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Sen. Paul Issues Response to FBI Correspondence on Drones

July 25, 2013 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Rand Paul today issued a follow-up letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding his concern over the use of FBI surveillance drones on U.S. soil.
Sen. Paul initiated correspondence on June 20, with a letter to Director Robert Mueller that included questions regarding the FBI’s governance policy on using drones on American soil.
After receiving no response from Director Mueller for weeks, on July 9, Sen. Paul sent a second letter to Director Mueller requesting immediate action to address his questions.
The director of legislative affairs at the FBI recently sent two responses, one classified and one unclassified, to answer Sen. Paul’s concerns. The content of the classified letter cannot be disclosed publicly, but a copy of the unclassified response can be found HERE.
The answers included in both letters were not sufficient to answering all of Sen. Paul’s questions, prompting him to send the following correspondence to the FBI this afternoon.

LETTER TEXT:
July 25, 2013

Robert S. Mueller
Director
Federal Bureau of Investigation
U.S. Department of Justice
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20535-0001

Dear Director Mueller,

I appreciate the response I received to my questions (from my letter dated July 9, 2013) relating to the agency’s use of drones, and also for your continued cooperation in communicating the rules and procedures that govern their use. Based on your reply, though, I did want to convey a follow-up question which I believe is important to the application of individual protections from warrantless government surveillance.

The FBI’s unclassified response letter maintained that the Bureau would acquire a warrant before using a drone to acquire information when an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy. While I agree that warrants should be used to approve information collection-including information collected through drone surveillance-this protection could be undercut by the Bureau’s interpretation of what constitutes a ‘reasonable expectation of privacy.’

Of note, the Bureau’s response also mentions that ‘there has been no need’ to seek a warrant or court order to use a drone in past examples. Instead of seeking court orders, the Bureau defers to an internal approval process it uses to protect privacy. Given that, first, the FBI will only seek a warrant if a reasonable expectation of privacy is assumed and, second, that the FBI has not felt it necessary to seek a warrant during past drone operations, it is important that you clarify your interpretation of …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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Sen. Rand Paul on Fox News' Hannity – 7/24/13

July 25, 2013 in Politics & Elections

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Source: RAND PAUL

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Eagle in a China Shop

July 25, 2013 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

One pervasive, troublesome feature of U.S. foreign policy is the tendency to view all countries as more or less coherent national entities. American officials and opinion leaders are “map centric.” If they look at a map and see an area bounded by solid lines with a large star somewhere in the center to mark the capital city, they assume it is a real country with a national identity. And the usual procedure is to regard the supposed leader, whether his title is president, king or some other honorific, residing in that capital as someone who exercises authority throughout the country.

But in many parts of the world, the Western concept of a nation-state is extremely weak. The primary loyalty of an inhabitant is more likely to be to an ethnic group, tribe, clan or religion than to a country. U.S. officials appear to have difficulty grasping that point, and as a result, the United States too often barges into fragile societies, disrupting what modest order may exist. America is the bull (or more accurately, the eagle) in the china shop, flailing about, breaking delicate political and social connections and disrupting domestic balances of power. Washington’s ambitious agenda typically is to try to forge or strengthen a cohesive national identity in client states, even when the real power and cohesion lies at the local or subregional level. The results have ranged from disappointing to calamitous.

The United States too often barges into fragile societies, disrupting what modest order may exist.”

U.S. interventions in Bosnia, Iraq and Libya illustrate Washington’s ill-advised approach and its consequences. And there are growing indications that the Obama administration is on the brink of making a similar blunder in Syria.

Even as U.S. officials watched the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, they insisted that the most dysfunctional of the successor states, Bosnia-Herzegovina, remain intact. That obsession, symbolized by the imposed Dayton Accords ending the civil war there has prolonged the agony of an inherent failed state. Bosnia is little more than a forced association of three bitterly antagonistic ethno-religious factions. When armed conflict began, Muslims made up a little over 40 percent of the population, Serbs constituted about one-third, and the remainder were primarily ethnic Croats.

The only faction that favored—and continues to favor—an intact Bosnia was the Muslim community. By having a plurality of the population, Muslims believed they would …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The Breadbasket Is Still a Basket Case

July 25, 2013 in Economics

By Marian L. Tupy

Marian L. Tupy

On July 31, 2013, Zimbabwe will hold regularly scheduled parliamentary and presidential elections, the first under its brand-new constitution. Robert Mugabe, the 89-year-old leader who transformed a country once known as the breadbasket of Africa into an African basket case, hopes to extend his 33-year-long hold on power. But standing in his way is Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai is an imperfect leader who has committed many strategic errors, splintering the opposition movement in the struggle against Mugabe. He is also a man who, in defense of freedom and democracy, has survived numerous alleged assassination attempts, and suffered both jail time and torture. Importantly, Tsvangirai also understands the need for economic freedom. He knows that in order to prosper, Zimbabwe will have to restore respect for property rights, shut down money-losing state-run enterprises, and dramatically improve the business environment. Zimbabwe could do much worse than to elect him to the presidency.

Zimbabwe is bouncing back from recent history’s most shocking economic slump. Or is it?”

Zimbabwe experienced a miserable decade between 1998 and 2008. During that time, its economy contracted at an annual rate of -6.09 percent. Next door, in Botswana and Mozambique, annual economic growth rates were 3.95 percent and 4.94 percent respectively. Zimbabwe’s per capita income fell from $1,640 to $661. In contrast, incomes in Botswana increased from $3,705 to $4,769. In Mozambique they rose from $1,428 to $2,400. As a consequence of economic contraction, Zimbabwe’s unemployment rate rose to an estimated 94 percent in 2008. While Zimbabwe rebounded somewhat from the low of 2008, its economy was 36 percent smaller in 2012 than it had been in 1998. The United Nations’ Human Development Index (HDI) — an approximate measure of a standard of living that is calculated on a scale from 0 to 1 — saw Zimbabwe decline from 0.376 in 2000 to 0.345 in 2008. The cholera outbreak of 2008 that afflicted thousands and killed hundreds of people merely confirmed the obvious: Zimbabwe was a failed country.

While the immediate cause of Zimbabwe’s economic implosion was the violent occupation and expropriation of white-owned commercial farms, the roots of the country’s economic problems were political. Robert Mugabe became prime minister and, later, president of Zimbabwe in 1980. An avowed communist, Mugabe was explicitly committed to turning Zimbabwe into a one-party Marxist state. By defeating the white-minority rule in what was once known …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Building a Wall around the Welfare State, Instead of the Country

July 25, 2013 in Economics

Economists generally believe that immigration increases the size of the economy, improves productivity, and is an economic boon for almost all parties. But critics of immigration reform worry about immigrants disproportionately consuming public benefits. In a new study, Cato scholar Alex Nowrasteh and Sophie Cole propose eliminating immigrant eligibility for a range of welfare programs, and shows how to implement those reforms. “Instead of trying in vain to halt immigration,” says Nowrasteh, “we should turn our energy toward reforming welfare, making it less accessible to all, eliminating it altogether, or lowering the benefit levels.”

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Source: CATO HEADLINES