Michael J. “Mike” Rogers, a Republican Congressman from Michigan, is a traitor and outright liar. One of many examples of this is his claim the NSA is not listening to phone calls.
On Sunday’s (June 16, 2013) “State of the Union” on CNN, Mike Rogers as head of the House Intelligence Committee, insisted that although there have been allegations made to contrary, the National Security Agency isn’t listening in on Americans’ personal communications.
“I can’t tell you how strong we need to make this clear,” Rogers said. “The NSA is not listening to Americans’ phone calls, and it is not monitoring their emails. If it did, it’s illegal. It’s breaking the law.”
Obviously in Mr. Rogers neighborhood, the truth means the opposite. It’s already been revealed that Obama’s NSA has already admitted to listening in on private phone calls of Americans with absolutely no connection to cases being investigated by the NSA. The NSA also probably monitors text and e-mail messages too. But NeoCon liar Mike Rogers lied to bloated Candy Crowley that the NSA doesn’t listen to private conversations.
“I can’t tell you how strong we need to make this clear,” Rogers said. “The NSA is not listening to Americans’ phone calls, and it is not monitoring their emails. If it did, it’s illegal. It’s breaking the law.”
Host Candy Crowley asked Rogers if the intelligence agency still might be recording calls but not listening to them. Rogers replied that this was occurring only in certain circumstances.
“I could go get a warrant on a criminal case, yes, absolutely,” Rogers said. “But that’s very, very different. And I think they think that there’s this mass surveillance of what you’re saying on your phone call and what you’re typing in your emails. That is just not happening. And it’s important, I think, for people to understand because there’s all this misinformation about what these programs are.”
“That’s why I hope coming out and talking about how they’ve disrupted plots in this very narrow, very tight program will show Americans, hey, listen, they protected our privacy,” he continued. “They followed the rule. They have a court order. I mean, they’re doing this right, and it is protecting the United States from terrorist attacks being plotted from overseas. This is an important program to continue.”
Over the past few years, we’ve found that Rep. Mike Rogers has an incredible knack for spewing pure bullshit in defense of whatever he’s supporting, rarely even bothering to make sure his statements are internally consistent. Still, his statements on Meet the Press this weekend take that nonsense to a new high. Rogers goes off on Snowden — who he has already declared “is a traitor” — arguing in favor of the “theft of government property” charges against Snowden by making the following statement:
“He has taken information that does not belong to him — it belongs to the people of the United States.”
Right. This information that “belongs to the people of the United States,” which has been totally hidden from us, was actually finally given to the people of the United States — to whom Rogers admits it belongs — by Snowden. And, for that, he’s a traitor? How, exactly, does that work? By Rogers’ own argument, the information, before Snowden leaked it, was improperly withheld, thanks to people like Rep. Mike Rogers, from the people who own it. Thus, by Rogers’ own logic, isn’t it actually Mike Rogers who is the traitor in that he withheld crucial information that “belongs to the people of the United States”?
Of course, Rogers didn’t stop there. No, no. He continued with his internally inconsistent, and blatantly ridiculous argument by saying that (1) terrorists now know what we’re up to and are changing what they do, and (2) so little information has been revealed that everyone thinks they know what’s happening, but don’t. That makes no sense. If (1) is true, it suggests that the actual details of the program have been revealed and thus wrongdoers now know our methods. But, immediately, he changes course and says that no one really knows what’s going on — in which case he shouldn’t be concerned about terrorists changing what they do, because it shouldn’t stop the successful programs that no one knows about.
We have seen that bad guys overseas — terrorists who are committing and plotting attacks on the United States and our allies — have changed the way they operate. We’ve already seen that. To say that’s not harmful to the national security of the United States, or our safety, is just dead wrong…
[….] This is the problem with having a thousand-piece puzzle, taking three or four pieces, and deciding that you’re now an expert on what that picture looks like. You’re gonna get it wrong. They’re getting it wrong and it’s dangerous.
So, let me get this straight. The revealed information means that reporters only see a few pieces of the puzzle so they’re getting the story “dead wrong.” But… the terrorists, who are reading these stories, are somehow, magically, getting the full picture (the one the reporters are getting dead wrong) and miraculously changing how they act to now avoid NSA surveillance dragnets? How’s that work? Answer: it doesn’t. Rogers is spewing bullshit.
We don’t ask for much from our elected officials, but is it really too much to ask that they make statements that are internally consistent within the brief block of time they open their mouths to yap about some subject on which they’re supposedly “in charge”?
On November 21, 2012, Representative Jesse Jackson resigned from Congress in disgrace, acknowledging in his statement that he had made his “share of mistakes.” This may well be the understatement of year. Jackson has been under federal investigation for alleged campaign finance improprieties, including reportedly using donor dollars to remodel his home and purchase personal gifts, a potential criminal violation. Add to that the fact that Jackson was one of the major figures implicated in the massive scandal involving jailed former Illinois Governor Rod “Blago” Blagojevich, who was brought to justice in 2011 for a number of crimes, including his efforts to “sell” President Obama’s vacant U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder. The evidence strongly suggests Jackson was one of those bidders.
Because Jackson refused to resign before the November elections, Illinois taxpayers will now be faced with costs of a special election: estimated to cost $5.1 million.
The late great Chicago newspaperman Mike Royko famously said that the official motto of Chicago should be “Ubi Est Mea — Where’s mine?” Clearly, Jackson and his cohorts have taken this motto to heart.
UPDATE: March 26, 2015
Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. left an Alabama federal prison early Thursday (March 26, 2015) bound for a halfway house, where he begins his transition back into society two years after pleading guilty to spending $750,000 in campaign money on personal items.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, speaking by phone shortly after picking up his 50-year-old son, described his release from the minimum security federal prison camp at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, as a “joyous reunion.” He added that the younger Jackson was doing “very well.”
It wasn’t immediately clear if Jackson, Illinois Democrat and Inmate No. 32451-016, would live at a halfway house to serve the remainder of his 2 1/2-year term. Another possibility, according to U.S. Bureau of Prison policy, is that he serve out his sentence under home confinement.
A Bureau of Prisons spokesman in Washington, D.C., also later confirmed that Jackson had left the Alabama lockup. But Edmond Ross declined to provide any detail about the next step for Jackson, including which halfway house he might be heading for.
Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, who visited Jackson on Monday, said Jackson would go to a facility in Washington, D.C. Jackson began his sentence on Nov. 1, 2013, and his release date is Sept. 20, 2015. After that, Jackson must also spend three years on supervised release under jurisdiction of the U.S. Probation Office and complete 500 hours of community service.
At some point after Jackson is officially no longer a federal prisoner, it will be his wife’s turn to serve out her punishment on a related conviction. Sandra Jackson, a former Chicago alderman, was sentenced to a year in prison for filing false joint federal income tax returns that knowingly understated the income the couple received. In a concession to the couple’s two children, a U.S. judge allowed the Jacksons to stagger their sentences, with the husband going first.
Jackson served in Congress from 1995 until he resigned in November 2012. In June of 2012 he took medical leave for treatment of bipolar disorder and other issues. The Jacksons spent campaign money on fur capes, mounted elk heads, a $43,350, gold-plated men’s Rolex watch and Bruce Lee memorabilia, as well as $9,587.64 on children’s furniture, according to court filings.
During sentencing, the judge scolded Jackson for using campaign funds as a “piggy bank.” Jackson’s resignation ended a once-promising political career that was tarnished by unproven allegations that he was involved in discussions to raise campaign funds for imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich in exchange for an appointment to President Barack Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat. Jackson has denied the allegations.
Speaking generally about prison policy, Ross said home confinement — even within hours or days of release from prison — is a possibility for some inmates, especially those who have stable home environments to which they can return.
Rand Paul is the junior United States Senator for Kentucky. He is a member of the Republican Party, and the son of former Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, who ran for president in 1988 as a Libertarian, and in 2008 and 2012 as a Republican. He first received national attention in 2008 when making political speeches on behalf of his father and is the first United States Senator to serve simultaneously with a parent in the United States House of Representatives.
On March 6–7, 2013, Paul engaged in a talking filibuster to block voting on the nomination of John O. Brennan as the Director of the CIA, questioning Barack Obama and his administration’s use of drones, and the stated legal justification for hypothetical lethal use within the United States.
Paul held the floor for 12 hours and 52 minutes, at times ceding to several other Republican senators as well as one Democratic senator, Ron Wyden, who joined in questioning the use of drones and related topics. He noted the purpose of the filibuster was mostly regarding drone policy, particularly usage on noncombatants on U.S. soil. He argued that the language administration officials had used when questioned over that potential usage of drones was unclear, and could potentially lead to a slippery slope where citizens could be targeted merely for expressing views different than those of the president. He asked for the administration to say they will not target noncombatants on U.S. soil. Attorney General Eric Holder replied later on March 7, stating that the president does not have the authority to use weaponized drones within the U.S. to kill, without due process, Americans not engaged in combat; he stated that he was “quite happy” with the response. During the filibuster, Paul was able to appeal to many other voters, including some who had not previously supported him or his father, Ron Paul. He was also able to appeal to voters who had supported his father, but were skeptical towards him. Paul said he was amazed by the support he got from Americans and from fellow senators and even congressman who entered the senate chamber against custom, in order to show their support. Even Nevada Senator and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and satirical talk show host Jon Stewart expressed some praise for Paul.
On March 25, 2013, an announcement was made by senators Paul, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, threatening that they would hold more filibusters over any pieces of legislation that enforce gun control on the house floor, in the Senate. The White House prompted a warning letter, in response. These senators attempted to implement this filibuster on April 11, 2013, but was dismissed by a vote of cloture, 68-31.
On April 23, 2013, Paul said he supported the use of domestic drones in cases of imminent public danger or a violent crime in progress, such as the Boston Marathon bombings or an armed robbery.
Paul stressed that using drone technology against wanted criminals and suspected terrorists is different than arbitrarily using it against average American citizens.
Watch for yourself below, and post a comment letting us know what you think. Did Rand Paul just pull a reversal on his perspective regarding the use of drone technology, including the use of deadly force without due process?
UPDATE: April 6. 2015
US Senator Rand Paul is set to announce on Tuesday the official beginning of his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Though he has a record of thwarting his party’s establishment, a Rand Paul candidacy will likely not be as bold.
Paul has indicated of late that he will work to court more conventionally-conservative voters — and big money donors — while attempting to maintain his perceived outsider, libertarian credentials.
Here are ten things to know about the Kentucky senator a day before he announces his candidacy with the slogan: “Defeat the Washington machine. Unleash the American dream.” Beyond Tuesday, expect a spectrum of political pandering.
1. Foreign policy
After years of falling on the anti-interventionist side of the debate over America’s place in the world, Paul straddled the line during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in February. Paul said, according to the Washington Post, that his presidency would focus on “a national defense unparalleled, undefeated and unencumbered by nation-building.”
Last June 2014, he said US policy had created extremist-laden “jihadist wonderlands” in the likes of Iraq and Libya through America’s persistent meddling in the affairs of foreign nations. And while he has called likely Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton a “war hawk” bent on involving the US in further conflicts in the Middle East, he has also pined for more American military action in order to “destroy” the Islamic State, an extremist group especially strong in Syria and Iraq.
While voting for war against Islamic State, Paul also opposed arming rebel groups in Syria, criticizing the effort for potentially boosting the same fighters that are battling alongside Islamic State militants in the Syrian civil war against President Bashar Assad.
Paul has also called for a boycott of Saudi Arabia, America’s influential ally in the Middle East and leading partner in the coalition fighting Islamic State militants.
On Iran and its nuclear program, Paul has not been as hawkish as some of his peers in the GOP. In 2012, he voted against a non-binding resolution to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, calling the proposal a de-facto declaration of war. He has also opposed harsher sanctions against Iran, again saying he was against to any effort that could be considered an act of war.
“Before sending our young men and women into combat we should have a mature and thoughtful debate over the ramifications of war, over the advisability of war and over the objectives of the war,” Paul said.
Paul has chastised his party for obstructing nuclear negotiations between Iran and Obama administration officials. Yet, last month, Paul signed a Republican letter sent to Iran leadership announcing that any deal the Obama administration negotiated with Tehran over its nuclear program would likely dissolve if a Republican replaced Obama in January 2017, when Obama will leave office. The move was decried as political meddling in diplomatic affairs by a US Congress. Paul said he only signed it to strengthen the president’s hand.
“I want the president to negotiate from a position of strength, which means that he needs to be telling them in Iran, ‘I’ve got Congress to deal with,'” Paul said, adding, that he also endorsed the letter based on his support for the separation of powers invested in the US Constitution.
“I wouldn’t have signed the letter had he [Obama] not altered immigration law on his own, had he not altered the health care law on his own, and had he not taken us to war on his own,” Paul said.
3. Military spending
Paul has called for further cuts to US military spending, an opinion seldom voiced among his party.
“I believe national defense is the most important thing we do, but it isn’t a blank check,” he said last year. “Some conservatives think, ‘Oh, give them whatever they want and that everything is for our soldiers’ and they play up this patriotism that, ‘Oh, we don’t have to control defense spending.'”
“We can’t be a trillion dollars in the hole every year,” he added.
But, as foreshadowed by his comments in February over an “unparalleled” and “undefeated” national defense, he seems to understand that calling for cuts to the military budget won’t get him far with many non-libertarian Republicans. To that end, after his campaign announcement on Tuesday, he will appear at at Patriots Point in South Carolina’s Charleston Harbor, using a World War II aircraft carrier as a background prop, according to the Washington Post.
4. Drone strikes
Paul has argued against extrajudicial drone assassinations of American citizens, such as was the case with Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. In 2013, Paul filibustered the nomination of John Brennan as head of the Central Intelligence Agency over the Obama administration’s justification of drone strikes against Americans.
“I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court,” he said during the filibuster.
Paul has also expressed concern for the threat to privacy posed by everyday use of unmanned aerial vehicles in American skies. The federal government is currently crafting rules regarding domestic drone use.
5. NSA reform
Some consider that Paul began his slide away from his roguish denunciations of Washington’s power abuses long before the present day. He has excoriated revelations of the National Security Agency’s global spying regime, exposed by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden in 2013, going as far as to sue the Obama administration over the constitutionality of the NSA program that collects metadata on US citizens’ phone calls.
“There’s a huge and growing swell of protest in this country of people who are outraged that their records are being taken without suspicion, without a judge’s warrant, and without individualization,” Paul said. “I’m not against the NSA, I’m not against spying, I’m not against looking at phone records. I just want you to go to a judge, have an individual’s name and [get] a warrant. That’s what the Fourth Amendment says.”
Yet when the admittedly tepid NSA reform bill was a mere two votes from passing the US Senate in November, Paul balked, saying the legislation was not strong enough. Paul later claimed he “felt bad” that the legislation failed, because it “probably needed my vote.”
The ‘no’ vote by Paul, a civil libertarian in the mold of his father and former presidential candidate Ron Paul, was seen by some as a fig leaf to Mitch McConnell, the powerful, well-connected top Republican in the Senate.
The vote has also received criticism from Sen. Ted Cruz, the only official Republican presidential candidate thus far, who voted for the legislation and is expected to challenge some of Paul’s support among unorthodox modern American conservatives.
And despite his overall opposition to the NSA’s vast surveillance powers, Paul said he opposes clemency for Snowden, who was responsible for revealing abuses Congress should have flagged in the first place. Paul did say, though, that Snowden — currently in exile in Russia — should only get a few years in prison for the unauthorized disclosures.
6. Criminal justice reform
In response to national outrage over the utilization of military weaponry by police in Ferguson, Missouri — which is emblematic of police forces across the nation — Paul has been among the few in Congress to consider stemming the flow of Pentagon excess to towns across America. At congressional hearing in September, Paul said heavy-handed use of force by police in Ferguson was “thoroughly un-American,” and that the Pentagon’s 1033 program should be shuttered.
In mid-March, Paul appeared at at Maryland’s Bowie State University, a historically black college, to champion criminal justice reform. He told the crowd of 200 students and community leaders that reforms to the justice system are necessary because current sentencing laws are harsh and disproportionally affect African-Americans. In the wake of the damning US Department of Justice report on the Ferguson Police Department and court system, Paul spoke out against practices such as excessive fines that have become an economic boon to local governments, as well as the seizure of private assets by police prior to criminal conviction.
“It’s predominately [affecting] African-American, it’s predominantly [affecting] Hispanics. But if you want one common denominator, it’s predominantly [affecting] people who live in poverty,” he said at Bowie State. “It’s unfair and it ought to stop. This is one thing the president and I agree on.”
While some lauded the sentiments expressed by Paul, others were not as impressed.
“I found him superficial,” Bob Woodson, president of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, told the Washington Post. “I think these guys have got to do more than show up. Going to Howard [University] and then going to Ferguson [Missouri]? I don’t know what that was all about. His talk about the militarization of police felt like pandering.”
7. Religious freedom and gay rights
Paul has not commented on Indiana’s controversial ‘religious freedom’ bill, which many see as an attempt to discriminate against others based on one’s religion. Paul did say in March that, “The First Amendment says keep government out of religion. It doesn’t say keep religion out of government,” the Washington Post reported. As the Huffington Post reported last week, Paul has not supported marriage equality rights for gays and lesbians.
8. Marijuana legalization
Paul has supported legalizing small amounts of recreational marijuana, and he has sponsored legislation to legalize medical marijuana across the nation.
“The main thing I’ve said is not to legalize them, but not to incarcerate people for extended periods of times,” he has said of nonviolent drug offenders going to prison for decades during America’s so-called ‘war on drugs.’
9. Audit the Fed and IRS reform
One of Paul’s longtime positions has been to audit the Federal Reserve.
“The Fed’s operations under a cloak of secrecy have gone on too long and the American people have a right to know what the Federal Reserve is doing with our nation’s money supply,” Paul said when he proposed an audit bill in 2013. “Audit the Fed has significant bipartisan support in Congress and across the country and the time to act on this is now.”
Reform of the Internal Revenue Service is another Paul priority. One method of doing so, he has said, involves instituting a flat tax that is the same for all taxpayers, rather than a progressive or tiered tax system.
“What you’d have is an attrition if not an outright elimination of the IRS because it would be so simple that people would comply, and it would be very simple to know whether they complied or not,” Paul said in 2013.
10. Plagiarism accusations
In late 2013, the Washington Times newspaper announced that it is ending a regular column by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul following a series of plagiarism charges against his work. Paul was accused of not only failing to properly cite references for his written and spoken work, but also of essentially lifting passages verbatim from other sources. He took responsibility for the tainted work, saying he has staff and advisers who help him with his speeches and columns.
“Ultimately, I’m the boss, and things go out under my name, so it is my fault,” he said. “I never had intentionally presented anyone’s ideas as my own.”