any 43-year-old Jewish man would do — I told my mother. I said, ‘My God, did I do something wrong here?’

“Even my mother, the strictest mother in the world, said, ‘Why didn’t you just take him to McDonalds? What were you thinking? You know that this is a divorce situation.’”

Before dropping his son off at his wife’s E. 84th Street building, Schorr says he tried to make light of the situation by horsing around with him and trying one last time to change his mind about dinner.

But the son apparently tattled on his dad and his wife flipped out and called the shrink, according to the suit.

Schorr claims that Dr. Schiller only interviewed the child and his mother and never asked for his side of the story before telling the court she was gravely concerned about Schorr’s parenting.

Bari Yunis Schorr sued her husband for a divorce in 2011, just four years after they married in a lavish ceremony at the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan.

She recently filed motions asking the judge to punish her husband for flouting court orders and for a judgment on nonpayment of child support.

Her attorney, Louis I. Newman, declined to comment on the McDonald’s matter.

“It’s a litigation between Mr. Schorr and Mrs. Schiller,” Newman said.

In the past two and a half years that he has had partial custody of his son their time together “has run smoothly without incident” save a scraped knee, Schorr insists in the suit.

He wants the shrink to return the $2,750 he paid for the evaluation.

Dr. Schiller told the Post she could not comment on the details of the incident. She only sad, “I am conducting a forensic evaluation on this matter. I will be issuing a confidential report to the court and the matter will be tried by the court.”

The custody trial resumes in December when the judge will ultimately decide if Schorr is fit to parent his son.

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Obama Brags To Staff That He’s ‘Really Good At Killing People’

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This will not go over well for the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner.

 

According to the new book “Double Down,” in which journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann chronicle the 2012 presidential election, President Barack Obama told his aides that he’s “really good at killing people” while discussing drone strikes.

Peter Hamby of The Washington Post noted the moment in his review of the book.

The reported claim by the commander-in-chief is as indisputable as it is grim.

Obama oversaw the 2009 surge in Afghanistan, 145 Predator drone strikes in NATO’s 2011 Libya operations, the May 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, and drone strikes that killed the Pakistani Taliban leader and a senior member of the Somali-based militant group al-Shabab this week.

His administration also expanded the drone war: There have been 326 drone strikes in Pakistan, 93 in Yemen, and several in Somalia under Obama — upwards of 4,000 people overall — compared to a total of 52 strikes under George Bush.

In 2011 two of those strikes killed American-born al-Qaeda propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki and his American-born, 16-year-old son within two weeks.

Under Obama U.S. drone operators began practicing “signature strikes,” a tactic in which targets are chosen based on patterns of suspicious behavior and the identities of those to be killed aren’t necessarily known. (The administration counts all “military-age males” in a strike zone as combatants.)

Furthermore, the disturbing trend of the “double tap” — bombing the same place in quick succession and often hitting first responders — has become common practice.

Obama has also embraced the expansion of capture/kill missions by Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) after it developed into the primary counterterrorism tool of the Bush administration.

One JSOC operator told investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill, author of “Dirty Wars: The World Is A Battlefield,” that global operations under Obama became “harder, faster, quicker — with the full support of the White House.”

Scahill, who also made a “Dirty Wars” documentary, told NBC News that Obama will “go down in history as the president who legitimized and systematized a process by which the United States asserts the right to conduct assassination operations around the world.”

Needless to say, a lot of innocent people have been killed along with combatants. 

So although President Obama has proven to be “really good at killing people,” the demonstration has not necessarily been noble.

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LAX Shooting: Police trained for ‘exact scenario’ 3 weeks ago. False flag?

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Los Angeles – The rapid police response to today’s deadly shooting at a terminal in the Los Angeles Int’l Airport (LAX) was no accident, according to LAX Police Chief Patrick Gannon, because his officers prepared for an event identical to the shooting weeks in advance.

“We practiced to this not more than 3 weeks ago,” said Gannon at a press conference hours after the shooting. “We took every one of our patrol officers and a couple hundred officers from the Los Angeles Police Department and we practiced the exact scenario we played out today.”

Photographs of the training exercise were published on October 18 on the Facebook page for Team LAX, which is the official sports and events page for the LAX police. The images from the drill show police officers drawing semi-automatic rifles in an simulated attempt to eliminate hostile threats and lead air travelers to safety. Officers at the Ontario, California airport conducted similar active shooter drills earlier in the month.

LAX police officers prepared for the possibility of a shooting at the airport with training exercise...

LAX Police Department
LAX police officers prepared for the possibility of a shooting at the airport with training exercises like those shown in the images above.

According to Gannon, the practice helped ensure that the threat posed by the shooter was neutralized before he could increase the body count. “I was talking to the officers involved in this particular incident a few minutes ago, and they said that that training was critical to how they responded to this,” he added.

This isn’t the first time that a gunman has opened fire inside an LAX terminal. In July 2002, Egyptian national Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, a member of the Muslim brotherhood, shot and killed 2 people at the El Al Airlines ticket counter at LAX and wounded four others before El Al security officer Chaim Sapir gunned him down.

The connection between today’s airport shooting and the drills that preceded it is also reminiscent of the circumstances surrounding the 7/7 London transit bombing in 2005. Hours after the attack, British crisis management specialist Peter Power told ITV news that his company, Visor Consultants, was performing a simulation of the bombing of the London subway and bus system at the same time as the real incident occurred. “We based our scenario on the simultaneous attacks on the underground and mainline station,” he explained, “so we had to suddenly switch an exercise from fictional to real.” The company that Visor was consulting for at the time of the bombing has not been disclosed.

Uploaded by Dahboo 777

urban-shield-drills

That picture is from a PDF file of operation Urban Shield where they are training for these types of situations. Isn’t strange every time they have a drill there is either on the same day or just a little while later an event of the same nature? Just like the Boston bombing, they were having a “drill” that same very day. Is this event a False Flag? Not sure yet, as time progresses more information will surface, but there sure is an attack on the Second Amendment.

source of the original article. 

School Test Teaches Kids: “Commands Of Government Officials Must Be Obeyed By All”

OBEY-YOUR-GOVERNMENT-TRUTHCHANNEL

A parent of a ten year old was shocked to discover a grammar and writing test paper that their child brought home from school reads more like document from an authoritarian country such as China.

The parent sent a portion of the test paper to Infowars, revealing that it contains sentences such as “The commands of government officials must be obeyed by all.”

The paper uses such sentences and asks school children to replace certain words in order to make the sentence contain a possessive noun.

Others within the paper include:

“The job of a president is not easy.”

“He makes sure the laws of the country are fair”

“The wants of an individual are less important than the needs of a nation”

Here is the portion of the paper Infowars received:

Upon further investigation it appears that the paper is part of a set produced by Pearson Education, a global corporation that provides education publishing and assessment services to schools in the US and the rest of the world. Pearson is the world’s largest for-profit education business.

The particular sentence about everyone obeying government commands appears in other Pearson papers, such as this fifth grade grammar test.

According to the company’s Wikipedia page and its website, Pearson owns leading educational media brands including Addison–Wesley, BBC Active, Bug Club, eCollege, Fronter, Longman, MyEnglishLab, Penguin Readers, Prentice Hall, Poptropica and Financial Times Press. Pearson is part of Pearson PLC, which also owns Penguin Books and the Financial Times.

In 2010, Pearson also negotiated a 5 year, $32 million, contract with the New York State Department of Education to design tests for students in grades 4-8.

Some have criticized the company’s test papers. Last year papers designed for NYSED were found to contain over 30 errors. Writing for the New York Times, Gail Collins noted:

“We have turned school testing into a huge corporate profit center, led by Pearson, for whom $32 million is actually pretty small potatoes. Pearson has a five-year testing contract with Texas that’s costing the state taxpayers nearly half-a-billion dollars.”

Collins outlines the fact that Pearson is being contracted under the controversial No Child Left Behind program set up by the government in 2001:

“This is the part of education reform nobody told you about. You heard about accountability, and choice, and innovation. But when No Child Left Behind was passed 11 years ago, do you recall anybody mentioning that it would provide monster profits for the private business sector?”

Collins continues:

“[Pearson’s] lobbyists include the guy who served as the top White House liaison with Congress on drafting the No Child law. It has its own nonprofit foundation that sends state education commissioners on free trips overseas to contemplate school reform.”

Ah… all becomes clear. Government contracted education papers telling children that they must obey the commands of the government. Nice.

Along with enforcing government mandated rules such as banning packed lunches, this will be seen by many as yet another example of how the nanny state is encroaching via the public education system.

It’s a concept also being promoted by the mass media. Earlier this year, MSNBC ran a segment pushing the notion that kids belong to the “collective,” and that the “idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families” should be eliminated.

These revelations also remind one of Common Core, federally mandated education principles, which are effectively dumbing down students by standardizing education across the board and shutting out diversity in teaching.

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WHY IS GOVERNMENT STOCKPILING GUNS, AMMO?

gov-stock-pile-of-ammo-guns

WND EXCLUSIVE:

Is the U.S. government getting ready for a war we don’t know about?

And, if that’s why Washington is stockpiling massive amounts of ammunition (hollow points, by the way), why is Homeland Security doing the buying instead of the Defense Department?

I have some theories.

Many of you will remember a story I broke a long time ago – about presidential candidate Barack Obama’s little-noticed announcement that, if elected in 2008, he wanted to create a “civilian national security force” as big, as strong and as well-funded as the Defense Department.

Here’s what he actually said at a campaign stop in Colorado July 2, 2008: “We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.”

Could what we see happening now in the Department of Homeland Security be the beginning of Obama’s dream and our constitutional nightmare?

We’ve learned more about Obama’s vision since then. Maybe it’s time for a review:

  • He made the campaign promise to build this $439 billion domestic army, but all references to the initiative were inexplicably deleted from the copy of his speech posted on his website while others mysteriously disappeared from transcripts of the speech distributed by the campaign. That was strange – and ominous.
  • At the time, I had never heard anyone use the phrase “civilian national security force” before. But I did a little homework and found out where it originated. It was first proposed by then Bush administration Defense Secretary Robert Gates. On that basis alone, I accurately predicted that, if elected, Obama would name Gates as his own defense secretary. Needless to say, when that appointment came to pass, no media outlet bothered to interview me about my foresight.
  • Still during the campaign of 2008, I suggested that what Obama had in mind might be something very sinister indeed – perhaps “some kind of domestic Big Brother program.”

We never heard another mention of Obama’s “civilian national security force” again. Not in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 or 2012.

But that brings us up to 2013 and the highly unusual stockpiling of firearms and ammo by Homeland Security – firearms and ammo that Obama would like to deny to ordinary citizens who are not members of his domestic army.

Well, I hate to say it, but I may have predicted this, too.

In a Halloween column last fall, I stated that, if re-elected, Obama would “declare a full-scale war on his domestic opposition.”

I wasn’t joking. I was deadly serious – so serious, in fact, that I did something I pledged I would never do: Vote for Mitt Romney. It was a matter of self-defense and self-preservation. I said then that a second term of Obama might mean we would never see another free and fair election in America. (I’m not even sure we saw one in 2012.) I suggested due process would go the way of the horse and buggy. I said I expected Obama would move to shut down or destroy all independent media. I even speculated that his biggest critics would eventually be rounded up in the name of national security.

Think about it.

Why does the civilian Department of Homeland Security need billions of rounds of ammunition?

This is the agency that is responsible for policing the border. But it doesn’t.

This is the agency that is responsible for catching terrorists. But it doesn’t.

So why does Homeland Security need so many weapons and enough hollow-point rounds to plug every American six times?

Maybe this is the “civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded” as the Defense Department.

These words – “civilian national security force” – have haunted me ever since I first read them.

Obama has never explained what he meant.

He’s never been called to account for that remark.

Doesn’t this sound like police-state talk to you?

The U.S. Army alone has nearly 500,000 troops. That doesn’t count reserves or National Guard. In 2007, the U.S. defense budget was $439 billion. No one knows what the budget is today because Congress stopped passing budgets when Obama took office.

Is Obama serious about creating some kind of domestic security force bigger and more expensive than that? Is this part of his second-term agenda?

He has also set up, as I have reported, a new homeland security bureaucracy to operate under his own direction.

I think it’s worth recalling here that just over a year ago both houses of Congress unwisely passed the defense reauthorization bill that killed the concept of habeas corpus – legislation that authorized the president to use the U.S. military to arrest and indefinitely detain American citizens without charge or trial.

That legislation would empower a lame-duck Obama to use all of the power of the federal government – constitutional and unconstitutional – to target his political enemies.

If any Republican, conservative, independent journalist, pro-life activist, returning veteran, gun-rights activist, constitutionalist, Bible believer or critic of Obama thinks they will be safe in a second term under this would-be despot, they had better think again – real fast.

The “civilian national security force” is not here to protect any of them. It’s here to destroy the opposition. It’s here to destroy liberty. It’s here to destroy the Constitution.
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Obama preparing country for coup against Constitution

we the people

During his October 3rd radio broadcast, conservative host and author Mark Levin warned his listeners that President Obama is moving beyond the current partial government shutdown and on to the debt ceiling. As he campaigns against Republicans, Obama is creating fear among those on government support programs and even in the financial markets, that Tea Party “extremists” will allow the government to “default,” paving the way for low-information Americans to support him as he bypasses Congress and unilaterally takes control of the country’s economy:

Default, default, default…why is he saying that? Just to scare people? Well, that’s part of it, obviously. But, it’s more than that, ladies and gentlemen. Barack Obama is plotting, that if he can’t get what he wants out of the House Republicans, that if he can’t get his Plan A, and get Boehner and the Republicans to buckle – not just on the Continuing Resolution – but on the debt ceiling, then he’s got his Plan B.

His Plan B is the most egregious attack on our Constitution by a President, not just in modern history, but in all our history, if, in fact, he unleashes it…

Levin said that, urged on by Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Bill Clinton, Obama is primed to bypass Congress, “to raise the debt ceiling unilaterally as President of the United States, using the 14th Amendment as a fig leaf, to seize from Congress the power of the purse.”

Observing that Obama is already calling for liberal ideologues and academics to provide cover for his plan, Levin noted a recent New York Times op-ed by Henry J. Aaron, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who point-blank recommends that Obama should “ignore the debt ceiling,” since doing so is the “least bad” law for him to break.

Under the dubious premise that the United States will default on its debts, and thereby incur a “full-blown constitutional crisis,” should the debt ceiling not be raised, Aaron writes that he agrees with Columbia Law professors Neil H. Buchanan and Michael C. Dorf whoargued that Obama’s disregard of the debt ceiling would be less incriminating than placing the nation in “default.” Aaron primes the courts as well for the ultimate plan:

In this case, the consequences are so overwhelmingly on one side that they cannot be ignored by the president and should not be ignored by the courts. If the debt ceiling is not increased, the president should disregard it, and honor spending and tax legislation.

A decision to cut spending enough to avoid borrowing would instantaneously slash outlays by approximately $600 billion a year. Cutting payments to veterans, Social Security benefits and interest on the national debt by half would just about do the job. But such cuts would not only illegally betray promises to veterans, the elderly and disabled and bondholders; they would destroy the credit standing of the United States and boost borrowing costs on the nation’s $12 trillion publicly held debt.

As Romina Boccia at the Heritage Foundation wrote recently, however, refusing an immediate hike in the debt limit does not automatically translate into the “crisis” that Obama and his supporters would like Americans to embrace:

If Congress does not raise the debt limit by mid-October, the Treasury would not necessarily default on debt obligations. Even while cash-strapped, the Treasury can reasonably be expected to prioritize principal and interest payments on the national debt, protecting the full faith and credit of the United States above all other spending. It is almost impossible to conceive that the Treasury and the President would choose to default on debt obligations because doing so would have damaging economic consequences.

Cuts in discretionary spending and reform of entitlement programs – beginning with the repeal of ObamaCare, yet a new entitlement – are the ways Congress can place the nation’s budget on a path to balance, says Boccia.

Aaron, however, using a frame of reference that asserts the U.S. is currently in an “economic recovery,” writes that spending cuts cannot be made because it is simply too difficult to decide which programs or education grants to limit.

“No matter how the cuts might be distributed, they would, if sustained for more than a very brief period, kill the economic recovery and cause unemployment to return quickly to double digits,” he writes.

In the end, Levin asserts, Obama is already campaigning and priming the country for his coup of the Constitution, the ultimate “fundamental transformation” of the nation as he has promised:

So, it is he who is prepared to extort and blackmail in ways that most of you, and most of my colleagues in this business can’t even imagine, or don’t even understand. And, if the President of the United States unilaterally lifts the debt ceiling, you can kiss the core functions of Congress goodbye, you can kiss this Republic goodbye, once and for all. And, then, I think, the focus can be on the Liberty Amendments.

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Snowden: No US Call Made ‘without leaving a record with the NSA’

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National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden on Thursday disputed Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) claim that the government’s phone record collection program is not “surveillance.”

“Today, no telephone in America makes a call without leaving a record with the NSA. Today, no Internet transaction enters or leaves America without passing through the NSA’s hands,” Snowden said in a statement Thursday.

“Our representatives in Congress tell us this is not surveillance. They’re wrong.”

Snowden didn’t mention Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, by name, but she has said repeatedly that the NSA’s program to collect records on all U.S. phone calls is not a surveillance program.

“The call-records program is not surveillance,” she wrote in an op-ed in USA Today this week. “It does not collect the content of any communication, nor do the records include names or locations.”

She said the NSA only collects phone numbers, call times and call durations.

“The Supreme Court has held this ‘metadata’ is not protected under the Fourth Amendment,” Feinstein wrote, referring to the court’s 1972 decision in Smith v. Maryland.

The existence of the phone record collection program was one the most controversial revelations from Snowden’s leaks earlier this year. Many lawmakers, including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), have expressed outrage that the NSA is collecting records on millions of Americans not under any suspicion of wrongdoing.

Snowden provided his statement to the American Civil Liberties Union to promote a rally the group is holding on Saturday along with other civil liberties groups in Washington.

“Now it’s time for the government to learn from us,” said Snowden, who is currently living in Russia.

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BREAKING NEWS: NSA site down due to alleged DDoS attack

NSA site down due to alleged DDoS attack

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Screenshot from nsa.gov

Screenshot from nsa.gov

The website for the United States National Security Agency suddenly went offline Friday.

NSA.gov has been unavailable globally as of late Friday afternoon, and Twitter accounts belonging to people loosely affiliated with the Anonymous hacktivism movement have suggested they are responsible.

Twitter users @AnonymousOwn3r and @TruthIzSexy both were quick to comment on the matter, and implied that a distributed denial-of-service attack, or DDoS, may have been waged as an act of protest against the NSA

Allegations that those users participated in the DDoS — a method of over-loading a website with too much traffic — are currently unverified, and @AnonymousOwn3r has previously taken credit for downing websites in a similar fashion, although those claims have been largely contested.

The crippling of NSA.gov comes amid a series of damning national security documents that have been disclosed without authorization by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. The revelations in the leaked documents have impassioned people around the globe outraged by evidence of widespread surveillance operated by the NSA, and a massive “Stop Watching Us” rally is scheduled for Saturday in Washington, DC.

DDoS attacks are illegal in the United States under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, or CFAA, and two cases are currently underway in California and Virginia in which federal judges are weighing in on instances in which members of Anonymous allegedly used the technique to take down an array of sites during anti-copyright campaigns waged by the group in 2010 and 2011. In those cases, so-called hacktivsits are reported to have conspired together to send immense loads of traffic to targeted websites, rendering them inaccessible due to the overload.

source: RT

Americans Have Lost VIRTUALLY ALL of Our Constitutional Rights

https://i2.wp.com/www.theispot.com/images/source/FredaLibertyUpended1.jpg 
Painting by Anthony Freda: www.AnthonyFreda.com

This post explains the liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights – the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution – and provides a scorecard on the extent of the loss of each right.  (This is an updated version of an essay we wrote in February.  Unfortunately, a lot of information has come out since then.)

First Amendment

The 1st Amendment protects speech, religion, assembly and the press:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The Supreme Court has also interpreted the First Amendment as protecting freedom of association.
However, the government is arresting those speaking out … and violently crushing peaceful assemblies which attempt to petition the government for redress.
A federal judge found that the law allowing indefinite detention of Americans without due process has a “chilling effect” on free speech. And see this and this.
There are also enacted laws allowing the secret service to arrest anyone protesting near the president or other designated folks (that might explain incidents like this).
Mass spying by the NSA violates our freedom of association.
The threat of being labeled a terrorist for exercising our First Amendment rights certainly violates the First Amendment. The government is using laws to crush dissent, and it’s gotten so bad that even U.S. Supreme Court justices are saying that we are descending into tyranny.

For example, the following actions may get an American citizen living on U.S. soil labeled as a “suspected terrorist” today:

And holding the following beliefs may also be considered grounds for suspected terrorism:

Of course, Muslims are more or less subject to a separate system of justice in America.
And 1st Amendment rights are especially chilled when power has become so concentrated that the same agency which spies on all Americans also decides who should be assassinated.

Second Amendment

The 2nd Amendment states:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Gun control and gun rights advocates obviously have very different views about whether guns are a force for violence or for good.
But even a top liberal Constitutional law expert reluctantly admits that the right to own a gun is as important a Constitutional right as freedom of speech or religion:

Like many academics, I was happy to blissfully ignore the Second Amendment. It did not fit neatly into my socially liberal agenda.

***

It is hard to read the Second Amendment and not honestly conclude that the Framers intended gun ownership to be an individual right. It is true that the amendment begins with a reference to militias: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Accordingly, it is argued, this amendment protects the right of the militia to bear arms, not the individual.

Yet, if true, the Second Amendment would be effectively declared a defunct provision. The National Guard is not a true militia in the sense of the Second Amendment and, since the District and others believe governments can ban guns entirely, the Second Amendment would be read out of existence.

***

More important, the mere reference to a purpose of the Second Amendment does not alter the fact that an individual right is created. The right of the people to keep and bear arms is stated in the same way as the right to free speech or free press. The statement of a purpose was intended to reaffirm the power of the states and the people against the central government. At the time, many feared the federal government and its national army. Gun ownership was viewed as a deterrent against abuse by the government, which would be less likely to mess with a well-armed populace.

Considering the Framers and their own traditions of hunting and self-defense, it is clear that they would have viewed such ownership as an individual right — consistent with the plain meaning of the amendment.

None of this is easy for someone raised to believe that the Second Amendment was the dividing line between the enlightenment and the dark ages of American culture. Yet, it is time to honestly reconsider this amendment and admit that … here’s the really hard part … the NRA may have been right.This does not mean that Charlton Heston is the new Rosa Parks or that no restrictions can be placed on gun ownership. But it does appear that gun ownership was made a protected right by the Framers and, while we might not celebrate it, it is time that we recognize it.

The gun control debate – including which weapons and magazines are banned – is still in flux …

Third Amendment

The 3rd Amendment prohibits the government forcing people to house soldiers:

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

While a recent lawsuit by a Nevada family – covered by (Mother JonesFox News and Courthouse News – alleges violation of the Third Amendment, this appears to be an isolated incident and an aberration.
So we’ll count this as an Amendment which is still being honored! Score one for We the People!

 In America, Journalists Are Considered Terrorists
Painting by Anthony Freda: www.AnthonyFreda.com.

Fourth Amendment

The 4th Amendment prevents unlawful search and seizure:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

But the government is spying on everything we do … without any real benefit or justification.
Indeed, experts say that the type of spying being carried out by the NSA and other agencies is exactly the kind of thing which King George imposed on the American colonists … which led to the Revolutionary War.
And many Constitutional experts – such as Jonathan Turley – think that the police went too far in Boston with lockdowns and involuntary door-to-door searches.


Paintings by Anthony Freda: www.AnthonyFreda.com.

Fifth Amendment

The 5th Amendment addresses due process of law, eminent domain, double jeopardy and grand jury:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

But the American government has shredded the 5th Amendment by subjecting us to indefinite detention and taking away our due process rights.
The government claims the right to assassinate or indefinitely detain any American citizen on U.S. citizen without any due process. And see this.
As such, the government is certainly depriving people of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.
There are additional corruptions of 5th Amendment rights – such as property being taken for private purposes.
The percentage of prosecutions in which a defendant is denied a grand jury is difficult to gauge, as there is so much secrecy surrounding many terrorism trials.
Protection against being tried twice for the same crime after being found innocent (“double jeopardy”) seems to be intact.  Hey … that’s two Constitutional rights which are still intact!

HUNG LIBERTY (NYSE)Image by William Banzai

Sixth Amendment

The 6th Amendment guarantees the right to hear the criminal charges levied against us and to be able to confront the witnesses who have testified against us, as well as speedy criminal trials, and a public defender for those who cannot hire an attorney:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to beconfronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Subjecting people to indefinite detention or assassination obviously violates the 6th Amendment right to a jury trial. In both cases, the defendants is “disposed of” without ever receiving a trial … and often without ever hearing the charges against them.
More and more commonly, the government prosecutes cases based upon “secret evidence” that they don’t show to the defendant … or sometimes even the judge hearing the case.
The government uses “secret evidence” to spy on Americans, prosecute leaking or terrorism charges (even against U.S. soldiers) and even assassinate people. And see thisand this.
Secret witnesses are being used in some cases. And sometimes lawyers are not even allowed to read their own briefs.
Indeed, even the laws themselves are now starting to be kept secret. And it’s about to get a lot worse.
True – when defendants are afforded a jury trial – they are provided with assistance of counsel. However, the austerity caused by redistribution of wealth to the super-elite is causing severe budget cuts to the courts and the public defenders’ offices nationwide.
Moreover, there are two systems of justice in America … one for the big banks and other fatcats, and one for everyone else. The government made it official policy not to prosecute fraud, even though fraud is the main business model adopted by Wall Street. Indeed, the biggest financial crime in world history, the largest insider trading scandal of all time, illegal raiding of customer accounts and blatant financing of drug cartels and terrorists have all been committed recently without any real criminal prosecution or jail time.
On the other hand, government prosecutors are using the legal system to crush dissent and to silence whistleblowers.
And some of the nation’s most powerful judges have lost their independence … and are in bed with the powers-that-be.

Seventh Amendment

The 7th Amendment guarantees trial by jury in federal court for civil cases:

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

As far as we know, this right is still being respected (that’s three rights still being followed).
However – as noted above – the austerity caused by redistribution of wealth to the super-elite is causing severe budget cuts to the courts, resulting in the wheels of justice slowing down considerably.

Painting by Anthony Freda: www.AnthonyFreda.com

Eighth Amendment

The 8th Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment:

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Indefinite detention and assassination are obviously cruel and unusual punishment.
The widespread system of torture carried out in the last 10 years – with the help of other countries – violates the 8th Amendment. Many want to bring it back … or at leastjustify its past use.
While Justice Scalia disingenuously argues that torture does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment because it is meant to produce information – not punish – he’s wrong. It’s not only cruel and unusual … it is technically a form of terrorism.
And government whistleblowers are being cruelly and unusually punished with unduly harsh sentences meant to intimidate anyone else from speaking out.

Ninth Amendment

The 9th Amendment provides that people have other rights, even if they aren’t specifically listed in the Constitution:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

We can debate what our inherent rights as human beings are. I believe they include the right to a level playing field, and access to non-toxic food and water. You may disagree.
But everyone agrees that the government should not actively encourage fraud and manipulation. However, the government – through its malignant, symbiotic relation with big corporations – is interfering with our aspirations for economic freedomsafe food and water (instead of arsenic-laden, genetically engineered junk), freedom from undue health hazards such as irradiation due to government support of archaic nuclear power designs, and a level playing field (as opposed to our crony capitalist system in which the little guy has no shot due to redistribution of wealth from the middle class to the super-elite, and government support of white collar criminals).
By working hand-in-glove with giant corporations to defraud us into paying for a lower quality of life, the government is trampling our basic rights as human beings.

Tenth Amendment

The 10th Amendment provides that powers not specifically given to the Federal government are reserved to the states or individual:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Two of the central principles of America’s Founding Fathers are:

(1) The government is created and empowered with the consent of the people
and

(2) Separation of powers

Today, most Americans believe that the government is threatening – rather than protecting – freedom.  We’ve become more afraid of our government than of terrorists, and believe that the government is no longer acting with the “consent of the governed“.
And the federal government is trampling the separation of powers by stepping on the toes of the states and the people. For example, former head S&L prosecutor Bill Black – now a professor of law and economics – notes:

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the resident examiners and regional staff of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency [both] competed to weaken federal regulation and aggressively used the preemption doctrine to try to prevent state investigations of and actions against fraudulent mortgage lenders.

Indeed, the federal government is doing everything it can to stick its nose into every aspect of our lives … and act like Big Brother.
Conclusion: While a few of the liberties enshrined in the Bill of Rights still exist, the vast majority are under heavy assault.

Other Constitutional Provisions … and The Declaration of Independence

In addition to the trampling of the Bill of Rights, the government has also trashed the separation of powers enshrined in the main body of the Constitution.
The government is also engaging in activities which the Founding Fathers fought against, such as taxation without representation (here and here), cronyismdeference to central banks, etc.
As thethe preamble to the Declaration of Independence shows, the American government is still carrying out many of the acts the Founding Fathers found most offensive:

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures. [Background]

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power. [Background herehere and here]

***

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation: [Background]

***

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences [Background]

***

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation. [Background]

***

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

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