Lawmaker: Why Do IRS Agents Train With AR-15s?

Representative Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) may have discovered where at least a few of those rounds of ammunition the government is buying massive quantities of is going when he visited the Maryland Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in May: the Internal Revenue Service.

Duncan, chairman of the House Homeland Security oversight subcommittee, said during recent interviews that he wants an explanation from IRS officials about employees of the agency he observed training with AR-15s during his visit.

“While we were sitting there,” Duncan told WYFF4, “the gentleman told them to sling their weapons and load a 30-round magazine into the AR-15s they were training with.”

Upon learning that the marksmen were IRS agents, the lawmaker said he was a little confused as to why the Nation’s tax collectors needed so much firepower.

“Why do IRS law enforcement agents need standoff capability that you would have with a long rifle or with a weapon similar to an AR-15? They’re generally investigating tax evasion, fraud and money laundering. We think of the IRS as an audit agency more than doing the type of law enforcement where they have to use an AR-15.”

The lawmaker, acknowledging that the IRS has an enforcement division, also questions why the agency wouldn’t collaborate with other Federal agencies that are geared more specifically to law enforcement in the event that heavy firepower was needed.

The IRS has issued a statement in response to Duncan’s concerns: “As law enforcement officials, IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agents are equipped similarly to other federal, state and local law enforcement organizations. Special Agents receive training on the appropriate and safe use of assigned weapons. IRS Criminal Investigation has internal controls and oversight in place to ensure all law enforcement tools, including weapons are used appropriately.”

U.S. Intelligence Officials Cyberattacked Online Jihad Magazine

U.S. intelligence officials reportedly launched an attack against al-Qaida’s Inspire magazine last month by garbling articles and removing sections, prompting the magazine’s terror-advocating creators to remove the edition from the Internet.

A new version of the magazine was later reposted, including a section touting the Boston Marathon bombings as an Islamic jihad success story.

Inspire, created by advocates of Islamic terror in 2010, publishes articles that encourage readers to orchestrate terror attacks against American citizens. In its spring 2013 issue, the magazine included “how to” articles to give readers tips on creating oil slicks on roadways to cause mass transit chaos and setting parked cars on fire to scare American motorists.

Unnamed intelligence officials told The Washington Post that the cyberattack was conducted as part of a wider effort to derail al-Qaida’s online propaganda initiatives.

“You can make it hard for them to distribute it, or you can mess with the content. And you can mess with the content in a way that is obvious or in ways that are not obvious,” one intelligence official told the newspaper.

According to reports, there is an ongoing discussion in the intelligence community about whether the government could justifiably broaden its efforts to disrupt websites that “promote radicalization.”

Drones For Snowden; Biden Worried About Young GOP; Tranny Restrooms in Cali Schools; Rand Paul To ‘Find A Place’ For Illegals; Kerry Talks Syria With Brits: Wednesday Morning News Roundup 6-12-2013

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.

  • Former Representative Ron Paul said that he is concerned about the well-being of National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden. He thinks the government might just take out the whistle-blower with a drone.

 

  • Vice President Joe Biden said Americans should be concerned about the sway Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have over the GOP.

 

  • Schools in the state of California will soon be required to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their preference or provide altogether separate facilities.

 

  • At the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, Senator Rand Paul (R.-Ky.) said to illegal aliens who want to live and work in the United States: “[W]e will find a place for you.” He said he envisions today’s illegal aliens becoming additional “taxpayers.”

 

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hosts British diplomat William Hague for talks in Washington today focused on the situation in Syria, as both nations inch closer to arming rebels fighting against Syrian President Bashar Assad.

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

Obama Should Blame Bush, Thank Whistle-Blowers And Keep Up The Bad Work

During his Senatorial career and the earlier parts of his Presidential tenure, Barack Obama was an outspoken advocate of government transparency and whistle-blower protections. Sometimes, the President still makes feeble attempts to claim he holds the same views today. But most Americans agree that one thing is certain: If Obama’s White House is the “most transparent in history,” as he claimed it would be, America has been in serious trouble for a long time… and there’s no end in sight.

It would require an outrageous amount of willful partisan ignorance to claim that the current President is solely responsible for the surveillance state that gives off increasingly sinister vibes or for the Federal bureaucracy’s unforgiving and increasingly common attacks against any insiders who dare attempt to reveal secrets in the interest of the public. In fact, Federal veins of secrecy run deeply through the Nation’s relatively short history.

Unfortunately for Obama (whether he simply told a lie he had no chance of covering or — betrayed by lofty idealism — has fallen victim to changes he failed to understand as a tech-savvy, information-hungry public and a post-9/11 paranoid state began to engage in proxy war in the Internet age), he is at the helm of what is likely the least transparent Administration in history.

The President makes a convenient target for scrutiny, as he stands at the forefront of Federal action. And, for his part, Obama has not been the sort of President capable of delivering any of the lofty promises he made during either of his campaigns — especially the first — with regard to restoration of Constitutional safeguards or the dissolution of the government’s most ambitious surveillance efforts.

Following the terror attacks on 9/11, a shell-shocked American public, distracted by patriotic fervor, ensured its own culpability in green-lighting the unConstitutional tactics currently employed by Federal agencies. A perverse notion that conservatism was synonymous with support of the military pursuit of “evildoers” at any cost to civil liberties at home and human rights abroad became evident in some circles. President George W. Bush and a number of Republican henchmen in Congress were able to capitalize on the terror attacks to lull many of the same conservatives who are barking mad today into believing that the Patriot Act initiatives were necessary, safe and temporary.

At the same time, Americans leaning to the left of the political divide were spending most of their time calling Bush a civil-liberties-abrogating war criminal. Just as conservatives were quiet then, many on the left have remained quiet today. But the gap between conservative and liberal may become less defined in coming months than it has been in decades, due to the widening divide between public and government interest.

Polemicist Noam Chomsky described the current state of the executive branch in April as follows: “What it is is the same kind of commitment to expanding executive power that Cheney and Rumsfeld had. [Obama] kind of puts it in mellifluous terms and there’s a little difference in his tone. It’s not as crude and brutal as they were, but it’s pretty hard to see much of a difference.”

Try as he might, harkening back to social issue pandering hasn’t even given Obama the tools to reverse the tide of public discontent over government actions. And barring extraordinary circumstances, the President can hope to serve the remainder of his term on the defense.

Perhaps Obama, for the first time, has a legitimate opportunity to pull the “blame Bush” card. He should fault Bush for putting into place unConstitutional measures, justified only by fear, which the current President simply couldn’t resist getting his own turn to abuse. It’s sort of like the idea of a drug addict blaming the pusher on the corner for all of his life problems and failures.

And when he finishes blaming Bush for the gift of surveillance state tools, former Representative Ron Paul has a suggestion: The President ought to sit down and write thank you cards to all of the whistle-blowers he wants to skewer.

Paul said during a recent interview:

The American people are starved for the truth. And when you have a dictatorship or an authoritarian government, truth becomes treasonous. And this is what they do. If you are a whistleblower or if you’re trying to tell the American people that our country is destroying our rule of law and destroying our Constitution, they say they turn it on and say, “Oh, you’re committing treason”….

…And I think the large majority of the American people are sick and tired of hearing how many people are having surveillance on them, whether it’s their phones, their internet, and e-mail and everything else. Matter of fact, I think the president ought to send him a thank you letter, because the president ran on transparency, and we’re getting a lot of transparency now. So, finally we’re getting the president to fulfill his promise about transparency. So that’s pretty exciting for me, because I believe in transparency.

Obama’s promises of Constitutional respect, if public interest remains heightened, can be fulfilled. It will take more whistle-blowers and more scandals, but Obama really does have the opportunity to bring about change — albeit probably not in the manner he intended. He simply just has to keep doing what he’s doing and, by 2016, a large number of Americans on both sides of the aisle will likely be tired of big-government politicians who believe government is always right. This could pave the way for a transformational Presidential candidate with broad political appeal. Feels a lot like gearing up for 2008, huh?

Let’s All Get Together Tonight And Jam Up The NSA!

There is much buzz about an Internet initiative encouraging as many Americans as possible to produce electronic communications using certain terrorist-sounding words and phrases in unison this evening. The goal is to create a blip on the National Security Agency’s radar in hopes of overwhelming the Federal government’s surveillance apparatus.

Creators of the website “Operation Troll The NSA” explain that the effort will involve Americans making calls or sending emails using a script chock-full of the kinds of terror-related words that the NSA supposedly screens communications for in order to “give our Nation’s impressive security apparatus the kind of test it deserves.”

The script, which participants are instructed to deliver via their chosen mode of electronic communication at 7 p.m. EST this evening, reads as follows:

Hey! How’s it going? I’m all right.

My job is so shitty I wish I could overthrow my boss. It’s like this oppressive regime where only true believers in his management techniques will stay around. I work marathon-length hours and he’s made all these changes that have made it the worst architecture firm to work at in Manhattan. Like he moved the office to the Financial District and fired my assistant. She was the only one who knew where the blueprints were! I need access to those blueprints to complete my job! F my life, right? And he keeps trying to start all these new initiatives to boost revenue, but seriously we just need to stick to what we do best. There’s only one true profit center. I seriously feel ready to go on strike at any second.

I just read this article about how these free radical particles can cause the downfall of good health and accelerate aging. These could actually cause death to millions of Americans. If these particles are flying around undetected everywhere, does that mean we’re all radicalized?

Have you seen the second season of Breaking Bad? I just finished it. I couldn’t believe that episode where they poison the guy with ricin! That was the bomb! I won’t say any more because I don’t want to reveal the earth-shattering events to come.

Oh! So I’ve been planning a big trip for the summer. I’m thinking of visiting all of the most famous suspension bridges in the United States. So probably like the Golden Gate Bridge, The Brooklyn Bridge, and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. I’m gonna bring my younger brother and I know he’ll want to go to bars, so I’m thinking of getting him a fake drivers license, but I hope that doesn’t blow up in my face.

Okay, I gotta run! I’m late for flight school. I missed the last class where we learn how to land, so I really can’t miss another one. Talk to you later!

Buzzfeed employees Chris Baker and Mike Lacher, creative directors, are behind the stunt. They said in an interview this week that they hope millions of Americans take part in the act of civil disobedience, but that the effort is mainly focused on giving NSA officials pause to reflect on their policies.

“It would be amazing if we actually did screw with their systems a little bit,” said Baker.

“But the ultimate goal is that the site itself will get enough attention … that NSA becomes aware of it on some level and gives them a moment to reflect on their duties,” he told the Daily Beast.

The masterminds behind the project say that they don’t believe that the effort will have any measurable impact on the NSA’s data-collection efforts — and even if it did, there’s no chance that the NSA would let malfunctions become public knowledge.

Even without any promise of thwarting NSA spying, the plan has a growing number of supporters on social networking sites and forums all over the Internet, seemingly spanning generational and socio-political divides.

While it would probably be inadvisable to deliver any electronic communications that could be perceived as a real threat by anyone who happens to be listening, there have also been suggestions on forums and message boards that participants could come up with their own buzzword-filled scripts for the jamming effort.

Care to get an early start in the comment section below?

ACLU Sues Obama Administration Over NSA; Spanish On The Senate Floor; Cruz Has ‘Obamaphobia’; More Gun Control To Come; And Tips To Thwart Government Spies: Personal Liberty Digest ™ P.M. Edition 6-11-2013

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

ACLU Sues Obama Over NSA Spying

The American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union filed suit Tuesday against the Administration of Barack Obama, challenging the National Security Agency’s Constitutional authority to conduct warrantless surveillance on Americans’ communications. Read the complaint… 

Speaking Spanish On The Senate Floor To Urge ‘Commonsense’ Immigration Reform

Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) spoke Tuesday for nearly 15 minutes on the Senate floor in Spanish, applauding the Gang of Eight bipartisan coalition that’s pushing for a sweeping set of immigration reforms and supporting the start of the debate process that could see an immigration reform bill move out of the Senate. Read more… 

Menendez Diagnoses Cruz With ‘Obamaphobia’

Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) put on his pseudo-psychiatry pants Tuesday and claimed that Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has been afflicted by a severe case of “Obamaphobia,” which is inhibiting his ability to go along with immigration reform efforts. Read More…

Amid Scandals, Busy Congressional Schedule Biden Vows Renewed Gun Control Push

Buried in the headlines about the Barack Obama Administration’s numerous scandals are reports that Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) are gearing up for a revitalized push for more gun-control measures. Read More…

Eluding Government’s Prying Eyes Isn’t Convenient, But Here Are Some Options

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a nonprofit advocacy group that battles expanded government surveillance and technological infringements on civil liberties, has compiled a list of operating systems, applications and online services for computers and mobile devices. Many of the products listed aren’t exactly household names — but that’s kind of the point. Read more…

Amid Scandals, Busy Congressional Schedule Biden Vows Renewed Gun Control Push

Buried in the headlines about the Barack Obama Administration’s numerous scandals are reports that Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) are gearing up for a revitalized push for more gun-control measures.

Biden was queried by Capitol Hill reporters Monday following the swearing in of interim Republican Senator Jeff Chiesa, who will represent New Jersey, when the topic of the Obama Administration’s gun control ambitions came up.

“I’ve got to talk to Harry [Reid] and see what the game plan here is,” Biden told reporters, continuing, “I personally haven’t given up, nor has the President.”

Reports indicate that Reid and Biden are scheduled to spend time later in the week discussing possible options for the reintroduction of gun-control measures in the Senate, even as previous efforts were handily defeated and the Congressional schedule for much of June is dedicated to immigration-reform debate.

As recently as Friday, Biden declared of the Administration’s gun-control efforts in an email to supporters, “This fight is far from over.”

ACLU Sues Obama Over NSA Spying

The American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union filed suit Tuesday against the Administration of Barack Obama, challenging the National Security Agency’s Constitutional authority to conduct warrantless surveillance on Americans’ communications.

The suit alleges that the Administration is violating citizens’ 1st and 4th Amendment protections.

ACLU said in a statement:

Last week, The Guardian released an order issued by the FISC that compelled a Verizon subsidiary—Verizon Business Network Services (VBNS)—to hand over, on an “ongoing, daily basis,” details for every phone call placed on its network for a prospective three-month period. Collecting those details—”metadata” that reveals who people talk to, for how long, how often, and possibly from where—allows the government to paint an alarmingly detailed picture of Americans’ private lives. The FISC order cited Section 215 as its legal basis, yet the breadth of the authority it granted to the government is simply incompatible with the text of the statute.

As an organization that advocates for and litigates to defend the civil liberties of society’s most vulnerable, the staff at the ACLU naturally use the phone—a lot—to talk about sensitive and confidential topics with clients, legislators, whistleblowers, and ACLU members. And since the ACLU is a VBNS customer, we were immediately confronted with the harmful impact that such broad surveillance would have on our legal and advocacy work. So we’re acting quickly to get into court to challenge the government’s abuse of Section 215…

…With today’s lawsuit, the ACLU is now attacking Section 215 on three legal fronts: in our ongoing FOIA litigation seeking the government’s secret interpretation of the law; in the FISA Court through yesterday’s public-access motion; and now, in a constitutional lawsuit in federal court. When the government is claiming such chillingly expansive surveillance powers, it’s all hands on deck.

Find a copy of the complaint below:
 
The Constitutionality of the NSA spy program was previously challenged in a lawsuit by Larry Klayman, the former chairman of Judicial Watch, and two other plaintiffs who say the government spied on their Verizon accounts. The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, claims the tactic “violates the U.S. Constitution and also federal laws, including, but not limited to, the outrageous breach of privacy, freedom of speech, freedom of association, and the due process rights of American citizens.”

Menendez Diagnoses Cruz With ‘Obamaphobia’

Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) put on his pseudo-psychiatry pants Tuesday and claimed that Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has been afflicted by a severe case of “Obamaphobia,” which is inhibiting his ability to go along with immigration-reform efforts.

On Monday, Cruz said during an interview on ABC that the White House’s insistence that Congressional immigration-reform efforts include a path to citizenship makes President Barack Obama the single “biggest obstacle to passing common sense immigration reform.”

During an interview on MSNBC, Menendez refuted the lawmaker’s claim, saying that the bipartisan Gang of Eight was actually responsible for pushing path to citizenship measures.

“Well, I think he has Obamaphobia,” Menendez said of Cruz. “The reality is that it is the Gang of Eight that came together — four Democrats, four Republicans — and said that we need a path to citizenship.”

Cruz’s spokesperson promptly responded, though without denying the diagnoses, in an email statement, “If Obamaphobia means fear of government tyranny and the willingness to stand against it, I wouldn’t say that’s inaccurate.”

Currently, Cruz and a handful of other conservative lawmakers are trying to block Senate consideration of the 867-page bipartisan immigration overhaul while they work to introduce an onslaught of amendments that would render the legislation ineffectual or garner support to defeat the bill altogether.

NRA Gets Blamed For More Shootings; Ron Paul Wants Obama To Thank Leaker; Congress Hearts The NSA; Go Go Gadget IRS Spycam!; Senate Staffers Waste Your Money; And More: Tuesday Morning News Roundup 6-11-2013

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.

 

 

  • Iran is enlarging its nuclear infrastructure with the eventual aim of developing an industry capable of building up to 30 bombs a year, an Israeli minister shrieked on Monday.

 

  • A senior U.S. intelligence official says there are no plans to dial back the National Security Administration’s wide-scale surveillance program. One reason: Most of the Congress still cautiously supports it, despite public outrage.

 

  • Your tax dollars are hard at work in Congress: The Senate Office of Education and Training offers many classes to workers in the Senate, including classes on sleeping, forgiveness, grammar, making small talk, sitting and time management.

 

  • The Internal Revenue Service is soliciting vendors for Inspector Gadget-style surveillance equipment, including “Covert Coffee tray(s) with Camera concealment” and cameras that can be hidden in plants. They need it quick, though; the bidding ends in four days.

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