Most voters oppose the U.S. government’s secret collection of the phone records of millions of Americans and think the feds are spying too much on U.S. citizens these days. Just 26% of Likely U.S. Voters favor the government’s secret collecting of these phone records for national security purposes regardless of whether there is any suspicion of wrongdoing. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 59% are opposed to the practice. Fifteen percent (15%) are undecided.
In an NBC/WSJ poll released Wednesday, 58% of voters said the recent scandals raised doubts about the Administration's honesty and integrity. 45% said the scandals raised "major doubts." 68% of voters said President Obama was in some part responsible for the scandals. On whether Obama is personally "honest and straightforward," voters split 42-40.
In a Bloomberg poll released this week, almost a majority of voters, 47%, said Obama was not telling the complete truth about his knowledge of the IRS scandal. 53% of Independents said Obama wasn't being truthful about the scandal.
Last week, Quinnipiac released a poll showing a precipitous erosion in views of Obama's honesty. A mere plurality, 49-47, agreed that Obama personally was "honest and trustworthy." Two years ago, 63% of voters believed Obama to be honest.
Speaking to reporters Monday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the White House has no comment regarding NSA leaker Edward Snowden due to an ongoing investigation into the matter.
"I think the President's record on transparency is broad and significant," Carney said. "I cannot comment."
Carney also said that all members of Congress had been briefed on the expansive surveillance NSA has been using to view the phone and email records of hundreds of millions of Americans. Many members of Congress, including Democrats and Republicans, have refuted that point.
President Barack Obama’s chief defense of his administration’s wide-ranging data-gathering programs Friday: Congress authorized them, with “every member” well aware of the details.
Not so, say many members of Congress — Democrats and Republicans alike.
Typically, members of Congress “don’t receive this kind of briefing,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told POLITICO Friday. They wouldn’t have known about the programs unless they were on an intelligence committee, attended special sessions last held in 2011 or specifically asked to be briefed – something they would only know to do if they were clued in by an colleague who was already aware.
In addition, Carney tried to pin the NSA's vast surveillance on the Patriot Act, but according to Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (who helped write the Patriot Act), the recent revelations of expansive surveillance of Americans goes far beyond what the law was intended for in the war on terror.
The administration claims authority to sift through details of our private lives because the Patriot Act says that it can. I disagree. I authored the Patriot Act, and this is an abuse of that law.
I was the chairman of the House judiciary committee when the US was attacked on 11 September 2001. Five days later, the Justice Department delivered its proposal for new legislation. Although I, along with every other American, knew we had to strengthen our ability to combat those targeting our country, this version went too far. I believed then and now that we can defend our country and our liberty at the same time.
The legislation had to be narrowly tailored – everyone agreed that we could not allow unrestrained surveillance. The Patriot Act had 17 provisions. To prevent abuse, I insisted on sunsetting all the provisions so that they would automatically expire if Congress did not renew them. This would allow Congress to conduct oversight of the administration's implementation of the act.
In 2006, Congress made 14 of the provisions permanent because they were noncontroversial. The three remaining provisions, including the so-called business records provision the administration relied on for the programs in question, will expire in 2015 if they are not reauthorized.
The final draft was bipartisan and passed the judiciary committee unanimously. The Patriot Act has saved lives by ensuring that information is shared among those responsible for defending our country and by giving the intelligence community the tools it needs to identify and track terrorists.
In his press conference on Friday, President Obama described the massive collection of phone and digital records as "two programs that were originally authorized by Congress, have been repeatedly authorized by Congress". But Congress has never specifically authorized these programs, and the Patriot Act was never intended to allow the daily spying the Obama administration is conducting.
We've been told for months by Democrats and Republicans that before amnesty is granted to more than 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, the border will be secured. But over the weekend, Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who is part of the Gang of 8, told Univision legalization will be coming before border security.
The legalization is not conditional? If it isn't, then what is? And why have we been told for months the border will be secured before amnesty and citizenship processes are started? If the border being secure in order to prevent another amnesty down the road isn't conditional to amnesty for those already here, then what is the point?
Rubio, responding to the concern that legalization might be delayed and therefore be subjected to the policies of future administrations: Let's be clear. Nobody is talking about preventing the legalization. The legalization is going to happen. That means the following will happen: First comes the legalization. Then come the measures to secure the border. And then comes the process of permanent residence. Rubio, responding to the concern that legalization might be delayed and therefore be subjected to the policies of future administrations: Let's be clear. Nobody is talking about preventing the legalization. The legalization is going to happen. That means the following will happen: First comes the legalization. Then come the measures to secure the border. And then comes the process of permanent residence. What we're talking about here is the system of permanent residence. As for the legalization, the enormous majority of my colleagues have accepted that it has to happen and that it has to begin at the same time we begin the measures for [the border]. It is not conditional. The legalization is not conditional.
"Our bill says that no one who is illegally here gets to even apply for a Green Card until the border plan is fully implemented."
One of the biggest scandals in American politics is waiting to explode: the full story of the inside game in Washington shows how the permanent political class enriches itself at the expense of the rest of us. Insider trading is illegal on Wall Street, yet it is routine among members of Congress. Normal individuals cannot get in on IPOs at the asking price, but politicians do so routinely. The Obama administration has been able to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars to its supporters, ensuring yet more campaign donations. An entire class of investors now makes all of its profits based on influence and access in Washington. Peter Schweizer has doggedly researched through mountains of financial records, tracking complicated deals and stock trades back to the timing of briefings, votes on bills, and every other point of leverage for politicians in Washington. The result is a manifesto for revolution: the Permanent Political Class must goWhy is this relevant? Because the Washington Post is out with a story today about Health and Human Services employees engaging in insider trading with stocks involved in Medicare.
Hundreds of federal employees were given advance word of a Medicare decision worth billions of dollars to private insurers in the weeks before the official announcement, a period when trading in the shares of those firms spiked.More from Allahpundit on why this is a big deal:
The surge of trading in Humana’s and other private health insurers’ stock before the April 1 announcement already has prompted the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate whether Wall Street investors had advance access to inside information about the then-confidential Medicare funding plan.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) told The Washington Post late last week that his office reviewed the e-mail records of employees at the Department of Health and Human Services and found that 436 of them had early access to the Medicare decision as much as two weeks before it was made public.
The number of federal employees with advance knowledge is surely higher; the figures Grassley’s staff compiled did not include people at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget who also saw the information. The e-mail records of those employees have not been made available to Grassley.
There are two potential scandals here. One is HHS tossing around what was supposed to be sensitive information to a huge swath of employees in-house. The other scandal is who actually leaked it, assuming anyone did. It might not have come from HHS at all but rather from some old-fashioned Beltway congressional/lobbyist incest. As with most of the other Obama scandals, this story is less about O himself than about the foreseeable abuses that result as the federal whale grows. You can have bigger government or you can have more accountable government. The guy who signed ObamaCare into law has made his choiceBig government equals big problems, people. Scandalpalooza is an understatement. Lets not forget about Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius practically extorting funds from private companies HHS regulates in order to fund ObamaCare.
Add another scandal to the list. State Department officials in Washington interfering with Inspector General investigations to avoid bad press, accountability and scandal? You don't say:
Over the weekend, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden publicly revealed his identity and told the world he was the guy who exposed vast snooping on U.S. citizens by the U.S. government. Naturally, the White House and Congress have been asked to respond to NSA actions. Both Democrats and Republicans are defending the secret monitoring of hundreds of millions of American phone calls each day.
Republican Senator John McCain on CNN Sunday:
Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein and Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss last week:
Arizona Senator and former GOP Presidential candidate John McCain said Sunday the threat of terrorism in the United States “is getting worse,” and this validates the government’s controversial monitoring of all telephone calls and emails placed in the country.
Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” McCain responded to host Candy Crowley asking if McCain had a problem with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) program, he answered, “No, not really.”
“I think we have to understand this issue in the context of what also has been going on,” McCain said. “I believe that the FISA Court system is an appropriate way of reviewing some of these policies. If this was Sept. 12, 2001, we might not be having the argument that we are having today.”
McCain continued to dismiss any concerns over privacy, saying it’s a “balancing act” and then targeted his fellows Senators.
Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss also defended the National Security Agency’s request to Verizon for all the metadata about phone calls made within the U.S. and from the U.S. to other countries. They said the information gathered by intelligence on the phone communications is “meta data” used to connect phone lines to terrorists and that it did not contain the content of the phone calls or messages.President Obama last week, "Nobody is listening to your phone calls."
“I know that people are trying to get to us,” she said. “This is the reason why the FBI now has 10,000 people doing intelligence on counterterrorism. This is the reason for the national counterterrorism center that’s been set up in the time we’ve been active. its to ferret this out before it happens. “It’s called protecting America.
President Barack Obama issued a strong statement in support Friday for the controversial National Security Agency surveillance programs that have been disclosed to the press in recent days.But the good news is, at least one Senator isn't very happy about this whole thing.
“You can shout Big Brother or program run amok, but if you actually look at the details, I think we’ve struck the right balance,” Obama said in his first remarks on the subject since the issue arose this week.
”Nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” Obama said repeatedly. “That’s not what this program is about.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Sunday that he is weighing a Supreme Court challenge to the National Security Agency's controversial surveillance programs, calling the organization's collection of records an "extraordinary invasion of privacy."
"I'm going to be seeing if I can challenge this at the Supreme Court level," Paul said on Fox News Sunday. "I’m going to be asking all the internet providers and all of the phone companies: Ask your customers to join me in a class action lawsuit. If we get 10 million Americans saying we don’t want our phone records looked at, then maybe someone will wake up and something will change in Washington."
"The irony is that people voted for President Obama hoping for something different," Paul said in a statement. "That's why a lot of people I think are disappointed in the president. They're disappointed in him targeting reporters. There's just a lot to be disappointed about."
This week the Senate is expected to make a big push for illegal immigration reform through the Gang of 8 bill and Democrats everywhere can hardly contain how excited they are. But on his show over the weekend, Bill Maher expressed frustration with Republicans for being against amnesty.
CNN contributor and Republican strategist Ana Navarro pushed back on Maher's assertions.
BILL MAHER, HBO'S "REAL TIME" HOST: I think they don't want the votes because you know what? They know if they're going to take 11 million people and make them citizens and allow them to vote, they're just creating more Democrats.
Latinos who are mostly young -- young trumps it all -- they hate Republicans. They did a survey this week --
ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Now you are agreeing with Ann Coulter.I hate to say it, but Maher is right. As a reminder, granting amnesty did nothing for Ronald Reagan and the Republicans. Not to mention, Republicans lost the last two elections against President Obama and they ran extremely moderate candidates. John McCain, who is all about amnesty, and Mitt Romney, who has a bit of a tougher illegal immigration stance than McCain but is still anything from far right.
MAHER: I'm agreeing with facts.
NAVARRO: No --
MAHER: Wait. They did a study this week, young people, this is the College Republicans, they wanted to find out. These were people who voted for Obama who they could win back. They wanted to know how they felt about the Republicans. These are the words: close-minded, racist, rigid, old fashioned. That's what young people think of Republicans. Probably because they are close-minded, racist, rigid and old fashioned.
NAVARRO: Let's go back to the point about legalizing 11 million [illegal immigrants] means 11 million Democrats. As the only Latino on the panel, I like to opine on this. I'm a Republican Latino. We are not lemmings; we are people. We don't follow just blindly, we have opinions.
NAVARRO: Let me just say --
MAHER: But 71% [of Latinos] voted for Obama.
NAVARRO: Because who were they going to vote for? Mitt Romney, who wanted to self-deport?
MAHER: And who are you going to put up next time that they're going to like better?
NAVARRO: Oh, almost anybody.
We've known for months now that the Environmental Protection Agency has been leaking the private information of small farmers to radical environmental groups, some of which are full of attorneys constantly snooping around for a lawsuit.
According to a letter from a group of Senators to Acting EPA Administrator Bob Perciasepe, the EPA "released farm information for 80,000 livestock facilities in 30 states as the result of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from national environmental organizations. It is our understanding that the initial release of data contained personal information that was not required by the FOIA request for ten states including Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio and Utah. This release included names and personal addresses."
The Senators sent the letter Friday to express concern over the sensitivity of the data that was released to groups like Earth Justice, Pew Charitable Trust and Natural Resources Defense Council and to ask how the EPA plans to protect the data of farms and ranches that are also homes to families.
By leaking this information to legal environmental groups, small farms not only have to fight the powerful EPA, but also all of the powerful groups the EPA collaborates with. This scenario can only be classified as bullying and an overreach of regulatory power.
It's no wonder former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson used secret email accounts to conduct government business. It's pretty obvious who she was talking to.
Not only did the President not have teleprompter, his aides forgot his speech.
“My remarks are not sitting here,” the President declared awkwardly. “I’m uhhh….people….oh goodness….uhhhh...folks are sweating back there right now.”
President Obama, who’s often mocked for an over-reliance on scripts, shifted uncomfortably smiling for several moments buying time. An aide sprinted out with a hard copy of the speech, tripping at one point, adding to the drama.