DHS Secretaries Warn of Increased Jihadi Threat + More – Daily Digest

Posted on Tue 05/12/2015 by


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“[T]he most productive system of finance will always be the least burdensome.” —James Madison, Federalist No. 35, 1788


DHS Secretaries Warn of Increased Jihadi Threat

How’s Barack Obama doing on the counterterrorism front? Not very good, according to his own DHS secretary. Jeh Johnson warned Sunday that the U.S. faces an increased threat from so-called “lone-wolf” terrorists, who he says could “strike at any moment.” He added, “We’re very definitely in a new environment, because of ISIL’s effective use of social media, the Internet, which has the ability to reach into the homeland and possibly inspire others. Because of the use of the Internet, we could have little or no notice in advance of an independent actor attempting to strike.” Tom Ridge, the first DHS secretary, agreed, saying, “The threats are much more serious and much more complicated than on Sept. 12, 2001.”

But it’s worth repeating what Mark Alexander wrote: “Describing Islamist assailants as ‘lone wolf’ actors or ‘radicalized’ constitutes a lethal misunderstanding of the Jihadi threat.” That’s because “these attacks and those to come were and will be directly tied to worldwide Jihad by way of the Qur’an, the foundational fabric linking all Islamist violence.” As long as Obama continues to be more concerned about the Crusades than radical Islamic terrorism, however, this threat won’t be effectively countered.

Saudis Snub Obama Summit

What happens when a president holds a summit and no one comes? That wasn’t entirely the case with Barack Obama’s Middle East powwow at Camp David this week, but four of the six invited leaders declined to attend, including one particularly notable absence: New Saudi King Salman, who took power earlier this year. The New York Times reports, “Both countries insisted on Monday that the king’s absence was not a snub, even as it was hard to ignore four powerful factors that have led to rising tensions between the two nations: the administration’s pursuit of a nuclear accord with Iran, the rise of the Islamic State in the region, the regional unrest that came to be known as the Arab Spring and the transformation of world energy markets.” At least two of those things could be translated as Obama mucking things up with an ally, and the Times might add Obama’s Yemen “success” story to that list since the Saudis are trying to stop Iranian terrorist proxies there. His foolish nuclear deal with Iran even has the Saudis promising to pursue nuclear weapons themselves as a deterrent. Obama might be content with increasing Iranian hegemony in the Middle East, but the Saudis are not. And they know that as long as Obama is “leading from behind,” they’re on their own.

Forget Taxes, Obama’s Regulations Are Strangling the Economy

The wild creation of regulations by the Obama administration has stalled economic growth and made the nation’s rulemaking the responsibility of unelected bureaucrats. Two reports released this week show the staggering extent of how debilitating these regulations are. Every year, the Competitive Enterprise Institute releases its report on the nation’s “Ten Thousand Commandments.” This year, Clyde Wayne Crews, the vice president for policy for CEI, reports that the regulatory burden averages out to $14,976 per American household. If America’s regulations were a country, it would have the 10th largest economy, beating out India. Barack Obama has tied the country in red tape because, while 224 laws were passed in 2014, the government plastered up 3,554 regulations. Furthermore, “A problem with cost-benefit analysis is that it relies primarily on agency self-reporting. Having agencies audit their own rules is like asking students to grade their own exams. Regulators are disinclined to emphasize when a rule’s benefits do not justify its costs,” CEI’s study says.

These regulations make the federal deficit unmanageable, and The Wall Street Journal pins the problem of America’s stalled economy on too much regulation in the system. Meanwhile, a Heritage Foundation study finds that Obama’s major regulations cost Americans $80 billion a year — and there’s more regs in the works, such as another redesign of the light bulb. To fix the problem, Congress needs to insist that it is the lawmaking body of the country, not nameless bureaucrats in the executive branch.

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The Trouble With the NSA’s Haystack

By Paul Albaugh

Terrorism has again become one of the foremost concerns for Americans today. People are generally worried about the increased jihadi threat and look to government to ensure safety and security. While the Constitution certainly empowers the federal government to provide for the common defense of our nation, including counterterrorism measures, what it should not do is infringe on the rights of American citizens — specifically, the Fourth Amendment.

Last week, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the National Security Agency’s massive telephone metadata collection efforts are not authorized by the Patriot Act. However, the court did not rule the NSA’s actions are unconstitutional and it did not issue an order for the NSA to stop its data collection because the Patriot Act’s Section 215, which the NSA cites as its authority, is set to expire June 1. In other words, Congress must act soon anyway, and a vote is expected by May 22.

That the NSA is collecting phone records on all Americans may not seem terribly important — especially the more the public becomes accustomed to the idea — but it’s a critical issue. Like so many other things during this administration’s tenure, it pertains to the very real potential, if not actual, abuse of power.

Recall that the Patriot Act was passed following the September 11 terrorist attacks. The law was sold as a necessary counterterrorism measure to provide for better security. By and large, the law is a good one, aimed in the right places. But as with so many other laws, sometimes the consequences are less freedom and more government overreach.

There has already been squabbling in Congress over the NSA’s data collection, and the Patriot Act debate is sure to resemble a hornet’s nest. It will also pit Republicans against each other.

Already, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who had hoped to avoid defending the NSA, announced his unwavering support for the Patriot Act. He touted Section 215 in particular as “an important tool to prevent the next terrorist attack.” He also said, “Section 215 helps us find a needle in the haystack. But under the USA Freedom Act [which ends bulk metadata collection], there might not be a haystack at all.” He is hoping for a short-term extension that will allow the Senate to negotiate reforms.

Joining McConnell will be several other Republicans, led by the “nobody out-hawks us” John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Graham is expected to announce his candidacy for president on June 1, and may very well use his support of the Patriot Act as a launch pad for his national-security-based campaign.

Meanwhile, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), another 2016 presidential candidate, staunchly opposes the NSA surveillance program. In fact, after the Second Circuit’s ruling, he declared, “Congress should immediately repeal the Patriot Act provisions and pass my Fourth Amendment Preservation and Protection Act.” He intends to mount a filibuster against reauthorizing the Patriot Act.

Paul won’t be alone, as other conservatives are likely to join the fight and at least one Democrat, Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon, has voiced opposition to the NSA surveillance program as well.

In 2013, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), chief author of the Patriot Act, explained the difference between the law itself and the NSA’s interpretation: “This is the difference between using a rifle shot to get the phone records of somebody that we have great suspicion is involved in terrorist activity [and] using a blunderbuss to grab the whole haystack and to try to find the needle in it.” His metaphor wasn’t the best, but he clearly never intended the NSA’s broad reading of Section 215.

After all, as Reason’s Jacob Sullum notes, “Usually when someone says a proposal is like looking for a needle in a haystack, he is not recommending it; he is suggesting the idea is misguided and bound to fail.”

While we don’t like to see GOP infighting, at least they will be wrestling over an issue that pertains to the Constitution.

With all of the Obama administration’s scandals and abuse of power, why should Congress trust that the NSA surveillance program won’t be abused for political means? There is certainly a place for tough counterterrorism measures, but such sweeping collection of phone records when there is no relevance or reasonable grounds to believe a call is linked to terrorism is unwarranted, unconstitutional and unwanted by those of us who cherish Liberty. The Patriot Act has its place, but the balance between Liberty and security is paramount.



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Stephen Moore: “What can be done to rescue families trapped in an inner-city culture of violence, despair and joblessness? There are no easy answers, but down the road from Baltimore in Washington, D.C., an education program is giving children in poor neighborhoods a big lift up. The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which George W. Bush signed into law in 2004, has so far funded private school tuition for nearly 5,000 students, 95 percent of whom are African-American. … These families have now pulled together to brace for a David vs. Goliath fight to save the program. For the seventh straight year, President Obama has proposed eliminating this relatively tiny scholarship fund, which at $20 million accounts for a microscopic 0.0005 percent of the $4 trillion federal budget. … [W]hen the Opportunity Scholarship Program was created, the feds gave $20 million for the vouchers and an extra $20 million for the public schools. This meant more money for the public schools — and unionized teachers still opposed the program. … The left’s rote response to rotten schools is to call for more money, but the D.C. scholarship program shows that a quality education can be had for less money. … Democrats say they want to make the 2016 election about income inequality, but they stand united in opposition to one of the most effective ways of reducing the gap between rich and poor: better education.”


Insight: “Of all the so-called natural human rights that have ever been invented, liberty is least likely to be cheap and is never free of cost.” —American writer Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988)

Upright: “Unfortunately, Eric Holder, the previous attorney general, had a war on police. He spent more time investigating police departments than he did investigating criminals.” —former NYPD Commissioner Howard Safir

Dezinformatsia: “Senator [Cruz], people are really interested in you and your identity. … Do you have a favorite Cuban food? Do you like Cuban music? Do you have a favorite Cuban singer? I wanted to give you the opportunity to welcome your colleague Senator Sanders to the race, and I’d like you to do it, if you would, en Español.” —Bloomberg News’ Mark Halperin race baiting Ted Cruz (Halperin later reneged, claiming, “In no way was I asking Senator Cruz to ‘prove’ he was an ‘authentic’ Latino.”)

Demo-gogues: “We’re going to have to tackle climate change. We’ve got some folks in the center right now who think because we get a snowy day, they bring in snowballs into the chambers and think that’s science. I’m not a scientist, but I know a lot of scientists. I can understand science. And what the science says is that our planet is warming.” —Barack Obama (“After all, you hang out with scientists all day. You know… scientists like Bill Nye and Neil Tyson. Just because one is a washed up host of children’s shows and the other is a cosmologist who seems a bit out of his lane when speaks about climatology, don’t let that bother you.” —Hot Air’s Jazz Shaw)

Race bait: “The road ahead is not going to be easy. It never is, especially for folks like you and me… We’ve both felt the sting of those daily slights throughout our entire lives. The folks who crossed the street in fear of their safety. The clerk who kept a close eye on us in all those department stores. The people at formal events who assumed we were help.” —Michelle Obama

And last… “Hillary would be indicted already If the press used the same standard of circumstantial evidence against her it’s using against Tom Brady.” —Twitter satirist @hale_razor

Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis!
Managing Editor Nate Jackson

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