The Secret Rules That Allow the FBI To Spy on Journalists

The bones of our democracy – the core elements that separate that way of life from others – lie in the First Amendment to the Constitution, specifically the rights to free speech and a free press.

Without the ability to speak freely, and to have things about our government reported equally freely to us, most of the rest of the concept of what was laid out on July 4, 1776 and later falls away. Thomas Jefferson himself stated that an “informed citizenry” was the key to everything.

So it is with more than a little anxiety that we learned secret rules allow the FBI to spy on journalists with such ease that the restraints are really nothing more than a bit of paperwork. As always, the ostensible justifications for another deep step into Post Constitutional America are terrorism, security, protecting the homeland. And, as always, the outcome seems to be much more about stomping out whistleblowers than anything else.

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Sheldon Richman on NATO’s Broken Promise

If you want to understand the context in which the US demonization of Russia and Vladimir Putin is occurring, read Joshua Itzkowitz Shifrinson’s excellent piece in the Los Angeles Times, “Russia’s got a point: The U.S. broke a NATO promise.”

In summary, US presidents, Democratic and Republican, broke a 1990 promise to Russia not to extend NATO eastward to the Russian border, a promise made in return for Russia’s pledge not to interfere with the reunification of Germany and its membership in NATO. (We may well ask why NATO continued after the Warsaw Pact and then the Soviet Union disappeared.) The US promise was broken when the members of the defunct Warsaw Pact and the Baltic states were incorporated into NATO, and two former Soviet Republics, Georgia and Ukraine, were widely discussed as future NATO members. (This has not happened yet, but the US government has intervened in both countries to keep them from being too close to Russia. In Ukraine this took the form of a coup, ousting an elected president, however objectionable he was.)

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Free Speech and Political Conventions

This summer, we have all witnessed the heavy hand of government intervening in the freedom of speech, as the behavior of the Secret Service at both the Republican convention in Cleveland and the Democratic convention in Philadelphia was troubling and unconstitutional.

Though the First Amendment was originally written only to restrain Congress ("Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech"), it is now uniformly interpreted to restrict all government in America from abridging the freedom of speech.

The reason this freedom is referred to as "the" freedom of speech is to reflect the belief of the Framers that the right to speak freely is pre-political. Stated differently, the freedom of speech is an integral aspect of our humanity. The government does not grant the freedom of speech; it is prohibited from interfering with it.

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Did Russian Intelligence Hack the DNC Servers?

Short answer: nobody knows, but the media is treating it as a fact based primarily on a single technical source employed by the Democratic National Committee. I read the source’s publicly available explanation. Here’s what I found.

A Quick Taste of Media Conclusions

Despite a line in paragraph five saying “Proving the source of a cyberattack is notoriously difficult,” the New York Times offers the following statements.

  • “researchers have concluded that the national committee was breached by two Russian intelligence agencies;”
  • “Though a hacker claimed responsibility for giving the emails to WikiLeaks, the same agencies are the prime suspects;”
  • “Whether the thefts were ordered by Mr. Putin, or just carried out by apparatchiks who thought they might please him, is anyone’s guess.”
  • “It is unclear how WikiLeaks obtained the email trove. But the presumption is that the intelligence agencies turned it over, either directly or through an intermediary. Moreover, the timing of the release, between the end of the Republican convention and the beginning of the Democratic one, seems too well planned to be coincidental.”

There’s more, but you get the picture. The article also quotes Clinton staffers citing unnamed experts and researchers.

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Ron Paul Asks: Can Bombs Win War on ISIS?

The US-led coalition fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq has dropped its 50,000th bomb recently, yet the end of the two-year effort is nowhere in sight. Meanwhile civilians are being killed by the hundreds by US bombs on Syria. Is that not also a form of terrorism and is it not generating blowback against Europe and the US? Both major presidential candidates talk of escalating the bombing campaigns in Iraq and Syria, but if that approach is not producing the desired result how will doing more of it result in a different outcome? We need an entirely new approach to the war on ISIS. Tune in to today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report for our take:

Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.

Like the F-35, US Latest and Most Expensive Aircraft Carrier Doesn’t Work

Why does the US spend more on its military than the next largest several countries combined? One reason is that the military budget has far less to do with protecting the United States than it does to further enriching well-connected military contractors. Politicians are under pressure to push weapons systems, that in turn produce “jobs” for their districts. Remember, the disastrous F-35 fighter is built in 45 states and several foreign countries. This doesn’t happen by accident.

As former Pentagon analyst and keen observer Chuck Spinney points out, when it comes to the military budget, it’s all about enormously expensive, high-tech weapons systems that don’t usually work. Little things like readiness and force strength take a back-seat. High-tech pays off well, with shiny things and bells and whistles impressing those who sign off on big contracts. Actually giving troops useful tools to win wars is much less exciting (and profitable).

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