Wednesday March 22nd, 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
U.K. launches 'counterterrorism' probe

British police have launched a “full counterterrorism” probe after an assailant drove over pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before attacking a police officer outside Parliament — a rampage that ended with four dead, including the attacker.

British Police Commander B.J. Harrington said investigators and police are “open-minded” about the motives of Wednesday’s attack at British Parliament but are treating the event as a terrorist incident.

Speaking outside London’s Scotland Yard police headquarters just hours after the incident, Cmdr. Harrington appealed repeatedly for help from the public but would not confirm the number of casualties or discuss the identity of the attacker or attackers. “A full counter-terrorism investigation is under way,” he told the press.

UK Parliament Attacks Is Shot; Panic on Westminster Bridge

London was thrown into chaos and confusion on Wednesday, with Britain’s Parliament placed on lockdown and the prime minister evacuated, as security officers investigated “a terrorist incident” that left one woman dead and several other people injured.

Throughout a confusing afternoon, ambulances, emergency vehicles and heavily armed security officers thronged the area outside Parliament, as one of the busiest sections of London was cordoned off and evacuated. Prime Minister Theresa May was rushed into a vehicle and spirited back to her office, where her aides reported that she was safe.

Trump transition officials 'unmasked' by Intel community
            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**

Multiple Trump transition officials were “unmasked” by the intelligence community in what could be repeated violations of federal secrecy laws, the chairman of the House intelligence committee said Wednesday.

The information was all gathered legally, Rep. Devin Nunes said, but at some point multiple Trump officials’ names were attached to the information gathered by the intelligence community. That could be a violation of law, depending on the reasons for it.

“I have seen intelligence reports that clearly show the president elect and his team were at least monitored and disseminated in what appears to be intelligence reporting channels,” the congressman said.

He said there still is no evidence that Trump tower was wiretapped, as the president asserted. But the congressman said the new information, brought to him, does suggest that some in the intelligence community were following the activities of the Trump team closely.

Desperate Dems cling to discredited spy dossier to link Trump to Russians
           House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, center, flanked by Rep. Denny Heck, D-Wash., left, and Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., questions FBI Director James Comey on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, March 20, 2017, during the committee's hearing on allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

In trying to bolster a discredited dossier by a former British spy, Rep. Adam B. Schiff on Monday recounted the document’s telling of a supposed meeting between an informal Donald Trump adviser and a Russian oligarch.

The dossier from paid opposition researcher Christopher Steele said Carter Page, an energy investor who does business in Moscow, met with Igor Sechin, president of the state-owned Rosneft gas and oil company. Mr. Sechin offered Mr. Page a brokerage fee for a plan to sell a 19 percent stake of Rosneft to private investors, Mr. Steele wrote in October. Mr. Page was to persuade Mr. Trump to lift U.S. sanctions against Moscow.

At the hearing Monday of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Russian interference in the presidential election, Mr. Schiff embraced the dossier’s retelling as proof of Mr. Steele’s reliability.

Gorsuch's pro-illegal immigrant ruling roils confirmation debate

Judge Neil Gorsuch repeatedly defended an “undocumented immigrant” against the massive crush of the administrative state during his confirmation hearing Tuesday, picking a fascinating fight with his potential future colleagues on the Supreme Court.

The case he was referring to — a 2016 ruling from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in which he wrote both the opinion of the court and, strikingly, a separate concurring opinion — has become a major flash point in his quest to win a seat on the Supreme Court.

In the case, Judge Gorsuch ruled that he had to follow a 1984 Supreme Court precedent and show deference to the decisions of the agencies that make up the massive federal bureaucracy. But in his concurrence, he also warned that the justices might need to revisit their doctrine and rebel against the bureaucrats.

North Korea has no fear of U.S. sanctions move, will pursue nuclear arms

North Korea has nothing to fear from any U.S. move to broaden sanctions aimed at cutting it off from the global financial system and will pursue "acceleration" of its nuclear and missile programs, a North Korean envoy told Reuters on Tuesday.

This includes developing a "pre-emptive first strike capability" and an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM), said Choe Myong Nam, deputy ambassador at the North Korean mission to the United Nations in Geneva.

Reuters, quoting a senior U.S. official in Washington, reported on Monday that the Trump administration is considering sweeping sanctions as part of a broad review of measures to counter North Korea's nuclear and missile threat. (For Monday's story, click

Kim Jong Un humiliated as missile Explodes on launchepad day after boast North Korea 'ready for war'

The show of sabre-rattling comes just a fortnight after Kim launched mass missile test in show of defiance against US

KIM Jong-un suffered stage fright when his latest missile test exploded just seconds after launching.

The North Korean tyrant continued his show of sabre-rattling earlier this morning with the latest in a series of ballistic missile tests.

A North Korean missile test exploded seconds after launch, the US and South Korea confirmed. TV in the South played footage of a previous missile launch as the reports emerged today

Kim has been left humiliated after his latest missile test failed within seconds of launch.

Jeh Johnson says Trump has 'potential' to bve a great president

Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Wednesday said President Trump has the “potential” to be a great president.

“I actually believe that Donald Trump has the potential to be a great president in sort of a Nixon goes to China way or Reagan goes to the Soviet Union way if he can find a way to rein in some of the more unhealthy impulses, listen to his staff, bring on a full complement of political appointees who can help him govern,” Mr. Johnson said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“I’m very concerned about the tweets, obviously, and very concerned about the direction we’re taking in a lot of national security areas,” he said.

The pernicious no-debate filibuster

Republicans will come to regret preserving a tool of legislative gridlock

As habitually practiced since only the mid-1990s, by doing absolutely nothing, with almost no accountability accruing to them (using the “no-debate stealth filibuster”), the minority in the U.S. Senate can easily — and nearly always — either stop every legislative effort from even coming to the floor, or far more insidiously, sabotage it.

Unlike the 60-vote rule for debate cloture to get to a final vote (which gives the minority the power to extend and even perpetuate debate), this more recent application of the 60-vote rule gave the minority the power of continuous filibuster to prevent any consequential bill from being brought to the floor at all. Interesting. Two applications of the 60-vote rule: one to extend debate indefinitely, and one to prevent it completely. To logically defend one of these applications is to fundamentally eviscerate the other. Those who would ignore this glaring paradox and still herald the sacred principle of 60 votes in the Senate have the attending sacred responsibility to do away with the “sacrilegious” reconciliation procedure, since, once in a budget year, it circumvents the revered 60-vote requirement. Thus, these two core principles are antithetically juxtaposed.

Fake legal standing

Plaintiffs in Hawaii showed no injury from the Trump travel ban

The Hawaii federal court’s recent nationwide block of President Trump’s new executive order on immigration is troubling. The court’s decision turns on its head the important requirement that persons have legitimate “standing” to invoke the power of the federal courts.

The Constitution imposes a “standing” requirement that limits the power of federal courts and prevents them from interfering with the co-equal executive and legislative branches. As the Constitution says, a federal court is only allowed to decide actual “cases” or “controversies.”

Thus, those who want to bring a lawsuit in federal court must have suffered harm to a legally recognized interest. That harm must be concrete and particularized, not hypothetical, speculative or imagined. An injury is concrete and particularized if it exists in the real (concrete) world and affects the complaining party in a personal (particularized) way. Generalized grievances with government action do not meet this requirement.

"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. 


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.


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 ( acknowledging material I was writing about in 1998 ( ).

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 ( ) 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…