Seven House Republicans are calling for the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lied to Congress.
In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday, GOP Reps. Darrell Issa (Calif.), James Sensenbrenner Jr. (Wis.), Trent Franks (Ariz.), Blake Farenthold (Texas), Trey Gowdy (S.C.), Raúl Labrador (Idaho) and Ted Poe (Texas) said Clapper's "willful lie under oath" fuels distrust in the government and undermines the ability of Congress to do its job.
"There are differences of opinion about the propriety of the NSA’s data collection programs," they wrote. "There can be no disagreement, however, on the basic premise that congressional witnesses must answer truthfully.”...
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
...The announcement of the Saab victory took analysts by surprise. Even though Brazil’s current fleet of Mirage fighters is so old that they are being grounded, they had expected the tender to be delayed another two years because of Brazil’s economic slowdown.
Saab’s Gripen is widely seen as a cheaper alternative to most of its competitors and does not come with the military and political might of jet fighters from countries such as the US, France and the UK. In Brazil both those elements may well have proven decisive.
Former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is said to have preferred Rafale while Ms Rousseff was thought to have been in favour of Boeing’s offering. But aside from the tensions over spying, Saab’s offers of higher levels of technology transfer are thought to have persuaded Ms Rousseff.
The Brazilian government said the $4.5bn contract, known as the FX-2 Programme, was for 36 jets and would be paid over 10 years....
-bth: the negative impact of Snowden and the NSA with our frenemies remains troublesome. Also note the significance of tech transfer in the decision process.
PRINCETON, NJ -- Seventy-two percent of Americans say big government is a greater threat to the U.S. in the future than is big business or big labor, a record high in the nearly 50-year history of this question. The prior high for big government was 65% in 1999 and 2000. Big government has always topped big business and big labor, including in the initial asking in 1965, but just 35% named it at that time.
It's not just obamacare that people are afraid of, its the 2nd amendment, its the NSA and a general sense that Washington no longer works for the little guy.
Patton's retirement comes at the end of a tough year for the Pentagon with sexual assaults. - USA Today
WASHINGTON — The director of the Pentagon's sexual-assault prevention efforts is retiring, after a year in which estimates of sexual misconduct spiked and he was implicated in an effort to cover up abuse at a hospital in Afghanistan.
Army Maj. Gen. Gary Patton has led the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. His office was responsible for the study this spring that estimated there were 26,000 instances of unwanted sexual contact in the military in 2012, an increase of more than a third compared with 2010.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon's inspector general announced this fall that it had determined Patton and his boss, Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, had improperly tried to hinder the staff at their training command in Afghanistan in 2011 from talking to investigators about poor conditions at a hospital there....
-bth: continue cleaning house.
Senator Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) has asked twenty automobile manufacturers to submit details of their plans to prevent vehicles from wireless hacking attempts, as well as plans to prevent violations of driver privacy. Markey wants automobile manufacturers to apply computer-industry security processes and technology — including anti-virus software, incident logging, incident-response planning, software vulnerability patching, and third-party penetrating testing — to mass produced vehicles.
Senator Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) has asked twenty automobile manufacturers to submit details of their plans to prevent vehicles from wireless hacking attempts, as well as plans to prevent violations of driver privacy.
“I write to request information regarding your company’s protections against the threat of cyberattacks or unwarranted invasions of privacy related to the integration of wireless, navigation and other technologies into and with automobiles,” Markey wrote in a letter to Daniel Akerson, the CEO of General Motors....
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
...What has already gained attention -- quite properly -- is the judge’s refusal to follow Smith v. Maryland, a 1979 Supreme Court decision holding that citizens lack a reasonable expectation of privacy as to the list (as against the content) of their phone calls. So settled and accepted is Smith that legal experts routinely assert that “it is well established that individuals do not have an expectation of privacy in the phone numbers they call.”
But Leon isn’t so sure. The majority that decided that case, he writes, could never have imagined "how the citizens of 2013 would interact with their phones.” In particular, “the almost-Orwellian technology that enables the Government to store and analyze the phone metadata of every telephone user in the United States is unlike anything that could have been conceived in 1979.”
Although the rejection of Smith has the blogosphere buzzing, an equally striking feature of Leon’s opinion is buried in the footnotes: his focus on how much the Obama administration has kept from his view. Leon tells us in footnote 56, for example, that the pleadings do not disclose whether the NSA program collects data on text messages. (He estimates that Americans send 6 billion texts a day.) Footnote 57 explains that he cannot tell from the pleadings whether the government collects location information along with numbers called -- a practice that would raise particular privacy problems of its own.
Most important, Leon challenges the contention by the program’s supporters that the data collection has thwarted actual terrorist plots: “Although the Government has publicly asserted that the NSA’s surveillance programs have prevented fifty-four terrorist attacks, no proof of that has been put before me” (that's footnote 65). He quotes Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, as saying, “These weren’t all plots and they weren’t all thwarted” -- and points out that the government could have filed sealed evidence of the program’s success but chose not to do so.
These are serious challenges. The principal political argument in support of the metadata program and its equally controversial cousins is its crucial role in protecting the American people. In a free society, there comes a point at which a government charged with violating the privacy of its citizens can no longer rely on secret evidence and a plea for trust....
-bth: Orwellian hits it on the head
President Barack Obama is ending his fifth year in office with the lowest approval ratings at this point in the presidency since President Richard Nixon, according to a new Washington Post/ABC poll released Tuesday.
Obama's approval rating in the poll stands at 43%. By comparison, President George W. Bush had a 47% approval rating at the end of the fifth year of his presidency. And all other Post-World War II presidents had approval ratings above 50% — with the exception of Nixon, who, amid the Watergate scandal, had a dreadful 29% approval rating....