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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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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

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

Pronk Pops Show 865: March 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 864: March 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 863: March 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 862: March 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 861: March 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 860: March 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 859: March 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 858: March 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 857: March 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 856: March 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 855: March 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 854: March 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 853: March 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 852: March 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 851: March 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 850: March 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 849: March 1, 2017

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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

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 896, May 18, 2017, Story 1: A Broadcasting Legend, Roger Ailes, Dies at Age 77, Rest in Peace — Videos — Story 2: President Trump Tweets: “The is The Single Greatest Witch Hunt of A Politician in American History” — Special Counsel: Bad Idea — Robert Mueller: Good Choice — Videos

Posted on May 18, 2017. Filed under: American History, Barack H. Obama, Benghazi, Bill Clinton, Blogroll, Breaking News, Budgetary Policy, Congress, Countries, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Education, Employment, Fast and Furious, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Government, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Former President Barack Obama, Fourth Amendment, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Spending, Hate Speech, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, History, House of Representatives, Illegal Immigration, Iran Nuclear Weapons Deal, IRS, Law, Media, News, Obama, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, President Trump, Presidential Appointments, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulation, Robert S. Mueller III, Scandals, Second Amendment, Security, Senate, Senator Jeff Sessions, Spying, Success, Surveillance and Spying On American People, Surveillance/Spying, Tax Policy, Technology, Terror, Terrorism, Trump Surveillance/Spying, Unemployment, United States Constitution, United States of America, United States Supreme Court, Videos, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

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

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Pronk Pops Show 876: April 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 875: April 18, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 873: April 13, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 871: April 11, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 865: March 31, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 862: March 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 861: March 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 860: March 24, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 857: March 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 856: March 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 855: March 10, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 852: March 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 851: March 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 850: March 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 849: March 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 848: February 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 847: February 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 846: February 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 845: February 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 844: February 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 843: February 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 842: February 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 841: February 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 840: February 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 839: February 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 838: February 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 837: February 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 836: February 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 835: February 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 834: February 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 833: February 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 832: February 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 831: February 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 830: February 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 829: February 1, 2017

Image result for roger ailes dead at 77Image result for roger ailes and familyImage result for cartoons branco trump witch huntImage result for trump russian investigation a witch hunt

Story 1: A Broadcasting Legend, Roger Ailes, Dies at Age 77, Rest in Peace — Videos

Image result for roger ailes and familyImage result for roger ailes and family

Rupert Murdoch statement on Roger Ailes’ passing

Brit Hume on the life and legacy of Roger Ailes

Sean Hannity: I am forever grateful for Roger Ailes

Martha MacCallum remembers Roger Ailes

Rush Limbaugh Remembers Roger Ailes: “Roger And I Were Passengers In History”

Neil Cavuto remembers Roger Ailes

Gutfeld remembers Roger Ailes

The Sean Hannity Show May 18, 2017 || Remembering Roger Ailes

Laura Ingraham Show 5/18/17 – (FULL) Roger Ailes Built Success By Out Thinking His Competitors

Mark Levin Show: Tribute to Roger Ailes (audio from 05-18-2017)

Glenn & Bill React To Roger Aile’s Death | Bill O’Reilly’s First Interview Since Fox News Exit

Bill O’Reilly No Spin News: Paying Respects To Roger Ailes(RIP) & Hysterical Press (5/18/2017)

Rachel Maddow On The Passing Of Roger Ailes: ‘I Considered Him To Be A Friend’

Kimberly Guilfoyle pays tribute to Roger Ailes

Shepard Smith pays tribute to Roger Ailes

Roger Ailes, Who Built Fox News Into an Empire, Dies at 77

Former Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes dead at 77

Remembering Roger Ailes

World reacts to the death of Roger Ailes

Former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes dead at 77

Roger Ailes leaves behind complicated legacy

Lionel Nation YouTube Live Stream: Roger Ailes Eulogium, Mueller the DNC Nightmare & Comey the Clown

Fox News anchors learned of the death of former chairman and CEO Roger Ailes from Drudge

  • Fox News anchors learned of death of former chairman and CEO from Drudge
  • Fox published a breaking news segment on Twitter following Roger Ailes’ death
  • Steve Doocy said: ‘They have published, Drudge has, a statement from his wife’
  • Ainsley Earhardt added: ‘Beth you are in our thoughts and our prayers, and so is Zachary, their beautiful son. Roger, rest in peace.’
  • Ailes died aged 77, according to his wife, who released statement to Matt Drudge
Roger Ailes has died at the age of 77, his wife Elizabeth revealed in a statement on Thursday

Roger Ailes has died at the age of 77, his wife Elizabeth revealed in a statement on Thursday

Fox News anchors only learned of the death of its former chairman and CEO from Drudge Report.

Roger Ailes died aged 77, according to his wife Elizabeth, who released a statement to Matt Drudge.

In a breaking news segment tweeted by the network on Thursday morning, Fox & Friends’ Steve Doocy reported: ‘Roger Ailes, one of the founders of the Fox News channel has died.

‘They have published, Drudge has, a statement from his wife Elizabeth.’

The statement was then read out before Ainsley Earhardt added: ‘Beth you are in our thoughts and our prayers, and so is Zachary, their beautiful son. Roger, rest in peace.’

His death comes less than a year after he resigned from the company over allegations of sexual harassment.

His wife Elizabeth, with whom he has one son, said: ‘I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning. Roger was a loving husband to me, to his son Zachary, and a loyal friend to many.

‘He was also a patriot, profoundly grateful to live in a country that gave him so much opportunity to work hard, to rise — and to give back.

‘During a career that stretched over more than five decades, his work in entertainment, in politics, and in news affected the lives of many millions.

‘And so even as we mourn his death, we celebrate his life,’ the statement reads.

Steve Doocy (left) reported: ‘Roger Ailes, one of the founders of the Fox News channel has died'

Steve Doocy (left) reported: ‘Roger Ailes, one of the founders of the Fox News channel has died’

There was no further information on the cause of Ailes’ death. He celebrated his 77th birthday on Monday.

Ailes had struggled with his health. He had hemophilia, multiple surgeries to replace his joints and a secret prostate surgery a few years ago that put him on an extended leave from the network, according to New York magazine reporter Gabriel Sherman.

Last year, Sherman reported that Ailes was still having trouble walking and rarely left his executive suite.

A friend who ran into Ailes in Palm Beach over the 2015-2016 holidays told the magazine that he was using a walker at the time.

In an excerpt from the 2013 biography Roger Ailes Off Camera, Ailes said he knew he didn’t have long left to live.

‘My doctor told me that I’m old, fat, and ugly, but none of those things is going to kill me immediately,’ he told the author, Zev Chafets, shortly before his 72nd birthday. ‘The actuaries say I have six to eight years. The best tables give me 10. Three thousand days, more or less.’

He added: ‘I’d give anything for another 10 years.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4518872/Fox-News-learned-Roger-Ailes-death-Drudge.html#ixzz4hSwIC0Lw

Michael Wolff on Roger Ailes’ Final Days and a Complicated Murdoch Relationship

Matt Furman
Roger Ailes in his Fox News office in 2014.

The Fox News exec understood the intensity of the unhappiness and anger in another America that liberal media people are only now waking up to with Donald Trump.

I made a mental note last night to call Roger in the morning and get his take on the Trump events of the last few days. There are few conversations more entertaining and insightful than Roger Ailes on Republican politics, where he’s known all the players, their strengths and particularly their weaknesses. While the bet noir to liberals, his most scathing and often hilarious critiques have often been reserved for conservatives. His 50 years among the kahunas of GOP politics — as one of the creators of modern Republican politics — made him, among his other political claims to fame, among his party’s sharpest observers. On his friend Donald Trump, no one has been keener. But at 8:30 this morning, his wife Beth texted me that he had died a few minutes ago at age 77.

It was a particular cruelty of the anti-Ailes press that it often focused on Beth, with rumors of a breakdown in their marriage and impending divorce. In fact, she was fierce in her devotion to him, and his most implacable defender. In the 10 months since he had been forced out as chairman of Fox News Channel, the network —arguably, the most significant political force in American life for a generation — that he launched, built and ran for 20 years, she carried him. This past autumn, after their hard summer of accusations and media conviction, she had flown down to Palm Beach and bought for themselves a waterfront mansion, where she hoped he would retire and where living well would at least be some revenge.

Retirement was more Beth’s idea than his. Roger and I spoke a week ago, just after the last ouster at Fox — Bill Shine, his lieutenant who had taken over his job, following by a week the ouster of Bill O’Reilly — and, invariably, the subject was Fox’s quickly eroding fortunes and the possibilities for a new conservative network. Roger, yet proscribed by the non-compete provisions of his separation agreement, nevertheless had a plan in his head, and was taking calls. “I can’t call. But I can’t stop people from calling me,” he said. As we spoke, Beth texted pictures of their view and of a newly svelte Roger lying lazily in the sun.

All things considered, it was a happy winter. Or, anyway, he was certainly weighing the benefits of being out of the office and out of the fray. Still, clearly, both he and Beth could only get so far from the bitterness they felt about his end at Fox. Worse still, the terms of his departure from Fox put draconian limits on what he could say and how he might defend himself. The payout that he believed he had earned — having created a $30 billion asset and 21st Century Fox’s most profitable business — was the price of his silence. The most voluble and pugnacious man in American media was forced to keep still.

But privately, angrily, he couldn’t wait to settle scores.

In his view, the political showdown that was always bound to happen — which, to me, he had predicted several years before — had finally happened, albeit uglier, and with more finality, than he had ever expected. “They got the memo,” he said, with some forbearance. “If you strike the king, you better kill him.”

James Murdoch

Michael Wolff: It’s James Murdoch’s Fox News Now

By “they,” he meant Rupert Murdoch’s sons. And most particularly James Murdoch, who, two years ago, was elevated to CEO of his father’s company, who Ailes regarded as an impetuous, grandiose, self-satisfied rich kid. Wryly, he admitted bringing this feud on himself. “I made the money those kids spent. So, no, I wasn’t going to suck up to them.”

Indeed, not long before his ouster, Ailes had enraged James by going around his back and helping to convince his father to squelch a plan for a new, temple-like 21st Century Fox headquarters that James wanted to build.

The relationship of Ailes to Murdoch senior, often his loyal patron but frequently just a boss stuck having to indulge his highest earner, was also always a fraught one. When I wrote my Murdoch biography in 2009, one of the few stipulations of my access to Murdoch was that I not interview Ailes, who, I gathered, Rupert felt got too much credit for the company’s success.

In July, over a two week period of press leaks after former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit, Ailes was ousted without opportunity to defend himself. Even when James hired the law firm Paul, Weiss, to investigate the charges against Ailes, Ailes himself wasn’t called. In effect, in order to get his payout, he had to accept his disgrace — and it was enough money that he agreed to what he surely considered a devil’s bargain.

It is, of course, impossible to know what might be true or not. And now it can never entirely be known. Surely, his political enemies, the legions of them, were concerned much less for the truth than that he be gone. As surely, less is true than what the various lawsuits allege, because that is the nature of lawsuits. All of us who know what Roger reflexively talks like, irascibly, caustically and with retrograde vividness, give him, at least privately, the benefit of the doubt.

In the end, the larger story is about someone who, from Nixon’s “silent majority” to Reagan’s “Reagan Democrats” to Fox News, understood the intensity of the unhappiness and anger in another America that we liberal media people are only now waking up to with Donald Trump.

More personally, when you’re in the media business, what you look for is someone who is at the top of his craft, who understands the real score, who knows how to gossip and who has stories to tell. If you missed knowing Roger, you missed out.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/michael-wolff-roger-ailes-final-days-a-complicated-murdoch-relationship-1005194

Image result for cartoons department of justice special couselor

Image result for trump tweet with all the illegal acts

Image result for cartoons branco trump witch hunt

Image result for cartoons branco trump witch hunt

 

Image result for cartoons branco hillary clinton public corruption

Image result for cartoons branco hillary clinton public corruption

Image result for cartoons branco hillary clinton public corruptionImage result for cartoons branco hillary clinton public corruption

Robert Meuller Named Special Prosecutor in Trump-Russia Probe. Tucker and Jason Chaffetz Weigh In.

Trump Blasts Russia Investigation as a ‘Witch Hunt’ on Twitter

Explaining Robert Mueller’s New Role as Special Counsel

While Most Sing Mueller’s Praises, Louie Gohmert Says He’s a Big Problem!

Bill Bennett talks pros and cons of Russia special counsel

Ingraham: Left has been trying to impeach since Election Day

What does special counsel mean for the Russia probe?

As special counsel, Mueller to have significant power in Russia probe

Brit Hume: Mueller is the grownup needed for Russia probe

Remarks from Robert Mueller III

Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead

Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead lyrics

Play “Ding Dong! The Witc…”
on Amazon Music
Munchkins
Ding Dong! The Witch is dead. Which old Witch? The Wicked Witch!
Ding Dong! The Wicked Witch is dead.
Wake up – sleepy head, rub your eyes, get out of bed.
Wake up, the Wicked Witch is dead. She’s gone where the goblins go,
Below – below – below. Yo-ho, let’s open up and sing and ring the bells out.
Ding Dong’ the merry-oh, sing it high, sing it low.
Let them know
The Wicked Witch is dead!
Mayor
As Mayor of the Munchkin City, In the County of the Land of Oz, I welcome you most regally.
Barrister
But we’ve got to verify it legally, to see
Mayor
To see?
Barrister
If she
Mayor
If she?
Barrister
Is morally, ethic’lly
Father No.1
Spiritually, physically
Father No. 2
Positively, absolutely
Munchkins
Undeniably and reliably Dead
Coroner
As Coroner I must aver, I thoroughly examined her.
And she’s not only merely dead, she’s really most sincerely dead.
Mayor
Then this is a day of Independence For all the Munchkins and their descendants
Barrister
If any.
Mayor
Yes, let the joyous news be spread The wicked Old Witch at last is dead!

A Special Enemy

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller was born and bred to torment Donald Trump.

Donald Trump went to sleep Wednesday night with a new enemy outside his window: former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III.

LEON NEYFAKH

Leon Neyfakh is a Slate staff writer.

Mueller, a 72-year-old former prosecutor who left the FBI in 2013, has been called upon by the Justice Department to serve as a special counsel to investigate Trump and his associates. In accordance with an order issued Wednesday by the deputy attorney general, it will be up to Mueller—whose last name is pronounced Muh-lur—to decide whether anyone involved in the Trump campaign should be charged with a crime. “I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability,” Mueller said in a statement Wednesday.

Even if Mueller’s investigation doesn’t result in any charges being brought, it’s almost certain Mueller and his team will end up asking Trump questions he doesn’t want to answer and demanding to see documents he doesn’t want to provide. Barring a drastic change in Trump’s disposition, the president will respond to these affronts by publishing angry tweets about Mueller and snarling about him in interviews. Maybe he’ll even compare him to a “dog,” as he did recently when talking about former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates. Or perhaps he could threaten Mueller, as he did last week in a tweet directed at former FBI Director James Comey.

While Trump loathes a lot of people, his hatred of Mueller is likely to be particularly intense. That’s because Mueller is exactly the kind of guy Trump always hates. He’s also exactly the kind of law enforcement official Trump doesn’t understand.

Raised in a wealthy suburb of Philadelphia, Mueller has Roman numerals in his name and attended a New Hampshire boarding school alongside John Kerry. Later, he followed in his father’s footsteps to Princeton, where he played lacrosse, and received a master’s from New York University and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. According to NPR, former CIA Director George Tenet described Mueller in 2013 as a “high Protestant with a locked jaw [and a] blue blazer, khaki pants, penny loafers, maybe a little Vitalis and Old Spice to boot.”

Mueller was an oddity at the FBI, said Tim Weiner, author of Enemies: A History of the FBI. “There are not a lot of people named Robert Swan Mueller III in the directory of the FBI,” he told me. “Bobby is very patrician. He’s very well-bred.”

It helped that Mueller was also a Marine who fought in Vietnam, having served as the leader of a rifle platoon and been awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. Journalists who’ve profiled him invariably note that Mueller’s time in the Marines shaped him profoundly and informed his demanding leadership style. When David Margolis showed up to his first day of work as Mueller’s deputy at the FBI, on the Monday after George W. Bush’s inauguration in 2001, he discovered an unsigned note on his desk that was unmistakably from Mueller: “It’s 0700. Where are you?”

Sworn in exactly one week before 9/11, Mueller found himself in charge of fixing a broken FBI that had failed to make sense of crucial clues before the attacks. Writing in Time in 2011, Barton Gellman described the state of the bureau before Mueller’s arrival: “The labor force—heavily white and male, with a blue collar culture that prized physical courage over book smarts lacked the language and technical skills to adapt.” Gellman explained that in the aftermath of 9/11, questions arose as to whether the FBI “was irreparably broken, ill equipped to collect intelligence and disinclined to share it anyway.”

Over the course of 12 years, Mueller worked to transform the agency into an organization that could both hold people responsible for past crimes and suss out malfeasance that hadn’t yet been committed—terrorist plots in particular. Mueller, Gellman wrote, “remade the bureau in his image,” as “[o]utsiders displaced agents with badges and guns as assistant directors in charge of finance, human resources, information technology and the directorate of weapons of mass destruction.” In his office, according to a Washingtonian piece by Garrett Graff, Mueller kept shelves lined with “counterterrorism books, manuals on IT and computers, and business books on such topics as ‘change management’ by corporate thinkers like Jack Welch.” Only a “tiny section,” Graff wrote, was “devoted to crime.”

Mueller, who is not an imposing street soldier who wears a cool uniform, doesn’t fit Trump’s image of a law enforcement official. As evidenced by the fact that villainous Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke appears to have landed a job in the Department of Homeland Security, Trump prefers guys who are cartoonishly “tough on crime.” He also tends to focus his political attention on rank-and-file members of police unions, presenting himself as a friend to regular cops while ignoring the senior “brass” who tell them what to do.  Trump has refused to even acknowledge the memo he was sent in February in which a raft of high-profile police chiefs—including Bill Bratton from the NYPD and David Brown, who was head of the Dallas Police Department at the time of the deadly sniper attack that killed five officers—urged him to reconsider his preferred crime-reduction strategy of putting as many people as possible in prison for as long as the law allows.

It’s possible, though unlikely, that under different circumstances Trump would be impressed by a fancy, smart guy like Mueller and would try to impress him back. But there’s one more thing about Mueller that’s going to make it impossible for Trump to show him any respect: The former FBI director is practically blood brothers with James Comey.

The bond between the two men was forged in early 2004—years before Comey succeeded Mueller as FBI director. Comey, who was then serving as the deputy attorney general under John Ashcroft, was locked in a high-stakes dispute with George W. Bush, who wanted to overrule the Justice Department’s conclusion that an NSA domestic surveillance program was illegal. As Graff tells it in his Washingtonian piece, Ashcroft was in a hospital room recovering from surgery when he was ambushed by a pair of White House aides. Here’s Graff:

Comey was driving home on Constitution Avenue with his security escort of U.S. marshals the night of Tuesday, March 10, 2004, when he got a call. … White House chief of staff Andy Card and White House counsel [Alberto] Gonzales were on their way to see Ashcroft in the hospital.

Comey told his driver to turn on the emergency lights and head to the hospital. Then he began calling other Justice officials to rally them at George Washington University Hospital.

Mueller was at dinner with his wife and daughter when he got the call from Comey at 7:20 pm. “I’ll be right there,” he said.

In 2007, Comey testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that he believed Card and Gonzales intended to use Ashcroft’s semiconscious state to get the attorney general to sign off on the surveillance program he had previously opposed. By intercepting them in Ashcroft’s hospital room, Comey and Mueller may have prevented the Bush administration officials from getting the attorney general’s signature. (Comey said in his testimony that Ashcroft made the ultimate decision to rebuff Card and Gonzales.) They also helped put the White House and the Justice Department on course for an epic confrontation. Not long after the incident at the hospital, Mueller told Bush he would resign if the surveillance program continued. Bush, realizing he faced a situation on par with Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre,” backed down. Afterward, Graff wrote, Mueller and Comey “shared a dark laugh” before going back to work.

“I think that experience, of having to stand together and say, ‘No, Mr. President, you can’t do this,’ really mind-melded them,” said Weiner. “It was a moment of brotherhood.”

At this point, no friend of Jim Comey is ever going to be a friend of Donald Trump, especially when he’s leading the same investigation that Comey led before his ouster. Odds are good, in fact, that Trump will use Mueller’s closeness with Comey to accuse him of bias and question the legitimacy of his inquiry.

If and when Trump does go after Mueller—he dipped his toe in the water Thursday morning by tweeting about how it was unfair that a special counsel had been appointed to conduct the “witch hunt” against him—their showdown will be marked by a pleasing irony. In one corner will be the patrician and brainy Mueller, who has little in common with the “real cops” the president so admires. In the other will be Trump, who will soon find out what being ”tough on crime” really means. …

THE SCOPE OF THE SPECIAL COUNSEL APPOINTMENT IS TOTALLY INADEQUATE

Rod Rosenstein just appointed former FBI Director (and, before that, US Attorney) Robert Mueller as Special Counsel to take over the investigation into Trump and his associates.

I’m agnostic about the selection of Mueller. He has the benefit of credibility among FBI Agents, so will be able to make up for some of what was lost with Jim Comey’s firing. He will be regarded by those who care about such things as non-partisan. With Jim Comey, Mueller stood up to Dick Cheney on Stellar Wind in 2004 (though I think in reality his willingness to withstand Cheney’s demands has been overstated).

But Mueller has helped cover up certain things in the past, most notably with the Amerithrax investigation.

My bigger concern is with the scope, which I believe to be totally inadequate.

Here’s how the order describes the scope:

(b) The Special Counsel is authorized to conduct the investigation confirmed by then-FBI Director James 8. Comey in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on March 20, 2017, including:

(i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and

(ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and

(iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a).

As I read this, it covers just the investigation into ties between the Russian government and people associated with Trump’s campaign. Presumably, that includes Mike Flynn, Paul Manafort, and Carter Page, among others.

But there are other aspects of the great swamp that is the Trump and Russia orbit that might not be included here. For example, would Manafort’s corrupt deals with Ukrainian oligarchs be included? Would Flynn’s discussions with Turkish officials, or Rudy Giuliani’s attempt to excuse Turkey’s violation of Iran sanctions? Would the garden variety money laundering on behalf of non-governmental Russian mobbed up businessmen be included, something that might affect Manafort, Jared Kushner, or Trump himself?

And remember there are at least two other aspects of the Russian hacking investigation. Back in February, Reuters reported that San Francisco’s office was investigating Guccifer 2.0 and Pittsburgh was investigating the actual hackers.  Somewhere (San Francisco would be the most logical spot), they’re presumably investigating whoever it is that has been dumping NSA’s hacking tools everywhere. I’ve learned that that geography has either changed, or there are other aspects tied to those issues in other corners of the country.

Plus, there’s the Wikileaks investigation in EDVA, the same district where the Mueller-led investigation might reside, but a distinct investigation.

Any one of those investigations might present strings that can be pulled, any one of which might lead to the unraveling of the central question: did Trump’s associates coordinate with the Russian government to become President. Unless Mueller can serve to protect those other corners of the investigation from Trump’s tampering, it would be easy to shut down any of them as they become productive.

Yet, as far as I understand the scope of this, Mueller will only oversee the central question, leaving those disparate ends susceptible to Trump’s tampering.

Update: In its statement on the appointment, ACLU raises concerns about whether this would include the investigation into Trump’s attempt to obstruct this investigation.

Update: WaPo’s Philip Rucker reminds that Mueller is law firm partners with Jamie Gorelick, who has been representing both Ivanka and Kushner in this issue.

Update: Mueller is quitting WilmberHale to take this gig. He’s also taking two WilmerHale former FBI people with him. Still, that’s a close tie to the lawyer of someone representing key subjects of this investigation.

Update: One addition to the ACLU concern about investigating the Comey firing. In the most directly relevant precedent, the Plame investigation, when Pat Fitzgerald expanded his investigation from the leak of Plame’s identity to the obstruction of the investigation, he asked for approval to do so from the Acting Attorney General overseeing the investigation — in that case, Jim Comey.

The Acting Attorney General in this case is Rod Rosenstein. So if Mueller were as diligent as Fitzgerald was, he would have to ask the guy who provided the fig leaf for Comey’s firing to approve the expansion of the investigation to cover his own fig leaf.

Update: Petey noted to me that Jeff Sessions’ narrow recusal may limit how broadly Rosenstein’s order may be drawn. It’s a really interesting observation. Here’s what I said about Sessions’ recusal (which is very similar to what I tried to address in this post).

There are two areas of concern regarding Trump’s ties that would not definitively be included in this recusal: Trump’s long-term ties to mobbed up businessmen with ties to Russia (a matter not known to be under investigation but which could raise concerns about compromise of Trump going forward), and discussions about policy that may involve quid pro quos (such as the unproven allegation, made in the Trump dossier, that Carter Page might take 19% in Rosneft in exchange for ending sanctions against Russia), that didn’t involve a pay-off in terms of the hacking. There are further allegations of Trump involvement in the hacking (a weak one against Paul Manafort and a much stronger one against Michael Cohen, both in the dossier), but that’s in no way the only concern raised about Trump’s ties with Russians.

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The Pronk Pops Show 889, May 9, 2017, Breaking — Story 1: President Donald J. Trump Fires FBI Directory James Comey On Recommendation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions — Videos — Story 2: Democrats Designated Fall Guy — Flynn — Trump Needs To Declassify and Release Complete Transcripts of Flynn Conversations With Russian Ambassador — Hillary Clinton Was The Real National Security Blackmail Risk To United States — Time For Trump To Instruct Attorney General Sessions to Appoint A Special Prosecutor Before Statue of Limitations Runs Out — Videos — Story 3: Russia Celebrates World War II Victory Over Nazi Germany On May 9, 1945 With Display of Military Equipment and 10,000 Marching in Moscow’s Red Square — Videos — Story 4: Will President Trump Win War in Afghanistan By Authorizing 50,000 Additional Troops ? — Is President Trump a Non-interventionist or Interventionist or Neoconservative? — Videos

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Image result for cartoon clapper and yatesImage result for president trump fires fbi director james comey may 9, 2017Image result for trump fires james comeyImage result for cartoons trump fires comey fbiImage result for cartoons branco democrats vs republicans over russia colusion with russiaImage result for timeline of l flynn - russia talks

Breaking — Story 1: President Donald J. Trump Fires FBI Directory James Comey On Recommendation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions — Videos — 

Image result for cartoons trump fires comeyImage result for president trump fires fbi director james comey may 9, 2017

Image result for cartoons trump fires comey

Why did President Trump fire FBI director Comey?

The Real Reason Comey Was Fired

FBI Director James Comey FULL STATEMENT on Hillary Clinton Email Investigation (C-SPAN)

Napolitano: Many FBI agents felt demeaned by Comey’s actions

Tucker: Comey’s firing was long overdue

Hume: Calling Comey firing a ‘coup’ is hysterical

President Trump to FBI’s James Comey…”You’re Fired!”

BREAKING: President Trump Fires FBI Director James Comey

The Fox News Specialists 5/9/17 : Trump Fires FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey fired by Trump

Trump fires FBI Director James Comey

BREAKING NEWS: FBI Director James Comey FIRED by President Trump

“JAMES COMEY Should Have Been FIRED”

“DANGER To the Country?” Tucker Weighs In On James Comey’s Testimony

BREAKING NEWS: President Trump Fires FBI Director James Comey

Trey Gowdy Finds Out FBI Director James Comey Won’t Obey The Law & He’s Pissed

FBI Director James Comey Is Fired by Donald Trump – LIVE STREAM

Trump Says Clinton Will Be in Jail if He’s President

TRUMP FIRES FBI DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY

President Donald Trump has fired FBI Director James Comey.

In a statement, Trump says Comey’s firing “will mark a new beginning” for the FBI. The White House says the search for a new FBI director will begin immediately.

Comey’s firing comes days after he testified on Capitol Hill about the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s election meddling and possible connections between Russia and Trump’s campaign.

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_TRUMP_COMEY?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2017-05-09-17-47-00

Story 2: Democrats Designated Fall Guy — Flynn  — Trump Needs To Declassify and Release Complete Transcripts of Flynn Conversations With Russian Ambassador — Hillary Clinton Was The Real National Security Blackmail Risk To United States — Time For Trump To Instruct Attorney General Session to Appoint A Special Prosecutor Before Statue of Limitations Runs Out — Videos — 

Image result for cartoon clapper and yatesImage result for cartoons branco general flynn sally yatesImage result for cartoon clapper and yatesImage result for cartoon clapper and yatesImage result for cartoons branco general flynn sally yatesImage result for cartoon clapper and yatesImage result for cartoon clapper and yates

NSA Received Around 2,000 Requests To Unmask Americans’ Names In 2016

Published on May 9, 2017

If a U.S. citizen is caught up in incidental intelligence collection, that person’s name cannot be revealed unless the intelligence agency that gathered the information agrees to a request to “unmask” that American person’s name. “How many of those requests did you get in 2016?” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) asked Admiral Michael Rogers at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday. Rogers heads both the National Security Agency and the U.S. Cyber Command. “I think we’ve publicly acknowledged something – it’s 2,000. I think it’s one thousand nine-hundred and something,” Rogers replied. “How many people can request the unmasking of an American citizen?” Graham continued. “If you’re an authorized recipient of the intelligence – we use two criteria. Number one, the requester must be asking this in the execution of their official duties. It can’t be something that would be neat to know,” Rogers said.

“Number two, the revealing of the U.S. person has to provide context and greater value for the intelligence. Again, it can’t just be, ‘I’m just curious.’” Rogers said a broad group of people can make unmasking requests: “If you are on the authorized distribution for our intelligence reporting, you can ask. It doesn’t mean it gets approved, but you can ask.” Rogers said the national security adviser is normally on the distribution list, and “yes,” there is a record for every unmasking request that is made. Graham told Rogers, “So there’s a record of who made the request to unmask the conversation involving the American citizen. There’s a record of whether or not you granted it.” Rogers agreed with both those statements, but he said there is no record of what the person did with the information once they got it. “There’s also a record of the basis — so why did we say yes,” Rogers added. He said the unmasking is authorized only for the individual who requested it, and that person is told not to share the information.

Graham noted that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s conversation with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. was captured by one of the intelligence agencies: “Assuming he did not have a FISA warrant allowing us to collect on him, it would be a case of incidental collection (from) following the Russian ambassador. Does that make sense?” Graham asked Rogers. “Yes, sir,” Rogers agreed. “We would know how that conversation was revealed and to who (sic) it was revealed,” Graham continued. Rogers said yes – if the unmasking was based on information gathered by the NSA. He noted that the FBI also picks up incidental collection. “OK, so we could either ask the FBI or you,” Graham said. “OK. So somebody took that information that we gained through collection with Flynn and gave it to the Washington Post.” — “And that is a leak, and that is illegal, yes, sir,” Rogers said. He added that he is very concerned about such leaks, and he has warned his employees in writing not to engage in such behavior or they will be held criminally liable.

Graham concluded: “The bottom line here, it is possible for the Congress to find out who requested unmasking of American citizens, who that information was given to, and that is possible for us to know.” Rogers replied, “On the NSA side, that’s part of the ongoing investigation with the primary oversight committees that we’re going through right now.” — “OK,” said Graham. “Do you know if Susan Rice ever asked for an American citizen to be unmasked?” — “I’d have to pull the data, sir, I apologize,” Rogers said. The exchange ended at that point. At a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Monday, Sen. Graham asked a similar question: “How did the conversation between the Russian ambassador and Mr. Flynn make it to the Washington Post?” He said he intends to find out.

 Sally Yates testifies on Flynn-Russia contacts

Sean Spicer CONFRONTED on Sally Yates, Trump Mike Flynn Russia Connections 5/8/2017

York: What we still don’t know after Sally Yates’ testimony

Ingraham: Dems desperately wanted to find Trump-Russia link

Brit Hume: Yates testimony ‘didn’t move the ball very much’

John Ashcroft: Yates wasn’t going to give the president his day in court

Sally Yates: We believed Michael Flynn was compromised

Published on May 8, 2017

Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates testified before a Senate panel Monday saying she notified the White House when she believed former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had been “compromised.” Yahoo chief investigative reporter Michael Isikoff joined “Red & Blue” for a closer look at the hearing and what we can expect from the investigation down the road.

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

Sean Spicer Blames Obama For Flynn Clearance

Published on May 8, 2017

At his daily briefing, press secretary Sean Spicer pivots on the Trump administration’s appointment of General Michael Flynn, saying the Obama administration was responsible for Flynn’s security clearance. The Obama administration fired Flynn in 2014, and warned Trump against hiring him.

White House explains Gen. Flynn’s resignation

Trey Gowdy Brilliantly Checkmates The FBI “Hillary Clinton Told You The Truth & Then Lied To Us”

Obama warned Trump about hiring Flynn

Spicer: It’s true, Obama wasn’t a fan of Flynn 00:51

Washington (CNN)Then-President Barack Obama warned President-elect Donald Trump in November against hiring retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as his national security adviser, former Obama administration officials confirmed to CNN Monday.

Obama warned Trump about Flynn during their Oval Office meeting on November 10, days after Trump was elected president.
“Given the importance of the job, the President through there were better people for it, and that Flynn wasn’t up for the job,” a former senior Obama administration official told CNN Monday.
Other former Obama administration officials said then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper didn’t think highly of Flynn, and in fact was the person who recommended Flynn’s firing as DNI in 2014. Flynn’s focus was generally limited to terrorism and didn’t know much about many other issues important for the national security adviser job, such as China, the officials said.

RELATED: The many paths from Trump to Russia

But at least one former Obama official disputed that, saying Obama’s concerns were not related to the firing of Flynn from the Defense Intelligence Agency but rather in the course of the investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 election.

“Flynn’s name kept popping up,” according to a senior Obama administration source.

Trump transition officials warned Flynn about Russia communications

The White House confirmed later Monday that Obama raised concerns about Flynn during his Oval Office sitdown with Trump in November.
“It’s true President Obama made it known he wasn’t exactly a fan of Gen. Flynn’s,” press secretary Sean Spicer said.
He said the concerns shouldn’t have come as a surprise, since Flynn was an “outspoken critic” of the Obama administration’s shortcomings on foreign policy.
Spicer said if the Obama administration was “truly concerned” about Flynn, there are steps it could have taken, including suspending his security clearance.
Flynn previously served as the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency under Obama until he was reportedly forced out of the post 2014 over internal disagreements over policy and management.
Trump did not heed Obama’s counsel on Flynn, bringing aboard the former military intelligence officer who supported Trump during his campaign as his national security adviser. Trump fired Flynn 24 days later when news broke of Flynn’s conversations with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak.
News of the warning comes as former acting Attorney General Sally Yates is set to testify before Congress on Monday about the concerns she expressed to Trump administration officials about Flynn’s contacts with Russian officials, namely with Kislyak.
Yates, in her role as acting attorney general, warned White House counsel Don McGahn on January 26 that Flynn was lying when he denied — both publicly and privately — that he discussed US sanctions on Russia with Kislyak. It wasn’t until weeks later that Trump asked for Flynn’s resignation, only after news surfaced that Flynn had misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Kislyak.
trump flynn russia mcenany sot_00001726
Trump: I feel badly for Michael Flynn 01:31
According to five current and former intelligence officials, their concern started around the time Flynn went to Moscow for the 10th anniversary gala of the state-sponsored news agency Russia Today. At that dinner, the former high-ranking intelligence official was seated right next to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He also had contact with Kislyak after the trip.
Former US officials were highly suspicious of Kislyak and his motives, and there were concerns Flynn didn’t seem to understand the dangers in the conversations, the officials said. As was reported over the weekend, even Trump’s own team was concerned enough to request a CIA profile of the Russian ambassador to help illustrate to Flynn he was taking a big chance in his interactions with Kislyak.
Yates’ testimony on Monday will be the first time she speaks publicly about her warnings to the White House about Flynn.
The Senate and House intelligence committees are continuing to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election, including potential coordination between Russian officials and the Trump campaign or people close to the campaign.
Congressional investigators have so far homed in on Flynn, Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, and Roger Stone, who informally advised Trump during his presidential run.
While Trump asked for Flynn’s resignation, he has not abandoned his former national security adviser altogether.
Trump on Monday morning sought to get ahead of Yates’ testimony, taking to Twitter to deflect criticism that he or his administration should have kept Flynn out of the top national security post from the outset.
“General Flynn was given the highest security clearance by the Obama administration — but the Fake News seldom likes talking about that,” Trump said in his first missive.
“Ask Sally Yates, under oath, if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to W.H. Counsel,” he tweeted.
Flynn began advising Trump on national security in early 2016 and soon became a constant presence by Trump’s side as he crisscrossed the country from rally to rally.
He frequently introduced Trump on the campaign trail, delivering introductory remarks rife with criticism of the Obama administration’s foreign policy and of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Flynn often led Trump supporters in chants of “Lock her up!” as he accused her of corruption and negligence in her use of a private email server.
Trump came to value Flynn not only for his like-minded view of global affairs but for his loyalty throughout the campaign.

Head of Pentagon intelligence agency forced out, officials say

April 30, 2014
The top two officials at the Defense Intelligence Agency said Wednesday that they will retire from those positions in the coming months, part of a leadership shake-up at an agency that is under pressure to trim budgets and shift focus after more than a decade of war, current and former U.S. officials said.Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn is expected to end his tenure as DIA director this summer, about a year before he was scheduled to depart, according to officials who said Flynn faced pressure from Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. and others in recent months. His deputy, David Shedd, had been in his job since 2010.The moves come at a time when the DIA is in the midst of major changes, including an effort by senior Pentagon officials to expand the agency’s network of spies overseas, improve collection on unfolding crises such as the one in Ukraine, and work more closely with the CIA.

The Pentagon press secretary, John Kirby, said that their retirements “have been planned for some time” and that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel “appreciates the service of these two dedicated and professional leaders.”

Kirby did not indicate when Flynn and Shedd would step down. Lt. Gen. Mary A. Legere, the Army’s top intelligence officer, is considered a leading candidate to replace Flynn, and she would be the first female DIA director if nominated and confirmed.

Flynn, who served as a top intelligence adviser to Gen. Stanley McChrystal in Iraq and Afghanistan, arrived at the DIA in July 2012 vowing to accelerate the agency’s overhaul. Asked after a public speech how he would treat employees reluctant to embrace his agenda, Flynn said he would “move them or fire them.”

He drafted a blueprint that called for sending more employees overseas, being more responsive to regional U.S. military commanders, and turning analysts’ attention from the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan to a broader array of emerging national security threats.

“I think that Flynn’s efforts to move the organization into a role supporting combatant commanders was spot on and it is where DIA should be heading,” said Fred Kagan, a military historian and unpaid adviser to the DIA. “I think that he was trying to introduce a lot of valuable innovation into the organization.”

Critics said that his management style could be chaotic and that the scope of his plans met resistance from both superiors and subordinates. At the same time, his tenure was marked by significant turbulence, including the fallout from the classified intelligence files leaked by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, as well as other emerging crises.

“His vision in DIA was seen as disruptive,” said a former Pentagon official who worked closely with Flynn. At the DIA, Flynn sought to push DIA analysts and operators “up and out of their cubicles into the field to support war fighters or high-intensity operations,” the former official said. “I’m not sure DIA sees itself as that.”

Flynn clashed with other high-ranking officials, including Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael G. Vickers. Officials said Flynn had opposed Vickers’ efforts to make significant cuts to large intelligence centers established to support the U.S. military’s regional overseas commands. A former CIA operative, Vickers has sought to model the DIA’s training and overseas presence more closely on its civilian counterpart, according to current and former U.S. officials.

The plan has encountered significant opposition on Capitol Hill, particularly from members of the Senate Armed Services Committee who have voiced concern over the cost of creating the Defense Clandestine Service, and questioned whether Pentagon spies would end up being used to fill intelligence gaps that are supposed to be handled by the CIA.

Flynn’s departure, which has been rumored for weeks, was set in motion earlier this year when Clapper informed him that the administration had concluded that a leadership change was necessary, officials said. Others described it as a mutual agreement that Flynn would step down.

Flynn was a key player in U.S. military efforts to dismantle insurgent networks in Iraq and Afghanistan, an approach that relied heavily on combining U.S. Special Operations forces with intelligence operatives and analysts.

With McChrystal, Flynn helped to compress a cycle of carrying out raids and then exploiting the intelligence from those operations to find other targets.

In 2010, Flynn rankled many of his counterparts in the intelligence community when he published an article that was sharply critical of the information that spy agencies were assembling in Afghanistan. The effort was so focused on tracking insurgents that U.S. military and diplomatic leaders got little to help them understand the political, economic and cultural issues driving the insurgency.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/head-of-pentagon-intelligence-agency-forced-out-officials-say/2014/04/30/ec15a366-d09d-11e3-9e25-188ebe1fa93b_story.html?utm_term=.6f699e24f117

Story 2:  Russia Celebrates World War II Victory Over Nazi Germany On May 9, 1945,  With Display of Military Equipment and 10,000 Marching in Moscow’s Red Square — Videos

Image result for russia parade in moscow red square May 9, 2017 putinImage result for russia parade in moscow red square May 9, 2017Image result for russia parade in moscow red square May 9, 2017 putin

Advanced Russian weaponry rolls through Red Square in Victory Day parade

Published on May 9, 2017

More than 10,000 troops accompanied by military hardware marched across Moscow’s central square on May 9. Unfortunately, cloudy weather meant the ceremonial flyovers had to be canceled. Watch more – https://rbth.com

Russia puts military on display for Victory Day parade

Moscow Victory Day Parade 2017 俄罗斯胜利日阅兵式

Putin warns his Russian army can ‘repel any potential aggression’ as 10,000 troops march through Red Square with terrifying arsenal of missiles in Victory Day parade

  • Huge Victory Day military parade in Moscow involves 10,000 troops and more than 100 units of equipment 
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin was in attendance as well as former Kremlin leader Mikhail Gorbachev
  • The annual Red Square march in Moscow marks the defeat of Hitler’s Nazi Germany in the Second World War
  • Fly-past scrapped due to weather despite attempt to guarantee sunshine by ‘spiking clouds’ with chemicals

Vladimir Putin has warned his Russian army can ‘repel any potential aggression’ after 10,000 troops marched through Red Square with a terrifying arsenal of missiles in a military parade.

The annual march in Moscow marks the defeat of Hitler in the Second World War, but the Russian president was using it today to showcase the Kremlin’s modern military might.

Putin was personally taking the salute at the parade involving 10,000 troops and 114 units of military equipment.

The parade gave the first public showing of Tor and Pantsir mobile surface-to-air missile that have been adapted for use in Russia’s Arctic forces, their white-and-black winter camouflage standing out amid the olive drab of other war machines.

‘The armed forces of Russia are capable of repelling any potential aggression,’ Putin told thousands of military personnel.

Plans to send 72 aircraft overhead were defeated by the weather – despite the Kremlin spending £1.3 million to spike the clouds with a chemical cocktail to supposedly guarantee sunshine.

The fly-past was grounded because of low cloud, thwarting Putin’s bid to showcase his air force and honour Russian pilots who have served in Syria.

Scroll down for video

As the sun descended over Moscow, locals were treated to a spectacular fireworks and pyrotechnic display 

As the sun descended over Moscow, locals were treated to a spectacular fireworks and pyrotechnic display

The spectacular fireworks display was to mark the 72nd anniversary of Victory of Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War

The spectacular fireworks display was to mark the 72nd anniversary of Victory of Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War

Thousands of armed military personnel marched in formation through Red Square on a day of celebrations in Moscow

Thousands of armed military personnel marched in formation through Red Square on a day of celebrations in Moscow

Female servicemen march in formation during the parade this morning. Putin used the event to show off his military might

Female servicemen march in formation during the parade this morning. Putin used the event to show off his military might

Thousands of troops, including servicewomen, saluted as they passed Russian President Vladimir Putin (pictured back centre) at the parade

Thousands of troops, including servicewomen, saluted as they passed Russian President Vladimir Putin (pictured back centre) at the parade

Dozens of tanks rumbled through Red Square as troops saluted Putin during the massive military parade in Red Square today

As well as tanks and troops, this Russian Yars RS-24 intercontinental ballistic missile system was driven through Red Square

Snipers were seen on the Kremlin Wall during the Victory Day military parade amid heightened security with Vladimir Putin watching on

Snipers were seen on the Kremlin Wall during the Victory Day military parade amid heightened security with Vladimir Putin watching on

Putin also watched this S-400 Triumf medium-range and long-range surface-to-air missile system trundle through Red Square

Putin also watched this S-400 Triumf medium-range and long-range surface-to-air missile system trundle through Red Square

There were similar scenes in St Petersburg, Russia when an estimated 400,000 people walked through the streets carrying pictures of relatives killed in the Second World War

There were similar scenes in St Petersburg, Russia when an estimated 400,000 people walked through the streets carrying pictures of relatives killed in the Second World War

The Russian president was personally taking the salute as at the parade involving 10,000 troops, 114 units of military equipment and 72 aircraft

The Russian president was personally taking the salute as at the parade involving 10,000 troops, 114 units of military equipment and 72 aircraft

The Soviet ‘weather changing’ technology successfully prevented rain on Putin’s parade but failed to disperse the thick low cloud so only a display of armoured vehicles and missile systems went ahead.

Putin told the annual commemoration: ‘We will always guard Russia just as you, the soldiers of the Victory, did.

‘And [we will] strengthen the traditions of patriotism, loyally serving the homeland.

He vowed: ‘There was no, there is no and there will be no force that could ever enslave our people.

‘They fought to the bitter end, defending their homeland, and did what seemed impossible, they turned the bloody wheel of the Second World War back, drove the enemy from our land where it dared to come, crushed Nazism, put an end to its atrocities.

‘And we will never forget that it was our fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers who brought the freedom to Europe and the long-awaited peace on the planet.’

Hundreds of servicewomen wearing white skirts and blue military jackets were involved in the mass parade this morning

The military display included this Buk-M2 missile system. But a planned fly-past of 72 aircraft had to be cancelled due to the weather

The military display included this Buk-M2 missile system. But a planned fly-past of 72 aircraft had to be cancelled due to the weather

Dozens of female military personnel wearing white jackets and skirts were involved in the huge rally in Red Square this morning

Dozens of female military personnel wearing white jackets and skirts were involved in the huge rally in Red Square this morning

Columns of troops, servicewomen, tanks and missile systems were on display at Putin's showcase military event today

Columns of troops, servicewomen, tanks and missile systems were on display at Putin’s showcase military event today

The annual event marks the anniversary of the end of the Second World War and sees thousands of military personnel marching through Red Square

The annual event marks the anniversary of the end of the Second World War and sees thousands of military personnel marching through Red Square

Military might: Dozens of missiles and launchers were paraded through Red Square in a terrifying display of Russia's fire power

Military might: Dozens of missiles and launchers were paraded through Red Square in a terrifying display of Russia’s fire power

Russian Yars RS-24 intercontinental ballistic missiles were brought in to the square after a parade by thousands of troops

Russian Yars RS-24 intercontinental ballistic missiles were brought in to the square after a parade by thousands of troops

These Russian T-14 Armata tanks were also driven slowly through Red Square. But the event did not go totally as planned after a fly-past had to be cancelled

These Russian T-14 Armata tanks were also driven slowly through Red Square. But the event did not go totally as planned after a fly-past had to be cancelled

Russian president Vladimir Putin (pictured meeting World War Two veterans) personally took the salute at the parade. But a fly-past of 72 aircraft was cancelled

Russian president Vladimir Putin (pictured meeting World War Two veterans) personally took the salute at the parade. But a fly-past of 72 aircraft was cancelled

Quick march: Vladimir Putin warned his Russian army can 'repel any potential aggression' after he watched 10,000 soldiers take part in the Victory Day parade

Putin told the annual Victory Day parade on Red Square that the horrors of World War II demonstrate the necessity of countries working together to prevent war

Putin told the annual Victory Day parade on Red Square that the horrors of World War II demonstrate the necessity of countries working together to prevent war

Tens of thousands took to the streets in Moscow to pay tribute to those killed in the Second World War. It followed a massive military parade at the Red Square

Tens of thousands took to the streets in Moscow to pay tribute to those killed in the Second World War. It followed a massive military parade at the Red Square

Russian and Soviet flags were waved while a banner was unfurled reading 'Immortal Regiment ', during the Victory Day event

Russian and Soviet flags were waved while a banner was unfurled reading ‘Immortal Regiment ‘, during the Victory Day event

The Russian president personally took the salute at the parade. But a fly-past of 72 aircraft was cancelled.

This meant no display by Russia’s Sukhoi Su-30SM fighter jets, which have seen combat action recently in Syria.

A debut Victory Day march was scheduled for schoolchildren in Russia’s new ‘Yunarmia’, a 30,000-strong militarised patriotic movement nicknamed the Putin Youth Army and established by the Defence Ministry.

It was scheduled to begin at 10am in Moscow, 8am London time, with other commemorations held in cities across Russia’s 11 time zones.

On display in Moscow was the the newly developed Tor-M2DT short-range anti-aircraft missile system and the Pantsir-SA surface-to-air missile system, both designed to operate in the Arctic.

The air display included a first outing at the Victory Day event for the Sukhoi Su-30SM fighter jets, which have seen combat action recently in Syria.

On display too were the T-72B3M variant of the T-72 main battle tank.

Tens of thousands of Russians took to the streets of Moscow carrying portraits of relatives they had lost in World War Two

Tens of thousands of Russians took to the streets of Moscow carrying portraits of relatives they had lost in World War Two

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (centre) greets guests at a Victory Day reception at the Moscow Kremlin this afternoon

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (centre) greets guests at a Victory Day reception at the Moscow Kremlin this afternoon

Children hold portraits of World War Two soldiers as they attend the Immortal Regiment march in central Moscow today

Children hold portraits of World War Two soldiers as they attend the Immortal Regiment march in central Moscow today

The streets of Moscow were packed with people paying tribute to Russia's war dead. The Immortal Regiment march was part of the Victory Day celebrations

The streets of Moscow were packed with people paying tribute to Russia’s war dead. The Immortal Regiment march was part of the Victory Day celebrations

Two Second World War veterans dance at a traditional meeting point near Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow today

Two Second World War veterans dance at a traditional meeting point near Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow today

Vladimir Putin is today staging a vast military parade showcasing Russia's firepower, and hailing as heroes his troops who have seen service in Syria

Vladimir Putin is today staging a vast military parade showcasing Russia’s firepower, and hailing as heroes his troops who have seen service in Syria

A Russian TOR-M2 tactical surface-to-air missile 'Arctic edition' system was also driven through Red Square this morfing

A Russian TOR-M2 tactical surface-to-air missile ‘Arctic edition’ system was also driven through Red Square this morfing

The annual Red Square march and fly-past in Moscow marks the defeat of Hitler in the Second World War, but the Russian president was using it today to showcase the Kremlin's modern military might

The annual Red Square march and fly-past in Moscow marks the defeat of Hitler in the Second World War, but the Russian president was using it today to showcase the Kremlin’s modern military might

A BTR-82A armoured personnel carrier rolls down Moscow's Red Square carrying military personnel dressed in white armu outfits

A BTR-82A armoured personnel carrier rolls down Moscow’s Red Square carrying military personnel dressed in white armu outfits

On display: Russian servicemen stand atop a T-72B3 main battle tank as the vehicle belches out thick black smoke

On display: Russian servicemen stand atop a T-72B3 main battle tank as the vehicle belches out thick black smoke

Russian servicemen lined up at the start of the parade marking the World War Two anniversary in Moscow this morning

Russian servicemen lined up at the start of the parade marking the World War Two anniversary in Moscow this morning

in Vladivostok, Russia, tens of thousands of people took to the street to take part in the traditional Immortal Regiment march

in Vladivostok, Russia, tens of thousands of people took to the street to take part in the traditional Immortal Regiment march

Russian air force Commander Col. Gen. Viktor Bondarev said: ‘What makes this year so special is that virtually each and every pilot who will take part in the 9 May flyby in Moscow has fought in Syria, is highly decorated, and will showcase skills that will make many countries salivate.’

This year marks the 72nd anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe.

The sombre occasion is a show of respect to the 27 million Soviet soldiers and civilians who died during the defeat of the Nazis.

Many Russians were today honouring the dead in their own families by taking part in marches to the Immortal Regiment, holding pictures of relatives who perished in the war.

Meanwhile, more than 10,000 people waving Russian flags and carrying portraits of Stalin watched tanks roll through Ukraine’s de facto rebel capital Donetsk on Tuesday in celebration of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany.

Russia celebrates the 1945 defeat of Nazi Germany every May 9 to honor those who fought and died for their country

Russia celebrates the 1945 defeat of Nazi Germany every May 9 to honor those who fought and died for their country

About 10,000 soldiers participated, standing rigidly as Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reviewed them while standing in an open-top limousine

About 10,000 soldiers participated, standing rigidly as Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reviewed them while standing in an open-top limousine

Russian President Vladimir Putin (centre) holds a photograph of his father in a naval uniform, as he joins people carrying portraits of relatives who fought in the Second World War

Russian President Vladimir Putin (centre) holds a photograph of his father in a naval uniform, as he joins people carrying portraits of relatives who fought in the Second World War

Security was tight at the event and snipers could be seen monitoring the parade from outposts surrounding Red Square

Security was tight at the event and snipers could be seen monitoring the parade from outposts surrounding Red Square

President Vladimir Putin was pictured arriving for the Victory Day military parade in Red Square in Moscow this morning

President Vladimir Putin was pictured arriving for the Victory Day military parade in Red Square in Moscow this morning

Vladimir Putin took to the stage to tell thousands of soldiers: 'We will never forget that it was our fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers who brought the freedom to Europe'

Vladimir Putin took to the stage to tell thousands of soldiers: ‘We will never forget that it was our fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers who brought the freedom to Europe’

This year marks the 72nd anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe. The sombre occasion is a show of respect to the 27 million Soviet soldiers and civilians who died during the defeat of the Nazis

This enormous Russian Topol M intercontinental ballistic missile launcher was among a terrifying arsenal of weapons on display

This enormous Russian Topol M intercontinental ballistic missile launcher was among a terrifying arsenal of weapons on display

Russian guards march during the Victory Day military parade. On display too were the T-72B3M variant of the T-72 main battle tank

Russian guards march during the Victory Day military parade. On display too were the T-72B3M variant of the T-72 main battle tank

The display was scheduled to begin at 10am in Moscow, 8am London time, with other commemorations held in cities across Russia’s 11 time zones

A debut Victory Day march was scheduled for schoolchildren in Russia’s new ‘Yunarmia’, a 30,000-strong militarised patriotic movement nicknamed the Putin Youth Army and established by the Defence Ministry

The display of military might used by the Moscow-backed insurgents in their three-year conflict against government forces violated the terms of a long-ignored 2015 peace deal.

Donetsk straddles a demarcation line in the industrial east of Ukraine from which both sides’ big guns were meant to have been withdrawn almost two years ago.

An AFP reporter counted 45 pieces of heavy military equipment – ranging from a lone World War II-era tank to its modern versions used in the current war as well as rocket launchers and anti-aircraft guns – roll through the city’s main street.

Donetsk separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko led a march of about 1,000 fighters who held up a long banner painted the black and orange colours of Russia’s patriotic Saint George’s ribbon.

Former President of the USSR Mikhail Gorbatchev (centre) was among the VIP guests who watched the parade this morning

Former President of the USSR Mikhail Gorbatchev (centre) was among the VIP guests who watched the parade this morning

Vladimir Putin lays flowers at the Hero Cities memorial by the Kremlin Wall. He has warned his army can 'repel any aggression'

Vladimir Putin lays flowers at the Hero Cities memorial by the Kremlin Wall. He has warned his army can ‘repel any aggression’

The Soviet Union is estimated to have lost 26 million people in the war, including 8 million soldiers, and the immense suffering contributes to Victory Day's status as Russia's most important secular holiday

The Soviet Union is estimated to have lost 26 million people in the war, including 8 million soldiers, and the immense suffering contributes to Victory Day’s status as Russia’s most important secular holiday

Up to 10,000 servicemen and women lined up in Red Square ahead of the vast military display. Putin attended the event this morning

Up to 10,000 servicemen and women lined up in Red Square ahead of the vast military display. Putin attended the event this morning

Parades were held across Russia's sprawling expanse as well as in the Russia-annexed Crimea Peninsula, but the Red Square parade is the centerpiece of the country's observances

Parades were held across Russia’s sprawling expanse as well as in the Russia-annexed Crimea Peninsula, but the Red Square parade is the centerpiece of the country’s observances

About 10,000 soldiers participated, standing rigidly as Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reviewed them while standing in an open-top limousine, then marching out to make way for a display of military vehicles ranging from armored cars to lumbering Topol ICBM launchers

About 10,000 soldiers participated, standing rigidly as Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reviewed them while standing in an open-top limousine, then marching out to make way for a display of military vehicles ranging from armored cars to lumbering Topol ICBM launchers

Former president of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev (centre) was given a helping hand as he attended the event today

Former president of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev (centre) was given a helping hand as he attended the event today

At one point Russian artillery was fired as part of tributes to Russia's war dead. The Soviet Union is estimated to have lost 26 million people in the Second World War, including 8 million soldiers

At one point Russian artillery was fired as part of tributes to Russia’s war dead. The Soviet Union is estimated to have lost 26 million people in the Second World War, including 8 million soldiers

Others in the parade carried portraits of warlords killed in Europe’s only war, in which more than 10,000 people have died.

Zakharchenko told the crowd that May 9 ‘is the holiest day for us all’.

On the other side of the frontline Ukrainian authorities have joined European nations in marking the end of World War II on May 8 after its 2014 pro-EU revolution. The decision was meant to underscore Ukraine’s split with Russia and embrace of the West.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told a group of soldiers on Tuesday that ‘we will no longer celebrate this holiday along the Russian scenario.’

But several hundred people carrying photographs of relatives who fought in what the Soviet Union called ‘The Great Patriotic War’ still marched through Kiev on Tuesday.

Many Russians were today honouring the dead in their own families by taking part in marches to the Immortal Regiment, holding pictures of relatives who perished in the war

Russian President Vladimir Putin joined other dignitaries as he watched the massive parade this morning

Russian President Vladimir Putin joined other dignitaries as he watched the massive parade this morning

Amid heightened security both President Vladimir Putin (left) and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (right) were there to celebrate the 72nd anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany

Amid heightened security both President Vladimir Putin (left) and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (right) were there to celebrate the 72nd anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany

The Kremlin has been flexing its military muscle in the hydrocarbon-rich Arctic region, as it vies for dominance with rivals Canada, the United States and Norway

The Kremlin has been flexing its military muscle in the hydrocarbon-rich Arctic region, as it vies for dominance with rivals Canada, the United States and Norway

The strongman was using the parade today to showcase Russia's modern military might, with one senior military commander saying it would make foreign foes

The strongman was using the parade today to showcase Russia’s modern military might, with one senior military commander saying it would make foreign foes ‘salivate’.

Preparations: Servicemen gathered in huge numbers before standing to attention as Vladimir Putin arrived this morning

A young child holds red flowers before the parade marking the Second World War anniversary in Moscow this morning

A young child holds red flowers before the parade marking the Second World War anniversary in Moscow this morning

A number of war veterans were invited to watch the Victory Day military parade at Red Square in Moscow today

A number of war veterans were invited to watch the Victory Day military parade at Red Square in Moscow today

Vladimir Putin was among the high-ranking Russian officials who attended the event, which saw 10,000 troops march through Red Square

Vladimir Putin was among the high-ranking Russian officials who attended the event, which saw 10,000 troops march through Red Square

The event included a performance from a military band. Parades were held across Russia's sprawling expanse

The event included a performance from a military band. Parades were held across Russia’s sprawling expanse

Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Col Gen Oleg Salyukov, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Ground Forces, review the troops during a Victory Day military parade marking the 72nd anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War, the Eastern Front of World War II, in Moscow's Red Squareniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War, the Eastern Front of World War II, in Moscow’s Red Square

People in Sevastopol, Crimea, carry portraits of late Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and World War Two soldiers during the Immortal Regiment march as they celebrate the 72nd anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany

People in Sevastopol, Crimea, carry portraits of late Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and World War Two soldiers during the Immortal Regiment march as they celebrate the 72nd anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany

They were confronted by a small group of nationalists who pelted them with several smoke bombs before being restrained by the police.

The atmosphere was calmer on Donetsk’s central Lenin Square.

Entire families watched the hardware roll by and cheered. Some parents dressed up their children in military fatigues.

Lenin Square itself was adorned by a 1960s L-29 Delfin military jet trainer used during the Cold War by nations in central and eastern Europe that were under the Kremlin’s thumb.

A young student came to the rebel parade with a Russian Saint George’s ribbon pinned to his shirt and a bouquet of flowers.

‘I want to see the day when, at the end of our own war, we also get a chance to celebrate Victory Day,’ the 20-year-old told AFP.

‘Our war is almost as long as the Great Patriotic War. It is time to finish it already.’

World War Two veteran Vladimir Ivanov talks to a child during celebrations in Gorky Park marking the 72nd anniversary of the Victory over Nazi Germany

World War Two veteran Vladimir Ivanov talks to a child during celebrations in Gorky Park marking the 72nd anniversary of the Victory over Nazi Germany

People carry portraits of relatives who fought in World War Two, and Russian and Soviet flags, during the Immortal Regiment march along the Red Square in Moscow

People carry portraits of relatives who fought in World War Two, and Russian and Soviet flags, during the Immortal Regiment march along the Red Square in Moscow

Russians came out in their thousands to remember the country's war dead, by carrying pictures and portraits of their relatives above their heads

Russians came out in their thousands to remember the country’s war dead, by carrying pictures and portraits of their relatives above their heads

Cadets from the Saint Petersburg Suvorov Military School march and sing in the city's Palace Square during a Victory Day parade

Cadets from the Saint Petersburg Suvorov Military School march and sing in the city’s Palace Square during a Victory Day parade

A pensioner in Ryazan, south east of Moscow, shares a dance with a young women as they celebrate Victory Day

A pensioner in Ryazan, south east of Moscow, shares a dance with a young women as they celebrate Victory Day

Russian young couples dressed in old style military uniform dance at a traditional veterans meeting point near Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow

Paratroopers dressed in blue were involved in a huge march on Red Square

Russian young couples dressed in old style military uniform dance at a traditional veterans meeting point near Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow (left). Paratroopers dressed in blue were involved in a huge march on Red Square (right)

: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4487306/Putin-shows-Russia-s-firepower-huge-military-parade.html#ixzz4gbxBg4jf

Story 3: Will President Trump Win War in Afghanistan By Authorizing 40,000 Additional Troops? —  Is President Trump a Noninterventionist or  Interventionist or Neoconservative? — Videos

Sean Spicer Won’t Confirm If President Trump Is Sending Thousands More US Troops To Afghanistan 

Trump Could Send As Many As 5K More Troops To Afghanistan

Pentagon to request thousands more US troops for Afghan : Is it necessary??

Published on May 8, 2017

Pentagon to request thousands more US troops for Afghan: Is it necessary??

he US military will ask the Donald Trump administration next week to deploy thousands more troops to Afghanistan, a senior official says.

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Condoleezza Rice: Increasing Troops In Afghanistan ‘Doesn’t Make Sense’ Without New Strategy | TODAY

U.S. poised to expand military effort against Taliban in Afghanistan

May 8 at 6:30 PM
President Trump’s most senior military and foreign policy advisers have proposed a major shift in strategy in Afghanistan that would effectively put the United States back on a war footing with the Taliban.The new plan, which still needs the approval of the president, calls for expanding the U.S. military role as part of a broader effort to push an increasingly confident and resurgent Taliban back to the negotiating table, U.S. officials said.The plan comes at the end of a sweeping policy review built around the president’s desire to reverse worsening security in Afghanistan and “start winning” again, said one U.S. official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
The new strategy, which has the backing of top Cabinet officials, would authorize the Pentagon, not the White House, to set troop numbers in Afghanistan and give the military far broader authority to use airstrikes to target Taliban militants. It would also lift Obama-era restrictions that limited the mobility of U.S. military advisers on the battlefield.

The net result of the changes would be to reverse moves by President Barack Obama to steadily limit the U.S. military role in Afghanistan, along with the risk to American troops and the cost of the war effort, more than 15 years after U.S. forces first arrived there.

Spicer says Trump wants to ‘eliminate the threats’ in Afghanistan

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on May 9 said President Trump wants to “eliminate the threats” against the U.S. in Afghanistan. (Reuters)

Trump is expected to make a final call on the strategy before a May 25 NATO summit in Brussels that he plans to attend.

Officials said it is unclear whether Trump, who has spoken little about the United States’ longest war, will look favorably upon expanding the U.S. role in Afghanistan. While he has voiced skepticism about allowing U.S. troops to become bogged down in foreign conflicts, the president has also expressed a desire to be tough on terrorism and has seemed to delight in the use of military force.

“The review is an opportunity to send a message that, yes, the U.S. is going to send more troops, but it’s not to achieve a forever military victory,” said Andrew Wilder, an Afghanistan expert at the U.S. Institute of Peace. “Rather, it’s to try to bring about a negotiated end to this conflict.”

The new strategy is a product of the U.S. military’s mounting worries that the fragile stalemate with the Taliban has been steadily eroding for years, jeopardizing the survival of an allied government and endangering a key U.S. base for combating militant groups such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State throughout South Asia.

Even as it moves to the president’s desk, the proposal faces resistance from some senior administration officials who fear a repeat of earlier decisions to intensify military efforts that produced only temporary improvements.

Inside the White House, those opposed to the plan have begun to refer derisively to the strategy as “McMaster’s War,” a reference to H.R. McMaster, the president’s national security adviser. The general, who once led anti-corruption efforts in Afghanistan and was one of the architects of President George W. Bush’s troop surge in Iraq, is the driving force behind the new strategy at the White House.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says he sees 2017 as “another tough year for the valiant Afghan security forces and the international troops.” (Reuters)

The White House declined to comment.

The plan envisions an increase of at least 3,000 U.S. troops to an existing force of about 8,400. The U.S. force would also be bolstered by requests for matching troops from NATO nations.

But, in keeping with the Trump administration’s desire to empower military decision-making, the Pentagon would have final say on troop levels and how those forces are employed on the battlefield. The plan would also increase spending on Afghanistan’s troubled government in an effort to improve its capacity.

The additional troops and aid spending would add to the fiscal toll of a war that already costs $23 billion annually, a factor Trump advisers expect will weigh heavily in the president’s considerations.

In a break with the past, U.S. officials said that increases in U.S. troop levels and support to the Afghan government and military would be heavily conditioned on the ability of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who heads a fragile unity government, to weed out ineffective military commanders and reduce corruption, both of which have led some aggrieved Afghans to turn to the Taliban as a better alternative.

The question at the heart of the new strategy is whether U.S. and Afghan forces, even if bolstered by new troops and authorities to target the Taliban, can create enough pressure to push the war toward a negotiated settlement. Those opposing the escalation have argued that even the Obama-era surge, which peaked at 100,000, did not result in Taliban concessions in on-again, off-again U.S.-Taliban talks begun in 2011.

That effort eventually crumbled amid U.S. government divisions and resistance from the Afghan government, which feared being cut out of the process. While Pakistan and other governments have sought to foster separate talks in recent years, progress has been scant since the 2016 death of Taliban leader Akhtar Mohammad Mansour in a U.S. airstrike .

Those failures, and his deep-seated desire to end the war before leaving office, led Obama to craft a plan to cut U.S. troop levels to 1,000 before leaving office. In late 2014, he also took away the military’s authority to directly target Taliban leadership, stating that the United States was no longer at war with the insurgent group.

But the Taliban’s advance across Afghanistan, where it has chipped away at government control of rural areas and occasionally seized a major city, eventually compelled Obama to abandon that low troop target.

Obama also loosened rules so U.S. forces could target the Taliban with airstrikes in limited situations, for example when Afghan troops faced danger of being overrun or needed support from American warplanes for major operations.

Under the steps proposed in the new strategy, U.S. aircraft would again be permitted to strike the Taliban in a broader array of situations, allowing for greater air support of Afghan offensives. The new rules would also enable U.S. military advisers to accompany conventional Afghan forces closer to the front lines, similar to the freedom they have with elite Afghan forces in a separate counterterrorism mission.

Similar measures proposed last year by the outgoing U.S. military commander for Afghanistan provoked a backlash among top Pentagon leaders, but this time military leaders including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis are supportive.

The new strategy comes at a critical time for Afghan forces, which have taken massive casualties and continue to suffer from corruption and poor leadership. Their vulnerability was exposed last month when a handful of Taliban militants killed 140 soldiers in an assault on a military base in northern Afghanistan.

Even proponents of the plan have modest expectations for what an enhanced military effort, given the Taliban’s strength, can achieve. Rather than stopping the militants from taking over additional territory, officials expect that Afghan forces will at best be able to “hold the line” this year and begin to recapture some key terrain from the Taliban next year.

The goal is to make “incremental progress” in coming years in the hope that those gains will be enough to persuade the Taliban to make concessions that will lead to peace, said a U.S. official familiar with the plan.

Wilder said that the emphasis on using military pressure to reach a political agreement made sense but that there is no guarantee it would work given the diverse objectives of key players in the war, such as the Taliban, the Afghan government, Pakistan, Iran and increasingly Russia.

Even backers of a more robust approach concede that the chances of a major peace deal to end the war are low.

“If we don’t achieve that, Plan B should be to prevent state collapse, which would also require additional military resources,” Wilder said.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-poised-to-expand-military-effort-against-taliban-in-afghanistan/2017/05/08/356c4930-33fa-11e7-b412-62beef8121f7_story.html?utm_term=.6129a27bc9db

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The Pronk Pops Show 881, April 26, 2017, Story 1: District Court Judge in 9th Circuit Commits Judicial Fraud Makes Up A Violation of Law — Trump Executive Order Requires Existing Federal Laws Passed By Congress Be Enforced — Videos — Story 2: Senator Ted Cruz Great Idea For Paying For The Wall — Videos — Story 3: Trump’s Latest Tax Proposal — Good But Not Great — Missed Opportunity To Transition From An Income Tax Based System To A Broad Based Consumption Tax — FairTax or Fair Tax Less — Forget The Republican Establishment Border Adjustment Tax — Videos

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Image result for list of santuary citiesImage result for branco cartoons trump paying for the wallImage result for branco cartoons trump tax reform blueprint april 26, 2017

 

 

 

Story 1: District Court Judge in 9th Circuit Commits Judicial Fraud Makes Up A Violation of Law — Trump Executive Order Requires Existing Federal Laws Passed By Congress Be Enforced — Videos — 

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Federal judge rules Trump cannot punish sanctuary cities by withholding funds

Sanctuary Cities, Fed Money, and 9th Circuit Judge Block!

CA Fed Judge: Pres Trump Can’t Punish Sanctuary Cities By Withholding Funds – Tucker Carlson

San Francisco sues over Trump’s executive order targeting sanctuary cities

Judge Blocks Attempts To Withhold Funding For Sanctuary Cities

9th Circuit Court “Going Bananas”

A Ruling About Nothing

by ANDREW C. MCCARTHY April 26, 2017 1:45 PM

A federal judge suspends Trump’s unenforced ban on funding for sanctuary cities.

A federal judge suspends Trump’s unenforced ban on funding for sanctuary cities. A showboating federal judge in San Francisco has issued an injunction against President Trump’s executive order cutting off federal funds from so-called sanctuary cities. The ruling distorts the E.O. beyond recognition, accusing the president of usurping legislative authority despite the order’s express adherence to “existing law.” Moreover, undeterred by the inconvenience that the order has not been enforced, the activist court — better to say, the fantasist court — dreams up harms that might befall San Francisco and Santa Clara, the sanctuary jurisdictions behind the suit, if it were enforced. The court thus flouts the standing doctrine, which limits judicial authority to actual controversies involving concrete, non-speculative harms.

Although he vents for 49 pages, Judge William H. Orrick III gives away the game early, on page 4. There, the Obama appointee explains that his ruling is about . . . nothing. That is, Orrick acknowledges that he is adopting the construction of the E.O. urged by the Trump Justice Department, which maintains that the order does nothing more than call for the enforcement of already existing law. Although that construction is completely consistent with the E.O. as written, Judge Orrick implausibly describes it as “implausible.”

That is, Orrick acknowledges that he is adopting the construction of the E.O. urged by the Trump Justice Department, which maintains that the order does nothing more than call for the enforcement of already existing law. Although that construction is completely consistent with the E.O. as written, Judge Orrick implausibly describes it as “implausible.”

Since Orrick ultimately agrees with the Trump Justice Department, and since no enforcement action has been taken based on the E.O., why not just dismiss the case? Why the judicial theatrics?

There appear to be two reasons.

The first is Orrick’s patent desire to embarrass the White House, which rolled out the E.O. with great fanfare. The court wants it understood that Trump is a pretender: For all the hullaballoo, the E.O. effectively did nothing. Indeed, Orrick rationalizes his repeated misreadings of what the order actually says by feigning disbelief that what it says could possibly be what it means. Were that the case, he suggests, there would have been no reason to issue the order in the first place.

Thus, taking a page from the activist left-wing judges who invalidated Trump’s “travel ban” orders, Orrick harps on stump speeches by Trump and other administration officials. One wonders how well Barack “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan” Obama would have fared under the judiciary’s new Trump Doctrine: The extravagant political rhetoric by which the incumbent president customarily sells his policies relieves a court of the obligation to grapple with the inevitably more modest legal text of the directives that follow.

Of course, the peer branches of government are supposed to presume each other’s good faith in the absence of a patent violation of the law. But let’s put aside the unseemliness of Orrick’s barely concealed contempt for a moment, because he is also wrong. The proper purpose of an executive order is to direct the operations of the executive branch within the proper bounds of the law. There is, therefore, nothing untoward about an E.O. that directs the president’s subordinates to take enforcement action within the confines of congressional statutes.

In fact, it is welcome.

It is the president’s burden to set federal law-enforcement priorities. After years of Obama’s lax enforcement of immigration law and apathy regarding sanctuary jurisdictions, an E.O. openly manifesting an intent to execute the laws vigorously can have a salutary effect. And indeed, indications are that the cumulative effect of Trump’s more zealous approach to enforcement, of which the sanctuary-city E.O. is just one component, has been a significant reduction in the number of aliens seeking to enter the U.S. illegally.

In any event, eight years of Obama’s phone and pen have made it easy to forget that the president is not supposed to make law, and thus that we should celebrate, not condemn, an E.O. that does not break new legal ground. Orrick, by contrast, proceeds from the flawed premise that if a president is issuing an E.O., it simply must be his purpose to usurp congressional authority. Then he censures Trump for a purported usurpation that is nothing more than a figment of his own very active imagination.

Orrick’s second reason for issuing his Ruling About Nothing is to rationalize what is essentially an advisory opinion. It holds — I know you’ll be shocked to hear this — that if Trump ever did try to cut off funds from sanctuary cities, it would be an epic violation of the Constitution. Given that courts are supposed to refrain from issuing advisory opinions, the Constitution is actually more aggrieved by Orrick than by Trump. * * *

In a nutshell, the court claims that the E.O. is presidential legislation, an unconstitutional violation of the separation of powers. Orrick insists that the E.O. directs the attorney general and the secretary of homeland security to cut off any federal funds that would otherwise go to states and municipalities if they “willfully refuse to comply” with a federal law (Section 1373 of Title 8) that calls for state and local cooperation in enforcing immigration law.

According to Judge Orrick, Trump’s E.O. is heedless of whether Congress has approved any terminations of state funding from federal programs it has enacted. In one of the opinion’s most disingenuous passages, Orrick asserts that the E.O. “directs the Attorney General and the [Homeland Security] Secretary to ensure that ‘sanctuary jurisdictions’ are ‘not eligible to receive’ federal grants.” (Emphasis in original.)

But this is just not true; Orrick has omitted key context from the relevant passage, which actually states that “the Attorney General and the Secretary, in their discretion and to the extent consistent with law, shall ensure that jurisdictions that willfully refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373 (sanctuary jurisdictions) are not eligible to receive Federal grants.” (Emphasis added.) In plain English, the president has expressly restricted his subordinates to the limits that Congress has enacted. Under Trump’s order, there can be no suspension or denial of funding from a federal program unless congressional statutes authorize it. The president is not engaged in an Obama-

Of course, the peer branches of government are supposed to presume each other’s good faith in the absence of a patent violation of the law. But let’s put aside the unseemliness of Orrick’s barely concealed contempt for a moment, because he is also wrong. The proper purpose of an executive order is to direct the operations of the executive branch within the proper bounds of the law. There is, therefore, nothing untoward about an E.O. that directs the president’s subordinates to take enforcement action within the confines of congressional statutes. In fact, it is welcome.

It is the president’s burden to set federal law-enforcement priorities. After years of Obama’s lax enforcement of immigration law and apathy regarding sanctuary jurisdictions, an E.O. openly manifesting an intent to execute the laws vigorously can have a salutary effect. And indeed, indications are that the cumulative effect of Trump’s more zealous approach to enforcement, of which the sanctuary-city E.O. is just one component, has been a significant reduction in the number of aliens seeking to enter the U.S. illegally. In any event, eight years of Obama’s phone and pen have made it easy to forget that the president is not supposed to make law, and thus that we should celebrate, not condemn, an E.O. that does not break new legal ground. Orrick, by contrast, proceeds from the flawed premise that if a president is issuing an E.O., it simply must be his purpose to usurp congressional authority. Then he censures Trump for a purported usurpation that is nothing more than a figment of his own very active imagination.

Orrick’s second reason for issuing his Ruling About Nothing is to rationalize what is essentially an advisory opinion. It holds — I know you’ll be shocked to hear this — that if Trump ever did try to cut off funds from sanctuary cities, it would be an epic violation of the Constitution. Given that courts are supposed to refrain from issuing advisory opinions, the Constitution is actually more aggrieved by Orrick than by Trump. * * *

In a nutshell, the court claims that the E.O. is presidential legislation, an unconstitutional violation of the separation of powers. Orrick insists that the E.O. directs the attorney general and the secretary of homeland security to cut off any federal funds that would otherwise go to states and municipalities if they “willfully refuse to comply” with a federal law (Section 1373 of Title 8) that calls for state and local cooperation in enforcing immigration law. According to Judge Orrick, Trump’s E.O. is heedless of whether Congress has approved any terminations of state funding from federal programs it has enacted. In one of the opinion’s most disingenuous passages, Orrick asserts that the E.O. “directs the Attorney General and the [Homeland Security] Secretary to ensure that ‘sanctuary jurisdictions’ are ‘not eligible to receive’ federal grants.” (Emphasis in original.)

But this is just not true; Orrick has omitted key context from the relevant passage, which actually states that “the Attorney General and the Secretary, in their discretion and to the extent consistent with law, shall ensure that jurisdictions that willfully refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373 (sanctuary jurisdictions) are not eligible to receive Federal grants.” (Emphasis added.)

In plain English, the president has expressly restricted his subordinates to the limits that Congress has enacted. Under Trump’s order, there can be no suspension or denial of funding from a federal program unless congressional statutes authorize it. The president is not engaged in an Obama-esque rewrite of federal law; he explicitly ordered his subordinates to follow federal law.

It is not enough to say Orrick mulishly ignores the clear text of the executive order. Again and again, Justice Department lawyers emphasized to the court that Trump’s order explicitly reaffirmed existing law. Orrick refused to listen because, well, what fun would that be? If the president is simply directing that the law be followed, there is no basis for a progressive judge to accuse him of violating the law.

Were he to concede that, how would Orrick then win this month’s Social Justice Warrior in a Robe Award for Telling Donald Trump What For? Orrick can’t confine himself to merely inventing a violation, either, because there is no basis for a lawsuit unless a violation results in real damages. So, the judge also has to fabricate some harm. This takes some doing since, in addition to merely directing that the law be enforced, the Trump administration has not actually taken any action against any sanctuary jurisdiction to this point.

No problem: Orrick theorizes that because San Francisco and Santa Clara receive lots of government funding, Trump’s order afflicts them with “pre-enforcement” anxiety. They quake in fear that their safety-net and services budgets will be slashed. Sanctuary cities? Maybe we should call them snowflake cities. As noted above, there is a transparent agenda behind Orrick’s sleight of hand. The judge is keen to warn the president that, if ever his administration were to deny funds to sanctuary cities, it would violate the Constitution. It is in connection with this advisory opinion that the judge makes the only point worthy of consideration — albeit not in the case before him. Here, it is useful to recall the Supreme Court’s first Obamacare ruling.

Sanctuary cities? Maybe we should call them snowflake cities.

As noted above, there is a transparent agenda behind Orrick’s sleight of hand. The judge is keen to warn the president that, if ever his administration were to deny funds to sanctuary cities, it would violate the Constitution. It is in connection with this advisory opinion that the judge makes the only point worthy of consideration — albeit not in the case before him. Here, it is useful to recall the Supreme Court’s first Obamacare ruling.

Sanctuary cities? Maybe we should call them snowflake cities. As noted above, there is a transparent agenda behind Orrick’s sleight of hand. The judge is keen to warn the president that, if ever his administration were to deny funds to sanctuary cities, it would violate the Constitution. It is in connection with this advisory opinion that the judge makes the only point worthy of consideration — albeit not in the case before him. Here, it is useful to recall the Supreme Court’s first Obamacare ruling.

As noted above, there is a transparent agenda behind Orrick’s sleight of hand. The judge is keen to warn the president that, if ever his administration were to deny funds to sanctuary cities, it would violate the Constitution. It is in connection with this advisory opinion that the judge makes the only point worthy of consideration — albeit not in the case before him. Here, it is useful to recall the Supreme Court’s first Obamacare ruling.

While conservatives inveighed against Chief Justice Roberts’s upholding of the individual mandate, the decision had a silver lining: The majority invalidated Obamacare’s Medicaid mandate, which required the states, as a condition of qualifying for federal Medicaid funding, to enforce the federal government’s generous new Medicaid qualifications. In our system, the states are sovereign — the federal government may not dictate to them in areas of traditional state regulation, nor may it conscript them to enforce federal law. The Supremes therefore explained that state agreements to accept federal funding in return for adopting federal standards (e.g., to accept highway funding in exchange for adopting the federally prescribed 55-mph speed limit) are like contracts. The state must agree to the federal government’s terms. Once such an agreement is reached, the feds may not unilaterally make material changes in the terms, nor may they use their superior bargaining position to extort a state into acceding to onerous new terms in order to get the federal money on which it has come to depend. Whether a particular case involves such an extortion, as opposed to a permissible nudge, depends on the facts. If the feds are too heavy-handed, they run the risk of violating the Tenth Amendment’s federalist division of powers.

Who knew federal judges in ur-statist San Francisco had become such federalists? Orrick contends that if Trump were to cut off funds from sanctuary cities for failure to assist federal immigration-enforcement officials, it would offend the Tenth Amendment. This is highly unlikely. First, let’s remember — though Orrick studiously forgets — that Trump’s order endorses only such stripping of funds as Congress has already approved. Thus, sanctuary jurisdictions would be ill-suited to claim that they’d been sandbagged.

Second, the money likely to be at issue would surely be nothing close to Medicaid funding. Finally, Trump would not be unilaterally rewriting an existing federal–state contract; he’d be calling for the states to follow federal laws that (a) were on the books when the states started taking federal money and (b) pertain to immigration, a legal realm in which the courts have held the federal government is supreme and the states subordinate. Still, all that said, whether any Trump-administration effort to cut off funding would run afoul of the Tenth Amendment would depend on such considerations as how much funding was actually cut; whether Congress had authorized the cut in designing the funding program; whether the funding was tightly related or unrelated to immigration enforcement; and how big a burden it would be for states to comply with federal demands. Those matters will be impossible to evaluate unless and until the administration actually directs a slashing of funds to a sanctuary jurisdiction. If that happens, there will almost certainly be no legal infirmity as long as Trump’s E.O. means what it says — namely, that any funding cuts must be consistent with existing federal law. But it hasn’t happened. And as long as it hasn’t happened, there is no basis for a court to involve itself, much less issue an anticipatory ruling. Such niceties matter only if you’re practicing law, though. Judge Orrick is practicing politics.

Thus, taking a page from the activist left-wing judges who invalidated Trump’s “travel ban” orders, Orrick harps on stump speeches by Trump and other administration officials. One wonders how well Barack “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan” Obama would have fared under the judiciary’s new Trump Doctrine: The extravagant political rhetoric by which the incumbent president customarily sells his policies relieves a court of the obligation to grapple with the inevitably more modest legal text of the directives that follow.

Here, it is useful to recall the Supreme Court’s first Obamacare ruling. While conservatives inveighed against Chief Justice Roberts’s upholding of the individual mandate, the decision had a silver lining: The majority invalidated Obamacare’s Medicaid mandate, which required the states, as a condition of qualifying for federal Medicaid funding, to enforce the federal government’s generous new Medicaid qualifications.

 

In our system, the states are sovereign — the federal government may not dictate to them in areas of traditional state regulation, nor may it conscript them to enforce federal law. The Supremes therefore explained that state agreements to accept federal funding in return for adopting federal standards (e.g., to accept highway funding in exchange for adopting the federally prescribed 55-mph speed limit) are like contracts. The state must agree to the federal government’s terms. Once such an agreement is reached, the feds may not unilaterally make material changes in the terms, nor may they use their superior bargaining position to extort a state into acceding to onerous new terms in order to get the federal money on which it has come to depend. Whether a particular case involves such an extortion, as opposed to a permissible nudge, depends on the facts. If the feds are too heavy-handed, they run the risk of violating the Tenth Amendment’s federalist division of powers.

Who knew federal judges in ur-statist San Francisco had become such federalists?

Orrick contends that if Trump were to cut off funds from sanctuary cities for failure to assist federal immigration-enforcement officials, it would offend the Tenth Amendment. This is highly unlikely. First, let’s remember — though Orrick studiously forgets — that Trump’s order endorses only such stripping of funds as Congress has already approved. Thus, sanctuary jurisdictions would be ill-suited to claim that they’d been sandbagged. Second, the money likely to be at issue would surely be nothing close to Medicaid funding. Finally, Trump would not be unilaterally rewriting an existing federal–state contract; he’d be calling for the states to follow federal laws that (a) were on the books when the states started taking federal money and (b) pertain to immigration, a legal realm in which the courts have held the federal government is supreme and the states subordinate.

Still, all that said, whether any Trump-administration effort to cut off funding would run afoul of the Tenth Amendment would depend on such considerations as how much funding was actually cut; whether Congress had authorized the cut in designing the funding program; whether the funding was tightly related or unrelated to immigration enforcement; and how big a burden it would be for states to comply with federal demands. Those matters will be impossible to evaluate unless and until the administration actually directs a slashing of funds to a sanctuary jurisdiction.

If that happens, there will almost certainly be no legal infirmity as long as Trump’s E.O. means what it says — namely, that any funding cuts must be consistent with existing federal law. But it hasn’t happened. And as long as it hasn’t happened, there is no basis for a court to involve itself, much less issue an anticipatory ruling.

Such niceties matter only if you’re practicing law, though. Judge Orrick is practicing politics.

 http://www.nationalreview.com/article/447058/trump-administration-sanctuary-city-executive-order-activist-liberal-judge-william-h-orrick

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Mexico–United States barrier

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Border fence near El Paso, Texas

Border fence between San Diego‘s border patrol offices in California (left) and Tijuana, Mexico (right)

The Mexico–United States barrier is a series of walls and fences along the Mexico–United States border aimed at preventingillegal crossings from Mexico into the United States and vice versa.[1] The barrier is not one continuous structure, but a grouping of relatively short physical walls, secured in between with a “virtual fence” which includes a system of sensors and cameras monitored by the United States Border Patrol.[2] As of January 2009, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported that it had more than 580 miles (930 km) of barriers in place.[3]The total length of the continental border is 1,989 miles (3,201 km).

Background

Two men scale the border fence into Mexico near Douglas, Arizona, in 2009

Two men scale the border fence into Mexico near Douglas, Arizona, in 2009

The barriers were built from 1994 as part of three larger “Operations” to taper transportation of illegal drugs manufactured in Latin America and immigration: Operation Gatekeeper in California, Operation Hold-the-Line[4] in Texas, and Operation Safeguard[5] in Arizona.

96.6 per cent of apprehensions by the Border Patrol in 2010 occurred at the southwest border.[6] The number of Border Patrol apprehensions declined 61% from 1,189,000 in 2005 to 723,840 in 2008 to 463,000 in 2010. The decrease in apprehensions may be due to a number of factors including changes in U.S. economic conditions and border enforcement efforts. Border apprehensions in 2010 were at their lowest level since 1972.[6] In March 2017 there were 17,000 apprehensions, which was the fifth month in a row of decline. In December 2016 apprehensions were at 58,478.[7]

The 1,954-mile (3,145 km) border between the United States and Mexico traverses a variety of terrains, including urban areas and deserts. The barrier is located on both urban and uninhabited sections of the border, areas where the most concentrated numbers of illegal crossings and drug trafficking have been observed in the past. These urban areas include San Diego, California and El Paso, Texas. As of August 29, 2008, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had built 190 miles (310 km) of pedestrian border fence and 154.3 miles (248.3 km) of vehicle border fence, for a total of 344.3 miles (554.1 km) of fence. The completed fence is mainly in New Mexico, Arizona, and California, with construction underway in Texas.[8]

U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported that it had more than 580 miles (930 km) of fence in place by the second week of January 2009.[3] Work is still under way on fence segments in Texas and on the Border Infrastructure System in California.

The border fence is not one continuous structure and is actually a grouping of short physical walls that stop and start, secured in between with “virtual fence” which includes a system of sensors and cameras monitored by Border Patrol Agents.[2]

As a result of the effect of the barrier, there has been a marked increase in the number of people trying to illegally cross the Sonoran Desert and crossing over the Baboquivari Mountain in Arizona.[9] Such illegal immigrants must cross 50 miles (80 km) of inhospitable terrain to reach the first road, which is located in the Tohono O’odhamIndian Reservation.[9][10]

Status

Aerial view of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua; the border can clearly be seen as it divides the two cities at night

Aerial view of El Paso, Texas (on the left) and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua (on the right), the border can clearly be seen as it divides the two cities at night

The wall in Tijuana, Mexico.

U.S. RepresentativeDuncan Hunter, a Republican from California and the then-chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, proposed a plan to the House on November 3, 2005 calling for the construction of a reinforced fence along the entire United States–Mexican border. This would also have included a 100-yard (91 m) border zone on the U.S. side. On December 15, 2005, Congressman Hunter’s amendment to the Border Protection, Anti-terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 (H.R. 4437) passed in the House. This plan called for mandatory fencing along 698 miles (1,123 km) of the 1,954-mile (3,145-km) border.[11] On May 17, 2006 the U.S. Senate proposed with Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 (S. 2611) what could be 370 miles (600 km) of triple layered-fencing and a vehicle fence. Although that bill died in committee, eventually the Secure Fence Act of 2006 was passed by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2006.[12]

The government of Mexico and ministers of several Latin American countries condemned the plans. Rick Perry, governor of Texas, also expressed his opposition saying that instead of closing the border it should be opened more and through technology support legal and safe migration.[13] The barrier expansion was also opposed by a unanimous vote of the Laredo, Texas City Council.[14] Laredo’s Mayor, Raul G. Salinas, was concerned about defending his town’s people by saying that the Bill which included miles of border wall would devastate Laredo. He stated “These are people that are sustaining our economy by forty percent, and I am gonna [sic] close the door on them and put [up] a wall? You don’t do that. It’s like a slap in the face.” He hoped that Congress would revise the Bill to better reflect the realities of life on the border.[15] There are no plans to build border fence in Laredo at this time.[citation needed]However, there is a large Border Patrol presence in Laredo.

Secure Fence Act

H.R. 6061, the “Secure Fence Act of 2006“, was introduced on September 13, 2006. It passed through the U.S. House of Representatives on September 14, 2006 with a vote of 283–138.

On September 29, 2006, by a vote of 80–19 the U.S. Senate confirmed H.R. 6061 authorizing, and partially funding the “possible” construction of 700 miles (1,125 km) of physical fence/barriers along the border. The very broad support implied that many assurances were been made by the Administration—to the Democrats, Mexico, and the pro “Comprehensive immigration reform” minority within the GOP—that Homeland Security would proceed very cautiously. Secretary of Homeland SecurityMichael Chertoff, announced that an eight-month test of the virtual fence he favored would precede any construction of a physical barrier.

On October 26, 2006, President George W. Bush signed H.R. 6061 which was voted upon and passed by the 109th Congress of the United States.[16] The signing of the bill came right after a CNN poll showed that most Americans “prefer the idea of more Border Patrol agents to a 700-mile (1,125-kilometer) fence.”[17] The Department of Homeland Security has a down payment of $1.2 billion marked for border security, but not specifically for the border fence.

As of January 2010, the fence project had been completed from San Diego, California to Yuma, Arizona.[dubious ] From there it continued into Texas and consisted of a fence that was 21 feet (6.4 m) tall and 6 feet (1.8 m) deep in the ground, cemented in a 3-foot (0.91 m)-wide trench with 5000 psi (345 bar; 352 kg/cm²) concrete. There were no fatalities during construction, but there were 4 serious injuries with multiple aggressive acts against building crews. There was one reported shooting with no injury to a crew member in Mexicali region. All fence sections are south of the All-American Canal, and have access roads giving border guards the ability to reach any point easily, including the dunes area where a border agent was killed 3 years before and is now sealed off.

The Republican Party’s 2012 platform stated that “The double-layered fencing on the border that was enacted by Congress in 2006, but never completed, must finally be built.”[18] The Secure Fence Act’s costs were estimated at $6 billion,[19] more than the Customs and Border Protection’s entire annual discretionary budget of $5.6 billion.[20] The Washington Office on Latin America noted on its Border Fact Check site in about the year 2013 that the cost of complying with the Secure Fence Act’s mandate was the reason it had not been completely fulfilled.[21]

Rethinking the expansion

In January 2007 incoming House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD) announced that Congress would revisit the fence plan, with committee chairs holding up funding until a comprehensive border security plan was presented by the United States Department of Homeland Security. Then the Republican senators from Texas, John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison, advocated revising the plan, as well.[14]

The REAL ID Act, attached as a rider to a supplemental appropriations bill funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, decreed, “Not withstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall have the authority to waive all legal requirements such Secretary, in such Secretary’s sole discretion, determines necessary to ensure expeditious construction of the barriers and roads.” Secretary Chertoff used his new power to “waive in their entirety” the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Coastal Zone Management Act, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act to extend triple fencing through the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve near San Diego.[22] The Real ID Act further stipulates that the Secretary’s decisions are not subject to judicial review, and in December 2005 a federal judge dismissed legal challenges by the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society, and others to Chertoff’s decision.[citation needed]

Secretary Chertoff exercised his waiver authority on April 1, 2008. In June 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal of a lower court ruling upholding the waiver authority in a case filed by the Sierra Club.[23] In September 2008 a federal district court judge in El Paso dismissed a similar lawsuit brought by El Paso County, Texas.[24]

By January 2009, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Homeland Security had spent $40 million on environmental analysis and mitigation measures aimed at blunting any possible adverse impact that the fence might have on the environment. On January 16, 2009, DHS announced it was pledging an additional $50 million for that purpose, and signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of the Interior for utilization of the additional funding.[25]

Expansion freeze

On March 16, 2010, the Department of Homeland Security announced that there would be a halt to expand the “virtual fence” beyond two pilot projects in Arizona.[26]

Contractor Boeing Corporation had numerous delays and cost overruns. Boeing had initially used police dispatching software that was unable to process all of the information coming from the border. The $50 million of remaining funding would be used for mobile surveillance devices, sensors, and radios to patrol and protect the border. At the time, the Department of Homeland Security had spent $3.4 billion on border fences and had built 640 miles (1,030 km) of fences and barriers as part of the Secure Border Initiative.[26]

Local efforts

In response to a perceived lack of will on the part of the federal government to build a secure border fence, and a lack of state funds, Arizona officials plan to launch a website allowing donors to help fund a state border fence.[citation needed]

Piecemeal fencing has also been established. In 2005, under its president, Ramón H. Dovalina, Laredo Community College, located on the border, obtained a 10-foot fence built by the United States Marine Corps. The structure was not designed as a border barrier per se but was intended to divert smugglers and illegal immigrants to places where the authorities can halt entrance into the United States.[27]

Trump administration

Further information: Executive Order 13767

Donald Trump signing Executive Order 13767

Throughout his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump called for the construction of a much larger and fortified wall along the Mexico–United States border, and claimed Mexico will pay for its construction, estimated at $8 to $12 billion, while others state there are enough uncertainties to drive up the cost between $15 to $25 billion.[28][29][30][31] In January 2017, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said the country would not pay,[32][28] and later compared then President-elect Trump’s rhetoric to the former Dictator of Italy Benito Mussolini.[33] On January 25, 2017, the Trump administration signed a Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements Executive Order, 13767 to commence the building of the border wall.[34]In response, Peña Nieto gave a national televised address confirming they would not pay, adding “Mexico doesn’t believe in walls”, and cancelled a scheduled meeting with Trump at the White House.[35][36]

In March 2017, President Donald Trump submitted a budget amendment for fiscal year (FY) 2017 that included an extra $3 billion for border security and immigration enforcement. Trump’s FY 2018 Budget Blueprint increases discretionary funds for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by $2.8 billion (to $44.1 billion). DHS would be the agency in charge of building the border wall.[7]

DHS Secretary John F. Kelly told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee during a hearing that the Budget Blueprint “includes $2.6 billion for high-priority border security technology and tactical infrastructure, including funding to plan, design and construct the border wall.” Specific details will come in mid-May 2017, he said.[7]

According to Homeland Preparedness News, “Former members of U.S. Customs and Border Protection downplayed the idea that a wall alone would be enough to strengthen the U.S. southern border in a Senate hearing on [April 4, 2017], framing it as part of a broader strategy.”[37]

One vocal critic of the wall is U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO). She said during the hearing that while Americans want a secure border, she has “not met anyone that says the most effective way is to build a wall across the entirety of our southern border. The only one who keeps talking about that is President Trump.”[37]

Controversy

The barrier has been criticized for being easy to get around. Some methods include digging under it (sometimes using complex tunnel systems), climbing the fence (using wire cutters to remove barbed-wire) or locating and digging holes in vulnerable sections of the wall. Many Latin-Americans have also traveled by boat through the Gulf of Mexico or the Pacific Coast.

Divided land

Tribal lands of three indigenous nations would be divided by the proposed border fence.[38][39]

On January 27, 2008, a U.S. Native American human rights delegation, which included Margo Tamez (Lipan Apache-Jumano Apache) and Teresa Leal (Opata-Mayo) reported the removal of the official International Boundary obelisks of 1848 by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in the Las Mariposas, Sonora-Arizona sector of the Mexico–U.S. border.[40][41] The obelisks were moved southward approximately 20 meters, onto the property of private landowners in Sonora, as part of the larger project of installing the 18-foot (5.5 m) steel barrier wall.[42]

The proposed route for the border fence would divide the campus of the University of Texas at Brownsville into two parts, according to Antonio N. Zavaleta, a vice president of the university.[43] There have been campus protests against the wall by students who feel it will harm their school.[2] In August 2008, UT-Brownsville reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for the university to construct a portion of the fence across and adjacent to its property. The final agreement, which was filed in federal court on Aug 5 and formally signed by the Texas Southmost College Board of Trustees later that day, ended all court proceedings between UTB/TSC and DHS. On August 20, 2008, the university sent out a request for bids for the construction of a 10-foot (3.0 m) high barrier that incorporates technology security for its segment of the border fence project. The southern perimeter of the UTB/TSC campus will be part of a laboratory for testing new security technology and infrastructure combinations.[44] The border fence segment on the UTB campus was substantially completed by December 2008.[45]

Hidalgo County

In the spring of 2007 more than 25 landowners, including a corporation and a school district, from Hidalgo and Starr County in Texas refused border fence surveys, which would determine what land was eligible for building on, as an act of protest.[46]

In July 2008, Hidalgo County and Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1 entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for the construction of a project that combines the border fence with a levee to control flooding along the Rio Grande. Construction of two of the Hidalgo County fence segments are under way; five more segments are scheduled to be built during the fall of 2008; the Hidalgo County section of the border fence will constitute 22 miles (35 km) of combined fence and levee.[47]

Mexico’s condemnations

Mexico-United States barrier at the pedestrian border crossing in Tijuana

Mexico-United States barrier at the pedestrian border crossing in Tijuana

In 2006, the Mexican government vigorously condemned the Secure Fence act of 2006. Mexico has also urged the U.S. to alter its plans for expanded fences along their shared border, saying that it would damage the environment and harm wildlife.[48]

In June 2007, it was announced that a section of the barrier had been mistakenly built from 1 to 6 feet (2 meters) inside Mexican territory. This will necessitate the section being moved at an estimated cost of over $3 million (U.S.).[49]

In 2012, then presidential candidate of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto was campaigning in Tijuana at the Playas de Monumental, less than 600 yards (550 m) from the U.S.–Mexico border adjacent to Border Field State Park. In one of his speeches he criticized the U.S. government for building the barriers, and asked for them to be removed. Ultimately, he mocked Ronald Reagan’s “Tear down this wall!” speech from Berlin in 1987.[citation needed]

Migrant deaths

The Wall at the border of Tijuana, Mexico and San Diego. The crosses represent migrants who died in the crossing attempt. Some identified, some not. Surveillance tower in the background.

Between 1994 and 2007, there were around 5,000 Migrant deaths along the Mexico–United States border, according to a document created by the Human Rights National Commission of Mexico, also signed by the American Civil Liberties Union.[50] Between 43 and 61 people died trying to cross the Sonoran Desert from October 2003 to May 2004; three times that of the same period the previous year.[9] In October 2004 the Border Patrol announced that 325 people had died crossing the entire border during the previous 12 months.[51] Between 1998 and 2004, 1,954 persons are officially reported to have died along the US-Mexico border. Since 2004, the bodies of 1,086 migrants have been recovered in the southern Arizona desert.[52]

U.S. Border Patrol Tucson Sector reported on October 15, 2008 that its agents were able to save 443 undocumented immigrants from certain death after being abandoned by their smugglers, during FY 2008, while reducing the number of deaths by 17% from 202 in FY 2007 to 167 in FY 2008. Without the efforts of these agents, hundreds more could have died in the deserts of Arizona.[53] According to the same sector, border enhancements like the wall have allowed the Tucson Sector agents to reduce the number of apprehensions at the borders by 16% compared with fiscal year 2007.[54]

Environmental impact

"Wildlife-friendly" border wall in Brownsville, Texas, which would allow wildlife to cross the border. A young man climbs wall using horizontal beams for foot support.

“Wildlife-friendly” border wall in Brownsville, Texas, which would allow wildlife to cross the border. A young man climbs wall using horizontal beams for foot support.

In April 2008, the Department of Homeland Security announced plans to waive more than 30 environmental and cultural laws to speed construction of the barrier. Despite claims from then Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff that the department would minimize the construction’s impact on the environment, critics in Arizona and Texas asserted the fence endangered species and fragile ecosystems along the Rio Grande. Environmentalists expressed concern about butterfly migration corridors and the future of species of local wildcats, the ocelot, the jaguarundi, and the jaguar.[55]

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) conducted environmental reviews of each pedestrian and vehicle fence segment covered by the waiver, and published the results of this analysis in Environmental Stewardship Plans (ESPs).[56] Although not required by the waiver, CBP has conducted the same level of environmental analysis (in the ESPs) that would have been performed before the waiver (in the “normal” NEPA process) to evaluate potential impacts to sensitive resources in the areas where fence is being constructed.

ESPs completed by CBP contain extremely limited surveys of local wildlife. For example, the ESP for border fence built in the Del Rio Sector included a single survey for wildlife completed in November 2007, and only “3 invertebrates, 1 reptile species, 2 amphibian species, 1 mammal species, and 21 bird species were recorded.” The ESPs then dismiss the potential for most adverse effects on wildlife, based on sweeping generalizations and without any quantitative analysis of the risks posed by border barriers. Approximately 461 acres (187 ha) of vegetation will be cleared along the impact corridor. From the Rio Grande Valley ESP: “The impact corridor avoids known locations of individuals of Walker’s manioc and Zapata bladderpod, but approaches several known locations of Texas ayenia. For this reason, impacts on federally listed plants are anticipated to be short-term, moderate, and adverse.” This excerpt is typical of the ESPs in that the risk to endangered plants is deemed short-term without any quantitative population analysis.[citation needed]

By August 2008, more than 90 percent of the southern border in Arizona and New Mexico had been surveyed. In addition, 80 percent of the California/Mexico border has been surveyed.[8]

See also

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexico%E2%80%93United_States_barrier

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UNVEILED: TRUMP’S TAX PLAN

Trump calls for dramatic tax cuts for individuals and businesses

The Main Highlights In Trump’s Sweeping Tax Reform Proposal

Tyler Durden's picture

In brief, the tax reform was largely in line with what was leaked and what was expected. Small surprises: the tax bracket for high income earners was 2% more (at 35%) than what Trump campaigned on, and the standard deduction has been doubled so that no married couple pays tax on their first 24k earned, Citi notes.

As expected, no mention of border adjustment taxes. The plan also looks to repeal real estate taxes, alternative minimum tax and the death tax. Territorial taxes are also included. As we type, Mnuchin and Cohn are answering their last question.

Below is the actual tax from the White House:

2017 Tax Reform for Economic Growth and American Jobs

The Biggest Individual And Business Tax Cut in American History

Goals For Tax Reform

  • Grow the economy and create millions of jobs
  • Simplify our burdensome tax code
  • Provide tax relief to American families—especially middle-income families
  • Lower the business tax rate from one of the highest in the world to one of the lowest

Individual Reform

  • Tax relief for American families, especially middle-income families:
    • Reducing the 7 tax brackets to 3 tax brackets of to%, 25% and 35%
    • Doubling the standard deduction
    • Providing tax relief for families with child and dependent care expenses
  • Simplification:
    • Eliminate targeted tax breaks that mainly benefit the wealthiest taxpayers
    • Protect the home ownership and charitable gift tax deductions
    • Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax
    • Repeal the death tax
  • Repeal the 3.8% Obamacare tax that hits small businesses and investment income

Business Reform

  • 15% business tax rate
  • Territorial tax system to level the playing field for American companies
  • One-time tax on trillions of dollars held overseas
  • Eliminate tax breaks for special interests

Process

Throughout the month of May, the Trump Administration will hold listening sessions with stakeholders to receive their input and will continue working with the House and Senate to develop the details of a plan that provides massive tax relief, creates jobs, and makes America more competitive—and can pass both chambers.

A few additional observations from Citi:

What didn’t Mnuchin or Cohn tell us, in addition to the details noted above:

  • Did not specify if the plan would be “revenue neutral,” which is needed to get permanent policy.
  • Mnuchin didn’t talk about how dynamic scoring could play a hand in implementation during the official press conference but he did touch on this in an earlier appearance for The Hill. Dynamic analysis accounts for the macroeconomic impacts of tax, spending, and regulatory policy, while dynamic scoring uses dynamic analysis in estimating the budgetary impact of proposed policy changes. Ultimately, the Trump Administration believes policies will generate growth above 3.0%YoY, which can pay for the plan. The challenge is that it has to sell this view to Congress.
  • Did not discuss border adjustment taxes (BAT) during the official conference but did brush on this during his appearance on The Hill.  Mnuchin said “we don’t think it works in its current form” but there will be ongoing discussions on this. Ryan also acknowledged the BAT needed work.

When asked by The Hill editor-in-chief as to whether or not he’s reached out to any centrist Democrats for input on the plan, Mnuchin declined to comment on the “specifics.” He “hopes Democrats won’t get in way.”

Ryan said several times Wednesday that Republicans plan to use reconciliation as a vehicle for tax reform. This point is very important but to illustrate this, one has to understand the reconciliation process.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities helps define it. Created by the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, reconciliation allows for expedited consideration of certain tax, spending, and debt limit legislation. In the Senate, reconciliation bills are approved with a simple majority of 51. To start the reconciliation process, the House and Senate must agree on a budget resolution that includes “reconciliation directives” for specified committees in the House and Senate. Those committees must report legislation by a certain date that does one or more of the following:

  • Increases or decreases spending (outlays) by specified amounts over a specified time;
  • Increases or decreases revenues by specified amounts over a specified time
  • Raises or lowers the public debt limit by a specified amount.

Republicans could pursue tax reform under the budget reconciliation process, meaning the Senate could pass bills related to the budget – but reconciliation requires the long-term savings. Post 10y, scoring has to indicate that the bill will be revenue neutral or revenue positive or it doesn’t work.

That looks to be exactly why Republicans wanted to prioritize healthcare reform: the Congressional Budget Office estimated the American Health Care Act would reduce federal deficits by USD337 billion over the next 10y. Given that tax reform estimates signal a revenue burden, various political analysts posit that Republicans have been looking to repeal Obamacare to pay for some parts of tax reform.

Without healthcare reform, Republicans could face challenges getting a revenue neutral, long-term tax reform.

  • The Tax Policy Center estimates Trump’s plan for a 15% corporate tax rate would decrease federal revenues by USD2.3tn between 2016 and 2026. Trump’s campaign tax plan for corporations and individuals could cause revenue to drop by roughly USD6tn between 2016 and 2026, according to the projections.
  • The Tax Policy Center is left-leaning but is being heard out. Even Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch has said a 15% corporate tax would increase the deficit and if the overall plan doesn’t include border adjustment tax – or borrow funds via healthcare reform – Republicans will have to find revenue streams.

* * *

Some parting thoughts:: as Time’s Zeke Miller notes this Trump tax plan is the same as the one released last fall. “If his team has been working on it for the last 6mos, we didn’t see it 2day.”

Additionally, while the proposed tax plan does not raise taxes on hedge fund managers, as Trump vowed during his campaign, courtesy of the cut in LLC tax rates, it will likely lower the taxes many if not all HF managers pay.

And, of course, with the state deduction gone, it means that for many Americans the net effect will be to raise, not lower the amount of tax owed.

* * *

Of course the crucial question is – with The White House targeting deductions to help pay for tax plan (but mortgage/charitable are protected), how does this not blow up deficit?

Perhaps the most concerning aspect is the apparent expectations management that is being undertaken this morning:

The White House’s presentation will be “pretty broad in the principles,” said Marc Short, Trump’s director of legislative affairs.

In the coming weeks, Trump will solicit more ideas on how to improve it, Short said. The specifics should start to come this summer.

Short said the administration did not want to set a firm timeline, after demanding a quick House vote on a health care bill and watching it fail.

But, Short added, “I don’t see this sliding into 2018.”

The biggest question is – will this be enough to satisfy the market? For now the answer is no, because as Citi adds the market isn’t jumping around on this but there is a bid in US fixed income, taking USDJPY down towards 111.25. All in all, a classic buy the rumor, sell the news on an underdelivered (but fairly presented as such) “big announcement” from the Trump Administration.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-04-26/mnuchincohn-unveil-trumps-biggest-tax-cut-ever-tax-reform-plan-live-feed

The Internal Revenue Service has recently released new data on individual income taxes for calendar year 2014, showing the number of taxpayers, adjusted gross income, and income tax shares by income percentiles.[1]

The data demonstrates that the U.S. individual income tax continues to be very progressive, borne mainly by the highest income earners.

  • In 2014, 139.6 million taxpayers reported earning $9.71 trillion in adjusted gross income and paid $1.37 trillion in individual income taxes.
  • The share of income earned by the top 1 percent of taxpayers rose to 20.6 percent in 2014. Their share of federal individual income taxes also rose, to 39.5 percent.
  • In 2014, the top 50 percent of all taxpayers paid 97.3 percent of all individual income taxes while the bottom 50 percent paid the remaining 2.7 percent.
  • The top 1 percent paid a greater share of individual income taxes (39.5 percent) than the bottom 90 percent combined (29.1 percent).
  • The top 1 percent of taxpayers paid a 27.1 percent individual income tax rate, which is more than seven times higher than taxpayers in the bottom 50 percent (3.5 percent).

Reported Income and Taxes Paid Both Increased Significantly in 2014

Taxpayers reported $9.71 trillion in adjusted gross income (AGI) on 139.5 million tax returns in 2014. Total AGI grew by $675 billion from the previous year’s levels. There were 1.2 million more returns filed in 2014 than in 2013, meaning that average AGI rose by $4,252 per return, or 6.5 percent.

Meanwhile, taxpayers paid $1.37 trillion in individual income taxes in 2014, an 11.5 percent increase from taxes paid in the previous year. The average individual income tax rate for all taxpayers rose from 13.64 percent to 14.16 percent. Moreover, the average tax rate increased for all income groups, except for the top 0.1 percent of taxpayers, whose average rate decreased from 27.91 percent to 27.67 percent.

The most likely explanation behind the higher tax rates in 2014 is a phenomenon known as “real bracket creep.” [2] As incomes rise, households are pushed into higher tax brackets, and are subject to higher overall tax rates on their income. On the other hand, the likely reason why the top 0.1 percent of households saw a slightly lower tax rate in 2014 is because a higher portion of their income consisted of long-term capital gains, which are subject to lower tax rates.[3]

The share of income earned by the top 1 percent rose to 20.58 percent of total AGI, up from 19.04 percent in 2013. The share of the income tax burden for the top 1 percent also rose, from 37.80 percent in 2013 to 39.48 percent in 2014.

Top 1% Top 5% Top 10% Top 25% Top 50% Bottom 50% All Taxpayers
Table 1. Summary of Federal Income Tax Data, 2014
Number of Returns 1,395,620 6,978,102 13,956,203 34,890,509 69,781,017 69,781,017 139,562,034
Adjusted Gross Income ($ millions) $1,997,819 $3,490,867 $4,583,416 $6,690,287 $8,614,544 $1,094,119 $9,708,663
Share of Total Adjusted Gross Income 20.58% 35.96% 47.21% 68.91% 88.73% 11.27% 100.00%
Income Taxes Paid ($ millions) $542,640 $824,153 $974,124 $1,192,679 $1,336,637 $37,740 $1,374,379
Share of Total Income Taxes Paid 39.48% 59.97% 70.88% 86.78% 97.25% 2.75% 100.00%
Income Split Point $465,626 $188,996 $133,445 $77,714 $38,173
Average Tax Rate 27.16% 23.61% 21.25% 17.83% 15.52% 3.45% 14.16%
 Note: Does not include dependent filers

High-Income Americans Paid the Majority of Federal Taxes

In 2014, the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers (those with AGIs below $38,173) earned 11.27 percent of total AGI. This group of taxpayers paid approximately $38 billion in taxes, or 2.75 percent of all income taxes in 2014.

In contrast, the top 1 percent of all taxpayers (taxpayers with AGIs of $465,626 and above) earned 20.58 percent of all AGI in 2014, but paid 39.48 percent of all federal income taxes.

In 2014, the top 1 percent of taxpayers accounted for more income taxes paid than the bottom 90 percent combined. The top 1 percent of taxpayers paid $543 billion, or 39.48 percent of all income taxes, while the bottom 90 percent paid $400 billion, or 29.12 percent of all income taxes.

Figure 1.

High-Income Taxpayers Pay the Highest Average Tax Rates

The 2014 IRS data shows that taxpayers with higher incomes pay much higher average individual income tax rates than lower-income taxpayers.[4]

The bottom 50 percent of taxpayers (taxpayers with AGIs below $38,173) faced an average income tax rate of 3.45 percent. As household income increases, the IRS data shows that average income tax rates rise. For example, taxpayers with AGIs between the 10th and 5th percentile ($133,445 and $188,996) pay an average rate of 13.7 percent – almost four times the rate paid by those in the bottom 50 percent.

The top 1 percent of taxpayers (AGI of $465,626 and above) paid the highest effective income tax rate, at 27.2 percent, 7.9 times the rate faced by the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers.

Figure 2.

Taxpayers at the very top of the income distribution, the top 0.1 percent (with AGIs over $2.14 million), paid an even higher average tax rate, of 27.7 percent.

Appendix

Year Total Top 0.1% Top 1% Top
5%
Between
5% & 10%
Top 10% Between 10% & 25% Top 25% Between 25% & 50% Top 50% Bottom 50%
Table 2. Number of Federal Individual Income Tax Returns Filed 1980–2014 (Thousands)
Source: Internal Revenue Service.
1980 93,239 932 4,662 4,662 9,324 13,986 23,310 23,310 46,619 46,619
1981 94,587 946 4,729 4,729 9,459 14,188 23,647 23,647 47,293 47,293
1982 94,426 944 4,721 4,721 9,443 14,164 23,607 23,607 47,213 47,213
1983 95,331 953 4,767 4,767 9,533 14,300 23,833 23,833 47,665 47,665
1984 98,436 984 4,922 4,922 9,844 14,765 24,609 24,609 49,218 49,219
1985 100,625 1,006 5,031 5,031 10,063 15,094 25,156 25,156 50,313 50,313
1986 102,088 1,021 5,104 5,104 10,209 15,313 25,522 25,522 51,044 51,044
The Tax Reform Act of 1986 changed the definition of AGI, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
1987 106,155 1,062 5,308 5,308 10,615 15,923 26,539 26,539 53,077 53,077
1988 108,873 1,089 5,444 5,444 10,887 16,331 27,218 27,218 54,436 54,436
1989 111,313 1,113 5,566 5,566 11,131 16,697 27,828 27,828 55,656 55,656
1990 112,812 1,128 5,641 5,641 11,281 16,922 28,203 28,203 56,406 56,406
1991 113,804 1,138 5,690 5,690 11,380 17,071 28,451 28,451 56,902 56,902
1992 112,653 1,127 5,633 5,633 11,265 16,898 28,163 28,163 56,326 56,326
1993 113,681 1,137 5,684 5,684 11,368 17,052 28,420 28,420 56,841 56,841
1994 114,990 1,150 5,749 5,749 11,499 17,248 28,747 28,747 57,495 57,495
1995 117,274 1,173 5,864 5,864 11,727 17,591 29,319 29,319 58,637 58,637
1996 119,442 1,194 5,972 5,972 11,944 17,916 29,860 29,860 59,721 59,721
1997 121,503 1,215 6,075 6,075 12,150 18,225 30,376 30,376 60,752 60,752
1998 123,776 1,238 6,189 6,189 12,378 18,566 30,944 30,944 61,888 61,888
1999 126,009 1,260 6,300 6,300 12,601 18,901 31,502 31,502 63,004 63,004
2000 128,227 1,282 6,411 6,411 12,823 19,234 32,057 32,057 64,114 64,114
The IRS changed methodology, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
2001 119,371 119 1,194 5,969 5,969 11,937 17,906 29,843 29,843 59,685 59,685
2002 119,851 120 1,199 5,993 5,993 11,985 17,978 29,963 29,963 59,925 59,925
2003 120,759 121 1,208 6,038 6,038 12,076 18,114 30,190 30,190 60,379 60,379
2004 122,510 123 1,225 6,125 6,125 12,251 18,376 30,627 30,627 61,255 61,255
2005 124,673 125 1,247 6,234 6,234 12,467 18,701 31,168 31,168 62,337 62,337
2006 128,441 128 1,284 6,422 6,422 12,844 19,266 32,110 32,110 64,221 64,221
2007 132,655 133 1,327 6,633 6,633 13,265 19,898 33,164 33,164 66,327 66,327
2008 132,892 133 1,329 6,645 6,645 13,289 19,934 33,223 33,223 66,446 66,446
2009 132,620 133 1,326 6,631 6,631 13,262 19,893 33,155 33,155 66,310 66,310
2010 135,033 135 1,350 6,752 6,752 13,503 20,255 33,758 33,758 67,517 67,517
2011 136,586 137 1,366 6,829 6,829 13,659 20,488 34,146 34,146 68,293 68,293
2012 136,080 136 1,361 6,804 6,804 13,608 20,412 34,020 34,020 68,040 68,040
2013 138,313 138 1,383 6,916 6,916 13,831 20,747 34,578 34,578 69,157 69,157
2014 139,562 140 1,396 6,978 6,978 13,956 20,934 34,891 34,891 69,781 69,781
Year Total Top 0.1% Top 1% Top 5% Between 5% & 10% Top 10% Between 10% & 25% Top 25% Between 25% & 50% Top 50% Bottom 50%
Table 3. Adjusted Gross Income of Taxpayers in Various Income Brackets, 1980–2014 ($Billions)
Source: Internal Revenue Service.
1980 $1,627 $138 $342 $181 $523 $400 $922 $417 $1,339 $288
1981 $1,791 $149 $372 $201 $573 $442 $1,015 $458 $1,473 $318
1982 $1,876 $167 $398 $207 $605 $460 $1,065 $478 $1,544 $332
1983 $1,970 $183 $428 $217 $646 $481 $1,127 $498 $1,625 $344
1984 $2,173 $210 $482 $240 $723 $528 $1,251 $543 $1,794 $379
1985 $2,344 $235 $531 $260 $791 $567 $1,359 $580 $1,939 $405
1986 $2,524 $285 $608 $278 $887 $604 $1,490 $613 $2,104 $421
The Tax Reform Act of 1986 changed the definition of AGI, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
1987 $2,814 $347 $722 $316 $1,038 $671 $1,709 $664 $2,374 $440
1988 $3,124 $474 $891 $342 $1,233 $718 $1,951 $707 $2,658 $466
1989 $3,299 $468 $918 $368 $1,287 $768 $2,054 $751 $2,805 $494
1990 $3,451 $483 $953 $385 $1,338 $806 $2,144 $788 $2,933 $519
1991 $3,516 $457 $943 $400 $1,343 $832 $2,175 $809 $2,984 $532
1992 $3,681 $524 $1,031 $413 $1,444 $856 $2,299 $832 $3,131 $549
1993 $3,776 $521 $1,048 $426 $1,474 $883 $2,358 $854 $3,212 $563
1994 $3,961 $547 $1,103 $449 $1,552 $929 $2,481 $890 $3,371 $590
1995 $4,245 $620 $1,223 $482 $1,705 $985 $2,690 $938 $3,628 $617
1996 $4,591 $737 $1,394 $515 $1,909 $1,043 $2,953 $992 $3,944 $646
1997 $5,023 $873 $1,597 $554 $2,151 $1,116 $3,268 $1,060 $4,328 $695
1998 $5,469 $1,010 $1,797 $597 $2,394 $1,196 $3,590 $1,132 $4,721 $748
1999 $5,909 $1,153 $2,012 $641 $2,653 $1,274 $3,927 $1,199 $5,126 $783
2000 $6,424 $1,337 $2,267 $688 $2,955 $1,358 $4,314 $1,276 $5,590 $834
The IRS changed methodology, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
2001 $6,116 $492 $1,065 $1,934 $666 $2,600 $1,334 $3,933 $1,302 $5,235 $881
2002 $5,982 $421 $960 $1,812 $660 $2,472 $1,339 $3,812 $1,303 $5,115 $867
2003 $6,157 $466 $1,030 $1,908 $679 $2,587 $1,375 $3,962 $1,325 $5,287 $870
2004 $6,735 $615 $1,279 $2,243 $725 $2,968 $1,455 $4,423 $1,403 $5,826 $908
2005 $7,366 $784 $1,561 $2,623 $778 $3,401 $1,540 $4,940 $1,473 $6,413 $953
2006 $7,970 $895 $1,761 $2,918 $841 $3,760 $1,652 $5,412 $1,568 $6,980 $990
2007 $8,622 $1,030 $1,971 $3,223 $905 $4,128 $1,770 $5,898 $1,673 $7,571 $1,051
2008 $8,206 $826 $1,657 $2,868 $905 $3,773 $1,782 $5,555 $1,673 $7,228 $978
2009 $7,579 $602 $1,305 $2,439 $878 $3,317 $1,740 $5,058 $1,620 $6,678 $900
2010 $8,040 $743 $1,517 $2,716 $915 $3,631 $1,800 $5,431 $1,665 $7,096 $944
2011 $8,317 $737 $1,556 $2,819 $956 $3,775 $1,866 $5,641 $1,716 $7,357 $961
2012 $9,042 $1,017 $1,977 $3,331 $997 $4,328 $1,934 $6,262 $1,776 $8,038 $1,004
2013 $9,034 $816 $1,720 $3,109 $1,034 $4,143 $2,008 $6,152 $1,844 $7,996 $1,038
2014 $9,709 $986 $1,998 $3,491 $1,093 $4,583 $2,107 $6,690 $1,924 $8,615 $1,094
Year Total Top 0.1% Top 1% Top 5% Between 5% & 10% Top 10% Between 10% & 25% Top 25% Between 25% & 50% Top 50% Bottom 50%
Table 4. Total Income Tax after Credits, 1980–2014 ($Billions)
Source: Internal Revenue Service.
1980 $249 $47 $92 $31 $123 $59 $182 $50 $232 $18
1981 $282 $50 $99 $36 $135 $69 $204 $57 $261 $21
1982 $276 $53 $100 $34 $134 $66 $200 $56 $256 $20
1983 $272 $55 $101 $34 $135 $64 $199 $54 $252 $19
1984 $297 $63 $113 $37 $150 $68 $219 $57 $276 $22
1985 $322 $70 $125 $41 $166 $73 $238 $60 $299 $23
1986 $367 $94 $156 $44 $201 $78 $279 $64 $343 $24
The Tax Reform Act of 1986 changed the definition of AGI, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
1987 $369 $92 $160 $46 $205 $79 $284 $63 $347 $22
1988 $413 $114 $188 $48 $236 $85 $321 $68 $389 $24
1989 $433 $109 $190 $51 $241 $93 $334 $73 $408 $25
1990 $447 $112 $195 $52 $248 $97 $344 $77 $421 $26
1991 $448 $111 $194 $56 $250 $96 $347 $77 $424 $25
1992 $476 $131 $218 $58 $276 $97 $374 $78 $452 $24
1993 $503 $146 $238 $60 $298 $101 $399 $80 $479 $24
1994 $535 $154 $254 $64 $318 $108 $425 $84 $509 $25
1995 $588 $178 $288 $70 $357 $115 $473 $88 $561 $27
1996 $658 $213 $335 $76 $411 $124 $535 $95 $630 $28
1997 $727 $241 $377 $82 $460 $134 $594 $102 $696 $31
1998 $788 $274 $425 $88 $513 $139 $652 $103 $755 $33
1999 $877 $317 $486 $97 $583 $150 $733 $109 $842 $35
2000 $981 $367 $554 $106 $660 $164 $824 $118 $942 $38
The IRS changed methodology, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
2001 $885 $139 $294 $462 $101 $564 $158 $722 $120 $842 $43
2002 $794 $120 $263 $420 $93 $513 $143 $657 $104 $761 $33
2003 $746 $115 $251 $399 $85 $484 $133 $617 $98 $715 $30
2004 $829 $142 $301 $467 $91 $558 $137 $695 $102 $797 $32
2005 $932 $176 $361 $549 $98 $647 $145 $793 $106 $898 $33
2006 $1,020 $196 $402 $607 $108 $715 $157 $872 $113 $986 $35
2007 $1,112 $221 $443 $666 $117 $783 $170 $953 $122 $1,075 $37
2008 $1,029 $187 $386 $597 $115 $712 $168 $880 $117 $997 $32
2009 $863 $146 $314 $502 $101 $604 $146 $749 $93 $842 $21
2010 $949 $170 $355 $561 $110 $670 $156 $827 $100 $927 $22
2011 $1,043 $168 $366 $589 $123 $712 $181 $893 $120 $1,012 $30
2012 $1,185 $220 $451 $699 $133 $831 $193 $1,024 $128 $1,152 $33
2013 $1,232 $228 $466 $721 $139 $860 $203 $1,063 $135 $1,198 $34
2014 $1,374 $273 $543 $824 $150 $974 $219 $1,193 $144 $1,337 $38
Year Total Top 0.1% Top 1% Top 5% Between 5% & 10% Top 10% Between 10% & 25% Top 25% Between 25% & 50% Top 50% Bottom 50%
Table 5. Adjusted Gross Income Shares, 1980–2014 (percent of total AGI earned by each group)
Source: Internal Revenue Service.
1980 100% 8.46% 21.01% 11.12% 32.13% 24.57% 56.70% 25.62% 82.32% 17.68%
1981 100% 8.30% 20.78% 11.20% 31.98% 24.69% 56.67% 25.59% 82.25% 17.75%
1982 100% 8.91% 21.23% 11.03% 32.26% 24.53% 56.79% 25.50% 82.29% 17.71%
1983 100% 9.29% 21.74% 11.04% 32.78% 24.44% 57.22% 25.30% 82.52% 17.48%
1984 100% 9.66% 22.19% 11.06% 33.25% 24.31% 57.56% 25.00% 82.56% 17.44%
1985 100% 10.03% 22.67% 11.10% 33.77% 24.21% 57.97% 24.77% 82.74% 17.26%
1986 100% 11.30% 24.11% 11.02% 35.12% 23.92% 59.04% 24.30% 83.34% 16.66%
The Tax Reform Act of 1986 changed the definition of AGI, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
1987 100% 12.32% 25.67% 11.23% 36.90% 23.85% 60.75% 23.62% 84.37% 15.63%
1988 100% 15.16% 28.51% 10.94% 39.45% 22.99% 62.44% 22.63% 85.07% 14.93%
1989 100% 14.19% 27.84% 11.16% 39.00% 23.28% 62.28% 22.76% 85.04% 14.96%
1990 100% 14.00% 27.62% 11.15% 38.77% 23.36% 62.13% 22.84% 84.97% 15.03%
1991 100% 12.99% 26.83% 11.37% 38.20% 23.65% 61.85% 23.01% 84.87% 15.13%
1992 100% 14.23% 28.01% 11.21% 39.23% 23.25% 62.47% 22.61% 85.08% 14.92%
1993 100% 13.79% 27.76% 11.29% 39.05% 23.40% 62.45% 22.63% 85.08% 14.92%
1994 100% 13.80% 27.85% 11.34% 39.19% 23.45% 62.64% 22.48% 85.11% 14.89%
1995 100% 14.60% 28.81% 11.35% 40.16% 23.21% 63.37% 22.09% 85.46% 14.54%
1996 100% 16.04% 30.36% 11.23% 41.59% 22.73% 64.32% 21.60% 85.92% 14.08%
1997 100% 17.38% 31.79% 11.03% 42.83% 22.22% 65.05% 21.11% 86.16% 13.84%
1998 100% 18.47% 32.85% 10.92% 43.77% 21.87% 65.63% 20.69% 86.33% 13.67%
1999 100% 19.51% 34.04% 10.85% 44.89% 21.57% 66.46% 20.29% 86.75% 13.25%
2000 100% 20.81% 35.30% 10.71% 46.01% 21.15% 67.15% 19.86% 87.01% 12.99%
The IRS changed methodology, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
2001 100% 8.05% 17.41% 31.61% 10.89% 42.50% 21.80% 64.31% 21.29% 85.60% 14.40%
2002 100% 7.04% 16.05% 30.29% 11.04% 41.33% 22.39% 63.71% 21.79% 85.50% 14.50%
2003 100% 7.56% 16.73% 30.99% 11.03% 42.01% 22.33% 64.34% 21.52% 85.87% 14.13%
2004 100% 9.14% 18.99% 33.31% 10.77% 44.07% 21.60% 65.68% 20.83% 86.51% 13.49%
2005 100% 10.64% 21.19% 35.61% 10.56% 46.17% 20.90% 67.07% 19.99% 87.06% 12.94%
2006 100% 11.23% 22.10% 36.62% 10.56% 47.17% 20.73% 67.91% 19.68% 87.58% 12.42%
2007 100% 11.95% 22.86% 37.39% 10.49% 47.88% 20.53% 68.41% 19.40% 87.81% 12.19%
2008 100% 10.06% 20.19% 34.95% 11.03% 45.98% 21.71% 67.69% 20.39% 88.08% 11.92%
2009 100% 7.94% 17.21% 32.18% 11.59% 43.77% 22.96% 66.74% 21.38% 88.12% 11.88%
2010 100% 9.24% 18.87% 33.78% 11.38% 45.17% 22.38% 67.55% 20.71% 88.26% 11.74%
2011 100% 8.86% 18.70% 33.89% 11.50% 45.39% 22.43% 67.82% 20.63% 88.45% 11.55%
2012 100% 11.25% 21.86% 36.84% 11.03% 47.87% 21.39% 69.25% 19.64% 88.90% 11.10%
2013 100% 9.03% 19.04% 34.42% 11.45% 45.87% 22.23% 68.10% 20.41% 88.51% 11.49%
2014 100% 10.16% 20.58% 35.96% 11.25% 47.21% 21.70% 68.91% 19.82% 88.73% 11.27%
Year Total Top 0.1% Top 1% Top 5% Between 5% & 10% Top 10% Between 10% & 25% Top 25% Between 25% & 50% Top 50% Bottom 50%
Table 6. Total Income Tax Shares, 1980–2014 (percent of federal income tax paid by each group)
Source: Internal Revenue Service.
1980 100% 19.05% 36.84% 12.44% 49.28% 23.74% 73.02% 19.93% 92.95% 7.05%
1981 100% 17.58% 35.06% 12.90% 47.96% 24.33% 72.29% 20.26% 92.55% 7.45%
1982 100% 19.03% 36.13% 12.45% 48.59% 23.91% 72.50% 20.15% 92.65% 7.35%
1983 100% 20.32% 37.26% 12.44% 49.71% 23.39% 73.10% 19.73% 92.83% 7.17%
1984 100% 21.12% 37.98% 12.58% 50.56% 22.92% 73.49% 19.16% 92.65% 7.35%
1985 100% 21.81% 38.78% 12.67% 51.46% 22.60% 74.06% 18.77% 92.83% 7.17%
1986 100% 25.75% 42.57% 12.12% 54.69% 21.33% 76.02% 17.52% 93.54% 6.46%
The Tax Reform Act of 1986 changed the definition of AGI, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
1987 100% 24.81% 43.26% 12.35% 55.61% 21.31% 76.92% 17.02% 93.93% 6.07%
1988 100% 27.58% 45.62% 11.66% 57.28% 20.57% 77.84% 16.44% 94.28% 5.72%
1989 100% 25.24% 43.94% 11.85% 55.78% 21.44% 77.22% 16.94% 94.17% 5.83%
1990 100% 25.13% 43.64% 11.73% 55.36% 21.66% 77.02% 17.16% 94.19% 5.81%
1991 100% 24.82% 43.38% 12.45% 55.82% 21.46% 77.29% 17.23% 94.52% 5.48%
1992 100% 27.54% 45.88% 12.12% 58.01% 20.47% 78.48% 16.46% 94.94% 5.06%
1993 100% 29.01% 47.36% 11.88% 59.24% 20.03% 79.27% 15.92% 95.19% 4.81%
1994 100% 28.86% 47.52% 11.93% 59.45% 20.10% 79.55% 15.68% 95.23% 4.77%
1995 100% 30.26% 48.91% 11.84% 60.75% 19.62% 80.36% 15.03% 95.39% 4.61%
1996 100% 32.31% 50.97% 11.54% 62.51% 18.80% 81.32% 14.36% 95.68% 4.32%
1997 100% 33.17% 51.87% 11.33% 63.20% 18.47% 81.67% 14.05% 95.72% 4.28%
1998 100% 34.75% 53.84% 11.20% 65.04% 17.65% 82.69% 13.10% 95.79% 4.21%
1999 100% 36.18% 55.45% 11.00% 66.45% 17.09% 83.54% 12.46% 96.00% 4.00%
2000 100% 37.42% 56.47% 10.86% 67.33% 16.68% 84.01% 12.08% 96.09% 3.91%
The IRS changed methodology, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
2001 100% 15.68% 33.22% 52.24% 11.44% 63.68% 17.88% 81.56% 13.54% 95.10% 4.90%
2002 100% 15.09% 33.09% 52.86% 11.77% 64.63% 18.04% 82.67% 13.12% 95.79% 4.21%
2003 100% 15.37% 33.69% 53.54% 11.35% 64.89% 17.87% 82.76% 13.17% 95.93% 4.07%
2004 100% 17.12% 36.28% 56.35% 10.96% 67.30% 16.52% 83.82% 12.31% 96.13% 3.87%
2005 100% 18.91% 38.78% 58.93% 10.52% 69.46% 15.61% 85.07% 11.35% 96.41% 3.59%
2006 100% 19.24% 39.36% 59.49% 10.59% 70.08% 15.41% 85.49% 11.10% 96.59% 3.41%
2007 100% 19.84% 39.81% 59.90% 10.51% 70.41% 15.30% 85.71% 10.93% 96.64% 3.36%
2008 100% 18.20% 37.51% 58.06% 11.14% 69.20% 16.37% 85.57% 11.33% 96.90% 3.10%
2009 100% 16.91% 36.34% 58.17% 11.72% 69.89% 16.85% 86.74% 10.80% 97.54% 2.46%
2010 100% 17.88% 37.38% 59.07% 11.55% 70.62% 16.49% 87.11% 10.53% 97.64% 2.36%
2011 100% 16.14% 35.06% 56.49% 11.77% 68.26% 17.36% 85.62% 11.50% 97.11% 2.89%
2012 100% 18.60% 38.09% 58.95% 11.22% 70.17% 16.25% 86.42% 10.80% 97.22% 2.78%
2013 100% 18.48% 37.80% 58.55% 11.25% 69.80% 16.47% 86.27% 10.94% 97.22% 2.78%
2014 100% 19.85% 39.48% 59.97% 10.91% 70.88% 15.90% 86.78% 10.47% 97.25% 2.75%
Year Total Top 1% Top 5% Top 10% Top 25% Top 50%
Table 7. Dollar Cut-Off, 1980–2014 (Minimum AGI for Tax Returns to Fall into Various Percentiles; Thresholds Not Adjusted for Inflation)
1980 $80,580 $43,792 $35,070 $23,606 $12,936
1981 $85,428 $47,845 $38,283 $25,655 $14,000
1982 $89,388 $49,284 $39,676 $27,027 $14,539
1983 $93,512 $51,553 $41,222 $27,827 $15,044
1984 $100,889 $55,423 $43,956 $29,360 $15,998
1985 $108,134 $58,883 $46,322 $30,928 $16,688
1986 $118,818 $62,377 $48,656 $32,242 $17,302
The Tax Reform Act of 1986 changed the definition of AGI, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
1987 $139,289 $68,414 $52,921 $33,983 $17,768
1988 $157,136 $72,735 $55,437 $35,398 $18,367
1989 $163,869 $76,933 $58,263 $36,839 $18,993
1990 $167,421 $79,064 $60,287 $38,080 $19,767
1991 $170,139 $81,720 $61,944 $38,929 $20,097
1992 $181,904 $85,103 $64,457 $40,378 $20,803
1993 $185,715 $87,386 $66,077 $41,210 $21,179
1994 $195,726 $91,226 $68,753 $42,742 $21,802
1995 $209,406 $96,221 $72,094 $44,207 $22,344
1996 $227,546 $101,141 $74,986 $45,757 $23,174
1997 $250,736 $108,048 $79,212 $48,173 $24,393
1998 $269,496 $114,729 $83,220 $50,607 $25,491
1999 $293,415 $120,846 $87,682 $52,965 $26,415
2000 $313,469 $128,336 $92,144 $55,225 $27,682
The IRS changed methodology, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
2001 $1,393,718 $306,635 $132,082 $96,151 $59,026 $31,418
2002 $1,245,352 $296,194 $130,750 $95,699 $59,066 $31,299
2003 $1,317,088 $305,939 $133,741 $97,470 $59,896 $31,447
2004 $1,617,918 $339,993 $140,758 $101,838 $62,794 $32,622
2005 $1,938,175 $379,261 $149,216 $106,864 $64,821 $33,484
2006 $2,124,625 $402,603 $157,390 $112,016 $67,291 $34,417
2007 $2,251,017 $426,439 $164,883 $116,396 $69,559 $35,541
2008 $1,867,652 $392,513 $163,512 $116,813 $69,813 $35,340
2009 $1,469,393 $351,968 $157,342 $114,181 $68,216 $34,156
2010 $1,634,386 $369,691 $161,579 $116,623 $69,126 $34,338
2011 $1,717,675 $388,905 $167,728 $120,136 $70,492 $34,823
2012 $2,161,175 $434,682 $175,817 $125,195 $73,354 $36,055
2013 $1,860,848 $428,713 $179,760 $127,695 $74,955 $36,841
2014 $2,136,762 $465,626 $188,996 $133,445 $77,714 $38,173
Source: Internal Revenue Service.
Year Total Top 0.1% Top 1% Top 5% Between 5% & 10% Top 10% Between 10% & 25% Top 25% Between 25% & 50% Top 50% Bottom 50%
Table 8. Average Tax Rate, 1980–2014 (Percent of AGI Paid in Income Taxes)
Source: Internal Revenue Service.
1980 15.31% 34.47% 26.85% 17.13% 23.49% 14.80% 19.72% 11.91% 17.29% 6.10%
1981 15.76% 33.37% 26.59% 18.16% 23.64% 15.53% 20.11% 12.48% 17.73% 6.62%
1982 14.72% 31.43% 25.05% 16.61% 22.17% 14.35% 18.79% 11.63% 16.57% 6.10%
1983 13.79% 30.18% 23.64% 15.54% 20.91% 13.20% 17.62% 10.76% 15.52% 5.66%
1984 13.68% 29.92% 23.42% 15.57% 20.81% 12.90% 17.47% 10.48% 15.35% 5.77%
1985 13.73% 29.86% 23.50% 15.69% 20.93% 12.83% 17.55% 10.41% 15.41% 5.70%
1986 14.54% 33.13% 25.68% 15.99% 22.64% 12.97% 18.72% 10.48% 16.32% 5.63%
The Tax Reform Act of 1986 changed the definition of AGI, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
1987 13.12% 26.41% 22.10% 14.43% 19.77% 11.71% 16.61% 9.45% 14.60% 5.09%
1988 13.21% 24.04% 21.14% 14.07% 19.18% 11.82% 16.47% 9.60% 14.64% 5.06%
1989 13.12% 23.34% 20.71% 13.93% 18.77% 12.08% 16.27% 9.77% 14.53% 5.11%
1990 12.95% 23.25% 20.46% 13.63% 18.50% 12.01% 16.06% 9.73% 14.36% 5.01%
1991 12.75% 24.37% 20.62% 13.96% 18.63% 11.57% 15.93% 9.55% 14.20% 4.62%
1992 12.94% 25.05% 21.19% 13.99% 19.13% 11.39% 16.25% 9.42% 14.44% 4.39%
1993 13.32% 28.01% 22.71% 14.01% 20.20% 11.40% 16.90% 9.37% 14.90% 4.29%
1994 13.50% 28.23% 23.04% 14.20% 20.48% 11.57% 17.15% 9.42% 15.11% 4.32%
1995 13.86% 28.73% 23.53% 14.46% 20.97% 11.71% 17.58% 9.43% 15.47% 4.39%
1996 14.34% 28.87% 24.07% 14.74% 21.55% 11.86% 18.12% 9.53% 15.96% 4.40%
1997 14.48% 27.64% 23.62% 14.87% 21.36% 12.04% 18.18% 9.63% 16.09% 4.48%
1998 14.42% 27.12% 23.63% 14.79% 21.42% 11.63% 18.16% 9.12% 16.00% 4.44%
1999 14.85% 27.53% 24.18% 15.06% 21.98% 11.76% 18.66% 9.12% 16.43% 4.48%
2000 15.26% 27.45% 24.42% 15.48% 22.34% 12.04% 19.09% 9.28% 16.86% 4.60%
The IRS changed methodology, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
2001 14.47% 28.17% 27.60% 23.91% 15.20% 21.68% 11.87% 18.35% 9.20% 16.08% 4.92%
2002 13.28% 28.48% 27.37% 23.17% 14.15% 20.76% 10.70% 17.23% 8.00% 14.87% 3.86%
2003 12.11% 24.60% 24.38% 20.92% 12.46% 18.70% 9.69% 15.57% 7.41% 13.53% 3.49%
2004 12.31% 23.06% 23.52% 20.83% 12.53% 18.80% 9.41% 15.71% 7.27% 13.68% 3.53%
2005 12.65% 22.48% 23.15% 20.93% 12.61% 19.03% 9.45% 16.04% 7.18% 14.01% 3.51%
2006 12.80% 21.94% 22.80% 20.80% 12.84% 19.02% 9.52% 16.12% 7.22% 14.12% 3.51%
2007 12.90% 21.42% 22.46% 20.66% 12.92% 18.96% 9.61% 16.16% 7.27% 14.19% 3.56%
2008 12.54% 22.67% 23.29% 20.83% 12.66% 18.87% 9.45% 15.85% 6.97% 13.79% 3.26%
2009 11.39% 24.28% 24.05% 20.59% 11.53% 18.19% 8.36% 14.81% 5.76% 12.61% 2.35%
2010 11.81% 22.84% 23.39% 20.64% 11.98% 18.46% 8.70% 15.22% 6.01% 13.06% 2.37%
2011 12.54% 22.82% 23.50% 20.89% 12.83% 18.85% 9.70% 15.82% 6.98% 13.76% 3.13%
2012 13.11% 21.67% 22.83% 20.97% 13.33% 19.21% 9.96% 16.35% 7.21% 14.33% 3.28%
2013 13.64% 27.91% 27.08% 23.20% 13.40% 20.75% 10.11% 17.28% 7.31% 14.98% 3.30%
2014 14.16% 27.67% 27.16% 23.61% 13.73% 21.25% 10.37% 17.83% 7.48% 15.52% 3.45%
  1. For data prior to 2001, all tax returns that have a positive AGI are included, even those that do not have a positive income tax liability. For data from 2001 forward, returns with negative AGI are also included, but dependent returns are excluded.
  2. Income tax after credits (the measure of “income taxes paid” above) does not account for the refundable portion of EITC. If it were included, the tax share of the top income groups would be higher. The refundable portion is classified as a spending program by the Office of Management and Budget and therefore is not included by the IRS in these figures.
  3. The only tax analyzed here is the federal individual income tax, which is responsible for more than 25 percent of the nation’s taxes paid (at all levels of government). Federal income taxes are much more progressive than federal payroll taxes, which are responsible for about 20 percent of all taxes paid (at all levels of government), and are more progressive than most state and local taxes.
  4. AGI is a fairly narrow income concept and does not include income items like government transfers (except for the portion of Social Security benefits that is taxed), the value of employer-provided health insurance, underreported or unreported income (most notably that of sole proprietors), income derived from municipal bond interest, net imputed rental income, and others.
  5. The unit of analysis here is that of the tax return. In the figures prior to 2001, some dependent returns are included. Under other units of analysis (like the Treasury Department’s Family Economic Unit), these returns would likely be paired with parents’ returns.
  6. These figures represent the legal incidence of the income tax. Most distributional tables (such as those from CBO, Tax Policy Center, Citizens for Tax Justice, the Treasury Department, and JCT) assume that the entire economic incidence of personal income taxes falls on the income earner.

[1] Individual Income Tax Rates and Tax Shares, Internal Revenue Service Statistics of Income, http://www.irs.gov/uac/SOI-Tax-Stats-Individual-Income-Tax-Rates-and-Tax-Shares.

[2] See Congressional Budget Office, The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2017 to 2027, Jan. 2017, https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/115th-congress-2017-2018/reports/52370-outlook.pdf.

[3] There is strong reason to believe that capital gains realizations were unusually depressed in 2013, due to the increase in the top capital gains tax rate from 15 percent to 23.8 percent. In 2013, capital gains accounted for 26.6 percent of the income of taxpayers with over $1 million in AGI received, compared to 31.7 percent in 2014 (these calculations apply for net capital gains reported on Schedule D). Table 1.4, Publication 1304, “Individual Income Tax Returns 2014,” Internal Revenue Service, https://www.irs.gov/uac/soi-tax-stats-individual-income-tax-returns-publication-1304-complete-report.

[4] Here, “average income tax rate” is defined as income taxes paid divided by adjusted gross income.


Download Summary of the Latest Federal Income Tax Data, 2016 Update (PDF) Download Summary of the Latest Federal Income Tax Data, 2016 Update (EXCEL)

https://taxfoundation.org/summary-latest-federal-income-tax-data-2016-update/

Federal Spending, Budget, and Debt

 

THE ISSUE


In 2015, the national debt reached $18.8 trillion and exceeded 100 percent of everything the economy produced in goods and services, as defined by gross domestic product (GDP). Publicly held debt (the debt borrowed in credit markets, excluding Social Security’s trust fund, for example) is alarmingly high at 74 percent of GDP. These high debt levels were last seen after the U.S. had engaged in wartime spending following World War II. However, if mandatory spending—especially health care spending—continues to grow faster than the economy, then the level of debt will grow even higher.

High federal debt puts the United States at risk for a number of harmful economic consequences, including slower economic growth, a weakened ability to respond to unexpected challenges, and possibly a debt-driven financial crisis. Furthermore, most of the debt issued is to pay for more consumption spending. Unlike spending on investments, consumption financed through debt will lower the standard of living for future generations.

Deficits fell in 2015 primarily because the economy is slowly improving, which brings in additional revenues and lowers spending on countercyclical programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps). Also, discretionary spending caps implemented under the Budget Control Act of 2011 helped restrain the growth in spending. Finally, deficits during the recession were also partly driven by the stimulus bill and other temporary measures.

Lawmakers should not take this short-term and modest deficit improvement as a signal to grow complacent about reining in exploding spending. Deficits are on the rise again, beginning in 2016, and within a decade they are projected to exceed $1 trillion annually. The Congressional Budget Office projects that interest on the debt alone will exceed the nation’s defense budget (not including spending on war or other emergencies) before the end of the decade.

The nation’s long-term spending trajectory remains on a fiscal collision course. Total spending has exploded by 25 percent since 2004, even after inflation, and some programs have grown far more than that. Defense spending, however, is being cut. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are so large and growing that they are on track to overwhelm the federal budget. These major entitlement programs, together with interest on the debt, are driving 85 percent of the projected growth in government spending over the next decade. The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, further adds to the problem, increasing entitlement spending by nearly $2 trillion in just 10 years. The long-term unfunded obligations in the nation’s major entitlement programs loom like an even darker cloud over the U.S. economy. Demographic and economic factors will combine to drive spending in Medicare, Medicaid (including Obamacare), and Social Security to unsustainable heights. The major entitlements and interest on the debt are on track to devour all tax revenues in fewer than 20 years.

solutions_2016_federal-budget-1

Over the 75-year long-term horizon, the combined unfunded obligations arising from promised benefits in Medicare and Social Security alone exceed $50 trillion. The federal unfunded obligations arising from Medicaid, and even from veterans’ benefits, are unknown but would likely add many trillions more to this figure. By some estimates, the U.S. federal government’s combined unfunded obligations already exceed $200 trillion in today’s dollars. Figures such as these are simply unfathomable.

While the Budget Control Act of 2011 and sequestration are modestly restraining the discretionary budget, Congress continues to fund too many programs that represent corporate welfare. Corporate welfare and crony capitalism waste taxpayer resources by spending resources taken for the public benefit on a narrower, well-connected interest group instead. Taxation creates economic distortions. Excess taxation, that goes beyond what is necessary to pay for constitutional government, needlessly wastes taxpayer and economic resources. Every dollar spent by the federal government for the benefit of a well-connected interest group is a dollar that is no longer available to American families and businesses to spend and invest to meet their own needs and wants. Corporate welfare spending is especially morally concerning when government spends resources that belong to the next generation of Americans to fund consumption spending today—or, in other words, when spending makes current Americans better off at the expense of future Americans.

solutions_2016_federal-budget-2

Moreover, mandatory or automatic spending—especially on entitlements—continues to grow nearly unabated. Without any changes, mandatory spending, including net interest, will consume three-fourths of the budget in just one decade.

If Washington fails to begin the important reform process, we could one day find ourselves teetering on the edge of a Greece-style meltdown. To forestall such an eventuality, lawmakers should eliminate waste, duplication, and inappropriate spending; privatize functions better left to the private sector; and leave areas best managed on the local level to states and localities. They should change the entitlement programs so that they become more affordable and help those with the greatest needs. Congress should also fully fund national defense—a core constitutional function of government. Lawmakers should build on the success of the Budget Control Act of 2011 by limiting all non-interest spending with a firm cap that targets those spending levels necessary to reach balance before the end of the decade.

It is not too late to solve the growing spending and debt crisis, but the clock is ticking.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS


Cut Spending Now and Enforce Spending Caps. Congress should cut non-defense discretionary spending, first by enforcing the Budget Control Act’s spending caps with sequestration. Next, Congress should eliminate federal spending for programs that are unneeded or can hardly be considered federal priorities and are more appropriate for state and local governments or the private sector, like federal energy subsidies and loan guarantees to businesses. Examples of areas where cuts can be made include:

  • TIGER grants (National Infrastructure Investment Grants);
  • The Market Access Program;
  • The New Starts Program;
  • The Technology Innovation Program; and
  • Department of Energy (DOE) loan programs and loan guarantees.

Reject Tax Hikes and Pursue Growth-Oriented Tax Reform. There is a growing consensus that a simpler, flatter tax code—one with fewer, lower marginal rates and only essential deductions—is one of the best ways to promote growth. Heritage analysts favor an even bolder approach with a single rate on spent income. In any case, as long as government must tax, it should do so with the least possible burden on and interference with free-market choices. Higher taxes on small businesses and on investment capital always weaken the economy. Revenue will grow when the economy grows, but higher spending and taxes will reduce growth. The most effective way to spur economic recovery is to increase the incentives that drive growth.

Reform Entitlements. Congress should begin by repealing Obamacare, which would add nearly $2 trillion to federal spending over the decade. The costs of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are on course to overwhelm the federal budget. Every year of delay raises the cost of reform and gives near-retirees less time to adjust their retirement strategies. Lawmakers should restructure these programs by changing the incentives that drive their excessive spending. Then Congress should take these programs off autopilot and set a budget for each major entitlement with an obligation to adjust them as necessary to keep each program within budget and protected from insolvency.

Empower the States and the Private Sector. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the federal government’s domestic activities have expanded well beyond what the Founders envisioned, leading to ever more centralized government, smothering the creativity of states and localities, and pushing federal spending to its current unsustainable levels. Even when Washington allows states to administer the programs, it taxes families, subtracts a hefty administrative cost, and sends the remaining revenues back to state and local governments with specific rules dictating how they may and may not spend the money.

solutions_2016_federal-budget-3

Instead of performing many functions poorly, Congress should focus on the limited set of functions intrinsic to the federal government’s responsibilities. Most highway, education, justice, and economic development programs should be devolved to state and local governments, which have the flexibility to tailor local programs to local needs. Government ownership of business also crowds out private companies and encourages protected entities to take unnecessary risks. After promising profits, government-owned businesses frequently lose billions of dollars, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill. Any government function that can also be found in the yellow pages may be a candidate for privatization.

Reform the Federal Budget Process. The federal budget’s focus on just 10 years ahead diverts lawmakers from dealing with the mounting long-term challenges, such as retirement programs. Likewise, the lack of firm budget controls and enforcement procedures makes fiscal discipline easy to evade. Reforming the budget process is therefore an implicit part of reforming the budget itself. Congress should estimate and publish the projected cost over 75 years of any proposed policy or funding level for each significant federal program. Any major policy change should also be scored over this long-term horizon. In addition to calculating the costs of proposed congressional actions without regard to the economy’s response to those actions (known as “static” scoring), the government should require a parallel calculation that takes that response into account (known as “dynamic” scoring) to make more practical and useful fiscal information available to Congress when it decides whether to pursue certain actions.

Although Congress must make substantial cuts in current and future spending, it must not compromise its first constitutional responsibility: to ensure that national defense is fully funded to protect America and its interests at home and around the globe.

 

FACTS AND FIGURES


  • Government spending per household reached $29,867 in 2015 and is projected to rise by over 50 percent in only one decade to $48,088 per household in 2025.
  • No American family could spend and borrow as Congress does. If it could, a median-income family with $54,000 in yearly earnings would spend $61,000 in 2013, putting $7,000 on a credit card. This family’s total debt would already be over $300,000.
  • To set aside enough money today to pay the current debt and future unfunded costs just from Social Security and Medicare, each person in America today, including their children, would owe more than $210,000.
  • At $18.8 trillion, the national debt now amounts to $125,000 for every tax-filing household in America.

 

SELECTED ADDITIONAL RESOURCES


David S. Addington, “Federal Budget: What Congress Must Do to Control Spending and Create Jobs,” Heritage Foundation Issue Brief No. 3538, March 14, 2012.

Romina Boccia, “7 Priorities for the 2016 Congressional Budget Resolution,” Heritage Foundation Issue Brief No. 4635, March 11, 2015.

Romina Boccia, “Debt Limit: Options and the Way Forward,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2844, September 18, 2013.

Romina Boccia, “How the United States’ High Debt Will Weaken the Economy and Hurt Americans,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2768, February 12, 2013.

Romina Boccia, “A Scary Thought: Could America Become the Next Greece?” originally published in the National Interest, July 16, 2015.

John Gray, “The Appropriations Process: Spending Caps Explained,” Heritage Foundation Issue Brief No. 4434, July 20, 2015.

Paul Winfree, Romina Boccia, Curtis S. Dubay, and Michael Sargent, “Blueprint for Congressional Fiscal Action in the Remainder of 2015,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 3052, September 2, 2015.

http://solutions.heritage.org/the-economy/federal-spending-budget-and-debt/

A Blueprint for Balance: A Federal Budget for 2017

February 23, 2016 2 min read Download Report
The Heritage Foundation

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The Blueprint for Balance provides detailed recommendations for the annual congressional budget. Congress needs to drive down spending – including through reform of entitlement programs – to a balanced budget, while maintaining a strong national defense, and without raising taxes.

While Congress cannot solve everything at once, it can and must take opportunities through the annual budget and appropriations process to make a down payment of putting the government’s finances back in order. They can do this by immediately reducing discretionary spending and taking meaningful steps to reduce mandatory spending by reforming those programs.

The Blueprint:

  • Balances the budget while reducing taxes. The Blueprint reaches primary balance (i.e., without including interest of the debt) within the first year and eliminates deficits by 2023 without counting any benefits from growing the economy (that would result in balance even sooner). The budget stays in surplus while allowing the nation to begin reducing the national debt. It does this while completely eliminating over $1.3 trillion in the tax revenues included in Obamacare.
  • Reforms Entitlement Programs. Entitlement spending is growing on autopilot, consuming more and more of the federal budget each year. Tens of trillions in unfunded obligations are threatening younger generations with massive tax increases and undue burdens of debt. This blueprint would: repeal Obamacare; modernize Medicare by transitioning to a premium-support system and making key reforms to meet  demographic, fiscal, and structural challenges;  cap the federal allotment for Medicaid and give states greater flexibility in designing benefits and administering the program;  and make common sense reforms to Social Security to ensure seniors are protected from poverty in retirement while accounting for increased life expectancy and reducing the growth in benefits.
  • Reduces the National Debt. The Blueprint would reduce debt held by the public by $9.3 trillion over the decade, when compared to current Congressional Budget Office projections. As a percentage of the economy, debt would fall from a projected 75.6% in 2016 to a more sustainable rate of 52.5% in 2026, and continue falling from there.
  • Responsibly Brings Spending Under Control. The federal government cannot continue to spend at a rate faster than the economy grows. Over the next decade, the Heritage budget would reduce the growth in spending to an average rate of 1.7% annually, well below the nearly 5% annual growth rate under CBO’s baseline projection.
  • Reigns in Interest Spending. Net interest spending is projected to quadruple over the next decade if no action is taken. By 2024 the nation would be spending more on interest payments on the debt than on national defense. By stabilizing the debt, this budget reins in the cost of servicing the debt, freeing up resources for other national priorities.
  • Fully Funds National Defense. The Blueprint prioritizes national defense capabilities by moving resources from less critical domestic programs to funding the federal government’s core constitutional role fully. With continued and rising tensions across all corners of the globe, fully funding national defense must be a top priority.
  • Provides the Framework for Budget Process Reform. The Blueprint takes immediate steps towards implementing change in the budget process. These include: enacting a statutory spending cap enforced by sequestration to curb excessive spending growth; moving  towards a balanced budget amendment to constrain future attempts at circumventing budget caps; eliminating the use of changes in mandatory programs (CHIMPs) as a tool to evade discretionary spending limits; stopping spending on unauthorized programs and reducing spending for those programs that Congress reauthorizes; putting government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) on budget to accurately account for the budgetary impacts and risks of these programs; and implementing use fair-value accounting to more accurately report the risks Congress assumes and the subsidies it provides through federal credit programs, like student loans.

Authors

The Heritage Foundation

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The Pronk Pops Show 879, April 24, 2017, Story 1: The Elites vs. The People Not Nationalism vs. Internationalism — Decline and Fall Of The Socialist Welfare State — Videos — Story 2: President Trump’s Transparent Executive Orders — Videos

Posted on April 24, 2017. Filed under: American History, Banking System, Blogroll, Breaking News, Budgetary Policy, Coal, Communications, Congress, Corruption, Countries, Culture, Defense Spending, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Economics, Education, Elections, Empires, Employment, Energy, European History, Federal Government, Fiscal Policy, France, Germany, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Great Britain, Health Care, Health Care Insurance, History, House of Representatives, Illegal Immigration, Iran Nuclear Weapons Deal, IRS, Labor Economics, Law, Media, Medicare, Middle East, Monetary Policy, National Interest, Natural Gas, News, Obama, Oil, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Trump, Presidential Appointments, Public Sector Unions, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulation, Rule of Law, Scandals, Security, Senate, Social Networking, Social Security, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Terror, Terrorism, Trade Policy, Unemployment, Unions, United States Constitution, United States of America, United States Supreme Court, Videos, Violence, Wall Street Journal, Wealth, Welfare Spending, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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