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.

“Drudge Tax”: Government Agency Declares War On Conservative Online Journalism

“Drudge Tax”: Government Agency Declares War On Conservative Online Journalism

June 4th, 2010 Posted By Erik Wong.

mattdrudge

The internet is the new Talk Radio, in that it is completely run by Conservatives. This truth is proven in the very name attached to this act of suppression, the “Drudge Tax.” They might as well call it the “Right-Wing Tax,” they are not hiding what this attempt at Totalitarianism is directed towards. The left owns 90% of the MSM, yet they know that much of America is using the internet to see through their bullshit. Their poll numbers are tanking, and this scares them. That is how this “Tax” came into being. That’s what this “Tax” seeks to control.

The Washington Times:

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is seeking ways to “reinvent” journalism, and that’s a cause for concern. According to a May 28 draft proposal, the agency thinks government should be at the center of a media overhaul. The bureaucracy sees it as a problem that the Internet has introduced a wealth of information options to consumers, forcing media companies to adapt and experiment to meet changing market needs. FTC’s policy staff fears this new reality.

“There are reasons for concern that experimentation may not produce a robust and sustainable business model for commercial journalism,” the report states. With no faith that the market will work things out for the better, government thinks it must come to the rescue.

The ideas being batted around to save the industry share a common theme: They are designed to empower bureaucrats, not consumers. For instance, one proposal would, “Allow news organizations to agree jointly on a mechanism to require news aggregators and others to pay for the use of online content, perhaps through the use of copyright licenses.”

In other words, government policy would encourage a tax on websites like the Drudge Report, a must-read source for the news links of the day, so that the agency can redistribute the funds collected to various newspapers. Such a tax would hit other news aggregators, such as Digg, Fark and Reddit, which not only gather links, but provide a forum for a lively and entertaining discussion of the issues raised by the stories. Fostering a robust public-policy debate, not saving a particular business model, should be the goal of journalism in the first place.

The report also discusses the possibility of offering tax exemptions to news organizations, establishing an AmeriCorps for reporters and creating a national fund for local news organizations. The money for those benefits would come from a suite of new taxes. A 5 percent tax on consumer electronic devices such as iPads, Kindles and laptops that let consumers read the news could be used to encourage people to keep reading the dead-tree version of the news. Other taxes might be levied on the radio and television spectrum, advertising and cell phones.

The conflict of interest in having the government pay or contribute to a newsman’s salary could not be more obvious. Reporters and columnists would have little incentive to offer critical analyses of tax increases that might mean a boost in the pocketbook. Once Congress has the power to fund the news, it can at any time attach “strings” designed to promote certain viewpoints – in the name of fairness, of course. Each year at budget time, the Fourth Estate would scramble to be worthy in the eyes of Capitol Hill for increased support. It is hardly a surprise that the heavily subsidized National Public Radio frequently presents issues in a way favorable to Washington’s tax-and-spend agenda.

Self-respecting journalists must reject this tempting government bribe as the FTC brings its proposals to a round-table discussion scheduled for June 15. When it comes to the media, consumers lose most when government suppresses innovation in the name of “saving” old business models.

Obama: Civility for Thee but Not for Me Our Lecturer-in-Chief demands we do as he says, not as he does

Obama: Civility for Thee but Not for Me

May 7th, 2010

By Floyd and Mary Beth Brown, Western Journalist

video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoXjL4mhkKc&feature=player_embedded

Our Lecturer-in-Chief demands we do as he says, not as he does. During his University of Michigan commencement address, Barack Obama assumed the professorial role and began lecturing Americans on how to behave: “Now, the second way to keep our democracy healthy is to maintain a basic level of civility in our public debate. … But we can’t expect to solve our problems if all we do is tear each other down. You can disagree with a certain policy without demonizing the person who espouses it.”

While the idea of a civil debate is certainly appealing, Barack Obama has done more to damage civility in public discourse than any presidency in 40 years. Obama is the first president since Richard Nixon to personally launch verbal assaults on his enemies. His administration is willing to attack anyone who dares to stand up against them. They employ the shockingly un-presidential strategy of going after their critics by name. Robert Gibbs, the president’s acid tongue spokesman, attacked CNBC reporter Rick Santelli after less than a month in office.

Obama then joins Gibbs by personally lashing out at critics. Obama is even willing to go after his allies that don’t fall in line. “Don’t think we’re not keeping score, brother,” Obama famously told Rep. Peter DeFazio, a Democrat from Oregon.

Obama has issued scores of scathing personal attacks. He attacked Mitch McConnell as being in bed with Wall Street. He claimed John Boehner was a healthcare Chicken Little. He said Sarah Palin is “not exactly an expert on nuclear issues,” and called Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh a “troublesome” twosome spreading “vitriol.”

Obama’s comedy also has a political bite to it. Rather than employing the strategy of most recent presidents of engaging in self-deprecating humor, Obama makes fun of others. He tells jokes mocking Sarah Palin, Scott Brown, John Boehner, Charlie Crist and Mitt Romney.

Landon Parvin, an author and speechwriter for Democrats and Republicans, and a joke writer for three Republican presidents (Reagan and both Bushes) says, “With these dinners you want the audience to like you more when you sit down than when you stood up. … Something in [Obama’s] humor didn’t do that.”

Even Nancy Pelosi has told Obama to cool his critiques of Washington, D.C. Pelosi and other Democrats in the House are concerned that he is throwing them under the bus to save his own reputation. Obama is more concerned about preserving his own image and re-election prospects than he is about supporting his party in 2010.

Even Obama’s most reliable allies, the formerly dominant mainstream media, are beginning to take notice. Josh Gerstein and Patrick Gavin of Politico report: “Reporters say the White House is thin-skinned, controlling, eager to go over their heads and stingy with even basic information.” When the friendly press takes notice, there must really be a big problem.

It’s easy for the president to lecture about the lack of civility in politics, but when his administration is one of the most vicious voices in modern history those lectures are hypocritical. If Obama really wants to raise the public discourse he ought to start the cleaning in his own White House.

Crying Hate, Suppressing Debate

Crying Hate, Suppressing Debate

By on 4.19.10 @ 6:09AM

Furrowing his brow at the protesters rudely demonstrating their ingratitude to benevolent old Uncle Sam, Bill Clinton decided to take a trip down memory lane. While others indulge their 1990s nostalgia by watching Seinfeld reruns and listening to Hootie and the Blowfish CDs, Clinton prefers to repeat his favorite smears of anyone uncouth enough to criticize the government from the right.

Then as now, our leaders had to deal with a fearsome tide of antigovernment extremism. Today we have Michelle Bachmann, the Republican congresswoman from Minnesota. Back then, it was Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, and a Democratic president who stood up and announced the end of the “era of big government.”

Well, never mind that last example. But Clinton is concerned that his former sidekick Al Gore made things worse with his prized invention. “Because of the Internet, there is this vast echo chamber and our advocacy reaches into corners that never would have been possible before,” Clinton told the New York Times. The unwashed masses lapping up this advocacy may be “serious and seriously disturbed.”

Protest against a Republican-run federal government, no matter how intemperate, is patriotic. Protest against Democratic-controlled government leads inexorably Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombing. No matter how anfractuous the logic, the fact that such protest is now widespread is what has Clinton seriously disturbed.

Such splendid demagoguery worked wonders for Clinton back in 1995, when he shamelessly exploited McVeigh’s atrocities to turn back rising conservative and populist opposition to his agenda. But this latest rendition also serves to remind those who cannot tell the difference between a Tea Party protest and a Klan rally that things weren’t much different the last time a liberal president tried to govern, even though that president was Southern and white.

Despite Clinton’s pasty whiteness, the liberal line of attack wasn’t much different. Then as now, all conservative opposition was really just the thinly veiled racism of “angry white males.” This held true even when the issue at hand had no obvious racial connotations. Right before the 1994 elections, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) told a Manhattan audience that the Klan’s white hoods had been replaced with “black suits and red ties.”

“It’s not ‘spic’ and ‘nigger’ anymore,” Rangel said of the new racists stalking the land. “They say, ‘Let’s cut taxes.'” (By the way, there is more evidence of old Charlie using such ugly racial slurs than the average Tea Party activist.) This was back when only Toni Morrison believed we had a black president, so the notion that it is racist to disagree with liberals about health care reform is nothing new under the sun.

Violence and genuine racism — like that seen in last weekend’s white supremacist rally in Los Angeles — should be condemned by all people of goodwill across the political spectrum. Yet when a former president makes unsubstantiated allegations that political opponents are inciting people to violence, when regular columnists for the Washington Post and the New York Times liken mainstream critics of the president to the bigotry of David Duke, when protests are denounced as racist simply because most of the people attending them are white, that kind of rhetoric — sometimes calculated, sometimes incautious — is itself a contribution to the coarsening of our public discourse.

Or perhaps it is something worse. Political passions in this country have been inflamed since at least the 2000 Florida recount, maybe the Clinton impeachment two years before. Demographically, America is becoming more diverse. In such a climate, racializing disputes that are not inherently racial in nature and inflating the profile of real hate groups is not just wrong — it is profoundly irresponsible.

“All politics are local,” Tip O’Neill famously observed. That kind of provincialism is compatible with social harmony. “All politics are identity politics” is a maxim that will tear the country apart, as it ignores any concept of the common good. It will lead to more hate and more division, not less.

Listen to Bill Clinton. “There can be real consequences when what you say animates people who do things you would never do,” the former president recently warned. On that score, he is correct.

Letter to the Editor

W. James Antle, III is associate editor of The American Spectator.