KEEPING WATCH : BELIEVE IT OR NOT.... HERE IT COMES
NATIONAL — 8/9/2013
An encrypted email service believed to have been used by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden shut down abruptly on Thursday amid a legal fight that appeared to involve U.S. government attempts to win access to customer information.
The owner of Lavabit, Ladar Levison, wrote a message online saying, "I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people, or walk away from nearly 10 years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit." Levison said he was barred from discussing the events over the past six weeks that led to his decision. (emphasis added)
Levison went on to write:"This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would strongly recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States." Later on Thursday, another secure email provider called Silent Circle also announced it was shutting down.
From the Guardian:
"(Ron)Wyden, an Oregon Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, has obliquely warned for months that the NSA's retention of Americans' communications incidentally collected and its ability to search through it has been far more extensive than intelligence officials have stated publicly. Speaking this week, Wyden told the Guardian it amounts to a "backdoor search" through Americans' communications data."
Wyden said. "Section 702 was intended to give the government new authorities to collect the communications of individuals believed to be foreigners outside the US, but the intelligence community has been unable to tell Congress how many Americans have had their communications swept up in that collection."
"Once Americans' communications are collected, a gap in the law that I call the 'back-door searches loophole' allows the government to potentially go through these communications and conduct warrantless searches for the phone calls or emails of law-abiding Americans."
The Guardian went on to say that "Wyden, along with his intelligence committee colleague Mark Udall, have attempted repeatedly to warn publicly about the ability of the intelligence community to look at the communications of US citizens, but are limited by their obligation not to reveal highly classified information." (emphasis added)
It does appear that Congress has muted the capacity of its members to tell the American People the truth about Congressionally approved violations of our civil liberties.
It should not have taken a Bradley or a Snowden to get the truth out... but it did. Congress has not only passed laws to infringe on our civil liberties but it has passed laws against telling the People what the government is up to.
It is those laws, laws that make the exposure of governmental violations of our Constitution liberties against the law, that have made heroes out of those who break the law to steal and expose the secrets of the elected officials who have betrayed Us.
Jimmy Carter's statement that We do not currently have a functional democracy continues to echo across the land.
So now We turn to each Other, looking for a glimmer in each Other's eyes of what it is that has made America a truly great nation.
Made In America - one Nation, of... for... and by... the People. Freedom: We buy it.... pay for it.... demand it... use it.... or lose it!
8/7/2013 US FAILS TO EXTRADITE CRIMINALS
According to Glen Greenwald:
"The US constantly refuses requests to extradite - even where (unlike Russia) they have an extradition treaty with the requesting country and even where (unlike Snowden) the request involves actual, serious crimes, such as genocide, kidnapping, and terrorism. Maybe those facts should be part of whatever media commentary there is on Putin's refusal to extradite Snowden and Obama's rather extreme reaction to it."
Constantly may be harsh, but "repeatedly" would be fair and the point is well made.
To see examples that support Glen's observation visit:
8/7/2013 THE MOTIVE FOR THE MURDER OF CHRIS STEVENS
Infighting and turf wars between Islamists groups as well as between US government agencies cannot, at this point, be ruled out of the equation of what went wrong in Benghazi.
Those who know the truth but refuse to share it, continue to contribute to our confusion. We must not simply follow after the confusion or walk away shaking our heads, but rather We must use being confused to our advantage. There are those who know what went down in Benghazi and they are seeking to keep us confused. That is something We do know and something We very much need to know and to process.
That those who are elected to serve Us, to represent our interests, work to confuse Us may very well be the most valuable information to come out of the whole mess. Then We can appreciate that We have a stake in their retirement and in demanding transparency and accountability in government across all levels.
8/6/2013 Breaking News
Great news and it could hardly be more timely. The US has filed charges against someone in connection with the Benghazi murders.
"But word of the development comes as the Justice Department has come in for sharp criticism from congressional lawmakers about the pace and progress of the investigation."
"It couldn't be learned when the United States plans to announce the charges or whether there is any intention to try to detain Khattala or the others.
None of those briefed on the matter would discuss the precise counts."
Ahmed Abu Khattalah is accused of having played a key role in the attack, according to officials who spoke to US media, although authorities did not confirm whether he had yet been arrested. The US Department of Justice has so far declined to comment on the matter.
Ok, so it is only a tremor, certainly no earth quake, but it is an indication that the impatience of the People, especially Republicans in Congress, with the lies they have been fed about what went on in Benghazi is registering on the political seismograph in the White House. We wait now to see what falls off the shelf next. In the mean time journalists can be expected to re-double their efforts as we must continue to wonder why Islamists would attack an operation that helped them overthrow Gadhafi and was involved in sending arms (and mercenaries?) to Islamists in Syria. For now, the question is not, did some Islamists attack, but why?
Good liars carefully compose their lies to serve a specific purpose.
The primary concern of the lie about what happened in Benghazi was the motive for the attack.
The lack of security and support for Stevens and his ambivalence in his requests for security lead me to suspect that Stevens may have been at odds with at least some of the people whose job it was to protect him.
Could it be that both Islamist and the US wanted Chris Stevens dead and for the same reason?
Both the US and the Islamists had a reason to keep the alleged shipments of arms and mercenaries out of Libya to Syria a secret. Would either or both of them be willing to kill Stevens if necessary to keep the secret? And even if they would, that does not mean they did.
Just because the motive I have proposed would appear to have some merit and make some sense out of what went down in Benghazi, it does not make it the truth, but it can serve to direct the attention of our inquiry and perhaps create an incentive, for those in the know, to tell the truth.
What other motives have been offered up that would explain why Islamists would attack a US embassy in a town out of which weapons were being secretly smuggled to Islamists in Syria? Could it be that the State Department and the CIA were having a disagreement over over the timing of those shipments?
Whatever, the question remains, what was the motive and our search is not simply for a motive that might have sufficed but for the actual motive for the crime - the why - which will likely lead us to the responsible who.
Crimes like Benghazi and the USS Liberty obviously involve a deceptive executive branch of government and a play along Congress. No doubt Obama and Hillary, working together to compose the lie, knew the truth about Benghazi, just as Johnson knew "the truth" about the USS Liberty, and looking at the truth they crafted the cover. So while We may have to wait a long, long time (if ever) to learn the motive, We have already learned something We very much need to know about those who do know, the scoundrels who keep the secrets.
The liars know the motive and thus they composed a lie (as it turns out a poor one) to cover up what stinks (much like my cat in the litter box).
But now the question, why cover it up? Did they cover up the stinking truth to protect those who do not know (You and I) or to protect those who do (themselves)? When it comes to cats I have no clue why the do the things they do but among the rats that know the motive for what went down in Benghazi, who is the most closely guarded of all? Would that one ultimately be the one responsible for the murder of Chris Stevens?
"One source tells CNN that there were 35 Americans at the Benghazi mission, and up to seven were wounded in the attack, some seriously. Another says 21 were working in the “annex” building, which is believed to have been run by the CIA and to which Americans fled after the State Department’s diplomatic installation was attacked on September 11, 2012.
The CIA would not comment on speculation that U.S. agencies in Benghazi were moving portable surface-to-air missiles out of Libya, through Turkey, and into the hands of Syrian rebels; the State Department has denied that any of its employees were involved in such an operation, saying they were only helping the new Libyan government to secure such weapons within the country."
Based on the story above it appears that the State Department was gathering the weapons and then the CIA was shipping them to Turkey where they were then moved across the border to supply "Syrian" rebels who are being flown in from Libya and paid with crisp $100 dollar bills.
Again it appears that Islamists had no reason to attack and kill Stevens unless he was some how getting in the way of the shipment of arms and mercenaries to Syria. One sticking point is the confusion on the ground in Benghazi during the attack. If at some level the CIA was involved in plotting the murder of Stevens who knew? When we study the attack on the USS Liberty to get some historical perspective it becomes clear that the people on the ground are only following orders. If only Stevens had been attacked then only the actions of Stevens would have been investigated.
All the above is just banter sitting on the foundation supplied by the cover-up attempts by the President. If the American people were told the truth from the start and all those involved were allowed to speak freely, then it would not be necessary to mine the truth.
While Obama was telling the American People that the US was not arming Syrian rebels, a Fox News article notes that weapons shipments were sent out of Libya destined for Islamist Syrian rebels via Turkey just days before the attack on Chris Stevens. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/10/25/was-syrian-weapons-shipment-factor-in-ambassadors-benghazi-visit/
The Fox article also states that those who attacked Stevens were Islamists. Why Islamists would be attacking Stevens in response to the US sending weapons to Syria to arm Islamists rebels there is not clear at all. It would seem to make far more sense for Gadhafi or Assad supporters to be attempting to shut down the alleged weapons smuggling going on out of Benghazi.
Stevens helped rebels over throw Gadhafi, Stevens was most likely knowledgeable and perhaps participating in the covert CIA gun running operation out of Benghazi to Islamists in Syria and yet he is attacked by Islamists in Libya?
Needing a good motive for the Islamists to attack perhaps created the necessity for the cover story that they attacked Stevens out of an angry demonstration over an offensive US movie. But when that falls through, what then was their motive?
Perhaps Stevens objected to something about the gun running or was threatening to spill the beans or something of the sort? Now if "something of the sort" was it, then the US and the Islamists would both want Stevens out of the picture and that would explain the US allowing the Islamists to silence Stevens and then to later find it difficult to apprehend suspects.
It would also explain the barriers investigative journalists are running up against in government agencies in their attempts to find the truth.
When the people are not given the truth they begin to create theories that gather what facts are available into some cohesive rational whole. Having the US State Department, the CIA, the President and the Islamists all wanting Stevens dead makes sense of what happened in Benghazi. It may or may not be the truth. But until we are given the truth all of Us share the responsibility to attempt to solve the crime.
8/4/2013 SELECTIVE ENFORCEMENT
“Manning took incredibly courageous actions to release data, to pierce the fog of war, to make public the machinations of modern American war-making. Edward Snowden has exposed the sophistication and extraordinary reach of the US surveillance state, cracking down on those who would dare to release information. And Julian Assange sits within the four walls of his embassy redoubt, persecuted for the crime of publishing. Yet those who planned the wars, those who committed war crimes, those who conduct illegal spying, for now, walk free.”
8/3/2013 WHO ARE OUR SOLDIERS FIGHTING FOR?
Marine Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler
(Butler took part in World War I, the Banana Wars, and the Boxer rebellion in China.)
"War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses."
"I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket."
"I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service."
"I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism."
8/2/2013 WHO IS OBAMA WORKING FOR
"The Obama presidency is a disingenuous fraud. He was elected by promising to bring change, yet from the start change was never envisioned. He was carefully groomed and financed by the Trilateral Commission and their friends."
Read more @ http://www.newswithviews.com/Wood/patrick133.htm
I find it interesting how many links to critics of this commission are inoperative.
In KEEPING WATCH the important thing is to keep our eye on the ball, which means protecting our civil liberties and following the money (oil). What I am finding now is a dawning revelation of why Obama turned out to be Rev. 2 of Bush and Cheney and too, where and how the big banks are able to exercise such influence over our lives and over international politics.
Note: Had Snowden been pardoned he would not have needed to go to Russia. Having him and the information he has in Russia, is that a good idea?
As We see more and more of what is going on, expect to like it less and less until trust can be re-established. Keep the faith and keep watch.
(Scroll down, way down, to a 8/2/2013 Note: for more on Jimmy Carter)
8/1/2013 Rebuilding Trust
Bruce Schneier, Special to CNN
"Rebuilding trust is not easy, as anyone who has betrayed or been betrayed by a friend or lover knows, but the path involves transparency, oversight and accountability. Transparency first involves coming clean. Not a little bit at a time, not only when you have to, but complete disclosure about everything. Then it involves continuing disclosure. No more secret rulings by secret courts about secret laws. No more secret programs whose costs and benefits remain hidden."
..." democracy can't work unless voters know what the government is doing in their name. That's why we have open-government laws. Secret courts making secret rulings on secret laws, and companies flagrantly lying to consumers about the insecurity of their products and services, undermine the very foundations of our society."
To read more @:
Mr. Schneier also goes on the mention that the cognitive dissonance is so painful that many folks turn to blind trust, avoidance or denial to escape the discomfort.
def: Cognitive dissonance is the painful condition of holding two conflicting beliefs. It can become sufficiently intense to morph into post traumatic shock syndrome, a condition that was called shell shock in WWI.
Read more about how cognitive dissonance impairs our judgment at: http://wonforum.blogspot.com/2011/02/cognitive-dissonance.html
KEEPING WATCH. Who can bear it? But bear it We must as a functional democracy and its Constitution demands it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K311uSEf-3k&feature=fvwp
8/1/2031 NSA CLAIMS PLUMMET FROM 50 TO 1 AS THEIR CREDIBILITY SINKS TO ZERO
National Security Agency director General Keith Alexander said
"In recent years the information gathered from these (spying on the People) programs provided the US government with critical leads to help prevent over 50 potential terrorist events in more than 20 countries around the world."
Judiciary Committee Chairman, Leahy, D-VT told Inglis the NSA material didn't indicate "dozens or even several terrorist plots" had been thwarted by the domestic program.
NSA Deputy Director John Inglis then confesses that U.S. bulk phone records spying was key in stopping just one terror plot, not the dozens officials had earlier said.
The message.....The people spying on We the People are not to be trusted. But hey, We knew that, didn't We? As for the one remaining plot that supposedly did depend on the spying program, are We now expected to believe that?
You go ahead if You need to, I 'll be KEEPING WATCH.
7/29/2013 JILL STEIN FOR PRESIDENT?
The Green Party held its national off year convention in Iowa City over the week end. http://thegazette.com/2013/07/25/green-party-holding-national-convention-in-iowa-city-today/
I am seriously considering voting for Jill Stein in the next presidential election. Looking at the pictures of the birth defects in Iraq resulting from the dirty munitions used in the dirty war that Hillary voted for - http://www.democracynow.org/2013/3/20/ten_years_later_us_has_left -
if it is time for a woman president -
it is time for Jill Stein. http://www.jillstein.org/issues .
Of course I cannot agree with Jill on all the issues. When it comes to gays wanting to get married for instance, I can go as far as garriage but that is it.
However, over all I think Jill has the convictions and the courage to make a difference. But what do I know? I thought Obama was going to make a difference when it comes to letting the sunshine in on government and he ended up pulling down the shades and spying on law abiding citizens and then chasing after the whistleblowers that helped us and Congress see that We the People and the Constitution and the Congress have been betrayed by this president.
By the way, Rep. Loebsack voted in favor of the Amash/Conyers amendment to stop the NSA's indiscriminate collection of phone call records of Americans suspected of no wrong doing. I am surprised and very favorably impressed by Dave's vote and I called his office to tell him so. That vote took some courage. Thanks Dave.
"Sunlight Foundation discovers the Obama Administration has removed access to his 2008 campaign promises from the White House website. It suggests one of the promises Obama may want to hide has to do with his support for whistleblowers."
2008 Campaign Promises from the White House website
"Protect Whistleblowers: Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process." http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/07/25-6
Who is in charge?? Who is Obama working for? Who ever it is, so too did Bush?
Joy is convinced Obama works for bosses who orient, control or eliminate Presidents.
Just another conspiracy theory I suppose, which leaves us with the other option - Obama is a consummate con man. Or, I suppose, it could be both.
Anyway as I read the above I know why I voted for him the first time. As I read the news, I know why I did not vote for him the second time.
So if a guy comes along who is dedicated to the service of the people and who cannot be intimidated, he is a dead man walking? If a shadow government is the government how do We flush it out?
The words of Jimmy Carter continue to haunt me. "America has currently no functioning democracy."
Leaks can save American lives:
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki cited documents given by Manning to WikiLeaks in his decision not to renew a Status of Forces Agreement with the US military, which in turn led to the formal end of the Iraq War, Assange noted.
So I am thinking, that should be and may well be among the goals of whistle blowers.
At any rate, Manning deserves credit where it is due. All that talk about aiding the enemy is empty compared to the comments of the Iraqi Prime Minister.
US TERRORISM IN YEMEN?
"The White House is "concerned and disappointed" over the news that Yemeni Journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye, who was kept in a Yemeni jail for three years per the request of the Obama administration after he exposed a deadly U.S. drone strike, was released Tuesday."
That press watchdogs and human rights groups finally got Shaye released is a major victory for freedom of the press made even bigger because it comes in a country that desperately needs more personal liberty. But years of President Obama fighting tooth and nail against such freedom is a disgrace to America's own history of press freedom, and a grim sign of the impact the United States will have going forward on free speech at home and abroad.
Shayi and Snowden, two men Obama wants in jail for "the crime" of reporting his crimes.
No, it can't be, like Joys cancer, this must all be just a bad dream. But too, as with Joy's cancer, there may be hell to pay.
This much I know, I do not have a clue what is going on but what I do know - it troubles me. With Joy we were able to find the cancer and cut it out. But there is something systemic about the infection We see in our government. Keeping Watch, paying attention, is the only thing I know to do now. Can We bear it? Dare We ignore it?
7/25/2013 AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
"Abdul Ilah Haydar Shayi’ was the first Yemeni journalist to allege US involvement in a 2009 missile attack in Yemen’s Abyan area which killed 41 local residents, including 21 children and 14 women. Shortly after the attack – which used internationally banned cluster munitions – he wrote articles and spoke to news channel Al Jazeera and newspapers."
"Abdul Ilah Haydar Shayi’ appeared to be a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely for his legitimate work as a journalist. Having released him, the Yemeni authorities must now conduct an independent and impartial investigation into the 2009 attack which he helped expose,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International"
"Several weeks after his trial, former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh issued an order to free him, but it was not carried out after US President Barack Obama expressed concern over the journalist’s release."
"Amnesty International is urging the Yemeni authorities to investigate allegations of serious irregularities in his case.
This includes being convicted despite a lack of clear evidence of his alleged links to al-Qa’ida, being held incommunicado in solitary confinement, and allegations that he was ill-treated in detention, resulting in chest injuries and a broken tooth. If his detention is confirmed as having been arbitrary, he should be compensated and his two-year travel ban lifted."
This much We know, Obama knows the truth about US involvement in this situation and You and I do not have a clue. However,
"A leaked diplomatic cable later corroborated the finding that the U.S. military carried out the attack."
7/24/2013 ENCOURAGING WORDS TO SNOWDEN
If We treated our politicians, as the servants they should be, then we would consider it essential for Us to know what they are doing and for them to respect our privacy. But as We let them treat us as subjects, then revealing their treachery and protecting our privacy and our interests is deemed treason.
BOILING IT DOWN TO THE LOCAL LEVEL
At the local level it boils down to a much milder version on the order of - But as We let them treat us as subjects, then revealing their secrecy and protecting our right to transparency, our right to know, is deemed harassment.
Our enchantment with celebrity, wealth and power keeps Us ever at risk of sacrificing our civil liberties and our integrity and our self esteem. There is no need to make Snowden a hero just because he stands head and shoulders above those in Washington who have robbed us of our civil liberties. What is necessary is to see those who have betrayed the People for what they are.
7/22/2013 Out of Egypt Ahmed for President?
"They're thugs, both sides," said Ahmed Sabri, an ice-cream vendor watching from a distance. "They don't speak for Egypt or Egyptians, they're just here for a fight."
Life questions us- "if this, then what?" Seeing what was before him Edward Snowden answered. I think I would have just quit the job. He felt called to do more. I can see both sides. When I quit drinking I just quit going to taverns, I did not seek to shame those who do. I celebrate space. Let there be room to accommodate all diversity. Still, our participation in the co-creation of the reality that we share calls us at times to step into harms way. He had the courage to do that. He is now in the lions den. May he find the wisdom to safely navigate the journey before him. Good luck and thank you, Edward Snowden!
7/19/2013 Amy Goodman
Nelson Mandela told an interviewer in 1993: “Once you have rid yourself of the fear of the oppressor and his prisons, his police, his army, there is nothing that they can do. You are liberated.” From South Africa to Sanford, Fla., from Pelican Bay to Guantanamo Bay, courageous people are taking a stand, fighting for justice, a fitting birthday tribute to President Mandela.
And to Edward Snowden.
7/19/2013 Jimmy Carter
"America has currently no functioning democracy," (Jimmy) Carter said Tuesday at a meeting of the "Atlantik-Brücke" (Atlantic Bridge) in Atlanta."
Carter has repeatedly warned that the United States, (in) limiting civil rights, (has) lost its moral authority. Last year he wrote a post in the "New York Times", (saying) new U.S. laws allowed the "unprecedented violation of our privacy by the Government". (translated from German.)
Once again Jimmy Carter shows himself to be the most and the only extraordinary President in my life time. (65 years)
8/2/2013 Note: ********************************
The relationship between the Trilateral Commission and Jimmy Carter has been brought to my attention and it concerns me. I have spoken in glowing terms about Jimmy Carter recently and in the past but I see now that further study is indicated. I walk in lockstep and blind admiration behind no man.
The Carter Center helped build democracy in East Timor but only after the Carter Administration had earlier supplied arms to those involved in the bloody massacres of thousands of peasants there by the invading military of Indonesia that started with the blessing of Ford and Kissinger.
Carter has apologized for continuing to supply arms saying "there are so many different things that the President has to do that are pressing and crisis that you can't really expect any president, including me or my predecessors or successors, to know the details of things like East Timor. I wish I had, but I didn't."
I find this to be a weak and a tragically late but too an honest apology. Like all of us I suppose, he wishes he had known then what he knows now.
The Carter Center went on to help East Timor emerge as an independent democracy.
Jimmy noted on 30 August 1999 the Carter Center "sent a delegation to negotiate with people in East Timor, and we joined with the United Nations in conducting the first elections in East Timor, and this year (2007), just a few months ago, again, in East Timor, (we have been) trying to help them assuage the potential violence in that country and have them have a stable government. So we've played a great role not only in Indonesia, bringing democracy and relative peace, but also in the independence of East Timor in that referendum, and now to perpetuate democracy there.
The Carter Center has also addressed health issues among the poorest of the poor in Africa.
"One example, for instance, was Guinea worm, which is an ancient disease, known in the Bible as probably the "fiery serpent" in the Bible. And we found that in 23,600 villages, all of which we visited now, by the way, there were three-and-a-half million cases of Guinea worm. And we have been in those villages and talked to the people, taught them how to do it, giving them some supplies, and now we’ve reduced that by 99.7 percent, and we’re down to the last few cases now. That’s the kind of thing that we do."
He has become more effective after his presidency than during it. Joy and I often muse that by the time We learn how to do something the job is over.
I will continue to study his influence on the Trilateral Commission and vise versa and welcome comments.
7/18/2013 Gordon Humphrey
Partial 7/15/2013 email from former two-term Republican Senator Gordon Humphrey of New Hampshire to Edward Snowden.
"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 (a) 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."
SNOWDEN ENLIGHTENS CONGRESS
It is becoming apparent that if not for Snowden, Americans and many, if not most, in Congress were being kept in the dark about the scope of the government's surveillance activities.
Members of Congress now say "they never intended to allow the National Security Agency to build a database of every phone call in America." (I bet especially not theirs.)
Obama's assurances "that Congress had fully understood the dramatic expansion of government power it authorized repeatedly over the past decade" have collapsed.
According to the article, Bush and Obama both kept "the details hidden behind the cloak of classified information."
"Civil rights groups have warned for years that the government would use the USA Patriot Act to conduct such wholesale data collection." Obama denied it even as it was being done.
The sponsor of the Patriot Act, "Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said Wednesday that Congress meant only to allow seizures directly relevant to national security investigations. No one expected the government to obtain every phone record and store them in a huge database to search later."
(Suddenly a Republican is beginning to see what he has done as the chickens start coming home to roost.)
Later, Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, asked whether the NSA could build similar databases of everyone's Internet searches, hotel records and credit card transactions.
(Another Republican Congressman is concerned that Obama may be making a hit list of Republican congressmen who have been sleeping around or otherwise jumping in bed with special interests.)
"After the phone surveillance became public, Obama assured Americans that Congress was well aware of what was going on.
"When it comes to telephone calls, every member of Congress has been briefed on this program," Obama said.
"Whether lawmakers willingly kept themselves in the dark or were misled, it was apparent Wednesday that one of the key oversight bodies in Congress remained unclear about the scope of surveillance, more than a decade after it was authorized."
(Or did these power hungry Republicans simply wake up?)
The "Judiciary Committee's senior Democrat, Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, noted that the panel had "primary jurisdiction" over the surveillance laws that were the foundation for the NSA programs."
However, one lawmaker, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, said some members of Congress wouldn't have known about the NSA surveillance without the sensational leaks: "Snowden, I don't like him at all, but we (members of Congress) would never have known what happened if he hadn't told us." Poe said.
(Still more Republicans seeing the writing on the wall.)
"The NSA says it only looks at numbers as part of narrow terrorism investigations, but that doesn't tell the whole story."
(We all know that Democrats consider getting Democrats elected is a national security issue and vice versa for Republicans.)
"For the first time, NSA deputy director John C. Inglis disclosed Wednesday that the agency sometimes conducts what's known as three-hop analysis. That means the government can look at the phone data of a suspect terrorist, plus the data of all of his contacts, then all of those people's contacts, and finally, all of those people's contacts.
If the average person calls 40 unique people, three-hop analysis could allow the government to mine the records of 2.5 million Americans when investigating one suspected terrorist."
(This makes Watergate seem like stealing candy.)
"Rep Randy Forbes, R-Va., said such a huge database was ripe for government abuse. When Inglis said there was no evidence of that, Forbes interrupted:
"I said I wasn't going to yell at you and I'm going to try not to. That's exactly what the American people are worried about," he said. "That's what's infuriating the American people. They're understanding that if you collect that amount of data, people can get access to it in ways that can harm them."
(It is definitely sinking in now. Republicans are getting the message. The Laundromat is open.)
"The government says it stores everybody's phone records for five years. Cole explained that because the phone companies don't keep records that long, the NSA had to build its own database.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, asked why the government didn't simply ask the phone companies to keep their data longer. That way, the government could ask for specific information, rather than collecting information on millions of innocent people.
Inglis said it would be challenging, but the government was looking into it."
(A dodge that will be forever made by whoever is in power at the time.)
"Obama ... has said he welcomes the debate over surveillance. But his administration never wanted the debate to be quite so specific."
That was obvious when Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., asked Litt whether he really believed the government could keep such a vast surveillance program a secret forever.
"Well," Litt replied, "we tried." "
Yes, I signed the petition to pardon Snowden. Not to protect Republican or Democratic Congressmen, (Throw the bums out!) but to protect Us all from a serious threat to our personal freedoms.
"I love sunlight in all things political. That's what journalists are supposed to do, if they want to earn their bread honestly."