Truthing Up: News from Around the Web

Civil Liberties Latest News

Welcome to Truthing Up, your re-truthing stop for the truth of government overreach, abuse, and civil liberties violations from around the web.  Truth Up will be a regular feature here on Liberty Pulse, and a reliable means for you to get an overview of the government’s advances against your liberties and your bottom line.

Zero Hedge has detailed the NSA’s efforts to include its code into Google’s Android OS, which runs three-quarters of the world’s smartphones. The code, which has been christened Security Enhancements for Android, was created by the NSA to prevent hackers and marketers from gaining access to personal or corporate data on a smartphone.  Agency spokesman Vanee Vines outlined the NSA’s plans to include the code on every device that runs Android, from phones, tablets, televisions, cars, and other devices.  Vines would neither confirm nor deny the code’s role in the NSA’s PRISM program.

The Obama Administration has rolled out a new initiative, the Insider Threat Program, to identify and intercept “high-risk persons or behaviors” based on behavioral profiling techniques.  The program is designed to identify future leakers and prevent leaks, but the science behind the profiling techniques is largely unproven.  Additionally, the program requires federal bureaucrats and contractors to report their co-workers, and if they fail to report, they could face criminal charges.  Of course, every leak in recent history has its genesis in government abuse, overreach, and unconstitutional conduct, so the Obama Administration could simply choose to limit leaks by operating within the limits of federal law and the Constitution.

Speaking of leaks and Android, Fox News is reporting on a new Android app that enables users to mark the home addresses of gun owners they consider to be unsafe.  The app has received more than 700 one-star reviews from outraged Second Amendment advocates and gun owners, who feel that the app is a violation of their privacy and potentially unsafe due to the fact that it enables criminals to know where the guns are and aren’t.  The developer of the Gun Geo Marker, Brett Stalbaum, who is also a lecturer with the Visual Arts department at the University of California, claims he has received threats over the app.  He characterizes the app as a “reasonable measure” and further claims 90 percent of the American people want “common sense, constitutional measures to improve gun safety.”  What the government can’t do because of the Fourth Amendment is something Stalbaum wants private citizens to do.

In the continuity department, the Senate is set to confirm former Deputy Attorney General James Comey as head of the FBI. Comey is somewhat infamous for signing a memo authorizing waterboarding under Attorney General John Ashcroft, even though Comey answered in the affirmative when asked by Senator Patrick Leahy whether waterboarding was torture.  Comey also defended mass spying programs, indefinite detention, and voiced no real issue with the continuation or expansion of these programs going forward.  Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Speaking of the FBI, author Trevor Aaronson has examined FBI statistics on foiled terrorist attacks, and his conclusions are startling: just 1% of the terrorists caught by the FBI were real. Nearly all of the individuals charged with terrorism-related crimes  were created by the FBI via sting operations.  The suspects had no actual connection to Al-Qaeda or any other terrorist group, and as Aaronson points out, the FBI rather than Al-Qaeda is providing the means for acts of terror on U.S. soil via their sting operations.

Aaronson points out the 500 defendants charged with federal crimes involving terrorism, then narrows it down to the 150 caught in sting operations, to find just five people who were actually connected to international terrorists.  Aaronson’s research led him to the conclusion that the FBI targets the poor and mentally ill in their sting operations, then argues that the suspects were predisposed to terror due to their Youtube viewing habits in order to defeat an entrapment defense.

Our final story tonight comes to us courtesy of Francis Fukuyama, whose recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal entitled “The Middle Class Revolution” outlines the emergence of a middle class defined by education rather than mere money.  This middle class is increasingly politically active, and determined to participate in politics by any means available. Fukuyama ties his thesis to the events unfolding in North Africa and the Middle East, as well as Europe and the United States:

The U.S. and Europe are experiencing sluggish growth and persistently high unemployment, which for young people in countries like Spain reaches 50%. In the rich world, the older generation also has failed the young by bequeathing them crushing debts. No politician in the U.S. or Europe should look down complacently on the events unfolding in the streets of Istanbul and São Paulo. It would be a grave mistake to think, “It can’t happen here.”

It already is, in the form of the Tea Party and various patriot groups, along with an increasingly active liberal base.  When the recent acts of the NSA and corporate America’s compliance with government spying programs is set in this context, along with the revelations of IRS targeting of political groups applying for 501(c)(4) status, the middle class revolution in America is coming into focus.

That’s your truth-up for tonight.