House Intelligence Committee Kept Briefing on Domestic Spying to Itself Before Patriot Act Renewal Vote

Throughout the domestic spying scandal I’ve grumbled that if congress had carried out their oversight duties correctly we wouldn’t be looking at the current NSA mess, but would have had a smaller scandal a decade ago and cleaned it up. Now we learn that the House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers concealed a document meant for all members of the House talking about the NSA’s activities before the vote on renewing the Patriot Act. The Senate, on the other hand, received the classified briefing meant for those not on the Intelligence committee.

Amash told the Guardian on Monday that he had confirmed with the House intelligence committee that the committee did not make non-committee members aware of the classified overview from 2011 of the bulk phone records collection program first revealed by the Guardian thanks to whistleblower Edward Snowden. The document was expressly designed to be shared with legislators who did not serve on the panel; it appears that a corresponding document for the Senate in 2011 was made available to all senators.

So now we have a multifold scandal involving failure of congressional oversight.

1. The chairman and ranking member withheld documents meant to brief the House.

2. The members of the House Intelligence Committee knew about domestic spying but did not alert the public.

3. The members of the House Intelligence Committee knew about domestic spying and voted for the Patriot Act in 2011.

4. The members of the Senate received a document briefing them on domestic spying but a did not call hearings at the time or alert the public.

5. The members of the Senate received a document briefing them on domestic spying but a majority voted to renew the Patriot Act anyway.

Cleaning out a lot of members of congress from both parties is long overdue.

July 20, 1969 – The Eagle Has Landed

On this day in 1969 the Eagle (the LEM, or Lunar Excursion Module of the Apollo 11) landed on the moon. A few hours later two men got out, walked around, took pictures, and collected samples. Later they would abandon the craft that had landed on the moon, return to the earth in the command module named “Columbia,” and spend weeks in quarantine in case they had brought back something unexpected.

I grew up knowing we were going to the moon, and that the lunar trip was only the start of mankind’s Great Adventure. One of my few memories of one grandfather is him taking me outside where we were visiting him in Baltimore. He’d seen in the paper that a sputnik was going to pass over that night, so Grandpa, Dad, and me went out in the yard to watch for it. (No, spelling “sputnik” that way wasn’t an error. The first two artificial satellites were Sputnik 1 and Sputnik 2. By the time the US launched Explorer 1 people said that America had finally launched a sputnik. For around three years, until JFK announced the race to the moon, “sputnik” was a generic term for “artificial satellite.” Dad and Grandpa even discussed whether that particular sputnik was ours or theirs, though I don’t remember if they settled that question.)

I learned about space and the space program in school.  ”Apogee” and “perigee” were spelling and vocabulary words in elementary school. We got new math and science books to prepare us for our part in the new age of discovery that we would be a continuing part of. I had ViewMaster stereo slides that showed me in 3D what each step of the lunar mission would be like made by taking pictures of models at least five years before Apollo 11. And to top it all off, I read science fiction. (My Junior High librarian was a Fan, and took great delight in recruiting new fans. She’d hook us with space opera, then feed us the Good Stuff later.) So I knew about space, with all the lofty disdain any teen can manage for his poor unenlightened elders.

But that day, my family, like everyone we knew and hundreds of millions around the world glued to a TV. My parents were excited at each step.

“That rocket ship is going to the moon!”
“Yes, we know. Just like the last one.” 
“But they’re going to LAND!”
“I know, Mom.”

I always felt sorry for the crew of Apollo 10. They flew all the way out to the moon,  did all the stuff to verify that the LEM could still be detached after all that time in space, then looped around and came back to Earth without ever landing. I secretly rooted for them to disobey, and take their LEM down to the surface. How was anybody going to stop them from Houston?

But then Eagle actually started down, and somehow I lost my jaded teenaged attitude. When Neil Armstrong took manual control I held my breath with everyone else. The fuel held out, with 25 seconds worth to spare. Then came the magic words:

“Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

I gave out a whoop, but I don’t know if anyone else noticed, as they were all cheering too. A minute later a car horn started blaring down the street somewhere, joined shortly by others, the popping of a few illegal firecrackers probably smuggled up from Tijuana and left over from Independence Day. It was real.

More dull time while we waited for the astronauts to come out. What? They get to the moon and the first thing they want to do is EAT?

I got bored waiting for the astronauts to come out, but wasn’t permitted to go read.

“Those are TV pictures from the MOON!”
“I know Mom, I saw them land.”
“But it’s THE MOON!”

So we watched Walter Cronkite and the other newsmen interview each other (did you think that was new?), discuss what was next, show wall charts and animations of what had happened so far, what hadn’t gone wrong, what would be next, and what would happen in coming days. Sometimes we were looking at studio shots, sometimes mission control, sometimes at video from Eagle (FROM THE MOON!)

Then Neil Armstrong climbed down the ladder, and stepped off of the landing pad.

“That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”  [Cue forty-odd years of arguing over whether the "a" was there and got lost in transmission or not.]

We’d done it. We’d set foot on another body in the solar system. The Great Adventure had begun.

Civitas Institute Discovers “Moral Monday” Should Be “Money Monday”

You may have read news items about protesters showing up in Raleigh at the North Carolina state capitol on Mondays for what they call “Moral Monday,” The protests regularly lead to arrests, which is intentional. As at many such leftist protests they have it down to a science, with a sign up sheet for those who plan to get arrested. This helps insure that they don’t accidentally forget to bail anyone out. The costs for police and sheriff’s deputies are adding up, according to WNCN:

Since the protests began in April, more than 700 people have been arrested at the Legislative Building as a form of civil disobedience. But the demonstrations, and subsequently the arrests, do not come without a price.

So far, state Capitol Police has spent $22,000 covering the protests. That is in addition to $43,000 by the Wake County Sheriff’s Office and $69,000 by the Raleigh Police.

The $134,000 grand total does not include the money spent by the General Assembly Police.

The Civitas Institute has found that instead of “Moral Monday” a better name might be “Money Monday.” The umbrella organization that organizes the protests contains groups that have received over $100,000,000 in direct state grants in recent years. (Yes, over one hundred million dollars in direct grants.) But that’s not all.

The money trail doesn’t stop there. Civitas discovered an additional $8.7 million from pass-through grant money given to HKonJ organizations by state-funded nonprofits from 2009 to 2012. The Golden Leaf Foundation and the Rural Economic Development Center (now under review for possible misuse of state funds) funneled taxpayer money to these liberal organizers.

To put a cherry on top, Civitas identified ten leaders of the organizations that get six figure paychecks from the nonprofits that got direct state grants. (Scroll to the bottom of the linked PDF document for that list.)

As Francis De Lucca of Civitas so ably sums it up:

When you follow the money, you see that this isn’t about morality at all. It isn’t about the high-minded virtues of justice, or equality. It’s about politics: liberal organizers have depended for years on the largess of an insolvent and bloated state bureaucracy. And as state legislators move to address rampant waste and debt in state government – something the people of North Carolina elected them to do – liberal groups fear that they are about to lose their spot at the public trough.

I thought that Moral Monday was about Democrats who were upset that both houses of the North Carolina legislature and the governor’s office were all in Republican hands at the same time for the first time since Reconstruction. But it was more than simple partisan politics. Moral Monday is about money, and the power that comes from redistributing it.

I’ll be on “The Snark Factor” on Tonight at 8 Eastern

Most of the time I do geeky things behind the scenes at FTR Radio so that our regular hosts can be heard. But as you may have noticed from other posts here I’m interested in firearms, the Second Amendment, and gun control. Tonight Fingers Malloy is giving me a chance to talk a little about that.

I hope you’ll wander on over to tonight at 8 pm Eastern to have a listen. The chat room will be open if you want to join in chat during the show. (Don’t use a password, that’s only for moderators right now.) While you’re there check out the schedule; we have programs running 24 hours a day.


Suspect in St. Louis School Shooting Was Prohibited from Having Guns

Via @littlebytesnews we learn that the suspect in the Saint Louis school shooting was a prohibited person, one who under Federal law may not possess a gun or ammunition. Having either one can get you 10 years in prison.

 Johnson was wanted for allegedly violating the terms of his parole in a 2009 attack on a cab driver in St. Louis County. The driver, 53-year-old Belete Mekuria, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Johnson smelled of alcohol after he was picked up at Lambert Airport, so Mekuria asked for $60 up front.

Johnson paid, but later reached into a shoe and pulled out a box cutter. Mekuria said he caught Johnson’s hand and pinned him down as the cab hit a median barrier on Interstate 70. The men were still scuffling when police arrived.

Johnson pleaded guilty to reduced charges of unlawful use of a weapon and second-degree assault. At a hearing in 2011 he was placed on probation for five years and ordered to take medication for an unspecified mental illness. His attorney, Eric Barnhart, declined to discuss the mental health issue. But he said Johnson was a productive member of society only when he was on his medication.

A judge ruled on May 21 that Johnson violated his probation — court records don’t indicate why. An arrest warrant was issued three days later, but Johnson was never taken into custody. St. Louis police didn’t respond to several messages requesting an interview.

So he was already prohibited firearms and ammunition under Federal law as a criminal and a fugitive from justice.  It’s not clear if he was judged insane under the strict definitions of the law, but court ordered medication for mental illness would tend to argue that he might have been. But whether he met the legal definition of insane or not he was clearly a mentally disturbed person who was not legally permitted a gun under current laws.

You can read the whole story here:

Suspect in St. Louis school shooting had warrant – Yahoo! News.


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