White House Panelist On NSA Says NSA May Enable a “Police State”

Richard Clarke is one of the four White House panelists on NSA spying, and the former top counter-terror czar in the Clinton and Bush administrations.

Image: Reddit Logo (Wikimedia Commons).

Clarke has previously said that mass surveillance isn’t needed to keep us safe. And see this.

As Tech Target reports:

Revelations about NSA monitoring activities over the last year show the potential for a police state mechanism, according to the former U.S. cybersecurity czar, but there is still time to avoid the dire consequences.


“[T]hey have created, with the growth of technologies, the potential for a police state.”


“Once you give up your rights, you can never get them back. Once you turn on that police state, you can never turn it off.”

Indeed, top American officials have warned for decades of a police state enabled by the NSA.

And a former top NSA official said that we’ve already got a police state.  He told Washington’s Blog:

I am glad he [Clarke] also understands the threat to democracy.

The only reason I recognized that in 2001 is because I worked the Soviet problem for close to 30 years … and what NSA was doing was exactly what the Soviet’s tried to do (as well as the Stasi and the Gestapo/SS).

And see this.

Georgia Police Strip Search Drivers During Minor Traffic Stops

An investigation out of Georgia has uncovered multiple police departments engaged in strip searches as well as searches inside the pants of drivers pulled over for minor traffic violations.

A driver argues against an officer’s illegal search off camera as he is forced to unbuckle his pants (2:05).

“He was like, ‘Just unbuckle all your clothes’ and put his hands down inside my pants,” Terry Phillips told Channel 2 Action News.

While sitting in the passenger seat after his wife was pulled over for a suspended registration, Phillips was unexpectedly ordered to exit the vehicle by Forest Park police. Coming up empty on a vehicle search, police suddenly turned their attention back towards Phillips, demanding he submit to a search as well.

Expecting a legal, outside the clothes pat down, Phillips consented to the officer’s requests, only to have the officer demand he pull down his pants on the side of the road.

“That’s illegal, man, you can’t do that. You can’t do that,” Phillips told the officer.

Noting that Phillips was aware of his rights, the officer suddenly claimed to smell marijuana, demanding Phillips remain still as he continued his illegal search.

Although officers are allowed to pat down the outside of clothing to check for weapons, the officer clearly violated Phillips’ rights by demanding he remove his clothing. Unsurprisingly, no marijuana was found on Phillips or in the vehicle.

“That’s a general strip-search, which you’re not allowed to do unless it’s an emergency or it’s done in a controlled environment by professional people where other people aren’t there to look in a public setting,” Phillips’ attorney Mark Bullman said. “You can’t be moving people’s clothing and opening them, particularly in situations where there’s not been a custodial arrest.”

Internal records obtained by Channel 2 revealed that a police captain had already reported a “unit-wide” issue regarding searches six months prior. Following the discovery of Phillips encounter, several others came forward as well, revealing the same invasive searches during minor traffic stops.

Another passenger, Ben Kassars, was subjected to a similar search after his roommate was pulled over for allegedly following a vehicle to closely. Claiming the men had drugs and threatening them with jail if they refused, officers went inside Kassars’ pants as he leaned on the back of his vehicle.

“I was humiliated… They took my belt off, unzipped my pants,” Kassars said. “They looked in my pants on the front, the side, the back. It was terrible. I felt like a girl. I felt defenseless. I felt like there was nothing I could do about it.”

No drugs were discovered on either men.

The report also detailed truck driver Camishi Jones, who was pulled over by a Cobb County officer after reportedly driving in the left lane on Interstate 75. Taken out of her vehicle for an alleged weapons search, Camishi experienced a TSA-style pat down from the male officer.

“He was all touching my breast, up in my vagina area… He actually stuck his hand up in between my buttocks,” Jones said. “I felt that I was being molested with his hands.”

No weapons were discovered on Jones.

Another man, Alphonzo Eleby, was approached by DeKalb county police while talking to a friend at a local gas station as he waited for his tank to fill. Having nothing to hide, Eleby consented to an officer’s search request like the others, assuming a normal pat down would take place.

“He went inside my underwear and searched my genital area,” Eleby said. ”It’s just embarrassing. I’ve got everybody seeing me exposed.”

Despite having no drugs, officers claimed Eleby threw “something” to the ground, charging him with possession of marijuana. After the gas station’s surveillance video of the altercation was released, it was revealed that Eleby never threw anything at all, with the officer instead appearing to throw something.

Charges were quickly dropped.

The investigation found more than half a dozen similar encounters with departments all across the state, leading many to wonder if a state wide policy has been quietly implemented by police. Incredibly, similar incidents have been reported all across the country as well in recent years.

Don’t Blame the Fed for the Turmoil in Emerging Markets

The bubble hasn’t even burst yet, and people are pointing fingers at Ben Bernanke
By John Aziz
A money changer counts Turkish lira bills at a currency exchange office in Istanbul on January 24.
A money changer counts Turkish lira bills at a currency exchange office in Istanbul on January 24. (REUTERS/Murad Sezer)

number of emerging market economies — most notably Turkey and Argentina — have run into severe economic problems since 2014 began. Both the Argentine peso and the Turkish lira have fallen off a cliff against the U.S. dollar due to economic instability — in Turkey, a corruption probe that may bring down the government, and in Argentina, looting amid police strikesas well as rampant inflation. There are also fears that both countries are running out of the U.S. dollars necessary to conduct international trade.

Markets have taken badly to this news, especially in the context of the Federal Reserve’s plan to taper its quantitative easing programs. Many see the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy as having increased flows from the United States to emerging markets, where interest rates are higher. Once the spigot is turned off, some fear a bloodbath in developing economies.

Global stocks — both emerging markets and developed markets — dipped last week, and dipped again on Monday. Of course, one week and a day of losses doesn’t make for a global crisis yet. The Federal Reserve has not ended its stimulus, and this may just be a wobble. But even if we do have a global downturn, it would be wrong to blame America and the Federal Reserve, as some are already reaching to do.

In 2010, the Nobel economics laureate Joeseph Stiglitz — while criticizing the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy — voiced such a fear:

The U.S. Federal Reserve’s plan to expand stimulus will fuel potential asset bubbles in emerging countries with strong growth that don’t have capital control measures, Nobel Prize laureate Joseph Stiglitz said.

“I do have worries on countries like India,” Stiglitz, a Columbia University economics professor, said today at a conference in Hong Kong. “The strong economies that don’t yet have capital control become the focal point for all this money.” [Bloomberg]

So why do I disagree?

Essentially, because these kinds of bubbles happen organically, irrespective of what the Fed does. What has occurred in the emerging market economies like China, Russia, Brazil, India, Turkey, South Africa, etc in the last ten years is a huge outburst of growth — massive development, massive new industries, massive change in labor markets, massive infrastructure creation, massive demographic changes as people from the countryside flood into the cities. Look at the differencebetween Shanghai in 1987 and Shanghai in 2013! That kind of mass scale economic transformation has occurred in hundreds of cities across five continents.

These huge, rapid changes create huger uncertainty. Will the boom continue? Will real estate prices continue to rise? How will the boom end if it ends? Are emerging market governments misallocating resources by spending so much on infrastractureIs the buildup of financial system debt excessive? Can the Chinese government (or the Turkish government, or the Argentine government, etc) prevent a crash or meltdown if necessary?

Whether or not the Federal Reserve is engaging in quantitative easing — and the future path of that easing — is of course a factor that investors consider in assessing the market and valuing assets. But it is just one factor. Without this factor (say there had been no American real estate crash in 2008, and no zero interest rate policy or quantitative easing) there would still be massive uncertainty as to the future economic outcomes of each of the emerging market economies. And with massive uncertainty, comes massive potential for investors as a group to ignore risk, and inflate bubbles in their irrational exuberance.

Of course, there have been massive flows of cash out of the United States since the beginning of quantitative easing (and in the decade before it even began). But wouldn’t there have been anyway, given the huge growth rates these countries are experiencing and their development? The money is going there because labor is cheap, growth is high, and there are abundant natural resources like land awaiting development. All of this is is true with or without quantitative easing.

Investors’ negative expectations about the taper may result in a rout in emerging markets, or they may not. That will be decided in the future. Personally, I would hazard a guess that investors are mistakenly assuming that the Fed will end quantitative easing and raise rates at the expense of a stronger recovery. Still, investors overstating fears of an early end to stimulus in the United States does not that make an emerging market meltdown less likely. The massive uncertainty and instability in emerging markets exists whatever the Fed does or doesn’t do.

FEMA Preparing For “Motor Coach Evacuation of the General Population”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is soliciting companies to provide operational support for a “motor coach evacuation of the general population” of the United States in response to a declared emergency or a natural disaster.

Image: FEMA Check-In Point (Wikimedia Commons).

The solicitation originally appeared on the FedBizOpps website back in October but was recently revised after businesses began asking FEMA questions about the contract.

“This is a synopsis for a single indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract to obtain evacuation planning and operational support to facilitate a motor coach evacuation of the general population in response to Presidential-Declared Emergencies and Major Disasters within the continental United States,” states the solicitation.

Attachments to the solicitation provide more details, including of how FEMA requires companies to provide security at “a staging and operational area in the event of a no-notice, life threatening event that requires the contractor’s immediate or rapid deployment.”

One scenario outlined in the documents is a massive hurricane striking Florida and the Louisiana-Texas-coast which would mandate the evacuation of thousands of citizens in the affected areas.

The document notes that even in the event of a presidential declaration of emergency and an official evacuation order, “Many people (would) refuse to evacuate.”

FEMA was preparing for a pandemic by seeking, “vendors that can potentially provide either dumpster service and/or bio-medical waste collection and removal services during emergency response events within the Continental United States.”

Although FEMA would argue that its job is to prepare for every kind of national emergency that could possibly be envisaged, such actions routinely prompt concerns from some that such crises could be exploited to justify unconstitutional actions.

During Hurricane Katrina, law enforcement disarmed residents even in the high and dry areas, with police telling citizens, “No one will be able to be armed. We will take all weapons. Only law enforcement will be allowed to have guns.”

Networks of emergency detention camps have been constructed across the United States, despite the fact that the media treats such claims as baseless conspiracy theories.

In 2006, Halliburton subsidiary KBR was awarded a contract by the Department of Homeland Security to build detention centers designed to deal with “an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S.,” or the rapid development of unspecified “new programs” that would require large numbers of people to be interned.

In December 2011, a state government employee confirming that KBR was seeking sub-contractors to staff and outfit “emergency environment” camps located in five regions of the United States.

During the Iran-Contra hearings it was revealed that the U.S. government had secret plans to detain large numbers of American citizens considered to be “national security threats” under Rex 84, short for Readiness Exercise 1984.

In 2006 we revealed how a FEMA program was training pastors to teach their congregations to “obey the government” in preparation for a declaration of martial law, property and firearm seizures, and forced relocation.

Nationwide Backlash Against ‘Voluntary’ Police Checkpoints

More and more police departments are dropping out of a “voluntary” federal government traffic checkpoint program that aims to curb drunken driving and driving under the influence of drugs as it comes under increasing criticism in cities around the country.

As reported by USA Today, the government tactic to gather information about those driving under the influence involves the utilization of a subcontractor for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in which off-duty but uniformed police officers man the roadside checkpoints. At them, motorists are being asked about their behavior behind the wheel:

In some cases, workers at the checkpoints collect blood and saliva samples, in addition to breath samples. NHTSA has said previously that the surveys do not collect any DNA. Drivers are not charged at the checkpoints.

Fewer of us trust our government these days

But the problem is nearly entirely political. In an age where fewer and fewer Americans trust or believe the motives and stated objectives of federal agencies and departments, and in the wake of the Obama administration’s National Security Agency surveillance scandal – in which the agency has been collecting electronic communications records on millions of unsuspecting Americans – the checkpoints have come under intense fire from citizens this past year in cities where they have been set up.

“Five years ago it would have been a different story,” says St. Charles County, Mo., Sheriff Tom Neer, who told the paper that he recently authorized deputies to participate in a checkpoint in his St. Louis suburb – then witnessed a major backlash from the public.

“There’re just such strong anti-government feelings among people. Under the circumstances, I would not allow them to do it again. It’s just because of the perception,” he told USA Today.

The highway agency has been collecting surveys for about four decades in cities around the country, roughly every 10 years or so. In a number of cases, off-duty, uniformed police randomly wave motorists over to the checkpoints where they are asked by Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation subcontractors if they would like to participate in the voluntary study. Drivers who say no, they would rather not, are allowed to leave.

But, as the paper notes:

[T]he mere presence of uniformed officers gives the checkpoints an aura of authority, says Mary Catherine Roper, a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania. She is studying the issue there after motorists complained about a survey checkpoint last month in Reading.

“We have a whole bunch of rules about when police can pull you over,” she says. “It looks like an exercise of official authority when a cop pulls you over. People assume it’s mandatory, and of course you’re going to stop. That’s a constitutional problem right there.

“Normally, police cannot pull you over unless they have a good reason for thinking you’ve done something wrong,” Roper told the paper. “There’s no exemption to the Constitution for conducting a survey. They’re pulling people off the road.”

She says further that “there are lots of other places you can talk to drivers. You could hand out notes at a toll booth asking them to participate. You could do them at highway rest stops. There are a lot of ways to do this that do not involve… the government forcing you off the road.”

Justifying government’s latest assault on the Constitution

As you might expect, the government agency conducting the surveys defended its actions by completely dismissing the constitutional argument.

“Each year, close to 10,000 people die in drunk driving crashes: 27 people a day, or one person every 53 minutes, according to data (from NHTSA),” the NHTSA statement said, as reported by USA Today.

“To better understand the issue, the agency has regularly conducted its National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drugged Driving in communities across the country for over 40 years. The survey provides useful data about alcohol and drug use by drivers, and participation is completely voluntary and anonymous,” said the agency.

“More than 60 communities across the country will participate this year, many of which participated in the previous survey in 2007. NHTSA always works closely with state and local safety officials and local law enforcement to conduct these surveys as we work to better inform our efforts to reduce drunk and drugged driving,” it said.

So, in other words, because the effort is supposedly honorable – enhancing public safety – the Constitution doesn’t really matter.





Judge Rules NSA Spying on All Your Phone Calls is Legal and Justified

It should have been a slam-dunk case of wholesale violation of the Fourth Amendment. But instead, the National Security Agency can spy on you anytime it wants, and without need for any bothersome warrants.

That is the opinion of one federal court anyway. As reported recently by the Washington Post, the government’s premier spy agency – which was founded to conduct international spying, not surveillance of Americans domestically – is permitted to intercept all kinds of your personal data, because, hey, they’re trying to protect us:

A federal judge in New York ruled… that the massive collection of domestic telephone data brought to light by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden is lawful, rejecting a challenge to the program by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The decision marked a victory for the government less than two weeks after a District Court judge ruled against it, finding that the NSA’s program was almost certainly unconstitutional. If the split in rulings continues through the appeals process, it is likely the Supreme Court will have to decide the issue.

So, yes, one federal judge, who accurately read the Fourth Amendment and took literally its guarantee that citizens are “secure in the papers and effects” from unjustified government prying, found the NSA’s blanket surveillance unconstitutional. Another federal judge, however, did not.

But how? Aren’t all federal judges cut from the same cloth?

Hardly. Remember, federal judges are nominated to the bench by very partisan presidents; Republicans tend to nominate constitutionalists, while Democrats – tend not to. The first ruling came “in the case Klayman v. Obama, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon granted a request for an injunction that blocked the collection of the phone data of conservative legal activist Larry Klayman,” the Post reported. “Klayman brought his lawsuit against the president with a co-plaintiff, Charles Strange, the father of Michael J. Strange, a slain Navy cryptologic technician who was killed with a SEAL team in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.” Leon was appointed to the U.S. District Court in Washington in 2002 by President George W. Bush.

Two judges, two rulings, two political perspectives

The second ruling, a 53-page opinion issued by U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III, said the NSA program is the federal government’s “counter-punch” to al-Qaeda, even though the issue is the agency’s blanket collection of Americans’ phone records, and as such does not constitute a Fourth Amendment violation. Pauley was appointed to the bench in 1998 by President Bill Clinton.

“The government learned from its mistake and adapted to confront a new enemy: a terror network capable of orchestrating attacks across the world,” Pauley wrote, noting that wider use of U.S. spy capabilities might have prevented the 9/11 attacks. “It launched a number of counter-measures, including a bulk telephony metadata collection program – a wide net that could find and isolate gossamer contacts among suspected terrorists in an ocean of seemingly disconnected data.”

He added: “This blunt tool only works because it collects everything.”

Following Pauley’s ruling, Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said the government is “pleased the court found the NSA’s bulk telephony metadata collection program to be lawful.”

The ACLU, not so much.

“We are extremely disappointed with this decision, which misinterprets the relevant statutes, understates the privacy implications of the government’s surveillance and misapplies a narrow and outdated precedent to read away core constitutional protections,” said Jameel Jaffer, an ACLU deputy legal director. She added that the ACLU will appeal.

So much for the Constitution

The legal group filed its initial suit on June 11, just a few days after the data collection program was outed by Britain’s Guardian newspaper, which based its report on classified information passed to it by Edward Snowden, an NSA analyst-turned-whistleblower.

More from the Post:

The NSA program collects records of the numbers that Americans call and the duration of those calls, but not content. Civil liberties advocates have argued that the collection and storage of that data represent a violation of Americans’ right to privacy.

The government has based its legal justification for the program on a 1979 case, Smith v. Maryland, in which the Supreme Court found Americans have no expectation of privacy in the telephone metadata that companies hold as business records and ruled that a warrant is not required to obtain such information.

How this complies with the very plain language of the Constitution is, of course, difficult to fathom, but when your government has long since grown weary of justifying its every move – and has stacked enough of the Judicial Branch to generally get its way – such rulings should not surprise us anymore.

But they should make us angry enough to vote.




Would Be Street Robber Ends Up Being Shot in Head, Chest, Arms and Legs by His Victim

Things didn’t go the way Patrick Davis planned when he attempted to rob two friends who were walking through the College Hill neighborhood in St. Louis, MO.

According to media reports, Davis approached the two men and demanded money.

A struggle ensued. During the struggle, one of the victims drew a handgun and shot Davis in the face, chest, arms and legs.

Davis was dropped off at an area hospital by two unidentified individuals.

Police quickly commented David with the robbery attempt which was called in shortly before Davis arrived at the hospital.

Davis was declared dead upon arrival to the hospital.

The identities of the victims have not been released. It is also unknown if the men who dropped Davis off at the hospital were connected to the crime in any way.