Posted by at 14:18  Middle East, Politics
Aug 312013

President Obama on the use of chemical weapons in Syria:

Now, after careful deliberation, I have decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets. This would not be an open-ended intervention. We would not put boots on the ground. Instead, our action would be designed to be limited in duration and scope. But I’m confident we can hold the Assad regime accountable for their use of chemical weapons, deter this kind of behavior, and degrade their capacity to carry it out.

Our military has positioned assets in the region. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs has informed me that we are prepared to strike whenever we choose. Moreover, the Chairman has indicated to me that our capacity to execute this mission is not time-sensitive; it will be effective tomorrow, or next week, or one month from now. And I’m prepared to give that order.

But having made my decision as Commander-in-Chief based on what I am convinced is our national security interests, I’m also mindful that I’m the President of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy. I’ve long believed that our power is rooted not just in our military might, but in our example as a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. And that’s why I’ve made a second decision: I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people’s representatives in Congress.

Over the last several days, we’ve heard from members of Congress who want their voices to be heard. I absolutely agree. So this morning, I spoke with all four congressional leaders, and they’ve agreed to schedule a debate and then a vote as soon as Congress comes back into session.

He has decided that military intervention in Syria is called for but, given all the noise that has been forthcoming from the Congress critters over the past several days, he has also decided to let them have their say. We shall now see if they really are willing to put their money where their mouths are. Let the consequences of any action or inaction on our part be on their heads since that seems to be where they want it to be.

The full transcript of the President’s remarks follows the break.

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Snowden on the move

 Posted by at 09:45  Politics
Jun 232013

American outlaw and fugitive Edward Snowden is on the move…

Hong Kong: Edward Snowden has left for third country

A former National Security Agency contractor wanted by the United States for revealing highly classified surveillance programs was allowed to leave for a “third country” because a U.S. extradition request did not fully comply with Hong Kong law, the territory’s government said Sunday. CBS News confirmed Snowden was supposed to land in Moscow early Sunday morning, although whether or not that is his final destination is unclear. WikiLeaks, which claims to have aided Snowden’s flight, said on Twitter he had landed at around 9:15 a.m. ET.

Hong Kong’s government did not identify his destination. A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was unaware of Snowden’s whereabouts or travel plans.

Snowden, who has been in hiding in Hong Kong for several weeks since he revealed information on the highly classified spy programs, has talked of seeking asylum in Iceland.

However, both Russia’s ITAR-Tass news agency and Reuters cited an unidentified Aeroflot official as saying Snowden would fly from Moscow to Cuba on Monday and then on to Caracas, Venezuela. Others have mentioned Ecuador as a possible final destination.

So much for his manly claims of having done nothing wrong and his willingness to take responsibility for his actions.

Edward Snowden is nothing more than a narcissistic coward and traitor to his country. I wish those of you who are trying to make him out to be some kind of hero would get over it.

Update: Word is now that the traitor may be enroute to Ecuador.

Booz Allen Statement

 Posted by at 14:42  Politics
Jun 112013

From their website:

Booz Allen can confirm that Edward Snowden, 29, was an employee of our firm for less than 3 months, assigned to a team in Hawaii. Snowden, who had a salary at the rate of $122,000, was terminated June 10, 2013 for violations of the firm’s code of ethics and firm policy. News reports that this individual has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm. We will work closely with our clients and authorities in their investigation of this matter.

I guess they had to make it official, but isn’t that kind of like closing the barn door after the horse has already escaped? Seems to me to Mr. Snowden kind of quit his job the day he took off for Hong Kong. It also appears that his claims of a $200,000 salary were somewhat exaggerated.

I’m thinking that his salary is not the only thing he exaggerated.

But analysts said that Snowden seems to have greatly exaggerated the amount of information available to him and people like him.

Any NSA analyst “at any time can target anyone, any selector, anywhere,” Snowden told the Guardian. “I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president if I had a personal email.”

Robert Deitz, a former top lawyer at the NSA and CIA, called the claim a “complete and utter” falsehood.

“First of all it’s illegal,” he said. “There is enormous oversight. They have keystroke auditing. There are, from time to time, cases in which some analyst is [angry] at his ex-wife and looks at the wrong thing and he is caught and fired,” he said.

NSA analysts who have the authority to query databases of metadata such as phone records — or Internet content, such as emails, videos or chat logs — are subject to stringent internal supervision and also the external oversight of the foreign surveillance court, former NSA officials said.

“It’s actually very difficult to do your job,” said a former senior NSA operator, who also declined be quoted by name because of the sensitive nature of the case. “There are all these checks that don’t allow you to move agilely enough.”

For example, the former operator said, he had go through an arduous process to obtain FISA court permission to gather Internet data on a foreign nuclear weapons proliferator living abroad because some of the data was passing through U.S. wires.

“When he’s saying he could just put any phone number in and look at phone calls, it just doesn’t work that way,” he said. “It’s absurd. There are technical limits, and then there are people who review these sorts of queries.”

Don’t forget to vote in the poll in the previous post.

A 21st Century Traitor

 Posted by at 17:33  Politics
Jun 092013

Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations

“My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.”

Is anybody buying that? This kid (who did not even complete high school) was making $200,000 per year and living with his girlfriend in Hawaii. He had a very comfortable life and a secure future. Yet he chose to give it all up for “the world that he loves.”

He is now holed up in a hotel room in Hong Kong.

Mr. Snowden was bought off, pure and simple. I’m guessing by a foreign government. Given his choice of sanctuary, I’m thinking China.

He needs to be brought back to the United States and face trial for treason.

NPR: NSA Phone Data Program

 Posted by at 21:46  Politics
Jun 062013

Here’s a very good All Things Considered episode with lots of valid information about the NSA Phone Data Program.

The White House and lawmakers are defending a secret program that collects data on phone calls made by ordinary Americans. It was revealed Wednesday that the National Security Agency obtained data on calls from Verizon, including calls made locally, inside the United States and calls between the U.S. and overseas. Officials defend the program as necessary for fighting terrorism. Robert Siegel speaks with NPR’s Dina Temple-Raston about the program, its scope and civil liberties implications.

Click on the arrow below to listen:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

There is more to which to listen at the link in the top paragraph above. You do listen to NPR, do you not?

Bottom line (pretty much): If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about.

Jan 072010

“Moreover, I am less interested in passing out blame than I am in learning from and correcting these mistakes to make us safer. For ultimately, the buck stops with me. As President, I have a solemn responsibility to protect our nation and our people. And when the system fails, it is my responsibility.”

Transcript following the break…

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Getting it right

 Posted by at 20:30  Politics
Jan 052010

President Obama met with members of his Cabinet and national and homeland security teams today to discuss the attempted terrorist attack on Christmas day and the steps that have since been taken to improve security and to ensure that such attacks are more difficult to carry out in the future. Afterward, he had these remarks…

A transcript follows the break.

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Jul 212009

In the Rose Garden today…

Time and again, we’ve heard excuses to delay and defeat reform. Time and again, the American people have suffered because people in Washington played the politics of the moment instead of putting the interests of the American people first. That’s how we ended up with premiums rising three times faster than wages. That’s how we ended up with businesses choosing between shedding benefits and shutting their doors. That’s how we’ve been burdened with runaway costs and huge gaps in coverage.

That’s the status quo. That’s what we have right now. And the American people understand that the status quo is unacceptable. They don’t care who’s up or who’s down politically in Washington. They care about what’s going on in their own lives. They don’t care about the latest line of political attack. They care about whether their families will be crushed by rising premiums; whether the businesses they work for will have to cut jobs; or whether their children are going to be saddled with debt.

So I understand that some will try to delay action until the special interests can kill it, while others will simply focus on scoring political points. We’ve done that before. And we can choose to follow that playbook again, and then we’ll never get over the goal line, and we’ll face an even greater crisis in the years to come. That’s one path we can travel.

Or, we can come together and insist that this time it will be different. We can choose action over inaction. We can choose progress over the politics of the moment. We can build on the extraordinary common ground that’s been forged, and we can do the hard work needed to finally pass the health insurance reform that the American people deserve.

The full transcript is available following the break.

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May 222009

Robert Gates served George W. Bush as Secretary of Defense and now serves President Barack Obama in the same capacity. He has famously said that President Obama is ‘more analytical’ than Mr. Bush. He appeared on NBC’s Today Show this morning. Matt Lauer interviewed him about, among other things, the closing of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It was a very interesting and enlightening interview…


Gates defends decision to close Guantanamo

WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the Obama administration had no choice but to order the shutdown of the prison at Guantanamo because “the name itself is a condemnation” of U.S. anti-terrorism strategy.

In an interview broadcast Friday on NBC’s “Today” show, Gates called the facility on the island of Cuba is “probably one of the finest prisons in the world today.” But at the same time, he said it had become “a taint” on the reputation of America.

Gates has served both President George W. Bush and now Barack Obama at the Pentagon. In an interview taped Thursday aboard the retired World War II-era battleship USS Intrepid, the defense secretary said that once the decision was made to close Guantanamo, “the question is, where do you put them?” He said Obama would do nothing to endanger the public and said there has never been an escape from a “super-max” prison in this country.

Of criticism the president’s plan would jeopardize people’s safety, Gates said: “I think that one of the points … was that he had no interest whatsoever in releasing publicly detainees who might come back to harm Americans.”

Gates said that “we have many terrorists in United States’ prisons today,” and he decried “fear-mongering about this.”