American Propaganda

news stationsDid you know that the FBI creates broadcasts that mimic news reports, and disseminates them via ABC news, itunes, and other internet media? According to the Daily Signal, these reports often do not clearly identify the broadcast as a government issued broadcast, that has been made with tax dollars, and paints the FBI in a positive light. The reports are surrounded by similar sounding segments that are not U.S. government made propaganda.

With public agencies in the quasi-news business, should their products also carry a disclosure to avoid the same confusion? Should they clearly tell listeners that the message is generated using their tax dollars?

“The only thing we’re promoting is public awareness so, no, I don’t think there is a need for a label,” the FBI’s McKee told me. “Within each program the narrator clearly identifies herself as an FBI employee and the programs are found on official FBI sites/pages.”

In fact, in the Aug. 15 story on “FBI This Week,” the narrator doesn’t clearly identify herself as an FBI employee. The segment follows a typical news format where the reporter signs off with the location of the assignment and the title of the feature. But to those who are listening closely, the positive message is the clue that there’s a government sponsor.

So it got me thinking, if this is the propaganda we know about, what are we hearing from “non-government sources” that is actually indeed, just propaganda? The fact that the U.S. government feeds U.S. citizens bulk lies is not controversial. Operation Mockingbird is a documented government program that had thousands of mainstream journalists on U.S. government pay since 1953 and included publications like the Washington Post, Time Magazine, People Magazine, and Newsweek to name a few. And just recently documents show that the U.S. government currently seeks to influence public opinion via social media, with paid “trolls” to comment on news articles, and insert their ideas or misinformation or just confusion into Facebook and twitter. To what extent are we influenced by lies, useful for and propagated by the U.S. government?

What if the propaganda was so bad that “facts” about countries like North Korea, Iran, and Cuba were not really facts? I don’t actually think it goes that deep, but it does make me wonder. With so little travel to the three countries by Americans, it is conceivable that certain misconceptions could be easily construed by our own government, posing as media. But as always, the bottom line is: never trust the government.

War on Women: This is Who the Fed’s have been Harassing

“My life before I spoke out for good government stands in stark contrast to the life I now lead. As a wife, a mother, and small businesswoman working with my husband, raising our children and participating in my church and PTA, the government collected my taxes and left me and my family in peace. But when I helped found and led True the Vote and King Street Patriots, I found myself a target of this federal government.” -Catherine Engelbrecht

Catherine Engelbrecht is the founder of King Street Patriots and Chairwoman of True the Vote, conservative organizations aimed at cutting down on voter fraud, and involving local groups in grass roots activism. As she says in her congressional testimony in the above video, previous to starting King Street Patriots, she was never audited by the IRS, nor contacted by the FBI, or ATF. The moment when she became politically active is the moment that all changed.

What Catherine speaks of goes far beyond intrusive questionnaires from the IRS, and actual inquiries by the agency in regards to seeking non-profit status for her organizations. She became the target of a political hit, intimidation brought on by the federal government in an attempt to suppress political involvement of Catherine, and others in and outside her organization. Various federal agencies worked in collusion to not only scrutinize her political activity, but harass her through a business that she owns: Engelbrecht Manufacturing.

Catherine filed for non-profit status in 2010. In 2011 her personal and business tax returns were audited not only for that year, but going back a few as well. These returns had nothing to do with her applications for non-profit status. This alone would be a major coincidence if an audit of this magnitude just so happened to come the year following Catherine identifying herself as a conservative to the IRS. But it didn’t stop there.

OSHA, Occupational Health and Safety Administration, visited her business while neither she nor her husband were there, and issued in excess of $20,000 in fines “though the agency wrote that it found nothing serious or significant”. (As an aside, this is why the government has millions of “insignificant regulations”, so that they can find a “violation” at literally any business in America which they decide to target).

In 2012 and again in 2013 the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms conducted comprehensive audits at my place [of] business.

You see, it is not just the IRS that harassed Catherine Engelbrecht and others over political affiliations. Other government agencies got in on the action. I bring this up because I’ve heard people say that these organizations deserved IRS scrutiny because they are political and applying for tax exempt status. How would these same people defend multiple government agencies scrutinizing every piece of Catherine’s life that has nothing to do with politics, nor her conservative groups?

Would these people still pretend that this is just a coincidence, or just a few rogue IRS agents? What kind of sway would one IRS office have to influence the ATF and OSHA to target this woman? It therefore must go higher than “rogue” agents, and actual scrutiny for organizations who seek tax exempt status. Because even just looking at the procedures taken against Catherine in regards to the King Street Patriots and True the Vote, something is more than fishy.

Beginning in 2010, the FBI contacted my nonprofit organization on six separate occasions – wanting to cull through membership manifests in conjunction with domestic terrorism cases. They eventually dropped all matters and have now redacted nearly all my files.

All of these incursions into my affairs began after filing applications for tax-exemption. There is no other remarkable event, no other reason, to explain away how for decades I went unnoticed, but now find myself on the receiving end of interagency coordination into and against all facets of my life, both public and private.

Bear in mind, distinguished ladies and gentlemen of this sub-committee, these events were occuring while the IRS was subjecting me to multiple rounds of abusive inquiries, with requests to provide every Facebook and Twitter entry I’d every posted, questions about my political aspirations, and demands to know the names of every group I’d ever made presentations to, the content of what I’d said, and where I intended to speak for the coming year. The answers to these sorts of questions are not of interest to the typical IRS analyst, but they are of great interest to a political machine that puts its own survival above the civil liberties of any private citizen.

Anyone not looking at this situation through the lens of partisan politics knows full well that the federal government coordinated attacks against Catherine Engelbrecht, her business, and her organizations. Various agencies colluded to harass and suppress political involvement of Catherine and those in and outside her organization. The message is clear to business owners: keep you mouth shut if you don’t like the government, because we will send the ATF and OSHA to destroy your livelihood. The message is clear to activists: expect an IRS audit if your name shows up on conservative donor lists, or conservative mailing lists. Think your safe if you favorite a certain Tweet or like a certain Facebook page? No, the FBI will intrude into your life, “suspecting” you to be a terrorist, maybe even giving that impression to your neighbors, co-workers, and friends.

This is an intentional effort by the federal government to suppress involvement in and donations to conservative causes in order to kill opposition to big government programs and violations of our rights, laid out in the Bill of Rights.

And why is it that those who believe in democracy are the first to defend the actions of our government in suppressing political activism of certain types of people? This should be a wake up call to every war protester, every peace demonstrator, every internet user, everyone who has ever criticized a government program, organization or action. This is not about right versus left, this is about freedom versus tyranny. Anyone who cannot stand up to defend a person they disagree with from actual rights violations, suppression and harassment by the most power government in the world; deep down inside I think they know they are helping to usher in a new era of government oppression.

Let’s make sure everyone knows which side of history we’re on.

The Social Firing Squad

When Joseph Stalin wanted to get rid of a General or political dissident, he put them in front of the firing squad, or sent them to the gulag. In contemporary America, those methods may not be necessary. Since these tactics would prove unpopular with Americans anyway, politicians and government power brokers have been working on a new form of firing squad, public embarrassment. The ammunition is acquired in questionable ways from law enforcement, and the NSA might just prove to be the modern day munition makers for removing troublesome public officials and private nags–troublesome for the power brokers that is. We witnessed this dynamic unfold when General Petraeus was publicly shamed and resigned from his position as head of the CIA, even though his Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure were almost certainly violated while collecting the information needed to “off him”. In the end this worked out fine for whoever wanted Petraeus gone, because he resigned, so there was no need to prove the information was garnered legitimately.

A former Secret Service agent who guarded President Obama spoke of this dynamic where the end goal is to gather dirt on everyone who might ever become a problem. Then, with the threat of social and career consequences, enforce a lockstep march towards–well, whatever the goals of those in power may be. The former agent, Dan Bongino, is now running for congress, so his words must be taken with a grain of salt. However he claims that the difference between past presidents and the current one in how far they go to use blackmail as a political tactic, is why he is seeking to become a member of congress. Bongino criticizes the NSA spying, saying that it is only a matter of time until the government takes information it has gathered for supposed security reasons, and uses it for political reasons.

You give the government information and it will be abused. It is not a matter of if it’ll be abused, it’s only a matter of when…

When the line between the personal self and the public self… when that line is determined by the government that keeps your information in a trove for release any time they need it, how are you free?

..the bottom line is, having worked inside the government, it will be abused. It is only a matter of time.

…The catch is not “if” we’re doing something wrong. It is “are your private wrongs impacting on my civil liberties?” If not, the government has no business in your life… it’s a red herring…

If you’re not doing something wrong? The question is only whether your private wrongs that have no effect on anyone else become exposed for the government’s benefit.

…It’s only a matter of time before someone slaps an email on your desk from fifteen years ago… and says ‘look what we got against you.’

What happened with General Petraus appears to support Bongino’s claim that the people in the government routinely use data collected by law enforcement to blackmail colleagues and opponents. Jill Kelley, who was dragged through the mud during the Petraeus affair scandal, maintains she has done nothing wrong or unethical, and the FBI violated her rights first by viewing, then by leaking her private e-mails. The insinuation was that there was an inappropriate relationship between her and General Allen (who also resigned), but Kelley claims this is false. She says in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that after reporting harassment over the internet to the FBI and allowing them access to one email, they took the liberty of scooping up any email they found interesting. Later, these and emails sent and received by the stalking suspect Paula Broadwell, were used to get rid of Petraeus (an attempt to silence his testimony on Benghazi, perhaps?), and Kelley was the collateral damage.

…the FBI ignored our request and violated our trust by unlawfully searching our private emails and turning us into the targets of an intrusive investigation without any just cause—all the while without informing us that they had identified the email stalker as Paula Broadwell, who was having an affair with Mr. Petraeus…

Adding insult to injury, the FBI then leaked our identities to the media and distorted the contents of the emails it had illegally obtained, throwing my family into a destructive media vortex.

As a result of the government’s breach of our privacy and trust, camera crews showed up at our door and camped outside our home to question us about false and misleading information leaked to the media from “unnamed” government sources. Reckless speculation and innuendo about an inappropriate relationship with Gen. Allen spread throughout the news media, sullying my reputation and honor, to the great distress of my family. To this day the government has not apologized for its indefensible conduct.

The take away from this is that even if nothing you are doing is illegal, most of us don’t want everything we do to become public. It is one thing when we publish stuff on social media ourselves that could come back to haunt us, but when communicating in ways that are private and expected to remain private, it is not for a third party, especially when that third party is the government, to allow those communications to become public. Even though the official line would surely be that the government maintains the utmost integrity in making sure information collected by the FBI and NSA do not end up in the wrong hands, this has proven to not be the case. It is not enough for the government to assure us that nothing will go wrong, and then apologize when it does go wrong. We need to stop the illegal practice of government collecting, viewing, and storing our personal communications, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. If we do not, then we will continue to see politicians and bureaucrats do unethical things in an attempt to follow orders from above, and hide whatever dirt has been dredged up on them. It may not sound as scary as a firing squad, but the threat of public shame can be just as effective in ensuring orders are followed, even when those orders are unethical, and harmful to individuals and the United States.

The Thought Police Have Arrived

big-brother

Many of the revelations and various scandals over the last couple months have been a treasure trove for affirming everything that libertarians believe and have been warning about. The government is already big enough to violate our rights wholesale, and more information about the scope  of their surveillance and data collection hits the news everyday. The latest is about the top secret NSA program PRISM, exposed in a leak of the classified document which details the program. Apparently the FBI, CIA, and NSA have back door access to the servers of Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Skype, Facebook, AOL, Youtube, and Apple, and can collect user information at will. The Guardian obtained the leaked document and exposed the vast, “1984” style surveillance which has been growing in the United States exponentially since Obama took office, but was first initiated under President Bush.

A chart prepared by the NSA, contained within the top-secret document obtained by the Guardian, underscores the breadth of the data it is able to obtain: email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice-over-IP (Skype, for example) chats, file transfers, social networking details, and more.

The program costs about $20 million per year, in order to give government the ability to violate our Fourth amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure. The Constitution is quite clear that for the government to be able to collect data on its citizens, they must go through due process, first showing probable cause that a crime has taken place, and obtaining a warrant to further investigate the suspect. No warrants or due process is involved in this collection and storing of innocent civilians’ data. The whole PRISM program gives insight into why the NSA built the new gigantic data storage facility which was recently completed in Utah. The FAA, Fisa Amendments Act, is the surveillance law used to justify the PRISM program, which was renewed in December of 2012.

When the law was enacted, defenders of the FAA argued that a significant check on abuse would be the NSA’s inability to obtain electronic communications without the consent of the telecom and internet companies that control the data. But the PRISM program renders that consent unnecessary, as it allows the agency to directly and unilaterally seize the communications off the companies’ servers.

When the NSA reviews a communication it believes merits further investigation, it issues what it calls a “report”. According to the NSA, “over 2,000 PRISM-based reports” are now issued every month. There were 24,005 in 2012, a 27% increase on the previous year.

In total, more than 77,000 intelligence reports have cited the PRISM program.

That means 77,000 investigations have been initiated based on evidence illegally obtained by the government, without court orders or warrants. Government is too big, and the latest scandals have shown us that their good intentions cannot be trusted. The government will in fact, and has been caught, harassing reporters, intimidating political organizations, suppressing free speech, subverting due process, and spying on average, everyday innocent American civilians. The checks and balances need to be restored in this country, starting with eliminating whole agencies at the federal level. It is time states step up and reclaim their rights, so that our strong centralized government cannot hide what it is doing, and get away with violating the Constitution on a regular basis.

Repealing the 16th amendment which funds the excess of federal government through the authorization of the income tax, would be a great place to start, as well as eliminating the back door tax through inflation initiated by the Federal Reserve. This would mean the federal government would need to roll back their unconstitutional programs and agencies in order to continue funding their real responsibilities laid out in the Constitution. And the best way to begin restoring states rights would be to repeal the 17th amendment, which made it so U.S. Senators are now elected by popular vote in their states, where as they used to be elected by each state legislature. This process of giving the legislatures a voice in the federal government made it so that state governments were represented in the federal government, and could kill legislation harmful to states, or enact legislation which protected states’ rights. Decentralizing control, and decentralizing our government will provide more checks in our system, to make sure our rights are not violated by governments who have grown too big and strong to be stopped from violating individuals’ rights.

What more abuse of power will it take to convince the American people that our federal government has moved beyond its role, and grown too big? What will it take for people to suspect the government of wrongdoing enough to limit their powers? I hope it doesn’t have to get much worse than this.

FBI Seeks Warrant to Hack Webcam

surveilancecam

A judge denied the FBI’s request for a warrant to hack into a suspect’s computer, and activate their webcam without them knowing, according to the Daily Caller. This is something that online hackers already do, illegally, to unsuspecting targets. Under these conditions the FBI would also have access to all files on the computer, as well as the capability to set up “back doors” so that they could go back later to collect more information, without another warrant. This is also part of the reason why the judge denied their request, because he felt that judges have not been kept in the loop adequately when dealing with FBI surveillance. The Fourth amendment says that when a warrant is issued it must particularly describe the place to be searched, and the things to be searched or seized. This is why at least one judge felt that the webcam monitoring with capabilities to return to that suspects computer at any time to continue surveillance went beyond the scope of what a search warrant allows the FBI to do.

The judge also did not think that the bureau had provided him with enough information. Smith said he was not sure whether he even had the authority to permit a search that could occur outside of his district. All the FBI had was an email address.

The ACLU has concerns that the FBI will just get one warrant, and run with it for as long as they need to, which is why they believe that judges need to be kept in the loop in order to have oversight, and make sure the FBI is not abusing their powers while investigating crimes.

“If the FBI is going to pretend to be a U.S. company, the judge should be told; if the FBI is going to release a virus so it can spread from one computer to the next, the judge should be told because of the potential that it could spread to the computers of innocent people,” he said.

“If they’re going to leave a backdoor so that they can get access a week or a month or a year later, the judge should be told and should have to authorize that,” he said.

Of course the entire point of having to get a warrant is to have judicial oversight, so that law enforcement cannot get ahead of themselves and violate people’s rights in the name of criminal justice. The scary thing is that if the FBI is requesting a warrant for this type of hacking, chances are some government agency has already done it; perhaps the ones who operate a bit more below the radar like the NSA and CIA. Since the NSA has already engaged in tactics of collecting and storing data on innocent civilians in a form that could be searched like google, and according to whistleblower Bill Binney are already reading our emails, I would be surprised if this tactic of hacking into a webcam had not been used by the NSA already. If they have had in the past no concern for our civil liberties and Constitutional rights, there is no reason to think that they would seek a warrant in any given circumstance. The more judicial oversight of these types of surveillance practices the better.

Obama Admin Wants to Expand Spy Agencies’ Access to Banking Database

surveilancecam

Did you know that banks are required to report any personal cash transactions of over $10,000 to FinCEN, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network? More than 15 million “suspicious activity reports” are filed by banks each year, according to Reuters. The suspicious activity being reported also includes “suspected incidents of money laundering, loan fraud, computer hacking or counterfeiting”. The data is then stored in a massive database which the FBI can dig through at will. Now, the Obama administration wants to give all U.S. spy agencies including the CIA, and NSA the same ability to peruse the illegally stored data. It is being stored illegally, because it was collected without a warrant with banks facing possible criminal discipline if they refuse to comply with the reporting requirements. The Fourth Amendment enshrines Americans’ rights to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable search and seizure.

If spy agencies have the right to dig through Americans’ financial information, without a warrant, before anyone has been indicted with a crime, this clearly violates the Constitutional rights of those citizens. Furthermore, banks massively over report suspicious activity for fear of breaking federal law reporting requirements.

The requirements for filing are so strict that banks often over-report, so they cannot be accused of failing to disclose activity that later proves questionable. This over-reporting raises the possibility that the financial details of ordinary citizens could wind up in the hands of spy agencies.

As I write this, I recall a phone call from my bank a few years ago. I was informed that a large amount of money had been deposited into my investment account, and suspecting it was a mistake, they asked if I was expecting any transfers. After joking, “well, that depends, how much was it?” the man on the phone gave a nervous chuckle, and reminded me that the phone call was being recorded. I laughed and said no, I was not expecting any deposits, and by the time I checked my account there was no trace of any money, other than my own, entering or leaving my account. It sounds to me that under federal requirements, the bank would have faced possible penalties for not reporting the incident, complete with my name, account numbers, and social security number. I am guessing that this information is now floating around in the FinCEN database, just waiting to prove that I’m a terrorist.

Since I was never informed of any collection of my information by the federal government, if the bank did in fact report the incident, that constitutes an unreasonable seizure of my financial records and information, and an unreasonable, warrent-less search of my papers and effects. The Fourth Amendment continues that “no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized”. Banks are forced to report incidents based on a blanket rule, therefore no warrant has been obtained to collect the information, and certainly the particular place (account) being searched or information being seized has not been specified by the government.

This would be akin to a federal requirement that all houses using more than a certain amount of water be reported by the water company to the EPA, so that the EPA could see if any crimes had been broken. Or what if a black-box recorded everything you did in your car, and sent that information to the government without informing you. 5 years later you are charged for a list of crimes including speeding, rolling through stop-signs, running a red light, failing to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk, texting while driving, reckless driving, and endangering a child. You lose your license for life, are forced to pay $5,000 in fines, and serve a 6-month jail sentence. This situation is no different than the government collecting all information about transactions over $10,000 and trolling through the data until they find a financial crime, or at least what looks like it could be a case. The point of the rights of the accused in the bill of rights is that there has to be suspicion of a crime before information is collected on someone. In fact, according to an article on justice.gov:

If law enforcement officers in this country believe a crime has been committed and wish to conduct a related search, they must first request a search warrant from a court. A search warrant is a court order that allows limited exploration and inspection in an effort to obtain evidence in support of the crime alleged. Before a judge issues a search warrant, she must be convinced that the requested search, whether it is for a home, car, or other personal property, will likely lead to evidence of the crime.

The legal basis for collecting this information and sharing it between agencies comes from the Banking Secrecy Act, and the USA PATRIOT Act. It is up to vigilant citizens to hold the government accountable for their violations of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We also need to hold the politicians accountable who approve bills like the Banking Secrecy Act and USA PATRIOT Act. It is our responsibility as citizens not to elect the type of leaders who would pass unconstitutional bills, and act like that is all the justification they need to violate our rights.

The Thought Police Are Closing In

A high school student recently got a visit from the FBI because of a school project which earned him an A. The video below is what he turned in, and the cause of the visit from the FBI. The student suspects that a teacher at the school informed someone higher up about conversations the student had regarding “the Illuminati” and that this administrator then alerted the FBI. Is this video worth a visit from the FBI? On the surface, no. That is why the FBI’s visit should raise red flags for all of us. Just why exactly were they afraid of this high school student and his video? (Full Article).

 

Maybe this interesting video could shed a little light about what is going on. Protect the internet, and refuse to allow 360 degree surveillance by the government, otherwise by the time we object, it will be too late.

 

 

Continue reading about government surveillance here.