Contact Form


Email *

Message *

Saturday, June 22, 2013

When Will Snowden Return To US? Very Soon Or Never?

Our opinion is that Snowden will be returned to the US, only after China has gotten everything it needs from him. No sooner. We suspect it will be within a year and it will be explained that Obama and the new Chinese head of state reached that agreement a week ago. Could we be wrong, absolutely.

So what do you think?

Conservative Tom

Snowden Extradition Battle in Hong Kong Could Go on for Years

Image: Snowden Extradition Battle in Hong Kong Could Go on for Years
Saturday, 22 Jun 2013 08:08 AM

More . . .
A    A   |
   Email Us   |
   Print   |
A former U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor charged with spying by the United States and in hiding in Hong Kong is expected to be the subject of a formal extradition request at any time in what could drag into a legal battle lasting years.
Since making his revelations about massive U.S. surveillance programmes, legal sources in Hong Kong say Edward Snowden, 30, has sought legal representation from human rights lawyers as he prepares to fight U.S. attempts to force him home for trial.
U.S. authorities have charged Snowden with theft of U.S. government property, unauthorized communication of national defence information and wilful communication of classified communications intelligence to an unauthorized person, with the latter two charges coming under the U.S. Espionage Act.
The United States and Hong Kong signed an extradition treaty which came into effect in 1998, a year after Hong Kong returned from British to Chinese rule. Scores of Americans have been sent back home for trial since then.
While espionage and theft of state secrets are not cited specifically in the treaty, equivalent charges could be pressed against Snowden under Hong Kong's Official Secrets Ordinance, legal experts said.
If Hong Kong authorities did not charge Snowden with an equivalent crime, authorities could not extradite him, lawyers said. In the absence of charges, Snowden was also theoretically free to leave the city, one legal expert said.
Simon Young, a law professor at the University of Hong Kong, said that while the first charge involving theft might readily find equivalence in Hong Kong, the latter two spying offences will likely attract "litigation and dispute" in the courts.
The timeframe for such proceedings remains unclear, but Hectar Pun, a barrister with human rights expertise, was quoted as saying such an extradition could take three to five years.
Under Hong Kong's extradition mechanism, a request first goes through diplomatic channels to Hong Kong's leader, who decides whether to issue an "authority to proceed". If granted, a magistrate issues a formal warrant for the arrest of Snowden.
Once brought before the court, the judge would decide whether there was sufficient evidence to commit Snowden to trial or dismiss the case, though any decision could be appealed in a higher court.
Snowden could claim political asylum in Hong Kong, arguing he would face torture back home. Article six of the treaty states extradition should be refused for "an offence of a political character".
"The unfairness of his trial at home and his likely treatment in custody" were important factors to consider for Snowden, said Young, the law professor, on Snowden's chances of claiming political immunity from extradition.
Should a Hong Kong court eventually call for Snowden's extradition, Hong Kong's leader and China could, however, still veto the decision on national security or defence grounds.
Snowden has admitted leaking secrets about classified U.S. surveillance programmes, which he said he did in the public interest. Supporters say he is a whistleblower, while critics call him a criminal and perhaps even a traitor.
© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Read Latest Breaking News from
Urgent: Should Obamacare Be Repealed? Vote Here Now!

Can Kerry Deliver--Only If Does What He Does Best--Lie

Image: Kerry Struggles to Deliver on Big Promises

Kerry Struggles to Deliver on Big Promises

Saturday, 22 Jun 2013 10:03 AM

More . . .
A    A   |
   Email Us   |
   Print   |
WASHINGTON — In four months as secretary of state, John Kerry has certainly promised great things. Now he has to deliver.
In the Middle East, he has raised hopes his solo diplomatic effort can produce a historic breakthrough ending six decades of Arab-Israeli conflict.
He has pledged to bring Syrian President Bashar Assad's government to heel and to work with Russia to end Syria's civil war.
He has suggested rolling back U.S. missile defense in the Pacific if China can help rid North Korea of nuclear weapons. He has hinted at possible one-on-one talks between the U.S. and the reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong Un if it would help.
Since succeeding Hillary Rodham Clinton as America's top diplomat, Kerry has issued several as yet undelivered — and perhaps undeliverable — pledges to allies and rivals alike, proving a source of concern for Obama's policy team. It is trying to rein in Kerry somewhat, according to officials, which is difficult considering Kerry has spent almost half his tenure so far in the air or on the road, from where his most dissonant policy statements have come.
The White House quickly distanced itself from both Kerry's North Korea remarks and has now, since President Barack Obama's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Northern Ireland this past week, seen up close the strength of Moscow's resistance to Kerry's Syria strategy.
All the officials interviewed for this story spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to evaluate Kerry's performance publicly.
Reporting for work at the State Department in February, the former Democratic senator from Massachusetts quickly outlined his ambitions.
Clinton still harbored thoughts of a second potential presidential run when she arrived at the department. But aides say Kerry, a 69-year-old Vietnam veteran, is giving himself completely to a job that in many ways is the climax of his political career and the realization of a lifelong dream after years as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Now he wants to tackle head-on the world's thorniest foreign policy conundrums.
Kerry, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, "believes this difficult moment in the world requires a willingness to address complicated issues. He believes the risk of high-stakes, personal diplomacy are far less than the risk of leaving difficult situations to fester or spiral out of control. That's why he has invigorated our efforts in critical areas — such as North Korea, Syria and the Middle East peace process — and has personally invested time and effort to move the ball forward."
No challenge may now be bigger than Syria, where a two-year civil war has killed at least 93,000 people.
Signaling a shift from the cautious approach of Obama's first term, Kerry announced his first trip abroad would focus on changing Assad's belief that he could prevail militarily and on pushing him into eventually relinquishing power. Since then, however, the fighting has only gotten worse. Thousands more have died as Assad firmed his grip over much of the country and the U.S. hasn't even delivered all the nonlethal aid Kerry promised Syria's rebels, let alone any of the weapons or ammunition that Obama recently authorized.
Having failed to reshape the war, Kerry changed strategy by going to Moscow to re-launch a peace process for Syria that Clinton engineered in June 2012 but had been all but forgotten in the months since. In Moscow, Kerry boasted that the former Cold War foes just accomplished "great things when the world needs it" by deciding to convene an international conference, perhaps by the end of May, that would include Syria's government and opposition.
That conference has been delayed until at least July, and maybe August, and it might never come off at all given the opposition's refusal to negotiate while it is losing land to Assad and getting so little help from the United States and other Western powers. That failure falls directly on Kerry, who as part of the U.S.-Russian approach was tasked with delivering the opposition to the bargaining table.
Russia may have lived up to its end of the bargain by guaranteeing the Assad government's attendance at any future peace conference. But Putin and the Kremlin also have been undermining peace efforts by sending more weapons to help the Syrian government's counteroffensive.
Kerry's one-man diplomacy in Syria is in some ways emblematic of his tenure.
Officials say he opted to revive the U.S.-Russian strategy for a Syrian transitional government during his walk in the backyard of a Moscow guesthouse with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, informing aides only after of his decision. Afterward, he insisted he wasn't simply rewinding the clock by a year because the U.S. and Russia were now going to find ways to put the plan in place.
More than two months later, there has been no progress.
On Middle East peace, too, Kerry has put his credibility on the line.
Refusing to avoid one of the world's most difficult conflicts, as Obama and Clinton largely did over the second two years of the first administration, Kerry has made four trips to the region to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and senior government members from both sides. Kerry will visit the region again this coming week to try to push the two sides back into talks, despite little to show so far for his efforts.
Kerry insists his quiet diplomacy is making headway, a claim that only he, Netanyahu and Abbas truly can substantiate because most of the discussions are one-on-one. Several senior Israeli and Palestinian officials have suggested otherwise in highly critical comments to local and international media. Few American officials, however, seem to know what is going on because they say Kerry rarely briefs even the most experienced U.S. negotiators in that part of the world on his talks.
At times, the process has seemed ad hoc.
In Jordan last month, Kerry announced a sketchy $4 billion economic revitalization strategy for the West Bank that would accompany his peace plan. No details were provided, and U.S. officials even sent reporters to aides of U.N. peace mediator Tony Blair for more information. Blair's staff wouldn't provide information or even confirm that the outline of an economic plan exists. Officials say Kerry's friend, investor Tim Collins, is handling the portfolio, though it's unclear if any money has been secured.
On Mideast peace, Kerry is largely fighting the battle alone. Since Obama's visit to Israel in March, Kerry has gotten almost no public displays of support from the president, with the White House appearing reluctant to stake political capital in an endeavor that so often has proved a disappointment.
Some U.S. officials have scoffed at the notion that Kerry is getting anywhere, though they allow that the White House has given him until roughly September to produce a resumption of negotiations.
Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser, praised Kerry's efforts thus far.
"None of these are issues that you can solve in a few months," Rhodes said. "The fact that he is taking these on with the energy he has is a great asset to the administration. These are the toughest challenges we have."
Kerry's individualist approach to foreign policy is partly a matter of circumstances and partly intentional.
With few Senate-confirmed senior officials in place at the State Department, Kerry has been short of aides at the highest level who might act as envoys to drive forward his agenda in his absence. Among others, Clinton had George Mitchell to push Mideast peace and Richard Holbrooke in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Kerry lacks any such high-profile figures at his side.
Those who've worked closely with Kerry say the approach also reflects the great stock he puts in his personal diplomacy and the belief, perhaps more widely shared in the rarified air of the Senate, that leaning on his close relationships with foreign leaders and dignitaries can deliver more results than delegating authority to capable bureaucrats.
That has left Kerry doing much of the work himself, from ordering up policy papers to envisioning new initiatives, while traveling the world or publicly regaling foreign ministers in Washington with stories of their past encounters or meals in exotic capitals.
Kerry makes it a point to stress the long-standing friendships he maintains all over the world. And his network of contacts may have played a role in the only tangible concession he has gained so far in the Middle East: a decision by Arab countries to sweeten their comprehensive offer to Israel for peace with the Palestinians.
The Arab League's proposal now allows Israel to keep some of the land it conquered in the 1967 Mideast war on condition that Israel agrees to cede territory on its side to a future Palestine. Kerry hasn't been able to announce any commensurate move from Netanyahu, who brushed the Arab terms aside.
Some U.S. officials wince at another legacy of Kerry's Senate years: his penchant for loose or inaccurate talk.
On his very first day as secretary, he recounted his childhood bike rides in postwar Berlin past Adolf Hitler's tomb. Hitler had no tomb. On more substantial issues of policy, he has made questionable claims over everything from U.S. drone policy to climate change.
At other times officials have questioned his restraint, such as when he lauded America's emerging "special relationship" with communist China. For one of the United States' principal geopolitical foes, Kerry was using a diplomatic term generally reserved for ironclad U.S. allies such as Britain and Israel.
He also seemingly ad-libbed unauthorized offers of a softened military posture to China and engagement to North Korea in a bid to calm tensions, which aides believe his engagement helped achieve.
On a trip to Turkey, he irritated advocates of Israel by appearing to compare the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing with the Turks killed in a 2010 Israeli commando operation on a ship trying to break Israel's blockade of Gaza. Days later, in Brussels, he raised eyebrows by suggesting that one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects became radicalized while on a trip to Russia, something investigators had not concluded.
For all his idiosyncratic style, Kerry has not dodged any diplomatic fight. He has even spoken privately of taking on Cyprus' four-decade deadlock between ethnic Greeks in the south and Turkish Cypriots in the north. He sought to re-engage the U.S. with post-Hugo Chavez Venezuela on a trip to Guatemala this month, helping secure the release of an American filmmaker jailed for alleged espionage.
Officials say other governments Washington has long seen as rogues — from Cuba to Zimbabwe — could get a fresh look.
With no election around the corner and few worries about his image, Kerry has shown a willingness to think big.
Soon, however, he'll have to produce.
© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Read Latest Breaking News from
Urgent: Should Obamacare Be Repealed? Vote Here Now!

1984 On Steroids

Brandon Smith writes a very provocative article on the future of surveillance in America. It is long but very thought provoking. 

We are facing some very dark days in the US, if this trend is not stopped. It is important that everyone know about the challenges to our freedoms that technology is presenting. Take one example, drones.  How long will it be before an armed drone kills a US citizen in the US?  We fear the time is near.  Will you still feel as safe then as you do now?  We won't!

Conservative Tom

The Dark Future Of America’s Surveillance Culture

June 18, 2013 by  
The Dark Future Of America’s Surveillance Culture
Surveillance is the act of removing transparency from one person while operating under a veil of secrecy yourself. Surveillance is a one-sided exploitation of cultural violence, like a street mugging backed by ideological rationalizations. To be able to invade the life of another human being at will; to catalog his hopes, dreams and weaknesses; to put yourself in a position to judge him from a discreet distance or undermine his future entirely: This is what surveillance is truly about. Make no mistake, mass surveillance is not about safety; it’s about power. It is a means of enslavement.
When a government chooses to assume the role of watcher and godlike arbiter in the affairs of the citizenry, there is always a specific motivation; and that motivation is usually self-preservation. Government elites spy on the public because they have done or are about to do things that will trigger resentment and rebellion within the population. They keep tabs on us because they fear what we will eventually do to them. They watch us because they plan to hurt us, and they want to be sure they get away with it.
There are no other reasons for random sweeping infringements of the public’s right to privacy. There is no other rationale for treating every person as a threat without warrant, without legitimate judicial oversight and without probable cause. Only criminal governments desire the legal authority to remove the barriers of personal privacy, because only they have something to gain through the action.
America as a society is at perhaps the most dangerous crossroads faced by any nation in history. We must decide — right here, right now — if we are going to embrace absolute government intrusion on a technological level never before seen by man or if we are going to fully revolt against it. Now, some people might suggest that there is a line that will not be crossed, that the establishment will respect certain boundaries and that the surveillance apparatus we have now will be the apparatus that stands forever. I’m here to tell those people that they have no idea what they are talking about.
Take a good look at any government in modern history that has been allowed the kind of surveillance powers our government is currently demanding. Did Soviet Russia respect any particular boundaries dealing with individual liberty? Did the East German Stasi ever draw a moral line in the sand when it came to their suffocating network of informants and eavesdroppers? Did Mao Zedong’s China choose to simply “observe” political dissidents without using those observations to destroy them? The surveillance machine only moves forward. It never stands still — not for anyone or anything.
The recent exposure to the general public of National Security Agency mass phone tracking (and tapping) programs have caused a groundswell awakening. What we in the liberty movement already knew years ago has finally struck the lackadaisical senses of the mainstream like a bucket of ice water. However, as terrible and bewildering as the surveillance grid is today, it is nothing compared to what lies ahead if we allow the establishment even one foothold tomorrow.

The Nightmare Has Just Begun

Without transparency or oversight by the citizenry, the technology in existence today and being perfected over the coming years will lead to nothing short of the total subjugation of humanity. Forget the NSA’s wiretapping random phone lines or all phone lines; imagine every waking moment of your life recorded and filed. Imagine every thought you ever uttered or typed scrutinized for “keywords” and analyzed to discern whether you might dissent. Imagine an invasive machine engineered not just to place you under a microscope, but also to mold your very behavior with the constant threat of bureaucratic retaliation.
Perhaps this sounds like science fiction, but for many people, the NSA’s sifting through the phone and email records of more than 300 million people daily used to be science fiction. Here are some of the surveillance advancements I believe the establishment will use next on a wide scale — for our own safety, of course.
The perpetual tap: If this doesn’t exist already, it will soon. The NSA’s process of “interception” (the monitoring of Internet and phone traffic for keywords and key phrases) might seem like an impractical strategy, given the incredible amounts of data they are required to sift through. That said, many corporations and clandestine services already have powerful software that is able to filter through mass communications and discover patterns in real time. With computing power reaching levels never before dreamed of, the possibility of perpetual real-time monitoring of hundreds of millions of individuals with the intent to record everything they say and do electronically is fast arriving. Website habits, speech patterns, purchasing habits, mood swings, relationship issues, psychological attachments and detachments would all be noted and stored. Keywords and pattern recognition would allow spies to build elaborate profiles on every American — updated daily, if not hourly. One could not even be privately discontent in such a world.
A surveillance device in every home: It’s sad when Yakov Smirnoff  becomes a prophet of your era, but the old joke applies today: In soviet America, TV watches you!
The next stage in consumer technology is often called the “Internet of Things.” This refers to the new lines of Web-connected appliances being progressively introduced onto the market. These include everything from televisions that record program-watching habits and video game consoles equipped with camera technology, all the way down to alarm clocks that record sleeping habits and doorbells that monitor how many visits you receive per day. The argument for such tech presented by corporations is that the Internet of Things will help them to better service the public by identifying and catering to more specific consumption habits. However, former CIA Director David Petraus reveled in the idea of the Internet of Things and its usefulness to the CIA, stating in 2012: “Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters—all connected to the next-generation Internet using abundant, low cost, and high-power computing—the latter now going to cloud computing, in many areas greater and greater supercomputing, and, ultimately, heading to quantum computing.”
I believe that, one day, such smart appliances with surveillance capabilities will be mandated, either at the manufacturing level or at the home level, by the Environmental Protection Agency, using “environmental concerns” as an excuse.
Pervasive RFID: Most people have at least heard of radio-frequency identification chips. Many people, though, do not seem to understand the malicious nature of such technology. RFID chips, the size of a grain of rice, will soon be embedded in every conceivable consumer item, allowing each purchase to be cataloged and even tracked. Buy a pair of shoes with RFID and forget to remove the chip, and every time you walk by a scanner in the mall or on the street your presence could be noted and filed. But this is just the beginning of RFID.
Initiatives have been suggested multiple times by various government agencies and politicians to include RFID technology in ID cards, Social Security cards and even citizenship cards (an idea meant to use citizen concerns over illegal immigration as a way to lure us into accepting RFID). RFID has also been suggested for use in the medical field on many levels, which brings us to our next surveillance abuse.
Surveillance by doctor: There are literally hundreds of problems with Obamacare, and universal healthcare in general; but a primary threat that is just beginning to surface is the use of medical surveillance as a political weapon. Already, the Federal government has tried to establish rules for physicians requiring them to note patients who, in their opinion, might be psychologically unstable and should be denied the right to firearms ownership.
I believe the Obamacare structure is ultimately not meant to build even a poorly run socialist health system. Rather, it is meant to build a highly effective surveillance system using healthcare professionals as informants and opening private medical records to incessant bureaucratic overwatch. Today, it’s mental stability and gun rights. Maybe tomorrow it will be any loose-lipped expression of dissent or distaste for authority. The obvious next step, following the surveillance cultures of the past, would be for government to draft the professional class into the fold by using them as eyes and ears.
Drone planet: We are all aware of the exponential use of drones around the world, and many people are even educated on the U.S. government’s intentions to launch at least 30,000 drones into America’s skies for domestic surveillance in the near term. The problem is not existing drone technology, though; it is the drone technology about to be released.
Micro-drones are already being fielded by the U.S. military for use in operations, and small drones are being issued to law enforcement departments for riot control. Micro-drones, though still dependent on line of sight, are cheaper and easier to produce than larger varieties. A swarm of such drones could be unleashed for the cost of a single predator model, and would have the capability to provide clandestine monitoring of hard to reach areas. All I can say is, for those who plan any practical activism or revolution, study in electromagnetics will be essential.
Biometric roadblocks: Naked body scanners, which were used by the Transportation Security Administration until May 16, stored biometric data on all passengers foolish enough to not opt out, as was proven time after time. Many people in the liberty movement have long suspected that the cattle-call manner in which the TSA collected this private information was only a warm-up to a much wider net to be cast over the streets of America. The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Maryland v. King to uphold police ability to take DNA samples during an arrest (even if charges are never filed) supports this suspicion.
The next step is random DNA recording at roadside blocks and then on sidewalks in your town. This process will be implemented in tandem with new ID laws, which will give a more substantial legal rationalization for random seizures of genetic property. Biometric surveillance will be the ultimate destruction of the 4th Amendment. It removes all anonymity, until every person becomes nothing more than a data set and a file; and unless a person finds a way to change his own genetic characteristics, that file will follow him forever.
These are only a handful of examples on how our current surveillance grid will become far worse than most Americans expect. The point is clear: there is no end to this game. It never stops. It never gives a moment’s peace.
The arguments in support of the surveillance state always assume that there will be no consequences for those who do nothing wrong. How many times have we heard this dismissal: “The government can watch me all they want. They’ll just get bored because I have nothing to hide.”
What these apologists do not seem to grasp is that government surveillance is not a passive tool, but a vicious weapon. Surveillance maims and kills free society — first psychologically, then physically. It forces acceptance of prior restraint, making thought crimes punishable and concrete activism impossible. If we do not stop the institutionalization of surveillance here and now, every single citizen, whether he believes himself innocent or not, will find himself a target.
Brandon Smith

Snowden Charged with Espionage

Ex-Contractor Is Charged in Leaks on N.S.A. Surveillance

Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor whose leak of agency documents has set off a national debate over the proper limits of government surveillance, has been charged with violating the Espionage Act and stealing government property for disclosing classified information to The Guardian and The Washington Post, the Justice Department said on Friday.

Readers’ Comments

Each of the three charges unsealed on Friday carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, for a total of 30 years. But Mr. Snowden is likely to be indicted, and additional counts may well be added. In addition to the theft charge, the two charges under the Espionage Act include “unauthorized communication of national defense information” and “willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person.” Communications intelligence is the technical term for eavesdropping and other electronic intercepts.
The charges were filed on June 14 by federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia, which handles many national security cases. American officials said they have asked the authorities in Hong Kong, where Mr. Snowden is believed to be in hiding, to detain him while an indictment and an extradition request are prepared. The attempt to extradite him is likely to produce a long legal battle whose outcome is uncertain. The extradition treaty between the United States and Hong Kong includes an exception for political offenses, and Mr. Snowden could argue that his prosecution is political in nature.
Hong Kong has limited autonomy, but matters involving national security and foreign policy are controlled by the Chinese government in Beijing, whose view of the possible extradition of Mr. Snowden is unclear. Last week, hundreds of people turned out in the rain for a protest outside the United States Consulate in Hong Kong demanding that officials not cooperate with any American extradition request. The Global Times, a mainland newspaper controlled by the Communist Party, called an extradition of Mr. Snowden an “inconceivable option” in a recent commentary.
The charges against Mr. Snowden, first reported by The Washington Post, are the seventh case under President Obama in which a government official has been criminally charged with leaking classified information to the news media. Under all previous presidents, just three such cases have been brought.
Mr. Snowden, who turned 30 on Friday, fled to Hong Kong last month, carrying four laptops, after leaving his job at the N.S.A.’s eavesdropping station in Hawaii. He has given hundreds of highly classified documents to The Guardian, the British newspaper, which has been writing a series of revelatory articles about American and British eavesdropping, and a smaller number to The Post.
Mr. Snowden’s disclosures have opened an unprecedented window on the details of surveillance by the N.S.A., including its compilation of logs of virtually all telephone calls in the United States and its collection of e-mails of foreigners from the major American Internet companies, including Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple and Skype.
Mr. Snowden, who has said he was shocked by what he believed to be the N.S.A.’s invasion of Americans’ and foreigners’ privacy, told The Guardian that he leaked the documents because he believed the limits of surveillance should be decided not by government officials in secret but by American citizens.
American intelligence officials have said his disclosures have done serious damage to national security by giving terrorists and others information on how to evade the intelligence net.
Mr. Snowden’s supporters, including some associated with the antisecrecy organization WikiLeaks, have approached officials in Iceland on his behalf to inquire about whether he might be granted asylum there. Iceland’s Ministry of the Interior, however, said in a statement that he must be present in the country in order to file an asylum application.
An Icelandic businessman with ties to WikiLeaks, Olafur Vignir Sigurvinsson, has told reporters that he has private aircraft on standby, prepared to fly Mr. Snowden to Iceland. But the American charges and detention request may short-circuit any attempt to reach Iceland.
Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian columnist who received most of Mr. Snowden’s leaked documents, blasted the Obama administration over the Espionage Act charges on his Twitter feed. “How is leaking to a newspaper and informing one’s fellow citizens about secret govt behavior ’espionage’???” Mr. Greenwald wrote. 

Reporting was contributed by Charlie Savage from Washington, Gerry Mullany from Hong Kong and John F. Burns from London.

Farm Bill Far From The Farm

Farm Bill: Is Today’s GOP to the Left of Bush?

It’s widely accepted that George W. Bush was a big-spending president. He was a social conservative, but not a fiscal one. To his credit, however, even Bush recognized how wasteful and unfair farm subsidies are, and he vetoed the last major farm bill in 2008.
That bill “would needlessly expand the size and scope of government,” he said in his veto message. Unfortunately, Congress overrode Bush’s veto and the 2008 farm bill became law at an estimated taxpayer cost of $640 billion over 10 years.
Congress is moving ahead on another farm bill this year, with the Senate recently passing its version and the House to take up a bill shortly. The Senate-passed bill would spend $955 billion over 10 years—49 percent more than the 2008 bill that was too expensive even for Bush.
Four-fifths of the spending in this year’s farm bill is for food stamps, yet 18 Republican senators still voted for it. Perhaps those members hadn’t noticed that the cost of food stamps has quadrupled over the last decade. Perhaps they hadn’t noticed that federal government debt has doubled since 2008. To members who see themselves as fiscal conservatives, it should be obvious that a less expensive bill this time around is appropriate, rather than one that is far more expensive.
The farm bill to be considered by the House would spend $940 billion over 10 years, and thus is almost as irresponsible as the Senate version. Despite what farm bill supporters are saying, this year’s bill represents a huge spending increase, not a cut.
In his 2008 veto message, Bush noted that the farm bill “continues subsidies for the wealthy,” and he pointed to the high and rising incomes enjoyed by farmers. Farmers are doing even better today, with theirincomes soaring over the last five years.
Today’s Republicans often admit that federal spending got out of control under President Bush. But now John Boehner is saying that he will support the new House farm bill that spends 47 percent more than the one Bush vetoed.