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Free Speech, Facebook and the NSA: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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THE GOOD NEWS
: Americans have a right to freely express themselves on the Internet, including making threatening—even violent—statements on Facebook, provided that they don’t intend to actually inflict harm.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in Elonis v. United States threw out the conviction of a Pennsylvania man who was charged with making unlawful threats (it was never proven that he intended to threaten anyone) and sentenced to 44 months in jail after he posted allusions to popular rap lyrics and comedy routines on his Facebook page. It’s a ruling that has First Amendment implications for where the government can draw the line when it comes to provocative and controversial speech that is protected and permissible versus speech that could be interpreted as connoting a criminal intent.

That same day, Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, the legal justification allowing the National Security Agency (NSA) to carry out warrantless surveillance on Americans, officially expired. Over the course of nearly a decade, if not more, theNSA had covertly spied on millions of Americans, many of whom were guilty of nothing more than using a telephone, and stored their records in government databases. For those who have been fighting the uphill battle against the NSA’s domestic spying program, it was a small but symbolic victory.
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Insanity’s Definition is Sending More US Ground Troops to Iraq

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There seems to be great Republican resistance to the idea that their interventions in Iraq and the Muslim world are the main cause of both the mess in Iraq and the growing and increasingly powerful worldwide Islamist movement. To the extent that Hillary Clinton and other Democratic senators and congressmen joined the Republicans in illegally delegating the war-declaring power to George W. Bush there is a point to the Republicans’ resistance. The correct formulation of the statement is that both parties are equally responsible for the mess in Iraq and for the formidable Islamist foe that now exists. Also a correct statement is that the bulk of both parties now want the United States to become an even stronger motivator of and recruiter for the Islamists by expanding the military re-intervention in Iraq that began in the summer of 2014. Before that occurs it would be best to review a few facts:

The 2003 invasion of Iraq was approved by both parties and driven by the Neoconservatives in both parties. There was no need for a war in Iraq. Even if Saddam Hussein had WMD he was not a threat to the United States, and because we have none but parasitic allies in the Middle East, we needed to let them fend for themselves. (NB: We need to do this now.)

Saddam Hussein was our best ally in the war against the Sunni Islamists, an ally that we did not have to cajole, pay, or urge to act against the Sunni militants. That he diddled around with and funded the Palestinian fighters is true, but he was reliably lethal — for his government’s own interests — when it came to killing mujahedin trying to transit or set up shop in Iraq. Without Saddam to hold the center of the Arab world and block the insurgents’ easy east-west movement, we now have a mujahedin theater of operations that extends from Morocco on the Atlantic, to Jakarta in the Pacific, and from the North Caucasus in the north, to Nigeria in the south.
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Soros Seeks to Expand War in Ukraine...Why?

Hacked emails show billionaire George Soros is fighting to save the US-backed president of Ukraine. He promised President Poroshenko to call up US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and ask for some more money for Ukraine. He is demanding that the US start supplying weapons to Ukraine to attack separatists in the east. Tune in to the Liberty Report for more on why this super powerful mogul is playing the region like a chessboard...
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ISIS, Assad Regime Now Fighting Together In Syria, US Alleges

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When last we checked in on the situation in Syria, ISIS (who a secret Pentagon document recently revealed was, and probably still is, considered a US “strategic asset”) was supposedly on the move, emboldened by recent successes in the ancient city of Palmyra and the conquest of Ramadi in Iraq, where, you’re reminded, Iraqi forces showed “no will” to fight according the Pentagon. 

Recent reports also indicated that the militants may have commandeered 2,300 humvees worth more than $1 billion when the group sacked Mosul last summer, a convenient “loss” for the US which can now justify four times that amount in arms sales to allies who will now need to counter a ‘better-equipped’ ISIS. 

On the heels of Palmyra, Ramadi, and a suicide bombing at a Saudi mosque, the US military  and Congressional war hawks have ratcheted up the calls for American boots on the ground in Iraq.
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TSA is The Danger - 95% Fail Rate

Just after the acting administrator of the TSA told Congress what a great job his agency is doing at keeping Americans safe, an internal investigation into the TSA found that agents failed to detect mock bombs 95 percent of the time. Perhaps they were too busy stealing things from our suitcases? Today the Ron Paul Liberty Report takes a look at the failed TSA and the failed approach of depending on the government to keep us safe...
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Hope for Iraq? Depends on What You’re Hoping For…

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Is there hope for Iraq? It depends on what you are hoping for.

It is becoming clearer that there is little hope of destroying Islamic State in Iraq. Islamic State has no shortage of new recruits. Its fighters capture heavy weapons with such ease that the United States is forced to direct air strikes against equipment abandoned by the Iraqis — even as it ships in more. Islamic State holds territory that will allow it to trade land for time, morph into an insurgency and preserve its forces by pulling back into Syrian territory it controls even if Iraq’s government, with Iranian and American help, launches a major assault.

Islamic State maintains support among Iraq’s Sunnis. The more the Shi’ites align against it, the more Sunnis see no other choice but to support Islamic State, as they did al Qaeda after the American invasion in 2003. Stories from Tikrit, where Shi’ite militia-led forces defeated Islamic State, describe “a ghost town ruled by gunmen.” There are other reports of ethnic cleansing in the Euphrates Valley town of Jurf al-Sakhar. Absent a unified Iraq, there will always be an al Qaeda, an Islamic State or another iteration of it to defend the Sunnis.
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The CIA: Providing Security or Threatening Liberty?

Last night parts of the PATRIOT Act expired, but it is only a matter of days before Congress passes a new PATRIOT Act -- this time called the FREEDOM Act. As the saying goes, the PATRIOT Act was to real patriotism as the FREEDOM Act is to real freedom. The only real "reform" would be going back to the Constitution, which is the law of the land. The NSA and CIA comprise the secret US government that is the greatest threat to our freedom and liberty. Today's Liberty Report takes a look the CIA's damaging role in the US and the rest of the world...
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Ex-Im Bank is Welfare for the One Percent

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This month Congress will consider whether to renew the charter of the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank). Ex-Im Bank is a New Deal-era federal program that uses taxpayer funds to subsidize the exports of American businesses. Foreign businesses, including state-owned corporations, also benefit from Ex-Im Bank. One country that has benefited from $1.5 billion of Ex-Im Bank loans is Russia. Venezuela, Pakistan, and China have also benefited from Ex-Im Bank loans.

With Ex-Im Bank’s track record of supporting countries that supposedly represent a threat to the US, one might expect neoconservatives, hawkish liberals, and other supporters of foreign intervention to be leading the effort to kill Ex-Im Bank. Yet, in an act of hypocrisy remarkable even by DC standards, many hawkish politicians, journalists, and foreign policy experts oppose ending Ex-Im Bank.
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Will Congress Save PATRIOT Act...And Does It Matter?

Portions of the PATRIOT Act are set to expire Sunday at midnight unless Congress finds a way to extend them. What might we expect from the race to maintain the NSA's bulk collection of our telecommunications? And if somehow those provisions expire, does it mean that the NSA will stop spying on us? Tune in to the Ron Paul Liberty Report with special guest Norman Singleton, formerly Dr. Paul's legislative director on Capitol Hill, for a breakdown of the expected Hill action...
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Whether in the USSR or USSA, Politicians Come and Go — But the Security Organs Remain

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“Hey, guys, we’ll be here long after you are gone,” 
gloated a high-ranking CIA official during a hearing of the US Senate’s “Church Committee” investigation of illegal domestic intelligence operations forty years ago. What this meant, according to Peter Fenn, Senator Church’s Chief of Staff, “was, `we’ll wait you out.'”

Church, an Idaho Democrat who briefly ran for his party’s presidential nomination in 1976, had served in Army Intelligence during World War II and had supported the disastrous Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1965. As today’s Idaho Statesman recounts, Church took the initiative in creating the Senate panel — formally known as the Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities — after reading Seymour Hersh’s December 1974 revelations regarding the CIA’s criminal conduct on the domestic front.

Rod Gramer, author of a biography of Church, points out that the senator was outraged to see the US government “engaging in tactics he associated with the Soviet KGB.
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