An Assault on Freedom of the Press

The firestorm commenced by the revelation of the execution of a search warrant on the personal email server of my Fox News colleague James Rosen continues to rage, and the conflagration engulfing the First Amendment continues to burn; and it is the Department of Justice itself that is fanning the flames.

As we know from recent headlines, in the spring of 2010, the DOJ submitted an affidavit to a federal judge in Washington, D.C., in which an FBI agent swore under oath that Rosen was involved in a criminal conspiracy to release classified materials, and in the course of that conspiracy, he aided and abetted a State Department vendor in actually releasing them. The precise behavior that the FBI and the DOJ claimed was criminal was Rosen’s use of “flattery” and his appeals to the “vanity” of Stephen Wen-Ho Kim, the vendor who had a security clearance. The affidavit persuaded the judge to issue a search warrant for Rosen’s personal email accounts that the feds had sought.

The government’s theory of the case was that the wording of Rosen’s questions to Kim facilitated Kim’s release of classified materials, and Rosen therefore bore some of the criminal liability for Kim’s answers to Rosen’s questions. Kim has since been indicted for the release of classified information (presumably to Rosen), a charge that he vigorously denies. Rosen has not been charged, and the DOJ has said it does not intend to do so.

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Nullification for Dummies

Reading Steve Benen’s article Nullification must never be on the table, I was left trying to decide: is Steve an idiot or a liar?

What?

Too harsh?

I’ll let you decide.

“Not to put too fine a point on this, but there’s nothing to discuss — state lawmakers can’t pick and choose which federal laws they’ll honor,”  or so says Steve.

Well I guess it’s settled then. “There’s nothing to discuss.” Nullification is a no no!

What — you don’t buy his argument?

Well, neither do I.

When I saw his article, I was drawn to the picture of Abraham Lincoln standing in front of a Union Army tent with the caption “The last time we had a debate over nullification.”

Intrigued I read on. “For context, it’s worth remembering that there was a rather spirited debate in the mid-19th century over whether states could choose to ignore federal laws. The debate was resolved by a little something called the U.S. Civil War — those who argued in support of nullification lost.”

At that point, I alternated between laughter and complete disbelief. How could anyone make such a ridiculous statement? Steve should know those who argued in support of nullification WON!

A history lesson for Steve from the “South Carolina’s Declaration of Causes” — “The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, have enacted laws which either nullify the Acts of Congress or render useless any attempt to execute them.”

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Why Isn’t the Murder of an American Boy an Impeachable Offense?

by Jacob Hornberger, FFF

Article 2, Section 4, of the U.S. Constitution reads as follows: The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

In 1998, President Bill Clinton was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice for matters arising out of the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal.

If perjury and obstruction of justice constitute high crimes or misdemeanors, then doesn’t it seem rather obvious that the murder of an American citizen by the president would also constitute a high crime or misdemeanor, especially if the citizen is a child?

That’s precisely what President Obama, acting through U.S. national-security state agents, did on October 14, 2011. He murdered a 16-year-old American boy who was traveling in Yemen. The boy was Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, who was the son of accused terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki, who the CIA had assassinated two weeks before.

Why did President Obama and the CIA or the military kill Abdulrahman? The president, the CIA, and the Pentagon have all chosen to remain silent on the matter, refusing to even acknowledge that they killed the boy. But White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs implicitly provided the justification: “I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father if they are truly concerned about the well being of their children. I don’t think becoming an al Qaeda jihadist terrorist is the best way to go about doing your business.”

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How to Tell If the Government Has Taken over Health Care

by Michael Cannon, CATO Institute From the Washington Post: Hedge fund executives and other investors are increasingly interested in the timing and nature of health-policy decisions in Washington because they directly affect the profits and stock prices of pharmaceutical, insurance, hospital and managed-care companies… [Former Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] director Thomas Scully, who served during the Bush…

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Constitutional Sheriffs Convention Focus: States’ Rights, 2nd Amendment

For two days beginning on Friday, May 31, the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA) is holding a convention at the Ameristar Casino Resort and Spa in St. Charles, Missouri (a suburb of St. Louis).

As explained on the group’s website, the purpose of the convention is “to equip sheriffs, peace officers and public officials with the necessary information and public support to carry out their duties in accordance with their Oaths of Office.”

The CSPOA’s two-fold mission is to save America and to get enough people involved in that fight to make the dream a reality. The organization’s website describes precisely how they propose to achieve this lofty and laudable goal:

The answers lie within our grasp and come from the foundation of our country. The principles are embodied within the Declaration of Independence and outlined in the Constitution.

Yes, America is in deep, deep trouble. The good news is that there is hope and my [CSPOA founder, former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack's] victory at the US Supreme Court proves that it only takes a few to stand to make monumental changes. We do not have to stand by and watch while America is destroyed from within. If our counties, cities, and states and all local officers keep their oaths to protect us from tyranny, we can win this battle to take our country back.

This is our plan, our goal and our quest. We are forming the Constitutional Peace Officers Association which will unite all public servants and sheriffs, to keep their word to uphold, defend, protect, preserve, and obey the Constitutions of the United States of America. We already have hundreds of police, sheriffs, and other officials who have expressed a desire to be a part of this Holy Cause of Liberty.

We are going to train and vet them all, state by state, to understand and enforce the constitutionally protected Rights of the people they serve, with an emphasis on State Sovereignty and local autonomy. Then these local governments will issue our new Declaration to the Federal Government regarding the abuses that we will no longer tolerate or accept. Said declaration will be enforced by our Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers. In short, the CSPOA will be the army to set our nation free. This will guarantee this movement remains both peaceful and effective.

To help in the arming of these sheriffs and peace officers with the information they need to stand as the last and best line of defense against the federal government’s near-constant assault on liberty and local law enforcement, the convention will feature speeches from an impressive variety of lawmen, lawmakers, lawyers, and constitutional scholars.

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On Indefinite Detention, California Assembly Tells Washington DC, Not Here!

California Liberty Preservation ActSACRAMENTO, Cal. (May 30, 2013) – Today, the California Assembly voted to approve a bill that will help render toothless the federal “indefinite detention” powers under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  The bill, by Assemblymember Tim Donnelly, was previously passed unanimously by both the Public Safety and Appropriations Committees and now moves on to the State Senate for concurrence.  The final vote was 71-1 (roll call here)

California residents are strongly encouraged to contact their state senators immediately to request support for AB351.  (contact info here)

If passed into law, AB351 would make it state policy to reject “indefinite detention” powers from the federal government.   It reads, in part:

It is the policy of this state to refuse to provide material support for or to participate in any way with the implementation within this state of any federal law that purports to authorize indefinite detention of a person within California. [emphasis added]

This language of AB351 goes far beyond what has been considered in most other states, which focus solely on indefinite detention powers under the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and nothing else.  Donnelly’s legislation broadens the scope by recognizing that indefinite detention should not be complied with no matter what federal law is used to justify it.  Donnelly confirmed this broad scope, “AB351 will prevent California from implementing indefinite detention for any reason.”

This would make a HUGE dent in any federal effort to detain without due process in California.  As Judge Andrew Napolitano has said recently, such widespread noncompliance can make a federal law “nearly impossible to enforce” (video here). Quite simply, the federal government is going to have an extremely difficult time – at best – carrying out indefinite detention in California without the assistance of California.

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Book Review: Reclaiming the American Revolution

After lying dormant for the better part of 150 years, nullification has been gaining momentum in recent years.  My own awareness of nullification, the idea that the states have the constitutional right to block federal enforcement of unconstitutional acts, was originally almost wholly due to the work of historian Thomas Woods, who literally wrote the book on Nullification in 2010.  As great as that book was, Woods’s work was preceded by six years by another author who offered the first book-length treatment of nullification in a century.

This was William Watkins’ 2004 book, Reclaiming the American Revolution.  Watkins, an attorney who specializes in constitutional law, opens his book by taking the reader through the events that led to the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798, authored by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison respectively.  These resolutions were a response to the Alien and Sedition Acts, a series of unconstitutional laws passed earlier in 1798.

After laying out the historical background for these laws, including the so-called Quasi-War with France, Watkins discusses some of the ways that they were used to shut down opposition to President John Adams and his Federalist party.  The most notable instance of prosecution under the Acts was that of Benjamin Franklin Bache who, besides being the grandson of Benjamin Franklin, was also a journalist who used his newspaper to criticize the Federalists.  Bache’s tragic story begins with his arrest for violating the Sedition Act and subsequent death from yellow fever while awaiting trial.  Other stories of prosecution under the Acts, while not as tragic, are equally as troubling in their violations of the First and Tenth Amendments.

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Should Murderers and Rapists Get Food Stamps?

Last week, the Senate accepted by unanimous consent an amendment to the pending farm bill that would ban convicted murderers, rapists, and pedophiles from receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (a.k.a. food stamps). Introduced by Louisiana Republican David Vitter, the amendment has received condemnation from the left and at least one round of applause on the right.

My initial reaction was “A few undesirables will lose a taxpayer-financed handout—so what?” But the more I thought about the amendment, the less I cared for it. For starters, the amendment appears to be politically motivated. Vote against it and a Senator can expect to see a negative campaign add from his or her next opponent. That’s probably why the amendment was agreed to by unanimous consent instead of being formally voted on in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

More importantly, what does it accomplish? In terms of budgetary savings, it probably won’t save taxpayers much money. In addition to doing little to curb the size of government, it does nothing to rein in the federal government’s scope. I believe that it is not a proper role of the federal government to fund and/or administer anti-poverty programs. At most, such concerns should be the domain of state and local governments. Ideally, poverty relief would be completely handled by charities and other private organizations. The Vitter amendment, however, is just another example of the Beltway’s one-size-fits-all mentality. 

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U.S. Senate short-circuits the Constitution on taxes, again

The Constitution is exceptionally clear on the origin of all taxes. “All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives,” not the Senate (Article I, Sec. 7). When is the House going to protect its powers from the Senate’s intrusive attempts to steal its power? Recently the Senate passed the “Marketplace Fairness Act” by a vote of 69-27, an Internet sales tax, giving states the authority to require on-line retailers, with no physical presence in those states, to collect sales taxes. Americans will pay more taxes with this bill than without. It is a bill for raising revenue and it did not originate in the House as mandated by the Constitution.

To put the Senate in its constitutional place the House should never take this bill up. Instead, if they feel such legislation is needful, they should originate their own bill after which invite the Senate to take a new bill through the committee process and to the floor once again. I might also suggest not doing so for a year or two just to make the message stronger. “You are infringing on our constitutional jurisdiction.” If the Senate will not do so, the House should consider the bill non-existent. Under no circumstances should they accept this bill as appropriate action on the part of their sister law-making body. Retailers, on the other hand, should refuse to pay this tax and challenge it in the courts on the constitutional grounds cited above.

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Off to Rick Perry’s Desk: Bill to Nullify Warrantless Drone Spying

AUSTIN, Texas – A Texas bill that would nullify warrantless drone spying gained final approval this week and now heads to Gov. Rick Perry’s desk for his signature.

HB912 would virtually eliminate all warrantless drone spying in the Lone Star State and criminalizes all drone use outside of carefully prescribed parameters.

The Texas Privacy Act states that “a person commits an offense if the person uses or authorizes the use of an unmanned vehicle or aircraft to capture an image without the express consent of the person who owns or lawfully occupies the real property captured in the image.” The offender would be charged with a Class C misdemeanor if they were caught violating this part of the law.

The bill then outlines acceptable application of drones, including pursuant to a criminal warrant.

Data gathered by law enforcement illegally ‘may not be used as evidence in any criminal or juvenile proceeding, civil action, or administrative proceeding’ according to the bill and ‘is not subject to discovery, subpoena, or other means of legal compulsion for its release.’ This incentivizes police to not misuse the drone technology unless they wish to risk jeopardizing their entire investigation.

House passed the bill by a vote of 128-11 on May 10, and the Senate gave a slightly amended version its approval 29-1 a week later. HB912 then went to a conference committee and both chambers approved the final version.

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