Bill Kristol’s Cato Crush

William Kristol is promoting at the Weekly Standard an article by “two of America’s leading libertarian legal thinkers, no friends to intrusive government,” to support Kristol’s assertion that the National Security Agency mass secret spying program is a “legitimate use of government power to protect the nation from our enemies abroad.”

The defense of the NSA program by these two authors is of particular note because of the authors’ affiliation with the Cato Institute that describes itself as “dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace” and having a “strict respect for civil liberties and skepticism about the benefits of both the welfare state and foreign military adventurism.” The authors’ article is providing valuable cover for the advocates of the mass spying program.

The authors of the article Kristol is promoting are Cato Institute Center for Constitutional Studies President Roger Pilon and Cato Institute Adjunct Scholar Richard A. Epstein who wrote an attempted sweeping exculpation of the National Security Agency (NSA) and all the branches of the US government for the NSA’s mass spying on phone calls. Here is a portion of the authors’ defense:

“Legally, the president is on secure footing under the Patriot Act, which Congress passed shortly after 9/11 and has since reauthorized by large bipartisan majorities. As he stressed, the program has enjoyed the continued support of all three branches of the federal government. It has been free of political abuse since its inception. And as he rightly added, this nation has real problems if its people, at least here, can’t trust the combined actions of the executive branch and the Congress, backstopped by federal judges sworn to protect our individual liberties secured by the Bill of Rights.”

Continue reading at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

Bipartisan Agreement: Anti-TSA Amendment Disqualifies Rep. Broun from Winning Senate Race

United States Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia, who is running for US Senate, struck a nerve when he offered an amendment to eliminate funding for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) during consideration of the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act in the House of Representatives last week. At Roll Call, this amendment is characterized as the latest example of Broun’s “penchant for pushing amendments that are viewed as extreme, even by many in his own party.” The article includes quotes from Republican and Democrat pundits piling on Rep. Broun, saying that his offering of the amendment is one of the reasons Broun can win neither the Republican primary nor the general election.

If Broun is strong enough in the Senate race and does not acquiesce to staying within the prescribed limits of political debate, do not be surprised if significant money flows into attacking him for his TSA amendment. Such spending, if seen as successful in defeating Broun, can teach other politicians that it is not safe to independently oppose core aspects of the US government’s march forward in spending and power, especially in the areas of security and police.

Continue reading at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

 

US Government Spying: Constructing a ‘Turnkey Totalitarian State’?

The Washington Post reports that the ranking minority member of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence seems not too concerned about the United States government collecting information about our phone conversations:

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, said, “This is nothing particularly new…. Every member of the United States Senate has been advised of this.”

He added: “It is simply what we call metadata that is never utilized by any government agency” unless an agency goes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judges for further review of the information.

Using section 215 of the PATRIOT Act federal government agencies can require companies to hand over this and other personal information without the government establishing reasonable grounds, much less the constitutionally required probably cause, that the people whose information is sought are engaged in criminal activity.

When section 215 came up for re-authorization in 2011, Sens. Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, also members of the Senate Intelligence Committee with access to classified briefings on the US government’s use and interpretation of section 215 powers, warned that Americans would be concerned about the powers being exercised and promoted unsuccessful efforts to limit the exercise of these powers. Declan McCullagh detailed the senators’ concerns and legislative efforts.

Continue reading at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

Illinois School District Forces Students to Self-Incriminate

What could be less controversial than a US public high school social studies teacher informing his students that they have the right to refuse to answer whether they have done something illegal? In fact, this concept—the right against self-incrimination—is part of the typical high school curriculum. Nonetheless, in Illinois this week the Batavia Public School District 101 school board reprimanded and disciplined Mr. John Dryden, a public high school social studies teacher, for informing some of his students of just this concept.

Dryden, who received a student survey just before his first class of the day, realized his students’ names were on their respective survey forms, meaning the survey was not anonymous. He also noticed the survey asked about matters including the students’ drug, alcohol, and tobacco use, as well as their emotions. Dryden then informed some of his students they could apply to this survey the right against self-incrimination. The school district found this otherwise routine lesson unacceptable when the lesson stood in the way of school officials reviewing completed surveys.

Continue reading at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.