‘Judge Shopping’ AG Holder Spurned By Two Judges Before Third Granted Secret Subpoena Warrant

When U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder decided to unleash the hounds on FOX News reporter James Rosen, he had Ronald Machen, U.S. Attorney for Washington, D.C., go looking for a court order to obtain a warrant that would allow the Department of Justice to subpoena Rosen’s communications without the reporter or his employer ever knowing about it.

Machen was shot down by Judge John M. Facciola, who noted “[T]he subscriber therefore will never know, by being provided a copy of the warrant, for example, that the government secured a warrant and searched the contents of her email account.”

All the DOJ had to do to get the warrant approved was to let the subject — in this case, Rosen — know that a warrant to subpoena his communications records was being served. But then, that wouldn’t have been much of a secret, and the DOJ would have lost its ability to indefinitely monitor Rosen’s records without detection.

So the DOJ went judge shopping, according to an investigation by Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker. Even though two judges had ruled a secret subpoena wasn’t legal, Machen appealed and got Royce C. Lamberth, chief judge in Federal District Court for Washington, D.C., to reverse those decisions.

Incidentally, Lamberth apologized last week for not making records of the Court’s communication with the DOJ public for a full 18 months — an apology that, of course, came only after the Rosen scandal had broken.

At any rate, how can the DOJ, which answers to President Barack Obama, claim it knew of nothing out of the ordinary in the Rosen case? It had to go to extraordinary measures to get the legal permission it needed to monitor a reporter without his knowledge and without a window of time to limit the reach of the secret investigation.

House Judiciary Committee Investigates Whether AG Holder Lied Under Oath

The Hill is reporting that the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee is investigating testimony Attorney General Eric gave May 15 concerning his Department’s role in the Associated Press secret surveillance scandal.

Specifically, the committee is looking into the veracity of Holder’s claim, under oath, that he’s “never been involved in, heard of, or would think would be a wise policy” for the Department of Justice to target any member of the press who refuses to disclose sources.

But the report notes:

However, NBC News reported last week that Holder personally approved a search warrant that labeled Fox News chief Washington correspondent James Rosen a co-conspirator in a national security leaks case.

The panel is investigating whether NBC’s report contradicts Holder’s claim that he had not looked into or been involved with a possible prosecution of the press in a leaks case.

Interestingly, news of the DOJ’s targeting of Rosen (and even his parents) hadn’t broken at the time Holder gave his AP testimony, highlighting another seemingly recurring characteristic of the Administration of President Barack Obama: the time to be sorry about lying to cover your tracks should come only once you get caught doing it.

IRS Attack Ads, Russia Arms Syria For Peace, Texas Slashes Business Taxes, D.C. Scamming Motorists, Drones In Deutschland, Fear The Chair: Tuesday Morning News Roundup 5-28-2013

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.

  • A group of House Republicans is prepared to launch an ad campaign against four incumbent Democrats this week tying the lawmakers to the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups applying for nonprofit status.
  • Russia is going to deliver anti-aircraft missiles to the Syrian government in order to deter “hotheads” from getting involved in the country’s civil war.
  • Look out, liberals. Texas, already the Nation’s strongest State economy, just made it easier for businesses to profit in the Lone Star State. The Legislature passed more than $1 billion in tax cuts before recessing for the summer.
  • “Three golden miles” in Washington, D.C., have reaped the city an average of $30,500 per day in speeding and red light camera fines — $28 million since the start of 2011. The “offenders” are mostly unsuspecting motorists from Maryland and Virginia. New York Avenue is the hot spot, so beware.
  • A German railway is set to roll out miniature drones at night in order to catch people defacing trains with graffiti.
  • Doctors at the University of California at Los Angeles and Ohio State are launching a big PR campaign to declare war on… sitting down. “Sitting is the new smoking,” says Anup Kanodia of Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center.

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

–Staff writer Sam Rolley contributed to this report.

Patient Consent At Risk As Genome Sequencing Breakthroughs Divide Medical Community

A forthcoming report in Science magazine argues that patient consent and confidentiality are under fire, after the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) recently adjusted its formal recommendations to doctors that, for the most part, now leave the patient out of the decision-making process over how much data researchers can mine from their unique genetic codes.

According to a summary prepared in advance of the report:

Informed consent is the backbone of patient care. Genetic testing has long required patient consent and patients have had a “right not to know” the results. However, as 21st century medicine now begins to use the tools of genome sequencing, an enormous debate has erupted over whether patients’ rights will continue in an era of medical genomics.

Recent recommendations from the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) suggest no. On March 22, the ACMG released recommendations stating that when clinical sequencing is undertaken for any medical reason, laboratories must examine 57 other specific genes to look for incidental findings. These findings must then be reported to the clinician and the patient. In an April 25 “clarification,” ACMG said that failure to report these findings would be considered “unethical.” The patient has no opportunity to opt-out of the testing of the 57 genes, except to decline all sequencing. The recommendations also apply to children.

The study, a joint effort by Susan M. Wolf of the University of Minnesota, George J. Annas of Boston University and Sherman Elias of Northwestern University, argues that the all-or-nothing sequencing of a patient’s genetic code would be beneficial, if only the patient could have a say over the “all-or-nothing” part.

“The ACMG’s ‘minimum list [of 57 genes]‘ includes mutations in genes that patients have long been able to refuse testing for, including cancer risk mutations (such as BRCA1) and cardiovascular risk mutations,” the authors argue. But, they add, there are myriad practical, medical reasons — as well as principled ones — why the control over the reach of genetic sequencing — and the information it yields — should rest solely in patients’ hands.

The patient may already be battling another disease, such as advanced cancer, or be late in life and see more burden than benefit in added genetic information. The patient may also fear that ‘extra’ results in their medical record will invite risk of discrimination.

Ominously, the “minimum list” of 57 genes currently on the table for data mining is expected to grow significantly, according to the ACMG. That, the report warns, places even greater urgency upon lawmakers to craft new legislation, or enforce existing law, if applicable, that strongly favors patients’ rights.

Fitness Is Key To Preparedness

Preparedness is not just about what you can buy or grow, or what you can hoard. It’s not just about how many guns and rounds of ammo you’ve saved up, how finely tailored your bug-out bag is or how many weeks’ worth of food you’ve stored.

It’s about surviving. And if the day comes when you and the people around you can’t rely on technology and the sophisticated infrastructure that supplies the food and comfort to which we’ve become accustomed, you’ll have to rely on yourself — and that means work.

Hard work — a lot harder than most of us are used to — demands that you be in adequate physical shape.

Fitness is something many Americans tend to view as a consumer luxury. People buy gym memberships out of vanity, to socialize or to burn off steam. Often, those gym memberships are abandoned after the thrill of novelty wears off.

But whether you go to a gym, exercise at home or do something active outdoors, it’s important that you don’t neglect your own fitness — because it’s one of the most important parts of any survival strategy.

In fact, it’s arguable that sound physical fitness, anchored by a mind ready to adapt and to lead, is more important than any amount of anticipatory preparedness. What good is four weeks’ worth of freeze-dried food if you aren’t up the challenge of fighting off those who’d seek to take it from you?

You are at the center of whatever contingency plan you’ll enact if things in your world — locally, regionally or nationally — go bad. And that means that your body and mind will be more crucial than any amount of critical consumer goods to your, and your family’s, well-being or survival in the event of a catastrophe that forces a change in the way you live.

Most of us aren’t very physically fit. We live among the world’s most affluent Nations, and consumer culture — despite its benefits as a driver of civilized economic prosperity — has left most Americans bereft of any true understanding of the nasty, brutish and short quality of human life and the default competitiveness of human beings pitted against each other in the hope of acquiring the very finite resources necessary for survival.

That sounds a bit philosophical; and, in your otium, you can intellectually engage the human condition at your leisure. But if something happens that forces you and your family into a new mode of living — one that demands only the cultureless and the necessary, that has no place for leisure and its ephemera — you’re going to be living in a reality that never feels abstract. You’re going to have to be up to the task of coping.

If you’re serious about preparing for the worst, you have to maintain a body that affords you, perhaps literally, a fighting chance. If you’re currently free from chronic maladies, it’s especially crucial that you take seriously your role in whatever prepper plan you’re devising, because you are likely to be one of the linchpins of others’ fortunes. Children, the elderly, the ill, the weak and the physically compromised are not capable of what you’re capable of.

This isn’t a story about how to get in shape. People are physically different, and some bodies respond differently to different stimuli. There are a lot of ways to get in shape and stay that way; and there’s no shortage of good information, and opinions, on the topic. It’s important to note that you don’t have to spend any money or buy a ton of fancy equipment or join a health club to be physically fit — so long as you have the mental discipline to devise and follow an exercise routine. Your body, along with a sound understanding of how to condition it through applying different forms of physical stress, are all that’s required.

So if you’re out of shape and unable to physically defend yourself; walk a long distance and help others travel with you; row a boat; or take point on the cycle of gardening, constructing, all-hours watching, leading and even thinking (which itself exacts a physical, calorie-burning price) on your own — and others’ — behalf, it’s time to regard your body and your mind as the most essential and sacred components of any preparedness plan you’ll ever set in motion. There’s little point in building fences or learning tactical firearms defense if you’re unable to cover ground on your own two feet. Conflict inevitably will come to that, if, as they say, the SHTF.

Besides, being physically fit enriches your life in the here and now — regardless of whether you live to see the Apocalypse.

How do you and your family stay in shape? Let us know what works for you and what doesn’t. And be sure to share any stories about the simple, free and maybe even fun things you do that keep you and your loved ones physically fit.

Palin On Obama’s IRS Attack Dog: ‘Will We Stand For This?’

Sarah Palin has written a few guest columns for Breitbart, but Wednesday’s piece on what the Internal Revenue Service-Tea Party scandal means for every American is by far the best.

Palin talks about how, since the beginning of the Tea Party movement in 2006, Constitutional conservatives have successfully been marginalized in the press, despite the fact that the Administration of President Barack Obama evidently has considered the true conservative movement a far greater threat to his own agenda, and his political ambition, than he ever did mainstream establishment Republicans.

That’s evidenced, a companion story by Craig Shirley points out, by the fact that the IRS targeted only Tea Party-type nonprofits over at least the past two years, passing over run-of-the mill Republican groups — taking for granted  that establishment Republicans were never an impediment to liberalism under Obama:

The unspoken 600-pound gorilla in the room is that the IRS did not go after Republican Party groups. There has been some noise made in that direction, but it is just that — noise. The real IRS vendetta was aimed at the Tea Party movement and not at the myriad GOP inside-the-beltway groups like American Crossroads or Americans for Job Security or any of the other interlocking GOP seen as front groups for corporate America.

…The Republican Establishment is pea green with envy but also embarrassment “that the IRS did not think them worthy of harassing, or even worse, on the same side as the IRS. In other words, the IRS saw the GOP as too feckless to worry about. Either explanation is not very appealing for the national Republicans.”

Now, says Palin, more Americans are seeing the sinister side of enabling the IRS to enforce Obama’s social policies, exactly as the Tea Party called it, back when everyone thought small-government conservatives who bothered to organize were just a bunch of stone-throwing kooks:

Please remember that some of us warned America about the dangers of having the IRS play such a big role with the administration of Obamacare. We were laughed at and mocked relentlessly back then. It sure doesn’t seem funny now, does it?

This IRS scandal is especially terrible because Americans live in fear of the IRS like no other entity because this monstrous bureaucracy has the power to take your hard-earned money. Your wages are the sum of your labors; hence, the IRS has the power to steal the fruits of your labors. Average Americans live in fear of making an error on their tax returns that could cost them massive amounts of money, plus their reputation and good name.  If a small business makes a mistake, the IRS can shut them down and send them to jail.

The IRS has always been the face of intimidating and controlling big government. Now it’s the face of corrupt big government that actively attacks the people it is supposed to serve. This isn’t the change America was hoping for, Mr. President, but it certainly is transformative.

The collective disgust — and it’s coming, now, from true conservatives, liberals and everyone in between — over the ease with which a Presidential Administration can now wield aloof, dispassionate Federal agencies against the people should catalyze a majority against the Orwellian reality of big government power.

These Obama administration scandals are a sad and stark reminder that only limited government can ensure liberty. At our core, we Americans just want to be left alone to live freely, peacefully, and productively.

… It’s time for all Americans to stand together and join in the growing outraged chorus that looks at our out-of-control government and says, “Enough is enough!”

Read the full commentary at Breitbart and pass it along.

‘Budget Cuts’ Leave Attacked Oregon Woman Out Of Luck When She Calls 911

As an ex-boyfriend attempted to break into her home, allegedly intent on assaulting her both physically and sexually, an unidentified Oregon woman did what everybody’s instructed to do: She called 911.

A dispatcher answered. The woman described the situation, saying, “If he gets in the house, I’m done.”

That’s when the dispatcher advised her to… figure it all out herself.

“Uh, I don’t have anybody to send out there. You know, obviously, if he comes inside the residence and assaults you, can you ask him to go away? Do you know if he’s intoxicated or anything?”

What had actually happened, in the magic phone-land between the 911 call and someone picking up on the other end, was that the woman’s call had been rerouted from the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office to the Oregon State Police. That’s because there wasn’t anyone available at the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office to answer, after there had been layoffs that limited local police service only from Monday through Friday, during business hours. This assault occurred over the weekend, in the wee, pre-dawn Sunday morning hours in August 2012.

As the unidentified woman waited for the eventual intrusion, which ultimately culminated in Michael Bellah allegedly throttling the victim by the throat and sexually assaulting her, the dispatcher offered compassionate reassurance:

“It’s unfortunate you guys don’t have any law enforcement out there.”

Bellah was arrested by State police — after the incident, of course — on charges of kidnapping, sex abuse and assault. He pleaded guilty. His victim told the dispatcher, mid-assault, that Bellah had allegedly put her in the hospital once before, in a similar attack.

The Josephine County Sheriff’s Office let go of 23 deputies, along with its entire Major Crimes Unit, after it lost a major Federal timber subsidy, according to Oregon Public Radio. The U.S. government owns about 70 percent of the land in the county, and property owners have voted down ad valorem tax increases to fund public services. The sheriff’s department now operates with six deputies, who don’t patrol on weekends. It’s not known whether the victim had access to a firearm.

Sheriff Gil Gilbertson has advised residents who fear domestic assaults, which don’t routinely conform to business hours, to consider moving to an area where law enforcement can protect them around the clock.

The sheriff didn’t say anything about citizens arming themselves. Since protecting and serving in rural Oregon counties has become a carrot-and-stick game with Federal subsidies as the victory prize, it’s evidently more important than ever that citizens at least know they’re on their own when it comes to keeping themselves, and their loved ones, safe.

Oregon’s gun laws, for now, are closer to the spirit of the 2nd Amendment than those in many other States, although recent proposed legislation would place new restrictions on residents’ powers to own so-called assault weapons and limit magazine size to 10 rounds.

Cruz To RINO McCain: I Don’t Trust You, And I Don’t Trust Democrats

On April 26, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told a group of Tea Party supporters in his home State that his Republican colleagues in the Senate had acted like “a bunch of squishes” in cutting gun-control deals with aggressive Democrats ahead of the infamously ill-fated Manchin-Toomey gun control act.

Cruz, along with other libertarian-minded Congressmen like Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Justin Amash (R-Mich.), have been cultivating a reputation for standing on principle, even if it means alienating the party establishment.

But on Wednesday, Cruz took that fight away from friendly audiences and went straight to the Senate floor, sparring with Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) over what’s wrong with conservatives who strike liberally diluted devils’ bargains.

The topic was the Senate’s attempt to pass a budget — its first in four years. Led by McCain, moderate Republicans have been urging holdouts to go along with their Democratic colleagues and set up a budget conference committee to iron out differences between the Senate version of the budget and the one already passed by the House of Representatives.

Cruz and Paul, along with conservatives Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) are fine with that approach — if the conference committee can guarantee the budget won’t come back with a provision that raises the Federal debt ceiling, which Democrats, of course, favor.

“If we go to conference without the debt ceiling being taken off the plate, it is a 100 percent certainty that the debt ceiling will be raised,” said Cruz.

McCain knows this. Why else would he, essentially, ask Cruz and his cohort of real conservatives to just take the whole thing on faith? Here’s McCain’s attempt at shaming Cruz into gullibility from the Senate floor:

Let’s put some confidence in — if not in the conferees appointed here, but in the conferees who will be appointed on the other side of the Capitol, who are of our party, who are fiscal conservatives just like we are. Instead of blocking, what I assure my colleagues — all three of them here, that is a minority of the minority of Republicans in the United States Senate — that [the majority] wants to move forward with a budget, which we spent so many hours and so much effort in achieving.

McCain followed that up Wednesday by pretending to be baffled at the idea that principle can trump compromise. “Basically, here, what we’re saying on this side of the aisle is, we don’t trust our colleagues on the other side of the Capitol, who are in the majority,” he said.

Damn straight, said Cruz, whose Jiu-Jitsu retort from the Senate floor used McCain’s words to drive home his own point about the corruption and moral inertia plaguing the leadership of both parties:

The senior senator from Arizona urged this body to trust the Republicans. Let me be clear: I don’t trust the Republicans. And I don’t trust the Democrats. And I think a whole lot of Americans, likewise, don’t trust the Republicans and the Democrats because it is leadership in both parties that has gotten us into this mess.

Unfortunately, one of the reasons we got into this mess is because a lot of Republicans were complicit in this spending spree. And that’s why so many Americans are disgusted with both sides of this house. Because we need leaders on both sides…to roll up our sleeves, to compromise, to work together and fix the problem; fix the enormous fiscal and economic problems. Stop bankrupting our country.

And every Republican who stands against holding the line here is really saying, ‘Let’s give the Democrats a blank check to borrow any money they want with no reforms, no leadership to fix the problem.’”

McCain stopped short of calling Cruz a “wacko bird,” but he did describe the conservatives’ skepticism as “bizarre,” and he preened over his conservative pedigree — all while Senate Democrats reveled in the spectacle of Republicans feuding.

“I’ll match my record against anybody’s on debt and the deficit, and that includes the Senator from Florida [Rubio],” said McCain.

Obama Heckles Heckler, President’s Speech Transcribed, McCain And His Dem Friends, FBI Agents In Boston Arrests Die, Obamacare’s Skimpy Coverage: Afternoon News Links 5-23-2013

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

Obama To Gitmo Speech Heckler: ‘Part Of Free Speech Is…You Listening’

President Barack Obama had a hard time getting through parts of his foreign policy speech at the National Defense University Thursday, thanks to Medea Benjamin, co-founder of left-leaning, female anti-militarism group Code Pink. Read more…

Obama Speech Reveals Possible Foreign Policy Redirect—Transcript Provided

President Barack Obama delivered his first major speech on counterterrorism of his second term Thursday, claiming that he will restrict the use of unmanned drones and making other statements that—if true—represent a dramatic shift in the Administration’s foreign policy approach. Read the full transcript…

McCain Sides With Dems On Budget Debate

Senator John McCain criticized fellow Republicans this week, saying that GOP objections to moving forward with a budget — even one that increases the debt ceiling — could encumber future Republican initiatives. Read more…

Two FBI Agents In Boston Bomber Arrest Die In Fall From Helicopter Training Exercise

The FBI released a statement this week confirming the deaths of two FBI agents who specialized in elite counterterror operations and were involved in the arrest of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Read more…

To Avoid Obamacare Costs, Employers Preparing ‘Skinny’ Insurance Plans

In order to avoid having to pay penalties under Obamacare’s mandatory-coverage rule, many employers are readying a new, lower tier of “skinny” healthcare policies that will cover preventive care, but won’t pay for hospital stays. Read more…

To Avoid Obamacare Costs, Employers Preparing ‘Skinny’ Insurance Plans

In order to avoid having to pay penalties under Obamacare’s mandatory-coverage rule, many employers are readying a new, lower tier of “skinny” healthcare policies that will cover preventive care, but won’t pay for hospital stays.

Under Obamacare, employers who don’t provide employees minimum coverage can face a $2,000 per-worker penalty. But the new cut-rate policies, which won’t cover surgery, prenatal care or diagnostic work such as X-rays, qualify employers as participants in mandatory minimum coverage.

The new tier of low-benefit plans will still subject employers to government penalties, but most are expected to be less than $100 per worker.