American Surveillance State Foretold

“The National Security Agency’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. If a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.

That dramatic warning came not from an individual who is typically held up as a symbol of anti-government paranoia. Rather, it was issued by one of the most admired and influential politicians among American liberals in the last several decades:

Senator Frank Church
Senator Frank Church

Frank Church of Idaho, the 4-term U.S. Senator who served from 1957 to 1981. He was, among other things, one of the Senate’s earliest opponents of the Vietnam War, a former Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the Chairman of the Committee (bearing his name) that in the mid-1970s investigated the widespread surveillance abuses committed under every President since FDR (that was the investigation that led to the enactment of FISA, the criminal law prohibiting the Executive Branch from intercepting the communications of American citizens without first obtaining a warrant from a court: the law which the Bush administration got caught violating and which, in response, was gutted by the Democratic-led Congress in 2008, with the support of then-Senator Obama; the abuses uncovered by the Church Committee also led to the enactment of further criminal prohibitions on the cooperation by America’s telecoms in any such illegal government spying, prohibitions that were waived away when the same 2008 Congress retroactively immunized America’s telecom giants from having done so).

At the time of the Church Committee, it was the FBI that conducted most domestic surveillance. Since its inception, the NSA was strictly barred from spying on American citizens or on American soil. That prohibition was centrally ingrained in the mindset of the agency. Church issued that above-quoted warning out of fear that, one day, the NSA’s massive, unparalleled surveillance capabilities would be directed inward, at the American people. Until the Church Committee’s investigation, most Americans, including its highest elected officials, knew almost nothing about the NSA (it was referred to as No Such Agency by its employees).

As James Bamford wrote about Church’s reaction to his own findings about the NSA’s capabilities, “he came away stunned.”

At the time, Church also said:

“I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”

Of course, that bridge has long ago been crossed, without even much NSA seal 1discussion, let alone controversy. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, George W. Bush ordered the NSA to spy on the communications of Americans on American soil, and they’ve been doing it ever since, with increasing aggression and fewer and fewer constraints.

That development is but one arm in the creation of an American Surveillance State that is, literally, ubiquitous — one that makes it close to impossible for American citizens to communicate or act without detection from the U.S. Government — a state of affairs Americans have long been taught since childhood is a hallmark of tyranny. Such are the that those who now echo the warnings issued 38 years ago by Sen. Church (when surveillance was much more restrained, both legally and technologically) are scorned by all serious people as radical hysterics.

The domestic NSA-led Surveillance State which Frank Church so stridently warned about has obviously come to fruition.The Surveillance State

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Gun Control Legislation Ready To Go

Senator Dianne Feinstein
Senator Dianne Feinstein

The New Year has just arrived and Senator Diane Feinstein already has parts of new gun control legislation ready to go. Two Sunday’s ago on NBC’s Meet the Press, Feinstein talked about giving President Obama a bill he can “lead on” and used the term assault weapon loosely.

Feinstein has posted a summary of what the legislation will cover, which inculdes a ban on semi-automatic handguns and shotguns in addition to rifles. The legislation also requires registration of previously purchased guns.

Senator Feinstein’s ultimate plan has always been to have Mr. and Mrs. America turn in their guns to the government, period. Feinstein has admitted that the bill is about gun confiscation.

She tells us a gun ban is about saving the children and reducing crime, but her comments on 60 Minutes in 1995 reveal her true plan is to disarm the American people.

Feinstein’s  legislation is open-ended and includes provisions to re-register firearms and submit the fingerprints of law-abiding Americans as if they’re sex offenders.  The bill will also include a buy-back provision that will allow the government to confiscate all firearms.

Both Feinstein and New York governor Andrew Cuomo have said that is their plan.

It is a gun confiscation bill.

Chicago, which has been an example to follow for the anti-gun lobby for decades, probably has the toughest gun laws in the country. In fact, so extreme is the gun control in the Windy City that prior to the 2010 Supreme Court decision in McDonald v. Chicago, you couldn’t even have a gun in your own house with which to defend yourself or your family.

A Chicago home owner was like a public school teacher — he had to sit defenseless with his fingers crossed and simply hope the criminals didn’t target his house on a given day or night.

Even now, after the McDonald decision, you have jump through a myriad of hoops to get a gun.  And, although they are working on it, concealed carry has yet to be legalized.

Yet the truth is more than 440 school-age children have been shot in Chicago in 2012. This is not to say that 440 school-age children died, simply that more than 440 school-age children were at least wounded. The number of school-age children killed is reported at approximately 60.

Despite all the shootings, murders, and bloodshed, you never hear a peep about this from progressive politicians or the leftist run mainstream media. So why isn’t this news worthy? Is it because it would embarrass those anti second amendment fanatics who brag about Chicago’s tough gun laws? Is it because most of the kids who were shot and killed were minorities? Or is it because the corrupt media doesn’t want to show Chicago in a bad light?

THE LIST OF MURDERED SCHOOL AGE CHILDREN 2012

18 YEARS OLD- 15

17 YEARS OLD- 16

16 YEARS OLD- 16

15 YEARS OLD- 6

14 YEARS OLD- 4

13 YEARS OLD- 2

12 YEARS OLD- 1

7 YEARS OLD- 1

6 YEARS OLD- 1
THE LIST OF SCHOOL AGE CHILDREN SHOT IN 2012

18 year old- 110

17 year old- 99

16 year old- 89

15 year old- 62

14 year old- 39

13 year old- 21

12 year old- 10

11 year old- 2

10 year old- 3

9 year old- 1

7 year old- 3

6 year old- 2

5 year old- 1

4 year old- 1

3 year old- 1

1 year old- 2

The bottom line: No matter how tough the gun laws are, the crazed, nut jobs will find a way to get them and, if they so chose, use them. No draconian law can stop this, no matter how well intentioned the law is.  It seems that denying the free exercise of the right to keep and bear arms to law-abiding citizens not only does not curtail the actions of criminals, but actually emboldens them.

Illegal Immigrants Could Reap More Than $7B In Tax Credits This Year

Illegal immigrants could receive more than $7 billion this year in federal tax credits, according to one estimate, thanks to a loophole in the law that allows people not authorized to work to reap the government payments with no questions asked.

Sen. Jeff Sessions

Sen. Jeff Sessions’ office calculated that, based on recent trends, illegal immigrants could receive roughly $7.4 billion through a provision known as the Additional Child Tax Credit. That’s more than quadruple what the payout was four years ago, but the payments have been steadily increasing over the past decade.

Though illegal immigrants are prohibited from receiving similar tax credits, a quirk in the law allows them to qualify for the child tax credit. And it’s a “refundable” credit, meaning recipients can reap the money — with average checks totaling about $1,800 — even if they’ve paid no taxes.

An aide to Sessions, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, said the issue is a “serious matter that deserves attention” and another sign of how “Washington is disconnected from reality.”

Illegal immigrants can qualify because even people not authorized to work in the U.S. are supposed to file returns with the IRS. If they don’t have a Social Security number, they are provided what’s known as an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number in order to file returns.

And those filers are not excluded from claiming the Additional Child Tax Credit, which is offered to some families with children under 17 years old.

A report last year by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found the claims added up to $4.2 billion in 2010. Sessions’ office calculated the $7.4 billion figure based on the IG report numbers and White House budget numbers.

The IG report last year recommended that Congress pass legislation to “clarify” whether the tax credits should actually be paid to those not authorized to work in the U.S.

Sessions co-sponsored a bill earlier this year to bar illegal immigrants from receiving the credit, but the bill was blocked from reaching the floor by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Reid at the time said the bill targeted the children of low-income Hispanic families.

Recent expansions to the credit under the stimulus law are set to expire at the end of the year.

Your Government Wasting Tax Dollars on Catfish

Does everyone remember the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM), better known as the Farm Bill?  For those who do not, here’s a quick refresher:

To put it simply, the farm bill is an anathema to free enterprise, limited government, and individual responsibility. The House version (H.R. 6083) authorizes $957 billion in spending over 10 years, 80% of which will go towards food stamps. Despite claims in the media regarding severe cuts to food stamps, this bill actually consummates the Obama-era baseline into our nation’s entitlement empire forever.

We’re all used to seeing billions and trillions of dollars tossed around and given out like we’re printing the stuff.  It’s hard to remember that these bills are made up of thousands of pork projects and new bureaucracies with price tags that fall well below the cumulative numbers but still represent a shocking aversion to fiscal restraint.

It’s easy to snicker at $14 million in waste when we are running a $1.7 trillion deficit, but $14 million is precisely what will continue to be wasted after the House Agriculture Committee

Rep. Vicky Hartzler

approved the Farm Bill while rejecting an amendment by Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) which would have streamlined catfish inspections and save taxpayers millions.

Yes, catfish inspections!

Unbelievably enough, the farm bill believes that the FDA, which already inspects catfish, needs helps from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).  Rep. Hartzler, proposed an amendment to leave catfish inspection with the FDA saying that USDA inspection was duplicative and threatened a trade war. Hartzler noted that the $15 million price tag far surpassed the $700,000 that FDA spends annually on inspection of all fish.

Yes, fifteen times the cost the FDA is currently spending to do the same thing. This is what Republicans and Democrats agreed was too important to slash from their pork riddled Farm Bill. Meanwhile, even the Senate recognized how silly the duplicative spending would be and voted to repeal the USDA Catfish Inspection Office giving the House the chance to finalize the savings. But the House just couldn’t pull it off.

All this for a low risk food, one which the Government Accountability Office (GAO) flatly acknowledged would likely “not enhance the safety of catfish but would duplicate FDA and NMFS inspections at a cost to taxpayers.”

$14 million is enough to feed thousands and thousands of families that need help. It’s enough to fix roads, fund schools, or refund money to taxpayers.  Yet for all the talk about changing how Washington works and getting our fiscal house in order, the amendment was defeated 25-20 and the monstrous Farm Bill was overwhelmingly passed. Both parties joined in on the spending spree.

You might want to think about that when you go to the polls in November!

Senate Democrats Not Even Showing Up for Budget Meetings

Shown here is a view of a Senate Budget Committee meeting held last week, at which Chairman Kent Conrad conducted a faux “markup” of his party’s FY 2013 budget resolution. The near side of the table is where Democrats were supposed to sit.

Throughout much of the session, all 11 Republican members were present to, you know, do their jobs. Of the 12 committee Democrats, no more than 3 or 4 were in attendance at any given time, according to sources inside the meeting.

Since the year 2009, not one single Democrat or Democrat-aligned member of the United States Senate has voted “yes” on any budget. They’ve refused to present their own ideas, of course, but they’ve also unanimously voted down every last alternative.

Think about that.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has fulfilled its budgetary obligations each of the last two years, ever since Republicans won control of the lower chamber. (Nancy Pelosi’s House intentionally failed to pass a fiscal blueprint in 2010).

These GOP budgets have been relentlessly lied about, demagogued, and attacked. President Obama’s alternatives have been so irresponsible that they’ve failed to garner a single vote in either house, but Senate Democrats have scrupulously avoided putting forth any ideas of their own.

I hope the self-anointed “party of ideas” is proud of itself. They’ll no doubt turn around and decry Republicans as the “party of no” at every opportunity.

Hillary Clinton and Obama Administration Working To Pass UN Small Arms Treaty

A “Small Arms Treaty” being considered by the United Nations could end up infringing on American Second Amendment rights. While the measure must first pass the U.N. and then manage to secure U.S. Senate ratification, it could result in firearms licensing and confiscation

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the Obama Administration will be working hand in glove with the United Nations to pass a new global, “Small Arms Treaty.”

Disguised as an “International Arms Control Treaty” to fight against “terrorism,” “insurgency” and “international crime syndicates,” the UN Small Arms Treaty is in fact a massive, global gun control scheme.

The U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes a person’s “right” to “rest and leisure,” “to enjoy the arts,” and “to . . . cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality,” but doesn’t recognize the right of individuals to possess the means to defend themselves. For protection, the declaration says, people should rely instead upon “international order” and the declaration’s proclamation that people “should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” And lest there be any confusion about who these folks believe should be in charge of deciding what constitutes a “right,” the declaration includes the warning that “rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.”

Citizens of the United States, in fact citizens around the world, deserve to know what this treaty, if ratified by the Senate, would most certainly force the United States to:

  • Require tougher licensing requirements, making law-abiding Americans cut through even more bureaucratic red tape just to own a firearm legally.
  • Confiscate and destroy all “UNAUTHORIZED” (a word not defined in the document) civilian firearms.
  • Ban the sale, transportation and trade of all semi-automatic guns that have been in use since the 1890s.
  • Require the establishment of a national data bank (federal) of all gun owners.
  • Require a federal license for the purchase and ownership of any gun.

The fact is that if this treaty were to be ratified it would fundamentally change America, giving it the appearance of Australia and England where gun ownership is restricted and crime statistically has risen drastically since their gun bans.

U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kans.) has introduced legislation to prevent any arms treaty from infringing the right to keep and bear arms in this country. The Second Amendment Sovereignty Act,  S. 2205, would prohibit the administration from using “the voice, vote, and influence of the United States, in connection with negotiations for a United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, to restrict in any way the rights of United States citizens under the second amendment to the Constitution of the United States, or to otherwise regulate domestic manufacture, assembly, possession, use, transfer, or purchase of firearms, ammunition, or related items, including small arms, light weapons, or related materials.”

Last year, Sen. Moran and 57 other U.S. senators signed a letter to President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reminding them that the Senate has final say on treaties, and stating their unequivocal opposition to any treaty that would affect civilian ownership of firearms, or challenge the authority of Congress to regulate firearms within the United States, or call for an international gun registry.

Civilian firearms must never be a part of any treaty to which our nation subscribes. On this, there can be no compromise.  American gun owners will never surrender their Second Amendment freedom.

I urge you to contact your U.S. Senators and ask them to support the Second Amendment Sovereignty Act, S.2205 and to never support any treaty that surrenders any American rights to the United Nations or any other body.

Senate Bill Gives IRS New Powers To Revoke Passports

In yet another slash at American liberty, there is a new bill making its way through Congress which could allow the federal government to prevent Americans who owe back taxes from leaving the country.

The provision is part of Senate Bill 1813, which was introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) in November and passed by the Senate on March 14 “to reauthorize Federal-aid highway and highway safety construction programs, and for other purposes.”

Those “other purposes” include a little-known amendment recently introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that would allow the State Department to revoke, deny or limit passports for anyone the Internal Revenue Service certifies as having “a seriously delinquent tax debt in an amount in excess of $50,000.”

A US citizen generally has the right to have a passport and to travel freely. It’s not clear that the inability to pay his tax bills can be used to deny him this right.

The provision does make exceptions if the debt “is being paid in a timely manner” or “in emergency circumstances or for humanitarian reasons,” it DOES NOT require that a person be charged with tax evasion before having their passport revoked — only that the IRS has filed a notice of lien or levy against them.

While on the surface it may appear as though the government is merely trying to find a new means of collecting revenue, perhaps they are planning ahead to prevent an exodus? Surely there must be constitutional issues here… Oh that’s right, they don’t worry about the Constitution in Washington?

While I do not endorse the non-payment of legally required taxes, I am very skeptical of any government actions taken which apparently undermine the U.S. Constitution and the rights granted within.