U.S. Spy Net Snares Congress – Jan 2016

A New Year and a major New Crisis for Congress & the President


– From a variety of sources,  we find the Obama Administration spying on members of Congress. This is a major new escalation of unconstitutional acts by the president. We are in new territory. Read more below.

Here’s the original article in the Wall Street Journal which lays out how it happened:


– Wall Street Journal

“The National Security Agency’s targeting of Israeli leaders and officials also swept up the contents of some of their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups. That raised fears—an “Oh-s— moment,” one senior U.S. official said—that the executive branch would be accused of spying on Congress.”


Heilemann: ‘All Sides’ Will Turn Obama Into a ‘Piñata’ If Israel Spying Report True

– Breitbart – Jan 01


“Wednesday evening on Bloomberg’s “With All Due Respect,” while discussing  a Wall Street Journal report saying the Obama administration is spying on friendly world leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and his conversations with members of Congress, co-host John Heilemann predicted both Republicans and Democrats would turn on Obama if it is true.

Heilemman asked his guest co-host Nicolle Wallace, “How big is this? On a scale of one to Godzilla, what are the implications that might come out?”

Wallace replied, “I think this is like Godzilla’s daddy. This is a big Godzilla. This could have political ramifications inter-party. It would be interesting to see if Hillary Clinton parts ways, with the Obama White House who obviously had a hand in this if you believe the reporting on this “The Wall Street Journal” account.”

More @ Breitbart


– But let’s start from the Comments section on Mediaite, a probing set of questions:

The part of this story that worries me, is that although the NSA has consistently avowed meta-data collection does not incude actual “conversations”, eavesdropping does occur. I’m wondering if congress will be revisiting the NSA testimony which seems to be contradictory to actual practices.

  • The meta-data collection and other NSA monitoring activities are entirely separate issues. Monitoring foreign communications is their JOB…

    • Thank you professor, but my question is this: Does the NSA maintain 2 separate, independent networks, and staff in their surveillance programs? Or, as suggested by Snowden, is it a single ominous collection point, where “contractors” at their own discretion, or by direction “mute” these monitored communications. Given the NSA is always “under financed”, and the current administrations efforts to consolidate and share information between different agencies, I think it unlikely 2 networks of such scope, complexity, and cost, would exist in a single agency.”

      – Great, now we can be spied on by ‘contractors.’ Excellent Question.  Read on.


      WSJ: NSA’s Surveillance of Israeli Leaders Included Private Convos of U.S. Lawmakers

      – Mediaite


      “Back in January 2014, after there was outrage from leaders in nations like Germany and Brazil about being spied on, President Obama announced that the U.S. will no longer eavesdrop on friendly heads of state “unless there is a compelling national security purpose.” But tonight, the WSJ report cites current and former U.S. officials as saying the government still kept an eye on certain allies––Benjamin Netanyahu among them.”

      – Read more here from the article by Josh Feldman @ Mediaite

      – The New York Post weighs in…..


      Why Team Obama’s Israel spying should be a major scandal

      – NY Post


      “……news that the Obama administration targeted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for continued close electronic surveillance — even as it curbed it for other friendly leaders — still is pretty startling.

      As is The Wall Street Journal’s disclosure that the sweep included conversations with US Jewish groups and members of Congress.

      The last is especially critical: Careful rules govern how the National Security Agency can handle such intercepted conversations, and it’s not clear they were followed.

      But it’s also significant that Team Obama apparently had no problem with spying on Americans engaged in legitimate political activity — in this case, trying to block the president’s dubious nuclear deal with Iran.

      The White House took pains not to leave a paper trail. As one senior official told the Journal: “We didn’t say, ‘Do it.’ We didn’t say, ‘Don’t do it’.”

      Read more @ NY Post

      Finally tonight,

      US House Intelligence chair seeks answers on NSA spying report

      – Inquirer.net


      Republican Rep. Devin Nunes told The Associated Press that he’s asked the director of National Intelligence and the head of the National Security Agency to come to Capitol Hill next week to brief lawmakers on the matter.

      In the process the agency caught some conversations with U.S. lawmakers, according to the report. That’s something that would typically be reported to top congressional leaders and the heads of the House and Senate Intelligence committees, but Nunes said he recalled receiving no such notification.

      He said his goal would be to “get the facts” about the situation.

      “We’re going to play this right down the middle and determine whether or not somebody did something wrong,” Nunes said by phone from California.

      Later Wednesday, the chairmen of the House Oversight Committee and its national security subcommittee sent a letter to NSA Director Michael Rogers requesting documents and a briefing about the process.

      Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Ron DeSantis wrote that the Journal report raises “questions concerning the processes NSA employees follow in determining whether intercepted communications involved members of Congress, and the latitude agency employees have in screening communications with members of Congress for further dissemination within the Executive Branch.”

Read more here @ Inquirer.net


Spying on Congress and Israel: NSA Cheerleaders Discover Value of Privacy Only When Their Own Is Violated

– Intercept


“In January 2014, I debated Rep. Hoekstra about NSA spying and he could not have been more mocking and dismissive of the privacy concerns I was invoking. “Spying is a matter of fact,” he scoffed. As Andrew Krietz, the journalist who covered that debate, reported, Hoekstra “laughs at foreign governments who are shocked they’ve been spied on because they, too, gather information” — referring to anger from German and Brazilian leaders. As TechDirt noted, “Hoekstra attacked a bill called the RESTORE Act, that would have granted a tiny bit more oversight over situations where (you guessed it) the NSA was collecting information on Americans.”

But all that, of course, was before Hoekstra knew that he and his Israeli friends were swept up in the spying of which he was so fond. Now that he knows that it is his privacy and those of his comrades that has been invaded, he is no longer cavalier about it. In fact, he’s so furious that this long-time NSA cheerleader is actually calling for the criminal prosecution of the NSA and Obama officials for the crime of spying on him and his friends.”

– Read the whole article by Glen Greenwald @ Intercept


The NSA spied on Congress, too

– Engadget


“Over the course of the Iran nuclear negotiations that have taken place in the past several years, the NSA learned that Israel had leaked information to Jewish-American groups to undermine the negotiations taking place at the time. The nation had also approached members of Congress to see what it’d take to earn their vote against the accords.

The situation is a mess and understandably no one involved looks good or wants to admit to any wrongdoing. Israel was trying to win US votes for its cause, the NSA was illegally intercepting these transmissions and basically everyone caught with their hands in the cookie jar is rapidly trying to deny that any of this ever happened. You know, despite proof otherwise. More than that, the NSA has apparently gotten so adept at this type of surveillance that a president, Obama in this case, knowing what a visiting head of state’s talking points would be long before their arrival is incredibly common.”

– Read the rest @ Engadget


These Ain’t Masterminds: Would Be Terrorist Crowd Sourced Targets On Twitter Using ‘Silent Bomber’ Handle

from the silent-but-deadly dept

– TechDirt


“I have to say, it can certainly be quite frustrating to watch dispassionately how terrorism is discussed in the United States. After the fervor in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when terrorism was used either as a reason or excuse to enact all kinds of liberty-diffusing policies and to launch an insane surveillance state that we still haven’t recovered from, I had thought we were quietly entering an era of eye-rolling at the way some in government throw around the word “terrorism.” But, because the home of the brave is so easily whipped into a frenzy of fear, an admittedly horrible terrorist attack half a world away and a shooting spree in California that would have been shrugged off as “Hey, that’s just America” except that the perpetrators had scary sounding last names, has once again meant that our political debates and twenty-four hour news programs are focused on the threat of Islamic extremist terrorism and not all of the other zillions of ways that you might die in the next twenty-four hours.

What all of this fear-mongering has done, which completely escapes my understanding, is create the impression that our enemy is generally devious and technologically intelligent on Bond-villain-esque levels. This is how you create a climate where a legitimate tool such as encryption is under attack as a threat. That’s what makes it so useful to point out when would-be terrorists prove themselves to be bumbling idiots practically begging to be caught. Our own Glyn Moody wrote up a useful piece for ArsTechnica detailing one would-be terrorist’s attempt to crowdsource his targets on Twitter under a not-so-smart Twitter handle.

The threat from terrorism isn’t null, but the point is these aren’t masterminds, folks, and we shouldn’t be so eager to hand over liberty in favor of safety from what is mostly a really dumb enemy.”

From: TechDirt

Happy New Year – 2016!

Luiz Melodia – Show Completo – DVD Ao Vivo Convida

– Youtube


– At about 1:19:00 hrs into the video check out the amazing Brazilian Song – “O Caderninho”

The lyrics and translation can be found here from Portuguese to French, like that helps:


There is a backstory about the song I shall detail later, suffice to say this is one of the best versions of this famous song.

The whole set is amazing, the band, the audience and the singer. Enjoy

More on the DVD  can be found here @ Amazon






Questioning MSNBC – Dec 2015

MSNBC Cut Parts Of Hillary Focus Group That Were ‘Too Negative’



– Now why would they do that?

“MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” cut portions of an on-camera focus group that it considered “too negative” for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, co-host Joe Scarborough admitted Wednesday.

The Bloomberg Politics focus group was made up of New Hampshire Democratic voters.”

Read the article from Oct 2015 @ DailyCaller



Here’s a video from one of Bloomberg News:

‘He Says It Like It Is’: Why These NH Voters Love Trump

– Bloomberg


Merry Christmas – Dec 2015

Almonds Consume More Water Than California’s 39 Million Indoor Users Combined

– Seattle Times


California Grows 80% of the World’s Almonds During Drought – Huge Export Crop Subsidized by Taxpayers

– It’s Chinatown Jake, all over again.

“Branded ‘the poster child of all things bad in water’ by one almond grower, the popular crop consumes more water than all the showering, dish washing and other indoor household water use of California’s 39 million people.

People around the world are eating over 1,000 percent more California almonds than they did just a decade ago, and last year almonds became the top export crop in the nation’s top agriculture state. China’s booming middle class is driving much of the demand.

That strong Asia market is producing up to 30 percent returns for investors, prompting agribusinesses to expand almond planting in the state by two-thirds in the past decade. The crop has come to be dominated by global corporations and investment funds.”

Read the Seattle Times coverage here @ Seattle Times

Clearly the Drought, Water and Who Benefits at the expense of the many are askew. Creating a demand for a high profit crop, funded by speculators, subsidized by the California taxpayer is a bad recipe for water resources. Mother Jones and others weigh in below, including the effects of increased groundwater pumping and its impact on subsidence in the Central Valley: 


California Goes Nuts

– MotherJones

A newly planted pistachio orchard near Ducor in California's Central Valley. Photo by Matt Black.
A newly planted pistachio orchard near Ducor in California’s Central Valley. Photo by Matt Black.

“Almond products—snack mixes, butters, milk—are flying off supermarket shelves. The value of the California almond market hit$4.8 billion in 2012—that’s triple the level of a decade earlier. Only dairy is worth more to the state than almonds and grapes. In fact, almonds, along with California-grown pistachios and walnuts, are becoming so lucrative that big investment funds, eager to get in on the boom, are snapping up land and dropping in trees.

There’s just one problem: Almond orchards require about a third more water per acre than grape vineyards. In fact, they’re one of California’s thirstiest crops. It takes a gallon of water to produce a single almond—more than three times the amount required for a grape and two and a half times as much for a strawberry. There’s more water embedded in just four almonds than there is in a full head of lettuce. But unlike row crops, which farmers can choose not to plant during dry spells, almond trees must be watered no matter what.”

–  So what happens when a drought strikes in the middle of massive speculation on almond crops? Are Californians obligated to subsidize almond growers who export the crop for profits? Must they make major life style and quality of life changes for the sake of private profit?

Read the rest of the story by Tom Philpott @ MotherJones



NASA: California Drought Causing Valley Land to Sink



“This study represents an unprecedented use of multiple satellites and aircraft to map subsidence in California and address a practical problem we’re all facing,” said JPL research scientist and report co-author Tom Farr. “We’re pleased to supply the California DWR with information they can use to better manage California’s groundwater. It’s like the old saying: ‘you can’t manage what you don’t measure’

Land near Corcoran in the Tulare basin sank 13 inches (33 centimeters) in just eight months — about 1.6 inches (4 centimeters) per month. One area in the Sacramento Valley was sinking approximately half-an-inch (1.3 centimeters) per month, faster than previous measurements.”

Read the full report here @ jpl.nasa.gov


Central Valley sinking fast in drought, NASA study shows

– SacBee


“Portions of the San Joaquin Valley floor are sinking at an alarming rate as farmers pump ever more groundwater during California’s extended drought, according to a NASA study released Wednesday.

The report, generated by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the state Department of Water Resources, sheds new light on the phenomenon known as subsidence.

While the land is sinking just a few inches a year, subsidence has been hastened by the drought, and the consequences can mushroom as the dry years pile up. Gravity-fed canal systems don’t function as well. Portions of the Delta-Mendota Canal, which brings water to much of the San Joaquin Valley, have buckled and had to be propped back up. In Firebaugh, west of Fresno, a motor-vehicle bridge has sunk so low it practically sits atop an irrigation canal.

“It is one of those long-term, slow and cumulative impacts,” said Jeanine Jones, interstate resources manager at the Department of Water Resources. “The thing we’re especially concerned about is the damage, long-term damage, to water infrastructure. Over time, that diminishes the ability to move water.”

Read more here @ SacBee


Historic SpaceX Landing – Dec 2015

SpaceX – ORBCOMM – 2  MISSION Historic Rocket Launch & Precision Terrestrial Landing – Era of Reusable Orbital Rockets Begins

– SpaceX

– SpaceX is based in Hawthorne, California

A huge win for the post-Boomer generation in the United States, they should justifiably be proud. They should enjoy this history making achievement, proving our best days may lie ahead and beyond.


SpaceX’s Triumphant Rocket Landing Could Revolutionize Spaceflight

– Scientific American – Dec 22

– An early test video from SpaceX of a SpaceX Grasshopper rocket launch and landing in June 14, 2013. Incredible perspective and angle off the launch.

More here @ SpaceX Videos

The winter solstice made last night the longest and darkest of the year, but the skies over Florida were filled with light, not once, but twice. First when a Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX launched a payload of satellites into orbit from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and again nine minutes later when the 15-story-tall first stage of the rocket returned to Earth, riding its fiery jet to a gentle landing.

Though dreamed of for decades by aerospace engineers, such a landing was long considered the stuff of science fiction. “It’s a revolutionary moment,” SpaceX founder CEO Elon Musk said in a press conference shortly after the landing. “No one has ever brought a booster, an orbital-class booster, back intact.” By reusing rockets, Musk said, the total cost of sending cargo and crews to orbit could eventually be reduced by more than a factor of a hundred—cheap enough to open the heavens to all manner of new activities, including Musk’s dream of retiring on Mars.

Read the whole article by Lee Billings @  Scientific American

Questioning Asylum – Dec 2015

MSNBC Exclusive: Homeland Security passed on plan to vet visa applicants’ social media

– MSNBC  – Dec 17


“Top officials at the Department of Homeland Security considered a specific policy to strengthen security screenings for foreign visa applicants’ social media accounts, but the proposal was ultimately not adopted, according to an internal department memo obtained by MSNBC.

While the U.S. visa screening process does not include formal vetting of social media accounts, the memo proposed the Obama administration “authorize” customs officials to “access social networking sites” to vet applicants. Such vetting could help catch applicants bent on fraud, crime or “national security” risks, the memo stated.

Story here by Ari Melber and Safia Samee Ali @ MSNBC



Discovered: Rubio Pushed To Give Non-Citizen Aliens Access To Fiancé Visas

– Breitbart – Dec 18


Observers will now have time to do what lawmakers couldn’t: Read the omnibus funding bill which Congress waved through.

For one thing, it fully-funded the President’s refugee resettlement operation. The inclusion of this provision is a policy win for Sen. Marco Rubio, who told Sean Hannity last month that he’d “hate to use” Congress’ power of the purse to block Obama’s refugee resettlement program.

And now another provision has come to light in the Gang of Eight bill that could help to further define the policy contours of a Rubio administration.

Within the sprawling 1,200 page legislation, Rubio’s bill contained a provision—Section 2310 “Fiancée and Fiance Child Status Protection”— which would have dramatically expanded the controversial K-1 visa by allowing non-citizens living in the country to bring in not only their foreign fiancés, but also the children of their foreign fiancés.

The “Fiancé” visa has come under national scrutiny in recent weeks following reports that Tashfeen Malik, the Pakistani-born wife of Syed Farook, had entered the country on a K-1 visa. Together Farook and his Jihadi bride carried out the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. Farook’s presence in the United States— like his wife’s—was entirely the result of our nation’s federal policy of visa issuances:  Farook’s parents were Paksitani immigrants.”

Read more @ Breitbart


Foreign Travelers and National Security


In California some of us have questioned immigration and its relation to safety and security for some time. The recent radical Islamic terror in San Bernardino, now highlights the critical need for a top to bottom re-evaluation of our approach to fighting terrorism here at home, beginning with border security and the visa processes are completely secure. 

The United States is not prepared or ready for an influx of people who mean to do us harm,  and this Administration has clearly let the nation’s guard down in a serious way as the following articles show.

If you wish to see the whole House Oversight & Government Reform Committee here @ C-SPAN Congressional Video – Foreign Travelers and National Security

Today the Washington Examiner, which is not one of my favorite DC papers, none of them are, but today they hit on all cylinders:


Gowdy: Explanation of visa failure ‘doesn’t make me feel any better’

– Washington Examiner


“I just listened to Ben Rhodes give a series of words like ‘extensive,’ ‘thorough,’ ‘careful,'” Gowdy said, referring to a top White House security adviser. “And I just sat here and thought, ‘Well, if all of that was true, how did we miss the lady in San Bernardino?'”

Gowdy argued that the administration needs to do a better job pushing back for information when it receives visa applications, and said it can’t pretend foreign nationals have a right to enter the country.

“There is no legal right to emigrate to the United States,” Gowdy said. “It’s a privilege that we confer on people.”

Read the brief story by Sarah Westwood here: Washington Times


Report: DHS rejected social media screening policy as early as 2011

– Washington Times


The 2011 memo, parts of which are redacted, suggested that the Obama administration “authorize” customs officials to “access social networking sites” in order to vet applicants. The memo reportedly went through a year of revisions among the agency’s lawyers and staff, and was close to becoming policy before it was blocked by senior officials.

“I thought it was a done deal,” said one senior official, speaking to MSNBC on the condition of anonymity. “It’s unusual [for a policy] to go through the circulation process and revisions,” he said, and “not happen.”

As a result, personnel were limited to “agency-authorized hardware and other computing resources when accessing social networking sites for official government business.” Because social networking sites are blocked on the agency’s network, the policy effectively precluded employees from accessing applicants’ social media accounts.

Employees were also barred from going above and beyond in efforts to screen applicants: “Personnel may not use their personal computers, cellular telephones or other mobile devices” for vetting applicants, the policy states.

It was reported on Monday that some at DHS had pushed for the policy to change, but the memo is another datapoint indicating just how long the issue has been in contention at the agency.”

Read the whole article by Sarah Westbrook here: Washington Examiner


Finally, the best for last:

DHS can’t say how many people leave U.S. each year

– Washington Times


Read the whole article by Sarah Westbrook here @ Washington Examiner

If you wish to see the whole House Oversight & Government Reform Committee here @ C-SPAN Congressional Video



– lieu.house.gov

As a Member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, I find it outrageous that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rejected a secret policy to review social media of foreigners seeking entry to the US through the visa program.  Based on an USCIS memo recently released by MSNBCand reporting by multiple media organizations, I am deeply troubled that US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Leon Rodriguez apparently misled the Committee today during his testimony when he repeatedly denied any such secret policy.

I am proud to be an American because being a citizen of the greatest country in the world comes with it many benefits, including the critical fact that the US Constitution applies to US citizens.  But the US Constitution does not apply to a foreign national seeking entry to the US.

Yet DHS apparently believes foreign nationals seeking entry to the United States have more rights than US citizens when it comes to social media.  In America, if a US citizen applies for a job in the private or public sector, their social media postings can certainly be reviewed.  The federal government also apparently reviews social media as a factor in determining whether persons, including US citizens, should be placed on the Terrorist Watch List. ”

From:  Ted Lieu – California’s 33rd Congressional District


Questioning Media – Dec 2015


The Media have gone from objective reportage on the world to the presenters of a message, a narrative of reality, not reality itself.

They tend to focus on the inconsequential, avoid the essential and strive to provoke rather than enlighten.  Question their message. Everyone has a message. 

Exhibit A, B, C & D: 

Tom Brady Ends Presser When Questioned About Trump (VIDEO)

– Newsbusters


– The MSM tries to embroil another American hero in gotcha politics. Celebrities instead of experts are the last people you want commenting on actual crises.

Thanks Tom. Read the rest here @ by Dylan Guinn at NewsBusters


FBN’s Lou Dobbs Spotlights MRCTV’s Joseph Being Snapped at by Chris Matthews – Ouch

– Newbusters


– Or not.

“Near the end of his Fox Business Network (FBN) show on Wednesday night, host Lou Dobbs played and discussed with his panel video released on Tuesday that featured MRCTV’s Dan Joseph asking MSNBC’s Chris Matthews if he still has “the thrill” up his leg all these years later about President Barack Obama. Of course, as many readers now know, Matthews fired back by ignoring Joseph’s question and repeatedly telling him to “go to hell” and “leave me alone.”

– What a grinch, must see video, too funny for words.

See more here @ NewsBusters


CNN to Carson: You ‘Tough’ Enough to Kill Thousands of Children? – Seriously?

– Newsbusters


“In a bizarre exchange, co-debate moderator Hugh Hewitt on Tuesday night pressed Ben Carson as to whether he was “tough” enough to kill thousands of children. Hewitt lectured, “We’re talking about ruthless things tonight. Carpet bombing, toughness, war. And people wonder, could you do that?”

– Would Hugh Hewitt have asked that question of Bobby Kennedy or Jimmy Carter?

Why doesn’t Hillary Clinton or Obama get these kinds of questions? This is ridiculous.

Talk about ruthless, what a ruthless thing to do. Carson handled it well. Hugh Hewitt wasn’t much when he was in California, I can see he hasn’t improved.

Read more here @ NewsBusters

Finally, for those interested the entire Donald Trump speech in Las Vegas the night before the debate: Here

Speech starts at: 19:56 in.


Herb Schiller on Media, Corporations and Society

– Youtube