Thursday March 23rd, 2017

"It Is Not A Question of Who Is Right Or Wrong But What Is Right Or Wrong That Counts."
--Geoff Metctalf

Updated hrs PT           
              


World & National 
"The Press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of the government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people."
-- Justice Hugo L. Black
(1886-1971) US Supreme Court Justice
How Team Trump's 'unmasking' may reveal illegal actions by Obama officials
       President Donald Trump, followed by Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, left, walks into the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, as David O'Steen of the National Right to Life watches. Trump discussed the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, setting up a fierce fight with Democrats over a jurist who could shape America's legal landscape for decades to come. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) **FILE**

Trump presidential transition officials had their communications monitored and “unmasked” by the intelligence community, the chairman of the House intelligence committee said Wednesday, offering the first major piece of evidence of possible illegal activity by Obama officials against Donald Trump as president-elect.

Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican, said Mr. Trump’s own communications might have been monitored.

All of the information appears to have been scooped up legally and incidentally, meaning the Trump officials weren’t the targets. They may have been gathered by foreign intelligence and then shared with the U.S. under existing agreements, one lawmaker said.



Vote looming, Trump struggles to win Obamacare repeal

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday was set to make a final push on Thursday to secure the votes to begin dismantling Obamacare in the House of Representatives, with signs that enough Republicans might defect to jeopardize one of his top legislative priorities.

Trump has mounted an intensive campaign to garner support for the initiative and the effort is seen by financial markets as a crucial test of his ability to move his legislative agenda, including planned tax cuts, through Congress.

Republican leaders hoped to vote on Thursday but there were signs the deadline could be pushed back. Trump scheduled an 11:30 a.m. ET/1530 GMT meeting with members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus at the White House.



London terrorist known to MI5

           Emergency services at the scene outside the Palace of Westminster, London, after policeman has been stabbed and his apparent attacker shot by officers in a major security incident

THE British-born lone wolf extremist who launched a deadly attack on Parliament was shot dead by Defence Secretary Michael Fallon’s security guard, it has emerged.

Theresa May admitted there was no prior intelligence of the deadly attack at Parliament, which has now been claimed by ISIS, with the PM revealing MI5 intelligence chiefs had previously investigated 52-year-old Khalid Masood but dismissed him as a “peripheral figure”.

The murderous rampage was only stopped when the Defence Minister’s protection officer drew his gun, shooting the extremist up to three times.

Officials have now said the lone wolf maniac was inspired by “Islamic terrorism” and had been investigated for violent extremism by MI5 before he mowed down crowds on Westminster Bridge and stabbed cop Keith Palmer to death outside Parliament.
Khalid Masood...
HOW ONE OPEN GATE LET KNIFE MANIAC IN TO KILL...
ISIS claims responsibility...
Vehicles Becoming Favored Attack Weapon...
Le Pen demands border controls...
Utah man killed, wife badly injured...
HOPKINS: We can't go on like this...


If AHCA Doesn't Drop Costs, Conservatives Won't Vote For It


If an agreement is reached with the American Health Care Act to bring down the costs of insurance premiums, reluctant conservatives will likely support the measure, but if it isn't, then they won't, House Freedom Caucus founding member Rep. Jim Jordan said Thursday.

"We've been clear about this from the get-go," the Ohio Republican told Fox News' "Fox & Friends" program. "Let's repeal Obamacare, let's make sure we bring down premiums, short of that, then we're not going to support the legislation."



Schumer says Dems will filibuster Gorsuch


Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Thursday that Democrats will attempt to filibuster Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination, saying he would tilt the Supreme Court too far away from what Democrats want to see.

“After careful deliberation I have concluded that I cannot support Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court,” Mr. Schumer said, announcing his filibuster on the Senate floor.

The speech amounted to a challenge to Republicans, who may now have to decide whether to trigger the “nuclear option” and change the chamber’s rules to curtail the power of the filibuster.



Rape at Maryland high school stirs up debate on snactuary cities

Two suspects gained foothold as immigrants

Henry Sanchez-Milian was nabbed sneaking across the U.S. border in August, just 13 days shy of his 18th birthday.

Had he been 18, he might have been quickly deported back to Guatemala. But because he was a minor, he was given a court date, told to come back eventually, and released. He ended up in Montgomery County, Maryland, living with his father.

He now stands charged, along with 17-year-old Jose O. Montano, of raping a 14-year-old classmate at Rockville High School, in a case that is roiling the immigration debate and forcing a search for blame.

Some have pointed the finger at Montgomery County’s sanctuary policy, which generally protects illegal immigrants from being turned over to federal immigration authorities. Other analysts trace the situation back to President Obama’s lax enforcement policies, which allowed hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants to enter the U.S. and gain a foothold over the past four years.
Bill O'Reilly rips Main Stream


When politiians judge jurists

More than answers, senators questioning Gorsuch are searching for votes

I have spent this past week watching the Senate Judiciary Committee interrogating U.S. Circuit Judge Neil Gorsuch. Judge Gorsuch is President Trump’s nominee to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court. The vacancy was created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia more than 13 months ago. The Supreme Court is currently generally divided between four liberals and four conservatives. As a justice, Judge Gorsuch would probably break many ideological ties.

During the hearings, Republican senators are doing their best to associate Judge Gorsuch with the popular-in-death Justice Scalia, and Democratic senators are doing their best to try to pin down Judge Gorsuch by making him commit publicly to positions on hot-button issues, such as abortion, gun rights and the use of unrestricted money in political campaigns. Judge Gorsuch has accepted the Republican sobriquets and declined to answer Democratic inquiries with specificity. So, are the hearings of any real value?



Democrats' blinkered look at Gorsuch

Senators rely on progressive talking points rather than the judge’s record

There was a remarkable exchange between Sen. Dianne Feinstein, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Scalia on the Supreme Court, during Tuesday’s confirmation hearing.

In her opening statement, Mrs. Feinstein declared that senators’ job during the confirmation hearing was to determine whether Judge Gorsuch is a “reasonable, mainstream conservative.” It is highly ironic that Democratic senators have assumed the right to determine who is a mainstream conservative. But putting aside that irony, it is a sensible standard by which senators could evaluate whether Judge Gorsuch should be confirmed to the Supreme Court.

Of course, that is not actually the standard that Democratic senators are using. Judge Gorsuch clearly is a reasonable, mainstream conservative, and if that was the Democrats’ true standard, the public — and the judge — would not have to endure four days of political theater called a confirmation hearing.


"It is discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit."
-- Noel Coward
     (1899-1973) British playwright


Medal of Honor
Army Medal of Honor

The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States.
GeneTrerally presented to its recipient by the President of the United States of America in the name of Congress.
The first award of the Medal of Honor was made March 25, 1863 to Private JACOB PARROTT.The last award of the Medal of Honor was made September 15, 2011 to Sergeant DAKOTA MEYER.

Since then there have been:  • 3458 recipients of the Medal of Honor.
    • Today there are 85 Living Recipients of the Medal of Honor. 

Citation

Captain Humbert R. Versace distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism during the period of 29 October 1963 to 26 September 1965, while serving as S-2 Advisor, Military Assistance Advisory Group, Detachment 52, Ca Mau, Republic of Vietnam. While accompanying a Civilian Irregular Defense Group patrol engaged in combat operations in Thoi Binh District, An Xuyen Province, Captain Versace and the patrol came under sudden and intense mortar, automatic weapons, and small arms fire from elements of a heavily armed enemy battalion. As the battle raged, Captain Versace, although severely wounded in the knee and back by hostile fire, fought valiantly and continued to engage enemy targets. Weakened by his wounds and fatigued by the fierce firefight, Captain Versace stubbornly resisted capture by the over-powering Viet Cong force with the last full measure of his strength and ammunition. Taken prisoner by the Viet Cong, he exemplified the tenets of the Code of Conduct from the time he entered into Prisoner of War status. Captain Versace assumed command of his fellow American soldiers, scorned the enemy's exhaustive interrogation and indoctrination efforts, and made three unsuccessful attempts to escape, despite his weakened condition which was brought about by his wounds and the extreme privation and hardships he was forced to endure. During his captivity, Captain Versace was segregated in an isolated prisoner of war cage, manacled in irons for prolonged periods of time, and placed on extremely reduced ration. The enemy was unable to break his indomitable will, his faith in God, and his trust in the United States of America. Captain Versace, an American fighting man who epitomized the principles of his country and the Code of Conduct, was executed by the Viet Cong on 26 September 1965. Captain Versace's gallant actions in close contact with an enemy force and unyielding courage and bravery while a prisoner of war are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect the utmost credit upon himself and the United States Army.



3/14/20017

We Have Met the Enemy…

      
Geoff Metcalf
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
              
--Benjamin Franklin
“The American people must be willing to give up a degree of personal privacy in exchange for safety and security.”
              
--Louis Freeh
In the wake of the clamor over the most recent WikiLeaks data dump, ‘Vault 7’, ‘UMBRAGE’, et al, it should be noted this is not really anything new. What we are seeing here is simply the evolution of something that goes back to the late 50s (to the incomplete best knowledge I have).

It is kinda cool to finally see even the New York Times (www.nytimes.com/2017/03/09/opinion/the-truth-about-the-wikileaks-cia-cache.html?_r=0) acknowledging material I was writing about in 1998 (http://www.wnd.com/1998/04/6108/ ).

In April of 1998 I wrote “Privacy has become an anachronism.” I was commenting on “a massive system designed to intercept all your e-mail, fax traffic and more.” I was explaining ‘Echelon’, the illegitimate offspring of a UKUSA treaty (https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ukusa/ ) signed by the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Its purpose was, and is, to have a vast global intelligence monster, which allegedly shares common goals. The system was so “efficient” that reportedly National Security Agency folk from Fort Meade could work from Menwith Hill in England to intercept local communications without either nation having to burden themselves with the formality of seeking approval (a court order) or disclosing the operation. And this was all pre-9/11 and pre-the anti-constitutional ‘Patriot Act’.

It is illegal (without a Judge’s signed permission) for the United States to spy on its citizens … kinda. The laws have long been circumvented by a mutual pact among five nations. Under the terms of UKUSA agreement, Britain spies on Americans and America spies on British citizens, and then the two conspirators trade data. A classic technical finesse. It is legal, but the intent to evade the spirit is inescapable.

I often fictionalized the genesis of ‘Echelon’ as an informal meeting of a group of post war American and British intelligence types drinking in some remote rustic bar. An imagined CIA type complains to his MI6 buddy about the hassles of US laws preventing US intelligence from surveillance of bad guys, and the Brit echoes the same complaint.

“Hey wait a moment mate,” says Nigel, the make-believe MI6 guy, “I can spy on your guys and you can spy on our bad players…why don’t we just come up with a mechanism whereby we spy on your villains, you spy on our villains, and we just ‘share’ the intel?”

This system was called ECHELON, and has been kicking around in some form longer than most of you. The result of the UKUSA treaty signed by the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand was, and is, to have a vast global intelligence monster which allegedly shares common goals.

The London Telegraph reported in December of 1997 that the Civil liberties Committee of the European Parliament had officially confirmed the existence and purpose of ECHELON. “A global electronic spy network that can eavesdrop on every telephone, e-mail and telex communication around the world will be officially acknowledged for the first time in a European Commission report. …”

The report noted: “Within Europe all e-mail, telephone and fax communications are routinely intercepted by the United States National Security Agency, transferring all target information from the European mainland via the strategic hub of London, then by satellite to Fort Meade in Maryland via the crucial hub at Menwith Hill, in the North York moors in the UK.

“The ECHELON system forms part of the UKUSA system but unlike many of the electronic spy systems developed during the Cold War, ECHELON was designed primarily for non-military targets: governments, organizations and businesses in virtually every country.”

An interesting sidebar appeared in the International Herald Tribune under the headline, “Big Corporate Brother: It Knows More About You Than You Think.” The story details Acxiom Corp, which was a humongous information service hidden in the Ozark foothills. Twenty-four hours a day, Acxiom electronically gathered and sorts all kinds of data about 196 million Americans. Credit card transactions and magazine subscriptions, telephone numbers, real estate records, automotive data, hunting, business and fishing licenses, consumer surveys and demographic detail that would make a marketing department’s research manager salivate. This relatively new (legal) enterprise was known as “data warehousing” or “data-mining”, and it underscores the cruel reality that the fiction of personal privacy has become obsolete. Technology’s ability to collect and analyze data has made privacy a quaint albeit interesting dinosaur.

The Tribune reported that “Axciom can often determine whether an American owns a dog or cat, enjoys camping or gourmet cooking, reads the Bible or lots of other books. It can often pinpoint an American’s occupation, car and favorite vacations. By analyzing the equivalent of billions of pages of data, it often projects for its customers who should be offered a credit card or who is likely to buy a computer.”

Most of this information is from y 1998 piece.  Echelon has developed, matured, and morphed into a much more powerful hybrid. ‘Carnivore’ was software to help triage the cacophony of data. Vault 7 and ‘Umbrage’ are logical (some would argue “insidious”) growth.

    More to follow…