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Ex-FBI lawyer linked to surveillance abuses poised for federal judge post

Valerie Caproni, up for judgeship in important terrorism court, likely to come under fresh scepticism in wake of NSA revelations

Valerie Caproni
Caproni has come under bipartisan criticism over the years for enabling widespread surveillance later found to be inappropriate or illegal. Photograph: Getty

A former senior FBI official implicated in surveillance abuses is poised to become a federal judge in one of the US's most important courts for terrorism cases.

Valerie Caproni, the FBI's top lawyer from 2003 to 2011, is scheduled to receive a vote on Monday in the Senate for a seat on the southern district court of New York.

Caproni has come under bipartisan criticism over the years for enabling widespread surveillance later found to be inappropriate or illegal. During her tenure as the FBI's general counsel, she clashed with Congress and even the Fisa surveillance court over the proper scope of the FBI's surveillance powers.

And Caproni faces renewed skepticism for describing surveillance conducted under the Patriot Act as more limited than it actually is, now that the Guardian has revealed and the Obama administration confirmed that the National Security Agency uses the act to collect and store the telephone records of hundreds of millions of Americans.

"It is a shame that the White House has chosen to nominate former FBI general counsel Valerie Caproni to a lifelong position as a federal judge given her narrow views of Americans' privacy rights as demonstrated by her actions in the George W Bush administration," said Lisa Graves, a Justice Department official in the Clinton and early Bush administrations.

"Government officials that secretly approved of overbroad surveillance programs the public is only seeing now because of leaks, and whose testimony on the issue obscured rather than revealed these abuses, should be held to account for their actions in a public forum," said Mike German, a former FBI agent.

German, now a lawyer with the ACLU, would not comment on Caproni specifically, citing ACLU policy of neutrality on nominations. But he continued: "Excessive secrecy always threatens democracy, but misleading and incomplete testimony before Congress and the courts simply cannot stand unaddressed without doing real damage to constitutional government."

A Senate staffer who requested anonymity predicted that Caproni would probably win confirmation, but added, "lots of procedural options are available to gum up the works" when her nomination moves to a Senate floor vote.

A representative of the defense company Northrop Grumman, where Caproni currently serves as an executive, said Caproni was not available for interviews.

Even before the Guardian's phone records revelations, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, lawmakers found Caproni to be complicit in surveillance abuses.

A 2010 report by the Department of Justice's internal watchdog found that the FBI misused a type of non-judicial subpoena known as an "exigent letter" to improperly obtain more than 5,500 phone numbers of Americans.

"The FBI broke the law on telephone records privacy and the general counsel's office, headed by Valerie Caproni, sanctioned it and must face consequences," said John Conyers, then the chairman of the House judiciary committee, in April 2010, who called for then-FBI director Robert Mueller to fire her.

Conyers said he was "outraged" that the FBI invented "exigent letters" to more easily obtain phone records, and intimated Caproni was responsible for it. "It's not in the Patriot Act. It never has been. And its use, perhaps coincidentally, began in the same month that Ms Valerie Caproni began her work as general counsel," Conyers said in a hearing that month. The FBI stopped using exigent letters in 2006.

Lawmakers' dissatisfaction with Caproni over surveillance has a long pedigree.

In an April 2008 House hearing, Caproni told lawmakers that if a phone number obtained from a telephone company using a nonjudicial subpoena ostensibly authorized by the Patriot Act was unrelated to a "currently open investigation, and there was no emergency at the time we received the records, the records are removed from our files and destroyed".

In fact, the NSA, at the time of Caproni's testimony and today, stores phone records such as phone numbers on practically all Americans for up to five years, whether or not they are connected to an "open investigation".

Numerous intelligence, Justice Department and law enforcement officials have testified this summer that the NSA can pass phone records to the FBI that it has "reasonable articulable suspicion" are connected to terrorism, although NSA deputy director John C Inglis could not cite a single case where the phone records have clearly disrupted a domestic terror attack.

"Caproni knew that the Bush administration could use or was using the Section 215 provision in the Patriot Act to obtain Americans' phone records on a broad scale, an issue that has recently been documented by the whistleblower material first printed in the Guardian," said Graves, a former deputy assistant attorney general who dealt with Caproni extensively while working on national security issues for the ACLU.

At one meeting in 2007, Graves recalled, "Caproni said she thought civil libertarians were wasting their time complaining about the NSL [national security letter] powers because the government could just obtain all that information and more through a 215 order by the Fisa court or through a grand jury subpoena issued by a single federal prosecutor and because those orders are secret we would never know. When pressed about that, she insisted that going around the limits on the NSL powers by using 215 or grand jury subpoenas was no big deal and a perfectly permissible use of those powers."

Graves said: "That may be technically true, but it also demonstrates her lack of regard for Americans' countervailing interest not to have records about their communications or business transactions swept up in secret by government agencies without any indication that they themselves have done anything wrong."

In 2007, the Justice Department's inspector general found "widespread and serious misuse of the FBI's national security letter authorities" to obtain business records, including "unauthorized collection of telephone or internet email transactional records," as the inspector general, Glenn Fine, summarized in March 2007 House testimony. That finding did not even hint that the collection of phone records in secret was even more widespread.

Without disclosing the full scope of the surveillance, Caproni called the improper collection of those phone records "a colossal failure on our part".

Acknowledging bipartisan anger on the House judiciary committee, Caproni testified: "We're going to have to work to get the trust of this committee back, and we know that's what we have to do, and we're going to do it."

A 2008 Justice Department inspector general's report into surveillance under the Patriot Act found that Caproni clashed with the Fisa court, a secret court that oversees surveillance for the purposes of foreign intelligence, over the scope of the court's authority.

The heavily redacted report found that in 2006, the Fisa court indicated it would not sign off on an FBI request for business records under section 215 of the Patriot Act – the section used to justify the bulk phone-records database – "because of first amendment concerns." It is extremely rare for the Fisa court to deny the government a surveillance request.

Caproni, the FBI's general counsel at the time, "told the OIG [office of inspector general] that the Fisa court does not have the authority to close an FBI investigation," according to a footnote in the report.

Caproni "believed there was enough information to predicate the investigation", the Justice Department inspector general found. "She said she disagreed with the court and nothing in the court's ruling altered her belief that the investigation was appropriate."

Because of redactions, it is unclear if the FBI investigation in that case continued against the Fisa court's objection.

While Caproni's nomination by President Obama has largely flown under the Washington radar, it has not been without controversy. Senator Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate judiciary committee, threatened in June to block Caproni's impending judgeship when it goes for a vote on Monday.

Grassley had been seeking records from the FBI about the exigent-letters surveillance controversy for at least six years, only to be told by Caproni in 2008, when she was the FBI's top lawyer, that "that the documents I was waiting for were on her desk, awaiting her review", Grassley said on the Senate floor June 13.

Having not received the documents he wanted, Grassley warned: "While I did not hold Ms Caproni's nomination in committee, I reserve my right to do so on the Senate floor." Grassley's office did not return requests for comment about his plans for Caproni's floor vote.

In order to win approval from the Senate judiciary committee, Caproni had to take the rare step of vowing to recuse herself from a broad category of cases "where my impartiality could be reasonably questioned", including those where "I had personal or supervisory involvement in a matter while at the FBI."

"I would certainly recuse myself if I were presented with a case that would require me to rule on the legality of a national security program as to which I provided legal advice while I was a government employee, unless there was controlling precedent already in place regarding such a program," Caproni wrote to senator Richard Durbin on 8 July.

Caproni will be very likely to hear many of those cases as a federal judge. Her nomination is for one of the country's most important federal courts for terrorism cases: the southern district court of New York.

"The southern district of New York has historically been the premier venue for terrorism cases. Today, many of the most high profile of these cases continue to find their way into this district court. Its historical memory, and the experience of its judges, are second to none," said Karen Greenberg, director of Fordham University's Center on National Security.

"For all of her virtues, you have to think twice about putting someone on the court with this level of concern about her role in surveillance abuses," Greenberg said. "The symbolism of this is significant. The courts are torn over this issue."

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 Friday, Sep 27, 2013 08:20 AM EST
America’s creeping police state
We're already under full-time surveillance. Can the executive branch's ever-growing authoritarianism be stopped?
By Fred Branfman

For those alarmed by the steady growth of lawless, violent and authoritarian U.S. Executive power for the last 50 years, the events of the past few months have been exciting. The emergence of a de facto coalition of progressives and conservatives opposing the National Defense Authorization Act law giving the Executive the right to unilaterally detain or execute American citizens without a trial, and NSA mass surveillance of phone and Internet data, has been unprecedented, and offers the first hope in 70 years that Executive power can be curbed

The most important development has been the public and congressional reaction to President Obama’s proposal to strike Syria. A huge majority of the American people opposed even a limited military action by the Executive Branch. Reading the polls, the President decided to seek congressional authorization for a limited military action. For the first time in living memory, Congress clearly opposed him. It is too soon to say what this will mean for the future, but the implications clearly extend beyond just this particular strike or President.

The main arena besides the Middle East where the issue of the Executive Branch vs. Congress and the American people will play out in coming months will concern attempts to limit not only Executive surveillance of innocent Americans, but its other assaults on the very foundation of democracy itself.

The fundamental issue involved amidst the ongoing cascade of revelations about NSA wrongdoing is this: what must be done to roll back the Executive Branch’s creation of a surveillance state, which is just one more major economic crisis or 9/11—as even centrists like Bob Woodward and Tom Friedman warn—from becoming a police-state.

Most of the focus until now has been on trying to absorb the dimensions of the surveillance state we have suddenly learned we are living in since June 6. But it is now time to focus on the actions needed to end its assaults on democracy.

This is not a simple question, either politically or technically. Politically, it is impossible to envision ending the surveillance state without a broad left-right coalition both in Congress and among the public devoted to doing so. But it will be difficult to maintain a coalition of progressives and Tea Partiers, liberals and conservatives, who neither trust nor respect one another—particularly when fought by an Executive that will hit back against attempts to control it with everything it has.

The technical questions are even trickier. How does Congress write and pass laws to prevent Executive Agencies from undertaking surveillance and population control measures when, to paraphrase Congressman Keith Ellison, “Congress doesn’t know what it doesn’t know”? How can Congress control Executive wrongdoing when Executive officials invoke the mantra of national security to avoid providing it with information?

Had Edward Snowden not risked life imprisonment or worse to reveal that the U.S. Executive Branch has created a surveillance state, we would still know virtually nothing about it. The ranking Senate and House Intelligence committee chairs, Dianne Feinstein and Mike Rogers, would still be covering up Executive wrongdoing, and even those members angered at its criminality would still be muzzled from saying anything. The Judiciary would still not only be rubberstamping Executive actions, but expanding Executive Branch power. The mass media would still be routinely conveying its denials of wrongdoing to the American people whenever the issue arose.

At present, when the heads of the Senate or House Intelligence Committees assure us that they are overseeing the Executive, what they mean is that they are dutifully repeating Executive talking points on documents provided them with the words “top secret” stamped on them, but only consisting of what Executive agencies want them to know. They have no means of independent oversight, which means they have no meaningful oversight. And the judiciary has not only acknowledged this, but said they no longer have “confidence” in the Executive.

If even the secret FISA Court no longer has confidence in the Executive, neither can the rest of us. During the 1960s, the FBI regularly used its secret intelligence to blackmail and threaten not only activists but politicians, presidents and Martin Luther King, Jr. As Internet security expert C.J. Radford has written, “the issue is what happens if this data, and these capabilities, fall into the wrong hands. A malicious government employee, a change in government, court rulings, regulations or leadership could all open this information, and these capabilities, up to cross agency analysis, open use, or criminal activity.”

That is, not only can this information be misused by government employees, but private sector companies, criminals and foreign governments as well. With the NSA spending 70% of its funding on contracts with private sector firms, which are even more corruptible than government agencies, this is a matter of urgent concern.

It is the height of naiveté to have any confidence whatsoever in the current system. It is clear that the heart of any serious attempt to create democracy in this nation must involve not only stopping such obvious assaults on democracy as the mass collection of phone and Internet records of innocent Americans, but a fundamental restructuring of the relationship between our three branches of government.

Since neither the courts nor Congress can any longer have confidence in NSA assertions, they clearly must give themselves the capacity—including experts with full access to raw data, answerable to them and not the Executive—to fulfill their constitutionally required mandate to check and balance Executive power.

This restructuring of relationships between the three branches of government must also profoundly alter the Executive’s ability to hide its wrongdoing from the American people by classifying trillions of pages annually on the false grounds of “national security.” In an article entitled “Ex-MI6 Deputy Chief Plays Down Damage Caused By Snowden Leaks,” for example, the Guardian reported that Nigel Inkster said that “Al-Qaida leaders in the tribal areas of Pakistan had been ‘in the dark’ for some time… referring to counter measures they had taken to avoid detection by western intelligence agencies. Other ‘serious actors’ were equally aware of the risks to their own security from NSA and GCHQ eavesdroppers, he said.”

The Executive Branch, as does the U.K.’s NSA as quoted above, keeps its secrets from the American people primarily to avoid the “political embarrassment” of having its fraud, waste, abuse and illegality revealed.

As a Brennan Center For Justice study on classification has noted, “Over-classification is rampant, and nearly everyone who works with classified information recognizes the problem. In 1993, Senator John Kerry, who reviewed classified documents while chairing the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs, commented, ‘I do not think more than a hundred, or a couple of hundred, pages of the thousands of [classified] documents we looked at had any current classification importance.’ The classification system must be reformed if we are to preserve the critical role that transparent government plays in a functioning democracy.”

President Obama cannot seriously talk of “transparency” without supporting efforts to reduce present classification of government documents by the 90% that experts like Secretary of State John Kerry and Pentagon whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg estimate would in no way harm national security.

The following steps are needed.

The Bottom Line: No Bulk Collection Of Americans’ Phone And Internet Metadata, Destroy Files That Exist

Obama on August 8 announced a response to Snowden’s revelations: “First, I will work with Congress to the following measures in pursue appropriate reforms to Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the program that collects telephone records.  Second, we can take steps to make sure civil liberties concerns have an independent voice in appropriate cases by ensuring that the government’s position is challenged by an adversary (before) the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court …

Number three, the Department of Justice will make public the legal rationale for the government’s collection activities under Section 215 of the Patriot Act …  Fourth, we’re forming a high level group of outside experts to review our entire intelligence and communications technologies.”

These were clearly illusory reforms, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation noted, that would continue mass surveillance of Americans. First, the Executive would continue to only tell Congress and the Judiciary what it felt was “appropriate“for them to know—including the FISC “adversary”; second, the “legal rationales” for Executive wrongdoing are just that: rationales which no one concerned about Executive surveillance can take seriously; and thirdly four of the five “outside experts” Obama wound up appointing are all deeply implicated in Executive wrongdoing, including former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morrell, and they are to report to director of National Intelligence James Clapper, a key architect of the surveillance state.

Predictably, the first meeting of this Potemkin Panel did not even discuss NSA surveillance of innocent Americans and only confined itself to private sector concerns. Open Technology Institute director Sascha Meinrath, who attended the meeting, declared that “My fear is it’s a simulacrum of meaningful reform … Its function is to bleed off pressure, without getting to the meaningful reform.”

A N.Y. Times editorial accurately noted that “President Obama proposed a series of measures on Friday that only tinker around the edges of the nation’s abusive surveillance programs. It is the existence of these programs that is the problem, not whether they are modestly transparent. As long as the N.S.A. believes it has the right to collect records of every phone call … then none of the promises to stay within the law will mean a thing.”

Mr. Obama’s “reforms” thus still envision continued Executive collection of hundreds of millions of Americans’ phone and Internet records. Believers in democracy must set their own “red line” against surveillance of innocent Americans.

A line must be drawn somewhere. Once we allow the Executive to store all our emails and Internet communications for all time, why not allow them to read them if they decide it might protect somebody, somewhere, sometime? Why should a court get involved? Don’t we trust them? As Edward Snowden has said, “the Internet is on principle a system that you reveal yourself to in order to fully enjoy, which differentiates it from, say, a music player. It is a TV that watches you.”

But this does not “protect” us nearly as efficiently as would a real TV or flat screen equipped with a transponder allowing them to watch us whenever they wish. Where do we draw the line?

Mr. Obama and present congressional leaders’ typically honeyed words mean nothing absent a complete halt to gathering information on innocent Americans. Republican House Judiciary Chair Robert Goodlatte, for example, recently declared ”I am committed to … our nation’s intelligence collection programs includ(ing) robust oversight, additional transparency, and protections for Americans’ civil liberties.” But at the same time he stated that “eliminating this program altogether without careful deliberation would not reflect our duty, under article I of the constitution, to provide for the common defense,” and had opposed the Conyers-Amash amendment in July that would have ended NSA surveillance of innocent Americans.

The “reforms” proposed by Goodlatte and other Republican House leaders are clearly meant to head off any significant reform of NSA mass surveillance. A serious attempt to bring democracy to America must have the following bottom line: no mass surveillance of any kind of Americans about whom there is no evidence of wrongdoing. None.

The first and necessary  step toward creating a “functioning democracy” in America is for both the House and Senate to pass the Conyers-Amash amendment forbidding NSA mass collection of phone and Internet American records of innocent Americans.

Institute Genuine Congressional Oversight

At the moment, congressional oversight of the Executive has become a pathetic joke. The Senate and House Intelligence Committees have clearly failed in their constitutional obligation to provide “checks and balances” on the Executive. Three major reforms are needed.

A. Elect Committees Who Oversee Not Promote Executive Wrongdoing, Beginning By Replacing Senator Dianne Feinstein And Rep. Mike Rogers.

The present heads of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, Dianne Feinstein and Mike Rogers, and ranking minority party members Senator Saxby Chambliss and “Dutch” Ruppersberger, have merely served as spokespeople for the Executive, delivering a long series of deceptive “talking points” provided by the NSA meant to excuse rather than correct Executive abuses.

Mr. Rogers, a former Executive Branch FBI agent, has particularly distinguished himself by insulting the intelligence of both his fellow House members and the American people.

He has declared on Meet the Press that Snowden “went outside all of the whistleblower venues that were available to anyone in this government, including people who have classified information. We get two or three visits from whistleblowers every single week in the committee, and we—we investigate every one thoroughly. He didn’t choose that route.”

This is absurd. Mr. Rogers already knew, and had done nothing about, Snowden’s concern that the Executive was collecting Americans’ phone and Internet records. There was obviously no point for Snowden to go to Rogers, and the latter is clearly insulting the intelligence of the American people in continuing to make this crude claim.

Rogers’ claim that other whistleblowers have avenues within government to correct Executive abuses is also untrue. The New Yorker has reported on how although NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake did go through official channels, nothing was done. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank recentlyreported how DOD whistleblower Gina Gray was fired for seeking to correct DOD mismanagement at the Arlington National Cemetery, after using internal channels.

Milbank also commented “President Obama, in his news conference this month, said that Edward Snowden was wrong to go public with revelations about secret surveillance programs because ‘there were other avenues available for somebody whose conscience was stirred and thought that they needed to question government actions.’ This is a common refrain among administration officials and some lawmakers. But it’s a load of nonsense. Ask Gina Gray.”

Among their many other major failures of NSA oversight:

—Both Feinstein and Rogers claimed on ABC News on June 9 that NSA surveillance had been responsible for the capture of NY Subway Bomber Najibullah Zazi and Mumbai bomber David Headley. But two days later, in a story titled”NSA Surveillance Played Little Role In Foiling Terror Plots, Experts Say,” the Guardian revealed that both men had been captured through surveillance in the UK, with no NSA input.

—Mr. Rogers first claimed that Snowden should be charged with espionage because his revelations had led to “changes in the way they communicate that we can already see being made by the folks who wish to do us harm.” He then supported the administration’s claim a few weeks later that a worldwide travelers’ alert was based on the NSA overhearing the two top Al Qaeda “bad guys” —Ayman al-Zawari and Yemen’s Wuhayashi—communicate with each other. Both statements cannot be true, and perhaps neither were. Furthermore, if true, releasing the information about this specific phone call was clearly a breach of national security, as it tipped off the two top Al Qaeda leaders  that their phone calls were being overheard. If true, Rogers clearly would have committed precisely the act of revealing “sources and methods” that he claimed justified the charge of treason for Mr. Snowden.

—Both Feinstein and Rogers, like Obama, repeatedly claimed the NSA was not conducting illegal surveillance. Even after the Washington Post published its story on “thousands” of abuses involving tens of thousands of individual cases, Feinstein declared that ”as I have said previously, the committee has never identified an instance in which the NSA has intentionally abused its authority to conduct surveillance for inappropriate purposes,” and Roger said that he had seen he had seen “no intentional and willful violation of the law.”

The paper also reported that “Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) did not receive a copy of the 2012 audit until the Post asked her staff about it.”

Feinstein then changed her story, claiming that she had received the report under a different name. But the point was undeniable: she has clearly failed her oversight duties, not even bothering to read whatever study she saw revealing NSA abuses, let alone doing anything about them or even informing her own constituents of them.

—Numerous members have accused the House  Intelligence Committee of withholding information from them. As the Guardian reported on August 14, “Morgan Griffith, a Republican who represents Virginia’s ninth district, has been critical of the committee for blocking attempts by non-members to obtain information about classified programs. On August 4, the Guardian published a series of letters he had written to the committee requesting more details, all of which had gone unanswered.

Congress needs to elect Members of the Senate and House Intelligence committees who see their job as checking and balancing Executive power, not merely serving as spokespeople for it.

B. Indict Executive Branch Officials When They Commit Perjury

Executive Branch officials not only regularly lie to but hide information from Congress, most notably recently when director of National Intelligence James Clapper denied in open session that the NSA was collecting data on American citizens, and then compounded his lie a few days later by claiming he had misunderstood the question. Senator Wyden quickly revealed that he had sent the question over to him the day before the hearing. NSA chief Keith Alexander has also repeatedly lied to Congress. The N.Y. Daily News reported on a June 18House Intelligence Committee hearing, for example, that ”NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander testified his agency’s programs are subject to strict oversight.” Alexander also testified at the same hearing that NSA surveillance had caught the N.Y.C. Subway and Mumbai bombers, another lie revealed by the Guardian as noted above.

But though senators and representatives know they are being lied to by Executive Branch officials, they have not had the courage to indict them for perjury when they do so. Congress has allowed director Clapper and General Alexander to remain in their posts after knowing beyond any doubt that they have committed perjury before it. This lack of courage must end. The only way to stop Executive officials from lying to Congress and the American people is for Congress to swear them in and punish them when they are caught lying, at very least by dismissal from their posts, but ideally by criminal prosecution.

C. Give Congress the Right to Declassify Data Indicating Waste, Fraud, Abuse and Crimes By the Executive

One of the most shocking revelations concerning congressional oversight is that even when a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee like Sen. Wyden learns that the Executive is committing crimes against the American people, that senator is muzzled from revealing it to them. Although the senator could release this information on the floor of the Senate without fear of prison, he or she fears being attacked for jeopardizing national security, being removed from the Intelligence Committee, censure by colleagues, and/or losing the next election.

It is clearly time for the legislative representatives of people, not unelected members of the Executive, to be given the legal and moral right to declassify and make public Executive actions that they believe are illegal or immoral.

Someone must decide, after all, whether a given body of information should be kept secret from the American people. In a democracy, those who make this decision should represent the people of the nation, not gigantic, secret bureaucracies which regularly deceive the people and are accountable to no one but themselves.

D.  Congress Must Have The Capacity To Genuinely Oversee Executive Agencies

Members of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees must assert their right to be treated as genuine representatives of the governed. To begin with, they must demand the right to take notes on classified material the Executive shows them and to have properly cleared staff members accompany or represent them at briefings. They must punish NSA staff members who play Orwellian word games with them, refusing to answer questions honestly unless the exact words are used as the NSA defines them, which they keep secret.

Members must also insist that they be given all information on NSA activities. At present, the NSA withholds significant information even from Senate and House Intelligence Committee members. Legislators must severely punish Executive Branch officials who continue to hide significant information from them.

Most importantly, however, Congress cannot exercise constitutionally-required oversight of Executive Branch activities unless they can independently investigate them. The Intelligence Committees, like the FISA courts (please see below), must hire significantly more staff, with the knowledge, power and mandate to oversee Executive Branch military, intelligence and police activities that potentially threaten the democratic rights of the American people.

Give the Judiciary the Capacity to Genuinely Oversee Executive Agencies Like the NSA

Meaningful judicial oversight of Executive Branch officials is the other fundamental pillar of the constitutionally-mandated system of checks and balances  upon which democracy rests.

President Obama  lied once again when he stated at a June 7 press conference  that “federal judges are overseeing the entire program throughout.”

In fact, the Judiciary exercises no meaningful oversight of the Executive whatsoever. The FISA court established to oversee NSA surveillance, for example, is not allowed to judge specific cases and has only been given the right to approve the guidelines the NSA claims it is following—although the court does not know if it is in fact following them. Even more importantly, the Executive has asserted its right to withhold any information it wishes from the Judiciary, for example prosecuting individuals but not providing the court evidence of their wrongdoing on the grounds of “national security.”

In response to this absence of judicial oversight, President Obama has promised simply to allow an “adversary” to argue against the NSA during a FISA court hearing. But since the Executive will continue to withhold any information it feels might harm its case on the grounds of “national security,” this “reform” is meaningless.

FISA Court Head Judge Reggie Walton, a conservative who has betrayed his mandate by expanding Executive power rather than overseeing it, has revealed the heart of the problem with proper judicial oversight when he stated that, “The FISC (Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court) is forced to rely upon the accuracy of the information that is provided to the Court. The FISC does not have the capacity to investigate issues of noncompliance.”

There is thus clearly one key step that must be taken if the Judiciary is to be given meaningful oversight over the Executive: it must be given the capacity, knowledge and information to make an informed judgment of Executive compliance with the law.

If the FISC is to provide genuine oversight over the NSA, it must be given a vastly expanded budget that allows it to hire hundreds if not thousands of its  own intelligence experts, with the proper clearances and access to information.

And where might funds for the judiciary to hire its own analysts come from? As Dana Priest and William Arkin point out in Top Secret America, hundreds of billions of dollars have been given to the NSA and other intelligence agencies to expand their activities, to the point, they say, where ”its entirety, as Pentagon intelligence chief James Clapper admitted, (is) visible only to God.”

The intelligence community is clearly far too large and is wasting huge amounts of money, beginning with its storing of all phone and Internet records of American citizens. There is no rational relationship between the vast amount of money it spends and its results. Ending its surveillance of Americans will be an obvious first place to cut their budgets, and a portion of the savings should spent to give both the Legislative and Judicial branches the “capacity” to evaluate Executive Branch police and intelligence activities.

Provide Strong Whistleblower Protection

Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch executive director, has noted that “the whistleblower protection provided to government employees who expose evidence of wrongdoing does not extend to those who disclose what is deemed national security information. Whistleblowers facing prosecution can’t even defend themselves by showing that their disclosures caused no harm and promoted the public interest. Wrongdoing involving this information is supposed to be revealed only to an agency’s inspector general or to the congressional intelligence committees. Yet government employees who tried to use these procedures to complain about NSA overreaching faced retaliation and even prosecution — which might help explain why Snowden skipped these mechanisms and went directly to the media. The problem is aggravated by the government’s temptation to protect information that is simply embarrassing or politically fraught rather than truly a matter of national security.”

Genuine whistleblower protection would have two aspects. First, internal: ensuring that whistleblowers who do go through official channels have an independent body evaluate their charges, and provide them  with full protection from punishment by superiors whose wrongdoing they have revealed.

Second, external: The Executive Branch must end its prosecution of whistleblowers who reveal classified information to the media or public; or, in those rare instances where there is a case for actual damage having been done to “national security,” the whistleblower must receive a fair trial by a jury that is given access to the information in question so that it can determine to what extent national security was harmed, and that takes into account the whistleblower’s motivation.

Restructure the Present System of Classification

Executive over-classification of information lies at the heart of its many threats to democracy. It classifies enormous amounts of information that could be of no conceivable use to our enemies, e.g. the equivalent of 20 million filing cabinets one agency classified in one 18-month period alone. Secrecy is by its very nature undemocratic. Executive classification of documents is also at the very heart of its threats to journalists and whistleblowers seeking to uncover Executive abuses.

Daniel Ellsberg has written an important article on how and why the Executive over-classifies information:

    “One of the most experienced security authorities in the Pentagon, William F. Florence, who had drafted many of the Department of Defense regulations on classification, testified as an expert witness in Congressional hearings and in my trial that at most 5% of classified material actually satisfied the official criteria of potential relevance to national security (which he had played a major role in formulating) at the moment of original classification; and that perhaps 1/2 of 1% continued to justify protection after two or three years.”

If 95% of what is classified would not help our enemies, why does it remain classified? Part of the answer is that if it was revealed it would embarrass Executive Branch officials, and/or reveal waste, fraud, abuse and illegal acts that could lead to calls to cut their budgets, their dismissal, and/or prosecution.

As Dana Priest and Bill Arkin also note in Top Secret America, a top-secret classification is a “passport to prosperity for life.” It provides well-paying jobs and its holders are far less likely to face unemployment than those in the private sector.

Ellsberg also tellingly explores the psychological dimensions of the classification system:

    “I suggest that there are psycho-social aspects (that) apply to ‘secret societies’ ranging from the Mafia or associations like the Masons to the CIA. It is a mark of worth, of membership in a valued group, possession of a valuable identity. It is a sign of being trusted by other members of the prestigious group: a token of being perceived by them as trustworthy, worthy of membership, of being ‘one of them,’ a ‘brother’ or ’member of the family.’ Not only the membership in the group, but the specific acceptance of one’s loyalty — to the group, to its purposes, to the other members, and its secrets— conveys and expresses a new, prestigious status, a positive identity, a source of self-respect and pride and a basis for the respect and deference of others.”

While members of the Executive Branch thus have powerful practical, material and psychological motivations for hiding vast amounts of information from the American people that have nothing to do with national security, the American people have a correspondingly strong interest in preventing them from doing so any longer.

Ellsberg ends his article with a list of steps needed to curb Executive abuses of the classification system. They include: reducing the number of documents that are classified by over 90%, and keeping those that remain classified for no more than three years; at most administrative penalties not criminal prosecutions for leaks not involving communications intelligence, nuclear weapons data and identities of clandestine agents, and not even administrative sanctions for Executive Branch whistleblowers giving information to appropriate Members of Congress; effective whistleblower protection to all federal employees; vastly beefed up Freedom of Information Act processes; limiting the “States Secret privilege” allowing Executive officials to withhold information from even the judiciary; including in all secrecy agreements a clause that states that nothing in the agreement permits them give false or misleading testimony to Congress or the Judiciary; required briefing of all federal employees, military officers and members of Congress that the Oath of Office they all take to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States” requires them to disobey illegal orders.
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The Police State Wants What the Police State Wants

[Note: Since the lifting of the federal court gag order on October 2, Ladar Levison and his company, Lavabit, have been getting some media attention (including a somewhat snide and incomplete story on page one of the New York Times). What follows in an effort to reconstruct at least the outline of a personal nightmare inflicted by our government on a small business owner who had done no wrong, even in the government’s eyes ­– at least until he started taking his constitutional rights seriously.]

The Fourth Amendment of the U. S. Constitution is anti-police-state

“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.” [emphasis added]

The founding document of the United States is inherently suspicious of a government’s willingness to abuse its powers, a suspicion rooted in centuries of tyranny around the world. Even the U.S. government, as well as state and local governments, have abused their powers from time to time since the country’s beginning. The drift toward an American police state intensified under the guise of anti-Communism, but that was mostly a convenient cover for state intrusion into people’s lives. The Soviet Union collapsed, but the nascent American police state kept growing. The Patriot Act of 2001, a massive assault on personal and political liberty, was largely written before 9/11 and passed, largely unexamined, in the hysterical atmosphere and raw panic of that over-hyped “new Pearl Harbor.”

Now we have a police state apparatus of almost unimagined dimension, most of which is kept secret and remains unknown, despite the efforts of a few reporters and whistle blower, who tell the truth at their personal peril.

The “American police state” is likely an abstraction in the minds of many people, and as long as they remain unknowing and passive, it’s likely to leave them alone. But even law-abiding innocence is not a sure protection of a person’s right to be secure. And when the police state comes after you in one of its hydra-headed forms, the assault can be devastating.

For starters, the state won’t always tell you when it begins

The intrusion of the police state into your life can shatter your world even before you realize it’s begun. Fight it, or surrender to it, the cost is huge. Recovery may be possible, eventually, if it’s ever allowed, but it will be hard, and it will take time.

In May 2013, Ladar Levison was 32 when the police state first came after him. The dreaded “knock on the door” was actually only an FBI business card on his door at home. And Levison’s initial interactions with the FBI were reportedly mild and civil, at first by email and later in person. The FBI was interested in Levision because he owned and operated a secure email service called Lavabit. From the FBI point of view, Lavabit was too secure, because the NSA and the rest of the security state couldn’t get into it.

Right out of college, Levison had started Lavabit as a sole proprietorship in April 2004 (the same month Google launched Gmail at a much greater scale). Having grown up in San Francisco, Levison studied computer science at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where he still lives. While working on his start-up, he supported himself mostly with internet security projects for financial services. He also worked as a consultant on website development for clients such as Dr Pepper, Nokia, and Adidas.

What Lavabit was selling was secure email, much more secure than anything Google, Microsoft, or most other email providers were offering. The demand was not that great at first. It took six years for Lavabit to gather enough paying subscribers to allow Levison to devote himself to the business fulltime in 2010. Even when the FBI became interested in Lavabit in May 2013, it was still a small company, with two employees and about 400,000 subscribers. But one of those subscribers was another American about Levison’s age, 30-year old Edward Snowden, the whistleblower whose leaked documents have added so much to our understanding of the dimensions and activities of the American police state. Snowden opened his moc.tibaval@nedwonsde email account in 2010.

Political repression may not be the government’s overt intent, but it works

At this point, there’s no indication that Levison and Lavabit ever had anything but a commercial relationship with Snowden. It’s even possible that Snowden had nothing to do with the FBI’s initial interest in Lavabit. It may be that Lavabit’s effective security was sufficient offense to the surveillance forces to make it an object of attack for its own sake. In May 2013, Levison says he had the impression the FBI agents who talked to him didn’t even know who or what was the subject of their investigation. The FBI hasn’t said.

Levison is not an obviously political person, he hasn’t been revealed to be involved in party politics or political causes. “Until last summer, Mr. Levison, a Republican of libertarian leanings, had not been active in politics,” according to the New York Times October 9. He seems to be the person he seems to be: a thoughtful, hardworking, physically fit, computer business guy who has had a dog named Princess since January 2010 and who spends a lot of his spare time keeping in shape playing beach volleyball.

Princess has her own album on his Facebook page, where the dominant theme by far is Levison’s competition in beach volleyball (with albums for Sunday Night, as well as Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday Nights) and there is one picture of Levison with Rep. Ron Paul. Levison’s page shows membership in just one Facebook group, “OCCUPY (Support) EDWARD SNOWDEN and All Other Whistleblowers,” to which someone else added him about two months ago. Among his 43 “Likes,” Levison lists two Interests (programming and computers), lots of volleyball Activities, and six books, including William Gibson’s Neuromancer, George Orwell’s 1984, and Dostoevski’s Crime and Punishment.

From another perspective, Levison is as political as the Fourth Amendment, which is as profoundly political as it gets. It was the Patriot Act’s assault on the Fourth Amendment, Levison says, that contributed to his decision to start Lavabit in 2004, when the act was up for renewal and much in the news. Among the many objections to the act was that it gave to federal agents excessive authority to, in effect, write their own search warrants on no other authority but their own. In the Orwellian language of the act, these personal searched warrants are known as “national security letters.” Levison designed the security architecture of the Lavabit email and storage services to be beyond the reach of unwarranted searches, even in national security letters. As Levison recalled on Democracy Now! in August:

“And as I was designing and developing the custom platform, it was right around when the PATRIOT Act came out. And that’s really what colored my opinion and my philosophy, and why I chose to take the extra effort and build in the secure storage features and sort of focus on the privacy niche and the security focus niche…. [for] people who want email but don’t necessarily want it lumped in and profiled along with their searches or their browsing history or any of their other Internet activities.”

You can’t reveal what you don’t know – and that provides more security

During May 2013, Levison met for “a couple hours” with FBI agents at his office, where he explained how his security system and his business operated. As Levison told Democracy NOW! the service included his personal pledge of security:

“I’ve always liked to say my service was by geeks, for geeks. It’s grown up over the last 10 years, it’s sort of settled itself into serving those that are very privacy-conscious and security-focused. We offered secure access via high-grade encryption. And at least for our paid users, not for our free accounts—I think that’s an important distinction—we offered secure storage, where incoming emails were stored in such a way that they could only be accessed with the user’s password, so that, you know, even myself couldn’t retrieve those emails.

“And that’s what we meant by encrypted email. That’s a term that’s sort of been thrown around because there are so many different standards for encryption, but in our case it was encrypted in secure storage, because, as a third party, you know, I didn’t want to be put in a situation where I had to turn over private information. I just didn’t have it. I didn’t have access to it.”

Over the years, Lavabit has received and complied with “at least two dozen subpoenas” from the local sheriff’s office to the federal courts, Levison says, “I’ve always complied with the law.” Each of those subpoenas targeted a specific individual and appeared to Levison to be consistent with the Fourth Amendment. As recently as June 2013, he complied with an unrelated subpoena seeking information on one of his subscribers accused of violating child pornography law.

A secret subpoena from the American police state is different

On June 6, 2013, the Guardian began publishing surveillance state revelations based on documents from Edward Snowden, the Lavabit.com email subscriber. On June 9, Snowden revealed that he was the whistlblower who leaked documents to the Guardian and others. The first secret court order against Lavabit came the next day.

On or about June 10, the Justice Dept., on behalf of the FBI, went to federal court to compel Lavabit to provide information “relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation” involving someone with a single Lavabit email account. The FBI has not identified the subject of this investigation, but it is widely believed to be Snowden.

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (the Fourth Circuit) granted the FBI’s request and issued the disclosure order against Lavabit that same day. A one-page, single-spaced attachment to the order listed the categories of information to be disclosed, including names, addresses, phone records, other subscriber identities, billing records, activity records, and “information about each communication” – in other words, everything about the email account “not including the contents of communications.” The order did not mention encryption keys, SSL keys, or the like. These are closely guarded secrets in a security business like Lavabit.

The U.S. Magistrate Judge who signed the initial order gave Lavabit 10 days to comply. He also sealed the court records from public view and further ordered that Lavabit “shall not disclose the existence of the application of the United States, or the existence of this order” to anyone except “an attorney for Lavabit.” In other words, Levison was subject to a gag order before he ever found out the FBI was definitely coming after him.

In the meantime, on June 14, the Justice Dept. filed a sealed criminal complaint against Snowden, who was then in Hong Kong. The government accused him of three offenses – theft of government property and two forms of “unauthorized communication” the Espionage Act of 1917. The criminal complaint, which was made public a week later, gave the government 60 days to file a formal indictment.

Getting unsatisfying compliance, the FBI decided to raise the stakes

According to a later Justice Dept. filing: “Mr. Levison received that order on June 11, 2013. Mr. Levison responded by mail, which was not received by the government until June 27, 2013. Mr. Levison provided very little of the information sought….” [emphasis added]

On June 28, the day after getting Levison’s belated response to the June 10 order, the Justice Dept. went back to the Fourth Circuit Court in Alexandria seeking an order “authorizing the installation and use of a pen register/trap device on an electronic mail account” – an FBI wiretap on email. Levison had no notice of the government motion and no opportunity to contest it. A new judge on the case, Magistrate Judge Theresa Buchanan, promptly ordered the wiretap installed on the basis that the government “has certified that the information likely to be obtained by such installation and use is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation….” Like the first order, this order did not mention encryption keys, SSL keys, or the like.

FBI special agents met with Levison in Dallas the same day to discuss the new order, which Levison had not yet received, as well as a prior summons to appear before a grand jury. The agents presumably explained to Levison that the court had issued a secret order based on a secret motion, itself based on secret evidence (or none at all) and that Levison was not only compelled to comply but was also still under court order to keep the whole secret process a secret, this time with no exception even for his attorney.

According to a later government filing, “Mr. Levison told the agents that he would not comply with the pen register order and wanted to speak to an attorney. It was unclear whether Mr. Levison would not comply with the order because it was technically not feasible or difficult or was not consistent with his business practice of providing secure, encrypted email service for his customers.”

As Levison months later explained to reporters about Lavabit: “We’re wholly focused on secure email. Without it, we have no business.” In Levison’s view, breaking Lavabit’s security without the right to tell his customers would have been to commit commercial fraud.

Judge Buchanan keeps the pressure on Levison and Lavabit

Following this meeting, the Justice Dept. immediately went before Judge Buchanan seeking an order to compel Lavabit to comply with the other Magistrate’s earlier order and install the FBI wiretap and to “furnish agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, forthwith, all information, facilities, and technical assistance necessary to accomplish the installation and use of the pen/trap device…” as ordered pursuant to federal law [U.S. Code, Title 18, sec. 3123].

Judge Buchanan immediately granted the “Order Compelling Compliance Forthwith,” based in part on her findings that “Lavabit informed the Federral Bureau of Investigation that the user of the account had enabled Lavabit’s encryption services and thus the pen/trap device would not collect the relevant information” and that “Lavabit informed the FBI that it had the technological capability to obtain the information but did not want to ‘defeat [its] own system’…”

Judge Buchanan ordered Lavabit to provide “unencrypted data pursuant to the Order.” Noting that failure to comply “forthwith” would subject Lavabit to “any penalty within the power of the court,” Judge Buchanan added in her own handwriting, “including the possibility of criminal contempt of court.” This order was issued under seal.

Previously, Levison faced the possibility of being fined for civil contempt if he failed to comply. Now he also faced going to jail. And the court’s most recent orders, in their plain language, prevented Levison from discussing his situation with anyone, not even an attorney.

According to the FBI, agents “made numerous attempts, without success, to speak and meet directly with Mr. Levison” during the next ten days. On July 9, the Justice Dept. returned to the Fourth Circuit court seeking an order for Lavabit to show cause why it “has failed to comply with the orders entered June 29” by Magistrate Buchanan, and why Lavabit should not be held in contempt of court for its failure to comply.

Judge Hilton decides a hearing with the parties present might help

Judge Claude Hilton issued the show cause order the same day, including a summons for Lavabit to appear at a hearing a week later. Judge Hilton is a secrecy case veteran, having served on the secretive FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) court from 2000 to 2007. The Judge continued to keep the Lavabit case under seal, but reinstated Lavabit’s exception to the gag rule when consulting with an attorney.

The next day, Levison went to the FBI field office in Dallas for a meeting/conference call that included prosecutors and FBI agents in Washington and his attorney in San Francisco, convened “to discuss Mr. Levison’s questions and concerns… [that] focused primarily on how the pen register device would be installed on the Lavabit LLC system, what data would be captured by the device, what data would be viewed and preserved by the government… [and] whether Mr. Levison would be able to provide ‘keys’ for encrypted information.”

The parties did not reach an agreement at the meeting and the next day, July 11, Levison’s attorney informed the FBI that she no longer represented Levison or Lavabit. The same day, Levison “indicated that he would not come to court [for the July 16 show cause hearing] unless the government paid for his travel,” according to a government filing.

Rather than engage in a dispute over travel expenses, the FBI served Levison with a subpoena to appear before a Fourth Circuit grand jury, also on July 16. The government is responsible for the travel arrangements of grand jury witnesses, and the FBI so advised Levison by email. The grand jury subpoena left little wriggle room in its effort to force Lavabit to surrender the encryption keys that were essential to its business:

“In addition to your personal appearance, you are directed to bring to the grand jury the public and private encryption keys used by lavabit.com in any SSL (Secure Socket Layer) or TLS (Transport Security Layer) sessions, including HTTPS sessions with clients using lavabit.com website and encrypted SMTP communications (or Internet communications using other protocols) with mail servers;

“Any other information necessary to accomplish the installation and use of the pen/trap device ordered by Judge Buchanan on June 28….”

“I don’t trust you, but you should trust me” and vice-versa

Levison responded on July 13 with an email to the U.S. Attorney’s office, offering an alternative to the FBI-operated wiretap. Levison proposed that he would collect the court-designated data himself. While he didn’t state it in the email, this would address one of Levison’s primary concerns, that there was no effective oversight to prevent the FBI from gathering more data than the court had allowed. Levison proposed to design and implement the solution, gather the data manually, and provide it to the FBI at the end of the 60-day court order – for a price of $2,000. For another $1,500, he offered to provide data “more frequently,” which would require implementing an automated system.

The U.S. Attorney chose not to explore the offer. In a brusque and internally contradictory reply email the same day, an assistant U.S. Attorney explained “that the proposal was inadequate because, among other things, it did not provide for real-time transmission of results, and it was not clear that Mr. Levison’s request for money constituted the ‘reasonable expenses’ authorized by the statute.” The government later admitted to the court that it was “unclear” as to precise details of the proposal. The clear implication of Levison’s proposal is a willingness to provide real-time transmission for reasonable compensation. But that would leave Levison in control. The government didn’t consider that a useful compromise.

On July 15, Levison flew to Washington for his show cause hearing at 10 the next morning, although he thought it was set for 10:30 and arrived late. He was appearing pro se, representing himself without an attorney.

Even a federal court hearing can be a comedy of errors

The government goal for the July 16 hearing remained unchanged: “Lavabit LLC may comply with the pen register order by simply allowing the FBI to install the pen register devise and provide the FBI with the encryption keys.” Lacking compliance, the government asked the court to impose a civil contempt sanction of $1,000 a day until Lavabit complied.

The government also requested a search warrant for the encryption keys. Judge Hilton granted the search warrant before the hearing began.

As it turned out, the 20-minute hearing resulted in no change in the legal standing of the parties, but did produce a transcript with moments of unintentional hilarity.

Present in the courtroom were Judge Hilton and the court staff. U.S. Attorney James Trump represented the government, along with three other lawyers and an FBI agent. Levison was alone.

The U.S. Attorney wanted to know if Levison was going to comply with the wiretap order, but Judge Hilton wouldn’t ask and Levison wouldn’t say. Or rather, Levison said he had always been ready and willing to comply with installation of the wiretap, but he was reluctant to give up the encryption codes, which would give the FBI access to all 400,000 of his subscribers even though the court order named only one. “There was never an explicit demand that I turn over those keys,” Levison said.

The U.S. Attorney argued that Judge Buchanan had effectively if not specifically ordered Levison to turn over the encryption keys. Judge Hilton wasn’t touching that: “I’m not sure I ought to be enforcing Judge Buchanan’s order.” Judge Hilton said that his order was to install the wiretap and Levison had said he’d do that, so – “You’re trying to get me to deal with a contempt before there’s any contempt, and I have a problem with that.”

Levison moved to unseal all but the sensitive information in the proceedings. Judge Holton denied the motion, based on the underlying criminal investigation. Levison asked the judge to order “some sort of external audit to ensure that your oders are followed to the letter” as to FBI data collection. The judge refused. Levison moved to continue the hearing to allow him to retain counsel. Judge Hilton granted the continuance.

Levison and Lavabit get legal representation from a Virginia firm

Levison’s new attorney is Jesse Binnall of Bronley & Binnall PLLC in Fairfax, Virginia. Binnall, 34, was a communication major at George Mason University and graduated from the Law School there in 2009. Binnall and Levison would later be among the first guests on the New Ron Paul Channel in mid-August.

On July 25, Binnall filed under seal a “Motion to quash” the outstanding grand jury subpoena and the search warrant against Lavabit. The motion requested “that this Court direct that Lavabit does not have to produce its Master Key. Alternatively, Lavabit and Mr. Levinson request that they be given an opportunity to revoke the. current encryption key and reissue a new encryption key at the Government’s expense. Lastly, Lavabit and Mr. Levinson request that, if they are required to produce the Master Key, that they be reimbursed for its costs which were directly incurred in producing the Master Key….”

In support of his motion, Binnall made a number of arguments against the actions of the government, which had not faced serious legal opposition up to this point.

Binnall pointed out that giving the government access to Lavabit’s Master Key is tantamount to giving the government access to all of Lavabit’s 400,000 users. That amounts to a general warrant that is unconstitutional, Binnall wrote, and:

“It is axiomatic that the Fourth Amendment prohibits general warrants [with Supreme Court cases cited]…. The Fourth Amendment’s particularity requirement is meant to ‘prevent the seizure of one thing under a warrant describing another’ [citation omitted]. This is precisely the concern with the Lavabit Subpoena and Warrant and, in this circumstance, the particularity requirement will not protect Lavabit. By turning over the Master Key, the Government will have the ability to search each and every ‘place,’ ‘person [and] thing’ on Lavabit’s network…. Additionally, the Government has no probable cause to gain access to the other users accounts.”

The government seemed unconcerned about Levison’s business survival

Bindall also argued that the court should quash the subpoena and search warrant as creating an “undue burden” on Lavabit as defined by law [U.S. Code Title 18, sec. 2703]:

“Not only has Lavabit expended a great deal of time and money in attempting to cooperate with the Government thus far, but, Lavabit will pay the ultimate price –the loss of its customers’ trust and business – should the Court require that the Master Key be turned over. Lavabit’s business, which is founded on the preservation of electronic privacy, could be destroyed if it is required to produce its Master Key.”

Also on July 25, Binnall filed a motion to unseal court records and to lift the gag order on his client, since the “gag order infringes upon freedom of speech under the First Amendment, and should he subjected to constitutional case law. “

Unsurprisingly, the U.S. Attorney filed a motion in opposition.

At the motion hearing on August 1, Judge Hilton engaged in lengthy colloquy with attorney Binnall. Before the 25-minute hearing was half over, the judge had denied both motions and the U.S. Attorney had said little more than “Good morning.” Judge Hilton gave Levison and Lavabit until 5 p.m. Dallas time on August 2 to comply.

Levison’s compliance took an unexpected form

The next day in Dallas, at about 1:30 p.m., Levison provided information that purported to be full compliance with the court’s orders. Whether it was actual compliance remains uncertain. The government was not happy and engaged with attorney Binnall to achieve satisfactory compliance, without success. On August 5 the government filed a motion for sanctions against Levison, calling his apparent compliance “unworkable” and describing it as follows:

“Mr. Levison gave the FBI a printout of what he represented to be the encryption keys needed to operate the pen register. This printout, in what appears to be 4-point type, consists of 11 pages of largely illegible characters. See Attachment A. (The attachment was created by scanning the document provided by Mr. Levison; the original document was described by the Dal!as FBI agents as slightly clearer than the scanned copy but nevertheless illegible.) Moreover, each of the five encryption keys contains 512 individual characters — or a total of 2560 characters. To make use of these keys, the FBI would have to manually input all 2560 characters, and one incorrect keystroke in this laborious process would render the FBI collection system incapable of collecting decrypted data.”

When this compliance effort became public two months later, TechCrunch called it “an epic troll.” At the time, the government was not amused and called for the court to sanction Levison $5,000 a day, beginning at noon August 5. The court promptly granted the motion, while reminding the parties that all aspects of the matter remained under seal. Known only to the participants and some court employees, the case was still unknown to the public.

Levison makes a tantalizing public announcement

That secrecy ended on August 8, when Ladar Levison shut down Lavabit, posting a short notice on the Lavabit.com website, together with a link to the Lavabit Legal Defense Fund. As Levison explained:

“I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on – the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.

“What’s going to happen now? We’ve already started preparing the paperwork needed to continue to fight for the Constitution in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. A favorable decision would allow me resurrect Lavabit as an American company.

“This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would _strongly_ recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.”

Also on August 8, Levison fully complied with the Fourth Circuit courts orders, turning over the encryption keys to a now defunct service. He had incurred 2 days of sanctions – owing the government $10,000 – which remains pending.

The next day, Silent Circle, a global encrypted communications service, stayed in business but preemptively wiped out its email service (about 5 per cent of its customers) in anticipation of a government request that the company wouldn’t want to have to obey. “Meanwhile, Silent Circle is working on replacing its defunct e-mail service with a system that doesn’t rely on traditional e-mail protocols and keeps no messages or metadata within the company’s grasp. It is based on a protocol often used for instant messages and other applications. [CEO Mike] Janke says the goal is for this to not be e-mail, but ‘for all intents and purposes it looks, feels, and acts like e-mail,’” according to MIT Technology Review.

Lavabit’s closing drew some news coverage over the next week, but any story was hampered by the gag order that severely limited what Levison and Binnall could safely say. As Levison told Forbes the day after shutting down Lavabit:

“This is about protecting all of our users, not just one in particular. It’s not my place to decide whether an investigation is just, but the government has the legal authority to force you to do things you’re uncomfortable with….The fact that I can’t talk about this is as big a problem as what they asked me to do…. The methods being used to conduct those investigations should not be secret.”

The FBI and the Justice Dept. Have not commented publicly about the Lavabit case beyond their court filings.

Being secret, federal court appeal gets no news coverage

On August 15, Lavabit attorney Binnall filed notice – under seal – that he was appealing the federal district court’s rulings of August 1 and August 5 to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. In other words, the government can not only keep the public ignorant of what it’s doing, it can also prevent the public from knowing that anyone objects to the government’s actions as unconstitutional.

In the Lavabit case, at least, this changed abruptly on October 2, when Judge Claude Hilton ordered a censored version of 23 documents (162 pages) made public. The redactions in these documents appear, from context, to be intended mostly to conceal details of the criminal investigation into Snowden or some other lavabit.com user. Since the unsealing of the court documents, news coverage had expansed, and Levison and Binnall have appeared in public across the country to argue their cause. As Levison put it on his Facebook page October 2:

“If the Obama administration feels compelled to continue violating the privacy rights of the masses just so they can conduct surveillance on the few then he should at least ask Congress for laws providing that authority instead of using the courts to force businesses into secretly becoming complicit in crimes against the American people.”

On 2005, a U.S. Senator addressed a similar concern, when Congress was about to pass a law creating the “national security letter,” a secret government process much more intense and unforgiving what Levison went through last summer:

“This is legislation that puts our own Justice Department above the law. When national security letters are issued, they allow federal agents to conduct any search on any American, no matter how extensive, how wide-ranging, without ever going before a judge to prove that the search is necessary. All that is needed is a sign-off from a local FBI agent. That’s it.

“Once a business or a person receives notification that they will be searched, they are prohibited from telling anyone about it, and they’re even prohibited from challenging this automatic gag order in court. Even though judges have already found that similar restrictions violate the First Amendment, this conference report disregards the case law and the right to challenge the gag order.

“If you do decide to consult an attorney for legal advice, hold on. You will have to tell the FBI that you’ve done so. Think about that. You want to talk to a lawyer about whether or not your actions are going to be causing you to get into trouble. You’ve got to tell the FBI that you’re consulting a lawyer. This is unheard of. There is no such requirement in any other area of the law. I see no reason why it’s justified here.

“And if someone wants to know why their own government has decided to go on a fishing expedition through every personal record or private document, through the library books that you read, the phone calls that you’ve made, the emails that you’ve sent, this legislation gives people no rights to appeal the need for such a search in a court of law. No judge will hear your plea; no jury will hear your case. This is just plain wrong.”

The question is: how much of a police state do we have already?

That Senator was concerned eight years ago, and that Senator was Barack Obama. Today, national security letters are part of the law of the land, the Obama administration uses them, and if you get one, talking about it is against the law. In that context, since Ladar Levison apparently did not get a national security letter, he was lucky. The country, not so much.

On October 10, in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Lavabit filed the opening brief of its appeal of the lower court’s orders. The United States has until November 4 to file its answer. This will take awhile, it will take effort to follow, but it matters.

William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. This article was first published in Reader Supported News. Read other articles by William.

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NY to judge: Unseal documents on '71 Attica riot


ALBANY, N.Y. • New York’s attorney general has asked a state judge to release sealed documents about the 1971 riot and retaking of Attica state prison in an effort to reveal the full history of the nation’s bloodiest prison rebellion and answer the questions of families whose loved ones died there.

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Man sues DHS, NSA for the right to parody them on mugs, T-shirts
"Forbidding citizens from criticizing them is beyond the pale,” lawyer says.

by Cyrus Farivar - Oct 29 2013, 4:49pm EST

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HORROR: Report Links U.S. Special Forces To War Crimes

“In the fall of 2012, a team of American Special Forces arrived in Nerkh, a district of Wardak province, Afghanistan, which lies just west of Kabul and straddles a vital highway. The members installed themselves in the spacious quarters of Combat Outpost Nerkh, which overlooked the farming valley and had been vacated by more than 100 soldiers belonging to the regular infantry. They were U.S. Army Green Berets, trained to wage unconventional warfare, and their arrival was typical of what was happening all over Afghanistan; the big Army units, installed during the surge, were leaving, and in their place came small groups of quiet, bearded Americans, the elite operators who would stay behind to hunt the enemy and stiffen the resolve of government forces long after America’s 13-year war in Afghanistan officially comes to an end.


But six months after its arrival, the team would be forced out of Nerkh by the Afghan government, amid allegations of torture and murder against the local populace. If true, these accusations would amount to some of the gravest war crimes perpetrated by American forces since 2001. By February 2013, the locals claimed 10 civilians had been taken by U.S. Special Forces and had subsequently disappeared, while another eight had been killed by the team during their operations.

“They’re venomously anti-American there,” one U.S. official says. “It’s always been that way. Sometimes our adversaries are the men and women of a community.”

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November 7, 2013 | By Jennifer Lynch

San Diego Gets in Your Face With New Mobile Identification System

[51_pm]The San Diego regional planning agency, SANDAG, has been quietly rolling out a new mobile face recognition system that will sharply change how police conduct simple stops on Americans. The system, which allows officers to use mobile devices to collect face images out in the field, already has a database of 1.4 million images and serves nearly 25 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in the region.

Over the summer, EFF sent a California Public Records Act request to SANDAG for more information on the program. From the records we received, we’ve learned that the program, called “TACIDS” (Tactical Identification System), serves law enforcement agencies as diverse as the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, the DEA, ICE, the California Highway Patrol and even the San Diego Unified School District. The officers use a Samsung tablet or Android mobile phone to take a picture of a person “in the field” and run that picture against databases of mugshot photos and DMV images from across several states to learn his or her identity. According to users, the system returns high-accuracy results in about eight seconds.

The Center for Investigative Reporting published an in-depth report on the program today, based in part on research conducted by EFF and the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties.

[tacids_user_chart-space]The devices are supposed to be issued to “terrorism liaison” officers, but none of the documentation so far has shown any nexus between TACIDS use and terrorist activities.  A chart we received (to the left) shows that, as of July 2013, there were 133 TACIDS-enabled mobile devices out in the field. While the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department had the most devices (55) and had made the most queries to the system (1,280), it was not the most proportionally active user. That honor went to the San Diego State University PD – the department only had one device (and presumably only one user of that device) but used it to make nearly 200 queries.

CIR obtained more recent numbers that show the program has since expanded by another 45 devices, with a total of 5,629 queries since TACIDS launched. Even the California Department of Insurance and the Del Mar Park Rangers now have mobile facial-recognition devices.

One of the most concerning aspects of the system is that TACIDS allows officers to upload photos to its database right from the field. This means that officers can stop a person on the street, take her picture, and enter that picture in a biometric database based on little or no suspicion.

One anecdote in an official report from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer was particularly chilling:

“Today while conducting warrant services in Oceanside, we made contact with the neighbors of a subject we were looking for. As we were talking to the individuals who lived next door, our "spidy senses" were tingling. So this neighbor became the focus of a field interview. The subject was being evasive answering our questions. It was determined that the subject was in the United States illegally so we arrested him for that. I decided to transport the subject downtown, still not knowing exactly who I had in custody. While driving him to jail, I prodded a little more and the subject stated that in 2003 he received a conviction for DUI in San Diego and that was the ONLY time he was arrested. So I whipped out the Droid and snapped a quick photo and submitted for search. The subject looked inquisitively at me not knowing the truth was only 8 seconds away. I received a match of 99.96%. This revealed several prior arrests and convictions and provided me an FBI #. When I showed him his booking photo, his jaw dropped. Thanks again for the opportunity to evaluate this device.”

A TACIDS draft policy document shows that officers may collect face images in three distinct circumstances—each of which is problematic in its own right. First, officers may take photos of a person who “consents” to have his picture taken. The Supreme Court has said in several cases that if a person answers police questions when he should feel “free to leave,” the encounter is “consensual,” and it doesn’t trigger Fourth Amendment protection—even under circumstances where police conduct is such that no reasonable person would actually feel free to leave (such as when the cops block an exit or show their weapons). Based on laudatory comments about the TACIDS system like the one above, it appears officers are exploiting that perception to use TACIDS to identify people who aren’t under reasonable suspicion.

In the second scenario discussed in the draft policy, officers may collect a face image from anyone “lawfully detained.” In 2004, the Supreme Court upheld a Nevada law requiring people to identify themselves to police officers. The court held that as long as those stops were based on reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, they, too, did not trigger Fourth Amendment (or Fifth Amendment) protections. Stopping someone to take their picture to “identify” them would likely receive the same treatment under the Court’s analysis. However, as we’ve seen in the recent revelations about New York’s stop and frisk program, an overwhelming majority of these types of stops are not actually based on any objective reason to suspect a person of wrongdoing. And the NYPD’s own reports show that these programs overwhelmingly impact minority groups.

The third scenario contemplated by the policy is the most concerning. In that scenario, the cops are allowed to collect photos of people with whom they are not even in contact. This includes photos from security cameras and social media as well as “the capturing of facial images from a distance as part of surveillance operations.” As we discussed in our testimony to Congress on facial recognition last year, taking a person’s photo and entering it into a biometric database without her knowledge can have a serious chilling effect on First Amendment-protected activities. The Supreme Court has long recognized the societal value in the ability to remain anonymous and the ability to associate with others privately without fear that the government is watching. Using face recognition technology in the way proposed by SANDAG destroys this anonymity and puts everyone under the threat of government surveillance.

Although the draft policy includes some measures intended to protect privacy, these measures do not go far enough. For example, the policy explicitly allows face image collection based on First-Amendment protected activities like an “individual’s political, religious, or social views, associations or activities” as long as that collection is limited to “instances directly related to criminal conduct or activity.” But “criminal conduct or activity” is such a vague concept that it places no effective restrictions on police action. As we’ve seen in the ACLU of Northern California’s case challenging California’s DNA collection law, even peaceful political protests can result in arrest and biometric collection.

Not so long ago, our society would have recoiled from this type of stop and search. As an Arizona Supreme Court justice noted in 1983, “[t]he thought that an American can be compelled to 'show his papers' before exercising his right to walk the streets, drive the highways or board the trains is repugnant to American institutions and ideals.” In 1990, the Florida Supreme Court said police questioning based on no individualized suspicion was “foreign to any fair reading of the Constitution” and compared it to “Hitler's Berlin,” “ Stalin's Moscow,” and “white supremacist South Africa.” It’s disheartening to think how much has changed in the last 23 years and especially in the years since 9/11.

We hope that San Diego residents will push back on TACIDS before the program is rolled out to additional devices and agencies and linked to fixed video cameras in court buildings and on public transportation. We also hope that Americans across the country will question whether the impact of this type of technology on Constitutionally-protected activities is worth the huge cost and the minimal benefit to law enforcement from its use.


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 see link for full story   Our Government Has Weaponized the Internet. Here's How They Did It
“The internet backbone — the infrastructure of networks upon which internet traffic travels — went from being a passive infrastructure for communication to an active weapon for attacks.
According to revelations about the QUANTUM program, the NSA can “shoot” (their words) an exploit at any target it desires as his or her traffic passes across the backbone. It appears that the NSA and GCHQ were the first to turn the internet backbone into a weapon; absent Snowdens of their own, other countries may do the same and then say, “It wasn’t us. And even if it was, you started it.” If the NSA can hack Petrobras, the Russians can justify attacking Exxon/Mobil. If GCHQ can hack Belgicom to enable covert wiretaps, France can do the same to AT&T. If the Canadians target the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy, the Chinese can target the U.S. Department of the Interior. We now live in a world where, if we are lucky, our attackers may be every country our traffic passes through except our own.
Which means the rest of us — and especially any company or individual whose operations are economically or politically significant — are now targets. All cleartext traffic is not just information being sent from sender to receiver, but is a possible attack vector.”  

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Video History Of The Original Black Panther Party

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013Last Update: 9:48 AM PT
Boy, Tasered in School, Is in a Coma

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The first thing any smart criminal justice consumer comes to grips with is
are local, state and county, did I mention federal police, are they bringing heroin and cocaine into Denver to destabalize the community  and drum up business when arrests are slow. After all, these activities are being funded by your tax dime.
DEA supervisor has detailed CIA  agents collaborating with Denver law enforcement to bring heroin and cocaine into Denver. Read his books , go to his website also read his essay about CIA  asset Oliver North trafficking in heroin and cocaine here. The second posted story connects to Mike Levine's essay.

1st read
see link for full story


1st read

I Volunteer to Kidnap Oliver North
Michael Levine

        Undercover DEA agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena was tortured to death slowly by professionals.   Every known maximum-pain technique, from electric shocks to his testicles to white hot rods inserted in his rectum, was applied.   A doctor stood by to keep him alive.   The heart of the thirty-seven year old father of two boys refused to quit for more than twenty-four hours.  His cries, along with the soft-spoken, calm voices of the men who were slowly and meticulously savaging his body, were tape-recorded.

        Kiki, one of only three hundred of us in the world (DEA agents on foreign assignment),   had been kidnapped in broad daylight from in front of the U.S. Consular office in Guadalajara, Mexico by Mexican cops working for drug traffickers and, apparently, high level Mexican government people whose identities we would never know.  They would be protected by people in our own government to whom Kiki's life meant less than nothing.

        When teams of DEA agents were sent to Mexico, first, to find the missing Kiki, then to hunt for his murderers,  they were met by a the stone wall of a corrupt Mexican government that refused to cooperate.  To the horror and disgust of many of us, our government backed down from the Mexicans; other interests, like NAFTA, banking agreements and the covert support of Ollie North's Contras,  were more important than the life of an American undercover agent. DEA agents were ordered by the  Justice Department, to keep our mouths shut about Mexico; an order that was backed up by threats from the office of Attorney General Edwin Meese himself.   Instead of tightening restrictions on the Mexican debt, our Treasury Department moved to loosen them as if to reward them for their filthy deed.   As an added insult Mexico was granted cooperating nation in the drug war status, giving them access to additional millions in American drug war funds and loans.

        Somehow a CIA—unaware that their own chief of Soviet counter intelligence, Aldrich Ames, was selling all America's biggest secrets to the KGB for fourteen years with all the finesse of a Jersey City garage sale—was able to obtain the tape-recordings of Kiki's torture death.  No one in media or government had the courage to publicly ask them explain how they were able to obtain the tapes, yet know nothing of the murder as it was happening; no one had the courage to ask them to explain the testimony of a reliable government informant, (during a California trial related to Camarena's murder), that Kiki's murderers believed they were protected by the CIA.  Nor did our elected leaders have the courage to investigate numerous other reports linking the CIA directly to the murderers.

        Our government's sellout of Kiki Camarena, of all DEA agents, of the war on drugs, was such that United States Congressman, Larry Smith,  stated, on the floor of Congress:

        "I personally am convinced that the Justice Department is against the best interests of the United States in terms of stopping drugs...  What has a DEA agent who puts his life on the line got to look forward to?  The U.S. Government is not going to back him up.  I find that intolerable."

         What does Oliver North have to do with this?

         A lot of us, Kiki's fellow agents, believe that the Mexican government never would have dared take the action they did, had they not believed the US government to be as hypocritical and  corrupt as they were and still are.  And if there was ever a figure in our history that was the paradigm of that corruption it is the man President Reagan called "an American hero"; the same man Nancy Reagan later called a liar:  Oliver North.

        In fact, when Costa Rica began its investigation into the drug trafficking allegations against North and naively thought that the U.S. would gladly lend a hand in efforts to fight drugs, they received a rude awakening about the realities of America's war on drugs as opposed to its "this-scourge-will-end" rhetoric.

        After five witnesses testified before the U.S. Senate, confirming that John Hull—a C.I.A. operative and the lynch-pin of North's contra re supply operation—had been actively running drugs from Costa Rica to the U.S. "under the direction of the C.I.A.,"  Costa Rican authorities arrested him.   Hull then quickly jumped bail and fled to the U.S.—according to my sources—with the help  of DEA, putting the drug fighting agency in the schizoid business of both kidnapping accused drug dealers and  helping them escape; although the Supreme Court has not legalized the latter . . . yet.

        The then-President of Costa Rica, Oscar Arias was stunned when he received letters from nineteen U.S. Congressman—including Lee Hamilton of Indiana, the Democrat who headed the Iran-contra committee—warning him "to avoid situations . . . that could adversely affect our relations."     Arias, who won the Nobel prize for ending the contra war, stated that he was shocked that "relations between [the United States] and my country could deteriorate because [the Costa Rican] legal system is fighting against drug trafficking."

        And why would I volunteer to kidnap Ollie?  For three reasons: first, kidnapping is now legal; second,  I have experience kidnapping; and third, it is the only way those tens of millions of Americans who have suffered the betrayal of their own government will ever see even a glimmer of justice.

         Several years after Kiki's last tape-recorded cries were shoved well under a government rug,  a maverick group of DEA agents decided to take the law into their own hands. Working without the knowledge or approval of most of the top DEA bosses, whom they mistrusted, the agents arranged to have Dr. Humberto Alvarez Machain, a Mexican citizen alleged to have participated in Kiki's murder,  abducted at gun point in Guadalajara Mexico and brought to Los Angeles to stand trial.

        On June 16, 1992, the United States Supreme Court ruled in the landmark Machain Decision that the actions of those agents was "legal."  The ruling said in no uncertain terms that U.S. law enforcement authorities could literally and figuratively kidnap violators of American drug law in whatever country they found them and drag them physically and against their will to the U.S. to stand trial.  Immediately thereafter the Ayatollahs declared that they too could rove the world and kidnap violators of Islamic law and drag them back to Iran to stand trial.  Kidnapping, therefore, has now become an accepted tool of law enforcement throughout the world.

        Resorting to all sorts of wild extremes to bring drug traffickers to justice is nothing new for the U.S. government.  At various times during my career as a DEA agent I was assigned to some pretty unorthodox operations—nothing quite as radical as invading Panama and killing a thousand innocents to capture long-time CIA asset Manny Noriega—but I was  once, (long before the Machain Decision), assigned to a group of undercover agents on a kidnapping mission.   Posing as a soccer team, we landed in Argentina in a chartered jet during the wee hours of the morning, where the Argentine Federal Police had three international drug dealers—two of whom had never in their lives set foot in the United States—waiting for us trussed up in straight-jackets with horse feed-bags over their heads, each beaten to a pulpy, toothless mess.  In those years we used to call it a "controlled expulsion."    I think I like the honesty of kidnapping  a little better.

        By now you're probably saying, "Get real Levine you  live in a nation whose politicians ripped their own people off for half a trillion dollars in a savings and loan scam, a nation whose Attorney General ordered the FBI to attack a house full of innocent babies, and this is the decade of Ruby Ridge, Waco and Whitewater-gate; your own people sent Kiki Camarena to Mexico to be murdered and then gave aid and comfort to those who murdered him—how can you expect justice?"

        If you aren't saying these things you should be.   And you'd be right.  Under the current two-party,  rip-off system of American politics with their complete control of main stream media, I expect Ollie North to have a bright future in politics, while hundreds of thousands of Americans like John rot in jail.  Ollie North, after all, is the perfect candidate.  But there is one faint glimmer of hope remaining, and it isn't in America.

        Since the democratic and staunchly anti-drug Costa Rica is, thus far,  the only nation with the courage to have publicly accused Oliver North, a US Ambassador and a CIA station chief of running drugs from their sovereignty to  the United States, I find myself, duty-bound to make them, or any other nation that would have the courage to make similar charges,  the following offer:

        I, Michael Levine,  twenty-five year veteran undercover agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration, given the mandate of the Supreme Court's Machain Decision and in fulfillment of my oath to the U.S. government and its taxpayers to arrest and seize all those individuals who would smuggle or cause illegal drugs to be smuggled into the United States or who would aid and abet drug smugglers,  do hereby volunteer my services to any sovereign, democratic nation who files legal Drug Trafficking charges against Colonel Oliver North and any of his cohorts; to do everything in my power including kidnapping him, seizing his paper shredder, reading him his constitutional rights and dragging his butt to wherever that sovereignty might be, (with or without horse feed-bag); to once-and-for-all stand trial for the horrific damages caused to my country, my fellow law enforcement officers, and to my family.

2nd read

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Mexican Drug Lord Who Killed DEA Agent Accused of Stashing Billions of Dollars in Secret Overseas Accounts

Mexican drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero, who ordered the kidnapping, torture and killing of DEA agent Enrique Camarena in 1985, has stashed billion of dollars in secret overseas accounts, an ex-DEA agent claims.
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CIA-backed Palantir reportedly worth $9 billion, jumping 50 percent in two months


Palantir, the big data miner that provides services to the FBI, CIA, and many Wall Street firms, is looking like a rocket ship these days. The company is expected to announced a new round of funding this week that will value the company at $9 billion, The Wall Street Journal reports. That's a 50 percent increase from September, when Palantir was valued at $6 billion.

What accounts for the company's fast ascent? Some skeptics say it's the frothy funding environment where Dropbox is aiming for an $8 billion valuation and Pinterest is looking at a $3.8 billion one. However, Palantir's ability to cross-reference large sets of data is increasingly crucial as large caches of data become more and more common.

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70 year old grandmother slammed into ground after handcuffing by police.

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see link for full essay

Chris Hedges
The Last Gasp of American Democracy

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the ... y_20140105

Posted on Jan 5, 2014

By Chris Hedges

This is our last gasp as a democracy. The state’s wholesale intrusion into our lives and obliteration of privacy are now facts. And the challenge to us—one of the final ones, I suspect—is to rise up in outrage and halt this seizure of our rights to liberty and free expression. If we do not do so we will see ourselves become a nation of captives.

The public debates about the government’s measures to prevent terrorism, the character assassination of Edward Snowden and his supporters, the assurances by the powerful that no one is abusing the massive collection and storage of our electronic communications miss the point. Any state that has the capacity to monitor all its citizenry, any state that has the ability to snuff out factual public debate through control of information, any state that has the tools to instantly shut down all dissent is totalitarian. Our corporate state may not use this power today. But it will use it if it feels threatened by a population made restive by its corruption, ineptitude and mounting repression. The moment a popular movement arises—and one will arise—that truly confronts our corporate masters, our venal system of total surveillance will be thrust into overdrive.

The most radical evil, as Hannah Arendt pointed out, is the political system that effectively crushes its marginalized and harassed opponents and, through fear and the obliteration of privacy, incapacitates everyone else. Our system of mass surveillance is the machine by which this radical evil will be activated. If we do not immediately dismantle the security and surveillance apparatus, there will be no investigative journalism or judicial oversight to address abuse of power. There will be no organized dissent. There will be no independent thought. Criticisms, however tepid, will be treated as acts of subversion. And the security apparatus will blanket the body politic like black mold until even the banal and ridiculous become concerns of national security.

I saw evil of this kind as a reporter in the Stasi state of East Germany. I was followed by men, invariably with crew cuts and wearing leather jackets, whom I presumed to be agents of the Stasi—the Ministry for State Security, which the ruling Communist Party described as the “shield and sword” of the nation. People I interviewed were visited by Stasi agents soon after I left their homes. My phone was bugged. Some of those I worked with were pressured to become informants. Fear hung like icicles over every conversation.

The Stasi did not set up massive death camps and gulags. It did not have to. The Stasi, with a network of as many as 2 million informants in a country of 17 million, was everywhere. There were 102,000 secret police officers employed full time to monitor the population—one for every 166 East Germans. The Nazis broke bones; the Stasi broke souls. The East German government pioneered the psychological deconstruction that torturers and interrogators in America’s black sites, and within our prison system, have honed to a gruesome perfection.

The goal of wholesale surveillance, as Arendt wrote in “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” is not, in the end, to discover crimes, “but to be on hand when the government decides to arrest a certain category of the population.” And because Americans’ emails, phone conversations, Web searches and geographical movements are recorded and stored in perpetuity in government databases, there will be more than enough “evidence” to seize us should the state deem it necessary. This information waits like a deadly virus inside government vaults to be turned against us. It does not matter how trivial or innocent that information is. In totalitarian states, justice, like truth, is irrelevant.
The object of efficient totalitarian states, as George Orwell understood, is to create a climate in which people do not think of rebelling, a climate in which government killing and torture are used against only a handful of unmanageable renegades. The totalitarian state achieves this control, Arendt wrote, by systematically crushing human spontaneity, and by extension human freedom. It ceaselessly peddles fear to keep a population traumatized and immobilized. It turns the courts, along with legislative bodies, into mechanisms to legalize the crimes of state.
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LAPD officer accused of beating, kicking restrained suspect in the head
By JOEL RUBIN contact the reporter
CrimeLaw EnforcementLos Angeles Police Department
An LAPD officer is being investigated for allegedly kicking a restrained suspect in the head
Chief Charlie Beck says he's "extremely concerned about this particular use of force"
A Los Angeles police officer is under investigation after being accused of beating and kicking a suspect who was being held down by other officers, according to sources close to the probe.

The altercation was captured by a private company’s security camera. Several police officials who saw the video told The Times that the officer delivered a powerful kick to the suspect’s head. One said the officer resembled “a football player kicking a field goal.” Another described it as “horrific.” The suspect, they said, had surrendered and was not resisting the officers.
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Inappropriate use of Tasers by Denver deputies
By The Denver
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LAPD study focused on small part of discipline system
Charlie Beck
Police Chief Charlie Beck launched the review after the February 2013 shootings by former Officer Christopher Dorner, who criticized the LAPD's discipline process.
LAPD discipline survey dealt with serious cases in which officers faced possible termination or suspension
The officers were blunt in their assessment of the Los Angeles Police Department's disciplinary system: It was unfair and needed to be fixed.

"It's all about who you know," wrote one of more than 500 officers and civilian employees who participated in a written survey conducted by the LAPD. "It seems that people with more time on [the job] get more of a break," wrote another.

The criticism was documented by LAPD officials who examined the agency's discipline process in the wake of the Christopher Dorner shooting rampage last year.

But the review analyzed only a narrow segment of the LAPD's expansive system for investigating and disciplining officers.

The report, which took 20 months to complete and will be presented to the city's Police Commission on Tuesday, focused mostly on officers sent to hearings for possible termination or lengthy suspensions after being accused of serious misconduct.

You've got a perception that if you're a friend of the chief's, then all of the sudden it's better. You can't quantify that. So that's a perception issue for the chief to work on.
- Steve Soboroff
The review looked for disparities in whether officers of certain ranks, gender, or race were ordered to the hearings and ultimately penalized, concluding that data showed there was little merit to the complaints of bias.

Left unexamined, however, was the vast majority of the LAPD's misconduct cases, which are handled by officers' commanders.

The president of the union that represents the department's roughly 9,900 rank-and-file officers dismissed the report Monday as a disappointment.

Tyler Izen was critical of what he said were efforts by officials to blame officers' concerns on their poor understanding of how the discipline system works.

"They are saying the employees don't get it…I think [officers] are afraid they are going to be fired," he said. "I would like to see all the raw data because this report doesn't tell me much."

Steve Soboroff, president of the Police Commission, acknowledged that some officers believe the discipline system favors those with connections. But he praised the report, saying that it did a good job of analyzing claims of bias based on gender, rank and ethnicity. He said it would have been impossible to quantify all the complaints of disparities in punishments.

"You've got a perception that if you're a friend of the chief's, then all of the sudden it's better," Soboroff said. "You can't quantify that. How do you do the statistics on that? So that's a p
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Pregnant St. Louis woman loses left eye after police officer shoots non-lethal round at car
November 28 2014

A pregnant St. Louis woman lost her left eye after a violent run-in with law enforcement earlier this week.

Dornnella Conners says an officer fired a non-lethal bean-bag round at the car she was in – shattering the passenger side window.

Shards of glass bloodied her face and robbed her of sight in her left eye, according to reports.
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After a flawed killing by cops, LAPD chief must decide what to do
LAPD Chief Beck on Recent Local Protesters, Faults Officers in Shooting Man After Chase
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck talks about recent local protests following the Ferguson and Garner grand jury verdicts, and faults LAPD officers in the killing of an unarmed man.

After finding three officers violated LAPD rules in deadly shooting, Beck must now decide the consequences
Beck said he sympathized with the officers, 'but I cannot let that sympathy influence my decisions'
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said Thursday he must strike a difficult balance in deciding how to discipline three officers who violated department policies when they shot and killed an unarmed man after a pursuit last year.
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Greg Flannery is a investigative reporter
from Cincinnati.
We brought Leonard Gates and him to speak
at our conference investigating FBI agents committing voter fraud.

Here is his new article.

Hitler’s American Soldier
In Uncategorized on 12/10/2014 at 4:32 pm
A story of war and circumstance

By Gregory Flannery

The year 2014 marks the 75th anniversary of the start of World War II. In the early 1990s I interviewed the late Frank Leonhartsberger, who was born a U.S. citizen but fought for Nazi Germany during the war. That was not his choice.

Leonhartsberger was born in Allentown, Pa. When his father died, his mother – an Austrian immigrant – took the 1-year-old boy with her and returned to her homeland. A few years later, Nazi Germany annexed Austria. In 1945, when Leonhartsberger was 16 years old, he was drafted.

In 1949 Leonhartsberger returned to the United States. In the 1950s his cousin, Franz Pfingstl, gave him a collection of 90 snapshots of Hitler and top Nazi leaders. Leonhartsberger did not know who shot the photographs and could not identify their setting. He said he only knew that the photos were supposed to have been taken on Hitler’s birthday. One of the photographs is reproduced on this page.

Leonhartsberger gave me his collection of photos, most of which have never been published. I used to believe the photos were the most interesting part of his story. I spent a lot of time trying to identify them and eventually succeeded. The photos were, in fact, taken on the occasion of Hitler’s 52nd birthday, which he spent in the Austrian town of Monichkirchen. Arriving April 11, 1941, and leaving two weeks later, Hitler met with Count Ciano of Italy and Tsar Boris III of Bulgaria. He congratulated the officers who had nearly finished conquering Greece and Yugoslavia, and he reviewed plans for the invasion of the Soviet Union.

I was wrong. The most compelling thing about Frank Leonhartsberger’s experience was not the photos, but his personal story. He likely was not the only U.S. citizen who found himself in Hitler’s army. But his account – given me over the course of four hours in his dimly lit apartment in Ormond Beach, Fla., abetted by the consumption of lots of Scotch whiskey – is an eloquent testament about the horrors of war and racism. What follows are his words verbatim; I have added only the sub-headings.

The testament of Frank Leonhartsberger

If you had a cigarette, you went off somewhere by yourself, or else all of a sudden you had five friends. We had no cigarettes during the war. God, that was rough.

When I was born, they made a mistake in the name. They recorded it as Franz Leon Hans Berger. When I was getting ready to go to school in the ’30s, it became a problem. Austria is full of bureaucracy. Everything has to be just so, a little bit like the English when it comes to documents. It took forever to get this thing straightened out. I remember my mother saying, “Well, they got the name right, but they got the doggoned date wrong.” I was supposed to have been born in 1929, but on that paper, on that birth certificate, it was 1927.

My father died 25 March 1930. My mother took me back to my grandparents in Austria. She had brothers and sisters over there. One of them took care of the saloon, one took care of the grocery store. We had a gasthaus and a little grocery store. We were considered rather rich. We had a big house in Rudersdorf Berg. We lived up in the hills. We had no electricity. Every week we had to shine the kerosene lamps. It was a wonderful childhood, all the kids growing up together.

I had a cousin who had polio. She was two years older than me. She couldn’t get around. I gave her my tricycle, and she lived on that tricycle ’til the day she died. She died when she was 30.

My mother remarried and we moved to Ubersbach. We opened up a grocery store, a soup-to-nuts grocery store. We had bread, we had booze, we had farm implements, we had fabric. It was quite a nice life, really.

Every town has a drunk. Our drunk was the finest accordion player in town. It was a button accordion — not keys. He taught me to play. Music was a very important part of my life after the war, because I sang for many of my meals.

When Hitler took over in 1938, we would march up and down the street yelling because Hitler had liberated us. What he had liberated us from, I don’t know.

The people in the city were very Nazified, but the poor farmers didn’t understand any of it. Every little town had a Nazi or two. Put the attitude was, “Let’s get stoned tonight and see if the morning may be a little brighter.” Ambition was never the Austrian strong point

‘I didn’t see any glory’

I was in the Hitler Youth. If you’re a kid and someone gives you a uniform, whoopee! We marched around and sang and got indoctrinated. It was not a bad thing, really. You learned a little discipline, no doubt about it. I got pushed around a few times because I didn’t march right.

I went into the army when I was 16. The fact was, I was not 16 years old; but according to my papers, I was. After the Hitler Youth, everyone went into the Arbeits Dienst, a mandatory work crew that got you ready for the army. Our weapon was a highly polished spade.

All of a sudden, the whole squadron became a part of anti-aircraft. We got our battery, and by now the war was going pretty bad, so we kept the same uniforms. 1 worked radar.

I remember the first kill we had was one of ours.

The only chance we had to shoot somebody was when some poor guy got half-crippled up there. He couldn’t steer, he couldn’t maneuver

You Americans have no idea what war is. You’ve never seen war. Look at it through a young fellow’s eyes. I saw kids thrown around in the street after a bombing raid. You can’t imagine it. And after the war, there’s thousands of people walking the street, dazed, no idea where you’re getting your next meal, or any meal. I remember one time I was so hungry I stole some bread — and that was during the war. If anybody ever thinks there’s glory in it, there’s nothing but misery. That’s all there is.

There are a lot of people fascinated by war, and some people think there’s honor in war. “All for the Fuhrer and the Fatherland!’ That’s a crock of shit. I didn’t see any glory. There’s no cover. I was scared to death. Day and night, bombing.

We shot down a lieutenant from New York. He came down with no chute or a bad chute. When he hit the ground, he nearly buried himself. On his plane he had a pair of baby shoes. Maybe it was a good luck charm. He had the names of different missions written on them — Berlin, Dusseldorf, Vienna. I carried those shoes around with me for the rest of the war. I thought maybe I could give them to his family, but after the war I lost everything.

When we got a hit, we would send groups down to pick them up, because sometimes the people would try to kill them. It was impossible not to hate the Americans. They just bombed your city and killed your family.


‘I have nightmares’

On the last day of the war, we were high on a hill. We could see the Russians coming and hear the tanks rumbling. There were only a dozen left. All the officers and staff were gone.

We were blowing up the 88s and blowing up the barracks and everything. We didn’t want the Russians to get it. We thought it was very heroic, but we were nitwits. We should have gotten the hell out of there. It was raining, and the Russians were bombing.

My good friend placed a hand grenade on a machine gun nest, then fell in. When I hear this SS crap, don’t get me wrong. At the end of the war it was 15-year-old kids who had no other uniform left but the SS uniforms.

They had no more than a few weeks training. They weren’t SS troopers, they were poor Hitler Youth marching to the front to be slaughtered, half of them too young to shave.

Years after the war they would drift home from Russia. People had given up on them long ago.

A few weeks before the war ended they issued us these anti-tank weapons. They were like stovepipes. You had to get as close as the front door. I had no intention of using them.

They dropped firebombs on Graz. They would drop them by the thousands. Just to show you that you remember the funny stuff, there was a beautiful neighborhood there called Puntigam. I remember going home, hopping over these picket fences. If they would have timed us, we would have made the Olympics. The picket fences were burning. They were bombing. It was sheer fright making us streak like that. It was a sight to behold.

We used to eat noodles and ground horsemeat and acorn coffee.

One time after we were bombed, I was digging out. I kept trying to lift this typewriter out. It was all mangled, but I kept pulling and trying to get it out. 1 pulled that typewriter
Quote 0 0

Jon Rappoport's Blog


Why is it illegal for communities to protect themselves from harm? Dec
by Jon Rappoport
Why is it illegal for communities to protect themselves from harm?

by Jon Rappoport

December 30, 2014


The supposed answer to that question is the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution, Article 6, paragraph 2:

“This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.”

By inference, the individual states declare their own supremacy when local communities try to nullify or avoid state statutes.

Keep in mind that the US Constitution enumerates powers granted to the federal government, and reserves all other powers for the states or the people. But this restraint has been trampled on so many times it’s barely visible under the tonnage of federal law and regulation.

Therefore, the Supremacy Clause becomes: “We, the federal government, can do anything we want to, and the states and the people are bound by it.”

So…what happens when the people of a community decide that a medical drug or pesticide (see also this) or genetically modified organism or fracking chemical or vaccine is poisonous and must be banned?

The state preempts the community, and if the state doesn’t, the federal government will move in and assert its ultimate authority.

Take the case of Roundup, or any of the pesticides that contain the toxic glyphosate. If the EPA or the USDA or the FDA decides glyphosate is harmless, and if their “science” is a sham, and if they are merely caving in to big corporations who want to sell it, the people would have no recourse.

“It’s the law, and you have to submit to liver and kidney damage at the very least.”

That’s the absurdity.

If health and life aren’t the basis of law, if they are ignored, if they are necessary sacrifices on the altar of federal or state control, then all bets are off.

For the past 25 years, I’ve been documenting exactly this: medical and scientific fraud that leads to great harm. This fraud is not only permitted, it’s embodied in federal and state regulations.

I frequently cite Dr. Barbara Starfield’s stunning review, “Is US health really the best in the world?” It was published on July 26, 2000, in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

At the time, Starfield was a widely respected public health expert working at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

Her credentials and those of JAMA were impeccably mainstream.

She concluded that, every year, FDA-approved medical drugs killed 106,000 Americans. That adds up to over a million deaths per decade.

In the wake of her published review, and for the next nine years, as she told me in a 2009 interview, no one in the federal government approached her to help remedy this ongoing plague of destruction. Nor was she aware of any systematic remedial federal effort.

But you see, the FDA is a federal agency set up by federal law. It is tasked with approving all medical drugs as safe and effective before they are released for public use.

So if a local community decided, on its own, to ban a deadly medicine, its vote would be struck down from above.

“Suffer. Die. It’s the law.”

power outside the matrix

There are people who are happy to settle for choice. “As long as I’m free to refuse the medicine, I’m good. Let others take it if they want to.”

But we’re not talking about a choice between pears and oranges. We’re talking about poison.

And despite recalls, lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies, and heavy fines, the killing continues.

Therefore, on the basis of self-protection, a community has the right to enact a ban.

Unless self-protection must surrender to the System. Then we are looking at lawless government pretending to be lawful.

These phrases come to mind:

“…certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”

“…in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…”

Making these goals come to fruition when communities are under toxic attack is impossible. Therefore, governments that support and enshrine such attacks are violating the very origin of laws.

Jon Rappoport

The author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED, EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free emails at NoMoreFakeNews.com or OutsideTheRealityMachine.

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26 comments on “Why is it illegal for communities to protect themselves from harm?”

        Why is it illegal for communities to protect themselves from harm? | peoples trust toronto says:
December 30, 2014 at 2:36 pm
[…] Vía Jon Rappoport’s Blog http://jonrappoport.wordpress.com/2014/12/30/why-is-it-illegal-for-communities-to-protect-themselves… […]

Mary Macnab says:
December 31, 2014 at 1:05 pm
A reference to the true meaning of the last word “notwithstanding” (as per Noah Webster’s “American Dictionary of the English language” 1882) corrects the misinterpretation of the Supremacy Clause which the federal government claims as its meaning:

“NOTWITHSTANDING, the participle of withstand, with ‘not’ prefixed, and signifying not opposing.”

From Québec says:
December 30, 2014 at 5:56 pm
This is the phrase that comes to my mind:

“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

From Québec says:
December 30, 2014 at 6:33 pm
On a another angle, if the Military will not overthrow such despotic Government, you can work on having small victories, attacking smaller companies, like Vani Hari aka the “Food Babe” did and is still doing.

If you boycott small companies that uses toxic products, they will remove them to be able to survive. This is what the “Food Babe” did and is still doing with a lot of success.

If small food companies start getting rid of toxic elements in their foods and pharmacists start banning medical toxic chemicals in their drugs, these BIG BAD Corporations will hurt so badly, that they might get back their sanity.

See all the victories this single girl had:

Start listening at 15:40

Food Babe Attacked For Speaking The Truth

From Québec says:
December 30, 2014 at 6:40 pm

In other words: [politically speaking] Don’t try to blow off the hole building in one shot.
Take one brick at a time and it will eventually crash.

Rastafari says:
December 31, 2014 at 1:29 pm
food babe wants to label GMOs.

she has alot of big-media logos on her site.

she petitions fake-food companies to stop with coloring, antibiotics, etc., and sometimes wants “no gmo” but that is not the top demand.

as long as GMO dominates the scene, nothing else really matters. will I eat at chick fillet if they have removed coloring from their GMO-fed chicken? no.

we who care about this critical issue want to stop the corporations.

but as long as prussian-educated sheeple still eat and support GMO poison-nonfood, we are doomed. looks like the new world order knows this fact.


boycott all of it…

* their “grocery stores” where you can’t find a grocery cart full of real, uncontaminated food.

* their “restaurants” where you can only get government-approved ingredients, no natural food allowed.

* their “food products” which have no food at all in them.

do you shop at wally world or similar? stop now. tell them you are boycotting and that you are joining others to boycott. then do it.

I’ve been doing this for years, and although I promote this as a successful measure to take, I can’t say I’ve had much success with it.

sadder than sad, is that most don’t seem to care. at all.

/s/ Rastafari

seamlessone says:
December 30, 2014 at 7:34 pm
Mob rule is the law of the land, not the Constitution. The big mobs rule the smaller mobs, that is the nature of Democracy. Until mob rule is replaced with something else, that will always be the nature of the beast. Federal representatives represent the greater/larger mob. The smaller mobs are irrelevant. The individual is irrelevant. Inalienable rights are not relevant to the mob. The mob(and/or its representatives) determines what rights are alienable and they can add laws to trump any others at any time. Mob rule trumps all.

Thankfully the mob is slow, and dumb, blind, and easily outsmarted. The mob is highly predictable, and therefore its danger is quite limited.

walt says:
December 31, 2014 at 2:50 am
We are a Republic where the right of one person cannot be outweighed by the mobs.
At least that is what it is suppose to be.

Vincent Nunes says:
January 2, 2015 at 12:20 pm
In absolute agreement – we must remove GMOs and their associated pesticides from our food supply, before our food supply no longer exists.

Terminator genes – remember that.

Doña says:
January 2, 2015 at 12:16 pm
Danger quite limited? That is a naive comment..

seamlessone says:
December 30, 2014 at 8:04 pm
“Therefore, governments that support and enshrine such attacks are violating the very origin of laws.” I would suggest that our current government is the natural outcome of “law”. Seems to me that the origin of “law” with regards to the founding fathers, was in its essence an attempt to protect the mob from itself. It was flawed from the beginning.

Mature men don’t need laws, and the law can only restrain the mob for so long. The founding fathers who truly believed in “unalienable rights” or “natural rights” would have been better off starting their own civilization somewhere, rather than attempting to create a body of law to guide the hoards of immature imbeciles. The mob is not interested in unalienable rights. The mob needs a parent, who gives them rights and structure, and tells them what it means to pursue Liberty and to secure its blessing. The mob is only interested in the kind of freedom that exists under daddy and mommy’s wings.

roberta4949 says:
December 30, 2014 at 8:17 pm
as long as food is properly labeled no need to ban it, people who dont want it wont buy it wont be long before they stop making it (hopfully not get gov to allow them to mislabel it on purpose) but gmo good or bad is still pretty much matter of who you ask. we dont want to make the same mistake gov seem to always make assume they speak for most people when in fact it is actually a minority that want something banned or required. I figure it is best to take scaremongers with a grain of salt until you get enough information (such as reading a good chemistry book is a great start, I tried to read a biochemistry book once will require a bit more effort for me to do so, very dry reading hard to understand sometimes) I say let people decide what they want using their wallets, and stop using government to force ones opinion on others remember it is usually a minority that seems to speak for the majority many times the majority are unware of actions being taken or are fine with the products being used. just require labeling.

Michael Burns says:
January 1, 2015 at 3:19 pm
And in your wisdom Roberta what shall that label be…a skull and cross bones, the usual label for a poison.
Or shall we allow them place a label that states that the product contains a GMO when 90% of the population does not understand what that means…especially for life on planet earth.

roberta4949 says:
January 3, 2015 at 5:31 pm
the problem with bans is they fail to take in account that the information about why something is banned could be wrong. also dont forget it interferes with free will, if someone is ignorant of something there is plenty of information for them to read, I will give you an example, for me I was trying to increase my intake of whole grains for my carb sources instead of the stripped stuff so how do I know what I am getting? it is called reading, I got on the web and looked up defintions of whole grains what is considered a whole grain and how to read labels the problem with people today is they want to be led by the hand all the time, without using their head ot gain knowledge. wisdom keeps crying out in the streets so to speak but most ignore it because they dont want to be bothered with educating themselves. and frankly I do not like others making decisions for me using state power to force me to not have something i want or may not want, the choice should be mine should it not? if 90 percent do not understand why dont you campaige for increasing their knowledge? does a parent stop educating their children and lead them their whole lives what to pick do eat or not eat or where to go what life decisions to make and what career choices to make how to spend their money what to vote on? no you educate htem teach them how to find information, how to think for themselves and how to decide. where to go for information and how to weight costs/benefits. and then decide for themselves. will they always make the right choice that doens’t lead to a serious problem for them? no, but that is how you learn. you make your bed and you sleep in it, you dont sleep in it then complain no one else made the bed for you. you dont force your opinions on others through state force, because that opinion is usually developed by someone elses poltical agenda that has nothing to do with science and everything to do with gaining power or destroying competitors or some other agenda they have that we would refuse if it were plainly stated.

Jill Hall says:
December 30, 2014 at 9:25 pm
The generalized answer to the question is that it’s “bad for business”, and so must not be allowed. We are living in a world where the decision-makers worship money, or (as they used to say) Mammon. But there is no indication that the neo-liberal cult of “growth” is anything other than a surrogate religion that demands worldwide subservience. Whom does it benefit? The “priest” class, as always. The supposed “trickledown” effect that got the Randian romantic Milton Friedman his Nobel Prize in economics (awarded solely, btw, by the Swedish National Bank) has not happened after 30 years, and the world is worse off than anyone can remember.

Capitalism eventually eats itself. For a consumer society to exist, there needs to be a large middle class that can afford to buy products they don’t actually need, but would like to have. But corporations owned by blind shareholders/investors are only interested in increasing profits, which is now achieved by investing in automation and robotics rather than employing pesky salaried workers. Thus the buying force disappears, and the consumer society caves in.

Paul Tarsuss says:
December 31, 2014 at 12:03 am
‘When you see total corruption come to power, know that I am nigh at the door’ – Jesus Christ



Blessings All, in Jesus Christ

robinsoncaruso1 says:
December 31, 2014 at 12:05 am
Mahalo again bro. always enjoy your intellect.

enlitnd1 says:
December 31, 2014 at 1:29 am
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
What laws are the supreme law of the land?
Those made in PURSUANCE of the Constitution. To pursue means to follow. That restricts legislation to those enumerated powers found within article1, section 8 of the Constitution.
Which treaties shall be the supreme law of the land?
Those treaties made under the authority of the united States.
What is the authority of the united States?
The enumerated powers found in article1, section 8 of the Constitution.

seamlessone says:
December 31, 2014 at 4:43 am
Authority is irrelevant without force. Try to “enforce” the constitution and it quickly becomes clear that ‘enforcement force’ is lacking. When your unalienable rights are being trampled on, who are you going to call? The police? A lawyer? Your Senator? Sure. What agency is going to protect your unalienable rights? The very idea of unalienable rights is a joke nowadays, and most people are clueless as to what that phrase even means, ie to what it points.

Unalienable rights(Natural Law) is the Supreme Law of the Land and it existed long before the Bill of Rights. Billions of years before! Its scope is far beyond the Bill of Rights. Frankly, Natural Law didn’t ever need the protection of the Founding Fathers to begin with, and still doesn’t to this day. People mistakenly equate a support for the Bill of Rights with a kind of support for our Unalienable Rights. Unalienable rights do not need the protection from a Bill of Rights, and as history has shown, the mob doesn’t care about Bills of Rights and when they have sufficient force to trample such Bills (without consequence) they will.

calusirius says:
December 31, 2014 at 1:38 pm
“When your unalienable rights are being trampled on, who are you going to call?”


“WE…” are the militia of the several states. Those who serve within our governments were forbidden to create law enforcement – federal and state. They were required to use us, as the Militia which is why the congress can call us, as the trained Militia, out, and the president THEN becomes the Commander in Chief. Then if needed a military is formed, usually form the ranks of the Militia. It is why the Governor can call them out when needed for the state.

Tench Coxe: “Who are the militia? are they not ourselves. Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American…The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.”

Richard Henry Lee: “A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves …”

Samuel Adams: “It is always dangerous to the liberties of the people to have an army stationed among them, over which they have no control … The Militia is composed of free Citizens. There is therefore no danger of their making use of their Power to the destruction of their own Rights, or suffering others to invade them..”

George Mason, Co-author of the Second Amendment: “I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few public officials. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.”

Samuel Adams: “Under every government the last resort of the people, is an appeal to the sword; whether to defend themselves against the open attacks of a foreign enemy, or to check the insidious encroachments of domestic foes. Whenever a people … entrust the defence of their country to a regular, standing army, composed of mercenaries, the power of that country will remain under the direction of the most wealthy citizens.
And that the said Constitution be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press, or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms; or to raise standing armies, unless necessary for the defense of the United States, or of some one or more of them; or to prevent the people from petitioning, in a peaceable and orderly manner, the federal legislature, for a redress of grievances; or to subject the people to unreasonable searches and seizures of their persons, papers or possessions”.

Patrick Henry: “If you have given up your militia, and Congress shall refuse to arm them, you have lost every thing. Your existence will be precarious, because you depend on others, whose interests are not affected by your infelicity.”

Even George Washington believed that we should have our own sources of military arms just in case.

George Washington: “A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies.”

Defiant says:
December 31, 2014 at 10:57 am
I sometimes…often…disagree with you…but today you’re RIGHT ON THE MONEY!

Andrewjohn says:
December 31, 2014 at 11:06 am
The US Constitution in and of itself is a sham and a snare and one’s belief in this phony document ultimately leads to damnation and I’ll explain why.

There are two frames for instituting Law. By the Church and State or separate of the Church and State. The key question everyone has on their mind or should have on their mind is Church? Which Church then?? The Church founded by Jesus Christ. The Catholic Church of the One Great Faith! And that Faith is Catholicism….and headed by the Church at Rome, therefore Roman Catholicism.

What people fail to realize and understand is that the movement of one heretical and demonic man known as Martin Luther failed miserably at his calling which he chose when he entered a German Monestary. Needless to say , Luther didn’t like it. So he pinned his 95 thesis to the door of the monastery on All Hallow’s Eve in 1517. All Hallow’s Eve is traditionally known as Halloween and it is the day before All Saint’s Day which is a Feast day in Roman Catholicism honoring the Saints who’ve been Canonized.

Many expert Catholic Theologians agree that in 1517 Christendom began its gradual downward slid and the Apostacy age began. This was an epic notable mark within the Church Age which Jesus Christ Himself said that His Kingdom would reign for a 1000 years. It is understood that the Christiandom clock started when the Roman Empire was the first country in Europe to recognize Catholicism as a legal right and was granted total state protection. This was accomplished under Constatine in 330AD or there abouts. Before this however, Christendom made a strong impression on Europe when a little farm girl who became known as Jone of Arc lead her fellow Frence Countrymen against the wicked rebels of… guess who boys & girls??? That’s right children, Bloody England! When England was Catholic it was known as Mary ( Merry ) England. But with its bellicose attitude and complete disregard for human rights and equal privileges for those who sought the benefits of hard work, family, liberty, and property rights, English evil government was a complete opposite. The tyrants reap what people have sown unto themselves.

In 1717 Heretic and Tyrant Henry VIII broke away from the Roman Catholic Church and was excommunicated because of an issue with his first wife whom he murdered because she couldn’t bear him a son. Prior, he sought a divorce which the church refused to grant him an annulment.

So the Demonic church of England was formed by the head demon himself. At this point, all I will indicated is that England has been the world’s cancer and has been for a very long time. Even as far back as the 1200’s with England constantly picking fights with Scotland and Ireland. This country of murders and thieves i.e. England is what needs to be examined for centuries of human rights crimes and it’s no plainer that that.

The lesson is that the United States Inc. is a clone of England and do keep in mind that it was England that created the movement for the criminal zionist state of Israelhel and thus the Bolshivik Revolution. It was England along with their Traitorus henchmen of Scotland who opposed Roman Catholicism and brought about the Illuminati i.e. the York and Scottish Rites of the Masons. Behind the scene were the Bloshivk jews of Russia. Keep in mind that the plan for the Russian revolt was hatched out of York! New York that is.

The framers of the US Constitution and including george washington were nothing but a bunch of murdering marauders with a human rights crimes sheet that stretches for miles. They were not Christian of the Catholic sect so they were heretics. The form of government they brought to America was De Facto meaning by force and not justice. Compared to De Jure law which has as it’s Ministers people of Lord God’s will which Lord God Himself considered all his work good!

Without the True Church restored in Holy union with the State you will have nothing but Zionist agony til the end of days. And by De Jure law it is up to every capable Man to make that restoration occur.

Michael Burns says:
January 1, 2015 at 3:51 pm
By Pope Francis estimation there are 8000 paedophile priests of a clergy of 414,000…
what he failed to mention is how many cardinals and popes are/were paedophiles.
The priesthood has always been a perfect hideout for these sick individuals.
Personally I am not ready for that many paedophiles in government. But of course we have had megalomaniac, sadomasochism, psychopaths, liars, sodomites, xenophobes…might as well add pedophilia to the mix.


calusirius says:
December 31, 2014 at 1:02 pm
First, it is the US Constitution AND ALL THAT IS “IN PURSUANCE THEREOF” it that is supreme, not the people who serve within the federal or state governments. Where it it does not conflict with the states or where it is not expressly stated within the US Constitution or in the state-that -you-are-located-in’s Constitution then it is up to the people themselves.

More then that, the duties of those who serve within the federal government are separated into 3 branches, each with authority over different and listed things with very few LISTED where 2 branches share the authority – which is the only time they can share it.

What our problem is today is that many federal agencies are under the executive branch, but are using the authority (powers) of the other two branches which is forbidden to them. The executive branch executes the laws made by those we put into office. Those legislators are NOT allowed to hand those decisions to any agencies assisting them. Nor can they pass their authority to another branch.

Basically, none of those agencies have any legitimate authority for what they do. Why? Because they blend all three branches powers into one agency, usually under the executive branch. They create the law or regulation (legislative), they decide if you are guilty of breaking it (judicial duty with a jury of ones peers), and then they enforce it (executive branch). That breaks completely the separation of powers required by the US Constitution.

As Dr. Edwin Vieira: “This has nothing to do with personalities or subjective ideas. It’s a matter of what the Constitution provides…

The government of the United States has never violated anyone’s constitutional rights…
The government of the United States will never violate anyone constitutional rights, because it cannot violate anyone’s constitutional rights. The reason for that is: The government of the United States is that set of actions by public officials that are consistent with the Constitution. Outside of its constitutional powers, the government of the United States has no legitimacy. It has no authority; and, it really even has no existence. It is what lawyers call a legal fiction.

… the famous case Norton v. Shelby County… The Court said: “An unconstitutional act is not a law; it confers no rights; it imposes no duties. It is, in legal contemplation, as inoperative as though it had never been passed.”

And that applies to any (and all) governmental action outside of the Constitution…”
What are the defining characteristics of a limited government? They are its disabilities; what it does not have legal authority to do. Look at the First Amendment… What does it do? It guarantees freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of religion. But how does it do that? I quote: “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech or of the press” etcetera. “Congress shall make no law;” that’s a statement of an absence of power. That’s a statement of a disability…

How do you define, or how would you characterize, a government resting in the unrestrained will of Congress, or any other political body? It is by definition a totalitarian government…

Well, Americans would have had to understand and enforce their Constitution. You notice I say Americans, not the Congress or the Supreme Court, because who is the final arbiter of this document? [holding a copy of the Constitution] It is not Congress, and it is not the Supreme Court. It is “we the people.” Read the thing. How does it start? “We the people do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States”; not “we the politicians,” not “we the judges.” Those people are the agents of the people. We the people are the principals.
The doctrine is very clear that, being the principals, we are the Constitution’s ultimate interpreters and enforcers. You don’t have to take my word for it. Let’s go back to the Founding Fathers…
The Founding Fathers were profound students of law and political philosophy, their knowledge unequaled by any today. Their mentor in that era was William Blackstone, who wrote Blackstone’s Commentaries, probably the most widely read legal treatise of its time, certainly here in the United States. What did Blackstone write about this subject? He wrote, “Whenever a question arises between the society at large and any magistrate vested with powers originally delegated by that society, it must be decided by the voice of the society itself; there is not upon earth any other tribunal to resort to.”
We the people are the Constitution’s ultimate interpreters. (Dr. Edwin Vieira, http://www.constitution.org/mon/vieira_03225.htm )

James Madison : “Because if . . . [An Unalienable Natural Right of Free Men] . . . be exempt from the authority of the Society at large, still less can it be subject to that of the Legislative Body. The latter are but the creatures and vicegerents of the former. Their jurisdiction is both derivative and limited: It is limited with regard to the coordinate departments, more necessarily is it limited with regard to the constituents. The preservation of a free Government requires, not merely, that the metes and bounds which separate each department of power be invariably maintained: but more especially that neither of them be suffered to overleap the greater Barrier which defends the rights of the people. The Rulers who are guilty of such an encroachment, exceed the commission from which they derive their authority, and are Tyrants. The people who submit to it are governed by laws made neither by themselves nor by an authority derived from them, and are Slaves”

The answer is easy, know the US Constitution. Enforce it as the Militia of the several states since they are the ONLY constitutionally assigned force with the constitutionally assigned duties to:
– Enforce the US Constitution and each state’s Constitution,
– Enforce and keep the “Laws of the Union” (which are constitutional laws ONLY),
– Protect the country against all enemies both domestic and foreign, and
– “to suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions”.

Thomas Jefferson: “The government created by this compact (the Constitution) was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers; but that, as in all other cases of compact among powers having no common judge, each party (the people of each state) has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress.”

Alexander Hamilton: “Every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid. To deny this, would be to affirm, that the deputy is greater than his principal; that the servant is above his master; that the representatives of the people are superior to the people themselves; that men acting by virtue of powers, may do not only what their powers do not authorize, but what they forbid.”

James Madison, Federalist 46, 315-23: “The Foederal and State Governments are in fact but different agents and trustees of the people, instituted with different powers, and designated for different purposes… They must be told that the ultimate authority, wherever the derivative may be found, resides in the people alone; and that it will not depend merely on the comparative ambition or address of the different governments, whether either, or which of them, will be able to enlarge its sphere of jurisdiction at the expence of the other. Truth no less than decency requires, that the event in every case, should be supposed to depend on the sentiments and sanction of their common constituents.”

James Madison: “The ultimate authority resides in the people, and that if the federal government got too powerful and overstepped its authority, then the people would develop plans of resistance and resort to arms.”

Federalist 57, James Madison wrote that Congress “can make no law which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as on the great mass of the society.”

Madison, Federalist 39: “Each State, in ratifying the Constitution, is considered as a sovereign body, independent of all others, and only to be bound by its own voluntary act. In this relation, then, the new Constitution will, if established, be a FEDERAL, and not a NATIONAL constitution.”
Alexander Hamilton: “Until the people have, by some solemn and authoritative act, annulled or changed the established form, it is binding upon themselves collectively, as well as individually; and no presumption, or even knowledge, of their sentiments, can warrant their representatives in a departure from it, prior to such an act.” (It was established!)

28 C.F.R. Section 0.85 Terrorism is defined as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives”.

Amaterasu Solar says:
December 31, 2014 at 1:16 pm
Considering that We have had, since 1871, a (foreign owned) corporation masquerading as [redface]ur” governMENT (controlMIND), that has a corporate structure that reads mostly like the original constitution (but that the phrase “for the united states of America” was changed to “of THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”), and without the Bill of Rights – from which We get the powers reserved to Us in the 10th amendment – We can see why this corporation does what it does with impunity. The original government stands vacant, and the Bill of Rights moot.

Corporate “law” states that profit is the prime purpose of all corporations. Not the good of the People.

A solution to this is to make corporations moot. And to set up governANCE that promotes the PRINCIPLES We are told this country stands for: Individual freedom, pursuit of happiness, and the ability for All to create as They choose within Ethics.

My work is geared to that end and I share again, for the reader, the solution which will provide Us with true freedom while making all corporations moot:

T.A.P. – You’re It!


“Revolution in ideas, not blood.”


“Did You give an oath and find it’s bait and switch? Well, there is no oath then, is there?”
“ALL money systems promote the most psychopathic to the top of the money/power heap – THEY will do ANYTHING to get there.”
“The love of money is the root of all evil; remove the soil in which the root grows…”
“If the universe is made of mostly “dark” energy…can We use it to run Our cars?”
“If You want peace, take the PROFIT out of war.”

Colin Greenlaw says:
January 1, 2015 at 4:29 pm
Yes, Jon, the very “origin of laws” – the Source of our being, who founded the very principle of law and enunciated ten basic precepts that should underlie every humane and protective enactment. The government (national, corporate, or individual) which by proclamation or legislation violates those principles, is by nature in defiance of not only those immutable laws, but undermines its own sustainability and will ultimately self-destruct. The Eternal is above and beyond the impudence and insolence of mortal man, not only in power and intellect, but by virtue of patience and humility to extend the offering of repentance and redemption for all humankind to the designated higher state.

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Ex-corporal cops plea in DEA agent assassination plot

January 13, 2015 | 8:38pm
Ex-corporal cops plea in DEA agent assassination plot

A former German corporal who authorities say is a deadly sniper copped a plea Tuesday to being part of a squadron of elite ex-military personnel that plotted to assassinate a federal DEA agent.
Dennis “Nico” Gogel pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to conspiring to murder the agent and a confidential informant in Liberia for a $800,000 payday.
Gogel – who faces a likely sentence of up to 28 years in prison under his deal with the feds — also confessed to other crimes including attempting to import cocaine and possessing machine guns with silencers and other firearms. He had faced life in prison prior to copping a plea.
Led by Former US Army Sgt. Joseph “Rambo” Hunter, the international crew of veteran snipers and ex-counter-intelligence officers formed a security detail and hit squad for a supposed crew of heavyweight Colombian drug smugglers, who were working with authorities, the feds said.
The bloody band of brothers also included former US Army Sgt. Timothy Vamvakias, former Polish counter-terrorism expert Slawomir Soboros
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