Category : NSA

Remember when Bitcoin was $100? You know, like 2 months ago? Well now it has leaped up $100 in just 4 hours, rising from $500 to $600 USD before retreating slightly.

Bitcoin on Nov 18, 2013

It seems the Little Currency That Could is making a run at $1000. We’ll soon see if it can make it before the bubble bursts again.

But why  are people investing in this crazy “virtual currency” anyway?
When I first stumbled across Bitcoin back in 2011, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. It seemed a pretty quixotic goal, making a new currency just for the internet. I knew the network effect was critical for gaining any traction, and at the time it was just the province of a few cypherpunks, led by a mysterious figure known as Satoshi Nakamoto who hasn’t been heard from since 2010. This person or group started the whole thing with a white paper laying out how it would work. Soon the system was up and running. There were a few bumps along the way but this resilient idea has since caught on and now there are a flurry of competing crypto-currencies — that is, digital money that’s secured by lots of complex math.

There’s more to Bitcoin than just another internet scam or tulip craze. The underlying technology that makes Bitcoin work is not smoke and mirrors. You can see it working every day as money is transferred all over the world, nearly insantly. All you need is an internet connection, which of course is needed for any sort of online banking you do with traditional money. Bitcoin’s genius is making large-scale, distributed cryptography work for the masses.

That’s the important point: Bitcoin works for the masses, unlike traditional fiat currencies like the US Dollar. Despite our democratic ideals, American money policy is decided behind closed doors by a secretive agency that fiddles with interest rates and makes huge bond purchases with money it creates from nothing. Transparency is not the Federal Reserve’s style.

Money for the masses
With Bitcoin, the code is open source and there is no central authority or bank — the job of verifying transactions is distributed across the globe. Don’t trust Bitcoin? Review the source code yourself and suggest changes if the security is not up to snuff. Let there be no mistake — Bitcoin is not yet out of “beta” and is not financed by a huge corporation with a strict delivery timeline. Nope, this is a bunch of self-appointed Guardian Nerds who mostly have day jobs not related to Bitcoin (except lead developer Gavin Andresen, who is paid by the nascent Bitcoin Foundation).

With that in mind, it’s best to think of Bitcoin as something that will be really cool and world-changing…

But it isn’t yet. Not until an easier payment system is deployed (it’s being developed now) and a stronger ecosystem of merchants accepting the currency emerges. What we’re witnessing now is a speculative landgrab because smart folks know that Bitcoin’s current market cap of 5 or 6 billion is chump change compared to what a fully mature, global digital currency would have if it were successful. To put it in comparison, Bill Gates could buy the whole Bitcoin economy nearly 10 times over, even in this midst of this bubble.

But is this a bubble or merely staggered massive growth?

Bitcoin versus traditional forms of money
Many valuations have been tossed about for Bitcoin. Most are probably overly optimistic, but the naysayers ignore the fact that Bitcoin was cleverly designed to be a store of value first and a currency second. It’s been derided as a “deflationary currency” even though it’s presently inflating at over 10% as new bitcoins are mined and put into circulation. Though misunderstood, Bitcoin is just on a somewhat-flexible schedule of inflation that will limit it to at most 21 million coins. It will take nearly 100 years for it to inflate from the present total of 12 million to its final total of 21 million. That’s not a bad thing — you can plan your life around that, whereas the Fed could change course tomorrow and you’d have no recourse except to try and compensate for what you think might be their new strategy.

Make no mistake: Bitcoin threatens inflationary currencies because it offers a release valve available to regular folks if the government and/or central bank decides to inflate your currency (as they inevitably do). That’s a good thing because competition among currencies can only help consumers and merchants. Central banks won’t be able to inflate secretly without the price of Bitcoin being affected.

Bitcoin is still pretty clumsy as a currency, but it works well as a store of value as long as you follow proper security procedures and principles. Does your password contain your name or birthday or even the word “password” in it? Does it have the string “12345″ in it? Perhaps you should not buy any bitcoin until “Bitcoin Banks” emerge to offer security to the security-impaired. The bad thing about a global, distributed currency is that it can be stolen remotely too. Don’t skimp on the passwords and don’t keep everything all in one place, like your email account which could itself be hacked. Enable 2 factor authentication where available.

Soon, major merchants will start accepting Bitcoin because they want to save money on credit card transaction fees and/or Paypal charges. Bitcoin is close to free (currently around 3 cents, regardless of the size of the transaction) versus the 2 or 3% fee associated with credit cards.

China: the sleeping giant awakens
Much of the current boom has been driven by enthusiasm in China. During the last huge bubble in April China was barely a participant. This time they are driving the whole market and are responsible for more than half of all exchange trades which consistently outweighs the USD. The Chinese seem to like Bitcoin. A lot.

That means we’re in uncharted waters. Who knows the depths of their desire for bitcoin? Their proclivities could change the world because the Chinese and westerners have different philosophies of money. The Chinese are savers whereas the West has encouraged spending and investment through inflationary currencies that need to be earning you money or solving a problem, or else they are losing value. Much of western civilization is predicated on this quirk of our monetary system. Before, the only way to opt out was to buy gold and silver, but Bitcoin offers a new way to preserve value over time, but has the advantage that it can be sent anywhere in the world cheaply and in about an hour.

That’s why people have taken to calling Bitcoin things like Digital Gold and Gold 2.0. It could become a whole new asset class.

Bitcoin is a blessing and a curse for the Obama Administration
That’s been a problem for the US Government  – it doesn’t know how to classify Bitcoin for tax and regulation purposes. Is it a currency? A store of value? An asset? A security? A collectible? A stock in some hippy/libertarian enterprise? All of the above?

While many observers thought that the US regime would quickly make Bitcoin illegal because of its threat to the US Dollar, it now appears Washington is going to take a more wait & see approach, partly because the Chinese boom seems certain to incubate a new wave of start-ups and millionaires just like the early PC revolution did in the 80s and the internet boom did during the late 90s. Lawmakers face a stark choice: Do you want this new round of innovation to happen in Silicon Valley… or Shanghai?

Besides, Obama/Congress making Bitcoin illegal would only apply to the US and would only serve to drive it underground.  The Feds could try to eradicate it on the internet (at the cost of our liberties), but they would ultimately succeed only restricting commerce. Bitcoin is easy enough to hold offline as a paper wallet. I’m not sure if the US government even still bothers to feign interest in the plight of oppressed peoples living under dictatorships unless there happens to be some oil nearby, but if they did care, Bitcoin is a great way to effect commerce outside the grip of a despot. The obvious early candidates for Bitcoin merchants is any business involving the internet so buying a web domain with bitcoin is already possible. Soon other anti-censorship tools could become available with a digital currency that is difficult for authorities to track if you use appropriate anonymizing tools.

Is Bitcoin anonymous? Sort of.
It should be noted that Bitcoin is not fully anonymous. In fact, every transaction ever made is stored in a huge public ledger (the “Blockchain”) that is hosted and shared by anybody running a Bitcoin node. This helps verify that coins aren’t spent twice and ensures that only the person with the private key can access them. However, you can take steps to make sure no one knows you have that address. Bitcoin addresses are called “wallets” and they are basically both the wallet and bank account of Bitcoin. You can create a new one with a click of a button. No identifying information is required, but the NSA will still be spying on all your activities on the internet (as I’ve been saying for years, but we’re all supposed to be shocked) so tread with caution.

Golden Future: What does the future hold for Bitcoin?
So what does the future hold for Bitcoin? No one knows for sure, but I think we are watching history unfold. People scoffed at the idea of a personal computer. They scoffed at the internet and at mobile phones too. Yet the tide of history flows onward like the River Nile, demolishing our preconceptions and old ideas that no longer serve us in its inexorable ebb and flow.

In the wake of the financial disaster of 2008 and the lingering malaise (even as the Dow breaks 16,000), we have to wonder if our current concept of money is still working. In the old days, money was gold. Or silver. But we banished that idea to the distant past when paper money (which were originally certificates redeemable for gold or silver) caught on. But in the age of derivatives and CDOs and quantitative easing, perhaps it’s time to reassess if paper money — which somehow transformed into digital money in the last few decades — is really helping us.

So the idea of digital money isn’t even new. And neither is Bitcoin’s slow, steady inflation level because it mimics how gold is mined. But the idea of a currency created through cryptographic equations and run on normal PCs is radically new and revolutionary. Could it be that Bitcoin is the best of both worlds, the best of the old and the new?

Time will tell. But Bitcoin is just the first of what promises to be many cryptocurrencies. If Bitcoin doesn’t get it right, it’s likely that some other crypto-coin will.

Learn more about Bitcoin at WeUseCoins.com. Bitcoin has a significant learning curve and it’s worthwhile to invest some time into understanding it before you dive in. And if you’re going to buy in, wait until this current bubble pops. And pop it will, but I bet it will still be higher than it was 2 months ago.

You might be telling your grandkids about way back in your day when a bitcoin was only worth 600 dollars. And your grandkids will ask, “What’s a dollar?”

Kucinich has introduced the Articles of Impeachment against Bush

…and the Media hasn’t said shit.

“Liberal Media” my ass! The Media is fucking fascist, end of story. They are utterly controlled by the same corporate interests that control both major political parties. That’s why Dennis Kucinich is a pariah in his own party — he actually looks out for the Constitution and the rights of We The People. Such dedication to Liberty is considered treason in the bowels of both the Democratic and Republican parties.

A few mainstream outlets picked up the story and managed to spend an approximate average of less than 200 words describing the measure. They couldn’t even be bothered to list more than a few of the 35 articles of impeachment.

I’ve seen better reporting in a fucking high school newspaper.

I don’t blame the beat reporters; if their editors said “give me 2,000 words” they would have. As is, they probably had to fight to get 200.

But it’s disgusting. I mean, jeeze, it’s only the impeachment of the goddamn President of the United States of America. They all managed to mention that it’s not politically feasible. Well I wonder why that is, you jackasses! It’s because you won’t cover it! If you did, everything would change, no matter how shitty and biased your coverage. Mr. 25% Approval Rating would not find many advocates in the populace, even if he would in the dominant press. And then you’d look pretty stupid, wouldn’t you, defending the murdering megalomaniac who launched an illegal war. Those of us who still remember the impeachment of Bill Clinton know that it takes very little to whip the Media into a frothing frenzy of obsessive, inane coverage. Surely you could do the same for Bush. But you won’t.

Because you’re traitors.

Yeah, that’s right. I said it. And it’s true. This president is the most evil, diabolical man ever elected and you, the supposed Fourth Estate, won’t criticize him in a voice above a whisper. It’s fucking pathetic.

Look at Kucinich’s 35 articles of impeachment. There’s a lot of red meat here:

#1: Creating a secret propaganda campaign to manufacture a false case for war against Iraq

#2 Falsely, Systematically, and with Criminal Intent Conflating the Attacks of September 11, 2001, With Misrepresentation of Iraq as a Security Threat as Part of Fraudulent Justification for a War of Aggression

#3 Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction, to Manufacture a False Case for War

#4 Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Posed an Imminent Threat to the United States

#14: Misprision of a felony, misuse and exposure of classified information and cover up (Plame outing)

#15: Providing immunity from prosecution for criminal conduct for contractors in Iraq

#17: Illegal detention – detaining indefinitely, and without charge, American citizens and foreign captives (suspension of habeus)

#18: Torture – secretly authorizing and encouraging use of torture, as matter of official policy

#19 Rendition

#24 Spying on citizens violating 4th Amendment

#26 Announcing intent to violate laws w/signing statements, and then violating those laws.

#27 Failing to comply with congressional subpoenas, and instructing others to do so.

#29: Conspiracy to violate voting rights act of 1965, Ohio Sec of State 2004-06

#34: Obstruction into the investigation of 9/11

That’s just a few of them. And this isn’t wing-nut stuff, this is all stuff that has been discussed at one time or another in the mainstream press. Much of it was hushed up (the NSA spying scandal, election fraud, 9/11 obstruction) but some of it was loud and clear (torture, Plame, illegal Iraq War). Far from being left-wing lunacy, this is the last 7.5 years, distilled into 35 bullet points.

And yet the Media won’t cover a congressman trying to hold Bush/Cheney accountable for their crimes.

I already told you why. But let it sink in. The Mainstream Media are the ones who made the Bush/Cheney disaster possible. They’re the ones who greased the wheels, regurgitated the lies, jumped on the bandwagon and hushed up the really bad shit. Bush, without a fawning press corps, is just another partisan nutcase with a rich daddy. He wouldn’t've been re-elected, let alone “elected” in the first place (another coverup there).

Let me lay it down for ya, real simple: If Bush hangs, Brian Williams should hang, too. If Cheney hangs, Tim Russert needs to swing from the same pole. If Rumsfeld goes down to the gallows, Charles Krauthammer and David Brooks need to die too. The blood of OVER ONE MILLION IRAQI INNOCENTS is on their hands.

Maybe that’s why the Media is so protective of the Bush regime: They know if Bush goes down, they all go down. They’ve all bloodied their hands and sullied their souls together. Might as well stick together until the bitter end.

But if we don’t stop them, they’ll turn this nation into a fascist state and make you and I into criminals for believing in justice, peace and freedom. Somehow we’ve got to stop them, but I just don’t know how. I’m just some random guy with a blog. What can I do? There’s no one representing my interests in Washington except Dennis Kucinich.

One man, standing up against the Forces of Evil, spitting in the wind and calling for change. This doesn’t look good for the underdogs.

Meanwhile, the supposed hope of mankind is cozying up to Israel, possibly attending the secret Bilderberg meeting (another media coverup) and generally doing whatever it takes to get elected. Fair enough. But Barack Obama had better watch out that he doesn’t sell his soul in the process.

Maybe the whole Obama campaign is just a mirage, a hallucination by those of us who have dreamed of someone who could bring our government back from the brink of tyranny and outright fascism.

I hope I’m wrong, but it’s hard to believe in anything or anybody anymore. We’ve been utterly betrayed by the government, the media and the elite. It just hurts too much to care anymore. The audacity of hope, indeed.

I’d feel a lot more hopeful if I knew somebody out there was fighting the good fight. I sleep a little sounder knowing Kucinich has the balls of a man twice his size, but he’s only one man. We need a few hundred more like him in Congress.

Dennis Kucinich: I salute you. You are a true American patriot.

There exists, somewhere deep in the belly of the NSA, a database so large, so secret, and so illegal, that few government officials will dare talk about it, even off the record.

Sources familiar with the program say that the government’s data gathering has been overzealous and probably conducted in violation of federal law and the protection from unreasonable search and seizure guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment.

According to a senior government official who served with high-level security clearances in five administrations, “There exists a database of Americans, who, often for the slightest and most trivial reason, are considered unfriendly, and who, in a time of panic, might be incarcerated. The database can identify and locate perceived ‘enemies of the state’ almost instantaneously.” He and other sources tell Radar that the database is sometimes referred to by the code name Main Core. One knowledgeable source claims that 8 million Americans are now listed in Main Core as potentially suspect. In the event of a national emergency, these people could be subject to everything from heightened surveillance and tracking to direct questioning and possibly even detention. [emphasis mine]

Are you on the list? You have no way of knowing. There’s no way to reason with them, to tell them you’re not a threat. There’s no recourse, no due process, no rights.

This is the dark heart of our government, silently beating away in the darkest corner of a military base somewhere deep underground. There are people in position who long for (or at least plan for) the chance to take power in the next emergency. The Constitution would be suspended, Congress rendered impotent, martial law declared and cities locked down.

For what?

Fear. This government fears its citizens, not because they’re all terrorists, but because many of them still believe in democracy. Such people are dangerous. Believing in the Constitution might be enough to get you on the list.

Let’s imagine a harrowing scenario: coordinated bombings in several American cities culminating in a major blast—say, a suitcase nuke—in New York City. Thousands of civilians are dead. Commerce is paralyzed. A state of emergency is declared by the president. Continuity of Governance plans that were developed during the Cold War and aggressively revised since 9/11 go into effect. Surviving government officials are shuttled to protected underground complexes carved into the hills of Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Power shifts to a “parallel government” that consists of scores of secretly preselected officials. (As far back as the 1980s, Donald Rumsfeld, then CEO of a pharmaceutical company, and Dick Cheney, then a congressman from Wyoming, were slated to step into key positions during a declared emergency.) The executive branch is the sole and absolute seat of authority, with Congress and the judiciary relegated to advisory roles at best. The country becomes, within a matter of hours, a police state.

Why? Why do we need to become a police state in order to become “secure”? Well, I already mentioned it above; the people who put these COG plans together are not patriots. They are traitors who wish to dispense with the annoyances of representative government and move instead to a system where everything is much smoother… for those in power.

It’s strange that they would throw 200 years of liberty at the first sign of trouble … if you don’t know who these people are. Notice who gets protected in the scenario above. They aren’t saving the Constitution, they’re saving their own asses. They don’t have contingency plans in place to ensure that citizens’ rights are upheld; no, they’re only concerned with maintaining their power and their control over us.

It’s not necessary that the government be saved. We can start a new one and Lord knows it’ll be better than the one we’ve got. But the one we’ve got is intent on saving its own skin, Constitution and Bill of Rights be damned. This isn’t a Continuity of Liberty plan. This is a Discontinuation of Liberty plan.

The totality of this plan, the way every tactically-important aspect has been planned for seizure and “continuity”, is to me indicative of Totalitarianism. The state and those in power can’t even imagine why we wouldn’t want the government to control everything. The idea that we could survive just fine without a bloated Federal government doesn’t even occur to them.

You know, the United States of America was originally supposed to be an alliance amongst soveriegn states. If something bad happens in Washington D.C. that shouldn’t directly affect Arizona or Minnesota, except as far as Federal money is concerned (the main tool by which the Federal government has tightened its control over the states).

Realize this: We don’t need a strong Federal government! We have state and local governments to take care of things important to every American; things like roads, power, water, communications and other services.

And who’s planning all this stuff anyway? Surely a competent agency with a devotion to civil liberties, right?

Haha, just kidding. You know we’re fucked: It’s FEMA!

Under law, during a national emergency, FEMA and its parent organization, the Department of Homeland Security, would be empowered to seize private and public property, all forms of transport, and all food supplies. The agency could dispatch military commanders to run state and local governments, and it could order the arrest of citizens without a warrant, holding them without trial for as long as the acting government deems necessary.

Seriously.

Well, I guess I should look at the silver lining: FEMA will probably be just an incompetent at taking our liberties away as at helping those in need… But that’s probably optimistic on my part. The reason FEMA sucks at disaster relief is because it was never really set up to be a benevolent agency; the idea behind FEMA was always this: Seizing control of the nation during an emergency.

This is the real purpose of the War on Terror. It’s to get us used to the idea that the government needs to step in and take over when things get rough. What they don’t tell you is that they’re intentionally creating a culture of fear to make the poisonous medecine go down easier, and they’re probably working the other end of things too, creating the conditions for terrorists to thrive so they’ll launch attacks and trigger the COG plans that were the whole point of the War on Terror in the first place. So, like the War on Drugs, the WOT is reall just a War on Liberty.

All this brings us back to the Main Core database:

Another well-informed source—a former military operative regularly briefed by members of the intelligence community—says this particular program has roots going back at least to the 1980s and was set up with help from the Defense Intelligence Agency. He has been told that the program utilizes software that makes predictive judgments of targets’ behavior and tracks their circle of associations with “social network analysis” and artificial intelligence modeling tools.

“The more data you have on a particular target, the better [the software] can predict what the target will do, where the target will go, who it will turn to for help,” he says. “Main Core is the table of contents for all the illegal information that the U.S. government has [compiled] on specific targets.” An intelligence expert who has been briefed by high-level contacts in the Department of Homeland Se
curity confirms that a database of this sort exists, but adds that “it is less a mega-database than a way to search numerous other agency databases at the same time.”

The fact that there are 8 million of us in this database is nothing less than horrifying. If there were really 8 million terrorists in the USA we’d have people exploding with Baghdad-like regularity… but we don’t. Nope, it’s far more likely that the people in this database are those like myself who believe in liberty and democracy. We are the true threat a tyrannical government would face in an emergency because we would want the Constitution to be reinstated. The COGers won’t let that happen.

That is why we need to be monitored. All of us. All the time. For no reason other than we might be a threat some time in the future. Maybe. The pesky 4th amendment makes this so much more difficult than the government would like, but after years of merciless attack there’s not much left of it in the public consciousness or on the law books. Here’s a look at what they monitor:

The following information seems to be fair game for collection without a warrant: the e-mail addresses you send to and receive from, and the subject lines of those messages; the phone numbers you dial, the numbers that dial in to your line, and the durations of the calls; the Internet sites you visit and the keywords in your Web searches; the destinations of the airline tickets you buy; the amounts and locations of your ATM withdrawals; and the goods and services you purchase on credit cards. All of this information is archived on government supercomputers and, according to sources, also fed into the Main Core database.

Basically, you are being monitored at all times. The NSA has been scooping up anything and everything on the internet for years. They already had phone conversations and financial transactions.

The privacy concerns are horrifying enough, but what’s worse is that the database is probably useless at preventing terrorism:

In any case, mass watch lists of domestic citizens may do nothing to make us safer from terrorism. Jeff Jonas, chief scientist at IBM, a world-renowned expert in data mining, contends that such efforts won’t prevent terrorist conspiracies. “Because there is so little historical terrorist event data,” Jonas tells Radar, “there is not enough volume to create precise predictions.”

But there is a lot of data on regular Americans who aren’t planning any attacks. And that data can be misused, and it probably will be at the first opportunity.

Yes! Best news I’ve heard all day! Think Progress has the scoop:

Fox News reports a federal district court in Detroit has ruled that the Bush administration’s NSA warrantless wiretapping program is unconstitutional and ordered an immediate halt to it.

Hell yeah!! I wonder what the neocons’ next move will be. The judge has issued an injunction (pdf) (I’m glad to see James Bamford is one of the plaintiffs).

Only problem is: How will we ever know for sure that they’ve stopped the program? We didn’t know when they started it — it was revealed only recently. What mechanism do we have for ensuring that the NSA doesn’t simply change the name of the program and ignore the judge’s order?

The NSA is a rogue agency. We need Congress to crack it wide open and see what it’s been hiding all these years.

It seems that Bush isn’t really telling Congress everything. One of his major supporters wrote him a letter to complain about his committee being left out of the loop on several new spying programs which presumably have not been made public yet:

In a sharply worded letter, the Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee has told President Bush that the administration is angering lawmakers, and possibly violating the law, by giving Congress too little information about domestic surveillance programs.

Rep. Peter Hoekstra (Mich.) has been a staunch defender of the administration’s anti-terrorism tactics. But seven weeks ago, he wrote to Bush to report that he had heard of “alleged Intelligence Community activities” not outlined to committee members in classified briefings.

“If these allegations are true,” he wrote, “they may represent a breach of responsibility by the Administration, a violation of law and . . . a direct affront to me and the Members of this committee.”

Hoekstra’s four-page letter of May 18 was posted yesterday on the New York Times’ Web site. His staff confirmed the letter’s authenticity but said it was meant to remain private. Spokesman Jamal D. Ware said Hoekstra “has raised these concerns, and they are being addressed. He will continue to push for full disclosure so the committee can conduct vigorous oversight.”

The letter is significant because few congressional Republicans have complained publicly about Bush’s surveillance programs, which include warrantless wiretaps of some Americans’ international phone calls and e-mails as well as the massive collection of telephone records involving U.S. homes and businesses.

Well, nice of them to finally speak up. Or one of them, I guess. He seems pretty steamed about being left out of the loop:

In his letter, Hoekstra complained of unspecified alleged surveillance operations that had not become public at the time and that, perhaps, remain undisclosed. It was written five weeks before newspapers divulged that the administration has been secretly tapping into a vast global database of confidential financial transactions for nearly five years. It was unclear yesterday whether Hoekstra and other top-ranking lawmakers had been briefed on that program by the date of the letter.

So I guess the Bush administration was lying when it said that it keeps Congress well-informed of it various spying programs. One more lie to add to the growing pile.

I wonder what those undisclosed spying programs entail? Maybe it’s only the SWIFT financial records spying program, but it could be a whole new one, or a bunch of new ones. Either way, Bush lied. Let me say it again: Bush Lied.

But when he says, “trust me” some people still believe him. How stupid can you get? The man is a habitual liar and a politician. He cannot be trusted. Let’s not keeping making that mistake, okay?

It now sounds like the NSA approached AT&T about setting up a domestic spying ring well before 9/11. Bush previously claimed that 9/11 was the impetus behind the decision, but it sounds like he’s just a fascist by nature:

The U.S. National Security Agency asked AT&T Inc. to help it set up a domestic call monitoring site seven months before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, lawyers claimed June 23 in court papers filed in New York federal court.

The allegation is part of a court filing adding AT&T, the nation’s largest telephone company, as a defendant in a breach of privacy case filed earlier this month on behalf of Verizon Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp. customers. The suit alleges that the three carriers, the NSA and President George W. Bush violated the Telecommunications Act of 1934 and the U.S. Constitution, and seeks money damages.

“The Bush Administration asserted this became necessary after 9/11,” plaintiff’s lawyer Carl Mayer said in a telephone interview. “This undermines that assertion.”

The lawsuit is related to an alleged NSA program to record and store data on calls placed by subscribers. More than 30 suits have been filed over claims that the carriers, the three biggest U.S. telephone companies, violated the privacy rights of their customers by cooperating with the NSA in an effort to track alleged terrorists.

Well, this probably comes as a surprise to anyone who thinks Bush is a real conservative. The neocons are called neo-conservatives because they’re not really conservative. They’re actually quite a radical bunch and they came into office with a very forward-looking plan to reshape the world and America’s place in it. While you certainly can’t call them liberals, the conservative label doesn’t fit either. That’s why I like to call them neo-fascists. It describes their intent and their methods so much better than the other, more conventional terms.

So let there be no doubt: Spying on us and taking away our liberties was the plan from day one. They didn’t suddenly become radicalized by 9/11 — they claim that continually and that’s bullshit. They hope that we were changed by 9/11, but it didn’t affect them in the same way. Shit, the neocons probably threw a party after 9/11 because suddenly everything they’ve ever wanted was within reach. They can continue building their American Empire without a lot of whiny opposition (or so they thought! Bloggers can whine better than anyone!) and they no longer had to pretend to care about the Constitution. When you look at who benefited most from 9/11 the neocons are on the top of the list. They certainly faired better than the mythical Al Qaeda (which is CIA anyway).
We live in dark times. Can’t trust our own government. Our government has been stolen out from under our noses and most people have no idea why or how. I can answer that quite easily. Why? Power. How? The Federal Reserve System. That’s a gross oversimplification, but the fact remains that the Fed enabled the private banking class to control our government from afar. Just think about it: A private institution, in the middle of our government (inaccurately named “Federal”) that controls our money supply. The government depends on the Fed for it’s power because in the capitalist system the bankers are king. Shit, you’d be king too if you could take a dollar and turn it into ten dollars just by loaning it out ten times. That’s the way banks work; fractional reserve banking is a huge scam:

Banks make money by literally creating money out of thin air, nowadays exclusively deposits rather than bank notes. This sort of swindling or counterfeiting is dignified by the term “fractional-reserve banking,” which means that bank deposits are backed by only a small fraction of the cash they promise to have at hand and redeem. (Right now, in the United States, this minimum fraction is fixed by the Federal Reserve System at 10 percent.)

Fractional Reserve Banking

Let’s see how the fractional reserve process works, in the absence of a central bank. I set up a Rothbard Bank, and invest $1,000 of cash (whether gold or government paper does not matter here). Then I “lend out” $10,000 to someone, either for consumer spending or to invest in his business. How can I “lend out” far more than I have? Ahh, that’s the magic of the “fraction” in the fractional reserve. I simply open up a checking account of $10,000 which I am happy to lend to Mr. Jones. Why does Jones borrow from me? Well, for one thing, I can charge a lower rate of interest than savers would. I don’t have to save up the money myself, but simply can counterfeit it out of thin air. (In the nineteenth century, I would have been able to issue bank notes, but the Federal Reserve now monopolizes note issues.) Since demand deposits at the Rothbard Bank function as equivalent to cash, the nation’s money supply has just, by magic, increased by $10,000. The inflationary, counterfeiting process is under way.

The nineteenth-century English economist Thomas Tooke correctly stated that “free trade in banking is tantamount to free trade in swindling.”

Read the whole article. It’s a great primer on how inflated and fake our whole economy is. Anytime there’s inflation your money is suddenly worth less. But whoever created that new money just got a sweet deal. He just swindled you and it’s all completely legal. He can swindle you again and again and you’ll never know his name or look him in the eye. You’ll never get a chance to get your money back either. Our entire economy is one big scam.

So, who benefits from all of this? Bankers and criminals, of course (is there a difference?). Over the years they have grown powerful and they are getting extremely tired of the constitutional roadblocks in place and they would very much like to be rid of our pesky civil liberties. So it should come as no surprise that Bush has been a tyrannical, fascist, wanna-be dictator from day one — he is very much a scion of the criminal banking class (he was born in Connecticut, not Texas) and his goal has always been to increase the power of the Shadow Government that sprung up after the creation of the Fed. The Shadow Government includes the military-industrial-complex (which itself includes the NSA, CIA, the Pentagon as a whole and Congress) along with the Fed, the FBI, the ATF and various other tentacles of contr
ol (like the media). Not everyone who works at the NSA is part of this Shadow Government, but the problem is that most people don’t even know it exists — so how can they fight against it?

Spread the word. The Shadow Government is basically a takeover attempt by the banking cartel and their criminal buddies. Events like 9/11 will continue to happen until they are removed from power.

Dear Leader, fresh from his daily manicure, his daily jog, his daily 3 hour prayer session, his leisurely breakfast and his daily rimjob, got off his ass to yell at the press for bothering to do their job (for once):

President Bush on Monday sharply condemned the disclosure of a program to secretly monitor the financial transactions of suspected terrorists. “The disclosure of this program is disgraceful,” he said.

“For people to leak that program and for a newspaper to publish it does great harm to the United States of America,” Bush said, jabbing his finger for emphasis. He said the disclosure of the program “makes it harder to win this war on terror.”

Meanwhile, hiding in a cave somewhere in Afghanistan, a terrorist foot soldier for Al-Qaeda known as Habib al-Durka al-Alallalli had this to say about the financial records spying story: “Oh my Allah (peace be upon him)! I had no idea that the infidels were watching financial transactions within their own western banking institutions! What a shocker. I guess I will now have to be closing my Wells Fargo account. But what will I do about free checking? Oh, I hope this doesn’t affect my credit rating!”

Other terrorists were similarly concerned about the spying revelations. Several expressed concerns about whether their recent orders from The Pottery Barn were tracked. Remarked al-Alallalli, “Between this and the NSA’s internet datamining I am pretty sure the infidels know what kind of floral patterns I prefer, making it easy to distinguish my cave from Akbar the goat-herder’s. Curse the infidels and their irresistable deals on hand-sewn tufted cushions!!”

That’s basically what’s happening here. Specter is determined to please his masters (the neocons, not the American people you silly!) by retroactively making what they did legal:

But Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and other critics contend the program skirted a 1978 law that required the government to get approval from a secretive federal court before Americans could be monitored.

“We’re getting close with the discussions with the White House, I think, to having the wiretapping issue submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court,” Specter told “Fox New Sunday.”

What needs to be done? Looks like there’s some behind the scenes clean-up or cover-up going on here. Why not just submit it? Because it wouldn’t fly.

The administration has asserted that a post-Sept. 11, 2001, congressional resolution approving the use of military force covered the surveillance of some domestic communications.

Specter has said that the president “does not have a blank check” and he has sought to have administration ask the special court to review the program.

At least not until you write them one, right Arlen? Specter should be using his power as chairman to nail this administration’s balls to the wall, but instead he’s trying to play both sides and get them out of a serious constitutional jam.

Meanwhile, Rep. Peter King is saying that the New York Times should be prosecuted for daring to reveal the financial records spying program:

King, R-N.Y., said he would write Attorney General Alberto Gonzales urging that the nation’s chief law enforcer “begin an investigation and prosecution of The New York Times— the reporters, the editors and the publisher.”

“We’re at war, and for the Times to release information about secret operations and methods is treasonous,” King told The Associated Press.

No, treasonous is destroying Americans’ 4th amendment rights for some sort of secret spying program that wasn’t approved by the full Congress or by any federal court.

Persecuting the press for revealing abuses of power: Sounds exactly like fascism to me!

Salon has a new article about the NSA spying scandal (icky day pass thing required). It adds to earlier reports by whistleblower Mark Klein, and it includes the same type “secret room” that requires top secret access:

The details provided by the two former workers about the Bridgeton room bear the distinctive earmarks of an operation run by the National Security Agency, according to two intelligence experts with extensive knowledge of the NSA and its operations. In addition to the room’s high-tech security, those intelligence experts told Salon, the exhaustive vetting process AT&T workers were put through before being granted top-secret security clearance points to the NSA, an agency known as much for its intense secrecy as its technological sophistication.

“It was very hush-hush,” said one of the former AT&T workers. “We were told there was going to be some government personnel working in that room. We were told, ‘Do not try to speak to them. Do not hamper their work. Do not impede anything that they’re doing.’”

The importance of the Bridgeton facility is its role in managing the “common backbone” for all of AT&T’s Internet operations. According to one of the former workers, Bridgeton serves as the technical command center from which the company manages all the routers and circuits carrying the company’s domestic and international Internet traffic. Therefore, Bridgeton could be instrumental for conducting surveillance or collecting data.

They’re listening in on a backbone, so that means they’re catching a massive amount of internet traffic. It’s no doubt being filtered and entered into a database for later search and retrieval. Scary stuff. The government should not be allowed to do this without explicit congressional approval. But this is George Bush’s America, and he’s considered to be above the law by his allies. Personally, I think this is either insanity and paranoia or a deliberate step towards dictatorship and totalitarianism.

The ACLU is claiming that the NSA wirtapping program is illegal under the Constitution. Silly ACLU; they think we still have a Constitution. What we really is have is a ruling cabal of fascists pretending they believe in freedom:

The parties in the ACLU lawsuit, who include journalists, scholars and lawyers, say the program has hampered their ability to do their jobs because it has made international contacts, such as sources and potential witnesses, wary of sharing information over the phone.

Ann Beeson, the ACLU’s associate legal director, said the administration’s arguments in defense of the program don’t square with the Constitution.

“The framers never intended to give the president the power to ignore the laws of Congress even during wartime and emergencies,” she said last week during a conference call with reporters.

She said no state secrets need to be revealed to litigate the case because the administration has already acknowledged the program exists. The Center for Constitutional Rights has filed a similar lawsuit on the eavesdropping in federal court in New York.

Everytime the government uses the old “state secrets” line, democracy dies a little more. “State secrets” is their version of a “Get out of jail free” card. Like the “national security” red herring, it works everytime. I expect this case to dismissed soon.

We no longer live in a Constitutional Republic. Democracy was fun while it lasted.

This is not getting out of hand. It’s way beyond that now. We are watching our rights, our privacy, our Constitution, our nation — crumble before our very eyes. So this is what the death of democracy feels like. For me it feels like numb, helpless outrage. Are you ready for the latest outrage?

Here it is, from Capitol Hill Blue:

Now that he is officially sworn in as the new head of the Central Intelligence Agency, Gen. Michael Hayden plans to build a vast domestic spying network that will pry into the lives of most Americans around the clock.

President George W. Bush told Hayden to “take whatever steps necessary” to monitor Americans 24/7 by listening in on their phone calls, bugging their homes and offices, probing their private lives, snooping into their financial records and watching their travel habits.

Can I prove this in a court of law? No. Do I know it is happening? Yes, without a doubt. Enough sources within the CIA, FBI, NSA and Pentagon have come forward in recent days to warn about Hayden’s plans for an expanded, consolidated spy network aimed at Americans, not terrorists, and violating numerous laws that prohibit such activities against citizens of this country.

“What Hayden plans to do is not only illegal, it is immoral,” says a longtime CIA operative who may retire early rather than participate in what he sees as an illegal extension of the spy agency’s activities.

The article goes on to mention that resignations are at an all-time high at The Agency. The reporter, Doug Thompson, wishes he could prove this to us. I guess we have to take his word for it for now. But would I be surpised if every word were true? Not one bit.

I wish I could prove this. I wish one, just one, source on the inside was willing to come forward and allow his or her name to be used but those who might be tempted see what happened to Mary McCarthy, the CIA employee fired and under threat of prosecution for leaking information about CIA torture camps in Europe.

But I know it is happening. People I’ve known for years and trust tell me it is happening and the past record of spying, lies and deceit by the Bush administration point to just such an operation.

This nation is under attack. We, the people, are under attack. And the enemy in this case is not an Islamic radical hiding in a cave in Afghanistan but a cabal of truly evil men and women at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and on Capitol Hill aided by carefully-picked, law-ignoring appointees at the Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Avenue, a black glass-walled building at Fort Meade, MD, and a complex in Langley, Virginia.

Not the normally sedate language we’re used to reading in the press. But he’s right. We are under attack. Let me say it again:

We Are Under Attack. By Our Own Government.

So, we catch any terrorists yet?

…Or have we only managed to infringe on the rights of 300 million Americans?

The NSA surveillance program is not about catching terrorists. Don’t ever let anybody tell you otherwise. It’s not going to work if they don’t listen to the calls themselves (they do). Their data mining is worthless unless they attach to it other information such as your social security number, medical records, financial records and criminal history.

No, the reason why they’re monitoring all of us is because the paranoid, fascist, psychopaths in charge of the country think that there are 300 million potential terrorists out there. Of course, when they say “terrorist” they mean anybody who doesn’t agree with the Bush clan. That means, Democrats, libertarians, academics, certain members of the media, teachers, those crazy Hollywood liberals, anybody who uses the internet, and of course, grandmothers. Ooohhh!! What a scary bunch!

Of course, with Bush’s polls in the lower 30s, you can add a good chunk of his Republican base to the list. As his numbers continue to spiral downwards Bush will get more and more paranoid and he will actually turn on his base and attack former friends. It should be amusing to watch.

The whole immigration debate is a good example of how Bush will be forced to choose one side of his base over the other. Corporations love illegal immigration because it provides cheap labor. Social conservatives hate illegal immigration because they don’t like brown people and they think those brown people might be stealing their jobs (and they’re probably right, since the corporations love cheap labor, like I said). So, who will Bush side with? He’s gonna piss off somebody; that’s a given. But in the end, I think Bush will side with the corporations since they are his bread and butter. The social conservatives thought he was one of them; they thought wrong. Again.

Personally, I could give a fuck as long as they don’t build a Great Wall of Terror between the US and Mexico. That would just be stupid. Yes, illegal immigration is a problem, but let’s not overreact here. What we need are more workers visas for Mexico. Most illegal immigrants actually return home after sending a bunch of cash back to Mexico. This creates economic problems in Mexico, of course. I really don’t know what the ideal solution is; I just hope GW doesn’t annex Mexico.