A recent briefing by senior intelligence officials on surveillance programs failed to attract even half of the Senate, showing the lack of enthusiasm in Congress for learning about classified security programs.
Many senators elected to leave Washington early Thursday afternoon instead of attending a briefing with James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, Keith Alexander, the head of the National Security Agency (NSA), and other officials.
The Senate held its last vote of the week a little after noon on Thursday, and many lawmakers were eager to take advantage of the short day and head back to their home states for Father’s Day weekend.
Only 47 of 100 senators attended the 2:30 briefing, leaving dozens of chairs in the secure meeting room empty as Clapper, Alexander and other senior officials told lawmakers about classified programs to monitor millions of telephone calls and broad swaths of Internet activity. The room on the lower level of the Capitol Visitor Center is large enough to fit the entire Senate membership, according to a Senate aide.
The Hill was not provided the names of who did, and who didn’t, attend the briefing.
National Security Agency discloses in secret Capitol Hill briefing that thousands of analysts can listen to domestic phone calls. That authorization appears to extend to e-mail and text messages too.
The National Security Agency has acknowledged in a new classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed this week that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed “simply based on an analyst deciding that.”
If the NSA wants “to listen to the phone,” an analyst’s decision is sufficient, without any other legal authorization required, Nadler said he learned. “I was rather startled,” said Nadler, an attorney and congressman who serves on the House Judiciary committee.
Not only does this disclosure shed more light on how the NSA’s formidable eavesdropping apparatus works domestically, it also suggests the Justice Department has secretly interpreted federal surveillance law to permit thousands of low-ranking analysts to eavesdrop on phone calls.
Because the same legal standards that apply to phone calls also apply to e-mail messages, text messages, and instant messages, Nadler’s disclosure indicates the NSA analysts could also access the contents of Internet communications without going before a court and seeking approval.
The disclosure appears to confirm some of the allegations made by Edward Snowden, a former NSA infrastructure analyst who leaked classified documents to the Guardian. Snowden said in a video interview that, while not all NSA analysts had this ability, he could from Hawaii “wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president.”
There are serious “constitutional problems” with this approach, said Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who has litigated warrantless wiretapping cases. “It epitomizes the problem of secret laws.”
Florida’s Home Foreclosure Bill, HB 87, was passed through the Florida House of Representatives on April 29, 2013 with a vote of 87-26; presented to the Governor on May 28 and signed into law on June 7, 2013. This law now virtually eliminates the ability to depose the banks or to challenge the banks’ allegations of ownership and mortgage status. This switches the burden of proof from plaintiff bankers to the defendant homeowners being sued and is a violation by the government on voluntary, contractual agreements.
This is bad for homeowners not only because it requires a homeowner to show legal defense within 45 days, but because loan modification or short sale of a property is no longer considered a legal defense. The law will dictate to the bank what it will do and this, in turn, will create a rule of mandatory foreclosures. In just the past year – from April, 2012 to March, 2013 – there have been about 103,000 foreclosures in the state.
There are over 700,000 foreclosures backlogged in Florida. This new law will speed up the foreclosure process and will be facilitated by paying retired judiciary employees in a rare situation where unseated judiciary officials will overlook and make legally binding judgments on legal proceedings. Our market will be flooded with property. Property values will go down as a result of such surplus and there will be a rise in the presence of properties that have not been maintained or are condemned and uninhabitable.
Unfortunately, this new law gives all the leverage to the banks and, once a foreclosure proceeding has started, it would become nearly impossible for most citizens to stop it. In fact, even the bank won’t be able to stop it and does nothing to hold banks accountable for bad loans and business practices that led to the housing market bubble burst. We will face an even greater inventory of vacated property and lower property values. Homeowners will pay the price that banks did not because they were bailed out.
The Libertarian Party believes in a free and open market without hindrance from law and regulation. As noted by the Libertarian Party of Florida Legislative Review Committee: “These bills will devastate every property owner throughout the State of Florida and reverse any recovery from reaching the people of Florida in any foreseeable length of time. This could bring about a full collapse in the currently anemic housing market.” Now that those bills are law, we will have to work harder to get back the American dream. It is for this and other reasons that we, as Libertarians, oppose all violations of the right to private property, liberty of contract, and freedom of trade.
Liberty County Sheriff Nick Finch took a stand for the Second Amendment. In response, Governor Rick Scott removed him from office and had him jailed. It’s time for We, The People to stand with Sheriff Finch and let Gov. Scott know that we support Constitutional Sheriffs who uphold their Oath of Office.
Sheriff Finch will be the featured speaker at the Rally, and will have a statement for the public.
We will be holding a rally in Tallahassee on Friday, June 14, 2013 in the courtyard between the old and new State Capitol Buildings. Adrian Wyllie will host the event, and other speakers and details will be announced soon. The event is free and open to the public and media.
Gov. Scott will be formally invited to speak at the rally.
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By Paul Henry
We were requested to research some data recently, and what we found was very interesting. The data in question was campaign donations made by red light camera vendor ATS as well as their use of lobbyists. According to Florida campaign donation records, ATS gave a total of $525,257 in campaign and other donations to political groups between 2008 and 2013. Florida has a relatively transparent system to see who is behind the groups, such as Committees of Continuing Existence.
The (cash) flowchart above can be more easily understood once this data is applied. Depicted above in the lower left is Matthew Montgomery. He’s the $75,000/year
legislative affairs (i.e. government lobbyist) person for the Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles- the government agency that oversees red light cameras and issues an annual undocumented survey about them. According to Florida lobbyist records, before coming to the DHSMV, Mr. Montgomery worked for the Southern Strategy Group lobbying firm representing ATS from 2009 through 2012, when he left to work in the State job. State lobbying records show ATS, who used anywhere from 6 to 9 lobbying firms beginning in 2009 paid this firm as follows (lobbyists file reports in pay ranges, so if a firm was paid $2 or $9,000 it would be in the $1 to 9,999 range, and there are many lobbyists listed for this firm, so it is impossible to show individual compensation):
Florida Sheriff Nicholas Finch Arrested For Upholding 2nd Amendment: Libertarian Party of Florida Condemns Governor Scott
In February of this year, the Libertarian Party of Florida was elated when all 67 county sheriffs in Florida signed a pledge declaring that they would uphold the 2nd Amendment and protect people’s’ right to keep and bear arms. Sheriff Finch of Liberty County was a signatory to the pledge.
When Sheriff Finch observed a deputy sheriff arresting a Liberty County resident for nothing other than carrying a concealed weapon in March, Finch responded as he pledged he would. He decided against infringing on the 2nd Amendment, and made the obligatory decision to release the individual shortly afterwards. A decision that he was well within his right to make.
Tuesday, June 4th, Gov. Rick Scott, who was elected largely in part of his pro 2nd Amendment stance, suspended Finch from office and appointed Carl Causey, of Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s (FDLE) Pensacola Region, as interim sheriff. It was also FDLE who issued a warrant to arrest Sheriff Finch on charges of “official misconduct” which is a 3rd degree felony and punishable to up to 5 years in prison.
Finch’s attorney, Jimmy Judkins, released a statement that read, ”The records at the jail show exactly what happened in this case and the records speak the truth. The sheriff looked at the facts and said ‘I believe in the second amendment and we’re not going to charge him.’ That is not misconduct at all. That is within the Sheriff’s prerogative whether to charge someone or not.” It appears, therefore, that the Florida sheriff was arrested for doing his job.”
The Libertarian Party of Florida, has been a long time vocal proponent for 2nd Amendment rights, and condemn the actions taken by Governor Scott. He has sent a very loud message to all of Floridian’s and Florida Sheriffs, that he does not trust them to do their own job or stand for the rights of the people. It is clear what side he stands on in the debate on the people’s right to protect themselves and it is against the people.
The Libertarian Party of Florida also feels that the citizens of this state need more true Constitutional Sheriffs like Nicholas Finch. We are calling for people around the state to send a clear message to Rick Scott. That this intrusion on our rights will not be tolerated.