We are still learning the secrets discovered by Edward Snowden. Among the most recent revelations is that “US and British intelligence agencies have successfully cracked much of the online encryption relied upon by hundreds of millions of people to protect the privacy of their personal data, online transactions and emails.”
The Guardian reports the National Security Agency and its UK counterpart GCHQ have broadly compromised the guarantees of internet privacy. The agencies “have adopted a battery of methods in their systematic and ongoing assault on… ‘the use of ubiquitous encryption across the internet.’
Those methods include covert measures to ensure NSA control over setting of international encryption standards, the use of supercomputers to break encryption with ‘brute force,’ and – the most closely guarded secret of all – collaboration with technology companies and internet service providers themselves.”
The agencies insist they need to quarter-billion dollar program to defeat encryption because it “is vital to their core missions of counter-terrorism and foreign intelligence gathering.”
But the anti-encryption program puts all users at risk, not just suspected terrorists. The Guardian reports, the NSA & GCHQ have worked with software companies to insert vulnerable points or “backdoors” into commercial encryption software. Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist and senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union said, “Backdoors are fundamentally in conflict with good security. Backdoors expose all users of a backdoored system, not just intelligence agency targets, to heightened risk of data compromise. This is because the insertion of backdoors in a software product, particularly those that can be used to obtain unencrypted user communications or data, significantly increases the difficulty of designing a secure product.”
For those who value their privacy, security is almost synonymous with encryption. The executives at Google are extremely concerned with this program. The Washington Post reports, “Google’s encryption initiative… was accelerated in June as the tech giant struggled to guard its reputation as a reliable steward of user information.” Google began encrypting its Gmail service in 2010, and also encrypts search results for most users. Eric Grosse, vice president for security engineering at Google says Google resists government surveillance and has never weakened its encryption systems to make snooping easier.
Soghoian added, “If the NSA wants to get into your system, they are going to get in… Most of the people in my community are realistic about that. This is all about making dragnet surveillance impossible.”
Voters in Colorado and Washington approved measures last November that would tax and regulate cannabis. On August 29, the Department of Justice announced, “Based on assurances that those states will impose an appropriately strict regulatory system, the Department has informed the governors of both states that it is deferring its right to challenge their legalization laws at this time.” Further, Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole sent a memo to all United States Attorneys explaining the DOJ’s stance.
Not only have two States essentially nullified federal cannabis laws, the federal government is supporting the nullification. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy praised the new guidelines, “All the more in a time when federal resources are especially scarce, the Justice Department should focus on countering and prosecuting violent crime, while respecting the will of the states whose people have voted to legalize small amounts of marijuana for personal and medical use.”
Last year, President Obama said, “We’ve got bigger fish to fry. It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it’s legal.”
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper weighed in, “We recognize how difficult this issue has been for the Department of Justice and we appreciate the thoughtful approach it has taken. Amendment 64 put Colorado in conflict with federal law. Today’s announcement shows the federal government is respecting the will of Colorado voters.”
While the Governors of Colorado and Washington may be pleased with the DOJ’s announcement, a coalition of Sheriffs, Chiefs of Police and narcotics officers sent a letter to Eric Holder. The letter begins, “On behalf of the undersigned national law enforcement organizations, we write to express our extreme disappointment that the U.S. Department of Justice does not intend to challenge [cannabis] policies in Colorado or Washington …” The letter goes on to regurgitate propaganda about the supposed dangers of cannabis and reasons why prohibition should remain intact. “Furthermore,” the letter continues, “it is unacceptable that the Department of Justice did not consult our organizations – whose members will be directly impacted – for meaningful input ahead of this important decision. ” The coalition also unintentionally encourages other states to nullify federal cannabis laws, “The failure of the Federal government to act in this matter is an open invitation to other states to legalize marijuana in defiance of federal law. ”
It should come as no surprise that this coalition would oppose the DOJ policy. Law enforcement has the most to lose when prohibition is finally repealed. They claim the laws are “for the good of the community” but they actually mean the laws bring in a lot of revenue for their departments. With civil asset forfeiture laws in place, a law enforcement officer can have almost any piece of property seized on the mere allegation that it is connected to the commission of a crime (usually a drug crime), even if the owner is never charged with a crime.
This coalition, as law enforcement is wont to do, ignores the fact that when prohibition of substances is lifted, the number of users decreases. In Portugal, after a decade of drug decriminalization, the number of addicts has declined by nearly half, and drug related diseases and overdoses have been reduced even more. Sadly, law enforcement would rather support their own interests than do what’s best for the society they claim to serve and protect.
In early August, CIA Deputy Leader Michael Morrell declared Syria to be the “top current threat to US national security,” a spot usually reserved for someplace the US is directly militarily involved in. Jason Ditz of Antiwar.com wrote, “The declaration is even more significant the deeper you get into Morrell’s comments, as he makes clear exactly what about Syria the CIA sees as a threat, saying the risk is that the Assad government ‘collapses and the country becomes al-Qaeda’s new haven.’”
After a chemical weapons attack on August 21, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) reportedly treated 3600 patients displaying neurotoxic symptoms in less than three hours, 355 patients reportedly died. MSF general director Christopher Stokes said, “MSF hopes that independent investigators will be given immediate access to shed light on what happened.”
There are conflicting reports on who was responsible for the attack. The Syrian state media accused the rebels of the attack, while other reports put the blame on the Syrian military.
The Russian government has urged the Syrian government to cooperate with UN investigations into the attack. That chemical weapons attack is now being used as justification for a possible attack by the US military.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel suggested the Pentagon is moving naval forces closer to Syria in preparation for a possible decision by President Barack Obama to order military strikes. Hagel said “the Defense Department has a responsibility to provide the president with options for contingencies, and that requires positioning our forces, positioning our assets, to be able to carry out different options — whatever options the president might choose.”
The Associated Press reports that defense officials said the Navy had sent a fourth warship armed with ballistic missiles into the eastern Mediterranean Sea but without immediate orders for any missile launch into Syria.
Jason Ditz of Antiwar.com writes, “any military intervention that seriously changes the situation on the ground will run into the same problem that has repeatedly been pointed to, that of the rebels’ dominance by al-Qaeda allies. This means that any attack that harms the Assad government too much risks bringing a jihadist faction into power that will be even more hostile toward the US.”
Which means that Syria, much like Iraq & Afghanistan, would be another endless battle in the never ending War on Terror.
Speaking to a group of staff and families at the US Embassy in Brasilia on August 14, John Kerry said, “this little thing called the internet and the ability of people everywhere to communicate instantaneously and to have more information coming at them in one day than most people can process in months or a year… makes it much harder to govern, makes it much harder to organize people.”
Jason Ditz of Antiwar.com wrote, “it is hard to hear this from US officials and not immediately think about the Internet’s role in facilitating whistleblowers like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden.”
On August 15, Barton Gellman of the Washington Post released information provided to the Post by Edward Snowden. Gellman says that according to an internal audit the NSA “counted 2,776 incidents in the preceding 12 months of unauthorized collection, storage, access to or distribution of legally protected communications.”
What I find to be quite disturbing is not that the NSA violated it’s own privacy rules, but that the information was only revealed after it was released by a whistleblower. The people in charge of the NSA wanted to keep their “mistakes” a secret, and actually lied to Congress about the severity of the violations.
Virginia Congressman Morgan Griffith, referring to sworn congressional testimony about the domestic programs from senior intelligence, FBI and Justice Department officials, told the Washington Times, “We were being told there were ‘some’ errors, like a few. They gave everyone the impression these [errors] were very rare. If [my colleagues] had realized how many [violations of privacy protection or legal rules] there were, I think more than seven of them would have switched.”
The “seven” mentioned by Griffith is a reference to a House vote in July on the Amash amendment that would have cut funds for domestic data gathering by the NSA except where based on individualized suspicion. That vote failed 217-205, with 12 not voting. Had seven people who voted against the amendment voted for it, the amendment would have passed. Before that vote, White House press secretary Jay Carney said, “We oppose the current effort in the House to hastily dismantle one of our Intelligence Community’s counterterrorism tools.
This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open, or deliberative process.”
It seems to me that withholding such valuable information related to the numerous violations of privacy by the National Security Agency is “not the product of an informed, open, or deliberative process.” It seems to me that Jay Carney, John Kerry and the many supporters of the NSA want an uninformed populace blindly following the words and whims of whomever may be President.
It takes a lot of courage to admit when you were wrong. It takes even more courage if you were very outspoken when you were wrong.
On August 8, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, wrote an article for CNN.com which states, “Over the last year, I have been working on a new documentary called ‘Weed.’ The title… may sound cavalier, but the content is not.”
“I traveled around the world to interview medical leaders, experts, growers and patients. I spoke candidly to them, asking tough questions. What I found was stunning.” Gupta added, “Well, I am here to apologize.”
“I apologize because I didn’t look hard enough, until now. I didn’t look far enough. I didn’t review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research, and I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis.”
Gupta said he “lumped them with the high-visibility malingerers, just looking to get high” and mistakenly believed the DEA had sound scientific proof that cannabis has “no accepted medicinal use and a high potential for abuse.” see more…
There has recently been a war-of-words in the Republican Party between NJ Governor Chris Christie and people he considers to be “libertarian.” During a recent panel discussion at the Aspen Institute, Christie said the strain of liberarianism is a “very dangerous thought.” Someone asked Gov. Christie if he was referring to Rand Paul; he responded, “You can name any number of people and he’s one of them.” Adding that he wanted the people having “esoteric, intellectual debates… to come to New Jersey and sit across from the widows and the orphans” of the attacks on September 11, 2001. Christie added “[t]he next attack that comes, that kills thousands of Americans as a result, people are going to be looking back on the people having this intellectual debate and wondering –”
Rand Paul responded by telling Sean Hannity, “The Fourth Amendment says it has to be a specific person, a place, and you have to name the items and you have to go to a judge and you have to say there’s probable cause. And here’s the thing, I’m all for getting terrorists. I’m all for — if I were the judge, absolutely, say yes. Get the records. But I’m for spying on terrorists; I’m not for spying on every American.” see more…
The faux trial of Bradley Manning is almost over. Closing arguments ended on Friday July 26, nearly two full months after the trial began on June 3.
Defense lawyer David E. Coombs said in his closing arguments that Bradley Manning is a whistleblower who acted out of conscience and is “willing to accept the price” for it. This was in stark contrast to lead prosecutor Maj. Ashden Fein’s portrayal of Manning as a “gleeful, grinning traitor” who for some reason also hates the American flag.
Fein quotes Manning as having typed, “Hilary Clinton, and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack,” during an online chat with convicted computer hacker Adrian Lamo, to try to show that Manning knew he would harm diplomats by releasing the material.
Before hearing the closing arguments, Judge Col. Lind refused to dismiss theft charges against Manning after the defense said prosecutors hadn’t proven the allegations. She instead revised some of the theft charges to more accurately describe what was allegedly stolen. The defense asked for a mistrial, Lind refused to grant it.
Jason Ditz of Antiwar.com reports, “The extent to which Fein’s rhetoric has gone off the rails is bound to harm the case in the eyes of the average American, though with Judge Col. Lind giving the prosecution literally anything and everything it wants, it is unlikely to change the foregone conclusion of a guilty verdict in the shaky military court system.”
Pentagon Papers leaker, Daniel Ellsberg and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange held a conference call on July 26, with Assange saying Manning is a patriot responsible for “the most influential leak in history.”
Ellsberg said, “If the ‘aiding the enemy’ charge is permitted to stand, this case will forever change the ability of journalists to reveal the most important crimes of the state.” He also pointed out that President Obama has charged twice as many people (8) under the Espionage Act as all previous presidents. Daniel Politi reports, “Prior to Obama’s administration only three people who leaked information had been charged under the 1917 statute that was never really intended for leakers.”
I can’t claim to know President Obama’s intentions, but I can speculate. He wants to make an example out of Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden in an attempt to intimidate anyone else from committing the greatest crime of all… disobedience to The State!
I recently received a message from Dave Hollist on my facebook page which reads, “Darryl, thanks for running for office. On your page and website, I could not find your plan to finance government without violating our Libertarian pledge to never force anyone to do anything. Please steer me to that info, or have you considered contract insurance?” He then asked, “How can a government operate without taxation?” and provided his answer, which can be found on his website.
Before offering my opinion on how government would be funded absent taxation, I feel compelled to say that I have only seen a handful of people mention “contract insurance” and based on what I’ve read, I would not oppose such a proposal, nor would I support it.
Now, to answer the question: How can a government operate without taxation? I believe that governments (if they are to continue existing) can operate without taxation in a similar way that your neighborhood grocer operates without taxation. Any proposed government project should be able to be funded through voluntary means. Just as your local grocer doesn’t point (or threaten to point) a gun to your head to force you to purchase his groceries; governments should not use the same tactics to force you to fund its schools, roads, post offices, bureaucrats, regulatory agencies, military conquests, and/or any other government function.
This does not mean that I oppose schools, roads, and post offices. In fact, I like all three of those things, and regularly use two of them. I’m opposed to the use of force to fund them. I’ve been a regular contributor to the arts and libraries, however I’m opposed to the use of force to fund them!
For a quick comparison between the private sector and government monopoly, lets look at the delivery of mail and packages. During the fiscal year ending in September 2012, the United State Post Office had a deficit of $15.9 billion, and a deficit of $1.9 billion in the second quarter of the current fiscal year, while UPS “is projecting to haul in $4.6 to $4.8 billion in after-tax profits” in 2013.
With regards to education, some statistics show that government-funded schools spend one and a half times more per student than their privately run counterparts. Private schools also hire more teachers and spend much less on administration than government-funded schools. Many museums operate almost entirely on private-funding, yet claim they will cease to exist absent the government funds they receive. There are also free-market solutions to policing and roads that currently exist, and operate better than the one-size-fits-all government-controlled solutions.
I admit that I do not have all of the answers, though I do offer solutions. My solution to operating a government without taxation is to have said government (if such would even exist in a libertarian society) rely on voluntary contributions, just as privately run businesses and charities do!
The big news today is Colorado Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs is being recalled, along with Senator Angela Giron of Pueblo.
Unfortunately I’m *just* outside his district (literally across the street) and will have to settle for agitating my Colorado Springs neighbors against his gun-grabbing nonsense (and other fun activities).
This is probably the most libertarian city/county/state I’ve ever lived in and there’s so many military vets that Pueblo claims to be the “Home of Heroes”. This “libertarian” assertion may seem odd considering the proximity to military bases (I can see the couple dozen or so NORAD radio towers from my house), but this real demographic shift shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone paying attention. I’ve been here less than a year, but I’m inspired by their determination, and have finally acclimated to living over a mile above sea level.
Anyways, where was I? Some douchebag politicians taking away our guns, so let’s take away their power:
A Denver judge on Thursday ruled petitions submitted to oust a pair of Democratic senators from office are valid, a pivotal ruling that sets in motion Colorado’s first-ever recall election of state lawmakers.
“The petitions here substantially comply with law,” Denver District Court Judge Robert Hyatt said in his oral decision from the bench. “Recalls are a fundamental right of Colorado citizens.”
Shortly after Hyatt handed down the decision Thursday, Democratic Gov. John Hickenloopersigned an executive order to have the recall election date of Senate President John Morse, of Colorado Springs, and Sen. Angela Giron, of Pueblo, be held on Sept. 10.
Both are the targets of recalls by constituents for their support of stricter Colorado gun laws implemented this month.
The best part? Their recall efforts were led by a bunch of nobodies that got fed up and initiated their civic duty.
The recall is just over a month away on September 10th: Go get ’em, Coloradans!
And keep an eye out for this amendment that wipes it’s ass with what’s left of Morse and Giron’s careers.
Look out kids, the Constitution is back …AND IT HAS A DICK!
And soon, he’s going to fuck those NSA goons in the ass with it.