The scale of America's surveillance state was laid bare on Thursday as senior politicians revealed that the US counter-terrorism effort had swept up swaths of personal data from the phone calls of millions of citizens for years.
After the revelation by the Guardian of a sweeping secret court order that authorised the FBI to seize all call records from a subsidiary of Verizon, the Obama administration sought to defuse mounting anger over what critics described as the broadest surveillance ruling ever issued.
A White House spokesman said that laws governing such orders "are something that have been in place for a number of years now" and were vital for protecting national security. Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee, said the Verizon court order had been in place for seven years. "People want the homeland kept safe," Feinstein said.
But as the implications of the blanket approval for obtaining phone data reverberated around Washington and beyond, anger grew among other politicians.
Intelligence committee member Mark Udall, who has previously warned in broad terms about the scale of government snooping, said: "This sort of widescale surveillance should concern all of us and is the kind of government overreach I've said Americans would find shocking." Former vice-president Al Gore described the "secret blanket surveillance" as "obscenely outrageous".
The Verizon order was made under the provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa) as amended by the Patriot Act of 2001, passed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. But one of the authors of the Patriot Act, Republican congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, said he was troubled by the Guardian revelations. He said that he had written to the attorney general, Eric Holder, questioning whether "US constitutional rights were secure".
An article I read a few weeks ago made my day. Many States have a program where people can sell there guns to law enforcement for needed cash. They would then melt the guns down, all in the name of getting weapons out of public hands. Texas ,however, passed a law making it illegal to melt down those guns, and now law enforcement is being forced to sell the guns back to the public! Love It!!! Alabama and Wyoming both passed laws allowing its citizens to maintain the write to own assault rifles no matter what federal law is created to make it illegal. Then you have Colorado going the other route, legalizing marijuana and enforcing gun laws that are forcing gun makers to re-locate, and more than that, many hunting guide services are re-locating also costing the state thousands of dollars and millions of dollars in revenue. When the elk and deer population explodes that will yet create another problem they will have to figure out. Its such a waky place America, you have Cowboy pro-gun'rs in Wyoming and there neighbor below them you have a bunch of hippies ruining there State to appease the fear mongers, when they should be fearing the SOBs making those laws!!! Probably a reason I'll never meet the right FSU girl is because I'll never live in a highly populated State, nor anywhere near a city, the more rural the better!
Battle lines are again being drawn between North and South — but this time, it's the North that's wanting to secede ... from Colorado.
The Daily Caller and Huffington Post reported Friday that as many as eight counties composing the rural, oil and gas-rich northeast corner of the state are pursuing a plan to cut ties with a capital city they no longer feel represents their interests and come together as the 51st state in the country: North Colorado.
"We're actually going to pursue it," Weld County Commissioner Douglas Rademacher, a farmer whose jurisdiction is spearheading the effort, told the Daily Caller. "Frankly, we've been ignored in northeastern Colorado now for the last, going on eight years with the current administration in Denver."
The HuffPost reports the secession plan is driven by a number of new laws passed in the Democrat-controlled legislature this year, including gun control, the curbing of perceived cruel treatment of livestock to expanded regulation of oil and gas production but the final straw was the signing of Senate Bill 252 by Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday which requires an increase in renewable energy standards in rural areas.
KDVR reports that opponents of that bill have called it a "war on rural Colorado."
"Frankly, we see no option," Rademacher said. "We are going to move forward."
Rademacher cited numerous examples of how Denver politicians are out of touch with rural Colorado, from passing tough new gun laws — "that gun legislation really pissed a lot of people off in Weld County," he said — to trying to clamp down on companies that extract natural gas through fracking.
Colorado is not the first state to begin fracturing along political lines. In the summer of 2011, a supervisor in Riverside County, Calif., called for 13 southern counties in that state to withdraw from too-liberal central and northern California.
In a number of other states — Texas, Vermont, Georgia and Alaska being the most prominent — secessionist movements are continuing to gain strength as more and more revelations about the abuse of federal power by both elected politicians and un-elected bureaucrats in Washington come to light. The latest revelation, that the National Security Agency has apparently tapped phones and electronic communications of millions of Americans, through a number of different platforms, has spurred new calls for either immediate, radical reform of the federal government — or secession from it.
"We've reached the saturation point with Big Brother, Nanny-State government," said Texas Nationalist Movement president Daniel Miller. "People, and especially Texans, are starting to realize that this government no longer considers the Constitution to be a definition of limits on its power. They are realizing that the contract Texas had with the other states upon entering this Union has been declared null and void."
"While everyone is distracted with the holiday festivities, Congress has been hard at work, screwing us over in the name of national security.
Yesterday the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act was fast-tracked through the Senate, with no time for discussion or amendments. So they just passed it so that they could recess for the holidays. The new version of the NDAA has already been quietly passed by the House of Representatives.
It authorizes massive spending, including $527 billion in base defense spending for the current fiscal year, funding for the war in Afghanistan, and funding for nuclear weapons programs.
The indefinite detention allowed by the original NDAA is still here, and it’s actually worse now, because there are provisions that will make it easier for the government to target those who disagree. Section 1071 outlines the creation of the “Conflict Records Research Center”, where the unconstitutionally obtained information that the NSA has collected is compiled and shared with the Department of Defense. The information, called in the wording “captured records,” can be anything from your phone records, emails, browsing history or posts on social media sites.
One thing that was omitted is the amendment on the prosecution of sexual assaults in the military. So, we can all be locked up indefinitely for crimes that haven’t been proven, but they don’t care so much if military members continue to rape other military members.
Unsurprisingly, there is little hope that President Obama will fail to sign this into law.
Under the new and “improved” NDAA, I’m a belligerent for writing this, and you’re a belligerent for reading this. God help you if you email someone about it or share it on Facebook. We’re all going to be busted as belligerents under this one."
You know I get so tired of these horse shit stories. Hers an article from a paper in GB. It's from about 8 years ago when the concealed carry uproar was going on and crime comparisons were every where.
According to the figures released yesterday, 3.6 per cent of the population of England and Wales were victims of violent crime in 1999 - second only to Australia, where the figure was 4.1 per cent. Scotland had a slightly lower rate of violence, at 3.4 per cent. In the U.S., only 2 per cent of the population suffered an assault or robbery. "
So actually we have a great misrepresentation of Australia as crime free when the violent crime rate is 2X of the US.