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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Obama Administration Gives Lip Service to the Bill of Rights

“Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions.” — James Madison, Essay on Property, National Gazette, 1792

The founding fathers understood that every right we have emanates from our right to private property. In this sense, “private property” means not only the right to one’s home and land, but also the right to own the product of one’s labor. James Madison, the father of the U.S. Constitution, wrote in 1792,A man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights. Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions.”

Every right we have stems from government’s recognition that we, the people, are born with our rights intact. We own them. We have property in them. We voluntarily forfeit some of these rights to government, in exchange for protection from outside threats, the administration of justice, and the rule of law. The purpose of the U.S. Constitution, then, is not to tell us what rights we have. We’re born with the right to do as we please, so long as we don’t harm others. The Constitution’s purpose is to outline what rights we give to the government, and to firmly define the limits of government power.

Unfortunately, this isn’t widely understood. Commonly, we hear people say things like, “where in the Constitution does it say you have the right to smoke a cigarette?” Or, “where in the Constitution does it say you’re allowed to look at pornography?” James Madison worried about questions like these. He feared that if we included a Bill of Rights in the Constitution, people would eventually come to assume the rights it listed would be the only rights we have. Others, like James Mason, felt some rights — speech, arms, etc. — were so vital as to merit explicit mention. As a compromise, they included the Ninth Amendment, which says that the enumeration of some rights should not be construed to exclude rights not enumerated. So to answer the questions above, your rights to smoke a cigarette or consume pornography are both in the Ninth Amendment.

Today both the First and Second Amendments to the Constitution are under attack. In fact every Amendment in the Bill of Rights, with the exception of the Third, has been under attack for quite a while.

Progressives and statists say that to stop gun violence we need to rethink the Second Amendment. According to a May 7, 2013 Pew Research Report; national rates of gun homicide and other violent gun crimes are strikingly lower now than during their peak in the mid-1990s, paralleling a general decline in violent crime, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data. According to the latest findings by Pew Research:

“Compared with 1993, the peak of U.S. gun homicides, the firearm homicide rate was 49% lower in 2010, and there were fewer deaths, even though the nation’s population grew. The victimization rate for other violent crimes with a firearm—assaults, robberies and sex crimes—was 75% lower in 2011 than in 1993. Violent non-fatal crime victimization overall (with or without a firearm) also is down markedly (72%) over two decades.


Nearly all the decline in the firearm homicide rate took place in the 1990s; the downward trend stopped in 2001 and resumed slowly in 2007. The victimization rate for other gun crimes plunged in the 1990s, then declined more slowly from 2000 to 2008. The rate appears to be higher in 2011 compared with 2008, but the increase is not statistically significant. Violent non-fatal crime victimization overall also dropped in the 1990s before declining more slowly from 2000 to 2010, then ticked up in 2011.

Despite national attention to the issue of firearm violence, most Americans are unaware that gun crime is lower today than it was two decades ago. According to a new Pew Research Center survey, today 56% of Americans believe gun crime is higher than 20 years ago and only 12% think it is lower.”

The latest attack has been on the First Amendment:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The revelations of the past month have shown how the Obama administration has been constantly violating the First Amendment with through the actions of the IRS and Department of Justice.

Last week we learned of the DOJ’s chilling actions of data mining the phone records of AP reporters over a report on a terrorist action in Yemen — a report AP sat on for five days at the request of the CIA.

According to a report in the Washington Post:

“For five days, reporters at the Associated Press had been sitting on a big scoop about a foiled al-Qaeda plot at the request of CIA officials. Then, in a hastily scheduled Monday morning meeting, the journalists were asked by agency officials to hold off on publishing the story for just one more day.

The CIA officials, who had initially cited national security concerns in an attempt to delay publication, no longer had those worries, according to individuals familiar with the exchange. Instead, the Obama administration was planning to announce the successful counterterrorism operation that Tuesday.

AP balked and proceeded to publish that Monday afternoon. Its May 2012 report is now at the center of a controversial and broad seizure of phone records of AP reporters’ home, office and cellphone lines. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said the unauthorized disclosure about an intelligence operation to stop al-Qaeda from detonating explosives aboard a U.S. airliner was among the most serious leaks he could remember, and justified secretly obtaining records from a handful of reporters and editors over a span of two months.

Now, some members of Congress and media advocates are questioning why the administration viewed the leak that led to the May 7 AP story as so grave.

The president’s top counterterrorism adviser at the time, John O. Brennan, had appeared on “Good Morning America” the following day to trumpet the successful operation. He said that because of the work of U.S. intelligence, the plot did not pose an active threat to the American public.”

Brennan himself said there was no threat, yet it was cited as an excuse to seize the AP’s phone records. So why was this spun as a grave threat to target the media, yet the bin Laden leak was not and the identification of SEAL Team 6 as the unit that got bin Laden by VP Joe Biden was not?

The latest exposé is the targeting of James Rosen and Fox News by the DOJ. The DOJ calls James Rosen “criminal” for reporting on an evergreen and non-secret “North Korea is going to conduct a nuke test?” The AP is targeted because it was going to scoop the White House? We have passed through the looking glass.

New revelations emerged yesterday in the Washington Post that are perhaps the most extreme yet when it comes to the DOJ's attacks on press freedoms. It involves the prosecution of State Department adviser Stephen Kim, a naturalized citizen from South Korea who was indicted in 2009 for allegedly telling Fox News' chief Washington correspondent, James Rosen, that US intelligence believed North Korea would respond to additional UN sanct480px-Eric_Holder_official_portraitions with more nuclear tests — something Rosen then reported. Kim did not obtain unauthorized access to classified information, nor steal documents, nor sell secrets, nor pass them to an enemy of the US. Instead, the DOJ alleges that he merely communicated this innocuous information to a journalist — something done every day in Washington — and, for that, this arms expert and long-time government employee faces more than a decade in prison for "espionage".

The focus of the Post's report yesterday is that the DOJ's surveillance of Rosen, the reporter, extended far beyond even what they did to AP reporters. The FBI tracked Rosen's movements in and out of the State Department, traced the timing of his calls, and - most amazingly - obtained a search warrant to read two days’ worth of his emails, as well as all of his emails with Kim. In this case, said the Post, "investigators did more than obtain telephone records of a working journalist suspected of receiving the secret material." It added that "court documents in the Kim case reveal how deeply investigators explored the private communications of a working journalist".

But what makes this revelation particularly disturbing is that the DOJ, in order to get this search warrant, insisted that not only Kim, but also Rosen — the journalist — committed serious crimes. The DOJ specifically argued that by encouraging his source to disclose classified information — something investigative journalists do every day — Rosen himself broke the law. Describing an affidavit from FBI agent Reginald Reyes filed by the DOJ, the Post reports:

"Reyes wrote that there was evidence Rosen had broken the law, 'at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator'. That fact distinguishes his case from the probe of the AP, in which the news organization is not the likely target. Using italics for emphasis, Reyes explained how Rosen allegedly used a 'covert communications plan' and quoted from an e-mail exchange between Rosen and Kim that seems to describe a secret system for passing along information. . . . However, it remains an open question whether it's ever illegal, given the First Amendment's protection of press freedom, for a reporter to solicit information. No reporter, including Rosen, has been prosecuted for doing so."

Under U.S. law, it is not illegal to publish classified information. That fact, along with the First Amendment's guarantee of press freedoms, is what has prevented the U.S. government from ever prosecuting journalists for reporting on what the U.S. government does in secret. This newfound theory of the Obama DOJ — that a journalist can be guilty of crimes for "soliciting" the disclosure of classified information — is a means for circumventing those safeguards and criminalizing the act of investigative journalism itself. These latest revelations show that this is not just a theory but one put into practice, as the Obama DOJ submitted court documents accusing a journalist of committing crimes by doing this.

That same solicitation" theory, as the New York Times reported back in 2011, is the one the Obama DOJ has been using to justify its ongoing criminal investigation of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange: that because Assange solicited or encouraged Manning to leak classified information, the U.S. government can charge Assange as a conspirator in the leak, not just as a passive recipient of the documents who then published them.

The naming of a journalist as a possible co-conspirator in a criminal case of leaked classified information is "chilling," Judge Andrew Napolitano says.

"The Supreme Court has ruled that when the government makes it difficult for you to do your job as a journalist by scaring off your sources or watching your every move, that’s called 'chilling.'" Napolitano said Monday on Fox News Channel. "Chilling is a constitutional phrase meaning the government hasn't directly silenced me, but it's made it more difficult for me to speak."

Napolitano, a former New Jersey Superior Court judge and analyst for Fox News Channel, said it was not a crime for a journalist to ask for, receive, or publish classified information. Nothing in the affidavit claims Rosen did anything more than what journalists are legally allowed to do as part of their jobs, he said.

"James, like all of us who are professionals in this business, have an absolute, constitutionally protected right to seek news of material interest to the public wherever that news may be," Napolitano said.

Though it is a crime for someone to give classified material to a person who does not have clearance to see it, it is not a crime for the person to receive it if that person is a journalist, he said. "It’s just terribly wrong to tell a federal judge that that journalist engaged in criminal activity, when we know from Supreme Court opinions from the Pentagon Papers to the present, James's activity is absolutely protected by the First Amendment."

Napolitano said that when a search warrant is issued, the person who is the target must be told. Rosen and Fox News did not learn of the subpoena of his emails until they read about it Monday in The Washington Post. The request for a search warrant was issued on May 28, 2010.

"The government has an obligation to report this to the target, James, and to anybody else involved — Fox, the computer server, whoever else might be involved – within a reasonable period of time," Napolitano said.

Depending upon which statute the government used, when the information is in the hands of a third party, such as a computer server, investigators have an obligation to tell the subject of the probe beforehand so it can be challenged, he said. "They didn’t tell anybody."

In a related case the former U.S. Attorney for Arizona could be disbarred, after an investigation found he lied to the Justice Department about his role in trying to discredit the federal whistle-blower who exposed the botched gun-running scheme known as Fast and Furious.

An Office of Inspector General report showed that Dennis Burke — the former chief of staff for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano appointed as U.S. Attorney for Arizona by President Obama in September 2009 — lied when asked if he leaked sensitive documents to the press meant to undermine the credibility of ATF whistle-blower John Dodson.

The IG report also said Burke likely leaked the memo in retaliation for Dodson's whistle-blowing, and challenged the credibility of statements he made to congressional investigators. Dodson first went to Congress in 2010 after his own agency and the Justice Department refused to investigate his complaints that Operation Fast and Furious, an anti-gun-trafficking effort, was out of control.

"We also concluded that Burke's disclosure of the Dodson memorandum was likely motivated by a desire to undermine Dodson's public criticisms of Operation Fast and Furious. Although Burke denied to congressional investigators that he had any retaliatory motive for his actions, we found substantial evidence to the contrary," the IG report, released Monday, stated.

Fox News reported on May 20, 2013

“Dodson appeared before Congress in June 2011. At the time, the Department of Justice denied his claim that the federal government approved a plan to knowingly assist criminals in smuggling thousands of guns to the Mexican drug cartels.

Dodson's credibility was crucial since nearly everyone above him denied the allegation. The report found that Burke leaked information that sought to undermine Dodson's story to a Fox News producer.

"The report brings into question, yet again, the treatment that whistle-blowers receive from this administration," Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said Monday. "Instead of examining the allegations that came forward, the Justice Department almost immediately began to attack the credibility and good name of a dedicated federal agent upset with what he was ordered to do."

Burke used his private email account to leak the information to a friend in Washington who then hand-delivered the information to the Fox producer. The IG said in its report it used an "administrative subpoena" to identify the personal email of relevant Department employees to confirm the leak.

Once contacted by IG staff, Burke admitted he was the source. The IG's office had asked 150 Justice Department employees to affirm they were not the leak.

But the report said he gave misleading information to congressional investigators. Asked about the issue by congressional investigators, Burke said: "I was under the impression that (the Dodson memo) had gone to the Hill and that I was basically giving (the Fox producer) a time advantage."

He also allegedly misled his own superior in Washington, Assistant Attorney General James Cole.

At the time, Cole had seen a New York Times story about Fast and Furious. In it, the paper published a picture which showed the document had been faxed from the U.S. attorney's office in Arizona. When confronted, the report said Burke told Cole, "I don't think we have a fax machine."

The IG report claims Burke was "admonished by Deputy Attorney General Cole for lying to him ... and had been put on notice such disclosures should not occur."

After speaking with Burke, Cole wrote "another horrible incident of bad judgment." The following day, Aug. 13, Burke resigned.

Fox News tried unsuccessfully to contact Burke, who recently formed a security and lobbying firm with former Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan, Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano's Chief of Staff Noah Kroloff.

The Office of Inspector General is an investigative arm that monitors the Justice Department. It tried to interview Burke, but he resigned.

The IG said Burke violated numerous federal and professional rules of conduct and it would forward a copy of its report to the Arizona State Bar Association for disciplinary conduct.”

This is not a case of attempting to muzzle a whistle-blower it’s another example of how a disgraced federal employee can move from one role to another with impunity. Unlike the military when you receive less than an honorable discharge these federal civil servants, even when discharged, can simply move to greener pastures.

The liberal media are not really "up in arms" with the Obama administration, but are simply having a "lover's quarrel" over the AP scandal in particular, NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell told CNBC host Larry Kudlow on his May 16 The Kudlow Report program.

What's more, it won't be that long until "the Bill Clinton syndrome is going to be upon us, where it's time to move on, we've covered it, the media will say, and they're going to turn the fire right on Republicans as being obstructionists. Mark my word," the Media Research Center founder predicted

"Go back to the Clinton years and the alphabet soup of scandals involved with Clinton. Now think about the investigation that went into those scandals. It was virtually non-existent," from the media, Bozell reminded Kudlow.

They would report what they had to report that someone else might investigate. But the zeal of going after Watergate with Woodward and Bernstein hasn't been there in neither the AP, IRS, nor Benghazi scandals, the MRC president noted.

"Why hasn't anyone in the press found anybody" who survived the attack on the Benghazi consulate to interview, Bozell wondered, asking Kudlow, "Do you realize we haven't interviewed anyone that was there during the attack on September 11?"

The Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan has correctly characterized the Obama administration’s Benghazi and IRS scandals for what they are: gross failures of leadership that ultimately include a bold—even boastful—policy of criminal activity (my words, not hers).

News media companies can point their fingers at the Obama administration all they want. It’s suddenly all the rage, even among characteristically leftist writers and broadcasters. But to really root out the problem, the news media must point their fingers at themselves — as CBS anchor Scott Pelley said in a speech at Quinnipiac University that journalists "are getting big stories wrong, over and over again."

Before he ran for President, Obama’s short careers as a lawyer and politician were studded with events that clearly indicated a weak character that would be dangerous in the presidency: representing Chicago slumlords and getting poor people—African-Americans, no less—thrown into the street in freezing weather, and winning elections via crony David Axelrod’s underhanded Chicago means. But the news media widely chose to not publicize those events: chose to instead glamorize Obama. He was from Harvard, brilliant, a gifted communicator, even our savior: hail Obama, minus the stiff-armed salute.

Some indications suggest, and were largely ignored by most major news media companies, that even in high school and undergraduate and graduate school, Obama showed a suspect personal morality. By his own admission, he used drugs every day and skipped class in high school. His supporters, including those working for major news media companies, apparently thought this made him cool.

Since becoming president, Obama’s questionable character has shown itself repeatedly: his “green-energy” program, which looks like a means to repay rich, fat-cat campaign donors; his “fast-and-furious” gun scandal, which apparently entailed illegally selling US guns to Mexican drug dealers, so they’d use the guns to kill people and create anti-gun fervor in the US; his continual, and very public, practice of encouraging supporters to aggressively attack those opposing him, so they’d do exactly what his supporters embedded within the IRS have done. Like a common bully, he publicly jeers at and insults his opposition, and his supporters love every word of it. (They love hearing it from Bill Maher, too.) They support Obama for who and what he is; because he divides rather than unites Americans; because he seeks to publicly humiliate half the US population; because he plays dirty; because he talks a smooth line of bologna.

Throughout all of this, most major news media companies have either remained silent or even defended Obama. Thus encouraged, he became bolder. His character, already weak, folded completely, and his arrogance, which has filtered throughout his administration, has run amok: widespread, unmonitored use of drones for killing. some people, we don’t know for sure whom; arming Mexican drug lords; domestic spying and harassment. You name it. He’s even grossly misrepresented his Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, named “ObamaCare” erroneously because he neither conceived of nor wrote it. It doesn’t “provide healthcare for 30 million Americans,” as he’s said. It provides health insurance, and the two are usually opposed to each other; health insurers work to minimize costs by minimizing and/or denying care. The federal government, already deeply into the healthcare business, is now in the health insurance business as well, and our beloved, trustworthy IRS is in charge.

All politicians are quintessentially self-interested. All presidents deny wrong-doing. Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Clinton and the Bushes all “spun” news events that threatened their presidencies. This is what all people of political stripes do; even those who aren’t professional politicians, and regardless of party affiliation. The only protections We, the people have against presidents who put themselves and their power above the law are “the watchdog media,” very deliberately protected by the First Amendment, for reasons that, if some have lost sight of them, are quite obvious now. Even congressional committees are relatively powerless if their investigations don’t get news-media support or, worse, are belittled by news media companies that, themselves, have become politicized.

In some cases — Watergate, Iran-contra, Monica Lewinsky — news media companies did their jobs. They pursued the stories, dug past the presidential “spin,” and protected American citizens from corrupt presidencies, or at least exposed the corruption. (Particularly in the Watergate and Lewinsky scandals, presidential obstruction made the situations a lot worse than they actually were.) But until now, the media have allowed and even encouraged Obama — an obviously dangerous president — to do exactly as he pleases, and that, predictably, is what he’s done.

Now, in Benghazi, Americans, including a U.S. Ambassador, have been murdered. Former Navy SEALs, fighting for their lives, were ordered to stand down: to allow themselves to be murdered. The help they repeatedly requested was available, and it was denied. The denial apparently came from the White House. Now the IRS, to which Americans are supposed to entrust their medical welfare, is out of control. Now Obama’s justice department has been caught tapping AP reporters’ phone lines and digging into Fox News’ computer servers, and Eric Holder, Obama’s hand-picked Attorney General of the United States, won’t take responsibility.

Like Obama, Holder says he doesn’t know what’s going on because, as David Axelrod said, the federal government is just too big: exactly the way Obama, Holder, Axelrod and the political left want it to be. Victory: we are “free at last” from the constraints of limited, controllable, and constitutional federal authority.

Yes: current events — Benghazi, the IRS, and the DOJ phone tapping — are shocking. But tens of millions of Americans, whose voices most major news media companies have both deliberately suppressed and publicly ridiculed, aren’t surprised in the least, except by major news media companies’ firmly-established policy of ignoring, and even applauding, Obama’s well-known wrongs.

The result is that Americans don’t trust or believe in their news media as much, if not more than, Noonan says we now don’t trust our President.

So, to comprehensively address this problem, major news media companies must themselves assume a share of the blame and “clean house.” Print and air-wave news broadcasting companies must rigidly enforce journalistic professionalism, and aggressively rid themselves of reporters, editors, publishers, anchors, program directors and producers who stubbornly put politics above journalistic integrity. Through modified hiring policies, all major news media companies must forcefully create and maintain political equality and balance among their personnel.

To put it simply, news media companies must hire and promote as many from the political right as they hire and promote from the political left, and then work to minimize employees’ political feelings in all news reporting: check, double check, and if the story still smacks of partisanship, throw it out and reassign it. Editors like Cesar’s wife must be above reproach.

They must do this on their own, without government intervention or regulation. They must do it because it is the professionally and morally correct thing to do. They must do it because it is what their nation requires; because they’re good, patriotic Americans. They must do it to live up to the principles of our Founders or the Republic will be lost.

This would’ve saved Dan Rather his job and impressive career. It would’ve saved all Americans from what Obama has now — again, predictably — wrought. It might’ve saved us from the housing foreclosure debacle, crushing federal debt, the ongoing recession, and the stubbornly weak job market and high gas costs that burden all working Americans; if the “watchdog media,” who like to hear themselves characterized as “courageous” and “professional,” had only lived up to their aggrandizements.

That was before it was known that the Obama DOJ read James Rosen's emails by formally labeling him in court an unindicted co-conspirator for the "crime" of reporting on classified information. This all just got a lot more dangerous.

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