NEED ANOTHER REASON TO FIRE ERIC HOLDER?
TODAY THE FBI CONTINUES DIGGING AROUND MICHIGAN LOOKING FOR THE CORPSE OF JIMMY HOFFA.
THIS WILL BE DAY TWO.
DOES THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT REALLY HAVE THE MONEY TO WASTE ON THIS CRAP?
38 YEARS AGO, HOFFA DISAPPEARED. HE WAS A CROOK, HE WAS SENT TO PRISON, HE WAS IN BED WITH THE MAFIA, WHY IS THIS A CONCERN WORTH WASTING AGENTS AND TIME OVER?
TURN THE MATTER OVER TO GERALDO A POSSE OF VOLUNTEER DEPUTIES.
HOW DOES THE GOVERNMENT HAVE TIME OR MONEY TO WASTE ON THIS?
ISN'T THE JUSTIFICATION FOR THE ILLEGAL SPYING ON AMERICANS THAT WE COULD BE HIT BY A TERRORIST ATTACK AT ANY MINUTE?
SO HOW IS THERE TIME TO WASTE OBSESSING OVER A CROOK WHO DISAPPEARED 38 YEARS AGO?
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Glenn Greenwald (Guardian) broke the news: two weeks ago about the NSA collecting metadata on all Americans phone calls and then the news that the NSA and FBI were using PRISM, a program collecting data from the internet -- video, photos, e-mails, you name it. Ed Snowden is the whistle-blower who exposed the programs. Today, at the Guardian, he participated in an online discussion. Among those asking questions were AP's Kimberly Dozier:
Kimberly Dozier @KimberlyDozier
US officials say terrorists already altering TTPs because of your leaks, & calling you traitor. Respond? http://www.guardiannews.com #AskSnowden
US officials say this every time there's a public discussion that could limit their authority. US officials also provide misleading or directly false assertions about the value of these programs, as they did just recently with the Zazi case, which court documents clearly show was not unveiled by PRISM.
Journalists should ask a specific question: since these programs began operation shortly after September 11th, how many terrorist attacks were prevented SOLELY by information derived from this suspicionless surveillance that could not be gained via any other source? Then ask how many individual communications were ingested to acheive that, and ask yourself if it was worth it. Bathtub falls and police officers kill more Americans than terrorism, yet we've been asked to sacrifice our most sacred rights for fear of falling victim to it.
Further, it's important to bear in mind I'm being called a traitor by men like former Vice President Dick Cheney. This is a man who gave us the warrantless wiretapping scheme as a kind of atrocity warm-up on the way to deceitfully engineering a conflict that has killed over 4,400 and maimed nearly 32,000 Americans, as well as leaving over 100,000 Iraqis dead. Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American, and the more panicked talk we hear from people like him, Feinstein, and King, the better off we all are. If they had taught a class on how to be the kind of citizen Dick Cheney worries about, I would have finished high school.
Kimberly Dozier's AP report on Snowden's chat is here. Asked by Ryan Latvaitis about his advice to other potential whistle-blowers, Snowden replied, "This country is worth dying for." That's not the talk of a Benedict Arnold, those are the words of someone concerned about democracy and the Constitution. In response to a question from the Guardian's Spencer Ackerman, Snowden denied supplying the Chinese government with classified information.
On CBS This Morning today, Senate weakling Dick Durbin showed up to try to pretend he was finally on the job.
Charlie Rose: Britain's Guardian reports [. . .] the NSA spied on Russia's president and other foreign leaders at a G20 summit in London in 2009.
Norah O'Donnell: Illinois Senator Dick Durbin is here, he's the number two Democrat in the Senate and Chairman of the Subcommittee that overseas funding for intelligence. Senator, good morning.
Dick Durbin: Good morning.
Norah O'Donnell: The news today is that the head of the NSA is going to release new details where more than a dozen plots, terrorist plots were foiled in the US and other countries. Is that enough to quiet some of the privacy concerns?
Little Dick Durbin: I think it's an important development and I'm glad they're doing it. And this is an issue I've been on for years, I've offered admnents on the floor of the Senate and in the Judiciary Committee to try to narrow the gathering of information to what we need and not more. Uh, and now we're going to take a closer look. What I need to know on these cases, if we had known the suspect and gone after those phone records after some suspicion could we have come up with the same information? Rathter than the approach that's being used -- gather everything, hold everything, wait to see if maybe Charlie Rose's name is going to pop up at some point in the future so you can go back in phone records of four or five years ago? Can you gather that information as needed with suspects? Or do you have to gather all of that in advance? That's the key question.
Charlie Rose: You say you've been working on this for a long time --
Little Dick Durbin: I sure have.
Charlie Rose: Has there been push back and resistance on security grounds and therfore no changes have been made?
Little Dick Durbin: That's right. Initially, under the PATRIOT Act, the provision I supported was there and it protected --
Charlie Rose: Do you expect anything to change now?
Little Dick Durbin: It can. It depends on the appetite of the American people for privacy. It's an interesting thing because you get different things in these polls --
And we'll stop mincing Dick Durbin there because he's not cute and for a man his age and girth to act that way is really disgusting. When Durbin was 18, The Four Seasons had a number on hit with "Walk Like A Man" -- at what point will Durbin? Polls, he said.
He doesn't know a poll any better than the bulk of the press. CNN has a new poll out. It's shocking. If you don't know how to read a poll. The findings of this poll? They were there weeks ago if you're educated in the social sciences, if you're actually educated, you knew to look at the independents when the press started polling. That is always your clue. This is not anything I invented with any alleged wisdom. These are the basics of polling. We've explained it and explained it -- most recently June 13th. The press needs to learn how to interpret polls. There's really no point in an 'insta poll' of asking people the weekend of revelations what they think. Most haven't decided and most are attached to their partisanship. The only value of those 'insta polls' is the numbers for the independent voters. We're not going to review it again today, I'm getting tired of spoon feeding.
Regardless of Barack's very bad polling numbers, Little Dick Durbin did not take an oath to uphold a poll, he took an oath to uphold the Constitution. Is that confusing to him? If it's confusing, he needs to resign because he's clearly not qualified to hold office. "I sure have" been working on this for a long time, he boasts. Then he's done an awful job. It shouldn't be that difficult. As Senator Mark Udall Tweeted yesterday:
Americans deserve to know govt's secret interpretation of US
#surveillance laws. Govt overreach is never good. #COpolitcs
A comment left to the CBS News report is worth noting (and thanks to the CBS News friend who passed it on):
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- This country won't spend a few million to build a simple computer system to manage the VA claims to care for and compensate our wounded veterans of two illegal and totally unnecessary wars, yet it will spend untold billions building a top secret system to spy on, collect, store and peruse information on every person in this country. And yet many out here call Snowden and Bradley traitors. Go figure.
Go figure indeed. Last week, I sat in a House Judiciary Committee hearing listening to FBI Director Robert Mueller lie that if they had the NSA spying program prior to 9-11, it would have prevented 9-11. And people accepted this as fact on the Committee. Despite the fact that the recent bombing in Boston stands out most infamously for the fact that the FBI never shared details with Boston authorities. As Scott Shane and Michael S. Schmidt (New York Times) reported last month, "The F.B.I. did not tell the Boston police about the 2011 warning from Russia about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the two brothers accused in the Boston Marathon bombings, the city's police chief said Thursday during the first public Congressional hearing on the terrorist attack." That had the program but nothing got shared then so stop lying to the American people, Robert Mueller.
Yesterday, Peter Eisler and Susan Page (USA Today) hosted a video chat with NSA whistle-blowers Thomas Drake, William Binney and J. Kirk Wiebe and with Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project. Excerpt.
Susan Page: All of you raised your objections to NSA programs in the extent of the surveillance that they involved for months or years before they erupted publicly. With Edward Snowden, he went directly to the news media with his story. Based on your experience, did he have another effective option?
William Binney: Well, I mean, we tried to stay, for the better part of seven years, inside the government. Trying to get the government to recognize the unconstitutional, illegal activity that they were doing, openly admit that, and define ways that would be legal and Constitutionally acceptable to achieve the ends that they were after. And that just failed totally because no one in Congress, we couldn't get anybody in the courts and certainly no one in the Inspector General's Justice Dept didn't pay any attention to it. And so all of the efforts we made just produced no change whatsoever. All it did was continue to get worse and expand.
Susan Page: So he did the right thing?
William Binney: Yes. Yes. I think he did.
[. . .]
Thomas Drake: There is a bottom line though. The government unchained itself from the Constitution as a result of 9-11 and in the absolute darkest of secrecy, at the highest levels of government, approved by the White House, NSA became the executive agent for a surveillance program, extraordinarily broad surveillance program that turned the United States of America effectively into a foreign nation for electronic dragnet surveillance and it started with phone numbers.
Ed Snowden is the reason this conversation -- this overdue conversation is taking place. Not Dick Durbin. Ed Snowden risked a great deal to raise this issue. The editorial board of the Guardian noted last night:
In unmasking himself as the leaker of the files showing the uses and abuses of western intelligence, Edward Snowden called for a wider public debate. He suggested that the public was sleepwalking into a surveillance society through a lack of knowledge about what was being done in their name. President Obama, reacting in a measured way to the fact of the leak, also welcomed the opportunity to have such a debate.
A meaningful debate cannot be held without information. Snowden's case is that almost no one – not ordinary citizens, not the press, not the courts, not even congress – is in a position to discuss the reasonable balance between security, privacy and openness because they are denied the full and true facts. From Snowden's vantage point – reading a great deal of source material – he believes the US National Security Agency "routinely" lies to congress.
Let's move over to the IRS scandal where apparently everyone's competing for Idiot of the Day. Let's start with US House Rep Elijah Cummings. He is the Ranking Member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The Chair is Darrell Issa. Cummings and Issa are in conflict. Cummings feels that since Issa is releasing transcripts to the press -- transcripts of interviews with IRS employees -- that the transcripts should be public and should be public right now. That part actually makes sense -- and would even if the press wasn't seeing them. The government needs to stop sitting on information and start informing the citizens what is going on.
Where Cummings is being stupid? Josh Hicks (Washington Post) reports that Cummings is releasing his own excerpts "The Cummings release revealed that a self-described 'conservative Republican' in the agency’s Cincinnati office elevated the first tea party case to Washington, seeking guidance." If tomorrow, which could happen, a Democrat in the Cincinnati office is found to have done something untoward, the "Demcorat" does not matter, the "Republican" does not matter. The IRS is not supposed to be politicized nor are low level officials capable of carrying off political targeting. Cummings is attempting to politicize the scandal and he needs to stop doing that. It undercuts his overall argument and it sets him up to look very foolish if a minor member in the scandal turns out to be a Democrat or someone who donated or campaigned for Democrats. It's not smart. He also looks stupid when he makes statements about the White House not being involved. A) Why is he reinforcing that possibility to begin with? B) It makes it appear that his only interest is whether or not the White House was involved when the American people have made clear in polls that they find the targeting of political groups outrageous. Is he serving the American people or the White House? Since every member of the House who chooses to remain in Congress is up for re-election next year, he might want to concentrate a little more on how he is seen?
Was Cummings responding to Fox News reporting? I have no idea but for him to make such a stupid move (and it's gravely stupid, you don't stake out a position like that until all the interviews are done), it seemed possible. So I went to Fox News and found more stupidity in this article. They bill it as a Fox News report and, at the end, offer that "The Associated Press contributed to this report." If it's not entirely AP, Fox News needs to do some firings because of the errors in the article that repeatedly downplay the actual events. Take Lois Lerner who pleaded the Fifth and refused to testify before Congress. That alone makes your character in question. Lerner was not going to be asked whom she slept with or if she was a member of the Communist Party or the mob. She was going to be asked about how she did her job. A government employee who pleads the Fifth rather than answer those type of questions is questionable for that reason alone. The press has no problem dragging whistle blowers' names through the mud but a government employee -- whose entire career is public as a result of being a government employee -- that takes the Fifth is off limits?
Apparently so, "Lerner is the IRS official who first disclosed the targeting at a legal conference May 10." Is that how we tell the story now? She lied in her disclosure at the ABA conference and, as we know now, she also planted the question with a friend. That too goes to the character of Lois Lerner. It's amazing the mud Ed Snowden's dragged through while the joke that is Lois Lerner gets a pass."
A version of the AP article with Stephen Ohlemacher's name attached to it can be found here. It's the height of stupidity. And pair it with Tamara Keith's nonsense for NPR that we called out last week. The key takeway of Tamara's article is that she found a connection to DC. This is a major detail because IRS officials testifying to Congress have repeatedly blamed it on lower level officials in Cincinati. At one point, the idiot states, "There's a second employee, Elizabeth Hofacre who, for six months, worked on these Tea Party cases. And she was actually working with a tax law specialist in Washington, D.C., and she talks about being frustrated about how long it took him to respond." Who is the tax law specialist? She never mentions his name. Nailing down the specifics was apparently too much reporting for Tamara. If Tamara was referring to IRS official Holly Paz (the IRS's director of rulings and agreements), that's especially sad because Paz's attorney told USA Today's Gregory Korte that Paz has been placed on administrative leave. Korte has the best report on the IRS scandal. He notes Paz insists that "tea party" was, she thought, just short hand and that it could require to any number of groups -- even liberal ones. Is that true?
It's not hard to prove it true or false. Paz states she personally worked on 30 cases. So examine Holly Paz's cases -- are they a split (to any degree) of liberal groups and conservative ones (and are the liberal groups not liberal ones that called out Barack)? If not, Holly Paz lied. Regarding Paz's claims, Korte points out:
But Elizabeth Hofacre, the agency's emerging issues coordinator in Cincinnati when the targeting began, has told investigators that she kicked out any progressive groups that other agents tried to put in with the Tea Party cases. She said she understood the term to mean conservative or Republican groups. "I was tasked to do Tea Parties, and I wasn't — I wasn't equipped or set up to do anything else."
(To AP's Stephen Ohlemacher's credit, he does note that Paz's testimony contradicts what IRS officials have claimed and he leads with that unlike Tamara Keith last week.)
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