December 13, 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.

A Practical Solution: Run Police Departments Like Fire Departments

n-COP-GUN-large570Do you lie awake at night in constant fear a fire will break out and nothing will be done to put it out?

For the 99% of the population not suffering from pyrophobia or a similar neurosis, the answer to that question is “no,” even though firefighters aren’t patrolling the streets in their big red trucks. They still manage to arrive at the scene of a fire within minutes of an emergency call.

Why can’t police departments be run the same way?

If they were, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, and Sandra Bland would be alive today. All three encountered police doing what would be considered outlandish for any other institution charged with public safety: roaming the streets, looking for trouble.

No one had called 911 asking for protection from Scott, Gray or Bland. No judges had issued warrants for their arrests. All three were, at least at the time of their arrests, just walking or driving down the street, minding their own business. They were detained in what are generally considered “routine” but are in reality wholly unnecessary encounters with police.

There has been a lot of digital ink and warm air expended on whether these victims of tragedy were treated differently because of their race. There are compelling arguments on both sides of that question, but no practical solutions offered by anyone. At the end of these discussions there is invariably some vague reference to “more training” or bland platitudes. Everyone knows nothing will change.

I’m going to suggest a solution that will sound radical, even in a country that styles itself “the land of free.” Let’s get cops off the streets, unless responding to a 911 call or serving a warrant issued by a judge. Everyone would be freer and safer, including the police officers themselves.

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.

Sandra Bland’s Arrest Wasn’t Racism; It Was Something Even Worse

n-POLICE-CAR-large570It’s easy to assume racism when watching the video footage of Sandra Bland’s arrest. Admittedly, the first question that entered this writer’s mind when watching it was, “Would a white woman have been treated this way during a routine traffic stop?”

I believe the answer is “yes,” if the white woman committed the cardinal sin Sandra Bland committed. It wasn’t her being black that started the tragic chain of events. It was refusing to follow a police officer’s orders.

At some point between ratification of the Fourth Amendment and the death of Sandra Bland, the entire principle underpinning that constitutional protection has been lost. The Fourth Amendment assumes armed agents of the state can’t be trusted to issue their own orders. That’s why we have warrants in the first place. They are permitted only to enforce the orders of an impartial judge, who authorizes them to apprehend suspects upon the judge’s determination of probable cause.

That’s not to say many or most officers aren’t well-intentioned or trustworthy. But their job is to use force. That role must be separated from the issuance of orders.

Read the rest at the Huffington Post…

 

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

 

Dear Queen Elizabeth: Can we come back?

Dear Queen ElizabethDear Queen Elizabeth,

It’s been 239 years and we’re finally ready to admit we made a mistake. Just as your predecessor warned us, taxes are much higher, the government more oppressive, and liberty more non-existent than they ever were under the British monarchy.

We’re willing to bury the hatchet and rejoin the British Empire with that sweet tax deal you had for us in 1775. Don’t worry about representation. We tried it. Taxes skyrocketed.

Everything else we complained about got worse, too. Representative government issues more general warrants than the king’s officers ever did. In most cases, it doesn’t even bother with warrants. It just vacuums up our electronic data and peruses it at its pleasure.

It calls controlling everything from the food we eat to the amount of water in our toilets “regulating trade,” when all King George meant by that was levying a few tariffs. Our Federal Register is over 80,000 pages long. It’s insane.

In short, we were wrong. Let’s just pretend the whole, silly misunderstanding didn’t happen. I know it’s asking a lot, but you seem even nicer than George III was.

We’re willing to pay next year’s taxes at 1775 rates in advance. What say you?

Sincerely,

Your Prodigal Colonists

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.

Get cops off the streets (unless serving a warrant or responding to a 911 call)

police-role1BUFFALO, December 5, 2014 – Protests erupted in New York City yesterday following a second grand jury decision not to indict a white cop who killed an unarmed black suspect. Unfortunately, all of the attention is focused on the racial aspect of the two tragedies and not on a question that really needs to be asked.

Do we really need armed government agents patrolling the streets, looking for people to cite or arrest for mostly victimless crimes?

Few people propose to abolish police forces entirely, although some small communities have done so. Most believe that police forces are necessary to protect life and property. Whether that’s true or not, many honest police officers will tell you they spend very little of their time actually doing so.

Read the rest of the article…

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

Mr. Obama, tear down this data center

obama tear down tee

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…

State Department travel alert proves government can’t protect Americans against terrorism

TAMPA, August 2, 2013 – The U.S. Department of State (DOS) issued a worldwide “travel alert” on Friday to warn U.S. citizens of “the continued potential for terrorist attacks, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, and possibly occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula.” DOS also announced plans to temporarily close its embassies in 14 countries in the Middle East and Africa.

While the move is presumably the result of intelligence gathering, the government has not provided any details as to what prompted the precautions. Perhaps it was a tip from its network of informers. It could be information gleaned from its myriad surveillance programs.

What we do know is that the government’s reaction to the intelligence shows just how little it can really do to protect Americans against a terrorist attack. The government’s only answer is to pull its employees out of 14 countries and tell everyone else to “take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling.”

Protect yourselves. That’s what Americans have done during every terrorist attack, after government efforts to protect them failed.

Read the rest of the article at Liberty Pulse…