FBI Entrapment?

I have my misgivings about Glen Greenwald. Sometimes he seems more like an activist than a reporter. However, this seems to fall within the bounds of investigative journalism.

Latest FBI Claim of Disrupted Terror Plot Deserves Much Scrutiny and Skepticism

This is not the first time I have heard of the FBI using these tactics. I am a huge fan of hunting down terrorists down. I believe we should put mad dogs down, but does poking a dog with a stick until he bares his teeth and then shooting him count as protecting us?

If the article is accurate then this practice needs to be stopped not just for reasons of justice and liberty but because it will piss off the people who will be the most likely to know of a threat. If they don’t trust the authorities they wont talk to them. This is not a new thought. It is a fundamental principle of law enforcement.

Blaming Snowden

James Clapper is claiming that terrorists are studying Snowden’s NSA leaks and becoming more proficient and difficult to monitor but David Kravets in Wired writes:

“Clapper is not the most credible source on Snowden and the NSA leaks. Snowden’s very first leak last June had the side-effect of revealing that Clapper had mislead the public and Congress about NSA spying.”

I agree that Clapper is less than credible, but even if in this case he is accurate I would point out that Clapper is (perhaps willingly?) missing the point in his claims. Yes, terrorists may indeed be learning from the leaks but to hold Snowden alone responsible for all this presumes that there were no precipitating events leading to the leaks. The intelligence system is malfunctioning. Just look at the terrorist watchlist:

The above information was obtained by The Intercept. The graphic above supports the assertion in the article made by David Gomez, a former senior FBI special agent, that the system is “revving out of control.”

Snowden’s decision to disclose his information did not form in a vacuum. Rather than trying to find the terrorists to monitor, we are monitoring everyone to see if they are a terrorist. This is a symptom of our malfunctioning intelligence apparatus. Clapper wants to blame Snowden for the leaks but if the apparatus was functioning correctly we would not see these kinds of leaks and so, neither would the terrorists.

Secret Trade Deals

In an article from The Nation

Elizabeth Warren said:

“I actually have had supporters of the deal say to me ‘They have to be secret, because if the American people knew what was actually in them, they would be opposed.’”

I think we call that a clue.

Feinstein – Flapping Her Gums Again

“It’s not a surveillance program, it’s a data-collection program,” was her comment on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Uh. That is what surveillance is–data collection.

You observe and record your observations. If you collect who I call and when you are observing me and recording your observations, i.e. surveillance.

When you become an apologist for an unreasonable position, like defending the NSA, that is the kind of stupid crap you end up saying.

Check out her other comments at:

Feinstein blasts critics of NSA phone program

By Kate Tummarello

Iranian Nuclear Deal

A friend sent me a message on Facebook asking what I thought of the “historic” deal that had just been made.

I hadn’t read the deal so I had no real opinion. I just read it and here are my thoughts.

What changed?

I am not anything like an SME on nuclear energy or weapons but you can infer quite a bit from the context of the deal. I don’t see Iran agreeing to anything that a country peacefully pursuing nuclear energy wouldn’t have agreed to a long time ago. Setting aside issues of national sovereignty (I know that is a lot to set aside) we all know nuclear technology is a big deal and there will be international meddling. I never found the claim of peaceful energy persuasive. Iran is one of the world’s leading energy exporters. Where is this great need for energy that only reactors will fill?

Something changed and I want to know what it is. I suspect they found that nuclear weapons were harder to make than they figured, had a large high-level internal shift on the policy of nuclear weapons, or they have a secret facility where they plan to continue with their nuclear ambitions. While the last one is not impossible I don’t see it as very likely since I am given to understand that the sanctions really have made life difficult and resources scarce. I’d bet on one of the first two.

A concern I have is what a more powerful and prosperous Iran will mean to the global balance of power. I am no Bismark, and I sorely wish we had someone like him alive today, but I have misgivings about a nation whose supreme ruler, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Israeli officials “cannot be even called humans.” (Ref CNN Link here) growing in power and influence and this deal seems to be heading squarely in that direction.

That said, from my perspective I don’t see anything all that wrong with the deal. I just don’t have much confidence in the people who would be enforcing it. Too, it is early days. We’ve seen many deals struck and then not honored.

A possible benefit of Iran growing in prosperity is that it may enable the people to moderate the insanity coming from its government. Iran stating that they want the destruction of Israel is a problem. While I own a personal bias in favor of Israel, it is not the Israel part that is the problem. What other nations are calling for the detruction of other nations? We don’t even see that with China and Japan, and they have bad blood that can go toe to toe with most anyone else.

For the full text of the agreement follow the link below. It is not exactly short but it didn’t take me long to read it and it’s much better than trying to divine its contents from what everyone else says is in it.

The Iran nuclear deal: full text

Chief of Interpol Considers Armed Citizens After Nairobi Attack

Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble. That’s right.

ABC News reports:

“Societies have to think about how they’re going to approach the problem,” Noble said. “One is to say we want an armed citizenry; you can see the reason for that. Another is to say the enclaves are so secure that in order to get into the soft target you’re going to have to pass through extraordinary security.”

“Ask yourself: If that was Denver, Col., if that was Texas, would those guys have been able to spend hours, days, shooting people randomly?”

“What I’m saying is it makes police around the world question their views on gun control. It makes citizens question their views on gun control. You have to ask yourself, ‘Is an armed citizenry more necessary now than it was in the past with an evolving threat of terrorism?’ This is something that has to be discussed.”

Link to article.

I think he has identified the issue. What do you think?

On Liberty and Compassion – 1

What follows are my comments in a discussion elsewhere. Instead of being bound by the confines of that specific discussion I wanted the freedom to explore the question on my own. And this is an exploration. I am not wondering about these things, I really think them, but I am not settled immovably and welcome an honest discussion.

The discussion was started by the following quote and graphic:

Penn Gillete

The core of the quote at the top is using the state’s monopoly on violence to coerce people into funding actions that some people deem compassionate. There are two issues there. First, there is the coercive, involuntary collection of taxes. The second, is the “compassionate” actions. Taking them in order, there is no way around the fact that taxes are extortion. The state threatens force if you do not pay. They justify the demand saying it’s for important things like the military and police which protect you. If you don’t pay they come and wreck your stuff. It sounds like a classic collection racket. No, it is extortion and that’s the end of it.

I often get folks who become upset with this and say that the police and roads are in fact necessary. Be that as it may, it has no bearing on the fact that taxes are extortion. However, it does logically lead to the question, “If taxes are extortion, are they necessary?” Previously in this thread libertarians (or perhaps Libertarians, I’m not inclined to look) were characterized as idealists akin to true communists. This is not an accurate characterization. The true idealists are the Anarchists.

To be continued.

“We Cannot Defend Freedom Abroad. . .”

“We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.”

Sage words from Edward R Murrow.

We look back and think, “Those silly so and sos. That McCarthy was messed up and a bad egg.” The scary thing about McCarthy was that he had authority. That is scary because authority is given to you, unlike power. The people gave him that authority. “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves.”

Our actions as a nation have given considerable comfort to our enemies. It is not Obama’s fault. To paraphrase a good friend of mine, Obama did not spring fully formed from the head of the Democrat party. He only does, the Reublicrats only do, what we let them.

We let them because we are afraid. In response to those who are afraid I reiterate the following:

We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep into our own history and our doctrine and remember that we are not descended from fearful men

And we should remember how much Murrow was putting it out there and laying it on the line by broadcasting this.