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Latest Posts

Top Ten Ways You Can Tell if Russia Has Invaded Ukraine
Last Thursday the Ukrainian government, echoed by NATO spokesmen, declared that the Russian military is now operating within Ukraine's borders. Well, maybe it is and maybe it isn't; what do you know? They said the same thing before, most recently on August 13, and then on August 17, each time with either no evidence or fake evidence. But let's give them the benefit of the doubt.

1 September 2014read on...

US Slouches Toward Syria, Again...
The Americans have a habit of first naming their imminent war before the troops march out and it will be interesting to see how this one is going to be christened. There seems some ambiguity about the war ahead in Iraq and Syria – what it is really going to be as it gathers momentum. That probably explains the shyness in naming it.

1 September 2014read on...

Obama Has No Middle East Strategy? Good!
Last week President Obama admitted that his administration has not worked out a strategy on how to deal with the emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as a dominant force in the Middle East. However, as ISIS continues its march through Syria and Iraq, many in the US administration believe it is, in the words of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, a threat “beyond anything we have ever seen.”

31 August 2014read on...

Is This The Libertarian Moment?
Earlier this month the New York Times wondered aloud if the “libertarian moment” had arrived. A good question, to be sure.

30 August 2014read on...

The Mother of All Blowback
President Barack Obama is being lambasted by US Republicans for admitting that “we don’t have a strategy yet” for dealing with the rise of the militant group, ISIS, or Islamic State, as it’s now known.

30 August 2014read on...

Washington Piles Lie Upon Lie
The latest Washington lie, this one coming from NATO, is that Russia has invaded Ukraine with 1,000 troops and self-propelled artillery.

29 August 2014read on...

Red Alert: NATO Mission Creep Advancing to Russian Border
Buried beneath news of the Ice Bucket Challenge, and the latest video release by the Islamic State was an interview by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen that should be of immediate concern to everyone.

28 August 2014read on...

Bombs Away Over Syria! Washington Has Gone Stark Raving Mad
America’s spanker-in-chief is at it again—threatening to bomb Syria owing to the uncivilized actions of its inhabitants. And when it comes to Syria, Washington avers that there are punishable malefactors virtually everywhere within its borders.

27 August 2014read on...

The Murder of James Foley
In response to the Islamic State’s execution of American journalist James Foley, President Obama referred to Foley’s killers as a “cancer.” That, of course, implies that anti-American terrorism is like a disease, one that strikes at nations willy nilly, without rhyme or reason.

27 August 2014read on...

Featured Articles

A House Divided Over NSA Spying on Americans


Last week’s House debate on the Defense Appropriations bill for 2014 produced a bit more drama than usual. After hearing that House leadership would do away with the traditional “open rule” allowing for debate on any funding limitation amendment, it was surprising to see that Rep. Justin Amash’s (R-MI) amendment was allowed on the Floor. In the wake of National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations about the extent of US government spying on American citizens, Amash’s amendment sought to remove funding in the bill for some of the NSA programs.

Had Amash’s amendment passed, it would have been a significant symbolic victory over the administration’s massive violations of our Fourth Amendment protections. But we should be careful about believing that even if it had somehow miraculously survived the Senate vote and the President’s veto, it would have resulted in any significant change in how the Intelligence Community would behave toward Americans. The US government has built the largest and most sophisticated spying apparatus in the history of the world.

The NSA has been massively increasing the size its facilities, both at its Maryland headquarters and in its newly built (and way over-budget) enormous data center in Utah. Taken together, these two facilities will be seven times larger than the Pentagon! And we know now that much of the NSA’s capacity to intercept information has been turned inward, to spy on us.

As NSA expert James Bamford wrote earlier this year about the new Utah facility:

“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.”

But it happened anyway.

Over the last week we have seen two significant prison-breaks, one in Iraq, where some 500 al-Qaeda members broke out of the infamous Abu Ghraib prison, which the US built, and another 1,000 escaped in a huge break in Benghazi, Libya – the city where the US Ambassador was killed by the rebels that the US government helped put in power. Did the US intelligence community, focused on listening to our phone calls, not see this real threat coming?

Rep. Amash’s amendment was an important move to at least bring attention to what the US intelligence community has become: an incredibly powerful conglomeration of secret government agencies that seem to view Americans as the real threat. It is interesting that the votes on Amash’s amendment divided the House not on party lines. Instead, we saw the votes divided between those who follow their oath to the Constitution, versus those who seem to believe that any violation of the Constitution is justified in the name of the elusive “security” of the police state at the expense of liberty. The leadership – not to my surprise -- of both parties in the House voted for the police state.

It is encouraging to see the large number of votes crossing party lines in favor of the Amash amendment. Let us hope that this will be a growing trend in the House – perhaps the promise that Congress may once again begin to take its duties and obligations seriously. We should not forget, however, that in the meantime another Defense Appropriations bill passing really means another “military spending” bill. The Administration is planning for a US invasion of Syria, more military assistance to the military dictatorship in Egypt, and more drones and interventionism. We have much work yet to do.

Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.


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