Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

Sharyl Attkisson, for those who don’t know of her, is an old-school journalist.  She finds a story and she pursues it, and no amount of political rhetoric and denials will dissuade her if she has a story.

She pursued Fast and Furious, Solyndra, Benghazi, just to name a few – and all because there are stories there that a good reporter would want exposed.  And they’re also stories that the Obama administration does not want exposed, because despite most of the media acting as a propaganda arm of the Democrat party, ultimately some people will hear and listen when they hear the truth – especially in contrast with handwaving and absurd denials.

sharyl attkisson

Her computers were hacked by some shadowy most-likely-government entity a while back.  I remember it coming up last year and writing about it thenTwice last year, in fact.

Now she’s got a book out and she’s elaborating.  The people in her story are mostly written about under pseudonyms for their own safety.

She speculates that the motive was to lay the groundwork for possible charges against her or her sources.

Attkisson says the source, who’s “connected to government three-letter agencies,” told her the computer was hacked into by “a sophisticated entity that used commercial, nonattributable spyware that’s proprietary to a government agency: either the CIA, FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency or the National Security Agency.”

That “laying the groundwork for possible charges” is because someone buried classified documents deep in her computer.

Next big moment: Attkisson gets her computer checked out by someone identified as “Number One,” who’s described as a “confidential source inside the government.” A climactic meeting takes place at a McDonald’s outlet at which Attkisson and “Number One” “look around” for possibly suspicious things. Finding nothing, they talk. “First just let me say again I’m shocked. Flabbergasted. All of us are. This is outrageous. Worse than anything Nixon ever did. I wouldn’t have believed something like this could happen in the United States of America.” That’s all coming from “Number One.”

The breaches on Attkisson’s computer, says this source, are coming from a “sophisticated entity that used commercial, nonattributable spyware that’s proprietary to a government agency: either the CIA, FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency, or the National Security Agency (NSA).” Attkisson learns from “Number One” that one intrusion was launched from the WiFi at a Ritz Carlton Hotel and the “intruders discovered my Skype account handle, stole the password, activated the audio, and made heavy use of it, presumably as a listening tool.”

To round out the revelations of “Number One,” he informs Attkisson that he’d found three classified documents deep inside her operating system, such that she’d never know they were even there. “Why? To frame me?” Attkisson asks in the book.

Media meta-reporter Erik Wemple (who’s so impressively attuned to everything news about news that he even asked me a few questions once) wrote several pieces on Attkisson’s encounters with electronic surveillance.

The first discusses computer intrusions as “worse than anything Nixon ever did”, and introduces us to “Jeff”, “Number One” and “Jerry Patel”, all of which are pseudonyms for various computer experts.  And in the first and into the second, we’re introduced to Don Allison of KoreLogic, who also diagnosed Attkisson’s computer, and is not protected by a pseudonym, but is behind a nondisclosure agreement for the time being.

And then there’s Wemple’s third piece, which talks about the strange case of a “spare” wire.

…By November 2012, writes Attkisson, disruptions on her home phone line were so frequent as to render it unusable: “I call home from my mobile phone and it rings on my end, but not at the house. Or it rings at home once but when my husband or daughter answers, they just hear a dial tone. At the same time, on my end, it keeps ringing and then connects somewhere, just not at my house. Sometimes, when my call connects to that mystery-place-that’s-not-my-house, I hear an electronic sounding buzz,” reads one passage in “Stonewalled.” She also alleges that her television set “spontaneously jitters, mutes, and freeze-frames.” The home alarm, too, “sounds at a different time every night” and when she checks with the alarm system, it indicates that there’s “trouble with the phone line.”

Phone, TV and computer service chez Attkisson all run on Verizon’s FiOS service. “Jeff” asks to inspect the exterior of the house in a check for anything suspicious. He finds a “stray cable dangling from the FiOS box attached to the brick wall on the outside of my house. It doesn’t belong.” “Jeff” says the cable in question is an “extra” fiber-optic line that could be used to download data and then send it off to another spot.

Attkisson takes a picture of the cable. Then she calls Verizon, which tells her that it’s not something they would have installed; they refer her to law enforcement. Attkisson doesn’t feel its a matter for the cops, and in any case Verizon calls back to say that they want to have a look for themselves as soon as possible — on New Year’s Day, no less. “Yeah, that shouldn’t be there,” the Verizon technician tells Attkisson.

Attkisson is a sensible, common sense reporter who follows leads to write reports of real life events.  She is neither Kolchak nor Mulder.

At one point, Attkisson gets a visit from pseudonymous “Terry,” who has “connections to the three-letter agencies.” “Stonewalled” takes it from here:

Terry tells me of a conversation he’d had with my husband back in 2011. He’d noticed a white utility truck parked up the street by a pond. “I didn’t like that. I didn’t like it at all,” he tells me now, shaking his head. . . . “I didn’t like it because I recognized the type of truck and the type of antennae it had. And if you look” — he points up the street — “there’s a direct line of sight from where it was parked to your house.” My husband, who once worked in law enforcement intelligence, had on several occasions in the past couple of years mentioned the presence of nondescript utility trucks parked in our neighborhood — trucks that were working on no known utility projects. Neighbors noticed, too. Ours is a small community filled with people who pay attention to such things. Some of them worked for the three-letter agencies.”

That’s the kind of thing that would make other reporters at least a tad intimidated, if not a bit paranoid.  Of course, if she lives in a neighborhood full of cops and retired spooks, this might be the amateur hour Obama G-men trainees trying to stake out people whose lives are Tom Clancy novels.

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Jazz Shaw and Mary Katherine Ham have been following the story at HotAir as well, with their own opinions on the hacking and journalistic intimidation, as well as reminding us of James Rosen’s encounter with the Obama administration.

My feelings remain much the same as they did last time.

Maybe it’s as a result of too much X-Files, Shadowrun and Project Twilight in the 90s, but I find this government spying stuff is damn creepy.  From the NSA’s massive computer and phone data mining to electronically targeting reporters, it’s like 90s conspiracy-themed entertainment has become 2009-present reality.

I’m sure there’s a pop-culture scholarly way to compare Nowhere Man and The Net to current events, but it’s less fun than it is disturbing when you think about it for too long – even if Attkisson and her three-letter agency neighbors are precisely the kind of people who are adept at navigating that kind of world.

Insanely left or insane lefties at MSNBC are blaming the National Rifle Association for the ebola outbreak.

Actually, that is one of the primary responsibilities of the United States surgeon general. There’s just one problem: Thanks to Senate dysfunction and NRA opposition, we don’t have a surgeon general right now. In fact, we haven’t had a surgeon general for more than a year now — even though the president nominated the eminently qualified Dr. Vivek Murthy back in November 2013.

He’d be one of those people who sees your right to protect yourself as a matter of “public health” requiring him to start regulating your rights – again, in the name of “public health”.  Of course, without the NRA to blame, there’d still be Manbearpig.

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Meanwhile, in California, Governor Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown has signed a bill that allows family members to petition judges to remove their family members’ rights.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California will become the first state that allows family members to ask a judge to remove firearms from a relative who appears to pose a threat, under legislation Gov. Jerry Brown said Tuesday he had signed.

This does nothing to deal with the root causes of maniacal violence – that of the maniac.  Institutionalization is still nigh-impossible, yet removing constitutional rights without a trial, a hearing, or their knowledge from family members who said the wrong thing after Thanksgiving dinner is easier than ever.  Stasi-tastic!

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And in even less fun economic news, the US is churning about $8,000,000,000,000 in debt.

When discussing the national debt, most people tend to only focus on the amount that it increases each 12 months.  And as I wrote about recently, the U.S. national debt has increased by more than a trillion dollars in fiscal year 2014.

But that does not count the huge amounts of U.S. Treasury securities that the federal government must redeem each year.  When these debt instruments hit their maturity date, the U.S. government must pay them off.  This is done by borrowing more money to pay off the previous debts.  In fiscal year 2013, redemptions of U.S. Treasury securities totaled $7,546,726,000,000 and new debt totaling $8,323,949,000,000 was issued.  The final numbers for fiscal year 2014 are likely to be significantly higher than that.

So why does so much government debt come due each year?

Well, in recent years government officials figured out that they could save a lot of money on interest payments by borrowing over shorter time frames.  For example, it costs the government far more to borrow money for 10 years than it does for 1 year.  So a strategy was hatched to borrow money for very short periods of time and to keep “rolling it over” again and again and again.

Eric Holder’s calling it quits.

And congress is still proceeding with looking into Fast and Furious, now years later.

The contempt of Congress case against Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. — the first sitting Cabinet member ever to face such a congressional rebuke — will continue even after his resignation takes effect, but it’s unlikely he will ever face personal punishment, legal analysts said Thursday.

Mr. Holder, is expected to announce his resignation later Thursday, and Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, said the timing is not accidental: A federal judge earlier this week ruled that the Justice Department will have to begin submitting documents next month related to the botched Fast and Furious gun operation in a case brought by Judicial Watch.

“I don’t think it’s any coincidence he’s resigning as the courts are ruling the Fast and Furious information has to be released,” Mr. Fitton told The Washington Times.

It’s not a coincidence.  He’s quitting so he can dodge criminal charges that would stick.

Last month’s news:

A federal judge has ordered the Justice Department to provide Congress with a list of documents that are at the center of a long-running battle over a failed law enforcement program called Operation Fast and Furious.

In a court proceeding Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson set an Oct. 1 deadline for producing the list to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

He’s quitting so the Democrat-held senate can force a successor through, just in case the Democrats lose the senate in the mid-term elections.

He’s also quitting so that he won’t be in office and thus will be eligible for presidential pardons.

holder fucks

He stonewalled long enough to slither out of office, but no doubt his successor will be a miserable leftist as well and Holder will be back as a consultant or advisor or in some other role where he can continue his schemes.

The Militarization of “Protesters”

Posted: September 7, 2014 by ShortTimer in Crime, Culture, Government, Leftists, Media
Tags:

Ferguson’s rioting is now yesterday’s news, except that Eric Holder is going to investigate the crap out of it to get justice immediately, while Fast and Furious is apparently a cold case.  But I think it’s important to bring this up before it’s totally forgotten.

Among the complaints about the Ferguson situation was “the militarization of police”, which is an argument I’m pretty skeptical about.  People seem to pine for a past that didn’t quite exist, demand that cops facing Molotov-throwing rioters still act like Sheriff Andy Taylor, and seem to miss that the reporters aren’t filming the crowds as much as the cops – and missing out on the crowd helps to miss the point.

First off, a quick photo of the “good ol’ days” before the police had rubber bullets and tear gas and sirens and MRAPs and flak jackets and before Tennessee vs Garner (where cops could apprehend by fire) and before Miranda rights:

1964 chester police riotBut if you notice something about the protester (called a rioter in the caption, but it’s easy to give him all benefits of the doubt) – he’s dressed pretty normal.

This is from the Harlem Riot of 1964:

harlem riot 1964 a

In that particular incident, there was protesting, rioting, and looting.  Given the situation at the time, the guy on the ground could be any of those, and the police could be quelling a disturbance where he’d just attacked someone, or they could be racist thugs in uniform beating the crap out of an innocent man for getting “uppity”.

But those guys are also dressed pretty normal for the time.

These people in Ferguson are not:

If you watched more than a couple minutes in, you saw “protesters” wearing helmets and gas masks.  Here’s a screenshot from 1:03 of a “protester” putting on their helmet & gas mask:

ferguson protester helmet and mask

That’s escalating a situation.

Among the handful of people yelling, there are also a dozen people there to record an incident that they are precipitating.  There are agitators there with cameras specifically to instigate – that’s why they brought gas masks and helmets.

ferguson protester helmet 2

The police there were dealing with rioters, looters, and arsonists across the city.  The police are trying to disperse a crowd that started aggressive and is getting worse and they’re using non-lethal crowd control techniques that are being neutralized by some agitating “protesters” who came ready with countermeasures.

You can hear the self-important glee in the voice of the man recording the incident.  He’s one of those folks who gets off on the confrontation, because it puts him at the front lines of what he thinks is important – but it’s a situation he’s working to create so he can applaud himself further.

In his own mind, he’s putting his life, and talent, on the line.

dick thornburg

What’s really going on is he’s just making the situation worse by escalating it.

No one looks at that video (or any of the rest of it that shows the “protesters” in Ferguson) and says “gee, I want that in my neighborhood”, or thinks “well, that sure showed the police that they should review their procedures, policies, and institutional culture that led to the shooting of Michael Brown and the community is concerned that there should be an impartial review of the incident”.

The militarized protester is armored for the confrontation, and armed with the camera to record the confrontation he precipitates in order to show he’s the victim and justify the beliefs he brought in to begin with.

There are as many people recording as there are with their hands up yelling.  They’re brought in by the lure of cameras and the feeling of attention, while that helmeted, gas-masked agitator is using them to prop himself up.

And then of course there are the people throwing firebombs.

ferguson molotov 1

A lot of the actions on the part of “protesters” is contingent on police response being very restrained.  “Restrained!  They teargassed those people!”  Yes, restrained.

Unlike in other nations (like Colombia, above), our policemen do have rules, and are held accountable.

That’s why police in the US work to use crowd control that has the least likelihood of causing permanent harm, while preventing personal and property damage in the community the police are hired by.  They ultimately are supposed to be there to serve and protect – and for every rioter there are several people in their homes who would like to go to the store tomorrow and not find it burned down.

The protester who’s gone out to confront police with a helmet and gas mask is, again, working to negate the police ability to use crowd control that’s relatively harmless.  They want confrontation – whether as an instigator for their own ego purposes as above, or for their own ideological ends.  They want an escalating conflict where their weapon is their camera and where they have a mob to do violence for them, and where they can stay and outlast police tactics until the police have exhausted peaceful options.

Clausewitz’s most famous quote was: “War is merely the continuation of politics by other means.”

For some, escalating their politics to conflict, especially with a police force that is duty-bound to protect its city and maintain order, is a win-win.  If the “protester” militarizes but with the focus on generating a narrative rather than taking ground, he gets his propaganda victory every time the police are forced to act.  He points his camera at the police and not at the broken windows, burned shops, or at the people hiding inside their homes while riots run on their streets.  He ignores the people who can’t get to their homes, can’t get to their workplaces, can’t get to stores for food, can’t go outside without fear of a mob – he ignores those in favor of his own political ends.  He gets a sympathetic national media to report his story while ignoring the people terrorized by his actions and the actions he instigates.  The instability he brings destroys communities and he rewrites the narrative to blame his ideological foes – the police, the business owners and citizens of the city who left – everyone but the person responsible for the violence of the conflict – the militarized protester himself.

It’s asymmetrical warfare and it’s quite effective.

13 Hours At Benghazi

Posted: September 7, 2014 by ShortTimer in Government, Middle East, Obama administration, terrorism
Tags: ,

HT Jawa Report, via Soopermexican at Right Scoop & Mass Tea Party, from FOX News:

As a reminder, Benghazi has been hushed up since the beginning by the Obama administration, even going so far as to have the CIA was moving personnel and changing names of their people so they couldn’t be found by investigators:

I am also immediately reminded of the Christian/Newsome murders, and this mob attack yesterday in Mississippi.  There are a myriad more examples that are conspicuous by their absence from the national debate, as well as the easy punditry of “what would the story be if the races were reversed?”

Militarization of the Police… Or Not

Posted: August 20, 2014 by ShortTimer in Crime, Culture, Government, Media
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The last couple weeks worth of rioting and looting in Ferguson, Missouri over what’s looking less and less like the outright murder of an unarmed teenager and more like a cop who had to defend himself against multiple attacks from a thug who’d just committed a strong-arm robbery has led some punditing pundits to pundificate over the militarization of police.

In the pundit mind, it goes “cops with cargo pants and rifles means militarization of police leads to warrior cop leads to police see people as the enemy to be oppressed leads to police start oppressing people everywhere”.

Rich Lowry at NRO turns around the point that the whole militarization theme has been overblown, and started without any militarization and helmets and rifles and MRAPs at all:

It was ridiculous and wrong for police snipers to train their weapons on peaceful protestors in Ferguson. But, when you get right down to it, the militarization of police has had basically nothing to do with events there, even though the Left and parts of the Right have wanted to make that the main issue.

When Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown, the officer was presumably wearing a typical police uniform and driving a typical police car.

Just so you get a visual of that, and the story from an eyewitness on scene discussing it:

No MRAPs in there, no fatigues, no helmets, no Wiley X goggles.  And the eyewitness’s own description as the body lies in the street is not what the papers and news have been saying for the last couple weeks, either.  None of it has to do with “militarization of the police”.

Lowry continues with this point:

Finally, there’s the argument that the militarized police were inciting the crowd. This wasn’t entirely implausible, although it seemed unlikely because it should be possible for lawful, well-intentioned people to restrain themselves from throwing things at cops whose uniforms and vehicles they don’t like. Sure enough, after a night of calm in the wake of the “demilitarization” of the police response and the insertion of Captain Ron Johnson, the lawlessness started right up again.

Yeah, actually the first part is implausible.

See this crowd:

>Tea Party Tomorrow

That’s the big DC Tea Party protest from a couple years back.  There was no violence there.  They even picked up their trash when they left.  Harry Reid called those people terrorists, though.

See this crowd:

guns across america slc ut

That’s from a guns across America rally in January 2013 in SLC, Utah.  And this one’s from January 2013 in Austin, TX:

guns across america austin tx 2

Lots of folks there.  Folks with guns, even.  Yet there was no looting, no rioting, and no violence.

By contrast, this is what a lot of “protesting” in Ferguson, Missouri looks like:

ferguson quiktrip

Not with signs, but with fire bombs.

ferguson molotov 1

ferguson molotov 2

ferguson molotov 3

The first protests and the last “protest” are not the same.

That’s the reason for the police response that looks like this:

ferguson mrap

Police riot gear and riot equipment may look more military today than in the past, but the “militarization of police” idea is due to media perception that molds public perception, sensationalizing the uncommon, and whipping up a new crisis.

Just for contrast, here’s a cop with a belt-fed machinegun – state of the art in 1918 – and what helped turn the Great War into an industrial slaughter that killed millions.

NYPD-traffic-motorcycle-policeman-Indian-cycle.-May-18-1918I don’t see the cops with the MRAP having any belt-fed weapons.  Instead their weapons are precise, and they have many non-lethal options that don’t consist of batons.  They are also filmed constantly.

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Generally speaking, I have seen cops wearing kevlar vests.  I have seen a handful of law enforcement agents carrying longarms (and those were Border Patrol agents out in the boonies dealing with very different threats, or game wardens who are almost always approaching someone who’s also armed).  I have never seen an MRAP on the streets of the US.  Of course, I also don’t frequent places where looting is a pasttime.

I do know of Marines who went to New Orleans after Katrina to deal with the looters and rioters and anarchy… but I was on the other side of the globe at the time.  And of course I’m familiar with the National Guard having been called in to a lot of civil disturbances.

But the thing is, those are all still rare.

SWAT raids are rare.  They make the news because they’re exciting to the press, and the press principle of “if it bleeds it leads”, but they’re rare.  When I’ve asked people about if they’ve ever seen a SWAT raid in real life, the answer is almost invariably no – or is incredibly rare (unless they’re in law enforcement, but even then the answer still tends towards scarcity.)

Even SWAT raids that go bad are rare.  And the type of 2AM no-knock raid on the drug dealer’s house that gets the wrong address and results in overzealous swat clowns shooting an old man in his bed – are clearly unacceptable and should result in Hammurabic punishments for whoever okayed and participated in the raid.  But their seriousness makes us see them as more common, and no doubt the number of raids gone bad should be zero… but that discussion isn’t any part of what’s going on in Missouri.

Crime is on a downward trend, but political race-baiting and pushing class warfare in a classless society is on an upward trend.

From CBS St. Louis:

Protesters filled the streets after nightfall Monday, and officers trying to enforce tighter restrictions at times used bullhorns to order them to disperse. Police deployed noisemakers and armored vehicles to push demonstrators back. Officers fired tear gas and flash grenades.

One looter who came out of a QuikTrip told The Washington Post that he was proud of what he was doing.

I’m proud of us. We deserve this, and this is what’s supposed to happen when there’s injustice in your community,” DeAndre Smith told The Post. “St. Louis — not going to take this anymore.”

This goes to the heart of the matter – there’s an entitlement mentality where a looter has decided that since the facts aren’t all out there yet about the confrontation between Brown and the cop that by default the cop is wrong, and it’s right to loot local businesses.  Because A did something to B, then C is entitled to terrorize D.

Read that sentence again:

One looter who came out of a QuikTrip told The Washington Post that he was proud of what he was doing.

I’m proud of us. We deserve this, and this is what’s supposed to happen when there’s injustice in your community,” DeAndre Smith told The Post. “St. Louis — not going to take this anymore.”

He “deserves” to loot.  And looting and mayhem is what’s “supposed to happen” when there’s “injustice”.

The owner of that Quiktrip, the employees working at that Quiktrip, the people who shop there are all finding their livelihoods and lives wrecked or harmed or at the very least inconvenienced because he thinks he deserves to steal.  And lest they run to authorities demanding something be done, the reminder that “snitches get stitches” was put on the side of the building.

Number 7 of the Peelian Principles comes to mind:

To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

When a large part of the public has decided that they will reject not just the police, but the concept of law and order, and threaten those who would want actual justice, there is a societal ill that is not caused by cops wearing jungle boots.

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The problem isn’t some perceived militarization of the police – at least not there.  For all the hype of leftists and some libertarians screaming “MRAPs do not belong on our streets” – the answer is that they actually don’t – they don’t belong there any more than the actual military in the form of the National Guard does – but they will be there if the real problem strikes.

The problem is a lack of civilization of the society.