Clinton and Obama are lying about Snowden

An explosive exposé shows that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden repeatedly tried to raise concerns about illegal mass surveillance, but was ignored.

Hundreds of internal NSA documents declassified and released by journalists prove that claims made by senior officials in the Obama administration and prominent politicians like Hillary Clinton, who accused Snowden of failing to use available whisteblower protections, are false…

U.S. government officials have previously claimed that Snowden did not raise concerns about illegal mass surveillance before leaking classified documents to reporters. The NSA originally insisted that Snowden had simply sent a single email raising concern of potential overreach.

Internal documents, on the other hand, VICE News writes, reveal “that not only was the truth about the ‘single email’ more complex and nuanced than the NSA disclosed to the public, but that Snowden had a face-to-face interaction with one of the people involved in responding to that email.”

The exposé also reveals that the NSA admitted to altering emails related to its discussions about Snowden…

In her response, Clinton echoed a debunked story that claimed that Russia and China got access to Snowden’s classified documents. The shoddy report originated in a right-wing British newspaper that referred to Snowden as a pilfering “fugitive” and cited no evidence, only unverifiable claims by anonymous British officials.

To date, there is no evidence Snowden’s leaks jeopardized U.S. security in any tangible way. The Obama administration has frequently claimed this, but thoroughly redacted its official reports on how this is supposedly true to such a point that no one can actually read its justification…

In his testimony to the European Parliament in March 2014, VICE noted, Snowden was asked whether he “exhausted all avenues before taking the decision to go public.”

“Yes,” he replied. “I had reported these clearly problematic programs to more than 10 distinct officials, none of whom took any action to address them\.”

“As an employee of a private company rather than a direct employee of the U.S. government,” continued Snowden, who had been an NSA contractor with the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, “I was not protected by U.S. whistleblower laws, and I would not have been protected from retaliation and legal sanction for revealing classified information about law breaking in accordance with the recommended process.”

The hundreds of pages of internal documents from the U.S. government that are now available, VICE News emphasizes, show that Snowden “had repeatedly attempted to raise his concerns inside the NSA about its surveillance of U.S. citizens — and the agency had done nothing.”

My cynicism about government led by either of the two old parties continues unabated. Defense of constitutional freedoms is not a standard honored by either party. There may be differences in corruption. Most of the time that feels like inquiries about being “a little bit pregnant” from an anti-abortion fanatic.

The only part I find confounding is that – in practice – Democrats really have nothing to lose by standing up and supporting whistleblowers, freedom fighters in a long American tradition. Their backwards practices in foreign policy are generally forgiven by a perpetually ignorant electorate. And the average voter still thinks the Dem Establishment is out there standing up for the little guy. They really should try living up to a reputation leftover from the days of FDR and the New Deal.

Few workers receive federal aid after their jobs are offshored

The Arkwright Advanced Coating plant in Fiskeville, R.I., let go 32 people in February 2015 after its Italian owner, Diatec, moved some operations to factories in Europe. When managers broke the news, there was a silver lining. After discovering a federal program called Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) online, the local union president applied to the U.S. Department of Labor. The plant opened up its books, and the government certified the job cuts as trade-related, which meant workers could apply for TAA relief.

That was good news for Kevin Tetreault, 41, who worked on the plant’s coating machines, big as basketball courts. He’s getting government grants to pay for an associate’s degree. When he’s finished, he’ll be certified to install and repair heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems…Tetreault was luckier than most workers in his position. TAA is a small program…

In 2014, according to the Labor Department, 20.4 million American workers lost their jobs. Of those, 63,000 were eligible for TAA, which offers either retraining grants or small wage subsidies to make up the difference for those who take lower-paying work after their jobs vanish overseas. When TAA was last reauthorized, in June 2015, Congress approved a budget of just $450 million annually until 2021.

Politicians often say the U.S. should retrain manufacturing workers who lose their jobs to foreign competitors. But TAA is all that Washington’s offered. As the volume of trade has grown, especially with China, the program’s shortcomings have become clear. It’s “vastly inadequate and improperly designed,” says Matthew Slaughter, a trade economist…

Introduced in 1962…TAA was reduced dramatically under President Ronald Reagan. Until the 1990s, not much assistance was necessary. The U.S. was trading with other developed countries, where wages and labor regulations were roughly equivalent and job losses because of trade were actually less than economic models had predicted. Politicians in both parties were eager to pass trade deals…

That changed with the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993, under President Bill Clinton. NAFTA “was the first trade agreement we signed with a low-wage country,” says Robert Lawrence…

Economists have only recently begun to understand how trade with low-wage countries affects workers in wealthy ones […hogwash]. In a 2013 paper for the American Economic Review, economists…found that in regions most affected by trade, the majority of federal assistance comes from increased Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security disability payments. Transfers from TAA, they wrote, are “negligible.”

Kara Reynolds and John Palatucci of American University looked at data from the Labor Department in 2008; they found evidence that TAA helped workers find jobs after training, but the new jobs paid less. When industries move overseas, Reynolds says, “pockets of workers in the same geographic region” tend to be put out of work. As a result, the effects of trade-related job losses ripple through local economies — a problem TAA isn’t designed to fix.

TAA also does nothing for workers whose jobs evaporate for reasons other than trade. Until the late 1990s, one of the best-selling products at the plant where Tetreault worked was clear acetate pages for overhead projectors. Those have become obsolete. So while foreign competition played a role — Diatec sent Tetreault’s work to its plants in Germany and Switzerland — the brutal forward march of technology did, too…

Presidential candidates have talked about trade…Congress hasn’t indicated any plan to consider changing or expanding TAA…Addressing the effects of trade requires experimentation with various approaches at the state level, compromise at the national level, and plenty of time, Slaughter says. Instead, politicians are offering up the specter of increased barriers and trade wars…

All of which is a lot easier for Congressional conservatives and liberals alike to justify to folks back home. Even if workers can’t get good jobs at decent pay no one’s taxes go up. Washington politicians don’t have to make decisions. Know-nothing still trumps do-something-useful.

30 years of US military attacks on other nations

A look at major U.S. military strikes as ordered by the last five U.S. presidents and the degree of international support behind the actions.

There are pages of our peace-loving nation, politicians and pundits rubber-stamping more imperial wars per year than Caesar ever dreamt of. I’ll limit this post to the list. Click through at the link for more detail.

RONALD REAGAN

—Beirut (1982-83): U.S. troops deployed to Lebanon as part of a three-nation peacekeeping force. Reagan ordered limited airstrikes, with France…

—Grenada (1983): Invasion by an estimated 7,000 U.S. troops and 300 OAS troops…

—Libya (1986): Airstrikes to punish leader Moammar Gadhafi’s regime for a Berlin disco explosion…

GEORGE H.W. BUSH

—Panama (1989): Invasion by more than 26,000 troops…

—Iraq (1991): Invasion of Iraq with troops from 33 other countries…

—Somalia (1992): Deployed troops for peacekeeping and humanitarian aid…

BILL CLINTON

—Iraq (1993): Launched cruise missiles into Baghdad…

—Somalia (1993): Increased troop deployment…

—Haiti (1994) Deployed troops for peacekeeping and nation-building…

—Bosnia (1994-96): Launched airstrikes with NATO allies over 18 months…

—Iraq (1996): Launched cruise missiles at targets in southern Iraq…

—Sudan, Afghanistan (1998): Launched cruise missiles at terrorist training camps in Sudan and Afghanistan…

—Iraq (1998): Launched cruise missiles and airstrikes on a number of Baghdad targets…

—Kosovo: (1999): Launched airstrikes and cruise missiles over more than three months…

GEORGE W. BUSH

—Afghanistan (2001): Invaded as part of NATO mission…

—Iraq (2003): Invaded with ‘‘coalition of the willing’’…

BARACK OBAMA

—Libya (2011): Launched cruise missiles and commanded initial international military operation…

—Osama bin Laden (2011): While not an attack on a foreign nation, the raid that killed the al-Qaida leader is considered one of the Obama administration’s top military and intelligence successes…

ALSO NOTED:

Hundreds of deadly drone strikes have been carried out on al-Qaida targets during the Obama and the George W. Bush presidencies. The vast majority of them have been in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen…

Imagine how many people we might kill if we weren’t a peace-loving nation.

Somber ceremony as slain Americans return home

Four flag-draped coffins bearing the bodies of the Americans killed in Libya arrived in the United States on Friday for their final journey home as President Obama said the victims “laid down their lives for us all” and vowed to honor their memory by never retreating from the world.

In a solemn ceremony at Joint Base Andrews outside the capital, Mr. Obama and his national security team stood at attention as the coffins were first carried by Marine honor guards off a military plane that had flown them home from Libya and were later lifted into four hearses while a military band played “America the Beautiful.”

The arrival, broadcast live on news channels, proved an emotional culmination to an episode that has rocked Washington and American embassies around the world. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton looked stricken and seemed to be fighting to control her emotions as she and the president addressed an audience of family, friends and colleagues inside a hangar at the air base. Mr. Obama, himself somber, put his arm around her shoulders in comfort.

Four Americans, four patriots — they loved this country and they chose to serve it and served it well,” the president said. “They had a mission, and they believed in it. They knew the danger, and they accepted it. They didn’t simply embrace the American ideal; they lived it, they embodied it.”

Also on hand for a ceremony the likes of which has been a painful ritual for Americans over the years were Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, Ambassador Susan E. Rice and former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.

When the official video is available, I’ll post a link to it. The whole ceremony was pretty moving.

Yeah – Colin Powell was the only Republican officially attending.

Countrywide – a cautionary tale with a happy ending

What does it take to hold your powerful bosses accountable if they try to bully you out the door?

Documents, e-mails, a former deputy district attorney as your lawyer — and a never-say-die approach.

Such was the lesson learned by Michael G. Winston, a former executive at the Countrywide Financial Corporation. Mr. Winston spent three years in a legal battle against Countrywide, the once-mighty mortgage giant, and its current owner, Bank of America, contending that he was punished and pushed out for not toeing the company line. On Feb. 4, he won: a jury in California awarded him $3.8 million in damages…

Mr. Winston’s story provides a glimpse into how business was done at Countrywide at the height of the subprime craziness — and how assiduously Angelo R. Mozilo, the company’s fallen leader, worked to quash dissent in the ranks. Mr. Winston had the audacity to question Countrywide practices. Mr. Mozilo was not pleased and, before long, Mr. Winston was marginalized and later dismissed.

Mr. Winston, a prominent executive in the field of organization management, is a rarity among corporate whistle-blowers. Most of them get run over by their former companies. A fascinating detail in his case: after providing to the opposition his list of witnesses, which included former colleagues who had also been let go by Bank of America, the bank hired several of them back. Then they testified against him.

Continue reading

Let’s leave mutual defense treaties in the past

French President Nicolas Sarkozy believes the idea of Russia and Europe building up defenses against one another is something that should remain in the past.

The announcement came during Sarkozy’s speech at the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg on Saturday.

“The idea that Russia should protect itself from Europe and that Europe should protect itself from Russia is a thing from the far past,” Sarkozy said, adding: “We must believe that we are fighting against one and the same threats.”

He said that terrorism and mafia are identical threats and that Russia and Europe must jointly fight against them.

Russian President Medvedev announced his initiative to draw up a new pan-European security pact in May 2008, and the first real draft was presented by the Kremlin in November 2009. It got responses from more than 20 governments and their administrations. The European Union and NATO have also studied the draft.

However, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said such a treaty was unnecessary.

Her position was echoed by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen who has stated repeatedly that the West is no threat to Russia and that extra security guarantees are uncalled for.

Unless, John McCain had won the 2008 election and appointed George W. Bush secretary of state and Dick Cheney secretary of war. All bets would have been off.

Huge loss of Clinton data from National Archives – UPDATED

Federal authorities are investigating the loss of a computer hard drive containing a huge quantity of personal information from Bill Clinton’s presidency in an apparent security breach at a National Archives record center.

Government officials briefed on the matter said the breach, which was confirmed in April, involved the loss of a drive containing a terabyte of computerized data, which could include millions of individual pieces of information, including personal information about one of then Vice President Al Gore’s three daughters.

The missing information included Social Security numbers and home addresses of numerous people who visited or worked at the White House, along with other material related to security procedures used by the Secret Service at the White House in the Clinton years.

The National Archives and Records Administration said Tuesday in a statement that the agency “takes very seriously the loss of an external hard drive that contained copies of electronic storage tapes from the executive office of the president of the Clinton administration…”

Other officials said it was not known whether the hard drive had been stolen or accidentally misplaced. They added that it did not appear that classified information related to national security was taken but that analysts had not yet completed their review of the vast quantity of information stored on the drive…

It was not clear how anyone could have removed presidential computer records from the highly secured archive in suburban Maryland, although officials said the hard drive was removed from a storage area to a work space that was accessible to many archive employees and visitors.

There is no patch for stupidity. Mayhap I’m too brusque; but, someone in that neck of the prairie gets paid big bucks to guarantee crap like this doesn’t happen.

This doesn’t sound anymore difficult than shoplifting.

UPDATE: Hey – they’ve added a $50,000 reward!