Problem solved!!! NEXXXXXXT!
(H/T Jan Anderson Moury)
*(cross-posted from Assoluta Tranquillita - because I had to share!)*
The Marston Chronicles has completed its analysis for the 2012 House and Senate Races. For a look at what things will be like in the 2012 House elections, see 2012 House Target Districts. Given the big gains in 2010, the Republicans will be hard put to make any real gains and will need to defend their current new seats. Even though there are far more Democrat Senate seats up in 2012 than Republican ones, most of those Democrat seats are in solid blue states. Still we project that the Republicans could pick up 4 seats in Montana, Virginia, Nebraska and Missouri with a total toss-up in Florida. See 2012 Senate Target Races for details.
In the late 1980s, one of us, Richard Vedder, and Lowell Gallaway of Ohio University co-authored a often-cited research paper for the congressional Joint Economic Committee (known as the $1.58 study) that found that every new dollar of new taxes led to more than one dollar of new spending by Congress. Subsequent revisions of the study over the next decade found similar results.
We've updated the research. Using standard statistical analyses that introduce variables to control for business-cycle fluctuations, wars and inflation, we found that over the entire post World War II era through 2009 each dollar of new tax revenue was associated with $1.17 of new spending. Politicians spend the money as fast as it comes in—and a little bit more.
We also looked at different time periods (e.g., 1947-2009 vs. 1959-2009), different financial data (fiscal year federal budget data, as well as calendar year National Income and Product Account data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis), different lag structures (e.g., relating taxes one year to spending change the following year to allow for the time it takes bureaucracies to spend money), different control variables, etc. The alternative models produce different estimates of the tax-spend relationship—between $1.05 and $1.81. But no matter how we configured the data and no matter what variables we examined, higher tax collections never resulted in less spending.
The number of federal workers making more than $150,000 a year has grown ten-fold in the past five years and doubled since Mr. Obama took office, according to a USA Today study earlier this month. Since 2000, federal pay and benefits have increased 3 percent annually above inflation, compared with 0.8 percent for private sector workers, according to data cited by the newspaper.
This will save $2 billion over the remainder of this fiscal year, $28 billion in cumulative savings over the next five years, and more than $60 billion over the next 10 years. The freeze will apply to all civilian federal employees, including those in various alternative pay plans and those working at the Department of Defense – but not military personnel.
If Congress endorses the idea, the freeze would save $2 billion in 2011 and roughly $6 billion a year over the next 10 years – a drop in the bucket of the federal budget deficit, which is expected to top $1 trillion this year and next year....
In his press conference, Obama claimed that the move would save the government $28 billion over five years. Taking that number at face value, that would represent a sixth-tenths of one percent reduction in the projected $4.52 trillion deficit over that same period (2011 through 2015). It would be the equivalent of a person who expects to rack up $10,000 of of credit card debt over the next five years touting the fact that he's found a way to reduce his expenses by $60 over that time period. In football terms, it would be like a kickoff return that gains about a half of a yard.
Freezing non-defense discretionary spending at current levels would therefore only produce a total savings of $35 billion in 2015. That year, the budget deficit is expected to be around $760 billion. Saving $35 billion would solve less than 5 percent of the problem.(End side note)
First and foremost, what steps were taken to stop Wikileaks director Julian Assange from distributing this highly sensitive classified material especially after he had already published material not once but twice in the previous months? Assange is not a “journalist,” any more than the “editor” of al Qaeda’s new English-language magazine Inspire is a “journalist.” He is an anti-American operative with blood on his hands. His past posting of classified documents revealed the identity of more than 100 Afghan sources to the Taliban. Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?
What if any diplomatic pressure was brought to bear on NATO, EU, and other allies to disrupt Wikileaks’ technical infrastructure? Did we use all the cyber tools at our disposal to permanently dismantle Wikileaks? Were individuals working for Wikileaks on these document leaks investigated? Shouldn’t they at least have had their financial assets frozen just as we do to individuals who provide material support for terrorist organizations?
Most importantly, serious questions must also be asked of the U.S. intelligence system. How was it possible that a 22-year-old Private First Class could get unrestricted access to so much highly sensitive information? And how was it possible that he could copy and distribute these files without anyone noticing that security was compromised?
The White House has now issued orders to federal departments and agencies asking them to take immediate steps to ensure that no more leaks like this happen again. It’s of course important that we do all we can to prevent similar massive document leaks in the future. But why did the White House not publish these orders after the first leak back in July? What explains this strange lack of urgency on their part?
Congressional Democrats, under pressure from their liberal wing, are preparing to put up a fight over tax relief for wealthier Americans before they agree to any compromise with Republicans that could extend the Bush-era breaks.
The focal point on taxes will be breaking the impasse between Republicans who want all the Bush-era tax cuts to be made permanent and Democrats who, like Mr. Obama, want to make them permanent only for families with income under $250,000. Although both sides are digging in now, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D., N.D.) said the compromise path was clear.
"What's likely to happen is there will be an extension of the tax cuts for everybody for a period of time," Mr. Dorgan said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."
President Obama plans to announce a two-year pay freeze for civilian federal workers later Monday morning in his latest move intended to demonstrate concern over sky-high deficit spending.
The president’s proposal will effectively wipe out plans for a 1.4 percent across-the-board raise in 2011 for 2.1 million civilian federal government employees, including those working at the Defense Department, but the freeze would not affect the nation’s uniformed military personnel. The president has frozen the salaries of his own top White House staff members since taking office 22 months ago.
The number of federal workers making more than $150,000 a year has grown ten-fold in the past five years and doubled since Mr. Obama took office, according to a USA Today study earlier this month. Since 2000, federal pay and benefits have increased 3 percent annually above inflation, compared with 0.8 percent for private sector workers, according to data cited by the newspaper.
The freeze would not apply to military personnel, but would apply to all civilian federal employees, including those in various alternative pay plans and those working at the Department of Defense.
Federal workers shouldn't feel singled out: The White House says more tough choices are on the way.
"This freeze is not to punish federal workers or to disrespect the work that they do," the White House said in a statement. "It is the first of many actions we will take in the upcoming budget to put our nation on sound fiscal footing -- which will ask for some sacrifice from us all."
This will of course be very popular politically, since non-military federal employees are widely believed to be overpaid and underworked. And, frankly, given that we have near-zero inflation, there shouldn’t be any cost of living hikes, anyway.
Indeed, it’s not clear how this proposal actually saves any money. It’s not like this would roll back already-enacted pay increases. Presumably, this is “saving” in the federal government sense of not getting a spending hike that you had previously mentioned wanting to have.
"..... On the other hand, it is a glimpse into how Obama plans to react to the Republican victory. He'll use, small, symbolic actions such as this to say he's being bipartisan and is aware of public anger over the growth of the federal government with out making any real concessions on anything that actually matters. This also is a way of stealing the thunder of Republicans, who were planning on pushing this idea.
Republicans, it should be said, have been calling for a federal hiring freeeze in addition to a pay freeze, and there's no indication from the news reports that Obama will get behind that idea."
As I wrote last week upon my return to the Office of Management and Budget, the fiscal and economic situation we face today is very different than the projected surpluses we left behind the last time I served as OMB Director in the 1990's. After years of fiscal irresponsibility, President Obama inherited a $1.3 trillion projected deficit and the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
The President and his economic team worked quickly to address the crisis, and we are seeing our economy recover – albeit more slowly than anyone would like. Families and businesses are still hurting, and too many who want to work are not able to find a job. Our top priority must be to do what we can to help boost economic growth and spur private sector job creation.
But to lay the foundation for long-term economic growth and to make our nation competitive for years to come, we must put the United States back on a sustainable fiscal course. And that’s going to require some tough choices.
Today, the President made one of those: proposing a two-year pay freeze for all civilian federal workers. This will save $2 billion over the remainder of this fiscal year, $28 billion in cumulative savings over the next five years, and more than $60 billion over the next 10 years. The freeze will apply to all civilian federal employees, including those in various alternative pay plans and those working at the Department of Defense – but not military personnel.
We are announcing this move today because tomorrow is the legal deadline to submit to Congress the President’s decision about locality pay, a key component of overall federal worker pay. In addition, we are in the midst of the 2012 budget process, and need to make a decision about pay to develop the 2012 budget. Simply, the time to decide about pay for those two years is now.
Make no mistake: this decision was not made lightly.
Like everyone honored to serve in the White House or the Cabinet, we work with extraordinarily talented public servants every day. Throughout my career in the Congress, at the State department, and here at OMB, I have met federal workers who have sacrificed more lucrative jobs and hours with their families - -and, in some cases, put their lives in harm’s way -- in order to serve their fellow Americans. Indeed, anyone who has flown safely, enjoyed our national parks, received a Pell grant to go to college, or relied on a Social Security check to retire in dignity has benefited from the service of federal workers.
This pay freeze is not a reflection on their fine work. It is a reflection of the fiscal reality that we face: just as families and businesses across the nation have tightened their belts, so must the federal government.
Already, the Administration has taken a number of steps in this regard as part of its Accountable Government Initiative from the President freezing the salaries for all senior White House officials and other top political appointees upon taking office to his efforts to get rid of $8 billion of excess federal real property over the next two years, reduce improper payments by $50 billion by the end of 2012, and freeze non-security spending for three years – which will bring non-security discretionary spending to its lowest level as a share of the economy in 50 years.
Moving forward, we will need to make many more tough choices to construct a plan to pay down these deficits and put our nation on sound fiscal footing. Later this week, the Fiscal Commission will release its report laying out its approach, and I look forward to working with people from across the spectrum on this challenge in the weeks to come.
President Barack Obama on Monday proposed a largely symbolic freeze on pay for civilian federal workers for the next two years, staking out a moderate position in the looming debate over the budget deficit and the proper size of government.
If Congress endorses the idea, the freeze would save $2 billion in 2011 and roughly $6 billion a year over the next 10 years – a drop in the bucket of the federal budget deficit, which is expected to top $1 trillion this year and next year. With the president’s bipartisan deficit commission due to report this week as the number of deficit-reduction proposals multiply, Congress will debate both pay cuts and a reduction in the number of government employees and federal contractors.
"I am encouraged by President Obama's proposal to freeze non-military federal pay for the next two years. This past May, House Republicans-prompted by YouCut voters-offered the very same spending-cut proposal on the floor of the House. The YouCut proposal was one of many specific spending reductions offered by House Republicans over the past two years, and we are pleased that President Obama appears ready to join our efforts. As the recent election made clear, Americans are fed up with a government that spends too much, borrows too much and grows too much. "Many federal employees do important work, but this is exactly the kind of savings measure we have to make in order to begin to restore some fiscal sanity in America, especially considering recent reports of federal salaries significantly outpacing private-sector salaries. With so many Americans tightening their belts, Washington must do the same. "I hope that Democrats who are concerned about the debt and America's dire long-term financial health will join House Republicans in embracing President Obama's proposal and other YouCuts going forward. We have to work together if we want to transform the culture of spending in Washington into one of savings."
YouCut – a first-of-its-kind project - is designed to defeat the permissive culture of runaway spending in Congress. It allows you to vote, both online and on your cell phone, on spending cuts that you want to see the House enact. Each week, we will take the winning item and offer it to the full House for an up-or-down vote, so that you can see where your representative stands on your priorities. Vote on this page today for your priorities and together we can begin to change Washington's culture of spending into a culture of savings.
Two separate explosions killed a nuclear scientist and injured another in the Iranian capital Monday morning, official news outlets reported.
Both scholars' wives and a driver were also injured in the attacks, according to the news agencies. The slain scientist, Majid Shahriari, was a member of the nuclear engineering team at the Shahid Behesti university in Tehran, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency, or IRNA.
For once, reactions from much of the right and left blogospheres appear to be in the same ball park — that much of what has been reported from the leaks so far is either stuff everyone pretty much already knew, or else was secret for a good reason. But today’s “even dumber than Jim Holt” award goes to Donald Douglas of Right Wing News, who writes,
I continue to be amazed at the fawning credibility Assange gets on the progressive left. Anything that tears down the military — even putting at risk the lives of Americans and our allies — is totally cool with these freaks. But maybe something good will come of all this, in the end.
And I thought, who on the progressive left is “fawning” over this stuff? And it turns out the link goes to Charli Carpenter of Lawyers, Guns and Money, who wrote,
Wow. Iran’s neighbors are threatened by its rise! Many governments think Pakistan may not be able to secure its nuclear arsenal! The US attempts to use its leverage with its allies to achieve its political objectives! China has engaged in a cyber-campaign against Google and other American companies! Yemen approves of US’ targeted killings on its soil (but claims otherwise to quell domestic opposition)! Also, governments routinely spy on United Nations officials!
[cross-posted at Duck of Minerva]
Yes, it’s true. Donald Douglas is too stupid to recognize obvious sarcasm, mistaking it for “fawning.” Like I said, even dumber than Jim Holt.
This isn’t the first time that a Republican has gone after a person brave enough to show the world what the United States government is really all about. It happened almost 40 years ago during the Vietnam War when the government tried to discredit a hero named Daniel Ellsberg. At that time, the government was under a Republican Administration (Pres. “Tricky Dick” Nixon). It will be interesting to see how far the current “liberal” Obama Democratic Administration will try to discredit, or even destroy, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Nevertheless, letting taxpayers and citizens of the “Land of the Free” know what is done in their name is just too much for folks like the execrable Long Island Republican Peter King:
“This is worse even than a physical attack on Americans, it’s worse than a military attack”
Yeah, you betcha’ Petey, knowledge is after all, power.
It's unrealistic to imagine other states not having this information, so the anger sounds overdone. Also, is it a surprise to anyone that US policies in Afghanistan and Pakistan are dysfunctional or that the US and Middle East partners want Iran's nuclear program to be terminated? Part of the problem may also be related to the lack of transparency in politics, which is not just a US issue. The decisions that our political leaders make could definitely benefit from the public being made more aware of what is going on with tax dollars.
If politicians are ready to ask individuals to justify every last cent received by the meager social welfare system in the US, it's fair to ask the same from the government. The information may make many uncomfortable, but that is no reason to keep everyone in the dark.
At least one progressive blogger, while generally supportive of Wikileak's actions, sees some long term damage from this. However, I'm of the belief that if this is the price we must pay to show the government that acting as if no one has a right to privacy is a double-edged sword that can hurt them as well, we might as well pay it now. If the government thinks it will damage their interests to have their corrupt actions known, perhaps they might not want to participate in them.
There's a lot of chatter, for obvious reasons, about the Wikileaks document dump and whether or not it's a dangerous and despicable act. My personal feeling is that any allegedly democratic government that is so hubristic that it will lie blatantly to the entire world in order to invade a country it has long wanted to invade probably needs a self-correcting mechanism. There are times when it's necessary that the powerful be shown that there are checks on its behavior, particularly when the systems normally designed to do that are breaking down. Now is one of those times.
As this information becomes public, and as the U.S. Government continues to scramble to mitigate what the White House is calling today a "reckless and dangerous" leak, condemning it "in the strongest terms" as an alleged threat to national security, it's worth keeping in mind, for valuable perspective, what the 1970s legendary "Pentagon Papers" whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg wrote in an op/ed for The BRAD BLOG in early 2008...Many, if not most, covert operations deserve to be disclosed by a free press. They are often covert not only because they are illegal but because they are wildly ill-conceived and reckless. "Sensitive" and "covert" are often synonyms for "half-assed," "idiotic," and "dangerous to national security," as well as "criminal."
Finally, having just worked my way through a negotiation simulation, I am kind of fascinated by the idea of “open” diplomatic communications. Diplomats lie to each other habitually, and also lie to their (portions of) their home governments. Nobody takes this too seriously, because no one expects diplomats to tell the truth. If Wikileaks and organizations of its ilk are really able to peel the layers of secrecy off the diplomatic world, it could potentially have far ranging effects on how nations relate to one another. Or maybe not.
We're supposed to worry that this massive leak will impede the ability of the US government to connive in secret behind everyone's back? Well, after the past 10 years in particular, who in the world honestly thinks that would be a bad thing?
Maybe if Barack Obama had changed that policy one iota, as his entire campaign was implicitly and explicitly based upon doing, folks might feel a little differently. But as things stand today? Not so much.
I generally sense that people, overall, will be more hostile towards wikileaks after this dump. The previous dumps seemed to corroborate competing stories. This dump will just be viewed by many as an attempt to hurt the United States. I have a hard time getting worked up about it- a government that views none of my personal correspondence as confidential really can’t bitch when this sort of thing happens.
The letter from State Department legal adviser Harold Koh was released as U.S. diplomats around the world are scrambling to warn foreign governments about what might be in the secret documents that are believed to contain highly sensitive assessments about world leaders, their policies and America's attempts to lobby them.
In the letter, Koh said the publication of some 250,000 secret diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks, which is expected on Sunday, will "place at risk the lives of countless innocent individuals," "place at risk on-going military operations," and "place at risk on-going cooperation between countries."
"They were provided in violation of U.S. law and without regard for the grave consequences of this action," he said. Koh said WikiLeaks should not publish the documents, return them to the U.S. government and destroy any copies it may have in its possession or in computer databases.
The State Department said Koh's message was a response to a letter received on Friday by the U.S. ambassador to Britain, Louis Susman, from Assange and his lawyer, Jennifer Robinson. The department said that letter asked for information "regarding individuals who may be 'at significant risk of harm' because of" the release of the documents.
"Despite your stated desire to protect those lives, you have done the opposite and endangered the lives of countless individuals," Koh wrote in reply. "You have undermined your stated objective by disseminating this material widely, without redaction, and without regard to the security and sanctity of the lives your actions endanger."
He said the U.S government would not deal with WikiLeaks at all in determining what may or may not released.
"We will not engage in a negotiation regarding the further release or dissemination of illegally obtained U.S. government classified materials," wrote Koh, who is considered to be one of the world's top experts in international law and was reportedly considered for a seat on the Supreme Court.
WikiLeaks is expected to post the documents online on Sunday and Koh said the U.S. government had been told that The New York Times, the British newspaper the Guardian and the German news magazine Der Spiegel had prior access to them.
The release of Koh's letter comes as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other top U.S. officials are reaching out to numerous countries about the expected WikiLeaks release.
Clinton spoke to leaders in China, Germany, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Britain, France and Afghanistan on Friday, according to State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley. Canada, Denmark, Norway and Poland have also been warned.
The cables are thought to include candid assessments of foreign leaders and governments and could erode trust in the U.S. as a diplomatic partner.
The text of the White House press secretary's statement on the WikiLeaks release:
We anticipate the release of what are claimed to be several hundred thousand classified State Department cables on Sunday night that detail private diplomatic discussions with foreign governments.
By its very nature, field reporting to Washington is candid and often incomplete information. It is not an expression of policy, nor does it always shape final policy decisions.
Nevertheless, these cables could compromise private discussions with foreign governments and opposition leaders, and when the substance of private conversations is printed on the front pages of newspapers across the world, it can deeply impact not only US foreign policy interests, but those of our allies and friends around the world.
To be clear - such disclosures put at risk our diplomats, intelligence professionals and people around the world who come to the United States for assistance in promoting democracy and open government. These documents also may include named individuals who in many cases live and work under oppressive regimes and who are trying to create more open and free societies.
President Obama supports responsible, accountable, and open government at home and around the world, but this reckless and dangerous action runs counter to that goal. By releasing stolen and classified documents, Wikileaks has put at risk not only the cause of human rights but also the lives and work of these individuals. We condemn in the strongest terms the unauthorized disclosure of classified documents and sensitive national security information.
Wikileaks began on Sunday November 28th publishing 251,287 leaked United States embassy cables, the largest set of confidential documents ever to be released into the public domain. The documents will give people around the world an unprecedented insight into US Government foreign activities.
The cables, which date from 1966 up until the end of February this year, contain confidential communications between 274 embassies in countries throughout the world and the State Department in Washington DC. 15,652 of the cables are classified Secret.
The embassy cables will be released in stages over the next few months. The subject matter of these cables is of such importance, and the geographical spread so broad, that to do otherwise would not do this material justice.
The cables show the extent of US spying on its allies and the UN; turning a blind eye to corruption and human rights abuse in "client states"; backroom deals with supposedly neutral countries; lobbying for US corporations; and the measures US diplomats take to advance those who have access to them.
This document release reveals the contradictions between the US’s public persona and what it says behind closed doors – and shows that if citizens in a democracy want their governments to reflect their wishes, they should ask to see what’s going on behind the scenes.
Every American schoolchild is taught that George Washington – the country’s first President – could not tell a lie. If the administrations of his successors lived up to the same principle, today’s document flood would be a mere embarrassment. Instead, the US Government has been warning governments -- even the most corrupt -- around the world about the coming leaks and is bracing itself for the exposures.
The full set consists of 251,287 documents, comprising 261,276,536 words (seven times the size of "The Iraq War Logs", the world's previously largest classified information release).
The cables cover from 28th December 1966 to 28th February 2010 and originate from 274 embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions.
Update: One of the questions before the leak was whether there’d be any real news here or whether, like the war leaks, it’d fall into the “confirmation of stuff most people suspected anyway” category. Here’s an example of real news and an illustration of my point about how the leak will make war more, not less, likely. Given the fragility of the situation in North Korea, is now the moment to make bombshell public accusations against them?
Other cables reveal King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia repeatedly urging the U.S. to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities, which does fall into the “stuff everyone suspected” category but isn’t going to help Sunni/Shiite relations, especially if things come to a head in Lebanon over the findings of the Hariri tribunal. Among others urging action: Jordan, Bahrain, and Abu Dhabi.
Manning should never see the outside of a federal penitentiary, but how about Wikileaks and the newspapers that have published the diplomatic cables? From a quick look, it appears to me that the criminal statute most likely to apply is 18 U.S.C. Sec. 793(e), which provides:Do the diplomatic cables "relate to the national defense"? Some of them certainly seem to. So a criminal prosecution of those involved in the leaks who are within federal jurisdiction (e.g., the New York Times) may be possible.
Whoever having unauthorized possession of, access to, or control over any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note relating to the national defense, or information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted, or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it...Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.
And I will also note that, while I will happily ding President Obama for both his wrong actions and for not living up to his own side’s previously-established standards of behavior, this line of attack by Wikileaks is made up of pure garbage designed to weaken both my country and my government. The President needs his ambassadors to know what he wants; they need to be able to tell him what he can get. So it’s stupid to not be blunt and forthright in private about matters that require a softer public touch. It’s even more stupid for Wikileaks to keep publicly attacking the USA like this.
Because when the backlash comes, it’s going to splatter.
Two questions and then I'll leave you to your handwringing about how all secrets should come out. That if you don't have anything to hide, blah, blah blah.
Do you support closing GITMO? Well, Wikileaks has screwed that up:
Bargaining to empty the Guantánamo Bay prison: When American diplomats pressed other countries to resettle detainees, they became reluctant players in a State Department version of “Let’s Make a Deal.” Slovenia was told to take a prisoner if it wanted to meet with President Obama, while the island nation of Kiribati was offered incentives worth millions of dollars to take in a group of detainees, cables from diplomats recounted. The Americans, meanwhile, suggested that accepting more prisoners would be “a low-cost way for Belgium to attain prominence in Europe.”
And how about the goal of keeping fissile material out of rogue hands? Well, Wikileaks screwed that up too:
A dangerous standoff with Pakistan over nuclear fuel: Since 2007, the United States has mounted a highly secret effort, so far unsuccessful, to remove from a Pakistani research reactor highly enriched uranium that American officials fear could be diverted for use in an illicit nuclear device. In May 2009, Ambassador Anne W. Patterson reported that Pakistan was refusing to schedule a visit by American technical experts because, as a Pakistani official said, “if the local media got word of the fuel removal, ‘they certainly would portray it as the United States taking Pakistan’s nuclear weapons,’ he argued.”
It's fine and well to sit on your high horse and talk *tsk* *tsk* about bribery and ethics and morals but the disclosure of these cables will harm your interests. Let me put it this way: do you want to see the US invade Yemen? How can the disclosure of President Saleh of Yemen lying to his own people (and laughing about it) do us any good? How will it do the cause of peace any good at all when it will more than likely destabilize Yemen further and subsequently add momentum to the "do something crowd" in the Beltway? Do you think a Yemen post-Saleh will be less inclined to radical Islam? Do you honestly think these disclosures are going to stop that? This is just one example.
"Leaking the material is deplorable," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told Fox News' Chris Wallace Sunday. "I agree with the Pentagon's assessment that the people at WikiLeaks could have blood on their hands."
"I don't know what the cables may say but it's just a -- we're at war. I mean the world is getting dangerous by the day and the people who do this are really low on the food chain as far as I'm concerned. If you can prosecute them, let's try."
Sen. Clair McCaskill (D-MO) agreed. "Lindsey's right," she said. "The people who are leaking these documents need to a gut check about their patriotism and I think they're enjoying the attention they're getting but, frankly, it's coming at a very high price in terms of protecting our men and women in uniform."
"I hope that we can figure out where this is coming from and go after them with the force of law," McCaskill said.
The FBI thwarted an attempted terrorist bombing in Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square before the city's annual tree-lighting Friday night, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Oregon.
A Corvallis man, thinking he was going to ignite a bomb, drove a van to the corner of the square at Southwest Yamhill Street and Sixth Avenue and attempted to detonate it.
However, the supposed explosive was a dummy that FBI operatives supplied to him, according to an affidavit in support of a criminal complaint signed Friday night by U.S. Magistrate Judge John V. Acosta.
So what is the proof of this charge? It seems to have something to do with Republicans criticizing quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve. And opposing federal spending. And, according to Benen, creating "massive economic uncertainty by vowing to gut the national health care system."
One is tempted to respond that it is $1 trillion in new debt, the prospect of higher taxes and a complicated, disruptive health-reform law that have created "massive economic uncertainty." For the purposes of this argument, however, it is sufficient to say that all these economic policy debates have two sides.
Yet this is precisely what the sabotage theorists must deny. They must assert that the case for liberal policies is so self-evident that all opposition is malevolent. But given the recent record of liberal economics, policies that seem self-evident to them now seem questionable to many. Objective conditions call for alternatives. And Republicans are advocating the conservative alternatives - monetary restraint, lower spending, lower taxes - they have embraced for 30 years.
When a site has no tracker, carries no torrents, lists no copyright works unless someone searches for them and responds just like Google, accusing it of infringement becomes somewhat of a minefield – unless you’re ICE Homeland Security Investigations that is.
Aside from the fact that domains are being seized seemingly at will, there is a very serious problem with the action against Torrent-Finder. Not only does the site not host or even link to any torrents whatsoever, it actually only returns searches through embedded iframes which display other sites that are not under the control of the Torrent-Finder owner.
Torrent-Finder remains operational through another URL, Torrent-Finder.info, so feel free to check it out for yourself. The layouts of the sites it searches are clearly visible in the results shown.
As of its last update, Torrentfreak counted 76 domains shut down this week.
Homeland Security's ability to shut down sites without a court order evidently comes from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a Clinton-era law that allows Web sites to be closed on the basis of a copyright complaint. Critics have long assailed the DMCA for being too broad, as complainants don't need to prove copyright infringement before a site can be taken down.
News of the shutdowns has some observers wondering whether the US really needs COICA, the anti-counterfeiting bill that passed through a Senate committee with unanimous approval last week. That bill would allow the federal government to block access to Web sites that attorneys general deem to have infringed on copyright.
"Domain seizures coming under the much debated ‘censorship bill’ COICA? Who needs it?" quips Torrentfreak.
However, COICA would allow the government to block access to Web sites located anywhere in the world, while Homeland Security's take-downs are limited to servers inside the United States. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon said he would place a hold on COICA, effectively killing the bill at least until the new congressional session next year.
The new seizures also come as a new bill, the Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act, is making its way through Congress. The bill, which was approved by a Senate committee last week, would allow the government to shut down sites that are “dedicated to infringing activities.”
Critics have said the law is too broad, and could affect sites that have nothing to do with file-sharing; the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an online civil liberties group, has called it “an Internet censorship bill.” Waleed A. GadElKareem, who operated Torrent Finder from Egypt, said his site was shut down on Thursday without any notice.
“My Web site does not even host any torrents or direct-link to them,” Mr. GadElKareem wrote in an e-mail, adding that he only links to other sites. “I am sure something is wrong!”
He added that his server was up and running at a different address.
First, it’s not at all clear under what authority ICE can seize domain names. Aside from the .gov and .mil domains, the US Federal Government does not regulate the Internet; that’s the province of ICANN, a supposedly independent international body.
Second, if a Federal agency has this authority, one would think it would be Justice, not Homeland Security — let alone the wing whose job is to stop illegal aliens from entering the country. The theory under which illegal movie downloads constitute a threat to the homeland is one I’d like to see.