- AIPAC and Friends Explain Themselves
- Crisis over Crimea steals thunder from AIPAC conference
- Kerry at AIPAC: US Will Never Fail Israel
- Netanyahu: ‘I think it’s time to recognize a Jewish State. We’ve only been there 4000 years.’ (Video)
- Israel must make tough choices for peace, Obama says
- Mark Regev: ‘Israeli’s want peace more than anyone else’
- AIPAC divisions more pronounced than ever
- Israel Lobby AIPAC Down, But Not Out – Yet
- Zionist Movement: How AIPAC is severing its historical roots, and weakening its influence
- AIPAC Policy Conference 2014 (Video)
- Is Elliott Abrams Hoping to Succeed Abe Foxman at the ADL?
- ‘NY Times’ and ‘LA Times’ run op-eds by an AIPAC board member without telling readers
- The Illusion of AIPAC’s Invincibility
- Business boycott: Israelis feeling the pinch
- Sourcewatch: American Israel Public Affairs Committee
The Central Intelligence Agency is under investigation for allegedly spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee, panel Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein confirmed Wednesday. The CIA is prohibited from spying on Americans, and spying on members of Congress and their staff would raise particular concerns about the separation of powers. Congress created the House and Senate Intelligence committees in the 1970s to oversee the CIA, the National Security Agency, and other spy agencies after uncovering a slew of spying abuses.
The CIA’s internal watchdog, its inspector general, is reviewing whether CIA agents hacked into the computers of Senate staffers who were involved in producing a report critical of the agency’s now-defunct detention and interrogation program, The New York Times reported Wednesday. According to McClatchy, the inspector general’s office has asked the Justice Department to investigate the case. The committee worked on the 6,300-page interrogation report for years. The report, which remains classified, concluded that brutal interrogation techniques produced little valuable intelligence. Last June, the CIA responded with its own 122-page report challenging particular facts and the conclusion of the Senate’s document. Ending the interrogation program was one of President Obama’s first acts in office.
Sen. Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat and member of the Intelligence panel, wrote a letter to Obama on Tuesday, urging him to support declassification of the full report. Udall referred vaguely to the CIA’s alleged spying on the committee. “As you are aware, the CIA has recently taken unprecedented action against the Committee in relation to the internal CIAreview, and I find these actions to be incredibly troubling for the Committee’s oversight responsibilities and for our democracy,” Udall wrote. “It is essential that the Committee be able to do its oversight work—consistent with our constitutional principle of the separation of powers—without the CIA posing impediments or obstacles as it is today.”
As Comcast pushes regulators to approve its just-announced deal to buy out Time Warner Cable, it’ll make one essential point: the acquisition won’t visibly change the competitive landscape for TV and internet customers. Nice try. Regulators and competition authorities are supposed to consider the public interest when looking at such deals. In no way does the public interest benefit from this one.
We’re talking immense scale with this deal. Comcast – which completed its takeover of NBC Universal a year ago in a deal that never should have been allowed in the first place – is the nation’s biggest cable company, with about 21m subscribers. Time Warner Cable, the second largest, has 11m. According to the Wall Street Journal, the combined company will sell off what amounts to 3m of those subscribers in order to keep its overall market share slightly below a mythical threshold that raises worries about too much market power.
The public interest is not served when a company that provides one-third of all cable TV service in America replaces two smaller ones (which were plenty big in the first place). It is not served when that company already owns one of the four major broadcast networks, a major movie studio, several cable channels (including CNBC, which will assuredly be boosterish) and other properties.
And the public interest is distinctly not served when what’s already the largest and most important internet service provider becomes vastly more so. The cable companies, with their inherently better bandwidth than phone company DSL lines, are becoming natural monopolies for wired-line internet access except in the few places where other providers have installed fiber lines. As Om Malik, founder of the GigaOm technology news company, put it in a blog post, cable consolidation in this century “is all about broadband”, which has high profit margins and doesn’t have to deal with Hollywood.
This is what candidate Obama said during a 2008 town hall meeting in Pennsylvania: “You know I taught constitutional law for 10 years, I take the Constitution very seriously. The biggest problems that we’re facing right now had to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all, and that’s what I intend to reverse when I’m president of the United States of America.”
Former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has started a petition demanding clemency for the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor who revealed its metadata surveillance program. “Edward Snowden sacrificed his livelihood, citizenship, and freedom by exposing the disturbing scope of the NSA’s worldwide spying program. Thanks to one man’s courageous actions, Americans know about the truly egregious ways their government is spying on them,” Paul says in a video on his Ron Paul Channel website, which he started last summer.
The petition asks supporters to sign the petition to bring Snowden back to the United States before his status of temporary asylum in Russia expires in late July. “By signing this petition, you are telling the U.S. government that Mr. Snowden deserves the right to come home without the fear of persecution or imprisonment,” the webpage says.
Paul served in Congress from 1997 until 2013 and ran for president in the last two election cycles. The campaign comes as Paul’s son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), filed a class action lawsuit on Wednesday against President Obama, the NSA and others involved in the government’s surveillance activities.
Getting information on the intelligence spending habits of the United States has been virtually impossible over the years, with only a single dollar figure of all spending everywhere released publicly, usually in the $70-$75 billion range.
But there are 16 distinct civilian spy agencies in the United States, and then there’s military intelligence spending on top of that. Yet when Congress gets the bill and is asked to approve the spending, it just gets the one number lumping everything together.
In fact, the only look they’ve ever really gotten at how that money is divvied up is a leak from Edward Snowden, which showed a handful of the top-line figures for individual agencies. Many in Congress say that’s not good enough.
A group in the House of Representatives led by Reps. Peter Welch (D – VT) and Cynthia Lummis (R – WY) are pushing a new bill that would require individual dollar values for each of the 16 civilian spy agencies. The White House has yet to comment on the matter, but the fact that they have refused to provide such data when asked suggests they’ll also be opposed to being forced to hand it over.
Tens of thousands of people and organisations were participating in a protest against the NSA’s mass surveillance on Tuesday, bombarding members of Congress with phone calls and emails and holding demonstrations across the globe.
Dubbed “The day we fight back”, the action saw scores of websites, including Reddit, BoingBoing and Mozilla host a widget inviting users to pressure elected officials.
The online demonstration saw more than 18,000 calls placed and 50,000 emails sent to US congressmen and women by midday Tuesday. Physical protests were planned in 15 countries.
“The goal of the day we fight back is to stop mass surveillance by intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency,” said Rainey Reitman, activism director at the non-profit Electronic Frontier Foundation, which helped organise the events.
Senator Dianne Feinstein argued Wednesday that the successes of the U.S. surveillance state are causing Americans to underestimate the threat of terrorism. What is the average American’s assessment of the terrorist threat? How threatened are we? None of us can actually know the answer to either question. A terrorist attack could happen tomorrow, or the next day, or not for years. But Feinstein goes on to quantify the amount of terrorism that occurred in 2012, and the standard for terrorist attacks that she adopts exaggerates the threat. There is no single definition of terrorism, but it is generally understood to mean attacks on civilians by non-state actors.
It was sad last week to wake up to news of the passing of former New York Democratic congressman Otis G. Pike. During the fierce debates of 1975, known as the “Year of Intelligence” (because the controversies of the day led to the first significant investigations of the actions of U.S. intelligence agencies) Representative Pike held to a steady course in the face of a concerted effort by the Ford administration — and the CIA, NSA, and FBI of the day — to head off any public inquiry. Sound familiar?
Like the current controversy, ignited by leaks from NSA contract employee Edward Snowden, the Year of Intelligence began with revelations of U.S. intelligence spying on American citizens revealed by investigative reporting by journalist Seymour Hersh and published in the New York Times. Mr. Pike headed the committee of inquiry the House of Representatives established to explore intelligence activities. In contrast to the deferential chiefs of congressional intelligence committees today — Senator Diane Feinstein and Representative Mike Rogers — Pike was in nobody’s pocket and he persevered to the end.
The manufacturing of tanks — powerful but cumbersome — is no longer essential, the military says. In modern warfare, forces must deploy quickly and “project power over great distances.” Submarines and long-range bombers are needed. Weapons such as drones — nimble and tactical — are the future. Tanks are something of a relic.
The Army has about 5,000 of them sitting idle or awaiting an upgrade. For the BAE Systems employees in York, keeping the armored vehicle in service means keeping a job. And jobs, after all, are what their representatives in Congress are working to protect in their home districts.
The Army is just one party to this decision. While the military sets its strategic priorities, it’s Congress that allocates money for any purchases. And the defense industry, which ultimately produces the weapons, seeks to influence both the military and Congress.
Two House committees are holding hearings this week to examine the resurgence of al Qaeda in the Middle East as Republicans question President Obama’s contention that the terror group is “on the path to defeat.”
The House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on “al Qaeda, its affiliates and associated groups” on Tuesday, followed by a House Foreign Affairs hearing on al Qaeda’s resurgence in Iraq on Wednesday.
“Al-Qaeda controls more territory today than it ever has before, and much of that is in western Iraq where it has recently captured significant cities,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said in a statement announcing the hearing. The pair of back-to-back hearings on al Qaeda this week comes after the House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing earlier this month specifically on the administration’s “al Qaeda narrative.”
Conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, whose documentary 2016: Obama’s America took a critical look at President Barack Obama and was a surprise hit in 2012, will be arrested in New York on Friday for allegedly violating campaign-finance laws, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
Federal authorities accuse D’Souza of donating more than is legal to the campaign of Wendy Long, who ran in 2012 for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton three years earlier but lost to incumbent Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. Long, though, is not mentioned in an indictment obtained by THR on Thursday.
Insiders say D’Souza has been friends with Long since they attended Dartmouth College together in the early 1980s. According to the indictment, D’Souza donated $20,000 to Long’s campaign by aggregating the money from various people and falsely reporting the source of the funds. But Gerald Molen, a co-producer of 2016, says the charge is politically motivated.
Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert (R) has proposed raising taxes on the poorest Americans even if the only money they have to pay is money that they get from government programs like welfare.
[...] Gohmert said that he had “wrestled” with what to do with people who were so poor that they barely got by on government assistance.
“What if you’re so poor the only money you have is what the government gives you? And I’ve wondered, you know, isn’t that wasted money, you give it and you take it back? No, it gives you an investment in the country. And we need that.”