McCain: ‘Vote For Berlin Wall!’

Sen. John McCain is promoting the so-called immigration bill (S.744) in the United States Senate by emphasizing it will create “the most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin Wall.” Apparently, McCain believes this argument will convince other senators to vote for the legislation. The “border-industrial complex” we have been warned about is out in the open.

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

Farm Freedom: US House Votes for Pro-Hemp Amendment

The United States House of Representatives voted 225-220 on Thursday to remove the US government prohibition on colleges and universities growing industrial hemp for research purposes in compliance with state laws. The vote was taken on an amendment offered by Rep. Jared Polis and cosponsors Reps. Earl Blumenauer and Thomas Massie during consideration of the farm bill (H.R. 1947). While the farm bill failed to pass in the House, the amendment vote has established majority support in the House for some rollback of US government restrictions on growing hemp.

The majority support for the House amendment is particularly significant given that the US Drug Enforcement Administration was distributing talking points in opposition. While their talking points claimed a DEA permit was the only requirement to grow hemp, they conveniently failed to mention North Dakota farmers Wayne Hauge and David Monson, whose attempts to obtain DEA permits to grow hemp proved futile.

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

Government’s Gun Law Ruse to Access Mental Health Records

Your appointment with a psychiatrist or admission to a mental health facility may now be included in United States and state government databases. What happened to the protection of medical privacy? The United States government and some state governments adopted legislation directing that mental health issues can bar people from owning guns. But, you protest, you neither own a gun nor intend to buy a gun. It doesn’t matter. The government will still put your information in the database, just in case.

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

US Mass Spying Loses Obama’s ‘Shoddy Coat of Legitimacy’

Declan McCullagh at cnet.com reports on Rep. Jerrold Nadler’s revelation that the United States executive branch has admitted in a secret briefing to Members of the US House of Representatives that a US government analyst can listen to phone calls at his own discretion without any warrant or other authorization. McCullagh’s dense article, well worth a close read, proceeds to explain that this means “thousands of low-ranking analysts” probably can unilaterally decide to snoop on the contents of email, text, and instant messages as well. McCullagh also addresses the enormity of the mass spying operation and its capabilities.

Nadler’s revelation directly contradicts President Barack Obama’s emphatic denials earlier this month:

When it comes to telephone calls, nobody is listening to your telephone calls.  That’s not what this program is about.  As was indicated, what the intelligence community is doing is looking at phone numbers and durations of calls.  They are not looking at people’s names, and they’re not looking at content.  But by sifting through this so-called metadata, they may identify potential leads with respect to folks who might engage in terrorism.  If these folks — if the intelligence community then actually wants to listen to a phone call, they’ve got to go back to a federal judge, just like they would in a criminal investigation.So I want to be very clear — some of the hype that we’ve been hearing over the last day or so — nobody is listening to the content of people’s phone calls.  This program, by the way, is fully overseen not just by Congress, but by the FISA Court — a court specially put together to evaluate classified programs to make sure that the executive branch, or government generally, is not abusing them, and that it’s being carried out consistent with the Constitution and rule of law.

And so, not only does that court authorize the initial gathering of data, but — I want to repeat — if anybody in government wanted to go further than just that top-line data and want to, for example, listen to Jackie Calmes’ phone call, they would have to go back to a federal judge and indicate why, in fact, they were doing further probing.

Now, with respect to the Internet and emails — this does not apply to U.S. citizens and it does not apply to people living in the United States.  And again, in this instance, not only is Congress fully apprised of it, but what is also true is that the FISA Court has to authorize it.

Obama’s claims that only metadata was collected, that the program was fully overseen by Congress, and that content of phone calls and Internet communications could only be obtained via FISA court authorization was repeated approvingly by ardent defenders of the mass spying program.

Even if Obama’s claims had been true, they provided little assurance that the spying program is not dramatically infringing on our privacy.

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

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.