A recent solicitation from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) reveals that the agency is seeking a “massive” online database capable of pulling up individuals’ personal information, connections and associates.
On March 28, ATF posted the notice on FedBizOpps.gov, entitled “Investigative System.” The solicitation was updated on April 5 with a few minor changes.
The document says that the system will be utilized by staff “to provide rapid searches on various entities for example; names, telephone numbers, utility data and reverse phone look-ups, as a means to assist with investigations, and background research on people, assets and businesses.”
The system is described as a “massive online data repository system that contains a wide variety of data sources both historically and current that can be utilized in support of investigations and backgrounds.”
[…] The system “provides a means to rapidly check records across the country” and is “necessary in assisting investigators, agents and analyst to find people, their assets, relatives, associates and more.”
The ATF says they will use this system to provide information to Intelligence Analysts, Special Agents, Inspectors, Financial Investigators and Law Enforcement.
New Jersey police and Dept. of Children and Families officials raided the home of a firearms instructor and demanded to see his guns after he posted a Facebook photo of his 11-year-old son holding a rifle.
“Someone called family services about the photo,” said Evan Nappen, an attorney representing Shawn Moore. “It led to an incredible, heavy-handed raid on his house. They wanted to see his gun safe, his guns and search his house. They even threatened to take his kids.”
Moore was not arrested or charged. […]
Moore, of Carneys Point, is a certified firearms instructor for the National Rifle Association, an NRA range safety officer and a New Jersey hunter education instructor.
He recently posted a photograph of his son wearing camouflage and holding his new .22 rifle. The child has a New Jersey hunting license and recently passed the state’s hunter safety course.
“If you look at the picture, his finger isn’t even on the trigger – which is proper,” Nappen told Fox News. “If half of Hollywood could follow that rule we’d be thankful.”
Brown said their role is not to go out and search Facebook for photos of children holding weapons.
“In general our role is to investigate allegations of child abuse and neglect,” she said.
The family’s trouble started Saturday night when Moore received an urgent text message from his wife. The Carneys Point Police Dept. and the New Jersey Dept. of Children and Families had raided their home.
Moore immediately called Nappen and rushed home to find officers demanding to check his guns and his gun safe.
Instead, he handed the cell phone to one of the officers – so they could speak with Nappen.
“If you have a warrant, you’re coming in,” Nappen told the officers. “If you don’t, then you’re not. That’s what privacy is all about.”
With his attorney on speaker phone, Moore instructed the officers to leave his home.
“I was told I was being unreasonable and that I was acting suspicious because I wouldn’t open my safe,” Moore wrote on the Delaware Open Carry website. “They told me they were going to get a search warrant. I told them to go ahead.”
Moore took this photo of police outside his home.
Nappen told Fox News the police wanted to inventory his firearms.
“”We said no way, it’s not happening,” he said. “This is a guy who is completely credentialed and his son is also credentialed.”
The attorney said police eventually left and never returned.
[…] “To make someone go through this because he posted a picture of his son with a .22 rifle on his Facebook page is pretty outrageous,” he said. “Does that mean that anyone who posts a picture like that has to consent to a home inspection and a gun inspection? I don’t think so.”
The Obama administration is drawing up plans to give all U.S. spy agencies full access to a massive database that contains financial data on American citizens and others who bank in the country, according to a Treasury Department document seen by Reuters.
The proposed plan represents a major step by U.S. intelligence agencies to spot and track down terrorist networks and crime syndicates by bringing together financial databanks, criminal records and military intelligence. The plan, which legal experts say is permissible under U.S. law, is nonetheless likely to trigger intense criticism from privacy advocates.
I’ll admit it from the get-go: I don’t like confrontation. If a police officer randomly stopped me on the street and asked for my I.D. or asked me questions, I’d most likely comply because frankly, it’s just easier. I would assume that I must match the description of someone they’re looking for, and the sooner I clear up any suspicion they may have, the sooner I can get on with my day.
But unfortunately, that kind of mindless compliance with unconstitutional abuses of police power has led many Americans to assume that law enforcement officers can demand anything they like from you – regardless of probably cause – and you must submit to unlawful questioning, detention, or searches.
The young man in this video was stopped for openly carrying a gun in a holster, which is legal in the state of Oregon. He insists that the officer follow the law and provide legal justification for stopping him (which the officer does not have):
Some may see this as unreasonably antagonistic. Why not just comply and be done with it? How hard can that be? The truth is, it WOULD be easier to comply. But it would also lead law enforcement officers to forget the laws they are sworn to uphold, and to violate the law with impunity.
I used to live near border patrol checkpoints and drove through them frequently. They’d ask me if I was a US citizen, I’d reply “yes,” and they’d wave me through (they’re listening for your accent and tone of voice, or behavioral cues). It never occurred to me that these checkpoints were unconstitutional.
But the reality is, they are. Border Patrol has no constitutional authority to stop citizens from driving down the road and question them without reasonable suspicion or probably cause. To do so is to violate the 4th Amendment. Yet most of us comply without thinking twice. These Libertarian citizen journalists decided to exercise their constitutional rights on video:
In a national climate where simply speaking out for lower spending, constitutional rights and the 2nd Amendment can get you demonized as an “extremist,” it’s important that we know our rights, and how to exercise them respectfully. Lawful resistance to unconstitutional abuses of power is an effective way to tell our politicians and bureaucrats they have gone too far. They work for us, not the other way around. Their job is to protect our unalienable rights, not take them away.
In the address itself, President Obama made the case that liberty is not timeless; that it must adjust to the times, and that “preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action”–not to defend those freedoms from infringement, but to give them “meaning” through government regulation and redistribution.
“There’s a moment of opportunity now that’s important,” Pfeiffer said. “What’s frustrating is that we don’t have a political system or an opposition party worthy of the opportunity.”
Note the contempt in Pfeiffer’s words–not just for the political opposition, but for the political system itself–a system designed by the Framers to include checks and balances to hold government power firmly in check.
[…] A year ago, President Obama observed: “[I]t turns out our Founders designed a system that makes it more difficult to bring about change that I would like sometimes.” Back then, facing re-election, he promised to be patient. Today, he is impatient–with the opposition, and the system itself. He will destroy both, if necessary, to achieve his vision of America–one where “government alone” does not do everything, but rather dictates to individuals what they should do, and choose, and want, to serve its sweeping designs.
Throughout most of human history, transfers of power involved the coronation of a king or emperor, who’s only claim to power was either his birth or the conquest of his rival, whose reign was for life, and whose subjects were at his complete mercy.
Two centuries ago, our founders gave us a radically different system, where leaders were chosen from among the people to be public servants who were held accountable by the people, where no man (regardless of position) was above the law, where power was limited to prevent its abuse, where God alone was our King, and where government was prevented from taking that dictatorial role in people’s lives.
It is an awesome privilege to be the beneficiary of such a gift, and yet it carries a heavy responsibility of civic duty to hold our government and public servants accountable when they overstep their legitimate, constitutional authority.
Today was a day of inauguration, not coronation. We respect the results of the election, but we also remember that the constitutional limits of government power and the rule of law that protects our liberties are NEVER up for a vote.
Today, it was not just a president who is being inaugurated, but also We The People, who must shoulder our responsibility to uphold and defend the constitution against all threats, foreign and domestic. May we take that solemn charge faithfully and honorably, as our founders did.
Sounding the same themes of class warfare that propelled his re-election campaign, President Barack Obama devoted his second inaugural address to laying out his second term agenda: a struggle to undo the seeming injustices of America’s past, and to overcome the army of straw men that stand in opposition to progress.
In the process, President Obama attempted nothing less than an assault on the timeless notion of liberty itself:
Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone.
But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.
After praising the “collective” and mocking the notion that America is a “nation of takers,” President Obama targeted the political opposition. He targeted those who “deny” climate change, attacked those who allegedly refused to reward the elderly for their contributions, and defied critics whom he said wanted “perpetual war.” He attacked the rich–as he has done so often over the past four years–and painted a caricature of an unjust nation: “…our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it….We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few.”
President Obama’s address failed to deliver on promises earlier in the day by senior political adviser David Axelrod that the speech would sound themes of national unity on a day of national “consecration.” Instead, the president sounded combative themes familiar from his divisive first term, albeit wrapped occasionally in the lofty rhetoric of “hope” and “tolerance,” and punctuated by the repeated refrain: “We, the People.”
[…] Throughout his address, the President maintained his voice in a near-shout. This was not an historic address, a reflection on a moment in history; it was an exhortation to political action, in contrast to the political reality of a divided Washington, in defiance of the profound economic challenges still facing the American people.
It was a declaration of political war on individual liberty. It was a wasted opportunity–and a warning.
Obama spelled out his true agenda: destroying founding principles about limited government to meet changing times. While paying lip service to “our skepticism of central authority,” Obama said that times have changed, and “so must we”: “fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges … preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.” This was the sheerest form of rhetoric sophistry; equating freedom with government control is an perverse reversal of language. Of course, the Constitution was written based on the notion that human nature does not change – people are not angels, nor devils, but self-interested creatures capable of greatness or evil, who must be checked against each other. But Obama doesn’t believe that. He believes that man can be made anew.
But only by government. And so Obama demonized limited government as anarchism, suggesting that meeting “the demands of today’s world by acting alone” is like forcing American soldiers to meet “the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias” – a straw man argument so blatant it appeared Obama would wheel out Ray Bolger to present it. In pursuing his agenda, Obama made clear that he will ignore basic realities – “we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.” He made clear that he will create false histories – “we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn.” He made clear that he will redefine taking and giving – those who wish to save their money for their families and children are “takers,” and those who wish to confiscate the wealth of others “strengthen us.”
In the end, Obama’s argument was a collectivist one. And it was an argument designed to irreparably tear this nation apart. Obama himself said it: “Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way …”
But this renders the Declaration of Independence Obama cited completely meaningless. The founders may have disagreed on many things, but they agreed on the meaning of liberty: the right to live as an individual, without centralized planning infringing basic property rights, economic opportunities, and religious freedoms. Obama’s fundamental redefinition of liberty to include communitarianism is not merely wrong, it spells the end of the political commonality that has held the fabric of the nation together. If we define liberty differently, then there is nothing to talk about: my liberty is your tyranny, and vice versa. Our goals can never be shared. That gap can never be bridged.
In a secret government agreement granted without approval or debate from lawmakers, the U.S. attorney general recently gave the National Counterterrorism Center sweeping new powers to store dossiers on U.S. citizens, even if they are not suspected of a crime, according to a news report.
Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder granted the center the ability to copy entire government databases holding information on flight records, casino-employee lists, the names of Americans hosting foreign-exchange students and other data, and to store it for up to five years, even without suspicion that someone in the database has committed a crime, according to the Wall Street Journal, which broke the story.
Whereas previously the law prohibited the center from storing data compilations on U.S. citizens unless they were suspected of terrorist activity or were relevant to an ongoing terrorism investigation, the new powers give the center the ability to not only collect and store vast databases of information but also to trawl through and analyze it for suspicious patterns of behavior in order to uncover activity that could launch an investigation.
The changes granted by Holder would also allow databases containing information about U.S. citizens to be shared with foreign governments for their own analysis.
A former senior White House official told the Journal that the new changes were “breathtaking in scope.”
I’m nostalgic for the halcyon days of, er, February of this year, before the Attorney General of the United States signed off on an order allowing the government to access pretty much everything it wanted in the name of counterterrorism. […]
The good news: Saudi Arabia might now have all of our firearm registration data. What could go wrong?
Say, remember when Congress used to be involved in writing laws and making policy in the US? Good times, good times. Perhaps Congress might want to investigate what the Department of Justice and the National Counterterrorism Center has been doing with the 4th Amendment. Eric Holder should be subpoenaed and forced to testify under oath about his order, and find out whether Congress got consulted or bypassed entirely on this decision.
It’s interesting how all this came out after the election, huh? Maybe the name “Julia” for one of Barack Obama’s campaign themes was well chosen.
The U.N. plans to control the tool that tyrants fear most — technology that promotes free speech and intellectual freedom — by imposing a global tax in the name of fairness. Think of net neutrality on steroids.
Elections have consequences, and one consequence of President Obama’s re-election may be U.S. acquiescence to the administrative control of the Internet to the United Nations and journalist-jailing and Web-censoring regimes from Iran to Venezuela, complete with a global tax on its use.
The U.N.’s International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is holding the World Conference on International Telecommunications in Dubai from Dec. 3 to 14. U.N. member states, largely composed of Third World despots, will be meeting to update the ITU treaty arrangements for international communications.
The ITU last drafted a treaty on communications in 1988, before the dawn of the Internet as we know it, and many of the world’s thugs seek to restrict its freedoms by imposing on it a global tax. The Internet was then primarily a university network, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was a mere 4 years old.
Today, the self-regulating Internet means no one has to ask for permission to launch a website, and no government can tell network operators how to do their jobs. The Internet freely crosses international boundaries, making it difficult for governments to censor or to tax.
Regimes such as Russia and Iran also want an ITU rule letting them monitor Internet traffic routed through or to their countries, allowing them to eavesdrop or block access.
A Senate proposal touted as protecting Americans’ e-mail privacy has been quietly rewritten, giving government agencies more surveillance power than they possess under current law, CNET has learned.
Patrick Leahy, the influential Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has dramatically reshaped his legislation in response to law enforcement concerns, according to three individuals who have been negotiating with Leahy’s staff over the changes. A vote on his bill, which now authorizes warrantless access to Americans’ e-mail, is scheduled for next week.
Leahy’s rewritten bill would allow more than 22 agencies — including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission — to access Americans’ e-mail, Google Docs files, Facebook wall posts, and Twitter direct messages without a search warrant. It also would give the FBI and Homeland Security more authority, in some circumstances, to gain full access to Internet accounts without notifying either the owner or a judge.
Several public school teachers are facing investigations for posting items on social networking sites that opposed President Obama and his agenda. Parents raised concerns regarding the teachers’ posts, prompting the school districts to launch investigations. Similarly, teens who posted anti-Obama messages on social networking sites are being targeted by a website called Jezebel, which not only reveals the identities of the students who made the posts, but reported the students to their schools.
In Rock Hill, South Carolina, a middle-school teacher was placed on leave after posting a message on her personal Facebook page about Obama and food stamps. “Congrats Obama,” she allegedly wrote. “As one of my students sang down the hallway, ‘We get to keep our food stamps’ … which I pay for because they can’t budget their money … and really, neither can you.”
According to a school spokesperson, several parents had called the school complaining about the teacher’s post. The teacher was forced to apologize.
“People outside the school system … saw her posting and some of them said they were offended by it,” spokesperson Elaine Baker said. “She used poor judgment according to our social media policy. Teachers are kept to higher standards.” Baker continued, “Sometimes you just can’t speak out publicly about what you’d personally like to say, about anything.” She told television station WSOC that teachers in general should “watch what they post on Facebook.”
EXCLUSIVE — FACEBOOK ADDING MORE FRIENDS: Continuing to build a high-powered communications team, Facebook has recruited Sarah Feinberg and Tucker Bounds to a growing list of A-list strategists. Sarah Feinberg will join the Facebook policy communications team in Palo Alto, Calif., in August. She will focus on managing communications around privacy, safety, security, and litigation. Sarah joins Facebook from Bloomberg LP, where she was Director of Global Communications and Business Strategy. Previously, she served as Special Assistant to President Obama and Senior Advisor to former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. Earlier, Feinberg was Communications Director for the House Democratic Caucus, Press Secretary for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Press Secretary to former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle. She is a graduate of Washington and Lee University (Playbook’s alma mater), with a degree in politics.
–Tucker “Outward” Bounds, who has been working with Facebook as a consultant in Palo Alto, Calif., has also joined the Facebook policy communications team full-time. He will focus on communications pertaining to state government and community relations. Tucker joins Facebook after serving as Deputy Campaign Manager and Communications Director for former eBay CEO Meg Whitman’s California gubernatorial campaign. Previously, “Downtown” Tucker Bounds was Deputy Communications Director for Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. Before that, he was the RNC’s Western Press Secretary. Earlier, Bounds served as Press Secretary to Sen. Gordon Smith and the Oregon Communications Director for Bush-Cheney ’04. Bounds received his B.A. from the University of Oregon.
Judging based on the company they keep, somehow I get the impression that neither of these people will be interested in LESS government regulation and intervention in social media.
AN unfettered internet, free of political control and available to everyone could be relegated to cyber-history under a contentious proposal by a little known United Nations body.
Experts claim that Australians could see political and religious websites disappear if the Federal Government backs a plan to hand control over the internet to the UN’s International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
A draft of the proposal, formulated in secret and only recently posted on the ITU website for public perusal, reveal that if accepted, the changes would allow government restriction or blocking of information disseminated via the internet and create a global regime of monitoring internet communications – including the demand that those who send and receive information identify themselves.
It would also allow governments to shut down the internet if there is the belief that it may interfere in the internal affairs of other states or that information of a sensitive nature might be shared.
Telecommunications ministers from 193 countries will meet behind closed doors in Dubai next month to discuss the proposal, with Australia’s Senator Stephen Conroy among them.
The move has sparked a ferocious, under-the-radar diplomatic war between a powerful bloc of nations, led by China and Russia, who want to exert greater controls on the net and western democracies determined to preserve the free-wheeling, open architecture of the World Wide Web.
I guess Americans have decided that they haven’t hit rock bottom yet. Obama will lead us down the road to Greece. Our own apathy and disregard for the Biblical principles of liberty, government and economics have led us down this path. Only a revival can save our nation now. Lord, we lay our future in your hands.
Here’s what we need to prepare for:
The mask will now come off. Obama doesn’t have to worry about re-election and will push hard to advance his Marxist agenda with no pretense of being a “moderate.”
A flood of regulations that Obama kept on hold and the media hid until after the election will start going into effect, strangling struggling businesses.
Taxmageddon – a record $494 billion tax hike – will go into effect on January 1st, 2013, plunging us into even deeper recession.
The Left will start going after the internet, citizen journalism, social media and talk radio – any competition to the Left-wing propagandist media.
Israel will be forced to attack Iran to prevent it from going nuclear. Obama will not support them. The Muslim world will not be afraid of action from the United States, and will feel free to join forces to destroy Israel.
These last four years have been exhausting. After this loss, it’s tempting to just put our heads back under the covers and give up.
But we can’t.
We have no choice but to fight back with every resource at our disposal. If we give up, our children and grandchildren will suffer under the tyranny of the USSA, while the rest of the world descends into chaos.
I can’t allow that to happen while there is still breath in my body to fight it.
“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” ~ Thomas Paine
Imagine Tea Party extremists seizing control of a South Carolina town and the Army being sent in to crush the rebellion. This farcical vision is now part of the discussion in professional military circles.
At issue is an article in the respected Small Wars Journal titled “Full Spectrum Operations in the Homeland: A ‘Vision’ of the Future.” It was written by retired Army Col. Kevin Benson of the Army’s University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and Jennifer Weber, a Civil War expert at the University of Kansas. It posits an “extremist militia motivated by the goals of the ‘tea party’ movement” seizing control of Darlington, S.C., in 2016, “occupying City Hall, disbanding the city council and placing the mayor under house arrest.” The rebels set up checkpoints on Interstate 95 and Interstate 20 looking for illegal aliens. It’s a cartoonish and needlessly provocative scenario.
The article is a choppy patchwork of doctrinal jargon and liberal nightmare. The authors make a quasi-legal case for military action and then apply the Army’s Operating Concept 2016-2028 to the situation. They write bloodlessly that “once it is put into play, Americans will expect the military to execute without pause and as professionally as if it were acting overseas.” They claim that “the Army cannot disappoint the American people, especially in such a moment,” not pausing to consider that using such efficient, deadly force against U.S. citizens would create a monumental political backlash and severely erode government legitimacy.
Imagine that the U.S. government had the power to scour the reams of public records and collect and collate every bit of personal information about every citizen of this country. Now imagine that any of the various intelligence and security agencies within the government could combine that data with any other information about a person that has been posted to a social media website or compiled by one of the many data aggregating companies that keep tabs on all of us. Finally, imagine that all this data could be passed among these agencies and that the ability of anyone inside or outside the government to challenge this surveillance was all but eliminated.
Sadly, this is not the description of some fictitious dystopian future; this is the factual description of present-day America and it’s about to get much worse.
In March Attorney General Eric Holder, in cooperation with National Counterterrorism Center head Matthew Olsen and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, significantly accelerated this move toward abolishing privacy by approving a new list of guidelines for how long U.S. government agencies tasked with combating international and domestic “terrorism” may retain the data they collect and store. Basically, this information may be saved even if it contains no connection to criminal activity whatsoever.
According to the new regulations, the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) (headquartered at the Liberty Crossing complex in McLean, Virginia) can store and “continually assess” this information “for a period of up to five years.” Before the promulgation of these new guidelines, the NCTC was under instructions to destroy “promptly” (typically defined to mean within 180 days) this cache of material gathered from U.S. citizens if there was nothing related to terrorism found in it.
Speaking fondly of the new time restraints, Paul Rosenzweig, a former official at the Department of Homeland Security, was quoted in the Washington Post saying:
Five years is a reasonable time frame. I certainly think 180 days was way too short. That’s just not a realistic understanding of how long it takes analysts to search large data sets for relevant information.
As expected, such an extraordinary expansion of the power of the federal government over private information and communications of citizens not suspected of committing a crime has riled up the segment of our Republic concerned with the rapid repeal of our civil liberties.
Imagine having a friend on Facebook who matches up your privately shared data to a public voting record — then flags you for more frequent campaign calls and contacts.
That’s exactly what the Democratic party is doing. The upcoming presidential campaigns are eager to get their hands on the treasure trove of voter data that 900 million users have voluntarily posted on Facebook. Enter Social Organizing, a new tool developed by Democratic activist group NGP VAN. Using it, your friends can log in to Facebook and tell the service about you. You can then be added to a caller database, pinged for ads and harassed during the entire election.
Many users think the information they post to Facebook cannot legally or ethically leave the site’s confines, noted Roger Kay, a technology analyst with Endpoint Technologies. They may be in for a surprise.
“[Facebook] was born on the idea of taking information about people and making it available to others … With political information, this sharing has become a notch more like selling out your friends,” Kay told FoxNews.com.
To use the tool, supporters log in at a campaign site. Social Organizing lets them connect to Facebook and locates friends. The supporter can then choose the relationship for those friends, such as co-worker or business partner.
Supporters earn badges and points as they flag these friends. The data is then matched to voter records.
For example, a supporter might have 500 friends, but the tool might know that 300 of those friends are already identified as donors or loyal to the campaign, based on voting record. The supporter can then focus attention on calling or e-mailing only the 200 friends who still need persuasion.
President Obama tapped this company, which describes itself as “the leading technology provider to Democratic and progressive campaigns and organizations” and only works with the Democratic Party, to gather voter data in 2008.