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Rep. John Duncan’s Plea for US Non-Intervention in Ukraine
Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-TN) on March 13 presented on the floor of the United States House of Representatives a brief and insightful plea against the US government “sending billions” of dollars to Ukraine and escalating US intervention to cause “some type of military confrontation.”



7 April 2014read on...

Rep. Thomas Massie Bills Would Legalize Raw Milk Sales
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), who introduced legislation last year to eliminate the US government’s ban on growing hemp in accordance with state laws, last week introduced two bills that would remove US government restrictions on the sale of raw milk and raw milk products. The two new bills are the Milk Freedom Act (HR 4307) and the Interstate Milk Freedom Act (HR 4308).



3 April 2014read on...

Eric Cantor Evokes George Washington and Founders to Promote His War Agenda
Apparently trying to one-up President Barack Obama, who last month twisted American history and logic to equate US government mass spying with Paul Revere and other revolutionaries’ actions to protect Americans from an oppressive government, House of Representatives Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) is claiming President George Washington and the American founders would support Cantor’s world-wide interventionist agenda.

19 February 2014read on...

Congress Votes to Bring Ukraine to Heel
Not to be outdone by the hyper-interventionist State Department of John Kerry, Victoria Nuland, and US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, the US House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly yesterday to jump head first into the Ukraine crisis.

11 February 2014read on...

Sanity Emerges: US to Legalize Some Hemp Growing
Researchers in several states soon should be able to legally grow hemp for the first time in decades because of legislation approved today in the US Senate.

4 February 2014read on...

Sen. Wyden Slams Intelligence Officials Over 'Culture of Misinformation'
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), in a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing today, presents succinctly and forcefully the case that senior officials overseeing the US government’s mass spying program have relied on “secret interpretations of the law” and “years of misleading and deceptive statements…to the American people.” Wyden proceeds to question witnesses James R. Clapper, John O. Brennan, and James B. Comey, Jr.  the directors, respectively, of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, and Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding the mass spying and the “culture of misinformation” surrounding it.

29 January 2014read on...

McCain and Graham Go To Work Against Iran Agreement
Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) continue to pull out all stops in attempt to scuttle the six-month interim agreement between the P5+1 and Iran. The agreement is meant to provide some space for negotiations to continue between the two sides while allowing for some confidence to be built in place of a decades-long hostile relationship.

14 January 2014read on...

Eric Cantor Girds His Iran War Loins
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) is leading the counter-attack against the Administration's opening door to a peaceful agreement with Iran. His strategy to scuttle any permanent rapprochement with Iran on behalf of his neocon and Israel/Saudi lobby benefactors is transparent: treat the initial six-month confidence-building measure -- a voluntary cessation of uranium enrichment above five percent in exchange for limited sanctions relief -- as if it were a Chapter VII UN Security Council Resolution.

3 January 2014read on...

Sen. Bernie Sanders Exposes Bloated Military and Intelligence Spending
Sen. Bernie Sanders, in a US Senate floor speech Thursday explaining his “no” vote on the National Defense Authorization Act (HR 3304), exposes “wasteful, inefficient, and often fraudulent” Department of Defense spending. Sanders also addresses the bloated nature of US military spending compared to military spending by other governments as well as the tens of billions of dollars sucked yearly into US intelligence agencies’ “black budget.”

21 December 2013read on...

Rep. Jim McGovern: 'It is Time to Get Out of Afghanistan'
Speaking on the United States House of Representatives floor Thursday, Rep. Jim McGovern delivered a comprehensive speech urging Congress to stop wasting $80 billion a year and Americans’ lives in US military action in Afghanistan. “It is time to get out of Afghanistan,” McGovern concluded.

14 December 2013read on...

Congress Alert

Sen. Ron Wyden Warns of Fake Surveillance Reform and the Economic Harm of US Mass Spying


Ron Wyden

US Sen. Ron Wyden, in a Guardian article he wrote based on his speech at a Cato Institute event this week, reinforces RPI's warnings that efforts to reform the US government mass spying program "provide an excellent opportunity to make bad legislation worse" and that the spying "threatens American companies' business prospects in the international marketplace."

Wyden first warns that the "business-as-usual-brigade" will do everything it can to prevent the realization of pro-liberty curtailments of the mass spying program. Wyden comments in the Guardian article:

I know these issues will be discussed here today, so I'll start with my bottom line: the goal of our bipartisan bill is to set the bar for measuring meaningful intelligence reform. We wanted to put this marker down early because we know in the months ahead we will be up against a "business-as-usual brigade" – made up of influential members of the government's intelligence leadership, their allies in thinktanks and academia, retired government officials, and sympathetic legislators. Their game plan? Try mightily to fog up the surveillance debate and convince the Congress and the public that the real problem here is not overly intrusive, constitutionally flawed domestic surveillance, but sensationalistic media reporting. Their end game is ensuring that any surveillance reforms are only skin-deep.

Some of the "business as usual" arguments have something of an Alice in Wonderland flavor. We have heard that surveillance of Americans' phone records, aka metadata, is not actually surveillance at all – it's simply the collection of bits of information. We've been told that falsehoods aren't falsehoods – they are simply imprecise statements. We've been told that rules that have been repeatedly broken are a valuable check on government overreach. And we've been told that codifying secret surveillance laws and making them public surveillance laws is the same as actually reforming these overreaching surveillance programs. It's not.

These arguments, of course, leave the public with a distorted picture of what their government is actually up to. Those tiny bits of information, when put together, paint an illuminating picture of what the private lives of law-abiding Americans are like. Erroneous statements that are made on the public record but never corrected mislead the public and often members of Congress, as well. Privacy protections that don't actually protect privacy are not worth the paper they are printed on; and just because intelligence officials say that a particular program helps catch terrorists doesn't make it true.

Still, Wyden sees reason for optimism in the close House of Representatives vote on the US Reps. Justin Amash and John Conyers defense appropriations amendment to restrict spying. The key to curtailing the US mass spying program, according to Wyden, is "grassroots support from lots of Americans across the political spectrum who let their members of Congress know that they want both their security and their liberty to be protected, and that 'business as usual' is no longer OK."

In addition to infringing liberty, Wyden warns that the mass spying program is also undermining the competitiveness of American companies:

But the effects of constitutionally flawed, overly intrusive surveillance programs go beyond the intrusion on Americans' privacy. American companies that are believed to have been the subject of government surveillance orders are taking a major hit internationally and here at home. This is a serious economic issue. We live in a global marketplace and American digital companies compete on a global playing field to a degree that was unheard of ten years ago. If they start to lose ground to foreign competition, it will put tens of thousands of high paying jobs at serious risk.

If a foreign enemy were doing this much damage to our economy, people would be out in the street with pitchforks. These companies are now filing lawsuits to force the government to allow them to release more information about how many surveillance orders they have received, in an attempt to repair some of the damage that has been caused.

Just within the last week, I was talking to a company president from one of America's leading digital service companies, and the first thing this executive said to me was what a big impact this unchecked domestic surveillance was having on that company. To be fair, I don't expect NSA officials to spend their time thinking about the economic impact that unrestrained surveillance can have, but the policymakers who sign off on these over-broad surveillance programs should absolutely be thinking about the impact that these programs can have on American jobs, and on trust for American companies around the world.

Read Wyden's entire article here.

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