Feinstein and Rogers, two leading NSA flunkeys
Two US senators on the intelligence committee said on Friday that thousands of annual violations by the National Security Agency on its own restrictions were “the tip of the iceberg.”
“The executive branch has now confirmed that the rules, regulations and court-imposed standards for protecting the privacy of Americans’ have been violated thousands of times each year,” said senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, two leading critics of bulk surveillance, who responded Friday to a Washington Post story based on documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
“We have previously said that the violations of these laws and rules were more serious than had been acknowledged, and we believe Americans should know that this confirmation is just the tip of a larger iceberg…”
“We believe the public deserves to know more about the violations of the secret court orders that have authorized the bulk collection of Americans’ phone and email records under the Patriot Act,” Wyden and Udall said.
“The public should also be told more about why the FISA court has said that the executive branch’s implementation of section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act has circumvented the spirit of the law, particularly since the executive branch has declined to address this concern…”
Nancy Pelosi and Diane Feinstein – leading lights in the Democrat Party – did their best to offer cover-up blather defending the NSA. Mike Rogers, the Republican Congressman who performs the same function for Republican officialdom also wastes time and effort defending our nation’s least favorite snoops. I see no need to quote their crap. Corporate flunkies in news-as-entertainment will take care of that.
I offer praise for those elected officials like Wyden and Udall who have demonstrated courage for quite a while, now – willing to confront the most reactionary forces in Establishment politics. Unlike the pea-brained cowards who mostly infest Congress.
The House of Representatives passed legislation averting income tax increases for most U.S. workers after Republicans abandoned their effort to attach spending cuts that would have been rejected by the Senate.
The 257-167 bipartisan vote breaks a yearlong impasse over how to head off $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts that were set to begin taking effect today. The Senate passed the bill early this morning, 89-8, and it goes to President Barack Obama for his signature…
The measure isn’t the grand bargain on deficit reduction lawmakers wanted when they created the tax-and-spending deadlines over the past three years. While it averts most of the immediate pain, it is only a small step toward controlling the federal deficit — an issue that will return with a February fight over raising the $16.4 trillion debt limit.
The deal was worked out by Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican. Eighty-five Republicans and 172 Democrats voted for the measure while 16 Democrats and 151 Republicans opposed it.
The plan will make the George W. Bush-era income tax cuts permanent for most workers while letting them expire for top earners…
The legislation will continue expanded unemployment benefits and delay automatic spending cuts for two months. It will let a 2 percent payroll tax cut expire.
The Senate vote early today shifted the pressure to House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, who didn’t speak during debate on the bill. In his two years as speaker, Boehner has had to quell rebellions among fellow Republicans backed by the anti-tax Tea Party.
Boehner’s second-in-command, Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, voted against the measure. Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, this year’s Republican vice presidential nominee, voted for it “to protect as many Americans as possible from a tax increase,” he said in a statement.
The budget deal will raise taxes on 77 percent of U.S. households, mostly because of the expiration of the payroll tax cut, said the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center in Washington.
That last one is something most working families will feel. The definitions are fuzzier, they will vary more. They won’t hurt any less for working class families.
The chance for real equity in SSA funding will only come when the cap is removed and folks earning more than $106K keep on paying the tax.
The current Congress has worked just as many days as its legislative predecessors. It just has a lot less to show for it.
According to a CNN analysis of congressional records that looked at bills that became law and the number of days lawmakers worked, members of the House have spent more than 150 days and Senate just over 140 days in session so far, comparable to previous Congresses at this point in the term.
But of the thousands of measures introduced, only 132 passed both. About one-fifth of those measures were to approve official names for post offices.
In the previous Congress, the House worked 286 days and the Senate worked 349 days. That Congress passed 383 bills, according to Library of Congress records. Each Congress spans a two-year cycle.
It wasn’t always this way.
The 111th Congress in 2009 “was exceedingly productive. It was a time of unified government,” said Thomas Mann, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-author of “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks…”
That year, the Democrat-controlled Congress passed the health care reform law. The controversial measure’s passage ushered in a new era of tea party-backed Republican freshman and gave the GOP control of the 112th House in 2010. Those freshmen vowed to repeal the health care reform act and crack down on government waste and abuse.
“The Republican majority in the House, it has been one of the least productive in modern history, not surprisingly,” Mann said…
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, recently called on House Speaker John Boehner to nix additional recesses…”Instead of recessing yet again, the House should remain at work and pass critical legislation that will create jobs for the middle class that will actually be signed into law. Republicans must not run out the clock on the economy,” Pelosi wrote Boehner in a letter.
The House recessed anyway.
One of the least productive Congresses in history, the conservative-controlled knuckledraggers who tried to stop every post-war measure introduced by Harry Truman – resulted in Truman’s re-election. I don’t know if American voters are any smarter or well-informed, nowadays. High-speed communications doesn’t mean much if all you absorb is crap news-as-entertainment – whether on Fox TV or a sleazy news aggregator on the Web.
The Party of NO accomplishments has brought public opinion of Congress down to an all-time low — with their own public rating in single digits. The cowardice and incompetence of Democrats may not inspire voters to do anything more than replace them, too. With our immaculate two-party chain gang system, that means replacing a know-nothing with another do-nothing.
I trust Cylon Centurions more than these greed-powered politicians
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission
One of the leading House Democrats on intelligence matters was overheard on telephone calls intercepted by the National Security Agency agreeing to seek lenient treatment from the Bush administration for two pro-Israel lobbyists who were under investigation for espionage, current and former government officials say.
The lawmaker, Representative Jane Harman of California, became the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee after the 2002 election and had ambitions to be its chairwoman when the party gained control of the House in 2006. One official who has seen transcripts of several wiretapped calls said she appeared to agree to intercede in exchange for help in persuading party leaders to give her the powerful post.
It is not clear exactly when the wiretaps occurred; they were first reported by Congressional Quarterly on its Web site.
The official with access to the transcripts said someone seeking help for the employees of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a prominent pro-Israel lobbying group, was recorded asking Ms. Harman, a longtime supporter of its efforts, to intervene with the Justice Department…In return, the caller promised her that a wealthy California donor — the media mogul Haim Saban — would threaten to withhold campaign contributions to Representative Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat who was expected to become House speaker after the 2006 election, if she did not select Ms. Harman for the intelligence post…
Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman were fired from Aipac in March 2005 and indicted a few weeks later. They were charged with violating the World War I-era Espionage Act when they shared with colleagues, journalists and Israeli Embassy officials information about Iran and Iraq they had learned from talking to high-level United States policy makers.
Same old, same old. Israel can do no wrong unless they interfere with lobbyists and military contracts. They get a slap on the wrist and the beat goes on. The only surprise is a politician actually being caught – and revealed.