In the USA...United Surveillance AmericaNSA reformers dismayed after privacy board vindicates surveillance dragnet
Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board endorses agency's so-called '702' powers, plus backdoor searches of Americans' information
Spencer Ackerman in Washington
theguardian.com, Wednesday 2 July 2014 19.47 BST
Civil libertarians saw their hopes for curtailing the National Security Agency's massive digital surveillance program dimmed in the wake of a report from a US government privacy board vindicating much of the international communications dragnet.
The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) voted Wednesday to adopt a 200-page report on the NSA's so-called "702" powers, which include the widespread collection of foreign email, voice and text messages and Americans' international calls.
While PCLOB chairman David Medine said those efforts walked "right up to the line of constitutionality," the report largely vindicated the controversial surveillance, the scope of which was disclosed through reporting on documents provided by Edward Snowden, as both effective and legal.
Elisebeth Collins Cook, one of five board members and a Justice Department official in the Bush administration, hailed the digital surveillance as "legal, valuable and subject to intense oversight," and characterized the PCLOB's recommendations as "relatively slight changes at the margins of the program."
In ways both bold and subtle, the long-awaited report blessed the NSA's large-scale collection of digital data, even as it found elements of it problematic.
The PCLOB denied that the 702 siphoning is bulk collection, even though it annually provides the NSA with "hundreds of millions" of different sorts of communications -- blessing an NSA definition that considers only indiscriminate collection, untethered to surveillance targets, to be bulk.
"It's a big program, but it is a targeted program," Medine said after the sparsely-attended Wednesday hearing, which was held in the basement of a Marriott between Congress and the White House.
Civil libertarians castigated the PCLOB over what they consider a counterintuitive definition.
"They say if we're collecting everything from Egypt that's not bulk, everything from [area code] 202 that's not bulk, everything from gmail.com that's not bulk, and that's just bullshit," said Jennifer Granick of the Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society.
Dealing another blow to privacy advocates, the board endorsed the NSA, CIA and FBI's warrantless, so-called "backdoor" searches for information from Americans, just weeks after the House of Representatives voted to ban them. While Medine and another board member, former federal judge Patricia Wald, wanted to add greater legal protections, the board advocated restricting the FBI's warrantless searches and urged NSA and CIA analysts to certify that their queries are "reasonably likely to return foreign intelligence information."
"We have seen no evidence of a backdoor, so our recommendations are designed to make sure one is not built," Cook said.
Perhaps most controversially, the PCLOB gave a qualified endorsement to the NSA's practice of siphoning directly from the Internet information that merely references a surveillance target even if the correspondence is neither from nor sent to that target, a practice known as "about" collection.
The PCLOB acknowledged that "about" collection would mean the inevitable collection of purely domestic communications that the NSA is expressly not permitted to acquire, a circumstance intelligence officials called technologically unavoidable after they were compelled to disclose significant overcollection last summer. It urged the NSA to "continually" revisit technological feasibility and the scope of its targeting in order to minimize the intrusion into US privacy. It was far less concerned about non-US privacy considerations.
"About" collection played at most a background role in what now appears to be an epochal 2007-8 debate in Congress to bless what had previously been a surveillance program almost entirely operated by executive prerogative. The PCLOB nevertheless found that the resulting law, the 2008 Fisa Amendments Act, and its critical Section 702 provision, authorized such collection, something Medine said was a "permissible" interpretation by NSA.
All that amounted to a bitter pill for privacy advocates to swallow, particularly coming from a government body that in January had condemned the NSA's bulk surveillance of US phone data.
The PCLOB may have interrupted recent momentum in Congress towards preventing the US government from conducting backdoor searches.
Stanford's Granick held out hope that the PCLOB's assessment would inadvertently bolster the chances for a backdoor-search ban in Congress. The report's perceived moderation could aid legislators in curbing the searches on the argument that they would restore public confidence in US surveillance.
"But for the longer term goal of reining in warrantless, massive collection of communications and for getting countries to protect their communications of all people and not just their own citizens, this doesn't help us at all," Granick said.
The American Library Association similarly declared the PCLOB report a "serious disappointment" and said it should be "an absolute floor for 702 reform and a spur to immediate and broad legislative expansion."
Jameel Jaffer of the ACLU, who testified to the PCLOB in March, called the report "weak."
"It fails to fully grasp the significance of allowing the government to conduct surveillance on this massive scale, of allowing it to store millions of Americans' communications in government databases, and of allowing it to search those databases without any of the safeguards the Constitution has historically been held to require," Jaffer said in a Wednesday statement.
The Center for Constitutional Rights called the PCLOB's treatment of the constitutional implications at stake "disappointingly superficial."
"The board includes no mention whatsoever of free speech, due process, and right to counsel when analyzing the legality of the NSA’s collection of the content of communications between U.S. residents and persons of interest abroad," it said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the leader of the US intelligence community acknowledged his victory.
"In this important report, the PCLOB confirms that Section 702 has shown its value in preventing acts of terrorism at home and abroad, and pursuing other foreign intelligence goals," Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in a Wednesday statement, adding that he would take the board's privacy concerns "very seriously."
The PCLOB is not done reviewing the NSA's surveillance authorities and their implementation.
When the board next meets, on July 23, it will consider launching a new inquiry into one of the seminal texts behind US intelligence authorities, an executive order known as 12333. The NSA relies upon that obscure document for, among other things, its surreptitious collection of unencrypted information transiting from Google and Yahoo data centers. After the hearing adjourned Wednesday, Medine, Cook and Wald all indicated their appetite for reviewing 12333.
***************Review Report: NSA Surveillance Helped Smash Terror Plots
by Naharnet Newsdesk
03 July 2014, 07:03
The U.S. National Security Agency's electronic snooping led to "well over 100 arrests" and helped smash numerous terrorist plots, a privacy review panel said Wednesday.
The figures in a 196-page report by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) offer new details on the NSA's claims that its oft-criticized data sweep programs had helped avert terrorist attacks on the U.S. and its allies.
The report largely endorsed the electronic surveillance under a law known as Section 702.
"A rough count of these cases identifies well over 100 arrests on terrorism-related offenses," the report said.
"In other cases that did not lead to disruption of a plot or apprehension of conspirators, Section 702 appears to have been used to provide warnings about a continuing threat or to assist in investigations that remain ongoing."
The report said around 15 cases involved some connection to the United States, and some 40 cases involved operatives and plots in foreign countries.
PCLOB said the NSA's claims were largely in line with its own conclusions.
The report was in sharp contrast to the same panel's rebuke of domestic surveillance efforts earlier this year.
But civil liberties and privacy activists said the panel failed to consider the ramifications of the NSA's broad data collection in light of revelations from documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
The panel examined the program dubbed PRISM which collects data from major Internet companies and other sources.
***************US to boost security at overseas airports over al Qaeda ‘stealth’ bomb concerns in Syria, Yemen
Thursday, July 3, 2014 6:32 EDT
The United States said on Wednesday it would increase security at overseas airports with nonstop flights to the country, and U.S. officials cited concerns al Qaeda operatives in Syria and Yemen were developing bombs that could be smuggled onto planes.
The new security measures would be required at airports in Europe, Africa and the Middle East that have direct flights, the U.S. officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
The Department of Homeland Security said “enhanced security measures” would be implemented in the next few days at “certain overseas airports with direct flights into the United States.”
It did not specify which airports or what countries would be affected, nor did it say what triggered the extra precautions.
“We are sharing recent and relevant information with our foreign allies and are consulting the aviation industry,” DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement.
Johnson said he directed the Transportation Security Administration to implement the measures in the coming days. The move comes during the summer travel season and days before the July 4 holiday.
A U.S. official told Reuters some of the new measures would involve additional inspections of passengers’ shoes and property.
The official said Washington had legal authority to enforce new security requirements on foreign governments or airports because the flights go directly to the United States.
Asked about the enhanced security steps in an interview with MSNBC on Wednesday night, Johnson said: “We continually evaluate the world situation and we not infrequently make changes to aviation security. We either step it up or we feel sometimes we’re in a position to dial it back.
“So this is something that happens periodically and people should not overreact to it or overspeculate about what’s going on,” he said.
Adding there is “a terrorist threat to this country that remains,” Johnson said: “We continually evaluate the world situation and if we think that there are improvements that we can and should make without unnecessarily disrupting the traveling public, we’ll do that.”
Earlier, law enforcement and security officials told Reuters the United States and European authorities were discussing measures that could include installation of additional bomb-detection machines.
Bombmakers from the Nusra Front, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, and Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, are believed to be working together to try to develop explosives that could avoid detection by current airport screening systems, U.S. national security sources said.
The main concern is that militant groups could try to blow up U.S.- or Europe-bound planes by concealing bombs on foreign fighters carrying Western passports who spent time with Islamist rebel factions in the region, the sources said.
AQAP has a track record of plotting such attacks. It was behind a 2009 attempt by a militant with a bomb hidden in his underwear to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner.
There was no immediate indication U.S. intelligence had detected a specific plot or time frame for carrying out an attack. U.S. officials believe Nusra and AQAP operatives have carried out operational testing of new bomb designs in Syria, where Nusra is one of the main Islamist groups fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, a national security source said.
The “stealth” explosives the bombmakers are trying to design include non-metallic bombs, ABC News reported.
But officials are especially worried that the recent battlefield successes of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, an al Qaeda splinter group, have drawn a growing number of militants from America and Europe to the jihadist cause and they would have easy access to flights headed for American cities.
*************Accused Benghazi ringleader denounced U.S. presence in Libya
By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, July 2, 2014 11:18 EDT
The Libyan held as the suspected ringleader of the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi was driven by extremist anti-Western ideology, the Washington Post reported late Tuesday.
US prosecutors said in court documents filed late Tuesday that after the attacks in 2012 Ahmed Abu Khatallah, the only detainee in the case, and other armed men overran and looted the compound, then returned to a base to prepare an attack on a CIA annex nearby.
The attack killed US ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
It also led to a protracted political dispute in Washington. Republicans accused the administration of President Barack Obama of staging a politically motivated coverup by initially stating the attack stemmed from a spontaneous anti-US rally outside the compound, rather than a pre-meditated assault.
The administration eventually conceded it viewed the attack as an act of terrorism.
Abu Khatallah’s motivation to attack the US facilities sprang from extremist anti-Western views, US official argue. “In the days before the attack, the defendant voiced concern and opposition to the presence of an American facility in Benghazi,” prosecutors stated in the new court papers, the Post said.
And many of his associates in a militia called Ansar al-Sharia have been identified as being among a group of 20 or more armed men who massed outside the US mission on Sept. 11, 2012, breached the gate, entered the facility and set fire to the property, the motion states, according to the Post.
Abu Khatallah was seized by US special forces in Benghazi on June 15 this year, and charged two weeks later with conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists. He has pleaded not guilty.
He was to appear Wednesday in US District Court in Washington for a detention hearing.
According to the Post, US officials say the single-charge indictment will be superseded later by one with additional charges including ones that carry the death penalty.
Evidence in the US case against Abu Khatallah includes “photographs and video from the attacks, testimony from witnesses, and evidence of the attacks’ planners boasting of their involvement,” the Post said, quoting a US official who has reviewed the case.
*************Benghazi Attack Suspect Ordered Held Until Trial
By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT
JULY 2, 2014
WASHINGTON — A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the Libyan militia leader charged in connection with the 2012 killing of the American ambassador and three others in Benghazi must remain in government custody and be held without bond.
In her ruling, Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson sided with the Justice Department, which argued that the suspect, Ahmed Abu Khattala, should be held until he faced trial because he continued to pose a threat.
The Justice Department contends that he has extremist views and has plotted attacks against the United States and Western interests in recent months.
A lawyer for Mr. Abu Khattala, Michelle Peterson, did not contest the detention. But Ms. Peterson used the hearing as a forum to attack the government’s case, contending that it had not been able to back up the claims it had made in court about Mr. Abu Khattala’s involvement in the attacks.
Given “the utter lack of evidence,” Ms. Peterson said, “it’s incredibly difficult to defend Mr. Khattala.” There was “no suggestion” in the information released by the government that he was involved in the attacks, she said.
A federal prosecutor, Michael DiLorenzo, said the government had given “critical” video clips to Ms. Peterson on Wednesday morning.
Ms. Peterson also took on the government’s contention that Mr. Abu Khattala posed a threat to the United States because he had a loaded gun on him at the time he was apprehended by American commandos in Libya a little more than two weeks ago.
The place where Mr. Abu Khattala lived in eastern Libya, Ms. Peterson said, is dangerous, and it is “not unusual to be armed” there.
Mr. Abu Khattala spent a decade fighting the government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi and led a group that opposed him — a cause the United States had supported, she said.
In documents filed on Tuesday and in statements in court on Wednesday, the Justice Department laid out several reasons Mr. Abu Khattala should be detained.
Prosecutors described Mr. Abu Khattala as “a commander in an extremist militia group who is fully committed to causing death and destruction to American personnel and property.” They said that if he were set free, he would be motivated to flee because he has few ties to people in the United States.
Mr. Abu Khattala, they said, has “extensive contacts with senior-level members of extremist groups throughout Libya” and “could communicate and further conspire with many of those extremist individuals.” If set free, the filing said, Mr. Abu Khattala could “continue to communicate his plans for additional deadly attacks to other extremists and encourage them to carry out those plans.”
“Given the defendant’s proclivity for violence,” prosecutors argued, “as well as his ability to readily communicate with other similar-minded individuals, as demonstrated by his status as a commander of an extremist brigade, his detention is the only means available to neutralize that threat.”
Mr. Abu Khattala was snatched by American commandos in a raid outside Benghazi and taken to a Navy ship in the Mediterranean Sea.
On Saturday, he was brought to Washington from the ship. He was arraigned that same day and pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiring to provide material support and resources to terrorists that resulted in a death.
In the filing, the government said that since his capture, Mr. Abu Khattala had provided American interrogators with “voluntary statements” that corroborated key facts about the attacks. The filing did not say what those facts were. But according to American officials, he has discussed what occurred on Sept. 11, 2012, the day of the attacks, although he has not incriminated himself in the killing of the ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens, and the three others.
**************U.S. troops in Baghdad to fly Apache helicopters and drones
By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, July 2, 2014 11:36 EDT
The nearly 500 American troops sent to Baghdad to bolster security for the US embassy are equipped with Apache attack helicopters and small unarmed surveillance drones, Pentagon officials said Tuesday.
President Barack Obama on Monday ordered 200 additional troops to the Iraqi capital to ensure the safety of American diplomats and other personnel working in the city, as Baghdad government forces face a challenge from advancing Sunni extremists.
The reinforcements will include troops to fly and maintain Apache attack helicopters and unarmed surveillance drones, Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby told a news conference.
The drones were not Reapers or Predators but smaller Shadow robotic aircraft that are launched from a catapult, a senior defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.
The Shadow aircraft, which have been heavily used by US forces previously in Iraq and in Afghanistan, are about 14 feet (4 meters) long and can fly at an altitude of 8,000 feet (2,400 meters).
The US security contingent will concentrate on safeguarding access to the Baghdad airport as well as the embassy, the official said.
Kirby told reporters that the additional troops would “help provide extra security for our facilities, our people, our property, and to also allow — to help allow the State Department and the embassy to continue to function as it is.”
The embassy remains “open,” he added.
The deployment brought the number of US troops in Iraq devoted to security to about 475. In addition, Obama has approved sending up to 300 military advisers, and 180 of the advisers are already on the ground studying the state of the Iraqi army, Kirby said.
He would not say whether the US move was based on an assessment that Baghdad was under a heightened threat.
The situation “continues to be very dangerous” and “the threat continues to be very real,” Kirby said.
“But we have seen Iraqi security forces in and around Baghdad begin to reinforce themselves and prepare to defend, and they are taking the offensive,” he said.
“And we saw this over the weekend up near Tikrit,” said Kirby, referring to a counter-offensive by Baghdad government forces.
*************‘Hypocrisy at its finest’: CNN calls out Hobby Lobby for investing in birth control
By David Edwards
Wednesday, July 2, 2014 14:08 EDT
CNN host Ashleigh Banfield on Wednesday highlighted the “hypocrisy” of Hobby Lobby for investing in companies that made the same birth control products that it refused to provide to female employees.
Earlier this year, Mother Jones revealed that Hobby Lobby’s retirement plan had more than $73 million invested in companies that produced emergency contraception pills. It was that same type of birth control that Hobby Lobby said it had an objection to when it took its case against President Barack Obama’s health care reform law to the Supreme Court and won.
“The critics are calling Hobby Lobby’s 401(k) investments hypocrisy at its finest,” Banfield emphasized on Wednesday, adding that CNN had not gotten an explanation from the company after giving it “plenty of time” to respond.
“I don’t even know where to begin on this one,” the CNN host remarked. “I kept thinking to myself, this had to be an accident. But then I thought, it’s no accident when you are in the middle of the biggest political storm — all the way to the Supreme Court — and, yet, your guys aren’t aware of what your investments are in your very, very large 401(k)?”
CNN Business Correspondent Alison Kosik said that it was possible that Hobby Lobby’s investments in contraception makers could have initially been an oversight, but she noted that the company could ask its mutual fund manager to forbid investments in certain companies.
“It would mean that Hobby Lobby employees would most likely have higher fees,” Kosik pointed out. “But if you ask me, my thought is, if they’re that fervent about upholding their biblical principles, maybe that should include their investments to.”
“That’s putting their money where their mouth is,” she concluded.
Click to watch this report: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edmR-4ygviY
***************NJ Gov. Chris Christie vetoes gun legislation aimed at cutting mass shootings
Thursday, July 3, 2014 6:26 EDT
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Wednesday vetoed a bill approved by the state legislature that would have reduced the legal size of ammunition magazines from 15 to 10 bullets, saying it would do nothing to end mass shootings.
Christie, in sending the measure back to legislators, instead proposed new rules boosting access to mental health services and allowing the mentally ill to be involuntarily committed if they were at risk of rapid deterioration.
“It simply defies common sense to believe that imposing a new and entirely arbitrary number of bullets that can be lawfully loaded into a firearm will somehow eradicate, or even reduce, future instances of mass violence,” Christie said in his message to legislators.
“Nor is it sufficient to claim that a 10-round capacity might spare an 11th victim,” Christie said
Gun control advocates blasted the veto and accused the governor of allowing his presidential ambitions to guide his decision making.
The governor is considered a likely candidate for the Republican nomination for the presidency in 2016.
“At the end of the day it was a cowardly decision that lacks leadership,” Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald, a Democrat and the lead sponsor of the legislation, said in a written statement. “In fact, this is political expediency at its worst, considering the governor is headed out to campaign in Iowa in a few weeks.”
He noted that the veto came soon after families of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting rampage came to the state capitol in Trenton and presented thousands of signatures in a petition to support the gun control measure.
***************Racist Murrieta Residents Terrorize Bus Full Of Immigrant Kids
In Riverside County, a crowd forces busloads of immigration detainees, mostly children, to turn around
Police in Riverside County can't keep protesters from blocking buses carrying immigration detainees
Mayor urged protest over federal immigration detainee decision; crowd in Murrieta responds by blocking buses
A crowd of 200 to 300 people in downtown Murrieta surrounded three buses carrying immigrant detainees Tuesday afternoon, causing the buses to turn around before they reached a Border Patrol station in the Riverside County city.
Waving Americans flags and protest signs, the crowd refused to give way when the buses arrived with some 140 detainees from Texas, which has seen a flood of Central American immigrants cross the border in recent weeks without legal permission.
The face-off came one day after Mayor Alan Long urged residents to protest the federal government’s decision to move the recent immigrants who had arrived in the country illegally -- and have overwhelmed Texas border facilities -- to the Border Patrol station here.
“Murrieta expects our government to enforce our laws, including the deportation of illegal immigrants caught crossing our borders, not disperse them into our local communities,” Long said Monday at a news conference. The city had defeated two previous attempts to send migrants to the facility, he said.
Unable to drop off their passengers safely in Murrieta, buses instead headed for a Border Patrol facility in San Diego County, arriving late Tuesday afternoon.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials met with city officials in Murrieta and Temecula before the protests, said Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for the agency, adding that ICE is aware of concerns in the region.
“We’re sensitive to those issues and we’re seeking to address them,” she said.
An initial 140 migrants had been expected to arrive in Murrieta on Tuesday afternoon, Long said, followed by arrivals every 72 hours for several weeks. The detainees are primarily children accompanied by mothers or fathers. They were to be processed at the Murrieta facility before being placed under the supervision of ICE agents who would ensure that they were united with family throughout the country, Long said.
This year, Border Patrol agents across the Southwest have detained more than 52,000 unaccompanied minors, with a particular concentration along the Rio Grande border in Texas, according to federal records.
Because of this influx, officials are sending migrants to Border Patrol facilities in less heavily trafficked areas, such as Southern California, for processing and supervised release by ICE agents.
By sending migrants to the Murrieta facility, the federal government is not properly enforcing immigration laws that require immediate deportation of undocumented immigrants, Long said.
But, according to the mayor, public safety officials were fully prepared for the arrival and have established an information hotline that residents can use for updates on the transfer.
“I can say, without equivocation, Murrieta will remain safe,” Long said.
Murrieta is one of several cities whose facilities will receive migrants as the government seeks to lessen the burden on the Texas border. Migrants will also be sent to a border patrol facility in El Centro, in neighboring Imperial County, as well as a center in New Mexico, which has also caused lawmakers there to protest.
In his comments Monday, Long emphasized the temporary nature of the new arrivals.
“There is not, and never has been, any intention to release these immigrants locally out the front door of the Border Patrol office,” he said.
Protester Roger Cotton, 49, drove up from San Diego to wave a flag outside the Murrieta Border Patrol Station.
"I wanted to say that I as an American citizen do not approve of this human disaster that the government has created," Cotton said. He said he believes the migrants who were supposed to be dropped off at the station would be a burden on an already strained system.
"Who’s going to pay for them?" he asked. "What kind of criminality will happen?"
Cotton, who works as a 3D animator, said he blames Democrats for not doing more to secure the border.
"The Democrats are making it easy for them to come here so they can produce more Democratic voters," he said.
Murrieta expects our government to enforce our laws, including the deportation of illegal immigrants caught crossing our borders, not disperse them into our local communities. - Murrieta Mayor Alan Long
Cotton arrived shortly after the bus was blocked and turned around. He said he decided to come to Murrieta on his own accord and was surprised to find other protesters there.
He stood with a group of them on the side of the road, chanting "USA" and sparring with a group of counter-protesters who had come to support the immigrants.
Lupillo Rivera, 42, was one of them.
A well-known Mexican banda singer who came to the United States at age 4, Rivera said he was driving by when he happened upon the protest at the Border Patrol station. He said somebody shouted that he was an illegal immigrant and should go home. Rivera, who is a U.S. citizen, went home and returned with several of his friends and bandmates to confront the protesters.
"Our people cook your food," he shouted at them. "We didn't ask for them to come here," one protester shot back.
Rivera, brother of the late Mexican singer Jenni Rivera, said anybody who would turn away a busload of children was "not human."
"It doesn’t matter where a child is from," he said. "He deserves respect and help because he’s a child.
"How can a 5-year-old defend himself?" asked Rivera, who lives in Temecula. "I don’t think we should push a child out of our country."
As light faded over Murrieta, protesters continued their verbal sparring.
Protesters supporting immigrant rights waved Mexican flags and shouted slogans, while across the street, a smaller group of protesters opposed to the immigrants’ arrival waved American flags. Murrieta police patrolled Madison Avenue, which was closed to any further vehicle traffic.
At an evening City Council meeting, officials praised protesters for the lack of violence but assailed the federal government for what they say was a pattern of poor communication and inaction.
“We need to fix this permanently,” said Long, who had issued a call Monday for citizens to contact their elected officials to protest the move. “Today was a Band-Aid. The only people with the power to fix this are in the federal government.”
Other city officials expressed concern over how Murrieta, with a population of just more than 100,000, would house several groups of immigrants during processing.
City Councilman Rick Gibbs, who toured the Border Patrol facility where the immigrants were to be held, had reservations about the space. “This is a jailhouse,” he said. “This is not a hotel. It is a spartan facility.”
Gibbs also doubted whether all the detainees would comply with the government requirement that they report back to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office within 15 days of their initial release.
“We're going to dump a bunch of people at a bus station, hope they get somewhere in the United States of America, and somehow in 15 days, they are going to respond and come back?” he said. “Everybody knows that 95% of them are never going to return.”
Councilman Harry Ramos agreed.
“You would get fined if you dumped off a dog in the street here in Murrieta, but that's what they are doing to people here,” he said.
**********Darrell Issa Tells Obama To Forget About Immigration Reform And Deport DREAMers
By: Justin Baragona
Wednesday, July, 2nd, 2014, 6:45 pm
On Wednesday, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), released a letter to the press that he had sent to the White House earlier in the day. The letter, signed by 32 other House republicans, essentially demanded that President Obama proceed with deporting all of the DREAMers. (DREAMers are undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.) The letter also requested that President Obama forget about comprehensive immigration reform being passed, especially if it includes a pathway to citizenship.
Below is an excerpt from the letter. The entire letter can be read here.
Firstly, we call on you to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program created, without congressional support, by your Administration in June, 2012. While the current program only applies to arrivals prior to 2007, the very existence of the program contradicts present law and violates the Constitutional principle of a separation of powers which grants primary law making authority to the Congress. The Executive does not get to pick and choose which laws must be enforced and which can be selectively ignored. Further, DACA rewards families and individuals who have broken our laws, further encouraging others to seek similar benefits. The DACA program must be immediately ended to send a clear signal to all individuals that our immigration laws will be enforced.
Secondly, you must make an explicit public commitment that you will not support legislation that extends legal status to newly arriving illegal aliens no matter the age. Secretary Johnson’s statement that S. 744, the Senate’s immigration proposal, would not confer benefits to the newly arriving UACs is insufficient to mitigate the popular belief that a pathway to citizenship will be available to any individual in the United States. We request that you remove from consideration any preferential treatment for individuals who have recently illegally crossed our borders.
Obviously, Issa and Co. are trying to make political hay for the Republican Party over the recent crisis involving the influx of young immigrants coming in from Central America and being detained at the border. On July 1st, newscasts across the country showed protesters in Murrieta, CA, spurred on by Mayor Alan Long, blocking buses that were transporting some of these detainees to a processing center in Murrieta. The anger displayed by the protesters was palpable and the scene was replayed on cable news over and over. Therefore, Republicans feel like they have a way to energize their ‘angry white guy’ base by pushing hard against comprehensive immigration reform.
Besides tapping into the anger showed by the extremists regarding immigration, Issa is also using this letter to help back Speaker of the House John Boehner’s play. Boehner announced last week that House Republicans plan to sue President Obama over his use of executive orders. Issa’s letter refers to Obama circumventing Congress numerous times. It seems apparent that Issa and other House Republicans want to show Boehner that they are fully on board with his plan to sue the White House. It also seems like another step for the GOP to finally get what they’ve long dreamed about — impeachment.
In the end, this is all bluster and no bite. The President is going to blow this letter off and not think twice. It is merely an effort by Issa to get his name into this discussion, as the other ‘scandals’ he’s been ‘investigating’ (IRS, Benghazi, etc.) have turned up nothing. Issa is just chasing his white whale. And it keeps eluding him.
***************All The Single Ladies: Female Voting Power and The Looming Extinction of The GOP
By: Sarah Jones
Wednesday, July, 2nd, 2014, 1:28 pm
Democrats are wooing single women — a rising power of a voting bloc, while Republicans spit in their face.
While Republicans at Fox insult single women by calling them “Beyoncé voters” who depend on the government, Democrats embrace them. Specifically all the single ladies out there — a growing and powerful new voting bloc, who tend to vote for Democrats. They’re even calling their new get out the vote push ROSIE, as in Rosie the Riveter, Re-engaging our Sisters in Elections. (Yes, Beyoncé has paid homage to Rosie.)
DCCC Executive Director Kelly Ward explained ROSIE to NPR’s Mara Liasson in May, “We can identify a voter by their marital status and then match that to a turnout model that helps us identify those unmarried women who when they vote they will vote for Democrats, but are not likely to vote this cycle. We want to go after those voters and start a conversation with them about how this election has a stake in their lives and why they should care about it.” And now, post Hobby Lobby, Democrats have quite the calling card.
Jackie Calmes broke down the numbers in the New York Times Wednesday morning:
Half of all adult women over the age of 18 are unmarried — 56 million, up from 45 million in 2000 — and now account for one in four people of voting age. (Adult Hispanics eligible to vote, a group that gets more attention, number 25 million this year.) Single women have become Democrats’ most reliable supporters, behind African-Americans: In 2012, two-thirds of single women who voted supported President Obama. Among married women, a slim majority supported Mitt Romney.
She points out that the Democratic party isn’t asleep at the wheel. They’re wide awake and they’re wooing these voters:
Democrats and allied groups say they are wooing single women — young and old, highly educated and working class, never married and divorced or widowed — with unmatched ardor. They have seized on this week’s ruling by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority, five men, that family-owned corporations do not have to provide birth control in their insurance coverage, to add to their arguments that the Democrats, not the Republicans, represent the interests of women.
Democrats will be using the historical Republican assault on women’s rights (the legislation pushed by Republicans since the 2010 midterms is enough to make thinking people despair for their country) to motivate women to the polls.
This growing and powerful voting bloc is why I wrote that the Supreme Court (and the GOP) would be sorry about Monday’s Hobby Lobby decision. Just to seal the deal, the Court even took Republicans’ one talking point away from them, by clarifying that they did indeed intend their ruling to be taken broadly. That translates to all forms of birth control that an employer can decide they don’t want to offer women in their healthcare insurance, because they have feelings about women using contraception. These feelings rarely seem to translate into any sense at all, leaving these folks making an argument against all contraception just so that they can get Obama. They call this position anti-abortion (aka, in their inaccurate parlance, “pro-life”), but of course it’s the opposite, since contraception is the single best way to reduce abortions.
As recent elections have shown, this bloc doesn’t turn out for midterms but they make a difference in presidential elections. However, they made a huge difference in Virginia after the Republican Party turned off even Republican women by running what was then seen as an extremist — but is now the norm — misogynistic, woman-hater candidate who thinks he knows a lot more about a woman’s body than he does.
But the Supreme Court just gave Democrats a way to mobilize this voting bloc that doesn’t usually turn out in midterm elections. The court handed it to Democrats on a silver platter. The conservatives on the court might be activists, but they aren’t the brightest activists going. Maybe they’re being instructed by Karl Rove, and we all know thug is out.
Since single women are on the rise, Republicans have gone out of their way to demonstrate their contempt for single women. Instead of trying to woo single women, Republicans choose to try to control them via shame, as if they have no idea what decade it is.
Women hold tremendous power in their hands; they can force their needs and the needs of their children to be heard – but first, they have to vote. In every election.
Five men who couldn’t find their way around a female body or science or medicine to save themselves — obviously, or they would know that contraception is often used for medical purposes — just made a decision to spit in the face of all women who have ever used contraception. They shouldn’t have the power to make decisions about issues they clearly do not understand. A Democratic Congress could pass new legislation to protect women from the conservative SCOTUS.
Republicans have gone out of their way to shame women for needing contraception; their newest talking point is that birth control is only nine dollars, so get off your lazy slut butts and pay for it yourselves. (Republican civility is at a low point, or what one hopes is their low point.) It’s as if they want a teeny, tiny tent.
In the meantime, the Democratic Party is putting a ring on it.