Napolitano: Internet Monitoring Needed to Fight Homegrown Terrorism

  - Associated Press

 - June 18, 2010

Napolitano: Internet Monitoring Needed to Fight Homegrown Terrorism

Fighting homegrown terrorism by monitoring Internet communications is a civil liberties trade-off the U.S. government must make to beef up national security, the nation’s homeland security chief said Friday. 

WASHINGTON — Fighting homegrown terrorism by monitoring Internet communications is a civil liberties trade-off the U.S. government must make to beef up national security, the nation’s homeland security chief said Friday. 

As terrorists increasingly recruit U.S. citizens, the government needs to constantly balance Americans’ civil rights and privacy with the need to keep people safe, said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. 

But finding that balance has become more complex as homegrown terrorists have used the Internet to reach out to extremists abroad for inspiration and training. Those contacts have spurred a recent rash of U.S.-based terror plots and incidents. 

“The First Amendment protects radical opinions, but we need the legal tools to do things like monitor the recruitment of terrorists via the Internet,” Napolitano told a gathering of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy. 

Napolitano’s comments suggest an effort by the Obama administration to reach out to its more liberal, Democratic constituencies to assuage fears that terrorist worries will lead to the erosion of civil rights. 

The administration has faced a number of civil liberties and privacy challenges in recent months as it has tried to increase airport security by adding full-body scanners, or track suspected terrorists traveling into the United States from other countries. 

“Her speech is sign of the maturing of the administration on this issue,” said Stewart Baker, former undersecretary for policy with the Department of Homeland Security. “They now appreciate the risks and the trade-offs much more clearly than when they first arrived, and to their credit, they’ve adjusted their preconceptions.” 

Underscoring her comments are a number of recent terror attacks over the past year where legal U.S. residents such as Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad and accused Fort Hood, Texas, shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan, are believed to have been inspired by the Internet postings of violent Islamic extremists. 

And the fact that these are U.S. citizens or legal residents raises many legal and constitutional questions. 

Napolitano said it is wrong to believe that if security is embraced, liberty is sacrificed. 

She added, “We can significantly advance security without having a deleterious impact on individual rights in most instances. At the same time, there are situations where trade-offs are inevitable.” 

As an example, she noted the struggle to use full-body scanners at airports caused worries that they would invade people’s privacy. 

The scanners are useful in identifying explosives or other nonmetal weapons that ordinary metal-detectors might miss — such as the explosives that authorities said were successfully brought on board the Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day by Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. He is accused of trying to detonate a bomb hidden in his underwear, but the explosives failed, and only burned Abdulmutallab. 

U.S. officials, said Napolitano, have worked to institute a number of restrictions on the scanners’ use in order to minimize that. The scans cannot be saved or stored on the machines by the operator, and Transportation Security Agency workers can’t have phones or cameras that could capture the scan when near the machine.

Can’t control the criminal? Control the law-abiding

Can’t control the criminal? Control the law-abiding

Isaac Martin

It  was an edge-of-the-radar-screen news story that I happen to notice, surfing the Fox News web site. The story was about the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, which is located west of Douglas, Arizona and its southern boundary is adjacent to the Mexican border.

According to the report, and refuge website, 3500 acres have been posted off limits to visitors, due to the presence of drug and human smuggling. Rather than dealing effectively to secure the border, Federal officials have ceded 3500 acres to drug cartels and smugglers. Granted, that acreage is only three percent of the 118,000 acre park and no doubt a small area which no one will really miss viewing.  

This off-limits must also infer it’s OK for illegal aliens and criminals to tramp through a wildlife refuge, destroying the pristine environment with dead bodies, discarded clothes, empty food packages and bathroom tissue, because the government won’t enforce environmental laws, let alone border security.

However, if a U.S. citizen left trash behind, you can be sure government agents and prosecutors would work diligently to identify and charge that person or group with environment crimes. Prosecutors, I guess, aren’t afraid of U.S. citizens, but drug smugglers are seen as live-and-let live. Why?

Furthermore, this closure makes me wonder, how much more land will be placed off-limits to visitors? Ten thousand acres? A smuggling corridor up to Interstate 8? According to the refuge website, officials suggested that visitors plan their outdoor activities north of I-8. How much sovernity will the U.S. cede until it does something? Maybe they can negotiate an accommodation with drug cartels, although I often wonder how do you negotiate with murders.

What ultimately is annoying is that as a U.S. Citizen, I am kept from going where I please on land that isn’t marked with red, white and blue Property of the U.S. Government shields or posted against trespassing. All of which illustrates the saying, when the government can’t control the criminal, they control the law-abiding.

I have personal experience regarding that, and it illustrates how long this problem has existed. In 1993, I, my wife and 3-year old daughter traveled down by Douglas, Arizona. One of the area attractions was the John Slaughter Ranch, 15 miles east of town, about a mile or two from the border. The ranch has been restored as a historical site.

After touring it, I asked the guide, if the dirt road led down to the border. I wanted to drive to it and do touristy things. Like step across and enter Mexico “illegally”. Or stand with one foot in the U.S. and one in Mexico. If there was border marker, take a photo standing next to it. Also, I would have stood there and pondered what it would be like to have lived in this area in Slaughter’s day . 

Upon my query, the guide told me that the DEA said the area was off-limits because of drug smuggling and you couldn’t go without prior permission. I thought then, as I do now, that a bunch of narco criminals were defining where I could or could not travel.

As a practical matter, we were traveling armed, so we would not have been easily victimized. But with my daughter, I thought better of it and we didn’t travel to the border.

Today, that would be different. My daughter is a little bigger now and we would  again exercise our 2A right. In our border jaunt, it would be the height of irony, if we were stopped by Federal law enforcement and asked what were we doing there. To which I would reply, we were just sight seeing. No doubt, we would be asked to show our “papers”. Isn’t that the law that the President thinks is wrong? Sorry, my mistake; it’s the Arizona law he opposes.

Ultimately, if Federal border officials viewed a vehicle crossing the Mexican border northbound, I wonder if they would stop it to check “papers”, although that could be construed as profiling. Or would that illegal entry be in an area negotiated off limits to U.S. Citizens? Does anyone in Homeland Security realize that when the enemy restricts your movement in your sovereign territory, they’re winning?

Things, I suspect, will only get uglier.

Obama’s Plan To Modify Your Behavior

Obama’s Plan To Modify Your Behavior

J.C. Arenas

Last week, with much of the news cycle focused intently on the oil spill disaster in the Gulf and the continuously weakening economy, Barack Obama quietly signed an executive order to establish the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council.

While such a council isn’t unusual given the president’s preferred collegial approach to governance, and may sound innocuous, a deeper look is needed to understand exactly what this council is and what it aims to accomplish.

As the newest expansion to the Department of Health and Human Services, the council is headed by the Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin, and is comprised of 13 other high-ranking officials of executive agencies — including Janet Napolitano (DHS), Kathleen Sebelius (HHS), Hilda Solis (Labor Dept.), and Arne Duncan (Dept. of Education).

Additionally, the council will oversee an advisory group of up to 25 non-federal government officials who will be appointed by Obama. Many of the president’s appointees will be licensed health-care professionals with expertise in worksite health promotion, community services, preventive medicine, health coaching, public health education, geriatrics, and rehabilitation medicine.

Beginning this year, until 2015, the council will submit an annual report to the president and Congress that describes the progress it has made with its efforts to advance health promotion and disease prevention. Overall, it is expected to address “lifestyle behavior modification” of the American people, including, but not limited to, smoking cessation, proper nutrition, appropriate exercise, mental health, behavioral health, substance-use disorder, and domestic violence screenings.

Does the council still seem innocuous now?

Just in case a reminder is needed, this is the U-S-A, not C-U-B-A. Americans take pride in living in a free society, and we the people don’t need a president who can’t quit smoking, a surgeon general who has had to defend her own weight problem, government bureaucrats, and what will likely be an advisory group comprised of the crème de la crème of radical statists, to tell us what we should and shouldn’t put in our bodies, in addition to, how to behave.

The last council the president created via executive order was the deficit commission that Congress had previously refused to create – which came shortly after a New York Times report disclosed the president was preparing to rule more through executive declaration – and an explanation shouldn’t be required as to why Obama didn’t bother discussing the creation of this health council with the legislative branch.

With the Democratic Party poised to lose its majority in Congress, Obama will have to intensify his presidential usurpation of legislative power to ensure that the re-creation of America in his image comes to fruition; it has to make one wonder, what else is to come?

J.C. Arenas is a frequent contributor to American Thinker and welcomes your comments at jcarenas.com

Obamanomics: No Jobs, No Recovery

Obamanomics: No Jobs, No Recovery

Posted on | June 19, 2010 | 2 Comments

Here’s a handy little chart showing the pattern of job losses in recessions since World War II:

That big red line is the current recession, and Scott Stoddard of Investor’s Business Daily explains:

Job recoveries have been increasingly sluggish over the past several recessions and the current downturn looks to be the longest since at least World War II. . . .
Today’s jobs slump, already at 29 months, could last five years or more, analysts say. Employers are expected to stay cautious amid a sluggish economic recovery.
“It would be strange but not inconceivable” for employment to fall short of its pre-recession peak before the next downturn, said Don Rissmiller, chief economist at Strategas Research Partners. . . .

OK, here come the magic words:

Rissmiller and other economists say a double-dip recession is unlikely. Yet hiring remains painfully slow. Excluding temporary hires for the 2010 Census, the economy has added about 500,000 jobs so far in 2010. The U.S. will need to add about 8 million jobs just to get back to the December 2007 peak, when the recession started.
Excluding the soon-to-disappear Census jobs, employers would need to average nearly 300,000 new jobs a month for the next 27 months just to get to the pre-recession peak by the end of 2012. . . .

Read the whole thing. Everybody keeps saying that a double-dip recession — that is, a “W”-shaped recession, instead of a “V” — is “unlikely.” Right, and if trends turn downward again, I’m sure that will happen unexpectedly.

Speaking of which, what about an unexpected debt crisis?

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said the U.S. may soon face higher borrowing costs on its swelling debt and called for a “tectonic shift” in fiscal policy to contain borrowing.
“Perceptions of a large U.S. borrowing capacity are misleading,” and current long-term bond yields are masking America’s debt challenge, Greenspan wrote in an opinion piece posted on the Wall Street Journal’s website. “Long-term rate increases can emerge with unexpected suddenness,” such as the 4 percentage point surge over four months in 1979-80, he said. . . .
“The federal government is currently saddled with commitments for the next three decades that it will be unable to meet in real terms,” Greenspan said. The “very severity of the pending crisis and growing analogies to Greece set the stage for a serious response.”

Don’t worry. I’m sure higher interest rates are as “unlikely” as a double-dip recession. Or the bursting of the Australian housing bubble. Wonder what’s up with gold prices?

Obama’s trip to Ohio cost ‘between $500K and $1 million’; Spoke for just 10 minutes…

Obama Jokes About Biden’s “Big F-ing Deal” Comment

 

Posted by Mark Knoller

President Obama at the groundbreaking for 10,000th Recovery Act-funded road project in Columbus, Ohio, June 18, 2010.

(Credit: CBS/Mark Knoller)

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Trumpeting the 10,000th road project funded by his Recovery Act, President Obama borrowed two of three words made famous in March by Vice President Biden.

This is a “big….deal,” said Mr. Obama, pausing for effect between the two words between which Biden had inserted an expletive in an overheard whisper three months ago.

“Today I return to Columbus to mark a milestone on the road to recovery,” the president said. “That’s worth a big round of applause.”

The White House staged the event here in the political battleground of Ohio, where Democrats face tough congressional races this fall, including a fight to win the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Republican George Voinovich.

Flanked by construction workers in helmets and yellow safety vests, Mr. Obama tried to score political points via the many jobs programs funded by the Recovery Act.

“More than 100,000 Ohioans are at work today as a result of these steps,” he said.

But even before Air Force One landed here, Republicans were trying to put their own spin on the president’s visit.

House GOP Leader John Boehner, who represents Ohio’s 8th Congressional District, said the administration’s stimulus program has fallen short of its promises. He cited new numbers from the Ohio’s Department of Job and Family Services that showed the state’s unemployment rate “remained above 10 percent for the 14th consecutive month in May:”

The White House yesterday launched a campaign called “Recovery Summer,” in conjunction with thousands of new jobs programs funded by the Recovery Act being initiated. But Boehner portrays the campaign as bogus.

“This will be no ‘recovery summer’ for the more than 100,000 Ohioans who have lost their jobs since the ‘stimulus’ was enacted,” he said in a written statement meant to undermine Mr. Obama’s visit.

In his brief remarks delivered in the middle of a street closed for his appearance, Mr. Obama asserted the recession is easing.

“Our economy, which was shrinking by six percent when I was sworn in, is now growing at a good clip, and we’ve added jobs for six out of the past seven months in this country,” he said.

But at the same time he said he was “under no illusion” that the recession was over.

“There are still too many people here in Ohio and across the country who can’t find work; many more can’t make ends meet,” he said.

The project he came to spotlight is funded by $15 milllion from the Recovery Act to rebuild roads in the area around Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The White House says the program will create over 300 construction jobs.

Mr. Obama spoke for just ten minutes and was on the ground in Ohio for just over an hour. And though his appearance was billed as official and not political, he did use his remarks to deliver attaboys to some of the Democratic politicians here including the Governor, who is up for re-election.

“You also got one of the best governors in the country in Ted Strickland,” the president said at the start of his remarks.

Strickland faces a challenge for his job in November from former GOP Congressman John Kasich, who was not at the Recovery Act event. Neither was Boehner.

The trip Columbus probably cost taxpayers between $500,000 and $1 million.

Air Force One alone bills out at $100,000 per hour, and the round trip is nearly two hours. Adding to the cost are military aircraft to carry limos and secret service vehicles, Marine One on standby, Secret Service, local police and other factors

Conservatives defend Rep. Barton’s suggestion that Obama administration shook down BP

Conservatives defend Rep. Barton’s suggestion that Obama administration shook down BP

By Chris Moody – The Daily Caller   06/19/10 at 12:45 AM

ADVERTISEMENT

Texas Republican Rep. Joe Barton may have prefaced his apology to BP CEO Tony Hayward by saying he was only speaking for himself, but it has become increasingly clear that other prominent conservatives at least partially agree with his statements.

Despite efforts by House Republican leaders to distance themselves from Barton, a number of conservative pundits, bloggers, and even members of Congress have defended his accusation that the White House is guilty of a $20 billion “shakedown” of the oil company.

“Barton should have been apologizing to the American people, not BP, but other than that, he is 100% correct,” wrote blogger Conn Carroll of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. In a post titled “Joe Barton Was Right: There Was a $20 Billion Shakedown in the White House,” Carroll called BP’s decision to establish a $20 billion fund to aid victims of the spill a “shakedown of Godfather-like proportions.”

Erick Erickson, editor of the conservative community blog RedState.com, wrote, “Let’s be honest. The White House meeting with British Petroleum was a shakedown.” Erickson added, however, that the United States does not owe BP an apology.

A number of other influential conservative bloggers posted their own defense of Barton’s Wednesday remarks, including Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit: “Of course it was a shakedown,” he wrote Thursday. “It’s the Chicago way.”

Hoft embedded the video of Barton apologizing to the BP executives that included the caption,Well said, Congressman.”

Defenders of Barton’s comments did not remain exclusively within the conservative blogosphere. While the Republican House leadership wrote press releases Thursday condemning Barton’s remarks, influential conservative pundits took to the airwaves to defend and extend the “shakedown” meme.

Talk radio host Rush Limbaugh called the situation “outrageous” and “unconstitutional”; Fox News contributor Stuart Varney described the arrangement as “Hugo Chavez-like”; and Newt Gingrich accused the White House of “extorting money from a company.” Meanwhile, MSNBC contributor Pat Buchanan praised Barton’s statement as “courageous,” and conservative radio host Laura Ingraham agreed that Barton “had a legitimate point.”

On his show this week, radio host Mark Levin called Republicans “cowards” for threatening to remove Barton from his seat on the committee and said President Obama was acting “like a dictator.”

Even Republican members of Congress voiced agreement with Barton’s statement. Despite the reports that members of the House Republican leadership had coerced Barton to apologize publicly for his remarks to the BP executives, some Republicans on Capitol Hill agreed that Barton was not wrong to call what occurred between the White House and the oil company a “shakedown.”

“BP’s reported willingness to go along with the White House’s new fund suggests that the Obama administration is hard at work exerting its brand of Chicago-style shakedown politics,” said Georgia Republican Rep. Tom Price in a statement.

Texas Republican Rep. Michael Burgess told CNN that he found the entire arrangement concerning.

“I don’t know if I would be quite as strong as Mr. Barton,” he said. “But I agree with him that it was unseemly to have the attorney general, perhaps holding criminal papers in his hand, asking them to sign on the line.”

As The Daily Caller reported, Texas Republican Senator and Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee John Cornyn also showed sympathy to Barton’s view.

“I think it’s good that there’s going to be some money there,” Cornyn said. “But I think the part that Representative Barton is expressing some concern about, that I share the concern, is that this has become a political issue for the president and he’s trying to deal with it by showing how tough he’s being against BP.”

Bending to pressure from the public and House leadership, Barton announced that he was sorry if his comments were misunderstood. A spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner declined to comment when asked about bloggers, pundits and members of Congress who have defended Barton’s comments

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2010/06/19/conservatives-defend-rep-bartons-suggestion-that-obama-administration-shook-down-bp/print/#ixzz0rJpsGluR

BP Bailout: Heresy In Louisiana

BP Bailout: Heresy In Louisiana

by Capitol Confidential

The Louisiana oil crisis continues unabated. Oil continues to pollute the Gulf and the Obama Administration continues to fiddle while Louisiana suffers.

In addition to being angry with BP and the Obama Administration’s weak response, activists have taken to the street to protest Louisiana’s Senators’ support for a BP bailout. Apparently both Louisiana Senators decided to cater to the special interests and voted for the Durbin Amendment to the Financial Reform bill that would increase the profits of companies like BP by shifting the cost of credit transactions away from them and forcing consumers to pay for them instead.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R622FPS2ZOo&feature=player_embedded

Both parties are responsible for the passage of the Durbin Amendment to bailout BP and other big retailers.

But Louisiana voters are more sensitive than most to the impact of the vote. The House and Senate Conference is now formally meeting on the Financial Reform bill and activists from Louisiana are right to demand this egregious giveaway be removed from the bill.

Obama Porkway: Road Built With Stimulus Money Will Bear President’s Name

Obama Porkway: Road Built With Stimulus Money Will Bear President’s Name

By Doug Powers  •  June 19, 2010 11:26 AM

**Written by guest-blogger Doug Powers

null

I’m only guessing that, when it’s completed, Pres. Barack Obama Parkway in Orlando, Florida will lead straight to the Magic Kingdom:

Is it too soon to name a road after President Barack Obama? A new road being built through Orlando will have his name.

Roads in Orlando honor some of our greatest presidents, from Washington to Jefferson and now Obama.

On Friday, Orlando leaders made President Barack Obama Parkway the first road under construction in the nation named after our 44th president, and surely one of the few in history to be named after a sitting president in his first term.
[...]
Two hundred jobs will be created to build the first $10.5 million phase of the road, which will connect with Metrowest Boulevard.

Most roads that are constructed are paid for with taxpayer dollars, but the fact that the first new road named after Barack Obama is being funded by his beloved “stimulus” is only appropriate.

If you’re in Orlando looking for this road, it’s just a mile west of the intersection of Hope and Change, and a half-mile east of the corner of Shovel and Ready. Why did local officials decide to name the stimulus road after the president? Because “A Blatant Attempt to Bankrupt America Boulevard” wouldn’t fit on the sign.

President Obama has a long way to go before surpassing Robert Byrd on the “stuff named after me that somebody else paid for” list, but if enough taxpayer money keeps being dumped into “shovel ready” projects, he’ll catch up in no time.

A photo of the Obamas, Joe Biden and Hillary taking their first drive down Pres. Barack Obama Parkway is here.

**Written by guest-blogger Doug Powers

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 56 other followers