May 29, 2017

Edward Snowden Is Still a Hero, Regardless of ISIS, San Bernardino and Paris

APTOPIX France SnowdenIt’s official. The terrorists are winning. They have achieved the one and only goal of terrorism itself: to achieve a political outcome based on the “terror” caused by highly publicized attacks on civilians.

Just days after Dagen McDowell of Fox Business blamed the San Bernardino shooting on Edward Snowden and the USA Freedom Act, Joe Scarborough called for “post-Edward Snowden legislation that stops this person-to-person encrypted messaging” on Morning Joe. He also said, “We’re going to have to give the CIA powers to interrogate these terrorists to see where the next attack’s going to come from.”

As the CIA has always had the power to interrogate anyone it wishes to, this can only be code for “torture.” Lest this be written off as the ravings of MSNBC’s token Republican, his Democratic guest agreed wholeheartedly. Scarborough had either the audacity or the cluelessness (it’s always hard to tell) to end the segment by riffing on a Bush/Cheney mantra, saying: “The world changed after Paris.”

Anything both Fox and MSNBC are trumpeting in unison can reasonably be assumed to be completely wrong.

Read the rest at The Huffington Post…

 

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Earth to Bill Maher: Edward Snowden isn’t the crazy one

GREENWALD-largeTAMPA, January 21, 2014 – Bill Maher interviewed journalist Glenn Greenwald following President Obama’s speech on Friday in which the president discussed his proposals to reform the NSA. Greenwald is the journalist who first reported on the information released by Edward Snowden on the government’s domestic surveillance activities.

While Maher was respectful of Greenwald and, to some extent, Snowden, he went out of his way to smear some of Snowden’s claims about the government’s activities as “completely nuts.” He also found it necessary to take a shot at Ron Paul, who wasn’t even involved in the issue at hand.

For Maher and too many likeminded people, anyone who doesn’t view the government as a benevolent force for good is a tinfoil-hat-wearing kook who believes all civilian life is the target of a massive conspiracy involving the government, secret societies, aliens, etc. Thus Maher’s retort, “Everyone in the government isn’t out to get you.”

That’s what’s known as “framing the debate.” You’re either with Bill Maher and President Obama or you’re with the kooks. You may also be somewhere in the middle, where Maher apparently places Snowden. It completely ignores the many other perspectives one might have, including that of most libertarians.

Libertarians don’t believe that the people who work for the government are evil. It’s the institution of government itself, a monopoly on the use of force that can martial the resources of the entire nation. That kind of power is dangerous even when used by good people with good intentions.

Read the rest of the article at The Huffington Post…

Obama’s proposed NSA reforms prove he doesn’t understand checks and balances

utah datacenterPresident Obama delivered a speech on Friday outlining his plans to address the widespread outrage over the domestic surveillance activities of the National Security Agency. However well-intentioned, the president’s proposals indicate he just doesn’t get the constitutional notion of delegated powers.

Implicit in the Fourth Amendment is the principle that the government should remain powerless unless and until an individual is reasonably suspected of having committed a crime. It isn’t even allowed to search one’s person or papers (viz. phone records, emails) to collect the proof it needs until it persuades a judge that it has probable cause.

The only reason the Fourth Amendment offers any protection is it prescribes an adversarial process. The judicial branch is predisposed to refuse to issue a warrant until the executive branch provides sufficient evidence of probable cause.

Read the rest of the article at the Daily Caller…

Obama’s NSA speech proves government can’t prevent terrorism in a free society

obama911TAMPA, January 18, 2014 – President Obama outlined his proposed reforms of the NSA’s domestic surveillance activities in a speech on Friday. The speech was at times eloquent and the president’s intentions appear genuine, but his recommendations for reform are inadequate. As long as the government is trying to prevent crime or terrorism in the future, it’s going to trample liberty in the present.

The president stated the crux of the problem during his speech:

“So we demanded [after 9/11] that our intelligence community improve its capabilities and that law enforcement change practices to focus more on preventing attacks before they happen than prosecuting terrorists after an attack.”

Freedom requires that the government not attempt to prevent anything. All powers granted to the government relate to crimes committed in the past.

The Bill of Rights rests upon this assumption. Rooted in what is now called the “libertarian” principle of non-aggression, the Fifth Amendment prohibits the government from using force against an individual until it has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual has committed a crime in the past.

The Fourth Amendment goes even farther, prohibiting the government from even searching an individual or his papers (e.g., phone records, e-mails, etc.) without probable cause that the individual has committed a crime in the past.

The entire Bill of Rights supposes that you are beyond the reach of government until you have actually committed a crime. That logically excludes the possibility of the government preventing anything, because the government must employ force against the innocent to do so.

Read the rest of the article at Communities Digital News…

Mr. Obama, tear down this data center

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Get the tee shirt here!

datacenterTAMPA, December 17, 2013 – A federal judge’s ruling Monday confirmed what a majority of Americans already knew. The National Security Agency’s indiscriminate gathering of data on every phone call made in the United States is unconstitutional. Calling the government’s data gathering technology “almost Orwellian,” Judge Richard Leon said that James Madison would be “aghast” if he knew the government was encroaching upon liberty in such a way.

According to USA Today, he also pointed out another thing most Americans already knew. The program never has and likely never will prevent a terrorist attack.

“Given the limited record before me at this point in the litigation — most notably the utter lack of evidence that a terrorist attack has ever been prevented because searching the NSA database was faster than other investigative tactics — I have serious doubts about the efficacy of the metadata collection program as a means of conducting time-sensitive investigations in cases involving imminent threats of terrorism,” the judge said.

The judge limited his ruling to the plaintiffs in the case, leaving constitutionality open for other courts to decide in other cases. The ruling is expected to be the first of many, with an expectation that the issue may eventually find its way into the Supreme Court.

Then, it’s “rights roulette” as Americans sit on the edge of their seats wondering if the government’s black-robed high priests will pronounce away more of their freedom.

It doesn’t have to come down to that. President Obama could take matters into his own hands and actually be acting within the constitutional limits of his power for a change. The president could order the NSA to cease its program, citing the federal judge’s ruling as his authority.

The president is charged to “take care that the laws are faithfully executed” by Article II Section 3 of the Constitution. That includes the laws against murder and terrorism. But the constitution doesn’t tell him how to perform that duty. It does prohibit him from doing so in a way that would violate his oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

A federal judge just ruled he is doing precisely that.

The president’s legacy is in serious jeopardy. He is already accused of lying to the America people, repeatedly for years, about the legislation that informally bears his name. Controversy over his administration’s handling of the Benghazi incident persists.

Despite Pollyanna assurances to the contrary, the U.S. economy remains in a depression, complete with double digit unemployment rates and Hoovervilles. Deciding not to count millions of able-bodied Americans who aren’t working and ignoring formerly middle class people living in tents under bridges doesn’t change that.

However, none of this will damage Obama’s legacy in the long term. As I’ve said before, history will not be concerned with health care programs or unemployment rates. It will be concerned with who attacked the fundamental principles of freedom and who risked everything to defend them.

President Obama campaigned against Bush era civil liberties violations in 2008. He denounced torture and promised to close Guantanamo Bay. It remains open.

He condemned the very domestic spying programs at issue here when run by the Bush administration, then sent his lawyers into court seeking legal justification to expand them even further. His administration has built a massive data center in Utah to store the ill-gotten information for as long as the government sees fit.

In an October 7, 2013 article, Siobhan Gorman of the Wall Street Journal called the data center “a symbol of the spy agency’s surveillance prowess.”

Warrantless government surveillance of its own citizens. Concentration camps where U.S. citizens could be tortured. Killing U.S. citizens without due process. This is the stuff legacies are made of.

The Alien and Sedition Acts still haunt John Adams’ legacy more than two centuries after his presidency. However, Adams’ other achievements in promoting liberty and peace overshadow them, including sacrificing a second term as president to prevent a disastrous war with France.

The Obama administration has accomplished nothing comparable. It continues to take a hard line against the whistleblower Edward Snowden who exposed the activity that a federal judge has now said violates the Constitution the president swore to defend. It has completed construction on a massive edifice dedicated to trampling the Fourth Amendment.

Unless he changes course now, this is what the president will be remembered for.

Mr. Obama, tear down this data center.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

 

Obama says Edward Snowden isn’t a patriot

Tampa August 10, 2013 – Yesterday, President Obama spoke to reporters about his plans to address the growing public outcry over domestic spying programs run by the NSA and other U.S. intelligence agencies. During the press conference, Obama said that he didn’t consider Edward Snowden a patriot. Instead, those doing the spying are the patriots, along with those who have “lawfully raised their voices” to defend civil liberties.

Edward Snowden may have broken the law, but “the law is often but the tyrants will,” as Thomas Jefferson famously said.

Never has that been truer than now, when the law protects lawbreakers and forces defenders of our most sacred principles to seek political asylum in other countries. That anyone would seek asylum from the United States government at all, much less in Russia, would have been the stuff of wild fantasy just a few decades ago. Now, the torture of prisoners, arrest and detention without warrant and even execution without a trial are regarded as commonplace.

President Obama is on the wrong side of history.

Edward Snowden will be remembered as a patriot.

President Obama will be remembered as the first U.S. president to kill an American citizen without a trial. History has a word for that, too.

It isn’t patriot.

This has all happened before. Read my op-ed in The Washington Times on the first Edward Snowden in U.S. history…

Libertarians to Chris Christie: Is life so dear, or peace so sweet?

TAMPA, July 27, 2013 – Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) introduced an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill that would have defunded the NSA’s blanket collection of metadata and limited the government’s collection of records to those “relevant to a national security investigation.”

It terrified New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who lashed out at those who supported the bill and libertarianism in general.

“As a former prosecutor who was appointed by President George W. Bush on Sept. 10, 2001, I just want us to be really cautious, because this strain of libertarianism that’s going through both parties right now and making big headlines, I think, is a very dangerous thought,” Christie said.

Yes, it is dangerous, but to what? It is dangerous to the bloated national security state, which tramples the liberty and dignity of every American under the pretense of protecting them from what Charles Kenny recently called the “vastly exaggerated” threat of terrorism.

Chris Christie shamelessly invoked the image of “widows and orphans” of 9/11 in an attempt to discredit any resistance to the federal government’s complete disregard for the Bill of Rights. He then echoed former NYC Mayor Rudy Guiliani in claiming some imagined authority on the matter because he is the governor of the state “that lost the second-most people on 9/11.”

Newsflash to Governor Christie: You have no more moral authority on this subject than the U.S. Congress had legislative authority to pass the Patriot Act.

Christie doesn’t understand that the power that legislators may exercise is limited to what was delegated to them in the Constitution. He seems to believe that power changes depending upon how he “feels.”

“I think what we as a country have to decide is: Do we have amnesia? Because I don’t,” he said. “And I remember what we felt like on Sept. 12, 2001.”

Ignoring the cheap tactic of trying to paint libertarians as “unfeeling” or not having sympathy for the victims of 9/11, there is a simple answer to Mr. Christie’s question.

“We as a country” decide questions like this through Article V of the U.S. Constitution. The Fourth Amendment forbids the federal government from running programs like the NSA’s. Only an amendment that revises or repeals it can change that.

Until then, the federal government does not have the power to do what it is currently doing, regardless of any terrorist attacks or how Mr. Christie feels about them.

Amash’s amendment should be unnecessary, but it is preferable at the moment to the remedy offered in the Declaration of Independence for a government that exercises power not given to it by the people.

If history provides any guidance, the people will never give this power to the federal government. Let’s not forget that none of the Soviet-style security measures establishd since 9/11 have prevented a single terrorist attack, other than those the government created itself. Flight 93 on 9/11, the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber were all foiled by private citizens, the latter two after the perpetrator walked right past the government’s garish security apparatus.

The truth is that no security measures will ever be able to make Americans 100% safe from harm. There is absolutely nothing the U.S. government could do right now to prevent Russia or China from launching a nuclear attack on the United States. What makes one unlikely is the ability for the United States to retaliate and the lack of any good reason for either country to do so. The United States doesn’t routinely commit acts of war against Russia or China.

Perhaps that strategy might also be effective in preventing terrorism.

Regardless, the government can’t stop the next terrorist attack any more than it has stopped any previously. What it can do is continue to erode American liberty. This country is already unrecognizable as the same one that ratified the Bill of Rights. The Chris Christies and Michelle Bachmanns (she’s “one of them”) of this world are too busy cowering in fear to be concerned with “esoteric” subjects like the liberty and dignity of the individual.

Their opinions are not important. The people will decide whether a false sense of security is worth their liberty or not.

The first shot in this war has been fired. Amash lost the opening battle, but so did the colonists at Bunker Hill.

The real question that the American people will have to answer is this:

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

We’re all Osama Bin Laden now

TAMPA, June 25, 2013 – Twelve years ago, the U.S. government demanded that the Taliban extradite Osama Bin Laden to stand trial for the 9/11 attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. The Taliban responded similarly to how they had in the past to the same demand. They asked the U.S. government to obey the principles enshrined in its own Fourth Amendment and produce evidence of Bin Laden’s guilt.

The Bush Administration responded with carpet bombing, followed by an invasion.

Most Americans didn’t lose much sleep over Bin Laden’s rights being violated. He was the world’s most infamous terrorist. Had the U.S. been able to pinpoint his location and take him out with a missile or drone attack, there would have been no pundit debate about the constitutionality of the execution (and no, the constitution doesn’t apply only to U.S. citizens).

First, they came for the terrorists…

Flash forward twelve years and quite a few people are losing sleep. Not only has the government’s disregard for the Fourth Amendment “come home” to apply to every American, but all due process protections have been completely abolished. The government claims the right to search, spy on, arrest and detain you without probable cause or warrant. It even claims the right to kill you without charging you with a crime.

For war hawks, the year is perpetually 1939 and every tin pot dictator is Hitler, even if originally installed and supported by the U.S. government. We have been forced to pay for two completely useless wars over the past twelve years, with the specter of Nazi Germany and another Holocaust thrown in the faces of anyone who objected. Anything other than full commitment constitutes “appeasing a dictator,” the fatal mistake that led to WWII.

Yet, the abridged world history textbook that every neoconservative seems to have read apparently contains nothing else about Nazi Germany. It doesn’t seem to tell them anything about why Hitler was a dictator in the first place, long before the Holocaust got under way.

The truth regarding that question is stranger than fiction.

Five years earlier, Germany had suffered a spectacular terrorist attack. Someone set fire to the German parliament building, the Reichstag. Joseph Goebbels regarded the first report of the attack as “a tall tale” and hung up on the caller. Only upon receiving a second call did he believe the report and inform Hitler. Tragically, the eerie similarity to Bush’s reaction to 9/11 didn’t end there.

The Nazi’s blamed the communists for the fire, calling it “the most monstrous act of terrorism carried out by Bolshevism in Germany.” The next day, President Hindenburg signed the Reichstag Fire Decree (without a vote by the Reichstag), which suspended most civil liberties in Germany. This was followed later by the “Enabling Act,” which granted dictatorial powers to Hitler.

All of this was done to “fight the terrorists.” We’ve heard plenty about how not invading the next Middle East backwater would be tantamount to appeasing Hitler, but we haven’t heard a single pundit comparing what America has done to itself over the past twelve years to what Germany did to herself following the Reichstag Fire.

Am I the only one that finds that a little strange?

Sadly, neither country’s people resisted or even expressed reluctance at the surrender of their freedom. On the contrary, liberty died in both places “with thunderous applause.”

The Nazis started by setting up communists and Jews as enemies of the state. Civil liberties had to be set aside until this terrible “new threat” was defeated. But victory never came. Instead, the list of enemies got wider and wider and the police state became permanent. The Gestapo was empowered to spy on German citizens. “Papers, please” became the new normal. Kangaroo courts convicted “traitors and insurgents” without due process.

So far, the U.S. government has only executed a Muslim American citizen without a trial. It has only rounded up and indefinitely detained Muslims without a warrant or formal charges. But the definition of “terrorist” and “traitor” is slowly starting to expand. During the Bush Administration, anti-war protestors were viewed as unpatriotic. During Obama’s Administration, “right wing extremists” have been identified as potential threats.

First they came for the Muslims…

This article is published on a nationally known website. It is intended to be read by anyone who is interested in the subject. However, you may express an opinion not so intended to a friend or associate. If you do so by phone or e-mail, the government may examine it to determine if you represent a threat.

Who will speak up for you?

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Jury nullification, not a pardon for Edward Snowden

TAMPA, June 10, 2013 – The whistleblower who has risked his life and his freedom to expose the NSA’s domestic spying program has fled to Hong Kong. Caught red-handed violating one of the most fundamental limits on its power, codified in the Fourth Amendment, the federal government has responded predictably. It wants to prosecute its accuser.

While mainstream conservatives call for Hong Kong to extradite Snowden for trial, libertarian and civil libertarian groups have started a petition to get him pardoned. That’s the wrong solution.

Pardons are for people who have already been convicted. No jury with any sense of justice should allow that to happen.

Yes, there are plenty of laws that Edward Snowden probably broke, but as Thomas Jefferson famously said, “The law is often but the tyrant’s will.” Never was that truer than it is now.

You could also argue that Snowden broke a contract he entered into when accepting this employment and the security clearances that go with it. That’s probably true, but so did the federal government. It broke the contract known as the U.S. Constitution.

If the so-called “Justice Department” is successful in having Snowden extradited to the United States, he will have a jury trial. The jury will be instructed by a federal judge that their one and only responsibility is to weigh the facts and to determine whether there is sufficient proof that Snowden committed the acts alleged in the indictment. They will be instructed to consider nothing else in reaching a verdict. That leaves one question.

Who cares what the judge says?

Everyone on that jury will know why Snowden is being persecuted. It’s not like he sold defense secrets to a foreign enemy during a time of war. He told the American people about how their own government was spying on them. The juror who renders a guilty verdict in this case is betraying his country, not Edward Snowden.

At one time, juries were informed of their right to consider the justice of the law itself in addition to the facts of the case. If they believed they were being asked to convict a defendant of an unjust law, they were free to acquit the defendant.

They still are. They just aren’t told so by state or federal judges any more. That doesn’t change the fact that if a jury acquits Edward Snowden, there is absolutely nothing that the government can do about it. They can’t appeal a not guilty verdict. They can’t charge him again for the same crimes. The case is over and the people trump the government. That’s how it is supposed to work.

It’s equally important that there is no recourse against the jury, either. It’s not as if they can be prosecuted for rendering a verdict the government doesn’t like. Acquittal by a jury is as final as it gets. The government may try to drum up some other charges against the defendant, but they usually take their best shot first and the next jury could nullify as well.

The only question left is this: Are Americans so devoid of any sense of personal liberty, so completely brainwashed to obey authority without question that they would convict a man who has risked everything to defend their freedom?

I am calling on every eligible juror in America to take a stand right now. If you are called to serve on a jury for the trial of Edward Snowden, do not convict. I don’t care if he’s broken a thousand laws. We know what he did and why he did it. It is his accuser that needs to be put on trial, whether at the ballot box, in state assemblies or by other constitutional means. Let this government know that those who defend the U.S. Constitution against a government that violates it are safe in this country.

The line must be drawn here.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.