Category: Privacy


first they came with Obama logo

UPDATED (5/24/13)

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Holder OK’d search warrant for Fox News reporter’s private emails, official says

” …Attorney General Eric Holder signed off on a controversial search warrant that identified Fox News reporter James Rosen as a “possible co-conspirator” in violations of the Espionage Act and authorized seizure of his private emails, a law enforcement official told NBC News on Thursday…

Holder previously said he recused himself from the AP subpoena because he had been questioned as a witness in the underlying investigation into a leak about a foiled bomb plot in Yemen. His role in personally approving the Rosen search warrant had not been previously reported…

The affidavit states that FBI agents had tracked Rosen’s entrances and exits of the State Department in order to show that they had coincided with Kim’s movements. Based on that and other findings, the affidavit by FBI Agent Reginald B. Reyes, stated, “There is probable cause to believe that the Reporter has committed a violation” of the Espionage Act “at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator of Mr. Kim.”

It also said that Google was specifically instructed not to notify “the subscriber” — Rosen — that his emails were being seized.

In new documents disclosed Thursday, the Justice Department sought and obtained approval to keep the search warrant, which was approved by a federal magistrate, under seal. It was unsealed in November 2011, but never made a part of the docket of Kim’s case and went unnoticed until this week…”

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Expert: Lois Lerner Didn’t Waive Her Right to Plead the Fifth

” … Gowdy’s outraged objection was met with applause in the courtroom. But James Duane, a Fifth Amendment expert at Regent University, says Gowdy’s claim was “extremely imaginative” but “mistaken.”

Had this been an actual criminal trial, in an actual courtroom, and had Lerner been an actual defendant, then yes, it would not have been permissible for her to testify in her own defense and then refuse cross-examination on Fifth Amendment grounds. But a congressional hearing is not a criminal trial in two important ways, Duane tells Daily Intelligencer.

First, unlike in a trial, where she could choose to take the stand or not, Lerner had no choice but to appear before the committee. Second, in a trial there would be a justifiable concern about compromising a judge or jury by providing them with “selective, partial presentation of the facts.” But Congress is merely pursuing information as part of an investigation, not making a definitive ruling on Lerner’s guilt or innocence.

“When somebody is in this situation,” says Duane, a Harvard Law graduate whose 2008 lecture on invoking the Fifth Amendment with police has been viewed on YouTube nearly 2.5 million times, “when they are involuntarily summoned before grand jury or before legislative body, it is well settled that they have a right to make a ‘selective invocation,’ as it’s called, with respect to questions that they think might raise a meaningful risk of incriminating themselves.”

In fact, Duane says, “even if Ms. Lerner had given answers to a few questions — five, ten, twenty questions — before she decided, ‘That’s where I draw the line, I’m not answering any more questions,’ she would be able to do that as well.” Such uses of selective invocation “happen all the time.”…”

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The IRS wants YOU — to share everything

“… The Internal Revenue Service asked tea party groups to see donor rolls.  It asked for printouts of Facebook posts. And it asked what books people were reading.  A POLITICO review of documents from 11 tea party and conservative groups that the IRS scrutinized in 2012 shows the agency wanted to know everything — in some cases, it even seemed curious what members were thinking. The review included interviews with groups or their representatives from Hawaii, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas and elsewhere.

The long-awaited Treasury Department inspector general report released Tuesday says the agency itself decided some of its questions to conservative groups were way over the line — especially the one about donors. The Internal Revenue Service asked tea party groups to see donor rolls. It asked for printouts of Facebook posts…

Some of the letters asked for copies of the groups’ Web pages, blog posts and social media postings — making some tea party members worry they’d be punished for their tweets or Facebook comments by their followers. And each letter had a stern warning about “penalties of perjury” — which became intimidating for groups that were being asked about future activities, like future donations or endorsements. In one instance, the American Patriots Against Government Excess was asked to provide summaries or copies of all material passed out at meetings. The group had been reading “The 5000 Year Leap” by Cleon Skousen and the U.S. Constitution…”

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Obama High-Fives IRS with $92 Million in Bonuses

“… Next we find out that during the four year period between 2009 and 2012 more than $92 million in bonuseswere handed out by IRS executives to thousands of tax agency employees.  These bonuses were mostly given out to managers and executives for “performance based incentives”.

So let me get this straight.  These people were paid a salary by the taxpayers, and then given a bonus by the taxpayers to reward them for harassing and intimidating the taxpayers.  Ok, got it.  There are over 97,000 employees of the IRS, 16,910 of them got some sort of bonus for “a job well done”.  The largest bonus went to former IRS Commissioner Richard E. Byrd who received $60,270.

Digging a little deeper we find out that Lois Lerner, the woman who told us publicly that her agency was improperly singling out conservative and other groups including religious organizations, received more than $42,000 in bonuses over that four year period.  She ADMITTED wrongdoing and yet was rewarded once again with OUR money!

But the best is yet to come.  Sarah Hall Ingram who was in charge of tax-exempt organizations while the Tea Party and conservative groups were being targeted has conveniently been relocated within the IRS and now is in charge of the IRS office responsible for overseeing Obamacare.  Promoted for a job well done!  Joseph Grant, the executive who seems to be the one taking the fall for Ingram during that time is now resigning his post. He took over for Ingram when she was promoted.  During the years 2010-2012 he received three bonuses totaling $83,950 in addition to his salary of $177,000.  Job well done Joe!

During the years that Ingram was overseeing the tax-exempt division she received bonuses totaling $103,390 in addition to her salary which was raised from $172,500 to $177,000 during that time.  In 2009 she received $7,000 in bonus money:   (I guess she was just having her people gather names.)  In 2010 it ramped up to $34,440.  (Must be when the IRS agents started harassing their targets.)  She took home an extra $35,400 in 2011, (delay, delay, and delay those applications for conservative groups.)  0 conservative groups with Tea Party or 9/12 in their name were approved for tax-exempt status in 2011 therefore, she receives a huge bonus.  Then in 2012 she received a $26,550 bonus.  She probably got less that year because the Tea Party groups had been stopped and the election was in November.  The damage had been done and she reaped the rewards.

Mission accomplished.  The IRS succeeded in shutting down the opposition and they were all high-fived and handsomely rewarded…”

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Obama and the IRS: The Smoking Gun?

“For me, it’s about collaboration.” — National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley on the relationship between the anti-Tea Party IRS union and the Obama White House…

According to the White House Visitors Log, provided here in searchable form by U.S. News and World Report, the president of the anti-Tea Party National Treasury Employees Union, Colleen Kelley, visited the White House at 12:30pm that Wednesday noon time of March 31st…

The very next day after her White House meeting with the President, according to the Treasury Department’s Inspector General’s Report, IRS employees — the same employees who belong to the NTEU — set to work in earnest targeting the Tea Party and conservative groups around America…”

Barack Obama’s Executive Order 13522 – And The IRS Scandal

“… As part of the directives under Executive Order 13522, agency heads are to engage union bosses in “pre-decisional discussions” before decisions are made–and those discussions are to be in secret and outside the purview of the Freedom of Information Act:

“Pre-decisional discussions, by their nature, should be conducted confidentially among the parties to the discussions. This confidentiality is an essential ingredient in building the environment of mutual trust and respect necessary for the honest exchange of views and collaboration.”…”

WaPo: IRS targeting of Tea Party, conservative groups also in Washington office

“… The story told by Lois Lerner in Friday’s IRS apology continues to fall apart faster than Al Capone’s audit defense.  Last night, the Washington Post revealed that the effort to target opponents of the Obama administration was not limited to just one office in Cincinnati, but encompassed three other offices as well — one of which was IRS headquarters in Washington DC…

The story told by Lois Lerner in Friday’s IRS apology continues to fall apart faster than Al Capone’s audit defense.  Last night, the Washington Post revealed that the effort to target opponents of the Obama administration was not limited to just one office in Cincinnati, but encompassed three other offices as well — one of which was IRS headquarters in Washington DC…

Let’s raise a red flag on the Shulman claim.  It’s very convenient for Shulman to claim now that he was briefed in May 2012, because he testified twice in March 2012 that nothing of this sort was happening at the IRS.  However, the IRS chief counsel — the top attorney in the organization — was informed in August 2011 of this targeting.  Just how likely would it have been that Shulman’s chief lawyer would have failed to mention this for nine months, and waited to brief him on it until Shulman was almost out the door?  I’d call that extremely unlikely, and even putting that aside, it still leaves the question of why Shulman never bothered to let anyone know about it, even as a private citizen.

Clearly, this strategy was no isolated incident. Four separate offices spread far across the country worked to put this targeting in place against the political opponents of the White House.  That alone smacks of higher-level coordination, at either the IRS Commissioner level or above.  The fact that it took place in the IRS’ Washington headquarters also shows that it was no rogue effort that ran wild due to lack of supervision.  This was purposeful…”                                                            –Ed Morrissey – Hotair

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Revealed: The 55 questions the IRS asked one tea party group after more than two years of waiting – including demands for names of all its donors and volunteers

“… The Internal Revenue Service wrote to the Richmond Tea Party last year demanding to know the names of all its financial donors and volunteers, as part of a 55-question inquisition into its application for tax-exempt status, MailOnline has learned.

The agency wanted to know ‘the names of the donors, contributors, and grantors’ for every year ‘from inception to the present.’ It also demanded ‘the amounts of each of the donations, contributions, and grants and the dates you received them.’ ‘How did you use these donations, contributions, and grants?’ the IRS asked. ‘Provide the details.’

And in addition to the names of board members, officers and employees, the nation’s taxing authorities insisted on knowing the names of everyone who helped the Richmond Tea Party without compensation. ‘Please identify your volunteers,’ the January 9, 2012 letter from the IRS read.  The agency also required the Virginia conservative group to provide copies of sections of its website that only its members can access.

And in addition to the names of board members, officers and employees, the nation’s taxing authorities insisted on knowing the names of everyone who helped the Richmond Tea Party without compensation. ‘Please identify your volunteers,’ the January 9, 2012 letter from the IRS read. The agency also required the Virginia conservative group to provide copies of sections of its website that only its members can access.

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The IRS ultimately identified approximately 300 such organizations, many of which were independently organized in 2009 and 2010 under the larger ‘tea party’ banner. Those groups had a decisive impact in the 2010 midterm congressional elections, and became a thorn in the side of the Democratic party, costing it race after race, especially in the House of Representatives, which shifted to Republican control.

In the nearly three years since the IRS began looking more closely at conservative nonprofit groups than others, 125 of the 300 target organizations have been approved for tax-exempt status. Another 25 withdrew their applications. The remainder are still waiting.

The Office of Inspector General’s timeline shows that in Washington, senior officials with the IRS were made aware of the practice by at least August 4, 2011. On that date, the chief counsel of the IRS met with the agency’s Rulings and Agreements unit ‘so that everyone would have the latest information on the issue.’

But during a press gaggle about Air Force One on Monday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney insisted the White House was unaware of the investigation or its political implications until last month.

‘My understanding,’ Carney told reporters while en route to New York City for the president’s appearance at political fundraising events, ‘is that the White House Counsel’s Office was alerted in the week of April 22nd of this year, only about the fact that the IG was finishing a review about matters involving the office in Cincinnati.  But that’s all they were informed as a normal sort of heads-up.’

‘And we have never – we don’t have access to, nor should we, the IG’s report or any draft versions of it.’ Asked whether heads would roll at the IRS if the IG’s report concludes that there was substantial wrongdoing, Carney was cautious.

‘I think you’re getting ahead of it,’ he told a reporter, according to a transcript released by the White House. ‘I think you heard from the President on this today and how he feels about it.  But the “if” is very important, so we’re not going to start predicting outcomes if we don’t know what the conclusions of the IG report are.’

The Washington Post reported on Friday that the IRS has apologized for its practices, which sought to scrutinize conservative nonprofit groups ‘that criticized the government and sought to educate Americans about the U.S. Constitution.’

In early 2012 a group of tea party organizations refused the IRS’s requests for what they considered overreaching information about their operations, instead asking the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee to investigate. That committee wrote in June 2012 to the IRS inspector general, asking for ‘periodic updates’ on its investigation.

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California Republican Rep. Darrel Issa, who chairs the committee, has promised it will ‘aggressively follow up’ on the IG’s findings. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said in a statement Friday that the IRS ‘cannot target or intimidate any individual or organization based on their political beliefs.’

‘The House will investigate this matter,’ Cantor promised. Add appearing on the Fox News Channel on Sunday, Michigan Republican Rep. Mike Rogers said the IRS had ‘agents who were engaged in intimidation of political groups.’ ‘I don’t care if you’re a conservative, a liberal, a Democrat or a Republican,’ he said. ‘This should send a chill up your spine. It needs to have a full investigation.’

President Obama echoed that sentiment during a press conference on Monday, sayign any IRS personnel who played political favorites ‘have to be held fully accountable. … And you should feel that way regardless of party. I don’t care whether you’re a Democrat, independent or a Republican.’

‘At some point, there are going to be Republican administrations. At some point, there are going to be Democratic ones. Either way,’ the president said, ‘you don’t want the IRS ever being perceived to be biased and anything less than neutral in terms of how they operate.’

Richmond Tea Party Executive Director Larry Nordvig did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But in 2012 his organization lashed out at the IRS for making ‘unreasonable documentation requests.’

‘This illustrates everything the American people find unacceptable from their government,’ the group said in a press release. ‘A simple request for tax-exempt status should not take years to complete, involve hundreds of pages of documentation, require hundreds of volunteer hours, and request private information we should never have to disclose.’

‘This grants the Federal Government the dangerous power to selectively stymie those voices with which they disagree, bogging them down in endless paperwork and compliance costs so that they are unable to spend time serving the principles they founded their organization to advance.’

The Virginia organization said it applied for 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status on December 28, 2009 and waited nearly 10 months for a response, which consisted of 17 questions and a two-week deadline. That demand was made on the opening day of the Virginia Tea Party Convention, which the Richmond Tea Party organized in large part.

‘We fully complied,’ the group wrote, ‘providing over 500 pages of documentation. We received no response for over a year. Eventually the IRS sent a letter dated January 9, 2012, thanking us for our “complete and thorough responses” from the first request,’ but then asking 55 more questions in 12 parts – ‘including the totally inappropriate request for a full list of our donors and volunteers. We were given the same two-week timeframe for completion.’

Alan P. Dye, a nonprofit attorney with the Washington, D.C. firm of Webster, Chamberlain & Bean, told MailOnline that he represents six tea party groups that have been waiting for periods of up to 30 months for the IRS to issue rulings.

‘They’re very pissed off,’ he said, ‘and they have every right to be pissed off.’…”

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Wider Problems Found at IRS

“… The IRS said over the weekend it is in the process of independently confirming the dates mentioned on the timeline of events contained in the inspector general report, “but we believe the [inspector general’s] timeline is correct.” The IRS said the report supports its view that its missteps weren’t politically motivated and were limited to lower-level workers.

The IRS also said the report reflects that “IRS senior leadership was not aware of this level of specific details” at the time of a March 2012 hearing where Mr. Shulman denied any targeting of conservative groups. Mr. Shulman, who no longer works for the IRS, declined to comment.

The new details suggest that agency workers were examining statements in applications for tax-exempt status to determine whether groups had political leanings.

Tax-exempt social-welfare groups organized under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code are allowed to engage in some political activity, but the primary focus of their efforts must remain promoting social welfare. That social-welfare activity can include lobbying and advocating for issues and legislation, but not outright political-campaign activity. But some of the rules leave room for IRS officials to make judgment calls and probe individual groups for further information.

Organizing as such a group is desirable, not just because such entities typically don’t have to pay taxes, but also because they generally don’t have to identify their donors.

IRS officials said last week that the focused review of conservative groups was initiated by lower-level civil servants in the IRS Cincinnati office, not by political appointees in Washington, and that it wasn’t politically motivated. They say it stemmed from a misguided effort to centralize review of a growing number of applications for tax-exempt 501(c)(4) status. But questions continued to swirl about the failure of IRS officials to disclose the problems until the inspector general’s report was about to become public.

The timeline contained in the draft report indicates that IRS scrutiny of tea-party and other conservative groups began as early as 2010 and came to the attention of Ms. Lerner, the head of the tax-exempt-organizations division, at least by the following year.

The report’s timeline indicates that the criteria were changed to be more neutral in July 2011 after Ms. Lerner “raised concerns.” The criteria for heightened scrutiny continued to evolve over the next year or so, even as complaints from tea-party groups—and questions from GOP lawmakers—mounted over IRS inquiries to various groups about their activities.

Letters from Ms. Lerner in April and May 2012 responding to questions by Republican lawmakers made no mention of the problems that had surfaced in the IRS unit. According to the draft report, on April 24 and 25 of last year, officials in Ms. Lerner’s office were reviewing “troubling questions” that had been asked of organizations, including “the names of donors.”

Ms. Lerner’s April 26 letter to Mr. Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said that “there are instances where donor information may be needed…such as when the application presents possible issues of…private benefit.”

The report indicates that in 2010 and 2011, some IRS workers weren’t just singling out groups because their names contained certain words, as IRS officials suggested on Friday, but appeared to be probing for indications of political interests or leanings.

According to the report, by June 2011 some IRS specialists were probing applications using the following criteria: “issues include government spending, government debt or taxes; education of the public by advocacy/lobbying to ‘make America a better place to live’; statements in the case file criticize how the country is being run.”…”

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IRS faces class action lawsuit over theft of 60 million medical records

“… The Internal Revenue Service is now facing a class action lawsuit over allegations that it improperly accessed and stole the health records of some 10 million Americans, including medical records of all California state judges.

According to a report by Courthousenews.com, an unnamed HIPAA-covered entity in California is suing the IRS, alleging that some 60 million medical records from 10 million patients were stolen by 15 IRS agents. The personal health information seized on March 11, 2011, included psychological counseling, gynecological counseling, sexual/drug treatment and other medical treatment data.

“This is an action involving the corruption and abuse of power by several Internal Revenue Service agents,” the complaint reads. “No search warrant authorized the seizure of these records; no subpoena authorized the seizure of these records; none of the 10,000,000 Americans were under any kind of known criminal or civil investigation and their medical records had no relevance whatsoever to the IRS search.

IT personnel at the scene, a HIPPA facility warning on the building and the IT portion of the searched premises, and the company executives each warned the IRS agents of these privileged records,” it continued.   According to the case, the IRS agents had a search warrant for financial data pertaining to a former employee of the John Doe company, however, “it did not authorize any seizure of any healthcare or medical record of any persons, least of all third parties completely unrelated to the matter,” the complaint read.

The class action lawsuit against the IRS seeks $25,000 in compensatory damages “per violation per individual” in addition to punitive damages for constitutional violations.  Thus, compensatory damages could start at a minimum of $250 billion…”

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EXCLUSIVE: McConnell: IRS Revelations ‘Just The Beginning’

On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) fired back on assertions by the IRS that its efforts to target conservative groups were relegated to low-level employees. “Of course not,” he told Breitbart News. McConnell noted that he had raised the issue of IRS targeting of conservatives in 2012, and further noted that the Washington Post “dismissed it as a bunch of red herrings.”

The scandal, McConnell said, extends up the chain. “The Obama effort to shut up opponents isn’t limited to the IRS,” he stated. “It applies to the FCC [Federal Communications Commission], SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission], FEC [Federal Elections Commission], HHS [Department of Health and Human Services] …. And you remember, the Obama campaign last year published a list of eight businessmen who it believed were enemies.”

McConnell further noted reports that the Department of Health and Human Services had been contacting businesses “skeptical about the implementation of Obamacare and asking them to contribute money to sell the program to the American people. That’s absolutely improper if not illegal. This administration will stop at nothing to get its way. It will do anything it can to silence its critics.”

McConnell said would not trust any Democrat-led investigation into the IRS scandal. He added with regard to a House investigation of the IRS’ activities, “I’m confident they will do it in the way in which it ought to be conducted, with a high level of skepticism about an agency trying to silence the critics of the Obama administration.”

He also added that the recent IRS revelations were “just the beginning of the story. This is no little thing. This is a big thing. The good news about it is they finally got caught. They finally messed with an agency everybody fully understands. When they try to quiet the critics through other agencies, it doesn’t get attention. This does. Everybody understands the IRS and how powerful they are. This is just one example of an administration-wide effort to silence critics.”

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Document: IRS ordered conservative educational group to turn over a list of high school and college students it trained

“… When a Tennessee lawyer asked the IRS for tax-exempt status for a mentoring group that trained high school and college students about conservative political philosophy, the agency responded with a list of 95 questions in 31 parts, including an ultimatum for a list of everyone the group had trained, or planned to train. ‘Provide details regarding all training you have provided or will provide,’ the IRS demanded. ‘Indicate who has received or will receive the training and submit copies of the training material.’ That question was part of the tax collection agency’s February 14, 2012 letter to Kevin Kookogey. founder of the group Linchpins of Liberty. He had submitted his application 13 months earlier. ‘Can you imagine my responsibility to parents if I disclosed the names of their children to the IRS?’ he asked MailOnline. It’s ‘an impossible question to answer fully and truthfully,’ he said, ‘without disclosing the names of anyone I ever taught, or would ever teach, including students.’…”

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IRS sent unpublished info on conservative groups to investigative news outfit

“… ProPublica, a left-leaning nonprofit organization that does investigative journalism, often sharing it with outlets like the Washington Post, offers its own revelation on the news that the Internal Revenue Service was targeting Tea Party groups. It was the recipient of some of the IRS documents. These were documents that even ProPublica admits the IRS should not have been giving out according to the agency’s own rules:

The same IRS office that deliberately targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status in the run-up to the 2012 election released nine pending confidential applications of conservative groups to ProPublica late last year.

The IRS did not respond to requests Monday following up about that release, and whether it had determined how the applications were sent to ProPublica.

 In response to a request for the applications for 67 different nonprofits last November, the Cincinnati office of the IRS sent ProPublica applications or documentation for 31 groups. Nine of those applications had not yet been approved—meaning they were not supposed to be made public. (We made sixof those public, after redacting their financial information, deeming that they were newsworthy.)…”

“… The IRS cover letter sent with the documents was from the Cincinnati office, and signed by Cindy Thomas, listed as the manager for Exempt Organizations Determinations, whom a biography for a Cincinnati Bar Association meeting in January says has worked for the IRS for 35 years. (Thomas often signed the cover letters of responses to ProPublica requests.) The cover letter listed an IRS employee named Sophia Brown as the person to contact for more information about the records. We tried to contact both Thomas and Brown today but were unable to reach them.

After receiving the unapproved applications, ProPublica tried to determine why they had been sent. In emails, IRS spokespeople said ProPublica shouldn’t have received them…”

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Related Links:

Report of Investigation Concerning the Improper Disclosure of U.S. Department of Justice Information to a Member of the Media (PDF)(23 pAGES)

WaPo vs WaPo (vs WaPo!) on IRS targeting of conservative groups

Did Obama’s IRS also harass pro-life groups?

IRS Punished Conservative Non-Profits, Perhaps Also Pro-Israel Groups

D.C. turns on Obama

Franklin Graham: IRS targeted us, too

Now boarding the Obama Administration scandal train: the EPA

FLASHBACK 2012: Democrat Senators Demand IRS Scrutinize Tea Party Groups

Democratic senator pressured IRS to investigate nonprofits

“… Levin should not be surprised that the IRS was caught targeting Tea Party groups when senators are sending these kinds of letters. “And he wonders why the IRS gets caught using partisan criteria to investigate Americans,” said Smith. Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Tom Udall (N.M.), and Al Franken (Minn.) sent a similar letter to Shulman in February 2012, asking for the IRS to investigate tax-exempt groups they believed were engaged in political activities. Similar letters were also sent to the IRS by Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.) in 2010 and House Democrats in 2012, the Atlantic reported on Monday…”

Senate Dems Have as Much to Explain as the IRS

“… Perhaps their strategy of distraction may work in the short-term with a Washington press corps pulled in a multitude of different directions, but Senate Democrats have a serious political problem that will haunt them as they head into an already-difficult election cycle. When these Senate Finance Committee hearings come to pass it would be a remarkable act of bravery and candor for one of these IRS bureaucrats to appropriately ask Max Baucus and others why they’re not sitting at the witness tables next to them, instead of continuing in their charade of faux outrage. Because Senate Democrats today have just as much explaining to do as the IRS…”

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Obama Launches ‘Attack Watch’ Website

Obama ‘Attack Watch’ Website to Help Supporters ‘Fight Back’

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Headstrong Ways…

 

It’s been a mystery and still they try to see
Why somethin’ good can hurt so bad
Caught on a one-way street, the taste of bittersweet
Love will survive somehow, some way

One love feeds the fire
One heart burns desire
I wonder, who’s cryin’ now
Two hearts born to run
Who’ll be the lonely one
I wonder, who’s cryin’ now

So many stormy nights, so many wrongs or rights
Neither could change their headstrong ways
And in a lover’s rage, they tore another page
The fightin’ is worth the love they save…

Only so many tears you can cry
‘Til the heartache is over
And now you can say your love
Will never die

Gypsy: For An ‘American Rose,’ A Thorny Story

NPR –  Scott Simon (Listen to the Story)

To say that Gypsy Rose Lee was a stripper is a bit like calling Frank Sinatra a saloon singer. Which is to say: Yes, but.

She was the most popular theatrical entertainer of her time, famed as much for her wit as for her shtick. Yes, she’d slip off certain articles of clothing. She’d fling gloves or ribbons into the audience. But you’d see just as much flesh in a Doris Day movie. Gypsy Rose Lee always, but always, left her admirers wanting more.

(“Oh, boys, I couldn’t,” she’d tease when the crowd would howl for more. “I’d catch cold.”)

And yet it may be necessary to remind people today that Gypsy wasn’t just a fictional character, the second banana in the musical that bears her name. Sin in the Second City author Karen Abbott has done just that in her latest book, American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare — The Life And Times Of Gypsy Rose Lee. And as she tells NPR’s Scott Simon, the lady in question was “one of a kind.”

“One of my grandmother’s cousins saw Gypsy perform,” Abbott says. The fellow reported back that the star “took a full 15 minutes to peel off a single glove — and that she was ‘so damn good at it that he gladly would have given her 15 more.’ “

“Anyone who can make peeling a glove that enticing, I need to know more about,” Abbot says with a laugh. It wasn’t just that certain something in the way she moved, of course. Lee was clever; her patter sparkled. “Her great accomplishment,” Abbott says, “was the idea of blending sex and comedy.”

She drew a glittering audience. “H.L. Mencken is the one who coined the word ‘ecdysiast’ in her honor,” Abbott says. It’s from “ecdysis,” a word for the process of shedding one’s own skin, snake-style.

Yet the overriding sense she left audiences with was that of “a stripper who puts on more than she takes off — and uses her wit to entice people.” “The idea of turning performance into desire,” Abbott says, was central to her allure. “She really understood that people wanted most what they’d never have.”…]

A ‘Sunnier, More Optimistic’ Version Of A Rough Life

What most people know of her, though — from the Broadway musical Gypsy, and its various film and television adaptations is largely fiction. “It adheres partly to the story Gypsy tells in her memoir,” Abbott explains, “but the story Gypsy tells in her memoir is sort of a sunnier, more optimistic version than what really happened in real life.”

The musical’s Mama Rose is erratic and ambitious, Abbott notes — a woman who wants the best for her daughters, and goes a little mad, pushes too hard.

“In real life, their mother was not somebody who had their best interests at heart all the time,” Abbott says. “I think Gypsy’s way of coping … was to make it a joke, as she did with many things. … She didn’t think anyone would actually believe the real story, so she made her mother a joke.”

The most famous stripper since Salome — and the funnier of the two by far — Gypsy Rose Lee would occasionally refer to herself as a prude. That, her biographer says, was not a joke.

“She had a very complicated relationship with sex,” Abbott says. “She didn’t consider herself to really be a sexual person, but here she is being held up as a sex object. She was a prude, in the sense that she did not want to expose herself — and that’s both literally and figuratively.”

In performance, she’d never turn away from the audience. “She did not want anyone to see her from the back side,” Abbott says. “And she had a very complicated costume arrangement — she didn’t want people to see her tricks, how she kept everything together and how she removed everything so smoothly.

“It was prudery, but it was also private — she was a very private person.” And yet she was a voracious writer. In a Brooklyn writers’ colony — in the company of serious literary lights including W.H. Auden and Carson McCullers — she drew on her showbiz experience for a novel called The G-String Murders. The book became a best-seller. She and McCullers became good friends.

Abbott’s response to her subject was more complicated. “My feelings toward her changed as I wrote the book,” she confesses. “I felt sorry for her; I admired her. I was terrified of her; I wanted to be her friend. I never wanted to see her, or run into her anywhere. It was sort of all over the place.”

Still, Abbott says, she has to acknowledge that Gypsy Rose Lee was “a true original.” “She was very much her own creation, and I hope that comes across,” Abbott says says, “especially in this age of manufactured celebrity. … I mean, who else but Gypsy Rose Lee would get a telegram from Eleanor Roosevelt” — the first lady who came second in that popularity poll — “saying, ‘May your bare ass always be shining’?”

Obama to hand Commerce Dept. authority over cybersecurity ID

CNET – By Declan McCullagh (This story originally appeared on CNET)

President Obama is planning to hand the U.S. Commerce Department authority over a forthcoming cybersecurity effort to create an Internet ID for Americans, a White House official said here today.

It’s “the absolute perfect spot in the U.S. government” to centralize efforts toward creating an “identity ecosystem” for the Internet, White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt said.

That news, first reported by CNET, effectively pushes the department to the forefront of the issue, beating out other potential candidates, including the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. The move also is likely to please privacy and civil-liberties groups that have raised concerns in the past over the dual roles of police and intelligence agencies.

The announcement came at an event today at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, where U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Schmidt spoke.

The Obama administration is currently drafting what it’s calling the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, which Locke said will be released by the president in the next few months. (An early version was publicly released last summer.)

“We are not talking about a national ID card,” Locke said at the Stanford event. “We are not talking about a government-controlled system. What we are talking about is enhancing online security and privacy, and reducing and perhaps even eliminating the need to memorize a dozen passwords, through creation and use of more trusted digital identities.”

The Commerce Department will be setting up a national program office to work on this project, Locke said.

Details about the “trusted identity” project are remarkably scarce. Last year’s announcement referenced a possible forthcoming smart card or digital certificate that would prove that online users are who they say they are. These digital IDs would be offered to consumers by online vendors for financial transactions.

Schmidt stressed today that anonymity and pseudonymity will remain possible on the Internet. “I don’t have to get a credential, if I don’t want to,” he said. There’s no chance that “a centralized database will emerge,” and “we need the private sector to lead the implementation of this,” he said.

Jim Dempsey of the Center for Democracy and Technology, who spoke later at the event, said any Internet ID must be created by the private sector–and also voluntary and competitive.

“The government cannot create that identity infrastructure,” Dempsey said. “If it tried to, it wouldn’t be trusted.”

Inter-agency rivalries to claim authority over cybersecurity have existed ever since many responsibilities were centralized in the Department of Homeland Security as part of its creation nine years ago. Three years ago, proposals were circulating in Washington to transfer authority to the secretive NSA, which is part of the U.S. Defense Department.

In March 2009, Rod Beckström, director of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity Center, resigned through a letter that gave a rare public glimpse into the competition for budgetary dollars and cybersecurity authority. Beckstrom said at the time that the NSA “effectively controls DHS cyberefforts through detailees, technology insertions,” and has proposed moving some functions to the agency’s Fort Meade, Md., headquarters.

One of the NSA’s missions is, of course, information assurance. But its normally lustrous star in the political firmament has dimmed a bit due to Wikileaks-related revelations.

Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private who is accused of liberating hundreds of thousands of confidential government documents from military networks and sending them to Wikileaks, apparently joked about the NSA’s incompetence in an online chat last spring.

“I even asked the NSA guy if he could find any suspicious activity coming out of local networks,” Manning reportedly said in a chat transcript provided by ex-hacker Adrian Lamo. “He shrugged and said, ‘It’s not a priority.'”

With True Grit, the Coen brothers have given the western back its teeth

… but here’s hoping they don’t follow it with another duff comedy like Burn After Reading

Guardian – By John Patterson

It was always going to happen. As the climax of the Coen brothers‘ 26-year-long, sidling, digression-filled crabwalk towards the pure, distilled essence of Hollywood classicism in their film-making – which they first perfected in No Country For Old Men – the final obstacle facing them was the western, the greatest of all American genres. And now, with True Grit – which opened in the US last month to rapturous acclaim – they have taken it, a genre oft-presumed deader than Custer and Crazy Horse, and given it back its heart, soul and teeth.

They’ve been pawing the sand with their hooves before the western for most of their creative lives; its forms and structures, its rites and rituals, and all its cultural and cinematic reverberations can be discerned throughout their work. No Country For Old Men is as surely a western as any movie set in 1980 can be, while their debut Blood Simple, nominally a neo-noir thriller, unfolds beneath searing Texas sunshine.

Raising Arizona falls within that sub-genre, the Sun Belt-located “southwestern”, which also accommodates films like Junior Bonner, Urban Cowboy and Charley Varrick. Miller’s Crossing has essentially the same plot as A Fistful Of Dollars (which stole it from Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, which nicked it in turn from Hammett’s Red Harvest).

Having first read Charles Portis’s 1968 novel as teenagers, the Coens were allied with it and not with Henry Hathaway’s doddery, miscast 1969 version, in which a major role is essayed, ruinously, by Glen Campbell. The novel’s appeal to the Coens is instantly evident: the voice of Miss Mattie Ross, the 14-year-old narrator, is innocent but plucky, and she’s driven to remarkable feats of big-mouth sass and flat-out courage in the company of killers and vagabonds largely by her bedrock Protestant sanctimony and schoolmarm-ish rigidity.

Portis’s language is an archaic, biblically inflected 19th-century American English, free of contractions, a plainsong not averse to rhetorical filigree and curlicue – a perfect fit for the hyper-literate, word-drunk Coens.

Here’s the thing, though. There’s no shortage of the elements we expect – the note-perfect casting of every role and face; the meticulous technical virtuosity; the sheer joy of word and speech; the fleeting moments of surreal oddness or psychic mania – all except for the cynicism that marred their early work. Here are the Coens in their creative maturity and at their most respectful.

I’m not about to claim they’ve grown up. If past is prologue, they’ll now make another second-rate comedy-duffer like Burn After Reading or Intolerable Cruelty, each of which succeeded a near-masterpiece. But with True Grit coming hard on the heels of the supremely assured (and serious) A Serious Man, dare I hope they are approaching a high plateau in their careers?

Students find treasures in Ike research

Hutch News – By Michael Strand

Imagine you’re the president of the United States, and your resume also includes job titles such as Supreme Allied Commander.

You’ve got a friend/adviser and member of your White House inner circle who’s looking for a private-sector job, and helping him out ought to be a cinch — except everyone you call says “No” because E. Frederick Morrow is black “Eisenhower was tearful about it,” said William Putzier, a senior at Salina Central High School.

Putzier didn’t learn that bit of history from a book in a history class. Rather, he learned it from reading President Dwight Eisenhower’s own words — one of thousands of original documents he and three other Central students pored over this past fall during trips to the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene.

The students will present the results of their work Wednesday at the Salina Public Library’s Community Learning Center in a talk titled “The Eisenhower Roots of Judicial Diversity: Race and Gender,” sponsored by the Salina League of Women Voters.

What the students found, they said, is that even though the civil rights movement is usually thought of as a phenomenon of the 1960s, Eisenhower’s support for desegregation a decade earlier helped make that later progress possible. “He was really supportive of civil rights, and he really set up the courts for that,” Putzier said. “He would appoint people to the courts who supported Brown (v. Board of Education) and other rulings.”

“Before Eisenhower, Truman was president, and he only appointed one woman as a judge,” said Mary Ralston. “Eisenhower wanted more women involved. He thought they had different ideas and perspectives.” And in many ways, they said, Eisenhower’s decision to appoint more women and minorities to the federal bench helped lay the foundation for court rulings that expanded civil rights and dismantled segregation.

In arriving at those conclusions, the students sifted through a trove of historical records, and found many Americans opposed what Eisenhower was trying to do. “We saw one letter, from a woman in Kentucky, who told him she didn’t think 140 million white people should have to mix with black people,” Putzier said.

Even Eisenhower’s own sister was a vocal opponent of some of his policies, Mitchell Pruett said. “In a letter, she sent him some pamphlets that described how labor unions and the NAACP were communist organizations,” and dangerous to America,” Pruett said. “In his letter back, he didn’t even mention it.”

Among the documents they found were some detailing Eisenhower’s efforts to de-segregate the National Guard, Putzier said — and some reasons for doing so. “He thought it would make people more open to de-segregating society,” if they’d served in a racially mixed military, Putzier said.

They also found evidence of a more politically charged reason, he added. “They thought de-segregating the National Guard would hurt the Democrats,” Putzier said. “Southern Democrats opposed de-segregation, and northern Democrats supported it — and they thought doing this would drive a wedge between them.”

But finding those gems took lots of sifting. The library has some 26 million pages in its collection, and while library staff helped direct the students to relevant stuff, “I went through a whole box of folders, looking at each page — and everything was about polio vaccine,” Ralston said.

The research project isn’t technically school work, said Central history teacher Deirdre Hoff, who organized it. “I’d always wanted to do a research project with students, but couldn’t decide on what,” she said. Last spring, she was talking with Ann Zimmerman, president of the Salina League of Women Voters, who suggested Eisenhower and judicial diversity.

At the start of this school year, Hoff contacted students she’d had in advanced placement history classes, to see who was interested in researching the topic — for no grade. None of the four said it was a topic they’d always dreamed of researching — but once they got into it, they said it was interesting.

But besides becoming experts in that narrow niche of American history, the students say they’ve gained other skills, too.
“We’ve learned how to do research,” Putzier said. “You have to dig through piles of information.” “You have to learn to connect lots of different pieces together,” Ralston added.

That’s part of the value of doing original research, instead of relying on others, said Kim Barbieri, education specialist at the Eisenhower Library. And the number of students in high school — and younger — doing such original research is increasing, Barbieri said.

“Twenty years ago, we’d have maybe one group a year,” she said. “By ten years ago, it was a few more — we’ve had students as young as fifth grade working with original documents. It certainly isn’t unusual — we have a lot of kids today who can say ‘I’ve done original research.’ “

Related Cybersecurity Links:

(PC Mag): New Govt Office to Help Create ‘Trusted Digital Identities’

Remarks at Cybersecurity Event with WH Cybersecurity Coordinator

National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (PDF)

Related Cybersecurity Previous Posts:

Introducing U.S. Cyber Command: From An “April Strawberry” To The “Perfect Citizen”

New Cyber Attacks Against American Government and Business Networks

White House Cyberspace Policy Review Requires Full Implementation of HSPD-12

end – 😉

VirtualGlobetrotting.com – Ellingham Hall

An old man turned ninety-eight
He won the lottery and died the next day
It’s a black fly in your Chardonnay
It’s a death row pardon two minutes too late
Isn’t it ironic … don’t you think

It’s like rain on your wedding day
It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take
Who would’ve thought … it figures

Mr. Play It Safe was afraid to fly
He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids good-bye
He waited his whole damn life to take that flight
And as the plane crashed down he thought
‘Well isn’t this nice…’
And isn’t it ironic … don’t you think

Don’t leak my address: Astonishing plea from WikiLeaks boss as he tries to get bail

Daily Mail

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange tried to hide his bail address from the public in an astonishing move for the man responsible for leaking thousands of diplomatic secrets.

Assange’s lawyers argued that the location – a 10-bedroom stately home – should not be disclosed on grounds of privacy during yesterday’s hearing at City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

But the move was dismissed by District Judge Howard Riddle, who ruled not to reveal the address would conflict with Assange’s commitment to open justice.

The judge insisted the address – Captain Vaughan Smith’s Ellingham Hall on the Norfolk/Suffolk border – was read out in open court as usual.

It came before Assange, 39, was granted £240,000 bail, including £200,000 in cash and two sureties of £20,000 – but then had his release blocked when the Swedish authorities lodged a challenge.

The whistleblower had to be returned to Wandsworth prison in south west London, where he was being held in solitary confinement.

The Australian will appear at the High Court tomorrow, where a senior judge will consider the appeal and decide if he can be freed.

Despite a string of millionaire and celebrity backers, who include a list of luvvies, lefties and ‘internationally renowned’ backers, he has yet to raise the £240,000 bail money…

The decision to appeal was the final twist in a day of extraordinary drama in the mundane setting of the Westminster courthouse.

An ever-growing cast of left-wing luvvie supporters and journalists queued for hours to win tickets to court number one where Assange was appearing.

Meanwhile hundreds of protesters besieged the building, chanting for Assange to be released and attacking the authorities in Sweden and United States.

High-profile supporters including socialite Jemima Khan, novelist Tariq Ali, campaigner Bianca Jagger and film-maker Ken Loach all offered sureties.

Film director Ken Loach, socialite Jemima Khan and journalist John Pilger were also in the public gallery for the second time in days.

Gay activist Peter Tatchell was also at court. He said: ‘I’m just here to show solidarity with someone who exposed people who committed war crimes.’

American documentary film maker Michael Moore was there in spirit, offering to throw $20,000 into the pot to secure his release…

The Frontline Club

ASSANGE’S BAIL BOLTHOLE

If he does secure bail at the next court hearing, Julian Assange will swap his Wandsworth jail cell for Ellingham Hall, an elegant Georgian mansion set in 600 acres of rolling parkland.

The WikiLeaks boss will be a house guest at the 10-bedroom estate owned by Captain Vaughan Smith (below) who served in the Army before setting up the Frontline Club in London in 2003.

Cpt Smith spoke up for his friend from the witness box at City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court yesterday and has put up £20,000 in bail money to help Assange reach the £240,000 required.

A former Grenadier Guards Captain, he is a free speech supporter and investigative journalism champion, as well as a restaurateur, club owner and sustainable farmer.

Assange’s barrister jauntily described it as being ‘placed under mansion arrest’. The house, on the Norfolk/Suffolk border, has its own housekeeper and a well-stocked wine cellar.

Cpt Smith has previously allowed the whistleblower to stay at his club in Paddington, which includes several flats. He has apparently said Assange will have to pay for his own food and accommodation.

The estate is very isolated, with Diss the nearest train station and Norwich – the nearest city – half an hour’s drive away. It is impossible to reach the mansion without trespassing on Cpt Smith’s land.

The former solder said yesterday: ‘It’s a Georgian house from the 18th Century. It’s been in my family for the past 225 years but before that it belonged to the Johnsons whom the Smiths married into. Some of the buildings are even older.’

Exclusive: The world’s most wanted house guest

Julian Paul Assange (born 3 July 1971) is an Australian journalist, publisher, and Internet activist. He is the spokesperson and editor in chief for WikiLeaks, a whistleblower website and repository for news leaks. Before working with the website, he was a computer programmer and hacker. He has lived in several countries, and has made occasional public appearances to speak about freedom of the press, censorship, and investigative journalism.

Assange founded the WikiLeaks website in 2006 and serves on its advisory board. He has been involved in publishing material about extrajudicial killings in Kenya, for which he won the 2009 Amnesty International Media Award. He has also published material about toxic waste dumping in Africa, Church of Scientology manuals, Guantanamo Bay procedures, and banks such as Kaupthing and Julius Baer. In 2010, he published classified details about United States involvement in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Then, on 28 November 2010, WikiLeaks and its five media partners began publishing secret U.S. diplomatic cables. The White House calls Assange’s actions reckless and dangerous.

For his work with WikiLeaks, Assange received the 2008 Economist Freedom of Expression Award and the 2010 Sam Adams Award. Utne Reader named him as one of the “25 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World”. In 2010, New Statesman ranked Assange number 23 among the “The World’s 50 Most Influential Figures”.

On 30 November 2010, at the request of the International Public Prosecution Office in Gothenburg, Sweden, Interpol placed Assange on its red notice list of wanted persons;he was wanted for questioning about alleged sexual offenses, and voluntarily surrendered to the London Metropolitan Police Service on 7 December 2010. Assange denies the accusations made against him.

Daniel Yates, a former British military intelligence officer, wrote “Assange has seriously endangered the lives of Afghan civilians … The logs contain detailed personal information regarding Afghan civilians who have approached NATO soldiers with information. It is inevitable that the Taliban will now seek violent retribution on those who have co-operated with NATO. Their families and tribes will also be in danger.”

Responding to a critical letter from a White House spokesman, Assange said in August 2010 that 15,000 documents are still being reviewed “line by line”, and that the names of “innocent parties who are under reasonable threat” would be removed. Assange replied to the request through Eric Schmitt, a New York Times editor. This reply was Assange’s offer to the White House to vet any harmful documents; Schmitt responded that “I certainly didn’t consider this a serious and realistic offer to the White House to vet any of the documents before they were to be posted, and I think it’s ridiculous that Assange is portraying it that way now.”

Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen, said, “Mr. Assange can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he and his source are doing, but the truth is, they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family.” Assange denies this has happened, and responded by saying, “…it’s really quite fantastic that [Robert] Gates and Mullen…who have ordered assassinations every day, are trying to bring people on board to look at a speculative understanding of whether we might have blood on our hands. These two men arguably are wading in the blood from those wars.”

A number of commentators, including current and former US government officials, have accused Assange of terrorism. U.S. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has called Assange “a high-tech terrorist”, and this view was mirrored by former US House speaker Newt Gingrich, who has been quoted as saying, “Information terrorism, which leads to people getting killed, is terrorism, and Julian Assange is engaged in terrorism. He should be treated as an enemy combatant”. Within the media, an editorial in the Washington Times by Jeffrey T. Kuhner said Assange should be treated “the same way as other high-value terrorist targets”; Fox News’ National Security Analyst and host “K.T.” McFarland has called Assange a terrorist, Wikileaks “a terrorist organization” and has called for Bradley Manning‘s execution if he is found guilty of making the leaks; and former Nixon aide and talk radio host G. Gordon Liddy has reportedly suggested that Assange’s name be added to the “kill list” of terrorists who can be assassinated without a trial.

Tom Flanagan, former campaign manager for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, commented in November 2010 that he thought Julian Assange should be assassinated. A complaint has been filed against Flanagan, which states that Flanagan “counselled and/or incited the assassination of Julian Assange contrary to the Criminal Code of Canada,” in his remarks on the CBC programme Power & Politics.. Flanagan has since apologised for the remarks made during the programme and claimed his intentions were never “to advocate or propose the assassination of Mr. Assange”.

In a hearing at the City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 7 December 2010, Assange identified a post office box as his address. When told by the judge that this information was not acceptable, Assange submitted “Parkville, Victoria, Australia” on a sheet of paper. His lack of permanent address and nomadic lifestyle were cited by the judge as factors in denying bail.

Source:  Wiki

Related Previous Links:

Beast Walking

US Government Censoring World Wide Internet Sites

Introducing U.S. Cyber Command: From An “April Strawberry” To The “Perfect Citizen”

New Cyber Attacks Against American Government and Business Networks

White House Cyberspace Policy Review Requires Full Implementation of HSPD-12

Privacy Concerns: Is Einstein Listening and Watching You?

end – 😉

Beast Walking

Possible Syrian nuke facility identified by satellite

JP – By YAAKOV KATZ

Footage of Masyaf shows missile shaped items; IAEA urges Syria to let inspectors visit reactor that IAF destroyed in 2007.

A compound in western Syria with buildings and hundreds of missile-shaped items has been identified as functionally related to a nuclear reactor Israel destroyed northeast of Damascus in 2007.

Satellite footage of the site in Masyaf was obtained by the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security and shows a compound built in a ravine and surrounded by what appears to be a line of trenches.

While there are no security measures visible in the commercial satellite imagery, ISIS said building a facility in a ravine was a common method of providing general protection and isolation.

Several years ago, a military base near Masyaf was mentioned as a possible hiding place for weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein might have sent to Syria before the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

ISIS head David Albright, who analyzed the satellite footage, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that the site at Masyaf could be a military storage facility. Hundreds of items seen stored in rows out in the open could be missiles or truck beds, he said.

“We have identified one site and learned the approximate locations of three other sites as well,” Albright said…

Related Background: Satellite Photos Support Testimony That Iraqi WMD Went to Syria

(The history books on this issue shouldn’t be written just yet)

Watch the full interview of FCC Commissioner Mike Copps talking to Katty Kay about the state of the US media. Copps calls the current status a ‘pretty serious situation’ and says that American media has a ‘bad case of substance abuse.’

Getting Media Right: A Call to Action, Commissioner Copps (PDF)

U.S. Sees Greater North Korea Nuclear Threat

WSJ – By JAY SOLOMON

VIENNA—The Obama administration told the United Nations nuclear watchdog that North Korea likely has built more than one uranium-enrichment facility, significantly raising the proliferation threat posed by the secretive communist state.

U.S. and European officials are pressing the International Atomic Energy Agency to better scrutinize Pyongyang’s potential role in sharing its nuclear technologies with third countries. But the U.N. agency’s ability to monitor Pyongyang is limited: North Korea kicked out the IAEA’s inspectors in 2009.

The IAEA already is investigating evidence that North Korea transferred a nearly operational nuclear reactor to Syria, which Israeli jets subsequently destroyed in 2007. U.S. and U.N. officials now worry Pyongyang could begin exporting its advanced centrifuge equipment to its military allies in Iran and Myanmar.

“A uranium enrichment capability in [North Korea] could bolster its pursuit of a weapons capability and increases our concerns about prospects for onward proliferation of fissile material and of sensitive technologies,” Glyn Davies, the U.S. ambassador to the IAEA, told the agency’s 35-member board Thursday.

Mr. Davies said the U.S. believes Pyongyang may have already developed uranium-enrichment facilities beyond the one site it showed a visiting American scientist, Siegried Hecker, last month.

These additional facilities would allow North Korea to significantly increase its numbers of atomic weapons, as well as their yield…

Related Links:

Bluffer’s Guide: North Korea strikes!

Heritage: North Korea Pressures U.S. Through Provocations

Yonhap News: N. Korea deploys more multiple-launch rockets

Why I May Filibuster New START

NRO – By Sen. Jim DeMint

Many of us have been concerned that the START Treaty would weaken our national security, and recent revelations of previously undisclosed talks with Russia on missile defense and movement of Russian tactical nuclear warheads only raise more questions that must be answered.

I’ve asked for the full negotiating records, as have been provided to the Senate on previous treaties, but the Obama administration has continually denied that request and promised that missile defense was never part of the negotiations with Russia. But we have now learned that the State Department did in fact meet with Russia to specifically discuss missile defense, after months of denying these discussions ever took place.

With the additional news that Russia moved warheads near the borders of our NATO allies this spring — warheads that are conspicuously not covered by START — it’s time to get some straight answers and for the State Department to provide the full negotiating records. The START Treaty could severely weaken America’s ability to defend our people and our allies against missile attacks from nations like Iran, and we need all of the facts on how this treaty was agreed to.

Additionally, I will use every tool available to oppose an attempt to rush the debate over the START Treaty during this lame-duck session of Congress. The newly elected Republican senators have signed a letter asking our leadership to postpone debate on START until they take office in a few weeks and have ample time to review the details. Americans didn’t vote in November to ram through the Obama administration’s wish list this December.

— Sen. Jim DeMint (R., S.C.) is chairman of the Senate Steering Committee and member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Current Ballistic Missile Defense Plans Offer No Confidence in New START

The Heritage Foundation – By James Carafano, Ph.D.

In a recent Wall Street Journal commentary, Vice President Joe Biden argued that the Senate could ratify the New START nuclear deal with Russia with confidence. He urged Senators to ignore concerns that the treaty would place limits on future missile defenses. The Vice President believes current missile defense plans are more than adequate. Biden glossed over the fact that these plans are far from comprehensive. They are inadequate to respond to unpredicted threat advances. Finally, the treaty could well complicate and limit the ability of the U.S. to develop comprehensive missile defenses.

From Defending the West to Modest Protection for Europe

Upon entering office, President Obama slashed the number of land-based interceptors planned to protect the U.S. homeland from North Korean and Iranian ballistic missiles by 44 percent. The cuts included scrapping the “third site” ballistic missile defense plan to defend the United States and U.S. allies against the threat of long- and medium-range ballistic missiles from Iran. These installations were to be completed by 2013. In its stead the White House elected to focus on more limited regional missile defense.

In conjunction with a plan approved by NATO at the recent Lisbon summit, Obama has sketched out what the Administration hopes will lead to the development of the Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense system, the Medium Extended Air Defense System (a U.S., German, and Italian joint program), and the U.S. Phased Adaptive Approach for missile defense in Europe.

Obama dubbed his “new” plan for Europe the Phased Adaptive Approach. The four-phase program is intended to be the cornerstone of NATO’s ballistic missile defense initiative. Under Phase I (which the White House hopes to begin in 2011), U.S. Aegis ships with SM-3 interceptors will deploy to the Mediterranean with sea- and forward-based sensors stationed in southern Europe. In Phases II (2015), III (2018), and IV (2020) more interceptors will be deployed, both on Aegis ships and ground platforms.

In his effort to cheerlead for New START, Vice President Biden neglected to mention the limitations of this approach. Even if the Obama plan is implemented on schedule and at cost (questionable assumptions), parts of Europe will remain vulnerable to long-range Iranian threats until 2020. The program also makes no specific, sustained investment to exploit the full range of sea-based and SM-3 technology. Furthermore, land-based SM-3 is a dramatically different capability from the current sea-based SM-3. It has yet to be flown. The Missile Defense Agency is already two years behind the deployment plans.

America the Vulnerable

Envisioning far more robust and comprehensive defenses, the Bush Administration focused on development and expansion of a variety of missile defense programs, such as the Kinetic Energy Interceptor, Airborne Laser, and Multiple Kill Vehicle. These efforts would have served to ensure that the U.S. outpaced potential threats. Bush’s plans to protect the U.S. homeland also included up to 44 ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California (in addition to 10 cancelled interceptors in Poland).

Obama reduced long-range interceptors in Alaska and California from 44 to 30. The Administration also cut funding for all future programs. The Missile Defense Agency’s budget was cut by 15 percent.

Fast-Growing Threat

Biden’s trumpeting of Obama’s missile defense also fails to mention that the threat is progressing far faster than anticipated. According to the Department of Defense’s estimate, Iran will have an ICBM capability as early as 2015, fielding a threat long before Obama’s limited defenses will be in place. Meanwhile, North Korea continues to expand both its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons capability, revealing just last week a new nuclear facility previously unknown in the West. In addition to developing an ICBM capable of targeting anywhere in the United States, Pyongyang has 600 SCUD short-range ballistic missiles that threaten Japan and 100 No-Dong intermediate-range ballistic missiles that can reach U.S. bases in Okinawa and Guam.

In addition to Iran and North Korea, over 30 other countries all over the world have ballistic missile capability. The trends in ballistic missiles development point to increasing accuracy and range, use of countermeasures, and access to biological, chemical, and nuclear warheads. Many states are increasing their ballistic missile inventories.

Beyond Plan Obama

There are a number of initiatives the U.S. could undertake to make missile defenses much more robust and comprehensive. For example, the navy plans to have roughly 300 SM-3s by 2015. For an additional $170 million, the navy could accelerate production of these interceptors and build a larger inventory.

The White House could also fund development of smaller and lighter kill vehicles for the SM-3 interceptors. This would permit the U.S. to use the more advanced SM-3s to destroy ballistic missiles launched from ships off the U.S. coast, such as missiles armed with electromagnetic pulse warheads.

The long-range land-based force could be expanded, including the use of both two- and three-stage interceptors. The U.S. could invest more aggressively in boost-phase intercept intercontinental ballistics missiles. Finally, space-based interceptors, which would provide the most comprehensive coverage against a range of global threats, could be developed.

Implications for New START

Vice President Biden sees no problem with New START because White House plans envision none of the components of comprehensive missile defense that could outpace current threats or deter the emergence of future ones. However, the treaty could well limit a future Administration more committed to comprehensive defense.

The treaty limits U.S. (and by definition also NATO’s) missile defenses at least in five areas. Most significant is the fact that the preamble of the treaty establishes a link between strategic offensive and defensive arms. Also, Paragraph 3 of Article V prohibits conversion of offensive strategic missile launchers to launchers of defensive interceptors and vice versa. These conversions have been done in the past and might be required as an option for the President in case of future crisis.

Rubber-Stamping Treaty Would Be Wrong

Despite the Vice President’s assurances, the Senate should carefully weigh how New START could hamstring the ability of future Presidents to deal with future threats. In addition to analyzing the treaty, the Senate should demand full access to the treaty negotiating record as well as complete transparency on any side agreements negotiated with Moscow. It is inconceivable that all this material could be provided and analyzed in the time available during the lame duck session. Senators should consider that fact during their deliberations.

James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., is Deputy Director of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, and Director of the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies, a division of the Davis Institute, at The Heritage Foundation. Michaela Bendikova, Research Assistant for Missile Defense and Foreign Policy in the Allison Center, contributed to this report.

Q & A With Anti-Jihadi Hacker The Jester

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