Domestic surveillance: It’s worse than you think

By Philip Bump, writing at The Atlantic Wire

Michele Catalano was looking for information online about pressure cookers. Her husband, in the same time frame, was Googling backpacks. Wednesday morning, six men from a joint terrorism task force showed up at their house to see if they were terrorists. Which prompts the question: How’d the government know what they were Googling?

Catalano (who is a professional writer) describes the tension of that visit.

michele-catalano-pj-media[T]hey were peppering my husband with questions. Where is he from? Where are his parents from? They asked about me, where was I, where do I work, where do my parents live. Do you have any bombs, they asked. Do you own a pressure cooker? My husband said no, but we have a rice cooker. Can you make a bomb with that? My husband said no, my wife uses it to make quinoa. What the hell is quinoa, they asked. …

Have you ever looked up how to make a pressure cooker bomb? My husband, ever the oppositional kind, asked them if they themselves weren’t curious as to how a pressure cooker bomb works, if they ever looked it up. Two of them admitted they did.

The men identified themselves as members of the “joint terrorism task force. ” The composition of such task forces depend on the region of the country, but, as we outlined after the Boston bombings, include a variety of federal agencies. Among them: the FBI and Homeland Security.

So, how did the government know what they were Googling?

Just a week ago, Congress voted down the Amash Amendment which would have reined in the NSA surveillance program.  As you probably know, the vote was extremely close.  My Congressman, Gregg Harper voted against it, and I’m none too happy about it.  What happened to the Catalanos could have happened to you, me, anyone.

Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR), the newly announced GOP candidate for Senate,  also voted “No.”  Cotton described meta data as nothing more than a five column Excel spreadsheet.

“It’s in a lock box. It can’t even be searched,” he said. (emphasis mine-ed.)

A lock box?  Isn’t that what they said about Social Security?  They were wrong about that, and I suppose we see now that Tom’s conclusion was also wrong.  Bad wrong.

Enough is enough.

It’s high time to take back our status as free citizens of the Republic.

Stand up, America!

Also blogging:  VodkaPundit

High Crimes and Misdemeanors

White House to contractors: Hold off on layoff warnings

By Jeanne Sahadi @CNNMoney,   September 28, 2012

The White House on Friday told government contractors worried about fiscal cliff spending cuts to hold off on warning employees about possible layoffs.

The government said it would cover legal costs if contractors are forced to slash their payrolls because of the looming $109 billion in automatic cuts next year and are alleged to have violated the WARN Act.

The federal WARN Act requires businesses with more than 100 employees to notify workers at least 60 days in advance of a mass layoff or plant closing. Some states require more notice.

“Any resulting employee compensation costs for WARN Act liability as determined by a court, as well as attorneys’ fees and other litigation costs (irrespective of litigation outcome) would qualify as allowable costs and be covered by the contracting agency, if otherwise reasonable and allocable,” the Office of Management and Budget said in its guidance.

Defense contractors in particular have warned for months that the upcoming sequester would cost jobs in their industry. And Lockheed Martin‘s CEO has said publicly he may be forced to issue notice this fall of possible layoffs in 2013.

If other contractors follow suit, there could be a rash of layoff notices spooking employees right before Election Day.

So, according to Obama, his OMB is not subject to the Federal WARN Act.  Last week, also according to Obama, we learned that his Secretary of HHS is not subject to obeying the Federal Hatch Act.

Instead of a nation of laws, this nation, under Obama, risks becoming a nation of pay-to-play.

It is time for Congress to their duty and draft Articles of Impeachment right away.   This unlawful pattern of behavior endangers the Republic, and must not be allowed to stand.

Also at  Jeremy Herb, The Hill, and Battleground Watch

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