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Speaker John Boehner Says House Should Vote on ISIS War but Refuses to Allow Vote While the United States Constitution says authority over declaring and funding war resides in the Congress, US House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner refuses to allow a House vote regarding congressional authorization of the war on ISIS. Boehner says he disagrees with how President Barack Obama is pursuing the war. Boehner also says the House should vote on the war. But instead of calling a vote on the war — something Boehner could have done any time during the war’s escalation — Boehner just waits for the president to present him with a resolution that Boehner, like a diligent servant, promises to promptly put on the House floor for a vote.

30 September 2014read on...

Dennis Kucinich Drops In On Hemp Activists at US Capitol
Industrial hemp activists from around the country visited United States Representatives’ and Senators’ offices in Washington, DC this week to make the case for repealing decades-old US government restrictions related to the plant. When the activists were meeting together after their congressional office visits, RPI Advisory Board Member and former US Rep. Dennis Kucinich dropped in and offered some comments regarding hemp.

25 September 2014read on...

Rep. Walter Jones: Don't Arm 'Moderates' in Syria!
Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) has just released a statement strongly opposing the McKeon Amendment to the Continuing Resolution (HJ Res 124) scheduled for a vote today. The amendment would grant Congressional approval for the president's plan to arm and train "moderate" rebels fighting in Syria to overthrow the Assad government. Repeating the words of a former US Marine Commandant, Rep. Jones asks, "are we arming another Taliban?"

17 September 2014read on...

Prof. Peter Kraska’s Police Militarization Testimony for the US Senate Homeland Security Committee
The following is the informative and thought-provoking written testimony of Eastern Kentucky University Professor Peter B. Kraska for the United States Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s Tuesday hearing “Oversight of Federal Programs for Equipping State and Local Law Enforcement”...

10 September 2014read on...

Here Comes Increased Deficit Spending to Fight IS
You might think that, with the US government debt increasing year after year and bloated US military spending nearly equal to the combined military spending of the rest of the world, the US government would try to find a way to fight the Islamic State without increasing spending. Supposing the US government proceeds with further escalating yet another Middle East war, couldn’t President Barack Obama and Congress at least work together to pay the bill by transferring billions of spare dollars from elsewhere in the vast and wasteful US military and intelligence budgets? How about starting by canning the US government’s mass spying program?

27 August 2014read on...

Rep. Walter Jones and Ron Paul on the Saudi Arabia-Bush Administration 9/11 Cover-Up
“The American People have the right to know the truth and to know the relationship with the Saudis at the time of the Bush administration,” declared Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) in a Monday discussion with Ron Paul on the Ron Paul Channel. Jones made the comment in support of his US House of Representatives legislation H.Res. 428 that seeks the declassification of 28 pages redacted from a joint House and Senate Intelligence Committees report regarding the attacks on America on September 11, 2001.

18 August 2014read on...

House and Senate Leaders Line Up Behind Obama on Bombing Iraq President Barack Obama is encountering no opposition from the top four Democrat and Republican leaders in the House and Senate as he escalates US military action in Iraq with new bombings.

US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has chosen not to comment regarding the matter, just as he did last year regarding a potential US military attack on Syria until he announced his opposition the same day Obama called off the planned attack. The other three top Republican and Democrat leaders in both chambers of Congress have all issued statements supporting the US military’s ongoing bombings in Iraq.

11 August 2014read on...

No Dissent Heard as House and Senate Quickly Approve $225 million for Israel War On Friday, the last day before the annual congressional August recess, new legislation (H.J.Res. 76) was introduced on the US Senate floor and rushed to passage in both the Senate and US House. The legislation gives the Israel government another $225 million dollars for the Iron Dome system Israel is using in the ongoing Israel-Palestine war.

4 August 2014read on...

Eric Cantor Leaving US House for Wall Street Millions?
Did former US House of Representatives Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) announce his resignation from the House so he can speed up private negotiations to make the big bucks in the financial industry? That is the suggestion of a new Politico article.

2 August 2014read on...

Former Commission Heads Endorse Rep. Walter Jones' 9/11 Declassification Bill
Answering an audience member’s question at a July 22 Washington, DC event, Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton — who were, respectively, the chair and vice-chair of the 9/11 Commission that published its report ten years ago this month—spoke in favor of making public 28 redacted pages in the December 2002 report of a joint House and Senate Intelligence Committees investigation of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Kean and Hamilton have thus endorsed the call in Rep. Walter Jones’ H.Res. 428 for the president to make public these pages of the congressional report that have been redacted for over 11 years.

31 July 2014read on...

Congress Alert

Sen. Ron Wyden Warns of Fake Surveillance Reform and the Economic Harm of US Mass Spying


Ron Wyden

US Sen. Ron Wyden, in a Guardian article he wrote based on his speech at a Cato Institute event this week, reinforces RPI's warnings that efforts to reform the US government mass spying program "provide an excellent opportunity to make bad legislation worse" and that the spying "threatens American companies' business prospects in the international marketplace."

Wyden first warns that the "business-as-usual-brigade" will do everything it can to prevent the realization of pro-liberty curtailments of the mass spying program. Wyden comments in the Guardian article:

I know these issues will be discussed here today, so I'll start with my bottom line: the goal of our bipartisan bill is to set the bar for measuring meaningful intelligence reform. We wanted to put this marker down early because we know in the months ahead we will be up against a "business-as-usual brigade" – made up of influential members of the government's intelligence leadership, their allies in thinktanks and academia, retired government officials, and sympathetic legislators. Their game plan? Try mightily to fog up the surveillance debate and convince the Congress and the public that the real problem here is not overly intrusive, constitutionally flawed domestic surveillance, but sensationalistic media reporting. Their end game is ensuring that any surveillance reforms are only skin-deep.

Some of the "business as usual" arguments have something of an Alice in Wonderland flavor. We have heard that surveillance of Americans' phone records, aka metadata, is not actually surveillance at all – it's simply the collection of bits of information. We've been told that falsehoods aren't falsehoods – they are simply imprecise statements. We've been told that rules that have been repeatedly broken are a valuable check on government overreach. And we've been told that codifying secret surveillance laws and making them public surveillance laws is the same as actually reforming these overreaching surveillance programs. It's not.

These arguments, of course, leave the public with a distorted picture of what their government is actually up to. Those tiny bits of information, when put together, paint an illuminating picture of what the private lives of law-abiding Americans are like. Erroneous statements that are made on the public record but never corrected mislead the public and often members of Congress, as well. Privacy protections that don't actually protect privacy are not worth the paper they are printed on; and just because intelligence officials say that a particular program helps catch terrorists doesn't make it true.

Still, Wyden sees reason for optimism in the close House of Representatives vote on the US Reps. Justin Amash and John Conyers defense appropriations amendment to restrict spying. The key to curtailing the US mass spying program, according to Wyden, is "grassroots support from lots of Americans across the political spectrum who let their members of Congress know that they want both their security and their liberty to be protected, and that 'business as usual' is no longer OK."

In addition to infringing liberty, Wyden warns that the mass spying program is also undermining the competitiveness of American companies:

But the effects of constitutionally flawed, overly intrusive surveillance programs go beyond the intrusion on Americans' privacy. American companies that are believed to have been the subject of government surveillance orders are taking a major hit internationally and here at home. This is a serious economic issue. We live in a global marketplace and American digital companies compete on a global playing field to a degree that was unheard of ten years ago. If they start to lose ground to foreign competition, it will put tens of thousands of high paying jobs at serious risk.

If a foreign enemy were doing this much damage to our economy, people would be out in the street with pitchforks. These companies are now filing lawsuits to force the government to allow them to release more information about how many surveillance orders they have received, in an attempt to repair some of the damage that has been caused.

Just within the last week, I was talking to a company president from one of America's leading digital service companies, and the first thing this executive said to me was what a big impact this unchecked domestic surveillance was having on that company. To be fair, I don't expect NSA officials to spend their time thinking about the economic impact that unrestrained surveillance can have, but the policymakers who sign off on these over-broad surveillance programs should absolutely be thinking about the impact that these programs can have on American jobs, and on trust for American companies around the world.

Read Wyden's entire article here.


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