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Ron Paul, the Gateway Drug
On the occasion of his 79th birthday, I thought it appropriate to share how Dr. Ron Paul has impacted my life in a very personal manner. Ron Paul (and more importantly, the philosophy of liberty that he champions) has inspired me to make life-altering decisions, the most consequential of which is to leave the military as a conscientious objector. Throw in homeschooling, sound money, economics, and non-aggression, and you’ve got a completely new outlook on life. It has not been an easy path, but this is the price for discovering a worldview that is coherent, consistent, and compelling enough to act on.

20 August 2014read on...

It's Ron Paul's Birthday. Guess What He Wants?
Today Ron Paul, the Founder and CEO of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, celebrates his birthday with a plea for assistance to his Institute. He is concerned about the strong neocon push to war with Russia and is determined to fight back. He is alarmed at the level of war propaganda that otherwise goes unchallenged. His Institute was founded to debunk the lies that lead us to war and has had great success in its short life, he notes. He asks for help to continue the mission of the Ron Paul Institute.

20 August 2014read on...

Ukraine Crisis Continues
Having served Washington’s propaganda purposes, the downed Malaysian airliner and the alleged Russian armored column that entered Ukraine and was allegedly destroyed have dropped out of the news even though both stories remain completely and totally unresolved.

20 August 2014read on...

Ron Paul: Mission Creep in Iraq...and Missouri!
"To militarize [the police], to give them military weapons...it creates a culture. Guns and tanks and gasses that are illegal in wartime are being used. It is an atmposphere that encourages police to over-react," Ron Paul told Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC today.

18 August 2014read on...

The Terrorists Fighting Us Now? We Just Finished Training Them. In recent years, President Obama, his European friends, and even some Middle Eastern allies, have supported “rebel groups” in Libya and Syria. Some received training, financial and military support to overthrow Muammar Gadhafi and battle Bashar al Assad. It’s a strategy that follows the old saying, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” and it has been the American and allied approach for decades in deciding whether to support opposition groups and movements.

18 August 2014read on...

What Have We Accomplished in Iraq?
We have been at war with Iraq for 24 years, starting with Operations Desert Shield and Storm in 1990. Shortly after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait that year, the propaganda machine began agitating for a US attack on Iraq. We all remember the appearance before Congress of a young Kuwaiti woman claiming that the Iraqis were ripping Kuwaiti babies from incubators. The woman turned out to be the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the US and the story was false, but it was enough to turn US opposition in favor of an attack.

17 August 2014read on...

Police Have No Right to Shoot Someone Running Away Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson, in a press conference notable for its brevity, identified the officer who shot Michael Brown as Darren Wilson, a six-year veteran of his department. Information distributed to the media included reports suggesting that Brown was a suspect in a strong-arm robbery of a package of cigars at a local convenience store. Still photographs, reportedly of the incident in the local QuikTrip, show a large young man resembling Brown involved in what appeared to be an assault on a much smaller individual in the store.

15 August 2014read on...

From Boston to Ferguson: Have We Reached a Tipping Point in the Police State? The difference between what happened in Boston in the wake of the Boston Marathon explosion and what is happening now in Ferguson, Missouri, is not in the government’s response but in the community’s response.

15 August 2014read on...

Iraq Policy: Washington’s Puzzle Palace Keeps Getting Curiouser
Let’s count the ways. It goes without saying that Obama is now busily bombing American military equipment. Some of that equipment is pretty high tech gear and especially lethal — not the kind that jihadists ordinarily train with in their desert lairs or mountain redoubts.

12 August 2014read on...

Ron Paul: 'US Out of Iraq Now!'
What obligation does the US have to go into Iraq for a third time? According to RPI Chairman Ron Paul, there is none. More US intervention will not solve the problem, he tells RT, but will only make matters worse. In fact, sending weapons into iraq has made matters worse for the Kurds, as many of the weapons have been captured by ISIS and are being used to against them. The Kurds would have been a lot better off if the US had never gone into Iraq in the first place, he says.

12 August 2014read on...

Featured Articles

Does Washington Post Purchase Create Spooky Conflict of Interest?


Washpost Cia

Everyone is talking about Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos's recent purchase of the Washington Post. Less noticed is the conflict of interest between his ownership of the Post and Amazon’s potentially significant profits from computing and data storage contracts with numerous US government agencies including the CIA. The question is whether the newspaper will be able to even-handedly report on the US government despite Bezos's financial interest in US government contracts.

Though not as well known as its retail sales business, Amazon is a big player in data storage and cloud computing. GCN reports that Amazon's cloud services arm Amazon Web Services is the "largest hosting company in the world" and has more than 300 government agencies as customers.

Among Amazon's more recent government contracts is a 10 year, $600 million contract to build private cloud services inside CIA data centers.

Keeping and using massive amounts of data is a high priority for government agencies in general, as well as intelligence agencies operating mass spying programs. For example, Glenn Greenwald reports in the Guardian that the National Security Agency's XKeyscore program that "allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals" routinely purges data because of storage capacity limits:
The XKeyscore system is continuously collecting so much internet data that it can be stored only for short periods of time. Content remains on the system for only three to five days, while metadata is stored for 30 days. One document explains: "At some sites, the amount of data we receive per day (20+ terabytes) can only be stored for as little as 24 hours."

To solve this problem, the NSA has created a multi-tiered system that allows analysts to store "interesting" content in other databases, such as one named Pinwale which can store material for up to five years.

The purging of data, though, is not the NSA's preferred solution. Like the CIA, the NSA is spending big on expanding its data storage capacity. Last year James Bamford described the NSA's effort, which includes building in Bluffdale, Utah the mammoth Utah Data Center:

Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.
....
Given the facility’s scale and the fact that a terabyte of data can now be stored on a flash drive the size of a man’s pinky, the potential amount of information that could be housed in Bluffdale is truly staggering. But so is the exponential growth in the amount of intelligence data being produced every day by the eavesdropping sensors of the NSA and other intelligence agencies. As a result of this “expanding array of theater airborne and other sensor networks,” as a 2007 Department of Defense report puts it, the Pentagon is attempting to expand its worldwide communications network, known as the Global Information Grid, to handle yottabytes (1024 bytes) of data. (A yottabyte is a septillion bytes—so large that no one has yet coined a term for the next higher magnitude.)

Amazon's move into government big data projects including at the CIA would make it part of the "Top Secret America" detailed in a pre-Bezos 2010 Washington Post articles series. In the series, investigative reporters revealed a hidden network of intelligence programs, workers, and facilities. The beginning of the first article of the series introduces to the magnitude of "Top Secret America":

The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.

These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.

The investigation's other findings include:
  • Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.
  • An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.
  • In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings - about 17 million square feet of space.
  • Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.
  • Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year - a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.
It seems safe to assume that "Top Secret America" has grown larger in the last three years.

Conflicts of interest are common in media, and the conflicts do not necessarily cause biases in reporting. Nevertheless, it is important to be aware of the conflicts, especially when they are as significant as the conflict of interest between Amazon profiting as part of "Top Secret America" and the Washington Post uncovering and reporting the truth about the US government.

Copyright © 2013, The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted provided full credit is given and a live link provided.
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