Archive for category Unconstitutional

ATF Accuses Ares Armor Of Illegal Gun Sales In Response To Restraining Order

Ares video camera catches the ATF raid

This article comes from the examiner.com

by David Codrea

Also posted on oathkeepers.org

UPDATE (3/15): A video titled “ATF breaks into Ares Armor in National City” has just been posted today to YouTube. This column has now embedded the new video above. Further details will be made known when they become available.

UPDATE 2 (3/15): From Moderno.com

ATF Executes Search Warrants at Ares Armor

According to Jeremy Tuma, the Chief Operating Officer of Ares Armor, the ATF is currently executing search warrants at all Ares Armor locations.

This is from Jeremy’s Instagram page just a few minutes ago.

UPDATE 3 (3/15) from the Instagram page:

Even though they have executed a search warrant, don’t have a computer to look up prices, and are gonna be operating form a calculator, we aren’t going to let this shut us down. THE OCEANSIDE STORE IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS!

ALSO: Dave Workman is working this story today as well. And follow updates from Ares via their Facebook page.

UPDATE 4 (3/16): Get the details the mainstream media has neither the capability nor any intention of bringing you. See Warrant application shows Ares Armor referenced in wider investigation.

District Judge Janis L. Sammartino of the United States District Court, Southern District of California issued an order Friday to prevent Oceanside’s gun parts supplier Ares Armor from divesting itself of inventory and records subject to a temporary restraining order the court issued Tuesday. Also included in the order was notice that the TRO did “not restrain lawful criminal proceedings,” as well as a modification of the briefing schedule ordering “the parties [to] fully address all of the facts and circumstances as alleged by one another.”

Read more here.

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New Snowden Docs Confirm NSA’s Role In Drone Killings

predator-droneThis article was written by Joe Wright and originally published at Activist Post

Also posted at oathkeepers.org

While the world is rightly concerned about the wholesale dragnet spying of citizens across the planet, another program has emerged which shows how “intelligence” gathered by the National Security Agency (NSA) is being used in a lethal manner.

Leaked documents from Edward Snowden in October revealed a secret unit of the NSA that was designed to process the communications of certain targeted individuals.

Chillingly, as detailed in the video below, this intelligence unit actually led to the confirmed death of Hassan Ghul, an alleged associate of Osama bin Laden. Now, however, new documents released by Glenn Greenwald and his new project The Intercept indicate that the targeting of individuals is far less precise than previously believed, leading to incorrect target identification and the documented killing of innocent people.

The NSA continues to assert the benign collection of “metadata” vs. the worry of the general population that actual conversations are swept up in dragnets and listened to. The new report from The Intercept indicates that cell phone metadata collection can have lethal implications:

An anonymous former drone operator for Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) told The Intercept — a new publication helmed by Glenn Greenwald, who broke the first of many NSA revelations last year — that the US military and CIA use the NSA’s metadata analysis and phone-tracking abilities to identify airstrike targets without confirming their veracity on the ground. (Source)

This use of signals intelligence (SIGINT) as opposed to human intelligence ground confirmation (HUMINT), is leading the CIA and military to order strikes based on tracking data alone. Although the source is anonymous, Greenwald states that leaked documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden confirm what the former drone operator is purporting, and is also supported by the testimony from Brandon Bryant, another former drone operator who revealed his identity.

The problems with assigning metadata to human targets are many:

One problem, he explains, is that targets are increasingly aware of the NSA’s reliance on geolocating, and have moved to thwart the tactic. Some have as many as 16 different SIM cards associated with their identity within the High Value Target system. Others, unaware that their mobile phone is being targeted, lend their phone, with the SIM card in it, to friends, children, spouses and family members.

Some top Taliban leaders, knowing of the NSA’s targeting method, have purposely and randomly distributed SIM cards among their units in order to elude their trackers. “They would do things like go to meetings, take all their SIM cards out, put them in a bag, mix them up, and everybody gets a different SIM card when they leave,” the former drone operator says. “That’s how they confuse us.”

As a result, even when the agency correctly identifies and targets a SIM card belonging to a terror suspect, the phone may actually be carried by someone else, who is then killed in a strike. According to the former drone operator, the geolocation cells at the NSA that run the tracking program – known as Geo Cell –sometimes facilitate strikes without knowing whether the individual in possession of a tracked cell phone or SIM card is in fact the intended target of the strike.

“Once the bomb lands or a night raid happens, you know that phone is there,” he says. “But we don’t know who’s behind it, who’s holding it. It’s of course assumed that the phone belongs to a human being who is nefarious and considered an ‘unlawful enemy combatant.’ This is where it gets very shady.”

The former drone operator also says that he personally participated in drone strikes where the identity of the target was known, but other unknown people nearby were also killed.

[...]

As the former JSOC drone operator describes – and as classified documents obtained from Snowden confirm – the NSA doesn’t just locate the cell phones of terror suspects by intercepting communications from cell phone towers and Internet service providers. The agency also equips drones and other aircraft with devices known as “virtual base-tower transceivers” – creating, in effect, a fake cell phone tower that can force a targeted person’s device to lock onto the NSA’s receiver without their knowledge.

That, in turn, allows the military to track the cell phone to within 30 feet of its actual location, feeding the real-time data to teams of drone operators who conduct missile strikes or facilitate night raids.
The NSA geolocation system used by JSOC is known by the code name GILGAMESH. Under the program, a specially constructed device is attached to the drone. As the drone circles, the device locates the SIM card or handset that the military believes is used by the target.

Relying on this method, says the former JSOC drone operator, means that the “wrong people” could be killed due to metadata errors, particularly in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia. “We don’t have people on the ground – we don’t have the same forces, informants, or information coming in from those areas – as we do where we have a strong foothold, like we do in Afghanistan. I would say that it’s even more likely that mistakes are made in places such as Yemen or Somalia, and especially Pakistan.”

As of May 2013, according to the former drone operator, President Obama had cleared 16 people in Yemen and five in Somalia for targeting in strikes. Before a strike is green-lit, he says, there must be at least two sources of intelligence. The problem is that both of those sources often involve NSA-supplied data, rather than human intelligence (HUMINT).

(Must-read full report is here)

The complete lawlessness of the NSA, the drone program, and everything that the military-industrial-surveillance complex is involved with continues to become more obvious with each new revelation.

One can only imagine what comes next.

The injustice being committed overseas is an extreme version that very well could creep into domestic NSA operations if the NSA is not thwarted.

Fortunately, an increasing number of states are asserting their rights to be free of this federal intrusion. Please read the latest from The Tenth Amendment center and the OffNow Coalition, as citizens aim to Nullify the NSA.

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Obama Regime’s Climate Hub Plan Will Help Destroy Small American Farms And Ranches

Climate Hub1This is yet another Agenda 21 program we must watch and defend our communities against. – Shorty Dawkins, Associate Editor for Oath Keepers

This article comes from BlackListedNews.com
Also posted on oathkeepers.org

by Lee Rogers

The Obama regime recently announced that they are establishing seven regional hubs designed to help Americans mitigate the alleged scourge of climate change.  The first climate hubs will be established in Iowa, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Colorado, Oklahoma, Oregon and New Mexico.  Additional subsidiary hubs will be established in Michigan, Puerto Rico and California.  These so-called climate hubs are nothing more than a backdoor way for these authoritarian jackasses to exercise more control over farmers and ranchers.

First off climate change is an invented problem.  The climate is always changing due to the Earth’s cyclical movement within the solar system.  This is why we have seasons and different types of weather throughout the year.  Climate change is not a new phenomenon and it has occurred long before man began running power plants and driving automobiles.  This climate change term is now used because the original propaganda first failed in the 1970s when they said that man-made carbon emissions were responsible for causing global cooling and that we were on the brink of an ice age.  When it became obvious that a new ice age was not going to happen they switched gears and claimed that man-made carbon emissions were responsible for global warming only a few decades later.  So by using a neutral term like climate change it takes the unpredictability of the naturally changing climate out of the equation.  As a result they can now always claim that there is a problem with some sort of human related activity because the climate by default is always changing.  It is some of the most unbelievable bull shit one could imagine yet week minded fools somehow still believe it.

Scientists have even been caught manipulating their own data to fit in with this silly theory.  The reason being is that any science related to this garbage gets government funding.  So it is in the best interest of these scientists to continue promoting this insanity.

So here we have the Obama regime using a phony theory based off of manipulated and biased scientific data to justify the establishment of these so-called climate hubs.  They are claiming the purpose of these climate hubs is to help rural communities affected by climate change.  In reality this is just another power grab by the federal government to exercise control over farmers and ranchers.  Under the guise of helping these people they will soon begin interfering with these operations as part of an effort to put them out of business.  The federal government hates family farmers and ranchers because they represent competition to the big food manufacturers.  Smaller farming and ranching operations do not have the same lobbying influence that the large corporate interests have which is why there is an incentive for the federal government to do these things.  These local farms and ranches also represent a pillar of self sufficiency which is something that the federal government greatly despises.  After all, how can the federal government control all of its slaves if they can grow their own food and refuse to eat the real life equivalent of Soylent Green?

Seriously though, why on earth would farmers or ranchers need the federal government to help them with to deal with changing weather?  These people are already used to dealing with cyclical environmental changes so there is no good reason why these climate hubs are needed.  This is especially true considering that the concept of man-made carbon emissions causing catastrophic changes to the planet have proven to be total nonsense.  It is just an excuse for the federal government to meddle in their affairs.

In addition, the establishment of these climate hubs is an initiative that appears to have come out of the UN’s Agenda 21 plan.  Agenda 21 was a plan developed in the early 1990s to move populations of people from rural areas into large cities under the guise of sustainable development and biodiversity.   This fact alone should make people question the true purpose behind this madness.

Like almost every idea that has originated from the Obama regime, this idea sucks.  There’s no reason for the federal government to involve themselves with farmers and ranchers under the guise of fighting a non-existent problem.  There’s no doubt that these climate hubs will grow into a bureaucracy that will be used to help destroy small farming and ranching operations around America.  This is the real reason why this system is being put into place.  Over time, look for an unending amount of rules, regulations and harassment to originate from these organizations.

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Ready For War: Parks And Wildlife Officers Now Heavily Armed As Military-Style “Force Multipliers”

TexasPatrolThis article was written by Mac Slavo and originally published at SHTFplan.com

Also posted at oathkeepers.org

You best not be a terrorist or homegrown radical extremist hiding out in the boonies of the Texas wilderness, because if you are you may well come face-to-face with the Parks and Wildlife Department’s newest rapid deployment “Scout Team.”

The unit is made up of 25 highly trained game wardens capable of deploying anywhere in the state of Texas within four hours. Armed with AR-15′s, BDU’s, and kevlar helmets, the team’s mission according to the TPWD website involves border operations, dignitary protection or any form of high-risk law enforcement, such as serving felony arrest warrants or hostage situations.

As The Dallas Observer’s Brantley Hargrove notes, “the militarization of every possible law enforcement entity in America is complete.”

[The team] is modeled after what military types call a “force multiplier,” which basically means that these guys can shoot a bunch of bullets.

“We’re steeped in tradition and very mindful of our past,” said special ops chief Grahame Jones. “It’s an important part of who we are, but we have to look to the future.”

And the future is a camo AR. Now, if Texas truly intends to secede, it’s got its own military force ready and waiting. We’ve even got a Navy! TPWD has 564 vessels, including a 65-foot gulf patrol ship, and gunboats mounted with .30 cal machine guns.

Maybe we’re a little paranoid here, but doesn’t it strike you as a bit odd that every possible government related entity in this country – be it federal, state or local – is being heavily armed with assault rifles, weaponized drones and battle wagons?

The Social Security Administration, the IRS, the Federal Reserve, property code enforcement teams, and now Parks and Wildlife are all putting Department of Homeland Security’s multi-billion dollar budget to good use.

What, exactly, are these organizations planning for?

Do they know something big is about to go down?

Or is the intention here to strike fear into the populace by instilling in us that America is now a battlefield and the government is ready to go to war with anyone that stands in its way?

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Reuters: US To Strike Syria Before UN Evidence Collected

rocket attack

This article was written by Tony Cartalucci and originally published at Land Destroyer Report

Also posted at oathkeepers.org

The US has accused the Syrian government of delaying UN inspectors from accessing the site of an alleged chemical weapons attack in Damascus. But now, according to Reuters, the US appears to be preparing to strike Syria militarily before the UN’s now ongoing investigation is concluded and evidence revealed to either support or conflict with the West’s so far baseless allegations.

Reuters’ article, “Syria strike due in days, West tells opposition: sources,” states that:

Western powers told the Syrian opposition to expect a strike against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces within days, according to sources who attended a meeting between envoys and the Syrian National Coalition in Istanbul.

“The opposition was told in clear terms that action to deter further use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime could come as early as in the next few days, and that they should still prepare for peace talks at Geneva,” one of the sources who was at the meeting on Monday told Reuters.

Clearly, such a strike would render moot both the UN inspection team’s investigation and any evidence they may find.

While the US has accused the Syrian government of obstructing an investigation that is indeed already being carried out, the impending US attack would indefinitely end the UN’s efforts. If, as the US reasons, obstructing the UN’s investigation implicates guilt, then the US has just made itself the prime suspect of what is increasingly appearing to be a staged provocation to salvage a proxy war the US and its allies have all but lost.

What “Limited Strikes” Really Means

Before the US and its allies mire the world in another unprovoked military adventure at the cost of thousands, perhaps even millions of lives, the wider strategy behind what the US is calling “limited strikes” should be fully understood.

Much of the West’s proxy war against Syria has been drawn from plans laid by the Brookings Institution versus Iran in a 2009 document titled, “Which Path to Persia?” The report stated:

…it would be far more preferable if the United States could cite an Iranian provocation as justification for the airstrikes before launching them. Clearly, the more outrageous, the more deadly, and the more unprovoked the Iranian action, the better off the United States would be. Of course, it would be very difficult for the United States to goad Iran into such a provocation without the rest of the world recognizing this game, which would then undermine it. (One method that would have some possibility of success would be to ratchet up covert regime change efforts in the hope that Tehran would retaliate overtly, or even semi-overtly, which could then be portrayed as an unprovoked act of Iranian aggression.) -Brookings Institution’s 2009 “Which Path to Persia?” report, pages 84-85.

Clearly those in the West intent on striking Iran (and now Syria) realize both the difficulty of obtaining a plausible justification, and the utter lack of support they have globally to carry out an attack even if they manage to find a suitable pretext. An article recently published in Slate indicates that the approval rating of a proposed assault on Syria is only 9% – making the potential war the most unpopular conflict in American history.

Brookings would continue throughout their 2009 report enumerating methods of provoking Iran, including conspiring to fund opposition groups to overthrow the Iranian government, crippling Iran’s economy, and funding US State Department-listed terrorist organizations to carry deadly attacks within Iran itself.

In Syria, each and every one of these options have also been tried, and have subsequently failed. It was revealed as far back as 2007 that the US was planning on arming and funding terrorists to overthrow the government of Syria, as reported by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his New Yorker article “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?

Starting in 2011, it has become increasing clear that the so-called “freedom fighters” in Syria are in fact terrorists drawn directly from the ranks of Al Qaeda, armed, funded, and otherwise supported by NATO just as was described in Hersh’s 2007 report.

Despite these overt acts of war, and even considering an option to unilaterally conduct limited airstrikes against Iranian and now Syrian targets, Brookings indicated there was still the strong possibility Iran (and now Syria) would not allow itself to be sufficiently provoked:

It would not be inevitable that Iran would lash out violently in response to an American air campaign, but no American president should blithely assume that it would not.

The report continues:

However, because many Iranian leaders would likely be looking to emerge from the fighting in as advantageous a strategic position as possible, and because they would likely calculate that playing the victim would be their best route to that goal, they might well refrain from such retaliatory missile attacks. - Brookings Institution’s 2009 “Which Path to Persia?” report, page 95.

Already, both Turkey’s current government and its regional partner Israel have attacked Syria on numerous occasions with Syria each time exhibiting infinite restraint.

It is then revealed that the term “limited strikes” is a euphemism for “attempted provocations” to intentionally initiate a wider conflict. While the Brookings document refers to Iran, it is clear that if the West is to topple the Syrian government now with its proxy forces already spent, it will have to do so itself with a military campaign exceeding the currently planned “limited strikes.” Additionally, realizing there is virtually no support for a war with either Syria or Iran, special interests across the West are attempting to tangle the world in this lethal conflict by disingenuously proposing, at first, something relatively benign they believe they can get away with even without popular support.

Western special interests hope that a Syrian response and the death of American and/or Israeli troops – perhaps the sinking of a US ship or the loss of multiple US aircraft – will turn the 9% approval rating for their premeditated assault on Syria into an overwhelming baying for blood across the West’s populations. Failing to elicit a response from Syria, this may be accomplished with false flag attacks, as was the case in the Gulf of Tonkin incident at the onset of the Vietnam War.

Understanding that the intentional endangerment and death of US troops and their allied counterparts is part of initiating an otherwise impossible wider war, inoculates much of an already war-weary Western population from the “rally around the flag” effect Western special interests are depending on to re-energize their failed Middle East adventure.

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Criminal Courts Have Quietly Moved From “May” Convict To “Must” Convict Jury Instructions Over The Past 40 Years

JuryBoxThis article was originally published at LewRockwell.com
Also posted at oathkeepers.org

By

August 3, 2013

In 1972, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (known popularly as “the D.C. Circuit”) issued a sharply-split thirty-six-page decision in a case entitled United States v. Dougherty, 473 F.2d 1113 (D.C. Cir. 1972).  The case involved the question of whether federal trial judges are under an obligation to inform jurors of their inherent right to acquit a criminal defendant even if the jury concludes that the government has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant violated a criminal statute.  There is no question that juries have this power of “jury nullification.”  The only question in Dougherty was whether, when or how jurors are to be informed of this prerogative.

The jury instructions given by trial judges have discernibly changed regarding this issue over the course of American history.  In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, it was common for judges to either fully inform juries of their law-vetoing authority or to provide very few instructions of any kind and let juries do as they will, which invited jurors to resolve all questions of both law and fact.  But today most criminal trial judges falsely tell juries that they may only judge the facts and must follow the judges’ interpretations of the law.  For example, if a modern judge determines that a law is constitutional (and almost all modern judges rule that almost all laws are constitutional) the judge will instruct jurors that they may not second-guess his interpretation.  Some jury instructions even suggest to jurors—utterly falsely—that jurors will be breaking the law or may be subject to punishment if they dare to disagree with the judge regarding the law.

Jury instruction practices have varied greatly over time and between jurisdictions, so it is often difficult to make general statements about them.  But as mark of original intent behind the Constitution’s jury-trial provisions, we can look to the jury instructions given by the Chief Justice of the United States in the only jury trial ever recorded with any detail in the chambers of the U.S. Supreme Court.  In Georgia v. Brailsford (1794), Chief Justice John Jay (himself a Framer of the Constitution and coauthor of The Federalist Papers) gave the following instructions to the jury:  “It is presumed, that juries are the best judges of facts; it is, on the other hand, presumed that courts are the best judges of law. But still both objects are within your power of decision… you [juries] have a right to take it upon yourselves to judge both, and to determine the law as well as the fact in controversy.”

These are the only jury instructions regarding juror prerogatives ever recorded as having been delivered by the U.S. Supreme Court.  Of course the Supreme Court is mostly an appellate court with an extremely limited “original” or trial jurisdiction—arising only when suits between states or nations are filed directly in the Court.  It appears that there may have been three jury trials in Supreme Court history (all during the 1790s) and the records are quite paltry regarding two of them.

The Dougherty case began in 1969 when nine pacifist Catholic priests and nuns broke into the D.C. offices of Dow Chemical Corporation to protest the company’s production of Napalm for the Vietnam War.   The “D.C. Nine,” as they came to be known, sang hymns as they poured blood onto various office files.  There were similar antiwar protests being staged elsewhere during the period, including the cases of “the “Catonsville Nine” (who burned draft board files), the “Baltimore Four” (ditto), the “Harrisburg Seven” (tried for mentioning the possible kidnapping of Henry Kissinger in intercepted letters), the “Milwaukee 14” (tried for burning draft records), and the “Harrisburg Seven” (tried for planning to arrest Henry Kissinger for waging an illegal war, after merely meeting to discuss the idea).  These acts of protest, trespassing and civil disobedience (and outright property destruction in some cases) were in vogue among the ardent antiwar left of the time.  (Many of these protests grew from the activism of a single Catholic Priest, the indefatigable Father Philip Berrigan.)

At the time, jury nullification was a keystone in the advocacy of American war protesters.  The great leftist lawyer William Kunstler, director of the ACLU from 1964 to 1972 and a member of the national board of the ACLU for almost thirty years, made an industry out of jury-nullification arguments and authored several articles, including this brilliant law review article, on the topic.  (Note that after Kunstler’s passing, the ACLU has abandoned its support for jury nullification, except where First Amendment issues develop from the persecution of jury-rights activists at courthouses.)

In the Dougherty trial, the D.C. Nine tried to get the judge to inform the jury of their inherent nullification powers.  The trial judge refused, the jury convicted, and the Defendants appealed to the D.C. Circuit.  On the question of whether a judge is under an obligation to fully inform juries about jury nullification, the three judges of the D.C. Circuit split sharply.  Chief Judge Bazelon, one of the highest ranking judges in the federal system, issued a brilliant dissenting opinion explaining why the refusal of the trial judge to fully inform the jury constituted outright deception.  “On remand the trial judge should grant defendants’ request for a nullification instruction,” wrote Bazelon, or “[a]t the very least “permit defendants to argue the question before the jury.”

‘JUDGES WOULD “NEVER” INSTRUCT JURIES THAT THEY “MUST” CONVICT!’

Unfortunately, however, Judge Bazelon was outnumbered by Judges Leventhal and Adams, who held that trial judges are under no obligation to inform jurors of their “unreviewable and unreversible power . . . to acquit.”  The two-judge majority decided that juries did not need to be explicitly informed because the power of jury nullification is implicit in the overall tone of commonly-given jury instructions.

According to Judge Leventhal (with emphasis added):

The jury knows well enough that its prerogative is not limited to the choices articulated in the formal instructions of the court. . . .  Even indicators that would on their face seem too weak to notice — like the fact that the judge tells the jury it must acquit (in case of reasonable doubt) but never tells the jury in so many words that it must convict — are a meaningful part of the jury’s total input. Law is a system, and it is also a language, with secondary meanings that may be unrecorded yet are part of its life.

The problem with Judge leventhal’s 1972 statement is that it is no longer true.  During the 1970s, when Dougherty was decided, the common practice was for judges to use the word “must” only when instructing jurors to acquit when prosecutors fail to establish proof beyond a reasonable doubt.  In contrast, the word “should” was used when instructing jurors about their obligations when prosecutors prove their cases.  But today, many courts have switched to using “must” in both commands.

Thus, a central tenet supporting the opinion of the Dougherty majority—perhaps the lynchpin of the decision—is no longer accurate.  I have sat in courtrooms where judges not only tell juries they “must” convict, but where the judges emphasize the word “must” as they say the word.  In my experience, judges seem especially prone to emphasize “must” in firearm prosecutions, perhaps out of fear that jurors might flirt with considering the Second Amendment as a basis for jury nullification.

The Dougherty ruling—built upon a carefully-analyzed split decision—has been something of the law of the land for forty years.  The decision has been referenced more than 300 times by subsequent judicial opinions.  As federal case law has developed, the Dougherty rule that judges need never inform jurors of their power to veto laws (or the application of laws to specific situations) has become the rule in all thirteen federal circuits.  The Supreme Court has declined to directly address the issue in many years.

But as already discussed, common trial practices now stray markedly from the practices upon which the Dougherty rule was based.  Again, these practices are without sanction in constitutional history, Framers’ intent, or Supreme Court precedent.

Dr. Roger Roots, J.D., Ph.D. [send him mail], is an assistant professor of Criminal Justice at Jarvis Christian College and a member of the advisory board of the Fully Informed Jury Association.

Copyright © 2013 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.

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For Secretive Surveillance Court, Rare Scrutiny In Wake Of NSA Leaks

By Order of the Court

This article comes from the Washington Post.

By Peter Wallsten, Carol D. Leonnig and Alice Crites

Wedged into a secure, windowless basement room deep below the Capitol Visitors Center, U.S. District Court Judge John Bates appeared before dozens of senators earlier this month for a highly unusual, top-secret briefing.

The lawmakers pressed Bates, according to people familiar with the session, to discuss the inner workings of the United States’ clandestine terrorism surveillance tribunal, which Bates oversaw from 2006 until earlier this year.

Bates had rarely spoken of his sensitive work. He reluctantly agreed to appear at the behest of Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who arranged the session after new disclosures that the court had granted the government broad access to millions of Americans’ telephone and Internet communications.

The two-hour meeting on June 13 featuring Bates and two top spy agency officials — prompted by reports days earlier by The Washington Post and Britain’s Guardian newspaper about the vast reach of the programs — reflects a new and uncomfortable reality for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and its previously obscure members. Within the past month, lawmakers have begun to ask who the court’s judges are, what they do, why they have almost never declined a government surveillance request and why their work is so secretive.

The public is getting a peek into the little-known workings of a powerful and mostly invisible government entity. And it is seeing a court whose secret rulings have in effect created a body of law separate from the one on the books — one that gives U.S. spy agencies the authority to collect bulk information about Americans’ medical care, firearms purchases, credit card usage and other interactions with business and commerce, according to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

“The government can get virtually anything,” said Wyden, who as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee is allowed to read many of the court’s classified rulings. “Health, guns, credit cards — my reading is not what has been done, it’s what can be done.”

Read more here.

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Operation Vigilant Eagle: Obama Targets Vets In War On Free Speech

OperationVigilantEagle

This article was written by Pamella Geller and originally published at Freedom Outpost

Obama’s war on our fundamental rights is devastating. The enemedia performs like state-run media and covers for this incredible rout. It is shocking. And in all of these grotesque anti-American maneuvers, Obama and his thugs are always using Orwellian language. ‘Operation Vigilant Eagle’ criminalizes free speech and targets our nation’s best — our vets.

Veterans are being singled out and arrested and labelled as mentally sick for criticizing Obama. Obama created this to stop criticism of him and his administration.

Operation Vigilant Eagle: Is This Really How We Honor Our Nation’s Veterans?
OpEd News (thanks to Laura)

Despite the fact that the U.S. boasts more than 23 million veterans who have served in World War II through Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the plight of veterans today, while often overlooked, is common knowledge: impoverished, unemployed, lacking any decent health benefits, homeless, traumatized mentally and physically, struggling with depression, thoughts of suicide, marital stress.

Making matters worse, thanks to Operation Vigilant Eagle, a program launched by the Department of Homeland Security in 2009, military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are also being characterized as extremists and potential domestic terrorist threats because they may be “disgruntled, disillusioned or suffering from the psychological effects of war.” As a result, these servicemen and women–many of whom are decorated–are finding themselves under surveillance, threatened with incarceration or involuntary commitment, or arrested, all for daring to voice their concerns about the alarming state of our union and the erosion of our freedoms.
“Jailed for Facebook comments, Marine suesWND.com

‘Case exposes government system that is targeting military veterans’

It happens in China routinely. It frequently happened in the old Soviet Union. Undoubtedly in North Korea, although generally there’s no one around to witness it. But in the United States? It happens here, too, apparently.

A lawsuit has been filed by officials with the Rutherford Institute on behalf of a Marine who was jailed and held for the comments he made on Facebook – comments that expressed a dissatisfaction with the present direction of the U.S. government.

According to officials at Rutherford, the civil rights action names as defendants members of law enforcement and the government who were involved in last year’s episode where Marine veteran Brandon Raub, 27, was arrested by a swarm of FBI and Secret Service and forcibly detained in a psychiatric ward for a week.

His crime was posting controversial song lyrics and political views on Facebook, the institute reported.

In one of his postings, he cited the evil in the world.

“The United States was meant to lead the charge against injustice, but through our example not our force. People do not respond to having liberty and freedom forced on them,” he wrote.

He was released later when a judge stepped in and concluded the prosecution’s case against Raub was “so devoid of any factual allegations that it could not be reasonably expected to give rise to a case or controversy.”

The lawsuit asks for damages for Raub for the attack he endured. It was filed in U.S. District Court in Richmond, Va., and claims Raub’s seizure and detention were part of a plan executed by the Obama administration called “Operation Vigilant Eagle.”

That, the institute explains, was a federal program to do surveillance on military veterans who express views critical of the government.

Institute attorneys claim the attempt to label Raub as “mentally ill” and authorities’ efforts to involuntarily commit him into custody was intended to silence his criticism of the government. However, they explain the strategy also violated Raub’s First and Fourth Amendment rights.

“Since coming to Raub’s defense, The Rutherford Institute has been contacted by military veterans across the country recounting similar incidents. In filing a civil suit against government officials, Rutherford Institute attorneys plan to take issue with the manner in which Virginia’s civil commitment statutes are being used to silence individuals engaged in lawfully exercising their free speech rights,” the organization said.

“Brandon Raub’s case exposed the seedy underbelly of a governmental system that is targeting military veterans for expressing their discontent over America’s rapid transition to a police state,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute.

“Brandon Raub is not the first veteran to be targeted for speaking out against the government. Hopefully, by holding officials accountable, we can ensure that Brandon is the last to suffer in this way.”

It was last Aug, 16 when Chesterfield police, Secret Service and FBI agents arrived at Raub’s home and asked to talk with him about his Facebook posts.

“Like many Facebook users, Raub, a Marine who has served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, uses his Facebook page to post song lyrics and air his political opinions. Without providing any explanation, levying any charges against Raub or reading him his rights, law enforcement officials handcuffed Raub and transported him to police headquarters, then to John Randolph Medical Center, where he was held against his will,” the Institute reported.

“In a hearing on Aug. 20, government officials pointed to Raub’s Facebook posts as the reason for his incarceration. While Raub stated that the Facebook posts were being read out of context, a Special Justice ordered Raub be held up to 30 more days for psychological evaluation and treatment.”

When Circuit Court Judge Allan Sharrett, however, found out about the case, he ordered it dismissed and Raub released, because there was no evidence of a case.

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‘Common Core’ Nationalizes And Dumbs Down Public School Curriculum

EducationIndoctrination

This article was written by Ron Paul and originally published at Lew Rockwell

In addition to shredding civil liberties, launching a utopian global war for democracy, and going on a spending spree that would make LBJ blush, the so-called “conservative” Bush administration dramatically increased federal control over education via the “No Child Left Behind” act. During my time in Congress I heard nothing but complaints about this law from teachers, administrators, and, most importantly, students and parents. Most of the complaints concerned No Child Left Behind’s testing requirements, which encouraged educators to “teach to the test.”

Sadly, but not surprisingly, instead of improving education by repealing No Child Left Behind’s testing and other mandates, the Obama administration is increasing national control over schools via the “Common Core” initiative. Common Core is a new curriculum developed by a panel of so-called education experts. The administration is trying to turn Common Core into a national curriculum by offering states increased federal education funding if they impose Common Core’s curriculum on their public schools. This is yet another example of the government using money stolen from the people to bribe states into obeying federal dictates.

Critics of Common Core say it “dumbs down” education by replacing traditional English literature with “informational texts”. So students will read such inspiring materials as studies by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the EPA’s “Recommended Levels of Insulation,” and “Invasive Plant Inventory” by California’s Invasive Plant Council. It is doubtful that reading federal reports will teach students the habits of critical thinking and skepticism of government that the Founders considered essential to maintaining a free republic.

Like Obamacare, Common Core (now dubbed “ObamaCore” by some) has sparked a backlash in the states, leading some to propose legislation forbidding state participation in the scheme. I hope these efforts lead to states not just opting out of Common Core, but out of No Child Left Behind and all other federal education programs as well.

Parents can also effectively “opt out” of programs like Common Core by seeking alternatives to government education. It is no coincidence that, as federal control over education increases, the quality of public education has declined and more parents have chosen to homeschool.

To support these parents, I have established my own homeschool curriculum. Unlike Common Core, we do not dumb down any of our offerings. Instead, the goal is to provide students with a rigorous education in history, math, English, foreign languages, and other core subjects necessary to a well-rounded education. Unlike the top-down model of nationalized education, the homeschool curriculum is deigned to encourage maximum input from parents and students. While the curriculum will reflect my belief, and interest, in Austrian economics, libertarian political theory, and the history of the struggle against state power, the curriculum is being carefully designed to not show bias toward any one religion. I hope all parents of any faith – or no religious belief at all – will feel comfortable using the curriculum.

I believe it is important for those of us concerned with education and liberty to fight our battles locally. We must oppose further encroachment on the autonomy of local public schools and work to roll-back existing interference, while encouraging and supporting the growth of homeschooling and other alternative education movements. The key to restoring quality education is to replace the bureaucratic control of education with a free-market in education. Parents should have the freedom to select the type of education that best suits their child’s unique needs.

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Statists Use Twisted Logic To Attack The Bill Of Rights

war is peace

This article was written by Brandon Smith and originally published at Alt-Market.com
Also posted at oathkeepers.org

In the war for the continued existence of our Nation’s Constitutional principles, I had long wondered whether statists were simply confounded by the Bill of Rights and ignorant of its function or whether they were maliciously inclined, knowing exactly what it means but seeking its destruction anyway. In recent years, I have decided it is a combination of both faults.

Statists are people who view every aspect of society through the lens of government power. If you want to know the primary difference between Constitutionalists and anti-Constitutionalists, you have to understand that some people in this world only want control over their own lives, while other people desperately clamor for control over other people’s lives. Why do they do this? Usually, it’s fear. Fear of the persistent unknowns in life. Fear that they do not have the intelligence or the will to take responsibility for their own futures. Fear that they will be forced to take care of themselves. Fear that their ideologies will be found lacking. Fear that if others are allowed freedom, they will one day indirectly suffer for it.

This fear makes statists easy to manipulate by the establishment and easy to use as a tool for the expansion of government dominance. Because statists are so weak-minded and fainthearted, they become very comfortable with the idea of other people making their decisions for them; and they will always attempt to answer every perceived problem with more government control.

When confronted with a proponent of liberty, the statist typically reels in horror. He has so invested himself in bureaucracy that he sees himself as a part of it. To attack the bureaucracy is to attack him. To deny the validity of the bureaucracy is to deny the validity of his existence. His very personality and ego are tied to the machine, so he will spit and rage against anyone who refuses to conform. This is why it is not uncommon at all to find a wild collection of logical fallacies within the tirades of the average statist. Statists act as though they are driven by reason; but in reality, they are driven by seething bias.

A perfect example of this insanity is the article “There Are No Absolute Rights,” published by The Daily Beast.

Let’s first be clear about the kind of rag we are dealing with. The Daily Beast was launched by Tina Brown, a former editor of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker who was also a British citizen until 2005. I would say she’s a kind of female Piers Morgan. For anyone who might take that as a compliment, trust me; it isn’t. Brown and Morgan are European collectivists who immigrated to America just to tell us how our Constitutionally conservative heritage of independence is outdated; meanwhile, the EU is in the shambles of failed socialism. We used to drive such people into the ocean, and now they breathe our oxygen while telling us what is politically “fashionable.”

In 2010, The Daily Beast merged with Newsweek, a magazine notorious for its statist crush on the Federal government (and now out of print). To say that The Daily Beast is a socialist platform and a mouthpiece for the Administration of President Barack Obama is an understatement, but I would point out that the website also tends to agree with politicians and judges on the right that also promote a “living document” interpretation of the Constitution. Whether right or left, if you believe that the Bill of Rights is up for constant interpretation and revision or outright destruction, then you are the bee’s knees in the eyes of The Beast.

The article focuses on gun rights and how silly conservatives foolishly cling to the idea that some lines in the sand should never be crossed in terms of personal freedom. In a rather mediocre and rambling analysis, The Beast uses two primary arguments to qualify this stance, essentially asserting that:

      1) Compromises have already been made to the Bill of Rights; therefore, nothing is sacred.

      2) Even some Republicans agree with compromises to the Bill of Rights when it comes to other Amendments, so why are we being so childish about “reinterpreting” the 2nd Amendment?

First, the revisionist methodology of the Bill of Rights consistently ignores the history of its writing. The colonists and Founding Fathers of our Nation, having successfully triumphed in a bloody revolution against what many then considered the most advanced elitist military empire on Earth, had absolutely no trust whatsoever in the concept of centralized government. Many of the colonials were anti-Federalists who believed that an overly powerful central government was a threat to future liberty. They felt that an immovable and unchangeable legal shield had to be created in order to ensure that a tyrannical system never prevailed again.

Thomas Jefferson said:

“[A] bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse.”

This statement includes modern governments as well. Technological advancement does not change the rules surrounding timeless inherent moral principles, as much as statists would like to argue otherwise.

The colonials demanded the inclusion of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution as a prerequisite for the establishment of the Federal government. This means that the Federal government owes its entire existence to a very strict agreement made on the Bill of Rights. By extension, if the Bill of Rights is politically diluted or denied, then the legitimacy of the Federal government must also be denied, for it has violated the very charter that gave it life.

The writer of the article, Michael Tomasky, lists numerous transgressions against our Constitutional protections; but he does not do so in the spirit of activism. Rather, he lists them as examples of how “compromise” on our freedoms is necessary (or somehow inevitable) in the name of the collective good. He claims Republicans are perfectly willing to sacrifice certain liberties, like freedom of speech, privacy or even Miranda rights, in the name of political expediency.

I wholeheartedly agree that our civil liberties have been whittled away by the establishment. I also agree that many so-called Republicans have betrayed the founding values of our culture and even voted to diminish or destroy the 2nd Amendment. But let’s think hard about the faulty logic behind Tomansky’s position. Do two wrongs or hundreds of wrongs really make a right? Tomansky is saying that because we have failed as a society to fully protect our freedoms and because our government has been successful in criminally neglecting them, we should simply give in and relinquish all freedom.

He would respond to this accusation by claiming that he is not calling for the relinquishment of all liberties, only the liberties he thinks are dangerous to society. The problem is, that is not how the Constitution was designed. Amendments can be made, yes. But amendments contrary to the Bill of Rights are not Constitutional as per the original agreement made after the revolution. The Bill of Rights was meant to be sacrosanct, untouchable — period. No Federal law, no State law and no Amendment can be enforced that violates those protections. The Bill of Rights was not created as a rule book for what the people can do; it was created as a rule book for what government cannot do. Once you remove hard fast restrictions like the Bill of Rights from the picture, you give the government license to make its own rules. That is how tyranny is born.

As far as Republican attacks on the Constitution are concerned, Tomasky has obviously never heard of the false left/right paradigm. He finds solace in the totalitarian actions of neocons because neocons are not conservative; they are statists, just like him. Ultimately, there is no right or left. Only freedom and decentralization, or slavery and collectivism. There are those who revel in control, and those who rebel against control. The rest of the debate is nonsense and distraction.

Tomsky opines: “Imagine what conservatives would think of a group of liberals who insisted, while threatening an insurrection, on a pure and absolute interpretation of the Fourth or Sixth Amendment–and imagine how ridiculous they would look to average Americans.”

Actually, any true conservative would be standing right beside those liberals, as many of us in the liberty movement have done in the past in activism against the transgressions of fake conservatives like George W. Bush or Mitt Romney, with his dismal anti-Constitution voting record. Frankly, who cares what “average Americans” think about our battle for what is right? Does Tomasky base all of his personal convictions on what happens to be popular at the moment? I think so.

What statists also don’t seem to comprehend is that there is a factor in the fight over Constitutional law that goes far beyond the Constitution itself.

The Constitution, as a document, is not what we as Americans and human beings obtain our rights from. The Constitution is only a written representation of the inborn freedoms derived from natural law and inherent conscience. We are born with a sense of liberty and that includes a right to self-defense from any enemy, foreign or domestic. No amount of political gaming, twisted rationalizations or intellectual idiocy is ever going to change these pre-existing rights.

Tomasky insists that: “[T]he idea that any right is unrestricted is totally at odds with history, the law, and reality.”

He uses the tired argument that some restrictions on personal liberty, including restrictions on gun rights, are “reasonable” given the circumstances of the times. And, it only follows that he and other statists should be the ones to decide what is reasonable.

I disagree, along with millions of other Americans; and believe me, this is a serious problem for statists. If Tomasky and The Daily Beast want to impose their collective worldview on the rest of us and dismantle our individual freedoms guaranteed in natural law and the Bill of Rights, then I’m afraid they’ll have to fight us for them. In the end, legal precedence is irrelevant. Political precedence is irrelevant. Political party is irrelevant. Historical precedence is irrelevant. The theater of words is irrelevant. Statists need to understand that there is no alternative. There is no “silver bullet” argument that will make us forget what is fundamentally true. There is no juxtaposition of logic that will muddle our resolve or confuse our principles. Some rights are indeed absolute; and we will not yield them, ever. The statist “reality” is a far cry from what actually is; and soon, I’m afraid, they will learn this lesson the hard way.

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