Archive for the ‘Obama administration’ Category

Via HotAir, discussing the subject of fines:

They came up in conversation when the mine owner tried to keep them from messing around with site. Todd Hennis had some experience with the EPA in the past and they had caused some similar leaks at another property of his. This time he told them he didn’t want them in there messing around, but they made their position clear. (Washington Examiner)

Mr. Hennis said he opposed having the EPA investigate leakage from the inactive mine near Silverton, Colorado, because he had tangled with the agency in previous years over its work at another mine he owns in Leadville, Colorado.

“I said, ‘No, I don’t want you on my land out of fear that you will create additional pollution like you did in Leadville,’” Mr. Hennis told Colorado Watchdog.org. “They said, ‘If you don’t give us access within four days, we will fine you $35,000 a day.’”

The EPA has admitted that its agents accidentally unleashed the acidic flood, which has since contaminated the San Juan River in New Mexico and seeped into Lake Powell in Utah, albeit in very low concentrations.

Yup.  The owner of the mine said “no, you wrecked my land before, you’ll do it again”… and the EPA threatened fines, and then they wrecked his land.  Again.  And your land.  And my land.

Hennis warned them.  He told them.  And the EPA threatened him, and so the EPA did it anyway.

And it’s not the first time:

The 3-million-gallon heavy-metal spill two weeks ago in Silverton polluted three states and touched off national outrage. But the EPA escaped public wrath in 2005 when it secretly dumped up to 15,000 tons of poisonous waste into another mine 124 miles away. That dump – containing arsenic, lead and other materials – materialized in runoff in the town of Leadville, said Todd Hennis, who owns both mines along with numerous others.

“If a private company had done this, they would’ve been fined out of existence,” Hennis said. “I have been battling the EPA for 10 years and they have done nothing but create pollution. About 20 percent (of Silverton residents) think it’s on purpose so they can declare the whole area a Superfund site.”  …

It’s against this backdrop that the Environmental Protection Agency began lobbying to declare part of Leadville a Superfund site in order to develop a recreational area called the Mineral Belt Trail. The project was officially completed in 2000, but apparently the agency stayed on and continued to work in town.

In late 2005, the EPA collected tons of sludge from two Leadville mines and secretly dumped it down the shaft of the New Mikado mine without notifying Hennis, its owner, according to documents reviewed by Watchdog.  …

A drainage tunnel had been installed at the bottom of the mine shaft by the U.S. government in 1942, meaning that any snow or rain would leach toxins into the surrounding land.

Hennis said the EPA claims it has installed a treatment pond near the tunnel to clean runoff. The EPA rebuffed his demands to clean up the mess it created in his mine, he said. In frustration, Hennis sent the county sheriff a certified notice that any EPA officials found near his property were trespassing and should be arrested.

Despite that history of bitterness, in 2010, the EPA asked Hennis to grant its agents access to Gold King Mine in Silverton because the agency was investigating hazardous runoff from other mines in the region.

“I said, ‘No, I don’t want you on my land out of fear that you will create additional pollution like you did in Leadville,’” Hennis said. The official request turned into a threat, Hennis said: “They said, ‘If you don’t give us access within four days, we will fine you $35,000 a day.’

An EPA administrative order dated May 12, 2011 said its inspectors wanted to conduct “drilling of holes and installing monitoring wells, sampling and monitoring water, soil, and mine waste material from mine water rock dumps…as necessary to evaluate releases of hazardous substances…”

When the EPA hit Hennis with $300,000 in fines, he said, he “waved the white flag” and allowed the agency on his property.

And this was the result after the EPA went to his mine:

animas river 150811

24 hours passed with no notification to the lower states or Navajo Nation; the White House ignored mentioning the incident; and it took a week for the EPA administrator to tour Durango downstream, while refusing to visit Silverton itself.

The EPA is unaccountable for anything they do.  They have a history of destructive actions and they won’t be held accountable.

And now estimates at cleanup range from $338 million to $27 billion.

I wonder if these EPA goons are the ones out of the Denver office who shit in the hallways of their building?  (From GovExec last year.)

It appears, however, that a regional office has reached a new low: Management for Region 8 in Denver, Colo., wrote an email earlier this year to all staff in the area pleading with them to stop inappropriate bathroom behavior, including defecating in the hallway.

In the email, obtained by Government Executive, Deputy Regional Administrator Howard Cantor mentioned “several incidents” in the building, including clogging the toilets with paper towels and “an individual placing feces in the hallway” outside the restroom.

Confounded by what to make of this occurrence, EPA management “consulted” with workplace violence “national expert” John Nicoletti, who said that hallway feces is in fact a health and safety risk. He added the behavior was “very dangerous” and the individuals responsible would “probably escalate” their actions.

Yeah, they escalated it to the tune of 3 million gallons of toxic sludge that they smeared across the western US.

A couple days ago, the EPA decided to stick its nose into something looking for someone to fine in the name of Gaia, and instead dumped a million gallons of toxic sludge and heavy metals down the Animas River in CO, UT, NM, and AZ.

A federal cleanup crew accidentally caused a big, and potentially hazardous, mess in Colorado, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

An estimated 1 million gallons of wastewater spilled out of an abandoned mine area in the southern part of the state on Wednesday, turning the Animas River orange and prompting the EPA to tell locals to avoid it.

animas river durango 150811 before and after

Oh, wait, did the EPA say 1 million?  They meant 3 million.  Until the next revision as they “tell the truth slowly” and it becomes 10 million or 100 million.

The agency, meanwhile, remains under intense fire after its contractors accidentally breached a dam at the mine last week and sent toxic sludge flowing into the Animas River. The contaminated water has spread to New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, and EPA officials were forced to concede that more than 3 million gallons were released into the river — a much higher amount than the agency’s initial estimate of 1 million gallons.

It’s really bad.

animas river 150811

A map of the San Juan river watershed gives some idea of how much this pollution the EPA caused is going to impact:

san juan river map w animas

This is a huge area the EPA has managed to pollute.

The big question is, as WT hints at, is anyone going to be held accountable?

Although not comparable in magnitude, the spill in some ways is reminiscent of BP’s 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which famously led President Obama to say he was looking for someone’s “ass to kick” in response and prompted Ken Salazar, the interior secretary at the time, to vow to keep his “boot on the neck” of BP.

This time, with a federal agency responsible for the spill, the talk hasn’t been so tough.

Critics say the administration is exercising a clear double standard by failing to demand the kind of accountability — including the firings of those responsible — that it has demanded of private companies.

They also say the EPA has seriously damaged its own credibility by failing to reveal the incident until a day later, and by initially downplaying the size of the spill.

If the EPA were to be treated like a private company, it would be getting fined, its officers would be getting fined, its people directly responsible for operations that caused the pollution would be going to prison, and the company would likely be destroyed.

Since it’s the EPA, expect nothing to happen.  There’ll be some angry comments, but much like when the ATF sent guns to narcoterrorist cartels with Fast and Furious – the express opposite of what their job is, when the EPA poisons an entire river in the express opposite of what their job is – no one will be held accountable.

This is more indicative of living in an age where rule of law has fallen to the wayside.  The government that’s supposed to be held to the highest standard instead decides if it feels like punishing itself for failures, and because it’s just more convenient not to, it won’t.  And they know you either can’t or won’t do anything about it, so they have zero problem with shutting down all the coal plants in the US with rules they just made up based on fantasy while they actually poison rivers.

Hypocrisy is irrelevant because they determine what is wrong and right.  The law applies to you, not to them.  Enjoy your pollution courtesy of the Environmental Protection Agency – if it weren’t for them, you’d have cleaner rivers and air regionally managed by state environmental departments, cheaper electric bills and the economy and environment would be better.

As an aside, since the BP 2010 spill was mentioned, it’s important to note the only reason they were out drilling in deep water where a spill is so difficult to contaminate is because they were forced far offshore.  If the rig had been in shallower water, it’d’ve been easier to drill, there’d be less likelihood of a spill to begin with, and if there were a spill, it’d be that much easier to fix at 200 feet down as opposed to 5100 feet down.

We keep finding out it’s a bigger breach than we were told it was:

Washington (CNN) – The personal data of an estimated 18 million current, former and prospective federal employees were affected by a cyber breach at the Office of Personnel Management – more than four times the 4.2 million the agency has publicly acknowledged. The number is expected to grow, according to U.S. officials briefed on the investigation.

FBI Director James Comey gave the 18 million estimate in a closed-door briefing to Senators in recent weeks, using the OPM’s own internal data, according to U.S. officials briefed on the matter. Those affected could include people who applied for government jobs, but never actually ended up working for the government.

Just to give some idea what’s included in that vague term “data” – it includes SF86 forms done by the huge numbers of government employees who have any security clearance or any job related to security.  For readers who aren’t familiar with the SF86, you can skim the form here.  It’s 127 pages long in that PDF, and is very, very in-depth.  It’s basically putting down a pretty substantial part of your life story in order to apply for a job.  And now all of that data is in the hands of the Chinese government and whoever they’ve decided to sell it to.

Citing the long, long list of Obama administration failures – from Fast and Furious to VA death lines to Benghazi and a dozen more, Jim Geraghty at NRO found it to be characteristic of the whole Obama Administration:

We are governed by progressives who have an infinite faith in the federal government’s ability to manage enormously complicated tasks and almost no interest in ensuring the government actually does those tasks well.

What I found interesting was that the data breach as DC has tried to spin it (because they don’t care about the 4 million plus wage slaves whose government-collected data is now for sale on the black market) was that there might be some risk to US agents overseas, because a pretty big chunk of their life stories and identity has been given away.

I seem to recall that such a thing would be treated with some severity in times past.  I can’t imagine “all data on all US government employees has made it into the hands of the Soviets” being the kind of thing that Eisenhower or Kennedy or Nixon or Reagan would just blow off as “optics”.

Heck, the idea of government employee identities being compromised to a hostile power is crux of the plot in the James Bond film Skyfall.

From the Washington Examiner:

Legal and illegal immigrants will hit a record high of 51 million in just eight years and eventually account for an astounding 82 percent of all population growth in America, according to new U.S. Census figures.

If it weren’t for the illegal aliens there, that might not be such a big deal.  If it weren’t for the “legal” immigrants who are just illegal aliens with unconstitutional executive actions applied to them, it also might not be such a big deal.  People coming to the US because they want to be Americans and embrace American principles is a good thing… but millions upon millions of them are simply not – and millions upon millions of them are being targeted as political fodder.

They’re being imported as future lifetime Democrat voters.

President Obama’s amnesty by edict has always been about adding new Democrats to the voter rolls, and recent action by the Department of Homeland Security provides further proof. Sources at the Department of Homeland Security report to PJ Media that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is reallocating significant resources away from a computer system — the “Electronic Immigration System” — to sending letters to all 9,000,000 green card holders urging them to naturalize prior to the 2016 election.

This effort is part of the DHS “Task Force on New Americans.”

Naturalization plus mobilization is the explicit aim of the DHS “Task Force on New Americans.” Multiple sources at DHS confirm that political appointees are prioritizing naturalization ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

Empirical voting patterns among immigrants from minority communities demonstrate that these new voters will overwhelmingly vote for Democrat candidates.  If the empirical rates of support for Democrats continued among these newly naturalized minority voters, Democrats could enjoy an electoral net benefit of millions of new voters in the 2016 presidential election.

Other DHS sources report that racial interest groups such as La Raza (translated to “The Race”) and the American Immigration Lawyers Association have been playing a central and influential role in rewriting the administration’s immigration policies — both the public policies as well as internal and largely unseen guidelines.

These aren’t people coming in because they want to be your friends and neighbors.  They’re being recruited as the left seeks to displace Americans in favor of aliens who will blindly support leftist policies.

It is part of their plan.

And lastly:

Once the soil has been prepared, the seedlings will arrive. And the seedlings, according to those planning the changes for your city or town, need to be nurtured and cultivated into healthy communities of their own. They will eventually be fully “integrated,” meaning they are firmly established and able to grow within their host community, eventually overtaking the host.

The plans to transform America through immigration, as spelled out in the new White House report, involves almost every government agency working in tandem with community organizers from immigrant-rights groups like National Council for La Raza and the National Partnership for New Americans. The White House task force is headed by Cecilia Munoz, former top executive with La Raza and now Obama’s top domestic policy adviser.

Top executive with the racist organization “The Race” is now his top policy adviser.  Read it again a few times until it sinks in if you need to.

The report is chock full of programs, goals, plans and strategies to build welcoming “receiving communities” and give immigrants all they need to prosper economically, linguistically and politically.

The document is permeated with Orwellian euphemisms, starting with the title, “Strengthening Communities by Welcoming all Residents,” and continuing with its declaration of the “economic benefits of immigrant and refugee integration.”

Critics argue the plan will do the exact opposite, weakening stable communities by delivering a steady dose of low-skilled immigrants who will place a burden on schools and social services. The new arrivals are likely to be seen working as hotel maids, toiling in meat-packing plants, as cashiers at big-box stores, dishwashers or other low-wage jobs that require food stamps, subsidized housing and other forms of government assistance.

Judicial Watch, the Washington, D.C.-based government watchdog organization, predicted Wednesday that cities and counties will be “strong-armed into participating in this immigrant welcoming effort.”

This is also why there are major fights in the courts about illegal aliens, and why deportations of illegals are halted by the Obama administration.  If you can just get them to stay long enough, you can force integration of communities that simply don’t belong – and then you can argue “we can’t deport them” – and thus fundamental transformation of the voting populace is complete.

Democrats become the power, Republicans never again win any election but regional ones, and mindless illiterate illegals who don’t speak the language will be taken by bus from polling station to polling station until the Democrats win.

Cloward and Piven implodes the nation, Democrats win in perpetuity, redistribution commences, the left applauds itself as it destroys the evil that is America, yay for socialism.

We’ve heard about the UN Arms Trade Treaty for months (if not years) by now, and it’s almost a given that it will never be ratified by the US Senate, because it includes plenty of rules that are anathema to the Second Amendment.  But it was passed through the UN and enacts at Christmas:

The U.N. Arms Trade Treaty is set to take effect on Christmas Eve. Though the United States delegation to the U.N. has supported the treaty, it has very little chance of being ratified by two-thirds of the Senate. But there is still reason for concern, said Catherine Mortensen, spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association.

“We are worried about an end-run around Congress,”  Mortensen told TheBlaze. “Barack Obama or a future anti-gun president could use ATT and international norms compliance to rationalize enacting gun control policies through executive actions, especially in the import and export realms.”

“Even now, with an existing appropriations rider prohibiting action to implement the treaty unless it is approved by Congress, administration officials are publicly professing support for international efforts to bring the treaty into effect. That’s outrageous,” she added.

The U.N. General Assembly adopted the treaty in April 2013 with a vote of 154 to 3. The State Department points out that only Iran, Syria and North Korea opposed it.

That thing about Iran, Syria, and North Korea opposing it is used by the current administration to portray those who object to it as extreme.  Except there are plenty of nations who are “for” it who later didn’t sign it, didn’t ratify it, or will ignore it just like other treaties.

The better news on the treaty is more recent, via CNS News:

(CNSNews.com) – As United Nations officials welcome the Christmas Eve entry into force of the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), its progress in the U.S. remains hampered by significant Senate opposition and funding prohibitions included in appropriations legislation.

Most recently, the omnibus government funding bill passed by the Congress earlier this month contained new prohibitions on the administration using any funds to implement the conventional arms treaty. Under U.N. procedures the U.S. would be liable for 22 percent of the budget for the ATT secretariat, the body that will oversee its implementation.

It’s nice to know we’re at least not paying for it.

It’s especially nice since the UN’s attempts at gun control usually end up murdering lots of people.

And like was suspected about those who opposed the treaty – the question is who else didn’t sign or didn’t care – note the story says “among the non-signatories”, not “this is a comprehensive list of all the non-signatories”.

When the U.N. General Assembly adopted the ATT in April 2013 only three member-states voted against it: Iran, Syria and North Korea.

But the list of nations that have not signed the treaty is far longer, and includes some of the world’s more controversial regimes. Among the non-signatories are Russia (the world’s second biggest arms exporter, after the U.S.), China (the fifth biggest), Cuba, Ecuador, India, Iran, Iraq, Nicaragua, North Korea, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Venezuela and Vietnam.

The effect of active and powerful restriction on small arms trade could mean major problems for recreational shooters in any free state as imported ammunition tends to be cheaper than domestic.  Banning importation of cheap foreign ammunition through auspices of the ATT would be a way to impose a financial burden and barrier to entry into recreational shooting, and thus to harm gun culture.  For those who believe in citizen disarmament, it’s a feature.

Meanwhile, the EPA found itself blocked from banning lead ammunition.  Again, lead ammo is cheaper, and with regards to hunting ammunition, it performs very well and replacement ammunition is often very expensive.

A federal appeals court denied a lawsuit Tuesday by environmental groups that the EPA must use the Toxic Substances Control Act regulate lead used in shells and cartridges.

“We agree with EPA that it lacks statutory authority to regulate the type of spent bullets and shot identified in the environmental groups’ petition,” Judge David Tatel wrote for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Note who’s suing and how.  Environmental groups are suing the EPA to act (often environmental groups getting money from the EPA or other part of govt).  This is something the environmental movement has done for quite a while, and often hand-in-hand with the EPA.  They sue the EPA for the new rule they want, the EPA settles with the group, or gets a judge to rule in favor of the new regulation, and the EPA can just go out and make it happen.

And finally, the Obama amnesty was ruled an overreach by a federal judge in PA.  I’ve been writing about how Obama will push for amnesty for illegal aliens for a long time, and since he just up and did it with his “executive actions”, that’s about when I stopped posting so much.  Doesn’t feel critical to write about this stuff when it’s all over the news everywhere.  If you’ve been reading here, or you’re remotely paying attention, you’ve seen it, heard it, and you’re mad about it.  I yelled “fire!” for a long time, and now there’s a massive conflagration.

>Lame Duck "Immigration Reform" - Amnesty

There’s only so many times I could post that pic from The People’s Cube.  And then he just did it.

Except that judge in Western Pennsylvania has said that he can’t do it:

A federal judge Tuesday ruled parts of President Obama’s deportation amnesty to be unconstitutional, with a scathing memo dismantling the White House’s legal reasoning and arguing that Mr. Obama tried to steal Congress’ lawmaking powers.

The ruling doesn’t invalidate the policy immediately because it was part of a case over a single illegal immigrant’s deportation, but it could serve as a road map for other federal judges who are considering direct challenges to the president’s policy.

Judge Arthur J. Schwab, sitting in the Western District of Pennsylvania, said Mr. Obama has some discretion in how to enforce laws, but by setting out a comprehensive system to grant tentative legal status to as many as 5 million illegal immigrants, the president has strayed into trying to write the laws, which is a power reserved for Congress.

Part of the issue was also that the method by which Obama did it was through “prosecutorial discretion”.  That’s supposed to mean that an individual prosecutor can look at an individual case and choose whether or not to go forward with charges.  It does not mean that 5-10 million crimes can simply be ignored and that an entire statute can be mandated to be ignored by the executive branch.

“President Obama’s unilateral legislative action violates the separation of powers provided for in the United States Constitution as well as the Take Care Clause, and therefore is unconstitutional,” Judge Schwab wrote.

Immigrant rights advocates said the ruling was a shocking overstep of the court’s authority. Indeed, the Obama administration has argued in federal court in Washington that judges have no power to review the president’s decision-making.

Illegal alien supporters, not “immigrant rights advocates”.  Every legal immigrant who sees 5-10 million people cutting in line is apoplectic over this.

The White House defends the policy as a reasonable use of Mr. Obama’s powers to set priorities for enforcing laws, and to stop the breakup of families because of deportation.

Meanwhile, there are millions of US citizens in prisons and jails for various reasons whose families are broken up.  There are millions of families broken up by government policies that favor broken homes as well.  No tears are shed for them, no hearts bleed for them.

Joyce R. Branda, the acting assistant attorney general who is leading the case, argued that Congress has provided too little money and the administration can deport fewer than 400,000 immigrants a year out of the total population of more than 11 million.

Ms. Branda said given that, it makes sense for Mr. Obama to set priorities, including proactively telling millions of illegal immigrants that they are in no danger of being kicked out. That policy allows immigration agents to focus on the other illegal immigrants whom the president deems serious cases, or on those crossing the border this year and beyond.

When Obama’s DACA amnesty crap started, there were rallies of illegal aliens in major cities.  Immigration officials could drive there with buses and start loading them up.

When the surge of illegal alien minors happened over this last year – because of Obama’s pro-illegal alien policies – immigration officials were driving buses into major cities and dropping off illegals downtown.  Those same illegals could’ve been handed back to the nation that facilitated their passage, but they weren’t.  They were dropped off with “walking papers” for court dates they would never attend, and told they wouldn’t be deported because “families”.

Branda is a lying shill.  In the years of the Obama administration, we’ve seen ICE agents called terrorists by the president, and ICE agents sue to be able to do their jobs because they’re told to break the law.

Obama’s banking on the idea that no one will ever do away with his illegal dictatorial unilateral executive amnesty.  The idea is that it would be politically horrible to “tear apart immigrant families”… which is sort of like waking up to find a family of criminals tearing open your Christmas presents and then them screaming how horrible it would be if you took your children’s presents that the illegals stole out of their children’s hands, and if you kicked them out of your house since it’s cold outside, or had them all arrested for breaking and entering.

To the mush-brained, it makes you seem heartless, but they’re just criminal invaders, thieves and criminal squatters in your house.

And the worst part is that all they would’ve had to do was ask if they wanted to come in.  America is not uninviting.

So anyway, Merry Christmas.  Despite all the lumps of coal we’ve gotten this year (including a crapton of new regulations for the new year we don’t know about), at least there are a few positives.

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.

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.

Blackwater founder Erik Prince made a statement recently that was roundly critical of Obama administration policies, calling Obama out for having destroyed his company that could otherwise have solved the ISIS “boots on the ground” issue.

“It’s a shame the [Obama] administration crushed my old business, because as a private organization, we could’ve solved the boots-on-the-ground issue, we could have had contracts from people that want to go there as contractors; you don’t have the argument of U.S. active duty going back in there,” Prince said in an on-stage discussion featuring retired four-star Gen. James Conway. “[They could have] gone in there and done it, and be done, and not have a long, protracted political mess that I predict will ensue.”

Pretty much.

The left already thinks of US troops as mercenaries (Washington Post writer Bill “American troops are baby-killing mercenary scum who need to shut up and do what I tell them” Arkin is infamous for it) and uses it as an epithet.  And they generally tend to hold Tim Robbin’s opinion on business (that aren’t their own) as well:

The solution to dealing with ISIS might actually be to just agree with the left and actually let corporations go in with mercenary forces to clean up the mess.

If corporations actually had fought a blood war for oil in Iraq (as per the leftist fantasy), then there would be corporate entities with an interest in the final outcome of the conflict.  If Exxon/Shell/BP/Texaco were all invested in the nation as part of their bottom line, they’d be interested in building the place up.

Historically, US companies have built infrastructure in other nations.  The first example that comes to mind is Creole Petroleum Corporation, which built up Venezuela’s oil business (which Venezuela took over by nationalization in 1976).  MST3K riffed one of their short films back in the mid-late 90s.

I started writing this whole post a few days ago, then life got in the way, and now returning to it, I see it still holds quite true.  The world has started asking questions about this shaky coalition of the unwilling, Iraqi civilians who haven’t fled are left between the Scylla of American airstrikes with no ground support and the Charybdis of ISIS which still controls their lives.

President Obama has declared “war upon war so we can have peace upon peace” which sounds like Woodrow Wilson’s lying promises of noninterventionism coupled with his propaganda that dragged us into WWI now married to Neville Chamberlain’s naivete when it comes to dealing with aggressors.

Ultimately, a mercenary force on the ground would solve the political quandary of putting American forces into active combat (even though we have troops on the ground… and they are wearing boots, no matter how many times the lie of “no boots on the ground” is repeated).  If Iraq as a nation were run by anyone who cared about the nation – whether decent Iraqis or foreign business interests, they’d have hired mercenaries on their own by now.  If Iraq’s war were privatized and subject to market forces, it would be won and stabilized already.

The problems of the Iraq war, both under Bush and Obama, are representative of their respective ideologies.  Bush believed in spreading freedom and democracy to people whose capacity to immediately accept freedom and democracy even the Founders would’ve been skeptical of.  Bush’s domestic policy in the US ignored the US borders and ignored sovereignty for domestic business interests, so thinking of the border as something that should be sealed didn’t really occur to him or those around him – hence the foreign fighters who were swarming across in the 2004-2006 timeframe.  The HET team I got to work with briefly near Fallujah in 2005 explained that the entire problem in Iraq stemmed from foreign terrorists that the locals could clearly identify, but who kept coming in because borders were porous.  But Bush’s failures were contrasted with successes, though – the surges worked.  It was a fix to a problem that could’ve been prevented, but it still was a fix.

Obama’s ideology when it comes to problems is to talk about them just enough to say they aren’t important (or to blame Republican partisanship for them while claiming to be nonpartisan), and then handwaving them away.  His problem-solving methods are limited to rhetoric and using the bully pulpit to be dismissive of all criticism, and enjoying a press that willingly obliges his every whim.  His answer to Iraq is that it’s Bush’s fault because of the status-of-forces agreement of 2008, one which Obama did not seek to change with Iraq because he accepted the will of the Iraqi government as being every bit as important as America’s.  The US isn’t exceptional to him, and all countries are equal.

This led the US-Iraq relationship to become one that may as well have been a Maury Povich show with “out of control” children telling their parents off, and the parents sighing that they just can’t do anything about it.  Iraq needed to be leaned on until they accepted.  Obama was unwilling to lean on Iraq and tell them they had to accept in order to prevent a predictable result like ISIS, because Obama didn’t want to be involved.  He’s the absentee parent who doesn’t want the kid, so he lets the kid run wild – and/or blames the kid’s other parent for the problems while absolving himself of responsiblity and saying he never wanted kids in the first place.  None of that solves the problem and all of it contributes to it.

Nonetheless, he uses the 2008 status of forces agreement as an excuse.  When ISIS threatens everyone in the world, he responds with “I will not be intimidated” and some more words.  Now, pushed hard by his staff, he’s barely on board with half-measures that will accomplish little besides aiding Assad against ISIS and give ISIS a rallying cry for more terrorists to join them.  A declaration of “I will put no American boots on the ground” (technically already a lie, but the intent to avoid conflict is clear) is a declaration that thoroughly emboldens the enemy as much as a retreat date in Afghanistan did there, and that declaration of timidity reminds our other geopolitical foes like Russia that we aren’t going to do anything to save the Ukraine.