Trump Surveillance/Spying

The Pronk Pops Show 978, October 5, 2017, Story 1: Steven Paddock — Medicated Mad Mass Murderer Acted Alone — Drug/Alcohol/Hooker Assisted Homicides and Suicide — Big Drinker, Gambler At Video Poker,  “Mental Health Symptoms” — Addicted To Risk Taking — Treat Mental Illness — Banning Bump Fire Stock Is Not Addressing The Problem of Mental Illness and Prescribed Drug Induced Suicides and Homicides — Common Sense Mental Illness Ban? — Nonsense — Videos — Story 2: House of Representatives Passed Budget Blueprint — $600 Billion Plus Budget Deficit and Unbalanced Budgets — A Blueprint of Financial Irresponsibility By Burdening Current and Future Generations With Massive Debt — Replace Big Government Two Party Tyranny, Oppression and Empire with A Limited Government Representative Republic As The Founders Envisioned Under The Constitution –Videos

Posted on October 6, 2017. Filed under: American History, Banking System, Budgetary Policy, Cartoons, Communications, Congress, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Countries, Culture, Currencies, Defense Spending, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Drugs, Economics, Education, Elections, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Free Trade, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, History, House of Representatives, Human, Illegal Drugs, Independence, Knifes, Labor Economics, Law, Legal Drugs, Life, Media, Medicare, Monetary Policy, Networking, People, Philosophy, Photos, Pistols, Politics, Polls, President Trump, Progressives, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulation, Resources, Rifles, Rule of Law, Scandals, Security, Senate, Social Networking, Social Science, Social Security, Surveillance/Spying, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Trump Surveillance/Spying, Unemployment, United States of America, Videos, Violence, War, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

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Pronk Pops Show 978, October 5, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 973, September 27, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 971, September 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 970, September 22, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 932, July 20, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 929, July 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 928, July 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 927, July 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 926, July 11, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 924, July 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 923, July 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 922, July 3, 2017

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Story 1: Steven Paddock — Medicated Mad Mass Murderer Acted Alone — Drug/Alcohol/Hooker Assisted Homicides and Suicide — Big Drinker, Gambler At Video Poker,  “Mental Health Symptoms” — Addicted To Risk Taking — Treat Mental Illness — Banning Bump Fire Stock Is Not Addressing The Problem of Mental Illness and Prescribed Drug Induced Suicides and Homicides — Common Sense Mental Illness Ban? — Nonsense — Videos —

Video from ABOVE SHOOTER – 48th Floor of Mandalay Bay during Las Vegas Shootings (GRAPHIC LANGUAGE)

Sharon Judy recalls Stephen Paddock talking about his gambling

Steve Paddock’s Neighbor Tells Michael Savage He Was an Average Guy

Las Vegas Gunman’s Hotel Room Was Comped Because He Gambled So Much

Video Poker – How to Win and How it Works

How to Become a Winning Video Poker Player with Video Poker Expert Henry Tamburin

Las Vegas Shooting: Inside Stephen Paddock’s Mandalay Bay Hotel Room | TODAY

Who is Stephen Paddock, Vegas shooting suspect?

BAD News After What Was Just Found On Shooter’s Hotel Room Video And Who He Was Caught Paying

SWAT and FBI at Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock’s Reno home

Gun Owners Discuss Massacre At Las Vegas Area Gun Range | MSNBC

Gun shop manager who sold firearms to Stephen Paddock speaks out

Las Vegas, “Bump Stocks”, and How We Fix This: Thursday Rough-Cut

Sarah Huckabee Sanders responds to NRA support for ‘bump stock’ ban

Paul Ryan: Bump Stocks Clearly ‘Something We Need To Look Into’ | MSNBC

Paul Ryan BUSTED On Mental Health Lie

The NRA Wants To Regulate ‘Bump Stock’ Gun Accessories, Paul Ryan Says We Need To Learn More | TIME

NRA: Government should review if bump stocks comply with law

What is a bump fire stock?

Installing and using a Bump Stock on my AR-15

Bump Fire Stock VS Real M-16

Banning Bump Fire Stocks Is NOT The Answer NRA!

EXCLUSIVE: Las Vegas shooter gambled $100,000 an hour in video poker with ‘constant stream of booze’ and was VIP guest at tournaments with free rooms and shopping sprees

  • Las Vegas shooter was so hooked on gambling he played up to 1,000 hands of video poker in a single hour – at a cost of $100,000
  • Stephen Paddock was well-enough known to be invited to $50,000 prize video poker tournaments but was not considered ‘a whale’, the biggest gamblers
  • He was not friendly or sociable and other players noticed he always had a drink with him 
  • Paddock would also play video poker by himself, betting five $125 hands similtaneously, moving so quickly that he could stake $100,000 in an hour
  • Experts say he could easily have been breaking even as video poker has the best odds of doing so but that in the long run casinos always win
  • Michael Shackleford, a casino analyst, said: ”I think he was a smart recreational gambler who saw it as a way to have a free vacation.’

The Las Vegas shooter was so hooked on gambling he played up to 1,000 hands of video poker in a single hour – at a cost of $100,000.

Stephen Paddock bet the colossal sums by playing $125 a time hands at ‘ferocious’ speeds for eight hour stints in casinos on The Strip and in Reno.

Top video poker players told DailyMail.com that players like Paddock look like ‘stenographers’ on the machines because their fingers move so fast.

They had seen Paddock at exclusive VIP tournaments in Las Vegas where he won and lost six-figure sums.

The players described him was a ‘low level high roller’ but he still would have got perks like free limousine rides and $10,000 of free money to play with.

Drinking concern: Gamblers say they saw Stephen Paddock playing video poker with a 'constant stream of booze' by his side when he was a guest at VIP tournaments

Drinking concern: Gamblers say they saw Stephen Paddock playing video poker with a ‘constant stream of booze’ by his side when he was a guest at VIP tournaments

Fast and furious: These are the video poker machines which allowed Paddock to gamble stakes of up to $100,000 in an hour by playing multiple hands at once

Crack cocaine: A review in the late 1990s compared the machines to the most addictive drugs but they also offer some of the best odds of coming out even, experts say

Crack cocaine: A review in the late 1990s compared the machines to the most addictive drugs but they also offer some of the best odds of coming out even, experts say

Paddock’s girlfriend Marilou Danley was taken on all-expenses paid shopping trips and they would have stayed in expensive hotel suites for free.

DailyMail.com can also disclose that other high rollers were concerned about Paddock drinking a ‘constant stream of booze’ whilst he was playing.

They described him as a ‘heavy, heavy drinker’ and wondered if his high alcohol intake contributed to his mental deterioration.

Paddock shot dead 58 people and injured more than 500 on Sunday when he opened fire on a music festival from his suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay casino before shooting himself dead.

The FBI are no closer to understanding the motive of a man who his brother Eric described as ‘just a guy’.

But what is clear is that the 64-year-old had a passion for gambling which he indulged in his retirement with the estimated $2 million fortune he had built up through a real estate business.

Friends have said that Paddock, a former accountant and auditor, developed what he thought was an algorithm which would let him beat the system at video poker.

Anthony Curtis, a former professional gambler and currently the owner and publisher of Las Vegas Advisor, a website covering the casino business, told DailyMail.com that Paddock was not a ‘whale’ in the casino world, meaning the very biggest spenders.

But he was a known quantity and would be seen at invite-only tournaments where players would compete for $50,000 cash prizes.

Curtis said that according to players in Vegas he knows, Paddock ‘gambled big, he really did’, but he was not sociable.

He said: ‘Nobody knew him, that was the weirdest thing

‘People I know only knew of him, they didn’t know him. He wasn’t friendly but wasn’t unfriendly.’

If anything stood out it was Paddock’s drinking, said Curtis, who is a consultant for the Alea Consulting Group, which represents gambling experts.

He said: ‘He was a heavy drinker, heavy drinker, that’s what I heard… some people thought he was a pure alcoholic. He had a constant stream of booze coming his way’.

Curtis said that video poker players he knew told him that Paddock played $25 a hand machines where you can put in five bets at one time, bringing the stake for each game up to $125.

Players at his level would be playing at 800 to 1,000 hands an hour, or one every 3.6 seconds – Curtis said he and his former playing friends used to time each other to see who was fastest.

Players have to go quickly to improve their likelihood of getting hands like a royal flush which come on average every 40,000 hands and might earn $50,000 on a $125 wager.

Red carpet welcome: As a VIP gambler, Paddock was given a warm welcome with 'comps' which included room and board. Even bigger gamblers get private jets but Paddock was not a 'whale'

Red carpet welcome: As a VIP gambler, Paddock was given a warm welcome with ‘comps’ which included room and board. Even bigger gamblers get private jets but Paddock was not a ‘whale’

Also benefited: VIP poker invitations come with free shopping sprees for partners as well as meals and hotel rooms 'comped'

Also benefited: VIP poker invitations come with free shopping sprees for partners as well as meals and hotel rooms ‘comped’

In a game of video poker the player is up against just the machine and not a human dealer and each hand is dealt from a new 52-card virtual deck.

By working out the probabilities of hands players, can beat the house and at the Mandalay Bay video poker machines pay out a maximum of 99.17 percent, or $99.17 for every $100 wagered.

By the time you add in the perks, or ‘comps’, short for complimentary, they are more than breaking even.

For the highest rollers, they are treated like rock stars and essentially get anything they want, be it front row tickets to a concert, Super Bowl tickets and a Lear Jet to take them wherever they want.

Even at the lowest level of such tournaments they will get ‘full RFB’, meaning room, food and board. The presence of the amblers helps build the casino’s image.

Michael Shackleford, a former professional actuary and video poker player who now has a career analyzing casino games, said: ‘The low level players will get free low end meals, buffets, maybe free rooms midweek

‘As you get up they’ve going to treat you to the better restaurants, better rooms, free tournaments, free airfare, free transportation.

‘The way the casinos look at it is every player has a particular value.

‘If you have a player who is losing $1m a trip, the casino will give him $300,000 worth of stuff just for coming in.

‘They don’t like to give you money, they prefer to do it in the form of comps. In Vegas it’s fiercely competitive for the big players, they often negotiate to get the best offer.’

Shackleford said that video poker players tended to be smart, disciplined and patient.

He said that you have to be able to sit down at the machine and play it for hours at speed but if you press one button wrong it could cost you two hours in value to play.

He said: ‘It’s a very volatile game and if you’re going to be playing it professionally.

‘You go up and down like a roller coaster. You need nerves of steel to keep playing in the bad times.’

Shackleford himself used to lose $25,000 in a single day – but once won $40,000 when he got a royal flush.

Expert: Bob Dancer made $1 million from video poker but warns: 'There are a lot lot lot lot more net losers than there are net winners.'

Expert: Bob Dancer made $1 million from video poker but warns: ‘There are a lot lot lot lot more net losers than there are net winners.’

He said: ‘In the long run I can say it’s averaged out and my results are where they should be.

‘You just say you have to believe in the math, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it matters if you had a good bet and treat it like a job’.

Shackleford’s assessment of Paddock echoed that of the other experts; he was not a professional but had clearly studied how to win and had some ability.

He said: ‘I think he was a smart recreational gambler who saw it as a way to have a free vacation. That’s my impression of the guy.’

Curtis said: ‘Think about this; if you want to go to an NFL game you have to pay for a personal seat. It can cost tens of thousands of dollars just to see your team play.

‘What’s the difference between that and what he was doing? He was paying for entertainment – that’s how I see the whole thing.’

Video poker was described by the National Gambling Impact Study Commission in the late 1990s as being the ‘crack-cocaine’ of gambling because it is so addictive.

Reports have said that those who are most addicted have brain disorders similar to drug addicts.

Among the infamous cases of video poker players is San Diego’s former mayor Maureen O’Connor.

She took $2 million from the foundation set up for her dead husband, bet a cumulative total of more than $1 billion at casinos on a wild spree of wins and losses – and ended up owing $13 million.

Players are drawn to the game because of odds which are better than most other casino games.

John Grochowski, a longtime gambling columnist and author, said that the average person can get the a handle of playing video poker in a month using books and programs that are widely available.

But he doubted that it was possible to win consistently at a high level and said that Paddock would have been ‘deluded’ if he thought he had a system that would beat the house.

He said: ‘You need either to be in a position where the money just doesn’t matter and you want the thrill to gamble.

‘If you’re really trying to make money at this and you’re fooling yourself into thinking you can make money at this you need to think you’re smarter than you really are.

‘You have to go in absolute convinced your system works and stick with it in the bad times and roll with the losses and unfortunately most people can’t really roll with losses at that level.

‘Discipline is the key. You need to stay within your own bankroll, don’t bet money you can’t afford to lose.

‘For some people video poker is the crack cocaine of gambling, it’s certainly engaging, it’s interactive and it will hold your attention.

‘For a certain personality that may be true but there also may be personalities who are going to stay within their limits and stay within what they can afford’.

Few have been more successful at video poker than Bob Dancer, an expert and author of 10 books on the subject.

Dancer has made more than a million dollars playing video poker for 20 years using strategies he developed himself.

The bulk of his winnings was in the late 1990s and early 2000s including one 12-month stretch where he and his ex-wife Shirley would go on a $100,000 losing streak – then make $70,000 back.

In February 2001 at the MGM Grand in Vegas he made $100,000 on a royal flush within 15 minutes of playing and less than half an hour later Shirley won $400,000 with the same hand on a different machine.

Dancer said that it was possible to make a living being a professional video poker player. He said that the key factor was who had the advantage; him or the casino.

Back in the 1990s the describes the casinos as ‘mathematically challenged’ and he was able to work out his winnings faster than they could, giving him the advantage.

He describes the feeling after winning a big payout as being ‘bulletproof’ and that ‘you think it’s because you’re smart’.

When faced with a big loss he shrugged it off because he was sure that over time it would even out, but Shirley found it harder.

Dancer said: ‘Shirley was scared of the swings and every time we lost she would get all tense up and we had a masseuse on retainer for her.

‘We’d lose $30,000 in a night and she’d think that was an automobile and it would be extremely traumatic than her.

‘She could deal with the wins but the losses –  I shrugged them off – she took them really personal and really hard.’

As for Paddock, Dancer said: ‘I never met Mr Paddock. I never heard his name before he was dead.

‘I do not know if he was a successful player or not.

‘It’s clear he hit some jackpots at some times. Whether he was a net winner or a net loser I have no idea.’

He added: ‘There are a lot, lot, lot, lot more net losers than there are net winners.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4951890/Vegas-shooter-drank-non-stop-gambled-100-000-hour.html#ixzz4ughzDMfF

 

Vegas Shooter’s Girlfriend Says He Would Lie in Bed Moaning, Screaming

WASHINGTON — Marilou Danley, the woman investigators hoped would provide key details into the motive behind her boyfriend’s deadly shooting attack, said she remembers him exhibiting symptoms such as lying in bed and moaning, according to two former FBI officials who have been briefed on the matter.

“She said he would lie in bed, just moaning and screaming, ‘Oh, my God,'” one of the former officials said.

The other former official said Danley spoke about Paddock displaying “mental health symptoms.”

Las Vegas Shooter’s Mental
Distress 1:28

Investigators believe Stephen Paddock, who claimed nearly 60 lives and injured hundreds more in Las Vegas on Sunday, may have been in physical or mental anguish, the sources said.

Related: Las Vegas Gunman’s Girlfriend Marilou Danley Says She Had No Idea

But so far the FBI has not identified a clear motive, said two FBI officials. And they do not believe Paddock’s mental health had deteriorated to a point that would have triggered him to commit such an act.

Image: Stephen Paddock
Stephen Paddock.U.S. government / via NBC News

Other lines of inquiry the FBI and Las Vegas police are investigating include what Paddock did in the hour between shooting a security guard and his room being breached by officers. Paddock was found dead after a SWAT team breached his door, but it is unclear when he took his own life.

Investigators are also examining approximately six media devices left behind by Paddock, one of the former officials said. Included in that search is an inquiry into Paddock’s web browsing history. Multiple law enforcement officials told NBC News that Paddock researched other attack locations in Boston and Chicago.

Danley’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/las-vegas-shooting/trump-holds-fate-rapid-fire-bump-stocks-n808176

Every mass shooting over last 20 years has one thing in common… and it’s not guns

Tuesday, April 02, 2013
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews.com (See all articles…)
Tags: mass shootingspsychiatric drugsantidepressants
Mass shootings

(NaturalNews) The following is a republishing of an important article written by Dan Roberts from AmmoLand.com. It reveals the real truth about mass shootings that bureaucrats and lawmakers are choosing to sweep under the rug: psychiatric drugs. If you want to know the real reason why mass shootings are taking place, this is the “inconvenient truth” the media won’t cover.

As part of a collective grassroots effort to defend the Bill of Rights against usurpers and tyrants, Natural News is republishing this article without asking for permission first. When it comes to fighting tyrants and defending liberty, the unstated agreement across the entire liberty-loving grassroots community is, “Use our articles; help spread the word!” Every article I write here on Natural News, for example, may be reprinted with credit and a link back to the original source article on NaturalNews.com.

Here’s the full article by Dan Roberts:

(Ammoland.com) Nearly every mass shooting incident in the last twenty years, and multiple other instances of suicide and isolated shootings all share one thing in common, and it’s not the weapons used.

The overwhelming evidence points to the signal largest common factor in all of these incidents is the fact that all of the perpetrators were either actively taking powerful psychotropic drugs or had been at some point in the immediate past before they committed their crimes.

Multiple credible scientific studies going back more than a decade, as well as internal documents from certain pharmaceutical companies that suppressed the information show that SSRI drugs ( Selective Serotonin Re-Uptake Inhibitors ) have well known, but unreported side effects, including but not limited to suicide and other violent behavior. One need only Google relevant key words or phrases to see for themselves. www.ssristories.com is one popular site that has documented over 4500 ” Mainstream Media ” reported cases from around the World of aberrant or violent behavior by those taking these powerful drugs.

The following list of mass shooting perpetrators and the drugs they were taking or had been taking shortly before their horrific actions was compiled and published to Facebook by John Noveske, founder and owner of Noveske Rifleworks just days before he was mysteriously killed in a single car accident. Is there a link between Noveske’s death and his “outting” of information numerous disparate parties would prefer to suppress, for a variety of reasons?

I leave that to the individual readers to decide. But there is most certainly a documented history of people who “knew too much” or were considered a “threat” dying under extraordinarily suspicious circumstances.

From Katherine Smith, a Tennessee DMV worker who was somehow involved with several 9/11 hijackers obtaining Tennessee Drivers Licenses, and was later found burned to death in her car, to Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Gary Webb, who exposed a CIA Operation in the 80’s that resulted in the flooding of LA Streets with crack cocaine and was later found dead from two gunshot wounds to the head, but was officially ruled as a “suicide”, to Frank Olson, a senior research micro biologist who was working on the CIA’s mind control research program MKULTRA.

After Olson expressed his desire to leave the program, he was with a CIA agent in a New York hotel room, and is alleged to have committed “suicide” by throwing himself off the tenth floor balcony. In 1994, Olson’s sons were successful in their efforts to have their fathers body exhumed and re examined in a second autopsy by James Starrs, Professor of Law and Forensic science at the National Law Center at George Washington University. Starr’s team concluded that the blunt force trauma to the head and injury to the chest had not occurred during the fall but most likely in the room before the fall. The evidence was called “rankly and starkly suggestive of homicide.” Based on his findings, in 1996 the Manhattan District Attorney opened a homicide investigation into Olson’s death, but was unable to find enough evidence to bring charges.

As I said, I leave it to the individual readers to make up their own minds if Noveske suffered a similar fate. On to the list of mass shooters and the stark link to psychotropic drugs.

• Eric Harris age 17 (first on Zoloft then Luvox) and Dylan Klebold aged 18 (Columbine school shooting in Littleton, Colorado), killed 12 students and 1 teacher, and wounded 23 others, before killing themselves. Klebold’s medical records have never been made available to the public.

• Jeff Weise, age 16, had been prescribed 60 mg/day of Prozac (three times the average starting dose for adults!) when he shot his grandfather, his grandfather’s girlfriend and many fellow students at Red Lake, Minnesota. He then shot himself. 10 dead, 12 wounded.

• Cory Baadsgaard, age 16, Wahluke (Washington state) High School, was on Paxil (which caused him to have hallucinations) when he took a rifle to his high school and held 23 classmates hostage. He has no memory of the event.

• Chris Fetters, age 13, killed his favorite aunt while taking Prozac.

• Christopher Pittman, age 12, murdered both his grandparents while taking Zoloft.

• Mathew Miller, age 13, hung himself in his bedroom closet after taking Zoloft for 6 days.

• Kip Kinkel, age 15, (on Prozac and Ritalin) shot his parents while they slept then went to school and opened fire killing 2 classmates and injuring 22 shortly after beginning Prozac treatment.

• Luke Woodham, age 16 (Prozac) killed his mother and then killed two students, wounding six others.

• A boy in Pocatello, ID (Zoloft) in 1998 had a Zoloft-induced seizure that caused an armed stand off at his school.

• Michael Carneal (Ritalin), age 14, opened fire on students at a high school prayer meeting in West Paducah, Kentucky. Three teenagers were killed, five others were wounded..

• A young man in Huntsville, Alabama (Ritalin) went psychotic chopping up his parents with an ax and also killing one sibling and almost murdering another.

• Andrew Golden, age 11, (Ritalin) and Mitchell Johnson, aged 14, (Ritalin) shot 15 people, killing four students, one teacher, and wounding 10 others.

• TJ Solomon, age 15, (Ritalin) high school student in Conyers, Georgia opened fire on and wounded six of his class mates.

• Rod Mathews, age 14, (Ritalin) beat a classmate to death with a bat.

• James Wilson, age 19, (various psychiatric drugs) from Breenwood, South Carolina, took a .22 caliber revolver into an elementary school killing two young girls, and wounding seven other children and two teachers.

• Elizabeth Bush, age 13, (Paxil) was responsible for a school shooting in Pennsylvania

• Jason Hoffman (Effexor and Celexa) – school shooting in El Cajon, California

• Jarred Viktor, age 15, (Paxil), after five days on Paxil he stabbed his grandmother 61 times.

• Chris Shanahan, age 15 (Paxil) in Rigby, ID who out of the blue killed a woman.

• Jeff Franklin (Prozac and Ritalin), Huntsville, AL, killed his parents as they came home from work using a sledge hammer, hatchet, butcher knife and mechanic’s file, then attacked his younger brothers and sister.

• Neal Furrow (Prozac) in LA Jewish school shooting reported to have been court-ordered to be on Prozac along with several other medications.

• Kevin Rider, age 14, was withdrawing from Prozac when he died from a gunshot wound to his head. Initially it was ruled a suicide, but two years later, the investigation into his death was opened as a possible homicide. The prime suspect, also age 14, had been taking Zoloft and other SSRI antidepressants.

• Alex Kim, age 13, hung himself shortly after his Lexapro prescription had been doubled.

• Diane Routhier was prescribed Welbutrin for gallstone problems. Six days later, after suffering many adverse effects of the drug, she shot herself.

• Billy Willkomm, an accomplished wrestler and a University of Florida student, was prescribed Prozac at the age of 17. His family found him dead of suicide – hanging from a tall ladder at the family’s Gulf Shore Boulevard home in July 2002.

• Kara Jaye Anne Fuller-Otter, age 12, was on Paxil when she hung herself from a hook in her closet. Kara’s parents said “…. the damn doctor wouldn’t take her off it and I asked him to when we went in on the second visit. I told him I thought she was having some sort of reaction to Paxil…”)

• Gareth Christian, Vancouver, age 18, was on Paxil when he committed suicide in 2002, (Gareth’s father could not accept his son’s death and killed himself.)

• Julie Woodward, age 17, was on Zoloft when she hung herself in her family’s detached garage.

• Matthew Miller was 13 when he saw a psychiatrist because he was having difficulty at school. The psychiatrist gave him samples of Zoloft. Seven days later his mother found him dead, hanging by a belt from a laundry hook in his closet.

• Kurt Danysh, age 18, and on Prozac, killed his father with a shotgun. He is now behind prison bars, and writes letters, trying to warn the world that SSRI drugs can kill.

• Woody __, age 37, committed suicide while in his 5th week of taking Zoloft. Shortly before his death his physician suggested doubling the dose of the drug. He had seen his physician only for insomnia. He had never been depressed, nor did he have any history of any mental illness symptoms.

• A boy from Houston, age 10, shot and killed his father after his Prozac dosage was increased.

• Hammad Memon, age 15, shot and killed a fellow middle school student. He had been diagnosed with ADHD and depression and was taking Zoloft and “other drugs for the conditions.”

• Matti Saari, a 22-year-old culinary student, shot and killed 9 students and a teacher, and wounded another student, before killing himself. Saari was taking an SSRI and a benzodiazapine.

• Steven Kazmierczak, age 27, shot and killed five people and wounded 21 others before killing himself in a Northern Illinois University auditorium. According to his girlfriend, he had recently been taking Prozac, Xanax and Ambien. Toxicology results showed that he still had trace amounts of Xanax in his system.

• Finnish gunman Pekka-Eric Auvinen, age 18, had been taking antidepressants before he killed eight people and wounded a dozen more at Jokela High School – then he committed suicide.

• Asa Coon from Cleveland, age 14, shot and wounded four before taking his own life. Court records show Coon was on Trazodone.

• Jon Romano, age 16, on medication for depression, fired a shotgun at a teacher in his New York high school.

Missing from list… 3 of 4 known to have taken these same meds….

• What drugs was Jared Lee Loughner on, age 21…… killed 6 people and injuring 14 others in Tuscon, Az?

• What drugs was James Eagan Holmes on, age 24….. killed 12 people and injuring 59 others in Aurora Colorado?

• What drugs was Jacob Tyler Roberts on, age 22, killed 2 injured 1, Clackamas Or?

• What drugs was Adam Peter Lanza on, age 20, Killed 26 and wounded 2 in Newtown Ct?

Those focusing on further firearms bans or magazine restrictions are clearly focusing on the wrong issue and asking the wrong questions, either as a deliberate attempt to hide these links, or out of complete and utter ignorance.

Don’t let them! Force our elected “representatives” and the media to cast a harsh spotlight on this issue. Don’t stop hounding them until they do.

About Dan Roberts
Dan Roberts is a grassroots supporter of gun rights that has chosen AmmoLand Shooting Sports News as the perfect outlet for his frank, ‘Jersey Attitude’ filled articles on Guns and Gun Owner Rights. As a resident of the oppressive state of New Jersey he is well placed to be able to discuss the abuses of government against our inalienable rights to keep and bear arms as he writes from deep behind NJ’s Anti-Gun iron curtain. Read more from Dan Robertsor email him at DRoberts@ammoland.com You can also find him on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dan.roberts.18

Story 2: House of Representatives Passed Budget Blueprint — $600 Billion Plus Budget Deficit and Unbalanced Budgets — A Blueprint of Financial Irresponsibility By Burdening Current and Future Generations With Massive Debt — Replace Big Government Two Party Tyranny, Oppression and Empire with A Limited Government Representative Republic As The Founders Envisioned Under The Constitution –Videos

Building a Better America Budget

Building a Better America
A PLAN FOR FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY

For years, House Republicans have made a commitment to balance the budget. With our national debt and deficits continuing to increase at an unsustainable rate, the time to take action is now. We no longer have the option to shy away from our responsibility to promote a fiscal path that helps create prosperity and ensures opportunity for future generations.

Our budget, Building A Better America, balances within 10 years. For too long, the federal government’s excessive spending has put future generations at risk. Massive tax increases or crippling austerity measures are the natural conclusion of our current rate of spending, and future generations will pay the price. Failure to take swift and decisive action is not only inexcusable, it is immoral.

Some will disagree with our budget, but the status quo is unacceptable. Our budget is one of sustainability, smaller government, stronger national security, and greater freedom for individuals. The status quo is unsustainable spending, higher deficits and debt, higher taxes, bigger government, and more federal control over the lives of Americans.
We have a better way.

Page 4
4
BUILDING A BETTER AMERICA | A Plan for Fiscal Responsibility
In past years, the budget resolution passed by this committee has been a statement of principles – a vision for a long-term fiscal path to sustainability and prosperity. This year is different. The budget resolution is no longer a theoretical outline with little chance of implementation. It is the major governing document of the 115th Congress, and it is the concrete fulfillment of our promise to the American people.

To achieve these goals, our budget resolution provides a path that will require subsequent legislation. But this Congress is committed to following through on our promises.
Building a Better America achieves the goals we have laid out this year and in past Congresses. The fiscal year 2018 budget resolution:
 Develops a Sustainable Spending Path by Balancing in 10 Years
oThe budget deficit and our national debt are impediments to greater prosperity and a threat to the security of future generations. This committee’s budget balances in 10
years and reforms government programs to put us on a sustainable spending path.
 Promotes Economic Growth
o For the last eight years, government has hindered economic growth. That will no longer be the case. Our budget calls for reducing burdensome regulations, and it suggests keyreforms to our tax code and government programs that will help unleash the potential of the American economy.

 Strengthens Our National Defense

There is no greater task for the federal government than to protect its citizens and the
homeland. This committee’s budget increases funding for our military and provides
significant resources for our homeland security, including protecting our borders.

Returns Power Back to the States
Our budget calls for returning significant authority to the states, which have both the ability and the will to reform and modernize programs that serve their citizens. The laboratories of democracy, not the federal government, are where these reforms should happen.
 Reforms and Strengthens Government Programs While Improving Accountability
o Hardworking Americans earn every tax dollar that the federal government collects.
Responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars is a fundamental tenet of our budget
resolution. At every opportunity possible, our budget encourages reforms of
government programs and improves accountability, while generating better outcomes
for Americans.

The budget process will be difficult, but we were elected by the American people to meet these challenges head-on. Building a Better America sets us on a sustainable fiscal path, promotes our security, and encourages prosperity.
This is our opportunity to fulfill the promises we made to the American people. We cannot afford to let this moment pass.

https://budget.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Building-a-Better-America-PDF-2.pdf

Budget Blueprint: Build-A-Better America

https://budget.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Building-a-Better-America-PDF-2.pdf

House Passes Budget Blueprint, Taking Step Toward Tax Overhaul

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The Pronk Pops Show 970, September 22, 2017: Breaking Story 1: Rocket Man Kim Jong-Un Promises To Explode Hydrogen Bomb Over Pacific Ocean — Story 2: The Democratic and Republican Party Failure To Completely Repeal Obamacare Including Repealing The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and All Related Mandates, Regulations, Taxes, Spending and Subsidies — Obamacare Collapsing — Replace Obamacare With Free Enterprise Market Capitalism Health Insurance — Keep The Federal Government Out Of The Health Insurance and Health Care Business — Videos — Story 3: Obama’s Secret Surveillance Spy State Scandal — Misuse of Intelligence Community For Political Purposes — Gross Abuse of Power and Political Conspiracy — Violation of Fourth Amendment — Videos —

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Breaking Story 1: Rocket Man Kim Jong-Un Promises To Explode Hydrogen Bomb Over Pacific Ocean —

North Korea Threatens Nuclear Test in the Pacific Ocean

What could happen if NKorea tests hydrogen bomb over ocean?

Kim Jong-un makes unprecedented statement at Trump as N. Korea suggests future …

Panel on Kim Jong Un Calls President Trump ‘Dotard’ and ‘Frightened Dog’ #DonaldTrump #NorthKorea

“Rocket Man” : North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Calls President Trump ‘a Frightened Dog’ and ‘Dotard’

Putin warns US, North Korea on verge of conflict

Hydrogen Bomb vs. Atomic Bomb: What’s The Difference?

North Korea nuclear test: Hydrogen bomb ‘missile-ready’ – BBC News

Fareed Zakaria on North Korea hints at detonating H-Bomb in Pacific. #Breaking #FareedZakaria

LGM-30 Minuteman Launch – ICBM

Why Is It So Hard to Build an ICBM?

Why North Korea Can’t Build An ICBM (yet)

 

People in Pyongyang, North Korea, watched a television broadcast on Friday of Kim Jong-un’s response to President Trump’s speech at the United Nations. CreditEd Jones/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea has long cultivated an image of defiant belligerence, punctuating its propaganda and diplomacy with colorful threats, insults and bluster. But by addressing President Trump in a personal statement on Friday, the nation’s leader, Kim Jong-un, has pushed his government’s brinkmanship to a new, potentially more perilous level.

In a statement written in the first person, published on the front pages of state newspapers and read on national television, Mr. Kim called Mr. Trump a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard” who had “denied the existence of and insulted me and my country in front of the eyes of the world.”

Mr. Kim vowed to take the “highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history.”

In a country where the leader is essentially portrayed as a god, Mr. Kim’s decision to respond personally to Mr. Trump’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly and pledge reprisals escalated the standoff over the North’s nuclear program in a way that neither he nor his predecessors had done before.

Though the statement made no mention of nuclear weapons, in the context of a political system built on a cult of personality, Mr. Kim’s intervention appeared to sharply reduce the possibility that his government might retreat or compromise, even in the face of war.

Mr. Kim condemned Mr. Trump’s threat to “totally destroy” North Korea if the United States is forced to defend itself, and he declared that it had “convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct and that it is the one I have to follow to the last.”

Mr. Ri could not have made such an alarming comment without approval from Mr. Kim, although some analysts question whether North Korea has the technology or political daring to conduct an atmospheric nuclear test, something the world has not seen for decades.

Mr. Trump responded on Friday by further personalizing the dispute. On Twitter, the president pronounced Mr. Kim to be “obviously a madman.”

North Korea has often issued statements in the names of its government and its People’s Army, and since taking power in late 2011, Mr. Kim has delivered an annual New Year’s Day speech. But Friday’s statement was the first by Mr. Kim directed openly at a foreign head of state. Mr. Kim’s father and grandfather, who ruled North Korea before him, never made such a statement, South Korean officials said.

In effect, Mr. Kim, whose cultlike leadership rests upon his perceived daring toward North Korea’s external enemies, has turned the nation’s standoff with the United States into a personal duel with Mr. Trump, analysts said.

The North Korean news media carried photographs of Mr. Kim sitting in his office and reading his statement, but his voice was not broadcast. On the country’s state-run Central TV, a female announcer read his statement.

“This is totally unprecedented,” said Paik Hak-soon, a longtime North Korea analyst at the Sejong Institute, a think tank outside Seoul, referring to Mr. Kim’s statement. “The way North Korea’s supreme leadership works, Kim Jong-un has to respond more assertively as its enemy gets more confrontational, like Trump has.

“There is no backing down in the North Korean rule book,” Mr. Paik said. “It’s the very core of their leadership identity and motive.”

Until now, Mr. Kim himself has appeared to refrain from personal attacks on the American president, even as Mr. Trump has called him a “maniac,” a “total nut job,” and, most recently, “Rocket Man.”

On Friday, Mr. Kim said he took Mr. Trump’s latest assault personally and accused him of making “the most ferocious declaration of a war in history.”

Mr. Kim also suggested Mr. Trump’s belligerent rhetoric signaled American weakness rather than resolve. “A frightened dog barks louder,” he said.

Koh Yu-hwan, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul, said that Mr. Kim, faced with Mr. Trump’s threat of annihilation, could respond only with equal force.

“When Trump stood before the United Nations General Assembly and threatened to totally destroy his country, Kim Jong-un had to take that as the United States telling the world of its intention for possible military action,” Mr. Koh said. “He had to respond in kind, launching the same kind of verbal bombs.”

Analysts said that by putting his reputation on the line with his statement, Mr. Kim was now far more unlikely to stand down. Instead, his government was likely to conduct more nuclear and missile tests, they said.

“Trump shot himself in the foot with his unabashedly undiplomatic United Nations General Assembly speech,” said Lee Sung-yoon, a Korea expert at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. “By threatening to totally destroy North Korea, he created the impression around the world that it is actually the United States — instead of North Korea — that’s motivated by aggression. In effect, Trump gave Kim Jong-un a freebie for another major provocation. Kim will oblige, and claim that it was in ‘self-defense’ against Trump’s unnerving threats.”

Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, compared the Korean standoff to the October 1962 crisis over Soviet missiles in Cuba, urging the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, to convene the six parties that were previously involved in talks on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula — China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea and the United States — to discuss reducing fever-pitch tensions.

“We are in a cycle of escalation that leads to a very bad end,” Mr. Kimball said.

North Korea has conducted all of its six nuclear tests within deep underground tunnels to diminish the spread of radioactive materials, and has stepped up the pace of its missile tests. Some analysts fear that the next step might be for North Korea to try to prove that it can deliver a nuclear warhead on a long-range missile, no matter how dangerous and provocative that might be.

It has been 37 years since any nation tested a nuclear weapon in the planet’s atmosphere, reflecting the nearly universal opposition to such tests over fears of the effects of radioactive fallout on human health and the environment. The last atmospheric test took place in 1980, when China fired what experts believed to be a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile into a desert salt flat more than 1,300 miles west of Beijing.

Mr. Trump addressing the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. CreditChang W. Lee/The New York Times

Shin Beom-chul, a security expert at the government-run Korea National Diplomatic Academy in Seoul, said that even if North Korea wanted to conduct an atmospheric nuclear test in the Pacific, it did not have the ability to dispatch test-monitoring ships to the open ocean while the United States military was on the prowl.

Mr. Shin said North Korea probably would not risk the radioactive fallout and other grave dangers involved in a nuclear missile test. The country has yet to master the technologies needed to prevent the warhead at the tip of its long-range ballistic missile from burning up while re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, South Korean officials said.

“What if the nuclear missile goes wrong midflight and detonates over Japan? It would mean a nuclear war,” Mr. Shin said. “More likely, North Korea will graduate its provocations, as if moving on steppingstones.”

Analysts said North Korea had been escalating tensions in stages in what they called a “salami tactic,” as in slice by slice.

Kim Dong-yub, a defense analyst at the Seoul-based Institute for Far Eastern Studies of Kyungnam University, said that North Korea would probably try to disprove skeptics in the West over its ability to strike long-range targets by firing its Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile over Japan and farther into the Pacific — but without a nuclear payload.

Some analysts said the North Korean leader was acting more defensively than offensively, with his threats aimed at forcing the Trump administration to ease sanctions. On Thursday, Mr. Trump issued an executive order empowering his government to punish international banks and other entities that trade with North Korea.

But other analysts warned that North Korea’s determination to improve its nuclear capabilities — and act offensively — had long been underestimated.

“If we follow what North Korea has been doing, it will be almost certain that it will fire its missile sooner or later to demonstrate an ICBM range,” Mr. Kim, the Kyungnam University analyst, said. “I don’t think the missile will carry a nuclear warhead, but I can’t shake off the fear that it might, because North Korea has time and again carried things beyond my expectation.”

Story 2: Obamacare Collapsing– American People Be Damned — Democratic and Republican Parties Fail To Completely Repeal Obamacare Including Repealing Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and All Related Mandates, Regulations, Taxes, Spending and Subsidies — Replace Obamacare With Free Enterprise Market Capitalism Health Insurance — Keep The Federal Government Out Of The Health Insurance and Health Care Business — Videos

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Graham-Cassidy Will Probably Fail. McCain and Paul Announce No Votes

BREAKING NEWS: McCain kills Obamacare repeal for a second time and announces he’ll oppose his p…

Rand Paul a No Vote on Graham-Cassidy HC Bill. He Explains

RAND PAUL FULL ONE-ON-ONE EXPLOSIVE INTERVIEW WITH MARTHA MACCALLUM (9/18/2017)

Rand Paul Goes Off On Obamacare “Repeal”

Senator: Graham-Cassidy not an Obamacare repeal

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) On Latest Obamacare Effort: This Is Not Repeal – The Five

RAND PAUL FULL ONE-ON-ONE EXPLOSIVE INTERVIEW WITH NEIL CAVUTO (9/14/2017)

 

Paul: ‘I won’t be bribed or bullied’ on repeal vote

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) pushed back on Friday against pressure from President Trump to vote for a last-ditch GOP effort in the Senate to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, saying that he “won’t be bribed or bullied.”

In an early-morning tweet, Trump warned Paul that if he failed to vote for Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy‘s (R-La.) health-care proposal, he would forever be known as “‘the Republican who saved ObamaCare.'”

But in a series of tweets following the president’s post, Paul contended that the Graham-Cassidy measure does not fulfill the GOP’s longtime promise to repeal the ACA, and ultimately keeps ObamaCare’s taxes and spending.

The Graham-Cassidy measure revives the GOP’s efforts to repeal and replace parts of the ACA after a slimmed-down repeal bill failed in July. It seeks to end ObamaCare’s insurance subsidies and the Medicaid expansion, and instead convert those pots of money to block grants for the states.

The new proposal needs at least 50 votes to pass the Senate with a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Pence, and backers are scrambling to round up the votes before a Sept. 30 procedural deadline, after which the measure would need a filibuster-proof 60 votes.

The White House has thrown its weight behind the measure and Trump has tweeted his support for it in recent days, casting the bill as a new opportunity for the GOP to fulfill its seven-year promise to do away with ObamaCare.

So far, Paul is the only GOP senator who has indicated he will vote against the Graham-Cassidy proposal. But three others — Sens. Susan Collins(Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and John McCain (Ariz.) — are being closely watched.

The trio voted “no” on the “skinny” ObamaCare repeal bill in July leaving that bill one vote short of passing. All three remain undecided about the Graham-Cassidy proposal.

http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/351865-paul-i-wont-be-bribed-or-bullied

3 red-flag provisions in the Graham-Cassidy health care bill

Posted September 21, 2017 08:36 AM

by Daniel Horowitz

Red flag storm warning

John-Kelly | Getty Images

Previously, I noted that while Graham-Cassidy does nothing to change the fundamentals of the current system of health care and medical insurance, it at least repeals the individual mandate, which will allow us to escape from the dumpster fire and potentially start a new system. But any “holding of the nose” to pass this bill should only be under the condition that the other provisions are not worse than the status quo. That’s the only way we can take “half a loaf rather than none” — or in this case, more like ten percent. That rationale breaks down if there are provisions that will make the system worse or further entrench Obamacare in current law.

Thus far, I have found three concerning provisions:

Protected class for insurance coverage

Page 13 of the bill stipulates that “a health insurance issuer may not vary premium rates based on an individual’s sex or membership in a protected class under the Constitution of the United States.”

Readers of Conservative Review are well aware that the radical king courts have already made foreign nationals and transgenders protected classes under the U.S. Constitution in many respects. Most certainly, once we codify such language into statute, there is no limit to what lower court judges and Anthony Kennedy will do to expand “constitutional” rights to all sorts of insurance coverage. They could use this provision to mandate coverage for illegal aliens. They could use this provision to carve out all sorts of coverage for homosexuals and for sex-change operations. Most certainly, it will give states trouble in cutting off subsidy funding for abortions.

This might possibly be worse than current law.

Forcing Texas and conservative states to expand government-run health care

Proponents of the bill are touting this system as an exercise in federalism because it devolves the subsidies and Medicaid expansion to the states in one giant pot. Some D.C. conservatives think it’s a good thing that red state that didn’t originally expand Medicaid will “get their fair share.” However, those who truly oppose Obamacare and understand free markets know that expanded Medicaid not only is costly and creates dependency but also distorts the market and inflates the cost of health care for everyone else. Furthermore, it hurts private practices because the programs pay hospital physicians more than private practice physicians. Medicaid expansion has been a boon for the hospital cartel and has destroyed any semblance of market-based health care.

Until now, we all celebrated the one silver lining of some red states not expanding Medicaid. Now, this bill brings this aspect of Obamacare, and its ensuing price inflation on the market, to the states that don’t currently have it. Worse, the bill (page 15) puts a gun to the heads of these states and says that if they want a waiver for even the few regulatory relief provisions offered in this bill, they must take and administer the federal Obamacare/Medicaid expansion grants.

Thus, to the extent a state can waive a regulation for an individual insurance contract, they must give subsidies to that individual — regardless of his status. He could be a millionaire!

As Chris Jacobs, noted health policy expert at the Texas Public Policy Institute, wrote, “Moreover, some conservatives may view provisions requiring anyone to whom a waiver applies to receive federal grant funding as the epitome of moral hazard—ensuring that individuals who go through health underwriting will receive federal subsidies, no matter their level of wealth or personal circumstances.” He further observed, “By requiring states to subsidize bad actors—for instance, an individual making $250,000 who knowingly went without health coverage for years—with federal taxpayer dollars, the bill could actually raise health insurance premiums, not lower them.”

Thus, this is not a “half a loaf,” this is a poisonous loaf. While blue states are free to move the funding further to the Left and create single-payer, in no way can red states move towards free markets, because for every step they make towards regulatory relief, they must add more market-distorting funding than even under the status quo. This will hook the politicians from the reddest of red states on the dope they didn’t fully embrace before now.

The bailout fund

It would be one thing to leave most of Obamacare in place, as opposed to leaving it all in place. But this bill adds a state bailout fund that entrenches Obamacare even further. Not only does it codify the illegal cost-sharing subsidies for three years (and we all know the three years will be expanded indefinitely), it creates an unaccountable $35 billion slush fund for HHS to dole out at their full discretion to “fund arrangements with health insurance issuers to address coverage and access disruption and respond to urgent health care needs within States.” And of course, rather than disappearing in 2020, this will create a funding cliff that will only expand the program thereafter.

As I mentioned before, the only saving grace of this bill is that repeal of the individual mandate will prompt consumers to leave the insurance cartel and create direct care and health-sharing associations as an alternative to this entire scheme. However, by creating an unaccountable bailout program, HHS bureaucrats will work with state bureaucrats and insurance cartel lobbyists (no elected officials involved!) to mask the price inflation to keep the insurance monopoly intact.

It will codify, enshrine, and expand Obamacare.

Overall, it’s understandable why conservatives would want to support something over nothing at this late hour. And with the right focus on supply-side market reforms, we could possibly make a partial repeal work, with the elimination of the mandates. But politicians must first focus on not making things worse. Moreover, they should at least negotiate to get rid of the bailout fund and these onerous provisions while working for some true health care reforms, such as price transparency and parity of tax treatment. If this requires using the reconciliation bill for next year to fix health care, then so be it.

The mother’s milk of the D.C. swamp is the false dichotomy of “take or leave it.” Don’t fall for the trick without first fighting for more.

https://www.conservativereview.com/articles/3-red-flag-provisions-in-the-graham-cassidy-health-care-bill

Story 3: Obama’s Secret Surveillance Spy State Scandal — Misuse of Intelligence Community For Political Purposes — Gross Abuse of Power and Political Conspiracy — Violation of Fourth Amendment — Videos —

Sharyl Attkisson speaks out about Obama-era surveillance

Breaking:Muller & DEP AG Colluding On Crimes In A HISTORIC CONFLICT OF INTEREST & BREACH OF ETHICS

Mark Steyn, Clapper, Manafort, Trump Wiretapping, and Mueller!

Please Watch As Mark Steyn Illustrates To Fox News If They Are Wise Why It Should Be The Steyn Show

BREAKING: Intel Officer Reveals How Obama Will Be ‘First President In History’ To Be Hit With a…

Samantha Power. Ridiculous Amounts of Unmasking

Samantha Power Made 200+ Unmasking Requests? 200 +?

New evidence Obama’s NSA conducted illegal searches

Obama Surveillance: UN Ambassador Samantha Power, the Unmasker

Rush Limbaugh: Obama unmasking investigation focuses on Samantha Power (07-20-2017)

FBI, CIA and NSA served with subpoenas in unmasking probe

Special Report : Krauthammer on FBI, CIA and NSA served subpoenas in unmasking probe : 5/31/2017

Released Documents Prove Obama’s Administration Routinely Violated Fourth Amendment

Hannity : Circa News reports Obama’s FBI illegally shared spy data about Americans : 5/25/2017

James Clapper Admits To Unmasking Trump

President Obama went to British intelligence to spy on Trump for him! – Judge Napolitano

U.S. Citizens Names Are Already Unmasked In My Reports” Sally Yates Drops Bombshell During Congress

Mark Levin challenges Mueller: What’s your intention?

It looks like Obama did spy on Trump, just as he apparently did to me

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Breaking News — Story 1: President Trump For National Unity Furiously Signs Flawed Russia, Iran, and North Korea Sanctions Bill — Videos —

President Trump signs Russian sanctions bill Fox News Video

President Trump signs new Russia sanctions, questions whether bill interferes with foreign policy 

BREAKING NEWS 8/2/17 PRESIDENT TRUMP SIGNS NEW RUSSIA SANCTIONS BILL

January 3, 2017: Sen. Tom Cotton joined Tucker Carlson Tonight on Fox News

Trump Signs Sanctions Bill – Another Deep State Victory

Real Bipartisanship: Republicans And Democrats Unite For New Cold War

Germany growing sick of US sanctions on Russia

Russians See Sanctions Regime as a Blessing in Disguise

Trump signs Russia sanctions bill but blasts Congress

In a pair of statements, the president said parts of the law violate the Constitution.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed a bipartisan bill placing new sanctions on Russia — but in a statement, he claimed multiple aspects of the legislation violate the Constitution.

The sanctions, aimed at punishing Russia for its interference in the 2016 election, limit the president’s power to lift the sanctions without congressional approval and were initially resisted by the administration.

In one of two statements released almost simultaneously Wednesday morning by the White House, Trump said he supports the law’s efforts to crack down on the actions of Iran, North Korea and Russia. But the White House protested what it sees as congressional encroachment on the president’s power in foreign affairs.

“In its haste to pass this legislation, the Congress included a number of clearly unconstitutional provisions,” Trump said in one statement. “My Administration particularly expects the Congress to refrain from using this flawed bill to hinder our important work with European allies to resolve the conflict in Ukraine, and from using it to hinder our efforts to address any unintended consequences it may have for American businesses, our friends, or our allies.”

The president’s second statement included a stepped-up defense of his own administration’s foreign policy and input on the legislation. Trump said that “despite its problems,” he had signed the bill “for the sake of national unity.” The statement characterized the governments of Iran and North Korea as “rogue regimes,” a label he did not apply to the Russian government.

Even as he continues to label Russian interference in the election a “hoax,” the statement went further in acknowledging the intrusion than Trump has in the past.

“I also support making clear that America will not tolerate interference in our democratic process, and that we will side with our allies and friends against Russian subversion and destabilization,” the statement said.

Still, Trump was quick to push back on what he views as congressional overreach.

“The bill remains seriously flawed — particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate. Congress could not even negotiate a health care bill after seven years of talking,” Trump said, in reference to congressional Republicans’ latest failure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

“I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars. That is a big part of the reason I was elected,” the president continued. “As President, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.”

The statements drew mixed reaction on Capitol Hill.

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, a leading architect of the sanctions bill, told reporters he was not concerned about Trump’s statement, though he said he had not yet seen it.

“Both countries talk privately in ways that are very different from how they talk publicly,” the Tennessee Republican said of U.S.-Russia relations. “But this was a necessary step that we took, and I’m glad we took it.”

In addition to allowing lawmakers to handcuff Trump on any future changes to Russia sanctions, the legislation converts some existing sanctions from executive orders into law, making them more difficult to roll back, and imposes new sanctions focused on Moscow’s reported cyber-meddling in the November election. The legislation’s Iran and North Korea sanctions were broadly popular in both parties and with the Trump administration.

Although White House officials asserted that some of the preferred changes to the legislation were included before its final passage last week, the administration had long underscored its opposition to provisions that will impede Trump’s ability to warm relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The action by the Congress to put these sanctions in place and the way that they did, neither the president nor I are very happy about that,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters Tuesday. “We were clear that we didn’t think it was going to be helpful to our efforts.”

Still, Tillerson added, “we can’t let it take us off track of trying to restore the relationship” with Russia.

Even as Trump criticized the measure, he added that “I nevertheless expect to honor the bill’s waiting periods to ensure that Congress will have a full opportunity to avail itself of the bill’s review procedures.”

That apparent concession by Trump did not assuage Democratic concerns about his signing statement. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California warned in a statement that Trump’s interpretation of the sanctions bill “raises serious questions about whether his administration intends to follow the law, or whether he will continue to enable and reward Vladimir Putin’s aggression.”

And some Republicans who played a key role in the sanctions package raised their own alarms.

“Look, whether it was President Bush, President Obama, or President Trump, I’ve never been a fan of signing statements,” said Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado. “I think they’re a way for any president to usurp the role of the legislative branch. And that’s why I’ve always been concerned, regardless of who issued them, on any matter.”

The bill enjoyed wide bipartisan support. The House passed the sanctions by a vote of 419-3, and the Senate cleared it 98-2 — making any presidential veto futile and sure to be overridden.

With multiple investigations into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, a veto also would have been politically disastrous.

After weeks of waffling, the White House confirmed over the weekend that Trump would sign the bill.

The White House still sought to characterize the bill as a win, with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying in a statement on Friday that Trump “negotiated regarding critical elements of it” and decided to sign it “based on its responsiveness to his negotiations.”

The statement Wednesday also contained a warning — not to Russia, but to Congress.

“The Framers of our Constitution put foreign affairs in the hands of the President,” Trump said. “This bill will prove the wisdom of that choice.”

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/08/02/trump-signs-bipartisan-russia-sanctions-bill-241242

 

Furious Trump signs Russian sanctions into law – then issues tirade against ‘unconstitutional’ bill and boasts his billions show why Congress shouldn’t stop him making deals with Putin

  • President Donald Trump signed legislation imposing new sanctions on Russia, North Korea, and Iran
  • The White House did not organize a ceremony of any kind for it
  • Trump said in a statement he signed the bill for the sake of ‘national unity’ 
  • The White House lobbied to water down restrictions in the bill
  • It passed Congress overwhelmingly with veto-proof majorities
  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he and the president were not ‘very happy’ about the sanctions bill 

President Donald Trump signed legislation Wednesday that slaps sanctions on Russia and limits his own ability to create waivers – but at the same time issued a furious statement calling it ‘flawed’.

He signed the bill, which Secretary of State Rex Tillerson publicly said he wasn’t happy about, in private.

Then the White House sent out statement by the president revealing the depths of his unhappiness and boasting that his billions showed he was far better at deal-making than Congress.

Trump said despite some changes, ‘the bill remains seriously flawed – particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate.’

He called parts of it ‘unconstitutional’ and signaled fresh tensions with Republicans by criticizing their failure to repeal and replace Obamacare.

President Donald Trump has signed legislation that slaps sanctions on Russia and limits his own ability to create waivers

‘Congress could not even negotiate a healthcare bill after seven years of talking. By limiting the Executive’s flexibility, this bill makes it harder for the United States to strike good deals for the American people, and will drive China, Russia, and North Korea much closer together.

‘The Framers of our Constitution put foreign affairs in the hands of the President. This bill will prove the wisdom of that choice,’ Trump said in a statement.

‘Yet despite its problems, I am signing this bill for the sake of national unity. It represents the will of the American people to see Russia take steps to improve relations with the United States. We hope there will be cooperation between our two countries on major global issues so that these sanctions will no longer be necessary.’

In a message to Congress in response to the bill, Trump singled out provisions his lawyers considers in conflict with Supreme Court case law – and asserts his own latitude to carry out the law as he sees fit.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Trump wasn't happy with the bill

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Trump wasn’t happy with the bill

‘My Administration will give careful and respectful consideration to the preferences expressed by the Congress in these various provisions,’ the president said in one point – in language certain to irk lawmakers who consider the law much more than a preference.

‘My administration … expects the Congress to refrain from using this flawed bill to hinder our important work with European allies to resolve the conflict in Ukraine, and from using it to hinder our efforts to address any unintended consequences it may have for American businesses, our friends, or our allies,’ he said.

The president also complained about what he said were ‘clearly unconstitutional provisions’ in the legislation relating to presidential powers to shape foreign policy.

 White House counselor Kellyanne Conway confirmed the signing on Fox News.

The bill passed Congress by overwhelming margins sufficient to override a presidential veto. The White House lobbied to water down restrictions in the bill.

The bill contains language meant to prevent the president from lifting them without approval from Congress – provisions that got drafted amid concerns Trump would lift or limit sanctions amid his frequent praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin and desire to improve ties between the two powers.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters he shared misgivings with the president, as they try to improve relations with Russia.

‘Neither the president nor I are very happy about that,’ Tillerson said. ‘We were clear that we didn’t think that was going to be helpful to our efforts, but that’s the decision they made.’

The FBI and congressional intelligence panels are probing Trump campaign connections to Russians during the election.

SIGN OF THE TIMES: Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a news conference after the G20 summit in Hamburg, northern Germany, July 8, 2017

SIGN OF THE TIMES: Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a news conference after the G20 summit in Hamburg, northern Germany, July 8, 2017

Then-candidate Donald Trump holds up a signed pledge during a press availability at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York September 3, 2015

Then-candidate Donald Trump holds up a signed pledge during a press availability at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York September 3, 2015

Justice Department lawyers and security officials were reviewing Russia sanctions legislation Tuesday

Justice Department lawyers and security officials were reviewing Russia sanctions legislation Tuesday

Trump during the campaign repeatedly called for better relations with Russia. The U.S. intelligence community concluded that the Russian government backed a campaign to interfere in the presidential election.

Despite communications with Russian President Vladimir Putin capped off by two one-on-one meetings in Europe, Trump has struggled to meet his goal.

Putin said last weekend that Russia would expel more than 700 U.S. diplomats from Russia in retaliation for the sanctions legislation.

I’M WORTH BILLIONS – I CAN MAKE BETTER DEALS THAN CONGRESS

Today, I signed into law the ‘Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act,’ which enacts new sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Russia. I favor tough measures to punish and deter bad behavior by the rogue regimes in Tehran and Pyongyang. I also support making clear that America will not tolerate interference in our democratic process, and that we will side with our allies and friends against Russian subversion and destabilization.

That is why, since taking office, I have enacted tough new sanctions on Iran and North Korea, and shored up existing sanctions on Russia.

Since this bill was first introduced, I have expressed my concerns to Congress about the many ways it improperly encroaches on Executive power, disadvantages American companies, and hurts the interests of our European allies.

My Administration has attempted to work with Congress to make this bill better. We have made progress and improved the language to give the Treasury Department greater flexibility in granting routine licenses to American businesses, people, and companies. The improved language also reflects feedback from our European allies – who have been steadfast partners on Russia sanctions – regarding the energy sanctions provided for in the legislation. The new language also ensures our agencies can delay sanctions on the intelligence and defense sectors, because those sanctions could negatively affect American companies and those of our allies.

Still, the bill remains seriously flawed – particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate. Congress could not even negotiate a healthcare bill after seven years of talking. By limiting the Executive’s flexibility, this bill makes it harder for the United States to strike good deals for the American people, and will drive China, Russia, and North Korea much closer together. The Framers of our Constitution put foreign affairs in the hands of the President. This bill will prove the wisdom of that choice.

Yet despite its problems, I am signing this bill for the sake of national unity. It represents the will of the American people to see Russia take steps to improve relations with the United States. We hope there will be cooperation between our two countries on major global issues so that these sanctions will no longer be necessary.

Further, the bill sends a clear message to Iran and North Korea that the American people will not tolerate their dangerous and destabilizing behavior. America will continue to work closely with our friends and allies to check those countries’ malignant activities.

I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars. That is a big part of the reason I was elected. As President, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.

In his statement about the bill, Trump highlighted a series of concerns about the legislation. Had he vetoed it, Congress could have easily overridden him.

‘Since this bill was first introduced, I have expressed my concerns to Congress about the many ways it improperly encroaches on Executive power, disadvantages American companies, and hurts the interests of our European allies,’ Trump complained.

‘My Administration has attempted to work with Congress to make this bill better. We have made progress and improved the language to give the Treasury Department greater flexibility in granting routine licenses to American businesses, people, and companies. The improved language also reflects feedback from our European allies – who have been steadfast partners on Russia sanctions – regarding the energy sanctions provided for in the legislation. The new language also ensures our agencies can delay sanctions on the intelligence and defense sectors, because those sanctions could negatively affect American companies and those of our allies.’

 Russia hawk Sen. John McCain of Arizona responded in a statement: ‘I welcome President Trump’s decision to sign legislation imposing new sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea. The enactment of this legislation, which enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support in both houses of Congress, sends a strong message to friend and foe alike that the United States will hold nations accountable for aggressive and destabilizing behavior that threatens our national interests and those of our allies and partners.’

McCain also called out Trump’s signing statement. ‘The concerns expressed in the President’s signing statement are hardly surprising, though misplaced. The Framers of our Constitution made the Congress and the President coequal branches of government. This bill has already proven the wisdom of that choice,’ he wrote.

“While the American people surely hope for better relations with Russia, what this legislation truly represents is their insistence that Vladimir Putin and his regime must pay a real price for attacking our democracy, violating human rights, occupying Crimea, and destabilizing Ukraine.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4754014/President-Donald-Trump-signs-Russia-sanctions-bill.html#ixzz4ocylqTKe

 

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia met with President Trump for the first time during the Group of 20 summit meeting in Hamburg, Germany, this month. CreditStephen Crowley/The New York Times

MOSCOW — The last time the Kremlin forced a sweeping reduction of local staff at the American Embassy in Moscow, a young diplomat named Steven Pifer found himself working four days a week on arms control, as usual. But on the fifth day, he navigated the capital in a big truck to move furniture or haul mammoth grocery loads.

The entire staff of the embassy, except the ambassador, was assigned one day each week to grunt work called All Purpose Duty, Mr. Pifer recalled in an interview on Monday, when they shed their dark suits and polished loafers to mow the lawns, fix the plumbing, cook in the cafeteria and even clean the toilets.

That was a last hurrah for the Cold War in 1986, and although the embassy now functions on a far more complex scale, many current and former diplomats expect a similar effort in the wake of President Vladimir V. Putin’s announcement on Sunday that the United States diplomatic mission in Russia must shed 755 employees by Sept. 1.

“The attitude in the embassy was if they think that they will shut us down, we will show them,” said Mr. Pifer, who went on to become an American ambassador to Ukraine and is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “I think the embassy will adapt this time, too.”

Russia demanded that the United States reduce its diplomatic staff to equal the 455 Russian diplomats working in the United States, including at the mission to the United Nations. That means cutting about 60 percent of a work force estimated at 1,200 to 1,300 people, the vast majority of whom are Russians.

Given the continuing deterioration in relations between the two countries, core functions like political and military analysis will be preserved, along with espionage, experts said, while programs that involve cooperation on everything from trade to culture to science are likely to be reduced or eliminated.

Besides the State Department, a dizzying array of American government agencies have employees at the embassy, including the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce as well as NASA and the Library of Congress.

The other area expected to take a heavy hit will be public services, like issuing visas to Russian travelers to the United States, which is likely to slow to a glacial pace.

The Russian staff can be broken down into two broad categories: specialists who help individual departments in the embassy like public relations, and basic service workers employed as security guards, drivers, janitors, electricians and a host of other maintenance functions.

As of 2013, the latest year for which public records are available, there were 1,279 staff members working in the American Embassy in Moscow and in consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok, according to a report by the Inspector General’s Office. Of those, 934 were not Americans, including 652 basic service workers. The numbers are believed to have stayed roughly the same.

Russian staff members working in various departments like the political or economic section often provide the embassy’s institutional memory, because they stay on the job for years while American diplomats rotate every two or three years. (If the Russian employees stay for at least 15 years, they are eligible for special immigration visas to the United States and their salaries are high by Russian standards.)

It is the Russians who tend to notice nuances in domestic news coverage or in Mr. Putin’s speeches, or who direct diplomats toward public events or responsible journalists. The Russian employees provide continuity, an American diplomat who recently left Moscow said, speaking anonymously because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

Gen. Bruce McClintock, the American Defense attaché from 2014 to 2016 and now a RAND Corporation analyst, said Russian employees were often more effective in organizing meetings with government officials, while experienced translators ensured that the positions of both sides were clear in often complex discussions.

Russia had already chipped away at embassy programs, anyway, he noted. In 2013, it shuttered USAID, for example, and in 2014, in response to the West’s cutting off military cooperation after the Ukraine crisis, it closed the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

Although the work continued, it was much harder to coordinate because its 10 employees had departed, said General McClintock.

Russian nationals are not given the security clearances needed to work in the more clandestine branches of the embassy. Indeed, in the chancellery itself, no Russians worked above the fourth floor in the roughly 10-story building, former Russian employees said.

The American Embassy, which held a staff meeting on Monday to confirm the news to its employees, refused to comment on the events, while in Washington the State Department would say only that it was studying the Russian government’s request.

The general hostility toward the United States means Moscow was already considered a hardship post for American diplomats, and the new measures will lower morale further, diplomats said.

Russian employees are confused and do not yet understand how the changes will be carried out, a former Russian employee now working outside the country said, adding with dark humor that Stalin used to say there were no irreplaceable people.

Russian employees who worked for specialized departments feel especially vulnerable because they carry a certain stigma in Russia’s current nationalistic mood. Michael McFaul, a Stanford University professor who was the American ambassador from 2012 to 2014, remembered trying to help find work for 70 Russians who were let go when the Kremlin closed the USAID office.

It was especially hard because “many Russian companies would not consider hiring these ‘tainted’ people,” he said in an email.

In recent years, local employees have come under increasing pressure from the Russian security service, the F.S.B., according to current and former employees. Russians escorting delegations of American musicians around the country were harassed, for example, or some in Moscow returned home from work to find agents sitting in their living rooms, demanding that they inform on their employers, they said.

Mr. Pifer said American diplomats who lived through the 1986 clampdown learned all kinds of things about Soviet life that they would not have otherwise.

One of his colleagues, who had to navigate customs, wrote a slightly tongue-in-cheek diplomatic cable titled “The 29 Steps Needed to Clear a Container of Furniture,” detailing every stamp issued on every piece of paper. The cable was a huge hit back in Washington, he said.

In previous spats with the United States or the West in general, Mr. Putin often chose measures that hurt Russians the most, not least because Russia’s limited economic reach globally means it does not have many options.

Angered over sanctions imposed by Congress under the Magnitsky Act in 2012, he banned Americans from adopting Russian children. When the West imposed economic and military sanctions after the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, he barred a broad array of food imports, forcing up prices and limiting the options for Russian consumers.

This time, hundreds of Russians will lose their jobs and Russian travelers hoping to visit the United States are likely to wait months for visas. Some 50 Russians were employed in the consular section that processes visas, according to the inspector general’s report.

“I don’t think Mr. Putin is terribly worried about this,” Mr. Collins said, noting the presidential election looming in March. “As he is running for election, it is comfortable for him to show that he can stand up to the Americans and to protect Russian interests and that is what he is doing.”

Outside the embassy on Monday, many of those emerging from the visa section suggested the Russian measures could only make a bad situation worse. Anecdotal evidence suggested that on both sides, what used to take weeks had already slowed to months.

Shavkat Butaev, 50, who works for a company that helps Russians get visas, said rejections were way up, too. “It was never like this before. Fifty, 60 people get rejected every day,” he said.

Oleg Smirnov, an 18-year-old student studying in the United States to become a psychiatrist, said that he had hoped President Trump would improve relations and that he was worried about possible fallout on immigration policy.

“These mutual sanctions look like a game played with water guns,” he said

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/31/world/europe/russia-sanctions-embassy.html

Story 2: Trump Announces New Immigration Policy — Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act — Videos

Trump announces new immigration policy

Published on Aug 2, 2017

President Trump announced the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act on Aug. 2, which aims to cut immigration by half from the current level of more than 1 million green cards granted per year.

 

Pres Trump and Sens Cotton and Perdue Introduce “The Raise Act”. Excellent!

August 2, 2017: Sen. Cotton and Sen. Perdue Answer Questions about the RAISE Act at the White House

 

Jim Acosta vs Stephen Miller – Immigration – White House Press Briefing 8/2/17

Senator Tom Cotton, Immigration Reform, and the RAISE Act

Senators David Perdue and Tom Cotton RAISE Act Press Conference

Immigration by the Numbers — Off the Charts

Sen.Barbara Jordan Legal Immigration Recommendations

2015 Barbara Jordan TV ad

How Many Illegal Aliens Are in the US? – Walsh – 1

How Many Illegal Aliens Are in the US? – Walsh – 2

Milton Friedman – Illegal Immigration – PT 1

Milton Friedman – Illegal Immigration – PT 2

Why Free Markets Work: Milton Friedman on Political Economy (1996)

Obama’s Amnesty & How Illegal Immigration Affects Us

The Impact of Immigration on Jobs and Income

 

Trump, GOP senators unveil measure to cut legal immigration

Trump, GOP senators unveil measure to cut legal immigration

President Trump on Wednesday teamed up with two conservative Republican senators to roll out new legislation aimed at dramatically curbing legal immigration to the United States, a key Trump campaign promise.

Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) have been working with White House officials to revise and expand a bill released earlier this year that would halve the number of people who receive legal permanent residence over a decade.

The senators joined Trump at a White House ceremony to announce the measure.

The president told reporters in the Roosevelt Room that the measure “would represent the most significant reform to our immigration system in a half a century.”
They say the legislation would move the United States to a “merit-based” immigration system and away from the current model, which is largely based on family ties.
The measure reflects Trump’s rhetoric during the 2016 campaign, when he argued that the spike in legal immigration over the past several decades has taken job opportunities away from American citizens and threatened national security.
“As a candidate, I campaigned on creating a merit-based immigration system that protects U.S. workers and taxpayers and that’s why we are here today,” he said, adding the measure would “reduce poverty, increase wages and save taxpayers billions and billions of dollars.”
Trump met with Cotton and Perdue in March to discuss the legislation, known as the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act.
The bill would mark a dramatic change in U.S. immigration laws, and could open up a nasty internal fight among Republicans.

The legislation would eliminate immigration preferences currently given to extended family members and adult children of U.S. citizens seeking green cards, and it would cap the number of accepted refugees at 50,000 — half of the Obama administration’s target for 2017.

It would also end the State Department’s Diversity visa lottery, which the senators say is “plagued with fraud.” The program had been allotted 50,000 visas for the 2018 fiscal year.

About 1 million immigrants receive green cards per year.

Conservative outside groups immediately praised the legislation and called for the Senate to vote on the bill.

“The RAISE Act helps realize President Trump’s vision of making America great again by making immigration great again as well. It provides a pathway for a modern, smarter immigration system while protecting those Americans struggling to make ends meet,” said Dan Stein, president of Federation for American Immigration Reform.

Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, added that the Cotton-Perdue bill will “do more than any other action to fulfill” Trump’s campaign pledges on immigration.

The legislation faces an uphill battle in the Senate, however, where it’s expected to get pushback from Democrats as well as GOP senators who oppose strict limits on legal immigration and want a broader reform effort that would address the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

If Cotton and Perdue can get GOP leadership to bring the legislation up for a vote, supporters will need to cobble together 60 senators, including at least eight Democrats or independents, to agree to start debate on the legislation.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and a handful of Republicans — including GOP Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Dean Heller (Nev.) — have been working on bills this year to allow undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children to, at least temporarily, remain in the country legally.

Hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants have been granted temporary reprieves from deportation under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. But it does not confer legal status on immigrants.

Cotton and Perdue would need to win over their votes, as well as Sen. John McCain. The Arizona Republican, who is currently undergoing cancer treatment, was critical of their earlier bill.

The White House roll out could give the legislation a boost of momentum, but the earlier version of the Cotton-Perdue bill garnered zero cosponsors.

Critics of the measure say it would devastate families’ effort to reunite with their overseas relatives while providing few economic benefits.

“If this is an acknowledgement that our immigration system is broken, the Trump administration and these senators are right, but this is the wrong way to fix it,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum. “Cutting legal immigration for the sake of cutting immigration would cause irreparable harm to the American worker and their family.”

“Congress should focus on stopping illegal immigration – not on restricting the legal immigration that grows our economy,” said John Feinblatt, president of the former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg-backed group New American Economy.

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/344924-trump-gop-senators-unveil-measure-to-cut-legal-immigration

Sen. Cotton Officially Introduces RAISE Act

PUBLISHED:

Thu, FEB 16th 2017 @ 9:40am EST

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) has officially introduced the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act, S. 354, in the Senate. The bill would reduce legal immigration by up to 50% by ending future chain migration and the diversity visa lottery.

Roy Beck, President and Founder of NumbersUSA responded saying, “the RAISE Act has a number — S. 354 — and one that we will do all possible to ensure that lives on through history as one of the great achievements of this period of our country.”

The RAISE Act would:

  • End the Visa Lottery
  • Limit annual refugee admissions to 50,000
  • End chain migration
  • Reduce the worldwide level of family-sponsored immigrants from 480,000 to 88,000 by prioritizing nuclear family
  • Add a nonimmigrant visa for parents of adult U.S. citizens (W-Visa)
    • 5-year renewable visa
    • No work authorization or ability to receive public benefits

The RAISE Act would reduce legal immigration to the United States by 50% in an effort to diminish its impact on vulnerable American workers. First, it eliminates the visa lottery and limits refugee admissions to 50,000 per year, removing the ability of the President to unilaterally adjust upward refugee admissions. Further, it eliminates chain migration by limiting family-sponsored immigration to the spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.

While U.S. citizens maintain the ability to sponsor nuclear family members without numerical limitation, the worldwide level of family-sponsored immigration is reduced from 480,000 to 88,000 to account for the elimination of the extended-family categories. Finally, a new nonimmigrant visa category is created for parents of adult U.S. citizens. Under this new category, sponsored alien parents would receive a renewable 5-year visa, but must be financially independent or supported financially by the adult son or daughter, as the visa does not authorize the alien to work or receive any form of public benefit.

https://www.numbersusa.com/news/sen-cotton-officially-introduces-raise-act

 

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 922, July 3, 2017, Story 1: The Meaning of Independence Day — Videos — Part 2 — Story 2: Majority of American People Want and Deserve A Big, Bold, Bipartisan Tax Reform Cut — The Time Is Now For The Fair Tax Less Version of The FairTax — Trump Should Embrace Real Tax Reform By Becoming Champion of Fair Tax Less If He Wants A Booming Economy Growing At 5% Plus — No Guts — No Glory — Just Do It By Labor Day September 4, 2017 — Make America Great Again — What Good is Dreaming It If You Don’t Actually Do It! — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 922,  July 3, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 921,  June 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 920,  June 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 919,  June 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 918,  June 26, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 917,  June 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 916,  June 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 915,  June 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 914,  June 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 913,  June 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 912,  June 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 911,  June 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 910,  June 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 909,  June 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 908,  June 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 907,  June 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 906,  June 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 905,  June 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 904,  June 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 903,  June 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 902,  May 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 901,  May 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 900,  May 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 899,  May 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 898,  May 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 897,  May 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 896,  May 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 895,  May 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 894,  May 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 893,  May 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 892,  May 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 891,  May 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 890,  May 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 889,  May 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 888,  May 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 887,  May 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 886,  May 4, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 885,  May 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 884,  May 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 883 April 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 882: April 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 881: April 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 880: April 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 879: April 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 878: April 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 877: April 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 876: April 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 875: April 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 874: April 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 873: April 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 872: April 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 871: April 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 870: April 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 869: April 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 868: April 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 867: April 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 866: April 3, 2017

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Story 1: The Meaning of Independence Day — Videos

The Meaning of Independence Day

Published on Jun 26, 2008

Dr. Michael Berliner, co-chairman of the Board of Directors of the Ayn Rand Institute, former professor of philosophy and executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, reminds us of the true meaning of Independence Day.

John Adams – Declaretion of Indipendence (HD – With subtitles)

President Underwood’s Speech – House of Cards Season 3

Frank Underwood Explains Why We Watch

Kevin Spacey Explains Who Frank Underwood Is Talking To

Q8 – Trump – cut entitlements, Social Security, deficit, deliver on promises? bringing back jobs

Milton Friedman – The Free Lunch Myth

2017 – The End of Social Security?

Milton Friedman – FDR and Social Security

Milton Friedman – The Social Security Myth

Milton Friedman – The Great Depression Myth

Milton Friedman: The Rise of Socialism is Absurd

Milton Friedman – Socialism is Force

TAKE IT TO THE LIMITS: Milton Friedman on Libertarianism

Milton Friedman: The Two Major Enemies of a Free Society

Milton Friedman – The Draft – From Compulsory to Voluntary

Milton Friedman – Should Higher Education Be Subsidized?

Thomas Sowell — Dismantling America

The Difference Between Liberal and Conservative

The Passing of The Declaration of Independence – John Adams – HBO

Understanding the Declaration of Independence – 9 Key Concepts Everyone Should Know

History of the 4th of July: Crash Course US History Special

Tea, Taxes, and The American Revolution: Crash Course World History #28

4th of July Zombies – Americans Don’t Know Why We Celebrate Fourth of July!

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine,Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton,George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson,George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr.,Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Steve Bannon is right: Donald Trump should raise taxes on the rich

White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has a big idea that, according to Axios, he’s been pushing aggressively within the Trump administration: raising the top income tax rate. He’s reportedly telling his colleagues that the top bracket should “have a 4 in front of it.” (The current top bracket is 39.6 percent, or 43.4 after you include Medicare taxes.)

This would be a big shift for the administration. Its latest tax plan would cut the top rate on non-investment income to 35 percent, or 37.9 percent including Medicare taxes. Earlier plans featured top rates of 33 percent and 25 percent, and would lower the rate for “pass-through” income that owners of certain businesses get from 39.6 percent to a mere 15 percent, inducing a huge amount of tax evasion and cutting average rates for the rich still further.

And while Bannon has always affected a rivalry with wealthy elites, which this latest proposal fits into well, it’s doubtful that the more traditional supply-side conservatives on Trump’s economic team, namely Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and National Economic Council Chair Gary Cohn, will get on board.

But they should. Trump and his team have a tremendous number of goals for tax reform. They want a dramatically lower corporate tax rate (Axios reports that Mnuchin and Cohn “aren’t bluffing when they say they want to slash the corporate tax rate to 15% from the current 35%”) and to let companies deduct all their investments immediately, instead of over time. They want a much bigger standard deduction on the individual side, and some kind of subsidy for child care.

Those are expensive changes, which require substantial pay-fors. One of the biggest that Republicans have proposed is the hugely controversial border adjustment measure, which Walmart, the Koch brothers, and other influential business lobbies are loudly opposing. Another is ending the deductibility of interest for debt, a very worthwhile proposal that is sure to enrage banks that take out massive amounts of debt; Goldman Sachs veteran Mnuchin has said he opposes this shift. On the individual side, eliminating the state and local tax deduction, as the Trump team has proposed, would raise money and reduce a big giveaway to rich people in blue states, but then again, the category “rich people in blue states” includes a lot of GOP donors as well as Trump himself.

And even if all of those controversial changes made it through, they might not be enough to pay for all the cuts that Republicans want.

Giving up on individual income tax rate cuts, and embracing higher rates for top earners, would free up a lot more money for corporate tax cuts. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that raising the brackets for people making more than $400,000 or so by 1 point each would raise about $93 billion over 10 years. For a new top rate of, say, 47 percent, that could mean as much as $650 billion over 10 years, and even more if you’re willing to hit 50 percent or raise taxes on people making under $400,000. Another option would be to do what Hillary Clinton proposed in the campaign and add a 5 percent surcharge to income above a certain threshold, without any deductions allowed; that would further reduce opportunities for tax evasion.

An even more ambitious plan, proposed by economists Alan Viard and Eric Toder and embraced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), would overhaul the way the US taxes investment income. Today profits are taxed through the corporate tax code, and then again when they’re distributed to investors through dividends, or when those investors sell shares for a capital gain. Viard and Toder propose lowering the corporate rate to 15 percent and then taxing investments every year at normal income tax rates, whether or not they’re sold. That would end preferential treatment for investment income in the individual code, and let the individual tax raise quite a bit more money. It would enable a 45 or 47 percent top bracket to raise even more revenue to offset the cost of full expensing and a bigger standard deduction.

Ultimately, the Trump administration has to make a decision about what its goal in tax reform is. If the goal is to cut corporate taxes and encourage investment by companies, then Bannon is right: Top income rates should go up to pay for that. If the goal is to just funnel money to rich people, then they shouldn’t. But the former is a more defensible goal, and a top income rate of 45 or 47 percent would help get us there.

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/7/3/15914750/steve-bannon-trump-tax-rich

 

Part 2 –Story 2: Majority of American People Want and Deserve A Big, Bold, Bipartisan Tax Reform Cut — The Time Is Now For The Fair Tax Less Version of The FairTax — Trump Should Embrace Real Tax Reform By Becoming Champion of Fair Tax Less If He Wants A Booming Economy Growing At 5% Plus — No Guts — No Glory — Just Do It By Labor Day September 4, 2017 — Make America Great Again — What Good is Dreaming It If You Don’t Actually Do It! — Videos

Image result for cartoons trump tax plan

Image result for fairtax

Image result for cartoons trump tax plan

Image result for fairtaxImage result for fair tax nation
Image result for border adjustment tax a bad idea

Corporations paying fewer taxes

Image result for payroll taxes in 2016 social security and medicare disability

Image result for payroll taxes in 2016 social security and medicare disability

Image result for payroll taxes in 2016

Wealthy pay more in taxes than poor

Image result for president trump for fair tax

Trump vs. OECD on tax reform

Watters visits Trump’s alma mater to talk tax reform

Rep. Meadows: Tax reform, health care and infrastructure get done by September

Speaker Ryan Guarantees That Congress Will Get Tax Reform Done In 2017

Speaker Paul Ryan Full Speech on Tax Reform 6-20-17

Ron Paul on Paul Ryan’s tax reform plan

How Trump’s tax reform plan will impact the economy

Donald Trump: Simplify the Tax Code

Donald Trump: I pay as little as possible in taxes

Grover Norquist on Speaker Ryan’s tax reform timeline

Grover Norquist: Expect dramatic tax cuts from Trump

The Pledge: Grover Norquist’s hold on the GOP

FairTax: Fire Up Our Economic Engine (Official HD)

Pence on the Fair Tax

Freedom from the IRS! – FairTax Explained in Details

Millionaire confidence plunges on Trump’s tax reform delays

What’s Up With Trump’s Tax Reform? Myths vs. Facts

The FairTax: It’s Time

Dan Mitchell explains the fair tax

Six Reasons Why the Capital Gains Tax Should Be Abolished

Is America’s Tax System Fair?

Sen. Moran Discusses FairTax Legislation on U.S. Senate Floor

Milton Friedman – Why Tax Reform Is Impossible

Milton Friedman – Is tax reform possible?

What’s Killing the American Dream?

Robert Wolf: Border adjustment not going to happen

Is Donald Trump serious about tax reform?

Sean Spicer: Trump wants to get tax reform right

Will tax reform really happen by August?

Dan Mitchell Discussing GOP Tax Plan and Corporate Rate Reduction

What Tax Reform Could Look Like Under Donald Trump | Squawk Box | CNBC

#Eakinomics – 4 Key Questions on Dynamic Scoring

What is Dynamic Scoring?

Trump Pushes ‘Major Border Tax’ to Keep Jobs in U.S.

Ryan Unexpectedly Joins Forces With Bannon on Border Tax

Kudlow: Freedom Caucus & Trump’s base is opposed to Border Adjustment Tax

Sen. Perdue: Border Adjustment Tax would “shutdown economic growth”

Sen. Tom Cotton: “I have serious concerns” w/ Border Adjustment Tax

Americans Need a Progressive Consumption Tax

Sen. Strange: “I would not” vote for a Border Adjustment Tax

CNBC: Steve Forbes on Border Adjustment Tax – “Don’t Do It” 2.8.17

Meg Whitman: Border Adjustment Tax Will Not Create Jobs | CNBC

Art Laffer: Border tax is a major mistake

Border Tax Fight Is Economists Vs. Everybody Else | Squawk Box | CNBC

Dan Mitchell Discussing GOP Tax Plan and Corporate Rate Reduction

What is a Border Adjustment?

Border Tax: What You Need to Know

Will a border adjustment tax help American businesses?

Will a border adjustment tax kill free trade?

Border adjustment tax political suicide?

Fox Pol:l 73% Want Tax Reform This Year – Cavuto

Could the border tax debate stall tax reform?

Is A Border Adjustment Tax A Good Idea?

Border Adjustment Tax: Trump’s MAGA Ace

President Donald Trump Begins First Week By Meeting With Top Business Leaders | NBC News

Dan Mitchell Fretting about GOP Border-Adjustable Tax Plan

Paul Ryan on why he’s confident about tax reform

1/26/17 Border Adjustment Taxes, Tax Reform & Trade: Panel 1

1/26/17 Border Adjustment Taxes, Tax Reform and Trade: Panel 2 Part 2

Border Tax Adjustment and Corporate Tax Reforms: Panel 1

Border Tax Adjustment and Corporate Tax Reforms: Panel 2

Breaking Down The Republican Plan For A Border Tax | CNBC

McConnell Seeks Revenue-Neutral Tax Reform This Congress

Mnuchin: Three percent growth achievable with tax reform

Can Congress get tax reform done?

Rep. Reed: Tax reform will get done this year

Sen. Shelby Says Fundamental Tax Reform Good for Economy

Harvard Professor: Trump’s Border Tax ‘Misunderstood’

Making Sense Of The 20 Percent Tax Proposal | Morning Joe | MSNBC

Proposed Tax Package A Dramatic Cut Even With A Border Tax?

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin On Tax Reform, Growth, Border Tax, China (Full) | Squawk Box | CNBC

Wilbur Ross On Border Tax: Something Will Be Found To Fill Trillion-Dollar Hole | Squawk Box | CNBC

Honda “Impossible Dream” Commercial

Honda Advert: Impossible Dream II 2010

Lyrics
To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star
This is my quest, to follow that star,
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far
To fight for the right without question or cause
To be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause
And I know if I’ll only be true to this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm when I’m laid to my rest
And the world will be better for this
That one man scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To fight the unbeatable foe, to reach the unreachable star
Songwriters: Joe Darion / Mitchell Leigh
The Impossible Dream lyrics © Helena Music Company

 

Taxes May Be Certain, but Tax Reform Is Not

Taxes May Be Certain, but Tax Reform Is Not
by V. Lance Tarrance

Donald Trump is a man who throws down gauntlets, and he threw down several big ones during his campaign for president — confronting the status quos on immigration, onhealthcare and on taxes, to name a few. He is now pursuing bold policy changes on each. But it could be Trump’s action on taxes that matters most to whether the stock market continues to ride high, GDP growth returns to a healthy 3% and, therefore, whether his presidency is judged well in posterity.

News about taxes has been relatively slow thus far in Trump’s administration. Judicial blowback against his immigration policies and Congressional blowback on healthcare reform have received far more attention than the general tax-plan principles he announced in April. Still, achieving detailed tax reform may prove even more difficult than his other policy struggles once the wheels start turning.

Before making tax reform a year-end goal, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin initially said he hoped to complete tax reform by August. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reacted by saying that tax reform is a “very complicated subject” and harder to do now than the last time Congress achieved it in 1986. And passing the 1986 tax reform legislation was no easy task — it required winning the support of a Democratic House and a Republican president, and took nearly two years of intense negotiations. Alluding more cynically to the significant political obstacles that often impede changing the tax code, former House Speaker John Boehner said the passing of a tax code overhaul is “just a bunch of happy talk.”

Now, however, current Speaker Paul Ryan is also pushing for tax reform by the end of 2017, making these obstacles appear a little less daunting than if the administration were going it alone.

Aside from whether tax experts and Washington politicians are willing to upend the tax code, it is important to note where the American people stand on the need for action on taxes. It must be remembered that taxpayers may dislike the current tax system but not be convinced that Congress and the Trump administration will make it any better — change could be worse. Without a strong push from the American people, Trump’s tax reform might not materialize.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Gallup tested several of candidate Trump’s tax proposals.

  • He advocated eliminating most federal income tax deductions and loopholes for the very rich, and Gallup found 63% of American adults favoring this with just 17% opposed.
  • His proposal to simplify the federal tax code — reducing the current seven tax brackets to four — was also popular, with 47% agreeing and only 12% disagreeing.
  • Trump’s plan to eliminate the estate tax paid when someone dies garnered considerably more agreement than disagreement from Americans, 54% to 19%. Notably, this is an issue that Congress and the wider public have considered in the recent past, and public sentiment on the issue today is in line with past Gallup polls on this issue, such as when it asked about keeping the estate tax from increasing in 2010.

More recently, in March 2017, Americans viewed President Trump’s general plan to “significantly cut federal income taxes for the middle class” positively: 61% agreed with the plan (with no mention of Trump in the question), 26% disagreed and 13% had no opinion. Trump’s proposal to lower corporate tax rates, however, elicited a split decision, with 38% reacting positively, 43% negatively and the potentially decisive 19% “no opinion” group apparently needing more information.

These findings suggest Americans could respond favorably to many of the specific elements of Trump’s ultimate tax plan, provided they make it into whatever legislation Congress winds up debating. For example, in spite of closing tax loopholes that favor the rich, the plan is expected to end up cutting taxes on the wealthy, not raising them. But as long as the plan also cuts taxes on the middle class, that fact alone is unlikely to sink it with Americans. Bush’s across-the-board tax cuts in 2001, which more Americans at the time said were a “good thing” than a “bad thing,” are a perfect illustration of this.

Whether Americans feel a sense of urgency about enacting tax reform is another matter.

In April 2017, Gallup found that Americans’ concern about their own federal tax burden had actually cooled somewhat, as barely half (51%) felt their taxes were “too high,” down from 57% in 2016. By contrast, in June 1985, the year before the revolutionary Tax Reform Act of 1986 went into effect, 63% of Americans said their taxes were too high.

While public demand for lowering taxes may have waned, it is not gone. Public concern about taxes fell the most over the past year among Republicans — a familiar political pattern given the partisan shift in presidential power. With a Republican in the White House, the Republican rank and file are less likely to say anything negative about the government, including about taxes. Still, 62% of Republicans call their taxes too high, as do 52% of independents and 39% of Democrats.

The implication? While not as intense as Congressional leaders may have expected, public demand for tax reform is still there, especially among the Republicans who may matter most to GOP lawmakers.

Common Ground Exists on Tax Reform

As the U.S. Congress is about to start its summer recess, tax reform remains ill defined by the administration, and negotiations over sub-issues like the border adjustment tax have stalled any pivot to immediate tax legislation. More importantly, there seems to be no bipartisan support this time, while there was under Reagan in 1986. Granted, this may seem like less of an issue now, as Republicans today control both the legislative and executive branches of the federal government. But real tax reform always makes for winners and losers, and it is problematic for only one party to pass new reforms. One need only look at the electoral consequences that Democrats have repeatedly suffered since 2010, the year they passed major healthcare reform legislation on party-line votes, to understand the danger Republicans could face if they pursue tax reform alone.

To make tax reform possible from a bipartisan standpoint, Congress needs to make sure the bill can be branded a “middle-class winner.” As noted previously, Americans favor tax cuts for the middle class, and as the following table shows, Republicans and Democrats are also more likely to believe middle-income people are currently paying too much in taxes than to say they are paying their fair share or paying too little.

Both Party Groups Tend to Believe Middle-Income Americans Pay Too Much in Federal Taxes
Republican/Lean Republican Democrat/Lean Democratic
% %
Too much 51 49
Fair share 40 43
Too little 5 7
No opinion 4 1
GALLUP, APRIL 5-9, 2017

To ensure tax reform enjoys at least some bipartisan support, Democrats will need a win during negotiations, meaning taxes would likely need to be raised on the nation’s wealthier class of citizens. Republicans are split on the issue of the fairness of taxes paid by upper-income people, but Democrats are in solid agreement that they pay too little.

Parties Diverge on Perceptions of What Upper-Income Americans Pay in Federal Taxes
Republican/Lean Republican Democrat/Lean Democratic
% %
Too much 18 4
Fair share 38 13
Too little 40 82
No opinion 4 1
GALLUP, APRIL 5-9, 2017

Bottom Line

With the Trump administration wanting tax reform before the end of 2017, Ryan is now promising to put it on the front burner. However, even Republican leaders’ enthusiasm for tax reform may not be enough to overcome the triad of legislative challenges that exist: the slimness of the Republican majorities in the U.S. House and Senate, the lack of bipartisanship in Washington and the power of special interest groups in Washington, D.C., to protect their vested interests. This is why comprehensive tax reform is historically so rare.

One thing working in Republicans’ favor is that a majority of Americans support tax relief for the middle class, and members of both major parties tend to believe middle-class taxes are too high. If the bill can be positioned strongly as middle-class tax relief, its chances for success will be higher.

http://www.gallup.com/opinion/polling-matters/213239/taxes-may-certain-tax-reform-not.aspx

The Fair Tax — A Tax System that Americans Rightfully Deserve

  • 04/22/2016
  • FAIRtax 
  • by: Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX-4)
The Fair Tax — A Tax System that Americans Rightfully Deserve

At more than 73,000 pages, it’s no wonder our country’s tax code spells headache for millions of hardworking Americans across the country. This bloated document, riddled with complicated loopholes, is anything but navigable for working-class people who can’t afford to hire accountants, lawyers or tax professionals. Yet like clockwork every spring, Americans throw away countless time and treasure in an attempt to properly comply with the process of giving their hard-earned money to the federal government.

The rigors of compliance aside, our tax code penalizes economic growth and American competitiveness. By imposing some of the highest corporate tax rates in the industrialized world, American business are incentivized to entertain corporate inversions, and leave trillions of dollars of cash abroad where it can’t be invested in American growth. While the well-to-do and well-connected may be able to navigate this byzantine world, taxpayers across the country and throughout the 18 counties in Texas I represent are frustrated, and rightfully so. The American people deserve better.

Frustration with the IRS reached new levels in 2013 when revelations surfaced that the agency was targeting conservative groups. When Congress launched investigations, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen repeatedly obstructed justice by refusing to testify and failing to produce up to 24,000 emails relevant to the investigations. This is simply unacceptable.

To make matters worse, the IRS experienced a cyber-attack in 2015 that left more than 700,000 taxpayer accounts vulnerable. And according to a GAO report released just last month, the IRS has improved only marginally since that time in regard to its data security. Taxpayers should not be subject to the political whims of unelected bureaucrats who refuse to follow the law and falsify facts before Congress, all the while placing their personal financial data at risk.

As a staunch fiscal conservative, I’ve been vocal and outspoken about the need for a fairer, flatter tax code – one that doesn’t stifle growth or punish economic success. After all, Ronald Reagan famously said that the role of government should be to fostereconomic growth, not smother it. That’s why I’ve joined more than 70 of my colleagues in cosponsoring legislation that would eliminate all individual and corporate income taxes – the FairTax Act of 2015 (H.R. 25).

The FairTax Act, introduced by Rep. Rob Woodall (GA-7), eliminates all personal, corporate, gift and estate taxes and replaces them with a simple, point-of-sale consumption tax. Beyond this, it completely abolishes the IRS and all of the bureaucratic red tape and corporate cronyism that comes with it – and remains revenue neutral in the process.

The FairTax Act combats the corruption and inefficiency of the IRS, and instead promotes American growth and investment. I’m proud to be a cosponsor of this key piece of legislation, because it recognizes that more freedom and less government is the formula for economic success. It’s this model that’s allowed Texas to lead the nation in job growth since 2008, and it’s about time for Washington to get an overdue dose of these commonsense, Texas economic values. The FairTax Act will do just that, and I urge my colleagues to support it.

Congressman John Ratcliffe represents Texas’ 4th district, serving the outer eastern suburbs of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplexsince 2015.  He is a member of the Judiciary Committee as well as the House Homeland Security Committee, serving as Chairman of its Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies Subcommittee.  Prior to Congress, he served as Mayor of Heath, Texas.  In addition, during the George W. Bush Administration, he was appointed to multiple posts, including U.S. Attorney and Chief of Anti-Terrorism and National Security for the Eastern District of Texas.

Your Money, Your Decision

The current federal income tax system is clearly broken — unfair, overly complex, and almost impossible for most Americans to understand. But there is a reasonable, nonpartisan alternative before Congress that is both fair and easy to understand. A system that allows you to keep your whole paycheck and only pay taxes on what you spend.

The FairTax is a national sales tax that treats every person equally and allows American businesses to thrive, while generating the same tax revenue as the current four-million-word-plus tax code. Under the FairTax, every person living in the United States pays a sales tax on purchases of new goods and services, excluding necessities due to the prebate. The FairTax rate after necessities is 23% compared to combining the 15% income tax bracket with the 7.65% of employee payroll taxes under the current system — both of which will be eliminated!

Important to note: the FairTax is the only tax plan currently being proposed that includes the removal of the payroll tax.

Keep Your Paycheck

For the first time in recent history, American workers will get to keep every dime they earn; including what would have been paid in federal income taxes and payroll taxes. You will get an instant raise in your pay!

Social Security & Medicare Funding

Benefits will not change. The FairTax actually puts these programs on a more solid funding foundation. Instead of being funded by taxes on workers’ wages, which is a small pool, they’ll be funded by taxes on overall consumption by all residents. Learn More .

Get a Tax Refund in Advance on Purchases of Basic Necessities

The FairTax provides a progressive program called a prebate. This gives every legal resident household an “advance refund” at the beginning of each month so that purchases made up to the poverty level are tax-free. The prebate prevents an unfair burden on low-income families. Learn more .

Pay Tax on Only What You Spend

Be in control of your financial destiny. You alone can control your tax burden. If you’re thrifty, you’ll pay lower taxes than somebody who is not. Most importantly, you’ll be taxed fairly. Learn moreabout what is taxed.

Everyone Pays Their Fair Share

Tax evasion and the underground economy cost each taxpayer an additional $2,500 every year! But by taxing new products and services consumed, the FairTax puts everyone in the country at the same level at the cash register. Further, only legal residents are eligible for the prebate. Learn more .

The IRS is No Longer Needed

No more complicated tax forms, individual audits, or intrusive federal bureaucracy. Retailers will collect the FairTax just as they do now with state sales taxes. All money will be collected and remitted to the U.S. Treasury, and both the retailers and states will be paid a fee for their collection service. Learn More

Summer looms with GOP stuck on health care, budget, taxes

The Capitol in Washington is quiet after lawmakers departed the for the Independence Day recess, Friday, June 30, 2017. The Republican leadership in the Senate decided this week to delay a vote on their…

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans are stuck on health care, can’t pass a budget, and hopes for a big, bipartisan infrastructure package are fizzling. Overhauling the tax code looks more and more like a distant dream.

The GOP-led Congress has yet to salt away a single major legislative accomplishment for President Donald Trump — and a summer of drift may lead to a logistical nightmare this fall.

Instead, Trump’s allies appear both divided and indecisive, unable to deliver on his agenda while letting other must-do congressional business — chiefly their core responsibilities of passing a budget and spending bills, and keeping the government solvent — slide onto an already daunting fall agenda that is looking more and more like it’ll be a train wreck.

Friday brought more bad news for Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and other House leaders as 20 GOP moderates signaled a revolt on the budget, penning a letter to Ryan announcing their opposition to an emerging plan to force cuts to government agencies and benefit programs such as food stamps. The letter, authored by Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., warned that without an agreement with Democrats on increasing agency spending, moderates will be “reticent to support any budget.”

“It’s looking like they’re very disorganized. They got obviously a lot of conflict over spending preferences and it’s not just a two-way conflict,” said top House Budget Committee Democrat John Yarmuth of Kentucky. “It’s just a tough Rubik’s Cube they’re trying to solve.”

So it’s not just the Senate effort to repeal and replace Democrat Barack Obama’s health care law that’s foundering. The annual congressional budget measure — a prerequisite to this fall’s hoped-for tax effort — is languishing as well, as are the 12 annual spending bills that typically consume weeks of House floor time each summer.

But GOP leaders say all is going well. Ryan told a Wisconsin radio host on Thursday that “it’s the most productive Congress since the mid-’80s” and issued a news release Friday titled “Despite What You May Hear, We Are Getting Things Done.” The release cites a bipartisan Department of Veterans Affairs accountability measure and 14 bills repealing Obama-era regulations as Congress’ top achievements.

“It would be hard to fault the average American for thinking all that’s going on in Washington these days is high-drama hearings and partisan sniping,” Ryan said. “But amid the countdown clocks and cable news chatter, something important is happening: Congress is getting things done to help improve people’s lives.”

In the first year of a presidency, the annual August congressional recess is a traditional point to take stock. By that point, Obama had signed an economic recovery bill and President George W. Bush had won his landmark tax cuts, while President Bill Clinton was celebrating a hard-fought budget package.

Trump has no comparable successes to trumpet — but his allies in Congress say they’re not worried.

“We laid out an agenda in November and December, and we’re needing to get there,” said House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas. “And we can effectively get there. The questions that confound us are those that we can answer ourselves. And we will.”

And as Republicans are stalled on health care, the budget and infrastructure, there are several other problems that need to be taken care of, including increasing the nation’s borrowing authority, preventing a government shutdown, and lifting budget “caps” that are hobbling efforts to beef up the military.

Unlike health care, the debt limit and a deal to fix the spending caps — a leftover from a failed 2011 budget deal — can only be resolved with Democratic help. However, they promise to consume political capital and valuable time and energy, and there’s no political pay-off, other than forestalling disaster.

First, Congress is off on vacation to return in July for a three-week session. Then comes the traditional monthlong August recess.

After Labor Day comes a four-week sprint to October and the deadline to avert a government shutdown with a temporary spending bill — and to forestall a disastrous default on U.S. obligations by lifting the debt limit, which is a politically toxic vote for many Republicans.

Sentiment is building among some lawmakers to shorten the recess to make progress on the unfinished work that is piling up. On Friday, 10 GOP senators, led by David Perdue of Georgia, sent Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a letter citing delays on health care, the budget, a stopgap spending bill and the debt limit as reasons to consider canceling some or all of the recess.

“If we successfully navigate those priorities, we can finally get to our once in a generation opportunity on tax reform,” the letter said. “Growing the economy, repairing our infrastructure, and rebuilding our military are all dependent on accomplishing the tasks before us.”

http://wtop.com/government/2017/06/summer-looms-with-gop-stuck-on-health-care-budget-taxes/

APRIL 13, 2016

High-income Americans pay most income taxes, but enough to be ‘fair’?

Corporations paying fewer taxes

Tax-deadline season isn’t many people’s favorite time of the year, but most Americans are OK with the amount of tax they pay. It’s what other people pay, or don’t pay, that bothers them.

Just over half (54%) of Americans surveyed in fall by Pew Research Center said they pay about the right amount in taxes considering what they get from the federal government, versus 40% who said they pay more than their fair share. But in a separate 2015 surveyby the Center, some six-in-ten Americans said they were bothered a lot by the feeling that “some wealthy people” and “some corporations” don’t pay their fair share.

It’s true that corporations are funding a smaller share of overall government operations than they used to. In fiscal 2015, the federal government collected $343.8 billion from corporate income taxes, or 10.6% of its total revenue. Back in the 1950s, corporate income tax generated between a quarter and a third of federal revenues (though payroll taxes have grown considerably over that period).

Nor have corporate tax receipts kept pace with the overall growth of the U.S. economy. Inflation-adjusted gross domestic product has risen 153% since 1980, while inflation-adjusted corporate tax receipts were 115% higher in fiscal 2015 than in fiscal 1980, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. There have been a lot of ups and downs over that period, as corporate tax receipts tend to rise during expansions and drop off in recessions. In fiscal 2007, for instance, corporate taxes hit $370.2 billion (in current dollars), only to plunge to $138.2 billion in 2009 as businesses felt the impact of the Great Recession.

Corporations also employ battalions of tax lawyers to find ways to reduce their tax bills, from running income through subsidiaries in low-tax foreign countries to moving overseas entirely, in what’s known as a corporate inversion (a practice the Treasury Department has moved to discourage).

But in Tax Land, the line between corporations and people can be fuzzy. While most major corporations (“C corporations” in tax lingo) pay according to the corporate tax laws, many other kinds of businesses – sole proprietorships, partnerships and closely held “S corporations” – fall under the individual income tax code, because their profits and losses are passed through to individuals. And by design, wealthier Americans pay most of the nation’s total individual income taxes.

Wealthy pay more in taxes than poorIn 2014, people with adjusted gross income, or AGI, above $250,000 paid just over half (51.6%) of all individual income taxes, though they accounted for only 2.7% of all returns filed, according to our analysis of preliminary IRS data. Their average tax rate (total taxes paid divided by cumulative AGI) was 25.7%. By contrast, people with incomes of less than $50,000 accounted for 62.3% of all individual returns filed, but they paid just 5.7% of total taxes. Their average tax rate was 4.3%.

The relative tax burdens borne by different income groups changes over time, due both to economic conditions and the constantly shifting provisions of tax law. For example, using more comprehensive IRS data covering tax years 2000 through 2011, we found that people who made between $100,000 and $200,000 paid 23.8% of the total tax liability in 2011, up from 18.8% in 2000. Filers in the $50,000-to-$75,000 group, on the other hand, paid 12% of the total liability in 2000 but only 9.1% in 2011. (The tax liability figures include a few taxes, such as self-employment tax and the “nanny tax,” that people typically pay along with their income taxes.)

All told, individual income taxes accounted for a little less than half (47.4%) of government revenue, a share that’s been roughly constant since World War II. The federal government collected $1.54 trillion from individual income taxes in fiscal 2015, making it the national government’s single-biggest revenue source. (Other sources of federal revenue include corporate income taxes, the payroll taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare, excise taxes such as those on gasoline and cigarettes, estate taxes, customs duties and payments from the Federal Reserve.) Until the 1940s, when the income tax was expanded to help fund the war effort, generally only the very wealthy paid it.

Since the 1970s, the segment of federal revenues that has grown the most is the payroll tax – those line items on your pay stub that go to pay for Social Security and Medicare. For most people, in fact, payroll taxes take a bigger bite out of their paycheck than federal income tax. Why? The 6.2% Social Security withholding tax only applies to wages up to $118,500. For example, a worker earning $40,000 will pay $2,480 (6.2%) in Social Security tax, but an executive earning $400,000 will pay $7,347 (6.2% of $118,500), for an effective rate of just 1.8%. By contrast, the 1.45% Medicare tax has no upper limit, and in fact high earners pay an extra 0.9%.

All but the top-earning 20% of American families pay more in payroll taxes than in federal income taxes, according to a Treasury Department analysis.

Still, that analysis confirms that, after all federal taxes are factored in, the U.S. tax system as a whole is progressive. The top 0.1% of families pay the equivalent of 39.2% and the bottom 20% have negative tax rates (that is, they get more money back from the government in the form of refundable tax credits than they pay in taxes).

Of course, people can and will differ on whether any of this constitutes a “fair” tax system. Depending on their politics and personal situations, some would argue for a more steeply progressive structure, others for a flatter one. Finding the right balance can be challenging to the point of impossibility: As Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Louis XIV’s finance minister, is said to have remarked: “The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing.”

Note: This is an update of an earlier post published March 24, 2015.

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/13/high-income-americans-pay-most-income-taxes-but-enough-to-be-fair/

Summary of the Latest Federal Income Tax Data, 2016 Update

February 1, 2017

Vice President Mike Pence stays loyal to Trump, but it could come at a cost

Noah Bierman Contact Reporter

The Republicans’ signature healthcare bill was in peril in Congress and President Trump was busy warring against media foes on Twitter.

Vice President Mike Pence, wearing a brown suit and his usual earnest expression, was far from the fray last week, here at a warehouse outside Cleveland amid metal rods and wooden crates for a “listening session” with small-business owners. Sitting at a drafting table, he ignored the camera lights as well as the trouble in Washington, dutifully hearing out complaints about healthcare, taking notes on a legal pad and promising the Ohioans that the Trump-Pence administration was close to replacingObamacare.

This is how Mike Pence copes with the drama that defines life as Donald Trump’s sidekick: acting like everything is normal, boringly normal. 

It requires a measure of willful disbelief, some salesmanship and a heap of praise for the president. But that coping strategy does not mask the fundamental challenge of Pence’s role since he became Trump’s running mate nearly a year ago: balancing his own reputation and political ambition against his loyalty to a man seemingly determined to scorch nearly every norm in Washington, and now enmeshed in a special counsel investigation in large part due to his own erratic behavior.

The vice president has made his choice, hitching his career to Trump’s unpredictable presidency, but lately he also has made a few notable moves toward protecting himself, hiring a personal attorney and establishing an independent political committee.

“It’s kind of perilous — skiing through moguls,” said Brian Howey, an Indiana political blogger who has chronicled Pence’s career from U.S. House member to Indiana governor to vice president. “How many times can you do that before you’re ensnarled in the web of deception?”

Friends say there is nothing to game out in Pence’s allegiance to Trump. Pence believes in the president, they say, and agrees with supporters who believe the White House is under unfairly harsh scrutiny. 

“What would happen if suddenly we found Trump is setting fire to the Humane Society?” said Greg Garrison, a conservative former radio host in Indiana who has long known Pence, choosing an absurd example to make the point that Trump’s recklessness has been exaggerated. “Does that mean Mike is going to go along? No, he’s not. But I think Mike is where he is because he understands this president and where we are right now.”

Yet just five months in, some observers say Pence’s chosen course as the captain of Trump’s cheering section has diminished his own gravitas and dashed the hopes of mainstream Republicans who thought Pence could serve as a check on the impulsive Trump.

“Recent vice presidents have been supportive of the president without surrendering a sense of personal dignity, without saying stuff that just doesn’t pass the straight-face test,” said Joel K. Goldstein, a St. Louis University law professor who has written about the modern vice presidency and its enhanced power.

For a parallel, Goldstein reached not to a vice president but to a well-known aide to President Lyndon B. Johnson, Jack Valenti, who was mocked for his over-the-top praise of his boss. Valenti, Goldstein said, is the only public figure in the modern era that came close to Pence’s level of presidential puffery.

What is more, Goldstein added, any notion that Pence’s power would be enhanced by his governing experience relative to the inexperienced Trump has been undermined by the sense that Pence lacks the standing to “go in with Trump and level with him on things.”

While Pence is often in the room with Trump and speaks with him nearly every day, he does not always command the president’s attention. That dynamic was evident during the first Cabinet meeting last month. Trump swiveled his head around the room and asked, “Where is our vice president?”

Pence sat right in front of him.

When the president finally spied his top deputy, Pence knew just what to say.

“The greatest privilege of my life is to serve as the — as vice president to the president who’s keeping his word to the American people and assembling a team that’s bringing real change, real prosperity, real strength back to our nation,” Pence said.

Taking their cue from Pence, the Cabinet secretaries then took turns extolling the president in ways that were widely derided as obsequious.

But for Pence, such flattery has come to define his persona. Variations on the line that serving Trump is “the greatest privilege of my life” are part of his stump speech, used among audiences as varied as Cuban Americans in Miami, evangelicals in Washington, troops in Honolulu, Japan and South Korea, and, last week, the factory workers in Ohio.

The younger Pence, with his square features, silver hair and wholesome rhetorical style, suggests a measured 1950s television dad, and as such stands in contrast to a president who developed his celebrity in the 21st century world of social media and reality television. His political discipline also contrasts with Trump’s extemporaneous politics.

As governor of Indiana, Pence was seen as a potential presidential candidate by many Republicans, at least until his popularity waned significantly. Certainly he was seen before the 2016 campaign as a more serious possibility than Trump. Pence is, in many ways, the type of establishment-blessed figure Trump ran against when he pledged to wrest power from career politicians.

But Pence came to see himself as Trump did, less as a contrast to the maverick mogul than as a complement.

“You don’t win six congressional elections and a gubernatorial election and a national ticket without having a sense of politics and self-preservation,” said Rep. Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican who served with Pence in the House leadership.

For Pence the key to melding Trump’s interests with his own, Cole said, is making clear that he’s only as valuable to the president as his reputation. “It doesn’t help him if he loses his credibility,” Cole said.

Pence has skirted that danger since his first month in office.

Though he led Trump’s presidential transition, Pence has said he did not know about meetings between Russian officials and Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security advisor during the campaign and initially in the White House, that are now central to the investigation into possible collusion to influence the 2016 election. So in January, on Flynn’s assurance, he falsely said on television that Flynn had not discussed with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak the sanctions that President Obama imposed in December as penalty for Russia’s campaign meddling.

Flynn’s lying to the vice president was the reason given for his forced resignation, yet Trump and several advisors had been aware of Flynn’s deception for days.

Pence also said he did not know Flynn was secretly lobbying for Turkey until March, though Flynn, according to the New York Times, informed the transition team in early January that he was under investigation for failing to report the work he did as a foreign agent during the campaign.

And after Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey, Pence insisted that the bureau’s Russia investigation had nothing to do with it, only to have Trump contradict him a day later in a nationally televised interview.

The incidents underscore Pence’s problem: His allies maintain he is a core inside player, yet at significant moments, they have insisted he was out of the loop. The friends dismiss such embarrassments, however, as the natural consequence of Trump being Trump, and Pence’s place as first in line whether the White House is on offense or defense.

“He understands he has a job and his job is to be a loyal soldier, and he’s a very effective communicator,” said Pete Seat, an official with the Indiana Republican Party. “So sometimes the job of being first one out of the gate falls on him.”

David McIntosh, the Indiana Republican whom Pence replaced in Congress, said “there were two truths” in the Comey firing. There was the one Pence told — that Justice Department leaders recommended Comey be fired — and the one that Trump later told, that he would have fired Comey regardless of that recommendation.

“One thing I think Mike would not do is make the first statement if he thought it was not true,” said McIntosh, disregarding Pence’s insistence that Comey’s firing had nothing to do with the Russia investigation when Trump later said it did.

Pence, who turned 58 last month, came to prominence in Indiana as a talk radio host in the 1990s, building a brand as a conservative Christian who chose to make his points without turning up the volume.

Elected to Congress on his third try, Pence initially was a conservative renegade. But he proved to be in the vanguard of what became the tea party movement. Sen. Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican whose office was next to Pence’s when the Indianan was in Congress, remembers the two of them bursting through the House doors together on late nights — like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid into a saloon — to halt spending measures, and offering slow claps for President George W. Bush’s spending plans during a State of the Union address.

Flake said Pence’s ability to stay relentlessly on message endeared him to other conservatives, propelling him into the House leadership ranks.

Next, as Indiana’s governor for four years, he built on his conservative credentials while showing a willingness to bend on a few issues, including allowing expansion of Medicaid as part of Obamacare. He suffered his biggest setback on a religious liberty bill that allowed store owners to refuse services for gay weddings; Pence retreated under pressure from groups concerned the law would hurt Indiana’s reputation and its ability to recruit workers and businesses from out of state.

Pence’s allies say he has maintained important credibility in Congress, both because he served there and because of his alliance with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan. He was influential as Trump made his Cabinet choices and enlisted Judge Neil M. Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, a selection that united Republicans more than any decision Trump has made in the White House. But his role as a conduit to Congress is being tested by Republicans’ divisions over the healthcare bill, which Pence has repeatedly promised would get out of Congress by the end of summer.

Pence, through his press office, declined an interview request, citing his desire to avoid discussing his role or influence. He has been careful to avoid taking credit, an important trait to a president who wants it for himself and is angered by those who flaunt their influence. If the vice president has had any disagreements with Trump, they have not been leaked, a rarity in the White House.

Pence associates say he is most comfortable in the policy realm, letting Trump pick his tasks and define his role. That has included trips to Asia and Europe and another planned for Latin America in August. By sticking to script and avoiding free-form interactions with the press, Pence has avoided getting dragged further into controversies over the Russia investigation and Trump’s tweets.

As Comey testified in Congress last month that the president lied and tried to halt the investigations of Flynn and Russia, Pence once again found a spot for himself away from the tumult.

Before an ornate room full of governors and state officials near the White House, Pence focused on the administration’s theme of the week: roads, bridges and airports. He spoke about the “builder in the White House,” even as Trump himself had overshadowed that message with tweets assailing the mayor of London, the media and his Justice Department.

“Folks,” Pence said, “it’s already been a banner week for infrastructure.”

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The Pronk Pops Show 912, June 15, 2017, Story 1: Part 2: Attorney General Sessions Questioned By Senators of Senate Intelligence Committee — Democratic Distractions and Delusions Concerning Collusion and Obstructions With No Evidence or Crime — Cover Story Conspiracy Theory Falling Apart – – Videos — Story 2: The Cover-up of The Real Crimes, Obstruction of Justice of Obama Administration. Hillary and Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch — Time For Three More Special Prosecutors — Videos

Posted on June 15, 2017. Filed under: American History, Barack H. Obama, Bill Clinton, Blogroll, Congress, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Countries, Culture, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Economics, Former President Barack Obama, Fourth Amendment, Freedom of Speech, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, History, Human, James Comey, Law, Life, Media, National Interest, Networking, News, Obama, People, President Barack Obama, Presidential Appointments, Progressives, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Robert S. Mueller III, Rule of Law, Scandals, Second Amendment, Security, Senate, Spying, Success, Surveillance/Spying, Taxation, Taxes, Trump Surveillance/Spying, United States Constitution, United States of America, Videos, Violence, War, Wealth | Tags: , , , , , |

 

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 912,  June 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 911,  June 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 910,  June 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 909,  June 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 908,  June 9, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 883 April 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 882: April 27, 2017

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Story 1: Part 2: Attorney General Sessions Questioned By Senators of Senate Intelligence Committee — Democratic Distractions and Delusions Concerning Trump/Russian Collusion and Trump Obstruction With No Evidence or Crime — Cover Story Conspiracy Theory Fairy Tale Falling Apart – – Videos —

Jeff Sessions Testifies To Senate Intelligence Committee- Full Hearing

WATCH Jeff Sessions Absolutely Destroys Democrats And Republicans Who Doubt The Trump Administration

Jeff Sessions’s heated testimony, in 3 minutes

Jeff Sessions Opening Statement Senate Intelligence Committee!

Sessions refutes allegations of additional Russian meetings in opening statement

Sen. Warner: ‘Not acceptable’ for Trump administration to come to Congress without answers

Jeff Sessions begins testimony on Comey firing, meeting with Russian ambassador

AG Jeff Sessions – Highlights – Senate Intelligence Committee

FULL. AG Jeff Sessions testifies on Russia at Senate. June 13, 2017. M. Flynn. Dir Comey

Sessions’ testimony frustrates Democrats

Jeff Sessions Testifies To Senate Intelligence Committee- Full Hearing

Feinstein grills Sessions on Comey firing

Leftist Kamala Harris Scolded for Not Allowing Jeff Sessions to Answer Questions

Sessions protects right to ‘executive privilege’

Tom Cotton Decimates Democrats for Providing No Evidence of Russia Collusion

‘Do You Like Spy Fiction James Bond Movies?’ Things Get Weird Between Sen. Cotton and Sessions

Sen Blunt and Sen King Question Jeff Sessions

Sen Collins and Sen Heinrich Question Jeff Sessions

Sen Lankford and Sen Manchin Question Jeff Sessions

Marco Rubio and Ron Weyden Question Jeff Sessions. Some Sparks!

Sen Cornyn Questions Jeff Sessions. Also Quite Good.

WATCH: Attorney General Jeff Sessions On Why FBI Director James Comey Was Fired

JEFF SESSIONS HEARING: President Trump calls Russia threat WITCHHUNT and FAKE NEWS! NEED THE TRUTH!

JEFF SESSIONS HEARING: “Senator Franken asked me A RAMBLING QUESTION!”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions Grilled About Meetings With The Russian Ambassador

‘I Am Not Stonewalling!’ Sessions, Wyden Go Off on Each Other in Explosive Back-and-Forth

HEATED EXCHANGE: Sen. Kamala Harris vs. AG Jeff Sessions – Senate Intelligence Committee Hearing

INTENSE: Sen. Heinrich ACCUSES Jeff Sessions of OBSTRUCTION at Senate Intelligence Committee Hearing

Britt Hume Gives Analysis on AG Sessions Testimony

Judge Napolitano Does Not Think It’s a Good idea For Sessions to Testify Before the Senate

Krauthammer: Going After Sessions is the Democrats’ Third Attempt to Take Down the President

Krauthammer Says Sessions Did a Good Job Fending Off Charges

Sessions calls suggestion he colluded with Russia a ‘detestable lie’

The attorney general also denies that he had a third undisclosed meeting with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

06/13/2017 03:07 PM EDT

Updated 06/13/2017 04:40 PM EDT

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday forcefully denied he engaged in any collusion with Russian officials during the campaign, calling such a suggestion a “detestable lie,” while saying he did not recall having a third undisclosed meeting with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

“The suggestion that I participated in any collusion or that I was aware of any collusion with the Russian government to hurt this country, which I have served with honor for over 35 years, or to undermine the integrity of our democratic process, is an appalling and detestable lie,” Sessions said as he testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Sessions also pushed back against the idea that he had more meetings with Kislyak, after having been forced to clarify remarks from his confirmation hearing in January that he did not have communications with Russian officials during the campaign. Two previous meetings with Kisylak surfaced earlier this year, but Sessions said on Tuesday he doesn’t remember any further encounters, including an allegation he met with Kislyak in April 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel, which hosted a foreign policy speech by Donald Trump.

“I did not have any private meetings nor do I recall any conversations with any Russian officials at the Mayflower Hotel,” Sessions said.

He later elaborated that a brief interaction with Kislyak may have occurred, noting that “I may have had an encounter during the reception” but that would’ve been the extent of any communication.

Sessions took his uncomfortable star turn in the same seat occupied by James Comey five days ago as the former FBI director pointedly accused Trump of lying about his dismissal.

Sessions has found himself at the center of the Russian controversy in recent days, particularly after Comey’s testimony that he’d asked Sessions to intervene after Trump initiated a series of contacts the FBI director viewed as improper.

The ex-FBI chief also suggested Sessions realized something inappropriate was afoot when Trump asked Comey to stay behind at an Oval Office meeting at February, while dismissing Sessions and others from the room.

“My sense was the attorney general knew he shouldn’t be leaving, which is why he was lingering,” Comey testified.

Comey also said that in the one-on-one meeting that followed, Trump asked that the FBI “let…go” of a probe into former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn. Trump has said he made no such request.

Sessions denied on Tuesday that he stayed silent when Comey urged him never to leave him alone again with Trump — testifying that he urged the FBI and Justice Department officials to follow proper protocol in their communications with the White House.

That directly counters Comey’s testimony from last week, when the ex-FBI chief said Sessions had no response when he told the attorney general that him being left alone with Trump was inappropriate and should not happen. A Justice Department spokesman rejected Comey’s account following the June 8 hearing.

“He didn’t recall this, but I responded to his comment by agreeing that the FBI and the Department of Justice needed to be careful to follow department policies regarding appropriate contacts with the White House,” Sessions testified.

Sessions did not say if he made any effort to stop Trump from contacting the FBI, such as intervening with the president directly or seeking to pass such a message through the White House counsel or other officials.

The attorney general’s closely-watched testimony came as Washington buzzed about suggestions from Trump allies that the president was considering firing the man tapped last month to take over the probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election: special counsel Robert Mueller.

Sessions would not specifically talk about Mueller’s job performance, but said, “I have confidence in Mr. Mueller.”

The attorney general cited his recusal from the Russia probe as one of the reasons he could not elaborate on Mueller. In March, Sessions declared that because of his role in the Trump campaign he was recusing himself from all inquiries related to Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 elections.

During his testimony on Tuesday, Sessions disclosed more details of the timeline of his recusal: One day after he was sworn in as attorney general on Feb. 9, Sessions had his first meeting to generally discuss the recusal matter. Several meetings followed, and “it became clear to me over time that I qualified as a significant principal adviser type person to the campaign and it would be appropriate and the right thing for me to recuse myself.”

His recusal from matters related to the presidential campaign, which Sessions said was essentially in place from his first day as attorney general, is apparently so broad that he has never been briefed on Russian hacking attempts last year.

“I never received any detailed briefing on how the hacking occurred,” Sessions testified, saying he had only gotten his information about Russian interference in the 2016 campaign through the news media.

Speaking to Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), Sessions added that “you might have been very critical if I, as an active part of the campaign, was seeking intelligence related to something that might be relevant to the campaign.”

Sessions also said Tuesday that he would not claim executive privilege as he testifies “because that is the president’s power.” But he added that he would abide by longstanding DOJ practice to shield his discussions with Trump.

“I cannot and will not violate my duty to protect confidential communications with the president,” he said.

Sessions refused to answer a pivotal question from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.): whether he discussed Comey’s handling of the investigations into the Trump campaign with the president prior to the FBI director’s dismissal.

“I’m not able to discuss with you or confirm or deny the nature of a private conversation that I may have had with the president on this subject or others. I know this will be discussed, but that’s the rules that have been adhered to by the Department of Justice,” Sessions said.

Asked to react to Trump’s public statement that he had the Russia probe on his mind at the time of the firing, the attorney general demurred.

“I will have to let his words speak for himself. I’m not sure what was in his mind specifically when we talked to him,” Sessions said.

As Sessions declined to answer a series of questions, Democrats bluntly accused him of undermining Congress’s effort to get to the truth. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon said the lack of responses amounted to stonewalling.

“I am not stonewalling. I am following the historic policies of the Department of Justice,” the attorney general declared.

“You’re impeding this investigation,” Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico said. “You are obstructing that congressional investigation by not answering the questions.”

Sessions insisted that he was not invoking executive privilege, but preserving Trump’s right to do so.

“I’m not able to invoke executive privilege that’s the president’s prerogative,” the attorney general said.

Resolving a longstanding question, Sessions acknowledged publicly for the first time Tuesday that he gave Comey no warning before his firing on May 9.

“Did you ever have a conversation about his failure to perform?” Sen. Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the committee, asked.

“I did not,” Sessions said.

“You never thought it was appropriate to raise those concerns before he was actually terminated by the president?” Warner asked.

“I did not do so,” Sessions said, noting that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein prepared a memo critiquing Comey’s performance. “It’s something that we both agreed to that a fresh start at the FBI was probably the best.”

“The timing seems a little peculiar,” Warner said.

Democratic senators and Comey have suggested that Sessions should not have been involved in the firing of the FBI director, particularly since investigations Sessions was recused from appear to have played roles in spurring that decision.

Sessions flatly rejected those arguments on Tuesday.

“It is absurd, frankly, to suggest that a recusal from a single specific investigation would render an Attorney General unable to manage the leadership of the various Department of Justice law enforcement components that conduct thousands of investigations,” Sessions said.

The usually genial Alabaman showed outbursts of anger, including under questioning from Wyden when the Oregon Democrat pressed Sessions on what Comey found so “problematic” about the attorney general that he felt his recusal was inevitable.

“Why don’t you tell me?” Sessions responded to Wyden, his tone escalating. “There are none … this is a secret innuendo.”

Sessions also offered his first-hand account of the Feb. 14 Oval Office encounter that resulted in Comey being alone with Trump.

“We were there. I was standing there and without revealing any conversation that took place, what I do recall is I did depart. I believe everyone else did depart and Director Comey was sitting in front of the president’s desk and they were talking….That in itself is not problematic,” Sessions said.

The attorney general confirmed that the next day Comey complained about the contact.

“He did not tell me at that time any detail about anything that was said that was improper,” Sessions said, claiming he “backed [Comey] up in his concern” about improper contacts.

“He was concerned about it….His recollection of what he said about his concern is consistent with my recollection,” the attorney general added.

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/06/13/sessions-calls-suggestion-he-colluded-with-russia-a-detestable-lie-239507

 

Executive privilege

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In the United States government, executive privilege is the power claimed by the President of the United States and other members of the executive branch to resist certain subpoenas and other interventions by the legislative and judicial branches of government to access information and personnel relating to the executive branch. The concept of executive privilege is not mentioned explicitly in the United States Constitution, but the Supreme Court of the United States ruled it to be an element of the separation of powers doctrine and derived from the supremacy of the executive branch in its own area of Constitutional activity.[1]

The Supreme Court confirmed the legitimacy of this doctrine in United States v. Nixon, but only to the extent of confirming that there is a qualified privilege. Once invoked, a presumption of privilege is established, requiring the Prosecutor to make a “sufficient showing” that the “Presidential material” is “essential to the justice of the case” (418 U.S. at 713–14). Chief JusticeWarren Burger further stated that executive privilege would most effectively apply when the oversight of the executive would impair that branch’s national security concerns.

Historically, the uses of executive privilege underscore the untested nature of the doctrine, since Presidents have generally sidestepped open confrontations with the United States Congress and the courts over the issue by first asserting the privilege, then producing some of the documents requested on an assertedly voluntary basis.

Early precedents

Executive privilege is a specific instance of the more general common-law principle of deliberative process privilege and is believed to trace its roots to the English crown privilege (now known as public-interest immunity).[2]

In the context of privilege assertions by US presidents, “In 1796, President George Washington refused to comply with a request by the House of Representatives for documents related to the negotiation of the then-recently adopted Jay Treaty with the Kingdom of Great Britain. The Senate alone plays a role in the ratification of treaties, Washington reasoned, and therefore the House had no legitimate claim to the material. Therefore, Washington provided the documents to the Senate but not the House.”[3]

President Thomas Jefferson continued the precedent for this in the trial of Aaron Burr for treason in 1809. Burr asked the court to issue a subpoena duces tecum to compel Jefferson to testify or provide his private letters concerning Burr. Chief Justice John Marshall, a strong proponent of the powers of the federal government but also a political opponent of Jefferson, ruled that the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, which allows for these sorts of court orders for criminal defendants, did not provide any exception for the president. As for Jefferson’s claim that disclosure of the document would imperil public safety, Marshall held that the court, not the president, would be the judge of that. Jefferson refused to personally testify but provided selected letters.

In 1833, President Andrew Jackson cited executive privilege when Senator Henry Clay demanded he produce documents concerning statements the president made to his cabinet about the removal of federal deposits from the Second Bank of the United States during the Bank War.[4]

Cold War era

During the period of 1947–49, several major security cases became known to Congress. There followed a series of investigations, culminating in the famous HissChambers case of 1948. At that point, the Truman Administration issued a sweeping secrecy order blocking congressional efforts from FBI and other executive data on security problems.[citation needed] Security files were moved to the White House and Administration officials were banned from testifying before Congress on security related matters. Investigation of the State Department and other cases was stymied and the matter left unresolved.

During the Army–McCarthy hearings in 1954, Eisenhower used the claim of executive privilege to forbid the “provision of any data about internal conversations, meetings, or written communication among staffers, with no exception to topics or people.” Department of Defense employees were also instructed not to testify on any such conversations or produce any such documents or reproductions.[5] This was done to refuse the McCarthy Committee subpoenas of transcripts of monitored telephone calls from Army officials, as well as information on meetings between Eisenhower officials relating to the hearings. This was done in the form of a letter from Eisenhower to the Department of Defense and an accompanying memo from Eisenhower Justice. The reasoning behind the order was that there was a need for “candid” exchanges among executive employees in giving “advice” to one another. In the end, Eisenhower would invoke the claim 44 times between 1955 and 1960.

United States v. Nixon

The Supreme Court addressed “executive privilege” in United States v. Nixon, the 1974 case involving the demand by Watergatespecial prosecutorArchibald Cox that President Richard Nixonproduce the audiotapes of conversations he and his colleagues had in the Oval Office of the White House in connection with criminal charges being brought against members of the Nixon Administration. Nixon invoked the privilege and refused to produce any records.

The Supreme Court did not reject the claim of privilege out of hand; it noted, in fact, “the valid need for protection of communications between high Government officials and those who advise and assist them in the performance of their manifold duties” and that “[h]uman experience teaches that those who expect public dissemination of their remarks may well temper candor with a concern for appearances and for their own interests to the detriment of the decisionmaking process.” This is very similar to the logic that the Court had used in establishing an “executive immunity” defense for high office-holders charged with violating citizens’ constitutional rights in the course of performing their duties. The Supreme Court stated: “To read the Article II powers of the President as providing an absolute privilege as against a subpoena essential to enforcement of criminal statutes on no more than a generalized claim of the public interest in confidentiality of nonmilitary and nondiplomatic discussions would upset the constitutional balance of ‘a workable government’ and gravely impair the role of the courts under Article III.” Because Nixon had asserted only a generalized need for confidentiality, the Court held that the larger public interest in obtaining the truth in the context of a criminal prosecution took precedence.

“Once executive privilege is asserted, coequal branches of the Government are set on a collision course. The Judiciary is forced into the difficult task of balancing the need for information in a judicial proceeding and the Executive’s Article II prerogatives. This inquiry places courts in the awkward position of evaluating the Executive’s claims of confidentiality and autonomy, and pushes to the fore difficult questions of separation of powers and checks and balances. These ‘occasion[s] for constitutional confrontation between the two branches’ are likely to be avoided whenever possible. United States v. Nixon, supra, at 692.”[6]

Post-Watergate era

Clinton administration

The Clinton administration invoked executive privilege on fourteen occasions.

In 1998, President Bill Clinton became the first president since Nixon to assert executive privilege and lose in court, when a federal judge ruled that Clinton aides could be called to testify in the Lewinsky scandal.[7]

Later, Clinton exercised a form of negotiated executive privilege when he agreed to testify before the grand jury called by Independent CounselKenneth Starr only after negotiating the terms under which he would appear. Declaring that “absolutely no one is above the law”, Starr said such a privilege “must give way” and evidence “must be turned over” to prosecutors if it is relevant to an investigation.

George W. Bush administration

The Bush administration invoked executive privilege on six occasions.

President George W. Bush first asserted executive privilege to deny disclosure of sought details regarding former Attorney General Janet Reno,[8] the scandal involving Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) misuse of organized-crime informants James J. Bulger and Stephen Flemmi in Boston, and Justice Department deliberations about President Bill Clinton’s fundraising tactics, in December 2001.[9]

Bush invoked executive privilege “in substance” in refusing to disclose the details of Vice PresidentDick Cheney‘s meetings with energy executives, which was not appealed by the GAO. In a separate Supreme Court decision in 2004, however, Justice Anthony Kennedy noted “Executive privilege is an extraordinary assertion of power ‘not to be lightly invoked.’ United States v. Reynolds, 345 U.S. 1, 7 (1953).

Further, on June 28, 2007, Bush invoked executive privilege in response to congressional subpoenas requesting documents from former presidential counsel Harriet Miers and former political director Sara Taylor,[10] citing that:

The reason for these distinctions rests upon a bedrock presidential prerogative: for the President to perform his constitutional duties, it is imperative that he receive candid and unfettered advice and that free and open discussions and deliberations occur among his advisors and between those advisors and others within and outside the Executive Branch.

On July 9, 2007, Bush again invoked executive privilege to block a congressional subpoena requiring the testimonies of Taylor and Miers. Furthermore, White House CounselFred F. Fielding refused to comply with a deadline set by the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee to explain its privilege claim, prove that the president personally invoked it, and provide logs of which documents were being withheld. On July 25, 2007, the House Judiciary Committee voted to cite Miers and White House Chief of StaffJoshua Bolten for contempt of Congress.[11][12]

On July 13, less than a week after claiming executive privilege for Miers and Taylor, Counsel Fielding effectively claimed the privilege once again, this time in relation to documents related to the 2004 death of Army RangerPat Tillman. In a letter to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Fielding claimed certain papers relating to discussion of the friendly-fire shooting “implicate Executive Branch confidentiality interests” and would therefore not be turned over to the committee.[13]

On August 1, 2007, Bush invoked the privilege for the fourth time in little over a month, this time rejecting a subpoena for Karl Rove. The subpoena would have required the President’s Senior Advisor to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a probe over fired federal prosecutors. In a letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, Fielding claimed that “Mr. Rove, as an immediate presidential advisor, is immune from compelled congressional testimony about matters that arose during his tenure and that relate to his official duties in that capacity….”[14]

Leahy claimed that President Bush was not involved with the employment terminations of U.S. attorneys. Furthermore, he asserted that the president’s executive privilege claims protecting Josh Bolten, and Karl Rove are illegal. The Senator demanded that Bolten, Rove, Sara Taylor, and J. Scott Jennings comply “immediately” with their subpoenas, presumably to await a further review of these matters. This development paved the way for a Senate panel vote on whether to advance the citations to the full Senate. “It is obvious that the reasons given for these firings were contrived as part of a cover-up and that the stonewalling by the White House is part and parcel of that same effort”, Leahy concluded about these incidents.[15][16][17][18]

As of July 17, 2008, Rove still claimed executive privilege to avoid a congressional subpoena. Rove’s lawyer wrote that his client is “constitutionally immune from compelled congressional testimony.”[19]

House Investigation of the SEC

Leaders of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission testified on February 4, 2009 before the United States House Committee on Financial Services subcommittee including Linda Chatman Thomsen S.E.C. enforcement director, acting General CounselAndy Vollmer, Andrew Donohue, Erik Sirri, and Lori Richards and Stephen Luparello of FINRA. The subject of the hearings were on why the SEC had failed to act when Harry Markopolos, a private fraud investigator from Boston alerted the Securities and Exchange Commission; detailing his persistent and unsuccessful efforts to get the SEC to investigate Bernard Madoff, beginning in 1999.[20] Vollmer claimed executive privilege in declining to answer some questions.[21][22] Subcommittee chairmanPaul E. Kanjorski asked Mr. Vollmer if he had obtained executive privilege from the U.S. Attorney General.[21] “No … this is the position of the agency,” said Vollmer.[21] “Did the SEC instruct him not to respond to questions?” Mr. Kanjorski asked.[21] Vollmer replied that it was the position of the Commission and that “the answer is no.”[21] The SEC announced Vollmer would “leave the Commission and return to the private sector,” just 14 days after making the claim.[23]

Obama Administration

On June 20, 2012, President Barack Obama asserted executive privilege, his first, to withhold certain Department of Justice documents related to the ongoing Operation Fast and Furious controversy ahead of a United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in Contempt of Congress for refusing to produce the documents.[24][25]

Later the same day, the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform voted 23–17 along party lines to hold Attorney General Holder in contempt of Congress over not releasing documents regarding Fast and Furious.[26]

Executive privilege was also used in a lawsuit stemming from the 2012 implementation of the “Net Worth Sweep” against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Obama administration did not disclose roughly 11,000 documents from the plaintiffs in the discovery process as they related to the reasoning behind the 2012 actions.[citation needed]

Trump Administration

While investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, the Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenaed former FBI Director James Comey to testify. Comey was fired several weeks before being subpoenaed but had appeared before the committee once before in March while still serving as director. Less than a week before the scheduled hearing, it was reported that President Trump was considering invoking executive privilege to prevent Comey’s testimony. [27][28] According to attorney Page Pate, it seems unlikely that executive privilege will be applicable here, as Trump has publicly spoken about the encounters in question multiple times.[29]

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a White house spokesman, released a statement on June 5th stating: “The president’s power to assert executive privilege is very well-established. However, in order to facilitate a swift and thorough examination of the facts sought by the Senate Intelligence Committee, President Trump will not assert executive privilege regarding James Comey’s scheduled testimony.”[30]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_privilege

 

 

Story 2: The Real Crimes and Obstruction of Justice of Obama Administration. Hillary and Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch — Time For Three More Special Prosecutors — Videos

SARA CARTER FULL ONE-ON-ONE EXPLOSIVE INTERVIEW WITH SEAN HANNITY (6/13/2017)

SARA CARTER CIRCA NEWS FULL ONE-ON-ONE EXPLOSIVE INTERVIEW WITH SEAN HANNITY (6/12/2017)

Circa News: FBI illegally shared data about Americans

Hannity 6/13/2017 | Sean Hannity Fox News Today June 13, 2017

BREAKING: AG LYNCH OBSTRUCTED JUSTICE IN THE CLINTON INVESTIGATION | HANNITY SHOW HD | MONDAY

When loretta lynch heard what comey just said she immediately called her lawyer

Loretta Lynch Gets A NASTY SURPRISE After Damning Comey Testimony…

AG Lynch Unhinged Stuttering Mess! Gowdy, Jordan, Chaffetz/ Blitzkrieg!!!

Trey Gowdy Says Obama Was a Corrupt Liar! Gowdy Pissed!

Trey Gowdy Screams About Obama for 5 Minutes and Gets Standing Ovation!

John Ratcliffe Shuts Up Lying Loretta Lynch Over Hillary Clinton’s Emails

Breaking News: Circa News Sara Carter, reports FBI illegally sharing information on Americans

Tucker Carlson : Did Obama Admin Spy On President Trump’s Team “Compelling Evidence Revealed”

Sean Hannity Guest Sara Carter : House Reb Additional Illegal Unmasking & Surveillance

Did Obama Spy on Rand Paul? | NSA Spying

Napolitano’s Chambers | Was Candidate Donald Trump Spied On By Barack Obama?

Susan Rice Scandal: Was Obama Administration Spying On Trump After All?

Circa News Reporter Sara Carter Discusses The Danger Of The Leaks

 

 

Special counsel is investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice, officials say

Special counsel investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice
The special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election is interviewing senior intelligence officials to determine whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice, officials said. (Patrick Martin,McKenna Ewen/The Washington Post)
The special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election is interviewing senior intelligence officials as part of a widening probe that now includes an examination of whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice, officials said.The move by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Trump’s conduct marks a major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation, which until recently focused on Russian meddling during the presidential campaign and on whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Investigators have also been looking for any evidence of possible financial crimes among Trump associates, officials said.

Trump had received private assurances from then-FBI Director James B. Comey starting in January that he was not personally under investigation. Officials say that changed shortly after Comey’s firing.

Five people briefed on the interview requests, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said that Daniel Coats, the current director of national intelligence, Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, and Rogers’s recently departed deputy, Richard Ledgett, agreed to be interviewed by Mueller’s investigators as early as this week. The investigation has been cloaked in secrecy, and it is unclear how many others have been questioned by the FBI.

The NSA said in a statement that it will “fully cooperate with the special counsel” and declined to comment further. The office of the director of national intelligence and Ledgett declined to comment.

The White House now refers all questions about the Russia investigation to Trump’s personal attorney, Marc Kasowitz.

“The FBI leak of information regarding the president is outrageous, inexcusable and illegal,” said Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Kasowitz.

The officials said Coats, Rogers and Ledgett would appear voluntarily, though it remains unclear whether they will describe in full their conversations with Trump and other top officials or will be directed by the White House to invoke executive privilege. It is doubtful that the White House could ultimately use executive privilege to try to block them from speaking to Mueller’s investigators. Experts point out that the Supreme Court ruled during the Watergate scandal that officials cannot use privilege to withhold evidence in criminal prosecutions.

The obstruction-of-justice investigation of the president began days after Comey was fired on May 9, according to people familiar with the matter. Mueller’s office has taken up that work, and the preliminary interviews scheduled with intelligence officials indicate that his team is actively pursuing potential witnesses inside and outside the government.

The interviews suggest that Mueller sees the question of attempted obstruction of justice as more than just a “he said, he said” dispute between the president and the fired FBI director, an official said.

With the term whirling around Washington, a former federal prosecutor explains what to know about the criminal charge of obstruction of justice. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

Investigating Trump for possible crimes is a complicated affair, even if convincing evidence of a crime were found. The Justice Department has long held that it would not be appropriate to indict a sitting president. Instead, experts say, the onus would be on Congress to review any findings of criminal misconduct and then decide whether to initiate impeachment proceedings.

Comey confirmed publicly in congressional testimony on March 20 that the bureau was investigating possible coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

Comey’s statement before the House Intelligence Committee upset Trump, who has repeatedly denied that any coordination with the Russians took place. Trump had wanted Comey to disclose publicly that he was not personally under investigation, but the FBI director refused to do so.

Soon after, Trump spoke to Coats and Rogers about the Russia investigation.

Officials said one of the exchanges of potential interest to Mueller took place on March 22, less than a week after Coats was confirmed by the Senate to serve as the nation’s top intelligence official.

Coats was attending a briefing at the White House with officials from several other government agencies. When the briefing ended, as The Washington Post previously reported, Trump asked everyone to leave the room except for Coats and CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Coats told associates that Trump had asked him whether Coats could intervene with Comey to get the bureau to back off its focus on former national security adviser Michael Flynn in its Russia probe, according to officials. Coats later told lawmakers that he never felt pressured to intervene.

A day or two after the March 22 meeting, Trump telephoned Coats and Rogers to separately ask them to issue public statements denying the existence of any evidence of coordination between his campaign and the Russian government.

Coats and Rogers refused to comply with the president’s requests, officials said.

It is unclear whether Ledgett had direct contact with Trump or other top officials about the Russia probe, but he wrote an internal NSA memo documenting the president’s phone call with Rogers, according to officials.

As part of the probe, the special counsel has also gathered Comey’s written accounts of his conversations with Trump. The president has accused Comey of lying about those encounters.

Mueller is overseeing a host of investigations involving people who are or were in Trump’s orbit, people familiar with the probe said. The investigation is examining possible contacts with Russian operatives as well as any suspicious financial activity related to those individuals.

Last week, Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he had informed Trump that there was no investigation of the president’s personal conduct, at least while he was leading the FBI.

Comey’s carefully worded comments, and those of Andrew McCabe, who took over as acting FBI director, suggested to some officials that an investigation of Trump for attempted obstruction may have been launched after Comey’s departure, particularly in light of Trump’s alleged statements regarding Flynn.

“I took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning, but that’s a conclusion I’m sure the special counsel will work towards, to try and understand what the intention was there, and whether that’s an offense,” Comey testified last week.

Mueller has not publicly discussed his work, and a spokesman for the special counsel declined to comment.

Accounts by Comey and other officials of their conversations with the president could become central pieces of evidence if Mueller decides to pursue an obstruction case.

Investigators will also look for any statements the president may have made publicly and privately to people outside the government about his reasons for firing Comey and his concerns about the Russia probe and other related investigations, people familiar with the matter said.

Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee last week that he was certain his firing was due to the president’s concerns about the Russia probe, rather than over his handling of a now-closed FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state, as the White House had initially asserted. “It’s my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation,” Comey said. “I was fired, in some way, to change — or the endeavor was to change the way the Russia investigation was being conducted.”

The fired FBI director said ultimately it was up to Mueller to make a determination whether the president crossed a legal line.

In addition to describing his interactions with the president, Comey told the Intelligence Committee that while he was FBI director he told Trump on three occasions that he was not under investigation as part of a counterintelligence probe looking at Russian meddling in the election.

Republican lawmakers seized on Comey’s testimony to point out that Trump was not in the FBI’s crosshairs when Comey led the bureau.

After Comey’s testimony, in which he acknowledged telling Trump that he was not under investigation, Trump tweeted that he felt “total and complete vindication.” It is unclear whether McCabe, Comey’s successor, has informed Trump of the change in the scope of the probe.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/special-counsel-is-investigating-trump-for-possible-obstruction-of-justice/2017/06/14/9ce02506-5131-11e7-b064-828ba60fbb98_story.html?utm_term=.411010e1599f

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 906, June 7, 2017, Story 1: Will Congress Reauthorize Section 702 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act? Yes with changes to protect the privacy of American People. — How About Executive Order 12333 That Allow The President To Target Americans Without A Warrant — Unconstitutional and Illegal — Happens Every Day! — Oversight My Ass –Videos — Story 2: National Security Agency Under Obama Spied On American People —  Obama’s Abuse of Power — Huge Scandal Ignored By Big Lie Media — Videos — Story 3: President Trump To Nominate Christopher A. Wray For FBI Director — Videos

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Story 1: Will Congress Reauthorize Section 702 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act? Yes with changes to protect the privacy of American People — How About Executive Order 12333 That Allows The President To Target American Citizens Without A Warrant — Unconstitutional and Illegal — Happens Every Day! — Oversight My Ass –Videos

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FISA: 702 Collection

In 2008, Congress passed a set of updates to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), including Section 702 which authorized warrantless surveillance of non-U.S. persons reasonably believed to be outside the country. However, documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed that 702 was being used far more heavily than many expected, serving as the legal basis for the collection of large quantities of telephone and Internet traffic  passing through the United States (and unlike 215, including content rather than just metadata). Still, as 702 only permits overseas collection, most criticism of the provision has come from abroad. But many domestic privacy advocates also worry that large amounts of American communication are being swept up “incidentally” and then used as well.

How the Senate hearing on surveillance turned into a Russia hearing

Blunt Questions National Security Officials Regarding Russia Investigation & FISA 6/7/17

FULL: Rosenstein, Intel Chiefs Testify at Senate Hearing on President Trump and Russia Investigation

Heinrich Questions Top Intelligence Officials In Senate Intel Committee Hearing

Senator Kamala Harris Grills Deputy AG Rosenstein On Whether He Has Given Mueller Full Independence

Trump Russia Collusion Investigation, Part 1 – Senate Intelligence Committee – FISA 6/7/2017

Trump Russia Collusion Investigation, Part 2 – Senate Intelligence Committee – FISA 6/7/2017

Trump Russia Collusion Investigation, Part 3 – Senate Intelligence Committee – FISA 6/7/2017

‘You Went Back on a Pledge!’ Dem. Senator Gets Nasty With DNI Chief Dan Coats

June 7, 2017: Sen. Cotton’s Q&A at Senate Intel Committee FISA Hearing

OPENING STATEMENT: Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats Testifies at Senate Intel Committee

Senate Russia Investigation: National security officials testify to intelligence committee on FISA

Rand Paul on Unmaskings: ‘We Can’t Live in Fear of Our Own Intelligence Community’

Rand Paul on Obama Illegally Spying on Americans | NSA Wiretapping

Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act

FISA Hearing – Sec 702 Intel Surveillance – IMPORTANT

NSA Spying On Americans ‘Widespread’ – Let Sec. 702 Expire!

Bill Binney explodes the Russia witchhunt

Obama’s NSA conducted illegal searches on Americans for years: Report

NSA Whistleblower Bill Binney on Tucker Carlson 03.24.2017

NSA Whistleblower Bill Binney On 9/11

William Binney – The Government is Profiling You (The NSA is Spying on You)

NSA Whistleblower William Binney: The Future of FREEDOM

State of Surveillance: Police, Privacy and Technology

The Fourth Amendment Explained: US Government Review

Why We’re Losing Liberty

Sen. Rand Paul Defends the Fourth Amendment – February 11, 2014

Rand Paul Shames Homeland Security on Spying on Americans

Top Intel Community Officials Deny That Trump Pressured Them On Russia Probe

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CHUCK ROSS
Reporter

The directors of the Office of National Intelligence and the National Security Agency testified on Wednesday that they have not been pressured by President Trump on the ongoing Russia investigation, undercutting recent reports that they were.

Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, and Adm. Mike Rogers, the director of NSA, largely declined to discuss details about their interactions with Trump when pressed on the matter during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.

According to news reports published last month, Trump asked both Coats and Rogers to rebut stories that Trump was under investigation as part of the Russia probe.

Both Coats and Rogers reportedly felt uncomfortable with the requests from Trump.

But when asked about those interactions on Wednesday, both declined to discuss their specific conversations with Trump while stating that they have never felt pressure from the White House.

“In the three-plus years that I have been the director of the National Security Agency, to the best of my recollection, I have never been directed to do anything that I believe to be illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate. And to the best of my collection … I do not recall ever feeling pressured to do so,” Rogers told Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the vice chairman of the Senate panel.

“Did the president … ask you in any way, shape or form to back off or downplay the Russia investigation?” Warner asked.

Rogers said that he would not discuss specifics of conversations he had with Trump, but added: “I stand by the comment I just made, sir.”

Coats, a former Indiana senator who was appointed by Trump, also denied ever being pressured to downplay the Russia investigation or any other.

On Tuesday, The Washington Post reported that Coats told associates on March 22 that Trump asked him to intervene with former FBI Director James Comey to push back against the Russia investigation.

“In my time of service … I have never been pressured, I have never felt pressure, to intervene or interfere in any way, with shaping intelligence in a political way or in relationship to an ongoing investigation,” Coats testified Wednesday.

http://dailycaller.com/2017/06/07/top-intel-community-officials-deny-that-trump-pressured-them-on-russia-probe/

The Way the NSA Uses Section 702 is Deeply Troubling. Here’s Why.

MAY 7, 2014

This blog post was updated at 5:10 pm PST 5/8/14.

The most recent disclosure of classified NSA documents revealed that the British spy agency GCHQ sought unfettered access to NSA data collected under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. Not only does this reveal that the two agencies have a far closer relationship than GCHQ would like to publicly admit, it also serves as a reminder that surveillance under Section 702 is a real problem that has barely been discussed, much less addressed, by Congress or the President.

In fact, the “manager’s amendment” to the USA FREEDOM Act, which passed unanimously out of the House Judiciary Committee, has weakened the minimal changes to Section 702 that USA FREEDOM originally offered. Although Representative Zoe Lofgren—who clearly understands the import of Section 702—offered several very good amendments that would have addressed these gaps, her amendments were all voted down. There’s still a chance though—as this bill moves through Congress it can be strengthened by amendments from the floor.

Section 702 has been used by the NSA to justify mass collection of phone calls and emails by collecting huge quantities of data directly from the physical infrastructure of communications providers. Here’s what you should know about the provision and why it needs to be addressed by Congress and the President:

  • Most of the discussion around the NSA has focused on the phone records surveillance program. Unlike that program, collection done under Section 702 capturescontent of communications. This could include content in emails, instant messages, Facebook messages, web browsing history, and more.
  • Even though it’s ostensibly used for foreign targets, Section 702 surveillance sweeps up the communications of Americans. The NSA has a twisted, and incredibly permissive, interpretation of targeting that includes communications about a target, even if the communicating parties are completely innocent. As John Oliver put it in his interview with former NSA General Keith Alexander: “No, the target is not the American people, but it seems that too often you miss the target and hit the person next to them going, ‘Whoa, him!'”
  • The NSA has confirmed that it is searching Section 702 data to access American’s communications without a warrant, in what is being called the “back door search loophole.”  In response to questions from Senator Ron Wyden, former NSA director General Keith Alexander admitted that the NSA specifically searches Section 702 data using “U.S. person identifiers,” for example email addresses associated with someone in the U.S.
  • The NSA has used Section 702 to justify programs in which the NSA can siphon off large portions of Internet traffic directly from the Internet backbone. These programs exploit the structure of the Internet, in which a significant amount of traffic from around the world flows through servers in the United States. In fact, through Section 702, the NSA has access to information stored by major Internet companies like Facebook and Google.
  • Section 702 is likely used for computer security operations. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper noted Section 702’s use to obtain communications “regarding potential cyber threats” and to prevent “hostile cyber activities.” Richard Ledgett, Deputy Director of NSA, noted the use of intelligence authorities to mitigate cyber attacks.
  • The FISA Court has little opportunity to review Section 702 collection. The court approves procedures for 702 collection for up to a year. This is not approval of specific targets, however; “court review [is] limited to ‘procedures’ for targeting and minimization rather than the actual seizure and searches.” This lack of judicial oversight is far beyond the parameters of criminal justice.
  • Not only does the FISA Court provide little oversight, Congress is largely in the dark about Section 702 collection as well. NSA spying defenders say that Congress has been briefed on these programs. But other members of Congress have repeatedly noted that it is incredibly difficult to get answers from the intelligence community, and that attending classified hearings means being unable to share any information obtained at such hearings. What’s more, as Senator Barbara Mikulski stated: “‘Fully briefed’ doesn’t mean that we know what’s going on.”  Without a full picture of Section 702 surveillance, Congress simply cannot provide oversight.
  • Section 702 is not just about keeping us safe from terrorism. It’s a distressingly powerful surveillance tool. While the justification we’ve heard repeatedly is that NSA surveillance is keeping us safer, data collected under Section 702 can be shared in a variety of circumstances, such as ordinary criminal investigations. For example, the NSA has shared intelligence with the Drug Enforcement Agency that has led to prosecutions for drug crimes, all while concealing the source of the data.
  • The President has largely ignored Section 702. While the phone records surveillance program has received significant attention from President Obama, in his speeches and his most recent proposal, Section 702 remains nearly untouched.
  • The way the NSA uses Section 702 is illegal and unconstitutional—and it violates international human rights law. Unlike searches done under a search warrant authorized by a judge, Section 702 has been used by the NSA to get broad FISA court authorization for general search and seizure of huge swathes of communications. The NSA says this is OK because Section 702 targets foreign citizens. The problem is, once constitutionally protected communications of Americans are swept up, the NSA says these communications are “fair game” for its use.
  • Innocent non-Americans don’t even get the limited and much abused protections the NSA promises for Americans. Under international human rights law to which the United States is a signatory, the United States must respect the rights of all persons. With so many people outside the United States keeping their data with American companies, and so much information being swept up through mass surveillance, that makes Section 702 the loophole for the NSA to violate the privacy rights of billions of Internet users worldwide.

The omission of Section 702 reform from the discourse around NSA surveillance is incredibly concerning, because this provision has been used to justify some of the most invasive NSA surveillance. That’s why EFF continues to push for real reform of NSA surveillance that includes an end to Section 702 collection. You can help by educating yourself and engaging your elected representatives. Print out our handy one-page explanation of Section 702. Contact your members of Congress today and tell them you want to see an end to all dragnet surveillance, not just bulk collection of phone records.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/05/way-nsa-uses-section-702-deeply-troubling-heres-why

 

By ZACK WHITTAKER CBS NEWS June 30, 2014, 4:02 PM
Legal loopholes could allow wider NSA surveillance, researchers say
CBS NEWS

NEW YORK — Secret loopholes exist that could allow the National Security Agency to bypass Fourth Amendment protections to conduct massive domestic surveillance on U.S. citizens, according to leading academics.

The research paper released Monday by researchers at Harvard and Boston University details how the U.S. government could “conduct largely unrestrained surveillance on Americans by collecting their network traffic abroad,” despite constitutional protections against warrantless searches.

One of the paper’s authors, Axel Arnbak of Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, told CBS News that U.S. surveillance laws presume Internet traffic is non-American when it is collected from overseas.

“The loopholes in current surveillance laws and today’s Internet technology may leave American communications as vulnerable to surveillance, and as unprotected as the internet traffic of foreigners,” Arnbak said.

Although Americans are afforded constitutional protections against unwarranted searches of their emails, documents, social networking data, and other cloud-stored data while it’s stored or in-transit on U.S. soil, the researchers note these same protections do not exist when American data leaves the country.

Furthermore, they suggest that Internet traffic can be “deliberately manipulated” to push American data outside of the country. Although the researchers say they “do not intend to speculate” about whether any U.S. intelligence agencies are actually doing this, they say it could provide a loophole for vacuuming up vast amounts of U.S. citizen data for intelligence purposes, thus “circumventing constitutional and statutory safeguards seeking to protect the privacy of Americans,” they warned.

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Snowden: NSA programs “uncontrolled and dangerous”
The academic paper lands just over a year since the Edward Snowden revelations first came to light, outlining the massive scope of U.S. government surveillance, under the justification of preventing terrorism. Although the classified programs that make up the NSA’s data acquisition arsenal have only recently been disclosed over the past year, the laws that govern them have been under close scrutiny for years. The paper only adds fuel to the fire of the intelligence agency’s alleged spying capabilities, which have been heavily criticized by civil liberties and privacy groups alike.

“The fix has to come from the law — the same laws that apply to Internet traffic collected domestically should also apply to traffic that is collected abroad,” the paper’s co-author, Sharon Goldberg of Boston University’s Computer Science Department, said.

While the researchers do not say whether these loopholes are being actively exploited — saying their aim is solely to broaden the understanding of the current legal framework — the current legislation as it stands “opens the door for unrestrained surveillance,” they write.

Since the September 11 terrorist attacks, the subsequent introduction of the Patriot Act allowed certain kinds of data to be collected to help in the fight against terrorism — so-called “metadata,” such as the time and date of phone calls and emails sent, including phone numbers and email addresses themselves. But the contents of those phone calls or emails require a warrant. The classified documents leaked by Edward Snowden showed that while the public laws have been in effect for years or even decades, the U.S. government has used secret and classified interpretations of these laws for wider intelligence gathering outside the statutes’ text.

The Obama administration previously said there had been Congressional and Judicial oversight of these surveillance laws — notably Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which authorized the collection of Americans’ phone records; and Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which authorized the controversial PRISM program to access non-U.S. residents’ emails, social networking, and cloud-stored data.

But the researchers behind this new study say that the lesser-known Executive Order (EO) 12333, which remains solely the domain of the Executive Branch — along with United States Signals Intelligence Directive (USSID) 18, designed to regulate the collection of American’s data from surveillance conducted on foreign soil — can be used as a legal basis for vast and near-unrestricted domestic surveillance on Americans.

The legal provisions offered under EO 12333, which the researchers say “explicitly allows for intentional targeting of U.S. persons” for surveillance purposes when FISA protections do not apply, was the basis of the authority that reportedly allowed the NSA to tap into the fiber cables that connected Google and Yahoo’s overseas to U.S. data centers.

An estimated 180 million user records, regardless of citizenship, were collected from Google and Yahoo data centers each month, according to the leaked documents. The program, known as Operation MUSCULAR, was authorized because the collection was carried out overseas and not on U.S. soil, the researchers say.

The paper also said surveillance can also be carried out across the wider Internet by routing network traffic overseas so it no longer falls within the protection of the Fourth Amendment.

However, an NSA spokesperson denied that either EO 12333 or USSID 18 “authorizes targeting of U.S. persons for electronic surveillance by routing their communications outside of the U.S.,” in an emailed statement to CBS News.

“Absent limited exception (for example, in an emergency), the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act requires that we get a court order to target any U.S. person anywhere in the world for electronic surveillance. In order to get such an order, we have to establish, to the satisfaction of a federal judge, probable cause to believe that the U.S. person is an agent of a foreign power,” the spokesperson said.

The report highlights a fundamental fact about Internet traffic: Data takes the quickest route possible rather than staying solely within a country’s borders. Data between two U.S. servers located within the U.S. can still sometimes be routed outside of the U.S.

Although this is normal, the researchers warn data can be deliberately routed abroad by manipulating the Internet’s core protocols — notably the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), which determines how Internet traffic is routed between individual networks; and the Domain Name Service (DNS), which converts website addresses to numerical network addresses.

If the NSA took advantage of the loophole by pushing Internet traffic outside of the U.S., it would have enough time to capture the data while it is outside the reach of constitutional protection.

The researchers rebuffed the NSA’s statement in an email: “We argue that these loopholes exist when surveillance is conducted abroad and when the authorities don’t ‘intentionally target a U.S. person’. There are several situations in which you don’t ‘target a U.S. person’, but Internet traffic of many Americans can in fact be affected.”

“We cannot tell whether these loopholes are exploited on a large scale, but operation MUSCULAR seems to find its legal and technical basis in them.”

Mark M. Jaycox, a legislative analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), said: “If you are intentionally spying on a U.S. person, the government must go to the FISA Court,” he said. “That’s the way the law is supposed to operate.”

Describing how the NSA says it never “intentionally collects” U.S. information, he warned the agency’s foreign data dragnet would inevitably include U.S. data.

“The NSA is an intelligence organization — it’s going to be targeting foreigners. But it’s the way that its targeting millions of foreigners, and millions of foreign communications that will eventually pick up U.S. persons’ data and information. And once that data has been collected, it must be destroyed.”

“It’s a question the NSA can’t reconcile, so they lean heavily on saying they never ‘intentionally collect’ the U.S. person information,” he said

A recent primer on EO 12333 written by the privacy group said the order “mandates rules for spying… on anyone within the United States.” The group also notes because the order remains inside the Executive Branch, the Obama administration could “repeal or modify” it at will.

The American Civil Liberties Union said in a post on its website that the U.S. government interprets USSID 18 to “permit it to sweep up Americans’ international communications without any court order and with little oversight.”

Patrick Toomey, staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project, said: “Today, Americans’ communications increasingly travel the globe — and privacy protections must reliably follow. This academic paper raises key questions about whether our current legal regime meets that standard, or whether it allows the NSA to vacuum up Americans’ private data simply by moving its operations offshore.”

He added that there should be a uniform set of laws that protect Americans’ privacy regardless of where they are in the world, and that Congressional oversight of all rules governing surveillance is needed for comprehensive reforms.

The ACLU has also filed a Freedom of Information lawsuit with a federal court in New York, questioning “whether it [EO 12333] appropriately accommodates the constitutional rights of American citizens and residents whose communications are intercepted in the course of that surveillance.”

Although there is no direct evidence yet to suggest the NSA has exploited this loophole, network monitoring firm Renesys observed two “route hijacking” events in June and November 2013 that led Internet traffic to be redirected through Belarus and Iceland on separate occasions. These events are virtually unnoticeable to the ordinary Internet user, but the side effect is that U.S. data may be readable by foreign governments traveling through their country’s infrastructure. It also could allow the NSA to capture that data by treating it as foreign data.

These legal and technical loopholes can allow “largely unrestrained surveillance on Americans communications,” the researchers wrote.

The NSA, whose job it is to produce intelligence from overseas targets, said for the first time in August 2013 that it derives much of its “foundational authority” for its operations from EO 12333. Recent Snowden disclosures shed new light on understanding the capabilities of the executive order.

It was also recently revealed that Snowden himself questioned the legal authority of EO 12333, according to one declassified email exchange released by the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

According to John Schindler, a former NSA chief analyst, speaking to The Washington Post in October, the sole aim of the NSA’s “platoon” of lawyers’ is to figure out “how to stay within the law and maximize collection by exploiting every loophole.”

“It’s fair to say the rules are less restrictive under [EO] 12333 than they are under FISA,” he added.

FISA expanded the NSA’s powers allowing it to obtain foreign intelligence — including economic and political surveillance of foreign governments, companies, news outlets and citizens. But the amended law in 2008 also restricted what can be collected on U.S. citizens.

The so-called “targeting” and “minimization” procedures, which remain classified but were reported as a result of the Snowden leaks, were introduced to ensure any data inadvertently collected on U.S. citizens from overseas would not be used in investigations. These were later criticized following subsequent leaks which suggested the rules on collecting U.S. persons’ data were more relaxed than the statute led the public to believe.

U.S. intelligence agencies can only do so much with U.S. data, therefore they have a “strong incentive to conduct surveillance abroad,” the researchers say, because legal protections under the Fourth Amendment and FISA do not apply outside U.S. territory.

“Programs under EO 12333 may collect startling amounts of sensitive data on both foreigners and Americans,” the paper summarizes, “without any meaningful congressional or judiciary involvement.”

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/legal-loopholes-could-let-nsa-surveillance-circumvent-fourth-amendment-researchers-say/

 

FISA Authority and Blanket Surveillance: A Gatekeeper Without Opposition

Vol. 40 No. 3

The author is with ZwillGen PLLC in Washington, D.C.

Surveillance and espionage were once practices ordinary Americans only read about in novels or saw in movie theaters. That is no longer true. America is at the center of a worldwide communications network. It is home to the world’s most popular telecommunications, email, instant message, and video chat providers. Because of America’s unique role, hundreds of millions of users send communications through American soil. At the same time, America’s enemies have grown from nation-states, like the Soviet Union, to small cells of terrorists that use ordinary communications networks. Taken together, it is not surprising that signals intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency (NSA), which intercept and analyze these signals, would seek and use surveillance powers to conduct more surveillance at home.

Part of this new regime means that more legal process to gather intelligence is being served on companies in the United States. Recent revelations have declassified documents describing the NSA’s broad “collect now, search later” approach to surveillance. This means that some electronic communications providers, and their in-house and outside counsel, are faced with new forms of legal process. But unlike criminal process, which is rooted in a large body of publicly available case law and which often comes to light in the course of criminal trials, this new process comes to these providers in secret. As documents recently declassified by the director of national intelligence demonstrate, the government has served a number of different kinds of orders on providers—each of whom must assess when and how they might comply with or challenge those orders.

My firm and I represented one such provider in In re Directives [Redacted] Pursuant to Section 105B of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [Redacted], 551 F.3d 1004 (FISA Ct. Rev. 2008). That case presented a challenge that more providers may face as the NSA explores its surveillance capabilities. The provider received process known as a 105B directive (which is now called a 702 directive) starting in 2007. In contrast with typical criminal process, there was no prior court review or approval of particular surveillance targets. Instead, a 702 directive, like the one served on that provider, approved of the government’s procedure for conducting surveillance—not its targets.

 

Faced with this process, the provider had to make decisions about how it could respond. The provider chose not to comply with the process, and the government filed a motion to compel in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), a secret court charged with reviewing and approving some types of surveillance.

The course of that litigation proved complex. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review (FISCR), which handles appeals from the FISC, had published a single opinion before the In re Directives case, and while the lower court, the FISC, had rules for proceedings, there were no publicly available decisions on which to rely in litigating the procedural aspects of the case. The merits of the case too were litigated in the dark. No docket was made available, and there was no public mention of the case until after it was appealed and the FISCR entered its decision. Some documents related to the case are still being declassified, but in the words of the FISCR’s declassified decision, there was “multitudinous briefing” in the FISC and ample briefing on appeal.

The FISCR released its opinion in In re Directives in 2009, and a beam of light shone on its decisions for the first time in seven years. But then the FISC went dark again. In late 2013, however, the director of national intelligence, in response to increased public pressure seeking information on surveillance activities, began releasing more FISC opinions that are instructive on how the FISC operates and how it has been interpreting the Fourth Amendment and process under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, 50 U.S.C. § 1801 et seq. (FISA) in the intervening years, giving much needed guidance to providers and outside counsel.

 

The History of FISA

Understanding how to advise clients faced with FISA process, the challenges they face, and how to revise FISA to address public concerns about the NSA’s “collect now, search later” surveillance requires some history, legal analysis, and creative thinking. FISA’s history provides context for the reforms needed to adjust the balance between surveillance and privacy. Current events provide information about the extent of the problem. And creative thinking is required to create solutions.

FISA occupies an uneasy place. It resides where intelligence gathering meets the Fourth Amendment. FISA addresses the problem of how, and when, the government can conduct surveillance for intelligence-gathering purposes on United States soil. Over time, Congress has addressed this delicate balance by amending FISA to expand and contract surveillance capabilities. Today, FISA provides a comprehensive set of procedures for obtaining and using “foreign intelligence information” within the United States.

Before Congress passed FISA in 1978, there were no clear rules for when the executive branch could conduct clandestine surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes. Prior to FISA, every president since at least 1931 used surveillance to protect national security interests—even when no law specifically allowed that surveillance. See Sen. Rep. No. 94-755 (1976), Book III, Supplementary Detailed Staff Reports on Intelligence Activities and the Rights of Americans [hereinafter Church Report], available at www.intelligence.senate.gov/pdfs94th/94755_III.pdf. Presidents justified this surveillance by pointing to their role as commander-in-chief combined with their duty and authority to execute the laws of the United States. U.S. Const. art. II, § 1, § 2, cl. 1; see Church Report, supra, at 279.

This power remained relatively untested until the seminal case United States v. U.S. District Court for Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division, 407 U.S. 297 (1972), also known as the Keith case. There, the government prosecuted three individuals for conspiring to bomb an office of the Central Intelligence Agency in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Keith defendants moved to compel the government to disclose electronic surveillance information the government collected without first getting a warrant. The attorney general argued the surveillance satisfied the Fourth Amendment because it was necessary “to gather intelligence information deemed necessary to protect the nation from attempts of domestic organizations to attack and subvert the existing structure of the Government.” Id. at 300. The Supreme Court found that the government must get a warrant before engaging in domestic surveillance, but limited its opinion to “domestic aspects of national security” and stated that it “express[ed] no opinion as to the issues which may be involved with respect to activities of foreign powers or their agents.” Id. at 321. Keith changed the landscape of domestic surveillance, but lower courts struggled to decide when surveillance required a warrant and when surveillance fell outside Keith’s holding; as a result, they increasingly invalidated surveillance. See Zweibon v. Mitchell, 516 F.2d 594, 651 (D.C. Cir. 1975).

Faced with this uncertainty and the revelations about warrantless surveillance, the Senate created the Church Committee to investigate the executive branch’s use of warrantless surveillance. The committee’s report provided revelations much like those that are coming to light today as a result of Edward Snowden’s leaks. The committee’s report, which is actually 14 separate reports regarding intelligence abuses, provides one of the most extensive, in-depth examinations of the use and abuse of surveillance powers in the United States. The Church Report revealed that from the early 1960s to 1972, the NSA targeted certain Americans’ international communications by placing their names on a watch list. It contended that intercepting these Americans’ communications was part of monitoring programs it was conducting against international communications channels. As is the case in news reports today, “to those Americans who have had their communications—sent with the expectation that they were private—intentionally intercepted and disseminated by their Government, the knowledge that NSA did not monitor specific communications channels solely to acquire their message is of little comfort.” Church Report, supra, at 735.

History tends to repeat itself. Today, newspapers have reported that the NSA engages in bulk telephone records surveillance using the “Business Records” provision in section 215 of FISA (50 U.S.C. § 1861). This bulk surveillance, however, isn’t anything new. The Church Report provides shockingly similar revelations about the NSA’s Operation SHAMROCK. Much like recent revelations about today’s bulk records collection, Operation SHAMROCK, which lasted all the way from August 1945 until May 1975, collected millions of telegrams leaving or transiting the United States and monitored certain telephone links between the United States and South America. As part of this monitoring, the NSA intercepted Americans’ international communications and disseminated those communications to other intelligence agencies. In doing so, the NSA “never informed the companies that it was analyzing and disseminating telegrams of Americans.” Unlike today, however, “the companies, who had feared in 1945 that their conduct might be illegal, apparently never sought assurances that NSA was limiting its use to the messages of foreign targets once the intercept program had begun.” Church Report, supra, at 740–41.

The NSA discontinued SHAMROCK in 1975, but it still incidentally collected Americans’ communications—much like it does (to a lesser extent) today. The Church Committee described the NSA’s “initial interception of a stream of communications” as “analogous to a vacuum cleaner.” “NSA picks up all communications carried over a specific link that it is monitoring. The combination of this technology and the use of words to select communications of interest results in NSA analysts reviewing the international messages of American citizens, groups, and organizations for foreign intelligence.” Id. at 741. This is eerily similar to the FISC’s description of bulk records collection as recently as October 2011, in which it stated “that NSA has acquired, is acquiring, and . . . will continue to acquire tens of thousands of wholly domestic communications,” Redacted, slip op. at 33 (FISA Ct. Oct. 3, 2011), because it intercepts all communications over certain Internet links it is monitoring and is “unable to exclude certain Internet transactions.” Id. at 30.

 

Purposes of FISA

That history tells us where FISA comes from and the problems Congress was trying to solve. Congress had two main goals: provide some oversight where there was none, and draw clear lines so that law enforcement would know when it could use foreign intelligence process and when it had to follow ordinary criminal process. To address these goals, FISA contains two important parts. First, it established a framework for judicial review by creating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review. It also created a new FISA process to replace criminal process such as warrants, subpoenas, surveillance orders, and pen register/trap and trace orders. The FISA versions of each of these has less stringent requirements for the government to satisfy than criminal process. See 50 U.S.C. § 1801–12 (electronic surveillance equivalent to Title III orders), 50 U.S.C. § 1821–29 (physical searches like search warrants), 50 U.S.C. § 1841–46 (pen registers and trap-and-trace devices), 50 U.S.C. § 1861–62 (business records like grand jury subpoenas).

Second, FISA addressed when law enforcement can and cannot use these FISA processes to conduct surveillance or gather evidence. As it was originally enacted, law enforcement could obtain FISA process, rather than criminal process, when the “primary purpose” of surveillance was to gather foreign intelligence information. At the same time, Congress explicitly excluded activities conducted abroad from FISA’s reach. It also did not provide protection for U.S. citizens when they left the United States. See H.R. Rep. No. 95–1283, at 51 (1978).

To fill in the gaps FISA left and to provide rules of executive branch intelligence agencies, President Reagan issued Executive Order 12,333, United States Intelligence Activities (46 Fed. Reg. 59,941 (Dec. 4, 1981)). That order (as amended) remains the basis for executive branch surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes. What is important is that the order sets forth procedures that apply where FISA did not, specifically for surveillance of United States persons located abroad. Id. § 2.5.

Foreign intelligence gathering continued under FISA and Executive Order 12,333 for nearly two decades without major revision or challenge, until the attacks of September 11, 2001. Following 9/11, Congress passed the USA Patriot Act, which amended FISA by expanding law enforcement authority and lowering the standards required to obtain surveillance authority. Pub. L. No. 107–56 (H.R. 3162), 115 Stat. 272 (2001). The act eliminated the “primary purpose” test and replaced it with a “significant purpose” test. Id. § 218. The “primary purpose” test led law enforcement to create a wall between agencies that engaged in criminal prosecutions (such as parts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice) and agencies that primarily engaged in foreign intelligence gathering (such as the NSA). One of the problems identified in the aftermath of 9/11 was a reluctance to share information because of this “primary purpose” rule—and the fear that doing so could put surveillance or criminal prosecutions at risk.

In a rare published decision (there have been only two), the FISCR upheld the “significant purpose” test in In re Sealed Case, 310 F.3d 717 (FISA Ct. Rev. 2002). The FISC court had found that the “significant purpose” standard was lower than the “primary purpose” standard but that the Fourth Amendment did not require more. The court concluded that the procedures and government showings required under FISA, even if they do not meet the warrant requirement, come close enough that FISA as amended by the Patriot Act meets the balancing test between Fourth Amendment rights and the need to protect against national security threats. In re Sealed Case would prove to be a launching point for reconciling FISA with the Fourth Amendment and for chipping away at the warrant requirement for foreign intelligence-gathering purposes.

In December 2005, a New York Times article revealed a warrantless domestic wiretapping program, the Terrorist Surveillance Program (TSP), in which the NSA was allowed to eavesdrop on communications where at least one party was not a United States person. According to reports, technical glitches resulted in some “purely domestic” communications being subject to surveillance. The surveillance was based on a 2002 executive order that allowed the NSA to monitor international email messages and international telephone calls transmitted by communications networks based in the United States—surveillance that was outside the scope of review in In re Sealed Case. That executive order claimed that FISA’s warrant requirements were implicitly superseded by the passage of the congressional resolution authorizing the use of military force against terrorists and that the president’s inherent authority under Article II of the Constitution to conduct foreign surveillance trumped FISA.

A group of plaintiffs sought to challenge the TSP in American Civil Liberties Union v. National Security Agency, 438 F. Supp. 2d 754 (E.D. Mich. 2006). The district court ruled that the surveillance violated the Fourth Amendment, finding that the TSP was implemented without regard to the Fourth Amendment or to FISA, and thus violated FISA, the standards of Title III, and the Fourth Amendment. On appeal, however, the Sixth Circuit dismissed the case, finding that the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the TSP because they had not alleged that they were the actual victims of warrantless surveillance. ACLU v. NSA, 493 F.3d 644 (6th Cir. 2007); see also Clapper v. Amnesty Int’l, 133 S. Ct. 1138 (2013).

The Protect America Act of 2007

Following the public outcry in response to the New York Times article and the ACLU decision, the Bush administration proposed the Protect America Act of 2007 (PAA), Pub. L. No. 110-55, 121 Stat. 552, which was designed to address surveillance of communications facilities located in the United States that transmit communications between individuals both of whom are located abroad. PAA § 105A. Again, just as in 1978, the government needed more guidance on when FISA applied and when the executive branch was free of its requirements. The PAA addressed a new problem: capturing wholly foreign communications on U.S. soil. In the past, to capture foreign communications between non-U.S. persons, the government simply implemented surveillance on foreign communications networks, which are not subject to restrictions imposed by the Fourth Amendment or any statute. Now that foreign communications could be transferred within the United States and the TSP’s constitutionality had been called into doubt, the intelligence community required a new tool to continue that surveillance. The PAA, by providing a number of procedures to conduct surveillance of targets outside the United States, and in an attempt to avoid resort to traditional warrants and Title III orders, implemented a system of internal controls at the NSA as well as overarching review of policies and procedures by the FISC. The PAA was a stopgap measure, to preserve some aspects of warrantless surveillance of foreign communications transmitted within the United States while Congress worked to overhaul FISA.

Notably, the PAA, like the Patriot Act, again changed the test of when the FISA process does and does not apply. The PAA changed the focus from the identity of the party targeted to whether a party was present in the United States. This change made it much simpler for the attorney general and the director of national intelligence to approve surveillance—rather than certifying that both parties to the communication were foreign powers or agents of foreign powers, they now only had to certify that the target of the surveillance was located outside the United States. Under the PAA, the director of national intelligence and the attorney general could permit, for up to one year, “the acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning persons reasonably believed to be outside the United States” if they determined that the acquisition met five specified criteria and the minimization procedures for that surveillance were approved by the FISC. PAA § 105B. In practical terms, the government could serve providers with orders that the FISC approved, and then name the targets of surveillance later.

One provider, Yahoo, challenged this in In re Directives [Redacted] Pursuant to Section 105B of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [Redacted], 551 F.3d 1004 (FISA Ct. Rev. 2008). In that case, the government revealed that it not only complied with the PAA but also voluntarily complied with Executive Order 12,333, 46 Fed. Reg. 59,941, 59,951 (Dec. 4, 1981), which taken together mean that the certifications at issue “permit surveillances conducted to obtain foreign intelligence for national security purposes when those surveillances are directed against foreign powers or agents of foreign powers reasonably believed to be located outside the United States.” In re Directives, 551 F.3d at 1008. The court upheld these warrantless searches, finding that because the purpose of the surveillance was to gather foreign intelligence information, it fell under a “foreign intelligence exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement” so long as it was directed against foreign powers or agents of foreign powers reasonably believed to be located outside the United states. Id. at 1012.

The court also found that the searches were reasonable because they complied with Executive Order 12,333, which required probable cause to believe that an individual is outside the United States and a finding that such surveillance was necessary, and which limited the duration of the surveillance and thus contained sufficient protections to avoid risk of mistake or executive branch misconduct.

The PAA was a stopgap measure and was eventually replaced by the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA), Pub. L. No. 110-261, § 403, 122 Stat. 2436, 2473. The FAA repealed the most troublesome provision of the PAA, which provided for warrantless surveillance of foreign intelligence targets “reasonably believed” to be outside the United States, even if they were U.S. persons, by adding a new section to FISA entitled “Additional Procedures Regarding Certain Persons Outside the United States.” Much of this section enshrines the protections present in Executive Order 12,333’s treatment of U.S. persons that the court relied on in In re Sealed Case and In re Directives to uphold the surveillance of United States persons located abroad.

The FAA again addressed the question of when FISA applies via a complicated web of procedures and processes for each category of target subject to surveillance: individuals outside the country that are not “U.S. Persons” (section 1881a), acquisitions inside the country targeting U.S. persons outside the country (section 1881b), and U.S. persons outside the country (section 1881c). Different processes are required for each type of target, but in a nutshell, U.S. persons receive slightly more protection. The most important change is that there is no prior judicial review of surveillance conducted in the United States that targets non-U.S. persons located outside the United States. FAA § 1881a. To conduct surveillance of U.S. persons outside the United States, however, the government must first obtain FISC approval of the particular targets. FAA § 1881b.

 

Time to Address Problems

FISA’s history and current events demonstrate that we are at a point in the cycle where it is again time to address the two basic questions: How do we provide oversight of intelligence-gathering activities? And when does this oversight apply? FISA, from a textual perspective, provides the government with far-reaching authority for surveillance and specific process for each type of surveillance it may want to conduct, but the public was relatively unaware of how the government used that authority until Edward Snowden leaked classified documents in late 2013 providing some detail on the NSA’s use of surveillance activities. In response, the government has begun declassifying a wealth of FISC decisions, letters to Congress, and other information regarding the NSA’s use of FISA authorities. A detailed analysis of these opinions could lead to a new report as voluminous as the Church Committee’s reports, but even a high-level analysis provides some context for moving forward.

The recently released opinions—such as Redacted, LEXIS 157706 (FISA Ct. Oct. 3, 2011), and Redacted II, LEXIS 157706 (FISA Ct. Nov. 30, 2011)—confirm what appeared to be the case in In re Directives, that the FISC has adopted an exception to the warrant requirement for foreign intelligence gathering—particularly where the government seeks communications that are not wholly domestic. In those cases, despite finding that the NSA knowingly collected wholly domestic communications that had nothing to do with foreign intelligence, the FISC generally approved most of the government’s targeting and minimization procedures. On a bad set of facts for the government, the FISC held that only a small part of the NSA’s surveillance program was unconstitutional and only because the NSA did not make enough of an effort to delete wrongly collected communications—a problem the NSA soon remedied. Redacted II, LEXIS 157705 (FISA Ct. Nov. 30, 2011).

The window left open in Keith seems to be closed. Similarly, the FISC has approved of the NSA’s “collect now, restrict searching later” approach to minimization. See In re Application of the F.B.I. for an Order Requiring the Production of Tangible Things from [Redacted], No. BR 13-109, LEXIS 134786 (FISA Ct. Sept. 13, 2013). In other words, the FISC has found no constitutional or statutory impediment to the government “over collecting” data—so long as it does not intentionally collect wholly domestic communications and it has minimization procedures to restrict access. There is no indication that the government has used its surveillance powers improperly (except in a limited number of circumstances attributable to NSA employee misconduct), but the FISC has not taken a robust view of the Fourth Amendment.

As was the case back in the late 1970s, the American public has reacted to executive surveillance activities—some of which are eerily similar to the NSA’s use of surveillance authority in the mid– to late 1970s. And as was the case in the late 1970s, it may again be time for Congress to take action. The problems remain quite similar to those Congress faced in 1978: provide oversight where there is none, or where it is inadequate, and make clear when the government can, and cannot, use different types of FISA process.

In late 2013, numerous members of Congress began proposing bills to reform FISA and provide new protections. See Mark M. Jaycox, “Cheat Sheet to Congress’ NSA Spying Bills,” Elec. Frontier Found. (Sept. 11, 2013), http://www.eff.org/deep links/2013/08/effs-cheat-sheet. Given the heated nature of the current debate, it is likely that the particular content of these bills will change daily, and summarizing their particularities is best left to blogs. Still, the bills generally fall into two categories: increasing transparency and restructuring the process. A few bills address bulk collection of records under section 215, but none takes a comprehensive approach to changing the question of when FISA applies and when it does not.

The current system of checks and balances under the FAA is simply not enough. It’s not because of a lack of desire by the providers to defend their users. Unlike the telephone and telegraph companies that did not act to end NSA spying in the Operation SHAMROCK era, providers today are taking a much more active role in the process. Yahoo challenged the FISA process in 2008, interest groups have filed actions seeking information about surveillance practices, and now providers have brought declaratory judgment actions seeking to reveal more information about surveillance process they receive.

One of the pending bills, Senator Blumenthal’s FISA Court Reform Act of 2013, Senate Bill 1460 and Senate Bill 1467, provides an answer that, having had the experience of litigating before the FISC myself, I believe could provide much needed improvements. That bill provides for a new Office of the Special Advocate, which introduces an adversary to the court. (This is similar to the public privacy advocate that President Obama recently proposed.) The act attempts to solve a basic problem with the current oversight procedures: There is no true adversarial process for most of the legal issues that arise. The newly declassified opinions the director of national intelligence has released make this abundantly clear. Setting aside the legal arguments, the procedural history of the opinions indicates delays on the government’s part, a lack of supervision after the court issues its orders, and a preference for secrecy over public disclosure at any cost. Appointing a special advocate ad litem for the public would ensure that novel legal arguments in the FISA court would face a consistent, steady challenge no matter who the provider is, thereby strengthening the FISA process by subjecting results to checks and balances.

Without such a process, the court and the Department of Justice must work through difficult legal issues with no balancing input. An advocate could participate in all cases involving a new statute or authority or a new interpretation or application of an existing authority. The special advocate could choose the cases in which to be involved, or the court or a provider that receives process could request its involvement where an opposition would be useful to test and evaluate the government’s legal arguments. The special advocate’s office could be established with proper security safeguards to draft, store, and access classified records more efficiently. It could also be required to report to the public and Congress the number of cases it has argued and how often it has limited or pared back the government’s requests. It would provide a vital counterpoint for legislators exercising their oversight duties.

The special advocate would be especially useful in cases in which the government demands access to communications in a way that may have a profound effect on people other than the target, such as when decryption may be involved or when a provider is asked to provide assistance in ways that are unlike traditional wiretaps.

Providing for an advocate in front of the court would also resolve several problems for companies and individuals faced with receiving FISA process or having evidence gathered using that process used against them. The statutory process as it stands now does not necessarily provide for complete transparency or a level playing field for the provider. As the published decision in In re Directives makes clear, a phalanx of 11 government lawyers, including the acting solicitor general of the United States, was involved in defending the statute. The decision also shows that some of the documents relied on by the court of review were classified procedures submitted as part of an ex parte appendix that remains sealed. 551 F.3d at 1013–14.

If an advocate were present in other matters before the FISC, the government and court would be more likely to provide more public information on what challenges have and have not been successful. Public access would also provide litigators with a much greater opportunity to use those challenges in advising and defending their clients. The FISC’s decisions may or may not have been correct, depending on your view, but the secrecy employed up to this point erodes the safeguards built into our adversarial court system. The presence of an advocate would help to ensure that the government cannot continue to keep new opinions classified, unless it is truly in the interest of national security to do so.

Revising FISA is no easy task, and analyzing and responding to the FISA process presents thorny questions. There is one constant throughout the history of surveillance, as was the case in the Church Report and as is the case today with news reports about NSA surveillance: The government will use the surveillance power it is given to its fullest. This article does not opine on when that is and is not appropriate. America’s long history of surveillance and current events demonstrate a need to revise the process and take a hard look at whether courts have the tools to oversee executive branch surveillance and when the executive branch should be allowed to use foreign intelligence procedures. Introducing an advocate to test the government’s theories and surveillance in every case—even the ones it brings ex parte—would go a long way toward ensuring that the American public is not shocked again.

https://www.americanbar.org/publications/litigation_journal/2013-14/spring/fisa_authority_and_blanket_surveillance_gatekeeper_without_opposition.html

Meet Executive Order 12333: The Reagan rule that lets the NSA spy on Americans

July 18, 2014

John Napier Tye served as section chief for Internet freedom in the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor from January 2011 to April 2014. He is now a legal director of Avaaz, a global advocacy organization.

In March I received a call from the White House counsel’s office regarding a speech I had prepared for my boss at the State Department. The speech was about the impact that the disclosure of National Security Agency surveillance practices would have on U.S. Internet freedom policies. The draft stated that “if U.S. citizens disagree with congressional and executive branch determinations about the proper scope of signals intelligence activities, they have the opportunity to change the policy through our democratic process.”

But the White House counsel’s office told me that no, that wasn’t true. I was instructed to amend the line, making a general reference to “our laws and policies,” rather than our intelligence practices. I did.

Even after all the reforms President Obama has announced, some intelligence practices remain so secret, even from members of Congress, that there is no opportunity for our democracy to change them.

Public debate about the bulk collection of U.S. citizens’ data by the NSA has focused largely on Section 215 of the Patriot Act, through which the government obtains court orders to compel American telecommunications companies to turn over phone data. But Section 215 is a small part of the picture and does not include the universe of collection and storage of communications by U.S. persons authorized under Executive Order 12333.

From 2011 until April of this year, I worked on global Internet freedom policy as a civil servant at the State Department. In that capacity, I was cleared to receive top-secret and “sensitive compartmented” information. Based in part on classified facts that I am prohibited by law from publishing, I believe that Americans should be even more concerned about the collection and storage of their communications under Executive Order 12333 than under Section 215.

Bulk data collection that occurs inside the United States contains built-in protections for U.S. persons, defined as U.S. citizens, permanent residents and companies. Such collection must be authorized by statute and is subject to oversight from Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The statutes set a high bar for collecting the content of communications by U.S. persons. For example, Section 215 permits the bulk collection only of U.S. telephone metadata — lists of incoming and outgoing phone numbers — but not audio of the calls.

Executive Order 12333 contains no such protections for U.S. persons if the collection occurs outside U.S. borders. Issued by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 to authorize foreign intelligence investigations, 12333 is not a statute and has never been subject to meaningful oversight from Congress or any court. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has said that the committee has not been able to “sufficiently” oversee activities conducted under 12333.

Unlike Section 215, the executive order authorizes collection of the content of communications, not just metadata, even for U.S. persons. Such persons cannot be individually targeted under 12333 without a court order. However, if the contents of a U.S. person’s communications are “incidentally” collected (an NSA term of art) in the course of a lawful overseas foreign intelligence investigation, then Section 2.3(c) of the executive order explicitly authorizes their retention. It does not require that the affected U.S. persons be suspected of wrongdoing and places no limits on the volume of communications by U.S. persons that may be collected and retained.

“Incidental” collection may sound insignificant, but it is a legal loophole that can be stretched very wide. Remember that the NSA is building a data center in Utah five times the size of the U.S. Capitol building, with its own power plant that will reportedly burn $40 million a year in electricity.

“Incidental collection” might need its own power plant.

A legal regime in which U.S. citizens’ data receives different levels of privacy and oversight, depending on whether it is collected inside or outside U.S. borders, may have made sense when most communications by U.S. persons stayed inside the United States. But today, U.S. communications increasingly travel across U.S. borders — or are stored beyond them. For example, the Google and Yahoo e-mail systems rely on networks of “mirror” servers located throughout the world. An e-mail from New York to New Jersey is likely to wind up on servers in Brazil, Japan and Britain. The same is true for most purely domestic communications.

Executive Order 12333 contains nothing to prevent the NSA from collecting and storing all such communications — content as well as metadata — provided that such collection occurs outside the United States in the course of a lawful foreign intelligence investigation. No warrant or court approval is required, and such collection never need be reported to Congress. None of the reforms that Obama announced earlier this year will affect such collection.

Without any legal barriers to such collection, U.S. persons must increasingly rely on the affected companies to implement security measures to keep their communications private. The executive order does not require the NSA to notify or obtain consent of a company before collecting its users’ data.

The attorney general, rather than a court, must approve “minimization procedures” for handling the data of U.S. persons that is collected under 12333, to protect their rights. I do not know the details of those procedures. But the director of national intelligence recently declassified a document (United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18) showing that U.S. agencies may retain such data for five years.

Before I left the State Department, I filed a complaint with the department’s inspector general, arguing that the current system of collection and storage of communications by U.S. persons under Executive Order 12333 violates the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. I have also brought my complaint to the House and Senate intelligence committees and to the inspector general of the NSA.

I am not the first person with knowledge of classified activities to publicly voice concerns about the collection and retention of communications by U.S. persons under 12333. The president’s own Review Group on Intelligence and Communication Technologies, in Recommendation 12 of its public report, addressed the matter. But the review group coded its references in a way that masked the true nature of the problem.

At first glance, Recommendation 12 appears to concern Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, which authorizes collection inside the United States against foreign targets outside the United States. Although the recommendation does not explicitly mention Executive Order 12333, it does refer to “any other authority.” A member of the review group confirmed to me that this reference was written deliberately to include Executive Order 12333.

Recommendation 12 urges that all data of U.S. persons incidentally collected under such authorities be immediately purged unless it has foreign intelligence value or is necessary to prevent serious harm. The review group further recommended that a U.S. person’s incidentally collected data never be used in criminal proceedings against that person, and that the government refrain from searching communications by U.S. persons unless it obtains a warrant or unless such searching is necessary to prevent serious harm.

The White House understood that Recommendation 12 was intended to apply to 12333. That understanding was conveyed to me verbally by several White House staffers, and was confirmed in an unclassified White House document that I saw during my federal employment and that is now in the possession of several congressional committees.

In that document, the White House stated that adoption of Recommendation 12 would require “significant changes” to current practice under Executive Order 12333 and indicated that it had no plans to make such changes.

All of this calls into question some recent administration statements. Gen. Keith Alexander, a former NSA director, has said publicly that for years the NSA maintained a U.S. person e-mail metadata program similar to the Section 215 telephone metadata program. And he has maintained that the e-mail program was terminated in 2011 because “we thought we could better protect civil liberties and privacy by doing away with it.” Note, however, that Alexander never said that the NSA stopped collecting such data — merely that the agency was no longer using the Patriot Act to do so. I suggest that Americans dig deeper.

Consider the possibility that Section 215 collection does not represent the outer limits of collection on U.S. persons but rather is a mechanism to backfill that portion of U.S. person data that cannot be collected overseas under 12333.

Proposals for replacing Section 215 collection are currently being debated in Congress. We need a similar debate about Executive Order 12333. The order as used today threatens our democracy. There is no good reason that U.S. citizens should receive weaker privacy and oversight protections simply because their communications are collected outside, not inside, our borders.

I have never made any unauthorized disclosures of classified information, nor would I ever do so. I fully support keeping secret the targets, sources and methods of U.S. intelligence as crucial elements of national security. I was never a disgruntled federal employee; I loved my job at the State Department. I left voluntarily and on good terms to take a job outside of government. A draft of this article was reviewed and cleared by the State Department and the NSA to ensure that it contained no classified material.

When I started at the State Department, I took an oath to protect the Constitution of the United States. I don’t believe that there is any valid interpretation of the Fourth Amendment that could permit the government to collect and store a large portion of U.S. citizens’ online communications, without any court or congressional oversight, and without any suspicion of wrongdoing. Such a legal regime risks abuse in the long run, regardless of whether one trusts the individuals in office at a particular moment.

I am coming forward because I think Americans deserve an honest answer to the simple question: What kind of data is the NSA collecting on millions, or hundreds of millions, of Americans?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/meet-executive-order-12333-the-reagan-rule-that-lets-the-nsa-spy-on-americans/2014/07/18/93d2ac22-0b93-11e4-b8e5-d0de80767fc2_story.html?utm_term=.0be4d4e8beac

A Primer on Executive Order 12333: The Mass Surveillance Starlet

JUNE 2, 2014

Many news reports have focused on Section 215 of the Patriot Act (used to collect all Americans’ calling records) and Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act (FAA) (used to collect phone calls, emails and other Internet content) as the legal authorities supporting much of the NSA’s spying regime. Both laws were passed by Congress and are overseen by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA court). However, it’s likely that the NSA conducts much more of its spying under the President’s claimed inherent powers and only governed by a document originally approved by President Reagan titled Executive Order 12333. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is currently conducting a secret investigation into the order, but Congress as a whole—including the Judiciary committee—must release more information about the order to the public.

EO 12333 was first written in 1981 in the wake of Watergate and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, an act passed by Congress that regulates spying conducted on people located within the United States. Since FISA only covers specific types of spying, the President maintains that the executive branch remains free to spy abroad on foreigners with little to no regulation by Congress.

Executive Order 12333

The Executive Order does three things: it outlines what it governs, when the agencies can spy, and how they can spy. In broad strokes, the Executive Order mandates rules for spying on United States persons (a term that includes citizens and lawful permanent residents wherever they may be) and on anyone within the United States. It also directs the Attorney General and others to create further policies and procedures for what information can be collected, retained, and shared.

The first section of the order covers the role of every agency conducting intelligence in the Intelligence Community, which includes seventeen different agencies, including well-known entities like the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the NSA, and lesser-known entities like the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence in the Department of Treasury. The roles vary by agency. For instance, the NSA is, among other things, responsible for “collection, processing and dissemination of signals intelligence,” while the CIA is responsible for “national foreign intelligence.

The Information Collected

The Executive Order purports to cover all types of spying conducted with the President’s constitutional powers—including mass spying. That’s important to note because some of the spying conducted under EO 12333 is reportedly similar to the mass spying conducted under Section 702 of the FAA. Under this type of spying, millions of innocent foreigners’ communications are collected abroad, inevitably containing Americans’ communications. In the Section 702 context, this includes techniques like Prism and Upstream. While we don’t know for sure, the Executive Order probably uses similar techniques or piggybacks off of programs used for Section 702 spying.

The second section of the EO partly covers mass spying by establishing what information intelligence agencies can collect, retain, and share about US persons. The current guidelines, the United States Signals Intelligence Directive SP0018, also known as “USSID 18,” are (just like the “minimization procedures” based off of them) littered with loopholes to over-collect, over-retain, and over-share Americans’ communications—all without a probable cause warrant or any judicial oversight.

Defenders (.pdf) of the mass spying conducted under the Executive Order point out the order “protects” such US person information with guidelines like USSID 18, but such protections are window-dressing, at best. Policies like USSID 18 and other accompanying Executive Order guidelines such as the “Special Procedures Governing Communications Metadata Analysis” allow for extensive use of US person information and data without a probable cause warrant. Indeed, news reports and Congressional testimony confirm the “Special Procedures” are used to map Americans’ social networks. The procedures are clear evidence the government believes that Fourth Amendment’s protections stop at the border.

Uses of Executive Order 12333

We do know a little about the spying conducted using EO 12333, but more must be revealed to the public. One early news report revealed it was the NSA’s claimed authority for the collection of Americans’ address books and buddy lists. It’s also involved in the NSA’s elite hacking unit, the Tailored Access Operations unit, which targets system administrators and installs malware while masquerading as Facebook servers. And in March, the Washington Postrevealed the order alone—without any court oversight—is used to justify the recording of “100 percent of a foreign country’s telephone calls.” The NSA’s reliance on the order for foreign spying includes few, if any, Congressional limits or oversight. Some of the only known limits on Executive spying are found in Executive procedures like USSID 18, the metadata procedures discussed above, and probably other still-classified National Security Policy Directives, none of which have been publicly debated much less approved by Congress or the courts.

The extent of the NSA’s reliance on Executive Order 12333 demands that the government release more information about how the order is used, or misused. And Congress—specifically the Judiciary and Intelligence committees—must reassert the same aggressive and diligent oversight they performed in the 1970s and 1980s.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/06/primer-executive-order-12333-mass-surveillance-starlet

Maintaining America’s Ability to Collect Foreign Intelligence: The Section 702 Program

May 13, 2016 21 min read Download Report

Authors:Paul Rosenzweig, Charles Stimson andDavid Shedd

Select a Section 1/0

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) will, in its current form, come up for reauthorization in 2017. Broadly speaking, the Section 702 program targets non-U.S. persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States, in order to acquire foreign intelligence. Over the past several years, this surveillance of the online activities of foreigners has been a critical and invaluable tool for American intelligence professionals and officials. Knowledgeable officials note that more than 25 percent of all current U.S. intelligence is based on information collected under Section 702.[1]

Still, there are those who have concerns about the program. These critics believe that the program, as currently implemented, infringes on Americans’ rights. Their concern hinges on the inevitable reality that in the course of collecting information about foreign actors, the Section 702 program will also collect information about American citizens. As a result, some opponents liken the Section 702 program to the government telephony metadata program disclosed by Edward Snowden, and characterize Section 702 as an instance of government overreach.[2] Such comparisons are misguided and unfair. The program is so vital to America’s national security that Congress should reauthorize Section 702 in its current form.

Section 702 Explained

Section 702 has its origins in President George W. Bush’s terrorist surveillance program and the Patriot Act. That program was initiated in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks, on the President’s own authority. That reliance on exclusive presidential authority contributed to the controversy that initially attended the program—some vocal critics saw it as an example of executive overreach.

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That aspect of the criticism was significantly ameliorated, if not eliminated, several years later, when Congress fully discussed and authorized the activities in question. Indeed, the governing law was adopted and amended twice, after the program had been initiated on the President’s own authority. First, Congress adopted a temporary measure known as the Protect America Act in 2007.[3] Then, it passed the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) in 2008. This is the statute that includes the new Section 702.[4]

Under Section 702, the U.S. Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) may jointly authorize surveillance of people who are not “U.S. persons.” U.S. persons is a term of art in the intelligence community (IC) that means people who are not only American citizens but also covers permanent-resident aliens. As such, the targets of Section 702 surveillance can be neither citizens nor permanent residents of the U.S.

Section 702 authorizes the government to acquire foreign intelligence by targeting non-U.S. persons “reasonably believed” to be outside U.S. borders. Taken together, these two requirements identify the fundamental domain of Section 702 surveillance: it applies to foreigners on foreign soil. It is expressly against the law to attempt collection of information from targets inside the U.S.—whether Americans or foreigners—or to deliberately target the collection of online communications of American citizens.[5]

The law also requires the government to develop “targeting procedures”—the steps the government needs to take in order to ensure that the target is outside the United States at any time that electronic surveillance is undertaken. Obviously, that is sometimes difficult. A cell phone number, for instance, remains the same whether the phone is physically overseas or in the U.S., and the fact that someone has a U.S. cell phone number does not necessarily indicate whether the owner or user of that cell phone is a foreigner or an American. Hence, targeting must be tied to the geolocation of a phone and some knowledge about the owner/user, rather than solely to the phone’s number. Ultimately, it is the targeting procedures, not the targets themselves, that must be approved by the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).[6]

To conduct this surveillance, the government can compel assistance from Internet service providers (ISPs) and telephone companies in acquiring foreign intelligence information—that is, information relating to a foreign espionage program or international terrorism. The government often compensates these providers for the necessary effort. According to The Washington Post, the payments range from $250 million to nearly $400 million annually.[7] Some critics of the program suspect that as a result, surveillance turns from a legal obligation to a source of income. Finally, it is important to note that not only regulated carriers, such as traditional cable and telephone companies (such as AT&T or Verizon), are required to participate, but also newer technology companies to include Google, Facebook, and Skype.

The Incidental Collection Issue

If that were all that the 702 program involved, it would likely not be particularly controversial. Few Americans have expressed grave concerns about America’s overseas intelligence collection. Significantly, the 702 program cannot be used to target any U.S. person or any person located in the U.S., whether that person is an American or a foreigner. The government is also prohibited from “reverse targeting” under 702—that is, the government cannot target a non-U.S. person outside the U.S. when the real interest is to collect the communications of a person in the U.S. or of any U.S. person, regardless of location.

But a residual issue arises because of the inevitability of inadvertent collection—the incidental collection of information about Americans as part of the authorized collection of foreign intelligence.

To see why this happens, one needs to understand two distinct aspects of the Section 702 program: one portion that goes by the name of PRISM, and another that is referred to colloquially as “upstream collection.”[8]

PRISM collection is relatively straightforward. A hypothetical can explain: The government has information about a particular e-mail address, or a particular individual, linking it or him to a foreign terrorist organization. That address (john.doe@xyz.com) or that individual’s name (John Doe) is known as a “selector”; it is a basis for sifting through vast quantities of data, and selecting what will be collected and analyzed.

The Attorney General and the DNI certify the selector as relating to a non-U.S. person who is outside the United States, and who is reasonably believed to be connected to a foreign intelligence activity. Then, the National Security Agency (NSA) sends a query about that selector to an ISP. The ISP, in turn, is required to hand over to the government any communications it might have that were sent to—or from—the identified selector. The NSA receives all data collected through PRISM, and makes portions of it available to the CIA and the FBI.

Upstream collection, by contrast, does not focus on the ISP. Instead, it focuses on the “backbone,” through which all telephone and Internet communications travel, which lies “upstream” within the telecommunications infrastructure. For example, an individual’s ISP might be a local company, while the backbone that carries its Internet traffic across the ocean to Europe is almost certainly operated by a larger provider, such as Verizon or AT&T.

There are several additional differences that distinguish upstream collection from PRISM. Most notably, upstream collection can involve “about” communications. “About” communications refer to selectors that occur within the content of the monitored communication, instead of, in the example of e-mail, in the “To” or “From” line.

So, if the government were using a name—John Doe—as a selector, under the upstream collection program, it would also collect foreign intelligence–related communications in which that name appeared in the body of the communication. Say, for example, that two al-Qaeda members are communicating via e-mail, and one says to the other: “We should recruit Doe.” That e-mail would be subject to upstream collection and would be a good example of an “about” communication. The e-mail is about Doe. Under the PRISM program, by contrast, the government would collect e-mails to and from the user name, and nothing more.

As should be evident, in some cases, these programs might result unintentionally in the collection of information about an American. If two Americans are communicating domestically in an exchange that names a foreign intelligence target (say, an e-mail that mentions an al-Qaeda operative by name), that e-mail might be incidentally collected by upstream collection. Likewise, an e-mail between two terrorist targets might be collected that incidentally includes information not only about legitimately identified U.S. persons (the recruit target John Doe), but also others. An e-mail might also mention Mary Doe—even though no evidence exists of any connection between Mary Doe and a foreign intelligence matter.

This prospect of collecting American data led Congress to include certain requirements that would reduce, though not entirely eliminate, the possibility that the data could be misused. Under the FAA, when information is collected about an American, whether incidentally as part of an authorized investigation, or inadvertently as the result of a mistake, the government is required to apply FISC-approved “minimization” procedures to determine whether such information may be retained or disseminated.

When lawyers and intelligence professionals use the word “minimization” in the context of intelligence collection, it means that any information inadvertently collected on a U.S. person is retained (if at all) only for a limited time, and that information about Americans is used and revealed and further disseminated only under narrowly defined circumstances. Minimization requirements may also mean deleting the information entirely. As with the targeting procedures, these minimization procedures are approved by the FISC—but again, the approval is for the entire system of minimization, not for each individual case.

So, for example, under these minimization rules, the NSA, CIA, and FBI are subject to certain limitations in how they are permitted to query and analyze the data they have lawfully collected. For example, they must demonstrate a reasonable likelihood that targeting a particular item in the information collected will result in the development of foreign intelligence. In other words, the rules limit when a U.S. person can be targeted for examination, and how long data about an American can be retained before it is deleted.

The Effectiveness of Section 702

With that background in mind, it is useful to turn to more practical questions about the program: Does it work? Is it being abused?

The public record suggests that the Section 702 program has indeed helped in the fight against terrorism. Classified records might provide additional support for this conclusion but they are unavailable to us.[9] The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB)—a bipartisan panel in the executive branch that reviews actions the executive branch takes to protect the country from terrorism, and also monitors civil liberty concerns—has reported that more than one-quarter of NSA reports on international terrorism include information that is based in whole, or in part, on data collected under the Section 702 program.

The PCLOB found that the 702 program “makes a substantial contribution to the government’s efforts to learn about the membership, goals, and activities of international terrorist organizations, and to prevent acts of terrorism from coming to fruition.”[10] Additionally, the program has “led the government to identify previously unknown individuals who are involved in international terrorism, and it has played a key role in discovering and disrupting specific terrorist plots aimed at the United States and other countries.”[11]

Although the details supporting these findings are classified, the board has also said that the program has played a role in discovering, and disrupting, specific terrorist plots aimed at the United States by enabling the government to identify previously unidentified individuals involved in international terrorism.[12] Additionally, the U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) has posted three declassified examples from the NSA that involved the effective use of Section 702 collection in 2009: the New York City Subway Attack Plot; the Chicago Terror Investigation; and Operation Wi-Fi.

A few critics of the 702 program have disputed its actual impact in the New York City Subway Attack Plot and the Chicago Terror Investigation. TheGuardian interviewed several people who were involved in the two investigations and reviewed U.S. and British court documents.[13] Based on this incomplete record, The Guardian concluded that these investigations began with “conventional” surveillance methods—such as “old-fashioned tip-offs” of the British intelligence services—rather than from leads produced by NSA surveillance.

But the fact remains that current and former intelligence officials, members from both political parties across two Administrations, national security law experts in the private sector, and the PCLOB maintain that 702 has been and continues to be a very important intelligence tool for overseas intelligence collection.

Section 702 Criticisms v. Facts

Some of the criticisms of Section 702 are little more than philosophical objections to the concept of overseas surveillance.

Setting aside those concerns, there are other specific criticisms, each of which lacks merit. For example, there has been criticism that there is no significant publicly available data on how little, or how much, incidental collection there is about U.S. persons. Such data would be helpful to know in assessing the program. According to the PCLOB, in 2013 the NSA approved 198 U.S. person identifiers to be used as content query terms. The real issue is the frequency with which U.S. persons’ information was collected incidentally to the general foreign intelligence mission, and what is done with the information. After all, if the volume of incidental collection even remotely came close to what is collected as useful data on terrorism activities, including threats, skepticism about Section 702’s efficacy would be warranted.

Given that the targets of Section 702 collection are non-U.S. persons reasonably believed to be located overseas, it can reasonably be inferred that the predominant portion of the collected data does not contain U.S. person information. Although it would be useful to have an accurate estimate of how much incidental U.S. person information actually resides within the remaining portion of the data collected under the Section 702 program, it has proved very difficult to find any solution that would provide such an estimate. The first problem is that the collected data is often not readily identifiable as being associated with a U.S. person and would require the application of additional scarce technological and analytic resources in an effort to make those associations. The second problem is that the targets of the Section 702 collection efforts do not always communicate with persons of foreign intelligence interest. Ironically, an effort to ascertain an accurate estimate of non-pertinent U.S. person information lying dormant in the collected data is inconsistent with the purpose of Section 702, which is to identify foreign intelligence information. Such an effort to provide an estimate would result in more invasive review of U.S. person information.

FISA itself takes a more practical approach in attempting to understand the potential U.S. person privacy implications raised by Section 702 collection. It requires the head of each element of the Intelligence Community to conduct an annual review and to provide an accounting of the references to U.S. persons in intelligence reporting.[14] This outcome-based approach focuses on the U.S. person information that is actually being seen by the Intelligence Community, in order to assess whether there is any prejudicial impact on privacy rights. Also, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) recently released its “Statistical Transparency Report Regarding Use of National Security Authorities–Annual Statistics for Calendar Year 2015.”[15] The report estimates that 94,368 non-U.S. persons are targets of Section 702 collection. By comparison, the report estimates that the IC used 4,672 known U.S. person search terms in 23,800 queries of the lawfully collected Section 702 data. The report also notes that in 2015, the NSA disseminated 4,290 Section 702 intelligence reports that included U.S. person information. Of those reports, the U.S. person information was masked in 3,168 reports and unmasked in 1,122 reports. The remaining major criticisms of the 702 program are more systematic and definitional. One critique is that the government uses too broad a means in its first stage of collection, which is then followed by a more refined collection of data.[16] Judge Thomas F. Hogan of the FISC has described the program more accurately: “While in absolute terms, the scope of acquisition under Section 702 is substantial, the acquisitions are not conducted in a bulk or indiscriminate manner. Rather they are effected through…discrete targeting decisions for individual selectors.”[17]

Another complaint about the Section 702 program is that U.S. person data is retained—at least partially—at all. Under current rules, when the U.S. government targets someone abroad, it is not required to discard the incidentally collected communications of U.S. persons—if authorities conclude that those conversations constitute foreign intelligence.

In that event, even incidental conversations by or about U.S. persons may be retained. And the threshold for querying a U.S. person within the data collected is relatively low. To affirmatively query the data collected about a U.S. person, all that is needed is a determination that the search is reasonably likely to return foreign intelligence information. “Reasonably likely” is an especially easy standard to meet. It does not, for example, require any particularized suspicion that the U.S. person who is subject of the inquiry is engaged in any wrongdoing himself.

For that reason, a Presidential Review Board, as well a few Members of Congress, believe that Section 702 collection on Americans goes too far.[18] The program, they argue, is permissible and lawful without individual case supervision or a warrant requirement precisely because it targets non-Americans. So they contend that when the communications of U.S. persons are queried, probable cause and warrant requirements should apply. Any loophole that allows that particular querying should be closed because the government should not be able to obtain “back door” evidence against U.S. persons that it could otherwise only obtain with judicial approval.

But there is no “back door” here—a query does not collect any additional data. The FISC specifically holds that the 702 collection is constitutional and entirely consistent with the Fourth Amendment’s protections. The court found that “the querying provisions of the FBI Minimization Procedures strike a reasonable balance between the privacy interests of U.S. persons and persons in the United States, on the one hand, and the government’s national security interests, on the other.”[19] Even the fact that the “FBI’s use of those provisions to conduct queries designed to return evidence of crimes unrelated to foreign intelligence” did “not preclude the Court from concluding that taken together, the targeting and minimization procedures submitted with the 2015 Certifications are consistent with the requirements of the Fourth Amendment.”[20]

Obviously, Congress itself did not agree with these systematic and definitional complaints. While the focus of Section 702 collection is on non-U.S. persons located overseas, one of the specifically intended benefits of Section 702 was its ability to provide tip and lead information about persons in the United States who might be conspiring with overseas terrorists. This limited information might prove useful in helping to establish the probable cause necessary to obtain full surveillance coverage of these domestic suspects. It is also important to understand that the response to complaints about the theoretical possibility of abuse under FISA revolves around tight controls. The PCLOB found little evidence of abuse of the Section 215 metadata program, and in the case of Section 702 implementation found virtually no intentional misuse of the collection authorities where U.S. persons were concerned:

Over the years, a series of compliance issues were brought to the attention of the FISA court by the government. However, none of these compliance issues involved significant intentional misuse of the system. Nor has the Board seen any evidence of bad faith or misconduct on the part of any government officials or agents involved with the program. Rather, the compliance issues were recognized by the [FISA] court—and are recognized by the Board—as a product of the program’s technological complexity and vast scope, illustrating the risks inherent in such a program.[21]

Similarly, the PCLOB included a section in its 702 report called “Compliance Issues.” According to the PCLOB, the few instances of error in the administration of the 702 program were infrequent and mainly minor and administrative in nature. That is why the PCLOB found that “internal and external compliance programs have not to date identified any intentional attempts to circumvent or violate the procedures or the statutory requirements, but both unintentional incidents of noncompliance and instances where Intelligence Community personnel did not fully understand the requirements of the statute.”[22]

In other words, all of the errors in the program were accidental or due to mistakes. None was the product of intentional misconduct. Indeed, the non-compliance incident rate has been substantially below 1 percent, according to the PCLOB.[23] Over half of the reported incidents involved instances in which the “NSA otherwise complied with the targeting and minimization procedures in tasking and de-tasking a selector, but failed to make a report to the NSD and ODNI” in a timely fashion.[24]

Two other common reasons why compliance errors occurred are that: (1) the wrong selector was tasked due to a typographical error, or (2) a delay in de-tasking (removing the selector) resulted when an analyst de-tasked some, but not all, of the Section 702-tasked selectors placed on a non-U.S. person target known to be traveling to the United States.[25]

Taken together, these minor administrative errors accounted for “almost 75% of the compliance incidents,” according to the PCLOB.[26]

Section 702: Constitutional and Lawful

One last aspect of Section 702 needs to be addressed: the suggestion that the program might in some way be unconstitutional or unlawful. This Backgrounder concludes that relevant case law firmly supports the constitutionality and legality of the Section 702 program. To support this conclusion, we provide a brief history of relevant case law.

The predicate case is United States v. United States District Court,[27] sometimes known as the Keith case, after Judge Damon Keith, the federal district court judge who oversaw the case.

The case hearkens back to an era of protest and civil unrest in the United States. It involved several leaders of the so-called White Panther Party—a white supremacist group—who were charged with bombing a CIA office in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1968. Their phones were wiretapped by order of U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell, who served under President Richard Nixon. Mitchell said that no warrant was required to authorize the interception, because the defendants posed a “clear and present danger to the structure or existence of the government.”

Judge Keith responded that the Attorney General’s rationale was insufficient, and ruled that warrantless interception and surveillance of domestic conversations was unconstitutional. When the case reached the Supreme Court, the justices agreed with Judge Keith, establishing as precedent the idea that a warrant was needed before electronic surveillance commenced, even if the domestic surveillance was related to national security.

As Justice Lewis Powell said in writing for the Court, the “price of lawful public dissent must not be a dread of subjection to an unchecked surveillance power.” Justice Powell continued, “Nor must the fear of un-authorized official eavesdropping deter vigorous citizen dissent and discussion of government action in private conversation. For private dissent, no less than open public discourse, is essential to our free society.”

Notably, however, the Court limited its holding to domestic surveillance, and said that different rules might apply when the surveillance occurred outside the United States, or was directed at a foreign power—or at non-Americans. Regarding surveillance of non-Americans overseas, courts around the country have agreed with the implicit suggestion of the Supreme Court, holding that surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes need only be reasonable (and that a warrant is not required).[28] That distinction—between domestic and foreign surveillance—is preserved in FISA, which allows more relaxed FISA procedures (for which a criminal warrant was not required) only when the purpose of the investigation is to collect foreign intelligence.

In Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton, the Supreme Court upheld the drug testing of high school athletes and explained that the exception to the warrant requirement applied “when special needs, beyond the normal need for law enforcement, make the warrant and probable cause requirements impracticable.”[29] Although Vernonia was not a foreign intelligence case—far from it—the principles from the Court’s “special needs” cases influenced later cases in the national security context.

In “In re: Sealed Case,” the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review held that FISA did not require the government to demonstrate to the FISA court that its primary purpose in conducting electronic surveillance was not criminal prosecution and, significantly, the PATRIOT Act’s amendment to FISA, permitting the government to conduct surveillance of agents of foreign powers if foreign intelligence was the “significant purpose” of the surveillance, did not violate the Fourth Amendment.[30] The court avoided an express holding that a foreign intelligence exception exists, but held that FISA could survive on reasonableness grounds.

In 2008, “In re: Directives Pursuant to Section 105B of FISA” applied the principles derived from the special needs cases to conclude that the foreign intelligence surveillance authorized by the Protect America Act possesses characteristics that qualify it for a foreign intelligence exception to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment.[31]

Notably, the “In re: Directives” decision cites a Fourth Circuit opinion for the proposition that there is a high degree of probability that requiring a warrant would hinder the government’s ability to collect time-sensitive information and thus impede vital national security interests.[32]

In April 2016, the first decision addressing the constitutionality of upstream collection under Section 702 was publicly released. The FISA court issued a declassified opinion[33] in which it concluded that use of information collected under Section 702 authority for domestic investigations satisfied both constitutional standards and was within the statutory bounds of the FISA Amendments Act. Notably, for purposes of this discussion, the court reached this conclusion after having had the benefit of a public advocate who articulated a position contrary to that of the government.[34] Judge Hogan cites “In re: Directives” in support of the proposition that the Fourth Amendment does not require the government to obtain a warrant to conduct surveillance in order “to obtain foreign intelligence for national security purposes [that] is directed against foreign powers or agents of foreign powers reasonably believed to be located outside of the United States.”

Section 702: Continuing Improvements

On February 5, 2016, the PCLOB issued its “Recommendations Assessment Report.” The purpose of the report was to assess whether the DNI had responded appropriately to recommendations it had made for the improvement of the program.

The DNI had taken action to the PCLOB recommendations. Indeed, with respect to the 10 recommendations relating to the Section 702 program, the PCLOB Recommendations Assessment Report determined that five recommendations have been fully implemented; one has been substantially implemented; three are in the process of being implemented; and one has been partially implemented.[35]

The historical record demonstrates the effectiveness of both the PCLOB’s oversight function and the responsiveness of the DNI to its recommendations—a win-win story in the new age of intelligence oversight.[36]

Conclusions

First, Section 702 is constitutional, statutorily authorized, and carefully constructed to address a vital U.S. national security requirement: the collection of vital information relating to foreign threats.

Second, it seems clear that, in light of careful scrutiny by the PCLOB, the specter of alleged abuse of the program is more theoretical than real.

Third, the Section 702 program has great current utility and provides invaluable intelligence of practical impact and not replaceable by other means of collection.

The benefits of the Section 702 program greatly outweigh its (theoretical) costs and the program should continue as currently authorized. Indeed, the record suggests that the 702 Program is invaluable as a foreign intelligence collection tool. The fruits of the program constitute more than 25 percent of the NSA’s reports concerning international terrorism. It has clearly defined implementation rules and robust oversight by all three branches of government, and is a necessary tool for defending the nation.

Congress should reauthorize 702 in its entirety. There is no need for a further sunset of the act’s provisions, as it has demonstrated its usefulness; and an arbitrarily forced reconsideration by Congress is unnecessary, a waste of time and money, and at the expense of national security.

The program can, and should, be implemented in a manner that is consistent with American values. To quote General Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and former CIA director:

[A]n American strategy for cyberspace must reflect and serve our ideals. In our zeal to secure the internet, we must be careful not to destroy that which we are trying to preserve, an open, accessible, ubiquitous, egalitarian, and free World Wide Web. There are nations—like Iran, China, Russia and others—who view precisely those attributes as the very definition of cyber security threats. Their concern is not digital theft, but the free movement of ideas. We must take care that in our efforts to prevent the former, we do not legitimize their efforts to prevent the latter.[37]

A properly configured Section 702 program has met that challenge to the benefit of the American public. At a time when international terrorism is on the rise, the United States must have a lawful, robust foreign intelligence capability.

—David R. Shedd is a Visiting Distinguished Fellow in the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, Paul Rosenzweig is a Visiting Fellow in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy, of the Davis Institute, and Charles D. Stimson is Manager of the National Security Law Program and Senior Legal Fellow in the Center for National Defense, of the Davis Institute, at The Heritage Foundation.

JUNE 06, 2017 5:27 PM

Republicans worried about leaks consider cutting back surveillance authority