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Triste cosa es no tener amigos, pero ms triste ha de ser no tener enemigos porque quin no tenga enemigos seal es de que no tiene talento que haga sombra, ni carcter que impresione, ni valor temido, ni honra de la que se murmure, ni bienes que se le codicien, ni cosa alguna que se le envidie. A sad thing it is to not have friends, but even sadder must it be not having any enemies; that a man should have no enemies is a sign that he has no talent to outshine others, nor character that inspires, nor valor that is feared, nor honor to be rumored, nor goods to be coveted, nor anything to be envied. -Jose Marti

From the desk of Craig B Hulet?


Are We Living in a Police State? America's Outrageous Imperial Drone Warfare Time to break up the big banks Homeland Security Approves Their Right To Search and Seize Your Electronics Without Suspicion Google Moves to Destroy Online Anonymity Unintentionally Helping Authoritarian Governments Homeland Security Approves Their Right To Search and Seize Your Electronics Without Suspicion Obamas Expanding Kill List While Left And Right Fight, Power Wins Two Cautionary Tales of Gun Control The 'Corporate Coup dtat' and the Govt's Moves to Jail People without Charges or Trial Veterans Are Receiving Letters From VA Prohibiting The Ownership Or Purchase Of Firearms Scorecard: How Many Rights Have Americans REALLY Lost? Summary of Select Firearm Violence Prevention Strategies How the nationalistic mantra of "the greatest country in the world" hurts America 2 out of every 3 Americans lost Fourth Amendment protections to DHS

Time to break up the big banks By George F. Will, February 08, 2013 With his chronically gravelly voice and relentlessly liberal agenda, Sherrod Brown seems to have stepped out of Les Miserables, hoarse from singing revolutionary anthems at the barricades. Today, Ohios senior senator has a project worthy of Victor Hugo and of conservatives support. He wants to break up the biggest banks. He would advocate this even if he thought such banks would never have a crisis sufficient to threaten the financial system. He believes they are unhealthy for the financial system even when they are healthy. This is because there is a silent subsidy an unfair competitive advantage relative to community banks inherent in being deemed by the government, implicitly but clearly, too big to fail. The Senate has unanimously passed a bill offered by Brown and Sen. David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, directing the Government Accountability Office to study whether banks with more than $500billion in assets acquire an economic benefit because of their dangerous scale. Is their debt priced favorably because, being TBTF, they are considered especially creditworthy? Brown believes the 20 largest banks pay less when borrowing 50 to 80 basis points less than community banks must pay. While Left And Right Fight, Power Wins by Paul Craig Roberts February 16, 2013 My experience with the American left and right leads to the conclusion that the left sees private power as the source of oppression and government as the countervailing and rectifying power, while the right sees government as the source of oppression and a free and unregulated private sector as the countervailing and rectifying power. Both are concerned with restraining the power to oppress, but they take opposite positions on the source of the oppressive power and remedy. The right is correct that government power is the problem, and the left is correct that private power is the problem. Therefore, whether power is located within the government or private sectors cannot reduce, constrain, or minimize power. How does the progressive Obama Regime differ from the tax-cut, deregulation Bush/Cheney Regime? Both are complicit in the maximization of executive branch power and in the minimization of citizens civil liberties and, thus, of the peoples power. Did the progressive Obama reverse the right-wing Bushs destruction of habeas corpus and due process? No. Obama further minimized the peoples power. Bush could throw us in prison for life wi thout proof of cause. Obama can execute us without proof of cause. They do this in the name of protecting us from terrorism, but not from their terrorism.

Americans who have no experience with, or knowledge of, tyranny believe that only terrorists will experience the unchecked power of the state. They will believe this until it happens to them, or their children, or their friends. The view of human nature held by the right and the left depends on whether the human nature is located in the private sector or the government sector (public sector). For the right (and for libertarians) human nature in the private sector is good and serves the public; in the government sector human nature is evil and oppressive. For the left, it is the opposite. As the same people go back and forth from one sector to the other, one marvels at the transformations of their character and morality. A good man becomes evil, and an evil man becomes good, depending on the location of his activities. One of my professors, James M. Buchanan, who won a Nobel Prize, pointed out that people are just as self-serving whether they are in the private sector or in government. The problem is how to constrain government and private power to the best extent possible. Our Founding Fathers solution was to minimize the power of government and to rely on contending factions among private interests to prevent the rise of an oligarchy. In the event that contending private interests failed, the oligarchy that seized the government would not have much public power to exercise. The Founding Fathers design more or less worked except for interludes of civil war and economic crisis until the cold war built up the power of government and the deregulation of the Clinton and Bush presidencies built up the power of private interests. It all came together with the accumulation of new, dictatorial powers in the executive branch in the name of protecting us from terrorists and with deregulations creation of powerful corporations too big to fail. Now we have a government, whose elected members are beholden to a private oligarchy, consisting of the military/security complex, Wall Street and the financial sector, the Israel Lobby, agribusiness, pharmaceuticals, and the energy, mining, and timber businesses, with the power to shut down peoples protests at their exploitation by robber barons and government alike. Vast amounts of government debt have been added to taxpayers burdens in order to fight wars that only benefit the military/security complex and the Israel Lobby. More vast amounts have been added in order to force taxpayers to cover the reckless gambling bets of the financial sector. Taxpayers are denied interest on their savings in order to protect the balance sheets of a corrupt financial sector. Legitimate protestors are brutalized by police and equated by Homeland Security with domestic extremists, defined by Homeland Security as a close relation to terrorists. Today Americans are not safe from government or private power and suffer at the hands of both. What can be done? From within probably very little. The right blames the left, and the left blames the right. The two sides are locked in ideological combat while power grows in the private and public sectors, but not the benevolent power that the two ideologies suppose. Instead, a two-headed power monster has risen.

If the power that has been established over the American people is to be shattered, it will come from outside. The Federal Reserves continuing monetization of the enormous debt that Washington is generating can destroy the dollars exchange value, sending up interest rates, collapsing the bond, stock, and real estate markets, and sinking the economy into deep depression at a time in history when Americans have exhausted their savings and are deeply in debt with high levels of joblessness and homelessness. The rise in import prices from a drop in the dollars exchange value would make survival an issue for a large percentage of the population. Overnight the US could transition from superpower to third world penitent begging for a rescue program. Who would grant it? The Russians encircled by US military bases and whose internal serenity is disrupted by inflows of American money to dissident groups in an effort to destabilize the Russian State? The Chinese, the government of which is routinely denounced by a hypocritical Washington for human rights abuses while Washington surrounds China with newly constructed military bases and new deployments of troops and naval vessels? South America, a long-suffering victim of Washingtons oppression? Europe, exhausted by conflicts and by Washingtons organization of them as puppet states and use of them as mercenaries in Washingtons wars for hegemony? No country, except perhaps the bought-and-paid-for puppets of Britain, Canada, Australia, and Japan, would come to Washingtons aid. In the ensuing collapse, the power of Washington and the power of the private robber barons would evaporate. Americans would suffer, but they would be rid of the power that has been established over them and that has changed them from a free people to exploited serfs. This is, perhaps, an optimistic conclusion, but those relatively few Americans who are aware need some hope. This is the best that I can do. The majority of Americans remain trapped in their unawareness, which implies a bleak future. The insouciance of the American population is its downfall. Michael Moore and Chris Hedges on the 'Corporate Coup dtat' and the Govt's Moves to Jail People without Charges or Trial Scary moves by the Government in the name of 'fighting terrorism." February 11, 2013 | AMY GOODMAN: Last week, the ability of the U.S. government to jail people without charge or trial was back in court. A group of reporters, scholars and activists, including Noam Chomsky and Chris Hedges, are suing the Obama administration over the controversial provision in the NDAA, the National Defense Authorization Act, saying it could allow for the indefinite detention of journalists and others who interact with certain groups. Well, last Wednesday, the

Justice Department asked an appeals court to reverse a judges earlier decision blocking indefinite detention, saying the ruling would hamper its ability to fight terrorism. The Obama administration has already won an emergency freeze of the ruling while the case is appealed. Well, on the same day, Wednesday, an event, just after the court hearing, was held in New York featuring a panel of some of those who were in the courtroom to oppose the NDAA. Joining them was the Academy Award-winning filmmaker and activist Michael Moore and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges. We end todays show with their remarks. The case is known as Hedges v. Obama. Michael Moore began by responding to a question about how he got involved. MICHAEL MOORE: How did I get involved in it? Well, I meanI mean, Ive been involved in this sort of thing for a very long time, in general, in terms of these issues. I was the chair of the American Civil Liberties Union in Flint when I was 19 or 20 years old. And what Chris said in the last panel here about the corporate coup dtat, thats something Ive been talking about, trying to talk about, for a couple of decades, since Roger & Me_, that something was afoot here and that we were going to have our democratic way absconded with. And I agree with him that that it has been successful. But I remain an optimist because I know history, and I know that coup dtats that were successful at first were eventually overthrown. And I just want to use that word "overthrown" here publicly tonight, so this can be replayed at my trial. I [phone ringing] should we get that? Or MATT SLEDGE: Yeah. MICHAEL MOORE: Who ordered the pizza? MATT SLEDGE: Silence your phones, please, if you can. NATASHA LENNARD: Really, really. Lets ignore it. MICHAEL MOORE: Well, Iyou know, Ive had to deal with the issue of the police trying to suppress information or to cause harm oron any of a number of different levels to those who try to bring out the truth. I had a small alternative newspaper in Flint, Michigan, back in the 1970s. Our printer was raided by the police, and they took the printing plates of our newspaper right off the press and searched and seized everything. And it was because we had done an article on the mayor using federal moneys for his campaign, re-election, and so he went to a local judge,

and the judge approved the search warrant, and they grabbed all of our stuff. So, that was, you know, one of my first experiences. Now, that particular incident, along that same year with a CBS affiliate in Boise, Idaho, was also raided by the police, that the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press asked me to work with them. And a law was passed, a shield law was passed, the following year to essentially prohibit police raids of newsrooms, unless theres an actual crime, like a murder or robbery or something, going on. So, I know. I mean, I could talk about this all night in terms of my ownwhat my own personal experience has been, you know, what I have learned since, in termswithin the Bush administration and what they did or were doing or how they tried to deal with Fahrenheit 9/11, all the way from official government things to just the sort of propaganda that they put out on me in order to, you know, I think, stir the pot of the unhinged. And so, IveI wrote about this in my last book and the number ofnot threats, but actual assaults or attempted assaults that Ive had to go through, up to and including an individual planning to blow up our house in Michigan, and was only caught because one of his weapons went off at his home, and a neighbor heard it and called the cops, and came in and they found all the fertilizer bomb stuff and a list ofa small list, actually, of, well, liberal, left people that hed like to assassinate, with me at the top of the list, and then there was Rosie ODonnell, Janet Reno and Hillary Clinton. So, I dont know how I ended up on the lesbian list, but Im happy and proud to be there. Thats a joke. Just trying towell, any time I talk about this, its obviously not a pleasant thing to talk about. So, I was very happy to hear about this lawsuit that these guys initiated. And Chris, of course, Ive been a huge fan of his for a long time. Please read his books. Pass his books around. This man is ourhes our 21st century Noam Chomsky, not that Noam isnt still in the 21st century. Soand, of course, an honor to sit here with Daniel Ellsberg, who I was thinking about the other day, Daniel. I dont know if youve ever seen the documentary Hearts and Minds about the Vietnam War. Its a great documentary, if you have a chance to see it. And they won the Oscar for best documentary that year. And when they went up on the stage to collect it, they read from a telegram from the North Vietnamese, thanking Americans to, you knowwhich, of course, as wein these days, wed never even think of such a thing. It would be like, you know, in the way that things are conflated now, that you would be reading something from al-Qaeda or whatever. But in this movie, Daniel appears in this movie and provides some very important lessons about Vietnam, not only just what he went through personally, but whatwhat this country was led through in terms of the lies that were told. And by not having a press that was active at first to

expose the lies, we lost a lot of lives, and we participated in the slaughter of anywhere from two to three million Southeast Asians. But he saidhe said something, and I was thinking about this, because theyrewatching the news on Egypt today, and talking about whether the United Statesyou know, we were for Mubarak, then we were against Mubarak. You know, we were and its likeand somebody asks, you know, "Which side is right? You know, are we on the right side?" And the same question was asked during Vietnam. You know, were we on the right side? Because this was a peoples uprising in South Vietnam. And Daniel said, "The question is not whether were on the right side. The only question or point is, is that we are the wrong side. Thats it." We are behind a lot of this madness. Our corporations are benefiting from it greatly. And people who live in the Flint, Michigans of this world are suffering considerably. So, Im proud to be part of this and be supportive of it. And Im veryof course Ive been very supportive of Bradley Manning, from the beginning, helping to fund the fight. And I put up some of Julian Assanges bail money. AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you, Michael! MATT SLEDGE: I thinkwell get to, you know, WikiLeaks and whistleblowing in a minute, of course. Before we do that, I wanted to re-ask my question from the last panel about this drones memo. You know, whats the end game with thiswith the lawsuit here? You know, if you win the lawsuit and the administration retains the power to assassinate American citizens, you know, howis that Pyrrhic victory? CHRIS HEDGES: The memo is fascinating to read. It looks like its written MATT SLEDGE: Well, they wont release the memos yet. CHRIS HEDGES: Yes, well, the free white paper. MATT SLEDGE: Its a white paper, the pre-memo white paper. CHRIS HEDGES: The white paper. Right, the pre-memo white paper. What isbecause its so amateurish. It looks like its written by a first-year law student. I mean, you know, whatever you think of John Yooand I hope he burns in hellhe actually had a much more sophisticated legal argument to torture human beings. Look, the drone warsthis isits not an example of and I think this is true with the NDAA, I think its true with the FISA Amendment Act, I think

go all the way back. What theyre attempting to do is legally justify what theyre already doing. They have argued that under the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force Act they have a right to assassinate American citizens. I have read that act innumerable times, and Bruce and Carl did, and none of us find that in the act. That is, to be generous, a radical interpretation of the AUMF. And so, what theyre seeking to do is legally justify, in the same way that Yoo was attempting to legally justify torture. Theyre essentially looking for kind of legal cover. And so, I think its all connected. Its all a part of this very rapid descent into a frightening form of corporate totalitarianism. And that is just writ large across the landscape. And as we go downand they know were going down. Look, I mean, you know, theythese forces are cannibalistic. Forty percent of the summer Arctic sea ice melts, and here were literally watching the death throes of the planet, and these corporations, like Shell, look at it as a business opportunity. They know only one word, and thats "more." They have commodified everything. Human beings are commodities, disposable commodities. The ecosystem is a disposable commodity. And they willnow with no impediments, they will push and push and push. It makes Herman Melvilles Moby Dick, which Im just re-reading, the most prescient study of the American character, because were all on the Pequod, and Ahabs running the ship. And as Ahab said, "My means and my methods are sane, and my object is mad." And theyre not going to stop themselves. The formal mechanisms of power are not going to stop them. Its up to us. And literally, you know, I have a five-year-old, and his favorite book isOut of the Blue. Hell sit on the floor and look at narwhals and porpoises, and every time I see him do it, it rips my heart out, because I know that if there is not a radical change in our relationship to each other and to the planet, every single one of those sea creatures will be dead within his lifetime. In theological terms, as a seminary graduate, these are forces of death, literally. MATT SLEDGE: Well CHRIS HEDGES: And it is all MATT SLEDGE: Which is the corporation arguing, you know, or lobbying for Section 1021 of the NDAA? CHRIS HEDGES: All of them. All of them. Who writes our legislation but corporate lobbyists? The security and surveillance state is the mechanism. Look, we have, not far from here, a few blocks from here, a joint command center with the NYPD and Goldman Sachs. I was arrested in

front of Goldman Sachs with the Occupy movement. And let me tell you that when theywhen the security came out, it was a mixed security of Goldman Sachs security and NYPD security. These corporations have created 70 percent of ourwe have 16 intelligence agencies, and as Jeremy Scahill has pointed out, 70 percent of their work are outsourced corporations. We have handed the capacity for the security and surveillance state to private corporations. AMY GOODMAN: Chris Hedges is the Pulitzer Prize-winning former New York Times correspondent who has sued President Obama over the National Defense Authorization Act, the NDAA. Others involved in that suit are Noam Chomsky, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg. The suit is known as Hedges v. Obama. Before that, you were listening to the Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore. Are We Living in a Police State? Police state is no longer a hyperbolic term, nor should it imply some fictional fantasy world. It is already here. February 12, 2013 What does a police state really look like in practice in America? Is it the cartoonish dystopia of sci-fi books? Is it like 1998s The Siege which predicted a wholesale instatement of martial law? Or in the age of the drone-wielding police department, is it something more mundane and subtle yet nonetheless pernicious? From this city in the middle of middle America, it looks like the latter. When people think of Denver, many think of skiing and, since the last election, marijuana. But from here in the Mile High City, things seem a bit different. In the day to day operation of the city, we arent as much defined by snow and pot as we are by the fact that we live under the rule of an increasingly brutal police force. It is a police force that our political leaders are more than happy to deploy to punish undesirables, and worse, that the most powerful media organ is more than happy to defend. We have become, in short, a national cautionary tale one that no doubt epitomizes similar trends throughout the country. This sad situation has been long in the making. Over the last decade, while then-mayor John Hickenlooper was gaining national plaudits for his geek-scientist charm, he was overseeing a police department that has become so violent toward citizens, that the U.S. Department of Justice

is now considering a formal civil rights investigation. In all, a Cato Institute studyshows that in terms of official misconduct, Denvers police force is the sixth worst in the entire country. The highest profile incidents tell the bigger story. For instance, after the 2008 Democratic Convention, Hickenloopers administration was forced to settle a lawsuit showing evidence that he ordered his police force to engage inindiscriminate arrests. In 2011, new mayor Michael Hancock joined with now-Gov. Hickenlooper to become the first government officials to sic riot-gear-clad police on peaceful Occupy Denver protestors, thus turning the State Capitol grounds into the visual definition of the term police state.The episode included firing tear gas and rubber bullets at unarmed citizens. As a followup, rather than initiating a formal investigation into the police, the Denver City Council then passed an ordinance empowering police to arrest homeless people, effectively criminalizing poverty in the middle of a recession and foreclosure crisis. Meanwhile, as the police department continues to reinstate officers who have been caught brutally beating citizens, the departments independent oversight office is so flooded with brutality charges that it cannot even process them all. Considering this, you might think that the states largest newspaper, The Denver Post, would be sounding the alarm. But quite the opposite has happened it has used its monopoly power to cheer on the police state. Thats not entirely surprising, of course. The paper is owned by archconservative Dean Singleton who, as I showed in a recent Harpers magazine report, is a 21st century caricature of Citizen Kane. In recent years, his editorial page has been so over the top in its vilification of his political enemies that an outsider couldnt be faulted for assuming the paper is an Onion-esque satire. For instance, there was the infamous front-page editorial vilifying then-Gov. Bill Ritter as Jimmy Hoffa for merely allowing public employees to unionize. There was the editorial insisting that the criminalization of homelessness was designed to help the homeless. And there was the constant attacks on Occupy movement culminating in one editorial praising police for forcibly crushing the protest and then another telling those who want to protest government policy to simply go home.

This weekend, however, was perhaps the shining example of what the propaganda of a police state really looks like. Next to a hysterical screed railing on a state proposal to guarantee firefighters workplace rights, the Post published an editorial opposing legislation to prevent municipal police departments from using armed drones. Thats right, in response to an initiative that would prevent police from outfitting drones with devices such as Tasers and teargas, the newspaper of record in a city already plagued by police violence says such an idea is a step too far. If you dont live in Denver but this nonetheless all sounds familiar, thats not surprising. As the recession has caused more social foment across the country, and as media has consolidated into the hands of fewer and fewer status-quo-loving plutocrats, the collective response from the power establishment has been authoritarian in nature. We see it in New York City, where surveillance and stop-and-frisk tactics are running rampant and yet where billionaire media mogul Michael Bloomberg is regularly portrayed in the media as a great freedom mayor, thanks, in part, to the fact that reporters fear he will be their boss one day. And we see it in other cities where police are trying to prevent citizens from even documenting acts of police brutality. Taken together, whether in Denver or anywhere else, the trend is clear. Police state is no longer a hyperbolic term, nor should it imply some fictional fantasy world. It is already here, and it operates in an insipid way whereby its worst atrocities are deftly normalized by power-crazed politicians and power-worshiping media outlets. In that, it is less 1984 than Brave New World less blatantly horrific than subtly pernicious. Either way, though, the result is the same a police state that turns the word liberty into a meaningless political slogan, and not much more.

America's Outrageous Imperial Drone Warfare Each innocent killed by drone attacks is a victim of hubris. February 13, 2013 Last week, The New York Times published a chilling account of how indiscriminate killing in war remains bad policy even today. This time, its done not by young GIs in the field but by anonymous puppeteers guiding drones that hover and attack by remote control against targets thousands of miles away, often killing the innocent and driving their enraged and grieving families and friends straight into the arms of the very terrorists were trying to eradicate.

The Times told of a Muslim cleric in Yemen named Salem Ahmed bin Ali Jaber, standing in a village mosque denouncing al Qaeda. It was a brave thing to do a respected tribal figure, arguing against terrorism. But two days later, when he and a police officer cousin agreed to meet with three al Qaeda members to continue the argument, all five men friend and foe were incinerated by an American drone attack. The killings infuriated the village and prompted rumors of an upwelling of support in the town for al Qaeda, because, the Times reported, such a move is seen as the only way to retaliate against the United States. Our blind faith in technology combined with a false sense of infallible righteousness continues unabated. Reuters correspondent David Rohde recently wrote: The Obama administrations covert drone program is on the wrong side of history. With each strike, Washington presents itself as an opponent of the rule of law, not a supporter. Not surprisingly, a foreign power killing people with no public discussion, or review of who died and why, promotes anger among Pakistanis, Yemenis and many others. Rohde has firsthand knowledge of what a drone strike can do. He was kidnapped by the Taliban in 2008 and held for seven months. During his captivity, a drone struck nearby. It was so close that shrapnel and mud showered down into the courtyard, he told the BBC last year. Just the force and size of the explosion amazed me. It comes with no warning and tremendous force Theres sense that your sovereignty is being violated Its a serious military action. It is not this light precise pinprick that many Americans believe. Its a serious military action not this light precise pinprick that many Americans believe. A special report from the Council on Foreign Relations last month, Reforming U.S. Drone Strike Policies, quotes a former senior military official saying, Drone strikes are just a signal of arrogance that will boomerang against America. The report notes that, The current trajectory of U.S. drone strike policies is unsustainable without any meaningful checks imposed by domestic or international political pressure or sustained oversight from other branches of government, U.S. drone strikes create a moral hazard because of the negligible risks from such strikes and the unprecedented disconnect between American officials and personnel and the actual effects on the ground. Negligible? Such hubris brought us to grief in Vietnam and Iraq and may do so again with President Obamas cold-blooded use of drones and his indifference to so-called collateral

damage, grossly referred to by some in the military as bug splat, and otherwise known as innocent bystanders. Yet the ease with which drones are employed and the lower risk to our own forces makes the unmanned aircraft increasingly appealing to the military and the CIA. Were using drones more and more; some 350 strikes since President Obama took office, seven times the number that were authorized by George W. Bush. And theres a whole new generation of the weapons on the way deadlier and with greater endurance. According to the CFR report, Of the estimated three thousand people killed by drones the vast majority were neither al-Qaeda nor Taliban leaders. Instead, most were low-level, anonymous suspected militants who were predominantly engaged in insurgent or terrorist operations against their governments, rather than in active international terrorist plots. By the standards of slaughter in Vietnam, the deaths caused by drones are hardly a bleep on the consciousness of official Washington. But we have to wonder if each innocent killed a young boy gathering wood at dawn, unsuspecting of his imminent annihilation; a student who picked up the wrong hitchhikers; that tribal elder arguing against fanatics doesnt give rise to second thoughts by those judges who prematurely handed our president the Nobel Prize for Peace. Better they had kept it on the shelf in hopeful waiting, untarnished. Google Moves to Destroy Online Anonymity Unintentionally Helping Authoritarian Governments By Global Research News and Washington's Blog Global Research, February 10, 2013 Washington's Blog Governments Move to Destroy Online Anonymity Some of the worlds leading social critics and political critics have used pen names. As Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge points out (edited slightly for readability): Though often maligned (typically by those frustrated by an inability to engage in ad hominem attacks), anonymous speech has a long and storied history in the United States. Used by the likes of Mark Twain (aka Samuel Langhorne Clemens) to criticize common ignorance, and perhaps most famously by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay (aka publius) to write the Federalist Papers, we think ourselves in good company in using one or another nom de plume.

Particularly in light of an emerging trend against vocalizing public dissent in the United States, we believe in the critical importance of anonymity and its role in dissident speech. Like the Economist magazine, we also believe that keeping authorship anonymous moves the focus of discussion to the content of speech and away from the speaker as it should be. We believe not only that you should be comfortable with anonymous speech in such an environment, but that you should be suspicious of any speech that isnt. But governments especially authoritarian governments hate anonymity. A soon-to-be-released book by Google executive Eric Schmidt - called The New Digital Age describes the desire of authoritarian governments to destroy anonymity. The Wall Street Journal provides an excerpt: Some governments will consider it too risky to have thousands of anonymous, untraceable and unverified citizens hidden people; theyll want to know who is associated with each online account, and will require verification at a state level, in order to exert control over the virtual world. Last December, China started requiring all web users to register using their real names. But the U.S. is quickly moving in the same direction. As Gene Howington reported last year: Do you have a right to anonymous political free speech? According to the Supreme Court, you do. According to the Department of Homeland Security, you dont. Theyve hired General Dynamics to track U.S. citizens exercising this critical civil right. The history of anonymous political free speech in America dates back to our founding. The seminal essays found in The Federalist Papers were written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay under the nom de plume of Publius although this was not confirmed until a list of authorship complied by Hamilton was posthumously released to the public. As previously discussed on this blog, the right to anonymous political free speech has been addressed by the Supreme Court. Most notably in the cases of Talley v. California, 362 U.S. 60 (1960) and McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission, 514 U.S. 334 (1995). In Talley, Justice Hugo Black writing for the majority said that, Anonymous pamphlets, leaflets, brochures and even books have played an important role in the progress of mankind. Persecuted groups and sects from time to time throughout history have been able to criticize oppressive practices and laws either anonymously or not at all. In McIntyre, Justice John Paul Stevens writing for the majority said that, Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. [ ] an authors decision to remai n anonymous, like other decisions concerning omissions or additions to the content of a publication, is an aspect of the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment. That seems clear enough in defining that citizens do have a Constitutionally protected right to anonymous political free speech. The full DHS policy statement regarding its activities can be viewed in the DHS Privacy Compliance Review of the NOC Media Monitoring Initiative (November 15, 2011), but rt.coms summary spells out the basics:

Under the National Operations Center (NOC)s Media Monitoring Initiative that came out of DHS headquarters in November, Washington has the written permission to retain data on users of social media and online networking platforms. Specifically, the DHS announced the NCO and its Office of Operations Coordination and Planning (OPS) can collect personal information from news anchors, journalists, reporters or anyone who may use traditional and/or social media in real time to keep their audience situationally aware and informed. According to the Department of Homeland Securitys own definition of personal identifiable information, or PII, such data could consist of any intellect that permits the identity of an individual to be directly or indirectly inferred, including any information which is linked or linkable to that individual. Previously established guidelines within the administration say that data could only be collected under authorization set forth by written code, but the new provisions in the NOCs write-up means that any reporter, whether someone along the lines of Walter Cronkite or a budding blogger, can be victimized by the agency. Also included in the roster of those subjected to the spying are government officials, domestic or not, who make public statements, private sector employees that do the same and persons known to have been involved in major crimes of Homeland Security interest, which to itself opens up the possibilities even wider. The department says that they will only scour publically-made info available while retaining data, but it doesnt help but raise suspicion as to why the government is going out of their way to spend time, money and resources on watching over those that helped bring news to the masses. rt.com This question about the right to anonymous political free speech is also asked over the background of the Electronic Privacy Information Center filing a FOIA request against the DHS to find out the details of the agencys social network monitoring program. *** As part of recent disclosures related to the EPIC suit, it is revealed that the DHS has hired and instructed General Dynamics to monitor political dissent and the dissenters. The range of websites listed as being monitored is quite impressive. Notably, jonathanturley.org is not on this list [Howington's essay is a guest blog on constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley's website], but equally of note is that this list is by the DHS own admission representative and not comprehensive. *** Some of the more high profile and highly trafficked sites being monitored include the comments sections of The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, the Huffington Post, the Drudge Report, Wired, and ABC News. In addition, social networking sites Facebook, MySpace and Twitter are being monitored. For the first time, the public not only has an idea who the DHS is pursuing with their surveillance and where, but what they are looking for as well. General

Dynamics contract requires them to [identify] media reports that reflect adversely on the U.S. Government, DHS, or prevent, protect, respond government activities. The DHS also instructed General Dynamics to generate reports on DHS, Components, and other Federal Agencies: positive and negative reports on FEMA, CIA, CBP, ICE, etc. as well as organizations outside the DHS. In other words, the DHS wants to know who you are if you say anything critical about the government. Anybody thinking of the name Goebbels at this point is not out of line. Indeed, valuing online privacy could even get you labeled as a potential terrorist. Google Moving to Help Destroy Anonymity Googles motto is Do No Evil. And Google notes in a patent application: When users reveal their identities on the internet, it leaves them more vulnerable to stalking, identity theft and harassment. So you might assume that Google is fighting to protect anonymity on the web. But Schmidts new book reveals that Google will support the destruction of anonymity (via Wall Street Journal): Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance. Search Engine Journal explains: [Passages from Schmidt's book] confirm what many industry writers have been passionately clattering away about for months now. Google+ is an identity verification network. As the network continues to grow, content associated with a verified identity will rise to the top of Google search rankings. In other words, Schmidt acknowledges (in the first quote above) that authoritarians want to destroy anonymity and Google will help them do so. We are not saying that Google likes authoritarians. (Potential ties between Google and the government are beyond the scope of this essay.) However, Google will do business with anyone and will cowtow to authoritarians they happen to do business with. Google is doing this to make money. Remember, Google gathers information across all of its platforms, and personalizes search engine results based upon what youve looked for in past searches.

After all, Google is primary an advertising company not a search company. See this, this, this and this. As the Daily Mail reported last year: A former Google executive has lambasted his ex-employer claiming that the search company has been turned into an ad company obsessed with harvesting peoples private information. James Whittaker, a current Partner Development Manager at Microsoft and ex-Engineering Director at Google, posted the 1328-word attack on Google on his Microsoft blog this week. Perhaps Google is right, writes Whittaker, Perhaps the future lies in learning as much about peoples personal lives as possible. The Google I was passionate about was a technology company. The Google I left was an advertising company. The move comes in the wake of Googles controversial new privacy policy, which allowed the search giant to pool information from 60 separate services including Gmail, Google Search and Android phones, to create personalised advertising. The bottom line is that anonymity reduces Googles ability to monetize personal information and sell it to its advertisers. So Google is on a campaign to destroy anonymity and unintentionally helping tyrants in the process. As INeedHits laments: We knew a day would come when privacy was a thing of the past, but Schmidt clearly spells out that day is sooner than we had expected. The Hubris of the Drones Posted: 02/12/2013 12:31 pm Last week, the New York Times published a chilling account of how indiscriminate killing in war remains bad policy even today. This time, it's done not by young GIs in the field but by anonymous puppeteers guiding drones that hover and attack by remote control against targets thousands of miles away, often killing the innocent and driving their enraged and grieving families and friends straight into the arms of the very terrorists we're trying to eradicate. The Times told of a Muslim cleric in Yemen named Salem Ahmed bin Ali Jaber, standing in a village mosque denouncing al Qaeda. It was a brave thing to do -- a respected tribal figure, arguing against terrorism. But two days later, when he and a police officer cousin agreed to meet with three al Qaeda members to continue the argument, all five men -- friend and foe -- were incinerated by an American drone attack. The killings infuriated the village and prompted rumors

of an upwelling of support in the town for al Qaeda, because, the Times reported, "such a move is seen as the only way to retaliate against the United States." Our blind faith in technology combined with a false sense of infallible righteousness continues unabated. Reuters correspondent David Rohde recently wrote, "The Obama administration's covert drone program is on the wrong side of history. With each strike, Washington presents itself as an opponent of the rule of law, not a supporter. Not surprisingly, a foreign power killing people with no public discussion, or review of who died and why, promotes anger among Pakistanis, Yemenis and many others. Rohde has firsthand knowledge of what a drone strike can do. He was kidnapped by the Taliban in 2008 and held for seven months. During his captivity, a drone struck nearby. "It was so close that shrapnel and mud showered down into the courtyard," he told the BBC last year. "Just the force and size of the explosion amazed me. It comes with no warning and tremendous force... There's sense that your sovereignty is being violated... It's a serious military action. It is not this light precise pinprick that many Americans believe." A special report from the Council on Foreign Relations last month, "Reforming U.S. Drone Strike Policies," quotes "a former senior military official" saying, "Drone strikes are just a signal of arrogance that will boomerang against America." The report notes that, "The current trajectory of U.S. drone strike policies is unsustainable... without any meaningful checks -- imposed by domestic or international political pressure -- or sustained oversight from other branches of government, U.S. drone strikes create a moral hazard because of the negligible risks from such strikes and the unprecedented disconnect between American officials and personnel and the actual effects on the ground." Negligible? Such hubris brought us to grief in Vietnam and Iraq and may do so again with President Obama's cold-blooded use of drones and his indifference to so-called "collateral damage," grossly referred to by some in the military as "bug splat," and otherwise known as innocent bystanders. Yet the ease with which drones are employed and the lower risk to our own forces makes the unmanned aircraft increasingly appealing to the military and the CIA. We're using drones more and more; some 350 strikes since President Obama took office, seven times the number that were authorized by George W. Bush. And there's a whole new generation of the weapons on the way - deadlier and with greater endurance. According to the CFR report, Of the estimated three thousand people killed by drones... the vast majority were neither alQaeda nor Taliban leaders. Instead, most were low-level, anonymous suspected militants who were predominantly engaged in insurgent or terrorist operations against their governments, rather than in active international terrorist plots.

By the standards of slaughter in Vietnam, the deaths caused by drones are hardly a bleep on the consciousness of official Washington. But we have to wonder if each innocent killed -- a young boy gathering wood at dawn, unsuspecting of his imminent annihilation; a student who picked up the wrong hitchhikers; that tribal elder arguing against fanatics -- doesn't give rise to second thoughts by those judges who prematurely handed our president the Nobel Prize for Peace. Better they had kept it on the shelf in hopeful waiting, untarnished.

Homeland Security Approves Their Right To Search and Seize Your Electronics Without Suspicion

(Source: Getty Images) Department of Homeland Security officers search cars as they enter Mexico Four years ago, Agnieszka Gaczkowska, a 29-year-old doctor and entrepreneur from Poland, was travelling through Detroits airport on her way to Boston when her bag was selected for random inspection. The inspection officer asked her if she had any documents with her. Exhausted after a long journey, she replied that she did not, forgetting that she had put a few outstanding bills in one of her textbooks. Suddenly, she found herself in serious trouble. The inspection officer found the bills and accused her of lying to a federal officer. They held her for two hours as she was interrogated about the details of her life. The officer ordered her to turn her phone on, and then proceeded to read her e-mails, texts, and Facebook messages without her permission. She was shocked. Eventually, Gaczkowska was released, but she wondered if this was a common practice.

We Don't Need a National ID Card Aaron Swartz Tragedy Means to His Generation

What the

The Next Privacy Battle: Cameras That Judge Your Every Move Tarun Wadhwa Contributor

The Nonexistent Facebook Democracy Is Now Gone for Good As it turns out it is; thousands of people every year face a similar situation. Our government agencies have allowed themselves the right to search and seize your electronic devices with stunning impunity. Just two weeks ago, the Department of Homeland Security quietly released a strangely worded document reaffirming their own right to search and seize your electronics without suspicion or cause, anywhere along the United States border (which they define as 100 miles in from the border an area twice as long as Rhode Island). In reality, this is nothing new, Homeland Security been doing this since at least 2009; Thats when Secretary Napolitano put her stamp on the Bush-era practice, and promised an impact assessment within 120 days. Over two years later, its finally here, and it is nothing more than a poorly written press release. Having a government official force their way into your laptop is fundamentally different from having them inspect your suitcase. Our hard drives contain personal correspondence, intimate details, deep logs of our activities, and sensitive financial or medical information. Yet we still give this less legal privacy protection than a sealed envelope with a stamp on it. For now, the business community has figured out a way around having the government search and confiscate devices with company secrets give their employees blank laptops, and put the important information in the cloud. This subject is much bigger than how Homeland Security

does its job. There is a deeper issue here that is not going away any time soon: our electronics, and the data they hold, have become extensions of who we are. The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution already provides us with protection against unreasonable search and seizures for people in their persons, houses, papers, and effects is it time that we add data to this list? The way in which we go about answering this question will have enormous ramifications for our entire legal system. Courts around the country are struggling to decide how to balance security with privacy. From school to the workplace, this question is popping up in different ways almost every day. In the meantime, the government has accelerated their pursuit of our digital breadcrumbs. In 2011, mobile companies received a staggering 1.3 million law enforcement requests for data, including text messages and location information. It has been over 25 years since Ronald Reagan signed sweeping digital privacy protections into law. In todays world of cloud computing and ubiquitous screens, these protections are horribly inadequate. We should not have to continue to rely on protections passed in an age where the Internet was a military project and the personal computer was just becoming a common thing. Eventually, the Supreme Court will have to step in to settle the issue, and they are not exactly known for their technological expertise. It might not be long before we are asked at the airport whether we packed our own devices, if we were asked to bring anyone elses files, and if we know if anyone has placed any data on our devices without our knowledge. At least then, it might seem polite; for now, they dont even have to bother with the questions.

Obamas Expanding Kill List by Paul Craig Roberts February 13, 2013

Prosecutors always expand laws far beyond their intent. Attorneys in civil cases do the same. For example, the 1970 Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act was passed in order to make it easier for the government to convict members of the Mafia. However, the law, despite its intent, was quickly expanded by prosecutors and attorneys and used in cases against pro-life activists, Catholic bishops, corporations accused of hiring illegal immigrants, and in divorce cases. Junk bond king Michael Milken, a person with no ties to organized crime, was threatened with indictment under the RICO Act. Prosecutors have found that the asset freeze provision in the Act is a convenient way to prevent a defendant from being able to pay attorneys and, therefore, makes it easier for prosecutors to coerce innocent defendants into a guilty plea. We are now witnessing the expansion of Obamas Kill List. The list began under the Bush regime as a rationale for murdering suspect citizens of countries with which the US was not at war. The Obama regime expanded the scope of the list to include the execution, without due process of law, of US citizens accused, without evidence presented in court, of association with terrorism. The list quickly expanded to include the American teen-age son of a cleric accused of preaching jihad against the West. The sons association with terrorism apparently was his blood relationship to his father.

As Glenn Greenwald recently wrote, the power of government to imprison and to murder its citizens without due process of law is the certain mark of dictatorship. Dictatorship is government unconstrained by law. On February 10 the Wall Street Journal revealed that the Obama dictatorship now intends to expand the Kill List to include those accused of acting against foreign governments. Mokhtar Belmokhtar, an Algerian militant accused of planning the January attack on an Algerian natural gas facility, has been chosen as the threat that is being used to expand Obamas Kill List to include participants in the internal disputes and civil wars of every country. If the Obama regime is on the side of the government, as in Algeria, it will kill the rebels opposing the government. If the Obama regime is on the side of the rebels, as in Libya, it will kill the governments leaders. Whether Washington sends a drone to murder Putin and the president of China remains to be seen. But dont be surprised if Washington has targeted the president of Iran. The elasticity of the Kill List and its easy expansion makes it certain that Washington will be involved in extra-judicial executions of those associated with terrorism over much of the world. Americans themselves should be alarmed, because the term association with terrorism is very elastic. Federal prosecutors have interpreted the term to include charitable contributions to Palestinians. The next time former US Representative Cynthia McKinney gets on an aid ship to Palestine, will Washington give the green light to Israel to kill her as a terrorist agent for her association with aid to Gaza, ruled by the terrorist organization, Hamas? Already a year or two ago, the director of Homeland Security said that the federal police agencys focus had shifted from terrorists to domestic extremists, another elastic and undefined term. A domestic extremist will be all who disagree with Washington. They also, are headed for the Kill List. Where is the government going with this? The most likely outcome is that everyone disliked or distrusted by those who have the power to add to the Kill List will find themselves on the list. The government can expand the Kill List beyond the original intent as easily as the RICO Act was expanded beyond its original intent. As the Founding Fathers knew and the American people have forgotten, no one is safe in a dictatorship. Clearly, the American public lacks sufficient comprehension to remain a free people. All indications are that the large majority of Americans fear alleged terrorists in distant lands more than they fear their governments acquisition of dictatorial powers over thempowers that allow government to place itself above the law and to be unaccountable to law. This is despite the fact that 99.999% of all Americans will never, ever, experience any terrorism except that of their own government. According to a recent poll of registered American voters, 75% approve of Washingtons assassination of foreign citizens abroad based on suspicion that they might be terrorists, despite

the fact that the vast majority of the Gitmo detainees, declared by the US government to be the most dangerous men on earth, turned out to be totally innocent. Only 13% of registered voters disapprove of the extra-judicial murders carried out by Washington against foreign citizens, whether based on wrong intelligence, hearsay, or actual deeds. Registered voters have a different view of the extra-judicial murder of US citizens. In what the rest of the world will see as further evidence of American double-standards, 48% believe it is illegal for Washington to murder US citizens without due process of law. However, 24% agree with the Obama regime that it is permissible for the government to murder its own citizens on accusation alone without trial and conviction of a capital crime. As The Onion put it, 24% of citizens were unequivocally in favor of being obliterated at any point, for any reason, in a massive airstrike. Are we to be reassured or alarmed that 24% of registered voters believe that the terrorist threat is so great that suspicion alone without evidence, trial, and conviction is sufficient for Washington to terminate US citizens? Should not we be disturbed that a quarter of registered voters, despite overwhelming evidence that Washingtons wars are based on conscious liesweapons of mass destruction, Al-Qaeda connectionsare still prepared to believe the governments claim that the person it just murdered was a terrorist? Why are so many Americans willing to believe a proven liar? If we add up all the costs of the war on terror, it is obvious that the costs are many magni tudes greater than the terror threat that the war is alleged to contain. If terrorists were really a threat to Americans, shopping centers and electric substations would be blowing up constantly. Airport security would be a sham, because terrorists would set off the bombs in the crowded lines waiting to clear security. Traffic would be continually tied up from roofing nails dispensed on all main roads in cities across the country for each rush hour. Water supplies would be poisoned. Police stations would be bombed and police officers routinely terminated on the streets. Instead, nothing has happened despite Washingtons killing and displacement of huge numbers of Muslims in seven or eight countries over the past 11 years. The cost of the war on terror is not merely the multi-trillion dollar financial bill documented by Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes. The cost of Washingtons wars is the main reason for the large national debt, the threat of which politicians are using to destroy the social safety net. This is a huge cost for a pointless war that pleases Israel and enriches the armament companies but does nothing for Americans. The financial cost is huge, but how important is this cost compared to another costthe domestic police state supported by a significant percentage of the population and a majority in Congress and the media? Is the war on terror worth the evisceration of the US Constitution? A war that costs us the Constitution means our total defeat. The cost in human life has been enormous. Millions of Muslims have been killed, wounded, orphaned, and displaced, and entire countries have been destroyed as socio-political entities. Washington locked Iraq in sectarian murder. Libya has no government, just warring factions, and

now Syria is in the process of being disintegrated. The prospects for peoples lives in these countries have been ruined for years to come. The cost in American lives has also been high. More than 400,000 American lives have been adversely affected by 11 years of pointless war. The deaths of 6,656 US troops, the 50,000 wounded, the 1,700 life-changing limb amputations, and the suicides are just the tip of the iceberg. Since the Bush-Obama wars began, 129,731 US troops have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. And now we learn from a new Congressional Research Service report that more than a quarter million of US troops have experienced Traumatic Brain Injury. Based on current diagnostic capability, three-fourths of the cases are classified as mild. These lost, ruined and impaired lives affect also the lives of many othersspouses, children, parents, siblings, and those disheartened by their governments pointless wars who have to care for the damaged. There are many Americans who have been collaterally damaged by Washingtons pointless wars. Obamas Expanding Kill List by Paul Craig Roberts February 13, 2013 Will Americans wake up in time? I wish I could answer, yes, but I regret that Americans are an insouciant people. They are unaware. Americans are more concerned with sports events, sales, and which celebrities are sleeping together than they are with their liberty. Washington can create a police state, because there are insufficient citizens with the intelligence, education, and awareness to stop Washington. Congress has accepted the police state and has given up too much of its power to the executive branch and is too beholden to the special interests that benefit from the police state to do anything about it. The federal judiciary has proven to be almost as impotent. Federal judges did not ask federal prosecutors why, in violation of the whistleblower protection laws, they were prosecuting National Security Agency senior executive Thomas Drake for blowing the whistle on the NSAs illegal spying on US citizens instead of the officials who broke the law and committed felonies. Judges did not ask why CIA agent John Kiriakou was prosecuted for blowing the whistle on the torture program instead of those who committed crimes by authorizing and committing torture. The innocent and the truth-tellers were prosecuted. The criminals and the liars were not. The destruction of truth and the law in the US is the legacy of 9/11. Both conservatives and the left-wing have bought into the governments preposterous story that a few Saudi Arabians, unsupported by any government or intelligence agency, outwitted every institution of the National Security State and inflicted the most humiliating blow against a superpower in human history.

They buy into this story despite unequivocal evidence that WTC building 7 came down at free fall acceleration, an event that can only occur as a result of controlled demolition. But evidence and expert testimony no longer have authority in the US, which now has its own form of Lysenkoism. Lysenko was a quack Soviet scientist, a charlatan who successfully persecuted Soviet geneticists for setting themselves against Marxism by not having a Marxist theory of genetics. Soviet geneticists were arrested and executed for being against the people. Even the world famous Soviet geneticist, Nikolai Vavilov, was arrested and died in prison. Americans dont know any more about physics and structural architecture and engineering that the Soviet population and Stalin knew about genetics. Today Lysenkoism is used as a metaphor to denote the corruption of science in behalf of a social, political, or ideological purpose. Lysenko used lies to gain power, just as Ponzi scheme operators use lies to gain wealth. Power is an Aphrodisiac, and everyone in Washington wants it. All indications are that they have it. Liberty is disappearing before our eyes. Expect no help from progressives, who believe in Obama more than they believe in liberty. This article was originally published at PaulCraigRoberts.org and has been used here with permission. By Paul Craig Roberts Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury, Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal, columnist for Business Week, and professor of economics. His book, Economies In Collapse, is being published in Germany this month. 10 Responses to Obamas Expanding Kill List

1. Brian Harris Reply February 14, 2013 at 4:45 am The underlying problem is that you move back and forth between the Obama and Bush admins. While true some Americans are unaware some are. When drone strikes kill people such as Anwar al-Awlaki who had planned and orchestrated the attempted bombing of the passenger jet many aware Americans see no problem in killing him. Its more efficient and less costly to use a drone versus sending special ops to kill him.

Jeremy R. Hammond Reply February 14, 2013 at 2:30 pm You miss the point. It isnt about cost. One, there is no evidence that al-Awlaki planned and orchestrated the attempted bombing of the passenger jet, and, two, even if there was, targeted assassination is illegal and immoral.

Brian Harris Reply February 14, 2013 at 2:51 pm The whole point is that drone strikes are themselves are subjective. Some would argue that more needs to be done to mitigate against civilian casualties. Most evidence points to the fact that he did plan the failed attack. In either case he was an avowed jihadist, ample video evidence, and he vowed to orchestrate other attacks. Again what one person would argue is illegal another would argue is within the grounds of a rational policy. Again more needs to be done to mitigate against civilian casualties.

Jeremy R. Hammond Reply February 14, 2013 at 5:17 pm Again, one, no evidence has been presented that he planned any attacks, and, two, extrajudicial assassinations are by definition illegal. What can be done to end the killing of innocent civilians is to stop the illegal drone attacks.

Brian Harris February 15, 2013 at 4:33 pm Any number of sources like the New York Times, Washington Post and yes even Al Jazeera point to his role in Al Qaeda and planning attacks against the US. But I

guess if you dont believe those sources probably think 9/11 was an inside job. But I digress. Illegal or not vast numbers of reasonable people view targeted strikes as an option in dealing with external threats.

Jeremy R. Hammond February 15, 2013 at 11:07 pm The mainstream media like the NYT and WaPo also claimed that Iraq had WMD. I defer to my previous comment.

2. brian Harris Reply February 16, 2013 at 1:37 am And about Al Jazeera? Not all media sources are in on some vast conspiracies.

Jeremy R. Hammond Reply February 16, 2013 at 10:35 am My point remains.

3. Deepak Tripathi Reply February 16, 2013 at 7:08 pm On one side of this argument is the rule of law, on the other is the perverse logic of majoritarianism, resulting in the tyranny of the majority, an ever-changing feast of distorted democracy. Politicians or thinking people (?), whoever choose the latter do so at their peril.

4.

What If? by Paul Craig Roberts - No Comment How the nationalistic mantra of "the greatest country in the world" hurts America.

February 18, 2013 Last week, North Korea tested a nuclear weapon, and the US - the country with the world's largest stockpile of that weapon and the only one in history to use it - led the condemnation (US allies with large nuclear stockpiles, such as Britain and Israel, vocally joined in). Responding to unnamed commentators who apparently noted this contradiction, National Review's Charles Cooke voiced these two assertions:

Nobody can reasonably dispute that North Korea is governed by a monstrous regime and that it would be better if they lacked a nuclear weapons capability. That isn't what interests me about this. What interests me here is that highlighted claim: that the US "is the greatest country in world history", and therefore is entitled to do that which other countries are not. This declaration always genuinely fascinates me. Note how it's insufficient to claim the mere mantle of Greatest Country on the Planet. It's way beyond that: the Greatest Country Ever to

Exist in All of Human History (why not The Greatest Ever in All of the Solar Systems?). The very notion that this distinction could be objectively or even meaningfully measured is absurd. But the desire to believe it is so strong, the need to proclaim one's own unprecedented superiority so compelling, that it's hardly controversial to say it despite how nonsensical it is. The opposite is true: it has been vested with the status of orthodoxy. What I'm always so curious about is the thought process behind this formulation. Depending on how you count, there are 179 countries on the planet. The probability that you will happen to be born into The Objectively Greatest One, to the extent there is such a thing, is less than 1%. As the US accounts for roughly 5% of the world's population, the probability that you will be born into it is 1/20. Those are fairly long odds for the happenstance of being born into the Greatest Country on Earth. But if you extend the claim to the Greatest Country that Has Ever Existed in All of Human History, then the probability is minute: that you will happen to be born not only into the greatest country on earth, but will be born at the precise historical time when the greatest of all the countries ever to exist is thriving. It's similar to winning the lottery: something so mathematically improbable that while our intense desire to believe it may lead us on an emotional level wildly to overestimate its likelihood, our rational faculties should tell us that it is unlikely in the extreme and therefore to doubt seriously that it will happen. Do people who wave the Greatest Country in All of Human History flag engage that thought process at all? I'm asking this genuinely. Given the sheer improbability that it is true, do they search for more likely explanations for why they believe this? In particular, given that human beings' perceptions are shaped by the assumptions of their culture and thus have a natural inclination to view their own culture as superior, isn't it infinitely more likely that people view their society as objectively superior because they're inculcated from birth in all sorts of overt and subtle ways to believe this rather than because it's objectively true? It's akin to those who believe in their own great luck that they just happened to be born into the single religion that is the One True One rather than suspecting that they believe this because they were taught to from birth. At the very least, the tendency of the human brain to view the world from a self-centered perspective should render suspect any beliefs that affirm the objective superiority of oneself and

one's own group, tribe, nation, etc. The "truths" we're taught to believe from birth - whether nationalistic, religious, or cultural - should be the ones treated with the greatest skepticism if we continue to embrace them in adulthood, precisely because the probability is so great that we've embraced them because we were trained to, or because our subjective influences led us to them, and not because we've rationally assessed them to be true (or, as in the case of the British Cooke, what we were taught to believe about western nations closely aligned to our own). That doesn't mean that what we're taught to believe from childhood is wrong or should be presumed erroneous. We may get lucky and be trained from the start to believe what is actually true. That's possible. But we should at least regard those precepts with great suspicion, to subject them to particularly rigorous scrutiny, especially when it comes to those that teach us to believe in our own objective superiority or that of the group to which we belong. So potent is the subjective prism, especially when it's implanted in childhood, that I'm always astounded at some people's certainty of their own objective superiority ("the greatest country in world history"). It's certainly true that Americans are justifiably proud of certain nationalistic attributes: class mobility, ethnic diversity, religious freedom, large immigrant populations, life-improving technological discoveries, a commitment to some basic liberties such as free speech and press, historical progress in correcting some of its worst crimes. But all of those virtues are found in equal if not, at this point, greater quantity in numerous other countries. Add to that mix America's shameful attributes - its historic crimes of land theft, genocide, slavery and racism, its sprawling penal state, the company it keeps on certain human rights abuses, the aggressive attack on Iraq, the creation of a worldwide torture regime, its pervasive support for the world's worst tyrannies - and it becomes not just untenable, but laughable, to lavish it with that title. This is more than just an intellectual exercise. This belief in America's unparalleled greatness has immense impact. It is not hyperbole to say that the sentiment expressed by Cooke is the overarching belief system of the US political and media class, the primary premise shaping political discourse. Politicians of all types routinely recite the same claim, and Cooke's tweet was quickly re-tweeted by a variety of commentators and self-proclaimed foreign policy experts from across the spectrum. Note that Cooke did not merely declare America's superiority, but rather used it to affirm a principle: as a result of its objective superiority, the US has the right to do things that other nations do not. This self-affirming belief - I can do X because I'm Good and you are barred from

X because you are Bad - is the universally invoked justification for all aggression. It's the crux of hypocrisy. And most significantly of all, it is the violent enemy of law: the idea that everyone is bound by the same set of rules and restraints. This eagerness to declare oneself exempt from the rules to which others are bound, on the grounds of one's own objective superiority, is always the animating sentiment behind nationalistic criminality. Here's what Orwell said about that in Notes on Nationalism: "All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by 'our' side . . . The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them." Preserving this warped morality, this nationalistic prerogative, is, far and away, the primary objective of America's foreign policy community, composed of its political offices, media outlets, and (especially) think tanks. What Cooke expressed here - that the US, due to its objective superiority, is not bound by the same rules as others - is the most cherished and aggressively guarded principle in that circle. Conversely, the notion that the US should be bound by the same rules as everyone else is the most scorned and marginalized. Last week, the Princeton professor Cornel West denounced Presidents Nixon, Bush and Obama as "war criminals", saying that "they have killed innocent people in the name of the struggle for freedom, but they're suspending the law, very much like Wall Street criminals". West specifically cited Obama's covert drone wars and killing of innocent people, including children. What West was doing there was rather straightforward: applying the same legal and moral rules to US aggression that he has applied to other countries and which the US applies to non-friendly, disobedient regimes. In other words, West did exactly that which is most scorned and taboo in DC policy circles. And thus he had to be attacked, belittled and dismissed as irrelevant. Andrew Exum, the Afghanistan

War advocate and Senior Fellow at the Center for New American Security, eagerly volunteered for the task:

Click to enlarge.

Note that there's no effort to engage Professor West's arguments. It's pure ad hominem (in the classic sense of the logical fallacy): "who is "Cornell [sic] West" to think that anything he says should be even listened to by "national security professionals"? It's a declaration of exclusion: West is not a member in good standing of DC's Foreign Policy Community, and therefore his views can and should be ignored as Unserious and inconsequential. Leave aside the inane honorific of "national security professional" (is there a licensing agency for that?). Leave aside the noxious and pompous view that the views of non-national-securityprofessionals - whatever that means - should be ignored when it comes to militarism, US foreign policy and war crimes. And also leave aside the fact that the vast majority of so-called "national security professionals" have been disastrously wrong about virtually everything of significance over the last decade at least, including when most of them used their platforms and influence not only to persuade others to support the greatest crime of our generation - the aggressive attack on Iraq - but also to scorn war opponents as too Unserious to merit attention. As Samantha Power put it in 2007:

"It was Washington's conventional wisdom that led us into the worst strategic blunder in the history of US foreign policy. The rush to invade Iraq was a position advocated by not only the Bush Administration, but also by editorial pages, the foreign policy establishment of both parties, and majorities in both houses of Congress."

Given that history, if one wants to employ ad hominems: one should be listened to more, not less, if one is denied the title of "national security professional". The key point is what constitutes West's transgression. His real crime is that he tacitly assumed that the US should be subjected to the same rules and constraints as all other nations in the world, that he rejected the notion that America has the right to do what others nations may not. And this is the premise - that there are any legal or moral constraints on the US's right to use force in the world - that is the prime taboo thought in the circles of DC Seriousness. That's why West, the Princeton professor, got mocked as someone too silly to pay attention to: because he rejected that most cherished American license that is grounded in the self-loving exceptionalism so purely distilled by Cooke. West made a moral and legal argument, and US "national security professionals" simply do not recognize morality or legality when it comes to US aggression. That's why our foreign policy discourse so rarely includes any discussion of those considerations. A US president can be a "war criminal" only if legal and moral rules apply to his actions on equal terms as all other world leaders, and that is precisely the idea that is completely anathema to everything "national security professionals" believe (it also happens to be the central principle the Nuremberg Tribunal sought to affirm: "while this law is first applied against German aggressors, the law includes, and if it is to serve a useful purpose it must condemn aggression by any other nations, including those which sit here now in judgment"). US foreign policy analysts are permitted to question the tactics of the US government and military (will bombing these places succeed in the goals?). They are permitted to argue that certain policies will not advance American interests (drones may be ineffective in stopping Terrorism). But what they are absolutely barred from doing - upon pain of being expelled from the circles of Seriousness - is to argue that there are any legal or moral rules that restrict US aggression, and especially to argue that the US is bound by the same set of rules which it seeks to impose on others (recall the intense attacks on Howard Dean, led by John Kerry, when Dean suggested in 2003 that the US should support a system of universally applied rules because "we won't always have the strongest military": the very idea that the US should think of itself as subject to the same rules as the rest of the world is pure heresy). In 2009, Les Gelb - the former Pentagon and State Department official and Chairman Emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations: the ultimate "national security professional" - wrote an

extraordinary essay in the journal Democracy explaining why he and so many others in his circle supported the attack on Iraq. This is what he blamed it on: ...unfortunate tendencies within the foreign policy community, namely the disposition and incentives to support wars to retain political and professional credibility."

That someone like Les Gelb says that "national security professionals" have career incentives to support US wars "to retain political and professional credibility" is amazing, yet clearly true. When I interviewed Gelb in 2010 regarding that quote, he elaborated that DC foreign policy experts - "national security professionals" - know that they can retain relevance in and access to key government circles only if they affirm the unfettered right of the US to use force whenever and however it wants. They can question tactics, but never the supreme prerogative of the US, the unchallengeable truth of American exceptionalism. In sum, think tank "scholars" don't get invited to important meetings by "national security professionals" in DC if they point out that the US is committing war crimes and that the US president is a war criminal. They don't get invited to those meetings if they argue that the US should be bound by the same rules and laws it imposes on others when it comes to the use of force. They don't get invited if they ask US political officials to imagine how they would react if some other country were routinely bombing US soil with drones and cruise missiles and assassinating whatever Americans they wanted to in secret and without trial. As the reaction to Cornel West shows, making those arguments triggers nothing but ridicule and exclusion. One gets invited to those meetings only if one blindly affirms the right of the US to do whatever it wants, and then devotes oneself to the pragmatic question of how that unfettered license can best be exploited to promote national interests. The culture of DC think tanks, "international relations" professionals, and foreign policy commenters breeds allegiance to these American prerogatives and US power centers - incentivizes reflexive defenses of US government actions because, as Gelb says, that is the only way to advance one's careerist goals as a "national security professional". If you see a 20-something aspiring "foreign policy expert" or "international relations professional" in DC, what you'll view, with some rare exceptions, is a mindlessly loyal defender of US force and prerogatives. It's what that culture, by design, breeds and demands.

In that crowd, Cooke's tweets aren't the slightest bit controversial. They're axioms, from which all valid conclusions flow. This belief in the unfettered legal and moral right of the US to use force anywhere in the world for any reason it wants is sustained only by this belief in objective US superiority, this myth of American exceptionalism. And the results are exactly what one would expect from an approach grounded in a belief system so patently irrational. 2 out of every 3 Americans lost Fourth Amendment protections to DHS By Darlene Storm February 19, 2013 3:21 PM EST Two out of every three people reading this could have your electronic devices searched, without there being any reasonable suspicion, because the Department of Homeland Security has decided that such search and seizures do not violate your Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Border agents dont need probable cause and they dont need a stinking warrant since they dont need to prove any reasonable suspicion first. Nor, sadly, do two out of three people have First Amendment protection; it is as if DHS has voided those Constitutional amendments and protections they provide to nearly 200 million Americans.

Those numbers come from the ACLUs estimates of how many people live within 100 miles of the United States border, since Homeland Securitys Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

(CLCR) concluded that border searches of electronic devices do not violate the Fourth Amendment. Previously, the ACLU called this area the Constitution-Free Zone and provided a map showing how many people within states along the all our borders are affected without constitutional rights. The estimate is that nearly two out of three Americans live in the Constitution-Free Zone. Dont be silly by thinking this means only if you are physically trying to cross the international border. As we saw when discussing the DEA using license plate readers and data-mining to track Americans movements, the U.S. border stretches out 100 miles beyond the true border. Godfather Politics added: But wait, it gets even better! If you live anywhere in Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey or Rhode Island, DHS says the search zones encompass the entire state. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have a longstanding constitutional and statutory authority permitting suspicionless and warrantless searches of merchandise at the border and its functional equivalent. This applies to electronic devices, according to the recent CLCR Border Searches of Electronic Devices executive summary [PDF]: Fourth Amendment The overall authority to conduct border searches without suspicion or warrant is clear and longstanding, and courts have not treated searches of electronic devices any differently than searches of other objects. We conclude that CBPs and ICEs current border search policies comply with the Fourth Amendment. We also conclude that imposing a requirement that officers have reasonable suspicion in order to conduct a border search of an electronic device would be operationally harmful without concomitant civil rights/civil liberties benefits. However, we do think that recording more information about why searches are performed would help managers and leadership supervise the use of border search authority, and this is what we recommended; CBP has agreed and has implemented this change beginning in FY2012. First Amendment Some critics argue that a heightened level of suspicion should be required before officers search laptop computers in order to avoid chilling First Amendment rights. However, we conclude that the laptop border searches allowed under the ICE and CBP Directives do not violate travelers First Amendment rights. The ACLU said, Wait one darn minute! Hello, what happened to the Constitution? Where is the rest of CLCR report on the policy of combing through and sometimes confiscating travelers laptops, cell phones, and other electronic deviceseven when there is no suspicion of wrongdoing? DHS maintains it is not violating our constitutional rights, so the ACLU said: If its true that our rights are safe and that DHS is doing all the things it needs to do to safeguard them, then why wont it show us the results of its assessment? And why would it be legitimate to keep a report about the impact of a policy on the publics rights hidden from the very public being affected?

The Fourth Amendment states: 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. Just the same, as ChristainPost wrote, Your constitutional rights have been repealed in ten states. No, this isn't a joke. It is not exaggeration or hyperbole. If you are in ten states in the United States, your some of your rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights have been made null and void. The ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the entire DHS report about suspicionless and warrantless border searches of electronic devices. ACLU attorney Catherine Crump said We hope to establish that the Department of Homeland Security cant simply assert that its practices are legitimate without showing us the evidence, and to make it clear that the governments own analyses of how our fundamental rights apply to new technologies should be openly accessible to the public for review and debate. Meanwhile, the EFF has tips to protect yourself and your devices against border searches. If you think you know all about it, then you might try testing your knowledge with a defending privacy at the U.S. border quiz. McChrystal on drones: 'a covert fix for a complex problem' By DYLAN BYERS | 2/15/13 Foreign Affairs sends along an exclusive sneak preview of its interview with retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, in which the former Commander addresses his legacy as well as the Obama administration's reliance on drone strikes. "[M]any new presidents are initially enamored with the Central Intelligence Agency, because they are offered a covert fix for a complex problem," McChrystal tells Foreign Affairs editor

Gideon Rose. "But if you go back in history, I cant find a covert fix that solved a problem long term. There were some necessary covert actions, but theres no easy button for some of these problems." Two excerpts from the interview, which will be published in the next issue of Foreign Affairs and available online next Tuesday: Gideon Rose: It seems like the methods you pioneered in Iraq have been embraced by the U.S. government and the American public as a general approach to managing smallscale irregular warfare, and doing so in a way short of putting lots of boots on the ground or walking away entirely. Some would argue that this is the true legacy of Stan McChrystalthe creation of an approach to counterterrorism that is halfway between war and peace, at such a low cost and with such a light footprint that its politically viable for the long term in a way that war and disengagement are not. Do you disagree? Stanley McChrystal: I question its universal validity. If you go back to the British tactics on the North-West Frontier, the butcher and bolt tactics, where they would burn an area and punish the people and say, Dont do that anymore, and simultaneously offer a stipend to the leader while saying, If you will remain friendly for a period of time, well pay youthat approach worked for a fair amount of time. It managed problems on their periphery. But it certainly didnt solve the problems. The tactics that we developed do work, but they dont produce decisive effects absent other, complementary activities. We did an awful lot of capturing and killing in Iraq for several years before it started to have a real effect, and that came only when we were partnered with an effective counterinsurgency approach. Just the strike part of it can never do more than keep an enemy at bay. And although to the United States, a drone strike seems to have very little risk and very little pain, at the receiving end, it feels like war. Americans have got to understand that. If we were to use our technological capabilities carelesslyI dont think we do, but theres always the danger that you willthen we should not be upset when someone responds with their equivalent, which is a suicide bomb in Central Park, because thats what they can respond with. Gideon Rose: Did the success of your efforts in Iraq lead to an overemphasis on the use of direct action by Special Forces, raids and drone attacks and targeted killings, rather than indirect action, such as training and building local capacity? Stanley McChrystal: My wife Annie and I are not golfers, but some years ago, we took part in a golf tournament in our unit. After having significant trouble, on one of the tees, Annie used a Kevlar driver. She hit this amazing drive straight down the fairway, and she was elated. For the rest of the afternoon, the only club she used was the Kevlar driver. She chipped with it. She putted with it. She used it for everything. Thats the danger of special operating forces. You get this sense that it is satisfying, its clean, its low risk, its the cure for most ills. Thats why many new presidents are initially enamored with the Central Intelligence Agency, because they are offered a covert fix for a complex problem. But if you go back in history, I cant find a covert fix that solved a problem long term. There were some necessary covert actions, but theres no easy button for some of these problems. Thats the danger of interpreting what we did in Iraq as being the panacea for future war. Its not.

Inside the Bush Administration's Lawless Global Torture Regime (And How Obama Remains Complicit) A new report exposes the shocking breadth of the CIAs lawlessness in the age of the war on terror.

Guantanamo Prison Flight February 21, 2013 You may not have heard of Mohammed al-Asad, but the torture he suffered was carried out in your name. And his story is one of 136 such ordeals that were perpetrated by the Central Intelligence Agency. Those stories are told in a comprehensive report issued by the Open Society Foundations (OSF) this month. Titled "Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition," the report is the fullest accounting yet of the Bush administrations global torture ring. The document aims to fully fill in the gaps of what people know about the Bush administrations torture program, which enlisted the help of 54 countries around the world. Al-Asad is a Yemeni national who was detained in Tanzania in 2003 by security forces in that country. He was then shipped off to Djibouti where he was held incommunicado before being transferred to a U.S. rendition team which consisted of five people, all of whom wore black with their faces covered. Then al-Asad was shipped off to a third country, Afghanistan, where he was held in isolation, subject to loud music, faced harsh light 24 hours a day and had his diet manipulated. Finally, alAsad, by this time damaged by intense CIA-led torture, was handed off to Yemen, his home country and a repressive ally of the U.S., where he was imprisoned for using forged travel

documents. He was finally released in 2006, without ever being charged with terrorism--the ostensible reason the CIA picked up him up and tortured him in the first place. Mohammed al-Asads ordeal was by no means unique. He was caught up in the dragnet of the CIAs global program of extraordinary rendition, which liberally used torture on alleged terrorist suspects, though some were undoubtedly innocent. In total, 136 people were subject to either the CIAs black sites or extraordinary rendition operations. Authored by Amrit Singh, senior legal officer for national security and counterterrorism at the Open Society Foundations, the report fully exposes the shocking breadth of the CIAs lawlessness in the age of the war on terror. There was a need for a comprehensive public record on the scale and scope of the CIAs secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations, both in terms of the victims of these operations and the associated human rights abuses, as well as the governments that were complicit, Singh told AlterNet. The OSF publication gives names to the people tortured by the CIA, exposes the governments around the globe complicit in Americas torture ring, calls for investigations and accountability for the lawless programs, and makes clear that extraordinary renditions were not outlawed by the Obama administration and that the U.S. has a responsibility under the law to investigate and prosecute those behind the global torture program right now. It is at once a call for action directed at the Obama administration and an important historical document that lays bare the utter depravity of the Bush administrations practices. The Obama administrations mantra on the torture carried out under the Bush administration has been to look forward, and not backward. This has resulted in grotesque abuses carried out by the CIA being swept under the rug, with no criminal prosecutions forthcoming. And while Obama did sign a much-heralded executive order to ban torture, the order also was specifically crafted to preserve the CIAs authority to detain terrorist suspects for short periods prior to rendering them to another country for interrogation or trial, writes Singh. Globalizing Torture focuses on two different yet interlocking aspects of the CIAs global torture program, which the Bush administration put into overdrive following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Extraordinary rendition is defined as the transferwithout legal processof a detainee to the custody of a foreign government for purposes of detention and interrogation, as the report states. The black sites were a secret detention program under which suspected terrorists were held in CIA prisons, and where they were subjected to interrogation methods that involved torture and other abuses. Singh explains how these are related, writing: The two programs had similar modalities and entailed the same kinds of human rights violationsthe abduction and disappearance of detainees, their extra-legal transfer on secret flights to undisclosed locations around the world, followed by their incommunicado detention, interrogation, torture, and abuse. Moreover, extraordinary rendition typically involved secret detention by the United States if only for the time it took to transfer the person to the custody of another government. In some instances, the same detainee was subjected both to prolonged secret detention in CIA custody and extraordinary rendition to a country where the detainee was at real risk of torture. The CIA program of extraordinary rendition has its roots in the Clinton administration, as the OSF report notes. Egypt, a strong U.S. ally at the time known to use torture, was one country the CIA often worked with. But it was the Bush administration, following 9/11, that made the program a crucial aspect of how the global war on terror was fought. President Bush issued a directive authorizing the CIA to conduct these extraordinary renditions without any advance approval from either the White House or the Departments of Justice or State. The CIA gained broad authority to secretly transfer terrorist suspects to be detained and interrogated in the custody of foreign governments, including those known to employ torture. While the U.S. government claimed that the countries they sent suspects to had assured them torture wouldnt be used, those assurances were largely bunk. By 2005, the U.S. had extraordinarily rendered over 100 and perhaps as many as 150 people. What did this program of holding people in top-secret CIA prisons, or sending them off to other countries entail? Brutal torture in order to obtain intelligence about terrorist networks and plots-despite the fact that many interrogation experts say that torture usually produces bad information. But no matter: the CIA implemented a number of tactics that can only be called torture on suspected militants, though some were innocent of any crime. The tactics included walling, or

repeatedly thrusting a detainees head into a false wall; stress positions; forced nudity; sleep deprivation; dietary manipulation; and waterboarding. A series of memos from the Bush administrations Office of Legal Counsel purported to legalize these tactics. But as the report makes clear, none of the enhanced interrogation techniques (in Bush administration parlance) were legal. In fact, international law prohibits torture no matter what, even in the face of a national security emergency. The U.S. is a party to the UN Convention Against Torture, and in the U.S. there is a federal criminal statute that provides criminal penalties for acts of tortureincluding attempts and conspiracy to commit such actscommitted outside the United States. The U.S. is also a party to other international treaties that ban torture, like the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. But the Bush administration systematically violated both domestic and international law by engaging in a global torture program. The report also makes plain that it was not only the Bush administration that violated international law. Fifty-four governments around the globe that participated in the torture ring also violated international law by being parties to the program. Its unsurprising that stalwart allies of the U.S., like the authoritarian governments of Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and Pakistan, would willingly allow people to be tortured at the behest of the CIA. These governments have long battled Islamist political movements, and their participation was seen as a way to gather intelligence and crack down on extremists living in their midst. Afghanistan is also an unsurprising destination for those rendered, considering that the U.S. already had control of detainees there as a result of the invasion and occupation of the country in 2001. But there are also surprises. Countries held up as paragons of social democracy were deeply complicit. Iceland allowed the CIA to use its airspace and airports to transport prisoners to be tortured. Sweden apprehended individuals and transferred them to CIA custody for extraordinary rendition. And then theres also unstable countries like Somalia. The OSF report states that Somalia provided territory and guards for individuals subjected to secret CIA detention. From about 2002 onward, U.S. counterterrorism efforts in Somalia required the cooperation of faction leaders and former military or police officers.The CIA hired Somali warlords to kidnap suspected militants, creating what the International Crisis Group termed a small industry in abductions.

Notably, as Greg Grandin writes in TomDispatch, no Latin American country participated in the program. The global torture regime put in place by the CIA implicates dozens of governments, and that in itself is staggering. But as David Cole notes in theNation, those governments complicity may open a route to accountability. The United States may be able to suppress complaints at home, but it lacks the power to exercise such censorship abroad. The only fitting response to the globalization of torture is the globalization of accountability, writes Cole. One model of accountability, as Cole notes, has already been established. Last year, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Macedonia had violated the European Convention on Human Rights prohibitions on torture, inhuman treatment and arbitrary detention by handing Khaled El-Masri to the CIA, which rendered him to Afghanistan and tortured him, according to Cole. The court held that transferring El-Masri to the CIA under such circumstances amounted to complicity in torture and ordered Macedonia to pay damages. The European Court has no jurisdiction over the United States, and therefore could not issue a remedy against it; but it did find expressly that the CIA tortured El-Masri, a predicate to its finding of Macedonias complicity. More recently, Italys former intelligence chief was given 10 years in prison for his role in the kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric who was then taken to an American air base and shipped off to Egypt, where he was tortured. Those European cases make plain why the OSF report remains relevant and vitally important. More investigations and prosecutions of high-level officials in the nations that participated in the CIAs torture program could still come in the years ahead. The black mark of the CIAs practices will continue to hang over the world as long as accountability is lacking. And there are other reasons why the OSF report remains relevant. One glaring one is that the Obama administration is obligated under the law to investigate and prosecute officials who crafted the illegal torture program. And U.S. courts have acquiesced to the Obama administrations attempts to shield officials who were responsible for extraordinarily rendering

people off to be tortured. Another glaring reason is that the Obama administration has not banned extraordinary rendition or CIA black sites, as the OSF report makes clear. Furthermore, reports of secret detention with the involvement of the CIA have continued to surface during the Obama administration, making clear that the excesses of the Bush era have yet to be fully excised. Asked by AlterNet whether extraordinary rendition remains in use in the Obama era, Singh replied: Its a little bit hard to know what the current governments policies are because they still remain secret...The full extent of what is actually continuing has not been acknowledged by the Obama administration. So these [news reports of CIA involvement in secret detentions] raise serious questions about what the Obama administrations policies are. And as ProPublica revealed this month, 20 prisoners who were held by the CIA remain missing. Nobody knows what happened to them or where they are. Perhaps the reports most important section is its recommendations, which provide a path forward to correcting the lawless global torture regime. The OSF publication calls on the U.S. to fully repudiate extraordinary rendition; disclose information related to human rights violations; conduct criminal investigations into the CIAs torture; create a board to provide compensation for the victims of the program; and institute safeguards to ensure that counterterrorism operations by the U.S. dont run afoul of the law. The human rights violations associated with CIA secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations were significant and systemic, writes Singh in the conclusion of her report. The time has come for the United States and its partner governments to admit to the truth of their involvement in secret detention and extraordinary rendition, repudiate these practices, and conduct effective investigations directed at holding officials accountable. Top U.S. Terrorist Group: the FBI A look inside Trevor Aaronson's book "The Terror Factory" about the FBI's terrorist plots.

February 23, 2013 A careful study of the FBI's own data on terrorism in the United States, reported in Trevor Aaronson's book The Terror Factory, finds one organization leading all others in creating terrorist plots in the United States: the FBI. Imagine an incompetent bureaucrat. Now imagine a corrupt one. Now imagine both combined. You're starting to get at the image I take away of some of the FBI agents' actions recounted in this book. Now imagine someone both dumb enough to be manipulated by one of those bureaucrats and hopelessly criminal, often sociopathic, and generally at the mercy of the criminal or immigration courts. Now you're down to the level of the FBI informant, of which we the Sacred-TaxpayersWho-Shall-Defund-Our-Own-Retirement employ some 15,000 now, dramatically more than ever before. And we pay them very well. Then try to picture someone so naive, incompetent, desperate, out-of-place, or deranged as to be manipulable by an FBI informant. Now you're at the level of the evil terrorist masterminds out to blow up our skyscrapers. Well, not really. They're actually almost entirely bumbling morons who couldn't tie their own shoes or buy the laces without FBI instigation and support. The FBI plants the ideas, makes the plans, provides the fake weapons and money, creates the attempted act of terrorism, makes an arrest, and announces the salvation of the nation. Over and over again. The procedure has become so regular that intended marks have spotted the sting being worked on them simply by googling the name or phone number of the bozo

pretending to recruit them into the terrorist brotherhood, and discovering that he's a serial informant. Between 911 and August, 2011, the U.S. government prosecuted 508 people for terrorism in the United States. 243 had been targeted using an FBI informant. 158 had been caught in an FBI terrorism sting. 49 (that we know of, FBI recording devices have completely unbelievable patterns of "malfunctioning") had encountered an agent provocateur. Most of the rest charged with "terrorism" had little or nothing to do with terrorism at all, most of them charged with more minor offenses like immigration offenses or making false statements. Three or four people out of the whole list appear to be men whom one would reasonably call terrorists in the commonly accepted sense of the word. They intended to and had something at least approaching the capacity to engage in acts of terrorism. These figures are not far off the percentages of Guantanamo prisoners or drone strike victims believed to be guilty of anything resembling what they've been accused of. So, we shouldn't single out the FBI for criticism. But it should receive its share. Here's how U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon understood a case that seems all too typical: "The essence of what occurred here is that a government, understandably zealous to protect its citizens from terrorism, came upon a man both bigoted and suggestible, one who was incapable of committing an act of terrorism on his own. It created acts of terrorism out of his fantasies of bravado and bigotry, and then made those fantasies come true. . . . I suspect that real terrorists would not have bothered themselves with a person who was so utterly inept." When we hear on television that the FBI has prevented a plot to blow up a crowded area of a big U.S. city, we either grow terrified and grateful, or we wait for the inevitable revelation that the FBI created the plot from start to finish, manipulating some poor fool who had zero contact with foreign terrorists and more often than not participated unwittingly or for the money offered him. But even those of us who do the latter might find Aaronson's survey of this phenomenon stunning. During some of its heretofore darkest days the FBI didn't use informants like it does now. J. Edgar Hoover's informants just observed and reported. They didn't instigate. That practice took off during the war on drugs in the 1980s. But the assumption that a drug dealer might have done the same thing without the FBI's sting operation is backed up by some statistics. There is no

evidence to back up the idea that the unemployed grocery bagger and video game player who sees visions, has never heard of major Islamic terrorist groups, can't purchase a gun with thousands of dollars in cash and instructions on how to purchase a gun, understands terrorism entirely from the insights of Hollywood movies, and who has no relevant skills or resources, is going to blow up a building without help from the FBI. (Which came first, the FBI's terror factory or Hollywood's is a moot question now that they feed off each other so well.) Read this book, I'm telling you, we're looking at people who've been locked away for decades who couldn't have found their ass with two hands and a map. These cases more than anything else resemble those of mentally challenged innocent men sitting on death rows because they tried to please the police officer asking them to confess to a crime they clearly knew nothing about. Of course the press conferences announcing the convictions of drug dealers and "terrorists" are equally successful. They also equally announce an ongoing campaign doomed to failure. The campaign for "terrorists" developed under President George W. Bush and expanded, like so much else, under President Barack Obama. Aaronson spoke with J. Stephen Tidwell, former executive assistant director at the FBI. Tidwell argued that someone thinking about the general idea of committing crimes should be set up and then prosecuted, because as long as they're not in prison the possibility exists that someone other than the FBI could encourage them to, and assist them in, actually committing a crime. "You and I could sit here, go online, and by tonight have a decent bomb built. What do you do? Wait for him to figure it out himself?" The answer, based on extensive data, is quite clearly that he will not figure it out himself and act on it. That the FBI has stopped 3 acts of terrorism is believable. But that the FBI has stopped 508 and there wasn't a 509th is just not possible. The explanation is that there haven't been 509 or even 243. The FBI has manufactured terrorist plots by the dozens, including most of the best known ones. (And if you watched John Brennan's confirmation hearing, you know that the underwear bomber and other "attacks" not under the FBI's jurisdiction have been no more real.) Arthur Cummings, former executive assistant director of the FBI's National Security Branch, told Aaronson that the enemy was not Al Qaeda or Islamic Terrorism, but the idea of it. "We're at war with an idea," he said. But his strategy seems to be one of consciously attempting to lose

hearts and minds. For the money spent on infiltrations and stings, the U.S. government could have given every targeted community free education from preschool to college, just as it could do for every community at home and many abroad by redirecting war spending. When you're making enemies of people rather than friends, to say that you're working against an idea is simply to admit that you're not targeting people based on a judicial review finding any probable cause to legally do so. The drug war's failure can be calculated in the presence of drugs, although the profits for prisons and other profiteers aren't universally seen as failures. The FBI's counterterrorism can be calculated as a failure largely because of the waste of billions of dollars on nonexistent terrorism. But there's also the fact that the FBI's widespread use of informants, very disproportionately in Muslim communities, has made ordinary people who might provide tips hesitant to do so for fear of being recruited as informants. Thus "counter terrorism" may make it harder to counter terrorism. It may also feed into real terrorism by further enraging people already outraged by U.S. foreign policy. But it's no failure at all if measured by the dollars flowing into the FBI, or the dollars flowing into the pockets of informants who get paid by commission (that is, based on convictions in court of their marks). Nor do weapons makers, other war profiteers, or other backers of right wing politics in general seem to be objecting in any way to the production of widespread fear and bigotry. Congressman Stephen Lynch has introduced a bill that would require federal law enforcement agencies to report to Congress twice a year on all serious crimes, authorized or unauthorized, committed by informants (who are often much more dangerous criminals than are those they're informing on). The bill picked up a grand total of zero cosponsors last Congress and has reached the same mark thus far in the current one. The corporate media cartel has seen its ratings soar with each new phony incident. Opposition to current practice does not seem to be coming from that quarter. And let's all be clear with each other: our society is tolerating this because the victims are Muslims. With many other minority groups we would all be leaping to their defense. It may be time to try thinking of Muslims as Samaritans, as of course some of them are.

David Swanson's books include "War Is A Lie." He blogs at davidswanson.org and warisacrime.org and works for the online activist organization rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. US Senator: Weve Killed 4,700 People With Drones
Breaking News | February 20, 2013 (Geoffrey Ingersoll) Senator Lindsey Graham supports drone strikes, so much so that he recently proclaimed Weve killed 4700 (people) at an Easley Rotary Club meeting, according to Easley Patch, a local news website. The senators 4,700 is actually higher than some other estimates by far less supportive groups. Micah Zenko, a researcher on the forefront of curbing drone use, wrote a report titled Reforming Drone Strikes, for the Council of Foreign Relations in January the report totaled, at 3,430, more than 1,000 fewer killed than Grahams estimate. Senator Graham also touched on the killing of Anwar Awlaki. Activists and journalists have staunchly voiced opposition to Awlakis death, calling it an extrajudicial killing. Well, Graham had something to say about perceived extrajudicial killing. From the Easley Patch: Hes a guy that was born in the United States, he radicalized Major Hasan, the guy at Fort Hood, Graham said. He helped plan the underwear bomber attack that failed. Hes been actively involved in recruiting and prosecuting the war for Al-Qaeda He was found in Yemen and we blew him up with a drone. Good. I didnt want him to have a trial, he continued. Were not fighting a crime, were fighting a war. I support the presidents ability to make a determination as to who an enemy combatant is. Its never been done by judges before. I support the drone program. Drone strikes have been, and will likely continue to be a controversial topic. Recently, the Pentagon announced plans to design an award apparently specifically for drone pilots and people operating in cyber space. The award, like drone strikes, has received a not insubstantial resistance. This article first appeared @ business insider

Veterans Are Receiving Letters From VA Prohibiting The Ownership Or Purchase Of Firearms (With Images) Breaking News | February 21, 2013 (Michael Connelly, J.D) How would you feel if you received a letter from the U.S. Government informing you that because of a physical or mental

condition that the government says you have it is proposing to rule that you are incompetent to handle your own financial affairs? Suppose that letter also stated that the government is going to appoint a stranger to handle your affairs for you at your expense? That would certainly be scary enough but it gets worse. What if that letter also stated: A determination of incompetency will prohibit you from purchasing, possessing, receiving, or transporting a firearm or ammunition. If you knowingly violate any of these prohibitions, you may be fined, imprisoned, or both pursuant to the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, Pub.L.No. 103-159, as implemented at 18, United States Code 924(a)(2).? That makes is sound like something right from a documentary on a tyrannical dictatorship somewhere in the world. Yet, as I write this I have a copy of such a letter right in front of me. It is being sent by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Americas heroes. In my capacity as Executive Director of the United States Justice Foundation (USJF) I have been contacted by some of these veterans and the stories I am getting are appalling. The letter provides no specifics on the reasons for the proposed finding of incompetency; just that is based on a determination by someone in the VA. In every state in the United States no one can be declared incompetent to administer their own affairs without due process of law and that usually requires a judicial hearing with evidence being offered to prove to a judge that the person is indeed incompetent. This is a requirement of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that states that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. Obviously, the Department of Veterans Affairs cant be bothered by such impediments as the Constitution, particularly since they are clearly pushing to fulfill one of Obamas main goals, the disarming of the American people. Janet Napolitano has already warned law enforcement that some of the most dangerous among us are Americas heroes, our veterans, and now according to this letter from the VA they can be prohibited from buying or even possessing a firearm because of a physical or mental disability. Think about it, the men and women who have laid their lives on the line to defend us and our Constitution are now having their own Constitutional rights denied. There are no clear criteria for the VA to declare a veteran incompetent. It can be the loss of a limb in combat, a head injury, a diagnosis of PTSD, or even a soldier just telling someone at the VA that he or she is depressed over the loss of a buddy in combat. In none of these situations has the person been found to be a danger to themselves or others. If that was the case than all of the Americans who have suffered from PTSD following the loss of a loved one or from being in a car accident would also have to be disqualified from owning firearms. It would also mean that everyone who has ever been depressed for any reason should be disarmed. In fact, many of the veterans being deprived of their rights have no idea why it is happening.

The answer seems to be it is simply because they are veterans. At the USJF we intend to find the truth by filing a Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Veterans Affairs to force them to disclose the criteria they are using to place veterans on the background check list that keeps them from exercising their Second Amendment rights. Then we will take whatever legal steps are necessary to protect our American warriors. The reality is that Obama will not get all of the gun control measures he wants through Congress, and they wouldnt be enough for him anyway. He wants a totally disarmed America so there will be no resistance to his plans to rob us of our nation. That means we have to ask who will be next. If you are receiving a Social Security check will you get one of these letters? Will the government declare that you are incompetent because of your age and therefore banned from firearm ownership. It certainly fits in with the philosophy and plans of the Obama administration. It is also certain that our military veterans dont deserve this and neither do any other Americans.

Summary of Select Firearm Violence Prevention Strategies Greg Ridgeway, Ph.D. Deputy Director National Institute of Justice January 4, 2013 On average there are about 11,000 firearm homicides every year. While there are deaths resulting from accidental discharges and suicides, this document will focus on intentional firearm homicides. Fatalities from mass shootings (those with 4 or more victims in a particular place and time) account on average for 35 fatalities per year. Policies that address the larger firearm homicide issue will have a far greater impact even if they do not address the particular issues of mass shootings. This document provides a cursory summary of select initiatives to reduce firearm violence and an assessment of the evidence for the initiative. Gun buybacks Twitter summary: Buybacks are ineffective unless massive and coupled with a ban Goal: Reduce access to firearms by incentivizing owners to dispose of their unwanted guns rather than transfer them to a more risky possessor Evidence: Gun buybacks are ineffective as generally implemented. 1. The buybacks are too small to have an impact. 2. The guns turned in are at low risk of ever being used in a crime. 3. Replacement guns are easily acquired. Unless these three points are overcome, a gun buyback cannot be effective. The 1997 Australia gun buyback and its associated regulations is an exception to this. 1. It was large, buying back 20% of the firearm stock. 2. It targeted semi-automatic weapons. 3. It coupled the buyback with a ban on certain weapons and a nationwide registration and licensing program. There is strong evidence that it reduced mass killings (before the initiative massacres occurred on average once per year and none have occurred in the 15 years since). The Australia buyback appears to have had no effect on crime otherwise. One study (Leigh & Neill 2010) has proven confusing in that its abstract suggests that Australias gun buyback reduced firearm homicide rates by 80%, but the body of the report finds no effect. Others (Reuter & Mouzas 2003) have used the same data and also found no effect on crime although they also noted that mass shootings appear to have disappeared in Australia. A third study (Chapman et al 2006) using Australian data from 1979 to 2003 shows that the firearm homicide rate was already declining prior to the firearm reforms and that there is no evidence that the new legislation accelerated the declines. This remains true when data through 2007 are added to the analysis (conducted by G. Ridgeway on 1/3/2013 at NIJ). Large capacity magazines restrictions Twitter summary: Great potential to reduce lethality; requires a massive reduction in supply Goal: Reduce the lethality of guns by reducing the number of rounds that can be quickly fired.

Program: Restrictions on the manufacture, sale, transfer, and possession of large capacity magazines (usually defined as holding more than 10 rounds). Evidence: Mass shootings predominantly involve the use of large capacity magazines. The most lethal ones all involve large capacity magazines. In addition large capacity magazines were used in nearly 25% of all crimes in 1993 just prior to the ban. There is reason to believe that reducing the availability of large capacity magazines could have an effect on the total number of homicides. In five cities studied closely found no change in the criminal use of large capacity magazines during the ten year ban. However, a Washington Post analysis for Virginia continued the analysis where the research team left off. The data indicate that the percentage of crime guns using large capacity magazines declined from 18% in 1999 (when magazine imports were highest) to its lowest level in 2004 (10% of crime guns had large capacity magazines). The percentage doubled between 2004, when the ban expired, and 2010. The 1994 ban on large capacity magazines had limited effectiveness because 1) Large capacity clips are a durable good 2) There were an estimated 25 million guns with large capacity magazines in 1995 3) The 1994 law exempted magazines manufactured before 1994 so that the importation of large capacity magazines manufactured overseas before 1994 continued through the ban 4) while the price of the clips increased dramatically (80% during the ban) they were not unaffordable. A 2004 study of the 1994 law found: because the ban has not yet reduced the use of [large capacity magazines] in crime, we cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nations recent drop in gun violence. The 1994 ban essentially did little to affect the supply of large capacity magazines. In order to have an impact, large capacity magazine regulation needs to sharply curtail their availability to include restrictions on importation, manufacture, sale, and possession. An exemption for previously owned magazines would nearly eliminate any impact. The program would need to be coupled with an extensive buyback of existing large capacity magazines. With an exemption the impact of the restrictions would only be felt when the magazines degrade or when they no longer are compatible with guns in circulation. This would take decades to realize.

Ammunition logs Twitter summary: Increases opportunities to detect illegal firearm possessors Goal: 1) Reduce flow of ammunition to the illicit market and 2) develop leads for illegal weapons. Program: Laws that prohibit certain individuals from owning firearms also pertain to ammunition (18 USC 922g&n). Whereas direct retail sales of firearms to criminals are regularly disrupted by instant background checks, sales of ammunition are essentially unchecked. Ammunition purchase logs are a means of checking for illegal purchases and for developing intelligence on illegal firearms.

Alternatively, several states do not record purchases, but rather require the purchaser to show a permit to purchase ammunition and only of the same caliber or gauge as their firearm. While purchasing a firearm is a one-time action, repeated purchases of ammunition create more complications for prohibited firearm possessors. Evidence: A study used criminal background checks conducted on individuals purchasing ammunition in Los Angeles in April and May 2004. 2.6% of transactions involved prohibited purchasers. They purchased 5,000 rounds of ammunition per month during this period. Rather than institute instant checks on ammunition purchases, local police began regularly checking the logs for illegal purchases, using it as an intelligence tool to find not only ammunition but also the illegally possessed weapons. Sacramento instituted a similar program and identified 13 illegal purchasers per month in the first year, recovering an average of 7 illegal firearms per month. There is evidence that the program can be used to identify prohibited purchasers and can aid in the recovery of illegal firearms. The volume of recoveries is not of a scale likely to impact the illegal firearm trade, but could disrupt some criminal activity. In 2009 California passed AB 962 that would make the ammunition logs statewide. It has since been held up in court due primarily to the use of the phrase handgun ammunition, which is not a well-defined phrase. Universal background checks Twitter summary: Effectiveness depends on the ability to reduce straw purchasing, requiring gun registration and an easy gun transfer process To understand the value of background checks it is essential to understand the source of crime guns. Several sporadic attempts have been made to learn how criminals acquire guns. For example, a 2000 study by the ATF found the following distribution of sources Source Percentage Straw purchase 47% Stolen Store Residence Common carrier 26% 14% 10% 2% Unregulated private seller 20% Gun shows/flea markets 13% Retail diversion 8% Note: Percentages do not add up to 100% since some sources fall into multiple categories (e.g. unregulated seller at a flea market) These figures indicate informal transfers dominate the crime gun market. A perfect universal background check system can address the gun shows and might deter many unregulated private sellers. However, this does not address the largest sources (straw purchasers and theft), which would most likely become larger if background checks at gun shows and private sellers were addressed. The secondary market is the primary source of crime guns. Ludwig and Cook (2000) compared states that introduced Brady checks to those states that already had background checks and found no effect of the new background checks. They hypothesized that the background checks simply shifted to the secondary market those offenders who normally purchased in the primary market. Supply sources can vary in different parts of the country. An NIJ funded study of the Los Angeles illicit gun market noted: Results showed that many crime guns were first purchased at localthat is, in countylicensed dealers, rather than from out of state. That is, contrary to the conventional wisdom that crime guns were being trafficked across state borders from places with

less stringent regulations, such as Arizona and Nevada, we found that a majority of the guns used in crimes were purchased in Los Angeles County. Thus, gun markets can be highly local. Understanding gun sources requires a sustained and localized surveillance program. For example, the program could interview new arrestees at intake about how they acquired their gun, cost, and general gun availability. This could be conducted in conjunction with BJAs plans to target local violence prevention programs in 20 cities. This is similar to the ADAM program for monitoring drug markets and could, in fact, complement any restart of ADAM. In the coming years such data could become available through BJS efforts; BJS will include a series of questions in its 2013/2014 national inmate survey. Target straw purchasers Straw purchasers are the primary source of crime guns. Importantly, straw purchasers have no record of a prohibiting offense. As a result, they are quite different from those who actually commit crimes. Consistent with criminological theory, because the person conducting the straw purchase does not have a criminal history forbidding him or her from making legal purchases, this population could potentially be deterred from initiating this illegal activity. Because straw purchasers are the largest source for the illicit market and these purchasers likely can be deterred, effort should be focused here. There is little evidence on what works. The ATF and NSSF sponsored the Dont Lie for the Other Guy public awareness campaign starting in 2000 but there are no evaluation reports of its effectiveness. A Los Angeles program to target straw purchasers sent new gun buyers a letter, signed by prominent law enforcement officials, indicating that law enforcement had a record of their gun purchase and that the gun buyer should properly record future transfers of the gun. The letters arrived during buyers 10- day waiting periods, before they could legally return to the store to collect their new gun. An NIJ-funded study found that the letter could modify gun owner behaviors. The study found that the rate at which guns are reported stolen for those who received the letter is more than twice the rate for those who did not receive the letter. While this does not show an effect on crime, it does show that a simple letter to those at risk of diverting guns to the illicit market can modify their behavior. Require all gun transfers to occur at an FFL Some states, such as California, require all transfers of guns to be properly documented (since 1923). This usually requires the involvement of a federally licensed dealer in the transaction. Despite this, straw purchasing continues largely unabated. Wachtel (1998) describes some straw purchasing of crime guns for Los Angeles between 1988 and 1995. There are disincentives to following the law in California ($35 and a waiting period). Such a process can discourage a normally law-abiding citizen to spend the time and money to properly transfer his or her firearm to another. To be effective, requiring all transfers to occur at an FFL needs to be coupled with all the necessary incentives (or at least no disincentives) for unlicensed sellers to follow the law. Sanctions and threats of penalties are insufficient. Gun shows Gun shows do provide firearms to the illicit market, but the problem is not uniquely about gun shows but rather secondary transfers of unregulated private sellers. Gun shows simply

convene numerous private sellers along with FFLs. Gun shows in states requiring all transfers to be documented have fewer illegal gun sales according to Wintemute et al 2007. Gun registration and continuous checks for possession eligibility Universal checks are insufficient for ensuring that firearm owners remain eligible. Convictions, mental health issues, and restraining orders can develop after the background checks. Recovering guns from those that become ineligible is likely effective. There is evidence from three studies that policies that check domestic violence perpetrators for firearm possession are effective at reducing intimate partner violence. Vigdor and Mercy (2006) found a 7% reduction in intimate partner homicide in states that allowed guns to be confiscated on site of domestic violence incidents. Zeoli and Webster (2010) found that state statutes restricting those under restraining orders from accessing firearms are associated with reductions of 20%-25% in total and firearm intimate partner homicide. Bridges et al (2008) found that most domestic violence laws do not effect intimate partner homicide except those relating to firearms. All three studies use methods that make alternative explanations unlikely. The challenge to implementing this more broadly is that most states do not have a registry of firearm ownership. Currently NICS background checks are destroyed within 24 hours. Some states maintain registration of all firearms. Gun registration aims to 1) increase owner responsibility by directly connecting an owner with a gun, 2) improve law enforcements ability to retrieve guns from owners prohibited from possessing firearms. Gun registration also allows for the monitoring of multiple gun purchases in a short period of time.

Assault weapon ban Twitter summary: Assault weapons are not a major contributor to gun crime. The existing stock of assault weapons is large, undercutting the effectiveness of bans with exemptions Goal: Limit access to assault weapons. Program: Ban the manufacture, sale, transfer, or possession of assault weapons. Evidence: Guns are durable goods. The 1994 law exempted weapons manufactured before 1994. The exemption of pre-1994 models ensures that a large stock, estimated at 1.5 million, of existing weapons would persist. Prior to the 1994 ban, assault weapons were used in 2-8% of crimes. Therefore a complete elimination of assault weapons would not have a large impact on gun homicides. A National Academy study of firearms and violence concluded that the weaknesses of the ban and the scientific literature suggest that the assault weapon ban did not have an effect on firearm homicides.

There is some evidence that the assault weapons bans can affect the availability of assault weapons. A 2004 study found that Following implementation of the ban, the share of gun crimes involving [assault weapons] declined by 17% to 72% across the localities examined for this study (Baltimore, Miami, Milwaukee, Boston, St. Louis, and Anchorage) This is consistent with patterns found in national data on guns recovered by police and reported to ATF. Weil and Knox (1997) found a sharp reduction in the number of assault weapons recovered by Baltimore police in the six months following Marylands ban on assault weapons. The federal ban came into effect a few months after Marylands ban, but Marylands ban had no provision grandfathering in already owned assault weapons. Since assault weapons are not a major contributor to US gun homicide and the existing stock of guns is large, an assault weapon ban is unlikely to have an impact on gun violence. If coupled with a gun buyback and no exemptions then it could be effective. The 1997 Australian gun buyback was massive in scale and, while it appears to have had no effect on gun homicide, Australia has had no mass shootings since the ban was put in place.

Smart guns Twitter summary: Most appropriate for making guns child safe or preventing police officers from being assaulted with their own firearm. Unlikely to affect gun crime Goal: Prevent gun use by unauthorized users, particular to prevent diversion of legally acquired firearms to the illicit market. Program: Between 1994 and 2004, the National Institute of Justice conducted a research effort to develop a technology that would preclude anyone but the owner of a gun from using it. If a gun were stolen with this technology installed, it would become inoperable. The focus of this effort was to preclude a law enforcement officers gun from being used if it were wrested from them during an assault. This technology was commonly referred to as smart gun technology because it enabled the gun to recognize its owner. In its 2005 assessment of this effort Technological Options for User-Authorized Handguns: A Technology-Readiness Assessment the National Academy of Engineering estimated that it would cost an additional $30 million and take 5 to 10 additional years to bring a smart gun to market. The most likely approach to achieving this capability would be through use of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. Evidence: The development of the technology has focused on making the guns child-proof or providing law enforcement officers with a firearm that could not be used against them. The realization of this technology would not prevent such shootings perpetrated by the owners of the guns involved. In addition this would not eliminate the illicit market, but rather alter it. There would remain an illicit market for guns that did not have this technology installed or for smart guns in which the technology had been neutralized.

Joyce Lee Malcolm: Two Cautionary Tales of Gun Control After a school massacre, the U.K. banned handguns in 1998. A decade later, handgun crime had doubled. Americans are determined that massacres such as happened in Newtown, Conn., never happen again. But how? Many advocate more effective treatment of mentally-ill people or armed protection in so-called gun-free zones. Many others demand stricter control of firearms. We aren't alone in facing this problem. Great Britain and Australia, for example, suffered mass shootings in the 1980s and 1990s. Both countries had very stringent gun laws when they occurred. Nevertheless, both decided that even stricter control of guns was the answer. Their experiences can be instructive. In 1987, Michael Ryan went on a shooting spree in his small town of Hungerford, England, killing 16 people (including his mother) and wounding another 14 before shooting himself. Since the public was unarmedas were the policeRyan wandered the streets for eight hours with two semiautomatic rifles and a handgun before anyone with a firearm was able to come to the rescue. Nine years later, in March 1996, Thomas Hamilton, a man known to be mentally unstable, walked into a primary school in the Scottish town of Dunblane and shot 16 young children and their teacher. He wounded 10 other children and three other teachers before taking his own life.

Since 1920, anyone in Britain wanting a handgun had to obtain a certificate from his local police stating he was fit to own a weapon and had good reason to have one. Over the years, the definition of "good reason" gradually narrowed. By 1969, self-defense was never a good reason for a permit. After Hungerford, the British government banned semiautomatic rifles and brought shotguns the last type of firearm that could be purchased with a simple show of fitnessunder controls similar to those in place for pistols and rifles. Magazines were limited to two shells with a third in the chamber. Dunblane had a more dramatic impact. Hamilton had a firearm certificate, although according to the rules he should not have been granted one. A media frenzy coupled with an emotional campaign by parents of Dunblane resulted in the Firearms Act of 1998, which instituted a nearly complete ban on handguns. Owners of pistols were required to turn them in. The penalty for illegal possession of a pistol is up to 10 years in prison. The results have not been what proponents of the act wanted. Within a decade of the handgun ban and the confiscation of handguns from registered owners, crime with handguns had doubled according to British government crime reports. Gun crime, not a serious problem in the past, now is. Armed street gangs have some British police carrying guns for the first time. Moreover, another massacre occurred in June 2010. Derrick Bird, a taxi driver in Cumbria, shot his brother and a colleague then drove off through rural villages killing 12 people and injuring 11 more before killing himself. Meanwhile, law-abiding citizens who have come into the possession of a firearm, even accidentally, have been harshly treated. In 2009 a former soldier, Paul Clarke, found a bag in his garden containing a shotgun. He brought it to the police station and was immediately handcuffed and charged with possession of the gun. At his trial the judge noted: "In law there is no dispute that Mr. Clarke has no defence to this charge. The intention of anybody possessing a firearm is irrelevant." Mr. Clarke was sentenced to five years in prison. A public outcry eventually won his release. In November of this year, Danny Nightingale, member of a British special forces unit in Iraq and Afghanistan, was sentenced to 18 months in military prison for possession of a pistol and ammunition. Sgt. Nightingale was given the Glock pistol as a gift by Iraqi forces he had been training. It was packed up with his possessions and returned to him by colleagues in Iraq after he left the country to organize a funeral for two close friends killed in action. Mr. Nightingale pleaded guilty to avoid a five-year sentence and was in prison until an appeal and public outcry freed him on Nov. 29. *** Six weeks after the Dunblane massacre in 1996, Martin Bryant, an Australian with a lifelong history of violence, attacked tourists at a Port Arthur prison site in Tasmania with two semiautomatic rifles. He killed 35 people and wounded 21 others.

At the time, Australia's guns laws were stricter than the United Kingdom's. In lieu of the requirement in Britain that an applicant for permission to purchase a gun have a "good reason," Australia required a "genuine reason." Hunting and protecting crops from feral animals were genuine reasonspersonal protection wasn't. With new Prime Minister John Howard in the lead, Australia passed the National Firearms Agreement, banning all semiautomatic rifles and semiautomatic and pump-action shotguns and imposing a more restrictive licensing system on other firearms. The government also launched a forced buyback scheme to remove thousands of firearms from private hands. Between Oct. 1, 1996, and Sept. 30, 1997, the government purchased and destroyed more than 631,000 of the banned guns at a cost of $500 million. To what end? While there has been much controversy over the result of the law and buyback, Peter Reuter and Jenny Mouzos, in a 2003 study published by the Brookings Institution, found homicides "continued a modest decline" since 1997. They concluded that the impact of the National Firearms Agreement was "relatively small," with the daily rate of firearms homicides declining 3.2%. According to their study, the use of handguns rather than long guns (rifles and shotguns) went up sharply, but only one out of 117 gun homicides in the two years following the 1996 National Firearms Agreement used a registered gun. Suicides with firearms went down but suicides by other means went up. They reported "a modest reduction in the severity" of massacres (four or more indiscriminate homicides) in the five years since the government weapons buyback. These involved knives, gas and arson rather than firearms. In 2008, the Australian Institute of Criminology reported a decrease of 9% in homicides and a one-third decrease in armed robbery since the 1990s, but an increase of over 40% in assaults and 20% in sexual assaults. What to conclude? Strict gun laws in Great Britain and Australia haven't made their people noticeably safer, nor have they prevented massacres. The two major countries held up as models for the U.S. don't provide much evidence that strict gun laws will solve our problems. Ms. Malcolm, a professor of law at George Mason University Law School, is the author of several books including "Guns and Violence: The English Experience," (Harvard, 2002).

Painting by Anthony Freda: www.AnthonyFreda.com Scorecard: How Many Rights Have Americans REALLY Lost? Posted on February 21, 2013 by WashingtonsBlog How Many Constitutional Freedoms Do We Still Have? Preface: While a lot of people talk about the loss of our Constitutional liberties, people usually speak in a vague, generalized manner or focus on only one issue and ignore the rest. 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. 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. 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. 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 its 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:

Being young (if you live near a battle zone, you are fair game; and see this) Using social media

Reporting or doing journalism Speaking out against government policies Protesting anything (such as participating in the Occupy movement) Questioning war (even though war reduces our national security; and see this) Criticizing the governments targeting of innocent civilians with drones (although killing innocent civilians with drones is one of the main things which increases terrorism. And see this) Asking questions about pollution (even at a public Congressional hearing?) Paying cash at an Internet cafe Asking questions about Wall Street shenanigans Holding gold Creating alternative currencies Stocking up on more than 7 days of food (even though all Mormons are taught to stockpile food, and most Hawaiians store up on extra food) Having bumper stickers saying things like Know Your Rights Or Lose Them Investigating factory farming Infringing a copyright Taking pictures or videos Talking to police officers Wearing a hoodie Driving a van Writing on a piece of paper

(Not having a Facebook account may soon be added)

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

Being frustrated with mainstream ideologies Valuing online privacy Supporting Ron Paul or being a libertarian Liking the Founding Fathers Being a Christian Being anti-tax, anti-regulation or for the gold standard Being reverent of individual liberty Being anti-nuclear Believe in conspiracy theories A belief that ones personal and/or national way of life is under attack Impose strict religious tenets or laws on society (fundamentalists) Insert religion into the political sphere Those who seek to politicize religion Supported political movements for autonomy Being anti-abortion Being anti-Catholic Being anti-global Suspicious of centralized federal authority

Fiercely nationalistic (as opposed to universal and international in orientation) A belief in the need to be prepared for an attack either by participating in survivalism Opposing genetically engineered food Opposing surveillance

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 wellarmed 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 heres 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. Hey were still honoring one of the Amendments! Score one for We the People!

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 flying drones over the American homeland to spy on us. Senator Rand Paul correctly notes: The domestic use of drones to spy on Americans clearly violates the Fourth Amendment and limits our rights to personal privacy. Paul introduced a bill to protect individual privacy against unwarranted governmental intrusion through the use of unmanned aerial vehicles commonly called drones. Emptywheel notes in a post entitled The OTHER Assault on the Fourth Amendment in the NDAA? Drones at Your Airport?:

*** As the map above makes cleartaken from this 2010 reportDOD [the Department of Defense] plans to have drones all over the country by 2015. Many police departments are also using drones to spy on us. As the Hill reported: At least 13 state and local police agencies around the country have used drones in the field or in training, according to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, an industry trade group. The Federal Aviation Administration has predicted that by the end of the decade, 30,000 commercial and government drones could be flying over U.S. skies. *** Drones should only be used if subject to a powerful framework that regulates their use in order to avoid abuse and invasions of privacy, Chris Calabrese, a legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said during a congressional forum in Texas last month. He argued police should only fly drones over private property if they have a warrant, information collected with drones should be promptly destroyed when its no longer needed and domestic drones should not carry any weapons. He argued that drones pose a more serious threat to privacy than helicopters because they are cheaper to use and can hover in the sky for longer periods of time. A congressional report earlier this year predicted that drones could soon be equipped with technologies to identify faces or track people based on their height, age, gender and skin color. Even without drones, Americans are the most spied on people in world history: The American government is collecting and storing virtually every phone call, purchases, email, text message, internet searches, social media communications, health information, employment history, travel and student records, and virtually all other information of every American. [And see this.]

Some also claim that the government is also using facial recognition software and surveillance cameras to track where everyone is going. Moreover, cell towers track where your phone is at any moment, and the major cell carriers, including Verizon and AT&T, responded to at least 1.3 million law enforcement requests for cell phone locations and other data in 2011. (And given that your smartphone routinely sends your location information back to Apple or Google it would be childs play for the government to track your location that way.) Your iPhone, or other brand of smartphone is spying on virtually everything you do (ProPublica notes: Thats No Phone. Thats My Tracker). As the top spy chief at the U.S. National Security Agency explained this week, the American government is collecting some 100 billion 1,000-character emails per day, and 20 trillion communications of all types per year. He says that the government has collected all of the communications of congressional leaders, generals and everyone else in the U.S. for the last 10 years. He further explains that he set up the NSAs system so that all of the information would automatically be encrypted, so that the government had to obtain a search warrant based upon probably cause before a particular suspects communications could be decrypted. [He specifically did this to comply with the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure.] But the NSA now collects all data in an unencrypted form, so that no probable cause is needed to view any citizens information. He says that it is actually cheaper and easier to store the data in an encrypted format: so the governments current system is being done for political not practical purposes. He says that if anyone gets on the governments enemies list, then the stored information will be used to target them. Specifically, he notes that if the government decides it doesnt like someone, it analyzes all of the data it has collected on that person and his or her associates over the last 10 years to build a case against him. Wired reports: Transit authorities in cities across the country are quietly installing microphone-enabled surveillance systems on public buses that would give them the ability to record and store private conversations.

The systems are being installed in San Francisco, Baltimore, and other cities with funding from the Department of Homeland Security in some cases . The IP audio-video systems can be accessed remotely via a built-in web server (.pdf), and can be combined with GPS data to track the movement of buses and passengers throughout the city. *** The systems use cables or WiFi to pair audio conversations with camera images in order to produce synchronous recordings. Audio and video can be monitored in real-time, but are also stored onboard in blackbox-like devices, generally for 30 days, for later retrieval. Four to six cameras with mics are generally installed throughout a bus, including one near the driver and one on the exterior of the bus. *** Privacy and security expert Ashkan Soltani told the Daily that the audio could easily be coupled with facial recognition systems or audio recognition technology to identify passengers caught on the recordings. RT notes: Street lights that can spy installed in some American cities America welcomes a new brand of smart street lightning systems: energy-efficient, long-lasting, complete with LED screens to show ads. They can also spy on citizens in a way George Orwell would not have imagined in his worst nightmare. With a price tag of $3,000+ apiece, according to an ABC report, the street lights are now being rolled out in Detroit, Chicago and Pittsburgh, and may soon mushroom all across the country. Part of the Intellistreets systems made by the company Illuminating Concepts, they have a number of homeland security applications attached. Each has a microprocessor essentially similar to an iPhone, capable of wireless communication. Each can capture images and count people for the police through a digital

camera, record conversations of passers-by and even give voice commands thanks to a built-in speaker. Ron Harwood, president and founder of Illuminating Concepts, says he eyed the creation of such a system after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the Hurricane Katrina disaster. He is working with Homeland Security to deliver his dream of making people more informed and safer. Fox news notes that the government is insisting that black boxes be installed in cars to track your location. The TSA has moved way past airports, trains and sports stadiums, and is deploying mobile scanners to spy on people all over the place. This means that traveling within the United States is no longer a private affair. (And theyre probably bluffing, but the Department of Homeland Security claims they will soon be able to know your adrenaline level, what you ate for breakfast and what youre thinking from 164 feet away.) And Verizon has applied for a patent that would allow your television to track what you are doing, who you are with, what objects youre holding, and what type of mood youre in. Given Verizon and other major carriers responded to at least 1.3 million law enforcement requests for cell phone locations and other data in 2011, such information would not be kept private. (And some folks could be spying on you through your tv using existing technology.) Of course, widespread spying on Americans began before 9/11 (confirmed here and here. And see this). So the whole post-9/11 reality argument falls flat. And the spying isnt being done to keep us safe but to crush dissent and to smear people who uncover unflattering this about the government and to help the too big to fail businesses compete against smaller businesses (and here). In addition, the ACLU published a map in 2006 showing that nearly two-thirds of the American public 197.4 million people live within a constitution-free zone within 100 miles of land and coastal borders:

The ACLU explained:

Normally under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the American people are not generally subject to random and arbitrary stops and searches. The border, however, has always been an exception. There, the longstanding view is that the normal rules do not apply. For example the authorities do not need a warrant or probable cause to conduct a routine search.

But what is the border? According to the government, it is a 100-mile wide strip that wraps around the external boundary of the United States.

As a result of this claimed authority, individuals who are far away from the border, American citizens traveling from one place in America to another, are being stopped and harassed in ways that our Constitution does not permit. Border Patrol has been setting up checkpoints inland on highways in states such as California, Texas and Arizona, and at ferry terminals in Washington State. Typically, the agents ask drivers and passengers about their citizenship. Unfortunately, our courts so far have permitted these kinds of checkpoints legally speaking, they are administrative stops that are permitted only for the specific purpose of protecting the nations borders. They cannot become general drug-search or other law enforcement efforts. However, these stops by Border Patrol agents are not remaining confined to that border security purpose. On the roads of California and elsewhere in the nation places far removed from the actual border agents are stopping, interrogating, and searching Americans on an everyday basis with absolutely no suspicion of wrongdoing. The bottom line is that the extraordinary authorities that the government possesses at the border are spilling into regular American streets.

Computer World reports today: Border agents dont need probable cause and they dont need a stinking warrant since they dont need to prove any reasonable suspicion first. Nor, sadly, do two out of three people have First Amendment protection; it is as if DHS has voided those Constitutional amendments and protections they provide to nearly 200 million Americans. *** Dont be silly by thinking this means only if you are physically trying to cross the international border. As we saw when discussing the DEA using license plate readers and data-mining to track Americans movements, the U.S. border stretches out 100 miles beyond the true border. Godfather Politics added: But wait, it gets even better! If you live anywhere in Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey or Rhode Island, DHS says the search zones encompass the entire state.

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have a longstanding constitutional and statutory authority permitting suspicionless and warrantless searches of merchandise at the border and its functional equivalent. This applies to electronic devices, according to the recent CLCR Border Searches of Electronic Devices executive summary [PDF]: Fourth Amendment The overall authority to conduct border searches without suspicion or warrant is clear and longstanding, and courts have not treated searches of electronic devices any differently than searches of other objects. We conclude that CBPs and ICEs current border search policies comply with the Fourth Amendment. We also conclude that imposing a requirement that officers have reasonable suspicion in order to conduct a border search of an electronic device would be operationally harmful without concomitant civil rights/civil liberties benefits. However, we do think that recording more information about why searches are performed would help managers and leadership supervise the use of border search authority, and this is what we recommended; CBP has agreed and has implemented this change beginning in FY2012. First Amendment Some critics argue that a heightened level of suspicion should be required before officers search laptop computers in order to avoid chilling First Amendment rights. However, we conclude that the laptop border searches allowed under the ICE and CBP Directives do not violate travelers First Amendment rights. The ACLU said, Wait one darn minute! Hello, what happened to the Constitution? Where is the rest of CLCR report on the policy of combing through and sometimes confiscating travelers laptops, cell phones, and other electronic deviceseven when there is no suspicion of wrongdoing? DHS maintains it is not violating our constitutional rights, so the ACLU said: If its true that our rights are safe and that DHS is doing all the things it needs to do to safeguard them, then why wont it show us the results of its assessment? And why would it be legitimate to keep a report about the impact of a policy on the publics rights hidden from the very public being affected? ***

As ChristianPost wrote, Your constitutional rights have been repealed in ten states. No, this isnt a joke. It is not exaggeration or hyperbole. If you are in ten states in the United States, your some of your rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights have been made null and void. The ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the entire DHS report about suspicionless and warrantless border searches of electronic devices. ACLU attorney Catherine Crump said We hope to establish that the Department of Homeland Security cant simply assert that its practices are legitimate without showing us the evidence, and to make it clear that the governments own analyses of how our fundamental rights apply to new technologies should be openly accessible to the public for review and debate. Meanwhile, the EFF has tips to protect yourself and your devices against border searches. If you think you know all about it, then you might try testing your knowledge with a defending privacy at the U.S. border quiz. Wired pointed out in 2008 that the courts have routinely upheld such constitution-free zones: Federal agents at the border do not need any reason to search through travelers laptops, cell phones or digital cameras for evidence of crimes, a federal appeals court ruled Monday, extending the governments power to look through belongings like suitcases at the border to electronics. *** The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the government, finding that the so-called border exception to the Fourth Amendments prohibition on unreasonable searches applied not just to suitcases and papers, but also to electronics. *** Travelers should be aware that anything on their mobile devices can be searched by government agents, who may also seize the devices and keep them for weeks or months. When in doubt, think about whether online storage or encryption might be tools you should use to prevent the feds from rummaging through your journal, your companys confidential business plans or naked pictures of you and your-of-age partner in adult fun.

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.

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 be confronted 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 dont 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 this and 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 its 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 nations 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. 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 least justify 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 hes wrong. Its 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 arent 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 safe 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 freedom, safe 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 Americas 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 and that it 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 overall scorecard of the governments respect for our freedom: a failing grade. This entry was posted in Business / Economics, Energy / Environment, Politics / World News. Bookmark the permalink.

Craig B Hulet was both speech writer and Special Assistant for Special Projects to Congressman Jack Metcalf (Retired); he has been a consultant to federal law enforcement DEA, ATF&E of Justice/Homeland Security for over 25 years; he has written four books on international relations and philosophy, his latest is The Hydra of Carnage: Bushs Imperial War-making and the Rule of Law - An Analysis of the Objectives and Delusions of Empire. He has appeared on over 12,000 hours of TV and Radio: The History Channel De-Coded; He is a regular on Coast to Coast AM w/ George Noory and Coffee Talk KBKW; CNN, C-Span ; European Television "American Dream" and The Arsenio Hall Show; he has written for Soldier of Fortune Magazine, International Combat Arms, Financial Security Digest, etc.; Hulet served in Vietnam 1969-70, 101st Airborne, C Troop 2/17th Air Cav and graduated 3rd in his class at Aberdeen Proving Grounds Ordnance School MOS 45J20 Weapons. He remains a paid analyst and consultant in various areas of geopolitical, business and security issues: terrorism and military affairs. Hulet lives in the ancient old growth Quinault Rain Forest.