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Author Topic: Obama: Corruption, Deception, Dishonesty, Deceit and Promises Broken  (Read 89836 times)
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Landslide Coming?


« Reply #1875 on: May 23, 2013, 08:40:07 AM »

sooooo....whats up with that bet you laid out a couple of days ago?

is thats thing a go?
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« Reply #1876 on: May 24, 2013, 07:03:18 PM »

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/05/24/Obama-s-Commerce-Secretary-Didn-t-Report-80-Million-In-Income



lmfao!!!!    Obama for the little guy!   Roll Eyes
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« Reply #1877 on: May 26, 2013, 04:58:59 AM »

http://shoebat.com/2013/05/24/obamas-brother-works-with-man-who-attacked-us-embassy


Nice.   Obamas brother works with radical muslims.
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« Reply #1878 on: May 28, 2013, 03:23:12 AM »

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/political-intelligence-firms-set-up-investor-meetings-at-white-house/2013/05/26/73b06528-bccb-11e2-9b09-1638acc3942e_story.html


Corruption the Obama way
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« Reply #1879 on: May 29, 2013, 09:04:47 AM »

Lisa Jackson To Join Apple After Serving As EPA Chief


The Huffington Post  |  By James Gerken Posted: 05/29/2013 10:56 am EDT  |  Updated: 05/29/2013 11:03 am EDT

Former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)


Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson will be joining Apple, CEO Tim Cook announced Tuesday. The news came at All Things Digital's D11 conference in Southern Calif.

Jackson will coordinate environmental practices for the company, All Things D reported. “Apple has shown how innovation can drive real progress by removing toxics from its products, incorporating renewable energy in its data center plans, and continually raising the bar for energy efficiency in the electronics industry,” she told Politico in an email.

Apple's 2012 environmental report showed all of the company's data centers, and 75 percent of all facilities, were powered by renewable energy. Yet Apple's overall estimated greenhouse gas emissions rose 34 percent between 2011 and 2012. Apple explains 98 percent of its carbon footprint comes from "the manufacturing, transportation, use and recycling," of its products.

Politico notes the company left the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2009 after comments from the group "opposing the EPA's effort to limit greenhouse gases," according to Apple's resignation letter.

Jackson stepped down from her role as EPA chief in February, after serving for four years. Her replacement at the EPA, Gina McCarthy, is currently awaiting confirmation from the full Senate. McCarthy's nomination was approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on May 16 after an initial boycott from Republicans.
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« Reply #1880 on: May 30, 2013, 08:45:16 AM »



Capital Flows, Contributor

 Select commentary curated by the Opinions editors


Op/Ed

|

 5/30/2013 @ 6:00AM |16,392 views

Obamacare's Slush Fund Fuels A Broader Lobbying Controversy















Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at the White House (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Stuart Taylor

A little-noticed part of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act channels some $12.5 billion into a vaguely defined “Prevention and Public Health Fund” over the next decade–and some of that money is going for everything from massage therapists who offer “calming techniques,” to groups advocating higher state and local taxes on tobacco and soda, and stricter zoning restrictions on fast-food restaurants.

The program, which is run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has raised alarms among congressional critics, who call it a “slush fund,” because the department can spend the money as it sees fit and without going through the congressional appropriations process. The sums involved are vast. By 2022, the department will be able to spend $2 billion per year at its sole discretion. In perpetuity.

What makes the Prevention and Public Health Fund controversial is its multibillion-dollar size, its unending nature (the fund never expires), and its vague spending mandate: any program designed “to improve health and help restrain the rate of, growth” of health-care costs.  That can include anything from “pickleball” (a racquet sport) in Carteret County, N.C. to Zumba (a dance fitness program), kayaking and kickboxing in Waco, TX.

“It’s totally crazy to give the executive branch $2 billion a year ad infinitum to spend as they wish,” said budget expert Jim Capretta of the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center. “Congress has the power of the purse, the purpose of which is to insure that the Executive branch is using taxpayer resources as Congress specified.”

The concerns are as diverse as the critics. The HHS Inspector General, in a 2012 “alert,” was concerned that the payments to third-party groups came dangerously close to taxpayer-funded lobbying. While current law bars lobbying with federal money, Obama administration officials and Republican lawmakers differ on where lawful “education” ends and illicit “lobbying” begins.  Nor have federal courts defined “lobbying” for the purposes of this fund. A health and Human Services (HHS) department spokesman denies that any laws were broken and the inspector general is continuing to investigate.

Republicans in both the House of Representatives and Senate have complained that much of the spending seems politically motivated and are alarmed that some of the federal money went to groups who described their own activities as contacting state, city and county lawmakers to urge higher taxes on high-calorie sodas and tobacco, or to call for bans on fast-food restaurants within 1,000-feet of a school, or total bans on smoking in outdoor venues, such as beaches or parks. In a May 9 letter to HHS Secretary Sebelius, Rep. Fred Upton (R,Mich) wrote that HHS grants “appear to fund lobbying activities contrary to the laws, regulations, and guidance governing the use of federal funds.” His letter included the latest in a series of requests for more documents and complaints about responses to previous requests.

Some Democrats, including Obamacare champion Sen. Tom Harkin (D, Iowa), are extremely unhappy with another use of Prevention Fund money. The Obama Administration plans to divert $453.8 million this year from that fund to use for administrative and promotional efforts to enroll millions of people in health insurance exchanges that are said to be vital to Obamacare’s success. Harkin calls this shift, which has not been authorized by Congress, “an outrageous attack on an investment fund that is saving lives.”

This extraordinary fund transfer coincides with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s much-criticized solicitation of health industry officials for large “voluntary” corporate donations — on top of hefty tax increases — to help implement Obamacare. Together, they give the appearance of a desperate Administration effort to avoid the kind of “train wreck” that Senator Max Baucus (D, Montana), a principal architect of Obamacare, recently said he fears. That’s also one reason why Republicans who want to kill Obamacare refuse to provide additional funding for the exchanges.

An HHS spokesperson responded to an inquiry about the “lobbying” complaints by saying that “HHS is committed to proper oversight and monitoring of appropriated funds, and to awardees’ compliance with all applicable regulations and statutes related to lobbying activities.” As to the shifting of the $453.8 million, the spokesman said that it was necessary “because Congress did not provide the resources requested” and it would help individuals “sign up for affordable health coverage by supporting . . . call centers that provide customer service, consumer education and outreach.”

The lobbying controversy is akin to conservative complaints about the 2009 “stimulus” legislation, in which HHS directed some $373 million to a “Communities Putting Prevention to Work” fund to states, counties and cities and then onto to health advocacy organizations described in a Wall Street Journal editorial as “liberal pressure groups lobbying for fast-food taxes.”

With those stimulus grants largely spent, the Administration has used Prevention Fund money — dispensing more than $290 million in fiscal 2012 and 2013 combined — for very similar “Community Transformation Grants.”  As in the case of the earlier grants, HHS made the grants through the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Public documents, including CDC descriptions of grants’ goals as well as the reports that grantees must file, are honeycombed with references to seeking state and local policy changes, such as tax hikes on sugary beverages and tobacco and zoning restrictions on fast-food establishments.

Congressional investigators point to documents and federal websites, which detail the spending that critics call “illegal lobbying.” A few of the more than 100 examples cited by critics:
•In Washington state, the Prevention Alliance, a coalition of health-focused groups, reported in notes of a June 22, 2012 meeting that the funding for its initial work came from a $3.3 million Obamacare grant to the state Department of Health. It listed a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB), “tobacco taxes,” and increasing “types of outdoor venues where tobacco use is prohibited” as among “the areas of greatest interest and potential for progress.”
•The Sierra Health Foundation, in Sacramento, which received a $500,000 grant. in March 2013, described its plans to “seek local zoning changes to disallow fast food establishments within 1,000 feet of a school and to limit the number of fast food outlets,” along with restrictions on fast food advertising. A $3 million grant to New York City was used to “educate leaders and decision makers about, and promote the effective implementation of. . . a tax to substantially increase the price of beverages containing caloric sweetener.”
•A Cook County, Ill. report says that part of a $16 million grant “educated policymakers on link between SSBs [sugar-sweetened beverages] and obesity, economic impact of an SSB tax, and importance of investing revenue into prevention.” More than $12 million in similar grants went to groups in King County, Wash. to push for changes in “zoning policies to locate fast-food retailers farther from . . . schools.” And Jefferson County, Ala., spent part of a $7 million federal grant promoting the passage of a tobacco excise tax by the state legislature.

Among those who have expressed concern about questionable and possibly illegal use of Obamacare Prevention Fund money to lobby — an ambiguous term that the Administration interprets narrowly and its critics broadly — are HHS Inspector General Daniel Levinson; Sen. Susan Collins (R, Maine); and Chairmen Darrell Issa (R, CA) of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and Fred Upton (R, MI) of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Inspector General Levinson, a respected and veteran independent investigator, was first appointed to his position overseeing the vast HHS bureaucracy by President George W. Bush. He was retained in that job by President Obama, who also named him to the Government Accountability and Transparency Board. Last June 29, Levinson sent CDC Director Thomas Frieden an “EARLY ALERT.”

 It warned that reports posted by CDC grantees “contain numerous examples of activities that, on their face, may violate anti-lobbying provisions,” and that “some of the CDC information, as well as the non-CDC resource materials posted to the CDC web site, appear to authorize, or even encourage grantees to use grant funds for impermissible lobbying.” The “alert” said that the IG would continue to “evaluate more broadly” compliance with lobbying restrictions. A Levinson spokesman declined recently to elaborate.

Collins, a leading Senate moderate, cited copious evidence in a May 1, 2012 letter to Sebelius that CDC has provided “official guidance to grantees that appears to include an expectation that federal funds are to be used for strategies that result in changes to state and local policies and laws.”

While stressing strong support for “the wellness and prevention mission of the CDC,” Collins cited examples including a report to the agency by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, which received a $1.5 million CPPW anti-tobacco grant in 2010. Thanks to the federal money, the Health Department reported, “210 policy makers were contacted . . . 31 ordinances were passed . . . there were 26 community presentations made to local governments .. . and 16 additional ordinances were passed this quarter, for a cumulative total of 47.”

HHS and CDC say that not only have they heeded these complaints, but as HHS stressed in an April 1 letter to Upton, they have been committed all along to “proper oversight and management of appropriated funds, and to awardees’ compliance with all applicable regulations and statutes related to lobbying activities.”

Spending to influence state and local legislation, critics claim, violates a web of overlapping federal laws, beginning with the federal Anti-Lobbying Act of 1919, as amended in 2002, which says: “No part of the money appropriated by . . . Congress shall . . . be used directly or indirectly to pay for any personal service, . . . telephone, letter, printed or written matter, or other device, intended . . . to influence in any manner a member of Congress, a jurisdiction, or an official of any government, to favor, adopt, or oppose, by vote or otherwise, any legislation, law, ratification, policy, or appropriation.”

This language is clear, unambiguous, and much broader than the HHS regulations on lobbying. To be sure, these restrictions have long been interpreted narrowly by the executive branch, a bipartisan tradition that goes back at least to the administration of President George H.W. Bush. And the Justice Department has never enforced the law against anyone.

Still, the Sebelius interpretation of the Anti-Lobbying Act takes narrow interpretation to extremes, flying in the face of the statute’s very specific language. Sebelius testified on March 1, 2012 that the statute’s lobbying provisions don’t apply to “local lobbying” or lobbying by grantees, while acknowledging that a 2012 appropriation provision — which unlike the Anti-Lobbying Act provides no penalties for violators — barred such forms of lobbying.

HHS Assistant Secretary for Legislation Jim Esquea made a more detailed argument to the same effect in an April 1, 2013 letter to Rep. Upton, asserting that the statute prohibits “only large-scale, high-expenditure, ‘grass roots’ lobbying campaigns conducted by federal agencies that expressly encourage members of the public to contact their elected representatives with respect to legislative matters.”  But Esquea relied on strained interpretations of obsolete precedents predating major amendments that, in 2002, explicitly broadened the Anti-Lobbying Act to cover for the first time lobbying of state and local officials.

CDC guidelines permit the state and city agencies that it funds “to work directly on policy-related matters across their equivalent branches of state or local government.” That sounds reasonable enough. But to critics it sounds like the guidelines would allow, if not encourage, a city health department to spend federal money on lobbying (in the fullest sense of that word) state and local lawmakers to raise taxes on tobacco and sugary beverages.

Some grants seem to fit this interpretation. A $7.6 million CPPW grant to the County of St. Louis to fund an anti-smoking “Community Action Plan” for local activists. Under that plan, “the Leadership Team will meet with the Governor and state legislators to advocate for the repeal of [the state law] that prohibits municipalities from levying their own cigarette excise taxes.” In quarterly reports to CDC for late 2010 through mid-2012 on how it had spent the federal grant, St. Louis County said: “Leadership Team members . . . met with officials from two municipalities about adopting a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance. . . . Coalition members met with two County Council members and the County Executive about strengthening the County’s new smoke-free ordinance. . .. Several people, including restaurant owners, testified at three consecutive County Council meetings in support of removing exemptions from the County’s smoke-free ordinance.”

Finally, St. Louis County used almost $2 million of its federal grant to pay the public relations-lobbying firm Fleischman Hillard for a media campaign to strengthen an anti-smoking ordinance  and push related agendas.

Many grantees and the federal bureaucrats who finance them maintain that they can legally engage in efforts to “educate” both the public and officials about, say, the public health benefits of taxing tobacco and sugary beverages so as to reduce consumption. Chairman Upton, on the other hand, rejected in an August 2012 letter what he called “the improper distinction made by CDC between lobbying and ‘education campaigns.’ ”


 Enlisting other levels of government to do things [the federal government] can’t do openly on its own is the latest example of propaganda and politicizing efforts that only pretend to represent policy reform,” said Tom Miller, an expert in health policy and law at the American Enterprise Institute.

Other conservative health care policy advocates, such as Dr. Eric Novack, an orthopedic surgeon in Phoenix, complain that using federal dollars to lobby for more taxes and other liberal causes at the state and local levels is an abuse of power that skews the natural balance of state and local political forces. “With the hundreds of millions of state and federal dollars annually flowing their way, [health care advocates] are engaging in the lobbying equivalent of  ‘shock and awe’ to get ever more money for themselves and to thwart efforts at real reform”, said Dr. Novack.

Critics have also suggested that Sebelius (and Obama) “lack the legal authority,” as Rep. Issa put it in his April 19 letter to Sebelius, to divert $453.8 million in Prevention Fund dollars to help pay for the establishment and operation of health insurance exchanges. Argues Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, an Alexandria, Virginia-based health-care think tank:


“The Obama administration is being very creative in devising programs it says fit within the definitions of ‘prevention’ and ‘public health.’ The reality is that this is a slush fund.  The administration is using taxpayer dollars to further its political goals, without any congressional input.  That is an open invitation to misuse and abuse of taxpayer dollars.”
 
But short of an unlikely bipartisan agreement, there’s not much that anyone in Congress can do about such complaints.

Strikingly, the most passionate denunciations of the $453.8 million diversion have come from a senior Democrat, Sen. Tom Harkin, self-described author of the Prevention and Public Health title of the Affordable Care Act. Harkin succeeded the late Ted Kennedy, (D, MA) as Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and has vowed to carry on Kennedy’s legacy of seeking universal access to health care and, especially, full funding of prevention programs.

 “It is ill-advised and short-sighted to raid the Prevention Fund, which is making absolutely critical investments in preventing disease, saving lives, and keeping women and their families healthy,” Harkin said in his May 7 floor speech. “When it comes to Prevention, this Administration just doesn’t get it. . . . To slash money from this fund . . . is to cannibalize the Affordable Care Act in ways that will cost both money and lives. It is a violation of both the letter and spirit of this landmark law.”

In other words, the Democratic Chairman of the Health Committee is calling the Democratic President’s “raid” on the Prevention Fund illegal. But an HHS spokesperson counters that “this short term investment will result in a long-term public health gain by helping millions of people get access to care and improve our nation’s health.” Other officials stress that with an October 1 Obamacare deadline to start enrolling millions of individuals online, finding the money to create and implement the insurance exchanges is a major challenge to the success of Obamacare.

And money for setting up the exchanges is very, very short, despite an overall Obamacare price tag of trillions over coming years. One reason is that the Administration underestimated the cost, in part because contrary to its expectation, only 17 states have chosen to operate their own insurance exchanges. Another reason is Congress’s refusal to appropriate more money for such administrative expenses.

Meanwhile, it may not be easy to convince young or healthy people without employer-based insurance — especially men, and especially with incomes too high to qualify for Obamacare subsidies — that it would be a rational economic choice to buy a government-approved insurance policy costing (the Congressional Budget Office estimated in 2010) over $4,500 a year for an individual. By contrast, the Obamacare fine will be far smaller for some individuals.

The alternative choice of paying a relatively inexpensive Obamacare penalty for refusing to buy insurance may seem more attractive to many, especially after the Supreme Court stressed last June that such a choice carries no stigma of law-breaking. The Affordable Care Act set the penalty (which varies depending on income and the year) at only a fraction of what the insurance would cost people who don’t qualify for subsidies. At the same time, it guarantees a healthy person who chooses the penalty rather than the insurance the right to reverse course and buy the insurance at no extra cost not too long after he gets sick or injured.

So, as the Administration sets out to recruit enough young, healthy people to keep premiums from soaring, it may need every dollar it can find for advertising and outreach.

What some critics call a “slush fund,” may well turn out to be Obamacare’s own insurance policy.

Stuart Taylor, Jr. is a Nonresident Senior Fellow of the Brookings Institution.  The American Media Institute, a non-profit that promotes investigative journalism, contributed to this report.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 This article is available online at:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2013/05/30/obamacares-slush-fund-fuels-a-broader-lobbying-controversy/
 


 

 
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« Reply #1881 on: June 03, 2013, 09:12:54 PM »

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/06/03/192895/us-publishes-details-of-missile.html#.Ua1p-qN5mSN


Nice.   Obama loves to leak info when it benefits him personally.
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« Reply #1882 on: June 04, 2013, 04:37:10 AM »

Emails of top Obama appointees remain a mystery


Jun 4, 3:31 AM (ET)

By JACK GILLUM

 

WASHINGTON (AP) - Some of President Barack Obama's political appointees, including the Cabinet secretary for the Health and Human Services Department, are using secret government email accounts they say are necessary to prevent their inboxes from being overwhelmed with unwanted messages, according to a review by The Associated Press.

The scope of using the secret accounts across government remains a mystery: Most U.S. agencies have failed to turn over lists of political appointees' email addresses, which the AP sought under the Freedom of Information Act more than three months ago. The Labor Department initially asked the AP to pay more than $1 million for its email addresses.

The AP asked for the addresses following last year's disclosures that the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency had used separate email accounts at work. The practice is separate from officials who use personal, non-government email accounts for work, which generally is discouraged - but often happens anyway - due to laws requiring that most federal records be preserved.

The secret email accounts complicate an agency's legal responsibilities to find and turn over emails in response to congressional or internal investigations, civil lawsuits or public records requests because employees assigned to compile such responses would necessarily need to know about the accounts to search them. Secret accounts also drive perceptions that government officials are trying to hide actions or decisions.

"What happens when that person doesn't work there anymore? He leaves and someone makes a request (to review emails) in two years," said Kel McClanahan, executive director of National Security Counselors, an open government group. "Who's going to know to search the other accounts? You would hope that agencies doing this would keep a list of aliases in a desk drawer, but you know that isn't happening."

Agencies where the AP so far has identified secret addresses, including the Labor Department and HHS, said maintaining non-public email accounts allows senior officials to keep separate their internal messages with agency employees from emails they exchange with the public. They also said public and non-public accounts are always searched in response to official requests and the records are provided as necessary.

The AP couldn't independently verify the practice. It searched hundreds of pages of government emails previously released under the open records law and found only one instance of a published email with a secret address: an email from Labor Department spokesman Carl Fillichio to 34 coworkers in 2010 was turned over to an advocacy group, Americans for Limited Government. It included as one recipient the non-public address for Seth D. Harris, currently the acting labor secretary, who maintains at least three separate email accounts.

Google can't find any reference on the Internet to the secret address for HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Congressional oversight committees told the AP they were unfamiliar with the non-public government addresses identified so far by the AP.

Ten agencies have not yet turned over lists of email addresses, including the Environmental Protection Agency; the Pentagon; and the departments of Veterans Affairs, Transportation, Treasury, Justice, Housing and Urban Development, Homeland Security, Commerce and Agriculture. All have said they are working on a response to the AP.

White House spokesman Eric Schultz declined to comment.

A Treasury Department spokeswoman, Marissa Hopkins Secreto, referred inquiries to the agency's FOIA office, which said its technology department was still searching for the email addresses. Other departments, including Homeland Security, did not respond to questions from the AP about the delays of nearly three months. The Pentagon said it may have an answer by later this summer.

The Health and Human Services Department initially turned over to the AP the email addresses for roughly 240 appointees - except none of the email accounts for Sebelius, even one for her already published on its website. After the AP objected, it turned over three of Sebelius' email addresses, including a secret one. It asked the AP not to publish the address, which it said she used to conduct day-to-day business at the department. Most of the 240 political appointees at HHS appeared to be using only public government accounts.

The AP decided to publish the secret address for Sebelius - KGS2(at)hhs.gov - over the government's objections because the secretary is a high-ranking civil servant who oversees not only major agencies like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services but also the implementation of Obama's signature health care law. Her public email address is Kathleen.Sebelius(at)hhs.gov.

At least two other senior HHS officials - including Donald Berwick, former head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Gary Cohen, a deputy administrator in charge of implementing health insurance reform - also have secret government email addresses, according to the records obtained by the AP.

The Interior Department gave the AP a list of about 100 government email addresses for political appointees who work there but none for the interior secretary at the time, Ken Salazar, who has since resigned. Spokeswoman Jessica Kershaw said Salazar maintained only one email address while serving as secretary but she would not disclose it. She said the AP should ask for it under the Freedom of Information Act, which would take months longer.

The Labor Department initially asked the AP to pay just over $1.03 million when the AP asked for email addresses of political appointees there. It said it needed pull 2,236 computer backup tapes from its archives and pay 50 people to pore over old records. Those costs included three weeks to identify tapes and ship them to a vendor, and pay each person $2,500 for nearly a month's work. But under the department's own FOIA rules - which it cited in its letter to the AP - it is prohibited from charging news organizations any costs except for photocopies after the first 100 pages. The department said it would take 14 weeks to find the emails if the AP had paid the money.

Fillichio later acknowledged that the $1.03 million bill was a mistake and provided the AP with email addresses for the agency's Senate-confirmed appointees, including three addresses for Harris, the acting secretary. His secret address was harris.sd(at)dol.gov. His other accounts were one for use with labor employees and the public, and another to send mass emails to the entire Labor Department, outside groups and the public. The Labor Department said it did not object to the AP publishing any of Harris' email addresses.

In addition to the email addresses, the AP also sought records government-wide about decisions to create separate email accounts. But the FOIA director at HHS, Robert Eckert, said the agency couldn't provide such emails without undergoing "an extensive and elongated department-wide search." He also said there were "no mechanisms in place to determine if such requests for the creation of secondary email accounts were submitted by the approximately 242 political appointees within HHS."

Late last year, the EPA's critics - including Republicans in Congress - accused former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson of using an email account under the name "Richard Windsor" to sidestep disclosure rules. The EPA said emails Jackson sent using her Windsor alias were turned over under open records requests. The agency's inspector general is investigating the use of such accounts, after being asked to do so by Congress.

An EPA spokeswoman described Jackson's alternate email address as "an everyday, working email account of the administrator to communicate with staff and other government officials." It was later determined that Jackson also used the email address to correspond sometimes with environmentalists outside government and at least in some cases did not correct a misperception among outsiders they were corresponding with a government employee named Richard Windsor.

Although the EPA's inspector general is investigating the agency's use of secret email accounts, it is not reviewing whether emails from Jackson's secret account were released as required under the Freedom of Information Act.

The EPA's secret email accounts were revealed last fall by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank that was tipped off about Jackson's alias by an insider and later noticed it in documents it obtained the FOIA. The EPA said its policy was to disclose in such documents that "Richard Windsor" was actually the EPA administrator.

Courts have consistently set a high bar for the government to withhold public officials' records under the federal privacy rules. A federal judge, Marilyn Hall Patel of California, said in August 2010 that "persons who have placed themselves in the public light" - such as through politics or voluntarily participation in the public arena - have a "significantly diminished privacy interest than others." Her ruling was part of a case in which a journalist sought FBI records, but was denied.

"We're talking about an email address, and an email address given to an individual by the government to conduct official business is not private," said Aaron Mackey, a FOIA attorney with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. He said that's different than, for example, confidential information, such as a Social Security number.

Under the law, citizens and foreigners may use the FOIA to compel the government to turn over copies of federal records for zero or little cost. Anyone who seeks information through the law is generally supposed to get it unless disclosure would hurt national security, violate personal privacy or expose business secrets or confidential decision-making in certain areas.

Obama pledged during his first week in office to make government more transparent and open. The nation's signature open-records law, he said in a memo to his Cabinet, would be "administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails."

---

Contact the Washington investigative team at DCinvestigations(at)ap.org. Follow Jack Gillum on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jackgillum


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« Reply #1883 on: June 04, 2013, 05:37:27 AM »

So much for transparency.

And before any of you libtards claims that Bush or other cabinets did the same thing, let me cut you off by telling you that none of the previous presidents constantly claimed that they would have the most transparent administration ever. Obama stated as much. So is he living up to his own standard?

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zw04chdCVXQ" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zw04chdCVXQ</a>
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« Reply #1884 on: June 04, 2013, 06:44:20 AM »

So much for transparency.

And before any of you libtards claims that Bush or other cabinets did the same thing, let me cut you off by telling you that none of the previous presidents constantly claimed that they would have the most transparent administration ever. Obama stated as much. So is he living up to his own standard?

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zw04chdCVXQ" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zw04chdCVXQ</a>

Nope.

Obama is full of shit on this issue.
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« Reply #1885 on: June 04, 2013, 06:48:23 AM »

Obama Political Appointees Using Secret Email Accounts


By JACK GILLUM 06/04/13 08:03 AM ET EDT AP



 

WASHINGTON -- Some of President Barack Obama's political appointees, including the secretary for Health and Human Services, are using secret government email accounts they say are necessary to prevent their inboxes from being overwhelmed with unwanted messages, according to a review by The Associated Press.

The scope of using the secret accounts across government remains a mystery: Most U.S. agencies have failed to turn over lists of political appointees' email addresses, which the AP sought under the Freedom of Information Act more than three months ago. The Labor Department initially asked the AP to pay more than $1 million for its email addresses.

The AP asked for the addresses following last year's disclosures that the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency had used separate email accounts at work. The practice is separate from officials who use personal, non-government email accounts for work, which generally is discouraged – but often happens anyway – due to laws requiring that most federal records be preserved.

The secret email accounts complicate an agency's legal responsibilities to find and turn over emails in response to congressional or internal investigations, civil lawsuits or public records requests because employees assigned to compile such responses would necessarily need to know about the accounts to search them. Secret accounts also drive perceptions that government officials are trying to hide actions or decisions.

"What happens when that person doesn't work there anymore? He leaves and someone makes a request (to review emails) in two years," said Kel McClanahan, executive director of National Security Counselors, an open government group. "Who's going to know to search the other accounts? You would hope that agencies doing this would keep a list of aliases in a desk drawer, but you know that isn't happening."

Agencies where the AP so far has identified secret addresses, including the Labor Department and HHS, said maintaining non-public email accounts allows senior officials to keep separate their internal messages with agency employees from emails they exchange with the public. They also said public and non-public accounts are always searched in response to official requests and the records are provided as necessary.

The AP couldn't independently verify the practice. It searched hundreds of pages of government emails previously released under the open records law and found only one instance of a published email with a secret address: an email from Labor Department spokesman Carl Fillichio to 34 coworkers in 2010 was turned over to an advocacy group, Americans for Limited Government. It included as one recipient the non-public address for Seth D. Harris, currently the acting labor secretary, who maintains at least three separate email accounts.

Google can't find any reference on the Internet to the secret address for HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Congressional oversight committees told the AP they were unfamiliar with the non-public government addresses identified so far by the AP.

Ten agencies have not yet turned over lists of email addresses, including the Environmental Protection Agency; the Pentagon; and the departments of Veterans Affairs, Transportation, Treasury, Justice, Housing and Urban Development, Homeland Security, Commerce and Agriculture. All have said they are working on a response to the AP.


White House spokesman Eric Schultz declined to comment.

A Treasury Department spokeswoman, Marissa Hopkins Secreto, referred inquiries to the agency's FOIA office, which said its technology department was still searching for the email addresses. Other departments, including Homeland Security, did not respond to questions from the AP about the delays of nearly three months. The Pentagon said it may have an answer by later this summer.

The Health and Human Services Department initially turned over to the AP the email addresses for roughly 240 appointees – except none of the email accounts for Sebelius, even one for her already published on its website. After the AP objected, it turned over three of Sebelius' email addresses, including a secret one. It asked the AP not to publish the address, which it said she used to conduct day-to-day business at the department. Most of the 240 political appointees at HHS appeared to be using only public government accounts.

The AP decided to publish the secret address for Sebelius – KGS2(at)hhs.gov – over the government's objections because the secretary is a high-ranking civil servant who oversees not only major agencies like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services but also the implementation of Obama's signature health care law. Her public email address is Kathleen.Sebelius(at)hhs.gov.

At least two other senior HHS officials – including Donald Berwick, former head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Gary Cohen, a deputy administrator in charge of implementing health insurance reform – also have secret government email addresses, according to the records obtained by the AP.

The Interior Department gave the AP a list of about 100 government email addresses for political appointees who work there but none for the interior secretary at the time, Ken Salazar, who has since resigned. Spokeswoman Jessica Kershaw said Salazar maintained only one email address while serving as secretary but she would not disclose it. She said the AP should ask for it under the Freedom of Information Act, which would take months longer.

The Labor Department initially asked the AP to pay just over $1.03 million when the AP asked for email addresses of political appointees there. It said it needed pull 2,236 computer backup tapes from its archives and pay 50 people to pore over old records. Those costs included three weeks to identify tapes and ship them to a vendor, and pay each person $2,500 for nearly a month's work. But under the department's own FOIA rules – which it cited in its letter to the AP – it is prohibited from charging news organizations any costs except for photocopies after the first 100 pages. The department said it would take 14 weeks to find the emails if the AP had paid the money.

Fillichio later acknowledged that the $1.03 million bill was a mistake and provided the AP with email addresses for the agency's Senate-confirmed appointees, including three addresses for Harris, the acting secretary. His secret address was harris.sd(at)dol.gov. His other accounts were one for use with labor employees and the public, and another to send mass emails to the entire Labor Department, outside groups and the public. The Labor Department said it did not object to the AP publishing any of Harris' email addresses.

In addition to the email addresses, the AP also sought records government-wide about decisions to create separate email accounts. But the FOIA director at HHS, Robert Eckert, said the agency couldn't provide such emails without undergoing "an extensive and elongated department-wide search." He also said there were "no mechanisms in place to determine if such requests for the creation of secondary email accounts were submitted by the approximately 242 political appointees within HHS."

Late last year, the EPA's critics – including Republicans in Congress – accused former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson of using an email account under the name "Richard Windsor" to sidestep disclosure rules. The EPA said emails Jackson sent using her Windsor alias were turned over under open records requests. The agency's inspector general is investigating the use of such accounts, after being asked to do so by Congress.

An EPA spokeswoman described Jackson's alternate email address as "an everyday, working email account of the administrator to communicate with staff and other government officials." It was later determined that Jackson also used the email address to correspond sometimes with environmentalists outside government and at least in some cases did not correct a misperception among outsiders they were corresponding with a government employee named Richard Windsor.

Although the EPA's inspector general is investigating the agency's use of secret email accounts, it is not reviewing whether emails from Jackson's secret account were released as required under the Freedom of Information Act.

The EPA's secret email accounts were revealed last fall by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank that was tipped off about Jackson's alias by an insider and later noticed it in documents it obtained the FOIA. The EPA said its policy was to disclose in such documents that "Richard Windsor" was actually the EPA administrator.

Courts have consistently set a high bar for the government to withhold public officials' records under the federal privacy rules. A federal judge, Marilyn Hall Patel of California, said in August 2010 that "persons who have placed themselves in the public light" – such as through politics or voluntarily participation in the public arena – have a "significantly diminished privacy interest than others." Her ruling was part of a case in which a journalist sought FBI records, but was denied.

"We're talking about an email address, and an email address given to an individual by the government to conduct official business is not private," said Aaron Mackey, a FOIA attorney with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. He said that's different than, for example, confidential information, such as a Social Security number.

Under the law, citizens and foreigners may use the FOIA to compel the government to turn over copies of federal records for zero or little cost. Anyone who seeks information through the law is generally supposed to get it unless disclosure would hurt national security, violate personal privacy or expose business secrets or confidential decision-making in certain areas.

Obama pledged during his first week in office to make government more transparent and open. The nation's signature open-records law, he said in a memo to his Cabinet, would be "administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails."

___

Contact the Washington investigative team at DCinvestigations(at)ap.org. Follow Jack Gillum on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jackgillum
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« Reply #1886 on: June 04, 2013, 06:54:06 AM »

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/04/obama-email_n_3382900.html

LOL - Most transparent ever. 
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« Reply #1887 on: June 04, 2013, 08:23:14 AM »

The Obama Administration’s secret email network

Via Human Events   


By: John Hayward   
6/4/2013 09:03 AM


We had a few laughs yesterday when it was discovered that the phony Environmental Protection Agency employee created by disgraced administrator Lisa Jackson to conceal some of her email correspondence was treated like a real person by the bureaucracy, winning awards for his job performance and ethical conduct.  But today we have an Associated Press report that is no laughing matter, because it turns out the use of secret email addresses to skirt federal records law is a widespread practice among the Most Transparent Administration In History:


Some of President Barack Obama’s political appointees, including the Cabinet secretary for the Health and Human Services Department, are using secret government email accounts they say are necessary to prevent their inboxes from being overwhelmed with unwanted messages, according to a review by The Associated Press.

The scope of using the secret accounts across government remains a mystery: Most U.S. agencies have failed to turn over lists of political appointees’ email addresses, which the AP sought under the Freedom of Information Act more than three months ago. The Labor Department initially asked the AP to pay more than $1 million for its email addresses.

Oh, they just want to keep their inboxes clean, do they?  These tech-savvy disciples of our hip Internet-era President – beloved by a generation of young people who grew up in a sea of social media – have never heard of spam filters, labeling, priority inboxes, etc?  Their huge armies of assistants can’t help them set those things up?

If only Ambassador Chris Stevens had known one of Hillary Clinton’s special regime email addresses!  Then he could have bypassed her overflowing State Department inbox to tell her about the dangerous security situation in Benghazi and request more protection!

The true purpose of these secret email addresses is blatantly obvious, coming as it does from a scandal-plagued Administration where top figures – including the President himself – routinely claim they’re out of the loop:


The secret email accounts complicate an agency’s legal responsibilities to find and turn over emails in response to congressional or internal investigations, civil lawsuits or public records requests because employees assigned to compile such responses would necessarily need to know about the accounts to search them. Secret accounts also drive perceptions that government officials are trying to hide actions or decisions.

“What happens when that person doesn’t work there anymore? He leaves and someone makes a request (to review emails) in two years,” said Kel McClanahan, executive director of National Security Counselors, an open government group. “Who’s going to know to search the other accounts? You would hope that agencies doing this would keep a list of aliases in a desk drawer, but you know that isn’t happening.”

Remember, the only reason Attorney General Eric Holder wasn’t convicted of perjury in the Fast and Furious outrage is that he claimed he never reads his email, and has no idea what his subordinates are doing.  A network of secret, untraceable email addresses is just the thing for preserving that kind of deniability.  And of course, this secret correspondence is flying around an Administration that has proven very eager to snoop on the emails of people like reporter James Rosen of Fox News.

Another scandal defense commonly offered by top Obama Administration officials is that nobody talks to anyone else – there’s no coordination between various agencies, even when they’re supposed to be working under an operation like the Department of Homeland Security, which was specifically created to foster efficient inter-agency communication.  Well, maybe one reason for that poor communication is that nobody’s reading their official, public email.  They think everything important will be coming into those special concealed inboxes, but they have so many alternate addresses that they can’t keep them all straight.

The Administration claimed these secret email accounts “are always searched in response to official requests and the records are provided as necessary,” but the AP knocked that lie down immediately:


The AP couldn’t independently verify the practice. It searched hundreds of pages of government emails previously released under the open records law and found only one instance of a published email with a secret address: an email from Labor Department spokesman Carl Fillichio to 34 coworkers in 2010 was turned over to an advocacy group, Americans for Limited Government. It included as one recipient the non-public address for Seth D. Harris, currently the acting labor secretary, who maintains at least three separate email accounts.

Google can’t find any reference on the Internet to the secret address for HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Congressional oversight committees told the AP they were unfamiliar with the non-public government addresses identified so far by the AP.

The Obama regime handled the Associated Press inquiry with its customary level of honesty and efficiency:


Ten agencies have not yet turned over lists of email addresses, including the Environmental Protection Agency; the Pentagon; and the departments of Veterans Affairs, Transportation, Treasury, Justice, Housing and Urban Development, Homeland Security, Commerce and Agriculture. All have said they are working on a response to the AP.

White House spokesman Eric Schultz declined to comment.

A Treasury Department spokeswoman, Marissa Hopkins Secreto, referred inquiries to the agency’s FOIA office, which said its technology department was still searching for the email addresses. Other departments, including Homeland Security, did not respond to questions from the AP about the delays of nearly three months. The Pentagon said it may have an answer by later this summer.

The Health and Human Services Department initially turned over to the AP the email addresses for roughly 240 appointees – except none of the email accounts for Sebelius, even one for her already published on its website. After the AP objected, it turned over three of Sebelius’ email addresses, including a secret one. It asked the AP not to publish the address, which it said she used to conduct day-to-day business at the department. Most of the 240 political appointees at HHS appeared to be using only public government accounts.

OK, let me see if I have this right: the Administration says all this secret email correspondence is routinely searched in response to FOIA requests… but their IT nerds can’t even cough up a list of alternate email addresses after three months of effort?  The reason Labor tried to charge the AP a million bucks for that list of email addresses – even though its FOIA rules prevent it from charging such fees – is that it would have to “pull 2,236 computer backup tapes from its archives and pay 50 people to pore over old records.  Labor said it would take three weeks just to find these tapes, and 14 weeks to find all the emails.  But these same bureaucrats claim they scan all the secret email correspondence every time anyone files a FOIA request for anything.

I have an idea: instead of paying a huge team of technicians to pull thousands of backup tapes, why don’t we just compel the President and his top people to hand over their digital address books?  A lot of them know each other’s secret email addresses, right?

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius – currently under investigation for leaning on the health insurance companies she regulates for extra ObamaCare cash – turns out to have at least three email addresses, including a secret one.  Her department comically tried to hide one of the other addresses from the AP inquiry, even though it was published on the HHS website.  Then they asked the AP not to publish the secret address, but they did it anyway.

We know former EPA Administration Lisa Jackson was using her secret email address to communicate with special interests – namely the environmentalist groups that hate being referred to as “special interests,” a term they believe should be reserved for their political adversaries.  Was Sebelius also using secret channels to make corrupt arrangements with special interests?  How about the rest of Obama’s team at the agency that became the most powerful bureaucracy on the planet, thanks to ObamaCare?  We may never know, because the FOIA director for the agency claims there are “no mechanisms in place to determine if such requests for the creation of secondary email accounts were submitted by the approximately 242 political appointees within HHS.”

Say, does everyone remember liberals have a nuclear meltdown over Sarah Palin’s emails?  Remember how the media crowd-sourced a gigantic fishing expedition through her correspondence when she released it?  What do you think about the Obama Administration’s huge network of secret email addresses and untraceable correspondence, guys?  I’ll understand if you want to avoid the question.  Maybe you could change the subject by running another series of White House-coordinated stories about how the Republicans are “overreaching” by making a big deal about all these scandals.
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« Reply #1888 on: June 12, 2013, 01:10:10 PM »

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-12/tougher-regulations-seen-from-obama-change-in-carbon-cost.html


 Sad  Sad  Sad
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« Reply #1889 on: June 18, 2013, 09:44:50 AM »

Alan Grayson On Trans-Pacific Partnership: Obama Secrecy Is 'Assault On Democratic Government'


 Posted: 06/18/2013 11:24 am EDT  |  Updated: 06/18/2013 11:32 am EDT 

Via HP
 

WASHINGTON -- Progressive Democrats in Congress are ramping up pressure on the Obama administration to release the text of Trans-Pacific Partnership, a secretive free trade agreement with 10 other nations, amid intensifying controversy over the administration's transparency record and its treatment of classified information.

The only publicly available information on the terms of the deal has come from leaks, some of which have alarmed public health experts, environmentalist groups and consumer advocates. According to a document leaked in the summer of 2012, the deal would allow corporations to directly challenge government laws and regulations in international courts.

Members of Congress have been provided with only limited access to the negotiation documents. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) told HuffPost on Monday that he viewed an edited version of the negotiation texts last week, but that secrecy policies at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative created scheduling difficulties that delayed his access for nearly six weeks. The Obama administration has barred any Congressional staffers from reviewing the text and prohibited members of Congress from discussing the specific terms of the text with trade experts and reporters.


"This, more than anything, shows the abuse of the classified information system," Grayson told HuffPost. "They maintain that the text is classified information. And I get clearance because I'm a member of Congress, but now they tell me that they don't want me to talk to anybody about it because if I did, I'd be releasing classified information."

How and why the administration decides to make information classified has come under intense scrutiny in recent months, after the Associated Press learned that the Department of Justice had been monitoring the records of more than 20 phone numbers -- including the personal phones of reporters and editors -- as part of a government leak investigation. Edward Snowden's recent disclosures of two broad National Security Agency surveillance programs to The Guardian and The Washington Post have sparked a heated debate over what kinds of leaks should be prosecuted as criminal.

"What I saw was nothing that could possibly justify the secrecy that surrounds it," Grayson said, referring to the draft Trans-Pacific deal. "It is ironic in a way that the government thinks it's alright to have a record of every single call that an American makes, but not alright for an American citizen to know what sovereign powers the government is negotiating away."

The Trans-Pacific deal would be one of the largest trade deals in U.S. history, with 11 nations including Japan, Mexico, Vietnam and Australia involved in the talks. The Obama administration has been leading negotiations on the deal for roughly three years.

When the intellectual property chapter of the deal leaked online more than a year ago, internet freedom advocates criticized the provisions as problematic for tech companies and free speech, while public health experts said it would dramatically restrict access to lifesaving medicines in poor countries. It is not clear if those terms have changed over time.

"Having seen what I've seen, I would characterize this as a gross abrogation of American sovereignty," Grayson told HuffPost. "And I would further characterize it as a punch in the face to the middle class of America. I think that's fair to say from what I've seen so far. But I'm not allowed to tell you why!"

Unelected corporate officials are given access to negotiation documents by virtue of their positions on U.S. Trade Representative advisory panels. On Thursday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent a letter to Michael Froman, Obama's nominee to head USTR, asking the agency to release negotiation documents to the public.

USTR spokeswoman Carol Guthrie told The Huffington Post that her office is discussing Warren's request with the senator.

Guthrie said that the text reviewed by such members of Congress, "does not indicate which countries have proposed which text" a process that is "consistent with negotiating practice."

"When Members view text, USTR officials, often negotiators themselves, have always been provided to discuss the details and to answer their questions," she said in a statement to The Huffington Post. "Our bottom line is to negotiate the best deal for American workers and businesses. As with virtually any negotiation, a certain degree of confidentiality is necessary in order to allow frank, substantive, and productive conversations with other countries on sensitive issues and to work strategically to advance U.S. interests."

Grayson told HuffPost that the agreement would be very appealing to multinational corporations, but had very negative implications for the public interest on a variety of fronts.

"It's all about tying the hands of democratically elected governments, and shunting authority over to the nonelected for the benefit of multinational corporations," Grayson said. "It's an assault on democratic government."
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« Reply #1890 on: June 20, 2013, 07:51:05 AM »

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/06/19/ap-boss-blasts-justice-over-records-grab-says-move-gives-cover-to-dictatorships/?test=latestnews


no kidding - Obama sees himself as a mini-Mugabe so this is not surprising in the least bit 
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« Reply #1891 on: June 20, 2013, 10:24:20 AM »

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/06/20/Obama-catholic-AMericans-religious-freedom

Unreal.  Wonder if this assface would say this to muuuuuusssslims
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« Reply #1892 on: June 22, 2013, 03:26:12 PM »

Obama Administration Sues Dollar General for Using Background Checks on Job Applicants
Gateway Pundit ^  | June 22, 2013 | Jim Hoft

Posted on Saturday, June 22, 2013 5:35:08 PM by Hojczyk

The Obama Administration sued Dollar General for using background checks on job applications because it’s racist. It’s now unlawful to discriminate against applicants who have committed a crime.

The Obama administration is suing Dollar General and a BMW facility in South Carolina for the alleged unfair use of criminal background checks for job applicants, months after warning companies about how such screenings can discriminate against African Americas.

The suits were filed June 11 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which last year issued new guidelines that cautioned against rejecting minority applicants who have committed a crime and recommended businesses eliminate policies that “exclude people from employment based on a criminal record.”

The suits have re-ignited concerns over such issues as potential federal overreach, the overlap of state and federal law and companies losing their rights to protect customers, workers and assets while trying to adhere to fair hiring practices.


(Excerpt) Read more at thegatewaypundit.com ...
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« Reply #1893 on: July 07, 2013, 10:57:07 AM »

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2013/07/06/the-insiders-whos-in-charge-at-the-white-house-the-clear-eyed-realists-or-the-delusional-obamaphiles


 Grin
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« Reply #1894 on: July 08, 2013, 11:20:07 AM »

http://dailycaller.com/2013/07/07/u-s-embassy-official-in-guyana-removed-in-alleged-sex-for-visas-swindle/#ixzz2YTK5ExiL


WTF!!!!

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« Reply #1895 on: July 08, 2013, 08:46:34 PM »

http://dailycaller.com/2013/07/08/krauthammer-on-obamacare-entire-enterprise-was-a-gigantic-bait-and-switch/?fb_action_ids=10151549075577424&fb_action_types=og.recommends&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=%7B%2210151549075577424%22%3A162306017285963%7D&action_type_map=%7B%2210151549075577424%22%3A%22og.recommends%22%7D&action_ref_map=%5B%5D


SUCKERS!!!
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« Reply #1896 on: July 09, 2013, 07:08:50 AM »

http://www.nationaljournal.com/domesticpolicy/white-house-has-known-for-months-obamacare-implementation-wouldn-t-work-20130709


Knew months ago OTWINKCARE does not work. 
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« Reply #1897 on: July 09, 2013, 08:07:19 AM »

Obama Is Embarrassed by Obamacare
Townhall.com ^  | July 9, 2013 | Phyllis Schlafly

Posted on Tuesday, July 09, 2013 11:04:15 AM by Kaslin



Barack Obama assured us that, after his signature legislation Obamacare went into effect, we would surely like it. Now Obama has decided he doesn't want us to find out how it affects us until after the 2014 elections.

Obamacare is designed to force employers of 50 or more full-time employees to provide comprehensive health insurance that includes a mandate to pay for an abortion-inducing drug. The penalty for non-compliance is a tax of $2,000 per fulltime employee per year (beyond the first 30), and the Internal Revenue Service was supposed to start collecting the penalties on Jan. 1.

Obama apparently thinks he can conceal the mess he created, which even the Democrats who voted for it now call a "train wreck," by simply postponing the effective date of the employer mandate one year. But the Obamacare law, as upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, unambiguously states: "EFFECTIVE DATE ... The amendments made by this section shall apply to months beginning after December 31, 2013."

Obama has no authority to alter the timetable of the law's implementation. Maybe he should actually read the 2,700 pages of text in the Obamacare law and its 20,000 pages of regulations.

Obama doesn't seem to care whether his order to delay Obamacare is lawful or not. He wants to avoid the trouble the destructive employer mandate would cause for Democratic candidates before the next election of the House of Representatives, an election he deems critical to his plan to "fundamentally transform the United States."

The postponement of the employer mandate is not the first setback to the Obamacare timeline. A few months ago, the Obama administration quietly announced that the federally run state-level exchanges will not offer a choice of plans to employees of small businesses until after the 2014 elections.

The one-year extension for employers will create havoc in the exchanges where individuals are supposed to buy next year's health insurance. The government admitted July 5 that it won't be able to verify whether applicants qualify for the subsidies that are supposed to make the required coverage "affordable" but plans to give out the subsidies anyway.

Meanwhile, Obamacare's expansion of Medicaid is being rejected by the states. After the Supreme Court's June 2012 decision in NFIB v. Sebelius gave states the OK to reject this expansion, 27 of 50 states did not implement Obamacare's Medicaid plan.

States were wise to reject this very expensive Medicaid expansion.

Obamacare required that anyone with income below 133 percent of the poverty level would be eligible for Medicaid and sought to expand eligibility to able-bodied, non-elderly, childless adults, that is, to people without dependents who were able but perhaps unwilling to support themselves.

In addition to having sections of Obamacare postponed and rejected outright, Obamacare is also failing to fulfill Obama's promise that it would decrease the deficit. The funds that were supposed to pay down the deficit included the money anticipated to flow from the penalty payments made by employers who refused to obey the mandate to provide comprehensive healthcare to their employees.

Now that employers will not be required to pay those fines in 2014 for violating the mandate, and indeed will not even be required to report whether they are complying, it is obvious that Obamacare will not produce the promised deficit reduction.

This isn't the first time Obama has taken actions that are clearly in violation of our laws. For example, two federal courts have ruled against him for making recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board while the Senate was not in recess.

Obama unlawfully removed the work requirement from the 1996 welfare reform law signed by President Bill Clinton, even though the law explicitly prohibits waivers to the work requirement. That reform required most welfare recipients to actually work or be in job training in order to receive welfare.

Obama simply used executive orders to pretend to legislate the DREAM Act, which Congress has repeatedly refused to pass. His bypassing of the law was so out of line that even his former economic adviser remarked, "I don't totally get how the president can do this through executive order."

Obama had the Department of Homeland Security implement key measures of the DREAM Act in order to essentially grant amnesty to many illegal aliens. Because of the large number of applications for amnesty, background checks were given up in favor of so-called "lean and lite" procedures.

By the way, that is exactly what will happen to background checks for the 11 million illegal aliens who hope to be granted U.S. residency by the amnesty bill now awaiting action in the House. If the background check of the Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev couldn't discover his obvious terrorist plans, what hope do we have for background checks of the 11 million?
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« Reply #1898 on: July 09, 2013, 03:14:06 PM »

Obama fundraiser tapped as ambassador to Britain

 
stumbleupon: Obama fundraiser tapped as ambassador to Britain    digg: US Works With Sudan Government Suspected Of Aiding Genocide    reddit: Obama fundraiser tapped as ambassador to Britain    del.icio.us: Obama fundraiser tapped as ambassador to Britain 
 
July 9, 2013 06:06 PM EST | AP


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



WASHINGTON — The White House says President Barack Obama has picked the finance chairman for his re-election campaign to be the U.S. ambassador to Britain.

Matthew Barzun, a business executive, has been confirmed by the Senate once before. He served as U.S. ambassador to Sweden until 2011, when he took the position as Obama's finance chairman.

The White House says Obama is also nominating John Phillips, an attorney who raised more than $500,000 for Obama's 2012 campaign, to be the U.S. envoy to Italy and the Republic of San Marino. He's currently the chairman of Obama's commission that selects candidates to be White House Fellows.

John Hoover, a veteran U.S. diplomat who served in Africa, Asia and Europe, is Obama's pick for Sierra Leone.
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« Reply #1899 on: July 10, 2013, 05:10:19 AM »

Experts: Obama’s plan to predict future leakers unproven, unlikely to work

      
Insider Threats

     

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The changing profile of a spy
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By Jonathan S. Landay and Marisa Taylor | McClatchy Washington Bureau




WASHINGTON —  In an initiative aimed at rooting out future leakers and other security violators, President Barack Obama has ordered federal employees to report suspicious actions of their colleagues based on behavioral profiling techniques that are not scientifically proven to work, according to experts and government documents.

The techniques are a key pillar of the Insider Threat Program, an unprecedented government-wide crackdown under which millions of federal bureaucrats and contractors must watch out for “high-risk persons or behaviors” among co-workers. Those who fail to report them could face penalties, including criminal charges.

Obama mandated the program in an October 2011 executive order after Army Pfc. Bradley Manning downloaded hundreds of thousands of documents from a classified computer network and gave them to WikiLeaks, the anti-government secrecy group. The order covers virtually every federal department and agency, including the Peace Corps, the Department of Education and others not directly involved in national security.
      
Under the program, which is being implemented with little public attention, security investigations can be launched when government employees showing “indicators of insider threat behavior” are reported by co-workers, according to previously undisclosed administration documents obtained by McClatchy. Investigations also can be triggered when “suspicious user behavior” is detected by computer network monitoring and reported to “insider threat personnel.”

Federal employees and contractors are asked to pay particular attention to the lifestyles, attitudes and behaviors – like financial troubles, odd working hours or unexplained travel – of co-workers as a way to predict whether they might do “harm to the United States.” Managers of special insider threat offices will have “regular, timely, and, if possible, electronic, access” to employees’ personnel, payroll, disciplinary and “personal contact” files, as well as records of their use of classified and unclassified computer networks, polygraph results, travel reports and financial disclosure forms.

Over the years, numerous studies of public and private workers who’ve been caught spying, leaking classified information, stealing corporate secrets or engaging in sabotage have identified psychological profiles that could offer clues to possible threats. Administration officials want government workers trained to look for such indicators and report them so the next violation can be stopped before it happens.

“In past espionage cases, we find people saw things that may have helped identify a spy, but never reported it,” said Gene Barlow, a spokesman for the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, which oversees government efforts to detect threats like spies and computer hackers and is helping implement the Insider Threat Program. “That is why the awareness effort of the program is to teach people not only what types of activity to report, but how to report it and why it is so important to report it.”

But even the government’s top scientific advisers have questioned these techniques. Those experts say that trying to predict future acts through behavioral monitoring is unproven and could result in illegal ethnic and racial profiling and privacy violations.

“There is no consensus in the relevant scientific community nor on the committee regarding whether any behavioral surveillance or physiological monitoring techniques are ready for use at all,” concluded a 2008 National Research Council report on detecting terrorists.

 

 TSA officers watch for suspicious behavior at airports (Carey Wagner/Sun Sentinel/MCT)

“Doing something similar about predicting future leakers seems even more speculative,” Stephen Fienberg, a professor of statistics and social science at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and a member of the committee that wrote the report, told McClatchy.

The emphasis on individual lifestyles, attitudes and behaviors comes at a time when growing numbers of Americans must submit to extensive background checks, polygraph tests and security investigations to be hired or to keep government or federal contracting jobs. The U.S. government is one of the world’s largest employers, overseeing an ever-expanding ocean of information.

While the Insider Threat Program mandates that the nearly 5 million federal workers and contractors with clearances undergo training in recognizing suspicious behavior indicators, it allows individual departments and agencies to extend the requirement to their entire workforces, something the Army already has done.

Training should address “current and potential threats in the work and personal environment” and focus on “the importance of detecting potential insider threats by cleared employees and reporting suspected activity to insider threat personnel and other designated officials,” says one of the documents obtained by McClatchy.

The White House, the Justice Department, the Peace Corps and the departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and Education refused to answer questions about the program’s implementation. Instead, they issued virtually identical email statements directing inquiries to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, declined to comment or didn’t respond.

Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said in her statement that the Insider Threat Program includes extra safeguards for “civil rights, civil liberties and privacy,” but she didn’t elaborate. Manning’s leaks to WikiLeaks, she added, showed that at the time protections of classified materials were “inadequate and put our nation’s security at risk.”

Reply from the National Security Council

Even so, the new effort failed to prevent former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden from taking top-secret documents detailing the agency’s domestic and international communications monitoring programs and leaking them to The Guardian and The Washington Post newspapers.

The initiative goes beyond classified information leaks. It includes as insider threats “damage to the United States through espionage, terrorism, unauthorized disclosure of national security information or through the loss or degradation of departmental resources or capabilities,” according to a document setting “Minimum Standards for Executive Branch Insider Threat Programs.”

McClatchy obtained a copy of the document, which was produced by an Insider Threat Task Force that was set up under Obama’s order and is headed by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Attorney General Eric Holder. McClatchy also obtained the group’s final policy guidance. The White House, the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined requests for both documents, neither of which is classified.

Although agencies and departments are still setting up their programs, some employees already are being urged to watch co-workers for “indicators” that include stress, divorce and financial problems.

When asked about the ineffectiveness of behavior profiling, Barlow said the policy “does not mandate” that employees report behavior indicators.

“It simply educates employees about basic activities or behavior that might suggest a person is up to improper activity,” he said.

“These do not require special talents. If you see someone reading classified documents they should not be reading, especially if this happens multiple times and the person appears nervous that you saw him, that is activity that is suspicious and should be reported,” Barlow said. “The insider threat team then looks at the surrounding facts and draws the conclusions about the activity.”

Departments and agencies, however, are given leeway to go beyond the White House’s basic requirements, prompting the Defense Department in its strategy to mandate that workers with clearances “must recognize the potential harm caused by unauthorized disclosures and be aware of the penalties they could face.” It equates unauthorized disclosures of classified information to “aiding the enemies of the United States.”



All departments and agencies involved in the program must closely track their employees’ online activities. The information gathered by monitoring, the administration documents say, “could be used against them in criminal, security, or administrative proceedings.” Experts who research such efforts say suspicious behaviors include accessing information that someone doesn’t need or isn’t authorized to see or downloading materials onto removable storage devices like thumb drives when such devices are restricted or prohibited.

“If you normally print 20 documents a week, well, what happens if the next week or the following week you have to print 50 documents or 100 documents? That could be at variance from your normal activity that could be identified and might be investigated,” said Randy Trzeciak, acting manager of the Computer Emergency Response Team Insider Threat Center at Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute.

“We’ve come up with patterns that we believe organizations might be able to consider when determining when someone might be progressing down the path to harm the organization,” said Trzeciak, whose organization has analyzed more than 800 cases and works with the government and private sector on cyber security.

But research and other programs that rely on profiling show it remains unproven, could make employees more resistant to reporting violations and might lead to spurious allegations.

The Pentagon, U.S. intelligence agencies and the Department of Homeland Security have spent tens of millions of dollars on an array of research projects. Yet after several decades, they still haven’t developed a list of behaviors they can use to definitively identify the tiny fraction of workers who might some day violate national security laws.

“We are back to the needle-in-a-haystack problem,” said Fienberg, the Carnegie Mellon professor.

“We have not found any silver bullets,” said Deana Caputo, the lead behavioral scientist at MITRE Corp., a nonprofit company working on insider threat efforts for U.S. defense, intelligence and law enforcement agencies. “We don’t have actually any really good profiles or pictures of a bad guy, a good guy gone bad or even the bad guy walking in to do bad things from the very beginning.”



Different agencies and departments have different lists of behavior indicators. Most have adopted the traditional red flags for espionage. They include financial stress, disregard for security practices, unexplained foreign travel, unusual work hours and unexplained or sudden wealth.

But agencies and their consultants have added their own indicators.

For instance, an FBI insider threat detection guide warns private security personnel and managers to watch for “a desire to help the ‘underdog’ or a particular cause,” a “James Bond Wannabe” and a “divided loyalty: allegiance to another person or company or to a country besides the United States.”

A report by the Deloitte consulting firm identifies “several key trends that are making all organizations particularly susceptible to insider threat today.” These trends include an increasingly disgruntled, post-Great Recession workforce and the entry of younger, “Gen Y” employees who were “raised on the Internet” and are “highly involved in social networking.”

Report from Deloitte

Some government programs that have embraced behavioral indicators have been condemned as failures. Perhaps the most heavily criticized is the Transportation Security Administration’s Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques, or SPOT, program.

The program, which has cost $878 million and employs 2,800 people, uses “behavior detection officers” to identify potential terrorists by scrutinizing airline passengers for signs of “stress, fear or deception.”

DHS’ inspector general excoriated the program, saying in a May 2013 report, “TSA cannot ensure that passengers at United States airports are screened objectively, show that the program is cost-effective or reasonably justify the program’s expansion.”

Interviews and internal complaints obtained by The New York Times quoted TSA officers as saying SPOT has led to ethnic and racial profiling by emphasizing certain profiles. They include Middle Easterners, Hispanics traveling to Miami and African-Americans wearing baseball caps backward.

Another problem with having employees report co-workers’ suspicious behaviors: They aren’t sure which ones represent security threats.

“Employees in the field are not averse to reporting genuine security infractions. In fact, under appropriate conditions they are quite willing to act as eyes and ears for the government,” said a 2005 study by the Pentagon’s Defense Personnel Security Research Center. “They are simply confused about precisely what is important enough to report. Many government workers anguish over reporting gray-area behaviors.”

Even so, the Pentagon is forging ahead with training Defense Department and contractor managers and security officials to set up insider threat offices, with one company emphasizing how its course is designed for novices.

“The Establishing an Insider Threat Program for Your Organization Course will take no more than 90 minutes to complete,” says the proposal.

Officials with the Army, the only government department contacted by McClatchy that agreed to discuss the issue, acknowledged that identifying potential insider threats is more complicated than relying on a list of behaviors.

Response from the Army

“What we really point out is if you’re in doubt, report, because that’s what the investigative personnel are there to do, is to get the bottom of ‘is this just noise or is this something that is really going on?’” said Larry Gillis, a senior Army counterintelligence and security official.

The Army implemented a tough program a year before Obama’s executive order after Maj. Nidal Hasan, a U.S.-born Muslim, allegedly killed 13 people in a 2009 rampage at Fort Hood, Texas. Hasan, who has not gone on trial, has said he was defending the Afghan Taliban.

Gillis said the Army didn’t want a program that would “get people to snitch on each other,” nor did it want to encourage stereotyping.

“We don’t have the luxury to make up reasons to throw soldiers out,” Gillis said. “It’s a big deal to remove a soldier from service over some minor issue. We don’t want to ruin a career over some false accusation.”

But some current and former U.S. officials and experts worry that Obama’s Insider Threat Program could lead to false or retaliatory accusations across the entire government, in part because security officials are granted access to information outside their usual purview.

These current and former U.S. officials and experts also ridiculed as overly zealous and simplistic the idea of using reports of suspicious behavior to predict potential insider threats. It takes years for professional spy-hunters to learn their craft, and relying on the observations of inexperienced people could lead to baseless and discriminatory investigations, they said.

“Anyone is an amateur looking at behavior here,” said Thomas Fingar, a former State Department intelligence chief who chaired the National Intelligence Council, which prepares top-secret intelligence analyses for the president, from 2005 to 2008.

Co-workers, Fingar said, should “be attentive” to colleagues’ personal problems in order to refer them to counseling, not to report them as potential security violators. “It’s simply because they are colleagues, fellow human beings,” he said.

Eric Feldman, a former inspector general of the National Reconnaissance Office, the super-secret agency that oversees U.S. spy satellites, expressed concern that relying on workers to report colleagues’ suspicious behaviors to security officials could create “a repressive kind of culture.”

“The answer to it is not to have a Stasi-like response,” said Feldman, referring to the feared secret police of communist East Germany. “You’ve removed that firewall between employees seeking help and the threat that any employee who seeks help could be immediately retaliated against by this insider threat office.”
 

   
Email: jlanday@mcclatchydc.com or mtaylor@mcclatchydc.com

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/07/09/196211/linchpin-for-obamas-plan-to-predict.html#storylink=cpy
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