Tracking The NSA’s Spy Career; PRISM Reveals All; Obama Says We’ve All Got Trust Issues; TGIF! – Personal Liberty Digest™ P.M. Edition 6-7-2013

Brush up on the day’s headlines with Personal Liberty’s P.M. Edition news links.

The NSA’s Secret PRISM Program Uncovered – And It Shatters The Myth Of Internet Anonymity

British newspaper The Guardian introduced the world to the U.S. government’s secret program of direct data mining Friday, and the scope of its operation is mind blowing. Read more…

A Handy Timeline Of NSA’s Encroachment Into Americans’ Private Lives

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has compiled an extensive timeline of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) progressive intrusion into the private lives of American citizens, dating back to the agency’s creation in 1952. Read more…

Obama: Trust The Government

During a speech Friday President Barack Obama attempted to justify the government’s massive collection of American phone records. His message: Trust us, we’re from the government. Read more…

TGIF: 3 Obama Scandal Memes To Kick Off The Weekend On A Lighter Note

The headline says it all. Read more…

The NSA’s Secret PRISM Program Uncovered – And It Shatters The Myth Of Internet Anonymity

British newspaper The Guardian introduced the world to the U.S. government’s secret program of direct data mining Friday, and the scope of its operation is mind blowing.

Instituted by the National Security Agency (NSA) under President George W. Bush, PRISM literally grants the government direct access to everything that comes into, or leaves, servers at Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, Skype, AOL and other U.S.-based internet sites that handle user data.

How? By legally forcing the companies to comply with the NSA’s surveillance demands by allowing the government direct access to whatever data – be it searches or search histories, emails, transfers of photos and video, live chats, metadata, social media profiles and pretty much anything else that can be transmitted over the internet:

The PRISM program allows the NSA, the world’s largest surveillance organisation, to obtain targeted communications without having to request them from the service providers and without having to obtain individual court orders.

With this program, the NSA is able to reach directly into the servers of the participating companies and obtain both stored communications as well as perform real-time collection on targeted users.

… Companies are legally obliged to comply with requests for users’ communications under US law, but the PRISM program allows the intelligence services direct access to the companies’ servers. The NSA document notes the operations have “assistance of communications providers in the US.”

The genius of the program is that the companies aren’t allowed to talk about or even acknowledge that they know about PRISM. And, ever since the program was exposed early Friday, denying PRISM’s existence is exactly what they’ve done.

It’s easy to see, now, what will preoccupy the manpower and resources of the NSA’s new data center in Utah. 

A Handy Timeline Of NSA’s Encroachment Into Americans’ Private Lives

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has compiled an extensive timeline of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) progressive intrusion into the private lives of American citizens, dating back to the agency’s creation in 1952.

The EFF, which seeks to defeat illegal governmental surveillance and litigates against the state to establish precedents that favor citizens’ Constitutional rights, explains on its website that the need for vigilance against a government that indiscriminately spies on its own people has never been more urgent:

The US government, with assistance from major telecommunications carriers including AT&T, has engaged in a massive program of illegal dragnet surveillance of domestic communications and communications records of millions of ordinary Americans since at least 2001.

Respect for individuals’ autonomy, anonymous speech, and the right to free association must be balanced against legitimate concerns like law enforcement. National governments must put legal checks in place to prevent abuse of state powers, and international bodies need to consider how a changing technological environment shapes security agencies’ best practices.

Check out the full timeline here.

Petraeus At Bilderberg; Unemployment Up ; China Building Bigger, Better ‘Panama’ Canal; NYT Can’t Hate BO; Getting’ Down To Gitmo — Friday Morning News Roundup 6-7-2013

Here is a collection of some of the stories that Personal Liberty staffers will be keeping an eye on throughout the day. Click the links for the full stories.

 

  • Disgraced Former CIA Director David Petraeus is attending this year’s Bilderberg Group meeting, evidently to offer input on how the expansion of surveillance capabilities can be harnessed and coordinated by governments partnering with the private sector.

 

  • Nicaragua has agreed to a 100-year concession with a Chinese company to build an alternative to the Panama Canal. The project is expected to cost $40 billion, and will track a channel through Lake Nicaragua to create a channel wider and deeper than the Panama Canal, which itself is currently being widened.

 

  • The national unemployment rate went up in May from 7.5 to 7.6 percent, despite Department of Labor statistics that showed jobs increased slightly more than expected. Most of the new jobs are coming from temporary help agencies and food service.

 

  • The New York Times quietly revised language in an editorial Thursday condemning President Barack Obama’s Administration for collecting Americans’ phone call data in order to tone down the harshness in the originally-published piece.

 

  • Elderly Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) are joining White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on a trip Friday to Guantanamo Bay prison.

 

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook. And follow our improved Twitter feed.

Who’s Breaking News On White House Scandals? Not The Mainstream Media

So now the National Security Administration’s (NSA) long-running practice of collecting phone metadata on just about everyone has come to light. Who broke that story? Was it CBS? ABC? Was it even Fox News?

It was Glenn Greenwald writing for the UK paper The Guardian.

As Breitbart pointed out Thursday, almost no mainstream media in the U.S. has been in front of any of the many, many scandals that have emerged in the early sledding of President Barack Obama’s second term.

With the exception of some dogged reporters who’ve essentially had to go rogue within their own organizations in order to delve into the Benghazi scandal (like CBS’ Sharyl Atkisson and CNN’s Jake tapper) – and been persecuted by their own employers as a thank-you – there’s been precious little issues-based reporting, and a truckload of damage control, emanating from the American mainstream press over the IRS scandal; the AP scandal; Benghazi and now Verizon.

Leaks, scoops and whistle-blowing on all these scandals have come either from within (as in the case of the IRS), from members of Congress who realize how subservient the Legislative branch is becoming to the Executive branch (as in the case of Benghazi) – or from newsgathering outfits that lie well outside the American mainstream (as in the case of Verizon).

“Well, if it is Thursday, there must be a new Obama scandal,” writes John Nolte. “But one thing is for damn sure, whatever that scandal is, you can bet the American mainstream media will be playing catch up and not carrying the glory of breaking a story…”

Fact: Over the past few weeks, four major scandals have broken over the Obama administration, and it is a very sad (and frightening) truth that our pathetic, American, lapdog mainstream media is not responsible for breaking even a single one.

… And do you want to know what makes this realization especially pathetic? In three of the four scandals (the AP being the exception), had our media been less interested in protecting Power and more interested in holding Power accountable, these huge, career-making stories were right there for their taking.

Contrast that with the George W. Bush Administration (which opened the door of expanded executive surveillance power that Obama is now exploiting), when the White House Press Corps relentlessly dogged the President and his cabinet at every turn.

“[A]t least Power knew it was being watched,” observes Nolte. “Today, it is the complete opposite and the result is an administration run amok.”

Members Of Congress Got $238k In Welfare Last Year Thanks To Farm Bill

Four U.S. Senators and 11 House Representative were among the beneficiaries of taxpayer-funded farm subsidies last year, according to information compiled by Environmental Working Group (EWG), a health and environmental nonprofit.

The $237,921 the Congressmen received represents a drop in the $20 billion-per-year ocean of Farm Bill direct-subsidy money. A product of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Depression-era government expansion, the omnibus piece of budgeting and entitlement legislation now not only pays subsidies to farmers, but also dictates National food policy for both production and consumption, and funds the ever-swelling SNAP food stamp program.

In short, the Farm Bill is an entitlement monster. In socially conservative, rural States, a lot of sworn Republicans’ staunch talk about smaller government and ending welfare melts away to the loudest of Liberal bellyaching when talk of trimming, or ending, the Farm Bill comes up. Being against agricultural subsidies and the lobbying interests that back the farming business is a sure way to be a one-term Legislator in districts dominated by agriculture.

In the case of farmer’s subsidies, you don’t have to be out on the land to qualify. I’ve you’ve got any skin in the farming game at all —  no matter how tenuous the connection — you may qualify. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, for example, owned 16 percent of Racota Valley Ranch until 2008. She received more than $500,000 in subsidies between 1995 and 2012.

President Jimmy Carter’s farm has received $272,000 in subsidies over the same period — and although he arguably has more skin in the game than many of the Congressmen on the list, he’s also a wealthy former U.S. President who doesn’t exactly fit the profile of a needy farmer reaching out for a helping hand.

Politicians make easy targets, but the unchecked largesse of the Farm Bill knows no favorites. People like Ted Turner and Larry Flynt also have received farmers’ “welfare” payouts. Small farmers often receive subsidies to prevent them from cultivating certain crops.

Some subsidies are even given to individuals and companies that have absolutely nothing to do with agriculture. Food conglomerates and liquor distillers are only two examples.

Farm subsidies are just another example of the redistribution of wealth. Just another example of the federal government stealing money from one group of people and giving it to another. Just another example of crony capitalism.

The federal government would have you believe that these farm subsidies are meant to give assistance to small farmers when in reality, most of the money is given to larger farms, which of course, not only does not assist small farmers, but increases their chance of going out of business because of larger farms cornering certain markets. Additionally, some of the large dairy producers that are heavily subsidized have convinced the federal government to prohibit the sale of raw milk, continuing the trend of trying to put the little guys out of business and flooding the market with heavily pasteurized and potentially dangerous dairy products.

For a full list of Congressmen who received subsidies last year, check out the EWG study, or read an expanded article at CNS News.

President Stiffs A Whole Town, Rand Stands For 4th Amendment, House Leashes DHS On Ammo, Pelosi Lauds ‘Liberating’ Obamacare, Monsanto’s Been Punked? – Personal Liberty Digest™ P.M. Edition 6-6-2013

Brush up on the day’s headlines with Personal Liberty’s P.M. Edition news links.

California Town Goes After President For $8,000 Security Bill

Atherton, the California town where a private April fundraising visit from President Barack Obama rankled local leaders saddled with the cost of extra security, is stepping up its efforts to recoup the money so that the town’s taxpayers don’t have to foot the bill. Read more…

Rand Paul Bill Would Strengthen 4th Amendment

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), in light of recent government spying scandals, will introduce legislation to strengthen Americans’ 4th Amendment protections against privacy intrusions. Read More…

House Lawmakers Want To Know Why DHS Needs All That Ammo

House lawmakers voted this week to disallow the Department of Homeland Security to enter new contracts for the purchase of millions of rounds of ammunition until DHS can explain to Congress why it needs so much ammo, and how much it is costing American taxpayers. Read more…

Pelosi: Mandatory Healthcare ‘Liberating,’ Think Of All The Wannabe Writers, Photographers

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wants Americans to feel better about Obamacare, but she has a strange way of explaining how the “exciting enterprise” will benefit the populace. Read More…

Monsanto Blames GMO-Tainted U.S. Wheat On Sabotage

Agricultural giant Monsanto is partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to determine how an experimental strain of wheat engineered to be resistant to herbicide ended up in cultivation in an Oregon field. The company is distancing itself from accountability, but isn’t ruling out sabotage. Read more…

Monsanto Blames GMO-Tainted U.S. Wheat On Sabotage

Agricultural giant Monsanto is partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to determine how an experimental strain of wheat engineered to be resistant to herbicide ended up in cultivation in an Oregon field.

Monsanto is distancing itself from accountability, but isn’t ruling out the idea that someone else may have maliciously planted the company’s experimental “Roundup Ready” wheat – which hasn’t been in testing since 2005 – in an attempt to disrupt the market.

The Following the USDA’s revelation of the discovery last week, Japan and South Korea suspended some U.S. wheat purchases. One U.S. wheat farmer has also filed a Federal lawsuit, alleging Monsanto has harmed the market for his crop.

Monsanto technology officer Robb Fraley told reporters the Oregon wheat “seems likely to be a random, isolated occurrence more consistent with the accidental or purposeful mixing of a small amount of seed during the planting, harvesting or during the fallow cycle in an individual field,” and that sabotage “is certainly one of the options we are looking at.”

California Town Goes After President For $8,000 Security Bill

Atherton, the California town where a private April fundraising visit from President Barack Obama rankled local leaders saddled with the cost of extra security, is stepping up its efforts to recoup the money so that the town’s taxpayers don’t have to foot the bill.

The town may even go so far as to place a lien against two local homeowners who feted Obama as part of a fundraising tour on behalf of the Democratic National Committee. Obama attended a total of four fundraisers but made no public appearances during the Bay-Area trip, which lasted less than 24 hours.

According to CBS San Francisco, Atherton’s town manager believes the President, the Secret Service, the DNC or the homeowners – anyone, in fact, except the town’s taxpayers – should cough up the $8,000 required to provide extra security and cleanup necessitated by having the leader of the free world drop by for a private money grab which helped Democrats raise more than $3 million.

“If the town incurs a cost that rightly should belong to somebody else, we’re going to pursue that,” said George Rodericks. “We could follow a lien process of some kind, hold a public hearing, invite them to come, process it as a lien against their property and collect it via the property tax.”

“If we were to hold, say, a wedding here, and have to close off streets, we would expect the people that were hosting the wedding to pay it and I think the taxpayers would also ask for that,” said Councilman Bill Widmer.

Disabled Woman Attacked By Cop Calls 911 For Help

A Hearing-impaired Washington woman who was pulled over for allegedly using her cell phone while driving had a difficult time explaining to the officer that she couldn’t understand his commands.

Part of the reason for that, it seems, was that the cop didn’t bother listening to 36 year-old Megan Graham, who also suffers from a cognitive disorder, as she tried to tell him that she is disabled.

According to Graham, she got out of her car at her destination – the apartment of a friend whose pet she was caring for – and suddenly realized that a police cruiser was pulled in behind her car with its lights flashing. So she approached Federal Way, Wash. police officer Justin Anholt, who hadn’t yet left the seat of his police cruiser and was barking orders from inside the vehicle.

What she didn’t know was that Anholt was telling her to get back into her car. Being hearing impaired and all, she kept approaching him to explain her disabilities. The cop was having none of it, allegedly grabbing Graham’s wrist and pulling it behind her.

“I pulled my arm back, grabbed my phone and called 911 to call for help,” she told KIRO TV. “I told the officer I had mental and hearing disabilities, and didn’t understand why he was trying to hurt me.”

The recording of the 911 call indeed reveals Graham telling the officer, “You attacked me before you said anything! There is no point whatsoever for you to touch me like that, especially with my condition, so how dare you even touch me?”

As that was going on, with Graham still on the phone with the 911 dispatcher, another unnamed cop responding to the call escalated things by punching Graham several times in the face. Graham was left with a black eye and some very nasty bruises on the left side of her face.

Police have charged her with felony assault to a police officer.

“That woman was not resisting, I saw it,” said Graham’s friend Deborah Fenwick, who witnessed the encounter. “That woman doesn’t have a violent bone in her body. She’s got a heart of gold. If she would have understood the officer’s commands in the first place, she would have absolutely complied with him.”