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Making the World the 'Enemy'

NDAA

Edward Snowden, the admitted U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower, is charged with violations of the U.S. Espionage Act of 1917, codified under Chapter 37, “Espionage and Censorship.” It is seemingly not an oversight that Chapter 37 is entitled “Espionage and Censorship,” as censorship is the effect, in part, of this chapter.

In fact, the amendment of §793 that added subsection (e) was part of the Subversive Activities Control Act of 1950, which was, in turn, Title I of the Internal Security Act of 1950. In addition, these statutes were initially passed as the U.S. was entering World War I, with what was called the Sedition Act of 1918 added as amendments to the Espionage Act in short order.

They were codifications into federal law of what had been put into practice during the previous major war the U.S. fought, its own Civil War, codifying such martial law offenses as “corresponding with” or “aiding” the enemy by such acts as “mail carrying across the lines.” [See 1880 JAG Digest, W. Winthrop, attached to Prosecutors Brief.]
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The West Strikes Back in Syria

Syria Gun Rebels

No sooner than the United Nations chemical weapons inspectors arrived in Damascus – within 72 hours, in fact – the Syrian opposition figures based in Istanbul, Turkey, have claimed that up to 1400 people have been killed in chemical weapons attacks by the government forces on the outskirts of the Syrian capital on Wednesday morning. 

The United States, Britain, France, Germany, the European Union and the Arab League are among those who have demanded for urgent action. 

Unsurprisingly, the Syrian government itself has strongly refuted the allegation calling it a "dirty" media war, which reflected the "hysteria, disorder and breakdown" of the rebels who have suffered a string of devastating military defeats in the recent days and weeks.

What is the game plan? One vital clue lies in the appointment of the Swedish expert Ake Sellstrom as the head of the UN team that landed in Damascus three days ago. Sellstrom served in the select band of UN weapon inspectors in Iraq…
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The NSA: ‘The Abyss from Which There Is No Return'

Teufelsberg
“The National Security Agency’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. If a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A. could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.”—Senator Frank Church (1975)
We now find ourselves operating in a strange paradigm where the government not only views the citizenry as suspects but treats them as suspects, as well. Thus, the news that the National Security Agency (NSA) is routinely operating outside of the law and overstepping its legal authority by carrying out surveillance on American citizens is not really much of a surprise. This is what happens when you give the government broad powers and allow government agencies to routinely sidestep the Constitution.
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Should You Be Able to Buy Food Directly From Farmers? The Government Doesn’t Think So

Cows

This would seem to embody the USDA’s advisory, “Know your farmer, know your food,” right? Not exactly.

For the USDA and its sister food regulator, the FDA, there’s a problem: many of the farmers are distributing the food via private contracts like herd shares and leasing arrangements, which fall outside the regulatory system of state and local retail licenses and inspections that govern public food sales.

In response, federal and state regulators are seeking legal sanctions against farmers in Maine, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and California, among others. These sanctions include injunctions, fines, and even prison sentences. Food sold by unlicensed and uninspected farmers is potentially dangerous say the regulators, since it can carry pathogens like salmonella, campylobacter, and E.coli O157:H7, leading to mild or even serious illness.
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Why The 2,776 NSA Violations Are No Big Deal

Thanks to more documents leaked by Edward Snowden, this time to the Washington Post, we learned last week that a secret May 2012 internal audit by the NSA revealed 2,776 incidents of “unauthorized” collection of information on American citizens over the previous 12 months. They are routinely breaking their own rules and covering it up.

The Post article quotes an NSA spokesman assuring the paper that the NSA attempts to identify such problems “at the earliest possible moment.” But what happened to all those communications intercepted improperly in the meantime? The answer is, they were logged and stored anyway.
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NSA 'Violations' Irrelevant

Though it made for sensational headlines last week, the 2,776 NSA violations of its own intercept guidelines over the course of one year are irrelevant. The millions and millions of “authorized” intercepts of our communications are all illegal -- except for the very few carried out in pursuit of a validly-issued search warrant in accordance with the Fourth Amendment. That is the real story. Drawing our attention to the violations unfortunately sends the message that the “authorized” spying on us is nothing to be concerned about.
More on this in my weekly column out tomorrow.
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Storm on the Nile

Clashes In Cairo In December Moud Barthez

Egypt’s US-financed armed forces have gone to war against Egypt’s people. Arab spring has become Arab winter.

So far, army and security police have scored brilliant battlefield victories against unarmed men, women and children, killing and wounding thousands who were demanding a return to democratic government.

The latest Cairo protests by supporters of the elected Morsi government have been scattered by gunfire and huge armored bulldozers resembling the giant vehicles used by Israel to smash Palestinian barricades and protesters. All Egyptians opposing the Sisi dictatorship are now officially, “terrorists.”

Egypt’s generals and hard right Mubarakist supporters have ditched any pretense of civilian government and now rely on the bayonet and tank. The men with the guns make the rules.
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