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Member since: Wed May 27, 2015, 02:02 PM
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How Private Contractors Have Created a Shadow NSA

About a year ago, I wangled a media invitation to a “leadership dinner” in northern 
Virginia sponsored by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance. INSA is a powerful but 
little-known coalition established in 2005 by companies working for the National Security Agency. In recent years, it has become the premier organization for the men and women who run the massive cyberintelligence-industrial complex that encircles Washington, DC.

One of those clapping was a former Navy SEAL named Melchior Baltazar, the CEO of an up-and-coming company called SDL Government. Its niche, an eager young flack explained, is providing software that military agencies can use to translate hundreds of thousands of Twitter and Facebook postings into English and then search them rapidly for potential clues to terrorist plots or cybercrime.

This small company, and INSA itself, are vivid examples of the rise of a new class in America: the cyberintelligence ruling class.

These are the people—often referred to as “intelligence professionals”—who do the actual analytical and targeting work of the NSA and other agencies in America’s secret government. Over the last 15 years, thousands of former high-ranking intelligence officials and operatives have left their government posts and taken up senior positions at military contractors, consultancies, law firms, and private-equity firms. In their new jobs, they replicate what they did in government—often for the same agencies they left. But this time, their mission is strictly for-profit.

So what does the existence of such a class mean? First off, it deepens inequality. We all know that corporations can buy access to lawmakers through hefty political donations. Now they have access to some of the state’s most closely held secrets. According to a declassified document obtained in April by The New York Times, Hayden and Alexander were “read into” Stellar Wind, the warrantless-surveillance program started after 9/11. They are bound by law not to divulge those secrets. But their knowledge based on those secrets is of unfathomable value to the corporations they advise on cybersecurity and acquisitions strategies. That knowledge isn’t shared with the public, but it is available to the companies that can afford it.

Second, it places participatory democracy at risk. The vast majority of Americans are excluded from the consequential discussions that take place at the cyber-intelligence elite’s secret meetings. While hashing over controversial programs such as domestic spying, offensive cyberintelligence operations, or FBI terrorist-entrapment programs, the state and corporate leaders at INSA—as well as other places where the new class meets—operate on a completely different plane from the rest of us. Meanwhile, the black hole of secrecy keeps the new hybrid class and its organizations immune from any meaningful oversight by either the executive branch or Congress.

Do yourself a favor and read the whole article: http://www.thenation.com/article/208481/how-private-contractors-have-created-shadow-nsa

The Patriot Act May Be Dead Forever

Barring any last-minute compromises, powerful government surveillance authorities under the Patriot Act will expire at the stroke of midnight Monday. And they may never return.

This week, senators have been negotiating over whether to pass a House bill that would renew and tweak existing provisions in the long-controversial law, rather than let them “sunset” on June 1. But if the sunset comes and the provisions are off the books, lawmakers in both chambers would be facing a vote to reinstate controversial surveillance authorities, which is an entirely different political calculation.

Looking ahead to Sunday’s Senate session, Schiff said, “I don’t feel confident at all” that lawmakers will pass the Freedom Act.

And that may suit civil libertarians and privacy advocates just fine.

Geiger, with the Center for Democracy and Technology, said, “We hope that if the Senate fails to pass meaningful surveillance reform that it does lead to a sunset, and then meaningful reform of the Patriot Act.”


Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert Indicted On Federal Charges

Source: Buzzfeed

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has indicted former House Speaker Dennis Hastert on reporting evasion charges and lying to the FBI as part of an effort to pay off victims of “prior bad acts.”

In an indictment handed down in the District Court of Northern Illinois, the Department of Justice and IRS charged Hastert, 73, with illegally transferring funds in an effort to avoid detection by the IRS, a scheme known as “structuring.”

In the indictment, Hastert is accused of agreeing to pay one individual $3.5 million.

Although the indictment specifies neither the “bad acts” nor the victims, sources said they could be from before Hastert, who is now a lobbyist in Washington, entered politics in 1980.

Read more: http://www.buzzfeed.com/johnstanton/former-house-speaker-dennis-hastert-indicted-on-federal-char#.fqx4YL1Yq2

Bernie Sanders, then chairman of the CORE social action committee, speaks at a UChicago sit-in

Bernie Sanders @SenSanders

#TBT Bernie Sanders, then chairman of the CORE social action committee, speaks at a sit-in at @UChicago in 1962.

Disability payments to 1,200 Kentuckians under review; payments suspended for 900 of them

The notices caused a shock wave in Eastern Kentucky because the agency suspended payments for many people while their continued eligibility was being decided, creating hardship for families with few other resources.

"You couldn't pick a more vulnerable group," said Ned Pillersdorf, a lawyer in Prestonsburg. "We're gonna have cancer patients who will be homeless."

There are two programs at issue in the mass re-determination process.

One is Social Security Disability Insurance, which covers people who have worked and paid into the system before becoming disabled. The other is Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, which is for people who are disabled — including children — and have little or no work history, income or resources.

The 1,500 cases under review include 900 beneficiaries and family members covered under Social Security Disability Insurance, LaVelle said. Those are the people who had their benefits suspended.



A disability lawyer was busted by the U.S. Senate (you might remember the report on 60 Minutes) for defrauding the SSA and now a majority of his clients are suffering as a result.

The Bernie Sanders Song

NRO: Bernie will be a thug who utilizes concentration camps and firing squads to push his agenda

This is a very old and thoroughly discredited idea, one that dates back to Karl Marx and to the anti-capitalists who preceded him. It is a facet of the belief that free markets are irrational, and that if reason could be imposed on markets — which is to say, if reason could be imposed on free human beings — then enlightened planners could ensure that resources are directed toward their best use. This line of thinking historically has led to concentration camps, gulags, firing squads, purges, and the like, for a few reasons: The first is that free markets are not irrational; they are a reflection of what people actually value at a particular time relative to the other things that they might also value. Real people simply want things that are different from what the planners want them to want, a predicament that can be solved only through violence and the threat of violence. That is the first reason that this sort of planning leads to gulags. The second is that there are no enlightened planners; men such as Senator Sanders imagine themselves to be candidates for enlightened leadership, but put a whip in his hand and the gentleman from Vermont will turn out to be another thug in the long line of thugs who have cleaved to his faith.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/418926/bernie-sanderss-dark-age-economics-kevin-d-williamson


I love how scared he has all of them. All the right people are terrified of a Sanders presidency.

Sanders in Selma Says Civil Rights Struggle Continues

SELMA, Ala., March 7 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today joined U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and other civil rights pioneers on the 50th anniversary of an historic civil rights march that led to enactment of the Voting Rights Act.

“In 1965, against racist legalized violence, incredibly brave men and women put their lives on the line to demand that all Americans, regardless of their color, have the right to vote. And they won. When people stand together for justice, nothing is impossible,” Sanders said.

President Barack Obama and members of Congress gathered at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge to commemorate the events of Bloody Sunday in 1965, when baton-wielding police beat Lewis, the future Georgia congressman, and other peaceful protesters.

Later that year, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, which protected voters from discrimination until the Supreme Court two years ago invalidated a key portion of the landmark law.

Sanders said he hoped the anniversary of the march will be a catalyst for Congress to undo that 2013 court decision.

“What Bloody Sunday was about was showing the entire country and the entire world how far some of the racist officials in Alabama would go to prevent African-Americans from participating the political process and from voting,” Sanders said. “What happened on that bridge that day was a huge step forward for democracy in America. But what is happening right now – not just in the South but all over this country – are efforts by Republican governors and Republican legislatures to make it harder for African-Americans, for low-income people and for senior citizens to vote.”

The election of Obama, the first African-American president, is a sign of the nation’s progress in the past half century, Sanders said. “But we also know that much more needs to be done. Today, African American unemployment is double the national average while African American household income is $17,000 less. The struggle for racial and economic justice continues,” Sanders said.

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