Category Archives: Congress

Defense secretary “not confident” Guantanamo will be closed under Obama

Kristina Wong reports for The Hill:

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter cast doubt Tuesday on whether the Guantanamo Bay detention facility can be closed before President Obama leaves office.

“I’m not confident, but I am hopeful,” Carter said in an exclusive interview with CBS News.

The closure of the U.S. military prison in Cuba was a campaign promise Obama made in 2008, but Congress has imposed restrictions on detainee releases through annual defense policy bills.

Carter said earlier this month he was working on a proposal to send to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

McCain has said he is willing to work with the administration to close the facility if the administration submits a plan that can be approved by Congress.’

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‘A Great Day for Corporate America': US Senate Passes Fast Track

Deirdre Fulton reports for Common Dreams:

In a win for multinational corporations and the global one percent, the U.S. Senate on Tuesday narrowly advanced Fast Track, or Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) —ensuring for all practical purposes the continued rubber-stamping of clandestine trade agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

The cloture motion to end debate needed 60 votes and it got just that, passing the chamber 60-37. The full roll call is here. A final vote will come on Wednesday. Having overcome the biggest hurdle, the legislation is expected to pass, and will then be sent to President Barack Obama’s desk to become law.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who campaigned vigorously against Fast Track, said the vote represented a win for corporate America. “The vote today—pushed by multi-national corporations, pharmaceutical companies and Wall Street—will mean a continuation of  disastrous trade policies which have cost our country millions of decent-paying jobs,” the presidential candidate said in a statement.’

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Net Of Insecurity: A Disaster Foretold — And Ignored

Craig Timberg writes for The Washington Post:

The seven young men sitting before some of Capitol Hill’s most powerful lawmakers weren’t graduate students or junior analysts from some think tank. No, Space Rogue, Kingpin, Mudge and the others were hackers who had come from the mysterious environs of cyberspace to deliver a terrifying warning to the world.

Your computers, they told the panel of senators in May 1998, are not safe — not the software, not the hardware, not the networks that link them together. The companies that build these things don’t care, the hackers continued, and they have no reason to care because failure costs them nothing. And the federal government has neither the skill nor the will to do anything about it.

“If you’re looking for computer security, then the Internet is not the place to be,” said Mudge, then 27 and looking like a biblical prophet with long brown hair flowing past his shoulders. The Internet itself, he added, could be taken down “by any of the seven individuals seated before you” with 30 minutes of well-choreographed keystrokes.

The senators — a bipartisan group including John Glenn, Joseph I. Lieberman and Fred D. Thompson — nodded gravely, making clear that they understood the gravity of the situation. “We’re going to have to do something about it,” Thompson said.

What happened instead was a tragedy of missed opportunity, and 17 years later the world is still paying the price in rampant insecurity.’

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Hillary Clinton has position on TPP – well, sort of… Interview with Ari Rabin-Havt

‘It’s the first time she’s talked about the TPP – and she seems to have taken a progressive stance about how the deal should benefit the American worker and strengthen the American economy first and foremost. She reiterated her position earlier today. But she didn’t say anything about how to achieve those goals with the TPP. She also didn’t give her opinion on whether Congress should grant the president “fast track” authority – authority that would carry over through her first term if she were elected. And she didn’t address the fact that it’s a crime for Congress to disclose the details of the TPP to the American public – a fundamental block to the democratic process.’ (The Big Picture)

Why Arming Ukraine Is a Really Bad Idea

Paul J. Saunders writes for The National Interest:

Renewed fighting in Ukraine has in turn renewed calls to arm Ukraine, including in the United States Congress. Yet there is an enormous and largely unacknowledged flaw in the argument to provide the Kiev government with lethal weapons.

Advocates of this approach assert that sending anti-tank missiles, mortars and other arms to Ukraine will help Ukrainian forces to kill more of the Russian troops fighting alongside separatist forces in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine. Since Russian president Vladimir Putin and other senior officials have repeatedly denied that Russian soldiers are in the country, they say, he must be trying to hide Moscow’s involvement from the Russian people because he fears political opposition from soldiers’ mothers (a significant political constraint during the first war in Chechnya, not to mention in Afghanistan a decade earlier) and others. If we can only kill enough of Putin’s troops, they continue, Putin will no longer be able to conceal the scale of Russia’s engagement in the conflict and will face public pressure to limit it or even to withdraw.

While this might appear logical on its face, this line of thinking ignores a fundamental reality of the politics of war-fighting that Americans should well understand from their own experiences: how many soldiers are dying in combat is considerably less important than why they are doing it.’

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USA Freedom Act: A Misleading Moment of Celebration for a New Surveillance Program

Normon Soloman writes for Common Dreams:

The morning after final passage of the USA Freedom Act, while some foes of mass surveillance were celebrating, Thomas Drake sounded decidedly glum. The new law, he told me, is “a new spy program.” It restarts some of the worst aspects of the Patriot Act and further codifies systematic violations of Fourth Amendment rights.

Later on Wednesday, here in Oslo as part of a “Stand Up For Truth” tour, Drake warned at a public forum that “national security” has become “the new state religion.” Meanwhile, his Twitter messages were calling the USA Freedom Act an “itty-bitty step” — and a “stop/restart kabuki shell game” that “starts w/ restarting bulk collection of phone records.”

That downbeat appraisal of the USA Freedom Act should give pause to its celebrants. Drake is a former senior executive of the National Security Agency — and a whistleblower who endured prosecution and faced decades in prison for daring to speak truthfully about NSA activities. He ran afoul of vindictive authorities because he refused to go along with the NSA’s massive surveillance program after 9/11.’

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Snowden’s leaks forced NSA reform on Congress. The US would still jail him

Trevor Timm writes for The Guardian:

edward snowden inscrutableThe catalyst for Congress’ historic vote on NSA reform on Tuesday – the same person who led to a federal court to rule that NSA mass surveillance of Americans was illegal – remains exiled from the United States and faces decades in jail. The crime he’s accused of? Telling the American public the very truth that forced Congress to restrict, rather than expand, the spy agency’s power for the first time in over forty years.

The passage of the USA Freedom Act is quite simply a vindication of Edward Snowden, and it’s not just civil libertarians who have noticed: he’s forced even some of the most establishment-friendly commentators to change their opinions of his actions. But it’s a shame that almost everyone nonetheless ignores the oppressive law under which Snowden was charged or the US government’s outrageous position in his case: that if he were to stand trial, he could not tell the jury what his whistleblowing has accomplished.

The White House told reporters on Thursday that, despite the imminent passage of NSA reform, they still believe Edward Snowden still belongs in prison (presumably for life, given his potential charges), while at the same time, brazenly taking credit for the USA Freedom Act passing, saying that “historians” would consider it part of Obama’s “legacy.” Hopefully historians will also remember, as Ryan Lizza adeptly documented in the New Yorker, that Obama was handed every opportunity to reform the NSA before Edward Snowden, yet behind the scenes repeatedly refused to do so. Instead, the Obama administration was dragged kicking and screaming across the finish line by Snowden’s disclosures, all while engaging in fear-mongering that would make Dick Cheney proud.’

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Vast Majority of Spying Will Continue Despite Expiration of Patriot Act Provisions: Interview with Marcy Wheeler

‘Marcy Wheeler is the author of Anatomy of Deceit , a short primer on the pre-war intelligence and the CIA Leak. She blogs under the name “emptywheel” at The Next Hurrah and live-blogged the Scooter Libby trial. She has a PhD from University of Michigan relating to politics and journalism. Marcy lives in Michigan, where she works as a business consultant.’ (The Real News)

Glenn Greenwald: As Bulk NSA Spying Expires, Scare Tactics Can’t Stop “Sea Change” on Surveillance

‘The government’s authority to sweep up millions of Americans’ phone records has expired. The practice exposed by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden could now face limited reforms as the Senate weighs the USA FREEDOM Act, which would require the government to ask phone companies for a user’s data rather than vacuuming up all the records at once. We get reaction from Glenn Greenwald, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who first reported on Snowden’s revelations.’ (Democracy Now!)

Zombie Patriot Act Will Keep U.S. Spying – Even if the Original Dies

Shane Harris writes for The Daily Beast:

President Obama and his top national security officials have spent the past few days warning that if intelligence-gathering authorities in the Patriot Act expire just after midnight Sunday—which is now a foregone conclusion—the United States will face a greater risk of a terrorist attack.

That argument is highly debatable—at least, in the short term. Not only does the U.S. government have all sorts of other ways to collect the same kind of intelligence outlined in the Patriot Act, but there’s also a little-noticed back door in the act that would allow U.S. spy agencies gather information in pretty much the same ways they did before.

In other words, there’s a zombie Patriot Act—one that will live on, even if the current version dies.’

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A Sunset Is A Beautiful Thing

Jennifer Granick writes for Forbes:

In the wake of a recent appellate court’s decision that the NSA’s domestic dragnet collection of phone call records is illegal, political support for maintaining the legal provision that the government used to justify the program has all but vanished. For the first time in a dozen years, we have a real chance at ending one of the most abused and misused parts of US surveillance law. Congress should allow section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act to expire.

The U.S. government indiscriminately spies on American citizens for no reason whatsoever and with few if any controls. If you think that should end, you are a surveillance reformer. The only question is: how to reform?

In the next few days, the first of many surveillance reform battles will end. Section 215, the alleged authority under which the NSA has been indiscriminately gathering phone data on Americans, will expire, or sunset on June 1st. Congress is, right now, hotly debating what to do. For practical reasons, the two most likely outcomes are either that the Senate will pass the House’s version of the USA Freedom Act or that the Senate will be unable to agree on USA Freedom and Section 215 will sunset.

Reauthorizing 215 as is is basically off the table. That’s because, in a feat of parliamentary procedure know-how, SenatorRand Paul’s eleven hour floor speech Wednesday made it too late for any reauthorization bill to clear the Senate in time for the House, which has gone on recess, to vote on it.

If Congress does nothing, section 215 will sunset. And this is exactly what reformers should be asking for. The fact is, sunset is the only thing that will definitely stop massive spying under section 215. It won’t stop mass surveillance more generally, but killing the law that NSA and FBI have abused for years is the first step.’

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Former Reagan Adviser: Fox News Is A “Self-brainwashing” Bubble That Is Destroying The GOP

Many of the NSA’s Loudest Defenders Have Financial Ties to NSA Contractors

Lee Fang reports for The Intercept:

Featured photo - Many of the NSA’s Loudest Defenders Have Financial Ties to NSA ContractorsThe debate over the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records has reached a critical point after a federal appeals court last week ruled the practice illegal, dramatically raising the stakes for pending Congressional legislation that would fully or partially reinstate the program. An army of pundits promptly took to television screens, with many of them brushing off concerns about the surveillance.

The talking heads have been backstopping the NSA’s mass surveillance more or less continuously since it was revealed. They spoke out to support the agency when NSA contractor Edward Snowden released details of its programs in 2013, and they’ve kept up their advocacy ever since — on television news shows, newspaper op-ed pages, online, and at Congressional hearings. But it’s often unclear just how financially cozy these pundits are with the surveillance state they defend, since they’re typically identified with titles that give no clues about their conflicts of interest. Such conflicts have become particularly important, and worth pointing out, now that the debate about NSA surveillance has shifted from simple outrage to politically prominent legislative debates.’

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Obama’s plans for trade deals with Asia (TTP) and Europe (TTIP) in tatters after Senate vote

Dan Roberts, Sabrina Siddiqui and Dominic Rushe report for The Guardian:

US  President Barack Obama delivers remarks on trade at Nike's corporate headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon May 8, 2015 (Reuters / Jonathan Ernst)Barack Obama’s ambitions to pass sweeping new free trade agreements with Asia and Europe fell at the first hurdle on Tuesday as Senate Democrats put concerns about US manufacturing jobs ahead of arguments that the deals would boost global economic growth.

A vote to push through the bill failed as 45 senators voted against it, to 52 in favor. Obama needed 60 out of the 100 votes for it to pass.

Failure to secure so-called “fast track” negotiating authority from Congress leaves the president’s top legislative priority in tatters.

It may also prove the high-water mark in decades of steady trade liberalisation that has fuelled globalisation but is blamed for exacerbating economic inequality within many developed economies.’

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How for-profit prisons have become the biggest lobby no one is talking about

Michael Cohen reports for The Washington Post:

Several industries have become notorious for the millions they spend on influencing legislation and getting friendly candidates into office: Big Oil, Big Pharma and the gun lobby among them. But one has managed to quickly build influence with comparatively little scrutiny: Private prisons. The two largest for-profit prison companies in the United States – GEO and Corrections Corporation of America – and their associates have funneled more than $10 million to candidates since 1989 and have spent nearly $25 million on lobbying efforts. Meanwhile, these private companies have seen their revenue and market share soar. They now rake in a combined $3.3 billion in annual revenue and the private federal prison population more than doubled between 2000 and 2010, according to a report by the Justice Policy Institute. Private companies house nearly half of the nation’s immigrant detainees, compared to about 25 percent a decade ago, a Huffington Post report found. In total, there are now about 130 private prisons in the country with about 157,000 beds.

Marco Rubio is one of the best examples of the private prison industry’s growing political influence, a connection that deserves far more attention now that he’s officially launched a presidential bid. The U.S. senator has a history of close ties to the nation’s second-largest for-profit prison company, GEO Group, stretching back to his days as speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. While Rubio was leading the House, GEO was awarded a state government contract for a $110 million prison soon after Rubio hired an economic consultant who had been a trustee for a GEO real estate trust. Over his career, Rubio has received nearly $40,000 in campaign donations from GEO, making him the Senate’s top career recipient of contributions from the company. (Rubio’s office did not respond to requests for comment.)’

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Court Rules NSA Bulk Spying Illegal: New Vindication for Snowden, and Uncertainty for PATRIOT Act

‘A federal appeals court has ruled the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of millions of Americans’ phone records is illegal. The program was exposed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden; the ACLU filed its lawsuit based largely on Snowden’s revelations. In a unanimous decision Thursday, a three judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York called the bulk phone records collection “unprecedented and unwarranted.” The ruling comes as Congress faces a June 1st deadline to renew the part of the Patriot Act that authorizes the NSA’s bulk data surveillance. Another measure, the USA Freedom Act, would lead to limited reforms of some of the NSA’s programs. We are joined by Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU, which filed the case challenging the NSA’s bulk collection of American’s phone records.’ (Democracy Now!)

Corruption is Legal in America

Millennials don’t trust anyone

Chris Cillizza reports for The Washington Post:

Of 10 major societal institutions, just two — the military and scientists — garnered majority support from millennials on the question of whom they trust to do the right thing most of the time. That’s according to new polling by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics of this most-written-and-talked-about generation, which encompasses those ranging in age from 18 to 29.

The lack of trust in longtime pillars of society among millennials is striking both for its depth and its breadth. No one is spared their side-eyed looks.

The media gets its worst — with 88 percent of millennials saying they only “sometimes” or “never” trust the press. Wall Street doesn’t fare much better, with 86 percent of millennials expressing distrust. Congress is at 82 percent. Three in four millennials (74 percent) sometimes or never trust the federal government to do the right thing, and two in three (63 percent) feel the same way about the president.  The Supreme Court, once a beacon of trust societywide, isn’t seen that way by millennials, with 58 percent saying they only sometimes or never trust the nation’s highest court to do the right thing. Heck, even local police aren’t spared; 50 percent say they trust the cops only sometimes or never to do the right thing, while 49 percent said they trust police “all” or “most” of the time.”

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Controversial MEK Leader Invited to Congress, Calls For Iran Overthrow to Fight ISIS

David Francis reports for Foreign Policy:

Featured photo - Long March of the Yellow Jackets: How a One-Time Terrorist Group Prevailed on Capitol HillThe controversial leader of an Iranian dissidents group was called to Capitol Hill to lend her expertise about the Islamic State lawmakers. Her testimony Wednesday showed she was only interested in talking about Iran.

Maryam Rajavi, leader of the Iranian dissidents organization Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), a group that until 2012 was list on the State Department’s terror list, insisted Tehran was the root of the Islamic State’s power. In prepared testimony, she mentioned Iran 135 times. By comparison, the Islamic State, or ISIS, got 19 mentions; Iraq was mentioned 48 times. Nuclear, as in Iran’s nuclear program, got 31 mentions.

But lawmakers tolerated Rajavi’s notion that “terrorism and fundamentalism came from the mullahs’ regime in Iran. When that is overthrown [the Islamic State] will be destroyed.”’

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TPP “A Corporate Trojan Horse”: Interview with Lori Wallah & Rep. Alan Grayson

‘Senate Finance Committee leaders Republican Orrin Hatch and Democrat Ron Wyden are expected to introduce a “fast-track” trade promotion authority bill as early as this week that would give the president authority to negotiate the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and then present it to Congress for a yes-or-no vote, with no amendments allowed. On Wednesday, more than 1,000 labor union members rallied on Capitol Hill to call on Democrats to oppose “fast-track” authority. We speak with two people closely following the proposed legislation: Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, and Rep. Alan Grayson, a Democrat from Florida.’ (Democracy Now!)

The Lobbying World: Living the High Life After Congress

Michael Winship writes for Moyers & Company:

[…] This is what ex-members of Congress and their staffs do nowadays. Rarely do they follow the example of ancient Rome’s Cincinnatus and go back to the farm – or take that teaching job at the local university or join a hometown law practice. They stay in DC to reap the bountiful harvest that comes from Capitol Hill experience and good old fashioned cronyism.

As a result of November’s midterm elections and retirements, at the beginning of the year nearly 50 members of the House and a dozen senators got the old heave-ho but competition for their services within the Beltway was, as The National Law Journal reported, “hot.”

The legal newspaper observed, “Firms usually want big names from leadership of industry regulation-focused committees, but with collegial, bipartisan reputations.” Washington headhunter Ivan Adler told the paper that bidding starts at a million for a retired senator, $500,000 or more for a former House member. And three years ago, investigative journalist Lee Fang found that when they join the lobbying world, “Lawmakers increased their salary by 1,452 percent on average from the last year they were in office to the latest publicly available disclosure.”’

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U.S. Congress must end mass NSA surveillance with next Patriot Act vote

Trevor Timm writes for The Guardian:

Will Congress put an end to the era of unfettered mass surveillance?In less than 60 days, Congress – whether they like it or not – will be forced to decide if the NSA’s most notorious mass surveillance program lives or dies. And today, over 30 civil liberties organizations launched a nationwide call-in campaign urging them to kill it.

Despite doing almost everything in their power to avoid voting for substantive NSA reform, Congress now has no choice: On 1 June, one of the most controversial parts of the Patriot Act – known as Section 215 – will expire unless both houses of Congress affirmatively vote for it to be reauthorized.

Section 215 of the Patriot Act was the subject of the very first Snowden story, when the Guardian reported that the US government had reinterpreted the law in complete secrecy, allowing the NSA to vacuum up every single American’s telephone records – who they called, who called them, when, and for how long – regardless of whether they had been accused of a crime or not. (The NSA’s warped interpretation of Section 215 was also the subject of John Oliver’s entire show on Sunday night. It is a must-watch.)’

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Republicans: The Cocaine Monkeys of Defense Spending

Veronique de Rugy writes for The Daily Beast:

Republicans claim that they, unlike Democrats, are the fiscally responsible party and often preach about the dangers of the growing national debt and the need to reduce the size of government. The reality is quite different, however. Apart from wanting to trim food stamps, foreign aid, and Medicaid, Republicans simply aren’t willing to specify the programs they are truly willing to ax—especially the Republicans now out on the campaign trail.

Exhibit A is defense spending. Republicans love it. In fact, they love it so much that they can’t get enough of it. Ever. For all their complaints about government inefficiency, many of them seem to think that it doesn’t apply to the Department of Defense, and that every additional dollar spent on projects like the F35—a supposedly nuclear-capable fighter jet that defense contractor Lockheed Martin has been working on since 2001 and is long overdue and over budget and still not fully operational—or the super-expensive and unnecessary Abrams Tank translates into increased national security.’

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Why John Oliver Can’t Find Americans Who Know Edward Snowden’s Name (It’s Not About Snowden)

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

On his HBO program last night, John Oliver devoted 30 minutes to a discussion of U.S. surveillance programs, advocating a much more substantive debate as the June 1 deadline for renewing the Patriot Act approaches (the full segment can be seen here). As part of that segment, Oliver broadcast an interview he conducted with Edward Snowden in Moscow, and to illustrate the point that an insufficient surveillance debate has been conducted, showed video of numerous people in Times Square saying they had no idea who Snowden is (or giving inaccurate answers about him). Oliver assured Snowden off-camera that they did not cherry-pick those “on the street” interviews but showed a representative sample.

Oliver’s overall discussion is good (and, naturally, quite funny), but the specific point he wants to make here is misguided. Contrary to what Oliver says, it’s actually not surprising at all that a large number of Americans are unaware of who Snowden is, nor does it say much at all about the surveillance debate. That’s because a large number of Americans, by choice, are remarkably unaware of virtually all political matters. The befuddled reactions of the Times Square interviewees when asked about Snowden illustrate little about the specific surveillance issue but a great deal about the full-scale political disengagement of a substantial chunk of the American population.’

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How Big Business Is Helping Expand NSA Surveillance, Snowden Be Damned

Lee Fang reports for The Intercept:

Since November 11, 2011, with the introduction of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, American spy agencies have been pushing laws to encourage corporations to share more customer information. They repeatedly failed, thanks in part to NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations of mass government surveillance. Then came Republican victories in last year’s midterm Congressional elections and a major push by corporate interests in favor of the legislation.

Today, the bill is back, largely unchanged, and if congressional insiders and the bill’s sponsors are to believed, the legislation could end up on President Obama’s desk as soon as this month. In another boon to the legislation, Obama is expected to reverse his past opposition and sign it, albeit in an amended and renamed form (CISPA is now CISA, the “Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act”). The reversal comes in the wake of high-profile hacks on JPMorgan Chase and Sony Pictures Entertainment. The bill has also benefitted greatly from lobbying by big business, which sees it as a way to cut costs and to shift some anti-hacking defenses onto the government.’

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Why the GOP is Sabotaging the Iran Talks: Interview with Jamal Abdi and Gareth Porter

Jamal Abdi of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) and Gareth Porter, author of Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare, join Thom Hartmann. The deadline has come and gone for a preliminary nuclear deal with Iran – and talks will now stretch into Wednesday. What are the chances the US and its partners actually reach an agreement with Iran? And why are Republicans really so eager to sabotage any rapprochment with the Islamic Republic?’ (The Big Picture)

If this is what an anti-war presidency looks like to you, you’re detached from reality

Trevor Timm writes for The Guardian:

obama clenched jawNothing sums up the warped foreign policy fantasy world in which Republicans live more than when House Speaker John Boehner recentlycalled Obama an “anti-war president” under which America “is sitting on the sidelines” in the increasingly chaotic Middle East.

If Obama is an anti-war president, he’s the worst anti-war president in history. In the last six years, the Obama administration has bombed seven countries in the Middle East alone and armed countless more with tens of billions in dollars in weapons. But that’s apparently not enough for Republicans. As the Isis war continues to expand and Yemen descends into civil war, everyone is still demanding more: If only we bombed the region a little bit harder, then they’ll submit.

In between publishing a new rash of overt sociopathic “Bomb Iran” op-eds, Republicans and neocons are circulating a new talking point: Obama doesn’t have a “coherent” or “unifying” strategy in the Middle East. But you can’t have a one-size-fits-all strategy in an entire region that is almost incomprehensibly complex – which is why no one, including the Republicans criticizing Obama, actually has an answer for what that strategy should be. It’s clear that this new talking point is little more than thinly veiled code for we’re not killing enough Muslims or invading enough countries.’

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In Washington, the Real Power Lies With the Spooks, Eavesdroppers and Assassins

Matthew Harwood reviews Michael Glennon’s “National Security and Double Government” for Medium:

[…] If you’ve noticed that the national security policies of Pres. Barack Obama’s administration are almost indistinguishable from those of the previous Republican administration and wondered why, Glennon has a “disquieting explanation” for you.

There are two governments — a double government — operating today in the realm of national security. There’s the one the voting public thinks they control when they go to the polls — what Glennon refers to as the “Madisonian institutions.” Congress, the courts and the presidency.

And there’s the “Trumanite network,” the labyrinthine national security apparatus that encompasses the military, intelligence and law enforcement communities that Pres. Harry Truman created when he signed the National Security Act of 1947.’

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Obama: I Should’ve Closed Gitmo on Day One

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

[…] Obama announced his intention to close the facility within a year, a non-controversial position at the time. Within a few months, however, Congressional hawks started opposing the move. Obama admitted the “path of least resistance was to just keep it open.

This admission is in stark contrast to what the White House has been saying all along, that the president had been working hard to close the facility and still intended to get it done.’

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‘Patriot Act 2.0’? Senate Cybersecurity Bill Seen as Trojan Horse for More Spying

Nadia Prupis reports for Common Dreams:

cisa.jpgThe U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee approved a cybersecurity bill during a secret session on Thursday, marking the next step in a process that critics warn will nefariously expand the government’s already substantial surveillance powers.

The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), which passed by 14-1 vote, would ostensibly protect against large-scale data thefts of private consumer information, exemplified by recent hacks of Target, Sony, and Home Depot. But critics—including the lone dissenting voice on the committee Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Or.)—say it would open the door for continued invasive and unlawful government spying operations.

Although Wyden denounced the measure as “a surveillance bill by another name,” his opposition was unable to stop the proposal from being approved by the committee. The bill, which reportedly underwent a dozen changes during the meeting, will next go to the full Senate for debate. Its passage in committee, however, means it has already succeeded where other recent cybersecurity proposals have failed.’

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