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You Can't Opt Out: 10 NSA Myths Debunked

The debate Edward Snowden envisioned when he revealed the extent of National Security Agency (NSA) spying on Americans has taken a bad turn. Instead of a careful examination of what the NSA does, the legality of its actions, what risks it takes for what gains, and how effective the agency has been in its stated mission of protecting Americans, we increasingly have government officials or retired versions of the same demanding -- quite literally -- Snowden’s head and engaging in the usual fear-mongering over 9/11. They have been aided by a chorus of pundits, columnists, and present as well as former officials offering bumper-sticker slogans like "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear," all the while claiming our freedom is in direct conflict with our security.

It’s time to face these arguments directly. So here are ten myths about NSA surveillance that need debunking. Let's sort them out.
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Judge Napolitano on NSA Using Radio Waves to Track and Attack Computers

Judge Andrew Napolitano discusses with host Shepard Smith on Fox News the New York Times report that the National Security Agency has surreptitiously installed devices in nearly 100,000 computers so the agency can use radio waves to spy on and alter data in the computers – even if the computers are not connected to the internet. Napolitano, an RPI Advisory Board member, examines the new revelations and Congress’s ongoing failure to end the mass spying.
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‘We Need Iran in Geneva to Stop Spread of Terror Throughout Middle East’

Kerry Iran Talks

Iran could bring to Geneva-2 its good relations with Assad, Iraq and Turkey, which are necessary for a political solution, Hillary Mann Leverett, author and expert on Iran, told RT.

RT: The UN Secretary-General has just reiterated his support for Iran being at Geneva-2. Since it's an UN-sponsored event, is that enough to make that happen or not?

Hillary Mann Leverett: Unfortunately, at this point it’s not. At this point both Russia and the United States have the veto power on who may attend, on which delegations may attend. [Russia is for Iran] but the US is not. At this point the US is blocking Iran’s participation.

RT: Yesterday the US Secretary of State John Kerry as good as invited Iran to take part. Yet back home a few hours later, the State Department laughed off any such invitation. Why the mixed signals, do you think?

HML: I don’t know [if] he messed up. I think what it demonstrates is the real incoherence in strategy and policy coming out of Washington, London and Paris, which seeks to somehow not just have negotiation, but to have essentially a table where Syria just comes to surrender. And that’s not something Syria is going to do, it’s not something Iran is going to support. I don’t think that’s something Russia or the vast majority of the countries around the world would support, but that’s essentially what Washington, London and Paris are trying to do. But it tends to be incoherent because it’s just not possible.
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A Tipping Point For Liberty Against Leviathan

Leviathan

Continuing revelations of the extensive scope of the US government’s mass spying program, piled on top of decades of foreign intervention and liberty suppression at home, can lead Americans to question if they should give up their work for peace and liberty. Nevertheless, there is reason for hope that pursuing this work will yield success.

Speaking with host Neil Cavuto on Fox Business, RPI Advisory Board Member Andrew Napolitano warns that the US government has established a mass spying program so invasive that "we are close to a generation of Americans who will not even know what privacy means because they will grow up in a society in which everything they do from the moment of their birth -- no matter how intimate or private the moment --will be monitored by the government, and they will accept that."

Napolitano explains that even when the crisis used to justify the government intrusion passes, "the freedom doesn’t come back or, if it does, it doesn’t come back all the way, and then that surrender is used by future generations of government as precedent for asking for more surrender of freedom."
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Who's To Blame For More Violence Against Afghan Women?

Hillary Afghan

The plight of Afghan women is in the news again. In December, Reuters warned that "(a)larm rises for Afghan women prisoners after Western troops leave," and Macleans published a plea from Afghan parliamentarian and women’s rights advocate Fawzia Koofi, for Western troops to remain in her country.  

Earlier this month, Russia Today reported that:

Violent crimes against women in Afghanistan reached an unprecedented level of brutality in 2013, an Afghan human rights watchdog has announced as the US-led coalition prepares to withdraw.

Chair of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), Sima Samar, told Reuters that the pace and the hideousness of attacks on women intensified in 2013 with a 25 per cent surge in cases from March through September.

'The brutality of the cases is really bad. Cutting the nose, lips and ears. Committing public rape,' Samar said. 'Mass rape... It's against dignity, against humanity.’

The spokeswoman noted that as the withdrawal deadline draws near for international troops, women in tribal areas are less protected, leaving them vulnerable to violent assaults.

’The presence of the international community and provincial reconstruction teams in most of the provinces was giving people confidence,’ Samar said. 'There were people there trying to protect women. And that is not there anymore, unfortunately.'

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Is Obama Trying to Resolve or Prolong the Conflict in Syria?

Obamasyria1

Suppose a great power declares that it supports a peace process aimed at finding a political solution to a terrible, ongoing conflict.  Then suppose that this great power makes such declarations after it has already proclaimed its strong interest in the defeat of one of the main parties to said conflict.  And then suppose that this great power insists on preconditions for a peace process — preconditions effectively boiling down to a demand for pre-emptive surrender by the party whose defeat the great power has already identified as its major goal — which render such a process impossible.  Is it not reasonable to conclude that the great power in question is (how to put this gently) lying about its purported support for peace?

That, in a nutshell, is the Obama administration’s posture toward the ongoing conflict in Syria.

Earlier this week, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon began sending out invitations for the Geneva II conference on Syria scheduled for January 22.  And, as Ban’s spokesperson acknowledged, the Islamic Republic of Iran was not among the “first round” of nations asked to take part.
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Congress Defers to President On NSA Reform

Congress’s decline from the Founders’ vision as “first among equals” in government to an echo chamber of the unitary executive, has been a slow but steady process. In the process we have seen a steady stream of unconstitutional wars and civil liberties abuses at home. Nowhere is this decline more evident than in the stark contrast between the Congressional response to intelligence agencies’ abuses during the post-Watergate era and its response to the far more serious NSA abuses uncovered in recent years.
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Al-Qaeda is Everywhere!

Osama

How did al-Qaeda, a tiny anti-Communist group in Afghanistan that had no more than 200 active members in 2001 become a supposed worldwide threat?

How can al-Qaida be all over the Mideast, North Africa, and now much of black Africa? This after the US spent over $1 trillion trying to stamp out al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

The answer is simple. As an organization and threat, al-Qaeda barely exists. But as a name, al-Qaeda and “terrorism” have become the west’s handy universal term for armed groups fighting western influence, corruption or repression in Asia and Africa. Al-Qaeda is nowhere  but everywhere.

If you’re a rebel group seeking publicity, the fastest way is by pledging allegiance to the shadowy, nowhere al-Qaeda.

Take Iraq, where fighting currently rages between the Shia government and Sunni militias in Anbar Province. Interestingly, the Sunni uprising is centered on Fallujah, which was almost flattened by US Marines and blasted apart by depleted uranium shells and illegal white phosphorus as a dire warning to Iraqis who resisted.
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In Defense of Dennis Rodman

Rodman

Dennis Rodman is one strange dude.

I once visited a club he had in Chicago, during the days of the Michael Jordan led Chicago Bulls championship years. The crowd was the strangest crowd I have ever seen in my life. It looked like a convention of a secret transvestite subchapter of the Hell’s Angels.

Despite his strangeness, Rodman did have an influence on the nation by being the first to cover his body with tattoos. For whatever reason, millions have followed Rodman into getting inked-up bodies. Prior to Rodman’s tattoos, they were mostly worn just by merchant sailors — and only one, on the arm.

But Rodman, his pro basketball playing days well behind him, is now in the national spotlight for playing exhibition games in North Korea at the invitation of NK’s leader, the crazed Kim Jong-un.
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Morality versus the National Security State

One of the horrible consequences of the national-security state apparatus that was grafted onto America’s governmental system is how it has oftentimes placed Americans in the position of choosing between morality and obedience to the law.

Just this week, we have been reminded of the conflict between morality and law back in 1971, during the height of the Cold War, the “war” that was used to justify the existence of the national-security state apparatus in the first place.

The federal government was illegally targeting American citizens who were protesting and demonstrating against the national-security state’s war in Vietnam. In a free society, people are free to protest and demonstrate against anything they want.  Freedom entails letting the government know that one is opposed to what it is doing. Freedom entails having the right to persuade government that it is doing wrong and to change direction. Freedom entails persuading other people to take a stand against government wrongdoing.
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