In the USA...United Surveillance AmericaCourt order that allowed NSA surveillance is revealed for first time
Fisa court judge who authorised massive tapping of metadata was hesitant but felt she could not stand in the way
Spencer Ackerman in New York
theguardian.com, Tuesday 19 November 2013 04.53 GMT
A secret court order that authorised a massive trawl by the National Security Agency of Americans' email and internet data was published for the first time on Monday night, among a trove of documents that also revealed a judge's concern that the NSA "continuously" and "systematically" violated the limits placed on the program.
The order by the Fisa court, almost certainly its first ruling on the controversial program and published only in heavily redacted form, shows that it granted permisson for the trawl in part beacause of the type of devices used for the surveillance. Even the judge approving the spying called it a “novel use” of government authorities.
Another later court order found that what it called "systemic overcollection" had taken place.
Transparency lawsuits brought by civil liberties groups compelled the US spy agencies on Monday night to shed new light on the highly controversial program, whose discontinuation in 2011 for unclear reasons was first reported by the Guardian based on leaks by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
In a heavily redacted opinion Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, the former presiding judge of the Fisa court, placed legal weight on the methods of surveillance employed by the NSA, which had never before collected the internet data of “an enormous volume of communications”.
The methods, known as pen registers and trap-and-trace devices, record the incoming and outgoing routing information of communications – traditionally phone calls made between individual users. Kollar-Kotelly ruled that acquiring the metadata, and not the content, of email and internet usage in bulk was harmonious with the “purpose” of Congress and prior court rulings – even though no surveillance statute ever authorized it and top officials at the justice department and the FBI threatened to resign in 2004 over what they considered its dubious legality.
“The court recognizes that, by concluding that these definitions do not restrict the use of pen registers or trap-and-trace devices to communication facilities associated with individual users, it is finding that these definitions encompass an exceptionally broad form of collection,” wrote Kollar-Kotelly in an opinion whose date is redacted.
The type of data collected under the program included information on the "to", "from" and "bcc" lines of an email rather than the content. According to the government’s declaration to Kollar-Kotelly the NSA would keep the internet metadata “online” and available to analysts to search through for 18 months, after which it would be stored in an “‘offline’ tape system” available to relatively few officials. It would have to be destroyed four and a half years after initial collection.
Metadata, wrote Kollar-Kotelly, enjoyed no protection under the fourth amendment to the US constitution, a precedent established by the supreme court in 1979 in a single case on which the NSA relies currently.
Still, Kollar-Kotelly conceded that she was blessing “a novel use of statutory authorities for pen register/trap and trace surveillance”.
While at times Kollar-Kotelly appeared in her ruling to be hesitant about granting NSA broad authorities to collect Americans’ internet metadata, “deference”, she wrote, “should be given to the fully considered judgment of the executive branch in assessing and responding to national security threats and in determining the potential significance of intelligence-related information.”
The legal status of the internet metadata program was highly controversial. In March 2004 several justice department and FBI individuals threatened to resign – including James Comey, George W Bush’s deputy attorney general and now Barack Obama’s FBI director – if the Bush White House and NSA persisted in authorizing the program over their objections that the internet metadata bulk collection was insufficiently legally grounded.
An internal NSA draft history, first reported by the Guardian, noted that the program paused in March 2004, while the White House quelled the secret rebellion, but resumed in July after then NSA director Michael Hayden sought to reassure Kollar-Kotelly, who “signed the first” so-called Pen Register/Trap and Trace Order on 14 July 2004.
It is unclear if the order from Kollar-Kotelly released on Monday is her order of 14 July 2004 as the date is redacted.
A later opinion on the internet metadata program, by Kollar-Kotelly’s successor, John Bates, states that the “NSA exceeded the scope of authorized acquisition continuously” after Kollar-Kotelly’s initial approval.
Bates wrote that subsequent NSA reporting to the court revealed that "systemic overcollection" had taken place from almost the beginning of the program. "Virtually every" record generated by the program "included some data that had not been authorized for collection". A footnote suggests that Kollar-Kotelly grew worried that the content of communications was collected at times despite her initial confidence that the collection methods of the pen registers and trap and trace devices could not permit that.
"The government has provided no comprehensive explanation of how so substantial an overcollection occurred," Bates wrote in another undated opinion, whose redactions suggest the NSA blamed "noncommunication with the technical personnel directly responsible".
A senior intelligence official, Shawn Turner of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, told the Guardian in July that the Obama administration shut down the bulk internet metadata collection program in 2011 “for operational and resource reasons” and it had not been restarted.
Senator Ron Wyden, a member of the Senate intelligence committee, who has campaigned against the scope of NSA domestic surveillance, has suggested in several statements that the program was wasteful, violated Americans’ privacy and did not lead to useful counterterrorism information.
Hundreds of pages
The NSA also released hundreds of pages of documents on Monday related to training on use of its vast data troves; its certifications to Congress and the court about its bulk phone records collections on Americans; and its internal checks to prevent abuse.
The release was prompted by a lawsuit sponsored by the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Monday’s disclosure represented the final round of court-compelled document disclosures as part of the civil liberties organization’s attempts to learn more about what they contend is legally dubious mass surveillance on Americans phone records.
“On the logic of these opinions almost every digital footprint we leave behind can be vacuumed up by the government – who we talk to, what we read, where we go online," said Patrick Toomey, an attorney with the ACLU. "Like previous releases these materials show the danger of a government that sidesteps public debate and instead grounds its surveillance powers in the secret opinions of a secret court. The more we learn the clearer it is that our surveillance laws and oversight rules are in dramatic need of reform."
The release comes at the beginning of an important week in Washington for the NSA’s bulk phone records collection. On Thursday the NSA deputy director is scheduled to testify before a Senate panel that is considering a bill to strip the surveillance agency of its power to collect phone data from Americans without individual warrants. Legislators are also discussing attaching surveillance restrictions to an annual defence authorization bill that the Senate is taking up this week.
Monday was also a busy day for the NSA’s bulk surveillance in the courts. The supreme court declined to take a case about the bulk phone records collection, while a judge on a lower federal court considered an injunction against the NSA.
“I don't know, frankly, how I'm going to come out,” said Judge Richard Leon, who heard arguments for and against an injunction on the bulk phone records surveillance on Monday brought by the conservative group Judicial Watch in his US district court for the District of Columbia.
“It's going to the court of appeals and probably to the supreme court – one way or the other,” news organizations quoted Leon saying after the hearing.
At least one document related to bulk surveillance was not released.
The Fisa court announced on Monday afternoon that the intelligence agencies and the justice department decided that it would not declassify a court opinion from 19 February 2013 related to the court’s interpretation of Section 215. It is unclear if the opinion refers to bulk phone records collection or to the other sorts of records that the government contends the Patriot Act provision allows it to collect – such as financial data of the sort the Obama administration disclosed last week to the New York Times and Wall Street Journal that the CIA gathers.
The document disclosures came the same day that the US supreme court declined a request by the Electronic Frontier Foundation to review the legality of the bulk phone records collection.
A terse statement announcing several court orders did not address the reasons the court denied the review, brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which argued that the Fisa court had no right to order telecoms to turn over customer data in bulk to the government.
Several other legal challenges to the bulk phone records collection are pending before lower federal courts. One of them, brought by the ACLU, will begin oral arguments on Friday in the Southern District of New York.
Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of Epic, said in a statement that he was “disappointed” in the supreme court’s decision as he called the bulk surveillance order “clearly illegal”.
November 18, 2013Congress and Courts Weigh Restraints on N.S.A. Spying
By ADAM LIPTAK and JEREMY W. PETERS
WASHINGTON — Congressional critics of the National Security Agency program that collects the telephone records of millions of Americans stepped up their efforts as the Supreme Court on Monday turned away an unusual challenge to the scope of the surveillance.
The intensifying push against the N.S.A. on both the legal and legislative fronts reflected new pressure being put on the extensive surveillance effort in the wake of revelations by the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden, pressure that is running into stiff resistance from congressional leaders of both parties as well as the Obama administration.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center filed the challenge directly with the Supreme Court, arguing that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court had “exceeded its statutory jurisdiction when it ordered production of millions of domestic telephone records that cannot plausibly be relevant to an authorized investigation.”
The justices gave no reason for rejecting the group’s petition, but the unusual procedure of bypassing the lower courts probably played a role. Other, more conventional challenges to government surveillance programs are pending.
In urging the justices not to hear the case, the federal government said “the proper way” to mount a challenge “is to file an action in Federal District Court to enjoin the program, as other parties have done.”
It cautioned, though, that “the government may assert certain threshold defenses to such a suit.” The case is In re Electronic Privacy Information Center, No. 13-58.
After the recent revelations about widespread government surveillance, civil liberties groups have filed fresh challenges in federal trial courts, saying they can now show that they have standing.
Members of both parties are making a push for laws that would rein in N.S.A. data collection programs and bring more transparency to intelligence gathering. Those seeking to impose new requirements on the N.S.A. hope to take advantage of a small window of opportunity and attach their provisions onto an annual Pentagon policy measure now headed for Senate consideration.
“When you have a train that is sure to reach the station, you want to add your car to that train,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut. “Even if it means a battle.”
By raising new questions about the operations of these surveillance programs — whose disclosure by Mr. Snowden created one of the more disruptive episodes in Barack Obama’s presidency — Congress seems set to provoke yet another uncomfortable public discussion for a White House struggling to overcome severe problems with its health law.
Leaders of both parties in Congress are hardly eager to see the issue come up again. In the Senate, Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, is wary of any measure that the White House thinks is harmful to national security. He and other Senate leaders are considering erecting procedural barriers to amendments to the Pentagon legislation. The leadership resistance limits chances for quick success in the Senate.
In the House, Speaker John A. Boehner has said he believes dealing with N.S.A. questions in the short time left this year would rush a process that should be longer and more deliberative.
But lawmakers like Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon and one of the Senate’s strongest critics of mass surveillance, and Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, who has tried to bring greater attention to national security practices he argues are unchecked, see no reason to wait.
“What I’m going to zero in on,” Mr. Wyden said in an interview, “is much of what the intelligence leadership in the past has been misleading about, has shrouded in incomprehensible intelligence-speak or has just been flat-out wrong.”
He added that he thought the timing with the pending defense bill was ideal. “I think there’s an opportunity to work with senators of varying different views to set the record straight about the government’s surveillance authority and jump-start the broader debate about intelligence reform,” he said.
The amendment Mr. Wyden has been circulating in recent days to colleagues would create a battery of new disclosure requirements for the intelligence agencies, including public reports on how often they have conducted mass digital sweeps that enable them to track cellphones, and on how many times they have violated their own privacy rules and safeguards.
Mr. Wyden drafted his amendment to appeal to both ends of the spectrum on surveillance. It purposely contains nothing about banning N.S.A. data collection methods so it does not alienate those who are generally supportive of current intelligence practices. He declined to say how many senators had signed on, but did say a number of influential centrists who hold very different views on N.S.A. policies have expressed interest.
“Certainly the concept of more accountability and transparency has got a lot of senators’ interest,” he added.
The larger and more divisive fight over banning certain N.S.A. programs, which Mr. Wyden and other members of Congress have been leading, would wait until next year.
Questions about the N.S.A. are especially difficult for the Democratic Party, which has a core group of liberals who oppose giving the government the blanket authority to collect vast quantities of data on its citizens. The party also has members, like Mr. Reid and Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, who are inclined to be deferential to the president and intelligence officials.
Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan and the gatekeeper of the amendments that will eventually find their way onto the Pentagon bill, has said he prefers that N.S.A. issues be kept out of it.
“It’s really a separate issue and should not be on the defense bill,” he said. “It’s probably the only way we can get a defense bill done if we keep nondefense-related amendments off the bill.”
This year, more than half of the House Democrats defied Mr. Obama and their leader, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, and voted to block the N.S.A. from collecting huge troves of phone records. Not quite half of the House Republicans also voted for the measure, but it ultimately failed in a close vote.
But there are signs this time could be different. Asked last week if she thought it was time for Congress to revisit questions of government surveillance, Ms. Pelosi strongly pushed back on the notion that she was in favor of broad government authority, and said lawmakers should take up the issue.
“I have been a critic of this program for a very long time,” she said, adding that while she still did not support a ban on bulk data collection, she was open to other changes. “I think the discussion should take place.”
*******************Nancy Pelosi Mocks House Republicans Over Their Blank 2014 Agenda
By: Sarah Jones
Monday, November, 18th, 2013, 1:33 pm
Stumbling around pointing fingers while gleefully mocking Obama for trying to help save millions of Americans’ lives might feel great, but it’s not doing much for Congress’ 9% approval ratings.
So House Republicans have yet another Hail Mary idea to save themselves with the voters they’ve been busy alienating for years. A new fiscal agenda! One that allegedly will address the concerns of people.
Only problem? It’s blank.
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was not impressed. “The House GOP’s 2014 blank agenda proves they are officially out of ideas,” she tweeted, linking to a Politico article.
The House GOP's 2014 blank agenda proves they are officially out of ideas. http://t.co/DZFzjo608w
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) November 18, 2013
When Eric Cantor (R-VA) passed out GOP Agenda 2014, it was blank according to Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan at Politico.
Last Thursday, a group of House Republicans filed into Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s Capitol office suite and received a blank piece of paper labeled “Agenda 2014.”
This blank agenda is another attempt at rebranding. Republicans are now going to focus on the problems they are allegedly solving with their policies, instead of the importance of the policy itself. This polls better, you see, they explained to Politico, sounding a bit too much like a stalker trying to find just the right way to hit on his victim. This is, after all, rebrand number 3 (?) in a year’s time, and they have all failed.
It might be the policies.
Still licking their chops over the people who have to change insurance plans while ignoring the 47 million who do not have any insurance at all and will finally get it under ObamaCare, Republicans see openings in energy costs and job training programs, among other issues. They think they can sell drilling here and now by talking about energy costs to the average American.
And that’s all fine, except that under Obama we’re setting record growth in oil rigs and it hasn’t done much to the price of gas for reasons that liberals have understood and tried to explain to Drill Baby Drill bumper sticker energy “experts” like Sarah Palin to no avail.
No matter — the facts seldom get in the way of the Republican Party’s jingles. But as always with the GOP, Politico reported, “Details, at this point, are scant…”
Yes. Because it is hard to rebrand already rejected policies especially when the GOP base is deadset on the very social issues the Republicans have been pushing as get out the vote tactics for years, so there isn’t a lot of room for thinking outside of the box.
This is the reality facing the GOP post shutdown – and the shutdown was only the cherry on top of years of 47% contempt for average Americans. But that is why this news isn’t making headlines. It’s vast and it impacts our country daily – so of course, the media is loath to discuss it.
The Democrats are flawed and imperfect and annoyingly refusing to embrace the bold liberalism that actually appeals to people even in the south (see Kentucky), but at least their platform is aimed at using government money and resources to help people; the GOP uses government money to socialize corporate losses and subsidize corporate risks while letting the people starve. It’s hard to sell those “ideas” to very people paying for the funding. It requires a lot of fear-mongering and distraction with ginned up social issues.
Can the GOP save themselves from the shutdown, or better yet, can the media single-handedly rescue the GOP from their own reckless incompetence by eagerly passing off GOP talking points as news?
They’re trying. In the meantime, here’s a deep, totally rebranding blank page for you to ponder as you consider which party has your best interests at heart.
Republicans are trying, but a blank agenda is just bad optics for a party that’s been branded as the party of No, the party of No Ideas, and the party of obstruction. They should revert back to their big font tricks and waving pamphlets with the word “jobs” printed in desperate repetition – blank agendas are a bit too close to the truth, though I applaud them for leaving the corporate logos off.
******************The Kochs and Their Astroturf Tea Are Demanding an Exemption From Campaign Finance Rules
Monday, November, 18th, 2013, 5:58 pm
Americans should hope that their government weighs decisions affecting the outcome of America’s electoral process on laws and reality; not out of sorrow for fabricated suffering and misfortunes of billionaires claiming they are targets of disparaging public commentary and scorn. A little over three years ago, the conservative Supreme Court was overwhelmed with pity and sorrow for the Koch brothers and their surrogate conservative non-profit, Citizens United, and ruled that after being put upon by Federal Elections Commission rules regarding corporate campaign finance laws, the wealthiest corporations were entitled to First Amendment protections prohibiting government from restricting political independent expenditures by corporations.
Up until the time the High Court ruling on Citizens United was handed down, the public was oblivious to the Koch brothers’ machinations to hijack the electoral process resulting in little to no public outcry against exempting the richest corporations in the nation from buying elections. It appears Americans are being kept unawares again as the Koch’s so-called grass-roots organization, the teabaggers, have asked for an FEC exemption on campaign finance disclosure rules.
The teabaggers appealed directly to the Federal Elections Commission in September with the outrageous claim they are being assailed by, and encounter unprecedented harassment from, both government officials and private actors. Their appeal claimed their wealthy corporate contributors face widespread hostility and “a reasonable probability of threats, harassment, or reprisal” because of their extraordinary desire to “curb increasing government infringement of their individual liberties.” The Koch brothers’ organization also asserted that all they are comprised of are besieged individual groups who share common values including “limited federal government, respect for the original meaning of the Constitution, fiscal responsibility, and returning political power to the states and the people.”
To garner extra pity, the appeal claimed “the TEA Party is not a political party because it does not nominate candidates to federal office.” One wonders if Koch brother acolytes and tea party Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and Marco Rubio, as well as a herd of congressional representatives qualified as candidates for federal office. It is claims like “the TEA Party is not a political party” that engenders some of the harassment as filthy liars and imbeciles the group claims qualifies them for exemption from campaign finance laws. To garner even more pity, the teabaggers claimed it is just a simple “nationwide grassroots movement that arose organically in 2009 out of an immense” hatred for the federal government; especially since the American people elected an African American man as President. The billionaire Koch brothers and their dark money certainly played a crucial role in the ascendance of the teabaggers who also benefitted from the Kochs’ influence on the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling.
The FEC seems conflicted about whether to give the Koch brothers (teabagger) organization an exemption from adhering to campaign finance disclosure laws based on if they are either beleaguered victims of public derision and mockery, or just another political party and dark money concealment mechanism. In fact, although there is a public hearing to settle the issue set for November 21st, the FEC has drafted two separate rulings in advance of the November 21st hearing to either; grant the Kochs an exemption based on the teabagger’s claim of public harassment and ridicule, or a rejection because the Koch’s teabaggers are not, as they claim, a minor party or organization. It has been well-documented, beyond a shadow of doubt, that the teabaggers are not an “organic grass roots organization,” and although their limited government, states’ supremacy, fiscal austerity, and individual liberty to flaunt federal law goals may be sincere, they were cultivated, incited, and heavily funded by the libertarian billionaire Koch brothers.
That the FEC is even considering granting the Koch brothers’ tea party an exemption from FEC reporting and disclosure requirements, including their dark money donors, is beyond outrageous in light of the democracy-killing Citizens United ruling courtesy of Koch surrogates Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia on the conservative Supreme Court. It is little surprise that, like the Citizens United ruling, the Kochs’ organization is appealing directly to the FEC leading up to the 2014 midterm elections. Americans are still reeling from the devastating effects of the Citizens United ruling on the 2010 midterms, and with news that the Kochs and teabagger Ted Cruz are embroiled in a shadowy Tea Party scheme driving a right-wing group “masquerading as a mainstream non-profit to push extremist laws” in every state, the likelihood they would transfer millions to an exempt organization is very real outcome of an FEC ruling favorable to the Kochs.
The report by the Center for Media and Democracy focusing on the State Policy Network revealed that the “network” and its “affiliates” are pouring $83 million in the states to promote an extreme conservative agenda, and they claim “that money is on the rise.” The group is backed by the Koch brothers and teabagger Ted Cruz, as well as numerous ties to ALEC. At its annual meeting in September there were representatives from “Koch Industries, the Charles Koch Institute, the Charles Koch Foundation, and several Koch-backed right-wing groups such as Americans for Prosperity.” With the group being investigated for orchestrating extensive lobbying and political operations while registered as educational nonprofits peddling an extreme conservative agenda to state legislators, it appears they are “in violation of IRS’ regulations on nonprofit political and lobbying activities.” A favorable ruling by the FEC granting the Kochs’ teabaggers an exemption to conceal their dark money makes it reasonable to assume the billionaire libertarians would simply shift tens-of-millions to teabaggers under cover of an FEC exemption.
Although the audacity of the Kochs’ teabaggers to demand an exemption from FEC campaign disclosure laws is an affront to the American people, and democracy, it should not surprise anyone. What is shocking is that the FEC even remotely considered drafting a favorable ruling to the Kochs’ organization; particularly in advance of a hearing a week away and especially based on their claim they are not a political party, are offended they are the butt of Americans’ jokes, and claim they face a “reasonable probability of threats, harassment, or reprisal” if they reveal their financing comes from the Koch brothers. Unlike the Koch brothers’ surrogates on the Supreme Court sneak attack on democracy, alerts from at least one progressive watchdog exposed the Kochs’ stealth attack on democracy leading up to the 2014 midterm elections.
News of this blatant assault on the electoral process should enrage the people and incite them to mobilize and march on FEC headquarters on November 21st to demand they reject the Kochs’ teabagger exemption with extreme prejudice. In lieu of a mass in-person advance on the FEC hearing to demand the Koch’s attempt to hijack another midterm election is stopped in its tracks, there is a petition to demand that the “FEC Don’t Let Billionaires Buy Our Election” here. The Koch brothers own Republicans in Congress, governors’ mansions, and state legislatures, two Supreme Court Justices, and are attempting to own the electoral process outright. After the Citizens United ruling, if the FEC exempts the Kochs’ teabagger organization from adhering to campaign disclosure rules, they will finally achieve their ultimate goal and own America.
November 17, 2013 08:29 PMCrowley Repeats GOP Talking Points on Obamacare Rollout and Immigration
CrooksAndLiarsIsn't it amazing that somehow these Sunday show hosts all managed to come to the same conclusion that President Obama can no longer be trusted and that his presidency is now in peril due to the problems with the rollout of the Affordable Care Act? It's almost like they were all reading off of the same script.
Nicole already discussed the Martha Raddatz segment on This Week, where the audience was treated to a big heaping helping of the latest Republican talking points of the day. CNN's Candy Crowley took it one step further and threw in some of Eric Cantor's rhetoric on why it's supposedly impossible for the House to pass immigration reform. If you missed it over the weekend, go read this post from Think Progress: Cantor: We Can’t Pass Immigration Reform Because Healthcare.gov Is Having Technical Difficulties.
Then tell me who Crowley is carrying water for during the beginning of her show this Sunday:
CANDY CROWLEY: Good morning from Washington. I'm Candy Crowley. Mama said there'd be days like this, but who knew there'd be months.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we can just get the darn website working and smooth this thing out --
CROWLEY (voice-over): A politician on a rugged road is generally headed downhill and losing friends along the way. Amid the mess of a broken website and millions of Americans losing health insurance they thought they could keep, the president's approval numbers are sliding. In a totally related development --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On this vote, the yeas are 261, the nays are 157. The bill is passed.
CROWLEY: Thirty-nine Democrats voted against the president and with Republicans on an Obamacare fix. The bill goes nowhere from here, but it's the thought that counts and the thought is that the president's broken keep your health care promise is toxic. Hence, the direct message to voters.
OBAMA: I want them to know that, you know, their senator or congressman, they were making representations based on what I told them and what this White House and our administrative staff told them. And so, it's not on them, it's on us.
CROWLEY: Of the president's numbers collapsing beneath the roll out, this one weighs heaviest. Is Barack Obama honest and trustworthy? Just 44 percent of Americans think so, down 10 points since late September. It has prompted comparisons to George Bush's failed response to the deadly hurricane Katrina.
The situations are entirely different but politically trusted Bush and in the government fell and never recovered, undermining the rest of Bush's term. Without argument, this president is at the lowest political moment of his tenure and it is difficult to govern without trust.
OBAMA: I think it's legitimate for them to expect me to have to win back some credibility on this health care law in particular and on a whole range of these issues in general.
CROWLEY: Time is short. As some allies inch away, Republicans are circling.
REP. FRED UPTON, (R) MICHIGAN: Presidencies are often associated with one famous utterance. Ask not what your country can do for you. The only thing we have to fear, tear down this wall. And our current president will be no different. If you like your health care plan, you can keep it. Period.
CROWLEY: Poll numbers are snapshots in time and time moves on. For the president, days like this could become months or they could become different kinds of days entirely.
(END VIDEOTAPE) CROWLEY (on-camera): Joining me now, members of their party leadership, Democratic congressman, James Clyburn and Republican senator, John Barrasso. Gentlemen, thank you both for coming this morning.
I want to pick up first on the Katrina references with generally go to the idea that once a president falls below that 50 percent line when it comes to honesty and trustworthiness it makes it very hard to govern, but that really litigating George Bush and Katrina, Senator Barrasso. Do you buy into that argument that the president may be in a hole he can't get out of?
BARRASSO: He maybe, Candy. I'm a lot less concerned about the president and his legacy than I am about the lives of the people in my state in Wyoming and around the country who are being hurt by the policy of this health care law. They're losing their coverage, millions. They're being hit by sticker shock.
They can't keep their doctors. And what the president is proposing is basically a false fix. It's a political band aid, but it's not a permanent cure for the people that are being hurt by his policies so it's time to start over with trying to get people the health care that they wanted from the beginning which was affordable care from their doctor that they choose.
CROWLEY: Congressman Clyburn, it remains true, however, that a president who loses kind of the faith of Americans finds it hard to pass other things, immigration, all the other things that are on. It was a very ambitious second term agenda for this president. How does he win back trust? I'm assuming you think he can.
Note to Candy Crowley. The reason President Obama can't get anything passed through the House, such as immigration reform has nothing to do with whether anyone "trusts him" or not. It's because Republicans have been obstructing everything he's tried to get passed since the day he got elected. Pretending they have an excuse now won't change that fact.
******************Obamacare Website Woes Amplified By Active Republican Hatred
By: Black Liberal Boomer
Monday, November, 18th, 2013, 4:48 pm
Not that it should come as a surprise or anything? But in case you hadn’t already heard, it appears that some of the problems with the Obamacare website aren’t exactly due to that incompetence thing that Bob Woodward (the Acknowledged God of All Journalism Blessings Be Upon Him) likes to pin on the Obama administration. As a matter of fact, it seems that a certain faction of Republicans have been clocking in the overtime working to jam up the gears of the site in any way they can. Interestingly enough, this rather significant phenomenon doesn’t appear to be getting nearly as much media traction as it should. This is more than a sideline development; this is a major headline.
Or at least it should be.
Yesterday, the House Homeland Security Committee published a video on their Youtube page highlighting a portion of the committee questioning Roberta Stempfley, acting assistant secretary of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Cyber-security and Communications, who confirmed at least 16 attacks on the Affordable Care Act‘s portal Healthcare.gov website in 2013.
Roberta Stempfley highlighted one successful attack that is designed to deny access to the website called a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. A DDoS attack is designed to make a network unavailable to intended users, generally through a concerted effort to disrupt service such as repeatedly accessing the servers, saturating them with more traffic than the website is designed to handle.
Right wingers have been distributing the link to the necessary tools to perform the attacks on the Healthcare.gov website through social networking, as pointed out by Information Week, and other websites.
The name of the attack tool is called, “Destroy Obama Care!”
And from the Washington Post:
Although the statute provided plenty of money to help states build their own insurance exchanges, it included no money for the development of a federal exchange — and Republicans would block any funding attempts. According to one former administration official, [Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen] Sebelius simply could not scrounge together enough money to keep a group of people developing the exchanges working directly under her.
“So, the federal exchange that Republicans said wouldn’t work ended up not working because it was starved of the money needed to help make it work [and] because the GOP pressured Republican governors to not form their own state exchanges. This made the federal task more complex and difficult, thus ensuring its failure,” said the Post’s Jonathan Capehart. Capehart spared no punches when helping to pile on the blame, but at least he went to the trouble of pointing out the inherent difficulty of having a successful rollout when the Republican party is actively working feverishly to sabotage the President’s efforts to provide more Americans with affordable health care. Far too often and for far too long all that seems to get reported is that the website is flawed, without bothering to investigate why the Republicans are working so hard to kill Obamacare – and why they don’t mind playing dirty to do it. Heck, even Politico, not exactly known for it’s liberal leanings, acknowledges that the Republican seek-and-destroy mission is having its effect.
To the undisputed reasons for Obamacare’s rocky rollout — a balky website, muddied White House messaging and sudden sticker shock for individuals forced to buy more expensive health insurance — add a less acknowledged cause: calculated sabotage by Republicans at every step.
That may sound like a left-wing conspiracy theory — and the Obama administration itself is so busy defending the indefensible early failings of its signature program that it has barely tried to make this case. But there is a strong factual basis for such a charge.
Stay tuned, and stay ready. More right-wing hatred on the way.
*****************Obama Vows To Fight: The ACA is Law That Will Last for Generations To Come
By: Jason Easley
Monday, November, 18th, 2013, 10:56 pm
In a call with supporters tonight, President Obama explained the big picture behind all of the white noise about websites. He said that the ACA is a law that will last for generations.
Here is the audio via our friends at The Obama Diary:
After listing the benefits of the ACA, President Obama talked about the half a million Americans who have already will have access to healthcare as of January 1, 2014. The president said, “That still leaves a whole lot of people that we’ve got to get signed up.” President Obama said that 12 million people have visited the site.
The president talked about the difficult battle to make this change a reality, “We knew it was going to be hard because change is hard, and there are a lot of vested interests, and obviously we haven’t gotten a lot of cooperation from the other party, so I’ve run my last political campaign, but I’ve got one more campaign in me, and that’s to make sure that this law works. We’re not backing off one bit.”
The most important thing that that the president said was, “All along at every step there have been folks who said that this wasn’t going to happen. Folks who said this is dead. Folks who said it’s never going to work. You know, that’s been going on for three years, and it’s not any different now. But the difference is that we can actually actually make sure that people get signed up, and start experiencing those benefits right off the bat, and if we do that consistently and effectively over the next six months then this law is going to be one that lasts for generations to come, and people will see why we fought so hard to do it.”
Often many Americans say that they want change for the country. They want to be a part of history. They want to move the country forward. The ACA is this generation’s chance to do exactly that. The ACA is a change the size of Social Security and Medicare.
This isn’t about websites. This is about giving people affordable access to something as vital as healthcare. Republicans are stomping their feet over things like cancelation notices and website issues, because they can’t stop the change that is coming.
The media is obsessing over the website because they can’t see beyond the 24/7 news cycle. The ACA isn’t going to fail, because people want access to affordable healthcare.
Republicans claimed that Social Security would ruin America. They claimed that Medicare would ruin America, and now in their most dire of tones, they are claiming that the ACA will ruin America. Progress doesn’t ruin America. It propels our nation forward, and the Affordable Care Act represents progress.
Don’t lose sight of the big picture. Millions of people want the ACA, and it now time to fight to make sure that they get it. This is why millions of you voted for Barack Obama. Now, it’s time for you to stand up and make the change you dreamed of in November 2008 a reality.