Sunday, June 25, 2017

National Security

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NSA Leaker
Try 'hacking' through the bars of your prison cell, leaker!

The Department of Justice recently announced in a statement, the charges against a government contractor who allegedly leaked classified documents to the media. The statement also reveals how they eventually caught her.

“A criminal complaint was filed in the Southern District of Georgia today charging Reality Leigh Winner, 25, a federal contractor from Augusta, Georgia, with removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 793(e),” it read.

“On or about May 9, Winner printed and improperly removed classified intelligence reporting, which contained classified national defense information from an intelligence community agency, and unlawfully retained it,” the statement explained. “Approximately a few days later, Winner unlawfully transmitted by mail the intelligence reporting to an online news outlet.”

The media has since noted that the government only seems to have caught her after the said news outlet asked for a comment about their story, but in an apparent mistake provided the government with the original documents.

“The U.S. Government Agency examined the document shared by the News Outlet and determined the pages of the intelligence reporting appeared to be folded and/or creased, suggesting they had been printed and hand-carried out of a secured space,” the complaint read.

Hence, because of the crease in the paper, officials knew they had to look for people who had printed the document and taken it out of the “secured space” physically. After discovering six individuals who had printed the document, they found that one had sent emails to the news outlet.

Winner was suspected to have leaked the highly classified document to The Intercept, which then ran a story based on the report, talking about how US intelligence authorities had monitored hundreds of hacking attempts before the 2016 presidential election.

“The top-secret National Security Agency document, which was provided anonymously to The Intercept and independently authenticated, analyzes intelligence very recently acquired by the agency about a months-long Russian intelligence cyber effort against elements of the U.S. election and voting infrastructure. The report, dated May 5, 2017, is the most detailed U.S. government account of Russian interference in the election that has yet come to light.”

Since taking over the White House, the Trump administration has been a victim of constant leaks that have become a major problem for the president and his agenda.

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TSA Search
Hey, I wonder if this traveler has a phone charger in here - I've been needing a new one!

Much has been said of the ineffectiveness and intrusiveness of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) over the last decade and a half. However, when newspaper headlines start mocking the agency for asking a passenger “Is that a cookie or a bomb?”, it becomes clear that we have a real problem.

To be sure, there is a vital need for pre-flight security. That has never been in question. What has been questioned is the amount of power granted to a single federal agency for performing functions that can, could, and should be undertaken by private agencies under contract with the federal government. At least private contractors could be fired for the troubling behavior demonstrated by the TSA over the years, including beating-bloody passengers with special needs, humiliating teenagers over choice of clothing, and making incredibly rude remarks about passengers – including U.S. Olympians.

Despite numerous incidents of this nature, the TSA is routinely rewarded each year with billions of taxpayer dollars, out of blind deference to the golden calf of “national security.” And now, federal officials are poised to give the agency even more power over you.

Responding to recent terror threats in the same, often ham-fisted and reactionary methods typical of federal agencies in the post 9/11 world, the TSA currently is testing new screening procedures that require passengers to remove food and reading materials from carry-on bags. In addition to demanding that passengers place their shoes, coats, laptops, “liquids,” and any other bulky items in separate bins, new procedures being applied in several airports require passengers to separate out books, magazines, and snacks for extra inspection by TSA agents.

Where today passengers are advised to arrive at their departure airport at least two hours before a scheduled flight, one can only imagine the additional time delays this will create with TSA screenings; though, this should be the least of passengers’ worries. According to TSA officials, screeners may “fan” reading materials while checking for contraband, but promise they are not actually paying attention to what travelers are reading. Never mind that it was revealed only two years ago that TSA’s SPOT (Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques) program employs subjective behavioral markers such as excessive body odor and sweating, for secret scorings to determine if an individual passenger likely is a terrorist. Yet, have no fear — the content of a person’s reading material is completely off-limits. Sure.

Try as they might to convince us of their trustworthiness, nothing in the TSA’s history of gratuitously punitive, if not deliberately petty behavior, leads us to believe this to be true. Rather, what is more likely is that reading material specifically will become the focal point of TSA screeners’ discretion as to whether passengers warrant additional screening. A passenger’s magazines and books will then be subject also to callous remarks from agents; all of which passengers must silently endure. After all, what other recourse do they have when faced with abuse from federal agents – submit or miss your flight, or find yourself facing criminal charges.

Passengers, who long ago should have abandoned hope for even a modicum of privacy or dignity when attempting to fly, must also endure the embarrassment of pulling out their choice of reading for other passengers to see and judge. Ready to fly? You must also be ready for your fellow passengers to know if you are dealing with marriage issues, depression, or a have a predilection for erotica. It will soon be all on display as agents “fan” through your reading material with the restraint and professionalism demonstrated with other luggage items.

To its credit, TSA’s Pre-Check program, in which passengers apply to be vetted before flying and then are allowed expedited screening without all the dehumanizing antics of going through non-Pre-Check screening, is a significant step in the right direction. However, rather than double-down on what has so far been a relatively successful program, TSA fritters away its budget on other highly questionable projects like SPOT, and now what might be called its “Approved Reading Materials Assessment Program” (“ARMAP” for short).

Congress, of course, should step in and undertake serious oversight of TSA, including this latest foray into inspecting an individual’s reading materials.  Unfortunately, considering the deference with which the Congress has approached funding TSA year after year, it is unlikely the legislative branch of our federal government will do more now, than issue some stern warnings followed by approving increased funding for yet another year.  And the privacy rights of the citizenry – at least those who wish to exercise their right to travel by commercial air carriers – will have suffered another blow in the name of “national security.”

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safe

In a recent poll from the Morning Consult, 41% of the responders believe that Donald Trump would do a better job at keeping our country safe than Hillary. Only 37% believe that Hillary would do better. 22% didn’t have an opinion or didn’t know the answer.

The big jump was in Independents, with 38% siding with Trump over 26% for Hillary.

The most remarkable information to take from the poll is that 48% of Americans think that Trump’s temporary ban on Muslims is a good idea. 40% think its is a bad idea.

Despite the administration’s best efforts to try and call the terrorism in Orlando a “hate crime”, the people see through the smoke and mirrors and know that our real enemy is radical Islam.

Obama said that Hillary could be the most qualified person to ever run for president, but the people do not really trust her to keep us safe.

The Orlando attack brought terrorism back to the front of our minds, and now what is most important is shifting. People care less about transgender bathrooms now, and are worrying more about if they are going to get shot while they are dancing.

The world is a scary place, and Hillary wants to distract you from the dangers of the world by talking about equal pay for women.

If Trump keeps talking American safety and the terrorist strikes keep happening, there is a good chance that Hillary will be defeated in November.

Do you trust Hillary over Trump to keep the United States safe? Let us know in the comments below.

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Border Patrol

Americans are on the verge of learning if their new Republican-majority Congress will decide to renege on its constitutional obligation by choosing President Obama’s lawless amnesty over national security.

It’s a contentious issue involving funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In mid -January, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $40 billion DHS spending bill with amendments that ban all illegal activities associated with Obama’s executive actions on immigration, which are set to spare millions of illegal aliens from deportation. The appropriations measure passed clean, with no taxpayer money for illegal activities.

Now it sits before the Senate and the big question is will our elected officials fund DHS by passing the House bill prohibiting money to pay for the president’s amnesty measures? Or will the Senate block the measure from becoming law, essentially sending the message that amnesty for undocumented aliens takes priority over national security? Republicans have 54 seats in the Senate and the bill needs 60 votes to pass with the crucial anti-amnesty amendments attached. Obama has threatened to veto the measure if it doesn’t include cash for his unlawful amnesty provisions.

It appears that the bill won’t even get to the president’s desk, however. Senate Democrats have threatened to block the measure if it excludes funding for the various illegal immigrant programs. In fact, in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Democrats say that the clean “House bill cannot pass the Senate.” They mention the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, Ottawa and Australia as well as the threat of ISIS to make a case for the critical DHS funding. “We know that you share our desire to keep our nation safe in these dangerous times, and we thank you for considering our request,” the letter ends.

This is classic political theater that, unfortunately, has become all too common in our government. No wonder Congress’s approval ratings are at an all-time low. Americans are disgusted with their elected officials—both Democrat and Republican—in Washington D.C. In this case, McConnell, who has previously served as Senate Republican leader four times, initially vowed to stop Obama’s outrageous executive amnesty initiatives. But recently he began backpedaling from the defunding strategy, according to a national organization dedicated to examining immigration trends and effects.

It certainly appears that Republicans aren’t pushing hard enough to pass the House version of the DHS funding bill. Just today McConnell delivered a softball speech on the Senate floor, calling on Democrats to join Republicans and “stand up for core democratic principles like the rule of law and separation of powers.” A few days earlier Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions brought awareness to a broader issue by asking “who does Congress work for?” The veteran lawmaker points out that the House-approved version before the Senate “fully funds every activity, program, and function of DHS that is authorized by law.” Only actions that fall outside the scope of the law are not funded.

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