The sequester, furloughs and shutdowns: let people see what government really means

Matthew Cooper believes that if there’s one silver lining to be found in the “buffoonery” of the sequester, it’s that at least it will be a teachable moment for the public:

But if agencies and departments can’t or won’t juggle their books, hey, let people see what government really means. …There’s something sobering about aircraft carriers that won’t sail and forest rangers who won’t be paid to protect. The last time I can think of such an educational moment was not the short-lived government shutdown on the ’90s, but the Oklahoma City bombing. Who died in the blast? IRS officials, Secret Service agents, General Services Administration workers. President Clinton offered a reflection on the victims, “many there who served the rest of us, who worked to help the elderly and the disabled, who worked to support our farmers and our veterans, who worked to enforce our laws and to protect us. Let us say clearly, they served us well, and we are grateful,” he said.

In 2001, looking back on the bombing, Clinton said: “And I had, like every politician, on occasion, gotten upset by some example of government waste or something the way we all do, and referred derisively to government bureaucrats. And I promised myself that I would never use those two words together for the rest of my life. I would treat those people who serve our country with respect, whether they’re in uniform, in law enforcement, firefighter, nurses, any other things.” I’m not comparing the tragedy of Oklahoma City to sequestration. One is evil; the other buffoonery. But they each have the effect of making you realize what government employees do.

Some examples of what’s at stake: 

Few corners of the federal government directly touch the public as do the 398 parks, monuments and historic sites, which draw 280 million visits a year. The system would feel the effects immediately of a $110 million slash should budget cuts take effect March 1 — from a three-week delay of Yellowstone’s spring opening to save money on snow plowing, to shuttered campgrounds and visitor centers along the Blue Ridge Parkway. [..] The prospect of dirtier restrooms, sporadic grass mowing and litter pickup, and a shortage of rangers to answer questions and patrol has set off a furious campaign by a coalition of park advocates, tourism officials and businesses from to Maine to Wyoming. Their plea: The reductions would not just set back conservation efforts but also undermine local economies around the parks that rely on tourism.

The Defense Department will notify Congress as early as Wednesday of plans to furlough almost 800,000 civilian employees starting in April if automatic budget cuts take effect, according to a defense official. [...] By law, however, DoD must give lawmakers 45 days notice of employee furloughs. If the spending cuts, formally known as sequestration, begin as scheduled March 1, the Pentagon will likely send most civilians home for one day per week for up to 22 weeks through the end of the fiscal year in September, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told a House committee last week. The furloughs would save DoD about $5 billion out of the $46 billion total it will have to cut under sequestration, Carter said. Military personnel would be exempt.

Jessica Wright, acting Defense undersecretary for personnel and readiness, said that while the impact of sequestration on “military personnel would be devastating, the impact on civilians is catastrophic.” [...] “The first-, second- and third-order effect will be felt in local commands and communities. It’s not a Beltway phenomenon,” she said, noting that 80 percent of defense civilian employees work outside the Washington area. The 20 percent decrease in pay would affect business and communities and confront “many families with tough decisions.”

The Army estimates automatic budget cuts scheduled to take effect March 1 will have a $15 billion economic impact and affect more than 300,000 jobs nationwide. Hardest hit states include Texas, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Among the least affected: Delaware, Wyoming, Montana and Rhode Island. [...] The cuts will affect every Army installation, according to the documents. States with large bases and military contractors are taking the biggest hits. Texas, for instance, would face a $2.4 billion economic loss from the Army’s budget cuts. Nearly 30,000 Army civilian employees will be furloughed if the cuts go into effect. They will lose $180 million in pay.

If across-the-board budget cuts take effect as scheduled next month, every FBI employee, including special agents, will be furloughed for almost three weeks by the end of September. Ditto for many law enforcement officers at the Department of Homeland Security, where layoffs are also a possibility. Furloughs for Agriculture Department food safety inspectors will mean temporary shutdowns of meat processing plants. At the Social Security Administration, more than 1,500 temporary workers and re-employed retirees will be shown the door.

Budget cuts could result in up to 20 percent pay cut for federal workers:

Agriculture: Plans to furlough about one-third of its workforce, which would lead to “a nationwide shutdown of meat and poultry plants during a furlough of inspection personnel.”

Commerce: “Up to 2,600 NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) employees would have to be furloughed, approximately 2,700 positions would not be filled, and the number of contractors would have to be reduced by about 1,400.” Census vacancies would remain vacant.

Justice: “The Department estimates that it would lose the equivalent of more than 1,000 federal agents . . . as well as 1,300 correctional officers.”

“These employees aren’t some fat cat bureaucrats in a plush Washington office. They are the firefighters who safeguard our bases, the health-care professionals who treat injured soldiers in military hospitals, the mechanics who repair our tanks and planes, the logistics personnel who ensure supplies make it to our troops, the acquisition experts who prevent big defense contractors from ripping off taxpayers. Congress [needs] to find a solution to this manufactured crisis that does not punish our hard-working federal employees, cripple our economic recovery or gut federal programs and services.” — J. David Cox Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees

In addition to all the lost hours that went towards serving the public in one way or another – you never miss it until it’s gone! — imagine the lost commerce locally and regionally because of lost income. Civilian employees with the DoD (among others) stand to lose 8 hours in pay per week through September — that works out to a 20% pay cut. Could you afford that? Not to mention the lost incomes of all the people who will be sent home permanently or who could have been employed and who won’t be now.

All this manufactured crisis and upheaval because Republicans won’t agree to close some tax loopholes for the wealthiest to balance massive spending cuts (in a fragile economy!) with new revenue. In addition to March 1, we also have March 27 to look forward to. That’s when the government’s continuing resolution (funding to run the government) expires and when Republicans will undoubtedly threaten another government shutdown when they’re asked to ‘compromise.’

Let’s not forget two important things: right now the economy is improving and the deficit is shrinking.  And maybe that’s why Republicans are so unhappy. As former GOP Virginia governor Jim Gilmore said recently: “They think spending is the most important thing. It’s not.”

(Graphics above via the NYTimes)

The immediate impacts of the Sequester: this should be GREAT for our economy!

Remember 10 years ago, when George W. Bush created the Department of Homeland Security and moved many established bureaus and agencies to DHS (along with hiring many, many, many new federal employees)? The same political party who thought that was a great idea at the time now, 10 years later, wants to burn it all to the ground because a Democrat is in the White House — and because they refuse to even consider closing tax loopholes for the wealthy.

Here’s how the GOP’s fickle political ideologies will affect us all in just two short weeks:

Federal Times reports that DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano outlined how the Sequester will affect her department on March 1“Sequestration would roll back border security, increase wait times at our nation’s land ports of entry and airports, affect aviation and maritime safety and security, leave critical infrastructure vulnerable to attacks, hamper disaster response time and our surge force capabilities, and significantly scale back cybersecurity infrastructure protections that have been developed in recent years.”

Here’s a list of where the immediate impacts will hit first:

  • Frontline DHS law enforcement officers would be furloughed for up to 14 days
  • Layoffs at DHS
  • FEMA’s disaster relief fund would be cut by more than $1 billion (that fund had $7 billion in 2012)
  • The Secret Service would have to undergo furloughs and cut down on overtime, which would reduce agents’ availability and hinder ongoing criminal investigations.
  • Congressionally mandated levels of Customs and Border Protection officers and Border Patrol agents could not be maintained.
  • The Transportation Security Administration would have to cut its frontline workforce, which would “substantially increase passenger wait times at airport security checkpoints.”
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement would not be able to sustain its current operations to detain and remove illegal immigrants, and could not maintain the 34,000 beds for detained immigrants that Congress now requires.
  • The Coast Guard would have to cut back its air and surface operations by almost 25 percent. This would hurt its maritime safety and security efforts, drug and migrant interdiction, fishing law enforcement, navigational aid efforts, and other law enforcement operations.
  • Homeland Security would not be able to move forward on critical management programs such as modernizing its financial systems.

And it’s going to cost us a lot of lost revenue:

Washington Post: National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen M. Kelley said in the statement that the cuts for Homeland Security would “have a ripple effect throughout the government, since Customs and Border Protection is the second-largest generator of federal revenue, behind only the Internal Revenue Service.” The NTEU president said furloughs for Department of Homeland Security personnel would increase wait times at ports of entry by nearly two hours, ultimately affecting the national economy. She pointed to a 2008 Commerce Department report that said border delays at that point were expected to cost the economy $86 billion by 2017 in the form of lost jobs, wages, economic output and tax revenue.

GovExec: The White House outlined some of the government-wide “severe impacts” in a fact sheet:

  • Loss of more than 1,000 FBI and other law enforcement agents
  • Justice Department furloughs of hundreds of federal prosecutors
  • Furloughs of all Agriculture Department Food Safety and Inspection Service employees for approximately two weeks
  • An unspecified number of furloughs at the Internal Revenue Service that would lead to more fraud slipping through
  • Reduced hours at Social Security Administration offices
  • Taking Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors “off the job for some period of time”

See also:

  • JANET NAPOLITANO’S Feb. 13 letter to Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss.
  • WHITE HOUSE FACT SHEET: Examples of How the Sequester Would Impact Middle Class Families, Jobs and Economic Security, 2/8/2013

Just 537 votes changed the course of American history

Voiceover: “Five hundred and thirty seven. The number of votes that changed the course of American history.”

Newscast: “Florida is too close to call”

Voiceover: “The difference between what was… and what could have been…”

“So this year, if you’re thinking that your vote doesn’t count.That it won’t matter. Well, back then, there were probably at least 537 people, who felt the same way.”

Announcer: “Make your voice heard. Vote.”

How much do you want to bet that almost every one of those 537 people thought their vote wouldn’t count, that it didn’t matter?

Even if you’re a red state with dedicated electoral votes for president, your vote matters overall (popular vote) but especially down ballot — local, state, and the House and Senate. Throw out the members of Congress who have happily done nothing for the past 2-4 years — all for politics – intentionally harming the country to try and make President Obama a one-term president. 

If you’re able, vote for the other candidate. Clean house.

FOIA info: words that DHS analysts pay attention to, patrolling the internet for threats

How can I avoid using these words — they’re everything I’m interested in. And if this is the case, it’s too late anyway. DHS has probably already been here, many times:

REVEALED: Hundreds of words to avoid using online if you don’t want the government spying on you – The Department of Homeland Security has been forced to release a list of keywords and phrases it uses to monitor social networking sites and online media for signs of terrorist or other threats against the U.S. The intriguing the list includes obvious choices such as ‘attack’, ‘Al Qaeda’, ‘terrorism’ and ‘dirty bomb’ alongside dozens of seemingly innocent words like ‘pork’, ‘cloud’, ‘team’ and ‘Mexico’. Released under a freedom of information request, the information sheds new light on how government analysts are instructed to patrol the internet searching for domestic and external threats. — Daily Mail Online

After the snip, the lists of words:  Continue reading

FBI puts Sovereign Citizen movement on public radar

‘Sovereign citizen’ movement now on FBI’s radar

“We are focusing our efforts because of the threat of violence,” said Stuart R. McArthur, a deputy assistant director in the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division.

In two recent unpublished studies, the Homeland Security Department and the National Counterterrorism Center ranked the sovereign citizen movement as a major threat, along with Islamic extremists and white supremacists. The FBI assigned a supervisor to coordinate investigations of the movement last year.

“This is a movement that has absolutely exploded,” said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit organization based in Montgomery, Ala., that tracks domestic terrorists and hate groups. More than 100,000 Americans have aligned themselves with the sovereign citizens, the center said.

Adherents cite a patchwork of beliefs, including that the U.S. is essentially under martial law, that some U.S. constitutional amendments are invalid, and that dollars have been illegitimate since the U.S. Treasury went off the gold standard during the Great Depression.

Most important, some followers believe they are entitled to use armed force to resist arrest and fight police.

The FBI also is investigating followers for alleged mail fraud and harassment of federal officials through nuisance lawsuits and property liens. Such cases are clogging courts in every state, said Casey Carty, who heads the FBI’s sovereign citizen unit.

Until recently, federal officials had steered clear of any extensive focus on right-wing extremist groups. In 2009, some members of Congress complained after a Homeland Security Department report warned that such groups might seek to recruit disaffected military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as others. The report highlighted several groups, including the sovereign citizen movement.

Bowing to the criticism, Homeland Security officials gutted the office that had focused on right-wing extremism. They also canceled planned presentations and shelved a reference guide that the office had produced to inform local police about the movement.

“The topic had become too politically charged,” said Daryl Johnson, who headed the team that wrote the 2009 report.

Remember back in 2009 when the DHS Report on Rightwing Extremism came out and all the headcases in the rightwing blogosphere like Michelle Malkin, Redstate, and Atlas Shrugs, along with such fine “news” organizations like WorldNetDaily and the Washington TImes, all came unglued about it? Unglued and unhinged. Then they started calling themselves rightwing terrorists, because it was cute to do that, bleating that the report was just so unfair, claiming that Janet Reno and the DHS / FBI were labeling HALF THE COUNTRY rightwing extremists for criticizing the Administration over the economy or something. All of which, of course, was a lie.

Here’s a link to that 2009 DHS Report on Rightwing Extremism, or click the image above (warning: PDF). It’s only 10 pages. Read if for yourself. The simple fact of the matter is that there are extremists on the right. Just as there are extremists on the left (ELF, ALF).

You know what the difference is though? The extremists on the left go after property, like houses being built in certain locations. Rightwing extremists kill law enforcement and blow up federal buildings and shoot up Holocaust museums and fly planes into IRS buildings and kill doctors who perform LEGAL abortions — rightwing extremists target and kill people. Big difference.

I suppose there’s no better time than now, election year 2012, for rightwing extremists to start coming out of the woodwork, with their manifestos and their personal armories, to do “God’s work” — or impress their favorite half-term governor, Fox “News” personality, or AM radio entertainer.

And if you read that DHS report and think they’re talking about “average” people like yourself, then here’s hoping that you’re coming up on someone’s radar too.

Stratfor Global “Intelligence”: the American-taxpayer-funded joke on US National Security

And the massive eyerolls at these Texas-based, self-important, cloak-and-dagger wannabes will undoubtedly keep on coming:

Anonymous-Wikileaks Stratfor Leak: Stratfor’s ‘Glossary’ May Be Huge Blow | The New York Observer

The Microsoft Word doc is titled “The Stratfor Glossary of Useful, Baffling and Strange Intelligence Terms.” The author–not identified in the file’s metadata–succinctly introduces the list of terms and definitions: “Every profession and industry has its own vocabulary. Using baseball terms to explain a football game is tough. These are some of the terms we use.”

The following is just a selection of the terms and definitions that could further complicate Stratfor’s already sticky situation. Some are so bluntly-worded they raise the possibility that this was some kind of internal joke:

ATF Alcohol Tobacco and Fire Arms. Rednecks with a license to kill. Never, ever, ever ask for their help on anything.

Background Check Check of history of someone to determine reliability. Usually meaningless. A perfect credit rating does not mean you aren’t devious scum. Does run up the client’s bill and makes it appear that you are busy. Clancy move. Pros run tests. [Ed. The same document later states that a “Clancy” is “Somebody who has read a lot of Tom Clancy novels and thinks he knows the Craft. Total moron. Really dangerous if he is the Customer. Never let a Briefer be a Clancy. “]

Black Op If you heard even a hint of it, it ain’t black. Anyone who tells you about a black op is a liar. Does Stratfor do black ops? You’ll never know.

Backgrounder General analysis that gives the customer better situational awareness. The customer never actually reads the Backgrounder. Its primary use is as cover when the customer screws something up. Backgrounders are the basic intelligence tool for shifting blame to the customer.

Brief the Times When the Briefer has obtained zero valuable intelligence from analysis, he finds something in the inside of the morning paper, powers up a view graph, and “Briefs the Times.” Customers are frequently impressed. It’s a hoot.

CIA Central Intelligence Agency. Also called “Langley” or “up river.” Owns human intelligence (directorate of operations) and analysis (directorate of intelligence). Director, CIA is supposed to oversee all of the intelligence community. Isn’t that a joke? Imagine the Post Office with a foreign policy.

CIA Appetite/Botswana budget A customer with limited resources asking for enormous amounts of intelligence. Defines most of Stratfor’s customers.

Duplicitous little bastards Israeli Intelligence

FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation, aka the Downtown Gang. Very good a breaking up used car rings. Kind of confused on anything more complicated. Fun to jerk with. Not fun when they jerk back.

Green-carder A source working for you because he believes that you will take him to America where he will own a Seven-Eleven. Try not to disabuse him until after you’ve squeezed his sorry ass.

Secret Service They catch counterfeiters, break up child pornography rings and guard the president. Continual identity crisis. Very nice people. Not, shall we say, the most sophisticated crew you’ll ever find.

The glossary in full may be an additional embarrassment for Stratfor, but Wikileaks appears to promise there’s much worse to come: “Like WikiLeaks’ diplomatic cables, much of the significance of the emails will be revealed over the coming weeks, as our coalition and the public search through them and discover connections.”

Keep in mind that the American taxpayer has been funding Stratfor to provide such very serious and vital information as shown above — for our national security! And teabaggers are worried about security issues on the Mexican border?

“[Stratfor] provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal’s Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defence Intelligence Agency. ” — Wikileaks

I’d like to know how many Republican / conservative politicians and one percenters lined up the contract for this Texas company. Who’s profiting personally and politically?

The War on Terror and the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

Click for larger image:

“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed, will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten.”George Orwell, 1984


One 9-11 tally: $3.3 trillion

NY Times: One 9/11 Tally: $3.3 Trillion

Al Qaeda spent roughly half a million dollars to destroy the World Trade Center and cripple the Pentagon. What has been the cost to the United States? In a survey of estimates by The New York Times, the answer is $3.3 trillion, or about $7 million for every dollar Al Qaeda spent planning and executing the attacks. While not all of the costs have been borne by the government — and some are still to come — this total equals one-fifth of the current national debt. All figures are shown in today’s dollars.

Click graphic for details / sources (one cube equals $1 billion):

He Told Us to Go Shopping

To understand this link between today’s financial crisis and Bush’s wider national security decisions, we need to go back to 9/11 itself. From the very outset, the president described the “war on terror” as a vast undertaking of paramount importance. But he simultaneously urged Americans to carry on as if there were no war. “Get down to Disney World in Florida,” he urged just over two weeks after 9/11. “Take your families and enjoy life, the way we want it to be enjoyed.” Bush certainly wanted citizens to support his war — he just wasn’t going to require them actually to do anything. The support he sought was not active but passive. It entailed not popular engagement but popular deference. Bush simply wanted citizens (and Congress) to go along without asking too many questions.

So his administration’s policies reflected an oddly business-as-usual approach. Senior officials routinely described the war as global in scope and likely to last decades, but the administration made no effort to expand the armed forces. It sought no additional revenue to cover the costs of waging a protracted conflict. It left the nation’s economic priorities unchanged. Instead of sacrifices, it offered tax cuts. So as the American soldier fought, the American consumer binged, encouraged by American banks offering easy credit.

From September 2001 until September 2008, this approach allowed Bush to enjoy nearly unfettered freedom of action…

10-year anniversary of 9-11: FBI and DHS issue nationwide warning

The fact of the matter is that any anniversary has meaning for someone and is an opportunity for terrorism… The ten-year anniversary of 9-11 happens to carry a lot of meaning for a lot of people. From the Washington Post:

WASHINGTON — The FBI and Homeland Security have issued a nationwide warning about al-Qaida threats to small airplanes, just days before the anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Authorities say there is no specific or credible terrorist threat for the 10-year anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. But they have stepped up security nationwide as a precaution.

According to a five-page law enforcement bulletin issued Friday, as recently as early this year, al-Qaida was considering ways to attack airplanes.The alert, issued ahead of the summer’s last busy travel weekend, said terrorists have considered renting private planes and loading them with explosives.

[...] The bulletin also says al-Qaida would like to use sympathetic Westerners to get flight training, then get them to become flight instructors.

While we’re on the subject of terrorist threats, let’s not forget that it’s not just middle-eastern, Islamic fundamentalists of al Qaeda that we need to worry about. Our very own home-grown anti-government, anti-tax, anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-choice domestic terrorist element occasionally bubbles to the surface as well:

Terrorists, whether domestic or otherwise, use people as symbols and the deaths of others as their political / religious / philosophical statement.

Related 9-11 posts….

The dangers of home grown rightwing extremists in Norway AND in the United States…

Norway slow to wake to the dangers of home-grown right-wing extremists

WHILE security forces in many Western European countries have been concerned about a rise in ultra-nationalism, Norwegian authorities appear to have underestimated the threat.

The man charged with killing at least 91 people, Anders Behring Breivik, appears to be a home-grown extremist whose deadly actions were directed at the ruling Labour Party.

The Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang quoted a friend as saying that the suspect turned to right-wing extremism in his late 20s. He had no military background except for ordinary national service and no criminal record, but it seems he was a member of Norway’s far-right Progress Party, which advocates slashing migration.

The party, founded in the 1970s, has become the second largest in Norway.

Remember that 2009 Department of Homeland Security report about the threat of right-wing extremists in America? (PDF doc): Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment:

Working definition of right-wing extremism (footnote, page 2) –

* (U) Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and  individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.

Recall the loud and prolonged breath-holding, foot-stomping. and pearl-clutching from American conservatives over that report from “the conservative bloggosphere… Gingrich, Michelle Malkin, Powerline, and elsewhere,” as Jake Tapper noted. Tapper reported that Sean Hannity interpreted [the DHS report] as targeting “people who think maybe we’re not controlling our borders” and “people who have pro-life bumper stickers.”

How dare DHS imply there are right-wing extremists in America who could turn violent? Anyone who calls himself a ‘conservative’ is just a real Amurikin, one of the folks! The DHS report spawned the “Proud to be a rightwing extremist” meme that swept the fringe  as well as news outlets like WND and Fox News and their mouthpieces. Then these events happened:

File:Damage to Echelon complex from 2010 plane crash.jpg

Panorama of the damaged Echelon office complex in Austin, TX, the day after Andrew Stack flew his plane into it.

The conservative wingnuts attempted to pin liberal political / Islamic extremist motivations [same thing to them] on each event.  Of course, these are the same people who would argue that Timothy McVeigh was a liberal atheist. The thing is, no one argues that there are leftwing extremists, such as James J. Lee or groups like ELF and ALF or “homegrown” Islamic terrorists like the Fort Hood Shooter. But to try and negate the existence of politically-fueled domestic rightwing extremism is ridiculous and dangerous.

It just seems strange and typical that, along with Norway, our government can’t say too loudly that there has been and always will be a potential danger from homegrown rightwing extremists. However with President Obama in the White House and the fear that a kind of hero-worship of Beck, Palin, Limbaugh, etc. — and the irresponsible things they say and do — might spur some domestic loner into some kind of ‘Manchurian Candidate’ type of action, it’s probably not safe to rattle their cages too much.


Osama bin Laden set out to bankrupt America… was he at all successful?

Rachel Maddow points out what Osama bin Laden’s goals were, back in 2001 when this all began, and how he may have succeeded:

Osama bin Laden set out to bankrupt America. Since 9-11, the United States has funded two declared wars and built a new department dedicated to homeland security. We’ve also lowered taxes for the wealthy.

…Rachel said. “But it is worth thinking about whether or not America has a strong resilient economy. Rich people being really rich, that alone does not give you a strong economy or a strong nation. That can just be feudalism with cable.


Three more, after the jump: Continue reading

DHS & Walmart: ensuring the ‘safety and security of our nation’

So, for whatever reason, DHS is asking Walmart shoppers to be alert for terrorism, or, as the DHS explains the partnership on their website, “to help the American public play an active role in ensuring the safety and security of our nation.” The campaign is named, “If you see something, say something,” and will be in nearly 600 Walmart stores nationwide by the end of the month. Here’s what Secretary Napolitano says, in part, to shoppers on video screens at checkout:

“If you see something suspicious in the parking lot or in the store, say something immediately. Report suspicious activity to your local police or sheriff. If you need help ask a WalMart manager for assistance.” (see video here)

In the true spirit of the “safety and security of our nation,” it would be funny if Walmart shoppers and employees reported Walmart for only selling things made in China, for the low wages they pay, their anti-union stance, and for closing numerous small businesses across the land.

But, really. DHS is aware of who shops at Walmart, right?


Can we trust this gentleman to report ALL the suspicious activity?

This guy doesn't know he has skid marks on the outside of his shorts but he's supposed to be aware of other things too?

Threat level: YELLOW. Report that to your local Sheriff.

This lady is relieved there's an official reason to report all the suspicious things she's carefully collected in notebooks... and jars.

Quick test: find something suspicious in this picture.

All pics via PeopleofWalmart

Thoughts so far on the latest Wikileaks: Who does Julian Assange answer to?

How exactly did Wikileaks come into possession of this latest information? Simple downloading from an Intelligence intranet database called Siprnet, developed for Bush’s DHS after 9/11:

“In the rush to merge the information held by the various intelligence agencies to form the Department of Homeland Security after 9/11, millions of diplomatic and military personnel were given access to the U.S. government intranet that houses all of this type of secret information.”

Couple discoveries: :

  • You’ll never believe this (sarcasm), but Israel purposely exaggerated Iran’s nuclear threat. Some countries would really, really like the U.S. to go to war with Iran, apparently. Who else? Saudi Arabia: The Saudi king “repeatedly requested” the US attack Iran.
  • The Guardian reports that U.S. diplomats spied on UN officials. I don’t mean to sound cynical, but wouldn’t most people assume this was a matter of course for decades? All around? Just me?

Here’s the thingCharles Johnson of LGF:

“I don’t recall voting for Julian Assange. As he sets himself up as the arbiter of government morality, and recklessly reveals secrets that will distort and vastly complicate international relations, and very probably cause innocent people to suffer and die, who will hold him accountable? Who does he answer to?

Exactly. Think that’s an exaggeration?

“Every cable includes the date, author, addressee, classification level and the report text itself. The cable texts also often mention the names of informants. DER SPIEGEL and SPIEGEL ONLINE have for that reason decided not to publish the vast majority of the documents.


Why were there none of these “leaks” during the Bush years? Are there political motivations at work? I have to agree with Steven Benen about the latest wikileaks dump:

I would, however, like to know more about the motivations of the leaker (or leakers). Revealing secrets about crimes, abuses, and corruption obviously serves a larger good — it shines a light on wrongdoing, leading (hopefully) to accountability, while creating an incentive for officials to play by the rules. Leaking diplomatic cables, however, is harder to understand — the point seems to be to undermine American foreign policy, just for the sake of undermining American foreign policy. The role of whistleblowers has real value; dumping raw, secret diplomatic correspondence appears to be an exercise in pettiness and spite.


A reminder for “newly found believers in individual rights and limited government on the right”

John Cole posts a good reminder:

Who formed the DHS?

Who formed the TSA?

Who had no problem with indefinite detention?


Illegal wiretapping?

Who greenlit all these scanners?

Who turned away a guy who had a solution to the body scanner freak-out?

Something to keep in mind while we all listen to our newly found believers in individual rights and limited government on the right. I mean, welcome to the fight, but the hypocrisy is staggering.

A bit of “how’s-your-father” at DIA

Eminently Captionable Photo of the Day: “Transportation Security Administration agents perform enhanced pat-downs on passengers at DIA on Wednesday amid growing controversy about the screenings and full-body scanners, one week before Thanksgiving air travelers crowd airports.”

Now turn your head and cough.

[denverpost via Daily What]