November 21, 2014

All Hail King Barack Obama, Emperor Of The United States Of America!

As President Barack Obama dictates his immigration decree on Thursday night, Republicans from all different sides of the party are responding by calling him “king” or “emperor” or some variant of those tyrant-sounding terms.

“If ‘Emperor Obama’ ignores the American people and announces an amnesty plan that he himself has said over and over again exceeds his Constitutional authority, he will cement his legacy of lawlessness and ruin the chances for Congressional action on this issue – and many others,” House Speaker John Boehner’s spokesman Michael Steel said in an email to reporters this week.

Incoming Senate Budget Committee chairman Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said in a statement this week that Obama is now “Emperor Of The United States:"
President Obama previously said he could not issue an executive amnesty because ‘I’m the President of the United States, I’m not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed. Well, apparently we now have an ‘Emperor of the United States.’ President Obama’s immigration order would provide illegal immigrants with the exact benefits Congress has repeatedly rejected: Social Security numbers, photo IDs and work permits—which will allow them to now take jobs directly from struggling Americans in every occupation. Congress must not allow this unconstitutional action. That means Congress should fund the government while ensuring that no funds can be spent on this unlawful purpose.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Thursday took to the U.S. Senate floor to rip into Obama’s coming decree by citing Cicero, the Roman Senator who fought the encroaching empire that took Democracy in the ancient Republic.

“When, President Obama, do you mean to cease abusing our patience?” Cruz adapted Cicero’s famous warning to Rome’s citizens against the Cataline conspiracy:
How long is that madness of yours still to mock us? When is there to be an end of that unbridled audacity of yours, swaggering about as it does now. Do not the nightly guards placed on the Border—do not the watches posted throughout the city—does not the alarm of the people, and the union of all good men—does not the precaution taken of assembling the Senate in this most defensible place—do not the looks and countenances of this venerable body here present, have any effect upon you? Do you not feel that your plans are detected?
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), who alongside Cruz passed legislation through the House of Representatives before the August recess before the midterm elections blocking funding for the implementation of this executive amnesty—something the Senate rejected—called Obama “King.”

“President Obama’s relentless assault on the Constitution will be his legacy,” Blackburn, who pledged that Republicans will fight and beat Obama’s executive amnesty, said in a statement. “His actions have established a new precedent for Executive behavior that will have repercussions for years to come. Soon we will no longer need the legislators or the courts. King Obama will make the law, interpret the law, and if he so chooses, enforce the law. His ‘ends justify the means’ approach is exactly the type of Executive mentality our system of government was designed to discourage.”

Even Karl Rove, a staunch proponent of amnesty for illegal aliens, said the way Obama is doing this is like a king. “We are not a monarchy, we are not an empire where the president sits on some throne in Washington, D.C.,” Rove said on Fox News on Thursday night.

November 20, 2014

Congressmen To NIH: Justify Continuing To Pay Jonathan Gruber

Two GOP congressmen are asking the National Institutes of Health a long list of questions about its ongoing contract with Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber, suggesting it might be better off ending his contract. 

Reps. Joe Pitts and Andy Harris wrote to NIH director Francis Collins Wednesday charging that Gruber’s untoward comments have called into question Gruber’s trustworthiness and the NIH’s choices.

“Recent developments related to Dr. Gruber raise questions about his objectivity and judgment, and thus the utility of his research,” the congressmen wrote. “Further, the award of this grant causes majors concerns regarding NIH’s funding priorities.”

Gruber has received $1.5 million from NIH’s National Institute on Aging and is set to earn over $2 million, according to the letter. The NIH’s website also reports that Gruber has received $2,049,937 for his research between 2008 and 2014.

Gruber’s ongoing research is focused on “Dynamics of Plan Choice and Prescription Drug Utilization in Medicare Part D.”

“If NIH were to continue funding Dr. Gruber’s grant, would you recommend that Congress and others utilize Dr. Gruber’s study given his deplorable views on the intelligence of Americans?” the congressmen asked. “If you do recommend utilizing it, how would you justify that decision, especially to seniors who rely on Medicare Part D?”

Apart from lambasting the Americans voters’ “stupidity,” Gruber explained that Obamacare’s authors intentionally “mislabeled” parts of Obamacare in a “basic exploitation” of the American public.

The congressmen asked about the “process for rescinding grant funding” and questioned whether, “given the significant issues regarding Dr. Gruber’s judgment and the effect it will have on the study and its findings,” the NIH is considering that in Gruber’s case.

They also noted that Gruber’s funding could have gone towards other types of research that could benefit the American people, such as Alzheimer’s, dementia or cancer. Collins, of course, blamed cuts in research funding for NIH’s failure to create a Ebola vaccine earlier this year.

He’s also still part of a $450,000 contract from the state of Vermont to help design the funding for the state’s effort to create a single-payer health care system and remains on the board of the Massachusetts Obamacare exchange. Several top Vermont state Republicans have called for his contract to be ended.

November 19, 2014

Senate Sinks NSA Reform

The Senate voted 58 to 42 against bringing the USA FREEDOM Act to the floor for amendments and passage Tuesday night, marking the end of any chance for National Security Agency surveillance reform this Congress.

Tuesday night’s vote to invoke cloture and proceed to a vote for passage failed to acquire the 60 votes needed, with all but one Democrat voting in favor of the bill along with Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Dean Heller of Nevada.

In the final hours prior to the vote, Republicans including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell amped up their warnings of the bill’s potential to curb national security efforts against terrorist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

“This is the worst possible time to be tying our hands behind our backs. The threat from ISIL is real,” McConnell said in a statement Tuesday. “It’s different from what we’ve faced before. And if we’re going to overcome it — if our aim is to degrade and destroy ISIL, as the president has said — then that’s going to require smart policies and firm determination.” 

“I promise you, if God forbid a horrifying event like that would happen, the first question that would be asked is why didn’t we know about it?” Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said during the brief floor debate that preceded the vote.

“Why would we weaken the ability of our intelligence community at a time when the threats against this country have never been greater?” Maine Republican Susan Collins asked.

After the vote was decided, Democratic Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy — the bill’s chief sponsor in the upper chamber — decried the “scare tactics” used by Republicans to squash the strongest measure yet aimed at reducing the size and scope of bulk surveillance of Americans revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden more than one year ago.

“Fomenting fear stifles debate, and doing it at the last minute is all the more regrettable,” Leahy said. “This nation should not allow its liberty to be set aside by passing fear.”

“If we do not protect the Constitution, we do not deserve to be in this body.”

The White House also endorsed the bill, which aside from curtailing surveillance powers, 
reauthorized such powers that were originally expanded via the PATRIOT Act for an additional two years. Without passage of the USA FREEDOM Act, Republicans set to control the chamber starting next year will have until June 1 to come up with a plan of their own before the PATRIOT Act expires entirely, along with all of the expanded authority within.

The USA FREEDOM Act would have ended NSA’s bulk collection of telephone records and storage, moved such records into the hands of service providers, and forced the agency to obtain specific warrants to search the data. Additional provisions required the signals intelligence agency to implement specific terms into search requests — this is in contrast to the House bill passed earlier this year, which some argued made it easier for NSA to conduct bulk searches for anyone falling under generic information like ZIP codes. 

The bill also added privacy and civil liberties advocates to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which approves secret government warrants for searches.

Further transparency measures gave service providers and tech companies more freedom in reporting the number and type of government requests for data they must facilitate, and mandated that the government reveal the number of people swept up in searches — particularly if they’re American citizens.

Lawmakers in favor of even stronger reforms including Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul criticized the bill’s failure to address surveillance authority granted to the government under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows NSA to collect the electronic communications of non-citizens outside the U.S., but often sweeps up and stores Americans’ communications in the process.

November 18, 2014

The Siege of Julian Assange is a Farce

The siege of Knightsbridge is a farce. For two years, an exaggerated, costly police presence around the Ecuadorean embassy in London has served no purpose other than to flaunt the power of the state. Their quarry is an Australian charged with no crime, a refugee from gross injustice whose only security is the room given him by a brave South American country. His true crime is to have initiated a wave of truth-telling in an era of lies, cynicism and war.

The persecution of Julian Assange must end. Even the British government clearly believes it must end. On 28 October, the deputy foreign minister, Hugo Swire, told Parliament he would "actively welcome" the Swedish prosecutor in London and "we would do absolutely everything to facilitate that". The tone was impatient.

The Swedish prosecutor, Marianne Ny, has refused to come to London to question Assange about allegations of sexual misconduct in Stockholm in 2010 - even though Swedish law allows for it and the procedure is routine for Sweden and the UK. The documentary evidence of a threat to Assange's life and freedom from the United States - should he leave the embassy - is overwhelming. On May 14 this year, US court files revealed that a "multi subject investigation" against Assange was "active and ongoing".

Ny has never properly explained why she will not come to London, just as the Swedish authorities have never explained why they refuse to give Assange a guarantee that they will not extradite him on to the US under a secret arrangement agreed between Stockholm and Washington. In December 2010, the Independent revealed that the two governments had discussed his onward extradition to the US before the European Arrest Warrant was issued.

Perhaps an explanation is that, contrary to its reputation as a liberal bastion, Sweden has drawn so close to Washington that it has allowed secret CIA "renditions" - including the illegal deportation of refugees. The rendition and subsequent torture of two Egyptian political refugees in 2001 was condemned by the UN Committee against Torture, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch; the complicity and duplicity of the Swedish state are documented in successful civil litigation and WikiLeaks cables. In the summer of 2010, Assange had been in Sweden to talk about WikiLeaks revelations of the war in Afghanistan - in which Sweden had forces under US command.

The Americans are pursuing Assange because WikiLeaks exposed their epic crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq: the wholesale killing of tens of thousands of civilians, which they covered up; and their contempt for sovereignty and international law, as demonstrated vividly in their leaked diplomatic cables.

For his part in disclosing how US soldiers murdered Afghan and Iraqi civilians, the heroic soldier Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning received a sentence of 35 years, having been held for more than a thousand days in conditions which, according to the UN Special Rapporteur, amounted to torture.

Few doubt that should the US get their hands on Assange, a similar fate awaits him. Threats of capture and assassination became the currency of the political extremes in the US following Vice-President Joe Biden's preposterous slur that Assange was a "cyber-terrorist". Anyone doubting the kind of US ruthlessness he can expect should remember the forcing down of the Bolivian president's plane last year - wrongly believed to be carrying Edward Snowden.

According to documents released by Snowden, Assange is on a "Manhunt target list". Washington's bid to get him, say Australian diplomatic cables, is "unprecedented in scale and nature". In Alexandria, Virginia, a secret grand jury has spent four years attempting to contrive a crime for which Assange can be prosecuted. This is not easy. The First Amendment to the US Constitution protects publishers, journalists and whistleblowers. As a presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama lauded whistleblowers as "part of a healthy democracy [and they] must be protected from reprisal". Under President Obama, more whistleblowers have been prosecuted than under all other US presidents combined. Even before the verdict was announced in the trial of Chelsea Manning, Obama had pronounced the whisletblower guilty.

"Documents released by WikiLeaks since Assange moved to England," wrote Al Burke, editor of the online Nordic News Network, an authority on the multiple twists and dangers facing Assange, "clearly indicate that Sweden has consistently submitted to pressure from the United States in matters relating to civil rights. There is every reason for concern that if Assange were to be taken into custody by Swedish authorities, he could be turned over to the United States without due consideration of his legal rights."

There are signs that the Swedish public and legal community do not support prosecutor's Marianne Ny's intransigence. Once implacably hostile to Assange, the Swedish press has published headlines such as: "Go to London, for God's sake."

Why won't she? More to the point, why won't she allow the Swedish court access to hundreds of SMS messages that the police extracted from the phone of one of the two women involved in the misconduct allegations? Why won't she hand them over to Assange's Swedish lawyers? She says she is not legally required to do so until a formal charge is laid and she has questioned him. Then, why doesn't she question him?

This week, the Swedish Court of Appeal will decide whether to order Ny to hand over the SMS messages; or the matter will go to the Supreme Court and the European Court of Justice. In high farce, Assange's Swedish lawyers have been allowed only to "review" the SMS messages, which they had to memorise.

One of the women's messages makes clear that she did not want any charges brought against Assange, "but the police were keen on getting a hold on him". She was "shocked" when they arrested him because she only "wanted him to take [an HIV] test". She "did not want to accuse JA of anything" and "it was the police who made up the charges". (In a witness statement, she is quoted as saying that she had been "railroaded by police and others around her".)

Neither woman claimed she had been raped. Indeed, both have denied they were raped and one of them has since tweeted, "I have not been raped." That they were manipulated by police and their wishes ignored is evident - whatever their lawyers might say now. Certainly, they are victims of a saga worthy of Kafka.

For Assange, his only trial has been trial by media. On 20 August 2010, the Swedish police opened a "rape investigation" and immediately - and unlawfully - told the Stockholm tabloids that there was a warrant for Assange's arrest for the "rape of two women". This was the news that went round the world.

In Washington, a smiling US Defence Secretary Robert Gates told reporters that the arrest "sounds like good news to me". Twitter accounts associated with the Pentagon described Assange as a "rapist" and a "fugitive".

Less than 24 hours later, the Stockholm Chief Prosecutor, Eva Finne, took over the investigation. She wasted no time in cancelling the arrest warrant, saying, "I don't believe there is any reason to suspect that he has committed rape." Four days later, she dismissed the rape investigation altogether, saying, "There is no suspicion of any crime whatsoever."  The file was closed.

Enter Claes Borgstrom, a high profile politician in the Social Democratic Party then standing as a candidate in Sweden's imminent general election. Within days of the chief prosecutor's dismissal of the case, Borgstrom, a lawyer, announced to the media that he was representing the two women and had sought a different prosecutor in the city of Gothenberg. This was Marianne Ny, whom Borgstrom knew well. She, too, was involved with the Social Democrats.

On 30 August, Assange attended a police station in Stockholm voluntarily and answered all the questions put to him. He understood that was the end of the matter. Two days later, Ny announced she was re-opening the case. Borgstrom was asked by a Swedish reporter why the case was proceeding when it had already been dismissed, citing one of the women as saying she had not been raped. He replied, "Ah, but she is not a lawyer." Assange's Australian barrister, James Catlin, responded, "This is a laughing stock... it's as if they make it up as they go along."

On the day Marianne Ny reactivated the case, the head of Sweden's military intelligence service ("MUST") publicly denounced WikiLeaks in an article entitled "WikiLeaks [is] a threat to our soldiers." Assange was warned that the Swedish intelligence service, SAP, had been told by its US counterparts that US-Sweden intelligence-sharing arrangements would be "cut off" if Sweden sheltered him.

For five weeks, Assange waited in Sweden for the new investigation to take its course. The Guardian was then on the brink of publishing the Iraq "War Logs", based on WikiLeaks' disclosures, which Assange was to oversee. His lawyer in Stockholm asked Ny if she had any objection to his leaving the country. She said he was free to leave.

Inexplicably, as soon as he left Sweden - at the height of media and public interest in the WikiLeaks disclosures - Ny issued a European Arrest Warrant and an Interpol "red alert" normally used for terrorists and dangerous criminals. Put out in five languages around the world, it ensured a media frenzy.

Assange attended a police station in London, was arrested and spent ten days in Wandsworth Prison, in solitary confinement. Released on £340,000 bail, he was electronically tagged, required to report to police daily and placed under virtual house arrest while his case began its long journey to the Supreme Court. He still had not been charged with any offence. His lawyers repeated his offer to be questioned by Ny in London, pointing out that she had given him permission to leave Sweden. They suggested a special facility at Scotland Yard used for that purpose. She refused.

Katrin Axelsson and Lisa Longstaff of Women Against Rape wrote: "The allegations against [Assange] are a smokescreen behind which a number of governments are trying to clamp down on WikiLeaks for having audaciously revealed to the public their secret planning of wars and occupations with their attendant rape, murder and destruction... The authorities care so little about violence against women that they manipulate rape allegations at will. [Assange] has made it clear he is available for questioning by the Swedish authorities, in Britain or via Skype. Why are they refusing this essential step in their investigation? What are they afraid of?"

This question remained unanswered as Ny deployed the European Arrest Warrant, a draconian product of the "war on terror" supposedly designed to catch terrorists and organised criminals. The EAW had abolished the obligation on a petitioning state to provide any evidence of a crime. More than a thousand EAWs are issued each month; only a few have anything to do with potential "terror" charges. Most are issued for trivial offences, such as overdue bank charges and fines. Many of those extradited face months in prison without charge. There have been a number of shocking miscarriages of justice, of which British judges have been highly critical.

The Assange case finally reached the UK Supreme Court in May 2012. In a judgement that upheld the EAW - whose rigid demands had left the courts almost no room for manoeuvre - the judges found that European prosecutors could issue extradition warrants in the UK without any judicial oversight, even though Parliament intended otherwise. They made clear that Parliament had been "misled" by the Blair government. The court was split, 5-2, and consequently found against Assange.

However, the Chief Justice, Lord Phillips, made one mistake. He applied the Vienna Convention on treaty interpretation, allowing for state practice to override the letter of the law. As Assange's barrister, Dinah Rose QC, pointed out, this did not apply to the EAW.

The Supreme Court only recognised this crucial error when it dealt with another appeal against the EAW in November last year. The Assange decision had been wrong, but it was too late to go back.

Assange's choice was stark: extradition to a country that had refused to say whether or not it would send him on to the US, or to seek what seemed his last opportunity for refuge and safety. Supported by most of Latin America, the courageous government of Ecuador granted him refugee status on the basis of documented evidence and legal advice that he faced the prospect of cruel and unusual punishment in the US; that this threat violated his basic human rights; and that his own government in Australia had abandoned him and colluded with Washington. The Labor government of prime minister Julia Gillard had even threatened to take away his passport.

Gareth Peirce, the renowned human rights lawyer who represents Assange in London, wrote to the then Australian foreign minister, Kevin Rudd: "Given the extent of the public discussion, frequently on the basis of entirely false assumptions... it is very hard to attempt to preserve for him any presumption of innocence. Mr. Assange has now hanging over him not one but two Damocles swords, of potential extradition to two different jurisdictions in turn for two different alleged crimes, neither of which are crimes in his own country, and that his personal safety has become at risk in circumstances that are highly politically charged."

It was not until she contacted the Australian High Commission in London that Peirce received a response, which answered none of the pressing points she raised. In a meeting I attended with her, the Australian Consul-General, Ken Pascoe, made the astonishing claim that he knew "only what I read in the newspapers" about the details of the case.

Meanwhile, the prospect of a grotesque miscarriage of justice was drowned in a vituperative campaign against the WikiLeaks founder. Deeply personal, petty, vicious and inhuman attacks were aimed at a man not charged with any crime yet subjected to treatment not even meted out to a defendant facing extradition on a charge of murdering his wife. That the US threat to Assange was a threat to all journalists, to freedom of speech, was lost in the sordid and the ambitious.

Books were published, movie deals struck and media careers launched or kick-started on the back of WikiLeaks and an assumption that attacking Assange was fair game and he was too poor to sue. People have made money, often big money, while WikiLeaks has struggled to survive. The editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, called the WikiLeaks disclosures, which his newspaper published, "one of the greatest journalistic scoops of the last 30 years". It became part of his marketing plan to raise the newspaper's cover price.

With not a penny going to Assange or to WikiLeaks, a hyped Guardian book led to a lucrative Hollywood movie. The book's authors, Luke Harding and David Leigh, gratuitously described Assange as a "damaged personality" and "callous". They also revealed the secret password he had given the paper in confidence, which was designed to protect a digital file containing the US embassy cables. With Assange now trapped in the Ecuadorean embassy, Harding, standing among the police outside, gloated on his blog that "Scotland Yard may get the last laugh".

The injustice meted out to Assange is one of the reasons Parliament will eventually vote on a reformed EAW. The draconian catch-all used against him could not happen now; charges would have to be brought and "questioning" would be insufficient grounds for extradition. "His case has been won lock, stock and barrel," Gareth Peirce told me, "these changes in the law mean that the UK now recognises as correct everything that was argued in his case. Yet he does not benefit. And the genuineness of Ecuador's offer of sanctuary is not questioned by the UK or Sweden."

On 18 March 2008, a war on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange was foretold in a secret Pentagon document prepared by the "Cyber Counterintelligence Assessments Branch". It described a detailed plan to destroy the feeling of "trust" which is WikiLeaks' "centre of gravity". This would be achieved with threats of "exposure [and] criminal prosecution". Silencing and criminalising this rare source of independent journalism was the aim, smear the method. Hell hath no fury like great power scorned.

November 17, 2014

GOP Rep. Hal Rogers' Campaign Donor Stands to Profit from Executive Amnesty

A defense contractor and top campaign contributor to House Appropriations Committee chairman Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) is in the running to get a contract to print millions of IDs and other government documents associated with the president’s planned executive amnesty, Breitbart News has learned exclusively.

The contractor, General Dynamics, is on the list of “interested vendors” for a draft solicitation that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an agency of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), sent out to vendors in October. If the president goes through with an executive amnesty for millions of illegal aliens and General Dynamics gets the contract, a top official with the firm told Breitbart News that he expects the printing of the documents -- including ID cards, work permits and Social Security cards for illegal aliens -- would occur at a facility inside Chairman Rogers’ congressional district in Kentucky.

The government facility, in Corbin, Kentucky, already prints green cards, work permits, IDs, and other documents for immigrants under a long-term multi-million-dollar General Dynamics contract with USCIS. The facility, and its efforts to eliminate the production of fraudulent green card production by including tiny images of every U.S. president on green cards, was profiled in 2011 by Government Security News magazine—a trade publication for insiders in various Homeland Security contracting fields.

“In what some may see as an excessive burst of patriotism, tiny photographs of every U.S. president -- so small they can barely be seen -- are printed on every new U.S. permanent resident card issued to an immigrant authorized to live and work in the United States,” Jacob Goodwin wrote for the April 2011 profile. “In fact, those presidential photos are not a demonstration of patriotism, but one of the latest steps U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a unit of DHS known as USCIS, has taken to make the nation’s new permanent resident cards, commonly called ‘green cards,’ harder to counterfeit.”

Goodwin quotes General Dynamics Information Technology’s director for Homeland Security Programs Chris Jensen as detailing how that elaborate printing effort was done to attempt to reduce fraud by those who wish to print their own green cards.

“There are a lot of attempts to counterfeit cards,” Jensen told the magazine. “We’ll never stop the counterfeiting attempts, but we can make it hard to pass off a card as authentic.”

Goodwin detailed for the magazine how the General Dynamics IT division has been working with USCIS—“and its predecessor agencies” before the creation of the DHS post-9/11 by the George W. Bush administration, a move that drastically altered the makeup of federal immigration agencies—printing such documents together since the mid-1990s. The contracts are worth millions of dollars, and Goodwin highlighted one such contract signed in October 2010 worth $24.8 million that has General Dynamics printing the immigration documents at the Corbin, KY, facility.

“Along with its team member, LaserCard Corp. (a major card manufacturer recently acquired by HID Global), General Dynamics oversees the production of 1.5 to 2.0 million green cards each year; another 1.0 to 1.5 million cards for people with ‘temporary protected status’; 300,000 to 400,000 Transportation Worker Identification Credentials, called TWIC cards; and a slew of ‘Employment Authorization Documents,’ known as EAD cards, according to Jensen,” Goodwin wrote. “GD provides production support and quality assurance services for the processes by which an individual’s name, personal history, photo, fingerprint and other data are applied to a specific plastic card. This process occurs in a production facility in Kentucky that more closely resembles a ‘clean room’ – with workers wearing white lab coats and footies – than a factory assembly line, explained Jensen.”

Goodwin proceeded to detail the close-up operations of the creation of the documents—and General Dynamics’ lucrative role in doing so—throughout the rest of his piece. In a followup July 2013 article for Government Security News magazine, Goodwin noted how General Dynamics landed yet another contract worth millions with USCIS to print more documents and keep that Corbin, Kentucky facility rolling.

“U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has awarded a contract worth as much as $5.5 million to the incumbent vendor, General Dynamics Information Technology, to continue to maintain the production facility in Corbin, KY, that manufactures each year millions of permanent resident cards (known as ‘Green Cards’) and Employment Authorization Document cards,” Goodwin wrote in the followup. “GD is responsible for what is called the Card Personalization System Technology Refreshment, or CPSTR, for the document production division of USCIS.”

Goodwin added that the original contract was awarded to General Dynamics on a competitive basis, but the agency now has an “indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract” with the company—meaning General Dynamics can make millions upon millions more dollars every couple years with USCIS continuing to renew its relationship with the company for more documents.

In mid-October, Breitbart News broke the story about how the Obama administration was gearing up for a “surge” in the creation of new immigration documents like these ones. That story detailed a draft solicitation that USCIS had published seeking potential government contractors ready to handle as many as 9 million new immigrant IDs in one year sometime very soon.

The document states that such a “surge” in document production would be necessary “to support possible future immigration reform initiative requirements” and that the “guaranteed minimum for each ordering period is 4,000,000 cards. The estimated maximum for the entire contract is 34,000,000 cards.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest originally punted when asked about this solicitation, referring Breitbart News White House correspondent Charlie Spiering to USCIS for comment. When he was asked again the day after, Earnest said he thinks it is “a relatively clever way to ask about the policy that the president has not yet announced as it relates to executive actions that he’s prepared to take to address the problems of our broken immigration system.”

When pressed by Major Garrett for a followup to that, and whether Earnest was saying the printing of the documents was “unrelated or coincidental,” Earnest dodged again.

“I’m saying there are decisions that are made by lots of agencies including the ordering of specific colored sheets of paper,” Earnest said. “Those sorts of decisions are not micro-managed by the White House.”

“Don’t be absurd with us,” Garrett pressed further. “That’s not just an ordinary colored piece of paper. It’s central to what the president has promised in public to do.”

“It’s also central to what they’re already doing,” Earnest replied. “It’s also central to what they’re already doing.”

“That’s why I asked you the question: Is it coincidental or unrelated?” Garrett followed up again.

“You would have to ask DHS about orders for green colored paper that they’ve ordered,” Earnest responded. “Not the executive order, but the order of the colored copying paper is coming from the Department of Homeland Security.”

After another minute or so of back and forth between a bewildered Garrett—visibly frustrated with Earnest refusing to confirm or deny that the solicitation from USCIS was connected to Obama’s planned executive immigration action—pressed further.

“If the president has said that ‘I’m going to do this’ and there’s a mechanism by which it can be achieved once the executive order is put in commission, and suddenly there’s this contract to print more of them, why isn’t it just obvious that that seems to be related?” Garrett asked.

Earnest dodged and continue to refuse to confirm or deny the connection, laughing off the questions before cautioning the media in the White House briefing room. “The fact of the matter is there are still decisions to be made about what that policy will entail,” Earnest said. “When we’re ready to announce that policy, we will announce it. What I will caution you against doing is making assumptions about what will be in those announcements based on the procurement practices of the Department of Homeland Security.”

Despite the unclear answers from the White House or the government in general about these contracts and draft solicitations, immigration expert Jessica Vaughan—a former State Department official who now works for the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS)—says the solicitation draft from USCIS “seems to indicate that the president is contemplating an enormous executive action that is even more expansive than the plan that Congress rejected in the 'Gang of Eight' bill.”

Government contracting documents not available to the public, but only to government contracting vendors, obtained by Breitbart News indicate that General Dynamics is angling for that USCIS draft solicitation assuming it turns into a contracting opportunity—which would likely be worth millions of dollars for the defense contracting company. Government contracting vendors can bid for such solicitations like the USCIS one, or pretty much any government contract, on a website called “FBO” stands for “Federal Business Opportunities.”

For this specific contract for the “surge” in immigrant documents for which USCIS has circulated the draft solicitation, General Dynamics is on the “Interested Vendors List.” Much of is available to the public, but the “Interested Vendors List” lists for various contracts are not public information.

General Dynamics is on page three of the four-page document, embedded here, which shows many different other defense contractors are vying for the job.

November 14, 2014

Report: 42 percent of new Medicaid signups are immigrants, their children

Immigrants and their U.S.-born children make up more than 40 percent of new Medicaid recipients at a cost of $4.6 billion, according to an analysis of government data.
The Center for Immigration Studies, a low-immigration advocacy group, released a report early Thursday that found both legal and illegal immigrants and their minor children made up 42 percent of Medicaid growth from 2011 to last year.
Part of the increased enrollment came as a result of the new healthcare law’s expansion of Medicaid to impoverished and low-income adults.
“The high rate and significant growth in Medicaid associated with immigrants is mainly the result of a legal immigration system that admits large numbers of immigrants with relatively low-levels of education, many of whom end up poor and uninsured,” the report says. "This fact, coupled with the extensive supports we provide to low-income residents, unavoidably creates very significant costs for taxpayers.”
The report was issued as President Obama prepared to unveil his executive action to reduce deportations and allow more illegal immigrants to remain in the country.
According to CIS officials, most of the immigrants tallied in the report entered the United States legally. The report also found that two-thirds of the Medicaid recipients were the adult immigrants and not the children of immigrants born in the United States.
The report makes the case that immigrants and their children are benefiting more from Medicaid expansion than non-immigrants. The report found that 25 percent of immigrants and their children were enrolled in Medicaid, compared to 16 percent of non-immigrants and their children.
The report also determined that Medicaid expansion helped decrease the number of uninsured immigrants and their children from 28 percent in 2011 to 23 percent in 2013.
Comparatively, 11 percent of non-immigrant adults and their children were uninsured in 2013 thanks to Medicaid, compared to 13 percent in 2011, which represents a much less significant decline.
The data was culled from the U.S. Census Current Population Survey’s Annual Social and Economic Supplements.

November 13, 2014

Capture of 4 Turkish men suggests border network capable of smuggling terrorists into U.S.

Four men flew from Istanbul through Paris to Mexico City in late August, where they were met by a Turkish-speaking man who stashed them in a safe house until their Sept. 3 attempt to cross into the U.S. over the border with Mexico.

Their capture by the Border Patrol in Texas set off a fierce debate over the men’s intentions, with some members of Congress saying they were terrorist fighters. Homeland Security officials, including Secretary Jeh Johnson, countered that they were part of the Kurdish resistance which, like the U.S., is fighting the Islamic State’s advance in Iraq.

But whether the men are linked to anti-U.S. jihadists or not, they admitted to being part of a U.S.-designated terrorist group, and their ability to get into the U.S. through the southern border — they paid $8,000 each to be smuggled into Texas — details the existence of a network capable of bringing terrorists across the border.

The four men’s story, as discerned from internal September and October documents reviewed by The Washington Times, also seems to contrast with what Mr. Johnson told Congress in September, when he assured lawmakers that the four men were not considered terrorist threats to the U.S., even as behind the scenes his department proposed the four be put on terrorist watch lists.

Homeland Security spokeswoman Marsha Catron said the individuals weren’t associated with the Islamic State, which is also known by the acronyms ISIL and ISIS.

“The suggestion that individuals who have ties to ISIL have been apprehended at the southwest border is categorically false, and not supported by any credible intelligence or the facts on the ground,” Ms. Catron said. “DHS continues to have no credible intelligence to suggest terrorist organizations are actively plotting to cross the southwest border.”

She did not reply to questions about the status of the four men or why her department proposed they be put on terrorist watch lists.

As of a month ago they were being held at the South Texas Detention Facility in Pearsall, Texas.

The men initially claimed to be members of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front, known by the acronym DHKP/C. The group is a Marxist insurgency that claimed credit for a 2013 suicide bomb attack on the U.S. embassy in Ankara, Turkey’s capital, last year.

But U.S. counterterrorism officials said the men were more likely members of the PKK, or Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has been battling for Kurdish rights within Turkey for decades, though recently PKK and Turkish leaders have tried to broker a political agreement.

Both the PKK and DHKP/C are listed by the State Department as terrorist groups.

Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies, said the fact that avowed members of terrorist groups got into the U.S. shows it’s possible to sneak across a porous border.

“This incident proves what enforcement experts have always known, and that is there are existing networks in Mexico and Central America that have been set up and cultivated by a variety of terrorist organizations to enable them to move people into the United States illegally,” Ms. Vaughan said.

It’s unclear what the men were trying to do. None of them admitted to being part of a plot against the U.S., and several told investigators they were hoping to seek asylum, saying they believed they were being targeted back home by police in Turkey.

Two of the men had tried to enter the U.S. before but had been denied visas when they couldn’t prove they intended to return to Turkey, the documents showed.

Jonathan Schanzer, vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said he would be surprised if the men were part of a plot against the U.S.

Read the entire article

November 12, 2014

Why Obamacare Architect's Admission of Dishonesty Should Matter to Every American

Five years ago it was already obvious that the Obama administration and congressional Democrats were engaged in an elaborate deception, a series of them really. But back then most of the media and much of the public didn't seem to believe it. Now things have changed.
A list of administration lies might be a good topic for a book. But to just hit a few of the health care related highlights, we were told that the public option was not a Trojan horse, that it was about choice and competition. This was a bald faced lie. We were told we could keep our plans and doctors period, end of sentence. That was a lie. We were told Obamacare would reduce premiums by $2,500. That was a lie. That Obamacare was not a tax. Lie. That the VA was a model of socialized medicine. True, but not in the way they meant. All of these lies built upon one another, creating a vision of health reform that was all upside and no downside. And the Democrats barely, despite the obvious displeasure of citizens, forced it through, though only just barely.
What followed was several more years of various lies being told to adjust and protect the program. We were told, still incredible, that the White House had no idea what a disaster the launch of the federal exchange was going to be. We were told it was off to a great start, when in fact it only managed to enroll 6 people on the first day. We were told the problem with the site was too many excited customers when in fact the site crashed under just over a thousand users. We were told HHS had no enrollment targets when in fact there was an enrollment target memo. We were told the figures on enrollment were not available when in fact HHS was collecting data from insurers. We were told the rollout was just like the one in Massachusetts when in fact it was not. We were told the rollout was just likeMedicare part D when in fact it was not at all. We were not told about a hidden Obamacare exemption that could have applied to almost anyone (it was finally added to the website after a WSJ report about it). On and on the administration and its allies in the media just lied about what was happening.
And slowly, slowly under the weight of all these lies and lies to cover up other lies, people got the message. The government isn't being honest with us. They're just saying whatever they need to say at that moment. And, despite the fact that the major media didn't touch a lot of these individual stories, word still got around as if by osmosis. The President's poll numbers started to go down and Obamacare's numbers went down or, at best, never went up.
And now, with the statement by Jonathan Gruber we may have reached the ne plus ultra of statements confirming this administration's essential dishonesty. Here you have one of the consummate Obamacare insiders--cited 71 times in DNC emails in 2009 alone-- saying on video that the bill was designed to fool stupid voters, in fact to fool them by fooling the non-partisan CBO which is supposed to be an honest broker.
Incredibly, even at this point, there are some, like MSNBC's Ronan Farrow and Washington Post writer Jose DelReal willing to suggest we're just missing the nuance. Somehow this plain admission of dishonesty isn't about what Gruber said or about what it tells us about the administration he worked closely with for years (even on the HHS payroll), it's about missing context.
This is standard operating procedure for the far left but unlike 5 years ago, I don't think many people are buying it these days. It has taken a long time, but Gruber's embarrassing admission may be the last one some people needed to see what has really been going on all along. What his statement shows is that if there's any possible political advantage in doing so, this administration is going to lie to your face. And that applies not just to Obamacare but to everything.

November 11, 2014

Wind credit could roil House GOP tensions

Including a wind energy incentive in a tax extenders package during the congressional lame-duck session threatens to drag the simmering civil war between conservatives and establishment Republicans into the spotlight, potentially complicating the congenial tone the GOP hopes to strike as it takes over both the House and the Senate in January.

Conservatives want House GOP leaders to abandon the production tax credit for renewable energy that lapsed last year. The incentive primarily aids wind power through a 2.3-cent per kilowatt-hour credit awarded to power producers. But Republican leaders in both chambers appear willing to extend a suite of tax credits that includes the wind incentive to "clear the deck" before the next Congress so that lawmakers can focus on overhauling the federal tax code.

"If they do just a straight-up tax extender package and put in the [tax credit], I think you could see it pass in the current House and Senate. But you're going to have defections from the Right," an aide for a conservative House Republican told the Washington Examiner. "It's an issue that draws [internal GOP tensions] to the front."

With Republicans poised to take control of the Senate, some of the party's rank and file on Capitol Hill want to use that as leverage to get a better deal on the extenders in the lame duck or address them on their own terms in January. But business groups are pushing House leadership to move quickly on tax extensions, some of which lapsed this year, to give the private sector certainty.

Many conservatives on and off Capitol Hill agree that there isn't enough opposition to shoot down a tax extenders package, though there's some outstanding tactical questions about whether to address them in the lame duck or when Republicans control Congress in January.

The energy tax credit in particular would underscore longstanding schisms between conservatives and business-oriented members in the GOP if it's included in a tax extenders package, sources said. Fifty-four House members signed an August letter led by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., imploring House GOP leadership to nix the 22-year-old credit. And last week, 66 conservative groups pressed House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., likely the next majority leader, to kill it as well.

"[That letter] was meant to be exactly what it said — don't give away something to [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid [D-Nev.] that the groups that spent millions helping you get the majority are fighting," Tom Pyle, president of the conservative American Energy Alliance, told the Examiner. His group has taken a prominent role in killing the wind credit.

Conservative groups have increasingly targeted the wind production tax credit in recent years. They say it is a market-distorting subsidy that prices out coal- and nuclear-fired generation and that "hides the cost," in Pyle's words, of some of the Obama administration's climate change regulations.

The credit garnered attention heading into 2013, when a key change allowed wind power producers to collect the credit for up to 10 years as long as wind turbines were "under construction" — which means having 3 percent of its cost paid for — rather than already producing power, by the end of the year. That alteration came with a $12 billion price tag, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The wind industry, for its part, notes that the credit leverages millions of dollars in private-sector investment and that its supply chain supports jobs in nearly every state.

Groups aligned with the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers have aggressively ramped up lobbying in recent months, as have some electric utilities with sizable nuclear fleets, to press for an end to the tax credit, said an industry source. A group of about 20 to 30 House Republicans will stand against the wind tax credit on conservative principles, a group that could grow if the measure is put on the floor for a vote, the source said.

"If and when it hits the sort of echo chamber — that changes everything, too, when that 20 becomes 60," the source said.

But the credit also enjoys support from many Republicans, particularly those in windy states. It was first introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who continues to defend it. In the House, Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., has been a vocal proponent.

That's partly why the credit likely won't derail any tax extenders package. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., is still pushing his legislation that would extend tax provisions for two years, spokesman Keith Chu told the Examiner.

Dysfunction within the House GOP caucus, stemming partly from disagreement over the PTC, also could leave the lower chamber simply voting for whatever the Senate chamber sends its way.

"They want a 'kumbaya' moment," said the House GOP aide. "I think they're going to want to show that with passing something right before taking over Senate that everything can be bipartisan. But that's not going to work with conservatives."

November 10, 2014

Sharyl Attkisson: America Is ‘Being Manipulated’ By The Media

Americans are “being manipulated” according to a 21 year CBS correspondent who has written a new book, “Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington“.

Sharyl Attkisson, who rejects having any political allegiance while focusing on the truth, discusses here how powerful, hidden special interests in the media increasingly hide the truth and homogenize American news. The media, to her, seem nonplussed by government privacy invasions, even when it happens to themselves.

In Part 1 of our exclusive video interview with Attkisson, she tells us how she found and reported the sophisticated, remote intrusions in her own computer and how she used her own forensic specialists to confirm the government’s intrusions prior to public awareness of similar offenses to media outlets and reporters. She even identified that someone planted classified documents in her computer, seemingly to frame her or her sources.

In this exclusive video, she says she was “outraged” and finds the actions “chilling and dangerous” to a free press and civil liberties.

Responding to how her employer reacted, Attkisson seemed surprised by the lack of alarm by CBS, who, she thinks, should have worried about others in their system who may have been compromised.

As for her peers in the media, Attkisson courageously speaks almost as a whistleblower when she says others are worried but may be unable to speak the truth and keep their jobs.

She believes there is an “odd complacency” and “tacit acceptance” in Washington, D.C. that the government is monitoring your emails and listening to your phone — even among Members of Congress.

When asked about attacks from the ideological left and their allies, who are pushing back at her efforts to expose how the news is resembling propaganda, Attkisson says the attacks are ineffective — as it only reinforces that she is on the right path. She says their effort is likely designed to influence uninformed readers or risk-averse, weary editors who often succumb to censoring the news under pressure and criticism from cultural elites in and outside of government.

Part 1 of the two series concludes with her advice to citizens once they learn of how the media is operating. The journalist advises working hard to get to the truth and not sitting back when you are outraged.

WATCH Part 2 of our interview of Sharyl Attkisson next Sunday, November 16th, when she discusses Benghazi and more.

November 7, 2014

GOP official goes off on NAACP for ignoring Mia Love and Tim Scott

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People addressed the Nov. 4 midterm elections this week in a statement that failed to make any mention of the historic wins of Congresswoman-elect Mia Love, R-Utah, and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.
Love is not only the first Haitian-American elected to Congress, but she is also the first black woman running as a Republican to be elected to Congress. Meanwhile, Sen. Scott’s victory on Tuesday makes him the first African-American senator to win an election in the South since the Reconstruction.

GOP deputy press secretary Raffi Williams responded Thursday to the NAACP'S statment, issuing a series of tweets criticizing the organization for its failure to mark Love’s and Scott’s major wins.

“If the [NAACP] was a truly bipartisan org thay [sic] would support all blacks not just dem Blacks,” he said in a tweet. “I wish an org like the [NAACP] would support black ppl of ideologies. Unfortunately they are proving how out of date they are.”

The NAACP “should support all black ppl who are working to affect positive change in their communities. But they don’t,” he added.

Williams complained in another tweet that the organization "wont celebrate black republicans."

The NAACP statement reads as follows:

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is committed to leading the effort alongside other civil and human rights organizations and our newly elected Congress to pass a robust Voting Rights Act Amendment.
Equal access to voting remains paramount as numerous reports of voting irregularities emerged during the midterm elections yesterday. Malfunctioning voting machines, voters turned away because of erroneous voter ID laws, missing names of registered voters and long lines were among the major challenges that the NAACP fielded along with our Election Protection partners via the 1-866-Our-Vote hotline. We assert that passage of a robust Voting Rights Act Amendment is essential for the states previously protected under section 5 as well as for all Americans for the sanctity of our republic. We urge the newly elected Congress to join us in ensuring that all registered voters in our great country have unfettered access to the ballot box.
Cornell William Brooks, President and CEO of the NAACP.
“This election was not about who won but the rather the citizens who lost the right to participate. This first election post the Shelby vs. Holder decision resulted in problems in every single state previously protected by the Voting Rights Act. For 49 years, these states were singled out because they had a history of discriminating against American voters. The Election Protection Hotline we manned with other concerned organizations fielded over 18,000 calls yesterday, many in those same states previously protected by the VRA. As we move forward — it is imperative that our newly elected Congress work with the NAACP and our partners to pass Voting Rights Act Amendment legislation that assures that all Americans have the franchise — our very democracy depends on it.”