Politico: Al Qaeda’s return complicates civil liberties debate

From left: Rand Paul, Ron Wyden, Ted Cruz, Mark Udall and Justin Amash are pictured in this composite image. | AP Photos, Reuters

Al Qaeda’s back, and its timing couldn’t be worse for the Republicans who are  taking on the national security wing of their party.

Edward Snowden reignited a debate over privacy and civil liberties that had  fizzled in recent years. Just last week, civil libertarians were even picking up  momentum on proposals to restrict the NSA’s mass collection of Americans’ phone  records thanks to renewed attention in the media.

But that was before the serious new Al Qaeda threats that have  forced the shuttering of exploding clothes — because this is exactly the time when  they say the public needs to be reminded not to undermine the privacy rights of  law-abiding Americans.


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1787 Network: Is Detroit Our Starnesville?

Detroit reminds me of a quote from the Grail Knight in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, “He chose poorly.”  In the movie the evil bastard who “chose poorly” shrivels up and turns to ancient ruins because of his “enlightened” choice, so too has Detroit. Indy who didn’t choose poorly did not suffer the same fate.  Just like in the movie those who “chose wisely” don’t suffer the same fate, nor should they.

Detroit is the manifestation of those who “chose wisely” going Galt. It is precisely the condition and outcome that result from the reality of implementing the utopian ideas of so called progressives.  Detroit mirrors Starnesville, a car-manufacturing city that became a ghost town after experimenting with socialism. You can read about it in Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel “Atlas Shrugged.”

The federal government and tax payers from the other 50 states should under no circumstances bail out Detroit. It should be allowed to go bankrupt.  The citizens of Detroit should be allowed to suffer the consequences of their choices: specifically their voting decisions.  It is the citizens of Detroit who are at fault for Detroit’s demise not the rest of the nation. Every single voter in Detroit who voted for politicians who expanded the government of Detroit is responsible.

Let’s hope Detroit isn’t the indicator that Starnesville was in the novel.  In Atlas Shrugged, the demise and failure of Starnesville was the harbinger of the collapse of the entire society.  Detroit and its current bankrupt condition is the direct result of who the people of Detroit elected.  Those who were disproportionately taxed and had to pay for the utopian ideas of the elected leaders, when it was obvious that their vote for responsible government and free enterprise were ineffective, voted with their feet; they moved.  The auto industry built plants in Kansas, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, etc. they quit building and expanding in Detroit. The empty wasteland of factories in Detroit is evidence of the reality of implementing enlightened ideas of the statist leftists.  The voters of these states, who elected people that created laws and an environment more inviting to auto manufactures than Detroit and Michigan did, are not responsible and should not have to bail out the voters who embraced the empty promises of Democrats.


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Roll Call: GOP Leaders Face Libertarian Revolt Over NSA, Egypt, Syria

House GOP leaders are scrambling to quell a quiet libertarian rebellion that threatens to block consideration of the Defense appropriations bill.

A small group of Republicans are holding the spending bill hostage until they get votes on several controversial amendments.

“We’ve conveyed to the whip team that we won’t vote for the rule if they don’t allow debate and votes,” Thomas Massie, R-Ky., said Friday. “We don’t need all the amendments to be allowed. We need at least one substantial amendment on three things: Egypt, Syria and NSA.”

Massie has two amendments before the Rules Committee: one that would defund military operations in Syria and one that would defund military operations in Egypt. Another leader in the Republican rebellion, Justin Amash of Michigan, has an amendment that would end funds for the National Security Agency’s blanket collection of telephone call records in the wake of Edward Snowden’s leaking of the program.

Rules Committee member Rich Nugent, R-Fla., has a similar NSA amendment, but the libertarian lawmakers say it insufficiently addresses the issue.

GOP leaders have been coming off a string of impressive victories lately — from passing the farm bill without a single Democratic vote to navigating a No Child Left Behind rewrite. But the Rules Committee postponed their meeting Thursday on the Defense appropriations bill, and leaders are still figuring out if they have the votes to squash the Republican revolt.

Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has pleaded with lawmakers in the group to not shoot down the rule and, consequently, shoot Republicans in the foot.

According to an aide to one lawmaker in the group threatening to vote down the rule, leadership has used “every tool in the toolbox” to block the amendments. The aide said they have faced a number of procedural roadblocks, from leadership saying their amendments legislate on an appropriations bill to having their amendments submitted to the Congressional Budget Office for a score. The aide said it has been a “concerted effort.”

But the lawmakers have cleared the hurdles, they say, and they want votes. They are drafting a letter calling for the opportunity to vote on their amendments, and they are seeking signatories.

On Friday, Jim McGovern, D-Mass., who will be controlling the Defense appropriations rule on the floor for the Democrats, said the Republican Conference is “just chaos.”

“They can’t seem to get their act together. So they got a problem,” McGovern said. “The Republican leadership long ago lost the ability to lead.”

McGovern, who is also a Rules panel member, said Democrats were initially told the Rules Committee was delaying its Thursday meeting on the Defense appropriations bill “out of deference to us” so Democrats could vote in the ranking member of the Natural Resources election, even though no Democrat asked the committee to delay the hearing.

“And then they delayed for another hour, and then they delayed it indefinitely and never told us why,” McGovern said. “We all know why: It’s because of these NSA votes.”

The Rules Committee plans to mark up the rule for the Defense appropriations bill at 5 p.m. on July 22, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said Friday that the House will consider the DOD appropriations bill next week.


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Yahoo News: NSA spying under fire: ‘You’ve got a problem’

Robert S. Litt, general counsel in the Office of Director of National Intelligence testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Wednesday, July 17, 2013. Six weeks after a leaked document exposed the scope of the government's monitoring of Americans' phone records, the House Judiciary Committee calls on key administration figures from the intelligence world to answer questions about the sweeping government surveillance of Americans in war on terrorism. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

In a heated confrontation over domestic spying, members of Congress said Wednesday they never intended to allow the National Security Agency to build a database of every phone call in America. And they threatened to curtail the government’s surveillance authority.

Top Obama administration officials countered that the once-secret program was legal and necessary to keep America safe. And they left open the possibility that they could build similar databases of people’s credit card transactions, hotel records and Internet searches.

The clash on Capitol Hill undercut President Barack Obama’s assurances that Congress had fully understood the dramatic expansion of government power it authorized repeatedly over the past decade.

The House Judiciary Committee hearing also represented perhaps the most public, substantive congressional debate on surveillance powers since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Previous debates have been largely theoretical and legalistic, with officials in the Bush and Obama administrations keeping the details hidden behind the cloak of classified information.

That changed last month when former government contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents to the Guardian newspaper revealing that the NSA collects every American’s phone records, knowing that the overwhelming majority of people have no ties to terrorism.

Civil rights groups have warned for years that the government would use the USA Patriot Act to conduct such wholesale data collection. The government denied it.

The Obama administration says it needs a library of everyone’s phone records so that when it finds a suspected terrorist, it can search its archives for the suspect’s calling habits. The administration says the database was authorized under a provision in the Patriot Act that Congress hurriedly passed after 9/11 and reauthorized in 2005 and 2010.

The sponsor of that bill, 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.

As Deputy Attorney General James Cole explained why that was necessary, Sensenbrenner cut him off and reminded him that his surveillance authority expires in 2015.

“And unless you realize you’ve got a problem,” Sensenbrenner said, “that is not going to be renewed.”

He was followed by Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., who picked up where his colleague left off. The problem, he said, is that the administration considers “everything in the world” relevant to fighting terrorism.

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.

Robert S. Litt, general counsel in the Office of Director of National Intelligence, didn’t directly answer, saying it would depend on whether the government believed those records — like phone records — to be relevant to terrorism investigations.

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,” he 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.

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. Yet 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 would never have known what happened if he hadn’t told us.”

The NSA says it only looks at numbers as part of narrow terrorism investigations, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.

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.

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.”

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.


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Video: Fourth of July Reflection, What if we actually had a sound (and constitutional) foreign policy?

On the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence for the GREATEST country in the world, let us reflect as to what our foreign policy should be going forward. What would the founding fathers have wanted? Does our current foreign policy follow the constitution? What does our current foreign policy do to our national debt? Does our foreign policy actually make us safer? Please keep those questions in mind when watching this video…..

The National Journal: Why the Obama Administration Can’t Win on Health Care

The Obama administration had been absorbing constant political attacks about the so-called job-killing nature of Obamacare, with its complex employer reporting requirements and fines for large companies that don’t offer their workers insurance. But when it announced Tuesday that it would delay implementation of the employer mandate to give businesses more time to prepare, the attack lines simply shifted from arguments about policy merit to those about the administration’s competence.

Republicans used the decision to amp up their calls for repealing the law, sounding as bullish as ever that the Affordable Care Act was inevitably flawed.

It shows that when it comes to the health care law—the president’s signature legislative accomplishment—the administration can’t win.

The White House appeased an angry business community with its decision to postpone a requirement that large employers offer their workers health insurance or pay a fine. The rule had angered even businesses that already insure their workers. It gave Republican opponents ammunition to attack the law, claiming it slowed economic growth. Its delay is likely to quiet some of those particular critiques, at least until after the 2014 election.

But the decision will still be politically useful to the health care law’s political foes, who are now painting the administration as incompetent. A flood of press releases Tuesday night described the law as “unworkable,” its implementation a “train wreck,” and the delay as evidence that all of Obamacare should be taken off the books. “This is a clear acknowledgment that the law is unworkable, and it underscores the need to repeal the law and replace it,” said House Speaker John Boehner in a statement.


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Wall Street Journal: Rand Paul Says He May Sue Over NSA Program

A Republican senator said Sunday that he plans to assemble a class action lawsuit against the federal government over a national security program that collects phone call data, saying he hopes the matter winds up before the Supreme Court.

Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.), who is considering a run for the White House in 2016, said on “Fox News Sunday” that he is considering asking major U.S. telecommunications firms to ask their customers to join a lawsuit.

“If we get a million people in a class-action suit, things might change,” Mr. Paul said.

Mr. Paul didn’t elaborate on the plan, and a spokeswoman for the senator wasn’t immediately available to comment.

The program has become a focus of public attention since a court order was leaked to The Guardian newspaper last week that authorized the National Security Agency to collect data of phone calls made by customers of Verizon Communications Inc. Many lawmakers and President Barack Obama have defended the program as important to efforts to find and track terrorists, while others have said the national-security gains don’t justify the imposition on privacy.


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The Inquisitr: John McCain Says Syrian Rebels Need Heavy Weapons

John McCain Says Syrian Rebels Need Heavy Weapons

Syrian  rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad and his regime need  heavy weapons, according to US Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who visited the  country in secret earlier this week.

McCain added that the rebels are in need of the weapons, along with  ammunition, in order to counter the regime’s tanks and aircraft. He warned that,  should they not received the weapons, it will impossible for the rebels to win  the country’s bloody civil war.

The world has been reluctant to arm the rebels, including the United States,  though they have been watching the conflict closely. Several Western countries,  including the US, have been supplying  rebel forces with humanitarian aid.

But McCain asserted that the opposition forces need more than first aid and food  supplies. He stated on Friday, “They just can’t fight tanks with  AK-47s.”

The Republican senator and former presidential candidate made a secret,  unannounced trip to Syria on Monday, traveling across the border through Kilis,  Turkey. He spent about two hours with rebel leaders. McCain has also been very  vocal in Congress about his support of arming the Syrian rebels.

McCain added that he arranged the trip with the help of Deputy Secretary of State  William Burns. He added that he spoke to Secretary of State John Kerry  before the trip, but never mentioned the secret trip to Syria. He explained, “It  wasn’t that I was hiding it from him; it just didn’t seem to come up. I thought  Burns was the right guy to go through. They were very important in the  trip.”

Read more at http://www.inquisitr.com/683372/john-mccain-says-syrian-rebels-need-heavy-weapons/#qcA9orBdU33ITv4O.99


The Liberty Report Take: So let’s get this straight, let’s borrow more money from China and add to our unsustainable National Debt where we soon won’t even be able to afford the interest payments so we can fund another country’s civil war.  We can then put our own troops on the ground as the aid and weapons won’t be enough so our sons and daughters can lose their lives defending another country and a new regime that probably won’t like us any better.  We can bomb their roads and bridges and then have our tax payers pay to fix them back up while ours are crumbling at home.  Great plan John…..

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