General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!
A key National Security Agency official will testify before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday. Army Gen. Keith Alexander, National Security Agency director and head of U.S. Cyber Command, will testify before the full committee in a previously-scheduled session, marking the first time an NSA official will answer to Congress in public since news broke that the agency is collecting all of Verizon's U.S. phone records, as well as internet content from non-U.S. internet users abroad.Meanwhile, the ACLU is the first major group to file a lawsuit over the secret monitoring.
In addition to Alexander, others testifying include Rand Beers, acting deputy Homeland Security Secretary; Patrick Gallagher, acting deputy Commerce Secretary and director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology; and Richard McFeely, executive assistant director of the FBI's criminal, cyber, response, and services branch.
Intelligence officials have been holding closed-door briefings with members of Congress this week, getting them up to speed on the NSA's sweeping surveillance methods. After a Senate Intelligence Committee briefing on Wednesday, vice chairman of the committee Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., called Alexander "very straightforward," adding he "always let's us know what's happening."
In the wake of the past week's revelations about the NSA's unprecedented mass surveillance of phone calls, today the ACLU filed a lawsuit charging that the program violates Americans' constitutional rights of free speech, association, and privacy.
This lawsuit comes a day after we submitted a motion to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) seeking the release of secret court opinions on the Patriot Act's Section 215, which has been interpreted to authorize this warrantless and suspicionless collection of phone records.
Self-described global warming expert and creator of the internet Al Gore seems to have forgotten that he just received $100 million in oil money from the Qatari government for selling his Current TV channel to Al Jazeera. During a recent Google hangout about the Keystone Pipeline, the former Vice President slammed the conservative Koch brothers and called them the "purveyors of the dirtiest energy on earth."
They want to put a pipeline right down through very environmentally sensitive parts of our country so they can export it from the Gulf of Mexico to China. Well, the hell with that. It’s the dirtiest form of fuel on the planet, except for its byproduct, petroleum coke, or pet coke, that’s piling up on the Detroit River right now, part of it, thanks to the Koch brothers - the purveyors of the dirtiest energy on earth. This is an atrocity, these tar sands. It really, and so, he ought to veto that, and I hope that he will.
Detroit’s a growing mountain of pet coke sitting on the dockside. This appears to be becoming one of the environmental cause celebres, combining as it does the involvement of the Koch brothers, carbon emissions, Canadian tar sands and the Keystone XL pipeline.And for good measure, here is Gore trying to explain why he took $100 million in oil money to become richer than Mitt Romney.
When asked to explain the irony of selling Current to an oil-producer, Gore told an audience at SXSW Interactive, “I knew when I made that decision…my principal obligation was to do business in a way that makes the world a better place.”
“You have heard me be very critical of American television journalism. I think that the addition of a very high-quality, 24-7 honest-to-goodness news channel that covers international news as well as national — that covers climate, that covers poverty, that cover issues that are ignored today — has the potential to be disruptive in a creative and positive way, and raise the game for television journalism here in the United State of America.”
“I’m not talking about the character or even the quality of the minds of the people I’m going to mention. But the last thing in the world we need now is someone who will go down to the United States Senate and support Ted Cruz, support the new senator from Kentucky -- or the old senator from Kentucky,” said Biden.
“Think about this. ... Have you ever seen a time when two freshman senators are able to cower the bulk of the Republican Party in the Senate? That is not hyperbole.”
“On the gun issue, I don’t care what your position is -- I called 17 senators out, 9 of whom were Republicans. ... Not one of offered an explanation on the merits of why they couldn’t vote for the background check. But almost to a person, they said, ‘I don’t want to take on Ted Cruz. I don’t want to take on Rand Paul. They’ll be in my district.’
“I actually said, ‘Are you kidding? These are two freshman,’” Biden said, according to the pool report. “This is a different, party folks. They’re not bad guys, and they’re both very bright guys. And I’m not questioning their motive.”
Or in other words, get off my lawn, kiddos. The fact is, both Paul and Cruz have been extremely effective when it comes to going against the status quo in the Senate. Why? Because they came to Washington and are actually doing what they said and promised they would do when they were on the campaign trail.
During a confirmation hearing Tuesday on Capitol Hill, U.S. Attorney, Acting ATF Director and President Obama's nominee for permanent ATF director Todd Jones, was grilled by Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley over allegations of whistleblower and employee intimidation.
"As we sit here today, there remains an open investigation by the Office of Special Counsel regarding Mr. Jones’ conduct as U.S. Attorney. Generally, when a nominee is the subject of an open investigation," Grassley said. "In this case, there are allegations of gross mismanagement and abuses of authority in Mr. Jones’ office. And there is a complaint that Mr. Jones retaliated against a whistleblower. These are serious charges, and ones that are of particular concern to me. The public interest demands resolution of these issues."
Grassley expressed frustration with the Judicary Committee moving forward with a confirmation hearing without all of the facts surrounding the Jones case and suggested the Committee open its own investigation into the matter.
" As the Chairman of this Committee knows, and as I told her yesterday, I objected to holding this hearing today and requested the hearing be postponed. As we sit here today, there remains an open investigation by the Office of Special Counsel regarding Mr. Jones’ conduct as U.S. Attorney. Generally, when a nominee is the subject of an open investigation, the Committee does not move forward until the issues are resolved. That is the sensible thing to do. When there is a pending investigation, the Committee obviously doesn’t have the full information about the nominee," Grassley said. "We are left today to take Mr. Jones’ word. We have no way to independently verify what he says or to ascertain the truth of the matter."
Jones has been accused of creating a "climate of fear" during his time as the U.S. Attorney in Minnesota according to complaints filed with the Office of the Inspector General. He has also been accused of threatening agents within the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.
"It has never been my practice to engage in retaliatory employment," Jones said in response to questions about the allegations. "I have not taken any adverse actions against anyone I have worked with."
In addition to facing questions over whistleblower and employee intimidation, Jones was pressed to provide details about who has been held accountable for Operation Fast and Furious. When asked by Arizona Senator Jeff Flake what disciplinary actions have been taken against those responsible, Jones failed to provide specifics. Jones counted those who had resigned or retired as being "held accountable" for the operation.
"Some were on the disciplinary process and decided to submit their retirement," Jones said.
Retirement comes with full benefits.
Senator Grassley has requested in the past that Jones be available to his office for an interview about Fast and Furious, he declined.
Another issue of controversy surrounding the Department of Justice and ATF has been a lack of gun crime prosecutions, specifically for felons attempting to purchase guns, since 2009 when President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder took office. Tuesday, Jones claimed prosecuting these crimes was a major priority for the Department. Texas Senator Ted Cruz begged to differ.
ATF hasn't had a permanent director in seven years for multiple reasons. For the first two years of the Obama administration, a nominee for the position was not provided and therefore not confirmed. When Acting ATF Director Andrew Traver was nominated as permanent director of ATF by President Obama, he was asked to provide further information about himself and his background. That information was never provided and eventually Traver's name was withdrawn for the position. Jones was nominated by President Obama earlier this year as part of 20 new executive actions on gun control.
In an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal yesterday evening, Senator Rand Paul outlined how vast NSA surveillance of hundreds of millions of Americans is a violation of the Fourth Amendment. He also reminded readers that the Founding Fathers fought a revolution over this type of behavior....cue John McCain calling him a whacko bird again in 3...2...1...
In addition to pointing out why secret monitoring is a violation of American rights, Paul makes one very important and crucial point.
These activities violate the Fourth Amendment, which says warrants must be specific—"particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." And what is the government doing with these records? The president assures us that the government is simply monitoring the origin and length of phone calls, not eavesdropping on their contents. Is this administration seriously asking us to trust the same government that admittedly targets political dissidents through the Internal Revenue Service and journalists through the Justice Department?
No one objects to balancing security against liberty. No one objects to seeking warrants for targeted monitoring based on probable cause. We've always done this.
What is objectionable is a system in which government has unlimited and privileged access to the details of our private affairs, and citizens are simply supposed to trust that there won't be any abuse of power. This is an absurd expectation. Americans should trust the National Security Agency as much as they do the IRS and Justice Department.
Monitoring the records of as many as a billion phone calls, as some news reports have suggested, is no modest invasion of privacy. It is an extraordinary invasion of privacy. We fought a revolution over issues like generalized warrants, where soldiers would go from house to house, searching anything they liked. Our lives are now so digitized that the government going from computer to computer or phone to phone is the modern equivalent of the same type of tyranny that our Founders rebelled against.
I also believe that trolling through millions of phone records hampers the legitimate protection of our security. The government sifts through mountains of data yet still didn't notice, or did not notice enough, that one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects was traveling to Chechnya. Perhaps instead of treating every American as a potential terror suspect the government should concentrate on more targeted analysis.What an idea! We've heard everyone from John McCain to President Obama defend vast NSA monitoring, but the fact is, that same monitoring didn't prevent Boston. Not to mention, while the Obama administration defends the program, it is also saying large scale attacks are no longer a threat and that al Qaeda is "on the run."
Princeton University has been evacuated after a bomb threat was issued. More from the Princeton website:
There has been a bomb threat to multiple unspecified campus buildings. Please evacuate the campus and all University offices immediately and go home unless otherwise directed by your supervisor. Public Safety officers and Princeton Police will direct drivers leaving the campus and those without cars will be directed to evacuation sites. You will receive an update later today. Do not return to campus for any reason until advised otherwise.
Tuesday on Capitol Hill, acting ATF director and President Obama's nominee for permanent ATF director Todd Jones, will face tough questions from lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
As a reminder, Jones is notorious for whistleblower intimidation and has quietly embraced the "shut up or be punished" culture inside ATF when it comes to agents exposing corruption and scandals like Operation Fast and Furious. Jones' style came under direct fire last year when he warned agents against "jumping their chain of command" when dealing with problems inside the bureau.
Jones is sure to be questioned about his role in Operation Fast and Furious and his service as an advisor to Attorney General Eric Holder. Jones will also be questioned about ATF's latest screw up in Milwaukee,where agents lost a fully automatic machine gun.
“… if you make poor choices, that if you don’t abide by the rules, that if you don't respect the chain of command, if you don’t find the appropriate way to raise your concerns to your leadership, there will be consequences. …”
A store calling itself Fearless Distributing opened early last year on an out-of-the-way street in Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood, offering designer clothes, athletic shoes, jewelry and drug paraphernalia.Jones was nominated as part of President Obama's 20 executive actions on gun control earlier this year. You can watch the hearing live here starting at 9:30 EDT.
Those working behind the counter, however, weren't interested in selling anything.
They were undercover agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives running a storefront sting aimed at busting criminal operations in the city by purchasing drugs and guns from felons.
But the effort to date has not snared any major dealers or taken down a gang. Instead, it resulted in a string of mistakes and failures, including an ATF military-style machine gun landing on the streets of Milwaukee and the agency having $35,000 in merchandise stolen from its store, a Journal Sentinel investigation has found.
When the 10-month operation was shut down after the burglary, agents and Milwaukee police officers who participated in the sting cleared out the store but left behind a sensitive document that listed names, vehicles and phone numbers of undercover agents.
And the agency remains locked in a battle with the building's owner, who says he is owed about $15,000 because of utility bills, holes in the walls, broken doors and damage from an overflowing toilet.
Hillary Clinton's favorability rating fell slightly in June to 58%, from 64% in April. That is the first sub-60% rating Americans have given her since 2008. Clinton's unfavorable rating now stands at 39%, up from 31% in April.Sure, Clinton is still really popular, but the key to these numbers is that she barely has a majority of independents who approve.
The results are based on a June 1-4 Gallup poll. While Clinton has long been the most popular official, past or present, in the Obama administration, recent congressional testimony about the Benghazi controversy from so-called whistleblowers has called into question her leadership during her tenure at the State Department.
This poll shows only slight changes in the public's overall assessment of Clinton, with her unfavorable rating now marginally higher than at any time since 2008. However, there is no telling what the future might hold, as members of the House Oversight Committee have publicly speculated that Clinton may have to testify before the Republican-led committee again.
Although Democratic and Republican attitudes toward Clinton have been static over these past contentious months, independents' views are now notably less favorable. A slim majority (52%) of independents hold a favorable opinion of Clinton, down from 63% in April.