Thomas R. Eddlem
The Eastern European nation of Slovakia agreed to take the last three ethnic Uighur prisoners who have been detained at Guantanamo since 2002, according to the Associated Press December 31. The Uighurs, ethnic Turkish Muslims from China, were innocent religious pilgrims caught up in the dragnet during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2002.
The German magazine Der Spiegel revealed extraordinary details about the NSA's TAO program, which is tasked with “pervasive” penetration of the Internet and global telephone traffic. This most aggressive division of the U.S. government's National Security Agency directly hacks into computers and telephones and is focused upon foreign governments, perhaps differing from other NSA programs that also harvest the data of American citizens.
The interventionist establishment is terrified that a reinvigorated Tea Party may prevent new unnecessary wars and foreign military interventions in the coming years, according to an article in Democracy magazine. The article — “R.I.P. Republican Internationalism” by Council on Foreign Relations President Emeritus Leslie H. Gelb and Michael Kramer — frets that “a common thread emerges: a Tea Party-wide reluctance to engage with the world, except for those they view as true U.S. friends, such as Israel.”
Southern District of New York Judge William H. Pauley III declared in a December 27 decision that the NSA surveillance program — which draws in every American's telephone records without a warrant or probable cause — was “legal” even though it “imperils the civil liberties of every citizen.” The decision contrasts sharply with a decision two weeks ago by Washington, D.C. District Court Judge Richard J. Leon that termed the warrantless surveillance program unconstitutional and “almost Orwellian.”
After six months of silence, National Security Administration (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden has begun speaking publicly about how he “won” a debate over massive warrantless surveillance of Americans by their government. Earlier this year, the former Booz-Allen-Hamilton contractor for the NSA provided reporter Glenn Greenwald with documentation of universal surveillance of Americans' telephone records by the NSA without the constitutionally required warrant and probable cause under the Fourth Amendment.
Texas U.S. Senator and Republican Minority Whip John Cornyn will face a wild four-way primary battle, featuring constitutionalist-minded Representative Steve Stockman and two other primary opponents. “The struggle here is very clearly between big government crony capitalism from Cornyn and small government populism from Stockman,” former National Republican Liberty Caucus Chairman Dave Nalle told The New American of the March 4 primary.
President Obama has pledged to sign into law the Murray-Ryan budget deal formally known as the “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013.” The bill would increase discretionary spending limits over levels set by the sequester law signed two years ago, fund ObamaCare, and increase taxes — baggage “fees” for airline traffic.
The IRS has proposed new regulations that would carve out an exception to federal rules on tax-exempt organizations, regulations that would essentially ban conservative tax-exempt educational organizations from informing voters about federal candidates' voting records before elections.
House Liberty Caucus Chairman Justin Amash (R-Mich.) aptly summed up the bipartisan budget deal being pushed by House Speaker John Boehner in this quip on his Facebook page: “Republicans will agree to more spending, and in exchange, Republicans will get higher taxes.”
American high-school students scored "average" in a standardized test created by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, when compared with the rest of the developed world. American students scored below average in math (26th among 34 OECD countries), and average in reading (17th) and science (21st).