Is it Worse if Obama Knew or Didn’t Know About Merkel Spying?

Merkel and Obama

As is always the case with political scandals, we have two conflicting reports. On one hand, you have an anonymous National Security Agency official saying that US President Barack Obama was briefed on the spying efforts against 35 world leaders and allowed it to continue. The response from the NSA is that he was told a short time ago and had the operations ceased. Neither option is good for the President or the United States.

According to Fox News:

The Economic Times writes the “high-ranking” NSA official spoke to Bild am Sonntag on the condition of anonymity, saying the president, “not only did not stop the operation, but he also ordered it to continue.”

According to the Wall Street Journal:

The account suggests President Barack Obama went nearly five years without knowing his own spies were bugging the phones of world leaders. Officials said the NSA has so many eavesdropping operations under way that it wouldn’t have been practical to brief him on all of them.

If one were to apply logic, it could be assumed that operations that included illegal tapping the communications of important world leaders, including allies, would not be “lost in the mix” and avoid the President’s attention, in which case he has known about it for a while and allowed it to continue. There is, of course, the possibility that logic was defied once again in Washington DC, in which case he did not know that his spy agency was listening in on conversations (some of which could have been with him) and that he really has completely lost control of the people charged with keeping the country safe.

It’s a tough call as to which is worse. Is he devious or impotent? If he knew about it, he’s not the transparent president that his voters thought they were getting. If he didn’t know about it, he’s not the competent president that his voters thought they were getting. Either way, either his actions or his ignorance have truly cost the country a big chunk of the waning credibility that we have with the international community.

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Don’t Trust Iran

Ayatollah Khamenei

It’s a simple answer to an extremely complex situation. The world in general wants Iran to come to the table and truly negotiate to rejoin the world and cease their pursuit of nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, it is extremely unlikely that this can really happen.

While President Hassan Rouhani is making positive overtures towards the west, even accepting a call from US President Barack Obama, the real seat of power lies with the Ayatollah Khamenei. The man that continues to call America the “great satan” and Israel the “little satan” has been hoping for all of his 24 years as Supreme Leader of Iran to have access to nuclear weapons. As close as he finally is to realizing his dream, it is hard to believe that this could possibly end well.

Even in light of the positives associated with the new president, the Ayatollah was still not pleased with the situation with America.

“We are pessimistic about Americans and have no trust in them. The American government is untrustworthy, disloyal, considers itself superior and breaks its promises,” he said.

The upcoming talks are a way to try to make just enough promises in order to have sanctions lifted. That’s it. Regardless of what is promised, they will not abandon their nuclear weapon project. They will just do what they can to make it harder to find. They know that the United States will not act in a military manner and they know that it will be hard for Israel to act alone. Knowing this, they have nothing to lose. The worst that they can perceive happening if they go back on whatever agreement they make concerning these weapons is that the sanctions will be imposed again.

Here’s my commentary on the situation:

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Where Will Syria Sit in Obama’s Historical Legacy

Obama's Legacy

To date, President Barack Obama’s greatest foreign relations claims to fame are the killing of Osama bin Laden and winning the Nobel Peace Prize. The former was a great accomplishment, albeit a combined effort over the years by the intelligence communities of his and the former administration. The latter was earned before any action was actually taken by the president.

Since then, it has gone down hill. Gitmo is still around. Afghanistan is in worse shape than it was. Iraq is in worse shape than it was. Iran, North Korea, China, and Russia have relationships with the United States that are more strained than they’ve been in decades.

Syria was an opportunity for the President to leave a mark. It came at a time when the United States and the rest of the world is war-fatigued, making decisive action a challenge for the president who had drawn a red line. When that line was crossed, he was unable to react appropriately. The “appropriate” reaction is up for debate, but one thing is clear – his actions so far have been hesitant, have changed mercurially, and have yielded no results.

If he does attack, how will the world react? What will be the results in Syria? What will be the responses from Russia, Iran, and Syria itself?

If he does not attack, he will go down in history as drawing a line that a foreign country crossed, them backtracking on this line and failing to act decisively.

This is not a good situation for the president’s legacy, something that has been shown to be extremely important to him. His actions are those of a man that is trying to be more than just the first minority president. He wants to be remembered for being a great president. At the end of the, bin Laden and Obamacare may be his only claims to fame in a time when the administration has simply not been able to accomplish much at all.

With Obamacare on a trajectory course towards disaster, is it too early to say that this will be the worst two-term president in history? That’s always hard to say considering that we may have just had the worst one in the last administration, but Obama’s making a very convincing case.

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Obama Reversed Bush Administration Ban on NSA Domestic Spying Powers

Yes We Scan

Up is down and down is up if you’re watching closely enough to what has been happening at the NSA and with the Obama administration the last few years. The President that was supposed to make things more transparent, less paranoid, and better for the common American has been caught repeatedly doing things that would normally have been expected from his predecessor.

The most recent example is a big one. In 2008, the Bush administration imposed a ban on the NSA’s ability to intercept phone calls and emails from US citizens. In 2011, the Obama administration had the ban lifted.

According to the Washington Post:

What had not been previously acknowledged is that the court in 2008 imposed an explicit ban — at the government’s request — on those kinds of searches, that officials in 2011 got the court to lift the bar and that the search authority has been used.

This gave the NSA the loophole they needed to be able to read and store emails of US citizens without a warrant and technically without probable cause. Considering that over 250 million internet communications are intercepted yearly by the NSA under Section 702, it’s safe to assume that a good chunk come from law abiding citizens.

All of this was a secret, of course, and only recently came to light after material was declassified. The deliberate search of Americans’ communications and storage of these communications in databases should be concerning across the board.

It stays true to the administration’s unspoken perspective that national security at all costs trumps any concerns of privacy.

The worst part of all this is the way that it came into being. There was no public debate. There was no authorization given by Congress, no oversight other than by the NSA itself watching over its own doings through the lens of a self-watchdog.

“The government says, ‘We’re not targeting U.S. persons,’ ” said Gregory T. Nojeim, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology. “But then they never say, ‘We turn around and deliberately search for Americans’ records in what we took from the wire.’ That, to me, is not so different from targeting Americans at the outset.”

Speed is important when terrorist plots are unfolding. Nobody would question the need to maintain a heightened level of security in today’s world. However, there are ways that the government can expedite investigative practices without blanket permission given to an organization that has demonstrated a willingness to overstep their bounds.

This administration is not the transparency administration. The ban imposed by the Bush administration is by no means a sign that they did anything beneficial for the privacy of its citizens. Still, it’s a stark contrast between what we expected and what we actually received when we put Obama into office. He’s not just a continuation of the Bush administration. He’s much worse in many ways.

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Where’s the Outrage from the Left Over Obama’s Syrian Attack Efforts?

George Clooney Barack Obama

If George W. Bush, John McCain, or Mitt Romney were in office today and were considering the exact same actions, saying the exact same words, and proposing the exact same things that President Barack Obama is currently serving up to the American people, the response would be different.  There would be protests by the liberal citizens, unified outrage from democrats in Congress, and dozens of vocal celebrities from Hollywood using the opportunity to get press time and extend their left-wing anti-war credentials.

As Buzzfeed hypothesizes, there must have been a mass kidnapping of the “principled anti-war celebrities” because they seem to have gone missing on the war protest front lines ever since their Nobel Peace Prize winning President was put into office.

The truth is this: the left has always been masterful at spinning to whatever political ideology works best for them right now and in the near future. Most of them weren’t really against war before 2009. They were against George W. Bush. They aren’t pro-attack in 2013. They’re pro-Obama. They like the coolest US President ever and whether he’s prolonging the war in Afghanistan, defending drone strikes in Pakistan, promoting the safety of the NSA spying on US citizens, or pushing military action against a government in an effort to help rebels who generally hate America, Israel, Christians, and Jews, so be it.

He’s their guy. Why would they bother with silly concepts like consistency or moral dignity when their guy is the one wanting to pull the trigger?

Where has George Clooney been while all of this has been taking place?

What about Sean Penn? Nobody’s better at getting in front of a camera to voice outrage over something like war.

Ed Asner – at least he has a reason for Hollywood’s silence. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Asner said, “A lot of people don’t want to feel anti-black by being opposed to Obama.”

Susan Sarandon. Janeane Garofalo. Danny Glover. Silent, silent, and silent.

At least Rand Paul is consistent. Whether it was Obama or Romney in office right now, he would be saying the same thing in response to the attack:

Who is Saudi National Abdulrahman Ali Al-Harbi?

Janet Napolitano

No, the image above is not of Saudi national Abdulrahman Ali Al-Harbi. That’s Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of Homeland Security who evaded the question about the deportation of Abdulrahman Ali Al-Harbi with the skill and vigor of a well-trained politician at the highest levels of national security when asked about him by Congress. She’s also one person who knows exactly what many people want to know about the man who was reported as a person of interest in the Boston Marathon bombing.

Here’s a picture from the hospital in Boston of Abdulrahman Ali Al-Harbi:

Abdulrahman Ali Al-Harbi

There is not shortage of rumors regarding Al-Harbi. Here are some of them as they relate to him, including influences at the highest levels of both governments that may or may not have anything to do with Al-Harbi:

More information is supposed to be revealed by TheBlaze on Monday. We will include that and any other information we find on Al-Harbi on this post – updates coming daily until we know the truth. In the meantime, here’s Napolitano evading the question:

Here’s the letter from the House Committee on Homeland Security:

Letter from House Committee on Homeland Security to Napolitano on Al-Harbi

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Survey Paints Conservatives in a Conspiracy Loving Light

Moon Landing Fake

Either there is an exceptionally high percentage of conservatives who believe in outrageous conspiracy theories or even The Guardian and the folks at Public Policy Polling are skewing the numbers somehow. That’s the conclusion of their article whether they blatantly say it or not and it’s at least a little insulting to those of us who believe in more credible conspiracy theories.

The survey was carried out in order to explore how voters’ political beliefs impact on their willingness to embrace conspiracy theories – it did indeed find that the partisan divide that is blamed for many problems in Washington DC also extends to the world of paranoia, aliens and Sasquatch. For example, when it comes to thinking global warming is a hoax some 58% of Republicans agreed and 77% of Democrats disagreed. While 20% of Republicans believed Obama is the antichrist heralding the End Times, only 13% of independents did and just 6% of Democrats.

President Obama is not the antichrist despite many of his actions leading towards benefiting the side of evil. Unfortunately, they plugged in the credible theory of a new world order in with Bigfoot, Paul McCartney’s death, and shape-shifting lizards disguised as people in their little survey. This is a tactic of those who, intentionally or not, want to subvert the population from knowing the realities of such things. Some conspiracy theories simply hold more weight than others and to lump them all in together to make a political point is a silly move.

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Obama Closes Office Tasked with Closing Gitmo

Gitmo

Guantanamo Bay isn’t going to be closed down any time soon. The 2008 campaign promise that played a major role in helping the President win his first election is officially going to remain unfulfilled as the office created to close the military detention center has itself been shut down. The administration reassigned Daniel Fried, the special envoy for closing the prison. He will not be replaced.

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Dear Hillary: It Makes a Difference

Clinton What Difference Does it Make

It makes a huge difference, Madam.

When Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson attempted to find out why the American people were misled about the cause of the Benghazi attacks and why our response was nil at the time that it was happening, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went on the defensive. You know when someone starts a statement with the words, “With all respect…” that there will be no respect given in the words to follow. Clinton showed disrespect to the Senator, the congress, the American people, and most importantly the families of the victims when she launched into her tirade.

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Les Mis and the Republican Party

Les Mis

There was a really interesting piece by FoxNews’ James P. Pinkerton yesterday called, “How ‘Les Misérables’ can help lift Republicans out of their misery“. The premise was basic but brought forth through a complex string of thought that circled through historical references and reformist sentiment back around to how the recent movie and the book it’s based on hold inspiration to solve many of the problems of today’s republican party and the country in general. I’d like to continue this train of thought; please read his article first.

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